A lot of people don't like this Vampire Academy book as much, but it's one of my favorites. There are breath-taking battle sequences at the end, and aA lot of people don't like this Vampire Academy book as much, but it's one of my favorites. There are breath-taking battle sequences at the end, and a devastating aftermath that leaves Rose forever changed. My respect for her grew leaps and bounds in this book, and the series really kicked into high gear both in story and in emotion....more
3.5 stars Val Shapiro is a part-demon vampire slayer. And she has a snarky dog named Fang who thinks at her in all caps.
Bite Me, the first book in th3.5 stars Val Shapiro is a part-demon vampire slayer. And she has a snarky dog named Fang who thinks at her in all caps.
Bite Me, the first book in the Underground series, surprised me with its butt-kicking heroine, deadpan humor, and an interesting set-up. I really liked Val and Fang, whose relationship is the most compelling one in the book. There are also some great fight scenes and some intriguing secondary characters, including Shade, Micah, Ramirez, and Tessa, and the whole thing is well-written and moves along at a fast pace.
The book could have used some fleshing out, however, in the conflicts with her family. Val handles it maturely (so refreshing for YA), but there's not much insight into her mother's or her stepfather's or her sister's characters. They only make themselves known in the context of the main character, so it's hard to get to know them--and therefore it's hard to get a good feel for emotional tension. Some of the plotting in the middle and latter parts of the book could have used some streamlining as well, as there are a LOT of visits to go see this person and that person and a LOT of talking at all those locations. Plus the whole set-up might've been a little more convincing if Val were simply helping out an underground task force rather than an official police department--I mean, the girl is only 18. Most of all though, Val needs a better love interest than the good-hearted but supremely uninteresting Dan.
I thought the scene where Val lends her strength to Dan by using Shade as a conduit was very strong, though, and I'd love to see more of that type of thing in future books. I'm intrigued enough to keep reading the series (the next two books arealready out), as I think the author shows a lot of promise. But please--let's get this succubus a sexier boyfriend! ...more
Sometimes you ask for something...and the author actually grants your wish! After reading Bite Me recently, I noted that the series would be a lot morSometimes you ask for something...and the author actually grants your wish! After reading Bite Me recently, I noted that the series would be a lot more fun if Val, who is a vampire-slaying part-succubus, actually got a decent boyfriend. I'm happy to say that in the second and third installments in the series, Val breaks up with the honorable but boring Dan and hooks up with someone much more interesting.
And that someone is Shade, a fascinating shadow demon who has transparent skin that shows the powerful energy swirling around inside him. Shade's skin only appears normal when he's grounded by touching someone else, and paired with the ability to absorb and reshape energy, this character pretty spectacular. Val is partnered with Shade to help figure out who's betraying the Demon Underground and to recover the missing Encylopedia Magicka, and later finds that he's very helpful in channeling Lola, her inner lust demon. Unfortunately, just as Val starts getting closer to her boyfriend, she's faced with a difficult choice: is love worth giving up your identity for?
As in the first installment, Val's sidekick demon hellhound Fang is still snarky and hilarious and sweet, and now has a lady companion of his own who wreaks havoc in her own inimitable way. The struggles and power plays between the demons and the vamps has been ratcheted up, with tensions mounting as both sides try to maintain a temporary truce while fighting the unrest and deception within their own factions. Val really comes into her own in these books as a strong female character who's not only a butt-kicking action hero, but who also consistently tries to do the right thing. It's also great to see a hot but mutually respectful relationship; Shade doesn't hesitate to disagree with Val when he thinks she's wrong, but their arguments don't turn nasty and controlling like they do in so many other books.
The author has already announced that she's working on Make Me, the fourth book in this series, which will be out in 2012. Fans of the Chicagoland Vampires or Vampire Academy (and kick-ass heroines in general) will definitely love this series.
This review is also available at The Midnight Garden. An advance copy of this book was provided by the publisher.
