ARC REVIEW: OUR CHILD OF THE STARS – STEPHEN COX

Author: Stephen Cox
Title: Our Child of the Stars
Publisher: Jo Fletcher Books
Genre: Sci-Fi
Pages: 496
O.W.L. Grade: Exceeds Expectations

I received a review copy of Our Child of the Stars from Jo Fletcher Books in exchange for an honest review. The thoughts and opinions in this passage are entirely my own.

A lost child, the family who try to protect him and the secret that refuses to stay hidden . . .

Molly and Gene Myers were happy, until tragedy blighted their hopes of children. During the years of darkness and despair, they each put their marriage in jeopardy, but now they are starting to rebuild their fragile bond.

This is the year of Woodstock and the moon landings; war is raging in Vietnam and the superpowers are threatening each other with annihilation.

Then the Meteor crashes into Amber Grove, devastating the small New England town – and changing their lives for ever. Molly, a nurse, caught up in the thick of the disaster, is given care of a desperately ill patient rescued from the wreckage: a sick boy with a remarkable appearance, an orphan who needs a mother.

And soon the whole world will be looking for him.

Cory’s arrival has changed everything. And the Myers will do anything to keep him safe.

A remarkable story of warmth, tenacity and generosity of spirit, set against the backdrop of a fast-changing, terrifying decade.

ourchildofthestars_coverI’m on a blog tour for this one! Our Child of the Stars is due for release on January 24th by Jo Fletcher Books (Quercus Books).

First of all this book was not what I expected; the feeling I got from the first few pages was that this would be a very family orientated book, with more drama than actual action. I was wrong, and therefore pleasantly surprised. Don’t get me wrong I wouldn’t have been disappointed with the former – particularly given the author’s beautiful narrative – but I am a more action-loving girl at heart.

Initially this book was very much about the family, the history of Molly and Gene, how they met, their ups and downs etc. It particularly focuses on their disappointment of not having a child of their own, and this focus in particular made me really feel for the two of them. Though they weren’t my favourite characters to have encountered in a book they were certainly lifelike and their relationship felt very real. And each of them had their own flaws, though we primarily see these through the eyes of Molly who is the main voice for this book. We do however get the occasional snippet from either Gene’s or Cory’s point of view. I don’t think these were necessarily frequent though to have a huge impact on the story but they were nice to have.

This book explores some family issues much closer to home, and almost makes this story feel like it’s happening just down the road. It’s very easy to forget that it’s a Sci-Fi. This effect meant that I became well and truly engrossed in the adventure when the action started to really kick off. This admittedly was something that took a while to come around, whilst I appreciated the world and character building, I feel like some of that could’ve been shortened to make room for a bigger build up or more detailed action scene (or two, or three..) later on.

This is really the only criticism I had of the book too, the pacing for me was a little too slow after the first main event; those development scenes take up much of the book, and much of it centres around Molly and Gene, personally I want to know more about Cory’s day to day life as he is the phenomenon and focal point of the story.

So this book is going to get a good rating from me, I think a 4/5 is fair as it didn’t blow me away in terms of plot, and I would’ve liked more of a concentration on the climactic scenes towards the end of the book, but it was very well written and characters were very well developed. Cory in particular was a wonderful character to have and his story and adventure is a wonderful one to follow through the pages.

Overall this is a heart-warming read and a book that I believe will appeal to many people who are fans of Sci-Fi and family-oriented fiction in general. It makes a good book for those wanting to branch out to Sci-Fi too in my opinion.

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TOMI ADEYEMI EVENT: WATERSTONES PICCADILLY

Yes it’s been a while since I posted something like this, it’s been a while since I’ve been to an event. I’ve been an even longer while since I went to this event… but let’s no dwell on that!

I was going to do this post in multiple parts to give you all the information but I think picking out the best bits and giving you guys a concise read is likely preferable. So here is my write up of the Tomi Adeyemi event which I attended back in the summer last year (2018), enjoy!

