Were you a bit weird in school? Or are you still in school and think you're kinda weird? I mean, everyone is weird, but you know that I mean. Maybe yo...moreWere you a bit weird in school? Or are you still in school and think you're kinda weird? I mean, everyone is weird, but you know that I mean. Maybe you didn't fit in, maybe people thought you were a bit of a loser. Maybe you had learning difficulties, were a target for bullies, got into trouble a lot, maybe it seemed like your teachers just didn't like you. Maybe you sucked at reading and were even diagnosed with dyslexia. Or ADHD.
Well, don't worry. Truth is, you're actually most likely a child of the gods with secret powers that enable you to zap those bullies and fulfill your true destiny. Screw school, you've got bigger things to deal with anyway.
Lol, this book is amazing. My only regret is that I didn't have it when I was twelve years old because I would have read this until it was falling apart in my hands. Every insecure kid (so basically every kid) should read The Lightning Thief. I would want my hypothetical kids of the future to read this book. It's the ultimate childhood fantasy - discovering that everything people labelled as "weird" or negative about you is actually caused by your secret awesomeness. Pretty perfect message, if you ask me.
I know, I know - this is plain old childhood wish fulfillment at its finest. But who cares? The best kids books are all about wish fulfillment to some extent and it's not like Percy Jackson doesn't have his fair share of enemies and heartache. It's the same idea that we all loved to buy into. The orphaned and neglected Harry Potter discovering he is a wizard. The nerdy loser-ish Peter Parker developing special abilities and becoming Spiderman. Children in the middle of WWII discovering a secret world through a wardrobe door in which they reign as royalty. Percy Jackson finding out he is the son of a god and has his own super powers.
On top of the powerful message, this is a fast-paced exciting fantasy story full of friendships, Greek mythology, magic, mystery, bad guys and girls, and constant adventure. I enjoyed it now, despite me being a good ten years older than the target audience. I would have enjoyed it even more ten years ago. You should definitely go read this. Then, when you're done, give it to a kid to read too.
It's amazing that I've never found time to read this book before. I have seen the movie, but it was years ago and I only really remember the one thing...moreIt's amazing that I've never found time to read this book before. I have seen the movie, but it was years ago and I only really remember the one thing that everyone remembers:
The real strength of this book is that is just ticks every box imaginable. It's a fairy tale, full of action, romance and revenge, and it has that timeless quality that the best fairy tales seem to carry. It was published in the 1970s but it feels like it should be a thousand years old, passed down from generation to generation. It's non-stop adventure, comedy gold and full of some of the most memorable characters I've ever had the pleasure of reading about.
Goldman's writing style for this novel works so surprisingly well. For one, it's such an unusual idea to write a retelling of a story by a fictional author - Goldman claims his father read him the S. Morgenstern classic as a child and then proceeds to tell us the "abridged" version with all the good parts. It's strange how well his constant sidenotes actually add to the story, rather than take us out of it. I think maybe it's the little kids inside most readers who remember the magic of being read a story as a child. Because while this is a fantasy story with magic and princesses, it's also a bittersweet tale about how a father introduced his son to the world of stories.
And I found it hilarious. I want you to know how rare it is for me to find a book that successfully combines silly humour with dramatic action and adventure. I've struggled with authors like Terry Pratchett because I felt the humour took away any serious investment I may have had in the story. But this book quietly mocks itself on every page and it works so well. At first I wondered if I would be rolling my eyes at the whole notion of Buttercup as "the most beautiful woman in the world", but Goldman rolls his eyes for us with the comic portrayal of obsession with beauty and true love.
The characters here are so rich and vivid that it's hard to imagine that they don't exist somewhere in an alternate fantasy world. Everyone remembers and loves Inigo Montoya and the pretty-faced Westley, but I was surprised by Buttercup. My memory of the movie seems to have done her a disservice because I remembered her as a typical, beautiful princess. But no, Buttercup is fierce and brave. She might be silly and naive at the start but she grows and develops with age. She doesn't sit back and let things happen to her, which I like.
Honestly, this was a delight to read. I can't believe I waited so long.
