Tag Archives: YA

Review: Angelfall

angelfall

Author: Susan Ee | Pages: 283 | Series: Penryn & the End of Days, #1 | Rating: 4.5 stars

“Sometimes, as we’re stumbling along in the dark, we hit something good.”

Synopsis:

It’s been six weeks since angels of the apocalypse descended to demolish the modern world. Street gangs rule the day while fear and superstition rule the night. When warrior angels fly away with a helpless little girl, her seventeen-year-old sister, Penryn, will do anything to get her back.

Anything, including making a deal with an enemy angel.

Raffe is a warrior who lies broken and wingless on the street. After eons of fighting his own battles, he finds himself being rescued from a desperate situation by a half-starved teenage girl.

Traveling through a dark and twisted Northern California, they have only each other to rely on for survival. Together, they journey toward the angels’ stronghold in San Francisco where Penryn will risk everything to rescue her sister, and Raffe will put himself at the mercy of his greatest enemies for the chance to be made whole again.

Review:

I went into this book simultaneously excited and cautious. Countless people have urged me to start this series, and practically everyone I know who has read this book has raved about it. To make the daunting pressure even higher, I rarely like YA angel books. It isn’t for lack of interest – I love the concept, I just find that the majority of them are… lacking.

But this post isn’t about them; it’s about Angelfall. And I adored it.

There were so many things about this book that I loved. First of all, the characters. Not only is there a small collection of mental and physical challenges that I rarely find in YA (Penryn’s sister is in a wheelchair and her mother is a paranoid schizophrenic), they all felt real. It takes a special author to make their characters all feel as if they have a life, motivations, likes, and dislikes outside of the main story and/or conflict, but Ms. Ee pulls it off. And I really appreciated Penryn as a protagonist: she was kickass, yes, and more than capable of defending herself, but in the end she was still a seventeen-year-old girl, moreover one whose world had recently come crashing down around her, and who was just trying to keep it together for her family. I appreciated that.

Another thing I liked was the fact that the romance, while it existed, wasn’t insta-lovey and wasn’t the main focus for either Raffe or Penryn. They barely tolerated each other at first, but came together through shared experiences. Both of them had their own motivations, their own goals, and weren’t about to let the other distract them from that.

One thing I was also pleasantly surprised by was the atmosphere in Angelfall: It was dark and creepy and fast-paced and captivating. I liked the return to the more biblical angelic figures, the “harbingers of doom”, but some with very human desires and motivations, making for a somewhat chilling combination.

All in all, I really enjoyed this book and will be picking up the sequel, World After. I did dock a half star because there were a few little things here and there that bothered me a bit, but for the most part I’m hoping they’ll get explained in future books, so it’s nothing major. I would still highly recommend them, and I suppose I’m now in with the ravers.

Four_and_half

What about you? Have you read Angelfall and if you have, what were your thoughts? Let me know in the comments below!

Advertisements

Initial Thoughts: In the Afterlight

intheafterlight

Author: Alexandra Bracken | Pages: 535 | Series: Darkest Minds Trilogy, #3 | Rating: 5 stars

So with this being the last book in a series I don’t want to give a synopsis around this little bit here to risk spoiling anyone who hasn’t read the rest of the series yet, so I decided to try something different this time and just give you my notes I wrote when I finished In the Afterlight,rather than give a full review. I tend to type up or write a little after I’m finished with each book in order to give me something to look back on when I write up the review, so I thought I’d let you take a look at one just to give you an idea of how my mind works when I’m haven’t had time to compile my thoughts. Or compose them, even. Everything below the cut is literally copy-and-pasted from my notes. I figure this could be fun, or it could be a complete disaster. We’ll see!

Oh, and if you couldn’t already tell, there will be A LOT OF SPOILERS UNDER THE CUT. Please don’t read any further if you haven’t read the last book and/or don’t want to be spoiled on some of the events in the Darkest Minds series. Also, there will be a small bit of language so if you don’t like cursing, you might also not want to read it.

Okay, moving on!

EDIT: THIS IS THE CUT, BECAUSE THE READ-MORE TAG ISN’T WORKING RIGHT NOW, at least not on my screen. So, if you don’t want spoilers, please don’t read past here.

Continue reading Initial Thoughts: In the Afterlight

Review: Dorothy Must Die

dorothymustdie

Author: Danielle Paige | Pages: 452 | Series: Dorothy Must Die, #1 | Rating: 3.5 stars

I didn’t ask for any of this. I didn’t ask to be some kind of hero.

