Cassia lives in a perfect Society. Her government makes sure that life is lived optimally, pre-planning everything from birth to death so that everyonCassia lives in a perfect Society. Her government makes sure that life is lived optimally, pre-planning everything from birth to death so that everyone can have the best life that they can have. Cassia is seventeen and everything is about to change for her. She is being matched to her optimal spouse, she is about to be assigned to her career, and her grandfather is turning eighty and going to die. The happiest night of her life is when the cracks start to show. She is matched to her best friend Xander, but later a different face, an acquaintance named Ky, is shown as her true match. Her grandfather shows her banned poems before his death, poems that make her wish that she could create instead of organize. Cassia's life is crumbling as she has to decide whether freedom of choice is worth the safety of everyone she loves. Her family is being watched, the Society seems to be pushing measures of equality further than are comfortable, and as Cassia starts to fall in love there are whispers of dissent.
When I started reading this I was strongly reminded of The Giver by Lois Lowry: sorting children into proscribed paths, pills to keep the masses calm, and how the the need for choice and independence of mind will eventually buck under a dictatorial government. Unfortunately the similarities ended there. There were good points, I enjoyed Cassia's interactions with her family and the burgeoning realization that she needed more out of life than what she was receiving. But I felt that the romance side was rather weak, which unfortunate as this is essentially a romance in the trappings of a Utopian dystopia.
Cassia is supposed to be in a love-triangle between Xander and Ky, but it was difficult to feel any tension when Xander isn't present for most of the book. Xander is made to be so perfect and good that it makes me question how Cassia can fall in love with anyone else? That and the mystery of Ky wasn't really intriguing enough to keep my attention, in fact I might even go as far as to call him boring. Who wants a perfect non-love interest and a boring love-interest? This wasn't helped that the pacing of the book was also extremely slow for the first three-quarters, I ended up skimming through a good portion of it. But it was almost made kind of worth it the last couple of chapters. Almost. Let's hope that the sequel will ratchet up the action, a lot, and Ms. Condie will make Ky actually worth caring about. I don't know, maybe I'm being too critical. I did read this one after Clockwork Angel so maybe I was just so blinded by that book's awesomeness that I wasn't ready for something else. I'm sure that there'll be some crowd of girls between the ages of 13-16 that will enjoy this book and relate to the oppression that they 'suffer' with their parents with the governmental oppression that Cassia experiences. ...more
Tessa Gray is sixteen and heading to Victorian England to meet her brother after the death of her aunt and guardian. Once she arrives, she is kidnappe Tessa Gray is sixteen and heading to Victorian England to meet her brother after the death of her aunt and guardian. Once she arrives, she is kidnapped from the docks, the life of her beloved brother is threatened, and Tessa is tortured until she can control a power she never knew she had: the ability to transform into another person and retain their thoughts and emotions. She soon learns that her abilities are to be harnessed by the evil Magister and it is only by marrying him that she can save her brother. At her darkest hour she is rescued and introduced to the world of demons, angels, Downworlders and Shadowhunters. It is in the safety of the Institute that Tessa tries to understand this new culture with the help of dark Will, gentle Jem, self-absorbed Jessamine, motherly Charlotte, and absent-minded Henry; but is distracted by anxiety for her brother and the growing attraction she has for Jem and Will. Unfortunately her own emotions and confusion must be put aside as the Magister sets a trap and all that Tessa holds dear is put at risk.
I LOVED THIS BOOK. I'm not sure how else to put it. Cassandra Clare has written a previous series, The Mortal Instruments which is equally awesome and therefore I was so excited to not only get the ARC of Cockwork Angel but also get it earlier than most at the ALA conference. One part that just made me laugh (I promise this isn't a spoiler) is the fact that Tessa is supremely naive and basis much of her street knowledge on the novels that she's read and enjoyed. Cassandra Clare has a gift of being able to develop characters and emotions, but also maintain underlying plot tension throughout the book. There is never a dull moment, never a page that you don't feel bad about scanning, never a angst-ridden dialogue that you won't go back and reread. Most excellent. I had high hopes for this book and they were all exceeded, I can't wait until the sequel Clockwork Prince comes out. Sidenote: while this is in the same universe as her previous series, this is a standalone and can be read before or after The Mortal Instruments; Clockwork Angel comes out Aug. 31st. If you haven't read The Mortal Instruments series yet I would strongly recommend it just because it is also fantastic. ...more
Falling In is the not so quintessential story of a girl that doesn't fit in. Isabelle Bean ponders the beauty of dirt, doesn't like to shop with her mFalling In is the not so quintessential story of a girl that doesn't fit in. Isabelle Bean ponders the beauty of dirt, doesn't like to shop with her mother, considers spilled jam beauty marks, feels like she is always precariously standing on the edge of something new, and hears a consistent buzzing noise rising from the floor. Isabelle isn't crazy, it turns out she belongs in a different world! It is in this new world where she is able to make friends and understand that her daydreaming can be an asset. But she is soon given the difficult task of helping the people there overcome their fears and push herself to learn new skills to save children.
