If I had read Ender's Game when I was eleven, or even as old as fifteen, I would not have come out of the story the same way I have now. The movie brought me to this story, but the book captured me in the way only an excellent novel can. While rife with disturbing elements, it is the effectiveness of the setup and the humanity of the story that makes it such a good book. And while books that try to force uncomfortable things in the faces of the audience are a turnoff, Orson Scott Card expertly wraps the disconcerting themes around Ender, a character, while so high above everyone else, including the audience, is so desperately human like the rest of us. What Orson Scott Card does in Ender's Game is something that is missing in today's novels.
What struck me first about Ender's Game was how well Orson Scott Card understood human behavior. The way he implemented that into the story made it come alive, and I found it fascinating. As a writer myself, I struggle with trying to bring my characters to life by realizing that they have their own opinions. It was easy for me to understand the energy of a character right away, given how well Card presented them.
I've heard people say that it's hard to connect to Ender because he's so young. Also, he's so young and smart. I see where that comes from, because I had a difficult time believing I was reading about a six-year-old, too. I pictured a twelve-year-old in my head, so when I was reminded how young he was, it jarred me out of the story. Yet I feel that it's fitting to have him so young. Some say this makes him had to connect to. To me, it isn't about connecting with the main character, but understanding them. I connected to Ender on a single aspect and that was struggling to successfully integrate into a group of your peers. I still greatly enjoyed Ender's character, despite our differences, because I don't have to be his soulmate in order to get something out of his character and his story.
The plot was straightforward, up to a certain point, but that didn't detract from my enjoyment. To me, the story was about Ender and his internal struggles. Also, Card brings up moral issues, like colonization, the purpose and right to wage war, and the exploitation of basic human rights. Some big stuff. So when I said that Card is doing things that are missed in today's novels, that's what I meant. The Big Stuff. Card goes for the jugular and doesn't let go for anything. That killer instinct for storytelling is what has today's YA novels falling harmlessly into the mainstream.
Ender's Game packed a punch when it came out of the gate back in the late 70's, but it hasn't lost any of its potency. It was a well-crafted and excellent story that is definitely worth a gander, even if you aren't into sci-fi. (And if you aren't, this may be just the thing to pique your interest.) Now that I have read it, I definitely want to continue the story and I most definitely want a copy on my shelves....more
Captured me from page one, it did. The first little bit I read at the JoBeth in Cincinnati haunted me until I broke down and bought it online. FinisheCaptured me from page one, it did. The first little bit I read at the JoBeth in Cincinnati haunted me until I broke down and bought it online. Finished it within two days. If I had a hat, I'd tip it to Ruta Sepetys....more
I picked up Miss Fortune Cookie in response to seeing it everywhere -- on blogs, on people's profile picture, on Goodreads status updates. Out of sheer irritation, I looked it up to see what the heck all the commotion was about, and I was surprised to see that it looked like a very promising, cute book. I immediately checked it out from my local library and buzzed in anticipation for the moment when I would finally be able to read it. It was worth the wait. Miss Fortune Cookie won me over with its instantly likable main character, Erin, and the passion behind the presentation of Chinese-American culture. But what really got me was that it felt true.
Truth in fiction may seem, at first, to be a bit of a paradox. Readers will tell you, however, that fiction is the best gateway to the truth. Miss Fortune Cookie, despite its...creative elimination of swear words (s***!), felt like something that could really happen in a way that differentiated itself to me from other contemporary novels. There was something there that really connected with me. Maybe it was the nerdiness of Erin in the way she compacted truths down to equations, or the love for her family and culture, or struggling with college choices. Whatever it was, there was a shard of truth there, and it resonated with me.
I think what won me over wholly, though, was the main character, Erin. I loved her innocently sarcastic and self-deprecating narrative, as well as her sarcastic and self-deprecating humor. And although she had some dim moments, don't we all? Things that generally irked me about a character made me love Erin all the more.
Lack of passion in a novel is the bane of my existence, but Lauren Bjorkman has passion in spades. From the details that neatly frame Erin's tiny, shoebox apartment to the way Bjorkman carefully crafted Mrs. Liu's speech, I could sense the painstaking effort and heart that went behind the story. It made the exotic culture of Chinese-American lifestyles to come through loud and clear for me. (Also, I got a kick out of the presentation of Asian stereotypes that happen to be very true. One of my good friends from high school is Asian, and would probably get a real kick out of this book.)
