2/19/2014 (Pre-review note: Obviously this short review is months late. I wrote it in October, then I let it sit for awhile so I could rewire...more3.5 Stars
2/19/2014 (Pre-review note: Obviously this short review is months late. I wrote it in October, then I let it sit for awhile so I could rewire my thoughts before posting it... then life got hectic and I'm just now posting it on the basis that it's good enough even if I haven't really rethought any of it. So be it.)
This book went by in a flash. Honestly, there was so much forward movement and progression that I didn't even consider stopping to think about the book at all. At least not until that little break in the middle when I had to make myself go to sleep.
This was very much the same exact experience I had when I read the first book, The Darkest Minds. I enjoyed the same things from both of these books: character interaction, character bonding, makeshift family coming together to save the world, fast-paced action, exciting adrenaline rush, and an adventure-like story-line. Except, since I had gotten to know the characters from the first book already, there may have been a bit more of an emotional impact.
I may have had a few moments of "the feels" when Ruby and Chubs had their reunion. I may have smirked a bit when Vida turned out to be "part of the team" rather than just "that jealous girl who wants to be the leader". And when Jude, for the nth time, is the one to welcome Ruby "home" with a smile and a tackling embrace, I might have had some "feels" there too.
Just like the first book, Never Fade is very much a character driven story. Honestly, without Ruby and her Scooby gang, I don't know if I would be so in like with this book with the same enthusiasm. Sure, we get a deeper look into the heart of this dystopian conspiracy now that Ruby has joined the Childrens' League -- more politics and whatnot going to work here. Frankly, those parts were kind of boring for me; informative, but lackluster at the same time.
What I enjoyed actually came in the moment that Ruby broke out of the League's HQ, dragging Jude with her, to head across the country in order to find Liam. And then along the way, she is joined by Vida and reunites with Chubs. A whole new rag tag gang is formed with these four -- SO MUCH LOVE FOR THAT! It was at that point that the story actually started getting exciting for me. I mean, don't get me wrong, I enjoyed bits and pieces of seeing Ruby's life in the League as well. It just wasn't as much fun.
The character bonding in this book is winning (just as much as it was from the first book). The hopeless romantic in me is still rooting for Liam and Ruby to be together; their romance was set up pretty subtly and well, and even though it took a bit of a back seat in this book, it still managed to hang around with quite the intense punch. I'll admit that there are always choices and decisions made by characters that don't sit well with me and there are also reactions to those choices by characters that also don't sit well with me. And Liam and Ruby's relationship teeters on those lines that had me feeling a bit uncomfortable for the both of them. Nonetheless, I do still love them and hope that there will be a good conclusion for them when the last book rolls around.
But while I'm a hopeless romantic and am rooting for Liam and Ruby to have a heartwarming ending, I'm also a bigger fan of the Ruby and Chubs friendship now that it's more developed and they've gone through so much to still maintain their friendship. I love that they care about each other and have this weird understanding of each other's thoughts; but at the same time, they're pretty harshly honest with one another as well. I can't get enough of these two, just watching them do what they do as friends who have been through suspicion and hate and love and... well, they're like all the family that they lost during the "apocalyptic" parts of the story line. Even when these two are fighting with each other, it's still kind of heartwarming... cause then they hug and make-up and everything feels right in the world again.
And THEN there's also the love/hate bickering between Vida and Ruby; the love/hate bickering between Vida and Chubs; the adorable sunshine that is Jude (whom I kept picturing as a twelve-year old boy even though it's made clear that he's fifteen and has hit his growth spurt); and that strange new connection that Ruby now has with Liam's brother Cole.
I'm just saying, there are some really nice character dynamics going on here and I DO really like what's going on.
My only complaint came in the form of the ending, unfortunately. (And hopefully I don't give too much away since I'm not one who likes including spoilers in reviews.)
Let's just say that it was a bit... disjointed. On top of that... well, I understand the "BANG!" impact that the the author was probably going for in the end, but I'm not sure I liked it all too much. It felt too abrupt and kind of forces a bridging onto the next (and maybe last) book of this series. The first book ended with less of a bang with a more "finalized" feel to that part of the series. You knew that there was more to the story, but you didn't feel like you were missing something -- if that makes any sense.
It's not that I completely dislike cliffhangers... it's just that, sometimes I want to take and dangle an author by the toes over a cliff above shark-infested waters for making me hang at the edge of my own cliff for a whole entire year because the ending of the book was so abrupt and obviously prepared to dive into the next book with heart-wrenching, adrenaline-boosting "I need to read the next book right now" intensity.
But no, I don't completely dislike cliffhangers, really...
Nonetheless, we've got a little more than a year until the next book is released, and I'm definitely looking forward to seeing what's coming up. I especially look forward to seeing more of our characters together, now that old friends have reunited and new friendships have formed.
I wouldn't call Never Fade a perfect book nor a terrible book for it's standards. The series itself is quite enjoyable. But I DID like The Darkest Minds a bit more, and to be honest, again, if not for the character interactions, this series would probably just be like every other YA trendy dystopian out there garnering attention right now.
I'm not complaining since I'm thoroughly into it.
10/17/2013 It had taken me a couple months to formulate more than one paragraph as an official review for the first book, The Darkest Minds, so I don't doubt that it'll take a while for me to write, re-write, and re-assess my thoughts on Never Fade.
For now, it's a pretty simple, straight-forward gush, mainly for the characters of this book that kept me going and will continue to keep me going onto the next book. I pretty much enjoyed the same things about this installment that I did from the first. Ruby is a nice development in progress, and I love her more than I did before. There are new characters introduced whom you ALSO come to love, and then there are the old characters you still love.