But when your whole life gets swept up by a tornado – taking you with it – you have no choice but to go along, you know?

Sure, I’ve read the books. I’ve seen the movies. I know the song about the rainbow and the happy little bluebirds. But I never expected Oz to look like this. To be a place where Good Witches can’t be trusted, Wicked Witches may just be the good guys, and winged monkeys can be executed for acts of rebellion. There’s still a yellow brick road – but even that’s crumbling.

What happened? Dorothy.

They say she found a way to come back to Oz. They say she seized power and the power went to her head. And now no one is safe.

My name is Amy Gumm – and I’m the other girl from Kansas.

I’ve been recruited by the Revolutionary Order of the Wicked.

I’ve been trained to fight.

And I have a mission.

I actually thought this book started off really nicely. It had an almost contemporary feel to the first couple of chapters, and I must say, if Danielle Paige ever decides to write a contemporary, I want to read it.

And, for the most part, I still enjoyed the rest of the book. The plot moved along nicely, the story kept me engaged, and I liked the characters okay. For a little bit I thought she might try to throw in an unnecessary love triangle and while that isn’t technically out of the question, it was made less likely by one of the reveals at the end of the book (but oh, would I have fun if Amy did choose the gardener at the end of the series… :))

Still, it felt like something was missing I guess. More than once I wondered why exactly Danielle Paige was introducing us to a character, because within a couple of pages or a couple of chapters, they’d disappear. Occasionally it felt as if she’d kill off characters just to say she had. And although I liked most of the characters, I didn’t really connect to or love any of them.

But overall it was an entertaining read, and a fun time.

Three_and_half

Review: The Eternal Ones

teo

Author: Kirsten Miller | Pages: 411 | Series: Eternal Ones Duology, #1 | Rating: 2 stars

Haven Moore can’t control her visions of a past with a boy called Ethan, and a life in New York that ended in fiery tragedy. In our present, she designs beautiful dresses for her classmates with her best friend Beau. Dressmaking keeps her sane, since she lives with her widowed and heartbroken mother in her tyrannical grandmother’s house in Snope City, a tiny town in Tennessee. Then, an impossible group of coincidences conspire to force her to flee to New York, to discover who she is and who she was. In New York, Haven meets Iain Morrow and is swept into an epic love affair that feels both deeply fated and terribly dangerous. Iain is suspected of murdering a rock star and Haven wonders, could he have murdered her in a past life? She visits the Ouroboros Society and discovers a murky world of reincarnation that stretches across millennia. Haven must discover the secrets hidden in her past lives, and loves¸ before all is lost and the cycle begins again.

I really, really wanted to like this book. The idea of reincarnation is one that intrigues me, and despite the mixed reviews it’s gotten I decided to give it a try. Form my own opinions.

I would like to take this time to state that I do believe this is a book that certain people might enjoy, depending on their tastes. Unfortunately, there were just too many things that bothered me personally to make it a book for me.

Mild spoilers ahead, but nothing that will give away anything important.

The Romance: I’m pretty sure that Miller wrote this under the impression that Iain Morrow was some spectacularly romantic love interest, but the romance fell very flat for me. Despite the fact that the reincarnation factor meant that it wasn’t technically insta-love, it felt very much like it. These two had supposedly been finding each other over and over again in different lifetimes, but we never got any indication of why they kept falling in love. We really didn’t get to know Iain at all.

The Characters: This is where I really had the most of my issues with this book. I found it incredibly hard to connect to either of the main characters, and the majority of the book I either wanted to strangle them or punch them in the face. Haven I found to be a weak-willed heroine who changed her mind every time she spoke to someone else, and never really seemed to form any opinions of her own. One minute she was convinced Iain was a horrible murderer, and the next she was all apologetic and believed he truly loved her and was innocent. Make up your mind, girl!

And then there was Iain himself. He was the very stereotypical tall, dark, and handsome boy who was super rich and had secrets the heroine couldn’t know about in order to protect her. I really just wanted to punch him in the face for most of the book. What I believe the reader was supposed to find romantic, I found controlling. And despite the fact that Haven would occasionally pretend like she wasn’t going to put up with it, she always went along with him in the end.

Another thing that really bothered me is that it felt as if the author believed that the girl should give in to sex because the boy can’t wait. While Iain technically stopped when asked, it still felt like there was some pressure there. Haven actually mentioned once that “She could tell from the way Iain stared at her that he wasn’t going to wait much longer.” Excuse me? What exactly is he going to do about it? If he forces you into it, it’s rape, and you send his ass to jail. If he leaves and or pouts about it, he’s not worth sticking with in the first place. If he is not saying no, he doesn’t get a say in when it happens. The boy is not going to die if he doesn’t get sex, no matter what he says. It’s not your responsibility to have sex if you’re not comfortable with it just to satisfy him.

