When I first heard of this book I was overcome by two strong but conflicting emotions: NEED for the book because the cover was gorgeous and the titleWhen I first heard of this book I was overcome by two strong but conflicting emotions: NEED for the book because the cover was gorgeous and the title spoke to my soul(!), and worry because the main character’s name sounded a lot like the author’s name and I didn’t really want to read a self-insert book. Those are never good.
But my worry was unfounded! This book was awesome!
When I went to buy the book, the first thing I noticed was…well, the FIRST thing I noticed was that the cover was even more beautiful in real life. The SECOND thing I noticed was that O. R. Melling had blurbed it!!! O. R. Melling!!!! The Hunter’s Moon was the first real novel I ever read. And I have since read a lot of her other books and I just love her so much.
So, I started The Faerie Ring with some high expectations. There was going to be faeries and adventure and high spirited young women and romance and danger. And it totally lived up to my expectations. It even read similarly to the faerie books I read when I was growing up. Reading this book felt like re-discovering an old friend that I had somehow forgotten about.
Tiki was a great character. She does some bad things, makes some bad choices, and is very mistrusting of people but her motivations are always for the protection of her family. You can just feel how much she cares about this band of orphans that have come together to try to make something resembling a home. She would do anything for them, including stealing and lying and bargaining with dangerous faeries. But all the bad things she does are done to get food and shelter for her new family and I never even thought about blaming her or anything like that.
And then there’s Reiker. I found his mysterious storyline a mite predictable, but I wanted it all the same. You know? He was great and dependable that way. From a reading perspective and from a character perspective. And I loved the ending he had with Tiki. It really showed how much he understood what was important to her. If there are any more books in this series, which there had better be because somethings were not answered at all, I really hope they don’t mess with Tiki and Reiker. Or the ending they had.
I should mention, after saying that some questions never got answers, that it wasn’t a horrible cliffhanger ending. Everything about this plot was wrapped up wonderfully. There were just a couple things along the way that were left open, which is what makes me assume it will be a series. Which excites me! I want more!
My ONE problem with the book is difficult to convey without spoiling things. But lets just say that I really don’t think a certain prominent building would be quite that easy to break in to, or go wondering around in. Multiple times. I found that to be a little unrealistic. But it didn’t interrupt my enjoyment of the story too much. And I guess I don’t really know anything about how security worked in 1871.
If you’re looking for a fun, fast, adventurous read with a classic feel to it, I encourage you to pick up The Faerie Ring.
If you take fantasy books as serious business (for example, if you’ve ever yelled this at someone: ” How dare you say Hobbits aren’t real?!”), then thIf you take fantasy books as serious business (for example, if you’ve ever yelled this at someone: ” How dare you say Hobbits aren’t real?!”), then this book is not for you. But if you can find humor in things you enjoy, then I have a feeling you’ll like this book. I did.
Now, the characters. At first, I thought this book would be more about Veronica since she’s the one who actually reads fantasy books and knows the layout of the world her and Heather are zapped into. (Don’t try to figure out the science behind a faulty barcode scanner becoming a means for teleportation into a book. Just nod your head like this makes perfect sense, especially if you’ve read The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde.) After introducing Veronica, however, the focus shifted to Heather, the shallow popular girl that used to make fun of us in high school. (I know we didn’t go to the same high school, but I’m 96% sure you were a fellow nerd like me during those teen years.) Heather’s not altogether bright, but I grew to like her, especially after she butts heads with a haughty elf. Don’t worry, he had it coming to him.
There are definite references to The Lord of the Rings. As I haven’t read many fantasy books, that’s the one I noticed the most, but there might be others. At one point Dungeons and Dragons was mentioned and I sent a mental high-five out into the collective nerd mind. You should have felt it. It happened about ten days ago. Anyway, every little reference or similarity made me smile. Some made me laugh at the absurdness, usually the ones that caught me by surprise.
But it wasn’t all fun, all the time.
For being a parody, there’s actually a plot and a sense of earnestness in the characters. I honestly wasn’t expecting much, but it was surprisingly good. It was cute and sometimes funny in a ridiculous way. If you’re looking for a light, fantasy read, this is it.
Jennifer Brown writes powerful books about tough topics, and she does it exceedingly sensitively and, therefore, exceedingly well. I still remember reJennifer Brown writes powerful books about tough topics, and she does it exceedingly sensitively and, therefore, exceedingly well. I still remember reading Hate List and straight up sobbing through the last chapters. I still remember being so moved by it that it was hard to read anything after it, and only reading another infinitely touching book (Gayle Foreman’s If I Stay) got me through it. Reading her newest novel, Bitter End, didn’t crumple me up like Hate List, but it left me aching the whole time I was reading. I couldn’t put this book down because I had to find out where Alex was going and in what state she was going to get there.
Bitter End tells the story of Alex, a smart, funny, and, underneath all that, infinitely sad girl with the kind of family history which makes you want to give her a hug. She has two great best friends, Zack and Bethany, an annoying little sister, a good boss, and a dad who doesn’t pay a whole lot of attention to her. And by that I mean none. Her life has goals, even if they aren’t traditional ones, and for all her sadness she seems happy too. Enter Cole, the hot, seemingly sensitive transfer student that Alex gets assigned to tutor. Only soon they’re moving past tutoring and Alex’s whole world is flipped upside down.
This book was hard to read at times, and in so many different and (painfully) good ways. It was hard to read about the things Cole did to Alex. It was hard to see the slow buildup of her just accepting the physical violence and emotional abuse and blaming herself. It was hard to read about how she turned her back on her friends and hard to read about how they kind of turned their backs on her. It was hard to read when Alex’s dad, despite warnings that his daughter might be in trouble, seemed to brush it off in his own grief. And that’s what made this book so amazing. Because all of those things are hard to read, but even harder to live. I felt there with Alex. At one point, after a blow to her face, I had my hand on my cheek without even realizing it. And this is Jennifer Brown’s biggest strength: she makes you feel things. Physical things. Emotional things. I find myself feeling more connected to her characters than in other books.
Cole was also amazingly written. He had all the stereotypes of abusers that people tend to cite. A strained family life. A history of emotional abuse by his father. A father who (so it seems as you read), beats his mother. And yet, even with all of that, we’re not supposed to feel sorry for Cole. Not really. You do, because it’s so sad, but then you think about Alex and it’s so much harder. No excuses are being made for Cole, and for that I was glad. He and Alex are excellent foils in that regard – two people with similar backgrounds who grew up to be two totally different people.
I didn’t just feel connected to the main characters either. The secondary characters in this book are all relatable and real. Zack’s goofballery and protectiveness masking his fierce loyalty to his friend’s. Bethany’s quiet, easy-going nature hiding the same thing. Even Celia, Alex’s younger sister, had a distinct presence that went beyond just pesky younger sibling.
All of them were feeling the same pain and frustration that I felt as a reader with Alex sometimes. But you want to shake them too because this is their friend and she’s in trouble even if she can’t ask for it. And that’s another thing that makes this book so interesting. For Zack and Bethany, Alex won’t ask for help, but in her mind she simply can’t do it. It was a heartbreaking struggle to watch because the whole time you’re reading, you have a gut-sinking feeling of how it might end and what might happen and you desperately need everyone to just fix themselves. But of course, life is never as simple as all that, and neither was this book.
Abandoned was one of those books that we all knew we wanted to read and talk about. Unfortunately, it came at a time when not all of us had the time fAbandoned was one of those books that we all knew we wanted to read and talk about. Unfortunately, it came at a time when not all of us had the time for reading, and we certainly didn’t have the time to gush about it as a group. So Caitlin and I decided we’d just each do a little individual gushing. Because we couldn’t wait to tell y’all how much we loved Abandoned and Meg Cabot.
Kate: Meg Cabot is a goddess. She writes fantasy books that don’t feel like fantasy books. Like Avalon High. Oh, so the King Arthur myth is all real and we’re living it? Ok, cool, no big deal. And she carried that same sense of normalcy to Abandoned. The premise of this book is crazy and fantastical, but it never felt that way reading it because Pierce is amazingly grounded. She is so rational and calm, even at the times of the most crazy, and I really appreciated that about her. It also really fit in with what an outsider she felt like – how it was so hard for her to relate to her peers. It made this book so very human – Pierce wants to be able to relate to everyone like she used to (especially her Mother), but she just can’t, and the consequences of it follow her everywhere. It’s so smart and metaphorical and deeply impressing. And I liked John, too. I felt like I shouldn’t like him for a lot of the book. He was flawed and broken and so deeply unsure about everything and so saddled with this task that it was pretty clear made him miserable. But…I liked him anyway. I liked him because Pierce liked him. She really carried this book and its plot, which was so well written and the perfect balance of a little bit tragic, a little bit mysterious, a little bit funny, and a lot bit good to read. I figure that, unlike so many YA heroines lately, I could trust Pierce to be smart. I could trust her to step away when she needed to and to fix things. For me, the fantasy in this book (though both important and excellent) was secondary to her and her story. I didn’t realize until I was about fifteen pages from the end that this had to be the opening of a sequel and I was on the one hand disappointed that I’d have to wait around for the end and on the other so stoked that it wasn’t the end.
Caitlin: I can’t think of a single thing I didn’t love about Abandon. It has fantastic characters, a suspenseful plot, smooth writing, and a good story. Pierce’s relationships with the people around her are so tangible through the writing I feel as I lived in this world and gotten to know everyone. Her awkward long distance relationship with her dad, the too-close relationship with her mom, and (my favourite) the confusing relationship she has with John. Every time the two of them were together I could feel their inability to communicate with each other. Their shy, halting conversations hiding a deeper caring for one another that’s gotten lost in all the missteps in their interactions. My favourite thing about Pierce was that she wasn’t immediately ready to give up her life for the mysterious, handsome guy. And the idea of spending eternity with him frightens her. This made her seem all the more real to me. And gave John this double sided-ness. On one hand, he was offering so much to Pierce, and he clearly cared for her a great deal. But on the other hand, he was prepared to take so much from her, with or without her permission. It was nice to see the love interest of YA paranormal romance be so flawed. I cannot wait for the rest of this series to see where and Pierce grow, together or apart.
