Tag «Dystopian»

Series Review: Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

Series Review: Is this series worth your time? Does it get better as the novels progress? Or does it get worse? Find out below:

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Synopsis for Red Queen (from Goodreads):
The poverty stricken Reds are commoners, living under the rule of the Silvers, elite warriors with god-like powers.

To Mare Barrow, a 17-year-old Red girl from The Stilts, it looks like nothing will ever change.

Mare finds herself working in the Silver Palace, at the centre of
those she hates the most. She quickly discovers that, despite her red blood, she possesses a deadly power of her own. One that threatens to destroy Silver control.

But power is a dangerous game. And in this world divided by blood, who will win?

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SERIESous’ Top Picks: Fave Read 2015 (Red Queen), Biggest Disappointment 2016 (Glass Sword)
Series: Red Queen
Author: Victoria Aveyard
# of Books: 3 (Red Queen, Glass Sword, King’s Cage, book 4)

There are two novellas: #0.1 Queen Song & #0.2 Steel Scars

Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No, King’s Cage, will be published February 2017
Genre: Young Adult, High Fantasy, Dystopian, Magic
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: February 2015 – ongoing
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook

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Find out why I DNF’d the Glass Sword (Book 2) below:

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Lately I’ve been really into High Fantasy novels–if you look at my 5/5 star books for the year, most of them are high fantasy YA novels. I’m loving this blend of dystopian tones, magic, romance and political intrigue. They are everything I love in novels and I’m so stoked that current YA trends are churning out these amazing pieces of fiction.

So, I think it goes without saying, I was super excited to read the Red Queen. I was actually excited for it before I even picked up the other High Fantasy books I read this year and dutifully ignored other reviews so nothing would be spoiled. I was hoping this book would be what I wanted The Selection to be: a politically focused dystopian read with a heroine who is actually intelligent. And after I read The Winner’s Curse and Snow Like Ashes, I was really hoping Mare would be in league with these fantastic leading ladies!

The Concept / The World:

The entire Red Queen world is a combination of lots of other fantasy and dystopian worlds but at the same time, I found it to be very refreshing. It took elements from my favourite books and used them to their full advantage without going over the top or feeling unoriginal. So while some people will definitely see parallels, I never felt like I was reading a regurgitation of another book. The book does a great job of building and explaining the world at the start and throughout the novel so world-building fans will love it!

I usually don’t love magical elements in my stories but I really loved the way it works here. It was very Avatar: Legend of Korra to me with their powers and I had a lot of fun learning about all the different types of Silvers.

The Plot:

While this book started very slow to me, it really kept my attention and I always felt like it was building up to something. And boy was it building up to something! This story is great! It truly kept me on my toes and I never knew what was going to happen next!

This book had a great balance between action and politics; though the political aspects are the standout feature to me. I’m not sure how many people watch Game of Thrones but I adore the political games that are always afoot with those characters. And this book had the same deceptive games. I loved that it kept me thinking five moves ahead but I was always surprised but what happened next.

And the last 100 pages—simply amazing!

The Characters:

When I first started reading this book, I was really worried Mare would be like America from The Selection: a girl thrust into a situation she never imagined yet does nothing as everything happens around her to resolve the world. That frustrated me to no end with the Selection Trilogy so I was very relieved that that wasn’t the case with Mare.

Mare isn’t an instant kick-ass character though she is a interesting character–and I really loved that. She isn’t flawless and she really has to work for what she wants which made reading so captivating.

And the same can be said about the other characters. They really kept me on the edge of my seat and they all had great character development.

The Romance:

Don’t go into this book expecting some passionate romance. While it definitely is there and has an important role to play, it isn’t all consuming which was great. Even the romantic in me was satisfied by what we had here.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

Red Queen really set the stage for the rest of the series and I truly can’t wait to see what happens next!

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–November 17, 2016– Book #2: Glass Sword

I really hummed and hawed over DNFing this one or not. Even ran a Twitter poll…most people said to DNF it.

I was SO BORED by this book!

I LOVED the Red Queen! I was a strong defender of it, telling everyone to not be so hard on it and all that. So Glass Sword was one of my most anticipated reads of 2016.

But this was dreadfully dry. Nothing seemed to be happen except the passing of time.

Understandably, everyone is a little beaten down. Mare especially. I really struggled with her character. Cal was so dull; and there was very little Maven.

This is the very definition of a Book 2 slump if you ask me. It’s just one of those bridging books that is a necessary evil to the series. Seems like something big happens at the end that I am curious about, but not curious enough to pick this one back up.

It’s been 8 months since I stopped in the middle of the novel and I haven’t regretted it yet.

Perhaps I’ll finish it another time but as of right now, this is a DNF’d series for me.

My Rating: DNF

Red Queen 5/5 | Glass Sword DNF

overall

Even the slow start couldn’t deter me from loving this book! It’s perfect for readers who love political games with a dash of physical action. YA High Fantasy at its finest!

Obviously, my opinion has changed. Each book seems to have a slow start and really only climaxes at the end of the novel. Sorry, but I just need something that will keep my attention all the way through.

Read if You Like: characters with magical/supernatural powers, world-building, high fantasy
Avoid if You: dislike slow starting stories, want more romance

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Movie Mondays: Insurgent

Movie Mondays: On Mondays, I will review a book series or novel that has been made into a movie. I will then answer the question that everyone asks: which is better, the movie or the book? Here is this week’s offering:

Book: Insurgent by Veronica Roth (2012) | Movie: The Divergent Series: Insurgent (2015)

Which did I read/see first? The BOOK

Book Cover | Movie Poster

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The Book:

Series: Divergent Trilogy (#2)
Author: Veronica Roth
Genre: Young Adult, Dystopian, Action, Romance
Point of View: First Person, Single

Thoughts:

Trying to follow-up from the awesomeness that is Divergent is a huge task and one I felt Insurgent didn’t meet. You know, I hardly remember anything about this book except how it ends because that ending shocked me completely and made me excited to read Allegiant.

