Again, the writing is great, but I'm not truly engaged with the story. I will probably read the other two books eventually, but it bugs me that every...moreAgain, the writing is great, but I'm not truly engaged with the story. I will probably read the other two books eventually, but it bugs me that every book seems to 'restart' Tally.(less)
I couldn’t help myself. It was almost like the feeling you get when you’re in an accident–I was awa...more2.5 stars, originally published at Winged Reviews.
I couldn’t help myself. It was almost like the feeling you get when you’re in an accident–I was aware I was falling, but I wasn’t able to stop my fall. It’s this weird out of body experience that I got reading this book and why I’m absolutely mystified that I finished it and managed to somewhat enjoy it.
The premise of The Selection seemed really fun. 35 girls out of all that applied in the nation would be picked to compete to be the new wife of Prince Maxon and become the future queen. I love bad reality TV and thought this was right up my street. Unfortunately, the premise is pretty much where the fun stopped.
For something billed as a dystopian novel, the world-building was tenuous at best. There is a caste system in place, from 1-8. The heroine, America Singer, is one of the lower castes, 5, full of artists. We are told that her family are just above poverty, but she not only has a roof over her head but she has her own room, a meal (with leftovers) every evening and and even a treehouse. From what I gathered, they don’t have cakes and make-up. What a sorry existence.
America then gets guilted into applying for the Selection by her society-climbing mother and her too-manly-to-be-burdened-by-guilt boyfriend Aspen. As timing would have it, Aspen breaks up with her for being able to provide for him (this guy has serious caveman issues). So she enters the Selection single, and moony over Aspen. However, she does end up getting to know Prince Maxon and discovering he’s got a little more substance and slowly becomes his friend, then falls for him. As luck would have it, Aspen somehow also crawls his way back into her life, and you have here a very standard love triangle.
The writing is terrible. It’s a classic case of telling not showing. When appearances are described, it’s very amatuerish and emotions are portrayed too obviously. If someone is sad, it’s almost like they come out and say “I’m sad”. This gives the impression that all the characters are caricaratures and they lack the depth and complexity that makes you want to care about them. And I find that I don’t really care about America, Aspen, Maxon or who ends up with who.
There also wasn’t very much plot to the book. Girls leave the Selection, but you don’t find out enough about them to care why or be sad that they did. There is a particularly horrible girl, who is supposed to be the antagonist, but the best she could do was rip a sleeve off America’s dress. There are random attacks of rebellion by some unknown outside forces (the North and South), but it was very sporadic and disconnected with the rest of the story. I think we were supposed to feel the girls were in danger (I didn’t), and I’m still not really sure why that was even included, except to make the book “more dystopian”. It also ended very abruptly, and it as a short book as it was. I felt like the author is saving up for the sequels, but I think a little more could’ve actually happened in this book, if only to make me care a bit more about what happens next.
Oddly enough, I do, though. Like those bad reality shows, I kind of want to see how it all pans out, even though everything has been utterly predictable so far. It didn’t infuriate me, like Aimee Carter’s Goddess Test series, and I think morbid curiosity is the best thing to describe how I feel about the book. I’m hoping Cass throws some twists and spends more time developing the characters so we can be truly invested in their inevitable departures.
I think the concept would work better as a TV show and I will definitely be watching the CW pilot when it comes out. As for the book, read it for the morbid curiosity factor, if you can manage to get through the writing.(less)
Good concept, but I wasn't too fond of the writing. It lacked a little emotion, which suited the story but didn't make me enjoy it as much as I could'...moreGood concept, but I wasn't too fond of the writing. It lacked a little emotion, which suited the story but didn't make me enjoy it as much as I could've. Solid though.(less)
Defiance is an incredible book, with each page like a move in an intricate, high-stakes chess game between the c...moreOriginally published at Winged Reviews
Defiance is an incredible book, with each page like a move in an intricate, high-stakes chess game between the characters. It was beautifully written and full of unexpected twists. Best of all, it has Logan, who in the author CJ Redwine’s own words is like the love-child of Sherlock Holmes and MacGuyver.
The book is set in a dystopian city-state society, where citizens live in walled cities in fear of a Leviathan-like ground monster called The Chosen One. Baalboden, the city where the story starts, is ruled by the sinister, power-hungry Commander Chase who tells Rachel that her father, a courier, hasn’t returned on time and has been declared dead. He hands over her Protectorship to her father’s young apprentice, Logan.
The story was well-plotted, working both character-driven scenes and high action. Even when I thought the story was going the way I expected, Redwine managed to catch me out at every turn. It kept me on my toes the entire time. The words were also beautifully crafted and showed a great range from humorous awkwardness, real heart-wrenching emotion and everything in between.
The book uses an altering point of view narration between Rachel and Logan, and subsequently both main characters were incredibly well-developed. Their motives, priorities and feelings matured with each chapter. Rachel, with each passing loss grew from being stubborn, determined, and impulsive to more thoughtful, grounded, and detached and I came to admire how she coped with the cruel hand fate dealt her. Logan, always logical and well-planned, started to act on his emotions a little more. It was a nice contrast as they took on some of the other’s personality traits–they are an extremely well-matched pair.
