Monday, January 25, 2016

Suicide Reviews: Spirit Bound (Vampire Academy #5) by Richelle Mead

 Spirit Bound (Vampire Academy, #5) 

Synopsis: After a long and heartbreaking journey to Dimitri's birthplace in Siberia, Rose Hathaway has finally returned to St. Vladimir's and to her best friend, Lissa. It is at long last graduation, and the girls can't wait for their real lives beyond the Academy's iron gates to begin. But Rose's heart still aches for Dimitri, and she knows he's out there somewhere.

She failed to kill him when she had the chance. And now her worst fears are coming true. Dimitri has tasted her blood, and now he is hunting her. And this time he won't rest until Rose joins him...forever.

Date Published: May 18, 2010
Published By: Razorbill
Number of Pages: 489
Rating: 4/5

I've had mixed feelings about the Vampire Academy series as I've been reading it but I can definitely say that Spirit Bound is my favorite book in the series so far.

There's so much action! Loads of drama! The plot hurtles along at a breakneck speed and I'm surprised I didn't rip any pages out, I was turning them so fast. Rose spends a lot of her time clashing with the Moroi Royal Court, the governing body responsible for all of vampire society. She's her usual badass, outspoken self and of course, this gets her into trouble. But would we want any less? 

I don't want to go into too much detail because I don't want to spoil anybody but I will say that the complicated relationship between Dimitri and Rose is the best part of the book. I've kind of been a lukewarm Dimitri/Rose shipper but, in Spirit Bound, their relationship just becomes so interesting that it is now impossible for me not to root for them. So much angst! But it's so juicy! 

The fifth installment in the Vampire Academy series is pure, ecstatic fun. I can't wait to see how it all ends. 

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Suicide Reviews: My Life on the Road by Gloria Steinem

 My Life on the Road 

Synopsis: Gloria Steinem had an itinerant childhood. When she was a young girl, her father would pack the family in the car every fall and drive across country searching for adventure and trying to make a living. The seeds were planted: Gloria realized that growing up didn't have to mean settling down. And so began a lifetime of travel, of activism and leadership, of listening to people whose voices and ideas would inspire change and revolution.

My Life on the Road is the moving, funny, and profound story of Gloria's growth and also the growth of a revolutionary movement for equality - and the story of how surprising encounters on the road shaped both. From her first experience of social activism among women in India to her work as a journalist in the 1960s; from the whirlwind of political campaigns to the founding of Ms. magazine; from the historic 1977 National Women's Conference to her travels through Indian Country - a lifetime spent on the road allowed Gloria to listen and connect deeply with people, to understand that context is everything, and to become part of a movement that would change the world.

In prose that is revealing and rich, Gloria reminds us that living in an open, observant, and 'on the road' state of mind can make a difference in how we learn, what we do, and how we understand each other.

Date Published: October 27, 2015
Published By: Random House
Number of Pages: 304
Rating: 5/5

I have always admired Gloria Steinem as a pioneering feminist but I never really knew that much about her personal history until I read her memoir. But while reading My Life on the Road I noticed that Steinem isn't really interested in sharing her own story - or at least not very much of it. Instead, she shares the stories of people that she's met during her travels as an activist. 

It was so inspiring to read about so many people that have participated in advancing women's rights. Sometimes as a feminist, things can seem a little bleak (especially if you spend too much time on the internet.) But Gloria's tale is one of hope and optimism. She believes that things can change and demonstrates that things have indeed changed since the beginning of the feminist movement. Even when she has been met with hostility and ignorance, Gloria sees them as teaching moments instead of labeling them as 'bad' experiences. 

Gloria advocates for racial equality as well as gender equality and truly demonstrates what it means to be an intersectional feminist - concerned about all matters of injustice, not just the ones that affect her directly. Gloria talks about creating communal talking spaces where people listen to each other as the best way to enact change. She demonstrates that true connection between human beings is the way forward. 

I am so glad I went on this journey with Gloria. It has inspired me to be a better person as well as a better feminist. Everyone needs to read this book!

