Sorry, couldn't help myself...that's how each chapter starts out: Wherein Astrid blah blah blah. It wa...moreWherein Jen Reviews a Book About Killer Unicorns
Sorry, couldn't help myself...that's how each chapter starts out: Wherein Astrid blah blah blah. It was repetitive but cute.
So, if you know anything about unicorns at all, you probably think a) that they're mythical and b) that they're these beautiful horses with a golden alicorn (that's what a unicorn's horn is officially called) atop its glorious head. And you'd be wrong in both cases, at least according to Astrid Llewelyn's mother.
I adored the snarktastic ambivalence Astrid showed her mother regarding her predilection to research and track down any mention of the supposed mythical beasts. But now that Astrid's boyfriend has been attacked by one of the beasts, it's up to Astrid to humor her mother and attend unicorn hunting school in Italy. Hey, an all expenses paid trip to "The Eternal City" doesn't sound so bad.
Astrid is a descendant of Alexander the Great, who famously tamed a unicorn the size of an elephant as his loyal steed. As such, it is her duty to protect humanity from the killer unicorns that are plaguing the world, attacking innocents and just generally wreaking havoc. At the cloisters, she meets other such descendants, some of which share her hesitancy to pick up the, erm, "family trade". Others are very gung ho about the whole business.
I think when I read the phrase "killer unicorns", my mind immediately assumed this would be a fantasy story, with a contemporary vibe. But it's more of the latter and less of the former. I'm not complaining...I had a lot of fun listening to this one, especially last night while I was stuck in traffic for two hours. But rather than focus on the fantastical, this novel focuses on the mythological aspect of unicorns, with special emphasis on the role of the virgin maiden and the magical and/or medicinal properties of the alicorn.
According to most lore, unicorns love them some virgins. By nature, unicorns are apparently ferocious, feral beasts unable to control their bloodlust, but for virgin maidens, they will lay aside their lack of impulse control and can become almost like pets. The Zhi in this novel are some such unicorns. The rest, however, have no compunctions about killing a girl, virginity intact or otherwise.
There's a rape plot in this novel that removed one of the girls from the ranks of the unicorn hunters, and for the most part, I thought it was handled in an acceptable manner. It wasn't written into the story just for the sake of added drama...the removal of choice in this instance played a big role in the girl's life as a hunter and as a young woman, and I thought it a valid storyline in addition to the actual hunting. I just would have preferred that in addition to the consequences for the girl, the notifying of the police, the clinic visit, etc., we could have seen what happened to the guy, who abruptly went missing after the ordeal. There's a reason for his absence, but I can't say for risk of spoilers. I haven't started the second book in this series, so I can't say that we don't see a resolution to this in it, but I'm still waiting for a confrontation, especially considering the circumstances regarding the deed.
Anyway, that aside, the book is fun. The narrator was great...she sounded like an actual teenager and her emphasis on the sarcasm was perfect. She had Astrid's snarky attitude down pat. The narrator employed a variety of voices for different characters and somehow made a gaggle of girls all sound different. My one complaint, though, would be that she made Astrid's love interest sound more like a surfer dude than the art history major he was by giving him such a laid-back voice.
Rampant is my first experience reading (listening to) a novel by Diana Peterfreund, though I'm also reading For Darkness Shows the Stars right now. I'm slightly more impressed by that book, but I'm definitely impressed by the author's writing in general. And the narrative voice in each book is totally unique to each story, further impressing me. I've already got the next book in each series queued up on my reading and listening devices...seriously regretting how long it took me to discover this author!
Admittedly, I only know about this book because I heard it's going to be made into a movie. Or rather, it's already a movie and I'm just now hearing a...moreAdmittedly, I only know about this book because I heard it's going to be made into a movie. Or rather, it's already a movie and I'm just now hearing about it. Let's not argue the finer points. But it wasn't until I read this review that I really wanted to check the book out, having grown up in a small town in the South myself. And let me tell you, it was like reliving those days again, hearing the Sutterman regale us with his tales of small-town life.
Sure, every school has those same kids: the hard-partiers, the wallflowers, the too-perfect jocks. But it's different in a small town. Trust me, I went from attending school in a suburb of Dallas to a school in a town of only 4,000 people. It is very different. Even the parties are different. There may be cliques at school, but when everyone came together for a pasture party, we were all friends. What I'm trying to say is, this story paints a very accurate picture, at least from where I'm standing.
And I don't think they could have picked a more perfect narrator for this audiobook. He was beyond spectacular! (Heh.) I've listened to audiobooks narrated by MacLeod Andrews before, and he did a great job with those, too, but he was totally channeling Matthew McConaughey from Dazed and Confused ("Alright, alright, alright") when he performed The Spectacular Now. Sutter's accent, his jovial nature, his carefree attitude...MacLeod's narration was the embodiment of this character. Even when he voiced other characters, he gave them a life of their own. Without a doubt, he was the best narrator for the job.
Sutter Keely is the quintessential small-town guy. He's the guy everyone knows but that most can only handle in small doses. He's got nothing but time, and he's going to spend it having fun...and working on a buzz. Even at 10 o'clock in the morning. He's just a lovable guy who could have benefited from having his father in his life. Sutter truly is a good-hearted guy...he really is. But it's like Bob tells him, he doesn't pay any attention to the consequences of his actions. Even if he has the best intentions, he doesn't always see the bigger picture until it's too late.
The author paints such a realistic portrait of this character. Sutter is a complicated guy, much more complex than anyone else suspects. He makes terrible decisions, and he's a rather bad influence to a certain wallflower who blooms under his attention. Aimee is caught up in the whirlwind of his charisma and charm, much to her own detriment. Sutter is misguided, and it's easy to be appalled by some of the things he does, especially where Aimee is concerned. As much as I empathize with Sutter's character, I hurt for Aimee's more. For Sutter to know what she's been through, how she's been brought up, and to treat her in such a way and be so neglectful of her feelings...it's damn near unforgivable. Not that he does anything to outright hurt her, but that whole issue of consequences is another matter.
