Monday, January 30, 2012

"A person who thought he knew everything simply didn’t understand how much there was to know."

I'm catching up! It's about time...

In case you missed it, My Pre-Reading.

I was really not looking forward to this book, except for the fact that it was the last in this series. I hated Lina and Doon going into it, and although I didn't hate them as much by the end, I still wasn't a huge fan of them. If I had been from Ember or from Sparks, they would just piss me off every time they left to go on some ridiculous adventure. Like good grief, if you think Ember still has supplies, tell the adults and let them get it together to go. Then maybe Doon wouldn't bust his ankle up. You could still search for your little diamond without telling everyone. 

Also, although the family living underground I guess added the whole conflict in this novel, it just seemed really pushed. Like HEY HERE'S THIS FAMILY HERE. Oh, I didn't need any help to escape, they're pretty stupid. If you had taken some adults with you, THEY WOULDN'T HAVE BEEN A PROBLEM. Or at least they wouldn't have been as big of a problem. And poor Scwago, they treated him so badly I couldn't believe Sparks even let them stay. Did I mention I hate the people of Sparks too? They're so annoying and two faced. "We don't want to help the Emberites, but we'll let this family who beat up Doon and treated Scwago like dirt join us!" Awesome.

Don't get me wrong, I didn't hate this book as much as The People of Sparks. It wasn't as good as The Prophet of Yonwood, but The Diamond of Darkhold did have its moments. And it finally tied everything together. Although it was a little farfetched. ALIENS did it! They came to inspect our planet because we contacted them hundreds of years ago, but then everything was destroyed because we have to fight each other! But now they can go home and report that Earth is recovering!

Ridiculous. And unnecessary.

And the characters didn't grow up at all. They were still the same annoying children who left Ember. You'd think over 4 books, they would have grown up and matured and learned a couple of lessons... but no. Which is kind of disappointing.

I would give this book a 3/5, I think, for having its moments. Also for tying the series together. But not any higher because of the lack of character and plot depth, and for being way under my reading level. But now I'm finally done with The Books of Ember! I feel a little better about myself.


Friday, January 27, 2012

Ashley's January Book: Cinder

Title: Cinder
Author: Marissa Meyer
Year Published: 2012

Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl.... 

Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future. 

In this thrilling debut young adult novel, the first of a quartet, Marissa Meyer introduces readers to an unforgettable heroine and a masterfully crafted new world that’s enthralling.

I love me a fairy-tale retelling, and I especially love how people can adapt Cinderella. Plus, a cyborg heroine, an intergalactic conflict, and a dystopian setting? Sign me up! Amazon has been recommending this book for about a month, even though it was just published on like January 3rd, and I've been eagerly awaiting its release.

I have so many expectations for this book. I expect a good, different retelling of the Cinderella tale. This is Meyer's debut novel, but the fact that she already has 3 lined up for publishing makes me think this will be a fantastic opening to a great series.

Judging a book by its cover:
The cover has what looks like a human leg with machine parts instead of bones, so I assume this is Cinder's leg and that the shoe will be important in this retelling just as it is in the original.


Paul's December Book: The Future of Us

Title: The Future of Us
Author: Jay Asher & Carolyn Mackler
Year Published: 2011

It's 1996, and Josh and Emma have been neighbors their whole lives. They've been best friends almost as long - at least, up until last November, when Josh did something that changed everything. Things have been weird between them ever since, but when Josh's family gets a free AOL CD in the mail,his mom makes him bring it over so that Emma can install it on her new computer. When they sign on, they're automatically logged onto their Facebook pages. But Facebook hasn't been invented yet. And they're looking at themselves fifteen years in the future. 

By refreshing their pages, they learn that making different decisions now will affect the outcome of their lives later. And as they grapple with the ups and downs of what their futures hold, they're forced to confront what they're doing right - and wrong - in the present.

Cory and I bought this for Paul for his birthday because it sounded interesting and we had talked about it several times. And so now I get to read it too. Also, it might be cool to see how teens in 1996 would react to something like Facebook.

I expect this to be a very entertaining book. Especially because I'm sure they'll deal with how one small decision will affect the future. I'm pretty excited to read this. Even though I've never read anything by either author, I'm expecting quite a bit from them.

Judging a book by its cover:
From the cover, it seems like the book will focus on two teenagers - a boy and a girl. Also, they look digitized, so computers will probably be important. 


The Diamond of Darkhold

Title: The Diamond of Darkhold
Author: Jeanne DuPrau
Year Published: 2008

It’s been several months since Lina and Doon escaped the dying city of Ember and, along with the rest of their people, joined the town of Sparks. Now, struggling through the harsh winter aboveground, they find an unusual book. Torn up and missing most of its pages, it alludes to a mysterious device from before the Disaster, which they believe is still in Ember. Together, Lina and Doon must go back underground to retrieve what was lost and bring light to a dark world. In the fourth Book of Ember, bestselling author Jeanne DuPrau juxtaposes yet another action-packed adventure with powerful themes about hope, learning, and the search for truth.

I read the rest of the series, I might as well read the last book.

