Yulia is a girl who can access memories through touch. So, if she touches an object she can see where it’s been, etc. She’s picked up off the streets by the KGB and taken to a house where a group of other teenage psychics are being trained as KGB agents.This book is exactly as cool as that paragraph makes it sound.
Maybe if I stop listening to people when they say ‘Oh, hey, Emily, you’ll like this book! You should read it!’ (Eternally upset at Jo & Val for those fateful messages in summer of 2012 when they told me to read Shadow and Bone. Eternally. Upset.) A few friends actually pushed this one my way and to be honest I don’t think I will ever be happy again after reading this book….
It perfectly captures the fairy-tale prose that can be so elusive for some writers. If you think a heavily simplified Deathless then you’re thinking on the right track. (Heavily simplified. This felt like on the cusp of a MG/YA style of writing). The setting was Slavic in origin (my next 3 reviews are all Russian YA lit so. That’s a thing I am obsessed with in case you haven’t gathered so far) and follows Kate (Plain Kate), a woodcarver whose life is tragic. Let me please just let you be aware right now, this book is heartbreaking from start to finish. I was only barely prepared. Let me prepare you.
When the marketing for this book started showing up on my tumblr and twitter feeds I was very confused. I have a tendency to just never go out of my way to read synopses and try to figure out the genre of a book simply by the way it’s being marketed. (I don’t recommend this. It leaves me bewildered and confused all the time and all that confusion would be so easily remedied). The book has an exceptionally pretty cover and to be honest I thought it was yet another dystopia. IT’S NOT. It’s high fantasy. Not only is it high fantasy, but it’s high fantasy with a Roman Empire-esque feel to the world building. So, that’s nice that hasn’t been done in a while.
This ISN’T SPOILER FREE. IN FACT IT IS WROUGHT WITH SPOILERS. THIS IS YOUR WARNING YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.
All right. Guys. I hope you’re comfortable because this is going to be…. very very long. Also I’m already crying ok Emily you can do this. To start, if you’re here for a straight review i’m going to take a really long time getting there so if you just want to know if I liked it or not it was perfect ok? I have tiny minor qualms but they were all pacing and no plot sO there you have it if that’s all you wanted then you can save yourself the time of reading my ramblings (bUT emily thE END yeah i’ll talk about that…. well probably at the end of this). That said. Hella spoilers and I’m probably going to swear up a storm because nothing else is accurately conveying the absolute depth of my emotions right now. Have you been warned sufficiently? I hope so.
Review for The Wager
All right. This stops my dystopia run in its tracks. Now, ok, it’s been a long time since I’ve read a Donna Jo Napoli book and I’m all about devil deals and I love Don Giovanna but man.
This book was so boring.
Review for The Knife of Never Letting Go
All right. Yes. I am very behind with YA dystopia apparently. I know. It’s not usually my thing so I’ve avoided almost all of it. Thankfully, I seem to have hit a good run with Legend and now The Knife of Never Letting Go. Like. Good grief.
This is a book.
Where to even start. First off, the whole book is written in dialectic (a thing that, I admit, made me kind of nervous when I started it. I’m not the biggest fan of dialectic writing, generally). And it’s written really well. Second. You know right away that this book is not going to be typical.
My review for Legend
This has been one I’ve been meaning to read for ages. I remember when I played it’s little flash dress up game on deviantart. But I only recently made the connection to the two (amazing.) This is… probably one of my favourite YA dystopias that have come across my path. I glanced through some of my goodreads friend reviews and they all seemed to think it dragged and was slow paced but honestly it’s pacing was part of what I liked about it. My nitpick would probably be with some of the substance.
Because, wow, we actually were told enough to know what was going on! Amazing! A first! We know about the split between the Republic and the Colonies and the war but how the US reached that point isn’t actually as important as it is in other dystopias because the current political set up is presented so well.
Review for Shatter Me
I got multiple anonymous messages on tumblr telling me to read this book because of a certain amoral love (?) interest. But I kept putting it off because, you know, YA dystopia. And, well, I read it very quickly and I’m… conflicted.
