A World of Make Believe

I really only care about villains and evil!boyfriends. mostly evil!boyfriends. predominantly evil!boyfriends. I read a lot. I'm a senior English major. I write YA Fantasy. featuring (yeah) evil!boyfriends

Code Name Verity

Code Name Verity  - Elizabeth Wein

This book is so important. For me, because of this line:

"It's like being in love, discovering your best friend."

I just finished this and I'm emotional in that I've bawled my bloody eyes out and I can't remember the last time I've cried so hard over a book before in my life. There are tear stains on page 319 from the person that checked this book out before me and page 319 is where I absolutely lost it and had to step away and let myself cry. This is difficult to review because so much of the story was so interwoven and I don't want to spoil anything at all so I'll keep this relatively short. This is a book about two extraordinary ladies and their friendship. This is more important than any romance a person could recommend for me to read (not that romance is bad, I obviously enjoy romance in novels. I just enjoy friendship more ). This is about a brave Scottish girl breaking under the weight of torture by the hands of the Nazis and telling the story of how she met an extraordinary pilot-slash-mechanic. And ultimately, how an extraordinary pilot-slash-mechanic did the unthinkable for her best friend. 

I love historical fiction but generally avoid it because of inaccuracies or moments when history is discarded to let plot and fiction take its course. This book probably has more technical jargon than one would care to read but it made it all the more enriching. It made it all so painfully real. The narration of this book was just as raw as you would expect from a girl weighted down by the force of her treason in complying with the enemy. It was also technically stunning, as she's writing about her best friend, about Maddie, more than she's writing her own story. It's a book about war and espionage and lady pilots and friendship, most of all friendship.

Days of Blood and Starlight -

This was one of the best books i've ever read and i need to curl up and cry for a really long time. It was so damned profound and so profoundly moving and it's going to take me a really long time to be able to formulate how much this books means to me so eventually I'll write a review when I pick up the pieces of my heart and figure out how to explain how a book can touch a soul. 
Oh gods.

Pacific Rim: The Official Movie Novelization

Pacific Rim: The Official Movie Novelization - Alex Irvine yeah. it's a movie novelisation so the writing is fair - there are a few typos, but you know that doesn't even matter. This is one of the greatest stories. so yeah. yeah.

Throne of Glass

Throne of Glass - Sarah J. Maas Oh god that was so good I want to die (full review to come)

The 5th Wave

The 5th Wave - (Review to come... Holy lord I didn't put that book down once after I started it)