With the humor, charming cultures, and wacky adventures, Miss Fortune Cookie is a real gem of young adult contemporary literature. And at just under three hundred pages, it's a short, fun read for anyone who wants a good story....more
For a long time I've claimed that short stories aren't really my thing -- I don't read them, I don't write them. Now, I find myself doing both! TheseFor a long time I've claimed that short stories aren't really my thing -- I don't read them, I don't write them. Now, I find myself doing both! These three authors have rekindled my faith in short stories. Each of their pieces are electrifying and exciting. Truly inspirational. Love it, love it, love it!...more
At least once in your life, a book comes along that forges an instant connection before page one is even started. Skinny was that book for me. I knew, from the moment I heard Donna Cooner give her story behind Skinny, that I wanted to read it. I have always had private issues with my self image, but what drew me to this book was the concept of the little voice in the back of your head having a name: Skinny. With a Cinderella-esque format, a brilliant main character held up by brilliant supporting characters, and a little shoulder devil, Skinny was the book that, for me, could do no wrong.
I say "Cinderella-esque" because it is not a retelling of Cinderella with a few shoddily hidden parallels. Cooner curves the story so that it is entirely its own creature. From the moment I started it, I couldn't put it down. I loved the main character, Ever (though I will forgive her for her name), with her edgy narrative voice that was tinged with a depth that went beyond the pages. My only issue was how I wished -- so wished! -- that she would stand up for herself more. But even when she didn't, I could deal with it, and move through the story with her without it diverting my attention.
I love Lauren Myracle's blurb for Skinny:
The best -- and truest -- depiction of the joys and pangs of transformation I've ever read. Deeply moving, totally addictive, utterly fabulous.
I love how Skinny wasn't about preaching the warning signs of obesity or low self esteem. It was a beautiful story of a girl who transformed inside and out, so it doesn't come off as depressing or heavy. While it dealt with a very big subject and showed the not-so-friendly sides of human interactions, I didn't feel weighed down when I closed the book. I felt enlightened! It was a book that I could fully identify with, and learn from. And I loved that.
Cooner's writing style was simple and elegant, and effortless morphed between scenes of skipping and laughing happiness, to edgy betrayals and bitter anger. It carried along a story that built to a climax that had me grinning like a moron in my chair. Cooner packed a thrilling conclusion within a mere few pages. It was electric.
Skinny is a book that crosses boundaries. It's a book that can be read by anyone and everyone, because there isn't a person out there who doesn't feel insecure about something. Or who doesn't that that little voice of doubt niggling in the back of their mind. With its wit and universal message, Skinny is a book I'd recommend to anyone....more
The last Artemis Fowl book. What a thrilling end! This book marks the very first to make me, Amelia Robinson, shed a tear. Part of me always worries about what kind of hell the author will put their characters through in the series finale, and with these crazy MG authors anything is possible. In Artemis Fowl: The Last Guardian, I really enjoyed the maturation of the characters set off by Eoin Colfer's signature humor. Colfer pulls out all the stops to create a fast-paced, intriguing topper to his beloved Artemis Fowl series.
As is the case of book eight of any series, there's some preconceived ideas about how awesome the book is going to be -- and if a reader is eight books into a series, we're gonna assume the series is awesome. So there isn't much to add that hasn't already been said before. It's established that the Artemis Fowl series, which has been in my life since I was ten, is justifiably the definition of awesomeness. Moving on...
This final installation was sheer genius. Colfer opens with a bold and exciting conflict -- I mean, maybe that's a bit of an understatement when the "bold" conflict was the utter destruction of the known world. The stakes were upped like never before, creating a nail-biting ride. I liked that Colfer went into this kind of territory: most books, dystopians especially, take place after the world has been destroyed and been refitted into a semblance of order. The Last Guardian takes place during the destruction. I really appreciated Colfer's imagination.
I liked how there was a definite maturation of the characters. While Artemis Fowl has always been credited for speaking and acting a decade older than he should've been, emotionally there was a step up. There was a wealth of history to draw upon and the characters had (finally) truly accepted each other. I really enjoyed the camaraderie between them -- especially when it's accented with Colfer's signature humor.
The ending...was sheer brilliance. Sheer, utter brilliance. I have never seen a full circle executed so beautifully in the very last paragraph. And the climax made me cry! Me! Cry! Maybe I wasn't sobbing like a baby, but the words did go a little blurry and I had to wipe a tear away. But, of course, what would you expect from the last book in a series?! Ironically enough, the only other book that had me on the verge of tears was The Supernaturalist also by Eoin Colfer.
As sad as I was to see this beloved series come to an end, I really enjoyed it. It was funny, exciting, satisfying... If you haven't ever read the Artemis Fowl series, I'd highly suggest you try it out. It's middle grade, but it's short, enjoyable and terribly clever and imaginative.
