Review | The Bodies We Wear by Jeyn Roberts

A streetwise girl trains to take on a gang of drug dealers and avenge her best friend’s death in this thriller for fans of Scott Westerfeld and Robin Wasserman.

People say when you take Heam, your body momentarily dies and you catch a glimpse of heaven. Faye was only eleven when dealers forced Heam on her and her best friend, Christian. But Faye didn’t glimpse heaven—she saw hell. And Christian died.

Now Faye spends her days hiding her secret from the kids at school, and her nights training to take revenge on the men who destroyed her life and murdered her best friend. But life never goes the way we think it will. When a mysterious young man named Chael appears, Faye’s plan suddenly gets a lot more complicated. Chael seems to know everything about her, including her past. But too many secrets start tearing her world apart: trouble at school, with the police, and with the people she thought might be her friends. Even Gazer, her guardian, fears she’s become too obsessed with vengeance. Love and death. Will Faye overcome her desires, or will her quest for revenge consume her?

2.5 cupcakes

Having read and enjoyed Dark Inside and Rage Within, I was really looking forward to reading The Bodies We Wear. Its Kill Bill vibe and promise of delicious revenge drew me in, and while it delivered on some levels, I was left feeling fairly underwhelmed.

I loved the dark, gritty world that Roberts created. Although Heam’s origin wasn’t explained very much, it isn’t difficult to imagine its existence or why it would appeal to a significant portion of the population – a drug that allows you to glimpse Heaven for the price of dying momentarily is quite an interesting concept.

At first, I was intrigued by our protagonist, Faye. Her anger was all-consuming, so I was really interested to see how her self-destructive pathway to revenge would play out. Unfortunately, despite her constant reminders of how much of an amazing fighter she was, Faye wasn’t really that much of a badass. She spends the majority of the story pitying herself (which was understandable at first, but then began grating on my nerves) or fawning over the mysterious Chael, leaving much to be desired in the actual “revenge” aspect of The Bodies We Wear. Also, for an individual who has been exposed to Haem, she didn’t seem to suffer any of the side-effects that the other addicts did – aside from the scarring, that is. She barely spoke of her addiction and managed to attend school on a regular basis, all of which should have been impossible, given the way that Haem had previously been presented. Despite this, I did enjoy her transformation over the course of the novel as she learned about forgiveness and the power that it holds; I just wish that she had lived up to the Lisbeth Salander comparison.

The romance is where The Bodies We Wear really went downhill for me. The “mysterious” Chael (whose identity I had pieced together within the first ~50 pages) admits to stalking Faye, yet he’s gorgeous enough that it’s acceptable. It wasn’t the best first impression, and their interactions over the course of the story felt forced and unnecessary.

Overall, The Bodies We Wear had a strong start but it wasn’t quite what I was expecting (or what it was marketed as), leaving me fairly disappointed.

Review | Red Rising by Pierce Brown

The Earth is dying. Darrow is a Red, a miner in the interior of Mars. His mission is to extract enough precious elements to one day tame the surface of the planet and allow humans to live on it. The Reds are humanity’s last hope.

Or so it appears, until the day Darrow discovers it’s all a lie. That Mars has been habitable – and inhabited – for generations, by a class of people calling themselves the Golds. A class of people who look down on Darrow and his fellows as slave labour, to be exploited and worked to death without a second thought.

Until the day that Darrow, with the help of a mysterious group of rebels, disguises himself as a Gold and infiltrates their command school, intent on taking down his oppressors from the inside. But the command school is a battlefield – and Darrow isn’t the only student with an agenda.

3.5 cupcakes

After seeing all of the raving reviews and Goodreads Choice Award nomination, I knew that I had to give Red Rising a read. Of course, I knew absolutely nothing about the book – I hadn’t read the synopsis, and I wasn’t even sure what genre it fell under – but I can honestly say that I wasn’t expecting whatever this was. It has a dystopian/science-fiction setting and premise, but is filled with the language and world-building of high fantasy, making for a truly unique read.

The first ~30% of Red Rising was a rough read, and if it weren’t for the excellent writing and the promise that it would get better, I likely would have given up. There’s a fair amount of info-dumping and dancing that didn’t seem to be relevant to the plot. It was rather slow paced and contained a ridiculous amount of terms and slang that weren’t defined and thoroughly confused me – between bloodydamn helldivers and highColors, I had no idea what was going on at first. Thankfully, the world-building was explained as the story progressed, and I really enjoyed seeing the parallels to Roman mythology.

