Confusing, Queer, Pointless: Conjured, Sarah Beth Durst



Sarah Beth Durst

Eve has a new home, a new face, and a new name—but no memories of her past. She’s been told that she’s in a witness protection program. That she escaped a dangerous magic-wielding serial killer who still hunts her. The only thing she knows for sure is that there is something horrifying in her memories the people hiding her want to access—and there is nothing they won’t say—or do—to her to get her to remember.

At night she dreams of a tattered carnival tent and buttons being sewn into her skin. But during the day, she shelves books at the local library, trying to not let anyone know that she can do things—things like change the color of her eyes or walk through walls. When she does use her strange powers, she blacks out and is drawn into terrifying visions, returning to find that days or weeks have passed—and she’s lost all short-term memories. Eve must find out who and what she really is before the killer finds her—but the truth may be more dangerous than anyone could have ever imagined.

“Don’t be afraid, Eve. Not of this. You can be afraid of spiders or snakes or airplane crashes or a zombie apocalypse… but don’t be afraid of yourself.”

Hold on, I’m still struggling to piece together what I just read. Having gone into this book expecting a gruesome paranormal-mystery, maybe something reminiscence of Imaginary Girls by Nova Ren Suma, or Another Little Piece by Kate Karyus Quinn. So you can imagine my shock when the story took a completely different direction from what I was expecting. But before you make up your minds that Conjured was a horrible read, let me tell you that I am not wholly disappointed with this. I am just not wholly satisfied, either.

Summary: Eve wakes up one day not knowing where, who, or why she is. She has absolutely no recollections of the past, but the witness protection program she’s in is trying to force her to remember — to no avail. As the days pass, however, she begins to discover that she can do magic. She can cause birds printed onto the wallpaper to fly away. She can change the color of her eyes. She can fly.  But all these come with a price, and with recurring dreams and visions, she begins to piece together what may have happened to her — and how she can fix it. But sometimes, the truth is better left unknown.

The biggest problem I had with Sarah Beth Durst’s latest was that it was so pointless. Even now, a couple of days after having finished the book, I still don’t know what I was supposed to gain from reading the book, or what the book was even about, once you looked past the overall plot. It had a sense of direction, sure, but so much was left unexplored that I couldn’t overlook it. I can’t say much without spoiling the book, but if you aren’t afraid of being spoiled, then be my guest: the witness protection program is actually a police force of sorts for several worlds, all combined together with a silver portal. No explanation of how this program came about in the human world was ever given, nor why there were humans working in it. Furthermore, I wasn’t given a very good idea of the idea of several worlds — what are they? Why are they here? None of these questions were answered. The unspoiled version: the world building was terrible, and there were several plot holes that ripped the book up.

Another thing that really bugged me were the unrealistic characters. Eve goes to work in a library, and meets Zach, a fellow librarian for the summer — surprise, surprise! — who proceeds to tell her that he wants to kiss her. So Zach is this not-so-appealing love interest who talks too much about nonsense and wants to kiss a girl he’s only just met. Not to mention that when they actually did kiss, not too long after they meet, Eve somehow manages to make them fly. And guess what? All Zach does is open his mouth and widen his eyes and that’s it. There’s no genuine shock, no genuine fear.

You are all I think about. You are exactly what my life has been missing. You are what I have always wanted. You are magic, with or without the flying.

How poetical, Zach! Especially to a girl you barely know. 

If that isn’t unrealistic, and if that isn’t counted as insta-love, then I don’t know what it is. There was another certain scene in Zach’s house, as well, where Eve shows up without any prior notice to see Zach’s mother drunk and his father working up an angry storm. Get this: none of them are surprised to see her. Or violated that she burst in on something obviously very secret, and when some hocus-pocus is performed in front of them, they did not react. 

Eve herself was… strange. There were quite a bit of perspective shifts in the book, from third person past to first person present, to first person past, and while it isn’t as confusing as it sounds, I did find it a bit odd, as it did nothing to make me connect with her or come to feel much for her. Despite being able to perform magic, she and Zach were probably the dullest characters of the book.

Despite these flaws, though, there was still something strangely haunting, strangely fascinating about Conjured. There’s no denying that Eve’s predicament is intriguing, and as the reader, it’s hard not to want to know more about her and what exactly happened. And the final result is anything but disappointing: it is twisted and strange, and not altogether happy. I have to say that never once did I see the conclusion coming. 

However, when it comes down to it, though Conjured was unexpected, different, and somewhat original, all those things meant nothing because overall, the book was quite senseless. Bland characters, insta-love, and unresolved issues only scrape the surface. And if this review doesn’t make any sense whatsoever, then just take this home: this book is definitely not worth rushing to the bookstore for.

Who is this book for?

I don’t know, actually. I can’t imagine a particular group of people who would enjoy this book, though I could be mistaken!