This book doesn't take the subjects of addiction and alcoholism and deal with them in black and white, but it also doesn't take them lightly. The Spectacular Now doesn't turn into an "issues" book, constantly forcing its message on us. While we're slowly watching Sutter's downward spiral, we see the ups and downs of addiction, how the highs keep the cycle going. And through some intervention from his friends, we see how everyone else is handling Sutter's problem with alcohol, how it hurts them to see him continuing on this path. And it seems that they get through to him, to some extent at least. Because he does finally decide to put one person's well-being ahead of his own.
I'm still not sure what to think about that ending. I don't even know what I was hoping for by the end, really. I don't think I was looking for a happy ending necessarily, but some sort of closure would have been nice. Instead, I'm left feeling gutted and empty, wondering how a story that had me laughing was simultaneously pushing me ever closer to the edge of the abyss. Honestly, I saw it coming, but I guess I just didn't want to believe it. And although it's painful and maybe not the ending I was expecting, it probably was the most realistic way to end this story. Props to the author for not taking the easy way out.
Cain's always been a bit of an enigma throughout the course of this series, periodically playing the role of the strip club owner with the heart of go...moreCain's always been a bit of an enigma throughout the course of this series, periodically playing the role of the strip club owner with the heart of gold and then fading back in to the shadows just as quickly as he appeared. Naturally, I was intrigued by his story and how he came to lead the life he did. I've had to suspend belief with this series quite a bit, but I think it went above and beyond in this book. It bothers me a little how nice and neatly each of these books wraps up, and this one was no different. But I'll get to that.
I was slightly disappointed that this story was told from a dual perspective. It was supposed to be Cain's story, and honestly, I really only cared about his point-of-view. Charlie didn't really add much to the story for me, and what she did bring to the table made me sick to my stomach. Not only is she lying about her identity and her age, but she's harboring some serious secrets...the kind people kill for. She redeems herself a bit near the end, but there's always a choice and I think she made a lot of wrong ones before finally doing the right thing. I know it added drama to the story to have her scenario play out the way it did, but it just left me feeling all kinds of squicky.
Cain, on the other hand, was everything I'd hoped his character would be...and more. He truly is the strip club owner with a heart of gold, doing everything he can -- and I mean everything -- to protect the people who work for him and ensure their safety. Because they're not just his employees...they're real people who've become his friends over the years. And then to discover how he came to be the owner of Penny's was more than a little heartbreaking. Here's a man who's lost everything, and yet he's still striving to help others avoid a fate like his own. He doesn't hold the girls in the club back; his actual goal is for them to all make something of themselves and move on. This is another instance where some of that suspension of belief comes into play, but I appreciated the sentiment, so it didn't bother me too much.
There's some serious chemistry between Cain and Charlie, but once I found out that he was actually ten years her senior, it didn't seem so hot anymore. But it's not his fault she's been lying about her age, so I can't fault Cain for the relationship that develops. I do, however, fault Charlie for the situation she's placed Cain in. At times, Charlie did seem much older than she was, and so it was easy forget that she's not even of legal drinking age, but then she'd make another idiotic decision and show her true age. The hardest thing to swallow about this story was how easily everyone accepted her deceit simply because of the extenuating circumstances surrounding it.
Perfect endings are hit or miss with me, depending on execution, but something that's never a miss is a good narrator. And both narrators for this audiobook were phenomenal. Elizabeth Louise has narrated the previous books in this series, and though it was hard to envision this voice as different from Kacey and Livie, she still provides an enjoyable presentation. Where this audiobook really rocked was in the casting of Cain's voice. Sebastian York has this deep, seductive voice that just oozes sexiness, and I'll admit trying to look up the narrator to put a face to the voice. (Sorry, no luck, ladies. Wah wah wah.)
This isn't my favorite of the series, and I definitely had some issues with the book, but it was a very addicting read/listen. That fact alone -- okay and, well, Sebastian York's performance, too -- caused me to add another star to my rating for the audiobook. Had I simply read the book, I probably would have only given it three, maybe 3 1/2 stars. But this is such a readable series, full of high stakes and drama and romance, that even if I hadn't enjoyed this book -- and I did, despite what it might sound like -- I'd still continue on to the next book. Especially since it's Ben's story. He might not be as mysterious as Cain, but he's intriguing nonetheless, working as a bouncer at Penny's while he finishes up law school. Yeah, I'll definitely be checking out his story. ;0)
After enjoying the emotional and tumultuous story of Kacey and Trent in Ten Tiny Breaths, I knew I had to pick up the audio for One Tiny Lie, which is...moreAfter enjoying the emotional and tumultuous story of Kacey and Trent in Ten Tiny Breaths, I knew I had to pick up the audio for One Tiny Lie, which is Livie's story. Livie, Kacey's younger sister and ward, was just fifteen in the first book, so I wasn't sure what to expect from this book, but the author took it in a very similar direction as the first book, with Livie having to face down her fears and break out of her shell.
I thought Livie's naïveté seemed very genuine and realistic, considering all she and her sister have suffered and overcome. And it was so much fun to see her let loose and act like a normal eighteen-year-old as she started her first year of college at Princeton, away from all of the family and friends who've helped her through the last seven years. Her problems and issues may not seem as major as Kacey's did, but I can tell you from experience that being introverted and socially awkward make for a hellish existence at times.
