I first started this book about 5 years ago and then hit a really bad reading slump and never picked it up again. I'm glad I got back into it. MistborI first started this book about 5 years ago and then hit a really bad reading slump and never picked it up again. I'm glad I got back into it. Mistborn looks like the beginning of a really great series. The magic system is probably one of the more original in fantasy I've read in a while and I loved the way it worked, even if it took me a while to get used to the different metals and the Push/Pull concept, particularly in high action Mistborn scenes.
I also liked the characters a lot, especially the more secondary characters, which I hope to read more about in the following books. But my favorite was definitely Vin, whose personality and beliefs and fears evolved and changed as time and experiences shaped her past what her brother had taught her.
I also loved the small snippets of the original saviour's logbook, both at the end and during the chapters. It really helped shape the person who'd come before and I hope the following books explore a bit more about who this person was back before the Well of Ascension.
I do think the book may have dragged a bit and some plot points were basically footnotes in the end, not to mention the shifting POVs in the last chapters were disorienting - I can handle different POVs in a book but multiple ones in one chapter is a bit too much -, which is why this is a 4 star read. Looking forward to continuing the series. ...more
Rebel of the Sands is a quick, exciting read, well-written aside from an abuse of similes everywhere (and I mean everywhere!) and in a way manages toRebel of the Sands is a quick, exciting read, well-written aside from an abuse of similes everywhere (and I mean everywhere!) and in a way manages to avoid a few of the pit traps of the YA genre and dive right into others.
First issue avoided: the annoying, whiny protagonist. In this case, Amani is a likable protagonist; she's headstrong, yes, but she's also determined and courageous and she knows how to follow advice when given and what it takes to stay alive.
Second issue avoided (for now): love triangles! Nowhere in sight. As for the romance, sure, it's sorta cliched, there's sorta insta-attraction with our male protagonist but they do spend some time getting to know each other better before proclaiming love sonnets at each other.
Third issue avoided: girl on girl hate. Aside from a particular backstabbing cousin at one point, the author does avoid this trope I so hate. The girls in the book are baddass and summarily uninterested in fighting over boys, not when there's a country to save and a war to be fought. They each have their talents and personalities and they respect each other instead of hate-envying each other. Hopefully it continues to be this way in future books in the series.
I confess, though, my favorite part of the book was the first two thirds, give or take. The moment certain events unfolded and a certain camp was found and certain truths came to light, and our protagonist developed super special powers, I sort of began to be slightly less enthusiastic.
This not to say the rest of the book wasn't good - it was, the action was great, the characters as well (some of the aforementioned baddass girls come in at this point and they're great!), certain twists were pretty cool and unexpected, and I really enjoyed the story, but the moment Amani developed certain powers, no matter how cool they were, it stopped being an interesting adventure with a gun-slinging baddass girl and turned into superheroes in the desert sorta thing and I kind of wish there'd been less of that and more of normal human beings trying to fight a war for freedom and justice and, I guess love.
However, the above point was well foreshadowed. There a lot of little hints thrown into the story at various points, especially from well placed aspects of the culture and myths of this world in the narrative. In fact, the Middle Eastern mix of Western influence in the setting of this series is one aspect I was most interested in, and I'm looking forward to reading more about this world and its mythologies and histories, because it shows more thought and care for the setting than a more highly lauded first book in a YA series I read recently.
This turned out to be a long, rambly review, for which I apologise.
I've read the author wrote the first draft of this book when she was 16. I've alsoThis turned out to be a long, rambly review, for which I apologise.
I've read the author wrote the first draft of this book when she was 16. I've also read that this story was inspired by the idea of Cinderella and what it would have been if she'd been an assassin. Both of these facts would have warned me about this book had I learned of them before I bought it and they both justify why this reads like a teenager's Mary Sue romance fanfic, with better grammar but with the same lack of consistent characterization and plotting as plagued most stories written by teenage girls around the world (I know, I was one of them when I first started writing!). The problem is that this story had 10 years to be polished, improved, re-written, made something a lot more sound and logical, and it doesn't feel like it.
I'm not going to linger too much on all the issues I had with the story, because there wasn't much of it. At most this was 80% filler and 20% plot, except we shouldn't be mistaken that the story promised in the blurb of the book is at all the content of the book. It was only a tackled on idea that never got developed (most of the tests of the promised competition are glossed over and have all of one line dedicated to them at different points) because the only story here is a love triangle heavy version of a sort of Mean Girls in a lite-Fantasy setting but with a less compelling protagonist than Lindsey Lohan's character.
