I had a very hard time with this - I can withstand some plot or setting holes if the story or characters are interesting. But this just had me rolling my eyes throughout the entire read.
Some male writers get criticized for making women nuns or whores - and nothing in between. Well, in this book we have the female writer version: men are rapists or purely angelic. And any female in the book is a good person - there are no shades of grey in there. Even Arden, who is supposed to be the 'bag girl' loses all personality half way through the book. And let's not get into the love interest, Caleb, whose personality and distinctiveness is as thin as a piece of paper. But the big problem is Eve herself. Helpless, mopey....this the person who supposedly suddenly rebelled after a lifetime of following rules? Her traits change by the minute and just don't make sense. But really, that she isn't a strong person or becomes strong based on her trials is the real let down for me. If you start out with a milquetoast 'save me!' character, at least give her room to grow and not need to be saved over and over.
This book is riddled with plot/story issues that just can't be glossed over. A lot of YA dystopian requires suspension of disbelief and to not think too hard about the story/plot - but the inconsistencies in this one are so glaring that it's impossible not to completely trip over them. Things like the heroine running in a dark rainy forest at night - yet she's able to see just fine where she's going. And despite being closely chased with pursuers right behind her, her love interest calls out to her all the time from across a river. That along the side of the river is a random crashed helicopter and they hide in it because the pursuers are close behind - and the pursuers don't check it carefully despite not finding the heroine anywhere else in the forest? Or better yet, in a backyard with a pool and a tall fence, pursuers running right behind them, the two girls hide in a small shed - as if the pursuers wouldn't find them? Really? Or the girl they meet up with in the Arizona desert has mosquito bites....
And the whole world setup just doesn't make sense. Plague I get - but characters walk around or use a horse in the ruined suburbs. Why not a bike? And why are there only men out in the lands - why not women? And yeah, I think it is a good idea to take a sheltered girl and throw her out into the horrors of a post apocalyptic world with nothing to her name - all to 'save' her? Let's face it, she would be set up for a far more horrific fate than being a brood mare chained to a bed (which doesn't make sense either - chained to a bed for 9 months ???? Bedsores, anyone?)
Ok, so nothing worked for me. 2 stars because it wasn't hard to read.
The narrator did a fine job. I'm just glad I got this on sale or I'd be really upset I wasted a credit on this quality of book.
Written in Red is a solidly written urban fantasy of an alternate universe (or alternate planet) Earth. Most of the modern trappings are there - cities, cars, etc., but the cultural references are missing (in a good way) and instead we have a very different set of humans and humanity in a supernatural world.
Megan barely escapes the prison she has been raised in her whole life - a place where women who are able to read the future are trained solely to that purpose so their 'minders' can profit from their visions. Megan knows nothing of the outside world except what her handlers felt she needed in order to give the best prophecies/to translate their visions welle nough. But she will have to make her way if she is to survive. She ends up being taken in by the Others - werewolves, elementals, vampires and more who live in enclaves in the human cities but outside of human law. She must earn their trust: for the men who owned her are powerful and she represents a staggering amount of lost investment and clout if she remains missing.
Anne Bishop did an excellent job of creating strong characters who stay consistent throughout. We don't have the cliches of strong minded girl, noble knight in shining armor, caring friends. Instead, we have a purposefully simple character (Meg) who wins over very jaded individuals because of that simplicity. She's not stupid but she hasn't been educated or experienced life outside of the institution in which she was 'protected' since she was born. Bishop gives Meg a humanity and the standoffish nature of the Others is well written. But without the fish out of water scenes that would get annoying.
I really enjoyed this first in the series. For once, the non-action scenes are as endearing as the fight scenes are exciting. Characters are very fully realized as is the world building. No one felt like one dimensional cutouts, which was refreshing. And there's no instalov and a very hinted at love story that will likely be built upon in further volumes.
The narrator did an excellent job.
