I was one of that annoying minority who didn't really like The Winner's Curse. I mean, it was okay, but proved onceMarie Rutkoski has upped her game.
I was one of that annoying minority who didn't really like The Winner's Curse. I mean, it was okay, but proved once again that most writers of YA fantasy focus on the flirtations and romancing and forget about pretty much everything else. However, the way that book ended had me curious about the potential new directions of book two...
I was right to be curious. I was right to take my chances on the sequel.
This book just has everything. I would liken it to what Maas did when she took us from the romantic, fantasy-lite Throne of Glass to the clever, action-packed Crown of Midnight. Rutkoski gets vicious in this book. Kestrel must make the hardest of decisions, sacrifice people for the "greater good", and outwit the emperor and his armies. There are no such things as friends and allies in Kestrel's world anymore; the only person she can rely on is herself.
It's amazing how much more I liked the relationship between Kestrel and Arin when it was slipped into the background behind all the treason, revenge and backstabbing going on. The moments when they did meet had more love/hate tension and I found myself angsting over what would happen between them. Because this second book is very clearly not a romance and I felt the complete lack of guarantee in a happy ending on every single page.
The Winner's Crime is much more tightly-plotted and full of genuine surprises than the first book. I could hardly look away as it zipped along at a wonderful pace, twisting one way and then another. I like how Kestrel is a complex heroine and not wholly good; she's allowed to be selfish and make choices we don't necessarily agree with.
I also feel like we got a better sense of Kestrel's intelligence and ability in this book. Now she has bigger concerns than her romance with Arin and high society life, we get to see her plotting, being damn sneaky, and outwitting the emperor. It gave me a new kind of respect for her and I can't wait to see where her story goes.
One thing I like a lot about these books is the way each ending has promised a very different kind of story. I only picked up this book because the ending of the last seemed to suggest an entirely new setting and array of problems... and the end of this one does the same. I can already see that the third book will bring something very different.
"There ain't nobody in the world like book people."
It's a bit embarrassing to admit how emotional this book made me. I'm not even a fan of Zevin's wo"There ain't nobody in the world like book people."
It's a bit embarrassing to admit how emotional this book made me. I'm not even a fan of Zevin's work; I quite liked the concept behind Elsewhere but not the execution, and I pretty much hated All These Things I've Done. But this book is just so warm and funny and bittersweet. It speaks to the thing inside me that has always loved books, will always love books, and has allowed my life to be swept in certain directions by my love for literature.
A.J. Fikry is one of my favourite kinds of characters - he's cynical and grumpy, but simultaneously witty, clever, funny and lovable. This is essentially the tale of his life after the death of his beloved wife. He must somehow pick up the pieces of his world and continue managing his bookstore, while all he really wants to do is drink away his problems.
One day, A.J. receives an unexpected package that is guaranteed to completely change his life. Like many great books, his life twists in a strange new direction, introducing him to new people and new ways of thinking. He soon begins to realise that he still has many things worth living for.
Woven with allusions to many works of literature - especially short stories - this novel should resonate with many book lovers. Those of us who have been truly affected, influenced, changed or - dare I be so melodramatic - even saved by them. I don't know if Zevin intended to make a point about the death of the bookstore and physical books in favour of ereaders, but I found myself feeling a little melancholy as time went by and more people stopped buying physical books. Though ultimately relieved, as I realised how important bookstores and paper books still are to many people.
Whether this book is for you or not, I cannot say. It is both funny and serious, happy and sad, light and dark... but I wouldn't have it any other way. ...more
Her dreams were a tangled mess of blood and shuddering trees.
This book is damn near perfect.
I just don't know how to review this wonderful, creepy, gHer dreams were a tangled mess of blood and shuddering trees.
This book is damn near perfect.
I just don't know how to review this wonderful, creepy, gory, clever, twisty fairy tale and be able to do it justice. How do you sell a book to people when it does so many different things and does them all marvelously? I just cannot wait for Cruel Beauty fans to read this.
Crimson Bound is a story full of villains who are allowed to love and heroines who are allowed to murder and be selfish. Rosamund Hodge does not do simple characters - they are all tangled up in a bizarre web of friendship, fear, love, hate, desire and loyalty. You can never quite be sure which characters are trustworthy - if, indeed, any of them are.
