Sunday, 22 February 2015

The Darkest Minds review

The Darkest Minds
Dais Daily

I’ve been waiting for the right time to read The Darkest Minds for a very long time. I’ve never heard or read a bad word spoken about it. This obviously makes me nervous. What if I was going to be in the small percentage that didn’t enjoy the book? I started to hype the book up so much that the thought of actually starting it was somewhat terrifying.
I knew that I had to be in the right frame of mind to start this series. I wanted to make sure that I could give my absolute full attention to the start of this beloved series.

I can honestly say that I devoured this book. I was eagerly consuming every word.
The plot from the very beginning was intriguing and had a darker vibe then I was expecting, which I loved.
The whole setting at camp is unsettling, but I really was transfixed but all of those scenes.
I was so enamoured with the idea of these kids having to be colour coded based on the abilities. It’s such an original and well executed idea.

From start to finish this book stayed thrilling and complex. The action was well paced and written in a way that I couldn’t look away for even a second. Every moment lead beautifully into the next. I wasn’t even aware of how much time was passing as I read. My emotions were being thrown around like a ragged doll, and it was brilliant.
Bracken makes it so that every scenario feels completely plausible and has you questioning if something like this really could happen. There is such a sense of realism through the whole of the book.

Ruby goes through some of the best character growth that I’ve read in a while.
In the very beginning she goes out of her way to make sure she blends into the background, but as the story progresses she learns to look for those she cares about and fights admirably to keep them from harm.
I was so fascinated with Ruby’s abilities from the get go. I was so curious to see the extent of her capabilities and was so proud whenever she accomplished some small task.

From the very beginning, I was suspicious of Clancy, and always thought he would be some sort of double agent in some way. Though I certainly hadn’t expected it to go quite the way it did. Alexandra Bracken has a brilliant way of completely blind-siding you with events.

I couldn’t find a single fault with any of the characters. They were all written perfectly and made believable by their very real faults. Liam’s unwavering need to protect, Chubs’ brutal honesty. And then Zu’s muteness. They made up a complex trio that I fell in love with.
Chubs was incredible and definitely pushed my opinion of the writing even higher. I loved how his and Ruby’s relationship change and grow throughout the story.
His slam down with Clancy was awesome.
I know that we haven’t seen the last of Clancy, and I hope that the next time that him and Ruby meet, they can be on a little more equal footing, in terms of powers.
I also really hope that we find Suzume again in Never Fade.

For once I really liked the idea that our main character didn’t have much of an idea of their actual plan. There was ever a specific endgame goal and I preferred in that way. It let the story breath and things could play out just as they needed to.

With the end, I find myself really excited at the thought of having a hardened and colder version of Ruby, and honestly, if that is the way that Bracken goes in Never Fade, I have no doubt it will become one of my favourite books.
I’m so excited to continue this series.
The Darkest Minds is a perfect example of how to start a series and leave all of its readers waiting in desperate anticipation for the next one.

Thursday, 19 February 2015

Prodigy review

Prodigy Review

If you’ve read my previous review on Legend by Marie Lu, the first book in the Legend series, you’ll most likely already know that I wasn’t quite sure if I liked the book or not. And unfortunately, the same problems again apply to this book that I found with the first one.

I didn’t find the plot that engaging as I had done with the first book. Though I do admit I quite liked the bigger scale of the book, and how we finally got to know a little more about how The Republic came into existence and its place in the rest of the world.

Again, my biggest problems with these books so far are the main characters young ages. I find it completely illogical that two fifteen year olds would how so much sway over this government, and are that much of a threat.

I also feel a little confused by the ending of this book. I know there is a third book, Champion, and yet, it seems things could have very easily tied themselves up and the series could have finished there, if not for the unresolved issue of Day’s health.
I was also wondering why Day has never told a single person about being experimented on after ‘failing’ his trials. This, we know, didn’t actually happen. June finding out Day’s actual test scores plays a big role in swaying June that she is on the wrong side, and yet, this fact is never actually mentioned to any sort of official or the public. I guess it all comes into play in the third book, but I just found it a little odd. Every the doctor at the end was aware of Day’s, and thousands of others being experimented on, and yet, still nothing comes of it.

