Yep, glad I re-read/listened to this book before starting Enders...I had forgotten quite a bit and it's going to prove important in the sequel, I have...moreYep, glad I re-read/listened to this book before starting Enders...I had forgotten quite a bit and it's going to prove important in the sequel, I have a feeling.(less)
This novella was not at all what I was expecting, though that's probably a good thing because honestly, I didn't really want to see how Dani and Sam's...moreThis novella was not at all what I was expecting, though that's probably a good thing because honestly, I didn't really want to see how Dani and Sam's relationship developed. I didn't love Anna's character in either of the full-length books, but I much prefer her to the morally ambiguous Dani.
Except in Forged, Dani is just a girl. She's only just entered the program and she hasn't let her change her...yet. And if you're looking for the Sam you've come to know and, well, tolerate, in the other books, you won't find him here. When he entered the picture, I actually thought to myself, Wow, Sam is much more verbose than we find him in later years. That should have been a dead giveaway. Oh, well. C'est la vie.
I never fully bought that Connor was completely evil in the other books. But I also know that I tend to favor the pretty villains, so my judgement may be skewed. However, I really honestly don't think that Connor is pure evil. If this story had been ten or twenty pages longer, I think I might have my proof, but at 49 pages, you don't have a whole lot more to go on.
It was nice seeing the program in its early days, seeing some of the actual training and testing that participants had to undergo before being released into the field. As with the other books, there were a couple of twists that I felt were easy to predict, but also like the previous books, it didn't prove detrimental to the story or my enjoyment of it. In fact, it aided in my anticipation of what Dani was about to face. And I might actually like her a little now because of her reactions.
I was hesitant to read this, so I didn't request it for review. And then bookish friends whose opinions I really trust s...more-- Mini Review of Audiobook --
I was hesitant to read this, so I didn't request it for review. And then bookish friends whose opinions I really trust said it was a different kind of zombie book. Okay, I'm intrigued. I love zombie stories. But they meant it when they said different. I mean, toward the end, there are hints that my good ole "Braaaaaiiiiinssss!!!" screaming zombies are coming, but this book just didn't do it for me, as a standard sci-fi or as a zombie novel.
I like books where a character has to find, recall, or be taught humanity. But in Wren's case, it felt like she wasn't human and then all of sudden she felt the feels. I didn't see the progression...it was 0-to-feels in 90 seconds or less. And then there was Callum. I kind of adore the tough girl/nice guy pairings, but in this case, the nice guy was just too nice for his own good. I didn't find him endearing; I found him annoying. And the story wasn't anything new or exciting to me. Maybe my friends don't read enough sci-fi, but despite the rebooting and being used as weapons, this story was pretty generic.
Even one of my very favorite narrators didn't make the book any better. I've loved everything I've heard Khristine Hvam narrate, but the audiobook for Reboot was only meh. I didn't hate it, but I also didn't love it. I guess I just prefer when Hvam gets to show off her ability to voice really different characters in the same setting, especially those with accents. And she definitely didn't have the opportunity to do that here.
I'm a big fan of the multiverse trend we've seen in YA over the last couple of years, but I'm wary of picking up every one I find, simply because I do...moreI'm a big fan of the multiverse trend we've seen in YA over the last couple of years, but I'm wary of picking up every one I find, simply because I don't want this genre to follow in the footsteps of all of the influx of dystopian books that failed to impress. So, I'm being a little picky with my multiverse fare. I don't read every one of them and I only read the ones that really get me excited, and so far, this has served me well.
Tandem is a refreshing take on parallel worlds, with some universes cognizant of the existence of other worlds while others are seemingly unaware, though probably closer to the discovery than they let on or even know. The explanation provided to Sasha regarding how each universe came to be different, the idea of a Last Common Event connecting the different worlds, was rather skillfully handled. Though I've read several novels with a focus on multiverses, the author put a creative spin on this story that I think will captivate many readers.
Be forewarned: that last line of the novel's summary is pretty accurate. There's an overwhelming amount of betrayal in this book, and it was riveting to discover each character's motivations. It was never difficult to discern who was playing for Team Bad Guys, but I don't think it was to the detriment of the novel that some of the storyline was a bit predictable. Where some aspects were obvious, there were others that never even crossed my mind, and I'm anxious to see how those story arcs play out.
I'm a little iffy on the swoonage, though. It started off sweet enough, but it took a major nose-dive when Sasha was kidnapped and forced to pretend to be someone she wasn't. I like Thomas, and while Sasha can be a bit whiney, I saw that she could also be good and honorable. But a relationship begun on a lie? Iffy. The lie -- er, well, one of them -- was revealed in due time and smacked of betrayal on every level, but apparently having the doppelgänger of your girlish crush plead his case can make a girl do crazy things, all in the name of love. Their relationship grew on me the more time they spent together and worked to figure out what was really going on in Aurora, but adding in that third party brought back the iffiness. I understand his importance and the fact that it's because of him that Sasha even had to be brought to Aurora, but that doesn't mean I have to like the lies and betrayal that come with it.
One thing I will say about this book is that it started off really strongly. I think that's the key with stories involving parallel universes...the author kind of just has to throw the reader right into the story and let them figure everything out along with the characters. However, as I was developing my own theories, the plot stalled a bit midway -- not ground to a halt or anything; it was still good, just not as gripping as the beginning. The author obviously has a talent for weaving a story, especially one where multiple worlds are involved, and though I've not read her other works, I can definitely see the allure. Because that ending...yeah, it's probably going to frustrate some people, but it was great for paving the way for the rest of the trilogy.
Science fiction stories such as this always leave me pondering the possibility, nay probability, of such ideas. If man can think it up, who's to say it isn't real? I hope it's real, anyway. I rather like the idea that I have a copy in some parallel universe who might be the exact opposite of me in every way but appearance. Maybe we'll really discover the existence of a multiverse, and I'll meet her some day. =)
Thanks to Random House, Netgalley, AudioGO & Audiobook Jukebox for the review copies!
**There will probably be minor spoilers for the first book...I can't help myself. I have to talk about it. :)**
So, I liked Altered when I read it earlier this year...A LOT. Like, even more than I thought I was going to. So I pretty much already knew that the sequel was a must-read and that it was probably going to be just as intense. And, boy, was it!
But before I get to that, a little side-note. I read Altered before I'd ever even heard of the Elementals series by Brigid Kemmerer, and though the premises are very different, the group dynamic is very similar and just as entertaining:
Elementals - has twin brothers named Nick and Gabriel - oldest brother Michael is the no-nonsense head of the family - Becca discovers she's also an Elemental
Altered - has altered boy named Nick who has previously used Gabriel as an alias - Sam, the boy who's been in the Altered program the longest, is also a no-nonsense kind of leader - Anna was also in the Altered program with the boys
- both series include an outsider who gains acceptance, only to betray the group
So many similarities from two totally different stories! So, if you've been debating one series or the other, well...just read them both! They are both awesome and I can't recommend them enough. Both are completely addictive and insanely readable.
Okay, now that that's out of the way...
As I said before, Erased is intense. I couldn't put the book down. And when I absolutely had to stop reading, I rushed back to it with super-human quickness. Simply put, I was utterly compelled to continue reading, as Anna, Sam, Nick, and Cas searched for the answers to their past and discovered more than they ever bargained for when it came to their futures.
Erased finds the characters two months after the events of Altered, on the run and hiding out. They're all kind of on auto-pilot, doing what they need to do to survive and not much else. The flashbacks are getting worse, and it's difficult for any of them to discern what's real and what's not anymore. But they're sticking it out, staying together to evade the Branch as long as they possibly can.
Except, it soon becomes clear that their "safety in numbers" theory isn't going to cut it anymore, and Anna is forced to head out with only the ill-tempered Nick by her side. These two have never been the best of friends, the animosity between them crackling like lightning. I liked this little interlude, and not just because we get to see Nick and Anna as badasses, working together in tandem to take down some Branch agents that are on their trail. No, I enjoyed this turn of events much more because it shows a softer side of Nick and through a series of flashbacks, we learn more of each of these characters' history. At one time, they might not have hated each other.
Stop looking at me like that. There's no love triangle...not really, anyway. It's only my ardent wish that Nick was a viable suitor for Anna. Sam's great and all, but he just seems like a shell of a person at times. But these kids have been through an awful lot, so I'll chalk his behavior up to that. Especially since he is unfailingly faithful to dear Anna.
I love the team dynamic, with Sam as the leader. Except, because of some weird bonding experiment done as part of the Altered program, Anna's actually the head of the group. They are her boys, and she is theirs to protect. It makes for some interesting situations and some rather funny tests on their part as they try to determine just how far that bond goes.
Exhilarating and fast-paced doesn't begin to describe this novel, but that's a good jumping off point. As with the first book, I found bits of the plot to be on the predictable side, but again, it didn't keep me from enjoying the story as quickly as I could, especially with some of the awesome twists thrown into the mix. And though there's more story to tell, and their pasts are anything but clear, this second installment leaves the reader with at least some semblance of closure. And yet, this reader can't wait to get her hands on the next book. =)
Thanks to Little, Brown BFYR and Around the World ARC Tours for providing a copy for review!