I read Michelle Cooper’s A Brief History of Montmaray what feels like a million years ago, but was more likely sometime in 2009. Obviously I bought itI read Michelle Cooper’s A Brief History of Montmaray what feels like a million years ago, but was more likely sometime in 2009. Obviously I bought it because the cover was so pretty and really evoked what was the ultimate feel of the novel. It feels like I read this book a million years ago because it was one of those books that I just loved so much that it sort of crept onto my list of Those Books. The books you recommend to everyone. The books that you clutch to your chest and hope to share with your future kids. The kind of book that reminds you of the spirit of one of your all time favorites and captures that same magic for you (for this book it was I Capture the Castle). If I’d had a blog way back when, I’d have gushed about it. But I didn’t. And I’ve been busy. So my gushing has been forestalled to…now.
A Brief History of Montmaray tells the story of Sophie Fitzosborne and her family. They live on the tiny island of Montmaray and, though they’re poorer than dirt, they also happen be the island’s royal family. A Brief History is told through Sophie’s diary as she chronicles the events of the island. In 1936. When this little thing called World War II was gearing up but before anyone really knew what the heck was going on. Montmaray has always been isolated, but now Sophie and her eccentric clan are thrust into the middle of something bigger than the tiny island could have ever imagined.
This book was magic. All of the characters, the plot, the writing, the pace…they all blended seamlessly to come together in the form of a suspenseful and moving book. I think the fact that this was written like a diary is what really reminded me of I Capture the Castle. The eccentric family in the rundown castle are similar, but it was the gorgeous voice of first Cassandra and then Sophie that spoke to me. Now, aside from the very basic premise mentioned above, the two books aren’t really alike at all. But, as I said, they had that same kind of magic. And reading Sophie’s words felt like magic for me. Her words were vivid, and I found myself feeling like I was trapped on this island with her.
Sophie was an amazing lead. Strong and independent but still young and unsure. Stuck on this tiny island which at times felt like a prison but was always, always home. I held my breath as she found out about the things happening on the island. I wanted to hug her through some of the darker times. I wanted to curl up in the castle and laugh with her too. Sophie is the kind of character you want to share with young girls everywhere, because she’s feisty and independent but still down to earth and pretty wholesome. Sure, it’s 1936, but I can appreciate that about her. And the fact that she wasn’t the only smart, capable girl in the book was refreshing.
The plot of this book was so well done. The pace was perfect, which is hard to do when it’s told through a diary form that kind of has to happen AFTER things have happened. But this was, underneath the coming-of-age feeling of the book, a war novel as well. My heart pounded in the later chapters and I clutched my chest (actually clutched it, y’all) in parts. And when I got to the end and it was the end? Heartbroken that there was no more.
Funnily enough, I actually had no idea that this book even had a sequel, The Fitzosbornes in Exile until right when that book was about to be released. I haven’t read the sequel yet because none of my local bookstores have had it in stock. But as soon as I can get it in my hot little hands you better believe I’ll be plowing through it.
A Brief History of Montmaray was a refreshingly smart book that had the timeless magic so many books now are missing. I can’t recommend it enough, and I can’t wait to read more about Sophie and her crazy clan.
I loved this book. It was so different than anything I’d been reading recently. There’s mystery, there’s magic, there’s good characters with depth andI loved this book. It was so different than anything I’d been reading recently. There’s mystery, there’s magic, there’s good characters with depth and motivations, and there’s much drama.
At the crux of it this book is about a girl, Alex, becoming disenchanted with life. The first half of the book has her being hit with disappointment after let down after disaster after tragedy. I was very intrigued by Alex’s character, not having met anyone like her in young adult fiction before. She had her dreads and her pot smoking, and her “I wanna save the world, one piece of litter at a time” attitude. She was refreshing. And then she was was corrupted. Her new family and friends offer her power and beauty and acceptance that she’s never had before. With everything else that has gone wrong in her life, I can understand why she went so far away from who she really was.
Even if one part made me extremely angry. I couldn’t tell if I was mad at the character for doing something, or if I was mad at the author for having the character do something that I felt was a little out of character for her. But I was mad. It was the most self-destructive thing we’d seen Alex do, including trying to go back to her boyfriend who didn’t care about her and was pressuring her into having sex. I was so mad. If I had been reading a real book, I’d have thrown it against the wall.
But I liked that it took Alex going so far, to find her real self. To find her motivation to do what has to be done.
When Alex first arrives in Savannah she is taken under the wing of two other girls from the Magnolia League, Madison and Hayes. I really wanted to hate these girls. I really thought I would hate them. And I really didn’t hate them. They were kind of awesome actually. Loyal and fierce, if a bit snobby and mean. I was surprised, pleasantly so, that the drama of the story all, or mostly, came from other sources. I’m not saying all three girls were the best of friends the entire book. But there was no backstabbing, there was no sabotaging. They were Magnolia Debutantes and that means they stick together. As Madison and Hayes say to each other near the beginng, “We don’t stab each other in the back… We stab each other in the front.”…and I am very much paraphrasing. Don’t quote me on that.
In fact the only one of the three who ever really betrays one of the other girls is Alex…and that was during the scene that made me ANGRY. I don’t like thinking about it.
And then, there’s Thaddeus. Sigh. He’s just so normal. And upstanding. And he just wants to get away from debutantes and hoodoo and all this crazyness the women of his family are mixed up in. I loved him. Especially at the end, he really proved himself over and over and well, I can’t say anything but I’m really interested in seeing how things turn out with him. I hope it all turns out well. Really, really hope.
The ending was both wonderful and upsetting and I’m really looking forward to the next one. As long as it has a happy ending. Though, with these characters, I’m not quite sure what would entail a happy ending.I can settle for a conclusive ending. Just not something with a bunch of loose ends. And I want Thaddeus and Alex to be together. And happy. I’m such a sap.
The first thing I thought after I read that summary was “It’s the high school version of FELICITY.” I know I’m not the only one. Moving to NYC for a gThe first thing I thought after I read that summary was “It’s the high school version of FELICITY.” I know I’m not the only one. Moving to NYC for a guy? Come on, that screams Felicity. (Let’s take a second here to remember the awesomeness that was Felicity and Noel *sigh* and Ben. Good times.)
So Much Closer is much more than a girl moving to NYC for a guy, though. After about fifty pages, that set-up doesn’t apply anymore because it becomes more about Brooke and her self-discovery. Brooke finds herself in a huge and strange town, living with her father, whom she doesn’t know very well anymore. She kind of has to grow-up and figure out how to handle starting over in a new place.
Brooke and the people she meets in NYC are great characters. I especially love Sadie and her “warm fuzzies”. (You’ll have to read the book to find out what those are. I’m not spoiling it.) And the way Brooke interacts with the person she tutors… oh, it makes me want to be their friend so I can hang out with them and go hear Beatles’ covers and talk about the tops of buildings.
Besides the characters, NYC played a large part in the story. Honestly, I felt like this book was a love letter to NYC. I’ve only been there once, but after reading So Much Closer, I want to visit again and stay longer than a couple days. I also want to find some of the places Susane describes because I definitely feel like I’m missing out.
Susane Colasanti has a tendency to reference pop culture things I love in her books and this one was no exception. For example, both The Office and Office Space were referenced and quoted from. I loved it. If there was an award for favorite pop culture author, I would give it to Susane.
Overall, this is a good contemporary YA read for people of all ages. It’s good, clean fun all around and I look forward to more of Susane in the future.
Years ago I read Possession by A.S. Byatt. If you haven’t read it, it follows the discovery of an intense love affair between two Victorian writers anYears ago I read Possession by A.S. Byatt. If you haven’t read it, it follows the discovery of an intense love affair between two Victorian writers and how two people journey to unearth the entire truth about what happened to the writers. Along the way, they become entangled in the lives of these writers and start their own love affair with each other. It was made into a movie about ten years ago with Gwyneth Paltrow and Aaron Eckhart, which was okay, in case you don’t want to read the book.
Anyway, all that to say, when I read the summary for Illuminated, I immediately thought of Possession.
Illuminated is a medieval literature crash course. I honestly didn’t know anything about medieval literature beyond what I was forced to learn in school, so thank goodness for Wikipedia. I now know much more about medieval monks, poetry and just how much books from that era go for at auctions. (And holy crap, it’s a lot.)
The story is focused on Callie Matthews as we follow her from the moment she starts researching the history behind the palimpsest she’s been given by her uncle, whom she is staying with for the summer, to a wrap up of what happens after they discover the mystery behind it. And when the devastatingly handsome August Sokolov is introduced in the first couple chapters, I decided to become very interested in medieval literature.
There is an intense case of insta-lust, which turns to insta-love for these two, but if you decide to go with it, then it’s not that bad. As a standalone book, (yay for the standalones!) it works. If it had been pulled out over the course of more than one book, it would have grown stale, so I’m glad Erica stuck to one.
Overall, the mystery part to the manuscript was interesting and the romance between the two kids was very cute, with a HEA , which is a nice change of pace. It’s also a rather fast read that I finished in one sitting. If you’re looking for a cute summer read, I’d recommend reading this.
I loved Shiver. Loved, loved, loved it. More than I thought I would. And having read a lot of trilogies over the years, I knew the second book was goiI loved Shiver. Loved, loved, loved it. More than I thought I would. And having read a lot of trilogies over the years, I knew the second book was going to make things worse before it got better in the last book, which is why I held off reading Linger until Forever came out. Because I knew I would not be able to handle whatever cliff Maggie left Sam and Grace hanging on at the end of Linger. And boy, was I right.
Even the summary makes you believe there’s going to be some traumatic ending where everything hangs together by a fraying string. This is why I don’t like trilogies. BUT I liked Linger, largely due to Sam and Grace.
I love them together.
So, let me tell what’s different from this book to Shiver.
First off, you have two new point of views in addition to Sam and Grace’s. Isabel, who you should remember from Shiver as Jack’s sister and who knows the truth about the wolves, and Cole, who is one of the new wolves that Beck brought down from Canada, have their own story that intertwines with Sam and Grace’s throughout the book. Honestly, I wasn’t sure what to make of this difference. I don’t particularly care about anyone else because I only want Sam and Grace. I know that’s an extremely selfish thing to say because I’m sure someone out there cared about Isabel and Cole’s POVs, but I’m not one of them. Sam and Grace only, please.
To be fair, though, they did add a different dynamic which made the overall book a little darker and melodramatic. This appeased my drama loving side, which is the same side that relishes watching The Vampire Diaries and reading about twisted love triangles.
