Showing posts with label magic. Show all posts
Showing posts with label magic. Show all posts

Sunday, June 4, 2017

[Review] Uprooted - Naomi Novik: Magic, Fairy Tales, and Evil Trees




In UPROOTED, Agnieszka gets taken by the powerful wizard the Dragon and trained to become a witch. Together they try to protect the surrounding villages from the evil forest that's trying to kill everything near it.

What intrigued me: Recommended!

Incredibly Unique

UPROOTED is arguably the most unique fantasy novel to come out within the last two years. It is advertised as based on a Polish folk tale, and I have to say, I really felt it.

It reminded me a lot of the fairy tales I grew up with, but turned dark. 
The premise is very reminiscent of CRUEL BEAUTY, but don't let that deceive you. UPROOTED is not a story about a captive girl slowly falling in love with her rude captor, but more the story of a girl realizing her power. It's a coming-of-age novel if you will, but with magic.

The characters, mainly the Dragon and Agnieszka, are extremely well-written. I instantly loved the Dragon for his cold, mean, and downright condescending personality and adored Agnieszka for being the clumsy, likeable, and brave girl who'd try her best to annoy him as much as possible.

Too Dense?

The biggest criticism I have is definitely the writing. Novik has a very peculiar, unique writing style, composed of lots of descriptions, metaphors, etc. Very much more telling than showing. It reads slowly, taking long paragraphs for something to happen, and I found myself zoning out so often that it took me a catastrophically long time to read this.

This isn't necessarily a bad thing, if you read this in your native language this might not bother you as much, and if you like flowery writing, you might enjoy this even more. I personally don't like this and it made it very hard for me to continue, even though I really, really like the story. It's undoubtedly an incredibly unique novel that's very skillfully written and more art than writing, but certainly not for everyone.

There is no way around saying that UPROOTED definitely would have benefited from being turned into a series. Because it is a stand-alone, set in such a complicated, intricate world with so many rules and peculiarities, it is extremely densely written. This just lowered my enthusiasm for it as I was reading, because it is really hard to concentrate when you're constantly being overwhelmed with background information in form of info dumps and flashbacks.

It really feels like UPROOTED is trying to be three books in one, and the relationships just don't come across as genuine as they could have been because the book is hurrying so much. Novik's writing style really doesn't work in combination with so much dense storytelling, sometimes she rushes from scene to scene, sometimes she needs one page to tell one action. Even though I am an avid advocate for stand-alones, I have to say I wish UPROOTED was the first in a series instead.

Rating:

★★☆☆

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

UPROOTED is definitely not for everyone. It's exceptionally well-written, unique book, but I suggest you pick this up in your native language and for you to be ready for lots of flowery writing. I thoroughly enjoyed it and would recommend UPROOTED, but it's just one of those books that are hit or miss.


Additional Info

Published: May 19th 2015
Pages: 438
Publisher: Del Rey
Genre: YA / High Fantasy
ISBN: 9780804179034

Synopsis:
"Agnieszka loves her valley home, her quiet village, the forests and the bright shining river. But the corrupted Wood stands on the border, full of malevolent power, and its shadow lies over her life.

Her people rely on the cold, driven wizard known only as the Dragon to keep its powers at bay. But he demands a terrible price for his help: one young woman handed over to serve him for ten years, a fate almost as terrible as falling to the Wood.

The next choosing is fast approaching, and Agnieszka is afraid. She knows—everyone knows—that the Dragon will take Kasia: beautiful, graceful, brave Kasia, all the things Agnieszka isn’t, and her dearest friend in the world. And there is no way to save her.

But Agnieszka fears the wrong things. For when the Dragon comes, it is not Kasia he will choose.
 "(Source: Goodreads)

Have you read UPROOTED?

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Monday, February 27, 2017

[Review] A Darker Shade of Magic (#1) - V.E. Schwab: 19th Century London and Parallel Universes





In A DARKER SHADE OF MAGIC, Kell is one of the blood magicians who are gifted with the ability to wander between parallel worlds.

What intrigued me: Recommended by literally everyone.

