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!

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!

The Accidental Highwayman: Being the Tale of Kit Bristol, His Horse Midnight, a Mysterious Princess, and Sundry Magical Persons Besides (Adventures of Kit Bristol #1) by Ben Tripp

The Accidental Highwayman: Being the Tale of Kit Bristol, His Horse Midnight, a Mysterious Princess, and Sundry Magical Persons Besides (Adventures of Kit Bristol #1) by Ben Tripp

accidentalhighwaymanThis is the story of Kit, a half-fairy princess, a highwayman, a tightrope walker, a man who’s lost his memory and more.

The Accidental Highwayman is not a “swashbuckler.” I listened to the digital audiobook and didn’t see that description of this story until I came to its Goodread page. That’s a positive thing because I may have felt cheated otherwise.

Though it has a large cast of characters, the pace is quite slow. This is a book that can be savored but I see how it could just as easily be put aside.

I confess, I nearly gave it up when I went nearly four chapters in a row with nothing happening other than the wagon moving onwards. But, I stuck with it to the end.

The style of storytelling feels more like a Victorian era book rather than a modern fairytale. I believe this was a purposeful choice on the part of Ben Tripp- to give it a faux-classic feel.

I feel like The Princess Bride could be an apt comparison if you slowedBride‘s pacing way down and remove almost half of the adventure. The Accidental Highwayman has charm in my opinion, but not a lot of substance.

That being said, it contains one of the most over-the-top romantic lines I’ve ever heard in an audiobook: “If I don’t kiss you, I shall perish.”pg 269. If you like that kind of thing, you might enjoy this book very much. Think “slow burning wick” of a romance. Very slow. And not graphic but sweet.

Actually, The Accidental Highwayman was sort of like The Night Circus but with more goblins and less immersive descriptions. In that book, as in this, I felt like the story was reaching for more but never quite made it.

In conclusion, I recommend this book for readers with buckets of patience and a penchant for the fantastical and overly dramatic.

Thanks for reading!

The Adoration of Jenna Fox (Jenna Fox Chronicles, #1) by Mary E. Pearson

The Adoration of Jenna Fox (Jenna Fox Chronicles, #1)  by Mary E. Pearson

jennafoxWarning: minor spoilers ahead if you are not familiar with the topic of this book.

The Adoration of Jenna Fox fits nicely into a science fiction/medical category that includes films like Gattaca or books like Starters. As medicine advances, ethical questions begin to develop about treatment, life and death and humanity needs to answer them. But, one thing that remains the same throughout all of these technical changes, is the power of the love that parents have for their child.

Even now, people sign do not resuscitate orders so that medicine won’t keep them in a vegetative state for indeterminate periods of time. The occurrence of near-death experiences has exploded since CPR and other life-saving techniques have developed.

Imagine sometime in the near future, when bio-implants can be used to stop or even reverse internal damage. What if we figure out how to turn the aging gene off? How then will we handle death with dignity? Or will we even be able to accept death at all?

I listened to an interview with the author in which she said that she wrote this book because her own teenager was diagnosed with cancer. She went through the terror and did whatever was necessary to save her child. Along the way, she ran into parents whose children were terminally ill but had no viable treatment options. Pearson realized how lucky she and her daughter were and it sparked her imagination.

It’s a worthy a question: how far would you go to save someone you love? I recommend this book to anyone who wants to consider the possible answer.

Thanks for reading!

Winter (The Lunar Chronicles, #4) by Marissa Meyer

Winter (The Lunar Chronicles, #4) by Marissa Meyer

winterWarning: There are spoilers in this review. Please do not read further if you have not read this book.

Winter is the disappointing final installment of the promising Lunar Chronicles. Coming in at over 800 pages, I thought that this was going to be an epic conclusion. Sadly, I found it to be uninspired and far too repetitive.

Cress was my favorite of this series. In it, Meyer is at her best. Her fairy tale re-telling of Rapunzel was brilliant. She took the elements of the classic tale and gave it a science fiction twist. There’s adventure, danger and an inspiring heroine.

Winter reaches for that mix with the re-telling of Snow White, but it never makes it.

I started going through the stages of mourning with the ending of this series.

First, I was in denial. This couldn’t be the last of it. That’s not how the story ends… it can’t be!

Then, I was angry. These were characters I cared about. They deserved inventive and unique endings and not necessarily all perfectly happy ones wrapped in a bow. I know this isn’t a popular opinion but, sometimes there isn’t a happily ever after. Every single one of the protagonists ends up together. How predictable and trite.

On to bargaining. I thought that maybe if I waited to write my review, that I’d like it more. Perhaps time passing would blunt the edges of my disappointment. Perhaps I needed to accept that this book was written for the young adult audience and look at it from that point of view.

Then depression. So many readers loved this series, maybe my opinion was just wrong. Maybe I wouldn’t know what a good story was if it punched me in the face. Maybe I disliked this series just to be contrary to popular opinion.

Finally, acceptance. I did not like Winter. I didn’t like its emphasis on physical appearance and connecting that to internal characteristics. How many times did we have to hear how ugly Levana was under her glamour? And don’t we find out in this book that it wasn’t her fault? That she was physically abused and then taunted because of her appearance? So, yeah, let’s talk more about how repulsive she is.

I didn’t like how the worst thing that Meyer could think to write of her antagonists was “He/she was INSANE.” We get it.

I didn’t like how the characters would turn to each other and talk through obvious motivations. Do you think she/he did that/this because she knows we’re coming/going/trying to escape? Yeah, I do! Now stop talking and go face your destiny. We could have saved almost 200 pages if the characters would have acted instead of talked endlessly about acting.

And Iko’s happy ending was that she got a bunch of dresses and color-changing eyes? That was the final straw for me. She was my favorite character and she deserved an ending that matched her unflagging spirit, loyalty and optimism.

I listened to this entire series on audiobook. Was it worth the hours of my time? I guess that depends on what which book we’re talking about. If this series had ended on a book the quality of Cress, this would be a very different review.

My apologies if this is your favorite series. No book appeals to every reader. Winter just wasn’t for me.

Thanks for reading!