Bone Season:A book reievew

Book: The Bone Season (The Bone Season #1)

Author/ Authoress: Samantha Shannon

The book (and the author) made headlines when Bloomsbury signed a six figure deal with debut 21-year-old authoress, Samantha Shannon, for The Bone Season series. Now everyone says that Samantha Shannon is the next J K Rowling. But can her books really live up to all the hype?

Cover: 1/5

The Bone Season (The Bone Season, #1)

Was the cover supposed to signify something? Well if it did, I missed the memo. And I definitely wasn’t able to tell just by looking at it.  So then it’s not really a meaningful cover, is it? It’s not pretty either. After reading the book, I can think of hundreds of more meaningful and prettier covers that could have been used! Sorry (actually, I’m not), but the cover receives only 1/5.

Plot: 5/5

(taken from Goodreads.com)

It is the year 2059. Several major world cities are under the control of a security force called Scion. Paige Mahoney works in the criminal underworld of Scion London, part of a secret cell known as the Seven Seals. The work she does is unusual: scouting for information by breaking into others’ minds. Paige is a dreamwalker, a rare kind of clairvoyant, and in this world, the voyants commit treason simply by breathing.

But when Paige is captured and arrested, she encounters a power more sinister even than Scion. The voyant prison is a separate city—Oxford, erased from the map two centuries ago and now controlled by a powerful, otherworldly race. These creatures, the Rephaim, value the voyants highly—as soldiers in their army.

Paige is assigned to a Rephaite keeper, Warden, who will be in charge of her care and training. He is her master. Her natural enemy. But if she wants to regain her freedom, Paige will have to learn something of his mind and his own mysterious motives.

The Bone Season introduces a compelling heroine—a young woman learning to harness her powers in a world where everything has been taken from her. It also introduces an extraordinary young writer, with huge ambition and a teeming imagination. Samantha Shannon has created a bold new reality in this riveting debut.

I really do love the premise of this book. The idea of a dystopian world caught my attention immediately (you know how much I love the dystopias) and then the fact that our protagonist was part of the criminal underworld further fascinated me (more about that in characters). This book is high in fantasy elements but Samantha Shannon mixes it in with real world history and even more realistic human characteristics. (For me, at least) This book was totally fresh and new! Although I worry if the plotline is rich enough for Samantha Shannon to stretch it out over seven books. I foresee a couple of filler books. Hopefully Samantha Shannon will prove me wrong.

Characters: 4.5/5

Let me start with the MC. What do you expect from a girl embroiled in a crime syndicate? Her being a total bad-ass, maybe? But Paige isn’t. Not really. Sure, she has a big name – the  ‘dream walker’ but she isn’t the kind of girl who’ll kill and use her powers mercilessly. Paige cares a lot for her fellow human beings. Especially the weak and the helpless. She helps them out and tries to protect them. (Although at times, the characters she tries to help out are really annoying.)So she’s neither completely badass nor completely  weak. She’s realistic. She’s smart, but still makes a few careless mistakes. Again, realistic. It was easy to empathize with her.

The members of the Seven Seals, Paige’s gang, were very well-developed. Though, they don’t have large roles in the novel (hopefully, we’ll see more of them in the next few books). through Paige’s dreams we learn about each of their characteristics and quirks. I think this is one of the few times, introducing characters via dreams have actually worked.

That’s not to say the characterization in this book is flawless, though. Maybe it’s just me but I feel that Paige judges too quickly. Almost half the book is spent in her making judgements, getting proof that her judgements are false and then refusing to look past her biases anyways. Another thing that annoyed me was her devotion to her ‘boss’. J is neither a good character nor a kind one. Yet our MC who is wise in (almost) all else, panders to each of his whims…because he scares her and perhaps even more unhealthily, she feels that she ‘owes him’ .

The Warden: For majority of the book, we can’t get a read on him – at all. I remember he’s described as being emotionless, unreadable, etcetera etcetera. The only thing we knew about him for sure, was that he was engaged to Madam White Witch and he didn’t treat Paige as badly as he could have (although he treated her badly enough). So when he starts demanding trust in the book, I definitely didn’t want Paige to give it to him. In fact when she refused to give him an inch, I was like-

Of course, later in the book we find out that the Warden has many layers, he hates his fiancé, blah blah blah. But it was too late in the book for me to change my mind about him. And definitely too early for the romance.

Nashira: She’s like the typical Wicked Witch. She’s power-hungry, cruel and very, very menacing. I usually don’t hate the villains in books, but I made an exception for Nashira. Somebody pour water on her, already.

Romance:2/5

Samantha writes amazingly deep and passionate romantic scenes. It’s too bad they’re wasted on such horrible characters. Well not horrible characters exactly, but characters who are horrible together. The romance kicks in towards the very end of the book. Between two characters who don’t trust each other. With good reason- one of them was the other’s slave. And the slave spent most of the book hating her ‘owner’. Does this sound like the beginning of a beautiful new romance to you? If you’re anything close to sane, then your answer should be a resounding no. In my humble opinion, the book would have been a thousand times better without the introduction of a senseless and unhealthy romance.

