Book Reviews #01

Book Reviews #01

A brand new series? Uh-huh. After writing my first book review on this blog, I decided I can't always do that for every single book I've read so compiling a few reviews in one series is way more effective. Hopefully this way I don't write a very detailed review that will potentially spoil the book even though, let's be real, we all know I'm such a descriptive and detailed person.

The Body Electric by Beth Revis

Series – none
Genre – young adult dystopian science fiction, romance
Published by Scripturient Books | October 2014 | 351 pages

The world is at peace.

Welcome to new Malta, a futuristic dystopian city where technology becomes a literal part to human beings, a brand new place for androids and mortals to coexist. This is a world where citizens wear cuffs on their arms, live their life under the supervision of both technology and the higher ups and have nanobots injected into their body. It is also New Venice where reverie chairs, a device used by one to dream and relive memories, are invented. Amidst the fascination, we see the story unfolds through the eyes of Ella Shepherd, a decently likable protagonist to venture with. She is a multiple things all at once; a caring daughter, a spy, a runaway and a feisty protagonist who has the ability to enter other people's dreams. As the plot reveals itself to be more than just your typical young adult science fiction fest of 'girl meets strange mysterious boy', Ella began to question the people she puts her trust into and the people she never met before.

When I read this book, I found myself clinging onto the edge of my seat wanting more. The concept is fun, the world is fascinating and the writing – oh, believe me, the writing was never boring. No metaphors, no poetry, no excessive use of descriptions – this book was basically a quick and 'no bullshit' kind of read. While it is not a completely flawless book and there were definitely some loopholes (such as the characterization of Jack, Ella's love interest), I appreciate this book for its moderate use of romantic plot device because sappy, corny heroine with love problems is the last thing I want to read in a YA book. If you are a fan of science fiction and wants a book where science is the main focus, check this out.

A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray

Series – Firebird
Genre – young adult, science fiction, romance, fantasy
Published by Harper Teen | November 2014 | 360 pages

Cloud Atlas meets Orphan Black in this epic dimension-bending trilogy by New York Times bestselling author Claudia Gray about a girl who must chase her father's killer through multiple dimensions.

 By now, you should have known that I am a sucker for science fiction / fantasy genre especially if it involves topics such as time and parallel dimension. The first book from the Firebird series, A Thousand Pieces of You introduced us to Marguerite Caine, daughter of physicist parents who invented the Firebird, a device which allows users to jump into multiple universes. The plot follows Marguerite's hunt for the suspect to her father's death, an enigmatic Paul Markov who ran away into another dimension before the law could even touch him. Born from a wishing well of interesting concept and promising premise, this book is a fast paced read with a quick development and lots of potential. Character-wise, I did not fall in love immediately with Marguerite – not that I do now but she definitely does not make me want to rip the book apart despite some of her objectionable decisions. Likewise, the other two characters – Paul and Theo – are not bad. In fact, I find Paul interesting and quite different than your typical charming "bad boy" smooth talker love interest. Still, it is definitely not a book without flaw. Even so, I gave it a solid 3/5 rating for its amazing cover and potential. Also, as the story unfolds, the plot reveals itself to be a love story with hints and spices of science fiction and fantasy instead of vice versa so if you are someone who is into young adult romance, this might work for you. note – yes I'm going to continue reading this series.

The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell

Series – none
Genre – drama / science fiction / fantasy
Published by Random House | September 2014 | 624 pages

If I were to describe this book in a single sentence, I'd say this is where Cloud Atlas meets Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children. Like Mitchell's previous book Cloud Atlas, Divided into six sections written by five different narrators and based on their point of view, The Bone Clocks reminds me of the "six degree of separation" phenomenon, a shrinking world idea where all living things and everything else in this world are six or fewer steps away from each other. These short stories and narrators are loosely connected by the character Holly Sykes, a gifted young woman who carries the "invisible eye" and semi-psychic abilities as she found herself to be involved in a war between two immortal factions, one who is able to incarnate and the other who gain immortality by murdering others. The title itself is a disparaging terminology used in the book to refer to us mortals who are doomed to age and die.