The other difference is that Sam is not a wolf at any time during the book. Which means more Sam & Grace as people time! Yay!
Cole is someone we learn quite a bit about over the course of the book. He’s so different compared to Sam and his story is one that I could not have guessed in a thousand tries. How he plays into the whole thing… I see why Maggie developed him and put his POV in. He is integral to the plot.
The plot being ‘what’s wrong with Grace?’ and ‘where do the wolves (and Sam) go from here now that Beck may not come back?’
The ending. Oh, the ending. I thought I was going to cry. I didn’t want it to happen, but I could see it coming in hints the closer to the end I got. It’s just… ugh. Maggie! Why must you tug on our heartstrings so cruelly? It’s Sam and Grace! They have to be together. Otherwise nothing in this universe makes sense and there is no point to anything.
So, be warned. The ending… I’m so glad I waited until I had Forever, so that I could immediately find out what happened next.
Oh my God, you guys, oh my God. I love Labyrinth, the movie. Have you seen it? Are you a fellow child of the ’80s like me? Then you love it, too. Of cOh my God, you guys, oh my God. I love Labyrinth, the movie. Have you seen it? Are you a fellow child of the ’80s like me? Then you love it, too. Of course you do.
Imagine my shock and amazement when I found out there was a manga series that was considered the official sequel to Labyrinth. And it came out five years ago! FIVE. Why didn’t someone tell me about this?
Well, if you were in the dark like me, this is me telling you about the official sequel. It’s a four-volume series and it’s essential to have all four parts before you begin. I read the first two volumes and then had to wait weeks before I could finish it. *agony* Also, watch the movie before you read these. It helps.
So, the story. Return to Labyrinth focuses on Toby, Sarah’s infant brother. It’s about fifteen years after Labyrinth and Toby’s a lazy teenager. Jareth, the Goblin King, has kept a close eye on Toby throughout his life and had his goblin minions fulfill whatever Toby’s heart desires, grooming him for the day he’ll return to the Labyrinth as heir to the Goblin Kingdom.
There’s so much more going on in these volumes then the synopsis tells you. I don’t want to hype it up too much, though, especially if you’re a newbie to manga. The world is a bit confusing at first, but don’t worry, explanations come along the way. I’ve learned to never base your expectations of a manga series on the first volume. At least read the second because that’s usually when the real plot is revealed.
Honestly, I would have been completely behind them making this a six-volume series. The wrap-up before the ending didn’t answer all of the lingering plot lines. But alas, there were only four volumes, so we must make due.
I liked teenager Toby. He was a bit lazy, having grown up with goblins giving him whatever he wanted his entire life, but he eventually matured a bit. Strife and trials usually do that to a person.
Jareth was yum. Did anyone else have a crush on ’80s David Bowe from the movie? Well, I did. I guess due to legality or infringement or something, the illustrator couldn’t draw an exact likeness of Jennifer Connelly or David Bowe, but it was close. I kind of like this version of Jareth better since he’s not as old. Sorry, David.
And I don’t want to ruin anything, but every time I watch the movie, I want Sarah and Jareth to get together. Every. Time. So I held out hope that maybe now, with her grown-up, this would happen. You’ll have to read them to find out if it does, but let’s just say, I’m happier than I was before.
The illustrations were great. I consider them the best part. Working with an already established world, it must have been hard to keep the art similar to the movie, but Chris Lie did a wonderful job.
This is a great continuation that I really enjoyed and will be featured on my bookcase for a long time. If you’re new to manga and not sure about it, I suggest checking out if your library carries them, or get them through the InterLibrary Loan system.
It’s been almost a year since I first heard about Forbidden. It was released in the United Kingdom last year and a couple copies of the book made itsIt’s been almost a year since I first heard about Forbidden. It was released in the United Kingdom last year and a couple copies of the book made its way over here, but the official US release date wasn’t set until June 28th. I was lucky enough to win an ARC from Goodreads (I love Goodreads), which was the best news EVER because I desperately wanted to read this book.
The first thing you need to know about Forbidden is that it covers a very touchy subject. It’s going to be controversial and when people hear what it’s about, they’re going to argue about their kids reading it, especially since Simon & Schuster is aiming it at teens age 14 and up.
At first, 14 seemed a little young to me to read this book, but then I thought about what I was reading at 14, blushed, and said, ‘To each, his/her own.’ If you think you or your child can handle the material, then go for it. Because honestly, this book was one of the best I’ve read this year. It flew to the top of the charts after I finished it.
So, let’s talk about it, now that I’ve set it up.
Forbidden focuses on 17-year-old Lochan and his sister, 16-year-old Maya. They’ve always felt like partners, rather than siblings, having to raise three younger children while their dead-beat, alcoholic mom neglects them in favor of booze and men. Having that level of stress in their lives brings them close, much closer than normal siblings, to the point where they fall in love. They know their love is wrong and impossible, but they can’t stop.
Do you see now why this book will be controversial? Incest isn’t something brought up very often in YA lit. In fact, the only other books I can think of were between cousins, never brother and sister.
The way Tabitha Suzuma wrote about Lochan and Maya’s feelings for each other, switching between their point of views every couple chapters, was subtle at first. They know it’s wrong, but they love each other too much and they’ve never felt like brother and sister toward each other. They’re best friends and partners in the fight to keep their family together.
I thought the whole thing was done very well. Tabitha draws you into their world and lives, makes you care about them as people and then hits you with their feelings. At no time was I disgusted with Lochan or Maya. I felt frustrated at times because of how hard they fought it, but I understood why they did.
I loved Lochan. Honestly, the entire book could have been written in his point of view and I would not have minded in the least. His struggle was more potent than Maya’s when it came to making me care about their situation. He made this book for me.
I loved this book. I cannot stress how much I loved this book. There isn’t a word yet to describe how much I love this book. By the end, I was sobbing so hard I couldn’t read the words. I had to cry myself out before I could finish and then that just set me back to crying again. Needless to say, it was a very long and emotional night.
I urge you to read it before drawing your own conclusion about the subject matter.
And should Tabitha ever make it over to the US for a book signing, you can bet I’ll be there with multiple copies of Forbidden for her to sign.
Prior to actually getting my greedy little hands on Veronica Roth’s Divergent, I’d been anticipating it for a while. Caitlin was practically salivatinPrior to actually getting my greedy little hands on Veronica Roth’s Divergent, I’d been anticipating it for a while. Caitlin was practically salivating to get her hands on the book, and her desperation was infectious. Then I read the first 100 pages and I was done for. I knew I had to have this book in my hands right. that. second. And guys, it was seriously worth the wait. For reals worth the wait.
There have been a plethora of dystopians lately. And yes, some have been better than others. I think Divergent might be among the best. The thing that made this book pop for me is that it seemed like such a unique concept. Almost all dystopian novels play off one thing: the tie that exists between people. Because they’re young adult, it usually has something to do with love or physical appearance. In a lot of novels (read: Delirium or Uglies) this can really work. But Divergent did something that was really fresh for me: it focused on our inherent personality traits. The book just wasn’t matching people with a job or a family unit or a mate. In fact, no one was really matched at all.
Fundamentally, this book was about making people choose the type of person they wanted to be. Not who or what job or anything else, though there are elements of that, but whether you are selfless or kind or adventurous or smart. And that choice made it fascinating. Even if the tests said, “Kate, you are x,” that doesn’t mean I’m stuck being x. Every character in this book made the ultimate choice for themselves. It didn’t mean it worked out, it didn’t mean they fit, but they got to make the pick. I loved that so, so much. Obviously there would be elements of society that then restrict you – only selfless people can be in government, etc. – but the idea that you take a 16 year old and say “Ok, what kind of person do you want to be?” was amazing.
This choice made reading about Beatrice so much more fascinating. She was weighing the pros and cons of who she wanted to be. More than that, she was realizing that there was something in her she might never have expected. And I loved Beatrice. I think that she is the perfect catalyst for where these books are going (and, as much as I want to, I can’t say more because I will spoil everyone). She wasn’t perfect by any stretch, but she was good at things and the book didn’t shy from that. For me, that was the only thing about this book that really brought Hunger Games comparisons. Only, though, because Katniss had her strengths and her weaknesses and the reader was never asked to see her for anything but who she was. The people watching the games might, but the reader knew Katniss. I knew Beatrice when I read Divergent. Everyone else had an image and an idea of her, of Tris, but I knew who Beatrice really was. It made me connect with her on a whole new level.
The supporting cast was great as well. I loved that in a society where people choose who they think they are, that there were such a broad spectrum of personalities even within one “type.” Some of them broke my heart. Some of them made me smile. And some of them (OMG Four!) made me swoon.
Four. I have to talk about how amazing Four was. Because he was amazing. He was everything I want a male lead to be. He was supportive and helpful, but he recognized other people’s strengths. And he also didn’t hide from or moan about his own weaknesses. Four was borderline perfection.
My only complaint when I was reading Divergent was that Four’s background, which is a big mystery of the novel, felt a little out of place for me. Not that I didn’t love the idea of it and the plotting. But I think there was a tiny hole in the ultimate reveal of that mystery that, again, I can’t talk about here without spoiling the fun. I’ll just suffice it to say that I wish we’d gotten a little more explanation about the nature of the mystery, but I’m hoping next book will help me there.
And…the next book. I need it. Right now. RIGHT NOW! I haven’t been this stoked by a series in a long time. Seriously. If you haven’t read this, please do it now. Even if you don’t like dystopian novels, read this. As good as this book was, I think the sequels are going to be even freaking better and you aren’t going to want to miss out.
In preparation for What Happened to Goodbye, which recently came out, I decided to try to catch up on my Sarah Dessen reading. And this book was classIn preparation for What Happened to Goodbye, which recently came out, I decided to try to catch up on my Sarah Dessen reading. And this book was classic Dessen, which is the biggest compliment I can give a contemporary YA.
I have to admit to not liking Auden at the beginning. She was like a lemming when it came to her mom and so socially awkward that her decisions ranked up there in the “What were you thinking?” department. But she grew on me. In fact, all of the characters grew on me, even Auden’s deadbeat dad. Well… maybe not so much Auden’s dad. But everyone else, yes.
As the summary tells you, Auden’s an insomniac. Since I’ve gone through a bout of insomnia before, I could sort of relate to Auden in this. Finding things to do at 3AM beyond studying, reading or watching mindless bad television is hard to do, especially when you’re stuck in a small town.
