Tag Archives: YA

YA – My top 10

Hello, Hope this post finds you all well! So much is happening in real life that I’m struggling to find time to post to all you lovely people. My sister is getting married in just under 1 week  so it is a very exciting time for the family :).

Young Adult literature can be traced back to WWII where our teens found themselves needing a form of book that could bridge the gap between childhood and adulthood. Many books can be seen as YA (The Lord of the Rings, Catcher in the Rye) but it has been the sudden increase in popularity (thanks to Harry Potter) that has seen an emergence of some great YA books.

Today I thought I would share my top 10 of YA books and series. Some of them will have been reviewed on here but some haven’t so take a look and see if you would add any to this list! (not in a particular order)

#1 – The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Yes I thought I would start with the most obvious YA series and one that is on everyone’s list. The Hunger Games is a great trilogy and I feel that the films are just as good (quite an anomaly). It follows Katniss as she volunteers for her sister in the 74th annual Hunger Games, a disgusting reminder of the power the Capitol has over the districts of Panem after the destruction of the USA and the uprising that occurred. Portrayed as a ‘competition’, this is really a way for the government to remind the citizens that they can kill anyone who crosses out of line. Unfortunately for Katniss, in trying to keep alive she unwittingly becomes the face of the new revolution.

#2 – Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

An excellent series that has spawned the spin off of Dangerous Creatures. Far superior to the film (which completely changes the ending). Whilst I haven’t really enjoyed Garcia and Stohl’s stand alone novels, Beautiful Creatures has great main and supporting characters, interesting plot and well crafted romances.

#3 – Shiver Trilogy by Maggie Stiefvater

This trilogy was just equisitly written. A werewolf romance story is the basic storyline but it is so much more. When the tempreture gets below a certain level, Sam has no choice but to be a wolf. He is ripped from his human form no matter the place or time. If he wishes to stay human for longer, then he needs to stay warm and not just pull a jumper on warm. Grace has always seen the wolves near her garden, in fact she had a strange interaction with one when she was little and now always sees him as her wolf. When she discovers what he is, they fall in love but can they cope with the pressures of this lifestyle and can Sam keep returning into his human form?

#4 – Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead

From my last post you could have probably surmise that Vampire Academy was going to make it onto this list. The story of friendship, love and high school mixed with vampires and guardians makes Mead’s first foray into YA a truly great one. The characters are great, the twists surprising and the plots enjoyable. A series of 6 and it seems to end too soon.

#5 – Bloodlines by Richelle Mead

Luckily, Mead must have thought it ended too soon to as she carries on the world forged in Vampire Academy in Bloodlines. Instead of following Rose, Dimitri and Lissa, we follow Sydney, Adrian and Jill. Sydney was a secondary character appearing in a few of the VA books. It’s interesting to see her as she is so anti-Vampires to begin with and has to overcome this prejudice but in return is shunned by her own people for this acceptance. A very different problem to that of VA but one that seems much more realistic and poignant in today’s world.

#6 – The Girl in the Box series by Robert J Crane

Robert J Crane is a self-published author and someone who has been kind enough to help me with my MA. He recently answered some questions for me towards one of my case studies. Besides being a lovely man, he is also a great writer. The Girl in the Box Series is excellently written, edited and set out. It’s very professionally done and I would highly recommend that if you have never read a self published work before, start with Crane’s. Writing with a female protagonist as a man must be hard but Crane has managed to get all the teenage girl angst so true and congratulations to him for being the only male writer on this list!

#7 – Legend Trilogy by Marie Lu

The Legend Trilogy is like a cross between The Hunger Games and The Divergent Trilogy. There is the shunned part of the city (as District 12 is) and the elite part of the city (think Panem). However, there are classes like there are in Divergent that the elite can partake in. We see that this new country is flawed and our two protagonists are thrown together. The ending is better than both of the above mentioned books. It doesn’t let you down as much as The Hunger Games does and it doesn’t destroy you as Divergent does. Great solid trilogy and a worthy option within this list.

 

#8 – Duff by Kody Keplinger

This is coming out this year as a film and I felt I should get the book in before that occurred. From the trailers I can already see that they have changed certain parts of the book so I am not too happy about that. This book is one that I feel all girls will be able to relate to. Duff stands for Designated Ugly Fat Friend and whilst the Duff doesn’t need to be fat or particularly ugly, she is the one who isn’t as pretty as her friends. However, we see that all girls feel that they are the Duff at some point in their lives. All girls seem to have this ability to only see the bad in themselves and see how perfect that is in one of our friends whether it be they have better legs or eyes, when in reality you have better hair and smile. As a girl, give this a go and as a boy, read it to discover that what bad you say will stick with girls longer than the multitude of good things you say and do.

#9 – The Host by Stephanie Mayer 

If anyone has read my review of The Host will know, I found this highly superior to the Twilight series. The storyline of a love box in three bodies is excellent. How you are never confused between Wanda and Melanie shows just how strong the characters are when they share the same body and space. Mayer may have hit gold with Twilight in terms of fans and money but it is this book that should be her crowning moment. Better written, better characters and a nicer love story, The Host is the Mayer book you should be reading.

