Review

Review: The Heir by Kiera Cass

The Heir by Kiera Cass
HarperCollins
Paperback
Published 2015
ISBN: 9780007580224
Buy The Heir on Amazon

“I could not hold my breath for seven minutes.”

As a huge fan of the original Selection trilogy (and all of the novellas) I was really excited to hear that Kiera was adding a fourth book to the series. I was doubly excited to find out that it was a time hop into America and Maxon’s future. In fact, when I heard that they had children and that their daughter was having her own selection I think I may have screamed, just a little bit.

It felt so great to be stepping back into Illéa and revisiting some beloved characters. I couldn’t wait to see America, Lucy, Marlie and the rest of my favourites all grown up. But first I had to meet Princess Eadlyn.

I would like to say that I liked her, but she ruined the entire book. Considering her parents, and what we know of their personalities, it shocked me that they could have raised such a self centred, spoilt brat!

From the very beginning she does nothing but whine about how she is being forced to be queen because she was born before her twin. In fact, she complains constantly about literally everything. The work she has to do towards becoming the ruler of her country, the fact that she cannot have a normal life or that parts of her life are not her own and even the fact that she might have to tidy her room with her maid.

It isn’t that Eadlyn is completely selfish. She does see the problems that people around her are facing, but she does nothing about them. For example, when she learns that Lucy is unable to have children. She mulls it over a few times and even gossips with her mother about it. But not once do we see her care enough to sit down and try to find a way to help. The girl is all over the fact that she is going to be a powerful woman, yet she has no inclination to use that power to help?

The fact that she bemoans the crown so much is laughable in itself. Because as soon as she is told that she should consider having a selection to distract the public from rioting and uprisings (more on that little snipe later) she suddenly decides that she doesn’t want to share with a husband!

As for the selection itself:

1. I find it a little embarrassing that anyone would think a selection, basically reality TV, would distract a whole nation from all of their problems. Really? If anything I would think that this would cause even more anger at a monarchy who doesn’t try to help the people, but instead throws money around. Do they really want to starve whilst watching the big lavish parties or to see  Her Royal Brat choose a husband she quite obviously does not want.

2. We don’t meet enough of the selected, and what we do get is a smattering seemingly random dates between massive amounts of Eadlyn’s never ending whining inner monologue.

And wow do we get monologue. Nothing makes this girl happy. Well, one scene makes this girl happy, but it gives her room to complain later.

America and Maxon? Well, this book is 20 years later. These two were eighteen in the original series. So they’re what? 40 almost? And yet they are written as being old, fragile and tired. I am sure with the access to food, healthcare and the best of everything that they are afforded as royalty they would be in their prime at that age.

I am disappointed. This whole book left me dissatisfied. There wasn’t enough story to keep me interested. I simply kept reading to see if Eadlyn ever grew as a person… she didn’t. The book didn’t even really end. It just created enough loose threads to keep the Antarctic in sweaters, then ran out of pages.

So why two stars and not less? Kiera Cass has confirmed another sequel to finish the series. The book is as yet un-named, but I would like to hope that it will contain Eadlyn’s personality transplant, more story that we actually care about, and something that saves this series for me. I’ll give it two stars, because it deserves the chance.

Oh and Kiera… Bring back Celeste. She may have been the original brat, but at least she was classy about it.

Review: Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard
Orion
Paperback
Published 2015
ISBN: 9781409155843
“I hate First Friday”


Synopsis

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?

My Thoughts

There are no words right now.

Well, other than the obvious scream to Victoria Aveyard to write the sequel faster.

I have read a lot of dystopian books,  but Red Queen is something else entirely. The book is an amazing mixture of dystopian and fantasy. It feels like an epic cross between R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones, and Keira Cass’s Selection trilogy. A winning combination for me. 
The whole concept feels new and unique. Victoria seems to have successfully avoided falling into any overused ideas or formulas and has brought us something that feels fresh and special from the very first page right to the final paragraphs.