Again enters Dr. Stainer to assist Livie with overcoming her shyness and social issues, at the behest of Kacey. Initially, I thought he'd peak in, tell Livie to get over it and move on. But I should have known better. This guy's no quack; if I ever needed a therapist, I'd want one like Stainer. He doesn't just listen...he gives Livie assignments to work on her social skills, like getting drunk at a party or saying the first thing that comes to mind whenever she's near her crush. The potential for embarrassment is always there, but so is the potential for personal growth, which is exactly what Livie needs.
And, of course, right off the bat, Livie meets someone. Or rather, two someones. Two completely different boys: one who makes her blush and do crazy things and one who is her ideal man. I liked both guys. It seemed like Ashton, though a total player, had a lot more going on beneath the surface, if only Livie could get him to open up. And Connor, well, besides that faint Irish brogue, he was a total gentleman, willing to take the relationship as slowly as Livie wanted. It was obvious from the beginning which guy truly held Livie's interest, so it was hard to watch the triangle and subsequent cheating, knowing all the while that things were not going to end well.
Even so, this audiobook solicited many a laugh from me, even if I was cringing in the next moment. It was funny and light-hearted, but there were also characters with deep issues to work through, and both aspects kept me engaged and listening, as did the narrator. I thought Elizabeth Louise did a fabulous job with the narration of both of these books, though I wish her Irish accent for Connor had been a little bit stronger and a little less British at times. Other than that, I have no complaints. I hope she voices the next two companion books in this series.
I had so much fun listening to this book. Seriously, there were sad moments, but it's not really a sad story. It's more hopeful than anything. And as I was listening, I swear I had a perma-grin. It was more funny than anything. With Kacey and Livie's stories now told, it appears we're finally going to get Cain's story in the next book. That guy has been an enigma, so I really can't wait to find out his story. And then after that, it looks like we're getting Ben's story. That should be fun, as well. If you can't tell, I'm having a lot of fun with this series. :)
I was thoroughly impressed with how much moreI liked Tarnishthan I did Gilt. Admittedly, I've always liked reading stories about Anne Boleyn, so it m...moreI was thoroughly impressed with how much more I liked Tarnish than I did Gilt. Admittedly, I've always liked reading stories about Anne Boleyn, so it makes sense that I preferred reading a young adult story about Henry VIII's second wife more than one about Catherine Howard and her cohorts at court.
But it wasn't just the fact that this book was about Anne Boleyn that stirred me more. Despite some deviant and otherwise unacceptable behavior, the characters in this book were simply more likable. Young Anne is a misfit among the court and simply wants to find her place. Actually, she wants to make her own way, to be somebody. I think that's something most of us can relate to, and it made her character quite engaging.
If you know the history of the Tudor period, you know how Anne's story ends...and it's not on a particularly happy note. I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop, knowing the inevitable was coming. But Tarnish is not the story of Anne's demise. Rather, it's the story of a young Anne, trying to make her way and outshine the other members of her family. It's about Anne trying to overcome terrible rumors of misbehavior and keep her good name untarnished, to triumph over a bumbling alcoholic brother, to prevail amid whispers of a sister who's become the king's mistress, and to transcend a father who wants nothing to do with the lot of them.
Along the way, Anne hopes to marry and make her father proud, without having to ally herself with the man her father has already chosen for her. I often find arranged marriages squicky, but even more so when the partners are so obviously incompatible. But Anne does find someone suitable...if only circumstances were different, it might have worked out for her. She might have lived to a ripe old age, had she not instead caught the king's fancy. But that is a story for another day.
It also helps this book that I adored the narrator chosen for the audiobook. I can't remember if Jennifer Ikeda used an English accent when she read Gilt, but either way, that audiobook was just okay. This one, however, was fantastic. I felt swept away to the time of castles and balls and glittering gowns. Anne was just a girl full of hopes and dreams, the King was pompous, and the voice given to Master Wyatt was worthy of his poet's wit and sharp tongue. I couldn't imagine a more suitable narrator for this story.
This was such a fabulous piece of historical fiction. It made me sad as I was reminded of how little power women had over their own lives, but it also encouraged me to further research King Henry VIII and the Tudor period for no other reason than that it is utterly fascinating to see just how much this one man and his many wives changed the course of history.
Thanks to Penguin Audio and Audiobook Jukebox for providing a copy for review.
There is so much wrong with that synopsis that I don't even know where to begin. So, let's just take it from the top. I have never read Game of Throne...moreThere is so much wrong with that synopsis that I don't even know where to begin. So, let's just take it from the top. I have never read Game of Thrones and I've only watched the show on occasion, but as a fan of high fantasy, I can tell you that fans of that series will be sorely disappointed by that comparison. There is hardly anything at all fantastical about this story. The Hunger Games comparison is slightly more apt, as there is a competition of sorts that pits 18-year-old candidates against each other, but it is not nearly as cutthroat as this assessment makes it seem.
The dystopian world of the Aerie and it's existence apart from the rest of the world that survived the devastating flood, coined New North, is highly suspect. Especially when the reader soon learns that this divergence is due largely in part to our ancestors' worship of the false deity Apple. That Apple. All technology is shunned and the point of The Testing is to unearth the most worthy relic from that era, when we allowed technology to rule over all aspects of our lives. It's not just technology but also medical advancements, like Tylenol and Prozac, that apparently led to our ruin. The people of the Aerie seek to live a more substantial, righteous life, and they ostensibly take a lot of stock in that whole "those who don't know history are doomed to repeat it" thing.
I felt that this story was a tad too contrived, wholly derivative and entirely banal. The summary would lead one to believe that this whole Testing business is going to be full of hardship and dangers unnumbered, but for Eva, everything comes to her unbelievably easily. Mind you, prior to his death, her brother trained for years for this competition. Eva has trained only months. And yet she suffers very little for her inexperience and ineptitude. I'm all for a strong heroine, but when she's competing against eleven other males who have been training for this their entire lives, it's a little difficult to believe that she, above all the others, is having the easiest go of it.
