20-something student and avid reader, reading and reviewing anything and everything under the sun (although YA definitely dominates)
Ignite Me (Shatter Me #3) by Tahereh Mafi
Release Date: 14th February 2014
Publisher: Harper Collins
Summary from Goodreads:
"Juliette now knows she may be the only one who can stop the Reestablishment. But to take them down, she'll need the help of the one person she never thought she could trust: Warner. And as they work together, Juliette will discover that everything she thought she knew - about Warner, her abilities, and even Adam - was wrong."
Words cannot even begin to describe how I feel about this book. Whilst it may have had some issues, this was the most fitting end to a series that snuck up on me to become one of my fave series.
- Pros -
- Cons -
So whilst I had major issues with the lack of dystopia, I just loved the romance so much that it didn't end up bothering me all that much. There was still enough tension to get me flipping furiously through those pages. And even though the ending was a bit short for my liking, it still had my heart racing. This series overall was a treat to read, and I really think everyone ought to give it a try.
Vortex (Tempest #2) by Julie Cross
Release Date: January 15th 2013
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
This book was read as part of the 2014 RC and 2014 SSC
Summary from Goodreads:
"Jackson Meyer has thrown himself into his role as an agent for Tempest, the shadowy division of the CIA that handles all time-travel-related threats. Despite his heartbreak at losing the love of his life, Jackson has proved himself to be an excellent agent. However, after an accidental run in with Holly—the girl he altered history to save—Jackson is once again reminded of what he's lost. And when Eyewall, an opposing division of the CIA, emerges, Jackson and his fellow agents not only find themselves under attack, but Jackson begins to discover that the world around him has changed and someone knows about his erased relationship with Holly, putting both their lives at risk all over again."
** Spoiler Alert: Read at your own risk**
I'm currently finding it very hard to figure out my thoughts on this one, just because it's been weeks since I actually finished reading this. So I'm going to do something different - I'm going to try out a pros and cons list.
- Pros -
- Cons -
So overall, I really, really enjoyed this. Vortex impressed me in taking the story in a new direction, and voiding second book syndrome entirely. It's fast paced, full of action, and there's a bit of romance thrown in there, but it's completely different to the romance in Tempest.I'm excited to get my hands on Timestorm and finish this story, in what I'm sure is going to be a fitting finale.
Book Review: Cress (The Lunar Chronicles #3) by Marissa Meyer
Release Date: 4th February 2014
Publisher: Puffin Books
Summary from Goodreads:
"Rapunzel’s tower is a satellite. She can’t let down her hair—or her guard.
In this third book in the bestselling Lunar Chronicles series, Cinder and Captain Thorne are fugitives on the run, with Scarlet and Wolf in tow. Together, they’re plotting to overthrow Queen Levana and her army.
Their best hope lies with Cress, who has been trapped on a satellite since childhood with only her netscreens as company. All that screen time has made Cress an excellent hacker—unfortunately, she’s just received orders from Levana to track down Cinder and her handsome accomplice. When a daring rescue goes awry, the group is separated. Cress finally has her freedom, but it comes at a high price. Meanwhile, Queen Levana will let nothing stop her marriage to Emperor Kai. Cress, Scarlet, and Cinder may not have signed up to save the world, but they may be the only ones who can.
It wasn't my intention to post this review today, but after finishing this gem yesterday, I just had to get my feelings out there. Because OH MY GOD THIS SERIES. It's going to be one hell of a struggle to wait a year for the last instalment.
I can't believe what Meyer has managed to do with this series. Not only does she effortlessly and flawlessly work a fairytale into each novel, but she follows the overarching plot as well. You'd think that adding another main female protagonist (to add to Cinder and Scarlet) would be a few too many POVs, but somehow it works. The number of POVs in this novel is astronomical, and yet, it doesn't feel forced, or a pain, to read from each character's POV. I've had problems with multiple POVs in the past, just in that usually I prefer one POV over the other. But Meyer has created fascinating and interesting characters that this isn't a problem; I don't even mind jumping around POVs mid chapter, it's just written that well.