Finnikin of the Rock

Finnikin of the Rock - Melina Marchetta Last summer I got this book from the library, read the prologue, and set it down in favour of something else. There was something about the prologue that didn’t catch my attention, but I figured I would give it another shot later, and after seeing good things about it on tumblr I gave it it’s second chance.Oy. After getting three chapters of proper nouns thrown at me without any context, I was already weary. We get kingdom name after kingdom name, language name after language name, with nothing to ground them on, no context to base them on, nothing to make them make any sense. The names themselves ranged from solid fantasy names to …. Wait are you serious that’s actually the name? After about five chapters I said to my mom, ‘this reads like someone’s first fantasy novel except they didn’t actually read any fantasy beforehand.’ I have a lot of problems with this book. The plot was fascinating, but not enough to outweigh all the things that made me groan in despair. Finnickin, the main character, was entitled, obnoxious, and impossible to care about. He had moments where i would actually like him! And then he would say something that would just make me sigh and not really care again. There was only one female character in the novel, Evanjalin, and she was great! (until the end when her only validation seemed to be around finding a husband yes I’m being serious). Finnickin’s father, Trevanion, was a character who baffled me because I think I was supposed to like him? But if he died I wouldn’t have batted an eyelash because he was so dull and unlikeable? He was Finnickin's father but Finnickin only ever referred to him by his first name and their relationship was... just odd. All of the characters were distant, and I like unlikeable main characters usually, but not these. The dialogue in this book was a nightmare. Every time someone spoke I would cringe through it (or get distracted and check tumblr because ‘yawn they’re talking again’). It was all very forced. It was like reading someone try really hard to write genuine fantasy dialogue except… they didn’t know how. I kept finding logic errors and things that didn’t make sense which... shouldn’t happen… There’s a moment in the beginning that will stick with me forever because I was so confused and bewildered when Evanjalin goes running after a thief and Finnickin throws the money in his hands onto the ground to chase after her. I don’t know about you, but if I was a refugee from a destroyed kingdom I probably would be tight for cash and couldn’t afford to throw it away to run after someone. Doesn’t he have pockets? I’M PRETTY SURE HE HAD POCKETS.But the problem is that things like this would happen all of the time. Or just simple sentences that made no sense would jar me out of the novel. (Another example, after Finnickin manages to reunite the King’s Guard that had been split up for years, there’s a line that says something on the lines of ‘and for the first time ever the men of the King’s Guard were going to separate’ and it’s like… no they’ve been separated for years???)I just spend the entire novel frustrated because the concept of the plot is great! An exiled people fighting for their kingdom that is under a black spell and currently being ruled by an impostor king. That’s cool! But… the writing was impossible to get through. Her small scale battles were good, I liked when there was action (and no one was talking), but when there was finally a large scale battle I suffered because it was all flash and there were no consequences. They came, they fought, the battle ended with wild out of the realm of possibility success and oh these few side characters you never even knew died isn’t that sad?Ultimately, when I finished, I read the author bio and found this gem: "About Finnikin of the Rock, her first fantasy novel, she says, “I was told often that I couldn’t write fantasy unless I had read all the greats and knew the conventions well, but I think the first step to writing good fantasy is knowing this world we live in well. I wanted to look closely at that world — where loss of faith, loss of homeland and identity, displacement of spirit, and breakdown of community are common — because these are the scenes in today’s media that affect me the most. In this sense, the book is a search for identity in the same way that my other novels are.”So, yes, the moral of this story, friend, is that if you want to write fantasy, you need to read fantasy. Because if you don’t, the people who read your book who DO read fantasy, will see straight through it.

