Fiction

Book Review: Anything That Isn’t This

Well this was a surprising read. Not just a typical YA dystopian novel, but a peculiar, artistic novel complete with illustrations throughout.

For some reason, I wasn’t expecting the strange world that Priestley created in this book. The Grey is suffocating Frank, the Ministry controlling his every decision. Most people are okay with it, comfortable in the routine provided. But Frank wants more.

First, Frank is obsessed with a girl from his school. Even after they graduate, he is desperate to be with her – he believes they’re ‘fated’. But after a while, he realises that maybe she’s not quite right for him.

This combines two typical YA romance plots – the “unpopular boy gets the cool girl” and also the “childhood friends become lovers” plot. I think it’s a bit unusual to mix the two, but I didn’t find anything spectacular about this aspect of the novel.

The whole book has a very strange abstract sort of feel to it; I was unsure at times whether to actually take what he was saying at face value or take it as a metaphor. There are loads of weird myths that are thrown around, many of which play a big role later in the book. 

The friendship with Scape was interesting; it kind of just happened out of the blue and ended in a similar way. And Mr Vertex was a weird character – it was obvious there was something strange about him, and I felt he really added to the abstract feel created.

The book kind of felt grey, but not in a bad way – as in, I felt how Frank felt about his life. I was pretty shocked by how dark it got at the end, quite suddenly. The ending was a bit of a whirlwind, followed by a moment of calm. The calmness was nice, an interesting ending that left your imagination running wild.

I didn’t really enjoy this book at first but I did eventually get into it, and quite liked it. I definitely liked the unique feel it had, almost like Coraline. 3.5 stars.

Advertisements

Book Review: Everybody Hurts

I don’t usually read cheesy YA romance novels, and very rarely do I enjoy them much. This was kind of an impulse read, and I probably wouldn’t have read it usually. But I’m glad I did.

It is pretty cheesy, and the voices of the characters are maybe over-exaggerated and trging-too-hard. But something about the writing was just really good, and I often found myself not wanting to put it down. Even though it was about love and sex and brain tumours. 

Jango is an interesting character, who seems like a plain old bully/idiot at first but actually turns out to be pretty good. His home life is complicated, and his friendship with Matt is more valuable than he lets on. But near-death experiences bring out the truth – and Jango’s affectionate, kind side.

Like I said before, it does all feel a bit too artificial – the “teenage” lingo is just not right, and the events are maybe played out to be more dramatic than they needed to be. I’m not actually sure how much I liked either of the main characters, but the telling of the story was great and made up for any dislikes I had.

It is a bit of a feel-good, cheesy romance in the end, which is nice to read sometimes. It’s got a lot of twists – bad luck, bad tempers – that make it a bit more unique than similar YA romances. 4 stars.

Book Review: Inkheart

This book was orginally written in German, but has been translated into many languages over time. Obviously, I read the English edition. It’s also been adapted to a film, which I’m sure I have seen but can’t remember.

Meggie is 12, so a rather young protagonist. But this book didn’t feel overly immature, despite the young age of the main character.

The story is rather complicated, but it involves a lot of books, magic, and villains. It is quite an innocent book, I think, especially with the sweet, happy ending that it has. But again, it’s not immature or childish. 

Dustfinger was an interesting character, often walking the line between good and bad. I am interested in seeing more of him throughout the rest of the trilogy. Capricorn was quite a traditional, old-fashioned villain, giving it a sort of old fairytale feel. I loved the idea of the books coming to life when you read them.

I was also a big fan of the romantic perspective this story gives on books in general; I personally adore reading and loved hearing books being described in such wonderful ways. I definitely identify with Elinor in that way – even if my name is spelt slightly different!

It’s quite a long book but not hard to read at all. It’s sweet and innocent and exciting, with the kind of magic I remember from reading when I was younger. 4.5 stars.

Book Review: The Earthsea Quartet

The Earthsea Quartet (The Earthsea Cycle #1-4) by Ursula Le Guin – Paperback, 681 pages – Published: October 28, 1993

As the title suggests, this is a collection of the first four books in the Earthsea Cycle. It took me just over a month to read it, but obviously I read about 5 books at the same time so that probably didn’t help.

