LEGEND: A Book Review

To summarize my feelings of this book: “thoroughly meh.”

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Legend by Marie Lu is one of those books that I didn’t read when it first came out because it felt too popular, and that I only decided to read now because I miss dystopia trilogies (seriously…. where did they go? Hello? Where are you all hiding?).  It didn’t take me too long to read, but I can’t say that I’m impressed with it. I found it to be absolutely nothing special.

Brief summary: June is a military prodigy. Day is a street rat and criminal that the government is desperate to seize. June gets the opportunity to go undercover to gather intel about Day.  Along the way, both June and Day discover some governmental secrets and begin to piece together the reality of their society.

Sounds just like every other dystopia, doesn’t it? And it is: but that’s not a fault. It follows the tropes of the genre, and introduces one of the few governmental weapons of mass destruction that dystopias often have (no spoilers, but it’s not that hard to figure out). The plot itself isn’t outrageous– you won’t be rushing through it– but it’s interesting enough.

My major problem is that… it feels like nothing happens.

I get that this is the first book in a series, and it’s setting up for the rest that follow, but it’s really rather dull. The reason my summary is so basic is because I don’t know what else to say: even while reading it, I felt like nothing was happening. I suppose “dry” would be the best word to describe my reading experience. When action did happen, it was confusing to follow, and over in a flash.

And don’t get me started on the “romance.”

Maybe I’m just a slowburn-or-bust kind of gal, but I found the romance to be incredibly rushed while everything else was slow, slow, slow. Is it even romance? “Lust” is a better word. It’s the crappy lust/love-at-first-sight kind of relationship too. Ugh. I didn’t like it, and I also didn’t really like them as individuals either. They fell flat to me, but at least they were interesting and unique enough to keep the plot going.

As I stated at the beginning, I found Legend to be “meh.” It’s nothing special, and I’m not reaching for the sequel. I haven’t decided if I’ll give the sequel a shot or not yet, but I really hope it steps up its game.

2.5 plagues out of 5. 

CHAOS WALKING TRILOGY: A Book Review

I’m about 10 years late to the party, but let’s talk about Chaos Walking!!

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It only took two short months for Patrick Ness to become one of my favourite authors. His novels, the YA ones at least, never disappoint. The Knife of Never Letting Go, the first in Ness’s trilogy, was his first young adult novel, and I am forever grateful he began writing YA because holy crap this series is a ride.

Summary for those of you who have somehow missed this book like I did:

The Knife of Never Letting Go is about a boy named Todd who lives in a world where everyone can hear everyone’s thoughts in what is referred to as “the Noise.” Oh, and the virus that gave everyone the noise also killed off all the women. Todd, the youngest boy in his town at just a few weeks before age 13 when he’ll become a man, finds a spot where there is no Noise: everything is quiet. He heads back to his home, and his parents immediately send him on the run, no explanation given except that Todd needs to leave now. And thus begins the chase.

The Knife is a great novel but it’s in the second and third books, The Ask and the Answer and Monsters of Men, where this trilogy becomes art. This series is highly morally grey. It makes you question what is “for the greater good” when everyone is simply working for themselves: including our beloved hero, Todd. You will question everything reading this series. It is so hard to distinguish what is right, and what is wrong, and what the truth is, and if there even is a truth. It changed my perception of everything, and presented my absolute favourite kind on conflict: how can we possibly trust our own judgement on right and wrong?

Along with absolutely breathtaking themes, this series is fast past. Seriously. It was a piece of cake to read over 100 pages a day, and often, you’d read them without even noticing the time go back. Your eyes run across the page, bouncing from word to word, as you try to discover the secrets and figure out what’s going on.

If anything, read this series for the third narrative voice that appears in book three (no spoilers from me but holy crap x2 this character is one of the most interesting I have ever encountered in any work of fiction).

If you need a second reason to read it, read it for the ending. I’m tearing up just thinking about it. It had be screaming: I had to put the book down and pace around my room before reading the last few pages, and the very finally words had be sobbing…..

These characters may not capture your heart (they captured mine), and it might not rush to the top of your favourites list (it did for me), but this is a series that demands to be read. Question your own reality, your own choices, and those of everyone around you, and read this series. You won’t regret it.

Did I mention there’s a talking dog?

5 knives out of 5.

MORE THAN THIS: A Book Review

I highly recommend you read this book, and I highly recommend you stop reading this review.

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Why, might you ask, would a book reviewer ask you to stop reading their review? The reason is twofold: because a) I just finished reading literally 2 minutes ago and I’m kind of speechless and because b) to say anything at all might give it all away.

Recently, I read A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness and I loved it. More Than This was on my long list of books-to-read and I realized oh, hey, same author. Let’s give this a go. My sister, whose favourite book is A Monster Calls, told me she didn’t really like More Than This. I, on the other hand, absolutely adore it. Here’s why:

Reason Number One: Seth as a character. I love this kid. In fact, I love all of the characters introduced, but Seth is definitely my favourite. It is his guilt that fuels the story, which is similar to the guilt in A Monster Calls, but it’s used in a very different way. I felt what Seth felt the entire story. I felt his guilt and I felt his shame and I felt his love and I felt his confusion. Oh boy, did I feel his confusion. When writing a story like this, I think it’s extremely important that the readers and characters are equal confused, and try to understand this world together. I’m still confused, but in a way that is wholly satisfying because I feel like knowing ruins the purpose of this story. Which brings me to Reason Number Two: the themes. I won’t say anything about them, because I think it’s something you need to discover for yourself, but this book made me feel so much that it made me numb (these books tend to be my favourites– I like feeling empty after reading because I’m so full of emotion I can’t process anything). This book got me, and made me feel, just for a moment, that maybe life is worth all the pain.