Beautiful, poetic and very intricate, this book easily won my heart through its writing style. The pacing, however, is a slow one. Mitchell took so much time in elaborating one scene with run-on sentences and poetic tones that at some point, I felt the plot fell stagnant. Not ugly, just stagnant. Needless to say, I survived. I don't know how but I survived this book. I gave it a firm 4/5 rating for Mitchell's intricate ways of storytelling, the book's concept of how fragile humans actually are and that we are nothing but tools for the higher beings and a dramatic supernatural rising action. If you are someone who can't stand really slow pacing, massive use of run-on sentences and dramatic literature device then you might not like this book as much.

The Wonders by Paddy O'Reilly

Series – none
Genre – contemporary fiction
Published by Washington Square Press | February 2015 | 288 pages

I don't know why I picked this book. Okay, I lied. I knew why. The premise was interesting, the concept sounded fun and I'm a sucker for everything and anything strange, peculiar and odd. I'm also a fan of circus-themed stories so when I found this book where it's a story about three peculiar modified human beings and a freak show they were recruited to be a part of, I was intrigued. First we have Leo, a man with visible mechanical heart; second we have Kathryn who was cured from a rare genetic disease and is now covered in curly black wool; last but not least, we have Christos, a performance artist who chose to have a pair of metal wings planted into his back. Together, they are The Wonders, a glamorous twenty first century freak show.

Unfortunately, despite Paddy O'Reilly's sensible and practical writing, the book did not appeal to me in any way. It fell flat and bland, dull and boring with barely any tension or rising action that pinned me to the edge of my seat. While it is tolerable at best and can be quite cinematic in some parts, this book left no impression in my heart whatsoever.

The Ballroom by Anna Hope

Series – none
Genre – adult romance & historical fiction

Published by McClelland & Stewart | February 2016 | 320 pages

Where love is your only escape...

Set in 1911 at the end of Edwardian era, The Ballroom is a beautiful and emotional tale of two individuals separated by high walls and barred windows in an asylum at the edge of Yorkshire moors, a place for the "feeble minded and chronic paupers." For one evening of every week, the women and men from respective wards are brought and assembled in The Ballroom to come together and dance. This is the story of John and Ella who met through a dance and have it changed their lives forever.

I can't even begin to describe how happy I was to have picked this book. It's emotional, it makes you question about things like humanity, the female gender and the eugenics movement. The characters to have tugged the string in my heart were more than just Ella Fay and John Mulligan; there was Clem, an avid reader who befriends Ella and then there was Dr. Charles Fuller whose obsession with the eugenics movement evolved into a vengeful ambition. Each of the character carries with them a depth that makes you see how life is like in and beyond the asylum. This is a lovely, emotionally intelligent and compelling book with a bittersweet finale.

Serpent's Kiss by Melissa de la Cruz

Series – The Beauchamp Family
Genre – fantasy, supernatural, romance
Published by McClelland & Stewart | February 2016 | 320 pages

The second installment to de la Cruz's supposedly adult fiction The Beauchamp Family, Serpent's Kiss follows the lives of Freya, Ingrid and Joanna throughout each of their respective problems. For Freya, it is to keep her brother from taking his revenge on the man she loves. For Ingrid, it is to make a choice between protecting a bunch of magical creatures or her human boyfriend. For their mother Joanna, it is to figure out why a dead spirit is trying to make contact with her.

Like its predecessor, Serpent's Kiss tells the story of different arcs that, once resolved, fall in place altogether. While Witches of East End – its prequel – finished on a high note, I can't say the same for Serpent's Kiss. The characters, the writing, the plot – everything made me feel like they weren't better than the first book. In fact, I wasn't convinced and the ending failed to make me run for the third book even though I will definitely finish the series just for the sake of it. For an "adult fiction" read, I also think the writing feels more like a young adult book instead. The only "adult fiction" sense I got was from all the sex scenes written in it. For what it's worth, this is definitely the kind of book you read for the sake of temporary break. I personally think the author's Blue Bloods series was way better than this.

I try my best to be brief and quick with the review but as you can see, I'm a sucker for details. Feel free to follow my Goodreads since I sometimes post a more thorough review there.

What book did you finished reading lately? Did you like it?