Author: Lauren Oliver
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Date: March 2013
Source: ARC from publisher
Battling against a society in which love has been declared a disease, Lena now finds herself at the centre of a fierce revolution. But the Wilds are no longer the haven they once were as the government seeks to stamp out the rebels. And Lena's emotions are in turmoil following the dramatic return of someone she thought was lost forever...
Told from the alternating viewpoints of Lena and her best friend Hana, Requiem brings the Delirium trilogy to an exhilarating end and showcases Lauren Oliver at the height of her writing powers - emotionally powerful and utterly enthralling.
I fear the end of an incredible journey with a series. Partly because I don’t want the world to be closed forever, sometimes it’s because I don’t want the fandom to end, but mostly it’s because I don’t want to be let down. I want it to end WELL. So as much as I was looking forward to Requiem after the fantastic Pandemonium, my fears were realised. It didn’t quite live up to my expectations.
Requiem takes place after the shocking end of Pandemonium. It alternates between Lena’s point of view and Hana’s. Lena is back in the Wilds, and struggling with her personal demons (boys, naturally) while the Invalids plan a big stand against the government. On the other hand, Hana’s wedding to Fred, the new mayor of Portland, is fast approaching. While her life seems perfect, she’s starting to question whether her cure is working and discovering things about her future husband-to-be that make her very afraid.
I didn’t dislike the book, quite the contrary. The same things I loved in the first two books were present in spades, like Oliver’s beautiful prose and how she tugs on my heartstrings. Lena’s sorrow and pain are beautifully described and my emotions switched between heartbreak and anger at the Lena, Alex and Julian situation (mainly because I thought it should’ve clearly been Julian). I also thoroughly enjoyed Hana’s return, and I found her life and the mysteries in it very compelling. It was interesting to read from the point of view of someone who is essentially supposed to be devoid of emotions, but struggles how to deal with these feelings bubbling to the surface.
The book definitely suffered from the ‘Deathly Hallows’ syndrome, where too much of the story was unnecessary wandering around the Wilds. I felt awful for the situation that they faced, but raced through these frankly boring parts. The Invalids seemed aimless for most of it, and despite the brief little glimpses where Oliver explores the pain of having loved and lost, it should’ve just fast-forwarded to the story’s culmination in Portland.
I was so annoyed about these slow sections because about 80% through the book, I found myself thinking and writing ‘holy snapple’, a phrase I have never once uttered. The book got GOOD. The rebellion was in full force, everyone had a plan, the tense excitement I felt for much of Pandemonium was back—this was what I was waiting for. Then I started to panic as I realised I only had a measly 50 pages left of the book and so much I still want to see happen and resolve…that never did. There were some fantastic scenes towards the end, my favourite being the one where Lena and Hana finally meet, but what about everything else? What about the characters I have come to know and love? What about the state of the world?
So there you have it, a disappointing ending to what I still feel is a great series—not because of the quality of the book, but because I wanted more. And I’m sure I’m not alone in feeling like this.
Author: Kiersten White
Series: Paranormalcy #2
Publisher: Harper Teen
Date: July 2011
Evie finally has the normal life she’s always longed for. But she’s shocked to discover that being ordinary can be...kind of boring. Just when Evie starts to long for her days at the International Paranormal Containment Agency, she’s given a chance to work for them again. Desperate for a break from all the normalcy, she agrees.
But as one disastrous mission leads to another, Evie starts to wonder if she made the right choice. And when Evie’s faerie ex-boyfriend Reth appears with devastating revelations about her past, she discovers that there’s a battle brewing between the faerie courts that could throw the whole supernatural world into chaos. The prize in question? Evie herself.
So much for normal.
I thoroughly enjoyed the first in the series, Paranormalcy and I was looking forward to finding out more about Evie, Lend and the gang. Unfortunately, this book suffered from second book syndrome, where it struggles to find a balance between an interesting premise and great characters in the first book, and the eventual climax of the third. Supernaturally had some of the things I enjoyed about the first book, but just not enough.
Evie has left the IPCA and now attends high school like a normal girl (as normal as you can be living with a vampire). Lend has just started going to college, so Evie now finds it all a bit boring and when she gets called back by Raquel to do some ‘freelance work’ she jumps at the chance.
