Books, Reviews, YA Fiction

Hunted, by Megan Spooner | a slow but very unique Beauty and the Beast retelling

24485589

3.25 stars

Beauty knows the Beast’s forest in her bones—and in her blood. Though she grew up with the city’s highest aristocrats, far from her father’s old lodge, she knows that the forest holds secrets and that her father is the only hunter who’s ever come close to discovering them.

So when her father loses his fortune and moves Yeva and her sisters back to the outskirts of town, Yeva is secretly relieved. Out in the wilderness, there’s no pressure to make idle chatter with vapid baronessas…or to submit to marrying a wealthy gentleman. But Yeva’s father’s misfortune may have cost him his mind, and when he goes missing in the woods, Yeva sets her sights on one prey: the creature he’d been obsessively tracking just before his disappearance.

Deaf to her sisters’ protests, Yeva hunts this strange Beast back into his own territory—a cursed valley, a ruined castle, and a world of creatures that Yeva’s only heard about in fairy tales. A world that can bring her ruin or salvation. Who will survive: the Beauty, or the Beast?

Hunted is a refreshing change from the typical fairy tale retellings, specifically Beauty And The Beast retellings, which tend to focus more on the romance. Hunted, on the other hand, is more intent on exploring Yeva’s character and how she connects with the Beast as a human, instead of their combined romantic tension. It’s also largely descriptive and prose-lead, and contains a much darker vibe than the original Beauty And The Beast. It actually differs a lot from the original but in a really necessary way and it does manage to contain the most important elements. Unfortunately, while this book does a number of things wonderfully, its style was just not for me, hence the 3.25 rating. I’m simply not the type of reader that enjoys a slow plot and a gentle build, but I can appreciate all the things Hunted did well.

One of the many elements that separates Hunted from the original/other retellings, is its addition of Russian folklore and culture. The story is set in medieval Russia, and there are are multiple stories traded throughout the book which definitely further that magical vibe that is already there. The snowy setting was largely emphasized as well as Yeva’s skills as a hunter, with descriptions of her frequent excursions into the chilly and dangerous yet peaceful woods. The prose was beautiful, I loved the dark, mysterious, and guarded feel of the story but the vulnerable moments were wonderfully written too.

I’m not the type of reader that enjoys reading slower, more description-based stories, which is exactly what Hunted is. The story can be draggy and dull at times, bogged down by the immense description and lack of enough dialogue to match it. The story’s progression felt very tentative to me, and I had a difficult time investing myself into the mystery behind the Beast and how Yeva fits into it. While there are many intriguing elements added as the plot moves on, I can’t quite say what caused my ‘meh’ feeling for the plot, it just wasn’t my type of story. Which sucks, because it has so much going for it.

The characters though, I was definitely invested in. Yeva came as such a surprise. She’s badass, spirited, and strong but also compassionate and vulnerable. Her love for nature and the woods, as well as her yearning for magic were so expertly expressed, specifically her wanting for something beyond. It’s definitely reminiscent of the original Belle from Beauty and the Beast, but Yeva’s wanting is more entwined with the mystical elements of the story and the nature of her character itself. Contrary to the lone Belle, Yeva actually has two sisters, Lena and Asenka, with who she shares a huge bond. All three sisters are so loving and understanding toward one another while remaining utterly realistic. It’s a refreshing change from the warring and jealous siblings we usually see in fairy tales. B&B’s Gaston is also there in the form of Solmir, who is actually supportive and loving toward Yeva and her sisters instead of being villainous and arrogant like in the original.

Interestingly, the only character I couldn’t come to invest in was the Beast himself. This book did something different by showing the Beast’s perspective too, but it wasn’t enough to make me connect to him. The only time I felt something for the Beast deeply was when Yeva tries to kill him, which was a beautifully written scene altogether.

The ‘romance’ between Yeva and the Beast was very minimal, as it wasn’t the romantic part of their relationship that was emphasized the most. I loved the way Spooner showed how Yeva and the Beast were inevitably bound together, through their mutual love for nature and their yearning for something beyond their reach. I do like how they were never viewed or intended to be romantically involved, but that it was their connection and trust that brought them back to each other. Unfortunately, I still thought the development behind their relationship was a tad rushed and simply ‘not enough’ even if I see the idea behind it. I wanted Yeva to stay with the Beast longer and further explore his psyche, instead of jumping to conclusions and finding out she is right about his past immediately.

