Mon, January 19, 2015

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard Review

Red Queen book cover

Red Queen book cover

Red Queen
By Victoria Aveyard
Publication date: Feb. 10, 2015
Orion, 320 pages
Source: Publisher

The poverty stricken Reds are commoners, living under the rule of the Silvers, elite warriors with god-like powers.

To Mare Barrow, a 17-year-old Red girl from The Stilts, it looks like nothing will ever change.

Mare finds herself working in the Silver Palace, at the centre of those she hates the most. She quickly discovers that, despite her red blood, she possesses a deadly power of her own. One that threatens to destroy Silver control.

But power is a dangerous game. And in this world divided by blood, who will win?

— Goodreads.com description

This dystopian/fantasy mix was a bit formulaic, but still quite enjoyable.

Things I enjoyed: Betrayal! I think it’s fun when you don’t know which characters to trust. And I liked how the book got me thinking about some ethical dilemmas — how far is too far? If it’ll help you stop the bad guys, is it okay to torture? To kill?

Interesting stuff.

I also liked the superpowers — very X-Men/Shatter Me.

But, some issues I had: It involves the type of love triangle that, as I wrote in my notes, “grosses you out and you hate but you also sorta get.” Know what I mean? Sigh.

I also didn’t love the book’s title — Red Queen. It misled me into assuming certain things would happen plot-wise, and I kept waiting and waiting, but no dice. And a few plot points (like quickie, too-good-to-be-true disguises) were too far-fetched.

Let’s put it this way: It’s totally readable…but if we were in the bookstore together, I would probably tell you you’re better off reading The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski if you’re in the mood for something like this. (Read my review)

Anna Reads young adult book blog

Posted by: Anna   •   In: dystopian, fantasy, victoria aveyard
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Fri, October 3, 2014

Atlantia by Ally Condie Review

Atlantia book cover

Atlantia book cover

Atlantia
By Ally Condie
Publication date: Oct. 28, 2014
Dutton Children’s, 368 pages
Source: Publisher

Can you hear Atlantia breathing?

For as long as she can remember, Rio has dreamt of the sand and sky Above—of life beyond her underwater city of Atlantia. But in a single moment, all her plans for the future are thwarted when her twin sister, Bay, makes an unexpected decision, stranding Rio Below. Alone, ripped away from the last person who knew Rio’s true self—and the powerful siren voice she has long hidden—she has nothing left to lose.

Guided by a dangerous and unlikely mentor, Rio formulates a plan that leads to increasingly treacherous questions about her mother’s death, her own destiny, and the complex system constructed to govern the divide between land and sea. Her life and her city depend on Rio to listen to the voices of the past and to speak long-hidden truths.

— Goodreads.com description

Ooh! BETRAYAL!

Atlantia, the latest from the author of the Matched series, kicks off with a heavy dose of it when Rio’s twin sister, Bay, unexpectedly chooses to live in the Above (on land), separating them forever.

You see, Rio lives Below aka below land aka an underwater city aka MY CHILDHOOD DREAM. If you only knew how often I daydreamed about this as a kid…

Anyway, immediately you want to dig into this book and uncover all of the secrets of the Below and of Rio’s family, which was a great feeling.

I also adored how Rio’s loneliness really matched the setting’s deep, dark depths — there was a really cool sense of pressure as you read. Oh, and there’s witches and romance and lots of other good stuff.

And another nice thing about this is that it’s NOT a series (at least, as far as I can tell). I know, what? Who does that these days?

On the downside…it’s not a series. By that, I mean it was wrapped up a little too quickly and with too much prothletising and “here is the moral” for my tastes.

Overall, though, I thought it was creative and a good read. And, in the end, I am sooo #TeamAbove. An underwater city is awesome, sure, but ewwwww sea creatures and dampness. No, thank you. Blech.

Anna Reads young adult book blog

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Posted by: Anna   •   In: ally condie, dystopian, family, romance
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Thu, September 4, 2014

The Jewel by Amy Ewing Review

The Jewel book cover

The Jewel book cover

The Jewel
By Amy Ewing
Publication date: Sept. 2, 2014
HarperTeen, 358 pages
Source: Publisher

The Jewel means wealth. The Jewel means beauty. The Jewel means royalty. But for girls like Violet, the Jewel means servitude. Not just any kind of servitude. Violet, born and raised in the Marsh, has been trained as a surrogate for the royalty—because in the Jewel the only thing more important than opulence is offspring.

Purchased at the surrogacy auction by the Duchess of the Lake and greeted with a slap to the face, Violet (now known only as #197) quickly learns of the brutal truths that lie beneath the Jewel’s glittering facade: the cruelty, backstabbing, and hidden violence that have become the royal way of life.

Violet must accept the ugly realities of her existence… and try to stay alive. But then a forbidden romance erupts between Violet and a handsome gentleman hired as a companion to the Duchess’s petulant niece. Though his presence makes life in the Jewel a bit brighter, the consequences of their illicit relationship will cost them both more than they bargained for.

— Goodreads.com description

BOOK MATH! The Jewel = The Winner’s Curse (slavery) + Eve (girls forced into surrogacy) + The Selection (really wonky social classes).

Things sort of evened out for me on The Jewel in terms of things I liked I things I didn’t. Let’s break it down…

Things I liked:
– Forbidden loooove
– Annabelle and Raven are AMAZING female friends to Violet

Things I didn’t like:
– Instalove
– Too many evil people! So depressing and scary!

