First of all I should say the author was incredibly kind to send me this book - more accurately, my cat won this book for me, but that's a long sto
First of all I should say the author was incredibly kind to send me this book - more accurately, my cat won this book for me, but that's a long story involving scratches, and forcing pets to wear little wire-framed spectacles.
The fact I was sent this book by the author does not affect, in any way, my review.What does affect it, is that I've been following Sarah Rees Brennan's writing since way back when, and she has never, ever, disappointed me. So now here we are, the ~dreaded~ 2nd book of a trilogy. In my possession (I may have called it "my precious once or twice...") before it's even out. Obviously I freaked out. Not in a "This is so great, I am so lucky! Yay!", but in a "Omg, what if I don't like it?!"
It's terrible when you love an author's work and then they write something and you hate it! What now?! What if I hate it?!
This brought me back to when my bff had a baby girl. I know you're supposed to say nice things the first time you see someone's baby, but the more I put it off, the more I stressed out over it: what if the baby was HIDEOUS? What if, when in the presence of that abomination unto the Lord all I could come up with would be something like, "Oh, she has... she has very hirsute whiskers!" So I put it off and I kept training saying nice things in front of a mirror for a week straight. But finally I could put it off no longer and I had to go see the baby. And the baby was SO FREAKING CUTE!!! So cute I actually turned to the parents and expressed my relief on not having had to lie about her looks. Never do this, by the way - I’ve since learned it’s a social faux pas.
Much the same situation happened with Untold. I was freaking out! I was composing polite ways to critique a disappointing book, because I love the author, and I love everything she writes, but maybe she would read my dreadful review and go, "This is it, the last drop! I shall never put pen to paper again, not even to sign my own name!"
But joy of joys, Untold was much more amazing that my bff's baby. Don't tell her I said that! I mean the kid is really cute, but it just stayed in her crib, sleeping, which I admit, she did rather well... but...
Untold, however, starts kind of like this:
Murderous scarecrows! Girl Power! Hot boys! Hot girls! And chocolate pasta: which I did not even know was a thing, if anyone can get me some I'll be yours forever.
Seriously, this is Sarah Rees Brennan at her best!
I read some reviews expressing displeasure at her use of humour, particularly during dramatic moments. That's what makes it work for me! You know how when you're with someone who'd been so important to you but now is not, and for a fleeting moment there's that spark where the old friendship is there and alive, and everything is well and we're all so happy- BUT IT'S NOT, because it was just a moment, and now it's back to bleak reality. Tell me that doesn't make the situation that more poignant: the juxtaposition of sadness and humour, it makes one so much sadder, the other so much more precious... It's genius writing, that's what it is!
And major props for girl friendship! Passing the Bechdel test left, right, and centre!Plus intrigue, and girl sleuths, creepy magic, and awesome portrayals of family interactions.
What more could I ask for?! Make-out scenes, of course - but those are in there as well!!
So, I know I talk (well, write) too much, and I usually don't make much sense, but if you take anything from this review it should be: GO READ UNTOLD AS SOON AS YOU CAN GET IT!!!...more
Confession: It took me forever (2 years) to actually get to read Angelfall, and then only because Susana insisted it was so amazing (thank you, by t
Confession: It took me forever (2 years) to actually get to read Angelfall, and then only because Susana insisted it was so amazing (thank you, by the way!).
There was this new fad (do people still say "fad"?) of ~angel romance~ going on in YA at the time Angelfall came out. And, to me, that was nightmarish. Why, you ask? The Nephilim. I don't know if you know about the Nephilim but they're the result of angel dudes banging human women and what they are is GIANTS. GIANTS who come out of regular (I assume) sized vag holes. GIANTS. Ripping through lady bits. So it was with the utmost reluctance I began reading Angelfall, flinching at every page turn. But I am glad to report that, not only was it an excellent book, it was thoroughly lacking in torn vaginas.
The Nephilim in Penryn & the End of Days aren't exactly like the ones in the Bible, but I still cringe away from any angel/human romance - it's a visceral reaction. Well, not so much visceral, but, you know... more down below, from the undercarriage.
So what I believe will be the main complaint against World After - the lack of Raffe for most of it - to me is, I don't want to say a godsend, because haha not a good thing in this context, but I wasn't bothered. Make no mistake, I genuinely like Raffe - I wouldn't even mind too much if he and Penryn became a couple, I like them together. It's just... it's just that torn lady bits are not my idea of HEA, is all.
That aside, World After certainly had none of the dreaded 2nd book syndrome. It was action packed, it was riveting, it was heartbreaking. It focused on Penryn and on her sister Paige, and their mother, which is something I love: portrayals of families (even if dysfunctional ones) in YA. And it was so, so agonizing to witness what happened to Penryn's sister, to go through Penryn's guilt regarding her reactions to this "new version" of Paige.
