Nevernight by Jay Kristoff | Review

Pages: 430
Genre: fantasy, young adult

My thoughts

Rating out of five:

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This story has an incredible average review rating, but I was terribly bored, found the plot flat and some aspects idiotic. This hardcover is nice though. It starts with a simple fantasy concept; an orphan girl enrolling in an assassin academy where there’s as much chance of dying as of graduating, especially as someone is murdered by a fellow student and she got to figure out who (even if they’re all killers). Also she can’t forget why she came there; to train until she’s strong enough to take down the Senate who killed her father, after convicting him as a traitor. Okay, maybe not so simple, but not the most original story either. And that’s what this book plays on, because every small detail is done better than most of the young adult fantasy heroine books I’ve read.

“Forget the girl who had everything. She died when her father did.“
“But I–”
“Nothing is where you start. Own nothing. Know nothing.”
“But why would I want to do that?”
His smile made her smile in return.
“Because then you can do anything.”

It also succeed with the characters and their interactions within the school. Mia, the main character, has lost everything but her life and snarky humour, and has to use her mind as she navigates this new enviroment where everyone is dangerous. Even the library will kill you. I can’t decide if I like that the characters are built on archetypes like “mean girl”, “brutal teacher”, “evil twins”, “hot boy”, but that they all are murderous versions who don’t behave as expected. It still feels too easy and unoriginal.

 

That said, a few things really bothered me;

  • ASTERIX! FREAKING EVERYWHERE. Especially at the beginning. You think I’m kidding, but more than once the author covered more than half the page. And 1/10 of them is related to the plot so I have to read them just in case. Why u doing this?? Usually I like the extra voice these notes bring, but here it was too much too soon and interrupted the pace.

 

  • You don’t need to read the whole book. At least not to follow the plot. Never thought I would say this, but the writing is so slow and filled with unecessary words that for the middle part of this book you can read the first and last sentence of a paragraph and still follow the plot. Trust me, I tried.

 

  • I didn’t realize the problem reading it, but there’s* a discussion of this book being problematic in regards to possible links between the book’s dweymeri people and the maori. If you’re curious, do a google search and you’ll find blogs better qualified to answer it than me. From the little I’ve seen the author was kind of a jerk about it on twitter trying to explain they’re not based on the same group of people. But hey, I haven’t looked into whether or not he got a lot of shit for it either. I’m all for people making their own critical choices when supporting books, and it’s good to be aware of these things. I believe that he can have created a world with negative views on for example mixed kids and enforcing certain stereotypes without that being a unique thing for this book. It’s a problem in fantasy and world-building in general. There’s plenty of other reasons not to read this book, the way I see it, mostly because it’s boring and unecessary large. But it’s definitely a discussion worth being loud about.

*disclaimer: i wrote this review some time back and at the time it very much was a discussion around this book. how much the word problematic has been overused since then, but even with some more thought in this case it applies well. from what i’ve seen the plotpoints of racism are not outright terribly wrong, but seen as problematic from many and at the very least unecessary.

The last hundred pages of this book was the best, but it was not worth it. While I really loved the new twist on young assassin heroine Mia’ with her shadow-abilities and the not-cat, I just don’t think I’ll read the next book when it comes out. I used sixteen days to get through this one, which is a long time for me. It had great solutions to problems already in young adult fantasy books, but was blind to the new problems it created for itself. I won’t waste time on the next books, might sound harsh, but based on the amount of unecessary lines alone, I couldn’t do it.

 

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin | Review

Pages: 452
Genre: young adult, paranormal
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Synopsis

This book is confusing af, but it starts simple enough with a friendgroup who goes to an abandoned building for fun, but it suddenly collapses on top of them and kills everyone but Mara Dyer, the main character. She wakes up in a hospital, disoriented and not able to recall anything of the incident. But no one else has answers to what happened either. What they know is that four teenagers went in, but only one came out.