The conspiracy of this dystopian is revealed more and more, but it doesn't seem like anything we weren't expecting. This is definitely a character-driven story, which doesn't really bother me in the least.
I'm trying to formulate the right things to say about this particular installation of the I-Team series, because I'm still trying to figure out how I...moreI'm trying to formulate the right things to say about this particular installation of the I-Team series, because I'm still trying to figure out how I feel about the entire story, plus the ending. The "feel" of Naked Edge just wasn't as... stimulating as the previous books. Hard Evidence was intense and exciting, Unlawful Contact was emotionally stimulating and full of suspense and "Wow"-ness, and Extreme Exposure was the thrilling introduction to our I-Team world... but Naked Edge seems a little more tame in comparison. I'm not saying it wasn't good; I'm just saying I didn't get "that excited feel" from it that I got from the previous books.
Am I being a little unfair? Maybe, but that's why I'm trying to sort through my thoughts first before saying too much.
So... review to come.
Okay, so it didn't take THAT long to formulate my thoughts, so here they are: Beware a couple spoilers here and there, though I tried to hide all the ones I felt were important.
I hadn't quite expected to bullrush through Naked Edge this quickly; however, it seemed that once I got through a certain point in the storyline, there was no turning back. This pattern has been no different from the rest of the I-Team books I've already red. Granted, I probably should have been sleeping instead of reading, it's not like I ever listen to my "one more chapter, then sleep" mantra -- especially if that mantra lasts about twenty chapters. So there's no doubting that Naked Edge is a book that lives up to the awesomeness that follows suit with the I-Team series.
However, I'm floating on 4 stars for this fourth installment of the series for a lot of reasons that I can't entirely pinpoint. While the plot was a good one, the crime thrill intense, and the romance sizzling and emotional... all of it had this feeling of, well... falling slightly short. Maybe this is an unfair projection of my own expectations in a comparison with the previous three books. Maybe I wanted it to surpass the previous book too much because I really wanted to jump into Katherine James' turn as the strong, badass main female character. Or maybe... I'm too much still in love with Julian Darcangelo (with Marc Hunter coming up in a tight second) that the "rock jock" boy Gabriel Rossiter didn't even stand a chance unless he really stood out (and I mean really, really stood out).
But this wasn't entirely due to characters.
Kat was strong and steady, there's no doubt about that; but a little part of me couldn't help but notice that her dignified, conservative personality also made her a little bit of a pushover. I mean, sure she had what it took to survive in this world and could kick butt if she really wanted to... but the fact was that half the time her dignity made her walk away instead of getting that "in your face" kind of spunk that I think most journalists really have to rely on in order to get anywhere. I'm not saying that's a bad thing, but it just seemed to make Kat a bit too docile. And maybe that's just her charm and I'm not feeling it because I've overdosed myself with I-Team novels to the point where the feelings of awesome, expectation, and fear of disappointment (as well as a heavy dose of "staying up too late to read and thus very sleepy and blurry") are intermingled too closely together.
As for Gabe... I'm not sure what to make of him. He started out as the standard "dickhole" who was painted as having no interest in romance or love and who only thought with his nether region appendage. Which is fine, because I like the tradition "good girl melts the playing bad boy's heart" angle in a lot of other romances. Which is why I feel like Gabe doesn't stand out very well (from the previous two heroes, that is), and why the romance didn't really entice me as much -- it was a little too safe. When you find out that Gabe's got his own dark secret and learn the truth of it all... well... to be totally honest, I felt for him and I could see how what happened in his life could change him. I mean, come on, we were totally expecting a depressing past to explain away why he's such an uncaring manwhore, weren't we? I saw it coming the moment he started spouting all of his "no room for love in my life" crap. But while I could see the reasons and I could feel for him, it just didn't really "move" me. Don't get me wrong, Gabriel is a strong, respectful, and wonderful good man and makes for excellent hero material; he risked his life many times over to keep Kat safe and alive (then again, so did Julian and Marc for their respective leading ladies).
I guess that I'm just still too much in love with Julian, continuing to fall for Marc, and I'm starting to think that no one else will stand a chance against them, which... Oh my God, just made me wonder if I really have a thing for "dangerous, badass" men. Because Julian Darcangelo might have been one of the good guys all along, but he's got that "living on the edge" attitude that makes you excited, while hiding his great big softie tendencies from the rest of the world: he's the softy, sexy Teddy Bear in a Box. Marc Hunter did live on the edge, breaking multiple laws, and running as a fugitive for an entirety of a book, but also shelters that deep down respect for people and softness for his loved ones while trying to play off being a dangerous asshole: he's the handsome Goldenboy in Uniform. And those underlying traits of edginess in both of the men make them all the more enticing. Gabriel was just a standard good man with asshole tendencies, an underlying good heart, and a dark past; too many complications mixed together, but in the end, just your standard cliche of a broken hero and predictable.
But I'm getting off the point.
Like I said, it wasn't just the characters that didn't really appeal to me this time around (they were standard and they were safe). The story itself, while intense and meaningful to an extent, was a bit tame for what I'd been expecting of an I-Team thriller. It seemed too cut and polish for a murder/crime mystery/thriller, it was pretty predictable in terms of the main mystery key players and the main crime events, and it seemed that not as much investigation went on as much as information was just handed to our team players. Yeah, Kat did her end of digging and antagonizing the city, but the rest of the investigation seemed to have been done by either Julian or Marc so that Gabe and Kat (with their combined knowledge and expertise on the subject) could just piece everything together. If this wasn't the case, then I'm must have missed something in my ravaging hunger to finish the novel, but this is what the story felt like. Kat did her fair share of investigation, but a lot of times, she really was just waiting around for information to be released to her by the people who would rather see her broken body at the bottom of a ditch.
