I wasn't really enjoying this one until the end. It was sort of a non-story until the last 100 pages, or so. I think how Anna ended up was really intrI wasn't really enjoying this one until the end. It was sort of a non-story until the last 100 pages, or so. I think how Anna ended up was really intriguing and it was probably the best fate for her....more
I have to assume that we'll never know (view spoiler)[who killed Felassan at the end, which really pissI enjoyed this book, but I'm mad at the ending.
I have to assume that we'll never know (view spoiler)[who killed Felassan at the end, which really pisses me off! There are no clues as to who this person was from the book, nor any other media source. Not even Dragon Age: Inquisition. (hide spoiler)] You don't just put in an ending like that and expect the reader to be okay with it! I'm super mad and I know these books don't offer sequels to each other in the same way regular novel series do. Ugh....
At least it offers a lot of insight into how to understand a little better all the mysteries of the latest game, Dragon Age: Inquisition. Read this after you've played the game and some things might make more sense.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
While I can appreciate a Dragon Age story about griffons because they are freakin' cool, this book was SUUUUUPER boring. I barely had any reason to maWhile I can appreciate a Dragon Age story about griffons because they are freakin' cool, this book was SUUUUUPER boring. I barely had any reason to make myself read it, other than to find out what really happened to cause the griffons to become extinct. (That is revealed, thankfully.)
Such a steep drop-off in the enjoyment level of this book compared to the first one. Katie is just not in-character most of the time and she makes waySuch a steep drop-off in the enjoyment level of this book compared to the first one. Katie is just not in-character most of the time and she makes way too many stupid decisions that should get her killed, but magically don't. The first book rocked! What happened here?...more
Every now and then, you read a book that makes you remember the reason you love to read. Shadow and Bone is just this kind of book for me. It’s one ofEvery now and then, you read a book that makes you remember the reason you love to read. Shadow and Bone is just this kind of book for me. It’s one of those novels you can read and read, and keep reading without even realizing how much time is actually going by in real life as you read it. When you have to put the book down and go do something else that needs your attention, you want to read just one more page, or chapter….
Shadow and Bone is a high fantasy young adult novel set in a fictional world based on Imperial Russia. Yep. Right there you already know you have something different, probably even special (and you do). It’s about a teen girl named Alina Starkov from a country called Ravka who discovers she’s a Grisha—basically a person with magical abilities. She’s not only a Grisha, but the special kind that comes around every century, or even less often. Because of this, she is whisked away to the capitol of Ravka for her own protection and to be trained to use her powers.
There is, of course, romance, but it’s not heavy-handed as you would expect. Let’s face it—YA tends to focus so much on the romance that not much else about the stories have any substance. Not the case here. There is plenty of plot and real things going on, political things even. The author finds little opportunities to sneak in a bit of romantic tension here and there without making it all about those moments. It’s done so artfully.
But, the best part about the story is Alina herself. She is full of sarcasm and even a little sardonic humor. She’s realistic and reacts how people would actually react to the strange and fanciful situations she’s forced into. I liked Genya, her sort-of best female friend character, Mal, her crush and long-time best friend, Baghra, her magic teacher, and even the ever mysterious and complicated Darkling. The relationships she has with all of these characters is delicious.
I know this book came out about two years ago and I’m only now reading it, so I feel a little slow. But, it takes a while to get around to certain books with a to-be-read pile stacked to the ceiling, you know? If you haven’t gotten around to this one, I highly suggest you do. Make sure to imagine Alina with a Russian accent as she tells you her story. The entire story will sound so much better and more fitting in your head that way, particularly with her personality....more
Finally, some New Adult fiction clean enough for me to read! I’m very happy about that. It’s not like I feel the need to read all that much contemporaFinally, some New Adult fiction clean enough for me to read! I’m very happy about that. It’s not like I feel the need to read all that much contemporary NA, but I like that an author went out of her way to be different from the rest of the NA writing crowd.