Textbook writing and too many info dumps

A DARKER SHADE OF MAGIC certainly has a great base frame, but absolutely can't hide the fact that it doesn't quite know what to do with all that world building. Protagonist Kell is a smuggler, an adopted royal, a blood magician, and handles the correspondence between the four different Londons. To get that all inside your head, you'll already need a moment. The biggest problem is that there is so much about this world and so many specific rules, quirks, and things to know, that there is no way you'll have a good time reading this for the first time. Paired with incredibly factual and emotionless writing, it reads like a textbook. I was often torn between utter disinterest and sort-of fascination. 

I grew insanely frustrated the more I read because I simply didn't understand what was happening and why it was happening, and who the bazillion side characters are. A DARKER SHADE OF MAGIC plays in this sort-of 19th century-inspired historical-ish world that has kings and queens and (sometimes?) magic. Ish. I say Ish because even after having read this I still don't get it. Usually you'd expect a novel to lay out the basics within the first 100 pages, but in A DARKER SHADE OF MAGIC, you'll still be wrestling with exposition on page 350 of 400. 

Clearly the idea is there and Schwab really tried to set up an original world, but half of it neither makes sense nor is comprehensible to the average first time reader. This is not the type of fantasy I enjoy - throwing words in made-up languages around and introducing so many different parallel worlds that you're constantly confusing everyone. 

One dimensional characters and predictability

Because Schwab so heavily puts the focus on the world building, the characters are absolutely suffering. Everyone in A DARKER SHADE OF MAGIC is one-dimensional, not even the protagonist Kell has an ounce of a personality. It's a shame because you can tell that a lot of effort went into this. At the end of the day, I think this book is impossible to enjoy if you prefer your high fantasy to make sense and to form a connection with the fictional characters you're reading about. 

On top of all that - the plot is just very predictable and anti-climactic. Of course protagonist Kell must face the only other rare special snowflake blood magician in the book aside from him because of some barely-plausible plot convenience; and of course there is a mystery about his birth parents that we only get to solve if we buy the next two books. 


Rating:

☆☆

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

A DARKER SHADE OF MAGIC wasn't for me. From a predictable plot to confusing world building, to writing that I just don't like, this one is a clear miss for me personally.



Additional Info

Published: 24th February 2015
Pages: 400
Publisher: Tor
Genre: Adult / Sci-Fi / Parallel Worlds
ISBN: 9780765376459

Synopsis:
"Kell is one of the last Antari, a rare magician who can travel between parallel worlds: hopping from Grey London — dirty, boring, lacking magic, and ruled by mad King George — to Red London — where life and magic are revered, and the Maresh Dynasty presides over a flourishing empire — to White London — ruled by whoever has murdered their way to the throne, where people fight to control magic, and the magic fights back — and back, but never Black London, because traveling to Black London is forbidden and no one speaks of it now.

Officially, Kell is the personal ambassador and adopted Prince of Red London, carrying the monthly correspondences between the royals of each London. Unofficially, Kell smuggles for those willing to pay for even a glimpse of a world they’ll never see, and it is this dangerous hobby that sets him up for accidental treason. Fleeing into Grey London, Kell runs afoul of Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She robs him, saves him from a dangerous enemy, then forces him to take her with him for her proper adventure.

But perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save both his London and the others, Kell and Lila will first need to stay alive — a feat trickier than they hoped."(Source: Goodreads)

 Have you read A DARKER SHADE OF MAGIC?

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Sunday, January 22, 2017

[Review] Poison Study (Study #1) - Maria V. Snyder: Food Tasters and Poison





In POISON STUDY Yelena was arrested for murder and is released from the dungeon to become a food taster.


What intrigued me: I've seen this one around a lot.

Let me love you, Yelena!

The story starts right off with Yelena getting released from her dungeon, malnutritioned, almost hallucinating, and absolutely exhausted. POISON STUDY had me from the first page.

Snyder has a way of conjuring up images with words that make this novel easy to read and the fantasy world easily accessible. I often struggle with the High Fantasy genre because I don't really encounter concepts that fascinate me. Same with POISON STUDY to some extent - I didn't really care about the fictional region of Ixia that is ruled by different generals that have their own territories and force everyone to wear uniforms. 