There were some parts of the story that struck me as a little slopping, especially towards the ending, which seemed to drag out a bit too much, significant as it might have seemed. On top of that that, also at the conclusion: (view spoiler)[I felt that our main "villains" were also kind of sloppy and lent little credence to how hard they tried to cover up their crimes. It wasn't hard to figure out as soon as they were presented, who was the mystery culprit this time around. Especially the main murderer, Mr. Park Ranger Webb, who seemed comically evil at best (hide spoiler)] I DID appreciate the coyote's symbolism in Kat's dreams and spiritualist beliefs, because it lends an element to this particular I-Team book that the rest of the books didn't have. I also swooned lots at the continuous appearances of Julian and Marc as well as those moments of budding bromance between our men, including Gabe's addition to the loving banter of the boys. (view spoiler)[I must say though, the bodyguard angle at half-point in the story was a good twist, even if it added onto the running standard of cliches compiled in this particular book. (hide spoiler)]
Anyway, I won't say that this was a terrible story. The action and the intensity was still there; there was a nice emotional kick to it, and I DID like Katherine James just as well as I expected to like her. The romance was sweet and sizzling as per usual, and I spent my sleep time devouring the entire book up to the finish. So, as I stated, there's no doubt that I enjoyed it despite all of my misgivings mentioned above. It just wasn't the best I-Team novel to date and didn't have much of a break through feeling for me. The story itself wasn't as stimulating, and the romance was a little less unique.
Anyway, after finishing Naked Edge though, I have come to the realization that, as much as I want to jump into the next installation, I'm going to hold off for a while. Sometimes, no matter how good something is, a little too much could be detrimental. Also, I've about reached my monthly book spending budget (and it's only the beginning of the month), and I figure it might be a good idea to let that obsession I have with Julian Darcangelo and Marc Hunter fade a little before proceeding onto the next story -- you know, so that we can give the next hero more of a fighting chance to win my heart, if you know what I mean. My apologies to Gabe and the "rock jock" god's fans out there -- Gabriel Rossiter and the romance with Katherine James just didn't really do it for me.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
If I loved Kara McMillan and Tessa Novak, I absolutely adore Sophie Alton. To be totally honest, Sophie really hadn't been much of a presence in the p...moreIf I loved Kara McMillan and Tessa Novak, I absolutely adore Sophie Alton. To be totally honest, Sophie really hadn't been much of a presence in the previous two books (whereas Tessa's presence showed from Extreme Exposure), so I hadn't really had much expectation going into it. So imagine my delight when so much freshness was weaved into Sophie's story as we followed right alongside this intense, suspense filled, emotional thrill-ride of a crime-investigation mystery case. I have no doubt that Pamela Clare puts a lot of heart behind her creations and the fact that the I-Team world connects all the characters from one book to the next without taking away from the main story at hand is a wonderful experience that I'm glad I chose to continue following.
There comes a time in a series where you really can't think of anything else to say about the awesomeness of the next book or the next. You just know that it was an excellent read and that you loved it just as much as you love what's going on in the entire series, book after book after book. And you know that you can't wait to get your hands on the next book (which I have already done despite having tried to tell myself that I would try to wait it out and finish other books in my possession... so much for trying to disciplining my book binges...)
Character-wise, none of these books have ceased to make me love each and all the characters created, newly introduced and the like. Sophie was yet another strong, independent and kick-butt heroine, and just as Tessa had been shown in Hard Evidence, Sophie had her own unique character quirks and flaws (although she DID come dangerously close to being perfection as a strong heroine, but I give her leeway since she's so sweet and smart). Marc Hunter... well, he's pretty freakin' hot and it kills me how vulnerable he came out to be despite his strong, tough exterior. I love that Pamela Clare isn't afraid to paint her men and women with an equal brush -- that both genders have the same compulsions for emotional breakdowns just as well as standing strong.
My only nitpick with characters is that they're always so beautiful and well sculpted. But being that I enjoyed the romance, the story, and the character interactions (as well as the guiltily pleasurable sizzle) I've decided not to care that the women are petite and beautiful little things while the guys are sporting bodies of Greek gods. In fact, I think I will continue to enjoy these lovely fantasies, thank you very much.
As far as the story is concerned, I'll have to say that this one is by far the most emotional, stimulating one (of the three books I've read so far). I hadn't been expecting the books to get better and better each time, but having one of the main characters at the heart of the entire investigation, connected so deeply and personally, was a big heart-tugger for me. While I adored Sophie Alton and she stood on her own as the main heroine, Marc Hunter was really the star of the show and you could feel yourself feeling for him at every step from beginning until the satisfying and heartwarming (and I hope these books will always have them) end.
Of course, he's no Julian Darcangelo, and for reasons that maybe only I will ever understand, I'm kind of still in love with the half-Italian former agent, current vice commander. These two boys give a run for your money, but I'm still fawning over Julian enough to pick him as my favorite main hero of the I-Team storyboard so far, even if Unlawful Contact was the better of the two plots in this I-Team world. So I'm glad that Julian got to be his hot-ass awesome self in this book even if he was just a supporting character -- he still makes me squeal whenever he gets a scene.
