This book is like reading the Disney version of The Beauty and the Beast (to the point where you're quoting "you will join me for dinner. That's not a...moreThis book is like reading the Disney version of The Beauty and the Beast (to the point where you're quoting "you will join me for dinner. That's not a request!"), but without all the Stockholm Syndrome BS. Paige is repulsed by her lack of freedom. She doesn't find the her lack of power and abundant helplessness (at first) even remotely sexy.
This is what I love about this influenced work (oh, come on! The flower in the bell jar was a dead giveaway, and as many have argued this story is hardly original).
I wouldn't say this is the next Harry Potter (it's more adult). I wouldn't even compare the author with Rowling. They're not even writing about the same thing or setting or theme. But Shannon knows her way around words beautifully, and these days a mark of good writing is not how much are "original" ideas, it's about how you present a retelling. It's about how you let other work influence your writing in all the right ways. And it's about what you bring to what you've borrowed.
Instead, if you liked the Disney version of The Beauty and the Beast; Diana Wynne Jones' Howl's Moving Castle; Laini Taylor's Daughter of Smoke and Bone; and Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness, you will probably find yourself in their displaced and bleak future London with throwbacks to the 19th century. By the way, this whole history of Ireland bit is wonderful. It feels legitimate.
There are very few insignificant and predictable elements, and an abundance of complex relationships (Nick, David, Liss, Carl, Seb, Jax, Warden, Didion...). There is no insta-love or false emotional need for someone else. In fact, at the end, (view spoiler)[they part ways because they have different goals and duties to themselves and others. (hide spoiler)] And this is what I love about this book. Everything feels like it has history; like there is something beyond what you are first introduced to. And that is the greatest advantage Samantha Shannon has honed within her writing. She has played the info dump card so sneakily, it's easier just to assume we'll come back to so-and-so's history at a later point.
That being said, I'm annoyed I have to wait for the next 6 books. I'll be nearly middle aged by the time they're all out. Ugh.
Also, anyone reminded of Gaston whenever they read about Jaxon? Except Jax is clever and is not afraid of thinking ("A dangerous pastime—" "I know. But that whacky old coot is Belle's father, and his sanity's only so-so.")["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
Note: This may seem like a long book where nothing happens, but it’s totally worth all the nothing you get from it (and that little bit of something)....moreNote: This may seem like a long book where nothing happens, but it’s totally worth all the nothing you get from it (and that little bit of something). Definitely classifying as a junk-supernatural YA read.
I’ve got major spoilers on the mind. Expect.
Keywords: Prison, rights, government, YA, teen, non-dystopia, love, friendship, disease, cure, society, powers, colours, betrayal, science, experimentation, tribes, Lord of the Flies.
Flesch-Kincaid Grading: Grade 10-12 (although one of my three tests came out as grade 5).
Sentence: I sentence Alexandra Bracken to guesting for Never Mind the Buzzcocks. I feel like she’d be brilliant there…and hopefully funny.
Review: I was extremely skeptical about this book when I first heard about it. It felt like another sad attempt at an X-men-like trope. I mean, come on, it’s exactly what it sounds like…young kid accidentally uses powers, which either convinces parents to send them away purposefully or because they cannot help it (in this case it’s a combination of both). Bracken does a great job of revealing Ruby’s power(s) right away, but without exposing the events leading her to Thurmond (a “rehab” camp). You can immediately cross this off as being a psychological thriller, where the narrator might be unreliable (oh yeah, did I mention it’s in first person—ugh!), because every child who has not died is pretty much sent to these camps.
Anyway, Bracken cuts through bullshit of the years at Thurmond and directs us right to the chase. Ruby is not a green, she’s an orange; one of the few oranges who managed to escape death. Oh yeah, Bracken is most definitely into this colour business. We’ve got their colour codes and Ruby and even President Gray (it gets confusing when you’re tired).
