A lovely haunting story with great characters, Smoulder focuses on character development: self destruction, self awareness and understanding one’s plaA lovely haunting story with great characters, Smoulder focuses on character development: self destruction, self awareness and understanding one’s place in the world. The novel also deals with falling in love for the first time, defying boundaries that others place on you, and dealing with the loss of a loved one. I think this is a strong, refreshing book because of the way it deals with real life issues.
Daphne is an interesting protagonist because, despite being strong and capable, she has no idea how to deal on Earth. She also seems to lack compassion at times, especially when she expects Truman to help her find her brother and doesn’t take no for an answer. She matures throughout the story and realises her problems may not come first for everyone else, but in the beginning she did annoy me a fair bit. I am happy to say that Daphne grew on me.
Eragon’s plot is the standard fantasy story: the young protagonist discovers his world is not what he thinks it is. The discRead the full review here.
Eragon’s plot is the standard fantasy story: the young protagonist discovers his world is not what he thinks it is. The discovery of a dragon egg sets off a chain of events - causing Eragon to flee his village. To survive, he has to to take refuge with the Varden, those who oppose the oppressive reign of King Galbatorix, a Dragon Rider who betrayed his own and killed all the remaining dragons before taking over Alagaësia.
The relationship between Eragon and his dragon Saphira is powerful, and although I found both characters annoying at times, I think this was because their relationship is so realistic. They both make mistakes, and learn together to use their powers and negotiate the treacherous new political ground they have gained as the only dragon and Rider outside the influence of Galbatorix....more
A wonderful, gripping read that I tore through in under three hours. Shatter Me is a different kind of dystopian novel, setRead the full review here.
A wonderful, gripping read that I tore through in under three hours. Shatter Me is a different kind of dystopian novel, set some ten years after the collapse of human society due to climate change, fuel shortages etc. The story is riveting - starting with Juliette’s isolation and then slowly revealing the circumstances under which she was imprisoned. I think this is a great way of telling the story because it hooks the reader in.
Juliette is an interesting character because her isolation has made her borderline insane. She is deeply untrusting and closed off to the world (and to be honest I can’t blame her). Her disjointed thoughts and damaged thought process are effectively portrayed by alternating short, halting sentences with paragraph long sentences. Striked out sentences are also used to signify the thoughts that Juliette doesn’t want to have or doesn’t think she should have. It takes some time to get used to this writing style, but it’s worth it....more
The story started off very abruptly - in a cemetery with Silla trying blood magic for the first time. The background is thenRead the full review here.
The story started off very abruptly - in a cemetery with Silla trying blood magic for the first time. The background is then revealed slowly throughout the book, explaining how she ended up there. This is a great way to tell a story and it kept me engaged. Blood Magic is a convoluted story about a teenage girl dealing with her mother’s death, a boy coming to terms with his father’s remarriage, and an ancient secret which binds their families together. The supernatural elements are carefully intertwined with the emotional story.
The major characters, Silla and Nick were believable and realistic, considering what they had each been through. But I admit I was surprised at how they became obsessed with one another from the first sighting - I always find this creepy when it happens in books. The minor characters, on the other hand, left something to be desired. Silla’s friends were two dimensional and didn’t serve much purpose except to be witnesses to weird things. I feel there is a lot more potential for Nick’s father and step-mother which isn’t explored, and Nick’s hatred for his step mother is never explained either.
The best aspect of the book is undoubtedly the writing quality. There is something haunting and spooky about the way the book is written. The book has a poetic, lyrical feel to it, and I loved how Nick expressed feelings in haiku form (although this reminded me of Sam in Maggie Stiefvater’s Wolves of Mercy Falls series, who thought in song lyrics). Speaking of Stiefvater, I absolutely adored the mention of NARKOTIKA in Blood Magic, it’s very cute.
This is a wonderful book, with “all the blood and none of the vampires”. It will appeal to YA readers, who will able to relate to Silla’s experiences well. I will be eagerly anticipating the stand a lone companion being released in 2012....more
The story hooked me in from the first few pages; Llona explaining her need to remain unnoticed, her meeting a few new enrolmRead the full review here.
The story hooked me in from the first few pages; Llona explaining her need to remain unnoticed, her meeting a few new enrolments in school, and using her powers to diffuse a fight. The story progresses rapidly and reveals more about Llona’s past and her powers. The best part is that information is not conveyed through boring information dumps, but rather through stories and memories, making them interesting and easier to absorb.
