Sometimes, I feel like the only blogger to like this series. While everyone else was really disappointed in The Selection last year, I actually enjoye...moreSometimes, I feel like the only blogger to like this series. While everyone else was really disappointed in The Selection last year, I actually enjoyed it - it provided a refreshing lightness to YA dystopians, which I think the subgenre is really lacking.
But what's better is that The Elite is even better!
The only bit of the first book that I just couldn't get into was the beginning. It had a slow start, but once it launched and America was in the palace, I really started liking the book. Thankfully, The Elite jumps right out of the gate and had me pulled in.
There is SO much about this book that reminds me of the TV show "The Bachelor." And maybe some of y'all don't watch that show, but I'll admit it's a bit of a guilty pleasure for me. I can't help wondering if Kiera Cass watched it for research purposes, because essentially every sort of girl drama that goes down in this show happens in this series: backstabbing contestants that sabotage the others, jealousy that runs wild among the Selected, ridiculous "tests" that are supposed to tell the Bachelor which girl to choose, and special connections between the bachelor and particular contestants. I loved ALL the drama!
And while some people have criticized that this book is too simple, I have to admit that that's one of the reasons I like it. The series as a whole has a young feel to it, like it's geared for younger YA - either that or just for girls who like clean, innocent reads. This is exactly the type of book I would have loved as a teen. (There's no way I would have been prepared for a Jen Armentrout read! o_0)
Above all, this book (and the series) is a romance. The relationships between America and Maxon, and America and Aspen play the central role of the plot. And if you know that, are prepared for that, I think you will enjoy the book better. This isn't the life-or-death-edge-of-your-seat read like Divergent, Legend, or Uglies. It's also not the tense, romantic drama like Shatter Me or Delirium. If I had to compare it to any of the other YA dystopians I've read, I'd say it's the most like Matched, by Ally Condie - because of the innocent romance and the overall clean feel of it.
My only criticism would be that America makes some DUMB choices. But then again, didn't we all as teens? And she certainly learns her lesson. I just wish that she had had more faith in Maxon and not done so many rash things. I wanted to shake her a little.
This is a really solid sequel, and I'm looking forward to the final book. Although not much happened plot-wise with this one, Kiera Cass still strung me along on drama and character development alone.
*I apologize in advance for this review, as there is very little of me actually speaking intelligently. But Tahereh Mafi stole all of my articulation...more*I apologize in advance for this review, as there is very little of me actually speaking intelligently. But Tahereh Mafi stole all of my articulation skills. This book turned me into a babbling fangirl who lost her ability to "can."
I had mixed feelings about Shatter Me when I read it last year - I thought Tahereh Mafi's writing style was both interesting and sort of annoying. I liked Juliette and Adam okay, but I thought Warner was fascinating. Then I read the "Destroy Me" novella and totally fell in love with Warner's character - he's just so complicated and tortured and amazing. So I was really looking forward to Unravel Me, probably more than any other dystopian series I've read.
And I've got to say: I was absolutely, totally, 100% enamored with this book from the first chapter.
As I've said before, I tend to have a hard time describing my feelings for a book I loved, so I'm afraid I'm going to have to resort to "Sherlock" GIFs to help me along here...
When I started the book
When the tension keeps building and BUILDING
When WARNER COMES BACK
OMG CHAPTER SIXTY-TWO
Sometimes, sequels just sort of dive over a cliff, and you wonder how it's the same author, how the story could have possibly tanked that badly. What happened to the plot, the characters you loved? What is this absurd sophomore slump your favorite author has fallen into?
Then, on rare occasions, a sequel goes above and beyond anything you might have expected. It takes the worldbuilding and the characters and the plot that was introduced in book one, throws them all on a spaceship, rockets through the atmosphere, and sends them to the moon. It's just that good.
Unravel Me was the latter.
Where the style was sometimes awkward in Shatter Me, it's matured and developed to a great literary sort of voice. Where the characters had too much angst, now they react with such intensity, you can practically feel their emotions. And where Juliette and Adam's romance fell kind of flat, you have Warner stepping in and becoming ZOMG THE BEST CHARACTER IN THE ENTIRE SERIES.