From the beginning, Eli was a mystery. I had no idea what to expect from him because Auden didn’t know what to think of him. But toward the end, *sigh*. Eli is ranks up there with perfect boys Sarah Dessen has created.
As with every Dessen book, her characters are what makes the story. They’re both realistic and witty. I want to live in this world and be their friend.
There are several hints at places and things from other Dessen books. And every time I see one, I can’t help writing it down, along with which book it first showed up in. I love being an insider now and knowing almost all (as I’m sure I’m missing some) of the references.
So, overall, another great Dessen book. This makes me excited to read What Happened to Goodbye, although if I keep reading about these perfect guys, I might start being jealous of these fictional girls.
Oh, alright. I’m already jealous of the fictional girls. *sigh*
Awkward cover art aside (the one eye zoom always freaks me out a bit), this is one of my favorite books this year. Rot & Ruin goes beyond the ideaAwkward cover art aside (the one eye zoom always freaks me out a bit), this is one of my favorite books this year. Rot & Ruin goes beyond the idea of “Ahhh! Zombies are trying to kill us!” to take us inside a small community a few years after the ‘end of the world’.
I feel like I’m not going to do a good enough job convincing everyone in the world to read this book, regardless of how you feel about zombies. The reason I feel so strongly about Rot & Ruin is because of how Jonathan Maberry slowly reveals the world in which Benny Imura was raised. Benny’s state of mind when the story begins is vastly different than how he thinks at the end, and the events that lead him there are some of the most riveting and insightful glimpses into post-apocalyptic psyche that I’ve ever seen.
The book is told through Benny. I think that’s another reason why I liked this book. It was written by a guy, which added to the realism of Benny’s voice and thoughts, especially when it came to girls. There’s a great bit in the story between Benny and this girl. Benny’s thoughts during the entire thing had me giggling. He’s so adorable.
There’s so much about the characters and this world that I want to talk about, but at the same time, I don’t want to spoil anything. Like with Tom. Oh, Tom! *sigh*
I will say this, though. Once you start this book, expect to not put it down until you’re finished. I was thoroughly engrossed in Benny’s story after he decided on a vocation, to the point where I forgot to eat dinner. And I need to tell y’all that I teared up a little toward the end. It’s a very emotional story, one that I found to be a bit sad with just a dash of hopeful. There was some closure, but really, so many more questions were raised during the last chapter that I’ve been dying to read Dust & Decay the second after I finished Rot & Ruin.
Overall, I consider this a MUST READ book. The world and the characters make this one of the most thought-provoking and intelligent YA books I’ve ever read.
And since I loved it so much, I contacted Jonathan Maberry and he was gracious enough to answer a few of my questions, which you can read below. (Also, there is a bit of a spoiler in the last question/answer, if you haven’t read Rot & Ruin.)
A few weeks ago, I reviewed Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins for the express purpose of being able to review its follow-up, Demonglass. Only then life, as aA few weeks ago, I reviewed Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins for the express purpose of being able to review its follow-up, Demonglass. Only then life, as always, got annoying (I seriously need a different job. Has legal degree. Will read for food). Now, over two months (fail!) have passed since I read this book, and the more I think about it the more I love it. Demonglass, like Red Glove, was a great book on its own but, more importantly, it was a great sequel and really brought the series forward.
When I reviewed Hex Hall, I said my favorite thing about it was that it was funny, and Demonglass kept that sense of humor. It provided a good break from some of the super serious stuff that was going on in the background. But the thing that struck me most about Demonglass was how much more grown up it seemed. The writing in Hex Hall was good, but it seemed a little young. But really, that was because Sophie seemed so young, brand new to this world and completely unsure of her place in it. In Demonglass, she knows her place. There are still new and crazy things going on around her, but she was more confident and so was her voice. It made the book so much better, too, and really showed her growth. In Hex Hall, everything felt a little frantic, but here Sophie – calmer, more mature Sophie – was more logical about the issues she was facing. That’s not to say she was perfect – she wasn’t. She still had the teenage tendency to assume she can solve problems (even big ones) on her own and to keep the adults out. Granted, it turned out to be quite a good idea in retrospect. But still.
I was also a big fan of the plot in this book, more so than the last. It felt slower, but also a little more ominous. The clues for the ultimate reveal (which I won’t spoil for you) were there, but less obvious than I thought they were in Hex Hall, so the ultimate ending was more exciting. And it was higher stakes as well, which helped.
And of course, Archer. I really liked where Archer’s character went. I liked that it wasn’t easy for him or for Sophie or for anyone who was going to suspect they might be more than Sophie was saying. But…I didn’t like the love triangle implication. Well, more than an implication really. I liked Cal a lot, but it seems so, so unlikely that Sophie would ever want to be with Cal instead of Archer that, well, I don’t know. It was the one thing about this book that really bugged me. Part of me gives it a pass because there were some relationships that were clearly awesome (Hello, Jenna, thank God for you). But it isn’t necessarily compelling when it’s so clear that one of the guys in this triangle is going to be seriously hurt, and in a way it makes me like Sophie less.
Even with that problem (and though the love triangle is there, it isn’t the plot of the book by any means), I still really liked this book. I liked it more than Hex Hall, and it has me salivating for the (as yet unnamed) third installment. This series is fun and funny and well written and exciting, and I want more people to read them.
I’d actually planned to review Demonglass, the sequel to Rachel Hawkins’s Hex Hall today. I was going through, flipping through old reviews so I couldI’d actually planned to review Demonglass, the sequel to Rachel Hawkins’s Hex Hall today. I was going through, flipping through old reviews so I could link to my review of Hex Hall in said review. Then I realized…I did not review Hex Hall. Shame on me! So I’m doing it now. I’m a sucker for books about witches. And warlocks. And magic. And…pretty much anything. I’m also a big freaking sucker for books set in schools for any of the above. That driving force led me to buy Hex Hall, even though the cover made the books seem a little younger than I usually read. And to an extent that’s true, but I still loved this book.
In Hex Hall, Sophie Mercer is being shipped off to Hecate Hall, a school for trouble-making supernatural kids (called Prodigium), after a love spell she was trying to help a sobbing girl out backfires in a big way. At Hecate, Sophie encounters other witches, warlocks, shape-shifters, vampires, werewolves and more. More troubling than that, though, are the family secrets that keep coming up and the general sense of…not-rightness Sophie feels from the school and some of the students.
What I loved most about Hex Hall was that it was funny. I said this when I talked about Paranormalcy, but so many YA books are so dark and angsty and brooding lately, and Sophie was a breath of fresh air. And it wasn’t sarcastic, bitter funny, which there is still plenty of. It was giggle-snort-hee funny. This goes back to my saying that Hex Hall skewed a little younger than I’d normally read, and it did. But I also really didn’t mind, and I think it fit the story so well (plus, Demonglass did not seem younger which OMG SQUEE I will be talking about tomorrow). Sophie seemed young and naïve, which really fits someone in her predicament: she doesn’t really get what she is and what’s going on around her and why her family is so important.
Another reason I loved this book was Archer. He was a likable jerk. Which is hard to pull off. Someone kind of smarmy and a know-it-all who doesn’t seem unnecessarily cruel, which too often the bad-boy heroes do. Not that he was a bad boy. Or maybe he was. But not a really bad boy, if that makes sense? But the best thing about Archer was his chemistry with Sophie, which you could really see. Young adult books have been big on the fated pull sort of thing, and I’ve talked a lot about that in my reviews before. The girl makes eye contact and immediate swoon thing. And Sophie didn’t have that. Maybe we didn’t see a whole lot of the things she and Archer had in common, but you could see why they liked each other and you could see the nose-wrinkle response to more evolution really well.
I wish we had gotten to see the secondary characters more, because I liked them all and they all had an interesting back story. Those things just kind of took a backseat to the plot (which, though sometimes predictable, was well paced and fun and made me want to read the whole thing in one shot, which i did). And that is ultimately ok, because this aspect is one of the biggest improvements in Demonglass.
And…the ending. I loved the ending. I said the plot was sometimes predictable, but not in this regard (and I can’t even tell you what this regard is because that would be spoiling you). It was one of those things that you kind of suspected, that you thought something was up, but never quite put your finger on it. Which is awesome. I like to have the hints to an ending but I don’t want to guess what’s going on until it’s going on. Plus, it made for an exciting cliffhanger, one that really propels you into the second book and propels that second book forward.
Hex Hall is a fun read that I definitely recommend, if for no other reason than it will get you to Demonglass which is even better and more fun.
WARNING: This review does contain spoilers for Tyger, Tyger, the first book in the Goblin Wars series, so if you would like to enter the giveaway andWARNING: This review does contain spoilers for Tyger, Tyger, the first book in the Goblin Wars series, so if you would like to enter the giveaway and haven’t read Tyger, Tyger, then scroll down to the end.
Caitlin: In the Forests of the Nightmay look short, but a lot happened to Teagan, Finn, and Aiden. It starts off with everyone, and I mean everyone, living in the same house. The characters have to deal with the usual problems of living in a crowded house. A man turning into a raven just as a social worker is coming over. Going to school with a fairy living in your hair. The love lives of gorillas. Normal everyday things.So, it’s a bit of a shock when evil, moldering cats show up. Not to mention shadow-y, ghost like things with portents of death!
Christine: It’s important to note that this book starts off exactly where the first one ends. I both liked and didn’t like that. I liked it because it was like a real continuation of the first book, when usually we have to catch up with what happens between the first and second book with summaries and vague references. And I didn’t like it because I’d had to wait for so long between books that I’d forgotten what happened in the first one. Thank goodness we wrote a review about it so I could familiarize myself again.
From the word ‘go’, this continuation never lets up. It’s scene after scene of action, answers and fighting off really gross, sick cats whose guts are coming out of them. (Seriously.) Aiden is still adorable, Teagen is still rational and Finn is… well, Finn.
Caitlin: It is very important to note that Aiden is, indeed, still adorable. I highly enjoyed the dinner he arranged so he could sing something specific. And the fairy living in his hair. He’s just the best.
And I liked how Teagan still had her own ambitions and desires despite all the new people in her life and the new desires that came along with finding who and what she was…and meeting Finn. She was willing to change to fit everything in but she was not willing to give up what she wanted. I liked that about her.
