Bracken's best writing that I've read so far. Gabe was such a refreshing, complex voice. I would almost say this is OK to read as a stOuch. My heart.
Bracken's best writing that I've read so far. Gabe was such a refreshing, complex voice. I would almost say this is OK to read as a standalone. It's that good. Excellent job with world-building, even though it is a novella that technically takes place within a trilogy. As a reader you are still naturally eased into the world and the life of this main character. You grow with him. As his perspective changes and his view widens, so does the reader's. And I have such a soft spot for jerk main characters who just need a hug and someone to show them a little kindness.
4.5 stars, because I didn't cry? and I felt I should have? But dang was this good....more
Hopefully I can write a proper review later, but I'm already halfway through book 3 and they're kinda running together in my head (which will make itHopefully I can write a proper review later, but I'm already halfway through book 3 and they're kinda running together in my head (which will make it difficult for me to make distinctions between the two later).
Overall though, I LOVE this new proactive Ruby. You go girl. ...more
This novel/novella surprised me. I was expecting a fast, junk-food-for-my-brain, crazy zombie story, but what I got was more of a quiet, sad little grThis novel/novella surprised me. I was expecting a fast, junk-food-for-my-brain, crazy zombie story, but what I got was more of a quiet, sad little grit-lit story that had some rotting zombies and an exploding head or two along the way, but mostly just terrible humans. As you do.
The lead character is Jack, a loner, morally grey, 30-something guy hiking the Appalachian Trail after getting laid off from work. He kills bears & sleeps naked in winter in his tent & after the zombie outbreak doesn't have much of a problem shooting people in the head if it's what "needs to be done". But he also kind of broke my heart.
At one point he describes an incident as a teenager when he and his dad's roof caved in from snow and how his dad was just ready to move, but Jack decided to repair the roof himself even though he'd never done it before.
I thought I could do Dad that way. Think like him and be sad like him so I could understand how to keep his sadness away. But it doesn't work like that. I wasn't a depressed person. The way Dad was, his sadness built up until he couldn't handle it. I realized Dad was gone shortly after the episode with the roof. There was just too much sadness and Dad collapsed under it.
There were plenty of great little passages like that sprinkled throughout the book. I will say though, some of the action scenes were difficult to follow because the writing was so minimalistic. Had to re-read certain passages over again. But maybe I'm just not familiar enough with the "grit lit" style of writing.
Overall, a great zombie novella. I was tense for the last half of it, things get crazy, but it was a well-written & thoroughly entertaining read. I look forward to reading more of this author's work!
(view spoiler)[ But WHY did Audrey leave at the end?! I was so confused. She got all large and in charge & saved the day & saved Jack and then she just splits? Leading up to that reveal I thought it was all about how they were gonna stick together, because she was most likely not going to turn from the bite. And they lurved each other. AND THEN SHE LEAVES?! Ugh. (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
I read this after I was reminded of how much I enjoyed Howey's other short story, Wool. Wool is an example of how great a standalone scifi short storyI read this after I was reminded of how much I enjoyed Howey's other short story, Wool. Wool is an example of how great a standalone scifi short story can be. Unfortunately, while I liked Glitch, it didn't work as a short story. It definitely felt like the beginning of a novel (a novel I would read!); it didn't have that punch of a well-done short story.
Great premise, definitely had me interested, but definitely reads like a first chapter. ...more
This book was bananas and so much fun. CRAZY SCIENCE. Much robots. Very clones.
Not gonna lie, I also chose to read this book because it appears to beThis book was bananas and so much fun. CRAZY SCIENCE. Much robots. Very clones.
Not gonna lie, I also chose to read this book because it appears to be a standalone and I didn't want to start a new series, but that "epilogue" had cliffhanger all over it. WHY. But I would totally read a sequel tho.
Shout out to the author for passing the Bechdel Test with flying colors AND having a WOC lead. I NEED MORE OF THIS PLEASE & THANK YOU.
And my mind is still reeling from those last few chapters, so sorry this review is basic & lame. ...more
I really enjoyed this silly little series! I'd say all the books are solid 3.5s (except book 4--what happened there??). Overall I didn't get as emotioI really enjoyed this silly little series! I'd say all the books are solid 3.5s (except book 4--what happened there??). Overall I didn't get as emotionally invested as I would have liked to, although the characters are all very enjoyable. Action-packed until the very end (again, except for book 4--Mead must have had the flu or something), but they're definitely predictable (after book 3 I actually came up with a list of predictions based on the plot of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and every single prediction came true). The prose leaves something to be desired, but then again this IS snarky teen urban fantasy so you get what you get.
