Friday, July 21, 2017

Review: The Elite by Kiera Cass


Title: The Elite
Series: The Selection #2
Author: Kiera Cass
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication Date: April 23, 2013
Format: E-Book

Page Count: 336

Rating: 

The Selection began with thirty-five girls.
Now with the group narrowed down to the six Elite, the competition to win Prince Maxon's heart is fiercer than ever—and America is still struggling to decide where her heart truly lies. Is it with Maxon, who could make her life a fairy tale? Or with her first love, Aspen?

America is desperate for more time. But the rest of the Elite know exactly what they want—and America's chance to choose is about to slip away. (taken from goodreads.com)


“Sometimes I feel like we're a knot, too tangled to be taken apart."

Do I keep reading this series because the covers are so pretty? Probably.

So, I didn't really enjoy The Selection. America's character, the cliché plot, and poorly developed romance left me less than impressed. However, I held out hope for this second novel. Why? I'm not sure, but some part of me was crossing my fingers that I'd like The Elite a bit more.

As soon as I cracked the spine, the love triangle was thrown right in my face. Aspen or Maxon, Maxon or Aspen? On and on and on. Dear Lord, this entire novel was one drawn out angst-fest. I had so many problems with the troublesome romance. First of all, America has absolutely no sense of loyalty. None! Sure, she isn't betrothed to either of the men, but she throws herself into her relationship with both of them and doesn't even stop to consider their feelings or hers. Secondly, the relationships are just so flat. Seriously, I'm not even sure why she loves either of them, and I'm even less sure as to why they're obsessed with her.

Which brings me to my next point: America. Get. Your. Crap. Together. She's such a ridiculous character. One second she wants to revolutionize the country, and the next she's sobbing because one of her boy toys said something hurtful. She's a complete train wreck, and I literally wanted to shake her the entire book.

As for the story... well, there isn't much of one. The first few chapters are mostly recap, and then very few big events spur the story onward. There is progress, but America is so infuriating and the romance is so bleh that I couldn't even be bothered to care about the rest.

And yet, I still might read the next book. Why? I have no idea. I guess some naïve part of me really wants to see America grow. She's immature, reckless, and utterly irritating, and yet I have hope for her. Plus, I do want to see how this STUPID love triangle ends, because I'll be damned if I've forced myself through 700 pages of angst only to never find out how it ends.

So, I'll probably hate the third book, too, but I'm still going to give it a chance. If you haven't started The Selection series, then here's my advice: don't. There are so many other books out there that have some of the same elements but are better.
 


Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Waiting on Wednesday: Shimmer and Burn

Waiting On Wednesday was created by Jill over at Breaking The Spine. It's a weekly post for you to share what upcoming books you can't wait for!

Title: Shimmer and Burn 

Author: Mary Taranta 
Release Date: August 8, 2017


To save her sister’s life, Faris must smuggle magic into a plague-ridden neighboring kingdom in this exciting and dangerous start to a brand-new fantasy duology.

Faris grew up fighting to survive in the slums of Brindaigel while caring for her sister, Cadence. But when Cadence is caught trying to flee the kingdom and is sold into slavery, Faris reluctantly agrees to a lucrative scheme to buy her back, inadvertently binding herself to the power-hungry Princess Bryn, who wants to steal her father’s throne.

Now Faris must smuggle stolen magic into neighboring Avinea to incite its prince to alliance—magic that addicts in the war-torn country can sense in her blood and can steal with a touch. She and Bryn turn to a handsome traveling magician, North, who offers protection from Avinea’s many dangers, but he cannot save Faris from Bryn’s cruelty as she leverages Cadence’s freedom to force Faris to do anything—or kill anyone—she asks. Yet Faris is as fierce as Bryn, and even as she finds herself falling for North, she develops schemes of her own.

With the fate of kingdoms at stake, Faris, Bryn, and North maneuver through a dangerous game of magical and political machinations, where lives can be destroyed—or saved—with only a touch. (taken from goodreads.com)

Why I Need It: 

Magic? Plague-ridden kingdom? Slavery? Hm, sounds intriguing. This is Mary Taranta's first novel, so I've never heard anything about her writing, but the story sounds interesting. Shimmer and Burn comes out next month, and I'm looking forward to seeing what everyone thinks of it. 

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Review: Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff


Title: Illuminae
Series: The Illuminae Files #1
Authors: Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: October 20, 2015
Format: Hardcover

Page Count: 608

Rating: 

This morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do. This afternoon, her planet was invaded.

The year is 2575, and two rival megacorporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than an ice-covered speck at the edge of the universe. Too bad nobody thought to warn the people living on it. With enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra—who are barely even talking to each other—are forced to fight their way onto an evacuating fleet, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit.

But their problems are just getting started. A deadly plague has broken out and is mutating, with terrifying results; the fleet's AI, which should be protecting them, may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady hacks into a tangled web of data to find the truth, it's clear only one person can help her bring it all to light: the ex-boyfriend she swore she'd never speak to again.

BRIEFING NOTE: Told through a fascinating dossier of hacked documents—including emails, schematics, military files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, and more—
Illuminae is the first book in a heart-stopping, high-octane trilogy about lives interrupted, the price of truth, and the courage of everyday heroes. (taken from goodreads.com)


“The universe owes you nothing, Kady. It has already given you everything, after all.
It was here long before you, and it will go on long after you.
The only way it will remember you is if you do something worthy of remembrance."