The narration style also allowed us to get into the hero’s brain, and boy was it a good one. I wanted to take a blanket and snuggle up inside the head of our resident inventor. Logan grew up as an outcast orphan, his mother sentenced to death for breaking the law at the hands of the Commander. He taught himself how to wield a sword and to invent tech in order to create a better life for himself and there’s nothing I enjoy more than a smart, skilled fighter. Logan also has a strong sense of justice, loyalty and fairness, and when mixed with a certain awkwardness makes him extremely charming. I especially love his logical mind, always thinking through best and worst case scenarios, always having a plan of action, always succeeding in finding a way out of each passingly worse situation. This is definitely someone I would want as my Protector—or, you know, to Claim me.
The Commander is an excellent villain, the perfect mix of ruthless and controlling. He was a genuine threat to Rachel and Logan throughout the book and I always felt nervous during each of their encounters. Sweet Oliver was a great father figure to them both, someone they loved and respected and he was comforting. There are also glimpses of other minor characters that I have a feeling will grow into their own in the second book and I can’t wait.
I highly recommend this book if you’re a fan of anything dystopian, fantasy or if you’re just in need of a new book boyfriend. Best Case Scenario: You love the book. Worst Case Scenario: You dislike the book, but love Logan anyway. It’s a win-win. Trust me, Logan won’t let you down. “If you can’t believe that right now, believe in me.”(less)
3.5 Stars. Great world and really fascinating concept, but I didn't find myself attached to any of the characters. Will read the next one though, what...more3.5 Stars. Great world and really fascinating concept, but I didn't find myself attached to any of the characters. Will read the next one though, what an ending! Full review to come.(less)
Love—in all its forms, it's considered a disease in Delirium's dystopian society. When citizens come of age, th...moreOriginally published at Winged Reviews.
Love—in all its forms, it's considered a disease in Delirium's dystopian society. When citizens come of age, they undergo an operation that cures them of it. Lena is a 15 year old girl several months away from her cure, and wouldn't you know it, she falls in love.
I've read similar books I didn't enjoy, so I was a bit late getting to this. Luckily the lovely people at Hodder sent me Requiem and I was piqued by all the hype. Although I found Delirium somewhat slow, Lauren Oliver's beautiful prose absolutely won me over, and in the end I found it to be an exciting, beautiful read. Amor deliria nervosa, you may have just got me with this one.
Most dystopian main characters are so ready to break free from their conventional lives, that I found Lena's tentativeness refreshing. Initially, it wasn't her, but her best friend Hana who rebels against society. Lena is resistant, and because her mother was taken away for contracting the disease, she prefers to live her life on the straight and narrow to avoid any further humiliation to her family.
As chance would have it, she meets Alex, who appears cured. After cautiously spending some time with him, she eventually realises she may have contracted this disease she has tried so hard to avoid. He shows her that the 'Invalids' who live outside the walls of society are real and reveals this whole world outside of her own.
When they fell in love, Lena's reflections and feelings unfolded so beautifully I found myself clinging to every word. She had a genuine struggle over her new feelings and what she had always believed was right. She wanted to be brave, but she was scared. I absolutely loved her for that. Her characterisation was realistic and heart-breaking.
I was, however, let down by Alex. He was lovely, but altogether almost too perfect. He lacked personality and that spark, that flaw, which makes someone attractive. To me, he was an ideal instead of a love interest. I liked how his presence affected Lena, but I wasn’t sold on their chemistry. I did however, love Hana. She was fun and fierce and I loved their friendship throughout the book.
Where the book also fell flat for me was the pace. While I could sit all day and read Oliver’s lyrical writing, I wanted—no needed—more plot. I loved Hana, Lena and Alex’s camaraderie, but it wasn’t until the last quarter of the book where events ramped up, my heart was racing and I got really caught up in the excitement. I was impressed by Oliver’s ability to write heart-pounding action scenes just as well as the beautiful flowery ones. I found myself fearful and anxious right along with Lena.
I couldn’t wait to pick up the next in the series. Delirium slowly spun a web around me and now I’m officially caught in its world.(less)
Even after the intense ending of Delirium, Lauren Oliver exceeded my expectations with this book...moreOriginally published at Winged Reviews
Even after the intense ending of Delirium, Lauren Oliver exceeded my expectations with this book and more. Word circulated that Pandemonium was a lot better than Delirium and I agree wholeheartedly. Not only is it filled with gritty action and true emotion, it also introduced a boy that I love a whole lot better.
Pandemonium starts a while after Delirium, but also immediately after. It’s told from Lena’s ‘Now’ and ‘Then’ point of views, the ‘Now’ being the current timeline and the ‘Then’ flashing right back to the events after Delirium and Lena’s start in the Wilds. Lena is now part of the resistance in New York City, with a fake identity as an active member of Deliria-Free America (DFA) in order to bring the organisation down from the inside and to keep an eye on its poster boy, Julian Fineman.
