Okay, I listened to the entire series within 2 weeks, so I'm only commenting on the first book and I will separately comments on book 6 (only because I had something specific to say about the last book).
This whole series is amazing!!!
Like other commenters have said, the author keeps the story moving so there are no lulls of boredom and only constant action. It's also very, very sexy, so brace yourself!
At first, I had a major issue with the main male character, Bones', accent (harsh British, not the sexy British accent of James Bond or someone else), but by the end of book 1, and definitely by the book 2, I found myself looking forward to hearing from Bones. (I die every time he calls her by her 'pet' name.)
The relationship between Cat and Bones is EPIC throughout the series. I love this couple! They are INTENSE!
I also have to give it up to the narrator, Tavia Gilbert. As you move through this series, she only gets better and better. Her ability to convincingly narrate the several voices and accents of the many characters is flawless. She can say a line without even telling you who is speaking and you know which characters are conversing. She is also the only narrator I've experienced who sounds like she's acting out the scene physically. Not so much in the first couple of books, but definitely by the last couple of books, she sounds like she's taking blows in the fights scenes as well as dishing them out. I really have to give this narrator props.
Books 1-4 are my favs. I felt like books 5 and 6 went a little stray (not to mention I hadn't realized two spin-offs were written about side characters which then feed into book 6 - - so I was a little confused about sudden new details in book 6 that I hadn't experienced since I didn't read the spin-offs). Despite the spin-offs, the author does catch you up on what happend briefly, but it felt odd not to read and experience the major events myself.
I'm looking forward to book 7 though. Book 6 definitely set up what the focus of book 7 will be...
I really wanted to like this story. I love anything infused with mythology and the discovery of power and strength (both inner and physical). Unfortunately, I felt like this story skipped around a lot, rushed through what I would have thought to be important developmental steps in Daire's self-discovery, and failed to satisfy the cravings it created.
The beginning of the story is full of mystery, but nothing is ever really solved or explained. I get the author was trying to avoid "telling" the reader the answers, but instead allowing the reader to discover them...unfortunately, it really felt like I was left hanging.
At one point Daire goes on a vision quest, in which she has to find her inner strength and hone her ability to distinguish between reality and illusion. But then out of nowhere the vision quest is suddenly over after what seems merely a struggle of Daire trying not to be a quitter, and out of nowhere she's enlightened and knows all about random powers without any explanation. I don't want to give away any spoilers, so I'll just say that what should have been an major developmental step in Daire's journey fell flat.
And then, the time period that should have been full of training and new knowledge is completely skipped over. In fact, the timeline of the whole novel felt very choppy.
Sorry but slight spoiler...before Daire's abilities and purpose or explaned to her (although not really truly explained to the reader), her "visions" are believed to be a psychotic break and a sign of mental disease, to the point her mother is considering institutionalizing her. Then, she moves in with dear old Abuela, and Daire's visions stablize. Then suddenly Daire's mom reappears and wants to force Daire to leave her new home with Abuela and move in to LA, without any consideration to her mental state (since her mom has no clue as to her powers). Ummmm...what happend to you being ready to commit her? Why would you suddenly try to remove her from the only environment where your daughter isn't going mentally insane according to your understanding? It makes no sense and seemed like a sudden forced conflict.
Basically, if you're in to mythology and want a few short steamy romantic moments (which also leave you hanging) then this story might be interesting for you. It was the only reason I gave it 3 stars instead of 2.
Otherwise, it really wasn't a favorite.
This story is well worth a listen. It really captured my attention and I couldn't stop listening until the mystery was solved. To be honest, I had my suspicions in the beginning (no spoilers here); but despite my predictions coming true, the twists were not blatantly obvious.
I respect the main character, Ismae, and was glad to see her grow into her own. There's no surprise that she forms a bond with Duvall (okay slight spoiler - though obvious), but it was nicely developed and not awkwardly thrust upon the reader.
I did wish the author elaborated on describing the scenes and the fashion a bit more. In period pieces, like this, unless you actually Google the time period, it's hard to imagine where the characters are and what they actually look like by simply naming the piece of clothing or the room and not actually describing it in detail. In checking in to the time period, however, it was fun to discover the true history woven into the story.
