Posted in Book Review

Book Review and Spoiler Talk: The Gray Wolf Throne by Cinda Williams Chima

“Raisa ana‘Marianna huddled in her usual dark corner at the Purple Heron, picking at her meat pie.”

First line in The Gray Wolf Throne by Cinda Williams Chima

Author: Cinda Williams Chima

Published: January 1st 2011

Genre: YA Fantasy

My rating: 1 star

Hi, guys and welcome to my third post about the Seven Realms series, reviewing The Gray Wolf Throne. I debated whether to write this post or not because as you can tell from my rating, I did NOT like this book. This review is therefore going to be a little ranty but I’ll try to keep it brief. 

Having liked the first two books in the series, I was expecting this third book to be even better as we’re nearing the end. Now that I’m done, I’m struggling to find something positive to say about it. 

My main issue is probably the pacing. This book was waaaay to slow. Too much time was spent leading up to and preparing for significant events (which there were very few of). The dialogue went in circles. The characters would talk and talk and talk but they were having the same arguments with slightly different wording every time. They also spent a lot of time feeling sorry for themselves and it got pretty sickening after 300 pages. 

Basically, a lot of this book was not necessary for the plot or the character development. Important parts of this book would probably only take up about 100 pages (out of 517) and so I wonder whether this book should have ever existed. 

Another issue for me was the cringey and out-dated romance tropes. There have been a few of those in the previous books but not enough the make me annoyed. In The Gray Wolf Throne, however, they were just piled on top of each other and took up most of the book. I’m not going to describe them here because that would take forever and be kind of spoilery. I go into some of them in my spoiler section if you’re interested. One I want to call out though. The book trying to be “feminist” but then you have female characters hating other female characters purely because they like the same guy. No. Other. Reason. Stop it! The way that it is done in this one is making me especially angry. 

Okay, I’m going to stop this here. I’m still going to read the last book in the series because I might as well. This next part is going to be all about spoilers so stop reading if you don’t want to know more. 

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Spoiler Talk

  • Very slow start. Did we need to spent this much seeing them travel? It could easily have been condensed. 
  • Why was Crow’s identity revealed at the beginning? Without a spectacle? We got the information and then “oh let’s move on.” There was a build up for a reveal by the end of book 2 so why didn’t we get it there? I’m wondering why he was completely ignored in the last half of the book. They spent to much time talking about him before that. 
  • The dialogue is going in circles. Everybody trying to take the blame for something riddiculus and then feel bad for themselves. 
  • It was such a shock to me that the queen just died! I mean, I expected it to happen at some point but I guess I thought it would actually happen on the page. Not for it to be something we’re just told about. It was expected because we obviously need Raisa to be queen so Marianna had to go. 
  • Not gonna lie… I’m a little creeped out by the Mellony/Micah thing. 
  • Why is it that Raisa hasn’t punched Nightwalker yet? And why is she humoring him? He’s such a jerk and needs to be told. Same really goes for Micah. It’s really the trope of “the guy is hot so it doesn’t matter how he behaves” and it’s frustrating. Also don’t understand why Raisa would accept a kiss from Nightwalker 5 minutes after she’s reminded that he’s still with Night Bird.
  • There was no ending? Like… nothing happened. It just faded out with the coronation. I expected something to go wrong there as there hadn’t been a climactic moment. Did anything happen in this book? I felt like I was waiting and waiting and waiting. Then I came to the end to find out that I was waiting for nothing. Disappointed. 

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That was my thoughts on The Gray Wolf Throne by Cinda Williams Chima. Not exactly a good reading experience but I haven’t lost hope for the series. I want to see how it ends. Let me know what you thought of it if you’ve read it. 

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Posted in Book Review

Book Review and Spoiler Talk: The Exiled Queen by Cinda Williams Chima

“Lieutenant Mac Gillen of the Queen’s Guard of the Fells hunched his shoulders against the witch wind that howled out of the frozen wastelands to the north and west.”