And as much of a presence as Katherine James has been since Hard Evidence, I'm very ready to jump into Naked Edge and read through her turn at main heroine goodness now. So... so ready to be delighted for another couple hours.(less)
Either I've easily settled into the world of the I-Team story board or I have more of a thing for a thrilling action-packed police case with intrigue,...moreEither I've easily settled into the world of the I-Team story board or I have more of a thing for a thrilling action-packed police case with intrigue, suspense, and hot undercover broody FBI agent who muscles his way through investigation and interrogations (as well as into our main female character's life). It could also be because I really liked the intense unfolding of the angsty romance between Tessa and Julian (I know the "Forced Living Conditions" plot device is ALWAYS a winner in my book). It wasn't that the first book was any less stimulating than or any less intriguing than Hard Evidence (you know, if we had to do a comparison and all), but somehow I managed to find this second book so much more alluring and exciting all at the same time.
To be fair, sometimes a first book in a series gets that whole "Strange New Territory" cautious once-over from me. I have trouble starting a series if there are multiple books to them, and unless they grab my attention immediately with something outrageous, things get a bit bumpy (thus the lower rating I had given Extreme Exposure). And so there's a very distinctly obvious bias towards Hard Evidence which has nothing to do with Extreme Exposure's ability to weave an awesome story and churn out outstanding characters and plot development.
In the simplest form: I became very comfortable with the setting, the characters, and the author's writing style as well as the entire I-Team world through the first book. By the time I picked up Hard Evidence, I was already in love with everything about the series' base world.
It also helped that I found Tessa Novak to be extremely charming and every bit the type of kickass strong female heroine I love to follow along and read about. Strong at all the right times, but possessing a more realistic presentation of her emotions and misgivings, as well as the right amount of control over her own ability to drive her own life forward... Unlike a lot of other strong female main leads in the fictional world, Tessa hit every factor that makes her such a memorable, wonderful female main character.
It wasn't that I didn't like Kara McMillan from the first book in this series, but in a very reluctant comparison, I lean more towards Tessa in my favoritism right now. I don't know why, but then again it could have maybe had to do with this girl's crazy devotion to her investigation to a point of stupidly putting her life in danger, not truly realizing the consequences of her frustrating, yet admirably professional hardcore actions. There were a lot of moments where I stood on the same side as Chief Irving and Julian, wanting Tessa to just stay put and keep her information to herself long enough for them to finish up their case. And then as soon as my frustration was there, it was replaced by an impressing admiration for her dedication to her job as well as that overwhelming need to fight through her own demons as well as do SOMETHING to help the poor girl she'd watched die in front of her eyes. I also liked the sweet sarcasm in her tone whenever she thought it necessary to put "kill them with kindness" into it's most useful moments when she tries to get her point across to any jerk-hole giving her a hard time.
The entirety of Hard Evidence was filled with tension from the very first tragic moment when Tessa watched a desperate teenage girl murdered, to the moment when Tessa's life is put into jeopardy, all the way to the ending when the case and the investigation is wrapped up and concluded. Every moment had me flipping through pages with that same "one more chapter then I'll stop and get some sleep" mantra; before I knew it, I was halfway through the book (so much for one or two chapters a day to keep a steady pace). And then after a long needed three hour nap, I dove right back into the book and finished it up with a few trips to the bathroom, one trip to the fridge, and a heck of a lot of anticipation for what would come next after each and every scene.
Character-wise, this book did not disappoint. Julian Darcangelo... *sigh*... While Senator Reece Sheridan was "Perfection on a Silver Platter" (what with his gentlemanly ways, his idealistic views on his profession, and his perfect body), Julian was pretty much the "Guilty Pleasure of Broody Darkness and Hotness served up with a box of yummy Chocolates" that all women wish they could have. There's that right amount of edge to him to satisfy that desire for adrenaline-induced excitement knowing that he's a dangerous man with a heart of gold and protective instincts like the best of them. If it's one thing Pamela Clare knows, it's how to write desirable men without making them too overbearing. Case in point, they're definite alpha-males, but they know how to appreciate their women and respect them at the same time.
As much as I hate seeing perfect men all the time (hot and sexy, perfect, well-managed bodies, heart of gold, strong and protective, caring and loving...), there is at least enough of that needed character flaw that allows me to not despise them a hundred percent. It also helps that these perfect men are matched with a respective kickass woman to balance out the pairing and add enough equilibrium and sizzle to the romance to make it seem worthwhile.
So yeah... Julian Darcangelo, hot special agent, dark and broody, protective and caring... I've found a new story book hero to obsess over.
As far as character creation goes in this book, we've introduced some new faces: Lissy and Will were in the short side story Heaven Can't Wait that I read for a dose of guilty pleasure romance and sizzle. But then there was also the introduction of Katherine James -- and I swear, with just one line from her first character appearance in combination with her stoic personality, I'm already anticipating her story in the 4th book. The appearance of Tessa's mother at the end of the book is also a pleasant welcome and surprise as well. And I'm glad that Kara and Reece are still a part of the ongoing lives of the rest of the I-Team girls.
In short: I loved this book! I loved the setting, I loved the intensity of the telling, I loved the development of the investigation, I love how the issues addressed hit a chord with one of the few things that are wrong with this world. I'm thinking I may have found a new favorite series, with Hard Evidence taking residence as my favorite book from the I-Team Series as of present. And I also find myself in a bit of a regretful frustration that I've met my book spending quota for this month already and will have to either wait it out or forgo my budgeting for the next book in this series.
And so now I just sigh and sit here in frustration as I tell myself I have plenty of other books that need to be finished -- books that I've already paid for an own and are just mocking me.
Edited 10/03/2014 with official review Scroll past updates to find it.
I just saw a rating of 4.5 stars pop up from one of the reviewers I fol...moreEdited 10/03/2014 with official review Scroll past updates to find it.
I just saw a rating of 4.5 stars pop up from one of the reviewers I follow.
Aaand.... so now we are counting down the days until the release of this book! September 17 seems like so MUCH longer than just the 20 days from this moment... well, 21 days, but I'm rounding down a little for my own benefit.
