Children disappear and go to wondrous lands. Lands where they can belong and find their true potential. Then those children have to come back to our world. Adapting to life in the mundane world can be difficult which is where Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children comes in. It is a place to learn how to thrive in their new situation.
Nancy is back in the land of the living and she isn’t sure what she thinks about her new situation. She feels lost but quickly finds out she isn’t the only one. Just as she begins to find her place in her new school, people start turning up dead. Who is killing people? And will they lose their only safe place in this harsh and difficult world?
I have heard great things about this series for a long time. I have not seen one negative review concerning this book or the series as a whole. I have had it on my shelf for a while and finally decided to take it down. I am so glad I did. I ripped through this book with a fervor. It was entrancing and full of magic and wonder.
This is very much a character driven story. The characters are what make this book. I will say that the plot isn’t all that exciting, it is the characters that made me want to keep flipping pages.
Each child at this home has found a door to a new and strange world. I loved that the doors appeared to kids who felt as if they did not belong. They were presented with a new world where they could find their place and their purpose. I loved this interpretation of this whole magical world idea.
Often characters are just thrown into magical worlds without much thought. They are there to disrupt things most of the time. In this story the doors are there as a guide. I thought it was interesting how they were given this opportunity to find a new place for themselves. I also thought it was interesting that they were then responsible for enabling themselves to fit into their new world.
Every character in this story was unique. They all held attributes of the world’s where they grew up. I loved how you could feel where they came from by the way they talked and acted. None of them felt like they fell into any character archetype. They were all uniquely themselves.
I thought this was a great way of showing who each character was and where they came from without going into their backstories fully. You got a great sense of all the worlds right away by just the way each of them spoke and acted. It was a great use of showing and not telling.
I also really liked the way the different type of worlds were described. McGuire used directions to give you an idea of how this universe worked. The four main directions being Virtue, Wicked, Nonsense and Logic. You then filled in sub directions from there. I instantly could visualize and understand how this world was laid out. I thought that was clever way of describing the world.
This also had a great diverse cast of characters. We had a transgender character. We have characters of different nationalities. We had characters that did not follow gender roles or stereotypes. We had a asexual character. I loved how different they all were yet were all connected by their desire to return to their magical lives.
The plot, as I mentioned above, is not very strong. The plot itself its pretty basic. There are people being killed, they investigate and figure it all out. There is no real surprise to anything and really not too much happens until the end.
It was the characters that made this story. I wasn’t too upset about the lack of complex plot because I was just captured by the characters and their personalities. I think making it a little longer might have fleshed out pieces of the plot.
The end did feel rushed but again it wasn’t something I found myself upset over. I do think adding another 50 pages or so might have made the process of finding the killer a bit more detailed but it didn’t really hurt the story over all.
There was nothing that threw me out of the story. I did find myself wanting to know more about everyone in the home. Thankfully the sequels all tell different stories about different characters. That being a fact made me not feel like I was missing out on anything.
I have this a 5 star rating on Goodreads. I adored the characters and am eager to learn more about some of them throughout the rest of the books.
“Narrate the impossible things, turn them into a story, and they can be controlled.” (pg. 1)
“Hope hurts.” (pg. 30)
“You shouldn’t close a door just because you don’t like what’s on the other side.” (pg. 56)
“We notice the silence of men. We depend upon the silence of women.” (pg. 59) (Talk about a powerful quote!)
“Their love wanted to fix her, and refused to see that she wasn’t broken.” (pg. 83)
Chet has just gotten out of jail. He is determined to turn his life around. He finds his wife Trish and runs away with her. He runs to his grandmother’s house. A grandmother he thinks will protect him and help them all start fresh.
What Chet doesn’t know is that his kindly grandmother is actually a demon. She is hell-bent on capturing their unborn child and using its soul to rejuvenate herself. She kills Chet and sends him to purgatory. Chet finds himself in a hell-scape that is under attack. He must survive to find a key to get him home before Trish and his unborn child meet him in this underworld.
I liked the setting of this book. It was interesting because it took place in purgatory. I have read very few books that take place in purgatory. Usually it is either Heaven or Hell, rarely is it in the space in-between. It was interesting to explore this world and see how it operates. It was much different setting than I have seen before.
I also thought it interesting that almost all the characters were expendable. Some times you get into a story and realize that no one is in any real danger. Everyone is protected because they are main characters. In this book Chet was the only one that I thought was always going to get revived. Some of the characters I thought were going to be big players throughout the story died early. I liked that because it keeps you on your toes and guessing.