While reading the book I had my own ideas about who the villain in the story was. Christian’s suspicious actions made me think he was trying to kill Llona. So I was very surprised when it turned out he was her Guardian, and while writing this review I realised this detail is revealed in the blurb. I feel it would be better if this wasn’t mentioned in the blurb since it heightens the anxiety....more
This is an entertaining novel with a new twist on vampire lore. Although the major plot developments were predictable, the sRead the full review here.
This is an entertaining novel with a new twist on vampire lore. Although the major plot developments were predictable, the story is well executed. Some of the laws in the vampire word were not clearly explained, but I found the glossary at the back of the book to be helpful in this regard. However, there were too many far fetched revelations at the end of the book, which were probably added to set up the story in the sequels.
Chrysabelle is refreshing as a kick ass female protagonist who is trained in battle and can hold her own against the monsters of the night. She is smart and witty, and I enjoyed her narration of the story because of her honest opinions. Her inexperience in romantic matters is endearing, especially when she misinterprets the reactions she provokes from those around her. On the other hand, Malkolm is wonderfully realised as a tortured vampire with a unique curse that not only kills every being he drinks from and returns their ghost to haunt him. His human past and memories make him very different from most vampires in literature and easy to sympathise with....more
An interesting and action packed book, Flesh and Blood is a good follow up to Blood Rights. The story is engaging and I likeRead the full review here.
An interesting and action packed book, Flesh and Blood is a good follow up to Blood Rights. The story is engaging and I liked the growth of the main character, Chrysabelle. I also enjoyed seeing her and Malkolm deal with the effects of the breaking of the covenant. There are also mysterious forces killing off fringe vampires, and Tatiana is out for revenge since losing the Ring of Sorrows. The stakes (ha!) are higher in this book and the sense of danger was clear on every page.
I think the introduction of the Kubai Mata (vampire hunters) is only there to allow for a new male love interest for Chrysabelle. I found this very annoying because I don’t believe the man in question actually added anything to the story - he was just there to cause tension in Chrysabelle and Malkolm’s already unstable relationship. While it is valid to explore Chrysabelle’s choice between a living, breathing human with supernatural powers, and a vampire, it reminded me too much of Twilight. Like the last book, the plot in this book seems very formulaic - in this case, adding a love triangle simply because most other YA trilogies have them too. ...more
The narrator of the story, Sydney, has been trained from a young age to become an Alchemist and missed out on a ‘normal’ chiRead the full review here.
The narrator of the story, Sydney, has been trained from a young age to become an Alchemist and missed out on a ‘normal’ childhood. She is socially awkward and frequently misses or misinterprets social cues, providing a good source of humour in the book. However, Sydney parrots the Alchemists’ beliefs about vampires even though she has seen that they are not all evil. She is also shallow, ego-centric and annoying at the start, but grows into a mature character throughout the book.
I found the Alchemists as a group to be some of the most repugnant people I have had the misfortune to read about. They are extremely narrow-minded and and make many comments which in any other context would be considered racist. Sydney even checks to see if a bottle of water is still sealed when a vampire hands it to her. If they were portrayed as evil, it would have been easier to handle, but it was difficult for me to read that vampires are unnatural and evil after reading six books narrated predominately by vampires. This aspect of the book really upset me and is really the only negative aspect I came across.
The best thing about a spin off series is that it allows for a deeper exploration of characters who only had a minor role in the original. Adrian is, as usual, a highly controversial character. You either love him or hate him - I found his self pity and depression pathetic, but when the depth of his feelings for Rose were revealed I found myself feeling very sorry for him. Although I am firmly on Team Dimitri, I hope there is a happy ending in the works for Adrian. Having loved Eddie from very early on in the VA series, I enjoyed seeing him grow as a character in this book. He certainly has a lot of potential....more
By becoming the face of the rebellion against the Capitol, Katniss loses power over her own life in MockRead the full review here.
By becoming the face of the rebellion against the Capitol, Katniss loses power over her own life in Mockingjay. She essentially becomes a puppet of the movement - shooting propaganda videos and never going to the front lines of the battle. Initially I found this very annoying, but I realised that the face of the rebellion cannot be killed or harmed lest the war effort loses momentum. Katniss does participate in the action a few times, but only by disobeying the orders given to her by others, and these are some of the best parts of the novel.