Oh man, I'm all fidgeting just waiting for the book release. I need this book so BADLY! RIGHT NOW!
If I thought I loved the first book... I think I love this second book just as much and am not even quite sure which one I loved more. It's safe to say I've found another favorite series to add to my list, and officially declaring another favorite author I will be following.
So many thoughts, so many "AWESOME!"s to put out there. And I'm not even sure how this will go. But if I had to highlight every line of this book that I personally loved, my book would look like a striped lollipop.
Going to try to put my thoughts together in a more timely fashion this time, although I'm not sure how well that will serve my review since my review of the last book was simply a big ol' four page declaration of how much I loved The Raven Boys. I doubt there will be much different for The Dream Thieves -- though there may be a lot of added gushing over Maggie Stiefvater, my newest girl crush of an author.
She is so freakin' brilliant!
Review to come... maybe. If I can stop gushing. And after I get some sleep.
I’m going to try to relate this review more with the actual book than my emotionally stimulated feelings of “OMG, this book is so freakin’ awesome, so let me tell you how awesome I think it is!” type of gushing. I’m sure I did enough of that in The Raven Boys to scare off hordes of the more emotionally stable population out there.
Aside from a typical introductory segue to make my posts look a little more structured and lengthy, honestly, I suck at structure. I’m not sure how I managed to make it through high school and college with my inability to format my essays properly, but I did and I must say, I’m not sure I ever really learned anything from any of my English classes about proper structure for a piece of written work.
So here I am with more random segways (yes, the above), and random thoughts on The Dream Thieves. Because, well, who cares about structure anyway?
Let’s start with the beginning though.
Before I started reading The Dream Thieves, I was worried about being overwhelmed. Sometimes, when I love a book so much that it hurts, and when I am in such high anticipation of the next book in a series that I can’t sleep, it’s a dangerous situation. Because as the time approached for the release date of The Dream Thieves, I began to have little panicky moments of the usual: “What if this book isn’t as good as the first one?” “What if this book is so good, but I don’t catch onto how good it is and I can’t do it any justice when I’m reading it?” “What if Book One had been the exception?” “What if I have too high expectations?” “What if I just don’t know what to do anymore?” “What if my dog eats my book review?”
“What if, what if, what if….?!!”
I’m ALWAYS like this with sequels to books that I personally loved and found fabulous (also for movies and Asian drama series as well; sequels can give me a heart attack easily with just BEING there). I’m always worried that the sequel or the second book won’t hold up to the first and that I’ll be disappointed.
So, I’m ecstatically delighted to announce (as many probably already have guessed) that this was definitely, absolutely NOT the case with The Dream Thieves. As I already mentioned: so many “AWESOME!”s to put out there.
I first realized one of the main reasons why I’d been loving The Raven Cycle series so much after about three chapters into this book. From the review of the first book, I had already mentioned how much I loved the characters, their interaction and their development. In this book, having paid more attention during my reading, I found another reason to love Maggie Stiefvater: her writing style is just so consistently witty and amazing. Let’s see, what did I call it in a note to myself?
Her writing borders on fantastical fairy tale meets whimsical, magical and mystical, with a side dish of natural sarcasm and dry humor to boot. And honestly, this is a type of dry humor I can appreciate because it’s not even in a laugh out loud, “you’ve gotta laugh at this particular scene” type of comedy. They are the little descriptors and analogies, one-liners and strange quips… They are strewn all over the place, every few sentences as a thought or an action or just as part of the ending of a paragraph. It’s like “serious, serious, snicker, emotional, serious, strange, serious” and then suddenly, all too smoothly and naturally, “insert O.o quip here” and it always makes me giggle or chuckle or backtrack just to reread it only to be impressed by how genius it was. And then we keep moving along the story like I hadn’t just been laughing at something snarky. They are very fine, little details that just fit into the writing effortlessly.
And I’m a sucker for attention to detail, that’s for sure. It’s one of those things where, if you aren’t really looking and you couldn’t really appreciate it; and if you’re looking at other parts of the story, you probably wouldn’t notice it at all and it won’t tickle you in the right ways.
The Dream Thieves is centered on Ronan Lynch -- a boy with a secret that we learn early on. He’s able to pull things from his dreams, tangible objects that just appear to him when he dreams about them. But aside from this little magic trick, there are even deeper, darker secrets about Ronan Lynch that he hides behind his anger and dark sarcasm.
I didn’t dislike any of the characters from the first book. Ronan had been a destructive bastard, a rich boy with a tendency to cause trouble and become antagonizing to everyone around him. But there had always been something about him that still drew me to like him for who he is -- dark, scathing humor and asshole personality all included. When I learned that the second book would be Ronan-centric, I was a little conflicted, because I’m sitting squarely in front of a Gansey pedestal. However, as I began to read The Dream Thieves, I realized that, despite being Ronan-centric, the telling of the book manages to capture so much more than just the base storyline.
Written in the third-person omniscient, we still get to see through the perspectives of each of the characters we fell in love with from the first book. In this, I believe is wherein lies a big success of this series. Because despite being a book about Ronan Lynch, it’s also a book that shows us the rest of the characters in varying degrees, smoothly tying everything up with Ronan’s journey.
So while we delve deeper into Ronan’s as well as the Lynch family’s secretive history, we’re also shown a lot of more reveals about the rest of the characters. Again, little moments that may not propel the main story, but manages to pick up significance in light of the surrounding actions.
Characters continue to develop and their circumstances all continue to tug at heartstrings. There are so many moments in this book that make you smile and laugh, moments that make you churn those logical thinking wheels, and even a lot of gripping moments that have you at the edge of your seat waiting for the fall out. And then there are heartbreaking moments as well.