Every character is special, even those small parts that don’t last beyond a few pages. Even the unnamed servants who play no part other than to show the divide between the poor Reds and the Silvers. Every character feels real and solid, and brings something to the story.
Mare, the protagonist, is amazing. I love the fact that she is realistic. She doesn’t blindly accept anything that happens to her and questions everything, even when she is told not to. Yet still, she makes mistakes and she doesn’t know all of the answers. Just like a real teenage girl. Her rough, red upbringing has toughened her and given her strong convictions and beliefs. But deep down she’s still a child who is forced to make her way in an unknown world. I loved that and felt like it made her easy to get behind.
Another favourite has to be Evangeline. My only bug bear being that we didn’t get enough of her. It felt like she was being written to be a danger to Mare and her secret, yet she was sidelined as an annoyance rather than a real threat. It was realistic to her character, but I can always wish that she had been used more within the storyline.

The story is non stop action, and the twists… Oh my gosh do they keep on coming. I constantly had to second guess myself because another twist came along and broke my expectations of what was coming next.

I recommend that you read this book immediately. Buy it, borrow it… Just please read it. Red queen has changed the dystopian fantasy genre forever.

Review: Requiem by Lauren Oliver

Requiem by Lauren Oliver (Book 3 – Delirium Trilogy)
HarperCollins
Paperback
Released 2013
ISBN – 978-1-444-72300-7
“I’ve started dreaming of Portland again.”

Synopsis

Now an active member of the resistance, Lena has transformed. The nascent rebellion that was underway in Pandemonium has ignited into an all-out revolution in Requiem, and Lena is at the center of the fight. After rescuing Julian from a death sentence, Lena and her friends fled to the Wilds. But the Wilds are no longer a safe haven. Pockets of rebellion have opened throughout the country, and the government cannot deny the existence of Invalids. Regulators infiltrate the borderlands to stamp out the rebels. As Lena navigates the increasingly dangerous terrain of the Wilds, her best friend, Hana, lives a safe, loveless life in Portland as the fiancée of the young mayor. Requiem is told from both Lena and Hana’s points of view. They live side by side in a world that divides them until, at last, their stories converge.

My Thoughts

I am disappointed. That is the only way to describe how I feel after closing the end of this book. 
I knew from the beginning that something felt off. I don’t like dual perspective books from two characters, and realising that this book had that put me off. I thought this was what would ruin it for me, but it turned out to be it’s saving grace and the main reason that it scraped two stars. 
Another reason, linked to the first, was Hana’s story. I don’t want to spoiler anything in this review, so I will simply say that it is the most intriguing, interesting thread in the whole book. I found myself looking forward to Hana’s chapters, whilst skimming Lena’s. Not really good when the trilogy is about Lena, but I can honestly say that I might not have made it to the end without Hana. 
In my Pandemonium review I mentioned that a love triangle seemed to be forming. I was right, and this annoyed me. The triangle was pointless, it didn’t fit the story or move it forward at all. So why? 
Another relationship that irritated me was between Lena and her mother. It was underdeveloped and really left me longing for a bit more. Simply, “We talked, and talked” doesn’t cover how they suddenly got over their past and rebuilt their relationship. Where are the details? I needed details.
But most disappointing… The ending. 
The final few chapters felt really rushed, like Lauren Oliver had something better to do than finish this properly. 
The series ended with too many loose threads and that doesn’t sit well with me. 
(Sorry if these are spoilers…)
Hana’s story didn’t end. The love triangle didn’t end. The fight didn’t end. Nothing ended. 
This whole series was ruined for me by a lack of conclusion. The final battle was too simple, and too easily done. There was no big reveal, nothing. 
This series ended on a loose threaded whimper. Not something that I would expect from an author that I adore, or a trilogy that is so well written during the first two books. 
I would suggest that, if you haven’t read the series, you stop after book two. Save yourself and use your imagination. I wish I had. 
Do you agree? Or did you enjoy the end of the series? Comment below

Review: Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver

Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver (Book 2 – Delirium Trilogy)
HarperCollins
Paperback
Released 2012
ISBN – 978-1-444-72296-3
“Alex and I are lying together on a blanket in the back yard of 37 Brooks.”

Synopsis

I’m pushing aside the memory of my nightmare, pushing aside thoughts of Alex, pushing aside thoughts of Hana and my old school, push, push, push, like Raven taught me to do. The old life is dead. But the old Lena is dead too. I buried her. I left her beyond a fence, behind a wall of smoke and flame.