First line in The Exiled Queen by Cinda Williams Chima

Hi, guys. I’m back with another review of a book in the Seven Realms series!! We’ve made it to book 2: The Exiled Queen. As in my post for the first book, I’m going to give my overall thoughts of the book first and then transition into a spoiler-section in the end. However, be aware that there will be spoilers for The Demon King in my overall thoughts. 

Author: Cinda Williams Chima

Published: September 1st 2010

Genre: YA Fantasy

Series: Seven Realms, Book 2

My rating: 4 stars

Synopsis: Haunted by the loss of his mother and sister, Han Alister journeys south to begin his schooling at Mystwerk House in Oden’s Ford. But leaving the Fells doesn’t mean that danger isn’t far behind. Han is hunted every step of the way by the Bayars, a powerful wizarding family set on reclaiming the amulet Han stole from them. And Mystwerk House has dangers of its own. There, Han meets Crow, a mysterious wizard who agrees to tutor Han in the darker parts of sorcery—but the bargain they make is one Han may regret.

Meanwhile, Princess Raisa ana’Marianna runs from a forced marriage in the Fells, accompanied by her friend Amon and his triple of cadets. Now, the safest place for Raisa is Wein House, the military academy at Oden’s Ford. If Raisa can pass as a regular student, Wein House will offer both sanctuary and the education Raisa needs to succeed as the next Gray Wolf queen.

Everything changes when Han and Raisa’s paths cross, in this epic tale of uncertain friendships, cut-throat politics, and the irresistible power of attraction.

Goodreads

Spoiler-free Review

The Exiled Queen starts off right where we left the characters in The Demon King with both Han and Raisa travelling towards Oden’s ford with their respective groups. I gotta say that this made me a little worried I wouldn’t like the book. It’s clear that our characters are going to travel a while and then enter a school setting at Oden’s ford. A long travel and a school setting are two of my least favorite things to read about so I was not set up to like this book. However, it worked out really well. 

The first half of the book is the strongest in my opinion. It’s very action packed while at the same time expanding the world and teaching you about the different realms. Those are both things I wanted more of from this book compared to the first. 

The latter half is spent more on character development which was also needed but the story dragged a little bit because of it. Maybe it’s just me and that school setting not getting along but the story was more or less put on hold while the characters were learning stuff. The positive outcome of this, however, is that I like the our main characters more after reading this. Especially Han’s character came together for me and I now appreciate him a lot more. Raisa is a character I’m not completely sure I love yet. She has moments where I can tell she has the potential to become my favorite character… but then she also has moments where she’s the stereotypical annoying female character so I’m not sure what to think of her. 

The last thing I just want to mention in this part of the review is the book’s commentary on racism. It’s very subtle but nonetheless effective which I think is completely intentional. None of our two main characters are the subject of the discrimination so they don’t experience the problem in the same way as someone like Dancer. Very much a real-life representation of privilege I would say. 

Now, let’s move on to the spoiler section. 

Spoiler Talk

I’ve made a list because I love lists. This is in no particular order and is just a list of random thoughts I had while reading. Enjoy. 