Generic discussion:

For those of you who have read the wonderful Children of Blood and Bone (click for a link to my review) you will know there are many similarities between the world in this book, and Nigeria/ West Africa. Tomi tells us that despite her Nigerian heritage she did not grow up with the Nigerian stories, but instead discovered the Orisha in Salvador, Brazil where she saw these beautiful illustrations which she then took to her mum to ask about. Despite her background, not growing up practicing the Orisha religion it was a subject she needed to approach carefully.

What is interesting about the Orisha is that the stories are primarily transmitted orally, and the slave trade meant that it was spread worldwide, though in most parts it became glocalised; in Brazil there are clear offshoots of this religion since there was a time when it couldn’t be practiced freely. A lot of research was conducted to ensure that the real mythology wasn’t perverted as Tomi wanted them to be seen and respected.

In terms of the storyline itself another important aspect was the colourism within the book. It is true that this is not something we are aware of when we are young, demonstrating just how powerful colonisation still is – this is something tricky to put into a book especially when crafting the right balance so as not to take away from the magic.

Audience Q&A:

Q: Which authors influenced you?
Tomi: Sabaa Tahir, An Ember in the Ashes changed my life and if I get a book tattoo it will be the last two words on the last page. Not only is the prose beautiful but it is about people of colour.
Daniel Jose Older – in his Shadowshaper book, the MC talks about self-esteem issues of coloured women growing up in America, despite it only being a few paragraphs it really stuck with me.

Q: Did your journey researching religious practices impact you as a person and what were the reactions to you writing the book since talking about Orisha is taboo in West Africa as they can be very Christian?
Tomi: A friend in Lagos was told of by their grandma for reading it. It’s a shame but these feelings are remnants of colonisation; do this hard and long enough and your own stories become evil. If you can be okay with Percy Jackson then you can be okay with COBAB.

Q: Having to juggle identities of being black and being American; is this a theme in the book or…?
Tomi: Thanksgiving for us has jollof rice. The outside world just sees you as black, however the experiences you have as individual African Americans can be entirely different, which is why I say “Nigerian American” in my bio. Comparing my journey with people who grew up on a different block goes to show how diverse cultures are.

 

Thanks so much for reading guys, I hope you enjoyed this whistle stop tour of the Conversation with Tomi Adeyemi! Any thoughts please let me know in the comments!

 

BOOK REVIEW: THE WICKED KING – HOLLY BLACK

Author: Holly Black
Title: The Wicked King (The Folk of the Air #2)
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Genre: Fantasy, Young adult
Pages: 336
O.W.L. Grade: Outstanding

You must be strong enough to strike and strike and strike again without tiring.

The first lesson is to make yourself strong.

After the jaw-dropping revelation that Oak is the heir to Faerie, Jude must keep her younger brother safe. To do so, she has bound the wicked king, Cardan, to her, and made herself the power behind the throne. Navigating the constantly shifting political alliances of Faerie would be difficult enough if Cardan were easy to control. But he does everything in his power to humiliate and undermine her, even as his fascination with her remains undiminished.

When it becomes all too clear that someone close to Jude means to betray her, threatening her own life and the lives of everyone she loves, Jude must uncover the traitor and fight her own complicated feelings for Cardan to maintain control as a mortal in a Faerie world.

thewickedking_coverWell done, Holly Black. Well done. So I was lucky enough to receive and e-ARC of The Cruel Prince a little over a year ago, and to be honest upon first receipt I wasn’t aware of how big this franchise was going to be. I vaguely remembered the name Holly Black but it was soon brought to my attention that both she, and her books, are a big deal. Forgive me, I was still relatively new to the book blogger scene back then. But as a result of this major hype, I expected The Cruel Prince to move mountains, yet for me it just didn’t. I didn’t like the characters; Jude was annoying, and Cardan was a spoiled brat and bully, but I did love the story, and the world created. These two point were enough to convince me to continue with the series, after all the characters may grow into their roles.