I'm not sure what to say about Heir of Fire. Perhaps I don't need to say anything beyond: it took me months to read it. And I am the kind of crazy pas...moreI'm not sure what to say about Heir of Fire. Perhaps I don't need to say anything beyond: it took me months to read it. And I am the kind of crazy passionate reader that finishes good books in a day or two. It's been a while since a book took me longer than a week to read.
So basically: I liked but had issues with Throne of Glass. I absolutely LOVED Crown of Midnight. But this book... this book was so... bloody... sloooooowwwwwww.
I wanted to DNF it so bad. I kept moving it between my "currently reading" and "on hold" shelves. I kept wondering if I could possibly just skip the last two thirds of this book and somehow pick the story up in next installment (I was informed that I could not). I have invested so much time and love in this series and these characters that I simply had to make myself finish... but holy shit, it was such a struggle.
The majority of this book?
So Maas tries to experiment with a bit of something different here and it neither a) works, nor b) fills me with much confidence for the state of the rest of the series. I'm seeing the way this whole thing is going...
Book one was fantasy-lite with a simplistic plot, filled with characters lacking in any real development to distinguish them from others in the genre, but it was fast-paced, sugary entertainment. Book two cranked it up several notches; here the characters became more fleshed out and nuanced, the plot was equally engaging but more complex and clever, and there was way more badassery. No complaints at all. And then we arrive at book three.
Heir of Fire feels like an attempt to be more sophisticated. It is well-written, contains several stories told through constantly changing POVs, and it is more than a hundred pages longer. And it is far far slower. Maas sacrifices everything deliciously fast-paced and compelling about her series in the first half so we can be introduced to a whole new cast of characters we don't care about, be taken through different (all boring) perspectives, and emerge feeling like we've read an extremely long filler book.
Dorian's new romance only served to remind me why I found him unbearably boring in the first book. Celaena - now in Wendlyn - meets a whole set of new people who failed to make any kind of impression on me. Even Chaol - whom I absolutely loved in both other books - lost his charm somewhere amid his own boring plot line. And just when I thought I might be starting to get invested in one of the stories, the chapter would end and I would leave the story of interest for at least fifty pages, guaranteeing that I would no longer care when we finally returned.
The most annoying thing about this book is how it wasn't even consistently slow. We'd get tiny little tidbits of awesome that would last a mere two or three pages and I would sit up a bit straighter and think "This is it. Finally we're getting to the good stuff..." until I realised it was just a false alarm and the story was still boring.
If I'm to give credit where it's due, I will say that I like the way Maas portrays friendships and makes them as important - if not more important - than the romantic relationships. It's an area of YA so often neglected and I find it especially refreshing to see a platonic relationship between young male and female characters crafted so well.
I will be reading the next book just because I have to give it a shot, but my expectations have been significantly lowered.
Shit seriously just went down. Oh wow, where do I start with this sequel? I wasn't even sure I was going to read it when I recently finished Throne of...more
Shit seriously just went down. Oh wow, where do I start with this sequel? I wasn't even sure I was going to read it when I recently finished Throne of Glass and found it entertaining but a poor excuse for fantasy. You want to know what Crown of Midnight felt like? It was like the author listened to every piece of criticism I could have thrown at the first book, listened to everything I loved and everything that irritated me... and then wrote a perfect kind of book. The kind I wanted the first one to be; the kind I hadn't dared to hope she might produce in this sequel. There was more action, more nastiness, more character development, more surprises, more complications, more sexy, no love triangle - all of this and a well-placed, never-saw-it-coming twist. Ms Maas, consider me impressed.
Crown of Midnight takes a huge step away from the tame romantic/bitchy drama of its predecessor and opens up a story that is a bigger, bloodier and meaner than I think many readers will be expecting. Celaena gets to fully explore all aspects of what it means to be an assassin in this book; she is tested constantly and you can see her growing and changing and learning as the story progresses. And this story is one tumultuous journey of extremely high ups and unbelievably low downs with Celaena taking relationships to all new levels and watching others fall apart. Old enemies resurface and we start to get a glimpse of just how big the picture Maas is painting for us actually is.
