Review: The Demon King by Cinda Williams Chima

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The Demon King by Cinda Williams Chima

Pages: 506
Published: October 6th 2009
Publisher: Hyperion

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.

I’ve sat here for a solid 5 minutes trying to figure out what to say.  Ummm.  Okay.

Look, I would like to say that I have read a pretty steady amount of YA fantasy books, so I’m no stranger to world building – or even the necessity of it.  But Chima has some serious, serious need to either cut down FLUFF or separate the extreme world building from the actual plot.  To me, this book should have been a pre-series novella, you know what I mean?  Something akin to The Assassin’s Blade by Sarah J. Maas, Queen Song by Victoria Aveyard, or even The Prince by Kiera Cass.  The entire book was just CONSTANT (boring!) world building.  And that wouldn’t have been too bad, except the book was 506 pages.

Let me repeat,

506 PAGES!!!!!!

Five. hundred. and. six. pages.

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Like legit the extreme world building / information excess lack of anything happening made me want to give up at exactly 102 pages in.  It’s just so boring.  Oh my god.  NOTHING FREAKING HAPPENS.  I read the entire book only to finally find out why I should care about the 1000 year old demon king legend in the last 30 pages. Plot twist: you can already guess the entire book by the second chapter. AKA page 20 of 506 pages.  It just completely blows my mind that this book is this long with 0 necessity.

The first chapter is completely overwhelming.  Chima just name-drops and place-drops every single god damn mythical noun she came up with and gives us 0 explanation.  Instead she chooses to explain them all throughout the entire novel, which was really frustrating.  I would have really preferred a character list (with relationships to one another) and a glossary, as we have seen in Morgan Rhodes’ Falling Kingdoms series.

Another thing that really irks me is this part of the synopsis:  “The Seven Realms tremble when the lives of Hans and Raisa collide, fanning the flames of the smoldering war between clans and wizards.”  

Hans and Raisa don’t even meet until 50% of the book is over (seriously!!) and they only interact with one another for 3-4 chapters then go their separate ways.  Like legit what is this “fanning the flames”?? NO FANNING OF THE FLAMES EVER HAPPENED. Those chapters with them interacting actually transformed these ONE DIMENSIONAL characters into something remotely interesting.  And although their chapters were the most interesting, they were also really off, because their personalities / characters are completely different when they meet.  It’s so strange and pretty disappointing.  If Chima had spent more time with these two together, this book would have been a winner.

I’m also 100% convinced that Chima took inspiration from Pocahontas because Grandmother Willow was totally in this book.

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“Good afternoon, Elena Cennestre. Welcome,” Raisa said, using the clan word for Mother.  She opened her eyes. “How did you find me?”

“This is a very old place, lytling,” Elena said, her caramel face crinkling into a smile that framed the green eyes of the seer. “It is one of the few places in the Vale with power.  You will have need of it.”

Raise considered this. At Demonai she’d learned not to ask every question that came to mind, knowing some things would be understood in their own time.

“I’m worried, Grandmother,” Raisa said. “The way ahead seems clear enough, but I’m not sure it’s the right way.”

“In the Spirits, we find our way by sun and stars and other landmarks,” Elena said.  “They tell us if we are on the right road, and keep us out of trouble.” (p. 172)

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I hope you see it because damn I read it and this was all I envisioned.

Character POVs change inside chapters with no warning.  A lot of the time you’re reading someone’s perspective for pages, and then suddenly you would be reading it in another POV in the next paragraph.  Yancey did something like this in The 5th Wave but he did it at the start of every chapter.  I actually think I preferred Chima doing it compared to him because her writing makes it flow easier.  It doesn’t trip you much as much as it did in Yanceys book.

I honestly don’t really know what else to say, I feel like I was completely robbed by reading this book.  I saw some other reviews say that this is just building up to an actual plot in the second book.  But honestly?  I don’t think it should work like that.  Like this wasn’t a skimpy little book, it’s a HUGE book where NOTHING happens, and it’s just a build up for the next book??? NO!  It just makes me cringe because you can clearly see how much work Chima put into the story, but damn it just didn’t work.

i don’t want you to think that I abhorred this book, because I didn’t, I just didn’t appreciate the length of it.  I did like how much thought she put into the story, I also liked the inventive ways she ties certain characters together.  I don’t know if I’ll read the next book, if I do it’s going to be a tester read (~100 pages) because I can’t deal with this again.

