This is the story of Ana who lives in the not to distant future where scientists and governments test for mental illnesses from birth and then segragates society into the "pures" who live in idyllic gated communities and the "crazies" everyone else who has predictors for mental illness, ranging from mild illnesses to the big three - depression, schizophrenia and anxiety. As you can quite safely assume the majority of the population is viewed as unpure and so are left to their own devices in major cities with the worst citizens locked up in various mental institutions that have opened up to "assist" these individuals.
Ana is born a pure with her father being the scientist who created the test to establish what mental illnesses a person has from birth. During her teenage years it is discovered that Ana's tests were done incorrectly and she does infact test positive for the big 3 meaning that she is outcast within her society and the government continually tests her to make sure that her mental health is stable. Providing she marries Jasper her childhood crush before her 18th birthday she is allowed to stay in the Pure community otherwise she has to go to the city to live. Shortly before her birthday Jasper dissapears leading her to investigate and uncover some very hard truths about the world which she has grown up in.
Let me just start off by staying what a fantastic and completely scary dystopian novel! I had read a few negative reviews about this book prior to requesting it via Netgalley - many were very offended about the authors take and description of mental illness. This outcry made me curious and I can safely say that while I have had experience with major depression (not personally, my mum suffered from it for most of my life) I didn't take offense at any point during the novel and infact I thought that it was a smart way to bring up real life issues to teens and young adults. I think what I love about the Dystopia genre so much is the ability to see where different avenues life, governments and politics can take you and explore safely how this could affect humanity - by safe I mean it's fairly clear to the reader that this isn't going to happen in their lifetime so it's a purely theoretical exercise of the imagination.
Ana's story starts off a bit slowly and I have to admit that I didn't really get into either her or the actual plot of the book until I was about a quarter of the way through. Once I got over that speed bump though boy was this a thrilling ride. The plots are actually quite complex yet really well managed for a book that isn't that long clocking in at just 432 pages. Aside from the standard dystopian ideas of controlling governments and conspiracies there is the extra thought provoking topics of mental illness and spirituality added in for the reader to mull over. I really enjoyed the actual theory of "the glimpse" as well and will be interested to see if there are more of these in the final book.
The characters are fairly stock standard however in saying that they are well rounded and I still enjoyed reading about them. By the end of the novel Ana really shows some backbone and I really enjoyed the layers and complexity of the relationship she has with her father in this novel. Jasper was probably the weakest link and I felt that some of his backstory was probably cut and edited out as not relevant which is a pity because I really felt that there was more to him than what the book gives him credit for. Cole was a fantastic character and love interest, I loved him he was so patient and kind even though he had been through such a hellish life.
There are some really confronting scenarios placed in this novel including suicidal toddlers and criminal abuse and negligence of mental patients. I found this very chilling and sometimes a little full on though it completely worked and added substance to this novel and was in context with the world building beautifully crafted by Merle. I think that this is a wonderful read for anyone who is willing to see this purely as a work of fiction or a theoretical exercise into the "what ifs" of a potential future. Perhaps give this one a miss if mental illness is a button pusher for you!
Thank you Netgalley and Faber and Faber for providing me with a copy of this novel for review. (less)
This was a guest review I wrote for Angelya from The Oaken Bookcase. It is part of the Discover Australian Fantasy feature, running all July on The Oa...moreThis was a guest review I wrote for Angelya from The Oaken Bookcase. It is part of the Discover Australian Fantasy feature, running all July on The Oaken Bookcase. Please visit the Aussie Fantasy page to see the other reviews and articles and also to enter the giveaway – you could win a copy of Embrace!
"Did you ever think we would be anything other than unbelievable?"
I have had both good and bad experience with YA angel novels in the past. Firstly there is the Uneartly series by Cynthia Hand with I absolutely loved, then there are books like Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick which I would quite happily burn, and Fallen which I put down as DNF after struggling to get through the first 100 pages! I had first chosen to read Embrace at the beginning of the year when choosing books for the 2012 Debut Author Challenge hosted by The Story Siren. Much to my surprise I discovered that Jessica Shirvington is in fact a fellow Aussie and this book has been out Down Under for quite awhile now! I was so keen to read it I broke my ebook only rule and actually purchased the physical book (sadly the ebook is NOT available in Australia along with many other wonderful YA books I’m desperate to purchase!).
