Showing posts with label urban. Show all posts
Showing posts with label urban. Show all posts

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

[Review] Daughter of Smoke & Bone (#1) - Laini Taylor: Chimeras and Wish-Granting


In DAUGHTER OF SMOKE & BONE, Karou who was raised by wish-granting chimeras yet knows nothing of their world, is cast into the human world after angels destroy the portals she uses to visit her family.

What intrigued me: Honestly? The hype about Taylor's writing. I didn't even know what this is about when I started it.

Promising

DAUGHTER OF SMOKE & BONE starts off with a lot of world-establishing backstory that I really would rather have skimmed. The awkward part is, the side characters that are used to establish the world aren't really that important after all and could have as well just have been omitted.

The real story and actual premise with the angel attack only starts about a hundred pages in (!!). In consequence, the book is structure-wise all over the place. While I do found the world very intriguing and absolutely longed for any and every explanation that clarifies the demon/chimera mythology, the book does its best not to do that, but play into clichés instead.

...but everything goes wrong

The novel is divided into two parts: one being the introductory storyline, following Karou around and learning more about her family - fabulously developed world, super interesting concepts that are SO unique that I'm in awe. It's witty, it's charming, it's fun, it had all the ingredients for a five-star-read.

The second part though, is a cheesy, rushed and unnecessary instant love romance with a character that doesn't even talk to Karou until about 65% into the book, and that truly ruins the story. Not even the plot twist (that you could see from a mile away!), redeemed this book for me. I didn't enjoy anything involving the angel Akiva and felt utterly confused and thrown out of the story whenever he suddenly got his own point of view chapter for seemingly no reason.

To me, he absolutely destroyed this wonderful book. I don't have a problem with adding romance to this story per se, but his introduction is just way too late and his only attribute is his beauty. I don't understand why he was even in this, if Taylor wanted a love interest, I would have absolutely enjoyed seeing the hilariously cocky ex-boyfriend Kaz with Karou. It would have certainly made more sense, but like this I feel like his character is just a set up for the inevitable love triangle in the sequels.

I honestly don't know what happened here, the book absolutely changes directions half-way in and makes all the mistakes you can make to the point that this doesn't even feel like it's the same person writing the story anymore.


Rating:

★★☆☆

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

DAUGHTER OF SMOKE & BONE could have been epic. Its concept reminds me a lot of INKHEART, similarly bubbling with new ideas that I haven't seen in any other novel before, creating a rich and imaginative world. The romance, however, absolutely ruined this, causing DAUGHTER OF SMOKE & BONE to be nothing but yet another urban fantasy read with a sappy instant-love romance and an unsympathetic melodramatic pretty-boy love interest.



Additional Info

Published: September 27th 2011
Pages:  418
Publisher: Little Brown Books
Genre: YA / Urban Fantasy
ISBN: 9780316134026

Synopsis:
"Around the world, black hand prints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky.

In a dark and dusty shop, a devil’s supply of human teeth grows dangerously low.

And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherworldly war.

Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real, she’s prone to disappearing on mysterious "errands", she speaks many languages - not all of them human - and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she’s about to find out.

When beautiful, haunted Akiva fixes fiery eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?"(Source: Goodreads)



 Have you read any books by Laini Taylor?

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Monday, March 28, 2016

[Review] City of Glass (TMI #3) - Cassandra Clare: This Whole Incest Drama Is Getting Old



In CITY OF GLASS, the gang has to travel to Idris to find the one person that can help save Clary's mother and awaken her from the sleeping spell.

What intrigued me: Well, I had my issues with CITY OF ASHES and powered through it because I was hoping it would get better.


It all goes downhill from here...

What really caught my interest in this series in the first place was the brilliant first person narration in CITY OF BONES. By the third installment every character gets a point of view passage, even minor characters. There are multiple POV changes, sometimes even twice per page, and the only purpose they serve is info-dumping. 

Clare dumps information wherever she can, introducing minor characters for the sole purpose of narrating a bedtime story length flashback that nobody wants and nobody needs to understand the story. The main storyline is Clary, Simon and the shadowhunter gang (Isabelle, Alex, Magnus, Jace) going to the shadowhunter country Idris to find a cure for Clary's mother who has been in a coma for what feels like 78 years.