After The Prophet of Yonwood, my expectations are a little higher for this book than they otherwise would have been. Except Lina and Doon are in it, so I'm sure they'll ruin it somehow.

Judging a book by its cover:
It looks like the book will deal with a big blue diamond. And it's sparkly, so maybe it has to do with the sun too. Oh and desert everywhere. 


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Last Tragedy

I couldn't find a clever quote from this book anywhere since it isn't very all... and I didn't feel like going through it in my Kindle App just to find one. Sorry if you're disappointed. You can go find me a quote if you want and I'll rename the post.


Since this was a free Kindle book, I really wasn't expecting much of anything. Just a mediocre fantasy book that would help me pass the time whenever I didn't have a physical book handy.

I was definitely surprised by how much I enjoyed this novel though. I found myself choosing to read this one over a physical book, which is not something I normally do. The plot was interesting, the villain was absolutely terrifying, and the hero/heroine were very likable and relateable. Mallette did an excellent job of painting his fantasy world so that the reader was transported to it, and did so in a way that wasn't too Lord of the Rings (e.g. endless pages describing how flat and boring the terrain is, with a couple of trees and mountains thrown in for good measure).

When Jake and Noxie finally find the "Last Tragedy" of Coeldoetta, what it asks them to do is pretty predictable, but heartbreaking nonetheless. Until [the one guy whose name I cannot remember for the life of me, even though he's a pretty important character] realizes he can save the day, preventing Jake and Noxie from losing the thing they love most. Hooray!

The way Mallette introduces the differing plot lines and then weaves them together is genius - at first, it seems like there are 4 different things going on. And then, all of a sudden, everybody meets and their separate quests become one. I mean, I know other authors have done that too, and probably done it better, but the way Mallette did it just stood out for me. Especially for this being his first published novel.

While not on the scale of other more popular high fantasty novels, I think The Last Tragedy and its sequels/companion novels have a shot at becoming very popular, and Mallette has a pretty good chance at becoming very successful. After he gets them on Kindle, I think hard copies would make his books take off. I would give this book a surprising 4/5, and would definitely recommend it to readers of high fantasy. Or even to people who are interested in fantasy but not necessarily in books like the Song of Fire and Ice series or Lord of the Rings. Go read it! It's only $0.99 on Amazon. It's worth it, I promise.


“... WICKED is good."

My Pre-Reading

I read this book so long ago, I'm not really sure what to write about it. So probably not very many spoilers, although I'm sure I'll ruin some part of the book for anyone who hasn't read it yet.

I thought that The Death Cure was a very nice conclusion to the trilogy. The ending was a little far-fetched (hey, here's some land that we cut off from ALL CIVILIZATION where you can live free of Cranks and the Flare because nobody knows it exists!), but it seemed almost plausible that there was an emergency back-up plan in case WICKED's plot to fix overpopulation backfired and killed everyone.

I was a little sad about Teresa dying, but she's kind of been on the fence for me since the second novel. I mean, I know she was being controlled by WICKED and all, but come on. Tom is your best friend. Give the kid a break. Speaking of which, he can never catch one. Oh hey, you're immune! But your best friend Newt isn't. So he's going to die. And you're going to be the one to kill him. Hey, you can get your memories back! But wait no, nevermind, that means WICKED just gets to play in your head some more, and you will remember every bad thing that you helped WICKED do. Oh, and by the way, you can't have both Brenda and Teresa, because right as you're about to think about making up with Teresa, she's going to die!

Poor kid, I don't even remember every other awful thing that happened to him because of WICKED.

Although all of the characters were pretty well developed from the first two novels, I think Minho and Tom have continued to grow. And characters like Brenda and Jorge who were introduced in The Scorch Trials were also given more depth and had more of an active role. Who would have guessed that they were agents of WICKED? Well, probably everyone but me, but that's besides the point. Everything is WICKED's fault and doing. They're worse than Big Brother.

Overall, I would definitely give this book a 4/5. I would, and have, recommend this series to any fans of dystopian YA novels, and I'm actually looking forward to the prequel coming out within the next year or so. I'm also pretty sure these books would make an epic movie series.


"The world is full of endless strange surprises"

The Prophet of Yonwood is next on my list of books I finished and still haven't blogged about!

My Pre-Reading

I was really having a hard time getting through The People of Sparks, and I was not excited about reading the next two books. I have to say though, I was pleasantly surprised by The Prophet of Yonwood.

I think I really just hated Lina and Doon. Nickie, on the other hand, was nowhere near has annoying. Although she had her flaws, all she really wanted was to do something good and help the world. The characters weren't well developed, and the plot was only so-so, but I think that this Book of Ember was a nice read for what it was. It didn't take me 6 months to finish it either, so props to it on that.

I'm not really sure it was entirely necessary as part of the series, although it was interesting to see all of the pieces fall into place with "The Builders" and the woman who left behind the journal. I also don't really agree with the order in which they were written/published, since I think it's really weird to have two books, then a prequel, and then a sequel to the second book. Maybe that's just me though.

