**spoiler alert** Shatter Me was one of the most hyped up novels of 2011. Not only was it sold to HarperCollins, one of the big folk in publishing, bu...more**spoiler alert** Shatter Me was one of the most hyped up novels of 2011. Not only was it sold to HarperCollins, one of the big folk in publishing, but a movie deal was also made. And the big deal to me was that Tahereh Mafi was a debut author. So when I opened this book, I expected amazing writing. Spectacular writing, in fact.
And I have to say that there was spectacular writing that blew me away.
Juliette is a 17 year-old girl. She's been abused all her life and she loves words and she's a danger to society but really she's vulnerable and afraid and she needs someone to lean on. We read her thoughts, long, rambling streams of them that show us how unsure she is of her own identity. She sometimes thinks things that reveal her inner self but she has to conceal them because her internal censor tells her it's not what she's meant to be thinking. And by the end of the novel, she's grown into a stronger person, and she can finally put behind a little of the part of her that tells her she's worthless. Because she has power. Because she is more than human.
Shatter Me is a riveting read. The writing completely sucked me in, but I thought that there were a tad too many strikethroughs in the first few chapters of the story. And I loved it, but I do have to dock a star for the following (there is a hugely spoiler-y part in white. But otherwise it's safe to read):
Juliette is, as the synopsis puts it, a tortured soul. The moment she is released from the asylum she seems to eye up every single male in the story and talk about how awesome they look/act/feel. It's a little inappropriate. I mean, what sort of girl admires a guy who kills people in front of her and locks her up? Not only does she ogle admire Kenji and Adam, but also Warner. Warner! I can't get over it. *goes off to cry in a corner*
Secondly, it seems too too too too convenient that both Adam AND Warner--polar opposites in the story--can touch Juliette. I'm guessing it's some gene thing, but still. It's too convenient for me. *tears hair out*
But all this aside, Shatter Me is amazing. Tahereh Mafi does a brilliant job of portraying a 17 year-old, unsure of what she is/what she wants to be/who she is/how to come to terms with her past. It was unique. Beautiful. Spectacular. Four stars for a great read.(less)
Basically, this review is a bit of a book-bash. So if you loved Matched and can't bear to see it criticised, step away slowly now. I also want to ment...moreBasically, this review is a bit of a book-bash. So if you loved Matched and can't bear to see it criticised, step away slowly now. I also want to mention, in light of the recent Goodreads and author fiascos, that none of the content in this bad review is intended to offend or criticise the author as a person. Yes, I get very snarky towards the end, but Ally Condie seems like an awesome person and all I'm ranting about here is her book, not her.
Matched was...boring, unrealistic, and tired. There's really no other way I can describe it. I have to say that I was vain enough to actually pick up this book because of the absolutely gorgeous and minimalistic cover, and I have to say that we should give the cover designer at least 40% of the credit for this book, because without that amazing cover, my friends, I would never have fallen into the trap of reading this.
Now, first of all (since I know I won't be able to stop ranting once I start) I'm going to list all the positive things about Matched. First of all, the romance wasn't bad at all, and that's pretty much expected considering romance is all this book is basically about.
Secondly, Ally Condie's writing style is fantastic. I was pretty much sucked into the novel from the first chapter onwards, and I didn't stop (except to roll my eyes once. Or twice. Or maybe three times) once I started. I now understand what YA authors mean when they talk about Young Adult Fiction being more of a style than a genre; there's a very distinctive flavour that most of these books take on.
And now the bad. Cue dramatic music.
I might mention here that the entire freaking story hinges on Cassia seeing Ky's face on the computer once. Yep, that's right. She sees his face once and then she's all like 'OMG! I never realised Ky was so awesomely handsome! Maybe I should start dating him!' It irritated the heck out of me. She's been seeing Ky her whole freaking life. He's not going to become more handsome just because he appeared on her screen.