I zoned out whenever there were intricate descriptions of uniforms. The whole world is certainly a weakness of POISON STUDY - the story about Yelena could take place in any other fictional world and be just as fantastic. I didn't find the world building particularly inventive or outstanding.

Making a murderer the food taster doesn't sound that interesting and groundbreaking of a story either, but it just is. There doesn't happen much in POISON STUDY, aside from Yelena getting attacked continuously by the soldier's of the father of the guy she killed, but yet it's ridiculously addicting. The writing is top-notch, the story feels like you are Yelena, you're experiencing everything first-hand and wandering through the castle yourself. I seldom have found myself so thrown right into a book as I read and grown attached to a protagonist.

Wonderfully refreshing concept

If you read a lot of YA and are very tired of seeing the same cliche tropes everywhere, POISON STUDY is the novel for you, because I don't think I counted a single one. No love triangles! No Mary Sue! No plot convenience! Actual danger! Consequences for messing up! It's so refreshing to read a book that makes you feel like the protagonist is in actual danger the whole time.

However, this book is very, very, very slowly paced. I did like this at first, but the more the pace slowed down, the more I disconnected from the characters. I do like to know what I'm getting myself into when I start a novel and the introduction of magic halfway in confused and annoyed me a little. POISON STUDY takes a completely different direction halfway in, causing me to lose interest completely. I was very enamored with the premise of the food taster and would have loved to just see an story about intrigues without any magic.

POISON STUDY awkwardly turns into Duel of the Magicians and this is just not what I'm personally interested in and/or signed up for. Regardless, I did enjoy this and think it's a good read!


Rating:

★★★★

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

POISON STUDY is a fantastically unique novel. I really needed this breath of fresh air and I can recommend this book to you, because it's just so creative and fun! If you don't mind a dash of magic, sure, go for this!



Additional Info

Published: March 1st 2007
Pages: 409
Publisher: Mira
Genre: YA / High Fantasy
ISBN: 9780778324331

Synopsis:
"Choose: A quick death…Or slow poison...

About to be executed for murder, Yelena is offered an extraordinary reprieve. She'll eat the best meals, have rooms in the palace—and risk assassination by anyone trying to kill the Commander of Ixia.

And so Yelena chooses to become a food taster. But the chief of security, leaving nothing to chance, deliberately feeds her Butterfly's Dust—and only by appearing for her daily antidote will she delay an agonizing death from the poison.

As Yelena tries to escape her new dilemma, disasters keep mounting. Rebels plot to seize Ixia and Yelena develops magical powers she can't control. Her life is threatened again and choices must be made. But this time the outcomes aren't so clear...
 "(Source: Goodreads)

Have you read the Study series?

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Wednesday, October 5, 2016

[Review] Inked (#1) - Eric Smith: Magical Tattoos and Adventure

In INKED, Caenum is due to receive his magical tattoo that marks his coming-of-age, when the Scribe who is supposed to perform the ritual gets in major trouble and needs his help.

What intrigued me: I've been folllowing the author on Twitter for a while and eventually grew interested in his writing.

Lovable Characters

INKED is essentially a classic adventure story. Wrapped up in a world spiked with extensive mythology and an innovative concept, it's very easy to lose yourself in. Caenum is a very likable character whose narration I thoroughly enjoyed. However, his spotlight is easily stolen by the side characters.

My favorite is the scribe, a sassy-yet-vulnerable boy called Kenzi, whom I immediately grew to love. You'd expect the main character in such a setting to be the one with the unique abilities and all, but for the most part it's not him. Such a fantastic twist to the whole narrative that made me rejoice with joy. 

I almost instantly fell in love with the relationship protagonist Caenum has to his best friend Dreya. If it weren't for this lovely friendship with some tension, I'd probably say this is more of a Middle Grade than Young Adult read. The prose is very simplistic and colorful, but definitely does read like the intended audience is on the lower side of YA. 

