Category Archives: fantasy
The second book in a series can be difficult to pull off. The first book tends to handle setting everything up. We learn about the world and the characters, we get a hint at the who the greater foe will and we set the stage for other side story lines. The last book in a series is the ultimate climax, everything ends and all of our questions get answered. The second book is the awkward in-between point. It has to continue the plot, develop the characters and make sure everything is set for the finale. A lot of the times this second book gets bogged down by a treading water feel. A lot of the times as a reader I feel like the second book is slower and stagnant.
Unfortunately that is what happened to this second book in Cassandra Clare’s Dark Artifices series, Lord of Shadows. There was plenty of set up but not much actually happened. We get to know our characters better but that is hindered by the lack of communication by almost every character. While the pieces are placed on the board, everyone spends the book just hiding secrets from each other.
Lord of Shadows picked up a few weeks after Lady Midnight left off. Emma is fake dating Mark because she can’t be with Julian. She won’t tell Julian about the curse for his own “protection.”
This is the part of the book that I had the most difficult with. I have written a full post about why this type of storyline drives me crazy, here. So I won’t go into a full rant. Emma keeps saying throughout the book that she can’t tell Julian about the parabati curse because he could get hurt. She never specifies how he could get hurt or why that would be. She just uses that as her justification for not telling him.
This makes little to no sense to me. Julian has two main priorities in his life; his family and Emma. He will do anything to protect them, but ultimately his family comes first. This was well established in the last book and throughout this book. Julian would NEVER do anything that would end up hurting his siblings. If he had to choose between them and Emma, he would choose them in a second.
So why can’t Emma tell him about the curse? He isn’t going to throw away his family and say, “Screw it, I don’t care what happens. I still want to be with you.” He isn’t going to throw away everything that matters to him. He may want to find a cure or way out, but that does not mean that he will end up hurt. Julian loves Emma but he is sensible. He is smart and he thinks through his decisions. He won’t let the curse hurt his family, period.
I feel like this secret thing was put int place in order to create angst throughout this book. We go on this continued back and forth, Does she/he love me?, for hundred of pages. It wasn’t needed. This same feeling could have been conveyed better and more naturally if they both knew about the curse.
Their communication is one of their strongest points. They talk through glances, they know each other better than anyone else. They even have a special way of tracing letters on their arms or backs, to spread messages. They would have been able to handle this secret, I wanted to see them fight it together. Having this secret kept felt like cheapening that connection between the two of them. Instead of building their bond, the bond was weakened throughout the story.
While Emma is busy keeping her secret they learn that Kieran is going to be put to death for killing Iralath. Julian, Emma, Mark and Christiana go to Faire to find and rescue Kieran. In the process they make a deal to find The Black Volume.
While this is happening in the background we have a whole storyline with The Centurians and Cohort. There is a set up for a scary way of treating Downworlders and those who aren’t Shadowhunters. This storyline hit close to reality and was a bit hard to read at times just because I can see so much of it happening in our world today. I think I know where this part of the storyline is going and it is going to aggravate me in the next book.
Tucked into all of this there is the storyline from the last book about raising Annabel and her backstory. This was the storyline I thought we would stick with from the last book but it kind of got lost in the pages of the number of other plot lines going on.
One of my favorite parts of this book was what we learned about Kit. Kit is an interesting character and a type we haven’t seen yet in this series. Kit knows the mundane world, the shadowhunter world and the downworlder world. He has a connection to them all and he was raised with one way of thinking. Throughout the story we see Kit begin to change how he thinks and how he sees the shadowhunter world.
I loved his connection to Ty. Kit understands Ty because he know the mundane world and mundane medicine. I like that he never felt disconnected from Ty, he actually connected best with Ty. I am interested to see how the connection builds after the events of the finale. I have a feeling that the two of them are either going to enter into a relationship together or become parabati or both if the curse is broken.
Kit was the character that grew throughout the book. He development felt natural. He is accepted into this family, though he at first doesn’t want to be. He begins to understand how they operate and he sees that he may have a place in this world if he wants it. I am eager to see what happened with him in the next book.
I didn’t hate this book at all. I was just expecting more from it. I think the secret keeping is what made this book difficult for me. It might just be me and my dislike of that particular storyline. I felt like it was used in order to force storylines instead of finding ways to do it naturally. Emma and Julian could have had strife in their relationship without the secret keeping. Christina could have gotten closer to Mark without Diego keeping secrets from her. I just wish this idea wasn’t the main point of this book.
