Review: The Song Rising

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Goodreads Synopsis:

The hotly anticipated third book in the bestselling Bone Season series – a ground-breaking, dystopian fantasy of extraordinary imagination

Following a bloody battle against foes on every side, Paige Mahoney has risen to the dangerous position of Underqueen, ruling over London’s criminal population.

But, having turned her back on Jaxon Hall and with vengeful enemies still at large, the task of stabilising the fractured underworld has never seemed so challenging.

Little does Paige know that her reign may be cut short by the introduction of Senshield, a deadly technology that spells doom for the clairvoyant community and the world as they know it…

I re-read the sequel to refresh my memory (and just because I love this series) before going into this third installment, especially after the delayed release. On top of the later release date the publishers ‘revamped’ the covers. I personally am not a fan of the new look, but fortunately all of the remaining books in the series will have a special collectors edition in the old style. I’m very pleased my bookshelf will remain in sync.

Shannon is improving with every novel. The slowness in the first two was obliterated in this installment. There is non stop action, movement, and progress. We are moving more into the meat of the rebellion and starting to see action against Scion. I liked how we also got to see more of the Scion capitals around Britain and the politics going on with their unnaturals.

Paige is under a lot of stress in this installment, and her anxiety with the Mine Order and Jaxon are exacerbating all the insecurities she has about everything else. It’s sad to see her question her trust in Warden, especially after all the progress they made in the second book. She also is struggling with her trust in herself, and in her determination to make progress for the fight against Scion she begins to make some questionable choices and fears she will turn into the people she hates and fears the most.
We get a handful of new characters who were introduced in the second book, but become major players in this chapter. Maria, Glym, Tom, and Eliza all play such a bigger role in this book and I really enjoyed getting to know them each better and watching Paige use them as allies and friends. We are also introduced to a new Rephaite, Lucida, who is perhaps the funniest of the group we have seen so far. I loved all of her cameos and hope to see more of her in the future.
Paige and Warden go through a lot in this installment. They are trying to maintain a tentative alliance while orchestrating a rebellion and struggling with their feelings for each other. It’s a lot, but even when they are struggling with growing their relationship and the needs of their revolution they always rely on each other for practical and emotional support. I look forward to the next book as they finally get some time together and are no longer the linchpins of the revolution in London. I am also very intrigued to see how the rest of Europe is faring.
This was such a solid installation in the series. We see so much more of the world, and it’s only going to grow. Our characters are growing  more as well, Paige is coming to terms with her role as a leader and becoming her own woman – finally out from under the two main structures that controlled her. Warden, while I can’t really say is growing, is continuing to reveal pieces of himself and we are getting to know him better. Nick is always such an anchor for Paige and he continues his role, on top of moving into more of a leadership role himself. I can’t wait to see how the next book moves all of them forwarded.

Review: The Dark Days Pact

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Summer, 1812.
After the scandalous events at her presentation ball in London, Lady Helen has taken refuge at the fashionable seaside resort of Brighton, banished from her family and training as a Reclaimer with the covert Dark Days Club. She must learn to fight the dangerous energy-wielding Deceivers and prepare to face their master, the elusive Grand Deceiver.

As she struggles to put aside her genteel upbringing, Helen realizes that her mentor, Lord Carlston, is fighting his own inner battle. Has the foul Deceiver energy poisoned his soul, or is something else driving him towards violent bouts of madness? Either way, Helen is desperate to help the man with whom she shares a deep but forbidden connection.

When Mr. Pike, the hard bureaucratic heart of the Dark Days Club, arrives in Brighton, he has a secret mission for Helen: find the journal left by a mad rogue Reclaimer, before it falls into the hands of the Deceivers. Coerced by Pike, Helen has no choice but to do as ordered, knowing that the search for the journal may bring about Lord Carlston’s annihilation.

