Undermountain is a truly unique YA story, a real breath of fresh air in a stagnant haze of vampires, werewolves and forced love triangles.
It plays hard on the one-of-a kind and extremely high-concept premise, going so far beyond the realms of believability that you can just sit back and be drawn into it.
The action comes fast and constant. The book takes off in less than 20 minutes – a real rarity these days. By switching POV’s the author has ensured we’re always following something of interest and by keeping the story relatively simple you are easily hooked in. I personally read the 10hr book in a solid 7 hour block day 1 and 3 hour block day 2 – I never wanted to put it down.
Undermountain also doesn’t obviously set up a trilogy like so many YA books do now meaning we get a true resolution and not a frustrating cliff-hanger!
Despite the pace, the diverse cast of teen characters are painted deftly and thoroughly.
This is clearly a real skill of the writer – you get an instant understanding of each characters’ truly individual personality and life with only a few sparse lines carefully sprinkled in. No clunky backstory is dropped like an anvil, no overly-politically correct or clichéd statements that uncomfortably flag the racially diverse group (and it is by the way!).
I absolutely recommend Undermountain, especially to those who need a change of pace in the YA genre.
All too often I’m let down by books and give a tepid, ‘if-you-like-the-things-I-hated-then-maybe’ recommendation so I am thrilled to have been so impressed and engrossed in Undermountian that I urge everyone to check it out!
Nobody was a tough book to get through. The novel concept had potential but it ran way too long with a flabby, padded out middle that lacked action and impact.
The problem was exacerbated by rapid head-hoping back and forth between the two protagonists’ POVs. It was a jarring style that made the chapters of circular “I love him/her but I can’t love him/her but I do love him/her” drama drag even more.
The premise was interesting and should have been the focus of the story. The relationship between the leads was intrinsically powerful - two people completely isolated from the world because of a metaphysical condition the makes them all but invisible to normal people meet and connect with another person for the first time. This touching notion could have been deftly illustrated with a light touch.
Instead we get chapters of back-and-forth, to-and-fro overly emo-emotion that added nothing to what there was of a plot. The reasonably enjoyable action of the third act felt disjointed and tacked on by the time we finally reached it.
I’m hesitant to recommend Nobody to anyone. Michael Vey by Richard Paul Evans, another high concept piece also skewered to the younger YA audience, was similarly difficult to get through but was ultimately saved by a significantly more rewarding climax and better characterisation though out.
I did love some of the ‘Nobody’ lore/mythology but that only seems to make the lacklustre narrative more disappointing. I would not even be willing to give a second book a try if Nobody was to become a series.
I enjoyed the Last Academy as a light read that managed to keep my interest.
I didn’t exactly get lost in the characters or plot and I think that’s partially because the author had to keep her cards very close in order to maintain the central mystery. This also meant the climax was a touch slow because of the all the exposition required for the final reveals.
The best moments could only happen after the mystery was revealed so I have to wonder why the author worked so hard to maintain it for both the protagonist AND the reader (who could take a pretty reasonable guess before even cracking the first page). The central themes and dramas were interesting and Last Academy could have been a more profound and thought-provoking read if it had the freedom of a more straight-forward narrative.
Still, I enjoyed what I got and that’s pretty high praise given some of the clunkers I’ve be disappointed with recently.
I’d classify Last Academy as a light piece of fiction and though I usually look for stories more intense or grander in scale there is often a need for quieter, palate cleansing fiction. Last Academy doesn’t seem to be the start of a new series, which makes it even more refreshing in the age of the trilogy.
Overall Last Academy was a fairly simple and inoffensive story. It was elevated by a few powerful character moments and themes but let down by the reliance on the thin mystery plot. I’m hesitant to all-out recommend it to any particular audience because I think expectation would be pretty toxic to anyone’s enjoyment.
All I can say is, at the end, I was happy to have read it and as a very demanding reader I don’t often say that!
I picked up Burn For Burn right after reading This is WAR because they both had similar concepts – girls teaming up for vengeance.
In This is WAR the girls wanted revenge for the murder of their best friend.
In Burn for Burn, the girls wanted revenge for people saying mean things to them!
Okay, there is a little more to it but we are not talking life or death stakes here so I had a major case of the whocaresies for the majority of the book. With such low stakes and no major investment from the three leads the plot just stagnated with pointlessness.
If the book had embraced its light-weight fare and made it fun I suppose there could have been an audience for it (not me but people seem to like the Sara Shepard dominated genre of bad thing happening to popular girls). Throw in a friendship being forged between the three ‘heroines’ with some nice character development and then we could have really had something here.
Instead we got something really, really weird and borderline stupid
I normally do spoiler-free reviews so all I can say is that in the closing pages we get a major genre shift out of basically nowhere.