Secondly, I don't know whether it was just me or if nobody felt the suspense when Cassia got really upset since she didn't know who the baddie who put Ky on her Matched thumb drive was. I don't know why, but I just don't find the idea of someone putting a picture of a boy on my computer even remotely threatening.
And the pills, oh, the pills. I didn't even get why they were so jazzed up. They might have been scary and threatening and suspenseful with the right type of narration, but The Red Pill was mentioned so often I found myself repeatedly smacking myself on the head. And although Cassia can write poetry (wait, or was that Ky?) and sort things until her screen goes blank (which is apparently meant to be a measure of intelligence), she doesn't seem to understand that if the Red Pill was deadly, the Society wouldn't allow people--or teenagers, for that matter--to carry them around.
Finally, this book is not a freaking dystopian. Yes, you guys, I can hear you telling me about the totalitarian government and how that makes Matched a dystopian, but shush. Arguably, if Matched qualified as a dystopian (beautiful air-trains and great environment and libraries and all), then urban fantasies and contemporary novels could probably also be classified as dystopians. If you ask me, this society seemed orderly, relatively peaceful, the people seemed content (EXCEPT FOR GIRLS WHO COULDN'T GET THE BOY THEY WANTED HOW SHOCKING), and it was no more dystopian than our current world. I mean, just look at Africa and global warming and infant mortality rates and HIV and poor access to maternal health care in developing nations. Compared to that, Matched is a virtual Utopia.
Overview: I don't get why this book sold for 7 figures when some really awesome books are selling for early 4 figures these days, but I guess there must be something in here that I missed out on. The romance was okay if a little bland, the writing was excellent, but there were enough negatives to make me feel constantly irritated while reading the book. If you want to read a good dystopia, go read The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood. Two stars.(less)
**spoiler alert** I haven't read The Mortal Instruments, so I might be missing a beat on certain things here.
Cassandra Clare's writing leaves me hangi...more**spoiler alert** I haven't read The Mortal Instruments, so I might be missing a beat on certain things here.
Cassandra Clare's writing leaves me hanging onto every word. Things are beautifully described, the characters were great, but the descriptions of Victorian London left much to be desired (more about that later).
I have to say that Clockwork Angel is one of the most interesting steampunk novels I've had the pleasure of reading. Clare's writing reminds me of J.K. Rowling's--it's not particularly refined, but everything flows so smoothly that you don't even have time to think about that until the very end.
I never would have guessed that de Quincey wasn't the leader of the Pandemonium Club. It was mentioned so many times that I was a little suspicious, but I really didn't think much about it. And Nate was so...mean! (Just to keep this child-friendly.) I can't believe he betrayed Tessa just for power. Actually, on second thought, he is creepily reminiscent of Josh Newman in The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel. Hm, I guess characters are recycled a lot anyway.
I fell in love with Jem. He was so sweet and gentle that I couldn't help but wish that Tessa would end up with him, even though I knew she'd end up with Will for sure. But although Jem's 'disability'--his addiction to demon venom (or something like that, I forgot what it was exactly)--played a pretty big part in the story, I didn't really take much interest in it. I did wonder what it was, but only when his 'illness' or dark childhood were explicitly mentioned.
Will annoyed me a little. For some reason, he reminded me of Edward Cullen with his dark moods and all (it's never good to associate characters with Edward Cullen because I'm just going to start disliking them), and yes, I get that he's cocky and handsome and mysterious, but really, I can do without Tessa constantly thinking about him. And don't even get me started on Jessamine, please.
I only read the synopsis--I mean really read it--after I finished the novel. And before that, I didn't even know that the story was set in Victorian London. I knew that it was sometime in the past due to the info-dumps from conversations, but really, there weren't enough descriptions, the setting wasn't clear enough, and the characters weren't in Victorian character (if I'm making any sense here). Or it might just be that I'm supremely unobservant, or because I read this book while my brothers were in the house, which always accounts for an eardrum-bursting noise level, and therefore, minimal concentration.