Embrace is the story of Violet who has never particularly enjoyed her birthdays as her mother died shortly after giving birth to her. On her 17th birthday her mother had left her a gift including a strange letter hinting about faith and otherwordly concepts leaving her feeling quite confused. Shortly after turning 17 Violet discovers she is part angel and has to decide whether to forgo her angel heritage or “embrace” this side of her fully.
I really liked Violet as a character for the most part of this book. She starts off strong, self sufficient and completely relatable. It’s actually a nice change to have a girl who is fit and sporty as a central character for no reason other than she wants to be, I can’t really think of another main heroine who is like that. Through the book she gets quite ragey and spiteful which is out of character and at first I was puzzled by it then caught on that there were paranormal influences at work and this just worked for the story. Like any good heroine Violet isn’t perfect, she makes mistakes, learns a lot and really grows into her new world as the story progresses while still managing to stay grounded in her normal day to day life.
Like so many Young Adult books there are 2 guys and I found both of them to be completely HOT, there is the quiet, reserved “good” guy Lincoln and then the dark mysterious “bad” boy Phoenix who both get quite a bit of air time. Now I’m sure there will be quite a few Phoenix fans out there but I must be drawn to the strong silent type or something because I swear if she ends up with Phoenix at the end of this quartet I will have to smack her over the head for her stupidity! For a bit of fresh air in a YA book there is actually some sex which is so rare these days I actually reread the scene because I was like “did she just do that… like really did she?!!!” Both of the guys really are more than they seem, their characters are definitely much deeper then just good and bad and this is what really made this story a great read. I personally can’t wait to find out more about Phoenix’s backstory in the future books.
I really enjoyed the angel mythology and premise of this world as well and can’t wait to find out more, the whole “Embrace” trials to accept your Grigori powers was really interesting and I will be interested to find out even more about the myhology in the remaining books of the series. I really liked how the whole Angel and Grigori lore was new to Violet as well and the information was given out in a way that didn’t make it too overwhelming – you just went on the learning journey with her as the story progressed.
Overall I found this to be a fantastic debut novel by a great Aussie author and think anyone with an interest in Angel or paranormal stories will appreciate this story!(less)
I don't know where to begin with this review. I don't often read contemporary novels they just aren't my cup of tea but on a whim after reading the synopsis on Netgalley I decided to request this one. Wow I am so glad that I did this book was spectacular - I couldn't put it down and instead of getting things done when my daughter was in daycare one day, I read this book from beginning to end in bed at many points crying as some parts were just heartbreaking. This is not your typical good girl/bad boy love affair, this is gritty and real with both the main characters beautifully flawed and complex.
Echo Emerson had it all until one day something horrific happened which she has blocked out completely. She woke up in hospital covered in injuries and lucky to be alive. Noah was on the straight and narrow until his parents tragically died in a house fire one night leaving him and his 2 younger brothers at the mercy of the foster care system. Both these two students have so much potential that with the help of a new school therapist they try to work through their issues before finishing their senior year.
Echo was a beautiful leading lady I couldn't help but feel for her considering everything that had happened in her life. Beyond her blocked memories, she had also lost her brother in Afghanistan and her father was now married and expecting another child with her former baby sitter. Her relationships with her mother, father, best friends in high school plus both her ex boyfriend and Noah are all wonderfully handled really giving you a good insight into a strong young woman who has had too much to cope with for such a young age.
Noah and everything to do with his character is about his younger brothers and how to eventually rescue them from the foster care system that failed him miserably. At the beginning he comes across arrogant and insufferable but you quickly realise that this is purely a defence mechanism he's used to cope with the unfair hand he's been dealt in life. As he studies with Echo and slowly spends more time reevaluating his future he turns into the most kind hearted and wise teenage boy I think you could ever meet!
The chemistry between these two is just hot hot hot! The book is filled with witty banter and sparks are seriously flying off the page every time these two come into contact. Aside from the sexual tension which is just rife in this novel, these two without meaning too provide each other an outlet for healing, probably more so then any therapy could provide. Like so many things in this book this could have been handled poorly coming across unrealistic or awkward but it simply works and it's an experience to go on the journey with these brave individuals.
