Ra(w)R: Legacy of Tril Book One: Soulbound

Legacy of Tril Book One: Soulbound, by Heather Brewer

Tentative publishing date: July 2012

Publisher: Dial Books, a division of Penguin Publishing

Genre/target audience: YA fantasy, seventh grade and up

Allie stats:

Time to completion: two hours

Difficulty: none- but my tension was through the roof!

Stars: 7.5/10

Review:

This is the story of Kaya, a Healer, who exists in a world that is tormented by a hundred years’ war unknown to many of its inhabitants. Kaya’s parents are both Barrons, warriors trained to kill Graplars [evil beasties], but as a Healer, Kaya is forbidden by Protocol to learn to fight. At the training academy she has been sent to, she finds that this world she’s been forced into is even less, and even more, than she thought it was, and is determined to be able to defend herself and her loved ones. The question is, can she find someone to train her, and what will the consequences be if that happens?

I adored this book, zoomed through it, and now am dying at the fact that this is the first book in the series, and it hasn’t even been published yet. It isn’t a new story- a heroine, two heroes, conflict of interests, giving the finger to The Man- but it’s one of my favorite stories, and this world that has been created feels nice and new. It isn’t a sci-fi world, it’s a fantasy one- agrarian villages with dirt roads, but it isn’t the frustrating kind where it seems development has been held back on purpose. Describing the training academy’s library, the clothes they wear- I wasn’t frustrated by it, and that’s often a problem for me. Heather Brewer is a master as well at ratcheting up the tension. Sitting here on the plane I was super jumpy and kept fidgeting. Probably bugged the crap out of my seatmate, but what can you do?

Another thing I enjoyed was Kaya’s age. As a 23 year old, I don’t really have any right to read YA and claim it as my own, but choices in adult fantasy, I feel, can often require too much effort (Game of Thrones anyone?), so even though I roll my eyes at her petulance sometimes, connecting to a 17 year old isn’t a huge stretch. Ask me again next year how I feel about that.

So why not ten out of ten stars? The tension is there and the descriptions are there, but some of the writing falls flat a little bit, especially in Kaya’s inner monologue. Sure, it’s possible for a teenage girl (or any woman, I think) to be furious at someone one moment and down for canoodling the next, but at I’d appreciate a little more something on her part. I sometimes felt that the effort was made to express her thoughts, but the articulation was just a little short. And as for the rest of the stars, I mean, I am comparing this to Arthur and George, so just let it go.

All that being said, I can’t wait for the next book to come out, so much so that I curse picking up this ARC at ALA because I just want to hop off the plane and get the next one!

On the theme of two guys and one girl: why is that the go-to triangle compared to one guy and two girls? Is it because we’ll attack the girls for being petty or bitchy or catty? A girl who has to choose between two lovers is perhaps more desirable- her innocence at her indecision or fright at having to choose is appealing because in books these heroines are generally having to choose between two versions of love. Either will make her happy and give her a fulfilling life, but it isn’t possible for her to choose wrong. (Well, in a reader’s mind that could be up for debate, but the theory remains the same.)

We have loads of examples of these boy-girl-boy triangles: Gale-Katniss-Peeta [Hunger Games], Edward-Bella-Jacob [Twilight], Ethan-Isabel-Arkarian [Guardians of Time, by Marianne Curley- this one is a sort of], Darius-Kaya-Trayton [Legacy of Tril], Perris-Tally-David [Uglies series by Scott Westerfeld- this one is a sort of, but the point plays true], even Harry-Hermione-Ron [while not a romantic scenario, Hermione is put in between them more than once and forced to choose]. And those are just the ones I can think of at 35,000 feet cruising altitude. Five minutes on the internet would give me a list much longer than that, but I don’t think it’s necessary. I’m hard pressed to think of books that feature a girl-boy-girl triangle, and while I’m sure they exist, maybe me not being able to think of any off the top of my head is a good enough example of how they aren’t as prevalent. Perhaps it’s a target audience thing- this book (in fact, most of those books I listed, excepting Harry Potter and the Guardians of Time series) is told from a female point of view, and probably appeal to a female audience in general over a male one (but I think loads of boys would enjoy any of those books. Ok, maybe not Twilight).

