Plain KateAuthor: Erin BowPublication Date: 9/1/10Publisher: Arthur A. LevineBlurb (GR): The drizzle had broken into patches as they walked. As Drina scooped up the pale sand, Kate found herself standing in the smudge of shadow cast by the deadfall. She had never before noticed the way shadows gave things weight, made them look heavy and real and connected to the ground. Without hers...
She edged into the light.
Her shadow looked strange and thinned. It seemed not cast against the ground, but floating above it, like a fog. What Linay had said was true: No one would notice this, at first. It was just an uneasy little change, like the half-felt movement of a boat that slowly induces a great sickness.
Plain Kate lives in a world of superstitions and curses, where a song can heal a wound and a shadow can work deep magic. As the wood-carver's daughter, Kate held a carving knife before a spoon, and her wooden talismans are so fine that some even call her “witch-blade”: a dangerous nickname in a country where witches are hunted and burned in the square.
For Kate and her village have fallen on hard times. Kate’s father has died, leaving her alone in the world. And a mysterious fog now covers the countryside, ruining crops and spreading fear of hunger and sickness. The townspeople are looking for someone to blame, and their eyes have fallen on Kate.
Enter Linay, a stranger with a proposition: In exchange for her shadow, he’ll give Kate the means to escape the angry town, and what’s more, he’ll grant her heart’s wish. It’s a chance for her to start over, to find a home, a family, a place to belong. But Kate soon realizes she can't live shadowless forever -- and that Linay's designs are darker than she ever dreamed .Review:
I cannot believe this is Erin Bow
's first novel. In the acknowledgments she mentions that she worked on this book for six years--it shows. From the first page, the author drops you into the story and there honestly was no drag throughout the entire book. We are introduced to Kate and her father, both woodcarvers who live in Similae. The surrounding communities have been plagued with death, torrential rains, and crop damage and the people of Kate's town, as well as other towns, are on the lookout for witches who could be causing the troubles. After Kate's father passes away, she is left quite alone in the world. This book follows her in her journey to survive and, geez, does Kate have it rough.
The ease and accessibility of reading this book, as well as Kate's age indicate that this is more of a middle reader book. However, the themes of this book are very dark--murder, hanging witches, raising the dead. death. dying. just tons of dying. *sigh* But Kate is one of the most upbeat and scrappy characters I've ever read. She stands up for herself and is loyal to her friends. Speaking of friends, Kate has a speaking cat, Taggle, who is a total highlight of this work. He is hilarious and their friendship seems more realistic than many human friendships I've read as of late. There is really no romance to speak of and I'm glad of it--it would feel inappropriate in this case and the story supports itself without a romantic element.
Erin Bow's writing style is lovely--informative and descriptive without bogging the story down. (like when you think about reading Tolkien and then decide that you'd like to actually get somewhere on the journey instead of reading a description of a mossy rock for a whole page. Fine, you caught me, I'm exaggerating, but you get my point!) I will definitely read anything she writes in the future. I hope she makes the jump up to YA or even to adult fantasy. 4/5 stars
Froi of the Exiles (Lumatere Chronicles, #2)Author: Melina Marchetta
Publication Date: 10/3/11
Publisher: Viking AustraliaBlurb (GR): Blood sings to blood, Froi . . .
Those born last will make the first . . .
For Charyn will be barren no more.
Three years after the curse on Lumatere was lifted, Froi has found his home... Or so he believes...
Fiercely loyal to the Queen and Finnikin, Froi has been trained roughly and lovingly by the Guard sworn to protect the royal family, and has learned to control his quick temper. But when he is sent on a secretive mission to the kingdom of Charyn, nothing could have prepared him for what he finds. Here he encounters a damaged people who are not who they seem, and must unravel both the dark bonds of kinship and the mysteries of a half-mad Princess.
And in this barren and mysterious place, he will discover that there is a song sleeping in his blood, and though Froi would rather not, the time has come to listen.