In itself, that's a great premise right there and I was hoping the series would start to catch my attention again, but it really just got worse. There are too many characters, too many complicated family relations that nobody cares about, and the reader is just not grounded. I wasn't rooting for anyone, how could I possibly when there are POV changes all the time? Not a single character in this is properly developed and just changing the POV doesn't really mask that. 

Who are all these people???

Yet again, I did not care. Clary and Jace are so replaceable and annoying, three books of their weird incest romance aren't going to change anything. I didn't care about them, even less about the mysterious new guy in Clary's life that's trying very desperately to kick off a new love triangle. I just... I can't. I'm sorry, but the character relationships are just non-existent. I had no fun, I wasn't rooting for anyone. 
I kept flipping back and forth trying to remember who all these shadowhunter families and their 427847382 offsprings are, I feel like you need an actual lexicon with all the names in order to understand everything that's going on. It's just not for me. It's too complicated, it requires way more attention that I'm willing to give, and I'm just really over it. 


Rating:

★★☆☆

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

Absolutely not. One bad sequel is all every book series I start gets. But two bad sequels are unforgiveable.



Additional Info

Published: March 24th 2009
Pages: 541
Publisher: Margaret McElderry Books
Genre: YA / Fantasy / Urban Fantasy
ISBN: 9781416914303

Synopsis:
"To save her mother's life, Clary must travel to the City of Glass, the ancestral home of the Shadowhunters - never mind that entering the city without permission is against the Law, and breaking the Law could mean death. To make things worse, she learns that Jace does not want her there, and Simon has been thrown in prison by the Shadowhunters, who are deeply suspicious of a vampire who can withstand sunlight.

As Clary uncovers more about her family's past, she finds an ally in mysterious Shadowhunter Sebastian. With Valentine mustering the full force of his power to destroy all Shadowhunters forever, their only chance to defeat him is to fight alongside their eternal enemies. But can Downworlders and Shadowhunters put aside their hatred to work together? While Jace realizes exactly how much he's willing to risk for Clary, can she harness her newfound powers to help save the Glass City - whatever the cost?"(Source: Goodreads)



 Did you make it past CITY OF GLASS? What's your secret?

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Monday, January 25, 2016

[Review]: City of Ashes (TMI #2) - Cassandra Clare



In CITY OF ASHES, the second book in the The Mortal Instruments series, über villain Valentine Morgenstern steals the second of the mortal instruments very conveniently shortly before it will be used in a trial against Jace.

I liked the first book alright, but didn't really enjoy this one at all. There is a multitude of reasons for that, mostly because it's nothing like the first. 

Not what I bargained for

CITY OF ASHES isn't told from Clary's perspective. The booksisn't even about Clary anymore. The first one set up a new world being introduced to her and gave off the vibe that it all would be about her. But really, the books are more about showcasing this insanely big world Clare has created. 

The new omniscient narrating perspective is very confusing and makes this feel more like an adult novel than a YA. In general, this is unlike any YA I've ever read. It's hardly possible to root for any characters because the perspectives are changed all the time, a new character gets introduced every twenty pages and also brings more information dump with them. 

Clare is the queen of information dump. Oddly enough, she seems to be aware of this and just decides to stop explaining 3/4 into the book. New weapons, new demons, new runes, everything thrown at you without any explanation whatsoever. I feel like you need a lexicon to read this. I had no idea what was happening to whom with what weapon and how half the time. Trying to make sense of action scenes is very short from being torture. 

Why it's not worth DNF-ing either

There's a lot wrong with this book and I didn't enjoy it half as much as I did CITY OF BONES, which didn't even receive a very good review from me either. 

However, this insane world full of new concepts and beings is just too interesting to quit. The writing is sub-par at most, full of cringe-worthy similes and annoying foreshadowing, and unlikeable characters. Still, I probably won't quit this series. I want to know what Valentine did to Clary and Jace. I want to know more about this world. And this is why these books are so popular and beloved, I think.
Even when you acknowledge and fully realize it's mediocre at most, you won't quit. You won't want to. Let's hope the third one doesn't make me want to claw my eyes out.


