This book was amazing! Williams took on (and conquered) the daunting task of putting a sympathetic face on the sometimes reprehensible (certainly in this book) practice of polygamy. And she does this in a YA novel, to boot. So, Kyra is born within a polygamous sect, but has dreams of the outside world thanks to the Mobile Library on Wheels that gives her a tenuous connection to another lifestyle.
When her dirty-old-man-uncle comes a-calling for her thirteen-year-old hand, she knows she needs to find a way out. This isn't Big Love we're talking about here people, or Sister Wives. This tale is more like a storyline you would see with the were-panthers of True Blood.
The Prophet (the group's leader) has slowly eroded away the colony's freedoms (like reading any book but the Bible) and has a standing, armed God Squad to keep people in line. Murder happens just often enough to keep everyone towing the line for God.
What I found immensely compelling about The Chosen One wasn't the big developments, but the small moments. I wanted Kyra to hightail it out of there ASAP, but I slowly understood why she kept choosing to stay despite everything. Her family (all three Mothers, multiple siblings and Dad) are there. They are a different family, but they are hers and they love each other deeply. Yes, her parents made horrible choices that subsequently led to her present circumstances, but they adore her, their family and their community.
Williams has created a beautiful tale that sheds light on the underground world of polygamous sects. Kyra is a strong, young heroine you want to hug, take in, root for and protect. She is simply amazing.
Clockwork Angel is the first book in Cassandra Clare's Mortal Instruments spinoff: The Infernal Devices series. Call it blasphemy, but (having read the current entirety of both series) I think The Infernal Devices is considerably better than its already awesome predecessor. Do not fret if you haven't read the Mortal Instruments series yet, Clockwork Angel is set a hundred years before the City of Bones and the series absolutely can stand on its own.
The characters are better developed and infinitely more clever and snarky (which I love). Where Jace came off a little pouty for my tastes (in City of Bones, etc.) somehow Will pulls the same sentiment off with less churlishness and more aplomb! Fans of the earlier series will be delighted to see some of their faves make cameos in this series (such as Magnus Bane!). As the Infernal Devices series progresses, it is interesting to see where plans are laid that impact the present Shadowhunter world and Easter Eggs abound for die hard fans of Clare's work.
So, the story goes, that our heroine, Tessa Gray, comes to London from America at her brother's request after the death of their guardian Aunt. Immediately upon arrival, however, Tessa is Shanghaied and introduced to the dark secrets of Downworld. She has powers of her own and is thrust into plots, plans and manipulations that she would have never suspected existed in her previous life.
Along the way, she meets the Shadowhunters at the London Institute and becomes a part of the family, fighting for good. No supernatural YA novel worth its salt would dare show its cover without including a love triangle, so naturally, we are treated to one in Clockwork Angel. While this device generally annoys me, in this instance (and in the subsequent novels) the triangle is natural, touching and (spoiler alert) eventually heartbreaking.
Jennifer Ehle has been one of my favorite actresses since her turn as Miss Elizabeth Bennett in the BBC version of Austen's Pride & Prejudice. As the sole narrator of the audio version of Clockwork Angel, Ehle puts her acting chops to work by playing all parts to great effect! Her wry sense of humor shines through while playing Will and she conveys a true sense of innocence and strength while portraying Tessa. I would highly recommend the audio version and it is one of my favorite audio adaptations of all time.
Clockwork Angel is a must-read novel that will pull you into the world of Downworlders and Shadowhunters, Angels and Demons, Tessa, James and Will and will keep you begging for more of this amazing series!
Rules of Civility is a series of beautifully written vignettes, each one a little love letter to New York City in the late 1930’s. The novel isn’t a series of short stories, technically, but it contains many small scenes that could function very on their own. The overall plot is just as captivating containing numerous twists and turns executed by well-developed characters.
The scene is NYC 1938. The depression is almost over, the War to End All Wars has yet to begin and in this pause between historic upheavals, our main characters find themselves thrown together. Eve and Katey are a couple of girls with plenty of smarts and moxie, but not so much dough. Tinker is clever and kind and introduces the girls to a life of privilege and glamour. The question (as and will be) is how much does the “good life” really cost a person?
Each character is beautifully developed (even the side characters) and I thoroughly enjoyed immersing myself in Katey's adventures.