My only regret, to those of you who have read the whole series: Seriously? Why was Minerva never brought back in? She was brilliant! ...more
When Vessel first caught my eye some months ago, I dismissed it. What a mistake. Sarah Beth Durst captured what I love most about fantasy with her impressive command of prose, instantly likable main character, and beautifully defined world. I had a hard time tearing myself away to do normal things, like I don't know, eat and sleep and other silly things like that. I was so firmly rooted in the story that my soul wept knowing that there wasn't a sequel. Vessel was just that amazing.
Tamora Pierce called it right when she blurbed, "Unique and breathtaking..." The beauty and simplicity of the opening line caught me right away:
On the day she was to die, Liyana walked out of her family's tent to see the dawn.
Sarah Beth Durst carries the story along with a beautifully exotic, yet easy to understand writing style. It's straightforward and reminds me of Maria V. Snyder's style -- how the sentences are short, but not truncated. It complements the characters and plot well by enhancing the atmosphere rather than getting in the way.
Durst also shows a command of story. When Liyana is abandoned by her tribe, Durst is able to maintain interest even when Liyana isn't interacting with another character. I was expecting a slump, because it's typical to see a character's inner self displayed by how they react to others, but there was plenty of conflict, both internal and external. It was at that point that my interest in Vessel doubled. It only got better the deeper into the story I got. And not only story, but world. The world-building was incredible. Complex, yet easy to understand, the stakes were clearly defined and I felt, right along with the characters, the dread of what could happen if the worst occurred. I loved the extra details: the stories, the gods, the destinies. All these fun things that don't really happen outside of a fantasy novel.
Liyana was a stellar character. (In fact, all the characters were very defined, with character specific dialogue.) I loved Liyana from page one, and felt immense sympathy for her when her tribe left her -- which occurred within the first few chapters, generally too soon for me to form an attachment to a character. Also, I never grew irritated with her because it seemed that all of her actions were well-defined by a clear thought process alongside consistent and believable motivations. She was feisty and a quick thinker. Possibly one of my new favorite characters.
Out of everything that made this novel unique to me, the romance stuck out the most. When Sarah Beth Durst described, in an interview with Simon & Schuster, how the romance in her novel was very natural, I didn't quite believe her. Now, after having experienced Vessel for myself, I realize how right she was. It didn't feel superficial to me; there was no instant gratification. And overall, the romance was intensely bittersweet, but it built and progressed at a natural pace.
It's amazing to me that Durst could tie up an entire story within four hundred pages. It's strange to me to see a stand alone fantasy book, and it made me sad to let go of the story so quickly! While some of the action scenes could've been refined to show more depth and clarity, the plot progressed smoothly and built the stakes higher and higher until my fingers were clenched around the book in anticipation for the conclusion.
Vessel was an amazing story. I must have it for my shelves....more
When Legend first popped up on my radar, I was turned away by the amateur-style cover. I was intrigued, however, when the hype drove me to read a sample of it. I was impressed by how there was an immediate sense of character and that allowed the also-immediate conflict to take effect. Paired with Marie Lu's effortless writing style and propelled by a both heart-wrenching and thought-provoking plot, I never wanted the story to end.
Legend tells the story of two awesome main characters. June, with her Holmesian-like logic but warm heart; and Day, the guy we girls would all like to run into on the streets. I was pleased (and impressed) with how June, the government's prodigy, didn't come off as a cold-hearted anti-hero. She had a heart -- a big heart -- that wasn't impervious to breaks. The criminal Day reminded me a lot of Han from Cinda Williams Chima's Seven Realms series, only Day doesn't have silver cuffs branded to his wrists. Mentally, I connected them because they're passionate, flirty, and street smart, and they always take care of their families.
The world of Legend was magnificently displayed. Lu doesn't fall into the trap of having to explain how everything worlds. By letting the world affect (or not affect) her characters in certain ways, she lets the world build seamlessly. It's this showing and not telling that is so effective in creating the swaths of color into the world around the characters. Sometimes it has a fantasy-like feel to it, and sometimes it feels more sci-fi or dystopian, giving it a well-rounded atmosphere.
What I was most impressed with from Legend was the way Lu built the story. I understood what was at stake, I knew the risks, and I felt each obstacle resonate within the characters. It was a story that built stakes like kindling for a fire -- they pushed the characters; they didn't come at a conveniently inconvenient time. At every turn, I would mutter, "What are they going to do now?" or "How are they going to get out of that?" The plot was tightly compacted: nothing was wasted, but there are threads to be continued in other books.
So while there were predictable places, it was the moments that took me by surprise that defined my liking for Legend. With it's fantasy/sci-fi like world and lovable characters, Legend should be a book to get on your shelf. I'm glad it's on mine....more
I have always loved dragon stories, and with one notable exception, I have never been disappointed. Rachel Hartman and her work with Seraphina has reminded me in no uncertain terms why I love dragons and dragon stories. She created a world so uniquely her own and wrote a story so full of detail and passion, I would've thought she were recounting something she herself had experienced. From start to finish, this story captured me; I loved every moment of it.