I read My Life on the Road for Emma Watson's feminist book club, Our Shared Shelf. Find the Goodreads page here. 

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Suicide Reviews: Da Vinci's Tiger by L.M. Elliott

 Da Vinci's Tiger 

Synopsis: The beautiful, witty daughter of a wealthy family, Ginevra de' Benci longs to share her poetry and participate in the artistic ferment of Renaissance Florence. But she is trapped in an arranged marriage in a society dictated by men, expected to limit her creativity to household duties.

When charismatic Venetian ambassador Bernardo Bembo arrives in Florence, he introduces Ginevra to a dazzling circle of patrons, artists, and philosophers - a world of thought and conversation she has yearned for. She is attracted to the handsome newcomer, yet conflicted about his attentions. Choosing Ginevra as his Platonic muse, Bembo commissions her portrait by a young Leonardo da Vinci. Posing for the brilliant painter inspires a captivating intimacy between them. In a vivid backdrop of exquisite art, jousts, and festivals, the young poet faces many challenges to discover her voice, artistic companionship, and a love that defies categorization. In the end, she and Leonardo are caught up in a deadly battle between powerful families.

In this beautifully written exploration of a real-life Renaissance woman, L.M. Elliott delivers the stunning tale of Ginevra de' Benci, captured forever in Leonardo da Vinci's first portrait, a painting that broke convention and established the master as a force of artistic honesty.

Date Published: November 10, 2015
Published By: Katherine Tegan Books
Number of Pages: 287
Rating: 3.5/5

It's been a while since I've read a historical fiction novel based on a real-life person. Before I picked up Da Vinci's Tiger I had never even heard of Ginevra de' Benci. Apparently, her portrait is famous for being the only da Vinci painting to reside in the Americas. (Something else I didn't know.) If I got nothing else from this book, I at least picked up some cool art trivia. 

Thankfully, I did get more out of this book then just some art facts. There is some incredibly rich imagery in this novel that goes hand in hand with the art theme. The joust scene at the beginning of the book is especially vivid and immediately hooked me into the story while at the same time establishing the time period. 

The book takes place in Florence during the Renaissance age. L.M. Elliott establishes her story firmly in reality through extensive research - almost all of the characters in her novel are based on real-life people. She also weaves a lot of background information about everyday society in 15th-century Florence. While there is some fascinating stuff in here, I find sometimes that the author relies too much on exposition - 'telling' the reader instead of 'showing' them. 

What I loved most about this book was its feminist message - Ginevra struggles to have her voice heard in her male-dominated society. Forming a tentative friendship with Leonardo and exchanging ideas with him helps her to unleash her creativity and take charge of her own life. 

Another thing I love about Ginevra is that she remains true to herself throughout the story. Some readers might bemoan the lack of romance but the book isn't really about that - it's about a young girl struggling to be seen as her own person instead of something that men can objectify and use for their own spiritual or material gain. Ginevra is tempted at times to give in to her more romantic side but in the end, she is able to discern for herself what true love really means. 

The story is a little slow at times and I wished the relationship between Ginevra and Leonardo could have developed a little more but overall, this is a great historical YA novel that will appeal to those who are interested in the Renaissance period. 

Da Vinci's Tiger is the January 2016 pick for the We the Book Dragons book club. You can find them on Goodreads and Instagram

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books I've Recently Added to My TBR


My TBR is already thousands of books long (I'm not kidding) and I still add more to it almost every day. Here are the Top 10 Books I've Recently Added to My TBR:

1.) Heartless by Marissa Meyer

After reading her epic Lunar Chronicles series, I will read anything and everything Marissa Meyer publishes. Her Alice in Wonderland adaptation, telling the origin story of the Queen of Hearts, will definitely be a must-read once it comes out in November.

2.) The Winner's Kiss (The Winner's Trilogy #3) by Marie Rutkoski
The Winner's Kiss (The Winner's Trilogy, #3)

I finally got around to reading the first two books in this series just a few weeks ago and now I'm obsessed. I cannot wait to read the final book!