I was not disappointed. Nearly all of the characters, particularly our protagonists, have matured following the events at the end of The Cruel Prince, and seem to fill their roles so much better than before. There are still certain storylines that I’m unsure of but I now have substantial arguments for these storylines to be happening, so I’m coming around to them. Also I bought the Waterstones exclusive and those deleted scenes are everything I need to start crafting theories about the future of The Folk of the Air.

Though I considered the storyline and plot in book #1 to be really great, this instalment to the series surpassed even those, something which often a second book in a series fails to do. But the levels of intricacy and the seamless combining of these storylines in The Wicked King are something else and brings this story out of the pages and into the 3-dimensional world. Combined with the excellent scenery description and fuller characters, this book really comes to life and it’s marvellous to behold.

I love the deceit and games that undoubtedly come coupled with storylines involving the Fae – in any franchise, and this book provides on this front too, with a combination of plotting and action ensuring the pacing is superb. I like that this is also told from just one point of view, I think this is particularly effective when certain plots come into play and you’ll look back and see subtle pointers but just seeing it from Jude’s point of view means that it’s almost as shocking to the reader as it is to her.

Overall this book definitely deserves an Outstanding, and if you have the opportunity to get your hands on an exclusive version with the deleted scenes then do so! The book is great on its own but I promise you’ll end up with a book hangover and will want those extra few pages!

If you’ve already read this I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

 

 

BOOK REVIEW: LIGHT YEARS – KASS MORGAN

Right guys before I begin I’ve had a fantastic idea for my review rating scale; I’m going to use the grades from Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry to rate the books I read. So let’s recap:

Passing Grades:

  • Outstanding (O)
  • Exceeds Expectations (E)
  • Acceptable (A)

Fail Grades:

  • Poor (P)
  • Dreadful (D)
  • Troll (T)

Now without further ado, my review for Light Years by Kass Morgan…

Author: Kass Morgan
Title: Light Years
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Genre: Sci-Fi, Young Adult
Pages: 377
Overall Rating: Exceeds Expectations

I actually received an advanced reader copy in an Illumicrate box earlier in 2018 but later was lucky enough to get an e-ARC via NetGalley too! We all know how important a rating on NetGalley is. And because of this I must disclose that my thoughts and opinions in this blog post are entirely my own and free from any external influence.

Reeling from the latest attack by a mysterious enemy, the Quatra Fleet Academy is finally admitting students from every planet in the solar system after centuries of exclusivity.

Hotshot pilot Vesper, an ambitious Tridian citizen, dreams of becoming a captain – but when she loses her spot to a brilliant, wisecracking boy from the wrong side of the asteroid belt, it makes her question everything she thought she knew. Growing up on the toxic planet Deva, Cormak will take any chance he can get to escape his dead-end life and join the Academy – even if he has to steal someone’s identity to do it. Arran was always considered an outsider on icy Chetire, always dreaming of something more than a life working in the mines. Now an incoming cadet, Arran is looking for a place to belong – he just never thought that place would be in the arms of a Tridian boy. And Orelia is hiding a dark secret – she’s infiltrated the Academy to complete a mission, one that threatens the security of everyone there. But if anyone finds out who she really is, it’ll be her life on the line.

These cadets will have to put their differences aside and become a team to defend their world from a cunning enemy – but the danger might be lurking closer to home than they think…

lightyears_coverI was absolutely dying to read a Sci-Fi when I finally picked this book up and I’m so pleased that it didn’t disappoint at all, all I can really say is that I wanted more! I read this so quickly I’m pretty sure I’d finished it off in 48 hours. I was hooked from the first pages, the story flowed and kept the reader engaged expertly.

I loved each of the protagonists too – each for different reasons but they were all so realistic, had unique personalities with their own strengths, flaws, and dreams. I loved that some were so open about who they were compared with who they wanted to be, others were conflicted, and others simply hid everything they possibly could about themselves. I also loved the relationships displayed between our protagonists and secondary characters, some newly formed friendships and others which had already developed but which we were discovering for the first time. Both were done superbly and provided depth to the story which combined with an exciting storyline just made for a really entertaining read.

