Sci-fi light at its lightest. This title, a tie-in with the CW show of the same name, masquerades as a science-fiction/post-apocalyptic title that isSci-fi light at its lightest. This title, a tie-in with the CW show of the same name, masquerades as a science-fiction/post-apocalyptic title that is simply a teen romance. There were hints of worldbuilding and conflict that could have been built into an engaging plot, but the romance aspect and the characters' ridiculous decisions regarding their relationships took away from that....more
Fun & engaging third installment keeps the action & intrigue coming
Marissa Meyer’s third installment in her Lunar Chronicles, Cress, picks u Fun & engaging third installment keeps the action & intrigue coming
Marissa Meyer’s third installment in her Lunar Chronicles, Cress, picks up right where the second book left off. Cinder, Thorne, Scarlet, and Wolf have escaped Earth and are now hiding in space. Their greatest chance for eluding Queen Levana and her dangerous companions lies with Cress, a gifted hacker who’s lived alone in a satellite for the past seven years. Soon, a rescue plan goes amiss, people are captured, and satellites start crashing to earth. Old characters and new ones must work to find a way back to one another in order to bring the evil Queen down.
As with her previous installments, Meyer has created a fun and engaging story in this book. CRESS is full of action and intrigue, and the author does a wonderful job of interweaving the storylines of the two previous books with the one. It was exciting to see how hints from as far back as the first book were linked to major plot points or character reveals in this novel. All of the characters that readers have come to love (or loathe) make appearances again, and some characters, especially Cinder, begin to grapple with real issues of how to use power and how one’s personal decisions can affect others, including whole cities or nations. Though not practical like Cinder or strong like Scarlet, Cress comes across as an endearingly naïve but earnest character who mixes well with the existing cast.
While a fast and enjoyable read overall, I did sometimes wish for a bit more: more swoon, more character and relationship development, and more gravity regarding the issues being experienced by the characters. This series is a refreshingly upbeat collection when compared to many other young adult novels, but the issues it addresses (war, torture, sacrifice for others, lost identities) often felt like they were passed over too quickly. Similarly, some characters accepted certain big reveals too easily.
Even with these quibbles, I had a great time reading CRESS, and I can’t wait for the final installment to come out next year (Winter). Not only will the final book provide a conclusion (and hopefully some happy endings for the characters), but it will feature quite possibly the most intriguing heroine of the series. The few glimpses given of Winter in this book had me simultaneously riveted and unsettled. The Lunar Chronicles is a series I will be recommending to my students and adult friends alike.
Note: This review refers to an advance review copy....more
Strongest book in the series, full of action, heart-breaking moments, and romance
INTO THE STILL BLUE wraps up Veronica Rossi's trilogy with the stro Strongest book in the series, full of action, heart-breaking moments, and romance
INTO THE STILL BLUE wraps up Veronica Rossi's trilogy with the strongest book in the series, one that is full of action and adventure, heart-breaking moments, and swoon-inducing romance. Rossi creates a strong finish to the series by focusing on the relationships between the characters, including those between Roar and Aria (my favorite), Perry and Aria (the swooniest it's been), and Perry and Cinder, as well as others. Because of this, the book rings with emotion and pulled me in throughout, keeping me hoping the best for the characters in the midst of dire circumstances and dwindling resources. Despite this focus on relationships, the novel still contained significant amounts of action, and this is where it faltered a bit. I found the last 10% of the book to feel very rushed and the resolution, quite frankly, too easy. Regardless, it was an engaging three-book ride, and I look forward to whatever Rossi writes next.
Note: This review refers to an advance review copy....more
Overall, this novel was an easily readable but uneven addition to the YA dystopian genre with zombie-alien action mixed in. The first part of the nove Overall, this novel was an easily readable but uneven addition to the YA dystopian genre with zombie-alien action mixed in. The first part of the novel was much stronger than the second part when the world-building and pseudo-science became very questionable. ...more
Entertaining & creative retelling of Little Red Riding Hood hits the spot, 4.5 stars
In Scarlet, Scarlet Benoit, a young woman living in France, Entertaining & creative retelling of Little Red Riding Hood hits the spot, 4.5 stars
In Scarlet, Scarlet Benoit, a young woman living in France, is becoming increasingly worried about her grandmother’s recent disappearance. When a rough stranger named Wolf suggests he might be able to help find her, Scarlet hesitantly trusts him to lead the way in an effort to save her grand’mere. Half a world away, Cinder is coming to terms with her new identity and trying to find a way to escape the deadly clutches of Queen Levana. Soon, Scarlet and Cinder’s paths collide as secrets are revealed and new dangers arise.
Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles is a series that has taken me by surprise. After enjoying but not loving the quirky Cinderella retelling in Cinder, I approached Scarlet with a bit of hesitation. After I started reading, though, that hesitation was quickly gone, and I devoured this novel in two days. The plot, the pacing, and the characters all drew me into the story and had me turning the pages to see what would happen next. At first, I was a bit frustrated by the flip-flopping between the tales of Cinder and Scarlet – a world apart from one another and seemingly unconnected – but Meyer seamlessly combined their stories as the novel progressed with surprising twists and plot reveals I wasn’t expecting.
Scarlet was a great character, a self-sufficient young woman who could take care of herself and who was passionate about saving her grandmother. With the signature cape replaced by a threadbare red hoodie, Scarlet was a perfect modern replacement for the original naïve Little Red. Wolf, the street fighter with a mysterious past, also had great appeal. Though I don’t normally fall for alpha-male characters, Wolf won me over with his combination of unexpected vulnerability and a damaged past. I also appreciated that the story and characters in Scarlet felt older and more mature than those in Cinder. Scarlet was college-aged, and the romance between Scarlet and Wolf was very swoony and intense without ever being inappropriate for younger readers. Familiar characters like Cinder, Iko, and Prince Kai also all return, and the introduction of the cocky but hilarious Captain Thorne added levity to a story where situations for the characters are growing increasingly tense.
Though I loved this book, it didn’t make it into five-star territory for me due to a few small complaints. The book can’t stand alone because it is part of a series; the romance, despite its swoon factor, was predictable; and the story, albeit a fun and romantic romp, didn’t have the long-term emotional impact that I want or expect from a five-star read. As an entertaining and creative futuristic retelling of Little Red Riding Hood, however, this book definitely hit the spot.
With this tale of Scarlet, Wolf, and the increasing unrest between Luna and Earth, Marissa Meyer has made me a fan. I can’t wait to see what happens next in the coming books of the quartet, Cress and Winter.
Note: This review refers to an advance review copy. ...more
Strong relationships & better world building make for solid sequel, 3.5 stars
Through the Ever Night opens just where the first novel left off: A Strong relationships & better world building make for solid sequel, 3.5 stars
Through the Ever Night opens just where the first novel left off: Aria and Perry are seeking each other through the shadows of the borderlands after months apart. Though their reunion is sweet, the relief is short-lived as they return to a tribe that doesn't trust Dwellers and where Perry's new position as Blood Lord is questioned. When distrust and danger force them apart, Aria and Perry must work separately to save the world and those around them from falling apart.
Though I wasn't impressed with Rossi's debut novel, Under the Never Sky, I picked up the sequel because I was intrigued enough to see where Aria and Perry's journey led next, and I'm very glad that I did. Not only did this novel move along better than the first, but many of the problems I experienced with the debut were absent. Quick, fast-paced plotting had me turning pages to see what happened next, and many of the world building issues were cleared up, even if in convenient ways.
The greatest strength of the novel, however, laid in its depiction of complex and meaningful relationships between the characters, including that between Perry and Roar, Perry and the band of Six, and Perry and Marron. Most notably, the relationship between Roar and Aria was a standout. Except for a few moments of hesitation or questioning from others, Aria and Roar's relationship was never fraught with unnecessary romantic tension; instead, it was portrayed as a supportive and resilient friendship between a man and a woman, something not often seen in a young adult novel. The relationship between Perry and Aria also felt less forced and more real, and talks of scents and senses added to their relationship this time instead of distracting from it.
While I did enjoy reading this, it's not a book that struck me deeply or that stayed with me long after reading - it was simply a fun, action-filled adventure-romance. The novel was very much a middle book, in that there was the expected distancing of the lovers and the fight to come back together. Anyone familiar with this genre can also foresee what lies ahead in the final book in terms of the conflict between the outcasts and those in power. As a character, Perry also seemed too perfect. Despite the described concern of his tribe regarding his ability to lead, readers will not find a single undesirable trait in him. Though I love reading about a `good guy' hero, this portrayal seemed unrealistic, especially given the rough way Perry was portrayed in the first book.