One of the strengths of this book is having no idea how it's going to end. You might think that's a given, but Throne of Glass introduced us to a plot that was fairly easy to see mapped out. We are told of the challenges Celaena must compete in and win, we know that's what the book is moving towards, and it isn't too much of a leap to assume that (one way or another) Celaena is going to emerge victorious. Not in this book. This book starts with a blank slate, any mysteries or troubles that are to come are completely unknown to us - so every turn the plot takes is a surprise and every surprise is thrilling. I can't wrap my head around just how much better this sequel is. Maas has already grown as a writer and storyteller, making me wonder what she can possibly have in store for us next.
The characters are also so much better developed in this book. Maas is brave enough here to allow the main characters to make mistakes, do the wrong things and test our ability to like them. Well, I don't know about you, but the new dimensions to their personalities, their faults and weaknesses, only served to make me like them more. Dorian surprised me most of all. In Throne of Glass, Dorian feels like something of a plot tool, a pretty little obstacle to Celaena and Chaol's romance. The scenes with him felt like filler between the parts I was actually waiting for. But not in Crown of Midnight! In this, Dorian emerges as an interesting character with secrets of his own; he makes sacrifices for the people he loves and his importance to the bigger story starts to become apparent.
Throne of Glass... Romance, love triangle, pretty dresses, one-dimensional characters, little action...
Crown of Midnight... Badassery, twists, nastiness, betrayal, more action, magic, secrets...
If you were so-so about the first one and considering *maybe* reading this, you have my thumbs up.(less)
It feels like Throne of Glass has been a book I've been thinking about maybe reading for a million years. The reviews and ratings from my GR friends o...moreIt feels like Throne of Glass has been a book I've been thinking about maybe reading for a million years. The reviews and ratings from my GR friends on this book are very mixed and I can easily see why after finishing this entertaining but disappointingly tame and romance-y young adult fantasy. Throne of Glass is like Shadow and Bone round two. The premise is awesome for both: full of hardcore warriors/assassins, royal/noble secrets and scandals, a touch of magic... but each one, though entertaining, quickly hangs up its weapons and becomes far more concerned with dresses, bitchiness and whether or not that sexy dude thinks the MC is hot (he does).
This book is to the fantasy genre what Twilight is to vampires; though I have to stress that it is a fast-paced, compelling read and Maas does tame fantasy as well as it can be done. Despite my frequent eyerolls and disappointment at the romantic turn the story took, the pages seemed to fly by. I tend to read several books at once; I'll spend a few chapters with one and then mix it up by moving on to another, but Throne of Glass managed to hold my attention from start to finish with no time for interference from another book. This, in itself, was quite an achievement.
Celaena Sardothien is the star of this show. A former assassin turned prisoner, she spends every day in the salt mines prison of Endovier. Having given up on hoping for freedom, she wishes only for death. That is, until one day The Crown Prince (Dorian) and his Captain of the Guard (Chaol) arrive with a proposition for her - fight in a competition, win, become the King's Champion for four years, and finally earn her freedom. It's an offer Celaena can't refuse. But, of course, things aren't that simple. Some dark evil is at work inside the King's castle; something that is killing off the competitors one by one. Plus, there's the handsome Prince and moody Captain to deal with too.
I don't think Celaena is in the King's palace for a day before she starts obsessing over her looks, her new dresses and whether or not either or both of the aforementioned men find her attractive. She still manages to have more badassery than Alina in Shadow and Bone and the book is, in my opinion, nowhere near as boring as Grave Mercy. But, still, I couldn't help being like "BUT you said ASSASSIN!" when she's there swanning around in front of the mirror. I like that she's "feminine" (whatever you want to take that to mean) as well as a brutal killer, but there's only so much high school changing rooms behaviour I can take. I think there's an excellent quote, a question that Celaena wonders to herself, that basically sums up what was running through my head for a lot of this novel:
"How had she gone from the most feared prisoner in Endovier to this sappy mess?"