I find it ridiculous that Katniss is still swinging between Gale and Peeta in terms of romantic interest. Instead of deciding between them and sticking to it, she strings Gale along while harbouring feelings for Peeta, and hurts both of them in the process. The moment she started choosing Gale only when she deemed Peeta unattainable, Katniss should have realised her true feelings. She is never given an opportunity to make up her mind either - one of them leaves her and she decides to be with the other. A poor ending to a very promising romance story I think.
The remaining victors of the Hunger Games are, at one point, required to vote on whether to force the children in the Capitol to face off in the arena. It seems that Katniss’ view counts the most, and she says YES. This seems completely contradictory as she, and the other victors, know first hand what it is like to be punished for their ancestor’s mistakes. Why would she, or any other victor, force other innocent children to go through the horrors they went through? Wasn’t the whole point of rebellion to stop the barbaric Hunger Games? I found this scene to be completely contradictory to the message of the rest of the series....more
As the middle book in the series, I was immensely gratified that Catching Fire does not revolve around Katniss Everdeen’s roRead the full review here.
As the middle book in the series, I was immensely gratified that Catching Fire does not revolve around Katniss Everdeen’s romantic life. As expected, it is extremely difficult for her to adjust to ‘normal’ life after her harrowing experiences. It is also clear that the President of Panem will not let her act of rebellion go unpunished. There is a love triangle, but I admire Katniss because she admits that romance is the very last thing on her mind with her family and friends in danger.
The most powerful aspect of the story are the brutal nightmares that plague Katniss. The Katniss in Catching Fire is very different from the Katniss of The Hunger Games. She is recovering from unimaginable horrors, and those experiences colour her actions throughout the novel. She is no less strong, nor like-able, in this book, but there is a new fragility to her, due to psychological trauma, that makes her all the more realistic as a character.
The plot of this book is amazing, twisting and turning in unpredictable ways. The biggest event in the book was so unexpected that it is entirely possible I stopped breathing when it was revealed. All the plot twists do not distract from what is really at stake: friends and loved ones who can be hurt by the Capitol as punishment for rebellion. ...more
This book is exactly like reading about the Reality Show from Hell. It was gripping and enthralling, and I read it in one siRead the full review here.
This book is exactly like reading about the Reality Show from Hell. It was gripping and enthralling, and I read it in one sitting. The story hooked me from the very first chapter, and I found myself getting more and more engrossed in Collin’s world the longer I read. In particular, once the Games had began it became impossible to put the book down because I felt so emotionally attached to Katniss and wanted to see her survive.
The descriptions of Katniss’ everyday life, family and friends set up the stakes very early on. Throughout the grueling events of the Game, it is clear to the reader what Katniss stands to lose if she does not survive. The deaths of the other participants are somewhat gruesome to read, but Collins handles the situation with delicacy and never fails to remind the reader that is it not acceptable for children to die in this manner. Katniss’ realisation that the Game simply allows for the murder of 23 children is a powerful one, as it brings to light the unfairness and brutality of the world she lives in. Collins is a masterful writer who knows how to spin a wonderful tale of survival in desperate conditions, while examining controversial issues....more
A wonderful climax to a spellbinding trilogy, The High Lord lived up to all my expectations. It is a great culmination of SoRead the full review here.
A wonderful climax to a spellbinding trilogy, The High Lord lived up to all my expectations. It is a great culmination of Sonea’s adventures as the only slum dweller to be accepted into the ranks of the Magician’s Guild. Canavan’s storytelling is brilliant and makes it easy for readers to become emotionally invested in her characters. I especially loved Ceryani’s role in this novel, as it seemed very fitting to have Sonea’s childhood friend involved in the dangers she faces.
I feel the best aspect of the book is undoubtably the character development of Sonea and High Lord Akkarin. They both become highly interesting characters, and as Akkarin’s past is revealed, it becomes clear that he the person we believe him to be. Lord Dannyl’s journey to accept both himself and others was also enlightening to read. It is amazing that Canavan explores issues such as sexuality and morality so subtly that the novel has no preachy qualities about it.
