Posted in BR: Book Review

V.E. Schwab’s Vicious: Delicious Morally-Grey Enemies

The Love for V.E. Schwab

I started reading V.E. Schwab’s work about a year ago. Prior to this, I had only collected her books with some vague assumptions of their greatness. Having read most of her stories, I had one more book to go: Vicious. Back when I was sure of my belonging in Slytherin, I thought of this book as a staple to the nature of that house.

The Premise of Vicious:

The story alternates between two points of a decade where two friends prepare for their thesis in university. Eli and Victor unravel the process of becoming people with powers. At the end of the timeline, we see Eli and Victor as sworn enemies.

Through a cat-and-mouse chase, we get to see the tension between these former friends crackle to life while they rely on two allies who were sisters, Sydney and Serena.

Vicious and Morality

My favorite aspect of this story is the opposite journeys we experience with Eli and Victor. At first, I was certain that Victor would not ever make sense but the biggest surprise is watching Eli become bewilderingly nonsensical. I mean, I follow his train of thought, but my goodness, he is terrifying.

The most shocking element in Eli’s thinking was how warped his faith in God collided with his view of the powers he has and the attitude he has towards other EOs.

Reminding me of Leigh Bardugo’s Six of Crows, Vicious had me cheering for the “bad” guys. For the most part, the antagonists (in the novel’s society, at least) were simply trying to exist. They were on the run.  While Victor does terrible things along the way, he is focused on facing Eli, who did some shady things, okay.

Connections in Vicious

Serena and Sydney mirror Eli and Victor’s closeness in the earlier sections of the book’s timeline. There are loads of mistrust and uncertainty. Besides, the chase between the two sisters was also ruthless.

The bad blood between Eli and Victor bound the story’s plot in thick threads and tendrils. Like all relationships, the way each person acts is a result of a series of perceptions. Eli thinks of himself in a certain way, and he reacts to other EOs because of this view. The same thing can be said about Victor (who is kind of my baby, I just want you to know this upfront).

That Ending…

Oh, this book ends with the tables totally turned.  I have never been this happy about a smile.

Easily, this novel is among my favorites. It was so good.

I read Sabaa Tahir's An Ember in the Ashes over the course of two days last week.
    I am going to share with you my experience of reading One Dark Throne by
1.What is a popular book or series that you didn’t like?  Maze Runner,  The Gemma
Posted in BR: Book Review

Thoughts and Rambles on An Ember in the Ashes

I read Sabaa Tahir’s An Ember in the Ashes over the course of two days last week. It was easily one of my favorite reads this year. A review, thoughts, and rambles on An Ember in the Ashes, is in order.

The premise of An Ember in the Ashes

Sabaa Tahir creates a universe inspired by the Roman empire in An Ember in the Ashes. In a cruel world with militaristic tones, Elias and Laia live. Laia is a Scholar with ties to the rebellion. Elias is in training to be a Mask within the Martial Empire. His mother is the Commandant. He and his best friend Helene are preparing for their big tests.

Laia’s brother is arrested for treason, and it leads Laia into the very core of the rebellion. Sent on a doomed mission into the Commandant’s “home,” Laia attempts to spy on the Commandant through her role as a slave.

But, when she and Elias meet, sparks fly. He, a soldier, and her a slave to an Empire unwilling to incorporate the Scholars into their society. Also: efrits, jinns, and other scary things roam the Empire.

What I liked

Let me preface this by saying that I loved An Ember in the Ashes as a whole. I gave it 4.5-5 stars because it was a quick, engaging, and addictive reading experience. So, here are some of my favorite things in this story.

First, Helene, my queen, pretty much stole my heart from page 1. She’s like the Captain Phasma of these books, but on a conflicted one for sure. I enjoyed her dynamic with Elias, and how it clashed with other Masks in training with them.

Elias’ inner turmoil also translated nicely onto the page. He clearly is very much a reaction to his mother’s nature. And, I think he communicates the frustration with the system beautifully.

While Laia’s storyline was sometimes painful because of all the torture she endures, I did like her persistence and her connection to her brother. She does get “visions” that are unexplained (or at least, still unclear to me).  The beauty of her storyline is also in the irony of finding trust in the least likely spaces.

What I did not like

There were some irksome things in this book, I have to admit. First, I did not really buy the attraction/connection between Laia and Elias. It has happened way too fast. Then again, I do recognize that sometimes very sudden connections happen. Elias was already on the edge of renouncing his connection to the Empire. But, I do find it odd that he was willing to give it all up for someone he did not know very well.

Moreover, I think An Ember in the Ashes would have benefited from some additional points of view. For instance, I wanted more Helene’s point of view (something that is remedied in the sequel, from what I have noticed so far). Another point of view I craved was the Commandant’s own perspective.  I am all for villains being mean and all that, but I also want to know why they function that way. What is their motivation? What drives them to be cruel and heartless?

Besides, the Commandant’s birth of Elias is kind of unorthodox. I want more of the undertones of such an origin and how it influences their relationship.