The Plot: The plot I found to be the book’s strongest point. While there were still a number of plot points that I guessed chapters before the characters, there was enough mystery and intrigue to keep me reading, mostly interested, and wondering what would happen next. As I mentioned before, the idea of reincarnation is one that I find interesting and for the most part I enjoyed the roles it played in the story.

Overall Impression: I found this book interesting enough for the plot and a few other minor elements, but as I am very much a character-driven reader the story itself just didn’t really come together for me.

Two

Review: This Is What Happy Looks Like

tiwhll

Author: Jennifer E. Smith | Pages: 404 | Series: Standalone/NA | Rating: 3.5 stars

I have an interesting relationship with contemporary books – I usually enjoy them, but rarely love In other words, I like to read contemporary but don’t read a lot of them, and there aren’t many of them on my favorite’s shelf.

This is another one of those books. And while it won’t ever sit on my favorite’s list, it was still worth the read.

This Is What Happy Looks Like follows Graham and Ellie, who meet online when Graham accidentally sends Ellie an email about Wilbur (who is his terrific, radiant, humble pet pig). Despite not knowing the other’s name and living on opposite sides of the country, they begin to keep in touch through a series of emails.

But both of them have secrets: Ellie’s father is unexpectedly important, and Graham lives a life in the spotlight.

Eventually Graham’s job lands him in Ellie’s small hometown of Henley, Maine and naturally, complicated things ensue.

This is my first Jennifer E. Smith book, so when I went into the story, it was without any previous expectations beyond the fact that I know a lot of people have really enjoyed both This Is What Happy Looks Like and The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight. Overall, I can’t say I was disappointed. I enjoyed Smith’s writing style, and felt it fit this sort of story well. Graham and Ellie were both cute, enjoyable characters.

There were two main things that bothered me about this book: the romance and the ending.

The Romance: Even though it wasn’t technically insta-love (the two had been keeping in touch via email for a few months before they met), it still felt like it. Considering they didn’t talk for roughly three weeks of the four that Graham was in Henley, I guess I just didn’t understand how they felt it was that strong of a relationship.

The Ending: Big potential plot point, implied throughout the entire book to be a huge, life-ruining deal… brushed away by “oh, they don’t actually care about your father, just that you’re Graham’s girlfriend.” Wait, what? We never did actually get to meet Wilbur, either, which was strangely disappointing.

Other than that, it was an enjoyable enough read, but forgettable overall.

Series Review: Across The Universe

Author: Beth Revis | Overall Rating: 4 stars

AcrossTheUniverse-newcovers

Plot synopsis of first book:

Amy is a cryogenically frozen passenger aboard the spaceship Godspeed. She has left her boyfriend, friends – and planet – behind to join her parents as a member of Project Ark Ship. Amy and her parents believe they will wake on a new planet, Centauri-Earth, three hundred years in the future. But fifty years before Godspeed’s scheduled landing, cryo chamber 42 is mysteriously unplugged, and Amy is violently woken from her frozen slumber.

Someone tried to murder her.

Now, Amy is caught inside a tiny world where nothing makes sense. Godspeed’s 2,312 passengers have forfeited all control to Eldest, a tyrannical and frightening leader. And Elder, Eldest’s rebellious teenage heir, is both fascinated with Amy and eager to discover whether he has what it takes to lead.

Amy desperately wants to trust Elder. But should she put her faith in a boy who has never seen life outside the ship’s cold metal walls? All Amy knows is that she and Elder must race to unlock Godspeed’s hidden secrets before whoever woke her tries to kill again.

~*~

The first thing to be said about this series is that it was a journey from start to finish, in both good ways and not-so-great. Overall, I enjoyed this series a lot, but there were a number of things that kept it from being a 5 star read for me.

Warning: As I am reviewing the entire series, there will be some spoilers. I’ll try to keep them as mild as possible, but there will be some bigger ones in there, too. Be warned.

I suppose the first place to start is at the beginning. Across the Universe started out a little slowly, but as it was the first book in a trilogy I was willing to overlook it without deducting any rating points. It gave us information about the ship and its inhabitants, which is important and it’s always nice to have a general background about before delving into the story. Fine. That was to be expected. But then we met Amy.