In addition, I’m just going to touch on this sore spot lightly, but what on earth was all the shit about June being ill?
Why does it come on so quickly, like literally, within a few hours she can barely stand and passes out a bunch of times? And yet, there is no actual name for this mysterious illness, we are never told what made June ill, and if will now cause later problems or if it was serious. And, by the end of the novel she is fit and healthy. What kind of illness comes on that strong that it renders the person useless, and is then done away with. It rather irked me, and just made me resent June slightly. Which I didn’t like because I had grown to really like June’s character.

I much prefer June to Day, though I still find that the book benefits from the duo point of views. I enjoyed June’s colder and more methodical approach to things.

I quite liked the story line of June going undercover in her previous Republic alliances, while she helped put in place the pieces of the Elector’s assassination. That was all quite thrilling, and I was starting to like the young Elector himself.

I don’t have any issues with the writing in itself, but I didn’t connect as much to the characters as I had in the last one.

Will I be reading the final instalment, yes; but at this point, I think it’s based solely on my curiousness on how the series will end. I’m not particularly attached to these characters and their lives. I would just rather finish the series that leave it sitting on my shelves.

I’m choosing to look past the negatives that I’ve found and hope to have the third book satisfy me and if it surprises me, than I would be happier to remember the series on a more positive note. 

Thursday, 12 February 2015

Legend review

The Legend series seems to be quite a beloved series to many, and I was eagerly awaiting reading it for myself.
Legend has an interesting premise. Two kids from different sides of the track. Day and June are both fifteen. Day is a criminal, and June is the only person to score 1500 on her Trials.
Day is a Robin Hood kind of character. Stealing from the Republic and giving some relief to the poor in his sector, Whereas as June, is tipped for big things in the military, youngest at her university and avid follower of all rules. Their world collide when Day is accused of killing June's brother, Metias. And so June is set a mission to find the elusive Day.

I've seen on Goodreads that opinions are quite varied which surprised me, because most people I had actually spoken to about this book had nothing but high praise for it.
The idea of the Republic and Colonies warring was quite refreshing and I wish that side of things were expanded upon, we are only given the briefest glimpse and for me, it wasn't enough. I wanted to know how things had gotten to the point they had, how their systems and governments had come into being.

My biggest problem with this book was the main characters themselves. Each are only 15 years old and yet they are capable of doing things like scaling buildings in seconds. Day breaks into banks with trained military guards. Manages to overwhelm his guards and almost escapes his cell. And June, well she practically leads her own platoon/unit. She ranks higher than some people double her age, and I find it all very had to believe.
Perhaps if they were both seventeen, maybe even sixteen would have been better. But I can't help thinking of them as just children. And so it makes the whole thing seem rather unbelievable for me.

I will say that the story did keep me entertained and was certainly engaging. I was very curious to how things were going to plan out. Especially when June discovers she isn't the only one with a perfect 1500 score. Though the whole, 'government is actually evil, so we both most miraculously escape' thing is getting terribly boring. I'm hoping the next instalments offer something a little more complex.
Legend is quite a short read, and I think Marie Lu has done well to fit all she has into the book. But I feel like the book should have been about a hundred pages longer so that she could have fleshed out characters better, or giving us better insights to governments and world building.

The writing is quite solid and nothing that I could particularly find fault with. Although sometimes Day and June did feel like almost the same character. They have a lot of the same skills and so it wasn't completely as diverse as I would have liked it to be. Like I said, it could have been longer to try avoid the two characters coming off seemingly the same.