Own Spin to it All

The magical tattoos are an interesting factor that defines this world. In INKED, you get a tattoo that marks what your destiny and/or future profession will be. Smith managed to incorporate them flawlessly into a world that I inexpclibaly immediately associated with a  Disney made-for-TV movie. It's so colorful and upbeat, but does fall into a couple of stereotypes. 

The villains feel very stereotypical, having scars and shaved heads, and the protagonist accidentally stumbles on a conspiracy, as you'd expect from a chosen one story. Despite those stereotypical elements, I do feel like Smith manages to put his own spin on all of it. 

If it weren't for the comparison with Disney movies, I'd say this essentially reads like DESCENDANTS meets FURTHERMORE. INKED really surprised me with being unlike what you'd expect from the blurb and really bringing a breath of fresh air into the genre.


Rating:

★★★★

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

INKED is a lovely little read if you like light High Fantasy and YA that's on the lower side. It made for a fun bedside table read, I found it very entertaining and was pleasantly surprised!



Additional Info

Published: January 20th 2015
Pages: 250
Publisher: Bloomsbury Spark
Genre: YA / High Fantasy
ISBN: 9781619638594

Synopsis:
"Tattoos once were an act of rebellion. 

Now they decide your destiny the moment the magical Ink settles under your skin. 

And in a world where Ink controls your fate, Caenum can't escape soon enough. He is ready to run from his family, and his best friend Dreya, and the home he has known, just to have a chance at a choice. 

But when he upsets the very Scribe scheduled to give him his Ink on his eighteenth birthday, he unwittingly sets in motion a series of events that sends the corrupt, magic-fearing government, The Citadel, after him and those he loves. 

Now Caenum, Dreya, and their reluctant companion Kenzi must find their way to the Sanctuary, a secret town where those with the gift of magic are safe. Along the way, they learn the truth behind Ink, its dark origins, and why they are the only ones who can stop the Citadel."(Source: Goodreads)


What would your magical tattoo look like?

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Monday, August 29, 2016

[Review] Truthwitch (The Witchlands #1) - Susan Dennard: Magic and Persecution

In TRUTHWITCH, Safi has the ability to see truth and lies through magic and is in big trouble when people realize what she can do.

What intrigued me: I've been in the mood for some witches.

Magic for the Sake of It

TRUTHWITCH immediately sucked me in through the marvellous writing. Dennard uses one of my favorite ways to start a story - jumping right into the scene and leaving the reader trying to find out what's going on. I was absolutely infatuated with the idea of these two havoc-wreaking girls who also happen to be witches, but after a few dozen pages quickly realized that there is one thing missing:

TRUTHWITCH heavily relies on it's massive foreign-yet-familiar world that's somehow reminiscent of Funke's spellbinding Inkworld trilogy. But where the Inkworld is cohesive and strucutred, TRUTHWITCH absolutely doesn't explain anything. Dennard chooses to introduce us to its world by simply mentioning words. Bloodwitches, Truthwitches, magic ropes. Everything is magic somehow but beyond the name of said magical object or person we aren't learning anything about the world. It's blatanlty obvious that this world building may be extensive but isn't well-thought out. Especially with the inciting incident: Truthwitch Safi is chased by a Bloodwitch all of a sudden. What's a Bloodwitch? Why is he immortal/invincible? What did they do? Why are they being chased??

This stands representative for the entire experience you'll have reading this. Zero explanations. Zero structure and logic, despite a giant world that you'll want to desperately know more about.

...everything else? Top notch.

At the core, TRUTHWITCH is so very well-written involving the most fantastic friendship between the leading girls Safi and Iseult and I wish, I desperately wish the magic system made sense. I wish the world building wasn't so la-di-da and standoff-ish. I grew so attached to the characters so quickly and I absolutely love Safi's character voice, which makes it all the more difficult and tragic to say that I genuinely didn't like this at all. 

TRUTHWITCH is by no means a book that you should skip because of that; I feel like this is a deeply personal thing - I personally like my magic to be cohesive and to make sense immediateley. The dilemma with TRUTHWITCH is that everything else about this novel is very close to perfection. The characters are great, the writing is top-notch, the world feels absolutely real. 


