Sunday, February 1, 2015

The Young Elites by Marie Lu


           After reading her previous series and the synopsis of this book, I thought that Marie Lu’s newest work, The Young Elites, was going to completely blow me away. Much to my dismay, I was greatly disappointed. Don’t get me wrong, the book wasn’t absolutely horrible. It just didn’t live up to the expectations that I set for it since I loved her Legend series so much.

            When she was young, a terrible blood fever spread all over the country, leaving some of the survivors marked with strange otherworldly powers and physical imperfections. These were called the malfetto and they were persecuted and killed when they showed signs of supernatural powers, and Adelina was one of the unlucky ones. Treated as an abomination for her entire life, she grew up estranged from her father and unmarked sister. One day, her father decides to sell her to a wealthy merchant, but she runs away before that can happen and accidently gets her father killed when her powers of illusion finally emerge for the first time and spook some horses. She is about to be burned at the stake when a group of malfettos, the Young Elites, saves her. This group opposes the government and seeks to create a world where malfettos can live in peace. Their leader just so happens to be the crown prince, and when they test Adelina for the powers that she aligns with, they are all dark and sinister. Meanwhile, she is haunted by the ghost of her father as her powers grow stronger and stronger, as do her dark alignments with them. Will Adelina be the hero of the story? Or will she end up being the villain instead?

            So first let’s talk about the “heroine” Adelina. Honestly, she’s more like the anti-heroine. She was not the best-developed character I’ve ever seen, and she felt very two-dimensional. Her character was created with little emotion behind it, and it was quite obvious; I didn’t become attached to her in the slightest, nor did I really root for her, which is typically the type of reaction that a main character should evoke. I understand that this book is actually meant to portray the story of the villain, but it was extremely difficult to feel any empathy for her; she created all of her own problems and she was repetitive, complaining about situations nearly of her own creation. Honestly, the one of the only good things about this entire book was Raffaele. He was sweet, kind, and pretty much the only good person in this story. Another thing that was completely flat was the romance. She’s supposed to have a romance with the prince, and love him so dearly, yet it seemed shallow and completely superficial; it wasn’t a satisfying love story in the least. That is a good word to describe this book: unsatisfying.

             That being said, there were also some very interesting aspects, like the different powers that each of the characters had. Some were a bit cliché, like the prince’s ability to control fire, but Adelina’s power of illusion was a more unique power that I don’t think I have ever read about in a book before (that is not to say they don’t exist, I just have never read any). The ending of the story also intrigued me, but not the part that dealt with the main character; it was the afterword that really interested me, the part that talked about an entirely different character. I found her far more interesting than the main and I only read about her for a few pages. So, she is the only reason that I will read the next book when it comes out, and I really hope that Marie Lu steps it up in this next one and blows me away!

Unsatisfying, but hopeful for the next one! 3 Smileys!!

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Stormdancer (The Lotus War #1) by Jay Kristoff

Stormdancer by Jay Kristoff was, in a word, brilliant. I devoured this book in just a few days, and what a wonderful few days those were!

            Yukiko had learned from the time she was small to hide her gift; no one could know about it or a terrible fate would befall her. In a world where the Guild burns those they call “Impure,” and a parasitic crop on which their whole society is run on, called blood lotus, is ruining their lands, it is hard to imagine a worse situation. When the Shōgun demands that she and her father find a mythical creature believed to be long extinct, called an arashitora, they expect to come back empty-handed and dishonored. However, they somehow seem to find one and they capture it. However, their airship cannot withstand its might, so it crashes to the ground, bringing Yukiko with it. So, Yukiko is stuck in the wilderness with an injured arashitora that isnt too fond of her, but being alone for so long can do things to people. Like make them friends. And the friendship between these two may have the power to destroy the corrupt nation and start righting the wrongs that the Shōgun has commited for years. Will the two have the power to stir an entire nation? Or will they be crushed by the ultimate power of the land?

            Yukiko is an absolutely amazing heroine, smart and strong and compassionate. She’s not the “hard” kind of strong; she’s the caring kind, the kind that sacrifices for others, but not overly so that they are walking all over her. She also knows her way with a sword, and she is really smart and cunning: “Kitsune takes care of his own.” She is part of the fox (Kitsune) clan, so she is stealthy and sly (and awesome, but I think that’s just her). Then, there’s Buruu. He’s an arashitora: the front half is an eagle and the back half is a tiger. That description alone should make you like him already. But, other than that, he’s super strong; he can rip off the head of an oni in ten seconds flat.  Plus, once he actually likes Yukiko, he’s really protective and he gets adorably jealous when she talks to other people instead of to him. I’m IN LOVE with Buruu and Yukiko’s relationship. It’s more of a familial relationship and it’s SO ADORABLE I CAN’T EVEN HANDLE IT. And together, these characters alone make up for an amazing story. But throw in a drunken father, a badass maid, and a defiant princess, and you’ve got an awesome set of characters!

