Sunday, 26 October 2014

By Garth Nix
Goodreads describes Sabriel as:
Sent to a boarding school in Ancelstierre as a young child, Sabriel has had little experience with the random power of Free Magic or the Dead who refuse to stay dead in the Old Kingdom. But during her final semester, her father, the Abhorsen, goes missing, and Sabriel knows she must enter the Old Kingdom to find him. She soon finds companions in Mogget, a cat whose aloof manner barely conceals its malevolent spirit, and Touchstone, a young Charter Mage long imprisoned by magic, now free in body but still trapped by painful memories. As the three travel deep into the Old Kingdom, threats mount on all sides. And every step brings them closer to a battle that will pit them against the true forces of life and death—and bring Sabriel face-to-face with her own destiny.

With Sabriel, the first installment in the Abhorsen trilogy, Garth Nix exploded onto the fantasy scene as a rising star, in a novel that takes readers to a world where the line between the living and the dead isn't always clear—and sometimes disappears altogether.

If recently you have witnessed the release of Clariel, Garth Nix’s latest addition to his Old Kingdom series and wanted to read it, but found yourself wanting/wondering whether to read his other novels first, I highly, highly recommend you do.

Sabriel was published before I was even born, in 1995. This might be the same for you, dear fellow YA reader. But the absolutely wonderful thing about Nix’s books and just about every fantasy novel is that the story, the themes, its morals, just never become irrelevant or out of style, which can be a common thing with contemporary novels. As times change along with people’s interests and way of speech, contemporary novels can begin to feel old, fast. But as you can see from examples like The Lord of the Rings, fantasy remains. Sabriel is just as good a read as any other YA fantasy books released today.

Many young YA authors today have grown up with Sabriel as their very own heroine. In Lirael (the 2nd book in the series) it features a sword names Nehima, sounding very familiar to Sarah J Maas’s character Nehemia in her Throne of Glass series, showing her teenage love and respect for the books.

Nix’s writing is a mix of things, he paints such great images of his world and has some hard hitting lines, but he also manages to capture the teenage spirit and add humour despite its dangerous storyline.

Sabriel is the perfect heroine, she is a fabulous role model, she’s strong, intelligent, determined…I can’t sing praises about her enough.

The world of the Old Kingdom and Ancelstierre are so well linked and described. Everything is explained and has a reason, for example phones, which if left unexplained could’ve become an easy plot-hole for readers to pick at. Having both places in the book allows the best of both worlds for the reader, and makes them want to live there, you still have a modern world with handy appliances like phones and yet still have a wonderful land of magic and adventure right next door!

The use of talking animals can often seem silly in books. But Mogget the cat is an unforgettable character, with a cheeky personality and layers to his character. You constantly have to question your liking for the cat, but Nix still makes you love him. Mogget goes beyond the usual talking animal in literature. Nix manages to weave him so well that it’s so natural for a cat to be talking as still keeps that animalistic sense of being a cat in everything he does, as often talking animals can act too human.

The little hint of a love story in Sabriel is wonderful, it doesn’t take away any of the spotlight on the story being about Sabriel, as can often happen if the author gets too invested in the building of a romance. It was great to have the girl save the boy (strong women-yay!).

Finally, the storyline is so wonderfully unique! I’ve never experienced any others like it. I’ll always remember Sabriel.

I would give Sabriel 4 out of 5 stars!

Thursday, 9 October 2014

                                                             The Young Elites
By Marie Lu

“Be true to yourself. But that's something everyone says and no one mean.”

Goodreads description of The Young Elites:
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.

Marie Lu is back! With a brand new series which is just about as different as you can get from her Legend trilogy. Instead of dystopian, The Young Elites is a fantasy novel. If you also feel in love with Lu’s writing style in the Legend Trilogy, you’ll feel a sense of ease slipping back into her easy style with The Young Elites.

The Young Elites has the feel of a fantasy The Darkest Minds (By Alexandra Bracken). A disease leaves children/teenagers with special abilities. These children are segregated and they hope and act for a better country/governing body.

The Young Elites is a little hard to slip in to, much more than the Legend Trilogy. Because it is a fantasy novel, the world needs to be built and you need to familiarise yourself with its oddities. The atmosphere is a little hard to imagine as there isn’t a large scale description, the map at the front catches attention, so I want more of an introduction into this wonderful world.

The different points of view were a little off-putting at times as you were introduced to many characters at once. I think because of the amount of characters and world building with it being the first book made it hard to form bonds with any other character but the main one, Adelina. The main character Adelina is simultaneously a good character and a bad one, she’s been through such a hard time and you feel for her.Lu always writes such layered characters, but, she isn’t very relatable and her emotional state and inside magical workings were hard to get your head around.

The romance in the story was nicely fitted and enjoyable; it didn’t overshadow the storyline at all but was relevant and added some happiness to the story.

The epilogue of the story, in my opinion, was the best part of the story. Before the epilogue, the end had left me wondering as to what could possibly happen next, but not desperate to know, but the epilogue really caught my attention. That made me excited for the next one!

I would give The Young Elites 3.5 stars. 

Sunday, 5 October 2014

The Infinite Sea
By Rick Yancey
“When you look death in the eye and death blinks first, nothing seems impossible”

Goodreads description of The Infinite Sea:
How do you rid the Earth of seven billion humans? Rid the humans of their humanity.

Surviving the first four waves was nearly impossible. Now Cassie Sullivan finds herself in a new world, a world in which the fundamental trust that binds us together is gone. As the 5th Wave rolls across the landscape, Cassie, Ben, and Ringer are forced to confront the Others’ ultimate goal: the extermination of the human race.

Cassie and her friends haven’t seen the depths to which the Others will sink, nor have the Others seen the heights to which humanity will rise, in the ultimate battle between life and death, hope and despair, love and hate.

If you liked The 5th Wave, be prepared to fall deeper into Yancey’s story in The Infinite Sea.

Yancey’s writing is still just as exquisite and unique. He controls the power to make you stare at the book dumbfounded for a few minutes from merely a word or make you question everything the book has previously told you. He has such a haunting narrative.

All your favourite characters are back in The Infinite Sea, if a bit battered. Ringer becomes a bigger part of the story, which pleased me immensely as she struck me as such a strong intelligent female character in the first book. I hope you like her too.

The storyline is just as explosive as the first book; it’s full of intrigue, action and suspense. It has you constantly on edge and questioning everything, eager for more.

I love how Yancey deals with secondary characters; each one has their own, just as horrific as the main characters, back-story, sometimes you just don’t know about it yet. It makes you think that these characters could just as easily be the main characters, who aren’t more special than them; they’ve all been through the same things. You begin to respect them more than you would secondary characters from other series’ and hold them just as high as your favourite main characters. You remember them.

Just when you think you find a seemingly plot-hole looking thing in the story, Yancey has an answer or at least a hint to an answer yet to come. Why did the aliens attack now? If all it takes is a big rock to destroy the human population, why are they toying with us? He is relentless in covering and answering every point.

I would highly recommend rereading the first book before diving into The Infinite Sea, or read a recap as it’s sometimes hard to remember the who’s who of secondary characters and what happened. The Infinite Sea is significantly shorter than its predecessor, by around 150 pages, a downside if you prefer long books.

Being the 2nd book, which in a series, can sometimes take a nose dive, The Infinite Sea manages to hold itself up high with the 1st. It might not equal the 1st’s many shocking revelations at every turn, being more of a filler and builder book, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t just as exciting.

I would award The Infinite Sea 4.5 stars.
And now the long wait for the next book commences…