The pace was really excellent too, the nature of the training undertaken at the centre provides another, more light-hearted, layer of excitement and action with more sinister underlying storylines taking a backseat for the majority of the story until they both seamlessly come together for the book’s finale.

The writing style was perfect for the book, with the author adapting her style to each of the characters’ individual natures and painting a story that flowed perfectly. Light Years has the right balance of action, adventure, and scene/character development to keep readers engaged and give a well-rounded and entertaining narrative. This is definitely helped along by the multiple-point-of-view narrative which allows a more in-depth insight into the lives of these characters as well as providing alternative perspectives.

Overall I’m awarding this book an Exceeds Expectations for an entertaining read, with well-developed characters. It can be easy for fantasy/ sci-fi books to become cheesy but this was not in the slightest, the characters complement each other well and the reader really feels invested in the book. I can’t wait to see what else happens in this series, so thank you Hodder & Stoughton for providing me with a copy of this, it has been one hell of a ride!

 






 

 

BOOK REVIEW: THE RAVEN BOYS – MAGGIE STIEFVATER

Title: The Raven Boys (The Raven Cycle #1)
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Publisher: Scholastic
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
Pages: 419
Overall Rating: 4.5/5 (Exceeds Expectations)

Even if Blue hadn’t been told her true love would die if she kissed him, she would stay away from boys. Especially the ones from the local private school. Known as Raven Boys, they only mean trouble.

But this is the year that everything will change for Blue.

This is the year that she will be drawn into the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys. And the year Blue will discover that magic does exist.

This is the year she will fall in love.

theravenboys_coverFinally I got around to reading this book! I’d heard so much about this and the series as a whole but until recently hadn’t even picked the book up! I had a physical copy on my shelf, I’d spent some kindle credit on the e-book when it was on sale, and I’d even spent an audible credit on the audiobook!

Initially the audiobook is where I started, but I simply couldn’t get along with the narration. It felt like the narrator was trying to convey an air of mystery given the psychic setting of the book, but unfortunately for me it came across as bored. So I ditched that and instead started to actually read it for myself – much better.

Blue, our protagonist, is a shy and quiet individual at the start with strong opinions on Raven Boys and a desire to fit in with her family. They’re all seers, but Blue doesn’t have that ability – she seems to be lucky enough to work as an amplifier for the rest of them and so is warmly welcomed in any room or at any event, but she cannot see the future like they can. Understandably she is a little put out, and it comes across that she feels a little inadequate too – I assume this is the likely cause of her shyness. When she does start to come out of her shell she’s smart, funny, and really quite witty.

Our other protagonist, Gansey, is a Raven boy and could – I suppose – be the hipster of the group. He certainly has an alternative outlook on life compared to many of his peers. His family’s wealth doesn’t really bother him, and for someone so young he certainly knows how to use this for a greater good which is actually beautiful to see. Often when a character has money they are either the spoiled brat or they don’t touch it at all, Gansey on the other hand uses his fortune to help the less fortunate.

Both characters are excellent protagonists and make for great narrators each providing insight to their stories which start at such opposite ends of the spectrum. Maggie Stiefvater does a fantastic job of separating the two characters’ voices so not only are they unique, but also are incredibly lifelike and relatable. Characters is a big thing for me with books – if I don’t like the majority of a cast it’s unlikely I’ll get along with the book as a whole, but in making the characters relatable, Stiefvwater ensures the audience imagination remains captured throughout.

In terms of pace this book is pretty good. There were slower point of course, but overall this was an entertaining read. The book didn’t completely blow me away but I did really really enjoy it. And because of that I’m going to award this book 4.5/5 – I think a fair rating for a book that receives “Exceeds Expectations” on it’s O.W.L.s.

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ARC REVIEW: THE DARK VAULT – V.E. SCHWAB

Author: V.E. Schwab
Title: The Dark Vault (The Archived, The Unbound)
Publisher: Titan Books
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
Pages: 697
Overall Rating: 5/5

I received a copy of The Dark Vault by V.E. Schwab from Titan Books in exchange for an honest review. The thoughts and opinions in this post are entirely my own.

