Posted in book review

Caraval: Reviewed

Caraval (Caraval, #1)

Caraval (Caraval, book 1) by Stephanie Garber

Genres/Descriptors: fantasy; YA

Publication: 2017

Pages: 407 (hardcover)

Trigger/Content Warnings: child abuse, physical and psychological abuse, attempted/threatened sexual assault/rape, sexual harassment, kidnapping, blood, murder, suicide

Check it out on Goodreads


What’s it about?

Scarlett and her younger sister Tella live on the island of Trisda with their abusive father. They grew up hearing stories of the magical Caraval, but now that Scarlett is engaged to be married to a man she’s never met, she thinks she’ll never be able to experience Caraval. But, at least she’ll be able to get herself and her sister away from their father.

Days before her wedding, an invitation to Caraval arrives, finally. Tella gets some help from a mysterious sailor to take her and Scarlett away, to Caraval. Once they arrive, Tella is taken by the creator of Caraval–Legend–and whoever finds her, will win the game, and one wish.

It’s only a game, but Scarlett can’t help feeling that it’s not. Something about this year’s game feels too personal, too dangerous. With five nights to find her sister, time is short and Scarlett can’t help but get swept up in the game, unsure of what’s real and what’s just a performance.


Review:

Okay… *takes a deep, calming breath* This is going to get long. I mean really, really long.

I went into this knowing that it was not going to be like The Night Circus. I remember it being marketed as something for fans of TNC, but I knew from reviews that it was nothing like that book. Still, I gave myself another couple of years to let the hype die down a bit, as well as time to let reviews fade from my memory a bit so they wouldn’t influence my opinion of it as I read it. I wish I’d listened to the negative reviews and passed on this one :/

I’ll try to keep this spoiler free until the end, where there will be a spoiler warning.

First of all, the characters. Oh my gods, Scarlett was definitely too stupid to live. She never learned, and I didn’t care about her at all. All of the characters felt a bit flat to me, and I think I only kind of liked one character (who was only in like 2-3 scenes I think, and I’m blanking on her name). We’re supposed to believe that Scarlett loves Tella more than anything in the world, but I never got that impression. We were told (over and over again) that all Scarlett wanted was to find her sister, to save her sister, but her actions didn’t really support that most of the time. And she was so freaking boring.

And oh my gods, Tella. *takes a calming breath* I have never hated a character that quickly before (less than 50 pages in), and I hated her throughout the entire book. Tella was a horrible person, and an even worse sister. She was manipulative and selfish and I hated everything about her. Not that we really got to know her, but what little we saw of her was not good.

The entire story is supposed to be about Scarlett and Tella and their sisterly bond, but neither of them honestly seemed to care about the other their wants/needs. Instead, each tried to force their own desires onto the other. And where is the trust? They each seem much happier taking the word of strangers. More on all of this in the spoilery bits at the end, ugh.

The other characters were no better. Their father was literally just child-abuse personified, that’s it. I’m not saying you can’t hate a character for being an abuser, but that was all there was to him and his personality. He was an abuser, full-stop. There was no depth at all to him, despite the attempts to shove some in by the memories of how he hadn’t always been that way. (I also really didn’t like the way it was implied that it was Scarlett and Tella’s mother’s fault for his behavior, because she left them.) Oh, and let’s not forget that he gave his daughter to a man and basically told the man to go ahead and have his way with her. Against her will. Yeah.

Then there was Julian, who was just awful. His behavior toward Scarlett was gross, especially early on, and honestly made me think of Edward Cullen in a better light when I mentally compared the two. The only thing I know about Julian, besides his name and role in Caraval, is that he’s apparently hot and muscular? So hot that an engaged character falls in love with him in less than a week, despite knowing nothing about him. That’s it.

The plot: Where is it? This story is so convoluted, and nothing is real (but some things are!), and it just keeps switching from “This is the truth!” to “No, actually, THIS is the truth!” and back and forth throughout the entire book. I just don’t care. I wanted to care, but I just couldn’t. I think an effort was made to keep the reader guessing, but it failed.