I made the novel sound really bad. It's not at all, I assure you. As I said, Cassandra Clare is a brilliant author and Clockwork Angel was a good, interesting read. The cliffhanger ending will make sure that I buy this book when it comes out (the 4th of December, I think?) and it gets four stars for creativity, good writing and great descriptions.
As far as I know, virtually everyone who's read The Iron King has loved it--or at least, enjoyed it. And I realise that the reason for this is Julie K...moreAs far as I know, virtually everyone who's read The Iron King has loved it--or at least, enjoyed it. And I realise that the reason for this is Julie Kagawa's amazing writing style. Who can narrate a story and have it flow seamlessly off the page? Who can combine a magical love story with a believable and likeable heroine; write so elegantly and smoothly that readers don't even realise they've given up a few hours of their lives to wander into the Nevernever? Julie Kagawa can.
The most amazing thing about The Iron King is how the author weaves mythology, Shakespeare, and contemporary into a beautiful tale of love and adventure. The faery world is not described in epic detail down to every single darn dust mote in the air (which is a crime I believe that many authors are guilty of committing); it doesn't need to, because Julie Kagawa has the talent to add a little bit of detail here and there until you can simply walk in Meghan's shoes.
Although the story does seem rather cliche at first sight--I mean, just reading the pitch gives off a bit of a cliche-y vibe including the forbidden lust love and the secret destiny, the author manages to create a book of adventure and excitement that many other paranormal authors fail to achieve.
Another thing Julie Kagawa does excellently is Meghan's character. For me, she was thoroughly relatable, relatively headstrong, and she wasn't nearly as whiney as other YA heroines (phew! That's becoming a pet peeve of mine these days--sorry). However, one thing that did have me grinding my teeth and shaking my fist during the rare times when I was actually distracted enough to realise I was, in fact, reading a book, was when Meghan continuously made deals with the faery folk. Honestly, from the first moment and the first deal that Meghan ever made, I instantly knew that deals were a bad thing in the faery world. And Meghan did not seem to realise that as she kept on making deal-after-deal-after-freaking-deal. Which annoyed me to no end. That is, quite honestly, the only quibble I have with the book, and since it's nothing to do with the author, I am not going to dock a star for it.
As for the love interests...I realise that both Ash and Puck are in love (or, should I say, interested) in Meghan, but at this point, I am completely with Ash. It is quite rare that in a love triangle, I love the darker guy, but that is really what happened. The romance scenes made my skin tingle and I am in absolute squee-mode over Ash, which I guess is what the author meant to do all along with all the suspense and the OMG NOW KISS! moments. So brownie points for that, Julie.
Overview: The Iron King was an amazing paranormal adventure. I loved the folklore, I loved the writing, I loved the characters, and above all, I loved the Nevernever. There is virtually nothing I can criticise about this book and I strongly recommend you give it a go. Five stars.(less)
I have read many Goodreads and blog reviews about this book all of them mixed. I therefore formed the Nicole's Law of Carrier--it's like durian; you e...moreI have read many Goodreads and blog reviews about this book all of them mixed. I therefore formed the Nicole's Law of Carrier--it's like durian; you either love or hate it. But I digress.
Carrier has been compared to Twilight on multiple occasions, and I can certainly see the similarities. Both of the characters start out in a strange, new, isolated town with their fathers; go to school and make a whole heap of friends and find some strange guy stalking them; find out that the strange guy belongs to a mysterious family rumoured to be dabbing in shady dealings of some sort; get rescued by the guy at some point, and finally, fall in love with him.
Megan, however, is a far more loveable character than Bella Swan. She doesn't whine nearly as much, and she just isn't as irritating. Adam, on the other hand, caused me to look daggers at this book. He was so much of a carbon copy of Edward that he didn't seem like a new, original character. Rian and the other girl (Anu? Adam's sister) simply faded into the background for me most of the time. For the significance they played in the story as two of the four Carriers of the Mark, they simply didn't have enough time in the spotlight.