I fell in love with Oliver’s writing once again, especially when she describes Lena’s sorrow. The ‘Then’ point of view was so heart-breaking. Lena struggled with survival, fitting in, adjusting to life now that her whole world and beliefs had been cast aside. She was also wracked with guilt, believing that she was responsible for Alex’s death.
As much as I enjoyed the beauty in her sorrow though, it was the ‘Now’ timeline that I raced through the book for. From Lena attending her first DFA meeting and throughout Lena and Alex’s imprisonment and escape, everything that happened was heart-poundingly exciting. When the book built up to the amazing climax, it really was impossible to put down. My heartbeat was racing, my palms were sweaty and I certainly felt like I was up against my own clock. My mind was screaming at Lena, as I wanted her to pull of her greatest feat yet.
I really admired Lena throughout Pandemonium, as she really came full-circle. From someone who was shown and taught throughout the majority of the story thus far, she has turned from being saved to becoming a saviour. I love the parallels between what Alex did for Lena in Delirium and what Lena did for Julian. I respected her so much for sticking to her conviction, for pulling off some amazing escapes, and also (in the immortal words of Demi Lovato) for giving her heart a break. Her emotions were killing her and I was so glad to see her slowly forgiving herself.
My absolute favourite thing about the book though was Lena and Julian’s chemistry and slow acceptance of each other. Julian really surprised me a lot as a character. I genuinely thought that his imprisonment with Lena was some sort of ruse by the DFA to get one up on the resistance (boy was I wrong about whose ruse it turned out to be). His quiet determination and innocence was very attractive. It was great to see his character develop as everything he knew to be true fell apart. He struggled a lot with the idea of Lena, and I thought he showed great bravery accepting everything that was thrown his way. I was really happy when Lena finally gave in to Julian’s love.
Best of all, WHAT AN ENDING. Oliver is again the master of the cliffhanger and has killed me dead. All in all, I loved this book so much for two reasons: a more kick-ass Lena and a much better male protagonist in Julian. Bring on Requiem!(less)
I fear the end of an incredible journey with a series. Partly because I don’t want the world to b...moreOriginally Published at Winged Reviews
I fear the end of an incredible journey with a series. Partly because I don’t want the world to be closed forever, sometimes it’s because I don’t want the fandom to end, but mostly it’s because I don’t want to be let down. I want it to end WELL. So as much as I was looking forward to Requiem after the fantastic Pandemonium, my fears were realised. It didn’t quite live up to my expectations.
Requiem takes place after the shocking end of Pandemonium. It alternates between Lena’s point of view and Hana’s. Lena is back in the Wilds, and struggling with her personal demons (boys, naturally) while the Invalids plan a big stand against the government. On the other hand, Hana’s wedding to Fred, the new mayor of Portland, is fast approaching. While her life seems perfect, she’s starting to question whether her cure is working and discovering things about her future husband-to-be that make her very afraid.
I didn’t dislike the book, quite the contrary. The same things I loved in the first two books were present in spades, like Oliver’s beautiful prose and how she tugs on my heartstrings. Lena’s sorrow and pain are beautifully described and my emotions switched between heartbreak and anger at the Lena, Alex and Julian situation (mainly because I thought it should’ve clearly been Julian). I also thoroughly enjoyed Hana’s return, and I found her life and the mysteries in it very compelling. It was interesting to read from the point of view of someone who is essentially supposed to be devoid of emotions, but struggles how to deal with these feelings bubbling to the surface.
The book definitely suffered from the ‘Deathly Hallows’ syndrome, where too much of the story was unnecessary wandering around the Wilds. I felt awful for the situation that they faced, but raced through these frankly boring parts. The Invalids seemed aimless for most of it, and despite the brief little glimpses where Oliver explores the pain of having loved and lost, it should’ve just fast-forwarded to the story’s culmination in Portland.
I was so annoyed about these slow sections because about 80% through the book, I found myself thinking and writing ‘holy snapple’, a phrase I have never once uttered. The book got GOOD. The rebellion was in full force, everyone had a plan, the tense excitement I felt for much of Pandemonium was back—this was what I was waiting for. Then I started to panic as I realised I only had a measly 50 pages left of the book and so much I still want to see happen and resolve…that never did. There were some fantastic scenes towards the end, my favourite being the one where Lena and Hana finally meet, but what about everything else? What about the characters I have come to know and love? What about the state of the world?
So there you have it, a disappointing ending to what I still feel is a great series—not because of the quality of the book, but because I wanted more. And I’m sure I’m not alone in feeling like this.(less)
This book made me swoon, laugh, cry and quiver in fear and loathing. Exceptional story and world-building, with characters to love. Full review to com...moreThis book made me swoon, laugh, cry and quiver in fear and loathing. Exceptional story and world-building, with characters to love. Full review to come!(less)