Worldbuilding:2/5

Oh god! Do you want the good news first or the bad. Let’s start with the bad: Samantha infodumps in the clumsiest way possible. The infodumping takes so much away from the plot. For the first 100 pages or so, we’re treated to an intense study on the history and culture of London’s Sciron and then on the Rephiam’s . I felt like an anthropologist trying to dig my way through all the complicated terms and nonsensical slang. As Paige would say

There are certain things in life that you never forget. Things that dig deep, things that nest in the hadal zone.”

The infodumping in this book scarred me. Whichever book I review next, will probably get a better rating than it deserves in Worldbuilding just for not being like The Bone Season.

But the good news is that once you get to the 50% mark, there is no more new information to be dumped on you. Once you get to the 50% mark, you can enjoy an intense story and plot without trying to muddle out what all the words mean.

Plotholes:2/5

The relationship between

  1. Paige and her ‘boss’
  2. Paige and the Warden

Sufficient to say, she needs to find more peaceful, healthier relationships.

Overall Rating:3/5

I might have been a little bit unfair with this book. I had high expectations for it. I really shouldn’t have bought into all that hype but the truth is, I did and I can’t take it back now. The Plot and the characters were amazing. But the Romance and the Worldbuilding severely detracted from the experience. Maybe if Samantha Shannon hadn’t been touted as the next J K Rowling (the bar was set unfairly high) and if the romance hadn’t been in the book at all, then this book may have gotten a full 5/5. But that’s not the case. So it merely get’s a 3/5.

Rating a book

This is how I rate the books I read:

Cover and Title

The old adage ‘Never judge a book by it’s cover’ probably comes to mind but the truth is, the cover is the first thing that is judged. And authors know it too. That’s why the cover is the first thing that is released right after the title is. And as soon as the cover is released the book gets a barrage of comments, guesses and votes by the reader. Pictures capture the average human’s mind so much more quickly and effectively than a page of writing ever will.

That’s why in my reviews, the cover appears right after the title and the name of the author/authoress. But why do I rate book covers? And on what    basis?

 First impressions are the last impressions.

  And nowhere is this truer than in the book world. If the book cover’s dull,boring,ugly or just plain weird, chances are I’m not going to even pick the book up. In the case of a book, a picture is worth much more than a thousand words. The average book consists of much more than a thousand words. And for most people (me included), if the cover isn’t beautiful, they’ll never give the text a chance.

But a cover has to be a description of the content inside. In a post-apocalyptic book which is run over by zombies, the last thing that should be on the cover is a pretty princess in a sparkling ball gown. Yes, I’ve actually seen covers like this! Not only is it pure stupid, its misleading. If you have to rely on a pretty but inaccurate cover to lure your readers in then it doesn’t matter how good your book is;You lead them there on false pretenses and your rating is going to suffer for it.

So my book cover rating is based on how pretty it is and on how much it delivers.

Plot:

The plot section of my review is divided into two parts-the plot premise and whether the plot premise is actually a part of the book.

So what kind of premise do I want? I’m not looking for miracles here. I want a fresh and new idea, a promise of some juicy adventure and a good non-cheesy introduction to a book that leaves me curious and eager to read the book. On second thoughts, maybe it would be easier to ask for a miracle. Anyways these things account for a measly 2 out of five stars. More important to me, is how in-context a plot premise is.

Too often have I seen an amazing premise completely wasted because the author/authoress focuses too much on the action. Or maybe he/she’ll focus too much on the romance or the world building. My point is, the amazing story premise is just wasted because the author/authoress wasn’t able to balance  all the aspects of a story. Or maybe, he/she did the opposite. Maybe they focused too little on the innovative and brilliant part of the plot that drew me in in the first place and instead focused on the dull and the mundane parts that everybody’s written about a million times.

Characters:

The characters can make or break a book. Sometimes they can do both at the same time (think Elizabeth Norris’ Cracked). What readers want (or at least I do) are strong, independent, intelligent characters who are relatable and admirable at the same time. When I say relatable, I don’t mean a whiny,stupid (sorry, but its true) little girl who doesn’t know what’s going on but complains about her perfectly ‘average’ appearance anyways. And when I say admirable, I don’t mean a perfect Mary-Sue who’s smart,kind, beautiful, humble, talented and gifted at the same time. No, just no.

Please remember that the characters have to be like real people. By relatable I mean that they have to be the sort of people you could imagine sitting next to in the bus or passing by on the streets. They can have some character quirks but they can’t completely be made out of character quirks. By admirable, I mean they have to be the sort of person who reminds us of the best humanity has to offer. But ultimately they have to remain human too (I mean this figuratively not literally. Even if they’re vampires or animals, they still need to be somewhat ‘human’.)

The same rules apply for supporting characters. Just because they’re background characters for this story doesn’t mean they’re always background characters. Supporting characters are real characters too. They deserve to be more than 2-dimensional. There are no small characters in books, only small parts.

Romance:

And here is where most young adult books fail. A good test for this would be to take away all the romance and examine the story afterwards. Let me try with a few well-known Young Adult books.

Twilight- if you take the love story out of this book, it becomes a story in which a girl with little self-preservation moves to a ten where it rains. A lot. Boring

The Hunger Games- without the romance, it’s a book about a evil dystopian government which hosts a Hunger Games every year. In the Hunger Games 24 children fight to their deaths until only one is left. The winner earns fame and riches for the rest of their lives.see what I mean? Even without the romance, it’s still pretty interesting.