I'm going to admit to a huge ambivalence about this second book in the Grisha series. On the one hand, I am still loving the world and the magic concepts. But then when it comes to the characters and the action sequences, I'm either bored or baffled. Seems like there would be an amazing story here with different people.
In Siege and Storm, Alina and Mal are trying to remain hidden from the Darkling. But double crosses (from both the Darkling and his allies) will force Alina and Mal back to the heart of Ravka. With a new (and interesting) ally, facing the Darkling in the open rather than in hiding may be their only option.
Book two suffers from a couple of sophomore symptoms: 'manufactured' conflict between the two romantic leads, emasculation of the male love interest, a dead dull, bloated middle arc, and recycled storylines from the first book. It was the same themes over again (Darkling capturing Alina and threatening someone she cares about, Alina trusting and getting romantically involved with a stranger, a large section of nothing but Alina moping/learns new responsibilities, then big action at the end) that made for a frustrating book.
But at the same time, there was an attempt at character growth for both Alina and Mal, though one moved forward and the other backward. Yes, every girl in the story wants Mal and every guy in the story seems to want Alina. That gets old and seems to only be there to create jealousy and uncertainty in the Mal-Alina relationship. As such, it made it hard to get into either character. Mal was an elusive character at best in the previous book - now he's practically inscrutable in his insecurity.
The action scenes were also very problematic for me. It seems that none of the Grisha were able to use their powers for anything other than collecting water or making a breeze. Alina can only do a sickle strike with her powers. Even knowing that an army of smoke like creatures are coming, no one seems to bother to create any kind of defense or train to defend/attack those creatures. We get one crazy invention and that's it. I admittedly became really annoyed that all the Grisha and soldiers were so amazingly ineffectual. As well, the Darkling's new power is supposedly life sucking but he seems to be able to summon an entire army just fine, other than looking a bit tired. It just didn't ring true.
There are consequences for those who side with the Darkling. And a few surprises (with hints that Mal is more than he seems) with a trail leading back to the birthplace of Mal and Alina. I'm excited, despite my lukewarm response of this book, to see where Bardugo ends the Trilogy.
The narrator did a good job and felt right for the part of Alina.
Champion was a satisfying ending to a solid dystopian trilogy - one of the most underrated in the last few years, in my opinion. Author Marie Lu manages to sidestep a lot of the cliches of the genre and end with a satisfying but not pat ending. But she also stays true to the Les Miserable inspiration as well.
June has returned to help Anden run the Repulic as a Princeps Elect while Day grapples with a tumor slowly destroying his brain. Separated by situation, both are grappling with the deaths and grief in their lives. But Anden is losing control of the government, the Colonies have a new, dangerous ally, and everything begins to fall apart as one of the previous plagues mutates. June has to hold the government and senate together, Day has to hold his own failing health and small family together, and the only cure to the plague could very well cost him the last family member he has left alive - his younger brother Eden.
Champion is a slow burn - much more about the politics and the pathos than in action (though the finale offers quite a punch). Both June and Day have matured greatly and I really appreciated that author Lu kept their voices unique and distinct (June's obsession with numbers, Day's gutter-rat colloquialisms) yet also gave them further depth as befitting what they went through in the first two novels.
Thomas, Jameson, Tess, and others all make appearances and their stories are discretely finished in addition to Day and June's emotional arc. This really is a layered book - a study in loss, grief, hopelessness, and at the center, hope. Both Day and June ended up being very against the cliches of the genre and the depth of their journey is extremely well written.
I listened to the audible version and both narrators were excellent - really giving life and energy to the characters.
Graceling is a modern throwback to the fantasy books of the 1980s and 1990s - a straightforward story, relatively low key romance, and complete lack of over the top heroines and too-modern-sounding teens. But at the same time, some of the more frustrating YA staples are here: adults are evil and the guys all have a case of insta-love on our heroine. But it is decently enough written to keep me entertained with the Audible version.