Enter Jack. Slightly too happy, very flirty, Jack is also employed by the IPCA due to his unique ability to be able to create fairy paths even though he’s human. He gains Evie’s friendship and they soon go on missions together and Jack starts getting a little close.
Of course Evie keeps this all from Lend, which puts a damper on their relationship. Sadly, Lend is a fantastic character and he wasn’t present through most of the book, which is probably why I didn’t enjoy it as much. Reth was sadly missing in spades as well.
Evie was her bubbly self, but she lacked a bit of the feistiness she showed when she was kicking ass and tagging paranormal creatures. It was also uncharacteristic of her not to confide in Lend, when he was the one person in her life she always felt would understand the situation, no matter how strange or weird.
The story, plot wise, was good and it kept me reading—I enjoyed spending more time in the fairy realm and I thought the plot went out with a bang. There was also a little bit more about Evie and her origins but I still felt like there was a lot left unexplained at the end of this book. All in all, it was disappointing because the series started off so great, but I’m still looking forward to a fantastic finale!
Author: Philippa Gregory
Series: The Cousins’ War, Book 3
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Published: October 2011
Readers first met Jacquetta in The White Queen, as mother of King Edward IV’s commoner queen, Elizabeth Woodville. The Lady of the Rivers is the compelling prelude to this tale and begins with Jacquetta as a young woman of rare beauty possessing the mixed blessing of second sight.
Jacquetta rises swiftly through marriage to the Duke of Bedford, English Regent of France, who introduces her to a mysterious world of learning and alchemy. Yet the Duke shows little interest in his new bride beyond her ability to divine the future, and Jacquetta’s only solace in the great household is the handsome squire Richard Woodville, who is at her side when she is left a wealthy young widow. The two become lovers and marry in secret, eventually returning to England to serve at the court of the young King Henry VI, where Jacquetta becomes a close and loyal friend to his queen, Margaret of Anjou.
The Woodvilles soon occupy a privileged place at the very heart of the Lancaster court, though Jacquetta can sense the growing threat of revolt from the people of England. When the king slips into an inexplicable sleep, the kingdom is divided into the rival camps of Margaret and her untrustworthy advisors and the followers of Richard, Duke of York, who threatens to claim the throne. Jacquetta must navigate a treacherous path along both sides of the battle lines as the safety of her family and the rule of the House of Lancaster hang in the balance.
I wasn’t as excited about this book when I heard about who it would be focused on, especially since the planned fourth book in the series will feature Elizabeth of York and picks up where the first two books in the series left off, chronologically. I thought visiting Jacquetta was a step backwards. However, I found the book as entertaining and educational as all of Gregory’s historical fiction and it was nice to get extra context into all of the relationships and figures involved this turbulent time in English history.
Jacquetta was a refreshingly different heroine. Her focus was not on achieving political power, status or wealth, like so many women of her day. She was handed her Duchess title because of her innocence and heritage and during that fated first marriage learned that fulfilling her desire to be a woman—a passionate wife, loving mother and good friend—was what was ultimately important. She did have power, status and wealth but you always felt that she would’ve traded it all for a quiet life in the country with her family.
Jacquetta and her second husband Richard’s relationship was one of real love and fidelity and lots of children, which was extremely sweet. She married him because she loved him, simple as that. In most historical fiction I’ve read, so many of the relationships are plagued with infidelity and infertility. It adds drama, sure, but after a while I am starting to believe that no one in the 15th and 16th centuries had a normal family dynamic. It was also nice to know that Richard didn’t meet an early death or disability and even though they were apart, they always found their way back to each other.
Author: Kristin Cashore
Series: Graceling Realm Book 3
Published: May 2012
Eight years after Graceling, Bitterblue is now queen of Monsea. But the influence of her father, a violent psychopath with mind-altering abilities, lives on. Her advisers, who have run things since Leck died, believe in a forward-thinking plan: Pardon all who committed terrible acts under Leck’s reign, and forget anything bad ever happened. But when Bitterblue begins sneaking outside the castle–disguised and alone–to walk the streets of her own city, she starts realizing that the kingdom has been under the thirty-five-year spell of a madman, and the only way to move forward is to revisit the past.