Finally, I also want to see more Scholars. What makes them subservient to the Empire? What is the history of their conflict? Stuff like that could really clear up the tensions between these two groups.

Overall, though, this book was wonderful. I am working on reading the second one in the series. Cannot wait to see more Elias, Helene, and Laia.

The Love for V.E. Schwab I started reading V.E. Schwab's work about a year ago.
    I am going to share with you my experience of reading One Dark Throne by
1.What is a popular book or series that you didn’t like?  Maze Runner,  The Gemma
Posted in BR: Book Review

The Mixed Bag of One Dark Throne by Kendare Blake

 

 

I am going to share with you my experience of reading One Dark Throne by Kendare Blake here. Naturally, spoilers will arise. While I avoid naming specific characters, I advise you to read with caution. Okay. When I read Three Dark Crowns, I remembered how much I enjoyed Kendare Blake’s writing. Upon seeing the sequel in the library, I snagged it in the hopes of getting a nice conclusion to what I thought was a duology. Granted, Kendare Blake’s writing is still effortless, I did find this reading experience to be quite a mixed bag. Let’s talk about One Dark Throne. 

the mad sister Nearing the One Dark Throne

At the end of the first book, one of the sisters is essentially betrayed by her lover. In One Dark Throne, she functions as a rogue queen. Sometimes, she was terrifying and great. However, I do have a problem with characters being “evil” for the sake of needing a villain.

There is a sense of mystery to this second novel. One Dark Throne keeps hinting that something is wrong with one of the sisters. Everyone suspects it. Yet, there are very few clues as to what is, in fact, her motivation to behave the way she does.

Betrayals to get to the dark throne

Kendare Blake does something beautiful within the story: betrayals. I think this is the most shocking aspect of One Dark Throne. Political, familial, romantic, and even friendship levels of betrayals and wrongdoings shape the trajectory of a given character.

I am mostly baffled by the lovers-suitors-queens dynamics. There are many characters in that regard and I struggle to remember who was truly liked by a queen.

Plus, I am unsure about the characters who have powers. Are they supposed to be helping their queens? The fun for me is having unskilled queens duke it out. Sure, I like Jules fine. But, she tends to distract from Arsinoe’s storyline.

pacing

Three Dark Crowns featured a bit of a slower pace than what I am used to. Kendare Blake was establishing characters and including political layers to this story. Three queens have to go head-to-head and whoever survives becomes ruler of the land.

Cool.

But, in this one, there was still the slow pace once more. Kendare Blake punctuates the plot by assassination attempts and duels. The sisters spend most of their time apart, again, and I found myself wishing Blake would include enough tension between them.

From what I have heard, this series was initially a duology. This is definitely something I assumed from reading the first book. One Dark Throne could have easily concluded the conflict.

Overall

One Dark Throne by Kendare Blake maintains an interesting tale that is somewhat overstretched.  It was definitely a mixed bag. The reading experience of this second book had highs and lows. For one thing, the characters develop quite a bit. But, the pacing threw me off. It is definitely a step above the first book.

It is definitely within the 3.5 to the 4-star range for me.  While I mostly enjoyed Kendare Blake’s progression of the plot in this one, I felt like One Dark Throne lagged a bit.

 

 

The Love for V.E. Schwab I started reading V.E. Schwab's work about a year ago.
I read Sabaa Tahir's An Ember in the Ashes over the course of two days last week.
1.What is a popular book or series that you didn’t like?  Maze Runner,  The Gemma
Posted in BT: Book Tag

BT: The Unpopular Opinions Book Tag

1.What is a popular book or series that you didn’t like? 

Maze Runner The Gemma Doyle books.

2. What popular book or series that you love everyone seems to hate?

Lots! Beautiful Creatures, The Mortal Instruments, The Infernal Devices, Vampire Academy.

3. Which love triangle where the main character ends up with the person you did not want them to end up with?

The Phantom of the Opera. It makes me mad, so I won’t elaborate. 

4. Which genre you do read the least?

Nonfiction, horror, sci-fi. 

5. Which popular character do you dislike?

Tiny Cooper in Will Grayson, Will Grayson. Oh my God, I hate him so much.

6. Which popular author do you dislike?

Scott Westerfeld. Rick Yancey. Libba Bray. Maureen Johnson. A lot of the classics annoy me as well.

7. What popular book trope (examples: love triangles or post-apocalyptic times) are you tired of seeing?

Insta-love. I like slow burn romances and developed feelings that make some sort of sense.

 

8. Which book to movie adaptation was better than its book?

The Perks of Being a Wallflower was pretty good. It’s Kind of a Funny Story was exceptional, too. Oh, and of course Me, Earl, and the Dying Girl.

The Love for V.E. Schwab I started reading V.E. Schwab's work about a year ago.
I read Sabaa Tahir's An Ember in the Ashes over the course of two days last week.
    I am going to share with you my experience of reading One Dark Throne by