Monday, 28 April 2014

Review: Flame by Amy Kathleen Ryan

20569357Flame (Sky Chasers #3) by Amy Kathleen Ryan
Publisher: Macmillan
Released: January 16th 2014
My Rating: 3.75 stars out of 5
Find it in Goodreads

Waverly and the other members of the Empyrean have been scattered, and their home ship destroyed. The mission to rescue their parents didn't go quite as planned, and now they're at an even greater disadvantage: trapped with their enemies on the New Horizon, trying to find a way to survive. Will Seth's health hold out long enough to help Waverly topple their enemy? And will Waverly find a way to unite her friends before the final battle? Nothing is certain and every second is a risk in this explosive finale. (from Goodreads)

Flame was a satisfying end to the Sky Chasers trilogy, but there were a few things that I thought could have been better, or explained more. As a whole though, I really enjoyed this trilogy, and I'm looking forward to reading more from Amy Kathleen Ryan.

Waverly remained one of my favourite characters of the series. In each book we got to see different sides of her: book one was her more innocent and naive side, book two was where we saw a darker side of Waverly, and in book three we got to see a more unsure, desperate side of her - she was willing to do whatever it took to take Anne Mather down. While she was as resourceful and determined as ever, she was also doubting herself a lot more, and found herself willing to do things she never would have done previously. Waverly grew so much throughout the series and in this book especially she had to struggle through before she realised what it was she really wanted. I did find the whole thing with Jared really creepy though - he was like, 40! Old enough to be her dad. I was suspicious of him from the start and ugh. Did not like that guy one bit. He was so taking advantage of Waverly's hesitance and uncertainty. Gross.

Kieran. Well, what can I say. I'll never like the guy, but at least in this book he realised what a deluded lying moron he had been previously. He was still a total idiot who could not work out the most obvious things, but I guess I didn't hate him quite as much as I did in book two. I think he got over a lot of things way too easily and the ending he got was just too much fluff, but whatever. I didn't really care that much about his character.

Seth had a few of his own revelations and realised he had made a few bad choices in the past too, and he tried to atone for them. I knew from the start that he wouldn't get away scot-free, but I'm happy with the way things turned out - it could have been worse. He didn't get to have a lot of interaction with Waverly in this book, which was a shame, but he got to meet a lot of other people on the New Horizon, and it was nice to see that not everyone on that ship was a brainwashed follower of Anne Mather.

Plot-wise, there wasn't really as much action-y stuff going on in this book, but it still held my interest. Some things were predictable, like about Jared and the doctor, who were just clearly suspicious from the start, but I did not see the end coming at all. I liked the ending as a whole, the way the problems between the two ships were sorted out, but I feel like some things were left unexplained, especially to do with Captain Jones (and I REALLY wanted to find out what happened), and I also thought (spoiler, highlight to read) the fact the Empyrean found a new habitable planet only nine years away was a bit of a cop out. How lucky was that? The fact that Waverly had kids that young as well was a little strange - I would have thought after having her eggs harvested she would have been a bit more reluctant and would have waited a bit longer to be ready. And the amount of kids Kieran had in that short period of time - ugh. Seriously. It was so cheesy I kind of wanted to throw up - but that's Kieran for you) (end of spoiler).

Overall, Flame was a good conclusion, and I definitely recommend this series to sci-fi fans, especially to those starting out in the genre who are looking for something not too complicated, but with an interesting storyline and darker themes.

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Review: The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski

The Winner's Curse (The Winner's Trilogy) #1 by Marie Rutkoski
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Released: April 10th 2014
My Rating: 4 stars out if 5
Find it on Goodreads

Winning what you want may cost you everything you love.

As a general’s daughter in a vast empire that revels in war and enslaves those it conquers, seventeen-year-old Kestrel has two choices: she can join the military or get married. But Kestrel has other intentions. One day, she is startled to find a kindred spirit in a young slave up for auction.

Arin’s eyes seem to defy everything and everyone. Following her instinct, Kestrel buys him—with unexpected consequences. It’s not long before she has to hide her growing love for Arin. But he, too, has a secret, and Kestrel quickly learns that the price she paid for a fellow human is much higher than she ever could have imagined.

Set in a richly imagined new world,
The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski is a story of deadly games where everything is at stake, and the gamble is whether you will keep your head or lose your heart.

The thing that made me want to read The Winner's Curse most was the title. Before reading the book, I didn't even know what it meant, but it drew me in all the same. After reading the book, I spent some more time Googling to find out more about it, and I just love how it ties in with everything and ugh. I love it when titles are perfect for the book. Now, irrelevant preamble aside, let me tell you what I thought of the book itself!

It was easy to get engrossed in The Winner's Curse; the beginning definitely grabbed my attention. Kestrel was quite an interesting character. I didn't really understand her motives at the beginning, but as we found out more about her, and she started to learn more about things, I began to like her more. I really liked that even though she wasn't actually that good a fighter, she was still a highly sought after soldier because she was a great strategist (I'd really like to see her show her skills at some point too). It made a change from the whole "female characters are only worth anything if they fight well and beat people up a lot" thing that seems to be going on a lot these days. Don't get me wrong, I love heroines that can fight and kill and stuff but just because a character can't do those things, doesn't make them weak either. Anna from Anna and the French Kiss is equally awesome to Tris from Divergent in my opinion. Anyway, I liked Kestrel and I think she made realistic choices toward the end, fit for her character, and it was interesting to see her weigh up the choices of becoming or soldier or marrying; she was stuck with all these things she didn't want to do and had to choose in a short period of time and I just liked her thought process and narrator style in general.

I was wary of the romance at first but it was written better than I expected it to be. I liked that Arin spoke his mind (well only in front of Kestrel really) and that he didn't trust her completely - he was feeling more comfortable around her each day but not enough to tell her his life story, you know, and I liked that - it would be weird if he felt that safe around her. I did feel there was a bit of a 180 turnaround with the romance - they went from hate to love quite suddenly (not in an insta-love way, just their opinions of each other suddenly seemed to change). But after that initial switch, you could see more development and how Arin's opinion of Kestrel was changing. The whole forbidden romance thing took a very interesting turn at the end, adding a new twist to the story that I really enjoyed. I was kinda surprised that Arin didn't see right through what happened at the end, but then again, maybe he was just shocked and needed time to think. All in all I am curious to see what he'll do next.

Plot-wise, I enjoyed the first half slightly more than the second half, mostly because a lot was happening and I think I maybe read it too fast and didn't really retain as much as I should have. The world-building was a bit shaky - I didn't really understand how society became the way it was and what happened between the people to make it that way, but maybe it will be elaborated upon in book two. Arin's character changed a bit as well and while it was interesting to read about him in that position, the transition was slightly abrupt.

Overall, The Winner's Curse was a good start to a new series - one that I am looking forward to continuing. I had a few issues here and there and I think it's always good to take the hype with a pinch of salt, but I would definitely recommend this book if you like forbidden romances and fantasy settings.