This second installment delves so much deeper into the Club, and for a society bent on saving humanity, it is just as corrupt as any other organization where people are the drivers. It makes the internal conflicts of the club difficult to watch as it pulls Helen in different directions, on top of her fighting a losing battle against so many who doubt and belittle her. Seeing how she works herself into a corner as she desperately tries to protect those she cares for becomes the bulk of the novel, and gives Helen a lot of choices in who she wants to be in her life.
Carlston’s affliction is stressful to watch, especially all the subterfuge it causes and the difficult positions it puts Helen and Michael in as they deal with personal loyalties and the organization they are bound to. I did enjoy watching Carlston open up to Helen and a deeper bond form between the two. We are finally getting to know both of them and their companionship and compatibility is undeniable.
The love triangle is irritating, not in indecision, but in the unavoidable stipulations of Carlston being legally married though with a missing wife of several years. And Selburn isn’t a bad guy, though he gets very irritating in his refusal to accept Helen’s decisions and basically stalks her. I can only see the more compatible relationship working out with death and a nice guy being hurt. . . I fear we won’t have a happy ending with this series . . .

 

Review: Crossed

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Full-scale war has erupted between the Crusaders and demons and even Chi has to admit isn’t going well. Like any sensible rat, Meda’s eager to abandon the sinking ship but, unfortunately, her friends aren’t nearly as pragmatic. Instead, Meda’s forced to try to keep them all alive until the dust settles.

As the Crusaders take more and more drastic measures, the tables turn and Meda suddenly finds herself in the role of voice of sanity. No one is more horrified than she is. When old enemies reappear as new allies and old friends become new enemies Meda has to decide—again—whose side she’s really on.

And then the Crusaders decide that Meda should go to Hell. Literally.

Can’t a monster ever catch a break?

This was my favorite of the series, it was a very strong ending and didn’t feel as repetitive as the second one did.

What I liked the most about this one is that we can really see just how much Meda has grown, but her selfish demon side is definitely still there, only with a bit more humanity. We finally get some answers about her mom and dad, which was really interesting, especially with the overall theme of redemption. Playing into that theme I liked the relationship between Armand and Meda, it was the most honest we have seen so far, and the lack of guilt between the two for how horrible they can be is still a major aspect of their relationship, and it’s so refreshing.

The biggest element of this story though is that we get a Bad Jo. It was so fun to see Meda as the ‘good’ half of their duo in this finale. And the girl power maintained in that, though Jo throws Meda under the bus a bit, and has some major dark moments, Meda never asks her to apologize. They still love each other unconditionally, and they act as each others moral centers, even more so in this last book then ever before. Their relationship is the load stone of this series, and what makes it so strong.

Overall, a great ending for a fun and fast series.

Review: Crushed

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Meda Melange has officially hung up her monstrous mantle and planted her feet firmly on the holy and righteous path of a Crusader-in-training. Or, at least, she’s willing to give it a shot. It helps that the Crusaders are the only thing standing between her and the demon hordes who want her dead.

The problem is, the only people less convinced than Meda of her new-found role as Good Girl are the very Crusaders she’s trying to join. So when a devilishly handsome half-demon boy offers escape, how’s a girl supposed to say “no?”

After all, everyone knows a good girl’s greatest weakness is a bad boy.

This second installment was a definite improvement on the first book, the humor was much more natural in this, and that made me really happy. There was also a ton of character growth with Meda. I didn’t get much of that in the first book, just a bit more humanity – albeit begrudgingly. In this we see her clearly acknowledge the darkness in her, but choose to be selfless and fight for humanity.

I really enjoyed the unconventional romance in this. There is only one tender moment, and seeing as they are both monsters, it’s not that tender. However, it’s a connection that makes sense, and it was really interesting to watch unravel as Meda fought to be a ‘good monster.’ I am interested to see if it goes further, like the ending suggested.

Overall, I appreciate that this series maintains that the relationship driving actions is that of Jo and Meda. They have such a strong friendship, and it’s messy and sometimes hurtful, but always honest and in the others best interest. Friendships like that are hard to come by, and it’s so refreshing to see it portrayed in YA.

Review: Cracked

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Goodready Synopsis:

Meet Meda. She eats people.

Well, technically, she eats their soul. But she totally promises to only go for people who deserve it. She’s special. It’s not her fault she enjoys it. She can’t help being a bad guy. Besides, what else can she do? Her mother was killed and it’s not like there are any other “soul-eaters” around to show her how to be different. That is, until the three men in suits show up.

They can do what she can do. They’re like her. Meda might finally have a chance to figure out what she is. The problem? They kind of want to kill her. Before they get the chance Meda is rescued by crusaders, members of an elite group dedicated to wiping out Meda’s kind. This is her chance! Play along with the “good guys” and she’ll finally figure out what, exactly, her ‘kind’ is.