If you like fairy tale retellings to stay close to the originals, then Hodge's imaginative new worlds and mythology may not be for you. I, however, love it. This tale is woven with nods towards the Red Riding Hood story we all know but it wanders far from it into brand new, extremely creepy territory. There are no wolves in this story, at least not in the literal sense, but there are things far far worse.
In the darkest shadows of the wood stands a house. The walls are caulked with blood. The roof is thatched with bones. Within that bloody house lived Old Mother Hunger, the first and eldest of all forestborn.
As with Cruel Beauty, this book is marketed as YA but I would stress that it is probably for the older end of that age group or adults. There are plenty of gruesome battles, sexy scenes and things younger teens might find disturbing.
Now for the story; but I cannot tell you too much because you deserve to discover everything in this book on your own. Anyway, the story is about Rachelle who carelessly strays from the forest path and meets a forestborn who marks her. The rules are thus: a marked human has three days to kill someone and become a slave to the forest's power or else die. Rachelle makes her choice and will spend the rest of her life paying the price.
Every day for the last three years, she had thought she deserved to die. She still didn’t want to. She wanted to live with every filthy desperate scrap of her heart.
Now older, Rachelle is haunted by her guilt and propelled by the dark power of the forest and the evil Devourer that hides at its centre. Feeling like she has nothing left to lose, she will do anything to stop the Devourer from seizing control of the human world with his darkness. Little does she know that there is always something left to lose.
It's just wonderful. She's just wonderful. And complex and selfish at times, but always badass:
“Speechless?” asked Erec. “Don’t be ashamed. I bring all ladies to that state sooner or later.” “Too bad for you,” she said, “I’m not a lady."
The book twists about all over the place, never letting you guess how it's going to end. The tension never leaves and the author is just evil enough to convince you that any and every character you love might die.
I swear my heart was literally racing for the last quarter... so much awesome, so many perfect quotes that I won't put in this review because they should be discovered at exactly that point in the story. It feels like I've been waiting forever for this book and it was oh so worth it.
"I shall be a carrion monster, he whispered into the coral shell of her ear, an organ of women he found unspeakably moving in its soft, whorling vort"I shall be a carrion monster, he whispered into the coral shell of her ear, an organ of women he found unspeakably moving in its soft, whorling vortex, and which always seemed to him to be an invitation to adventure."
I guess I'm inviting haters and trolls by reviewing this much-loved Booker Prize winner, but the eye rolls started somewhere halfway through chapter one and they just wouldn't stop.
It makes me feel bad saying this about a book which was clearly inspired by the author's father's own experiences on the Burma death railway. How can you criticise a work that sets out to tell such an horrific story of war and violence? But this book is drowning itself in its own pretentious language. A woman's ear is an invitation to adventure? Give me a break.
If the story had been less dressed-up with fancy trimmings, in my opinion it would have been better, had no Man Booker Prize, and sold far fewer copies. Which is sad, really. But I guess when you strip it down, The Narrow Road to the Deep North is yet another war story with plenty of gore and sadness; it achieves differentiation by waxing poetic about life, love and ears.
And: "He found her nipples wondrous." Oh, come on. They. Are. Nipples. They might be a lot of things, but... "wondrous"? Forgive me if I'm somewhat skeptical. Or perhaps I'm just jealous and wish I had wondrous nipples; I didn't realise it was something I was missing out on until now.
Then there's Dorrigo Evans who, despite the flowery language and metaphors floating around, feels like a Gary Stu worthy of some YA books I've read. I just don't buy into his self-deprecation. He's like one of those people who is humble just so he can wait around to be applauded for being humble. Like he fancies himself as a modern Socrates: "I know nothing. Therefore I'm more intelligent than you because I know that I know nothing." Let's all step out of the way and make room for Dorrigo's lack of ego.
The Man Booker Prize is such a huge award that I'm always intrigued by its winners, but I find myself liking them less and less. Whatever they're being judged on is clearly not something I'm looking to read.
Oh well, there are thousands of positive reviews of this book if you want to go see why you should love it.
It's time for that approximately biannual event once again - Stephen King has released a new novel. And it's a good one.
I never know how to approach aIt's time for that approximately biannual event once again - Stephen King has released a new novel. And it's a good one.
I never know how to approach a review for a Stephen King book. I use a different tone when writing about different kind of novels - classics and literary fiction usually get one style of review, fantasy/paranormal and YA (genre fiction, basically) get another. But where does Mr King fit?