How, indeed. But, that being said, I really enjoyed the banter between her and Chaol. And Dorian wasn't bad either. I've said it before but I'll say it again for the benefit of this review: I actually don't mind love triangles when they're convincing and both candidates for the MC's heart are on equal footing so there's some tension over who they're going to end up with. Though I may have to do all kinds of evil things - like... stomping around my bedroom angrily or letting library books become overdue - if Celaena doesn't end up with Chaol. Ms Maas, you've been warned.
So, yes, I will be reading Crown of Midnight, god help me. I'm hoping it will please me more than the sequel to Shadow and Bone did, but the ending of this does make me think the second book could have more action and nastiness (yes!). I think you can enjoy this book if you go into it knowing exactly what you're letting yourself in for. It isn't high fantasy. It isn't mind-blowing. But it is kinda fun *grins*(less)
I might write a proper review for this sometime soon but, in short, the second half is MUCH better than the first. I found the first half of the book...moreI might write a proper review for this sometime soon but, in short, the second half is MUCH better than the first. I found the first half of the book to be slow and tedious; I even considered not finishing at one point, but I'm glad I did. Still, not as good as Anna Dressed in Blood.(less)
The more Gaiman I read, the more I understand why people are so caught up in the magic he wields. Because that is basically what he does. He's not an...moreThe more Gaiman I read, the more I understand why people are so caught up in the magic he wields. Because that is basically what he does. He's not an author, he's a magician, painting magic pictures of rich, exciting worlds that come to life so quickly. Worlds that somehow seem complexly developed after just two chapters of Gaiman's writing. Gaiman is simply a master storyteller. He creates moods that permeate entire novels and, whether you happen to be reading his adult or young adult works, he makes you feel like a child wandering through a wardrobe into a world of possibility, or perhaps slipping through the invisible barrier of platform 9 3/4 and discovering the world is more than you could ever have imagined. What Gaiman does with his magic, is build timeless fairytales that speak to people of all ages.
Stardust is just one example of Gaiman's creativity. It is nothing like the hauntingly nostalgic The Ocean at the End of the Lane or the eerily fantastical subterranean London of Neverwhere or the ghostly coming of age story in The Graveyard Book, but it has the stamp of Gaiman all over it. His style is present from the very first chapter when a young man falls madly in lust with a Faerie girl and his passion results in the birth of Tristran Thorn. The tale only gets wilder, more exciting and more adventurous from there. A grown Tristran attempts to win the hand of his love by crossing the wall into the land of Faerie to retrieve a fallen star. But, as these things go, it doesn't turn out to be a simple task and, if Tristran even makes it back alive, he is certain to be a very different man to the one who left.
However, as myself and others have done, it is very easy to feel the need to compare Gaiman's books to popular children's classics (I started the first paragraph by doing so) but Stardust is not a children's book. At a stretch, it could be called a young adult book but I'm tempted to play on the safe side and call it "adult". There's a sex scene in chapter one that is quite graphic. Not fifty shades of faerie, but still quite graphic. Plus there's some violence and gore that may put you off if you are looking for a light, fluffy fantasy read. In fact, I've read a bunch of GR reviews where the reader hated it because they'd read the blurb comparing it to The Princess Bride and The Neverending Story and seemed struck down in horror by the sex and violence. So, I'm warning you.
The only thing more I can say about Gaiman is that I'm becoming a crazy fangirl and he needs to write more things and faster because soon I will have caught up with everything he's written. If you haven't yet, take a chance on him. (less)
When I was a little kid, I used to love Alice in Wonderland. I mean, it had a talking cat, a singing mouse and daily tea parties - what more could on...more When I was a little kid, I used to love Alice in Wonderland. I mean, it had a talking cat, a singing mouse and daily tea parties - what more could one possibly ask for? But what I saw strangely seemed to make less and less sense to me as I got older. The more I returned to that old story, the more the whimsical brilliance seemed to dim and be replaced with a random series of bizarre occurrences without any sense to them whatsoever. There is no real plot, the closest to anything of that kind being in the numerous mini-plots running throughout that seem entirely disconnected. I don't hate that book, it holds a certain magic that books we love as young kids never seem to lose. But I no longer consider it a favourite and I no longer feel the need to return to it. Alice in Wonderland remains to this day a source of complete bafflement for me. It is either the most pretentious piece of madness ever written or a bizarre mask covering the face of some hidden genius that goes beyond anything I could ever hope to understand.
