Books, Reviews, YA Fiction

Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda, by Becky Albertalli

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4 stars

Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. Now Simon is actually being blackmailed: if he doesn’t play wingman for class clown Martin, his sexual identity will become everyone’s business. Worse, the privacy of Blue, the pen name of the boy he’s been emailing, will be compromised.

With some messy dynamics emerging in his once tight-knit group of friends, and his email correspondence with Blue growing more flirtatious every day, Simon’s junior year has suddenly gotten all kinds of complicated. Now, change-averse Simon has to find a way to step out of his comfort zone before he’s pushed out—without alienating his friends, compromising himself, or fumbling a shot at happiness with the most confusing, adorable guy he’s never met.

It’s wonderful to see so many diverse, eye-opening novels on important subjects published these past few years (and I see some great ones coming up in 2017 as well!), LGBTQ, feminism, and racism being only a few. I think exploring darker and more moving tones in YA literature is great, and while that is important, I loved seeing a happy and light gay romance represented in Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda. This novel doesn’t shy away from topics such as self-acceptance and embracing your sexuality, but the way it is presented works so well with this heart-felt, humorous tale.

The story is started off immediately with Martin picking up a conversation with Simon, subtly threatening to expose his screenshots of Simon’s emails to Blue, a mystery boy that Simon had been wholeheartedly talking to since they randomly found each other on Tumblr — if Simon does not set Martin up with his crush, Abby. Simon is conflicted and confused about this situation, but this whole fiasco is not the main plot of the novel. The main point lies around Blue and his identity, as well as Simon’s struggles with his friends and coming out. The writing was honestly effortless, it’s incredibly genuine, natural, and realistic and this helped a lot when formulating realistic struggles and relationships between Simon’s best friends and family. Unfortunately, discovering Blue’s true identity was just a conformation for me, as I had guessed the character long before he was truly revealed, but I loved the added mystery element regardless. What impressed me the most is the consistency of the warm and uplifting composure, even with representations of homophobia and racial tension. Albertalli perfectly explores realistic scenarios and character angst while still weaving a loving, adorable story.

Simon Spier is honestly a gift. He’s intelligent, funny, and witty as ever, just the kind of protagonist this book needed. His voice was incredibly natural and relatable as he mulled over his relationships and thoughts on his family, friends, and overall composure of his school and its crazy characters. Simon’s friends, Abby, Leah, and Nick were also realistically portrayed in the book, and I love how they were so supportive of Simon. In fact, the relationships are one of my favorite things about this novel, the characters’ vulnerability massively boosts the naturalness in Simon’s interactions with his friends and family.

The romance is extremely cute, and while that’s practically the only thing every reviewer is saying, it’s true! The final moments leading to Blue’s reveal will have you nervous and excited for Simon, and the moments after that will keep you smiling until the end. SO CUTE.

Overall, Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda is a great contemporary novel that has managed to mesh ideas of self-acceptance and coming out with an adorable, fuzzy romance. I highly recommend to readers looking for a sweet, honest, and diverse story.

-Haven

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Books, Reviews, YA Fiction

Winning, by Lara DeLoza

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4 stars

House of Cards meets Election in this wickedly entertaining story about an uber-ambitious high school junior.
Whoever said being nice would get you to the top?
Certainly not Alexandra Miles. She isn’t nice, but she’s more than skilled at playing the part. She floats through the halls of Spencer High, effortlessly orchestrating the actions of everyone around her, making people bend to her whim without even noticing they’re doing it. She is the queen of Spencer High—and it’s time to make it official.
Alexandra has a goal, you see—Homecoming Queen. Her ambitions are far grander than her small town will allow, but homecoming is just the first step to achieving total domination. So when peppy, popular Erin Hewett moves to town and seems to have a real shot at the crown, Alexandra has to take action.
With the help of her trusted friend Sam, she devises her most devious plot yet. She’ll introduce an unexpected third competitor in the mix, one whose meteoric rise—and devastating fall—will destroy Erin’s chances once and for all. Alexandra can run a scheme like this in her sleep. What could possibly go wrong?