There are a few book boys in YA that hit my best-ever list. Some of these include Will Herondale from Cassie Clare's The Infernal Devices, Cassel Sharpe from Holly Black's Curse Workers series, and Luca from Lisa T. Bergren's River of Time series. But there is a chance that Warner could surpass them all. Why? Because Tahereh Mafi did what I have been WAITING for an author to do for like, ever.
Which is make our heroine fall in love with the villain.
And yet, Warner really isn't a villain. I love that his character is so ambiguous. I love that he's seriously messed up. And I love that Juliette can't hate him. Honestly, I could go on and on and ON about how much I love him, but really, all you need to know is
I've decided that the last book should be titled Ruin Me because that's what this one did. Seriously. This book goes down with Days of Blood & Starlight as the most intense YA books I've ever read, with some of the most heartbreaking scenes, with some of the best, most well-developed characters that I WANT TO HUG SO BAD I COULD DIE!
Also, did I mention Chapter Sixty-two? I did? Because it's the bestttttttt.
Bottom line: this book is SO good! I think everyone who read Shatter Me and didn't like all the strikethroughs and purple prose will like this one better - a lot of that's been cut out. Also, yes, there's a love triangle. But lawd, it's good. This book basically rips your heart out and throws it onto the ground, then stomps on it really hard.
Some of you may remember that I was just sort of iffy about Shatter Me. The writing was a little too much, and I didn't connect much with J...moreHOLY. CRAP.
Some of you may remember that I was just sort of iffy about Shatter Me. The writing was a little too much, and I didn't connect much with Juliet or Adam. But I loved Warner - he was my favorite character - so I was hoping that this novella would be interesting.
Little did I know that it would totally blow my mind.
My brain. It can't....I just...OMG.
I'm reading along, semi-interested at the beginning, thinking how awesome it is to be reading a Tahereh Mafi book with no slashes through words, and then BAM!
I'm hit by the awesomeness that is Warner's POV. The writing in this novella is strong and emotional and powerful. It felt charged somehow, like every word was important. And there's just this tension in the plot and the writing itself that really impressed me, like whoa.
I basically have no words for how awesome this book is. Words fail me.
Just know that this novella is a MUST READ for anyone who read Shatter Me. I don't even care if you liked the first book. This one is so much better written and more interesting! I want Warner to narrate the entire series. Who cares about Juliet and Adam?! I've never loved a villain so much in my life.
He just...OMG THE FEELS!
I'm pretty sure Warner is going to die before this series is over, and a part of me thinks that's terrible. But you know, a part of me almost thinks that's good. It's what he wants, anyway. Poor guy is so miserable and pathetic and SAD! He needs a hug. Let's all just hug, shall we?
I'm now basically counting down the days until I get an ARC of Unravel Me, not really because I want to be inside Juliet's head anymore, but I MUST know what happens to Warner!
*Also, (view spoiler)[maybe they could kiss again - like in real life and not him dreaming? Without her shooting him? (hide spoiler)] That would be awesome. :)["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)
After the huge scandal surrounding this book after one of my personal favorite reviewers Wendy Darling posted her review her review on Goodreads and i...moreAfter the huge scandal surrounding this book after one of my personal favorite reviewers Wendy Darling posted her review her review on Goodreads and it seemed like all hell broke loose, I wasn't really sure if I wanted to even touch this book with a ten-foot pole. But the author seemed very nice on Twitter and the blurb still sounded awesome and I had an ARC sitting on my shelf sent by the lovely people at Harper Collins, so I finally caved and read it a couple days ago.
And honestly, I kinda liked it.
First and foremost, this book is in no way shape or form ANYTHING like The Hunger Games, so it sort of shocks me that it was marketed as anything similar. I understand maybe that the selection process is somewhat like the reaping, but I don't think so. Even Kiera Cass has said that she doesn't care for the comparison because she thinks it gives people the wrong impression.
