chat loading...

All Book Reviews by Genre: Fantasy

Renegades
Meyer, Marissa
2 stars = Meh
Review:

Renegades by Marissa Meyer is an average, but fun book about superheroes. The plot centers around Nova who has to join a team of superheroes to spy on them while secretly being a villain. Since I’ve seen a lot of superhero movies, I thought that this book was pretty cliche. I could figure out every twist before I read about it happening. I also thought that the pacing of this book was weird. Some scenes that were unimportant to the plot seemed to drag on while other important scenes went by way too fast. This might have been intentional, but I don't see the point of it. I thought that this book was average. It was an extremely forgetful book, which was very disappointing because I love some of Marissa Meyer’s previous books. One thing I did like about this book was the depiction of anarchy which is very rare, especially in young adult books. I don't think that this would be a good book to read if you have seen a lot of superhero movies since it uses a lot of cliches from that genre. However, if you are interested in science fiction, I would recommend this book.

Reviewer's Name: Sophie L.
Scarlet
Meyer, Marissa
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Scarlet by Marissa Meyer is the thrilling sequel to Cinder. Scarlet is a continuation of Cinder’s story while retelling another fairytale, Little Red Riding Hood. Generally, I feel like the sequels are never as good as the original, but that was not the case for this book. Scarlet was definitely my favorite book in the entire series (besides Winter). I fell completely in love with the new characters (especially Scarlet). Marissa Meyer has a talent for creating likable and relatable characters. She also has a talent for describing the setting. Cinder took place in Beijing while Scarlet took place in France. Meyer illustrated France just as vividly as she illustrated Beijing. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys science fiction or anyone who enjoyed Cinder.

Reviewer's Name: Sophie L.
The Carpet People
Pratchett, Terry
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

Having now read one of Terry Pratchett's books, I thought it might be interesting to go back and read his very first work. Many authors don't manage to become famous with their very first book, and I think Terry Pratchett is no exception here. The Carpet People is an amusing book with his standard British charm, but I think it never goes far enough in its exploration of the idea. After all, I was expecting this book to be more along the lines of The Borrowers instead of just a straight-up fantasy with a few references to the fact that these creatures lived in the carpet.

Part of the problem I seemed to have with this book was the incessant need for fantasy books to create new names for objects and creatures that already (mostly) exist. If you took away the carpet setting, I think this book could be practically indistinguishable from any other fantasy book. This is what disappointed me the most. I believe there are plenty of potential moments to highlight the size disparity between creatures that live in the carpet, and the rest of the world we're familiar with (a la Honey, I Shrunk the Kids (1989)).

Granted, I will give this book some grace considering that Terry Pratchett originally wrote it when he was a teenager. For this reason alone, I do have to say that it should be an inspiration for young writers, just to show that it can be done. Pratchett clearly improved his writing skills over time to become a bestselling author, but it's important to recognize and realize that he didn't start out that way. Ironically enough, though, I almost preferred the serialized version of this story that he originally wrote over the more "standard" version that aligns with his later styles.

An amusing book and impressive first novel for a teenage Terry Pratchett, I give The Carpet People 3.0 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: Benjamin
Genres:
Cinder
Meyer, Marissa
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Cinder by Marissa Meyer is a fast-paced and action-packed book that you can't put down. The book is a futuristic and dystopian retelling of the classic fairytale, Cinderella. This is definitely one of my favorite books. You won't find another science fiction book with as many interesting and diverse female characters. The book has a very exciting plot that kept me on the edge of my seat. In addition to that, Cinder has many amazing characters. I couldn't pick my favorite one. All of the characters are lovable and distinct. Another aspect of the book that I enjoyed was the setting. I loved Meyer’s vision of what the future would look like. She described the setting perfectly. I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in science fiction or fantasy genres.

Reviewer's Name: Sophie L.
Ganymede
Priest, Cherie
2 stars = Meh
Review:

Now that I’ve read the first three books in the Clockwork Century series, any hope I had of some cohesive narrative is essentially gone. While following a new character for each book helps to provide a different setting of the steampunk alternate universe, when I know these characters won’t matter outside their own books, I kind of stop caring about them. Even previous heroines are relegated to cameo and minor character status as the persistent series of somewhat pointless events drags on. And don’t even get me started on the zombies, which are a distraction to any actual story in my opinion.