I’m not completely against romance. I can enjoy it in small, good quality doses. What I mean to say is that the romance should never become the major plot of the book. A little romance in the background is great but you know its going to be a horrible story when the protagonist thinks something like this. ‘I think I love guy XYZ. He’s so sweet and charming. He really loves me too and he shows it in the cutest of ways. But wait, what about guy ABC? He says he loves me too. He’s a bit creepy but he’s so hawt. I can’t believe he loves me! But I can’t cheat with him on guy XYZ. He’s so sweet and charming. He really loves me too and he shows it in the cutest of ways…’ and on and on. That kind of love is unhealthy. Besides, its repetitive and boring to read about.

Action:

Some books have action and some books don’t. It would be unfair of me to discriminate between such books. Even though I’m the sort of girl who loves action, one of my favorite books Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell. And it has a distinct lack of fight scenes. In fact, it would be weird if contemporary books like Rainbow Rowell’s had action scenes.

But I’m a discerning person. If there are fight scenes, i want quality ones. No ‘he cut him with a knife’ or ‘he screamed’. I want something…a little more descriptive.

Show me; Don’t tell me.

World building:

The main rules here are:

1.) be  creative
2.) don’t infodump

And I use these as my criterion for rating the worldbuilding. At the end of the book, I want to remember the world. Use whatever means you have to. If you want to use cute and innovative terms like Scott Westerfeld did in Uglies, go ahead. If you want to create a creepy government like Marie Lu did in Legend, be my guest. If the book’s consistent with the above rules, it’ll get a high rating from me for sure.

Plotholes:

If there are any unhealthy messages conveyed in the book or any gaping flaws (holes!) in the logic of the plot, I’ll mention it here. Nothing ruins the reading experience more than plotholes. If it seems like the author/authoress is withholding essential/too much information from their readers for the sake of the sequel, I’ll complain about that too.  Depending on how bad this is, I’ll give this section a rating between 1-5.

Overall rating:

In the book-reviewing world, not all criterion are equal but some are more equal than others.

I don’t just take the average of all the above ratings. No, that would be too easy. There are some things which are more important to me. For example, I care about the plot, characters and world building more than I care about the plotholes and action. And I care infinitely more about the plotholes and action than I do about the romance and book cover. Its all adjusted for in my system.

How do you rate and rank your books

Throne of Glass: A Book Review

Throne of Glass: A book review

Book: Throne of Glass
Author/Authoress: Sarah Mass

Book Cover:5/5

Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass, #1)            Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass, #1)

I feel that the first is a more accurate representation of the book. We have a pretty but mysterious-looking girl in the foreground and a forbidding but beautiful ice city (it’s actually supposed to be glass, but it looks more like an ice city) in the background. Yes, there is some action in this book but most of this book deals with court intrigue, ball gowns and flirting instead of the hardcore action that the second book suggests. Although they’ve kind of gotten that wrong, because like any girl with long hair knows, long hair is impossible to keep down while doing anything-much less fighting.

Plot: 3/5

After serving out a year of hard labor in the salt mines of Endovier for her crimes, 18-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien is dragged before the Crown Prince. Prince Dorian offers her her freedom on one condition: she must act as his champion in a competition to find a new royal assassin. Her opponents are men-thieves and assassins and warriors from across the empire, each sponsored by a member of the king’s council. If she beats her opponents in a series of eliminations, she’ll serve the kingdom for three years and then be granted her freedom.

Celaena finds her training sessions with the captain of the guard, Westfall, challenging and exhilirating. But she’s bored stiff by court life. Things get a little more interesting when the prince starts to show interest in her… but it’s the gruff Captain Westfall who seems to understand her best.

Then one of the other contestants turns up dead… quickly followed by another.

Can Celaena figure out who the killer is before she becomes a victim? As the young assassin investigates, her search leads her to discover a greater destiny than she could possibly have imagined

I had my misgivings on the plot. For one thing the names were horrible. Calaena, Dorian, Nehemia and Chaol are the kind of names you would find in a disgusting medieval love story. And to an extent, I guess this was a medieval love story but it had some twists.
Another thing that made me leave this book untouched for so long, was that it looked eerily similar to The Selection by Kiera Cass (and we all know how well that worked out). I mean, a Prince and a guard in the same castle as love interests. (love triangles- you can never escape them). I got a flashback and it definitely wasn’t the good type. But an assassin- that’s an interesting,cool premise. And a ex-prisoner? That’s even cooler!

And the mysterious murders? Something told me nothing ordinary was behind them. Yes, we have another paranormal romance on our hands here. I’d skip the romance if I could (in this book) but the paranormal in this is undoubtedly good.

Characters:3/5

Sarah Mass gets a lot of flak for creating Calenea but what we need to remember is that Throne of Glass is in first person. Yes, she may be inhumanly (that was a major spoiler for the nex book, by the way) beautiful and  good at everything-fighting, dancing, music, etc. but it’s all in Calaena’s point of view. And she’s something of an unreliable narrator. Sara Maas has created nothing close to a Mary-Sue. Calaena herself has admitted that she’s shallow and a little bit cowardly. And from her thought’s, we’re able to derive that she’s very vain and a bit of an egotist. She knows she’s pretty and she’s not too shy to use her beauty to get what she wants even if her methods may be a little bit…morally lacking. So either you really like her, or you really don’t. There’s no happy in-between. Maybe this quote from the book will help you make up your mind. Beware though, she acts like this All the time.

