Glass Sword – Book Review

glass sword cover

Title: Glass Sword
Author: Victoria Aveyard
Paperback: 464 pages
Published: February 11th 2016 by Orion
My Rating: 2/5 stars

Summary (From Goodreads): Mare Barrow’s blood is red—the color of common folk—but her Silver ability, the power to control lightning, has turned her into a weapon that the royal court tries to control. 

The crown calls her an impossibility, a fake, but as she makes her escape from Maven, the prince—the friend—who betrayed her, Mare uncovers something startling: she is not the only one of her kind.

Pursued by Maven, now a vindictive king, Mare sets out to find and recruit other Red-and-Silver fighters to join in the struggle against her oppressors. 

But Mare finds herself on a deadly path, at risk of becoming exactly the kind of monster she is trying to defeat. 

Will she shatter under the weight of the lives that are the cost of rebellion? Or have treachery and betrayal hardened her forever?

The electrifying next installment in the Red Queen series escalates the struggle between the growing rebel army and the blood-segregated world they’ve always known—and pits Mare against the darkness that has grown in her soul.

*THIS CONTAINS SPOILERS. CONTINUE AT OWN RISK.*

What.
Happened.

The first book was so good? I know I gave it a fairly mediocre review, but it was actually somewhat riveting.

This here.
This book.

There was nothing. I am so incredibly bored of Mare. She’s bland. She monologues. She angsts. The amorality of her would be fascinating if she wasn’t so flipping dumb. The novel consists of her walking into trap after trap and I am so done with her INCESSANT WHINGING.

It doesn’t help that my favourite character got killed off. For good, too. Although, that’s perhaps for the best, considering the very slim amount of page time he was getting.
That can be said for a lot of the characters though – all are background to Mare’s Monologues. She’s so self-centered it’s a wonder she notices anyone around her at all.

Her “romance” with Cal? Forced, without a spark of emotion. She dedicates so much time to her contemplation of her own morality that he feels like an afterthought. The part that stunned me was when they started sharing a bedchamber every night, because there was literally no indication that there were feeling between them. At all.
Like.
What?
Honestly, there is still more chemistry between Mare and Maven, hell, even Mare and Kilorn would’ve been better. But Cal? As a character I feel nothing from him except his presence every time Mare remembers that he’s there. Even Shade and Farley, two minor characters, have better chemistry that Mare and Cal, and their relationship is mentioned far, far less.

But enough of relationships.
My main issue with the book – Shade.
Okay, I’ll admit, I’m biased. He’s my favourite character, has been since the beginning of book one. You know when you’re reading and you kinda just get drawn to one character?
He got literally no development.
Mare refers to him so many times as her favourite, most understanding brother, but they barely speak. I can count the amount of actual conversations they have on my fingers.
But, it was redeemable – there’s another two books, right?

Well.
Well.

We reached the point where I could have easily hurled the book across the library and knocked out some poor year seven.

Who remembers Dobby?
Or, more importantly:
Who remembers his death?

That’s basically the end that Shade got and I could have cried. It wasn’t even a shock. The page prior, I sat there and said aloud “He’s going to die”.
It’s a poorly disguised plot device that gives Mare yet another thing to angst over. She literally just got him back! Surely there are better ways to progress a plot than by killing an underdeveloped character?

Ranting aside, I understand that characters do have to die sometimes. And if the death is done well, I wouldn’t be so irritated.
Alas.
No.

The plot has veered from The Hunger Games mixed with The Selection right into X-Men territory. Midway through the book, a whole bunch of new characters with no development are suddenly introduced, and a few chapters later, a bunch are killed off. No connection to them at all. Perhaps fewer characters would work better?

My other issue is the way that the action scenes are written, although that might just be the way that I read. I have a tendency to skim scenes, and details blur together, especially in action sequences.
It was the prison fight in particular that I found myself having to go back and re-read, because there were so many random changes and people present that I just couldn’t keep track.