The two novels from The Archived Series appearing together for the first time.

Imagine a place where the dead rest on shelves like books.

Each body has a story to tell, a life seen in pictures only Librarians can read. The dead are called Histories, and the vast realm in which they rest is the Archive.

Mackenzie Bishop’s grandfather first brought her here four years ago, when she was twelve years old, frightened but determined to prove herself. Now her grandfather is dead, and Mac has grown into what he once was: a ruthless Keeper, tasked with stopping often-violent Histories from waking up and getting out. Because of her job, she lies to the people she loves, and she knows fear for what it is: a useful tool for staying alive.

thedarkvault_coverThis book is everything. It’s also perfectly massive – granted, it is two titles in one but what a read. I struggled to put this book down!

The premise of this book is fascinating; when we die we become part of the archive, though from this archive some of us escape. Knowing it isn’t right those escapees can start to slip and it’s the job of keepers like Mackenzie to keep them from causing harm in the world of the living. It’s almost like we go on to form part of a library, and what book lover doesn’t like the sound of that?

Once again the author creates unique and vibrant characters, each a little bit broken in their own way. Not quite on the level of Vicious; Mackenzie and Wes at least have reasonably straight moral compasses! But each are torn in various scenarios where their role as a keeper conflicts with their inner voice. In Mackenzie’s instance; just to see her little brother one more time.

The relationship the two develop over the course of both The Archived and The Unbound is beautiful, and I think the timing and pace of both books is fabulous. Though you do have to read book 1 before book 2 they almost stand separately. You need to know the background to fully appreciate The Unbound but in terms of story the two are very individual – a further credit to Schwab’s talent as an author. A new book and a whole new adventure and something not always displayed in a series. Mackenzie almost doesn’t know how to interact with her mother and father and with the added stress of moving away from her childhood home she is simply lost. I love that Wes helps her regain some confidence, and again continues to help her as she ventures into a new school in book 2.

The pace of both of these titles is superb; both balancing just the right amount if development and detail with gripping action and adventure. I really do hope that there is more to be discovered in this world because both stories, although containing an ongoing storyline were unique and special in their own way.

If you’ve previously enjoyed V.E. Schwab’s work I wouldn’t hesitate in recommending this book to you too. The characters are perfectly developed and complement each other well, the pace is brilliant, and the story is one of a kind.

Overall I’m rating this book 5/5, with 4.5/5 for The Archived and 5/5 for The Unbound. It just took me a little while to initially get into the first book but once I got going there was no stopping me!

Thank you Titan Books for giving me the opportunity to read and review these amazing titles.

BOOK REVIEW: GRIM LOVELIES – MEGAN SHEPHERD

Author: Megan Shepherd
Title: Grim Lovelies
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Genre: Young adult, Fantasy
Pages: 375
Overall rating: 4.5/5

I’d firstly like to thank Steph (@bookslovereaders) for lending me her copy of The Grim Lovelies! I’d seen it on social media a lot but was hesitant to buy it – now that I’ve read it I’ll definitely be buying my own copy to add to my shelves!

And Happy New Year everyone! Starting the new year as I mean to go on with lots of blog posts for all your lovely people!

Seventeen-year-old Anouk envies the human world, where people known as Pretties lavish themselves in fast cars, high fashion, and have the freedom to fall in love. But Anouk can never have those things, because she is not really human. Enchanted from animal to human girl and forbidden to venture beyond her familiar Parisian prison, Anouk is a Beastie: destined for a life surrounded by dust bunnies and cinders serving Mada Vittora, the evil witch who spelled her into existence. That is, until one day she finds her mistress murdered in a pool of blood—and Anouk is accused of the crime.

