Review

Review – Delirium by Lauren Oliver

Delirium by Lauren Oliver (Book 1 – Delirium Trilogy)
HarperCollins
Paperback
Released 2011
ISBN 978-0-340-98093-4
Purchased – Amazon (Box Set – Click to buy)

“It has been sixty-four years since the president and the Consortium identified love as a disease, and forty-three since the scientists perfected a cure.”

Synopsis

Ninety-five days, and then I’ll be safe. I wonder whether the procedure will hurt. I want to get it over with. It’s hard to be patient. It’s hard not to be afraid while I’m still uncured, though so far the deliria hasn’t touched me yet. Still, I worry. They say that in the old days, love drove people to madness. The deadliest of all deadly things: It kills you both when you have it and when you don’t.

My Thoughts

The Delirium Trilogy has been on my reading list for years. I loved the concept immediately but didn’t pick up the books until now.
Lena lives in a world where love has been classified as a disease and where people are cured of the ability to love as soon as they turn eighteen. Being a huge dystopian fan I loved this idea straight away. What would a society be like without love? Not just romantic love, but love for anybody and anything? Lena’s society lives that. They are stripped to indifference by a brain operation. They don’t love, they don’t hate, they don’t feel. 
The world building is great! We get to feel as though we are in Portland with Lena through Oliver’s amazing writing. I wish that we had seen a little more of some places than we did, but I am reserving judgement until I have read all three books. 
What we did see from Lauren Oliver was beautifully descriptive prose and a world that felt real. 
The added quotes at the beginning of each chapter add depth. They are all taken from fictional books and other sources from within the story and gave me a sense of how long society had been this way and how strictly controlled people are. There are even children’s playground rhymes!
My favourite character, surprisingly to me, was Lena. 
I do not usually gravitate towards the protagonist in a story. I have a tendency to fall in love with the side-kicks or even the villains before the main character. But Lena is special. She is realistic in a way that I don’t see often enough in YA fiction.
  • She has authority figures in her life and she respects them. She has to sneak around like a normal seventeen year old girl would because the adults are watching her.
  • She doesn’t blindly accept anything and questions everything. 
  • When her mind changes about things, no matter how big or small, there is always an inciting incident. 
  • She has loyalties and responsibilities and doesn’t dump them easily for anything. 
Alex was possibly my least favourite character. Not because he is a bad character at all, but I felt that he was slightly underdeveloped. I can’t put my finger on a reason why, but he simply felt a little flat.
The story felt like it was plodding along at times, but in an organic way. It felt natural, as though we were truly living this time with Lena. The big twists weren’t all massively shocking because we suspected them in the same way that Lena did, or at least we hoped for them as she did. As a reader I felt completely involved in Lena’s emotions and choices. I felt connected to her in that rare way a reader does when a character is really special.
My only real bug-bear was Lena’s “tidal wave” dialogues. She appeared shy and quiet, but when she did open up and let her stories and feelings out, she REALLY let them out. For pages at a time. 
This was annoying but it was understandable. She couldn’t tell these things to anybody but Alex. It is only natural that they would flood out the moment that he pulled the plug. 
Unfortunately it also led to the same things being repeated, once to the reader and again to Alex. I feel that this could have been cut down to make room for more action, or more world building. 
As I write this, book two is already on the table beside me. I cannot wait to dip back into the world and that makes me kinda glad that I waited until I could get the box set. I would completely recommend this book to dystopian YA book people everywhere. Go and read!

Review: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
Macmillan Children’s Books
Paperback/2014
ISBN 970-1-4472-6323-7
Borrowed from Library
“There was a boy in her room.”


Cath is a Simon Snow fan.
Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan…

But for Cath, being a fan is her life—and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving.

Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.

Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to.

Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words… And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.

For Cath, the question is: Can she do this?

Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? Writing her own stories?

And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?

I generally do not like contemporary novels. I find them hard work and dull to read. Usually nothing really happens and that makes them hard for me to get into. I need action, not real life, to keep me interested.
Fangirl was highly recommended everywhere. Bloggers raved, twitter tweeted and everyone told me it was going to change my mind about contemporary. 
It didn’t. 
The book took me over a week to finish. For under 500 pages this is bad for me. A similar length dystopian would usually take me a couple of days. This book barely grabbed my attention for more than 15 minutes at a time. I had a relatively quiet week and instead of spending it reading the book, I found myself avoiding it. 
It wasn’t all bad. I found the characters to be likeable. Reagan especially. I do wish we had gotten more of her. I found her instantly likeable and fun. She brightened up the story with her wit and unconventional way of thinking.
Cath, Wren and their father were interesting to read too. I enjoyed the dynamic between the three of them, especially Cath’s reversed role with her father.

