I'm a bookworm of the highest caliber! If you see me, I'll probably be reading. There's nothing I love more than finding a good book, and then sharing it with the world!
Okay, this book is going on the shelf right next to IT. Right next to all the books that have so much magic wrapped up into them that it doesn't even feel like that the author is trying. I've sobbed, I've giggled, and I'm just so in love with every single thing about this story. What a life. What a story.
I was telling my friend last night, over dinner, that my favorite part about IT is the message that adults forget their childhoods all too easily. That life makes us new people, and those new people forget the magic that they experienced. This book has that same gorgeous message, and I'm taking it to heart.
This book just keeps getting better and better. It might be my current hormonal state, but I keep tearing up on how beautifully done this snapshot into the life of one young boy really is. E. recommended this, so I already knew that it was going to be good. I just didn't know how good it was really going to be. I'm SO impressed.
So, surprisingly, I'm really digging this book. Well, I guess it's not all that surprising. If there's one thing that I know for a fact, it's that Holly Black can write about the fae. I've read a few of her other fairy related books, and have always been impressed with how easily she can pull her readers into their dark and beautiful world. My biggest issue is usually the plot! It never seems to be as good as the world building.
In this book, I'm actually really seeing what I've hoped for from Black for a long time. It's her same darkly glittering fairy world, but the plot here is superb as well. There's court intrigue, strong characters and, unless the ending lets me down, a good build up towards the end.
I desperately hope this book doesn't fail me, because I'm kind of in love right now.
I'm giving away a copy of this gorgeous book on my blog, courtesy of Simon Teen and Big Honcho Media. If you have a U.S. mailing address, and this looks like something you'd like to read, would you please go and enter? :D
What to say first about this book? Ah! Lippman came into my life, way back when I was a new blogger, when I ended up with the 11th book in her Tess Monaghan series for review. I remember being a little worried that I wouldn't be able to pick things up so late in the story line, but there was Lippman's exceptional writing picking me up and taking me on a journey anyway. I ended up loving that book, and I've been a fan of Lippman ever since! So imagine my excitement when I was asked to be on the tour for Sunburn. It's been long enough since I read one of her books that I was eager to see if her writing was what I remembered from before. Oh, it was. You'd best prepare for some gushing.
It's so impressive to me when a book can completely command your attention from the first few sentences, and Sunburnaccomplishes that easily. Polly's story, while you don't know who she is just yet, pulls you into its web. I found myself utterly invested in this woman, and unable to look away as everything she'd planned slowly fell into place. I know that I'm being vague, and you can understand that it's a purposeful vagueness. There are just too many things that I can't give away, without ruining your enjoyment of this spiderweb of a book. Just trust me when I say that Polly's story is extremely layered, and totally worth taking the time to uncover.
Plus, while the whole plot thread is just deliciously mysterious, it's really the characters themselves who steal the show. Polly is the perfect unreliable narrator. She's easy to love and hate in equal measures, depending on what is newly being revealed to the reader about her. She's shrouded in doubt, yet with enough humanness to make her likable. Adam, on the other hand, is this rock in shifting sands. He's strong, reliable, and yet slowly being eroded by our dear Polly. As the book reaches a climax, and Adam's real plight comes to light, I'm sure you'll find yourself just as stunned as I was. There's a lot to love about how well laid out this book really is.
So why the four star rating, rather than five? I can easily pin that on the fact that the ending, while completely plausible, didn't really suit my tastes. That doesn't mean that it won't be perfect for most readers. That doesn't mean it isn't an excellent ending overall. That's just me, being my nitpicky reader self, being completely transparent with you. I didn't love the ending of this. Still, it's a totally solid and enjoyable read. The twists and turns are wonderful, and I'm still impressed. Lippman hasn't lost her edge, and I hope she never does.
I tried. I really, really tried.
I can't do this book anymore.
From the cookie cutter "Hot Girl", "Broody Guy", "Damsel in Distress" characters, to the broken world building that refuses to even try to make sense, it all just got to be too much. If I had to listen to Elena talk about drowning in "Mean Hot Guy" Blake's eyes one more time I was going to throw something at the wall.
