I really had no idea what to expect with this book. I'm not typically a mermaid fan (a certain Disney movie excluding) - I've never found a YA mermaid...moreI really had no idea what to expect with this book. I'm not typically a mermaid fan (a certain Disney movie excluding) - I've never found a YA mermaid book that I actually enjoyed. But there was just something about Of Poseidon that drew me in. Maybe it was the gorgeous cover or that it sounded really fun, but I snagged this one for my Kindle and once I started reading, I couldn't stop.
There's something very, very readable about this book. The pacing is really good, and Anna Banks strings you along with just enough mythology and worldbuilding details to keep you intrigued. Also, the banter. OMG the banter. That had to be my favorite part of this book. The way Galen and Emma went back and forth constantly had me snorting a couple times, and it kept the plot clipping along.
I also really enjoyed the worldbuilding. Maybe I'm just not well-versed in YA mermaid lore, but Anna Banks's mythology seemed really original. I liked the concept of the two Syrena kingdoms and all the politics that were interwoven into the story. It added more drama and reminded me of my favorite paranormal (fairy) type of of tension, so I was very game.
Now, I've read some reviews for this book that talk about how bossy and domineering Galen is and they couldn't stomach that. Well, yes, he is bossy. But he's also a prince who's used to getting his way, always. I kinda saw him as that spoiled kid whose parents always said yes and who has gone through life with people giving him everything, and it's only by the grace of God that he's not a terrible person because he so easily could have been. (I actually have a friend like this...) Anyway, so I thought his bossiness was totally in character, and he loses some of it as the story progresses, so that didn't bother me at all. Plus, I figure this is the first book in a series. There has to be more character development for him to go through for the rest of the books - Anna Banks couldn't use it all up in the first book!
As for Emma, I thought she read like a normal teenager. Her voice was really cute, and that was what initially drew me into the story. She's sassy and funny in a self-deprecating way that read as very genuine. I really liked her!
Overall, I was really surprised by how much I liked this book. It follows some typical paranormal romance cliches, but I thought Anna Banks did them really well, so that didn't bother me. (And really, you could put together a formula for just about any subgenre and you'd find that almost every single book follows it.) I can't wait for Of Triton to release, and I'm really glad that I waited for this one so I don't have to agonize for months for the next installment!
And side note: don't these covers look GORGEOUS side-by-side?!
I'm not usually into kissy covers, but I'm such a sucker for underwater shots. Love, love!
It takes a lot for me to get emotional, especially over a book/movie/whatever. But I'm not ashamed to admit that this book made me feel like this:
So many feels, y'all. So many feels.
First, I feel the need to say that the cover does this book absolutely no justice. It's terribly unfortunate, and I'm praying that the paperback will at least get a better, more appropriate one. Because even though this book is a romance, it's so much more than that, and it deserves a cover that doesn't look quite so...well, cheap and "romance novel"-ish, if you catch my drift.
Now that I've got THAT off my chest...
This book reminded me a little bit of Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles with the bad boy lead male character and two protagonists with lots of issues. But whereas Elkeles' books still had a fun quality about them and some more humor, I thought Pushing the Limits really was a straight intense drama. There's no letting up on the pain. I was left reeling after a chapter, only to find that the tension was amped up even MORE in the next chapter. You never freaking get a break!
It was awesome.
As for characters, they were also awesome. Echo is one of the most messed up heroines I've ever read. Seriously. And the issues and traumas she faces are absolutely heartbreaking. At first, she sort of got on my nerves with her incessant whining, but as the story progressed, I couldn't help but feel so sorry for her.
And the scenes with her dad?! OMG! Those were the bits that choked me up the most, especially this scene: (view spoiler)[ I let the anger building inside burst free. "Go tell it to Ashley. She's the only one you've ever cared about."
"You left me to die." I pointed at the door. "Get out of here and out of my life!"
My father lowered his head, nodded, and then left my room. (hide spoiler)] (p. 298)
Talk about intense! I think if I had to describe this book in one word, that's what it would be: intense. Everything about it is full of tension, this huge train wreck that you can't look away from.
As for the romance, it was crazy swoonworthy. I am officially in love with Noah Hutchins. He is the perfect bad boy - not the scary, paranormal kind that want to eat you or thinks about killing you, or the controlling kind that want to tell you how to dress and what you're allowed to do. No, he's fun and flirty and what your Mama would call "lots of trouble." But he's sweet and thoughtful, and oh my GOSH, some of those scenes are hot! And you find yourself shocked that really, nothing all that crazy happened.
But my favorite bits of the romance were the bittersweet ones. And trust me when I tell you that there are LOTS of those, this one being my personal favorite:
No. This wouldn't be goodbye. I'd fill her up and make her realize she'd always be empty without me.
I made Echo mine. My hands claimed her hair, her back. My lips claimed her mouth, her tongue. Her body shook against mine and I tasted salty wetness on her skin. She forced her lips away and I latched tighter to her. "No, baby, no," I whispered into her hair.
She pushed her palms against my chest, then became a blur as she ran past. "I'm sorry." (p. 304)
WHY MUST THIS BOOK BE SO PERFECT?!
Basically, Pushing the Limits made me want to throw in the towel and completely give up writing because I know I'll never write anything this wonderful. I'm torn between jealousy and appreciation for just how well she wrote this book.
Curse you, Katie McGarry!
(But just so we're clear, I'm dying to read the next book. Eeeepppp!!!)
In summary, this is a must read, especially for people who enjoy contemporaries. She addresses really weighty topics, and I was really impressed with how she dealt with them, especially with the controversial ones like teens having sex. (BTW, can I just say that it was refreshing to read a character that was confident enough in herself to say no, that she wasn't ready? *claps*)
Everyone, go buy this book! You will cry...then you'll cry some more. And we can all wait on Dare You To together. :)["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
This was a book that I originally wasn't that excited...moreSimilar Books: Unraveling by Elizabeth Norris, Altered by Jennifer Rush, Stung by Bethany Wiggins
This was a book that I originally wasn't that excited to read - I'm not usually into soft sci-fi (where there's no space or aliens, just something techy happening on Earth), but then I saw that this author lived in Georgia and was going to be at Decatur Book Festival. Plus, she's a 2012 debut and will be featured on Penguin's Breathless Reads Tour. And while this wasn't my favorite read, I thought it was still interesting.
What I liked most about the book was how different it was than other YA. Sure, the issue of immortality isn't something new, but the way that Khoury explores it is. I really liked the issues raised in this book - creating life, morality in science, playing God, etc. In that way, it reminded me of the TV show "Fringe" in that the scientists have to decide what they're willing to sacrifice for their craft and how far is too far.
