It is not a common occurrence for me to find myself so conflicted by a book. On the one hand, I like how the development of the characters is progress...moreIt is not a common occurrence for me to find myself so conflicted by a book. On the one hand, I like how the development of the characters is progressing but on the other hand, I deplore the actions taken by the protagonist. In fact, I am disturbed by these actions and despite the protagonist reflecting on her actions and feeling remorse for what she did, I still am not convinced that she has completely redeemed herself – or whether it is even possible to redeem oneself from actions that have such horrible consequences. I don’t know whether that was the author’s intention or my subjective reading (and interpretation).
If I were writing a review for a publication, I would focus more on the technical aspects such as pacing etc. but as this review is for my blog and I tend to be more informal and intimate, I feel at ease discussing the details of the novel. Sophronia is an interesting character but like before, she reads way older than her age (14) and comports herself in a manner more suited to girls way older than her age. And though she is not aware of it, she is quite charming, especially to members of the other sex. There is a bit of romance going on and the love triangle is completely perplexing given the strict social class divisions – I am not sure how her attraction to one of the boys will work out but it is refreshing to have a person of colour as a love interest in a period piece. That said, I wasn’t too impressed with the way the other dude was handled.
The friendship between the girls was a strength of this novel and the plot was tightly drawn out. I enjoyed the book initially but left it feeling rather unsettled. I am curious to see what adventures Sophronia goes on next but I hope the romance remains at the periphery of the series because really, their exploits are so much fun without the whole moaning and swooning spoiling it.(less)
I waded into These Broken Stars not knowing what it was about or what sub-genre of YA it fit into. I remembered being intrigued by the synopsis back w...moreI waded into These Broken Stars not knowing what it was about or what sub-genre of YA it fit into. I remembered being intrigued by the synopsis back when I first added the novel to my to read list so I figured I was good. I also did not know that the novel was a collaboration between two different authors, a good thing in this case, and so I had no expectations and no biases when I started reading it.
The similarities between the space ship and Titanic are striking. The division of the classes, the hubris of its creators and the tragic end all point to Titanic and while I am not sure whether this was an intentional allusion, I appreciated its presence. The novel is told in alternating third person limited point of view and this is where the distinct voices of the authors comes across. Usually, I am not a fan of the alternating perspectives in novels because it takes skill to distinguish between two voices and most often it just ends up sounding like the same person under a different name (and gender). If both points of view are first person, that’s even worse. However, in These Broken Stars, Kaufman and Spooner manage to make Tarver and Lilac sound like two separate and distinct people without their styles and voices clashing.
I also liked the frame structure of the novel. It is obviously a recounting of the events that occurred while Tarver and Lilac were stranded on the planet so on the one hand, it is assuring the reader that both protagonists have somehow survived the event but at the same time, the reader is privy to the events that occurs but Tarver chooses to keep hidden. For the bulk of the novel, Lilac and Tarver are the only two characters in the present in the novel and this was handled quite exceptionally by maintaining a constant level of tension but allowing for some downtime once and again. The romance is sweet without being too consuming and I liked how it is a gradual development though there is instant attraction between the two.
The novel is a strong one. It manages to be unpredictable and innovative. I do wish we had seen more of the father but I think that we will in the sequel. I appreciated that there is a shift in power near the end – we just have to wait and see what happens and how it’s handled. Lilac’s relationship with her father is troubling and I would have liked to read more scenes discussing that. When all is said and done, however, I truly enjoyed this novel; therefore, I recommend it to you.(less)
I’ve been a huge fan of Barnes’s novels – well, I liked her werewolf series and Every Other Day. Unfortunately, everything I have read after that s...moreSo…
I’ve been a huge fan of Barnes’s novels – well, I liked her werewolf series and Every Other Day. Unfortunately, everything I have read after that seems to fall short of my expectations and I don’t understand why. But since I analyze things, I will analyze my reactions to her recent novels and try to understand.
