"Fireflies" is the kind of short story that reminds me how certain dystopian works, no matter their length, really can resonate and make you ponder th"Fireflies" is the kind of short story that reminds me how certain dystopian works, no matter their length, really can resonate and make you ponder the present world around you. Could Kate's world exist? The possibility is there, and that's the frightening part that should always been present at the back of your mind whenever you read a dystopian tale.
Read it, contemplate, and hope that your own future will never reach such a point....more
Angelfall. It's pretty amazing how one self-published novel could spread like wildfire through the Goodreads community in only a matter of days...andAngelfall. It's pretty amazing how one self-published novel could spread like wildfire through the Goodreads community in only a matter of days...and for the right reasons and not excuses for snark-ridden reviews. There's been a lot of gushing about this book (and some thoughtful criticism as well), so I can't say I'll add anything new to the conversation or word of mouth about this book. But I promised a review, so here it is.
To be honest, reading Angelfall left me in a daze, and I rated it in my dazed state, ready to join the gushing factions and say, "Yes, yes, yes, you need to read it NOW! DO IT NOW, I SAY, OR I'LL SEND THE ANGELS AFTER YOU!" Five stars seemed so appropriate a rating since (a) I really, really enjoyed it and (b) it handled the premise of ambiguous angels in an apocalyptic setting so very, very well. But I didn't rush to write an uber-positive review as I normally do with five-star reads. I let it sit and mulled over my thoughts.
There's no doubt in my mind that Angelfall is very readable and enjoyable, and with it comes a great commercial appeal akin to what made novels like The Hunger Games and even Twilight so popular with legions of YA readers. Angelfall takes something we think we know -- the concept of angels -- and adds new layers and dimensions to them for fictional purposes. I mean, has anyone recently had the guts to write agnostic angels in fiction? Or non-fallen angels not wholly intent on following divine will and purpose? It's mind-boggling simply because no YA author has yet tackled such ideas. Susan Ee has bragging rights for this and may she sue the hell out of any author, self-published or traditionally published, who tries to jump on the bandwagon by "borrowing" her ideas, so of course we YA readers are a little awed by it all.
But. But, at the end of the day, Angelfall is a novel full of so much potential that isn't always wielded to best effect. I'm not saying this novel would have fared better through traditional means (on the contrary, I think it would have gone through edits and rewrites that would have left it without much of the charm and ingenuity it contains in self-published format), but I think that Ee has yet to expand her novel's world and characters to all their potential. This isn't a criticism so much as this thought: "Since she started her story this well, I hope she will keep improving with each novel she writes." There are some authors whom I can be assured of such a thing, but Ee is still new to me and I'm distrustful by nature. I can only hope that the Penryn & the End of Days series will be one that continues to soar and does not eventually crash into the pit of "good series gone bad." Luckily, Angelfall leaves me with enough optimism to say that my pessimistic imagining will likely not occur.
All I can say as I end this review is that I recommend Angelfall for all the things it does well and that I am ecstatically looking forward to owning my own paperback copy of the novel sometime soon. I'll be crossing my fingers and hoping that the majority of you will enjoy it....more
It seems fitting that I devoured Prized on Valentine's Day as if it were a box of chocolate -- but this book was so much better than chocolate to me.
IIt seems fitting that I devoured Prized on Valentine's Day as if it were a box of chocolate -- but this book was so much better than chocolate to me.
I don't think a book in recent memory has made me dread or hope as much as this one did.
Prized made my heart a knotted mess, and then slowly -- painfully -- the knots began to untangle and leave me even more stricken.
This book and its predecessor Birthmarked are so much more than run-of-the-mill YA dystopian novels. They are rife with important topics (and even some criticisms): the merit of choice for women, their bodies, and their love lives; the shades of sexism that can lead to one sex dominating over the other; and the truth that difficult circumstances ultimately try who you are, what you believe, and who you will become.
I love Gaia, the heroine, for being a confused sixteen-year-old who is still more sensible, honest, and free-willed than most heroines in YA today.
