The Young Elites

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Author: Marie Lu

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 4/5

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Twelve years ago, the land of Kennetra was ravaged by a deathly plague called the bloodfever. It kills the adults who caught the disease while those children that survived were left with scars and other odd markings. Other people called those children malfetto.

Adelina Amouteru’s family was one of the many victims of the bloodfever. It killed her mother, left her sister unscathed, and her, a malfetto. Her hair and lashes turned silver while one of her eyes were removed by the doctor. Because of her label as a malfetto her family’s reputation suffered.

Berated and beaten by her father, Adelina decided to ran away from home. Unfortunately her father discovered her disappearance and tried to stop her. On that night Adelina discovered her hidden ability for the first time in her life. She can conjure frightful images out of thin air. Because of that Adelina accidentally killed her father, and was eventually caught by the inquisitors.

On the day of her execution, Adelina was rescued by the young elite that leads the Dagger Society. Young elites we’re those malfettos that posses magical abilities. At first Adelina thought that she finally found the place where she belongs, but as she unravel the extent of her ability, everyone can’t help but notice how different and dark her powers was.

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(This review was written for almost a month ago, I just edited it a bit.)

I thoroughly enjoy reading this book. It’s full of suspense, and its characters were superb. Honestly, I never felt an ounce of boredom while reading The Young Elites. I love Marie Lu’s writing style and her effort to write a story with dark characters. Though the book has a number of shortcomings, it didn’t hinder the message that Lu wanted to deliver to her audience, and that is to never easily judge evilness.

And now here I am trying to enumerate those things about The Young Elites that I totally love, and those that fell flat for me.

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1. The idea of writing a villain’s story
It has been done before (e.g. Fairest by Marissa Meyer and Disney Descendants on TV), and surely, more literary works that will made us understand the villains will come out in the future. But what makes The Young Elites different is the absence of the “good guys”. Maybe some readers will argue about Adelina being the good guy, or Refaelle and the Daggers were, but on my honest opinion no one in the book deserves the trusts of the readers to do the good things, especially Adelina. Every side has their own selfish motives, and everyone has something to gain and to lose. That reason for me is enough to question whether their actions we’re for the greater good or not.

2. The diversity of the characters
It is evident in the story that the author really put a lot of effort when it comes with the characters of this story. Not only on the physical aspects of the characters, which she really nailed, but also with the special abilities that she bless her characters with.

Adelina Amouteru has lost her eye, her beauty, and her hair and lashes becomes silver. In short, she’s very distinct. She’s scarred, and that made her a lot more enduring when it comes with the hardships that she’s about to face. Though a lot of times I wished that she acted differently, I can’t help but admire her courage and determination to change her destiny.

Correct me if I’m wrong but is the story originally about Teren? I read something like that on the acknowledgement written on the book. Moving on, I think that Teren has some loose screws up in that head of him. Killing his kind, then killing the king while warming the bed of the queen? That’s insanely overboard for me. Can a guy be that crazy? Not to mention his lack of interest to be the king. I think that Teren is just blinded by his love for the queen and by his belief that his sole purpose is to wipe every malfetto that walks Kennetra out.

I like Enzo, in fact, I love him. He’s been vanished and robbed of his birthright, but he didn’t lost his determination to get it back. Though he refuse to show his feelings towards his Daggers, it was hinted that he cares about them deeply. They are the only people he has left and because of that he became a very effective leader.

3. The Epilogue
The epilogue made this book suddenly worth reading. Before reading it, I was satisfied and craving for more, but when I read it? I became impatient, desperate and needy for the release of the next book. So immediately I preorder The Rose Society, and guess what? I already have it!

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Here comes my ‘meh’ moments while reading The Young Elites.

1. The world building
I am not that high standard when it comes with the setting of a story. As long as the characters we’re well written, and the ending is satisfactory then it’s enough for me. Unfortunately, I can’t help but notice how the world building in The Young Elites was a major disappointment. In my opinion, a book in the fantasy genre should always get an A+ when it comes with world building, there’s no excuses. It is fantasy after all.

2. RAFAELLE
I barely connected with his character and I think that he’s the biggest backstabber of all. He’s like smiling and taking care of Adelina, but on her back, he’s talking ill about her.

3. The point of views
Adelina’s POV for me is okay and wholly satisfying. She sounded how she’s suppose to sound, and her dialogue we’re superb. What got me into ranting is the men’s POVs. I can barely differentiate them from each other. They all sounded the same! Half the time I was reading, I can’t help but to look again on the beggining of the chapter to know who’s talking, especially when the characters were making some internalization.