The thing is though; I think that this would translate REALLY well into film or TV. A TV show would work with the storyline; it gives more room for character development, for plot arcs. It’s something that I could see myself watching and enjoying.

Thoughts?

Holly xx

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Red Queen – Book Review

redqueen

Title: Red Queen
Author: Victoria Aveyard
Paperback: 388
Published: February 12th 2015 by Orion
My Rating: 3.5/5 stars

*THIS CONTAINS SPOILERS ON CHARACTER DEATH AND PLOT – READ AT YOUR OWN PERIL*

Summary (from Goodreads): This is a world divided by blood – red or silver.

The poverty-stricken Reds are commoners, living in the shadow 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.

Then Mare finds herself working at the Silver palace, in the midst 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.

(Fair warning, I am now reading Glass Sword, and my opinions have changed drastically – I’m trying to keep this review as close to my first impressions as I can!)

Despite the terrible reviews I’ve read, I actually really enjoyed this book.

It’s not original.
Not in the slightest.
But it was compulsive reading.

The front cover literally says “A combination of The Hunger Games, The Selection, Graceling and Divergent” and it’s not wrong. I’d say that The Selection and Graceling are the closest, with maybe a hint of The Winner’s Curse.

So  to begin, a checklist of tropes in YA fiction that I hate:
– Main character with special powers
– Love triangle
– Dystopia split into classes

There are others, but that is what sticks out for me. And the author somehow spun them all into something positive, a novel that I struggled to put down. The book did have an actual plot, despite the Mean Girls aspects of it. I say “plot” like there’s one; there are so many subplots that weave together, it’s impressive.

Due to these plots, there is a large cast of characters to keep track of too, and if I’ve got to be honest, some of them I just don’t care about.

By that I mean Cal.

Dear lord, was that the most forced romance I’ve ever read. My mind was mostly taken up with Maven, so I didn’t linger too much on Cal’s character. Mare either loved him or hated him, but I found myself just skipping pages about him. Not interested, y’know?

The book changes pace and tone when she falls into the court; I barely noticed at the time, but the beginning reads more like how I remember The Hunger Games – a girl and her best friend are in town, avoiding guards and pick-pocketing. There is some real chemistry between the two of them, and I loved it.

Then we pitch into The Selection territory, which is far shakier. I still enjoyed it, don’t get me wrong; the mood change is kind of expected. I just feel that the start betrays the end a little, because the pay off isn’t what I was expecting. Who knows.

One thing I absolutely LOVED was the sarcasm. It’s something that I can’t help. Just…give me a sarcastic narrator, or a sarcastic friend (or a sarcastic brother *squints at Shade*) and I’m yours.
Ugh.

*SPOILERS ABOUND. LAST CHANCE*

Okay, not even gonna lie, the thing that got me through this book was sheer denial that Shade was dead. That is what kept me reading. You know when you read something and go, “oh yeah, this one is my favourite”?
That’s what happened on reading his letter.

Dear family, I am still alive. Obviously.

*shakes head at self*
I’m a sucker for sarcasm.
That is all.

And now.
The other thing, the main thing that everyone screams about:
MAVEN.

What the actual heck was that?

I was rooting for this guy, all the way through. I was rooting for him over Cal, over Kilorn, over anyone else who could possibly be considered a love interest, and I was betrayed.

That’s right, dear readers.

Betrayed.

That is all. Again.

I would highly recommend checking the first book out, as it is interesting and fast paced enough to forgive its flaws.

The sequel however?
That…remains to be seen.

Thoughts?