If you have not read Trudi Canavan’s The Black Magician Trilogy then you are really missing out. Sonea’s adventures are wonderful to read about the world that Canavan has created is great to escape into. ...more
The Novice follows immediately from The Magician’s Guild with Sonea’s acceptance into the ranks of the Guild. She strugglesRead the full review here.
The Novice follows immediately from The Magician’s Guild with Sonea’s acceptance into the ranks of the Guild. She struggles to find her place among the other novices who are sourced from the influential Houses of Imardin. One student in particular, Regin, takes exception to Sonea’s skills in magic and attempts to have her expelled. The level of bullying in the book was surprising but realistic in nature - it was shielded from teachers and encouraged by other novices. I felt Sonea’s pain keenly and understand her desire to remain anonymous and unwillingness to seek the help of teachers who also judge her on her background.
The promotion of Lord Dannyl to Second Guild Ambassador to Elyne allows the reader to experience other cultures in Canavan’s world. The people Dannyl meets are many and varied, and I found the depiction of other cities very interesting. I looked forward to the chapters narrated by him because of the insight he had into the politics of the Guild, and his musings helped me understand Sonea’s experiences even though Dannyl wasn’t physically with her. The Ambassador’s personal journey and realisation of self was also a wonderful addition to the plot that I enjoyed reading....more
This is a light, entertaining book that I enjoyed reading. The action takes place mainly in the slums of Kyralia and the MagRead the full review here.
This is a light, entertaining book that I enjoyed reading. The action takes place mainly in the slums of Kyralia and the Magician’s Guild, both of which were wonderfully realised. While there wasn’t a strong sense of place in the book because only the two of these places was described in any great detail, the slums and Guild allowed a contrast to be established between the low and high status societies in the city. This was pivotal to the plot of the book, so I was not disappointed at the lack of detail about the world external to the two places.
In contrast, I found the pace of the story to be entirely too slow. Sonea’s attempts to evade the Guild as they searched for her were gripping at first, but quickly became monotonous as it dragged on. Just as I began to think that perhaps Canavan was taking us in direction where Sonea would not be captured at all, it became clear that she would die without the assistance of the Guild. I felt the search for her could have been confined to a few chapters without taking anything away from the plot. The pace picked up once she was found by the magicians, and I enjoyed seeing her slowly open up to the Magicians and allow them to help her. ...more
In Prized, the author transplants the heroine Gaia into a new society which is completely different fromRead the full review here.
In Prized, the author transplants the heroine Gaia into a new society which is completely different from the setting of the first book. Sylum has climate change survived by becoming a matriarchal society surviving on marshland north of the Enclave. A mysterious genetic defect has caused an imbalance in the number of males and females being born in Sylum, resulting in the men outnumbering the women 9:1. The matriarchal nature of the society means that 90% of the population does not get to vote. Sylum, quite frankly, scared me. The imbalance of the sexes has caused the citizens of Sylum to only allow children to be born to traditional, nuclear families, punish abortion by death, outlaw any form of physical contact between non-married couples and prize female babies above all else. This completely foreign world allows the author to examine some controversial issues about feminism, slavery and basic human rights.
The character development in the book is at first glance unsatisfying. After standing up to the Enclave and having a strong moral compass in Birthmarked, Gaia becomes a weak, submissive character in Prized. The interaction between Gaia and the brothers Peter and Will was cliche at best, with both acting as foils for Leon, the hero of the last book. The growth of Leon was also very confusing, with the darker side of his character, which was hinted at in Birthmarked, coming through strongly in this book. However, once I had finished the novel I felt I understood the motivations behind the characters and their growth.
There were three love interests in this novel, creating a 'love square'. Normally the introduction of a second love interest in the story to test the love of the hero and heroine has always irked me, because the heroine it usually makes no sense. However, in this society where women are few and far between, it makes sense that Gaia, being a smart, strong woman, would have more than one suitor. The way she handles the men is immature and although Gaia is only sixteen and acts according to her age and experience, I found myself wanting to slap her at times because of her naivety....more
I found the book to be an easy read which raised questions about current lifestyles in the western world and the scientific,Read the full review here.
I found the book to be an easy read which raised questions about current lifestyles in the western world and the scientific, political and social effect a climate change crisis could mitigate. Gaia’s world on the edge of the Enclave is sheltered and she believes that those inside the walled city are justified in withholding commodities such as electricity, water and education from those living outside. Every month, three babies per midwife are allowed to advance into the walled city for a better life. She is accepting of this situation until the capture of her parents by the Enclave, which acts as a catalyst to make her question the very foundation of her society.