While I really, really hated The People of Sparks, I would definitely encourage a middle-grade reader to get through it so that they could read The Prophet of Yonwood. Or I might just tell them to skip The People of Sparks entirely and have them read this book first.

This book definitely deserves a 3/5, since it was good for what it was but could have used some more depth and a better plot. And it's also a little young for people in their early-mid twenties to be reading. Give this to your elementary/middle school kids, and they'll love it.


Monday, January 23, 2012

"The memories I value most, I don’t ever see them fading."

I really, really need to stop reading books without blogging about them. I'm already finished with another two that I haven't even thought about blogging about yet. I apologize for that.

In the meantime, I'm still playing catch-up. I'm in between classes, so you'll probably only get this one for now.

My Pre-Reading

SPOILERS ahead! Sorry about that.

I'm usually not a huge fan of "adult" fiction. It moves too slowly for me, and I'm not interested in the characters as much as I am in those found in YA novels. This book though, was phenomenal. A little slow at parts, yes, but still so full of everything a book should have. The main character, Kathy, begins by retelling her experiences as a child growing up at Hailsham. At first, you're not really sure what she's talking about when she mentions carers and donors, but it becomes shockingly clear pretty early on. Ishiguro does a pretty fantastic job of slapping you right between the eyes with the cold, hard truth - in this alternate Britain, clones are created and raised in order to donate their vital organs to help the rest of the population.

Seriously, WTF. The only purpose in these childrens' lives is the grow up nice and healthy so their organs can be harvested. Oh, and by the way, you might not make it through all of the donations. And sometimes you live longer than you're supposed to - past the fourth donation - in a sort of Limbo. But they won't just kill you, because they can still harvest some more organs from you. And to top it all off, none of the "real" people want to have anything to do with you, because if they send you off to the countryside and don't let you integrate with them, they don't have to think of you as people. They don't even have to pretend you have souls or anything. You're basically just an organ farm.

Although I wasn't a huge fan of Ruth, and I'm not sure why Kathy and Tommy put up with her for so long, I do appreciate that she was pretty much the antithesis to everything they thought, wanted, did, etc.All three of the major characters were so well developed (especially Kathy, since the entire book is from her perspective), and as Ruth and Tommy die, it's almost like losing a friend. Even though Kathy takes it in stride and doesn't really come off as too upset by it, you can tell how much it hurts her to lose her two best friends in the entire world, one of whom she was in love with.

I really don't even have words to describe how fantastic this whole book was, and what an amazing job Ishiguro did with it. Just go read it for yourself. I promise you won't be disappointed. Even if you think it's a little slow, just keep reading. It gets so much better. Life isn't always fast paced, and you can't expect the retelling of someone's life to be so. Everything is important in one way or another.

Definitely a 5/5 for this book. Now go pick up a copy and read it for yourself.


Wednesday, January 18, 2012

"It takes longer to climb than it does to fall"

I guess I should finally get around to blogging about all of these books I've read in the past couple of months. It's been a while since I read a lot of these books though, so these will probably be fairly short. Sorry about that.

I'll start with Crossed, I suppose. Since I wrote about that one first.
My Pre-Reading

I enjoyed this book, although I'm not really sure it lived up to my expectations. I liked that it was written from both Ky and Cassia's perspectives, and I liked that Ky would find something out before Cassia and then she would make some mistake or decision based on wrong information. I still feel that Cassia is only trying to be with Ky because he's an Aberration. Although I'm sure they're supposed to be "really in love," I don't really think that Condie did a great job showing that. To me, their love is shallow and has no real reason. Except that it's difficult.

I feel like Cassia and Xander should be together, and it kills me how much Cassia hurts him every single time he tries to help her. Oh, and the fact that he's a part of the Resistance that Ky doesn't want to join and nobody tells Cassia because Ky is afraid he'll lose her to him. If she really loved Ky, that wouldn't make that much of a difference. I'm hoping that Xander and Cassia end up together at the end of the third book, but I really don't see that happening. Not with two books about Cassia and Ky. Unless, of course, Ky dies. I'm not saying that I want that to happen, but I can't think of any other way Cassia would choose Xander over Ky.

Back to Crossed though, I feel like this novel was a bit of a let down over all of the hype about how it was supposed to be SO EPIC and how Matched was only a set-up for HOW EPIC Crossed would be. I feel like Crossed is just another set-up, and I'm hoping the trilogy ends with a crazy epic finale. Not just running across the wilderness or whining about how you accidentally (or maybe purposely) got matched twice and don't know what to do.

I also felt like a lot of the characters were underdeveloped. Indie had so much potential, but didn't really turn into much. Ky was fairly stagnant, except we learned a little bit about his past. And Cassia was just all over the place. The other characters were mostly forgettable, and had very little depth (if any). Maybe I need to go read Matched again, but I don't feel like this book was anywhere near as good.

I'm not saying I hated the book - I definitely enjoyed it for the most part and am excited for the final part of the trilogy. It just wasn't up to par with a lot of the other books I've been reading lately, and I was definitely a little disappointed. I would give it a 3/5 though, and would probably still recommend the series to most people.