Two thieves, who only steal what has already been stolen, change her life forever. They hold a key to the truth of Leck’s reign. And one of them, with an extreme skill called a Grace that he hasn’t yet identified, holds a key to her heart.
I was so excited for this book. I’ve been waiting for it for what seems like forever and now that I’ve finally read it, I feel quite disappointed. I don’t really know what I was expecting but Bitterblue certainly didn’t wow me or carry the greatness of either Graceling or Fire.
And this saddens me because I really liked Graceling and absolutely loved Fire.
So, what’s this one about? Well, its there on the tin, this one is about Bitterblue. Set about 8 years after the events of Graceling in the Kingdom of Monsea, Bitterblue is struggling to adjust to life as Queen of a Kingdom trying to deal with the aftermath of the death of its former ruler, and Bitterblue’s evil father King Leck. Even though she is Queen of an entire Kingdom, Bitterblue feels like she doesn’t have a grip on what goes on in her Kingdom and feels as though her Advisers are keeping secrets from her and hiding real ‘truths’ about the time of Leck from her.
I did find all this interesting. It was good to see how Bitterblue was faring, along with the help of a certain Graceling couple, Katsa and Po and learning about all the other developments and happenings in the seven Kingdoms. And as Bitterblue becomes more curious about her Kingdom she starts to sneek out at night and dress as a baker girl so that she can wander round the city and see for herself what really goes on and what people are talking about. While in the city she makes friends with a really interesting group of people and I loved these sections.
However, after a while it all became a little… repetitive. Unfortunately as Bitterblue begins to discover that things in her city are not as she is being told, more and more questions appear and the story becomes more and more complicated and difficult to follow. For a large portion in the middle of the book, it just really dragged and the excitement went away. I became bored of all the puzzles and clues Bitterblue was trying to solve.
And so, although I did enjoy being back in this beautifully written fantasy world with Gracelings and Kingdoms, sword fights and mysteries, unfortunately the storyline really let it down in a big way… for me.
If you’ve read the first two books I wouldn’t say don’t read this one because it does answer a lot of questions and brings a lot of closure to the story as a whole and I dare say the weak storyline is probably not a problem for everyone but it was for me and for this reason I’ve had to give Bitterblue only 3 stars.
Author: Gayle Forman
Series: If I Stay, Book 1
Life can change in an instant.
A cold February morning…
A snowy road…
And suddenly all of Mia’s choices are gone.
As alone as she’ll ever be, Mia must make the most difficult choice of all.
I had high expectations of this book. Everybody who read it seemed to rave about it and promised me that I would be blown away by it. So when I finished it, I was actually disappointed that I did not feel this way.
Don’t get me wrong, this is a very cleverly written book and I enjoyed it for what it was. But it didn’t leave me awestruck and in desperate need to read the sequel. I just thought it was good but with no wow factor.
The story takes place all in one 24 hour time period. There are no actual chapters; the story is simply updated by inserting the time every so often. And we are told the story from the point of view of Mia. Mia is in a terrible car accident right at the beginning of the book and finds herself sort of ‘trapped’ between life and death. She is viewing the aftermath of the accident and all that is happening in the ‘physical world’ as a separate entity to her actual body. I found this very unique and a completely different way of telling a story.
And of course the rest of the story revolves around Mia trying to decide whether to stay in the world of the living where her life will be very different or to ‘cross over’ into death and in essence ‘give up’.
As you can probably imagine, this makes for some quite grim and depressing reading. This did not bother me at all. What did bother me were the flash backs. As Mia hovers between life and death and as various relatives and friends come to visit her in hospital, she one by one delves back into her past going through pivotal moments in her life with these various people. Now I understand that these were needed in order for her to make the decision she made but as a personal preference of mine, I simply am not a fan of flash backs in books. I feel like the story is not moving forward if we have to keep skipping back. And about 50% of this book seemed to be consisted of flash backs. So for this complaint, I think it’s actually a case of reader preference, if flashbacks don’t annoy you like they do me, then you would probably enjoy this book a lot more than I did.
If I Stay is a short, clever and emotional read but for me, I just didn’t ‘get’ what all the hype has been about.