The Forgotten Ones is a very fast read, due in large part to the length (197 pages) and the fast-paced second half.
The first half builds up how lonely...moreThe Forgotten Ones is a very fast read, due in large part to the length (197 pages) and the fast-paced second half.
The first half builds up how lonely Allison’s life is: she doesn’t fit in with her cousin Nicole’s friends, she doesn’t like parties, and she pretty much has no life because she lives with her grandparents in order to help take care of her schizophrenic mother. I felt bad for Allison because it can’t be easy living with a mother who screams at the sight of you, simply because of your resemblance to your long-lost father. I wasn’t quite as sorry for her for having no friends except for her cousin because I’m getting kind of tired of that trope in YA where the introverted heroine has no friends/only one friend. (I’m introverted too but at some point, you have to put forth some effort or you are going to die alone; I can say this because I tell myself this literally once a month.) Because it was so short, Allison didn’t have much depth outside of her family situation; she works at a hardware store, she’s in love with Ethan (but we’re not really clear on why), she doesn’t want to date, she’s graduated from college, and she wants to go off to graduate school (but we don’t know what for). The Forgotten Ones would have benefited from deeper characterization, which could have been achieved without increasing the page count too much.
The second half of the novel is much faster and the tone moves from morose to determined. There’s a lot going on, and a sense of urgency that had me rushing through to the end, which is always a good sign. Allison’s long-lost father (Liam) shows up, looking not a day over 25 I’m sure. This is where the character’s age really shines. She’s not expecting her father to come in and save the day, or even to act like her father. She’s grown up, and her top priority is the wellbeing of her mother, who would have a meltdown if she saw Liam. She’s determined to rescue her mother and keep Liam away, whereas a younger character would have been at least somewhat concerned with the “my daddy is back, I hope he likes me” issue. Liam is trying to protect Allison’s mother (Beth) though he also says that his presence is what’s putting her in danger. That plus the 22+ years of separation were a bit of a plot hole, but then her father’s fae ex-lover Aoife steals Beth and it all goes to hell. Commence rescue scenario A: Go on a bonding mission with Liam to Tir na n’Og to find the Queen, who is a Seer. Allison refuses to be left behind, refuses to leave her mother in the care of any fae who doesn’t value human life, and It. Is. Awesome. She is prepared to take no crap, fights back when attacked, and doesn’t cower in fear at the realization that 1) there is an entire world of faery that she didn’t know about and 2) she is alllll kinds of wrapped up in it now. She just strides in and says, “Take me to my mother” and then later, “We are rescuing Ethan” when that becomes necessary.
For a 197 page novel, The Forgotten Ones packed quite a punch. I liked the characters, especially that they were post-collegiate aged and seemed to have lives, though none of them seemed to be getting serious or considering moving out of their parents’ houses which confused me greatly. This was a fast read, and one I really enjoyed. There were some elements of plot that could have used more work, and some that just seemed done for dramatic effect (like King Deaghlan, who is super creeping on Allison seemingly just because that’s what fae apparently do with humans, marital status be darned). I really liked The Forgotten Ones and can’t wait to read the next installment, which Laura Howard says will be released in April!
This little novella was quite cute, and it was nice to see good things happen for Lila when she was so loyal to Echo in Pushing the Limits. I loved he...moreThis little novella was quite cute, and it was nice to see good things happen for Lila when she was so loyal to Echo in Pushing the Limits. I loved her connection to Lincoln and the connection they'd had for years. It was a little far-fetched, but I was willing to buy it for the sake of the sweet romance.
Crossing the Line adds nothing to the stories in the series overall, but it's a nice little side story if you like the series.(less)
*sigh* As with Dare You To, Crash into You just didn't give me the same feels that I had for Echo and Noah in Pushing the Limits. I liked Isaiah and R...more*sigh* As with Dare You To, Crash into You just didn't give me the same feels that I had for Echo and Noah in Pushing the Limits. I liked Isaiah and Rachel better. They had a real connection because of their love for cars, and a real problem developed with the racing and the gang and the debt. A lot of the time, I really wanted Rachel to take charge of her own life and stop letting her brothers boss her around, but I can see how that dynamic could play out in real life. Family is forever and when you love each other, sometimes you comply, especially as the youngest and as "the girl."
I liked Crash into You more because each character had a thing they were struggling with outside of the drama. Rachel has been trying to fill the shoes of her dead sister and prove to her family that she's not sick anymore, though she is. Isaiah is getting over Beth and trying to live on his own, both of which are proving more difficult than he thought they'd be.