Christine: Me too. Teagan is such a great character. Sure, sometimes she might have hair-brain ideas, but for the most part, she’s able to reason and specify what she wants and what she’s doing. I can easily follow her train of thought, thus I’m able to understand her and empathize when things don’t turn out exactly as planned. I like her.
Now Finn is another matter entirely. He’s rough and always tries to be the hero, which I have a feeling will one day put either him or Teagan in a very precarious situation, most likely one that might lead to one of their deaths. But he’s also unwavering in his devotion and romantic to a fault. I love it when he calls Teagan ‘girl’. It’s so Irish. It makes me want to roll my eyes and grin at his attempt at an endearing pet name.
Caitlin: I really liked when Finn told Teagan he’d protect her and she turned that back around and said she would protect him. I’m not expressing this correctly, but it was a good scene between the two of them. Encapsulating their characters very well. And how dare you imply that one of them isn’t going to make it out of this. That’s just not cool.
Christine: I’m just saying, it’ll probably come down to a choice, or a really intense action sequence that puts either one or both of them in jeopardy. You know it’s going there, too, especially with the changes in Teagan and how that’s going to affect her and Finn’s relationship eventually. As much as they might want to believe it’s all going to be okay, it’ll be an issue that comes up again.
Caitlin: Honestly, the couple I absolutely need to make it out of this in one piece is the gorillas. I was little torn up about what happened to them. I don’t even care if this is weird. I love those gorillas.
Christine: I love the gorillas, too. And even though there was some heavy stuff that went down in this book, Kersten Hamilton still made it a fun read. It was light and enjoyable, and went by faster than I wanted it to.
I really had no idea what to expect when starting this book. I’d heard something about the book featuring a group a of people that were forced to sacrI really had no idea what to expect when starting this book. I’d heard something about the book featuring a group a of people that were forced to sacrifice themselves for people who were about to die. And all I could think was….what? How does that work? Is everyone just going to die? All the time?
I didn’t understand that this group of people come back. Every time. They die in place of random people they come across, and regenerate in three days. So, that was interesting.
Kate and her sister Georgia have just moved to Paris to live with their grandparents after the death of their parents. Kate, understandably, is having trouble adjusting and connecting. She’s closed herself off and doesn’t want anything to do with anyone. Until she spies a mysterious group of strangers, one of them magnetically attractive, and, oh yeah, they save her life in the most surreal way.
This starts a chain reaction of love, mystery, magic, and sacrifice.
Kate is a main character that is easy to sympathize with and Vincent, the attractive stranger, is easy to enjoy. The story was engaging, fun and different. I had a lot fun reading this book. It wasn’t deep or pretentious. It was just a fun story with some good characters and an original backstory.
I’m looking forward to learning more about the Revenants, and all that they’ve seen and done throughout the years. It’s really creepy how they die and regenerate. The author did a good job with that. I’m sure I would have had the same reaction as Kate when she first found out, no matter how good looking Vincent was.
All in all, Die For Me was a fun, engaging story, with good characters, a beautiful Parisian backdrop with a little bit of creepy on the side. What’s not to like?
Also, the cover is gorgeous. I love a gorgeous cover.
Two reviews for this book; one with spoilers and one without.
No Spoilers Review The fourth book of The Mortal Instruments series released yesterday, anTwo reviews for this book; one with spoilers and one without.
No Spoilers Review The fourth book of The Mortal Instruments series released yesterday, and Caitlin and I were chomping at the bit to read it. We got through it in one day so that we could talk about it with y’all! So join us as we discuss what we liked and didn’t like about City of Fallen Angels.
Caitlin: After all this waiting, we finally have it! Clary, Simon, and Jace are back!
Before I can talk about the plot at all, I must bring up the most important thing. The cover. Simon is there in a hoodie, wearing a quiver of arrows on his back. No one uses arrows in this book, and it is specifically mentioned that Simon has stopped wearing hoodies. Who is this man on the cover???
Christine: I hold to the theory that it’s Kyle. Or maybe it’s possibly Luke?
Caitlin: No one used arrows.
Christine: True. This is a grievous error. They need to change this cover immediately since every cover ever used has always matched what the book is about or the characters.
Caitlin: Shush you.
Christine: Mwahahahhaha. It’s an ugly cover. You’re going to have to get used to it.
Let’s talk about the plot now!Vaguely spoilerish like things from here on!
Caitlin: You know what I liked? I liked the amount of making out in this book.
Christine: Me too! This level of making out is the new bar for Cassandra. She can go no lower than the number of make-out scenes included in this book from now on.
Caitlin: There was a very high percentage of making out versus action. And it was all very plot heavy, and not gratuitous. So, it was good for two reasons. And, I’m not going to say who, but you got to see your favorite couple make out and I got to see mine, so all is well for us.
Christine: There weren’t as many action scenes (as in fighting, not physical) as the other books in this series. But honestly, they’ve done the fighting. We’re over the fighting. This book is about the characters we’ve come to love and what’s going on with them after the war in Idris.
And yes, I got to read about my favorite couple making out. Well worth the read just for that, in my opinion. Although the ending! I’m very frustrated with the ending.
Caitlin: I liked it. It was very clear that the story was original planned as a stand alone, so a lot of things were nicely tied up. Then there was that ONE THING that made everything a cliffhanger.
Christine: That one thing is going to be a major story arc for the next two books. I just know it.
Caitlin: Well, I’m hoping it is solved at the beginning of the next book…or at least that one aspect of it is.
Christine: I’ll bet you a billion dollars it’s not. Because otherwise, why even write another two books after this one? It’s going to become a big thing and somehow push apart the two people who should be together, even though one of them is a gigantic moron.
Caitlin: Oh, well, don’t hold your feelings in, Christine.
Christine: It’s glaringly obvious that this person makes moronic choices.
Caitlin: But he’s pretty.
Christine: Pretty does not equal smart. We all know this.
Can I talk about one little thing that I thought was weird for Cassandra to point out?
Christine: It’s bugging me that during the scene in the Silent Brothers’ place, Cassandra makes the character there note a ‘JG’ carved above the bed. It has to have significance.
Caitlin: Oh yes! I’m thinking that character misread the G…it was actually a C and it stands for Jem Carstairs.
Christine: Oh! I didn’t think of that. I figured it was someone related to Tessa, for the G in Gray.
Caitlin: That’s my fall back position. Especially as Cassandra Clare has said that there is a reason Gray and Fray are so similar. So, there is a reason that Jocelyn chose the last name Fray when hiding from the shadowhunters.
Christine: I’m sure all will be revealed… in a couple years when the last book comes out.
Caitlin: I don’t know how I’m going to wait two years. I might go insane for awhile. That’ll make the time go by faster.
Christine: Or you could move in next door to Cassandra, slowly gain her trust and then hypnotize her one night when she’s over for drinks and get her to divulge every little single thing you’ve ever wanted to know about TMI and TID.
Caitlin: It’s difficult to immigrate to the USA, and expensive to live in New York. *Sigh*
Christine: I’m just saying, you have options. Anyway…
Caitlin: Wait! We must revisit our old Will vs. Jem argument. Did you notice how often Will was brought up in this book? And Jem wasn’t mentioned at all?
Christine: I hate you for reminding me of this.
Caitlin: And how they never, not once, actually said he was dead.
Christine: No! I refuse to listen to you right now. I’m literally sticking my fingers in my ears and going ‘la la la la la la’.
Caitlin: But, you’re reading my words. You’d have to stick your fingers in your eyes.
Christine: Fine! I’m sticking my fingers in my eyes.
Caitlin: Point for team Will.
Christine: Regardless of where my fingers are (and you don’t get a point because this doesn’t count!), Tess ends up with Jem because he’s clearly the best choice and Will is a stupid head who dies in a horribly tragic way, which is why no one talks about his death. Because bringing it up is traumatic. The end.
Caitlin: Keep telling yourself that.
Christine: I will. And I hate you for pointing this out to me and I slightly hate Cassandra for doing this to me. I’ll remember this when you’re under my hypnosis one day, Cassandra.
Caitlin: Alright, so, back to City of Fallen Angels, what was your favorite part?
Christine: Hmm. I’m going to say the scene with very few clothes and the ones from Magnus’s POV were a tie. What was yours?
Caitlin: The very few clothes one was very good. I did love all the making out. But, I think, my favourite was when Simon, Jace, and Kyle were all in the same room and had battles of who could be the most sarcastic. Cassandra Clare writes the second best sarcasm of all time.
Christine: Who writes the best sarcasm of all time?
Caitlin: Joss Whedon, of course. No one can beat the master.
Christine: That’s some high praise. She did have a couple good quips in there. There was one thing that Simon said early on in the book that I absolutely loved. It was, “Oh, good. You’re starting to talk about yourself in the third person. That’s not a sign of impending megalomania or anything.” For some reason, I just really liked that.
Caitlin: I recall enjoying that one as well. So, I feel the consensus is that we need the rest of the books now, and drat Cassandra Clare and her relationship drama.
Christine: Yes. We also need Clockwork Prince to see if Jem ever stays with the Silent Brothers and carves his initials into the wall (and how him and Tessa get together and poor Will cries his eyes out because he’s a stupid head).
Caitlin: Or something like that, yes. Clockwork Prince, we are looking ahead to you with hope in our eyes.
Possibly, I should stop talking to books, especially that ones that don’t exist yet.
Christine: But what fun is that?
We had to stop there because it just became ugly when Caitlin brought up Will to me again.
Spoiler Review Kate: So this is exciting, because it’s the first time you and I have been able to talk about City of Fallen Angels.
Katie: Yes, and I nearly died waiting on you to finish it yesterday. Stupid work and having commitments outside of reading our favorite books!
Kate: I know. Being a lawyer is a ridiculous time suck and sometimes I want to quit just because it interferes with my reading. And at times like this, when City of Fallen Angels is FINALLY in my hands? Boohiss.
Katie: I’ve only waited for this FOREVER! I know everyone takes comfort in The Infernal Devices in between The Mortal Instruments, but I think we all know I’m clearly the TMI fanatic and nothing else will ever suffice for me. So now that I’ve got it, and read it, and you’ve read it, I’m about to explode with the need to talk about it. Therefore I’m about to SPOIL the hell out of this book everybody, so don’t ready any farther if you haven’t finished it!
Kate: Because she’s not kidding. There will be SPOILERS galore in this review. Because neither have us has gotten to talk to the other about the SPOILERS.