So basically, Ruby is sought after for her rarity by both the Children’s League (which are like a guerrilla/terrorist army), the government (probably want her dead), and (view spoiler)[another group/person (which she doesn't know about). (hide spoiler)]
Of course, Ruby joins a small group (looking for sanctuary, as they always are) she finds during her “escape”, and ends up being accepted by them, and falls in love with the leader of said company (yeah, bet you saw that coming). All of this is really standard, except that Ruby is extremely insecure and a fucking coward (view spoiler)[(I shan't forgive her for Sam, I've decided, though I’m kinda glad she’s not some macho badass Rogue-type yet). (hide spoiler)]
Here, reader, you must drudge through a long journey to find the Slip Kid (I still wanna know why they call him that). Overall, for the greater plot, not much happens until the end, but goddamn it are you kept on the edge of your seat. There is no rest for these poor kids, with trackers and bounty hunters hot on their trail. Despite this, and the limited narration, you find yourself kind of in love with the characters despite all their flaws.
Liam is that guy. The one who fits in no matter where you go. He is charismatic, lovable, responsibly kind (you’ll get what I mean when you read more of him), overly hopeful (even at the worst of times), and has utter faith in things just…working out. If I met Lee for real, I must admit, I’d probably crush him, under my foot, in a heartbeat for all his smiles and cheeriness, but then regret it instantly for the same reason.
Ruby is apparently a gorgeous hermit, who blames herself for everything going wrong (her and Liam have this in common). Fortunately, for her survival, she is a bit fickle in her guilt. There must be some part of her thinking she is not entirely responsible, especially if she’s willing to stick it out with this group that took her in.
Zu is like Rogue, only younger and mute (as of now). She wears gloves, but to prevent the electric surge of whatever. Hers is a physical display of power, which makes people think she’s more powerful than she is. Big power, little body? I think I’ve heard of that one before.
Chubs…is more like me. I suspect I’m not as intensely academic as he, or as smart, but he has the same shrewd, calculating and overly cautious frame of mind, which I can appreciate. He’s an argumentative ass with major trust issues, and some raging impatience. But, unlike me, he’s a bit of a wimp. And apparently cannot handle heavy labour (I suppose all the better to go with his prissy name—Charles Carrington Meriweather IV).
And (view spoiler)[Clancy Gray…well, to be honest, I’m already judging him for having the same initials as Christian Grey (not to mention a similarly arrogant personality, and blaming his issues on his goddamn parentage). I actually despise him and pity him at the same time, but for some reason I was a little pleased when he left that note on his laptop, which read “I lied before. I would have run.” On the one hand, creepy; and on the other, it confirms he might actually have human emotion left in that hollow shell of his. (hide spoiler)]
The Darkest Minds will remind readers of Unwind (Shusterman), the Gone series(Grant), and a little bit of X-Men. I’d "like" to think it has some twisted Fifty Shades dominance bit at the end. Real disturbing…sort of.
It’s important to note that while I categorized this as “dystopian”, it really isn’t. This is almost mock dystopian, during present times. It has all the right economic shit set up too. I do not know much about economics and I probably wouldn’t care unless this goddess was telling me.
But I do know it sounds less ridiculous with the crisis at hand. Also, typical. Though, I didn’t particularly like the idea of “walls” being built in Mexico and Canada to prevent American crossover…are these metaphorical walls or are we talkin’ some Monsters bullshit?
In any case, that thing you’re expecting, but not sure when it’ll hit you…hard? That thing with her memory erasing abilities? Yeah, that thing that Liam joked about and you had a heart attack right along with Ruby? Just…yeah. Some will say that it’s the worst ending ever, but I kind of feel like it’s the best and most appropriate. It kills me, yes, and I’ll probably go crazy wondering, but there was something so annoyingly necessary about it.
Here are things I predict: somehow Lee will get his memory back or realize something is wrong/Ruby will be able to restore people’s memories as well; Lee will be pissed she did it; Clancy will be making a move; Ruby will likely meet Cole and understand Lee’s family better; Ruby will somehow destroy or escape the CL/make Rob forget Cate (revenge!); Ruby will be less cowardly; Sam will be reintroduced to Ruby; the voicemail intro is the same as when Ruby was taken six years ago, and her parents are no longer at that house.