I think what I liked best about Alienatedwas that although it tackles some larger issues, it doesn't deign to take itself too seriously. It was when t...moreI think what I liked best about Alienated was that although it tackles some larger issues, it doesn't deign to take itself too seriously. It was when this novel was funny that I enjoyed it best, and there are plenty of funny, awkward moments to be had. The book does take a turn toward the serious, especially as the two alien races take a more divisive stance toward one another, but I'll get to that.
I've read quite a few novels recently that dealt with space travel and aliens and they were all such somber tales, so I was glad to discover how quirky and cute this story was. The interactions between Cara and Aelyx made this book what it was, even when they were barely cordial to each other in the beginning. I just felt that their encounters were natural, whereas a lot of the other scenarios in the book -- especially where the ex-boyfriend, ex-best friend, and that douchey leader of the junior HALOs were concerned -- felt forced, and a lot of those confrontations just seemed juvenile and immature, most especially the dialogue.
But I found myself delighted whenever Cara and Aelyx had page-time together. Obviously, newly single Cara can't help but fall for the hot new alien living under her roof, but the pacing of the relationship was perfect. The romance actually had stages and worked up to the intense attraction, rather than throwing it in your face from the moment they first meet. I do think that maybe the professing of love could have waited a bit, but I am old and sometimes forget what it was like to be sixteen and have all of those feelings that I just can't keep inside. =)
Have you ever had a foreign exchange student living with you? My older sister signed up for a French exchange student when she was in high school and I was probably eight, and even at that age, I could tell how awkward it was for everyone involved, at least in the beginning, especially with somewhat of a language barrier on both accounts. So, I felt like the way Aelyx is received into Cara's home and how everyone treats him at first was portrayed rather accurately. The only other people who interacted with Cara and Aelyx that seemed genuine were Cara's parents, which I was happy to see. I've said it before but I'll say it again: good, involved parents are an asset to young adult novels.
I have to admit, the cover is the first thing that drew me to request this book. Not only is it pretty, but it's representative of what's inside the book, as well: two very different worlds, two different alien races coming together and still not together. The L'eihr have initiated contact, and after providing Earth with some serious medical advancements, an understanding has been reached to try to learn more about each other's culture. Each group has motivations for the alliance, and each race stands to benefit immensely from it.
But there will always be dissenters, those who don't like change. This is where things get serious. It starts out harmless enough, as most situations like this do, but quickly escalates as allegations and threats are made...against the L'eihr. It's human nature for us to question change, but I'll never understand how some people can be so closed-minded, so distrustful. Discrimination will always exist, no matter what aspect or trait is being discriminated against, which is unfortunate. That being said, this novel takes the subject to a dangerous level. It doesn't matter that there's a strong possibility that we could have evolved from the L'eihr...to some people, preconceived notions will always hold true.
Alienated is charming and romantic, quirky and fun, with undertones of discrimination and betrayal to even things out. I love how Landers tackled the subject of friendship in the face of diversity with humor and sass, and I'll definitely be picking up the next installment to see how the duo fare when the shoe is on the other foot.
GIF it to me straight: Oh, the giddy, happy feelings this book elicited!
Thanks to Disney-Hyperion/Netgalley for providing a copy for review.
Time travel novels are usually the bane of my existence. I love the idea of time travel itself, but most novels tend to drop the ball when it comes to...moreTime travel novels are usually the bane of my existence. I love the idea of time travel itself, but most novels tend to drop the ball when it comes to executing the concept. The explanation for how it works, why it works, etc., becomes too convoluted and confusing, and little to no actual time travel actually happens. At least, that's usually my experience. There have been a few exceptions, but All Our Yesterdays surpassed them all.
I haven't stopped thinking about this book since I finished it on Saturday. And I read the entirety of the novel in one sitting. I had the house to myself and I took the opportunity to devour this book, and it was definitely time well-spent. Also, it's a duology. Yeah, those are kind of becoming a thing, and I'm not complaining. It removes the whole issue of "middle book syndrome" and means you get the whole story in just two books. Now, if only they could release the books a little closer together. *sigh*
This story was very character-driven, and if you know my preferences at all, you know that's a biggie. Characters can make or break a story, but this is especially true where time travel books are concerned because they tend to focus a lot of time and energy on the time travel aspect itself, and the characters are never portrayed to their fullest, which results in me never getting attached to them. And if I never develop a connection to the characters, if I don't care one iota what happens to them, you've lost me. Luckily for this story, I cared an awful lot what happened to the characters, maybe too much...I went to sleep thinking about them and I woke up thinking about them, and days later, I'm still thinking about them.
I love how the relationship between the cellmates Em and Finn is portrayed and how it evolved, the fact that they didn't like each other all that much in the beginning, but they later became friends and close confidantes because of their situation. On the other hand, we have Marina and James, who've been best friends and neighbors for years. These characters are all tied together, for better or worse, and somehow, the responsibility of saving the world from destruction, from chaos and war, has ended up in their hands. I really can't say too much about it for fear of giving everything away -- even though it's not like you won't figure it all out on your own pretty early on -- but suffice it to say, these characters felt so real, their relationships so plausible, and my empathy for them only increased as more and more of their story was divulged.
The book may have essentially been character-driven for me, but the plot was also very fast-paced and intense, with the present-day action spanning only three or four days. There were lots of flashbacks to provide a background for Em and Finn, whose timeline is four years in the future from when we meet Marina and James, but that same technique wasn't really necessary to explain the circumstances for the latter pair. The story alternates between Em and Marina's perspectives, with one set of characters knowing full well the ramifications of time travel and the other set woefully ignorant. The author really understood where she was taking this story from the beginning, the way she manipulates the events and characters...and even the reader a little bit.
The time travel concept in this novel isn't totally unprecedented. There is a machine, aptly named Cassandra after the mythological soothsayer, and there are alternate timelines and paradoxical events. But some aspects of it are unusual, at least to me. For example, the idea that time is not linear, that it might be sentient and decide which events remain fixed and which events can be altered...those are not concepts I've seen in time travel before, at least not in YA versions. And because of this, it actually made a lot more sense to me than how I've seen it explained before, maybe because it wasn't made out to be this ultra complex idea but rather a vague one.
The concept and explanation, the character development, even the romantic elements...this is what I was looking for in all of those other time travel novels. Sacrifice is a major underlying theme in this book, and it made for an intensely emotional read, not to mention an absolutely engaging one. All Our Yesterdays is an impressive debut, and I wholeheartedly pronounce that Cristin Terrill is an author to watch and this novel is a definite must-read!
Proxycaught my attention with an intriguing premise and that very science-fictiony cover. It takes an interesting concept -- the whipping boy -- and t...moreProxy caught my attention with an intriguing premise and that very science-fictiony cover. It takes an interesting concept -- the whipping boy -- and throws it into a futuristic setting, rife with nearly incomprehensible technological advances, making the barbaric act of doling out punishment to a substitute seem even more archaic.
The ethical issue of using a proxy weighed heavily on the novel, just as it did on the characters. When Knox and Syd meet, they do so as virtual enemies, using each other for their own means: one to infuriate his father, the other for mere survival. But as the boys journey outside of the city to escape their harsh realities, a shaky alliance morphs into true friendship. The two boys grow to see each other as more than the roles they've played in society thus far, more than just Patron and Proxy, and they start questioning the system and everything it stands for.
This is not just the story of two boys who change their positions in an unchangeable world. They're faced with moral and ethical dilemmas galore, as well as what it means to sacrifice oneself for the good of all. (Syd's full name is Sydney Carton, a la Charles Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities, so it seemed inevitable that the theme of sacrifice would appear in this novel.) Knox and Syd make friends -- and enemies -- along the way, but this is one of those stories where you're not sure who to trust and who to stab in the back.
It wasn't until closer to the end of this book that I was able to connect with the characters at all and really rally behind them. And that had to do a lot with Knox's own personal growth and how it was perceived by others. The characters in this story were complex and dynamic, continually growing and changing as the circumstances warranted, which was rather fun to observe when one started out as a rich playboy and the other as an ostracized homosexual ne'er-do-well.
Andrew Sweeney did a great job separating each character, giving each a voice of their own. Knox and Syd were like night and day, and Sweeney did a good job of conveying that in the voice he used for each. And when it came to narrating female dialogue, he didn't take his voice up a few octaves as some narrators are wont to do, which is much appreciated by this listener.
I liked Proxy...I didn't love it, but I liked it. And I'd still definitely recommend it for those who are still on a dystopian kick but are looking for a new entry in the genre. Proxy is definitely different, and I mean that in the best possible way. I'm looking forward to seeing what's next for this odd couple, assuming there is more in store for them with that ending. *bites nails*
This GIF is so apropos, it's not even funny...but it kinda still is. You guys probably aren't even old enough to remember The Odd Couple -- the old movie with Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon or the tv series of the same name. Shoot, I'm not really old enough either, but my dad made sure I caught all the "classics". Ha! But those guys were day and night...kinda like Knox and Syd.
I loved Unravelingwhen I listened to the audiobook a couple of weeks ago. It was intense and fast-paced and everything I'm looking for in a good sci-...moreI loved Unraveling when I listened to the audiobook a couple of weeks ago. It was intense and fast-paced and everything I'm looking for in a good sci-fi novel: a take-charge heroine, a compelling storyline, and a secondary cast of characters that deserve a storylilne of their own. And with Elizabeth Norris' Undone, we get just that.