The writing was not the worst, but I feel like there was an attempt made to make it beautiful, and it just turned out to be kind of a mess. You can’t fake beautiful writing, and I might have actually enjoyed this (slightly) more if not for the forced flowery-ness. It was just way over the top, and seemed pretty pointless. I kept thinking that it felt more like middle grade trying to be YA. Not that middle grade is bad, because it’s not. But this just felt like it was written for a younger audience, either middle grade or maaaybe the bottom end of YA. Does that make sense?

But how about the world? I feel like this is a world that could have been so interesting, but we actually don’t get to experience much of it. While we are wandering through Caraval, we’re stuck in Scarlett’s head, which didn’t help. We see almost nothing that really gets across how magical Caraval is supposed to be. Sure, I wasn’t expecting The Night Circus, but damn it, I was expecting something. I wanted to see some magic, see the game, see some kind of performance or something. But no. The only time we actually got a glimpse into anything like that was when Scarlett went into a fortune teller’s tent, and that was probably the absolute best part of the entire book. I wanted more like that.

We never even got an idea of how the magic worked, or what was actually magic instead of a clever illusion or reality. There’s something about blood, and wishes, and time, but no actual explanation. Lack of explanation for magic systems is one of my biggest pet peeves. I wanted to know more about it, and instead we get crumbs that are almost nothing.

Even though I went into this knowing there was a good chance I wouldn’t love it, and I had my expectations really low, it still disappointed me. It’s been a long time since I’ve finished a book and immediately said, “Yep, I’m unhauling you ASAP,” but that’s what happened with this one. I want back the hours I spent reading this book, please.

I gave it 2 out of 5 stars on Goodreads, but I think it’s more like 1.5 for me, and I might lower it to 1 star.

★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆

**SPOILERS AHEAD**

This is probably just going to be word-vomit because my brain is a jumbled mess right now.

Scarlett was infuriatingly stupid, as I said. I still don’t understand how someone could have survived her abusive father that way, and remained so naive and idiotic. She had no common sense at all, and oh my gods the insta love! Okay, let me get this straight: your sister conspires with this guy to drug and kidnap you, you wake up on a boat a couple days later with the guy who kidnapped you, and you’re already like, “Ooh he’s hot! I like him!” WHAT?! This isn’t even Stockholm syndrome. She literally wakes up, talks to this super-hottie (WHO KIDNAPPED HER!) for like five seconds, and she’s already starting to fall for him.

And Tella, her sister, was the mastermind behind the kidnapping, yet Scarlett doesn’t even really seem annoyed by that. I don’t know about you, but if my younger sibling did that, I would be so pissed off. Yeah, I would definitely want to find them, but not just because of some protective instinct. I would be gearing up to rip them a new one because that is so freaking wrong in every way. I don’t care that Tella had good intentions, and ulterior motives, and had arranged all of this with Legend (which we don’t officially discover until the end, but I suspected it early on). Tella was a selfish asshole, and I never saw any real evidence to support the idea that these two sisters were so devoted to each other.

This has to be one of the absolute worst depictions of sisters I’ve ever seen. Scarlett is supposedly willing to do anything to save Tella, and it’s her deepest desire, but let Julian and his golden abs walk by, and suddenly all Scarlett wants to do is chase after him. And Tella! Oh my gods I wanted to throw her off the balcony myself at the end, when she was basically gaslighting Scarlett and taking the word of a guy she’s known for less than a week over that of her sister. I mean, yeah, she was kind of telling the truth, but yikes. And then she throws herself off the balcony thing,killing herself in front of her sister, to break their father’s hold on them? But wait, there’s more! Surprise! She’s not totally dead because ~magic~ and all that! Scarlett ~wished~ her back to life, hurrah!