            The story, of course, was another strongpoint of the book, but before I get into that, I have to talk about the writing. I know I usually don’t pay much attention to it, but it’s hard not to notice it in this book. It is so descriptive and the adjectives perfectly fit the mood and theme of the book. And I mean PERFECTLY. I honestly don’t think that that Kristoff could have chosen better words to use. And may I just add that he used the word “squeezeway” a few times, and it made me crack up every single time I read it for some reason…

            Anyway, the story. It was fast-paced, nail-biting (seriously, my nails are all gone), and, for the most part, unpredictable. There were a few things here and there that I could see coming, but definitely not everything (which I seem pretty good at most of the time…). I was so into the book that I couldn’t ever put it down!! There were times in the story when one of the characters would be talking, and I would literally get goose bumps from whatever it is they were saying. I don’t remember exactly what they said, but I’m sure it was profound and great from my reactions to them! J

            Before any of you read this book, I have a few words of caution: It is extremely confusing. At first. If you’re not good at following characters and remembering the names of things, it may seem a bit confusing. Heck, even if you’re good at it, it may seem a bit challenging. But, don’t worry too much because it gets better! Within the first few chapters, I had everything sorted out just fine and I understood everything, so if you’re reading and are confused, don’t give up! It gets better! And trust me, you won’t regret reading this marvelous book.

LOVE!!! 5 Smileys!!

Monday, July 14, 2014

The Bitter Kingdom (Fire and Thorns #3) by Rae Carson

After the second book in Rae Carson’s Fire and Thorns trilogy, I was really excited to read the third one, The Bitter Kingdom. It met my expectations and more!

            Conde Eduardo and General Luz-Manuel, two of Elisa’s top advisors, have betrayed her and attempted to get Elisa out of power, in any way possible; including the death of the queen. What’s worse, the Commander of the Royal Guard, Hector, has been captured by the conde’s advisor and an Invierne, Franco, and she still hasn’t completed her act of service for God. So, Elisa and her friends head off to rescue Hector, hopefully before they reach Invierne, for Franco stole him in order to lure Elisa to their capital city, Umbra de Deus. She wants to evade their trap, but at the same time she can’t help but wonder what the enemy country is like. With her country on the brink of civil war, and another country waiting to destroy it, will Elisa be able to fulfill her act of service? Or will she be just another one of the bearers snuffed out before she even has a chance?

            After each book I seem to like Elisa more and more, and this one was no exception! She gets tougher and smarter after each book, and I really like how dynamic of a character she is; she clearly grows during each of the books and, in the end, turns into a wonderful queen and overall person. I also grew to love Storm. I liked him in the second book, but not very strongly. But in this book, I loved him so much! For some reason I found him hilarious, even when I don’t think he was supposed to be… oh well, I must have a distorted sense of humor, but that I already knew ;) Hector, being the love interest in this third book, was a good guy, funny and charming, so I think she made a good choice. Good job, Elisa! J Lastly, the new character, Red, was completely adorable!! Her cuteness level was right up there with Rosario’s (which, from previous reviews, you can see is pretty high)! I loved reading about this cast of characters so much and I’m a bit sad that it’s over!

            The story kept me on the edge of my seat the whole time, rooting for Elisa to win. I was also completely happy with the ending; it gave me closure, providing just enough details about the events that brought the tumultuous part of Elisa’s life to a close, but it didn’t give too much away. Let’s just say that it left just enough up to my imagination for it to be satisfying! It was highly entertaining to watch Elisa figure everything out so cleverly, using her brain to solve her problems before plunging into them headfirst. I also really enjoyed watching all of the relationships develop, not only through this book, but through the entire series, as well. I don’t really have much else to say, other than I really liked reading this series and this book was the perfect conclusion to Rae Carson’s trilogy! 

An amazing conclusion to a heart-pounding trilogy! 5 Smileys!!

Monday, July 7, 2014

The Crown of Embers (Fire and Thorns #2) by Rae Carson

The Crown of Embers by Rae Carson, the sequel to The Girl of Fire and Thorns, was much more enjoyable than the first, at least to me. I read it in about two days and it was over four hundred pages long! And this was in the midst of two vacations and packing with just a week between, so I kind of forced time out of my schedule to read it, but it was so worth it!