Ben was an awesome love interest for the seemingly fearless Janelle inthe first book in this series. And that's no less true with this novella. But I knew there was more to Ben than just the borderline-stalker-turned-boyfriend we saw in Unraveling. This novella is broken into three sections: Before She Knew Me, When I Saved Her, and After I Left Her. With each segment, we learn a little bit more about Ben as we see the events in Unraveling from his perspective. And then there's what happens after Unraveling. I've not yet read Unbreakable, but I have an idea what to expect thanks to this novella. I don't think it will spoil the story for you, but it will ramp up your anticipation for Unbreakable, which releases in another month. (Psst. There's also a sneak peek of the sequel at the end of Undone!)
Undone was exactly what I was hoping for: a little more of the world from Unraveling from a fresh point-of-view. Admittedly, I like Janelle's voice better, as far as the story-telling goes because she is far more sarcastic and witty, but Ben's narrative was a welcome alternative. I'm kind of hoping we'll get a dual narrative from these two in the sequel. Only one more month till we find out! And now that I know what's coming, it's going to be an even more agonizing wait.
“If aliens ever visit us, I think the outcome would be much as when Christopher Columbus first landed in America, which didn't turn out very well for the Native Americans.” -- Stephen Hawking
This is how The 5th Wave opens, with a quote from Stephen Hawking foreshadowing things to come, and immediately, you know that this is not going to be a light story with cute little green aliens as the antagonists. The main character tells us as much in her opening chapter.
-------------THE 1ST WAVE: Lights Out -------------------THE 2ND WAVE: Surf's Up -------------------------THE 3RD WAVE: Pestilence -------------------------------THE 4TH WAVE: Silencer
This begs the question: what will the 5th wave bring? At the end of the 4th wave, the only thing Cassie knows is trust no one. And that one rule has helped her survive the aftermath of the alien invasion up until this point. She may have lost everyone she's ever cared about, but she's surviving.
“But if I'm it, the last of my kind, the last page of human history, like hell I'm going to let the story end this way. I may be the last one, but I am the one still standing. I am the one turning to face the faceless hunter in the woods on an abandoned highway. I am the one not running but facing. Because if I am the last one, then I am humanity. And if this is humanity's last war, then I am the battlefield.”
I connected most with Cassie's character. She isn't super strong, she doesn't have amazing accuracy with a bow and arrow...she's not special in any way. Cassie is just an average girl, trying to keep going when all seems lost. She made a promise, and she's not about to break it. That will to live, that strength of character, that's what I loved best about her. The other characters didn't endear themselves to me as much, obviously, but I appreciated their points-of-view and what they brought to the story. At times, the transitions in perspective did get a tad confusing, and it wasn't immediately apparent why it was necessary to include the perspective of Cassie's five-year-old brother Sammy -- especially when his inner thoughts didn't always measure up to what one might expect from someone so young -- but much more time was spent with Cassie than any other character, making it easier for me to wrap my head around the bigger picture here.
Also, the fact that there were two narrators for this audiobook helped a great deal in lessening the confusion during POV switches. The narrative voice of Cassie was, well, phenomenal, and Phoebe Strole nailed it. She voiced Cassie's hopes and concerns with the intensity that one would expect from this situation, as if she herself were living this nightmare. And Brandon Espinoza didn't do such a bad job either. He had several characters to lend his voice to, and he managed to make each one stand out. Even the Silencer. (Yes, you get to read from an alien's perspective for all of about ten pages...but it's worth it. Trust me.) I truly hope both of these narrators return for the sequel's audiobook.
“There's an old saying about truth setting you free. Don't buy it. Sometimes the truth slams the cell door shut and throws a thousand bolts.”
Cassie faces many challenges on her quest to keep her promise. But the other characters in this story face no less hardship. Possibly the most difficult challenge any of them faces is who to trust. The dynamic that develops between the different characters as their paths are set to converge is believable, if nothing else. Both Ben and Evan are great male leads -- though, neither holds a candle to that Cassie -- but the romance that develops was a little...unsettling. At first. It goes back to that whole trust no one mantra Cassie repeats to herself for most of the book. I like where it's going, though. But this is not a love story...it's an alien invasion story, and Mr. Yancey won't let you forget it.
“It's an either/or world now.”
The 5th Wave is very action-driven, and it keeps you guessing. Sure, some of the twists are easy to predict, but because of how they're written and how they're alluded to, it didn't bother me. In fact, it just made me want to sit in the car and continue listening, to see if I was right and see how those twists affected the story and the characters. This book is intense and riveting -- a real page-turner -- and I expect to see an even more explosive continuation of this story line, come August 2014. This was my first Rick Yancey novel, but it will absolutely, positively not be my last.
“Some things you can never leave behind. They don't belong to the past. They belong to you.”
And Kasie West does it again. It's now guaranteed that I will purchase a copy of every book she writes, even if I've already read a review copy. It's my desire and my duty to support and promote such awesome authors. West just jam-packs her novels with imaginative storylines and humor and swoons and just everything that makes a book fun.
I loved diving into the world of the Compound, into the seedy underbelly of it, as it were. We get to experience more of their tech, their hierarchy, and what crossing them leads to. We also get to see more of life outside of the Compound and just how hard it is to keep it a secret from your average human. So, in essence, this sequel built upon everything I already loved in Pivot Point.
This time around, we don't get to experience two different paths Addie's life could take by way of the Search. Oh, she still uses her power -- when she remembers it! -- but it's in small doses as compared to what we saw in the first book. And her power has changed...it's evolved into something more, which was quite interesting to witness as Addie practiced it.
In this book, Addie is spending her winter break with her father in the Norm world, so to fill in the gaps with what's happening back at the Compound, we've got Laila's point-of-view. I wasn't sure how this would sit with me, considering her betrayal in the last book. Yes, I know she was coerced into it, but it still felt like betrayal, and I'm not the only one having a hard time coming back from that. Addie hasn't voiced her lack of trust in her best friend, but it's easy to see in what she doesn't say.
The Addie-Trevor thing is still there, even if neither understands why they feel such a connection since they can't remember how it was forged in the first place. Even if Trevor is starting to become suspicious of Addie, after witnessing a couple superhuman feats of speed. It's still just as sweet and adorable as it was in the first book, though. But now that we have Laila's perspective, we have another ship to cling to. Where Addie and Trevor are almost saccharine sweet, Laila and Connor are like Sour Patch Kids: first they're sour, then they're sweet. I loved how their relationship progressed, what they were willing to do for each other, what they learned about and from each other, how they made it work. I don't know if I'd call it a slow-burning kind of romance because I felt the intensity of their feelings almost immediately, and it wasn't entirely a hate-to-love type of romance either because of that. It was just perfect for the characters that they were. So, if you were afraid after the ending in Pivot Point that the sequel would be lacking in swoons, fret not. Kasie West wouldn't do us that way. =)
Also, lots of stuff happens. Like, stuff that even *I* didn't see coming, which is quite unusual indeed. And it all wraps up nicely. I'm a super-huge fan of duologies these days. Like, over-the-moon happy with this trend. Less waiting. More story but with less filler. Yep. Let's keep this duet-thing going, okay? That said, I'd still be okay with a third book in this series because I still have a ton of unanswered questions about Addie and this world.
If you liked Pivot Point, you're going to like Split Second, no doubt about it. If you haven't started this series yet, I highly recommend it. It's just fun. Good, good fun. It's got superpowers, football, swoons, and -- maybe not best of all, but I still highly treasure this fact -- it's set in Dallas where yours truly is from!
GIF it to me straight: Yeah, I'm like crazy-person happy! Such a fun series!(less)
When I started These Broken Stars, I think I was expecting something along the lines of Beth Revis' Across the Universe series. I liked the first two...moreWhen I started These Broken Stars, I think I was expecting something along the lines of Beth Revis' Across the Universe series. I liked the first two books in that series, but I haven't been compelled to complete the trilogy, though that may have something to do with the cover re-design mid-series and my ownership of the first two books with the old cover. But I digress. These Broken Starsfar surpassed any previous held notions about the book, and if I had the next two companion novels in my possession, I wouldn't be talking to you right now because I'd be glued to those pages, just as I was with These Broken Stars.
These Broken Stars does include mystery and intrigue reminiscent of that in Across the Universe, and the setting does begin on a spaceship far from Earth, but that's honestly where the similarities ended for me. This space opera is unlike any science fiction piece I've ever read. The prose is rife with beautiful imagery and sentiments, and the story itself possesses an otherworldliness that I find it challenging to express in words, though the authors had no such difficulties.
I've been a fan of sci-fi since I was a wee thing, thanks to my Star Trek-loving father, and yet I don't think I've ever experienced a sci-fi story that touched me as much as this one, that had me thinking about it weeks later. Because though this story begins on a spaceship with a girl who's nearly royalty and a boy who's anything but, it quickly morphs into a story of survival, of love and loss and everything in between.
