Tag Archives: young adult

BOOK REVIEW: The Young Elites Trilogy by Marie Lu

“Absolute power corrupts absolutely.”
– John Acton

5 Stars

I started Young Elites expecting a usual no-nonsense Young Adult novel—apparently I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I ended up finishing the entire trilogy in a span of two and a half days.

Finally, something different.

This review covers the entire trilogy so heads-up: Heavy spoilers ahead.

For the first time, the star is not a hero—but an antihero. Adelina stands out among today’s crop of YA heroines because she is exactly what they are not. We’ve seen it a hundred times: A seemingly ordinary girl who eventually becomes the key to the world’s survival or something like that. It’s a tale as told as time, and frankly I’ve grown tired of it. Young Elites is none of that. This is a story of the rise and fall of a villain—and her eventual redemption. In this series, I saw a mirror of our reality: how nations are born, how they are conquered… how one dictator falls only to be replaced by another. It showed problems our society faces constantly each day: How hate begets hate, how it becomes a cycle that gets nurtured until it peaks. It’s dark, it’s mature, and amidst all the powers and monsters: there is truth.

Young Elites started with Adelina as a weak little girl, not knowing her place in the world and how to use her power. I journeyed with her through her torments until she found the first group of people that accepted her. I saw how she fell in love and how she got betrayed over and over. I watched how the bitterness of life slowly took its toll on her. I knew what was happening: How the darkness in her slowly brewed, cultivated by her sufferings and the people who hurt her. I stood witness as her power heightened and slowly corrupted her—how her ambitions and cruelty grew stronger each page. I knew she was no hero—yet I couldn’t bring myself to hate her. Because I knew her story. Nobody here was pure. Each character had darkness in them—even sweet Violetta. In a way, I rooted for the villain. I think that’s what the author wanted. Because in reality, we all have darkness in us. We all want to succeed, to become powerful, to be on top. Adelina was our personal darkness personified.

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Honestly, I think the series could’ve stopped at book two and succeeded. I thought that final sentence at the end of Rose Society was perfect on its own. The beginning of Midnight Star felt a little out of place. I found myself doubting the author, “Where is she going with this?” The first two books were so strong and I didn’t want to be disappointed with a weak conclusion. The third book started off weak, yes, but the final chapters were what saved it. That part where Adelina was bargaining for her sister’s life and was contemplating what she has, would, and could become was beautifully written. My heart broke as she pictured her future with Magiano—a future that she’ll never have. It felt like it was also being wrenched away from me. I wanted them to have more time—I wanted them to have a life. The voice in me wanted her to stay. Who cares about Violetta? She’s had an easy life! It was as if I’ve become the dark whispers in Adelina’s delusions. I wanted her to be selfish. I wanted ­her, not Violetta. But then as she wrestled with her thoughts, so did I. She was right. And it was devastating because I knew it was the right choice—the only choice. Still, my heart broke for Magiano. I finished the book with a little hatred for Violetta. Why did she get everything Adelina worked so hard for?Her life has always been easy—and in the end Adelina’s life work was just handed to her on a silver platter. It’s not fair! But then again, life is never fair. I guess, like Magiano, I’ll just have to live with what we are dealt with.

Would I recommend this? Yes. It’s a breath of fresh air among redundant girl-saves-the-world plots in today’s bookshelves. If you liked Mistborn and Graceling then I think you’ll like this. If you’ve read this and liked it, then try those titles I mentioned.

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Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

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2 Stars


“In school, we learned about the world before ours, about the angels and gods that lived in the sky, ruling the earth with kind and loving hands. Some say those are just stories, but I don’t believe that.

The gods rule us still, they have come down from the stars. And they are no longer kind.”

Imagine Graceling meets Princess Diaries and you’ll have something like The Red Queen. Mare, the heroine of the story, discovers that she possesses a power she’s not supposed to have. Of course, inevitably, she becomes a key figure in a rebellion against a corrupt and prejudiced system. Basically, in this world, there are two kinds of people: Reds and Silvers. Reds are normal humans bound to serve, while the Silvers are elite humans with special abilities and destined to rule over all. That’s the status quo, has been for centuries, and of course, the rebellion seeks to change that. I won’t say anything more about the plot to avoid spoiling so I’ll just spill my thoughts regarding the substance of the book.

This book had a lot of potential. It started off strong. However, as the world building was set-up, it started to become a little chaotic. First of all, world-building is very important to me. When I read Fantasy, may it be YA or High Fantasy, I expect to be fully immersed and introduced to its world. There has to be consistency and clear visuals in my head. Although the book clearly described Norta, I found a lot of elements to be disjointed and frenzied. Medieval, steampunk and other eras were all mixed in together which made visualizing a clear world a bit difficult.