Gripping and intense, complex and richly imagined, Froi of the Exiles
is a dazzling sequel to Finnikin of the Rock
, from the internationally best-selling and multi-award-winning author of Looking for Alibrandi
, Saving Francesca
, On the Jellicoe Road
and The Piper's Son
I’ve been a fan of every other Melina Marchetta
book I’ve read, which is all of them, so it sort of pains me to say that Froi of the Exiles
was frustrating and unsatisfying for me. I’m still going to give it three stars because even when Marchetta is (subjectively to me) not on her game, she still has a way with words that blows nearly every other YA author out of the water. Originally, I tried to keep my review entirely spoiler-free but it just wasn’t happening. There will be a few spoilers but they are ones that are not likely to surprise you while reading the book. Oh, and there will be Finnikin spoilers, just so you know. *sigh* And we’re off…
The number one reason why this book couldn’t work for me was the relationship between Froi and Quintana. It is not a spoiler to reveal something you find out in the first few pages—Quintana has basically been systematically raped for years. While it is happening, she goes off into another place in her mind a la Precious
(based on the novel Push by Sapphire) and her daydreams. She has been maltreated for years and everyone thinks she is more or less insane. Also, she is described as having weird teeth, bird’s nest hair, dirty clothes, and several personalities. Okay, so…
Hot. How could anyone NOT be attracted to that? All jokes aside, I couldn’t get behind a relationship that disgusted me from the onset. To sleep with a girl who has never had a healthy relationship with anyone, especially if you are doing it under even quasi-false pretenses is a bit scary. I don’t want to call it sexual abuse but it kind of felt that way to me. I know many other readers feel that Quintana is an intriguing character and love her down to the ground. To me, she felt like a confused, somewhat simple-minded girl with lots of strength and motivation but who was absolutely vulnerable nonetheless. I don’t require a strong heroine all the time, that isn’t the issue. The issue is a balanced relationship and here, I just never saw it. Near the end of the novel, Quintana shows immense growth as a character and if I read the third book in the series, I think I will enjoy her more. Froi’s decision to sleep with Quintana was morally questionable. It reminded me of United States of Tara
where a woman with multiple personalities and her husband have an agreement that his sleeping with any of her alters is cheating. While her body might be there, her mind isn’t and that isn’t fair to her. Even later in the book, Quintana is randomly growling at points.
I read a lot of fantasy and romance. In romance novel series, a significant number of authors have a tendency to bring past couples from other books in as characters. Look! See how happy they are! They were happy then but they are even happier now—look at the babies! While I find it annoying, I don’t always mind when this happens in romance books. I do
mind when it comes up repeatedly in fantasy and Froi is the only book I can think of as an example. Look at Finnikin and Isaboe! They are so unbelievably well-suited to each other. They are so attracted to each other that they do it up against walls and in closets, tra-la-la! If it were just once or twice, I wouldn’t even note it but it made up a large portion of the novel. On a similar note, I now know another thing that I don’t ever want to read about in another fantasy novel: breastfeeding. How long should someone breastfeed a child? I don’t know nor do I care to think about it while I’m reading a fantasy novel. (unless a woman is breastfeeding dragons or something) Froi of the Exiles was something like 620 pages long. Finnikin and Isaboe had their moment in the limelight in the first book of the series. We certainly could’ve gotten a taste of how sublimely perfect they are together and how they can communicate by looks and how they can’t keep their paws off of each other in a few less pages.
The tone of this novel is about 400% darker than any of the author’s other work. That’s fine, I don’t mind dark, nor do I mind sex. (in fact, I enjoy
these two things in books) A friend told me that Froi seemed more realistic because there was so much emphasis put on the seedier elements of the atmosphere during wartime. Everybody seemed to be either having sex or talking about having sex or if not that, murdering other people. I have no experience living in an active warzone but every character seemed to have sex on the mind, even when they weren’t near any actual fighting. Before you go into this one, you should just know that everyone has slept with everyone else or if they haven’t, they’ve certainly thought about it or are going to in the near future. It got to the point where I just rolled my eyes and skimmed over sections of the book and I never, EVER do that with Marchetta books. (by sections I mean a paragraph here or there, not any significant amount of text)
I’ve been putting off this review for ages because I just have a bad taste in my mouth about it. I read it with a friend and our google document has over 20,000 words. I am rereading it and laughing because in Chapter 6 my friend wrote, “In general, I am getting more into it. Not a huge fan of travelling around, but looks like they are almost there.” Hahaha, yeah right. There is just so much movement in this book. Everyone is always going somewhere. Just GET THERE already—collect what you came for and go back, or stay. Whatever. I’d understand it if it was like a quest to Mordor to destroy the ring that binds them all
but that isn’t the case here. (side note: Turns out I also guessed Froi’s father in Chapter 6 as well) Froi basically spends the entire book moving from one place to the next but I was more interested in his story than the other two storylines that appear in the book. When Finnikin and Isaboe aren’t doing it, they are having political meetings with otherzzzzzzzzz, oh sorry, I just fell asleep while I was typing. The other storyline is about Lucian of the Monts, whom I adored in Finnikin but who has turned into a huge douche in Froi. Let’s say it all together now, COMMUNICATION. Learn it, live it, love it.
