Warrior of the Wild by Tricia Levenseller

Warrior of the Wild

Warrior of the Wild by Tricia Levenseller

My rating: 2 of 5 stars


Very simple, very short, very shallow, very YA. In other words: mleh.

I don’t really understand why YA publishers keep doing this…putting is so much efforts and hype, making beautiful covers and lots of promotion for something that has practically no substance inside? Seems to me like it should stand against the pride of anyone working in book publishing, but oh well…
This book is supposed to be about almost-adults being outcast and dealing with deadly dangers and tasks, but it reads like about a group of 12 y.o. kids playing around at heroes.
This story is not bad. There’s just nothing to it. Same can be said about the quality of writing.
The plot turns are extremely predictable, the characters are flat and stop feeling authentic because of the way they speak time after time, a lot of the settings (like ‘spears’ being old weapons and no one knowing how to use them) are weird and unplausible, the insta-love, the gay sidekick, the main character who is naive, self-absorbed, and uninteresting…

‘It’s not about giving in to the first boy who ever acted interested.’
Yes, it is. And you’ve done it twice.

But this book also doesn’t really last long enough for any of this to really really get on the nerves…so ‘mleh’ remains is the most fitting description. So sad when the cover is the only really good thing about the book.



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Shadow of The Fox by Julie Kagawa

Shadow of The Fox (Shadow of the Fox, #1)

Shadow of The Fox by Julie Kagawa

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


The first impression is very simple—reading this is like watching anime in text. Not just because it’s Japanese. It’s the whole imagery, concepts, attitudes, flow of the narrative. I suppose it’s probably a very different book for you when you don’t actually live in Japan and feel like every image from this book you’ve already seen somewhere before. But I’m at least glad that this at least was written by someone who knew what they were writing about.
I also suppose that his ‘anime’ nature fits very well with the YA trend of mixing childish with gruesome deaths and cringy concepts (of people not having free will and being tortured in general). And this is really all the description I can come up with: it’s like anime, childish and bloody at the same time, full of yokai monsters and talk of samurai honor; cringy enough to keep me from really liking what is going on.
Minus points for the cliff-hanger ending, as predictable as that turn was, but plus point for the Epilogue—that bit was very satisfying.
On one hand, I might be curious about what will happen to the characters from now on, on the other I don’t know if I’m actually willing to read two more books to find out…



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Scarlet by Marissa Meyer

Scarlet (The Lunar Chronicles, #2)

Scarlet by Marissa Meyer

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


This book gave me too much anxiety.
Not that it means it’s a bad book. I suppose for those who like to be kept on their toes while reading and constantly worry who will betray who, who will give up on who, who will have to sacrifice what, how much longer will we need to suffer interactions that involve the evil queen that is too evil and too powerful, how many will die… it’s a big plus.
Yet, personally, I don’t need even a milligram of extra anxiety in my life and it made this book damn hard to read (I had to put it down a couple of times and read 2 other books while reading this one to dilute it).
Though this book does introduce a character that I feel like will be my most favorite in the series (but now I’m also feeling anxiety regarding the fact that they might be killed off in near future).



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Heartstone by Elle Katharine White

Heartstone (Heartstone #1)

Heartstone by Elle Katharine White

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


This re-telling had a lot of potential, as an idea, but some things just didn’t work… The contrast between ‘grumpy and misunderstood’ persona and ‘lovable’ persona of the hero was just not represented organically. The change between the two personas was too drastic, and the fact that Alastair constantly referred to common people like trash and said ‘loving someone like her is beneath him’ was too much and should not be forgiven/explained by temper. A lot of his actions didn’t look like something that could be explained by grumpiness and temper, but in stead appeared to be genuine cruelty. It was overplayed and not believable. In fact, there were a number points about the writing I’d like to pick on… Like the fact that the hero was constantly referred to by his family name, even in places where it felt unnatural, because there were multiple members of his family present in the scene.
The first half of this book was very mild and slow paced, presenting dozens of little mysteries of ‘why could’ve that person said that/acted that way’ in a constant stream. In that classic style of the literature this takes as the basis. Unfortunately, I feel like half of them were not even addressed properly by the end of the book. It builds a lot of mysteries, and then drops them in a very anticlimactic way. Too many questions not nearly enough answers.
And the ending was too rushed and mangled. It was both too bloody and too trivial. As in, there were supposedly all these lives lost on the background, cities destroyed, and many Riders who were supposedly as strong as the main heroes dead where named characters survived, and it didn’t even look like we were supposed to care much.
The human nemesis was dealt with behind the scenes on the background which was a throw away.
In fact, I’m not sure what exactly were we supposed to care about at that point… the revenge story line was skipped over, most of the war was skipped over, the romance was mostly skipped over, weddings were skipped over… None of the events of the ending were really brought into focus, and collectively felt like a short summary, compared to the slow pace of the first half of the book.
Also, the ultimate sacrifice by the ‘love rival’ felt like an unfortunate plot choice. Another life just thrown away in a convenient way (how much cooler it would be if she just cut out herself from the worm instead, eh?).