This, like many YA dystopians, is primarily a romance, with some dystopian elements thrown in. Think Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi, Delirium by Lauren Oliver, or Matched by Ally Condie. And out of all those, I think I might like this one best because it was really unlike a lot of YA books I've read in that it was sort of sweet, girly, and fun instead of dark, serious, and intense. And let's face it, the only lighter books these days are contemporary, so it was refreshing to read something so different.
Also, I've got to say that I loved Prince Maxon. Again, TOTALLY different than your usual YA boy. For one, he's a legit gentleman. And I don't mean the Edward Cullen type who actually wants to eat you. He's nice, polite, and considerate. He treats all the girls with respect, and he's basically an overall good guy WITHOUT ANGST. I mean, sure, there's enough to give him some character motivation, but he was blessedly straightforward. Also, the guy's never kissed a girl before the book starts. How precious is that?!
Really, this book could be summed up in that word: "cute." It's fluffy and frilly and full of pretty dresses. I don't know, I like that sort of think. Sue me.
But what kept me from enjoying this book more basically comes down to three things:
1. The Writing The writing isn't terrible, but it's definitely not some of the finest I've seen. Not everyone can be Laini Taylor, but I would have preferred a little more strength in Kiera Cass's craft, at least more showing instead of telling. I felt like her style really hindered the plot, and the simplicity of her prose kept the entire book from feeling mature or well-developed.
She even says one time that Aspen was "dressed in white. He looked angelic." I'd rather she described it instead of just telling me.
2. The Love Triangle I'm not all anti-love triangle, honest. Sometimes, I think it really works. But this one just didn't do it for me. I still have no idea why she's interested in Aspen, probably because we start the book in a place where they're already ready to get hitched. I didn't feel a single connection to him, and that left me wondering why America was even remotely into him when Maxon was standing there.
3. America Besides her ridiculous name ("America Singer"), which I can get past, America was just sort of...annoying. She's sassy, but that's not what irked me. I'm just really tired of selfish heroines in YA. They always want what THEY want, they don't want to sacrifice anything for their families, and heaven forbid they have to give up their boy!
And, you know, I get it: teenagers tend to be selfish creatures. (I mean, more so than everyone else.) But CAN SOMEONE JUST ONCE TAKE ONE FOR THE TEAM?! I couldn't stop myself from being really, really irritated that America wouldn't even sign up for the Selection unless her boy toy forced her to. She's so critical of her mother, who is obviously trying exceptionally hard to provide for her family.
It was all cliche and tired, and I find myself losing a lot of respect for the character.
America even says that she's not going to choose Aspen or Maxon; she's going to choose HERSELF. Since when is it okay to put yourself first above everyone else?! How about choosing your FAMILY, the people you care about?
Maybe America will surprise me later on, and she'll actually grow a pair and sacrifice something for somebody else. Because throughout this book, all she's doing is taking and taking some more, then complaining about it.
BUT. This book is still good. The selfish-MC-thing is rampant in YA, definitely not isolated to this book, so I wouldn't let it dissuade you from reading The Selection. I'm looking forward to the next book, especially since this ended in such a cliffhanger. (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)
This was an interesting read for me. There were bits that I liked a lot, then some that didn't really impress me. Maybe I'm sick of vampires. Or dystopians. Or both. But I was a little disappointed with this one.
First things that I did like: the setting and worldbuilding. Honestly, that was my favorite part of the book. I liked the world that the "J.A. London" crafted here, with vampires pretty much ruling the world and humans trying to survive. I also liked that our heroine, Dawn, is the delegate that interacts with the vampires. The interactions between her and Valentine were actually my favorite parts of the story - Valentine was a really interesting character, and I loved that he wanted everyone to dress and act like it was still Victorian times.
In terms of other characters, I wasn't really invested in any of them. They weren't badly written, I just didn't connect with them. I didn't feel like I knew much about Victor, and Dawn was so quiet and level-headed that she didn't that many qualities that made her stand out. Her boyfriend Michael was really the only one that I felt had a clear character motivation, but he was just a supporting character.