Anyone who is a fan of Vampire Academy will love the sarcastic, meat-loving, ass-kicking Merit. This is a fun series that follows a typical "newly forAnyone who is a fan of Vampire Academy will love the sarcastic, meat-loving, ass-kicking Merit. This is a fun series that follows a typical "newly formed vamp" story, but is also filled with lots of great action and excellent training sequences. The power plays between the different covens is well done, Merit's relationships with her friends is strong and true, and there are some super cute guys in it. A fast-paced, thoroughly entertaining start to the series....more
Fun fun fun! I love Vampire Academy but I haven't been able to get into the Georgina Kincaid books as much, so it's great to find that this series isFun fun fun! I love Vampire Academy but I haven't been able to get into the Georgina Kincaid books as much, so it's great to find that this series is so entertaining. Eugenie, like all of Richelle Mead's heroines, is a kick-ass character and both Kiyo and Dorian are appealing in different ways. Some great action scenes, in both the battle field and the bedroom. Looking forward to starting Thorn Queen....more
But for now, my initial reaction to the first book remains below. It's fascinating to see this society that the author created.
2.5 stars I really wanted to like this book, but holy moly. I try very hard not to let my opinion be colored when fictional characters make choices I wouldn't necessarily make, but...I just can't do that in this case. The offhand way gang rape is handled, the dismissive attitude towards an abuse victim, and the sudden introduction of an inconceivable love interest (turning it into a triangle) late in the book left me cold. The action scenes and interesting premise aren't nearly enough to make up for a heroine who is physically extremely capable, but unfortunately, someone who also seems to be emotionally empty....more
3.5 stars Any book that arrives heavily hyped usually has a ton of marketing power behind it. Sure, there are critical reviews to consider, but these3.5 stars Any book that arrives heavily hyped usually has a ton of marketing power behind it. Sure, there are critical reviews to consider, but these days consumers are more aware than ever of the dollars at stake behind book and film negotiations. Which means that there's a lot of pressure riding on any book to live up to its promise, particularly one that comes from a 23-year-old author who has already landed a 3-book deal and signed away the movie rights.
After so many big dollar and wearisome projects such as Halo or Matched, it's a pleasure to find that every once in awhile, there's a good reason behind the fanfare. Divergent is the fast-paced, action-packed story of 16-year-old Tris, who comes from one of the five factions in a dystopian Chicago. She must choose one of the factions--Candor (honesty), Abnegation (selflessness), Dauntless (bravery), Amity (peacefulness), or Erudite (intelligence)--to live in and serve for the remainder of her life. Tris makes the decision to leave her old faction, Abenegation, in favor of Dauntless, and the majority of the book focuses on the dangerous trials that the new initiates must endure in order to find out whether they qualify to stay. Failure means living a factionless life--or death.
The very concept of the novel, however, asks that readers accept a fairly rigid framework for the story. This idea that human beings would sublimate their natural instincts to live in a society where a single virtue is promoted is pretty farfetched; it reminds me of various Star Trek alien races known for a single prevailing characteristic, but at least they are also usually presented along with certain instincts and behaviors that made sense. The division between the factions here doesn't really serve much of a purpose, and is simply explained away as people who chose a lifestyle based on differences in philosophy. Even within the factions, the doctrines don't really hold up under scrutiny--members of Dauntless, for example, are forever indulging in reckless, pointless exercises that are more about posturing than about testing their mettle.
But the thing is, the book is really fun to read. Most of the trials are pretty well thought-out, with scene after scene of nerve-wracking physical and mental tests. I liked the interplay between Tris' fellow initiates, who cautiously bond with each other but also have to look on each other as rivals, and I liked the mysterious and attractive Four, as well as the way her family members' characters eventually revealed themselves.