I also thought the idea of the old gods and “One Gods,” was great. I liked hearing about this separation and how there were these two time periods of gods. I thought it was an interesting addition to the story. I love stories that explore the idea of gods and religion and putting all them into one was a good addition. I just wish that they had been the focus of the story and not Chet.
I felt like this was one of those stories that just ran from obstacle to obstacle. Chet would get himself into one issues, someone would save him and he would then be onto the next one. It felt very formulaic to me.
I wanted to see the problems grow on one another. I wanted to see him building up something and not just running around in circles. He would get captured, freed and captured again. It was a constant back and forth with the same idea. I wanted the plot to have a bit more substance to it.
I also thought the idea of how the gods could get revived by Ka was used way too much. As soon as we were introduced to the idea it was used every other chapter to heal someone. The idea I liked earlier of characters being expendable faded when this new healing aspect showed up. Suddenly everyone was savable.
The old gods we meet get taken down so many time to be revived over and over again. It was almost as if these parts were there to expand the page count and plot line a bit longer. We had about three different fight scenes where they all go seriously injured, looked like they were defeated and then were saved. We could have done one, two at the most. It got very repetitive.
This story focused on Chet and his desire to get home to save his family. That was fine but that wasn’t what held my interest in the story. I actually didn’t really like Chet or Trish. It thought they were very flat and didn’t strike me as appealing in any way. They could have done with more fleshing out.
What held my interest and the real reason I finished this book was the fight between the old gods and the Green coats and the “One Gods” part in it all. I loved the idea and I think the book could have been so much better had it focused on that fight instead.
That part of the story was how the old gods are fading because no one believes in them or prays to them. They were banished to purgatory by the “One Gods” or the gods of all the major religions of today, Buddha, Muhammad, Jesus etc. They are fighting to stay alive in this new world.
The Green coats are souls who want to get rid of the gods and rule with demons and Lucifer. This was fascinating to me. I wanted to see how this played out. I wanted more about the old gods and how they ruled when they were on Earth. I wanted their full back story. I wanted to see them fight for their land and way of life. I wanted to see them encounter the “One Gods” and figure out how to co-exist.
Instead we got Chet running around and bits and pieces of the other story. I feel like there was a missed opportunity to tell the real fascinating story.
I gave this book 2 stars on Goodreads. I only finished it because I wanted to see if we got anymore from the god storyline.
“Death is madness and chaos – a hundred gods fighting over the dead.” (pg. 93)
“Soon, very soon, souls will no longer kneel to the gods.” (pg. 150)
“A god, a true god, gives man meaning to their existence….” (pg. 280).
“Peace comes from knowing you helped those that you could.” (pg. 379)
(Since this is a review for a second book in a series there will be spoilers for the previous book. )
Citra has been given the role as Scythe, taking the name Anastasia. She is determined to be merciful and respectful to the lives she chooses to end. She will not take a life without giving them the proper time for that person to come to terms with their death. She is determined to make the Scythe purpose closer to the original purpose, taking life to help society but to never enjoy the act.
Rowan was not give a ring, though he does have one. He is out for revenge. He is out to take down those he believes are destroying the Sycthedom. He has taken on a name fitting to his purpose.
When an old threat resurfaces and is determined to destroy all those in its path it is up to Citra and Rowan to save the society they have come to respect and hold dear, even if it costs them everything.
I was curious where this story was going to go in this sequel. I thought I had an idea, and I was partially right but it was much deeper than what I thought it was going to be. We got to see Rowan’s character develop as well as Citra’s.
I again felt partial to Rowan’s story. I think it is because his is a much more complicated storyline. I have always been partial to the storyline where someone tries to be good while doing bad things. I love to see the way their mind twists and tries to keep a moral high ground while doing things that we would normally find reprehensible.
Rowan starts this book as a vigilante. He is out to take down all the Scythe’s who abuse their power. He is ruthless and he even adopts the name Scythe Lucifer. I understood his point, he knew these were the Scythe’s that were destroying the true nature of the work they were supposed to be doing. The way he stalked them and killed them though was hard to read at times.
I wondered if he was going to end up a god-like figure. Someone certain people admired for his work but that wasn’t the case. He was feared, he was understood but never admired. I liked that part way through he understood that what he was doing wasn’t going to solve anything. He was helping to take out part of the problem but wasn’t solving the problem. I liked that this distinction was made.
