The Infinite Sea (The 5th Wave, #2) by Rick Yancey

The Infinite Sea (The 5th Wave, #2) by Rick Yancey

theinfiniteseaGritter and more disturbing than The 5th Wave, Cassie, Ben, Ringer, et al are still trying to survive the end of the world. The mystery of the aliens increases. The manner in which the war against humanity is waged sinks to new lows. Yancey takes the story on some unexpected turns and I liked them.

The pace of this story is relentless and the lines are blurred between the “good guys” and the “bad guys.” It gives you a tension headache if you don’t take a break from it every couple of chapters. At least, it did for me. “Anyway, no debt is ever fully repaid, not really, not the ones that really matter. You saved me, he said, and back then I didn’t understand what I had saved him from. … Now I was thinking he didn’t mean I saved him from anything, but for something.” pg 128.

But for what! Yancey answers most of the questions he introduced the reader to in The 5th Wave. He also weaves in some complications. I won’t say anything about those… but they’re very serious and deadly. “No one can be trusted,” I said. “Not even a child.” The cold bored down to my bones and curled inside the marrow.” pg 148.

“I understand the game within the game now: There is nothing private, nothing sacred. There is no part of me hidden from him. My stomach churns with revulsion. He’s violated more than my memories. He’s molesting my soul.” pg 188. The aliens still seem to have the upper hand with the technology that can peer into people’s minds. With all of the creepy things in these books, that bit bothered me the most.

Will our intrepid teenage-survivalists solve the mystery of what the invaders want or what they are before everyone is dead? I don’t know… but I’m going to read the last book and find out. Recommended for young adults or the young-at-heart who enjoy dystopian/mystery thrill-rides.

Thanks for reading!

The 5th Wave (The 5th Wave, #1) by Rick Yancey

The 5th Wave (The 5th Wave, #1) by Rick Yancey

the5thwaveMajor spoilers ahead. Please do not read if you haven’t read this book.

The 5th Wave is about the end of the world and aliens, yes, but it also explores why life is worth living.

Cassie didn’t know how good she had it until the alien spaceship appeared in the sky and life was never the same. First, there was chaos, but now it is clear that the aliens want to exterminate everyone. And, if they just want the planet for themselves, why are they waging war in such a sadistic manner? It is a mystery and Cassie is going to figure it out.

I was really into the narrative when Rick Yancey chose to change characters and continue the story from a different point of view. I felt that it was unnecessary and broke the flow.

Also, and this is another pet peeve of mine, must every young adult dystopian contain romance as a major part of the plot? The Hunger Games, Divergent, I could go on… and this. You’d think the teens would be far too busy staying alive to fall in love, but that’s clearly not the case from the literature.

I really liked the manner in which Yancey introduces his aliens. First, you get to see their results on humanity. Then, he drops breadcrumbs about how they got here. It’s creepy. “There will be no awakening. The sleeping woman will feel nothing the next morning, only a vague sense of unease and the unshakable feeling that someone is watching her. … And what the shadow has come for- the baby within the sleeping woman- will feel nothing. The intrusion breaks no skin, violates not a single cell of her or the baby’s body.” pg 17, ebook. So scary.

I read a few reviews in which this book was accused of being a copycat of The Host and I feel that it deserves a comment. They are similar in that they both contain aliens, both are dystopians and both have the alien consciousness inside human consciousness. But, those are very broad strokes. The details of the books are different enough and I feel that Yancey has his own plans for his story.

In The Host, the aliens feel more misunderstood and benevolent than the scary creatures in The 5th Wave. This book has a lot more action, The Host is more nuanced. To be fair, superficially, they seem too similar for that to be a coincidence. But in reality, they are as different as Star Wars and Dune. Wait a minute, bad comparison? 🙂

Here’s one of my favorite passages: “Forget about flying saucers and little green men and giant mechanical spiders spitting out death rays. Forget about epic battles with tanks and fighter jets and the final victory of us scrappy, unbroken, intrepid humans over the bug-eyed swarm. That’s about as far from the truth as their dying planet was from our living one. The truth is, once they found us, we were toast.” pg 19, ebook.

Also this one, for obvious reasons: “.. I have a thing about books. So did my father. … While the rest of us scrounged for potable water and food and stocked up on the weaponry for the last stand we were sure was coming, Daddy was out with my little brother’s Radio Flyer carting home books.” pg 33, ebook. Seriously. If the apocalypse ever comes, I’m going to camp out in the library, Station Eleven style. Who’s with me?

