Perfect blend of the funny, creepy, and ridiculous. I loved every single character, even if I felt Douglas needed a high five. In the face. With a cha...morePerfect blend of the funny, creepy, and ridiculous. I loved every single character, even if I felt Douglas needed a high five. In the face. With a chair.
Imaginary Girls can be summed up in two words: "Ruby said." It is the story of Chloe and the bond she shares with her older sister, Ruby. I don't have...moreImaginary Girls can be summed up in two words: "Ruby said." It is the story of Chloe and the bond she shares with her older sister, Ruby. I don't have an older sister (though I am one), but I imagine, on the surface, Chloe's hero worship for and constant attempts to emulate her sister are very common in younger siblings. It seemed especially realistic in Chloe's situation, where Ruby had basically raised her from a very young age.
Chloe believed absolutely in whatever her sister said. If Ruby said Chloe could swim two miles across the reservoir at night and dive down into the deep where a flooded town lived and pluck a souvenir to show off to Ruby's friends, then Chloe believed she could do it. Because Ruby said.
The writing is simply gorgeous; haunting and bordering on creepy just enough to give me that little clutch in my belly, but not enough to keep my up at night. It was free flowing like the water it so often referenced, with little structure but a rhythm that set the pace for the story.
However, I felt the pace was a little slow overall, and while the writing was pretty, it was also rather meandering. At times I got so lost in the imagery that I forgot what was actually happening in the story itself.
Added to that, I never particularly liked Ruby. I don't know if I was ever supposed to like her, but I feel (especially in light of the ending) that I was meant to feel some sympathy for Ruby, to (view spoiler)[empathize with Chloe's loss, and share her unwavering hope and belief that Ruby would return (hide spoiler)]. But I didn't. I found Ruby wholly selfish and manipulative. She molded Chloe into her own image, orchestrated Chloe's life down to the last minute detail according to what she herself wanted, not what Chloe preferred. It was an unhealthy relationship, and one that unsettled me on a variety of levels.
I prefer to think I was meant to dislike and fear Ruby, though. That Chloe's relationship with her sister was meant to be disturbing and without resolution. It gives Imaginary Girls an additional layer of creepiness, and really underlines Nova Ren Suma's skill in crafting a unique voice and story structure.
I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys descriptive prose and creepy settings, and those who can be satisfied with stories that exist without real beginnings or ends.
[Side note: holy moly is the cover awesome and for once actually fitting for the story.] ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
This may very well be one of those reviews I come back and change after a later reread. I wanted so badly to give this five stars, to have all three b...moreThis may very well be one of those reviews I come back and change after a later reread. I wanted so badly to give this five stars, to have all three books in the series match, but I just couldn't muster it for Black Heart.
I should give the disclaimer that I read this during a very busy, distracting time so perhaps I was not in the right frame of mind, but I found the first half--if not 2/3rds--slow and meandering. Don't get me wrong, I love Cassel--he could just tell me about his every mundane day in his snarky self-deprecating voice and I'd still enjoy it--but for me there was something missing in the beginning. I didn't get the sense of urgency, or the longing, or any of the smart, keep-me-guessing-until-the-end mystery elements.
And I'm still wondering what the hell the Mina sub-plot was there for.
All in all, I enjoyed it. The last third lived up to my Holly Black expectations and I sped toward the last page, and ended with a happy sigh.
I definitely recommend this series; it's one of--if not THE--best done YA trilogies I've read. And like I said, I'm likely to reread at some point and roll my eyes at my own review.
It's rare for me to become sucked into a book immediately. Typically I need time to feel comfortable with the narrator's voice and get my bearings wit...moreIt's rare for me to become sucked into a book immediately. Typically I need time to feel comfortable with the narrator's voice and get my bearings within the story's world--but not so with Incarnate. I was immersed from the very first page, intrigued with a storyline I'd only glimpsed on the very surface, and immediately sympathetic to Ana.
In a world populated only by Reincarnates--those who have died and been reborn since the beginning of time--Ana is a nosoul. A newsoul. From birth she has been shunned by society, banished with her mother to a cottage on the outskirts of Heart. She is abused, neglected and starved by her vindictive mother, who believes Ana's birth replaced another's--Ciana's--rebirth.