You know what I was thinking about while I was reading? Every one of Melina Marchetta’s books deals with a child with a missing parent. In Looking for Alibrandi
, Josie’s dad is gone but comes back. In Jellicoe Road
, Taylor’s parents are gone and also the guy in the tree side story. In Saving Francesca
, her mother is lost to depression. In The Piper’s Son
, Tom’s dad was gone to him, and in Finnikin of the Rock
, he grew up with no mother and was missing his father for years. Now we can add Froi, Quintana, and Lucian to the list. Finding family is a huge theme for her--It’s all about who you are and where you came from. I think this is really interesting but I really enjoy stories about people who don’t know where they are from, DON’T find out, but come to terms with it and become their own person. It is always hard to define yourself when people are pointing out the similarities between you and your parents. I’m not going to spoiler who Froi’s parents are but I saw that one coming down the pipeline pretty early.
This review is getting too long. I always start to space out after a few paragraphs of a review so I’m assuming I’m not alone in this. I did not truly enjoy the process of reading this book but on the upside, it seems as if almost everyone else did. If you want to know anything else about what I thought of this book, let’s talk about it in the comments. For now, I’m just going to share some more comment highlights I found in our google document:
“If you are making shadow puppets with someone, it’s safe to say things are getting pretty serious.”
“And why make out Froi is some legend in the art of tongue work? AWKWARD.”
“HELLO, people. Wake up and realize that Beatriss needs people to work the land and there are bajillions of Charynites just chillin’ with their vegetable patches and nowhere to go. Problem, meet solution.”
“ ‘Just ask me! Just ask me! I can’t say the answer without you asking the question!’ Bitch, please. If you can say it when he asks, you can say it anytime.”
“RAPE.GRAVINAS. STOP PLANTING VEGETABLES!”
“Everyone’s stories/pasts are so DRAMATIC. This is real, solid DAYS OF OUR LIVES stuff.”
“I am quick to say, ‘because she is an idiot.’”
“Everyone’s life sucks. Everything is more convoluted than it should ever be. ALWAYS BE ON THE LOOKOUT FOR A TWIN.”
“That meeting with the Belegonian dude? www.snoozefest.com.”
“Yes, I noticed that smooth segue.”
“Why are all the characters such hardened tools? Where is the relaxed, carefree character? Where is MM’s (Saving Francesca
- type) humor? …It is not a relaxing read.”
“Why is she always growling?”
“I just love it when guys take my hand and then put it on their crotch.”
“Maybe Froi and Quintana are somehow brother and sister and it is incest and the little king will come out with extra limbs. Or maybe some cannibalism. You know they’ve been having crop problems. Next step: People eating people.” 3/5 stars
Stray (Touchstone, #1)Author: Andrea K. Höst
Publication Date: March 20th 2011
Publisher Andrea K. HösthBlurb (GR):
On her last day of high school, Cassandra Devlin walked out of exams and into a forest. Surrounded by the wrong sort of trees, and animals never featured in any nature documentary, Cass is only sure of one thing: alone, she will be lucky to survive.
The sprawl of abandoned blockish buildings Cass discovers offers her only more puzzles. Where are the people? What is the intoxicating mist which drifts off the buildings in the moonlight? And why does she feel like she's being watched?
Increasingly unnerved, Cass is overjoyed at the arrival of the formidable Setari. Whisked to a world as technologically advanced as the first was primitive, where nanotech computers are grown inside people's skulls, and few have any interest in venturing outside the enormous whitestone cities, Cass finds herself processed as a 'stray', a refugee displaced by the gates torn between worlds. Struggling with an unfamiliar language and culture, she must adapt to virtual classrooms, friends who can teleport, and the ingrained attitude that strays are backward and slow.
Can Cass ever find her way home? And after the people of her new world discover her unexpected value, will they be willing to let her leave?Review:
How useful would you be in an apocalyptic or post-apocalyptic situation? My best friend and I had a discussion about this for a while the other day. (Well, to be honest I have this discussion all the time.) While we obviously tally people’s skills up in the positives column, we were in agreement that two of the biggest advantages a person can have is their ability to just go with the flow and their tendency not whine or complain about things. The reason I bring this up is because the first third or fourth of this book is about a teenage girl, Cass Devlin, walking home from school and suddenly finding herself in a completely foreign place. As she walks around, the thinks about what is going on in a very logical manner.