Maybe it's because Eva seems so perfect that I had such a hard time connecting with her character, but I also never felt like I got to know the girl, only the contestant. And she wasn't very interesting at all, yet she has two potential suitors. Though, let me clarify, there is little to no romance in this book. The setup for a love triangle is in the works, but the emphasis in this story is solely on The Testing and the ramifications of the discoveries made because of it.
I daresay the only reason I finished this one was because I was listening to the audiobook while I was at work. The narrator was not one I was familiar with but I did enjoy the presentation, as much as can be expected when the story isn't all that exciting to begin with. I found the whole story rather laughable, and I seriously doubt I'll be continuing on with this series.
Thanks to SOHO Teen & Audiobook Jukebox for providing an ARC and an audiobook for review, respectively.
I didn't have very high expectations for Endless Knight after being pretty disappointed with Poison Princess. So why, then, did I pay good money for...moreI didn't have very high expectations for Endless Knight after being pretty disappointed with Poison Princess. So why, then, did I pay good money for the audio of this book? Good question. I think I just really needed to prove to myself that this series was not at all for me. Also, I wanted to see how the author continued with the tarot card aspect.
Alas, what I got was a lot of Evie lamenting about the sad state of her love life. I did not like Jackson Deveaux's character in the first book, and I liked him even less in this installment. He now knows the truth of what Evie and his other traveling companions are, and he's understandably freaked out. He rather quickly comes to terms with Evie as the Empress, though, and starts up with propositioning her again. And this time, he's successful. As I alluded to in my review of the previous book, this girl apparently thinks very little of her virginity. And her indiscretions may cost her...and those she cares about.
Because no one in this story is trustworthy, and because Evie is naïve and trusts everyone, Evie ends up being abducted by the enigmatic Death. She can't deny her physical attraction to him, though she wants nothing more than to escape and return to Jack. But there's a history between Death and Evie, and when it finally came out, I can't say I was all that surprised. Besides the tarot aspect, the only other thing that sounded even remotely captivating about this book was the promise of Death as a character. (I am a sucker for Death personified.) But even that wasn't enough to hold my attention, though he is an intriguing character, but that's probably just because he's such a freaking mystery.
And although I did like Death's character, I still couldn't get on board with the direction the romance was taking in this book. Sure, I dislike ole Jack and everything he stands for and I'd like nothing more than to push Evie into Death's arms -- whether to be killed or not is an entirely different conversation -- but regardless, Jack is still in the back of Evie's mind. Despite certain betrayal, she still wants to give ole Jack the benefit of the doubt, give him a chance to explain himself. And she doesn't want to continue whatever this is with Death until she's talked to Jack. But that thing she let Death do...I think the Cajun would still frown upon that.
I finally think I have a better understanding of this world, the Arcana, and the characters themselves this time around. I think in the last book, I was trying too hard to make the focus on the post-apocalyptic setting, and though that's important to the story at times, it's not the main focus. It's actually just the precursor to the game the Arcana are playing now, just as it has been for centuries. I still find the game itself and the roles of the Arcana fascinating, but I grow tired of the key players and would like to see the focus shift to the rest of the Arcana.
I think the thing I dislike most about this series is Evie herself. The author has chosen to write the most obnoxious, self-centered, and ill-informed character, and I think her innocence is supposed to overshadow those terrible qualities, but in the end, all it does is make them more pronounced. I'm not a fan of the narrator for this series, either, but maybe that's because she makes Evie sound even more immature than I'd probably read her character myself. Emma Galvin does great accents for the Cajun and for Death, but that can't make up for the rest of the book. I think this series kind of ruined this narrator for me, unfortunately.
The one thing I'll give the author is that she can write a cliffhanger that will leave you wanting more. This should have been a DNF for me, but having paid hard-earned money for it, I couldn't give up. And then I was presented with a cliffhanger to rival the one at the end of the first book. And yes, crazy as it sounds, I want to know what happens. Not enough to buy the next book myself, mind you, but I can't help my curiosity.
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 was actually a little hesitant to start this novel because Reid Alexander wasn't one of my favorite characters in this series. I liked his point-of-...moreI was actually a little hesitant to start this novel because Reid Alexander wasn't one of my favorite characters in this series. I liked his point-of-view and that it sounded like what I expected from an 18/19 year old guy. But that doesn't mean I liked his character. I thought for sure, Emma would've been the girl to change his wicked ways, if such a girl existed to do so. But she ran off with that adorable Graham fellow, and poor Reid is all alone again.
That little show of conscience he had at the end of Where You Are definitely had me wondering if there was more to this guy, though. And you know what? I kind of actually love his character now. And it's all that charitable do-gooder Dori's fault. She didn't just make him want to be a better man, like Emma; she showed him that he could be, which is what he needed all along.
I love the set up for the next book, though I really, really wish I didn't have to go into it knowing that Reid still hasn't divulged his big secret and that it's going to cause problems for him and Dori. He had the perfect opportunity to tell her, but now it's going to come back around and bite him in the ass.