The first book in this collection was published in 1968, so the writing does sound pretty old-fashioned. The last book was more modern, and my favourite of the four. But the archaic style suits the story; an Archmage in the ancient land of Earthsea accidentally summons a being of great evil, and must right his wrongs. We also meet Tenar, a girl sacrificed to the Nameless god’s, who is present in two of the stories. Ged, the Archmage, makes an appearance in all the stories, but is only the protagonist of two. The switching of POV was an interesting choice and may be an annoying feature to some, but definitely gave a lot more depth to the land.

The book is “only” 691 pages long (which, for a quartet, does not seem particularly large) but did drag on quite a lot at times. I found the first three stories to be presented densely on the page, making it take longer than average to read. The last book was a lot easier in my opinion. 

The passing of time was not documented much, but that didn’t seem to affect the story. I wasn’t particularly invested in Ged – I liked him, but didn’t feel much emotion from or for him. Tenar and Therru were my favourites – I’m sincerely hoping to hear more about Therru in later books.

This was a proper fantasy read, being commonly known as one of the most important books in its genre. It isn’t a light and easy read, but once you get into it it is rather enjoyable. 3.5 stars; only being raised by the fourth book in the collection.

Book Review: The System

The System

The System (The Killables #3) by Gemma Malley – Paperback, 357 pages – Published April 10th 2014 by Hodder (first published December 5th 2013)

I finally got round to reading the conclusion to The Killables trilogy!

It’s been quite a long time since I read the first books, so I had forgotten some of the details. But as I read, I started to remember what had happened previously and was able to appreciate the current story.

After escaping the City, Evie, Raffy, Linus and Benjamin are now trapped in a world where everyone is being Watched. People actually made a living off of being Watched by strangers around t

The world, by having people see their daily lives and every thought. But Thomas, the leader of Infotec, isn’t satisfied; he still wants Linus to create the System he had originally thought of.

Frankie is one of the most Watched girls; her boyfriend, Milo, is high-up within Infotec and has really boosted her Watcher numbers. But an anonymous message encourages Frankie to write a blog post about the UK, and Milo suddenly turns pretty hostile. Suddenly Frankie is being thrown in the back of a van, her ID chip removed and given to some random doppelganger now claiming her identity. Frankie isn’t about to go down without a fight, though, and with the help of the anonymous messager, she escapes the Infotec enforcers.

There are a lot of switches between the POV this story is being told by, but after few chapters, the characters start to come together in one story.

A group of people are determined to tell the rest of the world about the UK – which was believed to have been destroyed by the Horrors. But Thomas is not going to let that happen easily – he’s more than happy to dispose of anyone threatening his company.

The future Malley has created is, in my opinion, quite plausible. Vlogs on YouTube are already super popular, and this isn’t that big a step up from that. And the System Thomas wants from Linus is probably not too far-fetched, either.

Frankie and Milo are probably the most important new characters in this book. Frankie was developed pretty well throughout the story, slowly discovering the truth and realising how she had been manipulated by Infotec. She’s not a big fan of Evie when they first meet, though, and I kind of thought Malley emphasised that more than was necessary. Milo also developed a bit, but with more of a sudden switch being flicked later in the book.

This was a good conclusion to the trilogy, and I enjoyed reading it. It maybe tries a bit too hard to be edgy, with swear words being thrown around and things like that. Still, I liked it. I felt a bit of Scott Westerfeld’s Uglies coming through at times, but not enough that it felt samey or anything. 4 stars for the final Killables book.

866A98B32CBD639D32E20CEBF70E4491

Graphic Novel/Comic Book Review: Batman: The Killing Joke

Batman: The Killing Joke

Batman: The Killing Joke by Alan Moore and Brian Bolland – Hardcover, Deluxe Edition, 64 pages – Published March 19th 2008 by DC Comics (first published 1988)

I went to London Super Comic Con on Friday and bought a few image books/graphic novels (I can’t wait to read them!) and decided to start taking advantage of my boyfriend’s extensive comic/graphic novel collection. As I’ve been intending to read The Killing Joke for ages now, I decided to start with that.

The edition I read included an introduction by Tim Sales, an afterword by Brian Bolland, and a final scene written and illustrated by Bolland.

This is one of the most famous and successful novels – and I can see why. The story is just fantastic – the Joker tries to prove that anyone can go insane after just one bad day, using Jim Gordon as his example. The colour palettes are so cleverly thought out, giving an eerie, creepy tone to most scenes, while the Joker’s (possible) origin story is mostly black and white with just small details in red.

Batman is obviously included, but is not a massive character in this story. The focus is on the Gordons and the Joker.

