This is another one of those reviews where I eat my words, because I said that it was going to be a while before I could rate a fantasy book five star
This is another one of those reviews where I eat my words, because I said that it was going to be a while before I could rate a fantasy book five stars after Quintana, and yet, here I am, giving this book five stars. So sue me.
I think this is one of those cases where you can just see the growing maturity in the writing, because while all the characters are the same and true to themselves, I just feel like they are more in this novel. All of the problems that I had with the previous two books in the series have been addressed with this one, and it is by far my favorite of the three. Perhaps it's because we see most of the story, which is really still Eugenides's and Attolia's, through a new character's eyes, but I feel like Turner's style of shedding just enough light to keep you interested but no more fits better here. In the previous two books I got frustrated at times because the narrative was focused on specific characters but we didn't know everything they did. The introduction of Costis allows us to see his thoughts and opinions of the queen and king change as he gets to know them, and so the twists and secrets feel more natural. We know they are coming because, hello, it's Eugenides, but I was never irritated by being in the dark. I was just excited to see when Costis would figure out that Eugenides wasn't an idiot and pretty much knows all. Seeing Costis and the court figure out the truth about the relationship between the king and queen was pretty delightful as well.
The romance was also much better in this book, and again I think it helped to see it mostly from an outside perspective. In the previous book I felt like Gen's feelings came out of nowhere (although I will admit there were plenty of subtle hints), but in this one it's nice to see their relationship once it's been established. The affection was obvious, and I loved how people continued to underestimate both Gen and Attolia, because the whole time I was just laughing on the inside and thinking just you wait.
All in all, this was just a fun, well written novel, and I was pleased by how much I loved it. As I've said in my reviews of the previous two books, this is definitely a series to check out. And even if you aren't a huge fan of the first book, the second and third more than make up for it. Gen is just so much fun, and that's something you don't want to miss....more
It's not often that you come across a book that handles a subject like rape so well, but that is exactly what Colleen Clayton does with What Happens N
It's not often that you come across a book that handles a subject like rape so well, but that is exactly what Colleen Clayton does with What Happens Next. She takes our main character, Sid, through this awful experience, and then she doesn't gloss it over, or make it easy. She makes Sid deal with it. As a result, we as readers get a beautiful novel about a girl who has suffered a tragedy and now has to figure out a simple question: what happens next?
Sid's journey felt very real to me. As someone on the outside, it was frustrating that she didn't just tell her mom in the beginning, but it also felt exactly right. I feel like that happens a lot in cases of sexual assault or rape--women feel embarrassed, like it's because of something they did or said that this happened to them--and I was glad that Clayton was willing to go there. It also fit with the small glimpse of Sid's character that we get in the beginning. She clearly is not comfortable with herself or her looks. She makes comments about being curvy and being stuck at the bottom of the pyramid in cheerleading, and compares herself unfavorably to her friends, who are smaller and more petite than she is. As sad as it is that Sid views herself this way, it's not uncommon, and so it makes sense that someone like Sid wouldn't come forward and tell what happened to her right away, because her skewed vision of herself makes her think that in some way she is to blame. It also makes sense that her fear and self-loathing would translate in the way they did with her attempts to control her weight.
I could talk about the eating disorder more, but for me the star of this book was the relationship that Sid develops with Corey. I'm pretty picky about relationships in fiction. I hate instalove. In almost all circumstances, I think the love triangle is stupid and unnecessary. And it drives me crazy when characters have this big, dramatic kissing/get together scene, only to break up a few chapters later so that the reunion in the end is that much more sweet. So, as you can imagine, I was delighted to find that in this book, not only do we get a nice get to know you period before anything happens with Sid and Corey, we also get a real relationship, consisting of actual dates and dating. Are there fights? Yes. But do they break up? No.
Sorry if that's a spoiler; I don't care. Because it is just so refreshing to see a relationship that is free of unnecessary drama and instead has the normal kinds, especially in a book that deals with such a sensitive issue up front. We actually get to see Sid and Corey being together, dealing with the things that come up when you're a teenager: college plans, the sex talk, merging groups of friends. And Corey doesn't fail to notice when things are going on with Sid, and, gasp, he actually encourages her to talk about them. They have a real relationship, and because of this their relationship doesn't overshadow Sid's problems. Does Corey help Sid see how she is wrong about herself? Yes. But does he swoop in on his white horse and save the day? No. And I can't tell you how happy that makes me.