Oh, well. I can't wait to see it all come to a head in Here Without You. Man, why couldn't I have just waited a few more months to start this series???(less)
Though I saw immediately how things would turn out, I still enjoyed watching Brooke and Reid manipulate and connive their way into Graham and Emma's a...moreThough I saw immediately how things would turn out, I still enjoyed watching Brooke and Reid manipulate and connive their way into Graham and Emma's arms. Another fun book in the Between the Lines series, though I couldn't tell you if I liked it better than the first book. Probably about the same, I guess. Fun-filled drama at its best. :) Off to start book 3...(less)
Loved it! And I think this was a much better representation of how young people deal with their celebrity than This Is What Happy Looks Like. Not knoc...moreLoved it! And I think this was a much better representation of how young people deal with their celebrity than This Is What Happy Looks Like. Not knocking that book because it was cute and I liked it, but this one just seemed more genuine and had better back story on the characters so that the reader could understand why they felt the way they did toward their respective career paths. Also, it was set in Texas. I love books set in my home state. :)
Read this one because I liked Easy, but I think I enjoyed this book more because it didn't have such sad undertones to it. Just downloaded Where You Are because I want more of these characters and their relationship drama!!! :D(less)
It's been a year or more since I read Crewel, and I thought I'd need a refresher before starting the sequel. I didn't re-read the first book, though,...moreIt's been a year or more since I read Crewel, and I thought I'd need a refresher before starting the sequel. I didn't re-read the first book, though, and honestly, it might not be necessary for most because Altered doesn't really feel like a true sequel. Gone are the Spinsters and Guild and that creepy Cormac of Arras, replaced with Sunrunners and an equally creepy Kincaid on what is left of our Earth. A lot of the key players from Crewel are still here, though, so don't fret.
Altered picks up right after the ending of Crewel. Like, the very same moment. There wasn't much rehash in the beginning of the book, which like I said, I didn't think was very necessary, anyway. But pivotal moments from Crewel are expanded upon later in the story as other issues come to light, and it's all woven together in a satisfying way. Well, satisfying for me...it might make others' heads explode. Some of the juxtapositions between Arras and Earth are really going to have your head spinning, especially after certain revelations are made. But it's all for the betterment of the story, and though it's all kind of crazy, I heartily approve.
Since Altered takes place on Earth, a lot of the history of Arras is revealed, as well as some of the details of the fall of normal civilization on Earth. Through this, we get to see some of Kincaid's motivations, as well as Cormac's, and because of this, I think I have a better understanding of both worlds. It's like seeing both sides of a coin, seeing the Crewel World in its entirety for the first time. This book is largely about uncovering secrets and conspiracies, and so there isn't a lot of action, but that's typical of a second book. But like I said earlier, this doesn't feel like a sequel...make of that what you will.
As far as characters go, there were some surprising appearances, but for the most part, I feel like the book largely focused on the three lovers we ended with in Crewel. At the end of book one, I think Erik was kind of the odd-man out; he had feelings for Adelice but it seemed clear she'd made her choice and it was Jost. In my review of Crewel, I remember being rather neutral about both boys. Nothing stood out about either one, at least not to me. But things have changed in Altered. Jost has placed a great emphasis on finding his daughter and reuniting Adelice with her sister, while Erik seems more in tune with Adelice. There's a reason for that, but it's best discovered on your own. Suffice it to say, the love triangle is still in existence...it's just taken an unexpected turn, if you will. One that I'm on board with. The back and forth is still there, maybe more so than in the previous book, but I'm really invested in the direction it's taken.
The narration of the audiobook was average. Nothing stands out about it, but it was well-executed. I've only listened to one other book narrated by Amanda Dolan, but I'd definitely consider others from her repertoire. The fact that there was nothing exceptional about the presentation isn't necessarily a bad thing because it also means that she didn't do any of those things that irritate me in an audiobook performance.
As much as Crewel was a thinking book -- a confusing, complicated ride through Crazy Town -- I felt like Altered was kind of like the light at the end of the tunnel. You know you're finally getting some answers, and it's about freaking time. And then the train derails and shatters that vision. There's not a cliffhanger, per se...it's more like the train has come to an unfinished portion of tracks over a giant gorge. Something major happens at the end of the book that leaves the door wide open for more crazy but no one is in immediate danger...not yet, anyway. I'm really looking forward to how Albin wraps up this series...and I fully expect a lot more crazy before this ride comes to an end.
Thanks to AudioGo and Audiobook Jukebox for the review copy!
I haven't had the best of luck with boarding school novels lately. So many of them are flat and contain the same old, same old: magic, mystery, and se...moreI haven't had the best of luck with boarding school novels lately. So many of them are flat and contain the same old, same old: magic, mystery, and secrets, and they're all very blasé about it. So, it was with some trepidation that I began this audiobook, despite knowing that several of my friends had already loved the story.
I don't know if it's the combination of a truly worthy protagonist and a brilliant audiobook narrator, but I can safely say that I am back on the boarding school bandwagon. I loved Leslie Bellair's narration in Tarnish, so I was fairly certain she'd do Blythewood justice. Bellair beautifully portrayed Ava as a girl who's not quite sure of her sanity and also not certain of her place in the world. I'd say she far-exceeded my expectations when it comes to the narration.
My first instinct is to compare this story to Harry Potter because there are quite a few similarities, but that would be doing this book a great injustice because as far as writing and story go, the two books couldn't be more different. Historical fiction and fantasy combine in this story to create a magical world shrouded in mystery. Blythewood is magical realism at its best, as far as I'm concerned, and setting the story in the early 20th century made it that much more enjoyable for me, especially when other events from history coincide and intertwine with the story. This book is far from light, and including real-life tragic events from history gave the book a more realistic feel, making it all the more engaging.
These events also play an important role in Ava's life...Ava who's already suffered a tragic loss of her own. It's all a bit much and has Ava questioning her sanity, but she's a survivor. She's not perfect and she doesn't have the ability to magic herself out of a jam; she's just a girl who's trying to make the best out of a bad situation. And along the way, she makes some friends, both among her peers at school and among her teachers and their acquaintances, but she also makes a truly menacing enemy, one who may know Ava's story better than she does.
