3.5 stars Dusty is a girl who is literally a nightmare. Reading the synopsis about this girl who feeds off bad dreams (based on mythical mares in folk...more3.5 stars Dusty is a girl who is literally a nightmare. Reading the synopsis about this girl who feeds off bad dreams (based on mythical mares in folklore), I didn't expect to find that this story would have a more lighthearted tone. The overall feel of the book is pretty humorous and the story is fast-paced, and both the writing style and the set-up of a school for magical creatures reminded me quite a bit of Rachel Hawkins' Hex Hall series.
I have to admit that while I enjoyed the story while I read it, weeks after finishing it, I don't recall many specifics about what happened, and the overall feel is humorous without really being that clever or laugh-out-loud funny. But I thought this was pretty cute overall, and the second half of the story made up for the more unevenly paced first half. Recommended if you like your paranormal books on the fluffier side.
I'm afraid I was not a very big fan of this one. The book starts out with a great action scene, the beginnings of an intriguing mystery, and I really...moreI'm afraid I was not a very big fan of this one. The book starts out with a great action scene, the beginnings of an intriguing mystery, and I really liked Deznee's punky look and sarcastic attitude. Unfortunately, I felt as though she believed everything she was told, asked far too few questions, ran away with Kale far too quickly, and she started to get a little too boy-crazy for my taste.
While some of the events are certainly fun and kept my interest at first, they seemed to be so loosely plotted that after awhile it seemed as though they were all just part of a connect-the-dots action checklist, with very little transition or emotional pause in between. The writing was also pretty uneven, the powers seemed underdeveloped, and the betrayals were far too easy to predict.
I would say this might've made a decent middle grade book, except that there is some non-explicit mature content that would make it less appropriate for that audience. Still, a number of my friends seem to be enjoying the book, so it looks like the entertainment factor may carry it through for many readers.
I like an action-packed adventure, don't you? Legend is a lot of fun to read, and follows two teens who are born into opposite sides of a war in a fut...moreI like an action-packed adventure, don't you? Legend is a lot of fun to read, and follows two teens who are born into opposite sides of a war in a futuristic Los Angeles in the Republic of America.
15-year-old June is an exceptionally gifted prodigy who is being groomed to become a military star. But when her brother is senselessly murdered, she embarks upon a mission to find his killer--and discovers that all signs point towards Day, a notorious criminal who is already wanted by the Republic.
This is a cocktail of utopian YA, Romeo and Juliet, and various wronged imprisonment stories all blended together with liberal dashes of adventure and intrigue. I liked both June and Day, and I was eager to learn more about the big mystery behind why the government is so interested in Day's brother. The best thing about Legend, however, is the terrific action sequences that the author writes into the story: there are great chases, exciting escape scenes, girl on girl sparring, and lots more.
As with so many of these books that are stretched out to accommodate sequels, there really aren't enough answers unearthed in this first installment, so presumably we'll have to wait until book two to find out the details of government's involvement in biological experimentation.
What prevents this from being a truly excellent book, however, is that the book overall feels very slight. At 300 pages, it is surprisingly short and there isn't a great deal of complexity in the characters, the world-building, or the plot. It's also extremely predictable. While the story is certainly well-written, most readers will be able to anticipate pretty much every plot development and thought that crosses the characters' minds...and really, what's the fun in that?
Still, I liked this book and I think it's among the better dystopian YA books that have been released lately. It's definitely an entertaining read and I'm interested in seeing where the story goes next. I do wish, however, that it contained more depth and more originality and more...everything, really, in order to make it a truly outstanding and truly memorable book.
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?
Fl...moreAerial 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.(less)
*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...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 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.
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 these...more3.5 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"]>(less)
Still heaps of fun! I love a good paranormal book as much as the next person, but sometimes they take themselves too seriously. I'm happy to report th...moreStill heaps of fun! I love a good paranormal book as much as the next person, but sometimes they take themselves too seriously. I'm happy to report that Demonglass retains the same sarcastic humor and a snappy, action-packed plot that is just as entertaining as the one in Hex Hall.
Sophie is spending some time on her father's estate to figure out whether she's going to keep her awesome but pesky powers, and she's still secretly pining for her missing demon-hunter crush, Archer Cross. Complicating matters is the revelation that cute-as-heck Cal has been betrothed to her for years (hey, they do things differently in the otherworld) and the afore-mentioned crush is part of The Eye, a group hell-bent on wiping out all of Sophie's kind. Kinda puts a damper on the relationship.
The politics and power struggles within the Prodigium (witches, shapeshifters, and fairies) and with the demon hunters is growing steadily more complicated, and Sophie and her father must develop her gifts before time runs out. It would be interesting to see more of the plotting ladies within the Prodigium and to have the tension ratcheted up with The Eye, but hopefully these will be further explored in future books.
The author does a fabulous job of moving the story along with cheeky attitude, however, while taking time out for real connections between Sophie and her BFF Jenna and between her and her dad. There are also some brief but swoon-worthy moments with her guy, and you really breeze through this thing rooting for everyone to be happy. I'm really enjoying Sophie and her smart and snappy banter, and this series has fast turned into one of my fluffy and fun favorites.
Fun! This book really grew on me. It took several tries to get past the first couple of chapters, but once Sophie finally gets settled in at Hex Hall...moreFun! This book really grew on me. It took several tries to get past the first couple of chapters, but once Sophie finally gets settled in at Hex Hall things start moving along. The witchy battles are pretty cool, there's good build-up of the mystique behind the school and behind Sophie's past and powers, and the author does a nice job with creating a variety of different characters with distinctive voices. I especially liked BFF Jenna and the super cute and witty Archer, and Sophie herself turns out to be a pretty kick-ass heroine.
It did take me a little while to get used to the author's voice, but the humor actually gets to be really good as the story develops and I've gone back to giggle over certain passages again. Overally, this is a really terrific debut and a fast-paced, entertaining read. It's always a plus when a YA author manages to surprise her audience with twists and turns in the plot too, and there are a couple of really good ones here that will leave readers on the edge for more.
Besides...you can't not love a girl who tries to stop an attacking werewolf by yelling, "BAD DOG!"(less)
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 for...moreAnyone 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.(less)