Hmm. Less ambitious than Wrath and the Dawn, which mostly means it was less likely for it to fail. And it doesn't. It's a retelling of Aladdin but witHmm. Less ambitious than Wrath and the Dawn, which mostly means it was less likely for it to fail. And it doesn't. It's a retelling of Aladdin but with the characters changed to make it a largely predictable YA paranormal romance whose central relationship isn't particularly engaging or believable. The main characters are likable enough but forgettable and straight from an assembly line. As are the villains (well, except unlikable, I suppose).
However...Princess Caspida is pretty great and while I usually don't like multiple POVs in a book as it's often a lazy shortcut of making a story feel more complete and "epic," I think the book would have been better if she got to narrate some chapters. If Khoury changes her mind and makes a companion novel, I'd read it if Caspida narrates it. It's too bad she doesn't get a lot of pagetime, as especially near the end she shows how strong and wise and fierce she is. Her companions theoretically seem like they could be great too; I definitely like the idea of them, even when they get even less to do.
The relationship between Zahra and the ancient queen could be really nifty, but the pages directly about it are too few to make as much of an impact as it should. ...more
Hmm. No better or worse than the other books in the series. I still think Sanderson should lay off the young adult works, as this, Rithmatist, and AlcHmm. No better or worse than the other books in the series. I still think Sanderson should lay off the young adult works, as this, Rithmatist, and Alcatraz are all meh.
For the first bunch of chapters, the book’s actually on the dull side as the characters get ready for a confrontation very slowly. It picks up when they’re in active conflict with the professor, but the ending is really quite dumb and way too cheesily HEA for everyone involved. Okay, almost everyone; there is one sad thing that happens in the book.
Nighthawk is mildly amusing because of his disdain for David, who is as always the worst character around and after three books has still barely developed a personality. But Nighthawk is also a very convenient deus ex machina character to help give the plotline shortcuts as needed...one could also argue this of Obliteration to a lesser extent. Megan deals with her issues some more, but most of her growth occurs in books one and two so it’s nothing new. And she has awful taste in men. She does bring in my favorite element of the book, more glimpses into an alternate dimension, but it’s more my fascination with the idea of alternate dimensions that powers my enjoyment than anything special Sanderson does with it. Two of the sidekicks are merely plot props, and the other one actually has a hint of an interesting backstory but we never learn it.
I suppose the hint of other worlds beyond the characters’ own may be a way to tie the series in with Sanderson’s greater mythos, with Calamity being the equivalent of Preservation and Ruin. ...more
The most memorable part of the book is when the dad is being racist against Asians….or “Mandarin Orientals," shall I say.
Otherwise, I found this to beThe most memorable part of the book is when the dad is being racist against Asians….or “Mandarin Orientals," shall I say.
Otherwise, I found this to be a forgettable twee mystery devoid of plot or suspense. Flavia herself is slightly original, but her poison schtick doesn't elevate the book any more than fellow girl detective Cam Jansen's did in her series....more
Hmm, I was expecting Gossip Girl: Murder. But despite having as little substance as the Gossip Girl books, it somehow manages to have the feeling of evHmm, I was expecting Gossip Girl: Murder. But despite having as little substance as the Gossip Girl books, it somehow manages to have the feeling of even less plot while not having any of the fun.
I mean, okay, tragic deaths don’t lead to fun as a rule but I’ve certainly read books that did a good job of recreating a victim’s life well enough for the reader to understand exactly how they get caught up in the craziness leading to said death. A number of them specifically about young women ensnared in a group of friends/a secret club of people who turn on her after some inciting incident.
The incident here is mostly dumb. And the only character who sorta has a personality is Amelia’s mother Kate. Not necessarily a great one, but still. It’s difficult to care in any way about the rest of them. Some figures introduced barely get anything other than a name. ...more
Queen Rebecca is my favorite character of course given that she has at least two layers and how utterly disrespectful Will is towards her, though sheQueen Rebecca is my favorite character of course given that she has at least two layers and how utterly disrespectful Will is towards her, though she sadly doesn’t get that much pagetime. Hero Will is bland, sidekick Chester is a prop, as are the good guys below the surface. Will’s dad is mildly annoying, while the villains are a bit obvious.
I am a bit curious about exactly how the Burrows originally become what they are.