The "problem" with Stephen King is that he writes such engrossing, imaginative pageturners that manage to hook you, creep you out and make you think. Every book release jumps to the top of the pop fiction charts. Which, in theory, is great; except that Mr King often gets overlooked as a truly great writer, which he is.
With this latest book, King takes one of the oldest of the old ideas and breathes new life into it. The underlying theme of this book is that timeless question: what lies after death? Is there anything beyond this world? Is there a way for the living to ever find out before their time comes?
Using his familiar talent for creating characters that feel entirely real, King at first introduces us to a small town and religious community in New England. Into this unremarkable place comes a new minister, Charles Jacobs; his arrival sparks a series of events that will change the lives of both our narrator (Jamie Morton) and numerous other unfortunate people for decades to come.
The story spans many years of Jamie's life; from his childhood in New England, to his teenage and young adult years as a musician, and his subsequent heroin addiction. Charles Jacobs will come back into his life many times and propel Jamie towards a ever more disturbing truth.
This book starts as a contemporary drama type book that creates complex characters, looks at themes of religion and family, and builds up an interesting three-dimensional portrait of a small community. But as the novel moves along, it becomes darker and creepier. It took me a while to understand why so many people thought this book was so scary and disturbing... but it was worth waiting for.
Unsettling. That is how I would describe this story. It's not a tale of traditional monsters that hunt you down in the dark; in fact, it plays on the very real fears of everyone. It takes questions everyone has asked themselves and creates something horrifying out of it.
I know this is a heavy claim to make, but I think this might be one of my favourite Stephen King novels....more
Disclaimer: The author of this book was a member of my book club in college and never complained when I coerced him into watching bad cop shows and eaDisclaimer: The author of this book was a member of my book club in college and never complained when I coerced him into watching bad cop shows and eating frozen blueberries with me (a testament to his character, if ever there was one). That being said, I promised him my honest opinion with a guarantee that I would rip the book to shreds if I hated it.
Unfortunately, he's actually good. Damn him.
****: The Anatomy of Melancholy is an ambitious debut; both a darkly comic portrayal of modern youth and a disturbingly insightful look at the people who are products of the digital age. It is the kind of novel that can inspire laughter and anxiety with a single sentence and which is simultaneously - through the narrator - horrifying, hilarious and evocative.
Sex, drugs, violence, discontent... our narrator pulls us through his life, which is fuelled by the over-sexualized images and unrealistic expectations created by the digital world. His commentary on life, women and people in general is entirely offensive and chilling - be prepared for an unlikable protagonist. But, especially as more pages fly by, he seems increasingly worthy of our sympathy; an unfortunate victim of the modern world.
The fragmented format of the book, which tells the narrator's frantic life in small scenes that jump quickly from one to the next, works well with the themes. I love stories that give the impression of growth, progression and development by the end, and this is one of those books that starts as a light, profanity-laden look into the mind of a horny young man - hovering somewhere between humour and serious commentary with the frequent nihilistic rants - but gathers depth and meaning as the novel moves along. You feel like you've come a long way by the end.
Addressing the reader in a constant informal conversation, the narrator is at once our pal, someone we don't like, and an echo of parts of ourselves.
Mr Selwyn has written one hell of an intriguing book....more
I'm dark matter. The universe inside of me is full of something, and science can't even shine a light on it. I feel like I'm mostly made of mysteriesI'm dark matter. The universe inside of me is full of something, and science can't even shine a light on it. I feel like I'm mostly made of mysteries.
Oh my... Magonia is one hell of a rare novel.
Not only does it offer an intriguing blend of reality-infused science fiction and highly-imaginative fantasy, but it is also unlike anything I have ever read before.
I've always said that - for me - originality is one of the best and rarest compliments a writer can get. Not "this is the next Hunger Games or Harry Potter" but "this is completely different to everything else I've read". How unusual it is to read a novel and be taken to places so new, fresh and wonderfully magical.
One of my favourite things has always been when authors manage to weave fact and fiction together in order to create a fantasy story with added realism. Especially when they introduce me to parts of history I'd never heard about before. Did you know that in France in 815, sailors claimed to have come from a secret realm in the clouds they called Magonia? This was one of the first recorded instances of UFO-related occurrences and it was completely new to me.
Many times I have wondered why YA authors insist on using the same old recycled mythology when there's a whole universe of weird and wonderful shit out there just begging to be turned into a story. Here we have a fine example. This book opens up an entire new world full of detailed and exciting mythology. I was like a kid in a toy store, staring wide-eyed at all the colourful weirdness and longing for more as the pages flew by.
