I'm rating this a 'personal' three stars, but more of a four for other people. I'm not entirely sure why it didn't fully absorb me, but there's so muc...moreI'm rating this a 'personal' three stars, but more of a four for other people. I'm not entirely sure why it didn't fully absorb me, but there's so much good stuff here.
Do you know how refreshing it is to have a book like this as a stand alone? There's lots of world building and some very complicated ideas. There's plenty there that would fill companion books. And yet the author and editors kept this specific story tight and controlled and managed so that it is contained in one book. I appreciate that so much.
I liked Nolan more than Amara or anyone in Amara's world, which I think was done on purpose, the formatting of the book, allowing the reader to see Nolan's world, Amara's world, Nolan in Amara's world, and Amara's awareness of Nolan in Amara's world, all could have gotten confusing and didn't, something extremely impressive from an editing standpoint.
I read an interview with the author recently about "issue" books and how this is not one, even though there are no white males in the story (possibly Maart? The appearance of the races in Amara's world don't seem to be analog to our own). I agree. Nolan's 'seizures' are important as the plot device of the whole story, but there is sex (non-explicit for the reader), extreme injury, one main character missing a foot, another missing her tongue, communicating in sign language, a family speaking many languages, heterosexual romance, homosexual romance, and none of it is really treated as a thing. It's not a big deal. (view spoiler)[ Amara is attracted to both Maart and Cilla at various times. No big deal. We don't learn much about sexual mores in Amara's world because they're a little busy not dying, but Amara herself doesn't go into any deep introspection about bisexuality or self identity. That was just really really nice, and representative of my own sexuality, and I don't get that much with fiction. (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
It's difficult to rate and review this kind of book when it is clearly a beginning. Not much is answered and not much is explained, but there's some g...moreIt's difficult to rate and review this kind of book when it is clearly a beginning. Not much is answered and not much is explained, but there's some good setup for a sweeping storyline to come.
Celaena is an assassin, pulled from the prison camp she has been sentenced to in order to attempt to win her freedom through a contest. It quickly felt familiar to me, based on the many many fantasy books I've read in my lifetime, but not really in a derivative way, more like coming home. Court intrigue but not too much politics. Celaena has that quality where everyone loves her, and the bitchy girl is instantly jealous, which could be annoying very quickly, but thankfully I didn't feel that she was a Mary Sue in other ways. She's a skilled fighter and assassin because she's been doing it for so long, not because she's perfect. She's got a hot temper and is realistically confused about a lot of things in her life. She has the decency to care about the important things going on rather than the love triangle forming around her.
One thing I loved about the character is that she is neither naive nor cruel. So often, assassins (especially female teenage assassins written for a YA audience) have been forced to kill and hate it and want some other life only they don't know any other life and they weep because of destiny. Celaena never gets into it deeply. She's good at killing, and she seems to like it without being bloodthirsty. She knows that being pretty helps her with her job but she doesn't really use sex as a weapon. She flirts with the two males she is in close contact with, but more for fun and they all three stay on the same level, there's no power game. She wants credit for what she does and her ability, but when arrogance would be foolhardy, she holds back. I hope this aspect of her personality stays the same as the series goes on, because this refreshing take was the number one thing I liked. I'm so tired of the "my hands are stained oh woe is me!" female assassin.
Now onto the things I didn't like, enough that I can see why readers who were looking forward to this could be pretty disappointed. The plot on the back of the book is glossed over at some points. During her training, there are lots of breaks in time where you're just told "there's another test tomorrow and someone else was killed" with no more information than that. This book could have easily been fleshed out with more detail and tension in the tests, and then this book could have felt like a standalone that becomes a series, which is almost always preferable. As it is, it doesn't feel complete enough for me to have been fully satisfied with it on it's own. There's so many hints to a sweeping epic backstory and some of it might be interesting, but some of it is pretty obvious and it's almost insulting that no one came out and said it in this book. MAJOR SPOILER (view spoiler)[ is there any way that Celaena ISN'T a descendant of Elana, and a princess? No, didn't think so. (hide spoiler)] Her emotional partiality to one of the love triangle, and partiality in her actions to the other was a bit confusing for me as well. I could buy being confused, or flip flopping, or just assuming that the three of you won't survive long enough to fight about it, but this didn't seem real to me.
The mythology of this world got confusing and muddled; again, one of those things that will likely work itself out in the course of a trilogy or series, but doesn't work well when one attempts to consider this book as a whole unto itself.
I'm giving this book a three stars, four at the moment because of the possibilities for the series. I am worried, and probably rightly so, that the things I like will be taken away, and the things I hope for never happen, so I may have to lower the rating based on the next book.
(Copy provided by the publishers through NetGalley. Was an interesting read alike to Grave Mercy )["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
Rated 2 stars now, will probably read the next one, and the rating may go up or down, depending.
I don't remember how I found out about this book. Pos...moreRated 2 stars now, will probably read the next one, and the rating may go up or down, depending.
I don't remember how I found out about this book. Possibly BookExpo America, or a journal or a book catalog or something, but the way the book was billed there is very different from how the PR for the book is now that it has released. I knew all of the secrets going into the book from the blurb I read and that is why I'm not sure if I can trust my gut reaction to the book.