I love Leon, the hero, for not being the "perfect guy," the be-all-and-end-all for Gaia. He has deep layers and dark shades, but he is not the "bad boy" stereotype many of us have come to loathe.
I love that their romance is sometimes difficult, sometimes easy, yet always passionate.
I love the story for speaking out about so many important things in quiet and subtle ways.
And I love Caragh O'Brien for giving me these books that I'll want to devour again and again. Please keep challenging me, making me ponder, making me fall in love with your characters in both their good moments and their bad. You even have permission to break my heart with your words and your characters (as you did with this installment), so long as you offer enough hope for me to piece my heart back together again.
I wait with an anxious (and dread- and hope-filled) heart for the third book, Promised, and can only hope that the characters I have come to love will reach the places they need to be....more
Pre-release thoughts: Okay, the co-authorship of this book seems suspect to me. Is de la Cruz going the way of James Patterson with all the 'co-authorPre-release thoughts: Okay, the co-authorship of this book seems suspect to me. Is de la Cruz going the way of James Patterson with all the 'co-authoring' he has done? I have a bad feeling that she is since this idea does not seem like something she herself would write at all. Who knows, though? I could be wrong....more
There has been much buzz surrounding Marissa Meyer's debut novel, Cinder, over the months leading up to its publication. How(Actual Rating: 3.5 stars)
There has been much buzz surrounding Marissa Meyer's debut novel, Cinder, over the months leading up to its publication. How could there not be? The main hook is Cinderella as a cyborg. Even without reading the synopsis, many people would likely snap to attention at the mention of such an idea, and I was no exception to to the allure of what this book might entail.
In the end, my curiosity felt only half-rewarded. Cinder was an enjoyable read with good (and some really unique) ideas, but oftentimes the execution wasn't as powerful as it could have been. Amusement and annoyance alike colored my reading experience. I regret to say that, for me, the story was not the unforgettable book I had been hoping to read.
In a world over 100 years past its fourth world war, Linh Cinder is a mechanic living in New Beijing within the Eastern Commonwealth. However, given her cyborg status, she lives under the thumb of her stepmother, who reaps the benefits from Cinder's work. Even as Cinder dreams of getting away from the life she lives and fleeing to somewhere better, her country is in a state of turmoil: a plague rips its way through the population, the emperor lies on his death bed, and the Lunar Empire threatens war. All of this is beyond Cinder's paltry life, yet she may play a bigger part in all of this than she ever imagined...
As intriguing as all of its ideas are, Cinder often felt bogged down by its fairy tale roots, keeping it from gaining the wings that could have made it soar as a story right from the start. The first half of the novel is an introductory phase, groundwork being laid for not only this book but also the sequels to come. While in and of itself that seems like a good way to handle a multi-book story, the execution failed to draw me in and engross me as much as I had wanted. Only past the halfway point (over 200 pages into the story) did I begin to care for the characters and the world around them. This kind of slow-building storytelling usually works for me, but I can't say it bore full-effect with Cinder.
Then, thankfully, the second half of the novel kicked in, and suddenly things seemed...desperate. Dire. Maybe even deadly. And my enjoyment rose to much greater heights. By the time I reached the end, I did want the sequel, and I felt invested in Cinder as a character. I admired what Meyer had done with the climax and denouement, not seeking to tie up the end or give a quick (and unsatisfactory) happily-ever-after. Cinder's story didn't stay in the cookie-cutter mold; it broke free of it. Cyborg Cinderella, true to her promise, has much more in store for her than marriage to a prince. Her journey is only just beginning.
Speaking of Cinder herself, I admit that sometimes I was exasperated with her. How could I not be, when she's either forgetting to do something important (to the point that she seems an accessory to keep the plot "mysterious" for as long as possible) or mulling over her cyborg identity even though she always claims her humanity when in a face-off with her stepmother? She's not a bad heroine by any means (far from it, actually), but I wish she had been more consistent. She could have been only a more powerful heroine because of it.
For all its promise and hype, Cinder didn't work for me as I had hoped...but the strong final act convinced me that the sequels will be worth reading, if only to see how this saga (with all its threads) will end. Other readers will likely be much more receptive to the story as a whole, overlooking the flaws and enjoying the book for what it is: the first of a slowly unfolding saga that, layer by layer, may prove to be greater than the sum of its parts. I look forward to seeing if that will be the case when all is said and done.