Rating:

★★☆☆

  

Overall: Do I Recommend?

Ugh. I'm not even going to attempt to answer this truthfully. They're a guilty pleasure. Just do whatever you want but be aware that this isn't high class literature.



Additional Info

Original Title: City of Ashes
Author: Cassandra Clare
Published: March 28th 2008
Pages: 453
Genre: YA / Fantasy / Urban
ISBN: 9781416914297

Synopsis:
"Clary Fray just wishes that her life would go back to normal. But what's normal when you're a demon-slaying Shadowhunter, your mother is in a magically induced coma, and you can suddenly see Downworlders like werewolves, vampires, and faeries? If Clary left the world of the Shadowhunters behind, it would mean more time with her best friend, Simon, who's becoming more than a friend. But the Shadowhunting world isn't ready to let her go — especially her handsome, infuriating, newfound brother, Jace. And Clary's only chance to help her mother is to track down rogue Shadowhunter Valentine, who is probably insane, certainly evil — and also her father.

To complicate matters, someone in New York City is murdering Downworlder children. Is Valentine behind the killings — and if he is, what is he trying to do? When the second of the Mortal Instruments, the Soul-Sword, is stolen, the terrifying Inquisitor arrives to investigate and zooms right in on Jace. How can Clary stop Valentine if Jace is willing to betray everything he believes in to help their father?"(Source: Goodreads)


 Have you read CITY OF ASHES?

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Saturday, December 5, 2015

[Review] City of Bones (TMI #1) - Cassandra Clare


In CITY OF BONES, human girl Clary Fray accidentally gets mingled up in a paranormal demon hunt.

What intrigued me: Especially among bloggers, Clare receives a lot of criticism for her alleged plagiarism. I haven't read any of her fan fiction, bur it's very obvious that most characters in this are inspired by Harry Potter.

I mean... the racist leader Voldemort Valentine who wants to purify the wizard world shadowhunter world by starting an unnecessary war against muggle-born wizards downworlders? Well.

I'm probably the last person to read this, but I don't regret it. This is book is definitely a roller coaster.

Welcome to the City of Cringe

However, Clare did her best to disguise this by building a very elaborate and unnecessary complicated world around her Shadowhunters, the guys who rid the world of icky demons. It took me 300 pages to even remote understand all the character dynamics and even after finishing the book, I don't get all the lingo. There is definitely too much content for the size of this book and there are too many parallels to Harry Potter characters to even pretend you don't see it. It's all been said before, and everyone is right with their criticism.

Her metaphors are really just as omnipresent as all reviewers say. And they're just as bad.


"[his facade] was as hard and shiny as the coat of lacquer on one of her mother's Japanese boxes" (pp.138/139, Margaret McElderry Edition)

I have a distinct dislike against flowery prose and having one of these every 250 words doesn't improve the quality of her writing. On the contrary actually. I have never read about this much voices described as combinations of colors and some kind of liquid before.

Which even makes it all worse is that her characters talk more like adults than actual adults. I have NEVER cringed this hard. This worst thing is that this comes out of nowhere, one second they're talking about everyday stuff the next second one of them says something like this:

"simple ontological reductionism is clearly a fallacious argument"
(Jace Wayland, pp. 307)

I mean, it would work if Clare had a pretentious character that's notorious for saying weird things like this, but she doesn't. It feels like whenever she thought of a pretentious line, she just inserted it into the novel right away. All her characters do this.

Next stop: The City of Acknowledgement

As much as there is to hate and cringe, CITY OF BONES is by no means a bad book. Not even close. Her writing captivated me from the start and I couldn't put it down. I've spent nights awake because I had to continue reading. I don't know how she does it, how she managed to put so many clichés and cringe-worthy prose into one book and somehow created an interesting book. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely hate that I like this. I really do.

Jace and Clary have no chemistry whatsoever (!!!!!), honestly, they hardly interact because the plot is too dense for them to even share a single conversation that's genuine. All their conversations are info-dumps with unnecessary back story. Don't get me started on the side characters. Clare basically just dumped them somewhere in the background and then let them return having madly fallen in love with each other. Yikes.

