Saturday, December 29, 2012

Review: Defiance

Synopsis: Within the walls of Baalboden, beneath the shadow of the city's brutal leader, Rachel Adams has a secret. While other girls sew dresses and obey their male Protectors, Rachel knows how to survive in the wilderness and deftly wield a sword. When her father, Jared, fails to return from a courier mission and is declared dead, the Commander assigns Rachel a new Protector, her father's apprentice, Logan--the same boy Rachel declared her love for two years ago, and the same one who handed her heart right back to her. Left with nothing but a fierce belief in her father's survival, Rachel decides to escape and find him herself. But treason against the Commander carries a heavy price, and what awaits her in the Wasteland could destroy her.

At nineteen, Logan McEntire is many things. Orphan. Outcast. Inventor. As apprentice to the city's top courier, Logan is focused on learning his trade so he can escape the tyranny of Baalboden. But his plan never included being responsible for his mentor's impulsive daughter. Logan is determined to protect her, but when his escape plan goes wrong and Rachel pays the price, he realizes he has more at stake than disappointing Jared.

As Rachel and Logan battle their way through the Wasteland, stalked by a monster that can't be killed and an army of assassins out for blood, they discover romance, heartbreak, and a truth that will incite a war decades in the making.

My Review: So I admit, I bought this on a total whim.  Never heard of it before, just saw it on B&N and clicked purchase.  So glad I have good instincts.  : D 

Rachel's father has been missing for over 9 months.  He's the cities courier, and has not returned after his 3 month journey.  After a 6 month probationary period, he is finally declared dead by the Commander  and Rachel is left utterly alone.  Rachel was raised solely by her father, who trained her to protect herself and survive off the land.  She's definitely not like other girls in her city.  A fiery red head with an independent attitude to match, Rachel is not convinced her father is dead and won't be stopped from seeking him out.  Even if her new Protector, and former crush, Logan tell her not to.  In her search for her father, Rachel discovers that the world she grew up with holds it's own secrets, and finds an ally in Logan that she never suspected.  

The setting for this novel was very interesting.  I still have yet to determine just quite when/where it takes place.  It's very fantasy in the fact that girls are expected to be docile and complacent complete with dresses and walled cities and an evil beast that lurks outside the walls.  And yet there is quite advanced technology as well.  It seems to have regressed from what it previously was, but still it didn't quite blend with the other aspects of the story.  It wasn't like technology born from  AU, it was like real life technology thrown into an almost fantasy setting.  Still  haven't quite figured that out yet, but it didn't really bother me.  I'm sure we'll get to truly understand it further into the series.  That being said, I still think the setting added to the story.  It really set the mood for the danger that Rachel faces outside the safety of the city walls as well as the dictatorship like control the Commander exhibits on the city and it's citizens.  

I really enjoyed Rachel as an MC.  I love strong independent girls as MC's in general.  Especially in a world where it's not expected of them.  Rachel was the epitome of that character type.  She can take down a man twice her size, and would sooner kill an attacker than subdue him.  She's fierce and brave, but the fact that her father is missing takes a heavy toll on her.  She's willing to sacrifice anything for the safety of her loved ones, an attribute that others don't fail to take advantage of.  Her relationship with Logan is also strained at the beginning of the novel.  Two years ago, she declared her love for him, except that he didn't return the feelings.  She's hated herself and him every since, and when he is appointed her new Protector, Rachel can't imagine anything worse.  

Logan, however, wants to find her dad just as much as Rachel does.  He doesn't believe her father is dead either, and is working on a plan to track him down.  That is until Rachel's bull headed attitude ruins his plans, and the two of them fall into an even bigger problem.  I really liked Logan as well.  He was such a geeky little science nerd, always playing with his experiments and inventions.  Except that he's an incredibly hot nerd who also can kick some major ass.  The best kind of nerd, obviously.  

I really enjoyed the development of their relationship.  They've known each other for forever, and yet they both have failed to truly understand the other.  Through facing the Commander and searching out Rachel's father, they both realize that they've both drastically misjudged the other and that maybe there is more to be gleaned from their relationship than they both initially realized.  I mean, it was pretty obvious that they were both in love with each other. They were both just too stubborn to admit it.  I still enjoyed their relationship though.  

I have to say that my only critique of this novel was that the pacing was a little bit too fast and furious.  Especially the ending.  Actually, it was mostly just the ending.  Everything else about the plot was fabulous.   It definitely didn't take a turn where I thought it would go.  Every time I was like "ok, so this is going to happen next." Nope.  Wrong-oh.  "Oh this plan will go smoothly, it has to, their previous one already failed." Nope. Wrong again.  Everything I expected never happened and everything I was hoping would not happen did basically.  I was kind of pulling my hair out due to anxiety.  For the most part, the whole novel was pretty unpredictable, which I greatly appreciated.  I love surprises.  

Overall, pretty great read.  Definitely a fabulous new series in the making.  Can't wait to see where the author takes it in the sequel.  Some shit is definitely sure to fly.  


Review: Mila 2.0

Synopsis: Mila 2.0 is the first book in an electrifying sci-fi thriller series about a teenage girl who discovers that she is an experiment in artificial intelligence.

Mila was never meant to learn the truth about her identity. She was a girl living with her mother in a small Minnesota town. She was supposed to forget her past —that she was built in a secret computer science lab and programmed to do things real people would never do.

Now she has no choice but to run—from the dangerous operatives who want her terminated because she knows too much and from a mysterious group that wants to capture her alive and unlock her advanced technology. However, what Mila’s becoming is beyond anyone’s imagination, including her own, and it just might save her life.

My Review: I have to say that going into this I wasn't sure what to expect.  Never really read a story with an android as the MC, and really the plot was a toss up.  It could have been amazing or it could have just been trying too hard.  Well I'm pleased to say that not only was the plot awesome, but the entire book was just plain phenomenal.

Mila has just moved to the middle of Minnesota from Philadelphia after the death of her father in a fire. She's slowly adjusting to life without him, though she can't remember a thing about the fire or most of her life.  Except Mila's lack of memories has nothing to do with the fire.  After an unfortunate car crash, Mila discovers that she's not the normal girl she thought she was.  She's an an android, an experiment in artificial intelligence created by the military.  And her "mom" isn't her mom at all, she's one of her creators who stole her from the government.  Having always thought she was human, Mila can't begin to fathom that her thoughts, her feelings, everything about who she is is fabricated.