Gaia is a very strong character who I liked very much. Her actions are always planned, her feelings are clear, and I think she is one of the better heroines in YA fiction today. Her childhood was very happy and her parents have done an admirable job in raising a child who is socially conscious and values morality. Even Gaia’s romantic experiences are guided by her sense of right and wrong. The progression of her feelings for Leon are realistic, and occur for all the right reasons, with the couple beginning to understand one another on a deep emotional level. ...more
The second book in The Rain wilds Chronicles continues the journey of a small company of humans and dragons in search of a lRead the full review here.
The second book in The Rain wilds Chronicles continues the journey of a small company of humans and dragons in search of a lost city. This book demands that both humans and dragons learn from one another and overcome their difficulties. The dragons, born disfigured and unable to hunt and fly, rediscover what it means to be a dragon. Many of the dragons and keepers bond strongly throughout the novel, and it is only Sintara who continues to be self-centred. Sintara’s refusal to bond with her keeper and continued arrogance becomes boring quickly.
The humans on the journey grow through their relationships with one another. Rain Wilder Thymara is afraid to have relationships with men she admires because of the physical defects which make her, and her fellow dragon keepers, outcasts in the Rain Wilds society. I admired her continual strength and self confidence, and her refusal to let others make decisions for her. The character development of Alise is centred around dealing with accepting the nature of her relationship with her husband. I found her to be a much more enjoyable to read once she took her life into her own hands.
In contrast to the previous book, the end of Dragon Haven was satisfying and although it left room to continue the story in the future, the plot line gave closure. Robin Hobb’s world building skills, trademark character development and unique portrayal of the coming age of a group of malformed dragons make this novel a delight to read. Her multi-faceted characters and twisting plot take you right into the world she creates. The slow revelation of the secrets of dragon magic and the connection between humans, Elderlings and dragons was satisfying and answered many of my questions while leaving some territory unexplored for the next book. ...more
As usual, Hobb's characterisation is absolutely flawless in this novel. The story is primarily told through Sintara, a dragoRead the full review here.
As usual, Hobb's characterisation is absolutely flawless in this novel. The story is primarily told through Sintara, a dragon who cannot fly, and Thymara, a Rain Wilds girl who was allowed to survive despite being born with scales and claws. Interspersed are the view points of Alisa, a Trader-born woman in an unhappy marriage, her childhood friend Sedric, and the captain who is ferrying them on the Rain Wilds River, Leftrin. These characters are so wonderfully described that I never dreaded a change in point-of-view. I feel that they grew in predictable ways through the course of the story, and the only negative point is that I was never surprised by any of the major developments in the novel.
I have always found Hobb's level of world-building impressive, and this book did not disappoint. The descriptions were vivid and rich in detail and I absolutely loved it. The story is mainly set in the river valley that used to be the dragon's breeding ground, where the dragons have not visited for generations, and has become swampland, marsh and rain forest in the intervening years. Humans live in the trees and have discovered ruined Elderling cities, but they do not understand the things they find there. The level of thought into the ecology of a world is rarely seen in fantastic literature, and makes this book a thought provoking read.
The most annoying aspect of the novel is that it it does not have a conclusion. The story is set up very slowly and the journey of the dragons and their keepers only begins half way through the book. The novel is paced as though it is a much larger book, and comes to an abrupt halt. The lack of conflict (and its subsequent resolution) left me disappointed. I would suggest that this book should not be read unless its sequel is close at hand....more
This is a wonderfully woven tale that centres on the politics in the Emperor's court. The story is told from the view of fouRead the full review here.
This is a wonderfully woven tale that centres on the politics in the Emperor's court. The story is told from the view of four major characters: Prince Sarmin, who has been imprisoned all his life as insurance in case his brother, Emperor Beyon, leaves no heir; Mesema, a plains-woman from the north and Sarmin's intended bride; Tuvaini, the High Vizier, and Eyul, the titular Emperor's Knife (the royal assassin). These four characters are very well written and drive the story superbly. In particular, Tuvaini and Eyul are conflicted men with ambiguous morality, and this makes them the most interesting characters. In contrast, Sarmin and Mesema are genuinely good people who struggle to keep abreast of court intrigue, but are powerful in their own ways.