I am interested to see how this story ends. Julian is going to be interesting in the next book. After the way the book ended i think we are going to see a very dark side of his character. I hope we see his dark side, I hope he loses it and has to be brought back. That will be interesting and will give us an interesting moral gray line to focus on. I have hope that this series will end in a satisfying way, but we will have to see.
Shaun David Hutchinson’s books are going to be stories that have one thing going on the surface and another thing in the deeper story. At the Edge of the Universe is about moving on in life, not letting one soul or one event become the center of your universe. You have to see the world is larger than just you. Take one step beyond your personal circle and the world opens up.
Ozzie and Tommy have been best friends since they were young. They have been dating since 8th grade. One day Ozzie wakes up and Tommy has disappeared. No one remembers he existed at all, no one but Ozzie.
Ozzie is set on finding his lost boyfriend, desperate for him to not be truly forgotten. Though complications arise when he falls for his physics project partner, Calvin. Can he let Tommy go? What should he do about the universe that is literally shrinking around him? No one else notices Tommy’ disappearance or the shrinking universe. Does it matter in the end? Was Tommy even real at all?
The plot of the universe shrinking and Tommy not being remembered are secondary to the fact that Ozzie has had an issue seeing the world beyond himself. At first he seems selfish. HIs parents are divorcing and he keeps speaking about in terms of how it will effect him. His brother is leaving for the army and he again centers the issue on how it connects to him. Things at first surround him, the universe is about him.
As the universe begins to shrink, Ozzie begins to understand that he isn’t the only one in the world. Everyone has their own problems, some much serious than his own.
I really liked the way these two ideas were juxtaposed with each other. The universe is literally shrinking just as Ozzie is learning that the world is much bigger than he initially thought. Just as he is looking around, wanting to experience more he is losing it all. He learns quickly not to let life center on one thing and one thing only. Just as he is learning all of this he becomes the literal center of the universe and it is the last thing he wants.
Just as with we are the ants the side characters in this story are well developed. No one came off as flat. I would say that we are the ants does a bit better job of it but I did appreciate that we learn about everyone in this book and not just Ozzie, Tommy and Calvin. Also this book has a very diverse set of characters.
Lua, one of Ozzie’s best friends, is a genre fluid character. This is the first time I have ever read a book with this type of character and I loved the inclusion. I also like the explanation, it is simple and succinct. Lua tells her friends that the pronoun to use with them can be based off their clothing. If he is dressed in a more masculine type outfit than everyone can use “he,” pronouns. If she is dressed more traditionally feminine then everyone can use “she” pronouns. It was easy to follow, and understand.
I also loved how everyone reacted to them. I never felt like anyone was preaching about it to the reader. This was who Lua was. No one fought with them. There was a bit confusion from some of the more antagonist type characters but once we find out why, it all makes sense. I like the inclusion that felt natural. Lua wasn’t forced into the story to have representation, they were included because that is who this character was. I like this type of inclusion, when it just feels like the character is anyone else, nothing different or special but just a person.
Lua wasn’t the only character of diversity. One of Ozzie’s friends is described as asexual and Tommy is black. The story doesn’t focus on just one of these characters, but they are included to show the reader that the world around is much more diverse than you may think. I appreciate books like this because, especially now, we have to see how diverse and beautiful our world is.
By the end of the book I wasn’t sure if Tommy was real or if that really mattered. What mattered was if Ozzie could see that the universe is this larger thing and we have to find a way to balance ourselves in it. If you don’t find that balance you may end up losing yourself.
I enjoy Shaun David Hutchinson’s stories because they are not only diverse but deep. He uses surface level fantasy to delve into deeper issues and ways to see the world. He is able to explore difficult topics with making you feel bogged down or preached at. The reader is comfortable as they read, eager to see how things turn out. You feel connected to the characters no matter how different than you they may be.
I have been hearing about The Magicians series for a while. I saw it became a tv series on SyFy. It is just one of those books that I have seen recommended over and over again and I finally decided to give it a shot. When I bought the book, the cashier at Barnes and Noble told me, “Great choice, I love this series.” I went into this book with very high expectations and I was a bit let down, to be honest. There is potential in this book and I am going to continue with this series to see if that potential lives up to anything.
The Magicians book follows Quintin Coldwater as he attempts to find his purpose in the world. He is someone who is always on the outskirts and has never felt like he fits in. He adores a book series called the “Fillory,” series. They have a Tales of Narnia vibe to them.