Tris herself I had a harder time connecting to, as she's physically very capable but mentally and emotionally it's more difficult to say whether she belongs on my "butt-kicking heroines" shelf. Some of her actions also ended up being more self-centered than I expected, mostly because I think the author was trying to show the change in Tris' morphing from Abegnation to Dauntless. But she and Four also make a huge tactical error at a crucial scene late in the book, which negates both Dauntless' philosophy and their training. I'm also not sure that several of the deaths later in the book had the appropriate emotional impact, though there were several other scenes that made me yelp. Let's just say that I gave my knife some pretty fishy looks at the dinner table last night. (view spoiler)[The eye! The eye! Oww. :-O And poor Will, of course. (hide spoiler)]
Still, I had a really good time reading this book, and there's a lot to be said for books that are just plain entertaining. Many of my fellow readers have major issues with the world-building and the plot holes, and I can't say that I disagree with most of the criticisms I've seen. It's certainly not in the same category as The Hunger Games; it's closer to light entertainers such as Blood Red Road or Legend, but I think we often do ourselves a disservice when we endlessly make those kinds of comparisons. It's always important to read with a critical eye--and it's true that with more attention to detail, this book might have been even better--but I don't feel that getting hung up on criticism or comparisons should get in the way of enjoying a book when so many of the other elements do work well. For me, the positives of this adventure outweigh the negatives and in the end, Divergent is still loads of fun to read. I'm looking forward to seeing where the story goes next!
This review also appears in The Midnight Garden.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
*Spoiler-Free* Don't worry, Chicagoland fans. *pat pat* Everything will be okay.
4.5 starsIt's been two months since the nail-biting events of Hard Bit*Spoiler-Free* Don't worry, Chicagoland fans. *pat pat* Everything will be okay.
4.5 starsIt's been two months since the nail-biting events of Hard Bitten, and Merit is still dealing with the fall-out from what occurred. As Cadogan House is investigated for mismanagement and blood rations keep everyone on edge, there's also trouble when Lake Michigan suddenly turns black and fingers are pointed at the vamps. Merit must work together with Jonah, the attractive captain of the guards at Grey House, to find out who's really responsible, even as she's haunted by dreams that she doesn't understand.
Merit has always been a strong, smart, and funny heroine, but her loyalty and her honor really come through in this particular book. We also get more kickass fight scenes, interesting political developments as a pending paranormal registration act causes tempers to flare, complicated problems with Merit's best friend Mallory, skies that turn ruby red, and tense run-ins with faeries and lake sirens. I also liked that Malik has stepped up in a stronger role at Cadogan, and how respect and trust and allegiance are, as always, big themes in this series.
But never mind all that--you want to know about Ethan! The sexy, green-eyed Master is never far from Merit's mind, and he casts a long shadow over all of the turmoil at Cadogan House. After the sucker punch dealt to fans in the last book, many of us worried about the direction that the series was taking. But most readers are going to be very, very satisfied with the way Merit deals with her feelings for Ethan as well as her reluctant attraction to Jonah. I am really happy that she finds the strength to come to terms with this very tricky situation, and every development in this story arc feels completely right and emotionally true.
I continue to be impressed by how Chloe Neill juggles a sizable cast of characters and all kinds of interesting subplots while moving Merit's personal story forward. There's no doubt at all that this series will continue to deliver the great stories and quality entertainment we've come to expect. And yeah, I gave an urban fantasy book 5 stars--what of it? Chicagoland has always been the cream of the crop for this genre, and Drink Deep is by far the best book in the series to date.
Note: Info on free ebook download link for this story below. A lot of authors release short stories as prequels or companion novels to their series, uNote: Info on free ebook download link for this story below. A lot of authors release short stories as prequels or companion novels to their series, usually to keep fans jazzed between books or to entice you to try out the others. Some of these small bites are more successful than others, and I'm happy to report that the taste readers get from Daimon is enough to whet the appetite for more.
Alex is a 17-year-old half-demon who has been living among humans with her mother for three past years. She doesn't know why they're hiding from The Covenant, but a brutal attack by relentless daimons forces her to go on run...possibly back to the very place her mother always told her they should avoid.
This fast-paced, well-written short story does a great job of setting up the series. Alex is a smart, likable heroine with some mad daimon fighting skills. I really liked the action sequences in this book, as well as the way that the author shows the closeness between mother and daughter. (Ice cream always helps.) I got a little confused with one of the flashbacks, however, since it suddenly mentions a boy she's yearning for who hasn't been referenced before--I had to go back and skim through the book again to make sure I wasn't missing anything! But it's a small quibble considering how solid the rest of this preview is. It looks like this is going to be a really fun series and I'm looking forward to Half-Blood, which comes out on September 15, 2011.