You guys, I beat my head on my desk so many times while reading this book. I could rant about this book for days, but I’m going to try to wrap it up soon, I promise. (If you’re still reading, wow, thank you. Or, I’m sorry? I’m not sure which is more appropriate 😛 )

Julian was such a terrible love interest. He started stripping in front of Scarlett even though he knows it makes her very uncomfortable, he won’t allow her the privacy to change, he kidnapped her, he lies to her, and I was really uncomfortable all around with their relationship. It reminded me a lot of older YAs that had the bad boy love interest who was all possessive and creepy. But apparently all that (and more) is fine with her, because it was all a game! So she just forgives him, and I guess they’re going to be a couple now? Oh, did I forget to mention that he doesn’t really age, so he’s probably actually around the same age as Scarlett’s grandmother? That’s fine, too, because he still looks like he’s around her age! Ugh.

What even was the deal with Scarlett’s color thing? I kept waiting and hoping for that to become an actually important part of the story, but it was apparently just shoved in there to make her seem more interesting and to add more flowery stuff to the writing?

Where was the magic? Where were the performers? Oh, right, they were everywhere, playing the game. Which we see almost nothing of. I thought the carousel was interesting, kind of, but the only thing I actually really loved about this book was the tattooed guy who told Scarlett bits of her future. That part was great, and I wanted more stuff like that.

But the magic? Tell me more! How does it work? What can it do? What are the limitations? Apparently raising the dead is part of it, because any performers who die will come back at the end, but HOW? They mention time and blood powering magic, and how wishes are magic, but not how or why. It was so frustrating. And Tella, who killed herself, came back because of a wish? Because Scarlett loved her so much? Sorry, but please actually show me that Scarlett and Tella had that close of a bond, because I never saw it. And where is the explanation for how the performers (or at least Legend and Julian) stay young? That was just casually thrown in, without any explanation at all. I want to know at least a little about how the magic works, what it’s limitations are, what the cost is, etc., but we get nothing.

**End of Spoilers**


Okay. I think I’m done. I’m exhausted, and just want to scrub this out of my brain, but oh no. I’m apparently a masochist, because I plan to at least attempt to read Legendary because I got the Kindle edition on sale a while back. Save me.

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Posted in book review

Wicked Saints: Reviewed

Wicked Saints (Something Dark and Holy, #1)

Wicked Saints (Something Dark and Holy, book 1) by Emily A. Duncan

Genres/Descriptors: fantasy>dark/Gothic; YA

Publication: April 2nd, 2019

Pages: 400

Check it out on Goodreads

Pre-order it: Barnes & Noble | Indiebound | Amazon | Book Depository


What’s it about?

A girl who can speak to gods must save her people without destroying herself.

A prince in danger must decide who to trust.

A boy with a monstrous secret waits in the wings. 

Together, they must assassinate the king and stop the war.

In a centuries-long war where beauty and brutality meet, their three paths entwine in a shadowy world of spilled blood and mysterious saints, where a forbidden romance threatens to tip the scales between dark and light. Wicked Saints is the thrilling start to Emily A. Duncan’s devastatingly Gothic Something Dark and Holy trilogy.


Review:

I’m going to start off with trigger warnings, because it’s not really a spoiler. Emily A. Duncan has been pretty forthright about them, also. Trigger/content warnings for: blood and self-harm; parental abuse; torture (I can only remember one scene that wasn’t super graphic or long, but I might have forgotten others). Also, several characters drink heavily a few times.

This book was one of my most-anticipated 2019 releases, and I have mixed feelings about it. On the one hand, I absolutely loved the aesthetic (look at that cover ❤ it screamed “Read Me!”), I was very intrigued by what little I knew of the plot, and I’m trash for anything involving death and blood magic. Then, I saw something about this being perfect for people who shipped Alina with the Darkling, and I was sold. (I only shipped them if she decided she wanted to be villainous. Otherwise, I shipped her with Nikolai, at least briefly.) Anyway… Yes, yes you should probably read this book if the dynamics with Alina and the Darkling were your thing, even if you didn’t actually want them together.