Passion, I think, is something that a lot of writers nowadays lack. Everyone seems to be writing books now, obscuring those few gems who write for the sake of writing and who, even if their stuff won't sell, will be writing because they have to. Rachel Hartman wrote with a passion that makes me infinitely grateful that I didn't pass it by because of the disastrous cover, and gave the story a chance to stand on its own. Seraphina's story connected with me on a personal level, but I think many audiences could see something of themselves in this tale, simply because everyone has something inside of them that they are ashamed of, and that they are afraid to show the world. The fear of rejection is a universal feeling. I loved the way Rachel Hartman captured that.
Seraphina was a fantastic narrator. She's the kind that shouts, "Here, here, look at me!" And then blocks your view when you try to look around her. Her voice was steadily entertaining in a self-deprecating, sarcastic way that made her endearing rather than irritating. Hartman highlighted emotions that are normally butchered or omitted entirely by most authors. For example, Seraphina's reaction to a compliment: while she might feel the compliment is true, her thought process is such that I don't feel she's being falsely modest with herself. Her vulnerability and shame, along with how she dealt with the ground shifting beneath her feet, made her a character that I instantly bonded with.
I also grew deeply rooted in Hartman's world. It's almost as if the descriptions could've only come from someone who had the knowledge of a world that was fully realized, things that I didn't understand and yet the character clearly did. Hartman set up a world that was uniquely her own, adding details to flavor (not bog down) the story in a style similar to that of Tamora Pierce, Christopher Paolini, and Cinda Williams Chima. So when I set the book aside, the world still sat in my head like a memory palace and characters still deigned to play around.
The plot was amazing, though I could see how a reader might think it slow and sometimes aimless. But the way Hartman just dove into it, I couldn't help but try and keep up. I was so engrossed in the story, my mind stopped thinking about, "Is this predictable?" or "Could this have been better?" The inner editor just shut off and I went along for the ride -- and loved every moment of it!
I recommend Seraphina to any fantasy lovers, but specifically to those who love dragon stories. May it take your breath away as it did mine....more
Here I am, eighteen-years-old, and still finding unbelievable enjoyment in Rick Riordan books. While, for me, the writing is the main thing that demotes it down to a "middle grade" level, everything else can be enjoyed by anyone who wants a good story. That's why I love it -- the story. I love the characters and the world and the magic and everything. I love picking up a Percy Jackson and Co. book because I can never know what to expect, except a good time and a lot of laughs. In this latest installment of the Heroes of Olympus series, Rick Riordan brings everything to the table to make it the best yet.
The plot kept me glued to my chair. It's always a good sign when the reader can't figure out how a character is going to wiggle out of their current dilemma. I'm left in awe by Rick Riordan's ability to slam his characters into corners that seem impossible to get out of and then, somehow, miraculously, they get out. Barely. And if something can go wrong, it does. Most of the time I'm left thinking, How does this story even work when everything goes wrong? But that's part of the beauty of it.
Much like Harry Potter, the Heroes of Olympus series has a whole cast of characters to fall in love with. Annabeth had always seemed a bit standoff-ish to me in the previous books (even the Percy Jackson series), but I totally cheered for her in this one. I still absolutely love how all the characters have their own subplots. All of them have something dreadful and wonderful going on in their lives and that makes them all real to me.
The Mark of Athena kept me glued from page one. I think this one might be my favorite, but it's a close tie. All the books are excellent for their own reasons. What makes The Mark of Athena stand out to me is how the climax of the story stayed with me. Even now, after having finished it, that scene haunts me. When a book does that to you, that says the author did something right in more ways than one.
Anyone can love the Heroes of Olympus series. There are characters and stories within the series that anyone can connect with, all connected by a universal humor....more
Straight up: probably one of the best books I've read in a while. Robin LaFevers has constructed a story chockfull of political intrigue, breathtaking romance and exciting adventure. Coupled with her incredible writing ability, this is a book I will put time aside for to reread. It was that good.
The main character, Ismae, was fantastic. She started out with a rough life and was given a second chance. She didn't let the chance go to waste. I cheered for her from page one. She wasn't a perfect character. She made mistakes and misjudgments and let her mouth get away from her. She had a wicked sense of humor. She was flawed. She was awesome. Her emotions were raw; Robin LaFevers didn't sugarcoat anything.
The romance was awesome! I liked how Robin LaFevers held out just long enough to put me on the edge of my seat. It's one of those romances that you know they have to get together--they just have to!--but it takes a ridiculously long amount of time. It was satisfying though. So kudos to Ms. LaFevers.