It's one of those wonderful books where every chapter you think you have a handle and opinion on each of the characters, only to have even more information revealed and it gives you a completely different take on their actions. You slowly peel away all the different layers and get behind the untruths and emotional blocks to finally see the whole story clearly and man what a great story it was. This is one of the best books I've read this year, I just loved it and can't recommend it highly enough even if contemporary books aren't normally your thing I urge you to give it a go!(less)
Kyle took a deep breath, like he had picked up on the question I hadn't asked. That was one of the differences between him and Jason: Kyle always gave just as much weight and consideration to the things I didn't say as to the things I did.
When I first saw Hemlock on the list of 2012 Debut Authors I instantly fell in love with the cover. I then saw it was about werewolves and hesitated as this isn’t really a topic that greatly interests me. The cover love won out and I selected it as one of the 12 debut author novels I would read for the 2012 challenge, and how glad am I!
Set in the small town of Hemlock just 5 months after the death of her best friend, Mackenzie is still grieving and feeling haunted by Amy’s vicious death by a white werewolf. When the Trackers – an extreme anti werewolf task force come to town by police invitation Mac soon gets caught up in a web of intimidation, lies and politics. Between working out who Amy’s killer is, trying to keep Amy’s boyfriend and her friend Jason from self destruction and struggling with her feelings for Kyle her best friend, this book is jam packed with action, suspense and relationships.
This was a wonderful mystery/thriller that had a dose of paranormal mixed in to create a fantastic book concoction! The whole premise that the government had to admit that werewolves existed as the spread of LS (Lupine Syndrome) was just too much to keep under wraps, and the idea that anyone infected is sent away to special camps felt realistic and I wanted to find out more. Add in the Trackers a group of fanatical werewolf haters who are well known to go outside the boundaries of the law to destroy those hiding their infection and you have a world fraught with change and fear. The town of Hemlock gave the appearance of a small sleepy American town which was given the spotlight after a rash of werewolf attacks, the last of which happened to Amy, Mackenzie’s best friend.
I really loved the main character Mackenzie. She had so much heart, even after having such a rough start in life. You find out that Mackenzie has witnessed and experienced some pretty gruesome things in her past, especially relating to the Trackers and I love that this book doesn’t shy away from the brutal reality of things. She has a great sense of loyalty to her friends and to Tess her guardian which is displayed through virtually all her actions within this book.
I really enjoyed the love triangle in this novel. Both the boys sound a bit boring at first glance – Jason, the bad boy and Kyle the perfect best friend. When you get below the surface both of them are wonderfully crafted, flawed but beautiful individuals. I especially loved the character of Jason, he’s so clearly messed up and just needs someone to help him make it all better. I love how he grows and develops through the story and the inner strength he shows towards the end when all his beliefs are turned upside down.
The actual plot in this story is also fantastic and I could barely put this book down I was really keen to find out what would happen next. I did have a pretty good idea where things would eventuate by about two thirds through but that didn’t lessen my enjoyment of the story. I’m also looking forward to finding out more about the underground werewolf community in the sequel. I strongly urge you to consider picking this book up if you like a good paranormal mystery!
Thank you Edelweiss and Harper Collins for providing me with a copy of this novel for review. Hemlock is released today the 8th May 2012.(less)
This book was released shortly after I started book blogging and I seemed to see rave reviews for it everywhere. I desperately wanted to read it and while it took me nearly 3 months to get onto it, it was worth the wait - the book really does live up to the hype!
The only real negative I have for this book was that the opening couple of chapters didn't really pull me in, I found the scenes with her father and arranged marriage a little confusing and at the time I started to already file the book into the "average" category. Thankfully these are very quick and short lived chapters with the majority of the story being about Ismae's journey after she discovers her life as a daughter of death and things become very interesting very quickly.
Ismae is a wonderful character, after coming from such a rough background of fear, ridicule and physical abuse she takes to her role as an assassain or "daughter of death" quite well. The introductory segment of her life in the convent isn't long but gives you the distinct impression of a kinder time in her life that cultivates her thirst for veageance and distrust of men.
During her time at the convent you meet her 2 friends - Sybella and Annith who I'm assuming we'll see more of in the remainder of the trilogy as they are given a fair bit of air time but don't seem that important to the plot of Grave Mercy.
The real heart and soul of this novel however is the time spent on the road and in court with Duval. This is where the sheltered Ismae really begins to understand the impact of death and the complexity of guilt, innoncence, right and wrong and it really makes this a stand out piece of literature.
The political intrigue and plot twists in this book are thoroughly enjoyable and while not at the level of complexity that some high fantasy series manage to excel at, still brilliantly executed considering the book's length.