As Mila and her mother flea from capture, Mila has to make adjustments to her own perception of who she is.  More and more disturbing things keep cropping up.  Like the fact that red messages often flash across her vision that say "Target immobilized"-"Enemy threats detected" etc.  Mila has to face the harsh reality that she is a machine, designed to infiltrate human populations, not a human.  Except that Mila doesn't feel like a machine.  She has emotions just like a human does, and no amount of programming can explain away her unique personality.  She may be a machine, but she's developed her own spark of humanity.

I loved everything about this story.  The plotting was just flawless.  It was so well executed.  It was exciting, terrifying, and even at times horrifying, but all together it made for a truly remarkable read.  I had trouble putting this book down.  I practically read it from start to finish in one sitting, give or take like 50 pages.  Which is impressive, even for me.  Which only testifies to how good this book was.

What really made me love this book was Mila.  Yes she's an android, which you would think would be weird, but really it wasn't in the slightest.  Mila's character brings up a lot of important questions.  What constitutes humanity? Just because something is programmed or artificial does that mean that it can't have free will? It's all very I, Robot in nature philosophically but that's why I love it.  Mila is so critically human in her thoughts and feelings, and most importantly her actions.  The fact that she was a machine didn't make me feel alienated as the reader.  If anything, it made me cheer her on more.  She deserves the right to live her own life, human or not.

In summary, extraordinary book.  One of my favorites for this year.  Cannot wait for more from Miss Driza.  A truly outstanding debut.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Review: Ink

Synopsis: On the heels of a family tragedy, the last thing Katie Greene wants to do is move halfway across the world. Stuck with her aunt in Shizuoka, Japan, Katie feels lost. Alone. She doesn’t know the language, she can barely hold a pair of chopsticks, and she can’t seem to get the hang of taking her shoes off whenever she enters a building.

Then there’s gorgeous but aloof Tomohiro, star of the school’s kendo team. How did he really get the scar on his arm? Katie isn’t prepared for the answer. But when she sees the things he draws start moving, there’s no denying the truth: Tomo has a connection to the ancient gods of Japan, and being near Katie is causing his abilities to spiral out of control. If the wrong people notice, they'll both be targets.

Katie never wanted to move to Japan—now she may not make it out of the country alive.

My Review: Going into this I was really excited.  If I could have one superpower it would be that whatever I draw would come to life.  But, hey, that's my inner artist coming out, and for Tomo it isn't nearly as fun as it sounds.  

I really enjoyed this story.  Japan is definitely one of those places that I'd love to visit and I love the culture in general.  Katie has just moved there, after the death of her mother and is thrown into a world she can barely even begin to understand.  It's a new country, new culture, new language, and a new family.  She's having a hard time adjusting and the language barrier isn't exactly helpful in aiding her in making new friends.  She's already an outsider, but when she meets Tomohiro her life gets even more complicated. 

Tomo is a cold hearted jerk who looks down on Katie and has a bad reputation to match his attitude.  At first, Katie's determined to give it right back, but as she gradually gets to know him, she realizes that there is a lot more hiding beneath his cold hearted exterior.  Tomohiro is hiding something, and Katie is determined to find out what it is.  

I greatly enjoyed this story.  Japan, hot boy, and art.  Yep, pretty much sold me. What's not to like? While I loved the concept of this story, there were just a few minor things that bothered me.  Katie's attraction to Tomohiro was just kind of off.  Like it changed from hatred, to curiosity, to open interest.  It wasn't like love at first sight, but even when Tomo was still being a jerk she was undeniably attracted to him and her decisions reflected that.  I just take issue with girls falling head over heals for an asshole.  Granted, he acted like that to keep people at a safe distance.  STILL. No me gusta.  And throughout the story I feel like their relationship was just so up and down I got whiplash on occasion.  Overall though, I enjoyed them as a couple.  I just hope their relationship evolves a bit more in the next book.  Mutual trust.  All that jazz.  

I really loved the incorporation of traditional Japanese myths/gods.  I have a thing for pre-christian religions and I just think they're so interesting and the mythology behind them is so cool.  I can't wait to find out more about the Kami and why Tomohiro's powers go on the fritz around Katie.  And speaking of Tomohiro's powers, wow.  It sounds so cool to have what you draw come to life, but for Tomo almost everything he draws tries to kill him or the people he's with.  He can't control his drawings, they have a life of their own and it often leads them to destruction.  He's determined to protect Katie from his drawings and himself, because he knows that when she's around his control slips.  His Kami powers are dangerously close to taking over him, and what's left of his humanity will slowly slip away.  

Of course there are outside forces at work as well.  The Yakuza has taken an unhealthy interest in Tomo and his powers, and there are other Kami out there as well that are looking to use Tomohiro.  And Katie of course is wrapped up all in the middle of it.  Overall I greatly enjoyed this book.  It was a very unique concept and I enjoyed both Katie and Tomo.  Can't wait for the next one.  

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Review: The Archived

SynopsisImagine 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.

My Review: I was intrigued when I first read the synopsis of this book.  It sounded pretty bad ass.  The whole concept is just cool to think about.  And I was definitely not disappointed.

Mac is a Keeper, has been since she was twelve and her Da (grandfather) passed on the duty to her.  She lives a life full of lies.  Her mother and father have no idea what she does, and it makes their already strained relationship after the death of her little brother even harder.  Her parents have uprooted their lives, moving to a new town and into an old hotel turned apartment building.  Although her scenery has changed, Mac still has the Archive and the Narrows, where she patrols for Histories who have woken up.  But the apartment comes with a few surprises of it's own.  Mac discovers that her room was witness to a grisly murder, a murder that seemingly has no record.  As Mac dives deeper into the murder, she dives deeper into the Archive and the secrets hidden there.

I loved absolutely everything about this book. The whole entire concept was brilliant.  I loved the idea of the Archive and how it serves like a type of afterlife.  The whole world was just brilliantly designed. Even though it was like a hidden world within our own, it meshed really well with reality.  The whole system was pretty easy to figure out and it's easy to follow.  The Narrows were creepy and reminded me of a labyrinth with endless doors.  Almost like a Department of Mysteries type thing.  You never know what will behind a door. The concept of the Histories was also really cool.  I loved the idea that when a person dies their collective consciousness is stored and kept for records.  Very interesting concept.

