Her world is shifted significantly when she saves the life of a young girl, after a boat explodes off the coast. She changes both their destinies in this one instant. Diana must take this girl, Alia, to a spring in Greece (where Helen of Troy rests) to cleanse her of her warbringer heritage (when she reaches 17 her blood will incite world war). Diana does this to save her people, save this young girl so similar to herself, and to prove there is greatness inside of her, that she is more than her mother's daughter.
The beginning of the book was slow, I found it very hard to place myself in the story. Even with all of the interesting background of the Amazons. Do not get me wrong, I love the idea of an Island of strong women who govern themselves; but, I was bored until Alia and Diana made their way off of it and to New York. I also found I could not connect with any of the characters, until I was introduced to Alia's best friend, Nim. Nim was fantastic, made everyone else seem more human, cut tension and filled the pages with laughter. She was by far my favourite character.
I believe the problem with this novel is that Leigh Bardugo is such a master creator. She is so imaginative when it comes to fabricating worlds and characters; so, her taking on a well known, pre-crafted character felt wrong. She had to confine herself to a pre-existing history. I much prefer her own spin, her own tales.
There were some amazing quotes in the novel, some genuine Bardugo gems that were beautiful, poignant and powerful. That is why I had a hard time rating the novel. By the end I was loving the mix of mythology and reality, the friction and the symmetry. But you cannot love a novel for a few amazing quotes and a fascinating and fast paced ending.
I will say that I felt the truth behind the race, the young girls' voices, the idea that at some point every young girl must face losing her innocence (whether to cat calling, to body image, to perceptions of how we must act in a man's world). Bang on, Bardugo, bang on; innocence is so easily exchanged for repression, for fear, for responsibility, for guilt, for shame.
This was a novel about strong women, those not afraid to fight for their beliefs, for truth, who were not afraid to lay down their lives for others. These moments of strength and truth were a win, and I do encourage young women to take those instances of learning from this book, even if the story otherwise fell flat most of the time.
Book 48/50...2 to go.
Felix, a soldier all of his life, is different. Somehow he can shed the skin of oppression, of tyrannical dictatorship, somehow he can still find the individual inside of himself. Despite all of the odds stacked against him, Felix can find a voice for change, for freedom, and for hope. His character is ferocious; however, underneath it all, he harbours a soft spot for a certain red headed rebel. If he is meant to be a leader, he means to be one who is not afraid to show weakness, to seek support and to trust in others (the opposite of the current regime). Felix has changed so much from his introduction in the first novel; from a "drone" with no emotions and a still heart, to a man who wears his beating heart on his sleeve.
Astra has always been headstrong. She fights for everything, and against everything. She inserts herself recklessly into dangerous situations, but does it without thought for herself, more as a strategy to protect those she believes are key to the revolution. Her character is amazing; a young woman who has suffered immeasurable pain and abuse, but who continues to push back. In this book, we see her strategic mind, her careful heart, and the softer side of this fiery redhead. While Felix learns to show his emotions, Astra learns to share hers, to share her burdens. They blend so effortlessly together, a beautiful love story you wish would never end.
The reader's fear for our intrepid heroes never abates, as they face one obstacle after another. At some points the novel felt unbelievably cyclical, repetitive in actions, but it is smoothed over by Felix actually saying what the reader is thinking, "how is this happening again?" Too funny! This lightens the mood in an otherwise chilling action sequence and endears him to the reader even more.
This is an epic love story, one that completely changes the reality surrounding it; so, be prepared to be heart broken, then healed, to fall in love with these two characters. Two beating hearts, whose lives have been about pain, loss, separation, loneliness, betrayal and death. Their ability to hope and love inspires.
"You have become the most brilliant star, even though you grew up in the fiercest of nights." - pure poetry
"If we don't think about them, we won't ever be able to be better than them." - profound
Book 47/50...3 to go!
We fear for her younger sister Phoebe (sick with pneumonia), we worry for her missing brother (who disappeared during the Mississippi flooding), there are too many secrets that could lead to trouble. Something is brewing and it will not be long until it bubbles over and scalds Caroline in some way. When the worst comes, it leaves the reader reeling, speechless and saddened. You are not quite sure how this family, how this 14 year old young woman, can fight past this new ache. Having endured so much, how can they possibly rebuild?