Another aspect of this story that I found particularly intriguing was the balance between light and dark, between good and evil. I think when it comes to magic in a story, it's always important to highlight the differences but also to stress that there are gray areas, even if the opinion is not popular. The Darklings, the fae, and the other inhabitants of the Blythe Wood are just such a gray area, and I can't wait to delve further into that magic in future installments.
I also need more of the romance from the next book. The relationship that develops in Blythewood is forbidden in nature and very slow-burning, so much so that I wondered if anything would even become of it in this book. Especially when the author seemed to be pushing another love interest into the mix. Though nothing develops with that young man, there are indications that his presence is important and that even if Ava doesn't have feelings for him, he clearly does for her. I'd buy into that romantic aspect more if I had been shown his feelings rather than having been told about them by another character. Either way, it's going to be interesting to see how this all develops, especially after certain revelations at the end of this book. Ava is going to have to overcome some prejudices and come to terms with who she really is before anything can really happen, though.
Honestly, I don't think any review I write can effectively convey the awesomeness of this story. It's slow-going at first but well worth the build-up. It's such a unique take on faerie lore intermixed with that of angels and demons and everything in between. I was disappointed to learn that it wasn't a stand-alone as I'd originally thought, but I'm also elated to know that there's more of this story to be told. I haven't had my fill of this magical world yet, and I am ever so intrigued by those Darklings and whatever else lurks in the shadows of the Blythe Wood.
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!
I enjoyed this one even more the second time around, even with some of the surprise elements missing due to a re-read. And the audio was awesome. My f...moreI enjoyed this one even more the second time around, even with some of the surprise elements missing due to a re-read. And the audio was awesome. My first experience with a Full Cast audio, but I can guarantee I'll be looking for more now.
If I hadn't seen so many other bloggers loving on this book, I probably would have passed it up, simply for the fact that I've been avoiding stories c...moreIf I hadn't seen so many other bloggers loving on this book, I probably would have passed it up, simply for the fact that I've been avoiding stories containing werewolves and the like. But the whole blood prophet thing should have been an indication to me that this paranormal story was anything but a typical werewolf story.
First, let me get this out of the way: if you're looking for a paranormal romance, this is probably not the book for you. There is the possibility of a romance, a very slow-burning kind of love story, but it is in its infancy in this first installment, and so it's not likely to satisfy any craving you might have for a hot werewolf love-fest. This is an adult book, however, and there is mention of adult activities, though not graphically or in any detail, really.
But, if you are looking for an imaginative world, mirroring ours in some ways but completely different in the ways that matter most, and full of fascinating creatures, you should definitely give Written in Red a try. It's slow-going at first, with the author expanding on our world to include the terra indigene, the shape-shifting creatures who almost serve as overlords to their human counterparts. Make no mistake, though the creatures of the Courtyard live among humans, they are still dangerous monsters whose first instinct is most definitely not protecting the humans.
Though the story mainly focuses on Meg and her interactions with the terra indigene and garnering acceptance among them, it's told in third person omniscient, providing further details of how the various Others live and coexist. And they do coexist, which I find highly entertaining: vampires and werewolves and werebears and element-wielding horses, all living together...for the most part. I loved the characterizations given to each species of Other, from the gruff man-bear to the crows that liked shiny things, as humans and as the birds themselves. And it was fun seeing Meg interact with each group.
When Meg comes to the Courtyard, she is a young woman, but she has the social ineptitude of a child because of how, or rather where, she has grown up. Seeing how she was brought up and for what purposes brings new insight into why the Others are much more willing to trust her than other humans and vice versa. The relationship between Meg and the Others is tentative at first, but as she proves to be a hard-worker and shows that her kindness is genuine, the Others warm up to her, even the unflappable Grandfather Erebus. Once your under his protection, you're golden. And so it is with Meg, who even won the heart of young wolf pup Sam. That relationship was the one to melt my heart because the two have suffered so much at the hands of other humans, and despite their hesitance and fears, they bonded...something no one saw coming. Well, except maybe Meg...but she is a blood prophet, after all.
At first, I thought the narration of this novel was going to hinder my enjoyment, as it appeared that the narrator was going to use a gruff voice for every male character. But as it turned out, that was intentional on the parts of the werewolf Simon and the werebear because their manners were, well, gruff. Ms. Harris delivered a perfect Meg and even Tess's brusque manner grew on me. If it hadn't been for such a great performance on the narrator's part, I might have had to keep reminding myself that the terra indigene were monsters and not the humans they appeared to be most of the time.
Written in Red ends on a great note, one that left me grinning. There's no cliffhanger, but there's still so much of Meg and the Others' story to tell. And knowing that the Controller will stop at nothing to get back his property means the action should spike ten-fold in the next installment. The sequel Murder of Crows is due out in March 2014.
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.
The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sightwas an adorable read. For the most part, it was light and fluffy and the whole story passed in the b...moreThe Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight was an adorable read. For the most part, it was light and fluffy and the whole story passed in the blink of an eye, much like the plane ride the story focuses on. I don't think I enjoyed this quirky book as much as everyone else, but it was definitely fun, and it's definitely left me with the desire to pick up more of this author's work.
Maybe it was the narrator? I don't think I've listened to anything narrated by Casey Holloway before, but I think maybe she brought just a tad too much melancholy to Hadley's character. Sure, she's stuck inside her own head for a bit while the Oliver tried to coax her out, but I don't think that deserved such a despondent voice. This review comes after my second listen, and I felt that way both times, so I don't think it's just me. I did, however, love the voice and accent for Oliver. He can be my plane buddy any day. :)
The quirkiness of the characters was what really made this book enjoyable. The story was cute and there were some awkward, cringe-worthy moments, but the characters really held my interest above all. The novel is told from Hadley's point-of-view, but Oliver shines, as well. It was interesting what bits of themselves they decided to share with each other and what information they refused to divulge, and it said a lot about each character.