Adam and Megan's relationship was super creepy. One moment they weren't talking to each other, the next Adam was telling her how much he was attracted to her (eek! I would be so creeped out if someone talked to me like that, but fictional teenagers seem to love this sort of thing), and then they started kissing. Full-on snogging. Their relationship developed far too fast.
The dialogue was also a bit of a problem for me. For instance, when Fionn (Adam, Rian, and Anu[?]'s adoptive father--yep, sounds familiar, right?) was explaining more about the Carriers to Megan, the dialogue was completely forced. Case in point:
Fionn: There are four different elements. Adam: Water (does water demonstration) Rian: Fire (does fire demonstration) Anu[?]: And earth (does earth demonstration)
It's not terrible, but it's certainly not the sort of conversation I would hold with someone in real life. Come on. That sounds just...forced. No other word for it.
Another thing was the info dumps. Oh, the info dumps. Fionn/Adam/some member of the DeRis family would take Megan's one question, and drag it into a full-length explanation that lasted two whole pages. It made my head spin and I actually didn't have a clue what was going on in the end. In fact, I don't quite get the stuff about the Carrier gene even now. There was way too much telling and not enough showing. Admittedly, Fallon is a first-time author, but she has an editor who should be able to point out this sort of thing.
I've rambled on about the negatives, but there are a few positives. The storyline and the plot are rather interesting (minus the girl-in-small-town cliches) and I love the idea of the Carriers of the Mark. I'll definitely be reading Dawn of the Knights, the next book in the trilogy, and hopefully Fallon would've brought her writing skills up to scratch by then.
There was so much hype about this book but it ended in disappointment for me. The book gets two stars. (less)
**spoiler alert** The second installment of the Infernal Devices is so much better than the first. There’s less mystery but more character development...more**spoiler alert** The second installment of the Infernal Devices is so much better than the first. There’s less mystery but more character development. Cassandra Clare really starts to flesh out her characters. We learn more about Will’s past, more about Nate, more about the Clave, more about Jessamine. As far as I can recall (and I can’t recall that much because I am so jet-lagged), there was only one fighting scene. The other stuff was mostly verbal and mystery-solving, and I loved that.
Will is less dark and mysterious and more vulnerable in this book. *spoiler alert* We get to see a more human side of him, and I drooled all over the page during the Tessa-Will and Tessa-Jem scenes (I won’t elaborate but they were AMAZING…*swoons again*). Cassandra does a really good job with balancing the romance scenes and making sure that they aren’t overpowering. There was just enough to keep me satisfied but still wanting more.
I do, as always, have a few problems with the story. Firstly, Tessa seems like too perfect a character. I got the feeling that Clockwork Prince was building the climax for the finale while developing the characters further, but I don’t think Tessa got much of that. *spoiler alert* She doesn’t seem to have any flaws and most of the young males in the story—okay, only two, I guess—fall for her at once (!). No thank you. What’s so attractive about her, apart from her grey eyes (I got enough of that) and her hair and her intelligence? Why doesn’t she have any personality issues, when all the other characters in the story are obviously flawed?
The second problem was with the love triangle. *spoiler alert* I thought that Tessa’s relationship with Jem was perfectly platonic, and I would’ve loved for it to stay that way. What’s wrong with having just one girl fall in love with one guy and vice versa? YA authors seem to be missing a beat when it comes to things like this—under most circumstances, I do not like love triangles. And it is not acceptable to have a girl marry a guy just because the other guy she loves (even more than her fiancée, I think!) seems too unreliable. And I will take this opportunity to say that I’m on Team Will, since people on Goodreads seem to be taking sides for the finale.
I bet you that in the last book—Clockwork Princess, I think—Will and Tessa will wind up together after all. Something’s going to happen to Jem. I used to like him until he stole Tessa away from Will. Poor Will! D: Also, while we’re here, instead of killing off Nate, I would rather Cassandra have dealt with the problem better.