  • Very cool that we started with a chapter from the POV of Mac Gillen. I love these kinds of insights into the mind workings of the bad guys.
  • I normally don’t enjoy long ‘travel sequences’ in books but this is an exception. First of all because action is happening all the time!! Second of all because I really like how Chima uses the characters’ journey as a way of showing off the world. And not just the scenery. We get little insights into the culture and political situation of the different areas and it’s so cleverly done. I love it!
  • That first scene with the Henri Tourant guy… I appreciate it when an author can make me despise a character in just a couple of pages. He was so obnoxious and so realistic too. I’ve definitely been in arguments with people like him who don’t check their “facts”.
  • For some reason I find it hilarious that Han is such a ladies man. And that we actually see it! We’re just not told about some relationships in the past (although we get that too), but we also see him unapologetically turning around to look at some girl’s legs while he’s talking to Dancer. It’s not that he’s a “bad boy” because of it, well,… he is but in a good way, you know. I really just think it’s refreshing to see this character trait in a male MC.
  • I’m sad to say that I find Raisa annoying. Especially in that scene when Amon tells her why they can’t be together. She keeps interrupting him because she just assumes that she must have all the information. Just listen to him for a second! When she suggested that they try kissing anyway, I almost rolled my eyes to the back of my head. He’s just told her it’s going to put him in excruciating pain and she just wants to try it out? Great solution.
  • I wish Han would interact more with his friends Dancer and Cat. We barely saw his friendship with Dancer in the first book and I had hoped this would be rectified when they actually went to school together. It didn’t exactly. It gives me the feeling of being told about a friendship instead of seeing it but of course it’s a minor detail.
  • Gotta admit… I assumed Dancer was gay. But okay, he’s with Cat now. We don’t know much about their relationship as of yet so not sure if I ship it yet. We did get a female/female romance in here though which I appreciated. They are some seriously minor characters though so I hope to see some other queer elements later on.
  • The ending was fine without being amazing. I’m not sure it gave that many answers (who the hell is that Crow-guy?!?) but instead worked to set us up for the third book.

There you have my thoughts on The Exiled Queen which I hope you either found entertaining or insightful. Maybe not, but still, let’s chat in the comments if you’ve read it. What did you think of this second installment in the Seven Realms?

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Posted in Book Review

Book Review and Spoiler Talk: The Demon King by Cinda Williams Chima

“Han Alister squatted next to the steaming mud spring, praying that the thermal crust would hold his weight.”

First line in The Demon King by Cinda Williams Chima

Hi, guys and welcome to my post about The Demon King by Cinda Williams Chima. I hesitate calling this a review because it’s more or less just going to be a spew of thoughts from me. When I started writing it, I realized that most of what I wanted to talk about was quite spoilery. Therefore this post is going to feature a small non-spoilery section about my overall feelings about the book and then a spoiler section with some random thoughts I had while reading.

Author: Cinda Williams Chima

Published: October 6th 2009

Genre:YA Fantasy

Series: Seven Realms, Book 1

My rating: 3 stars

Synopsis: Times are hard in the mountain city of Fellsmarch. Reformed thief Han Alister will do almost anything to eke out a living for his family. The only thing of value he has is something he can’t sell—the thick silver cuffs he’s worn since birth. They’re clearly magicked—as he grows, they grow, and he’s never been able to get them off.

One day, Han and his clan friend, Dancer, confront three young wizards setting fire to the sacred mountain of Hanalea. Han takes an amulet from Micah Bayar, son of the High Wizard, to keep him from using it against them. Soon Han learns that the amulet has an evil history—it once belonged to the Demon King, the wizard who nearly destroyed the world a millennium ago. With a magical piece that powerful at stake, Han knows that the Bayars will stop at nothing to get it back.

Meanwhile, Raisa ana’Marianna, princess heir of the Fells, has her own battles to fight. She’s just returned to court after three years of freedom in the mountains—riding, hunting, and working the famous clan markets. Raisa wants to be more than an ornament in a glittering cage. She aspires to be like Hanalea—the legendary warrior queen who killed the Demon King and saved the world. But her mother has other plans for her…

The Seven Realms tremble when the lives of Hans and Raisa collide, fanning the flames of the smoldering war between clans and wizards.

Goodreads

Spoiler-free Review

The Demon King had been on my TBR almost a year and on my mind even longer before I decided to pick it up. I was afraid that it would be too old. YA fantasy is a fast changing genre and tropes are easily overused. However, I kept hearing or reading positive reviews for this series so I decided to read it, keeping in mind that it’s from 2009.