So much happens in this book that, if not handled properly, the story would have gotten out of hand and confusing. But The Dream Thieves manages to make it work, because even as more mysteries begin to occur and more side tangents present themselves, the story only manages to become more exciting.
On a final note, I feel like the characters are definitely the driving force of this series, and especially of this particular book. They’re all so intriguing that, even with an antagonist like The Gray Man, or the minor characters at 300 Fox Way or the Orphan Girl in Ronan’s dreams, I’m drawn to them and their significance -- no one seems to be “just a background character” with no rhyme or reason. I even enjoyed seeing the interaction between Ronan and his brothers, which draws upon so much more understanding of Ronan and his behavior. And it’s great! They all have their own stories if given the time.
I loved the interaction between the five friends -- the Aglionby boys and Blue -- and found that, despite my hopeless romantic love, I appreciate that the romance unfolds so subtly with such care. It’s the friendships that I love the most: between Blue and Gansey, between Gansey and Ronan, between Gansey and Adam, between Ronan and Adam, and especially between Blue and Noah. There’s a different air about each of these pairings in the friendship, and then the atmosphere is made all the different when they all come together.
I’m wholeheartedly and completely in Gansey’s boat. That boy has a charm to him that makes it hard NOT to love him. I’m particularly biased because I’ve let my love of Gansey get a little out of control. So, of course, I’d love to see Gansey and Blue complete their OTP pairing soon, and as the romance slowly unfolded itself in this book, it came to me that I loved how it was such a sweet, yet quiet occurrence. The fact that they started off as friends first and bonded through various interactions and sweet little moments made it all the better. Because I enjoyed the friendships in this book (and the series so far) that the romance is honestly the last of my priorities concerning The Raven Cycle series.
After the first book, it didn’t bother me at all that the romance seemed to be heading in a different direction with Blue and Adam starting a somewhat relationship. Because compared to Gansey, even though I loved all of the characters, I loved Gansey more and so it didn’t matter to me whether or not he paired up with the girl in the end.
I’m at least glad to say that I’ve grown to love Blue more in this book than I had from Book One. She has a strange and quirky personality, but in this book, she proved that she’s also feisty and fiery and doesn’t let anyone walk on her at all. It’s something I appreciate in a female character since, too often in a lot of books (especially YAs), the girl is painted in a demure, doormat fashion, written for readers to pity and sympathize with. No, I prefer the Blue Sargents of the world where, even if there are moments when she is scared or even when she doesn’t know how to act, she still doesn’t just lay there and let people walk all over her.
The Dream Thieves is a very magical, well written, fun and witty adventure (that’s not quite an adventure) with great characters and an intriguing story. There are times when you find that perfect book that you can’t help but to completely fall in love with.
So it's not so much a retelling anymore now that we've established a whole new premise with Alyssa and it looks to be new adventures. I'm curious to s...moreSo it's not so much a retelling anymore now that we've established a whole new premise with Alyssa and it looks to be new adventures. I'm curious to see what'll happen since the first book wrapped up rather conclusively and nicely. Nonetheless, with a synopsis available now, I'm becoming even more excited about the release of the second book!(less)
2/4/2014 I wasn't as drawn into this one as I was for the first book, but I got hooked into it anyway as the story progressed. I loved it nonetheless,...more2/4/2014 I wasn't as drawn into this one as I was for the first book, but I got hooked into it anyway as the story progressed. I loved it nonetheless, and it turned out to be an excellent read for me.
A "Not Quite a Review" to come soon.
2/19/2014 I'm reminding myself of the "review" I had written for the first book in this series, The Archived:
"So much awesome I can't even begin to decide how much awesome there is!"
Yea. It wasn't the MOST well formulated review.
No doubt, I loved that book; though if asked about details, I'm not sure if I can give any concrete ones: I love the world built around The Archived, I love the characters running the entire show, and I love that the concept is different and unique from the common trendy YA story now-a-days.
It's been nearly a year since I finished the first book and few details had to gradually surface in my mind as I started reading this second book. It had me concerned that The Archived wasn't as memorable as I hyped it up to be. But eventually, I fell into the world of The Archived's story and began to enjoy The Unbound in the same fashion.
The Archived series has one of few things I am automatically drawn to: a hidden world and a main character who must live in secret of this hidden world without letting the outside world know a thing. These types of stories are just so much fun with so many possibilities.
If I loved The Archived with its almost perfect story, characters and world, then I'm totally in love with the series after finishing The Unbound. Liking The Unbound by itself, however... that might be a different feeling in itself. Let's just say that I loved the series of both The Archived and The Unbound collectively -- they fit well together. But by themselves, I lean more towards loving The Archived and merely liking The Unbound.
Yes. There are differences and there are reasons.
Instead of a 4.5 star rating I had initially given it after I finished reading it, I decided to give it a 4 star rating now after I've had time to digest the book a little more.
It was a fun book and it was good on its own terms, but it wasn't an entirely awesome ride; the first few chapters detailing MacKenzie's school life actually kind of bored me... and for the slightest moment, I got annoyed with her for some reason. I found myself wondering if this suddenly emo-drama queen was the same MacKenzie Bishop I remembered from The Archived (the kickass heroine hiding a kickass secret job while trying to overcome and deal with not so kickass tragic family issues).
The entire high school introductory portion fell a bit flat for me.
But then the mystery started, the plot reared its head, Wesley Ayers appeared in all of his Guyliner glory... And I remembered why I loved The Archived so much in the first place.