I don't want to start going in depth about the character's or the plot, because I feel I might wander into spoiler territory. I'll just say that during the final section (Cress was separated into four sections), my heart was pounding, I was frantically flipping through the pages, and I absolutely adored that ending. It's been a while since I've been so invested in a story and it's characters, to the point where even though I'm sure they'll be ok, I still worry for them throughout their escapade. It's been a while since a plot has kept me guessing, and thrown plot twists at me that I hadn't even considered. It's been a while since I've picked up a book and read over 150 pages in one sitting. This series right here is why I read YA, because when it's done right, it's just so damn good.
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
Release Date: 16th August 2011
Publisher: Arrow Books
Summary from Goodreads:
"It's the year 2044, and the real world is an ugly place.
Like most of humanity, Wade Watts escapes his grim surroundings by spending his waking hours jacked into the OASIS, a sprawling virtual utopia that lets you be anything you want to be, a place where you can live and play and fall in love on any of ten thousand planets.
And like most of humanity, Wade dreams of being the one to discover the ultimate lottery ticket that lies concealed within this virtual world. For somewhere inside this giant networked playground, OASIS creator James Halliday has hidden a series of fiendish puzzles that will yield massive fortune--and remarkable power--to whoever can unlock them.
For years, millions have struggled fruitlessly to attain this prize, knowing only that Halliday's riddles are based in the pop culture he loved--that of the late twentieth century. And for years, millions have found in this quest another means of escape, retreating into happy, obsessive study of Halliday's icons. Like many of his contemporaries, Wade is as comfortable debating the finer points of John Hughes's oeuvre, playing Pac-Man, or reciting Devo lyrics as he is scrounging power to run his OASIS rig.
And then Wade stumbles upon the first puzzle.
Suddenly the whole world is watching, and thousands of competitors join the hunt--among them certain powerful players who are willing to commit very real murder to beat Wade to this prize. Now the only way for Wade to survive and preserve everything he knows is to win. But to do so, he may have to leave behind his oh-so-perfect virtual existence and face up to life--and love--in the real world he's always been so desperate to escape.
A world at stake.
A quest for the ultimate prize. Are you ready?"
Looking back at my notes after I finished reading this, I've mostly just written three lines which boil down to 'I thought this was good'. So this review isn't going to delve into characters, or the plot, or the normal things you see in a review. Instead I'm just going to focus on the main points that stood out to me. Don't get me wrong, I loved the characters, the setting, the plot, and all that jazz, but these are the main points that really stood out to me.
I like to think that I read a fair bit of sci-fi, but most of that revolves around time travel, not the world wide web, so this is my first experience reading sci-fi involving virtual reality. And I have to say, I think Cline did a very good job at it. Not only did we delve into the amazingness that would be the OASIS, and massive virtual world with anything and everything you could possibly imagine, but this was balanced against a grim view of a real world that was slowly, but surely, declining. Just when you experience something amazing in the OASIS, in the next scene you see our protagonist Wade's daily ritual, where he wakes up, showers, eats, and then jacks himself up to the OASIS for hours upon hours of gameplay. The decline of the real world has gotten to the point where Wade doesn't even leave his room anymore, it's just not worth it. Why bother when you can spend your time in a virtual reality. In fact, spend so much time in the world of the OASIS that it become's your reality, and you just leave the real world behind. It's kinda sad really. But I liked that Cline managed to weigh these two realities fairly. Just showing us the OASIS itself wouldn't have been enough to actually depict how important the OASIS is, how important it is that the gunter's find Halliday's egg and not The Sixer's. It wouldn't have made much sense without the context, so I appreciate that.
And while we're on this point, let's not forget about that ending. After the OASIS being Wade's entire life for years, after meeting Art3mis in person, he has no desire to return to that world. And I think that's a very powerful message. You could be rich and famous in an online world, but it can't bring you the sort of happiness that real, true connections do. When it comes down to it, the real world trumps virtual reality.
Moving on, I really enjoyed the 80's trivia as well, even if I didn't understand much of it given that I'm a 90's kid. It was an amusing touch that I think gave some heart to the story - Halliday really wanted the OASIS to fall into the right hands, and I think that reflected in his puzzles. They all revolved around the time in his life that he was just an optimistic young lad with a love for computing, before all the money and before he invented the OASIS. Plus it was fun and super hard to try to figure out the puzzles, since I have little to no 80's trivia knowledge, but once it was spelled out for me, it all made sense. It was fun to follow along with the hunt myself and see if I could figure anything out.
