Let’s kick off the week with some book talk. Here’s what I’ve been reading recently:
The Red Queen series by Victoria Aveyard.
This YA series gets a lot of buzz online, so I thought I’d finally pick it up and see what the fuss was about. The world is a mix of future dystopia and fantasy, which I found really interesting. Mare is a Red (lower, working class) who suddenly discovers she has magical powers, which until now have always been exclusive to the Silvers (ruling class). This thrusts her into a world of politics and power she’s unfamiliar with, complete with royals, rebels, loss, and betrayal. I’ve read the first two books so far. Honestly, I’m not sure I’ll pick up book 3. The first book was ok. It established the world, and we see Mare learn about her powers and find her footing amongst the powerful Silvers. But it also falls victim to 2 dreaded YA tropes: the love triangle (though really more a quadrangle), and the ‘special girl’ syndrome. Which could be managed, if done well. But then book 2 is just so underwhelming. Mare’s character growth and the plot both just kind of flounder around uselessly and predictably, to the point of annoyance. We’ll see if I’m still as annoyed when book 3 rolls around next year.
3/5 stars (to the series, generously).
A Gathering of Shadows (Shades of Magic #2) by V.E. Schwab.
I reviewed book 1 in this series last summer, and recently read book 2. I kind of knew what was going to happen in this book based on where book 1 ended, and I wasn’t wrong. This book continues the stories of Kell and Lila, though Rhy and another new character get their share of page time, too. A good portion of the book is taken up with the Essen Tasch, a magical tournament between 3 nations. While it serves nicely for some political tension and a way for Lila to explore her growing abilities, this book overall felt like it didn’t get very far. The villain is just getting warmed up at the end. And there wasn’t really a whole lot of growth in the relationships between characters to warrant a whole book. I liked it, the writing is still enjoyable. But it was a bit slow, and a tad predictable. That said, I do still intend to pick up book 3 when it’s out, because I want to see how Lila and Kell deal with how things stand at the end of this book.
Storm Siren (The Storm Siren Trilogy #1) by Mary Weber.
This series tells the story of Nym, a slave, and also an elemental with incredible powers. But she doesn’t know how to control them, so her life has been one disaster and tragedy after another. Until one day she’s discovered by an advisor to the king and given the choice to serve the crown in return for training. She accepts. It sets the stage nicely for some political and personal politics, and a sort of coming-into-her-own story. Nym was an interesting character; she’s got a sharp wit and strong practical streak. But she’s also 17, so there’s all of that. And this book also falls into the pattern of YA insta-love (that is also forbidden), and a really predictable ending. There’s a bit of ‘special girl’ syndrome, too, since female elementals aren’t supposed to exist, though I didn’t mind that aspect as much- it just made me curious how that came to be. So I’m a bit torn on this one. Still making up my mind whether to give book 2 a try.
Apparently I’ve been picking really middling reads lately. Maybe I just need a good juicy romance novel to knock me out of the rut.
What have you been reading lately? Any above-middling recommendations?