I don’t think I qualify as the best person to review contemporary realism because I usually like my stories to have a supernatural or science fiction element to them. For me, there is always this feeling like something is missing when I read a book that only uses the real world for what it is capable of doing. But, I tried my best to weigh this book against what I know makes a good piece of fiction, and I think it comes out very good.
The plot is very interesting and doesn’t have a lot going on in it, but it really shouldn't, anyway. It’s pretty much perfect for this type of story and considering that it is a novella, you don’t have room for a detailed plot. But, what this story does excel at is a little something called suspense. This is when you have to keep reading because you want to know so badly how everything will turn out in the end. In this case, I wanted to know so badly why Julia suddenly ran away from home without warning, ten months earlier, and why she suddenly decided to go back home for a two-week vacation.
Why did she not even communicate with anyone, not even her mother and father while she was gone? Even when Julia does return home to Durban, South Africa from London, she refuses to explain why she left in the first place. It is very serious stuff. The suspense is literally devised to kill you—and for that, I think this story deserves most of its praise. This is one of the best parts about any kind of storytelling and it made me all the more excited to keep reading.
The only drawback I can think of is that it is too short to accomplish what a story like this needs to accomplish, which is character and relationship development. I think these stories do better in a slightly longer format for this reason, mainly, and this story exemplifies why that is. Everything it has going for it, otherwise, is really great—we even have a few great characters, like Nan and little Sophie. But, we don’t get to spend enough time with any of them to satisfy. That’s where I say I’d like to have seen this at least double in length.
I know that this story is only meant to be a prequel novella to a series of novels, so I probably will get my wish. It does succeed at being a great appetizer for the future novels that will have more room for the character and relationship exploration factor. With that done well, these books will be the best clean NA out there. By itself, Forgiven is a great read, but it’s even better knowing there is much more to come after this....more
Where is Book 2?! I find myself actually wanting to read the next book right away, and this is not normal reading behavior for me. This must indicativWhere is Book 2?! I find myself actually wanting to read the next book right away, and this is not normal reading behavior for me. This must indicative of how much I enjoyed reading this book.
I had originally given this a 4.5-star rating because it does have some flaws. But, I realize now that the story and characters are kind of staying with me after finishing it, and I want to know where the entire series is going from here. I’m willing to give it the full 5-star treatment because it doesn’t have to be perfect in order to be very entertaining. It certainly is that.
It’s well written and high-concept, it has characters will actual depth, and a main character who, despite being a teenage girl, is not drowning in a pool of hormonal emotions over a boy. Kestrel is capable of thinking about other people and other things going on in the world beyond Arin, the other POV character of the novel. She is not so over-wired to procreate that you just want to smack some sense into her. This is practically unheard of these days in YA literature…. Okay, I’m exaggerating, but not really, right?
Kestrel is a character after my own heart because she is a strategist, rather than a physically strong female heroine. I respect female characters who kick major butt, and who doesn’t, but I’m rather tired of them. They are too numerous and becoming less special, as a result. Kestrel is more of the character who can out-think everyone else, and her scene with the Emperor at the end is pretty impressive (although, how someone else didn’t think of it first kind of makes me face-palm). Give me a smart, cunning character any day over one blessed with brute strength, male or female. (Unless it’s Dante from the Devil May Cry video games. It’s so fun to play as him kicking major butt that I wouldn’t want it any other way. ;))
Arin is a slave that Kestrel buys at the very beginning of the story. He and his people, the Heranni, used to be free, cultured and educated before being enslaved by Kestrel’s people, the Valorians, only a decade earlier. Heran is a peninsula guarded by treacherous mountains on land and terrifying storms along the coasts. They never had to worry too much about invaders, until the Valorian Empire, ruling half the world, discovered black powder and blew up the mountains protecting the Heranni. The brutish Valorians assimilated the Heranni culture like The Borg from Star Trek, adding their likeness unto their own and being bettered for it.