The author uses language that deserves the comparisons to Neil Gaiman - a rich, atmospheric style of fairytale storytelling. And with this, she creates a cast of wonderful characters who I can only hope will reappear in sequels.
The main character in Magonia is Aza Ray and she is dying. The doctors are unable to discover what is wrong with her and have failed at all attempts to cure her of the mysterious disease that is causing her to essentially drown in the Earth's atmosphere. Then one day, circumstances see Aza awakening in a whole new world where she is no longer weak and sickly, but a powerful creature at the centre of a longstanding feud that will take her to places she never could have dreamed existed.
Suddenly, she discovers the truth about her life, her past and who she is; maybe this new world can offer her a place to live the kind of life she's always wanted? Or maybe nothing is as it seems. Stir in plenty of action, romance, and well-developed family dynamics and you have something pretty damn amazing. I should also point out that the love triangle I had feared might occur never went in that direction.
Looking for a genre-defying blend of magic, love, flying and family? The only downside is that we have to wait until April for the final book to be published.
Like pain, you can use threats to make you stronger. If they hide a serpent in your bed, you must catch it and make it bite the hand of him who leftLike pain, you can use threats to make you stronger. If they hide a serpent in your bed, you must catch it and make it bite the hand of him who left it.
I really should make a habit of reading more historical fiction. I always love the blend of fact and imagination that comes with taking a specific point in history and weaving a brand new tale into it. And yet, I almost always steer clear of it in favour of something with magic and teenagers.
But there *is* something magic about this familiar but completely different world, anyway. The Vanishing Witch is the first book I've read by Maitland but I doubt it will be the last.
After the darkly mysterious prologue, this book first paints us a quiet picture. It's small town life in Lincoln (north of England) during the reign of Richard II (1367-1400). We are introduced to families, to errant husbands, to comely widows and to an atmosphere of fear and suspicion. As I said, the picture starts quiet... but it becomes louder as more layers are peeled away and we get to see what lies underneath.
Despite the title, this is not really a supernatural novel. It does, however, carry a heavy sense of magical foreboding that permeates the entire book. The times in question were laden with fear of the supernatural and suspicion of witchcraft. When people start dying in strange circumstances, accusations of witchcraft rear their ugly head and infect the entire town.
From the very first chapter, there's a gradual and growing sense of dark malevolence creeping in behind the scenes. It increases as the story moves along and more is revealed. I would say it's a very creepy novel that would make a great horror film because of all the mystery and uncertainty. You get the feeling that something much darker and far more terrible is hanging over the story and the characters the whole time.
I told Joe and Sue that I was sorry, that I couldn't give a eulogy because I couldn't think of anything to say. It was the first time I ever lied to thI told Joe and Sue that I was sorry, that I couldn't give a eulogy because I couldn't think of anything to say. It was the first time I ever lied to them.
In the hands of most authors, this book would have been nothing more than a standard, trope-ridden NA romance. It almost was, anyway.
Forman's contempory novels have always contained a heavy romantic element that has propped up the central themes of grief, growing up and friendship. This book is no exception, but I felt that this time the story of two teen girls, their friendship and the suicide of one of them was even more orchestrated around the romance between Cody and Ben.
Common elements of every other New Adult romance pop up constantly as this novel moves along: death of a mutual friend brings a girl and guy together, a road trip laced with tension takes place, she's a virgin and he's slept with hundreds of girls but he suddenly finds himself wanting to change his ways for her. Do I really need to go on?
The romance was so cliched and obvious from the moment Cody set her eyes on this "player" that I almost put the book down for good. I didn't, though, and I'm glad for that. Because this book was written by Gayle Forman and even when she writes cliches she manages to add emotional depth to them and make this a novel that doesn't rely solely on the romance to be good.
The main plot line is about Cody coming to terms with the suicide of her best friend - Meg. The two of them have grown up together and were practically like sisters, so Cody's grief is amplified by the fact she had no idea her best friend was suicidal. Then she uncovers something unexpected: deleted emails and encrypted files on Meg's computer. With the help of a tech-savvy friend, she sets out to discover the truth about Meg's death. She is led towards online suicide forums and a group of people who may have had a hand in her friend's decision to die.
There were two things I thought were done excellently in this book and neither of them were the romance. First, I absolutely loved the handling and development of the relationship between Cody and her mum. It's a difficult, troubled relationship being pulled apart by lack of communication and understanding. However, the relationship dynamic goes through many changes by the novel's close and it tugged at my heartstrings numerous times.