Also, here’s a helpful summary of powers/colours:
Red—unknown, probably physically harmful as they were recruited in CG’s private army.
Blue—telekinesis (weaker in some). ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
Sentence: I sentence Leigh Bardugo to making me look half as pretty as Genya. I guarantee it'll take hours. Get to work!
Review: Take a fraction of the complex politics of A Song of Ice and Fire with a folk-ish and historical feel of Eastern Europe, as well as the influence of Asian culture and you have Shadow and Bone.
I was impressed by Bardugo's mastery of making you believe in all these other cultures and languages, let alone monsters and beings of power. For damnation's sake, I wanted to see the frakking clothes they were wearing, so I could better understand keftas and whether these Grisha were actually wearing what appeared to be Japanese boys' school uniforms with coloured capes (I think my mind twisted the descriptions a little).
I guess maybe that's why I can't take anyone seriously, but sort of can. It doesn't help that the main duo are being chanted in my head as "Al and Mal. Al and Mal. Al and Mal."
Anyway, there were similarities to other fantasy and YA fiction, but not to an extent that I disliked it. Alina's relationship with the Darkling seems kind of like a submissive-dominance thing; appearing to give them both a thrill, which I guess will appeal to the Fifty Shades crowd. Oh yes, ladies, there is even a (view spoiler)[collar (hide spoiler)] involved. But that is the extent of the similarities to that fodder.
I think my only issue with it was how Alina failed to see that someone with the title DARKLING could be evil. Let's get real for a second... Actually, I really thought him harmless for like two pages when I misread "Darkling" as "Darkwing" and forever the handsome 120 year old now looks like this in my head:
I seriously need to know whether keftas can include capes. You can whip them about snobbily.
I think I need to take a break from any young adult fantasy. I'll dunk my head in some overrated, hedonistic teen romance. That'll give me some perspective, I'm sure.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
In terms of plot this book is just okay. It's not exactly unpredictable and falls into a pattern I've seen before (of course). The sole reason I gave...moreIn terms of plot this book is just okay. It's not exactly unpredictable and falls into a pattern I've seen before (of course). The sole reason I gave this book 5 stars is because it covers important topics and perspectives without shying away. For this I have to commend Maria Snyder. She takes on a tough topic that most YA authors, even when directly related to the plot of their books, avoid direct contact with. They handle it with kiddie gloves and muddled memories. Yelena does not. She is bitter, horrified, and open about her abuse and her rape. She is unashamed, but considerate of others' sensitivities on the subject (unfortunate honesty about people/their attitudes).
I appreciate what Snyder has done.
What really makes the relationships in this book all the better is Leif's hatred, anguish and guilt. Nothing is black and white, and Leif's annoying presence is a reminder of that.
Overall, the story of this second book is made better by Yelena's compelling view on rape and her understanding of Leif. It resonates with me a lot more than the first book and I couldn't help, but love the author for this.
The best part? Yelena doesn't need her lover Valek for any of this. She stands on her own two feet.(less)
There will be bloody fucking spoilers in this review.
Sentence: I sentence Kendare Blake to a Supernatural and possibly some classic Japanese horror mo...moreThere will be bloody fucking spoilers in this review.
Sentence: I sentence Kendare Blake to a Supernatural and possibly some classic Japanese horror movies marathon. Also, writing something that is not teen.
Review: When I first saw this title in stores I thought Shit, this author knows how to hook you in with the dramatics. And then I thought, I hope this isn't a teen version of Carrie. While keeping it fairly dramatic, Anna Dressed in Blood did not disappoint me.
This series is a reminder of why I bother with teen at all. I had sworn off teen for three months and failed because sometimes it just doesn't feel like teen. It's something more than that stupid, superficial crap or the very depressing "everything is about me and it's all life and death" stuff. Don't get me wrong, some of those books turn out very good, but they are all very overdone.
Well written horror teen is pretty hard to find and Blake's novel is just that. Readers start off with a lonely Cas and his mother travelling around the world and freeing the ghosts tethered to certain areas; causing mayhem and death. You end up with Cas trying to figure out how he can keep Anna in his life, even if she isn't alive.