I absolutely loved all of the characters as well.  Mac was just brilliant.  She was tough and smart, and yet she's still trying to cope with the death of her brother.  She's vulnerable but hates to show that vulnerability.  She is the most skilled liar I have ever encountered in an MC.  She's like a pro.  Granted being a skilled liar is kind of a requirement for being a Keeper, but it's kind of sad that she's been living a lie since she was 12.  She lives a lonely life.

All that changes when she meets Wesley. He's a bit eccentric with his black nail polish and guyliner, and he sounds like pounding rock music to Mac's touch, but he's just what Mac needs.  He's funny and upbeat and best of all, he's a Keeper just like Mac.  For the first time in her life, she doesn't need to hide who she is.  She can be honest with Wes unlike anyone else in her life.  I really loved Wes.  He was witty and a bit over confident, but he was just fantastic to read.  He was a fun character and you can tell he really cares about Mac and her well being.  There's really nothing between them YET, and I stress the yet because I am definitely hoping there WILL be something because I liked Wes a lot and those two go together like peanut butter and jelly.

I also really liked Roland.  He's one of the Librarians in the Archive.  He was just really easy going guy who could with a flip of a switch turn bad ass and put down an unruly History without a sweat.  Plus he had red chucks.  ^.^ It made him awesome in my books, cuz that speaks volumes to his personality.  He helps Mac with her investigation and bends a few rules himself to try and get to the bottom of what is happening.

What I really appreciated was that I couldn't guess the outcome of this novel.  I kept guessing and theorizing but while I guessed a few things right, I never got the whole twist.  It was just brilliantly written and was so fun to read.  I devoured the thing in two sittings.  It was so well planned and had a brilliant twist that I never saw coming.  The pacing was perfect, it didn't feel rushed and while I was dying for more it was a good ending point.  I don't have a single criticism of this book.  One of the best books I've read in a while.  A really excellent read, highly recommend.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Review: Touch of Death

Synopsis: Jodi Marshall isn’t sure how she went from normal teenager to walking disaster. One minute she’s in her junior year of high school, spending time with her amazing boyfriend and her best friend. The next she’s being stalked by some guy no one seems to know.

After the stranger, Alex, reveals himself, Jodi learns he’s not a normal teenager and neither is she. With a kiss that kills and a touch that brings the dead back to life, Jodi discovers she’s part of a branch of necromancers born under the 13th sign of the zodiac, Ophiuchus. A branch of necromancers that are descendents of Medusa. A branch of necromancers with poisoned blood writhing in their veins.

Jodi’s deadly to the living and even more deadly to the deceased. She has to leave her old, normal life behind before she hurts the people she loves. As if that isn’t difficult enough, Jodi discovers she’s the chosen one who has to save the rest of her kind from perishing at the hands of Hades. If she can’t figure out how to control her power, history will repeat itself, and her race will become extinct.

My Review: So before I signed up to review this, I was a bit hesitant   But I thought, hey I'll give it a shot, it could be really good.  Well it's safe to say that I was correct in my initial estimate.  It wasn't terrible, but it was far from a home run.  

I feel like my biggest issue with this book was that the synopsis just gives so much away.  There was no suspense or anticipation for trying to figure out just what Jodi was.  You literally know EXACTLY what she is, so all the little cues for hinting at her true nature are glaringly obvious and in your face and it just annoyed me.  I just prefer a bit more subtlety in regards to when a character has a hidden identity/past. I honestly think that  if this one little thing was changed about this book I would have liked it a lot more.  The lack of suspense and tension was just killing me to be honest.  

Jodi as an MC was pretty decent.  Little things bothered me about her, but overall I enjoyed her as a narrator.  The fact that she jumped pretty quickly from two guys over VERY inappropriate circumstances just really annoyed me.  Like seriously, it had been a day, now she's into another guy?! But I won't spoiler anything, so that's all I'll say on the matter.  Jodi had a  lot of traits that I admired, so overall I enjoyed her.  

As far as the plotting of this, it kind of fell flat for me.  It could have worked if the book was twice as long as it currently is.  Then the pacing would have been acceptable.  As it was, the plot just moved way too fast and had so little development that it just didn't work flow wise.  And as far as conflict goes, it kind of fell flat too.  It just lacked motive. They were evil for evil's sake and were terrible people just to be terrible people. I just can't accept that.  Villains have MOTIVE. Otherwise the whole Medusa thing and being able to raise the dead was kind of cool.  Historically wise, there actually is a 13th constellation so I like how the author pulled from that and the other mythology was  pretty cool.  Heaven knows I adore Greek Mythology so I really enjoyed that.  

Overall, it was decent.  It was just one of those mid-range books that I can't really say "don't read" or "definitely read it" so I don't know.  I feel meh about it.  I might read the sequel.


Thursday, October 25, 2012

Review: Prodigy

Synopsis: June and Day arrive in Vegas just as the unthinkable happens: the Elector Primo dies, and his son Anden takes his place. With the Republic edging closer to chaos, the two join a group of Patriot rebels eager to help Day rescue his brother and offer passage to the Colonies. They have only one request—June and Day must assassinate the new Elector.

It’s their chance to change the nation, to give voice to a people silenced for too long.

But as June realizes this Elector is nothing like his father, she’s haunted by the choice ahead. What if Anden is a new beginning? What if revolution must be more than loss and vengence, anger and blood—what if the Patriots are wrong?

My Review: I have been anticipating this sequel ever since I got my grubby little hands on Legend.  And I will say first and foremost it did not disappoint.  It was just as fantastic as the first one, and it matched tragedy for tragedy.

Prodigy pretty much picks up where Legend left off.  Day and June are on the run from the Republic after Day's escape from his execution.  They're in search of the Patriots, to not only get away from this giant mess but to find Day's little brother Eden as well as his friend Tess. Find them they do, but to gain their help they have to do one thing: assassinate the new Elector.  June and Day are separated almost immediately, each having their own assignments in order to carry out the Patriots plans.

