Learning To Trust A Series Again: Prodigy by Marie Lu Review

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Injured and on the run, it has been seven days since June and Day barely escaped Los Angeles and the Republic with their lives. Day is believed dead having lost his own brother to an execution squad who thought they were assassinating him. June is now the Republic’s most wanted traitor. Desperate for help, they turn to the Patriots – a vigilante rebel group sworn to bring down the Republic. But can they trust them, or have they unwittingly become pawns in the most terrifying of political games?

***

PREVIOUS BETRAYAL OF LEGEND

If you have read my review of Legend, the first book in this series you’ll know I had…less than stellar things to say about it. To say I’d rather roast my left leg while its still attached to my hip than read Legend is an understatement. So, as expected I went into this book wanting to hate it.

But, despite my wariness, it disappeared almost immediately and I fell in love with it.

The plot kicked in straight from the get-go and we finally leave the grey buildings and dark alleys of the first book behind and step into the wider and more colourful world of the Republic and the Colonies. The plot actually surprised me, with dramatic twists and violent turns, which is shocking coming out of Legend, the driest and simplest YA plot template that anyone could follow.

It’s a lot cleverer than I could give it credit. For a 2013 book its message about government-controlled news and media is strange to look at through the eyes of modern day with all the ‘fake news’ that surrounds politics. It would even seem almost preachy if published today.

However, it’s not without its issues: there is no real distinction between Day’s and June’s voices in the chapters, so it’s easy to be confused, especially when they are together. Also, it does not hold your hand in terms of returning characters from Legend, half of which I still, even after reading Prodigy, have no clue who they are.

But damn was it good! It had me on the edge of my seat, face pressed against the page, I was so invested. I can’t wait to read the next one!

“(A)ll it takes is one generation to brainwash a population and convince them that reality doesn’t exist.”

~FAKE NEWS, ABSOLUTELY FAKE NEWS

 

LOVE THE MAIN TWO, THE REST NOT SO MUCH

I came to love our two protagonists so much. I love how head over heels they are for each other, it’s adorable despite the half-assed love triangle we’ll get to later. I hated them in the first book because they just fell in love for no reason and while that still is the case, the gap between the books made it seem less jarring.

I genuinely felt for them when they were in danger, (my heart was ripped out of my ribcage at one point, it was so intense)! But I didn’t feel any attachment to any other character, I don’t care about Day’s little brother nor about Tess.

“We’re in this together, right?” he whispers. “You and me? You want to be here, yeah?” There’s guilt in his questions. “Yes,” I reply. “I chose this.” Day pulls me close enough for our noses to touch. “I love you.”

~You two are so CUTE

 

THE TENSION AND UNPREDICTCALITY

The black and white characters of the first book become greyed in this one. There is a lot more complexity to the majority of them that it makes them feel like real people. And it is not a lie to say I couldn’t see where the book was going.

My initial thought for the first half of the book was that the two main characters would be unable to communicate (even if it was contrived reasoning) and once again find themselves fighting against each other despite apparently being in love. However, I’m glad to say this didn’t happen. While yes, the first half of the book Day and June find their ideals at odds, it feels warranted and I completely understand each characters reasonings.

It was at the point the book took its turn from the predictable, I realised I was enthralled by it. It was no cookie cutter plot that I could guess the outcome of. I had no idea where it was going. And my dream came true: they finally had a sit down and talked about everything. There was actual communication people! Too many books rely on characters just not talking and instead of that, they’ve actual that a discuss, taken the hard route with everyone as the enemy and that is a more interesting story than anything else.

 

DAMN LOVE TRIANGLE

But unfortunately, the book cannot run away from the bloody love triangle. I’m glad there is no ‘will they-won’t they’ plot line, as it’s in too many YA books. But it’s like Day and June are the most beautiful and ethereal people in the whole world. Why does everyone keep falling for them?

And Tess…why?? Seriously I hate love conflicts, because Tess would be making some good points about June if she didn’t appear to be madly in love with Day. Just STOP IT!! Tess is a good character and is just treated as a half-hearted love interest, its disappointing because there was no indication of this in the first book.

 

THE ENDING: SO CLOSE YET SO FAR

Overall, I loved this book…

…And then the ending happened…

Just why? The ending has a sad twist anyway, but they COULDN’T COMMUNICATE. LAST FIVE MINUTES AND THEY COULDN’T TALK. Honestly it was such a let-down and I WON’T STAND FOR IT. I’ll still read the next one because I love these characters and want to see where they go, but just at the last hurdle it had to annoy me.

 

“He is beauty, inside and out.
He is the silver lining in a world of darkness.
He is my light.”

~You deserve better after that, June

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The Curse of Fantasy YA (Review)

A royal wedding should be a celebration, with fireworks and dancing till dawn. But for General’s daughter Kestrel, betrothed to the Crown Prince, marriage is a trap.

Just as they fell in love, Arin became her enemy. Kestrel aches to tell him the truth – that her engagement was the price she paid to save his life. But in a world of lies and intrigue, how can she trust him if she doesn’t even trust herself? The truth will come out, and when it does, Kestrel and Arin will learn the high cost of their crime…

Winner's crime

I have a confession. A horrible confession.

I hate the YA fantasy genre….

Okay granted it’s not something I keep secret but my point is, is that I expected all fantasy YA books to turn out the same. Same plot, same beats, same surprises. And this is because what feels like the same story a thousand times over. So, entering a YA book, I’m nervous and wary.

So, I feel I have to apologise to Winner’s crime because while it’s a good book, I can’t escape the worry that it’s plotline will be the same as every one of its pretentious. It’s good, even I’ll admit that. This world is immersive, it’s characters diverse. It was an interesting read for sure. Let’s try and go through it’s good point without being too biased.