The eerie setting was the perfect backdrop for the compelling plot. The story was brilliantly told and artfully crafted. It's so rare I see such depth to political intrigue. (MCs are generally on the outskirts or indirectly affected by political dealings, so it was nice to have a MC in the thick of it, actively changing the course of the fate of the world around her.)
Robin LaFevers has an enviable writing skill. She transitioned smoothly, almost seamlessly, between the stages of Ismae's character development. She created a story of a strong, scarred young woman called to the life of an assassin. I loved the uniqueness.
Grave Mercy was a thrilling, very satisfying read. I resolve myself to the life of nagging Robin on twitter until the sequel, Dark Triumph, comes out....more
I have always been wary of classics. I had the misfortune of starting and completing Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger shortly before I picked up To Kill a Mockingbird and it was one of many that made me question why classic books were "classic." But when I started To Kill a Mockingbird, I wondered if it was one big cosmic joke. Because To Kill a Mockingbird was good.
Of all the "classics" I've read, this was the only one I've seen that actually reads like a modern-day novel. The voice of Scout was clear as a bell and immensely enjoyable. I loved her sharp wit and stubborn streak and fighting spirit. I also liked how Harper Lee made the prose mature and the dialogue child-like, so it really did sound like Scout was narrating her life from a much older age. It also made the story so much easier to understand, and that's the point isn't it? To understand the story. Not something, I feel, most classics get.
Even before I saw the movie, I had pictured what Maycomb would've been like. And with Harper Lee's excellent writing style, it was easy. She took her time with it and put in details that made the setting come to life.
The characters were just as life-like. I am a huge fan of Atticus and Cal and Jem. Besides Scout, that is. Scout was awesome. To Kill a Mockingbird was simply jam-packed with unforgettable characters that told an unforgettable story....more
My expectation: something totally goofy. Sherman Alexie's blurb -- "This is a scary funny book or a funny scary book. In either case, it is a great book. I love it." -- was a fair warning, even if I didn't quite believe it. Hold Me Closer, Necromancer was a funny book. It was also a freaky as hell book, and teaches me to mind my manners when reading a book with Lish McBride at the helm. Just as good as Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake in the creepy department, though Anna pales just a bit in comparison, let's be honest. I enjoyed everything from the characters to the way it switched effortlessly between light superficiality to hard, cold badassery.
I loved Sam's character, but in a way that makes me think I wouldn't have the guts to approach him in real life because, while he may consider himself socially awkward, he's actually wickedly funny (and to a 20-year-old with the sense of humor as non existent as an unattractive Tom Hiddleston, funny guys are endlessly attractive). Sam was open and vulnerable, exposing his weaknesses but also his steel core. He could shriek like a girl at the sight of a severed head, but he could also take care of business like a BAMF. Sam is just the kind of narrator I'm drawn to: one who struggles with power. He held this book together excellently.
In fact, all of the characters brought this story to life in the way that well-cast Broadway productions seem to just work, even if you can't say exactly why. Lish McBride has me convinced that she has the ability to write good characters, which says to me that no matter what genre she chooses to write in, she will produce a work of enjoyable quality.
Really, when I say "enjoyable" I mean "holy crap I'm freaked out but I kinda like it." When I first cracked open Hold Me Closer, Necromancer I assumed that the "freaky" stuff was going to be hokey at best and schticky at worst, and I was not expecting to be left rolling my shoulders with unease and enduring a shudder that rippled all the way down my spine. Lish McBride has this ability to present something creepy in an off-handed way, sort of lulling you into a false sense of security until she snaps the comedy off with a healthy dose of skin-crawling reality.
Really, it's like a superpower. It's almost enough to keep me away from her work. Almost. I am super psyched to get a copy of Hold Me Closer, Necromancer for my shelves and to pick up the sequel, Necromancing the Stone, because the thing I loved above all else in this book was that no matter how much something appeared superficial and fluffy, there was a hard truth that came at you like a prize fighter. Lish McBride's way of kidding-not-kidding has me excited and apprehensive about her work all at once, but definitely willing to continue reading her books....more
When it first entered the blogosphere, Born Wicked made quite a splash. Though they haven't gone as viral as vampires and werewolves, witches are a very popular source of entertainment for those who lean towards the supernatural side. And oh, does Jessica Spotswood know how to provide entertainment. The allure of witches had previously passed me by, but what Spotswood has done in Born Wicked has my interest piqued. She presented her world with delicious details, her characters with stunning contrasts, and her romance with a tragic twist. Born Wicked drew me in from page one, and I was reluctant to let go at the last.
I love it when the atmosphere of a book is so clear and profound that it leaves little watermarks in my mind. The world of Born Wicked has a whole light spectrum of depth to it, ranging from rosy moments of happiness tinged with a dark slash of forbidden love, and dark encounters with danger and magic. While I may not know how historically accurate the real parts of her world are, I was fully satisfied with Spotswood's creation.