These were the two things that stood out to me the most; an important message about the negative effects of virtual reality and what happens when it gets out of hand, but also the fun 80's trivia I learnt whilst completely the hunt. Mixing an important message with the fun, light side worked well for the novel, and I really wish this were a part of some series, just so that I could revisit that world. I'll have to settle for second best, and will have to check out Cline's other novels.
The Maze Runner (Maze Runner #1) by James Dashner
Release Date: 6th October 2009
Publisher: Random House
Summary from Goodreads:
"When Thomas wakes up in the lift, the only thing he can remember is his first name. His memory is blank. But he's not alone. When the lift's doors open, Thomas finds himself surrounded by kids who welcome him to the Glade-a large, open expanse surrounded by stone walls.
Just like Thomas, the Gladers don't know why or how they got to the Glade. All they know is that every morning the stone doors to the maze that surrounds them have opened. Every night they've closed tight. And every 30 days a new boy has been delivered in the lift.
Thomas was expected. But the next day, a girl is sent up-the first girl to ever arrive in the Glade. And more surprising yet is the message she delivers. Thomas might be more important than he could ever guess. If only he could unlock the dark secrets buried within his mind."
Ever since I became aware that this was being turned into a movie, to be released later this year, well, I just had to read it. And may I say, I'm looking forward to seeing the movie now, because I quite enjoyed this.
I was a bit apprehensive going into this because back in the day, this used to be on the required reading list for many highschoolers in my area. I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with required reading - I always found that of the 5 or so books I was given to read for English class, there was only ever 1 I actually enjoyed reading, and there was at least one I loathed. So knowing this was required reading for some firming pushed this off my radar, until I started blogging and saw the love the blogosphere had for this series. And I'm glad to say that it's well deserved.
I'm struggling majorly right now to pinpoint exactly what it was that I enjoyed about this novel. I liked the plot and setting, which were sound, albeit a little predictable. I think we all knew that the maze was unsolvable, and I wasn't at all surprised that they'd have to escape through the Griever hole thingymabob. Up until the last couple of chapters, everything plodded along how I expected it to, in an interesting and enthralling way. Even though I thought I knew what was going to happen, it was still enjoyable to read, probably because I was so damn curious about those Creators and what Tom and Teresa had to do with it all. All those mysteries, they can't help but draw you in.
I think what ultimately sold me on this was the last couple of chapters, because that's when things started happening that you weren't expecting. First off, Gally reappears, to test just one last variable, which results in CHUCK DYING. WHY?!? I am so curious to find out what they were actually testing there, although I'm expecting it has something to do with Tom. And then we hit that epilogue. That epilogue man, it's so damn creepy. Just when I was starting to fall into the trap of thinking that they actually had been rescued, they throw that at me, and I realise just how crazy the whole things actually is; how they're using and manipulating children to find a way to solve their problem. I don't know why exactly I didn't realise that earlier. But, damn, that epilogue.
Overall, I'd recommend it.
Unhinged (Splintered #2) by A.G Howard
Release Date: 1st January 2014
Publisher: Amulet Books
Summary from Goodreads:
"Alyssa Gardner has been down the rabbit hole and faced the bandersnatch. She saved the life of Jeb, the guy she loves, and escaped the machinations of the disturbingly seductive Morpheus and the vindictive Queen Red. Now all she has to do is graduate high school and make it through prom so she can attend the prestigious art school in London she's always dreamed of.
That would be easier without her mother, freshly released from an asylum, acting overly protective and suspicious. And it would be much simpler if the mysterious Morpheus didn’t show up for school one day to tempt her with another dangerous quest in the dark, challenging Wonderland—where she (partly) belongs.
As prom and graduation creep closer, Alyssa juggles Morpheus’s unsettling presence in her real world with trying to tell Jeb the truth about a past he’s forgotten. Glimpses of Wonderland start to bleed through her art and into her world in very disturbing ways, and Morpheus warns that Queen Red won’t be far behind.
If Alyssa stays in the human realm, she could endanger Jeb, her parents, and everyone she loves. But if she steps through the rabbit hole again, she'll face a deadly battle that could cost more than just her head. "
Do I really need to even write this review. Just, go read the book. Or if you haven't read its predecessor Splintered yet, go read that first, then read this novel. Because, like, you really need to. It's just that good.