I also really liked the incorporation of mythology by the author.
As far as the title suggesting this story is going to merely be about a female assassin (yes, I got the La Femme Nakita sense at first) and full of action, it's actually far from it once the story really gets going. I would catagorize it more of a mystery/thriller with a touch of romance.
After getting hooked on the characters of this book, I was actually very excited to look into Book 2 to learn more about them. Unfortunately, I am dissappointed to report Book 2 is apparenty focused on another assassin (Sybella) which makes a few (though vital) appearances in Book 1. Despite my disappointment to not get to explore the life of Ismae in detail anymore, I did find Sybella's character quite intriguing however, and still look forward to experiencing her side of the story. FYI, I hear Book 2 won't be published until 2013.
I avoided purchasing Shatter Me for months. In fact, I first became interested in the story when I read a review from an author I admire who loved Shatter Me. But when I tried the sample on Audible.com, I thought the narrator's voice sounded whiney and I couldn't get past the "scratch out" noise.
Then I kept finding new authors I enjoyed, and when I would read their blogs, many of them raved about Shatter Me. So then I put it in my "wish list" category and it sat there for months. I just couldn't get past the sample offered.
Finally, I downloaded the book , being too lazy to research a new book and settling on just choosing from my wish list. WOW! What was I waiting for? Shatter Me is exciting and such a good listen - - probably more so for females as far as following the main character's erratic thought process.
The narrator's voice is not whiney at all. I think the sample doesn't do Kate Simses justice. Yes, her voice is higher pitched, but after a moment or so, it's not at all annoying. And the narrator does a great job interpretting and relaying Juliet's (protagonist) internal thought process and emotions. The narrator also does decent male voices - - I just finished two separate books with horrible male voices by a female narrator so this is quite a relief.
Further, the sample (and another review on here) give the impression that the entire story is going to be full of the "scratch out" noise. I interpret this noise to be Juliet's mental stopping or scratching out of her thought process to redirect herself in a different way. In the beginning of the story, Juliet's mind isn't exactly in the most stable place, so her thoughts are more jumbled and the "scratch out" noise happens more often. However, this noise is not as overwhelming or distracting as I thought it would be, and eventually, you don't even notice it at all.
As for the story itself, it's terribly romantic - - not in a horrible gushy way, but in an appropriately steamy way. I love the relationship between Juliet and Adam. But I especially love how the antagonist (Warner) really complicates matters. I have my suspicions as far as his significance, and I can't wait for book 2 to see what happens with him.
I think the author does a great GREAT job of keeping the reader (listener) guessing as far as what Juliet's "issue" is, as well as the current state of civilization (don't want to give away spoilers) as well as a whole array of twists and surprises that actually make sense to the story and help it develop.
I read another review that complains this story is not really a Dystopian novel. I disagree. While yes, this story focuses mainly on character and relationship development, and less on formation of the Dystopian realm of the novel, the end of book 1 clearly sets up the Dystopian world that is about to be revealed to Juliet. It's basically a huge teaser, which worked on me. FYI, Book 2 is said to be set to release in February 2013.
I would sum this story up as an I Am Legend meets Hunger Games (though there are no "games").
The main character, Deuce, is admirable, brave, and pretty bad a** for her age. At the same time, she's naive, but not because she lacks intellegence; she's grown up in sheltered circumstances and she's barely past childhood.
I am excited for book 2 (The Outpost - which apparently is set for publication September 2012) so I can follow Deuce as she matures and grows into the relationships she's established.
There is a triangle established in this first book, though due to Deuce's naivety and age, I wouldn't go so far as to call it a "love triangle" yet. But this is one of the things that makes Deuce's story interesting. It's not the typical YA novel of, OMG I've immediately fallen in love with two different boys and don't know what to do; it's not mushy at all. There's a lot more of an organic nature to the growth of the relationships in this story, and it's one of the reasons I look forward to book 2.
The story is also action packed and moves along at a good pace; you don't get bored.