I even skipped ahead an hour in the audio book to see if things got any better. They didn't. Elena was standing in front of a gate, conveniently the only "maiden" (yes, friends, the only virgin) who could enter them. *sigh*
Oh well, I tried. Time to move on to bigger and better things.
First off, credit where credit is due, I have to applaud Monir for the diversity in The Final Six. It's so refreshing to not only see both a female and a male main character in this story, but the fact that Naomi and Leo, while they share a destiny, are so different is wonderful. The differences in their views about the competition, their ethnic backgrounds, and their family lives all come together to create a beautiful story about growth through the pursuit of a common goal. I loved how ambitious both of them were because, as I stated above, it's great to see strong male and female characters side by side. We need more of that.
As for the plot, I can say that the science fiction aspects of this book were really accessible. I loved the addition of VR and AI! The Final Six easily walks that line between sharing the technology of the future and still being something that you can find yourself picturing. It helps, of course, that Monir has an uncanny ability to write beautifully descriptive scenes. The competition manages to pull the reader in quickly, and make you feel like you're part of the action. I even found myself rooting for the friendship to romance brewing between our two characters, despite the fact that I'm normally anti-romance. Could I have done without that? Probably, but the fact that I didn't dislike it was a nice surprise.
Why then, you ask, did I rate this at four stars rather than five? First there's the fact that, despite how different Naomi and Leo are in many aspects, our two main characters are pretty difficult to tell apart in their POVs. If there hadn't been headers on the chapters letting me know whose mind I was currently in, I would have been lost a lot more. My other issue was, and I know this is just the way that my particular brand of reading brain works, there were so many unexplained things that were just conveniently happening. I mentioned how perfect the descriptive writing was in relation to the competition technology. That's why I was a little baffled as to why there wasn't any explanations for how electricity works now, why Earth is being abandoned instead of fixed, and why the treatment only works on teenagers. Am I being nitpicky? Possibly. None of that took away from my overall enjoyment. Still, I have so many questions.
So, after a lot of thought, I settled on a solid four star rating. I haven't yet read a book similar to this, so I'm pretty happy with the journey I was taken on. The ending is a blatant cliffhanger, so rest assured that there's another book coming down the pipeline. Maybe that one will answer the rest of my questions? Only time will tell.
I don't have a full review for this yet, because I just finished it on the train ride this morning, but it was an excellent read! The ending wasn't my favorite, thus the missing star, but overall I felt like Lippman did amazingly well at this standalone!
I recommend this.
Oh look, I have something good to say about a book I'm reading!
I mean... it's Laura Lippman so I don't think anyone is surprised, but this book is GOOD.
Read it on my lunch break and missed my mouth multiple times with my food good.
Mad that work isn't over and I haven't finished it yet good.
More rambling to come.
It should be noted that I am this close *makes really small finger space* to DNFing this book. It's like this book took every YA cliche and wrapped them all up, just to make sure that this would sell as a YA book.
Damsel in distress syndrome? Check.
Multiple love interests? Check.
Catty female characters? Check.
Overbearing male personalities? Check.
Magical world with shapeshifters? Check, check, check.
A friend recommended this to me, and so I thought I'd give it a shot. But I'm bored. And annoyed. And pretty much done.
Does anyone have any book recommendations that feature dragons that are better? I do feel like I need some dragons in my life.
Has anyone else read this? I'm trying valiantly to finish it, since I requested it for review, but oh my goodness is this book confusing. It feels like it's trying to do a whole lot of things, all at the same time, and not succeeding at any of them. There is little to no world building. We're just dumped in this existence that is supposed to make sense, magic is thrown in, and I'm sitting here reeling.
I'm lost. So lost. Do I finish? Do I not finish? Will it get better? Lost, I say.
The fact of the matter is that this book is not what I was expecting, because I was expecting more of the thriller aspect and less of the familial drama side of things. That being said, Girl Unknown is going to greatly appeal to any reader who is very into character personalities and drama that you can cut with a knife. Karen Perry uses most of this book to show us the character perspective of what Zoe is to each of them. As the story unfolds, we find out more and more about how Zoe is definitely not what she seems to be, and see why the choices that David and Caroline make are really pushing things towards their climax. If we're talking intense studies on character psyches, this book has that in droves. What it lacks though, because of this, is real forward movement.