I admit, I'm actually a little bummed there are no more books in the series, so I guess I'll eventually read the spin off series. Sydney is no Rose, but then again, Rose is no Buffy. ...more
Super short review: pretty heavy-handed/preachy at times, but what a great cast of characters! Jo is my homegirl. I got a little choked up & tearySuper short review: pretty heavy-handed/preachy at times, but what a great cast of characters! Jo is my homegirl. I got a little choked up & teary a few times, too. Glad I finally got around to reading this one (having only watched the '49 film growing up). But hey guess what, Laurie/Amy is still mega weird. And the ending of this novel reminded me a lot of Harry Potter's OTT ending. They all lived happily ever after together in one big family and named all their children with borrowed names from other characters because people definitely do that and it's not weird or anything to name your son after the guy you almost married who later married your sister and is now your brother. Not weird. ...more
So not what I expected. I wanted pulse-pounding, edge of your seat, horrifyingly tense, psychological thriller/survivalist action scifi drama. What ISo not what I expected. I wanted pulse-pounding, edge of your seat, horrifyingly tense, psychological thriller/survivalist action scifi drama. What I got was a really technical run down of how exactly one would survive on Mars (very interesting, I must say) with zero tension, because our hero is too busy cracking college humor level jokes and showing zero depth and literally never letting anything really bother him. First person narration was so NOT the direction to go with Mark's chapters. There is such an emotional disconnect between him and the reader, just like there's an emotional disconnect between you and that guy you know who can never stop making jokes and refuses to show any kind of vulnerability or emotional complexity, because he's insecure & immature & cannot human successfully.
If the "jokes"/humor in this book were reduced by 90% and Mark showed more (any) psychological trauma (that would be expected of someone in his situation), then this book would probably shoot up to 4 or 5 stars easily. Now, since this book took me FOREVER to finish, I'm going to read some well-written & engaging YA that will take me like 2 days to finish & will be much more fulfilling than this letdown....more
This entire book felt like set up & the climax felt like it should be the middle. Annoying that it ends with so many cliffhangers (unlike the firsThis entire book felt like set up & the climax felt like it should be the middle. Annoying that it ends with so many cliffhangers (unlike the first book). So I guess the next sequel should be better?
AND WHY DID IT HAVE TO HAVE A LOVE TRIANGLE...more
Ok, ok, I REALLY enjoyed the writing style of this novel. Franny Billingsley has an incredibly unique command of the English language, and I look forwOk, ok, I REALLY enjoyed the writing style of this novel. Franny Billingsley has an incredibly unique command of the English language, and I look forward to reading more of her work. I know the narrative voice/writing style bothers a lot of people, but that was not the problem I had with this book. In fact, it was the writing itself that made me want to finish the book. From this point on in my review I'm going to briefly get into what I didn't like and it will be very spoilery, so don't read on if you haven't read it yet! Non-spoilery version: Not a lot actually happens in this book and the few twists there are are incredibly predictable and obvious and there's just too much suspension of disbelief.
(view spoiler)[ So from chapter 1 it's obvious that Briony is not a witch (or at the very least is a "good" witch) and her stepmother manipulated her for some reason. Knowing this as a reader so soon would be fine, if it seemed like the author intended it to be that way (i.e. the reader knows more than the narrator). But it gets SOOOOOOO repetitive every thousandth time Briony refers to how "wicked" she is and what a horrible person she is and how impossible it is for her to love because she's wicked and it just becomes a really weak plot device to work in tension to the plot. And the book needs tension because hardly anything is happening to move things along. It also didn't take me but a few chapters to realise Briony was not only NOT a witch, but the new Chime Child (come on!! It's the title of the freaking book!!). I just feel like hardly anything progressed because as soon as Briony seemed to be growing as a character she would slam up against her "I'm a wicked witch and hate myself" wall, and I struggled to not roll my eyes at how daft she was being about things, how much effort she had to put in to not seeing the obvious truth. It was a bit weak when we finally find out that Briony was not only manipulated by her stepmother, but ~made herself forget~ that her stepmother was a Dark Muse. I didn't really buy that she would totally forget that.
I loved the last couple of chapters when she finally realises she was manipulated the whole time by her stepmother, and I would have really liked to see more of THAT personal journey. How liberating but also how terrifying it is for her to start over and love herself and figure out who she is after stepping out from her stepmother's shadow. I would have loved to see what her new relationship with Eldric looked like (after both of them had "broke") and how her relationship with her sister changed after her revelation.