I really loved this. The origin story for the Joker that’s included can be taken as true or false – the Joker makes a comment about not actually remembering his past, and liking it to be “multiple choice”. This gives the reader the choice of believing it or not. And the Joker’s ways of putting Jim Gordon through hell are definitely in line with his character.

The Joker always fascinates me, and I would love to read all his stories. But whether you’re a “fan” of his or not, this book is definitely worth the read. 5 stars; an fantastic novel.

866A98B32CBD639D32E20CEBF70E4491

Book Review: Rippler

Rippler

Rippler by Cidney Swanson – eBook, 285 pages – Published March 8th 2013 by Williams Press (first published May 26th 2011)

This book is available for free on Kindle devices and apps over on Amazon, which is where I downloaded it from.

The book begins with Sam “rippling” – become invisible in front of her friends. No one sees it happening (assuming she just fell in the river) except for Will. From here, the two of them form a close bond, and Will tells Sam about the research his sister has been doing into Rippler’s Syndrome.

Researchers studying the Rippler gene have mysteriously died, leaving Sam, Will and his sister Mickie to assume they were murdered. They need to be careful to avoid being found – especially since two of the trio have the gene themselves.

Sam also discovers the truth about her mother’s death when she was young, which has some unexpected links to the murder of the researchers. Mickie becomes more and more fearful for the safety of her little brother, and Sam finds herself afraid of losing Will when Mickie considers moving them away.

The Rippler gene is a fantastic idea, plausible and well thought through. The symptom of the gene – the turning invisible – haven’t been explained particularly well yet, but that may come later in the series.

I did find the writing a little amateurish at times; the phrase “she/he/it was explained” was repeated quite often in place of actually writing the explanation. I’m not sure if this was to avoid lengthy descriptions of things that had already taken place or just to avoid having to write it out in detail, but it was something I noticed often. Also, Swanson tries to avoid repeating names and uses what reminds me a school-child method; describing the person, calling them things like “my mother” or “his big sister” in place of simply writing their name.

There are some aspects of romance, but they have yet to be fully developed. There’s also friendship drama, where Sam’s friend, Gwyn, believes her to be in an abusive relationship. This assumption was possibly a bit too dramatic and far-fetched, but the idea of Sam being torn between Gwyn and Will was good.

I enjoyed reading this book, and am thinking about reading the next novel in the series. However, I definitely did notice where improvements could have been made. 3.5 stars.

866A98B32CBD639D32E20CEBF70E4491

Book Review: The Heir

The Heir

The Heir (The Selection #4) by Kiera Cass – Paperback, 342 pages – Published May 6th 2015 by HarperCollins Children’s Books (first published May 5th 2015)

This is the fourth novel in The Selection series by Kiera Cass. Twenty years after the Selection which led to the marriage of America and Prince Maxon, this book follows their eldest daughter, Eadlyn. As the older twin, she is destined to inherit the throne instead of her brother. She’s been preparing herself for the role since birth, and had every intention of doing so alone. But when the removal of the caste system fails to satisfy the public, it’s clear that a distraction is required. Reluctantly, Eadlyn agrees to take part in a Selection herself – but she’s certain she will not end up with a husband.

Much like her mother, Eadlyn’s attempt to avoid affection towards the candidates is futile; she actually finds herself feeling friendship (or more) to several of the boys she meets. Still, she tries to remain distant – romance was always her brother Ahren’s thing.

The twins are as close as is possible, but Eadlyn finds herself fearing the loss of him. He’s been deeply in love with the French heir for a while, and Eadlyn’s attempt to separate them backfires drastically. And then, on top of everything, their mother falls ill suddenly. Finally, Eadlyn begins to realise the importance of this Selection.

The reluctance to actually engage in the Selection was very similar to America in the first book. Too similar, maybe. And the change of heart followed the same pattern, too. But maybe it won’t end in love this time. (I’ll have to read the next book and find out!)

Eadlyn’s quite a “typical” feminist sort of figure – believing she will be the best queen without any husband around. But Ahren makes a fantastic point, saying she’s able to fall in love and have a beautiful wedding and love fashion and flowers while still being the strong, brave queen she is inside. To me, that’s what feminism is truly about. It was nice to see this view – from a boy, nonetheless – challenging the original view of Eadlyn.