There was a LOT of filler in the book. If an editor worth its name had edited this book properly, they would have crossed off so many things. For example, one pattern I noticed was the author's love of lists. The sun glittered on the dew left on tree leaves? Let's enumerate all the beautiful colors possible. The protagonist loves dresses? Let's enumerate all the possible fabrics a dress can be made of. The protagonist just entered a room with a rack full of weapons? Let's waste time listing ALL of them. So much extraneous, useless detail. Let's also not talk about all the wasted time spent on useless events. Except, of course, this book is not about a plot being moved forward, but a teenage romance full of all sorts of tropes, like puppies and bonding over reading and candy and balls and dresses and...
But my major issue with this book was characterizations, especially of its heroine. There is a very large disconnect between what the author wants her protagonist to be and what she writes her to be. And it's incompatible. It doesn't make sense and I found I couldn't suspend my disbelief enough to believe what I was being told to believe and not shown how. So we are supposed to believe that a 17 year old (she's 18 at the beginning of the novel but she was captured and put to work as a slave one year previous) is the greatest Assassin in the world, notorious and feared. But our first impression of this great assassin is that she pays more attention to how attractive the men around her are and how shamefully dirty and unpretty she looks, while facing what she thinks is her upcoming death.
And all of this without irony.
There is a sort of cognitive dissonance between our protagonist's personality and the boast of her legend. The problem is not the fact that our protagonist loves books, plays the piano like she was born to it (where ever did she learn to do this in between all her assassinating training?), loves parties and dresses. Maybe the author wanted her to be a different kind of assassin.
And it could have worked if the author was better at characterization, if it was not for the way she demonstrates all of this in the most annoying personality possible, which is where the disconnect exists to her purported title of Greatest Assassin to Ever Live. Our protagonist is petty, vain, arrogant, frivolous, careless, idiotic, too given to immature whims and temper tantrums (the billiards scene is so laughably bad), judgmental of other women without even knowing them just because they're dismissive of her, as subtle as a door and with the survival instinct of a turnip (e.g. many people startle this most awesome of awesomest assassins in various situations; she'll eat anything left in her room regardless of there being a murderer assassinating all the contestants of the 'competition' she's in; and she does not seem to understand the idea of keeping a low profile -- this is a most awesome assassin, people, why would you need discretion and anonymity in your assassinating anyway??). She lacks any kind of discipline, which seems incompatible with her being such a well known assassin, including the memory she shares at one point about her training and how she was forced to break one hand to train with the opposite. How can someone who had to endure this kind of training be so... whiny and spoiled and act like such a childish little princess?
But most of all, she is a damn hypocrite.
She judges and hates the king as evil and condemn the deaths he brings about, but she IS, after all, an assassin. One who has killed people before. Does this make her such a good person? The thing is, I would have felt more sympathy for her if she demonstrated any kind of regret or fear or pain for the situation life placed her in, by having to survive as an assassin when her parents died. But she's not regretful. She's hailed as this great and noble soul by the narrative her author intends but what we're shown is that she enjoys being a assassin, she boasts about it, she wants everyone to know who she is and that she's not some random person in the competition, she's the very bestest assassin ever. And where does this make her a better person than Cain or the king or anyone she sees as monsters? Who did she think she was assassinating all those times? Only bad men? She makes such an issue about becoming the king's assassin and killing at his whim but she's killed at other people's whim before, including apparently two councilmen in the court of the king she despises. Who says she wasn't hired by the king through whatever boss she had to go assassinate some political rival? Hell, what does she think she was doing during whatever many years she spent building whatever reputation she supposedly had? Ridding the world of only the bad people? It hurts my mind.
Aside from this, there was also the lack of logic of anything. I won't go into detail on everything, other reviews have said much of what I felt about this book. One point at the end made me laugh though so I have to mention it. The king tells the winner of the competition (our awesomest heroine/assassin/ magical princess) that as part of their contract, if they get caught in the line of assassinating duty they're to deny any involvement with the king... who just held a rather public competition to choose an assassin to carry out his will? Denial of what exactly? There were even balls and parties where these Champions participated on, people knew, what kind of denial does the king think he can have about his involvement in whatever future assassinations will happen?
In the end, I did finish the book. I hate stopping even when the books are painful, though it was a chore the more ridiculous it got. And because I got taken by the hype surrounding this book (and the very pretty covers, I confess I am a sucker for those) I did buy the other books in the series so I feel compelled to see if the following books have improved in writing and characterization (hard to salvage in the case of our protagonist, though), considering Ms. Maas would have had time to better her craft in between and following the 10 years that passed since she was the 16-year old who first wrote the draft of this rather nonsensical Mary Sue romance.
Edit: Forgot to add that one of the few good things about this book was Chaol, who was such an audience surrogate, saying everything I was thinking. Pity the author ended up making him fall for Her Highness the Most Awesome of Assassins too. ...more