I think it's fascinating that this is Frances O'Roark Dowell's first foray into fantasy. Her characters grabbed my attention, I loved Isabelle's descriptive inner monologues, and her creative breaks in the action through the use of new chapters. It was all so innovative and fun! Unfortunately somewhere in the middle I think I became a little innovated and funned out, as I found myself skipping ahead. While I appreciated all the pieces that Ms. Dowell brought to the book and how these pieces made an inspired book, it also started to seem a bit same-y. On the bright side I was able to finish the book and was overall pleased with it until I realized there wouldn't be a sequel (weird huh? I've been looking for a great standalone book and once I've got it I'm disappointed that it is. That's another blog entry all together). I was overwhelmed with the thought, "But I still have questions!" Usually I'm OK with questions at the end, but for some reason with this book I really wanted it all wrapped up like a present. I think that this shows that while I might have lost a little faith in the middle, this book comes through in the end. At least it did for me. ...more
Thirteen year old Tanya has grown up being able to see faeries. She is able to pass off their tricks as clumsiness, practical jokes, and bad luck, unt Thirteen year old Tanya has grown up being able to see faeries. She is able to pass off their tricks as clumsiness, practical jokes, and bad luck, until her mother fed up with her misbehavior sends her to her grandmother's estate. That's right; not a house, cabin, shack, or apartment, but the large estate and manor that Tanya and her mother usually vacation at for a week during the summer. To say that Tanya and her grandmother have a disconnected relationship is an understatement, and the prospect of living with a woman who views with seeming disgust for unnumbered days is not a prospect that Tanya looks forward to. This is especially clear to Tanya as the faeries are become more malicious, the disappearance of a girl fifty years ago is related to her own family, and the only person to help her is weirdo Fabian the caretaker's son.
I have to admit that I don't know what expectations I had before I started reading this book, but I know that I had some. Perhaps I expected more action, greater intrigue, more sinister villains, or perhaps a faster plot pace; in the end it didn't really matter because none of these things happened. I didn't dislike this book, but I didn't enjoy it either. There were parts that were pretty exceptional, i.e. the description of the rather mundane faeries and the history of her family, but generally I felt that the story was a bit flat. The plotline a bit disjointed, and the pacing slow. I'm sure that they're setting up for a sequel, considering the fact that it's called 13 Treasures and they kind of explain what the thirteen treasure but they really hold no relevance to this story, and I would probably check it out to see if they could rectify the mistakes in this book.
I feel like the book had potential and after having read it I still feel like the book has potential. Unfortunately I don't want to feel that way after finishing a book, I want to see the book fully realized and be able to walk away with a strong opinion about it. 13 Treasures made me feel like I was still holding my breath in anticipation of the plunge that never happened. ...more
So I figured I'd get on the bandwagon and see what the deal was about the Scott Pilgrim series by Bryan Lee O'Malley. Interesting artwork and plot linSo I figured I'd get on the bandwagon and see what the deal was about the Scott Pilgrim series by Bryan Lee O'Malley. Interesting artwork and plot line. It's set in Toronto which is fantastic, and it has an original main character. Scott Pilgrim is 23, unemployed, getting over a horrible breakup by dating a high school-er, lives off his friend's generosity, and is in a terrible band. Things start looking up when he meets Ramona Flowers, who he must fight for the honor of dating. Which he does, surrounded by crazy friends and a sarcastic sister.
