Fire Study, the final book in Maria V. Snyder's Study series, was once again well-written in a clean, simple and engaging style, but I found3.5 stars
Fire Study, the final book in Maria V. Snyder's Study series, was once again well-written in a clean, simple and engaging style, but I found some disappointment in the story itself.
Where the first book, Poison Study focused on fascinating character study and development, by the time we reach Fire Study the plot is very much action driven, and the experience does pale somewhat in comparison.
I really enjoy action in my novels, but not at the expense of character development. Those characters we came to love in Poison Study and Magic Study were relegated to the role of extras, and Yelena herself, rather then evolving and growing her character along with her magical abilities, seemed stuck. Where once her stubbornness was indicative of strength, here it came off more as immature, self-centered and at times just plain stupid.
The action, too, felt at times repetitive. Yelena gets in trouble, there is a fight, she is rescued/gets away - again and again. Yelena still has the makings of a fascinating character, she is strong, determined and ingenious, but because the focus of the book is on her so completely, it all becomes a bit much after a while. While I think the first person narrative still worked well in this series, for the first time I wondered whether we would have been better off with a broader view.
The world the author created continued to be fascinating, and I enjoyed learning more about various magical powers and abilities and their propensity for great good or even greater evil being influenced by basic human traits and flaws. There were also sufficient twists in the plot to keep it compelling
I do think my opinion of this book suffered a little due to having followed the previous book so closely. I would recommend a break between books, particularly between Magic Study and this one, to keep it feeling fresh. Had I done so, I imagine my rating may have been a solid four stars....more
Magic Study was another entertaining entry into the Study trilogy.
Yelena continues to be an interesting protagonist, and again I did not find the firsMagic Study was another entertaining entry into the Study trilogy.
Yelena continues to be an interesting protagonist, and again I did not find the first-person narrative detracted at all from the story. I think, somewhat surprisingly, that the story is more engaging for being told exclusively through Yelena. The author really makes it work.
Poor Yelena still can't cut a break - trouble seems to find her wherever she goes. In this installment, however, Yelena courted much of the trouble herself, in a way that some may find reckless. For myself, I felt it was completely in keeping with Yelena's character.
Yelena is reunited with her long lost family, but what should be a happy reunion is ruined by her brother's hatred and determination to see her captured as an Ixian spy. His animosity continues as Yelena reaches the Sitian Citadel to be trained in magic.
I really like the author's take on magic. She has a created a very interesting world and I enjoyed reading about the different powers and how these are harnessed.
Valek returns in an interesting way, and while I was happy to see more of him, their relationship had a very different feel now that their circumstances are so radically changed. We got to see a little more of favourites Ari and Janco, and compelling new characters like Moon Man and Kiki were also introduced.
I am really enjoying my return to straight fantasy with this engaging series and am looking forward to continuing the journey with Fire Study....more
Before I even get into my review, here’s a ‘community service announcement’:
Don’t make the same mistake as me and start this one without having the neBefore I even get into my review, here’s a ‘community service announcement’:
Don’t make the same mistake as me and start this one without having the next book on hand, because I guarantee you will regret it.
It’s not so much that this one ends on a cliffhanger per se, but the whole “Book one” and “Book two” designation is a little misleading. Lord of the White Hell is ONE book, that has been broken down into two parts, so you’re only getting half the story in this one.
And while I’m on that trail of thought – I’m not sure why that was done. I can only assume that it was based on an assumption that the length/size would potentially intimidate some readers - because the content itself didn’t warrant it. This is one of those stories that I could have happily continued reading on and on and on.
Lord of the White Hell is one of the best fantasy reads I’ve encountered in quite some time, with a little bit of something for most readers. The characterisations, in particular, were outstanding, and the world-building was fully realised without the need for major info-dumps. The characters were fascinating and genuine, and the world was vividly depicted.
Although this is most assuredly a fantasy novel, you’re essentially dealing with human, relatable characters in an historical setting. You don’t need to be a fantasy aficionado to enjoy this one, so don’t let the fantasy tag put you off. Some of the names may take a little getting used to, but persist through the opening and you’ll realize that the glossary at the back isn’t even necessary.
As an unrepentant lover of romance, I was particularly drawn to the relationship between Kiram and Javier. For me, this was the most compelling aspect of the book. This is the first book with a gay lead romance that I’ve read, but I hope it wont be the last. The dynamics were completely different from the typical m/f relationship, and it really worked for me. I loved that there was no gender imbalance – real or perceived – and it made it more compelling in my eyes.