Now, the world she always dreamed of is rife with danger. Pursued through Paris by the underground magical society known as the Haute, Anouk and her fellow Beasties only have three days to find the real killer before the spell keeping them human fades away. If they fail, they will lose the only lives they’ve ever known…but if they succeed, they could be more powerful than anyone ever bargained for.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Grim-Lovelies.jpgThis book is not only beautiful on the outside, but on the inside too. The Grim Lovelies is set in a hidden fantasy world in Paris, with witches, blood magic, beasties, and goblins. Humans are referred to as Pretties and never really encountered which allows the protagonist – a beastie – to give an exciting and unique encounter of a city many are so familiar with, as well as also providing the reader with an insight into this fantastical new world.

This book did have a little bit of an underlying romance which to me never really sparked. And this is the sole reason I deducted the half mark from an otherwise perfect score. I don’t really think it added anything to the story, and though I liked both characters well enough, they never seemed to fit. Relationships between the other characters was much more sophisticated and realistic allowing the reader to believe they are really in the story with Anouk, and her friends.

Even some of the secondary characters had extraordinary depth – the prince for example, was intriguing and almost gave off a Darkling vibe initially. And we all love The Darkling. This vibrant cast along with a detailed and enticing setting makes for a really great read.

The plot too was superb; providing just the right balance of mystery, adventure/action, and character development. This is certainly a book I could read over and over, and will hopefully be followed by a sequel of similar calibre. There wasn’t really a major plot twist but I do feel this book is hugely entertaining and is without doubt one of the most original books I’ve read all year. It also sets up a perfect platform for book #2 (which I will try my very hardest to wait patiently for…) where I’m sure the adventure and suspense will continue as we follow the story onwards.

Overall I’m awarding this book 4.5/5, the only real ciriticsm I can come up with is the romance part as discussed earlier. But other than that this book was entertaining, original, and flowed really smoothly – from a readers perspective – I doubt Anouk would feel the same! Other the that relationships between the other characters was perfection. Basically this book needs to be read!

BOOK REVIEW: EVERMORE – SARA HOLLAND

Author: Sara Holland
Title: Evermore (Everless #2)
Publisher: Orchard Books
Genre: Fantasy, Young adult
Pages: 346
Overall rating: 4*/5

I received a review copy of Evermore from Team Bkmrk in exchange for an honest review. The thoughts and opinions in this article are entirely my own.

Jules Ember was raised hearing legends of the ancient magic of the wicked Alchemist and the good Sorceress. But she has just learned the truth: not only are the stories true, but she herself is the Alchemist, and Caro—a woman who single-handedly murdered the Queen and Jules’s first love, Roan, in cold blood—is the Sorceress.

The whole kingdom believes that Jules is responsible for the murders, and a hefty bounty has been placed on her head. And Caro is intent on destroying Jules, who stole her heart twelve lifetimes ago. Jules must delve into the stories that she now recognizes are accounts of her own past. For it is only by piecing together the mysteries of her lives that Jules will be able to save the person who has captured her own heart in this one.

Evermore_coverHappy Book Birthday to this awesome sequel! I read Everless around a year ago – I think in the form of a NetGalley e-ARC, and although I wasn’t blown away by it, I did think it was a good, and entertaining book. You can read my review for that one here.

The sequel, Evermore follows the events immediately after Everless – where Jules is on the run from Caro and the rest of the realm as she is blamed for the murder of not only the Queen, but also her first love, Roan Gerling. The removal of Roan from the story – however awful that may sound – has paved the way for our dashing anti-hero, Liam Gerling, to take a more pivotal role. However knowing that Caro is determined to break her heart, Jules does everything to push away those she has the potential to love.

I do love a good anti-hero which is why I really would’ve liked to see more of Liam, I felt though he has a supporting role, we could’ve had opportunity to interact with him on a much more frequent basis. Though his knowledge of the Alchemist, and the Sorceress undoubtedly form the backbone of this story, and let this story accelerate to a fast-paced and exciting book. Though this pace was fantastic for keeping the reader engaged, I did feel like sometimes it was moving at 100 mph unnecessarily, and there could’ve been breathers to explore more character backstories or development. Though I’m not too worried, I know plenty about our protagonist and the other characters introduced were developed far enough to seem real.