Katsa is a graceling - blessed with an ability (in her case, ability to kill easily) that marks her as different. Her uncle, the king, uses her as his personal enforcer, sending her out to hurt those who displease him. On one such trip, Katsa encounters a young man, a prince from a neighboring country, and after that, their fates will be entwined as she must learn to use her abilities compassionately and not as her Uncle's thug. But he has a secret grace and she will be drawn into politics of the world on a grand scale.
This is a stand alone though there are two other books in this same world (one a prequel of sorts and the other a sequel but both with different characters). I did feel the book floats around quite a bit and lacks a good solid structure. As well, it can get tiring hearing Katsa echo the same thoughts over and over. Yes, we get the idea you don't want to marry. No, we don't need all the guys falling all over you even though you're supposedly deadly. And yes, we have a hero who is once again just a bit too good to be true.
I would probably rate this around 3.5 stars. It's nice to see a return to more traditional fantasy (rather than the ubiquitous YA urban fantasy) but at the same time, I wish the characters were a bit more distinct and multilayered.
The gentle nature of Persuasion is one of my favorite of Austen's works. I found the narrator to be mature but also a bit boring, lacking the vocal range to do all the different voices in a convincing manner. It very much felt like this was being read to me rather than being performed.
First and foremost, I think the ending, which has probably been discussed ad nauseum, is likely going to put off a lot of people. I understand that but necessarily agree that it wasn't necessary. And the poignancy of that 'shocker' was carefully set up so it wasn't meaningless or random. Really, it was a part of the main character's nature and a full circle - Tris was, after all, abnegation first. And unlike her brother, the Dauntless aspect gave her the courage to do what she did.
What kept this from being a 5 star read for me was that there was a LOT of filler in here. Yes, a lot was thoroughly explained to set up the whole premise of Tris' dystopian Chicago. As well, we are give a lot more information about her mother, most of which comes as a complete surprise.
Four/Tobias spends most of the book conflicted about his parents - the selfishness of his father and an abused mother who has turned into the thing she hated most: her husband. It's clear that those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.
Tris, meanwhile, has a clarity of vision that Tobias is lacking. Because once they are outside of the City, Tobias will learn that he is not who he thinks he is and may actually be far less than Tris herself. His world is rocked in many ways and really this book is more about Tobias than Tris.
As with the previous novels, the writing is solid and I appreciated the explanations and the further machinations once they exited Chicago. It is a "Truman Show' reveal that Tris soon realizes is just as destructive and apathetic as the leadership continues to be in Chicago (Janine to Evelyn).
So although many will decry the ending, I felt it was a fitting end to the series and much more realistic than a happily ever after.
Horde is the final book in the Razorland saga (the name derived from a quote main character Deuce gave about the land she has to traverse once she left the enclave). The book draws the series to a satisfying close thanks to the author not rushing to a quick ending.
Deuce and Fade had set off to Soldier's Pond in order to help save their new home - but help may not make it in time and the horde continues to grow. Deuce knows she will eventually have to fight the horde if any of the human settlements are to survive, But as she travels to each colony to try to enlist an army, she finds nothing but ridicule, frustration, and very different situations in each. Meanwhile, Stalker becomes more aggressive about his suit and Fade is still traumatized by his time was a prisoner of the Horde. And they are changing - in ways she could never have predicted - they are getting smarter and they are now an unstoppable force.
As with the two previous books, there is a lot of travel and then a lot of fighting. Deuce is afraid to lose any of her group and she will encounter and then make new companions as she traverses the mutie-strewn landscape. At the heart, is her growing relationship with Fade and the author spends a good amount of time building their relationship further. As well, Stalker, Teagan, and even her new family will all greatly change as the horde rewrites the rules of the game.
There was a lot of filler and a lot of repeating motifs (the doubt over Fade's mental stabliity, her own ability to lead an army, etc.). Especially considering that we all know from the very start that the book is leading up to the epic battle vs the horde at the end. But Aguirre is a competent writer and this is very easy to follow.