Struggling with memoryloss and PTSD, Mara convinces her family to move away, talking about fresh beginnings and less reminders, but not really believing it herself. She’s having flashbacks and hallucinates, memories of her and her two dead friends and boyfriend constantly haunting her dreams. Slowly, but surely her memories seem to return, but she doesn’t know how to make sense of it all.

My thoughts

Rating out of five:

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This book has more psychological elements than paranormal ones, which was okay, but confusing for the main part of this story. It’s written to be all mysterious, but honestly I just grew impatient and annoyed. Mara believes she’s going crazy, but won’t immediately find help because of her overprotective mom who seems to control much in her life. At first I found it a bit extreme as I realize she needs help to function, but she’s already back at school so how bad can she be? But when shit goes down, I realized Mara might need more supervising than what is shown from her own unreliable narrative.

And she should not be in school full-time! How would anyone allow it, hadn’t it been for the sake of the story and her love interest being there? As Mara slowly works out her new life, or pretend to, she meets a mysterious boy named Noah Shaw. She is repeatedly warned against him for his reputation of dating and dumping girls. I won’t comment on this relationship anymore than I wouldn’t read this book for the romance because it’s very stereotype “bad boy turns good for The One Girl” with a twist or two. Still, even if it’s nice twists and I like Noah in himself, they don’t really work good together. Mostly he’s just there, saying a few lines and filling out the plot when necessary.

I feared for a long time this book would be all stereotype high school drama, because it was clearly heading that way, but right before I laid the book down in defeat strange things started to happen around Mara Dyer. The book was back on track! When the plot twist came I was done again; I saw it long time coming and it couldn’t have been more expected. If you’ve read a couple of paranormal ya I think you’ll figure it out. It’s not a bad twist, it just reflects the biggest problem of this book – it’s predictable. Some occurences might be unexpected and interesting, but the plot and story as whole goes in a boring straight line.

There’s two more books in this series, which could turn out better now that it took 452 pages to reveal one secret and lay the base of the story, which really has just been “high school drama with paranormal stuff somewhere”. I don’t think I want to read two more books like that. The title is good; “The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer” is just what happens in this book, but nothing moreDid you like this book? Is the second and third book better?

See How They Run by Ally Carter | Review

Embassy Row #2

Pages: 336
Genre: young adult, mystery

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Summary

Grace’s past has come back to hunt her and if she doesn’t stop it, Grace isn’t the only one who will get hurt. Because on Embassy Row, the countries of the world are neighbours and stand like dominoes. One wrong move can make them all fall down.

My thoughts

Rating out of five:

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No. Noope. Glad to be done with this book. It showed the series had a direction, but too much went wrong along the way.

I don’t even know why I would review a book I didn’t like, but I feel like I would appreciate it if someone warned me? I liked the other series by Ally Carter and if I’d read a review like this, I wouldn’t have bothered to pick this one up. Go read the Gallagher girls or even better; the Heist society. They’re both better than this one, even if it has its moments and good quotes.

To start off on a positive note: here you got young adult characters that actually behave like young people, however serious the situation is. It’s refreshing and it seems like they characters have grown up a bit since the last book, which makes completely sense.

I didn’t really know what this book would be about – at all – since in the first book every secret seemed to spill over and was eventually wrapped up with a bow on top. How could there be any more skeletons in the closet after that? All praise to Ally Carter’s creativity to figure that out – and she did. This book have good action, it’s fast-paced and have its moments. You think the plot twist is obvious, but there’s always more undetected hidden behind them. The mystery wasn’t as original as I hoped. It got an okay backstory though, and that’s about what I can say without spoiling anything.

These teenagers got to be very energetic. That’s a looot of running around, which I don’t really care for. It might be a choice taken to keep things interesting and the reader alert, but I don’t really care to follow when they return to places for the who-knows-how-many times. You got a lot of hiding spots, and surely need them with all this drama, but it’s a bit overkill.

