Saturday, 18 June 2016

Book Review: A Court of Thorns and Roses

3 Stars
Well, the last 10% was entertaining.

This review has taken me a long time to write because I was almost certain I was going to love this book. I loved book one and two of THE GLASS THRONE series, I love Maas’ writing style, and I think she’s a brilliant writer. I love fairy-tale retellings, and the blurb sounded perfect, but I didn’t love this book at all.

As it’s taken me a couple of months to get to reviewing this, I can’t remember it too well but I did scribble some notes at the time. Unfortunately, the middle section has almost entirely faded from me – I think that says it all really.

Although Maas’ writing is often beautiful, I thought the tropes of the writing style were overplayed. There was too much overlap in voice from the author’s past series. A lot of the time Maas didn’t finish her… Or it would feel jarring – the romance didn’t interest me.

I had multiple issues with the plot devices too. The whole ‘I must either kill you or offer to set you up for life in my house and spoil you rotten’ didn’t sit well with me in the slightest, and I couldn’t understand why the characters accepted it so easily. The disease which glues masks to faces, but only when they are in human form, sounded ridiculously specific. And creating a creature with the sole purpose of info dumping on the reader everything I would expect the author to show felt like a lazy and unengaging way to progress the story. It’s probably why I don’t remember the middle very well – it felt slow and unengaging.

Ultimately, I didn’t fall in love with the characters and so the romance felt very, very dull. On the other hand, Lucian fascinated me. His past sounds novel worthy, and the war the characters speak off also sounded like a much more interesting context for the book. I’m glad he was there.

The end sequence really spiced up the book, which is the reason I’m giving it three stars instead of one. There’s action, a puzzle, stakes – all too little too late. It almost felt like a different book.

But as it came at the end of the book, I feel like maybe book two could carry its own. I might read it… or I might just stick to the author’s other novels.

Source: Bought the kindle version. 

Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Book Review: The Selection

5 Stars
Unexpectedly enjoyable dystopian romance.

I wasn’t expecting to like this as much as I did. Just look at how pretty and girly the cover looks – and the blurb screams romance, squabbling girls, pretty dresses… But then again, the book had a lot of popularity so I wanted to know what the fuss was about!

Right from the start there’s a dystopian feel to it which lured me in. It’s an easy read, one that I found enjoyable throughout. The main concept is simple: girl enters a contest to win a prince’s hand in marriage. It reminded me of Hunger Games without the physical brutality, although the actual book is more about America and Maxon’s complicated friendship.

America heads into the contest broken and conflicted. She’s not like the other contestants because she doesn’t want what they want. I liked her as a character because she seems quietly confident, enough to stay true to herself even at difficult times.

Maxon is a slightly… odd prince. I found him a bit creepy at first, but grew to like and understand him over time.

I enjoyed the added layer of danger from the rebel attacks. I liked how it means the selected princess will need to be strong and brave, not just a pretty face or likable. The high number of contestants at the start is a little overwhelming, but thankfully some individuals stand out more than others. I think the author handled the character juggling quite well.

My only criticism is the obviousness of the concepts, and while this means it’s very accessible to a range of ages, my tastes lean towards the more complex and thought provoking, even for YA. One contestant clearly has no redeeming traits, whereas I’d prefer to see a more rounded character whose hard to dislike at times. Also, the class system simplifies the social standings of the girls into numbers, and the contract for the competitors is also clearly meant to rile the feminists inside of us. I think the book would have still worked fine without the ideas being so simplified.

By the middle, I was hooked and didn’t want it to end. I’ll definitely read the next in the series.


Saturday, 11 June 2016

Book Review: The Kind Worth Killing

4 Stars
Verdict: Light and thrilling, with darkness and killing.

Two strangers meet in a airport bar and plot to kill a cheating wife. It starts fast and builds steadily, with a clever plot and devious characters. There are a couple of truly unpredictable moments making it a very entertaining read.

In a book full of unethical characters, I’m surprised I found a character to root for. But I did. I felt sorry for Lilly, and I felt like she had logical reasoning behind her actions. Not that would hold up in court, mind you, but enough so that I wanted her to succeed, and I didn’t want her to get caught.

Ted surprised me a lot. He seemed innocent and normal at first, but every character in this book has darkness in their past (and present). The book opens with a promise of murder, but it's getting to know the characters and their reasons for why they ended up where they are now which really drew me in.

I found the book fascinating: the characters, the plot, the motives… The prose on the other hand is a little bland, yet I still found it almost impossible to put down.

Overall, it’s a really good book. I’m not gushing over it, but I would recommend it to anyone in the mood for a thriller.

Source: Bought this one for the shelf!