In conclusion I loved The Young Elites, in fact it blew my breath away. It has some great ideas going on, and its diversity is something. Somethings may be needing some improvement, but it doesn’t mean that it’s not worth reading, IT IS. It talks about things that we don’t encounter on day to day basis, and it teaches us to not judge someone because of her background. (There goes my fail attempt to incorporate a moral lesson.) I personally reccomend this to everyone, because after reading this, you’ll surely run into the nearest bookstore to buy The Rose Society since it was released last October 13.

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Review: Dorothy Must Die

I finished reading this book last week and for some unknown reasons, every review draft that I made got deleted. It happened for three times and I thought about that I might as well quit on writing a review for this. But then I realized that I have to be more patient.

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Author: Danielle Paige

Dorothy Must Die tells the story of another girl who got blown up by a tornado from Kansas to the mystical land of Oz. She is Amy Gumm, and never in her life that she imagined being at a place that she had only read and watched about. But Oz different from what she heard about, its dwellers we’re living in fear and the magic is almost gone. Apparently, Oz’s past hero whom saved and freed the land from the Wicked Witches came back and was appointed to be a princess. Her name is Dorothy Gale. After becoming a royalty, Dorothy became evil and power-hungry. She terrorized the land with unjust and brutal punishment.

On the other hand, Amy was recruited by the Revolutionary Order of the Wicked. She trained to become a fighter so she can spy and kill Princess Dorothy. But with a lot of personal issues and matters of the heart, will she be able to make it?

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In the past, I have developed a certain liking on fairy tale retellings. Though they are a bit predictable, because they are based on another story, I like the twists that the authors put on them especially when they darken the plot.

I am very excited when I picked Dorothy Must Die. From the title itself, I knew that my cravings for a well written story is about to be quenched. But alas, I was doomed to be disappointed. The story that I’ve heard so may good things about turned out to be a mere time killer for me. I like the way the author twisted the classic The Wizard of Oz but I hated the execution she does for this book. There’s so many wasted opportunities.

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1. Amy– I get that Amy had a rough past and that she is bound to be flawed. I know that she has a lot of growing up to do and she did in some ways. But personality wise, she did not. Yes she became more confident and skilled, but she’s also selfish. She always thinks about herself when her role in the book is to protect others. Amy also tend to justify her wrong doings by telling and convincing herself that her actions we’re necessary. I also noticed Amy’s willingness to kill. I know that the author just wanted to portray her as a kickass heroine but the execution of her character was so poor that she looked like a murderer instead of a protector.

I just wish that she was more carefully written because Amy posses a lot of potential. She can be a very admirable heroine that will save everyone at the end of the day. Being someone who lived a hard life, she could be someone who emerged victorious and wise in spite of all the things that she experienced.

2. Plot/Pacing– Normally, I will embrace a high fantasy novel with open arms. But in Dorothy Must Die’s case I did the opposite. Instead of letting the story took charge, I became more critical in reading it. On other books that I like, I did not notice how much time goes by but when I’m reading this, I became very aware of how much the book was taking up my time.

It is obvious that the author aim on making this book action packed and on a lot of ways, she failed. At the first 100 pages, it seems like the story only focuses on world building and on how bad Oz is screwed up while the training that Amy does only felt like 20 pages tops. The magic and spells that she learned were not explained thoroughly that a lot of times that she casts spells, I became surprised on how much magic she knows. Another thing that I noticed is how Amy became a world-class fighter when she only spent 6 weeks training.

Danielle Paige also wrote Amy’s internal monologue redundantly. Amy worry about the same things over and over again that it felt like I was forced to live inside Amy’s head each time she does that.

3. Romance– I finished reading this book last week and for some unknown reasons, every review draft that I made got deleted. It happened for three times and I thought about that I might as well quit on writing a review for this. But then I realized that I have to be more patient.ance- I don’t understand why Danielle Paige incorporated romance in this story. It feels obliged and not once did I feel the connection between Amy and Nox. The scenes when the romance took place we’re all unnecessary.

4. WHY THE HELL DID THE ORDER SENT AMY TO SPY DOROTHY WHEN DOROTHY’S HEAD MAID IS ALREADY THEIR SPY? What’s the point in doing so? If Paige thought that she dropped a major bomb when she revealed that Jellia is their spy, then she’s wrong. It disappointed me terribly that I lost all my hope in this book.

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The only thing that I like in this book is Dorothy. It’s fun reading her scenes because she’s sassy and will take no-nonsense from anybody. It’s just a pity that her exposure was very limited.

All in all, I really do not like how this story ended up. Dorothy Must Die posses a lot potential and I just wish that the author tells Oz’s story a little differently. Still, I would read the next books hoping that Paige will redeem herself.

Rating:1/5

Review: An Ember In The Ashes

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Author: Sabaa Tahir

“Fear is only your enemy if you allow it to be.” 