I definitely feel that Laura wasn’t included enough in the story. Her back story was vague and the lack of conclusion for her thread was disappointing. I would have loved to explore the relationship between Laura and Cath a bit more and to have gotten some feeling for how they moved forward beyond the book.

The worst part was that nothing happened. Well, stuff did happen but not in a build up-climax-aftermath sort of way. It felt like the story simply plodded along and was interspersed with pinpricks of tension that were always over before they got going. 
Another annoyance was the fan fiction sections. I won’t go into the series that they were obviously inspired by. I am sure that has been covered many times and much better than I could do it.
My issue is that there was too much. The snippets of Simon Snow possessed the story. They stopped the flow of the too often and too abruptly at times, ruining the rare occasion that I found myself settling in. When they did appear they were so cheesy! The writing in those sections was awful and I actually cringed inside at the mere sight of the font change that signalled simon snow. 
I couldn’t and still struggle to understand what the story was about  No single thread stands out as being a main one. I don’t know if it was a love story, or if it was about family struggles or about Cath’s first year in college (not that she left her room enough for that to be the case.) It was too muddled and bland. Nothing stood out at all and the ending … Just ended. It didn’t conclude anything.
The book left me feeling unsatisfied and definitely didn’t change my mind about the genre at all. Maybe some of you did enjoy it but this one really wasn’t for me. 

Review #5 – The Leveller by Julia Durango

Publisher: HarperTeen

Published: June 23rd 2015
Preorder Now (Amazon)
Ebook – 256 Pages
Acquired: eArc via Edelweiss

“TYPICAL COOP, I THINK, CLOSING MY EYES AND SINKING INTO THE MEEP.”

Nixy Bauer is a self-made Leveller.
Her job? Dragging kids out of virtual reality and back to their parents in the real world.
It’s normally easy cash, but Nixy’s latest mission is fraught with real danger, intrigue, and romance. 

Nixy Bauer is used to her classmates being very, very unhappy to see her. After all, she’s a bounty hunter in a virtual reality gaming world. Kids in the MEEP, as they call it, play entirely with their minds, while their bodies languish in a sleeplike state on the couch. Irritated parents, looking to wrench their kids back to reality, hire Nixy to jump into the game and retrieve them. But when the game’s billionaire developer loses track of his own son in the MEEP, Nixy is in for the biggest challenge of her bounty-hunting career. Wyn Salvador isn’t some lazy kid looking to escape his homework: Wyn does not want to be found. And he’s left behind a suicide note.

Nixy takes the job but quickly discovers that Wyn’s not hiding—he’s being held inside the game against his will. But who is holding him captive, and why? Nixy and Wyn attempt to fight their way out of a mind game unlike any they’ve encountered, and the battle brings them closer than either could have imagined.

But when the whole world is virtual, how can Nixy possibly know if her feelings are real?


I never thought that I would be the type to request an ARC.

But this book… this one was the exception. I took the chance and I wasn’t disappointed.

The Leveller is one of those stories that you literally cannot put down. It flows perfectly, with just the right number of twists and turns to keep you guessing. The pages turn because you have to know what happens next, even at 4am.

Julia Durango has managed to create not one, but two amazing worlds within one story. She is able to describe both the real world and the MEEP so perfectly that you can almost smell the salty air and feel the heat on your skin. You are not simply reading about it, you are right there with the characters. You fight their battles with them. You have fun with them and you feel scared or surprised, right there alongside them.

I found myself falling in love with the characters too. Julia has a knack for writing them with so much dimension that they are believable and real. She writes Nixy with power, wit and emotion (and a good pinch of sarcasm) and Wyn as her perfect sidekick.

The story itself is unique and interesting. Considering the current trend for user customisable gaming, and for bigger and better gaming technology, the device that sends players into the MEEP is not unrealistic. This book deals with that possibility and with the very real issues that could happen if it does. Julia still manages to keep the story entertaining and well-paced without it becoming preachy or a warning.

The reason that I dropped a star is because I felt that the final twist was a little obvious. I had a couple of possibilities in my head and wasn’t hugely surprised by the outcome. I wouldn’t say that this ruined the story but I would have liked a surprise.

On a positive note I believe that The Leveller is the first in a series (per Goodreads information) and it has certainly been left open enough to move forward to another book. The immediate issues are all taken care of but there are enough open threads, unanswered questions and possibilities to continue this. I will definitely be looking out for sequels in the future.