It’s weird because things definitely happened throughout Insurgent. We are never in the same place for very long and there are various twists along the way that set-up great things in the future. So maybe that is where this book fails: building up for future events and not paying enough attention to its own plot. It’s the curse of the middle book in a trilogy and it’s a shame that Insurgent had to fall prey to it.

As I said in my series review of the trilogy, Insurgent lacks a lot of action; especially when compared to Divergent. So I think in that respect that was why I found it to be a little slower.

Conclusion:

Looking back at my GoodReads ranking of Insurgent, I see that I gave it a 5. And I definitely know why I did: because it set things up perfectly for the last book with that ending. So the ending is definitely a 5/5 but I’d give the book a 4/5. (Also, I read this like 3 years ago so I guess it’s normal to forget what happened)

Rating: 4/5
Series Review: Full series review here!

Similar Reads: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (The Hunger Games Trilogy #1); Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi (Under the Never Sky Trilogy #1); Matched by Ally Condie (Matched Trilogy #1) and Delirium by Lauren Oliver (Delirium Trilogy #1)

The Movie:

Were my Expectations Met?

So I was expecting this movie to be a lot faster paced than I remembered the book to be and it definitely was! I found Insurgent never really had a dull moment and it kept my full attention. Seeing all the simulation aspects come to life was really cool and I thought it was well done. There were some cheesy moments and two weird camera shots but all in all, I thought it captured the essence of the series well.

How Close is it to the Book?

After my quick Wikipedia look at the what happened in the book, I realized they changed a lot. Some things were minor (like Tori’s brother) and I think that change was for the best. Like I said, I felt like the book had too much going on and the movie simplified it to some extent.

However, they changed the ending and that really pissed me off. OK, to be fair, it’s just one little detail but it was truly the best part of the ending to me when I read the book. So I left the movie pretty upset that they changed it.

I also like that the relationship between Tris and Four isn’t so wishy-washy. They really present a united front more-so in the movie than they do in the book–which was great because they are one of my favourite literary couples to read/watch.

Did I Like the Cast?

HELL YES! Man, the casting in this movie is fantastic! I know some people don’t like Shailene Woodley but I thought she did a great job as Tris, just like she did in the first movie. I really don’t need to say how great Theo James is as Four–and I’m not talking about his looks…much. No, in all seriousness, he is exactly how I wanted Four to be in all aspects of the character.

Like most people, I developed a huge crush on Ansel Elgort after he starred in The Fault in Our Stars. But even he couldn’t save me from hating Caleb–so job well done Ansel 😉 And Miles Teller–where have you been all my life! If you had asked me if I would have liked Peter EVER, I would have flat out said “no”. But Miles really presented a Peter that was charming and fun and he was one of the best parts of the movie to me.

What Am I Expecting Next?

While I think splitting up Allegiant into two movies is a very, very stupid idea (it was by-far the dullest of all the books) and only see it as a money grab: I am slightly excited to see where they take it. A lot of the plot changes they made really leave the world beyond the wall a huge mystery and I’m honestly not sure what direction they are going to take it.

I fear that it is going to be another Mocking Jay Part 1 scenario where we get a whole lot of talking and not so much doing. *sigh*

So, which is better: the book or the movie?

In this case, the winner is the MOVIE? You know, I really don’t know what to pick! In some ways, I like the faster pace of the movie a lot more than the book but to be fair to the book, it’s been sooooo long since I read it. For now, I’m going to say the movie and if I ever reread the series, I’ll reevaluate this 😉

Do you agree? Leave a comment below!

Synopsis for Insurgent (from Goodreads):

One choice can transform you—or it can destroy you. But every choice has consequences, and as unrest surges in the factions all around her, Tris Prior must continue trying to save those she loves—and herself—while grappling with haunting questions of grief and forgiveness, identity and loyalty, politics and love.

Tris’s initiation day should have been marked by celebration and victory with her chosen faction; instead, the day ended with unspeakable horrors. War now looms as conflict between the factions and their ideologies grows. And in times of war, sides must be chosen, secrets will emerge, and choices will become even more irrevocable—and even more powerful. Transformed by her own decisions but also by haunting grief and guilt, radical new discoveries, and shifting relationships, Tris must fully embrace her Divergence, even if she does not know what she may lose by doing so

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Series Review: The Winner’s Trilogy by Marie Rutkoski

Series Review: Is this series worth your time? Does it get better as the novels progress? Or does it get worse? Find out below:

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SERIESous’ Top Book Series: Favourite 2015, New Must Read Author, Favourite Series, Sad to See Go 2016
Series: The Winner’s Trilogy
Author: Marie Rutkoski
# of Books: 3 (The Winner’s Curse, The Winner’s Crime, The Winner’s Kiss)
Book Order: Chronological

There is a prequel novella: Bridge of Snow

Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Dystopian, Romance, High Fantasy, Alternate History
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating

Thoughts:

I won’t lie: the covers are what drew me to pick up this series (it wasn’t until after I read it that this book seemed to be on a lot of blogs that I follow). Both The Winner’s Curse and The Winner’s Crime were new additions to my library’ eCatalogue and after I read the synopsis, I decided I really wanted to read these books. I honestly didn’t know what to expect plot-wise from these novels but I knew that I was expecting awesome things and I eagerly dug in.

I didn’t get right into The Winner’s Curse because I felt like it was assumed that I knew the history of the world. Not that the world is overly complicated (I got the gist of it pretty quick); I just felt like it was expected that I knew why these two cultures were clashing and why there was conflict in Kestrel’s world on a deeper level without being told why. Perhaps I just missed that one key line that explains everything earlier in the book. Regardless: the truth of the matter is that the conflicts present in this book are no different than the conflicts we see in our modern world despite its historical edge. And once I was a few chapters in, I was sold (no pun intended) on everything this book was bringing.