All in all, it was solid. Not amazing like book 1, but solid.(less)
Thank you to NetGalley and Random House CHildren’s for providing me with an ARC of Fates in exchange for a fair and honest review.
Fates is a fantastic...moreThank you to NetGalley and Random House CHildren’s for providing me with an ARC of Fates in exchange for a fair and honest review.
Fates is a fantastic example of when pretty covers happen to less than mediocre books. I shall try to reign in my snark as per my “let’s not be too mean” policy but be warned: this book is a mess. Not even a hot mess, or a disaster like the Titanic where it could have been great but then it hit the book version of an Iceberg. It’s like Hoarders level bad – it starts bad, then it just keeps piling up.
It started with a premise I actually found interesting: Corinthe is one of the Fates and has been driven out of Pyralis for an undisclosed mistake. Her sister Fates harvest flawed marbles, souls that need extra attention in order to keep the universe in balance. The occasional references to her “flouting of the laws of the universe” that led to her banishment suggests a rebellion, but it turns out she just accidentally lost one. There was a lot of build-up to that very casual reveal, and I would have liked it much better if the author had made Corinthe’s transgression an actual act of rebellion. Her character could have been so much stronger if she’d questioned whether or not Fate should be designed as they apparently do.
That was relatively minor, and my biggest problem with Fates was that the forbidden romance was supposed to be the driving force of the entire book. Corinthe is instructed to kill Luc to regain her place as a Fate in Pyralis, but falls in love with him instead and has to choose whether or not to rebel against her Fate. And that’s fine, interesting even, but it needs to be believable at the very least and substantive if you want reader buy-in. It needs to be based on more than just accidental physical contact or appearance or “feeling drawn to someone.” At some point, they need to establish a meaningful connection. The relationship in Fates doesn’t even come close to this level of depth and the characters irritated me far more than compelled me.
Corinthe and Luc are quite simply one-dimensional. Corinthe never questions whether or not the judgment set upon her was wrong, whether or not her Guardian Miranda is good or bad, or whether or not the tasks she’s been set to carry out are good. Her mind is essentially empty except for when she’s full of angst. Luc’s most interesting quality is his concern for his sister Jasmine-of-the-bad-decision-making and he has very little personality outside of that. Sadly, Luc’s hormones do all of his thinking even when he’s being threatened with a knife.
I can’t bring myself to call it a relationship, so let’s go with acquaintanceship. Their entire acquaintance is based on very little actual conversation, and within the first few chapters, both of them are confused and lovesick despite the total lack of interaction between them. Luc is driven primarily by his desire to kiss and touch Corinthe, and Corinthe is “inexplicably” drawn to him, and for some reason thinks he’s smart and funny despite no evidence that I saw. After the party, Corinthe finds out that killing Luc is her next task, the one that will restore her to her previous life as a Fate. She tracks him down again, being determined despite her “confused feelings,” and tries to kill Luc, which you’d think would deter his feelings. While she holds the knife to his throat, Luc is thinking about how he must be insane because he wants to kiss her and touch her. Corinthe fails to kill the Luc and instead they are blasted apart by a conveniently timed Vague Magical Happening.
From there Fates is a poorly plotted tumble of flat characters, unexplained creatures and settings, and both characters insta-loving all other the place, even though as I feel compelled to reiterate: they don’t know each other. They are not in love. They have not had a real conversation or connected positively in any way. After they are reunited, Corinthe and Luc have a conversation about Luc’s sister, which is interrupted by accidental arm contact, which leads to kissing, which leads to Corinthe implying she’s never had sex. Luc muses that he couldn’t breathe, would die if he couldn’t kiss her, and then mere paragraphs later, “he wasn’t at all sure he could trust her. She’d tried to kill him.” Take the hint, Luc. This is not a good relationship dynamic; it’s not romance. Write in chemistry by all means but not like this.
Then they fight, because they remember they’re kind of enemies, and Luc remembers that the mysterious lady he saw in the steam told him that his sister has been kidnapped, drained of life, and it’s all Corinthe’s fault. Without Corinthe, Luc won’t be able to save her, of course, although this too is somewhat too convenient. Corinthe, meanwhile, is still highly determined to kill Luc despite her conflicting emotions which by this point, I am beyond tired of hearing about.