Oh right, there’s a plot too. Well, I thought it would be like Downsiders by Neal Shusterman. And I guess it kinda is, but with inferior writing, world building, and attention to plausibility/detail. But I didn’t roll my eyes while forcing myself to finish, so that must mean it’s at least okay. ...more
For some reason I thought this book’s supposed to be Super Dark. Either a misguided review or me confusing it with another book, I guess. I mean, thereFor some reason I thought this book’s supposed to be Super Dark. Either a misguided review or me confusing it with another book, I guess. I mean, there are dark bits, but not any more so than the average YA dystopia. And overall the world and storyline are on the standard, predictable side.
The Kieran/Seth rivalry takes up a lot of the book and I just don’t care. Kieran/Waverly’s relationship seems the kind that’s more expected than passionate, but I don’t exactly root for Waverly to be with angry resentful Seth either.
Waverly’s time on the New Horizon brings a fair amount of excitement, if not surprise. It brings up questions about the grayness of morality and reminds me of Emily Thorne’s line from Revenge: “Two wrongs can never make a right because two wrongs can never equal each other.” I wish the Dolores Umbridge-like leader Anne Mather could have been more complex or charismatic, but she’s fairly believable as an antagonist.
Felicity’s probably my favorite character, partially because she’s not nearly as stock as Waverly who’s assembly-line YA Dystopia heroine. And how Felicity acts in response to what’s happened in her life points towards a complicated richness to her personality that I’d hope would be addressed in the sequels. Perhaps I’ll just skip to the ending of the last book to see how things end up for everyone and hope she gets to be happy....more
Hmm, I wasn’t expecting a watered-down Firefly-inspired coming together of the characters as the main point of this space romance. Though I didn’t reaHmm, I wasn’t expecting a watered-down Firefly-inspired coming together of the characters as the main point of this space romance. Though I didn’t read the plot description carefully at all.
Of course, this book doesn’t have anywhere near the “clever one-liners, witty dialogue, and plot twists” (which is how Landers describes her writing) as Firefly or even an above-average sci-fi. But, y’know, it’s okay. In place of instalove is an unrealistic, inorganic hate-becomes-love relationship between two fairly forgettable people who range from moderately unpleasant to mildly likable depending on the chapter.
The language/dialogue is very 2016. I mean, I’m not sure if it’s worse to have overly try-hard future-speak or have the voice basically YA contemporary, but there are books that manage to find a good spot in the middle that avoids coming off as either annoying or lazy.
I would consider reading a sequel, especially if were from the POVs of, say, Cassia and Kane instead. While their backstory doesn’t take up much pagetime, it intrigues me more than Solara and Doran’s problems. Not really the romance part, as that kind of romance is super common across various genres, but the politics of their home world.
Well, the structure’s cool. And the queer diversity is great.
But despite the especially funky fantasy-esque names and such, the plot doesn’t feel likeWell, the structure’s cool. And the queer diversity is great.
But despite the especially funky fantasy-esque names and such, the plot doesn’t feel like anything new. And there kinda isn’t enough plot to justify this being a complete book. Especially all the chapters from the perspective of “you,” which just amount to a lot of wandering and searching - the kind of fantasy I rarely enjoy. Syen’s parts seem to keep jumping from one plot type to another without smooth transitions, which makes her narrative pretty disjointed. I might’ve enjoyed having more than just the few Damaya chapters that come together like a pretty entertaining and coherent short story.
Also, what’s up with the constant present tense? I can at least see the reasoning for the use of multiple kinds of POVs tying into how well the story and characters function.
Best Quote: “Discomfort is understandable. It’s the rudeness that isn’t. And that’s a really shitty apology. ‘I’m sorry you’re so abnormal that I can’t manage to treat you like a human being.’”...more
This book has really disturbing messages. And it doesn’t make much sense. Plus the whole love that split the world? Aside from the sci-fi-y trappings, pThis book has really disturbing messages. And it doesn’t make much sense. Plus the whole love that split the world? Aside from the sci-fi-y trappings, pretty typically cheesily boring. Like Beau in general, and his poor-man’s-Sarah-Dessen-love-interest baggage doesn’t help. Natalie’s okay, I guess, though she can be awfully whiny; the 2 pages when the hypnotherapist or whatever analyzes her are accurate.
For some reason, I was actually reminded of A Need So Beautiful when I read the book. I think mainly because of the sadness of other versions of the people the protagonist loves not having the history with her that she remembers. I actually kinda hated that Suzanne Young, unless I somehow missed it, gave ZERO follow-up to the family and friends the protagonist is forced to leave behind because their relationships are a huge part of why I like that book.