Yes, okay, this book does come across as very similar, in some ways, to a popular franchise from the early 2000s (if you really want to know, it’s The Matrix) but I don’t think that’s a bad thing. I think Ness does enough to make this novel his own and I think the similarities just strengthen the importance of the story. Maybe it’s just because I’m into that kind of story and that kind of world, or maybe it’s because the book is good enough for it to not matter. Either way, I still found the novel to be unique, important, and refreshing.

Reason Number Three: Reading this is reading two novels in one. There are two stories going on, the “before” and “after” so to speak. These stories belong to two different genres, but they are woven together in a way that makes the entire book feel whole. Personally, I preferred one story above the other (it’s the before story) and would have loved just a novel about that, but I think without it, the after story would have been lacking. Both parts need each other, and both contribute to the overall theme of the work: it’s worth it. It’s always worth it.

So I love this book. Maybe I’m the only one, or maybe I’m a voice among thousands. Either way, pick it up, experience it for yourselves, and let its words and meaning seep into your soul. Maybe, if you’re lucky, it will impact you like it impacted me.

5 dreams out of 5. 

(also, can I get a HELL YEAH for a gay protagonist in a story that isn’t entirely about the fact that he’s gay?)

NEVER LET ME GO: A Book Review

I went into this book knowing next to nothing about it– and you should too.

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Never Let Me Go is one of those novels that is achingly beautiful, so much so that it almost hurts to read. At the same time, the prose is like butter, easily sliding from page to page. It’s a book you can binge, but it’s also a book that you read 20 pages and then sit down because you need to think about its implications. It is heavy in topic but light in prose which makes it the perfect book to curl up with in this post-holiday season.

As I said before, I went into this book knowing almost nothing about it, as my friends on Goodreads informed me I should too. I knew its genre, and that was it (spoiler— I knew it had dystopia elements to it). I almost wish I hadn’t known even that, because the reveal is so slow and so natural. While you know something is off almost immediately, it takes quite some time for you to realize why nothing feels right. What I love most is that it isn’t a big reveal, or plot twist. Kathy, the narrator, speaks to you as though she is telling an oral story: she assumes you know the world she lives in as she does. Yes, she explains things to you (“I don’t know if it was like this for you…” type of explanations), but the only time we get true details about this world is when we see how they affected or altered young Kathy. In a way, then, we get the sense that Kathy is not telling the story for our benefit, but for her own. It is not a story about society, but a story about relationships, and why we belief or accept the things we do. It’s a story about love, and the many forms it takes. It’s a story that shows how our childhoods and our upbringings entirely shape our future.The ending is not optimistic, but nor is it pessimistic: it’s simply a story of how life is for these people. And that is what makes it beautiful.

Read this novel. Do not read a summary, do not spoil yourself. Read it. Surround yourself with it. Think about it and wonder: is this story really so much different than your own?

5 cassette tapes out of 5.

READY PLAYER ONE: A Book Review

This might be the most fun book ever written.

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Ready Player One by Ernest Cline is a novel that will make you nostalgic for a life you never lived. While this story is set in the future, it is focused on the past. Particularly, the 1980s. Now, I was born in 1995, but I love the 80s; there’s something about that decade that pulls me to it and completely fascinates me. The characters in this novel feel the same way, as they obsess over obscure and long forgotten 80s television, film, and video games. It’s strange, reading a dystopia that feels like it happened 30 years ago. But maybe that’s what makes it so brilliant.

So the plot of the novel is a basic video game plot, when it comes down to it. Wade is the underdog hero, and IOI are the super powerful villains that somehow he must beat. If you’ve played a video game or watched a movie, then you know that “somehow” is going to involve a lot of team work and a lot of outrageously genius plots. It’s a great read, both fun and exciting, but there’s a darkness that swims just underneath the surface. It doesn’t take much to realize that, as much as you want to sink into this world, maybe it’s best that you… don’t.

For you see, planet Earth is in ruins. Life is so terrible and reality so disgusting that everyone has retreated into virtual reality. The life that these characters life is, essentially, fictional. They live in a video game. But if they’re living inside it, and portraying themselves in it, then is it any less real than life here on Earth?

That, my friends, is the true message in Ready Player One. Sure, it’s a totally fun nostalgic adventure, but it’s also highly philosophical. It questions what is real, and what is truth. It makes you see what the internet is doing to not only ourselves, but to the planet. It shows how prejudice and preconceptions ruin any chance for freedom, but how something as simple as a video game can be the escape we all need. Freedom, it seems, is only attainable in this virtual reality, where people can be whoever they want to be. But at the same time, is this freedom really living? Is it worth its cost?

Ready Player One is fantastic. FANTASTIC. It’s fast-paced and adventurous, but it’s also kind of sad. But the best part is that this is a future I can actually see happening.

I’m not sure if that makes me happy or sad.

4 video games out of 5.