That’s the thing about being the girl who’s spent years convincing the world she’s not afraid of anything: at some point, someone is going to find out you’re afraid of everything.

The main character, Grace, has changed since the first book too. She’s as wild and upredictable as usual, but no longer considered as paranoid because she’s proven herself at last. The relationship between her and her brother seemed more real, as did the friendships she finally developed with the other embassy kids. She seem to have PTSD, or something similar, and it’s well shown throughout the book. It makes Grace and the plot seem more real, since you’re shown the consequences she has to deal with. I was worried at the beginning that this book would follow the usual recipe: girl meets boy, drama happens and they have to fix it together, everyone acts before they think, but it magically works out anyway and finally they get together. It wasn’t completely like that, to my relief. Some of the elements are certainly there, but Carter managed to add some dimension to it.

Also, the adults seem to finally have been introduced to the plot, even going so far as keeping an eye on them. Wow, who would have known they could have information and perhaps be willing to help? “See how they run” was predictable at times, but well-written and a step up from the first book. Still it didn’t do enough for me to concider picking up the third book of the series. I believe I’m done with this, there has to be better mysteries out there to read. I think it’s beccause the plot is built on one too many clichés, and that’s honestly why I didn’t figure out all the plot twists; I thought it wouldn’t be that obvious. This book certainly tries to keep your interest and who knows, perhaps it will work for you, but I’ll throw in the towel and say I’m happy to have finished it.

“She’s right, of course. There’s a loop in my life – a pattern of violence and death and heartbreaking sorrow that I would give anything to stop. To rewrite. To end. But my walls are not yet high enough, not strong enough. What Ms Chancellor doesn’t know is that I never will stop building.”

Storm Glass by Maria V. Snyder | Review

Pages: 490

Genre: young adult, fantasy

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Synopsis

From the author of the poison study series, it’s a new fantasy book with a world where magic can be stored in glass. The Stormdancers are able to capture storms in glass orbs, but someone is killing them and destroying the storages in order to stop it. Opal Cowan, a glassmaker and magician, is brought in to prevent the disasterous attacks, but her skills might not be enough. Much is needed to be learned about the connection between glass and magic, and it not easy to gather that information with the most skilled magicians dead and the others being rather mysterious. To help and stay safe, Opal needs to learn the reason behind the attacks and how to stop them.

My thoughts

Rating out of five:

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I’ve always been fascinated by glassblowing and it was interesting to read a fantasy book that revolved around it. It’s still only an average book in all other aspects; writing, plot, characters, romance … it’s nothing special. Poison study did so well, and both this series and the healer series seems to be trying (and failing) at mimicking that sucess without creating the same story. Instead of a taster for a king, the girl is a glassmaker or healer, the love interests is more bland and the same with the main girl Opal. To not make her easily compared to the original kick-ass Yelena, why not make Opal unsure of herself always. Also, storm metaphors are nice the first five times or so, after 300 more pages with it I’m out.

I’m not giving these series a third chance for now. It’s not for me. I do love the glassblowing aspect though, and have been looking for books with it. Have you read any other books with glassblowing? I remember reading the fiction book “The glassblower from Milano” by Marina Fiorato many years ago (I don’t really remember it at all) and liking it, but I think that’s the only other book.

Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer

Synopsis

What does it take for a well-off young man to donate all his money and wander into the Alaskan wilderness (north of Mt. McKinley) with minimal equipment prepared? August of 1992 his body was found, four months later. After the author wrote an article on him, he chose to continue investigating what had happened and who Christopher McCandless was. It leads to this book about the events leading up to the event, how McCandless took the name Alexander Supertramp and it wasn’t his first trip alone. He had gone to Mexico and back in a kayak and wandered the US for years, meeting people who mostly got a good impression of him. It’s strange how he affected certain people, even if it’s looked at with the lense of his death becoming a nation-wide story. Alexander himself wrote about his months in the wilderness and took picture of the place, he underlined thoughtful philosophical quotes in books like anyone. But not everyone meets such an unfortunate end all alone, after having eaten something toxic or simply starving to death.