I liked too that Citra seemed to come into her own in this book. We saw her decide to give her targets time to get their affairs in order. We saw her take great respect in taking a life. I liked how she was understanding enough to do what needed to be done while also still having the fighting spirit when necessary. I think her character plays well against Rowan’s character.
I also really enjoyed the addition of the Thunderhead as a sentient character. In the first book it was just a concept but in this one the in-between portions gave the Thunderhead a personality. I found myself feeling bad for it. It just wants to help the world. It wants to save humanity and yet it isn’t all powerful. I liked that it got frustrated and upset while, making it feel very human.
I am very curious how its character will develop in the next book. I can see it really becoming human like which will be interesting. The storyline of AI becoming human has been done many times before but I am still very interested to see where this one goes.
I also really enjoyed the ending, while the middle again felt a little slow the ending threw everything out the window. I have zero idea how this is going to play out. I am very curious where the story will go. How much time will pass and how this will all end?
I am still not a fan of the romance between Citra and Rowan. It is still feeling forced to me. I think a lot of times authors feel like YA books have to have a romance storyline but that isn’t always true.
These two feel very much to me like best friends. They care about each other but there is no real romantic feelings between them. I want to see them bond as friends who will go to any lengths to protect each other. I want to see them center their relationship on their shared experience and their shared desire to bring respect to death. I don’t need to see them try to find a way to be romantically involved, that would change the direction of the story which would hurt the story I think.
There was nothing that I really found out of bounds or threw me out of the story. I enjoyed the pacing. I enjoyed the story itself. I enjoyed the characters. I am eager to see where the story goes from here.
I gave this four of five stars on Goodreads. I loved the continuation of the story. I enjoyed seeing the characters evolve and loved the ending. I just hope this doesn’t swerve into a romance story.
“Did people miss the dizzy extremes of imagination as they lived their endless, uninspired lives?” (pg. 15)
“Simply put, humanity had a need to be bad. ” (pg. 99)
“While freedom gives rise to growth and enlightenment, permission allows evil to flourish in a light of day that would otherwise destroy it.” (pg. 176)
“Faith is an unfortunate casualty of immortality.” (pg. 241)
“….finding an easy scapegoat for complicated problems had been a human pastime since the first mob of cavemen struck someone down with a rock.” (pg. 326)
The end of the search for Glendower is here. All that Gansey and his friends have been searching for will reveal itself. Will they get their one favor? Will the prophecy about Blue and her true love come to pass? What will become of Cabeswater? More importantly who will everyone be after this adventure is over?
The character development in this series was fantastic. I fell in love with Ronan, Adam, Gansey, Blue and Noah in the first book. The way they grew throughout the story was great. They all started out as pretty simple people but they gained more and more depth throughout the story.
This series is a character story. There is mystery, adventure and romance but none of those trump the character’s journeys. Each one of them find themselves throughout this hunt for Glendower. They all find their strengths and weakness. They learn who they are as individuals and as a group.
I think one of my favorite parts of this story was how each one of them learned that they can be individuals as well as a member of this friendship group. I think that was most evident in Adam. He was so desperate to be his own person he pushed people away. He thought any help was only going to make him feel weaker. We saw him learn how he can stand on his own two feet, as with his power over Cabeswater but he also needed the support of his friends. They were what kept him grounded and whole.
Gansey’s growth was interesting because we saw how in the beginning it was all about him finding Glendower and taking care of his friends. As the story moved forward we saw him question his long time need to find the sleeping king. We saw him come to terms with the fact that he can’t live his friends lives. He had to let them make their own choices. He can support them but he can’t force them to be anyone they are not.
Ronan as my favorite throughout the series. He was so rough at the start but we learned quickly why he was that way. He slowly began to open up and let others help him. I liked seeing him getting control over his dream power and seeing him use it help. I am eager to see how he continues to grow in his own trilogy.
Blue was great as well. She was separate in the start of the series. She was the odd one out and she pretended to be okay with that. I enjoyed watching her open up, accept who she was and find people who accepted her. She gained more confidence and it was great to see that journey.
I also loved the slow burn romance in this book. I spoke about Gansey’s and Blue’s in the last review. It continued to spark in this one. Again there was no huge revelation or anything, it was just as if it was another character. It grew and we saw it become part of who they were as characters. It was natural and gentle and I liked that.