This review probably isn't much better than my review of the first book (even though it's admittedly much longer). It has few details and no summary (I don't really write professional, well thought-out reviews, honestly) and simply states a fact: Despite my initial qualms about the slowness in the beginning, this book was still such an excellent read!
So much so that this book is going onto my personal favorite's list. While I honestly loved the first book more than this second one, I don't deny that I loved the progress that the story line has made in The Unbound.
And now to wait out another year until a possible third book will come into existence. (less)
I maybe enjoyed this second book of the Graveyard Queen series a bit differently than I enjoyed the first book. The Kingdom had all the intriguing ele...moreI maybe enjoyed this second book of the Graveyard Queen series a bit differently than I enjoyed the first book. The Kingdom had all the intriguing elements of a ghostly, paranormal mystery; but at the same time, it kind of played off more in character development than it actually did in the mystery aspect. So, in a way, to me, this book felt more like a "bridging" novella (a long one at that) which will probably end up connecting The Restorer with The Prophet. Although, since I've yet to read The Prophet, maybe that assumption is too early to make.
Overall, I enjoyed this book. It wasn't the horror-fest that many would probably be expecting, and in a way, there was a rather monotonous telling that got me a little sidetracked. But upon reading further, I wanted to continue reading more.
Amelia is still intriguing as a character, while at the same time, she still doesn't stand out much. I doubt I'll recall much about her after I've finished with this series. The rest of the characters strike me as the same way -- interesting, but no one really stands out.
On a side note, one way to really kill the mystery excitement for me is to constantly have characters recite that all too familiar: "We don't like to talk about that." Yeah... so what do you talk about?
Anyway, nothing too overall exciting about this book, which was a bit of a disappointment since I'm enjoying it. We'll just have to see with the next book if there's going to be more excitement. For The Kingdom in general, I honestly already had the mystery figured out by the time I was a quarter of the way into it. Too many obvious clues were laid out that forced you to make those connections and so the the only thing you were anticipating was when Amelia would make those connections.(less)
March 29, 2013 I'm glancing at all the raving and the five stars and the first line of reviews that I don't want to read yet...
I NEED THIS BOOK NOW! Co...moreMarch 29, 2013 I'm glancing at all the raving and the five stars and the first line of reviews that I don't want to read yet...
I NEED THIS BOOK NOW! Counting down until it's official release in June... Can I whimper?
June 21, 2013
There's nothing more intense than reading a book and feeling all your emotions rise and fall with the characters as the story progresses. I have little to say about Siege and Storm only because, much like the first book, I couldn't formulate words outside of these particular thoughts:
"I have no words because this was so awesome!" and "Now I have to wait another year for the last book!"
I'm going to admit that the reading of the second book took a little longer than intended for two reasons:
1) I didn't want to read everything in one sitting and be left with that stupid empty void you get after finishing a great story. So I allowed other distractions to keep me at a steady reading pace, but every time I picked up that book, I just wanted to keep going until I finished and that whole "One more chapter then I'll go to sleep" mantra was really just standard hopeful drivel for my book reading marathon binges when I'm in love with the story I managed to get my hands on.
2) I won't deny that I might have let the expectations and my own hype of this book overwhelm me. A certain part of me was severely afraid that things would go wrong and I would end up disappointed. But contrary to that unfounded fear, book number two of the Grisha trilogy truly held up to all the expectations I'd put in place for it.
I truly have no words.
Or well, maybe I DO have a few.
The one negative I found is really my own personal bias. I'm hard-pressed to pay attention to things related to politics and war and so there was a section of the book where the war strategies and political controversies left me a little blah. But that's not to say that I didn't enjoy them or that it wasn't written well, because everything still progressed smoothly and wonderfully. I'm just a little less drawn to those things. In contrast, I had enjoyed Alina's growth into her powers and her journey of self-revelation in the first book a lot more.
Aside from that, everything else about Siege and Storm was nothing short of wonderful awesomeness. "Awesome" being the best way I could ever describe any book since I can't think of a better word for how much I loved it short of tossing around a lot of:
OMG, THIS BOOK WAS SO, SO AWESOME!!!!!!
But I'm a rather monotonous and laid back person, so we'll leave it at that (loud CAPS and many exclamations points and all).
Lastly, something I never got to do was review the first book since I finished it so quickly I never had time to put my thoughts together outside of those same few words in bold faced CAPS and exclamation points (see above).
But the one thing I wanted to make mention, which applies to both the first and second book, is the world that Leigh Bardugo has created in the Grisha trilogy. There's nothing I love more than being able to pick out background bits and pieces and actually see a truly formulated world without even trying. If you kick the main characters out of place, that world still stands on its own with its on histories and lore and cultures. This, in itself is one of the most amazing things that a truly talented author is able to do. Too many times do you read through a lot of books only to find that the foundation is based so much on the immediate story and the main characters that if all of that were gone, the world would probably cease to exist. But with a well-developed world, you could throw anyone into it and still have a whole new and different story to tell. In fact, you could pick and choose from a lot of the side or background characters and see their entire story vividly.
This is one of the things that I love finding out the most with a lot of authors I've come to love.
That being said, along with the excellently created characters, the story progression, the writing, and the story itself, everything seems to be falling into place with the Grisha trilogy. I'm not even sure how I'm going to last the next year until the finale is released, because I'm already feeling jittery.
Finally, if I loved the characters from the first book, I most definitely loved them even more with all this new development. Because these aren't static characters and their very human, ever-changing lives that show through in each subtle shift of the stories trajectory touches me. From Grisha, to royalty, to the Darkling as well as all the newest introductions, the world came together so cohesively that I rarely questioned the purposes of anyone at all. I loved the addition of Tamar and Tolya and the idea of rogue Grisha. It gave insight to human nature's rebellious instincts.