I also really liked the setting. I don't think I've ever read another YA book set in the Amazon before. So cool! And Khoury does a great job of grounding us in that setting, with all of her vivid descriptions. I don't know if she's ever been there or not, but if she hasn't, she did a crazy amount of research, and it shows.
As for the characters, I never felt truly connected with them. The supporting characters are fairly one-dimensional, besides maybe Aunt Harriet (who was probably my favorite character overall). Pia was annoying at the beginning, but she has a good character arc. You've just got to push through the first half, where she constantly refers to herself as "perfect." (But hey, at least we don't have another YA MC who doesn't see herself as beautiful or talented. lol)
I've read some negative comments about the love interest Eio, based on one comment that he makes at the beginning of book about how Pia needs a man to show her through the jungle. Honestly, I wasn't offended at all. I thought it fit with his character; he's grown up in a culture which has kept its ancient practices and mindsets - he's going to have some ancient ideas, including ones on gender roles. If he had been this super progressive thinker, I wouldn't have believed him as a character. Besides, he goes through development, as well, so it's not like he's this chauvinist the whole book or something.
Also, I've read some criticism about the animal cruelty in the book. I guess I'm not sure why Khoury is being criticized for it when she's obviously showing it in a NEGATIVE manner. She's not telling people to go kill kittens; she uses the death animals as a representation of Pia's desensitization to the scientific world she grows up in. And I thought this was well done. But I guess if you get really offended by the portrayal of mistreatment of animals in general, then this book isn't for you - even if you agree with the message.
Really, I think I didn't enjoy this book more because I just wasn't into the premise. And I didn't find it like "Lost" at all, which is one of my all-time favorite shows. I wasn't engaged in the story, but I think that had more to do with the fact that I didn't connect with the plot or characters. Khoury's writing is solid, and I really did love her setting.
I also appreciated that this is a clean read, aside from a few minor curse words. (view spoiler)[ And there is NO kissing. Like, literally. None. I was sort of shocked. But I didn't feel cheated - I liked it. I found it sort of refreshing that she pulled off a romance that includes no kissing. (hide spoiler)] And I think it had a positive message overall, so I'm definitely an advocate for this book, even if it wasn't my thing.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
I don't think I ever would have read this book if not for the fact that I got a copy of the second book, Sp...moreSimilar Books: The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
I don't think I ever would have read this book if not for the fact that I got a copy of the second book, Spark, on NetGalley. I'd already read some good things about book, including NC's review over at Truly Bookish, which convinced me to read it. While I thought it would be just like every other paranormal featuring characters with special abilities, I was pleasantly surprised to find this book unlike just about any other YA book I've read.
Let's be real: the best part of this book is the Merrick brothers. In my opinion, we could have tossed Becca and any other female protagonist, and I still would have enjoyed the book. Their interactions, dialogue, and relationships were the most dynamic, and I loved them all.
You have the oldest, Michael, who's having to take care of them as their legal guardian even though he's only in his early 20s; Nick, the smart one who keeps everyone calm with all the testosterone flying; Gabriel, the hothead (and my personal favorite); and Chris, our MC and the youngest, who just wants to be needed. And if all those cute boys weren't enough, you have "New Kid" Hunter, who was one of my favorite characters in the book.
Now, don't get me wrong - I liked Becca. She had some tough things to overcome. And she wasn't overly whiny or clingy or anything else annoying. I also thought she had the best overall character arc in the book. But for me, what made the book unique and interesting was the male dynamic - having 90% of your characters be boys and sticking the story close to their family drama was made Storm stand out from every other paranormal book on the shelves.
And while I've read some criticisms on the boys' violence and how some of the issues are handled with Becca's past and the bullying she faces (and the boys' response to it), I found everything fairly realistic. I think it's normal for teens to "slut shame" and treat girls like they're worth less for having slept around, so it just felt real to me. And I think as the series progresses, characters will mature more and learn that being nice is about treating people equally, no matter their past. But if we're talking about realism (which so many people petition for), then the way Becca is treated in this book by everyone (including the Merrick brothers) is very real.
That's all I'll say about that.
I'm really looking forward to book two, Spark, because Gabriel seems to be the main male character. He was my favorite throughout Storm because of his humor (funny guys are the best!), so I can't wait to continue the story but now told from his POV.
This book really surprised me, y'all. It's really good, and I would definitely recommend it!(less)
I've been confused about this book since I heard about it pre-publication. Is it fantasy? Is it dystopian? Is it plain 'ole science fiction? The cover...moreI've been confused about this book since I heard about it pre-publication. Is it fantasy? Is it dystopian? Is it plain 'ole science fiction? The cover makes you think epic fantasy, but the blurb made me think maybe steampunk. Come to find out, it's dystopian.
...at least I think it is.
Besides having a slightly misleading cover and blurb, I found the beginning of this book also really confusing. I didn't feel grounded in the world until maybe halfway through, mostly because I wasn't sure if I was supposed to be envisioning our world but post-apocalyptic or a completely different one. I mean, they fight with swords and wear cloaks, but they also have electricity and tracking devices. The MCs' names are Logan and Rachel. WHAT THE HECK IS THIS GENRE?! I'm saying it's dystopian because I can't really think of another way to describe it that fits.
The story itself was a lot different than what I was expecting. I was ready for high action and this epic quest to find Rachel's dad. But the first third of the book takes place inside Baalboden, where basically all that happens is character development - we get to see Rachel and Logan interact, and learn their history. I wasn't actively engaged in the story until Rachel watches someone (who I won't mention because of spoilers) die and then the Claiming ceremony.
One of the big parts of the story is gender roles, and some people might be pissed about me mentioning this, but it sorta reminded me of Islamic culture in places in Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan - women aren't allowed to walk around by themselves, and they're supposed to dress modestly or else they're "asking for it." Women aren't respected and are used for basically just having kids. Add burqas and prayers six times a day, and this could be a society living under the Taliban. I'm just saying.
But in this society is Rachel, who has been taught how to take care of herself and be independent by her father Jared. Rachel was an okay character for me. She bordered on what I fondly classify some kickbutt characters as "I-kick-butt-so-I-don't-need-a-real-personality." And I say "bordered" because she had moments where I felt like she was more than just her survival skills, but most of the time, I thought her entire personality and character revolved around her being able to hunt and wield big weapons.
Logan, on the other hand, was more interesting. He has a tumultuous past, he likes to invent things, and he's really smart. I liked how he could assess a situation and come up with possible, and the most probable, scenarios.