I enjoyed Horde and especially appreciated being able to listen to the book on Audible while driving. The narrator was excellent and really channeled Fade, Deuce and the other characters perfectly.
An Audible narrator can often make or break a book: in this case, we have a narrator who really appreciates the nuances of the book and brings all the quirky characters to glorious life. I can't imagine reading this on my own now without all the great affectations and accents, personality and charm, brought about by narrator Moira Quirk.
All the adventure of the first novel is in the second: Sephronia is tested and pronounced the quickest study in the history of the school. This causes problems with her friends, who distance themselves from her after being told she is furtively spying on them. But what might just be a kidnapping attempt of Dimity and her brother draws Sephronia further into the plot around the mysterious device of the first book. As well, she will find herself between two amorous boys: Soap the sootie and Lord Mersey, son of a duke. What will a girl do?
I greatly enjoyed this book - even more so than the first one. Although I didn't welcome the addition of a bit of a love triangle, the inventiveness of the names, plots, and characters more than made up for that. Sephronia gets into all the action of the first novel and uncovers plots with alacrity. Even with the whole school turned against her, Sephronia navigates her way quite intelligently and with fun.
Gail Carriger has really caught her stride with this book and I eagerly await her next book.
Tanya Huff did an excellent job bringing the world of military sci fi to life in this first novel of the Confederation series. Whip smart dialogue, believable aliens, an interesting mission/world and a very well balanced view of both the foibles and strengths of a military organization are the strengths of this story.
Staff Sergeant Torrin Kerr is assigned to assist bringing a new world into the Confederation fold. On what should be a routine assignment, hell breaks loose and she finds her company enmeshed in a lot more than bargained for in the new world. It'll take her wits and ability to lead her small company (including her commanding officer) in smart directions in order to survive.
I really liked that Kerr was street smart and in the middle rank of her company - she has superiors and she has underlings - and needs to handle both. As well, she has a company full of aliens and each has unique needs - so she constantly has to rethink her strategies for both the greater good and also individual motivational factors.
The first half of the book is very quiet - but by the end there is a lot of action. That first half is really important since it sets up Kerr's confidence and also gives us a chance to get to know each of the alien species. There are several characters and this could have been a very confusing book without. The book uses several POVs but the emphasis is on Kerr.
This is one of those books where Audible narration really shines. The narrator did an excellent job of giving a unique voice to each of the aliens yet also a distinct voice to Kerr that was very welcome. It really elevated the book for me.
Perdition is one part Kick A heroine, one part alpha male, and one part actioner - all leading up to an anti hero that you root for despite what she does to survive.
Dred murdered the previous leader of the faction in which she's now queen. But the other factions in the prison barge have realized that if they form an alliance, they can wipe out Dred's hard won peace and divvy up her part of the ship. It will drive Dred to make a horrific alliance of her own - with psychotic murderers and those who committed the most terrible of crimes to have earned them a life sentence on the barge. But Dred has allies within her kingdom and a trump card in the form of Jael, a mercenary like character with a secret that can save them both.
IN all, I liked but honestly didn't love Perdition. Sure, there were the Aguirre staples in there - lots of gore and violence and horror. But I think the setting actually upstaged the characters. Both Dred and Jael were a bit of a blank slate and very hard to get into. I didn't feel like either was a real person and it was too much like reading a graphic novel but without the pictures. If Jael is Superman then Dred was very much a Wonder Woman - complete with a 'golden lasso' type chain. Perhaps because of that, it did feel very cartoony.
That isn't to say this isn't a good novel. It is solidly written and flows well. Aguirre's strength, building a world, is well represented and you do feel like you are in that universe easily. But somewhere in the middle I kind of got bored and found I wasn't caring about any of the characters. If anything, the side characters ending up being more interesting and with a lot more complexity in their emotions, personalities, and motivations.
In all, a decent sci fi with a touch of horror and romance.
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