Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Reached Review

[DISCLAIMER: there will be spoilers]

I finished this a few weeks ago, and I personally think it was a great end to the trilogy. I’ve read some reviews which haven’t been as kind. With the final book in a trilogy, or any series really, I’ve found that it usually either comes down to you like it or you don’t. After all, you’ve been an invested reader up to that point; everybody wants an ending which makes them happy. But unfortunately, it doesn’t always work out that way for everybody.

The Matched trilogy by Ally Condie overall has been very well written. I liked the protagonist, and I truly believed in the society and world Condie created for Cassia. However, that doesn’t mean there weren’t things which I didn’t quite agree with.

Firstly, a quick note on Cassia’s name choice. I think it’s important to use a name for a character, particularly a protagonist, which is easily understood. I only found out after reading the second in the trilogy, Crossed, that Cassia’s name is supposed to be pronounced ‘Casha’. So when reading Reached I sometimes found myself thinking of both pronunciations.  It’s a stupid point, and perhaps most people would have realised, but I didn’t and it just seemed a little odd.

Moving on to plot, I found it surprising and certainly unexpected, but I did enjoy it. In other reviews I’ve read some people said it became too scientific for them. I found myself appreciating how much research Condie must have done for the book. But I think that’s partly because as a writer, I know how much work goes into something like that, especially if you’re going to make it believable. I found the Plague aspect to be really interesting, and certainly added a different twist to the revolution.

I’m glad Xander got to have his own POV in Reached. He was barely featured at all in Crossed, and whilst I realise it was necessary, it wasn’t great to see one of the main characters ditched in so sudden a way. I think he develops a lot as a character in the book, which is always great. 

However I really didn’t agree with his ending. His feelings changed very suddenly from ‘loving’ Cassia to being in love with Lei. It was disappointing too, because Condie started to present this picture of Xander trying not to rely on other people for his own happiness, before falling straight into the arms of somebody else. People don’t need love to be happy; or rather, people shouldn’t need a romantic interest to make them feel complete. I feel for a YA novel especially, it's not the best message to be sending out.

There wasn’t any real heartbreaking moments in the book for me. When Ky went into the coma and nearly died, I didn’t exactly care. I don’t know why, but I’ve never found myself really connecting with Ky as a character. There was always something missing for me as a character. I still couldn’t tell you what was missing about him, but for some reason, his characterisation always seemed off to me. Personally, I would have been quite fine to see him be with Indie.

The ending was almost too happy for me. Whilst we never got to see the outcome of the vote, I still feel the ends were tied up a little too neatly for everybody. It is a dystopian novel after all. I think there’s a very fine line with a hopeful ending and it being unrealistic, particularly for dystopia, and I can’t quite decide where Reached falls on that line. 

But despite all my criticisms – I didn’t expect to be this critical! – I did really enjoy the book, and I was glad to finally put an end to the trilogy. I would read more of Condie’s works, and I would definitely recommend the series to anybody looking for a good series to get into. If you’re liking the Delirium series by Lauren Oliver, you’ll probably like this too.

Thursday, 10 January 2013

My Goals Progress

I haven’t made the greatest start to my goals I set for myself at the beginning of January. So far I’ve only really began to accomplish one of these goals, but I am quite proud of myself for what I’ve done. 

I haven’t been writing or editing. However, I have been reading. And when I say reading, I mean reading. I haven’t read this much since summer, and even then I don’t think I read this much!

Up until two days ago, I had been reading a book every day. So far I’ve managed to read seven books, all YA, and it’s been utterly fantastic. It’s been great to get lost in a book, and to start or finish all these series which I’d long neglected. 

Here is what I’ve been reading:

·         Reached by Ally Condie
·         The Named by Marianne Curley
·         The Legacy by Gemma Malley
·         Entice by Carrie Jones
·         The Dark by Marianne Curley
·         Angel by James Patterson
·         Endure by Carrie Jones

I will be reviewing Reached by Ally Condie (the final in the fabulous Matched trilogy) on Saturday, and once The Key arrives from Amazon I’ll be reviewing Marianne Curley’s unexpectedly wonderful Guardian of Time series. 