The romance between Duval and Ismae is carefully drawn out and incredibly believable in the storytelling. There is no love at first sight though chemistry is definitely sparking off the pages early on. I really enjoy books that don't hurry the romance and instead let it come to life on its own throughout the story and this book delivers exactly that.
I can't say enough how much I enjoyed this book and can not wait until the sequel comes out. Anyone who enjoys traditional fantasy novels but wants something a little less intense and slightly more Young Adult should give this book a go.
Grave Mercy is my new go to book now when people ask me for book recommendations!(less)
I wasn’t expecting much from this book other than a gorgeous cover after all the argy bargy and drama between book bloggers, the author and the publicist. I decided to give it a go anyway and to be honest I’m really glad I did! While this isn’t the most deep and meaninful book it was a lot of fun and I enjoyed it thoroughly in the same guilty fashion that I enjoy eating ice cream while watching The Biggest Loser. You know your not really meant to be liking it but you can’t help but secretly love every moment of it!
Set in Illea which replaced the USA after a large and brutal war in the not too distant future, this book is about a 16 year old girl called America. America is selected as one of 35 girls to compete for the love and marriage of Illea’s crown prince in a large marketing reality tv type affair to give the people of Illea some live entertainment and distraction not unlike the ancient Romans did with the Colleseum. While most girls are honoured to be selected from their region to compete, America isn’t. America is already in love with a boy called Aspen and is not remotely interested in marrying the prince however accepts her selection because her family needs the financial aid and publicity it affords them.
While this is a Dystopian it’s the lightest one I’ve read yet and I hope that the sequel gives a bit more background information into this world. You are introduced in this novel to the caste system of Illea – the royal family being of Caste 1 and lowly servants being caste 6. America is a singer and is of Caste 5 still considered incredibly low on the totem pole and her family while gifted in the arts find it very hard to make ends meet between work. There is also information woven into the story as to how Illea is formed after effectively World War 3, however not much information is given about the rebels that pop up throughout the story – I’m assuming to keep everything dangerous and mysterious.
America is not a particularly easy character to like. She is pretty self centred and to be frank if I had been the prince I would have gotten rid of her at the very beginning - she is really quite mean to him and he just takes beating after beating by her. The prince is pretty wishy washy and really needs a bit more of a backbone. There were some glimmers of true leadership from him throughout the book and I sincerely hope we see more in the sequel otherwise this guy is going to end up being the most whipped King you could come across! The whole interaction between the different ladies competing was actually really well done even though there is the cliche mean girl who is kept in though absolutely no one likes her except apparently the prince. It really reminds me a bit of Gossip Girl meets The Bachelor and it doesn’t surprise me that this book has been picked up for a TV series.
Overall while the writing was a bit clunky at times and the main character was a bitch, this book was still pretty addictive and I enjoyed reading it immensely. If your looking for a light hearted read between episodes of Gossip Girl or Revenge I think this book would be for you!
Thank you Edelweiss and HarperTEEN for providing me with a copy of this novel for review. The Selection was released on 24th April 2012 so check out the links below to purchase it now!(less)
I had high hopes for this novel, it was Young Adult, it had time travel and Shakespeare all things that make up a “me” kind of book. Unfortunately my high hopes were dashed and fairly early on I might add - this book was unfortunately a very light read, without much substance and the actual plot I found very difficult to swallow.
Miranda is kidnapped from the present day by a time traveller called Stephen Langford so that she can travel back in time to the 1500s and seduce Shakespeare in order to keep him from becoming a priest, forever altering the world as we know it. Without more than a minute of protest she goes off in time and agrees to sleep with Shakespeare by posing as Stephens’s sister and before you know it she's a co-conspirator of this crazy plot. Miranda is chosen by Stephen for this task as she is well versed in Shakespeare’s works and for this reason will fit into life during the 16th century without any problems.
This entire summary really displays how weak the storyline of Kissing Shakespeare is, and in fact reading back over it has me rolling my eyes all over again. How or why anyone could be friendly with someone who had taken them against their will is beyond me, and I absolutely hate virginal female leads who are willing to "give it up" for the most ridiculous and flimsy reasons. Your either open to sex and sexual encounters or you’re not, one minute Miranda was all for it, the next she wasn't because she wasn't a "slut" that type of melodrama really gets on my nerves. I also felt that any modern day teenager would severely struggle with the etiquette and lifestyles of someone in the 1500s let alone be expected to impersonate someone.