She thinks about where the sun is located, how long the days are, what kinds of wildlife is around, what she might be able to eat, how to actually make
things from raw materials. Gosh, thanks for that Andrea K. Höst
, because my reading partner and I were so excited to read about a character who actually thought about all the things a person should
be thinking if they are somewhere they have never been before. I’ve read several books since I finished this one (as has my reading partner) and we’ve repeatedly said “Ugh, Cass Devlin would never
do something like this.” I also enjoyed her sense of humor about her entire situation and the new society she finds herself a part of.
The interesting thing about this book, and this could really be a positive or negative depending on the reader, was how it was very in-depth setup for the rest of the series.
What this book needs is a kickass editor to contain the awesome. Here is a very scientific graph I’ve made for the occasion:
Wouldn't we all like to have that problem? I’d get overly excited if I were the author, too. It is clear that Ms. Höst has mapped out this world, its inhabitants, the powers, technology, and the history...and I was into all of it! At a point, while I never lost interest, I was looking for a little less description of every single power, its amplification, and the different spaces the teams went to. (this sentence probably makes very little sense but I don’t want to ruin the plot of the book for future readers) Several of the characters intrigued me and I wished we got to know a few of them more in depth rather than tens of them by name only. In the end, this book has the potential to be a five-star read for me if it was completely edited. (There were a couple affect/effect, hanger/hangar-type errors but overall, the writing was fun and there were very few errors for a self-pub) However, the final product as it is was quite enough to make me buy the remaining two ebooks in the series to see how it all pans out and definitely enough to recommend it to a lot of people.
Surprisingly, there is no concentration on romance, at least not in this installment of the series. There are
a few hints and several possibilities but it was nice not to have that weighing down the plot. Instead of Cass wondering about what X or Y dude thinks of her, she actually wonders about how everything in the world works, how she might get home, and the ramifications of her choices. Crazy!
To the author, if you are reading this at any point (which you might be!), please write a survivalist or post-apoc novel! I will read it and love it. Until then, I'll continue with this series and enjoy those ones.
I never would’ve found this book without Goodreads. My pal Chichipio
has an aversion to buying books that cost more than $5. Sure, I often yank his chain about this habit but this is it, Gonza, your REVENGE. I really loved this book, so thank you. (be sure to check out his review
Wolf-Speaker (Immortals, #2)
Author: Tamora Pierce
Publication Date: 1994
Publisher: Simon Pulse
When humans start cutting down trees and digging holes in peaceful Dunlath Valley, the wolves know that something is wrong. They send a messenger to the only human who will listen -- Daine, a fourteen-year-old girl with the unpredictable power of wild magic. Daine and her closest companions heed the wolves' cry for help. But the challenge they are about to face in the valley is greater than they can possibly imagine...
This didn't excite me as much as its predecessor, Wild Magic
, primarily for the following reason:
Daine and Numair are in the forest then
Daine enters into the mind of an animal.
Daine and Numair and some wolves are in the forest then
Daine enters into the mind of an animal.
Daine and Numair go to a castle then
Daine enters into the mind of an animal.
Daine hangs out with wolves and then
Daine enters into the mind of an animal.
Daine meets some immortals, good and bad, and then
Daine enters into the mind of an animal.
Daine enters into the mind of an animal to talk to Numair through a barrier.
Daine is always tired because it takes a lot of energy when
Daine enters into the mind of an animal.
Daine enters into the mind of an animals to go everywhere, all the time, forever and ever amen.
Okay, that's it, you get the point. I still love Tamora Pierce and I'll still keep going with the series because I like the world.
Author: M.T. Anderson
Publication Date: 2/23/04
Publisher: Candlewick PressBlurb (B & N):Brave New World
takes a romantic teen twist in this disarming, engrossing novel set in a hyper-computerized future.
Spending time partying on the moon and riding around in his "upcar," Titus is an average teen of the future, complete with a computer chip implant -- the "Feed" -- that lets corporate marketers and government agencies broadcast directly into his brain. Then Titus meets Violet, and an anti-Feed hacker shuts down their Feeds for a short time; but when Violet's Feed is seriously damaged, she begins spouting some radical ideas.
