Cassia lives in a perfect Society. Her government makes sure that life is lived optimally, pre-planning everything from birth to death so that everyon...moreCassia 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. (less)
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...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 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. (less)
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 she...moreSo 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. (less)
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 case...moreUsually 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!" (less)
This is the second in a series, the first being Once Dead, Twice Shy, and it's not a series you want to come in in the middle of. There's a lot of bac...moreThis is the second in a series, the first being Once Dead, Twice Shy, and it's not a series you want to come in in the middle of. There's a lot of back story, and Harrison doesn't spend a lot of time rehashing what happened in the previous book. If you didn't read it, it's going to be really confusing and you'll probably spend about half of Early to Death, Early to Rise trying to figure out who everyone is and what's going on and why Madison is dead, but doesn't seem dead, and so on.
I enjoyed this, and I think it would be a good series to suggest to kids who like supernatural lite - vampire romances, angel romances, etc. It's not really a romance (yet, there are suggestions), but it has a similar feel. Kids just like you but with angels! Or vampires, whatever. I liked Madison's voice, her worry and frustration rang true. The character of Ace threw me a little bit. I understand why it didn't explain in depth, but his anger was so intense and I just didn't understand where it was coming from. Man, he was a lousy person. Harrison certainly did a good job creating a character that we would feel no sympathy for and make it easier to understand the dark reaper's point of view.
While many kids might not go this deep into it, I really liked what Harrison was doing with looking at choice and fate. When you start reading the book, it seems clear that dark reapers are bad, and light reapers are good. It's all there in their title! But dark reapers aren't actually evil, per se, they're trying to save a person's soul before they can destroy it by doing something evil. The light reapers protect the person's body by giving them a guardian angel and the right to make their choice (even if it harms other people), but then the person is protected in all the bad choices they might make. How important is free will? What if other people die because of the choices one person makes? Should that person be allowed to make those choices, or should they be stopped? There are some really interesting ideas going on in these books, I hope they get to be explored more at the same time Madison is running around looking for her body and trying to get people to make good decisions.
However, bad title. Really, really bad. The first one was bad too. Let's try for a well titled book for the third, shall we? Carry on. (less)
Colin is a washed-up child prodigy who has just been dumped for the 19th time by a girl named Katherine. Colin was so sure that this time, this Kather...moreColin is a washed-up child prodigy who has just been dumped for the 19th time by a girl named Katherine. Colin was so sure that this time, this Katherine was the one. But now he’s heartbroken, graduated from high school and is convinced he’ll never amount to anything. Ever. Not only is he sure he’s going to die alone, but he’s also sure he’ll never be able to cross from child prodigy to genius. What does it matter if he can anagram any word or phrase in the English language? He’ll never amount to anything. Never, ever, ever.
Of course, there’s only one cure for heart break and despair. A road trip. Colin’s friend Hassan, who is awesome, shows up to drag Colin off the floor of his bedroom for an epic road trip. They road trip along until Colin notices a sign, in Tennessee, claiming that the town on Gutshot contains the grave of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. A girl named Lindsey Lee Wells escorts them to the grave, and it’s on the way there that Colin trips on a molehill, smacks himself in the head and has his eureka moment. He knows what he’ll do that will take him from prodigy to genius. He knows how he’ll leave his mark on the world. Love is graphable. Colin will create a mathematical equation that will show who will break up with whom and approximately how long the relationship will last.
Hassan and Colin work out a deal with Lindsey’s mother, Hollis. In exchange for staying at her place, Hassan and Colin will take oral histories of the workers of the Gutshot textile mill, which Hollis owns. This still leaves Colin plenty of time to work on his Theorem of Underlying Katherine Predictability. And hijinks ensue.
I love everything John Green has ever written, but this one is absolutely my favorite. It’s so funny, and don’t worry if math isn’t your favorite, it isn’t actually math heavy. If you are into math, there’s an appendix that goes into detail about the equation. It’s a really great book; I would recommend it to anyone. (less)
A quick read, and interesting. When you read the two pages of Eclipse that Bree is in she just seems like a half crazed, uncontrolled newborn, which s...moreA quick read, and interesting. When you read the two pages of Eclipse that Bree is in she just seems like a half crazed, uncontrolled newborn, which she actually isn't. At all. If you've read Twilight you know you're going to read this one anyway so I think I'll leave it at that. (less)