Note: I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley....more
(Note: Goodreads friends and followers, you know me by now. You know that, even as much as I love a book, my reviews aren't always a resounding, "Oh m(Note: Goodreads friends and followers, you know me by now. You know that, even as much as I love a book, my reviews aren't always a resounding, "Oh my goodness, you need to READ THIS NOW! YOUR LIFE WILL BE SO MUCH FULLER BECAUSE OF IT!" I'm not that naive or arrogant to think that the books I love will be the books you love. Instead, my reviews are...chronicles of the experiences I had with books, and if that can help you decide whether certain books will be for you or not, then I'll be all the happier. However, sometimes I am a gushing mess with books I love, and I don't note the flaws present. I will try to be mindful of this tendency of mine as I write this review.)
Hope is hugging me, holding me in its arms, wiping away my tears and telling me that today and tomorrow and two days from now I will be just fine and I'm so delirious I actually dare to believe it.
Two years ago, I had my first experience with a young adult dystopian novel: Suzanne Collins's The Hunger Games. I fell in love with the characters, found myself fascinated yet horrified by the circumstances of the world, and became invested in a wonderful story that still makes me feel a tangle of emotions to this day. In some respects, Tahereh Mafi's Shatter Me gave me some of the same emotions I had back then as I stayed up to the wee hours of the morning just to read what happened next to Katniss, Peeta, and everyone else. Shatter Me left me expectant, worried, and intrigued with every page I turned. It was a stressful reading experience, definitely, but all the stress I felt was pent-up through the heroine, Juliette.
Juliette, you see, hasn't been touched for 264 days. Inside of her is a curse gift that brings deathdeathdeath agony to anyone she touches, and this strange ability has led to her being locked away in an asylum. Isolation takes its toll on Juliette, and her only real solace is writing away in a notebook and spinning phrases in such a way that they seem overwrought and not entirely rational or "normal." Then the unthinkable occurs: Juliette is given a cellmate, and everything she thought she knew begins to expand and spin out of her control entirely.
Shatter Me is a dystopian novel but, unlike others of the genre, the novel is less about external conflict (though there is some of that; it wouldn't be a novel if there weren't) and more about internal conflict. To make my meaning more clear, let me explain with a comparison: one of my friends recently directed me to a script called Maggie about a teenage girl bitten by a zombie and her slow change into one of the undead. What do zombies and one girl's transformation into one have to do with this novel? Because that script is about a big idea (zombie infestation worldwide) narrowed down to a character (Maggie) and her experiences. In some ways, Shatter Me, is much like that: it's about a big idea (a dystopian world headed by a secretive totalitarian government), but instead it focuses on one character's role in it (Juliette). Given how so many writers focus on the "big ideas" and sacrifice deep characterization because of it, I was very happy with the way this first novel developed, driven by Juliette and her ramblings thoughts.
Another hurdle of this novel is the prose, something that I feel will probably alienate many readers since...it's not exactly typical to read novels with lines like I'm catapulted across the room by my own fear or My mouth freezes in place. Also, the strike-outs may become a teensy-bit annoying to some readers. As for my experience, I was surprised: the prose didn't bother me. It actually reminded me of a verse novel (which, I know, many people don't like...but I find some of them very lovely, albeit a bit thin plot-wise). And it also helped that the prose fit the character. Juliette is an isolated girl, left alone with nothing but her own thoughts and words. Her thoughts, eccentric and detailed as they are, are coping mechanisms. The words help her to distance herself from her situation, and even after her life begins to brighten she still relies on her old habits of describing things and actions in an unnatural way. What would have bothered me is if Juliette hadn't seemed a bit "different" after spending so much time alone. Then I would have thought her a robot, and the story would not have drawn me in nearly as much.