In a world inspired by Ancient Rome, breaking the rules is equivalent to death. When Laia’s brother was accused of treason, the Empire killed their grandparents and arrested Darin, Laia’s brother, for interrogation and torture. To help him, Laia sought help from a group of rebels that defy the Empire that call themselves Resistance. In exchange of saving her brother, Laia was to spy the Empire’s most ruthless person, the Commandant, inside the Blackcliff Military Academy. Inside she met Elias, the Academy’s finest but also the most unwilling student.

Set in a broken world, Laia and Elias fought for equality and justice. Though they are the exact opposites of each other, they we’re destined to meet so they can change the future.

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An Ember In The Ashes has been sitting on my virtual shelf for quite some time  now. At first I hesitate to read this because I am starting to get tired of books about oppression and resistance. But as I read it, I was instantly consumed by its rich, well written plot line and diverse characters. This book shows how its author, Sabaa Tahir, is pure talent. It is her debut novel and honestly, it is rare for a debut novel to be this good. In fact, this is one of my favorite books this 2015.

Tahir’s compelling writing skills really took my breath away. She made delicate issues like rape, torture and murder a way of living for her characters. She write it with confidence and sophistication. She’s straight forward but not careless. For me, her characteristics as a writer is what made this book so compelling and successful. An Ember In The Ashes is one of those books that made me invest my emotions into it, it drove me on the edge of me emotional capacity and I like it. Normally, I don’t like when a book does that to me but it’s different with An Ember In The Ashes. When reading it, the story will demand your full attention and the involvement of your feelings.

The world that Sabaa Tahir created is ruthless and brutal. She didn’t even took a break pedal in describing the harsh reality that is happening at Serra. It also added a point in my book that the world made by Tahir is not magical yet there are supernatural creatures that lurks in it. I like the universe that the book posses but not enough for me to want to live in it.

I also admire the idea of two characters with opposite natures, Laia lives in poverty and fear while Elias has power and privileged. Their mixed point of views also added spice to the story. The author created exceptionally diverse main characters with a villain done so well.

What I like about Laia is that I saw her grow. In the beginning she’s just your typical female that can exist in any books with any setting. She’s always frightened and doubting about her abilities but as the story line goes on, she learn to fight and to protect those she loves. Laia eventually found big girl panties and wear it. She decided that it’s the right time to stand up and to fight for what’s right no matter what the consequences are.

“You are full, Laia. Full of life and dark and strength and spirit. You are in our dreams. You will burn, for you are an ember in the ashes.” 

Elias, on the other hand, is strong but is also trying to find himself. He wanted to escape his responsibilities so he can be free. From the beginning up to the end, Elias fought for what is right though he is expected to kill without any hesitation. This attitude of him is maybe because of the different raising he had from his adopted parents. He has different outlook in life that made him righteous.

“You are an ember in the ashes, Elias Veturius. You will spark and burn, ravage and destroy. You cannot change it. You cannot stop it.” 

As for Helene and Keenan, I felt deprived of them. They were both cunning and and strong so I am hoping to see more of them on the upcoming books for this series.

The fact that the villain of the story is Elias’ mother is genius. She made the story more interesting and exciting. Her brutal and ruthless nature made her one of the most unexpected but effective villain.

The romance that took place between the two main characters is perfect for my taste. It is not feel obliged, only necessary. They both had their personal issues and they try to resolve it individually, the romance just slips in the right timing. Normally I hated love triangles (love quadrangle for this book), but Keenan and Helene we’re both deserving for Elias and Laia so this is an exception for the cliché that is brought by those love polygons. Romance is not the focus of the story and the author made sure that it will be not.

An Ember In The Ashes is undoubtedly, a very well written book. It is marketed as a stand alone but the ending conveys that it is not. The ending is not really an ending, it also not a cliff hanger but Tahir left so many unresolved issues like: Is Darin still alive? Who is Elias father and why does the Commandant hates him so much? What happened to Keenan? It is also unclear whether Elias and Laia is in love or just physically attracted to each other. I will be irritated if that kind of ending exist in other book but the author made the story very promising so I guess I will just wait patiently for the next book.

Rating: 5/5

Review: Golden Son

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Author: Pierce Brown

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Golden Son is the second installation of Pierce Brown’s Red Rising trilogy. This is the continuation of a story about a Red named Darrow who pretends to be a Gold so he can make his wife’s wish come true. Personally, this book gives the vibe of anti-racism not because of the colors but because of rising against slavery despite of when the society tells you otherwise. The first book ended when Darrow accepted his nemesis, Nero au Augustus, offer to join his house.

Augustus is Eo, Darrow’s wife, executioner. Originally, he sought to kill him but as the story unfolds he decided that there’s more urgent matter to attend to. With his comrades, Darrow fight for the seat of Sovereignty against the people of the moon and the Bellonas. But when he thought that he won, his deepest secret unravels that made one of his lieutenants to turn his back against him while those who remained loyal died.

“You a son of Red. I a son of Gold.

That world when we’re brothers is lost.”