Since the release of the iconic Mean Girls in 2004, there have been an influx of similar spin-offs trying to achieve the same amount of entertainment and humor that Mean Girls has established for itself and its audience. I, personally don’t understand the enormous hype surrounding it (I’ve actually only recently watched it a few months ago, don’t hate me), but I have read my share of vapid yet addicting novels centered on teen social standards, and I can freely say that Winning has come the closest to achieving the idea of a satirical commentary on teenage/young adult issues in high school. Winning is pure schemes, manipulation, and attitude, it’s damn addicting but also comes with messages of confidence, self-actualization, and fighting for something you believe in.

Winning follows Alexandra Miles, an extremely manipulative, cunning, and ambitious high school junior who isn’t afraid to go to great lengths to get what she wants, and prevent others from trying to get it — permanently. Queen of the student body, president of practically every club and extracurricular at Spencer High School, and regular beauty pageant participant, Alexandra is determined to acquire every crown and title thrown her way, her latest goal being winning Homecoming Queen. Fueled by her extreme ambition and inner desires, Lexi creates a secretive plan, using Ivy Proctor, school outcast, to give her the final push to winning the crown, even if it leads to certain peoples’ downfall. But, there is more going on behind-the-scenes as Alexandra’s competitors, friends, and enemies have different agendas of their own to acquire what they truly want from themselves and Alexandra.

The story throughout was filled with intelligence, wit, and lots, lots of scheming. More interestingly, it was also very diverse with the inclusion of a lesbian character, Sam (aka Lexi’s best friend) and an LGBTQ romance. Winning properly pokes fun at the idea of social hierarchies in high school while maintaining a serious and devious composure throughout. Psychology and how a certain environment can affect you play a huge part in Alexandra’s character and others as well. I can’t complain about the unrealistic scenarios and character traits, because that was predetermined by the premise, but if you love Burn For Burn, Pretty Little Liars, and anti-heros (very important in this book, it’s mostly narrated by one), you’ll love this one too.

The entire book is prominently narrated by Lexi, but Sam, Sloane Fahey, and Ivy Proctor interject at certain moments as well. Alexandra is a great anti-hero in my opinion, she’s ruthless, manipulative, extremely mean, but also … very intriguing. It’s difficult to sit through all her schemes while reading them in her own perspective, but somehow, you’re rooting for her too. I despised Lexi majorly throughout the book, but I felt for her as well, and towards the end, damn, I even felt some sympathy toward her. It’s clear that Lexi is a very complex character and while I do think Deloza could have delved a tad deeper into her psyche, what was done was good enough to see Lexi’s complexity while maintaining an entertaining, light feel. The background characters were greatly characterized too, as they all had the same but different kinds of deviousness that Lexi had, utilizing their influence, character, and alliances with others to accomplish their own agendas. Erin, Lexi’s main competitor, is quite sneaky herself, and Sloane Fahey, who Lexi has a questionable history with, is willing to do anything to take Alexandra down. Sam, Lexi’s best friend and lackey, is easily my favorite character in the entire novel due to her immense character development from finding love and discovering her own identity.

I’m upset I didn’t pick this one up soon after it was published, but glad that I’ve finally read it before the year ends. Overall, if you’re looking for an entertaining, smart, Mean Girls-esque drama, Winning is just the book for you.

-Haven

Books, Reviews, YA Fiction

The Jewel, by Amy Ewing

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3.25 Stars

The Jewel means wealth. The Jewel means beauty. The Jewel means royalty. But for girls like Violet, the Jewel means servitude. Not just any kind of servitude. Violet, born and raised in the Marsh, has been trained as a surrogate for the royalty—because in the Jewel the only thing more important than opulence is offspring.

Purchased at the surrogacy auction by the Duchess of the Lake and greetedj with a slap to the face, Violet (now known only as #197) quickly learns of the brutal truths that lie beneath the Jewel’s glittering facade: the cruelty, backstabbing, and hidden violence that have become the royal way of life.

Violet must accept the ugly realities of her existence… and try to stay alive. But then a forbidden romance erupts between Violet and a handsome gentleman hired as a companion to the Duchess’s petulant niece. Though his presence makes life in the Jewel a bit brighter, the consequences of their illicit relationship will cost them both more than they bargained for. 

 I guess I should have severely disliked this book to a certain extent, but I truly don’t think it’s as terrible as everyone makes it out to be. It all depends on what kind of writing, world-building, or romance you prefer, and obviously certain elements can either make or break the book for you. Yeah, there are a number of flaws, but I personally found it quite entertaining and addicting.