The hero, Adam, and the antagonist, Warner, also managed to get my heartstrings all tangled. I couldn't help noting some of the sweetness and tenderness I had seen in Peeta Mellark's character within Adam Kent. In contrast, Warner...is a sadistic bastard of a character, but his obsession with Juliette and her powers is as sorrowful as it is pitiful and disturbing. Though a part of me dreads the love triangle already beginning to form, a greater part of me finds the dynamics fascinating since Adam and Warner are two opposite ends of the spectrum. One is heroic and kind; the other is cruel and nearly mad during certain moments. Even though it's a no-brainer who the "right" choice is, one must wonder how this will all play out if Juliette begins to look at herself as a monster again.
I'm not going to lie: the direction this novel takes is familiar yet still a bit surprising. When I opened this book, I hadn't known what to expect...but, near the end, I found myself at a complete one-eighty from what I had first expected. That in and of itself is a good thing, so I'm hoping that the rest of the trilogy will continue to bring surprises to the table. With the ending, I actually felt that I had a glimpse of what Tahereh Mafi had been hoping to accomplish with this novel. It's an origins story of transformation and healing amid darkness, despair, and loneliness.
The only major thing that irked me a little in this first novel was that the lack of other female characters was...quite noticeable. It gets a tad annoying that all the other characters (who matter) are boys in this first installment. No matter how strong Juliette becomes as a character, somehow it will feel a little lacking if she's the lone girl amid adoring males. I love strong heroines even more when they have a few other strong females around them. As much as I really enjoyed this first installment, my reading experiences with the next two novels may be hindered as far as enjoyment goes if Juliette remains the one girl who matters in the story.
Mixed though the opinions may be about this novel, Shatter Me really surprised me with its take on the dystopian genre, narrative style, and characterization. I look forward to seeing what will happen as the story progresses throughout the trilogy, so here's hoping the ride will continue to be exhilarating to me as a reader. As for whether you should try this one for yourself...I advise making use of preview chapters before committing to read the entire novel. Shatter Me isn't going to be for everyone, but I hope that it will find the readers who will appreciate and savor it for what it is and be able to ignore the flaws that may hamper full enjoyment of this novel....more
Under the Never Sky and I were bound to have a rocky relationship. The original description for the novel was a "take on Romeo and Juliet in a post-apUnder the Never Sky and I were bound to have a rocky relationship. The original description for the novel was a "take on Romeo and Juliet in a post-apocalyptic setting." Mention Romeo and Juliet, and my hackles rise. Romeo and Juliet did a lot of stupid things for the sake of lust "love" – and, as much as recent young adult books have tried to paint Shakespeare's famous tragedy as a "great love story," it's not something that should be emulated or, frankly, even wanted. Thus, coming into reading this novel, I was wary of what I would receive. Would the novel be a nauseating love story, or would it actually be able to stand its ground against other dystopian young adult novels I had read and loved?
To my surprise, Under the Never Sky actually has a well-realized, intriguing world as its landscape. People live in scattered and closed-off places called Pods, and they spend their time in virtual realities called the Realms. But there are dangers lurking in the outside world: storms caused by Aether swirls churning in the sky, diseases and germs that attack those least immune, and tribes of violent savages and bloodthirsty cannibals. Aria has lived in the Pod known as Reverie for all her life, but one misstep – rule-breaking that leads to fire and a breach in which an Outsider comes into the Pod – eventually incurs Aria's ejection into the dangerous outside world. The Outsider, a Tide tribesman known as Perry, has his own worries and concerns, but one thing is certain: he needs Aria's help to make things right for himself and his tribe.
What makes this world so interesting? It holds much of the danger and adventure present in fellow post-apocalyptic novel Blood Red Road, though in a more subtle fashion. The inclusion of "powers" called Senses is familiar yet unique, done in such a way that allows for some surprises along the way. The history of what caused the world to fall into this state isn't explored in this first installment, but the lack of information doesn't really affect the logic of the world-building itself.
