Fallen Angels, Love, Modeling, Betrayal
Mercy is in the body of a Russian model this time, but the fun is short lived as she finally discovers the truth about why she has been forced from life to life and what really happened between her and Luc all those millennia ago. The story is starting to get interesting as Mercy regains her personality; she is ferocious and a feminist and strong, but it is not enough to make up for Lim’s poor writing, repetitive sentences, and inability to describe situations and people without cliches. The angel lore is exciting and the suspense is executed decently, though not as well as the second book.
Previous books: Mercy, Exile
Later book: Fury
Lipograms, Letters, Island Life, Fascist Governments, Humor
On a small island off the eastern US, there lives a society so obsessed with the phrase “the quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog” that when the letter Z falls from their sign they take it as a sign from the sentence’s dead creator that Z should no longer be part of their vocabulary. Dunn has crafted a tale of humorous and lipogrammatic excess that also manages to be quite a hefty political commentary as the islanders are beaten and banished for their slip-ups. The whole book is written through letters between the islanders, and grows increasingly outrageous as more letters fall. While I respect his efforts, I do wish there had been more heart to the story; it was easy to forget which characters was which as they were all so similar, and I didn’t care about any of them. I would recommend to wordsmiths and anyone interested in how he handled the loss of letters.
Fallen Angels, Amnesia, Love, Mystery
Mercy is beginning to remember more of her lives—after dreaming a visit to Luc, she remembers enough to find Ryan and get him on a plane to her new body—but the strange characters in her new life may prevent her from being with him. This book introduces more angels who show Mercy that she is not seeing the whole side of the story, and she begins to question her constant desire to be with Luc once more. The suspense in this book was very well done; even though I was afraid of Mercy finding Ryan and ruining the master plan of the angels, I was still terrified at everything that got in their way. This new body also had so many more connections than hers in the first book and that gave the story some much needed weight.
Previous book: Mercy
Later books: Muse, Fury
Children, Violence, Society, Leadership
A bunch of English schoolboys wind up marooned on an island and have to learn to fend for themselves, which starts by meaning a signal fire and ends in slaughter. They manage to maintain order for a short time before turning violent and feral. Much like the boys on the island, your two reviewers disagree on this book: one didn’t really care for any of the characters and thought their behavior was frustrating and overly gruesome. The other found it to be exactly the sort of thing she imagines would happen in this small world scenario — the troublemakers gang up on the reasonable thinkers and the whole thing goes to hell in a handbasket, which sounds an awful lot like history. This classroom staple tends to be a divisive one, but in the end Golding does an incredible job of crafting an island, building distinct characters, creating a parable, and then rubbing those characters together until he made fire.
Fallen Angels, Mystery, Amnesia
We know Mercy is a fallen angel (thanks, cover synopsis) but she has no idea why she lives days, weeks, months at a time in someone else’s life and without warning wakes up in a new body and has to relearn a life all over again. The memories keep fading so she loses her memories as she goes, and the only constant in her life is Luc, another angel who visits her in dreams—but when she finds herself in a body that could save a missing girl, she ignores his advice to fly under the radar and does everything she can to save a life (and maybe capture the heart of a boy). The writing is mediocre and I struggled with Mercy saying things like “I never back down from a challenge” while insisting she doesn’t remember anything about herself, and if Lim had given a little more to go on it would have been easier to focus on the kidnapping and figuring out a new life aspects of the story, which were decently well done. The story jumped about pretty spastically from internal monologues to conversations with Luc to hunting down the kidnapper to singing music in a school choir; it felt like Lim was trying to set herself up for the later books but she sacrificed a lot of quality to do so. Still on the hunt for a good angel book; this doesn’t make the cut.
Later books: Exile, Muse, Fury
Fake Literary Anthologies, Island Life, Short Stories, History
Marche has invented an island called Sanjania, and has proceeded to create an anthology of Sanjanian literature and present it to you. The stories here range from outlandish tales of reformed prostitutes to sad tales of widows waiting for husbands lost at sea to short tales of magical trees. It is a clever idea that is brought to life by the many different characters and lives you can feel within the pages. Marche has truly built a world—thought I don’t know that I would ever want to visit.
King Arthur, Lady of the Lake, Merlin, Love, Promises
Damosel is the maker of Excalibur and that is all—but when Merlin is trapped in an inescapable tomb, she must leave her quiet lake and watch over Arthur. She does a poor job, however, once she falls in love and spends all her time in her forest. The story remains true to Arthurian lore and takes the opportunity to explain the Lady’s choices throughout, though some things seemed a bit forced (she falls in love practically at first sight and abandons Arthur without a second thought, for example). The story is peppered with the Rules that govern ladies of the lake which is a nice touch for the time period and adds cohesiveness (think fifth century Arthur here). The other narrator is Twixt, a dwarf who tells the story that Damosel can’t see (the stories of knights and the court and Morgan) and between the two stories you find a magical retelling of an old story from a new perspective.
Politics, Fractured Fairy Tales, Family, Secrets, Romance
Cress is coding genius, a shell, and a damsel in distress who finds herself in the arms of Carswell Thorne—though not under the circumstances she had hoped for, considering they have been separated from the rest of the band of fugitives and must find their way back to Cinder, who is working with Dr. Erland and another Lunar to formulate a plan to stop the royal wedding. Elements of Rapunzel’s story flit throughout the pages and add color. The book moves at breakneck speed from the chill of space to the plains of the Sahara to the royal palace of Emperor Kai as problem after problem falls into their laps. The humorous turns add sparkle and there is just enough romance to keep this sappy reviewer happy; Meyer does a great job of using the romance to add to the plot instead of using it as a distraction. I cannot recommend enough: there is action, love, trust, fear, fighting, and futuristic technology.