Maybe another reason it’s boy-girl-boy is because the authors of the books I listed as examples are female (except Scott Westerfeld, he of the Uglies series). I’m totally projecting here, but if I were writing a book with a romance element in it, I’d do the same thing. Because it’s probably the most romantic thing I could think of, especially while I was writing about characters in high school. Or college. Or graduate school. Whatever. Or there could be as simple a reason as, “the plot just worked out better that way,” which is completely legitimate and probably the best reason of all of them.

Ra(w)R: The Catastrophic History of You and Me

The Catastrophic History of You and Meby Jess Rothenberg

Release date: Feb 21, 2012

Publisher: Dial Books, an imprint of Penguin

Allie stats:

Difficulty level: non-existent

Time to Completion: about 3 hours all together

1-10 rating: 4

Review:

I found this book via Penguin Teen’s twitter account and thought it looked kind of adorable. Girl and boy are in love. Boy tells girl he doesn’t love her. Girl’s heart breaks in half (literally breaks in half) and she dies. Now what does she do with herself? How does she move on, or does she even? And who’s this other dead kid hanging out with her and trying to get her to move through the five stages of grief?

I was excited to read this because I knew it would be easy, it would be a love story, and it would probably take me two seconds. And while all of those things were true, what this book was NOT became rapidly apparent: this book was not good. Sad, but true. (IF certain people read this and IF I say this book was a lot like a certain blog we used to read, then you’ll know in what way I mean this book was not good.) I wouldn’t go so far as to say this book was bad, it just wasn’t good. The style didn’t do it for me at all, and while there were moments of “good” it wasn’t enough to cover awkward phrasing and weird-half sentences and just general immaturity.

I liked this version of the afterlife and I totally fell in love with the Love Interest (so at least that part worked) but the end was all this big rush of crazy that I couldn’t follow, and didn’t really want to. Unfortunately, this is one of those YA books that gives the really, really good YA books a not-stellar name. I might try a second book by this brand new author. Could be that she just needs to work the kinks out. Or could be that I am just way, way too far out of the target audience for this one, which is totally legit, but sad. She has clever ideas.

 

Quotable quotes:

Every chapter title is a song title! So that’s fun.

Ra(w)R: Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone

Amelia Anne Is Dead and Gone by Kat Rosenfield

Release date: July 5, 2012

Publisher: Dutton Books

Allie stats:

Difficulty level: No new words this time, but I had to work to pay attention or I’d miss something.

Time to completion: All together about 4 hours spread out over a week.

Ugh, Meh, Whatever, Yeah!, or OHMIGOSH: Yeah!

Review:

                This book, as are so many books, is about life and death. But whose life and whose death we’re actually talking about is a little hazy. Rebecca has just graduated from high school and is getting ready to move out of her little town. Amelia has just graduated from college, and was murdered. It seems like the plot line would be straightforward and guessable. It’s not.

There were a couple of things I really loved about this book. It’s almost like prose, really beautifully written with some odd sentence structures that catch both the eye and the mind. I really enjoyed that our characters were older rather than younger.  I don’t need characters to be set close to my age, but I feel that what they go through is more real when their lives go at the same pace mine did. I did reach a point in the book where I couldn’t read it last thing before going to sleep because it got to be super creepy, but I couldn’t put it down, so points there.

Keep an eye out for this one!

Quotable quotes:

By midnight, the lengthening shadows in the yard had become pitch-black and impenetrable. James was on the couch with me now. He had put his arm around me in spite of the heat. Everyone was drunk. The conversation was noticeably quieter- partly because Lindsay was gone, had slipped away with Craig somewhere beyond the halo cast by the back-porch light. And partly because the subject was murder.

Bonus Ra(w)R: An Abundance of Katherines

An Abundance of Katherines by John Green

Release date: September 21, 2006

Publisher: Dutton

Allie Stats:

Difficulty level: Oh John-Green-YA-Novels, how I love your vocabulary. It all sounds fancy, and there’s probably a 7th grader out there somewhere who has to use the dictionary attribute on the kindle for this, but my 13 years in the public school system didn’t fail me! I may have done some eye-glazing with the math bit, but I did try to read through the appendix. And then skipped to the end. Just keeping it honest.

Time to completion: about three hours.