The romance was pretty standard. There's no insta-love, though, so that's good. But they fall for each other at a pretty remarkable pace, anyway, especially considering she has a boyfriend. And I never really felt any sparks between them. I didn't feel anything. It all just played out in the book, and I wasn't all that interested in them getting together or not.
Now, the pacing of this book is sorta slow up until like page 200. I was getting bored with the book, ready to start skimming, but then it really picks up. I liked the last 100 or so pages a lot, and they almost made up for the slow beginning. Although I figured one of the big twists at the end, another one surprised me (in a good way). I think it set up really well for a sequel!
Just a warning, though: it's a serious cliffhanger. I mean, like, ending right in the middle of a scene. Now, it's not as bad of a cliffhanger as, say, Cassandra Clare's Clockwork Angel. But it's still pretty intense.
Overall, this was just an okay book for me. The end made it worth reading, but I'm not dying to read the next one. I think the topic just wasn't for me - I've never been a huge dystopian or vampire fan, so the mixing of the two didn't get me all excited. But people who enjoy either of those genres should like it more than I did!(less)
I have some mixed feelings about this book. For one, I really enjoyed the urban fantasy feel to this book. It's definitely not a paranormal romance, w...moreI have some mixed feelings about this book. For one, I really enjoyed the urban fantasy feel to this book. It's definitely not a paranormal romance, which I loved. Coinciding with that genre, there's a lot of grittiness in this book, but I also liked that. What I wasn't a huge fan of were the pacing the romance.
First, this is a pretty short book. That's okay, but at times, it felt a little rushed. I would have preferred some more character development and some more time passing. The story takes place in a matter of days, and I've never been a huge fan of stories like that. I just feel like I get to know characters better the longer I spend with them.
Related to this was the romance. It felt REALLY fast, a teensy bit like insta-love. Ari meets Sebastian the first day in New 2 and she's making out with him the VERY NEXT DAY. That didn't work for me. I didn't buy that she was that connected to him, when for the first quarter of the book we're always told that she keeps people at arm's length because she doesn't want to get hurt. Why is Sebastian different? Why does she trust him? I felt none of that was ever really answered.
Also, I totally guessed what Ari was after the very first chapter. Maybe it's just because I know more about mythology than the average reader. (You could call my interest bordering on obsession.) But there was no real mystery for me, especially with all the talk about her hair and what not. This then led me to figuring out who the villain would be. (It's all very logical if you think it through.) But maybe I'll be stumped when I read the next book.
Now, on to what I DID like: for one, the mythology and worldbuilding. Keaton does a great job of crafting an interesting world. There were a lot more types of paranormal creatures than I was expecting, like vampires and shapeshifters and witches, but they fit into the mythology nicely. I also liked seeing familiar characters show up like Arachne. (The geek in me squealed a little on the inside.)
And these aren't your average vamps and witches. I loved how their culture has been integrated into the culture of New Orleans. Having been to that city, I can totally see how if there's going to be an entire city run by the supernatural, it would be there. It has this old world, almost creepy vibe even in real life that is PERFECT fodder for a book like Keaton's. In fact, the setting was one of my favorite parts of the book. I loved taking a tour of New Orleans along with Ari - her trip was a lot more exciting than mine. :)
I also liked that we got to see a goddess. In a lot of books about mythology, we don't ever see a single god or goddess (i.e. Starcrossed by Josephine Angelini, Half-Blood by Jennifer L. Armentrout, Everneath by Brodi Ashton, etc.). So I was excited to see that the villain herself is a goddess. Loved that! However, I'm not really sure I agreed with the choice of said goddess, but I'll suspend disbelief.
Overall, this was a really interesting book. I wish it had been longer and I'd gotten to know why Ari was so gosh darn interested in Sebastian, but I'm hoping to learn more in the next book. This is a solid urban fantasy with juicy bits of mythology!(less)