I know a lot of people criticized him because of a few comments he makes (like when he tells Rachel that she's lucky he's not wringing her neck when they have an argument and then when he makes a comment that one of the guards would probably rape her if they saw her walking around in tight pants). But as for the latter, he says the guard won't hesitate "to take what he thinks she's freely offering" - Logan isn't saying that he thinks she's offering it, he's saying the guard will think she's offering it. That's really different! As for the former, I'm not gonna lie - I wanted to wring her neck after what she pulled. He's speaking in hyperbole, people. You've done it. I've done it. It's how we talk. Give the kid a break, it wasn't a real threat.
Anyway, I liked Logan a lot and I felt like he had much more personality than Rachel. And while she had a clear motivation, he was more complicated and interesting, and I would have preferred reading the entire book from his POV.
With less action than I thought there would be, I thought Redwine did a good job with the romance. There are a lot of sweet moments between Rachel and Logan, and I think my favorite scene was post-Rachel-freaking-out-over-someone's-death and the Claiming ceremony. Both revolved around how these two interacted, and I enjoyed watching them together.
I was a little torn on my feelings for this book, but I think I liked it enough to read the second one. This isn't my favorite genre and I was frustrated by Rachel a lot of the time for acting so childish, but I have the hope there's potential for book 2, Deception. (Also, these covers are GORGEOUS and deserve to be on my shelf.)
I think people who enjoy dystopians and can forgive a character for having less personality if she can kick someone's butt will like this book more than I did. Still, the writing is solid, and C.J. seems like a really cool person, so I'm saying it's a good debut.(less)
I'm a huge mythology fan, and I think Norse might be one of my favorites (tied with Greek and Indian). So I was REALLY excited to get an ARC of Valkyrie Rising. I loved the hint of Norse myths that the blurb promised and the idea that the book was set in Norway. (I love a good foreign setting!) And while this was a solid debut, I found myself slightly disappointed.
Let me explain.
When I read a book based on mythology, I tend to want something more akin to urban fantasy - with really strong worldbuilding and appearances by gods and other creatures. I want the story to be so steeped in mythology that I lose myself in the world. A book that comes to mind is Tiger's Curse by Colleen Houck - she utilizes so many different types of Indian mythology to craft her world. Starling by Lesley Livingston is another example.
But Ingrid Paulson chose a different path: to take one sliver of the mythology and craft her world from that, as opposed to the entirety. She focuses exclusively on Valkyries and their powers. It reminded me of Fury by Elizabeth Miles, which focused only on the Furies of Greek mythology. And for me, I tend to be a little unsatisfied with so little myth.
So my main complaint with the book has less to do with Ms. Paulson's writing abilities or her ability to create an interesting story and more with personal preference.
Because this book is written very well! The pacing is great, the characterizations are interesting, and the love interest is swoonworthy. This is also very much of a "girl power" book, and I think lots of readers will like that. But at the end of the day, it feels very much like a paranormal book instead of this epic fantasy that I was hoping it would be.
Still, I think this is a strong debut. I loved the setting! And I think Ellie is a smart protagonist that makes a lot of mature decisions that readers will appreciate, I feel. For one, she's not totally enamored by the local boy who mysteriously falls for her basically at first glance. She also values her own independence more than power. I think Ellie will resonate with a lot of readers who are sick of the "too-stupid-to-live heroines" that many characters are accused of being.
I also liked Tuck, the love interest, especially at the beginning. He's really funny and charming, and I might have swooned a little over him in the first 50 pages. But as the story progressed, I found him less interesting as he becomes less significant to the plot. I understood that this was Ellie's story and so she was the main focus, but I tend to like love interests that have their own character arcs and are integral to the story.
I'm looking forward to more books by Ms. Paulson in the future. I think she's a really good writer! And while the worldbuilding in this story wasn't my cup of tea, I think a lot of people will enjoy the sprinkling of mythology in a story that's very much of a coming-of-age, coming-into-her own kind of book.(less)
Destiny's Fire was for me what Jennifer L. Armentrout's books are for a lot o...moreSimilar Books: Cinder by Marissa Meyer, Half-Blood by Jennifer Armentrout
Destiny's Fire was for me what Jennifer L. Armentrout's books are for a lot of other people, I think - a quick, fun, fast-paced guilty pleasure with great worldbuilding and plenty of steamy romance. There were a lot of elements in this book that I don't normally like - a love triangle, [semi] insta-love, and a heroine that's totally unrealistic. But I've got to say that everything came together into a story that I devoured. This book is like candy - I just couldn't stop eating it!
I'm a little confused as to the genre of this book. It reminded of Marissa Meyer's Cinder in that it's futuristic, but it's also has a lot of steampunk elements. But technically, steampunk is supposed to be set in the past. Anyway, it feels like a steampunk novel, though a bit more modern. Whatever it is, though, I liked it!
The worldbuilding was really my favorite part of the story. This is a world I want to live in! It's SO COOL! It's kind of like if everyone now decided they were fans of steampunk and converted all our power to steam and all of our clothes became Victorian-inspired. But there's still a modern sensibility to it that made it more easy to relate to and, therefore, a good choice for those a little wary about steampunk, IMHO.
But I've got to say that reading this book made me want to walk around wearing clothes like these...
Wolfe took a very interesting approach to the steampunk elements - she rationalized them as having been influenced by one of the shape-shifter races called the Narcos. Their fire ability is what creates the steam that powers everything. It's never said explicitly, but it's implied that the other race of shape-shifters, called the Shythe, have the power of electricity. But they aren't as dominant politically, so their power isn't what's used.
Anyway, enough with the worldbuilding, because really, I could talk about that the entire review - the levibikes (I WANT ONE!), the band guys that wear top hats (wouldn't mind one of those, either...), the tension between the two shape-shifting races. It was all really interesting!
But I liked the story, too. It focuses on Dez, who's about to go through the "change," which happens to all the shape-shifters at the age of 17, allowing them to fully shift into their other form. But Dez has a secret - she's not really a Shythe; she's half Narco, and the government says she's supposed to be dead. There was some good political intrigue there!
Honestly, though, this story relies heavily on the romance, as per usual in YA. You've got Jace, Dez's best friend, who has secretly loved her for years. I couldn't really figure out how Dez didn't know he was crazy about her. It was really obvious.
Then there's Reese, the Narco who's a lot more like Dez than she wants to admit. Reese was a little troublesome for me. He was a really big jerk at the beginning, and I have a rough time liking a hero that starts off mean and becomes nice but only to the heroine. You've got to give me a REALLY good reason why he was like that, and you've got to let me get to know him REALLY well before I'm going to like him. And there just wasn't enough about Reese that made me care about him.
