Book Reviews: Year End Wrap-Up!

How has your reading year been?  2016 has been a year of firsts for me – in terms of books, I’m really glad I tried genres I don’t usually pick up! Picture books, graphic novels, historical fiction, books on books and writing!!

It’s been awhile since my last wrap up, but when you intern at a publishing house, and go from reading on average, 4 books a month to 4 manuscripts a week… you don’t really want to pick up a book after work, ya feel me?

SO these were my reads from… uhhh… the last wrap up month to December!

 

DOROTHY MUST DIE

Dorothy Must Die (Dorothy Must Die, #1)

Danielle Paige | Published April 1st 2014 | HarperCollins | 452 pages | my rating: 2 tornadoes

I haven’t read very many retellings… unfortunately for me, this one did not live up to its hype. Good world-building, very visual, but there were moments for further emotional growth and character exploration which were left untouched (WHAT A WASTE), and whatever was done was too fleeting. Basically, I felt shortchanged.

The romance was unconvincing. Why must it be, that every YA partner in crime ever (okay fine, THE MAJORITY) / the two leads of the story must eventually fall in love? Why can’t they just develop a solid, beautiful friendship, and overcome whatever obstacles together, as FRIENDS??

And while the story was understandably plot driven, it came off as predictable. Honestly, only the last few chapters grabbed my interest, but by then, it wasn’t enough for me to pick up the sequel.

I think a huge factor of my lack of investment in this novel was the writing style. There were excessive sentences to reiterate the protagonist’s next course of action that were unnecessary, because it was already obvious to the reader. Dorothy seems too one dimensional a villain for me, but maybe there’s more than what we’ve been shown so far, but I doubt I’ll be sticking around to find out.

 

A COURT OF THORNS AND ROSES 

A Court of Thorns and Roses (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #1)

Sarah J. Maas | Published May 5th 2015 | Bloomsbury | 416 pages | 3 faeries

I really wanted to love this, but like Throne of Glass, I didn’t. WHICH REALLY SUCKS BECAUSE SHE SIGNED IT IN PERSON!! (warning: what follows may be more a rant)

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The author’s descriptive writing is solid. In particular, I felt that the action sequences were very well drawn out and memorable. To me, this is where Sarah J. Maas stands out in this genre of writing.

Unfortunately, similarly to TOG, the main qualm I had was with the characters and relationship dynamics. The relationships in ACOTAR – some were just so twisted and too lust driven (?) and honestly, the developing “attraction” between our heroine and Rhysand was not believable, though I wouldn’t go as far to suggest slight Stockholm syndrome. However, it does seem like he would be the second male lead/ potential love interest contender in the sequel (at least that was the direction the novel seemed to suggest their relationship was heading in).

Also, even if the rationale behind Rhys’ actions seemed rather “bad boy template” thus far, his extremity with our hostage/slave/prisoner protagonist was not justifiable and honestly, an uncomfortable read.

And the queen antagonist – I mean, are all rich and powerful evil people also lame?? The whole ” I COULD KILL YOU RIGHT NOW BUT FIRST pass these tests!! it’s fun to play with you weak humans!! much entertainment for the court!!” really undermines or prevents the reader from taking her seriously/ as a worthy opponent.

Some plot points were clichéd, if not predictable, including the riddle (come on, it wasn’t THAT hard to guess… right?) and the trials (though I must admit, the second half is when the novel really picked up. The worm bit reminded me of the infernal devices hahaha).

I didn’t find myself caring for Tamlin very much (in fact, Lucien is more endearing – or are most, if not all sidekicks endearing?) but did think Nesta was an interesting side character as the story progressed. Another strength of Ms Maas : her secondary characters can be quite colourful and impressionable. Hopefully we’ll see more of her sisters in the next book (though I don’t think I’ll be picking up the sequel anytime soon / may not continue the series like TOG)?

ELEANOR & PARK

Eleanor & Park

Rainbow Rowell | Published February 26th 2013| St. Martin’s Press | 328 pages | 3 mix tapes

AArRrrRGHHh  I love Rainbow’s books so much (I’ve read Attachments & Fangirl before this one) so the fact that I can’t squeal and gush about this is really quite disappointing ):
I did appreciate how Eleanor’s family story unfolded and there were some cute scenes but the basis of this story leaves so much untapped potential?? From the stereotypical portrayals, necessary suspension of disbelief (or is cultural disparity accountable for me being not quite sold on how liberal adults handle runaway crises?) to the sidelining of secondary characters… there were a handful of scenes which could have made this a more enjoyable read for me.
Perhaps it was the point of view in which their story was written, or maybe I’m just less inclined to agree with YA characters nowadays? The latter is something I’ve noticed in my reading recently, which had me thinking a lot about “outgrowing YA” and the related videos on booktube.

A rough breakdown of my thoughts whilst reading this:

  • Aaawww Paaaarrrk
  • What the shit is Ritchie’s problem (IS THAT EVEN HIS/ ELEANOR’S STEP DAD’S NAME I READ THIS SO LONG AGO)
  • Her mum needs to get her senses together why can’t she see how toxic this relationship is??
  • Eleanor, you are not helping yourself
  • Why are you kids so immature tho

 

LANDLINE

Landline

Rainbow Rowell | Published July 7th 2015 | St. Martin’s Griffin | 320 pages | 4 time travelling phones

Yep, it’s Rowell. Landline reminded me just why I enjoy her writing, and why she remains one of the queens of contemporary novels.

Maybe it has something to do with the fact that this wasn’t YA, or it’s really just the characters in this one that kept me turning the page. So colourful and well thought out and true to themselves and so real.

The relationships were just so great and intricate; it’s clear Rowell knew these characters like the back of her hand. So much heart, family and humour in this one. And the dialogue – nobody does it like Rowell. Fantastic Christmas read!
I wish I could add another book (THE JOY LUCK CLUB by AMY TAN ) to this wrap-up, but I couldn’t finish it in time! Started this post in the last 2 hours of 2016 aaaandd it’s now past 1am (fireworks are beautiful distractions) so HAPPY NEW YEAR!! I HOPE YOU HAVE A GREAT YEAR AHEAD AND AN EVEN BETTER READING YEAR!!!
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