(view spoiler)[Katie: Alright, they’ve been warned. Now OMG I LOVED THIS BOOK SO HARD!
Kate: ME TOO!
Katie: I think it’s the best thing Cassandra Clare has done to date. Her writing was tighter, the story lines were so closely intertwined and the character growth seemed so subtle but was astronomical when you think about it.
Kate: My reaction last night was pretty much just akljdshfksdfksafhs. And now that I’ve slept on it, I agree with that. It was definitely her strongest book yet. Possibly her best. But you know how I feel about Clockwork Angel.
Katie: Clockwork Schmockwork. Everyone knows TMI is where it’s at. ( I kid, I love everything CC does, but I am blindly in love and ferociously loyal to TMI).
Kate: The thing that impressed me the most was Clary. I was so proud of her in this book. Her growth was what really took City of Fallen Angels to another level for me.
Katie: Well we all know Jace doesn’t handle subjugation well, especially when he’s got such a compelling reason to live and escape. While that cliff hanger was EVIL, I predict that Jace won’t be tied to him long in City of Lost Souls. Between Clary having the Faerie bell, Jace’s own nature, and the weird implications by both the Silent Brothers and the Seelie Queen about the Herondales, I think something will happen that will tie that up quickly.
Kate: So do I. And all of that means that the next book is going to be freaking amazing.
Katie: I was stunned by how she handled things, thought it through and didn’t run off half baked or throwing temper-tantrums. The fact that she didn’t just assume the worst about Jace pulling away and alternatively that when he made stupid excuses she didn’t blindly accept them. She challenged him on it in the way that she should. Her faith in herself, in her Shadowhunter blood, and more importantly her relationship with Jace was phenomenal. I will say there were a few times I thought she acted rashly or less mature, but I felt that those were done for plot conveniences, and were slightly out of character. But we can get into that when we discuss the end.
Kate: I think you picked up on the right sentiment. Because we both know that Jace is the diva in that relationship, and temper tantrums are kind of his thing (and he threw some in this book, for sure). But Clary deals with them so well. He has all of the physical strength in their relationship, but I think she has all the emotional strength. Jocelyn described Jace as vulnerable in this book, and I think that’s right. But Clary? She’s so strong and sure and I love that about her.
Katie: And what’s even cooler is that when she does feel vulnerable, like when the Seelie Queen questions her on whether Jace desires her, or if love is enough, instead of giving into that, even though it echoes her fears, she tells her to shut her face. I love that and I adore the confidence that both Clary and Jace have in the love for one another. Even when he doesn’t think he deserves her, he knows she loves him and he her. It’s like when he was pulling away from her and Simon calls him on it, and Jace gets pissed and says, “Why is everyone god damn asking me if I’m breaking up with her?!” as if it was the stupidest question in the world. It’s such a given that neither one of them will ever want to not be together.
Kate: That’s why, plot insanity included, I feel like these books are going to be a good addition to TMI. I was a little worried because, honestly, Clary and Jace being together was such a driving force in TMI and I just KNEW they were going to get screwed. And maybe they did. But not in a way where I think they’ll ever stop loving each other.
Katie: Exactly. There was like this one eternal truth throughout the book, and while it was sweet I also think it will be a big plot point in resolving stuff, but that was their love. Jace swears on it because it is his one truth. They both define themselves by that love. And everyone around them sees it, like the line about how their love is the kind that could bring cities to ruin or build a whole new world. I’ve never seen a more palpable love between two characters in any book I’ve ever read.
Kate: Growing that love when they were finally allowed to feel it was something so wonderful about COFA. But equally as wonderful and very surprising was the way the relationship between Jace and Simon started to evolve.
Katie: It definitely was fantastic in COFA, and one of the main reasons I don’t mind whatever comes next, no matter how much it might suck for Jace. The results it will have in their relationship will be amazing. And as you said, one of those effects is decidedly the bromance going on between Jace and Simon. Yes it will always be based around their mutual if different types of love for Clary, but I think they’re slowly starting to like and/or respect each other on their own basis.
Kate: I liked Simon in this book a lot. I liked how funny he was, and I liked how different that funny was from Jace. But I also liked that it was maybe a slightly darker funny that we’ve seen and come to expect from Simon. But then again, a lot of this book was darker than we’ve come to expect. The aftermath of Idris left a mark (actual and emotional haha) on every single character. I think Simon bore a lot of the brunt of that. And Jace too. They spent the whole book being stupid and trying to shut everyone else out but their mutual self-loathing and misery tied them together really well.
Katie: And in light of that I think this book was more about Simon and Jace, than Simon and Clary like Cassandra Clare implied. The plot revolved around the struggles these two were facing, and while that all did ante-up to their love of Clary and what that would force them to do, it was also distinctly unique and personal to them. That said, perhaps I should stop talking about how much I love the characters and get on to how much I loved the plot, eh?
Kate: Because…holy hell the plot! I for one really enjoyed it. I thought it was smart and engaging. More importantly, even though there was a cliffhanger of DOOM at the end, we got enough resolution to this villain to make it all ok.
Katie: I just have to say the Mark of Cain is like the coolest ever. And yes, thirteen years of Catholic school does make me partial to Biblical/ Dante’s Inferno/Paradise Lost-esque plots, because I’m a nerd and had to learn all this stuff. But the way it’s so intelligently wound throughout the book and central to the plot was AWESOME. Every time Simon’s Mark laid the sevenfold fury of God onto someone I cheered. It was great plot element and character growth, because a vampire who cannot even say the name of God is also acting as I believe Jace quoted, “Vengeance is mine, sayeth the Lord.” It lets a seemingly damned creature become an arm of God, and how his faith is tested will be incredibly to see. I also loved that at the end of City of Glass, he was persona non grata among the Downworlders, and now every one is chiming to get a piece of him. All the sudden this nerdy boy is being courted by the mother of all demons and he had the power to kill her. All I can say is DAMN!
Kate: I KNOW! And dude. What she wanted him to DO with that power!?
Katie: Seriously! Bringing the demon spawn back? Yikes! I will admit that I’m a bit hesitant to revive old villains, especially because Lilith is the coolest and totally unhinged and I loved having a female big bad. Especially when she’s sparring with Jace and comments that she doesn’t have a male ego, and can’t be roused to fight mano a mano. Her motivations were so different from a male antagonist and I’m going miss that now that psycho D-Bag Sebastian/Jonathan is back.
Kate: But what makes him such a compelling villain is the way he plays off of Jace. Their obvious foiliness is what drove the end of City of Glass. Jace’s fundamental fear is that he’s like Sebastian deep down and now? Watching that go down is going to be epic.
Katie: Well we all know Jace doesn’t handle subjugation well, and especially not when he’s got such a compelling reason to live and escape. While that cliff hanger was EVIL, I predict that Jace won’t be tied to him long in City of Lost Souls. Between Clary having the Faerie bell, Jace’s own nature, and the weird implications by both the Silent Brothers and the Seelie Queen about the Herondales, I think something will happen that will tie that up quickly.
Kate: So do I. And all of that means that City of Lost Souls is going to be freaking amazing.
Katie: Well duh. I think we saw a ton of foreshadowing in this one. All those references to Jace and Clary’s love being this tangible thing, and the strange references and how the Morgenstern ring keeps being a big part of things, and a few mentions of permanent binding runes? I think the Clary/Jace relationship is going to be a huge plot element in the next few books, and not just them getting to make out or not be together but that it might help save the world.
Kate: I agree. And I think that sums up everything pretty well. But…I would feel traitorous not to mention how much I need Clockwork Prince after reading this book because…because…Will!
Katie: Psh. You’re such a traitor for worrying about Will at a time like this! Jace is in peril! I’m going to have to worry about him constantly for the next YEAR! I have no idea how I’ll survive.
Kate: Me either. And also…HE IS WILL! Jace has Clary who can love him and snuggle him and believe in him. Will has no one. Even Jem doesn’t know his secret. I can only hope Magnus proves as good a friend in Clockwork Prince as he was a boyfriend in City of Fallen Angels (had to get a Magnus reference in there somewhere. Though he’s been in our review about as much as he was in the book sobsobsob).
Katie: Yeah yeah yeah. At least you have Will to tide you over in your wait this next year. Now before I start going on about all the other characters I didn’t get to talk about, let’s end this here, and discuss this further in a secret surprise for our readers.
Kate: Oh, yes. I love secrets. So long as I am in the know. Not like, say, Will’s secret. I hate that one.
Katie: Fortunately you and I are in the know, and our readers will just have to wait and find out! In the meantime though, they can comment below and indulge us in an ongoing discussion about the intricacies and awesomeness of City of Fallen Angels to tide them over! (hide spoiler)]
Seventeen-year-old Abby just wants two things: for her sister to wake up, and to get out of Ferrisville. Unfortunately, they’re connected, for as longSeventeen-year-old Abby just wants two things: for her sister to wake up, and to get out of Ferrisville. Unfortunately, they’re connected, for as long as her sister, Tess, is in a coma, Abby feels like she can’t leave.
Abby isn’t a complicated girl. She’s very blunt and very persistent when it comes to things she wants. But she feels she falls short when compared to Tess, and everyone compares them, even if they don’t mean to. There might be some issues she needs to work out about herself and her sister, but for the most part, what you see is what you get. She’s refreshing in a world where a lot of authors write girls as backstabbing, hypocritical players. I’m not saying Abby’s perfect because she’s not, but she does have an unique ability to cut right through the crap and say what she wants to.
And Eli. *sigh* Gorgeous Eli. He’s a puzzle. For someone who is so pretty, he’s not vain about it. He doesn’t act like one of the “beautiful people”. There’s something about him that I don’t want to reveal because it’ll ruin the guessing fun when reading this book, but it’s not hard to figure out if you know the signs. The way Elizabeth portrays Eli, especially his backstory, pulls on the heartstrings. He made me sigh on several occasions because guys like him do not exist in the real world. They just don’t. But I desperately want one.
I want an Eli.
The story itself seems to revolve around Tess, even though she’s unconscious the entire time. Abby’s flashbacks to growing up in Tess’ shadow are the only times we see the person that she was before the accident. And the thing Abby figures out about Tess is somewhat apparent, if you’re looking in the right places. I guessed it around chapter ten, and while I wasn’t right on, it was pretty close to the truth.