One day after a college interview gone wrong he gets a mysterious note that leads him to Brakebills, a school of magic. After passing the entrance exam he enters a whole new world, one of magic and possibility. The first book follows his time through school and him finding out the land he has obsessed about his whole life, Fillory, is a real place
That is about all there is too this book. Quintin goes to school, studies and finds out Fillory is real and has a final battle at the end. Most of the book is just him going through school. Brakebills had a Harry Potter feel to it. A magic school, that is boarding school, that no one but those chosen can find. They are separated into school years and later into specialities (though Quintin never gets one).
The first two-thirds of the book nothing really happens. Each chapter is a vignette or a short story of some incident during his schooling. Everything happens and gets fixed inside of that chapter. Nothing last beyond the chapter, no conflict resonates throughout the entire book.
I enjoyed the chapters, but I found myself asking, “So what?”. I wanted to know more, needed to know where the story was going. Was there some bigger danger they would learn to fight? Was Quintin going to lose the magic and have to fight to get it back? Where was the overall story heading? Did it have a destination or was it just a glimpse into this kid getting a new life? If that was the case how was that going to sustain 3 books?
It wasn’t until the last third that everything started happening. I won’t say what happened in order not to spoil it but the ending gave me a reason to keep reading. It was action packed, fast-paced and showed me that this story had potential. There was a purpose and it could go somewhere. If it wasn’t for that final part, I wouldn’t have picked up the next book in the series.
The other issue I had with this book was the magic system. I do not know how to explain the magic system. It has something to do with circumstances, which I am not sure what that means in the context of magic. It is complex, and it appears to be a difficult system to learn, which I liked but I wish I understood how it worked better. I felt like we had to trust the characters and just let magic, be magic. Which I guess is all right but makes it hard to follow sometimes.
Quintin is our main character and his is someone who cannot be happy no matter what. He is a type of person who drives me insane. He gets magic, but it isn’t enough. He finds out Fillory is real, but that isn’t enough either. I groaned every time he would take a step back and say something like, “I thought this is what I wanted but I feel like something is missing.” There was just always something missing, and I got super frustrated by his complaining by the end. I wanted him happy for five minutes.
I did not love this book, but the ending showed me that there is potential. I feel like a greater point is being made, and that it is just taking time to manifest. I am almost done with the second book at this point and I like it better. I am interested to see how everything plays out and if this long introduction was worth it or not.
(This is a review for a third book in a series. There will be minor spoilers for the previous two books)
The end to a series worries me, whether it be a TV show or book series. I am eager to reach the conclusion, to see how things work themselves out but I am also a bit terrified. The final book in a series is the one chance to wrap everything up in a way that makes sense and gives us an idea of what will become of the characters. I know that there is a lot of pressure to end a series just right. I have been severely disappointed before (*cough Hunger Games, Maze Runner cough*) and that scares me for other series. Then there are the times where things just fall right into place and things end perfectly. V.E. Schwab’s A Conjuring of Light is one that ends just the way it should have.
A Conjuring of Light picks up right where A Gathering of Shadows left off. Kell is a prisoner, Rhy is dying and Lila is determined to save them both. I am not going to reveal too much of what happens because it could ruin the story. But the plot primarily revolves around everyone trying to banish the shadow king from Black London. They all realize they have to work together to get their home back.
This book took off from the very first page. The tension and stakes are set high and they do not soften at all. Things began at a running pace and they only grow into a sprint as the book goes on. I was on the edge of my seat from the start, waiting to see what the next chapter was going to bring. Who would going to get hurt or die? What obstacles were going to fall into their way? What were they going to do to defeat this threat? The pace never let up and I loved that. For a final book I wanted things to keep moving and this book did just that.
All of the characters evolved well throughout this series but the one that struck me in this book was Holland. Holland was a character that sat in the background for the other two books for me. I didn’t feel anything strong for him one way or another. He was just kind of there. I understood him. He was being forced to act against his will and he loved his city but I didn’t connect to why. I didn’t get why I should care. This book changed all of that.
This was Holland’s book. We saw his past, and got an understanding of his connection to White London. His choices, what he wanted and what he was willing to do all made sense after this book. I became invested in his life and was eager to keep learning more about him and his past. He felt the most alive to me. I felt sympathy for him and wanted to help him, which was not something I thought I was going to feel for him when I started the book.