M. T. Anderson has predicted the future, and it's startling indeed. Although Titus is a good, well-meaning kid, his blissful ignorance of the control over him leaves readers thinking twice about the destiny of earth's citizens. Beneath the book's techno-veneer, however, lies a romantic tale between a boy who gives into the system and a girl who sees beyond it. All told, Feed
is a "meg" remarkable work of science fiction, and once readers begin, they'll be caught up in its powerful grip.Review:
While I’m sitting here writing this review, a Seattle Groupon advertisement is trying to get me to buy nachos with some amazingly tasty-looking picture in my sidebar. Now I really want some nachos. I just turned on the television and the advertisements while I’m perusing the OnDemand selections (because who can be bothered to watch television in real time these days?) made me want to watch The Fighter again. But I’m not going to! (I’m going to watch Clueless, duh) My mom told me today that Bath & Body Works is bringing back Copa Cabana scented lotion so I just bought lots of it online. (It was Buy 3, get 2 free!! OMGZZ!) We are sick. Our entire consumer-based society makes me ill but I am a willing participant in a lot of it.
This book is set in a (plausible?) future wherein our consumer desires have taken over. Corporations rule the roost, run the schools, and implant wetware into humans so people can research online without having to do any work, receive targeted ads and shop 24/7, and chat their friends without, you know, having to move their lips. There isn’t an incentive to learn anything because your feed can just tell you what you need to know. It’s soooo MEG! Titus and his friends do all sorts of unit things like frag around in clubs on the moon, wear whatever the hip new style of clothing is (I actually laughed out loud at the conversation about the geriatric chic clothing—canes, walkers, muumuus—and the riotware—the “Kent State Collection”), and go mal (malfunction) which is the equivalent of getting f*&ked up. No one seems to give a second thought to the system they are a part of--save a few people. Titus meets Violet on the shuttle to the moon and she got her feed later than most. Because her parents are academics she still has a lot of experience reading actual books, speaking (in the air as opposed to chatspeak), and philosophizing. She, arguably foolishly, tries to get Titus and his friends to actually think about what their consumptive lifestyle means in the larger scale of things. It was frustrating to listen to his friends let her inquiries about their knowledge of worldwide riots, mass killings, deforestation, etc. just slide off them—they just called her pretentious and said she was on the lookout for any sign of the decline of civilization. Sigh.
This aspect of the book, actually thinking about the effects of disposable culture and (over)consumption really struck home for me. I am fascinated by attempts to create closed-loop manufacturing systems. (ideally, a circle from raw materials through to end product in which little to nothing is wasted and byproducts may be used rather than disposed of) and the entire seven generation sustainability concept. (making our ecological decisions based on their effect seven generations ahead). But do I get ecstatic thinking about new video games coming out? Yes, I totally do. Can our individual environmental choices actually effectively change anything
? Is our only choice to either watch our entire world deplete its resources at a disgusting rate oroverthrow it all and start anew?
Even at the end of this book, though it ends on a semi-hopeful note, I was still depressed. The types of people who would probably benefit the most from reading a satire like this will never read it.
While I feel like this book was successful at making me think a lot about our current society and its possible devolution into something even more corporate than it already is, I don’t know if this book is as successful as it could’ve been. I thought Unwind
was so fascinating because it brought up tons of societal issues while still having an engaging plot. Here, I was only passively interested in what was going on in the story. Which brings me to the audiobook—awesome. The audiobook is narrated by one man but the feed portions are actually done by a cast and it sounds completely real. You hear all sorts of crazy commercials and advertisements just like you are actually experiencing the feed. I really don’t think I would’ve enjoyed this one as much in book form—maybe 3 stars—but the audiobook popped it up to a 4. 4/5 stars
Daughter of Smoke and Bone
Author: Laini Taylor
Publication Date: 9/27/11
Publisher: Little Brown
Blurb (GR): Around the world, black handprints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky.
In a dark and dusty shop, a devil's supply of human teeth grown dangerously low.
And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherworldly war.
Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real; she's prone to disappearing on mysterious "errands"; she speaks many languages—not all of them human; and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she's about to find out.
When one of the strangers—beautiful, haunted Akiva—fixes his fire-colored eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?