My rating: a very weak 3/5 stars.

Review: Unravel Me by Tahereh Mafi

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Unravel Me by Tahereh Mafi

Pages: 461
Published:
February 5th 2013
Publisher:
Harper Collins

Synopsis:

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Juliette has escaped to Omega Point. It is a place for people like her—people with gifts—and it is also the headquarters of the rebel resistance.

She’s finally free from The Reestablishment, free from their plan to use her as a weapon, and free to love Adam. But Juliette will never be free from her lethal touch.

Or from Warner, who wants Juliette more than she ever thought possible.

In this exhilarating sequel to Shatter Me, Juliette has to make life-changing decisions between what she wants and what she thinks is right. Decisions that might involve choosing between her heart—and Adam’s life.

Once again, lets give a round of applause for another stunning cover.  This is likely my all time favorite book cover.  It’s just so beautiful.

Our story begins a little bit after the point where we left off in Shatter Me, but now in a place where we would have expected.  Juliette is struggling to fit into Omega Point.  Being newly ostracized by her “equals” and barely seeing Adam, she slowly begins to regress to her previous self.  A big part of the beginning of this book is seeing Juliette struggling to make connections she so dearly needs to make.

Adam is in a constant struggle for most of this book.  He has an ability which enables him to deflect peoples powers – but with a twist.  The more he becomes comfortable with someone, the weaker his power becomes.  This discovery presents a huge issue with Juliette, and something bad does happen to Adam because of this.  The result?  Juliette breaks up with him to save him, and they’re both completely shattered.  But that’s the only similarity you see between them – Juliette uses this heartbreak to become stronger, whereas Adam has very little – if any – character development.

Kenji plays a big role in this book.  The platonic relationship between Kenji & Juliette is completely refreshing and shocks her into growing up.  He destroys her MANY times in this book with logic and a “get over it” speech.  Some of his lectures were incredibly harsh but they provided a solid kick in the ass for Juliette.  She ends up maturing a lot, sulks much less, and starts to become an active member of the underground rebel community.  So not only did Kenji serve a big role in getting Juliette out of her ass, he did it while providing some much needed comic relief.

The romance is heartbreak-y and twisty with a side of love triangle.  Yep, our favorite villain, Warner  Aaron, is back with a vengeance.  And I have to admit his perspective and thoughts of Juliette are super insta-lovey.  He is madly in love with her and it kind of blows my mind.  I’m trying not to ship it… but I slowly am… and I just don’t understand how it got to this point.  Oh wait…. now I remember….

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It’s like Adam was a thing in Shatter Me and now he’s not, and all his lines are now shifted to Aaron and it’s so conflicting.  You really want to hate Aaron but you kind of can’t and it sucks but it’s perfect #aaaaaaaahhh.  We also get to learn what Aaron’s ability is and it gives you so many happy feels because you ultimately want Juliette to be happy.  I just don’t like feeling like Mafi bribed us into being “okay” with this pairing by using pages upon pages of love scenes between them.

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I’m not really sure if I like this book more than the first.  I think the writing took a little bit  of a hit.  One of the major things I loved about Shatter Me was how poetical it was.  There still was a tinge of that in this book but it wasn’t done as well and it’s noticeable.  I am really excited to see how book 3 pans out.  Also #teamjaaron.

Review: Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge

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Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge

Pages: 346
Published: January 28th 2014
Publisher: Balzer + Bray

Synopsis:

Based on the classic fairy tale Beauty and the Beast, Cruel Beauty is a dazzling love story about our deepest desires and their power to change our destiny.

Since birth, Nyx has been betrothed to the evil ruler of her kingdom-all because of a foolish bargain struck by her father. And since birth, she has been in training to kill him.