Random trivia: I didn’t know this at the time, but Tess and Abby’s parents are featured in Bloom, a book Elizabeth Scott wrote a couple years ago. I don’t remember much about that book, so it probably wouldn’t have done anything for me, but if you haven’t read either, then read Bloom first. It’ll give some background to Abby’s parents and you might see them in a different light.
I would recommend this book to people who have liked an Elizabeth Scott book before, or want a good contemporary young adult read that doesn’t take place in a high school or on the beach (most of the book happens either at the hospital where Tess is or at Abby’s house).
I would like to thank Simon and Schuster for allowing me to read this book early. Between Here and Forever comes out May 24th.
From the synopsis, I was intrigued about this book. If you allowed a group of strangers to decide what you should do, would they do a better job of ruFrom the synopsis, I was intrigued about this book. If you allowed a group of strangers to decide what you should do, would they do a better job of running your life?
I think we as a society do allow some people influence over our decisions, like parents or close friends, but rarely do strangers weigh in on the choices in our lives, besides things like ‘how do these shoes look?’ or ‘did you like that entree?’.
So did they make better decisions for Brooklyn? Well, you’ll have to read the book to find out, but I will say I wouldn’t be surprised if some people take inspiration from this book and make their own ‘Decide For Me’ blogs.
I found Brooklyn to be a typical teen. She was more a follower than a leader in her circle of friends, which happens to the best of us sometimes. It was when she went her own path that the book started getting interesting. Because she does make horrible choices, especially for being only fifteen. There were multiple occasions that I wanted to scream at her, “What are you doing?! You’re FIFTEEN!” I ranted a bit in my notes about how she’s going to end up in a juvenile detention center at the rate she’s going, but alas, it’s a book, so she didn’t hear me.
The boys in this book were interesting. One seemed atypical of most high school boys and the other I wanted to snuggle with. (Rather, my past teenage self wanted to snuggle with him, since that would be weird now with our ten year age difference.) You’ll know what I’m talking about if you read it.
Just to warn y’all, there is mention of underage drinking, smoking and sex. I told you, Brooklyn doesn’t make good decisions.
I found this to be a cute, light read that went by rather quickly. Since it was the first of Jessica Brody’s books I’ve read, I’m making it a point to check out her future books, starting with the sci-fi trilogy series opener called Unremembered (coming out sometime in 2012).
This weekend, while I sat on the couch waiting for my fellow bridesmaids to finish their two hour getting-ready-for-a-night-of-bachelorette-debaucheryThis weekend, while I sat on the couch waiting for my fellow bridesmaids to finish their two hour getting-ready-for-a-night-of-bachelorette-debauchery rituals, I read Graceling by Kristin Cashore. Unlike my fellow YA bloggers, I didn’t love it. I wrote up a whole review and couldn’t decide whether to post it. To distract myself from actually making a decision, I read The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan. I was up until 5am finishing it, and fell so deeply in love with this book that my decision became suddenly easy.
The Forest of Hands and Teeth is like some crazy-awesome combination of The Village (if it hadn’t sucked) and I am Legend (had another 250 years or so passed and had Will Smith not been a badass and saved mankind…again). In the middle of the forest, there is a town run by The Sisters and The Guardians whose purpose is to protect the villagers from the Unconsecrated’s attempts to get closer to the delicious flesh living inside. And, according to The Sisters and The Guardians, the town is all there is. There’s nothing else.
Mary doesn’t believe that. Mary remembers her mother’s stories of the ocean and a time before The Return and The Unconsecreted, and so Mary believes there is more. Mary’s belief in this Outside, this other world, is the book’s real strength. From the beginning of the novel, you fear for Mary and you sympathize with her plight. You feel her frustration at being comfined inside the Forest. You feel her despair as she wonders if she’ll ever have a life instead of just living one that’s been decided for her. You feel her agony as the dreams she’s clung to seem to slip from her fingers. And, more than that, you feel the flashes of hope and joy she is given through her painful struggle to chase down what she wants (even if it means dying for a chance to achieve it).
More than just feeling Mary, you feel the suspense of the novel. Ryan has created a secondary cast that is well-rounded and likeable while at the same time staying mysterious, for you’ll only know them as well as Mary does and the town seems built on secrets. You find yourself caring for each of them. Jed, Mary’s stubborn brother whom I spent the beginning of the novel wanting to punch in the face. Harry and Travis, the two brothers – one of whom Mary loves and one to whom she is supposed to be betrothed. Cass, Mary’s best friend, intricately tied with the two brothers as well. Even Argos, Mary’s valiant dog.
Maybe it was just that it was 3am as I plowed through the plot of the novel. Maybe it was the fact that the branches on the tree outside my window brush against it with a horrifyingly slow screeching noise when the tiniest wind blows through. Maybe it was the fact that I’m still a little freaked out by dark and quiet. Or maybe this book just created a suspense the likes of which I’ve never felt. All I know is that my pulse raced and I feared as I plowed through the pages. I genuinely worried for each of the above characters. I feared who would die, if anyone. I picked the character I thought I could stand to lose only to turn the page and have to change my mind. I felt like I was Mary, and being Mary was intense.
The book wasn’t absolute perfection. At times, I found the love story confusing and frustrating. And, at times, Mary’s headstrong desire to find what else is out there.
This week I want to talk about Gone, by Michael Grant. If you’re like me and not at all ashamed of judging a book by the cover, please, don’t do so heThis week I want to talk about Gone, by Michael Grant. If you’re like me and not at all ashamed of judging a book by the cover, please, don’t do so here. I almost did (because let’s face it, this cover is crap), and I’m so glad now that I looked for its inner beauty.
The first thing that readers need to know about Gone is that, though it is classified as a YA novel and centers around young adults, it is written by an author whose primary focus up to this point has been children’s literature, specifically the Animorphs books. This means that the book can at times feel younger than their target audience.
In Gone, fourteen year old Sam is sitting in class one day when POOF, everyone over the age of fifteen disappears. There’s no explanation, no reason that anyone can figure, and absolutely no warning. Worse still is that anyone left disappears once they too turn fifteen. Left behind are a group of children, some of whom have begun to develop strange abilities, who must suddenly fend for themselves.
The problem is, with the disappearance of the adults came a new threat – and not just the Lord of the Flies-esque power struggle among the remaining children. All around the California town that provides the novel’s setting, a strange , impenetrable wall of energy has appeared – a wall that traps them where they are and prevents any outside assistance.
The real strength of Gone is the plotting of the mystery and the action. The true genius about the way the book is set up – and the thing that really made me feel the tension that was building the most – was that the chapter titles are a countdown. This is a major unifying element in a book that explores multiple points of view. Every time I turned the page to a new chapter and saw that time had barely moved or that a big jump had happened, I’d feel that little tightness in my stomach and that urge to read on and find out what the hell was being counted down to.
The multiple points of view in the book could have ruined it. I myself tend to hate multiple points of view because, for me, it spoils the mystery of what the other characters are thinking. However, Grant has handled the issue intelligently. Technically, the book is third person, so these jumps between characters seem less jarring. Mostly, though, the points of view all highlight very different aspects of the novel’s plot.
The villain and his compatriots are obvious from the beginning, which was something I wish had been hidden a little more and drawn out a little longer. As this is the first in a series, the ultimate climax is not any kind of resolution or explanation about what’s happened, but rather a showdown between the hero and his counterpart. This was one portion of the book that could have been more tightly packed with action. Unfortunately, the villain was not as well drawn as the good guys, which made it harder to feel anything about what he was trying to do or who he was.
My favorite thing about the book was Sam. Sam emerges as the leader in the Fayz (the Fallout Alley Youth Zone inside the dome) early through both his fairness and his heroism. But what makes Sam special is that Sam doesn’t want this. Sam wants to figure out what the hell is going on with his body and what it means. He wants his mother back. He wants to figure out what’s going on and how to fix it to get everyone’s old lives back. And he wants to figure out if Astrid, the crazy smart girl he’s had a thing for, has a thing for him. (Yeah, there is some romance, but it’s not the focus.)
The biggest problem with Gone stems from Grant’s background as a children’s author. The major difference that I’ve noticed between these two genres is that in one you have to explain all the messed up things going on and in one you don’t. Grant has tons of really crazy things – flying snakes, talking wolves, special powers – without ever really explaining them. It’s only the first book in what will ultimately be a series (the sequel is out, but I’m waiting for paperback so it’ll match the first book because I’m OCD that way), but at times, as an adult reader, you can’t help cocking your head and thinking “Flying snakes? Really?”
The younger voice of the book also can make things predictable. While you can’t quite figure out what’s going on, you can figure out the small things. You can call the villain almost immediately. You can tell what’s going to happen between the characters early. And the problems the teens are facing privately sometimes seem clichéd (a character has an eating disorder, there is the stereotypical bully, the typical jealous best friend etc.).
Overall, Gone makes for a good, suspenseful read that kept me interested through all 558 pages. It certainly contains bizarre elements (see: flying snakes), but, much like The Last Apprentice series, the pages seem to fly by and the simplicity of the writing works well to complement the mystery of the plot. I’ll definitely read the sequel.
Never Slow Dance With a Zombie. I mean, come on. How could I not want to read a book with a title like that!? I dare you to read the title and not sneNever Slow Dance With a Zombie. I mean, come on. How could I not want to read a book with a title like that!? I dare you to read the title and not snerk just a little bit. And the cover (see right) is pretty! I’ll fully admit that I bought this book because of the title, the cover, and the fact that the zombies were, GASP, gross. (No, I’m not still bitter about Generation Dead being such a letdown. Why do you ask?).
The book, written by E. Van Lowe, tells the story of Margot Jean Johnson, intrepid high school junior who, like all geeky high school junior girls, desperately wants to be cool. She’s finally given her chance when, with no explanation and completely out of the blue, every student in the school shows up as a zombie. And these are proper zombies, complete with flesh eating urges, crumbling/decomposing bodies, grotesque smells of funk, and weird, green pallor. Suddenly, Margot is chair of the Homecoming Committee, the Prom Committee, the Christmas Festival Committee, and the Caroling Committee…all of it. Her arch nemesis, Amanda Culpepper and former It Girl of Salesian High, is stuck scrounging for raw meat. As a result, Margot, along with her best friend, Sybil, decides this will be her best semester ever.