If you take the intelligent, strategic heroine of June from the Legend Trilogy, minus her physical ability to kick ass and add the historical vibes of For the Darkness Shows the Stars, you get The Winner’s Curse.

Which means it’s pretty awesome!

Despite my personal distaste for slower novels, I really loved The Winner’s Curse! I loved how everything built up slowly and was intricately linked together. There was a plot-line I wasn’t expecting and I thought it made the story 20x more interesting. This book was never afraid to take risks and that makes it vastly different from the other dystopian YA novels out there. (Though it isn’t really that much of a dystopian novel, rather a high fantasy with some dystopian elements present.)

It also differs from other YA with its AMAZING heroine! I adored Kestrel as a heroine. It’s been a long time since I’ve found a dystopian-esque heroine that didn’t drive me up the wall in some way or another. She was smart, always thought about her actions and was never irrational in her decisions. She’s a strategist and I find that so refreshing in a heroine. Don’t get me wrong, I love heroines who can physically kick ass but it was so AWESOME to read about a heroine who uses her intelligence to outwit her opponents instead of her fists or sword.

I also really liked Arin and her relationship with him. It’s slow building but has so many interesting layers to it that it was a lot of fun to read about. It reminded me a lot of June and Day’s relationship (from Legend) in the sense that they balanced each other out. They were a great pair when they were together but just as amazing when they were on their own and I loved that! Being “on their own” is an important thing to highlight because if you are expecting some grand romance–think again! I found that the romance played a very minimal part in the story as it focuses more on the politics of the countries wayyyy more than it does on the relationship between Arin and Kestrel. It is definitely there but it takes more of a backseat throughout the story.

The Winner’s Crime doesn’t slow down from where its predecessor left off; in fact, it builds on it. Though I thought it started on the slow side, it quickly amped up its pace as you read. The Winner’s Crime definitely has more political intrigue to it which I have been craving to read about for such a long time and that made me really happy. So many great twists and turns! I really didn’t know what was going to happen despite all the clues along the way–which is probably why I would say it is my favourite of the two so far (but it was a really close and hard choice to make!).

I simply cannot wait to read The Winner’s Kiss!!! I just want to see a cover or a synopsis or even a specific release date so I can satisfy some part of my excitement!

Just a quick note on the novella (well, it’s really just a very short story). It takes place when Arin was a child, therefore it is technically a prequel. However, I think you will get more out of it if you read it after The Winner’s Curse or even The Winner’s Crime. I read it after The Winner’s Crime and I feel like that was a good time to read it because I could make the connections it inspires. However, it really doesn’t contribute to the story in any way other than to provide a taste of Arin’s life before The Winner’s Curse and isn’t necessary to read if you can’t find it (or don’t want to pay the $1 to read 20 pages).

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–May 23, 2016– Book #3: The Winner’s Kiss


I admit, I was worried this book wouldn’t live up to the personal hype I’ve built up in my mind over the last year waiting its arrival.

But damn, this book was finale perfection!

It had everything I wanted: politics, action, romantic tension and great twists. I was absorbed from start to finish, hanging on every word. Even though I’m sad this series is over, I couldn’t have asked for a better finale!

Series Rating: 5/5

The Winner’s Curse 5/5 | The Winner’s Crime 5/5 | The Winner’s Kiss 5/5

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One of my favourite YA reads this year and a new favourite series for me! Loved every minute of these books! (I may even break my buying physical books pact to own these novels!) If you want to read a dystopian-esque novel with a FANTASTICALLY intelligent heroine, her complimentary male counterpart and lots of political intrigue–this is the read for you!

Read if You Like: intelligent heroines, politics, high fantasy
Avoid if You: want more romance, want more detailed world-building

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Synopsis for The Winner’s Curse (from Goodreads):
Winning what you want may cost you everything you love

As a general’s daughter in a vast empire that revels in war and enslaves those it conquers, seventeen-year-old Kestrel has two choices: she can join the military or get married. But Kestrel has other intentions.

One day, she is startled to find a kindred spirit in a young slave up for auction. Arin’s eyes seem to defy everything and everyone. Following her instinct, Kestrel buys him—with unexpected consequences. 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 for a fellow human is much higher than she ever could have imagined.

Set in a richly imagined new world, The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski is a story of deadly games where everything is at stake, and the gamble is whether you will keep your head or lose your heart.

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Throwdown Thursdays: Divergent vs Hunger Games

Introducing my new original monthly feature:

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Since the beginning of time, similar things have always been compared to each other: Pepsi or Coke? Lemon or Lime? Boxers or Briefs? And books are no exception!

Throwdown Thursdays: On the first Thursday of every month I play the ultimate game of “Would You Rather” with books that are inevitably compared to each other. After 3 rounds, I pick my winner. Feel free to join in by commenting, making your own response (just link back) or vote in my poll! Here is this month’s match:


Divergent Trilogy Review Here | Hunger Games Trilogy Review Here

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Round 1: The Dystopian World

Personality Factions vs Resource Districts

What I love about dystopian novels is that they take a regular, everyday trait of society and exploit them to the extreme–and as readers, we get to see how everything unfolds.

Divergent goes the personality type route, dividing people into four groups: the honest, the selfless, the brave and the peaceful plus the one group that encompasses all four, the divergent. While you can argue that there are more than these 4 types of personalities, at the core these are the ones that exist and influence everything else. It makes for an interesting social project: but it isn’t a world that I would want to live in. You know how sometimes, the people who think exactly like you are the ones you can’t get along with. Like, I am a stubborn person when it comes to certain things so when I meet someone who is as equally stubborn we butt heads. I could see why, in a post-apocalyptic world, society might try this route but I think it would be a disaster! So this isn’t the world that I would want to live in–not like Pan Am is a golden world either.