Rating:

★★☆☆

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

TRUTHWITCH is by no means a bad novel. I guess it comes down to personal preference; I'm a factual person that likes clear-cut descriptions and explanations. If you don't mind that and want a solid High Fantasy read that will suck you into its world, TRUTHWITCH is the right pick for you.



Additional Info

Published: August 22nd
Pages: 512
Publisher: Penhaligon
Genre: YA / High Fantasy
ISBN: 9783764531348

Synopsis:
"In a continent on the edge of war, two witches hold its fate in their hands.

Young witches Safiya and Iseult have a habit of finding trouble. After clashing with a powerful Guildmaster and his ruthless Bloodwitch bodyguard, the friends are forced to flee their home.

Safi must avoid capture at all costs as she's a rare Truthwitch, able to discern truth from lies. Many would kill for her magic, so Safi must keep it hidden - lest she be used in the struggle between empires. And Iseult's true powers are hidden even from herself.

In a chance encounter at Court, Safi meets Prince Merik and makes him a reluctant ally. However, his help may not slow down the Bloodwitch now hot on the girls' heels. All Safi and Iseult want is their freedom, but danger lies ahead. With war coming, treaties breaking and a magical contagion sweeping the land, the friends will have to fight emperors and mercenaries alike. For some will stop at nothing to get their hands on a Truthwitch.(Source: Goodreads)



Have you read TRUTHWITCH?

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Thursday, August 4, 2016

[Review] The Raven Boys (The Raven Cycle #1) - Maggie Stiefvater: 2 Edgy 4 Me


In THE RAVEN BOYS, not-so-psychic girl Blue sees a ghost for the first time, in form of local, rich,"raven boy" Gansey. The only way a non-psychic can see a ghost is when they are their true love, or were killed by them.

What intrigued me: Nagging friends trying to force me to read this.

Do we really need Blue in the story?

The concept in itself is interesting, well though-out and could very much hold my attention. I do love a good psychic story, the great base frame is absolutely overshadowed by the annoying characters. The main dilemma of the novel is that Blue can never kiss Gansey, because then he'll die. Simple solution: Just don't kiss him?!

I didn't really get why Blue was in this story in the first place. As a reader self insert I suppose. It would have been way more interesting to simply read about the raven boys themselves, since they are a on a far more interesting side quest themselves that involves a lot less annoying teenage romance angst. Gansey and his friends are looking for a ghost themselves and I wish the whole book would have just been about this, rather than awkwardly trying to mesh the two storylines. It'll probably all get explained and make sense in future sequels (which I will not read).

Sometimes unique isn't good

It would be absolutely unfair and a blatant lie if I were to say that this is a poorly-written book. The characters are very well-developed (even though you could argue about everyone's right to exist in the story). The writing isn't bad by all means, the entirety of it clearly planned down to every detail. But when reading this, you can't help but feel like it's trying to be something that it's not. Every sentence wants to hold a deep meaning so badly and could as well be splattered on a wall as an inspirational quote. Some people like that. I do not. I find it annoying and very difficult to endure to have a cast of characters that basically speak in Bukowksi quotes.

And even worse, narration like that throw you out of the story and makes you focus more on the foreshadowing and ~deep meaning~ than the actual story. I had a tremendously hard time trying to connect to the narrative, even understanding what's going on because of this. The plot moves forward insanely slowly, switching POVs so often that trying to read this equals an erratic carnival ride. 

THE RAVEN BOYS didn't have a single character that even felt remotely like a real person. They are walking jars full of little quotes that someone thought up and then tried to weave a story around. Again, this isn't a reason to call this book bad, it's simply just not my cup of tea, and these kinds of novels will never be.

THE RAVEN BOYS has all the potential to be a masterfully-crafted novel with a literary feel that's more of an artwork than a book, but fails, simply because it's trying too hard to be exactly that.


Rating:

★★☆☆

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

It's not my thing, but it would be downright mean, ignorant, and unfair to give this any less than three stars. I can't stand overly poetic writing just for the sake of it and I am not a fan of self-insert narrators that don't do much, aside from awkwardly swooning over their love interest.

My rating is mostly this high because of the craft aspect - Stiefvater definitely did paint an impressive world, but somewhere along the way forgot that the story has to entertain, too. Maybe you'll feel differently.


