Title: The 52nd
Author : Dela
Publisher :Wise Ink Creative Publishing
Release date : October 27th, 2014
Rating : 2/5
Synopsis (from Goodreads) :
Not one of the sacrifices chosen over the long history had survived–until now.
On the tip of the Yucatan peninsula, the immortal Castillo family gathers in Tulum. Weary and haunted, they receive the names of fifty-two human sacrifices chosen once every fifty-two years for the Underworld, a tradition thought to have disappeared with the fall of the Aztec and Mayan empires.
Driving home one night, college freshman Zara Moss swerves to avoid hitting a ghastly figure in the road. Lucas Castillo witnesses the car crash, but when it comes time to supervise her abduction from the wreckage, he intervenes. Something is different about Zara: Lucas has been having dreams of her arrival for five hundred years.
As Lucas and Zara come together to put an end to the bloody sacrifices, they discover that the ancient tradition isn’t so easily broken. The gods are angry, and they have until the Winter Solstice to drag Zara to the Underworld.
It just didn’t click.
During a time last year, I saw The 52nd a lot in my Instagram feed. And, just as expected, it heightened my enthusiasm toward it, I wanted to read, it couldn’t get in my hands fast enough. So when NetGalley kindly provided me with its e-book, I dove into it…and was fairly disappointed.
First of all, Zara, the main character, was horrible. Wait, maybe I’m being too harsh on her? She’s actually just the typical YA female protagonist. Okay no, I’m not being too harsh on her. No author would like their protagonist to be typical. It shows a lack of creativeness, a laziness on their part to think further. Zara is the “boys like me but I don’t know it” kind of girl. She’s the “I’m too cool to think about trivial things” kind of girl. But, really? Haha boy, I wouldn’t give a cent to date her, if I were interested. I mean, guys, look here: she’s so immature and thoughtless that you wouldn’t believe that she was in college. She doesn’t have the kind of behaviour that you would expect out of a college student, and believe me because I’m a college student myself, surrounded by other college students. And even college has its own flaws, because the author made it seem like high school.
Zara is also incredibly dependent. I mean, I could get it at a certain level: I still live with my parents, therefore I depend on them. But SHE is dependent on Lucas, THE LOVE INTEREST. She almost literally allowed all her actions to be dictated by Lucas. I know, I know, he knows about the danger, he’s lived for a long time and has experience, but she didn’t even question anything. What??? Can you think for yourself for just a second?? Ugh, I guess not.
However, I did like the inclusion of families in this story. Lucas’ and Zara’s families were involved, and that was a breath of fresh air, because you don’t usually see much of a family in YA works. Their plots usually mention families once, and then they’re stored in the background, or the protagonist deliberately shoves them aside because they “don’t understand” or “it would be dangerous for them”. So The 52nd was realistic in that aspect.
Speaking of which, romance was to be expected. But I think Dela could have skipped on her kind of romance. It was a teen angsty, love/hate, irritable relationship, which made me want to close my phone and go watch a movie instead. I didn’t ship them, couldn’t find it in me to be empathetic. So all in all, I really don’t think characters and their interpersonal relationships are Dela’s forte.
What I did like, though, was the cultural richness of the novel. I was so interested in the cultural rituals of the Aztecs that I had to do more research on it. It was really nice to encounter diversity and magical cultural elements in an era when it’s crucial to have representation. I really loved reading the scenes in Mexico; Dela really transported me to another place. However, there were some parts when the author just dumped information on us. It wasn’t well conveyed, it felt artificial. Maybe it was just bad editing, I don’t know.
The story wasn’t fantasy enough, despite the cultural addition. When I read the summary, I thought fantasy would take a great place in the plot, but mostly it revolved around Zara going to school and thinking about Lucas. Even the danger didn’t seem that dangerous. Again, The 52nd felt like a cheap, lazy try at writing good YA fantasy.
I will say this, though: Dela has so much potential as an author. I really hope she’ll start embracing her unique ideas and develop new ones.
Thank you to NetGalley!