I really enjoyed the setting, but I kind of wish we’d gotten more detailed descriptions, or time spent exploring the world. I didn’t have much trouble visualizing anything, I just wanted more because what we did get had me hooked. It was cold and bleak, fitting perfectly with the story, but I kept craving more details. I’m not complaining too much, though, because instead of focusing a ton on the world, more time was spent on the characters. I really need to see if there’s fan art or something of any of the places our characters visited…

Nadya was a character I wanted so much to love, but I only kind of liked her. In the beginning, I was totally rooting for her and I was super invested in her story, her journey, her saint/gods-given-magic, etc. But, as things progressed, she started to get on my nerves a little. However, it wasn’t because she was doing things suddenly that were out of character for her or anything like that, and the reasons that were probably to blame for my issues were things that made sense. Wow is that vague. Let me just say that some of my issues probably had to do with how she was brought up, and what she was indoctrinated to believe and do. Because of some things that happened closer to the end, I’m very interested to see how her character develops through the rest of the series.

Malachiasz was a very mysterious character, from the beginning, and it isn’t until the last chapters that we really learn most of his story. I suspected things earlier, but I knew his story could go other ways, so I wasn’t certain until the reveal. I loved Malachiasz, and oh my gosh, even if I didn’t like any of the other characters, I would pick up the next book just to find out what happens next with him. That! Ending! I literally screeched and scared my cats, and was *thisclose* to flinging my Kindle in my excitement (I was kind of dancing around…it was very dignified). I am so excited to find out where this series is going.

Serefin was the guy I wanted to hate, but just couldn’t. Even when he first showed up, cast as the bad-guy blood-mage, I wanted to know more about him before deciding if he was a bad guy or not. He reminds me the tiniest bit of Cal from the Red Queen series, but it’s hard to explain why, without going into a ton of spoilers. Okay, I’ll say that there’s a thing he’s good at and that he wants to do, but he can’t really because of royal obligations. While I didn’t love Serefin as a character, I thought he was interesting enough, especially close to the end, and I’m really curious about what will happen next with his story.

I enjoyed the side characters, especially Parijahan, Rashid, and Ostyia. I would love more backstory for them (and Kacper, but for some reason, I cared less about him). My favorite character from this book was Pelageya, even though she was only in like two scenes. I really hope she has a bigger part in the next book, because I have so many questions, and I want to know more about her. (Plus, she was entertaining.) There were a few other, but I think we got the most time with these, except Pelageya.

Where this book fell short for me was in certain aspects of the plot. There were times when I was just so confused, or wanted more information (like, a lot more) to better explain what was going on. It almost felt like there were parts missing or something. However, I really like the magic systems in this universe, and I can’t wait to find out more (hopefully) in the next book. What was shown in this book was great, but I wanted more. More explanation about how things worked, the history, etc., and more on-the-page use of the magic. There wasn’t really a shortage of it, it just seemed like most of the scenes were brief and kind of sparse on the details, so I wasn’t totally satisfied.

The theological questions raised for some of our characters was really interesting for me, and I can’t wait to see those themes explored more in future books. In this blood magic vs holy magic (granted by gods/saints) war, I felt like it was really hard to say if either side was “right.” I loved that. I loved that there were no clear “good guys” or “bad guys” in this story. I want to talk more about that, but spoilers 😦

There were things that we were basically beaten over the head with, to really make sure the point was driven home. That was frustrating, and I hope the next book isn’t like that.

Something about the pacing was weird at times, too, especially with relationships. I felt like trust happened a little too easily, especially given the circumstances all the characters were in. And there was the romance. That did not come out of the blue or anything (I was expecting it from the moment our characters met), but it felt like it happened very quickly. I don’t think it actually did, but I’m not totally sure of the timeline and how much time had elapsed between them meeting and falling for each other.