I greatly enjoyed the plot for this book.  I will gladly bow down to Marie Lu and praise her plot development skills to high heaven.  She truly does an amazing job of pacing.  As I started getting deeper into the novel I was anticipating a certain event to be the climax and then everything would wrap up quickly from there.  But no, Lu surprised me yet again.  It was kind of like a false climax and the actual climax was just ten times more amazing because there was just so much build up to it.  And I'm so glad she kept going back and forth between Day and June.  Maybe it's just because I love the fact that they have different ink colors for their respective POV's.  Plus I enjoy both of their narratives way too  much to ever have to decide between the two.  As for plot twists, I have to say that I did NOT see that coming.  It was rather jaring to say the least, but it just made soooo much sense.  And we finally get a peak at the Colonies! I have to say, I am totally intrigued.  Day and June expect it to be some ultimate utopian society, and really we just glean the surface of it.  The Colonies have just as many problems as the Republic, and I'm interested to see how those are revealed in the next book.

As for June and Day...basically they're still bad asses.  I just feel like every time I read about them I am constantly geeking out because my inner monologue is going "OMG THEY'RE SO COOL!" Lu introduced the possibly for some other romantic interests, but they weren't really serious.  Both Day and June are still madly in love with each other.  Both of them struggle with the harsh realities of their relationship but ultimately they pull through for each other.

In the beginning of the novel, something is further revealed about Metias death and Thomas's involvement. And truly I didn't know whether to kill Thomas or just weep and hold him because it was literally one of the most tragic things I have ever read.  Just.  Stomped all over my heart.  And really, this book did a lot of stomping all over my heart because it did it at the end as well.  Just when you think everything is okay, not perfect, but okay and then the rug is pulled out from under your feet and you're just crying out WHY?! Well, gee that wasn't ominous now was it? Book 3 cannot come fast enough.

I really can't say much else without getting too heavy into spoilers and I don't want to ruin it for anybody so I'll leave off with just one last thing.  I greatly appreciated the fact that this was NOT a filler book.  Lu presented a well developed story line that actually continued the plot and created further intrigue.  It was beautifully done.  Bravo.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Review: The Sweetest Dark

Synopsis: “With every fiber of my being, I yearned to be normal. To glide through my days at Iverson without incident. But I’d have to face the fact that my life was about to unfold in a very, very different way than I’d ever envisioned. Normal would become forever out of reach.” 

Lora Jones has always known that she’s different. On the outside, she appears to be an ordinary sixteen-year-old girl. Yet Lora’s been keeping a heartful of secrets: She hears songs that no one else can hear, dreams vividly of smoke and flight, and lives with a mysterious voice inside her that insists she’s far more than what she seems.

England, 1915. Raised in an orphanage in a rough corner of London, Lora quickly learns to hide her unique abilities and avoid attention. Then, much to her surprise, she is selected as the new charity student at Iverson, an elite boarding school on England’s southern coast. Iverson’s eerie, gothic castle is like nothing Lora has ever seen. And the two boys she meets there will open her eyes and forever change her destiny.

Jesse is the school’s groundskeeper—a beautiful boy who recognizes Lora for who and what she truly is. Armand is a darkly handsome and arrogant aristocrat who harbors a few closely guarded secrets of his own. Both hold the answers to her past. One is the key to her future. And both will aim to win her heart. As danger descends upon Iverson, Lora must harness the powers she’s only just begun to understand, or else lose everything she dearly loves.

Filled with lush atmosphere, thrilling romance, and ancient magic, The Sweetest Dark brilliantly captures a rich historical era while unfolding an enchanting love story that defies time.

My Review: This book left me feeling kind of torn.  There were a lot of aspects I liked, but a few that just fell flat for me.  The start of the book kind of threw me for a loop.  There's like two false beginnings that are just oddly narrated.  Granted they represented different times during Lora's life, but they were just incongruous with the rest of the narrative and stuck out like a sore thumb.

I really liked the setting to this story.  Granted I love anything that is late 19th or early 20th century, it's just a fascinating era, but I felt that Lora's back ground really added a unique element.  Lora is the new charity student at Iverson, an elite private school for girls.  But she has an even deeper past than just being from an orphanage.  Lora made the mistake of telling someone about the voices and songs she heard and consequently she was put in an insane asylum.  It was just really disturbing to read about the practices they did to mental patients to supposedly "cure" them.  The author doesn't go too heavily into Lora's time in the asylum, but I can't decide if I was grateful for that or if I would have actually liked more. It just felt like it would have been that drastically shaped who Lora was as a person, so I thought it would have had more prevalence in the story.

Iverson is of course you traditional English boarding school, full of bitches.  But what I adored about Lora is that she can dish it out just as good, if not better than the snotty rich girls.  She is not a meek little charity girl, she has a bite.  I will say there was one girl in particular that I grew to love.  Granted, she initially only started being civil to Lora because Lora pissed off her step-sister, and she hated her step sister, but that aside, she was awesome.  I wanted to high five her on more than a few occasions.  I feel like she has a lot more depth than her initial impression implies.  I'm interested to see more of her.

I was rather surprised by the turn of plot in this story.  I definitely wasn't expecting what Lora truly was (yes definitely magical creature).  It was a unique take on traditional lore and frankly I really enjoyed it. It's nice to see a new take in YA lit.  However, I have to say the climax of this story fell SO flat for me. So WWI is going on right? I absolutely HATED how it was brought into the story.  It was just lame.  Did not like it one bit.

And that brings me to the romance of this novel.  It kind of sets it up for there to be a love triangle, but really it was a non-love triangle because Lora is only interested in one of them.  I appreciated that fact.  One thing I cannot stand is an indecisive MC in her love life.  That being said, the romance just fell a bit flat for me.  Like I REALLY liked the guy she ended up being with.  He was awesome and sweet and was perfect for Lora, and yet I just didn't get the "spark" between them.  Maybe it was the writing. But when you're in LOVE with someone as Lora claimed, shouldn't there be more spark to it? I don't know, their relationship just fell flat.  And not that I liked the other guy better or anything, he was a decent guy and I don't have anything against him, but I was like what was the point? Also a small spoiler warning here, be forewarned.  If you set up a love interest and it actually works out they end up together in the first book of a series, you do not freaking kill him off! Seriously.  Huge ass no no.  The only person who can get away with that is Rae Carson, and I still haven't entirely forgiven her for that heart break yet.