I think the main problem I have with these books is the fact that things happen without much lead-up or foreshadowing. Sure, there are some fascinating factors involved with making a submarine work in the Civil War era, but the resulting battle and conclusion went exactly as I expected them to. This isn’t foreshadowing as much as it is conforming to clichés. There doesn’t seem to be much at stake in any of the character arcs, which is made all the more prevalent by the relatively uninteresting characters themselves. Some have distinguishable quirks, but they all feel flat in a world that could be that much more interesting.

As for the “twist” near the end involving one of the characters, I feel it was poorly executed, let alone unnecessary. Considering the medical techniques at the time, even in an alternate universe, the individual in question probably didn’t have the necessary “assets” to convincingly pull this deception off. If anything, it was only hidden via clothing, but since there were no hints or foreshadowing about this surprisingly minor character, I had no way to even know if anything was off to begin with. I can believe that some of them might exist in that timeframe, but it just felt like a cheap add-in for the sake of “inclusion.”

Another steampunk book in a series that isn’t going anywhere, I give Ganymede 2.5 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: Benjamin
Aru Shah and the End of Time
Chokshi, Roshani
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Twelve-year-old Aru Shah has a habit of lying. She exaggerates her life to her pretentious classmates in the hopes of fitting in. But, when she lights an ancient cursed lamp to impress them, she accidentally brings about the end of days and a dark creature known as the Sleeper. Together, with her new friend Mini, they have to stop the Sleeper and save humanity. "Aru Shah and the End of Time" is an exciting, funny, heartwarming book that reminded me ofsome of the earlier "Percy Jackson" books by Rick Riordan -- and I thought Mini and Aru's unlikely friendship was a charming, very compelling part ofthe story. There were some parts that were slow and seemed to meander a little, but, nevertheless, this story was a blast. From the minute the story starts, you will want to follow Aru and her friends to the very end.

Reviewer's Name: Gillian P.
Jackaby
Ritter, William
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

The year is 1892. Abigail Rook has just arrived in New Fiddleham, England, in search of work when she meets the strange young detective R. F. Jackaby. After a series of unusual murders strike the town, Abigail and Jackaby work to crack the case and catch the killer. "Jackaby" is a fun, engrossing read that I couldn't put down. Every twist and turn left me dying to know more. The plot, characters, and setting were very interesting and excellently crafted. That said, I will admit that the end was a little predictable. I figured out who was the killer about half-way in, but the details surrounding the truth were unexpected enough for me to forgive that. If you are a fan of "Sherlock" and/or "Supernatural", this book is for you.

Reviewer's Name: Gillian P.
Dread Mountain
Rodda, Emily
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

The fifth book in the Deltora Quest series, Dread Mountain, is quite the entertaining read. Like the seven others in the series, it is an adventure novel that lives up to its name. The characters fit perfectly into the story, and are well developed. You really get to know Barda, Lief, and Jasmine as they work together to defeat the evil Shadow Lord. In this case, they struggle together to push through tough news and the environment along their journey to Dread Mountain. Along this part of the quest they meet several side characters, and while the unique 'races' of the characters are extraordinary, most stay lacking in development. The only other main fault in the book is the evil boss monster Gellick, as he doesn’t seem like a real threat to the characters. The book has more of a self vs self conflict, and I wish the big 'baddies' like Gellick were featured more as a sort-of fear than some sort of pushover. Other than that, I would recommend this book to anyone willing to spend a good 45 minutes reading.

Reviewer's Name: Steven L.
Knights of the Borrowed Dark
Rudden, Dave
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Well-crafted masterpiece from beginning to end. The author described this book as a response to the "twee" children who are immediately drawn into a fantastic scenario. The main character here is a self-described skeptic and almost chooses not to follow the plot.