A girl grows up in the world, knowing not where she came from of who she actually is. Her memories amount to those she’s gathered whilst being raised by a group of monsters, one of whom served as a father figure to her. Now an art student in Prague, Karou runs errands for Brimstone, her father figure, and travels the world through portals to retrieve teeth from hunters and their ilk who collect them in every way imaginable. (for real) Karou doesn’t know what the teeth are actually used for though she does know there is a magical air to Brimstone and the shop he runs. Since childhood, she’s been helping herself to tiny stones that amount to wishes and sometimes, if she was lucky, he’d give her larger ones to use for weightier wishes—all the while warning her to never be flippant with her intentions. There is a cost to everything. Lately, Brimstone has been gone from the shop and looking rundown. Everything falls apart in her world in a quick turn and the pieces add up to a centuries-long war, in which she and a few that she knows play pivotal roles.
This is it, folks, one of those rare instances when reality meets expectations. This is 420 pages of generally well-paced fantasy. I say generally because the action is back-loaded, which makes sense since this is the first book in a scheduled series and the setup is complete. (imagine that!) I was telling my sister about the writing and I truly don’t know another author that writes like Laini Taylor. She writes atmospheric, poetic prose that hits home and feels current. She makes me believe in, and I’m holding my barf in while I say it, WHIMSY in everyday life. She makes me want to go to all the places she describes and creates such vivid characters and settings that I can imagine it all so perfectly. And how easy is it to imagine creatures that are a mishmash of 4 or 5 different animals? Usually not so easy but in Taylor’s world, it is effortless.
Something else I found so intriguing about this book was the fact that it is so unclear who the good guys and bad guys are—everyone is existing in some kind of confusion. What are they fighting for? Is either side’s goal better than the other? The second half of the book jumps all over the place temporally-speaking but I didn’t find it hard to keep up with where we were or who we were following. It was almost as if a question was brought up in the present and then the story would jump back years earlier to explain what it meant. I was equally intrigued by the current and past stories and both the action going on in our world as well as the chimaera/seraphim world.
If you’re thinking that this blurb does nothing for you, throw that thought out of your mind. I hate angel books, especially the fallen angel cliché. I hate reading about instantaneous love. There is nothing cliché about Laini Taylor’s story—even if these elements appear in it. I loved everything about it, even the love story between Karou and Akiva. It isn’t distressingly rare that I find the torment that characters carry around with them to be believable but I believed it here.
The ending is certainly a cliffhanger but it felt like a natural stopping point in the overall arc. I can’t wait to read more of the story but I am not outraged that it ended where it did.
Thank you so much to my wonderful friend who let me borrow this prized possession of hers!
Author: Veronica Roth
Publication Date: 5/3/11
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
In Beatrice Prior's dystopian Chicago, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue—Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is—she can't have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.
During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles to determine who her friends really are—and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes infuriating boy fits into the life she's chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she's kept hidden from everyone because she's been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers a growing conflict that threatens to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves . . . or it might destroy her.
Debut author Veronica Roth bursts onto the literary scene with the first book in the Divergent series—dystopian thrillers filled with electrifying decisions, heartbreaking betrayals, stunning consequences, and unexpected romance.
This book is getting so much hype, I think my blood pressure was running high before I even began. Basically, this book is 486 pages of action-packed fun. While I have a few gripes with it, this book basically delivered what you are all hoping it will.
Beatrice (Tris) Prior lives in a future Chicago where everyone is divided into six factions: Abegnation (the selfless), Dauntless (the courageous), Erudite (the knowledge-seekers), Amity (the hippies, oops, I mean the peaceful), and Candor (the honest). At sixteen, each young person is put through an aptitude test which determines the faction they will join for life--usually the one in which they've grown up. Tris, however, ends up in a different faction and this book follows her initiation trials in the Dauntless faction.
I read an interview somewhere in which Veronica Roth
said she wanted to write a standalone. I get that--the YA market is saturated with series, but by dropping us into this world and then concentrating on Tris' trials, I felt like I was missing that undercurrent of rebellion. I'm sure this book will be compared to Hunger Games
more times than anyone can count, but hey! that's a lot more flattering than comparing every vampire book to Twilight
. Anyway, in Hunger Games
, you could feel the rebellion growing. I was constantly wondering what was going on in other districts--and Suzanne Collins
made us worry
about it all. In Divergent
, this element was lacking. I loved most of the book, but the climax and wrapup (if you can call it that) are only in the last 50 pages! This is an instance where I wish the author had built up the tension a little more, maybe given us a few other characters in different factions, and saved the ending scenes for a second (or third!) book. I just laughed a little bit thinking about how this book could've used a little dose of Matched
to slow it down...
I hated the name of the male love interest. I don't want to spoiler it for any of you so I'm putting it in here--> view spoiler
in original Goodreads review.