Okay. Here’s the thing – if you are a non-American reading a YA novel written by an American author, and if you are an academic who does things like analyzing YA trends, you will quickly realize some similarities in character construction...
Helen Keeble’s sophomore offering to the YA genre is a pithy, sassy standalone novel (woohoo!) that though dealing with the tired and tried angel trop...moreHelen Keeble’s sophomore offering to the YA genre is a pithy, sassy standalone novel (woohoo!) that though dealing with the tired and tried angel trope, manages to do it with some freshness. There are nephilims present in the novel; it wouldn’t be an angel novel without them. However, the melodrama is absent. Even though there is not much space to play around where the angel trope is concerned, Keeble does manage to do some new and innovative things with a huge helping of humour to spice things up.
Rafe is probably no one’s idea of an angel. Well, no one outside the young adult fiction world that is. He is an adolescent boy prone to all the numerous hormonal issues that come with it. He is not particularly good either or self-sacrificing so when he finds out that he is an angel, well, things get rather fun for the reader but tense for Rafe. Krystal is handsdown my favourite character in the novel. I love how no nonsense she is and how she remains the saucy voice of reason.
I also really loved how Keeble subverted the YA-heroine trope. I love how she plays with characterization and irony and how the readers’ expectations based on their familiarity with the genre is again twisted to produce something more fun and innovative. The story itself is nothing new – in fact, I do think that Buffy has the same premise. The novel’s success rests entirely on the characters and the wit. The ending is a bit rushed and there is a whiff of deus ex machina in the resolution; however, the portion following the climax more than makes up for it.
This was a fun introduction to Helen Keeble and it ensured that I will give her books another chance. For the chuckles.(less)
If I had had any fear that the sequel to last year’s The Darkest Minds would disappoint, it was put to rest when I finally sunk my teeth into an e-arc...moreIf I had had any fear that the sequel to last year’s The Darkest Minds would disappoint, it was put to rest when I finally sunk my teeth into an e-arc of it that I was lucky enough to get off NetGalley. The first novel ended at a spectacular place where Ruby finally decides to act; she takes a risk and uses her abilities to erase all memories of herself from the boy she loves. Simply because she knows that to keep him with her would be to destroy him and she would rather be without him than have him be a shade of the person she fell in love with.
The curtains open with Ruby on a mission of sorts with the rebel group she has been forced to ally herself with. Their objective is to steal a prisoner from the enemy gaols. The mission is not just dangerous on its own but Ruby also has to worry about the sinister plans of the men she has to think of as comrades. And when Ruby does rescue the prisoner, she finds out his identity and it is the very last person she wanted to see: Liam’s brother.
The novel is crammed full of action and the pace moves at breakneck speed. While Ruby was largely passive in the first installment, in this one she is very much in charge and acts with a certainty that sits well on her shoulders. The side characters, though numerous, are well developed as are the villains whose very ways sent chills up my spine. Though the group broke up at the end of the last book, they get together again – each of them different in profound ways and I really appreciated the changes in the characters as this gives the reader the sense that they really do exist. Even if contained within a fictional universe, their lives are there and lived. I loved the emphasis on friendship and how even the most recalcitrant characters end up bonding. Ruby’s prickly exterior is a front, a façade she puts up as protection because she knows that to care is to be vulnerable but she has no choice but to concede defeat because of how awesome one of the characters is.
The largely evil character, the president’s son, makes a reappearance in this novel but I think Bracken has just about convinced me that he is more than a couple of screws short. The novel ends on another spectacular, emotionally charged note where things could go in any direction and though it’s not a cliffhanger, it certainly intrigued me and wishing for more.
As usual, I loved the romance in this. It was handled just right and hit all the right notes in the execution. Ruby’s decision to erase Liam’s memories was addressed and I liked that there were consequences to the action but that they were not drawn out and overly melodramatic. You don’t really get to be Romeo and Juliet when the world is falling apart around you.
All in all, this is a fantastic sequel to the first novel. If you have been wondering whether to continue this series, I think you should stop waffling and just add it to your reading pile. It’s that good.(less)