Secondly, Forman looks at the fine line between suicide and the very common and morbid habit of considering one's own death. Almost everyone has briefly entertained the question "if I did, how would I do it?" So what happens when that question becomes "and let's say I was going to, how and where would I get what I needed?" I found myself marvelling at how easy the gradual progression from a casual thought to a realistic possibility can be. It was frightening.
I would say this book is worth reading if you can look past the tired tropes used for the romance and focus on the novel's strengths. Though, I think I Was Here would have been better if the romance had not existed at all.
You know what I mean... just sit somewhere in a busy place and watch people bustle past in all their colourful weirdness.Do you like to people watch?
You know what I mean... just sit somewhere in a busy place and watch people bustle past in all their colourful weirdness. It's a habit I've acquired with age. Sometimes I think back to being a teenager and remember how I always wondered if I was strange in some way - I guess a lot of teens wonder that same question: am I normal? I wonder, had I taken the time to people watch back then, if I would have felt so lost and strange. I don't see how I could have. People are all damn weird creatures and they're really not very good at hiding it.
I'm saying this because The Children Act feels like people watching. Some books are easy to sell to other readers because I can promise you dragons and magic, heart-stopping action and romance that will steal your heart straight from your chest. This is not that kind of book. It's not even easy to put into words what this book is about. But it was, for me, nothing short of fascinating.
The main plot follows the life of an aging judge called Fiona whose husband has just announced that he wants to have one last passionate love affair with a younger woman before they can both settle into old age. He seems to believe she will be okay and accept the situation because of his openness and honesty. He is, not surprisingly, wrong.
I guess this book is what people tend to call a "character study" but that sounds so boring, right? Like something you'd be set for a college assignment, leave until the last minute and rush out in a mediocre essay (possibly while drunk). It isn't. Fiona's tale may be a quiet journey through the inner workings of someone's life, job and marriage, but it is also an extremely interesting portrait of a woman who continues to go through the motions of her everyday life while her private life may be falling apart.
Fiona (and the reader) finds herself emotionally pulled inside the case of a boy who is a Jehovah's Witness and wants to be allowed to refuse medical treatment. Because he is a few months shy of eighteen, Fiona must rule whether he should be allowed to refuse the blood transfusion or whether the hospital can ignore his wishes and proceed to save his life.
I don't know how to convince others that this book is interesting. I have to admit that I would not have picked it up without having read the author's previous work. It's such a simplistic, quiet story that is transformed into a powerful tale in McEwan's hands. I have absolutely nothing in common with Fiona, but her thoughts, emotions, doubts and insecurities feel extremely relatable.
There are some authors that create stories which feel very personal and particular, but simultaneously feel completely universal. For me, this was one of those rarities. I am so glad I took a chance on this book and got to immerse myself in Fiona's life.
It was boring, light and silly, and I'm pretty sure I've already read the basic premise of this book in Pierce Brown's Red RisinI just... can't do it.
It was boring, light and silly, and I'm pretty sure I've already read the basic premise of this book in Pierce Brown's Red Rising.
I made it to 60% on my kindle and then skimmed for a bit, but I've been attempting to read this book for over a week now and the magic was evidently lost on me. When you're reading a book and you reach a point where you think "is it too soon to DNF this?", you know things must be bad. It's so sad, though, because everything about The Red Queen was just screaming "love me, Emily!" before I picked it up.
It's not because of the love triangle, either. I've said before that an author can easily sell me a well-executed love triangle - so nope, it wasn't that. Let me tell you a sad little truth about this book and I can take it straight from the blurb:
Graceling meetsThe Selection in debut novelist Victoria Aveyard's sweeping tale...
That's an odd mash-up to use in your marketing anyway. Like Gone Girl meets Twilight or something similar. But, whatever, there was a rather distinct lack of Graceling in that 60% I actually forced myself through. Maybe it comes later... but I no longer have any interest in sticking around to find out. There was way too much of The Selection's mean girl antics to make this book interesting.
The part of this book I read was sooooo slooooow. Painfully slow. We're introduced to a world that had potential but remained incredibly basic, bringing nothing particularly new to the table. There are two kinds of people in this world - Silvers and Reds. The former are the ruling class, have silver blood, and sometimes possess special abilities like mind control and elemental manipulation. The Reds are a slave class who are ruled over by the Silvers and live in poverty.
