Sunday, 27 September 2015

Book Review: We Were Liars

WE WERE LIARS by E. Lockhart 
5 Stars
Verdict: Unconventional and thought provoking.

I’m glad this was a short story because the writing style was poetically, erm, you know... Pretentious. It was pretentious. Phew. Glad to get that word out of me.

Okay, so sometimes it was beautiful. I decided at the beginning to not let that bother me because when it worked, it worked damn well. For every paragraph which sounded melodramatic, I could pull out ten more which I loved to bits.

And what’s wrong with British toothpaste? That’s probably the weirdest thing that’s irked me about a novel. Somehow Lockhart has made me patriotic over toothpaste...

Back to the review.

The characters inspired emotions in me. I loved to hate the manipulative granddad. I enjoyed reading how the spoiled sisters tore their family apart from the inside out over their own greed. The romance that strung the mystery together had me reading on and on.

The little fairytales were a nice touch - short and snappy with twists at the end that jolted me from reading and into my own thoughts. I absolutely loved them. If Lockhart ever writes a book of short fairytales, I’m there. This is probably the reason I want to give it five stars.

Lockhart also has my kind of humour. Especially the story about the mouse... hehe.

I’ve had a bit of a rough time with books later, and this is another one which had me in tears. I didn’t see it coming. That’s probably because I didn’t want to see it coming, which I think is a testament to how well the character and story was set up.

I’d recommend reading the opening chapter before committing to the book. If it doesn’t offend you too much, and if you’re a sucker for a sad tale, then go for it. Let’s call it an acquired taste.

Source: Bought it!

Friday, 18 September 2015

Book Review: Allegiant

ALLEGIANT by Veronica Roth 
5 Stars 
Verdict: Ouch.
#1 - Divergent
#2 - Insurgent

I can’t review this book in detail without spoilers, so I’m keeping it short and sharp -  which is fitting, as this book felt like a knife to the heart.

No, not a knife.

This book is Roth’s warning: Enter my imagination at your own peril.

What I will say, is that this book is very different from the others. It had to. The end of book 2 was a game changer, and so this book isn’t the final step in the revolution. It’s much more of a message. A statement. And in true Divergent fashion, it’s slow to get going but hard to put down.

Until that final section.

I’ve come to terms with the ending now. It held a lot of meaning, and felt like the realistic option. A bold move, by all accounts, but after reading hundreds of pages, I feel disappointed, jilted, and well and truly done. The next in the series doesn’t interest me.

It was good while it lasted, but so long Divergent series. I would say ‘take care’ but I know you won’t have that luxury

Source: Bought it.

Monday, 14 September 2015

Book Review: Insurgent

INSURGENT by Veronica Roth 
5 Stars 
Verdict: Gradual twisting plot with a prose that kept me entwined.
#1 - Divergent
#3 - Allegiant

I love the way Roth writes. One sentence slips into the next, punching you in the gut or sending shivers down your spine depending on what the situation calls for. I lingered over several lines when reading them, soaking up the impact. Not one of those lines overstep the boundary into purple prose or pretentious, in my opinion. Just beautiful and meaningful.

The story picks up where we left off, with a steady pace and a gradual build. The factions become a lot more salient in this book, and the world develops in the way I hoped book 1 would have explored; I felt like Roth knew what she was doing from the start.

Tris and Tobias have issues to sort out in this book, and the state of their relationship is put to the test. I wouldn't call it action packed until past the half way point, but it’s an enjoyable read. Lot’s happens, there’s always something building in the background,

I like Tris – scratch that, I love Tris. She interesting. She’s broken. She doesn’t act in ways I would recommend, which makes her gripping to follow. I’m never sure what she’ll say next but I know it will cut straight to the bone.

Just like book one, there are more characters than I could viably remember. I read Divergent five months ago, so a lot of the weaker personalities had ebbed from my memory. Some sections were tricky, especially the ending which made me wonder if I’d forgotten about a certain someone...luckily I cracked out book three in order to sort myself out.

In my opinion, this book is better than the last. I cared more about Tris and Four’s relationship, I understood their world better, and the writing really struck me as beautiful.

Source: Bought it with my own money and everything!

Sunday, 6 September 2015

Book Review: Talon

TALON by Julie Kagawa
3 Stars 
Verdict: A romance novel with the slightest touch of dragon.

I haven’t read a book on dragons before, I somehow I still don’t feel like I have after this one. The reasons that drew me in to the book didn’t transpire on the page. That said, Kagawa has a way with words that melts descriptions off the page to form images right there in front of you. Although Talon wasn’t my favourite read of the year, I’m tempted to checkout Kagawa’s Iron Fey series.

Let’s get one thing straight. Talon is a romance novel, not action. It has a slight fantasy twist as the word ‘dragon’ is used a lot, but it doesn’t have a fantasy feel to it. If you think you’d enjoy a love triangle centred on the military and secret operatives, this is probably the book for you.

As far as young adult novels go, this book felt on the younger side of the spectrum. Our main dragonell, Ember, sounds and acts younger, so maybe that’s why it didn’t appeal as much to me. I prefer the older side of YA where things are a little less cheesy, less predictable, and less going to the mall.

Most of the plot was obvious and simple. The instant attraction(s) felt cliché, the propaganda from each side of the dragon war felt cliché, and the whole ‘for the good of the many but we won’t say what we actually do’ vibe was nothing more than run-of-the-mill.

Talon is an organisation, but I had a lot of trouble working out what Talon means. Are they spies? A species trying to integrate? Why was Ember sent to live near a beach for the summer? Because she was told to doesn’t really cut it for me, especially after I’ve finished the book.

There were some fantastic terms. The Order of St George, vipers, dragonell... but themed titles don’t really constitute as world building. The way Ember and the other dragons acted, thought, and appeared for the majority of the book felt entirely human. There were only glimpses of proper world building here and there. It was mostly just clever names for things, which is why it didn’t feel very dragon inspired. Just themed.

What disappointed me the most was that the pace was slow. S-l-o-w. The last 20% really kicked off and became the book that I hoped the first 80% would be, and that’s too late.

The multiple points of view didn’t do this book any favours either. Instead of moving forwards, the plot tended to linger in the same moment in another point of view. Often the change in perspective was in order to spoon feed more of the story, rather than show it. Usually I love seeing the same conundrum from a different opinion, but this really was mostly romance and too predictable.

Sometimes the dialogue was realistically quirky, but Ember often sounded like a parody of American TV. Inside her point of view she felt more natural, but seen through the perspectives of the guys inside her love triangle, I half expected canned laughter to follow.

The ending is just a lead into the next in the series. The only problem with that tactic is that I don’t trust the author to take me on a kick-ass, fire breathing, heart-breaking but laugh-out-loud adventure of freedom against the system. I expect a dawdle.

I think one of the last paragraphs sums up this first book very well.

‘No more surfing, volleyball, parties, or hanging out with friends.’

If only this line had come earlier within the book, I might have been tempted to read more.

Source: Brought it with my own money and everything...