The tie-breaker? A big-ole cliffie that recaptured my interest! Which I think pushed me over to the side of “liked it.” What about you? Do you like any of the books in my “book math”? Will you read this one?

Anna Reads young adult book blog

Posted by: Anna   •   In: amy ewing, dystopian, friendship, romance
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Thu, July 31, 2014

The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen Review

The Queen of the Tearling book cover

The Queen of the Tearling book cover

The Queen of the Tearling
By Erika Johansen
Publication date: July 17, 2014
Bantam Press, 380 pages
Source: Publisher

Kelsea Glynn is the sole heir to the throne of Tearling but has been raised in secret by foster parents after her mother – Queen Elyssa, as vain as she was stupid – was murdered for ruining her kingdom. For 18 years, the Tearling has been ruled by Kelsea’s uncle in the role of Regent however he is but the debauched puppet of the Red Queen, the sorceress-tyrant of neighbouring realm of Mortmesme. On Kelsea’s 19th birthday, the tattered remnants of her mother’s guard – each pledged to defend the queen to the death – arrive to bring this most un-regal young woman out of hiding…

And so begins her journey back to her kingdom’s heart, to claim the throne, earn the loyalty of her people, overturn her mother’s legacy and redeem the Tearling from the forces of corruption and dark magic that are threatening to destroy it. But Kelsea’s story is not just about her learning the true nature of her inheritance – it’s about a heroine who must learn to acknowledge and live with the realities of coming of age in all its insecurities and attractions, alongside the ethical dilemmas of ruling justly and fairly while simply trying to stay alive…

— Goodreads.com description

I read The Queen of the Tearling thinking it was a YA fantasy, but I’d actually classify it as more adult. No, not because of ADULT SUBJECT MATTER. Moreso because, well, besides a very grownup 19-year-old main character, there aren’t any young adults in it.

But, no fear: It has plenty of YA appeal, especially when you consider that it’s being made into a moving starring YA fave Emma Watson.

Fantasy-wise, it’s a fantasy-lovers’ fantasy. It’s not super approachable to someone new to the genre, but big-time fantasy readers will appreciate how Johansen slowly unfurls her world before us, leaving a lot of questions unanswered and the readers quite eager for some more.

My big critique is that I’d have loved more insight into the timing of this story. It’s some sort of dystopian fantasy: set in a future world that has reverted back to medieval times. It is never clear that it is set in the future, so references to the ancient works of J.K. Rowling seem soooo out of place. It was more off-putting than intriguing as a result.

Oh, and it could have used some more romance. And the magic stuff confused the heck out of me.

But I’m still all in on the assumption that the kissing and explanations are coming down the line. We shall see! Loved the moral fortitude and strength of the main character, LOVED Lazarus, and am super intrigued by The Fetch…so I can’t wait for more!

Anna Reads young adult book blog

Bonus factor: This is one of the most gorgeous physical books I’ve read in ages — a beautiful cover, beveled edging and a red ribbon bookmark. So classic and lovely I couldn’t help but pet it!

Posted by: Anna   •   In: dystopian, erika johansen, fantasy
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Wed, January 22, 2014

Into the Still Blue by Veronica Rossi Review

Into the Still Blue book cover

Into the Still Blue book cover

Into the Still Blue (Under the Never Sky #3)
By Veronica Rossi
Publication date: Jan. 28, 2014
HarperCollins, 400 pages
Source: Publisher

The earth-shattering conclusion to Veronica Rossi’s “masterpiece” Under the Never Sky trilogy and sequel to the New York Times bestselling Through the Ever Night (Examiner.com).

Their love and their leadership have been tested. Now it’s time for Perry and Aria to unite the Dwellers and the Outsiders in one last desperate attempt to bring balance to their world.

The race to the Still Blue has reached a stalemate. Aria and Perry are determined to find this last safe-haven from the Aether storms before Sable and Hess do-and they are just as determined to stay together.

Meanwhile, time is running out to rescue Cinder, who was abducted by Hess and Sable for his unique abilities. And when Roar returns to camp, he is so furious with Perry that he won’t even look at him, and Perry begins to feel like they have already lost.

Out of options, Perry and Aria assemble a team to mount an impossible rescue mission-because Cinder isn’t just the key to unlocking the Still Blue and their only hope for survival, he’s also their friend. And in a dying world, the bonds between people are what matter most.

In this final book in her stunning Under the Never Sky trilogy, Veronica Rossi raises the stakes to their absolute limit and brings her epic love story to an unforgettable close.

— Goodreads.com description

I love these books. It took me awhile to get into them at first — I put down the first book twice after just a chapter or two — but I’m so glad I stuck it out. And while I’m sad the series is over, I have to say I’m really happy with how things ended in Into the Still Blue.

I should have done a reread — and recommend you at least do a refresher flip-through of the last book — because it took me quite a long time to remember each of the characters and to get back up to pace with the terminology.

But once I did, ahhhhh! Veronica Rossi’s writing is so emotionally compelling. Cinder and Talon and Perry and Aria and everyone — they’re all so vivid to me and I’ve become attached. I have to say, Roar might be one of my favorite characters I’ve read in a long time.

So good. For a refresher or to get acquainted with this series for the first time, check out my previous review of Book 1, Under the Never Sky, and Book 2, Through the Ever Night.

Anna Reads young adult book blog

PS: Am I the only one put off by these covers? Those models look NOTHING like Perry and Aria to me. Oh well!

Posted by: Anna   •   In: dystopian, romance, Uncategorized, veronica rossi
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