Additional Info

Published: September 18th 2012
Pages: 416
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Genre: YA / Paranormal / Ghosts
ISBN: 9780545424929

Synopsis:
"There are only two reasons a non-seer would see a spirit on St. Mark’s Eve,”  Neeve said. “Either you’re his true love . . . or you killed him.”

It is freezing in the churchyard, even before the dead arrive.

Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue herself never sees them—not until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks directly to her.

His name is Gansey, and Blue soon discovers that he is a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble.

But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can’t entirely explain. He has it all—family money, good looks, devoted friends—but he’s looking for much more than that. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents all the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul who ranges from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher of the four, who notices many things but says very little.

For as long as she can remember, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love to die. She never thought this would be a problem. But now, as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.(Source: Goodreads)


Have you read THE RAVEN BOYS?

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Wednesday, June 1, 2016

[Review] The Neverland Wars - Audrey Greathouse: Peter Pan and Storytelling





In THE NEVERLAND WARS, Gwen realizes magic is real when her little sister gets abducted by the infamous Peter Pan and taken to Neverland.

What intrigued me: I have never read a Peter Pan retelling!

Yes to all the magic!

THE NEVERLAND WARS isn't your average Peter Pan retelling. There are lots of retellings that paint him as the bad guy, but here it's sort of not a matter of black and white - I love that about this novel. In THE NEVERLAND WARS, magic is real and an important part of modern-day society, for example technology works through magic instead of engineering, which I found quite neat and interesting to read about. 

Generally, there is a very magical feel about this, not because it's a fairy tale retelling, but because Greathouse has such an interesting writing style. I'd say this is definitely the biggest strength of THE NEVERLAND WARS. The writing instantly transports you into a world where magic is real and I 100% believed this and thought it fits nicely. However, I have to say that the writing probably won't be for everyone. It's very lyrical and flowery. It reads like a work of literary fiction with a younger target audience. Interesting though!

Off-pace and too little "Wars"

I think THE NEVERLAND WARS has a nice idea, but I don't think the execution of the story necessarily compliments that.
The blurb suggests that this is a typical YA love story with a dash of magic, while the title suggests that this is a straight up showdown in which the adults take revenge on Peter Pan. And boy would I have loved it if THE NEVERLAND WARS was just that. I think this novel isn't daring enough. It's too much retelling and exploring and too little fight, fight, fight. The pacing is off, the structure barely there - it's a pity because I really loved the idea!

A thing that I struggled a lot with is the pace. THE NEVERLAND WARS takes an insane amount of time until it actually takes off. Instead of starting with the abduction of Gwen's sister, we get a whopping 50-ish pages of backstory, mundane everyday high school life, that bored me so much that I thought about DNF-ing this if I wouldn't give every book 100 pages before doing so.


Rating:

★★☆☆

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

THE NEVERLAND WARS wasn't my thing, I was hoping for more action. But this doesn't mean that you won't maybe like it, the writing is so nice that it's definitely worth a try.



Additional Info

Published: May 9th 2016
Pages: 302
Publisher: Clean Teen Publishing
Genre: YA / Magical Realism
ISBN: 9781634221719

Synopsis:
"Magic can do a lot—give you flight, show you mermaids, help you taste the stars, and… solve the budget crisis? That's what the grown-ups will do with it if they ever make it to Neverland to steal its magic and bring their children home.

However, Gwen doesn't know this. She's just a sixteen-year-old girl with a place on the debate team and a powerful crush on Jay, the soon-to-be homecoming king. She doesn't know her little sister could actually run away with Peter Pan, or that she might have to chase after her to bring her home safe. Gwen will find out though—and when she does, she'll discover she's in the middle of a looming war between Neverland and reality.

She'll be out of place as a teenager in Neverland, but she won't be the only one. Peter Pan's constant treks back to the mainland have slowly aged him into adolescence as well. Soon, Gwen will have to decide whether she's going to join impish, playful Peter in his fight for eternal youth… or if she's going to scramble back to reality in time for the homecoming dance."(Source: Goodreads)


Have you read Peter Pan retellings?