There's so much I want to say about this story, but I fear revealing too much, so I'll just focus on the things I can talk about, like the characters. Lilac is that girl who is just so much more than she appears to be. She puts on a front for everyone, but inside, she's dying a little bit every day, having to pretend to be the perfect daughter of the universe's most powerful man. Lilac has suffered losses in her life, and though outwardly she appears fine, it's obvious from the chapters told from her point-of-view that those losses still weigh heavily on her.
Tarver is handsome and stoic and immediately captivated by the beautiful Lilac. He's a military hero who wouldn't have even been on the Icarus, had he been given a choice in the matter, but it's lucky for Lilac that he was. Tarver, too, knows loss, and in their efforts to survive after the crash, the two bond and forge a connection that neither one is sure will survive their rescue. I enjoyed watching these two characters, who normally keep so much inside, come out of their shells with each other, and their subsequent reactions to each other were even more interesting. As Lilac proved there was more to her than pretty dresses and galas, Tarver showed that he had a softer side. They each brought out the best in each other. (You can read my interview with Tarver tomorrow as part of the blog tour!)
That cover is just so stunning and full of elements I find so romantic, so I did have some lofty expectations for the romance in this story. I was not disappointed. I was, however, surprised again and again at the direction the story took and where it left the characters, but I was never once disappointed. It's actually quite refreshing that the authors were so daring and dramatic with this story, and the proof is in the fact that I spilled tears for these characters and what they were going through. Not only is the story full of the swoons, but I felt ALL THE FEELS.
And even knowing how it ends, I'm already itching to experience all of it again. These Broken Stars is such an impressive debut, the story so compelling and breathtaking. The novel is a collaborative effort and is told from dual perspectives, and each voice is unique to the character, proving that this co-author team is a force to be reckoned with. Even the brief bits of Tarver's interrogation preceding each chapter were masterfully done, bringing the reader into the story and cluing us into the end game piece by piece.
These Broken Stars is gorgeous and cinematic while remaining suspenseful and inimitable, and I highly recommend it, not just to sci-fi fans but to everyone. This book was just so readable and I breezed through it, wishing I'd paced myself when the story was over. I can't wait to see what the authors have in store for us next, and I hope that though the next story is a companion to this one, maybe we'll get another glimpse of Tarver and Lilac and what became of them. A girl can hope, right?
Be sure to stop by tomorrow for my interview with Tarver as part of the blog tour hosted by The Midnight Garden!
Thanks to Disney Hyperion for providing an ARC for review!
I've never read The Scarlet Pimpernel, but already, I think I would prefer this reimagining over the original tale, simply because the principle chara...moreI've never read The Scarlet Pimpernel, but already, I think I would prefer this reimagining over the original tale, simply because the principle character is female in this story. I really love to see a girl in the role of spy, risking life and limb for her fellow man. What's more, I liked that everyone, and I mean everyone, assumed that the Wild Poppy was a man. I think that's why I favor this narrative without having ever read the other...the unwillingness of others in the story to believe that a woman could possibly be the culprit behind the rescue attempts is quite comical, especially in the foreign land of Galatea, where women are allowed to hold positions of power.
Persis surprises everyone with her antics, even those closest to her, not because they don't think her capable, but because for the last six months, she has been pretending to be someone she's not. And it wasn't the Wild Poppy. She was very clever in making herself over as the ditsy heiress who prefers fashion over politics because who in their right mind could believe that such a girl could ever mastermind -- let alone complete -- the daring rescues that the Wild Poppy is infamous for?
Persis is underestimated at every turn, so is it any wonder that her fauxmantic love interest believes her to be nothing more than a pretty face? Justen Helo is a scientist, a revolutionary one at that, and though he is very obviously physically attracted to Persis, he feels he could never care for someone who so clearly cares so little for the plight of his own countrymen. But as their fauxmance continues, Justen gets glimpses of the real Persis, the one the reader already knows. And yet it still never occurs to him that she might be the Wild Poppy, despite all evidence pointing to the contrary. But these little glimpses do help Justen to see another side of Persis, one he might actually like. It's pretty clear to the reader that these two are well-suited for each other, but since Justen is kept in the dark about Persis' secret identity, it takes him a lot longer to see their compatibility; meanwhile, Persis hates that she has to hide her real self from him.
As per usual, Diana Peterfreunds' writing and attention to detail is phenomenal. Her prose is just as stunning as the beautiful things she's using her words to describe, whether it be Persis' nimble sea mink or the gorgeous gowns and hairstyles of the aristocrats in New Pacifica. The story is essentially all Persis', but it is told via third person from that of her companions and cohorts from time to time, as well, and though I don't prefer this method normally because it lends itself to predictability, I found it rather enlightening in this instance.
You don't have to have read For Darkness Shows the Stars prior to reading this companion novel, but I highly recommend it. Each novel had a distinct feel to it, and each was a complete and whole story on its own. But to truly understand the political intrigue and its foundations in the history of these countries, you'd need a better grasp on the Reduction and its origins, and the first novel in this series does a better job of explaining it. Also, some old friends from For Darkness Shows the Stars make a surprise appearance in this novel, and it was nice to revisit them and their story, especially since not much time has elapsed since their story concluded in the first book.
Across a Star-Swept Sea is rife with moral dilemmas, gallant rescues, science and technology, and sweet romances. It's got something for everyone. It's a very different sort of book from the first in the series, but both books complement each other well. I believe this is only a duology, but I'm still hoping for more, as I wasn't quite ready for either set of characters' stories to end yet.
Thanks to HarperCollins and Edelweiss for providing a review copy!
So, I'm of the mind that Victoria Schwab is just bloody brilliant. True, I enjoyed this novel j...moreThis review can also be found at The Starry-Eyed Revue.
So, I'm of the mind that Victoria Schwab is just bloody brilliant. True, I enjoyed this novel just a smidgeon less than I did The Archived series, but even so, I loved Vicious in ways I never expected to. I often cringe when I read that a protagonist envisions themselves climbing into another person and becoming one with them, but dammit if I wouldn't just love to climb into Victoria's brain and live there, pick it apart and see how it works. Okay, that sounds a little creepy when I see it in writing, but you know what I mean.
This is an adult book that follows two young men with special abilities over the course of a decade. Victor and Eli were not born with these abilities. They were scientists, playing God and endangering their own lives in the process. These two best friends quickly become enemies when their experiments go awry, and the results are detailed in this book. But they are not the only humans with these "superpowers", which is what piqued their interest in the matter to begin with.
There are some characters you are supposed to connect with, others you are supposed to loathe, and then there are the characters that you dissect. Vicious is made up entirely of the latter. In this story, there is no good or evil, no black and white...only shades of grey. And there is definitely no shortage of morally ambiguous characters here. I expected this book to be full of men leaping buildings in a single bound or people who could stop a speeding car with the flat of their palm. And there are different people -- called ExtraOrdinaries, or EOs, for short -- with different abilities in this book, but the people and their gifts are far superior to any comic book characters you already know.
Schwab's writing is dark and brilliant and utterly fascinating. The plotting is so intricate and though some aspects are easy to guess, it's just so compelling watching as the story unfolds. Vicious aides the reader in putting the pieces together by traveling from present to past and back again through alternating chapters. The past to present dynamic, reminiscent of the method used in All Our Yesterdays, really changes how a story unfolds and how you meet certain characters and in what circumstances, and I find it entirely captivating.
This is not your average superhero book. It is about power, obsession, jealousy, and yes, supernatural abilities. But what I loved best was how this story explored the fine line between good and evil, right and wrong, and how easy it is to blur the two when one's motives are in question. I also just really enjoyed cheering for the antihero. I'll be reading The Near Witch soon and then I don't know what I'll do with myself besides cry rivers because I won't have another Victoria Schwab novel to read for ages. =(
GIF it to me straight: This novel would make a spectacular movie!(less)
Death to everyone! Okay, not really, but damn. After the ending to Unravelingand now this, I know not to get too attached to anyone...moreActual Rating: 1/2
Death to everyone! Okay, not really, but damn. After the ending to Unraveling and now this, I know not to get too attached to anyone when it comes to this author! And no fakesies or take-backs. This shit is for real. But is it the end? And who are those extra people on the cover?
I don't have any answers for you, but I have some guesses. And some of that might be spoilery. Bewares. First, is this a duology? It makes sense based on where this book left off, and if it is, I'm totally okay with that. I like when an author realizes they have enough material for two books and not three. Every series does not have to be a trilogy. I wouldn't mind reading more of this world, but with several really good characters out of the picture, I'm not sure my heart would be entirely in it. As far as the cover goes, I think it's pretty easy to guess that the couple in the forefront is Janelle and Ben. But who are those other two? Based on his attire, I'm going to hazard a guess that the guy on the left is Barclay -- he is often described as wearing military-type gear, which makes sense since he's an IA agent. Plus, he plays a much bigger role in this sequel than he did in the first. As for the girl, well, (view spoiler)[the cover for Unraveling showed multiple versions of both Ben and Janelle, so what's not to say there's a little of that going on here, too? Though, she does look a bit different, doesn't she? ;) (hide spoiler)]
Hmmm....at this point, I don't know whether to recommend reading the Undone novella prior to Unbreakable or not. It helped me to figure out some things much sooner than the characters did, but I don't know if I really liked having advance knowledge in this instance. It's definitely worth a read, though, since you get Ben's POV. :)
We already know that I rather liked Ben and Janelle's relationship in the first book. And Barclay was but a bit player in Unraveling. At least, that's what it seemed like to me before reading Unbreakable. But in this sequel, Ben is less of a prospect and more of a suspect. He's kind of MIA for a big chunk of the book. And I thought I'd miss him. But then Barclay turned up in Janelle's world again, and I was kind of like, "Ben, who?"