I think what's great about this follow up to Howard's amazing debut is that it's not entirely what you'd expect it to be. Whilst Splintered was predominantly set in the twisted world of Wonderland, we spend the majority of this one in the human world. But don't worry about missing the creepiness of Wonderland, because that manages to follow Alyssa into the real world too; from her mosaics to Sister Two herself, this time, the battle is fought on Alyssa's turf. Even Morpheus is there, doing questionable things, but ultimately doing it all for Alyssa. What's great about Morpheus in this novel is that we get to see a different side to him, something softer. He's still manipulative as all hell, but another side of him is starting to peek through. With this extra attention on Morpheus, Alyssa's other love interest, Jeb, does get pushed to the back a little. But he's there just enough that a love triangle is firmly established, and really, Alyssa could choose either one of them.
Now let's move onto Alyssa's mother Alison, because man o' man, everything revolving her little story arc was just plain amazing. When Alyssa discovered one of her mosaic's depicted three Red Queens dueling for the crown, I was sure the twist would be that Alison was going to try to steal the crown for herself. But then NOPE, actually it was something completely different, something I totally wasn't expecting, because it had to do with Alyssa's DAD. Because, of course, he's somehow involved in this all too. Which is actually handy, considering that massive cliffhanger ending. Lord, it's going to be tough waiting for the final instalment in this trilogy.
Overall, just go and read this series. Just do it.
Pivot Point (Pivot Point #1) by Kasie West
Release Date: 12th February 2013
Publisher: Harper Collins
Summary from Goodreads:
"Knowing the outcome doesn’t always make a choice easier . . .
Addison Coleman’s life is one big “What if?” As a Searcher, whenever Addie is faced with a choice, she can look into the future and see both outcomes. It’s the ultimate insurance plan against disaster. Or so she thought. When Addie’s parents ambush her with the news of their divorce, she has to pick who she wants to live with—her father, who is leaving the paranormal compound to live among the “Norms,” or her mother, who is staying in the life Addie has always known. Addie loves her life just as it is, so her answer should be easy. One Search six weeks into the future proves it’s not.
In one potential future, Addie is adjusting to life outside the Compound as the new girl in a Norm high school where she meets Trevor, a cute, sensitive artist who understands her. In the other path, Addie is being pursued by the hottest guy in school—but she never wanted to be a quarterback’s girlfriend. When Addie’s father is asked to consult on a murder in the Compound, she’s unwittingly drawn into a dangerous game that threatens everything she holds dear. With love and loss in both lives, it all comes down to which reality she’s willing to live through . . . and who she can’t live without."
Overall, I thought this was a solid read. The story is something I've never come across before - our protagonist, Addie, has the ability to see into her future when presented with a choice. She can see both outcomes clearly, in fact, she feels like she's living both outcomes, so when she returns from her 'searches', as she so calls them, she has to live through whichever path she chooses, without having the ability to change anything, whilst still remembering the other path. And so, on one horrible day when her parents sit her down to tell her of their divorce, and her need to choose which parent to live with, she thinks nothing of doing a quick search into her future. And that's when things get interesting.
In essence, we read through two whole story lines. In one, Addie stays with her mother and starts to be pursued by Duke, the most popular guy in school, and in the other, she travels outside The Compound with her father, and develops the cutest romance with all-round-nice-guy Trevor. And that's one aspect that I love about this book. We basically have two story lines we alternate between, never quite sure which one Addie will actually live through. And what with a big ol' mystery unfolding in both paths, its interesting to try to piece the mystery together with information from both realities.
But, there is a problem with this. Even though I loved the story and the idea behind it, with the whole seeing into your future, I just couldn't shake the feeling that none of it seemed real. It was like when you watch a dramatic TV episode only to have the main characters wake up at the end realising it was only just a dream. I understand that for Addie, even though she only lives through one of her chosen paths, both feel completely real for her, but I just couldn't get the whole it's only but a dream idea out of my head. In the end, she only lives through one storyline, and it's not even the one that includes Trevor. She lives through the shitty one where the guy uses her for her abilities. After moving outside The Compound with her father, immersing herself into the strange new world of the Norms, coming to learn that there's nothing wrong with Norms, and maybe having 'superpowers' ain't so great anyway; after all that character growth she went through, it all just gets erased. She never lived through it, and not only that, she doesn't even remember it. And I hate that.