Fates was a mess. I’ve tried to be as nice as possible, keep my comments constructive, and in that effort, I have rewritten this review at least 5 times.
Oh sad. :( The Little Android is a cute addition to the Lunar Chronicles. Though it's #2.5, it's really set before the events of Cinder, probably some...moreOh sad. :( The Little Android is a cute addition to the Lunar Chronicles. Though it's #2.5, it's really set before the events of Cinder, probably sometime after Glitches because Cinder is in the market at her stall.
The ending surprised me. I knew the Hans Christian Anderson version of the Little Mermaid, which this is based on, but Meyer twisted it very cleverly!
This is a very worthwhile read, especially because Meyer has released all these novellas on Wattpad for free!(less)
This is my favorite of the 3 Lunar Chronicles novellas, because it's about Wolf! Oh Wolf, bad things happened to you. They made me sad.
Of all the nove...moreThis is my favorite of the 3 Lunar Chronicles novellas, because it's about Wolf! Oh Wolf, bad things happened to you. They made me sad.
Of all the novellas, this one is probably the most helpful in setting the stage and explaining what comes after. I read this after reading Scarlet, and you don't have to read it, but if you are enjoying the Lunar Chronicles world and want to learn more about Wolf, this is the one to read. It talks more about the process Wolf and his brother went through as boys to become the hybrids they are now. (less)
Very cool learning more about Cinder pre-book 1! We actually got to see her "father" and her stepmother before she turned totally evil, and it reminde...moreVery cool learning more about Cinder pre-book 1! We actually got to see her "father" and her stepmother before she turned totally evil, and it reminded me a lot of the scene from Ever After where the dad dies and the stepmother is really, genuinely heartbroken. Then her grief turns her into a mean stepmonster and she unleashes all of her hate and anger on poor Cinder. Also, she's freakin lazy and I know that y'all know that but it BOTHERS ME.
I love how Marissa Meyer has structured the Lunar Chronicles by focusing on a different character for each installment. It keeps the story fresh and g...moreI love how Marissa Meyer has structured the Lunar Chronicles by focusing on a different character for each installment. It keeps the story fresh and gives us new people to fall in love with, while keeping the former characters and storylines moving. Often, I think series lack that shiny feeling in sequels because the characters aren't "new and exciting" anymore. This resolves that nicely.
I loved Scarlet. Her determination to save her grandmother was a very believable motivation for her story, and it automatically made me like her because she was loyal to her family. I wasn't sure how to feel about Wolf. (I had not read "The Queen's Army" beforehand, which I would recommend.) I eventually grew to root for his goodness and hope he wasn't going to be a traitor because he was more properly swoonworthy than Prince Kai, who I liked in Cinder but never really felt swoony for. Wolf is older and the spark between he and Scarlet had far more heat than the innocent attraction between Cinder and Kai.
Speaking of swoons, helloooooo Captain Thorne! He's the space captain version of Sturmhond so basically I love him and loved Cress 10,000 times more because there was so much Thorne.(less)
I didn't mean to read this because I usually hate murder-mystery books, but that cover. WOW. It pulled me in. I mean LOOK AT IT. I love white Christma...moreI didn't mean to read this because I usually hate murder-mystery books, but that cover. WOW. It pulled me in. I mean LOOK AT IT. I love white Christmas lights, and the cover was fantastically confusing and out of place right up until the very end, but it is totally fitting and awesome. Fist bump to the designer.
As a tribute to drug addiction (of the hooked-on-pain-killers variety) I thought that Far From You did a good job. Addiction is a powerful force, one that many people suffer with day to day. I loved how Sophie owned her battle. She didn't say, "I was a drug addict. I'm in recovery." She said, "I AM a drug addict. I'm in recovery." She knew every day of her life that she was still fighting the urge to wipe away the pain of her loss, her injuries and her guilt by taking pain meds. I respected that strength in Sophie, and it helped me connect with her as a character and respect the fact that she wasn't in denial, she wasn't hiding anything, and she was going to stay clean. Her potential relapse was never really in question because of the strength of her character. Sophie's struggles both hardened and strengthened her so much. She was so comfortable with herself because after everything she'd gone through with her injuries and subsequent addiction, what does it matter what some stupid kids at school think?