Thus, I was Team Jace all the way. I'm a sucker for the best-friend-turned-lover, so really, I was on his side even before Dez met Reese. And I liked that even though you think he's crazy about midway through the book, he's inevitably vindicated. (I felt vindicated by association.)
The romance is pretty typical for a YA book - lots of kissing and hotness, but little substance to really hold on to. It was all very cotton candy fluffy, but I accepted it that way. I just couldn't get past the really cool wing-parachutes. I mean, really, I WANT ONE!
This is a perfect read between tough books. It appeals to the escapist in all of us. It has the same edgy sort of feel as Jennifer Armentrout's books but with a much more well-thought out world and characters that are more engaging.(less)
This is my second try at hoping to find a book similar to "Downton Abbey" (the first being Summerset Abbey by T.J. Brown). And while it doesn't have t...moreThis is my second try at hoping to find a book similar to "Downton Abbey" (the first being Summerset Abbey by T.J. Brown). And while it doesn't have the same magic as the show, it's still a solid debut.
I'm a huge historical fiction fan. I especially love anything set around 1900, so I was really excited to get my hands on a copy of this book. There are definitely parts of it that have been done before, but I think it was fresh enough to feel different.
First, we're thrown into the classic predicament where the gentry are low in funds. In hopes of fixing this problem, the eldest daughter is shoved into the arms of any single man who has some money. There's also the semi-cliche plot with a rich girl being in love with a poor servant. However, as I'm fond of both plotlines, I didn't really have a problem with them.
What I haven't seen before, and something this book does, is add in the mystery of who could be writing the newspaper articles that mock the Darlington family. That actually reminded me somewhat of Anna Godbersen's Luxe series (as well as Jillian Larkin's Flappers series), where you have the scandalous articles about the lives of rich people, as written by someone who's "in the know." Most of the plot revolves around this part of the story.
I also liked that the book was told from so many perspectives. That gives the reader more information and a more thorough picture of these people's lives. Also, I always appreciate a YA that's told in third person, as it seems like so many of them are in first.
Another part of the novel that I appreciated was its focus more on plot and less on characters. I've actually said this about Lesley Livingston's books too, but I sometimes like for a book to be less bogged down by character development and just clip along focusing on the plot and conflict. I think Abby Grahame did a good job of telling a story and keeping us focused more so on the mystery and the family as a whole, as opposed to individual characters.
I'm pretty positive this is a standalone novel, and I think it's a good start for Abby Grahame! I'll be interested to see where she goes from here.(less)
I put off reading this book for quite a while because (1) I thought I was over contemps and (2) I had high expectations for this book's greatness and was afraid I'd be disappointed. I now have no idea why I was so worried - this book was everything I was hoping it'd be and SO. MUCH. MORE.
If I had to sum up my feelings for this book, I'd say I'm like...
There are basically 3 elements that will make me go crazy and fangirl over a book. I like to call them the "3 F's," and this book has them all. It's funny, fluffy, and foreign.
First and foremost, this book is hilarious. I loved Julia as a narrator. People go around talking about this nebulous concept of "voice" and how it's so important for an author to have. Sometimes, it's hard to tell if an author has a good one or not, whether it's distinctive. But I'm just gonna say this: Lauren Morrill has a great voice! And it's absolutely perfect for this genre.
Something that kept me from loving Anna & the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins was the fact that I didn't much care for Anna. I didn't connect with her or her voice. But there's just so much to love about Julia. She's quirky and nerdy and basically 100% adorable.
And can I just say that this book is FULL of awkward.
But in a totally wonderful way. Julia literally football tackles someone in the middle of the Tate Museum. I had to re-read that passage to double-check that I hadn't made that up. Julia just gets herself into so many incredibly awkward, hilarious circumstances that you can't help but root for her.
Now. Let's talk about one of the best parts of the book. Jason Erm...I mean, the romance.
The cuteness, it killed me. Julia and Jason are just SO FREAKIN' CUTE TOGETHER! I loved their banter and how perfectly imperfect Jason is. Also, he's a ginger, which was totally unexpected and basically made me love him. I mean, how many redhead heroes are there in YA? Not many. And the fact that he's SO immature could have been off-putting, but I couldn't stop laughing at his antics. He reminded me of the funny guys in high school that you always liked but never dated because you were too busy crushing on the football star or the one in a band.
Thank you, Lauren Morrill, for helping score a point for the funny guy!
I also really liked that the romance felt very real and honest. Jason doesn't always say the right thing, and Julia has to lose a lot of her naivety about relationships before she can be happy. And while I was afraid going into the book that the romance would feel rushed because the book takes place over only 1 week, it never did. There's no dropping of the l-word, which was great, and really, Julia and Jason were just great together.
2012 has really been a year of contemps for me, and this is definitely one of my favorites. It might very well be my favorite book of the year period, tied with Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard.
When I saw the blurb for this book, I knew I had to read it. And I've got to say that it definitely didn't disappoint! This is an action-packed debut...moreWhen I saw the blurb for this book, I knew I had to read it. And I've got to say that it definitely didn't disappoint! This is an action-packed debut that's really different than most of the YA sci-fi books out there. I literally read it in one day; I just couldn't get enough.
First, let's talk about the genre. Technically, this is a sci-fi novel. It's not dystopian, even though this is a new world that has been formed after the destruction of a fourth world war. There's a much more positive outlook on government here; I mean, one of the main characters is the leader of an entire empire, so that definitely makes it not dystopian. There are also people that live on the moon, which pushes it more toward the sci-fi category.
All that being said, however, I've got to say that it has a steampunk feel to it, mostly because there are a lot of throwbacks to an older culture. Cinder lives in New Beijing, so there are lots of Chinese names and some mentions of Asian culture like chopsticks and pagodas. But I think what made it feel steampunk-ish was the robot and mechanical part of the story. Cinder is a cyborg, part human and part machine. There are lots of mentions of oil and the inner-workings of machines, and I think that's what reminded me of steampunk. Sure, it's not steam and clockwork, but it still has that vibe.
Although there definitely aren't many other YA books like this one, I've got to say that this book isn't totally original. I've got to say that I was CONSTANTLY reminded of "Star Wars" as I was reading. Here's a convenient little list of the similarities I noticed:
1. The androids (i.e. "droids") that do all the dirty work for people and have personalities and talk 2. The special [an]droid that holds a secret message 3. The lunars/jedi that can wield magic/the force to convince people to do things or influence the minds of weak people 4. The hovercrafts that are used instead of cars 5. The interplanetary relationships and politics 6. Cinder/Anakin being a famed mechanic, even though she/he is still underage and doesn't have much experience 7. Cinder's personality's uncanny resemblance to that of Princess Leah's
Now, don't get me wrong. These similarities didn't really trip me up. I'm a "Star Wars" fan, so I just thought it was kind of interesting. By the time that I'd made it halfway through the book, it became a game - how many more connections could I find? It was kind of like when I read anything by Rick Riordan and try to figure out who the characters are from myth before he tells me.
