Fantasy

The Clockwork Angel – Cassandra Clare (DNF)

Clockwork Angel

Clockwork Angel (The Infernal Devices, #1)

Author: Cassandra Clare

Series: The Infernal Devices #1

Publish Date: August 31st, 2010

Genre: Historical Fiction, Fantasy, Paranormal, YA

In a time when Shadowhunters are barely winning the fight against the forces of darkness, one battle will change the course of history forever. Welcome to the Infernal Devices trilogy, a stunning and dangerous prequel to the New York Times bestselling Mortal Instruments series.

The year is 1878. Tessa Gray descends into London’s dark supernatural underworld in search of her missing brother. She soon discovers that her only allies are the demon-slaying Shadowhunters—including Will and Jem, the mysterious boys she is attracted to. Soon they find themselves up against the Pandemonium Club, a secret organization of vampires, demons, warlocks, and humans. Equipped with a magical army of unstoppable clockwork creatures, the Club is out to rule the British Empire, and only Tessa and her allies can stop them….


Review

Yes I DNF-ed this book. After hearing that The Infernal Devices series was better than The Mortal Instruments series, I read Clockwork Angel expecting it to be great. I read the first two books in TMI series but I never finished the third book. City of Glass was just boring and in the end, I had to return it to the library before I was finished. Naturally, I thought that I’d read TID since there are less books in the series and because the majority of the people who’ve read both series have said that they prefer this one over TMI.

I might as well have gone back to TMI because I really really hated Clockwork Angel. It was okay when I first started it. The historical-y old-timey speak was really pretentious but it was bearable. But then, I began to see the character of Tessa. And I hated it. I hated it with a burning, fiery passion. I dreaded the moment when I’d open the book again, hoping that some type of change would hit Tessa. Clearly, nothing really happened to her personality or else I’d still be reading the book. I swear, every time she opened her mouth to say something or think about how girls shouldn’t do certain things I wanted to slap her. Oh you say that it’s unladylike to read novels, but then you go and fangirl over other books that are clearly novels. I looked up these titles just to make sure too! The Woman in White is a mystery novel. Tessa was hypocritical and this really annoyed me.

OH BUT THEN. THEN WE MET THE OTHER CHARACTERS. I wanted to wring the necks of every character I’d meet and to be able to do that every time I read about some stupid action they did.

I struggled through 200ish pages of the book, realized that I wasn’t even halfway through and after much consideration, decided that I wasn’t going to spend any more of my time on it. Obviously, I wasn’t going to begin to enjoy it anytime soon. Even though I had heard that it gets better, by that point, I was too done with the book to care. And thus, I decided to DNF Clockwork Angel.

I’m pretty positive that I’m not going to pick up another Cassandra Clare book after this. Malec is fabulous, but the books themselves aren’t as great.

The School for Good and Evil – Soman Chainani

The School for Good and Evil

The School for Good and Evil (The School for Good and Evil, #1)

Author: Soman Chainani

Series: The School for Good and Evil #1

Publish Date: May 14th, 2013

Genre: Fantasy, Middle Grade

New York Times Bestseller * Indie List Bestseller * Soon to be a Film from Universal Pictures * A Barnes & Noble Best Book of 2013 * Waterstones Children’s Prize Nominee * Children’s Choice Reading List Selection

The first kidnappings happened two hundred years before. Some years it was two boys taken, some years two girls, sometimes one of each. But if at first the choices seemed random, soon the pattern became clear. One was always beautiful and good, the child every parent wanted as their own. The other was homely and odd, an outcast from birth. An opposing pair, plucked from youth and spirited away.

This year, best friends Sophie and Agatha are about to discover where all the lost children go: the fabled School for Good & Evil, where ordinary boys and girls are trained to be fairy tale heroes and villains. As the most beautiful girl in Gavaldon, Sophie has dreamed of being kidnapped into an enchanted world her whole life. With her pink dresses, glass slippers, and devotion to good deeds, she knows she’ll earn top marks at the School for Good and graduate a storybook princess. Meanwhile Agatha, with her shapeless black frocks, wicked pet cat, and dislike of nearly everyone, seems a natural fit for the School for Evil.

But when the two girls are swept into the Endless Woods, they find their fortunes reversed—Sophie’s dumped in the School for Evil to take Uglification, Death Curses, and Henchmen Training, while Agatha finds herself in the School For Good, thrust amongst handsome princes and fair maidens for classes in Princess Etiquette and Animal Communication.. But what if the mistake is actually the first clue to discovering who Sophie and Agatha really are…?

The School for Good & Evil is an epic journey into a dazzling new world, where the only way out of a fairy tale is to live through one.


Review

I was very very excited to read this one. It was a well-received break from all of the chick-lit and contemporary books I’ve been reading lately.

The School for Good and Evil was an interesting take on fairy tales and what might go into the creation of them in an alternate universe. I really liked it. It took a boarding school and fairy tales and put them together! How could I not like it?