Clockwork Prince did have its faults, but I loved it in the end. The scenery was spot-on, the character development was excellent, showing Will in a human light was a really good move, and the writing flowed seamlessly. I can see that the mystery of the Magister and his far-reaching plans is going to continue into the next book, which I can’t wait to read, and I went through this book like a mouse going through nuts (LOL, very bad simile). I’m going to cheat and give Clockwork Prince four and a half stars. I would love to give it five stars but some parts didn’t quite get 100% from me. Four and a half stars? Everyone go and get it now! :D(less)
This book was spectacular and incredibly sad. I was literally in tears by the end.
Before I Die is definitely one of the saddest books I have read, eve...moreThis book was spectacular and incredibly sad. I was literally in tears by the end.
Before I Die is definitely one of the saddest books I have read, ever. It is a haunting narrative of Tessa, a 16-year old with terminal leukaemia, who is given only a few months to live. At first, I thought she would be like Kate Fitzgerald in My Sister's Keeper, who seems completely flat and boring and fragile. Tessa is real. She's got guts, she doesn't mooch around at home all day contemplating life; she's a real kid with a real personality.
Maybe that's why her death made me so sad, even though I knew it was coming. I cried because Tessa was such a real person.
Jenny Downham's writing also makes the story an impressive work of literature. She uses metaphors; just enough of them to make the story beautiful. The writing is matter-of-fact, down-to-earth, and she conveys emotions so well that you can truly feel Tessa and be Tessa.
One of the biggest no-nos of writing stories like this is being overly sappy. This book manages to make you cry and laugh without being annoying and sickly. Tessa doesn't go weepy on everyone and list a whole bunch of metaphors or cliches that are meant to represent a zillion different meanings of life (*cough* Jodie Picoult, I'm not looking at you). It's simple. And it's good.
Before I Die gets 5 stars from me. You need to read it.(less)
First up, Nightpeople was amazing. It was sad, haunting, 'eerily familiar', and it reminded me of what might happen in the future if we don't protect...moreFirst up, Nightpeople was amazing. It was sad, haunting, 'eerily familiar', and it reminded me of what might happen in the future if we don't protect the environment and conserve our energy sources. The story was extremely well written, but the plot was a bit...meh. I pretty much guessed what happened, but there was one unexpected twist in the end about Saria's mother that I wouldn't have guessed.
The characterisation was really, really good. Saria was thoroughly believable, and so was Dariand, although he was a bit annoying at times--he's the sort of character that you love and hate at the same time. There was a point in the story when I wasn't sure whether Dariand was a good or a bad guy, and I loved how Anthony Eaton didn't tell us, straight out.
I also enjoyed the mystery of the Nightpeople. While Dariand and Saria have to duck or hide every time the Nightpeople patrol the Darklands, in the end when Saria is willingly taken by the Nightpeople, they don't seem quite so bad. I'll find out more about that in the next book.
Saria being able to enter someone else's mind and even 'reach' into the Earth is really intriguing, and I look forward to reading more. There was so much left untold in Nightpeople, but I guess that is a good thing, since Eaton will have to keep us interested for another two books.(less)
The Pledge was pretty amazing--in fact, it was one of the best dystopian novels I have yet to read.
I wasn't sure what to think at the beginning. Brook...moreThe Pledge was pretty amazing--in fact, it was one of the best dystopian novels I have yet to read.
I wasn't sure what to think at the beginning. Brook, one of Charlie's best friends, was a pretty typical flirty/popular/beautiful character which gave me the false impression that The Pledge would be chock-full of high school cliches and, therefore, a completely useless read, while the pacing was about as fast as a snail's crawl. I found myself wanting to skip ahead because, quite frankly, the first few bits were boring.
I'm glad I didn't give up on this book, because it was absolutely awesome. Unlike some YA authors, Kimberly Derting doesn't pepper her novels with love triangles and glaringly obvious hints. (Oh, and that's another thing. The Pledge doesn't have a love triangle. How's that for awesome? *squee*) She gives enough descriptions for readers to adequately picture Charlie's world, whilst leaving enough room for imagination. The development of Ludania's dystopian society was also pretty well thought-out.