Obviously, there were also similarities to Cinderella, as that's what the story is loosely based off of. It seemed a little weird to me at first that Meyer would set the story in China when Cinderella was European. However, I then learned that scholars believe the first version of the Cinderella story actually came from China, before it traveled to other parts of the world. Fascinating, right?
I actually REALLY liked the fact that the story took place in China. However, I've got to say that there wasn't really that much Chinese flavor to it. I mean, there were a few mentions here and there, but the Chinese characters didn't feel all that...Chinese. Granted, this is WAY in the future and globalization has been taking place, so maybe the country would have lost some of its flair. But not all. Pretty much all of the major characters are Chinese (with the exception of Cinder), including Prince Kai, yet they acted pretty much like a normal American would act...and that I didn't really like.
Speaking of Prince Kai, I liked him. But I didn't love him. We got some scenes from his POV, but I still feel like I don't know him. Of course, I never much liked the prince from the original Cinderella, so I guess that fits. I did like that he was nice, though. (Another point for the nice guys!) I also liked his flirtiness with Cinder. But I just didn't believe their romance. Why does he like her? We never really find out.
Now, all those negative comments aside, I REALLY liked this book. You're probably wondering why I gave this book such a high rating when all I've said are negative comments, but really, this story was really interesting! I was hooked on sheer concept alone. I was fascinated by this world of cyborgs and androids, of a new plague that's ravishing the world, of a queen from the moon that wants to become the new empress of the Eastern Commonwealth, and of the little cyborg girl who just wants to escape.
I figured the big twist about Cinder's identity on like page 30, but I didn't feel it detracted from my enjoyment. I thought the pacing of this novel was great - I was never bored! The worldbuilding was great, and I can't WAIT to read the sequel! Seriously, that ending was awesome.
The ending to this story isn't the happily ever after we're accustomed to with Cinderella. And while the next book is a continuation of Cinder's story, it's also based on Little Red Riding Hood. I'm curious to see how she mixes the previous bits of Cinderella story with this new one. And I also can't wait to see more of the dynamic between Cinder and Kai. While I like her character a lot, I still want to learn more about Kai before I decide whether I'm truly invested in him or not.
But now I have to wait A YEAR before the next one comes out. I suppose I'll just have to content myself with more 2012 debuts...(less)
I'm a sucker for a time travel book, especially one where the MC goes super far back in time, preferably to a country as fun as Italy. So I had pretty high expectations for this book. And thankfully, they were all warranted - because this book is ADORABLE!
First and foremost, I'd like to say thank you, Rachel Harris, for writing a character who takes one for the team at the end and does what's right instead of necessarily what she'd want. I was really pleased with Cat's choices throughout the book, especially in terms of her romance.
But I'm getting ahead of myself. First and foremost, this book is just fun. It's cute and funny and total brain candy. Cat is a good narrator, and she made me snort a couple times. And while her attitude at the beginning was a little irritating, it was clear that she was going to change throughout the book. There's definitely some character development here!
I also really loved the setting. Any time a book is set in another country, I sort of perk. There have been a lot of books set in Italy recently, though, so it was possible that this one could have gotten a little lost. But I thought Rachel Harris did a good job of describing the time period and all the Italian-ness. You definitely feel like you've been transported to Renaissance Florence right along with Cat.
And the romance. In a word, it was precious. I'm always a little wary of a romance that takes place over such a short time. But I felt like based on the time period and the story, it made sense. And there was no dropping of "I love you" or anything, so no complaints from me. Also, Lorenzo was really cute. I love a flirty love interest that's also nice, if a tiny bit cocky.
The end. Okay. I'll be honest: I couldn't stop smiling. It was so perfectly fitting. And the last page? Ahh! I'm dying for the next book!(less)
Honestly, I'm not really sure how to review this book. It wasn't what I was expecting at all. And while it started off a little bizarre for me and I had a difficult time getting into it, by the end, I was racing through the pages and had to know what happened.
First, let me say that I'm a little confused by this new subgenre of "dystopian steampunk," like Dearly, Departed by Lia Habel. Because the world in Bethany Griffin's novel has been ravaged by plague, it has that desolate, post-apocalyptic feel of a dystopian. Also, it doesn't have very strong ties to the past such as books like Clockwork Angel, by Cassie Clare. For this reason, I had a difficult time getting a feel for this world that we're thrown into.
Also, this book is INCREDIBLY dark. You're probably rolling your eyes right now, thinking, "Well, of course it is! It's based on an Edgar Allan Poe short story!" And that's true, but maybe I wasn't ready for the bleakness of Masque since I'd read Nevermore, by Kelly Creagh, which is fairly upbeat for such dark subject matter.
Because this book is DARK! I mean, we're talking, bodies strewn all over the streets. Babies getting thrown onto carts that carry the dead. Drugs. A prince who threatens to feed his nephew to crocodiles. Madness.
Take this quote, for example:
"I knew a boy who lived with the contagion...Everyone waited for him to die, but he didn't even seem sick, certainly wasn't bedridden. Instead people who came in contact with him died. At first it was deemed coincidence. When his own mother came down with the contagion, he hung himself." (p.172)
Poe would be proud.
But in the midst of this bizarre world, you've got Araby. It takes us quite a while for us to really get to know her. I had a difficult time sympathizing with her at first, because she's so bent on numbing herself to all emotions. She takes drugs so she doesn't have to deal with the guilt of her brother's death or interact with her parents, who are just as jacked up as she is.
Even at the end of the book, I didn't feel that connected to Araby. Although she had a clear character motivation and I could understand why she did what she did, there was just no spark of life in her that propelled me to care about her.
Most of the other characters were flat, as well. You've got Will, the mysterious boy who works at the Debauchery Club but who also takes care of his little brother and sister because their parents are dead. And then there's Elliott, the brother of Araby's best friend who also happens to be the nephew of Prince Prospero. We're never really sure if Elliott is crazy or not. Sometimes, he seems it, sometimes not. Honestly, though I got the feeling we were supposed to be disturbed by Elliott, I felt the most connection to him. He seemed the most real out of everyone.
But what this book lacks in character development, it makes up for in beauty of language and overall plot. Griffin's real strength is in her ability to craft language. I was often given flashbacks to reading Daughter of Smoke & Bone, by Laini Taylor (and that's high praise!). The simple, subdued way Griffin expressed Araby's emotions was beautiful, and I was often struck by a particularly poignant passage that was about nothing more than eating breakfast or walking down the street.