I keep trying to discuss this book with people so I can't wait till all you GR friends of mine get into it, too! You'll love it. Well, at least "really like it." I did.
Blood Red Road
Author: Moira Young
Publication Date: 6/7/11
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry
Saba has spent her whole life in Silverlake, a dried-up wasteland ravaged by constant sandstorms. The Wrecker civilization has long been destroyed, leaving only landfills for Saba and her family to scavenge from. That's fine by her, as long as her beloved twin brother Lugh is around. But when a monster sandstorm arrives, along with four cloaked horsemen, Saba's world is shattered. Lugh is captured, and Saba embarks on an epic quest to get him back. Suddenly thrown into the lawless, ugly reality of the world outside of desolate Silverlake, Saba is lost without Lugh to guide her. So perhaps the most surprising thing of all is what Saba learns about herself: she's a fierce fighter, an unbeatable survivor, and a cunning opponent. And she has the power to take down a corrupt society from the inside. Teamed up with a handsome daredevil named Jack and a gang of girl revolutionaries called the Free Hawks, Saba stages a showdown that will change the course of her own civilization. Blood Red Road
has a searing pace, a poetically minimal writing style, violent action, and an epic love story. Moira Young is one of the most promising and startling new voices in teen fiction.
Have you ever wanted to read a bleak quest novel narrated by a rough and ready Elly May Clampett from the Beverly Hillbillies? If so, this one’s for you! Just kidding. Er, sort of. The narration style of this will certainly alienate some readers but after the first 15-20 pages, I didn’t really notice it anymore. In fact, it actually felt comfortable. Saba, the protagonist in this work, lives in a barren dustland with her Pa, younger sister Emmi, and her twin, Lugh. Saba’s narration is due to the fact that she and her siblings have lived an isolated life and never learned to read or write, which seems typical of basically everyone in the story. It’s never totally clear how our world has morphed into Saba’s world or where all the “Wreckers” (presumably us) have gone, but Young’s world stands on its own. (and frankly, at the rate our disposable culture is going no one has to try very hard to convince me that our world will be shit in the not-so-distant future) The descriptions of the sandy dunes, the blowing winds, and the overall bleakness of the landscape made my lips dry and my throat raspy. It’s probably best to keep a cup of ice water nearby—you’ll want it. Trust me.
After a group of men on horseback come to their home, kill Saba’s father, and kidnap her twin brother, Saba is on a mission to rescue Lugh from the danger he is in. For me, the best part of the story is Saba’s journey from the time she leaves home until she leaves Hopetown. (this makes up roughly the first half of the book) I mean, wouldn’t every YA book be a little bit better with more cagefighting? Think on that. I absolutely don’t want to ruin any of the storyline for you. I want you to be as surprised as I was—and there were several moments when I was super excited to find out what would happen next.
This novel has a very strong set of supporting characters. Saba is supported in her mission by her sister, Emmi, whom Saba undervalues and disregards for much of the book. Emmi shows her worth several times over, and I’m hoping that she will be an even larger part of the rest of the series. I had a smile on every time Epona showed up in the story--any fellow Zelda lovers will know why. (cue me watching 20 minutes of people playing the ocarina on Youtube) Epona, Maeve, and Ash are all Free Hawks, a gung-ho group of female warriors who raid and harass authority. They show up several times in the story, and will likely be part of the series to come. In addition, Saba’s love interest, Jack, is along for most of the journey. I can see how the romantic elements of this story might annoy some people or feel unrealistic. However, I thought Saba’s naïveté in some respects balanced out with her tough exterior. She fumbled a bit, they both did, but I believed it in this world where people are lacking human connections. The love that frustrated me the most was that between the siblings. Saba is willing to risk her life more than once to save her brother, who we only get to know for the first 10 pages or so. Emmi, on the other hand, Saba is willing to just dump off several times in the story. Young does
give an explanation for this but it just comes off as Saba being absolutely one-minded about saving Lugh and her self-involvement. She really does come more into herself by the end of the story—and I hope she continues to become the woman she could be in later series installments.
Zach Galifianakis does a comedy bit wherein he describes “suggested looks” for his stylist to go for including the “person who writes on alpaca message boards,” “the homeless professor,” and “the lighthouse attendant.” His beard really lends itself to all of these looks. Anyway, I was thinking about how to describe this book and here it goes…
Just give me the Wizard of Oz
quest with grit and less happy fun times.
