Title: Strange the Dreamer Author: Laini Taylor Published: March 28, 2017 Genre: Young Adult Fantasy Synopsis: Lazlo Strange has spent his life recording the mystery that is the unseen city of Weep. Even its name is lost. Lazlo heard the name stolen from his … Continue reading
Title: A Torch Against the Night (An Ember in the Ashes book 2) Author: Sabaa Tahir Publication Date: August 30, 2016 Note: An advanced copy was provided by the publisher, but opinions are my own. Genre: Young Adult Fantasy Synopsis: *This is the second book in … Continue reading
Titles: Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, Fairest, Winter
Author: Marissa Meyer
Genre: Young Adult Science Fiction/Fantasy
Synopsis: A series of fairy tale retelling that take place in the future. The first is a retelling of Cinderella with her as a cyborg.
Review: It is hard to put my thoughts about this series into words. On one hand, I really loved the first three books which I read one after the other. On the other, I wasn’t a fan of the novella, Fairest, and my opinion of Winter is a conflicting mess.
All four of these books are very fast paced. I read them in a short span of time because they’re the type of books that have one thing happen directly after another. That said, I think I would have enjoyed Winter much more if I had read it long after the other three books.
I read Cinder and Scarlet one after another about a month before the release of Cress. I read Cress within days of its release. This means that I had over a year to wait between the release of Cress and Winter.
This series is character driven. The readers’ enjoyment depends very much on how much they care about the characters. I’m not going to go into details because I don’t want to spoil anything, but each book in this series adds a new main character as its focus while continuing the ongoing plot line from the previous books.
By the time the story gets to Winter there are a lot of narrators. This isn’t necessarily a problem as Marissa Meyer is good at jumping between narrators and story-lines. The way the multiple perspectives were handled especially well in Cress where I really enjoyed the characters’ various story-arcs.
In Winter I still never felt the urge to skip any character’s perspectives. Everything included still seemed interesting and relevant, but I felt like because there were so many characters there wasn’t much time to focus on any one. Because of the time I spent between reading Cress and Winter I feel as if I lost connection to the characters and was never able to entirely regain it.
One of my favorite parts of the Lunar Chronicles is how the retelling aspect is executed. While the story is technically a retelling with several callbacks to the original story woven throughout, it also has an ongoing original story-arc connecting all of the books together. This ongoing original story helps to keep the book from being too predictable.
That said, I felt the world-building could have been better executed. Often while reading I had trouble understanding what was being described, and how the world had gotten to be how it was in the Lunar Chronicles from how it was now. This is especially true of the governments in the story. I have a hard time seeing how so many large countries would revert to being ruled by monarchies in which the emperor/king/queen had such a significant amount of power, and how said countries came to have the boarders that they did.
The Lunar’s essentially magical “gift” was especially difficult for me to understand. I didn’t see what the limits of using it were, and was confused about how certain people came to have so much more control than others.
Rating: I’m giving the series a 4.5/5 overall because of the amount of time I’ve spent obsessed with it.
Title: Six of Crows
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Published: September 29, 2015
Genre: Young Adult High Fantasy
Synopsis: When a substance is developed that turns magic users known as Grisha into mindless slaves of great power the world is put at risk. A crew of six thieves are hired to pull off the heist that could save the world.
Six of Crows is a great book, and so much fun to read. It was very reminiscent of some of my favorite fantasy novels, but at the same time stood apart from others in this category.
The strongest aspect of Six of Crows is the characters. In spite of the fact that there are so many narrators, each one comes across as distinct. I especially appreciate the fact that the characters actually acted like thieves.
In many books the character will go around saying that they’re known as an assassin, an experienced solider, or have a lot of experience stealing from important people, but then when it comes down to the act of either murdering or stealing something they hesitate.
This has never come across as realistic to me. At the same time, however, I recognize why many authors chose to portray their “ruthless” characters in this manor. It is difficult to sympathize with a person who can harm or steal from innocent people and feel no remorse, but Bardugo managed to pull it off.
The relatively small number of characters with magical abilities made them all the more impressive. The main characters in Six of Crows are highly skilled individuals, yet for many of them these skills are natural in origin (ie intelligence), but the characters use them in such a way that seems almost supernatural.
That said, the magic that we did get to see was a great addition to the story. My favorite aspects of the first book and a half that I read of the Grisha Trilogy was the world-building, so I was more than happy to reenter that world in Six of Crows.
Bardugo has created a very complex magic system different from what I’ve seen in many fantasy novels (especially YA) where the magic is often glossed over. Though this novel has much less focus on the magic system than the Grisha Trilogy, it managed to further expand upon it by showing what a Grisha’s power can do when pushed to extremes.
The world itself was expanded upon as well. I really liked how many of the characters in this novel were from very different parts of this world as this isn’t something we often get to see in fantasy, which often focus on one region of the world the writer has created.
The only negative criticism I have to offer is related to the reason I did not finish the Grisha Trilogy. That is to say that a significant portion of this novel was spent on build up. This is not to say that nothing happens, quite to the contrary, things seem to go wrong quite often. What I mean is that I spent most of the book anticipating the climax of the actual theft as opposed to anything the characters were trying to overcome at that particular moment.
I really wanted to love the Grisha Trilogy because I have a signed copy (see the image below), but am so glad that I can now consider myself a fan of Bardugo thanks to this book. I was hesitant to read this one because I thought I might need to finish the Grisha Trilogy first, but was pleased to find that this duology stands on its own.
In any case, I managed to get a hold of a signed bookplate. Used as a book mark, really like the way my copy of Six of Crows looks:
What readers should know: Though this book keeps everything very vague, one of the narrators was forced to work in a brothel against her will. She has since left this profession behind, but still bares negative effects of her time there.
As stated in this review the thieves in this book truly act as thieves. This means that some of the narrators steal and kill people throughout the story. There is also some language.
Rating: This is a really great book. I highly recommend it to fans of fantasy and people trying to get into fantasy.