“Nor had she missed when they zigzagged between levels, even though the building was a standard grid of hallways and stairwells. As if she’d lose her bearings that easily.

She might have been insulted if he wasn’t trying so hard

 

Chaol is constantly on his guard whenever Calenea is around. And for the first part of the book I’m just as intrigued and annoyed with him as Calenea is. But as Calenea spends more and more time with him without slipping-up (ahem, killing someone), he starts to relax some in her presence. And then we get to know more about him and his life. He’s the strong,stoic type but his back-story (to me) is kind of boring. Maybe I let my expectations get too high, but Chaol was one character that disappointed me.

Dorian seems to be a flirt at the beginning of the book. But he’s witty and not boring. Like all royalty in books who become love interests, he’s actually interested in the protagonist and not a stuck-up snot. Meh. I didn’t have much hopes from him so he didn’t disappoint me much. But neither did he surprise me.

Nehemia….Ah, she’s probably my favourite character in the book. Rebellious, beautiful, mysterious, exotic and intelligent- the book might have actually gone better if she was the MC. But her friendship with Calaena was good  enough for me. Both are mischevious and get along well.

The Villain

About 100 pages into the book, you’ll easily be able to tell who the villian is. I won’t spoil those 100 pages for you though by telling you who exactly the villain is. Just know that the foreshadowing is not subtle at all. At one point, Maas does try to steer the reader in another direction, but it’s just a ploy.

Romance: 4/5

I’m usually against love triangles but the love triangle in this is a surprisingly good one. Both guys actually have a chance and both are very different from each other. On one side we have the sweet, funny Prince Dorian and on the other we have the tough, strong leader of the Guards, Chaol. Despite their weird names, they’re actually pretty believable characters. My main problem with the romance in the book was it’s quantity. There was too much of it! Although really, I shouldn’t have let the assassin-plot fool me; This is a harlequin teen novel and I should have expected all the romance that usually comes with these books.

Worldbuilding: 2/5

For the first half of the book or so, I’m almost bored with the world. We have generic, boring lands ruled by a just as generic, boring tyrant. I start to sit up and take notice when Wyrdmarks are mentioned and so are portals. Quite frankly, the introduction of Queen Elena and the history of Ilrea just bored me. So the Worldbuilding in this just failed. It’s been a week since I read the book and I can barely remember anything about this book’s world.

Writing: 4/5

It’s in first person so a lot of people will dismiss this book after a few pages but once you got past that,the sailing was smooth.  It was a quick, breezy, fluffy read with minimal weird and awkward sentences. The banter between the characters alternaed between cute, flirty, profound and witty.

“She moaned into her pillow. “Go away. I feel like dying.”
“No fair maiden should die alone,” he said, putting a hand on hers. “Shall I read to you in your final moments? What story would you like?”
She snatched her hand back. “How about the story of the idiotic prince who won’t leave the assassin alone?”
“Oh! I love that story! It has such a happy ending, too–why, the assassin was really feigning her illness in order to get the prince’s attention! Who would have guessed it? Such a clever girl. And the bedroom scene is so lovely–it’s worth reading through all of their ceaseless banter!”

Calaena’s internal monologue was hilarious to read too.

Plotholes:3/5

This book doesn’t suffer from plotholes. But that’s not to say that it’s perfect. In fact, it’s skewed in the other way. Everything is just so obvious. We don’t have to make great mental leaps to figure out the ending.But there were no plotholes so I am giving this book a 3/5 in this category.

Overall Rating:3.5/5

A badass heroine with boring love interests. An interesting plot premise with terrible world building. Very cool writing with very unsubtle hints. The second book was better (I know from experience) and so were the prequels (But I suggest you wait until you’re done with this book to read them. Else you’ll be really disappointed with this book. ) but I’m not rating those books. This book gets a three because I was interested enough to read the sequel but not interested enough to re-read the book.

About Me

ABOUT ME

PLOT HOLES BE GONE

akanshaeditHere are the basics: My name is Akansha Gupta and I’m a high school senior.
I blog (obviously). I write book-reviews and poetry.  My opinions are sprinkled pretty miscallaneously.

If you want to ask me a question, or if you just want to get in touch with me, send me a private message using this form.

Or go ahead and send me a tweet, using the side bar below.

Disclaimer:

Honestly, I wish I had the time and inclination to review each and every book I read but unfortunately I don’t. I review:
  1.  Books that made an impression on me.  It might have been a good one or it might have been a bad one, but the book was memorable.
  2. Advanced Reader Copies or requests I accept from a publisher or author.  I feel obliged to.
 I do not accept (not that I’m offered) any compensation for any of these reviews.
The blurbs and cover-pictures in my reviews are copied from Goodreads.

Extras: A book review

Extras (Uglies, #4)

Book: Extras (Uglies #4)
Author/Authoress:Scott Westerfeld

Cover:2/5

I know most people love Scott’s cover but fro some reason I just don’t. Maybe it’s because they offer so little information about the book or maybe it’s because I just find the half-face view of pretty girls boring.  Whatever it is, I have to say ‘No’ to the cover.

