Kristen Cashore’s debut novel, for want of a more eloquent description, made me happy. As a girl who grew up reading Alanna and Obernewtyn, Katsa feltKristen Cashore’s debut novel, for want of a more eloquent description, made me happy. As a girl who grew up reading Alanna and Obernewtyn, Katsa felt like an old friend. Feeling trapped in her home because of a Grace she didn’t ask for, Katsa’s journey (gosh I hate that word, ‘journey’)is as much about realising that she has control over her own actions than any of the plot itself. I’ve read a few reviews commenting on the general anti-male characteristics of the book, and looking back, I laugh at how true that is. Yet Cashore does present male character’s whom Katsa is able to form friendships with, such as her cousin Raffin, the ever beautiful Graceling Prince Po, and various others along the way.
I adored Cashore’s new take on the magic/gift theme. Grace’s allowed the novel to be fantastical, without feeling like Hogwarts or Edward Cullen was only around the corner – as so many YA Fantasy novels do these days.
Yes, it was mostly predictable (including the romance). Yes, it is just another take on the ‘I’m a girl and I just happen to have more power than just about anyone else in the world’ fantasy novel. Yes, the behaviour of the 10-year old seemed increasingly implausible. BUT, after the first three chapters, I couldn’t put it down. I laughed at Katsa’s social awkwardness, and I went all gooey at Po’s suave seduction.
Take it for what it is, a great new book in its genre from an author with exciting potential! I definitely recommend it, and am excited to read the companion book, Fire.
Lisa T Bergren, you have written a story that I couldn't put down, that stayed in my head for weeks afterwards, and made me desperate for the sequel (Lisa T Bergren, you have written a story that I couldn't put down, that stayed in my head for weeks afterwards, and made me desperate for the sequel (I pushed 'place order' on Book Depository within minutes of finishing Waterfall).
The premise itself was enough to get me excited - an ordinary teenager is sent back to 14th century Italy, gets caught in the battle between Siena and Florence and finds herself falling in love with a Lord who is betrothed to someone else.
Many Young Adult novels these days focus on the paranormal, fantasy worlds, creatures and boyfriends, and it's been a while since I've encountered straight time travel. The Guardians of Time trilogy is one of my favourite YA series, and this felt like the non-magic, non-fantasy version of that - which is great!
Gabriella's accidental journey into the past takes a very different turn to her sisters, Evangelia. Her reaction to finding herself surrounded by soldiers and castles? Try to blend in at all costs! I'd love to think that I'd have the courage and foresight to do the same (next time I happen across a time vortex in an Etruscan tomb). Having always felt like she didn't quite fit in in the 21st Century, Gabi has the enviable chance of starting over - and yet still has to deal with the bitchy "queen-bee" along with the whole Paratore house out to kill her and her new Italian friends. Oh, and Marcello?
Bergren's realistic approach to what life might have been like in the 14th Century is what really makes this book incredible. There is an attention to detail that brings life to Gabi, Lia, Marcello and Luca that is so often missing in YA novels.
With an ending that will have you grasping for the sequel (which I just started reading!), Waterfall is a book that just has to be read - there's really nothing else to say!
A definite 4.5, but I'll say 5 so more people pick it up - it's certainly a must read!
I devoured all 496 pages in one plane trip. I do NOT do that wiA definite 4.5, but I'll say 5 so more people pick it up - it's certainly a must read!
I devoured all 496 pages in one plane trip. I do NOT do that with a book that isn't something special. I couldn't even if I tried.
Distopian seem to be the new vampire. Once I pushed through the first couple of chapters, I really fell for Tris' desire to prover herself to herself. Ultimately, it felt like as much as she ended up proving to others' that she belonged with the Dauntless (or rather, not in Abnegation), she was really proving to herself that she could be more than she had previously allowed herself to be.
The concept of choosing one main personality/character trait for life is an interesting one. It makes me wonder whether or not we are capable of doing such a thing, and in our world of 'you can be whoever you choose to be' and political correctness, do we flounder in our freedom to be too many things at once?
Roth's portrayal of human interactions and relationships felt right on track. The differing personalities (and backgrounds) of the new transfers in Dauntless, and the way they act in their new world and around each other, are brilliantly done and interpreted wonderfully through Tris' perspective. Four's openness to reveal his greatest fears and vulnerability to share them with Tris, nearly broke my heart it was so beautiful. Perhaps my favourite moment of unexpected humanity (in a setting where it is easy to forget these characters' humanity) is when Four gets drunk. It reminded me so much of a moment that could have happened between Tris and Four if the book were set in a different time and different place - a world more like our own.
Which brings me to the key of what I love in a successful distopian story - the idea that humanity is humanity, regardless of what circumstances they exist in.
Naturally, a debut novel will contain the occasional twitch or plot flaw that will remind you that it isn't actually perfect, but they were just little things that jumped out at me while reading and I can't recall any of them now. The only thing I still roll my eyes at just a little is the mildly cliche twist at the end (must not spoil mini-twist!). Okay, so maybe not a cliche, but it was the only part that frustrated me. Yet I loved the naturally necessary "boy ends up with girl" and as much of a "good triumphs" ending that a first-in-a-series can have.