I like where the book left off, with a sense of promise and hope, even if we don't get to see what the future holds for Hadley and Oliver. The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight was highly entertaining, and I'm now even more excited to read This is What Happy Looks Like when it releases early next month. And it'll look so cute on my shelf right next to TSPoLaFS!
“Is it better to have had a good thing and lost it, or never to have had it?”
“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.”
I tried to thumb my nose at new adult when it became this massive "thing" and everyone was trying it. But as it turns out, I actually kinda like it. M...moreI tried to thumb my nose at new adult when it became this massive "thing" and everyone was trying it. But as it turns out, I actually kinda like it. More than like it. Because practically every novel I've read with "new adult" subject matter has been a hit with me. Maybe I've just got awesome luck picking new adult reads or maybe I should've just given them the benefit of the doubt from the beginning -- much like my recent love affair with YA contemps. Either way, I've had fun with the ones I've read so far, and Ten Tiny Breaths was no different.
I didn't think I liked "issues" books, either. And truth be told, I still don't really think I do. I like seeing characters work through things and overcome obstacles, but it doesn't have to be the type of tough subject matter that new adult novels always seem to hit upon in order to impress me. It's more about the characters, and Ten Tiny Breaths was made of win when it came to that. Though I've not been through anything nearly as traumatic as the characters in this novel, I still connected with them and their pain on a level I didn't expect to. Because they were human. Their pain, their love, their sarcasm, their biting words...it was all real and true to who they were. Even crotchety old Tanner, landlord to this little "Melrose Place", was ultimately likeable.
I'm pretty good at figuring out who characters are in relation to one another in these books, regardless of how convoluted and confusing that relationship may become, or what secrets may tear it apart. Needless to say, I knew where this story was headed pretty early on. Yet, it didn't bother me that it was predictable, that the characters had been manipulated and toyed with. It probably should have, but it didn't. Maybe because in this story, everything was about healing, and according to some, you're never given more than you can deal with. And even though Kacey had already dealt with more than her lion's share of misery and burden, she was strong and capable.
Even so, everyone has their breaking point. It was empowering to see Kacey hit that point and rather than letting it own her, she sought help. For herself. And for her sister's sake. Because nothing was more important to Kacey than Livvie. The bond they share is precious and unbreakable, and I think the author portrayed it beautifully.
I also liked how this book was broken up into stages or phases. It reminded me of The Catastrophic History of You and Me and how it was broken up into the stages of grief. I think this breakdown made the experiences of the characters that much more relatable, seeing as how at some time or another, we've all probably experienced grief to some extent.
The narration of this audio was great. I mean, I was swooning over Trent, even with the bad vibe I was getting from him, and I know it had something to do with the voice he was given. I don't know what it says about me that a female narrator made a male character more swoon-worthy, but there it is. I'm glad to see that this same narrator is performing the sequel.
This wasn't exactly a stand-out in the new adult genre, which is usually the complaint I hear about this type of novel: they all generally follow the same pattern, the same basic storyline. But it was entertaining and had me laughing and sniffling as I listened. And that's all that matters to me sometimes.
Thanks to Atria Books and Netgalley for providing a review copy.
So, I should have taken it to heart when others were comparing this novel to Stephen King's works. I tried to read Needful Thingsyears ago when my si...moreSo, I should have taken it to heart when others were comparing this novel to Stephen King's works. I tried to read Needful Things years ago when my sister offered it to me, and I only got halfway through before giving up. Still, that's quite an attempt, considering the book is nearly 800 pages long. Apparently, I'm not really a fan of Stephen King, unless it's a movie adaptation. Those I like. Those are sufficiently creepy and not at all boring.
I liked Wasserman's The Book of Blood and Shadow. It's the only other book of hers that I've read, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. So, I was expecting a similar experience here. Unfortunately, me and this book, we just didn't click. Maybe it was the fact that I listened to the audiobook instead of reading the galley I received from the publisher. Maybe it was all those points of view. Maybe it was the horrific nature of the book itself or the fact that it did remind me so much of Needful Things, what with the town reducing itself to chaos. Whatever the reason, I only partially listened to the last third of the book, favoring other activities over what was actually going on in the story at that point.
Despite the many varying perspectives in this novel, there was but one narrator. And he did an okay job, though I never felt the passion or horror that a narrator of this story should have conveyed. It was like he was reading any other book. There was no sense of the despair of these kids, no real sense of urgency or danger or any indication that these horrific goings-on weren't standard fare in the town of Oleander.
It also probably didn't help that I was confused by whose perspective the story was being told from 50% of the time, since there weren't any hints at transition, nor did the voice really change on the audio. And there were a lot of differing points of view along the way, with the narration even switching to some of the more minor characters from time to time.
So, maybe I didn't love this book. But I can admit that it was still a very well-written, horrifying piece of literature. It was atmospheric and creepy and utterly unpredictable. The Waking Dark is as gruesome and unpleasant as it gets for a young adult novel. And it was very well done. The character depictions are evocative, their actions nearly indescribable...and yet, the author truly captures their motivations, their fears, and their secrets in the brief moments we get behind each characters' eyes.
This book wasn't really for me, but that doesn't mean it wasn't a good book. I'm not squeamish, but this story was just a touch too disturbing for me. But if that's your cup of tea, look no further. I definitely feel like this novel will appeal to fans of Stephen King and horror fans alike. I was hoping for a horror-light version of The Goonies...you know, the camaraderie despite the differing backgrounds and families, trying to solve a problem, face a common foe...all that. What I got instead was just...insanely disturbing.