Siege and Storm

Siege and Storm - I am going to try valiantly to maintain some form of coherency, but I can say right now I’ll probably fail equally as valiantly. So. Siege and Storm, guys. I don’t even know where to start. First off, if you haven’t read Shadow and Bone yet I plead with you to rectify that now. (I’d point you to my review of it but it’s the most incoherent mess of me crying over the keyboard… which is likely what this will become). Second books in trilogies always tend to have a bad stigma. Generally, it’s assumed that they’re the filler book. Personally, I see this happening less and less as the second books frequently are my favourite (but we’re not picking favourites here if you ask me which one I prefer I’ll probably burst into tears), like The Demon’s Covenant was my favourite of the three in TDL series by Sarah Rees Brennan… I had more examples but I started thinking about this book and lost them all… oh! Catching Fire is easily my preferred book in The Hunger Games trilogy. So, I don’t know if second books are necessarily becoming better, I just think that sometimes plot needs to happen in the second book and people grow bored of it. I’m simply speculating, regardless, I’m pretty sure my point in the matter was that this was a really good second book. Which is a blatant understatement but I’m trying to not weep over the keyboard so let’s see how long that lasts. Let’s talk about the tagline! (or not, I’m verging into melodrama mode here) I just… really love the tagline of this book. Not only because I’m all for “killing” villains and bringing them back *pointed cough* but… just the idea. It’s pleasant. *says the girl blatantly biased in her opinions here.* Honestly, if you have to ask who my favourite character is then kindly step outside and I can discuss villains with you for at least 3 weeks. We can talk about the Darkling. I’ll probably cry. So things happen! RIGHT AWAY! When the first five chapters of this book were pre-released, I got through chapter 3 (hehhhhh. I really like… I really like chapter 3. (yay! Threats!)) and promptly laid down on the floor and never made it through the next two chapters until the book was in my hands. In this book we see new characters (man, I side-eyed Sturmhond like the entire time because I was so sure there was something shady there but IDK MAN. IDK ANYMORE WITH ANYTHING.) who are brilliant. (I feel like I should apologise for my parenthetical digressions. Oops) Privateers make up most of the newer characters, and then a lot of the old characters return. Especially one in particular. (*strained. Slightly maniacal smile*) I liked the new characters and I liked seeing more of Ravka, though I thought it was an interesting narrative choice to send Alina back to the Small Palace, just in terms of the second book opening up the world more, I thought it worked really well because then older characters came back too. The entire ARC with Alina being considered a saint and the religious iconography oh my god don’t even look at me right now. So, basically, Russian orthodox influences in a fantasy novel I could weep my eyes out with how much I love that. Religious world building in fantasy is already one of my favourite things, throwing influences of Russian orthodoxy as well is just too much for me. Too much. I actually died last week while reading this book I am actually a ghost. I’m also intrigued with how that will play out because that’s the outstanding plotline that was left unfinished. I… I could talk about the romance and how I feel about how that’s handled… but I feel like that’s where I’ll descend into incoherency. So. Here goes nothing I guess. Mal irritates me the longer he’s alive. (I’m super biased guys so be gentle with me) I genuinely liked him in the first book and now I’m sick to death of hearing how perfect Alina thinks he is even if it is set against her own self deprecation (which is interesting. The whole Mal is good at everything while I’m not mindset is interesting to me). You know how there are characters that you don’t necessarily want to see them die but also you kind of want to see them die just to see what happens to the story? Yeah. Not enough Darkling. If we leave it at that I’ll save myself some embarrassment. (We’re not leaving it at that. I’ll come back to this.) Mostly I want to talk about Alina because this was waaaaay more her book than anything else. Like, the whole romantic aspects of the story took a far backseat to Alina’s development. And I have no words for how pleased I am with Alina’s power hungry development oh my god I want more morally grey YA protagonists she is sooooo far down the moral scale and I can’t even really begin to talk about how excited that makes me because uhhh favourite thing!!! There’s a scene in the beginning where all it is is essentially Alina lusting for more power and I just kind of slid off my chair while reading it while whispering ‘yes.’ I connect with Alina a lot more than any other YA protagonist ever because characters who have power and acknowledge how good that power feels and want more and characters who will acknowledge their own shifting personalities and yeah they may have made choices that are awful and they may make choices that on the relative scale of things are ‘bad’ but those were the choices that needed to be made and they’re going to make those choices regardless (I’m not explaining this well sometimes it’s hard when I feel so strongly about something idk man) are at the highest peak for me. They are the best. And there aren’t many of them. (god this is just getting longer and longer) Ok, the Darkling. I don’t even… Everything was grand. He’s still the greatest ever and I’m still super biased and I still think he and my own Torin would get along great. (no, they’d try to kill each other or something idk man I think S&B Darkling could take out Book 1 Torin, but I think S&S Darkling and … post book 1 Torin is a different story. I think about this all the time you have to understand.) goD THE DARKLING’S POWERS IN THIS BOOK I WANTED TO DIE. Because they’re so great. :3 I don’t want to talk about the end of the book. Please don’t make me. I’m still emotionally ravaged. It was perfect for four pages (give or take idk) and then I wanted to die. But oh god those four pages. Those. Four. Pages. Like I don’t even have closing thoughts except I’m gonna go cry a little now goodbye friends my ghost is continuing on to the other side. 

Return of the Sorceress (Dragonlance: The New Adventures, Vol. 4)

Return of the Sorceress - Tim Waggoner, Vinod Rams informal review to say that if there was a way to see what book i checked out of the library the most times as a kid this book would probably top the list.

The Raven Boys

The Raven Boys - (Review to come)

Unspoken (Lynburn Legacy Series #1)

