Tag Archives: Young Adult

Obsidio by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

Overview

Title: Obsidio
Author: Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff
Series: The Illuminae Files #3
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Science fiction, Space, Young adult
Pace: Fast
Format: Novel
Year: 2018

Thoughts

Holy wow. This is a FANTASTIC ending to a seriously amazing series. I’m honestly seriously disappointed that this is over and still kind of in shock. But it was totally worth it. Definitely one of those series that I’m going to read again and again and recommend to all my friends and family and total strangers on the street…

I really wasn’t expecting a few things in this – particularly the ending with AIDAN. I’m still really confused about my emotions towards him (it?) I mean, some seriously disgusting and horrible choices. But also some really good moments. I’m not used to feeling so conflicted about my emotions towards a character. And even if AIDAN is a machine, it’s (he’s) still a pretty phenomenal character throughout the series.

I love that throughout Obsidio it actually shows how the Illuminae Files came to be and how they were compiled. It’s a great way for you to look back (particularly at the video transcripts). And I like the idea of rereading this series with that context in mind. It also tied out the different romances in a way that made you smile with happiness. Not going to lie, there were a few of these moments that bought a tear to my eye.

Although Asha and Rhys aren’t necessarily my favourite couple from the series, they’re still pretty cute. I probably just didn’t connect as much to them because they get the least time on the page. But, they still work, particularly for the little surprising twists and turns that they take throughout.

At its heart the Illuminae Files are based around a mass genocide. I love that of all the books, it’s Obsidio that shows the casualties of war. Not those on either side of the conflict. But all of the innocent lives that are lost for no damn good reason. It was probably this that truly bought those tears to my eyes and a soaring to my heart. Truly an amazing finish to an amazing series.

<- GeminaMore Jay Kristoff ->

Image source: Goodreads

Gemina by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

Overview

Title: Gemina
Author: Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff
Series: The Illuminae Files #2
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Science fiction, Space, Young adult
Pace: Fast
Format: Novel
Year: 2016

Thoughts

Its been way too long since I read Illuminae. I know this because, from the very first moment of opening this book, I was completely hooked. Which makes me wonder why it took me so damn long to pick up this book now I can’t wait to get into Obsidio and see how this phenomenal trilogy will end.

Hanna is such an awesome female lead. I mean, a 17-year-old girl who is a master of war strategy? Heck yes! That, and the fact that she is a realistic teenager. She’s filled with angst and insecurities. That first blossom of love and the reliance on a parent. Don’t get me wrong, pretty much all of this is ripped away from her very quickly in this book. But she’s not a teenager who somehow has everything together – that’s a trope that just feels unrealistic.

Then there’s Nik. I have a bit of a thing for bad boys and the morally grey. He is just adorable and I’m honestly in love with him from pretty much the very beginning. Nik and his cousin are that perfect level of chaotic good, again, something that I tend to love in my characters. Ella in particular is just wonderful. I love how she is constantly ribbing Nik and there were many moments throughout that had me laughing out loud.

Not only is Gemina a fantastic story, one that was impossible to put down and forget about. But just also love how it is written. I love how you piece together the tale from dossiers. Different pieces of information, that, as with Illuminae tell a wonderful story for a space battle. But also have a few misleading moments in it that set up many conspiracies. Now I can’t wait to find out how the rest of the tale unfolds…

<- IlluminaeObsidio ->

Image source: Amie Kaufman

Memento by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

Overview

Title: Memento
Author: Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff
Series: The Illuminae Files #0.5
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Science fiction, Space, Young adult
Pace: Fast
Format: eBook, Novella
Year: 2020

Thoughts

I read the first book in The Illuminae Files a while ago, and then I got distracted from continuing with the series. Which, as I’m figuring out now was a fair bit of a mistake. So, shortly after reading Gemina, I blitzed through Memento. And it was understandably fantastic, as all these books are.

Whilst Aidan is a little chilling in Illuminae, I didn’t quite feel that holy crap, evil being thing from him. Maybe because there is a lot of humour in all of the dossiers provided by this. That ambivalent feeling was completely removed by this novella.