Characters: 3/5

I know Scott wanted to create a character who was believable and imperfect but Aya Fuse is almost identical to what Tally Youngblood was like in Uglies. Though she’s not as much of a rule breaker (that lasted for what, 20 pages?) as Scott’s previous heroine, she is pretty obsessed with achieving fame just like Tally was obsessed with becoming ‘pretty’.  She’s willing to do anything to do so. Even betray her friends by selling them out. By the middle of the story she feels remorse an starts second guessing her plan. So who am I talking about? Tally Yongbood or Aya Fuse? Even I couldn’t tell. Would it have killed Scott Westerfeld to make his MC’s more unique? Then by some rare occurence they betray their friends (although their friends don’t feel that way) and end up getting their fame/beauty anyways. Aya’s self absorbed, manipulative and petty to say the least.

The love interest is pretty cool though. His name is Frizz and he’s gotten a brain lesion to prevent him from lying-at all. He has to say what he thinks and he can’t even ‘truth-slant’. His reason for doing so make him more personable and human. Even though he can’t even say white lies ( A tip for Aya- don’t ask him if a dress makes you look fat), he manages to be sweet and charming throughout the whole time. Sometimes his need to speak the truth adds a bit of comic relief to the story.

Hiro is Aya’s elder brother and their relationship is amazing. Aya calls him a snob often (pot meet kettle) but he’s always’s willing to give her advice (even if it’s bad advice). He teases Aya mercilessly but is still the awesome over-protective brother that every girl has wanted some time in her life (I still do!)

Ren is Hiro’s best friend and he seems to have a limited role in this book. Initially, I thought he had a crush on Aya but alas, it wasn’t mentioned anywhere in the book. He seems to exist for te sole purpose of helping with hovercams and he doesn’t say much either (Scott says this is because he speaks Japanese, not english). Yet he still goes on the adventure with the whole crew.

Tally, Shay and David (the cast from the previous books) seem so different from what they seemed to be in the previous books. Tally’s unstable,angry and hard to relate to. A lot of people said that they hated Tally’s portrayal in Extra’s and that it was not at all true to her character but I disagree. I think she’s intentionally portrayed that way. How we view ourselves is sometimes completely different from how others view us.

The other characters are just background characters. I mena, they literally seem to sink into the background. Half the time, I almost forgot they were there at all.


Plot:  4/5
(Taken from goodreads.com)
It’s a few years after rebel Tally Youngblood took down the uglies/pretties/specials regime. Without those strict roles and rules, the world is in a complete cultural renaissance. “Tech-heads” flaunt their latest gadgets, “kickers” spread gossip and trends, and “surge monkeys” are hooked on extreme plastic surgery. And it’s all monitored on a bazillion different cameras. The world is like a gigantic game of “American Idol.” Whoever is getting the most buzz gets the most votes. Popularity rules.

As if being fifteen doesn’t suck enough, Aya Fuse’s rank of 451,369 is so low, she’s a total nobody. An extra. But Aya doesn’t care; she just wants to lie low with her drone, Moggle. And maybe kick a good story for herself.

Then Aya meets a clique of girls who pull crazy tricks, yet are deeply secretive of it. Aya wants desperately to kick their story, to show everyone how intensely cool the Sly Girls are. But doing so would propel her out of extra-land and into the world of fame, celebrity…and extreme danger. A world she’s not prepared for.

I liked the premise of this story better than the Uglies one. Is there something wrong with me if I find a fame-driven society more interesting than one in which everyone’s pretty? I don’t think so. But the same pitfalls which were present in Uglies, Pretties and Specials were here too. The main characters are so similar (more under Characters) that I want to bash my head in after reading about them.

The fame-driven society was pure genius n Scot’s part but the plot above is a little misleading. Aya <u> does </u> care about being extra. She does everything she can to stop being an extra. She befriends the Sly Girls and secretly films them- not because she wants to show the world how cool they are but because she wants to become famous.

Romance: 2/5

Yep, another insta-love. It’s made worse by the fact that the guy’s a stalker and always seems to see the girl at her worst moments but loves her anyways. But on the plus-side, she doesn’t need him to save her and he’s radically honest. I find the radical honesty cringe-worthy and cheesy at times but most of the time it actually helps the plot quite a bit.

World Building: 5/5

One very cool thing was that the city decides to award resources to people based on their reputation/fame. This is done by everybody being given their own feed (think, blog!) once .  Every-time someone’s feed is watched, or name is mentioned, their rank is improved and they’re allowed more luxuries. This creates an unequally balanced society in which the people with the highest ranks get huge mansions, amazing clothes, cool gadgets and generally, a much easier life. The rank is called your “face.”. Face ranks of a couple hundred thousand (like Aya’s at the beginning of the book)  mean that you’re practically a nobody while face ranks of twenty-thousand are pretty good. Face ranks in the 1000 are great while a face rank in the top hundred is  so high it’s practically unattainable. People can also gain “merits” by doing good deeds, like finish homework on time, working hard, volunteering to babysit,etc. One thing I didn’t understand was how citizens of the city no longer required merits after they got a high face rank. Does having a high face rank automatically entail you get a large number of merits in the same way that celebrities are entitled to huge amounts of money?