For eighteen years Ana lived under the iron first of her mother Li, before setting out on her own to find the truth of her origins in the great city of Heart. Along the way she meets Sam, who becomes her friend and ally as she navigates a society that resents and fears her, and an enemy that wants her dead.
Incarnate is a beautifully crafted and layered story. It has everything: fantasy elements (dragons, sylphs, gods who inhabit stones), futuristic elements (gadgets, guns, etc), action, adventure, romance (oh god. so good.), religious undertones (without becoming preachy), murder, mayhem, conspiracies... I could go on and on. It is exciting and engaging, heartrending and swoony, and everything at once without feeling like one of those cluttered, everything but the kitchen sink plots.
The world building is fantasic; smooth, organic, without the use of clunky infodumps or lengthy passages of exposition. It is well thought out, well-written and easy to understand. The societal structure is one I find myself still thinking about and questioning. I cannot wait to learn more in the sequel.
The love story. Sam. Holy swoon alert. It is not one of those love at first sight romances with electric shocks and long drawn out stares. No, this was a bond that developed through the course of the story. A friendship that blossomed gradually, realistically until... god. The first time they kiss, you guys? I can't. It might have been the hottest kissing scene I've ever read. And it gets better from there. I was a giddy, swoony, pearl clutching mess.
Sam as a character is as three dimensional as it gets. Meadows allowed him to be human, allowed him to be flawed and that made him infinitely more likable than many YA guys. He was scared in some instances, he was weak and depended on Ana to be strong. And she was. Ana is a kick ass heroine who doesn't take anyone's word for anything, who questions things and takes steps--even when they're dangerous, even when they're hard--to find the answers. And she does it alone in most instances.
A truly amazing story, one of the best I've read in a long while. I am almost kicking myself for reading it early as I know I'll be waiting that much longer for the sequel.
Incarnate is released January 31st and I'd encourage everyone to pick it up.(less)
More like 3.5 stars. It was good, and I get the hype, but I have definite issues with it.
I think I've said this before, but I have a love/meh relatio...moreMore like 3.5 stars. It was good, and I get the hype, but I have definite issues with it.
I think I've said this before, but I have a love/meh relationship with John Green. I think he's a fantastic person; I love the vlog brothers and the nerdfighteria and everything he does to uplift and affirm young people. For the most part, I love the characters he writes; it's impossible not to fall for their wit and humor and humanity.
Hazel Grace and Augustus and Isaac and every other character right on down the line in The Fault in Our Stars had those attributes, and I loved every single one of them. They were fantastically three dimensional, beautifully flawed and each one of them drew an emotional response from me. I spent the majority of the book outright laughing, swallowing back tears, or laughing through my tears.
However, for all its beauty and humor and humanity, I felt as though I were reading the same characters I always see from John Green, just placed into a different setting. I think the problem I have with his characters is that they all have the same voice: his. Girl, boy, heartsick, cancer sick--they're all the same fast talking, twenty-dollar word using, existentialist, metaphor loving caricatures of the author himself.
I loved Hazel Grace and Augustus, but all I could see was John Green pulling the strings above them, waving his hands and gripping his hair and talking a mile a minute to his brother Hank. It comes off a bit pretentious at times. Do I think some teenagers--certainly the ones I like to read about--are capable of thoughtful conversations, rife with SAT words and metaphors? Absolutely. Do I think they speak in questioning-the-meaning-of-my-existence soliloquies as often as his characters do? No, I don't.
Additionally, I felt the Van Houten plot device was an unrealistic element (another JG calling card) to a story that didn't need it. The Fault in Our Stars would have been just as meaningful and thought provoking without the trip to Amsterdam (I mean, really?!). I think John Green did himself a disservice with it; he was more than capable of posing the same questions and arriving at the answers in a realistic way that fit the story.
Despite those detractions, The Fault in Our Stars is a beautiful book, one that will stick with me. One that hit home in the places that are still tender. One that, for all I enjoyed it, I will not be reading again. I've been wearing the ending like a bruise all day, and I'll be glad when the ache dulls. (less)
Last spring, Nikki Beckett vanished, sucked into an underworld known as the Everneath, where immortals Feed on the emotions of despairing humans. Now she's returned- to her old life, her family, her friends- before being banished back to the underworld... this time forever.
