Unpopular review time! Or maybe not, I don’t know. The thing is, I didn’t love “Throne of Glass” the way most people do. Hell, I barely LIKED it at times, and that’s primarily because of the books main character, Celaena. Sure, she’s a strong young woman, who is deadly and can hold her own against any man there is, but she’s just not all that likeable. You see, Celaena is an assassin, and at seventeen years old, she’s not just any assassin, but the best in the world. Then she’s betrayed and spends a year as a slave working the salt mines where most people barely survive a month. She’s beaten, and on the cusp of being broken, when the crown prince of the kingdom that is methodically conquering the rest of the world, comes and whisks her away. His plan is to have her become the King’s Champion—basically just another name for government sanctioned assassin—deposing of all the king’s enemies. If she can do that faithfully for four years, she will win her freedom from the same man who made her a slave to begin with. With a backstory like that, I should root for this girl. She should be instantly likeable and you want her to kick butt and win against all odds, and she does, except she’s painfully arrogant and kind of forgets she was a SLAVE when two pretty boys walk into her life.
I don’t know where to begin with “Picture Us in the Light”. The simple fact is that, at first, I thought the book was kind of slow and the odd section every now and again written in second person threw me through an uncomfortable loop, but then… well, then magic happened and I fell in love. This is such a great book with so many tender messages and depictions of what it’s like to be a modern day teenager who struggles to be perfect on paper for college admissions, constantly pushed to the brink by helicopter parents, and the deadly consequences of what being told “you aren’t good enough” can do to a young person. There were so many tender moments depicting parent/child relationships, and Danny’s love for Harry. The synopsis makes you think Danny is confused by his feelings for his friend Harry, but he never was. He knew, always knew, that he loved Harry, that he wanted to be with him, that the idea of being far away from Harry in college was devastating. And, interwoven with the slow burn mystery that gets unraveled through the course of the book, is an honest commentary on some current stances when it comes to race in America and immigrants. So, even with the slow start, this book had me as enamored as Danny was with Harry come the end.
I haven’t really read a YA fantasy that is written in an experimental present tense narrative before. It makes “Curses of Scale” read a bit like a dreamscape, or like a stream of consciousness, especially as it’s also a bit of a reverse timeline. Allow me to explain: the main character is Niena, or Squirrel, but we don’t meet her until about 14% into the book. That first part of the book is spent on her future husband as he races toward saving Neina from her destiny, 15 years in the future. Then, we get snapped back to our MC and her grandfather and see that she really just wants to learn how to be a bard. Then a dragon shows up and things go from bad to worse pretty quickly, especially when a meddling fairy brings Neina’s husband to the past. Why the dragon shows up and what it’s after isn’t really clear until just past the 70% mark, unless you go back and read the synopsis. Then you know that Neina is cursed to become the dragon if she kills it, but will lose those she loves if she doesn’t. It’s an interesting premise that is dark and harrowing because of the stakes and all the action that takes place, but is hampered by the narrative style.
I don’t usually cry watching sappy shows or reading sweet books. It’s just not something I do. I think the last time I cried while reading was maybe sophomore year in high school and Sirius had just died? Yeah, it’s been awhile. Enter “Far From the Tree”. This book had me, well, not BAWLING because I’m still mostly heartless apparently, but I was tearing up in several places. This book… oh my goodness, so good! So many feels! 90% of it is not traditionally “happy” but that’s what I loved about it; it’s heavy and beautiful. “Far From the Tree” follows the story of three siblings who are separated when their bio-mom puts them up for adoption/loses them to foster care as babies. These kids’ lives are real and raw and tragic, but also inspiring and you just ache for them and want the best for them. They each are going through so much and when they learn that they have siblings, instead of it destroying them further, it turns into this beautiful relationship. The kind of relationship and support system each child needs at that precise moment in their lives.
I’m not sure how to write this review mainly because I wasn’t expecting to be this conflicted about so many things. “Shadow and Bone” is an engaging read, so let me throw that out there first, how about that? We follow Alina, the painfully stereotypical rags-to-riches redemption story of a girl everyone overlooks, who is unimportant and unremarkable and ugly, until she suddenly becomes one of the most powerful and important people in her war torn country. In a land with serious Russian vibes, and a well-defined magic system for everyone but Alina and the Darkling, Alina holds the key for bringing her country out of the dark (ha) and into the light (ha). Those aren’t exactly metaphors, either. So, yeah, I really liked the book, but you can kind of see where I’m going with my qualms, right?
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