3.) The Last Star (The 5th Wave #3) by Rick Yancey
The Last Star (The 5th Wave, #3)

This is another series I just got caught up on this month. I'm excited to see how it all ends.

4.) Under the Skin by Michel Faber
Under the Skin

My friend started a book club a few months ago and this is our most recent selection. I've seen the film adaptation already so it will be interesting to see what the book is like.

5.) My Life on the Road by Gloria Steinem
My Life on the Road

Speaking of book clubs, I was so excited when I heard Emma Watson was starting a feminist book club. I'm definitely excited to read the first selection. If you're interested in joining the club, here's the Goodreads page.

6.) United States of Japan by Peter Tieryas
United States of Japan

This book comes out in March and it sounds amazing. The premise of the book is that the Axis powers won World War II and now the Japanese Empire rules over the western US states. How awesome does that sound? Plus, there's a giant robot on the cover!

7.) Truthwitch (The Witchlands #1) by Susan Dennard
Truthwitch (The Witchlands, #1)

This debut has been blowing up all over bookish social media so I might have to jump on the bandwagon soon...

8.) The Summer Dragon (The Evertide #1) by Todd Lockwood
The Summer Dragon (The Evertide, #1)

The first book in a new series about dragons, politics, and war. SIGN.ME.UP.

9.) How to Read Literature Like a Professor: A Lively and Entertaining Guide to Reading Between the Lines by Thomas C. Foster
How to Read Literature Like a Professor: A Lively and Entertaining Guide to Reading Between the Lines

I've been wanting to become a more in-depth reader lately and this seems like a fun introduction to literary analysis.

10.) Anything Star Wars
Star Wars: The Force Awakens

I just saw The Force Awakens the other day and it blew my mind! After watching it, I immediately inducted myself into the Star Wars fandom and am desperate for more. Luckily, there are a ton of spin-off books for me to devour while I await Episode VIII.

Top Ten Tuesday is an original bookish meme created by The Broke and the Bookish.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Suicide Reviews: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

 The Night Circus 

Synopsis: The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white-striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des Reves, and it is open only at night. 

But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway: a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them both, this is a game in which only one can be left standing. Amidst the high stakes, Celia and Marco soon tumble headfirst into love, setting off a domino effect of dangerous consequences, and leaving the lives of everyone from the performers to the patrons hanging in the balance. 

Date Published: September 13, 2011
Published By: Anchor
Number of Pages: 512
Rating: 4/5

Fantasy and romance fans have been raving about The Night Circus ever since it was first published so I'm surprised it took me so long to pick it up. It has everything that could attract me as a reader: magic, dueling magicians, magic, a mysterious circus, magic, romance, and, oh yeah, magic!

Based on reviews I had a certain idea of what the plot would be and how the story would unfold. However, my preconceived notions were completely blown away. I had the notion that it would be a lot like The Prestige (you know, that movie where Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman try to kill each other with magic tricks) but with maybe more of a romantic flavor. Sure, both of these stories have the dueling magicians plotline in common but the similarities end there. 

First of all, Celia and Marco are hardly ever together. Celia works her magic within the circus, while Marco works from outside. So they don't get a lot of face time. Yes, they have a few stolen romantic moments, which are quite nice, but I found the love story felt sort of stifled because of the distance between the two characters. The romance simmers beneath the surface almost the entire book until it boils over in the climactic ending. So readers wanting a fast-paced, passionate romance won't find it here. Still, I think it worked in the story overall. 

Speaking of slow pacing, the entire story doesn't really get off the ground until about 200 pages in. I feel the author was taking her time fleshing out the characters and the plot to achieve a more dramatic effect at the end but there were times when I really wanted the action to pick up. I suppose I expected dueling magicians in the sense of like, wizard duels in Harry Potter but instead, Celia and Marco compete by building more and more extravagant exhibits for the circus. So, it's pretty light on action, too.

Okay, this is beginning to sound like I didn't enjoy the book at all. I actually really did like it (hence the 4/5 rating.) It was just different from what I expected.