The disappointment, sadly, came with the characters themselves. Aria and Perry are interesting characters, yes, but I didn't connect to them or find them particularly endearing. It was hard to believe, then, that they could connect to one another and find each other endearing. (view spoiler)[(Don't get me started on Perry only starting to feel attracted to Aria once she had begun her period. Or his imprinting-like "rendering" that makes him feel like a piece of him is missing when she isn't near.) (hide spoiler)] I didn't buy that their prejudices against one another could be smoothed over so easily. Wouldn't there be more hurt feelings? Wouldn't there be more distrust and wariness that wouldn't be so easily swept away? It seemed too simple and easy for them to jump so quickly from near-enemies to allies to somewhat friends to something more. I understand that things like war and survival can make brothers (or, I guess in this case, lovers) of enemies, but...will this attachment they have even last during more "peaceful" times? Can they sustain what's between them? I'm not convinced they can or, frankly, even that they should.
Lest I paint some false impressions, Under the Never Sky is a very readable book, even despite some choppy passages and a conservative writing style that doesn't offer much in the way of "poetic prose." The draw to this novel is the discovery of the world and the adventure, one page at a time. My feelings were mixed, but others may find this story to be a shining gem among the oft-disappointing bevy of young adult dystopian novels to be had. If nothing else, the world-building within the novel is more than enough to give this novel a look. Give it a try if you feel so inclined.
Note: I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
The Blurb:Kiera Cass's trilogy beginning with THE SELECTION, a dystopian romance pitched as "The Hunger Games" meets "The Bachelor," following 17-yeaThe Blurb:Kiera Cass's trilogy beginning with THE SELECTION, a dystopian romance pitched as "The Hunger Games" meets "The Bachelor," following 17-year-old America Singer, one of the eligible young women selected to compete to become the next queen, who finds herself falling in love despite only wanting to break her family out of the lower castes and leaving her boyfriend at home.
My Expression After Reading the Blurb: O_o
Thoughts Accompanying My Dubious Expression: Uh. . .you expect me to take the book seriously as a dystopian when it's pitched as The Hunger Games meets The Bachelor? And the heroine's name is. . .America?
. . .
[cue my laughing like a hyena]
Oh, you young adult writers. . .what ideas will you throw at us readers next?
All joking and prodding aside. . .I will still sadly probably read this since I am still hoping for a YA dystopian to wow me just as The Hunger Games and Unwind did. With the way things are going for YA dystopians, though. . .well, I think I just may have to write my own wow-worthy YA dystopian.
. . .
[cue the person reading this review laughing like a hyena now]
Yes, I know, but a girl can still dream! DX
Anyway. . .here's hoping THE SELECTION will be a winner instead of a dud! And I may just really like it since I can't squash the hopeless romantic out of me, no matter what I do.
Update: Well, the official blurb sounds promising. (I'm glad that The Bachelor comparison, however fitting for the premise of the novel's foundation, is gone.)
For thirty-five girls, the Selection is the chance of a lifetime. The opportunity to escape the life laid out for them since birth. To be swept up in a world of glittering gowns and priceless jewels. To live in the palace and compete for the heart of the gorgeous Prince Maxon.
But for America Singer, being Selected is a nightmare. It means turning her back on her secret love with Aspen, who is a caste below her. Leaving her home to enter a fierce competition for a crown she doesn't want. Living in a palace that is constantly threatened by violent rebel attacks.
Then America meets Prince Maxon. Gradually, she starts to question all the plans she's made for herself- and realizes that the life she's always dreamed of may not compare to a future she never imagined.
And the cover's really pretty too... (Yes, I may end up buying this one because I've fallen for many a pretty cover.)...more
I came to the conclusion a while ago that there is nothing romantic or supernatural about loving someone: Love is the privilege of being responsible fI came to the conclusion a while ago that there is nothing romantic or supernatural about loving someone: Love is the privilege of being responsible for another. [my favorite quote from Zombicorns]
What a way to get me depressed AND force me to think. For being a novella of only about 70 pages, Zombicorns was very thought-provoking indeed. You might not think much of such a satirically titled work, but it's definitely worth at least a peek. (I can guarantee that you will be hooked enough to at least finish it.)