            Elisa just fought back the Invierne army and killed many of the animagi attacking her country of Joya d’Arena. Now, as queen, Elisa must face dangers and frustrations that she had never encountered before, such as scheming condes, the betrayals of those she holds in the closest trust, as well as a forced betrothal, not for the sake of love, but power. After an animagus burns itself in the center of her capital, Brisadulce, during her birthday parade and an assassination attempt folowing soon after, Elisa goes in search of the perpetrator in the catacombs beneath the city, only to find an Invierno man named Storm, who has information that could help her finally tap into the Godstone’s incredible power. He tells her of the source of all power, the zafira, and Elisa and her crew go on a journey to find it. Oh, and she also falls in love again, though this time I think it’s for real. But will she survive her perilous journey to be with the man she loves? Even if she does, will he?

            I liked Elisa three thousand times more in this book than the first. She wasn’t a weakling, or a coward, or anything like that. She was strong and brave and smart, a strong female lead, though she kept saying that she was weak as queen. No, girl; Alejandro was weak and you are nothing like him, don’t worry! Rosario, once again, was super adorable and I just want to take him home with me! I’m just sad that he has such a small part in these books; I hope we get to see him more in the next one! I also really liked Hector, the captain of Elisa’s Royal Guard. He’s kind and brave and caring; plus, he’s yummy J I did not like Ximena at all in this book; I know she’s supposed to be Elisa’s guardian, but she just needs to back off! I liked the part of this book when she wasn’t in it because she always keeps things from her and coddles her way too much. I’m glad she (hopefully) won’t be around too much in the next book!

            The story was fast-paced, but in a good way; it kept me reading and I didn’t ever want to put it down! The romance was also very well paced- it wasn’t the quick love at first sight that is found in so many YA books today. It began in the first book and it didn’t truly come to fruition until the second half of the second book, so it took its sweet time (and I don’t mean that sarcastically, it actually was really sweet J). The world that Carson has created is intricate and interesting, and I love the way she describes each new place that Elisa goes to; this time it was the island (that had gigantic bird-sized bugs, ew) and next time it will hopefully be Invierne! I have been wondering what it looks like, so I’m excited that the next book will take us there!

And with that, I will start reading the next one, The Bitter Kingdom!

I really enjoyed this book! 4 and 1/2 Smileys!

Saturday, June 28, 2014

The Girl of Fire and Thorns (Fire and Thorns #1) by Rae Carson


For some reason, I really enjoyed The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson, but at the same time I felt completely emotionally unattached to it. It could be because I was still emotionally drained from finishing Champion by Marie Lu, or I just didn’t care, I’m really not sure…

            Elisa has always thought of herself as the fat, useless princess of Orovalle; her sister, graceful and powerful, seemed like the complete opposite, worthy of being a queen. However, it’s Elisa who is married off to King Alejandro, the ruler of the largest territory, Joya d’Arena, on her sixteenth birthday. However, their marriage remains a secret, for Alejandro is afraid that his court may discover that Elisa holds the Godstone, a stone bestowed upon her on her naming day, prophesizing that she would complete some great will of God. Meanwhile, Joya d’Arena is on the verge of war with the neighboring country, Invierne, which has the use of animagi at its disposal, men that can burn people with the necklaces they wear around their necks. They seek the bearer of the Godstone, for they believe that it can increase their powers. At the same time, another, revolutionary group is also searching for her, looking for a savior. With so many people wanting her for her Godstone, who will Elisa side with? Will she even live to join a side at all?

            Elisa is a strong character; physically weak, but mentally tough. There were times that I found her a bit annoying, but most of the time she was fine. I didn’t really like her at the beginning, but by the end I found that I liked and respected her a lot more, which I think was what the author was trying to do. Alejandro was at first a likeable character, but by the end I saw him as nothing but a weakling and a coward. I think I was supposed to be sad when he died, but I felt nothing and I actually kind of enjoyed it… Is that bad? It’s not like I hated him or anything, but it just felt like he was getting in the way of the story. Humberto and Rosario (the young prince, so adorable!) were the only characters that I actually liked, and of course, Humberto dies in a way that elicited absolutely no emotion whatsoever. I think it may have been because I was expecting Humberto to come back to life or something; it seemed so sudden, but at the same time I saw it coming. It was obvious what was going to happen, really, but I still felt confused when it actually did. I just looked up from reading and said “What” out loud a few times, then continued reading.

            The story was good and kept me reading; I was never bored and the world was interesting. It was fun to see what would happen next and to fit the pieces of the puzzle together, but too many of the main characters died, which was kind of strange. Well, at least Rosario didn’t die, that’s all I really cared about. There’s not really much else for me to say on the point because I really don’t know what to feel. Hopefully I can give you a more coherent review on the next one!! J

This book was really interesting! 4 Smileys!!