I also had a problem with Mare. I found her character weak. She didn’t have a very strong conviction. There were times I questioned what she was really fighting for. The love triangle also felt forced and pathetic. I mean, seriously? The characters fell in love with each other without much basis. They barely had any substantial interaction, they barely knew each other, and they’re willing to risk their lives for something so feeble? I’m sorry but just don’t buy it. It felt like a high school infatuation more than anything else. The character development was so weak I didn’t make any connections with any of them. I didn’t feel anything for their suffering, for their deaths, or triumphs. Nothing. It was hard for me to root for Mare because she never showed me enough to make me believe in her.

Overall, this was a very disappointing book. I understand how some people might love it, especially YA readers. But for hardcore Fantasy readers like me, this is way not up to par. I get how some people see similarities between Red Queen and Graceling because of the special powers, but believe me that’s as far as it goes. It’s like comparing freshly brewed Columbian coffee to a hotel’s free 3-in-1 sachet.

Will I read the second book? Probably. But I won’t be running to the bookstore to get it.

 

Still Point by Katie Kacvinsky (Awaken #3)

4 Stars

I’ve been staring at my screen for a while now, tears still damp on my cheeks, trying to figure out how to write this review.  I haven’t cried over a book and haven’t been in this state of both bittersweet heartache and contentment since  Please Ignore Vera Dietz. In this trilogy ender, Maddie’s story has finally come to a Still Point.

First of all I would like to thank the publisher for sending me an ARC of this book. I’ve always loved the Awaken series and it is truly an honor. Still Point, how do I even start? I read this book in three hours, no breaks, no standing, nothing—and the emotional aftermath is still with me as I write this.

“Life is supposed to be a risk. It’s written everywhere around us. We are meant to take chances. We are meant to explode and shatter and spiral. Even if we break, we’ll come back to a still point.”

Still Point is a very satisfying ending to a series that has captured me from book one, although I must admit the closing chapters felt a bit abrupt and too rushed in terms of how the events played out. In this final installment, Maddie and Justin face the final battle against Digital School. I think, the core of this book is about making decisions and realizations about ourselves that we never even knew about. Things happen, people change, and we learn that choices we once thought we made aren’t always our final ones. This book left me heartbroken, contented, satisfied and sad all at the same time. I am pretty sure fans will end up feeling the same way as well once they finish this.

I don’t want to say anything that might spoil the story but I think the final words of the book summed it up perfectly, justifying it in a way that I cannot argue with. Not all people will like how this story ends but how can you hate something if it ended right? As for me, I accepted it for what it was and relished the end of a good series. Let’s just put it this way—life happens the least way we expect it, in ways that shape us into who we are, into who we will be, and sometimes we end up somewhere we never expected to be in but that’s how life is. If this series has taught us anything, it’s that life is meant to be experienced. Never settle for anything less.

“Our fingers have spaces between them, just like life, and things fall through. Part of my life was ending so a new part could begin. But first you have to let go. You have to open your fingers and let slip.”

EXPECTED RELEASE DATE: September 2, 2014

Continue reading Still Point by Katie Kacvinsky (Awaken #3)

Beautiful Oblivion by Jamie Mcguire (Maddox Brothers #1)

2 Stars

A lot of people will probably hate me for this review but I have to be honest. How do I even begin? I feel so many conflicting emotions right now but hovering above them all is disappointment. Beautiful Oblivion left me with a strong feeling of dissatisfaction. I think the only thing worse than starting a book with prejudice is starting one with too much expectations.

I loved Beautiful Disaster and Walking Disaster so I was very excited to read this one—which I think contributed to the frown on my face as I write this review. Most reviews I’ve read from fellow book bloggers and in Goodreads have been positive and everyone talked about this big twist—people were shocked, upset, surprised, you name it. I blame the lateral-thinking addict in me for being so epicly let down by the twist that shattered the Jamie Mcguire fanbase because I was not surprised at all. I figured it out very early on in the book, probably too early—that it killed all the excitement. I believe I’m not the only one who had it all figured out from the start. Was it because I knew there was a twist and I was actively looking for it? Honestly, I felt that the secret was laid out so clearly throughout the story it was almost impossible to miss! This is why I’m baffled as to how many have failed to see it.

The “Big Secret” aside, let’s get on with the story. This book is about a different Maddox brother, Trenton. What is it about the Maddox boys? There’s something about them I can’t quite put a finger on. Maybe it’s the darkness in them? Come on, I’m sure every girl dreamt of taming the bad boy , being that one girl that finally gets the wolf settled—I think this is where the charm of this series comes from. Trenton definitely lives up to the Maddox name. He has the looks, the charm, the fighting skills, almost everything Travis—only, he’s not Travis. Sorry but I’m still a Travis girl through and through. The story runs parallel to BD and WD so we get to see snippets of events as seen by the people around Abby and Travis. We even get some “deleted scenes” so to speak–things that happened off-text from the original books. I thought those parts were interesting.