“I read somewhere… how important it is in life not necessarily to be strong, but to feel strong… to measure yourself at least once.”

My thoughts

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I didn’t get as much out of this book as I was looking for. Mostly because it’s not Alexander/Christophers story. Obviously, since he’s ufortunately dead. His notes was the most interesting part of this book, along with the interviews of the people who met him. The author adds other similiar stories, some more interesting than others, as well as own experiences. It comes in an odd place that makes it seem more like filler than if it had been towards the end, as an extra information. There’s not enough material to justify the length of the book, which makes the middle part more boring than necessary. Other than that, the authors writing was good. There’s no romanticizing the events that occurred, but at the same time there’s given reasons for why people choose to live solitary, off the grid that way or want to be in the wilderness.

who was this person?

Personally I don’t agree with the voices claiming Christopher to have a death-wish, had overly romaticized the trip or that he’s a hero for doing something so daring and breaking out of the average life. There certainly seems to be elements of all three, he was too unprepared in the end, he seemed to be escaping and he seemed to be spontaneous. He’d already travelled a lot and been on the road, so he wasn’t straight out from normalcy and college. The last person who saw Christopher alive warned him about the dangers as he noticed he didn’t have much gear, even gave him some, but figured he wouldn’t stay out there that long. This is the part of the story where I question how in his right mind Christopher was, and what his plans were originally. But even with this there wasn’t one personality trait or fault that automatically lead to his death. He got unlucky, in the end. I think that’s the main idea I’ve gotten from this book that I wouldn’t have from articles that claim he was one thing or another. People have done stupid shit and survived, even in the wilderness of Alaska, but McCandless got unlucky.

I wonder if Christopher would’ve liked the book himself. Maybe not. I wanted to know what lead to him wanting to spend time alone out there, as well as what went wrong, and could’ve liked a more direct layout of the theories when it became obvious there were no final answer. I would recommend the book if you’re very interested, if not I think articles online or even the wiki page would be a great place to start. I haven’t yet seen the movie “into the wild”, but I’ll keep you updated when I do. I’m expecting that to give a much more “McCandless as a daring hero” vibe than this book, but maybe not.

Have you ever wanted to spend time alone in the wilderness? Can you imagine what would lead a person to do what McCandless did? I’m still wondering why he changed his name, any ideas?

The Diviners by Libba Bray

Pages: 578

Genre: young adult, historical, fantasy-ish

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Synopsis

Evie O’Neill’s powers and personality gets her in trouble in her hometown and she’s sent to live with her uncle in 1926′s New York City. She’s excited for the big city, but finds a rather eccentric uncle who runs a museum of strange occult things. Evie’s good at getting what she wants and she sneaks along when her uncle is called out to help with a murder investigation. Occult symbols have been found at the gruesome crime scene and they need an expert. But it’s Evie’s abilities that’s most helpful.

My thoughts

This book sounded so interesting, but I never found myself liking it. The plot is meh, the setting more exciting, but nothing special there either. The writing might be my biggest problem with this book, it slows down where it doesn’t need to and skips most details that would’ve made the setting feel more real. The year is 1926, but flappers, newspaper boys and less women rights are the only real difference. It feels like a cheap way to make the main character Evie more interesting, to make her a “modern girl” living in another time, but with the mind, views and knowledge of this time.

The grand finale was going to redeem this book and after nearly 400 pages I was ready for it. There has to be one with crime, where they solve the mystery and shit goes down. BUT it was perhaps the worst part of the book. Until then it had at least been some mystery, not who the murderer was, but how to stop him. When it came down to it, the murderer was ridiculous and so was the writing at the end.

*SPOILERS*

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