Now, my only gripe is this: I may be a nerd, but I'm not a John Green-type nerd. Some of the things in his works totally whiz over my head and straight into the sky. I don't know about anyone else, but I don't like feeling stupid when I read books or stories. I like learning while reading, but I definitely do not like something being thrown at me that I obviously wouldn't know. John Green has a tendency to do that in his writing, thus giving it a superior tone that I don't know if he intends or not. (His main characters tend to believe themselves superior in some ways, though, so. . .it may be intentional in one respect.)
Some questions I couldn't help but ponder while reading this novella:
(1) Why wasn't this included in the anthology Zombies vs. Unicorns? I get that it was written primarily for charity at first, but STILL. I think this short story would have fit nicely since its tone was much like the stories Scott Westerfeld and Libba Bray had offered in said anthology.
(2) Why was the title Zombicorns? Was that meant to appeal to people who had read the above anthology I mentioned? Or was the title meant to be deeper than one might think, telling that the story merged violence (zombies) and innocence (unicorns) together? (Actually, the story was more about inception of violence and loss of innocence -- but you'd realize that if you read it.)
(3) Why did John Green call this a 'bad zombie apocalypse novella'? Excuse me, way to insult my intelligence. If this is stupid to you, then I'd hate for you to read some of the things I write that I call 'stupid little nothings.' (Said writings will never see the light of day even after hundreds of revisions, by the way.) I get that about trying to be humble -- but too much is too much.
(You're getting the impression that I dislike John Green, aren't you? Well -- I don't, but I can't say I'm a fan yet either even though I own all of his novels. I'm on the fence about what I think about him as a writer even though I think he's bloody brilliant with short stories.)
(And, yes, I realize that I'm giving way too many back-handed compliments. I do that with writers I'm on the fence about. You should read what I say about Stephenie Meyer and L.J. Smith.)
Anyway. . .all I can say is that this is definitely worth a read (especially since it is now FREE), so do so at your reading pleasure and leisure. Enjoy....more
Listen up since you may never hear these words from me again about any other book: I am not surprised in the least that this book is getting such buzzListen up since you may never hear these words from me again about any other book: I am not surprised in the least that this book is getting such buzz, nor that rights to the film have already been acquired by Ridley Scott. You want to know why? Because this book has everything that will keep anyone, whether a reader or movie-goer, hooked: action, suspense, drama, unpredictability, emotion, romance, and great characterization.
Unlike other dystopian YA novels, Blood Red Road isn't focused on issues that lead to rebellion and upheaval. You know what it is? An adventure, plain and simple. It's not seeking to teach but to engross and entertain -- and, for me, I was so thoroughly engrossed and entertained by this story that I really became invested in it over the course of almost 500 pages.
Truthfully, Blood Red Road brought with it much of the amazement and horror that books such as Wolf Tower, Poison Study, and The Hunger Games had brought me in the past. The world-building is not the main focus here; the characters and their emotions are in the spotlight while the adventure of the story acts as the plot.
And what an adventure it is. Dystopian, as I felt with Veronica Roth's Divergent, gives too many false impressions and preconceived notions to readers about this book. Rather, the term dystopian fantasy fits Blood Red Road just right since the world of the story is much easier to imagine in fantasy terms than realistic ones. It's a fantastical adventure that, though lacking magic and swords, still manages to thrill and amaze.
The heroine, Saba, honestly takes a bit of time to warm up towards. . .but she is loyal, brave, and gutsy. She comes from a long line of heroines like Katniss from The Hunger Games and Katsa from Graceling who are flawed yet powerful, emotionally stunted in some respects but passionate when it comes to the well-beings of family, friends, and other loved ones. Such heroines come to mean more to me than most other YA heroines, especially those who fall hard and fast (and oftentimes irrationally) for the love interests and who can't take care of themselves whatsoever without falling into angst or damsel-in-distress mode.
Don't let me fool you into thinking that this novel is the Saba Show; yes, it's her story but that doesn't mean she's always the center of everything. Honestly, I loved all the characters and every little piece and tidbit about them. Jack, the love interest, didn't coddle Saba but tried to lead her to changing for the better even though she railed against him again and again. Emmi, for being a little sister character, was not a whiny little brat; instead, she was a hard-working and loyal girl, a smaller version of Saba, just much more innocent and child-like.