Even with these qualms, I'm glad I took another chance on this author and was able to immerse myself in the world of the Never Sky for a few days. In the final book of the trilogy, Into the Still Blue, I hope that Rossi maintains her focus on the characters' relationships as they forge ahead into an uncertain future.
Note: This review refers to an advance review copy....more
Meh. I just feel so...meh about this book and the conclusion of this trilogy. I can see what the author was trying to do theme-wise, but it still didnMeh. I just feel so...meh about this book and the conclusion of this trilogy. I can see what the author was trying to do theme-wise, but it still didn't grab me. ...more
Too little of too many things meshed into one story, 2.5 stars
In Veronica Rossi’s debut novel, Under the Never Sky, Aria has always lived on the insid Too little of too many things meshed into one story, 2.5 stars
In Veronica Rossi’s debut novel, Under the Never Sky, Aria has always lived on the inside. Safely tucked within her enclosed city, she has been taught to fear the disease and destruction that supposedly awaits on the outside. When Aria is forced out into The Death Shop – the world beyond the glass – she expects to die. She soon meets up with a rough outsider named Perry, however, and together they discover they may be the key to each other’s salvation as long as they can work together to survive the dangers that confront them on their journey.
Under the Never Sky takes a little something from many different genres – sci-fi, fantasy, post-apocalyptic, adventure, historical, and romance – and smooshes it all into one book. Because of this, the novel could appeal to many different readers, but for me, it felt like too little of too many things meshed into one story. Explanations about how the world worked, both inside and outside the dome, seemed shaky at best, and the same lack of clarify pervaded explanations about different characters’ special abilities. Aria as a main character also wasn’t very compelling. It took me a very long time, more than halfway through the book, to become at all interested in what was happening to her or any of the other characters. While Perry was more appealing in his complexity, the relationship between he and Aria switched too quickly from a detached partnership to a devoted romance to be believable. Their relationship and how it was described was also hindered by some truly odd and uncomfortable plot points about Perry’s sense of smell and what it could tell him about Aria.
Even with these flaws, the novel did have its good points. Once I got past the halfway point, the pace picked up substantially, and I found myself turning pages more quickly to learn what happened next. Perry was a sympathetic character with real flaws, and one of his close friends, once introduced, added a lot of levity to the story. Though the world building wasn’t always clear, the mystery involving Aria’s mother and her research was intriguing, and some of the described technologies and special senses that people had were inventive. The ending scene was also done well; though an obvious lead-in to the next book, it didn’t leave things feeling too unfinished.
In all, Under the Never Sky was a basic journey/adventure story that simply didn’t have the character development or world building that I needed to enjoy it. In the books to come in this trilogy (Through the Ever Night and Into the Still Blue), I hope Rossi paces her stories more consistently and expands on her world building to let readers really understand her world and the characters she’s created.
Note: This review refers to an advance review copy....more
In Myra McEntire's Timepiece, things are still going badly for the members of the Hourglass. Though Kaleb di Second disappointing installment in series
In Myra McEntire's Timepiece, things are still going badly for the members of the Hourglass. Though Kaleb didn't think he had the time-travel gene, he's starting to see time ripples and something feels very wrong. With demands and threats coming from both the man who murdered his father and a dangerous new stranger, Kaleb and the other Hourglass recruits must decide which risks to take in order to fix things or else the very fabric of time may be altered forever.
Though I didn't enjoy McEntire's debut, Hourglass, as much as I would have liked, I went into reading Timepiece with the hope that it would be a better experience for me. Unfortunately, it wasn't. Even with Kaleb as the new narrator, the writing and the story never pulled me in. Kaleb's voice felt too forced in its hormonal, "guy" nature, and Kaleb's feelings and personality shifted too much in a short time span to be believable. The time-travel and "veil" mythology also became even more murky and convoluted in this installment. Because I didn't understand how the world worked, nothing ever felt like a real risk because I didn't truly understand what was going on. When conflicts did arise, they were resolved much too quickly or too easily and the moments of dramatic tension never felt that way. Because of all of these things, I felt uninterested and uninvested in the characters, their relationships, and their troubles.