The other romance in this story (which I won’t mention to avoid spoilers) was great as well. It was built up over time and again so subtle yet powerful. There was no hesitation about it either. It was accepted and taken forward. It felt as if it was always meant to happen and I loved it.
I am not sure what I thought about the ending itself. It was very tough to follow and for me it left me wondering what exactly happened. I got the main points of it but it felt vague. I liked it because it fit the story. The story itself was vague and not detail heavy.
I had a bit of an issue with it just because I was expecting a bit more. I wanted a few more answers form the ending. I got some but not as many as I initially wanted. I think I would have been more upset over it if it wasn’t for the way all the character turned out.
I mentioned in my review for the first book that if I didn’t love the characters so much I probably would have disliked the plot. That same thought goes for the ending as well. I was satisfied with where everyone ended up. I didn’t get held up on the ending as much as I am sure I would have in a different book with different characters.
My only major issue with this book was Henry. What was the point of him exactly? The talk he has with Gansey could have happened with anyone. He appears, becomes fast friends with Gansey and that is it.
His robobee invention helped but I am sure there could have been a different way of dealing with that problem. Or Henry himself could have been introduced earlier in the series. I liked him but he felt unneeded. I think if we had gotten him earlier he could have grown like everyone else and that would have been interesting to see.
Also we kind of lost the women of Fox Way in this story. I wanted a more satisfying resolution to them. I liked their involvement in the other books but I think they got pushed to the side of the ending. I think they could have been utilized and made the ending a bit more dynamic.
I gave this book 4 stars on Goodreads. I found it a great end to the characters. I do wish the plot ending was a bit tighter.
“It’s not always running away…..to leave.” (pg. 79)
“It was easier to tell hero from villain when the stakes were only life and death. Everything is between gets harder.” (pg. 121)
“If you can’t be unafraid…..be afraid and happy.” (pg. 210)
“I stopped asking how. I just did it. The head is too wise. The heart is all fine.” (pg. 338)
Blue has found somewhere to belong. She has found friends that mean everything to her. They are getting closer and closer to find Glendower and waking him up. They are on the verge of making the ultimate discovery. There are just a few things in the way such as mysterious sleeping king’s daughters and a missing mother. Can Blue and her friends find a balance and end their hunt once and for all without losing themselves in the process?
Blue and Gansey’s growing relationship was one of my favorite aspect of this story. It is very subtle. There are no huge declarations of love or feelings. It is explored in a simple easy way throughout the story.
I am used to YA stories where the romance is overwhelming in the story. The characters are constantly thinking about each other. They are obsessing about if they should or should not end up together. You begin to wonder how they function thinking about anything or anyone else. For me, it always feels a bit unrealistic.
Here we saw how they became a couple without ever having this huge moment about it. It felt more real to me. They both know that their relationship can cause issues but there is no denying the way they found comfort in one another. I loved the way Gansey would anticipate the calls from Blue. We didn’t need him to go on and on about how important those calls were. We saw it and felt it right beside him.
I think this way of allowing the romance to grow organically let us concentrate on the rest of the stories and characters. It kept Blue and Gansey’s romance from taking over the story.
I also thought the addition of Gwenllian was fun. She was a good way to keep the plot moving and giving us more connection to the Glendower story. She is hilarious and I liked the way she talked about the world around her. I thought she gave the story and interesting perspective.
I still enjoyed the character growth throughout the story. I liked seeing Adam come into himself and Ronan begin to find a purpose for his dreaming. I thought we started to see what Gansey wanted an how he felt about the world. I was still invested in them as much as before but I started to wonder if the plot was going anywhere.
I still felt like we were heading somewhere but the story didn’t quite know where. Characters were thrown in hoping to almost distract us from the fact that things weren’t moving anywhere. The hunt for Glendower was still on but I almost wondered why it mattered at this point. I was just expecting for the plot itself to solidify a bit more in this second to last book.
Malory’s character seemed to have no point for the story. He came to visit and I expected him to really push the plot forward. I almost expected him to have some huge connection to Glendower himself and for his revelation to throw Gansey into turmoil. I wanted him to mean something to the story.
Instead he came, gave a bit of new information and then just hung out for the rest of the story. What he revealed he could have revealed over the phone. His insights into the ley line wasn’t anything we didn’t already know. I forgot he was even in the story for most of it. When he left at the end I didn’t care. He was jus there for another person to talk to, it felt.