I’m a sucker for books set in boarding schools. I might have bypassed this book if not for the fact that it revolves around oh what do you know? A boarding school. Nevertheless, the book had a very unique premise compared to other fairy tale books.

It begins with an introduction of our two protagonists, Agatha and Sophie. Sophie is a girly, pretty girl who believes that she’ll be the next in line to be kidnapped to attend the School for Good and Evil. Agatha on the other hand, is an ill-tempered girl with a liking for frumpy black clothing. Many believe her to be the candidate for the evil school. A series of events occur in which the two are snatched, not going along the plan that had originally been laid out. The two’s positions are switched, with Sophie entering The School for Evil and Agatha entering The School for Good. Agatha, determined to get her and Sophie home and away from the nightmare, begins formulating a plan to get them back to their beloved Gavaldon. From the beginning, anybody can tell that friendship will be a central idea of this book. I like that it had friendship as a bigger overarching theme than romance.

I liked this book right up until the last few chapters. Agatha was my favorite character from the beginning with her snarky, logical, anti-social personality. It was pretty clear who was evil and who was good even if the characters stubbornly refused to see it. But what annoyed me about the book was that in the end, Agatha changed from her personality. She was no longer the lovable, snarky girl that I had liked going into the book but instead, had become a little similar to the Sophie from the beginning of the book.

The romance was developed poorly. There was a total of two possible boys that Agatha and Sophie could have dated and one of them had a 0.000000000000000000000000000001% chance of actually getting the girl. So in  other words, there was a love square. Now where’s the fourth person you may ask? Oh it’s just Beatrix, another girl that happens to be at the school. So much of the romance is chalked up to the fairytale soulmate crap that there’s absolutely no evidence of development between the characters. I expected that even though this was fairytale based book, that there would still be at least some development. Nope. One minute they’re enemies, the next they’re soulmates. The same lack of subtle development was seen in the way that Sophie became evil. I personally think that it would have better for small details and cracks in her persona to reveal the ugly personality she had inside. Just like the jumps from enemy to soulmate, Sophie jumps from nice to evil.

The ending was disappointing. It was rushed, felt disorganized, and lacked the compelling storytelling that the rest of the book had had. But I do feel that Chainani ended the book in a good place. It sets it up really well for a sequel.

In conclusion, Chainani wrote a unique book but executed it poorly. Development isn’t executed well on all aspects from plot to his dynamic characters. Even so, I enjoyed reading this book and will definitely be picking up the sequel.

3/5 Stars

Cloaked – Alex Flinn (DNF)

Cloaked

Cloaked

Author: Alex Flinn

Publish Date: February 8th, 2011

Genre: Fantasy, Adventure, YA

I’m not your average hero. I actually wasn’t your average anything. Just a poor guy working an after-school job at a South Beach shoe repair shop to help his mom make ends meet. But a little magic changed it all.

It all started with the curse. And the frognapping. And one hot-looking princess, who asked me to lead a rescue mission.

There wasn’t a fairy godmother or any of that. And even though I fell in love along the way, what happened to me is unlike any fairy tale I’ve ever heard. Before I knew it, I was spying with a flock of enchanted swans, talking (yes, talking!) to a fox named Todd, and nearly trampled by giants in the Keys.

Don’t believe me? I didn’t believe it either. But you’ll see. Because I knew it all was true, the second I got CLOAKED.


Review

So disappointed by this one.

I read Flinn’s book Bewitched about a year or so ago and I really liked it. Beastly immediately went onto my tbr list and I’ve been looking for a copy of it at the library for a long time now. However, 100% of the times I’ve gone, they’ve only had Cloaked. I finally cracked and picked it up instead of praying that Beastly was there. It probably would have been more efficient to put a hold on it, but I keep forgetting to.

Now this book is classified as YA but I think it’s too childish. I think I would have enjoyed this book more if I had read it three years ago when it came out. The characters were badly developed and as a result, made the book seem more unrealistic. I know that it’s a fantasy and about magic and isn’t meant to be realistic, but what I mean by this, is that Flinn didn’t bring this story to life.

Johnny had potential as a character. He wasn’t your typical teenage boy, and unique in the way that he’s fascinated by shoes and aspires to be a renowned designer.

The problem was that he was so dumb.

He knows that there’s magic and manipulations throughout the story. He uses the magical cloak and headpiece for Christ’s sake! Yet what happens? He is tricked more than once by mirages and tricks of manipulation. People tell him multiple times that he shouldn’t trust everybody. But what does he do? HE TRUSTS PRETTY MUCH EVERY SINGLE PERSON HE MEETS.

“Oh you’re forced to live here and you want to visit your parents in North Carolina? I’ve just met you, but you seem trustworthy. Here’s a magic cloak!”

*gets kidnapped*

“Aw shucks, I shouldn’t have trusted her.”