#10 – The Testing Trilogy by Joelle Charbonneau

A very recent read of mine and an excellent one at that. Similar to the other’s in that it is dystopia, we find people who are chosen by the city to be potentially educated at the University. Here, the 16 year olds must pass tests of logic, memory, ruthlessness and leadership. They forge alliances, create friendships, enemies and learn how far they are willing to go. Once successful, their memories wiped and they know nothing of the horrors of what they have done… or do they? A brilliant read.

I could have added Harry Potter but I feel everyone knows that this will always be in any book lovers top 10 so I felt it needed to let other books take centre stage! If there are any you think I should have added, let me know in the comments!

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Richelle Mead

All I ever seem to do on this blog is apologise for the delay in writing a new post but as it is has been the festive period I won’t this time. Christmas and New Year are the busiest time to be working in any form of customer service and working in a nightclub just adds to this. So yes, I have been busy working and studying (*cough* relaxing *cough*).

So as the perceptive of you would have noticed, there is no book title above. Just “Richelle Mead”. No I haven’t forgotten to put one up there, I just don’t see the need to with Mead. So far I have read 20/23 of her books and I cannot give any a lesser mark than the other. If you have read my Vampire Academy review, you can see how much I gushed over that and the following series’ have been the same. You may be wondering why I haven’t just written about an author before but the answer is simple. Richelle Mead is the first author since Enid Blyton that I can honestly say I will read any of their work. I kid you not. I love Rizzoli and Isles but haven’t read any of Gerritsen’s others; Harry Potter is one of the greatest series’ ever written but I am not enthralled by Rowling’s other narratives; I could perhaps say they same thing about Stephanie Mayer later if she writes any more but only due to my love of The HostTwilight never really putting itself into the ‘must read every year’ category on my shelves.  From this we can surmise that I love characters. I will follow them to the ends of the earth and back. Their relationships, quests and challenges enthral and amuse but I often find authors to be disappointing in other areas. Take Garci and Stohl from Beautiful CreaturesTogether they have created these characters and world that mesmerises and amazes, yet separately and on separate stories, I found them uninteresting.

Back to Mead. It started with Vampire Academy which lead onto the spin off series of Bloodlines. From there I decided to give the Georgina Kincaid series a go and then The Age of X and now, finally, The Dark Swan series. I am literally devouring every one of her novels as quickly as she can produce them and have even accepted the £5+ charge for the e-book editions (something I usual avoid doing – you don’t get the physical book so why pay more than £3?) Every single one has had a developed plot line, interesting main AND support characters and twists that are sometimes completely out of the blue (I’m looking at you Dimitri from VA!) The first two mentioned are YA books but this doesn’t take away from a developed Adult writer. All Mead did was tone down the sex scenes (which are quite detailed in some of the books – when you write about a succubus who feeds off of sex that tends to happen) and take out the swear words. The essence of Mead’s work stays the same, excellent dialogue and believable stories.

In conclusion; if you are struggling for a book to read, a friend to buy for or just want to explore a new author give Richelle Mead a go. Every one of her books are easily a 10/10. Trust me, you wont be disappointed!

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Filed under Book Review, Fantasy, Richelle Mead, Vampire Academy, YA

Vampire Academy – Richelle Mead

Sorry (again) for the delay in a post! So much has happened it is untrue! Little bit of personal news. I am now a student again! A masters in publishing is in my near future and I am ecstatic that I am hopefully on my career path. So ye. That’s it for me :).

Back to what this blog is for… Reviewing. As you maybe able to tell, young adult and vampire books are my little book secret. So when I watched Vampire Academy and found it was based on a book I was very happy. The film was so-so. The storyline seemed ok but the acting was very poor. It made me want to check out the books anyway. I downloaded the kindle version and can easily say this series is far superior to the film!

Plot

Vampire Academy is split into 6 books. We start of meeting Lissa and Rose, a vampire and dhampir. Lissa isn’t like the vamps we see in other books. She can stand a little sun, is not evil and has magic. Usually vamps can influence the 4 elements; water, air, earth and fire. They all have aspects of each in their magic but tend to specialise when they get older in just one field. Sometimes a vampire doesn’t specialise but those are rare cases. Lissa is part of the Moroi bread of vampire. Another strand is a Strigoi and they are the vampires humans have in their horror books and films. These have red ringed eyes, intolerance to the sun, drink blood until they have killed the supplier and are wickedly strong. They also find Moroi blood especially delicious and that is where dhampirs come into the picture. Originally, they were a result of Moroi and humans mating. This union later ceased to exist but it was discovered dhampirs cannot reproduce with their own kind. They rely on the Moroi to keep their race alive, meaning it falls to them to protect their only chance of survival so became Guardians to the Moroi. With these skill sets, schools/academies are set up to teach Moroi how to to control their magic and dhampir to protect Moroi. Rose and Lissa are at such a school. Unusual for this world they also share a bond. Rose can hear Lissa’s thoughts and sometimes put herself into Lissa’s head to see, feel and hear everything she can.