Mare is a Red who, in unexpected circumstances, discovers that she has powers of her own. In order to keep an eye on her and learn more about the powers she possesses, she is disguised as a Silver and trained within the Silver palace. All the other women in the novel instantly hate her (usually for no good reason) and all the men see sunshine radiating out of the pores of her skin (metaphor for "cue love triangle").
Ooookaayy. And this is the description for Red Rising:
Darrow is a Red, a miner in the interior of Mars. His mission is to extract enough precious elements to one day tame the surface of the planet and allow humans to live on it. The Reds are humanity's last hope.
Or so it appears, until the day Darrow discovers it's all a lie. That Mars has been habitable - and inhabited - for generations, by a class of people calling themselves the Golds. A class of people who look down on Darrow and his fellows as slave labour, to be exploited and worked to death without a second thought.
Until the day that Darrow, with the help of a mysterious group of rebels, disguises himself as a Gold and infiltrates their command school, intent on taking down his oppressors from the inside.
Of course, there's a revolution brewing in both books too. And both main characters pretend to be members of the other class. I mean... it's like the word "Gold" was just replaced with "Silver" and all the socialist angst was replaced with high school bitchy angst.
There was so little action in that first 60% that I literally had to force myself through pages and pages of Mare flirting with the Silver prince - Cal - and the prince's betrothed - Evangeline - hating Mare as soon as she set eyes on her. This book was a constant showdown between the innocent MC and the bitchy mean girl (and her gang of mean girls). Hell... you can even match the characters up to their high school cliques. And I'm sure Evangeline's meanness is going to be used as an excuse for Mare to run off with Cal and not lose any sleep over it. Maybe not... but probably.
The main problem for me was that the revolution and the bigger war going on between the Silvers and Reds wasn't given enough attention. I felt like the plot relied on the romantic aspect and the angst to propel it along. Neither of which I cared about.
Farley scoffs. "You want me to pin my entire operation, the entire revolution, on some teenaged love story? I can't believe this." Across the table, a strange look crosses Kilorn's face. When Farley turns to him, looking for some kind of support, she finds none. "I can," he whispers, his eyes never leaving my face.
I'm not sure what crazy people shelved this book as "romance". You is romantic in the same way that Lolita is romantic. In other words: an insane, obs I'm not sure what crazy people shelved this book as "romance". You is romantic in the same way that Lolita is romantic. In other words: an insane, obsessive and manipulative romance from the perspective of a charming psychopath.
It's a fucked up tale told from the POV of a stalker who obsesses over and spies on a young woman. He gradually plants himself into her life and seeks a relationship with her, whilst simultaneously hacking her emails and following every little thing she does. If you're looking for a creeptastic story just in time for Halloween then you need look no further.
What is perhaps most unsettling about our narrator is how closely he resembles some of the love interests in YA and NA romance books. Telling his unreliable tale, Joe truly believes that he and Beck are meant to be. His narration is completely insane, horrifying and - at times - beautiful.
He is a fantastically unreliable narrator, made more so by the charm and humour he uses to engage the reader. Like Humbert from Lolita, Joe's intelligence, wit and candor make it easy to sympathize with him, even though we are aware of how twisted he really is.
The novel evades the boundaries of genre; not quite a contemporary, maybe, but also unlike most psychological thrillers, creating something new and complex - quite unlike anything I've ever read before. Being inside Joe's head is a poisonous but admittedly fascinating place to be. Through him, the author examines the games people play with one another and the gentle manipulation that even the most innocent of us are capable of at times:
You also offers an interesting look at stalking in the digital age. Joe is able to commit his crimes through the use of email, Facebook and Twitter; finding out huge amounts of information about Beck without even leaving his house. It made me incredibly aware of how visible we all are these days and had me almost looking over my own shoulder as I was reading it.
A random spur of the moment read that really paid off.
Want to know what happens when Marie Lu does darker and sexier?
Then read this book.
Contrary to what I first believed, this book is not dystopian or
Want to know what happens when Marie Lu does darker and sexier?
Then read this book.
Contrary to what I first believed, this book is not dystopian or post-apocalyptic, but is actually a dark fantasy set in a bleak world full of magic, complex villains and princes looking to reclaim their throne. And it's damn good.