But putting that aside, this was a very enjoyable books. Reading through both story line was fascinating, and I loved how it gave us a very whole picture of Addie. Seeing her grow in both environments gives us a more complete view of her characters, something we wouldn't see if we only saw one reality. And Trevor, one of my fave characters in the book. The way he was with Addie, how he made her feel and learn to accept Norms as nothing different, was really quite great, and did a lot for Addie's character growth. And on top of that, when everything with Layla went down, he told Addie not to choose the path with her father, not to choose the path with him, which speaks volumes about his character. So much better for Addie than Duke. I just hope they're able to sort everything out with Addie and Trevor in Split Second, because it really would be a shame if they didn't.
TL;DR This was a very enjoyable book that I would definitely recommend.
Awaken (Abandon Trilogy #3) by Meg Cabot
Release Date: 7th May 2013
Summary from Goodreads:
"Death has her in his clutches. She doesn’t want him to let go.
Seventeen-year-old Pierce Oliviera knew by accepting the love of John Hayden, she’d be forced to live forever in the one place she’s always dreaded most: the Underworld. The sacrifice seemed worth it, though, because it meant she could be with the boy she loves.
But now her happiness — and safety — are threatened, all because the Furies have discovered that John has broken one of their strictest rules: He revived a human soul.
If the balance between life and death isn’t fixed, both the Underworld and Pierce’s home back on earth will be wiped away. But there’s only one way to restore order. Someone has to die."
Overall, this was a solid end to a series that I was starting to worry about. After that infuriating second novel, I was worried our third and final addition to this trilogy would be similar. But, thankfully, we returned to what I loved about Abandon (mostly).
If you read my review of Underworld, you'll know that I had some major problems with Pierce. She just acted so stupid sometimes, and she couldn't seem to get by without John glued to her side. Thankfully that stopped. Whilst she may have been forced to deal with things without John, Pierce still managed to do quite well, so when John did return, she didn't return to the annoying girl she was in Underworld. And whilst John is still fiercely protective of Pierce, I don't remember him manipulating her as much as he has in previous novels. Then again, this could be because he was gone for a while and he actually wasn't able to, but I like to look on the positive side and see it as character growth.
Overall I enjoyed the plot. Lots of questions were answered, everything was resolved, John and Pierce are in a good place. Honestly, I can't actually remember specifically what happened, which probably is an indication of how memorable this book is. What I do remember were the major conveniences. Like the whole thing with Alex - majorly convenient. But lets not get into that, because that would lead to spoilers.
So, my final thoughts? I enjoyed it. I thought it was a fitting end to a series that had started to go downhill - much, much better than the second novel.
Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
Release Date: 12th April 2012
Publisher: Orion Books
Summary from Goodreads:
"Set over the course of one school year in 1986, Eleanor and Park is the story of two star-crossed misfits - smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try. When Eleanor meets Park, you'll remember you own first love - and just how hard it pulled you under."
Overall, I enjoyed this, but I don't think it lived up to all the hype.
So what did I like? Well, I thought the romance was super cute. I caught myself stupidly grinning to myself after reading something because it was just so. damn. cute. And I liked Eleanor's story. It's not something I've read a lot of, and it was interesting to juxtapose Eleanor's life with Park's. And also super cute that they found that connection, in spite of their different backgrounds. And I thought the ending was very fitting - bittersweet, maybe not what people wanted, but it fit with the story.
So what didn't I like? Well, the romance felt a little instalovey to me. Eleanor and Park hardly knew each other before they were declaring full blown love (well, at least one of them was). They basically started a relationship before they even started talking to one another. It just didn't feel like a natural progression. And on top of that, I was waiting for this OMG moment, which I assumed would happen because everyone raves about this book. And I think I know which moment that was supposed to be, but it wasn't an OMG moment for me. It was completely reasonable and not entirely surprising. Sad, yes, but surprising, no.
Overall, I enjoyed this, but not as much as I thought I would. I enjoyed the plot and the dual perspective. But, everything was pulled down by the instalovey relationship that the story was centred on.
I compiled a list of my favourite reads in 2013 over on my main blog - check it out if you're interested in YA!
Merry Christmas - nothing says Christmas wishes like make-out scenes with hot book boyfriends...