This book fell victim to the hype for me—both positive and negative. I was honestly expecting amazing things from this book because it has, I thought, so many of the things I adore: dragons and riders where the dragons choose who they want based on merit, and a heroine that no one expects to survive. I love everything about that. But the hype train on this sold me on the idea that this was THE book I had been waiting for all year and, while it had a strong start and an exceptionally strong finish, I soon found the middle to be lackluster, to feel like it was slogging through a checklist of tropes that are better suited in YA novels, where this book definitely does NOT belong (not a dig at YA either, just saying).
“The Witch Finder” is a dystopian post-apocalyptic story where the America we once knew, and the world as a whole, has been practically destroyed when fragments of the moon crashed to earth, triggering a nuclear war. In the aftermath, the survivors went back to tribe-like societies, forgetting their history in order to survive. By the time the book starts, we are close to a thousand years after the apocalypse and are in the south of America where magic is real, and The Church has become God instead of the other way around. That’s where Malachi and his crew come in. They hunt down not only magic users (witches, that all tend to be women) but also heretics and people who go against The Church in a “free thinker” sort of vein. Malachi is not likeable to start, he’s not meant to be, as the whole story focuses on his transformation from staunch believer in The Church to a free thinker himself. I just don’t think his transformation was as complete as I would have liked.
“Knight in Paper Armor” is a dark dystopian novel set in the near future, where corporate greed and racism have completely taken over and divided up America (and I assume other countries but they’re never really talked about). We follow Billy, a young Jewish boy with incredible physic powers; able to take away the physical and emotional pain of those he touches, as well as mind controlling them if his darker tendencies get pushed too far. When Billy is finally allowed to leave the facility where he’s being tested on to attend school like a “normal” teen, he meets our female main character, Natalia. Natalia is an immigrant from Guatemala, a fact she has to hide, pretending to be from Mexico instead—though she faces a lot of bigotry for that, too. Billy and Natalia deal with extreme racism from practically the start, their world is brutal in every sense of the word, and the author is not shy about sharing their experiences in great detail. The topics covered in this sci-fi fantasy dystopian are important and very much apply to the world we live in today, but I do not think this book is appropriate for the audience it’s intended for….
I was pretty excited to read this one because so many of my friends and mutuals have loved it. Admittedly, I am late to the party (what else is new) but I really loved the premise of this YA utopia turned dystopian. Imagine a world where death and poverty and hunger and disease have all been eradicated. No one wants for anything and, when you get “too old” you can just turn a corner and reset yourself to a younger time. But when death is a thing of the past, and people’s existences become a bit meaningless, population control becomes a big necessity. Hence the creation of the Order of the Scythe, or a modern-day reaper. What they bring is the only true, permanent death, but not everything is as it should be in this order, so leave it up to a couple of teenagers to uncover that, but not for a while. And, once the world building was set up, the book became far too predictable and frustrating for me, which made me wonder, did I read the same book as everyone else?
I am a huge Locked Tomb fan, just ask the tattoo of Gideon the Ninth I got on my shoulder. So to say my expectations for Nona the Ninth were high would be putting it mildly. I love the voices and characters and the gothic sci-fi fantasy that Muir has created. Her ability to create such distinct voices for each and everyone of her main cast, even outside of Harrow and Gideon is, to me, masterful. But I was worried when this planned trilogy suddenly became a quadruple series. I was curious why Nona was so interesting or unique that she required, suddenly, her own book. Unfortunately, this story was the weakest to me in the series, especially when put up against Gideon and Harrow’s title books.
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