Amy was one of the most frustrating things about the first two books. Her character annoyed me to no end. At first, I wanted to like her. At first, I was willing to overlook her “boo me, I miss Earth” moments. She had just woken up – and nearly drowned – on a spaceship surrounded by strange people and informed that it was still fifty years until they arrived at their destination and her parents could be unfrozen, too. I was willing to accept a little self-pity. But it never stopped. Yes, she’s going through difficult times, but that doesn’t mean I want to read about it every other chapter. Thankfully, this seemed to ease up a lot in the third book, when she was finally on a planet and with her parents again. And, thankfully, so did her attitude of “I lived on a planet, and you haven’t, so if you want something different than I think you should, it’s just because you don’t know any better.”

Beyond that, the only thing that I could really say bothered me were parts of the plot – at times it felt like Revis just kept forcing new things in there in order to keep things going.

Overall, though, I did really enjoy the trilogy. It was mostly a fun, fast-paced story, with a lot of good character development. As much as Amy annoyed me, she did feel like a realistic teenager, and I liked Elder, Harley, Kit, and the others, too. I enjoyed all of the scientific and technological advancements, which were all well done. Throughout the three books we got a chance to experience sci-fi both on the spaceship and planetary level, which was nice, as I feel like most sci-fi novels tend to lean one way or the other. Revis had a lot of interesting ideas, and I felt that she implemented most of them really well.

With all three books being considered, this series earns a solid four stars from me.

As an aside to anyone who’s read the final book: did anyone else picture the ptero’s as similar the ikran/banshee’s from Avatar, just with feet?

ikran

Review: Fangirl

FANGIRL_CoverDec2012

Author: Rainbow Rowell | Pages: 438 | Series: Standalone/NA | Rating: 4.5-5/5 stars

What to say about this book? I went into Fangirl with the understanding that almost everyone I know who’s read it has loved it. That alone made me put off reading this book numerous times. Why? I find that usually, if I read a hugely hyped book, I come out disappointed. Occasionally this is because I didn’t like the book, but more often than not, I just go into it expecting too much. There have been a lot of incredibly popular books that I’ve read and greatly enjoyed – but just didn’t live up to my similarly hyped expectations.

In the case of Fangirl, I needn’t have worried.

The story follows Cath, a college freshman whose first love is writing – especially Simon Snow fanfiction. She and her twin sister, Wren, have been inseparable since birth, but when Wren decides that she doesn’t want to be roommates with Cath in college, things are forced to change.

Honestly, I really loved Cath. For someone who’s quieter, introverted, better with people over the computer than in real life, and who struggles with a lot of social anxiety… I could relate to her almost scarily well. I found myself thinking numerous times how familiar her feelings and the situations she found herself in were. From not wanting to ask for directions to the dining hall for fear of sounding stupid, to immersing herself in fictional worlds to escape, to hiding out in a bathroom stall rather than sit by herself in the dining hall… I could relate to it all.

As for the other characters… I liked the diversity. They all had their own quirks and their own lives, their own faults. In some books the characters can feel temporary, that they only exist when the story is focusing on them or when the main character is around. I never felt that way with any of Fangirl’s characters. They all felt like they had somewhere to be, something they were doing whenever they weren’t around, and I liked that. Each of them felt like they had their own little story to tell.

One of the things a number of people complain about, if they complain at all, is the plot. I’ll admit – the plot kind of meanders. There aren’t any huge plot twists. Nothing huge happens. But strangely (this would bother me in a lot of books), this doesn’t bother me here. Perhaps it’s because I do relate to Cath so much, I don’t know. I do know that sometimes, reading contemporaries, I’m struck by how for each of these main characters, there is that one defining, life-changing moment. But usually, life isn’t like that. Yes, people are thrown curve-balls occasionally. Most of the time, though, life isn’t one big moment – it’s a bunch of little moments that all add up. Not everybody lives exciting, party-filled lives. It was a coming-of-age story, one of self-discovery, and so for Cath, I felt like the story fit nicely. It was her story, not Wren’s. Plenty happened, there just wasn’t that big bang that a lot of people look for.

The one thing I would ask for in terms of the story itself… I did like the way it ended, but I also kind of wished there had been more of an epilogue. It might have been nice to meet Levi’s family, or find out how they handled the summer across the state from each other. But all in all, I felt it ended nicely.

As for the Simon Snow side story… I was actually kind of wishing the books were real by the time the book was over. And the whole Simon/Baz thing? Rowell could at least type up some of that fanfiction for us in full, right? Is it actually possible to ship fictionally fictional characters?