Being brutally honest about books

Showing posts with label dystopian. Show all posts
Showing posts with label dystopian. Show all posts

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

The good, the bad, and the ugly: The Red Queen (The Obernewtyn Chronicles #7) by Isobelle Carmody

The Red Queen (The Obernewtyn Chronicles, #7)
Exciting ending makes up for slow rest of novel.

The good

  • Elspeth (protagonist) isn't hung up on her missing love interest, and Gets Shit Done.
  • The whole Habitat plot at the start was interesting, although it could (probably should) have been a separate book in its own right.
  • More worldbuilding - we get to see more of the physical and cultural world Elspeth lives in.
  • I guessed one of the plot twists 50 pages before it was revealed - I love it when I'm right!
  • Exciting last 250-300 pages
  • Cute ending
  • Overall, the story is a good conclusion to the series, however...

The bad

  • Too many characters, and after so long I couldn't remember who they all were.
  • Too much dystopia, not enough fantasy in a time when every other YA book is dystopian (however, it's interesting to get a combination of the two).
  • The dialogue is too formal even between characters who are close - realistically, people use contractions. 
  • I can't remember any LGBTQ representation in the book or the whole series. If there's any, it's not made explicit or positive. It's a long series with lots of characters, and The Red Queen was published recently in 2015, so there's no excuse.

The ugly

  • Needs significant editing and proofreading (Isobelle Carmody asked fans to let her "hone and polish and conclude this last book at my own pace" but it seems she didn't succeed, as it's riddled with typos as if it's a first draft - which it might be).
  • Twice as long as any book needs to be
  • Slow-paced for the majority (eg. there's no running until 250 pages in)

The summary

After years spent struggling to balance her desires with her responsibilities, Elspeth Gordie has fully embraced her role as the Seeker. Battle-scarred and lovelorn, haunted by memories of her beloved Rushton, Elspeth is not prepared for what she finds at the end of the black road she travels: the Compound, a lost community with a startling secret. As Elspeth strives against her captors, she learns that Rushton and her friends have fallen into the hands of the deadly slavemasters that rule the Red Land. And worst of all, as Elspeth stumbles, the Destroyer creeps ever closer to his goal: awakening the cataclysmically destructive weaponmachines that Elspeth has been charged with stopping. Has all her sacrifice been in vain?

Full of romance, action, and suspense, The Red Queen is a worthy finale to such a breathtakingly elaborate series.

Add it on Goodreads

Monday, 22 December 2014

The Jewel (The Lone City #1) by Amy Ewing

The Jewel (The Lone City, #1) 
Date finished: 22 December 2014

I wouldn't say this book was bad, but I didn't enjoy it. I just got frustrated and couldn't see any good points. I only picked it up because my mum gave it to me and said it's meant to be good, but it was a waste of time for me.

Okay, the good: The cover. The Jewel has a beautiful cover. So much so that I didn't want to take it with me on holiday because I didn't want to ruin it. Looking at the gorgeous cover lures you into wanting to read it.

Now, the bad. First things first: I cannot stress enough how sick I am of dystopian. This story could be set in a fantasy or sci-fi world and still work, but no. It has to be dystopia. Because that's what all the popular books are these days. And I'm tired of it. Every author wants to write the next Hunger Games or the next Divergent, and if every one of them did that, there would be no original stories anymore.

The worldbuilding is problematic. Why do they have to be protected from the ocean? Why is the city in that particular shape? Who is the government/in charge? (If it's the Exetor and the Electress, that needs to be made clearer.) Why the hell do the Augeries exist? If the surrogate/Auction thing has been going on for so long and the surrogates are brought up knowing what they have to do, why do they question it? See, I love a good revolution, but there seems to be no reason for them to rebel against what they have known for years will happen to them, when they have already accepted it. And there aren't exactly revolutionaries (that we are aware of) spreading their propaganda. These questions could be answered in the next book in the series, but if there's going to be some big reveal, then there should be more emphasis on what we do know.