I liveblogged it on my blog and I spent a lot of time being baffled by the prose. Ok, here’s the thing. Purple prose and flowery prose is great when it’s done well (think Cat Valente’s Deathless or Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone) but it takes a long time for a writer’s prose to get to a point where it doesn’t just sound ridiculous and pretentious (Cat Valente’s early work is messy messy messy). So, this was… a prosaic mess. She used the word Shatter 7 times (I kept count because, you know, if it’s in the title it’s going to be noticed), she kept likening the protagonist to butter (I… I’m still confused), all the make out scenes the protagonist was on fire (it was always fire. every time. fire.) she used hyperbole to the extreme (like i was genuinely concerned for Juliette’s well being because her jaw kept falling off and her organs were always rearranging themselves).
Review for Cinder
This book exceeded all of my expectations. All of them. I generally become rather wary about super hyped books (I’m cynical by nature, there was that whole Divergent debacle, you understand) so I went in to this one very cautiously, expecting, well, I’m not sure what I was expecting.
What I got was a badass fairy tell retelling about a cyborg. Fairy tale retellings are my favourite thing (retelling in general are my favourite thing), but a lot of times I’ve become wary when it’s the super popular tales that are getting retold (because they’ve been done so many times, how else can you do them, you know?) Well, this one definitely took the story of Cinderella in a whole new direction.
Review for Seraphina
This was an interesting one for me. I had mixed feelings about it as I was reading it, but in hindsight, I really liked what it did.
The world building was superb. (It was very overwhelming in the beginning, but as the story progressed, it worked itself out.) It felt grounded in a way that a lot of fantasy books never accomplish. It also felt like it was set right as the Medieval period shifted to the Renaissance (which isn’t a time period that most choose for their fantasy novels). It felt like a historical fantasy novel, which is an excellent atmosphere to have.
Review for Thief’s Covenant
I started this right on the heels of reading Falling Kingdoms so, needless to say, tentatively. Thankfully, my fears at this being another YA High Fantasy with stilted dialogue and uncomfortable exposition were completely unfounded.
I was so charmed by this book. It was absolutely delightful.
Sometimes, I think that current YA High Fantasy (which is such a struggle to type out, can I just say YA HF? Because that’s what I’m doing now) is always on the border of being overwrought. Everyone tries so hard to be new and different and yet it all ends up being very similar or just being too much (and I’m talking about a genre that still feels so small and always will because, let’s face it, fantasy is hard to write). And it’s the too much that bothers me the most (as someone who just really loves traditional fantasy and traditional worldbuilding). This was none of those things…
Review for Falling Kingdoms
Game of Thrones for teens (because teens don’t read Game of Thrones!! I’m being facetious, forgive me). Well, when I started this I was excited because YA High Fantasy is always my thing, and you in the beginning I was digging it. The prologue is great.
… and, you know, that was about all I thought was great. It’s frustrating when you read a book that is one step away from being good but it’s just not. And I always feel so sad when the High Fantasy books are the ones that aren’t good.
This review has been a long time coming and I’ve put it off because thinking about this book is both wonderful and painful. This broke shattered my heart and it did it in the most beautiful way possible. (Note, it has been some time since I read this, and I don’t have my copy handy, so it won’t be as detailed as it could have been).
I have said it before and I will say it again. I have 2 favourite YA trilogies. One is the stuff of my heart and the other the stuff of my soul. One is how I feel like I write, and the other is how I wish I could write. The Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy is the stuff of my soul which I would trade in a heartbeat to be able to write like Laini Taylor does.
This is, without question, one of the saddest books I have ever read. If you’ve read Daughter of Smoke and Bone and are expecting more star-crossed romance, that is not the turn the story takes. This is a war narrative, and a beautiful one at that. This book is incredibly profound for me so I’m not entirely sure I’ll be able to word how I feel about it eloquently.
"Well, we’re here, kids. We’ve made it. It was a painful journey, thankfully not a long one, and here we are at the end. I wish I could optimistically start by saying that this book was the best of the three, it wasn’t. It was the worst. It was so painfully the worst.
When I opened the book on my e-reader and realised that the point of view was going to switch between Tris and Tobias, my reaction was a groan of despair.”
Note: this review does contain spoilers.
"Well, friends, here we are. I’ve finished the second book and, well, I’ve finished the second book. Well, I’ve finished the second book.
Guys, I’m so sorry I just can’t see what everyone sees in these good god .
At the very beginning of this book I was notably impressed! The writing has improved! Things aren’t so stiff and formal and uncomfortable! Tris is still… well… dull, but hey, you know, there’s some improvement!
It all went so wrong so fast, I’m still spinning from how badly it took a nosedive.”