Unspoken - Sarah Rees Brennan SO, I follow Sarah Rees Brennan on tumblr and I see a LOT of posts about this book breaking people’s hearts. And that’s how I’m starting this review because I want everyone to be as prepared as I was (hhaha. Just kidding.) I read this right after Black Spring which is amusing if you think about it because this is like a twist on a gothic novel and Black Spring was a dark fantasy twist on the ultimate gothic novel (Wuthering Heights blissful sigh) so apparently I was in a mood that week (or every week, I tell ya.) So, how about inverted tropes, y’all? (I’m not even southern I’m from Ohio don’t listen to me I’m writing these late at night). I love inverted tropes and I love what Brennan did with a bunch of the usual gothic novel ones here. Kami is a darling protagonist and the banter in the book is a+ as usual and everything is a delight. Another random happenstance that happened to me with this book was that the whole thing is centered around the fact that Kami has this ‘imaginary friend’ in her head that she talks to who is obviously real. Ok, now remember that book, Shadow Girl I reviewed a few weeks ago? Similar plot. Unspoken was executed in a much better manner (mostly because I didn’t call the plot twists a quarter of the way in…) and I’m not just saying that because I’m totally biased towards magic over clones. (But I AM totally biased about magic over clones). Now, ok, I admit in the scope of books by Sarah Rees Brennan, I prefer The Demon’s Lexicon (if you’re surprised, well, it was one of the 3 factors that nudged me to start writing Rosewater + Wine. So. Demons you know) and because TDL is pretty high up on my favourites list I couldn’t help but mentally compare them a little bit (I try to avoid that but I found I couldn’t help it here?) The main two guys are kind of similar two the main two of TDL - not the same but like archetypically similar? (I don’t think that’s a thing but we’re making it a thing here) in that one is drastically darker and more brooding. (This isn’t a bad thing, I actually really like it. It was just interesting that I couldn’t help but think of Nick when I was reading abut Jared). That said, those similarities didn’t exist with the girls (and all the girl characters were a delight! Angela was especially my favourite). What I loved loved loved was how Kami and Jared reacted when they realised that the other was real and not just their imaginary friend in their head. Because it was pretty realistic. You wouldn’t like it if this person you thought was probably not real all of the sudden was right in front of you, in fact, you’d be pretty darn freaked out - and that was their initial reaction which was great. (I also loved the ~*reason*~ for their imaginary friend link business but I suppose that’d be a spoiler so…) And then, of course, as I was nearing the end I stopped reading and was staring into the middle distance and my mom asked me what was wrong and I just said, “This is the first book in a Sarah Rees Brennan series. I know how this is going to end and it’s going to be ‘not good’ because that’s just how she does things.” (guess who was right: it was me.) If I said the ending was my favourite part I would not be lying. The ending was my favourite part OH, IT WAS BEAUTIFUL. I actually didn’t realise how much I crave disastrous endings, like, I LIVE for endings like this. The atmosphere with the town was spectacular. Kami’s sleuthing was great (and I’m usually not a fan of the journalist character at all so great job there because I genuinely liked her). All the characters were intriguing and ohhhhh the ending. I’m so excited for the next book really I am.

The Diviners

The Diviners - Libba Bray You know, I adored Libba Bray’s first historical fiction series, but was less impressed with her fiction work (though I admit Going Bovine was pretty grand) and within two paragraphs of this book I realised why. Her writing just shines better through historical fiction. This book was so grand. Like I like to think about it and it just makes me so happy because it’s a time period I love but I don’t actively read about a great deal. I’m so delighted with Evie because wow she does not make herself likeable and that is my favourite thing. (Have I made it clear yet that I adore unlikable protagonists because I doooo). After getting sent to New York for drinking too much (during the prohibition, mind) and being generally disruptive - does she change her ways at all? Well, not really.) I was a little bit worried that the slang would become overbearing (or seem fake) but it was so true to the time and integrated well that after a few pages I didn’t really notice it anymore. (Also it was pretty adorable). I really liked the general cast of characters and the rotating POVs. Memphis and Evie were probably my favourites of the narrators (though I do love Theta as well). I loved that Theta was the showgirl and Evie was the out of town girl trying to fit in and Memphis was the numbers runner from the other side of town. Jericho was less interesting to me but I think he’ll become moreso as the series progresses. The romance, too, was paced well and pretty much not too important in the scope of the book. (a+) But the plot and the magic. Oh lord. I’m so excited that this is a series because the plot within this book kind of encompasses itself except that the questions that have to do with the characters were unanswered. The whole book was so well paced. The amount of occult happenings and supernatural stuff and instances like going to speakeasies and such was a perfect balance. I loved that when it got dark it got dark fast. The whole thing was just atmospherically brilliant; from the occult museum Evie’s uncle runs to the speakeasy Memphis frequents. I also just saw The Great Gatsby so really the whole costume flash just reminded me of this book because it was so flashy and brilliant. More historical 1920s supernatural fiction please.