Adelina Amouteru is a survivor of a blood fever that swept through her nation when she was a child. The fever left only a few survivors and those survivors remained permanently scarred with strange markings on their bodies. But some of them were left with something else... strange abilities that made them powerful, dangerous and feared. These people are called The Young Elites. Adelina discovers her own unique abilities in unfortunate circumstances and is propelled into a world where everyone, it seems, is an enemy.
I absolutely loved Adelina.
“I am Adelina Amouteru. I belong to no one. On this night, I swear to you that I will rise above everything you’ve ever taught me. I will become a force that this world has never known. I will come into such power that none will dare hurt me again.”
She's spent her whole life being abused by her father, feeling unloved and worthless. And she has a complex relationship with her sister - while she loves her dearly, she's always been jealous of the way their father was affectionate towards her. Her life moves from one hurdle to the next; when she finally unleashes the power she needs to stand up to her father, this makes her an enemy of society.
Enter the Young Elites.
There are so many fascinating characters in this novel. Obviously readers will love the extremely sexy (but not sexually graphic) scenes between Adelina and Enzo, the leader of the Elites, but there are many other interesting dynamics going on. I especially loved the relationship between Adeline and Raffaele; it's so rare to see a platonic relationship between a young male and female told well, particularly when the guy is described as "beautiful".
But I think the thing I like best about this book is how no one is simply good or bad, everything is much more complicated and interesting than that. Adelina is allowed to have her own dark, twisted thoughts. She's not a hero. She's broken, selfish and even a little wicked at times:
“In spite of everything, I feel a strange sense of glee. All this chaos is of my own creation.”
And every few chapters, the evil Teren is given his own perspective for several pages that gives us insight into why he behaves the way he does. I never liked him, of course, but I did feel a strange sense of sympathy for him. Aren't complex villains just one of the best things ever?
So Adelina gets caught between two powerful groups of people who could each make her life hell, simply take it away from her, or hurt the sister she loves. She must learn fast, keep secrets and trust no one... it's a wild, breathless journey that had me thanking the god of literature that this is going to be a series. I can't wait to see what happens next.
“Everyone has darkness inside them, however hidden.”
I'm not sure my review of this is really needed. If you're wanting to explore the world of the free Tor short stories, you should just check out karenI'm not sure my review of this is really needed. If you're wanting to explore the world of the free Tor short stories, you should just check out karen's reviews, which is where I find all the good ones. But I can't just leave this review space blank either, the story deserves more than that.
“Mama Alice would say that God never gives us any burdens we can’t carry.” The harpy says, Does she look you in the eye when she says that?
I find it amazing sometimes how I can read a 500-page novel and remain fairly emotionally detached, but some writers are just able to tear my heart open and leave me thinking about their story for hours... with just a few pages of powerful writing.
This story is so raw. The writing has an edgy, gritty, ugly honesty about it that drew me in and had me living inside the narrator's mind. I guess it's some kind of magical realism / dark fantasy if you want to get into genre-specifics but it's also way more than that. It's a portrait of a young girl called Desiree who was born disfigured and sick, a girl who is dying and must take pills every day... but she's not dying - in her own words - "fast enough".
"I’m dying. Just not fast enough. If it were faster, I’d have nothing to worry about. As it is, I’m going to have to figure out what I’m going to do with my life."
If she had a couple of years, she could resign herself to her fate; if she had a full life, she could live it happily. But, instead, she's somewhere in between. Still dying, longing for everything normal people get to have, and having to decide what to do next with her half-life.
Every day, she visits the harpy who lives in an alley near her home; she feeds it garbage and the two form a strange kind of friendship... strange, but possibly the most genuine relationship in Desiree's life. Hell, I feel emotional just trying to write this damn review.
It's a very dark, bleak tale that you probably shouldn't read if you're feeling particularly depressed, but it was an incredibly effective piece of storytelling. I hung on the author's every word.
The thing about Holly Black is that she writes in very different styles. Before I read White Cat, I trieOh book, you make it so difficult to rate you.
The thing about Holly Black is that she writes in very different styles. Before I read White Cat, I tried the first of her Faerie books - Tithe - (really didn't get into it), and her Spiderwick Chronicles (cute kids books but not really my thing). Then I discovered the Curse Workers trilogy and holy shit awesomeness: it was great! I liked the characters, the plot, and the twists... so much good.
The Darkest Part of the Forest feels closer to her earlier works. There's something about her writing here that doesn't agree with me; that takes a premise that I was desperate to fall in love with... and makes it so very not compelling. I'm going to try and explain what it is the best I can, because when you strip this book down to what it plainly is, it should totally be my thing. It just isn't.
