Tag: book

A strong start can’t shake the letdown that is Crown of Coral and Pearl

A strong start can’t shake the letdown that is Crown of Coral and Pearl

(2.5 stars)

I received this book as an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Even the tagline of this book is at war with it’s concept: Steal the crown, save the kingdom. Dramatic, bold, and entirely unrelated to both the pitch and actual plot.

This was a book I asked for and was semi-surprised I’d received. It sounded interesting and the cover was gorgeous, but I didn’t know what I was stepping into. The pitch is fantastic, and at first I thought I was getting into a solid 5, or 4.5, star book: the first 100 pages are slow moving, but also have fantastic writing, emotional beats, and story elements. Then the rest of the book happens.

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The Kingdom: A fantastical, dystopic, nightmare

The Kingdom: A fantastical, dystopic, nightmare

★★★★★

(5 stars)

I very rarely buy physical copies of books. New, at least- one reason for my spurges of bad YA recently has been because those are the easiest books to find thrift. Good books, especially new good books, rarely show up in charity shops. However, I went ahead and paid full price for The Kingdom without reading any reviews, and I’m glad I did.

I knew I would like this, but that doesn’t mean I wasn’t pleasantly surprised how much I did. My favorite movie is Ex Machina, and one of my favorite books is Only Ever Yours, and this book is a perfect blend of both, but also set in a theme park. And books set in theme parks are the best books.

Plainly, I would recommend this book to anyone (and already have). It’s a good length suspense about the meaning of being alive, AI, morality, and advanced technologies, and the only major downside to me was the ending, which seems to set up more for a possible sequel rather than embrace a clean, tidy ending.

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Abandon represents a fun- yet troubling- genre mix-up

Abandon represents a fun- yet troubling- genre mix-up

★★★☆☆

(3 stars)

The author of the book is for once very important to this review: Meg Cabot! I’ve never read anything by her, but I know the name, and realizing she’d written this generic-looking para-ro book gave me pause. She wrote the Princess Diaries, a series which became a movie which I have seen heaps of nostalgia for and love. Without ever touching any of her contemporary teen-tween girl books I knew she was known for humor, lightness, fun, and quirky narration.

So what was she doing writing Abandon? This book screams para-ro boom of the early 2010s, from design to title to plot, yet is met in the middle by Cabot’s signature style. In the mix of an ugly love interest and his fairly abusive actions is genuinely funny dialogue. Despite the insta-love romance, there are bits of satisfying, true emotional moments regarding coming of age and being a teen girl. Even with the confusing, cartoon-ish bits, there’s real wit and good writing shining through.

Like, maybe I just liked this because I’d just finished a particularly bad quartet, but the writing is so good I found myself not caring as much as I should have about how bad the romance was. I liked the voice too much. Plus, it’s a short and snappy read.

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In a past life, maybe Rapture was an okay standalone novel

In a past life, maybe Rapture was an okay standalone novel

★★☆☆☆

(2 stars)

Rapture actually has a lot of things going for it: lovely descriptions, vivid images of international locations, interesting angel lore, neat magical concepts, and a few raised and slightly discussed deeper themes. The problem is that all of these positives are beaten over the head with the fact this is book four, and the final book in a quartet, of an extremely uneven series.

The Fallen quartet is perhaps the most diverse series I’ve read in that every book is decidedly a different genre and story-type to the next, as if the author had a checklist of things she wanted to try and decided to use the same paper thin characters to act each one out.

So, while I enjoyed some aspects of this too-long book, it was always hampered down by the fact it was the last book, and thus needed to provide a conclusion and tie-in to the ones before it. The treasure hunt for ancient angelic relics to solve a mystery about the fall is a fine idea and easily could have been the plot of a different, better novel, which didn’t also have to weave in a whole ton of characters, revelations, and confusing reincarnation gimmicks in as well.

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Can we go back in time and ensure Passion is never written?

Can we go back in time and ensure Passion is never written?

★★☆☆☆

(2 stars)

Frankly, it’s unclear why this book exists.

The Fallen series is a quartet, slightly unusual for an era of para-ro trilogies. Typically this genre of book from the early 2010s has a very formulaic pattern: in book one they meet, fall in love, and learn the supernatural elements. In book two not much happens (this is the worst book of the series). Book three is some apocalyptic showdown event.

Maybe it’s good Fallen drove to break ties to that, offering seemingly an entirely different subgenre for each book: book 1 was incredibly boring romance, book 2 was fun adventure, book 3 is time travel, and book 4 is a fetch quest. Still, narrative wise, Passion does not need to exist. This is a book about time travel. Exclusively about time travel.

Ultimately, I can’t fault much concrete grit: the writing is fine, the settings are diverse and have been researched, there’s some degree of character and world building… but from a story arc point of view, this book could have easily been a chapter or two. It did not need to be over three hundred pages of, broader story speaking, nothing.

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Torment offers a glimpse of a far better series

Torment offers a glimpse of a far better series

★★★☆☆

(3 stars)

Even I’m scratching my head at this rating, folks. The second Fallen book is actually kind of decent. I enjoyed it. It made me want to keep reading the series, when I was sure I only picked it up to get lore missing from book one and put the story down forever. But no, I anticipate I’ll be reading the rest of the quartet now.

What did it? Well, this book took the good elements of the first book (few and far between, but: good friends, supernatural elements) and added a couple things really up my alley. For one, it takes place at a small school for nephilhim, who have only weak magical powers but still get weird lessons on biblical history and controlling shadows, all in preparation for the ‘end of days’. To avoid favoritism, the school is taught from a neutral point of view, with the two teachers being an awesome married couple of an angel/demon who never the less plan to fight to the death in the apocalypse. This is a really fun concept. It’s also nearly the exact set up of a book I wrote, Good Angel, so you know… it’s a concept I’m into.

Also, there’s a lot of deeper introspection from Luce, who starts to think about her relationship with Daniel and all the Unfortunate Implications that go with it. Especially that, since she’s reborn and dies every 17 years, she has a series of relatives and parents who are left grieving her. Daniel is essentially the world’s most specialized serial killer, and it’d good how she comes to resent and grow angry at the bad power structure they have.

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Fallen is a puzzling, prime example of poor YA

Fallen is a puzzling, prime example of poor YA

★☆☆☆☆

(.5 stars)

If you’re new to this blog, or need a reminder, I’m drawn to the following in books:

  1. Angels/Demons
  2. YA from around the early 2010s at the height of the paranormal boom
  3. Bad YA (from around that era, quite often)

I’d actually, however, avoided picking up Fallen for a long time. It’s really, really easy to find in thrift shops and even libraries, and ticks all of the above boxes. However, I never grabbed it because… well, I’d already read it back in 2012. I hit it down as ‘DNF’ because it was boring. I think I got 100 pages in, but on reading the full thing here, I couldn’t tell you where I last stopped- the first 100 pages of this book is exactly the same as the next 350 pages, and it all blends together in a cacophony of bad.

I read it this time in two sittings while at work because I’m an adult now, but this is an extremely frustrating book to contend with. The supernatural revelation takes place 77% through the book, and even then the reader gets very few answers on anything that happened. This is a thick book of absolutely nothing but school life, and I wouldn’t even be able to parse some of the ‘lore’ and ‘story’ if not for the really bad movie made from this which somehow does a far better job delivering exposition.

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