The dialect in the narrative may turn off some readers, just as the lack of dialogue tags and overt descriptions might, but I found all of it to be marks of this book's refreshing qualities compared to other YA dystopians focused on love and rebellion. No, this book won't wow everyone, but those who value adventure in their stories may come out of this book with more praise than criticism.
I really look forward to what happens in the sequels; I suspect that Moira Young will keep surprising and amazing me in equal doses. June 7th can't come early enough for me to own my own copy of this book!...more
Ixion: a place of eternal night and eternal pleasure -- but nothing, nothing, comes without its price. . .
Admittedly, Burn Bright was one of my most aIxion: a place of eternal night and eternal pleasure -- but nothing, nothing, comes without its price. . .
Admittedly, Burn Bright was one of my most anticipated releases of 2011. First, there's the darkly beautiful cover that brings to mind the fashion of Lady Gaga and the gothic wonder of Tim Burton's movies; right from the first time I saw it, it ensnared me in such a way that for months I thought, "I must have this book, I must have this book." Then there's the synopsis, speaking of a dark place called Ixion and a heroine who plunges into this night world to find her brother even though she has no desire to cavort and party as other Ixion migrants do. Burn Bright is of those ideas that just lit fire to my imagination and made me wonder what this story would entail and what dark delights would lay within its pages.
Thus, you can imagine that I came into reading this book with high expectations. Perhaps it was wrong of me, but I really expected this book to be a dark and heady mixture that made me think of the works of Laini Taylor or Melissa Marr. Instead, I received something that was bittersweet in texture and feel. . .and I honestly don't know if I liked it.
Burn Bright is a book that thrives on being different. It is very much a dark supernatural fantasy, and there is nothing quite like it in the young adult book market at the moment. Since it's fresh in that respect, I can see why other readers would be enamored with it. When you're faced with something so different from the norm, you're going to either embrace it or run away from it. Me? I was caught in the middle.
Where the story really succeeds is the world-building -- which, again, is so different from anything else that it's really rather fascinating and intriguing as you learn about Ixion right alongside its heroine, Retra. Ixion is a place where teenagers flee to lose themselves in wild parties and no-holds barred behavior, but there are people who act as guardians in Ixion: the Ripers, a group of overseers headed by the dark and secretive Lenoir. Why must the 'baby bats' -- the newcomers to Ixion -- stick to the lighted paths? And what happens to those who grow too old for Ixion?
Honestly, Ixion is a fantastically realized world, holding the madness of Lewis Carroll's Wonderland and the strangeness of J.M. Barrie's Neverland. However, a world on its own is not enough to carry a book: there also needs to be a balance with characterization and plot too. In Burn Bright, I couldn't help the feeling that the world of Ixion itself was so rich that the characters seemed flat and colorless by comparison. To me, the characters here felt like puppets moving against a backdrop that didn't help to ground or solidify them but rather outshine them -- when, really, it should be the other way around. The characters are what move the story forward, and they need to feel like live players instead of figures at the mercy of unseen twists and turns. Yes, the world building offers so many fantastic ideas and concepts -- but, meshed with the characters and plot, the story didn't seem so stellar of a package as it could have been.
The plot itself is mostly a mixture of uncovering the secrets of Ixion and seeing a battle for dominion over Ixion begin to stir -- and Retra finds herself caught up in all of it and forced to change because of her involvings in Ixion. In and of itself, the story didn't really offer me much that I hadn't expected. You have the heroine who becomes a key player in a world to which she is still only a newcomer. You have her love interests, neither of whom seem really good for her in the long run. You have her friends, most of whom have brighter personalities than she does but who take a backseat as mere tagalongs for much of the story. Needless to say, I wasn't very much impressed as far as the characters and plot go.
While others will love Burn Bright for its ingenuity and freshness, I'm sad to say that it just wasn't enough for me. However much I liked the world building, it wasn't the book I had expected to read. Whether it will be a hit or miss with you. . .well, you have to read it to find out. I hope it will burn bright in your eyes as I wish it had done for me. ...more