“A deep stillness wrapped his being and, with it, a feeling of the past, an experience like déjà vu: he was where he was but also not, he was here and also there, he was a boy at play and a man at war and the third thing he’d become.”
This is a worthy sequel to the first book, and just as thrilling and enthralling. It answers the questions we were left with from The Passage, and the answer is bigger and darker than I imagined. Human beings can be cruel and terrible when there’s no government or system left to punish them for their crimes, add a paranormal threat and suddenly there are few rules left. It’s about survival.
It doesn’t start with the characters we know, but takes off at the beginning of the ‘plague’ again and this time around we follow a whole new set of characters. I was a little put off at first, because I was extremely attached to the people of the first book, but I quickly forgot and became absorbed by the new story. Seeing the end of the world from the perspective of outsiders was interesting to say the least, and they’re not just random survivors either, they have ties to the people we’ll meet 90 years in the future. Just look how lovable they are,
“What is it with old ladies and the snot-rag-in-the-sleeve thing? Doesn’t that strike you as just a little unsanitary?” “This from a young man with enough ink in his arms to fill a ditto machine.” “A ditto machine. What century are you from?” “When I look at you, I think of one word. The word is ‘hepatitis.’”
As I’ve come to expect from Justin Cronin, nothing is random and in the end everything indeed comes together. You can’t help but be impressed by his ability to manage several different timelines, and stories, and weave them together in a way that not only makes perfect sense, but is often shocking and brilliant.
I really can’t say too much, for fear of spoiling anything, but the stakes are much higher in this book. Having found a military base in the last book, with thousands of living humans, it’s no longer about keeping a small community safe, there’s suddenly good reason to wipe out the virals completely and restart the human race.
“Does anybody out there care? Are we worth saving? What would God want from me, if there is a God? The greatest faith is the willingness to ask in the first place, all evidence to the contrary. Faith not just in God, but in all of us.”
It turns out, despite having been given the way to wipe out the virals, it’s no easy thing to accomplish, not while at the same time trying to sustain a large community in a world as dangerous as this. There are complications, lies, secrets, mysteries, horrifying revelations and all of it is exciting, well-written and never quite what you expected.
I’m especially fond of the narratives Cronin gives the women. They’re all complex and diverse characters, and each of them have, in their own way, an immense impact on the story and the way events unfold. There’s also an exploration of what being a woman is like in a world that’s gone haywire. In the aftermath, men will again assume positions of power and authority, thinking they belong there, and women have to fight, all over again, for the right to control their bodies and to be seen as people, not sexual objects. So it matters that the women affect the story as much, if not more, than the men, because in so many ways, this particular story is theirs.
I just love these books. I love how complex the story is, how side stories and various plotlines merge and lead to the one place it all has to end. I love that we see the story from so many different perspectives, and that even the truly awful characters seem human underneath it all. We understand that good and evil is a spectrum and all people fall somewhere on it, but that you’re never simply one or the other. It truly explores that moral greyness we’re all part of when governments fall and we no longer have anything but ourselves to rely on for moral guidance.
It’s simply a very good book. I’m counting the days until the third installment. (less)
This is the thrilling sequel to Cinder, which doesn’t simply continue the story of Cinder and her daring escape, but adds a new set of characters that...more This is the thrilling sequel to Cinder, which doesn’t simply continue the story of Cinder and her daring escape, but adds a new set of characters that are as equally engaging as those we are familiar with.
This introduces us to Scarlet, and is, yes, the retelling of Little Red Riding Hood with a Big Bad Street Fighter in place of a wolf and a grandmother who’s more missing than she’s dinner. I like it. And I like Scarlet better than I liked Cinder to begin with, because Scarlet isn’t tied down by a hidden legacy or false identities, which makes her feel more wholesome. There are secrets she’ll have to uncover, to be sure, but she can stand her own ground, and her loyalty to her family is admirable.
The major plot of the book is with Scarlet, but Cinder is not simply rolling her thumbs in prison. She’s picked up a sidekick (however reluctantly); the almost-Captain Thorne, who’s fucking hilarious and an absolute joy, and they’re out and about, running from authorities and unlocking Cinders’ past.
In the end the two stories intertwine and suddenly two stories become one and it’s as well done as you could hope. It does suffer a little from being a “middle book”, and thus the plot is a little slow in places, leaving room for background info and a slow build-up to the real showdown in Winter. What it lacks in storytelling it makes up for with awesome characters. I was more immediately fond of Scarlet, than I was of Cinder, so this was easier to get into, but watching Cinder grow and come to terms with herself is really wonderful to see as well.
More importantly, this series hasn’t lost sight of the fact that the real heroes of this story are the heroines. No one (not even the guys) are there simply to be someone’s romantic interest, and love is not the ultimate goal, however when it occurs it is portrayed as a strength, not a weakness and god bless Marissa Meyer for that.