Thanks to Random House & Netgalley for providing a copy for review.
It's getting exceedingly more difficult to commend books for having a unique premise with each new entry into dystopian territory, but I have to admit...moreIt's getting exceedingly more difficult to commend books for having a unique premise with each new entry into dystopian territory, but I have to admit, this one is pretty different, at least in its execution. I still don't really understand the how of the floating island: how it ended up floating in the first place, how it stays afloat, or how no one else seems to question these things. There are some serious religious undertones here, and those questions could have been explained away by the existence of their "Sun God", but I usually start daydreaming whenever a story moves in that direction, so I can't be sure.
The thing I questioned most, though, was how those who neared the edge of the island -- termed jumpers, whether they actually jumped or not -- went mad. Like, insane in the membrane. Or were otherwise incapacitated. Or, if they were of the daring sort and actually did jump, some mysterious force threw them back up on the island, dead as a doornail. I need some science, some answers, here!
But, as is usually the case with the first installment in a new series, we aren't getting any answers this time around. There are, however, mysterious murders, clandestine meetings, arranged marriages, kidnappings, and royal siblings. This is, for better or worse, a book centered around world-building and less on character development. Although, it is easy to see just from this first book that Morgan is very Rhine-like in her mannerisms and impulsiveness.
I was really excited about this story when I first found out Lauren DeStefano had a new book coming out, but I'm not even sure I'll finish the series now. I didn't connect with any of the characters...not even a little. The love interest is of the puppy dog variety, and while I do adore a sweet romance, this one is not captivating in the least. And that's after taking into account that the inevitability of a love triangle is looming strong on the horizon. And though this was a world-building novel, and I understand the inner-workings and politics of it, I still didn't get any of my questions answered, even to a small degree.
The narration of the audiobook was also just so-so. It wasn't stellar but it wasn't terrible. The narrator just sounded, well, sad. Even at the beginning before Morgan was aware that anything was amiss on Internment. It actually reminded me of the narrator for Fever, which was the only book in the Chemical Garden trilogy that I listened to. (I've yet to read/listen to book 3 to finish the series. Oops.) But at least in that book, I knew what she had to be dismayed about, even from the onset of the story.
The summary simply promised a lot and failed to deliver. It's an intriguing story, but up until the end, it really had a hard time capturing my interest for any length of time. The ending, however, was just good enough to make me question whether I want to know what happens to these characters or not.
The way I feel after having finished Championis the way I had hoped to feel after Allegiant. Shoot, it's the way I hope to feel after reading anyseri...more
The way I feel after having finished Champion is the way I had hoped to feel after Allegiant. Shoot, it's the way I hope to feel after reading any series finale but most especially those that have become favorites. This is how you write the ending to a trilogy. This is how you say goodbye to characters that feel more like friends than simple descriptions in the pages of a book.
It's with a heavy heart that I do say goodbye to June and Day but not because their ending wrecked me. On the contrary, the ending to the Legend series was quite hopeful. It wasn't picture perfect, wrapped up like a Christmas present with a beautiful bow. But it was spectacular in the way that it pulled you in, made you feel cozy like when you're sitting in front of a warm fire with a mug of hot cocoa. I should know...I listened to the last ten minutes at least three times last night. ;0)
I promise to try not to make any more comparisons to that other finale from a couple of weeks ago. It's just that it's still so fresh on my mind that it's hard not to. But this book deserves to stand on its own merits, especially because it was such a strong finish. There were moments of extreme tenderness and love, but not minutes later, I was overcome with this insurmountable sense of grief over what one character specifically was facing. It was difficult not to give into both of those emotions and wish to remain in that portion of the novel, but there's a war brewing, and I didn't have time for brooding over what might have been or what's been lost. Not yet, anyway. Though the characters themselves are often faced with their pasts and previous mistakes, they endeavor to overcome all of that and move forward. In the face of all of their vulnerabilities, all of their perceived shortcomings, they were strong and self-sacrificing and proved to everyone just how resilient they could be.
Did you think there was a love triangle emerging in Prodigy? 'Cause I didn't. And for those of you who think triangles are the foulest trope to grace the pages of our YA novels, rejoice. It's practically nonexistent. No. It IS nonexistent. Shame on all ye who doubt June and Day's feelings. Their romance has really blossomed over the course of this trilogy, and though it's not always sunshine and rainbows for them, they're the real deal. Just don't expect them to realize it overnight.
The war, the plague, the biochemical warfare...it's all pushed to the forefront in this final book, and as much as we want our beloved Legend and Prodigy to get their happy ending, the country comes first. The way this world has been set up has always frightened me...it's just so unbelievably plausible. And it feels even more so in this installment. It's militaristic but also chaotic, pitting government against government, citizen against citizen. Even Antarctica gets in on the action.
This is the first time I listened to a book in this series on audio. I remember the details of the other two books pretty vividly, this being a favorite and all, so I didn't feel compelled to listen to the first two books prior to picking up Champion. However, after listening to Champion on audio, I have to say, I kind of wish I had. I loved the narrators chosen to portray June and Day. They embodied these characters so perfectly, and they sounded like the teenagers that these characters are. Right down to Day's "yeah". *sigh* I definitely see myself purchasing the other two audiobooks for a future re-read/listen.
Champion is a stunning conclusion: fast-paced, action-packed, and riddled with emotion. Marie Lu knows how to bring the feels, and she knows how to use them against you. But as with most good villains, I'm sure she'd say that the end justifies the means. :) If you're already invested in this series, you have to see it through, and I'm pretty sure you'll be happy with the ending. Seriously, it was a truly satisfying and fitting end. And if you haven't started the series yet, well, get to it, especially if you're coming off one of those (ahem) other unsatisfying series endings, yeah? :D