And here, my favorite aspects of the book have (almost) nothing to do with the science fictional bits. Secondary is her sibling relationship with Jack and Coco, which ends with no resolution to the main issue on account of everything taking a backseat to the love that split the world. And the best part is Nat’s eternal friendship with Megan; there is a plot twist in the later part that doesn’t entirely work for me, but overall I’m reminded in a good way of Megan McCafferty’s Jessica Darling + Hope BFF-ship. They seem entirely genuine, realistic, lived-in, and far more convincing of a (platonic) soulmate thing happening than the love that split the world relationship.
Mmm...the whole plotline with Matt is handled horribly by the author and I have no idea what I’m supposed to get out of it. It seems to mash up a couple of tropes in a blender and just come up with a mess. And just because I hated the last episode(s?) of Sherlock, I got pissy when there was talk of mind palaces.
I’m not sure if I would prefer the next book to be way more edited/reworked, or for Emily Henry to try her hand at contemporary YA as I suspect that’s where her strengths could really shine. ...more
Hmm. Well, Hutchinson sure improved as an author over the course of a year. Everyone should read his We Are the Ants instead. Cuz this book, despite sHmm. Well, Hutchinson sure improved as an author over the course of a year. Everyone should read his We Are the Ants instead. Cuz this book, despite some purposefully weird trappings, is highly similar to various other books I’ve read about grief/depression or bullying/the difficulties of being queer.
The characterization is oddly flat; while it feels like a number of characters (aside from the self-hating Andrew) are supposed to be lovable, they never feel complex enough to be real. I never got the sense of being lost in the book enough to think of them as more than just its props to affect Andrew. That doesn’t necessarily mean I don’t like anyone here, but a sense of liking isn’t enough.
The premise is unsustainable and I found it hard to believe almost as soon as the book begins. All three late Twisty Reveals involving the supporting cast are predictable and designed to rack up Emotional Manipulation points. And the ending is thoroughly unfulfilling and somewhat nonsensical.
I do quite like this quote: “If you’re in a relationship and the kissing isn’t the best part, run. People don’t talk about that one great orgasm they had on top of the Eiffel Tower. In movies, long-distance lovers don’t see each other across a crowded airport, run to each other, and start bumping uglies on the baggage conveyor belt. It’s all about the kiss, Drew. Sex is biological. Kissing is art.”...more
What a lovely, crushing, sweet, depressing, dark, funny, true, equally relatable and fresh, achingly rendered work.
Thanks, Amazon, for picking this aWhat a lovely, crushing, sweet, depressing, dark, funny, true, equally relatable and fresh, achingly rendered work.
Thanks, Amazon, for picking this as one of the best of the month, as it is definitely one of the best of the decade. I might even bump this to 5 stars when I read it again; there’s a stretch near the beginning when Henry’s neuroses made it a tad too unpleasant, and I don’t *really* see why Diego likes him especially initially. But I guess like depression, love isn’t something that has to make sense or have a solid set of reasons behind it.
Last year my favorite book was the YA gay lightly sci-fi novel More Happy Than Not, about a guy who contemplates a huge decision because of his personal issues. Maybe that’s my thing now.
I have a feeling the amount of character development so many of the figures have could actually be a minus for some readers because it’s arguably unrealistic, but individually each one’s makes complete sense regardless of the time compression.
Henry is arguably the most difficult major character to like (well, besides Marcus), but he has many reasons to be effed up. And having no distance from him means the reader gets all of him, a dis/advantage no one else has. But his ex-best friend, his new friend, his mother, his brother, his brother's girlfriend, and his grandmother are all great despite being clearly flawed and some of them being occasionally awful.
On the surface the plot isn't exactly new, aside from the alien angle which I think is akin to Shusterman's Challenger Deep, based on the description anyway. But it's done so very well and Hutchinson's voice is very distinct from the field.
I'll probably read Andrew Brawley soon. But before that, T10 quotes:
(view spoiler)[Mom’s bottom lip trembled. “Do you wish you were dead?” We slammed doors in my family. We beat each other up and we asked questions we didn’t want answers to and we wielded silence like a dagger. I wasn’t sure how to respond to her blunt honesty except with honesty of my own. “I don’t want to die, but I don’t want to live, either."
“It wasn’t my fault, it wasn’t his fault, and it sure as hell wasn’t your fault.” “I should have been a better boyfriend.” “Depression isn’t a war you win. It’s a battle you fight every day. You never get to stop, never get to rest. It’s one bloody fray after another. Jesse got worn down and didn’t think he could fight anymore.” “Why? Why did he do it, Audrey?” My voice caught in my throat, and tears weren’t far behind, but I didn’t care. Fuck it, and fuck them. “I don’t know.”