On the positive side, readers do learn more about the Hourglass group and their history, as well as about the villains and other adversaries. Even though I didn't enjoy Kaleb's voice as the narrator, some might appreciate his tone, and it does provide a welcome change from all the "sparking" and swoony talk of Emerson in the first installment. Lily, Emerson's best friend, takes on a major role in this sequel, and she is easily the most interesting and complex character in the series. Her spunk and personality added life to the tale and often kept it moving along during some of the slow parts.
Though this series doesn't seem to work for me, I'm glad that others enjoy it and its ideas about time travel. In the next book of the trilogy (Infinityglass), I hope McEntire brings greater clarity to her time-travel mythology and that she raises the stakes for her characters in order to create an engrossing read.
Note: This review refers to an advance review copy. ...more
Quick review: Great idea but failed execution, 1.5 stars
What starts with an emotional bang about what can happen when we distance ourselves by using tQuick review: Great idea but failed execution, 1.5 stars
What starts with an emotional bang about what can happen when we distance ourselves by using technology quickly dissolves into a story about two boys, one a jerk and one not, and how sex or the lack of it makes them feel connected or unconnected to the rest of the world. The storyline could have been powerful but it wasn't, and most of the characters, namely David, were so unlikable that it was hard to keep reading. The world building behind the idea of Companion robots was also flawed and poorly constructed....more
Limited character development & stereotypical romance disappoint
In Myra McEntire's debut novel, Hourglass, seventeen-year-old Emerson has been hauLimited character development & stereotypical romance disappoint
In Myra McEntire's debut novel, Hourglass, seventeen-year-old Emerson has been haunted with apparitions of people from the past since right before her parents' deaths. When her well-meaning older brother brings in yet another "expert," Emerson expects another failed attempt to help her. Instead, she gets Michael, a gorgeous young man who believes her and thinks the visions are real. When Michael proposes that Emerson can harness her powers - and their electric connection - to change the past, she must decide how much to risk in order to save a life that should never have been lost.
While HOURGLASS had the opportunity to shine due to its time-travel aspect, it fell short for me due to its limited character development, stereotypical romance, and incomplete world building. The writing, while adequate, faltered sometimes due to unrealistic dialogue and the use of some silly metaphors. Constant physical descriptions of the characters, such as Emerson's short height or Michael's pouty lips, stood in for character development. Despite being told repeatedly that Emerson is tough, she spent most of the novel swooning over Michael's beauty instead of being strong or making her own decisions. Michael may appeal to many readers due to his brooding and handsome nature, but his character developed little beyond his physical beauty and his condescending and controlling reactions to Emerson. Outside of their physical attraction and an "electricity" between them, the romance between Emerson and Michael was also never explained. As expected, a love triangle was introduced, though it was never fully explored, which was a relief. Talents or abilities of other characters, like best friend Lily, were also left unexplained and unexplored.
Plot-wise, the time-travel facet could have added a lot to the book but the time-travel process came across as too easily accomplished. Emerson accepted the risks involved without any real doubts or fears to save someone she didn't know; likewise, the utter willingness of other people to believe the time-travel explanation was unbelievable. Even though the villains and twists at the end were a surprise, their appearance and motivations didn't draw me into the story because I knew they were merely set-ups to drive the sequels.
On the positive side, I know there are many people who will enjoy this book for the brooding love interest, the time-slip aspect, and the relatively clean language and sexuality (just a few curse words, kissing, and some innuendo). Emerson was sometimes very likable and sympathetic as a character, and family played a big role in Emerson's problems and how she worked through them. In the coming books, I hope McEntire develops her characters, the romance, and the time-travel mechanics further to create a more compelling story.
Note: This review refers to an advance reader's copy. ...more
In Lisa Magnum's debut novel, The Hourglass Door, Abby is in her final year of high school with everything in placeDecent debut effort w/room for more
In Lisa Magnum's debut novel, The Hourglass Door, Abby is in her final year of high school with everything in place - a dependable boyfriend, two best friends, and an assistant director position for the school play. Inside, though, she's itching for more. After alluring Italian exchange student Dante walks into her life, things begin to change. Time stops, literally, when Abby is with Dante, and he has many secrets (days-long disappearances, gloves around his wrists all the time) that may put both of them in mortal danger.