I ended up with some conflicting emotions but my overall feeling was positive. Yes, there are tropes we’ve seen before (a lot) and not everything made perfect sense. Somehow that didn’t affect my reading experience very much. I loved reading it! The world and the political landscape were quite intriguing to me and I got the sense that those will be explored even further in the next books. It was very much a book with a lot of set-up. The plot was barely there and you don’t really see it until the end. I don’t mind books without plot because I love to just learn about the characters and the world. To someone else, this first book might be a tough start to the series.

About the characters… well, there’s potential at least. The only character I really latched on to was Dancer and he’s barely there. He seems to have a very interesting story that we don’t know very much about. The other characters were all right but nothing spectacular. The female MC is very close to slipping into the “not like other girls” trope but I think she just steers clear. The male MC was a little bit all over the place in this first book. Like he was trying to be several characters at once. But as I said, there’s great potential for some character growth in the next books.

Spoiler Thoughts

Stop reading if you don’t want to read SPOILERS! I’ve made a list of all the random thoughts I had while reading.

  • Dancer is so intriguing! He seems to have so many layers that I can’t wait to learn more about in the next books. Also, as far as I understood, his mother was raped and he came from that? I was quite shocked by that because that’s pretty gruesome for YA.
  • The parts of the book that takes place in Marisa Pines were definitely my favorites. I found the whole clan thing and that culture very interesting.
  • How many love interests does Raisa need? I mean, wouldn’t one be enough? How is three necessary? I liked her relationship with Micah in the beginning. Not because it was perfect, but because there was so much obvious possible growth in both characters through that. I also enjoyed that it was more playful instead of serious which I think is rare for me to find in YA fantasy. However, I guess he’s off the table now that his father tried to force Raisa into a marriage with Micah. That’s got to be a dealbreaker.
  • We’re also introduced to Amon, the second love interest. When you compare him to Micah (which you sort of have to), he’s just so… boring. He’s very much the stereotypical “nice guy” who values honor and all that. I’m going to say that there’s room for him to grow too but please don’t let Raisa end up with him.
  • Is Han also a love interest? I’m not sure what to make of their interactions. I didn’t like his relationship with Bird. I was so happy when they were prophesized to not work together.
  • “*character* seemed to know what *other character* was thinking”. I’ve read this too many times! I need there to be a plot twist in the next books explaining how every character in this series is a mind reader.
  • They actually killed Han’s family?!? I mean, I appreciate the whole “actions have consequences” that it represents but damn… that’s dark.
  • I’m not sure what I think of Han. I have trouble piecing his character together because he has so many sides and some of them are a bit contradicting. How can someone become a streetlord at 15 and at the same time be so slow to piece stuff together? That guy doesn’t see anything coming! I guess we have another character with room to grow.

That was my post about The Demon King with a little bit of everything. Let me know what you think about this book if you’ve read or plan to read it. I’m going to be reading the second book very soon and plan to do a similar post about that one. Until then, I hope you’re having a great reading life.

Posted in Book Review

Book Review: Dry by Neal Shusterman and Jarrod Shusterman

“The kitchen faucet makes the most bizarre sounds.”

First line in Dry by Neal Shusterman and Jarrod Shusterman

Published: October 1st 2018

Genre: YA science fiction/dystopia

My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Synopsis: Everyone’s going to remember where they were when the taps ran dry.

The drought—or the tap-out, as everyone calls it – has been going on for a while. Life has become an endless list of don’ts: don’t water the lawn, don’t take long showers, don’t panic. But now there is no water left at all.

Suddenly, Alyssa’s quiet suburban street spirals into a warzone of desperation and violence. When her parents go missing, she and her younger brother must team up with an unlikely group in search of water. Each of them will need to make impossible choices to survive.

Goodreads

Review

Going into this book, I was a little scared. I had just finished Neal Shusterman’s Arc of a Scythe and so naturally I was afraid that his other works wouldn’t reach the same level of awesomeness. And while Dry isn’t Arc of a Scythe, it’s still a very thought-provoking and gripping read.