Recommended for people who like dystopians and intense survival scenes and aren’t annoyed by angst-y teen romance. The 5th Wave is one scary alien story. They’re here and they’re out to get you and everyone you know! And, so far, they’re doing a VERY good job.

Thanks for reading!

The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware

The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware

cabin10A so-so mystery with an unreliable narrator that takes place, for the most part, on a boat. It was ok thriller, but I would never have read it without the encouragement of my book club.

In the desperate search for “the next Gone Girl“, The Woman in Cabin 10was put forward as an option. I think that’s unfair. The next Gone Girlor Hunger Games will be so clearly original and ground-breaking that it couldn’t be titled the next fill-in-the-blank.

And, with that sort of hype, it put an expectation on this story that it didn’t live up to. But, that’s not The Woman in Cabin 10‘s fault.

It was clear to me that Ruth Ware had experience as a journalist. Her character, Lo Blacklock, is completely believable in that regard. But, I found that I didn’t like her much. She puts too much pressure on herself to succeed.

“I had to get myself together before I left for this trip. It was an unmissable, unrepeatable opportunity to prove myself after ten years at the coalface of boring cut-and-paste journalism. This was my chance to show I could hack it…” pg 20.

But, if she had taken the time to stay home and recover from her PTSD, what sort of thriller would that be? So, off she goes, onto a billionaire’s exclusive boat.

“…it was pretty nice. I guess you had to get something for the eight grand or whatever it was they were charging for this place. The amount was slightly obscene, in comparison to my salary- or even Rowan’s salary.” pg 47.

Then, in classic thriller fashion, she hears a scream in the night, sees something that no one, even she, believes and is now stuck in an enclosed space with a potential killer.

Even with that set-up, I didn’t get into the story. Lo is overly-dramatic and doesn’t take the time to think things through. I found myself wishing that she would slow down and start keeping a complete written record rather than running from one disastrous encounter to the next.

“I lay there, cudgeling my battered brain to try to work it out, but the more I tried to ram the bits of information together, the more it felt like a jigsaw with too many pieces to fit the frame.” pg 242.

She jumps to conclusions and accuses or dismisses people nearly on a whim. I’d read a passage and then say to myself, “Come on, is that really the best you could do?” Now, that’s hardly fair as she’s exhausted, terrified and traumatized. But still. That’s what I thought.

Plus, the “unreliable narrator” thing has been done. In this story, Lo’s unreliable because she has anxiety and drinks a lot to forget that fact. That sounds like almost everyone I know.

Recommended for fans of mystery. It is enjoyable, but don’t make my mistake and expect too much complexity from The Woman in Cabin 10.

Thanks for reading!

Grave Peril (The Dresden Files, #3) by Jim Butcher

Grave Peril (The Dresden Files, #3) by Jim Butcher

graveperilAnother satisfying entry in The Dresden Files. Harry Dresden is again saving the world from supernatural creatures so that we can all sleep soundly in our beds at night. He’s joined by a knight of the church, an intrepid reporter and his familiar, Bob.

There are vampires, fairies and ghosts, oh my! Plus some other magical creatures thrown in for good measure.

My one complaint is that my favorite character, Murphy, doesn’t figure as largely into this plot as she did in the last book. Here’s hoping that she has a larger role in the next.

Recommended for fans of urban fantasy, The Dresden Files is the tops. Also, if you can, listen to the audio books. James Marsters’ narration is near perfection.

Thanks for reading!

Girl in Dior by Annie Goetzinger

Girl in Dior by Annie Goetzinger

girlindiorA girl falls into the world of high fashion and then out of it and then back in again. A so-so storyline that should have been elevated by, come on, Dior! Sadly, that was not the case.

I would have enjoyed this more if it had just been panels of the dresses rather than pretending to be a story.

Literally, a girl in Dior on each page would have been epic.

Only recommended for serious fashionistas or those who study graphic novel art. Every one else, strut your stuff on down the library aisle and pick another book.

Thanks for reading!

Bracelet of Bones (Viking Sagas #1) by Kevin Crossley-Holland

Bracelet of Bones (Viking Sagas #1) by Kevin Crossley-Holland

braceletofbA young adult, coming-of-age Viking tale that attempts to examine the religious differences between the Norse religion and Christianity while taking the heroine on a cross country adventure.

I liked the characters. I liked the setting. I even liked the time period. Bracelet of Bones should have been a home run for me, but it just wasn’t.