I gave this installment 3 out of 4 stars. I liked how it continued the growth of the characters. I just wished that I felt more connected to the plot and that some of the characters had a real purpose.
“Lonesome means a state of being apart. Of being other. Alone-some.” (pg. 28)
“It was so impossible to live life backward.” (pg. 115)
“How unfair she’d been to assume love and money would preclude pain and hardship.” (pg. 242)
(This is a review for the second book in the Raven Cycle series and thus there will be minor spoilers for the first book in the series).
The ley line is awake. Finding Glendower and waking him up has become a task that is tangible. Blue has stepped outside her bubble and seen that there is much more to the world then she previously thought. Adam is finding out that living on your own, being wholly independent and finding your strength is not always the easiest task. Gansey’s goal is set and he is more determined than ever to achieve it. And Ronan has a secret, one that he has to learn to control or else all their work will have been for nothing.
What I loved:
This was 100% Ronan’s book. I wouldn’t say that any of the other books in the series are focused on one specific person as much as this one was on Ronan. We learn more about his past, we learn about his dream ability and we see him learning about himself.
Ronan is my absolute favorite type of character. He is the type that seems tough and hard on the outside. He seems like someone I would write off right away as a jerk but once you get to know him you see how soft and sweet he is on the inside. He has the biggest heart, he just doesn’t know how to show that heart to anyone. He is dealing with some intense pain and his way of dealing is to push people away with harsh words and actions.
I loved seeing him be vulnerable. I loved see him try to find a way to use his power for good. I also liked seeing him stand away from Kavinsky, a fellow dreamer. We got to see a path that Ronan could have gone down. He could have become someone who just dreamt everything and didn’t care. Fallen in drugs and alcohol and just given up.
Instead Ronan is someone who found friends, people who care about him and he has held onto them with every last ounce of muscle that he possesses. I loved in this book his journey of realizing the difference between what he can do and what he should do.
I also really liked the take on dreaming and Ronan’s power. I have not read a book before with this exact set up. Ronan can dream up something and bring it out of his dreams. Throughout the story we learn just how much of his life was actually dreamt up. This was an interesting look and gave this story a more fantastical feel. We now wonder what is actually real, who is real and does it actually matter in the end.
Again the pace with this one was pretty slow and meandering. I didn’t feel like we got a whole lot about the plot but I was so enthralled by Ronan and learning what he could do that I didn’t really care as much about the fact that the story still seems to have only taken a few baby steps forward.
What I was just okay with:
I have begun to sense a theme with these books, there is a ton of character development and then at the end we get a big push of action. Something happens and people fight and we have a handful of chapters that are super fast paced. It feels like we were on a nice car ride through the country and all of sudden realize we have to rush home and slam our foot on the gas.
I enjoyed the ending of this one. I enjoyed what we learned but I also wish that maybe some of this action as spread out a bit more throughout the story. We don’t have to have a few chapters hitting us over the head with action just to meander out again.
I also noticed that some characters seem to be introduced as antagonists only to be taken down at the end. I had an idea of who we were going to up against for the rest of the series but we do seem to be given people to dislike and then they are dealt with in the last few chapters. It kind of makes understanding the true stakes a bit trickier
What I wished was different:
Noah’s character is still one that I am not sure what to do with. I like him being around, I like the fact that he is a ghost. I think it is an interesting twist and I liked how no one really seems to care that much that he is a ghost. But he doesn’t seem to be doing anything for the story at this point.
He is there to let them know how the ley line’s power is holding up and that seems to be all. I kind of wish we were getting to know him better or had a better idea of what his overall purpose to the story will be.
I gave this installment 4 out of 5 stars on Goodreads. I enjoyed learning more about Ronan and his abilities and I like where I think the story is going. I just wish we knew more about Noah and that things were paced a bit better.
“All of us have secrets in our lives. We’re keepers, or kept-from, players or played. Secrets and cockroaches – that’s what will be left at the end of it all.” (pg. 1)
“If you never saw the stars, candles were enough.” (pg. 60)
“Time’s circular, chicken. We use the same parts of it over and over. Some of us more than others.” (pg. 340)
Blue has been told that if she kisses her true love, he will die. She has made a resolution to never kiss any boy, especially not one of those Raven Boys. Raven Boys represent everything she hates; privilege they take for granted, power they don’t know what to do with and just plain arrogance.