The other struggle is very tastefully and poignantly done. I haven't read very many books dealing with LGBT characters, but I have heard that bisexual characters in particular are often misrepresented or poorly characterized, and we've all ready books with an awkwardly written "token" gay character. Sophie and Mina's friendship is powerful, and in their teen years, there's been something else, a secret they keep, one that Mina isn't comfortable owning up to. Knowing as we do that Mina is dead, it's hard to read this with any kind of feeling other than "this isn't going to end well," but Sharpe wove in enough moments of true friendship and love that Far From You wasn't entirely depressing.
As far as style, Far From You was pretty good. The writing was solid, with flashes of excellence prose and some really great quotes. At first, I wasn't a fan of how the flashback timeline jumped around. Once you get into the middle of the novel, though, the flashback timeline is more consistently linear, which helps a lot both with watching how Sophie and Mina grew together and also the order of events leading up to the murder. I actually did like the dual timelines, because you didn't meet Mina and then see her die. You already knew she was dead and that's awful, so you want to find out who did it and why.
Fun little story set immediately after the events of Steelheart. It sets the stage and reminds us that just because Steelheart isn't a threat anymore,...moreFun little story set immediately after the events of Steelheart. It sets the stage and reminds us that just because Steelheart isn't a threat anymore, other villains are ready and willing to come into what was Chicago and try to establish power. I liked that it showed a sense of the citizens trying to find normalcy - painting the steel surfaces with whatever color they could find, however garish, one brave soul opening a Chicago style hot dog cart. It wasn't long, but it showed a resiliency in the people that I'm betting they'll need as we continue the series!(less)
There have been quite a lot of mixed reviews for Defy, partly because of the ineffectual gender-bending and partly because of the world-building. Whil...moreThere have been quite a lot of mixed reviews for Defy, partly because of the ineffectual gender-bending and partly because of the world-building. While I didn't find the book as abhorrent as some, I did find myself noticing a lot of world-building and logic problems, in addition to a few other minor issues.
What I Liked:
The writing was actually pretty good, especially for a debut novelist. The scenes are well presented and the dialogue is easy to read, not overly laden with tags ("said" "replied" etc) but not so lacking in them that you can't figure out who's talking, which is somewhat of a pet peeve for me.
I actually liked the characters, and given the reviews for the book before I'd read it, I wasn't expecting to. In the first part of the book, Alexa is ridiculously tough. She's fought hard, she takes no crap, and she trusts no one except her brother. Rylan, her friend and fellow guard, is bland in that "nice, caring, strong silent type" way but aside from his jealously over Alexa and Damian's mutual attraction, he adds basically nothing to the plot beyond travel companion. I liked him, and hoped he'd develop more, but he never did.
I really liked Damian's characterization: (view spoiler)[an actual good, decent human being devoted to his country, posing as a total wad in order to not be perceived as a threat while he makes plans to change things (hide spoiler)]. While this didn't surprise me, it's an infrequent characterization and I enjoyed how Larson developed him over the course of the novel. Alexa was never sure what his intentions were, what he was hiding, or what he was really up to, and I appreciated that just because there was an attraction, the Prince didn't automatically spill every secret he had. Country first, hormones second. Good for you, dude.
Bonus: This has nothing to do with the book really but in the digital ARC, there were random emojiis thrown in at the chapter breaks. It made me chuckle to see cake and forks for absolutely no reason. I have a weird sense of humor.
What I Didn't:
Minor: I do not buy that a 36-year-old muscled captain of the guard got his butt kicked by a then 16-year-old girl who is likely scrawny and has little fighting experience. Even putting that aside, having the most skill does not mean that one is suited to a leadership role. Leadership and wisdom aren't the same as sword skills. Maybe this is why they're in a very long horrible war and have allowed their king to make such poor ruling decisions virtually unchecked. Just a thought.
There was an over-the-top emphasis on the love triangle, which dragged down the middle of the book and actually served to make Alexa a weaker character overall. Once the love interests know she's a girl, Alexa starts acting more like a girl, which would be fine because she IS a girl and there's nothing WRONG with that, but holy crap she is whiney. She cries all the time. She gives up and waits for one of the boys to come hug her and tell her that she can do it because she is just the bestest lil' sword wielder in ever and then she gets fired up and tries again. Where is that strong girl who hid her gender and beats her opponents in 3 minutes and takes no crap? I liked her and she's missing.
MAJOR: The world-building in this book was just simply bad, for a number of reasons. First, it was far too close to Tamora Pierce's Alanna series: girl with twin brother impersonates a boy, becomes close to a prince and becomes one of his personal friends or in this case a guard, and a love triangle develops. Or basically, the 17-year-old version of Alanna: The First Adventure, except not nearly as good.