I was also deeply satisfied with the main character, Cate. Too often, books that come with an interesting premise, a steady and promising writing style, and edgy world are torn apart by a weak and inconsistent main character. Cate was a true heroine. She had enormous responsibilities stacked onto her shoulders and not to mention more secrets than she could hide under her bell skirts. I loved how, from page one, her vulnerabilities weren't shrouded by pride and anger. This allowed me to really connect, and cheer for, her character.
And for the romance, too. Oh, Finn. My heart broke for you. Love triangles have such a bad rep, but with this one, there isn't the classic template of the heroine flitting between the two heroes. It is merely an awkward situation where two men are vying for the same woman, but not necessarily the other way around. I loved Finn's character -- he was so adorable! And he never got all macho, or smothered Cate with all his proclamations of protection. I loved their relationship.
Another kind of relationship I loved was the one between Cate and her sisters. Their relationship was constantly torn at throughout the story which (despite the unfairness of it) I liked because it was realistic and it challenged the characters, forcing them to grow. The three of them made such an impression on me. I'm practically twitching from the anticipation of what other horrible fates will descend upon them in the next book. (Gosh, I sound so bloodthirsty there. I love the sisters, I promise!)
Jessica Spotswood has a real eye for plot progression. There was always something to move the story forward. She didn't pussyfoot around -- she threw obstacle after ungodly obstacle in front of her characters until I wanted to cry for them. By the end of the story, my heartstrings were in knots. But I have to give it to her... Jessica Spotwood knows how to put a story together that kept me glued to every page.
Whether you're a fan of witches or not, Born Wicked may spark your fancy for them. Or maybe, like me, you'll just figure that no one else will do it better than Jessica Spotswood, and declare that you only like witches if they're in the Cahill Chronicles. ...more
Blood Red Road completely took me by surprise. I was expecting questionable writing, a cookie-cutter main character and a stale story. What I got was a fantastically complex and cheer-worthy main character complemented by an in-your-face writing style that set off both the characters and the world. I was not expecting to fall in love with the world, which is so obviously dystopian, and I certainly didn't expect to be swept up in the plot, buoyed by a writing style so far away from cookie-cutter, it's like a different planet. The journey through Blood Red Road was exciting and belly-dropping and I enjoyed every second of it.
I first discovered Blood Red Road while in Borders (which tells you how long ago it was). I slid the book off the shelf, thinking about how much hype it had garnered in the blogosphere, and opened to the first page. I immediately closed it. I was not going to read a book that was written in dialect. I don't go out looking for headaches. So Blood Red Road went back on the shelf, shrinking away from my fierce disapproval.
Right now, I wish I had grabbed a copy when I had the chance. Moira Young's blatant disregard for conventional writing styles was like a getting a sip of clean, cool water after trekking a day through a desert. The dialect forces the characters and the world in your face -- your brain can't compensate to ignore the way the character speaks and narrates. Blood Red Road calls this quote from Robert McKee's book Story, to mind:
A great work is a metaphor that says, "Life is like this." The classics, down through the ages, give us not solutions but lucidity, not answers but poetic candor; they make inescapably clear the problems all generations must solve to be human.
Set against the backdrop of a richly detailed world, Saba's character popped off the page. If I were to pin a label of "most lifelike" on any fictional character, it would go to Saba. Moira Young covered a corner of young adult literature that is not often walked on. She portrayed Saba with imperfections that most authors wouldn't dare give their characters. Her thoughts showed a darkness that made her realistic, because everyone has those small thoughts that creep in without our knowing and take us by surprise at their immorality. Add on top Saba's -- sometimes uncontrollable -- fighting spirit, and she leaves behind a lasting impression.
The plot, as soon as it caught me, swept me along so quickly, I would look up and the afternoon had gone by, along with two hundred pages. My brain had adapted quickly to the narration, allowing the plot to take charge. It wasn't a complex plot, for which I found refreshing. Most dystopians like to throw in all kinds of government conspiracy subplots, but Blood Red Road dealt with the politics behind getting Saba's brother, Lugh, back, and the many obstacles they faced, both externally and internally. I loved the high adventure and the details that made it come to life.
The romance was first class -- Katniss and Peeta don't hold a candle to the romance in Blood Red Road. But the romance doesn't take center stage, which I liked. While it had a big impact on plot and character development, it's not the very first thing that pops to mind when I think back on the book. Saba's character is too dominant to be pushed aside by a moon-eyed couple.
James Dashner, author of The Maze Runner, blurbed Blood Red Road and I thought he nailed it on the head:
Blood Red Road will capture any reader who picks it up. I love everything about Saba -- her language, her intensity, her heart. Everyone should read her story.