It wasn't all sadness. Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum are around for a good bit of the book and, as in the first book, I loved them. Believe me when I tell you, Penryn would be better off with one of them, or both (though ménage doesn't really show up in YA, does it? Pity, since it would solve all those wretched love triangles I hate) - go for the guy who makes you laugh, ladies. Or guys, whatever, I'm not judging.
But back to the plot: it seems that, while in captivity, Penryn's sister developed a case of Stockholm Syndrome for Beliel, the douche nozzle demon who is wearing Raffe's wings. I find Beliel to be a bit of a missed opportunity. I don't know, it's probably all that Paradise Lost stuff getting to me, but I always feel so sorry for the fallen ones... We do get to see a bit of a glimpse of what Beliel could have been, had Susan Ee decided to make a more thorough exploration of his character - but I understand, books need villains, and Beliel is a good one.
Penryn was not at ease with her sister. She found her too strange, too other, too... monstrous. And so do the rebels with whom they're staying. So when the opportunity appears Paige runs away, and Penryn fears she's going to Beliel. It's up to Penryn to save her sister. Yes, again, but it's so good! I'm famously stingy with my ratings, so you know a 5 star one is amazing! So, go read it!
Also, for the Raffe fans, he does show up eventually, so fear not! ...more
Okay, this is probably the darkest urban fantasy I have read yet BUT it's making me flail around like a 12 year old fangirl because
First of all,
Okay, this is probably the darkest urban fantasy I have read yet BUT it's making me flail around like a 12 year old fangirl because
First of all, Chess is such a damaged character - that isn't unusual in urban fantasy, everyone in the genre seems like they're a pluck of guitar strings away from becoming a country song: momma didn't want me, daddy left, world is rough, my lady left me for my brother and now my dog died - you know the deal. What is different is that we actually see Chess not simply toughing it up. Oh, we see plenty of male characters in UF who go for the booze, but that has a long tradition of not being seen as really a flaw in male protagonists, there's that Hemingway concept that dating the bottle is as manly as Ron Swanson.
Female characters, however, usually just move on if they're ~strong female characters~, meaning they kick a lot of ass but they're so hurt inside, they just need the love of a good man, etc.The love of a good man is all very well but Chess uses drugs.
There isn't one single character who is actually a nice person in this and yet it was impossible not to care about them.The old gangster talk is delightful (I never thought I'd say this) and though they usually don't say much it's all there - this book is a great example of show not tell. Another thing this book did well: the world building. Damn, I raise my glass to Stacia Kane, that was wonderfully written.
I can't believe it took me so long to get into this series, but YAY, that just means I get to read a bunch of them without stopping for such trifling things such as food, water, or sleep!And now on a less serious, more fangirly note: I hope for a lot more of Chess making Terrible blush in the next ones because those two, omg!!
I had very, very!, high expectations for this book and Claire Legrand (curse her!) met them all, surpassed them, and left me crying brokenly in the
I had very, very!, high expectations for this book and Claire Legrand (curse her!) met them all, surpassed them, and left me crying brokenly in the dust.
Because I am somewhat less than bright, there was a moment when I started reading and completely ignored the characters' names and was struck by the horrifying fear that Olivia was Victoria and Lawrence's child (from The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls) - so I'm going to take a moment here to be thankful that this wasn't something that occurred to Legrand (if she ever reads this review she'll probably go, "Oh no, a missed opportunity to crush my readers' souls!"), though she managed to break my heart every other page, blithely indifferent to my naïve expectations when I picked up what was supposedly a children's book.
I tried my best to be granted an ARC of this book, alas I had to wait what felt like eleven years for the Book Depository to deliver my hardback copy, all the while considering scenarios in which I managed to get the ARC after all, like disguising myself as Harold Bloom and marching into Simon & Schuster requesting a copy of the book (a difficult feat considering I'm neither male, nor white, nor old enough - and most importantly - not Harold Bloom). It may be of interest to some to learn that candles, contacting the spirit world and sacrificing a drawing of a black rooster (I couldn't kill the real thing) didn't work either.
But moving on - unlike The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls, The Year of Shadows is told in first person. This was a bit jarring at first, but it was a stroke of brilliance: proper Victoria would insist upon having her tale told in third person narrative mode, and Olivia's tale wouldn't have hit the reader quite as hard if it hadn't been told in first person.