I loved this book. So much. It was real, the voice was relatable (and appropriately obnoxious), and, most of all, it was smart. This is a smart book. As I was reading I was reminded, strongly, of Kafka. Specifically The Metamorphosis. Except instead of Margot waking up and suddenly discovering she’s a bug, everyone else is the bug. Margot has become Gregor’s sister, the one really being tested.
The rest of the students are zombies and this means that Margot is officially the coolest girl in school, so the question is: is being popular worth it? Despite being the coolest girl in school, Margot still has to go along with the pack. She can’t show originality. She can’t be unique. She can’t show any individuality lest she be eaten by her classmates. Literally. But Margot doesn’t care. She’s living her fantasy high school experience.
This is another real strength of this book. Margot is incredibly relatable. She’s not a delicate snowflake who doesn’t realize that she looks like a supermodel…she’s a real girl who, while not ugly, isn’t gorgeous either. But she’s quirky. She’s hysterical. And you can’t help but root for her. Being Margot in high school (and let’s face it, most people are), is hard. High School teaches you that you want to be with the in-crowd. You want to be the person people like. Even if you know it’s ridiculous and even if you know that the people who are the It Crowd maybe kind of suck.
That said, Margot is so real and so relatable that you can’t help but find her annoying. I’ve been through that awful seventeen year old girl stage, and I was a twit during it. But I grew up and got past that, and so I couldn’t help wanting to grab Margot by the shoulders and shake some sense into her. Knowing the things Margot struggles to figure out can make her seem petty and weak and just plain stupid. But as Margot starts to get a clue, you remember that moment when you realized how ridiculous you used to be, and your fondness for her only grows. You feel sorry for her as you see just how pathetic she is at her lowest point, and that just makes you root for her even harder.
As I began reading, I was disappointed at the cut-out-esque qualities of the “villains” in the social structure. You have the beautiful blonde who doesn’t care about anyone but herself and lives to make other people miserable so she can feel cool. But the more I thought about it, the more I liked this portrayal of the villain. That’s what high school is like. The mean girls are almost always petty and superficial and just that…mean. But that’s what they’re like in school and that’s what people see. That doesn’t mean that’s all there is to them, something Margot will learn for herself.
The genius of the book was the characterization of the good guys. Margot. Sybil, her eccentric and adorable best friend. Baron, the boy who is crazy in love with Margot and not afraid to show it. And Milton, the boy version of Margot.
The biggest weakness of this book was the ending. Not that the ending wasn’t great, because it was. but because it felt rushed. This was one of the shortest YA books I’ve read in a while, and I think it could have benefitted from another 25-50 pages. The action at the end is intense, but there isn’t a lot of time to come down from it and I would have liked that. It wasn’t a set-up for a sequel, either (though I’d love to read more about Margot, even without the zombies), so it was a little bit frustrating to know that there was no more.
My only other quibble was that, despite Margot seeming so relatable, there were a few instances when I felt like she was a little older than she should be…places where the author maybe peeked through the prose to say hi. Still, these were few and I was so busy giggling at what Margot said/did next that I didn’t care.
Overall, I highly recommend this book. It’s funny and smart and does a great job at poking fun of what YA literature has been reduced to lately. There are twists and turns and actual plot to go along with Margot’s personal struggle, and I couldn’t put it down until complete.
I just finished reading Fire by Kristin Cashore, the sequel to Graceling and I loved it.
I found upon first starting the book that I had a fear I was uI just finished reading Fire by Kristin Cashore, the sequel to Graceling and I loved it.
I found upon first starting the book that I had a fear I was unaware of. I was afraid Cashore would write Fire as a carbon copy of Katsa. I could even see where the appeal would be. Katsa was a strong young woman determined to take control of her life. Who wouldn’t want to write about a character like that?
But I, thankfully, found Fire to be very different from Katsa. She already was in control of her life, or as much of it as she could be, as much as anyone is in control of their lives. And her struggle wasn’t about being strong, and surviving. Fire’s struggle was much more about trust and friendship. About opening herself up to people.
The book starts out with Fire living on an estate she inherited from her father in a kingdom called the Dells. Her father was a monster. Literally. In the Dells creatures and humans are sometimes born with extraordinary beauty. Their hair or feathers glinting in vibrant colours and the very sight of them causing people to stop and stare in wonder. These creatures are called monsters. Fire’s father was one, and so is Fire.
Her beauty is such that she has hidden away every mirror in her home because she thinks it is ridiculous that she herself is made breathless by the vision of her beauty. Men and woman follow her around, or attack her, or attack each other with her beauty as motivation.
Soon into the story we meet the King of the Dells and his brother, Prince Brigan who is also commander of the Dellian armies. And Fire is whisked away to the capitol for she can provide a service no one else can. As a monster she has the ability to reach out to the minds of others and manipulate them. And as the country is on the brink of war, her skills are greatly needed.
I really liked that Fire grappled with this decision and wouldn’t be bullied into manipulating minds. Her father, who relished causing pain in others and enjoyed using his ability, had taught her to be cautious and careful with her powers. She did not want to be corrupted by them. And as the story goes on and Fire begins to trust more and more people, she also begins to trust herself.
Her journey of self-discovery was fluid and enjoyable. Nothing about Fire felt out of place for her character and I ached for some of the sacrifices she made. Her relationships with Archer and Prince Brigan worked well as foils, as did the characters themselves, and I, once again, appreciated the against the norm take on romance Kristin takes in her books. There are many royal and noble characters who have sex outside of being married and are not censured for it more than anyone would be today. That is, they are expected to be responsible about it. And nothing bad happens to anyone in response to having sex to young, as a lot of entertainment aimed at teenagers likes to do. Although, it is arguable that one character was offed after having too much irresponsibly sex. But I really don’t think that is why that character died.
The one thing I thought was weird about the book was the inclusion of Leck. It wasn’t necessarily a bad inclusion, in fact I enjoyed the seeing into his mind as much as we did, but he seemed out of place in the story. Leck’s presence would only really matter to someone who had read Graceling and Fire is being marketed as a book that can stand on its own. One can tell Leck has the makings of a main villain and to only be used as a distraction and an out of place threat feels weird in the story.
But, as I said, I was glad to learn more of him. He was creepy and evil from his first moments and truly sent a shiver down my spine.
All in all, a fantastic book. I’m always so glad when sequels (or prequels as the case may be) live up to the original books. And Fire certainly did.
I’ve mentioned here my tendency to judge a book by its cover. It’s bad, I know. I’ve also mentioned my tendency to pick books by their titles (Never SI’ve mentioned here my tendency to judge a book by its cover. It’s bad, I know. I’ve also mentioned my tendency to pick books by their titles (Never Slow Dance with a Zombie…come on, you HAVE to read a book with that title). And I find most books I’m judging by these standards on the new teen release shelf at Barnes and Noble. Last week, I was perusing and came across The Maze Runner, by James Dashner. The cover looked cool, but it was the title that grabbed me. I love mazes – Halloween is awesome just for corn field ones. So I bought the book and read it last night. All of it.
Maze Runner opens with Thomas standing in a box. He can’t remember anything but his name, and he has no idea how he got there. From this box, he is pulled into the world of The Glade. There, at the center of a large, always changing maze, a collection of boys (all of whom appeared mysteriously just like Thomas), have formed a society with their own jobs and tasks and rules. The number one rule: Don’t Go Into The Maze. Because waiting out there in the ivy covered walls are Grivers, strange, robotic slug like creatures whose sole purpose is to kill Gladers.
When I reviewed Michael Grant’s Gone a few weeks ago, I talked about how much I loved a book that was built around plot and a character rather than a romance. That was one of my favorite things about this book. It was nice to again see a character who had a romantic inclination, but it wasn’t the sole purpose or function of his life. Maze Runner actually has a lot of similarities with Gone. It’s another sort of dystopian, Lord of the Flies on speed set up, with no discernible way out of this prison that the characters live in. But Maze Runner is Gone two years down the road, once order had been established. It shows that with determination and grit, kids will band together and do what it takes to survive. And it is Gone without the sometimes children’s lit feel.
Talking about the characters in this novel is hard for me, because I loved all of them. I loved Thomas. I loved Teresa, even if she was more of a presence than anything else. I love, love, loved Newt and Alby and Minchoo and oh God did I love Chuck. I even loved Gally, the semi-villain of the novel’s beginning. I loved how different each of these characters was while still having a sort of root strength inside of them. I loved how they were all tied together so well despite being so different. And I especially loved how Gally was genuinely messed up. He had a very real trauma and very real suspicions, and watching his mental deterioration was almost heartbreaking even as he was being a total ass.
One of my favorite things about this book, though, was that the setting became a character in itself. The Maze is tricky and dangerous. The walls move, there are terrifying beasts and dangers within, and it seems to be mocking its captives throughout the novel. And…it offers no way out except over a cliff. More than the maze, though, are the creators of the maze. These creators are a total unknown to the characters, but you get a sense of who they are and what kind of things they’ve done and you get a sense of unease with them while still wondering if maybe all isn’t quite as it seems.
I’ve talked a lot about how important suspense is in a plot-driven novel, and Dashner doesn’t disappoint. There are so many clues dropped throughout the novel – little hints, tiny snippets of conversation that turn out to be so important for the later puzzle. Again, as a novel targeted toward young adults, there is a certain amount of predictability in this, especially when Thomas is trying to remind you that something has been mentioned before, even if he can’t remember what it is. But the mystery was still enough that things slipped past my notice, and at the novels conclusion, I had no idea what was going to be happening next.
The ending of the novel was perfect. Maze Runner is the first of a trilogy, but the ending still felt like an ending. The epilogue set up the sequel brilliantly, establishing a whole new level of suspense without feeling like a cliffhanger. And it went so fast. When I first read it, I thought it was too fast. But, having gone back and looked at how long the ending actually is, I just realized that it felt fast. It felt intense, and I really liked that.
Maze Runner was another smart book. It took the idea of kids trapped and took it to another level – it let them actually take care of themselves. They didn’t degenerate into pig hunters or junk food eating disasters. These kids are survivors, and I loved that more than anything. Even when total panic would be the default, there was always someone around to keep control and help others stay sane. And this ability was admired and rewarded. Hard work was rewarded too, as was skill. It’s good to see such examples for the actual young adults reading this book. Hell, I felt like a lazy bum reading about the hard work these kids did on a day to day basis.
I highly recommend The Maze Runner to all of you for a good, suspenseful, and thrilling read. I’m eagerly anticipating the next two books.