Another aspect I really liked of this book was the way the romantic aspects were wrapped up. Often romance has a tendency to take over a story. Even if the book is not romance, the romantic aspects start to dictate the choices made and where the story goes. I like romance but I have an issue when we lose the story inside that romance.
This series did not do that. The two romantic storylines were integrated into the larger story well. We got a wrap up to them, we got to ee the issues inside those relationships but they weren’t the only thing we focused on. We got the bigger story with the romance elements inside of it. I appreciated the way they were written and wrapped up.
This was the way to end a series in my opinion. The plot came to a final conclusion. The relationships were finalized and there was still room left open for another story with these characters. I like when there is a possibility for more while ending the story we were reading in a final and satisfactory way.
I had not heard of Of Fire and Stars by Audrey Coulthurst before it came in a subscription box. The theme of the box was Epic Journeys and I was curious how this story fit that theme. It turned out to be a fun romance. The characters were alive and exciting and it was a fun ride. The main plot did seem to get lost in the romance but in the end it was an enjoyable read.
Princess Dennaleia has been betrothed to the prince of Mynaria since she was a child. Her homeland needs the alliance and it is her duty to see that it happens. The princess is not a normal citizen though. She has a power or Affinity. Unfortunately for her, her power is something to be feared. She has to hide it from her new family and home.
Then a surprising assassination happens and her whole world is thrown into chaos. She not only has to continue to hide who she is but she has to find out what is happening to her new kingdom. She teams up with the prince’s sister Mare to find the killer. In their hunt for the truth they find themselves fall for one another, only complicating things further.
Primariy this was a romance story. I noticed right away that this society didn’t appear to frown upon same-sex relationships. It was a part of their world and they accepted that. They had issues with accepting magic and allowing women to have a major part in the government but the same-sex relationship was accepted.
I liked that Mare and Dennaleia’s romance didn’t center around them trying to make their relationship be “right.” They fell for each other and that was it. There was no discussion about it being morally wrong or anything like that. The wrench in their relationship came from the alliance and the implications associated with breaking that. It wasn’t about changing the minds of the people. I got the impression that Dennaleia could marry Mare without an issue.
I liked that idea. A lot of the times you get the story focusing around coming out and the tribulations with that. Which there is nothing wrong with that type of story but it was nice to just see two people fall for each other and find a way to make their different lives work. I liked that their story felt like any other romance I have read.
The main story started off pretty interesting. There were a lot of different pieces involved. I liked that the magic was part of it. I liked that there were multiple suspects and plans to find out who did it. But that part petered out as the romance got stronger. It felt like we couldn’t concentrate on both, and the main plot suffered.
I wanted the main story to have a lot of working pieces that come together into a strong resolution. I was expecting an epic ending with either a huge fight or big reveal. I didn’t get any of that. I actually knew who was behind it all at the very start. I hoped I was wrong but I wasn’t.
There was less tension throughout the story because I knew where it was going. I knew who did it and why. I felt like I didn’t need the answers and that was a bit disappointing. I was hoping for a bit more. I wish that the romance could have been integrated better into the larger story.
Ultimately this was a fun romance with a mystery/adventure tied into it. If you are looking for an easy going and fun story then you will enjoy this one.
When I say Snow White what comes to mind? Do you envision a calm, easy-going, meek princess hiding in the woods with seven dwarves as company? How about when I ask you to think about The Big Bad Wolf? Do you envision either a human-like wolf or a man with wolf features hunting and devoting a little girl dressed in red? Or maybe you think of a wolf blowing down the homes for three pigs? These images are probably the most common for these characters. They come from he more popular versions of these stories.
I have nothing against these Disney-esque versions of the stories. I grew up with those stories. I was a Disney child, so that is how I was introduce to the fairytales. I love them. But these sterilized adaptations for the modern world. The originals are dark and gritty. They rarely end with a happy ending. Death and torture are normal in the original versions of theses classic fables and fairytales.
The Fable’s comics harken back to these original stories. The comic centers around a group of fables/fairytale characters who are living in our world as refugees. They have had to run from their home that was overtaken by someone called The Adversary. They had no choice but to leave in order to survive.
In our world they are only trying to survive. Our world is very different from their own. They lived their stories out and now they are trying to start new. This is a fresh start for many of them but leaving their pasts behind is not easy. They can’t entirely escape their stories.
I picked up the comic because I played The Wolf Among Us, a Telltale game. It is a decision based game and I enjoy those types of games. I liked that this one had a sort of retelling of the classic stories I have always known. I enjoyed the game and decided to see what the comics offered and see where the characters stores continued to go.