Does this book have flaws? Sure. I would've liked to see a little more of the ending. Sid's reunion with her friends halfway through didn't quite cut it for me--I wanted her to stay mad longer. There are other, small things I'm sure, but I can't remember them now. But overall? Clayton handles a sensitive topic well and with dignity. She gives us a relationship that is real and normal and very sweet. The cast of supporting characters is fun and engaging. This book is wonderful, and I am so glad that I read it....more
I have a confession to make: every time I read a modern adaptation of a Jane Austen novel, I end up really pissed off at the end. See, I get that Aust
I have a confession to make: every time I read a modern adaptation of a Jane Austen novel, I end up really pissed off at the end. See, I get that Austen was writing in a time when kissing before marriage was akin to prostitution (not really, but it was veeeeery frowned upon), but is it so much to ask for one little kiss at the very end of an updated retelling? Yes? No? What? Seriously, when I got to the end of Elizabeth Eulberg's Prom & Prejudice, I thought it was some kind of joke. (I also realized that I hate Mr. Darcy no matter what form he takes, but that's not exactly the point.) The point is, that was a bad experience for me, and since then I have stayed away from Austen retellings and Austen in general, and I have been a much happier reader for it. But when I saw all the rave reviews for this one I couldn't help myself, and I decided that maybe I should give updated Austen another try.
I haven't read the novel that inspired this one, but I have read enough Austen to understand why this book succeeds and others fail. It's because the world Peterfreund has created, while set in some distant future, exists in a space that blends old and new. There are scientific advancements that speak of times more modern than our own, with the sun carts and genetic manipulation, but there is also a strict caste system as a result of the genetic manipulation gone awry that brings a sense of responsibility which almost necessitates old fashioned thinking. It's a strange mix, but it works, and Elliot, our protagonist, is unique in that she can see both sides. Because of that it was much easier for me to sympathize with her, and it was also much easier for me to let myself go with this book and not worry about the fact that it was inspired by an Austen novel. I was able to suspend that knowledge because the bones of the original story actually felt like they fit into the world Peterfreund created, and the protagonist wasn't some high school girl with a crush on an asshole. Her problems were real, her world was real, and I was truly invested in both.
The thing I enjoyed most about this novel is that while there was a romance, it didn't overshadow the bigger problems. And boy were there some big problems. I don't want to go into too much detail because of possible spoilers, but the dilemmas Elliot faces are intense and believable. I loved the sense of duty she feels for her people, whether they are Luddite, Post, or Reduced. It is a hard thing to accept the burdens of your ancestors, and I felt like Peterfreund did a good job of illustrating the conflict Elliot feels over doing what is necessary to care for her people and the potential that doing so could mean crossing the same line that created the Reduction in the first place. It's a difficult place to be, and I never once felt like the author was advocating for one outcome over another.
My only real problem with this book was that the ending, and Elliot's choice, seemed to come a little too quickly and easily. It felt like it was over too soon, and I didn't really get how she was all of the sudden okay with everything that happened. It didn't ruin the story for me, but it did take away a star. This could have been a five star book if the ending hadn't been so beautifully gift-wrapped.
All in all, this was a success for me, and has made me a little less leery of Austen adaptations. The prose is beautiful and the message is important. Definitely one I'd recommend. ...more
In a word, this book was...intense. From the very first pages Ee throws you into the action, and it never really stops. In some books that can be a baIn a word, this book was...intense. From the very first pages Ee throws you into the action, and it never really stops. In some books that can be a bad thing, but in this book it isn't. The pacing and intensity of the action are appropriate for the setting. I mean, hello! It's the apocalypse, people! The book of Revelations. The angels are here and shit is going down and quite frankly I would've been upset if this book had been full of sitting around doing nothing scenes. There isn't space for that in a book like this, and I'm glad. It kept me on my toes.
We join the story when Penryn, her mother, and her younger sister are trying to move to a safer place. The little sister is promptly taken by angels, Penryn's mother, who is (a very well-written) schizophrenic, takes off on her own, and Penryn teams up with Raffe, a badass angel who has a lot of enemies among his fellow winged deities. Penryn and Raffe strike a deal--he gets her to where all the angels hang out so she can rescue her sister, and she helps him find someone who can sew his wings back on (Oh, yes, did I not mention they get ripped off?). All of this happens within about the first fifteen percent of the book, and then the journey begins. I won't say more because of spoilers, but just know that shit. Goes. Down. And that ending? Holy mother of all cliffhangers. Susan Ee, where is the sequel? WHERE IS IT?