That is until she actually meets some of these Raven Boys. It’s interesting how your opinion of people can change once you get to know them. She is pulled into a world that she thought she understood. She learns there is more beneath the surface of these boys. She joins them on a quest for magic and power and learns there are always more secrets to uncover.
What I loved:
I don’t usually comment directly on a writing style. I will mention it if there is an issue that I had but usually the writing style itself doesn’t stand out to me. I always feel it is more about the world created and the way the words make the images and story come alive versus exactly the way they are used. I know people fall in love with books because of the writing style alone but I have never been that kind of reader.
This book is one of the few books that I find myself reading not only for the story but for the writing style. I read a review that mention how Stiefvater is very precise with her writing. She doesn’t mince words and everything written has a use. I wholeheartedly agree with that review.
The writing invokes images that are bright and alive. She makes comparisons that are unique and new. Nothing about her writing feels like I have read it before. I read all the time, I am never NOT reading a book. This is one of the first times I felt like I have not read something like this before. I couldn’t find writing like this in another book. It is precise and it creates images with little effort. It pulls you along word by word. It is smooth and fulfilling no matter what the paragraph is about.
I realized by the end of this first book that this is a character series. It was interesting because by the end of the book I didn’t quite realize how little actually happened in this story. I was so enthralled by Gansey, Noah, Ronan, Adam and Blue that it didn’t matter that the story didn’t move very far.
This was an introduction to each of the main characters. Gansey is someone who is rich, knows he is rich, likes being rich but doesn’t quiet understand how to use his money in a proper way. He is someone who thinks that handing out money shouldn’t insult or hurt others. He just wants to help but he doesn’t quite understand at this point that money doesn’t always make things better. He has a great heart but he has trouble showing that full heart to the world without his money being part of that gesture.
Adam is someone who is desperately trying to find his own place in the world. He grew up in an abusive home. He never had any true self-worth. He works day and night to prove that he is as worthy as everyone else around him. Adam doesn’t want any type of charity or pity. He doesn’t want help because he thinks that help makes him weak. I am eager to see him realize that help means someone cares, something he hasn’t truly seen in his life until now.
Ronan is my favorite type of character. Ronan is a tough character to write. He is tough and abrasive on the outside. He could have come off as someone we shouldn’t care about and should put off as the jerk friend. Stiefvater does a great job at showing his true, soft side early. We see his tragic past and realize where his anger and hurt comes from. We see why he has a wall up and as I read the series I am loving seeing that wall start to crumble.
Blue was hard to get a grasp on in this book. She is kind of in the middle for most of the story. Everything seems to play out around her. She is the grounding effect for most of the characters. In this book she didn’t seem to have much of her own character. I could tell she is someone who is struggling to find her own place, much like Adam. She is learning that what is on the outside rarely represents what is on the true inside of someone.
Noah was the enigma in this book. I tried for most of the story to figure out his story and was shocked when I learned who he truly was. I like his addition but I am hoping to see more from him in the other books (though as I am on the third book his character hasn’t evolved much).
I enjoyed getting to know each of these characters and picked up the second book right away because I wanted to be in their world again. I wanted to see them live their lives. I am not as invested in the plot line as I am in their lives.
What I was just okay with:
I enjoy books that provide multiple POVs. I think it really helps to full tell a story like this one. You can’t get close to a number of characters if you only ever see the story from one set of eyes. I did have trouble though discerning who we were supposed to be following sometimes.
A chapter would start and it would be about a page to a page and a half before I knew who exactly we were following. It didn’t completely throw me out of the story but I did find myself having to skim the lines again to put what I had just read in the right context.
What I wished was different:
I didn’t initially pick up this story because the summary seemed very generic. It seemed like a simple love story, a bit of mystery but nothing overly exciting or anything I hadn’t seen before. The summaries of these books do not do this series justice. I don’t know who wrote them or approved them but they did not do the best job at letting you know what type of book you would be reading.
The whole true love’s kiss aspect is an extremely minor part of the series (I am almost down with the third book and it has gotten about a chapter’s worth of coverage total). It is more about these boys and Blue finding out who they are set against this back drop of find the ley line and the sleeping king.
I know that romance is a draw, especially in the YA genre, but I felt like that was a cop out for this series. I would never have read this series if I hadn’t read reviews stating how much deeper the story was.
I gave this series 4 out of 5 stars on Goodreads. I am in love with the characters and am eager to see them continue to grow and find their true selves. I am interested in where the magic plot line goes but in the end I am more concerned where each character ends up.