Previous book: Cinder, Scarlet
Later book: Winter
Lucifer, Religion, Angels, Hell, Causing Trouble
God gives Lucifer a one-month reprieve from Hell in a human body—if he can hack it as a human after that, he can come home. So Lucifer uses this opportunity to smell things, do drugs, write a movie, have sex with anything he can, and write down his side of the story. Sounds like a rollicking good time, but Duncan manages to make it tiresome. There were a lot of opportunities for wry jokes, flashbacks, internal reflection, social commentary, even passion, and all of them were forfeited in favor of descriptions of human senses, rivalries among fallen angels and unfallen ones, and lengthy monologues that don’t progress the story. If you like Duncan you might like this, but I would not recommend to anyone looking for a good story or a humorous one.
High School, Friendship, Loneliness, Anger, Honesty
Vera Dietz goes to high school, works full time, and drinks in secret, a life made all the more depressing by the fact that her best friend is dead. The story follows Vera’s life as she struggles with what happened to her friendship and what is happening to her life, and she slowly reveals their history and eventually comes to terms with her loss. A sarcastic and dark book, it is strange in the best way. It is not like any other book I’ve read on the subject of death; Vera is angry and sad, yes, but the touches of romance and her relationship with her father ground her even as she drives herself crazy over Charlie’s death. Would recommend if you want something different, something that gives you hope without promising it.
Short Stories, Fantasy, Horror, Drama
Seventeen stories about things that only happen in the dark: werewolves, mysterious glowing red eyes, secret night trains, zombies in amusement parks, Ophelia meeting Hamlet while dressed as a man in a roaring twenties night club — this collection has all of it and more. Each story covers a different topic in a different style so the collection provides a great mix of fear and drama and hope without getting dull. I would recommend this to anyone who loves a good story, and definitely to anyone looking to get into modern short stories—these pack all the punch of a full length novel in a much more bitable size (all werewolf puns intended).
Authors: Sarah Rees Brennan, Tessa Gratton, Rachel Hawkins, Christine Johnson, Valerie Kemp, Malinda Lo, Myra McEntire, Saundra Mitchell, Sarah Ockler, Jackson Pearce, Aprilynne Pike, Dia Reeves, Beth Revis, Carrie Ryan, Jon Skovron, Courtney Summers, Kate Espy
Impossible Curses, Pirates, Magic, Adventure, Sea Battles
Ananna and Naji continue their quest to finish 3 impossible tasks and break the curse that ties them together. Ananna is just as fierce and fantastic as she was in the first book and I think she’s still too good for the moody, sullen Naji. Their love story is inevitable but kind of weird— for most of the book we know he loves her back but he keeps refusing to do anything about it even though he already knows Ananna’s feelings, then suddenly one of the tasks is finished and he’s totally willing to reciprocate. Other than that, the story is as much of an exciting journey as the first and full of badass ladies and sea battles and apparently not-so-impossible tasks. The ending is not perfect and neat but it suits the story and would have been disappointing any other way.
Previous book: The Assassin’s Curse
Short stories: The Automaton’s Treasure, The Witch’s Betrayal
Steampunk, War, Political Espionage, Fantastic Machines
In a steampunk WW1 au where the two sides are the Clankers, who build their machines out of machines, and the Darwinists, who build their machines out of genetically fabricated animals, two teenagers from opposite sides find themselves working together to protect millions of lives—and a secret they don’t even know. While I am a huge Westerfeld fan, I found Leviathan lacking in character as it was focused so heavily on the science and the world instead of the story. If you like steampunk you will love it: the machines (and the animal machines) are wildly inventive, the mystery is solid, and the adventure is exciting.
Later books: Behemoth, Goliath
Noir, Mystery, Children, Apprenticeships, Friendship, Mysterious Objects
Snicket is back as our pre-teen hero in the second book in the All The Wrong Questions series where he once again must solve a crime that no one else thinks has been committed without the help of his chaperone and with dubious help and quite a few hindrances from the other youths in Stain’d-By-The-Sea. This time a young inventor has gone missing, and the only clue to her whereabouts is a note written in invisible ink—which, as everyone knows, is generally useless. Hangfire, the last book’s villain, is behind this treachery as well, though it does not become much clearer what Snicket does for a living, what Hangfire wants, or really any more detail than what actually happens on the pages (anyone who read the Beatrice Letters should be used to this). This book is more concise and fun than the first, and definitely gives you a better feel for Snicket’s life, strange as it may be.
Previous book: Who Could That Be At This Hour?
Lost Boys, Peter Pan, Neverland, Growing Up, Honesty
Tiger Lily is growing up in Neverland, where aging stops arbitrarily, the lost boys are more feared than the boogeyman, and is raised by a cross-dressing kindhearted medicine man when she meets Peter Pan and they fall in love. Tinker Bell narrates the story as she follows Tiger Lily as she grows up friendless and is betrothed to a horrible man but meets Peter and despite herself grows close to him. This is not an easy story to read; it has heartbreak, suicide, rape, loss of love and friendship and innocence, but it is important because it takes these childhood characters and imbues them with life and cruelty and honesty and I would recommend it to everyone. It will make you think, make you feel, and make you wonder.