The thing I enjoyed most about the book was the lyrical, vivid writing. Erin Morgenstern is a magician with words, weaving enchanting images that play out in the reader's mind like a movie. I could smell the popcorn, feel the canvas tents, see the incredible illusions being performed. Her imagination is truly staggering and, with descriptions like that, I don't begrudge her the 500 page count at all. 

The Night Circus is a magical reading experience and I'm so glad I finally got around to reading it. Some people want there to be a sequel but I think it works perfectly as a stand-alone novel. I would kill to see a film version, though. 

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten 2015 Releases I Meant to Get but Didn't


Of course, we all know it's impossible to buy all the books you want in any given year. Here are my Top Ten 2015 Releases that I wanted to buy but, for one reason or another, didn't. 

1.) Mosquitoland by David Arnold

I've heard a ton of great things about this novel but after it's initial publication, it kind of dropped off my radar. But now that I've seen it on a bunch of year-end Best of 2015 lists, I'm definitely going to try to read it in 2016. 

2.) Confess by Colleen Hoover

I'll confess: (haha, see what I did there?) I've never read anything by Colleen Hoover yet but her 2015 release sounded really intriguing. I even spotted it in a bookstore at one point and almost picked it up but, unfortunately, I put it back and I have yet to add it to my shelf. 

3.) The Girl at Midnight by Melissa Grey
The Girl at Midnight (The Girl at Midnight, #1)

So apparently this book has dragon people in it and I didn't buy it? What the hell, self?

4.) Uprooted by Naomi Novik

This book seems like it's right up my alley - there's magic, wizards, a badass heroine. And it's gotten stellar reviews. Yet, for some reason, I didn't get around to buying it.

5.) Finders Keepers by Stephen King
Finders Keepers (Bill Hodges Trilogy, #2)

I feel so ashamed of myself - a Stephen King book came out in 2015 and I didn't buy it. But that's only because I haven't read the first book in the Bill Hodges I said, so ashamed!

6.) Wind/Pinball by Haruki Murakami
Wind/Pinball: Two Novels

A major Murakami release came out in 2015 but I didn't buy it. I debated about this one for a while but ultimately decided to wait for the paperback. 

7.) Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho
Sorcerer to the Crown (Sorcerer Royal, #1)

Another fantasy book I failed to pick up in 2015 - there were just too many of them, I couldn't possible buy them all!

8.) Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
Six of Crows (Six of Crows, #1)

Six of Crows was a HUGE deal in 2015 - everyone was talking about it. I obsessed over the cover ever since it was revealed - but I haven't finished Bardugo's Grisha trilogy yet (loved the first book, just haven't finished the rest of the series.) So, I put this one on hold. 

9.) Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin
Wolf By Wolf (Wolf By Wolf, #1)

I really wanted this book - an alternate history where Hitler won the war? Sign me up! So I put it on my Christmas list but unfortunately, I guess I was too naughty this year for Santa to bring it to me. :(

10.) The Sword of Summer by Rick Riordan
The Sword of Summer (Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard, #1)

So I'm usually pretty good at collecting Rick Riordan's books even though I haven't read any of them yet. (I know, I'm a weirdo.) Still, how could I pass up that gorgeous cover? Well, I did and have yet to add it to my collection. 

So, what books did you want but not get in 2015? Let me know!

Top Ten Tuesday is an original book tag created by The Broke and the Bookish.

Suicide Reviews: Frankenstein by Mary Shelley


Synopsis: No one in the grip of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, with its mythic-minded hero and its man-made monster who reads Goethe and longs to be at peace with himself, can fail to notice how superior the original is to all the adaptations, imitations, and outright plagiarisms that have followed in its ample wake. Controversial for addressing the topic of artificially creating life in the nineteenth century, the most sympathetic character in the novel is the monster himself. But when Dr. Frankenstein, the 'father' of the creature, refuses to bring life to a companion for his creation, the plot takes an even darker turn. Mary Shelley's first novel, written at the instigation of Lord Byron and published in 1818, Frankenstein is one of English Romanticism's finest prose fiction works and a novel that has continued to inspire and terrify its readers. 

