Tag: Book Review

I’m not sure what Indigara is or quite what I just read

I’m not sure what Indigara is or quite what I just read

★★★☆☆

(3 ‘huh?!’ stars)

You might assume by my bewilderment, the title, and the star rating this is a particularly surreal book. It isn’t. It’s not the weirdest thing I’ve read by a long shot. It’s just… inexplicable in the wrong ways. The sort of boring ways.

Indigara is… something. What brings me to my head-scratching rating is that I can’t quite parse the end of it- the ending offers no ‘wrap up’ to anything in the story. It’s unclear if there is a message or thesis to the tale, despite having an otherwise simple plot arc. This is a middle grade book and a portal fantasy, ultimately, yet the ending is confusingly downtrodden. I can’t figure what the point of this book is.

Yes, you can argue many books do not have a ‘point’ or ‘thesis’ or whatever nonsense I’m rambling about, but there’s usually more of an end to them, a sort of conclusion. Hell knows what this book is saying. If you don’t take your robot dog for routine maintenance it will dream of adventure? It’s not creepy for 16 year olds to date 50 year olds? Your life will be full of disappointment and missed opportunities, deal with it?

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Awaken is like waking from one of those dreams you instantly forget

Awaken is like waking from one of those dreams you instantly forget

★★☆☆☆

(1.5 stars)

I have a small confession to make: I went on vacation the day after finishing this book, and am only writing this review now. While I take a few notes, much of my reviewing is done on pure inertia, and in the last two weeks I’ve forgotten almost every detail of this book.

Rather than chide my memory, I’m going to make a point: Awaken is such a non-event I’m not confident there was anything for me to remember in the first place. Book three of a trilogy, it delivers on the typical era thoroughfare- a long fight at the end, happy ever after endings, obligatory promise of marriage and children- and contains little else. There’s a bit about a Greek god possessing a family line and how his give away is based on polo shirts, but that’s about it.

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Underworld: Incredibly abusive romance and absolutely nothing else

Underworld: Incredibly abusive romance and absolutely nothing else

☆☆☆☆☆

(0 stars)

It’s been a while since I read Abandon, the first book in this afterlife para-romance vaguely based on the Hades/Persephone myth. At the time my library didn’t have either of the next two books, and I was happy to move on from the series. While I actually gave Abandon a high rating (3 stars), that was mostly because Meg Cabot is a strong writer of teen contemporary, and I enjoyed her style enough that the troubling aspects of the romance weren’t so bad.

That changes, hard left, in this book. For one, it’s a slog to wade through, with almost nothing happening and a climax so poorly defined… well, I’m not sure it counts as a climax. Cabot had me feeling for the characters last time, and the strong voice of the narrator, but this book is absent of humor or heart. It is a heartless, boring story of false information, lying, unsubstantiated threats, and bewildering magic.

Perhaps the largest threat to the sanctity of my sanity (and this book having any redeeming factors) is the romance. I’ve read through quite a lot of bad romances in my time in the 2010s para-ro bubble, but John takes the cake of creeps. He displays in this book inhumane levels of skeevy, controlling behavior- from shouting to lying to manipulating Pierce into thinking she’s in the wrong. This is textbook one of the most abusive relationships I’ve ever seen being treated like it’s okay.

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Song of the Night is a slop of yaoi desperately wishing to be more

Song of the Night is a slop of yaoi desperately wishing to be more

☆☆☆☆☆

0 stars

This book is officially the SECOND worst book I’ve ever read (thanks Tridea’s Children!), but honestly that’s a barely. I feel like I’ve just been stamping my brain through a meat grinder trying to read it. I don’t even remember how I found this. Perhaps like Tridea’s Children it manifested in my home, and it is just my yearly destiny to test my faith in indie publishing by reading a catastrophe such as this.

What is this book? Well, it’s every yaoi you ever saw online circa 2010, but it was published in 2019. I use yaoi very deliberately, as that is what this book is: it’s not gay romance, it’s not lgbt, it’s bad yaoi where everyone has too large hands and anime chins. It’s a romance around the small, fragile, feminine, pale (So So Pale) beauty of a young ‘boy’ and a strong ‘man’. Yes, it’s one of those MANxBOY (DON’T LIKE:DON’T READ)(LEMON/LIME WARNING XD) stories. I can’t fable how this exists in the modern age, in a physical book I can hold in my own hands.

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The Fandom Rising completes an excellent duology you’ve been missing out on

The Fandom Rising completes an excellent duology you’ve been missing out on

★★★★☆

(4.5 stars)

Back when I read The Fandom in February, I was genuinely surprised how engaging it was: a dark thriller based on fandom meta and dystopias. I was also intrigued to learn there would be a sequel at all. It feels very much like a one-off story- three friends who are brought into the world of a popular dystopian YA series which has become ‘real’ by the collective belief of the fandom around it, and how they must escape from the cruel reality of this once fictitious world.

At the end of The Fandom, Violet, Alice, and Katie awake from the week long coma they entered while they were transported to the world of The Gallows Dance, though Violet’s brother died in that world, trapping him in a coma. Violet and Alice have collaborated to write a sequel to The Gallows Dance- The Gallows Song- which was published by the publicity of their comic-con coma incident and Alice’s huge online following with her fanfic. Though none of the girls remember what actually happened while they were in their comas, they felt obliged to end the cycle of misery the world of the Gallows Dance was trapped in, writing a sequel full of hope and change- as well as writing Nate in as a new character.

However, trouble is coming to the living world of the Gallows Dance, allowing Violet to regain her memories. She also realizes that as Nate exists as a book character, he lives in the other world- and traveling back there might be her only chance to wake her brother from his year long coma. Especially now that their parents plan to turn off his life support in just a week.

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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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