As in Unraveling, no one is safe in this second installment. Don't get too close to anyone. Don't get cozy with where the story is headed. Pretty much, just expect the unexpected, and even then, I still think you'll be surprised. Oh, but if I scared you with my brazen shipping of someone other than Banelle, don't worry; there truly is no love triangle to speak of. It's all in my head. o_O
This time around, I didn't have an ARC to fall back on whenever I stepped out of the car or finished the housework. But it didn't matter. I kept on listening. Katie Schorr proved once again that she was the narrator for the job, and she has definitely found a place on my list of favorite narrators. And so I'll just repeat what I said about her narration for Unraveling: Katie Schorr was an excellent pick for narrator of this book. She really gets Janelle's dry wit and sarcasm and she nails those one-liners. The narrator also portrays Ben perfectly as the quiet, reserved love interest. Schorr seemlessly pulled off the witty banter between many of the characters. I never lost track of who was speaking, and I never lost interest in the story...obviously."
Lots of action. Lots of crazy. Lots of crazy action. I'd love to tell you more, but man, books like this are so much better when you go into them knowing very little. Trust me, though, if you liked the first book, and you were left tragically empty at the end of Unraveling -- before we knew a sequel was in the works -- then you'll definitely want to pick up Unbreakable. Elizabeth Norris seriously rocks some sci-fi.
This review can also be found at The Starry-Eyed Revue.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
I would be fine if we never encountered the Lunar queen again in this series, but I know that's not going to happen. Having the ability to compel othe...moreI would be fine if we never encountered the Lunar queen again in this series, but I know that's not going to happen. Having the ability to compel others to bend to one's will makes a person a very worthy adversary, and so I know we have much more of Levana's presence to tolerate. Though, I do hope she gets her comeuppance, especially now that I know the full extent of the atrocities she is willing to commit.
I did like the introduction to Z in this short story, and I hope that his character is featured prominently in the upcoming Scarlet. Possibly as Wolf? Scarlet is a retelling of Red Riding Hood, so it would make sense. And after reading this short story, it seems totally possible that Z becomes known as Wolf, who is described in the synopsis of Scarlet as "a street fighter" who "clearly has a few dark secrets of his own".
Short and sweet, this prequel story shows us Cinder's introduction to her new family and not only her reaction but their reaction to her. I think it w...moreShort and sweet, this prequel story shows us Cinder's introduction to her new family and not only her reaction but their reaction to her. I think it was pretty evident in Cinder that Adri was not happy with Cinder's addition to her family, but Glitches presents a little more background as to why.
I thought it was rather endearing to see how Cinder was acclimating not only to her new role in a family that mostly objected to her presence but also to her new status as a cyborg. She can't remember the accident or much of anything of her life before coming to New Beijing, but it's obvious to her how very different she is now. I loved Cinder's character in the first full-length novel in this series, and it hurts my heart to see how her situation in that novel came about.
Hmmm...what to say about this finale that hasn't already been said? Well, how about the fact that I didn't seem to enjoy it nearly as much as everyone else? Oh, it was a solid finish, don't get me wrong. But I found my mind wandering a lot. I cared what happened to Aria and Perry and Roar -- obviously, or I wouldn't have bothered picking this book up -- but it wasn't with any sense of urgency.
I don't know whether this is related to my recent apathy towards finales in general, or if it had more to do with all the great reviews I'd seen circulating prior to my reading of the title and the expectations that arose in me because of them. But I am seriously feeling some series finale burnout right now. And maybe just series burnout in general. I'm really trying to limit the number of series I start this year because of it. But I digress. I saw great reviews, I knew I'd love this one, and then...I didn't.
I didn't hate it. There was plenty of action and suspense. Plenty of Aria and Perry and plenty of sweet moments between them. I could have used more Roar, though. I could always use more Roar. It wasn't until the last quarter or so of the book that I found myself engaged by the story again. Maybe it was the fact that I found it rather easy to predict the twists, the betrayals, the way in which plans would go awry. I don't know. I wish I could explain why this book hit me differently than the previous two, which I loved. I wish someone else could explain it to me.
Into the Still Blue didn't feel any different than Under the Never Sky or Through the Ever Night. The characters were still great, having already been fleshed out in the previous books. The setting was just as awe-inspiring, with the aether swirling in the sky and the Still Blue calling to anyone who dared to survive. The villains were just as villainous as I remembered, too. But something was missing. Or, maybe I was just anticipating missing this series and the wonderful characters Rossi has created, and so I hardened my heart against this book before I even got to feel anything.
I'm going to go with that last one because so many of my friends thought this was one of the best finales they've read, and that sounds about right, considering my love for the rest of the series. So, take this review with a grain of salt. I feel like I'm not in my right mind, which is part of the reason I waited so long to post this review.
GIF it to me straight: It's cliché, I know...(less)
**Some material in this novel may only be suitable for ages 17+ due to sexual content.**
What is it about this author's books that makes me impatient t...more**Some material in this novel may only be suitable for ages 17+ due to sexual content.**
What is it about this author's books that makes me impatient to click that button and request them, only to feel hesitant and lukewarm toward them when it comes time to actually read them? Clarke had already proven to me with The Assassin's Curse that she's a gifted writer, and I'll be reading the sequel to that novel very soon. So, tell me again, why I decided to put off reading The Mad Scientist's Daughter, only to be coerced and nagged into reading it by my good friend Em?!? Because ultimately, I loved this novel. It's like nothing I've read before, but it felt so familiar because of how genuine the story and characters were.
This novel is adult in nature...I can't stress that enough. And I do so because when I requested it on Netgalley, I was under the impression that it was a young adult novel. In all fairness, the first half of the novel does focus on a young Cat and her growing pains, but she does mature into a woman over the course of the book, and there are definitely some situations that might not be suitable for younger audiences.
This book served as a reminder of every bad decision I ever made along the way to adulthood...and then some. They might not have been as monumental as Cat's mistakes -- not all of them, anyway -- but they led to the same type of emotional suffering Cat endured for much of this story. And it IS a sad, lonely, painful story. At one point, I remember asking Em why she was making me read this because my poor heart almost couldn't take it. Talk about realistic.
I liked Cat's progression as a character, though there were definitely times I was ready to give up on her. It wasn't just her bad decision-making skills but also her handling of the consequences and how that affected those she cared about. Initially, I sympathized with her, then I blamed her for her selfishness, and then I went back to sympathizing. Cat was an oddly likeable character for me, despite her many flaws.
And then there's the matter of the android Finn, who I loved from the moment he was introduced, despite how unnatural and robotic he was in the beginning. As the situation changed, he adapted, thanks to programming installed by Cat's father. And despite the fact that he was Cat's emotional opposite, I still felt he was every bit as human as she was, regardless of how much wiring and circuitry inhabited his body.
I was trying to think of the best way to describe this impossible romance and the world it dwells in, and the one example that kept coming to mind was Blade Runner. Not that the technology in TMSD is anything like that of the movie...there are androids and a mission to Mars, but people still drive cars and use slates, which sound pretty comparable to the iPad of today. But it was the illicit love affair between a blade runner and a replicant that I was reminded of when I thought of the forbidden relationship between Cat and Finn. I felt like this should have been squicky, but I just thought it was hot. Finn was a man in nearly every way, after all.
I listened to the audio for The Mad Scientist's Daughter despite having the galley because I knew Em wasn't going to leave me alone about it. But that was a great decision, anyway, because the narrator is the same as for The Fault in Our Stars and she was terrific...for both books. Kate Rudd made Cat sound every bit the hapless, helpless daughter of a brilliant physicist. Finn was made to sound just robotic enough not to be human, which worked well since some of the characters in the book didn't even realize he was an android until they'd been told as much. Rudd is definitely working her way into the ranks of my favorite audiobook narrators.
If you liked The Assassin's Curse, I definitely suggest giving this one a try because the writing is just as good, though the story is entirely different. Cassandra Rose Clarke is definitely going on my auto-buy author list. And not just because she's a Texas author, though that doesn't hurt. =)
Thanks to Angry Robot & Netgalley for providing a copy for review.
I still remember when I first discovered that this book existed. Or would exist, at any rate. And then I saw the cover, and I was in love. I knew that...moreI still remember when I first discovered that this book existed. Or would exist, at any rate. And then I saw the cover, and I was in love. I knew that this book and I were destined for a long and happy life together.
Arclight is a creepy science fiction thriller that keeps the suspense building and building until the bottom drops out and you're left with your mouth hanging wide open and your constitution severely shaken. Creatures lurking in the shadows -- or blending into the walls altogether, as the case may be -- these are the things that elicit the most visceral of reactions in me and end up haunting my dreams until I move on to something warm and fluffy. (Just thinking about that click-clack again gives me the chills!) This book is equal parts eerie and scientific speculation, with most of the crazy scary stuff occurring in the first half of the book. If you were under the impression that this story held a tale of dystopian woe, you are looking in the wrong place. This is a community formed after the fall of the world as we know it, but that is a lesser focus of the book, much to my delight.