At less than 400 pages this novel is short for a fantasy novel of such large scope. It is heavily driven by its characters and was enjoyable to read. However, I feel that many important aspects have been left out for the sake of brevity - and the reading experience would have been much more enjoyable if more time was taken to explain a few aspects. The system of magic - the Pattern - is unexplained throughout the whole novel. The wielder is himself the conduit through which magic enters the world, but the manipulation of the Pattern is not explained, and it is unclear why the Pattern is such a bad thing after all. It requires blood sacrifice of some kind, but it seems the Pattern Master controls who dies - and thus the evil is not the magic itself but the wielder. And yet those affected by the Pattern are killed by law because they can be used by the Pattern Master - an unknown man who controls the Empire through obscure magic.
All of the intimate encounters in the book came across as very rushed and somewhat lacking in emotion. For example, Eyul discusses treason against the Emperor with the young mage he is travelling with (and is attracted to), when they are suddenly overcome with passion. Immediately afterwards, however, the pair continue their discussion of treason as though nothing occurred. Mesema's experiences are similarly disjointed; she admits she loves her fellow plains-man Banreh and has feelings towards Sarmin but feels intimidated by Beyon. And yet when he makes advances towards her she willingly accepts and loses her virginity to the Emperor. For a novel which is driven by its characters, I found the intimacy between characters was not in keeping with their natures, and feel that if the scenes were cut down in the editing process, then the novel would have been better them. ...more
Nora's ability to get into dangerous situations without trying is yet again evident. Nora discovers her moRead the full review here.
Nora's ability to get into dangerous situations without trying is yet again evident. Nora discovers her mother is dating Hank Millar, the father of her nemesis Marcie, and is understandably very upset. However, her childish behaviour annoys me - she attempts to walk home after a dinner with Hank, recognising it is dangerous but continuing anyway. In a trademark unrealistic plot twist - Nora happens across a group of fallen angels terrorising a Nephil. A mysterious character named Jev (whom the reader knows to be Patch) appears and saves her.
The events that follow this clumsy reintroduction of the fallen angel world are remarkable similar to the first book of the series. Despite believing Jev is dangerous Nora begins to trust him and rely on him to save her in dangerous situations. She begins to have feelings to Jev, but is confused when she learns that she was dating a mysterious boy named Patch before her abduction. Nora's inability to make the connection between Patch and Jev made me very frustrated. However, there were some very nice moments when dialogue from the first book between Patch and Nora was repeated - adding a sense of sweetness to their renewed courtship.
Due to Nora's amnesia, her mother and and best friend Vee attempt to conceal Nora's past with Patch. I thought this was a great plot device with a lot of potential. Nora's mother kept mentioning a man who wore all black as a possible kidnapper/stalker, and it took Nora a long time to realise that her mother was describing someone specific rather than generally guessing. Once she found out about Patch, Nora was understandably upset at Vee for keeping the secret from her. I found Vee's comment about Patch ruining Nora's life since she met him hypocritical since she herself has dated dangerous boys in the past. Otherwise this was a well executed plot device which I enjoyed. ...more
The scope of this novel is huge: an in depth study of power, examination of the difference in the psychology of a ‘natural-bRead the full review here.
The scope of this novel is huge: an in depth study of power, examination of the difference in the psychology of a ‘natural-born’ person and that of a manufactured mind, the story of a ruthless genius, her death and subsequent cloning, and the experiences of the clone herself, who is intended to replace the greatest mind in history and succeeds more completely than anticipated. The large scope makes the novel clunky in some places, but for the most part it is very engaging. Things are infinitely more interesting once the second Ariane has been born. The politics a sometimes dry, but moves the narrative along very effectively.
The relationship between the azi - artificially created beings who learn everything through ‘tape’ and have an artificial psychology called a ‘psychset’ - and natural born humans is examined in great detail. Sometimes the azi are no better than chattels, other times they are trusted fiends and even lovers, but in everything it is shown that azi have no choice - they are programmed to make their Supervisors happy. The plight of the azi was extremely disturbing to read; they have no adaptive skills and suffer deep depression when anything unexpected occurs - requiring extensive tape sessions to convince them that everything is alright. Although most characters in the book consider azi human, the question of humanity and what it means is a point of discussion between Justin and his azi Grant, with some surprising insights into human psychology. ...more
I am reviewing Divergent after reading it for the second time, and I have to say it was even better than the first time I read it! Last year I was reaI am reviewing Divergent after reading it for the second time, and I have to say it was even better than the first time I read it! Last year I was really excited and raced to finish it so I could find out what happens. This time, a large part of that urgency was gone and I was able to enjoy the book slowly. I picked up on a lot of small details and nuances in the character’s interactions that I had missed previously.
