Waiting On Wednesday (September 17)

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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 Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab, which has an expected release date of February 24, 2015.

Kell is one of the last Travelers—magicians with a rare, coveted ability to travel between parallel universes—as such, he can choose where he lands.

There’s Grey London, dirty and boring, without any magic, ruled by a mad King George. Then there’s Red London, where life and magic are revered, and the Maresh Dynasty presides over a flourishing empire. White London, ruled by whoever has murdered their way to the throne—a place where people fight to control magic, and the magic fights back, draining the city to its very bones. And once upon a time, there was Black London…but no one speaks of that now.

Officially, Kell is the Red Traveler, personal ambassador and adopted Prince of Red London, carrying the monthly correspondences between the royals of each London. Unofficially, Kell is a smuggler, servicing people willing to pay for even the smallest glimpses of a world they’ll never see—a dangerous hobby, and one that has set him up for accidental treason. Fleeing into Grey London, Kell runs afoul of Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations, who first robs him, then saves him from a dangerous enemy, and then forces him to spirit her to another world for a proper adventure.

But perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, Kell and Lila will first need to stay alive—and that is proving trickier than they hoped.

Victoria Schwab has quickly become one of my authors to watch. Her magical worlds are completely enthralling (as The Archived proved), and her characterization – especially moral ambiguity – is spot on (as shown in Vicious). As a result, I’m incredibly excited to see what A Darker Shade of Magic holds – especially since there’s magic and parallel universes involved.

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

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ARC Review: Vicious (Preview) by V.E. Schwab

A masterful, twisted tale of ambition, jealousy, betrayal, and
superpowers, set in a near-future world.

Victor and Eli started out as college roommates—brilliant, arrogant, lonely boys who recognized the same sharpness and ambition in each other. In their senior year, a shared research interest in adrenaline, near-death experiences, and seemingly supernatural events reveals an intriguing possibility: that under the right conditions, someone could develop extraordinary abilities. But when their thesis moves from the academic to the experimental, things go horribly wrong.

Ten years later, Victor breaks out of prison, determined to catch up to his old friend (now foe), aided by a young girl whose reserved nature obscures a stunning ability. Meanwhile, Eli is on a mission to eradicate every other super-powered person that he can find—aside from his sidekick, an enigmatic woman with an unbreakable will.

Armed with terrible power on both sides, driven by the memory of betrayal and loss, the archnemeses have set a course for revenge—but who will be left alive at the end?

My Rating:  5 cupcakes

As a huge fan of The Archived, I was incredibly excited to read Vicious. I quickly found that the only similarity between the two is the excellent, engaging writing that makes them unputdownable.

Vicious is very much a new adult/adult story told through alternating time frames. The present tells of Victor, an escaped convict, who is determined to get his revenge on his former best friend. In the past, Victor is a promising university student and his friendship with Eli is firmly intact. Their relationship is real and complicated, fluctuating between love, admiration, bitterness, and jealousy.

I loved the detailed biological explanation of how one can go about obtaining Extra-Ordinary abilities. The method of obtaining these abilities and the ways that Victor and Eli implement it makes getting bitten by a radioactive spider seem like a welcome alternative.

Ultimately, Vicious is a story about how the lines between superhero and supervillain aren’t as black and white as comic books would like us to believe. It’s about ambition and power, and how easily those can drive apart friendships. Beneath their smooth exterior the characters all have a hidden dark side, though these impulses are stronger for some than they are for others. It’s a truly fascinating look at human nature that will make you look at “good guys” and “bad guys” much differently.

Hopefully the rest of the novel is as compelling as the first 100 pages. Whether it is or not, though, one thing is for sure: I can’t wait to get my hands on a finished copy.

**I received a 100 page preview of this book from Netgalley and Macmillan-Tor/Forge. As a result, I have only read the first 100 pages.

Waiting On Wednesday (August 7)

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

This week’s release that I’m (not so) patiently awaiting is Vicious by Victoria Schwab, which has an expected publication date of September 24, 2013.

A masterful, twisted tale of ambition, jealousy, betrayal, and
superpowers, set in a near-future world.