Imagine watching “Bring it On” and at the final cheerleading battle we find out the Clovers team was composed of half-robot.
Imagine reading “Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants” and after the girls are all reunited with the pants, they decide they should time-travel next summer.
Would that be weird? A little jarring maybe? Would you have any idea you were signing up for anything other than stories about average teenage girls from the plot summaries and 99% of the story?
No, you wouldn’t. And neither did I when I picked up Burn for Burn. And if a supernatural twist sounds like just the ticket to breathe life into a generic and average story…you’d be mistaken. Like I said this is an 11th hour conversion with almost no bearing or impact on the (limited) story.
I guess (hope) this would be the focus of book 2 which is now available but to me that makes Burn for Burn seem like and excessive prologue I had to pay hard cash for.
I’m really not sure who to recommend this to because it isn’t satisfying as a coming of age, revenge or supernatural story. The characters had potential but like everything else in the book they seemed to get short changed by the lack of focus.
As it stands I probably won’t continue with the series but I could imagine being curious enough to want more given the lack of resolution to Burn for Burn.
SYLO is a complicated, high-concept jigsaw puzzle. Book one dumps all of the pieces out on the floor in a jumbled pile you have no idea where to start.
Now, this is kind of the norm only instead of having your edges done by the middle of the book and the complete picture by the end, SYLO just continues to dump pieces onto the pile.
By the end of the book I maybe, MAYBE had the corner pieces. In honesty I still have no real idea of what the heck is going on and neither do our heroes.
I’d normally hate a book with so little resolution/explanation but there was just something about the well-written and smartly paced story that still made it rewarding. The characters were great – not outlandish or standout just real and genuine enough to make their bravery and daring deeds under extreme circumstance even more impressive.
It also helped that I’m a sucker for stories that use setting as character and fictionalised Martha’s Vineyard was a rich background to juxtapose an outlandish story.
DJ MacHales excessive forward grated on me but the guy clearly has skills and totally won me over.
So while I didn’t like where the story ended, I loved the bulk of it enough to give it a qualified recommended.
It was a seriously high-concept story that remained totally grounded so it’s great for young and old readers not into hard science fiction or fantasy (like me).
However, I can see the lack of resolution and clarity by the end being a real problem for some readers. If you’re concerned maybe wait until book 2 is released. I’d be a lot happier if I could go straight into the next volume!
I loved the first book and immediately purchased Don’t Look Now upon its release.
I praised Don’t Turn Around for being smart and gutsy both in story and characterisation. They say you should be careful what you wish for though…
Everything I loved about the first book seemed to have morphed into something inaccessible in the second book. The story was so far in motion when the book began I no longer felt like I was being treated as a smart reader but being cheated out of major parts of the story.
The tough and aloof heroine faced the challenges of social interaction and romantic entanglements only to become even more distanced and obtuse.
The multiple POVs that always kept us with the action were increased and I felt like I didn’t get to spend enough time with any of the characters.
Now I could have forgiven a lot of this in the grand scheme of things because book 1 was so good and I still have hope for the series.
Unfortunately something happened before the turn into act 3 that made the book simply irredeemable. I do spoiler-free reviews so all I’ll say is that the author has the heroine do something wilfully and unnecessarily stupid just to bring about the final act action. Selling out a character you’ve spent 2 books building as tough, smart and independent just because you need some action to cover a lack of plot resolution is utterly unacceptable
Yeah, I’ll read third book in the series when it’s released but this entry is torched for me.
I’m sincerely disappointed with Don’t Look Now and while I’ll continue to recommend the series, I can’t really tell people to pick this one up as it stands.
For anyone who has read my gushing reviews of TimeRiders Book 1 and 2, let me prove I am not completely biased by saying Book 3: Doomsday Code was weak compared to the first two in terms of its standalone plot.
The setting of medieval England and exploration of the ‘robin hood’ mythology was cute but it definitely lacked the peril and punch of the first two
Where Doomsday Code shone though was delving a little deeper into the growing mystery of the whole series. Each book has supplied some new information about the origin of the TimeRiders, the creators of time travel and the bleak future where time travel has been invented and is seen as humanities only hope. This story cemented some suspicions and frame, what I hope, will be some really meaty future conflicts in the series.
Some readers might be disappointed then with the lack of resolution to major plot elements in the book but as this is only Book 3 of a so far stellar 8 book series; I’m prepared to forgive it.
If you’re already on the TimeRiders journey, definitely pick up Book 3 but be prepared to lose a little momentum in the so far, action-packed series. It’s not entirely a bad thing and the series continues to be excellent value.