I also thought the plotting and pacing were really well done. The book slowly builds to a powerful climax that left me at the end of the story wanting more. The last chapter in particular was really great, and it made me want book 2 like, yesterday.
Overall, this is a more literary book than I was expecting. It's got a great voice that haunted me even after I'd finished it. Although the characters were a little lacking, I was intrigued enough by the worldbuilding and the beautiful prose to enjoy it, and I look forward to book 2!(less)
I had really high hopes for this book; it sounded INCREDIBLE! So when I opened up the front cover of the ARC and saw a letter from the editor talking...moreI had really high hopes for this book; it sounded INCREDIBLE! So when I opened up the front cover of the ARC and saw a letter from the editor talking about how much she loved this MS when she received it, etc. etc., I was really excited. I was thinking, "This is going to be my favorite historical read of the year!" Unfortunately, it wasn't as good as I was expecting; even still, it was readable, and I think a lot of other people will enjoy it.
For me, my main complaint lie in the fact that there just wasn't anything fresh or special about it. The bit about her being engaged but not interested in the fiance, meeting the mysterious other boy who's an artist, the murderer who only targets young women - it all felt like it's been done a lot. I kept wanting Cass to do something I didn't expect, but she was just predictable. It was easy for the author to make her not like the fiance, it was easy for the murderer to target "fallen" women, and it was easy to have Cass like Falco's wild side. I don't know, I just wanted something new and exciting.
I also didn't care for Falco at all. He's a terrible influence on Cass! Forget his morals. Whatever. He peer pressures her CONSTANTLY. I wanted her to stand up to him and be like, "No, I'm NOT going to do that. You can tease me about being a 'bird in a gilded cage' all day, but I'm not going with you." But she doesn't. She caves to him every time. This progressed the story, but I thought maybe Fiona Paul could have written it differently? I don't know. I just thought Cass was a bit of a pushover when it came to Falco, who was supposed to be this seductive bad boy but who really just sorta irked me. And she kept talking about his hair, how it curved around his face and stuff, and all I could think of was like a bob...which would be super unfortunate.
The mystery wasn't very mysterious. I knew who the murderer was before halfway through. I feel like if your book is going to revolve around a mystery, then it better be good! I certainly could never write a mystery, so Fiona Paul did a lot better than I could have. But I guess I wanted it to be more twisty and more confusing, and less about Cass realizing just what sex is and insinuating that Falco might be into necrophilia.
And while I'm on the subject of sex, can I just say something? There were some really erotic moments in this book that I thought were a little inappropriate for YA. Cass and Falco go visit basically the red light district of Venice, and there are lots of descriptions of prostitutes, in a bit of detail. It would be totally fine for adult, but I kept wondering if it would be too much for a 15 year old. Especially when it was ALMOST glorified. Cass sees these girls as more free than she is, like their promiscuity has somehow liberated them.
Don't even get me started on how wrong that is. I have too much of a background working with people who have been caught in the sex slave trade and prostitution for me to NOT get angry about this. So I'm just going to stop here about that. But I also didn't like that the author used sexual language when she talked about Falco and the dead bodies - it was almost like he was a necrophiliac, when he wasn't. I don't know - the whole sex thing in this book was just really weird for me.
But with these flaws, the book is still enjoyable. I really liked all the historical details. The setting is rich. I liked that the fiance wasn't a terrible person, despite Cass's prejudices against him. I also really liked the decisions that Cass made at the end of the book - very mature! I was pleasantly surprised.
I also think that other people won't have the same problems that I did with it. Maybe I've just read too many historical novels and I'm jaded or something. I really wish I had enjoyed the story better, as the setting is wonderful and there was a lot of potential - I mean, the Renaissance, a serial killer, rich girl meets starving artist! It could have been awesome; but it was just okay for me.(less)
I was a little wary going into this book because I'm not a zombie fan. Honestly, they freak me out. A lot. But I'm a huge steampunk fan, so I thought...moreI was a little wary going into this book because I'm not a zombie fan. Honestly, they freak me out. A lot. But I'm a huge steampunk fan, so I thought I'd try it out. And I'm really glad I did, because this a great debut!
First, I'd like to mention pacing. This book flies! There's hardly any downtime. It starts off strong and keeps going throughout the book so you're never bored. There's either a zombie attack or great tension between characters, and there's a great mystery to unravel throughout that keeps you constantly guessing. You want to know who this mysterious necromancer is and where Eleanor's brother is and how everything all fits together.
I also really liked the romance in this book. It's very slow, which was oh-so-refreshing. And I liked Daniel a lot. He's got an interesting backstory, and he's definitely someone you want to see pop up in scenes. Really, the entire Spirit-Hunter gang was great! I loved that they all had such different backgrounds. You've got a Creole gentleman from New Orleans, an inventor with a questionable past from Chicago, and a Chinese girl who dresses like a boy for her own safety. Very cool!
Too bad those hadn't been the main characters, though. They seemed a teensy bit like afterthoughts, diversity for the sake of diversity. I would have preferred maybe Joseph to be the main male character.
Eleanor was a good protagonist, though. She's really caught between her social duty and what she wants to do to protect her brother. There's definitely a lot of tension that motivates her, and it's interesting to watch her come into her own. I just wish that her character arc would have been a little less predictable.
And that was really the only issue I had with the book - the cliche portrayal of the "oppressive" Victorian society and the MC who wants to break out of the mold and a domineering mother who wants to marry off said MC to a rich guy because the family is about to be ruined. I feel like this plot shows up in a LOT of period novels that take place during this time, and I'm sorta tired of it. I also have a hard time believing that a girl who grew up in such a rigid environment would be all about becoming some kind of liberated spirit. I'm not all for corsets, but if that's all you know, wouldn't you be wary of changing to something different?
BUT I thought that Susan Dennard did a much better job with this type of plot than a lot of other books I've read. Eleanor isn't obnoxious to her mother, even though that mother is controlling. She also has moments where she questions her own thoughts about wanting to break out of the proper, ladylike mold. I guess I just wish there had been more hesitancy on her part. Of course, the only books I've ever read that had a Victorian setting which I thought was expertly done are The Infernal Devices by Cassandra Clare - nobody else has come close to capturing that time period, including the gender dynamics, quite like she did.
Even so, this is definitely a book to pick up if you like steampunk, zombies, or both. For those who are squeamish of the undead, have no fear! It's not scary or so gross that you can't read it. There are also lots of wonderful inventions for those of us who enjoy steampunkery of all kinds. And definitely a great mystery that will have you in a hurry to finish the pages!(less)
I'm finding it really difficult to describe my feelings for this book. It was...different than I was expecting. But at the end of the day, it just was...moreI'm finding it really difficult to describe my feelings for this book. It was...different than I was expecting. But at the end of the day, it just wasn't the right book for me.