Incidentally, contrary to what I assumed, Jennifer L. Armentrout is not the alter ego of urban fantasy author Jennifer Armintrout, who wrote the Blood Ties series. But readers who enjoy the other author's work will probably enjoy this YA series as well.
This review may contain mild spoilers, but they're nothing that you won't see in the trailer for the film. That's right, Ridley Scott optioned this boThis review may contain mild spoilers, but they're nothing that you won't see in the trailer for the film. That's right, Ridley Scott optioned this book for a film before it was even published, and it's easy to see why. It's a hugely entertaining spectacle full of adventure and excitement and thrills, with action scenes that you can clearly picture as you read them.
Saba's twin brother Lugh has been kidnapped by a band of horsemen, and she sets off alone on the quest to bring him back. Well, she tries to go alone, but her pesky little sister Emmi keeps finding a way to tag along after her, even though they're trekking through a dried up wasteland filled with danger around every turn.
Here are some of the things that made this story super fun:
* Saba is a bad-ass. There's no beating around the bush about this, the girl can handle a crossbow and won't let anything get in the way of her goal. * There is cage-fighting. Girl cage-fighting. * There is a thrilling prison escape. * There are giant killer worms.
I could go on and on, but frankly if you weren't convinced by giant killer worms, this is clearly not the book for you. Oh! But there is one more very important thing: Jack. Tall, handsome Jack. Saba doesn't want to be distracted by anything, but it's pretty hard not to pay attention to a guy as attractive as this one. All of these things made Blood Red Road a great escapist fantasy, and I think most people are really going to enjoy it.
There were, however, some things that I felt could have used a little more fleshing out:
* While I liked the pivotal third cage fight, the previous two fights were throwaway scenes, which were lost opportunities for more action. * Some of the transitions between scenes could have been a little smoother. * There are two scenes of sacrifice in this book, both of which I expected, but both could probably have been written to pack more of an emotional punch. I did appreciate the clear visual beauty of the first one, however, * I also think the relationship in this book was probably its weakest point. I like Jack a lot, and I like Saba--but the push and pull between them felt unreasonably drawn out and a little forced. The dialogue there also bordered on a little cheesy at times, though again, I did like them as a couple.
It's also important to note that the dialect in this book, which is harsh and a little grating, may be hard for some readers to stomach. Normally this kind of thing would be irritating to me, but actually I found the speech in the book pretty easy to adjust to, which is a mark of how great a job the author did with moving the action and dialogue along. There is also lots of terrific humor and great characters peppered throughout, though it might've been nice to give them a little more ink.
What makes this book a 3 star book for me, though is that it's an enjoyable read but perhaps one that's not terribly...deep. Or complex. But then again, it's not really trying to be. Overall, the story is a lot of fun to read and the action and adventure provide one heck of a ride. Saba's going to be remembered as a literary heroine who is prickly and flawed, but still fiercely determined and ultimately extremely likable. I can't wait to meet up with her again to see where the next journey takes her.
This review also appears in The Midnight Garden. An advance copy was provided by the publisher.
This review is spoiler-free, and safe even for those who haven't read the first two books in the series.
Forget everything you ever assumed about scienThis review is spoiler-free, and safe even for those who haven't read the first two books in the series.
Forget everything you ever assumed about science fiction novels or zombie thrillers: the Newsflesh trilogy defies all expectations. The story that began with a turbulent political campaign in a post-apocalyptic Feed escalates here as the blogger journalists from After the End of Times continue their quest to uncover the truth behind the deadly Kellis-Amberlee virus that has decimated civilization--one that is now mutating and spreading faster than ever before. The breakneck action and intrigue in Blackout is intense as a dangerous rescue mission, disease-carrying mosquitoes, zombie bears, tangled family drama, and a mysterious patient known as Subject 7B all complicate what is already hell on earth.