I was instantly hooked on TimeRiders from chapter one and I plunged immediately into book two, desperate for more!
The Day of the Predator plot follows a similar action-packed formula as book 1 – the TimeRiders are split between past and present to deal with both the causes and consequences of a drastically altered timeline.
Only now they are dealing with dinosaurs!
The action is constant in both the past and the present and I was riveted.
What I loved most, though, was Book 2 having the opportunity to flesh out the world of the TimeRiders further. I loved the lore of the time travel and Day of the Predator gave new insights and twists as well as set up some plot threads that will carry through the series.
Honestly, all I can do as this point is continue to rave manically about my love for the TimeRiders series so I'll wrap it up.
If you loved book one, then I can’t believe you haven’t just bought this already!
If you were somehow…unbelievably...lukewarm on Book 1, well I urge you to still give Day of the Predator a go since the world and series is given roots that will carry through in this instalment.
I strongly recommend Time Riders: Day of the Predator for readers of all ages.
I’ll also point out the length continues to be excellent value for money!
If you’ve read my other reviews you’ll know I’m a pretty level-headed reader so I don’t say this lightly…OH MY GOD I LOVE THIS BOOK!!
Seriously, BUY THIS BOOK IMMEDIATELY!!
I haven’t been this enchanted with a series since I first picked up Harry Potter!
TimeRiders utilise illegal time travel technology, sent from our future, in order to restore the correct history when nefarious travellers make changes.
I’ve had my eye on TimeRiders for a while as a big fan of time travel stories and I was thrilled to finally have the audiobooks available.
The lore/mythology of the time travel was light but very clever and enjoyable. The structure of the story – multiple POVs in both the past and present – shows the reader ‘butterfly effects’ in real-time which is great fun. It also packs the books with action as the all the members of the TimeRiders team must work to battle the devastating effects of altered history in both the past and present.
Book one jumped went into the genres’ big guns – Hitler, JFK and even 9/11. If you think you’ve seen that all before, trust me, TimeRiders’ approach was fresh and original (also respectful!).
I’ve torn through the first four available books in a giddy rush and I’ve raved about the TimeRiders series to anyone who would listen.
I cannot recommend TimeRiders strongly enough to readers of all ages.
They are also amazing value for such lengthy books so you really can’t go wrong!
I predict this is book/series is going to blow up so I urge everyone to get on board early!
The 'air elemental' angle was novel for me and I absolutely adored the lore that fleshed out the book. I found little things like the Southerly winds being tropical and lazy while Northern winds being frigid and demanding really clever.
I also had fun with the 'wind bending' techniques and was completely hooked waiting to see all the training come together in the final battle.
The dual male and female protagonists were very well drawn and I loved their relationship. The interplay was complex, clever, cute and so much better than the usual "he's hot and she's hot so they must get together" paint-by-numbers YA romance. The drama between them was genuine and the climax was sincere.
The story itself was also very strong and it moved purposely, never getting side-tracked or wallowing. It expertly weaved the respective pasts, presents and futures of Audra and Vane together for a tightly layered and well-paced story.
I will definitely check out the next book in the series as soon as it is released. I strongly recommend Let the Sky Fall to everyone into YA especially those looking for a fresh paranormal concept or just a well-written story!
I've largely avoided the flood of half-angel/half-demon YA fiction that's hit the market in the last few years. When the sticky subject of religion is broached in YA fic it seems to be either too preachy and pushing the authors' agenda or thrown in as a plot point to make the protagonists seem 'deep'.
That being said, I honestly can't even tell you what compelled me to give "Sweet Evil" a go! I definitely mustn't have read the Audible summary above because reading it again now to keep my review spoiler-free it sounds likes trite, clichéd nonsense.
In reality, "Sweet Evil" was a well written and enjoyable read.
At no point did I feel like the religious aspects were preaching or being glossed over which was really refreshing and speaks to great skill in the craftsmanship of the novel.
Similarly, the characters were very well drawn and the relationships were enjoyably authentic. The author managed to keep virtuous Anne true to herself AND realistic never selling her out as soon as she got an eye-full of the hot bad-boy like so many other YA books do.
I've seen complaints in reviews about a lack of action and resolution. If you've read any of my other reviews you know I'm scathing about these kinds of transgressions but honestly, I was completely satisfied with "Sweet Evil".
Looking back I guess a lot of 'stuff' didn't happen and, given the supernatural bent, a lot of explaining had to be done through expository dialogue. There was however, never a time when I felt bored or discontent. New information was always coming through, new developments with characters and relationships were always happening and I found the whole book enjoyable.
Sweet Evil didn't end with a cliff-hanger (an absolute no-no for me) and I'm happily moving straight onto Book 2.
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