A new voice, burning with wisdom and hope, during one of the most tragic eras in American history, Susanna Lancaster is an author to watch! Her characters felt real. Caroline was strong willed, against all the odds. Even in a time when women were considered less than men, she hitched up her dress and pushed herself to take on the responsibilities and the burdens of the farm. She became the adult, when all the adults around failed her. Her only relief came from her endearing Aunt June (who fostered her reading and encouraged her to enjoy life and her childhood) and the ornery Miss Evelyn (an elderly neighbour, who changed Caroline's perspective on how she views and treats others).
There is a lot of growth in this novel, for all of the characters, but especially for Caroline. She slowly realizes that even if people move away, or out of your life, they are still a part of you and continue to influence who you are as a person. She gains understanding of others, accepts their faults and flaws, often forgiving instead of begrudging. Her realizations are genuine and honest, and by the end of the book you see the adult she has become in such a short time. The truths she reveals hold meaning for all of us. People may leave our lives, may face their own journeys, but they do not leave our hearts. Instead, they fill our hearts before they go; and, while they are gone we hold them close and love them just the same. They take pieces of us with them and we must learn to accept this and continue to live our own lives, to be happy as we are, with what we have, and with the knowledge that they are out there living as well. Caroline learns that growing up often means growing apart; however, this is not a bad thing, it is just a part of life.
Book 46/50...4 to go!
I loved this graphic novel, it was gripping and the three girl's character development was effortlessly done. Each with a bit more back story, showing their defining traits and abilities, as well as shifting previous views. Mac, the tough chick, is hit with some traumatic news which completely throws her character out of proportion. She becomes reckless, fearless, but is still so clearly a scared child who does not know how to accept or express an emotionally charged situation. Tiff is the character who most comes into her own; she is self sacrificing, caring, a voice of reason, but also a bit of a desperado. She is the glue keeping the girls together and on track. Erin has grown into a leader, the one the other girls listen to, respect and expect to know the answers. She is both hard and soft, she does not let confusion distract her. She also makes sure to hide truths until they are absolutely necessary to reveal them. These girls are amazing, and the more I read about them the more they grow on me and earn my respect.
This graphic novel is how a coming of age story is done right. We see these young women growing and learning, aging without the use of sex or inappropriate behaviour. They rely on each other, and have no need for romantic interests or distractions. This is a graphic novel about friendship through hardship. The plot is at once easy to understand; while also being complex, intricate and pushing the use of the reader's own imagination.
The colours were more muted in this volume, which seemed to highlight the bleak future. The future was darker, more reserved, shadowed. Pinks were once again used during times of duress, ie. the introduction of two large monsters battling each other, or when Mac finds out something tragic about her past. In the final panels of the graphic novel, the reader is treated to the most vibrant and idyllic colour scheme yet, and right away my guard went up. Something is off, these colours tell me to be weary and worried for our girls. What might they be greeted by in this beautiful place?
Favourite scene: when young Erin tells older Erin to love herself and lists all the points about older Erin that make her think her future looks pretty good. One of the most bizarre cases of a self confidence boost. So perfect, some quick words off the cuff that lead to a wordless few panels that really shine. Made me smile, even with the ever dreaded pink warning that something horrific lurks and where they are headed may well be a trap. Well done! Cannot wait to read Paper Girls 3.
Book 45/50...5 to go!
The amount of skin was unreal, and the fact that these inbred humans all still managed to be vivacious, curvaceous, beautiful, sexualized women or ripped men with only a slight problem in regards to their teeth and their intelligence, made me groan in annoyance. Our heroine's best friend, a male, is a sex fiend, whom every female character is throwing herself all over for sex. However, we can look past this because our heroine seems immune, but as we progress we see her whole person seems to be based around his approval and acknowledgment.
I became quite displeased with the continuous mention of female body parts, and the unrealistic proportions and facial expressions throughout. The colouring was exceptional, with both bright and dark at precisely the right moments, colours shifting depending on atmosphere, location, and mood. Purple and green for space; pink, red and orange for the planet, etc. However, the colouring could not make up for the rest. The story had potential, but seemed so rehashed from other comics, movies and books I have seen or read before. I mean, a cult of beautiful men and women, lead by a crazy Goddess, with thoughts of world, or in this case, galactic domination.
There are loopholes in the story too; for example, Astrid walking around freely as a slave, Astrid entering a sacred chamber with no one around or in it, breaking rules when her personality expressly rejects not following them. These inconsistencies and shifts in character personalities were drastic and unbelievable. Plus, for a stickler for rules, Astrid had no qualms about throwing her garbage out all around space. There was also a lot of obvious foreshadowing, where I would think, "well this was clearly put in just because something similar will be happening later on..." ugh!
