I read The Opposite of Life (the first from this series) back in 2008 and thoroughly enjoyed its wit, originality and unexpected poignancy, s...more4.5 stars
I read The Opposite of Life (the first from this series) back in 2008 and thoroughly enjoyed its wit, originality and unexpected poignancy, so it was fun to get reacquainted with librarian Lissa and her very uncool (but lovable) vampire buddy Gary.
In The Opposite of Life, Lissa considers becoming a vampire to avoid the pain of losing people close to her. But she has a change of heart when she befriends Gary and understands there's more to being alive than having a heartbeat.
This time around, Lissa is drawn further into Melbourne's vampire underworld - not because she's a bad ass, but because she wants to protect Gary (the first of many wonderful ironies). Someone is hunting vampires and Gary's on the hit list, despite the fact he doesn't bite people or drink blood. (In this original mythology, vampires don't need human blood to survive, it simply enables them to feel alive.)
This sets the scene for a fast-paced thriller. There are still themes of death, grief and consequences of choices, but these are balanced by moments where simple joys in life are celebrated and relished. I really enjoyed the deepening friendship between Lissa and Gary - theirs is a unique relationship in the world of vamp-based stories.
Narrelle M. Harris clearly loves her home city of Melbourne (the good, the bad and the ugly) with Walking Shadows paying homage to its inner city and sub-cultures.
Walking Shadows is laced with wit, snappy dialogue and plenty of action as Lissa and Gary inadvertently keep having run-ins with vampire hunters and not-so-friendly vamps.
This is a great read and I look forward to more in this series. (And how can I not love a book that has rum baba in it?) (less)
This is a tense, fast-paced and satisfying conclusions to one of the most original YA series I’ve ever read.
There are answers to all the big questions...moreThis is a tense, fast-paced and satisfying conclusions to one of the most original YA series I’ve ever read.
There are answers to all the big questions, not to mention plenty of tension, action, and intrigue.
The ending is open enough for readers to form their own conclusions – or for Marianne to return to this world down the track (which, personally, I hope she does).
Burn Bright sets up the dark and dangerous world of party island Ixion, where all is not as it seems. The young people who flee to it from their oppressive societies revel in their new found freedom, but as Retra/Naif discovers, there’s a price for that freedom.
We learn more about the nature of that price – and the relationship between Ixion and Naif’s home of Grave – in Angel Arias, which ups the stakes and the tension.
In Shine Light, Naif returns to Ixion in the hope of saving her brother and her friends, and changing the dark world forever.
Even when she was still the uncertain Retra in Burn Bright, Naif was strong and determined. Now, she embraces her role as an unlikely leader – and the responsibilities that go with it.
I must confess, I missed Lenoir in Angel Arias, so was looking forward to meeting him again in Shine Bright. I wasn’t disappointed. (Yeah, okay, his reunion with Naif – as complicated and short as it was – was definitely a highlight.)
Their relationship continues to grow and change, just as the relationship between the island’s inhabitants – party-goers, Ripers, Night Creatures and uthers – shifts irrevocably.
There’s not just tension between the groups, but within them as well, with the Ripers fragmented and the humans still split between those willing to hear the truth and those intent on partying. And we learn more about the uthers and their relationship with the Ripers.
This all sets the scene for a highly-charged showdown between the rebelling humans and the seditious Ripers (with the terrifying Night Creatures swarming close by in the darkness).
Readers have discussed whether the Night Creatures series is paranormal, dystopian or science fiction, many settling on a combination of all three. I think it sits comfortably as science fiction, and it’s given a new taste for the genre.
I devoured the Night Creatures series. I loved the characters, the originality, the dark themes and the underlying message of the importance of taking responsibility for choices and having the courage to fight for what you believe.
This is a beautiful, heartbreaking and ultimately life-affirming novel. It made me cry. And when I finished, I just sat and hugged it for a while beca...moreThis is a beautiful, heartbreaking and ultimately life-affirming novel. It made me cry. And when I finished, I just sat and hugged it for a while because I didn't want to let it go.
I loved All I Ever Wanted, and with Friday Brown, Vikki Wakefield has created another collection of complex, fascinating characters in settings that are both familiar and unsettling.
Friday is a devastatingly real narrator. Her fear, loneliness and courage are palpable on the page. She's written in a way that's so painfully honest it's almost unbearable at times. But that's what makes her journey so mesmerising: that she bears the weight of her uncertainty and isolation to stand up for herself and those she cares about.
This story deeply moved me. It’s not only beautifully and cleverly written - with awesome dialogue and fully fleshed characters - it’s also a tense page-turner, particularly once Friday and her new ‘family’ go bush. The Brown family legacy also adds another layer of tension Friday can't quite shrug off.
