Tag Archive | strong protagonist

Review: This Shattered World by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner

Series: Starbound #2

this shattered world -amie kaufman & meagan spoonerThe second installment in the epic Starbound trilogy introduces a new pair of star-crossed lovers on two sides of a bloody war.

Jubilee Chase and Flynn Cormac should never have met.

Lee is captain of the forces sent to Avon to crush the terraformed planet’s rebellious colonists, but she has her own reasons for hating the insurgents.

Rebellion is in Flynn’s blood. Terraforming corporations make their fortune by recruiting colonists to make the inhospitable planets livable, with the promise of a better life for their children. But they never fulfilled their promise on Avon, and decades later, Flynn is leading the rebellion.

Desperate for any advantage in a bloody and unrelentingly war, Flynn does the only thing that makes sense when he and Lee cross paths: he returns to base with her as prisoner. But as his fellow rebels prepare to execute this tough-talking girl with nerves of steel, Flynn makes another choice that will change him forever. He and Lee escape the rebel base together, caught between two sides of a senseless war.


3.5 Drink Me Potions


This Shattered World continues the epic story weaving of an intergalactic conspiracy with a new strong pair of protagonists. Fairly fast-paced and steeped in underlying romantic tensions, this book would easily please most non-picky readers.

There were many things that went right for this book, which isn’t surprising due to the huge success and popularity of this series. Maybe it was just my high expectations, but there still was just something missing that prevented it from hitting the highest rating. However, the breakdown of likes and dislikes about this book clearly favour an overall favourable impression.

LIKES:

-Strong protagonists ~
Flynn wasn’t just your ordinary cliched male lead. He may have been thrusted into the rebel side of Avon’s war, but sometimes it seemed that he had more empathy for the other side (aka the military on his planet) than the military did for his family of Avon-born citizens. He was the heart of the pairing, while Jubilee “Lee” Chase was the brain. She was by all means a soldier through and through, but I was delighted in seeing how she became more than simply that over time. Her POV was fun to follow and piecing together the fragments of her past kept things intriguing.

-The thrill of a star-crossed romance ~
I don’t know about you, but making the romance seem so much more difficult is always a fun trope in a story. In the beginning it seemed so hard to imagine how these two could ever fall for each other. I liked how it progressed, not being all “OMG, I’m like SOOO attracted to you after just literally meeting you”, but at the same time, it could’ve developed a little faster with a bit more heat. (SEE BELOW)

-Seamless cameos from previous characters ~
For the kind of series where each book features a new cast of protagonists, it’s always exciting to see old and well-loved characters coming back in the new book. We get more than a little cameo of Tarver from book 1 These Broken Stars and a slight feature from Lilac. I was pleasantly surprised by how much “screen time” they were given, and it was a good amount in my opinion. It was enough to satisfy previous fans of theirs to see how they’re doing after the events of their book, but it didn’t take away from what was going on with Flynn and Lee.

-Good pacing of the plot ~
It lagged here and there but the plot did move along well enough. There was always something happening either on the warfront between the military and the rebels, or the secrets Avon carried that our protagonists were investigating. I don’t think this book suffered any Middle Book Syndrome at all, and definitely added details to the war against LaRoux Industries found out in book 1.

DISLIKES:

-Not enough ramping up of their romance ~
I get that the story had so much more to it than just the developing romance between Lee and Flynn. However, it just sometimes felt like it took a backseat to everything. I wanted to feel excited for them, and occasionally it stirred my heart at their few and far between moments, but overall it just lacked a certain spark. At most there was a lot of romantic tensions underlying their actions – which makes sense given they’re enemies – but I just wasn’t so satisfied with this.

-Maybe not enough info on the main plot of this series ~
As mentioned above, there were certain things that added to the overall knowledge about the conspiracy occurring. I may just be picky but I had hoped for a little more than what happened nearer to the end of the book. Most of the plot really focused on the fight on Avon and less on what was started in book 1. I suppose that means book 3 is gonna have a lot of things to wrap up on (hopefully).

Aside from being picky, This Shattered World could easily please many people as it had a lot going for it. I look forward to book 3, no matter what negatives I had to say about this book.

Overall Recommendation:
Kaufman and Spooner have done it again, creating another interesting book in their futuristic world. While featuring two strong protagonists and a fairly fast plot, a sizzling forbidden romance fell between the cracks a little as the other pieces of the story took precedence. Overall, the book does add to the mysteries discovered in book 1, but clearly they are saving up the juicier bits for the conclusion. It’s worth the read as we hurtle a little further towards what would hopefully be a dynamic end to this series.

Advertisements

Review: Carve the Mark by Veronica Roth

Series: Carve the Mark #1

carve the mark -veronica rothIn a galaxy powered by the current, everyone has a gift.