Divergent is an explosive read. It’s incredibly well paced, but this doesn’t stop Roth from fleshing out detailed and deep characters, having a killer plot line, and creating a vivid and believable dystopian Chicago. The setting is well described and I always feel I’m right there with Tris, and the social structure is clear and makes sense. Initially I felt that defining human character with five broad traits is a bit ambitious, but Roth makes it work, and as the book progresses it becomes clear that the point of the story is that it is NOT possible.
There are so many great things about this book, but I feel my favourite are the characters. Tris is immediately relatable from the first page - she is strong and fierce, but this does not alienate the reader because she is also realistic and admits all her vulnerabilities. Since the story is told from her perspective, we get to examine her thought processes, but because she is incredibly perceptive and empathetic, this doesn’t take away from the reader’s experience of the other characters. My other favourite characters are Four (again, an immediately likeable character, and not at all like the usual smug, hot-as-hell YA hero) and Christina (a genuine friend who is grounded in reality and, unlike many other YA “best friends” neither trails behind Tris like a side-kick nor treats her like a charity case).
I recommend Divergent to everyone I talk to. Actually, more accurately, I always find ways to bring it in conversation so I can recommend it to people. Dystopian young adult at its best, Divergent will have you begging for more. Lucky, since the sequel, Insurgent, was released on the 1st of May.
I loved this book, the premise had me hooked the moment I read it. The world that Brett has created is incredible to read about, richly detailed and fI loved this book, the premise had me hooked the moment I read it. The world that Brett has created is incredible to read about, richly detailed and full of wonderful landscapes, and its an absolute pleasure to read about it. The humans in The Painted Man are forced to live out their lives in the daylight hours and fear the coming of night. Magical wards protect the people within their houses at night. The return of the demons, after an absence of seven thousand years during which Science reigned, has brought Magic back into the forefront of the world, but much of it has been lost, in particular, the legendary fighting wards.
The story is told from the points of view of three characters: Arlen, Leesha and Rojer, whose stories are told in alternating four-chapter blocks. Instead of following them continuously the book is split up into sections that span a certain number of years, so we see the characters at various stages of life. Each character beings something unique to the story: Arlen his strength, Leesha her compassion, and Rojer his naivety. The different points of view precipitate the development of the story, and the three view points only merge at the end of the book. The transitions between them are easily followed and progress well.
There is a lot to love about Peter V. Brett’s debut novel, and he has definitely hooked me for the next two books in his trilogy. The Painted Man has all the makings of a great fantasy and will be enjoyed by masters of the genre and new comers alike. I have the second book, The Desert Spear, in hand and plan to read it soon.
I read the Vampire Academy series a while ago, but am doing a re-read with Belle, Bree and Mands. Here are my responses to the questions (they're spoiI read the Vampire Academy series a while ago, but am doing a re-read with Belle, Bree and Mands. Here are my responses to the questions (they're spoilers!):
1. What was your experience reading Vampire Academy for the first time? How did you get into it, and what did you think about it?
I read Twilight for the first time right around the time Breaking Dawn came out - I read a book a day and finished them all in the first 4 days of my uni holidays. So I hit the bookstores looking for similar reads, and I found Vampire Academy. I think I also bought the first four books together, binge read them, and then had to wait for books 5 and 6 to come out.
2. What did you think of it upon rereading it?
I still liked it!! It was good to get back to where it all started, but it’s really weird to read the book knowing how everything changes, especially by the time you get through the Bloodlines books as well.
3. What was your reaction to the characters and did it change from the first time you read it?
I loved Lissa and Christian! Seeing them again was awesome.
Before I began, I was convinced that I love Rose. I remember that my review of the first two Bloodlines books are heavily focussed on how much I don’t like Sydney. So it surprised me to find that I kind of disliked Rose upon re-reading VA. I remember Rose as the Rose from Last Sacrifice, but Rose in VA is extremely selfish and impetuous. She’s brash, she doesn’t really care about anyone else, and she treats Lissa like she’s really dumb or something.