I was kind of heartbroken by this to be honest, I really loved Ethan and Olivia. And their romance was just too damn cute for words. There is something great about how Kaufman and Kristoff are able to write in the romance to the main story. And the realism of HOW people gush over instant messaging… be still my beating heart.

<- More Amie KaufmanIlluminae ->

Image source: Simon & Schuster

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

Overview

Title: The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer
Author: Michelle Hodkin
Series: Mara Dyer #1
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Mystery, Paranormal fantasy, Young adult
Pace: Medium
Format: Novel
Year: 2011

Thoughts

I’ve been trying to get through a few of the young adult books in my ever growing TBR pile at the moment. The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer being one such novel. And, honestly, I was kind of expecting it to be fairly typical. Love triangle, hidden importance, overlooked girl that is actually beautiful and gorgeous. And it was that a little bit… but it also completely deviated from that form. By starting the tale with and then they were all dead…

I did take me a little longer to connect to Mara than some of the books I’ve been reading lately. Mostly because she wasn’t all that relatable for me. Normally if the lead isn’t super relatable, I don’t connect with her. But there was something about Mara’s love of family and determination to be a better person that made me genuinely like her. And now I want to find out what happens next in her story.

Where Mara managed to break the mould a little with her characterisation in young adult books, Noah was WSY too typical. Popular boy who notices the girl. Rich. Gorgeous. Knows the secret and isn’t as douche as he seems… I think I kind of want a male lead in a young adult book that ISN’T Mr. Popular… having said that, he’s not overbearingly stereotypical. Just not anything really unique…

The part that made me seriously love this novel was that final scene. The imagery that is so potent throughout just took my breathe away. It was well and truly terrifying. Dark. Twisted. And an amazing cliffhanger. I can’t wait to see where the character develops from here…

<- More Michelle HodkinThe Evolution of Mara Dyer ->

Image source: Simon & Schuster Australia

With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo

Overview

Title: With the Fire on High
Author: Elizabeth Acevedo
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Contemporary, Food, Young adult
Pace: Medium
Format: eBook, Novel
Year: 2019

Thoughts

I’ve had a book by Acevedo on my shelf for a while, and although I’ve heard positives, I’ve never actually sunk my teeth into it. And believe me, the hype for Acevedo’s writing is well worth it. This was just so, so, so damn good. Although this book wasn’t one that I would consider to be high drama, it was still impossible to out down. There was something about the flow and story that made you want to know what was going to happen next, even without any cliffhangers.

I can’t imagine what it must be like to be a teenage mum. It’s hard enough to be a mother as a fully (I think) grown adult, but being a teenage mum? I can’t even fathom. Acevedo dealt with this idea beautifully, she highlighted the intensity of love and protectiveness that is motherhood. But also the insecurities and difficulties that a teenager goes through all on her own. Even without the same experiences, there was so much relatable about motherhood that Acevedo imparts.

Alongside the focus on motherhood, I loved how Emoni grows and changes throughout this story. It was the most perfect coming of age tale that I’ve read in a very long time. There were no massive trials and horrors to overcome, but the normal, everyday occurrences of being a teenager. Those feelings of finding yourself, deciding what you want to do with your future and falling in love for the first time. Yet, there’s a great sense of maturity over the whole tale. I’m not sure of that’s the race discussion, the teenage mother, whatever it was. I’m definitely completely in love with Emoni.

To top off the amazing story, the loveable characters and the beauty of spirit, there was a whole heap of yummy, yummy food throughout. Aside from the few recipes scattered throughout (recipes which I really want to try), there are so many delicious mentions of food. Or combinations of flavours. It definitely got my creative culinary juices flowing.