Also, Eadlyn is a very strong, blunt girl most of the time – her way of being strong is, often, being rather rude. And eventually, she actually sees that in herself and realises that maybe she doesn’t have to be that way to be powerful and successful. Her admiration (and jealousy) of Ahren’s girlfriend also confirms this; she’s a petite, gentle girl, but is taken seriously by everyone around her. She is not harsh like Eadlyn, yet she is not taken for granted by anyone. A girl can be beautiful and feminine, yet still be a powerful authoritative figure.

Although it was pretty similar to the first book, I still did enjoy it. And Eadlyn’s attraction to so many suitors means that this could go any way, so I do look forward to finding out who she will end up with – if anyone. This series has always been really enjoyable and easy to read. 4 stars for The Heir.

866A98B32CBD639D32E20CEBF70E4491

Graphic Novel/Comic Book Review: Shade, the Changing Girl Volume #1: Earth Girl Made Easy

Shade, the Changing Girl Volume #1: Earth Girl Made Easy

Shade, the Changing Girl Volume #1: Earth Girl Made Easy by Cecil Castellucci – eBook, 151 pages – Published July 18th 2017 by DC Entertainment (first published July 4th 2017)

I haven’t read Shade, the Changing Man and didn’t know anything at all about this comic when I read it. I had no clue what to expect, but it was definitely rather interesting.

The first thing I noticed was definitely the colour. The art was amazing, so quirky and expressive. Immediately, I was hooked on this book. The art alone drew me in, and I loved looking at every page.

The plot was also pretty wild. Loma Shade, a strange alien creature, steals the “madness vest” and takes control of the comatose body of Megan Boyer – leaving her ex-boyfriend behind as she ventures to Earth. Everyone believes her to still be Megan, and Shade struggles to fit in and right Megan’s wrongs. But it was only meant to be a bit of fun – not a permanent situation.

Shade eventually confides in a new-found friend about her true identity, but everyone else still thinks she’s just Megan. But Shade is nothing like Megan, and no one has missed the sudden change. But the change is welcome, for the most part – it turns out that Megan wasn’t the nicest girl around.

pro_reader

Thank you to the author/publisher for accepting my request to read and review this book

There were also some mini stories included at the end, which were really interesting, about some new characters.

It is a very, very strange comic, and I loved the art. But I didn’t really connect with Shade that much, or feel any emotion for or from her. I’ll probably read more at some point, and perhaps then I’ll begin to enjoy it even more. For now, I’m giving it 3.5 stars. I loved the art, and the plot was good, too. I just hope to feel more emotion from Shade.

866A98B32CBD639D32E20CEBF70E4491

Graphic Novel/Comic Book Review: New Super-Man Volume #1: Made in China

New Super-Man

New Super-Man (DC Universe Rebirth) Volume #1: Made in China by Gene Luen Yang – eBook, 146 pages – Published June 27th 2017 by DC Entertainment

I finished this novel on the car journey to Wales last week. This comic was on my to-read list, but I didn’t really know much about it. As it was available via NetGalley I decided I might as well request and read it now.

China has begun to see more and more Western-style criminals, one of which Kong Kenan decides to stand up to. Kenan, a teenage bully, soon finds himself in the spotlight – and the focus of Laney Lan. And then suddenly he’s Super-Man. He even gets to work with Wonder-Woman and Bat-Man, making up the Justice League of China, to defend the streets from the masked villains prowling them.

But when he finds out the identity and origin of a certain group of these villains, Kenan finds himself straddling the line between good and bad. Which side will he choose?

Kenan is a bully, and so he has the crappy, douchey attitude of one. But I found him too much of an idiot, too rude and stubborn and just annoying. My boyfriend said it kind of makes him more relatable, more human, but I just did not like him. The story is never quite as interesting when you dislike the protagonist.

pro_reader

Thank you to the author/publisher for accepting my request to read and review this book

The story wasn’t too similar to the original hero’s, which was good, but I’m not all that keen on the whole “Super-Man” title or whatever. The hyphen is more annoying than anything, and I just feel like they could’ve taken the opportunity to be more creative. And there were a fair few similarities to Superman, too, such as him learning to control his powers. Yet, this was still made different – his way of harnessing the powers was very different to Superman’s. I kind of thought the powers would be more similar, as they are meant to be the same, technically, but oh well.

I’m not mad on this comic, but maybe it will improve later on. As for this volume, I’m going to say 3.5 stars. It’s okay, but I’m not all that interested in it.

866A98B32CBD639D32E20CEBF70E4491