The characters really let this story down in general. Stephen wasn't particularly likeable though he was clearly meant to be a wonderful considerate man. Miranda while sweet was a little stupid at times which I found quite irritating and Shakespeare himself was written as a bit of a womaniser and flirt. The entire time Miranda was trying to seduce him I couldn't quite work out why Stephen thought that this would be the best option. To me it was fairly clear that Shakespeare really needed some good friends who he could be honest with about his writing passion and thoughts about priesthood. I actually thought that this seemed a much more rational approach and could have easily turned into a romantic liaison if that’s what the author wanted and it would have seemed much more believable to the reader.
What this book did well was that it moved quickly and was well written making this very easy to read and overall enjoyable if you were willing to overlook the actual main plot. The descriptions of the English countryside and life of the 16th century was nicely handled, I really liked hearing about it without there being too much descriptiveness unnecessarily bulking out the story. I was a bit surprised by the ending - I really had thought things were going to be different and was surprised that Stephen didn't explain that he had seen Miranda as some brilliant Shakespearean actor in her future leading him to choose her. I will be interested to see if this stays as a stand alone or if the author decides to write sequels either with Mirander or Stephen as the main character.
While this book wasn't by any means a favourite of mine I still did enjoy the reading experience for the most part. I think that if you are after a fairly fast easy to read YA novel and you like time travel or historical romances this is worth picking up.
Thank you Netgalley and Random House Children's Books for providing me with a copy of this novel for review. Kissing Shakespeare is released on 14th August 2012 and can be purchased via the links below.(less)
Wow this was a fantastic book! I am not surprised to discover that this was originally written years ago on fictionpress and has only more recently been edited and published by a professional publishing house – it’s beautifully written and really packs a punch! This is one of those Young Adult novels that really gets it right, the world building is simply brilliant, I loved this war torn land and can’t wait to find out more about the magical elements that have been driven underground. The characters and character development is handled well and the writing is filled with witty banter. Even though the book is 400 odd pages it’s a fast read – highly entertaining.
This is the story of Celaena a teenage girl who also happens to be the most feared assassin of Ardalan. At some point prior to this book taking place, Celaena is betrayed and caught and the book starts with her imprisoned in the salt mines of Endovier where prisoners are sent to work to the death. Where most prisoners die within mere months, Celaena has managed to last a year so far without breaking her spirit. Enter the handsome prince Dorian who gives Celaena a chance at freedom if she will compete as his contender to become the King’s champion against other criminals all desperate for pardons and a fabulous salary. Things start getting scary when something starts killing off competitors one by one and Celaena is determined to find out and stop whatever it is before it comes after her.
What I loved most about this story was the character of Celaena, I just found her so relatable. She was strong, intelligent and confident and not in the least bit ashamed to admit it. She was also scarred and vulnerable with a traumatic past that is continuously alluded to in the story – it just made me want to give her a great big hug. There are elements of a love triangle in this novel but it’s a weak one – romance is definitely not a major part of this story it just enhances your understanding of the characters and gives you an insight into their personalities. The crown prince Dorian is well done, given his background as a pampered ladies man he could have been so unlikeable but he is witty and the flaws just give him room for growth and he definitely grows during this novel. The other love interest is captain of the royal guard and Dorian’s best friend Chaol, who is the strong silent type. Now this is a man I think many women would get behind, behind that tough battle strong exterior is a vulnerable man just waiting for the right woman to love him and make things all better. I will be very surprised if this isn’t who Celaena ends up with in the end though I’m sure many would disagree with me!
The world of Ardalan is beautifully depicted and I really need to go and read all the prequels that Maas released to see if you get further information into the wars and loss of the magic in the world. I’m also interested to find out more about the assassins’ guild that is mentioned numerous times when hearing about Celaena’s past.
There is simply so many hints and references given in this beautifully told story that I just can’t wait to see where things head in the future sequels. This was a wonderful fantasy story I enjoyed it immensely and Celaena is a fantastic heroine and role model for a Young Adult crowd.
Thank you Netgalley and Bloomsbury UK & ANZ for providing me with a copy of this novel for review. Throne of Glass is released on 2nd August 2012 and I most definitely recommend you pre-ordering your copy!(less)
“Who am I?” My first spoken words. “No one,” she said. “Nosoul.”