There were enough twists and turns in the plot to constantly surprise me, but I felt like the Max/Charlie relationship, one of the main driving plots of the story, didn't really work. For one, Max never actually explains why on earth he even likes Charlie, although I guess that The Pledge is part of a series, so that might come later.
I also love how Charlie sometimes thinks about Max, but doesn't obsessively stalk/think about him like some many YA heroines like to. It's refreshing not to have a love triangle for once, like I said above. Another thing I really enjoyed was finding out about the 'real' Brook. (I have to confess that I spent most of the novel absolutely hating her.) Although I won't say too much here, it was quite a surprise to find out about the rebelling troops and how they weren't completely bad.
I thought The Pledge was really good as a standalone novel. There were many elements I liked about it, including the characters--how they were flawed and real, all the surprises, the twists and turns in the story, and Kimberly Derting's writing style. However, I'm not sure if I'll be reading The Pledge #2, since I loved this book as it was. Four and a half stars.(less)
Die for Me is a love story, a paranormal romance and a fantasy book, rolled into one rather amazing package. Amy's captivating prose draws the reader...moreDie for Me is a love story, a paranormal romance and a fantasy book, rolled into one rather amazing package. Amy's captivating prose draws the reader further and further into the world of a revenant, while showing how being in love with one poses so much danger. The added bonus of this story is that--*squee*--it's set in Paris, the city of love, which ties in perfectly with the whole theme of this book. I loved how Die for Me wasn't completely jam-packed full of cliches. Unlike many other YA authors, Amy Plum's characters are real. Kate, the heroine of the story, does think about the consequences of falling in love with a 'creature' like Vincent, she thinks about whether it would do her good or just hurt her in the long run. She makes decisions, she doesn't rush into doing too many hasty things. And that's refreshing.
The scenic descriptions were also pretty good, although I would've liked to see more of them. (MOAR PARIS!) Although we do hear about charming old sandstone buildings and the river and Vincent's awesome house, I wanted more. For me, France was one of the defining features of the story, so I wanted to be there. I wanted to feel the crisp wind on my cheeks and the crunch of snow/branches/dried leaves beneath my boots and furry muffs on my cold ears. I wanted to see smoke billowing from a plump chimney somewhere in the distance and smell the wafting aroma of freshly-baked baguettes and sit on a bench with the gravelly sidewalk beneath my feet. And although the author did give us an idea of the setting and did a good job of describing what everything looked like, somehow the descriptions lacked a forth dimension of feeling.
And finally, I present to you one of the biggest selling points of the story! Amy Plum can write romance! Really write romance. Like Cassandra Clare, her kissing scenes left me exhilarated and eager for more...Oh, my goodness. Were they spectacular.
There were a small number of downsides to the story, however. The villain in the story was 100% bad and immediately spottable. There was really no mystery to the villain, and although I do realise how dangerous the enemies are, I really didn't get much/enough of that suspense. I really like asking myself 'Who's the bad guy?' and 'Ooh, is the author FINALLY going to review who the baddie is?' but I got none of that in this book, which was a slight disappointment.
Secondly, I saw a bit of the Bella Swan personality in the story. Kate goes on about how she doesn't think she looks beautiful, how she thinks she's unattractive, how she thinks only Georgia, her sister, is pretty etc., but guys are falling for her. Why? I get that many YA authors like to write about characters who don't know realise their beauty (take The Carrier of the Mark's Megan, Twilight's Bella Swan, and many many more) until guys come falling for them, but this trend is getting on my nerves. At the beginning of the story, Kate says that her only fan in the world is Georgia, but in reality, that obviously isn't the truth. I'd love to see a self-assured YA heroine who packs some punch.
Overall, Die for Me was quite a good book, but nevertheless, it did have its faults. The romance really made it for me, as did Amy's captivating writing, but the descriptions, the tension/suspense, and Kate's personality have to be fleshed out further or worked on. Four stars.(less)