However, Pan Am in the Hunger Games is more realistic to me. We live in a material world and The Hunger Games chooses to exploit this by dividing the people based on each district and their economic contributions. I could easily see this happening in our world–and to a certain extent we already live in a world where a select few have power and money while the vast majority do not. Do I think our current way of life will lead to a battle to the death game every year? Definitely not! But if you remove the game aspect from the Hunger Games, the world seems much more probable than Divergent’s.

Winner: The Hunger Games. I prefer its underlying themes of greed and the corruption that follows it to divisions based on personalities.

Divergent: 0  |   Hunger Games: 1

Round 2: The Romance

Four/Tobias vs Gale and Peeta

All is fair in love and…rebellion?

I really loved Divergent when I read it for two reasons: the suspense of Tris undergoing Dauntless’ initiation process and Tobias/Four. I loved their chemistry in the first book, even if it wasn’t a huge focus; but when we did get to see them interact, I absorbed every moment. And in the subsequent books, I loved watching their relationship develop. They make great partners in everything they do and I could see how much they loved and cared for each other. They brought out the best in their partner and it was so sweet to watch.

In the Hunger Games, I was Team Peeta all the way. I detest love triangles; especially the ones where the female lead’s male BFF is obviously in love with her and she is oblivious. So it really is nothing against Gale as a person (though I came to detest him by the end of Mockingjay) it’s just that he played a generic role and it didn’t do anything for me. However, I always felt like Peeta cared more than Katniss. But, to be fair, that is part of Katniss’ character flaw: she is too independent and guards her feelings. It definitely improves and in Mockingjay I think Katniss shows her true feelings for Peeta more. But sometimes I got the impression is was just guilt on Katniss’ part for using Peeta in the first book because Peeta does everything he can to save Katniss because he loves her and she just uses him in the first book to save herself.

Winner: Divergent. I loved the relationship between Tobias and Tris–it is a true partnership that is more than just physical chemistry and need.

Divergent: 1  |   Hunger Games: 1

Round 3: The Action

Breaking the Factions vs The Hunger Games

While both rebel against their respective governments, the each do so in a different way: but which way is best to read?

To me, Divergent’s action packed appeal slowly goes away in the next two books of the series. It becomes a lot more talking and trying to figure out what they are going to do next: which is fine and dandy but not all the thrilling to read. Especially when Divergent had so much action when you take into account the inner faction fights during the initiation, the fear simulations and the eventual rebellion. It took me a long time to get through Allegiant (Book 3) because it was so dry. But once the action was there (the last little bit of the book) I was hooked and it was over. I’m hoping the movies will focus more on the action than they do on the talking when they are finally released.

I found the Hunger Games always had action because of the nature of the Games itself. Katniss is quickly thrown into a life and death situation and the way Suzanne Collins describes things makes you feel like you are right there with her. And while I found the second and third books didn’t have as much intensity, they had more action and just the right amount of talking. Well, maybe not Mockingjay so much, but I felt like it picked up much quicker than Allegiant did.

Winner: The Hunger Games. I preferred the high intensity fighting and background rebellion to the plotting rebellion and followup action that we get in Divergent.

Divergent: 1  |   Hunger Games: 2

Ultimate Winner: The Hunger Games

Final Comments: While I really enjoyed each series, The Hunger Games is one of my favourite series hands down. Divergent was great (and definitely had some things I loved more than the Hunger Games), but I was really disappointed in the subsequent books. If you could combine those two series into one, you would have an amazing series. Hmmm, maybe that’s why I love Legend by Marie Lu so much…

What are your thoughts: which one would you rather read? Leave a comment below!

Next Time: Vampire Diaries vs Twilight

Movie Mondays: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1

Movie Mondays: On Mondays, I will review a book series or novel that has been made into a movie. I will then answer the question that everyone asks: which is better, the movie or the book? Here is this week’s offering:

Book: Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins | Movie: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 (2014)

Which did I read/see first? the BOOK

Book Cover | Movie Poster

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Warning: For those who have not read the final book of the Hunger Games Trilogy, Mockingjay, while I tried my best, there may unintentionally be spoilers!

The Book:

Series: The Hunger Games Trilogy
Author: Suzanne Collins
Genre: Young Adult, Dystopian, Competition, Romance, Action
Point of View: First Person, Single

Thoughts:

As I said in my previous review of Catching Fire, it’s a tossup between Mockingjay and Catching Fire for my second favourite book of the trilogy. It is hard to ultimately decide because they differ so much from the inaugral Hunger Games book.

Mockingjay is definitely slower because we don’t have the Games to keep us entertained. But, things come to the forefront regarding the dystopian universe the books are set in and that managed to capture my attention. There were also a lot of twists that kept things interesting.

Conclusion:

There isn’t much to say that I haven’t said about the previous two books. They are all well written and I liked how everything wrapped up in this one. It has also been 3 years since I read it and I can’t remember the particulars of my reaction to the book after finishing it but I really liked the book when all was said and done.

Rating: 5/5
Series Review: Full series review here!.

Similar Reads: Divergent by Veronica Roth (Divergent Trilogy, #1) and Delirium by Lauren Oliver (Delirium Trilogy, #1)

The Movie:

I’m sure I’m not alone when I say that I thought splitting up Mockingjay into two parts was a stupid idea. All it is to me is a way to make extra money because they know people will see it. But when it comes to the story, I have no idea how you split up such a small book that really doesn’t have a whole lot going on into two 2-hour movies.

And I think it showed when I watched the movie: because it was on the duller side.

Did I need to watch some guy I don’t remember reading about, and still don’t know the name of, walk away from a plane for 5 minutes? Nope.

Did I need to revisit the same site of destruction 2+ times to get the idea that things weren’t good in PanAm? Nope.

Did I need another shot of a distraught Katniss to get the idea that she was distraught? Hell no!