How hard, you ask?
above: an accurate representation of how I felt
When the story starts, Olivia, her frail grandmother, and her broken father are homeless and moving into Emerson Hall, the symphony hall into which her maestro father keeps sinking the family's meagre economies. Olivia's mother, Cara, left the family without a word nine months before. So Olivia is, as you can imagine, a very distrusting and hurt little girl. There's the shame of her mother leaving, now compounded by the shame of having people find out she's living backstage - and by people, I mean mostly Henry - perfect, straight As, popular Henry, who hushers at the Hall and constantly grates on Olivia's nerves. But there are odd things happening at the Hall, sudden drafts of cold air which freeze Olivia right to her bones, slithering shades with pointy nails and teeth burning spots of glittering dark coldness into Olivia and Henry - and it's up to them to find out what is happening!
More than the ghost story, the real strength of this book is, as it was in The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls, the relationship between the two main protagonists. I wish some YA, UF, HR, and PNR authors would take a look at how Claire Legrand writes relationships and realise how you can write a completely believable and compelling relationship and still keep it healthy. Yes, they're still kids, but there is no creepy imbalance in their relationship, and go ahead call me crazy, but Claire Legrand writes perfect little one-day-maybe OTPs. But more than the romantic aspect of it, the friendship at its core is brilliantly written - not just with Henry, Joan a very socially minded young lady who is precocious (and obnoxious, according to their teachers), and stands by Olivia's side even when Olivia would rather she's go and stand somewhere else, is also amazing in every way. And best of all? Igor, the cat!! He's not exactly a talking cat, but he still makes his thoughts known (as cats are wont to do).
The ghosts' stories were... how can I explain this properly? One time I tried to pick up my 66 lbs dog, he panicked and kicked me right in the chest - left me lying on the ground, crying and trying to catch my breath, choking on my sobs. Cracked 3 of my ribs. Reading the ghosts' stories, particularly Tillie and Jax's, and Mr. Worthington's, felt kind of like that, except more painful.
Also worth mentioning are Karl Kwasny's lovely illustrations, just look:
I realise I'm not making this out to be something most people would want to read, "Hey, this ruined my life, go read it!" but it was so, so good! I can blab endlessly about books I hate, but I always have trouble convincing people to go read books I love - so, go, read this book! It's amazing, and you'll probably cry, and you'll most definitely laugh, and it'll hurt so much, and you'll love it all the more because of it!
This was such a brutal book! For those expecting mindless zombie carnage, look somewhere else - yes, there is some of
tw: domestic abuse tw: suicide
This was such a brutal book! For those expecting mindless zombie carnage, look somewhere else - yes, there is some of it in the book, but that's not its main focus. Instead, This is Not a Test focuses on people. On who they are, on how they react, on what that tells us about them.
Our main character, Sloane, has lost the will to live. Is it the hopelessness of the Apocalypse, you ask? No, it's the hopelessness of being trapped with an abusive parent in a absolutely normal world. The hopelessness of being alone, since her sister and only friend, has left her alone with the abuser. So when the Apocalypse strikes, Sloane isn't particularly upset. It's merely a change of plans, she doesn't mean to hang around for long, this is just a another way to leave.
But Sloane finds herself trapped in her high-school with other survivors: her former classmates with whom she never really connected.
This was masterfully written. When abuse is addressed in books you seldom witness the loneliness, the inability to form relationships other people take for granted, because your life is defined by the abuse. Courtney Summers did not shy away from that.
And while they all struggle to survive, and conflicts arise from living in such close quarters, Sloane sits quietly with her secret: she doesn't intend to survive....more
I really liked Alex and Tom, but omg that kid! Just, bye already! Be on your way! I love kids and I didn't even feel bad about this one being taken
I really liked Alex and Tom, but omg that kid! Just, bye already! Be on your way! I love kids and I didn't even feel bad about this one being taken away.
The story was a 4 for most of it - I really felt for Alex, I had a brain tumour too, and a lot of what she said hit me really hard. Plus there were really wonderful bits of writing in this book, yeah, it was too gory for YA, but it was well done. And I'm a sucker for stories about surviving in the wild. Plus there was Tom - finally(!) a non-creepy romantic interest with his priorities straight and the romance not taking over the plot!
But then it just went to the old cliché of the post-apocalyptic religious cult and I don't know if it's because I've been reading so many dystopias lately but that particular development starts becoming really tiresome. Add to that the pseudo-love triangle born of Stockholm syndrome and I'm not sure if I'll read the next one (which I hear is a multi-POV mess, anyway)....more
Pack Mates (Were Chronicles) It was cute and though it was insta-love, and the plot was simplistic, it was never boring and I cared about the charactePack Mates (Were Chronicles) It was cute and though it was insta-love, and the plot was simplistic, it was never boring and I cared about the characters....more