Reading A Corner of White was somewhat like falling down the rabbit hole. Quirky and eccentric characters all being quirky and eccentric in a quirky and eccentric setting with absolutely no plot. This is a character-driven, bizarre world-driven, plotless novel. The goodreads description gives the appearance at first glance of a wildly imaginative plot that is going to sweep you off your feet. But look a little closer. "A mesmerising story of two worlds; the cracks between them, the science that binds them and the colours that infuse them." When reading that description again after tackling this book, I see that it tells the complete truth. This is a story about two worlds - our own world and the Kingdom of Cello - it tells us all about those worlds, we get a very vivid picture... and I was practically jumping up and down with excitement at the awesome story which must surely follow. And never did. I've read a few painful books like this (that, it must be said, many others loved) like Feed and The Book of Blood and Shadow, that are very well-written and paint a fantastic picture of the setting. And I wait for the plot to get going... and I wait. And wait. And wait.
Having an interesting world and interesting characters isn't enough for me. They can't just stand around trying to look interesting while nothing else is happening. Perhaps if you like unusual books that focus on elements like world-building and pointless, if occasionally funny, dialogue, then you will really enjoy this. For others, it's going to seem like hard work. Because what Moriarty has done here was always going to be a hard sell. She has written a quiet, slow-moving contemporary novel about two characters' coming-of-age stories and set it in a bizarre fantasy world. Personally, I don't think it works. I felt let down that the weird and wonderful Kingdom of Cello didn't achieve it's full potential and the characters weren't doing anything interesting enough to make me care about them. Except being quirky, of course. And, on that subject, they all seemed a little too similar in their quirkiness. They reminded me of John Green characters in some ways. I'm aware that the comparisons I've made in this review have all been with very popular books and authors, so perhaps I will find myself in the minority again on this one.
Smarter and more patient readers than myself may be able to dig through the madness and see a pattern to it, find sense amidst the chaos. Just like some people claim that Alice in Wonderland contains symbolism alluding to the philosophy of logic and mathematics. For example, the concept of limits, different base notations of numbers, semantic values of sentences when inversed ( "Why, you might just as well say that 'I see what I eat' is the same thing as 'I eat what I see'!"), and the concept of numbers existing separately from the noun (can the number 2 exist alone, without dependence on a real world object? can you define "2" without using the word or holding up an example?). But I never did care for those things.
Quirkiness is all good and well, but this book was 400 pages of it and nothing else that appealed to me. It wasn't fun, it was a real struggle to finish. I'll stick to reading the author's Ashbury High series in the future.(less)
This rating might come as a surprise after I was so excited to get reacquainted with the Darkling in my early status update. However, if it hadn't be...more This rating might come as a surprise after I was so excited to get reacquainted with the Darkling in my early status update. However, if it hadn't been for the scenes with the Darkling, this book would have probably only received one star - it's only his characterisation, his different layers and, let's face it, his sexiness that convinced me to rate this at two stars. Maybe I could stretch to 2.5 if I close my eyes and picture the Darkling like this:
I usually approach the sequels to three star reads with some trepidation but I confess that my hopes were high for this one. Despite the flaws present throughout Shadow and Bone, I found it wildly entertaining in parts and a very easy page-turner. I had also hoped that Alina would mature and grow once she harnessed her power and realised that some things are more important than beauty and looks - this realisation never came. In fact, I believe the relationship between beauty and power to be even more apparent in this sequel and I struggle to sympathise with a girl who discovers she is incredibly powerful but still can't see her worth beyond her plain appearance.