End minor spoiler.

So all in all I really enjoyed this book until the last fifty or so pages.  That just kind of killed it for me.  I'd say this series still has great potential, and I'll read the sequel, but I'm just hoping for more plot development the next go around.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Review: What's Left of Me

 Synopsis: I should not exist. But I do.

Eva and Addie started out the same way as everyone else—two souls woven together in one body, taking turns controlling their movements as they learned how to walk, how to sing, how to dance. But as they grew, so did the worried whispers. Why aren’t they settling? Why isn’t one of them fading? The doctors ran tests, the neighbors shied away, and their parents begged for more time. Finally Addie was pronounced healthy and Eva was declared gone. Except, she wasn’t . . .

For the past three years, Eva has clung to the remnants of her life. Only Addie knows she’s still there, trapped inside their body. Then one day, they discover there may be a way for Eva to move again. The risks are unimaginable-hybrids are considered a threat to society, so if they are caught, Addie and Eva will be locked away with the others. And yet . . . for a chance to smile, to twirl, to speak, Eva will do anything. 

My Review: I have to say going into this I wasn't quite sure what to expect.  It sounded like an interesting concept and I thought I'd give it a shot.  I'm so glad I did.  I ended up really enjoying it.

Eva and Addie are halves to the same whole.  Their twin souls; sisters, and the world wants one of them to fade away.  According to everyone else, one soul is naturally more dominant and the other one will simply fade away over time.  Except that's not how it worked out for Addie and Eva.  Eva never went away like she was supposed to.  She can't take control anymore, but she's still there, a constant companion to Addie.  People like Addie/Eva are feared above all else.  Hybrids are the cause of all terrorist and other evils that plague the world.  So when Addie/Eva discover they may not be as alone as they thought, they have to take a huge chance for Eva to be free again.

I still can't quite determine what universe this is.  I mean, it appears to be our universe, but in the future at some point, and yet obviously we don't have twin souls. How twin souls developed hasn't really been explained, but I'm rolling with it at this point.  The whole book is from Eva's POV and I'm really glad of that.  Having two MC's in the same body would have been super confusing, so I'm glad it was just Eva.  I really enjoyed her narrative as well.  As horrible as her situation is she's always so kind.  She always sees the good in others when Addie tends to shy away from other people.  She doesn't blame Addie for their predicament, ever.  In fact, Addie and Eva's relationship was truly heart touching.  It's clear that they would do anything for one another, and Addie truly shows this by putting themselves at risk so that Eva may be able to take control again.

I really liked the other hybrid characters as well.  There's a bit of romance thrown in, but it was well developed and very minor to the actual plot.  I highly aprove though.  :D As far as the plot went, it was BRILLIANT.  There is a lot more depth to the hybrid problem, than the book leads you to believe at the start of the novel.  Zhang did a great job of letting out a few details to help explain, but baiting you into reading more with new revealed information.  The plot was perfectly paced, and just read smoothly.  Zhang wrote beautifully and created a very original world and characters that you can't help but fall in love with.  I can't wait for more books to this series.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Review: The Raven Boys

Synopsis: “There are only two reasons a non-seer would see a spirit on St. Mark’s Eve,” Neeve said. “Either you’re his true love . . . or you killed him.”

It is freezing in the churchyard, even before the dead arrive.

Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue herself never sees them—not until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks directly to her.

His name is Gansey, and Blue soon discovers that he is a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble.

But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can’t entirely explain. He has it all—family money, good looks, devoted friends—but he’s looking for much more than that. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents all the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul who ranges from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher of the four, who notices many things but says very little.

For as long as she can remember, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love to die. She never thought this would be a problem. But now, as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.

My Review: For whatever reason with Maggie Stiefvater books I have a hard time getting into them.  It's just those first few initial chapters fail to really suck me in.  But this time I stuck with it and pushed on, and I am so glad I did because the book just kept getting better and better.

The story is definitely not your normal paranormal plot line.  It is definitely centered around an older form of magic.  Though Blue and her household of psychic women were definitely a more familiar breed.  And well all the women in that house were just entertaining as hell.  Blue was an interesting MC.  She is definitely one of those people who purposefully strive to be different and out there as opposed to naturally just expressing themselves. And yet while she was always trying to make a statement through her style, she never once seemed fake.

Interestingly enough it was the Raven boys who were the main reason I loved this book so much.  It's rare that having 5 main characters and 3 narrators ever truly enhances the book, but I have to say that Maggie juggled it all very well.  Each boy had their own complicated background and motivation and yet they all worked cohesively together.

Adam is incredibly hard working.  He works odd end jobs so he can pay for his tuition at Aglionby, all the while hiding it from his parents.  His father is abusive and his mother just sits idly by, and he can't just leave.  Adam doesn't want charity from anyone, including Gansey.  I really enjoyed his character.  He's that sweet normal boy who is so often overlooked and so I was rooting for him the entire book.  The only thing that drove me nuts was his inability to accept help.

I absolutely adored Ronan.  Sure he was a bullheaded Irish whelp who was constantly fighting and biting the head off of anyone who tried to talk to him besides Gansey, but there is just so much to his character.  Ever since his father died he's been a different person, and not really for the better.  He's abrasive with people, doesn't give two cents about school, and fights with his older brother almost constantly.  And yet despite all these serious faults, I loved him.  There was just something completely mysterious about him.  Everything from his intricate tattoo to his easy acceptance of the magical realm and his uncanny knowledge of Latin.  And him taking care of a baby raven just endeared him to me forever.  But what truly made me love him was what he did for Adam.  Everyone know's about Adam's situation, and yet Ronan, the seemingly most uncaring of them all, is the one who took action to protect him.

There really isn't much to say about Noah besides the fact that I just want to hug him and that I NEVER saw that plot twist coming.  I feel like I was sidelined by it, quite frankly.

And of course there is Gansey.  I rather enjoyed Gansey and his old manner of speaking and his obsession with ley lines and finding a sleeping king.  He was an old soul in a younger body, and it just made his character more interesting.  The fact that Gansey just so happens to be the only soul that Blue saw on St. Mark's Eve just makes the story all the more interesting.  And of course we don't find out why Blue was able to see his soul.  We only know that for sure he will die in the next year.