This narrative focuses on Marina, a girl who mysteriously survived the Fade (more on them in a bit) but has no recollection of who she was prior to arriving at the Arclight. That in itself is frightening, but add to it the fact that the Fade want her back, and the situation becomes pretty bleak. Marina takes everything in stride, all things considered, but she finds it hard to fit in and even harder to make friends. In truth, I found it hard to identify with Marina myself, most especially because she had nothing to identify herself with, not even her real name. Even though this story is narrated by Marina, it's hard to connect with her, though I eventually overcame that. Her lack of memory means there's a distinct lack of introspective reflection, meaning the only way to get to know her better is through her interactions with others.
There's a boy -- isn't there always? -- who remains just as much of a mystery to Marina as she does to the rest of the Arclight. Through a series of events (the aforementioned creepy), they are forced together, and despite an awkward start, something kind of awesome develops between them. Unfortunately, there is a bit of a triangle, but it never really plunges into that cringe-worthy territory, mostly because Marina is able to leave the past in the past, even if she is unsure of who she is in the present.
Those Fade...they're a part of the past, present, and future. There's no avoiding it. And once we learn what they are and where they came from -- and that they've evolved since their first incarnation -- they become a little less frightening. I think it was always a fear of the unknown, of that big, dark void beyond the Arclight, that truly plagued its residents. Sure, the fear of the Fade, not knowing their motivations or their intentions, was real, especially after losing loved ones to the darkness outside the Arclight, but I think it also stems from the perceived protection of the Arclight. Taking down those barricades and seeing how each side reacted was exhilarting, to say the least.
The only really negative thing I have to say about Arclight is with regards to how predictable a certain plot development was and the protagonist's refusal to acknowledge it, even though most readers will see the big twist coming from a mile away. And honestly, the predictability didn't bother me all that much because the story as a whole was so entertaining, so well-written. Arclight is a really great mix of horror and sci-fi, and I had a hard time putting it down. This was such a great book about loss and finding oneself, and I can't wait to see what the author does with similar themes in the more contemporary novel she has due out later this year. I don't want to call her a master of suspense quite yet, but I have a feeling I won't be disappointed with her future endeavors either.
Thanks to Greenwillow Books/HarperCollins for providing a review copy.
An ARC of this title was received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. However, this review is for the audiobook version I purchased m...moreAn ARC of this title was received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. However, this review is for the audiobook version I purchased myself.
So, I had this ARC of Cress sitting on my shelf for months, and I really wanted to return to this story and the amazing world that Marissa Meyer has created. But I also really like to continue a series via the same method with each book, and since I listened to both Cinder and Scarlet on audiobook, that meant I had to wait like everyone else.
But it was worth it. Sooo worth it to hear Rebecca Soler bring these characters to life again. I don't think I'd like these books half as much if it weren't for her narration. That's a lie. I'd still love them, but it just wouldn't be as much fun because I wouldn't make Cinder sound as feisty in my head, Kai wouldn't seem nearly as regal, Scarlet wouldn't have that slight French accent, and Thorne, well, okay, Captain Carswell Thorne will always be that swoonworthy rogue. But you get the picture. Some audiobooks are just books that are being read to you via some unknown narrator, but the Lunar Chronicles on audio is like having a movie going inside your head. It's impossible not to put yourself in the story, to imagine everything as it's happening and hope for the best right along with the rest of the crew. Rebecca Soler's narration of this series is pure magic, and even if I were to get an advance copy of Winter -- assuming they will exist -- I'd still probably opt for the audio version because it's just. So. Much. Fun.
No matter how much I started off enjoying this series, I'm constantly surprised by it. Each book just gets progressively better, introducing new characters and new villains and new romances. And somehow, no one ever gets left out or sidelined in order to concentrate on a different story arc. No matter who the leading lady is in each book, the others are not forgotten. I follow the author's blog and Twitter and I know how crazy-organized she is and has to be in order to keep all of these storylines in check, so I can imagine how easy it might be to let a character fall by the wayside. But Meyer never does, and you seriously have to applaud what a masterful storyteller she is.
And I love seeing how everyone's story is coming together, how everyone fits into this giant picture Meyer undoubtedly has in her head. Her reimagining of some of my favorite childhood fairy tales is beautifully done, and I love how the author has woven bits of science and fantasy into her stories to create something fresh and vibrant and completely her own. In this installment, it's Rapunzel's turn in the spotlight, with Cress as the damsel in distress, imprisoned in a satellite orbiting Earth, far from her hero's reach. And yet, that daring Thorne makes a rescue attempt anyway. (He wouldn't be our dashing hero if he didn't, now would he?)
I have to admit, I like Thorne with the feisty Cinder better. But as her heart is elsewhere and Thorne only seems to relish pushing her buttons, plus the fact that Cress is almost obsessive when it comes to the Captain, it was inevitable that Cress and Thorne should be paired together. I just wish Cress weren't so consumed with the do-gooder she believes Thorne to be, and I wish that I knew whether Thorne was being honest when he explained that he didn't do those things out of the goodness of his heart. Also, Cress seems a bit immature for a cad like Carswell Thorne, but maybe that's just the kind of girl he needs. I guess only time will tell.
If the previous books were action-packed, then this one is just plain explosive. There are shocking revelations and touching reunions and kidnapping plots and all manner of craziness. Things are lost. Things are gained....only to be lost again. And there are swoons. Not nearly enough but I'm really hoping for an epic finale when it comes to that department. Like I said, this series just gets better with each installment. So, if that holds true with Winter -- and I have no doubt it will -- we'd all better gird our loins because we are truly in for it now. I'm ready to see Queen Levana get her evil comeuppance, and I'm eager for more than a few happy endings for our storybook heroes.
GIF it to me straight: Sci-fi/fantasy that is just good, wholesome fun. I love this series!(less)
We've all wondered what might have been, where life might have taken us if we'd done things just a little differently. I know I have. B...more**4 1/2 stars**
We've all wondered what might have been, where life might have taken us if we'd done things just a little differently. I know I have. But Addison Coleman has a gift: she is divergent, which means she has the ability to view a choice by looking into the future for a specified period of time and determining which path will leave her with the least regrets once it's run its course. Her ability is often confused with clairvoyance by her peers, but either way, it's a superpower I wouldn't mind having.
When I started Pivot Point, I was expecting more of a science fiction story, mostly because of the paranormal elements and superpowers, but in truth, once Addie uses her power and the two paths diverge, it became more of a contemporary story, not that I'm complaining. Each chapter is split between her time in the Compound (PARA) and her time in the Normal world (NORM). At times, the two paths converged, and I liked the sense that no matter which choice(s) you make, some things are meant to be. Maybe it's not set in stone how they come about, but one way or another, they are going to occur.
Besides the diverging path plotline, there was an underlying murder mystery plot that I found equally intriguing. Even more so was how it involved Addie and those closest to her and it ended up intermingling with each of the separate lives Addie was living. And even better was the fact that I thought I'd put all the pieces together, that I knew who the culprit was and how they were doing it, only to be completely blind-sided by several aspects of the story at the conclusion. Bravo to all these new YA reads that are capable of fully throwing me off the trail. I'm an avid reader and that's admittedly a hard feat for a novel/author to accomplish. So, whether the author really is that tricksy or I'm simply so immersed in the story that I'm not watching as closely for clues, the author deserves a big ole pat on the back.
I immediately connected with the characters, as well, even the ones I didn't like so much, because they all felt authentic and true to self. Each of Addie's relationships -- be it with her parents, her best friend, or the potential love interests -- was realistic and full of the emotions and drama that befit a confused teenage girl. Not once did I question the authenticity of Addie's narration or whether she was manipulating Searches for the best possible outcome. It was clear that she used her gift with extreme caution, unlike many of her fellow paranormals.
One aspect I would have liked to see expanded was the setting, both in the Compound and in the Normal world, but that's simply because the book is set in Texas, specifically Dallas in the Normal world, and I love novels set where I live. But the only thing that really came about because of the setting was the stereotypical obsession with football. I get it. Anyone who's seen Friday Night Lights assumes all Texans are inclined toward a preoccupation with the sport. Whatever. It's fine...I just think that more could have been done with the setting and the abilities, but this is totally on a personal level and should no way impact your reading enjoyment because the passion for football does play an important role in both of Addie's paths. I'm just spittin' out my two cents here.
Overall, I really enjoyed Pivot Point. I've never seen that movie Sliding Doors, though I've heard that's the best comparison to make for this book. Either way, I loved the duality of this book, the two possible outcomes. I mean, how do you choose if both options seem right...or if neither of them do? That's a difficult question that inevitably leads me to believe that it's better that I can't see the outcome of my decisions until it's too late. Be steadfast in your choices and have no regrets, right? At any rate, I liked the ending to this book immensely and am so excited to see that this is only the first book in a series. I can't wait to see what other paths Addie's decisions might lead her down.