In a world of 1 million souls that have been reincarnated countless times over the span of 5000 years, on one fateful night the temple flashed dark during the birth of a baby girl. Instead of a normal reincarnation, no one they know is living in this baby girl’s body. She is a new soul, or as some believe a person with no soul. The person who was meant to be reincarnated is gone for good.
This is the premise for Jodi Meadows debut novel Incarnate and I admit I was really intrigued. I wasn’t sure if this book was going to take a very spiritual journey into life and death and the very essence of a soul, but I had high expectations that I was going on a thought provoking journey. I was very disappointed.
Incarnate is a well written story but to be frank it is a very run of the mill Young Adult paranormal romance that doesn’t really bring anything new to the table. The story starts out strong, leaving you sympathising with Ana who has been downtrodden her entire life by her mother who whisked her away at birth to the isolated countryside. You first meet Ana as she leaves home for the first time ready to find out why she is so different. On this journey she meets Sam who rescues her from a Slyph, the first of a number of mythological baddies that crop up in this world, and with his gentleness and music he helps thaw out a lifetime of neglect and abuse.
The story starts to go downhill by the time they reach Heart, the beautiful utopian city that the million souls live in. First there is a pretty thin storyline insisting that the 2 of them live together without allowing them to actually “be” together. Then there is this rather vague religion that is complete with a sinister temple and a mysterious godlike being, Janan who reincarnates them all. Multiple events crop up to further the plot and each time it happens Ana seems to connect the dots just a little too easily or makes some pretty large decisions with little to no evidence. I get that she is smart but I almost feel like parts of the stories are rushed and don’t ring true just because it has to happen in order for the larger story to play out.
The romance between Sam and Ana is really the main event in this book and it is a sweet romance. Its my belief that this book is really just setting the scene in the romance department and book 2 is going to revolve around how much these 2 souls are meant to be together not just in this life but in all reincarnations. The scene in the library looking through all of Sam’s past reincarnations and the Masquerade ball explaining the soul dedication make that all pretty plain to me.
Both characters had some fairly questionable personality flaws if you look at them individually. I liked the character of Sam to begin with but he really fell apart somewhere around the middle of the book. He became an absolute wuss and I just couldn’t really see why, in fact I wanted to slap him and tell him to man up for goodness sake. I in no way expect all male leads to be alpha males, but surely someone who has lived for 5000 years has some inner fortitude in the face of an emergency? I also don’t really believe that anyone who has faced the emotional and physical abuse that Ana did over 18 years could over the course of 2-3 months become such a strong resourceful person. The author did such a good job in the beginning with Ana’s emotional state yet it seemed to just magically go away after 3 weeks with Sam, yeah I don’t think so.
After a great well paced beginning and a slow stagnant middle the last part of the book is insanely fast. The amount that happens in the last few chapters left me having to reread sections to make sure I really understood everything that was happening. In saying that though, the story wrapped up nicely leaving the reader with just enough tantalizing new information and questions for the sequel.
Overall I think it’s filled with great writing and an enjoyable love story, but it all played out a little bit too safe. I was left with the feeling that if the author had been willing to delve more into some of the deeper questions and mysteries that the premise allowed this could have been something truly amazing.
“There was no telling if I’d be reborn when I died, but the waltz began and ended with my four notes. He’d built the music around things that reminded him of me. And now this name. My name.”
"We’d both been stripped of all the evasiveness, all the lies, everything we’d ever kept from each other. Layer by layer, we had given up our defenses and our excuses and our demands for whys and hows, and what was left were two broken beings. Clinging to one last shred of hope. Tethered to each other."
I just loved the idea of this book, as soon as I read the synopsis I was intrigued and knew I had to get my hands on it. This book centers around Nikki, a forfeit who has just been released from the underworld to spend a final 6 months on earth before being given over to the tunnels. The story sends you on a journey of what happens in those final 6 months plus interchanging chapters giving you insight into the 6 months of her life leading up to her entering the underworld.
This book started off really slow - At 20% in I was worried that it was going to be a big waste of time. I didn't really get the whole tunnels/Everneath premise and couldn't really relate to Nikki at all. I also didn't buy the fact that she disappeared quite literally off the face of the planet and no one seemed that concerned by her sudden reappearance. At no point in the story does her family actually push her to find out what happened which doesn't seem very realistic to me. As more of the back story was revealed and I really got into the romance that is Jack and Nikki I could relax and forget about some of these eyebrow raising plot holes and just enjoy the wonderful characters. By the time I finished the book I was hooked and like a junkie I wanted more.
