Thursday, 14 November 2013

The Iron Traitor - Julie Kagawa

The Iron Traitor (Call of the Forgotten #2) -
Julie Kagawa
Grade: YA
Rating: 5/5 Stars

In the real world, when you vanish into thin air for a week, people tend to notice.

After his unexpected journey into the lands of the fey, Ethan Chase just wants to get back to normal. Well, as "normal" as you can be when you see faeries every day of your life. Suddenly the former loner with the bad reputation has someone to try for-his girlfriend, Kenzie. Never mind that he's forbidden to see her again.

But when your name is Ethan Chase and your sister is one of the most powerful faeries in the Nevernever, "normal" simply isn't to be. For Ethan's nephew, Keirran, is missing, and may be on the verge of doing something unthinkable in the name of saving his own love. Something that will fracture the human and faery worlds forever, and give rise to the dangerous fey known as the Forgotten. As Ethan's and Keirran's fates entwine and Keirran slips further into darkness, Ethan's next choice may decide the fate of them all. (Description from Goodreads)

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For those who don't know, The Iron Traitor is book 2 in the Call of the Forgotten series by Julie Kagawa, a spin off to The Iron Fey series. What I love about Ms Kagawa is that her books seem to be getting better and better with every release. Whilst I liked The Iron Fey series, I am loving Call of the Forgotten. I find it easier to connect with the characters and the world. Perhaps because there's more "human" interactions. You can never trust the Fey.

The Iron Traitor begins with Ethan and Mackenzie (Kenzie) returning from their trip into the Nevernever, only to find that 2 weeks has past in the real world. 2 weeks without their parents knowing what had happened to them or where they were. To say their parents were upset about this is an understatement. Nevertheless, Ethan and Kenzie are determined to get back to reality and try their hand at a "normal" relationship. Unfortunately "normal" doesn't last long. Not when Keirran (the Iron Prince) has gone missing and the whole of Nevernever is searching for him.

I always say if you want to truly enjoy a novel you have to finish it within 3 days. That way you are focused on the story and hence more connected. Well, due to unforeseen circumstances, it took me 3 weeks to finish this book.... And I loved every second that I was able to read it. Even in the short time frame I was able to read in, I found myself being drawn into the world and connect with the characters. I was always looking forward to seeing what would happen next. Let me tell you, a lot was happening. Just a snippet of things: Ethan was forced to acknowledge his feelings of betrayal and abandonment from Meghan. Kenzie was forced to deal with her father and her sickness. Annwyl was knocking on deaths door, and poor Keirran would do anything to save her even if it meant his own death. And then there's the prophesy that seems more and more likely to happen.

There were so many intense moments that you truly appreciate when Ms Kagawa throws in a character like Puck and suddenly a dangerous situation changes from intense to comical. "What? I never make things worse. I make things more interesting". That you do Puck, that you do.

I loved this book, and highly recommend this series. I can not wait for the next book (especially after that cliffhanger of an ending)

5/5 stars

(Also published to Goodreads)

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Allegiant - Veronica Roth

Allegiant (Divergent, #3)Allegiant (Divergent #3) - Veronica Roth
Grade: YA
Rating: 3/5 stars

One choice will define you.

What if your whole world was a lie?
What if a single revelation—like a single choice—changed everything?
What if love and loyalty made you do things you never expected?

The faction-based society that Tris Prior once believed in is shattered—fractured by violence and power struggles and scarred by loss and betrayal. So when offered a chance to explore the world past the limits she’s known, Tris is ready. Perhaps beyond the fence, she and Tobias will find a simple new life together, free from complicated lies, tangled loyalties, and painful memories.

But Tris’s new reality is even more alarming than the one she left behind. Old discoveries are quickly rendered meaningless. Explosive new truths change the hearts of those she loves. And once again, Tris must battle to comprehend the complexities of human nature—and of herself—while facing impossible choices about courage, allegiance, sacrifice, and love. (Description from Goodreads)

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I have mixed feelings about this book. I’m happy that Veronica Roth told the story she wanted to tell. As a big believer that the author should tell their own story, this one shows that very well. It has a very intense and tricky storyline, full of big twists and turns. The writing is as addictive as the previous books have been, in that it flows so well that you don’t realise you’ve made it through so many pages until you look down and they’re just gone. But as a fan, and a reader, I just didn’t love it as much as I wanted to, mainly because of the direction the plot went in and the main characters.

I felt like Allegiant was wiping the slate clean. We were almost immediately thrown out of a city we’ve spent two books exploring and pushed into an outside world where things like aeroplanes and non-faction populations exist, and the issues we all want to see resolved, mostly involving the city are just forgotten. Instead we start focusing of genetic issues on the outside, sort of brushing over the Divergent again and finding yet another controlling governing body to overthrow. I was expecting a journey outside city limits, I really was, but I sort of thought it would all tie in together with resolving faction issues back home. Instead it just seemed to make things more complicated and at the same time, city-life made irrelevant.

My other big issue was Tris and Four (I still refuse to call him Tobias – it’s not his chosen name). I had problems with these two in Insurgent; all the lying, secrets and trust issues – they weren’t the power couple I’d fallen in love with in Divergent. I figured their issues would have stopped after the end of book 2, but it felt like they spent the whole book going backwards. Fighting, keeping secrets, twisting each other words. I’ve always loved Four, so I found myself in his corner more than Tris’. I just kept getting frustrated that it didn’t seem to matter what Four did, it was always somehow wrong; while ‘perfect’ Tris managed to have incredibly spot-on instincts all the time, made all the right decisions and saved the day over and over again like she could do no wrong. The distance that kept growing between them was ridiculous and I couldn’t help thinking there wasn’t much hope for them as a couple.

Despite these issues, there were some parts of the book I really enjoyed. I loved the split POV between Tris and Four; not only because with my issues with Tris it meant I wasn’t only inside her head, but because Four and Tris were apart a lot, we got to see both sides of the story. I really enjoyed Four’s voice, seeing his struggle to fit into a world outside of the one he knew – struggling more than most – and just getting a glimpse at his thought processes. I definitely enjoyed that more than anything else.

Allegiant has an incredibly powerful ending and I can understand why readers may have had issues with it. As readers, we want to feel satisfied that our excitement and investment in characters hasn’t been all for nothing; and it’s not a secret that the majority of us have certain expectations when a series is ending. I thought the actual climax for the book, the crucial turning points and problem solving, epic Let’s-Save-the-Day! moments were a bit short. There was a lot of build-up to these final scenes and with the way the city and factions were almost forgotten for most of the book, to have their issues resolved so fast, it wasn’t what I was expecting – a whole book of lead-up to end within 2 or 3 chapters, it was fast. And because of that, I felt one of the ways all the problems came to a close was rushed. I probably shouldn’t be writing this review so soon after finishing, because I’m still processing it all, but at the same time; if I don’t get it out now I think I’d avoid finishing it.

I thought Veronica Roth was brave, to do something that’s not done often in YA books; but I feel a little crushed and empty with the result.

3/5 stars

(Also posted on Goodreads)