(small nitpick: but I kind of hated how Briony was sort of a typical ~I'm not like the other girls, I'm a cool girl~. Like, of COURSE she sees Leeane as a rival (Leeane is girly! and smells good! and wears pretty dresses! ugh!). Briony has no female friends, she has Eldric, Cecil, and her old tutor Fitz. Aside from her sister, I would have loved if she had more positive female relationships. Sucked that both the stepmother AND Leeane ended up being ~evil seductresses~. I was actually rooting for Leeane to turn out normal to show that Briony was just unreasonably jealous. Bummer. (hide spoiler)]
So, if there's a sequel, I'll be pleased. But otherwise I'll need to check out Billingsley's other works.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
A little disappointed this wasn't a 5 star for me. It was still crazy action-packed and gory as ever and a real page-turner...butlazy review ahead...
A little disappointed this wasn't a 5 star for me. It was still crazy action-packed and gory as ever and a real page-turner...but there was just too much going on and a lot of it wasn't super necessary. Like, I think Bick went a little overboard with how many narrative voices there were, and sadly, there isn't much distinction between the voices themselves. They all sort of read the same which is a bit of a bummer. I felt like the plot of this book didn't really move forward, I wanted to move past Rule and see a wider picture of what the world is like, it just felt very repetitive and small having the story loop back to Rule all the time. It was fascinating what was happening with Alex and I wish we could have seen more of that and explored that a bit more than rehashing more Rule drama. A bunch of old white men with grudges and revenge plots...not as interesting. Another repetition was a character thinking another character was dead, then hearing they're alive, then assuming they're dead, then seeing them, etc. etc. And what was that ending?! Is there another book in the series?
(view spoiler)[And it really started to bug me that Alex not only had 2 human guys crazy for her as well as a Chucky. Towards the end the author tried to do a self-insert into the text about how THIS trilogy didn't have a stupid love triangle like "some book", but yeah you're not fooling anyone. Alex definitely fell for 2 guys in BOOK ONE and developed weird feelings for a third...even though we all knew Tom was endgame. Just because the guys never fought each other over her doesn't make it NOT a love triangle. I definitely felt like this book more than any of the others was trying to recreate Hunger Games a bit--the love triangle, the PTSD, Alex being a bit of a lone shark, etc. (hide spoiler)]
Whatever, I think Bick is a good writer and knows how to hook a reader and write a page-turning story/action-sequence, I just think she needs to hone her craft a bit more. Limit her narrative voices, make more distinct voices/characters, and don't get trapped by her own plot. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
Obviously I am in the MAJOR minority with my 5 star rating. To be fair, it's more like a 4.5, but I wanted to be nice, because I ge[slightly spoilery]
Obviously I am in the MAJOR minority with my 5 star rating. To be fair, it's more like a 4.5, but I wanted to be nice, because I genuinely did look forward to reading it whenever I had the chance. That's been rare for me these days.
In the first book, Ashes, I lost some interest in the second half when things slowed down and the tone shifted, so I wasn't expecting much from the sequel. But turns out I actually enjoyed this one more! It's funny because the things I really enjoyed were some of the things it seems others didn't care for? Or like, we almost read different books?
I thought this 2nd book in the trilogy actually escaped the curse of "boring bridge between the first and last books". I mean, yeah, it's basically a "travel" book; characters are just trying to get from one place to the next the entire time. But it was SO action-packed! Like, because Bick introduced new point-of-views (which was a little weird at first, but I quickly got over it), there were even times three different action scenes were going on simultaneously. Like, edge of your seat, shield your eyes, cover your mouth in horror action scenes. And this sort of pace lasted the ENTIRE book! This book was dark, man. Like, mentally scarring. What is your childhood trauma, Bick?!!
No, but seriously. I need the last book in my life ASAP. I am so happy that I heard it's 800 pages long or something.
A few random comments:
--Kind of feel guilty for labelling this trilogy "zombie", because these cannibal kids are so NOT zombies, which has become pretty dang clear in this sequel. They communicate with one another, plan, organise, MATE, take prisoners, make deals...how horrifying is that?! I'll take zombies over evil teen cannibal psychos any day.
--I forgot how awesome Alex is.
--FINN IS THE MOST EVIL VILLAIN WHO EVER VILLAINED. He's how I expected the Governor would be on the last season of The Walking Dead judging from how people described the graphic novel version. (spoiler: the Governor was super disappointing; Finn is much scarier). Can't remember the last time I was this unsettled by a character.
--Really enjoyed reading Tom's POV. Chris...why are you even here, Chris?
--I noticed that Bick has really nice prose occasionally. Most of the time it's standard YA wham bam thank you ma'am, but every once and awhile she'll throw out a really great line or paragraph or moment....more
Ness deserves a longer review from me since I do love him so, but I am too lazy to type one out right now on my phone.