The star of this novel, the reason you should read it, is the way Ee portrays angels. I know when most of us picture angels we picture the baby cherubs from Precious Moments or blonde, glowing sort of humans with fluffy white wings and a serene face. If that's what you're looking for then turn away, because that is not what Ee delivers. If instead you are looking for a complex group of beings who are a lot more real and human than you could ever imagine, read this. This is one of the best and most interesting portrayals of angels I have ever read.
Again, I don't want to say much more because of potential spoilers. Just know that I would definitely recommend this book. It's one of the self-published titles that clearly had a lot of love, time, and effort put into it, and it definitely pays off.
*scurries off to find out when the sequel will be out*...more
My thanks to Netgalley and St. Martin's Press for providing an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.
As soon as I read the premise for this b
My thanks to Netgalley and St. Martin's Press for providing an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.
As soon as I read the premise for this book, I was intrigued. Alien invasion, almost no adults, and a complicated captor/captive relationship? Yes, please. Add in all the other obstacles and the enigma that is Zoey, and you've got the makings of a good story. One that definitely lived up to my expectations.
It's hard for me to know where to start this review, because there is just so much that happens. As you would expect in a world controlled by hostile invaders, there is danger at every turn, and Mitchell makes this clear by showing us all the obstacles Holt, Mira, and Zoey have to face along their journey. At times it felt like something horrible happened at the end of every chapter, but the situations felt honest, and the pace and intensity were consistent and strong throughout the story. I never felt like the balance between action and glimpses of who the characters are as people tipped too much in either direction, and in a story like this that's very important. Mitchell did a good job of moving the story along nicely while still allowing us to know the characters, and that balance made me want to keep reading, so I could see what would happen next.
The world in this story felt very unique, and there was a lot of information to absorb. In another author's hands that could get confusing, fast, but I think one of the things that Mitchell does best in this novel is revealing just enough about things to keep you going and interested, but never telling too much. I have all kinds of questions about the Assembly, and the different colored machines and what they all mean, but I feel like I know enough at this point in the story to begin to understand that there is more going on with the invaders than the survivors on Earth previously though. And when we finally get a chance to learn more about Zoey, we get information that answers some of the questions she poses but then also generates more. I've read some stories where I just felt confused all the time and others where I felt like I was being beat over the head with explanations, but Mitchell doesn't have either of those problems. He gives you just enough to keep wanting more.
One of the aspects I found most intriguing and horrifying in this novel was the idea of the Tone. It's so awful to imagine something like that, where you slowly succumb to something created by these conqueror's, all the while knowing what's happening and knowing that in the end there's nothing you can do to stop it. Mira's struggles with the Tone were heartbreaking, and Holt's past experiences equally so. It made you really feel the cost of what had happened to the world, and it made me want to know how in the heck these kids are going to find a way to save the day.
This novel did have some problems--as I mentioned before, at times I felt like there was something horrible happening in every chapter--but the good far outweighs the bad. If you like science fiction or even just good world building, then check this one out. I, for one, will be keeping my eyes peeled for the sequel....more
I gave my boyfriend (Now fiancé! This review was written before the big question.) a list of books I'd like for Christmas, and when he told me that heI gave my boyfriend (Now fiancé! This review was written before the big question.) a list of books I'd like for Christmas, and when he told me that he initially thought one of the books I'd requested sounded stupid but then found himself reading it while waiting in the checkout line, I knew exactly which book he'd gotten me. Books that scream love and romance aren't exactly Danny's favorite--he's more a Game of Thrones kind of guy--but once we'd exchanged gifts he told me that from the few entries he'd read, he thought he might actually like to read this one himself, too. After I finished the book, I knew that this is definitely one I'd like to share with him.
So often in books, and even television and movies, we only get the so-called good parts of a romantic relationship. The meet cute. The buildup. The will they/won't they tension. The inevitable swoon-worthy first kiss. And then the book/movie/show either ends, or the couple is pushed to the background/time skips forward/something else happens to get us to the next good part: the fights and drama. The middle part, or the relationships that really are true and everlasting, aren't really explored. And I think that's doing people a disservice, because it's the middle part that's the most important, and can actually be the most beautiful.
