This book was surprisingly bleak, and I didn't actually like a single one of the characters. It was interesting in a Slytherin-girl-joins-Magneto's-siThis book was surprisingly bleak, and I didn't actually like a single one of the characters. It was interesting in a Slytherin-girl-joins-Magneto's-side-in-the-human-mutant-conflict way (shh, that totally makes sense), but with no one for me to really root for, I'm not real eager to get my hands on book two....more
I struggled for a long time about how to rate this book and how to write this review, because here's the thing: Even though this book wasn't my favoriI struggled for a long time about how to rate this book and how to write this review, because here's the thing: Even though this book wasn't my favorite, reading this book and seeing things here and there on the internet has made me a huge fan of its author, Corinne Duyvis. And even though this was a "meh" book for me, there are several really awesome things about it that make me absolutely sure I'll be recommending it over and over in the coming years.
Otherbound has two protagonists, Nolan and Amara. Nolan lives in our world, and from the time he was very young, whenever Nolan closes his eyes he finds himself riding along as a passenger in another person's life. It has cost him a normal life (and, when he was younger, his leg, gone in an accident caused by one of his "seizures" when he blinked), and his entire family has suffered. Nolan's unwitting host is Amara, and she inhabits a completely different world, where she's an indentured servant on the run with a cursed deposed princess. For over a decade, Nolan has been a helpless passenger, tagging along with Amara. But then, something changes, and Nolan is able to take control of Amara's body. Suddenly, Amara becomes aware that not only does she have a shitty, dangerous life, she's got a parasitic person tagging along in her mind, and her body isn't completely her own. As Amara's life takes a turn for the even more dangerous, Amara and Nolan must learn how best to work together to ensure that both of them have safe and happy futures.
The first thing I loved about this book is that it had a new and interesting premise. I've always loved the mental connections trope, and this was a completely different spin on it, with characters who share a mental connection across worlds. I haven't read anything like it before, so that was refreshing.
The other thing I loved about this book--and the reason I wholeheartedly recommend it despite my three stars--is that Duyvis made a clear and conscious decision to write protagonists with racial, ethnic, sexual, and body diversity. In a single book, she's got a Mexican-American boy with Nahua heritage who has one leg, and a bisexual dark-skinned girl who had her tongue cut out as a child and communicates via sign language. And none of those characteristics really define or overwhelm the characters--this isn't an "issue" book, this is just a book with characters who happen to be the most diverse protagonists I've ever read in YA. Amara is bisexual? No big deal, just a fact. Nolan speaks a mixture of English and Spanish with his family and misses out on Nahuatl language lessons because of his disability (the "seizures" that land him in Amara's world, not his leg).
I was so prepared to love this book. And yet it took me two and a half months to read. Yikes. I kept setting it aside to pick up other books. It was easy to set aside. Things were happening, but it felt like they were happening in slow-mo. For whatever reason--and I still can't put my finger on any one thing that was wrong--I just couldn't engage with this book. This isn't a particularly huge book, but when I finished, I breathed a sigh of relief that I was finally--finally!--done with the Book that Wouldn't End.
But despite the fact that this book ended up not being my cup of tea, I will champion it because it represents what I dearly hope is the beginning of a wave of diverse, original speculative fiction written by people who are committed to making the fiction landscape one that is representative of our diverse world.
Thanks to Amulet for providing me with an ARC of this book through a Goodreads First Reads giveaway....more
This book surprised me. I don't know why I wasn't expecting much. Possibly it's because I'm skeptical of any book that claims to be similar to two ofThis book surprised me. I don't know why I wasn't expecting much. Possibly it's because I'm skeptical of any book that claims to be similar to two of my favorites (Graceling and Seraphina). But it was quite good! I actually think the comparisons were apt, which is a huge compliment coming from me.
Cécile has always dreamed of traveling the world and singing. But on the eve of her departure for the big city, she's kidnapped and carried deep underground to a subterranean city of trolls, where she's expected to fulfill a prophecy by marrying ("bonding") the trolls' prince, Tristan, and freeing the trolls from the spell that keeps them trapped under the Forsaken Mountain. Soon Cécile becomes enmeshed in troll politics, earning friends and enemies and being forced to decide between freedom and justice, safety and bravery.
I have exactly one bone to pick with this book, and it's this: Jensen shows us a race of people who have become deformed physically and mentally due to inbreeding, especially in the upper classes (who remain untainted by cross-breeding with humans). There are trolls with two heads, conjoined twins, trolls with lopsided faces, trolls with mental issues, and trolls with bleeding disorders. But our love interest, Prince Tristan? Totally perfect. Dreamily handsome, not so much as an ugly birthmark. OF COURSE. I am so sick of reading about perfectly beautiful people who are beautiful by default because they're the protagonists. Gag.