Alina's continued struggle with her own personal demons as well as her hopes were satisfyingly bitter sweet. The loneliness she felt as well as the echo of her connection with the Darkling was wonderful. I love this girl for her strength, but at the same time, my heart hurts whenever she seizes the opportunity to be less than a saint. Her only hope is that she knows when her thoughts have gone dark and familiarly sinister, and yet at the same time, the humanly instincts of greed allow her to give into her less than noble intentions.
Mal's conflicting desire to have purpose in his life, to remain by Alina's side, or to just give up his own hopes altogether really wrings the heart even more. If I thought he was just the lovelorn soldier pining after his first love with no other purpose from the first book, he really changed things around with a snarky yet charming personality in spite of his personal conflicts -- this boy has won my heart (but in his defense, he had very admittedly less scene-time in the first book than he did this time around). Even with little movement, he manages to tell you everything that's going on in his mind and makes your heart hurt for him at the same time, yet in some roller coaster instances, you continue to love him for who he is.
And the addition of Sturmhond was just icing on the cake. As much as I loathe his bipolarism, his many masks and personas, I loved his charm, his wit, his resourcefulness, and yes, even his calculating schemes. This guy was pure awesomeness!
However, I WILL not have him overshadowing Mal any longer! The boy may be a brooding ass, but I've grown to love him, oh so much! *sigh*
As Alina had put it to Mal, "Do you practice being wonderful?" Because I'm sure his charming loveliness CANNOT be anything less than an art.
Anyway, as always, what started off as a few words have become a longer post than intended. When will I ever learn that once I start charging into a review post, there is no way for me to keep it less than 1000 words?
And now, I'm off to that horrendously LOOOOONG wait. In the meantime, at least I know there will be plenty of other "OMG I NEED THAT NEXT BOOK NOW!!!!" options awaiting me within the next few months.
On a last note:
Mal:"I just pictured the Darkling being cornered by a sweaty duchess trying to have her way with him." Yes, Mal! This is why I love you so much! Witty, charming, and scandalous.
And on another end note, this is why I've decided that I love Leigh Bardugo equally as much:
Nikolai laughed. "Next time, bring a flask. Every time he changes his mind, take a sip."
I groaned. "I'd be passed out on the floor before the hour was up."
A drinking game! In the book itself! Legendary!(less)
This particular review will be short and sweet since I don't have much to say about it outside of the fact that I'm really impressed. To backtrack, wh...moreThis particular review will be short and sweet since I don't have much to say about it outside of the fact that I'm really impressed. To backtrack, when I first finished reading Divergent (book 1), I did not anticipate the following book as much as others might have. Divergent had a good story line, a good premise, great characters, good set-up, and some nice intensity to set up its dystopian grandeur to rival the Hunger Games world. But the execution of the story line was a little stifled and unbalanced. Divergent started off with a slight drag as it spent a lot of time building up the Dauntless initiation phase as well as Tris's growth from abandoning her previous faction and finding a place in her new faction. While it was all fun and enjoyable, it wasn't as emotionally rewarding as the Hunger Games fast-paced telling had been. But then we get into the latter half of Divergent and everything suddenly picks up speed and we feel rushed to find a good resolution to the first story arc. And so while I DID enjoy reading Divergent, it wasn't very impressive of a start.
HOWEVER, I didn't realize how much I was really anticipating the second book until I actually started reading it. What the first book lacked in depth, emotion, relatability, twists and the like... well, this second book made up for more than enough of what I hadn't been satisfied about before. It was like the author knew exactly what was left hanging from the first book (that I personally felt cheated on) and included all of it in wonderfully with Insurgent's creation.
The first book ended on such a fast-paced closing that there wasn't time to see into Tris's mind; but in the second book, we immediately delve into that exact psyche of hers to see how the aftermath of all that has happened is now affecting her. And so we get a chance to follow a more emotionally unstable heroine as she struggles with herself as well as with the world around her to find some sort of inner peace, and yet she never feels like she can get there. I especially enjoyed following through Tris's eyes as all of this happens to her, though there are moments where she gets quite mopey and you start to wonder where that spunky, stubborn, violent Tris Prior disappeared. While I DID appreciate that Tris's instability didn't always deter her perceptiveness and her determination, there were moments where I wondered whether she had been given too much credit by the author in trusting her own instincts and always being right about certain happenings.
The second book even gives us more interaction between friends, foes, family, and people of factions who have never interacted before. I like that we get to see more of the rest of the factions and live through the culture shock through Tris's eyes. There was more development in friendships that could have potentially shattered, and family ties that were supposedly strong, and even factions that were initially united. And then finally, we get to see what I'd been wondering about this strange dystopian society in the first place; (view spoiler)[a twist for the ending that tells us about the outside world which was never once mentioned in the first book. Here we get a small taste of what's to come in the next installment, a possibly more thorough explanation of why the society was built the way it has been for so long. The conspiracy of this entire, strange division among factions as well as the appearance of Divergent. And just as well, a new twist involving a family history lessen, maybe, about the Priors. (hide spoiler)] While a lot of it felt rather predictable as the ending neared, I still found it pretty well executed and a very smooth transition into the next book.
And so, unlike with my feelings after Divergent, I look forward to seeing what will come about in the next book (maybe a conclusion to the series?). Kudos to Veronica Roth -- even though I didn't quite take to the first book, this second book, Insurgent, was presented much more thrillingly and much more satisfactorily than the first one. It is nice that the books become progressively better rather than worse, but it was also great that the first book didn't entirely deflect the series from my radar anyway.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)