We meet Rose and Lissa outside of the academy where they have been on the run for 2 years. Rose was informed by a semi-insane teacher to run and hide Lissa. Rose has spent her life protecting her best friend and follows this strange advice. However, she never expected Dimitri to be sent after them. Regarded as a god in guardian circles, Dimitri is a young dhampir who is given Lissa as his Moroi to protect, depending on if he can find her. Taken back to school, Rose finds she is severly behind in classes and realises that to really be able to protect Lissa she needs to get her training back on track and be vigilant over her friend to avoid the danger she had been forwarned of. Dimitri becomes her tutor to catch her up on the 2 years she missed in hand to hand combat. With Lissa’s mental health deteriorating, Rose and Dimitri’s growing attraction and a danger lurking in the school as well as the usual high school drama, Vampire Academy has it all.

Opinion

I haven’t really given the plot to the other 5 books of this series as I don’t want to spoil it for those who want to read the series but I will be reviewing the whole series.

One word for this series. Wow. Just wow. It is rare to find a world and characters that you miss when you finish the last book but, like Rowling, Mead had me hooked for 2704 pages. The world is totally believable, characters loveable and writing sublime. English grads may argue my last point but at no time did I have to re read paragraphs to understand it nor did the writing bring me out of the story once. Like all great books, you forget you are reading and just see the story.

Rose is a fantastic character and her romance with Dimitri is believable and heartbreaking. Her sarcastic wit is never forced or contrite and the bravery shown makes you swell with pride. Lissa is a complicated character and your feelings for her are too. Their relationships with each other and everyone else are expertly shown.

Downsides are a few and far between but some of my main gripes are; why didn’t Lissa notice her best friend was in love yet her worst enemy knew and used it against Rose? Did anyone ever tell Dimitri’s family what happened? Read could have stopped the constant book repeat. If she wanted to fill people in on the last books then maybe a chapter telling people what happened not mid action sequence! And most annoyingly, what happens after the last book finished? I want back onto this world. I want back into the lives of these characters.

Mead has created a series everyone can enjoy young and old alike. The twists are sometimes obvious, sometimes surprising and I never guessed the culprit in the last book. Characters barely mentioned in book 1 play important roles later and I love this.

All in all a fantastic book. The pros far out-way the cons. For this I give this series a 10/10 Read it and don’t judge Mead’s sublime story by the sub par acting of the film!

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Filed under Book Review, kindle, Richelle Mead, Young Adult

Legend Trilogy – Marie Lu

As you do when you have a blog, you look at other people’s blogs. I stumbled upon The Infinite Power in 26 Letters. This blog is quite interesting. A book review blog and more. I stumbled across one of the posts and it was recommending YA fiction series’. From the previous reviews on here, you should be able to surmise that I am a big YA fan. The Hunger Games Trilogy, Beautiful Creatures, Twilight, Harry Potter are all great YA novels. So when I saw this post I decided to follow it’s advice and read some of its suggestions. One if these was the Legend Trilogy by Marie Lu. Brilliant suggestion. Read all three in two days!

Plot

We start off with Legend where we meet Day and June. The most wanted boy in the Republic of America and she, the golden girl of the Republic. It seems there is a plague affecting the poorer sectors of Los Angeles. Obviously not  very good, especially as we see Day’s home being marked as a home of the plague. Day decides to try and save his brother from the plague so breaks into the local hospital to steal some of the  plague medicine. However, here we run onto trouble. Whilst escaping, a guard follows him and Day throws his knife into his shoulder and makes his escape. This turns out to be a catalyst for the rest of the series. This man happens to be June’s brother and it seems Day’s throwing ability is off. Metias is now dead and a grieving June is taken from school and given the task of tracking down Day and bringing him to the authorities.

Prodigy starts us off where Legend left. June and Day are now on the run with Day’s brother held in captivity and being tested on. They run to the rebellious group of the Patriots, apparently funded by the Colonies. Here, in Las Vegas, they agree to help the Patriots in return for fixing Day’s leg which became injured during their flight from LA. June’s mission is to return to the Republic and try and befriend the new leader and Day is to rally the citizens and ultimately kill the new leader. However, June realises that the Patriots are wrong and her and Day turn on the rebels and again are fleeing for their lives. June catches some unknown disease and Day saves her by taking her to the Colonies. Whilst staying there, they realise that the Colonies are just another form of  a suppressed people and would be no better a rule than the republic. June and Day make it their destiny to help change the republic for the better and to do this they must return and throw all their support behind the leader.