Black Spring

Black Spring - Alison Croggon I just want to take this book everywhere with me and love on it and write in the margins and love it as much as I’ve loved my copy of Wuthering Heights because it literally took everything I love with the story I love most and combined it all in splendour. So, first, forewarning, Wuthering Heights is one of the classics that everyone claims to have read but haven’t/or they read it once and hated it. (Protip, very few people like Wuthering Heights during their first read. It’s one of my favourite books ever and I didn’t like it until the second time through). Black Spring is very much like Wuthering Heights so if you’ve never read it or hated it (give it another go!) I would approach this with caution. I’ve been a fan of Croggon’s work since the Pellinor series (which I still fervently tout as being the closest thing to a YA Lord of the Rings in terms of scope and worldbuilding). So, when I found out about this book not only was I ecstatic, I also impatiently bought a UK copy because I didn’t want to wait for the US release date (which is in August, if you’re curious). I had some trepidation because Wuthering Heights! It’s so easy to ruin because it’s such a passionate story! But I was enamoured with the fantasy setting she was placing it against, and I trust Croggon’s worldbuilding (obviously), so I was hopeful in going into this story. And I was definitely not disappointed. The story has been crafted in about the same way as Wuthering Heights in that it begins with a narrator completely uninvolved in the story. Hammel is from the south and is travelling to the primitive forbidding northern lands to get away from it all. True to WH, he goes to visit the landowner of the house he’s renting and if you know WH, you know who he meets. (wink wink nudge nudge). Now, I am one of those people who adore all the characters in WH even though the majority who read WH can’t stand them and find them to all be whiny and selfish (and they are! Kind of. It’s part of what makes them so brilliant). The characters in Black Spring are all very true to the WH counterparts. This is a retelling at its finest. It retains the original story in spirit but has set it against a completely new backdrop (proving how transcendent the story itself is, I suppose.) This isn’t like a Deathless retelling in which the story is new but holds the essence of the old story, Black Spring follows the same narrative style and story as WH, it just gives a new tinge to it with its setting. Which, I personally think was the proper way to go about this, because WH is such a complicated story that changing too much would ruin it. She did cut Hindley and Hareton and the majority of the second generation plot. I, personally, don’t mind that because I care less about that plot (as do most WH readers… so it was a good decision). Black Spring is set in Elbasa, a harsh village in the northern lands where wizards and blood magic rule underneath the harsh vendetta. The vendetta is this cruel, dark, thing that’s happening outside the basic core of the plot. I don’t want to spoil how it works but there’s a lot of death and most of the village dies. And it’s a beautiful concept. Lina is a witch and should have been put to death because witches are not suffered to live in the north, but she’s also of the royal blood and thus escapes her fate. What I am so in love with (aside from the setting which is magnificent) is how Croggon used magic to explain and to further Lina’s wild spirit and mad nature. It was… kind of genius, actually because it gave it this twist that was just amazing. (I think it also makes Lina a bit more likeable than Cathy… but only a bit). Damek was perfect (yes, I am also one of those people who love Heathcliff without shame. So.), that’s… that’s all I have to say just that she handled all the characters so perfectly. The plot was a little scrunched up because Croggon chose to cut out the second generation, and I do wish that we could have seen more of the vendetta and the world building. However, this isn’t really a story for a vast amount of world building because it is so self contained and I recognise that. I appreciate the world building that did happen and I feel as if it was just enough for contain the story. The prose was gorgeous. It was a little bit purple, but it was true to the style of WH and Croggon’s background as a poet showed in the most beautiful of ways. I’m just in love with the words of this book and how she framed the dreary and blood soaked land in the picturesque ways that the moors of WH were framed. 5 stars without question. A stunning retelling of an often misunderstood classic.