This book has heartbreaking moments – and these are what make the story so powerful. But ultimately Friday Brown is a story about self acceptance, the value of friendship and family, and the importance of taking responsibility for our own life stories.
It's young adult fiction at its best (actually, it's an important book no matter where it sits in the bookshop).
This is not a book to pick up if you're after a relaxing reading experience. (But then neither was Divergent)
Insurgent picks up immediately after Dive...moreThis is not a book to pick up if you're after a relaxing reading experience. (But then neither was Divergent)
Insurgent picks up immediately after Divergent, with Tris dealing with the fall-out from the final moments of that excellent and riveting book.
Tris struggles with guilt from her actions - and while she's hurt by others' inability to forgive her, she still can't forgive herself.
There are some really interesting internal conflicts for Tris as she tries to make sense of her world, now mired in conflict and ambiguous faction agendas.
While there was plenty of action and violence in Divergent, both elements are ramped up even further in this book, which barely pauses to draw breath as the story races along.
What I enjoyed most about Insurgent plot-wise - and what beautifully sets up the next book - are the hints, and then partial reveal, about Tris' society and where it sits in a broader context. It's likely to change the way we perceive a number of characters and their actions.
This is a fascinating series and I'm definitely curious to see where Veronica Roth takes the story in the next (and final?) instalment.(less)
This is a fast-paced dystopian/vampire hybrid that delivers something new and interesting for both well-worn YA genres.
Immortal Rules was my first for...moreThis is a fast-paced dystopian/vampire hybrid that delivers something new and interesting for both well-worn YA genres.
Immortal Rules was my first foray into the writing of Julie Kagawa and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The opening to this new series is dark and violent, and Allie is a strong, flawed and interesting narrative character.
The synopsis gives away the fact that, when faced with death in her cruel, post-apocalyptic world, Allie chooses to become what she hates: a vampire. And it's this journey beyond death - fighting her new base instincts and longing for human connection - that creates such a page-turning read. That, and the increasing tension when she joins up with a band of humans looking for a fabled city untouched by the virus that ravages humanity.
I particularly liked Allie's growth as a predator with a conscious. And that becoming a vampire doesn't instantly make her a martial arts expert. Her skills come first through lessons from her vampire mentor - and then later through necessity when she's forced into the wider world on her own.
There's enough resolution in this instalment to be satisfying, but several key plot threads are left loose, nicely setting up the next book in the series. Which I'm about to add to my TBR list.
Wow, what an intelligent, mind-bending story. Only 145 pages long, but it packs in a lot of plot and some truly profound themes:the definition of life...moreWow, what an intelligent, mind-bending story. Only 145 pages long, but it packs in a lot of plot and some truly profound themes:the definition of life and thought, and the concept of the human soul. There's an unexpected twist at the end that I did not see coming. I love the original way Beckett tells this story, and the meticulously way he constructs his world (complete with complex history). There's a reason this one has picked up so many awards.(less)
What a brilliant second instalment of the Night Creatures series. But so stressful! This is such an intense book because Naif spends pretty much all o...moreWhat a brilliant second instalment of the Night Creatures series. But so stressful! This is such an intense book because Naif spends pretty much all of it on the run, but the pay-off is that we find out more about what's really going on on Ixion, and the forbidden island's relationship with Grave. (And it's so much more complex than I saw coming, which I loved.)
The feel this time around is even darker, and we get more of a look of what life is like on Grave. There were quite a few moments where I felt echoes of Margaret Atwood's brilliant The Hand Maid's Tale, which adds to the sense of menace and desperation.
In facing her fears - and the horrible reality of a wider conspiracy - Naif grows more into her role of unlikely leader, and we learn more about Markes and Lenoir.
Marianne de Pierres has set the scene for an intense finale. I can't wait for Shine Light later this year to see how it all comes together(less)
This wraps up the series nicely, with a satisfying ending.
The Nordic version of the apocalypse draws closer, and Zara, Astley and their allies must pu...moreThis wraps up the series nicely, with a satisfying ending.
The Nordic version of the apocalypse draws closer, and Zara, Astley and their allies must put aside their differences to fight together.
The mythology gets pretty complex at times, and some of Nick's behaviour is a little frustrating, but otherwise Endure is a fast-paced page-turner.
Zara is still a likable narrative character (and still flippant, even in the most dire of situations) who goes through significant growth through the series.
In Need, she had to deal with pixie situation in a way that went against her philosophies of pacifism and justice.
In Captivate, she had to deal with the consequences of her choices, and come to terms with the fact that ideals are never as black and white in the harsh light of reality.
In Entice, she becomes what she fears most and struggles with the question of whether you can fight evil without becoming evil.