  • Main protagonist: I like Kestrel, and really do understand the horrible situation she’s being put in. I like Arin for bad reasons: I like him because he isn’t a carbon copy of Kestrel, he’s actually kind of dumb, which made him interesting, but really, I never felt sucked into his storyline like Kestrel’s.
  • There’s a reason they can’t be together: I won’t go too into this, but the fact that they can’t be happily together is simple, common sense, actually. Doesn’t make it hurt any less but at least it has context.
  • It doesn’t really suffer from middle book syndrome…maybe: While the ending did essentially move the plot backwards, stuff did happen in this book and not all of it went to waste.

So yeah those are my main good points with the book, but all of that is over shadow by the looming threat of a predicable plot. I don’t want it to be predicable but…it is. It’s pretty and written beautiful but it’s predicable and I’m so afraid the next one will just ruin it all with the same finale that’s just like every other YA novel. I hope it’s not.

Only one way to find out…

In the end I’d recommend this as a great starting point for YA fantasy, it just shouldn’t be your 100th book.

 

What do you think? Would you read it? Have you read it? Comment below!

Book Review: Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski

For those of you who do know, (and if you don’t you can read this) I recently read Legend by Marie Lu and I didn’t particularly like it…and by that, I mean I hated it. So much that when another YA novel about a rebellion, with a boy leading it and a girl working for the evil government siding with him for ‘love’ with godawfully short chapters, popped up, I was ready to hate again. So, when that didn’t happen and in fact I fell in love with it, needless to say I was kind of confused by Winner’s curse by another Marie, this time Marie Rutkoski.

So PLOT: As a general’s daughter in a vast empire that revels in war and enslaves those it conquers. Kestrel has two choices: she can join the military or get married. Kestrel has other ideas.

One day, she is startled to find a kindred spirit in Arin, a young slave up for auction. Following her instinct, Kestrel buys him – and for a sensational price that sets the society gossips talking. it’s not long before she has to hide her growing love for Arin. But he, too, has a secret and Kestrel quickly learns that the price she paid is much higher than she ever could have imagined.

Let’s start off with chapter length. I will admit that when I saw the first chapter was only twelve pages long I did throw the book at the wall out of fear of Dan Brown Syndrome infecting me. But really the chapter length is fine. Not great, but given how the rest of the story is something I love, I can live with it. And I do love the story, for a start the book feels like it lives inside an actual world, there’s fashion, geography, gossip, hobbies, lives being lived rather than having the bare the minimum to live throughout the plot. And what makes the story are the characters. Jesus, I love them. They seem like real living, breathing people with lives. They have clear personalities and motivations. And I love the main pair’s chemistry. Sure, it’s rushed, but they know each other and have motives outside of being with each other.

Conclusion: I love this book, it has flaws, but they aren’t many, seriously I’m man enough to admit I cry at the end. Though the breasts on my chest may argue otherwise. It’s an awesome book that you should definitely read.

Legend By Marie Lu

So, Legend by Marie Lu a sci-fi YA about a dysfunction dystopia where a young boy is hunted down by the establishment for unknown reasons. Could this be the new and exciting twist on the genre? Is Donald Trump really not gonna start WW3?

I really wanted to like this book, partly because I didn’t want to have to kill myself from boredom. But no, it’s dull and predictable in such a way that it infuriates me. Actually, while writing this I feel the need to get up and punch a punching bag to dust and we’re only 102 words in.

Throughout the first quarter of the book I thought it could turn everything round, sure it was predictable but I could see how a twist could develop, but more on that later. What really made me believe that this book was going to be the same junk that tries to latch on the success of The Hunger Games and Divergent was the short chapters. When a chapter is less than two pages long, you realise its suffering from Dan Brown syndrome. Short chapters are meant to trick the reader into thinking its gripping because you can read ten chapter in five minutes, but in reality its lazy and frustrating to come across.

Okay, so what is the actually story? Set in the Republic of America, Daniel “Day” Altan Wing, a rebellious 15-year-old deemed as the most-wanted criminal in the country, stages a failed attempt to steal a medicine from the Central Hospital for his younger brother, Eden Baatar, who is infected by a plague. However, he ends up becoming accused of the death of Captain Metias Iparis. Metias’ younger sister, June, a 15-year-old prodigy, vows to seek out Day in revenge and kill him.

First off there’s no emotional connection with these characters, the two main characters are such Mary Sue archetype you can feel every beat of their perfect programming. There’s no human emotion in either of them. They don’t act like normal people which, shockingly, makes it hard to emphasize with them. Which also isn’t helped by the book trying to pull at the heartstrings in third act. You know you’re supposed to feel something but that’s so hard when the characters are just ‘insert strong character here’ types.

So, most of the book June is trying to hunt down Day for murdering her brother and this is where the book could have, well not shined, but at least surprised me. She could has killed Day for murdering her brother and the story could have continued with her finding out more secrets of the Republic. But nope, she can’t bring herself to do it, she feels compelled to help him. And it’s not because he didn’t do it, nope it’s because as soon as she meets him, she sees something different in him. Just Jesus Christ.

And this is the book’s main problems it the same as every YA sci-fi, just ticking the boxes off. Strong (meaning no weaknesses) orphaned protagonists who are somehow special, an evil corrupt government to fight against, joining rebellion and becoming the figurehead of said rebellion, a love at first sight relationship, which makes me want to grab the collars of the horny teenagers and shake some sense into them. And Legend has two sequels which I’m guessing will be just as easy to predict but that’s something I’ve got to find out. (Kill me).