That's what Levithan does here: he shows us what it's like to be in a relationship. What it's like to exist in those quiet moments on the couch with your live-in partner. What it's like to realize that you don't like everything your significant other does. What it's like to be there for the awkward family stuff, for the fights that don't really make sense, for the moments that make it all worth it. This book is a beautiful celebration of love, and all its ups and downs. And I think we need more of that in literature, and hell, in other media as well. Because this is what's realistic. This is what love is. Hard work. The choices you make. At times, frustrating. But, overall, the best kind of reward....more
I liked this a lot more than I like Romeo and Juliet itself, and it definitely worked as a retelling for me. I was never totally sold on the idea of RI liked this a lot more than I like Romeo and Juliet itself, and it definitely worked as a retelling for me. I was never totally sold on the idea of Rose and Rob together, but that's because I, unlike Rosaline, have lived through high school and know that a lot of times the boy you spend all your time dreaming about isn't really the guy for you. I basically spent the whole book alternating between being curious about how all the twists were gonna play out and being like MORE LEN, PLEASE. Len is the best, and this book was just what I needed after going through a fantasy/paranormal/dystopian phase....more
This is another one of those books that I probably never would've found without Goodreads, so let me just take a moment to send a shout out to all my
This is another one of those books that I probably never would've found without Goodreads, so let me just take a moment to send a shout out to all my friends on there who posted rave reviews about this series, even if this one wasn't your favorite. *cheers* *claps*
Now that that's done, on to the review.
I guess I'll start by saying that I have been a bit book depressed lately, because I've been in the mood for a series that would basically consume my life a la The Hunger Games or Harry Potter, and I haven't been able to find one. Seriously, check out my status updates on Goodreads if you don't believe me. It was bordering on pathetic. And while I've read some good books in the meantime, I am so glad that I started this one, because even though it has its weaknesses, I can already tell the series as a whole is just what I've been looking for.
The story starts with Gen, our narrator, being pulled out of his prison cell to go talk to the king and his magus about whether or not he really can steal anything. They are skeptical, you see, because while Gen did manage to steal something valuable, he didn't manage to keep his mouth shut long enough to get away with it. Hence his inmate status. Much snark and hilarity ensues, and before we know it, Gen, the magus, a guard, and two Uselesses (the Elder and the Younger) hit the road, off on a quest to steal an object unknown. Their journey is long, and Gen certainly sleeps a lot, but through his wry humor and their stories about the gods, the story keeps moving at a good pace, and it becomes obvious that not all is as it seems.
I feel like the best word to describe this book is fun. Gen's narration and the banter between the characters are the perfect balance between serious and light, and it makes the story flow so well. I know that some people had problems with their stories about the gods, but I didn't. I've always been interested in mythology, and I feel like it's important to have myths and legends established in fantasy series. It makes them feel more real and storied. And I love that most of the stories told focused on the Thief God. It just made things feel so mischievous. And that ending? Such a great twist! Everything falls into place, and it's like a major aha moment. I knew something was up, but I was still surprised when I got there, and that made all the difference.
Positive aspects aside, I do want to take a moment to talk about the negative ones. For me, it was really all about one thing: the first person narration. (Here's to you, Gaby, for putting my feelings about it into words.). The whole time I was reading, something felt just a little bit off, and it wasn't until I started book two and also had a conversation with Gaby that I realized the problem is with the focus of the narration. I found myself forgetting that it was supposed to be in first person, because it felt like it should be in third, so whenever I'd see an 'I' in the narration, it threw me off and I got confused. I don't know why, exactly, but I've found that for the most part, fantasy books work better for me when they are in the third person. I think it's partly because it seems like most of the time in fantasy, the story is really more about the world as a whole, and how the main characters are important to it, instead of the other way around. I'm about a third of the way into book two now, which is written in third person, and already I feel like it's moving much faster and the tone is a better fit for the story.
Still, that one negative, although it is a problem, shouldn't stop you from reading this series. I mean, really. It's so much fun, people! And I can already tell you that book two is so worth getting through book one, even if you don't like the stories of the gods and all that jazz. You've gotta start at the beginning, and this one is well worth it. It's a series you don't want to miss. ...more
I'm starting this review with a disclaimer: about three weeks ago I read Quintana of Charyn, the conclusion to The Lumatere Chronicles, and it was per I'm starting this review with a disclaimer: about three weeks ago I read Quintana of Charyn, the conclusion to The Lumatere Chronicles, and it was perfect (Don't even try to tell me there were flaws, because there weren't. Hmph.). Therefore any and all fantasy books for the foreseeable future have a lot to live up to, and will probably not be rated above four stars. Including this one, though I did enjoy it very much.