Beautiful Oblivion is supposed to be the first part of a series focusing on the Maddox brothers and I’m guessing all of them are just as hot as Travis and Trent, and I’m sure Mcguire fans will devour them just as eagerly. The truth is I didn’t enjoy this book as much I would’ve liked. It’s hard not to compare it to Beautiful Disaster, impossible even, and that’s where lies the problem for me. Travis and Abby’s story was volatile, tender, destructive, innocent and all-consuming all at the same time—this one just didn’t have that same fire and gentleness. That doesn’t mean this is a bad book, it just didn’t hit the right spot for me. Anyway, I’m sure fans of the original books will still find themselves engrossed regardless of its shortcomings.

“I wish you could see yourself through my eyes. Every woman who’s met you wants a shot at you. How could you ever think you’re the consolation prize?”

 

My Goodreads Review

Read my other reviews for Jamie Mcguire’s books:
A Beautiful Wedding
Walking Disaster
Beautiful Disaster

Want to know what THE SECRET is?
*Ultimate Spoiler* Read at your own risk!

Continue reading Beautiful Oblivion by Jamie Mcguire (Maddox Brothers #1)

Paradigm by Ceri Lowe (Paradigm #1)

3 Stars

“There’s surviving and then there’s living.”

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. First thing’s first, I’m sure many young readers will notice the eerie resemblance between the covers of Divergent and Paradigm, and I really wish they chose a different cover for this one because the two are totally different in theme and in story.

I really liked the idea behind this book. For a young adult dystopian novel, it has a very realistic and mature backbone. For a brief backstory: a devastating Storm hit the Earth around 2015 that nearly submerged everything to nonexistence. Thankfully, Paradigm Industries saw something like this would happen and built a massive underground complex made to withstand years of isolation to ensure survival. The story happens through the eyes of two characters: Alice and Carter. Alice’s story revolves around the beginning of the Storm, right after the world ended, and the new one began. Carter’s, on the other hand, happens generations later—a time wherein the new society has long been established.

“We must want to work together, to live together, to survive together. Or we all die together.”

I must admit, Paradigm hit something close to home. I live in the Philippines and I don’t know if you guys are aware but my country experiences devastating typhoons almost yearly. In fact, it was raining while I was reading this book. And here, when it rains—it pours. Some might think the Storm in the book can’t really happen, but you’re wrong. I’ve seen it happen, although perhaps not as cataclysmic as in the novel. The city I live in has been flooded to more than 10 feet high, submerging houses and buildings, more than once, and not long ago, a part of my country has been massacred by typhoon Haiyan—so yes, I am fully aware of how destructive water can be, which made it so easy for me to visualize Paradigm’s world. It was interesting that the main cause of the apocalypse in this story was the climate. It’s a relevant and more mature theme when compared to its peers. One thing I was not fully satisfied with the Storm was its origin. There wasn’t enough information given to how it came to be. Was it global warming? Was it a government experiment gone awry? I suppose, and hope, more explanation will come from the following books being that this is the first of a trilogy.

Another thing I’m disappointed with was the lack of character development. I liked Alice’s character, but Carter seemed to pale in comparison. I couldn’t connect with him at all. It greatly bothered me how weak his character was—I mean, all his life he was preparing for this one thing, then one day he meets some strangers and a girl who he hasn’t seen in fifteen years, who tell him things and he suddenly bends his beliefs just like that? I believe in the power of curiosity but it was shown from the early chapters how solid his views were. It was as if in a snap he decided to tread another path. It felt so out of character that I couldn’t find a way to root for him afterwards.

Overall, despite some of those misses, this is a promising debut novel. Readers might find some themes of the book in resonance with The Kill Order, Matched, City of Ember, and A Brave New World, but it still offers a fresh story.Will I read the next book? Yes. However, I do hope there will be more backstory and better world-building in the following installments. And I hope Carter finally finds his backbone along the way. After all, he’s the one carrying this story to its future.

Starters by Lissa Price (Starters #1)

3 Stars

“I’d started with a lie, and now it was just about impossible to untangle it without breaking something.”

NOTE: This is an old review, I just edited and added some things to it

I grabbed this book because the cover was interesting and when I read the jacket summary, I was intrigued, so I bought it. To give you a glimpse of how the book feels like: It’s like Hunger Games meets Surrogates slash Gamer. If you’re familiar with those three, then I guess you’ll have a vague idea on how the theme of the story plays out.
Continue reading Starters by Lissa Price (Starters #1)