Don’t get me wrong, I thought Jennifer Lawrence did a great job with what she was given and I think she is a great actress. She was dramatic but not annoyingly so in terms of her acting. It was the plot that I struggled with.

Honestly, it was dull and I felt like nothing really happened until the last 30 minutes of the movie. There was just so much redundancy that I think it really killed the movie and left me with a bad taste in my mouth. Frankly, there was no reason to drag this book out into two movies and it makes me really worried for Divergent’s third movie, Allegiant because there is no need to extend that book into two parts when NOTHING HAPPENS action wise. It’s a shame the focus is on money and not providing the best experience for the viewer.

So while I didn’t love the movie, I still liked watching all my favourite characters brought to life. Stanley Tucci, Woody Harrelson and Elizabeth Banks were fantastic and I loved watching them on screen. The casting for this series has been amazing and it was great seeing the chemistry between all the characters.

So, which is better: the book or the movie?

In this case, the winner is the BOOK. Honestly, there is no need for two movies and I preferred the concise scenes of the book to the redundant scenes of the movie.

Do you agree? Leave a comment below!

Synopsis for The Hunger Games (from Goodreads):

Sparks are igniting.
Flames are spreading.
And the Capitol wants revenge.

Against all odds, Katniss has won the Hunger Games.  She and fellow District 12 tribute Peeta Mellark are miraculously still alive.  Katniss should be relieved, happy even.  After all, she has returned to her family and her longtime friend, Gale.  Yet nothing is the way Katniss wishes it to be.  Gale holds her at an icy distance.  Peeta has turned his back on her completely.  And there are whispers of a rebellion against the Capitol – a rebellion that Katniss and Peeta may have helped create.

Much to her shock, Katniss has fueled an unrest she’s afraid she cannot stop.  And what scares her even more is that she’s not entirely convinced she should try.  As time draws near for Katniss and Peeta to visit the districts on the Capitol’s cruel Victory Tour, the stakes are higher than ever.  If they can’t prove, without a shadow of a doubt, that they are lost in their love for each other, the consequences will be horrifying.

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Series Review: The Young Elites by Marie Lu

Series Review: Is this series worth your time? Does it get better as the novels progress? Or does it get worse? Find out below:

The Young Elites by Marie Lu | The Young Elites Series

 

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Synopsis for The Young Elites (from Goodreads):
I am tired of being used, hurt, and cast aside.

Adelina Amouteru is a survivor of the blood fever. A decade ago, the deadly illness swept through her nation. Most of the infected perished, while many of the children who survived were left with strange markings. Adelina’s black hair turned silver, her lashes went pale, and now she has only a jagged scar where her left eye once was. Her cruel father believes she is a malfetto, an abomination, ruining their family’s good name and standing in the way of their fortune. But some of the fever’s survivors are rumored to possess more than just scars—they are believed to have mysterious and powerful gifts, and though their identities remain secret, they have come to be called the Young Elites.

Teren Santoro works for the king. As Leader of the Inquisition Axis, it is his job to seek out the Young Elites, to destroy them before they destroy the nation. He believes the Young Elites to be dangerous and vengeful, but it’s Teren who may possess the darkest secret of all.

Enzo Valenciano is a member of the Dagger Society. This secret sect of Young Elites seeks out others like them before the Inquisition Axis can. But when the Daggers find Adelina, they discover someone with powers like they’ve never seen.

Adelina wants to believe Enzo is on her side, and that Teren is the true enemy. But the lives of these three will collide in unexpected ways, as each fights a very different and personal battle. But of one thing they are all certain: Adelina has abilities that shouldn’t belong in this world. A vengeful blackness in her heart. And a desire to destroy all who dare to cross her.

It is my turn to use. My turn to hurt.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Book Series: Must Read Author
Series: The Young Elites Trilogy
Author: Marie Lu
# of Books: 3 (The Young Elites, The Rose Society, The Midnight Star)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Antihero, Alternate History, Dystopian, Dark Fantasy
Heat Rating: cool (sexual references are made though)
Point of View: First Person (Single) + Third Person (Multiple)

thoughts

**This post was originally posted as a Fresh Friday review of the first book of the series. It has now been updated to include the newest publications in the series.**

As soon as I finished the Legend Trilogy my first thought was: what else has this author published? I loved the Legend Trilogy, more specifically I loved the strong, independent and willing to fight characters that Lu created and I couldn’t wait to get my hands on any other story she had written.

I always feel bad when I start a new series by a previously read author because their new series inevitably gets compared to the previous series even if they are two completely different stories. This story is completely different than the Legend Series in terms of plotline but Lu still manages to deliver a solid story with her writing.

I haven’t read many anti-hero stories besides Shakespeare and the Blood of Eden Series, though I watch Scandal, House of Cards and How to Get Away with Murder which counts to some degree 😛 So I really enjoyed reading about an anti-hero. Adelina was interesting to read about and she kept my attention throughout the novel. When I first read the synopsis, I assumed that we would be getting 3 POV characters that would alternate but that isn’t the case. Instead, we get Adelina narrating in the first person and a few other characters who have short third person POV chapters here and there. Having these little side chapters helped get a fuller picture of what was going on and I think in the end it was a wise decision to use that approach.

The plot starts off slow but I enjoyed learning more about the world and understanding Adelina. I was expecting a little more though to be honest but I felt like it built up nice enough. The last quarter of the book was non-stop fast-paced with some great twists so I loved that. I’m excited to see where this series is going to go and can’t wait to get my hands on book 2!

updates

–November 10, 2015– Book 2: The Rose Society

This book was getting rave reviews and I totally understand why. This book just flowed in a fantastic way from start to finish. It kept building up to the climax and I really enjoyed that. We get some fresh characters, some more plot to play with and as always, some great twists that keep the momentum going.