It's funny that my favorite zombie series actually has the least amount of zombie action in it, but Newsflesh hasn't ever been about the undead anyway--it's about the human response to it. As with The Reapers Are the Angels and Warm Bodies, this series is fascinating to me because it explores the idea of personal integrity within extreme circumstances. What would you do when the world ends? If you're Shaun and Georgia Mason, adopted siblings whose closeness forms an unbreakable team, you lead your fellow bloggers into an unrelenting search for truth--no matter what the cost. Or at least, that's how their story began. But now that the stakes are higher than they've ever been and those they love most are at risk, the focus has shifted to a very human need to hold onto the connections that matter most.
Blackout seamlessly combines medical thriller, political intrigue, and pulse-pounding action sequences with unforgettable human drama. How you feel about this series will very much depend on how you feel about the characters in general--if you love the Masons, Alaric, Becks, Mahir, and Maggie, you'll most likely have a fantastic time with Newsflesh. It doesn't mean the characters are perfect, of course; Shaun in particular is mourning a huge loss, and his reckless, desperate behavior in the second book caused a lot of criticism from a lot of readers. For me, I felt his pain so keenly, however, that his torment became mine--and I understood, too, the unconventional, defiant ways in which he grasped for some semblance of happiness as the world around him was destroyed. In books and in real life, I respond very strongly to loyalty, honesty, and the determination to do what's right. Shaun and Georgia, as well as their superbly realized supporting cast, embody those traits in a big way. Because they also are slammed with unbelievable suffering throughout these books that require a brutal amount of self-sacrifice, it isn't any wonder that I feel such fiercely protective love for them, as well as for the ideals they represent.
The author's writing gets better and better in each book, with well-researched scientific dilemmas and brilliant recaps that engage the reader without resorting to long info-dumps. Her brisk, matter-of-fact style of writing suits the story perfectly, and the sophisticated plot is exceptionally well-paced, with shifts from furious action to moments of stark stillness and contemplation handled beautifully. Whether we're getting worked up over red herrings, watching someone facing her own mortality, or respectfully acknowledging fallen comrades, the emotional pitch throughout the book felt utterly right, which is something that is very hard to pull off when there are so many ethical issues at stake.
A few random thoughts with REAL spoilers, because there's no other way to discuss them:
(view spoiler)[Subject 7B's realization of who and what she is is totally kickass. I loved how very true to her character this whole scenario was, and how believably all the cloning issues were integrated with our human need to recognize this person.
The scenes where 7B looks on the 8s made me really sad. :(
I'm so glad that one of the major plot points wasn't rescuing Georgia, because I cannot imagine any situation less likely to happen. The way she escapes and the way everyone reacts to seeing her was pitch-perfect.
I am SO happy to have Georgia back. Sheesh, I missed her so much! And it's nice to have a break from all the crazy of being in Shaun's head, hah.
I'm glad that Shaun and Georgia got to ride off into the sunset a bit, though I'm still sad for the brave, original Georgia who died in such a devastating way.
There were certainly some plot lines that I saw coming, and although I'm a little surprised that we got a HEA, obviously this didn't hinder my enjoyment of the book at all. The way it was handled felt just right. (hide spoiler)]
I don't know that I've ever read another series where the emotion it evoked was so intense--Feed left me crying so hard I could hardly see the keyboard, Deadline had me literally whimpering with pain in the middle of the night, and Blackout made me want to scream with excitement and agony and worry all at once. If you'd told me that a science fiction trilogy with zombies could be so searingly emotional or feel so incredibly personal, I'd have told you it was impossible. And I've never been happier to be proven wrong. I know most true fans of this series will race through the pages just like I did, with the same urgency and dread and excitement.
While I'm so sad that this particular story is over (although there are two more Newsflesh novellas coming this year) and I dearly wish they could all turn into zombies so this story could live on forever, I'm happy with the way the story ended. I'm sure Mira Grant's new forthcoming novels Parasitology and Symbiogenesis will be absolutely spectacular.
This review also appears in The Midnight Garden. An advance copy was provided by the publisher.