(view spoiler)[I'll admit at first the way Cas wielded the athame reminded me of Supernatural, but then the story started to create its own character. Cas turns out to be a compassionate young man just trying to save people and ghosts alike. And there is certainly Something About Mary Anna.
If possible, there is a more sinister creature than Anna haunting Thunder Bay. Familiar bite marks are discovered on the bodies and Cas is suddenly facing his ultimate ghosty; the one that killed his father. (hide spoiler)]
From the setting in Thunder Bay (Canada, ftw) to the overly expressive cat (and even the touch of voodoo), Blake weaves a story about love, friendship and haunting histories.
This book bled into a seat of favour on my bookshelves.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
At least there is only one more book until it's finally over.
Keywords: Werewolves, wizards, murder, best friends, vampires, teen, depressing, ghosts,...moreAt least there is only one more book until it's finally over.
Keywords: Werewolves, wizards, murder, best friends, vampires, teen, depressing, ghosts, demons, powers, assault, evil family members.
Sentence: I sentence Cassandra Clare to a completely new series in which she can finally move on with her life...or career. I like you Cassie, but goddamn it, I want something new. If I see anymore of this Mortal Instruments/Infernal Devices nonsense after both series' are over, I'm running in the opposite direction.
Review: It took me about 100 pages to actually get into this book. While I loved Clare expanding beyond Clary's POV, I could have done without Jordan and Maya or whatever their names are.
I did, however, find myself completely immersed in Alec and Magnus. Alec finally is beefing up with his own, surprisingly insecure personality. The little bouts of jealousy combined with desperation at getting a handle on Magnus, who he feels is too beyond his reach, endears him to me.
I just wanna pat him on the back and be that understanding friend that could possibly advise him against most stupid mistakes.
Anyway, while I was a little indifferent about the whole Clary and Jace situation, I found a total opposite reaction to the Clary-Seb situ.
I am hoping for a complete re-hash and appropriate reaction to this whole (view spoiler)[abusive, sexually-assaulting brother business. (hide spoiler)] I know a lot of readers were iffy about it, but I liked that it was real, sick, twisted and dark. (view spoiler)[Sexual assault (hide spoiler)] occurs much more often than people realize and I think that teen fiction needs more discussion of it. It needs to be addressed rather than avoided and perhaps even dealt with (appropriately and inappropriately) within books. As Clare said in the piece she wrote on her website/blog, just because there is abuse in books, does not mean that the authors of such works promote violence and rape. Writing is a form of storytelling and stories are an escape and sometimes a fantastical metaphor used to deal with real life issues.
Maybe I am taking this whole thing much too seriously, but books like Speak and The Perks of Being a Wallflower are relatable for a reason; they don't try to pretend the darker aspects of young adult life do not exist or are uncommon.
If teens were left to read happy and sappy romances, happily-ever-after scenarios and non-violent versions of everything perhaps their expectations would be set a little too high and their interest in reading diminished. Teens are angsty, over-dramatic creatures.
Alright, so I sort of went off on a tangent, but my point is that City of Lost Souls is great in that sense. It made me weep, the fight scenes were decent for once (Clary uses some quick thinking, which was an excellent change) and you feel for the characters you don't really think you like (Sebastian, Maya, etc.)
My only points of issue with this book were:
-Maya and Jordan; who really cares? And weren't they a sort of metaphor for normal abusive couples? UGH. -Simon loves Iz, but he is way too attached to Clary still. I don't trust that shit. Sorry dude, Iz is better than that. -Magnus must realize how tough it is for Alec. He is oddly unforgiving for someone who has hundreds of years of experience versus the kid that is dating a guy for the first time. -Why does Sebastian always miraculously get away? I feel like I'm watching Scooby Doo but Sebastian is Shaggy surrounded by a dozen monsters with only one door out and he accidentally trips into Fred's trap which slingshots him out of a random skylight I didn't notice before.
Anyway, I highly recommend reading this book, even if you hated the last one. In fact, pretend the last one didn't happen and enjoy this book (as much as you can) as it is. Not as great as the original trilogy, but worth checking out.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)