What I really want to complement about Dry is its structure. Yeah, I know that sounds expectionally dull but stay with me for a second. We start the book with two POV characters, Alyssa and Kelton. Those are the ones who introduce us to the world and the problem of the water shortage. As the story progresses, we get two more POV characters but those aren’t introduced until they meet our “main” characters. I loved that. Another author would have us following all of them from the beginning simply because some of them would be relevant later. Shusterman proved that that isn’t necessary.

Also, even though this book is very character-focused, we still get glimpses of how the rest of California looks like during the crisis. These very short scenes from random places are so well done and honestly remind me quite a lot of Arc of Scythe. It was a really great way to give perspective and showcase ALL of the horrible things that were happening.

I want to talk about the characters as well because I have both praise and criticism to those. I especially liked two of the characters and by liked I mean that I wanted to strangle one of them. It’s rare that I hate a character that much. However, I like it when a book give me some strong emotions, no matter good or bad. The character was still very realistic and that character work was so well done.

One of the characters I didn’t really care for was the main character Alyssa because she was honestly kind of boring. I got a little bit of a Mary Sue vibe when reading about her. She was a little bit too good all the time. So it’s not that I hated her as a character. I would just consider myself indifferent and that not the ideal feeling to have for the main character.

The writing is great. It’s very easy to understand but still manages to be emotional and draw you in. I also couldn’t tell that it was written by two authors. There were no abrupt changes in the writing style along the way which always gives a more pleasant read. What did almost ruin the book for me was the ending. I don’t want to spoil you but I do think that the ending could have been a lot stronger. And by ending, I mean the very, very end. The last 10 pages could have been left out and I would have loved the book more.

However, Dry is still a great book that I will highly recommend if you’re into dystopia and other end-of-the-world kinds of books. The book really focuses on the mental state of these characters and how it changes because of the circumstances. The Shustermans manage to make it incredibly fascinating and real. Again, it will make you think, which is also why I think fans of Arc of a Scythe will like this one. I’m definitely going to be reading more of Shusterman’s books.

That was my review of Dry by Neal Shusterman and Jarrod Shusterman. I hope I convinced you to read it. If you’ve read it already, let me know what you thought of it. Hope you’re having a great weekend!

Posted in Book Review

Book Review: The Fever King by Victoria Lee

“Outbreaks of magic started all kinds of ways.”

First line in The Fever King by Victoria Lee

Author: Victoria Lee

Published: March 1st 2019

Genre: YA Science Fiction Fantasy

Series: Book 1 in the Feverwake duology

My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Synopsis:

In the former United States, sixteen-year-old Noam Álvaro wakes up in a hospital bed, the sole survivor of the viral magic that killed his family and made him a technopath. His ability to control technology attracts the attention of the minister of defense and thrusts him into the magical elite of the nation of Carolinia.

The son of undocumented immigrants, Noam has spent his life fighting for the rights of refugees fleeing magical outbreaks—refugees Carolinia routinely deports with vicious efficiency. Sensing a way to make change, Noam accepts the minister’s offer to teach him the science behind his magic, secretly planning to use it against the government. But then he meets the minister’s son—cruel, dangerous, and achingly beautiful—and the way forward becomes less clear.

Caught between his purpose and his heart, Noam must decide who he can trust and how far he’s willing to go in pursuit of the greater good.

Goodreads

Review

The Fever King is the kind of book that isn’t perfect but I couldn’t help loving it anyway. The book initially caught my eye because it was set in the future but it also had magic. I think it’s rare to see a combination of the two and I just have to say that it worked really well.

The story takes place 100 years in the future in what was formerly known as North Carolina in the United States, now called Carolinia. Magical outbreaks have destroyed much of the land and have created huge groups of refugees. You see, magic isn’t only a good thing in this world. When you get infected with magic, you either get magical abilities or you die. Most people die.