“A realization that even if you had discovered the future, it really didn’t change how you lived in the present.” (pg. 2)
“Rags to riches isn’t a story anyone wants to hear until it’s done.” (pg. 131)
“They were always walking away from him. But he never seemed able to walk away from them” (pg. 351)
Elena is a loner. She has one best friend. She is the product of a virgin birth, there is science behind it, just look it up. She has a secret crush on a girl she has never spoken to. Then things come crashing down around her. She witnesses her crush being shot, desperate to help she listens to the voices and heals her. Not a mark is left behind.
Then things really start to go crazy. The voices tell her the world is ending and it is up to her to save everyone. Elena is left wondering if it is okay to make such a monumental decision for herself let alone the whole world.
What I loved:
Shaun David Hutchinson is one of my favorite authors. I fell in love with We Are the Ants and At the Edge of the Universe. I quickly learned that he is an author who puts depth and life into his stories. I always feel uplifted and enlightened whenever I read his books and this one was no different.
One of the things I liked most about this book was that it followed a different formula that the other two. Both We are the Ants and At the Edge of the Universe had subtle magic to them. No one else but the main characters knew about the supernatural elements of what was going on. The supernatural elements were real for just the main characters.
In this one, the magic was right out there in the open. Everyone found out about Elena quickly and they believed her. She didn’t hide that she could heal people. Everyone knew what was going on, even if they didn’t know the finer points. I liked this element. Sometimes an author can get into a routine and books can feel the same, even if the message is different. Having everyone know about Elena made this book feel fresh and new.
I also loved the nods to the characters in We are the Ants and At the Edge of the Universe. I love that we are still in this same universe. The characters are thrown in a natural way. If you haven’t read the other two you wouldn’t know they were significant. They serve their purpose in the story but it is a fun easter egg for the reader as well.
The message of this book was about choices. Who has the right to make choices for others? What does making a choice mean? Choices are good and bad and that is okay. You can’t hide from choices because you are afraid of the consequences. Choices rule our lives and we have to find a way to make use of that.
I loved how we saw the idea of choice reflected in each of the characters. We saw how choices affected them, and those around them. I liked that we got the different angle of choices. Some understood the importance while others were as scared as Elena. I enjoyed this round look at the idea and how many different opinions are attached to the idea of making choices.
I enjoyed Elena’s journey. I liked how she was always going back and forth. She didn’t know what to do and that felt real. Just like Henry in We are the Ants, it felt natural to have this constant questioning of her decision. I felt a deep connection to her because of that. As an indecisive person, I could relate to her plight. I would also have a serious issue trying to figure out what was right and if “right” even existed in this situation.
As always Hutchinson provides a very diverse cast without feeling forced. Sometimes you can tell that diverse characters are included just to be diverse. All the characters in this book felt real and there for a reason. They weren’t there just to represent a culture or sexuality, there was no preaching about them. They were there because that who the story was about, period.
What I was just okay with:
While I loved the story I didn’t feel as connected to Elena as I have to past main characters. I also felt like some of the side characters weren’t as developed and deep as his side characters have been before. Not that it was bad, I just am used to a certain level from his other books. I still loved the story and the characters, I just noticed that I didn’t feel as connected to them as I have to his other characters in the past.
I actually liked Javi’s story arc the best. At first his character seems shallow and I thought I was going to detest him. I learned quickly that he was a seriously complicated young man. He was a teenager who was fighting what was around him. He showed how kids are being told one thing by friends, one thing by parents and one thing by society. I thought it was a great representation of how we forget what these kids are going through sometimes.
What I wished was different:
I can’t think of anything that really took me out of the story. The pace as good, the characters were alive and whole and it left me thinking.
Shaun David Hutchinson has a great way of taking a “fantasy” story and making it feel relevant to our everyday lives. I enjoy his take on life and the way his stories make me think. I gave this one four out of five stars on Goodreads. It is not my favorite of his but still a great read all the same.
“It’s easy to allow the world to collapse down to our own stories. To see ourselves at the central figure in the only story worth knowing and forget that every person we encounter is living their own, is the center of their own universe.” (pg. 12)
“Sometimes a person can believe a thing so hard that not even beating them over the head with facts will change their mind.” (pg. 42)
“We were each living our own story, and while some, like Mama, were fighting to change the narrative, others struggled to escape the circumstances of their past and the specter of their future, while a few had given up completely.” (pg. 47)
“Who got to determine the baseline for what was normal and what wasn’t, and who appointed them to make that decision?” (pg. 89) ( love this quote!)