<- The Poet XMore Elizabeth Acevedo ->

Image source: Goodreads

Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire

Overview

Title: Every Heart a Doorway
Author: Seanan McGuire
Series: Wayward Children #1
Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect)
My Bookshelves: FaeFantasy, Mystery, Young adult
Pace: Fast
Format: eBook, Novel
Year: 2016

Thoughts

This story was absolutely nothing like what I was expecting. It was kind of dark and twisty, without all of the feel good that I’ve been reading a bit much of in some of my young adult books. Plus, this was actually and truly about misfits. There are way too many YA stories which feature a “misfit” who is actually seriously cool. These kids aren’t. For that, I love them.

I’m always diving into tales of the fae. Tales that are a little bit uncomfortable and sweep you away to some incredibly unexpected places. What I loved about this is that a whole variety of alternate lands are featured. There’s not one doorway to go through, but a whole range. A different land for a different kind of person to fit in. It was nice that each of the characters in this story found their own lands to fit into. Their own places to experience a happily ever after.

This is a great reminder that we all fear death. And fear makes people do stupid things. Nancy may have come from a land of the Dead. But that doesn’t mean she causes death, or even desires it. I love how she is immediately looked upon with suspicion amongst people who know, themselves, what it is like to be a misfit. It’s a reminder that human nature tends to ostracise others, regardless of how we may have been ostracised ourselves. Particularly in instances when there is a whole heap of fear running rampant.

I was completely not expecting the ending of this story. It had such a wonderful Frankenstein, Dracula, Wuthering Heights feel. I might kind of hate Wuthering Heights, but I loved the other two, so it was a good feeling. A good feeling in a bad way…

<- More Seanan McGuireDown Among the Sticks and Bones ->

Image source: Kobo

Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan

Overview

Title: Wicked Saints
Author: Emily A. Duncan
Series: Something Dark and Holy #1
Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect)
My Bookshelves: Dark fantasy, Gothic, Magic, Young adult
Pace: Fast
Format: Novel
Year: 2019

Thoughts

I started trying to read this book last year at some point. And I remember liking it, but not really getting into it. Picking it up again… I’m REALLY not sure why I couldn’t get into it. I mean, this book is fantastic. I honestly couldn’t put it down. Again, not entirely sure what it was that made me put this aside last year. Because WOW.

To start off with, I loved the twist at the end of this. It was horrifying, and you thought that there might be something horrible. And then the horrible thing happens and you were just… gobsmacked. I mean, what a damn betrayal! And what a way to make me thirst for the next book in the series… like seriously, and desperately thirst for it. I just can’t even believe the power that this book holds over you, long after you turn that final page. Even now, when I’m finally getting to sit down and write a review of it… I’m still completely enthralled and gobsmacked.

I’ve read a lot of stories which are based on historical Europe, but not Slavic Europe. It did take me a little to get my head around the character names. And I am 100% certain that the way I say them in my head is completely incorrect. Which is fine, because no one else is inside my head. Partner that with the holy war that is going on… and although there was a slight sense of familiarity due to the European aspect to it, this felt like a whole new world. One that I seriously can’t wait to get back to… I mean, it is dark and twisted. And, for someone who is a little freaked out by anything with religious connotations, impossible to not want to dive straight back into.

Duncan’s world building is insane and intense. She is able to construct a world that you can’t turn away from. And although a lot is revealed in this novel, there is a lot more to the world and the conspiracies than is imparted in one novel. Which, again, is what makes me want to dive into Ruthless Gods so badly. I mean, the world building and the politics are phenomenal. And even with the betrayal that I didn’t see coming, there is a whole slew of other aspects to this storyline that need answers. Relationships that may become more and more complex…

<- More Emily A. DuncanRuthless Gods ->

Image source: Goodreads

One Boy, No Water by Lehua Parker

Overview

Title: One Boy, No Water
Author: Lehua Parker
Series: Nihui Shark Saga #1
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Fantasy, Mythology, Young adult
Pace: Medium
Format: eBook, Novel
Year: 2012

Thoughts

I really loved the island-life feel. It had this breezy, relaxed, surfer kind of vibe, that felt kind of familiar to my surfy cousins. There was such a lovely, breezy feeling to this story and I most definitely want to revisit this world. Aside from the vibe in this story, I loved that there was a lot of cultural information and aspects to the story that made me more and more fascinated by the Hawaiian life.