Date Published: March 11, 1818
Number of Pages: 231
Rating: 5/5

Most people are familiar with Frankenstein and his monster in some shape or form. Since Frankenstein's publication there have been numerous interpretations of the story in the form of plays, books, and films. And of course there are the Halloween decorations. 

What is so incredible to me is how much these adaptations differ from the original text. There is no sign of the hunchback assistant, Igor. The bride of the monster is never fully realized. And far from being the stiff, groaning creature we know from pop culture, Frankenstein's monster is actually articulate and learned, making lofty speeches about love and humanity. 

This story is often described as a work of horror. This is definitely true (what could be more horrifying than a man creating a living thing from dead body parts) but the work is also very philosophical. It raises some deep questions: are people born evil or does a prejudiced society make them that way? Who is the real monster: Frankenstein or the creature he created? Where is the line between ambition and obsession? Should we advance science as far as it can go - no matter the consequences? 

Don't be scared off by the philosophical aspect of the novel - Frankenstein is still highly entertaining. The most fascinating aspect of the book is when the monster tells his own tragic story - how he fled from Victor's lab, was chased by villagers, and how he came to educate himself and learn about the world. The tragic ending is fitting - how could a story like this possible have a happy ending?

Frankenstein has been around for almost 200 years and with good reason. It should be read by everyone in general and horror fans in particular. 

Monday, January 11, 2016

Suicide Reviews: The Winner's Crime (The Winner's Trilogy #2) by Marie Rutkoski

The Winner's Crime (The Winner's Trilogy, #2) 

Synopsis: A royal wedding means one celebration after another: balls, fireworks, and revelry until dawn. But to Kestrel it means living in a cage of her own making. As the wedding approaches, she aches to tell Arin the truth about her engagement: that she agreed to marry the crown prince in exchange for Arin's freedom. But can Kestrel trust Arin? Can she even trust herself? 

Kestrel is becoming very good at deception. She's working as a spy in the court. If caught, she'll be exposed as a traitor to her country. Yet she can't help searching for a way to change her ruthless world...and she is close to uncovering a shocking secret.

This dazzling follow-up to The Winner's Curse reveals the high price of dangerous lies and untrustworthy alliances. The truth will come out, and when it does, Kestrel and Arin will learn just how much their crimes will cost them.

Date Published: March 3, 2015
Published By: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux
Number of Pages: 402
Rating: 5/5

I can sum up The Winner's Crime in one word: heartbreaking.

Here's why you should read it.

Kestrel continues to be a total badass, playing dangerous political games with the Valorian emperor in order to keep Arin safe. Unfortunately, this involves deceiving Arin to such an extent that he no longer trusts her. This, of course, leads to disastrous consequences and a devastating ending. 

The political machinations in The Winner's Crime are even more intricate and compelling than they were in the first book. Kestrel navigates through the highest levels of power with a corresponding level of risk. Arin, too is involved in risky politics as the new governor of Herran. Neither Arin nor Kestrel escape unscathed as they weave through the various power plays and treachery. 

I've always been partial to forbidden love stories but the Winner's series deals with the trope in a wonderfully fresh way. Neither Kestrel nor Arin are willing to do whatever it takes to be together - they both have other things to consider, other loyalties. But they can't help but love each other and this is what makes the story so devastating - whatever they try to do to protect each other only drives them further apart. 

Fans of traditional romance novels might not care for this book - there aren't a lot of gush-worthy moments between Arin and Kestrel in this installment in the series. The romance in the Winner's trilogy has a different heart to it - it is more real and more painful but ultimately, it will resonate with readers because it is honest and deep. 

 I'm glad The Winner's Crime is not the ending to the series and I cannot wait to get my hands on the third and final book. 

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Suicide Reviews: The Winner's Curse (The Winner's Trilogy #1) by Marie Rutkoski

 The Winner's Curse (The Winner's Trilogy, #1) 

Synopsis: 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 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.