Second problem: there's a war that the king started because the Blevonese killed his wife, and it's been 10 years or something and they need more soldiers ... so the King's solution is to take all the boys away and draft them into the army and to take all the girls away and force them into breeding houses where soldiers can go rape them so they get pregnant so they can produce more soldiers. This atrocity is presented within the first 3 chapters - it's meant to show us the cruelty of the King and the horror of his reign. Ok, accomplished. It's only been ten, maybe eleven years since the war began. Surely things cannot have gotten that drastic, and if they have, is your solution really to throw more people at it? And if they're taking all the children away to be trained as soldiers or forced to stay in the breeding houses until they are able to conceive children, where are they keeping them all? Second, the King is telling a lot of lies. Are the people really this ... stupid? No one talks to anyone from other countries and there's no one speculating that the King is lying ... anywhere? No whispers, no murmurs, nothing?
Furthermore, how did the entire populace become so downtrodden so quickly? The soldiers come steal your children away for a horrible future and no parent puts up a fight? No one rescues and flees the country? The only times anyone expresses revulsion towards the breeding houses are the prince's guard and the prince himself. The soldiers, some of whom we can assume were in their jobs pre-rape houses, don't have any moral qualms about this at all? There isn't one mention of riots or protests or attempted rescues at any point, and I. Do. Not. Buy. It. You can't just write out family unity and love because it would complicate the plot, but that's exactly what Larson has done in Defy and it destroys any buy in the reader attempts to formulate with the book.
The entire convention seems to have been added to show the reader just how evil the King is. It's done for dramatic effect, to suit Alexa's need to gender-bend and pose as a boy, which makes the plot more interesting, and which leads to a love triangle because of course boys have to fall in love with her. She's the ONLY teenage girl around; all the other ones are trapped in the rape houses. She is the default choice for who to crush on and she has no competition. Gee, how convenient.
In the End:
Defy had a lot of potential as far as writing and characterization, but it borrowed too heavily from other sources (Alanna) and never stood on its own merit. More importantly, the world-building was poorly constructed, illogical, and presented more questions or outright disbelief than reader buy-in.
This review for "Defy" first appeared on StarlightBookReviews.com. ["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)
Cute intro to Valkyrie Rising, but doesn't add anything to the story. It was sweet to be inside Tuck's head and see what he was really thinking, but i...moreCute intro to Valkyrie Rising, but doesn't add anything to the story. It was sweet to be inside Tuck's head and see what he was really thinking, but it doesn't get you excited for Valkyrie Rising because it's just too short.(less)
Adam got his own book! So okay I don't want to spoil anyone, but If I Stay doesn't end with a Happily Ever After. Adam has become a pretty famous rock...moreAdam got his own book! So okay I don't want to spoil anyone, but If I Stay doesn't end with a Happily Ever After. Adam has become a pretty famous rock star, and is living a tumultuous life. He's tried to move on from Mia and the reader can tell he has been WILDLY UNSUCCESSFUL. I kind of love what Forman does with her duologies, separating the MCs and then giving the guy a whole book. I haven't read Just One Year yet but I bet I'll be one of the weird ones that likes it because I loved Where She Went even more than If I Stay. (less)
Wow, I did not expect to love Brooke. I expected a decent novella because it's Rossi and this series, but WOW, I cannot repeat myself for how surprise...moreWow, I did not expect to love Brooke. I expected a decent novella because it's Rossi and this series, but WOW, I cannot repeat myself for how surprised I am at actually loving Brooke now.
Rossi wrote a great little novella that gives us a look inside Brooke's head. She's lost, sad, and angry. Before Liv left for the Rim, she and Roar, Liv, and Perry were inseparable. Then Liv left, Roar got sad, Perry withdrew from Brooke, her sister got kidnapped by the Dwellers (view spoiler)[AKA sold by Vale, the world's worst brother (hide spoiler)], and Brooke is suddenly very alone. She's angry at Perry for thinking she's not enough for him, angry at Aria for being enough for Perry, and angry at the Dwellers for joining their camp and all being sickened by the outside air.
But Brooke doesn't spend this short little novella pining. She gets mad at herself and decides to force herself to move on, and she does a pretty great job of it. I loved seeing her resolve and seeing her figure out who she wanted to be and how she wanted to feel. This was well worth the $2.99 price tag!["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)