Then there was the fantastic language used throughout. Not just the language and tone of the story, but also the island slang throughout. Each chapter starts with the meaning of one piece of slang. Then, there’s bits and pieces that you have to put together yourself. I love this pidgeon form of English and Hawaiian that is used throughout. It may actually be the aspect of this story that I love the most – learning new slang that I will probably never use.

I loved how although this story is very much around a mythology and fantasy and powers, at it’s heart it is a coming of age story. One where a boy discovers who he is and that, like all of us, he has his own powers. It’s been a while since I’ve so thoroughly enjoyed a coming of age story. So it was nice to read this one. And, as I previously mentioned, definitely a world and journey that I will return to.

Zader is an incredibly fun lead. He is obviously kind of awkward and a fish out of water. Which, I always connect best to these types of characters – I’ve always felt like a bit of a fish out of water myself. I enjoyed how as his story unfolds, a bit more of his background and the secrets of his past. It made it incredibly difficult to put down this fantastic book.

<- More Lehua ParkerOne Shark, No Swim ->

Image source: Booktopia

These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong

Overview

Title: These Violent Delights
Author: Chloe Gong
Series: These Violent Delights #1
Rating Out of 5: 3 (On the fence about this one)
My Bookshelves: Historical fiction, Mystery, Retellings, Young adult
Pace: Slow
Format: Novel
Year: 2020

Thoughts

I need to start this review by saying that I really, really don’t like Romeo and Juliet. I mean, other than Wuthering Heights, it may be one of my least favourite stories. They’re just so…. irritating. Which means that the fact that this is a retelling of that story put this on the backfoot to begin with. Not to say that I didn’t enjoy it, but I wasn’t mad about it like so many other stories I’ve been reading lately.

Although I couldn’t quite fall in love with the characters in this. I DID love the world building. And the story line. And pretty much everything other than Roma and Juliette. And the romance aspect. I’m just not a huge fan of the whole crossed lovers storyline. And the betrayal and such…

I would love to read more flappers stories. And the fact that this one is set in Shanghai just makes it all that much more intriguing and unique. I mean, the 20s aren’t an era that I’ve read much of… let alone the 20s in Shanghai and all of the politics that occurred there. Mix in teo rival gang heirs and the paranormal element… it was a pretty good sell.

Although I loved like 90% of this book, I found it incredibly hard to connect to the characters. And I do tend to find if I can’t connect to the characters, then I don’t hugely care what happens in the end. Which, ultimately is why I feel like this is a try again kind of book.

<- More Chloe GongOur Violent Ends ->

Image source: Goodreads

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

Overview

Title: The Secret Garden
Author: Frances Hodgson Burnett
Series: Word Cloud Classics
Rating Out of 5: 3 (On the fence about this one)
My Bookshelves: Classics, Young adult
Pace: Slow
Format: Novel
Year: 1911

Thoughts

I did enjoy this story, but I also didn’t really find it much of a story. Most tales that I really get stuck into have a beginning, middle and end. Sometimes this isn’t so distinct, but it is still there. I didn’t really feel like there was anything other than a beginning here. Burnett manages to introduce Mary and all of her flaws beautifully. She is an incredibly dislikeable character. But, after her introduction, it’s possible to feel sympathetic to the reasons behind her characterisation. However, other than that, it was not much of a story.

Alright, the development of Mary’s character, and the friendships that she makes are definitely a good storyline and development. But I always expect more of an external trial and obstacle. In fact, I thought there would be many barriers to the children getting into the secret garden and helping it grow. Instead, they find the secret garden, find friendship and then miraculously heal all of the wounds of the past.

I did enjoy this classic, but I also don’t think I’ll quickly dig into it again. It was a bit of a story line that I felt needed a whole lot more. And one that was just too simple. Maybe a better book to read as a young child than an adult…

<- Bulfinch’s MythologyTarzan of the Apes ->

Image source: Abebooks