My own as-a-reader-not-as-a-librarian reaction is that I really wasn't into it. It was well-written, but it never hooked me, I never liked the main character, and I was generally a little bit bored. I try to put myself in the mindset of a teen who hadn't read the blurb and instead was seeing the slow build up unfold, and I think they might be bored as well.
The boarding school aspects felt disjointed from the supernatural aspects, things that I think would tie it together also seem to be hooks for the sequel, which is a shame. I love a good stand alone book, particularly a book of a series that stands alone well. I was interested enough in some little things that I will at least attempt the next book when it comes out, but I think I may end up skimming through the main plot.(less)
I think I've figured out what bothers me about this series, despite the fact that I enjoy it.
The shifts in time are awkward as hell, two thirds of th...moreI think I've figured out what bothers me about this series, despite the fact that I enjoy it.
The shifts in time are awkward as hell, two thirds of the book is told in retrospect, Jaz saying 'here is where I am. This is how I got there. This is what happened before that'. That really takes away from any sense of danger or immediacy. I also have difficulty figuring out the world this takes place in, we don't find things out until some random fact it thrown in and we have to believe it has always been this way. Beginning Anita Blake or Rachel Morgan books always set out the world and the rules of the world before we played in it, and I loved that. Robin McKinley's Sunshine is another world with a different take on "others" but everything is laid out very particular. Here, some new scary beastie shows up and Jaz tells us "oh yeah everyone knows about this and is pretty much cool with it". My last complaint (whine?) is that the battle scenes are not to my taste. I tend to gloss over battle scenes to get to the more emotional parts that I care about. A really good sign for a book is if I have to force myself to read them carefully because I would actually miss something if I skipped it over. This isn't like that. The fight scenes could be easily removed with no problems to comprehension and plot. Ugh.
STILL, I'm enjoying myself with the series, perhaps because I'm not taking it too seriously and really just want to romantic payoff.(less)
I enjoyed this book and the sequel (only ones I've read thus far) but I still think something is missing... Although the concept invites comparisons t...moreI enjoyed this book and the sequel (only ones I've read thus far) but I still think something is missing... Although the concept invites comparisons to LKH and Kim Harrison, it is its own story, with its own flavor. I will definitely read up to book 5, but will I get all excited in October for book 6? I don't know.(less)
I want to say as little about it as possible, because the twists and surprises are the best part.
It works as a wonderful second act, I now actually un...moreI want to say as little about it as possible, because the twists and surprises are the best part.
It works as a wonderful second act, I now actually understand why the first book ended where it did and not a chapter sooner as I (and many others) thought it should have. The pacing felt strange, but again, now that I am finished, I can see how superbly executed it was. If you enjoyed the first one, I don't think you will be at all disappointed with this.
The only note I want to point out is that you DO need to read The Hunger Games. One would miss an awful damn lot if one began with this book. The beginning rehashes enough of Hunger Games that I felt caught up even though I read it several months ago, but there's very little repeat and you will want to be on your toes, so to speak.
**spoiler alert** I'm harsher on this than other books, simply because these types of novels are my favorite, dystopian world building, coming of age,...more**spoiler alert** I'm harsher on this than other books, simply because these types of novels are my favorite, dystopian world building, coming of age, growing to realize that what you've been told your entire life is wrong...
This fell flat for me. I almost felt like I didn't know what story the author was telling. Is this the parent's story, or the child's story? I never felt invested in either. I kept feeling angry at the parents, recklessly putting their children's lives in danger, in most circumstances I admire the character who plays within the rules, and takes those rules and slightly bends them to his or her own benefit. Not the couple who ignore the rules and then get plucked out of their children's lives leaving them to fend for themselves.
I saw very little character growth in Honor, her as a ten year old and her as a fourteen year old were the same. Too much of the book felt like "here is an example of why the society is bad" "hey look an incidence of control", the society was never shown as evil, and instead of realistic subtlety, it just felt not fully fleshed out. I had a hard time believing that these "orderlies" were fully brainwashed into doing complex tasks with no rebellion, but Pamela could send a code in base two to her daughter. The ending wrapped up very quickly and easily, with no sense to me of immediate danger.
I guess I am enumerating the flaws because they so easily don't have to be there. It felt more like a draft to me than a finished book. Some more focus, attention to audience and which story exactly should be told. I think I should try the author's adult books, I think I might find ther focus matching the writing there.(less)
Very good as a read alike to Sunshine by Robin McKinley. Woman gets captured by baddies and kept as prisoner to feed a vampire, deciding she must side...moreVery good as a read alike to Sunshine by Robin McKinley. Woman gets captured by baddies and kept as prisoner to feed a vampire, deciding she must side with the vampire to defeat the baddies. Very similar beginnings, very similar feel to the books, but very different books. Ardeth goes through a journey of self discovery, it had a very similar feel to many YA books about discovering who you are against the backdrop of a sister with a stronger personality.
I would have liked more of the romance, but that's a personal preference, the story was strong without it.
Update: Now, six months after I have read it, I want to be stronger in my praise for this book, it is still very haunting, and now that I know there is a sequel...I am buying them both. It is certainly a rereadable book.
I think this would make a great movie, because, for once, I think a screenwriter would make it a better story by focusing on action and romance, and not as much identity crises and soul searching. (less)