2.5 stars

368 pages, e-galley from NetGalley (thank you!)
Published September 3, 2013 by Walker Childrens
Purchase: Amazon + Barnes & Noble


16 thoughts on “Confusing, Queer, Pointless: Conjured, Sarah Beth Durst

    • Oops, WordPress must have left out some of what I typed ><
      So here it is!
      It's always difficult when you can't connect or understand the purpose of the story! I like to understand or have some personal takeaways after reading a novel, and if that component is lacking, I find I don't enjoy it as much.
      And instalove! Ugh. That. Hey friend, could you explain how she became the love of your life, your world, your universe in a span of… um… a few days? Nope. I didn't think so.
      Ack, and unrealistic? Meg, girl you're being too nice! I think I would have rated this one a little worse than you 😦
      But as stated above, thanks for this review Meg and for taking time to share your thoughts 😀

      • I hope so, too! Actually, the beginning of this book wasn’t half bad. It was just the moment Eve stepped into the library and met Zach that things went downhill. And I know — though I’m fine if I don’t take away ANYTHING, because sometimes it’s just fun to read something fun and silly, but this was nothing fun or silly.

        LOL. I honestly don’t think boys are like that. They don’t profess their love to you in that way. WELLLLLLL, I kind of liked the writing and the fact that Durst was able to keep me entertained for the most part, hence the 2.5 stars. 😀

  1. Aww, sorry that you didn’t enjoy this ._. I wouldn’t like it if there are too many plotholes and unrealistic things either! >< I have never heard about this book, to be honest, and from the blurb it doesn't seem interesting enough for me so I guess I won't be picking this book. I truly hope your next read will be better! 😀 Awesome review, Meg!! I'm always jealous of how well-written your reviews are haha xD

    • Plotholes aren’t things I usually come across, so it was doubly disappointing when I spotted them in here! Haha, I was actually looking forward to the dreams part. You know, where she gets poked my needs and sewn up… Yeah, I’m sick like that. >.< D'aww, you have no idea how much that means to me, Kezia! Your reviews are really good, too! ❤

  2. While I’m trying not to pull out all the hair from my head I’ll try to write something. Let’s start with Zach, huh, where to start actually. That thing kissing girls right away is not new, but it’ll never get good. EVER, LIKE NEVER EVER IN NEVER. Of course that causes insta-love which is also always a bad solution.
    For the plot, honestly I was really intrigued, especially as I enjoy memory loss things and I love to discover everything layer by layer. Only when so many things here are left unexplained I don’t see a point in all this.
    To be frank this sounds like a major frustration for me so skipping it.
    Amazing review Meg 🙂

    • Haha! Believe it or not, he’s not an UNLIKABLE love interest. Annoying at times, but it’s not easy to full-out hate him. Still, coming right out and telling a girl you want to kiss her when you’ve only just met her is like, the one-way ticket to not having a single girlfriend in your life. Unless you’re good looking. Which is doubtful (cynical ole Meg).

      I was super intrigued by the plot as well, but alas. Durst failed to deliver it in a satisfying way. Thanks, Tanja!

  3. Oh dear what a shame that this didn’t live up to its good potential. I’ll probably will pass on this. Pointless books are well… pointless. 😛

    Fantastic review, Meg! <33

  4. To be perfectly honest, I would be really creeped out if a guy I just met said he wanted to kiss me. That’s just me, though. Ignoring the insta-love, which can pretty much be described as bleh, I don’t think that I will be reading this book because of how pointless it is. A story could have the most interesting plot in the world, but if it doesn’t have a purpose, I won’t like it.

    And, ugh, bland main characters? Definitely wouldn’t like that. It sounds like Eve and Zach are just cardboard cut-outs that were made to, well, have a romance and kiss. Kind of like Barbie and Ken dolls– you can smoosh their faces together as much as you want, and there won’t be any genuine shock in their faces 😛

    The world, even though is sounds interesting, obviously won’t be a world I’ll be able to get lost in. I usually need at least some answers and explanations about things in order to get lost in a fictional world. I’ve been interested in reading this book, but clearly, it isn’t for me. Thank you for the honest review– and for helping save money for books that I will actually enjoy 🙂

    • I can’t imagine anyone who wouldn’t! So why, why, WHY do authors still insist on making creepy love interests?! Definitely. This book lacked a lot of depth. Mostly all its depth.

      They’re exactly that. Eve is your typical broody girl with no personality other than her magic. Zach is that nerdy guy who’s whole purpose in the story was to kiss Eve every chance he got. Ha! That’s a good illustration. 😉

      Like I said, there’s not much depth, so unfortunately I wasn’t immersed in it either. You’re welcome! 😀

  5. Okay, that sounded like true case of insta-love. That kiss — bleh. Just after that, I can tell this book is not for me. And so that made me cheat and look at the spoiler. And now I REALLY will not be reading this. Bad world building drives me nuts when the characters aren’t that good. When both falter, it’s definitely the worst case scenario. I wished this was a better read for you! Hopefully you’ll have better luck on your next read, Meg.

    • They kiss a LOT in the book. Because — spoiler — Eve can’t do magic without fainting unless Zach is with her, and kisses her. Her breath contains magic, see? So dumb. The only reason this book got 2.5 stars was because I found the writing haunting and beautiful, and because the author still managed to keep me reading despite the flaws. I don’t think it’s worth a read, other than that! Thanks, Becca. 🙂

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  7. Terrible world building?! *backs away slowly*
    Oh man…that sappy quote. I would probably shudder from it even if it was after they’ve been in a relationship for 10 years, let alone if they’d just met…
    Seriously, this book sounds so unrealistic. I would definitely stay away from it except that you wrote that the ending is unexpected. I’m kinda intrigued now haha

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