The narrator took some getting used to. She sounds awfully young and, at first, I found her high pitched voice annoying. But I got over it pretty fast and her voice actually matches Deuces character pretty well. I just wish she did more convincing male voices. Other than the tone of her voice, I think Emily Bauer did a good job expressing intensity in those moments of the story that really called for it.
Overall, despite my criticisms, I really liked Enclave and would recommend others read it. I've read(or really listened to) a lot, A LOT, of other YA novels lately that I didn't really find all that impressive and worth reading, but I really enjoyed Enclave and thought it worth a review.
Awesome; Amazing!!! Just as good - No; Better than the first book!
If you haven't read Book 1 (Divergent) in a while, though, make sure you do a quick brush up on your characters. I stumbled in the beginning trying to remember who everyone was since the author immediately starts throwing names your way without a ton of background reminders.
Other than that, I LOVED the entire adventure!
I have to admit that Book 1 of this series was hard for me to get through. I wasn't stoked on the narrator, cause she made Kate sound old. I get that Kate is a tough woman, but I couldn't get past the age in her voice by the narrator. I think with the later books in the series, this improves, and her voice no longer seems so harsh.
Also, I think the author tries too hard to make Kate tough in Book 1, and it ends up making the character lack what is necessary for you to actually relate or like her. By the end of the book, I did start to warm up to Kate. But it really wasn't until Book 2 that I was a fan of Kate. Plus, I've read reviews where people think Kate's rude and sarcastic comments are hilarious. I found her immature and annoying in Book 1, but I think the author improved the "inside" jokes and sarcasm as the series progresses. By the end of Book 2 and definitely by Book 3, I was laughing outloud to myself at some of Kates thoughts and comments.
Book 1 also has weird time jumps, where the future is mentioned and then all of a sudden it's ocurring without a good transition. It was confusing at first, but this also improves as the series progresses.
Basically, what I'm trying to say is, I wasn't a huge fan of Book 1. But if you can make it through, the rest of the series is quite addicting. I love LOVE Curran, who is quite an intriguing character (but don't want to give away spoilers).
Oh, and romance and sexual tension is pretty much non-existent in Book 1. But the rest of the series is a nice progression of a developing relationship.
Book 3 and 4 are great!
Just jump in an stick to it!
I'm not completely finished with this book yet (just started Part IV), but I have some issues I feel the need to voice.
#1. When did Katsa and Po become Irish? I get that Xanthe Elbrick did not narrate Graceling, but she did narrate Fire. And I understand different narrators are not going to have the same exact accents or voices as prior narrators. However, I think it's a narrator's responsibility to try to be somewhat consistent with character voices, whether or not they did the original book's narration. I find it very distracting that Katsa suddenly sounds like a middle-aged Irish woman and Po suddenly sounds like a teenage Irish boy-man. Luckily, they aren't the main characters of this book, so I can block it out somewhat, but it's totally distracting. I do like her interpretation of Bitterblue, though.
#2. On the part of the author, I get that Bitterblue is the main character of this story, but she has so much of Katsa and Po in this story as supportive characters that you'd think she'd stay consistent with their personalities. It's been 9 years. If anything, Katsa and Po should have matured more. Instead, I feel like they've backpeddled and act more like children than the 18 year old Bitterblue. And when did they both become so whiney?
#3. I like Bitterblue's character, alot. She does take some stupid risks with her own safety, but I am enjoying following as she matures both emotionally and intellectually as a queen, not just a girl. She's not physically bad a** like Katsa or Fire (afterall, Bitterblue is merely human), but I respect her as a maturing woman much more.
#4. The story definitely drags on during Part III. I felt this way through a chunk of Fire as well. I hope Part IV really picks up alot. Not only in the action department, but also in the romance department.
#5. I don't feel the same for Bitterblue and her romantic interest as I did in Graceling for Katsa and Po, and in Fire for Fire and Brigan. In both of the prior books, I was rooting for the romance. In Bitterblue's case, I don't really feel the same development or yearning for Bitterblue and her love interest to be together. Actually, I'm rooting for Bitterblue to fall for someone else who isn't the obvious match.