Hunted contains many elements that readers will love, but it simply wasn’t my type of book. I’m not that big a fan of fairy-tale retellings anyway, which might explain my indifference toward it to an extent. I do have a strong appreciation for it though, and would definitely recommend to those who like slow plots, descriptive writing, and a more mature vibe from a retelling.

-Haven

Books, Reviews, YA Fiction

July 2017 Wrap-Up

Summer vacation is going by so fast and I cannot keep up in the least. July was hardly an eventful month, all I did was slave away in my desk taking SAT practice tests and occasionally go outside to the real world. Occasionally. Reading-wise, July was certainly the month of goodbyes. I had read three conclusions to three of my favorite YA series’, and it’s difficult to leave when you still want to go on adventures with the characters you love. It was definitely sad, but I still managed to squeeze some standalone novels in there to ease myself.

33672985

The Lives Of Desperate Girls, by MacKenzie Common (2.25 stars) – I received an ARC of this book in June (it officially comes out in September), but finished it in July, and that should be enough to tell y’all my feelings for this book. While it offers interesting commentary on the blatant racism and sexism in our society, the rest of the book is not so interesting. You can find my review here.

Image result for page breaker

17378527

The Raven King, Maggie Stiefvater (3.25 stars) – I didn’t hate this book, but I did hate the way certain plot points were left untouched and underdeveloped, as well as the blunt ending. The book’s writing and character development were great as usual, but as an concluding novel, I’m pretty disappointed. I still love this series though, and will definitely miss its characters and overall mystical vibe. You can find my review hereImage result for page breaker

22299763Crooked Kingdom, by Leigh Bardugo (5 stars) – ASDFGHJKL is the only coherent thing I can say when it comes to this book, or rather, this duology in general. Bless the YA gods for Leigh Bardugo, for Kaz Brekker and the rest of the characters in this too-amazing-to-be-real duology.

 

Image result for page breaker

32164715

Welcome To The Slipstream, by Natalka Burian (3 stars) – I really enjoyed the first half of this book, but disliked the second half, making it a classic 3-star novel. This contemporary combines a number of unique plot points and is by no means typical, but I do wish these plot points were told in a bigger and bolder way. You can find my review here.

 

Image result for page breaker

30312700

Alex, Approximately, by Jenn Bennett (4.25 stars) – This book is the essence of fluffiness done right. It’s a modern retelling of the classic rom-com movie You’ve Got Mail, and is perfectly witty, funny, and adorable. It’s now one of my contemporary/romance favorites. You can find my review here.

Image result for page breaker

13206900

Winter, by Marissa Meyer (4 stars) – Ah, this book was definitely a roller coaster of emotions. I still don’t know why I didn’t read this when it came out two years ago, but it hit me just as hard now. Will certainly miss this series, but I know I’m going to visit it over and over again.

Image result for page breaker

24485589

Hunted, by Megan Spooner (3.25 stars) – I’m having another bout of CONFLICT with this Beauty and the Beast retelling, because while I really liked the haunting vibe of the book, it was hella slow and a little boring. Look out for my review coming soon!

 

Thank you guys for reading! Leave a comment below with your thoughts 🙂

Books, New Releases, YA Fiction

New Releases in YA for March 2017

comingsoonbanner

Hey guys! Hopefully you all had a great February and were able to read as much as you wanted (spoiler: I couldn’t). I’m especially excited for these new releases because I’m more familiar with these books and authors, as well as the respective concepts being written about. Let’s hope they turn out to be good. 🙂

1. The Bone Witch, by Rin Chupeco – Coming March 7th, 2017

30095464The beast raged; it punctured the air with its spite. But the girl was fiercer.

Tea is different from the other witches in her family. Her gift for necromancy makes her a bone witch, who are feared and ostracized in the kingdom. For theirs is a powerful, elemental magic that can reach beyond the boundaries of the living—and of the human.

Great power comes at a price, forcing Tea to leave her homeland to train under the guidance of an older, wiser bone witch. There, Tea puts all of her energy into becoming an asha, learning to control her elemental magic and those beasts who will submit by no other force. And Tea must be strong—stronger than she even believes possible. Because war is brewing in the eight kingdoms, war that will threaten the sovereignty of her homeland…and threaten the very survival of those she loves.

I had actually acquired an ARC of this book towards the end of last year, and while I was rocky about a few aspects, The Bone Witch is definitely a game-changer in terms of world-building and the development of magic and other fantasy elements. You can find my review right here: https://musingsandbooks.wordpress.com/2017/01/02/the-bone-witch-by-rin-chupeco/. I would highly recommend though, especially if you are looking for something that diverts from the typical YA formula used in all these “mainstream” books.