I read the entire thing in half an hour. It was weird. I can see why it's popular, why it would make an awesome movie, but kind of a lame graphic novel. No lie. I think it's mostly because the "original main character" turned out to be kind of a loser: no job, no money, and technically cheating on his 17 year old girlfriend with Ramona Flowers who he's fighting the evil exes for. Oh did I mention that Scott has amazing fighting abilities? Which is his only redeeming quality, that he can fight. Perhaps I need to be sixteen and a boy to really appreciate this one. Or maybe I need to read more of the series to appreciate. But really I'd rather not....more
So I finished The Grimm Legacy by Polly Shulman about a week ago. Enter Elizabeth, our heroine, whose life somewhat reflects the fairy tales that sheSo I finished The Grimm Legacy by Polly Shulman about a week ago. Enter Elizabeth, our heroine, whose life somewhat reflects the fairy tales that she loves so much: distant father, horrible stepmother and stepsisters, and not a friend in the world. Enter Mr. Mauskopf (who I couldn't help visualizing as having a mouse on his head) who recommends that Elizabeth gets a job at the Circulating Material Repository. This is a library like no other, instead of specializing in books it loans out things! Rugs, wigs, tools, music, and things only whispered about that come from the Grimm Collection. Just as Elizabeth is figuring things out, making friends, and gaining the trust of those she works with disaster strikes when items are being stolen and friends are being threatened. The horror! Elizabeth must rise to the occasion or lose everything that she has worked for.
I have to admit that I didn't love it. The premise is great, who doesn't love the idea of an outsider finding her place at a quirky magical library? But what should really have been a more plot driven tale, I felt was bogged down by unlikable characters and a fractured storyline. I can't help but wonder if Ms. Shulman can either fix the book before publishing or grab enough attention to create a better sequel? I didn't hate it, but honestly I had such high hopes that I ended just being disappointed. ...more
Usually I start off with a summary of the book. The problem is, this is the third book in the trilogy, and I don't want to give ANYTHING away if caseUsually I start off with a summary of the book. The problem is, this is the third book in the trilogy, and I don't want to give ANYTHING away if case you haven't read any of them because they're so freaking good. So good! So I think what I'll do is give a general summary of the series, how about that? And then I'll gush some more because they're SO FREAKING GOOD.
In book One of the Chaos Walking series, The Knife of Never Letting Go, we are introduced to a new world. A relatively small colony of humans have come to the planet, and before the start of the book, there was a war with the indigenous species that the humans refer to as the Spackle. The Spackle have no spoken language, they communicate entirely through thoughts. The human men find, much to their horror, that not long after living on this new planet, their thoughts are being broad casted too. The humans refer to this as "Noise." Human women do not have Noise.
The first book starts up with Todd in Prentisstown. Todd has grown up in a world without women, all killed by the "disease" that caused the men to hear their and everyone else's thoughts. The town is chaotic, with many men seemingly living on the edge of madness from the constant barrage of other people's thoughts. The town is tightly controlled by the Mayor. One day, Todd is off with his dog when he finds a pocket of silence in the Noise. It's a girl. Which makes no sense at all. The first book is about Todd finding out the truth about this world he lives in, and working together with the girl, Viola, to get free from the Mayor and Prentisstown.
Book Two, The Ask and the Answer sees the world broken into two fractures, the Ask, controlled by the Mayor, who now calls himself the President, and the Answer, a terrorist group that fights back against the Ask. Todd and Viola find themselves, against their will, in the two separate groups, unsure if either of the groups are really doing what's best for anyone. I loved what Patrick Ness did in The Ask and the Answer with looking at a terrorist organization. The Ask is evil, clearly, they're killing and torturing and branding women, but the Answer isn't blameless either. They use people, and kill innocent bystanders as well as the fight against the Mayor. The world that's created is so intricate. Nothing is black and white. The way people turn to the Mayor for protection, even as he does terrible things, is fascinating and creepily realistic. Todd is in a constant struggle to do the right thing, but both Todd and Viola fear doing anything that might cause harm to the other.
And so we come to the final installment, Monsters of Men, where the Spackle attack. The Mayor had killed all the Spackle slaves, allowing one to go free in order to start a war. The Answer was about to attack the Ask, but now the humans have a new, larger, very well armed enemy to deal with. Not only that, but a new convoy of settlers is only a month off from landing. Todd and Viola are fighting for peace, but the Mayor and the leader of the Answer, Mistress Coyle, are both still fighting for power. In this book we also get to learn more about the Spackle, and how they communicate.
This was all very vague, please believe me when I say this series is amazing and there's so much to it. Please read it. The relationship between Todd and Viola is beautiful. I was crying for the last 30 pages of Monsters and Men. I do not usually cry over books. Every now and then I might get a little teary, but I don't remember ever actually crying. Well done, Patrick Ness, well done. I was in what I refer to as "Harry Potter mode," where I sit and read and yell at anyone who tries to talk to me, "CAN'T YOU SEE I'M READING? I CANNOT BE DISTURBED!" ...more