Once the pace picked up a bit, Red Rising really became interesting. Between military strategies, sieges, revenge, and betrayal, there was more than enough action to capture my full attention. The battles are brutal and dramatic, and the atmosphere is filled with dark tension and intrigue, making it incredibly difficult to put Red Rising down.

I wasn’t able to connect with our protagonist, Darrow. The underdog-turned-revolutionary-leader is usually something I enjoy in a book, but Darrow was just too perfect. For an uneducated member of a low caste, it was unbelievable that he would be the one person able to be artificially enhanced and compete against the most intelligent, strongest, and most powerful members of society. This level of perfection made him really difficult to relate to or sympathize with, despite the author’s best intentions.

I did, however, like the majority of the secondary characters as they were complex and, often, morally ambiguous. My favourites were easily Pax, the surprisingly kind-hearted giant, and Sevros, the wicked little “Goblin.” I really enjoyed how there were many strong female characters (like Mustang) who showed themselves capable in battle, strategizing, and at being genuinely caring individuals. Unfortunately, some of them served only to show how enlightened and heroic Darrow was, as seen by the very problematic treatment of rape over the course of the story.

Overall, there were many aspects of Red Rising that I enjoyed, but the slow pacing and my inability to connect with the protagonist somewhat dampened my reading experience. Here’s hoping that Golden Son is a smoother read.

Review | Scarlet by Marissa Meyer

Cinder, the cyborg mechanic, returns in the second thrilling installment of the bestselling Lunar Chronicles. She’s trying to break out of prison–even though if she succeeds, she’ll be the Commonwealth’s most wanted fugitive. Halfway around the world, Scarlet Benoit’s grandmother is missing. It turns out there are many things Scarlet doesn’t know about her grandmother or the grave danger she has lived in her whole life. When Scarlet encounters Wolf, a street fighter who may have information as to her grandmother’s whereabouts, she is loath to trust this stranger, but is inexplicably drawn to him, and he to her. As Scarlet and Wolf unravel one mystery, they encounter another when they meet Cinder. Now, all of them must stay one step ahead of the vicious Lunar Queen Levana, who will do anything for the handsome Prince Kai to become her husband, her king, her prisoner.

4 cupcakes

Although I thought Cinder was good, its slow pacing and predictable plot twists kept it from being amazing. Thankfully,Scarlet addressed those complaints, making for a much easier and more enjoyable read.

I absolutely loved Marissa Meyer’s take on the Little Red Riding Hood story. It contained the identifying elements of the original fairy tale (Grandmother goes missing, Scarlet’s red sweater and, of course, the Big Bad Wolf) but all of these elements were given a sci-fi twist that made for an action-packed, unpredictable, and completely enthralling read.

Scarlet introduces us to several new characters that are consistent with the Little Red Riding Hood fairytale: Scarlet, a determined young woman for whom family comes first, and Wolf, a wolf-hybrid-turned-street fighter. I really enjoyed reading about both of these characters, and found myself fully supporting their inevitable relationship – even if it did feel like instalove (since they’d only known each other for a day, albeit an incredibly eventful one) and even if my mind couldn’t decide whether Wolf was the “good guy” or not.

Instead of containing only their story (as I had initially assumed), Scarlet and Wolf’s adventures intersect with Cinder’s – something that I was incredibly happy about, since I don’t think I could wait another whole book to find out how my favourite cyborg was doing. This also brought about the introduction of the charming Captain Thorne, who may or may not be my new book boyfriend. His banter with Cinder was so much fun to read, and I applaud Meyer for not forcing a love triangle along with his introduction.

Overall, Scarlet showed me exactly why everyone loves this series so much: it’s captivating, fast-paced, unique, and contains some of the most loveable characters. It’s safe to say that I’ll be starting Cress straight away.

Review | Cinder by Marissa Meyer

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.

3.5 cupcakes

Cinder started off very slowly for me – to the point where I was terrified that I’d be the black sheep who just couldn’t get into this well-loved series. Thankfully, the pacing got better as the story went on, and I quickly found myself immersed in this book.

I love fairytale retellings, so I’m quite surprised that it took me so long to give Cinder a try. It definitely draws inspiration from the original Cinderella story, however the creative liberties that Marissa Meyer took (which weren’t limited to cyborgs, a futuristic setting, and the Lunars) gave it a fresh, original feel.

Cinder is a wonderful protagonist. Despite the fact that Cinder’s a cyborg, she’s incredibly relatable – her insecurities are balanced by her strength and determination, and she’s incredibly intelligent and resourceful. As in the original Cinderella tale, Cinder faced prejudice and abuse yet didn’t break in the face of this adversity.

