Showing posts tagged teen

Dreams of Gods & Monsters by Laini Taylor

4 star

Parallel Worlds, Love, Friendship, War, Sacrifice

Karou is facing her hardest challenge yet: convince a handful of chimaera and seraphim to play nice long enough to stop a millenia-long war and save what is left of her people. The romance and friendship in this book are just as perfectly executed as in the first two, and I found myself tearing up more than once as these characters grew. The introduction of an overarching plot line was fascinating, but I do wish it had been foreshadowed more in the first two books, as it felt cruelly dumped on Karou and Akiva this late in the game. Overall it was a fitting ending to a great trilogy: perfectly paced, funny at times, and poignant at others.

Previous books: Daughter of Smoke and Bone, Days of Blood and Starlight

The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater

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4 star

Friendship, Family, Psychics, The Past

The Aglionby boys and Blue are back, as Ronan steps into the stoplight with his ability to steal things from his own dreams through the power of the ley line. But it isn’t all fun and games—someone is looking for him, and the power may be more harmful than he ever realized. This book does a better job than the first of showing the relationships between the characters and describing the importance of the world and the lines. I found myself laughing out loud at how ridiculous some of the scenes were (the audiobook version is excellent and definitely increased my amusement). Would definitely recommend for anyone who likes a story grounded in reality with just enough fantasy to liven things up.

Previous book: The Raven Boys
Later books: Untitled, Untitled

Fury by Rebecca Lim

3 star

Angels, Devil, Fate, Choice

Mercy knows who she is, why she is on earth, and who she loves—but the knowledge suddenly pales in comparison as her angel brethren are captured by Lucifer and she must hunt them down while acclimating to her true form and trying to keep Ryan safe. Mercy remains a spunky, lovestruck, fate-hating feminist which is fun, and the various angels and world locations add spice. Unfortunately Lim’s poor writing style and inability to show not tell make for an aggravating read. I enjoyed the ending and found it very fitting, though I felt it was not quite climactic enough to warrant four books.

Previous books: Mercy, Exile, Muse

Muse by Rebecca Lim

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3 star

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

Exile by Rebecca Lim

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3 star

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

Mercy by Rebecca Lim

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2 star

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

Damosel by Stephanie Spinner

4 star

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.

Cress by Marissa Meyer

5 star

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

Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A. S. King

4 star

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.

Defy the Dark edited by Saundra Mitchell

5 star

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

Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld

3 star

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

Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson

5 star

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.

The Dark and Hollow Places by Carrie Ryan

4 star

Zombies, Post-Apocalypse Zombie Living, Safety, Growing Up

Gabrielle’s sister is the focus of the final book as her (at least comparably) safe life in the Dark City implodes with the arrival of her twin sister. Annah is difficult to deal with as the story focuses so heavily on her insecurities, her conflicted romantic feelings, and the ever-present fear of being molested, and so the survival instincts and sense of hope from the previous two books are dulled in the wake of her internal monologues. That being said, Gabrielle, Elias, and Catcher continue to be developed and it is riveting to see the last bastion of humanity fall to a horde. I would have liked to see less of Annah’s internals and more fight from her; considering her background, she is easily the weakest of the three main characters in the trilogy. Ryan did a good job of keeping the sense that humanity would survive while still allowing for plenty of fear at the zombies.

Previous books: The Forest of Hands and Teeth, The Dead-Tossed Waves

The Dead-Tossed Waves by Carrie Ryan

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4 star

Zombies, Post-Apocalypse Zombie Living, Safety, Growing Up

Taking place twenty or so years after the first book, Waves follows Gabrielle as one night of sneaking out of the city leads to repercussions she could not have imagined: both terrible (her friends sentenced to essentially slave labor, her love interest bitten) and less terrible (she learns the truth about her mother (and readers learn about the fates of characters from the first book) and starts to find herself once she comes to terms with her fear). Gabrielle is a weaker person than Mary, less sure of herself, and despite her bravery in the face of terrible things she keeps reminding herself of how pathetic and useless she is until you almost stop believing in her. The best part of this book is learning more about the post-Return world: the cults that worship zombies, the Recruiters who keep people save, and the loose government structure. It is a must-read for zombie fans, with a decent cast of supporting characters, and it continues the first book’s message of believing in yourself and finding what life means to you.

Previous book: The Forest of Hands and Teeth
Later book: The Dark and Hollow Places

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

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3 star

Psychics, Stereotypes, Ley Lines, Standing Up For What’s Right

Blue is one of a family of psychics but she possesses no mystical powers—which means when she sees a spirit it is because she kills him or he is her true love. This sends her colliding into the life of the boy in question, who drags her into his endearing but sometimes fatal quest for a ley line and a long-dead king. I liked how unique the story was: a wide range of very different characters, no romance between Blue and the boy in question, and a fascinating hunt for ley lines, a concept I had never heard before. Yet the book itself is a little flat: I never felt like any of the characters had a real hunger for adventure or knowledge or anything, and there was very little action to keep the story moving. I would recommend it to people looking for a decent story without romance, or to anyone interested in ley lines / psychics, but it was not a stand out piece.

Later books: The Dream Thieves, Untitled, Untitled