I've been anticipating Everneath for quite some time. When I first heard the premise, I got so excited and flailed around in impatient agony for months waiting for the time I could have it in my grabby little hands. The premise sounded like exactly the kind of thing I like to read; I'm a sucker for a retelling of greek myths, and Persephone is my favorite. So when I finally got it, I put down whatever I was in the middle of at the time and dove in headfirst. I read the first couple chapters... then put it down, and promptly forgot about it for months. It wasn't until a couple days ago that I even remembered I had it and made myself finish it.
Why? Simply put: it was boring. The writing was boring. The characters were boring. Roughly 80% of the plot was boring. I had to fight to keep from skimming every chapter in its entirety, and really wanted to give up at about halfway through.
The main problem with the story, aside from the overly simple writing, was the lack of emotion. While I know Nikki's emotions were meant to be muted in the beginning, I never felt a connection to her, or from her to any of the other characters. The most emotion I felt was in her interactions with Cole, even though (view spoiler)[I knew she would never end up with him (hide spoiler)]. The friendships and family dynamics were dull and lifeless, and completely two dimensional.
I never felt I knew Nikki, and certainly never understood her. The reasons for going to the Everneath seemed immature and unfounded, and while I sympathized with her reasons for Returning, I never understood why she segregated herself once she was there. Wasn't it supposed to be about making reparations? Why then isolate yourself and push people away when they got too close? Very little of her motives and reactions rang true for me.
Additionally, I am quite sure every reader will have figured out one of the major plot points about 10 chapters before Nikki does. It was painful to read her dismissals and floundering when I already knew the answer, and knew it would bring her to the climax of the story.
In my opinion, much of the story was filler and repetitious and could have been edited out to make a much tighter, more compelling story.
However, as much as I wanted to give up halfway through, I'm glad I finished. The last 20% really picked up and became the engaging, exciting read I expected. If the entire book had read the way the last few chapters did, this would be a very different review. I am looking forward to the next book, where I assume the storyline will be reversed and hopefully more emotionally charged. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
"Where's the fire, Lucy Dervish?" In me. Under my skin.
On the last day of Year 12, Lucy Dervish sets out to find the boy she's obsessed with: Shadow, t...more"Where's the fire, Lucy Dervish?" In me. Under my skin.
On the last day of Year 12, Lucy Dervish sets out to find the boy she's obsessed with: Shadow, the elusive graffiti artist she's been trying to find for months. His pieces speak to her; she feels connected to him through his art, as though she knows him though they've never met.
Or have they?
Through the course of the night, and against her better judgement, Lucy gets paired up with Ed, the drop out going nowhere who once gave her tingles in art class, and with whom she had a first date she's never been able to live down. Ed takes Lucy on a tour of the city, showing her places he knows Shadow's been. Though she is convinced she and Shadow are meant to be together, she can't help feeling a lingering connection to Ed.
Graffiti Moon is written in a beautiful, lyrical style with three alternating (and sometimes overlapping) points of view that somehow succeed in working as a cohesive whole rather than fragmenting the narrative as seen in other novels. It is a quick read, but one that will make you laugh and sigh and swoon. It packs all the style and emotion of Marchetta, but without the weightiness of her intensity.
As a side note: I really wanted to love this book more than I did. Pretty much everyone who read told me it was perfect for me, that it made them think of me while they were reading, that I would die of swoons. And while I did like it very much, I didn't love it the way most everyone else did. So perhaps it was just a case of being hyped too much, or me not being in the proper frame of mind. In either case, I would recommend you read Bri, Michelle, or Kassiah's reviews. (less)
In Fracture, Delaney Maxwell falls through a patch of thin ice into the freezing waters of the lake below. While her friends are eventu...more3 - 3.5 stars.
In Fracture, Delaney Maxwell falls through a patch of thin ice into the freezing waters of the lake below. While her friends are eventually able to pull her out, Delaney remained under the water for eleven minutes--seven minutes past the mark brain damage is known to occur. Despite being in a coma for several days with a bleak prognosis, Delaney wakes perfectly healthy... or so it seems. Her brain scans show massive areas of damage, but she exhibits no symptoms. Except for a strange itching in the center of her brain, and a strong pull toward the dying.
Delaney can't tell anyone about the strange feelings--not her parents, not her best friend, Decker, not anyone... until she meets Troy, who recently woke from a coma with the same strange sensations she has. He's the only one who understands, the only one who shares her ability. But are they merely drawn to the death, or causing it?