In Champion we have June as the golden girl once again. She is now an advisor of the Elector and Day is trying to find a cure for his terminal illness. The Colonies decide to try and invade the Republic whilst it is still relatively weak with a new Elector and rebellious citizens. This calls for June to ask Day for permission to use his brother against a new plague that the Colonies seem to have and blame the Republic for. Of course, due to his own history of being a lab rat and the more recent experiments on his brother, he denies this request but does promise to help in anyway he can, despite his failing health. June discovers this medical ailment and realises it is the reason behind his sudden departure from her life. She also realies that Day can never truly forgive her for her part in the murder of his mother and older brother and it kills him to be in love with her. Day sacrifices himself to save the Republic against the Colonies and ends up with memory loss. He remembers certain people but not June. Should she stay with him and help him remember her? Or leave and takeaway the pain of loving someone who helped to kill your family?

Opinion

I really liked these books. Like I said above, I read all three in two days. It is a dystopian reality with a love story at its core. Similar to The Hunger Games it is a scarily realistic future that could happen to us. With the melting ice caps, the world would change indefinitely and who is to say that this future is not a possibility?

The connection between all the characters is fantastic and you believe them all. I was shocked by one of them as I didn’t see that relationship revelation at all. Maybe I am just naive. Or it was excellent writing. The writing throughout is flawless and really brings you into the story. Having said that, I’m unsure as to whether I like the ending. I think I do. It is definitely better than The Hunger Games ending which if you have read my post on that then you shall know my thoughts on its disappointing finale. So it is good but just not what I thought would happen.

All in all a great read. It made me regret my speed in reading as this meant I had finished them too quickly. My verdict: 9/10. Give it a go!

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Filed under Book Review, kindle, Marie Lu, Young Adult

The Hunger Games – Suzanne Collins

The Hunger Games (film)The Hunger Games is probably as big as Twilight and Harry Potter. All three have been made into films and have all sold 50-450 million books. Phenomenal when you see series’ such as Discworld have sold over 55 million copies and have been written since the 80’s. The power of film has done this for these. Harry Potter would always have been a high grossing book series but Twilight and The Hunger Games have hugely benefited from the films. Having said that, I read this series long before it became a film.

Plot

We meet Katniss, our heroine, and discover a few important things. One, when her father died it was left to her to raise herself and Prim (sister) due to their mother’s depression. Two, she did this by hunting in the forest by her district. Three, the Captiol makes the district “give up” two of its teenagers to compete in a bloody and barbaric “Hunger Games”. These three points are important in understanding the start of this trilogy and indeed the end. Katniss loves her sister, can shoot with a bow Cover of "The Hunger Games" and arrow and the Capitol leaders are evil. During the reaping (the choosing of the teenagers), Prim’s name is called. Katniss volunteers for her sister and in doing so puts herself into the Games. The boy tribute for District 12 is Peeta. They journey off together, along with their mentor, Haymitch, and battle against 22 other young people to be crowned victors. In a twist,  Katniss severely undermines the Capitol and becomes the face of the rebellion.

During Catching Fire Katniss is in no better a position than before the Games. Yes, her family is now rich and have a fabulous new house but she is under severe scrutiny. Her freedom to chose who she wishes to be her husband has been taken away from Cover of "Catching Fire (The Second Book ... her. District 12 now has new law keepers and is punishing the whole district for Katniss’ success. Snow wants her dead and makes it so Katniss has to enter into her nightmares, a second Hunger Game. This time she makes it her mission to keep Peeta alive, knowing she will never have a life with the Capitol in power.

Mockingjay brings us to the final and ultimate climax of the series. Katniss has been rescued from the Mockingjay
games but at the price of Peeta. She becomes the poster girl for the rebellion. Katniss is once again used by higher powers in their games of dominance when all she wants to do is stop fighting and live a normal life.

Opinion

I loved these books. Obviously had to like the first one to keep reading the series. The films are pretty good too. This is a world not to distant to us. Humanity has basically torn itself apart and the Capitol is the area that won at the end of it. The Hunger Games were designed to keep the districts subdued and it is a very feasible path that is not out of the realm of possibilities humanity could take. I think the moral and political issues behind the book are very intricately woven into the plot and hold a hidden meaning; humanity could almost wipe itself out and what we are left with won’t be pretty.

The love triangle is exquisitely done and you never feel that it is forced or contrite by Collins. The fight scenes are detailed gruesomely and you feel Katniss’ pain and revulsion for what she witnesses and what she is forced to do. I definitely didn’t see the ending coming and was shocked when it occurred. However here comes my main vital flaw for this trilogy. The last chapter. Horrendous. It was almost as bad as “And they all woke up and it was just a dream”. Collins had built up this epic suspense and had us all on the edge of our seats and then boom, a very wimpy way to end it. However, I don’t really see any other end to the books. She wrote herself into a corner and this is the result. Unlike the Harry Potter books where I felt a kind of closure for the characters, here I just felt loss and confusion. If it wasn’t for this ending these books are excellent and very much a 10/10. Due to this my verdict is: 8/10. Still epic but just not there.