Just give me The Road
with teenagers and a fantasy vibe.
Just give me a post-apoc Dune
not in space and with less bizarre shit.
Just give me The Fellowship of the Ring
set in Mordor without the overly burdensome description or any of the fantastical beings.
Just give me House of the Scorpion
but instead of opium, it’s chaal and there isn’t any cloning.
The last one is probably the most accurate but please don’t get the idea that I think this book is overly derivative. Pretty much everything is derivative these days and that is not always a bad thing. I love all of the books I compared this one to and Moira Young
did a fantastic job of telling a gripping story. I agree with other reviewers who argue that the first half of this book is much more solid than the latter half. That’s true, but I was enthralled the entire way through. My gripes with the novel were few but the most glaring was the number of coincidences. In real life, plans don't go off without a hitch and people don't show up at the exact moment
you absolutely need them.
I think this book stands out in the YA dystopian scene and it is a solid 4 star read. I’m crossing my fingers here but I think the second and third books have immense potential to be 5-star reads.
Eon: Dragoneye Reborn (Eon, #1)
Author: Alison Goodman
Publication Date: 8/1/08
Publisher: Viking Juvenile
Blurb (GR): Eon has been studying the ancient art of Dragon Magic for four years, hoping he'll be able to apprentice to one of the twelve energy dragons of good fortune. But he also has a dark secret. He is actually Eona, a sixteen-year-old girl who has been living a dangerous lie for the chance to become a Dragoneye, the human link to an energy dragon's power. It is forbidden for females to practice the Dragon Magic and if discovered Eon faces a terrible death.
**When I originally made this graph, it was on a 5-star scale. It would be 6.5-7 out of 10 on a 10-point scale.
A Few More Points:
*If you want someone to seem like a villain, do NOT make them taste like a creamsicle when you kiss them. Vanilla and orange=AWESOME.
*How DARE you end a book at that point! (just kidding, Ms. Goodman. You hooked me for the next one)
*I hope that Chart is part of book two. When he says "Sluuuuut" to Irsa, I laughed out loud at the audiobook. (One high point of the audio version which, overall, left a lot to be desired)
I listened to part of this and read the remainder because the narrator began to grate on my nerves.
Paranormalcy (Paranormalcy, #1)
Author: Kiersten White
Evie’s always thought of herself as a normal teenager, even though she works for the International Paranormal Containment Agency, her ex-boyfriend is a faerie, she’s falling for a shape-shifter, and she’s the only person who can see through paranormals’ glamours.
But Evie’s about to realize that she may very well be at the center of a dark faerie prophecy promising destruction to all paranormal creatures.
So much for normal. Review:
When you look at the cover of this book, what do you think it is about? A blond teenage girl is wearing a prom dress in a field of pussy willows or wheat or something equally nonsensical. Here's a new cover that crushes the actual book cover on the relevancy front (though regrettably not in terms of artistic merit):
I mean, I went into this thinking it was going to be another YA paranormal romance and IT ISN'T. It is decidedly fun YA urban fantasy
book. (jacket copy reading is for losers) It has a pretty kickass heroine, mermaids, werewolves (that may or MAY look like an Ewok in my picture), people made of water, people made of fire, vampires, trolls, nymphs, faeries, and everything else you can think of. Why would you trick your audience with the wheat field?
I digress. Evie has lived in the Center for as long as she can remember. She was picked up at the age of three and put through the foster system until the IPCA (Int'l Paranormal Containment Agency) realizes that she can see through glamours produced by all paranormals. As a vital asset, she goes out to bag-and-tag all sorts of beings for the agency. Things get a little dicey when all sorts of paranormals are being killed, the Center is invaded, and some faeries are being total douchebags. Speaking of faeries, Reth sounds like a noise someone makes when they are choking on something. Reeeth...Reeeeth...I'm retching here, it's too bad you can't hear it.
I felt like the last third or so wasn't as strong as the rest of the book. The story moved at a relaxed but appealing pace until a total break occurred and then it was out of whack. Fun, sure, but I was perfectly happy with the natural pacing of the relationship--I was glad it wasn't going into trite YA foreverlove territory, and it still didn't...but it did get a little cheesified.
Kiersten White has a great sense of humor. Her characters were funny and fans of Buffy will definitely find something appealing about the friendships and storyline. I'm excited to see where it goes in the second book--Supernaturally
.(which, incidentally, has Evie in a red dress and with some red (and probably completely irrelevant) flowers on the cover) 4/5 stars