Magnum's writing was easily readable, and the story centers on an original concept for a paranormal romance that includes historical and inventive components (no wolves, vampires, zombies, or fallen angels here). The story arc was interesting, and pacing was pretty good. The first half of the book depicts a strong net of family and supportive characters for the main character, Abby, which is often not seen in other books.
However, character development wasn't nearly as strong. The two main characters, Abby and Dante, were likeable, but I didn't love them or their romance. The familiar set-up of a good girl being drawn to a threatening guy was similar to almost all other paranormal romances. Side characters seemed like caricatures after the first half of the book, and character inconsistencies in behavior cropped up. In the writing, some phrases and descriptions became noticeably repetitive. Though the language and actions in the book were very clean, which many people may like, the characters' dialogue sometimes suffered for it by seeming fake. Despite these clean parameters, there's also one action between a student and a teacher that I couldn't believe could happen without repercussions. Some inconsistencies or unexplained portions of the supernatural events and their mythology provided plot holes. The ending was fairly conclusive, but there was an obvious set-up for a sequel, which left things feeling somewhat unfinished.
In all, this was a decent debut novel from Magnum with a unique concept for a typical young adult paranormal romance. Though I didn't think about the book much after I closed the cover, I plan to check out the sequel, The Golden Spiral (Book 2 in the Hourglass Door Trilogy), when it comes to the library. I'd like to see where Magnum takes the mythology and the relationships between Abby, Dante, and the other characters....more
**spoiler alert** Predictable & slow rehashing of Meyer's archetypes
I picked up The Host as a summer read. Unfortunately, the book felt like a reh**spoiler alert** Predictable & slow rehashing of Meyer's archetypes
I picked up The Host as a summer read. Unfortunately, the book felt like a rehashing of Meyer's Twilight series with a different setting and slightly older main characters. As her first published attempt at an adult novel, I had hoped for more mature writing, deeper character development, and more conflict, instead of problems being simply fixed in the end. Unfortunately, I didn't get that with this book.
Much like the books in the Twilight series, The Host uses dialogue and internal conflict to move its plot. However, this quickly became repetitive and therefore boring. The book was slow in the first 30 or so pages, but I'm a patient reader, so I kept on. Things picked up, only to slow miserably around page 200. While the writing style is a little more complex and varied than the Twilight series, there were many déjà vu moments. Meyer continues to overuse the words and descriptions of chagrin, hiss, snarl, demanding, reacting in horror, crowing, etc.
The characters are also too similar to her previous works. Most of the characters in this book, outside of Melanie and Jed, are provided little to no backstory and little to no development. The males in the book could easily be compared as Jared = Edward (the dangerous, controlling, but somehow alluring male), Ian = Jacob (the sweet, considerate male who's willing to give his love anything she wants, but who still does creepy things like kiss her when she doesn't want it), Doc = Carlisle (the compassionate, good doctor who couldn't hurt anyone and who's despondent when he does), and so on. The female character of Melanie/Wanda also plays on the same characteristics that Meyer created for Bella in that she's utterly consumed with the man in her life/lives, even when he physically or emotionally hurts her; she's willing to sacrifice herself and die for others and even jabs a knife into her arm willingly to help save someone else (fight scene in Eclipse when Bella slashes herself with the rock shard, anyone?). The main female character is also helplessly carried around by the men repeatedly in this book, much like the Twilight series. It seems as though Meyer's personal ideas about what she considers as a desirable male repeat themselves. There were times I actually put down the book and talked to it, saying, "C'mon, Meyer, are you capable of writing a different story?"
I think that this book could be a decent, mindless read if you have not read the Twilight series previously. It was just too difficult for me to ignore the similarities. I did like that The Host addressed larger themes of love, different types of love, sacrifice, survival, and the balance of the need for peace versus the need for resistant violence. I only wish these concepts could have been explored more deeply. And, just like my experience with the Twilight series (though I am loathe to admit it), I did want to keep reading to know what happened next. In sum, if you liked Meyer's story line and writing style before, you'll probably like this. Just don't expect anything earth-shatteringly different. As is no surprise, everything works out in the end and everyone's happy. Not that you couldn't figure out *exactly* how they would do that about 200 pages before it happens.... ...more