Thursday, October 4, 2012

Mini Reviews 10-4-12

I've been having a mini-crisis in my family these past couple weeks so I've fallen a bit behind on blogging. You know what that means: MINI TIME! Lots to catch up on. :D

 From Goodreads
The prequel to the New York Times bestselling Maze Runner series.

Before WICKED was formed, before the Glade was built, before Thomas entered the Maze, sun flares hit the earth and mankind fell to disease.

Mark and Trina were there when it happened, and they survived. But surviving the sun flares was easy compared to what came next. Now a disease of rage and lunacy races across the eastern United States, and there’s something suspicious about its origin. Worse yet, it’s mutating, and all evidence suggests that it will bring humanity to its knees.

Mark and Trina are convinced there’s a way to save those left living from descending into madness. And they’re determined to find it—if they can stay alive. Because in this new, devastated world, every life has a price. And to some, you’re worth more dead than alive.

My Rating: ***

The Kill Order was exactly what I expected it to be, maybe just a pinch better. It carries all of Dashner's distinctive writing traits, crazy creativity and a focus on non-stop action. There's barely time to breath. I think the world of The Maze Runner is fascinating and terrifying, but I was not satisfied with the way the series played out. There were some serious sacrifices made in character development to keep up that non-stop action pace throughout the books and some major questions left unanswered. That was the main reason I wanted to read this. Did I have my questions answered? Nope.

But still, it was an intense read and I felt like there was a little more emphasis on the plot and the people, instead of just the gore and the plague-ridden psychos. I liked seeing how it all started and I'm glad I read it. There were some weird inconsistencies, though, for example Mark and his friends all start to realize the plague is spreading so they sacrifice some of their friends' lives to keep from getting infected... but then... they meet an adorable four year-old girl who has OBVIOUSLY been infected and they go, "Oh... she's so cute! Let's all hug her and bring her with us! We don't care about getting the plague anymore!" It all made sense later why this particular girl was supposed to live, but at the time I just kept thinking, "LAME! INCONSISTENT!"

I had plenty of issues with the writing and the pacing, but overall better than I was expecting.

 From Goodreads:
Miranda wakes up alone on a park bench with no memory. In her panic, she releases a mysterious energy that incites pure terror in everyone around her. Except Peter, a boy who isn’t at all surprised by Miranda’s shocking ability.

Left with no choice but to trust this stranger, Miranda discovers she was trained to be a weapon and is part of an elite force of genetically-altered teens who possess flawless combat skills and powers strong enough to destroy a city. But adjusting to her old life isn’t easy—especially with Noah, the boyfriend she can’t remember loving.

Then Miranda uncovers a dark truth that sets her team on the run. Suddenly her past doesn’t seem to matter... when there may not be a future.

Dan Krokos’ debut is a tour-de-force of non-stop action that will leave readers begging for the next book in this bold and powerful new series.

My Rating: ****

Interesting! I really enjoyed this and thought the concept was nicely original and very well carried out. I'd like to see more of this kind of sci-fi in YA. Lots of deep ethical questions, balanced with a killer plot, nice action sequences, cool powers, sincere friendships, and nice romance.

It wasn't perfect, and some things about the memory loss bugged me. Miranda lost all of her memories, but they came back at strategically convenient moments. She never seemed to be without a memory when she really needed it. The whole thing wasn't explained all that well and I wasn't sure why she could remember certain things with no problems and not others. Then I also thought the love triangle took it too far. It's one thing to not be sure what you want... it's quite another to decide you want both and just go around kissing whenever the other person's back is turned. Too much snogging.

But there was a lot that I really liked and I think it's a definite read if you like sci-fi YA, memory loss, and X-Men style powers.

 From Goodreads:
After pulling some spectacular heists, Amy and Dan have become two of Interpol's most wanted criminals. So when Vesper One orders them to steal the world's largest diamond, they know they're facing life in prison...or worse. But with the Cahill hostages still in peril, Amy and Dan have no choice but to launch a mission that leads them to an ancient city full of dangerous secrets. With a Vesper mole sabotaging the Madrigals from inside, Amy and Dan have to fulfill their enemy's request before it's too late. Vesper One has developed a taste for killing Cahills, and Amy and Dan aren't going to wait to see who's next.

My Rating: ***

Book 4 in the Cahills vs. Vespers and I think I'm finally a bit sick of them. I'll be waiting a long time to get back to this series, probably until a solid three or four more are out. Everything's just too dragged out and stretched out for me and it's driving me crazy! At least Dan and Amy are no longer heisting. That was beginning to bother me. Still, this is a fun series for middle graders and I highly recommend it for the history, the travel, and the excitement.