I enjoyed reading Fracture. It was very well written with the exception of a few points I'll detail in a minute--very much in the same vein as Before I Fall, as it states in the official blurb. It was an intense and often creepy read, and I highlighted more than a few pretty passages to reread later.
Things that kept it from being a 4 or 5 star read:
- My god, 75% of the names were written in flowy script with a bright purple pen. Delaney Maxwell. Decker Phillips. Carson and Janna Levine. Troy Varga. Not a normal name to be found.
- The pacing was a bit off. The middle was a little meandering, while the ending was very intense and felt a bit abrupt.
- Few of Delaney's parents' reactions were believable or likable.
- I very much liked Decker and Delaney's relationship in the beginning, and was rooting for them all the way through. I definitely felt their struggles and was sick over the misunderstandings, but some things he did did not have adequate explanations / resolutions to redeem him.
And the biggest detraction:
Very few--if any--answers were given. How and why did she survive? Why did she have this power? How did she get it? Why doesn't everyone who emerges from a coma have the same? What will she do with it? How is it that she is not being questioned for any of the deaths she was involved in?
While I did enjoy reading Fracture, I found the ending abrupt and unsatisfying. This was not a paranormal or a fantasy style story; questions were posed that needed answers in order for the story to be resolved, and unfortunately those answers were not provided.
This book was given to me by the author for review, through Nova Ren Suma's Debut Author giveaway series.
I should have done my reviews for Graceling and Fire right after finishing them, because now all I can think to write about them is I LOVE THEM SO MUC...moreI should have done my reviews for Graceling and Fire right after finishing them, because now all I can think to write about them is I LOVE THEM SO MUCH, and WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED TO BITTERBLUE?
Bitterblue picks up (after a very creepy prologue) ten years after Graceling, when Bitterblue is 18 and fully stationed as queen of Monsea, struggling to find her place amid a kingdom just waking up from a 35-year sleep under Leck's rule. She is trapped under mountains of paper and the thumb of her advisors, who preach forward-thinking and the need to forget the atrocities of Leck and move on. Bitterblue wants to be an asset to her Kingdom and help repair the damage her father did, but she is has no understanding of her peoples' lives, wearing castle blinders and never allowed to see her kingdom for herself.
One night, Bitterblue sneaks out of the castle and explores the streets of Monsea on her own. She sees the poverty, the disrepair, and the yearning of her people to remember the time they lost under Leck, and rebuild. She realizes all the information she'd been given about her kingdom has been false. But is she being lied to by the ones she trusts most, or is there some other explanation? And if she is being kept purposely in the dark, to what end?
You know, after 550 pages, I still can't answer that last question. Bitterblue was as complicated and convoluted as any story I've ever read--unnecessarily, indulgently so. Just when I thought I was getting a handle on ONE of the mysterious elements, another layer was added, complicating it further. It was a neverending maze of mysteries to unravel, when really the story at the core would have been very simple to tell.
The simplicity that made Graceling and Fire so lovely, giving the characters freedom to be complex and grow into their full potential, was completely absent in Bitterblue. While I had sympathy for the position she was in and what she was trying to do, mostly I found Bitterblue obtuse and gullible--maybe because I was adrift in a sea of WHAT THE HELL IS EVEN HAPPENING RIGHT NOW?! and was looking to her for insight.
I don't claim to be any expert on writing mysteries, but I think there is a fine line between keeping the characters in the dark and keeping the reader in the dark. The most satisfying mysteries I've read have been those where I was given just enough clues to begin to form my own theories, but not necessarily enough that I expect the main character to develop the same. In Bitterblue there was too much happening for either me as the reader or Bitterblue to untangle all the threads and form a coherent theory.
I don't know if all questions posed were answered. I can tell you I won't be rereading to find out.
Lastly, while I did enjoy seeing more of Po and Katsa, much of it rang false for me. They seemed very different people. And while I understand how Cashore was attempting to tie all three novels together, Fire's introduction felt a little reaching to me. Another layer upon layers and layers of information.
Despite all my rants above, I did mostly enjoy reading this. But reading it directly after finishing Graceling and Fire set expectations that were not met. Perhaps readers who have a greater length of time between reading will enjoy this more. (less)
I was three pages into Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone when I looked up from the page and said to myself--out loud, mind you, because that's the kind of...moreI was three pages into Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone when I looked up from the page and said to myself--out loud, mind you, because that's the kind of person I am (crazy)--"holy moly, I'm going to love this book."