My favourite character was her computer, or artificial intelligence, Itzak. It was much needed comic relief, in a graphic novel that was quickly degenerating to a bunch of pin-up images with an unformed story line within...was the story and dialogue an afterthought?
Not my kind of tale, to be honest. I prefer my scifi comics to contain heroines whose identity is not based around male characters and her body. Sure, Astrid can hold her own at times, but this felt more like one of those check out this big butt girl comics, focused on a female in desperate need of being accepted by an organization lead by a faulty patriarchy, to please her dead parents, and without thought to their ability to dismiss her so easily. No, thanks!
Book 44/50...6 to go!
Here are some of the panels I liked, based solely on the colouring and not the story. As well as, one of the panels with an emphasis on over-sexualized characterization.
I enjoyed each of the characters, and could clearly place myself in Anna's shoes. It is hard to like someone and not know how to express yourself, let alone someone who is your best friend and in a devoted relationship with someone else. There are bound to be complications, because teenagers cannot have rational, truthful conversations with each other.
There was a lot of detail, in character and location. In fact, by the end of the novel Paris has become a main character in itself. Its street are a map work of form, the buildings an echo of voices, the theatres the windows to the soul, even the people within have become a warm memory for Anna. Anna paints an image of Paris, and the painting shifts as she grows and learns to be herself in this utterly alien/foreign landscape. By the end, Paris is as much a friend as Mer, Rashmi and Josh.
I loved the idea that home was less of a location and more a person. Home travels with you, in your heart. It was neat to see this down-home American girl realize that roots can grow and encompass more than just family.
There was maybe a little too much drama, and I know they are teenagers so there was bound to be some, but I felt sometimes it was just too in your face and over the top. For example, Anna's anger at her friend for dating a boy she had a 'crush' on; although, I understand this was foreshadowing her own experiences to come, it felt so forced and a creation of conflict to tighten the bonds between Anna and Étienne.
I also have this dislike for novels where characters continuously talk about the other persons looks. Anna and Étienne are guilty of this trait. Beautiful this and beautiful that. This was the reason I could not stand the Twilight Saga, stopped at the first book because Bella was the most superficial character I have ever had the displeasure of reading about. Luckily, this only happened a few grating times and these two talked about other characteristics they loved.
There were plenty of angsty moments and several moments where you wish you could slap Anna or Étienne and say "get over it!" However, this endeared the characters to me more, because they were so flawed and human. They showed their vulnerability and their naïveté. They are the epitome of who we were in high school, secret crushes and all. They were us as we were leaving high school, with a whole future in front of us, no idea where it will lead, fear and excitement surging through our veins.
Book 43/50...7 to go!
This book started strong and sucked me right into Starr's life. The detail of her schedule, her over-achieving personality and her aptitude were well written. And, while the premise seems a bit far-fetched, it was believable in the way the author wrote. I loved her calculated escape from the Organization, and every explanation of her plans following.
However, once she met up with Christian I think the novel spun away from it being about a strong, independent, smart heroine, to a naive, emotional wreck, who was dependent on a boy. It seemed as though Starr's character altered drastically when this cute young man came into the picture, and it left me feeling disappointed.
I also did not understand why the scene involving her Grandparent's was added. It felt like they were thrown in just as a means of showing off Starr's keen logic and problem solving skills. Which this story line did, but it also came out of nowhere and seemed unnecessary to the plot. Felt very V. C. Andrews all of the sudden.
The novel picked up again after her Grandparent's disappeared from the page. Starr began behaving more like her previous self, but I still found her need for Christian to be annoying. Granted I am sure this is all explained throughout the three book series. It just seemed like their relationship advanced way too quickly for a young woman who, until recently, scheduled, planned and mapped out her life in immense detail. I also hope in the next two novels in the series that there is more description of Christian, and that his character is fully flushed out.
This novel started the ball rolling, with an intense, dramatic and thrilling beginning. Hopefully the next two in the series iron out the kinks. Starr has the potential to be a phenomenal heroine, when she is not continuously deciding between leaving Christian for his own safety and staying with him because his kisses win all arguments.
Book 42/50...8 to go.