This first collections follows two story lines. The first is a detective, murder mystery. Rose Red, Snow White’s sister, has gone missing and the hunt is on to find her. The second follows the story of an attempted revolution on The Farm, the place where fables who can’t pass as human have to live.
The plot lines were pretty straightforward. They weren’t exactly revolutionary or overly exciting. It was the take on the characters that drew me. I loved the darker, grittier versions of these characters. Their voices were unique and felt very alive and real.
Snow White was our main protagonist and I feel like she may be for most of the series. She is not the meek, nature loving, hiding away, maiden that we know her as. She is tough. She does what she thinks is best no matter what anyone thinks. She speaks her mind. She fights when she has too.
Snow White is probably my least favorite princess; mostly because she seemed very flat and lifeless to me in the movie. I have grown to like her more over the years from the various versions of her I have read. She is made to be tougher and more independent and I like to see that twist. I am hoping her character stays strong and interesting.
The other main character we go to know pretty well was Bibgy, The Big Bad Wolf. He is the sheriff in Fabletown (the name of the town where the fables live in New York). He is one of my favorite character types. He is the tough exterior, sweet interior person. He has a rough past, we all know that. But this world gives him a chance to start fresh and he is doing the best he can.
He can’t completely fight his nature, because is part of him. But he is not willing to go backwards.I like to see him try to stay on the right side, even when it is tough for him. I am hoping to see his character grow throughout the series.
There was also a very interesting point made in the latter half of this collection. I am hoping it is something that is used and explored more throughout the series. Rose Red makes a point to Snow that some of them are not as lucky as she is.
There are the fables we all know, such as Snow White. There are hundreds of versions of her story throughout the world. Whereas some like, Rose Red, are not as lucky. They aren’t complete forgotten but they are lesser known. In this world it seems that being known affords certain power. The more well known characters are more durable. They can survive things that the lesser known ones may not be able to survive. It seems that survival almost depends on the world knowing who you are and knowing your story.
This is an interesting take on the power of the story. These people’s lives sort of depend on someone knowing who they are. If we forget their story or twist them out of other’s stories we could be killing them. I am hoping the this idea is used more. I like the idea of the story having the power.
This was a fun collection and I am hoping to get to the second one sometime soon. The only issue is that the collections are kind of expensive so this isn’t one I can’t just read right through. I am going to have to continue when I get some extra cash.
If you like fairytale retellings and new takes on old stories you will enjoy this. It is a comic which makes it a faster read. It is a fun and nice set up. I am hoping it continues to be as good as the series develops .
Not everyone gets the privilege of being the “chosen one,” or one of the “chosen ones,” sidekicks. There are people who are just trying to live their semi-normal lives in these towns or worlds. They also have stories of their own, which is what The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness is about. It is not a story set from the hero’s POV. It is about all those people who surround them and how they are trying to live their own lives.
Mikey is our main protagonist. Mikey is just a normal teenager who is trying to get through to graduation. He wants to ask out a girl he has had a crush on for a while. He wants his family to fix their own problems and he wants to hang out with his friends before they all move onto the next stage of their lives. Unfortunately he lives in a town where strange things are constantly happening. These events affect him slightly but nothing major.
I was intrigued by the concept of this story. I have read numerous books about the “chosen one.” I know how their story usually goes. I know how to see life from their POV. I liked the idea of getting to see how everyone else views these events and how they are trying to keep their lives as normal as possible. I was expecting to read about a group of friends trying to keep themselves safe while also living lives that mean something to them. What I got was more of a meandering through Mikey’s life. It was almost like we just followed him around for a while. Not much actually happened.
In the book each chapter starts with a small paragraph about what is going on with the “chosen ones.” We get to have some context of the two versions of life in this town. Unfortunately I found myself more interested in what was happening with those kids then with Mikey and his friends.
None of the characters felt very alive to me. They were all surface level. We didn’t dive too far into anyone or any part of their lives. There is a sort of tagline on the front of the book that says: “Sometimes you have to find the extraordinary in the ordinary.” The problem was I never found that in any of the characters. They all remained pretty ordinary and nothing really pulled them out into the spotlight for me.
Even Jared who could communicate with cats was not developed very far. I wanted to find myself enthralled by these people. I wanted them to jump out and show that you don’t need powers or destinies to have an amazing life. What I got was what I would assume of the side people in these stories. Just people living their lives and surviving. This very well may have been the intent of the story but I found myself getting a bit bored at parts.