Lots of suspense in the middle section when the almost-Lovecraftian antagonists are sneaking around the orphanage. The author plays with the format; for dark sections, the pages are black with only the sounds visible. Recommended for anyone who is interested in writing, as you can feel all the work that went into making this book, and those who like adventure children's books (Charlie Bone, Harry Potter). Even if you think children's lit is too cute, you should still read this--it's great!

Reviewer's Name: Jennifer
Genres:
The Luster of Lost Things
Keller, Sophie Chen
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Dreamlike magical realism which combines beautiful prose and thoughtful insight into a young boy's life with a motor speech disorder and the shadows cast by the disappearance of his father. An enchanting read for fans of Alice Hoffman and Sarah Addison Allen.

Reviewer's Name: Rebecca
Genres:
Ash Princess
Sebastian, Laura
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

When Theodosia was just a child, she witnessed the murder of her mother, the Queen of Astrea, at invaders’ hands. Those invaders took her country and killed or enslaved all of her people. For the next ten years, Theo was the Kaiser’s puppet – trotted out at banquets wearing a crown made of ash or enduring cruel beatings to represent the oppression and obliteration of her people. But her time with the Kaiser in her old palace was not totally idle.

The whole time, Theo collected information about her enemies. So when a friend from her Astrean past shows up, Theo finds herself embroiled in the machinations of revolutionaries as she has to decide how much and who she is willing to sacrifice to save her people and recover her kingdom.

While this has a fairly typical YA fantasy premise, the execution was a bit different. Usually this sort of fantasy would go what I’m going to call the Throne of Glass route – lady warrior kicks a bunch of butt and saves the day against all odds. This was not that. Theo was more of a politician or a spy. She’s willing to do what she has to save her people, yes, but this book is all intrigue and plotting. The reader is kept on a knife’s edge as Theo and the people around her are constantly close to what is sure
to be terrible death. The book manages to somehow be compulsively readable
but also hard to read at the same time. I found it to be really intense in
the best way possible – I really cared about and for Theo and wanted the best for her and her people. The book ends on an intriguing note (though I found the epilogue to be weak and unnecessary and I hope it got axed before the book was published) which ensured that I’ll be back for the next installment.

I was expecting an enjoyable but generic YA fantasy, and was pleasantly surprised. It’s being marketed to readers of The Red Queen and/or An Ember in the Ashes, but in this reader’s opinion, this book is far superior to either of those. Ash Princess, if not completely original, is a brutal, intense book that I’ll be recommending to teen and adults who enjoy fantasy novels and spy thrillers. If you like your fantasy to be vicious with a healthy side of political intrigue, check this one out. 4 stars – I really liked it.

Thanks to Delacourte Books for Young Readers and Netgalley for the eARC which
I received for review consideration. Ash Princess will be available for
purchase on 24 April, but you can put your copy on hold today!

Reviewer's Name: Britt
Genres:
Calamity
Sanderson, Brandon
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

In the final book of the steel heart series, David learns who the true enemy and leader of calamity is. A book with love, mystery, and action any teenager would love this book.

Reviewer's Name: David
Firefight
Sanderson, Brandon
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

In the sequel to steel heart fire fight counties to adventures of young teen David. This book is a great drama, romance, and action book. Will David survive to war against epics or will he love one instead. Firefight is my personal favorite book from the series.

Reviewer's Name: David
Steelheart
Sanderson, Brian
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Steelheart is the first book in the series. A group of rebels called Reckoners must fight back against super humans who gained their powers from the mysterious planet calamity. David, the main character, spends his life researching the special beast. He joins the Reckoners and decides to put his special knowledge to use. In this all new series written from Brandon Sanderson you can experience love, mystery, and passion.