I wasn't blown away by Legend, and neither was I totally bored by it. I know a lot of people keep the series in high regard, and I'm definitely willing to hold off writing the series off until I've finished the other two books. Even if I end up not liking the seconds book Prodigy, I'll still most likely finish it's third book Champion, as I don't like leaving series uncompleted.
So sadly, Legend only gets 3 stars from me.

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Ruin and Rising review

I can't believe I left it so long to read this series! Shadow and Bone had been on my reading radar for almost two years before I finally opted to go for it.
And honestly, I was so annoyed at myself for waiting. This series is phenomenal!

Ruin and Rising is the final installment to the Grisha Trilogy, and Leigh Bardugo certainly doesn't disappoint.
Throughout each book the writing has grown stronger and stronger. Something I value in a series. Descriptions, characterization, and character arcs all became stronger the longer I read.

The Grisha series has easily cemented itself as one of my favourite series.
The Russian influences were amazing and something that I really enjoyed and thought made the series prosper that little bit more.
And yet, I felt there was something missing from the final book.
I wanted something huge, something epic for ending the series on. And I guess some people could say that it did happen that way. I don't quite feel the same way.

Alina Starkov goes through a tremendous amount through the whole of the series, and we see her progression written so beautifully.
The only downfall I had with Aline herself was that I wanted her to want more.
I understand she had conflicting emotions about her lust for power and in the end I wanted her to get the powers and have the destiny she deserved as the Sun Summoner, even if it wasn't anything she had every planned for herself.
I actually kind of wanted her to struggle more with that lust. I wanted her to feel just a small semblance of what The Darkling must have felt. So that there connection could have grown. I wanted them to see that they were more alike, that they truly were the only ones who understood.

Onto every bodies favourite villain, The Darkling. After falling for the Darkling pretty hard in, Shadow and Bone, the first in the series. I was torn from then on. I loved to hate him. He was a perfect antagonist.
The further on we read, the more I felt he was beyond redemption. And yet, I wanted him and Alina together. There were bouts when he was just a lonely boy and I truly felt for him. And I love a book that can make you question yourself, because at the end of it all. All the Darkling was truly trying to do was save Ravka. And his ruthlessness and cruelty was a means that justified that end to him.
I truly believe that the years and his humanity had faded, but that he could have been brought back from that brink.
We see the boy behind the Darkling facade, and I loved the scene when he asks Alina to say his name.

And I'm going to say it.
The Darkling was in no way near enough in this book. Though the whole plot revolves around Alina defeating him, he is hardly ever present.
To think that readers would have been satisfied with only 'visions' of the Darkling is a huge mistake on Bardugo's part.

The secondary characters deserve as much praise, maybe even more. They were perfect. They had flaws, witty dialogue, a diversity that made them all a pleasure to read.
Nikolia was a particular favourite of mine. I've been honest in my disliking of Mal from the beginning, and because I know Bardugo would never let Alina be with the Darkling I had hoped that the two of them would wind up together.
He was fast talking, witty, and had a way that made me squeal in excitement every single time he was in a scene.
Nikolia goes through the ringer quite a bit in this novel and comes out a little battered, I wanted the best for him and I was pleased he was able to take the throne of Ravka.
Genya, Tamar and Tolyer, and even Zoya had me smiling. The whole group dynamic was balanced and written impeccably. Even Baghra, whose story had never truly been revealed until now.
Mal, in all honesty, I wanted dead. Not because I didn't like him as a character, but because I felt it needed to happen, for the sake of the story.
And for the record, what was that bullshit about him coming back to life because the magical ancestry part of him died, not actually Mal himself.

I wanted the series to end one of three ways.
Scenario 1: Alina comes into her power, ultimately killing Mal, and fights the Darkling in an explosive, epic, and harrowing match of light and dark. Where she ultimately wins and she and Nikolia rule over Ravka, though there is nothing romantic between them for many years while she mourns the lose of Mal. Then they fall in love gradually and live happily ever after in all her Sun Summoner glory.