“No one’s innocent, Elena. Not even the Cedric Diggory’s of the world.” (pg. 217) (This was a fantastic discussion that actually made me look at certain characters from Harry Potter differently. I adored this passage because of how enlightening it was!)
“Guess what happens when you don’t make a choice?
“Nothing. Maybe you don’t fuck anything up, but nothing gets better either.” (pg. 314) (Sums up the message of this story and how important it is for everyone to realize how important making a choice can be. They are scary but they are necessary).
“We can’t make choices for others.” (pg. 351)
Need a new house? Want an old lover back in your arms? Want to become a singer or actor? Need money, a good grade or new car? Simple, make a deal with a demon and you can have whatever you want. Of course, there is a catch. You will be asked to give up your arm, leg, hand or if you are really unlucky your heart.
Dee is a teenager whose life is complicated. She goes to a private school that is her safe place. Here she is safe from her alcoholic parents and her emotionally abusive father. Here she can try to find her way in life. Then she finds out her scholarship is ending and she is left with no choice but to make a deal. She has to stay in school and thus she gives up her heart.
She loses her heart for a short period of time and learns what is means to exist without it. She learns that something more is going on with those she joins called the “heartless.”. She also meets a strange boy who she finds stealing what has already been taken from her. In the end Dee has to find what courage means and what she wants out of life.
What I loved:
Dee was a great character. She was much deeper than I originally thought she would be. I had no idea what this story was truly going to be about. I thought it would be more about learning to love without a heart and what that could mean. In the end it was about Dee finding courage in herself.
Dee is a character that has been stepped on and downtrodden for a long time. Her father is emotionally abusive and she hides at her school. She wants her mom to help her but her mom has taken to alcohol to help her deal with their reality. In the end Dee has to find her own courage. She has to find a way to stand on her own two feet. I liked the progression of her journey.
Dee becomes stronger in a very real way. She faces the trials around herself and she finds how she can fight. She starts unsure of herself and then starts to find that her opinion matters.
I also really liked James’s character. At first her seemed like a punk and I thought he was going to be a one-note character. Early though we realize there is something else to him. He has his own issues and wants. His character didn’t grow as much as evolve. I started with one opinion of him and ended with a completely different thought about him. I felt his journey was more of an evolution for the reader than for his character specifically.
I also loved the ending. I won’t go into detail as to not spoil it, but it was the ending the book deserved. Too many times these YA love stories can have a neat and unrealistic ending. This book ended as it should have ended. It felt right and left things in a encouraging place.
What I was just okay with:
All of the “heartless” characters, literally have no heart. They can’t feel their heats. It is gone but I felt like we didn’t see any real consequences of that. Dee talked about not feeling her heartbeat and not hearing it in her ears. Nothing more though. There was little to no discussion what is meant to live without a heart.
The story was more about the demon’s mission and why he created heartless when no one else would. I liked the story but I wished we could have had more about what living without a heart meant. Do you feel love the same? Is that a brain thing or does that come from the physical heart? Can you die in the normal sense of the word? Are you actually living if your heart isn’t beating? These are things I wished we would have explored more in the story.
What I wished was different:
I enjoyed the story but some of the writing threw me out of the story. The writing was very repetitive at times. The author would state that Dee was sending a text message, give us the body of the text and then end the paragraph with, “she texted.” We know she texted, she was just texting!
Or there was a part later in the book where we are told Dee has a backpack on. Then we are told that same thing about four more times throughout the next few paragraphs. The backpack never moved or did anything, it was just in her character description over and over again.
Description is good but there is no need to say the same thing over and over again. You have to trust the readers to pay attention and pick up on what is happening with a character. If an object moves and becomes important than mentioning it again is fine. If she gets interrupted while texting and then goes back to texting mentioning it again is fine. But if nothing changes, then it throws the reader out of the story. I felt myself getting a bit irritated at times because of this element.
The story was fast paced with a well-paced love story. The story came to a satisfying conclusion. I had fun reading it and I was glad it came in the book subscription box. In the end I gave it 3.5 stars on Goodreads.
“You get what you asked for.” – pg. 46
“….I like to think that I was the one who made the choices that brought me to this moment.” (pg. 128)
“I just want to matter.” (pg. 162).