And then after he gets kidnapped, he resumes to come up with the stupidest plans of escape that I have ever heard. In a real-world situation, they wouldn’t ever work, but since this is book-world, of course it does.

“I don’t stand up. ‘Look, I’ve got a plan. When they get here, they’ll have the cloak, a magic cloak that transports you wherever you want to go. Now that I’ve got your flashlight, I’ll be able to see them. I’ll sneak up in the dark, turn on the light, and grab the cloak. So I’ll wish to be someplace impossible to guess, like the football stadium, and then I’ll be there. I’ll hide out a while. They’ll never find me.'”Page 157

Johnny, ever heard of the fact that your enemies own ears too? His plan could go wrong in so many ways, but naturally, since this is book-world, nothing does.

Aside from how dumb he acts, he’s also extremely flat. All of the characters are. They are painted with certain personality traits, but none of them have depth.

Another problem I have with the book is the relationships. It’s mentioned many many times that Johnny’s best friend is Meg but their relationship is so painfully awkward and so unnatural. The things they do for each other aren’t like best friends would. A real best friend wouldn’t lie to his best friend about his super big adventure and then use his AWOL father to guilt trip her into not questioning him. At one point he feels guilty that Meg doesn’t have sunglasses so he doesn’t use his. Wouldn’t a real best friend offer to let her use them?

What type of friendship is this and how the heck is it supposed to develop into dating?! At no point is there any concrete, emotionally-charged moments where you can see that they are friends.

I stopped reading at about halfway. I could not take any more of Johnny’s stupid decisions and the terrible relationships between the characters.

1/5 Stars

In the Shadows – Kiersten White, Jim Di Bartolo

In the Shadows

In the Shadows

Author: Kiersten White, Jim Di Bartolo

Publish Date: April 29th, 2014

Genre: Graphic Novel, YA, Fantasy, Historical Fiction

From the remarkable imagination of acclaimed artist Jim Di Bartolo and the exquisite pen of bestselling author Kiersten White comes a spellbinding story of love, mystery, and dark conspiracy, told in an alternating narrative of words and pictures.

Cora and Minnie are sisters living in a small, stifling town where strange and mysterious things occur. Their mother runs the local boarding house. Their father is gone. The woman up the hill may or may not be a witch.

Thomas and Charles are brothers who’ve been exiled to the boarding house so Thomas can tame his ways and Charles can fight an illness that is killing him with increasing speed. Their family history is one of sorrow and guilt. They think they can escape from it . . . but they can’t.


Review

Can I just say that I loved the art? But great art doesn’t always mean that the book is just as amazing. I found that the drawings didn’t communicate very well because I was extremely confused throughout the course of the book. The pictures would often look as if they had skipped a scene and I struggled to find a connection between the two stories up until near the end of the book. It made the reading experience less enjoyable. The connections are disjointed and jostle the flow of the book. In the Shadows lacked the storytelling aspect. The writing was bland and the plot was even more so. It lacked flavor and dragged a lot. It seemed like a lot of nothing was happening. Honestly, the back story and plot isn’t explained at all until the last fifty pages. It’s all rushed. The romance in this book was also shallow. It could have been something great, but instead it had the feeling of a summer fling.

Characterization wasn’t terrible but it could have been better. It felt as if the characters had certain personality traits pasted on them but that these traits weren’t constant. Some were obviously more strongly developed than the others although there were five principle characters. For instance, Minnie, Thomas, are significantly better developed than Charles. The execution of what could have been a great idea was sloppy and boring. Opposite the main characters, the villains were about as threatening as pansies. I didn’t feel any suspense or tension about what was happening; it was all told in a way that eliminated all the emotion.

And the writing gets it’s own paragraphs because I have lots to say about it.

FIRST OF ALL. The worldbuilding sucks. It’s downright terrible. It’s like the author took a historical setting (which is 18-something? Might be earlier. It doesn’t specify the exact date of the sections at the boarding house) and then stuck some type of supernatural/fantasy idea behind it. All of the worldbuilding is thrown into the last fifty pages (some of which were pictures) and as a result, is a discombobulated, non-descriptive mess. You get a small tidbit at the beginning, some scattered here and there in the middle, and the rest of it in the end. Badly developed, very unbelievable, and unsatisfying.

SECONDLY. The writing is choppy and repetitive. The flow is awkward. I see the same word used two or three sentences in a row. The sentences are broken up. Sometimes this works. Other times, it sounds awkward. Everything about the writing just screams awkward. It’s like being in a conversation with someone you just met.

I wish I had just skipped this one. I expected so much from it but was disappointed. When it was over I was literally like, “That was it?” The sweet, funny ending didn’t make up for the rest of the book. It worked, but at the same time, there were many elements missing that would have made it better. There was little to no actual content in this book. If you enjoy graphic novels, perhaps you would like this one, but otherwise, don’t bother.

Side note: I did like the title of the book. It seems so generic but then once you read the book, it all makes sense!

2/5 Stars