P.S. For more proof of the power of Mira Grant's writing, read the alternate ending to FEED, Fed, at the bottom of the review on our blog which is ONLY safe for those who have already read the first book. Holy frak, that woman is an evil genius. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
This review does not contain spoilers for either FEED or DEADLINE. One year has passed since Shaun and Georgia Mason found more than they bargained foThis review does not contain spoilers for either FEED or DEADLINE. One year has passed since Shaun and Georgia Mason found more than they bargained for as they investigated the truth behind the Kellis-Amberlee virus, a mutated cure for human disease that led to the uprising of the dead. The events that transpired then have an enormous impact now as the high-profile bloggers from After the End of Times uncover a conspiracy that is even bigger than they ever imagined. A CDC researcher fakes her own death in a spectacular fashion and shows up at their headquarters, and soon the whole team is battling zombies, mutant dogs, and the ever-present ghosts of their past.
When I finished this book late last night, my thoughts were "I have not a single criticism to offer. Not a single one." And this still holds true. Without exception, every question and doubt I raised with Feed is answered here. The action is incredibly intense, the story is densely and intricately plotted, and the book is exceptionally well-paced and exciting. Readers who are leery of zombies still shouldn't have much of a problem, because although there are more tense encounters with the undead, the violence is relatively contained and there are no gross or gratuitous scenes. Most of the terror comes from heart-pounding action and chase sequences, as well as the knowledge of the overwhelming consequences if the team fails in its quest for truth and justice.
Shaun, Georgia, and Buffy all loom large in this sequel, but we also get to know the other staffers better, including the elegant Mahir, the fiercely determined Becks, the quietly steady Alaric, and the sad, tragic Maggie. Most significantly, however, the narrator has shifted to Shaun, whose personality comes through loud and clear in his bitterly funny words, his decisive handling of his team, and his desperately emotional struggle to hang onto what he loves most. Mira Grant met and exceeded every expectation I had for this book, particularly in the devastating truth that comes to light about what might have been. I knew from Feed to expect an emotional reaction, but I could not have prepared myself for the terrible knowledge that these characters have to face. I was literally whimpering from the pain, and tears were streaming so hard that I couldn't see the page.
This is my third 5 star review for a 2011 book, and it is given with no reservations or qualifications. This is a searingly intelligent novel, with hard questions about medical ethics, government responsibility, and the nobility and folly of human nature. And just when you think the author has delivered everything she possibly could, there is a HUGE twist at the end that made me bolt upright and scream in the middle of the night. This twist has far-reaching consequences for both the characters and for society as a whole, and it also answered questions I had about the future in a crazy and unthinkable way.
It will be another year before the third book in this trilogy will be released, and I'll spend much of that time waiting in agony to find out what happens to the characters I've come to care about so much. But oh my stars, what a pleasure it is to be so incredibly excited and thrilled and moved by an author's work.
This review also appears in The Midnight Garden. An advance copy was provided by the publisher.
REMINDER: DO NOT read the synopsis for this book anywhere if you haven't already read FEED, as it contains potential spoilers for the first book. And please do be careful of reviews that may spoil this one....more
1. She doesn't take any crap from anyone. 2. She's sarcastic and occasionally rude and always hilarious. Who e3.5 stars
10 Reasons to Love Kate Daniels:
1. She doesn't take any crap from anyone. 2. She's sarcastic and occasionally rude and always hilarious. Who else would greet a snarly Beast Lord with "Here, kitty, kitty...?" 3. She knows all the rules of diplomacy when dealing with shapeshifters, vampires, and other supernaturals. 4. She knows how to break all those rules and commands respect in spite of it. 5. She admits when she makes mistakes. 6. She's comfortable with herself and who she is. But she's lonely too, and she isn't afraid to acknowledge it. 7. She has a lot of men in her life that she likes for different reasons. But she won't hesitate to call them out if she thinks they're crossing the line. 8. She has a huge amount of decency and integrity. Exhausted, hurt, bleeding, and hungry, she'll still stop eating when she thinks someone else is being slighted. 9. She wields a mean sword that she calls "Slayer" that she uses to kill all kinds of vicious creatures. 10. She kicks serious ass, with or without magic.