The story takes place in the Lone City and The Jewel, which are separated into several sectors based on social class and occupation, respectively. The Lone City is categorized into areas such as The Marsh, The Farm, and The Smoke, which contain the common people (who are incidentally being treated like dirt by the wealthy in the Jewel) contrary to the Jewel, where the nobility and royalty reside in prosperity. For some unknown reason, all the nobility have lost the ability to reproduce and properly give birth, so they utilize “surrogates” to do it all for them, all the while treating them like newly acquired pets. Violet Lasting, our heroine, is from the Marsh, the poorest region of the Lone City where the “surrogate test” is required for every girl to take.

It’s pretty clear that Ewing has her concept and terminology figured out, and I actually thought the world building wasn’t bad. There’s even a separate page to explain the sectors and their allies, qualities, and occupations. I would still say that the background of the world, meaning how it came to be, needs a ton of work, as well as the added fantasy element. All surrogates have a special ability named augury, which is… well, I don’t know. What is explained in the book, is the fact that surrogates may use this power to create designated characteristics for their incoming babies. Besides little traces of magic and facts here and there, there are no explanations of the general background and idea of it, which is a shame. It’s not often that you see an added fantasy element to a dystopia, and this was clearly an opportunity wasted. It’s not very political either, reminiscent of The Selection series, but it has potential to develop more, which I hope to see in the next books. Some of the elements definitely try to be more serious and daunting (as if the “surrogate” idea isn’t daunting enough), but it comes off as a tad silly to me, probably due to the underdevelopment of the background in world building. The writing is certainly a bit amateurish, it’s choppy and tries too hard to be philosophical at times, but surprisingly addicting. I truly don’t know what kept me so entertained, but I’ll take it in stride. I always think to myself: A boring book is far worse than a bad book. You might not think the elements presented in the book are the most believable or accurate, but if it’s entertaining, it makes it a little less harder to bear.

Continue reading “The Jewel, by Amy Ewing”

Books, Reviews, YA Fiction

My True Love Gave To Me: Twelve Holiday Stories

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3 stars

This book was a little anthology of Christmas romances authored by a 12 YA writers, from contemporary favorite Rainbow Rowell to the imaginative fantasy writer, Laini Taylor. I was impressed with the amount of interesting ideas penned by not only romance/contemporary authors, but fantasy, science-fiction writes as well. They all each seemed to add a bit of their individual colors to them, and while some of them I simply couldn’t enjoy, those elements surprised me, since I had originally expected these stories to be regular, romance stories set in our own world. I thought the anthology as a whole was slightly above average, but there were definitely a select few that I loved.

Midnights, by Rainbow Rowell – 4/5

This short story follows the countdown to New Year’s Day across several years, focusing on the two main characters, Noel and Mags, as well as their changing relationship and dynamic between their individual lives and past history. I thought this was one of the most unique stories in the entire anthology, and the message incorporated was great as well. Noel and Mags’ are so well-developed as individuals and their relationship is even more heartfelt and real. It definitely shows a realistic view of the tension and doubt involved in having feelings for someone, unknowing of how they feel. The underlying theme of leaving people close to you and entering an unknown future was also wonderfully included, adding a hint of sadness to the usual sweet, gentle nature of the story. Wonderfully done, Rowell.

The Lady And The Fox, by Kelly Link – 1/5

I’ll be honest, I had absolutely no idea what the hell was going on with this one. I knew from the start that this wouldn’t be a 5 star story for me, but the characters, romance, plot was all over the place. The writing felt as though there were… holes (?) in them, as if there were certain segments in the paragraphs that were missing. That aspect and the fact that it was just boring to me made it extremely difficult to push through. It felt as if I couldn’t even identify the protagonist and the set of secondary characters, because of the vague, lifeless storytelling. While the fantasy elements added toward the end were intriguing, I simply did not have enough energy to absorb it all in.

Angels In The Snow, by Matt De La Pena – 5/5

Absolutely loved this one! I adore realistic, relatable stories about young adult lives, and I thought the commentary on racial stereotyping, social pressure, and other issues was a great addition to the easygoing yet adorably awkward feel to the story. Angels In The Snow essentially follows Shy, a college student house-sitting (and cat-sitting) for the apartment’s owner and Shy’s boss, throughout December. As he goes through his own stresses and tries to conserve as much energy as possible (this apartment does’t have food in it, and he’s pretty much dying of starvation), he unexpectedly stumbles into a charming female neighbor, which, obviously turns out to be a happy accident. From here, a friendship develops as the neighbors share their struggles as young adults living in New York. I will say I liked Haley and Shy’s friendship more than the actual romance, but the characters popped out of the page so well in such a short time, there was no way I couldn’t have loved this.

