Cover Impressions: I love love LOVE the artwork for this series and I am so glad that th...more This and other reviews can be found on Reading Between Classes
Cover Impressions: I love love LOVE the artwork for this series and I am so glad that the publishers decided to continue with this color scheme. The Dream Thieves is not quite as drool-worthy as The Raven Boys but we still have the stunning brushwork that makes me just want to touch it. I can't wait to see this one all decked out in the finished copy.
The Gist: Adam's sacrifice at the end of The Raven Boys has had further reaching repercussions than any of the boys realized. Adam is haunted by an inexplicable "otherness", Gansey is struggling to piece together the clues on his quest and Rowan is falling deeper and deeper into the dream world. Dangerous elements have been awoken and the someone, or something, is hunting in the dark, putting everyone at risk.
Review The Dream Thieves is a solid addition to this surprisingly interesting series. I am the first to admit, I LOATHED Shiver, and I thought after that debacle, I would never pick up another Stiefvater book again. When Scholastic sent me The Raven Boys for review, I had thought, at the least, I would get a ranty, gif filled review out of it. But, I am also the first to admit that I was whole-heartedly wrong. I loved The Raven Boys and thoroughly enjoyed The Dream Thieves. While TRB started out a little slow and then gained momentum towards the middle of the book, TDT has a much more steady pace. It is a slow burn in which the story unravels leisurely and we get to see much more of the characters than in the previous novel. I do wish there was more forward action on the over-all plot. We see quite a bit of character development and many events are put into place for the action of the third book, but mostly the problems that are solved are new ones, not the lingering questions from The Raven Boys.
One of the strengths in this series lies with the character development. Each of the boys (and Blue) have their own issues and their own, distinct, voice. We get to follow inside each character's head for a while, which allows the reader to build deep and meaningful connections. I do wish that there weren't quite as many peripheral characters as it became difficult to keep track. We have 4 main characters, then each of their families, then friends and enemies, which adds up to a lot. There also isn't a whole lot of detail provided to jog your memory. I, for one, have read a LOT of YA novels in between TRB and this book and find it difficult to recall certain characters or aspects of the storyline. For example, at one point a chapter opens with Helen operating a helicopter. There is no preamble describing who Helen is and she has not been mentioned up to this point. It took me AGES to remember that she was Gansey's sister and my confusion took my attention away from that particular section of the plot.
It is very interesting to read a series in which we knew the ending, from the very beginning. Blue's vision shows us that Gansey is to die and the prophecy about her first kiss tells us a lot about where their relationship eventually leads. Nonetheless, I continue to watch, breathlessly, for the plot to get there. All the while, hoping for a loophole that will lead to a different eventuality. Either way, I will certainly be hanging in there for the next two books!
Age: 13 and up Gender: Both Sex: Kissing Violence: Knifeplay, Gunplay, Kidnapping Inappropriate Language: Dick, Fag, Bastard, Fucking, Shit, Jesus Christ, Substance Use/Abuse: Cocaine use, Underage Drinking Other Issues: Child abuse (less)
Ghoul Interrupted is another solid addition to a great series. M.J. continues to be tough AND smart (a rare combination in many modern fantasy novels)...moreGhoul Interrupted is another solid addition to a great series. M.J. continues to be tough AND smart (a rare combination in many modern fantasy novels) Heath continues to be sweet and dreamy and Gil continues to be a complete and utter wuss (all the while injecting hilarity). And finally, after sending a number of threatening letters to the author waiting patiently, DOC IS BACK! WOOT! I loves me some smart-talking parrot!
Fans of the series will not be disappointed with the action-packed plot and oh-so-scary moments. (less)
Cover Impressions: Very nice cover. Dark colors that portray the overall mood of the boo...more This and other reviews can be found on Reading Between Classes
Cover Impressions: Very nice cover. Dark colors that portray the overall mood of the book and eye-catching imagery. Can't wait to see how this theme continues through the rest of the series (Dear God, please let this be the first in a series).
The Gist: When children begin to die from a mysterious disease, it is discovered the those survivors are left with dangerous and frightening powers. A new special forces is quickly formed and the children are rounded up for "rehabilitation". At the age of 10, Ruby enters Thurmond and witnesses unspeakable horrors. When she escapes at the age of 16, the is quick to realize that it is not just the camps that had been the setting of these atrocities, but that the entire country had transformed into a dark and dangerous place.
Review: I can see already that this is going to be one of those reviews where I simply cannot do justice to the fabulosity of this book. Just a few chapters in, I found myself exclaiming "holy crap this is good!" and that didn't cease until the last page was turned. I am beyond excited for the upcoming release date and cannot wait to get a copy for my classroom. The Darkest Minds transcends issues of gender and genre preferences in the same way that The Hunger Games did. It is exciting, fast-paced and full of genuine emotion.