I have no doubt these girls could overthrow countries, and that is so fucking fantastic.
“Slipping onto her hip, Cinder glanced back to see Scarlet marching down the ramp, carrying a shotgun.”
That is perhaps my favorite moment from the book. I can get down with girls saving other girls with shotguns. Next up is Cress, and I am excited! (less)
Another pleasant surprise of 2013. I didn't expect a hell of a lot from it, I merely hoped it'd be somewhat decent, but the moment I opened it I was h...more Another pleasant surprise of 2013. I didn't expect a hell of a lot from it, I merely hoped it'd be somewhat decent, but the moment I opened it I was hooked.
This book is excellent. It's not a literary masterpiece, it's not excellent like that, but it's a breath of fresh air - and most importantly it has a well-written main character. Yelena has a tragic background, and is carried out of the dungeon and spared execution to instead become the Commander’s food taster - which means learning to tell apart poisons and invariably risk poisoning on a daily basis.
Of course, there’s a little more to her (and the story) than it seems, but it is all revealed at a steady pace and it didn’t feel too rushed, nor did I feel the usual exasperation at her having ‘special’ powers. This is mainly because they don’t just suddenly appear, it’s a gradual thing and something she has to learn to control. It was satisfyingly done.
Her background is a mystery at first, we know she’s in prison for murder, but we know none of her reasons. Only that she’s been severely marked by it, and shows it. She’s a mere shadow of a person in the beginning, and all her actions and reactions speak to her instability. She’s got issues, and her strength grows as she gradually learns to accept the things she’s done and been through. It’s great to watch her struggle and overcome these things, because I honestly felt with her.
The only reason this book got 4 stars and not 5 is that her relationship with her poison teacher, Valek, who also happens to be a deadly assassin in his spare time. He was a great character, but their relationship was the only thing that seemed a little messy and confused.
The main story was tightly plotted though and secondary stories blended in effortlessly with the rest of it, causing a flow that made it difficult to stop reading. I could hardly keep my eyes off the page, I wanted to know how it all came together.
On another note, this is the book that made me really look forward to Throne of Glass, but where that one failed miserably, Poison Study stands tall as a beauty of the genre and absolutely worth reading if you get the chance. (less)
It is rare for me to go this wrong in my book selections, and yet I won't blame myself - or anyone else, although this really didn't live up to any of...more It is rare for me to go this wrong in my book selections, and yet I won't blame myself - or anyone else, although this really didn't live up to any of the praise so many people have been giving it.
I disliked it from the beginning, which is why I started it in December, stopped, then, through immense force of will, made myself finish it in January.
I like finding redeeming qualities about the books I read. I honestly don't enjoy not liking something, so when I tell you that this book sucked, it is not because I didn't try to like it. I did. It was impossible.
The plot in itself is somewhat interesting, albeit cliched, easy to see through and slightly forced. Assassin is saved from certain death to be the crown prince's champion in a series of tests, that will eventually end up with someone being named the King's Champion. She agrees because it will mean she will eventually earn her freedom. When she gets to the castle not everything is as it seems and a more sinister plot is behind it all blablabla. You know how it goes.
I can deal with a thin story, what I cannot deal with is the incredible, mind blowing sloppiness of the characters. They make no sense, the things they do make no sense. Celaena is the worst of them, but sadly no one is spared. They all jump from state of mind to another, what they feel and think on one page is contradicted on the next with no explanation. There's no consistency, which makes them hollow and ridiculous.
Am I supposed to believe Celaena is a former assassin? And the very best assassin in the land at that? I can't, I won't buy it, not in this world, not in the next. She's mostly a silly, easily distracted and over-emotional girl. I feel as if Sarah Mass tried to create a heroine who's a killer, but maintains all her feminine traits, which is a worthy goal, but she misses the mark by fucking miles.
And then there's the love triangle. It's the most obvious, and absolutely the worst love story I've ever encountered in any YA book... in any book possibly. Celaena goes from finding Chaol handsome, but then she hates him, and then Dorian is flavour of the day, and then Chaol shows up and smiles and she melts and yadayadayada. I'd rather not even comment on it, it was so rubbishly done. None of them had any chemistry, and their instant attraction towards her is dull. Who in the right fucking mind would think, right away, 'oh, she's so beautiful, I'm just gonna ignore that she's also a deadly assassin, she probably won't try to kill me to escape' NO ONE.
And they take her away from the mines, were she's supposed to wither and die, and the only way they try to make sure she doesn't escape is by lodging her in a huge, well equipped room, with guards outside. She's an assassin. Do they honestly believe that'll stop her? They do. It does. This book is terrible.
Just... these characters made no sense and it made the whole thing a goddamned mess. I'm sad, I had really high hopes for this one, but I'm afraid not even really low expectations could have saved this book from being such a disappointment.
If you want a taste of all the things this book could have been, then try out Poison Study.(less)