For one, I feel like the blurb and cover of this book are misleading. It's not a romance. Yeah, there's some romance in it, but that's not the focus. I also wouldn't consider Travis "an irresistible and eminently lovable hero," as I had a difficult time sympathizing with him. While I thought what he did in Afghanistan was commendable, he's not really an honorable person, and he really sort of irked me.
The title of this book should be reworked so it's called Something Like Normal...If You're White Trash. Really, I felt like this book just highlighted some of the worst parts of life. Also, not a single person in the book comes from a good family or has any real morals or anything. I'm not saying this book is going to ruin the minds of America's youth or anything, but I guess I just thought the story was horribly depressing - there's all this talk about terrible things in life, but there's no offering of hope. Not anything. If you're going to dwell on bad things, give us a little sliver of hope. Because no matter how bad your situation in life is, there's ALWAYS hope. But there's none in this book.
My lack of sympathy for any of the characters and the subject matter in general really just got me down, I guess, and that's why I couldn't handle this book. I wanted it to be more like Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry, which features characters who've gone through terrible things but ultimately find hope and the promise of a future. And while I guess the letter at the end of this book was supposed to offer that little bit of happy, I wasn't buying it.
I also feel like it's important to mention how different the writing style is here. The pacing of this book FLIES. It's a really short, fast read - I read it in less than 48 hours, and I didn't even like it. And maybe the shortness also added to my dislike, because I didn't feel like it had a complete story arc. I don't feel like Travis learned much - or changed much. And the only person I ever felt sorry for as his mother.
I wanted to love this book, I really did. And I know it's been popular with other reviewers. But maybe Trish Doller and I just have too different of worldviews for me to enjoy her story. There were lots of things in this story that made me uneasy, and I didn't care for how she handled a lot of the material. But if you're into dark contemporaries, male protagonists, and "edgy" plots, then maybe this is for you. I'd be hesitant to recommend it to teens, but I think more mature readers can decide for themselves if this is the type of story they like.(less)
I'm not big into mysteries. But there was just something about this blurb that made me want to read this book. Maybe it was the mention of a protagonist who reads manga, or maybe it was the fact that 2/3 of the book takes place in Japan - I don't know, but I had to read this book when I saw the blurb last year. And thankfully, I wasn't disappointed.
This is one of my first ventures into YA mystery territory, and now I'm thinking I might need to give more mystery books a chance. I really enjoyed watching this story unfold, watching Violet really come into her own as she unraveled the mystery of the stolen art. The mystery aspect of this book reminded me a little of the movie "Oceans 11" for some reason...not sure why, but that's okay because I loved that movie!
But really, my favorite part of the book was the fact that it took place in Japan. As I've said before, I love it when books are set in foreign countries. It just makes the story come alive for me. I don't know a lot about Japan or Japanese culture, and I felt like this book does a good job of explaining a lot of cultural customs and history of the region.
I also liked that there is basically zero romance in this book. It maybe makes an appearance on like 5 pages total. It was nice to have a book that was exciting and readable that didn't have anything to do with romance. Hard to find those - at least for me, who loves a good romance! :)
My only complaint was that I sometimes felt the book dragged a little. There were a few bits in the middle that were a little slow. Also, I figured out who the bad guy was early on, so I wish it had been more difficult to figure out. Besides that, though, this was a great read! I definitely recommend it to anyone looking for a good 2012 debut, a fun mystery, or a book set in a different country.(less)
I *really* wanted to love this novel. One, because it has a rockin' cover. Two, because Leigh Bardugo is pretty awesome on Twitter and generally seems like a cool person. And three, because there really is nothing better than a great epic fantasy.
But sadly, this one fell a a little flat for me.
Let me address this right out of the gate: yes, the Darkling is awesome. No really, he's awesome. And not just because he's sexy - although he is that, as well. But because he's probably the best villain I've ever read in a YA book, like ever. Why? Because you like him.
If I could sum up my feelings for him, it would be a mixture of
Honestly, I could write this entire review on my love for the Darkling as a character: how he didn't sit well with me at the beginning, how I was suspicious of all his brooding ways (and the fact that his name is the freaking "Darkling," for heaven's sake) but how he sorta won me over. Even how I was rooting for him to do something nice all the way until the end. THIS is a character - complicated, interesting, seductive. He is basically everything that is wonderful wrapped up into a little package of awesome.
But unfortunately, he couldn't carry the novel.
I wish the entire book could have been told from his perspective because I had zero connection to Alina. I found her too naive at the beginning, and her whining irked me. I also just wanted her to grow a pair and actually DO something, stand up to her enemies. But she just sort of muddles through, being angry at the Darkling for manipulating her and then worrying about Mal when she SHOULD have been plotting an escape.
And even though Bardugo managed to surprise everyone with some twists and turns, I found the book to still have a lot of YA cliches, including one of my absolute least favorites: the "chosen one" plot.
Oh, lord. If I have to read one more book in which the MC is going to somehow save the world because she was born to do so, I'm gonna stop reading fantasy. Why must every book be this way? Why can't protagonists just be normal people in extraordinary circumstances?
Alina also goes through what I fondly call "girl-learns-how-to-kick-butt training" (i.e. that awkward middle part of a novel where the Chosen One protagonist must come into her own and be taught how to fight so that she may save the world in book 3). I really hate this plot device. It's like Star Wars Episode II, where Luke spends a ridiculous amount of time with Yoda and we all fell asleep until he meets pseudo-Vader in that dream place and cuts his head off.
And while I appreciated the throwbacks to Russian folklore and history, I found the influences a little too strong. The story almost read like historical fantasy, like she put these characters into actual Russia. The language is the same, the religion is the same, the culture is fundamentally the same. Even the politics are similar! I guess it just felt sort of like plagiarism of actual history. Why not just make your story alternate history/historical fantasy if you're going to draw upon SO much influence?
In a nutshell, I was disappointed by this book. I wanted it to be a sweeping epic that would blow me out of the water and topple Sarah J. Maass's Throne of Glass as my current favorite high fantasy. Unfortunately, it did not. BUT Bardugo still managed to write the bestest villain ever, and I still want to read book 2. I'm just *really* hoping that the Darkling gets lots and lots of face-time, we get to know Mal better so that I can actually fall for him, and Alina musters up some guts.