Regardless, I respect Clare insanely for pulling it off to turn a fan fiction into this and produce a mediocre book that's so, so, so captivating. It's a like a bad soap opera that you can't force yourself to turn off.


Rating:

★★☆☆

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

I guess. You just have to read it yourself to understand my utter confusion and sort of positive dislike for this? I don't know, I have never read a book like this.



Additional Info

Published: March 27th 2007
Pages: 485
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Genre: YA / Fantasy / Urban
ISBN: 9781416914280

Synopsis:
"When fifteen-year-old Clary Fray heads out to the Pandemonium Club in New York City, she hardly expects to witness a murder― much less a murder committed by three teenagers covered with strange tattoos and brandishing bizarre weapons. Then the body disappears into thin air. It's hard to call the police when the murderers are invisible to everyone else and when there is nothing―not even a smear of blood―to show that a boy has died. Or was he a boy?

This is Clary's first meeting with the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the earth of demons. It's also her first encounter with Jace, a Shadowhunter who looks a little like an angel and acts a lot like a jerk. Within twenty-four hours Clary is pulled into Jace's world with a vengeance, when her mother disappears and Clary herself is attacked by a demon. But why would demons be interested in ordinary mundanes like Clary and her mother? And how did Clary suddenly get the Sight? The Shadowhunters would like to know... "(Source: Goodreads)


Have you read CITY OF BONES? 
I'd love for you to link your reviews in the comments!


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Wednesday, April 29, 2015

[Review] Helen and Troy's Epic Road Quest - A. Lee Martinez


In HELEN AND TROY'S EPIC ROAD QUEST , minotaur Helen and her coworker Troy accidentally walk in on their boss performing an ancient ritual.

Very eccentric

This is the second novel by Martinez I read, and if I'm really honest, I'm going to admit that his style isn't my cup of tea at all. Martinez writes about absolutely abstruse things in a very eccentric way. His writing is somewhere between the hilarity of S.G. Browne novels and the sheer madness and messiness of Chuck Palahniuk's.

You definitely have to be into novels that aren't written to be taken seriously and have to be read sarcastically to like this. I'm not a fan of mixing this with excessive world building: In the novel all fictional creatures such like elves, minotaurs, orcs and many, many more are part of society. Some of them, especially the rarer ones like minotaur Helen, are frowned upon. Some others are just seen like regular members of society. Of course the entire concept is a form of social critique, but Martinez absolutely lacks in execution.

I like the effort he put into his world, but his characters, especially the protagonists Helen and Troy are very, very flat. If you're going to make use of a lot of sarcasm, it can easily translate to the reader like you're writing a parody. I'm not a fan of flat-out parodies with characters that are only metaphors and don't even mean anything to the author.

Lack of chemistry

I don't understand why these two would be interested in each other, either platonically or romantically, because they don't have any kind of chemistry. Not at all. Another thing that massively bothered me about Martinez' writing: Whenever he doesn't know how to explain certain behavior or has plot holes in it, he breaks the fourth wall and lets his characters acknowledge it. That's not a stylistic device, this is just bad writing!

The plot has so much potential and it saddens me that it's just absolutely lacking direction and structure. The world of the novel has to many possibilities to create something great, there are so many interesting fabulous creatures in it and Martinez' just ignores it all for a mediocre story line about two boring teenage characters going on a quest that doesn't even make any sense. I'm disappointed.


Rating:

☆☆

  




Synopsis:
"
Witness the epic battle of the cyclops!

Visit the endangered dragon preserve! Please, no slaying.

Solve the mystery of The Mystery Cottage, if you dare!

Buy some knick knacks from The Fates! They might come in handy later.

On a road trip across an enchanted America, Helen and Troy will discover all this and more. If the curse placed upon them by an ancient god doesn't kill them or the pack of reluctant orc assassins don't catch up to them, Helen and Troy might reach the end their journey in one piece, where they might just end up destroying the world. Or at least a state or two.

A minotaur girl, an all-American boy, a three-legged dog, and a classic car are on the road to adventure, where every exit leads to adventure. Whether they like it or not.
 "
(Source: Goodreads)



 What's your favorite Greek mythology read?



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