Date Published: March 4, 2014
Published By: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux
Number of Pages: 355
Rating: 5/5

I am completely in awe of this book. It is everything I'm looking for in a romantic historical fantasy. The world-building is incredible, the characters are well-rounded and complex, and the writing is beautiful and lush.

Marie Rutkoski has managed to create a realistic fantasy world of astonishing complexity and depth. The two warring nations, the Valorians and the Herrani, each have their own separate cultures, histories, and languages. The world is so incredibly imaginative that I can feel the history lurking beneath the surface even if it isn't spelled out on the page. This is the kind of world-building that sucks you in and immerses you until you feel as if the story can't possibly be fiction - it must be based on fact. I think that's what every fantasy author strives to do and Marie Rutkoski has mastered it brilliantly - she even makes it look easy.

Kestrel might just be my new favorite heroine in YA fantasy literature. What I love most about her is that, unlike some YA heroines, she is unskilled with using weapons. She's not totally inadequate - she does know how to defend herself. But let's just say Katniss Everdeen could teach her a thing or two about how to use a bow and arrow.

Kestrel has different strengths- for one, she is incredibly smart and tactical. She assesses situations, analyzes her enemies, and uses her wits to gain the upper hand. She's not particularly romantic - which makes it so much more satisfying when she realizes that she has feelings for Arin.

The love between Arin and Kestrel is nowhere near instantaneous - Arin hates Kestrel at first, and everything she represents. Kestrel has her own prejudices about the Herrani but gradually overcomes them as she gets to know Arin. Both Arin and Kestrel are loyal to their respective tribes which makes the love between them even more devastating - they must choose between their love for each other and their loyalty to their people.

The ending is spectacular, wrapping up the first book perfectly but still leaving things open-ended enough for the sequel. I cannot wait to see what happens in the next book.

The Winner's Curse is perfect for fans of romantic fantasy - it's a complex, heartbreaking story that will leave you wanting more. If you loved Kristin Cashore's Graceling series, you'll love The Winner's Curse.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Bookish Resolutions for 2016


1.) I resolve to read at least 100 books this year. I'll be keeping track on Goodreads. 

2.) I resolve to get caught up on Sarah J. Maas' Throne of Glass series. I loved A Court of Thorns and Roses and want to read all of her books so I can read them as they are released. 
Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass, #1) 

3.) I resolve to attend more bookish events in my community this year. (Poetry readings, philosopher cafes, book festivals, etc.) I'd really like to meet more bookish people and get out of the house more.

4.) I resolve to support my local independent bookstores by purchasing from one of them at least once every two months.

5.) I resolve to spend less time on social media and more time reading. (No more mindlessly scrolling through Pinterest!)

6.) I resolve to join a REAL-LIFE book club this year. (Not just online ones!)

7.) I resolve to ALWAYS read the book before seeing the movie.

8.) I resolve to return to writing fiction and send at least one piece of writing out for publication.

9.) I resolve to tell an author if I love their book (through Twitter, Instagram, etc.) Also, to write a hand-written letter to my favorite author, J.K. Rowling.

10.) I resolve not to be personally offended if someone doesn't like one of my favorite books. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion.

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly tag originally created by The Broke and the Bookish.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Suicide Reviews: The Infinite Sea (The 5th Wave #2) by Rick Yancey

The Infinite Sea (The 5th Wave, #2) 

Synopsis: How do you rid the Earth of seven billion humans? Rid them of their humanity.

Cassie Sullivan and her companions lived through the Others' four waves of destruction. Now, with the human race nearly exterminated and the 5th Wave rolling across the landscape, they face a choice: brace for winter and hope for Evan Walker's return, or set out in search of other survivors before the enemy closes in. Because the next attack is more than possible - it's inevitable.

No one can anticipate the depths to which the Others will sink, nor the heights to which humanity will rise, in the ultimate battle between life and death, hope and despair, love and hate.