Overall, I enjoyed this book, but I didn’t love it. I would still recommend it, and I will be continuing the series, because I’m pretty invested in finding out more about these characters and this world.

I still can’t decide between 3 and 4 stars (it’s somewhere in between for me), so I’m just going to say it’s 3.5-ish stars.

★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

Thanks to NetGalley for letting me read an advanced copy. I can’t wait to get my hands on a finished copy, because this book is stunning ❤

Posted in book review

Glass Sword: Reviewed

Glass Sword (Red Queen, #2)

Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard (book two in the Red Queen quartet)

Genres/Descriptors: YA; fantasy; SFF>dystopian

Pages: 444

Check it out on Goodreads


What’s it about?

Since this is the second in a series, I won’t spend much time on the descriptive bits.

This one picks up right where Red Queen ended, with Mare and Cal having just narrowly escaped Maven and the other Silvers (thanks to the intervention of the Scarlet Guard).

Mare is on a mission, out to find other sympathizers (Reds and Silvers), as well as other Reds with abilities (New Bloods), like herself. It’s not going to be easy, especially with Maven hunting them and continuing to spread the lies about them.


Review:

This book was so polarizing, from what I remember (and what I’ve seen from friend’s reviews). People were either really into it, or seriously let down by it. I fell more into the former camp, thankfully. Something about this series just works for me, I guess. (Maybe it’s because I haven’t read as many of the books this series is compared to as other people.) This might get slightly spoilery, but I’m trying to keep them out.

Mare was kind of a mess in this book, and I liked that. She was under so much pressure, shouldering as much responsibility as she possibly could (especially for tracking down and saving other New Bloods), and I found it believable. She had gone through some shit, and she was not the young Red girl she had been at the beginning of Red Queen. There was a darkness in her, and a fierce determination that might have clouded her judgment at times. I enjoyed that her choices weren’t really clearly right/wrong, and there were consequences. She also might have finally started to understand that maybe she shouldn’t trust so easily.

I can’t seem to articulate some of the things I want to say about her, her actions, and how she was viewed by others. There was that whole martyr thing (which seems to be A Thing with YA dystopian heroines), which was annoying at times, but I also didn’t think she was a monster. I can’t remember for sure now if other characters compared her to a monster, of if she saw herself that way, or what. She knew that the path she was on was not going to be easy, blood would certainly be spilled on both sides, and horrible decisions and sacrifices would have to be made. But she tried, damn it. She tried to save who she could (Reds and Silvers), and she wasn’t as unbothered by the deaths as some of the other characters seemed to think she was.

Cal…Oh man, poor Cal. I just want to hug him. He was betrayed by his brother, forced to kill his father by his stepmother, sentenced to die for that, and then he was basically kidnapped by the Scarlet Guard to be used in whatever way they could find to use him. He could have destroyed them, when they were on the train, but he didn’t. Hell, he even ends up helping them as much as he can. Cal is just not bloodthirsty, and he wants to find a way to resolve everything without death (especially Silver deaths, but he wasn’t exactly thrilled about Reds dying, either). It’s admirable, but honestly kind of unrealistic. Cal: Looks like he could kill you, but is actually a cinnamon roll. (Okay, not exactly, because he is lethal. But he doesn’t want it to come to that, poor dude.)

Maven is vile, and there is no death horrible enough for him. Some of the things he does in this book shocked even me, and I’m not easily shocked. There is nothing redeeming about him, and I want him to suffer every moment of a long, imprisoned life. Then there’s Elara. It’s hard to know how much of what Maven is doing is actually his doing, or something his mother came up with. That doesn’t exactly work in Maven’s favor, because (even if everything is her idea) he still allows it to happen. He’s also super freaking creepy, but I won’t go into that because spoilers, I think.