I honestly couldn't understand why Violet hated the Duchess so early on. She seemed to be a fair mistress, and Violet was lucky to be sold to someone who isn't as cruel as the other royal women. I think it would have made sense for Violet to like the Duchess at first - then when she found out what the Duchess expected her to do in regards to enhancing the baby, there could have been some big betrayal and their relationship could break down.

Oh yes, there is also the problem of insta love. Violet falls in love with Ash because... why, exactly? Because he's hot? Because he likes music too? Because she thinks he's like her - trapped? So is everyone else in the city! This infuriated me. I think he could have been a cool character, if they hadn't fallen for each other at first sight. It's a shame, because he had potential to be awesome.

Somehow, the writing annoyed me. It was too...polished. Too perfect. That probably doesn't make sense, because writers spend a lot of time making sure their novel is perfect. And yet, in The Jewel it just doesn't seem genuine. Maybe I simply didn't like the style it's written in? Maybe I didn't like the protagonist's voice, if she even had one? I can't explain it.

As a recently self-diagnosed tokophobic, I could at least empathise with Violet's desperation to not get pregnant and carry the Duchess's baby. The whole surrogacy thing made me uneasy, and all I wanted was for her to get out of there. I'm not sure if that was sympathy for Violet, though, or my own anxiety speaking. But I hated that she didn't get free yet. Also, the twist at the ending infuriated me! I like Garnet, and I want to know more about his involvement in Violet's escape, but I also don't want to read the next book.

Anyway, I had a lot of problems with this book. The ideas were good, they just weren't executed well. I didn't like it, but I didn't hate it either, thus the two star rating.

Sunday, 27 April 2014

The Elites by Natasha Ngan

The Elites 
Date finished: 27 April 2014
Original review, ie. not posted on Goodreads
While I was reading this I thought that I'd only give it three stars, but then I finished it and decided that hey, it's original and unique, so why not give it four? Because, hello, it's a dystopian novel set outside America! And how many of those have you read? Okay, that little fact there might be the main reason that I liked it so much. Oops. But honestly, it is so refreshing to read something that isn't American, something that's written in proper English. 

I love the cover, which is usually what makes me pick up a book in the first place. Cover, title, author. (But not always in that order.) Anyway, yes, I like the background image and the girl dressed in awesome action-movie-type-clothes. And the font of the title. I'm a sucker for cool fonts. 

One of the best things about this book is that everything was resolved. There's no need for a sequel, because the author is good enough to get the conflict solved in one book. Most dystopian novels are in trilogies (Hunger Games, Delirium, Divergent, etc...) but the narrative in this one was fast enough to not need two more books afterwards.

One thing I didn't like so much was the lack of explanation of the setting. We don't find out much about what caused the other countries and cities to fall, and why Neo-Babel was the only one to survive. I would have liked to know, and I'm sure that one paragraph would have been enough to tell us.

I liked having a heroine who isn't white European. So many books have non-white supporting characters, but in how many is the actual protagonist a different ethnicity? So I enjoyed having the Chinese ("Red") Silver go through her struggles.

I thought the romance was sweet, although I kind of wish it had happened just a little bit later on. I guess I just love angst, and the thought of Silver and Butterfly shouting "I love you"s in the middle of an action sequence is me being a romantic.

I absolutely adored the ending. It was so powerful. Those three lines: Something bright. Something strong. Something precious. They're just perfect to end a book with. They highlight Silver's character and applaud her journey.

In conclusion, this book is definitely worth reading! I recommend it to all readers who love dystopian YA novels. It's fast-paced, thrilling, and there is rebellion and romance. Go ahead and read it.
I'm Alexandria, a 19-year-old reader/writer/blogger from New Zealand. I love language, history, and sci-fi. Hi! I'm always around if you want to talk, which you can do via comments, the contact form, or Facebook.

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