The symbol of the revolution. The Mockingjay.

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Filed under Book Review, Suzanne Collins, The Hunger Games Trilogy, Twilight, Young Adult

Beautiful Creatures – Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl

I first found Beautiful Creatures as a film. Although it took me a while to get into the film, I found it to be very enjoyable so obviously, once I saw the film was based on a book, I had to have it. I then found out it was a book series of four; Beautiful Creatures, Beautiful Darkness, Beautiful Chaos and Beautiful Redemption. As I bought the series as one for my e-reader I shall review them as one.

These books are written by two authors. Unusual but not unheard of. In fact, some of my favourite series’ are written by two authors. Women’s Murder Club has two and PJ Tracy is the mother/daughter writing duo. Therefore this duel authorship is nothing to deter readers.

When deciding whether to buy the books as a whole or see if I should just buy the first to see if I liked it and would want to carry on reading the series, I stumbled onto a review. This reviewer said if you liked the Twilight Saga and  The Hunger Games Trilogy then these were the books for you. I agree and I’ll add my own to that mix too. If you like these and the Inheritance Cycle, then you will also like Beautiful Creatures. Its an epic love story, a struggle against evil/darkness, mythical creatures, a mythical world and much more.

Plot

We start of meeting Ethan Wate living in a small country town in the heart of America’s Southern states. Mainstream bible basher belt. Like all towns in this area, change is slow and hard to adjust too. Ethan is a high school jock who plays basketball but has a secret love of reading. His best friend, Link knows all of his secrets and just rolls with them all – a true best friend! One day, the niece of old man Ravenwood arrives and joins school. Ethan has literally met the girl of his dreams and obviously wants to know more about her. He tries to do so and ends up falling in love. Little does he know that she is really an adolescent castor, waiting until her 16th birthday to find out if she will go “dark” or “light”. Alongside this main storyline, there is the story of the “curse”. One that involves Lena’s ancestors and Ethan’s. This adds an extra twist to Lena’s future moral compass.

Beautiful Darkness carries on from the last and we see the town dealing with the shock of Macon Ravenwood’s death. In particular, we see Lena struggling with her Uncle’s death and obviously blames herself for his death. This puts a strain on Lena and Ethan’s relationship and she begins to hang around with Ridley and another boy, John. Liv moves to town and becomes a trainee Keeper under the tutelage of Marion. Lena runs away with John and Ridley, leaving Ethan little choice but to follow his one true love. However, Liv and Ethan begin to have feelings for one another and Ethan realises that if this secret world never existed, he and Liv would have been soul mates. Lena also realises this and this hurt sends her further away from Ethan. We discover that Ethan is a Wayward in this world, a mortal who can find a way to things in the castor one. A human SatNav. Handy when no one knows where Lena is going. We end up at the edge of the magical world, once again fighting for Lena’s moral compass, Dark or light?

Beautiful Chaos again carries on where the last one left. Lena has chosen to be File:BeautifulChaos2011book.jpgboth Dark and Light, Link is now part Incubus, Ridley is mortal, Liv is no longer a Keeper in training and Macon is living his second life, this time as Castor. The world is now in Chaos and mortals even recognise this to be so. Link’s mum believes it to be the final reckoning from God. Ethan keeps having dreams about himself. However, he and Lena are now back together though still unable to touch for longer than a few seconds without Ethan’s heart stopping (a problem when a Castor and Mortal try to be together romantically). This problem seems to be getting worse. Ethan’s mother is once again sending him messages through songs and this time it seems to be telling him that the one who is two is the only one to save earth by killing themselves. Ethan also learns that he left half of himself in the underworld when he died and Lena brought him back. John Breed thinks that he is the saviour so he throws himself off the water tower. However, fate does not agree and Ethan discovers that it is him.

File:BeautifulRedemption2012HBCover.jpg

In Beautiful Redemption we find Ethan in the afterlife. We also meet his mother. Aunt Pru, who passed away in the previous book, tells Ethan of way to return to the living by taking his page out of the Caster Chronicles and destroying it. However, he needs a few things from the world of the living so he sends messages to Lena via the crossword in the local paper. Ethan continues on his journey through the underworld.

Opinion

Like I said, these books are a mixture of Twilight, The Hunger Games and The Inheritance Cycle. Star crossed lovers from different backgrounds trying to be together under impossible circumstances. An epic battle against the laws of the Castor world. A unique connection between two people. All of these throw hints at the previously said books. However, these are unique in their own right. The duo of Garcia and Stohl have a good partnership and their writing as a team is almost flawless. Lena and Ethan’s connection is excellent and does remind me of Eragon and Saphira’s from The Inheritance Cycle. Each character brings something unique to the story. Liv and Link are some of the best supporting characters I have ever seen in a book. I found book 1 to have confusing elements and certain aspects to not be explained well. Maybe because of the duel authors but something wasn’t quite right. The editing team should also have picked up on this so perhaps they were changed for the remaining three as there was nothing similar in them. Seeing as how that is my main gripe with these books, it’s doing something right.