"When I read, I feel emotion all on my own. Emotion no living person is making me feel."
Thanks to HarperTeen & Edelweiss for providing a copy for review.
Smokin' hot cover ALERT! Okay, soooo...yeah, maybe that's what got my attention -- props to the pub -- but the premise also intrigued me. Four boys wh...moreSmokin' hot cover ALERT! Okay, soooo...yeah, maybe that's what got my attention -- props to the pub -- but the premise also intrigued me. Four boys who don't remember a thing before waking up in an underground lab where they are continually tested and experimented on, without their consent? Now they've escaped and they're taking Anna with them? Yeah, count me in for that ride.
What a remarkable debut from Jennifer Rush! I mean, I expected to like it, what with the action, the chase, and the promise of romance, but I'm kind of blown away with how MUCH I liked it. Like stayed-up-until-the- wee-hours-of-the-morning-reading-it liked it. Hot boys are hot boys are hot boys, but when you consider the genetic alterations and the personalities of each boy and then throw in an innocent girl who's been their friend for the duration of their captivity, you get an awesome cast of characters and a group dynamic that almost becomes a character itself.
All of the boys are around 18, though they've all looked 18 since Anna met them five years ago, and they are all beautiful. Nick is, as one character describes him, "all brass and balls." He assumes that whatever came before the lab isn't worth remembering, so he doesn't even want to try. And he is very distrustful of Anna, with seemingly no reason to be. Cas is the joker of the group, the one who can make light of any situation, and nothing seems to be able to hold his attention for very long...except Anna's cookies. Trev is Anna's best friend -- remember, she's very sheltered because of the Branch operations, so these boys are all she knows -- and he has a finesse for remembering things, especially famous quotations.
Sam is the leader of the group. He is stoic and mild-mannered, but he's caught the attention of Anna. Anna, who is under the assumption that these boys are being trained as the ultimate soldiers for our country. Although the boys can't remember anything of their past lives, they seem to know that this is not true. Without alerting Anna or her father to the plan, the boys formulate a means of escape. You could feel the urge to leave emanating off of them through the pages, especially Sam, but it caught Anna unawares.
The resulting cat and mouse game between the boys and Anna and the Branch agents is exciting and exhilarating as the boys and Anna race to unlock the secrets of their past before they are apprehended. But just as they find one answer, more questions are brought to the surface. As the situation becomes more dire, it becomes evident that they can't trust anyone, maybe not even each other.
This fast-paced thriller kept me glued to the pages, turning them faster and faster as more clues were uncovered. Some aspects were a tad predictable but for the most part, I found myself surprised time and again as I read. And although this is the first book in a planned series, it read as a stand-alone and ended on a note that only hinted at future goings-on. So, you don't have to commit to reading past this first book, but I don't know why you wouldn't want to. =)
"An unremarkable green, like river water, his eyes were nothing to look at, but they were something else to be watched with."
"Hope is a waking dream. I let the words echo in my head. The quote reminded me of that feeling you get when you start to wake from a dream you don't want to leave. That crushing sensation in the center of your chest, like you are losing an important piece of yourself you won't ever get back."
"You're the only person I trust. That's not something to waste."
First, if you haven't already, you should read the FREE prequel story titled The Queen's Army. You can also purchase it for your e-reader, but it's fr...moreFirst, if you haven't already, you should read the FREE prequel story titled The Queen's Army. You can also purchase it for your e-reader, but it's free on Tor.com, and it's relatively short, so reading on your comp shouldn't be an issue. I mean, it's not absolutely imperative that you read it prior to Scarlet, but it gives you some background on a few characters that makes this story all the more intriguing.
If you'll remember, I was more than a little hesitant to read Cinder last year. In fact, I waited until just a few months before Scarlet's release to even give it a chance. But once I did, I was mesmerized. And I immediately wanted to read the sequel. However, I resisted the urge to read that five chapter preview (linked at the top). I'm an all-or-nothing kind of girl, and I knew a mere five chapters would do nothing to satiate my hunger for more of this story. So, I waited till the day of release and downloaded the audio to my phone first thing that morning...and had it finished in a couple of days. (And then I received a review copy from Macmillan Audio and reprimanded myself for being sooo impatient...I knew it was supposed to be on its way, but I just couldn't wait. :D)
Rebecca Soler's narration of Scarlet is even more intense and evocative than her recitation of the Cinder audiobook, which I also loved. There are more characters and there's more action, and she delivers just the right emotional punch to make the listener as much a part of the story as the characters themselves. Soler provides just the right amount of quirky, cocky and reticence to make each character a separate entity within the story. I truly hope this narrator performs the rest of the series, as she really does justice to this story and its many facets.
Scarlet's story is no more compelling or heart-wrenching than Cinder's, but if I was forced to choose which character I liked more, I don't know if I could. Both girls are strong and capable, if not stubborn and impulsive, and each brought something to the table. Each of their stories is told separately -- interspersed with bits from Prince Kai's perspective as he plays at a battle of wills with Queen Levana -- until they finally converge and meet for the first time. There is animosity and little to no trust at first, but the beginnings of a mutual understanding -- and possibly friendship -- are there.
Besides Scarlet, the addition of new male counterparts to this storyline was, well, fun. Wolf was mysterious and brooding and at times, left you pondering whether he really was the Big Bad Wolf to Scarlet's Red Riding Hood. I just adored this enigmatic character and the various interactions with other characters, pleasant or not. Then there's the egotistical, self-important Captain Carswell Thorne. His banter with Cinder and the fact that he was only initially freaked out by her being a cyborg AND a Lunar immediately endeared him to me. Thorne also fancies himself a ladies' man, and although I would love to see a Cinder/Thorne pairing, I don't think that's in their future. Like I said, Thorne is a bit of a flirt, and Cinder is still hung up on Prince Kai. I'll still take their sarcastic back-and-forth any day, though.
While the characters are essentially my favorite aspect of this series because they're just so interesting, I still thoroughly enjoy the storyline and where it seems to be headed. Each book in this series is based on a fairy tale: Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel, and Snow White. I like retellings, but I'm not usually all that impressed with them, though this series is definitely the exception to that. So far, I'm loving how each story is incorporated into the plot yet still leaving Cinder's story as the focal point. I'm very curious to see how the other stories play into the bigger picture.
If Cinder was about lies and manipulation, then Scarlet's focus is on all of the secrets that led up to that. It's engrossing and fast-paced, the kind of story you never want to end. And when it does, you're wondering why you couldn't have made yourself wait until the entire story was told so that you don't have to wait another year for the next installment. At least, that's where I am at this point.
Thanks to Macmillan Audio for providing a copy for review.
After reading The Winner's Curse at the first of the year and falling head-over-heels for Marie Rutkoski's beautiful writing style and the beginning of what is sure to be a truly stunning trilogy, I knew I had to make time in my reading schedule for The Shadow Society. I have a signed copy after all. And then I saw that Kristen from My Friends Are Fiction was just starting it, and we decided to do a buddy read. (You can check out her review here.) This turned out to be a great decision because there was soooo much I wanted to discuss while reading, and Kristen was a fantastic buddy-reader. Probably doesn't hurt that we hardcore bonded over our love of this author's writing style, either.
To kick things off, I think I'd have to say that this novel has one of the best, most enticing prologues I've ever had the pleasure of reading. I couldn't not read the book after that! It packs a real punch, but it's the rest of the book that delivers. The Shadow Society is this really awesome alternate history/multiverse story, but that's not even the half of it. That aspect comes in to play over the course of the novel, but I wouldn't say it's the focal point of the story. No, that would probably be the war brewing between the Shades and humans in an alternate world where the Great Chicago Fire never happened. But I'll get to that.
"You stole it," I finally choked out. I felt as if Conn had seen me in nothing but my oldest, ugliest underwear.
I was a little worried about the amnesia plot in this story because those are always so hit or miss. But Darcy's memory loss is due to some traumatic event in her childhood, and I can get on board with PTSD-related amnesia. Especially when the memories return in the fashion that they do for Darcy: little by little, triggered by familiar faces and familiar places. And then those pieces start to add up, and everything falls into place for the reader at the same time it does for Darcy. I had my theories, of course, but considering the Shades are a completely new brand of paranormal creature, I was just as shocked as Darcy to learn the truth.
Darcy was a bit of an enigma at first. She doesn't fit in anywhere, but she has this really tight-knit group of friends. She's been passed from foster home to foster home since she was first found outside a fire station at the tender age of five, but now she's got a loving foster mother by way of Marsha. It seems that Darcy has finally found her place in this world...just in time to have it all taken away from her by a past -- another world -- she can't remember. All things considered, I think she handles the fall-out rather admirably.
The Shades are, essentially, children of the shadows. In their corporeal form, they look human, but they have the ability to make themselves invisible. And they use this ability to hide among the humans in their world, following them around like shadows and spying on them. For this reason, Darcy is valuable to both the Shades and the humans of that world. But she's especially important to Conn.
I don't know if you can call it a pattern when it only exists in two instances, but at the very least, the theme of betrayal is a commonality between both of the books I've read by Rutkoski. I'm equally drawn to storylines involving betrayal, so I get it. And I don't mind...I just think it's interesting how two stories can have the same basic premise but still be completely different and also captivating in their own rights. And as Kristen stated in our discussion over this book during our buddy read, I'd much rather the tension in the story come from some type of betrayal, as opposed to a misbegotten love triangle.