Polaris Is Where You Find Me, by Jenny Han – 2/5

I normally enjoy Jenny Han’s books, even if there isn’t a whole lot of substance to them, but this story didn’t really click with me. Han definitely should have saved this idea for a full-length novel, because the attempt to create a fully developed protagonist, love interest, and romance backfired in the shortest story of the entire anthology. I actually loved the initial concept, it’s about a human girl who was adopted by Santa Claus, and is living in the North Pole with the elves, one of whom she falls in love with. I’m not sure if we can call it “love” or even a liking because while Natalie, the protagonist was going on and on about her crush and his girlfriend, nothing big actually happens! I’m sure I would have enjoyed this one if only it was a tad extended, but the characters and romance felt unfinished and underdeveloped anyway.

It’s A Yuletide Miracle, Charlie Brown, by Stephanie Perkins – 4.25/5

I’ve actually never fully read any of Stephanie Perkins’ novels (if we aren’t counting that one time I started Anna And The French Kiss and had to return it to the library after it was overdue for months and had to pay a fine, but still managed to ignore reading it all those weekends I decided to not go to the library… yeah), but I’ve been rewarded with a plethora of reviews, good and bad. I was pleasantly surprised with the outcome of this sweet, probably the cutest one in the anthology, story. It’s A Yuletide Miracle, Charlie Brown is told in the perspective of Marigold, a college student and animation enthusiast, who goes to a Christmas tree farm and seek out a splendid male voice (and very attractive guy, but the voice caught her attention first ;)) to narrate her new comedy video. Marigold accidentally buys an actual tree to take home, and North, the boy with the wonderful voice, offers to help her carry it to her apartment, unknowing of her true intention. As they arrive, North and Marigold develop the sweetest, most adorable relationship ever as they begin to reveal themselves to each other. Their conversations were funny and relatable, often circulating familial pressures and situations, forcing them to achieve goals they don’t necessarily want to. While these two fall in love over the course of just a few hours, their chemistry was so believable and heartwarming. Claps for Ms. Perkins!

Your Temporary Santa, by David Leviathan – 2/5

When I took a peek at David Leviathan on the author list, I knew I could expect a cute gay romance, just the kind of diversity the anthology needed. I’ve never read Leviathan’s individual books before, but I have enjoyed his writing in Will Grayson, Will Grayson and Dash And Lily’s Book Of Dares, so yes, I was hyped. Unfortunately, the story had a unique concept but never quite delivered due to the condensed and detached nature to it. This was another very short story, and while that is the concept of this whole collection, Leviathan’s characters and plot wasn’t fully developed or particularly grabbing, to me.

Continue reading “My True Love Gave To Me: Twelve Holiday Stories”

Books

In The Woods, by Tana French

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5 Stars

A gripping thriller and New York Times bestseller from the acclaimed author of Broken Harbor and The Secret Place

As dusk approaches a small Dublin suburb in the summer of 1984, mothers begin to call their children home. But on this warm evening, three children do not return from the dark and silent woods. When the police arrive, they find only one of the children gripping a tree trunk in terror, wearing blood-filled sneakers, and unable to recall a single detail of the previous hours.

Twenty years later, the found boy, Rob Ryan, is a detective on the Dublin Murder Squad and keeps his past a secret. But when a twelve-year-old girl is found murdered in the same woods, he and Detective Cassie Maddox—his partner and closest friend—find themselves investigating a case chillingly similar to the previous unsolved mystery. Now, with only snippets of long-buried memories to guide him, Ryan has the chance to uncover both the mystery of the case before him and that of his own shadowy past.
Richly atmospheric and stunning in its complexity, In the Woods is utterly convincing and surprising to the end.

I read this book an entire month ago, and held off on reviewing it until I put together my feelings. Well, enough time has passed for me to say that I am now able to somewhat review this book objectively, but that doesn’t change the fact that this book still broke my heart and stomped on the pieces.