The Mark of the Golden Dragon: Being an Account of the Further Adventures of Jacky Faber, Jewel of the East, Vexation of the West, and Pearl of the South China Sea

The Mark of the Golden Dragon: Being an Account of the Further Adventures of Jacky Faber, Jewel of the East, Vexation of the West, and Pearl of the South China Sea - This is without question the longest running series that I’ve consistently kept up with since I was about 14. And while a lot of the reviews seem to call for L.A. Meyer to wrap up the series I definitely think otherwise, they can keep coming, I adore every instalment in this series. Admittedly, this had a rough start for me. The Orientalist/White Saviour deal that was happening in the beginning of this book rubbed me the wrong way. The very beginning with the village in which Jacky comes in and saves the day!… I could have done without that because it was unnecessary. It moved past the more problematic elements, though, and even noted them. Jacky thinks on a few different occasions how ridiculous British folk are for wanting to rule everything and changing Chinese names to better sound English. I appreciated that nod to the mentality of the time and how it isn’t a correct way of perceiving the world. So, this book got a star knocked down for the white saviour bit at the beginning and dipping into problematic territory BEFORE approaching it the correct way. HOWEVER, the minute Jacky got out of the East, the story returned to what I love best about it. Jacky getting into trouble, making terrible choices, and being separated from Jaimy once again. The inclusion of one Lord Byron and a look into the higher society was what charmed me about this book. Jacky’s quest to find and rescue Jaimy who has gone mad since she went overboard - thinking her dead. That whole plot with Jaimy as a famous highway robber was delicious. A good bit, I do love how Meyer is able to put these two in the most ridiculous situations and pull them back out again. I’ve enjoyed watching the characters progress throughout the story. I loved that we got to hear more about Higgins’ life before Jacky and we saw old characters from Mississippi Jack. Jacky as a character is one I adore simply because she just knows herself so well and takes no shit from anyone. This was the first time she gets called out on her ways with men and it was interesting to see her reaction to it. She’s just an incredibly interesting character and I love watching her progress (because she really has, and that’s the beauty of the series. There’s been 9 books so far and she’s progressed marvellously through each one). I look forward to the next book because the way this one ended promised for some good adventures to come.


Bitterblue - A trend in fantasy series’ that I really enjoy is when each book is about a different character, but the characters from previous books appear or are involved in some way in the later books. Tamora Pierce does this very well and Kristin Cashore does it admirably as well. I was saying the other day that Kristin Cashore is one of my favourite YA High Fantasy writers currently writing today (as the genre is still… pretty small). (Also, as a side note, straight high fantasy. Other YA high fantasy writers that come to mind are Leigh Bardugo but the Russian tinge to her series puts it in a different category in my mind.) I admit it’s been a very long time since I read Graceling (due for a reread this summer!) so in the very beginning I struggled to tie the pieces together that connected Bitterblue to Graceling. As Bitterblue takes place eight years into the future, though, it wasn’t too difficult to figure out after I got farther into the book. This book delighted me for so many reasons. One was that it was highly political in that it centered on Bitterblue, a young queen who is struggling to put a broken kingdom back together after her father’s tyrannous reign. This kind of story is really really difficult to pull off from what I’ve encountered. To be able to go through the slightly more mundane elements of a queen’s life while still keeping it entertaining enough that it isn’t slow takes talent. And the book never was slow even for it’s 500+ pages. The cast was delightful even though I was on multiple occasions thankful for the character guide in the back (I was always getting Bitterblue’s four advisors mixed up.) I adored the role that Po and Katsa played in the novel. I love seeing main characters in other characters’ points of view. It actually made me love them even more than I did from reading Graceling. Bitterblue as a character was a marvel. She was a girl struggling with a dark past she couldn’t remember and a present in which information was hidden from her and secrets were being kept from her. Political intrigue and conspiracy theories abounded in this book as in addition to the mess that Bitterblue was going through, there was also an entire plot that dealt with Katsa and Po as they worked to depose the tyrannical kings of the seven kingdoms. I’ve seen Cashore’s books under fire before for the things that I, admittedly, love about them. Marriage is never at the forefront of any of the female protagonists minds (ever! Katsa is opposed to marriage bless her heart). It’s more of a personal quirk of mine but I appreciate a cast of three separate female protagonists (Katsa, Fire, and Bitterblue) who have romantic interests but don’t have marriage as the tie up at the end of the books. I love Cashore’s inclusion of gay and lesbian characters as well. (Raffin and Bann though bless their hearts too.) All in all I’m just so happy with this book. It was a take on high fantasy that isn’t done very often and it was done so well. It was woven with linguistic bits and ciphers and new Graces and countless other things that gave it added flavour. The conspiracy was handled so well and everything was paced so well. At times I actually wondered how it wasn’t dragging because the subject matter was such that in another book it would have had slow moments. I never felt bored, though, and the characters were all too delightful. I'm just so pleased with everything right now because of this book.