I just liked back stories. We did start to see glimpses into Liam’s but Elias remained a mystery for much of the story for me. This is probably the only reason I’m not awarding this book the full 5 stars. For me I would’ve liked the pace to slow just a little and allow some of the secondary characters to take centre stage for a short time.

I liked the language, as I did before, and being told from just a single point-of-view it was easy to follow. I have read some books recently that jumped between points of view so fast it got a little confusing at times, so I enjoyed the fact that I could so easily follow this book and each time I picked it up again I would know exactly who was where.

Another slightly negative point for me was the 1-dimensional plot; it was a bit lacking when it came to sub-plots. It was great for main plot as there were no breaks and the reader wasn’t left waiting for an explanation, but I like to have lots of subplots going on – for me it brings the story to life more. However I know some people don’t care for them as they can sometimes be weak themselves and take away from the main story.

Overall I’m awarding this book 4* out of a potential 5; for me I would’ve liked some slower sections to discover more about characters and their individual stories, and I think this would make room for more in-depth sub-plots too. But overall I think Sara Holland has produced a strong sequel to Everless and conclusion to the duology, and I’m looking forward to seeing if anything else is done with this series in the future.

BOOK REVIEW: THE DARKEST LEGACY – ALEXANDRA BRACKEN

Author: Alexandra Bracken
Title: The Darkest Legacy (The Darkest Minds #4)
Publisher: Quercus Books
Genre: Sci-Fi
Pages: 582
Overall Rating: 4.5/5

I received a copy of The Darkest Legacy from TeamBKMRK in exchange for an honest review. The thoughts and opinions in this post are entirely my own.

Five years after the destruction of the so-called rehabilitation camps that imprisoned her and countless other Psi kids, seventeen-year-old Suzume “Zu” Kimura has assumed the role of spokesperson for the interim government, fighting for the rights of Psi kids against a growing tide of misinformation and prejudice. But when she is accused of committing a horrifying act, she is forced to go on the run once more in order to stay alive.

Determined to clear her name, Zu finds herself in an uncomfortable alliance with Roman and Priyanka, two mysterious Psi who could either help her prove her innocence or betray her before she gets the chance. But as they travel in search of safety and answers, and Zu grows closer to the people she knows she shouldn’t trust, they uncover even darker things roiling beneath the veneer of the country’s recovery. With her future-and the future of all Psi-on the line, Zu must use her powerful voice to fight back against forces that seek to drive the Psi into the shadows and save the friends who were once her protectors.

I was so happy I received a copy of this book (along with a movie tie-in copy of The Darkest Minds with some really awesome bonus movie pictures content) as I’d fallen in love with the original trilogy earlier this year. Set a few years after the third book in the series, The Darkest Legacy now follows Zu on her path; from a government spokesperson, to being back on the run.

Though I admittedly prefer the focus being on Ruby and Liam (I just love their characters), this book did help me connect more with Zu, I always liked her but finally giving her centre stage just give her that bit more life.

Being written entirely from Zu’s point of view kind of makes the reader a little biased, particularly towards Roman and Priya in the beginning, but as with the original “gang” they all ended up being likeable in their own way. Alexandra Bracken has again provided a gripping story, that I’m not sure can be really classed as an adventure when one is fighting for their life and freedom – I wouldn’t call The Hunger Games adventurous… Each of the newly introduced cast comes to life gradually as the story progresses – as different scenarios and encounters reveal increasingly more about their pasts.

Being continually on the run, this book is reasonably paced, particularly when you consider its size. Even though I really love the in-the-moment adrenaline filled scenes, I did love learning about the two new protagonists and their histories. The way they were then brought together towards the end of the book was really clever too and added a whole new angle from which to view the micro-scale conflicts.

I found the nod to political and current affairs both interesting and harrowing – to think that although this is a dystopia novel, with very extreme events, certain modern day countries aren’t too far off this behaviour. Particularly backtracking on years of progress to fight prejudice, racism, and discrimination.