I think this novel affected me in such a way because I didn’t have any advance warning on how it would make me feel. With most gut-wrenchingly sad books, you see it from a mile off; anyone who picks up a book on suicide or cancer goes into it with the awareness that it may not end well.

But In the Woods is different. It’s about Rob Ryan, a murder detective in Dublin who’s investigating the death of a twelve-year-old girl in the same woods where two of his friends disappeared 20 years ago- an incident he doesn’t remember. It picks up as an ordinary murder mystery, with detectives chasing down leads an interrogating suspects. As the book progresses and Rob gets closer to the truth, you get excited as well to discover the killer and feel a sense of closure, right? Wrong.

French masterfully weaves a deep psychological aspect into this novel. While it is about the murder overall, it’s also about Rob, and his struggle to figure out what happened in the woods twenty years ago. As the book goes on, you begin to realize that Rob himself is very lost and confused, and Rob becomes increasingly emotionally connected to you in such a way that you don’t even realize how much you’ve grown to care about him until French takes a pickax to it all. This isn’t a “big twist at the end” kind of book, though. You see what’s coming from a bit out, but are powerless to stop it. And that’s what makes this book leave such a hole inside you long after finishing it.

That said, the side characters, relationships, and incredibly intense plot are wonderfully written. Rob and his relationship with his partner and best friend Cassie is one of the strongest parts of this novel, and I’m sad to hear from reviews of future books that we never hear from Rob again in later books in this series.

The writing is also gorgeous, but extremely difficult to get the hang of. This being an adult novel and not my usual YA, I had some difficulty initially immersing myself in this novel, but once I became accustomed to French’s love for very big words and extremely verbose sentences, I was able to read and enjoy it. So, while the rest of this review praises this novel to no end, I will warn you that if you’re looking for a lighter novel and do not wish to put mental effort into reading, I would not recommend In the Woods for you.

I both loved and hated this novel, and in a way, I think that’s what makes it great. If you’re more of a sophisticated reader with time on your hands, by all means, read In the Woods immediately.

Happy Holidays!

~Aliza

Books, Reviews, YA Fiction

Dash And Lily’s Book Of Dares, by Rachel Cohn and David Leviathan

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3.75 stars

“I’ve left some clues for you.
If you want them, turn the page.
If you don’t, put the book back on the shelf, please.”

So begins the latest whirlwind romance from the bestselling authors of Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist. Lily has left a red notebook full of challenges on a favorite bookstore shelf, waiting for just the right guy to come along and accept its dares. But is Dash that right guy? Or are Dash and Lily only destined to trade dares, dreams, and desires in the notebook they pass back and forth at locations across New York? Could their in-person selves possibly connect as well as their notebook versions? Or will they be a comic mismatch of disastrous proportions?

Rachel Cohn and David Levithan have written a love story that will have readers perusing bookstore shelves, looking and longing for a love (and a red notebook) of their own.

I’ve always been keen on reading Andrea Cohn and David Leviathan’s joint projects, even if I haven’t read their individual novels. It’s rare in YA (not just YA, actually) for a male and female author to join forces and create an adventure together, and Cohn and Leviathan’s writing is truly a match made in heaven. This back-and-forth concept probably wouldn’t have worked as well as it did in the hands of lesser-skilled authors, and while it has its flaws, Dash And Lily makes for a pretty sweet read.

Dash and Lily are two seemingly lonely teenagers living in New York, both of them facing difficult situations during Christmas time. As Lily reluctantly places a red moleskine notebook filled with dares in the local bookstore’s shelf jokingly to attract Mr. Right, Dash unknowingly picks it up and marks the beginning of an interesting, pen-pal-like relationship. But as this game goes on, Dash and Lily realize their longing to meet each other in person — while dreading it simultaneously. Will the boy and girl in the notebook be the same in real-life? Or something neither of them had expected?