So, Chloe can see dead people. This power of hers comes on pretty suddenly, thus earning her a one-way ticket to Lyle House and a quick diagnosis of schizophrenia. She meets several teens who seem fairly normal if maybe mentally troubled. But as you already know, dear reader, all is not as it seems at Lyle House and Chloe needs to get to the bottom of things pretty fast or else...
Ok, I have to keep remembering that Chloe is fourteen-going-on-fifteen so that I don't get frustrated with her poor decisions and inability to listen to reason or logic or her instincts. You guys know I'm a fan of a Kick-Ass Heroine and Chloe is not one of those, by far (but maybe soon...).
Overall, I do like her, however, she has a rabid love of movies (as do I, and I love the references). She's funny, fairly smart, concerned for others and an overall good-girl. The cast of characters surrounding her are intriguing. Tori is the token bad girl with secrets yet to be revealed. Simon is the token love interest who is smart, nice and funny. Liz is the sweet roommate who shows Chloe the ropes and would do anything for her. Rae is the street-smart wise-cracker and Derek (Simon's brother) is a grouchy, dark and brooding mystery.
A note on Derek: I know Simon is the evident love interest for Chloe, but I really hope Armstrong takes Chloe is an unexpected direction and hooks her up with Derek. (Although, sometimes, I don't think Chloe deserves him.) Derek is crazy-smart, super-tall and strong, harboring a dark secret and constantly bailing Chloe out of jams. On the downside, he has been hit with a "puberty smackdown" and has horrible acne and smells gross despite taking two showers a day. He has all of the makings of a hottie-in-training and I really hope he grows to be one.
As usual in YA the adults are peripheral characters (for now, I think) and simply represent mistrust, neglect, non-understanding or downright danger.
I feel like Armstrong does a pretty good job of not underestimating her target audience and while some mysteries have obvious answers, many were well-concealed. Overall, a great start to what I am sure is going to be an excellent series.
I couldn't wait to get my hands on this book and I wasn't disappointed! The early hype was completely on target and well deserved. I love my dystopian novels, but was suffering a little hangover from over-doing it this year. With that frame of mind, I had a couple of reservations going in which were immediately squashed after the first few pages.
Ahhh...June and Day. You guys are great! So, here's the scoop: June is a prodigy on the fast track to become a leader of the Republic. She is the newest inductee to my KAH (Kick Ass Heroines) club. (Minimal angst and whining, maximum butt kicking and smarts.) In university, she's a little Doogie Howser, who's too young and too smart to really make any friends. Her only buddy is her brother, Metias, and since they are orphans, he is a parental figure to her as well.
Day is a boy from the wrong side of the tracks who has been on the run from the Republic for years and is their Enemy Number One (you see where this is headed, right?) Day is resourceful, smart and funny. He tries to take care of his family from afar without being detected, while simultaneously undermining the Republic.
Then, (no spoilers here, you know you read it in the blurb....) Metias is killed. (Although I secretly wanted this to be a lie throughout the whole story - maybe some Republic fakery - and hoped he would pop up in the end, "Tada! Just kidding, June!") Allegedly, Day is the perpetrator of this heinous crime, thus pitting June and Day against each other Romeo and Juliet style.
The heat is on as June is tapped to bring Day to justice and hi-jinks ensue. June and Day's relationship (you knew there would be one, right?) develops slowly and naturally out of mutual understanding, not some mystic lightening bolt of destiny, much to my delight. (You know I hate the Mystic Lightening Bolt of Destiny..)
I loved Lu's fast-paced writing style. The book is written from both main characters' POV and although this is sometimes irksome in other novels, I appreciated seeing the other side of the coin and I think it worked well here. I've read some criticism regarding stylistic similarities between the two POV's, but since I listened to Legend on Audible, no problems for me since two different voice actors were featured and they were great.
As I said earlier, I was worried that I was a little dystopian-ed out, but Legend brought it all back to life for me. Lu has written a well-tailored novel about worlds and people I genuinely care about (you should have seen me listening in the car and yelling at my radio like a crazy person when Day or June was in trouble!) Sign me up for the sequel, stat!
I'm actually a bit of a history buff. I wasn't always this way. In high school, history meant a lot of memorizing: dates, names, places, etc. BORING! But I discovered in college (with the help of a great professor) that history can be interesting. Really. History is really just old gossip. The more things change, the more they stay the same and I find it very interesting to imagine myself living in a time such as Henry VIII's England, Cleopatra's Egypt, World War II Era U.S. or...living through the Zombie War.