Scenario 2:
Alina regrettably kills Mal. Alina fights the Darkling, again in an epic fight, where she can summon her own army of light. And reduces him to nothing, but because they are so alike and are connected so tightly, refuses to kill him. Because of her mercy, the Darkling sees he is unfit to rule Ravka.
Nikolia becomes an awesome king.
Eventually the two reconcile, though never romantically as they help the other to keep balanced. Alina can help rule Ravka or not. The Darkling didn't 'win' and yet he gets to see Ravka thrive and prosper, just as he had always hoped for. The two live long lives in which they protect Ravka.

Scenario 3:
Nikolia is killed. Alina kills Mal. The Darkling is defeated and then publicly executed, and the Sun Summoner rules Ravka with a broken soul. Mourning the men that she each shared unique and strange connections with.

To be honest, I wanted a brutal ending. I wanted something that would stick with me. Something as memorable as the Divergent trilogy ending.
Through the whole of the book we're told about the consequences of having such power. And yet, what consequences do we actually see. Everything works out perfectly for Alina.
Mal is revived after his valiant death.
The Darkling in defeated.
The Fold folds away.
Nikolia becomes an excellent King.
And Alina is relieved of a power she had never wanted in the first place.
That's my main qualm with this book.

I feel like Leigh Bardugo played it safe and gave everyone the happily-ever-after treatment that we are all sick of in YA literature.
It was a predictable ending that lessened my validation that I was going to remember the series for years to come.

This isn't a bad book. I just had more issues with it than I did the previous two books. The characters and writing just about balance the book. 4 stars

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Shadow and Bone review

Leigh Bardugo’s Shadow and Bone, the first in her Grisha series has been out for a while now, and I finally conceded and bought it. It wasn’t because I didn’t want to read it, it’s just because it takes me 50x longer to get around to reading popular reads.

Shadow and Bone was quite high on my TBR when it first arrived and I when I finished my latest book, I went straight for Shadow and Bone. Once I had decided to start it, I became increasingly more excited about it. I’ve heard many good things about the series and was eager to form my own opinions.

First off, I would like to say how much I really enjoyed the Russian influence in the novel. Though I did struggle with some pronunciations at first I still wanted more. I loved the Grisha, separate from each other and yet forming a solid front. I loved their different coloured keftas and all the different abilities and talents that they could have. I wish there had been a little more history on how the Grisha came to be.

Though the writing isn’t anything out of this world, that in no way means that the actual book suffered for it. The plot in Shadow and Bone is mesmerizing. It’s conflictions with power and doing what’s right war with each other beautifully. Just as the elegance and violence do.
The plot twists are unguessable and throws you off in a way that has you racking your brains for any earlier signs. My previous opinions were scattered to the wind and I loved this book it. It’s harder these days to find ways to disorient your reader, as plot twists have become increasingly easier to guess. How easily I was tricked by such clever writing.

On to the focal point of this novel. The Darkling.
I loved him. Not because of his smooth manners and swoon worthiness. But because I find him the truest character of them all. <spoiler>How some peoples quest for power struggle with the knowledge of right and wrong, whereas the Darkling does not. Though he believes he will help Ravka, it is truly his own self that he wishes to empower and he certainly isn’t sorry for it.
The coldness and callousness is what makes him the villain. Now his hunger for power, but would he would do to get it.</spoiler> Because even the most pure hearted can locked in the throes of power.

Alina is a character at first that I was unsure of but then grew to very much enjoy. A girl with absolutely has no place in the world is suddenly thrust into the role of most important woman in all of Ravka’s history. What I loved most about her though was her willingness to do the right thing and continue fighting. Though the decision is very tough, especially at the very end of the book. She understands that hers is a power that comes with very real consequences. I’m curious to how Alina’s new found power will come into play now that she isn’t enslaved to the Darkling whims.

Throughout the book we are told that ‘like calls to like’ and I feel that’s absolutely true.
Alina and the Darkling are the opposite sides of the same coin, so they are bound to never truly be free of the other. They each resent the attributes of the other because they are so different, and yet, you cannot have light with darkness.