2. The Inexplicable Logic Of My Life, by Benjamin Alire Sáenz – Coming March 7th

23447923From the multi-award-winning author of Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe comes a gorgeous new story about love, identity, and families lost and found.

Sal used to know his place with his adoptive gay father, their loving Mexican-American family, and his best friend, Samantha. But it’s senior year, and suddenly Sal is throwing punches, questioning everything, and realizing he no longer knows himself. If Sal’s not who he thought he was, who is he?

This humor-infused, warmly humane look at universal questions of belonging is a triumph.

A long while ago, I had read Aristotle And Dante Discover The Secrets Of The Universe and I adored it, so I am incredibly excited for this new book! This premise sounds very diverse and that cover is only adding to my towering expectations 😀

 

 

3. Hunted, by Meagan Spooner – Coming March 14th, 2017

24485589Beauty knows the Beast’s forest in her bones—and in her blood. Though she grew up with the city’s highest aristocrats, far from her father’s old lodge, she knows that the forest holds secrets and that her father is the only hunter who’s ever come close to discovering them.

So when her father loses his fortune and moves Yeva and her sisters back to the outskirts of town, Yeva is secretly relieved. Out in the wilderness, there’s no pressure to make idle chatter with vapid baronessas…or to submit to marrying a wealthy gentleman. But Yeva’s father’s misfortune may have cost him his mind, and when he goes missing in the woods, Yeva sets her sights on one prey: the creature he’d been obsessively tracking just before his disappearance.

Deaf to her sisters’ protests, Yeva hunts this strange Beast back into his own territory—a cursed valley, a ruined castle, and a world of creatures that Yeva’s only heard about in fairy tales. A world that can bring her ruin or salvation. Who will survive: the Beauty, or the Beast?

I love fairy-tale retellings, and while a fair share have disappointed me, I have always had a soft-spot for Beauty and the Beast inspired ones. The original story line allows for such an immense amount of character development and building of a particular atmosphere, and while its difficult to accomplish, the ones that get it just right really resonate with you. Hopefully Hunted lives up to the hype!

4. Blood Rose Rebellion, by Rosalyn Eves – Coming March 28th, 2017

31020402The thrilling first book in a YA fantasy trilogy for fans of Red Queen. In a world where social prestige derives from a trifecta of blood, money, and magic, one girl has the ability to break the spell that holds the social order in place.

Sixteen-year-old Anna Arden is barred from society by a defect of blood. Though her family is part of the Luminate, powerful users of magic, she is Barren, unable to perform the simplest spells. Anna would do anything to belong. But her fate takes another course when, after inadvertently breaking her sister’s debutante spell—an important chance for a highborn young woman to show her prowess with magic—Anna finds herself exiled to her family’s once powerful but now crumbling native Hungary.

Her life might well be over.

In Hungary, Anna discovers that nothing is quite as it seems. Not the people around her, from her aloof cousin Noémi to the fierce and handsome Romani Gábor. Not the society she’s known all her life, for discontent with the Luminate is sweeping the land. And not her lack of magic. Isolated from the only world she cares about, Anna still can’t seem to stop herself from breaking spells.

As rebellion spreads across the region, Anna’s unique ability becomes the catalyst everyone is seeking. In the company of nobles, revolutionaries, and Romanies, Anna must choose: deny her unique power and cling to the life she’s always wanted, or embrace her ability and change that world forever.

I’ve actually acquired an ARC for this book a while back, but due to school work and other activities, I haven’t really gotten that deep into it. But, judging by how much I’ve read so far, it’s pretty decent! I’m certainly looking forward to reading the rest.

5. Radio Silence, by Alice Oseman – Coming March 28th, 2017

30653843Frances Janvier spends most of her time studying.

Everyone knows Aled Last as that quiet boy who gets straight As.

You probably think that they are going to fall in love or something. Since he is a boy and she is a girl.

They don’t. They make a podcast.

In a world determined to shut them up, knock them down, and set them on a cookie cutter life path, Frances and Aled struggle to find their voices over the course of one life-changing year. Will they have the courage to show everyone who they really are? Or will they be met with radio silence?

This is probably my most anticipated release of the month, because I’m a total sucker for character-driven, message-driven contemporary stories. Books about young adults navigating their way through life always have me captured, and this sounds very complex regardless of its simple cover (which is gorgeous, by the way).

 

Thank you all for reading! I hope you guys have a great March. 🙂

-Haven