Holly xx

P.s. Yes, I will probably be posting a rant about Glass Sword because…let’s face it, this is not going well
*scurries away*

Am I Normal Yet? – Book Review

aminormalyet

Title: Am I Normal Yet?
Author: Holly Bourne
Paperback: 434 pages
Published: August 1st 2015 by Usborne Publishing Ltd
My Rating: 5/5 stars

*TRIGGER WARNING FOR OCD/ANXIETY BEING DISCUSSED*

Summary (from Goodreads): All Evie wants is to be normal. She’s almost off her meds and at a new college where no one knows her as the girl-who-went-crazy. She’s even going to parties and making friends. There’s only one thing left to tick off her list…

But relationships are messy – especially relationships with teenage guys. They can make any girl feel like they’re going mad. And if Evie can’t even tell her new friends Amber and Lottie the truth about herself, how will she cope when she falls in love?

This book started with me picking up …And a happy new year? in my school library. For those not in the know, this is a novella-capstone-type book on the end of the Spinster Club series.
I started reading it aloud to a couple of friends and we fell in love with the three narrators. The bit that got us was two texts between Amber and Lottie;

Amber: Christmas is over

Lottie: But the patriarchy isn’t

To which we all went “Same.”

So anyway. Our librarian, Heidi (who is awesome, btw) told us that it was the end of a series.
Cue one mad dash to the shelf to find Am I Normal Yet?
Surprisingly, I won!
(Well. I won by default. One friend is halfway through Crooked Kingdom and the other Lady Midnight, so it was technically mine for the taking. But I digress.)
I got through it in three days.
All things considered, I’m quite impressed.

Anyway, the book.
It.
Was.
Awesome.
The author has shied away from nothing and presented one of the most real voices I’ve read in YA lit. The book is feminist, and has no issues with discussing feminist issues. Things like periods are brought up, no sweat. I really wish they weren’t a taboo topic in society, considering about half the population get them; one tiny, tiny qualm I have is that the three girls’ periods all seem to last only 3 days.
If only.

The other main topic is mental health, specifically OCD and anxiety. The book handles this sensitively and realistically, without romanticizing mental illness.
Evie’s relapse was so, so believable. Her thought processes, actions, just everything was so real and understandable. The way that “Bad Thoughts” are laid out on the page emphasizes how they invade the mind and take up more and more room.

A note, however; the book can be triggering. When I say that the author has shied away from nothing, I mean nothing. Everything is described in absolute detail. Just a heads up, if you were planning on reading this.

My favourite part (besides some SAVAGE one liners and the first author’s acknowledgement that I’ve actually read) was Evie’s speech at the end. It  just brought up such a relevant issue? It’s one that speaks to me on a personal level and I had to put the book down for a few moments to contemplate it.

For a book labelled ‘Romance’, I have to argue; the romance takes a backseat to the friendship. Amber, Lottie and Evie – the Spinster Club. Amber, I feel got more character development than Lottie. She felt more vivid (though, that may be to her physicality being pointed out more, being 6 foot tall with flaming red hair) and I found myself sympathizing with her.
Lottie, I sympathized with a lot less, but I think that’s mainly down to me not digging sex. As a character, she’s brilliant – brutally honest and sparky as hell.

So back to the romance. We have three contenders: Ethan, Guy and Oli.

Ethan – This guy is a textbook douche. Shows up drunk to a date, then sleeps with someone else? No thanks. His apology halfway through thawed me a little, before he sexually assaults Evie (again) by kissing her and we were back a square one. #youtried.

Guy – I just…loathe this one. The way he treats Evie like an object? The way he never actually speaks to her? This is one of the most realistic portrayals of a toxic relationship that I’ve read – it never really hit home how easy it is to fall into one.

Oli – Bless Oli. He’s not present in the book as much as I’d expected, after what I’ve read from …And a happy new year? but what we did get was beautiful. Having a male character suffering with anxiety is something that I rarely get to see, and the stereotype of male characters kinda hit home for me? Either way, I have a soft spot for this guy.

The next book, How Hard Can Love Be? I am already reading. It’s Amber’s point of view, so hopefully it’ll live up to expectation!

Has anyone else read this? What’re your thoughts?

Holly xx