Moira Young is off to a shining start, having carved a name for herself in the world of young adult literature. I hope to see more of her in the coming years. I'm thrilled for the next installment in the Dust Lands series....more
Alexandra Bracken's work first hit my radar when I picked up and loved her debut, Brightly Woven. But I was pleasantly surprised by how much her writing and storytelling abilities had been significantly upgraded in The Darkest Minds. It was edgy and compelling in a way I hadn't expected it to be.
The main character, Ruby, was solid if a little melodramatic about her powers. (Gain some perspective, darlin, everyone thinks their power is the worst.) But I liked how Alexandra Bracken didn't go easy on Ruby. Ruby had a lot of problems to sort through, and nothing that I would consider "mainstream." By having the problems be character-specific, it heightened my respect for the character when she was forced to make a choice.
The world was excellent. I understood every aspect that was being presented, which I admire because more often than not, in stories like these, I haven't the faintest idea why the government is doing what it's doing. The suspense was heightened because I knew the stakes. It made the action scenes really come alive.
The characters themselves were amazing. All were endearing in so many ways. I love how dynamic the group of them were. I also love how they weren't static. They each had their own story that progressed through Ruby's own.
I was very satisfied with The Darkest Minds and, especially with the way it ended, I am psyched to get my hands on the second one....more
I declare Maggie Stiefvater to be a master of mythology. Not that I know the first thing about horses that are pulled from the sea and raced on land. Merely that Maggie Stiefvater took a piece of mythology, made it entirely her own, and presented it in a dark, twisted, real way that I have never seen another author do before. Her writing was cunning, her characters strong and alive, her atmosphere rich and enticing.
There was a lot of passion in this story. It came through in the characters with their own battles and personal triumphs, and in the writing. I'd read a blog post on Maggie Stiefvater's site where she talked about how this book was the one she's always wanted to write. It was an inspiring post, and this was a very inspiring story. I loved every page.
The romance was fantastic. It was just as powerful, if more elusive, than the couple we all know and love—Sam and Grace. Sean Kendrick had that streak of reality to him that made him instantly likeable. Puck Connolly was fiery but very much human with her internal struggles and external battles. They were fantastic characters. I want to reread their story. I want more of their story. Even though I almost cried at the end—a rarity within itself.
The atmosphere was palpable. Talk about disappearing into a story. Small, seemingly meaningless details put breath and life into Thisby. I hate the beach, but the detail here was so vivid and enticing, I wanted to be down on the sand in the chaos leading up to the races.
The writing was just as beautiful as ever. The passion was there—passion that most authors strive for but bury under the pressure of blending into the mainstream YA paranormal romance. Maggie Stiefvater's work stands out, stands in its own category. The minute this book comes out in paperback, I'm getting it. Maggie Stiefvater is a writer I want to mimic. She writes flawlessly. She draws you in, almost tricks you into getting to know the characters. It's natural.
I can't wait to see what she does next.
Oh, did you know that The Scorpio Raceshas been optioned by Warner Bros.? No? Oh, well, now you know. You're welcome....more
I wasn't expecting to enjoy Under the Never Sky period so I was shocked when I LOVED IT as much as I did! The main characters, Aria and Perry, were awesome. Each had their own issues and own distinct voices and concerns--not to mention, worlds. Veronica Rossi has a unique writing style interspersed with light humor and great sense for world-building. I cannot wait to reread Under the Never Sky.
This story was driven by the two main characters, Aria and Perry, and the issues they faced when their worlds were turned upside down. The plot was very simple and straightforward outside of that. So in a way, this story was refreshing in how it stepped back from complex, intricate plots and subplots and dove deep into the characters. Aria and Perry were awesome -- I rooted for them individually before they became a team (though Aria was a bit of a spazz in the beginning -- I forgave her for it).
Veronica Rossi had a wonderfully addictive writing style. It was compact, but expressive. Her clear, concise writing writing put a lot of plot into three hundred and some-odd pages, like it should be longer than it is. I was impressed with that. Most authors take forever to get to what they're trying to say, but Rossi just went for it.
The setting of Under the Never Sky was my second favorite thing about it. I loved the way it switched between the sterile, controlled environment of the Pods and Realms to the wildness of the Outside. Like having sci-fi and fantasy wrapped into one book. Combined with the magic involved -- heightened senses -- I just couldn't get enough of it.
My favorite part though? The romance. I was shocked when I realized how much I liked it. Romance is usually a requirement for me to the like a book (not always) but I usually I don't like romances that dominate the pages. Most of the book was about the blooming relationship between the two MCs but I enjoyed every minute of it. Veronica Rossi can write a fantastic love story....more
If you haven't picked up an Ally Carter book yet, consider your life incomplete until you do so. If you don't want to read about a smart thief and a gorgeous best friend (also a thief), then check out the Gallagher Girls: they're spies. (You can't say you don't like thieves or spies, because everyone likes at least one or the other.)