My verdict; 8/10 if not for the first books inconsistencies it could have been higher. Great books overall and well worth a read!

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Filed under Beautiful Creatures, Book Review, Kami Garcia, Margaret Stohl, Twilight, Young Adult

The Twilight Saga – Stephanie Mayer

I have decided to review all four books as one. This is because I find the saga as a whole difficult to analyse. Twilight is a phenomenon but why? Don’t get me wrong, I do have a fascination with them and read the whole series more often than I care to admit. I also read these books before they were the phenomenon they became (the perks of working in a library). The storyline is intoxicating and uses a tried and tested topic. Vampire stories have always been popular since Bram Stoker’s “Dracula”. Our fascination of the undead can be chartered throughout literature, whether it be Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein” to Elizabeth Kostova “The Historian”, Vampires and Monsters hold our attention. Mayer has drawn on that and I feel that it wouldn’t take much writing ability to make it a story people would happily want to read. It isn’t a subject matter that has to engulf you fully to make you want to carry on to the bitter end. Having said that, Mayer obviously got something right to keep us intrigued and glued to the pages.

Plot

In “Twilight” we meet Bella, our heroine. She is leaving her desert home of Arizona to the rainy, green land of Forks. Here she now lives with her father, the local sheriff and attends the town public school. This is where we first meet the Cullens. An extraordinary family. They are all intelligent, beautiful and have golden eyes. The youngest boy is in Bella’s science class and she seems to cause a very strong and powerful reaction within Edward Cullen. So much so that he tries to change his classes so he is never with her and then does not return to school for numerous days. When he returns, he seems much more amiable to Bella, though he does warn her away. We later find out why as Bella discovers his secret after talking to the local Native Americans and her childhood friend Jacob Black. The answer is simple, he and his family are actually a coven. A coven of Vampires. The rest of the book goes on to describe how Vampires came into existence  how the Cullen family came to be and shows the growing love that Edward and Bella have for each other. It ends on a battle of Edward and a stranger vampire fighting for the right for Bella or rather, the right to keep her alive or drink her blood.

“New Moon” begins barely after “Twilight” finishes and Bella’s birthday causes alarm as she suffers a paper cut in the middle of a Vampire Coven. This causes Edward to re-evaluate his relationship with Bella and makes him leave her for her own good. Bella is heartbroken and takes comfort in the friendship she has in Jacob Black. However, this friendship is also fraught as a Vampire called Victoria vows to kill Bella for Edward killing her mate at the end of “Twilight”, meaning the Quileute children become shape-shifters who take the animal shape of a wolf. Jacob joins in this pack and we have Bella once more involved with dangerous creatures. Edward believes Bella to be dead (due to a prophecy of Alice and pig-headedness of Jacob) and tries to commit suicide by revealing his presence in the home town of the Volturi (Vampire Elite and police). Bella and Alice race off to Italy to rescue him, in the process revealing  Bella to the Volturi.

Stephenie Meyer's Eclipse“Eclipse” again begins a short while after its predecessor and we see Bella forcing Edward and Jacob to accept that they are both important to her and that they are both in her life. Hard as they are sworn enemies. However, Victoria is back and this time making an army of new-born vampires to try to kill Bella. The Quileute wolves and Cullen vampires join forces for the first time in history to destroy this invading army and save Bella. Bella asks Edward to changer her into a Vampire but Edward will only allow her to be changed by him if she agrees to marry him first. He was after all born in a different era where virtue was honoured.

“Breaking Dawn” could easily be two books as the two films based on it show. The first half we have the wedding, honeymoon and Bella’s pregnancy and the second half we have Bella being a newborn vampire, Renesme being seen, building up an army of witnesses and the Volturi descending on the Cullen family.

Opinion

As I mentioned briefly above, I am not fully convinced by Mayer’s writing ability after the Twilight Saga (However, “The Host” proves she can for me). I wasn’t enthralled by the prose of Mayer. Some of her writing is confusing and didn’t always make sense. The problem could be due to her writing from a 16-year-old perceptive. Her dramatic improvement in writing for her book “The Host” suggests that this might be the case. This doesn’t reprieve it though. Many books can be written from a teenager’s point of view or 1st person and still be well written. Writing prowess aside, this book has the ‘X-Factor’. Maybe that Edward is just so darn romantic or that Jacob is your best friend turned hot boyfriend type that we are kept entertained or the fascinating friendships and relationships that take you on a roller-coaster, Twilight has something. You are invested in each of these character’s lives and whether it be the romantic triangle (Team Jacob by the way) or the bonds of loyal friendships, Mayer has stumbled on to something great. All in all one great storyline that keeps you for 4 books and one you can re-read.

My verdict is 8/10. Worth a read though I don’t believe the films do the books any justice and I prefer to keep the characters separate in my head as Pattinson and Stewart just aren’t my idea of Edward and Bella (I know I shall be stabbed by many Twihards for the Pattinson comment!).