The story picks up immediately, and actually is quite fast-paced. It certainly has a festive, bright, quirky air to it, despite the unusual yet funny scenarios the characters stumble into. I’m happy I read this in December, it definitely helps me get in the Christmas-y mood. The themes throughout the book mostly surround the different ways of developing love for people you barely know — yet seem to connect with more than anyone else. Will you ever find the “person in your head”, or is this person simply a mirage of your true desires and dreams in life? And when you think you’ve found the person, is it truly meant to be? Will the “person in your head” ever be placed above others that you meet? These themes are actually quite complex, and while they weren’t explored to such a weighty level, the amount present was enough for this fluffy, fairytale-like novel. Cohn and Leviathan delved deep enough into the subject without taking away the goofiness of the basic premise, which was greatly appreciated. My only complaint concerning the overall plot would be the unrealistic scenes prevalent throughout the entire book. While I understood it was all in good fun, these scenarios dragged on to an unbelievable extent, almost reminding of the events in a John Green novel.

Dash and Lily themselves are pretty likable characters. It’s understandable if you can’t connect with them beyond a measure, but they were so hilarious and relatable in their own right, it’s hard not to love them. Although, I will say that both characters are far too pretentious and “wise beyond their years” to be actual seventeen-year-olds. Every now and then some ridiculous commentary about a random aspect in life would show up and take up a long-ass paragraph, and it’s more than a little off-putting. Besides the protagonists, the secondary characters were about the same though I really enjoyed the relationships presented. Dash and his ex-girlfriend Sophia hold my favorite relationship in the book, and I thought the small yet poignant conversations they had, as well as their easing, mutual friendship elevated the novel’s seriousness in a very subtle way.

Dash and Lily’s Book Of Dares is the perfect book to get into during the holidays, and if you’re looking for something cute and John Green-y, you’ll definitely enjoy this one. I’m surprised it’s taken me this long to read an Andrea Cohn and David Leviathan novel, but I’m certainly looking forward to reading their individual and joint projects soon. 🙂

-Haven

Books, Reviews, YA Fiction

The Girl At Midnight, by Melissa Grey

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2 1/2 stars

Magic lives in our darkest corners.
Beneath the streets of New York City live the Avicen, an ancient race of people with feathers for hair and magic running through their veins. Age-old enchantments keep them hidden from humans. All but one. Echo is a runaway pickpocket who survives by selling stolen treasures on the black market, and the Avicen are the only family she’s ever known.
Echo is clever and daring, and at times she can be brash, but above all else she’s fiercely loyal. So when a centuries-old war crests on the borders of her home, she decides it’s time to act.
Legend has it that there is a way to end the conflict once and for all: find the firebird, a mythical entity believed to possess power the likes of which the world has never seen. It will be no easy task, though if life as a thief has taught Echo anything, it’s how to hunt down what she wants…and how to take it.
But some jobs aren’t as straightforward as they seem. And this one might just set the world on fire.

I thought The Girl At Midnight would honestly become my next obsession due to the massive comparisons to The Mortal Instruments and Daughter Of Smoke And Bone series. I haven’t gotten to the latter yet, but mentioning TMI in anything is certain to pique my interest. Unfortunately, I was expecting something more grandiose than the adventure given to me in the underdeveloped package that is The Girl At Midnight.

The story takes place in an alternate fantasy world consisting of two races– the Avicen and the Drakharin. Both species have been warring for centuries and are in a race to find the ancient “firebird”, the key to end the war and finally create peace. Echo, is a seventeen-year old thief living in New York City, and the only human being that knows of this secret world. Before you know it, this girl is off to discover the firebird, picking up a few new tricks and friends along the way.

I loved the idea of the firebird, and the way the Avicen and Drakharin were described and just created in general. There was certain magical quality in the way Grey had depicted the scales of the Drakharin and the feathers of the Avicen, which was wholly organic to me. Unfortunately, that’s all I can praise about the writing and world-building as well. The writing, specifically pertaining to the characters and their emotions, felt extremely stale. There was really nothing popping out to me, that willed me to stay and read about their feelings and problems. In fact, for a book promising a ton of magic and intrigue, it hardly delivered due to the incredibly casual, simplistic writing. Maybe Grey was trying to make it a lighter fantasy, with more character angst than action, but the overall feel had no spark regardless. The air of humor or playfulness was not entirely consistent throughout the book, and it couldn’t seem to catch up to Echo’s relentless snark. The world-building itself only informed us the physical descriptions of the Avicen and Drakharin, and the fact that they were in a war. Dynamics between the races, even dynamics within the individual races were under-explored, and why do they hate each other in the first place? We don’t know! It’s all so subdued and vague, which is truly a disappointment.

Continue reading “The Girl At Midnight, by Melissa Grey”