This book discretely provides important messages, as well as being an entertaining read and fantastic continuation of the original trilogy. Overall I’m awarding this book 4.5/5. For me the only reason I deducted a half point from the rating was simply because for the most part of the book I missed the original trilogy and it just didn’t feel the same. Though the end of the book made up for this and I can’t wait to read on in the series.

ARC REVIEW: MIRAGE – SOMAIYA DAUD

Author: Somaiya Daud
Title: Mirage
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Genre: Sci-Fi
Pages: 320
Overall Rating: 4.5/5

I received a copy of Mirage from Hodder & Stoughton via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The thoughts and opinions in this post are entirely my own.

In a star system dominated by the brutal Vathek empire, eighteen-year-old Amani is a dreamer. She dreams of what life was like before the occupation; she dreams of writing poetry like the old-world poems she adores; she dreams of receiving a sign from Dihya that one day, she, too, will have adventure, and travel beyond her isolated moon.

But when adventure comes for Amani, it is not what she expects: she is kidnapped by the regime and taken in secret to the royal palace, where she discovers that she is nearly identical to the cruel half-Vathek Princess Maram. The princess is so hated by her conquered people that she requires a body double, someone to appear in public as Maram, ready to die in her place.

As Amani is forced into her new role, she can’t help but enjoy the palace’s beauty—and her time with the princess’ fiancé, Idris. But the glitter of the royal court belies a world of violence and fear. If Amani ever wishes to see her family again, she must play the princess to perfection…because one wrong move could lead to her death.

This book was an odd one for me. Don’t get me wrong I thoroughly enjoyed it though to me it read more like a fantasy set in a desert-like country (similar to Rebel of the Sands) than a Sci-Fi. That aspect almost seemed forced – like the author wanted it to be a Sci-Fi but relied too heavily on the familiarity of this world to describe and set the scene. That being said I think this is the only negative thing I really have to say about this book!

Amani – our protagonist – is kidnapped and taken from her moon right in the middle of her coming of age ceremony. She has just received her marks to identify her as a woman when droids invade the ceremony, scan her face, and steal her away. What could the royals possibly want with her?

That question is soon answered, and The book then continues on a trajectory of hushed rebellion, a seemingly cruel princess secretly wanting to do what is right, and a forbidden love.

The relationship which developed through the pages between Amani and Maram is a complex one and it is a real credit to the author that a reader can go from despising a character to making them root for their redemption in just one book. This was Maram – utterly cruel, until she starts to let her guard down. And through the eyes of Amani we see this transformation of character, almost like Amani was entirely blinded by hatred for the conquering royals but eventually saw the conflict that lay there too. Much different to the conflicts within her village but present all the same.

Though there are few parallels between the world of oppressed villagers and the world of royalty compared in the story, those that are outlined carry important messages and are fundamental to the story.

The pace of this book is pretty good in my opinion. I have read reviews where people have said the beginning was too slow for them, and everyone is entitled to their opinion, and I do see why someone might feel that way. For me this introduction was imperative in setting the scene well and laying the foundations for relationships and plot twists later on in the story. I enjoyed these parts; concentrating on world building and detail rather than favouring pace and action over an intricate and carefully build world.

I thought I’d got this book figured out mid way through but was pleasantly surprised to find out I was wrong (I both love and hate being right. I feel a sense of achievement and pride but then the book is less entertaining). So it is safe to say that this is a good book with a strong storyline and a satisfying twist.

I am very excited to see where the rest of this series goes! The ending delivered just the right amount of intrigue to have me desperate to read the next book! Similarly to the rest of this book, the ending is strong, and maintains the pace set.

Overall I’m awarding this 4.5/5. Initially the setting and people seemed forced but as the book went on the author settled into a steady pace and provided an entertaining and engaging story. I’d recommend this to fans of the Rebel of the Sands series by Alwyn Hamilton, or Grace and Fury by Tracy Banghart.

Thank you to Hodder & Stoughton for giving me the opportunity to read and review this book. I can’t wait to see what book #2 brings.