But once I heaved my giant sigh of despair over the state of YA beauty tropes and moved on, the book was grand. I loved how nuanced the politics of Trollus were, and how the solutions to the trolls' problems aren't as simple as they first appear. I love how conflicted Cécile and Tristan both are, and how Cécile doesn't assume Tristan's views automatically once she learns to trust him, but rather does her own independent research to try to figure out what she believes the best course of action is.
I read this page-turner in just a couple days and am super excited to continue on with the series. However, shortly after this book was published, the publisher, Strange Chemistry, announced it was folding effective immediately. I so hope this series is picked up by another publisher! It deserves to be read. (Danielle Jensen has announced that book two, Hidden Huntresswill be released, but not the hows, wheres, and whens.)
I won a copy of this book through a Goodreads First Reads giveaway....more
I have read several reviews that make me think I would not like this book, but people keep telling me I would love it so I guess I might maybe eventuaI have read several reviews that make me think I would not like this book, but people keep telling me I would love it so I guess I might maybe eventually get around to trying it....more
I am pretty picky about my graphic novels, but this one kind of knocked my socks off. So many enjoyable characters! So4.5 stars. This book is so cool.
I am pretty picky about my graphic novels, but this one kind of knocked my socks off. So many enjoyable characters! So many delicious tensions! So much humor! So much danger! New parents (in a loving but relatively new relationship) on the run with their baby! Alien lords with televisions for heads! Assassins with cats who can tell when you're lying (okay, maybe there's just one assassin with one cat)!
Parts of this book were laugh-out-loud funny, parts were gasp-worthy, parts were touching, and parts were quite frankly more disturbing than I signed up for (WTF weirdly graphic, drug-haze-like brothel scene? I never want to see that many illustrations of penises in one 3-page scene again).
Really my only downside (apart from all the penises) is that it was over in just a couple hours. I am so excited for volume 2 I can hardly stand it, but once I breeze through that one in a single sitting, I will be dying waiting for volume 3, since none of the issues have even been released yet. DYING, I TELL YOU.
If you're a graphic novel reader who appreciates some fine, fine science fantasy, you will almost certainly adore this as much as I do....more
I feel almost as bad about my lackluster feelings about this book as I do the fact that I've never made it all the way through a Tolkien novel. It's lI feel almost as bad about my lackluster feelings about this book as I do the fact that I've never made it all the way through a Tolkien novel. It's like a betrayal of nerdkind. But, well. I thought Sabriel had a lot of really great elements, but none of the elements were given the attention they deserved. For example, the magic system? Awesome. But we explore it so very little. None of the characters felt fully formed either, with the possible exception of Mogget--but even there, we're missing too much of his backstory and motivations.
Sorry, nerdkind. I know I'm a disappointment....more
Poison Study is one of my favorite books. Sure, it has its flaws, but it is fun and has a fascinating communism-based society and a cool pre3.5 stars.
Poison Study is one of my favorite books. Sure, it has its flaws, but it is fun and has a fascinating communism-based society and a cool premise and a really attractive love interest... I like it a lot. I was less sold on the subsequent books in the series (and the follow-up series starting with Storm Glass), partly because they take place in the much more generic neighboring land of Sitia, and partly because, well, there's less Valek, less Yelena/Valek, and less of my favorite sidekick duo, Ari and Janco.
So if you'd asked me what I wanted out of the new Study book I would have said: A return to Ixia, more Valek, more Valek/Yelena, and more Ari and Janco.
Well, I certainly got more Valek. In fact, he was a point of view character. However, I was dismayed to find that behind his mysterious and hot assassin/spy veneer, he's actually...really super boring. It was a bit like finding out how to do a magician's tricks, and discovering much easier than you ever expected. The magic is just gone. And Valek and Yelena were separated for most of the book, and the two of them angsting about missing each other was pretty blah.
The plot setup was that some characters were working on a mystery in Sitia, and some characters were working on a mystery in Ixia, and the two mysteries met and merged in the end. So I got some more Ixia, though not as much as I wanted.
Janco was a very prominent character...but mostly sans his partner, Ari, and who even is Janco without Ari? So that was another place where I got some of what I wanted but it wasn't as satisfying as I expected.
Actually, that sums up my experience with this book pretty well: I got some of what I wanted but it wasn't as satisfying as I expected.
Worth the read for fans of the series though.
Thanks to NetGalley and Harlequin for providing me with a review copy....more