However, I wasn’t WOW’d with this book, hence the 4/5 and not a 5/5. It’s a solid book and absolutely very well done (probably my favourite of the two so far) but it just didn’t have that last shock factor to leave me breathless. And that isn’t to say that I don’t want the 3rd book in my hands ASAP–because I do!–I just wasn’t left absolutely blown away by it all even though I enjoyed it immensely!

–February 22, 2017– Book 3: The Midnight Star

I was super excited to read this book! The cover taunted me every time I went to the library!

This was a bit of a slow start for me. Perhaps it just took me a while to get reacquainted with a world I haven’t seen in a year. But it didn’t take long to get back into the groove of things.

This story is solid. It’s never rushed and there is plenty of action. It also has strong character moments. Adelina especially; it was great to learn more about in the third and finale book. She’s had such great development from the start of the series and I think it shows to Lu’s strength that her characters still can grow in the last novel.

Again, this book didn’t blow me away though. I just couldn’t give it a 5/5. I’m not sure if it’s the whole anti-hero thing or if I just constantly compare this to the Legend Trilogy (one of my all time favourite series). But it’s still a solid book and I think it is slightly stronger than The Rose Society.

Series Rating: 4/5

The Young Elites 4/5 | The Rose Society 4/5 | The Midnight Star 4/5

overall

Don’t read this expecting a carbon copy of the Legend Trilogy. You can expect the basic foundations like plot twists, a larger overarching plot line and strong characters; but the feeling of this series is completely different. If you want to read about a true anti-hero, this is a great series for you to pick up!

Read if You Like: villains as protagonists, dark YA
Avoid if You: dislike dark stories, characters with powers

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Movie Mondays: The Maze Runner

Movie Mondays: On Mondays, I will review a book series or novel that has been made into a movie. I will then answer the question that everyone asks: which is better, the movie or the book? Here is this week’s offering:

Book: The Maze Runner by James Dashner | Movie: The Maze Runner (2014)

Which did I read/see first? the BOOK

Book Cover | Movie Poster

The Book:

SERIESous’ Top Book Series: Biggest Disappointments 2014
Series: The Maze Runner Trilogy
Author: James Dashner
Genre: Young Adult, Dystopian, Science Fiction, Suspense, Apocalyptic, Mystery
Heat Rating: cold
Point of View: Third Person

Thoughts:

I didn’t totally love The Maze Runner when I read it. I think I made the mistake of watching the movie trailer before I read the novel and let the trailer create my expectations for the novel.

I was expecting a fast-paced adventure novel with lots of twists and turns (and I don’t just mean turns of maze itself) and high doses of suspense. Instead, I got a dry, overly descriptive novel that took a very long time to get exciting.

Part of the problem is the third person narration–it’s just so impersonal for a story that is supposed to be suspenseful. I wasn’t able to connect with the characters like I wanted and that made it hard to read it.

There also wasn’t a lot of action either until the very end of the novel–and that’s when the plot gets a lot more interesting as well.

Conclusion:

This is one of those “cool concept–poor execution” novels. Read it if you enjoy longer Young Adult reads that slowly build up to the climax.

Rating: 3/5
Series Review: Full series review here!

The Movie:

Despite not having an overly good experience reading the novels—I was SUPER excited to watch the movie! Part of the reason is my massive crush on Dylan O’Brien (who plays the lead Thomas) but part of the reason is that when I was reading the book, I could definitely see it as a movie. James Dashner is very descriptive so I had a very clear picture of the setting in my mind when I was reading and if you got rid of the overly descriptive parts and just took out the highlights, it would have everything that a good movie needs.

I have to say, this was a great adaption–my crushes on the respective actors aside. I really loved the direction they took this movie in terms of what they cut and kept.

First, the cast was great! And I’m not saying that in a biased way 😉 They really did a fantastic job bringing the characters to life and I definitely connected more with these characters in film than novel form. O’Brien was exactly what I pictured Thomas to act like–fantastic job!

The set was also really, really well done. Not hard when the movie is adapted from a book as descriptive as The Maze Runner but still important nonetheless.

As for the story–this was exactly what I expected The Maze Runner to be: fast-paced and suspenseful! Even knowing what was going to happen, I still had goosebumps anytime a griever appeared on screen or they entered the maze. The main plot points are pretty much the same from what I remember but only a few minor changes are made. I think it’s a good thing that they changed what they did. There is just one thing that they reveal that seems a little premature to me but I think for the sake of the general audience (who has probably never read the book) it needed to be done.

I’m SO happy that this adaptation was successful at the box office–because a sequel deserves to be made. The Scorch Trials was my favourite book of the trilogy and I can’t wait to see it brought to life. I also won’t lie: I want more of Dylan O’Brien in my life 🙂

So, which is better: the book or the movie?

In this case, the winner is the MOVIE…hands down. It was everything I wanted the novel to be and was very well done. Fans I think will be happy with the result. I encourage those who didn’t like the book to actually watch the movie at some point because I have a feeling you too will also really enjoy it!

Do you agree? Leave a comment below!

Synopsis for The Maze Runner (from Goodreads):
“If you ain’t scared, you ain’t human.”

When Thomas wakes up in the lift, the only thing he can remember is his name. He’s surrounded by strangers–boys whose memories are also gone.

Outside the towering stone walls that surround the Glade is a limitless, ever-changing maze. It’s the only way out–and no one’s ever made it through alive.

Then a girl arrives. The first girl ever. And the message she delivers is terrifying.

Trailer:

Series Review: Legend by Marie Lu

Series Review: Is this series worth your time? Does it get better as the novels progress? Or does it get worse? Find out below:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Legend (from Goodreads):

What was once the western United States is now home to the Republic, a nation perpetually at war with its neighbors. Born into an elite family in one of the Republic’s wealthiest districts, fifteen-year-old June is a prodigy being groomed for success in the Republic’s highest military circles. Born into the slums, fifteen-year-old Day is the country’s most wanted criminal. But his motives may not be as malicious as they seem.