The world of this novel is horrible, but all too possible. Terrifying parallels can be drawn between the rehabilitation centers and concentration camps during WWII. It seems that danger lurks around every turn and almost no one can be trusted. The world building is intense and details are slowly unraveled as we move forward in the plot.
The characters are wonderfully well written and developed so that the reader comes to love them, but also recognizes that they are flawed in a very realistic way. Their relationships are so genuine and the romantic angle is weaved into the plot so that it supports the action, rather than stealing center stage. The villains (about whom I cannot give many details without spoiling the storyline) are equally well written and aided the plot in becoming one of the more exciting and horrifying ones that I have read this year.
I do not even know what else I can say. I am still reeling from the ending and wishing I was able to spend more time with these characters. Books like The Darkest Minds, are the reason I continue to love YA and why I get excited about bringing titles like these to the attention of my students. Alexandra Bracken, the YA world awaits news of the next release with baited breath - please hurry!
Age: 15 and up Gender: Both Sex: Kissing Violence: Gunplay, Knifeplay, Mind Control, Concentration Camps, Execution, Possible Rape Inappropriate Language: Asshole, Shit, Piss, Bullshit, Fucking, Bastard Substance Use/Abuse: None(less)
Cover Impressions: Not quite sure on this one. It certainly didn't attract me upon the r...moreThis and other reviews can be found on Reading Between Classes
Cover Impressions: Not quite sure on this one. It certainly didn't attract me upon the release. I only put this one on my list after reading several rave reviews. I like the purple background of the city, but the image in front doesn't quite seem to fit with it.
The Gist: On the heels of an incident involving a wealthy playboy and a little too much honesty, Evie O'Neill has been sent to New York to live with her uncle and aid him in the running of his museum. When a murderer starts depositing bodies around the city bearing mysterious markings, The Museum of Creepy Crawlies is thrust into the limelight and Evie embarks on a dangerous investigation that will bring her further into the occult, and into danger, than she ever thought possible.
Review: The Diviners is set in the 1920s. The setting plays such a strong role that it begins to behave as another character - a character that hogs spotlight and spouts and endless stream of dialogue. In the beginning, it is a charming and useful means of orientation. However, as the novel continues, and the slang and explanations or 20s customs begin slow the plot, it becomes incredibly tedious. As I got further and further into the book (and begin to note the sheer girth of the novel) I began to question whether 90% of it was necessary.
In addition to the wordiness of the author there was an issue with the size of the cast. Evie is a fun character, as were her friends, Mabel and Theta. I think I would have much preferred if the novel has simply followed them through this mystery. Instead, however, it jumps through countless characters and scenes in what soon becomes a dizzying game of "where the heck are we now?" I kept waiting for the characters to find one another and form new superhero group who takes on demons and ghosts but SPOILER ALERT they never do!
The mystery was solid and the deaths were scary to read. These scenes were among the most enjoyable for me (at least in a cringeworthy way). I was a little disappointed when the big baddie didn't turn out to have manifested or possessed a real person, but I could easily have gotten over that if there has been a few more answered questions. The Diviners ends, the bad guy is gone (ish), but there are many plot lines left hanging. I am as yet unsure whether or not I will return for the next in this series.
Age: 15 and up Gender: Both Sex: Kissing, Sex Violence: Gunplay, Murder, Dismemberment Inappropriate Language: Whore, Bitch Substance Use/Abuse: Underage Drinking, Marijuana Use Other Issues: Abortion, Suicide, Spousal Abuse(less)
Cover Impressions: I seem to recall that, when this cover was released, people were less...more This and other reviews can be found on Reading Between Classes
Cover Impressions: I seem to recall that, when this cover was released, people were less than enthusiastic. But I kinda like it. It isn't all the awesomeness of Darkest Minds, but it is still a solid cover. I like the colors and the star (compass??) under the ice. I do wish the imagery linked more closely with the book itself.
The Gist: Ruby's time with the Children's League is cut short as she is sent on a secret mission to recover a flashdrive. The information she is seeking could change the world as she knows it and, naturally, it rests in the hands of Liam Stewart - the boy she thought she left behind for his own good. Tracking him down means exposing herself, and her terrifying abilities, to those she loves and trusts. As she crosses the country she encounters danger at the hands of adults and teenagers alike and must decide whether her loyalty lies with her friends, or with her promises to the League.
I am a huge fan of The Darkest Minds. I have read it twice and I recommend it to all of my students and colleagues. I loved the way that Bracken managed to fill a young adult novel with cruelty and brutality but still maintain a warmth for her characters and a sense that things could get better. Though this theme continues in Never Fade, things do tend to seem a little more bleak. Ruby thought she had seen the worst that humanity had to offer, but she soon finds she has been mistaken. Nothing with the league is what it seems and her ability to trust has been destroyed time and time again. I still rooted for Ruby, and I love that she is a wonderfully broken character who continues to grow, but I found it a little difficult in getting to know the new characters. Perhaps, it is a testiment to how well Bracken wrote the characters in the last book, as I was simply awaiting their arrival. As such, I wasn't able to develop a love for the new characters while still mourning the old ones. Once we meet up with Chubs and Liam I almost sighed in relief and was finally able to relax into the story.