What is this book? It's a dark, creepy fairy tale. I know what you're thinking: YEEESSSSS! I was too. It's about people who make deals with Fae folk and have to pay the price; it's about beautiful Fae princes who awaken after hundreds of years and wreak havoc; it's about the secrets that hide in the darkest part of the woods.
Oh god... aren't you just desperate to get a load of that? If someone said those words to me about a book, I would be preordering it within an instant. But this book had a couple of intriguing first chapters with an interesting protagonist and promises of creepy, dark goodness, and then it became so difficult to read on. It felt like an effort to make myself pick the book back up.
I'm not even sure if it is the writing itself that makes the plot so not compelling. Or if the plot sounds good but fails in the execution. All I know is that I never came to care what was going to happen. We were told that the situation was dire, but I never got a sense of that. The setting and language was creepy and atmospheric, but the main story wasn't. In fact, it seemed pretty juvenile.
I would almost describe this as a Spiderwick Chronicles for older teens. A brother and sister must tackle the world of the Fae folk - a world that constantly introduces us to an assortment of creatures that I cannot even recall right now. Occasionally, we got really cool passages like this:
“He couldn’t have understood what it felt like to dance until the force of his steps seemed to crack open the earth itself, to be among creatures who had never been human and could never be human, to be one of them. And Ben couldn’t have known the shame that Jack felt after, when, sweat cooling on his skin, he promised himself that when they came for him the next time, he wouldn’t go. A promise that he’d never keep.”
But the story just wasn't doing it for me. Plus, it was peppered with flashbacks that distracted me from the main issue at hand and didn't really add anything (most of them, anyway).
This was one of my most highly anticipated releases - so disappointing.
I really think that anyone who has ever watched a bad horror flick will recognise the framework of this story instCheap B-movie horror thrills abound!
I really think that anyone who has ever watched a bad horror flick will recognise the framework of this story instantly. I'm not even sure why these tropes are so damn universal in the horror genre, because they're just not scary anymore. If they ever were.
So there's three teens. Two of them are boyfriend and girlfriend (Dee and Luke) and can't keep their damn horny hands off each other. The other is a tag-along (Mike). Why is this so common, by the way? I've seen so many horror movies featuring a couple, and then a male or female third wheel just there for - seemingly - kicks.
And why are they always so horny? I'm serious. There have been essays written about old horror movies, claiming that they're actually really puritanical and attempt to teach teens what happens when you screw around before marriage. I've no idea if that's true, but it's a really common trope... teens who just want to go on a trip and get laid somehow end up trapped in a weird cult or hanging from a meat hook in some lunatic's basement.
Plus, they are so stupid. I'm sure you remember how it goes. They're camping in the middle of the woods or alone in a cabin in the middle of nowhere and suddenly there's a noise - maybe a scream or footsteps - coming from outside. It's always during the night and the damn stupid fools always have to investigate RIGHT THEN. In the middle of the night. Often barefoot and in their pajamas (though, okay, not in this case).
In this case the teens don't quite walk out in the middle of the woods. Nope. They take a shortcut down a back road. And get lost. And then they run out of gas.
Shit... you just KNOW what's going to happen next, don't you?
They're stranded in the middle of psychoville, AKA a "deserted" town where all the houses are identical down to the garden arrangements. Upon arrival in this town, they hole up in one of these deserted houses and find disturbing documents listing the town's population. A population that is decreasing rapidly. So, of course, they stay the night.
The next morning they meet Joseph who tells them about his father's evil cult and, though he seems more than a bit strange, they decide to follow him in the hopes of escaping. What could possibly go wrong?
Well... Elijah shows up, Dee gets captured and separated from Luke and Mike, and her day only gets worse from there. She is tied up, drugged and threatened with death unless she join the cult and comply with Elijah's wishes. The biggest crime of this story is that it feels like nothing new. I feel like I've seen this story and these characters in a hundred other horror films and books. Dee's narrative wasn't standout enough to make me want to care about her fate and everything felt more than a little cheesy.
Elijah especially felt like a cartoon villain with over-the-top mindless evil schemes. I kept picturing him with his finger poised near his mouth, laughing evilly.
I'm actually more disappointed because the author's 2015 novel sounds amazing and I love the cover. Maybe I'll try Leaver's work again when she's writing in a different genre.