If there’s one thing I don’t begrudge Scott for keeping the same, it’s the gadgetry. As for the new gadgets, I loved Moggle (He’s not just a camera; he’s a real character!) and the terms kickers and surge-monkeys are illustrated so well. I love the concept of hover boards running on solar power and requiring metal deposits to work. The Japanese theme for the city works really well. Paper Crane chains, Cherry blossoms and the respectful chan’s and sen’s for people with a high rank- I loved it all. Maybe it’s a kiddie-pool version of real japanese culture, but it fit the mould this book was trying to create just like the entertainment did. The entertainment in the city is still as shallow and frivolous as ever, but that’s the whole point anyways.
Scott keeps inserting  a few minor details here and there (like Nana’s birthday party in which she invites the top 1000 faces) I’m almost certain this is what  prevents this part of the book from feeling repetitive and keeps it so fun to read.
Well if you go back and count how many times I used the word love, I’m sure you won’t be surprised that the World Building gets a solid 4 on 5.

Writing:
Scott’s style is fun and breezy to read. I guess that’s what made me never give up on either of the four books in the series. His innovative terms like vex-making, fun-making are very ‘bubbly’.

Plotholes:1/5

Major spoilers here-I think the most major pitfall in the story was the lack of villain? What, no villain? How can you have a story like that?  In the end, the character whom we thought was a villain turns out to be the good guy. How can you have a story without a villain? It’s like having a cheesecake without cheese or a unicorn without a horn. It’s all wrong because SOMETHING is missing.  I haven’t even heard of a story without a villain ever since my  preschool days where Barney and Telletubbies (did I spell that right?) were all about sunshine, rainbows and frolicking little bunnies. If there’s no villainous character, then there has to be a villainous system or something. A protagonist and not antoganist a book does not make.  Rant end’s here but beware, the spoilers don’t.

Also (this is a classic Scott Westerfeld mistake) why is it that the heroine gets the best of two worlds? She gets fame, and hey! bonus points, she doesn’t even have to betray her friends. It’s unfair because in real life, stuff doesn’t happen like this. Plots to destroy your city never magically appear when you’re just searching for a reason to publish a video about your friends without their permission (completely violating their rights to privacy). And plots of evil people who plan to destroy the world do not get magically replaced with harmless earth-loving freaks who are planning to save the planet. It just doesn’t happen! End of spoilers.

The fluctuating language barrier was also a cause of distress for me. At points, it seems almost insurmountable but then dialogue between the english-speaking and japanese-speaking characters happens so freely and easily. It comes back up towards the end when speaking becomes a must.

Overall Rating:2.5

I think I would have liked this book better if I hadn’t read Uglies, Pretties and Specials. Other than the constant references to the ‘mind rain’, this book can stand alone pretty well. But since I had read the previous three in the series, I felt kind of ripped off; I felt like Westerfeld had copied a lot from his previous books without adding anything new to the formula. This is an interesting read if you haven’t read the first books in the series and if you never plan too (because I can imagine getting the whole copped out feeling  goes both ways). So for the first (and hopefully the last) time ever, I’m gonna recommend the last book in the series to you <u>first</u>.

Steelheart: A book Review

Steelheart (Reckoners, #1)

Book: Steelheart (Reckoners #1)
Author/Authoress:Brandon Sanderson

Cover:2/5
The cover made me think of cheap sci-fi fics. Overdramatic and cheesy. We see that something’s blasted a hole through a metal sheet. Through that hole is a guy facing off something that looks like a cartoonish trash converter. Needless to say, I wasn’t a fan of the cover.

Characters: 4/5

I like how the protagonist was a major geek.Brandon often refers to the fact that David had made the Epics his life study. If knowledge really was the only type of power, David would be the most powerful person in the book. But forewarned is forearmed. The sheer depth and volume of information David has on hand   turns him into a capable and intelligent character. But don’t go around mistaking him for a super genius.  His awkwardness around the love interest and his horrendous metaphors (like a brick made of oatmeal) offer the much needed comic relief.

The Reckoners are an organization dedicated to killing Epics. And each member we meet has their eccentricities and quirks. Cody with his Irish affectations is hilarious and his banter with … everyone is hilarious. Abraham and the prof are wise and mysterious but each in their own ways. The group meshes well together and you can see that (in some cases, really deep down) they all care for each other.

“I trust you with their lives,’ Prof said, still writing, ‘and them with yours. Don’t betray that trust, son. Keep your impulses in check. Don’t just act because you can; act because it’s the right thing to do.

Steelheart is the Villain (notice how I’ve capitialized the V?)From the very beginning of the book we see his terrifying power and exactly how ruthless he can be.  Most of the plot – especially its mystery – is spent on figuring out what exactly could lead to his defeat, but finding this weakness feels impossible. At the end, you’re guaranteed to have a ‘Duh! That was so obvious!’ moment.


Plot:  2/5
(Taken from goodreads.com)
Ten years ago, Calamity came. It was a burst in the sky that gave ordinary men and women extraordinary powers. The awed public started calling them Epics.
But Epics are no friend of man. With incredible gifts came the desire to rule. And to rule man you must crush his wills.
Nobody fights the Epics… nobody but the Reckoners. A shadowy group of ordinary humans, they spend their lives studying Epics, finding their weaknesses, and then assassinating them.
And David wants in. He wants Steelheart—the Epic who is said to be invincible. The Epic who killed David’s father. For years, like the Reckoners, David’s been studying, and planning—and he has something they need. Not an object, but an experience.
He’s seen Steelheart bleed. And he wants revenge.