And I was right.
Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone starts off with a sex scene--you know, like you do in YA. Except, rather than being written in the hushed and titillating tones of most stories, when sex is the climax rather than the opener, it is written in a way that is raw and gritty and a little uncomfortable in its reality. And eventually, sad.
Sad in a way that reached inside me and twisted up parts that are still a little tender and bruised. Sad in the way the best writers can punch you in the stomach with how accurately and beautifully they can describe the pain.
Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone tells the story of Rebecca, and how the night of her high school graduation changed everything. It is an almost ethereal kind of murder mystery, switching back and forth between Becca and Amelia's points of view. It keeps you guessing, even when you are as sure as Rebecca who the killer is.
To me, it is the story of how growing up--moving on, moving away, chasing your future--can feel like a death. How the person you are trying to become must first murder the person you used to be.
Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone is a beautifully written story of first love, loss, murder, and the pain of moving on. (less)
Days of Blood and Starlight may well have been my most anticipated release this year. I was captivated...moreThis review also posted at The Midnight Garden.
Days of Blood and Starlight may well have been my most anticipated release this year. I was captivated by the lush and layered world Laini Taylor built in its predecessor, Daughter of Smoke and Bone, and rendered absolutely in love with both Karou and Akiva. The thrill of the tension in their discovery of one another, the sweet ache of their romance as it unfolded, and the crush of sorrow for them both at the end stayed with me the many months I waited for the release of its sequel.
So, to say I had high hopes is an understatement. I couldn’t wait to dive back into Karou and Akiva’s world, and see just how they would mend the rift between them--BECAUSE THEY HAVE TO MEND IT, RIGHT?--and save their world together.
What I got was nothing close to what I expected, but everything the sequel to Daughter of Smoke and Bone needed to be.
“You know how, at the end of Romeo and Juliet, Juliet wakes up in the crypt and Romeo’s already dead? He thought she was dead so he killed himself right next to her?”
[...] “Well, imagine if she woke up and he was still alive, but...” She swallowed, waiting out a tremor in her voice. “But he had killed her whole family. And burned her city. And killed and enslaved her people.”
That’s the gist of where we begin in the sequel. Karou travels through the portal with Razgut, to find Loramendi completely razed, with nothing left of her people but a thick layer of ash on the ground. Devastated, and ashamed by her weakness in falling for Akiva, and inadvertently causing the genocide of her people, Karou finds a small group of chimaera soldiers and joins them in their plan to overthrow the seraphim.
For Akiva’s part, he returns to Eretz heartbroken and guilt-ridden, unable to stomach the increasing violence and ignorance of his seraphim brethren. With his brother Hazael, and sister Liraz, they begin to devise a plan to put an end to the war between seraphim and chimaera.
Laini Taylor’s world building is nothing short of astounding. In this, we are given a detailed look into two different cultures, their infrastructure and their history--all delivered in a way that is flawless, seamless, and without leaving you feeling as though you’ve just been given a fictional history lesson.
But where Taylor really shines in this follow up is in her characters. Where so many others fail to create secondary characters that feel as real as the protagonists, she has a way of creating people that dig under your skin. You connect with them in an instant without really knowing why, until their purpose is revealed. There is no one who is not fully engaged, three dimensional, and capable of drawing an emotion from the reader.
Days of Blood and Starlight is a gritty and violent follow up, lacking any of the romance and off-beat vibrance of its counterpart--and it’s all the better for it. This story is now so much more than an epic romance. It is the story of an endless war, the penance of pain, and the price of peace.
“Mercy, she had discovered, made mad alchemy; a drop of it could dilute a lake of hate.”
It ends, as Daughter of Smoke and Bone did, with a bittersweet kind of hope. And leaves me in the same place I was this time last year--absolutely entranced, and counting the days until the next book is released.(less)
Well-paced and exciting, DEFIANCE kept me turning pages until I ran out of them. Proper review to come, but let me just tell you how refreshing it was...moreWell-paced and exciting, DEFIANCE kept me turning pages until I ran out of them. Proper review to come, but let me just tell you how refreshing it was to read a legitimately bad-ass heroine who was also capable of vulnerability and weakness not confined to the love interest. (less)