 From Goodreads:
This first novel in Alexander McCall Smith's widely acclaimed The No. I Ladies' Detective Agency series tells the story of the delightfully cunning and enormously engaging Precious Ramotswe, who is drawn to her profession to "help people with the problems in their lives." Immediately upon setting up shop in a small storefront in Gaborone, she is hired to track down a missing husband, uncover a con man, and follow a wayward daughter. But the case that tugs at her heart, and lands her in danger, is that of a missing eleven-year old boy, who may have ben snatched by witch doctors.

My Rating: ****

I've been reading more "book club - ish" books lately and this one is lovely and entertaining. It's not all pretty though, in fact, some of the uglier aspects of African culture (particularly in regards to how women are treated) really made me angry. But mostly this book was humorous and interesting. I loved watching Precious on the case! She's intelligent and witty and absolutely delightful to follow.

From the description I was expecting to find a big overarching story arc based on that last case it mentions, but there's really none of that. It's a collection of short stories, and sprinkled throughout are stories from Precious's life and childhood. There are tons of books in this series, and I'll will probably eventually get around to more, but not for a while.


The purest intentions can stir up the darkest obsessions.

In this prequel to Mary Shelley's gothic classic, Frankenstein, sixteen-year-old Victor Frankenstein begins a dark journey that will change his life forever. Victor's twin, Konrad, has fallen ill, and no doctor can cure him. Unwilling to give up on his brother, Victor enlists his beautiful cousin Elizabeth and his best friend, Henry, on a treacherous serach for the ingredients to create the forbidden Elixir of Life. Impossible odds, dangerous alchemy, and a bitter love triangle threaten their quest at every turn.

Victor knows he must not fail. But his success depends on how far he is willing to push the boundaries of nature, science, and love - and how much he is willing to sacrifice.

My Rating: ****

One down on my Halloween book list! I really liked it. Even more than I thought I would. I was worried it would be too dark and that Victor would be all stereotypical brooding Gothic hero, but the whole thing was more - in a good way. I really loved the identical twin dynamic between Victor and Konrad. I also loved the shades in Victor's character. There's some wonderful good in him and even though I know he's headed towards being a psychotic mad scientist, I was cheering for him to succeed and not let the bad overcome the good. Also, the love triangle was not bad. Elizabeth knew exactly what she wanted, and there wasn't a lot of swapping kisses back and forth. No, Victor is mostly just a victim of unrequited love and it wasn't hard to feel sympathy for him.

The quest was a bit formulaic: translate needed ingredient, discover it is conveniently within an hour or two's trip to get it, experience major danger getting it, wash, rinse, repeat.

But who can complain when the setting is in gorgeous Geneva set in a deliciously gothic chateau with secret passageways and hidden libraries?

Not me. :D

Highly recommended if you need a spooky-ish read this October!
When does obsession become madness?
Tragedy has forced sixteen-year-old Victor Frankenstein to swear off alchemy forever. He burns the Dark Library. He vows he will never dabble in the dark sciences again - just as he vows he will no longer covet Elizabeth, his brother's betrothed.
If only these things were not so tempting.
When he and Elizabeth discover a portal into the spirit world, they cannot resist. Together with Victor's twin, Konrad, and their friend Henry, they venture into a place of infinite possibilities where power and passion reign. But as they search for the knowledge to raise the dead, they unknowingly unlock a darkness from which they may never return.
My Rating: ****
The sequel was MUCH scarier! Like I had constant chills and couldn't read it at night. Plenty of communicating with the dead and creating bodies and demons and caves and such *shudder*. I feel like I can easily recommend the first one (it wasn't nearly as scary as I think it pretends to be), but this one you might want to steer clear of if you don't like horror.
Victor is definitely getting closer to being the Dr. Frankenstein we all know and love. But book Dr. Frankenstein, not pop-culture Dr. Frankenstein. One thing I really loved about this series in general was how true I felt it stayed to the source material. Frankenstein is obsessed with science and has good motivations. He just went too far. That is exactly what's going on with Victor. I also liked the subtle nods to the original work, like the street named Wollstonecraft Alley (Wollstonecraft is Mary Shelley's maden name) and Henry Clerval's poem ("She walks in beauty like the night") which was really written by Lord Byron (who was there that night when Mary Shelley wrote Frankenstein).
Anyway, overall this is a very interesting series and well done. I don't know if there will be another, but I'll be reading it if it does!

1 comment:

melissa @ 1lbr said...

I definitely had a similar reaction with False Memory - the memories came and went and it was so inconsistent to me. Still, so fun to read. I'm bummed about no answers to questions from Kill Order, though I guess not surprised. Also, just finished Such Wicked Intent - so, so creepy.