If you need MORE reasons to make Ally Carter your new favorite author:
Thieves. Yes, I realized I already mentioned this, but you've got to admit that it takes a lot of talent to successfully write a book about teenage thieves without making it into a middle grade novel. This new installment in the Heist Society series was a lot edgier than the first book. Kat is dealing with a lot of crap: with her family, with her identity, and with Hale. I totally lent my heart out to Kat through the entire book. (And yelled at her a lot when she wouldn't confront Hale with…certain topics.)
Humor. I don't know about you, but I'm a sucker for funny books. Even if it has the WORST main character ever, if she's funny (she can't be all that bad) then I'll usually read the entire book without too much trouble. Kat, besides being a completely AWESOME main character, is funny. So is everyone else. Especially Hale when he's mad. ;)
Characters. Did I mention Kat's a world-famous thief? Just think about it: being an infamous con artist makes her smart. And not just smart, but clever. (Yes, there IS a difference, just like robbing a casino and robbing AT a casino.) So Kat is awesome, and Hale is sexy, and Simon is adorable, and Gabrielle is…apparently cursed, and Nick is…well, he's sexy, too. Don't forget the Scottish twins and legendary uncles. So yeah. In summation, you've got a great set of characters.
Plot. Wow. And I thought Patricia Briggs was the only author who could surprise readers with such class. Ally Carter drives her characters seemingly into a corner with no escape whatsoever (even for the world-famous thieves) and then slams you with a plot twist that is so awesome that it's beyond incredible.
I could go on and on. Ally Carter has presented a great addition to Heist Society and I can't wait to see what she adds to this series....more
This has to be my favorite out of all the Cassaforte Chronicles. Which is saying something, peeps, ‘cause I absolutely fell in love with V. Briceland’s writing in The Glass Maker’s Daughter. This was just an enjoyable story that set me on my wit’s end when the suspense nearly did me in. And made my ribs hurt with laughter when Petro and Emilia went at each other. Petro’s character was real and it was fun to see the adventure through his eyes.
I like stories where you see the characters through other people’s eyes. We saw Petro when he was a kid in The Glass Maker’s Daughter, as Risa’s annoying but fun-loving little brother. Now we’re reading about his own adventures and learning the tune of his reactions. I love stuff like that.
Everything seemed to come together. I think what made this such an incredible read was the combination of elements that work. Also, the emotions are more raw in this book. Like the edginess between Petro and Adrio—I was constantly getting so angry at Adrio for all the stupid things he’d come up with, calling Petro a snob and all that. But it was so cool how Petro still went after Adrio anyway. So you’ve got those two best friends and then you’ve got Emilia. That whole deal didn’t turn out as I expected it at all—but it was such a lovely ending! V. Briceland was flawless: he somehow didn’t give me the ending I wanted, yet it still satisfied completely.
From the very first page, I could picture it. I didn’t catch on to the significance of this until after I was halfway through the book: when I’d started reading, I’d unconsciously started to film it in my head. I know we all do this (mostly) but there was something about it that flowed. I could pull it all together as I read and it made it all the more exciting when the action began and all of a sudden I was tied to the book. In essence, this reaction is the product of very impressive writing. I cannot believe that he isn’t as popular as authors like Tamora Pierce, Maria V. Snyder, and Cinda Williams Chima.
I’m so attached to this world and the characters. It’s a world I love stepping into. I’d love to spend a day with these characters. (I started to list my favorite characters…but it was one of those times when I kept backspacing to add more and more…) Above all, I really think Petro is my favorite character. There was so much emotional depth in The Nascenza Conspiracy and the outcome from so much inner turmoil really made Petro shine.
Of course, I can’t let you click out thinking that it’s only emotional stuff going down. Oh no! What else could come of swapping identities and a far-off Midsummer High Rites than a breathless adventure? And never forget the surreptitiously left clues that all click together in the end—the brilliant kind of click that makes you go, “Oh snap!” and slap yourself on the forehead for not putting it together earlier.
Unfortunately, I got the gut feeling that the series has come full circle. Which makes me want to cry. As I’ve said, I’ve gotten so attached to these characters and I love their stories so much. I feel like breaking down and begging V. Briceland in a hysterical email whether or not he’s going to write a fourth installment. I’d be happy if he was writing another series…(maybe)…but I’d do an ecstatic happy dance if he was planning on writing a fourth book.
If you like the writings of Tamora Pierce, Maria V. Snyder and Cinda Williams Chima, you’ll love adding V. Briceland to your collection....more