The strength of this novel lies in it's characters and character development. Nikki, our heroine is a beautiful character who a has to deal with some pretty full on issues for an adult let alone a teenager. While she seems weak at first, the way the story is written, slowly revealing little pieces of her history in between what is happening in the present really helps you connect with her. It shows her inner strength, personality flaws and all and it would be a rare person who couldn't understand her actions by the books conclusion.
Jack - wow, just wow. For a story based on myths and legend, Ashton has definitely come up with a modern day hero. Jack is a solid male lead and secondary character, that really rounds this book out. It is Jack that stops you from disregarding this as a typical teenage romance its just so clear that he really genuinely cares about Nikki, both as a girlfriend and his lifelong friend. I am normally quite cynical about the relationships in Young Adult novels, often finding them erring on the side of ridiculous and these two really hooked me in and had me rooting for them.
The book is pitched as a love triangle with the 2nd love interest being the Everliving Cole who got Nikki into this mess to begin with. Cole is an interesting if slightly two dimensional character. He starts off quite strong and mysterious, your not quite sure if he really is a bad boy or if he's just misunderstood. Unfortunately his character doesn't really develop that much through the story other than to fill you in on important information which means that this love triangle is pretty lack lustre. I expect that we'll see a lot of Cole development in the sequel.
There were plenty of little heartfelt moments through this book that just keep endearing you towards it. The scene where Nikki overhears her dad talking about his difficulties with Nikki to her mother just tugged at me and this novel is full of small occurrences like this one.
Because the story switches between the past and present you have a good idea where it is leading and it works in the stories favour, really building your anticipation. The story itself was paced really well and like the clock ticking down the pace gets faster and faster as it draws to the inevitable final scenes and ends with a nail biting finale.
This story is a breath of fresh air even though its loosely based on ancient myth and I definitely think anyone who enjoys mythology or young adult romance will find this a worthwhile read.(less)
I originally passed over this book after reading the blurb as I believed this story to be predominantly science fiction with a large cyborg element, a topic that doesn’t interest me in the slightest. Somehow I completely missed the fact that this was a modern fairytale retelling of Cinderella much to my dismay and was very excited to see it in the library during a visit one week. Once I started this book I found it incredibly difficult to put down it was so good, this is a debut novel that should not be overlooked!
Set in New Beijing sometime in the future after World War IV, the world is terrified by a very real and terrible plague called Letumosis which is highly contagious and completely deadly. Medical technology is much more advanced and humans who once would have died in accidents can now become cyborgs and live, but as second class citizens looked down upon by society. Cinder is a young mechanic who works to fund the social lives of her stepmother and two step sisters. After one of her step sisters contracts Letmosis, her stepmother sends Cinder off to be a cyborg volunteer at the research centre trying to find a cure for this deadly plague. From here Cinder’s whole world goes into a huge spin as she discovers things about herself and her past that she would never have dreamed.
Cinder is a wonderful character, definitely much more defiant and independent then the original Cinderella and I really enjoyed her point of view and telling of this story. The entire Cinderella retelling was just wonderful, there was enough elements of the original fairytale in the book that gave it a comforting familiar touch but it still managed to be so very unique. I especially loved the twist on the dramatic ball scene with Cinder’s grand entrance and reveal to the handsome prince!
The romance between Prince Kai and Cinderella was nicely done, not too thick or unrealistic and definitely not overally dramatic which I really enjoyed. Prince Kai was just a lovely male love interest in general and I think is a wonderful ruler – a great mix of empathy and inner strength! At the end when Kai discovers Cinder’s secret it was just heart breaking and so beautifully done, I just felt so sorry for the both and wished they could have their happily ever after.
The added plot twists with the Lunar civilisation was fascinating and really sets this book apart from the average Cinderella retelling. I found the Lunar people fascinating and loved the tension and anxiousness when the Lunar Queen descends onto Earth. I can’t wait to find out more about this in the future books of the Lunar Chronicles!
This has really been one of the best books I’ve read so far this year and I am incredibly impressed considering Cinder is written by a debut author. I think that this is a story that will suit anyone – don’t let the science fiction elements put you off as this really isn’t the heart of this novel. Cinder is a mystery, science fiction, love story and paranormal all in one and boy does it really work!(less)