I will say that I thought the way OCD/anxiety and anorexia were handled in the story was very well done. They are not the main issues the characters dealt with but they are mentioned and I thought they were represented well. There was one chapter which was Mikey having a conversation with his therapist that felt very real and poignant to me.
In the end I wanted more from this book than I got. I wanted a story of adventure from the more ordinary person’s POV. I wanted to be given characters who shined despite not living in a world where they were meant to shine. I may have gotten my expectations too high; it was a fun book just not what I was hoping for.
“If you knew the world was going to end but you could prevent it, would you?” This is the question that gets asked over and over again throughout we are the ants by Shaun David Hutchinson. If you had a chance to end life on our planet, would you? What would make you save the world? What would make you think that the world deserved to be destroyed? Do you get to make the decision based off your own life only? Should you take into account all the lives you would be affecting? This was an interesting read that didn’t seem like it would make you think, but ends up sitting in your head long after you finished the last sentence.
Henry is teenager, just trying to make it from one day to the next. His life is not one many would envy. His brother is constantly bullying him, his grandmother is falling further and further into dementia, his mother works as a waitress to barely keep them afloat, his father left them a long time ago and his boyfriend committed suicide about a year before the story starts. His life is a constant battle to find something worth living for.
For a while before the story stared Henry had been getting abducted by aliens. They never truly commincatue with him. They abduct him, do tests and then let him go. Everyone at school thinks him crazy, as does his family. The story starts right after he has been abducted and given a choice: he can either press the button they present him with and save the world or he can not press it and end the world. He is given until January 29th, 2016, 143 days, to make his choice.
We follow Henry as his strives to make his decision, to save the world or to let it burn. The part I liked most about this story was that as I read through I kept changing my mind whether I wanted him to push the button or not. At first I didn’t blame him for wanting to be done with this world, his life was not fun. He had little going for him, I understood why he wanted to give up.
As the story progressed and he rekindled an old friendship and found a new love interest I found myself wanting him to want to live. Though events kept changing that. Just as things started to work out, a wall came down and threw him backward. I liked that I didn’t know what I wanted him to do. I didn’t make a decision at the beginning and stick with it. I was like Henry, going back and forth between the options trying to determine what mattered and what didn’t.
One of the main themes of this book was the idea of finding a balance between the past, present and future. Henry is someone who is stuck in the past. He can’t get over his boyfriend’s suicide. He has no answer and that bothers him. He is also stuck on his fahter leaving and yet again having no reason for that event. He is someone who stays stuck in what happened and obsesses over what he can’t change. When he is given his option of the saving the world he can’t think of saving it at first because he can’t envision any future. The future is impossible for him.
On the other hand is Diego, someone who comes into Henry’s life. Diego is the opposite of Henry, he is obsessed with the future. Diego refuses to look at the past. It is over and done with and he can’t change it. He won’t acknowledge it, to either accept or deny it.
What everyone has to learn is that a balance is needed. You can’t forget the past. It teaches us things and reminds of what has happened before. We need the past in order to have a future. You also can’t fully live in the future because you then live in a kind of fantasy world. You are always waiting for something to happen. You have to live in the present, learn from the past and anticipate the future.
This was a book that was much more than I expected. I thought it was going to be a more fun book about someone dealing with aliens and what they wanted. What is was, was a deep story about finding a reason to live; and not just for Henry, but for everyone in his life. Every character was deep and could hold the story on their own. I enjoyed that the story was much deeper than I anticipated when I started it.
I picked up Vicious because it was by V.E. Schwab. She has quickly become one of my favorite authors of this year and I am working on getting through all her books. I have heard this one is one that is recommended for those who want to start reading her books. I didn’t know much about the story, other than it was a revenge plot. But I have been impressed by her other books, and the depth she brings to her characters, and this one did not disappoint me.
The story itself is pretty basic. Victor and Eli are college friends. They are working on their thesis’s and Eli decides to do his on EO’s or ExtraOrdinarys. ExtraOrdinarys are basically people who have super powers. The thesis becomes an experiment. The experiment goes wrong and Victor ends up in jail. After ten years he gets out and he is set on revenge against a man he used to call a friend.
If this story did not have strong characters I would have lost interest fast. The plot is not one full of twists or turns. There is nothing too innovative about the plot itself. The addition of the super powers makes it a bit more interesting but nothing too new. Victor blames Eli for what happened and Eli blames him. At the end of the day it is a story about simple revenge.