Which just makes the wait for the second book all the more dire! I already miss my raven boys :( There is just so much more that needs to happen! The first book was only a taste and I need more to satiate my hunger for this story.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Review: Enshadowed

Synopsis: Varen Nethers is trapped in a perilous dream world -- a treacherous and desolate realm where the terrifying stories of Edgar Allan Poe come to life. Isobel Lanley, plagued by strange visions and haunted by the nightmares of Varen's creation, is the only one who can save him.

Isobel knows that her only hope lies within a Baltimore cemetery. There, in the early morning hours of Edgar Allan Poe's birthday, a mysterious stranger known as the "Poe Toaster" will make his annual homage at the legendary poet's grave.

Only the Poe Toaster holds the key to the way between worlds. But even greater dangers lie ahead for Isobel. An ancient evil, draped in veils of white, is watching, challenging her for Varen's affections. When Isobel finally finds Varen, he is no longer the quiet and brooding boy who once captivated her, but a dark force, powerful and malevolent.

My Review: Ever since I finished Nevermore I have been chomping at the bit for this book.  It was such a long wait just because I loved the first one so much.  And now that I've read it, I'm having much the same reaction to the end of the first one, except now I'm just pissed.  I thought the first book had a cliffhanger ending? Hah! Wrong.  The ending for Enshadowed is ten times worse.

Enshadowed picks up where Neverwhere left off.  Varen is stuck in the dream world and Isobel is back in the real world thanks to the lying Reynolds, whom Isobel thought was her ally.  But no one seems to care that Varen is gone besides Isobel.  Her parents want her to be who she was before, but she is no longer that person.  She goes through life in a plastic version of her former self, trying to act like everything is okay, when everything is anything but.  Isobel keeps seeing snatches of Varen, but is it real or just her imagination?  Supposedly the dream world's tie with reality was severed, but old foes keep coming through the divide.  Her only hope is to corner Reynolds the famed "Poe Toaster" on Poe's birthday in Baltimore.  He is the only person who can cross between the worlds, and consequently her only chance of rescuing Varen.

Throughout this whole book I just felt terrible for Isobel.  She is just being eaten up inside by guilt at having left Varen.  Her parents don't understand her, her old friends think she's a freak, and even her new friend temporarily abandons her when she realized just how dangerous of a quest Isobel is on.  Because good old Bess is way more than a scary specter, she is the demoness Lilith and she has Varen in her thrall.

While this essentially was a filler novel, it didn't read like one.  I devoured this book so fast, and even though not terribly much happened, Kelly made getting from point A to point B very intriguing.  There wasn't a dull moment in the book.  Everything that happened just drove to make this creepy Poe filled world all the more terrifying.  The only thing I have a complaint on is that Isobel literally spent the whole entire novel trying to get back into the dream world.  And she was in the dream world for maybe 30 pages? If that? And Varen was only in about 5 of them.  Like real face to face Varen time (including the epilogue).  That kind of just irked me, but I can't even complain because the novel was so well paced it didn't even detract away from the story.

I have to say though that those last few pages, I was freaking the hell out.  I about threw the book I was that  agitated by how it ended.  I was in a state of utter disbelief.  I knew things weren't going to be peachy keen because no way could Varen be rescued that easily, but dear lord I never saw that coming.  And the epilogue! I literally felt my heart crack in two.  The pure utter despair.  Just curse you Kelly Creagh.  My heart is in tiny little pieces because of that damn two page epilogue.

To say waiting for the third book is going to be pure torture is the biggest understatement of the year.  :/ But I still love it.  Apparently I'm just a glutton for punishment, because I know the third one is going to be just as equally brilliant and just as heart wrenching as the first two.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Review: Crewel

Synopsis: Incapable. Awkward. Artless.

That’s what the other girls whisper behind her back. But sixteen year-old Adelice Lewys has a secret: she wants to fail.

Gifted with the ability to weave time with matter, she’s exactly what the Guild is looking for, and in the world of Arras, being chosen as a Spinster is everything a girl could want. It means privilege, eternal beauty, and being something other than a secretary. It also means the power to embroider the very fabric of life. But if controlling what people eat, where they live and how many children they have is the price of having it all, Adelice isn’t interested.

Not that her feelings matter, because she slipped and wove a moment at testing, and they’re coming for her—tonight.

Now she has one hour to eat her mom’s overcooked pot roast. One hour to listen to her sister’s academy gossip and laugh at her Dad’s stupid jokes. One hour to pretend everything’s okay. And one hour to escape.

Because once you become a Spinster, there’s no turning back.

My Review: I really didn't know what to expect going into this.  From the synopsis I couldn't really grasp if this was AU or some earth universe with some added magic.  Nonetheless, I was pretty intrigued by the whole concept.     

Adelice Lewys has always been taught to hide her abilities.  Her parents always impressed upon her the danger of the Guild and that the promises of glitz and glamour were not all they appeared to be. Yet when the time came where it mattered most to hide her skill, she couldn't help but do the forbidden; weave the very fabric of the world.  Adelice is ripped from everything she has ever known and thrown into the world of the Guild, where you either play by the rules or you die.  

The whole world was just amazing.  You know the analogy for space/time in physics?  Where space/time is this blanket?  This is basically the same analogy for this world.  Time and matter can be manipulated by women called Spinsters who can see the fabric of the very life around them.  They can weave it, manipulate it, and even rip it if necessary and they are all controlled by the Guild.  Most girls would kill for a chance to be a Spinster.  With the title comes clothes, balls, and the chance to be someone worth envy.  In this world the only thing women are considered good for are being secretaries.  It's like taking a huge leap back to the 20's mindset of women in the workplace.  That's why being a Spinster is so desired.  But of course the Spinsters are all controlled by the Guild who of course are all men.  

Adelice of course doesn't fall into the stereotype.  She's independent and has a mind of her own and won't let the Guild use her as their own personal puppet.  Her attitude is what so endeared her to me.  She was determined and yet cared deeply for her friend's well being.  No matter what the Guild does to her, she doesn't let them use her and her skills.  