But in short: his beautiful writNess deserves a longer review from me since I do love him so, but I am too lazy to type one out right now on my phone.
But in short: his beautiful writing hooked me from page one; THIS is how you write YA; this is how you write male teenage protagonists (basically like complex human beings I can empathize with); this is how you write supporting characters; but also how dare you end a novel like a short story, Ness; how dare you.
Post-apocalyptic wasteland, girl cage fighting, lady freedom fighters, Old Western-style dialogue.... I expected this book to be 5 stars. Fro2.5 stars
Post-apocalyptic wasteland, girl cage fighting, lady freedom fighters, Old Western-style dialogue.... I expected this book to be 5 stars. From the synopsis alone this book had it in the bag for me. But it sadly failed to live up to expectations for several reasons (action scenes are often glossed over or skipped completely, there is tonnsss of repetition, etc.), but only two reasons specifically are really big enough to take my rating down so much and they are: JACK AND EMMI. They were both SO ANNOYING and SO PREDICTABLE it almost made this book a chore to finish and definitely kept me from loving this book, as these 2 characters factor in as major components to Saba's growth and journey as a character. Only guess what, I really didn't care.
So let me first say that I really liked the novel at first. I thought it was uniquely written, had an intriguing premise, and had lots of potential for a great hero-journey. I really liked Saba as a main character--her tough, unaffectionate personality & her deep loyalty and closeness to her brother. I couldn't wait until she would drop off her annoying little sister, Emmi, at her first stop on her journey, and then it would just be Saba ~on the road~ to find her brother. But then...but then that's where it started to fall apart. Continue reading if you don't mind spoilers!
(view spoiler)[ So Emmi RUNS AWAY from where Saba leaves her and follows Saba. This was annoying, but I'll give the book a break because it did eventually lead into a cool twist in the story when they are both captured and Emmi is used as leverage to force Saba into cage fighting. At this point I liked the development in their relationship and thought they grew much closer during this time. Which of course then becomes pointless when, after escaping, the two fall into their same old routine: Emmi reverts back into being annoying and immature and Saba goes back to being mean to her. It made me so angry when Saba then goes to leave Emmi in the protection of the Free Hawks, Emmi whines, and Jack talks Saba into letting Emmi join them on their final rescue of their brother. SHE IS NINE YEARS OLD. She can whine all she wants, but that doesn't mean you have to take a nine yr-old with you on your potential suicide mission. UGhhhhhh. It would have made much more sense if after the HORRIFIC EVENTS that resulted from Emmi running away and following Saba in the first place, Emmi would have realised that Saba does know best sometimes and Saba would want all the more to protect her sister from the dangers of the world by keeping her in the protection of the Free Hawks. But no. Then to make matters even worse, OF COURSE Emmi doesn't go along with her part of the plan. Instead, because she's useless, she disobeys orders, sticks around, gets caught, and in doing so is arguably responsible for a main character's death plus 3 randoms. Wow, gotta love that character growth for her. She really learned a lot.
Now, on to Jack. Jack is your standard issue charming-flirty-rogue-thief-actually-has-a-heart-of-gold-and-was-just-waiting-for-the-right-woman-to-come-along-to-stop-his-philandering-ways YA love interest. The basis for his attraction to Saba was basically that she didn't respond to his advances like everyone else I guess? That she was awkward? Stoic, tough, no-nonsense Saba turns into a blushing gooey mess whenever Jack turns on the charm and it really ruined her character for me. She's an effing cage fighter living in an unforgiving world and she blushes and stammers around one cocky ~beautiful~ boy?? Sheesh, this is why YA is a love/hate thing for me. Love the premise/hate the focus on unrealistic relationship drama. Not only that but for the rest of the book Jack kind of takes control of the action & planning. He comes up with the plans (but really he's just "winging it" winkwink isn't he so cute), he has to stop Saba from being reckless, he has to remind her to keep her emotions in check and be calm and focused....it's like, what happened to cage-fighting Saba? You know, the resourceful survivor who escaped all on her own and saved Jack's life in the process? I miss her. (hide spoiler)]
Alright, I could rant some more probably, but I won't. Too bad this series probably just isn't for me.
EDIT: Omg, I just read the reviews for the final two books in the series, and I am cracking up at how OFF THE RAILS they apparently get! They are pretty much all the things I didn't like in this first book but on crack. Everything gets worse. Every single character becomes unbearable. Action is non-existent and is replaced by angst and love triangles. Decision to quit this series: finalized!["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more