“In the moonlit room overlooking the city of faith, a priest knelt before Ephyra and begged for his life.”First line in There Will Come a Darkness by Katy Rose Pool
So, February… If you were trying to be worse than the last two years combined, I think you succeeded. And that’s me saying that about a month where my country was able to remove all Covid restrictions and we finally got our normal lives back. But of course, we weren’t allowed our stress-free lives for long as something that looks like World War III started in Ukraine. Being European right now is pretty scary, so I can’t even imagine what it must be like to be Ukrainian ❤️🇺🇦
February for me was very much a mixed bag. I had a week off at the beginning which I spent watching too much Winter Olympics, not that Denmark was greatly represented (it’s a big joke here how bad we are at winter sports considering our northern location), but that means you get to pick your favorites based on who have the funniest names instead.
Mentally I started to deteriorate towards the end of the month though, so I haven’t been as active in the blog-hopping department as I wanted to be and my reading is still in that kind of slumpy state as you see below:
I read about the same as in January, five pages less to be exact, but I’m satisfied that I got some more YA in. As for my goal of 60 books this year, I can tell you that my Goodreads is giving me attitude at the moment and claiming I’m 2 books behind schedule. I’m just really not in a place where I’m prioritizing reading outside of my designated reading times (yes, that’s a thing I have), so reading four books a month is my normal right now. Anyway, in the books I read in February, I had one reread, The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden, which I won’t review in this post, but the other three all got some lengthy ones instead so enjoy!
There Will Come a Darkness (The Age of Darkness #1)
Author: Katy Rose Pool
Published: September 3rd, 2019
Genre: YA Fantasy
Synopsis: The Age of Darkness approaches.
Five lives stand in its way.
Who will stop it… or unleash it?
For generations, the Seven Prophets guided humanity. Using their visions of the future, they ended wars and united nations―until the day, one hundred years ago, when the Prophets disappeared.
All they left behind was one final, secret prophecy, foretelling an Age of Darkness and the birth of a new Prophet who could be the world’s salvation . . . or the cause of its destruction. As chaos takes hold, five souls are set on a collision course:
A prince exiled from his kingdom.
A ruthless killer known as the Pale Hand.
A once-faithful leader torn between his duty and his heart.
A reckless gambler with the power to find anything or anyone.
And a dying girl on the verge of giving up.
A bit of a let-down. The series captured my attention because of its focus on prophecies and chosen ones, and I did kind of like those elements. The book did try something new by having more than one “chosen one”, but the mystery about who they were wasn’t really there since all five POV characters obviously had to play a role and you didn’t need to think that hard to make them fit within the big prophecy about the approaching Age of Darkness. It was quite predictable in that regard, but also in regards to how the characters were/are going to develop. It’s a book that cares a lot about checking all the diversity boxes which I personally find to be a problem when those characters aren’t allowed negative character traits. No matter what they do, it needs to be framed as a positive thing or a thing you can excuse which adds a certain degree of predictability as well (why do I need to root for someone who kills innocent people?). There were one or two characters I thought were handled well, but I could have done without the rest of them. Luckily, it’s a fast-paced read which meant that I didn’t have to stay with the characters I didn’t like for very long at a time. The plot in the second half of the book also managed to keep me interested which is why my feelings towards this book landed very much in the middle.
Author: Hanya Yanagihara
Published: January 11th, 2022
Genre: Literary Fiction
Buzzwords: Loneliness, stories spanning centuries, alternate reality
Synopsis: In an alternate version of 1893 America, New York is part of the Free States, where people may live and love whomever they please (or so it seems). The fragile young scion of a distinguished family resists betrothal to a worthy suitor, drawn to a charming music teacher of no means. In a 1993 Manhattan besieged by the AIDS epidemic, a young Hawaiian man lives with his much older, wealthier partner, hiding his troubled childhood and the fate of his father. And in 2093, in a world riven by plagues and governed by totalitarian rule, a powerful scientist’s damaged granddaughter tries to navigate life without him—and solve the mystery of her husband’s disappearances.
These three sections are joined in an enthralling and ingenious symphony, as recurring notes and themes deepen and enrich one another: A townhouse in Washington Square Park in Greenwich Village; illness, and treatments that come at a terrible cost; wealth and squalor; the weak and the strong; race; the definition of family, and of nationhood; the dangerous righteousness of the powerful, and of revolutionaries; the longing to find a place in an earthly paradise, and the gradual realization that it can’t exist. What unites not just the characters, but these Americas, are their reckonings with the qualities that make us human: Fear. Love. Shame. Need. Loneliness.
I cannot believe this book exists. It’s a beautiful and thought-provoking story about loneliness that uses unusual literary tools to immerse the reader in the lives of the characters. There are so many aspects and minor themes in the book which makes me believe each reader is going to take something different away from their experience with it, and I think it’s so interesting when a book is able to do that. If you want to know more about it, I have a full review for you to check out.
The Gravity of Us
Author: Phil Stamper
Published: February 4th, 2020
Genre: YA Contemporary
Synopsis: Cal wants to be a journalist, and he’s already well underway with almost half a million followers on his FlashFame app and an upcoming internship at Buzzfeed. But his plans are derailed when his pilot father is selected for a highly-publicized NASA mission to Mars. Within days, Cal and his parents leave Brooklyn for hot and humid Houston.
With the entire nation desperate for any new information about the astronauts, Cal finds himself thrust in the middle of a media circus. Suddenly his life is more like a reality TV show, with his constantly bickering parents struggling with their roles as the “perfect American family.”
And then Cal meets Leon, whose mother is another astronaut on the mission, and he finds himself falling head over heels–and fast. They become an oasis for each other amid the craziness of this whole experience. As their relationship grows, so does the frenzy surrounding the Mars mission, and when secrets are revealed about ulterior motives of the program, Cal must find a way to get to the truth without hurting the people who have become most important to him.
Okay, I have so many issues with this book. The most obvious thing is the main character Cal. Cal is an unlikeable character, which is fine. You can write about unlikeable characters… as long as you don’t frame them as likable. Cal is a proper hipster from Brooklyn who listens to cassettes “because the sound is better” and who has hundreds of thousands of followers on FlashFame (he’s a YouTuber) where he does news reports from New York and because of this, he got an internship with Buzzfeed. But he’s not going to be covering the entertainment stuff, of course. He’s is going to cover the “real” news… at Buzzfeed. Can you tell how hard I’m rolling my eyes? Anyway, I think this gives you a pretty good idea of what I mean when I call Cal pretentious, self-centered and a horrible friend, and it’s really hard to sympathize with such a character when these traits are what bring him trouble. Oh, and despite all the things he has going for him, he’s also trying to tell you that he has a tough life. Why? Because his parents fight once in a while…
Then you have everything else in this book which can be summed up in one word: Unrealistic. Social media plays a huge role and that’s never a good idea. If I had to take a guess at the author’s age, it would be about the mid-forties, purely based on how bad and based on stereotypes the social media in this book was (imagine my surprise when I found out he’s only a few years older than me). Then there was also the fact that, apparently, becoming an astronaut (which, again, apparently everyone can become) means you agree to be a participant in a reality show where a camera crew has full access to your home, and this reality show was the main focus of the book. Not the astronauts themselves or the science involved in space travel. No, it was about showing reality TV and entertainment news in general as the antagonist so Cal could shine with his “proper” journalism. I’m very much done with this book.
A short one this time around, but a bit of everything: some ranting, some gushing and some indifference. Let me know if you’ve read any of these books or if you plan to. I’d love to hear your thoughts!