Ugh, Meh, Whatever, Yeah!, or OHMIGOSH: This is somewhere between an Yeah! and an OHMIGOSH. The scale may need some revising.

Review:

An Abundance of Katherines  is this completely adorable book by John Green, an author I’m coming more and more to love. If you paid attention, you would notice that this is the second John Green book on the blog (and as such, this is a bonus review and doesn’t count towards the goal). John Green is a favorite with the Cloyd ladies, but it took many, many years for me to read his first book, Looking for Alaska. I think this is because I knew B loved it so much, and I knew we have really, really different tastes in books, and I knew that if I read it and hated it, she’d be really disappointed, and if I read it and loved it, I’d not want to love the same exact thing as my sister and would probably hate it anway. Which is why last summer out of the clear blue sunny skies I picked it up and read Alaska in about two hours while no one was home. And loved it. But not like in a whoa-life-changing-way, which is what I think it was for B and R, but in a I-really-had-to-think-about-what-high-school-was-like-and-I-don’t-like-it kind of way. Oddly enough, that worked for me, and I joined the TFiOS countdown. But for some reason I decided that going from Alaska to TFiOS was ok, and I could just skip the other books John Green had written or co-authored in between. So I read Will Grayson, Will Grayson over break, and then just now I read Katherines and next up is Paper Towns.

Point is, I really like John Green. But I digress.

Katherines is different than other John Green novels because of its basically cute, rom-com storyline that follows a washed up child prodigy name Colin who has been dumped by a Katherine 19 times. And no, that isn’t the same girl who gets a kick out of on-again, off-again relationships, but 19 distinct relationships. Wowza. Post-high school graduation, Colin takes off on a road trip with his good buddy Hassan, looking for a distraction and possibly a job.

TFiOS not withstanding, this may be my favorite John Green book. I read most of it on the train going in and out of the city today and I felt like an idiot pretty much the whole time because I could not stop laughing. I’m not gonna say that I think at anywhere near the level Colin does, but when he makes random connections and then has to say it out loud and then nobody gets what the crap he’s talking about- I can relate to that. Everyone can relate to wanting to matter, but maybe if you’ve always heard that you’re supposed to matter, the pressure is even more on and you can relate even more to Colin.

If you have some free time and you just want to laugh, I’d highly recommend this book. Also, there’s stuff about oral history (awesome!), places where famous people are buried (always interesting), anagrams (which I suck at but am impressed by people who can do it), and capitalism.

ps. still working on Atlas Shrugged. I needed a break from that, my head was gonna explode. Messy.

Ra(w)R: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Release date: January 10, 2012

Publisher: Dutton, an imprint of Penguin

 

Allie stats:

Difficulty level: Enjoyable without feeling stupid. I learned some new words, namely hamartia (a fatal flaw leading to the downfall of the hero or heroine) and indefatigable (persisting tirelessly). The second isn’t a new word so much as it takes me a bit of time to say it in my head and therefore feels like a new word every time I come to it.

Time to completion: Two and a half solid hours. Plane travel, what can you do.

Ugh, Meh, Whatever, Yeah!, or OHMIGOSH: OHMIGOSH

 

Review:

The basic storyline (Boy Meets Girl) may be old hat but the twist in this book (both Boy and Girl have cancer) is heart-wrenching. The incredible part is that The Fault in Our Stars isn’t about cancer. It’s about teenagers learning really shitty, important life lessons while at the same time having cancer. This is a goodness, I think, because the thing about books about people with cancer is that a lot of the time, the book is solely about cancer. Those suck to read. The possibilities for endings are limited, lots of medical terms are thrown around without definition or correct usage, and they are generally depressing. Not that I didn’t cry while reading TFiOS, but see, I laughed too. There was a purpose to the pain that even I, a  not-teenager without cancer, could understand and learn from.

Nerdfighteria (go look up Vlogbrothers; Hank and John Green; DFTBA) was in a state of chaos waiting for this book to come out and I don’t think anyone will be let down. I’m glad I went straight for the Kindle edition of this book. The books that mean the most to me should always be close by.

 

Quotable quotes:

 

As he read, I fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly, and then all at once.

 

I could imagine it. I could remember it. But I couldn’t see it again, and it occurred to me that the voracious ambition of humans is never sated by dreams coming true, because there is always the thought that everything might be done better and again.