He grinned the first time I said it. "Pleasure later, then," he replied. But later was always later than that for me, and he grew sullen. I knew that I could change that, could heal the insecurity that shape-shifted Orion from a sly jester into someone who pouted. He pouted sexily and looked very kissable. Really, he was very everything. But he wasn't for me. In the midst of the lies I had to tell and secrets I had to keep and secrets I had to unearth, it felt important to be true to myself.
I guess I should mention that there are two interested parties, but this is clearly an instance of the love T, which I don't mind. Conn, despite his betrayal, is where Darcy's heart lies. Orion was simply a friend who tried to force more from the relationship than Darcy was prepared to give. Conn uses Darcy, but in the process -- and over weeks, while spending time together working on a school project in the Alter (their name for our world) -- they become something more to each other. Neither is really sure what to make of the other, but it's clear (at least to the reader) that Darcy's feelings are reciprocated by Conn, before and after the betrayal.
He slouched at his desk, but there was something a little calculated in his slumped shoulders and stretched out legs. I got the impression that he had riffled through his closet, found his Typical Teenager costume, and was trying it on. And now we come down to it. My suspicion: Conn McCrea wasn't exactly normal. My reasons? Let's just say it takes one to know one.
Conn was intriguing and confusing for a majority of the story, but he wasn't the only stand-out character aside from Darcy. There were members of The Shadow Society that seemed to share Darcy's concerns for the welfare of humans, especially Savannah and Zephyr, but hardly any of the Shades could really be deemed trustworthy. But after reading Jacks and Queens at the Green Mill, I feel like I understand Zephyr a little better, anyway. Then there were Darcy's friends from the Alter. They were true friends, caring and funny and loyal to the end. And they really shocked me at times, which endeared them to me further.
I think I should just go ahead and admit that I'm kind of in love with Rutkoski's gorgeous prose. It was an entirely different experience reading this novel as compared to The Winner's Curse, especially knowing that The Shadow Society is a stand-alone, but I enjoyed this story immensely. I cannot fathom that I have to wait over a year to get my hands on another Marie Rutkoski novel. If you've already read and enjoyed The Winner's Curse, or if you fancy stories featuring themes of rebellion, love across dividing lines, or characters discovering that much of what they know is a lie, then I think you'll find something to appreciate in this novel.
GIF it to me straight: This woman can write!(less)
**Fair warning: this review will contain spoilers, ranting, and likely some swear words.**
I was excited to get my hands on an ARC of this book. It had...more**Fair warning: this review will contain spoilers, ranting, and likely some swear words.**
I was excited to get my hands on an ARC of this book. It had some serious potential, and I couldn't wait to find out what that whole Heist situation was about. But I quit reading at page 132, so I guess someone's just going to have to tell me. Nothing major happened on that particular page, and I hadn't yet thrown the book across the room, but I'd had enough. The throwing fit was coming, and I could've used an outlet for my frustration at that point, but instead, I decided to cut my losses.
I was so pumped to read another novel from the male perspective, but this doesn't read like that at all. It reads like a male POV written from a grown woman's perspective. And the dialogue! It was cringe-inducing at best and left me feeling like I was reading about 12-year-olds instead of kids who were supposedly considered adults in their community:
"No, that's not what I meant."..."I'm trying to say that I think doing what you feel can't always be easy, but at least you're being true to yourself." "It's okay, Emma, you don't have to try to make me seem like a better person. You don't have to justify why it's all right to spend time with me."
"I ...I wanted...Well, fine, Gray! It's nice to see you, too."
And then there's the way sex is [mis]handled in this book. I get it: adulthood has to come a lot earlier when all boys are Heisted on their 18th birthdays. But that does not mean all kids over the age of 15 should have to consent to the Slating. For those of you not in the know, Slating is a system of matching up boys and girls for a month at a time in hopes of procreation and growing the population so that these people don't dwindle away into nothingness. Fine. But there are some kids who don't like this arrangement. And others who only agree to it because it's what's expected of them. Blaine's situation, fathering a child knowing that you're going to be Taken from them, is all the more reason to avoid the whole thing. Gray does just this, possibly the only thing I liked about his character. Sure, he's completed Slatings, but he assures us he's done everything to avoid becoming a father only to have to leave his child behind when the time comes. But no one else, save for Emma, seems to have this aversion to the Slatings.
As I said, I didn't even get halfway through the book. But I've been informed by other readers that the romance gets a little convoluted, as well. It's not a love triangle but a freaking rectangle. Why am I not surprised? Apparently, sometime after Gray and Emma make it over the wall and are picked up by those other guys, Gray goes missing. While he's gone -- my friend Em tells me he was missing for approximately a month -- Emma reunites with that one guy that she actually completed a Slating with and they have sex. And I believe Gray meets Bree while he's missing and there's something between them, too. Just knowing this makes me glad I stopped reading when I did.
Also, all those boys who were Heisted? They're in a community on the other side of the wall. Including Blaine. And also, apparently their father. How the hell can these guys not go back for their families? I flipped through the pages and saw something about a resistance. Is that what they're fighting? Were there ever any freaking monsters on the other side of the wall? Do I really care anymore?
I could rant forever on this. In fact, Em was hoping I would finish so we could rant together for hours. But I just couldn't put myself through that torture. Needless to say, I will not be picking up further installments in this series.
Rating: DNF - But I think Joaquin more adequately expresses my feelings on the matter...
But there are plenty who have really enjoyed this book. Check out some positive reviews below:
The Madman's Daughterwas just as creepy as I was expecting, if not more so. The creations, the madman behind them, the monster on the loose...all prey...moreThe Madman's Daughter was just as creepy as I was expecting, if not more so. The creations, the madman behind them, the monster on the loose...all preyed up on my delicate sensibilities. I haven't seen The Island of Dr. Moreau in ages, nor have I ever read the original tale by H. G. Wells, so the disturbing things lurking and happening on the island caught me off-guard at times. But I am definitely not complaining. I knew going into this novel that I should expect hair-raising beasts and unorthodox ideas. Okay, unorthodox is putting it mildly...they were the ravings of a lunatic, a man gone crazy with power.
Speaking of, I loved seeing the degradation of the doctor's mental faculties. He never came off as a sane man, not once...not even when Juliet first arrived at the island. So I knew this was going to be a bumpy ride from the get-go. But I had no idea how quickly it would all evolve into chaos. Suspecting what the doctor was up to and finding out the truth only intensified the eerie vibe.
It was fairly easy to envision myself on the island with the characters, thanks in part to the lush imagery used to describe the flora and fauna residing there. The descriptions of the doctor's creations and their way of life only made it more menacing. But I was able to fully immerse myself in the story because of it. It's not always easy to impart just how creepy and disturbing a situation is, but I think in this instance, the author has been completely successful.
There are some books I read mostly because of the romantic angle, and there are some I read strictly for the actual storyline. The Madman's Daughter falls into that latter category. It's a good thing, too, because I really wasn't feeling the romance in this book. Don't get me wrong, there are some tender moments and there are some steamy ones, but the overall evolution of the love triangle boggled me.
The frequency with which Juliet found it necessary to mention her idolization of Montgomery when they were younger really bothered me. Sure, it plays a part in the romance now, but it also serves to make her look young and naive, considering how little it matters to the actual story. And since it does appear that the author wants Juliet to come across as a strong young woman, maybe a little bit wild even, it does her character a disservice to mention this idolization no less than three times during the course of the novel. Especially since her feelings ricochet back and forth between Montgomery and Edward like a ping-pong ball.
First, there's kind, intelligent, good-natured Montgomery, whom Juliet has known all of her life. It's clear that this boy is in love with her and that she has similar feelings for him. I'm okay with that. No insta-love. No "we're soul-mates". No pledging of the undying love. Just warm and fuzzies, even if they are from different stations and Juliet's father has strictly forbidden them from any romantic notions. Joke's on you, Dad!
And then there's the enigmatic Edward. A stranger. A castaway found lost at sea. A boy with secrets he has yet to divulge. And here he is, pledging his love to Juliet, telling her she's the reason he made the island his final destination, as well. Blech...I don't think I can ship this relationship. Except...he's got secrets. I like a mystery...a challenge, if you will. Maybe his feelings are legit? Maybe I'm making undue assumptions and rushing judgment on this guy?
I don't know...the more I saw of Juliet with each boy, the less I wanted her to pick one and the more I wanted her to simply jump in that dinghy and escape the island and its monsters on her own. But like I said, the romance -- the love triangle -- wasn't what drew me to the book, so I can honestly overlook it...for the most part. It does play some importance in my enjoyment of this novel, but not as much as it might have if it were a different book altogether.
All in all, I'm pretty thrilled with how this book turned out. Lots of mystery and intrigue. Off-the-scales creepy. Characters that are well-developed with individual motivations. Had the romance been a little less central to the plot, I think I might have enjoyed this novel even more. But I won't let it deter me from picking up the next installment, that's for sure, especially since I hear that one's a retelling of The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
Thanks to HarperTeen for providing an ARC for review!