I almost wish I had done a re-read of The Darkest Minds before picking up Never Fade. There are very few reminders in the beginning of the book and I had a little trouble remembering the details of what had taken place already. I did really enjoy getting to see the inside of the League and the intrigue involved in determining exactly who was in charge. As the novel continued, it proved to be just as action packed as its predecessor, and just as poignant in its observation of the cruelty, but also the glimmers of kindness, possible by mankind. The ending did an excellent job of setting up for the next book in the series and leaving the author wishing the time away until the release date of #3.
I am most definitely in this series for the long haul. Buying a copy of this book for my classroom, recommending it to my student book club and anxiously awaiting my next foray into this world.
Age: 13 and up Gender: Both Sex: Kissing Violence: Fist Fighting, Gunplay, Knifeplay Inappropriate Language: Frequent: Jesus, Fuck, Shit, Dick, Substance Use/Abuse: Smoking (less)
Cover Impressions: This cover is kind of boring. We have Gwen's often mentioned violet eyes as a focal point but I am not a fan of the dragon? Griffin...moreCover Impressions: This cover is kind of boring. We have Gwen's often mentioned violet eyes as a focal point but I am not a fan of the dragon? Griffin? in the background. I am also annoyed by the portrayal of her snowflake necklace. The description in the book is of a delicate diamond tipped snowflake - yet the one in the cover image looks like it was picked up at the dollar store.
The Gist: Still reeling from the escape of Loki and Gwen's brush with death at the hands of his reapers, her safe haven at Mythos Academy is shattered by the appearance of the Protectorate. Suddenly Gwen is being accused of the unthinkable and she must defend herself or face execution.
Review: I read Crimson Frost right on the heels of finishing the first three books in this series. In the beginning, I cut Gwen quite a bit of slack. In series like these you often find a deeply flawed (and often annoying) main character whose experiences force her to grow as a person and gain some confidence in her abilities. However, Gwen just seemed to get more irritating as the books continued. I kept wanting her to grow up a little, but she never does. She is unable to piece together even the most obvious of clues and spends a lot of the book whining about her circumstances. She never stands up for her self and is incredibly self-centered. The other characters serve only to rescue Gwen, or to listen to her moan. Despite including several interesting mythologies, the only characters we really get to see in action are Spartans, Valkyries and, occasionally, Amazons. Why even bother mentioning the other types of warriors if you never plan to use them?
The plot itself is very predictable - partly because Gwen has to be beaten over the head with multiple clues before she will clue in to what is going on. I often found myself skimming pages because I had already figured out the plot twists and was waiting for Gwen to catch up. The action also ground to a halt every time that we came into contact with one of the villains. They seemed to all be suffering from some strange compulsion to spend pages explaining plans and facts that the reader has already figured out. It is almost like a satire of every action movie where the villain takes an inordinate amount of time to reveal every detail of his nefarious plot - except in the Mythos Academy novels, it isn't funny.
The first half of this book was dull and frustrating. Jennifer Estep is the queen of the re-cap. She feels the need to repeat (often in a very close to copy - paste fashion) nearly every detail from every book. I know what you are saying: but recapping is great for those who don't read the series back to back and yes, I agree. However, the repetition that bothers me is of innocuous points that do nothing to further the storyline. For example, in every single book she feels the need to remind me that the library is more hangout that place of work and that students go there to hook up, even going so far as to remind the reader that Gwen regularly finds condoms in the stacks. I DID NOT NEED TO READ THAT FOUR TIMES!
All of that being said, I think that I am mostly upset by this book because it has so much potential. The world that Estep has created is unique and interesting. I love novels that re-work and combine different mythologies. I enjoyed the side characters whenever they got a (brief) moment in the spotlight and sometimes found myself longing for the series to follow Daphne instead of Gwen. I also keep getting the feeling that this series is being stretched too thin. It could have been well developed and wrapped up within three or four books but, based on the plot progression thus far, is more likely to take nine or ten. Unfortunately, I think I will be getting off on this stop - that is, unless the next book promises more Logan and Daphne, less Gwen and some closure on a few underlying issues.
Age: 16 and up Gender: Female Sex: Kissing, talk of hooking up/sex Violence: Swordplay, lots of death Inappropriate Language: Whore, Slut, Bitch, Pissed, Ass Substance Use/Abuse: underage drinking, talk of marijuana use. (less)
Needed to suspend disbelief at the fact that the police and mayor allowed kids to get involved in a murder investigation. Also had to skim some lovey,...moreNeeded to suspend disbelief at the fact that the police and mayor allowed kids to get involved in a murder investigation. Also had to skim some lovey, dovey, will they, won't they crap. BUT didn't figure out the killer within the first 2 chapters, YAY!(less)