From very different worlds, June and Day have no reason to cross paths – until the day June’s brother, Metias, is murdered and Day becomes the prime suspect. Caught in the ultimate game of cat and mouse, Day is in a race for his family’s survival, while June seeks to avenge Metias’s death. But in a shocking turn of events, the two uncover the truth of what has really brought them together, and the sinister lengths their country will go to keep its secrets.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Book Series: Favourite Series 2014, Favourite Couple 2014, To-Watch Author
Series: Legend, Legend Trilogy
Author: Marie Lu
# of Books: 4 (Full Series Reading Order)

There are some novellas.

Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Dystopian, Adventure, Mystery, Romance, Science Fiction, Political
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: November 2011 – October 2019
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook

thoughts

**This post has now been updated to include the newest publications in the series.**

My Expectations/Why I Picked it Up:

I’ve wanted to read Legend since it first came out in 2011 but I could never get my hands on a copy from the library. I also let it slip to the back of my mind and read other, more “popular” dystopian novels. But after reading the first novel, Legend, I’m upset with myself that I waited this long!

Review of Legend (#1):

Legend was everything I love in a novel. It has strong lead characters (especially a strong female heroine), suspense, mystery, a dash of romance and action. I was sucked into the book the moment I started it and couldn’t put it down. Like most dystopian novels, it has many layers to it. You have the overall political issues, the class divisions and then the main plot for the individual novel. There were some great twists and turns along the way and I found that the suspense never died.

What I also loved was that this book wasn’t like other dystopian books out there. Yes, it had similar elements but I found the story to be very refreshing. It is definitely on the darker side in the sense that it isn’t afraid to talk about death or feature killing. It might make some readers uncomfortable but I thought it really added to the story.

June was great on her own as was Day but I loved the chemistry they had together. They weren’t immature despite being only 15 years old and they didn’t grate on my nerves like some teen leads can. I felt like I was reading about 17 year olds and I almost wish that they were older just for the sake of what they have to go through but it really isn’t a big deal. June does do a few things that irk me a little later on but overall I really do like her character.

Review of Prodigy (#2):

Prodigy never slumped in its delivery. It was fast-paced from start to finish and I loved the character development we get along the way. It’s one of the best middle books of a trilogy that I have read. I find a lot of novels in a trilogy, especially a dystopian series, really struggle with the sequel book. But this one was strong throughout and I loved every minute of it!

Review of Champion (#3):

Champion started slow (compared to the rest of the series) but picked up quickly. The last third was super intense and I couldn’t get enough of it. Dystopian authors take note, this is how you write the conclusion to your trilogy: it was perfection. It had action, character development, a dash of realism (which I really, really appreciated) and a thorough wrap-up. Just well done.

When to Read #0.5 Life Before Legend:

Just a quick note on Life Before Legend. The title is slightly confusing in the sense that it gives the impression that you should read it before you read Legend. DON’T! It really won’t mean anything to you until you read Legend and have met the characters. And it’ll have some spoilers.

Life Before Legend isn’t anything spectacular. To be honest, I mostly skimmed through it. It’s a cute little extra that fans will enjoy but it’s nothing to worry about as it really doesn’t add anything to the story. I recommend you read it after book 2, Prodigy, just because one story refers to a particular scene in Prodigy so it will have more relevance than if you read it after the finished series.

updates

–November 18, 2019– Book #4: Rebel

I was both nervous and super excited when this book was announced. While I wouldn’t say I LOVED the ending of Champion, I respected it. But that didn’t mean I wouldn’t read any future novels set in this world.

What an amazing way to return and wrap up an amazing series. Honestly, it’s been years since I finished Champion but I felt like it had been days.

Everything you want and need is here. Powerful character moments; a strong plot.

And I have to say that I love the idea that the solutions to problems aren’t always so clear and that the world is ever changing. Perfection.

Series Rating: 5/5

Legend 5/5 | Prodigy 5/5 | Champion 5/5 | Rebel 5/5

overall

I devoured these novels! I would sit down and find that an hour had past and I had made significant progress reading. I highly recommend you read them as close together as possible because you will need to know what happens next. Marie Lu has become an author I plan to read a lot more from. If you loved Divergent and want a book with a similar vibe, this is the series you need to read. If you like action, a splash of romance and suspense in your young adult novels, pick this series up!

Read if You Like: dystopian, fast paced novels, rebellion
Avoid if You: dislike science fiction

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Series Review: The Maze Runner by James Dashner

Series Review: Is this series worth your time? Does it get better as the novels progress? Or does it get worse? Find out below:

SERIESous’ Top Book Series: Biggest Disappointments 2014
Series: The Maze Runner Trilogy
Author: James Dashner
# of Books: 3 (The Maze Runner, The Scorch Trials, The Death Cure)

There is a prequel novel called The Kill Order and novella that is listed between books 2 and 3 called Thomas’s First Memory of the Flare.

Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Dystopian, Science Fiction, Suspense, Apocalyptic, Mystery
Heat Rating: cold
Point of View: Third Person
Movie Review: Catch my thoughts on the movie here!

Thoughts:

I had heard about the Maze Runner series before I heard about the plans for the movie and had put it on my to-read list. But with the movie approaching, I decided to read it before the movie was released in September.

The first book in the series, The Maze Runner, was very slow and dry. I was expecting the action to happen right away and I found that the plot really didn’t pick up until the last third of the book–which is quite far into the novel as it is a longer novel. I just felt like the little pieces of the mystery took too long to be revealed; because once more pieces were revealed, it got really interesting. But until you know more it is quite dull. Part of the issue is that it is very descriptive–which isn’t bad because I have a good idea of what the world looks like–when it doesn’t really need to be.

I could see why a lot of people didn’t enjoy the novel as it isn’t as intense or action packed as, say, the Hunger Games were. I think the movie will do well though because they will speed through the exposition quicker and focus more on the few action scenes we do get in the first half of the book and expand upon them.