What makes it more complex and what held my attention was Victor and Eli. These two are complicated people. To start off they aren’t two people who are real close friends. They are tolerate friends in the beginning. They find a kinship in each other. Both of them are selfish. They both don’t trust others and they both don’t trust each other.
We learn quickly that while they get along they still hold each other at arms length. Victor resents Eli for getting a girl they both liked. Eli starts to resent that Victor became part of his experiment. They both state that they can tell there is something not quite right about the other one. They can see in each other the darkness that is in their hearts, but it doesn’t make them run.
Neither one of these men are “good” people. They both make some pretty bad decisions and they both hurt people. I think this is what made the story. I knew that because we primarily focused on Victor that we are supposed to be on his side. He is our primary narrator so we should want him to win, we should understand him. The thing was that even though I understood him, I didn’t actually like him.
Victor has a soft side, which is needed because otherwise there is no way we could relate or want to listen to him. But that soft side doesn’t last long term. He makes one good decision and then runs backwards ten feet. The man is set on his plan and in the end people will get hurt, he can’t stop that. He cares about Sydney and Mitch (his sidekicks) but he doesn’t care enough to turn away from what he wants.
Eli thinks he is doing what is right. I understood where Eli was coming from but I couldn’t sympathize with him. He comes off as delusional most of the story. I found it interesting that I didn’t hate him. Usually in these type of stories you take sides. You choose either the hero or the villain, usually the hero. But in this story there was no side to take.
Both men made choices to help themselves and only themselves. Both of them hated each other for a series of events that really both of them could be blamed for. I didn’t want Victor to “win” or for Eli to “lose.” I wanted them to find a way to see the darkness inside themselves and realize that what they were doing would do nothing for anyone, even themselves.
The end of the book was a bit of a let down. I expected a major confrontation between the two men. I expected them to go at each other, or to have a long talk; one that laid everything out and put who they were out there in the open for everyone to see. The book led up to that point and it took a handful of pages to complete. I predicted it from half way through the book. I wanted more from the ending. I wanted it to end with a bang and what I got was more a whimper.
I enjoyed this book. It is not my favorite by V.E. Schwab (that is still This Savage Song). I liked the characters and that neither were good people. I liked not knowing who I was supposed to like. I liked the way it was told by flipping between past and present, it made the story feel like it was always moving. I just wish the end had had more of an impact.
The Six of Crows duology is another series I decided to give a try because of the number of great reviews I kept seeing. I heard that it was about a group of antiheroes/misfits and that intrigued me. I am glad that I gave it a read because this will definitely be going on my list of favorite books of the year.
The Six of Crows duology follows a group of “misfits,” who are given an impossible heist job. They are thieves and crooks and they are seen as the best and the only ones who can accomplish the mission. They are all people who have gotten the short end of the stick in life. They take the job hoping to get a huge payoff that they can use to change their lives. Of course, things don’t go as planned and they end up fighting for their lives, and futures.
I adored this series because of the characters. Every single character was dynamic and driven. We got POV chapters from every character and I loved that. I loved getting to know everyone. In the second book I would have to say that the plot got a bit twisted and hard to follow at times. They had a tendency to come up with new plans really quickly and I got a bit lost but it was the characters that kept me reading.
I have stated in past posts that one of my favorite character types is the antihero. I love a character with a dark past, who has made their mistakes but in the end has a heart of gold and wants to fix their lives. I loved the hard exterior, soft interior type; such as Darryl from The Walking Dead, Seichan from Sigma Force Series, and Hook from Once Upon a Time. These are people we aren’t usually supposed to root for but I like being given a reason to be on their side.
Kaz is the leader of the group. At first he is someone who seems to only care about himself. He is someone who everyone says won’t do anything unless there is a benefit for him. His life is about taking down the man who hurt him and his brother and nothing will get in the way of that. He appears to be a bit ruthless and uncaring.
We learn quickly though that that is all a mask he wears. Kaz has been through a lot in his life and it has given him a very rough exterior. In order to survive he had to close himself off from everyone. He knew that caring would only get him hurt. He had to make himself distrust everyone around him. His life became focused on his revenge and his revenge only.