And of course there's a bit of romance thrown in! While there were two guys in the story, there was really no competition between them, which I was soooo thankful for.  It would have just ruined it if it had turned into a legitimate love triangle.  And I really, really, REALLY liked the love interest.  He was just the most endearing guy.  There was a lot more than the sarcastic shell he projected.  And really it was his past that made him so different and consequently why I enjoyed his character so much.  

And oh boy the plot twist really kind of got me.  Okay well I guess there was kind of two of them; one of which I guessed way ahead in the story.   Throughout the entire book I was thinking this was an AU story.  Turns out, Earth is still kicking.  I'm really intrigued by how the author is going to explain the science of all this, because that's what weaving is; based on science.  And boy was that ending intense! And of course I'm dying for the sequel already.  

Overall I was just extremely impressed by the ingenuity and world building that went into this.  A very cool concept.  I'm eager for the next book! 

Friday, May 25, 2012

Cover Crazy (49)

Cover Crazy is a meme created by Tawni @ The Bookworms to share book covers that you are thrilled about. Well hey it's Friday again! Summer is already ruining my grasp on my week. :/ This week it's The Forsaken by Lisa M. Stasse! I came across the synopsis for this a while ago but at the time there was no cover.  Stumbled across it again and dang! I LOVE it! Kind of reminds me of the cover for Island by Aldus Huxley in how it's like a compilation of all these different things to make a larger image.  It's rather brilliant looking.  Can't wait to get my hands on this one! XD 

Review: Erasing Time

Synopsis: In this high-action and romantic futuristic adventure, there is no escape from the future for two contemporary girls pulled out of their own time.

When twins Sheridan and Taylor wake up 400 years in the future, they find a changed world: domed cities, no animals, and a language that’s so different, it barely sounds like English. And the worst news: They can’t go back home.

The twenty-fifth-century government transported the girls to their city hoping to find a famous scientist to help perfect a devastating new weapon. The moblike Dakine fights against the government, and somehow Taylor and Sheridan find themselves in the middle. The only way to elude them all is to trust Echo, a guy with secrets of his own. The trio must put their faith in the unknown to make a harrowing escape into the wilds beyond the city.

Full of adrenaline-injected chases and heartbreaking confessions, Erasing Time explores the strength of the bonds between twins, the risks and rewards of trust, and the hard road to finding the courage to fight for what you believe in.

My Review:  This is going to be one of those reviews where I'm still trying to figure out what I thought of the book.  I just can't seem to decide if I liked it or not.  The vast majority of the novel I was forcing myself to read it while the end had me wanting for more. It was just a peculiar read, so this is probably going to be a peculiar review.  

First of all the whole time jumping plot just seemed weak to me.  It's not an issue of plausibility, more so an issue with convincing the audience.  In a sci-fi novel time travel is perfectly okay because it is SCI-FI.  The genre umbrella's physically impossible things.  Granted, this book should probably be considered sci-fi, hell it's set in the future, but it just...I don't know- failed to convince me? The future world just lacked real depth. If you're going to plop two 21st century girls 400 years in the future I just think really detailed and in depth world building is required.  A lot of things have of course changed.  I applaud the author for thinking about the language differences.  Naturally they still speak english, but it has evolved so much that it's barely recognizable. So yes, that was well thought out.  But the fashion of the future-just- I couldn't take it seriously.  It seemed gimmicky and ridiculous.  I just can't take a character seriously when he has bright blue hair with a matching crescent moon on his face.  Can't.  Sorry. 

Also, the reason for Sheridan and Taylor being brought to the future seemed really weak to me as well.  Taylor is of  Stephen Hawking type level intelligence and apparently the future can't live without her.  Only problem is, that Sheridan got dragged along to the future with her.  The whole reason for them being there dealt with something that Taylor helped build, and yet I feel like I knew nothing about it.  I mean I have a beginners understanding of physics.  Maybe intermediate because I'm a little science nerd and like interstellar physics, but even with that I was sitting there going "how is this possible?" The author just kind of gave you basic facts and didn't explain anything.  It just kind of bugged me.  

I liked Sheridan and Taylor well enough.  Taylor was a bit of an annoying, condescending jerk, but she wasn't too terrible.  Then again, you never get her POV in the whole book, so I could be judging too harshly.  I even enjoyed Echo's POV a lot.  The one thing that I thought was done really well was the political atmosphere of the novel.  You have the thought controlling government, the corrupt Dakine who basically control the government, and the Doctor Worshippers who are supposedly mad.  The groups interactions with each other were pretty interesting and were very dynamic.  I thought it was well done.  

Ironically enough it wasn't until over half way through the novel when Sheridan and Taylor are pretty much on the run non-stop that it got GOOD.  I went from having to force myself to read, to forcing myself to go to bed.  Suddenly the story was gripping, and interesting and pulled some very big twists that I didn't even have an inkling about.  That being said, I was severely disappointed that it ended where it did.  I felt like the story was JUST getting started and bam it's over.  

I think pacing was my biggest issue.  If this had been paced correctly then those little things that bugged me wouldn't have made as big as an impact.  I'll still probably read the sequel (because with that ending there BETTER be a sequel), and truly I feel like this story is just getting started.  So I'm gonna stick with it.  So really, I have no opinion with good vs bad.  I'll just leave it as this story is promising and you need to read it for yourself to form an opinion.  

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Review: The Girl of Fire and Thorn

Synopsis: Elisa is the chosen one. 

But she is also the younger of two princesses, the one who has never done anything remarkable. She can't see how she ever will. 

Now, on her sixteenth birthday, she has become the secret wife of a handsome and worldly king—a king whose country is in turmoil. A king who needs the chosen one, not a failure of a princess.

And he's not the only one who seeks her. Savage enemies seething with dark magic are hunting her. A daring, determined revolutionary thinks she could be his people's savior. And he looks at her in a way that no man has ever looked at her before. Soon it is not just her life, but her very heart that is at stake.

Elisa could be everything to those who need her most. If the prophecy is fulfilled. If she finds the power deep within herself. If she doesn’t die young.

Most of the chosen do.

My Review: 
I bought this book forever ago because everyone said it was really good.  It has been sitting on my shelf for a good 4 months.  If not longer.  I blame college.  Anyway, I finally got around to reading it and I cannot believe it took me that long to pick up this book.  I was glued to this from beginning to end.  I absolutely freakin adored this.  