My Thoughts

I always dread the second book in a series. They have this tendency to have “middle book syndrome” and drudge through towards the grand finale. It has become a running joke between friends that the second book is both cursed and a curse. They are awful, but you can’t not read them. 
After reading, and enjoying, Delirium, I dreaded finding that Pandemonium had the curse. 
Sadly I cannot say that it doesn’t. But, only in small parts! The book does have some moments near the beginning that feel slow, but they do make sense. 
The events at the end of the first book leave Lena destroyed. She is broken down to nothing at all and needs to regrow as the new Lena and to find herself with the help of her new ‘Wilds’ family.
Lauren Oliver shows this growth in a really unique way – in the dual perspectives of both the broken down Lena and from the regrown, stronger Lena of many months later. The story flips between the two timelines fantastically. I am not usually a fan of dual anything, but this worked so well. It was well paced and kept the story exciting. 
I quickly fell in love with some of the new characters. Raven becoming a firm favourite from the very beginning because she was so mysterious. 
We learn her backstory so slowly that it feels like we really get to know her before she lets down her guard and spills her secrets. I loved the realism of the timing and that we were really bonding with her alongside Lena as the story moved along. 
I also found it very realistic how the group of ‘uncureds’ changed as the story moved forward. We lost track of group members during action and found new people, just as I would expect. 
Oliver is a very talented writer who does not expect her readers to suspend reality as they read. She weaves and intertwines threads of storyline in such a way that you feel as though she is sewing you into the story. 
In Pandemonium I loved that the twists were dangled in front of us all of the time. As a reader I suspected many of them, but didn’t expect them when they did arrive, or that they would be as amazing as they were. 
The only negative for me was the romance between Lena and Julian. Even though it flowed well I felt as though it was setting up for a love triangle and I really dislike them. 
All in all I adored this book as much, if not more than the first. The writing is poetic and amazing, with the exception of a couple of repeated phrases (I forgive you Lauren) and I really did not want it to end. Good luck Requiem, you have some big shoes to fill.

Review: Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

Before I Fall – Lauren Oliver
HachetteUK
Paperback
Released 2010
Borrowed from Library
ISBN – 978-0-340-98090-3
“They say that before you die your whole life flashes before your eyes, but that’s not what happened for me.”

Synopsis

For popular high school senior Samantha Kingston, February 12—”Cupid Day”—should be one big party, a day of valentines and roses and the privileges that come with being at the top of the social pyramid. And it is…until she dies in a terrible accident that night. However, she still wakes up the next morning. In fact, Sam lives the last day of her life seven times, until she realizes that by making even the slightest changes, she may hold more power than she ever imagined.

Thoughts

Have you ever read a book that is so unfair that you want to yell at the author? One that is so heartbreaking that you sob for an hour after you close the cover? One that is so perfect that you hug it for hours?
This is that book. 
At the very beginning though, I hated it. The protagonist, Sam, and her friends were those high school queen bee bitches that we all either were, or hated. 
They lived a perfect little life in a perfect little bubble. Anyone outside of that bubble was outcast, a freak. Juliet Sykes was the biggest freak of them all and they tormented her every chance that the group got. 
Then Sam dies. 
Before I Fall is a fresh take on the “Groundhog Day” concept. Sam dies in a horrible car accident, and wakes up the next day to find that it is actually the first day all over again. She has to relive the day until she works out how to change the outcome and break the cycle. 
I can honestly say that Lauren Oliver has astounded me yet again with her writing. This time with her talent for voices. 
She captures Sam and her friends as popular perfectly. At the beginning of the book Sam’s monologues, and the way that she speaks directly to the reader, come across as spoilt, over confident and self-righteous. 
Gradually, as she grows her voice changes and she reads as slightly more compassionate and caring. 
Sam’s growth is amazing in the story and Lauren’s writing makes the reader really feel it. I went from hating her to really caring about her over the three hundred or so pages. Each day I loved her a little more.
I also loved how the story changed each day instead of Sam simply repeating her actions. This lead to us meeting new characters throughout the story. I enjoyed how they slipped in from the sidelines as though we were seeing them through Sam’s eyes. They had always been there, but not close enough to see clearly. We got to know each of them through Sam. 
This book took 5 stars without hesitation. I tried to find something to criticise or hate but I cannot. I adored it and I will re-read it until it’s spine falls out. (I am buying my own Dearest Librarian. Don’t worry)
Now if you don’t all mind, I’m going to go and sob a little more.