The secondary characters were crafted with just as much thought. From the handsome Prince Kai to the cold, somewhat terrifying Queen Levana, these characters all had distinct personalities. Iko and Peony, in particular, were two of my favourites: the cheeky android and adorable sister were not only loveable, but they also helped humanize Cinder by showing off her softer, more vulnerable side.

My only complaint is that the plot “twists” weren’t exactly a surprise; in fact, I had guessed the main one within the first 50 pages. While a certain amount of predictability is expected in retellings, it somewhat detracted from the mystery component of the story.

Overall, I can certainly see why this series has so much hype surrounding it; this unique twist on a beloved fairytale was really enjoyable, so I can’t wait to see where Cinder’s story goes next.

Book Review: The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey

After the 1st wave, only darkness remains. After the 2nd, only the lucky escape. And after the 3rd, only the unlucky survive. After the 4th wave, only one rule applies: trust no one.

Now, it’s the dawn of the 5th wave, and on a lonely stretch of highway, Cassie runs from Them. The beings who only look human, who roam the countryside killing anyone they see. Who have scattered Earth’s last survivors. To stay alone is to stay alive, Cassie believes, until she meets Evan Walker.

Beguiling and mysterious, Evan Walker may be Cassie’s only hope for rescuing her brother—or even saving herself. But Cassie must choose: between trust and despair, between defiance and surrender, between life and death. To give up or to get up.

3.5 cupcakes

The 5th Wave is exactly how I like my post-apocalyptic worlds: dark and with high stakes. There’s this prevailing feeling of hopelessness that, coupled with the intrigue of what the 5th Wave could possibly contain, certainly makes for an intense read.

This creepy factor peters off towards the middle of the book when our protagonist, Cassie, forgets that survival should be her main priority and falls into an unfortunate case of instalove with Evan. Not only is the romance severely lacking in chemistry, but it also serves to weaken Cassie’s character and any previous admiration that I had for her. Any suspicions that Cassie (rightfully) had about Evan were swept out the window whenever he so much as smiled at her, causing the plot to drag in many places, and ruining the effect of the subsequent plot twist (if it can be called that, given that I had guessed it fairly early on).

I wasn’t really able to connect with any of the characters. While I appreciated having multiple perspectives, the fact that they weren’t labelled led to a bit of confusion on my part, since Cassie and Zombie sounded quite similar; if it weren’t for the fact that they were in much different settings (and of different genders), I wouldn’t have been able to tell their voices apart. I really enjoyed seeing the world through Sammy’s eyes: the naive voice of a child brought much-needed light-hearted, aww-worthy moments to the story.

Some of my favourite parts of The 5th Wave were the philosophical musings on moral ambiguity and the notion of humanity. It posed some questions that I’m still considering: what does it mean to be human? Is humanity something that one can gain or lose?

Overall, I enjoyed The 5th Wave for the most part; if it weren’t for the romance, I feel as though I would have loved it just as much as everyone else. That being said, I’m still looking forward to reading The Infinite Sea , if only to see how much more intense the alien invasion can get.

Book Review: The 100 by Kass Morgan

In the future, humans live in city-like spaceships orbiting far above Earth’s toxic atmosphere. No one knows when, or even if, the long-abandoned planet will be habitable again. But faced with dwindling resources and a growing populace, government leaders know they must reclaim their homeland… before it’s too late.
Now, one hundred juvenile delinquents are being sent on a high-stakes mission to recolonize Earth. After a brutal crash landing, the teens arrive on a savagely beautiful planet they’ve only seen from space. Confronting the dangers of this rugged new world, they struggle to form a tentative community. But they’re haunted by their past and uncertain about the future. To survive, they must learn to trust – and even love – again.

2 cupcakes

After hearing friends rave about CW’s adaptation of The 100, I thought that I should give it a try. Its plethora of action scenes and relationship drama made me understand why it was optioned, but unfortunately it was nothing more than a quick, shallow read.

The 100‘s first failing is its world-building, or lack thereof. The details of the ship, how it came to be, and the Gaia Doctrine are incredibly vague. Any explanations that are mentioned were so brief and minute that they failed to answer any of my questions, so I would have loved if there was an extra hundred pages or so to elaborate upon this world.

What disappointed me the most, though, was the fact that the romantic aspects of the plot took the forefront over more important matters, like trying to survive on a potentially dangerous planet. Wells and Glass love their respective partners more than anything else, including their own lives, and their POVs are continually filled with romanticized thoughts. And, to make matters worse, there’s the beginning of a love triangle, and many, many poor decisions made in the name of love. Including my absolute favourite line: “To save the girl he loved, he’d have to endanger the entire human race.”