#6. I do really like how the author is weaving the world of Graceling and the world of Fire into this third book. Bitterblue's world definitely is tying the two worlds of the prior books together. Like I said, I haven't finished this book yet, but I'm hoping for another installment where these two worlds collide head on.
While I liked the storyline of Delirium better than Pandemonium, I loved the timeshift perspective of Pandemonium soooo much better. I felt like I was watching a movie as I was listening to the narration. The flashbacks were perfectly placed and allowed a double-climax as the story progressed.
I feel like If I comment on what I actually would like to say, that I'll give an important spoiler away, so I'm going to keep this next part short. OMG, the ending is killing me!!!!!! Even though I knew in the back of my mind that it was coming, I was still completely shocked!!!!
Also, brace yourself for a lot of heartbreak in this sequel. It's quite an emotional rollercoaster. If you've listened to Delirium, you know exactly why Pandemonium is quite depressing.
Another issue is that I found this book quite predictable. The author tries to foreshadow what is going to happen, but it's not really subtle at all. Anyone with intelligence already knows what to conclude from the obvious hints the author drops.
Despite my dissapointment in the obvious direction of the story, I still think it was beautifully written and I still enjoyed listening as the story was unfolding.
I heard book 3 won't be out until Spring 2013. You WILL feel like a tortured soul if you finish this book and have to wait a year for the final installment.
This book is AMAZING!!!! It's constantly moving, so you never get bored.
Also, I'm a huge fan of this narrator for other books Tavia Gilbert has done (in fact, I found this book by looking for the narrator). Tavia Gilbert is probably the best narrator I've experienced so far. She doesn't read lines of a book, but sounds like she's reading a script or actually acting out the scenes herself. Her telling of the story is so natural.
The story is wonderful too! It's a great YA book and an interesting Dystopian.
I love the development of the relationships between Eve and Arden, as well as between Eve and Caleb. Neither seemed forced or sudden, but organic and natural instead.
I was definitely left heartbroken a couple of times in this book (don't want to give away spoilers). Tavia Gilbert's reading enhances that heartbreak with her abilities to really emphasize emotion in her voice. I wish the trilogy was completed (or at least book 2 was already out), because I really need resolution to my heartache.
I read this entire series back-to-back so I'm only going to comment on the first book's board.
I'm obsessed with this series. It's definitely addicting...but by the end of the last book I'm still hanging and holding out for some major relationship development of the heroine. The author basically teases you throughout the series. You keep feeling like "Okay, this book will be the one", but then I'm disappointed by the end and left hanging.
The first two books were my favorite, especially book 2. Book 1 was hard to get into at first, because the world and its many casts of people are very difficult to grasp at first. By book 2, the confusion subsides. But book 2 is definitely worth working through the complicated world development of book 1. Book 2 is AMAZING!
I'm in a love/hate relationship with this author. I love her world (Elantra) and I love the characters. I even love the struggles and challenges and the main story lines. There is so much adventure and mystery! On the other side, it's sooooooo wordy!!! You're in the middle of an intense action/climatic scene and I feel like the intensity and build up get overtaken by the wordiness. It's almost like the author starts out on the right path of being wordy to tease and build up your emotions, but then just keeps going and going until you're like, "enough already, just get on with it...I get that the 'word' is complicated" (you'll know what I refer to when you read it - - not a spoiler).
The narrator is great, though! I'm definitely a huge fan of Khristine Hvam! She does a great job with all the character voices, keeping them separate and recognizable without needing to tell us who's speaking. After soooo many books and a building mass of characters, I'm amazed she keeps pulling out new voices.
I'm a critical person, so don't let my negative comments fool you. I definitely loved this whole series and recommend it. Just brace yourself for difficulty establishing the world and its characters at first, and then dealing with climatic wordiness with each book. If you can get past those, you'll really enjoy the action and adventure. Here's hoping the next two books (I read on the author's blog that book 8 will now be split in two because she had too much to say) will focus more on the heroine's relationship/romantic development. It's about time!
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