With no choice but to fulfill her duty, Nyx resents her family for never trying to save her and hates herself for wanting to escape her fate. Still, on her seventeenth birthday, Nyx abandons everything she’s ever known to marry the all-powerful, immortal Ignifex. Her plan? Seduce him, destroy his enchanted castle, and break the nine-hundred-year-old curse he put on her people.

But Ignifex is not at all what Nyx expected. The strangely charming lord beguiles her, and his castle—a shifting maze of magical rooms—enthralls her.

As Nyx searches for a way to free her homeland by uncovering Ignifex’s secrets, she finds herself unwillingly drawn to him. Even if she could bring herself to love her sworn enemy, how can she refuse her duty to kill him? With time running out, Nyx must decide what is more important: the future of her kingdom, or the man she was never supposed to love.

This was… interesting.  After trying to find books similar to A Court of Thorns and Roses by SJM, I saw multiple recommendations saying read Cruel Beauty, so I did.  I’m not really sure if I liked it, it was definitely weird.

Cruel Beauty begins with a female MC named Nyx Triskelion (weird name) who is betrothed to this demon overlord.  She’s pretty bitter, honestly, and I’m not really sure if I ever grew to like her until the end.  We are constantly told how smart and clever she is, but she’s actually pretty dense.  She dawdles around aimlessly throughout 98% of the book and instead of being a story about saving the people and her family, it’s more about her love interests and learning to accept her life for what it is.

This book has a typical YA-trilogy love triangle shoved into ONE book and it’s a disaster.  The book centers Nyx and two male leads: Ignifex (weirder name) the demon ruler, and Shade the “shadow-demon” who becomes corporeal at night.  These two males look exactly alike, the only difference is that Ignifex has bright red eyes and Shade has bright blue eyes.  She only sees Shade at night, never Ignifex, and somehow this is a huge mystery to her for a major part of the book.  She is constantly going in circles on who she has more feelings for and it becomes so tiresome to read.

Nyx has constant internal debates with herself on what she wants to do versus what she should do. There was a lot of weirdness going on in the castle and for the most part, we would only get to see that via her nightly adventures – when Ignifex isn’t around.  So although the synopsis hints at this forbidden love between them, we don’t really see any obvious development in that area.  To me, the romance seemed more like a case study on how Stockholm Syndrome occurs.  The only real time we see a true sacrifice and display of love is by the end of the book.  Her falling in lust with a shadow-demon-cursedsoul-whoknows was just weird and I think this story would have been a lot better without Shade in it.

In general, this book was just weird.  Have a said weird enough times yet? Probably.  I can’t put my finger on it, but it reminds me so much of something I’ve seen on TV or in a movie.  I want to say it was Pan’s Labyrinth, but I don’t think it was.  It just had a really strange vibe, the characters had weird names, and there was this super strange Inception/Groundhog Day thing going on by the end.  You can see that Hodge really twisted the Beauty and the Beast theme but I don’t think it’s something I’d want to read again.

I really want to hear other peoples thoughts on this book, so if you read it tell me what you thought.

3.5/5 stars.

 

 

Review: The Unearthly Series by Laura Thalassa

The Unearthly Series by Laura Thalassa

Consisting of:
The Unearthly (book one)
The Coveted (book two)
The Cursed (book three)
The Forsaken (book four)
The Damned (book five)

Publisher: Lavabrook Publishing Group
Publishing Years: 2012-2015

Synopsis of The Unearthly (#1):

The first time I was declared dead, I lost my past. The second time, I lost my humanity. Now I’m being hunted, and if I die again, my soul is up for forfeit.

After enrolling in Peel Academy, an elite supernatural boarding school on the British Isles, the last of the sirens, Gabrielle Fiori, only wants to fit in. Instead, the elixir meant to awaken her supernatural abilities kills her.

When Gabrielle wakes up in the morgue twelve hours later, something wicked is awakened in her, something even the supernatural community has never seen before. Now the only person who can help her is Andre de Leon, the community’s infamous bad boy and the king of vampires.

Yet even his help can’t prevent the repeated attempts on Gabrielle’s life. Someone is after her, and they will stop at nothing to end her short existence. Only Gabrielle cannot let that happen now that her soul hangs in the balance, because she may have met the devil. And he wants   mher. Bad.