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The Host – Stephanie Mayer

Stephanie Mayer is famous for her Twilight Saga. The intricate web of love, honour, suspicion and hate kept everyone captivated throughout 4 books and 5 films. While I certainly don’t think the Twilight books are well written or that ingenious of an idea they do have a type of magic about them that keeps you hooked. The Host, has nothing to do with Vampires or Werewolves. It’s about Aliens. Now don’t panic. It’s not your typical little green men type book. It’s all the best parts of Twilight mixed with a new idea and written well. Plus it’s apparently set to be a trilogy with “The Soul” and “The Seeker” becoming the second and third.

Plot

We start of meeting some form of Healer who as his title suggests, has just finished healing a body and implanting a ‘Soul’. We witness the body’s final moments as a human and see the terror that these ‘Souls’ have brought to the few remaining humans on earth. Our ‘Soul’ awakens to find her Seeker scrutinising her every movement and wants to know all of the humans memories. The healer names the ‘Soul’ Wanderer and we see her become frustrated with her inability to control her Hosts previous mind. She begins to worry if this means she isn’t strong enough for this world, ironic as her name comes from the fact that she has been to 9 other planets (unusual for Souls). We discover that her Host’s name is Melanie Stryder and she is in love with a man named Jared and has a younger brother, Jamie. Wanderer and Mel join forces on their dislike of the Seeker and embark on a journey together to find Mel’s Uncle Jeb (an extreme believer in conspiracy theories meaning he was able to disappear off the grid with the first invasion of Souls). Through their journey, Wanderer falls in love with Jared and Jamie due to Mel’s memories and the fact that the body loves them so alters Wanderer’s mental feelings.

They both find Jeb’s hideout and we come face to face with real humans. However, all the humans are distrustful of Wanderer as she is,

afterall, a Soul who has taken over Melanie’s body. Jared saves them but only through his inability to allow the body he loves to die.Within the commune, Kyle and his bother Ian try every day to see if Jared has left a gap in the defence of Wanderer to kill her. Eventually, the commune needs supplies and as Jared is the only one who is able to take a group of people and get them back alive as well as get all the supplies needed, he sets off with Kyle while Jeb promises to keep Wanderer safe until his return. During Jareds absence, Jamie comes to visit Wanderer and grows to love Wanderer as a separate person to Mel and is able with his young mind to talk to Wanderer and Mel as individuals enabling him to accept this new, strange way of family. With a twist, Ian begins to have feelings for Wanderer the Soul, not Wanderer in Mel’s body and here lies the crux of the story. Wanderer and Ian love each other, Mel and Jared love each other, only problem is 2 of them have the same body.

Opinion

I loved this book. It’s far far better than Twilight. I don’t know if because we see the world through something which is technically a few thousands year old instead of 17 or because Mayer has improved as a writer but her prose is much better than in the Twilight saga. Every character is understandable and due to this we can relate to them. The love ‘box’ of Wanderer, Mel, Jared and Ian is beautifully created and grows as you read. Ian was meant to be a background character who hates Wanderer all the way through the storyline but Mayer found that his personality was too difficult to ignore and seemed to shout at her to allow him to grow and evolve into this man who Wanderer herself says has “the mind of a Soul with the strength of a Human”. I am so glad Mayer was unable to ignore his shouts as he is one of the best characters in this book.

The relationship of Mel and Wanderer is similar to that of Eragon and Saphira in the Inheritance Cycle as they talk to each other and relay information through pictures and memories. Although only one body for two minds, they begin to develop an understanding and form a relationship closer to that of sisters as they battle the prejudices and hatred against them.

Jeb and Jamie are important to the storyline as they are the only two people to fully accept Wanderer/Mel as a package deal but through very different eyes. Jamie is very naive and is desperate to be a man where as Jeb is the leader of the commune and has the ability to understand everyone’s motives and arguments but continues down his own moral road.

It is these characters interactions and relationships which make this books so interesting and a joy to read. There are no epic battles and very few dramatic encounters but the subtle shift in feeling and prejudices towards Wanderer is a fascination to watch and you feel part of this life. You love, laugh and live with the characters and it is this fact alone which makes ‘The Host’ one of the best books I’ve read in a while. I cannot wait for the sequels, although I am apprehensive of a change in narrator as we witness the goings on in ‘The Host’ through Wanderer’s eyes and I would hope we stick to Wanderer or someone within the commune so we know what happens to Wanderer and co. A total change of characters but within the same world wouldn’t be able to encapsulate the magical bonds that we find with these characters and in my opinion, that would reduce the enjoyment level of the books. However, they haven’t been written yet so no point analysing them to early!

This book gets a score of 10/10. I’d recommend it to anyone. Read it. Or watch the new film that is set to hit cinemas at the end of this month! 