Where to begin with this book? Hug Chickenpenny: The Panegyric of an Anomalous Child is unlike anything that I've read before. It's a coming of age story, but with a fantasy bent that makes it completely unique. I can promise that whatever you think you're going to find in these pages you're, at most, only about half right. If you've seen Bone Tomahawk, you might have a general idea about the brilliant oddness that Zahler can create. Just go into this book with an open mind, and prepare yourself for an anomalous journey.
As a character, Hug Chickenpenny wins the award for the quickest I've ever grown attached to anyone. From the moment of Hug's unusual entry into the world, the reader is shown how much he has stacked against him. See, Hug isn't exactly a "normal" child. In the broadest sense of the word, he's quite different. Which of course then sets the stage for his rather rough, and equally intriguing, childhood. Hug's ability to see the good in people and situations, that I would be railing madly at, is really what endeared him to me. No matter how dark things became, Hug was always a ray of light and that is really the most beautiful part of this book.
In terms of plot, there's not a lot that I can say without spoiling things so I'll tread carefully. To say that Hug's story is interesting is actually somewhat of an understatement. Hug probably goes through more in the duration of this book than most of us do in a lifetime. Poor thing. I loved the characters that S. Craig Zahler brought into his path, and especially appreciated those who could see past Hug's outer "otherness". However the book started to lose me somewhere around the mid-point, when it strayed too far into the fantasy aspect of everything. I liken it to following a steady trail of breadcrumbs into a forest, only to find halfway through that it had been entirely eaten by birds. I was left wandering towards the ending, which then came rushing up too quickly. I almost felt a bit cheated overall. Especially because, in the vein of Lemony Snickett, so many sad things had happened so close together at the end. I lacked closure, and that wasn't something I enjoyed.
So, for a wholly unique plot and a character that I fell head over heels for, this book gets a solid three star rating. It's definitely outside of most of what I've read, and I adored it for that. I do warn you though, this isn't the happiest of stories. Make sure you have some tissues specifically for the ending, friends. You're going to need them.
It looks like things are better over here! I'm not going to lie, I've tried to log in and post things multiple times over the last month, been thwarted by issues, and then grumpily gone off to post at GR instead. It's just so much easier and, with the way my anxiety has been cropping up lately, the best thing for me at the time. But I miss you all. And BL is obviously better when it's working. So... I keep checking in. Things finally look good!
Please pardon the next few posts where I throw everything into here that I've left over on GR.
This is such a wonderful story! I'm pleased as punch that requesting the second book in this series for review, and then finding out that I needed to read Dominion first, put this on my radar. You all know how much I love a good Middle Grade book! Dominion is wonderful. Molly Stout is wonderful. So please pardon me while I gush a bit.
In this reader's opinion, the best part about Dominion is Molly herself. Although there's a lot of other parts that are definitely worth gushing about, Molly reigns supreme as the reason this book is so easy to love. I adored Molly's passion, empathy, and the fact that she had just enough reckless bravery to really make things fun. Better still, there's so much growth that happens in this book. From learning that preconceived notions aren't always healthy, to learning that it's okay to love someone and not forgive them, there are messages in this book that I found so important for this age group. Molly's family isn't perfect, her life isn't easy, but she shows how strength and perseverance are what change things for the better.
As for the setting itself, I think the technology of Dominion is truly what sets it apart from a lot of the other MG Fantasy that I've read. Instead of being Steampunk, I'd pin this book more as "Spiritpunk". Molly's world is one that floats in the clouds and sees spirits as fuel. Which, as I mentioned above, allows for this grey area that Arbuthnott really uses as part of Molly's awakening. I could close my eyes and picture massive ships floating in the clouds. To say that it was easy to get caught up in this book is an understatement.
My only issue, and it's a small one, was that there were some loose ends upon finishing. The ending felt a bit like it was rushing to tie as many things up as possible, while setting the stage for a cliffhanger. I know that there's another book on the horizon though, and so I'm willing to be patient! I'm more than happy to follow Molly, no matter where she might go.