This I just mentioned is nothing new and was a problem for me in the first installment which has unfortunately carried over into the second. However, the main difference between the two that overrides everything else and is way bigger than my problems with the beauty issue - which I may have otherwise been able to look past - is that I found this second book incredibly boring. Or I did at least after the first quarter where the Darkling disappears for a huge chunk of the book (honestly, he is the only interesting thing about this series). Gone was the fun I had while reading book one, gone was the exciting mystery and sexual tension. This book introduced several new characters who I never came to care about, whilst also bringing Alina Shallowkova and whiny Mal back into the spotlight.
Mal is a dull character. He is whiny, uninteresting and I can see no reason why anyone would think the sun shines out of his backside... yes, even Alina. Though, saying that, he is radiantly gorgeous and I suppose Alina doesn't need any more of a reason to put someone on a pedestal. I was so bored by their relationship that I couldn't even summon the energy for my standard eyeroll reserved for fictional couples that are annoying. I'm not even sure what Mal does for most of this book aside from standing by and being jealous of every man that Alina talks to.
I admit that I was far less engaged for the second half of the book, so if someone would like to come and tell me that something awesome happened while I was away floating on a cloud of not caring, that really wouldn't surprise me. Most of it was read without interest, some bits were even skimmed. I think it's fair to say that I won't be returning for the next book. Such a shame because I was genuinely very excited for Siege and Storm.(less)
I really, really wanted to like this book. It sounds stupid but I actually feel slightly guilty at how disappointed I was with it and I think the mai...more I really, really wanted to like this book. It sounds stupid but I actually feel slightly guilty at how disappointed I was with it and I think the main reason is because the author is a British student of the same age as me and, as soon as I learned that, I really wanted her to succeed. I really wanted Shannon to be the next J.K.Rowling, as some are calling her. I really wanted her debut to take me out of this world and leave me desperate to get my hands on the next installment. However, I just didn't think The Bone Season was anything special or original. In my opinion, it shows definite potential for Shannon's future as a writer but the story is a regurgitated version of one that has been told countless times.
The Bone Season is a story I feel like I've read before in various other fantasy-lite novels - the one that first came to mind being Shadow and Bone. The author takes this familiar story and, basically, complicates it. She stirs it in a pot with a bunch of new names for old things ("voyants" for those with clairvoyance, amongst other new terms), slang that left my head spinning even though myself and the author are British (I ended up having to consult my Welsh friend), and world-building that sounds unique and complex because of the fancy terms floating around... but really isn't. What this is, for me, is an example of taking light, easily digestible fantasy fiction that is filled with uncomplicated excitement and romance, and turning it into something long-winded and overly descriptive just so you can attempt to call it original.
There are apparently seven books in this series and I'm betting only three or four will really be needed. This first book felt soooo long because it was so fleshed out with lengthy descriptions and seemingly pointless information. Plus, there is so much tell and so little show. Particularly in the beginning it felt almost as if the protagonist (Paige) was reading me a textbook on the world, people's abilities and Floxy (flavoured oxygen). Huge chunks of this novel are dedicated to info-dumping and the execution of these sections feels really awkward, like a movie cutting off in the middle to bring up a page of text that gives you some background information. It wasn't smoothly incorporated into the story.
The plot follows Paige who is a dreamwalker in the year 2059. Paige, and other types of clairvoyants, commit a crime just by existing. When Paige accidentally uses her abilities and kills someone, she is sent to a voyant prison which is controlled by creatures called Rephaim who want to use the voyants abilities for their own gain. She is assigned to a keeper called simply "Warden", a mysterious and dangerous dude who stares at her from the day she arrives (guess what happens, go on, guess). I feel myself once again comparing this to Shadow and Bone and the way Alina's powers are discovered by the Grisha and she is forced into their world and taught to harness her powers. The glowering looks and sexiness of the Darkling are also present here but his name is Warden instead. The Bone Season isn't terrible but I find it very surprising that words like "original" are being thrown around when it feels like this story and these characters are recycled versions straight out of many other paranormal novels.