But Kaz has a heart, a very big heart. He is terrified to let anyone close to that heart. He has been hurt badly before and he tries to close himself off but he can’t do it completely. I loved watching him slowly evolve. I liked it because it was more about him pulling out what was already apart of him. He had to get reacquainted with the softer side of himself. He had hidden it away for so long that it appeared he forgot about love and caring about people. I liked watching him find that side of himself again and begin to accept it. It was a slow burn and it was still in progress at the end but it was realistic and interesting to watch take place.
Inej became tough because she had no other choice. She is more mentally strong than anything else. She was sold as a slave to a pleasure house and if she did not find a way to keep herself separate from her surroundings she would have broken. At first she seems to live doing what she has to, to make it to the next day. It appears that she has a one-track mind, something she learned because she had to.
Inej never let go of the aspects of herself that made her unique. She held onto her religion, she prays frequently to her saints and lives by proverbs she learned from her people. I liked that after everything she had been through Inej still clung strongly to who she was. She could take care of herself but she wasn’t closed off to the world like Kaz.
Unlike Kaz, Inej was someone who people could rely on. She made friends and helped when she could. She quickly became the heart of the group. She was the one they would do anything to protect and help. Everyone cared about her in some manner and relied on her when they needed to. I loved her friendship with Nina. It was nice to see her have someone to rely on and to talk to. She needed that shoulder and Nina needed one as well. They became a support system for each other outside of the group and that was a nice aspect to have.
Jesper was the comic relief of the group. He had some of the best lines throughout the series. I loved his snarky comebacks and sarcasm. His character is the type that I love to read and write.
Though he had a humorous exterior he also had his share of issues. He was a gambling addict. He escaped into the games whenever life got too hard for him. He used gambling as a crutch to lean on when he thought too hard about his failures. He didn’t want anyone to see how scared of his past and his past choices he was. He tried to keep everyone at arms-length with his humor and nonchalant attitude.
In Six of Crows we don’t get much from Jesper development wise. We learn about his gambling problem and we see his relationship with Wylan starting but not much else. It is really Crooked Kingdom where we learn about who Jesper is, his past and what kind of life he left behind. I loved that we got more about him. I like that he is trying to run from his past choices and that the group is done letting him do that. I think he was one of the characters the group supported the most. He needed them on his side and that allowed him to begin to change.
Wylan was an interesting character. I wasn’t sure what to make of him in the first book. He is the only member of the group we didn’t get a POV chapter from in the first book. He started as the outcast of the group. He was there more as leverage than anything else. I wondered if he was going to become more developed throughout the story and thankfully he did.
In Crooked Kingdom we did get Wylan’s POV. He is not the privileged child that we are led to believe at first. He is someone who was groomed to be one way but in the end could not be that person. He was not the son his father wanted or needed.
I liked watching Wylan find out who he was throughout the story. He had to find his own voice. He spent so much of his life trying to define himself by his father and his way of thinking that he never got to think for himself. It was nice to see him shed those outer layers and find the one that fit him best. He came into himself and found the person he was always meant to be.
Nina was a tough woman who took no crap from anyone, especially Kaz. She was another one who was kidnapped and was supposed to a prisoner. She is trying to make up for her past mistakes and for the first book that is what drives her. She knows she messed up and she will do anyitng to fix it.
I particularly liked the way she did not let Kaz push her around. She had her own thoughts and agenda and Kaz wasn’t going to change that. She made her voice her and she did what she thought was best for the group. She wasn’t afraid to defy Kaz and go against him when necessary.
She was very devoted to her people, the Grisha. I liked that she kept that in the front of her mind throughout the story. She was able to find a cause outside of herself. Nina was tough and did not let anyone push her around but she cared deeply about her people and where she came from. I liked that extra drive from her.
Matthias got most of his story told in Six of Crows. He was someone who raised to think one way and one way only. He was given a way to see The Grisha and until he met Nina and worked with the group he didn’t realize how wrong his thinking was. I liked that changing his thought process wasn’t abrupt and sudden. He didn’t go from fearing and hating them to loving and trusting them right away. It was very realistic to watch him change his way of thinking. I liked that he came to care about and like the group even though he despised them at first.
Each of these characters had a transformation that started in this series. Their transformations did not end at the end of the series. They are all at the start of becoming new people and beginning new lives. I liked that there is room left for each of them to get another story or appear in another book. I liked the open-ended aspect of their stories.
I loved this series. It was fast paced and action packed. While the plot in the second novel did get a bit hard to follow, at times I wasn’t sure where it was going; the characters made me want to keep reading. I loved every one of them and would love to read more about them in further books.