“Have you been going through my computer?” “Only to make sure you weren’t experimenting with drugs or planning to shoot up your school.”
“That’s what worries me.” “Why?” Mom stubbed out her cigarette. “Because a smart, handsome boy like you shouldn’t have to try so hard to be happy.”
It had felt like remembering the name of a song I’d forgotten but had been humming for days.
“You told him constantly how perfect he was, but Jesse wasn’t perfect, and he was worried that if you ever saw his flaws, you’d leave him.” Those words hurt more than being kicked in the testicles in the locker room. “I knew Jesse wasn’t perfect. He exaggerated everything. If he were on the phone with someone for an hour, he’d say it’d been five. If he bought one shirt, he’d tell me he bought twenty. And he had terrible taste in books. He said his favorite book was The Catcher in the Rye, but he had a copy of Twilight under his bed with pages so battered, he must’ve read it a hundred times.”
“You got to see Jesse at his best, but I saw him after he punched a brick wall so hard, he broke his fingers, when he cut his thighs with razor blades, when he put out lit cigarettes on his hands and told you he’d burned himself baking brownies. I was the one who cleaned up his blood and made sure he didn’t drink himself to death. Me, Henry. Not you.”
“If I’m supposedly some kind of nickel whore, and they’re giving me spare change, doesn’t that mean—”
“Were your parents Amish?” “Nope. Just poor.” He said it with a simplicity that expressed no regret and asked for no pity. It was just a statement of fact. Audrey began to stammer.
“I feel like his whole the-world-is-beautiful-and-we-should-be-happy-to-be-alive shtick is just an act.” (hide spoiler)]["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"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
Well...the book certainly has potential. Largely unfulfilled as of yet.
And I can’t help but feel that a large part of the potential has to do with notWell...the book certainly has potential. Largely unfulfilled as of yet.
And I can’t help but feel that a large part of the potential has to do with not being in the heads of the characters who seem more interesting. Cuz I don’t really care about stupid reckless Safi, bland long-suffering sidekick Iseult, pretty perfect prince Merik, or bloodthirsty Aeduan who only gets an intriguing wrinkle to his character near the end.
None of them are the ones with true control/power over the big game, most of them not seeming to actually know all that much about it given the various questions the reader is left with at the end of the book. Given how little I care about those involved, I don’t care about the Central Friendship or budding romance(s?).
So I suppose I could be tempted to read the sequel if we get to follow along with Empress Vaness, the Puppeteer, Prince Leopold, and Evrane. Esp as I really suspect that the whole issue with the Chosen Ones’ roles in the clash of the empires will end up being not very original or surprising, so it won’t be worth it to just be continuing the stories of the 4 POVs presented here. But who knows, maybe if we get to know the four I want better, they'll lose their aura of apparent quality; that's certainly happened with other series I've read.
The plot is quite First Book in a Series rather than feeling like a satisfying story in its own right, and doesn’t have “omg” moments to make up for it. The writing’s fine; nothing stuck out to me as quoteworthy in how well-put or how terribly-put it is. The world is standard fare for the genre.
Though I suppose I can’t be too disappointed, given how I’ve only vaguely heard of the author’s other series and how the other books I’ve read from this year are various shades of shrugworthy. ...more
Very uneven collection. Plus, the description is a lie: "Find out what happens to Connor, Risa, and Lev now that they’ve finally destroyed the ProactiVery uneven collection. Plus, the description is a lie: "Find out what happens to Connor, Risa, and Lev now that they’ve finally destroyed the Proactive Citizenry"? No, we do not.
The book includes prequel, midquel, and sequel stories, but the sequel stories only give speculation about the trio rather than showing them. And the ending especially makes it seem like Shusterman wants to make a 6th installment of this "trilogy." Mmm.
By story: Unschooled - I guess it's somewhat interesting to see a backstory, but I don't care about him. Unfinished Symphony - Well, the main character here is understandable, and I like that she has some depth despite setting part of the original book into motion. Undevoured - Meh. Added nothing. Unclean - It's average. Seems to be "hey, how about this angle? Cool, eh?" Unstrung - Lacks quality. Unnatural Selection - Pretty good except the ending seems unrealistic. Unconfirmed - Wish it was longer. I do like seeing the characters again. Untithed - Trying to show some previous characters having purpose, but I don't care. Rewinds - Has the most potential in terms of continuing on in the possible sequel. Good new character. Unknown Quantity - Seems to be there only to hint at a possible sequel. The story itself is not good.