And now, in Endure, she must make choices that will affect her friends (and the world) and come to grips with the fact that ideals can and do change with circumstance.
There are again plenty of pop culture references (two relating directly to Buffy finales - seasons 3 and 5) and a new take on some of the Nordic mythology (Loki is nothing like he is in Thor and Avengers..)(less)
This is a cool zombie story for children and young teens. It's funny, a little creepy without ever getting too scary, and the tone is perfect for its...moreThis is a cool zombie story for children and young teens. It's funny, a little creepy without ever getting too scary, and the tone is perfect for its target market. Zane is a likeable narrator, and poor little Fossil is endearing, even as she decomposes. Charmaine Clancy writes well and is definitely a natural born storyteller. (And how perfect is that cover?) (less)
This is an action-packed paranormal romance with deeper messages about self-belief, redemption and destiny.
Lynn Rush sets a cracking pace and has a n...moreThis is an action-packed paranormal romance with deeper messages about self-belief, redemption and destiny.
Lynn Rush sets a cracking pace and has a nice rhythm to her writing. The male point of view is refreshing, and it's interesting (and increasingly rare) to see the more traditional casting of demons as bad guys, and angels (or in this case, their earthly representatives) as messengers of light.
A particularly strong theme is that of choices and consequences - and the value of fidelity.
I've seen Wasteland described as "new adult fiction" a term I must admit I hadn't heard before. Apparently it's the next step up from young adult fiction, where the narrative character is still young, but has not fully transitioned to adulthood. I'm not sure the tag fits for David in respect to his emotional age, but maybe more so to describe the tone of the book. It's violent without being graphic and sexy without being erotic.
Regardless of the tag, this was a fast-paced, enjoyable read.(less)
Excellent follow up to This is Shyness, which I also loved.
It's got all the things that made the first novel so good: strong characters, off-beat roma...moreExcellent follow up to This is Shyness, which I also loved.
It's got all the things that made the first novel so good: strong characters, off-beat romance, original plot, evocative imagery, and a great mix of darkness, humour and snappy dialogue...
Queen of the Night builds on those strengths to further flesh out the world of Shyness and show us new sides of Wildgirl and Wolfboy.
I like that Wildgirl and Wolfboy's relationship is complicated - and that it moves into new territory. There's also a deeper look into what's going on under the surface in Shyness, and how the darkness brings out the best and worst in the people who live there.
There's closure by the end, but we still don't get answers to every question, so here's hoping there's another instalment (or more) to come.
(Oh, and absolutely stunning cover from the wonderful WH Chong.)
I'm glad I'd read a few non-spoilery reviews before I read this one. It meant I went in knowing there were going to be some frustrating moments betwee...moreI'm glad I'd read a few non-spoilery reviews before I read this one. It meant I went in knowing there were going to be some frustrating moments between Cat and Bones. But really, the plot developments this time around weren't out of character for either of them - if anything, it brought their insecurities, jealousies and communication failures to a point where they either had to end their relationship, or take it to a new level. As usual, I read the book in a couple of sittings, so I'm still hooked...
**MINOR SPOILER** My only quibble is that the stakes could have been higher if Gregor wasn't such a knob. It would've been very interesting if he and Cat had actually been in love.(less)
I open a Maggie Stiefvater novel with such high hopes its a wonder any story can live up to my expectations. But, like the Scorpio Races before it, th...moreI open a Maggie Stiefvater novel with such high hopes its a wonder any story can live up to my expectations. But, like the Scorpio Races before it, the Raven Boys manages to do so.
It's completely different to everything else she's written, and yet it's unmistakably Stiefvater. And I enjoyed every page: the plot, the characters, the set up, the mood, the tension, the magic.
There are so many things about The Raven Boys that feels familiar - moody forests, twisted magic, rich boys on a secret quest - but as usual Maggie spins her story in such a unique and original way it feels fresh. The Raven Boys is atmospheric, at times creepy, frequently witty, and increasingly addictive.
The four Raven Boys themselves are all multi-layered, with their own unique quirks and issues. All are compelling in their own way.
Blue is a particularly likeable character: strong, caring and intelligent but still unsure enough about the world to be vulnerable. Her growing connection with the boys is particularly rewarding, as is her relationship with her mother and their household of colourful psychics.
There are moments of classic American gothic, with a strong thread of Welsh mythology woven in. And there are also the haunting visuals and bittersweet themes we've come to expect in a Stiefvater story.
The multiple points of view work well in a story as layered and complex as this one, with Blue and Gansey obvious favourites. I hope we get a glimpse into Ronan's head at some point.
This is a very strong start to this new series. Looking forward to see where the stories goes from here.