At first, I thought that the book was going to feature a struggle between pagan religions and Christians: “Most of the families living along our fjord have been baptized,” Asta retorted, “but they still worship Odin and the other gods as well.” The young priest shook his head. “I will pray for you,” he said, “and visit you again.” pg 25. But, he was never heard from again. At least, not in this title.

Then, I thought that this book was going to be primarily about Solveig’s journey to find her father. That was closer to the truth: “I’ve never felt so afraid. But I’ve never been so sure of what I have to do. Mother, my mother, my journey will either lead me to my father or lay me down like you.” pg 29. Her mother has been dead for a long time. Not a spoiler, that is explained in the first few pages of the book.

Solveig joins a few different groups of travelers on her way. Some of the characters are trustworthy, others are not, but none of them are very memorable.

My favorite parts were the storytelling moments of Bracelet of Bones and I wished that there were more of them: “This girl lived on our fjord and she told a story about how the winter was so bitter that even the gods were famished and Skadi herself had to go ice-fishing and hunting. But she told it on the eve of the spring solstice. Her words stopped the sun from warming the earth!” pg 191.

The quote that best encapsulates this story is: “…you can sit at home by the fire and stir the stew-pot and nothing much will change, or you can say your prayers and step out and face what’s unknown.” pg 275. I endeavor to step out that door and face the unknown every day. Some days I’m more successful than others.

Only recommended for those who enjoy tales about Vikings. Though it reached for thrilling heights, Bracelet of Bones feels to me like a book that chose to stay at home by the fire and stir the stew-pot.

Thanks for reading!

Heartless by Marissa Meyer

Heartless by Marissa Meyer

heartlessThis is the tale of how the Queen of Hearts became the cold and heartless character of Through the Looking Glass fame.

Origin stories and fairy tale re-tellings are where its at. I’ve lost track of how many books I’ve read that examine well-known stories from a different point of view. Marissa Meyer does an excellent job maintaining the whimsy of the first book while weaving her new story in-between.

I’ll confess- I wasn’t expecting to enjoy Heartless as much as I did.

A few months ago, I read her Lunar Chronicles and I was sorely disappointed with it. Meyer is playing upon all of her strengths here. She tells the story of two or three characters rather than a cast of twelve or more. Whenever her character’s conversations threatened to bog down the action, they were cut short.

The pace is excellent. The tale kept me guessing. And the ending was something to be enjoyed rather than eye-rollingly trite. (Unlike some other books by this author that I won’t sully this review by mentioning.)

Catherine is the daughter of the Marquis and Marchioness of Rock Turtle Cove. She loves to bake and dreams of the bakery shop that she will surely one day own with her dear friend and maid, Mary Ann. Unfortunately, Catherine’s mother has other plans.

I liked that Meyer made Catherine both a product of nature and destiny. See the description of Catherine’s mother: “She was often a warm, loving woman, and Cath’s father, the Marquis, doted on her incessantly, but Cath was all too familiar with her mood swings. All cooing and delighted one moment and screaming at the top of her lungs the next. Despite her tiny stature, she had a booming voice and a particular glare that could make even a lion’s heart shrivel beneath it.” pgs 14-15. Sounds familiar, no?

The King of Hearts and his court of cards, talking animals and other magical creatures were also similar to the original book: “The King was a sweet man. A simple man. A happy man, which was important, as a happy king made for a happy kingdom. He simply wasn’t a clever man.” pg 26.

One of my favorite characters, the Cheshire Cat, appears in this too:“She slumped against the baker’s table. “I never dreamed such a thing could happen here.” Cheshire’s yellow eyes slitted as he held her gaze for one beat, two. Then he began to unravel from the tip of his tail, a slow unwinding of his stripes. “These things do not happen in dreams, dear girl,” he said, vanishing up to his neck. “They happen only in nightmares.” pg 93. Dun, dun, daaaaaaah!

And also, the merry, merry unbirthday singer and snappy dresser himself, Hatta, also known as the perhaps-not-yet-mad Hatter: “Was he mad already? She couldn’t help inspecting him, newly speculative and curious. He didn’t seem mad. No more mad than anyone else she knew. No more mad than she was herself. They were all a little mad, if one was to be forthright.” pg 222. Harkens back to the original text: “We’re all mad here.”, doesn’t it.

We are introduced to an entirely new character, the King’s joker, a man named Jest. At the beginning of the story, Catherine finds herself dreaming of a man with yellow eyes and guess who matches that description?

Mix all of these together and you have a great young adult fantasy. Recommended for anyone who is curious as to why a raven is like a writing desk.

Thanks for reading!