I think the thing that struck me most about this novel was Elisa.  She was so far removed from your typical YA MC that it was truly astounding.  Her appearance is similar to that of hispanics and she's not stick thin.  Most of the comments from other characters is that she is fat.  And really, I loved her all the more for it.  So often in the book world all characters are white.  Or if there are ethnic characters the cover often doesn't stay true to their ethnicity.  It's this lingering phobia of race and ethnicity that weaves it's way into the modern novel.  Society has it in its head that everyone should be white, thin, and pretty.  Elisa single handedly smashed every single one of those stereotypes to smithereens.  And breaking stereotypes is not the least of her accomplishments.  I think Elisa as a character is a great role model for young girls. It just goes to show how shallow most people are, and true beauty comes from within.  I could probably talk forever about this, but if you've read it or plan on reading it, you'll understand what I mean. 

The world building was just amazing as well.  I greatly enjoyed the almost Roman Catholic influence on the cultures of this world.  The theology as well as the concept of being God's chosen.  Even the Godstone was pretty cool and unique.  If this had been purely a religious heavy book I'd have hated it, but thankfully this was not the case.  Carson did an impeccable job of weaving adventure, conflict, magic, and romance all into this story and still incorporate a strong theological foundation for the world without getting preachy.  It truly was just perfectly balanced.  

All of the characters were just wonderful.  Usually I can pick out a few that lacked fleshing out or three dimensionality.  It's so easy to make secondary characters flat, but I can honestly say there was not one character that I didn't feel like was well rounded.  I felt like everyone had their part to play, but they each had their own motivations and inner turmoils for the things they did.  The characters I started out hating ended up surprising me with acts of valor or kindness.  The cast was just truly remarkable.  

The only complaint I really have against this novel is that the author killed off my favorite character.  Seriously, like the most lovable, sweet, sensitive, and brave character I've ever had the pleasure of reading, and they get killed off in the first book.  I sobbed.  Hard core.  And I don't even feel embarrassed over crying over a fictional character because I bawled my eyes out when Hedwig died in HP. I get emotionally attached.  Still, it crushed me.  I feel like it crushed me more than it did Elisa.  I had to literally stop reading and go to work to calm myself down and stop the flow of tears.  God I'm getting sad all over again just writing this.  :( 

Enough of my blubbering.  Moving on. 

I think it's safe to say that I absolutely loved this book.  I will praise it up and down till I convince everyone to read it.   Or at least my friends and family who read.  I might be satisfied with that.  The only plus side for me having read this so late in the game is that now I just have to wait till September for the sequel! Or if I am extremely lucky before then.  Truly though, new favorite book for 2012.  (It being published in 2011 is besides the point) :P 

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Review: Shadow and Bone

Synopsis: Surrounded by enemies, the once-great nation of Ravka has been torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a swath of near impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh. Now its fate may rest on the shoulders of one lonely refugee. Alina Starkov has never been good at anything. But when her regiment is attacked on the Fold and her best friend is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power that saves his life—a power that could be the key to setting her war-ravaged country free. Wrenched from everything she knows, Alina is whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling. Yet nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. With darkness looming and an entire kingdom depending on her untamed power, Alina will have to confront the secrets of the Grisha…and the secrets of her heart. 

My Review: I didn't really know what to expect going into this.  It definitely sounded like something I would enjoy but I hadn't really heard much about it.  Nonetheless I was still excited to read it.  I don't know why I ever doubted it for a second.  It sucks you in almost immediately.  The world is just intriguing.  People called Grisha are bound to the service of the king, each of them having a different set of skills.  There are Grisha who can summon wind, bend metal, and even rend your heart from your chest.   They are something foreign to the rest of the population and even more so to Alina.  Alina is a cartographer's apprentice in the First Army, and she's never been particularly good at anything.  Her best friend has always outshone her.  When they are sent to cross the Fold, a nightmarish place full of deadly creatures, it is Alina that saves them, though she has no idea how.  She's now drawn the attention of the Darkling, the head of the Grisha, and is shocked to discover that he thinks she is Grisha too.  Alina is swept away from her friends and the life she knew to start training as one of the people she used to fear.

I absolutely loved this world.  The Grisha were fascinating to say the least.  They are not witches or wizards and do not perform magic; actually they get highly offended at the word.  They are practitioners of what they call the Small Science. An interesting concept to look at magic in a scientific manner.  Just like any elite group there is a certain level of snobbery and cliques.  Nonetheless, Alina makes a few friends amongst the Grisha.  Eventually she even starts to accept her new abilities and thinks of herself as one of them.  Though court life is full of glimmer and shine, there is something a lot darker lurking beneath all the pleasantries.  Ravka is at war with the surrounding countries, the King is practically as useful as a child, and the Abbott is a sinister presence always ready to corner Alina when she is alone.  Even more distressing to Alina is that her best friend, Mal, has failed to answer any of her letters.

Alina was an amazing MC.  She's kind of awkward and can never do anything very well, but that never stops her from trying.  She literally exhausts herself with her studies, and keeps pushing herself. Once her powers fully flourish, Alina finally becomes the young woman she's been striving to be.  She is no longer held back by her past and embraces her newfound power.  For the first time in her life she feels like she has a purpose.  She can help destroy the Shadow Fold and free her country from the horrors of war.  She even feels desired for the first time.  Always that skinny awkward girl that most guys refer to as "Twig" she's never felt confident in herself.  When the Darkling, the most powerful man in the country, shows an interest in her things start to look up.

The Darkling was just as interesting.  And yes you never get to know his name.  He is the Darkling.  I'm such a sucker for dark, quiet, misunderstood types and I fell hook, line, and sinker for this guy.  I really thought that he was seeing Alina for who she really was and liked her for it.  I don't think I have ever been so drastically wrong about a character's motivations.  Anyway I still remain firm in the belief that there is more to the Darkling than anyone thinks.  He's such a mysterious figure that you just know that he has some other deeper issues going on.

And the ending to this! I was on the edge of my seat for probably the last fifty pages.  I couldn't have put it down if I wanted to.  I am absolutely stoked for the sequel.  Shadow and Bone was such an amazing start to a wonderful new trilogy (I'm assuming) and I highly recommend it.  It's full of magic, intrigue, dark forces, and a bit of a love story.  Absolutely top notch.