It was very interesting way to create this refugee-issue that drew so many parallels our real world concerning the refugee crisis. I really liked how Lee incorporated this social commentary into the book. She clearly had something to say and I think that made the book turn out quite educational in that regard. I especially appreciated that frustration and passion about the issue we got through the main character Noam.

Noam is the character we follow throughout the whole book. He’s resourceful and passionate about his only goal which is to help the refugees anyway he can. Even though I didn’t absolutely love Noam, I do think he’s a great protagonist. He’s a well rounded character. The same can be said of many of the other characters altough there are a few who appear somewhat flat. However, it is a YA book so I would say that is to be expected.

Speaking of YA, I actually tried to find out whether this book is considered Young Adult or New Adult. All sources I found called it Young Adult but then I will definitely put it in the upper end of the category and leaning towards New Adult. These characters swear quite a lot and sex is also a prevalent theme although nothing too graphic. That’s it though. The narrative fits the Young Adult category and Noam is 16 years old so in that sense, the book is YA. Just be aware of those other things as well.

One thing that took my rating down a bit was the lack of information. The book uses a hard magic system (meaning it has rules) but doesn’t do a very good job of explaining it to the reader. I really want to know the reaches and limitations of the characters’ abilities to avoid the situation where they just solve a difficult problem by lifting a finger. It probably would turn a bit info-dumpy but I prefer that over the confusion I felt through the first half of the book.

Speaking of confusion, that beginning was really all over the place. It gave me the feeling that that specific beginning was just there to introduce us to so many things at once. The world. The characters. I was very confused by trying to remember everything and every name mentioned. However, when it settled down, I started enjoying the book immediately. It just wasn’t a great first impression.

To end this review, I want to recommend this book to the reader who enjoys YA fantasy and sci-fi and wants to read something a little more mature and serious without going into the adult section. It is also for the reader who enjoys a dystopian setting with a little bit of a fantasy twist. If you want all of this and a diverse read, I think you should read The Fever King.

There you have my thoughts on The Fever King. It was such a surprising read so I hope I at least have made you interested. How you read it already or do you plan to? Let me know in the comments. Have a great day!

Posted in Book Review

Book Review: Wayward Son by Rainbow Rowell

“Simon Snow did what he came to do.”

First line in Wayward Son by Rainbow Rowell

Author: Rainbow Rowell

Genre: YA/NA fantasy

Series: Simon Snow (book 2)

My rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Synopsis: The story is supposed to be over.

Simon Snow did everything he was supposed to do. He beat the villain. He won the war. He even fell in love. Now comes the good part, right? Now comes the happily ever after…

So why can’t Simon Snow get off the couch?

What he needs, according to his best friend, is a change of scenery. He just needs to see himself in a new light…

That’s how Simon and Penny and Baz end up in a vintage convertible, tearing across the American West.

They find trouble, of course. (Dragons, vampires, skunk-headed things with shotguns.) And they get lost. They get so lost, they start to wonder whether they ever knew where they were headed in the first place…

With Wayward Son, Rainbow Rowell has written a book for everyone who ever wondered what happened to the Chosen One after he saved the day. And a book for everyone who was ever more curious about the second kiss than the first. It’s another helping of sour cherry scones with an absolutely decadent amount of butter.

Come on, Simon Snow. Your hero’s journey might be over – but your life has just begun.

Wayward Son was one of my most anticipated releases of the year, and therefore, I’m so happy to say that it was freaking amazing! I read it in 2 days even though I was trying to take my time with it. I’d been missing these characters for a long time, and it was such a joy to read about them again that I didn’t want to finish the book.

I had to spend some time thinking about what I’d read before I was actually able to write this review. However, now that my thoughts are in order, I will tell you about my likes (there’s a lot) and dislikes (just a few). I’ll tell you about my overall thoughts at the end, but first let’s dicuss the negatives.