Up until the halfway point or so of The Maze Runner I wasn’t entirely sure if I would be reading the second novel, The Scorch Trials. I didn’t want to have to put myself through another round of dry, overly descriptive chapters.But when everything is finally revealed, I really got into the story and was excited to read book 2.

The Scorch Trials does what I wish The Maze Runner did, and that’s hitting the ground and running (no pun intended). There isn’t an inflated exposition to sift your way through. Instead we dive right into the next scene and watch the mystery unravel around us. I did find that some chapters were slower than others but overall, The Scorch Trials is a vast improvement over its predecessor and I understand why people love these/this books/series because it is quite the ride when it wants to be. It makes the task of reading The Maze Runner almost worth it.

Unfortunately though, The Death Cure, the third and final book of the series, drops the ball. It was more “death” than “cure”. Like the inaugural book of the series, it was super slow. It got to a point where I was just skimming the text because I really didn’t need to read every detail to get an idea of what was happening–because there wasn’t really anything happening! That was why it was more like “death” because it was a chore to read it–though the last 40 pages really picked up. However, I missed the “cure” part. I really didn’t feel like any of my questions about the entire series were answered and the ending leaves a little to be desired. As a concluding book in a series, it was a fail.

I’m undecided about reading the prequel novel (it is a full fledged novel, not a novella), The Kill Order. It is very important that you don’t read this novel until after you read the trilogy because it will have spoilers about the world that is unveiled as you progress through the trilogy. However, the characters in the Maze Runner do not appear in the Kill Order (from what I understand). I might read it in the future, but after finishing the Death Cure, I need a bit of a break from this series.

Conclusion:

A cool concept for a series but not the best execution. It’s a slower series that does have its higher points but overall drags out throughout the novels and the entire series. I was very disappointed but I am looking forward to the movie–I think if it is executed well, it will be what I expected the series to be. If you like slower, longer stories told from the third person, this is a young adult series for you!

Rating: 3/5
Would I Recommend this Series to a Friend: No – unless I know that they love overly descriptive books. I would actually recommend that they watch the movie instead…find out why here!

Similar Reads: Across the Universe by Beth Revis (Across the Universe Trilogy #1) and The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (The Hunger Games Trilogy #1)

Synopsis for The Maze Runner (from Goodreads):
“If you ain’t scared, you ain’t human.”

When Thomas wakes up in the lift, the only thing he can remember is his name. He’s surrounded by strangers–boys whose memories are also gone.

Outside the towering stone walls that surround the Glade is a limitless, ever-changing maze. It’s the only way out–and no one’s ever made it through alive.

Then a girl arrives. The first girl ever. And the message she delivers is terrifying.

Series Review: Across the Universe by Beth Revis

Series Review: Is this series worth your time? Does it get better as the novels progress? Or does it get worse? Find out below:

Series: Across the Universe Trilogy
Author: Beth Revis
# of Books: 3 (Across the Universe, A Million Suns, Shades of Earth)

There are a few short stories published about various characters. See the list here.

Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Mystery, Dystopian, Romance
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Alternating

Thoughts:

I almost didn’t read this series. I had never heard a lick about it and when I saw the title and cover for Across the Universe, I thought it was a book about the 2007 movie of the same name. But, my curiosity got the better of me (thanks to that colourful cover) and I clicked on it, read the synopsis and borrowed the eBook.

And I am so ever thankful that I did!

This series really blew my mind away. Just when I’d think I had an idea of what was going on, something else was thrown into the loop–something that had been carefully hidden all along–and would change everything. In each and every book I got sucked into the story and simply devoured them. They were very unique and unlike anything I have read before and I applaud Beth Revis for crafting such a creative, plot-twisting, fun series.

However, Across the Universe did start a little slow. Part of the reason is trying to navigate exactly what the situation/setting is for these characters. There are a lot new “terms” because the series is set so many years in the future (and language and humans evolve over this time). Another reason is that Amy is a harder character to like at first. She’s a little annoying and vain so that grated on my nerves a bit. But when I let myself think about it, I really came to understand why she acted that way. How would you feel if you woke up on a ship, 100s of years in the future because someone tried to kill you and then found yourself surrounded by 1000s of strangers? Probably a little defensive I would say :p So While Amy isn’t my favourite literary heroine of all time, I did grow to like her as the series continued. Elder, the male protagonist I loved from the get-go so no issue there.

The series, like most recent dystopian Young Adult reads, doesn’t focus on the romance rather on what is really going on inside Godspeed. There was a lot going on and as I said before, the plot twisted constantly so it made for a very exciting read. The romance element is there, but if you are planning on reading this because of a “love out of time” maybe find something else or stay for the mystery of Godspeed because it’s so worth it!

Conclusion:

If you love plot twists and Science Fiction reads–this is a Young Adult Series you should read. It’s been a long time since I’ve been this impressed with a trilogy!

Rating: 4/5
Would I Recommend this Series to a Friend: YES!!!

Similar Reads: Legend by Marie Lu (Legend Trilogy #1) and Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi (Under the Never Sky Trilogy #1)

Synopsis for Across the Universe (from Goodreads):
A love out of time. A spaceship built of secrets and murder.

Seventeen-year-old Amy joins her parents as frozen cargo aboard the vast spaceship Godspeed and expects to awaken on a new planet, three hundred years in the future. Never could she have known that her frozen slumber would come to an end fifty years too soon and that she would be thrust into the brave new world of a spaceship that lives by its own rules.

Amy quickly realizes that her awakening was no mere computer malfunction. Someone – one of the few thousand inhabitants of the spaceship – tried to kill her. And if Amy doesn’t do something soon, her parents will be next.

Now Amy must race to unlock Godspeed’s hidden secrets. But out of her list of murder suspects, there’s only one who matters: Elder, the future leader of the ship and the love she could never have seen coming.

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