I was wondering at the start whether Lord of the White Hell was a YA fantasy, but that’s not the case. The main characters are young adults – students in an elite Academy – but it’s ultimately an adult novel, even though it does retain something of a YA feel.
There are a number of aspects to the story – romantic, mysterious, magical, political, religious, prejudice and intolerance, friendship, loyalty, cultural, mystical and supernatural – all rolled into one brilliantly executed package in each and every way. At times the pace is on the slow side, but this just gives you further opportunity to immerse yourself in the expertly rendered characters and setting.
I cannot believe I don’t have the next one ready to go. ☹
For a young adult/teen novel, Mockingjay sure doesn't hold back. This was a surprising, at times gruesome and confronting read. Suzanne Collins kept mFor a young adult/teen novel, Mockingjay sure doesn't hold back. This was a surprising, at times gruesome and confronting read. Suzanne Collins kept me guessing in this one, weaving many twists and turns into the plot and not allowing the reader any more comfort than experienced by Katniss during the war on the Capitol. Characters you have come to like will die violently and suddenly. I just wasn't expecting this in a YA read.
The main hook from the last two books in The Hunger Games trilogy - who will Katniss chose? - is finally resolved, but unfortunately not to my satisfaction. I am happy with who she ends up with, but there was insufficient resolution with regards to the other contender. The limitations of first person narrative detracted from this novel in a way that wasn't such a concern in the previous two books. The ability to see and feel the POV of the other characters would have made this a far more satisfying and 'complete' novel.
Nevertheless, this was a great conclusion to a fantastic trilogy....more
Catching Fire was a thoroughly gripping read, but it didn't quite have the 'wow' factor that I found wAnother great entry in The Hunger Games trilogy.
Catching Fire was a thoroughly gripping read, but it didn't quite have the 'wow' factor that I found with The Hunger Games.
That may be because you can't repeat the impact of the original. It may also be because the author elected to follow a similar path, albeit with it's own surprises.
Although for me, I suspect in part that it may be because the first person narrative prevents us from seeing the protagonist, Katniss, as others do. She has, after all, secured the love of two exceptional guys in Peeta and Gale, and could also be the key that determines the future of this dystopian society.
As with The Hunger Games, the author leaves us with a cliff-hanger ending, although this one is a humdinger. You may want to have the next in the series lined up before you start this one.
This is one series that is well worth your time, young adult or not, and I can't wait to read Mockingjay....more
Poison Study wasn't quite what I was expecting. The context I had always assumed when this book was recommended was that of an adult romantic fantasy,Poison Study wasn't quite what I was expecting. The context I had always assumed when this book was recommended was that of an adult romantic fantasy, and I don't think that's what this is.
The writing style spoke of a young adult novel. That's not a bad thing - I really enjoyed the prose. It was strong and unassuming, providing no distraction from the story being told. And the story itself is very interesting.
But what makes Poison Study make the leap from good to great, is the protagonist Yelena. Yelena is an extremely well-drawn character. She is strong and honorable, whilst remaining realistically pragmatic. She never once strays into too-good-to-be-true or too-stupid-to-live territory. She is in an untenable situation and works to turn the circumstances to her advantage through blood, sweat and tears, not superhuman heroics.
The story is told in the first-person from Yelena's perspective, and it couldn't have been told as effectively any other way. We must know and see only what Yelena does as we try alongside her to navigate this world with its myriad of twists, deceptions and dangerous politics.
The character of Valek is also heightened when seen only through Yelena's eyes. He is a fascinating, intriguing character who I hope to see more of in the coming books. The side characters are also fully realized and add much to the story.
There is some romance, and it is pleasing, but not nearly enough for me to categorize this in any romance genre. I think if you were reading this book expecting a romance, you would likely be disappointed.
However, while Poison Study was not what I expected, I am glad it's what I got. If you like a well-written fantasy with one of the best female protagonists around, you will no doubt be very satisfied with this book. I'm really glad I finally took the time to read this one and have already ordered the next in the trilogy, Magic Study....more
There are already over 20,000 reviews on this one, so I wont add another. Suffice it to say that this time, the hype is well-deserved (IMHO). This isThere are already over 20,000 reviews on this one, so I wont add another. Suffice it to say that this time, the hype is well-deserved (IMHO). This is without a doubt the best YA book I have ever read. If you're like me and reluctant to read much YA, then I encourage you to give this one a go. The superlatives heaped upon it are, for once, on the money (again, IMHO). Also, be ready to read the next in the series because the ending leaves you hanging. Hate it when that happens, but not enough to down-grade my rating for this one. A very worthy 5 stars....more