  • Unnecessary action sequences

Here, you might think “how can an action sequence be unnecessary?”. Normally, I would think the same so let me explain. While on their American road trip, the characters (of course) run into trouble. The action scenes that ensue from this are actually really great and I loved reading them. My problem with them didn’t occur until I had finished the book and I realised that those scenes did really matter. They had no major tie-in to the overall plot. That made them seem like they were just put there to give the reader some excitement in an otherwise dialogue-heavy book. Not a big dislike on my part, but it could have been done better.

  • A set up book

A third book has already been announced to this series that was only meant to be a standalone. It shows in this second book although not as much as I’d feared. We spend a lot of time learning about new storylines and not very much is resolved by the end.

  • Villain

I won’t say too much about this as the villain is revealed quite late in the book. I just thought it was such a cool idea and so fitting for the story Rowell wanted to tell.

  • Character development

I LOVE THIS! I’m amazed at how well the character development is done. Rowell just continues the work she did in Carry On, and I especially love how she makes the characters so realistic. Her development doesn’t mean one long ascend to perfection. There are ups and downs and some flaws are even there to stay. I love every single character because of this.

  • The story structure

I think the entire build-up of the plot was really well done. The book starts kind of slow but I think that’s a necessity. We needed to get the feeling of where the characters were emotionally after the end of Carry On. I enjoyed that Rowell took her time with that instead of just throwing another villain at them from the start. As we get further along, the pace of the story continues to rise to the point where I couldn’t put the book down. I ended up reading the last 80 pages in one sitting.

  • A contemporary disguised as a fantasy

This might seem like a negative thing for someone who loves fantasy. However, this is actually the perfect solution if you want me to really love a contemporary. By calling it a contemporary, I mean that there aren’t a great focus on the fantastical elements. This series is way more about the characters and their identity and relationship with each other. I just love how the fantasy elements are incorporated into the issues.

  • The representation of depression

Depression is a huge theme of the book, and I will say that Rowell broke my heart several times with that. She showed us the thoughts of someone with a depression, but we also got the perspective of the depressed’s loved ones. From what I know of depression, this seems like a fairly accurate representaion. I haven’t seen anything like this in other fantasy books even though people in those probably should be having depressions all the time.

As this is the second book in a series, I just want to take a moment to compare it to the first book. I very recently reread Carry On so I couldn’t help comparing the two when I read Wayward Son.

The tone of the two books are very different. Carry On is such a funny and heartwarming read. You almost can’t help but smile all the way through. Wayward Son however has some more serious themes and as I mentioned above, it will break your heart if you love these character as much as I do. This doesn’t make the second book worse than the first, but I think you’re going to be dissapointed if you go into this expecting it to be Carry On 2.0.

I will say though that I did enjoy Carry On just a little bit more. Wayward suffered a little from “middle-book syndrome”, which I think is going to be more obvious when the third book is released. I still loved this book though because these characters are so well done that they will shine through even the worst developed plot points.

I will receommed this to anyone who has read Carry On of course and loved it. Even if you have some doubts about this continuation of a standalone. It’s definitely still worth your time.

That was my review of Wayward Son by Rainbow Rowell, which I hope you enjoyed. Let me know if I’ve convinced you to read it. Maybe you’ve already read it? Let me know what you thought of it compared to Carry On. Hoping you are having a wonderful day otherwise.

Posted in Book Review

Book Review: Timekeeper by Tara Sim

“Two o’clock was missing.”

First line in Timekeeper by Tara Sim

Author: Tara Sim

Genre: Fantasy/Steampunk

My rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Series: Book 1 in Timekeeper (trilogy)

Synopsis:

I was in an accident. I got out. I’m safe now.

An alternate Victorian world controlled by clock towers, where a damaged clock can fracture time—and a destroyed one can stop it completely.

A prodigy mechanic who can repair not only clockwork but time itself, determined to rescue his father from a Stopped town.

A series of mysterious bombings that could jeopardize all of England.

A boy who would give anything to relive his past, and one who would give anything to live at all.

A romance that will shake the very foundations of time.

