Category: Review

The Iron Queen goes nowhere new and I’m okay with that

The Iron Queen goes nowhere new and I’m okay with that

★★★★☆

(4 stars)

One of the scariest things for me about reading books I enjoy is how little I have to say about them. The Iron Fey did not begin this way, but by book three I feel I’m running out of talking points. This is not a good or a bad thing, there’s simply not a lot to discuss, especially as there’s no real ‘developments’. The plot in these books moves exactly where you expect it to, with no real push or pull suggesting anything else. If I’d made a bullet list of what I expected to happen in this book, I’d have gotten every mark correct.

Still, there’s no denying these are also great books. Yes, predictability can be a curse, but it works for this series. It’s a popcorn book, a blockbuster event which lacks a certain substance but does nothing ‘wrong’. The world of wild fae mythos and original iron fey is fun, the monsters and ideas around them are fun, the action and battles and powers are… fun. This is a book where metal beetles march forward on the battlefield crewed by musketeer fey, where Puck throws balls of fur which turn into full size grizzly bears, and where, again, a fairly regular housecat is invulnerable to danger and every immortal being appears to owe him a minor debt.

These books do not need to be edgy, twisty, dark messes. They work just as they are- cliche romance bordered by great concepts, worlds, and creatures, where the ordinary teen ends up being queen and all the bad guys are vanquished forever.

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The Iron Daughter warrants a cold reception

The Iron Daughter warrants a cold reception

★★★☆☆

(3 stars)

After highly praising The Iron King, I knew I was setting myself up for a big comeuppance. After all, the Iron Fey IS a series from 2010-2011 (yes, the whole quartet came out within two years), and WAS quite cliche despite all the things I loved about book one. The ‘sequel series’, books five to seven, span 2013-2015, and the next book is due 2021. It’ll be interesting to see if/how the author evolves during the years and trends in YA, but the initial series of books is very dated to 2010. The Iron Daughter especially.

That’s not to say I hated this book at any point. It’s still notably engaging and of a better quality than the vast majority of books from this era, or really just books I’ve read. The side characters are fantastic and the world is a wild mish-mash of faerie mythos and lore that is extremely entertaining. Still, this books has to lose a bunch of points for the plot, and especially the romance. A lot less gets done in this book, and a lot more time is spent angsting over forbidden love and love triangles. It’s dumb and exhausting and takes up so much time.

While the book scurries over the normal ‘second book syndrome’, the useless romance, angst, lesser plot, and idiocy of the main character is exhausting enough on its own. At least Grimalkin is still perfect.

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To be honest, Holly Black’s Tithe wants what The Iron Fey has

To be honest, Holly Black’s Tithe wants what The Iron Fey has

★★★★☆

(4.5 stars)

There’s only a mild chance this high rating is influenced by how many bad books I’d read before it.

I know I make outstanding threats against Carden Greenbriar and this is a provocative headline, but I am overall a Holly Black ‘fan’. However, reading The Iron King (book one of the Iron Fey series) was like a good punch of breath air. Specifically, it’s worth comparing this book to Tithe, Holly Black’s YA paranormal romance from the same era. Yes, The Iron King is very much a ‘regular girl turns out to be special and fey, finds feyroyal love interest, uses trickery and special-ness to avoid finale murder by someone supposedly invincible’ story. So is Tithe.

While I think there’s plenty of fun (and merit) in dissing YA tropes and cliches, it is also true those things became common for a reason. Where many other YA books from this era fail on the same ideas and plot beats, The Iron King succeeds smoothly: The love interest(s) are not toxic, the MC has a personality, the world-building is unique and original, and the writing is solid. I really enjoyed reading The Iron King, and I expect I’ll be reading the rest of the series. It’s fun, perfectly middle-ground YA with a lot of neat faeries and characters. The world needs more all powerful sarcastic cats.

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There’s a non-zero chance Evermore is not bad YA, but masterful satire

There’s a non-zero chance Evermore is not bad YA, but masterful satire

☆☆☆☆☆

(.5 stars)

Evermore is about as generic as paranormal romance can get. It’s pretty much identical to the other genre books from the same time frame- Evermore, Hush Hush, and Fallen all were published in 2009, though bizarrely in that order. I was rather shocked to learn Evermore actually came before the other, more notable YA paranormal books at the time- it feels at times so strange and parodist that I figured it must have been a cash-in rip off.