I’m very much looking forward to reading the rest of the series and will be buying them in the immediate future. I need my next fix of the Darkling. I also want to see how the whole of Ravka deal with the events.

Friday, 6 February 2015

Graceling review

The Graceling series is a series that I have been always been excited to read, and late last year I bought all three books in the series. Unfortunately, all three copies are completely different from one another. I have a large print Graceling. A normal sized Fire, and then a HUGE hardcover of Bitterblue, so none of them match, which everyone knows is a huge inconvenience if you like your shelves looking neat or level.

As a fan of the Throne of Glass series by Sarah J Maas, I was told I would enjoy this book as much as those. And obviously that made me hugely excited to finally start the series.
If I'm totally honest with my self, I really didn't enjoy Graceling as much as I was hoping.
The whole of idea of peoples 'Grace's' was really interesting and I did enjoy those aspects of the book, but I found the whole story didn't completely engage me.
I would like to put the reason behind why I didn't like it so much to being in a reading slump, and yet, even in peak reading conditions, I don't feel my thoughts would of been much different.
The plot was ok and the pacing wasn't a problem. I was just wishing for a little more to happen. The majority of the book is people camping in woods, and there is only so much you can read about setting endless fires and catching endless fish.

The entire conflict of the book is solved within two sentences. I thought perhaps I'd skipped a couple of pages by accident.
But nope, one minute Katsa is under the King's influence, then BAM, she throws a knife and he's dead.

On the subject of Katsa. I can honestly, that though I wanted more from the book as a whole, Katsa was it's defining trait. She carried the book when I lost interest, and I actually think she may be one of my new favourite characters.
Katsa is deemed 'cold' and a 'killer' because of her Grace. But that isn't true, and I found myself instantly taken with her.
Katsa's adamant nature, towards marriage, children and 'belonging to someone' was delightfully refreshing and something I could relate too immensely.
Katsa is utterly fierce and loyal and we see her transition from 'Randa's dog' and 'Lady Killer' to a woman capable of controlling her own choices and life.
She was an absolute delight to read.

Katsa and Po's 'relationship' is something a lot of people have taken issue with. But I found it soothing to have no insta-love and love triangles.
People have criticized Cashore's portrayal of Katsa not wanting any commitment, and yet having a physical relationship with Po, for not wanting to lose any of her newly found freedom. And I praise her for it.
Katsa could almost be classed as an aromantic. And if she were, it is still acceptable to love someone without being an a particularly romantic relationship.
I feel Katsa, and everything she stands for, and every stereotypical protagonist she stands against is this book defining 'grace.' See what I did there. That was a bad joke.

The supporting characters were placed and characterized quite perfectly and I loved almost everyone.

I will certainly continue with the Graceling series, yet at more of a hesitant rate.

Though I don't think this book deserve 3 stars, I also don't feel it warrants 4.

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Reading Slump

So, ever since Christmas, I've been in a huge reading slump. It's been hard to find any free time to read anyway, but when I do have a spare hour or two, I find that I'm  either putting off reading entirely, or I'm just not into anything that I'm actually reading. And I don't really want to force myself into reading these books when I think that I could enjoy them so much more if I gave them the time they deserve.
To top things off, I've been so incredibly ill over the whole of January, including my birthday. I really should go to a doctor.

My Goodreads challenge this year is a total of 60 books, which if you look at what I read in six months last year at 45, isn't particularly that much of a stretch.
It roughly equals reading five books every month. On a good day, that's quite plausible to me. And yet, at the rate that I'm going, that goal seems unattainable. And I know I shouldn't read just to achieve my goal, but there are a lot of high profile reads that I want to get through this year.

But in the whole of January, I only managed a measly two books. Which I know isn't really terrible. But I'm still disappointed.
I think I just need to clear my head and start again with a book that I'm really excited about reading.