Tag: ya fantasy

Tithe is just the beta version of the rest of Holly Black’s novels

Tithe is just the beta version of the rest of Holly Black’s novels

★★★★☆

(4 stars)

I’ve enjoyed Holly Black to pick up Tithe blind, and I have to say, it was puzzling at first. People swoon over Cruel Prince and Darkest Part, but Tithe and the other Modern Faerie Tales are the awkward teenager stage between those and her beginnings in children’s fiction. Tithe often feels like it was written by a teen who just realized they could do anything they wanted in a book- there’s a lot of swearing, smoking/drinking, and sexual content right off the bat. Still, there’s a lot of likable things in this book, and a lot of the time the grime felt authentic rather than needlessly dark.

What stood out to me most by the end, however, was that this book is pretty much the same book as Darkest Part Of The Forest, which Black published 13 years later. I read and reviewed Darkest a while ago, and found it fine but not too compelling. I liked Tithe more, and there’s enough differences I couldn’t call it self-plagiarism, but the many story elements and plot points are present in both.

Continue reading “Tithe is just the beta version of the rest of Holly Black’s novels”

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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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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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YA literature can do worse than The Beholder… so at least there’s that

YA literature can do worse than The Beholder… so at least there’s that

★★★☆☆

(3 stars)

This (The Beholder, Anna Bright) is not a book I would have ever picked up, but I got it in a book crate and felt I ought to give it a go. It’s…. well, it’s not very exciting, and there isn’t a ton to talk about. I don’t hate it or have much to dislike, and generally enjoyed reading it, but it’s also not very engaging (or plot focused). The world building is a wonderful idea, but the execution is at times head scratching.

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I know we wanted a Nikolai duology, but King of Scars isn’t it

I know we wanted a Nikolai duology, but King of Scars isn’t it

★★★☆☆

(3 stars)

King of Scars, for the uninitiated, is the latest in the ever growing Grishaverse- at this point three series and a short story collection, both linked and not. This is not a book you can read without familiarity to the world- both the original Shadow and Bone trilogy and at least the first book of Six of Crows. As the other two stood relatively separate, this book represents the first real crossover between the two different tone/writing series, and the first book to mark a real ‘epic fantasy saga’ stepstone in the Grishaverse. SaB and SoC both can stand without the other and wrap up their storylines, while this is far closer to a sequel: book 6 of the saga, if you will.

It’s written to have it’s own plot, but there’s few new characters or concepts, and the entire story, while with a degree of separation, is based on conflicts and plot points of the past. To someone with an imperfect memory of SaB and who only read the first SoC, I understood the plot points that came up- but only because of narrative reminders. This book is officially drenched in lore.

This is all my set up. Here’s my short before the proper review: King of Scars was one I was solidly looking forward too. I had a crush on Nikolai from the SaB trilogy, and I’m pretty sure I even wrote Bardugo a fan letter back in the day declaring Nikolai should forever remain single, so I had a chance of marrying him. Anyways. Fan favorite Nikolai is back in this duology, but he’s just a different person, the plot isn’t that centered on him, and the story jumps the shark entirely by the halfway point. This book is too long, with a messy story and some fraught character choices, but picks up by the end and still contains plenty of enjoyable moments and characters. It’s imperfect, and to a degree frustrating as someone who was looking forward to it quite a lot.

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To Kill A Kingdom is a classic example of the Dark YA genre- that doesn’t mean it isn’t great

To Kill A Kingdom is a classic example of the Dark YA genre- that doesn’t mean it isn’t great

★★★★★

(4.5 stars)

Honestly, this book always sounded really cool- I was still quite surprised to sincerely enjoy it. I don’t know, I seem to be a cynic when it comes to YA, especially the dark sub-set- writing analysis and studying it for University likely is one reason why. I even cited this book pre-reading when discussing cover and story tropes in the genre!

Yes, To Kill A Kingdom has it all in terms of what is ‘hot’: Difficult princes, dangerous leads, a spy/murdering main character, lots of royalty, a fairytale retelling, diversity, and a slight more ‘adult’ content than used to be the norm. However, none of those things- common tropes- are necessarily bad. They are just in right now. They are probably ‘in’ for a reason.

This book offers: good writing, characters, plot, romance, morality, and leads.

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