Despite the fairly similar thoughts, it wasn’t difficult to tell the characters apart – which was nice, considering there were four distinct perspectives to deal with. I wasn’t able to connect or empathize with any of the characters, as none of them felt three-dimensional or real. I suppose that Bellamy irritated me the least, since he at least had a backstory that wasn’t centred around romance, and his unfailing support for his sister was quite nice to read.

Overall, The 100 didn’t contain a lot of substance, but I can certainly see it making a decent television show.

I received a copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Waiting on Wednesday (August 6)

wow

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly book meme hosted by Breaking the Spine, which spotlights upcoming releases that are eagerly anticipated.

This week, I’m waiting on The Body Electric by Beth Revis, which is set to be published in October 2014.

The future world is at peace.

Ella Shepherd has dedicated her life to using her unique gift—the ability to enter people’s dreams and memories using technology developed by her mother—to help others relive their happy memories.

But not all is at it seems.

Ella starts seeing impossible things—images of her dead father, warnings of who she cannot trust. Her government recruits her to spy on a rebel group, using her ability to experience—and influence—the memories of traitors. But the leader of the rebels claims they used to be in love—even though Ella’s never met him before in her life. Which can only mean one thing…

Someone’s altered her memory.

Ella’s gift is enough to overthrow a corrupt government or crush a growing rebel group. She is the key to stopping a war she didn’t even know was happening. But if someone else has been inside Ella’s head, she cannot trust her own memories, thoughts, or feelings.

So who can she trust?

loved the Across the Universe series, so I’m incredibly excited to give The Body Electric a try – especially if what I’ve heard about Amy and Elder making brief appearances is true. The whole idea of entering peoples’ dreams and altering memories reminds me a bit of Inception or Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and that gorgeous cover needs to be on my bookshelf ASAP.

Which books are you waiting on? Leave me a link or a list to your Waiting on Wednesday post below. 3

Waiting On Wednesday (June 25)

wow

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly book meme hosted by Breaking the Spine, which spotlights upcoming releases that are eagerly anticipated.

This week, I’m waiting on A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray, which has an expected publication date of November 4th, 2014.

Every Day meets Cloud Atlas in this heart-racing, space- and time-bending, epic new trilogy from New York Times bestselling author Claudia Gray.

Marguerite Caine’s physicist parents are known for their radical scientific achievements. Their most astonishing invention: the Firebird, which allows users to jump into parallel universes, some vastly altered from our own. But when Marguerite’s father is murdered, the killer—her parent’s handsome and enigmatic assistant Paul—escapes into another dimension before the law can touch him.

Marguerite can’t let the man who destroyed her family go free, and she races after Paul through different universes, where their lives entangle in increasingly familiar ways. With each encounter she begins to question Paul’s guilt—and her own heart. Soon she discovers the truth behind her father’s death is more sinister than she ever could have imagined.

A Thousand Pieces of You explores a reality where we witness the countless other lives we might lead in an amazingly intricate multiverse, and ask whether, amid infinite possibilities, one love can endure.

I’ll admit that the gorgeous cover drew me in at first, but the promise of parallel universes intrigued me enough to add this to my wishlist. I’ve only read a few of Claudia Gray’s books in the past (read: my vampire obsessed days) and don’t remember much about them, so I’m excited to rediscover her writing!

Which books are you waiting on? Leave me a link or a list to your Waiting on Wednesday post below. 3

Book Review: These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner

It’s a night like any other on board the Icarus. Then, catastrophe strikes: the massive luxury spaceliner is yanked out of hyperspace and plummets into the nearest planet. Lilac LaRoux and Tarver Merendsen survive. And they seem to be alone.

Lilac is the daughter of the richest man in the universe. Tarver comes from nothing, a young war hero who learned long ago that girls like Lilac are more trouble than they’re worth. But with only each other to rely on, Lilac and Tarver must work together, making a tortuous journey across the eerie, deserted terrain to seek help.

Then, against all odds, Lilac and Tarver find a strange blessing in the tragedy that has thrown them into each other’s arms. Without the hope of a future together in their own world, they begin to wonder—would they be better off staying here forever?

Everything changes when they uncover the truth behind the chilling whispers that haunt their every step. Lilac and Tarver may find a way off this planet. But they won’t be the same people who landed on it.

A timeless love story, THESE BROKEN STARS sets into motion a sweeping science fiction series of companion novels. The Starbound Trilogy: Three worlds. Three love stories. One enemy.