One of my favorite ways to learn about to good ol' days is through the genre of oral histories. Basically, oral histories are a collection of people's stories as told by them. The cool thing for me is that this device helps me feel more immersed in the time period. Regular people seem to talk about little details and feelings that your typical history book won't touch (they're too worried about dates, names, places, you know...the boring stuff.)
Anywhoo...back to the review at hand. Max Brooks has subtitled World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War. The book is put together as an organized collection of various survivors' recollections of the Zombie War. About two stories in, I found myself engrossed and actually believing we did survive a near-apocalypse. The entire tone of the book is so detailed and realistic that I no longer felt that I was reading (listening) to a fictional tale, but rather reliving a real-life event. Quite a feat for a novel about zombies.
I actually listened to World War Z as an audio book on Audible and really, I'm not sure I would have it any other way. The tale is narrated by multiple actors including: Mark Hamill (yes, Luke Skywalker) , Rob Reiner, Alan Alda and Carl Reiner. The cast is amazing and the audio version has been nominated and won several awards. Mark Hamill's portrayal of seasoned soldier, Todd Wainio, was particularly impressive.
This is the first novel is several months that I want to re-read already (think I'm going to buy the hardcover for that) because I enjoyed it that much.
Max Brooks is also the author of The Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection From the Living Dead and given my love of zombies and my love for World War Z, I'm pretty sure I want Mr. Brooks to be my new BFF.
In my review of Matched, I was anxiously anticipating this sequel and was hoping to learn more about The Society, The Rising and Xander in particular (a promising character that I felt was underserved in Matched). Well, I did learn more about some of those things...
I liked Crossed, but it also frustrated me as well. When we last saw our protagonists, Ky was being hauled off to the Outer Provinces by The Society and to certain, eventual death. Cassia decides to somehow follow him no matter what the cost. Xander sadly watches the entire scene unfold, still harboring his love for Cassia despite her inherent idiocy, sorry, I mean tenacity...and Cassia's family is shipped off to do some farming for awhile and learn the errors of their rebellious ways.
So...that brings us to Crossed. Here's what I liked:
I liked (and disliked, see below) that Crossed was told from the perspectives of both Cassia and KY. This technique helped me to like and understand Ky more. (Full disclosure: I'm a budding Xander fan.) They are both in the Outer Provinces and then ultimately on the run, but for a great deal of the book they are apart, searching for each other.
Along the way they pick up some friends and I liked these characters. They are a great addition to the series, especially Indie (you know I like strong female characters who don't put up with BS) and I know we will see more of them in the sequel.
Condie's descriptions are beautiful and you can visualize easily the surroundings of The Carving and The Outer Provinces.
Now here's what I had a problem with:
1. Where the heck's Xander?
He shows up for like a minute, is mysterious and then leaves. I really feel like his character has potential and possibly more depth than Ky given all of theses "secrets" and "mysteries" surrounding him. I again am hoping we see more of him in the third book, how about the next book is from his perspective? That I would be interested to read: "Cassie's breaking my heart, so I gave her a big packet of blue pills. Hope they work..."
2. Speaking of perspectives...
While I liked the idea of both POV's, after a while they both started sounding the same. The only thing that helped me in this regard was that I actually listened to Crossed as an unabridged audio book on Audible and they had a guy and a girl reading each chapter. However, in tone and sappiness, they both sounded alike to me.
3. Enough with the poetry already.
I get how integral these poems are to the story, just not sure if I need to read them again every other chapter until I have them memorized too. Sidenote: I was reading another book last night where a character died and they were looking for the perfect poem for his memorial. Immediately I started reciting Tennyson's "Crossing the Bar" (brainwashed much?) and guess what? That's the exact one they used...
4. The Society sucks at catching people. Or do they?...
I can't decide if Cassia and Ky are still part of some big Society experiment or if The Society is in a recession and they just don't have the manpower and resources to find our motley crew. Cassia and Ky both spend a great deal of time piddling around and very little (or absolutely zero) time actually in danger of being caught. This decreased the suspense and thus my enjoyment of Crossed.
Well...after that diatribe, I guess it looks like I didn't really like Crossed at all, but I did. I think the series overall has promise and Crossed was just a slow Act II. I love Condie's writing style in general and it is a testament to Matched that I even am riled up enough to be a little disappointed in the sequel. I promise, I will be first in line for the third book and there better be more Xander, dang it!
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