When your best friend and #1 reading buddy plops a book in your lap and tells you that YOU MUST READ IT RIGHT NOW, you don't waste time: you crack that sucker open and start reading. As soon as I heard her raving review of Illuminae, I knew I was in for a ride. Boy, Kristoff and Kaufman did not disappoint. I guess there's a reason that 99 percent of the book blogging community has been singing this book's praises for almost two years now.

Okay, so let's start with the basic structure of this novel, which is unlike anything I've ever read. The entire story is crafted through a series of military files, artistic renderings of artificial intelligence, interviews, and most predominantly, instant messages. I'll admit that at first I really was hesitant about embracing such an odd storytelling method, but in the end, I think it really worked for this strange piece of science fiction. Not only did it feel a little bit more authentic, but it also lent an extremely original feel to this already fascinating space tale. Additionally, I find it extremely impressive that I was able to bond with the characters despite the unusual writing style.

I will admit that certain parts of this document story telling confused me. With so many references to coding, hacking, artificial intelligence, space travel, etc., it was a bit difficult for a non-sciencey person like myself to keep up. I don't venture into the realm of science fiction very often, possibly because I end up with a headache whenever I do. These references definitely didn't deter my admiration for Illuminae, but they did have me skimming sections of the novel occasionally.

Like I said, I find it insane that I grew to love the characters through little more than text messages, security video descriptions, and interviews. Bravo to the authors for impressively crafting deep, compelling characters in such an unusual manner.

As for the plot... well, that was a wild ride. We've got everything from ginormous space ships to futuristic battles and dangerous plagues. Seriously, buckle your seatbelts because it's going to be a bumpy ride with this sci-fi novel. I flew through it in almost one night, which is pretty crazy considering how busy I've been lately.

Final statement: I'm sure you've already been told to read this book by someone, but let me join in the choir and say that this book rocks. Definitely give it a shot if you're in the mood for science fiction with a splash of romance and reckless shenanigans. Oh, and don't worry, I've already made plans to pick up the second book, Gemina, ASAP.



Monday, July 17, 2017

Review: The Selection by Kiera Cass


Title: The Selection
Series: The Selection #1
Author: Kiera Cass
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication Date: April 24, 2012
Format: E-Book

Page Count: 336

Rating: 

For thirty-five girls, the Selection is the chance of a lifetime. The opportunity to escape the life laid out for them since birth. To be swept up in a world of glittering gowns and priceless jewels. To live in a palace and compete for the heart of gorgeous Prince Maxon.

But for America Singer, being Selected is a nightmare. It means turning her back on her secret love with Aspen, who is a caste below her. Leaving her home to enter a fierce competition for a crown she doesn't want. Living in a palace that is constantly threatened by violent rebel attacks.

Then America meets Prince Maxon. Gradually, she starts to question all the plans she's made for herself—and realizes that the life she's always dreamed of may not compare to a future she never imagined. (taken from goodreads.com)


“Ah yes, the man or the crown. I'm afraid some can't tell the difference.” 

My verdict on this Hunger Games/The Bachelor mashup is... meh.

And that truly is what The Selection is: a compilation of a romantic reality show and the political, dystopian lottery installed by a controlling government. It's like someone took a less impressive version of Katniss and her world, then added a bunch of fancy dresses, flirting, and makeup. To be fair, I know that a lot of people really loved this series, and it wasn't all bad. I've seen many reviewers refer to Cass' novel as a guilty pleasure or a train wreck (you can't look away, even though it's terrible at points).

From the first chapter onward, the presence of a love triangle is clearly set up. Aspen is basically Gale (strong, serious, takes care of his loved ones despite being extremely poor). I immediately prepared myself for the inevitable battle between a dark-headed survivor and a blonde-headed sweet prince. Yawn. The Hunger Games references don't stop there. So many characters and plot occurrences had me rolling my eyes at Cass' lack of originality. America even has a songbird necklace that reminds her of home... shocking. There are so many better dystopian novels out there, and I feel like Cass was just piggybacking on their success and adding a sprinkle of girly fashion and romance.

America was just terrible. I'm sorry, but I truly couldn't stand her. She's that girl who practically shouts to the world "I AM SPECIAL AND DIFFERENT." Obviously, she has no interest in being a princess or wearing make up because she's better than that, and without even trying, she's more lovable than any of the other girls. She's a special YA snowflake if I ever saw one, and I was annoyed by her character through most of the novel.

Plus, her emotions towards both Maxon and Aspen were absurd. Half of the time, she's completely devoted to her first love, and the other half, she seems to have forgotten him entirely. Her flip-floppy feelings made an already stupid love triangle even more unenjoyable. Not to mention that both Aspen and Maxon are less than interesting.

Okay, here's the thing: I've already picked up the second novel, and I'm going to give it a shot. Weird, right, since I obviously don't have many good things to say about The Selection? The thing is, I have hope. Perhaps the second book will break away from the cliché dystopian story Cass has created, and (fingers crossed) America might grow into a less annoying character.