Victor and Eli started out as college roommates—brilliant, arrogant, lonely boys who recognized the same sharpness and ambition in each other. In their senior year, a shared research interest in adrenaline, near-death experiences, and seemingly supernatural events reveals an intriguing possibility: that under the right conditions, someone could develop extraordinary abilities. But when their thesis moves from the academic to the experimental, things go horribly wrong.

Ten years later, Victor breaks out of prison, determined to catch up to his old friend (now foe), aided by a young girl whose reserved nature obscures a stunning ability. Meanwhile, Eli is on a mission to eradicate every other super-powered person that he can find—aside from his sidekick, an enigmatic woman with an unbreakable will.

Armed with terrible power on both sides, driven by the memory of betrayal and loss, the archnemeses have set a course for revenge—but who will be left alive at the end?

I was lucky enough to receive approval for a ~100 page preview of this book on Netgalley – or unlucky enough, as the preview stopped right as things were getting even more intense, and I now desperately want to read the rest of the book. As a biology student and a comic book fan, I’m fascinated by this take on extraordinary abilities that blurs the lines between “good guys” and “bad guys.” I can’t wait to get my hands on a finished copy! (If you’re interested, you can read my review of the first ~100 pages here).

What books are you waiting on this Wednesday? Leave me a list or a link to your post in the comments below.
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Book Review: The Archived by Victoria Schwab

Imagine a place where the dead rest on shelves like books.

Each body has a story to tell, a life seen in pictures that only Librarians can read. The dead are called Histories, and the vast realm in which they rest is the Archive.

Da first brought Mackenzie Bishop here four years ago, when she was twelve years old, frightened but determined to prove herself. Now Da is dead, and Mac has grown into what he once was, a ruthless Keeper, tasked with stopping often—violent Histories from waking up and getting out. Because of her job, she lies to the people she loves, and she knows fear for what it is: a useful tool for staying alive.

Being a Keeper isn’t just dangerous—it’s a constant reminder of those Mac has lost. Da’s death was hard enough, but now her little brother is gone too. Mac starts to wonder about the boundary between living and dying, sleeping and waking. In the Archive, the dead must never be disturbed. And yet, someone is deliberately altering Histories, erasing essential chapters. Unless Mac can piece together what remains, the Archive itself might crumble and fall.

In this haunting, richly imagined novel, Victoria Schwab reveals the thin lines between past and present, love and pain, trust and deceit, unbearable loss and hard-won redemption.

My Rating: 5 cupcakes

The Archived is one of the most unique books that I’ve ever read. Imagine a library, but instead of books sitting on the shelves, there are dead bodies with all of their memories preserved; this is the Archive. Of course, as with any library, the Archive has a group of dedicated staff: Librarians who catalogue the dead, and Keepers who return the Histories (the dead) when they have woken up and left the Archive. It’s such a spooky and fascinating premise, and as information about the Archive was slowly revealed, I found myself wanting to learn even more. It was really easy to get lost in this world that Schwab created, and with the incredibly detailed descriptions, it wasn’t hard to imagine that such a place could exist.

All of the characters in The Archived were incredibly fleshed out and alive – even the secondary characters who only grace a few pages. Da managed to make the biggest impression on me, despite the fact that he was only seen in flashbacks, and I absolutely adored Roland, a librarian who reminded me so much of the Tenth Doctor in his mannerisms and the way that he dressed.

Mackenzie is easily one of my favourite YA protagonists. She’s strong, intelligent, resourceful, and very easy to relate to. The muted grief, anger, frustration, and guilt that she feels over the loss of both her brother and her grandfather are so palpable and realistic, and really resonated with me due to my own experiences with loss.

I quickly fell head over heels for Wesley, who is the perfect love interest. I’m so glad that the fact that he wore guyliner, painted his nails black, and had the whole black spiky hair and clothing thing going on didn’t result in the typical angsty goth characterization. He’s charming, sweet, and witty, and his sense of humour is certainly a refreshing break from the rather dark and heavy plot. I especially love how the romance is subtle ’cause, you know, Mac is a little bit busy with sending back violent Histories who could kill someone on the Outside.

Overall, The Archived is absolutely fantastic. It’s a really interesting murder mystery filled with twists and turns that will keep you on the edge of your seat, and will leave you thinking about the story long after you’ve finished.