Honestly, I think the plot’s pretty refreshing as far as plots go. I’ve seen the same dystopian ideas repeated over and over again with their authors trying to claim that they’re ‘original’ but this really is. And the plot actually makes sense. We don’t have characters jumping from one place to another because it’s ‘convenient’. Like I said, it actually makes sense!  Random human beings being upgraded with super powers? That’s new (for a dystopian book; not for a comic book) . Them abusing their powers? Sensible. Them having powers (i.e. the powers don’t manifest is certain scenarios)? That’s a new, sensible plot!

Romance: 2/5
Bad news- It’s an insta love. Good news- the characters don’t realize it. Good news- the girl’s capable, intelligent and seems like an actual person. Bad news- the guy spends the entire book lusting over her. Ew. As you can see, the romance was kind of hit and miss for me. The characters were pretty good but I just wasn’t seeing the chemistry. So it’s a goo thing that I don’t read Young-Adult fiction for the chemistry.

Technical Terms/World building: 3/5

I wasn’t able to keep up with all the terms described in the book. The sheer volume is just too much! David uses a lot of strange terms to classify and categorize the superheroes (epics)  But…(there’s always a but) it didn’t matter too much; I got the basics and I could understand the rest by context. If you’re the kind of person who is driven crazy when there’s a single term on the page you don’t know the exact definition for, you’re going to be flipping back and forth a lot.

On the other hand the world that was built was supremely awesome. In fact I’d say that it pulled up this rating by a whole star!

Plotholes:2/5

David seemed to be quite blind where ever Meghan was concerned. She did a lot of weird things that he never seemed to notice. I wasn’t that surprised by the end of the book; after all, I had figured it all out ages ago. But David was surprised, too surprised for someone who had been given so many clues. (And now when you read this, you’ll be keeping your eyes peeled for the clues)

In addition, David seems too trustful of the Reckoners. Yes, they’re an organisation which has killed super-villains but in the end they’re human. David doesn’t seem to realize that they’re not the idea l he has built up in his head until the end.

Action: 5/5
The action in this book is amazing. But then I guess you’ld expect it to be since it’s a book which targets teenager guys. The weapons are cool and the fight scenes are even cooler. I could literally imagine what they looked like. They were pretty epic (pun-intended). Even more epic, there were a lot of them. I think I got an adrenalin rush just by reading this book.

Overall Rating:4

Action, a plot and awesome characters? What more could a reader want? How about less plotholes and an easier world building? Yes, I liked the book but I felt there was something missing. Maybe whatever was missing will be in the next few books.

Lips Touch: Three Times : A Book Review

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Book: Lips touch: three times Author/Authoress: Laini Taylor

Note: I know this book doesn’t fit into the dystopia genre at all. It fits into the paranormal romance one instead. I know, most of you-like me, immediately cringe away from the idea of paranormal romance. But I think that the ‘paranormal romance’ genre is somewhat unfairly criticized; The words ‘paranormal romance’ make us think of beautiful, sparkling vampires and hot werewolves who can shift at will and a insanely stupid but average in every other way heroine torn between loving both of  them. Ahem. I’m talking about Twilight. But Lips Touch: Three Times is not Twilight. And there are no love triangles or perfect guys (sorry, fairies) here. Or stupid, whiny heroines either. Instead there are calculating heartless goblins and demons. The heroines are surprisingly realistic with dreams and ambitions. I didn’t want to give this book a chance but I’m so glad I did. This book is dark, captivating, beautiful and so real at the same time. The main characters are relatable and their romance is heartbreakingly sad and pitiful at the same time.  Prepare yourself: these are not the Disney Fairytales. This is closer to the real stuff. No more happy endings, folks. These stories are tragically haunting and beautiful.

Cover:2/5  For a book as emotional and stirring as this one, the cover looks childish and tacky. I would have thought it was perfect for any other paranormal romance and I think that’s the crux of the problem; Lips Touch: Three Times is so much more. The gothic girl in the background conveys the message that it’s for young adult readers only. Not true, adults will get a lot out of this too.  For that matter, the title is a little misleading  too. Yes, the book is about lips touching (kissing) but not in the cheesy, romantic way that first comes to mind when we think of kisses. No, these kisses are dark, evil, corrupt and most of them are lust based instead of love based.

Plot:  5/5 (Taken from goodreads.com)  Three tales of supernatural love, each pivoting on a kiss that is no mere kiss, but an action with profound consequences for the kissers’ souls: Goblin Fruit In Victorian times, goblin men had only to offer young girls sumptuous fruits to tempt them to sell their souls. But what does it take to tempt today’s savvy girls? Spicy Little Curses A demon and the ambassador to Hell tussle over the soul of a beautiful English girl in India. Matters become complicated when she falls in love and decides to test her curse. Hatchling Six days before Esme’s fourteenth birthday, her left eye turns from brown to blue. She little suspects what the change heralds, but her small safe life begins to unravel at once. What does the beautiful, fanged man want with her, and how is her fate connected to a mysterious race of demons?