4. What did you think of the relationships in the novel - Rose and Dimitri, Rose and Lissa etc?
I really liked Dimitri, but this time around I was disappointed at how obvious he makes his feelings for Rose. Not that I blame him, but he’s her TEACHER. I think I’m getting older and seeing things in a new light!
Also, Rose treats Lissa like a child. There’s a lot of love there, but very little respect (I feel). Rose basically makes decisions for Lissa and is completely over-protective. I felt uncomfortable with how Rose kept important details about her powers and her past from Lissa to “protect” her. It makes me realise that a lot of the hate surrounding Lissa (to do with how she’s “weak” or “useless” or a “bitch”) probably has to do with how Rose thinks of her.
5. Do you think you’d feel differently about the book if you read it for the first time now?
I think I’d like it less. When I read the first time I was caught up in Rose’s story, but there’s actually a lot in this book that’s just plain wrong. Rose taking Lissa away from the school is the STUPIDEST decision she could have made, the furor over the blood-drinking seems juvenile now, as do her interactions with Mia.
It’s also not obvious from reading this book that things are going to get as awesome, and as dark, as they eventually do.
Finally, I read this book with the movie’s tone in mind - many folk defend the movie by saying the first book is lighter than the others. And yes, it is, but I think the book still carries a lot of gravitas despite some juvenile seeming scenes.
Sometimes, but rarely, novels come along with amazing new ideas that sweep readers away. The Black Prism is one such book. It features a great plot, iSometimes, but rarely, novels come along with amazing new ideas that sweep readers away. The Black Prism is one such book. It features a great plot, intricate with great detail but still easy to follow; masterful world building (with one of the coolest magic systems I’ve ever read about) and believable, deep characters that I loved. Brent Weeks has created a vivid world with a colour/light spectrum based magic system which rocks my socks! He explains his elaborate magic system well and I never felt confused about it despite all the details.
The characters are amazing in this book. One of the best things about Brent Weeks’ writing is that his female characters are always as relevant, as strong and as vital as his male characters. I developed a soft spot for the Prism and his son Kip, and cheered for Kariss and Liv. The depths of the relationships between the characters amazes me, the secrets that they keep from one another and their motivations for doing so are so real that I completely sympathise with them.
The story is told from many perspectives and this lends depth to the narrative and balances it out. Sometimes this can be confusing for readers, but in this book it is perfect. Every time I thought I had figured out what was happening in the story, Brent Weeks pulled out a twist that left me reeling. This isn’t a predictable book - it’s epic in its scope and wonderfully crafted.
It was great for me to finally read The Black Prism after buying it the day it came out and then putting it off because I KNEW I would want the other books in the trilogy right after I finished this one. Then I caved in! I was right though - I finished this book and I really wanted The Blinding Knife in my hands, at that moment! If you love fantasy and you haven’t read any of Brent’s books, then you are seriously missing out on something awesome.
Brandon Sanderson never fails to deliver on amazing world building and I was, as usual, astounded by the level of detail heRead the full review here.
Brandon Sanderson never fails to deliver on amazing world building and I was, as usual, astounded by the level of detail he puts into his writing. Everything, including the speech, mannerisms and military styles of the kingdoms is meticulously described and self consistent. The world is rich in detail - I especially love the way that the destructive high-storms have shaped the people of Roshar such that ‘storm’ is an expletive used instead of the F word. The wonderful world building is backed up by an amazing plot line.
The first half of the novel, while great, is used to set up the story for ten novels. This makes it sometimes information heavy - but Sanderson has used maps, illustrations and quotes in his unique way to make the history of Roshar interesting and relevant to the reader. Many questions have been raised in the first half, and while most are answered in the second half, the book finishes with so many new mysteries that I feel I can’t wait 12 months for the sequel.
The Way of Kings is written in three parts, with interludes from other characters in between. There seem to be ten narrating characters in total, which leads me to conclude that perhaps each of the ten books will focus primarily on the journey of one of them, as The Way of Kings focuses on Kaladin. The growth of the characters was my favourite part of the book. Kaladin’s apathy and self pity and Shallan’s constant bemoaning of her fate really annoyed me initially. But as they grew and found themselves, I quickly decided they were my favourite characters. ...more