Now, moving on.
My biggest problem with the previous novel isn't an issue with this one. The novel is written in the third person, and I think it works so much better for the context and the politics of the story. Above all else, this is a book about power and war, and the wider scope of the narrative works wonders to convey all the subtleties and complications that go with it. I feel like we get a much better sense of the world Eugenides lives in, which helped me better understand the characters and also how the events that were happening affected them. I really enjoyed that Turner focused on both Eugenidies and Attolia, because it's not often you find a book where you get to see more than one side of a war. It makes the characters more human when you can understand their motivations, even when they want different things than the others. Turner succeeds immensely in that regard.
I think what I liked best about this story is that even though it's more serious than its predecessor, the lightness and humor is still there. Eugenidies is still a thief, in spite of some things that happen to him pretty early in the novel, which means he's just as good at plotting and keeping secrets as ever. We also get to know Eddis and Attolia better, and though the latter does some atrocious things, you come to understand her motivations and even sympathize with her, which is a difficult thing for an author to get you to do.
My only real problem with this book was tied up with something that I actually really liked: the romance. I am a sucker for romance, as I am sure you all have figured out by now, but I can be really picky about the couples I choose to root for. While I eventually came to like this one in the end, it felt to me like it came out of nowhere and I wasn't really sure what to make of it. I just didn't feel it like I've felt the love between many other characters in many other books, and that was a little disappointing. I'm hoping the next one will provide a bit more insight into this relationship so that I can better make up my mind about them.
All in all, this is still a great series. Look for a review on book three soon! (Although it's only two days 'til November, so who knows, really?)...more
The last third of this book really upped the fluffiness and I love it. A little slow in the beginning, but totally worth it in the end. Definitely picThe last third of this book really upped the fluffiness and I love it. A little slow in the beginning, but totally worth it in the end. Definitely pick this up if you're looking for a fun, cute read....more
I tend to think of myself as more of a contemporary reader, but in the grand scheme of things, I've read quite a bit of fantasy. I grew up with Harry I tend to think of myself as more of a contemporary reader, but in the grand scheme of things, I've read quite a bit of fantasy. I grew up with Harry Potter. I read and reread Tamora Pierce's Tortall books all the time. Melina Marchetta's Lumatere Chronicles are some of the best books, let alone fantasy, I've ever read. Seraphina, much to my delight, is among the good ones.
The world Hartman has created survives based on a peace that was struck between humans and dragons forty years prior to the beginning of the novel. This peace ended the fighting between the two nations, but there are those on both sides who aren't happy with how things are. As Goredd prepares for Comonot, the leader of the dragons, to pay a visit on the fortieth anniversary of the treaty, the malcontents to their best to stir up trouble. Our narrator, Seraphina, has a foot in both worlds, and as the conflict of the story unfolds, she struggles with what to do. All her life she has lived in secret, hiding her true self, but as things get out of hand she has to decide how much to reveal in order to help those she loves.
By far the best and most interesting part of the novel for me was the unique and extremely interesting portrayal of dragons. My favorite dragons are in Tamora Pierce's Immortals series, but this book has secured the number two spot. I was fascinated by these creatures who love math and are terrified and disgusted by emotions, and I thought it was so interesting that they could take human shape and live among them as part of the peace the two peoples had negotiated. I could have read about the awkwardness and conflicts this created for the entire novel, or really I could've just read a whole book about Orma and his adorableness. He is my favorite character, and I loved his silly quirks and his fake beard and the way he watched out for Seraphina in spite of the fact that he could get in trouble for it. And the ending of the book, for him especially, was so sweet that I got all choked up.
My only real problem with this novel? The romance. I feel like I've been saying that a lot lately, but I'm picky about romance in books. I hate instalove so much, and that's really all this felt like to me. Plus there was the awful love triangle-y-ness (ha, fun made up word) of it all, which was another hit against it. I never really cared about Seraphina and Lucian getting together, because that wasn't what was interesting about the story for me. It felt unnecessary and forced and sudden. I mean, the whole book takes place in a span of like three weeks, and Seraphina thinks she loves him after they spend one whole day together. Blech. Maybe I would've liked them better together eventually if Hartman had left it for subsequent books, but I don't know.
All in all I would definitely recommend this novel. It's not perfect, but it's wonderfully written and has a unique story that needs to be told. Without the love story I probably would've rated this five stars, but I have a feeling the sequel will be even better, so who knows? Maybe that one will be an absolute favorite....more