Cyra is the sister of the brutal tyrant who rules the Shotet people. Cyra’s currentgift gives her pain and power — something her brother exploits, using her to torture his enemies. But Cyra is much more than just a blade in her brother’s hand: she is resilient, quick on her feet, and smarter than he knows.

Akos is the son of a farmer and an oracle from the frozen nation-planet of Thuvhe. Protected by his unusual currentgift, Akos is generous in spirit, and his loyalty to his family is limitless. Once Akos and his brother are captured by enemy Shotet soldiers, Akos is desperate to get this brother out alive — no matter what the cost.
The Akos is thrust into Cyra’s world, and the enmity between their countries and families seems insurmountable. Will they help each other to survive, or will they destroy one another?

Carve the Mark is Veronica Roth’s stunning portrayal of the power of friendship — and love — in a galaxy filled with unexpected gifts.


 

3.5 Drink Me Potions


Carve the Mark is one of those books that’s left me with a variety of emotions upon completion. Like a rollercoaster ride, the slow ascend into the unknown drove me crazy, but the quick drop left me breathless trying to catch up with everything that’s happened.

I get that some reviewers think the beginning was ridiculously hard to understand. I will say that Roth isn’t the type of author who wastes time explaining bit by bit of the complex world that she’s created. You just gotta slowly go over what she has said in the context that she put it in and try to piece together an image of the scene. I found knowing beforehand that the world could be confusing, lasting approximately the first 100 pages, really helped me take it slow in the beginning so that it would make better sense as I went along. And frankly, I didn’t find the first 100 pages all that bad with that mindset in place.

I have mixed feelings when it comes to this novel. It’s very different from Roth’s previous works, which hardly anyone cannot know at this point with her works being made into major movies. But I felt it still had the makings of a good read. I will try to dissect my feelings into what was positive and what was…less than positive.

Positives on the novel:

– The world building was absolutely stunning. Even if it can get confusing for some, you can’t argue that she thought a lot about how things worked amongst the different cultures and the different planets in this little solar system. With the main story focusing on the planet Thuvhe, there are 2 groups of people fighting for this land throughout history. Technically this planet as seen by the governing body ruling this solar system to belong to the Thuvhesites (hence the official name of the planet), but Shotet nation wants to gain recognition and get this land too. Each group, and even each culture from the other planets in this galaxy, have different views on spirituality and religion. But at the centre of this world is something called a currentstream, which apparently gives life to everything.

There are also currentgifts that each individual grows into as they age. I kinda think of them as some sort of magical abilities. But it’s through this current that lives in each person that determines how its power is uniquely molded by each wielder. In a way, this concept seems like something I’ve seen before, yet there is something still innately unique about it in my opinion.

– Aside from well-thought world building, which honestly sets the foundation of a whole series, the nature of the protagonists was right. We get to follow both Cyra and Akos’ POVs. Oddly enough, Cyra’s is in first person and Akos’ is always in 3rd. I don’t know why this was the way but it makes me feel closer to Cyra sometimes. Enemies by birth yet their circumstances draw them closer, as their fates have said. Maybe it sounds a bit like a Romeo/Juliet thing, but it’s really not. Cyra isn’t as bad as her preceding reputation makes her out to be. She didn’t ask for her currentgift to be pain, both for herself and for anyone who touches her. And Akos isn’t the pure little hero come to redeem the girl born in a tyrant’s family either. They both required redemption, and had to find their own way of achieving what they each wanted. Neither was necessarily better than the other. Everyone made choices they had to make in the moment and sometimes those that turned out to be mistakes haunted them long afterwards.

Anyway, there’s a lot that can be said about these two. There’s no one else we get to know as well as them. There may be plenty of secondary characters but it’s their hearts that we learn to understand. And before you get all twisted about it, yes, a romance blooms between them over time.

Now, what’d I FEEL exactly about this romance of theirs? Honestly? I felt the minor tidbits of romantic expressions were the right amount. Some people (me included) really love romance to be littered throughout a good fantasy. But sometimes, it shouldn’t be the focus, or even there at all. Roth did a great job with this. It wasn’t instalove. And it wasn’t exactly a slow-burn love either. It was formed through loyalty and a deep friendship. I wouldn’t have necessarily minded if there were even fewer mentions of how they felt for each other as there’s just so many OTHER things to focus on in this first book. Would it be right for Akos and Cyra to have some romantic interlude while they’re running for their lives or soldiers are coming for them? No. I sure hope not.

I believe Roth chose right and Carve the Mark had just the right balance of action and romance so the focus always stayed prioritized on moving forward the very complex plot she had in mind for these characters.