It’s not really much of a spoiler to mention that Arin is secretly a part of a Heranni insurrection being plotted prior to the beginning of the story. He’s no ignorant slave boy and that does make him an interesting character. Of course, Kestrel is completely unaware of this, so you can only imagine how badly this will end for her, bringing into her home one of the Insurrection’s top leaders without even knowing it. Her father is the general of the Valorian army. This is just a black powder situation waiting to be ignited by fire.
I like that the political environment of the story is important and truly is the story. It’s not about the romance, although that is important, too. But, it never overtakes the real story, which is about the Heranni revolting against the Valorian Empire. It is interesting to see how it all plays out and even more interesting to see how it all gets resolved. Thankfully, it’s not predictable.
Kestrel and Arin’s relationship is fabulous. I’m not saying they are incredible characters because I don’t find myself attached to them much, but they have an interesting dynamic going on. In the beginning, Kestrel does not want him acting like a slave who just says what she wants to hear. She tells him to always speak his mind, which he does. I wish she had argued with him more—that would have given them better chemistry. But, still it works. The romance is just slow and sweet, never going too far, or just making it seem like all they do is paw at each other all the time.
There were some things I was not super enthused about. Kestrel’s duel with a certain character ended in a rather anti-climactic way. The fact that she even insists on this duel is ridiculous to me. And, how could she not foresee that people would start gossiping about her fighting a duel over her slave? Of course, people would start talking about something like that. Also, there is a scene where her father, General Trajan, is mad at both of them, and instead of throwing Arin out on the street, he just tells him to keep away from his daughter. What? That makes no sense, but it does serve the story to have him stick around to accompany Kestrel to the ball afterward.
So, while not a perfect story—and what story is perfect?—it is still a wonderful read that pulled me out of a major reading slump I had been having for the past few months. Finally, something that made me want to keep turning the pages, eager to pick it back up again after putting it down. I guess I’ll see whether this one sticks with me over the long haul because that will be the sign of a truly great book. I’m inclined to think it will. (I really need to see what is going to happen to Ronan in the next installment!)
P.S. I liked this a lot better than Graceling by Kristin Cashore! If Graceling wasn’t your thing, you might like this high fantasy novel, instead. You might like it even if you loved Graceling. It is the first book in a planned trilogy....more
I just want to read this book now because the ending is supposedly SOOO bad, lol.
I think the ending to this trilogyActual rating: 3.5/5 stars.
I just want to read this book now because the ending is supposedly SOOO bad, lol.
I think the ending to this trilogy is fitting and understandable. I do, however, take issue with all the bad science used and the poor logic, "plot kais," and all-to-convenient conveniences strewn throughout. These pulled me out of the narrative from time to time. But, this was interesting to read and the world building was done well when ignoring the bad science. At least all my questions were answered, unlike in some other book series.
I've done some research and I cannot condone how actual readers who are mad at Roth for her ending are threatening her with physical, bodily harm. How can I side with people who are SO disconnected from reality that they think taking out their anger on her will actually accomplish something? Are you friggin' kidding me??! Who are these nut-jobs? The poor girl is driven to therapy because of all this publishing garbage. I feel like giving her a hug because she reminds me of my nieces. She's such an adorable girl, how can anyone say anything so awful to her. Oh, right.... The interwebz makes us all so COURAGEOUS. About as "courageous" as a drunk with a knife.
If you can't handle the ending to this book, then you need to grow up. Maybe it could have been done better, I agree with that argument. There are an infinite number of possible endings that could have made everyone happier. But, it's always more interesting to me to see what the author really wanted to do, ya know? That always fascinates me more than the compromising she could have done. Read this book remembering that it is just a book and Roth is just a human who makes mistakes (the book is not perfect, no question there). I like that she did what she wanted and it's very thought-provoking, if anything....more