I have a hit-or-miss track record with most urban fantasy books that I've tried, but I think Kate and I are going to get along just fine. Can't wait to read the next book! And the one after that, and the one after that... ...more
3.5 stars I liked the first book in this series a little better, but this one was still plenty fun. I enjoyed getting to know Kate better and Derek to3.5 stars I liked the first book in this series a little better, but this one was still plenty fun. I enjoyed getting to know Kate better and Derek too, and the action scenes were pretty kick-ass. All the interactions with Bran also showed us a lot more of Kate's character, and I like her more and more as I get to know her.
So far I'm still not really all that into Curran yet, but he's definitely intriguing, especially with the cat-feeding-favored-ones thing. I'm hoping that this "kill you or have sex with you" thing will move along in the next book, though!...more
Aerial dragon battles. A girl with a cool mystical powers. Cute boys on motorbikes. What more could you ask for in a fun and fluffy paranormal book?
FlAerial dragon battles. A girl with a cool mystical powers. Cute boys on motorbikes. What more could you ask for in a fun and fluffy paranormal book?
Flying Blind took me completely by surprise. The story follows Zoë Sorensson, the only female dragon shapeshifter in existence, who has important duties to assume when she comes to maturity. The problem is, her powers haven't bloomed properly and the few times they begin to appear--in the form of a mesmerizing flame in the pupils of her eyes and a single curved talon--she can't control them. As a result, she's shipped off to dragon "boot camp" where she's huddled with a group of dragon boys she's known all her life, including Nick, the attractive guy whom she may be destined to be with.
The dragon lore is exceptionally well thought-out, with specific behaviors and mythology. I enjoyed the vivid descriptions of the different dragons, from a green one with silver-tipped scales to a beautiful garnet and gold one to a regal pewter and purple one with silver accents. The dragon battles are also very easy to picture, with muscular physical tussling, claw-slashing, orange-flamed fire-breathing, and tail-whomping--and with none of the typical fast-healing, "easy fix" powers to lessen the stakes.
Zoë is a bright, funny heroine who narrates in a breezy tone that's immensely appealing. She's attempting to gain control of her body while trying to figure out why such a dark cloud seems to hang over her normally good-natured friends, and there's a lot that's thrown at her as she's coming into her role as a member of the Pyr. She makes a lot of mistakes, but she owns up to them and is never afraid to take action when it matters most. I like that every person in the huge cast of secondary characters has a distinct voice and identity, and that things don't always go the way that seasoned YA readers might expect with mysterious strangers or popular girls. The story is fairly complex for a short book, but it's very light-hearted in tone, which is a refreshing change from all those supernatural YA books that aren't well-thought out or that take themselves too seriously. One of the many humorous touches? Zoë, kickass girl dragon, is a vegetarian.
This book is apparently a spinoff of the author's adult PNR series, but it doesn't feel like something that's hastily cobbled together or that is at all lacking in explanation. The author does a terrific job of gradually revealing the rules and history of dragon behavior, as well as in giving enough time (but not too much time) to characters from the other series in a way that doesn't feel tiresome or forced. It's also great to see a book that shows teens with strong, loving relationships with the adults in their lives--but the crises are deftly handled and solved by the younger dragons themselves. I will say there's a lot of information to process, some of the "dark cloud" behaviors drag on for a little too long, and Zoë does occasionally get a little moony over her crush. But all the romance issues are resolved by the end of the book, and there is plenty of time spent on the family and friend relationships, mythology, plot, and personal development to balance the relationship stuff out.
I'd highly recommend Flying Blind to any fan of non-angsty paranormal/fantasy YA, especially to fans of series such as Hex Hall or The Darkest Powers. Zoë does a lot growing up in this zippy, action-packed story--and after having such a fun whirlwind of an adventure in her company, I can't to see where the next story takes her!
P.S. The cover and title are very misleading, in my opinion. I think a story that has such a humorous feel to it deserves a cover design that makes it stand out a little more from all the other typical paranormal YA books out there. I really can't picture Zoë with such a serious look on her face at all! Also, newsflash: gorgeous battling dragons are a huge selling point. At least for me, anyway....more