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Golden Son is full of false loyalties, deception and war. In this book, the war only is not versus the house of Augustus and the Sovereign, but also between Darrow’s heart and mind. This story posses whatever the readers asked for a dystopian novel. Golden Son along with Red Rising  is the embodiment of fighting tyranny and the struggle by doing so.

On the other hand, I love of how Brown portrays Darrow in this book. He’s full of insecurities and issues yet he managed to lead a powerful army and go to war. Despite of his questions about himself, people look up to him and pledge their loyalty to him. Darrow is someone who lost so much yet he didn’t make that a reason to give up because he knows that what he’s doing is for the greater good.

Darrow’s only flaw for me is that he is too full of Eo’s dream that he forgot to dream on his own. For me, having a visualization of the future is essential in every character.  Darrow seems like someone who held on too tightly in the past that he can’t let go of it anymore.

This story taught me a lot. It taught me that wherever you came from doesn’t define the success that you may achieve, that sometimes your friends is not really your friends. Golden Son affects me on the most personal level, especially losing Quinn. Though she only plays a small part in the story, I can imagine the grief of Roque and the mask that Sevro wears to pretend that he is not affected. Even if it is not really elaborated, their love triangle made this book suddenly worth reading for me.

I can’t wait for the conclusion of this trilogy.

Rating: 4.5/5

Review: Red Rising

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Author: Pierce Brown

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Red Rising tells the story of a sixteen year old helldiver named Darrow. He, along with his fellow Reds mine a substance called helium-3 that is believed to make the planets in the solar system to be habitable for the human race. But Eo, Darrow’s wife learned that the Reds we’re being fooled and enslaved. She discovered that they were being used by the society to supply helium-3 while the other colors we’re already living in Mars. Because of this, Darrow was whipped while Eo was hanged by the gallows. Eventually, a rebel group called Sons of Ares recruited Darrow to be their new member. His body was carved so he’ll look like a Gold. After all the pains and sufferings he emerged as a Gold and penetrated the Institute so he can finally avenge the death of his Eo.

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Red Rising is the dystopia burn out pill I have been looking for quite some time. This is, hands down, one of the best dystopia novel I have read and I have read plenty. What I like about this book is that the author explore every possible angle that Red Rising provides. Pierce Brown talks about oppression, war and survival, but it doesn’t end there. The story didn’t only offer bloodbaths but also showed how important to use your knowledge in winning a war. It is about trust and loyalty, and knowing where to put them.

Another thing that I noticed is the poetic prose that Red Rising possess. Though written in minimalist style, the heavy theme that the book has was still showcased. I love how this book was so intelligently written and I can’t get enough of it. The pages we’re oozing with wisdom with its carefully crafted plot line.

It is evident in the story that the characters, especially Darrow, we’re very carefully thought about. Pierce Brown know exactly how he wanted his characters and he made the right approach in introducing them to the readers. The depth of the characterization made Darrow unforgettable. He is every bit of a Gary Stu, he is the best helldiver, the top-notcher on the Institutes examination and it looks like he can gain followers so effortlessly. And I think the story calls for it. When you were put in a new and dangerous environment, it is essential to have the talent to survive and be resourceful. Darrow is simply exceptional on everything he does. On the other hand, I noticed that female characters we’re only secondary next to Darrow. They only had supporting roles that helps Darrow’s character develop.

All in all, I super love this book and I recommend it to everyone especially to those YA SciFi Fanatics.

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Rating: 5/5

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3 Kickass Heroines

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Females were widely celebrated by a lot of authors. A fair share of heroines with “I-ain’t-gonna-take-any-shit” exist through prints. And here’s my top three picks of heroines with kickass attitudes.

1. Linh Cinder (Cinder)

Linh Cinder is a lot of things: the towns best mechanic, a stepdaughter cinder_fan_art_by_mirapau-d4ucq4iwho solely provides for her family of four, the face of the rebellion, technically the rightful queen of the moon, and above all, a cyborg. Despite all these roles she play, she also didn’t forget to fall in love. Talk about multitasking.

2. Princess Mia (The Princess Diaries)

Mia is your average goody-two-shoes nerd with oversized glasses and braces. People barely notice her. But a shock worth a lifetime came through her door when she learned that her deceased father is the king blue67design-crown sketchy doodleof Genovia making her the present ruler of the said kingdom. Mia don’t want to be queen, but she still claim her throne knowing that there’s a big responsibility that came with it.

3. Juliette Ferrars (Ignite Me)

Her parents exiled her in an asylum, everybody thinks that she is a 0a116bf5b5f178376aea21a67bb2b446monster. Juliette may be broken and naive about the world, but she still embraces her unique ability. Trying to save the world, she even gave herself a chance and her tormentor to fall in love with each other. She may be acting and feeling frail, but inside she’s indestructible.

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