And yet another greatly-reviewed book that I couldn't love, or, as it is the case with this one, even tolerate. Dystopias lately have turned into a formula, and it repeats itself novel after novel. I don't think I was wrong to think Renegade would be different, and in some aspects it was, but, when it came down to it, this novel suffered from some of the major flaws that most dystopias suffer these days.
The whole concept of the underwater Utopia had me from the start. As a fan of Bioshock, my mind made the immediate connection and through the first chapters, as the whole world unfurled, I was mystified. Sounders did a pretty good job in the physical construction of this world. Where it failed was in the backstory, but I'll get to that. Those first chapters kicked the novel off with a bang. It was incredibly engaging at first, and it managed the concept of the dystopia extremely well and it also began to establish a very formidable and convincing antagonist. But then it all went downhill after that.
This novel is not short on action, suspense and intrigue, and it is also nicely written, but there were some very important key factors that ruined it. First off, the romance. It was of the insta-love variety, - no, of the really hardcore insta-love variety. Two days and she was in love. Two conversations and she was risking her life for him. I had a really hard time connecting that Evie to the one from the very first chapters. The entire narration changed inexplicably when Gavin came in, and the entire plot lost its coherence. A lot started to surface after that, a lot more than the plot could handle at such speed. Genetic modification, selective memory erasing, secret trainings; it all came too fast for the character of Evie to accommodate it into believable character development and the whole character fell shortly after that. Her behavior was inconsistent, her development erratic, and the romance was unbelievable, chemistry-less and even slightly irritating.
My biggest problems with this novel are the lack of world-building and the convenient plot-devices strewn all over the story to make the convoluted plot progress when it couldn't on its own. The world-building in this story is nothing short of terrible and incredibly inconsistent. We get a short explanation for this underwater Utopia's existent, but the novel barely touches on that again or on the history of the world outside that lead to this, and when it does, it is not convincing in the slightest. Furthermore, Evie's entire world was full of unexplainable technological inconsistencies that I had a hard time reading about. I'm supposed to believe that they are so technologically advanced that they can manage genetic modification, selective memory erasing, even freaking healing wands and yet there's flat screen TVs and normal looking computers about? That there are security devices that identify DNA and yet they have an interrogation room that has just one camera without sound recording? The list goes on and on, with inconsistencies that stretch into language comprehension (Evie somehow couldn't understand the use in slang of some words, like hot and suck, but she knew others like sexy), and cultural (supposedly the world rejected religion, but there were several mentions of it).
Moreover, the convenient plot-devices were equally frustrating. Every time the plot hit a stop, one of two things would happen: Evie would either listen to another person's conversation which would be conveniently focused on the information that she needed right that moment, or she would find a journal that would be extremely specific in its entries with the information that would lead Evie to realize the purpose of one area in the dome, the role of one person or what was happening with her. These happen several times in the novel and it got cheesier and more and more cliched each time.
This novel was a very good idea with a mediocre execution. It started okay, but it progressed forcefully using terrible and cliched devices while carrying a heavier load that it could bear to hold. Bad romance, underdeveloped characters, terrible world-building and frustrating inconsistencies, Renegade is a novel that had the potential to be great, but, in the end, simply failed to live up to it.
----------------------------------------------------------------------- After Reading Impressions:
There's no nice way to say this, so I'll just go out and say that I am extremely disappointed with this book.
Renegade has one of the most interesting concepts I've read about in a while. An underwater dystopia? Genetic modification, advanced technology and kickass women? It simply sounds amazing. And then the reviews! Most of the reviewers I trust have loved this one. Obviously, I went into it expecting my mind to be blown with the sheer awesomeness that this book was supposed to be.
I won't say it is terrible because that would be a lie. It is not badly-written or terribly-plotted or even boring. It packs a lot of tension and action, as a matter of fact, and the the novel managed the concept of a dystopia extremely well.
But then there's the inconsistencies with the world-building and plot-points, the irregularities with the technology (DNA detection cameras, but no sound in the cameras in the interrogation room / selective memory erasing and magic healing wands but common-day computers and flat screens TVs / incompetent guards that fail to actually guard anything and are easily fooled by a sixteen-year old girl) and lapses in knowledge in the characters (she knows what sexy means but not hot), the super insta-love (two days, two conversations and she decided she wanted to couple with him), the predictability and the convenient plot points. Needed to understand what was going on? Evie just pressed her ear to a door, listened to a conversation and got all the information she needed, which happens several times throughout the novel. And then there's the cheesiest and most cliched of the convenient bridges between plots: the tell-all and extremely specific journals that everybody seems to be leaving lying around for others to find with detailed entries with every type of back-story knowledge or explanation the protagonist might need.
I am extremely pissed with this book because I was honestly expecting this to be amazing, and the worst part is that it had the tools to be just that. ...more
Days of Blood and Starlight is nothing like Daughter of Smoke and Bone. There's no space for romance here, or for happiness for that matter. This bookDays of Blood and Starlight is nothing like Daughter of Smoke and Bone. There's no space for romance here, or for happiness for that matter. This book is bleak and painful and somewhat akin to torture in the form of endless heartache. But it is so achingly beautiful. As usual, Taylor's writing is impeccable; her prose is gorgeous in its delicate simplicity, and the pace of the story is perfect. I was prepared for a lack of KarouxAkiva-ness, and I thought that would ultimately hurt my impression of the book, but I ended up absolutely loving the path Taylor took with this book.
If there is something I dislike about books where the fate of the world is at stake, is that you never actually get to experience just how truly screwed up everything is and how much the effort of the protagonists is actually needed. Well, this is certainly not the case with Days of Blood and Starlight. Every page of this book drives home the point of how truly terrible the situation is, how devastating war is and just how much sacrifice is demanded out of those involved. This book expertly built Eretz into a reality, giving the story a lot more depth and making the situation a hell of a lot more complicated and dire. Not many authors choose to do this, - truly building their worlds and giving depth to their plots, never mind dedicating an entire book to it -, because they bet on one-track-minded readers that care only about the romance and will spend their money on their books without complaint if the authors deliver just that. I respect Taylor so, so much for, not only refusing to insult her reader's intelligence by taking that path, but also for proving she is undoubtedly one of the best YA authors right now and for showing that she actually cares for and respects her own work.
Days of Blood and Starlight is a gorgeously crafted sequel, dedicated to the expanding of the world we barely glimpse in Daughter of Smoke and Bone. The inclusion of many characters worked marvelously in favor of the story, and Taylor has masterfully placed her characters in difficult paths that will lead and have led to amazing character development.
Yes, the book is sad. Yes, I understand why some people may not like it as much as the first one, but really, this book is nothing short of fantastic, truly phenomenal and a true testament to Taylor's amazing ability as an author.
Now that my coherent fangirling is over, I will let my other severely-less coherent fangirling side shine through for a moment: NOW WHERE'S THE NEXT ONE?! I NEEDZ IT NOW! I CAN'T WAIT A WHOLE OTHER YEAR FOR THIS! YOU HAZ KILLED ME TAYLOR! ...more