Less than positives:

– With such a strong focus on plot and her world that she created here, sometimes the plot felt long and dragged a little. It didn’t deter me from reading this straight through but sometimes there were more events that were solely meant for world building over furthering the build-up of the plot in this book. While I appreciated learning a bit more about how this world and the other surrounding planets worked, this story definitely was made longer by it. The suspense of what would happen next lulled and occasionally I wanted to just skip ahead to hurry it up.

– There may be many secondary characters, but I don’t always feel very close to them. Most barely spend time with either main character, so we don’t see them too often. It was hard to form any connection with anyone else, and sometimes that’s necessary too.

What’s the overall consensus?

While I enjoyed this ride (as long as it was to finish it), this novel just made me think a lot at the end of the day. It’s not what you would call a light read, and I’m still processing a ton of emotions about it. The world was described well, and I felt like I lived within these pages while I was there, but at the same time, I’m glad for whenever I had a little break from it all. All the scheming, all the mysteries that opened up even more questions at the very end. Care the Mark is one complicated book, but I think it was enjoyable for what it was.

Overall Recommendation:
Carve the Mark is nothing like what you may know of author Veronica Roth. This is both good and bad. With a completely new world that’s sometimes confusing but fully immersive to the readers, we take a journey with both Cyra and Akos as they navigate the politics and the fury between two nations vying over one planet. Dealing with big topics such as fighting your own fate and finding your own redemption, it’s one book that made me think more than anything else. Like an exhilarating rollercoaster ride, it may leave you with a mix of feelings both good and bad as you exit. Overall, I’d say it’s a worthwhile book to give a shot as it has plenty to offer and I do believe the sequel would only bring even more excitement.

Review: Daughter of the Pirate King by Tricia Levenseller

Series: Daughter of the Pirate King #1

daughter of the pirate king -tricia levensellerThere will be plenty of time for me to beat him soundly once I’ve gotten what I came for.

Sent on a mission to retrieve an ancient hidden map—the key to a legendary treasure trove—seventeen-year-old pirate captain Alosa deliberately allows herself to be captured by her enemies, giving her the perfect opportunity to search their ship.

More than a match for the ruthless pirate crew, Alosa has only one thing standing between her and the map: her captor, the unexpectedly clever and unfairly attractive first mate, Riden.

But not to worry, for Alosa has a few tricks up her sleeve, and no lone pirate can stop the Daughter of the Pirate King.


 

3.5 Drink Me Potions


Daughter of the Pirate King is lighthearted and refreshing in a genre where there are way too many darker books and not enough pirates! It surely stands out, in a good way.

I was recommended this book after reading another review, and was very excited to get to it. Like a Captain Jack Sparrow book but for the YA audience, huh? Definitely sounds intriguing. And Captain Alosa is as intriguing as they come. She’s no damsel in distress, captaining her own crew of mostly young women amidst a world that has always been more male-dominant. She holds her own and she’s smart as they come. Of course, she knows that as she’s the daughter of the ruthless pirate king of the seas.

This whole story centres on her search for a 1/3 of a treasure map (of course, that’s what pirates love, don’t they?). It takes her on a course where she’s locked up in another pirate lord’s brig, but on purpose! Things get quite exciting when there’s a dashingly handsome first mate on board as well, who happens to be the captain’s younger brother.

The excitement of the seas and the exploits Alosa goes on weren’t as fast-paced as I had originally thought it would’ve been. It lagged a bit in the middle, considering she could only search a little bit at a time during the shadows of night so as not to alert suspicions about her intentions on being on board. But I suppose the intrigue of pirates and Alosa’s narrative voice kept me flipping intently. There’s also a twist, if you can call it that, that occurs later in the book, but if you really paid attention earlier, it’s not so much of a surprise. That particularly tidbit gave the story a little bit of a bigger push with its potential in driving the story, but it would seem that more of the excitement might be left for the sequel.

The romance, however, was fun. Riden and Alosa flirted with each other all the time. Like elementary school kids. If by flirting you meant by making fun of each other, which is the equivalent to throwing sand at the boy you liked in the playground. They kept trying to best each other, but at the heart of it, they seemed to care for one another even if they didn’t want to initially admit it. Beyond the fun of piracy and the excitement that comes with sailing the open seas looking for treasure and a good ol’ fight, this romance completed the trifecta that made the story interesting enough.

I suppose the lower than best rating would come from highly inflated expectations, but Daughter of the Pirate King does deliver on what its synopsis promises. Adventure, action, some romance and a good ol’ treasure (map) hunt.

Overall Recommendation:
Daughter of the Pirate King reminded me of why pirate stories were so popular. Lighthearted but filled with action, Alosa is a strong character to take up arms with as she navigates a man’s world among the pirates. Destined for more, she still finds it in herself to be fair and to overcome the challenges on her mission for a treasure map. Equally unique is the first mate who captures her interest and his interactions with the future pirate queen. With an added twist that may or may not surprise you later, this book is just what the YA genre needed.