The Shadow Girl

The Shadow Girl - Jennifer Archer So, I won the ARC of this book through Goodreads First Reads giveaways and I was looking forward to reading it, it seemed interesting enough. And it was interesting! Until… about halfway through….It was frustrating, that was the only word I have for this book. Really frustrating. I guessed the plot twist a quarter of the way through: I looked to my roommate and said, “If she ends up being -----, I’m throwing my book out the window.” *reads 20 pages* “I’m throwing my book out the window.” So, there was no real twist at the end for me. What was the most frustrating thing, though, was the love triangle and just how bad it was. One half is the good friend Lilly grew up with, the other is the hot mysterious strange type. It’s predictable, it didn’t really resolve itself in a way that made any sense at all, and Lilly’s flip flopping drove me insane. Love triangles frustrate me already, this one just drove the plot to the background and took the foreground which was probably not good for the sake of the story. I found that I didn’t care about which boy Lilly chose because I didn’t care about either boy. I really only cared about the actual plot of the book with Iris, but even that ended up being predictable in the end. It’s unfortunate because the premise of this book seemed so good! But, once again, first person narrative made for a flat character and a love triangle bored me to tears. At least it didn’t take me very long to read.

Masque of the Red Death

Masque of the Red Death - Bethany Griffin I'm giving this more of a 3.5 stars range, but on the high end of 3.5. So, do with that what you will. Oh, YA dystopia, you strike again. Inspired by Poe’s work of the same name, I admit this was a dystopia that drew me in almost instantly. That said, it had it’s faults that YA dystopia almost always seem to have. It gets a pass, though, because though Araby had some qualities that made me cringe a bit, the fact that she was a drug addicted, suicidal teenager with survivor guilt won me over to her. She was way too trusting amidst the inherently distrusting world she was placed in; she followed what the two male characters told her to do way too often. Though I appreciated the way she got stuff done when it was needed to be done, I wished she had taken her own initiative at times. It felt like she was always just doing what Elliott or Will told her to do. That said, I’ll start with the iffy and move on to what I loved. We have the usual trap of a dystopia that isn’t fully explained. Now, granted, we got closer than in most dystopias, but I was hoping that the plague would have been explained a bit better, sometimes I felt like too much was being assumed. The Red Death as a second contagion seemed completely implausible. I understand that the second contagion was the more direct nod towards Poe’s tale, but it felt completely out of the blue and it also didn’t make sense (the first contagion had to do with sores and being contagious through the air; the second? People randomly fell down dead crying blood. It didn’t fully make sense…) The world she constructed in the aftermath of this destruction, though, I really really liked. Vaguely steampunk (just enough), and very bleak. The world building was good, it just needed more in way of backstory going further than just Araby’s childhood. Dystopia relies on backstory I don’t understand why authors tend to ignore it. Also this is YA so apparently that means there has to be a love triangle. Again, I both enjoyed and was irritated by this. Like, obviously I appreciated Elliott over Will as Elliott was the screwed up revolutionary who wasn’t very kind and just seemed to be using Araby (alas am I predictable in my tastes) whereas Will was the tattooed boy who worked in the club and had two young siblings to take care of back home. (A good boy/bad boy dynamic, really). The thing that irritated me about the love triangle was the fact that it existed and how blindly Araby followed the two boys around (granted, Elliott was within reason because the revolution was his plan; Will? Will just got cast in the ‘I want to protect you’ role that is insufferable). There was also no remote resolution so lord only knows how much messier the love triangle is going to become in the next book. The good things, though? I loved the concept of the masks being the only protection from the contagion and the way they all held on to them. I really liked how Araby’s relationship with her parents was portrayed - survivor guilt from Araby surviving and her twin brother, Finn, dying was hit on the head with this and I thought it was done pretty well. The theme of revolution from the Prince Prospero was one that I, of course, was fond of (I do love a good revolution plotline), and though Araby fell into some YA heroine traps, I really did enjoy her narration (which is saying a lot because it was a first person novel).So, worth a pick up. It didn’t take me long to read and the atmosphere alone makes it enjoyable enough for a read.