Reviewer's Name: David H.
Ready Player One
Cline, Ernest
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

I don’t know where to start with this review because there are a lot of different elements of the novel to discuss. The reason why I rate Ready Player One four out of five stars instead of five out of five is the overwhelming amount of 80's references mentioned in literally every line that honestly only further bored the audience. The references to Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Back to the Future, Dungeons & Dragons and more were tolerable because they were iconic - something an individual born 20 years later still understands. Then, Cline writes paragraphs on Atari consoles and Black Tiger or Joust games which just isn’t relate-able for the majority of the audience the novel is targeting (which is why I assume the director replaced the Joust scene with a car race in the movie). But the dominant issue with Cline’s writing is not even necessarily the amount of references but the fact that he explains every single one. At some points, I thought about how I might’ve read a Wikipedia article for the same informational effect. There are plenty of plot twists to contribute to a surprising manner regarding both the characters and the video game - I was never bored with the plot. Ready Player One is one of the many futuristic dystopian sci-fi novels everyone in this generation reads - which is why the 80's references bothered me. I don’t think this is the type of novel most adults born in the 60's or 70's are going to read, yet Cline tries to appeal to them anyway.
Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: Isabella W.
Awards:
The Picture of Dorian Gray
Wilde, Oscar
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

I read this novel on a whim - I had never read any of Wilde before and did not know too much about him as an author apart from the fact he was put on trial and imprisoned during his life. The Picture of Dorian Gray was thoroughly surprising and unexpected. Dorian Gray, at the beginning of the novel, is perceived by Basil Hallward as an individual worth obsessing over, he is infatuated with him and without knowing Dorian yet, the reader is too.
But then the reader is introduced to him physically and I realized he isn't all that. He's almost pompous but somehow clever and he's beautiful. Both Basil and his friend Lord Henry Wotton are influenced to see him more positively by that but I think the fact that Dorian is not tangible to the reader allows us to see him for who he truely is. According to Lord Henry, beauty is worth more than genius is, depicting which friend he prefers over the other. I wanted to sympathize with Basil because he was more sensitive than the others and I felt pity for him as I realized he was not a character anyone particularly cared immensely for. I preferred Basil over both Henry and Dorian because Henry's beliefs appeared rather traditionalist and were more controversial than common and the fact that Dorian was supposed to be a character without any fault was already a warning for me. Honestly, from the title, I did not know what direction the novel was going in from any point during the reading. To clear a few things up, Basil is an artist who paints a portrait of Dorian because he appreciates him in a more aesthetic manner than others who enjoy his company but the portrait appears to change into something more demonic as time goes on symbolizing how awful Dorian was becoming as a person. I mean, I needed to stop reading for a few minutes because I could not believe how little Dorian cared for others but I will admit that the absurdity of it all was entertaining. There is a lot of murder in this book which definitely makes the novel more interesting but then I guess I should also mention not get too attached to some characters.
Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: Isabella W.
Maybe a Fox
Appelt, Kathi
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

This book was a great book, it was beautiful! It was also a B.O.B book for seventh grade from what I know. I loved the characters because they are so relate-able. It all starts when Sylvie, one of the two main characters, goes missing one morning on her daily run to get in shape for track. There is only one explanation for her disappearance, the Slip, which is a mysterious body of water. Jules the other main character is crushed, Sylvie is her only sister, and after Sylvie drowns all she has left is her father. The family of two is torn apart by the loss of their mother and now, oldest daughter. Life goes on, and when the time comes for Jules to go back to school, she sees a sign of luck, but even that is not enough. While all this takes place, deep in the woods, three fox kits are born, two males and one female, who happens to be a kennen. After many adventures Senna, the kennen fox and Jules meet, drawn together by a force of nature. Then something terrible happens. It leaves Jules is in shock, but she makes a discovery of a lifetime. With all the switching from points of view, the book can be a little bit confusing, but it still is great is the reader can understand. I highly suggest this book to anyone looking for a fairly quick read, I was able to read it in about a week. This book was very enjoyable and the reader could feel like they are a part of the book. Highly suggested!
Reviewer Grade: 7

Reviewer's Name: Ella S.
Awards:
The Belles
Clayton, Dhonielle
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

Camellia is a Belle - a person in the fantastical world of Orleans who has magical powers that allow her to change the appearance of others. These powers, and the way she uses them, puts her in high demand, and rich folks clamor to use the Belles' services. There is one Belle, the favorite, who serves royalty. Camellia's dearest ambition is to be the favorite, like her mother. After a few mishaps, she achieves this goal only to discover that the position is not all it's cracked up to be. Royalty is demanding, and Camellia soon finds herself being asked to do morally reprehensible things - things she can refuse only at her own peril. She must decide what means more: fame and beauty, or doing what is right.