Be careful what you wish for. Playing capture the flag with her mortal enemies, babysitting a teenage boy with a hero complex, and trying to keep one step ahead of a too-clever girl are bad enough. But the Hunger is gaining on her.

The more she learns, the worse it gets. And when Meda uncovers a shocking secret about her mother, her past, and her destiny… she may finally give into it.

This was a fun read, but I didn’t think this was as amazing as a lot of my Goodreads friends did. I think a lot of that was because I felt like the humor was trying a little too hard.

I did like the moral lines being blurred in our protagonist, and the story got a lot more interesting as we got closer to the end and made some revelations. I liked the dynamic between the three major characters, and I liked that there wasn’t a romantic element with the main character. Meda is very independent, she’s going to need a very unique male lead to entice her.

I will continue the series, just because it was fun, and hopefully the humor gets better, and the story deeper to make this more than a ‘fun read.’

 

Review: These Vicious Masks

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Goodreads Synopsis:

England, 1882. Evelyn is bored with society and its expectations. So when her beloved sister, Rose, mysteriously vanishes, she ignores her parents and travels to London to find her, accompanied by the dashing Mr. Kent. But they’re not the only ones looking for Rose. The reclusive, young gentleman Sebastian Braddock is also searching for her, claiming that both sisters have special healing powers. Evelyn is convinced that Sebastian must be mad, until she discovers that his strange tales of extraordinary people are true—and that her sister is in graver danger than she feared.

This is a light, entertaining read. . . and not much beyond that. The world building was severely lacking. If the synopsis didn’t give me a date, I wouldn’t know I was supposed to be in Victorian England. There were very vague descriptions of people, places, and apparel; and the social customs of the time were not ever much of a boundary for our protagonist’s adventures – until there were, if you get what I mean.

I also found the powers that they all had a bit unoriginal, and the comparison to X-Men that has been made is very evident. I did appreciate that the romance element wasn’t the main focus of this though. This first installment is centered more on sibling love, which I found refreshing. Though there are two beaus, Evelyn never spends too much time swooning over either, and I felt when those moments did happen there was clearly one she preferred over the other, which also helped dampen the cliche of the love triangle.

Overall, I was entertained and enjoyed the fast paced story. Can’t be certain that I will continue the series though.

Review: This Savage Song

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Goodreads Synopsis:

There’s no such thing as safe in a city at war, a city overrun with monsters. In this dark urban fantasy from acclaimed author Victoria Schwab, a young woman and a young man must choose whether to become heroes or villains—and friends or enemies—with the future of their home at stake. The first of two books, This Savage Song is a must-have for fans of Holly Black, Maggie Stiefvater, and Laini Taylor.

Kate Harker and August Flynn are the heirs to a divided city—a city where the violence has begun to breed actual monsters. All Kate wants is to be as ruthless as her father, who lets the monsters roam free and makes the humans pay for his protection. All August wants is to be human, as good-hearted as his own father, to play a bigger role in protecting the innocent—but he’s one of the monsters. One who can steal a soul with a simple strain of music. When the chance arises to keep an eye on Kate, who’s just been kicked out of her sixth boarding school and returned home, August jumps at it. But Kate discovers August’s secret, and after a failed assassination attempt the pair must flee for their lives. In This Savage Song, Victoria Schwab creates a gritty, seething metropolis, one worthy of being compared to Gotham and to the four versions of London in her critically acclaimed fantasy for adults, A Darker Shade of Magic. Her heroes will face monsters intent on destroying them from every side—including the monsters within.

The general premise of this book, with how monsters are created by the evils of humans, is just so fascinating. And obviously makes a moral appeal to its readers, which I thought was subtle, but powerful.

The dynamic between our two main characters was also amazing. As you may have heard, there is no romance in this book, but the chemistry between August and Kate is undeniable and makes their interactions very powerful. They are also the only two individuals who they can truly be themselves around, which opens up their character traits so much once they start their escape and are constantly around each other.

I will say, I felt the start of this was a little slow in spots, but I feel that is pretty standard with Schwab, and it really allowed us to get the foundation of the world, understand the different monsters, and get a feel of the political climate – which is all very rich and important. So while the action doesn’t start up till about halfway through, there is still plenty of interesting material till then.

This was a beautiful, interesting, and original story, and I cannot wait till the second installment.