Romance was not much of a thing in this one, and I appreciated that. While I actually did like the love triangle (square?) in the first book, I was glad to see that romance wasn’t so important in the second book that it overshadowed the seriousness of everything else that was going on. The world was falling apart, they were in the middle of a rebellion, and brooding about their love life was not exactly at the forefront of Mare’s and Cal’s minds. Feelings were not entirely ignored, but not a ton of time was spent brooding.

We got to see a lot more of the world in this one, as well as finding out more about the Scarlet Guard, and I loved that. This one was also action-packed, and the pace was never very slow. There was always something to worry about, and I think I actually held my breath a few times while reading particularly intense scenes.

The New Bloods are awesome. We meet several in this book, and I loved the abilities we learned about. I feel like Victoria Aveyward had to be influenced by X-Men (I made that comparison in my review of Red Queen, and I’m not the only one), and I’m not complaining about it. While the abilities of the Silvers are seriously cool, I’m way more excited by the New Bloods, I think.

The last few chapters of this one…ouch. Things happened, some of it good overall, but it was not painless.


I ended up rating this one the same as Red Queen, with 4 out of 5 stars.

★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

Posted in book review

Red Queen: Reviewed

Red Queen (Red Queen, #1)

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard (book one in the Red Queen quartet)

Genres/Descriptors: YA; fantasy; SFF>dystopian

Pages: 383

Check it out on Goodreads


What’s it about?

People are divided into two classes based on the color of their blood. The Reds are normal people, just like us, but the Silvers have silver blood and abilities, kind of like X-Men. Silvers rule over Reds, and they’re not exactly kind overlords.

Mare Barrow is a seemingly normal, seventeen-year-old Red girl, but when she lands a job at the palace, she–and the royal family–find out that isn’t the case.

Somehow, Mare possesses an ability.

To control the situation, the Silver royals come up with a plan to hide Mare’s true nature by giving her a new identity as a Silver orphan, taken in and raised by Reds, and set her up to be a princess, engaged to one of the princes.

Mare has to be very careful, because the world is watching. One wrong move and she’ll be killed to protect the secret. Despite that, she helps the Scarlet Guard, a resistance group determined to bring down the reign of Silvers and free the Reds.

Navigating this world of ballgowns, jealousy, and suspicion isn’t going to be easy, especially when anyone can betray anyone, at any time.


Review

Possibly unpopular opinion alert, but… I really like this book. I’ve read it twice, and I rated it the same both times. Is it my all-time favorite? No. But I really enjoyed it. (If you want a quick overview of my thoughts, instead of the long version, scroll to the bottom.)

Mare is great in this book. She was a badass, and risked so much to protect people she cared about, and Reds in general, and I admire her for that. I also just really liked her as a character. Despite everything, she believed in a better future, saw the good in people, and cared deeply for others. She had flaws, sure, and there were a few times I wanted to scream “Trust no-one!” at her, because that seemed like the best course of action. I wasn’t entirely right or wrong for feeling that way.

I think my favorite character was actually Julian, a Silver. He was kind and scholarly, and I enjoyed him, as well as his relationship with Mare as he tried to help her understand herself and her ability. She really should have taken to heart some advice he gave her, though.

The princes…oh boy, do I have feelings about Cal and Maven. I kind of felt sorry for both of them, for different reasons. Maven really wormed his way into my heart, but I still liked Cal better. Okay, I can’t talk about my feelings about them without spoilers, so I’m just moving on, ugh.

I feel like the world building is where this novel struggled a little. While I didn’t have any trouble visualizing most of what was presented, it was weird trying to put all the pieces together. This is a fantasy dystopian, and I settled on trying not to think of it like our typical YA dystopians (set in our world, in the future) and more like an alternate world or whatever. There were some technological things we have (guns, cameras, etc.), but also things we don’t have…I think. And there were swords. Why? I don’t know, but I’m kind of into it.