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Filed under Book Review, Eragon, Stephanie Mayer, The Host, Young Adult

The Power of 5 – Anthony Horowitz

Well hello! It’s been a while. I have been working in France for contiki meaning internet use and just being able to read has been

limited. But I’m home now so back to the reading and reviewing.

I have started off this new chance to read by re-reading an old favourite. The Power of Five is a teen series by Anthony Horowitz and the new and final book was released this week. I have of course ordered it and as such felt that I should refresh my memory of the story.

Plot

We start off the series with “Raven’s Gate”. The first chapter introduces us to Matthew Freeman. A troubled teen without parents and a horrible aunt. He breaks into a warehouse with a friend and we soon learn that there is more to Matt than we first thought. He has the ability to sense when something is going to happen, a link to the future.

He ends up in trouble for the warehouse and enters a new scheme invented to help troubled teens called LEAF. He finds himself in the middle of the Yorkshire countryside with a weird village and even weirder villagers. Everyone who seems to try and help him are killed and then Matt begins to piece together what is happening to him and with the help of a young journalist, Richard Cole, he begins his new life as one of the 5.

Opinion

I love this series. Actually I love Anthony Horowitz. His Alex Rider books were some of my favourites as a young teen. There are twists and turns and you do have to accept the far-fetched to really like these. However, Horowitz writes them so well that it doesn’t take much for you to believe in the storyline of the Old Ones. Straight away you can tell that this is the same author as that of the Alex Rider books due to the same flow and pace of the books. Some might call this a bad thing, that he can’t change his writing for different stories but why change something that clearly works?

As an adult re-reading them they haven’t quite held the magic that they used to possess unlike Harry Potter has. Definitely one for young teenagers or for you to read as a bed time story to your kids if this is the first time you will read them.

However, this is still a great series and an excellent introduction to it. I give the book a 7/10.

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Chronicles of Ancient Darkness – Michelle Paver

Teen fiction is a fickle one. As a teen your too old for real children books, such as Animal Ark or Tracie Beaker, yet some adult books are just out of reach of full comprehension. So how to make a book that is in this middle market? Harry Potter, Twilight, His Dark Materials are all teen/children books and yet all ages can enjoy. Enid Blyton is a children’s author yet her books, if enjoyed as a child can easily be enjoyed as an adult. Roald Dahl wrote for children and adults (though his adult fiction is very adult!) Yet every child is different. I remember in year 9 (so 14/15 age) I had to get my mother’s permission to lend “Horse Whisperer” out of the school library due to the scenes of a sexual nature. So what’s my point I may hear you ask? Well it is this. Just because something is labelled as ‘teen’ or ‘children’ fiction, doesn’t mean it can’t be enjoyed by a wide range of ages.

I say all of the above as this next series is classed as children’s fiction. I was in my young pre-teens when I first found this book, but I carried on the series until it’s end well into my late teens. The Chronicles of Ancient Darkness written by Michelle Paver are a series of 6 books all follow a young boy of about 12, Torak and his Wolf. We follow these two as they make friends with Renn and try and vanquish the Soul Eaters and the darkness they have inflicted onto the world. It is set before civilisation as we know it, where man followed the rules of forest and sea.

Plot
We start this adventure in Wolf Brother when Torak and his father are at their camp. All of a sudden a mighty roar emits from the forest and a huge bear appears, knocking Torack out of the way and heading for his father. The bear rips into his chest and then leaves the clearing. Fa tells Torak to run as the bear is sure to return and he needs Torak to find and kill the bear by going to the spirit mountain and that his guide will find him. Torak only flees as he swears on his three souls to do so. He finds a young cub sat by his drowned pack at a river. Nauseous from fear and infection from hitting his arm against a tree, he tries to survive on his own for the first time.
He finds out he can talk to the cub and understand the cub via wolf talk. No idea why he strikes up a friendship with the young cub and

becomes his pack brother.

On his adventure he runs into the Raven Clan where he meets a young girl, Renn whom joins in his journey.

Opinion

I struggle to describe how good this series is. For me to have read them all, this first one has to draw you in. It’s slightly like Harry Potter in the fact that Paver has a story arc in each book but an overall story arc across all the books. So little things become important later on and questions and confusion is settled in later books. These little questions keep you interested. The union of Torak and Wolf is fantastic. They remind me of Eragon and Saphira in Paolini’s series although as smart as Wolf is, he can’t express himself as well as Saphira. If Evans had this kind of Wolf bond in “The Loop” I would have given it a higher score.

The chemistry between Torak and Renn is great and their feelings towards one another develops at a good rate. They hate each other when they first meet. Torak can be a little selfish and self involved, yet this is understandable as he has never been in a clan, just him and Fa. He also has to carry a large burden and responsibility which no 12 year old should do.

I grew up with these characters and for me, it is on the same par as Harry Potter. I love them as much and have the same childish glee when I read them as when I first read them.

On its own Wolf Brother is a great start. For me none of these is better or worse then any of the others so this one is a 9/10. Well worth the read and ideal as a bed time story for the little ones that you’d enjoy too!

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