Goodreads

Blurb from Victoria Schwab: “An extraordinary debut, at once familiar and utterly original.”

Timekeeper is Tara Sim’s debut novel and with a starting point that is this good, I’m definitely reading more of her books. I didn’t have high expectations of this book going into it, but it caught my attention for its LGBTQ+ themes and because it’s set in Victorian London (although in an alternate reality). There was never really any doubt of me reading it because of those things, but the book ended up giving me so much more.

As always, I’ll give some headlines about what I liked and didn’t like about the book and then talk about it in a more general sense in the end. Even though I gave the book 5 stars, there are still a few things that could have been better but they didn’t do much to hinder my overall enjoyment of the book (but they might be the reason you don’t want to pick it up). I’ll start by getting those out of the way.

  • Inconceivable and vague magic system

The magic system concerns time and that is always a tricky one. It’s very rarely done perfectly and maybe that is why Sim didn’t give us too many details. At least not in the beginning. I had so many practical questions about time in this world and most of those weren’t answered until the last third of the book. The information wasn’t even withheld because plot points made it necessary, so it felt a little frustrating to be kept in the dark. 

It didn’t bother me too much in the end because it sort of felt like magical realism. It’s something that’s there that you’re not supposed to understand completely but it still functions as a backdrop for the characters to maneuver in. The first half of the book is heavily focused on Danny’s relationship with Colton and the magic is not that important yet.

  • Slow start

It takes a while for the plot to really unfold and instead we spend the time learning about the characters and their relation to each other. It felt a bit dull when I was reading it, but I also realized that it was necessary when I got further along in the book. If you’re a character-driven reader, I doubt that you’ll mind this slow start.

  • Themes

Timekeeper is a fantasy book that deals with some very relevant and modern topics, and that is my favorite part of this book. We of course have the LGBTQ+ representation. It’s handled very well and the characters actually talk about it a lot, which I find is kind of rare for a fantasy story. Another theme is mental health and specifically anxiety (not a spoiler, it’s in the first chapter). I have a soft spot for anxiety representation in fantasy and this is no exception. Minor themes include grief, identity and family issues.

  • Writing style

I found Sim’s writing really pleasant to read. She’s very good at depicting emotions and creating an atmosphere that makes you feel like you’re there in London with the characters. It’s done very elegantly and without the use of too many words. I didn’t feel flooded by flowery descriptions which left more room for some beautiful dialogue.

  • The main character

I loved Danny as a main character! He is very flawed in this first book in a trilogy, which I like because that means character development. I really appreciated how he actually acted like a 17-year-old (often that meant that he was a bit of an idiot but a lovable idiot). Not all YA authors are able to write realistic teens but Sim honestly nailed it. I’m so intrigued to see how she develops his character over the next two books.  

Timekeeper is such a recommend-worthy YA novel for those of you who feel that YA fantasy is all the same nowadays. And I will highlight that this IS YA. Not a New Adult book trying to act like YA, which I really appreciated. The writing is simplistic enough and as I mentioned earlier, it felt like I was reading from a teen’s perspective.

I also briefly want to touch upon that fact that this story is set in an alternate Victorian London. ‘Alternate’ is the key word here. If you’re picking this up to experience the vibe and atmosphere of the Victorian Era, you might be disappointed. At one point, I actually thought that the world was more like our 2019-world just without the technological advances. Culturally and linguistically it felt very modern because Sim kind of just created the world she wanted for this story. It works very well in my opinion but you will feel cheated if you go into this thinking that it’s historical fiction.

Finally, I want to summarize this review by saying that I’m so glad I read this book. And I was so surprised by that fact. Even halfway through the book, I didn’t think very highly of it. I was going to give it a solid 3 stars and stow it away in that giant box of ‘okay, but forgettable’ reads. The last fourth I think changed everything and I couldn’t stop reading it. It gave so much more meaning to what I’d read so far and also promised a lot of excitement for the next books. I can’t wait to continue.