I received The Leveller as an eArc from the publisher via Edelweiss. The book itself is to be published on June 23rd 2015 and I thoroughly recommend it to all Sci-fi and fantasy fans as a pre-order.

Review #4 – Illusions of Fate by Kiersten White

Publisher: HarperTeen
Published: 2014
Hardback – 278 Pages
Acquired: Purchased

First Line: “Dear Mama, I am most certainly not dead.”

“I did my best to keep you from crossing paths with this world. And I shall do my best to protect you now that you have.”

Jessamin has been an outcast since she moved from her island home of Melei to the dreary country of Albion. Everything changes when she meets Finn, a gorgeous, enigmatic young lord who introduces her to the secret world of Albion’s nobility, a world that has everything Jessamin doesn’t—power, money, status…and magic. But Finn has secrets of his own, dangerous secrets that the vicious Lord Downpike will do anything to possess. Unless Jessamin, armed only with her wits and her determination, can stop him.


I bought this book after getting many recommendations. None of which gave me any clue other than that I would enjoy it. So I threw my money at Amazon and waited eagerly for the postman-less holiday season to be over so that it would arrive.

When it finally did arrive it took me a moment to remember where I had heard the author’s name. I have only ever read one Kiersten White book in the past and that was Paranormalcy and I never got around to buying or reading the rest of the series. An oversight on my part because I do remember enjoying it.

I found Illusions of Fate quite slow at the beginning. The story seemed to be dragging through the first few chapters until it had introduced the main characters. I found this difficult to keep reading until the first bits of real action began and from then on I was hooked.

The world is amazing but I really do wish that Kiersten had done a little more with the characters and the story itself. That isn’t to say that I didn’t fall in love with the characters (Lord Downpike being my favourite) but I did feel that some, such as Eleanor and Ernest, could have done with some more depth. I wanted them to be more likeable but I really struggled at times. I also felt that Kellen needed more story time. He wasn’t around enough for me to feel as though he was anything more than a forced part of a love triangle for most of the chapters.

I loved the suggested time period and that Jessamin was an outsider. Her dark skin and island upbringing made her the underdog from the very start. Yet she outright refused to let anything, including her father, define who she was. She came across as strong, stubborn and years ahead of her time. She didn’t allow herself to simply slip into the role that was given to her, no matter how far the odds were against her at times.

My biggest criticism was that the story seemed to steadily move forward without building any pace at all. Each burst of excitement was followed by a slump back to the same slowness. This would have been fine if it was part of a series, but for a rather short standalone it felt a little too slow. This led to the finale feeling a little rushed.

I wouldn’t say that I didn’t enjoy this book. I did, very much so. It was quite a light, easy read. But I think I expected a little more from it. I would like to have seen more action, a stronger finale (the twist was one that I seriously did not see coming though!) and I would like to have gotten to know the characters a little better.
Maybe this could have been achieved better if it was a series? I, for one, would love to read more.

Review #3 – The Coldest Girl in Coldtown – Holly Black


The Coldest Girl in Coldtown

Author: Holly Black

Publisher: Little Brown and Company

Published: 2013

Series: No

Acquired: Purchased

That first line: Tana woke lying in a bathtub.”

Rating: 
I don’t even know where to start with this review. I just don’t. Words, for the first time ever, have escaped me. 
If I was to describe it in one word I would use ‘Unique’. I will explain more about that in a later, spoilery, discussion post. But that word does just about cover it. 
Tana wakes up in a bathtub after a wild party that got a little wilder than she really expected. 
Her friends have all been murdered in a very brutal, and extremely bloody vampire attack. Her ex-boyfriend is infected and there’s a strange boy tied up in a bedroom corner. And let’s not forget that the vampires are still nearby. 
She needs to get somewhere safe. That place being the Coldtown, a place where vampires are quarantined, wannabes go to get turned and the whole thing is streamed like a massive reality TV show. Not exactly my idea of ‘safe’ but I guess it wasn’t me running. 
I expected some sort of cross between Twilight and Pretties with a lot of focus on the glitz and decadence. What I got was much grittier, messier and well… so far different to what I thought I was going to read. 
Holly Black has brought vampires back in a huge way. 
I couldn’t put this book down from the first page to the very last. Hence the five star rating. I read it in the bath, in bed, on the bus… you name the moment and I can guarantee the book wasn’t too far away from me. I would not only recommend it… I would happily tell you to stop reading this blog and go get it RIGHT NOW! Right this second… go on… scoot.
For a more in-depth analysis and spoilers see here