Silver abilities, holy crap. That was one of my favorite things about this book and this universe. I was an X-Men kid, and I grew up watching the cartoon and kind of reading some of the comics, as well as a couple of books I had. I loved X-Men, and I still do. The abilities of the Silvers in this book are similar to that, without seeming like a total rip-off.

There were Silvers who could control metal, fire, water, plants, those with super-human strength, or rock-hard skin. Silvers who could move faster than the eye can track, who can bend light to become invisible, those who could control minds, etc. There were a lot of abilities, and they were all super cool in my opinion.

And then there’s Mare. I’m not going to say what her ability is, but it was freaking awesome, and I was so excited about it after it was revealed during Queenstrial. There’s a scene at the end that had me practically screaming with excitement about it.

The plot itself was probably the most trope-y, but I didn’t mind it. I could definitely see why people were comparing it to some other dystopians, but I’ve realized that I haven’t actually read that many. Maybe that’s why it didn’t bother me. I guess, if you’ve read a dozen YA dystopians, this one might not stand out much.

The thing that did stand out to me was how Mare was what I expected, mostly, from a dystopian heroine. She was pretty selfless and all that, like Katniss and Tris. Oh, and the sort of love triangle. But this one…wow. This was a love triangle that surprised me, and I’m still not okay, even though I’ve read this book twice. I’m still shocked by that thing that happened.

*deep breath to reign things in because this is getting long*

Okay, let me try to summarize my thoughts:

  • Mare was a great character, and I was rooting for her from the beginning.
  • I love the Silver abilities, and Mare’s. I want to know more about how Reds and Silvers…happened. (That’s at least hinted at in a later book, but I’ve only read halfway through King’s Cage so far.)
  • I liked that there wasn’t any info-dumping, at least as far as I remember. Even by the end, there’s still so much we don’t know, and I like that. I think this was a pretty solid (although not totally perfect) start to a series.
  • This book was really fast-paced and a fun read, but you probably won’t like it as much if you’ve read a ton of YA dystopians. However, having a more fantasy dystopian than sci-fi dystopian was an interesting change, at least in my opinion.
  • The world building could have been a bit better, but I was fine with it.
  • The plot was semi-predictable, but there were still twists I didn’t see coming.
  • I don’t know what to say about the writing. It was really good, in my opinion, but not in a way that really stands out. I actually kind of like that. I get tired of really poetic and lyrical writing sometimes, and it’s nice to read something that flows well, but isn’t really flowery.
  • After finishing my re-read, I immediately grabbed Glass Sword because I had to know what happened next.
  • It’s not absolutely mind-blowing, but I really enjoyed it.

Both times I read it, I gave it 4 out of 5 stars

★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

Posted in book review

Dreams of Gods and Monsters: Reviewed

Sorry about the shifting formatting of reviews :/ I’m still trying to work out what works for me.

Dreams of Gods & Monsters (Daughter of Smoke & Bone, #3)

Dreams of Gods & Monsters by Laini Taylor (book three in the Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy)

Genres/Descriptors: fantasy>paranormal>angels; paranormal romance; YA

Pages: 613

Check it out on Goodreads


I’m not adding a description, since this is the final book in a series (my reviews for book one and book two), so we’re jumping straight into the…

Review:

I’ve stalled as long as I can in reviewing this book, for a few reasons. Mostly because I was so irritated and disappointed by it. If someone had told me, before I read this, that I was going to read a book by Laini Taylor that just didn’t do it for me, I would have laughed about it and thought it was a joke.

The characters were absolutely the best part of this one, and saved the rating from being shamefully low (my shame, because I did not expect to not love this book). Buuut…there were issues with the characters, too.

Eliza is dumped in at the beginning of this book, and I didn’t dislike her character. (My issue isn’t with not liking the characters, it’s the way they were all just poured into the story. More on that later, though.) I just feel like we didn’t get enough time to really grow to care about her. By the end, I liked her, but only barely. I was mostly indifferent, not wishing for her to be killed off, but not cheering for her much, either.