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Saturday, March 19, 2016

[Review] Carry On - Rainbow Rowell: Is This Queer Harry Potter?



In CARRY ON, Simon Snow, chosen one, wizard, and roommate to his moody vampire nemesis, is facing his arch enemy the Humdrum for the last time in his final year at a magical school.

What intrigued me: I wasn't a fan of FANGIRL and didn't really enjoy the snippets from CARRY ON in there, but I decided to give Rowell one last chance. And what can I say - sometimes books or certain authors just don't match your taste. It doesn't necessarily mean that they're bad.

If you're going to rip-off/write an homage, at least TRY to be original...

When I first heard that Rowell is writing this, I was actually pretty offended. It's cash grabbing, obviously. Simon Snow and Baz are the subject of the fan fiction of Rowell's character Cath from FANGIRL. They're an homage to Draco and Harry from the Harry Potter Series. And then Rowell goes ahead and writes a book about them. This would be fine and all if she actually put any effort in making "Carry On" an actual stand-alone. 

This book can't survive without Harry Potter. It's full of references that you only get if you're familiar with the HP books and every single chapter is blatantly ripped off from Rowling. From a genderbent!Hagrid to Hermione/Penelope to Dumbledore/The Mage  to Voldemort/The Humdrum.

And it's just not fun to guess who's who for 500 pages, it's just insanely frustrating to read a super predictable retelling of a better book whose only difference to the original is that it has more diverse characters. This is all there is to CARRY ON for me, the only thing that it does better than the HP books is the diversity. It's not suggested, it's not implied, it's referenced repeatedly. Kudos to Rowell, my rating goes up a whole star just for this.

The base frame may be copied, but the plot is her original... and it's not good.

Rowell completely loses herself in world building and neglects everything else. There is no reason for the reader to root for Simon, who's constantly complaining and cursing and giving off bad vibes. He's not sympathetic and he really is "the worst chosen one who's ever been chosen" like love interest Baz put it so nicely. He's a horrible character. I've had issues with Rowell's voice before, and yet again she can't write authentic teenage voices at all. Every word that comes out of Simon's mouth makes me cringe, even worse when combined with the excessive unnecessary cursing.

Well, not everything is bad about CARRY ON. I like the way she did copy stuff from the HP books but just altered it enough for this book to not be considered fan fiction. There are numerous magical beings and there's a nice ghost sub plot, but it's just not enough to keep my attention for whopping 522 pages. This book seriously needs some tightening. It's definitely interesting, but it gets old very easily. 
After about 150 pages I was just bored and had to force myself to continue. It just wasn't fun for me. I wish I would have liked this more, but the bitter aftertaste of CARRY ON being the least original thing to hit the YA market last year just makes me cringe infinitely.

Rating:

☆☆


Overall: Do I Recommend?

I'm simply not a fan of Rowell's novels personally. Her style is hard to read for me and insanely boring and every time I actually finish a book by her I feel like I've wasted my time. This doesn't mean that the books are bad. You'll have to find out for yourself, but I can just say that I didn't enjoy it and wouldn't recommend it to anyone with similar taste like me.



Additional Info

Published: October 6th 2015
Pages: 522
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Genre: YA / Paranormal / Witches and Wizards
ISBN: 1250049555

Synopsis:
"Simon Snow is the worst chosen one who’s ever been chosen.

That’s what his roommate, Baz, says. And Baz might be evil and a vampire and a complete git, but he’s probably right.

Half the time, Simon can’t even make his wand work, and the other half, he sets something on fire. His mentor’s avoiding him, his girlfriend broke up with him, and there’s a magic-eating monster running around wearing Simon’s face. Baz would be having a field day with all this, if he were here—it’s their last year at the Watford School of Magicks, and Simon’s infuriating nemesis didn’t even bother to show up.

Carry On is a ghost story, a love story, a mystery and a melodrama. It has just as much kissing and talking as you’d expect from a Rainbow Rowell story—but far, far more monsters.
 "(Source: Goodreads)


Do you think it's a Harry Potter rip-off? Are you as upset about it as I am?

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