Tag: YA

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.

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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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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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Sweet Reckoning means Sweet Release from me having to read this horrifying series

Sweet Reckoning means Sweet Release from me having to read this horrifying series

☆☆☆☆☆

(0 stars)

Is ‘horrifying’ the right word? I typed ‘horrible’ at first, but then… this book, and the series as a whole, is so absurdly bad it sounds fake. How else can I discuss a book  with extreme christian themes and yet super horniness, where the bible saves the day, the love interest is a canonical child rapist, and panty-sniffing virginity-sensing demons are a key plot point?

There’s actually a fourth book, a companion to the trilogy from the viewpoint of the love interest, but right now I don’t have interest in reading it.

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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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