My Rating: 5 cupcakes

When I saw that These Broken Stars was being described as “the Titanic in space,” I was expecting a love story set on an uncrashable spaceship. While I can certainly see the parallels – star-crossed lovers on board the Icarus, which is unexpectedly pulled out of hyperspace – These Broken Stars was so much more than that.

These Broken Stars is very much a character-driven story. Readers are immediately introduced to the two leads who couldn’t be more different: Tarver, the young war hero, and Lilac, the spoiled daughter of the richest man in the galaxy. Both of these characters are flawed but likeable, though it did take me a little bit longer to warm to Lilac, and I really enjoyed reading their inner monologues through the dual POVs we were given. Over the course of the story, circumstances cause both of these characters to grow and change, though I was most impressed with Lilac’s character development: as she learns to survive on an unknown planet, she transforms from an entitled society girl to a caring, considerate young lady that I grew to adore.

Of course, as the synopsis suggests, there is an element of star-crossed romance that is present in the story. Thankfully, it wasn’t insta-love; instead, Tarver and Lilac’s relationship slowly progresses from reluctant allies to a tentative friendship to a swoon-worthy romance.

At its core, though, These Broken Stars is about survival against all odds. While this may not make for a lot of action, mysterious “whispers” and unexpected twists kept me reading until the early morning. And all of these strange happenings culminated in a breathtaking conclusion that left me eagerly awaiting the sequel.

Overall, I really enjoyed These Broken Stars. This beautifully written, character driven story was unputdownable, and I can’t wait to see where the story goes next.

Book Review: When the World Was Flat (and we were in love) by Ingrid Jonach

Looking back, I wonder if I had an inkling that my life was about to go from ordinary to extraordinary.

When sixteen-year-old Lillie Hart meets the gorgeous and mysterious Tom Windsor-Smith for the first time, it’s like fireworks — for her, anyway. Tom looks as if he would be more interested in watching paint dry; as if he is bored by her and by her small Nebraskan town in general.

But as Lillie begins to break down the walls of his seemingly impenetrable exterior, she starts to suspect that he holds the answers to her reoccurring nightmares and to the impossible memories which keep bubbling to the surface of her mind — memories of the two of them, together and in love.

When she at last learns the truth about their connection, Lillie discovers that Tom has been hiding an earth-shattering secret; a secret that is bigger — and much more terrifying and beautiful — than the both of them. She also discovers that once you finally understand that the world is round, there is no way to make it flat again.

An epic and deeply original sci-fi romance, taking inspiration from Albert Einstein’s theories and the world-bending wonder of true love itself.

My Rating: 1 cupcake

When the World Was Flat (and we were in love) was one of my more anticipated reads of 2013. Between the lovely cover, the intriguing title, and a synopsis that promised me a science fiction story based on actual theories, I was certain that this would become one of my new favourite stories… but, unfortunately, it fell rather flat and I was not in love with it.

I wasn’t enamored with any of the characters in this book. None of their relationships were really developed that much, and were instead defined by labels that our judgmental main character, Lillie, doled out: there was Sylv, the slut (and while they didn’t come right out and call her that, they definitely frowned upon her sexual freedom); Jo the tomboy; Melissa, the popular mean girl; and Lillie’s absent mother. The only one to escape this labeling was Tom, but he also came across as rather one-dimensional.

The relationship between Tom and Lillie seemed to cover almost every cliche in today’s YA scene: a mysterious, hot, new boy takes interest in a girl with self-esteem issues, they have a connection that can’t be explained, and all of a sudden they’re in love / soulmates . Their relationship really wasn’t developed very well – just like all of Lillie’s other relationships – so by the time that the “big reveal” of why Lillie was drawn to Tom came about, I didn’t care enough to be surprised or intrigued.

My main problem with this book, however, was the lack of science fiction aspects. Parallel dimensions and string theory were discussed at times, but the main focus of the book seemed to be the instalove-fueled romance between Tom and Lillie. As a result, I was left with more questions than answers in regards to many of the scientific theories mentioned: if a decision can cause a parallel universe to form where you chose to do the opposite thing, does this happen with all choices? If not, how do you know which choices will do this? If every scenario has multiple potential outcomes, does that mean that there is an infinite number of parallel universes? And so on. I would love to say that all of these were touched upon more than once – and during an infodumpy conversation between Lillie and Tom, of all places – but since the scientific theories fell to the wayside once the romance began, many of them were left unanswered.

Overall, When the World Was Flat (and we were in love) was a huge disappointment. It held my interest just enough to keep me from marking it as a dnf, even though I was tempted to on many occasions.