Characters: 4/5

“Kizzy wanted to be a woman who would dive off the prow of a sailboat into the sea, who would fall back in a tangle of sheets, laughing, and who could dance a tango, lazily stroke a leopard with her bare foot, freeze an enemy’s blood with her eyes, make promises she couldn’t possibly keep, and then shift the world to keep them. She wanted to write memoirs and autograph them at a tiny bookshop in Rome, with a line of admirers snaking down a pink-lit alley. She wanted to make love on a balcony, ruin someone, trade in esoteric knowledge, watch strangers as coolly as a cat. She wanted to be inscrutable, have a drink named after her, a love song written for her, and a handsome adventurer’s small airplane, champagne-christened Kizzy, which would vanish one day in a windstorm in Arabia so that she would have to mount a rescue operation involving camels, and wear an indigo veil against the stinging sand, just like the nomads. Kizzy wanted.”

I think this paragraph shows just how much Kizzy (the MC from the first story) wants to experience in life. You can tell that she’s a bit of a romantic and quite an adventurer.  She wants to be brave and confident and fall in love – goals every teenager in the world wants to achieve. And that makes her so relatable. If I put together a bucketlist of what I wanted to do in life, I doubt it would look exactly like this. But I can guarantee that the  same underlying hopes and ambitions would  be reflected in my bucketlist.

The second story deals with guilt, fear and teenage rebellion. Estalla is a lady who preserved the life of several children by cursing a girl name Anamique with a beautiful voice that would kill all who hear it. Anamique shows tenacity in restraining herself from ever using her weapon but falling in love makes her careless and hopeful enough to believe the curse is fake. A kiss is enough to make her go against everything she has been warned against from childhood to open her mouth and sing.  I didn’t relate to Ana as much as I related to Kizzy. But I did relate to Ana’s lover. He’s a cynical war-hero who has stopped believing in God but believes in Chance. He is driven insane by his love for Ana and at every opportunity tries cajoling her to speak. Somehow his bitter doubt in God makes him easier to relate to.

“James often wondered at the chain of flukes it must have taken to bring him through with his own life and limbs intact. Once he might have believed it to be the work of Providence but it seemed to him now that to thank God for his life would be to suggest God had shrugged off all the others flicked them away like cigarette butts by the thousands and that seemed like abominable conceit. James Dorsey took no credit for being alive. His higher power these days was Chance.”

In the third story we deal with a girl who has been on the run with her mother for fourteen years. Then suddenly she is captured by a beautiful wolf man- a demon. Strangely she is able to recognize him and remembers sharing a kiss with him. What he tells her, just blows her away. He tells her that she is sharing a soul with the woman who hurt her mother so much.

“But her name was Esmé. She was a girl with long, long, red, red hair. Her mother braided it. The flower shop boy stood behind her and held it in his hand. Her mother cut it off and hung it from a chandelier. She was Queen. Mazishta. Her hair was black and her handmaidens dressed it with pearls and silver pins. Her flesh was golden like the desert. Her flesh was pale like cream. Her eyes were blue. Brown.”

Romance: 3/5  The first story is less a romance and more of self discovery. The girl who has thought she was ugly for her whole life discovers that she’s beautiful in a less conventional way. After thrilling for an adventure for her whole life,she seizes the chance to kiss a goblin even when she knows that doing so could leave her a soulless husk.  She doesn’t kid herself by thinking that it’s love; She fully acknowledges it as lust. But that doesn’t stop her from doing the dangerous deed. I think this sums up the thrill and danger beautifully.

It was Kizzy’s first kiss, and maybe it was her last, and it was delicious.”

The second story is about a different kind of dangerous love- the forbidden-because-of-a-curse kind of love.

“Kissing can ruin lives. Lips touch sometimes teeth clash. New hunger is born with a throb and caution falls away. A cursed girl with lips still moist from her first kiss might feel suddenly wild like a little monsoon. She might forget her curse just long enough to get careless and let it come true. She might kill everyone she loves…”

The third story consists of  two separate love stories. One of them is about the quest of a demon to show his soulless ex-wife whose lost all his memories that they were once human too (via a kiss, of course). The other is a simpler, more innocent love between two fourteen . What makes this story so unique is that the first woman lived inside the other for fourteen years. Personally I prefer the second love story in this story but the other one is sensual and profound too.

Plotholes: 2/5 Laini Taylor seems to have almost made Lips Touch: Three Times a satire of love and romance. In the first story, am I the only one who noticed the hidden cautionary message of what exactly lust can do for a person’s self-preservation? In the second one, doesn’t anybody else notice what the notion of romance can do to a person’s common sense? In the third story there’s a quote that suggests how unhealthy love can be.

Mihai wished he could believe that his waiting was drawing to an end, but he was no fool. She might kill him for what he’d done, and he wouldn’t even blame her for it. It would be a poetic end to his long, mad life, and sometimes death didn’t sound bad at all, but simple and even a little sweet.

The whole book seems to have been made for mocking romance.

Overall Rating: 4  If you want several dark, sensuous, emotionally gripping not-quite-love-stories with paranormal aspects to them, you’ll live this book. Even if you don’t…well read it and you’ll remember the book anyway. It beautifully tells the ugly side of love.