This book, in my opinion, is simply a glorified, overcomplicated retelling of any other light, fluffy fantasy. But the descriptions, info-dumping and general wordiness do not make this a deeper and more meaningful read, but rather they made the book dull and tiresome for me. As much as I wanted to like it, it was incredibly easy to find distractions and every time it was a struggle to come back to it. The romance goes down a predictable route, as does most of the book. I feel bad for saying it, but this just wasn't for me at all and I doubt I will read the rest of the series.
Notes on the slang Paraffin is Kerosene (paraffin lamp, paraffin stove, etc.) Cokum - Google will probably be useless to you on this one. It means cunning/shrewd.(less)
Please note: this is not really a review. In fact, this may be my most useless non-review to date (there have been a few) and is actually better desc...more Please note: this is not really a review. In fact, this may be my most useless non-review to date (there have been a few) and is actually better described as a random mish-mash of my thoughts and feelings on this book. "Aren't all your reviews like that, Emily?" I hear you cry, but alas, the random incoherentness is somewhat even more pronounced in this one.
You know, I've wondered ever since Shadow and Bone was released last year whether I would fall into the camp of gushing, never-ending love for it... or find myself sat sipping kvas with the other sceptics and laughing over the preposterous idea that we could ever get drunk on it. I was prepared for it to go either way. However, I find myself uselessly sitting somewhere in the middle, lonesomely twiddling my thumbs and pondering all the different things I liked but didn't love and disliked but didn't hate. How very annoying of me. I'm sat here going through my mental list of the book's faults whilst simultaneously trying to figure out what organs and/or limbs I can get away with exchanging for an ARC of Siege and Storm.
I mean, I didn't like Alina that much. She was okay. She was fine. But you know something is wrong when the heroine is merely "okay" and "fine". I found her a touch (a touch too much) on the wimpy side for my liking, she was too eager to play the damsel in distress on multiple occasions but I've heard she gets better in the sequel. Let's hope so. Admittedly, I only decided to read this now because of the hype surrounding the sequel so I have my fingers crossed that Siege and Storm can rid us of the problems I have with this series.
Especially the fact that this is quite a poor excuse for fantasy. Limited world-building, light fantasy-style background which is heavily diluted by romance, mean girls, bitchiness and seemingly useless tidbits of information about noble life. This is like the chick-lit, high school version of fantasy, filled with characters who are supposedly hardcore warriors but spend much of the novel keeping their hardcore warrior hands disappointingly clean. The roughest, most gruesome bit of this story is perhaps when a poor stag gets murdered. Which is really just depressing all round. Thankfully, though, the novel's large amount of tame scenes did provide me with some entertainment and a few laughs. There is a certain base addictive quality to Bardugo's writing that makes it incredibly easy to digest and even necessary to read on.
Another negative - sorry - is the rather silly obsession with looks in the novel. For one, I couldn't give a damn about the various vanities of the Grisha women; for another, it annoyed me how Alina seemed to equate her worth with her looks from the very beginning. She denies her power can possibly exist because she isn't a luminous ball of hotness like the others. But, as with good old plain Bella Swan, everyone falls in love with her anyway. To be honest, that is an unfair comparison because Alina - even with her faults - is a far more interesting character than Bella. But still, get a grip on yourself. And douse yourself with some badassery so you can stop being such a wimp because so far this world is looking awfully like the disappointing one of Grave Mercy.
Also - is there a love triangle here? I'm not even certain what's happening. I kinda hope there is. Ha, bet you weren't expecting that! But, you know, Darkling is really quite a sexy word, don't you think? And maybe Ms Bardugo hasn't got the whole fantasy thing down in this book but she sure knows exactly what she's doing with his characterisation. He's dangerous, he's sexy, he likes to make out with you in secret rooms, he's arrogant with a little side order of hidden feelings to kick you right in the ovaries and the heart at the same time. I suppose Mal is the safer and more sensible option and the one I'd be telling Alina to go for if this was the real world and she was a friend of mine. But - yay! - this isn't the real world and the complexity of the Darkling attracts me. The way I feel about him is similar to how I felt about Ido in Eona but hopefully this won't have a similar conclusion.
Thank you if you actually read my non-review. If anyone knows how I can acquire an ARC of the sequel, please tell me and I shall be forever grateful. (less)