Then there were the Stelians, finally making an appearance on the page. But, once again, we didn’t really get much from our time spent with them. It was basically enough to establish that they’re powerful, with a tiny glimpse into what life is like for them, and that was pretty much it. I. Want. More. I want more information, more character development.

Our surviving cast from the previous two books return, and I loved them. Mostly. I found it really strange that I just stopped caring about Karou and Akiva (as a couple) about halfway through. I expected them to end up together, but I just didn’t care anymore. That said, I did still like them on their own, and I was rooting for them. Just not as a couple :/

Mik and Zuze make a return, and I absolutely freaking love them. They actually might be my favorite characters from this series, even above Karou. Karou might be one of my all-time favorite protagonists, but Mik and Zuze are just wonderful. They’re so cute, and brave. They’re kind of like the heart of things, helping to keep spirits and hope up for the others. Not to mention their loyalty, oh my gosh. I thought they were impressive in the second book, but in this one? Seriously determined, and it leads to a pretty freaking awesome scene that continues to bring a smile to my face every time I think about it.

Ziri, oh man. What do I even say about him? My heart breaks for him, and he is my precious cinnamon roll book child. Then there’s Liraz. I liked her a lot in the first two books. In this one, I liked her, but there were some things, changes in her, that felt a little rushed and artificial. It’s not that I think she was incapable of them, just that they came about so quickly, which made it hard to believe.

Even minor characters we get to know are amazing in these books, and you really grow to either like/love them, or hate them. Well, that was my experience, at least.

The writing was still superb, because Laini Taylor can write. My issues really come in with the plot. This should have been a quartet instead of a trilogy. There was too much dropped in, especially closer to the end, that just wasn’t expanded enough. I don’t care about seeing how everything ends, because I’m fine with the book ending with the future being uncertain for the characters. My complaint is that there was just too much happening, too much being added, and not enough explanation of it all. I really wish the stuff with the Stelians had been added in at least the second book, to introduce that whole situation. (I also think Eliza being introduced at the end of the second book might have been good, because we really needed more of her.)

There was also a really irritating hint that two of the female characters were going to get together, but it was mentioned so briefly and vaguely that I didn’t even catch it until I was checking out some spoilery discussions about the book after I finished it (to see if I was the only person who wasn’t really happy with everything).

There’s another pairing that annoys me, but talking about it would involve either blatantly stating spoilers, or dancing around them in such a vague way that’s just too complicated. I’ll just say I’m not really happy about it. I thought I shipped it, before it actually happened. I don’t hate it, I’m just tired of characters being paired up in finale books.

This book had some ridiculously awesome things in it, but there wasn’t enough detail. There was a huge bombshell dropped, and then…that’s it, the story is over. It made the story feel rushed and even a little incomplete. It wasn’t a very satisfying experience for me, and I hate that. There was so much that could have been expanded, with the mythology and the universe and the characters, so this didn’t really feel like a conclusion to me. If I didn’t know the series was over, I would be wondering when the next book was going to be released.

I have a lot of feelings about this book, and I think the not-so-good ones outnumber the good.

Thing were ended so neatly it was kind of hard to believe. I mean, I did hope for some of it, but it all felt a little too tidy, especially after the huge thing that was revealed, and the consequences of some actions that might have made that huge thing a bigger problem than it already was. Basically, it wasn’t tragic enough 😛 I didn’t want all the characters to die, or be miserable at the end, but everything felt too perfect, despite the looming challenge of the huge thing I keep mentioning.

I could ramble and rant about this book for ages, but this has already gotten pretty long, so I’ll wrap it up.

I was so disappointed by this book, and I almost wish I’d never read it. It’s turned me off Laini Taylor’s books (I was planning to read Strange the Dreamer this month or next) for a while, until I can get over this one 😦


I gave it a grudging 3.5 out of 5 stars, mostly for the characters and writing. The rest was just mediocre for me.

★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