There’s a lot of books I’m looking forward to reading this year, including Fuse by Julianna Baggott (the sequel to Pure) which comes out in February, and Requiem by Lauren Oliver, the final in the Delirium trilogy.  

All I have to do now is make a start on my other goals for this year!

How have you all been doing with your New Years Resolutions?

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Beautiful Creatures Review

I picked this up in Foyles, London. I’d heard about it ever since it came out – I remember the raving reviews – but I couldn’t remember what exactly it was about. When I read the blurb, I didn’t think much of it: then I started reading.

I got through this book in less than twenty four hours. It had me hooked. The main character, Ethan, I found to be believable and a great protagonist. I really enjoyed the mystery and intrigue of it, and I found myself especially surprised by the Civil War plot. I honestly didn’t expect that aspect. 

Lena was a good character, I felt. It could have been so easy to make her into somebody unlikable, but I did like her and that’s important. I understood her struggles, and I did enjoy the romantic plot between them. Her family were also wonderful characters, alongside Amma and Ethan's best friend, Link.

I’m not sure how realistic the portrayal of South Carolina was. I’ve never visited, and it all seemed like a very typically Southern depiction. I found it a little strange how obsessed they were with the Confederacy, but I’m aware that it’s a very different culture and history from what I’ve experienced living in Britain, even if I know the history regarding it. It felt real to me, but again I couldn’t say for certain how truthful a depiction it was.

It was very well written. Honestly, when a book comes out involving magic, it’s hard not to associate it with the post-Twilight boom which saw the market going crazy for magic/mythology/supernatural etc. It’s a sad fact, but unfortunately true. However, I feel that Beautiful Creatures does stand on its own as a novel. I enjoyed it. 

Remarkably, as soon as I finished the book I started seeing adverts and trailers for it everywhere. I wasn’t aware they were making it into a film. Honestly, I don’t think I will go see it. In fact, I want to read the series before the film comes out and everybody starts going crazy over it. It’s a fantastic book, but I don’t want to be caught up in the post-film fandom. I’ve already experienced this with the Twilight series and The Hunger Games, and while I enjoyed and followed the books before the films came out, after they came out I found it very hard to enjoy them because of all the media controversy. Which is a shame. But at least it means more people will appreciate Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl’s work. 

I’m looking forward to reading the series. I’ve been searching everywhere for the second in the series, but so far no bookstores I’ve been to have stocked it. I may have to order it over Amazon. But if you are interested, Beautiful Creatures is a good book, and I definitely recommend it if you’re looking for some YA to get lost in (it’s also over five hundred pages, if you’re looking for a long read). 

Have you read Beautiful Creatures, or heard about the film?

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

My Goals for 2013

Happy New Year everybody! I hope you all had a wonderful holiday. Whilst I may have taken a long break, I’m returning to the blogosphere refreshed and ready to begin the year.

A quick note: whilst this post would typically be titled with ‘resolutions’, I’m hoping that by changing it to ‘goals’ I’ll actually accomplish these! 

Goal #1: Finish Erase – this has been on my to-do list forever and ever but I am determined to have this wrapped up soon. It would be really lovely to finish this project, especially since it’s something I’ve been working on and talking about since August last year.

Goal #2: Edit – I did hardly any editing at all last year, which is absolutely disgraceful, and I have a lot of projects that need substantial work. It would be amazing if I could get some of my MSs in a good enough shape to actually show to one of my closest friends.

Goal #3: Read more – this is obviously quite a broad one, and I did quite a lot of reading last summer, but I want to maintain that throughout the year. Most particularly, I want to read more YA. I’ve poured over two YA novels in the last few days, and I’ve realised how long it’s been since I’ve properly gotten into YA, as well as why I love it so much. (Reviews for the novels I’ve been reading will be coming shortly).

Goal #4: Keep going – again this is quite a broad one, but I think it’s one of the most important goals. I’ve spoken about my terrible habit before, how I somehow manage to get stuck in these ruts when the solution is usually just to keep going. This is something I’m going to have to remind myself a lot of, but I think it would make a huge difference, not only in regards to these goals but in my life in general. 

So, those are my goals. Wish me luck! Do you have any goals you want to achieve this year?