To call the worldbuilding in this book "lush" or "complex" would be a disservice. The author invents a unique new world and mythology that, for me, were the strongest point of the book. If you've seen a Baz Luhrman movie, this world is set in that kind of magnificent, wondrous, almost over-the-top opulence that delight's one's imagination. The luxuriant worldbuilding does lead to something of a slow start, but if you are like me, you'll be so immersed in the marvelous new world that you won't care the the story takes a minute to get going. Once the story does get going, several quandaries and mysteries and introduced, and I found myself racing towards the conclusion. Camellia is a likable character that I think a ton of young women will relate to as she's very much a sixteen year old trying to make her place in a big scary world. She's a bit naive, but has deep seated convictions and is constantly rebelling against rules and regulations to show case her creativity and do her absolute best.

I went into this book with extremely high expectations based on a number of positive reviews from Goodreads, professional journals and the like, and I think those expectations may have hampered my enjoyment of the read, at least somewhat. Not to say this isn't an enjoyable read - it absolutely is. I had to physically stop myself from devouring it all in one go. It just felt more like a guilty pleasure read instead of a read of substance. The book should have been really creepy. When the Belles change a person, they change everything. We're talking like body shape/size, shaving off bones, eyeballs out of sockets, and other sorts really gross stuff that should have been horrific. For whatever reason, the creepiness factor never connected with me, but if it had, I think I would've loved this one. There's a female friendship in here that also didn't really land - we're told more than shown that the girls are close. It never felt believable. There are a few plot points that are introduced that are seemingly abandoned or never fully realized though I imagine they'll factor into future installments. I saw where the romance was going immediately, and also figured out the mystery of the sick princess early on in the story. On the whole, I found the book to be rather predictable.

I did enjoy this one, and I'll definitely be coming back for the sequel. I hope it provides a bit more substance, but either way, I'm sure I'll enjoy it. I'd recommend this to readers who liked The Selection, Caraval or The Red Queen (although let me be clear: this book is better written and conceived than any of those), and I'll be adding it to several reading lists as well as booktalking it. 3 stars - I liked it!

Reviewer's Name: Britt
Genres:
The Darkest Hour
Hunter, Erin
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

This book is one of my favorite books to read, though you should probably start from the beginning of book one to understand what is going on. This book is full of creativity and is wonderful to read. My favorite part in this book, is when one of the characters FIRESTAR goes to the moonstone to receive his nine lives. Erin Hunter describes this amazing event so well that it will draw you in completely!

Reviewer's Name: Lilly A.
Genres:
Boneshaker
Priest, Cherie
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

I suppose when I chose to read this book, it would have been a little more steampunk than it was. Sure, Boneshaker has some of the trappings of a steampunk story, like the Civil War and inventions comprised of brass; but in the end, it felt more like light window dressing than something important to the plot. Surprisingly enough, this book was more along the lines of a zombie apocalypse novel than a steampunk one. In that sense, I’m disappointed that the cover didn’t completely deliver on its premise and instead decided to rely on the tropes of the post-apocalyptic genre.

The characters themselves were somewhat interesting, but their motivations seemed a little flat. The boy who wants to find his father and the mother who chases after him aren’t that compelling. In fact, the journey of both characters could have probably been accomplished via one of them, with supporting characters providing information about the other one. If anything, the plot was only used as a method to explore this semi-steampunk Seattle. This meant that, by the end of the book, there were quite a few more questions I had than answers. I guess that’s why there are two more books in this series.

I think my main problem with this book is that it isn’t more thoroughly tied to real history and real locations. Sure, there were a few mentions of the Civil War, but if you removed those few links to history, the story stands on its own pretty well. In fact, you could probably set this anywhere, even in its own, unique world, and it should still work. Because it doesn’t rely on our knowledge of history and familiar places, it doesn’t feel like the “alternate history” that steampunk can provide. In the end, this was a pretty good idea, but it’s misleading in its marketing.

A post-apocalyptic zombie book that has hints of steampunk thrown in, I give Boneshaker 3.0 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: Benjamin M. Weilert

Pages