Also, is anyone else wondering what the heck the Darkling's REAL name is?! I feel as if I must find out.(less)
I went into this book thinking it was going to be another take on the Hades/Persephone story, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that it's actuall...moreI went into this book thinking it was going to be another take on the Hades/Persephone story, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that it's actually not. Instead, it's a fresh take on world mythology with a unique spin that had me captivated from the beginning.
If anything, this book is inspired by the Orpheus myth, which can be found in mythology around the world, not just Greek. But Ashton has created her own sort of mythology, with an Underworld that has nothing to do with religion and more with supernatural creatures that are more scientific than magical. Cole is an Everling, an immortal creature that feeds on the energy of humans who give themselves up to the numbing of all emotions that he offers. We're constantly hearing about this mysterious figure called "the queen" and that she demands sacrifices. We also know that Cole isn't too happy with the current political situation in the Everneath. But any other information is pulled out of Ashton slowly.
Then we get this tie in to Egyptian myth at the end that really made me a fangirl. Osiris and Isis? LOVE! But I digress...
Besides the incredible worldbuilding and originality of her mythology, I also really liked the fact that this book is told in a dual narrative with two different times - before Nikki went to the Everneath and after. It reminded me a lot of Daughter of Smoke and Bone in that way, that half the book is a flashback. While I can understand that some people might not like it, I loved it!
The pacing is also really great. You're never bored with this book. Ashton maintains a high level of tension throughout the story, and it had me up late trying to keep my eyes open to read the next chapter.
Yet while the characters were interesting, I never felt all that connected to them. Nikki is relatively numb for the entirety of the story, so she was a pretty vanilla MC. Jack was the typical strong hero, though I liked that he had made some mistakes in the past. I also liked that he was the quarterback of the football team - nice to see a jock not the bad guy, for once. But for me, Cole was the most interesting character. Granted, he's sort of the villain, but I wanted to learn more about him and his world. I'm hoping that we'll learn more about him in the next book.
I also wasn't a huge fan of the presentation of the theme of the novel, which for me, was choosing pain over numbness. Nikki's main conflict is trying to decide whether she should stick with Cole and forget about all her suffering or be with Jack, who makes her feel a lot, both good and bad. Cole is often described as a "drug," which makes her feel good. This wasn't the bit that I didn't like. What I didn't like was the obvious, easy choice. We all know what she should and will choose eventually. I would have liked a bit more complication there, at least in book one.
Also, when Nikki has to decide whether she's going to face eternal punishment for being with Cole originally, go with Cole and be his queen, or finish out her six months on Earth and try to scramble for some solution, I just wanted her to have the balls to accept her horrible fate and do the right thing - eternal punishment is what you've earned, so sorry, girlfriend. I was a teensy bit disappointed to find the love-conquers-all plotline that reminded me a little too much of Carrier of the Mark, by Leigh Fallon. For once, I would like someone to get royally screwed because they messed up. Where are the repercussions? Love doesn't conquer all in real life. Let's get some reality up in here.
But that's not the point of a paranormal romance, is it? lol
As a paranormal romance, Everneath is really engaging, and I loved the creative worldbuilding. It reminded me a lot of the way Colleen Houck integrates so many different types of folklore and myth into her books to create something totally new. I also liked that this isn't a lust-driven romance, as so many YA books are. It wasn't I-hate-you-let's-make-out, which was incredibly refreshing.
I'm hoping that the characters and theme become more complicated as the series goes on. I have high hopes for these books! Can't wait to read the next one! (less)
High fantasy books (think Tolkien or A Game of Thro...moreOh. My. Gosh. This book. Oh heavens, this book.
*stunned to silence*
*recovers ability to articulate*
High fantasy books (think Tolkien or A Game of Thrones) used to be my favorite kind. I read them like crazy, totally engrossed in the foreign worlds. But then I was introduced to paranormal, dystopian, and contemporary, and my love for high fantasy waned. Until recently, I even thought that I was completely over the genre. Everyone was talking about "Game of Thrones" and George R.R. Martin like he was some sort of literary god, and I just shrugged it off. I wasn't interested in high fantasy anymore.
Then I read Throne of Glass.
There were so many elements in this book that could have gone wrong for me, so many elements that I normally don't like. First, you have a seriously kickbutt heroine. I've never talked about this at length, but kickbutt heroines irk me like crazy. How many teen girls can ACTUALLY take down a full grown male?! How many teen boys can take down a full grown male?! And I don't like that we're supposed to fall in love with this heroine on the simple fact that she's tough. Sure, being tough is cool, but that's not going to make me like you out of some repressed sense of feminism that I see fulfilled on the page. You have to be likable too.
So I was wary going into this book. I was terrified that I wasn't going to like Celaena, that she would be so unrealistic that I couldn't stomach it. But honestly, she's really cool. She's only an assassin because she was forced into that lifestyle. And she also likes other things, like clothes(!!) and reading. She's smart and snarky, but she's also really wounded. I loved that she constantly had to remind herself to not be afraid; her fear was powerful, just like her conquering it was.
Another element that could have gone terribly wrong was the love triangle. But OMG IT'S MY NEW FAVORITE LOVE TRIANGLE! I really loved both boys. First is Dorian, the prince who's funny and flirty and oh so sweet; but he's immature and still afraid to stand up to his father, even to defend the people he cares about.
Then you've got Chaol. *swoon* I could go on and on about how much I love this boy. While Dorian comes out of the gate charming you, Chaol sort of sneak up on you until you look up from the book and realize that he's totally stolen your heart. I adored the fact that neither he nor Celaena know just how much he cares about her, not even at the end, after they've gone through so much together. He's reserved and awkward and honest, which is my FAVORITE type of romantic hero (along with the bumbling ones that are too cute to ignore). And while Celaena is distracted by Dorian, you can watch her slowly falling for Chaol. It is PRECIOUS! And there was one scene in particular that almost killed me it was so sad. (Anyone who's read the book: After the big ball, and Chaol looks up at her from below the castle? OMG! OMG!)
Really, you should read the book if only for him. But you should read it for other reasons too: it's super exciting, the worldbuilding is interesting, and it's funny. I wasn't really expecting the humor, but it was great.
The only part of the book that I didn't like and what kept me from giving it 5 perfect stars was the fact that it felt a little long, especially in the middle. There were about 50ish pages that I thought dragged roughly halfway through, and I got a little bored. But once it swings back into action, you're desperate to read more. Still, I thought the book could have been cut down some. There were scenes that felt unnecessary.
Even still, this is an INCREDIBLE book! And if all my exclamation points and words in ALL CAPS doesn't convince you, read it. If you're already a fan of high fantasy, you'll eat this up. If you're unsure, like I was, have no fear - you'll love it anyway.(less)