Tell Me More:2013 brings another trilogy to its long-awaited conclusion inClockwork Princess,and like many YA readers, I was eager to know exactly how...moreTell Me More: 2013 brings another trilogy to its long-awaited conclusion in Clockwork Princess, and like many YA readers, I was eager to know exactly how Cassandra Clare would tie up all the loose ends in The Infernal Devices. Unfortunately for me, only disappointment lay down that path.
It’s been about 15 months since I last read Clockwork Prince, but I do still think of it with fondness, mostly because so much of that story was centered on Jem Carstairs. He has consistently been the most developed character, more than anyone else in the series, and I enjoyed getting to know him better. But in Clockwork Princess, Clare tries to bring the story back to focus on Will, Tessa and Jem, and it doesn’t quite work so well.
Release Date: February 5, 2013 Publisher: Feiwel & Friends (Macmillan) Age Group: Young Adult Pages: 464 Format: Hardcover Source: ARC won from Indigo...moreRelease Date: February 5, 2013 Publisher: Feiwel & Friends (Macmillan) Age Group: Young Adult Pages: 464 Format: Hardcover Source: ARC won from Indigo Teen Blog
Tell Me More: My approach to Scarlet was very different from how I usually approach sophomore novels, especially ones in series. Second installments are most often written after the first book has already been revised and edited, but if you're familiar with Marissa Meyer's publication story, you already know that she wrote Cinder, Scarlet and Cress in a month, which is a feat in and of itself. Naturally, it was interesting to learn just how the story evolved through both the rapid writing and publication process, and she does not disappoint. Scarlet is an even stronger novel than Cinder, and I think it's safe to say that any expectations you might have for it will definitely be met.
The challenge posed by Scarlet and the succeeding books in the series is to make the reader care about a whole host of characters, not just Cinder. Our favourite half-cyborg heroine is nowhere to be found in the first few chapters--instead, readers meet Scarlet Benoit, a girl who cares deeply for her grandmother, enough to pick a fight when locals suggest she's run away or killed herself. Scarlet's faith in her grandmother and the unwavering instinct that something is wrong lead her to an encounter with a mysterious street fighter who fulfills the "tall, dark and mysterious" trope frequently used in YA fiction. That said, Wolf is no typical anti-hero. He is genuinely compelling to read about because one can never be sure what he's going to do (or not do) next. Scarlet is a kindred soul, and together they are able to carry the weight of this story on their shoulders.
And what a weighty story it is: not only does Scarlet embark on a journey to track down her lost grandmother, Cinder's commandeering of a spaceship with fellow prisoner Captain Thorne fills the other half of the novel. The banter between these two characters was fantastic to say the least, witty and poignant all at the same time. Marissa's ability to write quick zingers into the dialogue is something that I greatly appreciated in such a serious novel, and the moments that made me laugh weren't few and far between. The humour in this story is perfectly balanced with the heartbreak--in fact, they only add to each other's intensity.
Scarlet and Cinder's shared uncertainty develops into a confidence that both ladies use to their advantage and which will win readers over before they even get halfway through the novel. The men might be interesting (and super cute), but there's no doubt that this is a series written about and for young women who won't be shut away or dismissed. They learn what their limits are and then they break through them, making decisions and fighting for their lives on their own terms. This book became something I wish I'd had the privilege to read as a teenager.
The Final Say: Rarely do I feel as comfortable, content with and excited for a series as I have with The Lunar Chronicles. With another pack of memorable characters led by the fierce Scarlet Benoit, Marissa Meyer proves once again that the universe is the limit when it comes to superb YA fiction.
Find out more about Ms. Meyer in my interview with her. Fun facts about Scarlet can also be found in my blog tour stop, and in my recap of Marissa's event here in Toronto!(less)
Tell Me More: I was genuinely afraid to read this book, and not just because Maureen Johnson succeeded in crafting a truly creepy ghost story in The Name of the Star. Sophomore novels in general tend to be hit-or-miss for me, and as much as I was looking forward to returning to Wexford with Rory, there was no guarantee that The Madness Underneath would be as compelling a story. Fortunately, I was wrong.
Rory is not even close to being okay at the start of The Madness Underneath. She doesn't get any closer to being normal throughout the course of the book, and that ended up being one of my favourite things about the story. She's just as awkward and her actions just as instinctive as they were in Name of the Star, which helps the reader settle into the plot. She is just as confused and curious as the reader, and Johnson uses that to spring plot twist after plot twist. You never get a chance to relax while reading--the pacing never feels slow because you feel like it's all happening to you as well.
Johnson also brings back some amazing characters and I absolutely loved seeing Jazza, Stephen and Boo again. They serve as excellent foils for the strange changes in Rory, and they keep her (and in turn, the reader) grounded despite the fast turns that the plot takes. And oh, what a plot it is. Johnson's writing evokes danger on every page--I found that I was suspicious of every single new character until proven otherwise, which made for an ultra compelling reading experience. And unlike other books that are second or third in an extended series, the main mystery of The Madness Underneath is strong enough to carry the characters through without feeling forced or pointless.
The action, horror and emotional high stakes build slowly to a literally stunning ending. No, really. I threw my book across the room. Johnson isn't a writer who has ever been afraid to take risks, but I have to give her props for making me lose my breath from shock. In the rare event that you pick up The Madness Underneath and find the story lackluster, I guarantee that the ending will make you want to reread it over and over again to find hints as to what could possibly happen in the third novel.
The Final Say: The second installment of the Shades of London series will astonish and scare readers of all ages, and may actually make the YA readersphere explode with emotions.