My love for Laura Thalassa is strong and unyielding.  After reading (and loving!) her The Queen of All That Dies series I just had to take the plunge into her other books.  And honestly guys? I am so freaking glad I did!

Lets be honest, the synopsis is kind of eye-rolling.  It just sounds like every one of those other really tacky paranormal-boarding school kind of books.  And to be frank, it kind of is in the first book.  It’s a trope village.  BUT!  I swear to you it gets SO. FREAKING. GOOD.  By The Damned (Unearthly #5) it was explosive, stunning, dark, twisted, and epic.

The series is essentially about a girl, Gabrielle Fiori, who gets into this prestigious supernatural school and finds out she’s this weird being (siren / vampire) that’s never been seen before in the supernatural realm.  Throughout each book she’s fighting to understand her role in the supernatural world, her ties to her soulmate, and the devil.

The devil wants Gabrielle for himself. Such an interesting twist.  The devil has followed Gabrielle around since before she was born.  You see, Gabrielle was promised to the devil by the Fates (at least that’s my understanding).  Gabrielle was made for the devil.  However, somewhere along the way she was also promised to another – Andre de Leon.  This series illustrates the battle of wills, power struggles, deception, and love.

The love was hard to warm up to at first, but its bordering epic by the end.  It was honestly pretty insta-lovey in the first book.  Although A LOT of things happen between Gabrielle and Andre, you do witness her being her own person.  One thing I love is that Thalassa makes her female MC’s independent and strong-willed, and it’s AWESOME. I like that they aren’t some swoony little shits, and Gabrielle isn’t any different.

He took my hands in his. “Now, this is what’s going to happen: You are going to stop running from me and stop protecting me.  You’re going to yell at me when I infuriate you and I’m going to rage.  And then we’re going to make up and continue on because that’s what soulmates do.  We’re going to fight this out together. And so long as you love me, you are going to greedily – selfishly – accept my love.  Even if that means putting me in the devil’s line of fire.”

Character development is only really seen in Gabrielle.  This is something I’m (slightly) okay with because it works by the end.  What you have to remember is that Andre is old as f* (700 years old+), he’s done his growing up so we shouldn’t really see that much in the books.  On the other hand, Gabrielle is ~16 in the beginning and she grows up A LOT throughout the series.  Honestly?  Gabrielle deals with SO MUCH SHIT.  Like I would to think that I’ve read a fair amount of YA books and Gabrielle is constantly dealing with an outrageous amount of shit.  She literally is kidnapped, abused, murdered, reincarnated, shamed, beaten, stabbed, shot (like 2183964936 times), dragged to hell, dragged back to hell, dragged to earth, revived, the list goes ON AND ON.  Gabrielle literally has the hardest life out of most MC’s I’ve ever seen.

I will never give up on you, my sun,” he whispered to her in Romanian. “I will pull you from the dark, just as you have me”.

Thus, the finale.  The Damned has to be one of the best written books I’ve ever read.  The finale of this series is one of the most epic series-enders I’ve EVER read.  It was a rollercoaster of every feel in the world.  I LOVED how Thalassa played out Gabrielle’s fate.  I love how she played out everything.  It was so well done!  The last book is incredibly dark and twisty and it’s fucking fantastic guys.

You see incredible development in Thalassa’s writing throughout the series.  Compared to the first book, the last one completely blows it out of the water.  It’s absolutely perfect.  I’m such a fan, guys.  You have to keep on the series to see what I’m saying.  It’s a fun read at the beginning, don’t take it seriously until later on and you will see why I love it.

I’m so perfectly in love with Andre and Gabrielle by the end, guys.  The love between them is so god damn real the trials they face never diminish it.  Real OTP right here.  The quotes I’ve brought in do no justice until you see the context in which they were said because I’m swoooooooooning forever.

Before she could respond, he kissed her.  She latched onto him, falling into the kiss like it was the only thing tethering her to the earth.  He clutched her close, breaking off the kiss to whisper. “I will always come for you.  I will always follow you, and I will always, always try to save you”.