There were just two issues I found with the book, which I want to get out of the way, as they were minor. The first was the use of over-explanation. Several paragraphs went too long into detail, to the point of being annoying. Or, in some cases, confusing. This only happened on occasion, then the novel was right back on track.
The second issue, and one I found more frustrating, were the lack of strong female characters, or more specifically the generalization of the existing female characters. Beautiful = weak/prone to following orders, ugly = strong, but still in need of a man to save you. John also lost me for a moment when all he could think about was getting laid by hot women, because he was possessing the body of a rock star (ugh); however, he clawed his way back into my good graces with other actions (even if his love of Faith came out of no where).
This book took me a while to read, not because it was bad, but because of the high concepts it presented. It provoked a lot of thinking, re-reading and moments where I had to put the book down to let my mind take a break. It did not help that most of my reading happens just before bed, when I am already half out of it. I will tell you this though, I never thought I would love an adult book where two of the main characters are talking pigeons. This novel was funny on several occasions and terrifying on others. The reader is as confounded as John by what he learns about the world around him and, as he changes, so does your perspective.
The world that Tony Moyle has crafted is well thought out and detailed. What he describes of life and the afterlife if so believable that, by the end, you are beyond shocked by the truth. The last few chapters had me hooked, I could not put the book down, I was so invested in John winning that I felt as personally affronted as he was by the situation he eventually found himself in. Without going in to too much detail, the end is a horrific plot twist which leaves you contemplating how John can possibly go on, will there ever be a good outcome on the horizon? Is this all there is?
I look forward to the sequels, as I have many unanswered questions. Does FBI Agent 15, Victor, have a vendetta to settle against John? What happened to Prime Minister Byron? What is the fate of Faith and Herb, who have been affected by Emorfed (the spirit sucking drug)? Will video footage of the Prime Minister hanging upside down from a parachute over a cliff ever surface? Who is the Devil?
Great first novel by Tony Moyle, full of promise for his next works. This book is very religious/philosophical, while also being driven by science, so be prepared for the two worlds to collide on several fronts. Pick it up if you want to laugh, to think and to have your beliefs and allegiances tested.
Book 41/50...9 to go!
I am down to my last 10 books to read before I have hit my goal of reading 50 books in 2017. Wow, I cannot believe I have come this far so quickly. What should I do once I hit the 50 mark? Should I up my goal, should I continue going past my goal, should I start fresh? Should I change up how I choose my books, for example, focus on one author, one genre, take suggestions for reads? What are your thoughts readers?
See the 40 books I have read in 2017 so far. Blown away!
It reminded me heavily of Stranger Things, but with more action, more female power, and a more ominous atmosphere (as much as that is possible). Pays homage to all those 80's flicks, about kids who have to go out on their own to defeat some kind of darkness (ie. The Monster Squad, Goonies, Legend). Even with all of the bright colours, the comic was able to purvey excitement, horror, loneliness and fear. The bright colours often contrasted the emotions, making it stark and confusing, but in a good way. The drawing perfectly captured the era they were conveying, and reflected well the 80's preteen.
I especially enjoyed the pink colouring within, it was genius. Flipping gender stereotypes on their heads is my jam, and this comic took pink from being feminine, girly, fancy and annoying to being in your face or subtle, calm or terrifying, it was used as a weapon (or the essence or force behind the weapon), and it was a harbinger of doom. There was nothing safe about the colour pink in this graphic novel, it was meant to be overwhelming, overbearing, and bled throughout like a sickness. Pink was power and possession. It made me appreciate a colour I truly despise!
I am excited to open the pages of the next graphic novel; with the fate of our four heroines up in the air, what happens next? What does Apple have to do with world destruction? Why are teenagers labelled criminals? What are these terrifying flying creatures and their knights? Who is good and who is bad? What is with Erin's crazy nightmares about hell?
I am invested, intrigued, and a fan. This graphic novel is electrifying, neon-tastic, and a perfect read for both young girls and guys. Strong young women, a powerful storyline, great messages, so glad these kinds of graphic novels are becoming more popular. This is what I craved as a kid, not the superhero women that I had nothing in common with, who seemed less powerful then all of the superhero dudes. Luckily, I had Robotech, which I collected in abundance, something about robots and space...haha.
I encourage everyone to grab this thrilling read, if for nothing else but the amazing drawing, colouring, and thrust of nostalgia it produces. Seriously though, you will stick around for the characters and this powerfully written scifi saga!
Some of my favourite pages below, showing off the vivid colour.