Yet Evermore stands, strangely, in the early days of the paranormal romance bubble. I’m no expert, but the zenith was 2009, and Evermore is from February. We can proudly stand Evermore as early and (non) notable in the genre.

The reason I’m so fixated on when Evermore came out is simple: This book feels exactly, literally exactly, like satire of the para-ro genre. At first I dismissed the book as I read it, but then I sat on it for a day. I realized it was almost the same as how I’d write a parody book- the generic plot of the ‘not beautiful’ beautiful blonde main character, the mysterious bad boy new kid, the unexplained powers, the sheer number of powers, the I Love You exchange early on, the bizarre goth friend, the ridiculous names, the mean girl stereotypes, the stupid richness of the main characters, the fated/reincarnation storyline… All of it is so perfectly predictable and at points slightly more absurd than normal that I can safely conclude there is a non zero chance this book is a satire.

Beyond the fact it came first.

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Crescendo built to nothing but my own hatred of this series

Crescendo built to nothing but my own hatred of this series

☆☆☆☆☆

(0 stars)

When I accidentally began my paranormal romance binge focused on angel books focused on about 2010 era, I did not know how much pain I would be walking into. There were laughs in Sweet Evil, stupidly bad as that was. There were highs in Fallen, which had a couple good ideas. And then there’s Hush, Hush, a series so mindbogglingly bad it does nothing but frustrate and taunt me. There’s barely even humor to be found in the poor writing and horrendous world-building, plot, and characters. It’s just a slop you have to wade through for over 400 pages.

This book features pointless breakups, never seen new antagonists, more confusing angel lore, the world’s longest series of semi-breakups and reunions over the course of non stop, short lived teen parties, even worse girl-hate, slut shaming, and so much more.

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What? Am I supposed to seriously find a way to review House of Leaves?

What? Am I supposed to seriously find a way to review House of Leaves?

★★★☆☆

(3 stars)

Okay. What. What do you think I can do, explain myself? Explain this?

NO! Of course not!

This gets 3 stars because 3 stars means nothing, and this book is not good or bad. It’s a favorite and I despise it. No, I did not finish it.

I’ve been trying to read house of leaves for a long time now. Since middle school- so we’re getting close to ten years of me trying to read this book. I have never once finished it. This time I got the further I ever had, which is still less than half.

This is the giant huge book (in size and page length) that haunts my nightmares and reality. It is a story about a dude who finds a scattered manuscript in the house of a dead man, and this manuscript is an academic collection about a documentary that doesn’t exist, and the documentary is about an endless empty labyrinth which appears in a suburban home one day. Everyone goes insane, there are many footnotes, and the formatting starts to include giant blocks of black ink, empty spaces, upside-down text, boxes in boxes, and more.

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War of the Spark is a story somehow better told through cards

War of the Spark is a story somehow better told through cards

★★★☆☆

(2.5 stars)

If you’re unfamiliar with what my header means, let’s cover some groundwork: War of the Spark is a book set in, and tied to, the Magic the Gathering trading card game. You’ll note in the cover the title is even ‘Ravnica: war of the spark’, further tying the story to a specific place in the universe (where the book takes place) AND making it sound/look less like a ‘real’ novel. This is fair, because this isn’t really a book. It is an exceedingly overstuffed, poorly told rendition of the story in one recent expansion pack of MTG, a story which is somehow better told through one-two lines of flavor text at the bottom of some cards, and the art.

Despite this, I don’t regret reading this. I knew the reaction had mostly been negative, but I like MTG a lot, and I was just excited to see characters I’d grown attached to play out a fantastic story. Since the set was released (and made) before the book actually came out, I knew the story beats ahead of time, but there was still something satisfying about seeing them linked together.

However. From a writing point of view, this book is bad. It’s fun to read, but the characters, writing, world, and everything is thin, overstuffed, and not satisfactory.

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