Date Published: September 16, 2014
Published By: Putnam Juvenile
Number of Pages: 300
Rating: 5/5

In a lot of ways, The Infinite Sea serves as the traditional placeholder in a trilogy - the middle book where not much happens except a lot of setting up for the final novel. It is definitely less epic in scope than the first book. 

But Yancey continues to surprise the reader with unexpected twists and different perspectives. For the first time, we get inside the head of Ringer, the grim teenage girl who was recruited as a soldier in the last book and helped Cassie and her group escape. She quickly became my favorite character in this book - tough, resourceful, and intelligent, Ringer is a total badass. She is stoic but not unemotional, expressing her feelings in unexpected ways. Ringer does what she wants and doesn't allow herself to be pushed around by anyone - even genocidal aliens. 

In The Infinite Sea, we learn more about the alien's plot to take over the world but the answers we're given only lead to more unanswered questions. There is still a mystery to be solved here and I'm hoping the third book will be the final piece to the puzzle. This isn't your typical alien invasion - there's a lot of nuance to it. I love the complexity of the plot in all its twists and turns. 

Another thing I love about this series is the philosophical questions it raises: What does it mean to be human? What sacrifices do you have to make in order to retain your humanity? Is it even worth retaining or is survival the only thing that matters? The characters in this book face hard choices and must weigh every decision - any wrong move might cost them their lives. 

If I have any criticism for The Infinite Sea, it's that, at times, it feels a tad overwritten. Yancey clearly loves to play with language and creates passages of stunning imagery - but it sometimes gets in the way of the plot. 

The Infinite Sea is a masterful follow-up to The 5th Wave and I cannot wait to see how it all ends in The Last Star. 

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Suicide Reviews: The 5th Wave (The 5th Wave #1) by Rick Yancey

The 5th Wave (The 5th Wave, #1) 

Synopsis: After the 1st Wave, only darkness remains. After the 2nd, only the lucky escape. And after the 3rd, only the unlucky survive. After the 4th Wave, just one rule applies: trust no one.

Now it's the dawn of the 5th Wave, and on a lonely stretch of highway, Cassie runs from them. The beings who only look human, who roam the countryside killing anyone they see. Who have scattered Earth's last survivors. To stay alone is to stay alive, Cassie believes, until she meets Evan Walker. Beguiling and mysterious, Evan may be Cassie's only hope for rescuing her brother - or even saving herself. But Cassie must choose: between trust and despair, between defiance and surrender, between life and death. To give up or to get up. 

From award-winning author Rick Yancey comes a gripping epic of catastrophic loss, unthinkable odds, and unflinching courage.

Date Published: May 7, 2013
Published By: G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers
Number of Pages: 457
Rating: 5/5

I am so glad this book lived up to the hype. Even though I'm excited for the upcoming film adaptation, I know it will only pale in comparison to this epic sci-fi tale of survival and resilience. 

From the very first page I was sucked into the story. I plowed through the first hundred pages without looking up, and when I did, it was like waking from an incredibly vivid dream. I actually had to remind myself that aliens hadn't invaded the planet in reality (at least not yet.) That type of realism for such a fantastical story is awe-inspiring. It made me think that if aliens did invade our planet, it would happen exactly as it did in The 5th Wave.

I loved all of the characters and the complex, ever-shifting dynamics between them. The relationship between Cassie and Evan Walker is particularly intriguing. I won't spoil anything, but I did figure out what eventually happens between them long before it actually happened. Of course, this may have been because I saw the trailer for the movie, and guessed the twist from there. (Come on, movie trailers, could you be any more obvious?)  

The aliens in this book are some of my favorite that I've ever come across in science fiction. Of course, I'll always have a soft spot for sexy aliens, like Daemon Black from the Lux series, but, man, do I love me some evil, destructive aliens hell-bent on world domination. The structure Yancey uses to describe the invasion with the different Waves is masterful - both chilling and completely convincing. 

The 5th Wave is exactly the kind of post-apocalyptic alien-invasion story I've been looking for. I can't believe it's taken me this long to read it. This book isn't just for young adult sci-fi fans - adult readers will love it too. 

The 5th Wave Movie Trailer