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The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi

The Gilded Wolves (The Gilded Wolves, #1)

The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


This book genuinely surprised me. Mostly because I reached that point where I don’t really expect to ever like anything YA anymore.
This books is filled with sparks of something great that speak of real talent. (Personally, I think the author should just drop the YA and switch to full-scale adult fantasy.)
Each character is a fully developed separate entity, and it is very clear when the POV changes. Their backgrounds and personalities are detailed and captivating. Personally, as someone with ASD, I appreciated the insight into Zofia’s mind. The world is complicated, with elaborate descriptions that sometimes feel even a bit too complicated, but I think it only makes it more attractive for the imagination. I loved many of the descriptions, especially the ones that included characters’ feelings about the landscape around them. The interactions between characters are great, even if there were a couple of times where they were overplayed for the sake of humor and broke the immersion.
I’m not a fan of puzzle-mysteries or ‘heist action’ stories, but the writing and the characters kept me reading and kept me interested in this world.
I have mixed feelings about the composition of the ending and the related angst… the decisions made for a couple of human relationships and ‘down-up-further down’ emotion structure were not particularly pleasant, but somehow I want to hope that some things will be righted in the next books.
Definitely a series to follow.



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Amber & Dusk by Lyra Selene

Amber & Dusk

Amber & Dusk by Lyra Selene

My rating: 2 of 5 stars


Unlikable heroine, cocktail of predictable YA tropes, and ‘broken glass’ dialogues.

Originally, I thought I would rate this book somewhat higher, because I had this idea that allowances should be made for the fact that this is a debut novel, and because I should be kinder… But then I experienced this profound sense of relief when I finally finished this book and was released from the feeling of nausea that had accompanied me all the time I was reading it, and realized that no… Sorry, but no.

Considering the fact that this book was actually picked for at least two book subscription boxes in December… it was an utter disappointment. The only positive thing I can say about this book is that the writing wasn’t bad.
But the subject…
Just before (previous month) I was watching people rage about the “bury your gays” trope in another recent YA novel, because everyone is so sick of it, … aaaand here we go again. And this is not even the biggest or worst ‘YA cookie-cutter’ trope of this book.
– A pretty heroine with some sort of gift, who is also ignorant about all and everything? Check.
– Lost princess who grew up hidden by others? Check.
– Court intrigues and beautiful nobles who torture the said heroine? Check.
– A cruel beautiful boy with tortured soul, who is mean to the heroine but they’ll kiss anyway? Check.
– A ‘kind of’ love triangle? Check.
– An ‘extra cruel’ monarch who gets off on torture and murder? Check.
We can go on and on.
I don’t know if we were supposed to dislike the heroine by design, but I got sick of her ‘I deserve better! I’m entitled to it! I’m worthy!’ whining after first few chapters. And she never shuts up about it. The first 70% of this book is her screaming at various people about how she ‘deserves’ all the things she imagined to exist in the court, literally everyone telling her that she doesn’t know what she’s talking about, that the reality is not like the world of her imagination, and her screaming back that they’re just trying to keep her from things that are hers by some kind of right. She was probably supposed to be fearless ans witty, but she appears to be no more that an arrogant brat who tries to mouth back to everyone in a nasty-ish way and beam with pride about it.
Speaking of which, most of dialogs felt unnatural and incomplete. I can’t even put my finger on it, but the dialogues just didn’t work, the lines didn’t fit seamlessly and didn’t convey enough.

Books like this make me seriously consider if I should just unsubscribe from all my book boxes and free myself from having to engage with this ‘YA fashion’ of same books about palace intrigues, cruel princes, and tortured heroines. At least I can perhaps hope that we’ll leave this fashion in 2018 and never come back to it again.





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