Review: The Darkest Minds

Review: The Darkest Minds

Rating: ★★★☆☆ (3/5)

A sickness spreads across the United States, killing a majority of its children and leaving its survivors with something uncontrollable that has the government shaking in fear. Swiftly taken from their parents, children are quickly taken away and placed in rehabilitation camps. Ruby was ten when she learnt that suppressing her skill keeps her alive. Six years later, Ruby escapes and on the run to find others like her.

The Darkest Minds has such a captivating concept. It’s a shame that it is so painfully slow. I’ll give applause to Chubs and Suzume who technically saved this book for me. The two that stood out the most for me. Without them, I wouldn’t even question my decision to not finish this series.

There’s a lot of confusion, especially when it came to worldbuilding. They gain these powers and are then categorised according to how much of a threat they are. Maybe the reason why these powers happen are revealed later down the line in the series, but there’s not much to keep you hanging but just completely confused. How a world is seemingly wiped out but still existing in some places like normal despite having locked up a majority of its youth population.

What even was the point of the romance in this? Honestly, I give most romances the benefit of the doubt but like how did Ruby and Liam even happen. She spends most of her time ignoring him, which is fair enough, but then suddenly with no warning, they’re all over each other. I just don’t think enough space was given to develop these two the way they deserved.

The narrative is an actual snail pace after Ruby escapes the first camp. There are multiple flashbacks. And even when it’s at a point where it should speed up, it’s just chapter after chapter of them on the least exciting road trip in the world. There’s a couple of car chases scenes to give us the illusion that something is happening.

There is a lot of good to this book, it wasn’t exactly terrible, I think the pacing just dragged this book to hell for me. I don’t understand how a book with a lot of plot aspects that I usually enjoy disappoint me like this.

I’m sort of in the middle of this series right now. TDM didn’t really do much for to compel me to want to continue its series. The ending was a bit of disappointment considering it chucks Ruby straight back to where she was 15% of the novel. But there’s a lot to like, a bit and pieces of it was really intriguing to me. The variety of powers and the shocking treatment these children receive. The found family aspect was a sweet shining moment in the rest of the dullness. I’ll sit on it, for now, maybe I’ll be interested later down the line to finish the series.


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Content warning: Violence, sexual assault, murder, gun violence, physical violence, PTSD, unchallenged ableist language.

 

Review: The Book of M

Review: The Book of M

Rating: ★★★☆☆

* I received a copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley.  This in no way affected my opinion of the book.

A future where a global epidemic is spreading and causing the world’s population to lose their shadows and later their memories. Husband and wife duo Ory and Max have managed to hide from the brunt of the disasters. That is until Max loses her shadow. Armed with just a tape recorder to document her memories, Max leaves their abandoned hotel. And Ory sets out on a dangerous journey to reunite with his wife. The chapters alternate between the two and two others, another survivor and another person known as “The One Who Gathers.”

The Book of M is a messy read, and I mean that in a good way. A story where each chapter ends with another hundred questions to ask. We follow Ory and Max survive in different circumstances. Max is running anywhere Ory can’t find her and then goes in search with a group of people for a cure for her memory loss. Ory, in search of Max, ends up in various dangerous circumstances where he finally interacts with the world that he, up until now, had ignored under the safety of his area. He meets the good, the bad, makes new friends and finds old ones.

The Book of M was a strangely riveting read. The writing is vivid which compliments and adds the foreboding world building. The story starts with the world in an unknown position, and as the book switches between the four different perspectives, the world comes back to together, providing different views on a world almost forgotten. It read like a puzzle, one that slowly meshed together and once it did, it was an absolutely fantastic book to finish.

Overall, while I did have some issues with the pacing, especially towards the middle of the book, The Book of M was still an engaging and imaginative read.


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Content warning: blood, death, violence, the use of the “bury your gays” trope. I know I’m missing quite a bit but if you’ve read the book, please tell me if I’ve missed something out.

Review: Honor Among Thieves

Review: Honor Among Thieves

Rating: ★★★☆☆ (3/5)

After getting into trouble, Zara Cole is surprising recruited into the Honors, a space program in which humans are carefully selected by a mysterious alien race who are formed like ships to explore the universe above and beyond humanity has ever gone. Zara takes the only chance that could save her life, but questions soon arise out of her presence on the elite program. And she quickly learns that space holds darker secrets than the ones back on earth.

I feel like this story grew on me. It took a while but certainly towards the end, it was much more enjoyable and exciting. There’s quite a lot of action as we watch Zara adapt to life in space and experience working with others. She’s used to watching her every step, not trusting the few she knows, now she’s trapped in space, relying on the help of her alien companion, Nadim, and human partner, Bea. I won’t say much about the central relation…ship. I’m not sure what is the best way to describe it, but it is very intense. These three has such a fantastic dynamic and were really engaging to watch them get to know each other. Bea is such an interesting secondary lead that I absolutely loved.

The cover and book description appeared to be a little different than what I actually read. It came across as having a Hunger Games vibe, especially in the beginnings, with how Zara is plucked from the ragtag areas of her city and propelled to Honor stardom felt like Katniss entering the Capitol.

Despite the slow start, there’s a lot of action in this series, and for the first in the series, I would say I’m interested in seeing how it will all play through. The world (or space) the authors have built is quite intriguing and appealing to read about. There’s a lot of questions I have to ask, but the ending definitely had me hooked. I think 3 stars suits the best for how  I feel about the book at the moment but I do believe this series has the potential to thrive in future books.


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Content warning: child abuse, violence, mass murder. (If you’ve read the series and felt like I’ve missed something out, please tell me!)

Review: The Gauntlet

Review: The Gauntlet

Rating: ★★★★★ (5/5)

Barely adjusting to her new home in the Upper East Side, Bangladeshi-American kid Farah finds herself sucked into the game of The Gauntlet of Blood and Sand after her younger brother, Ahmad, vanishes into the game. Alongside her friends, she must complete three challenges and failure to win will trap them- and Ahmad- forever.

I’ve been anticipating this book since Salaam Reads was first announced. And I can definitely confirm that this book was so worth the wait.

I really, really enjoyed the world building and game design. The way the story is mapped out is really brilliant. I hope to, maybe, see a graphic novel of this series somewhere down the line because of the Middle Eastern and South Asian influences Raizi had made a very dazzling and creative world. The way the world moves in pieces like a game was so pretty to imagine.

Farah is pretty headstrong and a loveable lead who is very aware of her own weaknesses. She’s constantly struggled with her want to ditch the challenge in search of her brother versus her need to navigate her and her friends out of the game. And she works alongside her friends to complete each challenge. Their friendship is very cute and they work well together, recognising each other’s strengths and weaknesses. They’re all very intuitive and logical in situations that would have me in tears. (ahah)

I think the only downside was the lack of characterisation for Essie and Alex. Farah’s character comes out really strongly and the other two do come across as being more archetypes rather than their own persons. Also, its cultural aspects were so adorable and great to read. While the world seems almost alien to her friends, Essie and Alex, Farah finds familiarity in it and so did I. I wished this book existed when I was a kid.

Overall, it’s a solid fantasy debut in an exciting game world. At its heart, a story of family and friendship, making it a great for any young readers.


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Review: Warcross

Review: Warcross

Rating: ★★★★★ (5/5)

Warcross has taken the world by storm. Millions log in every day, millions are made every day from it. And Emika Chen has hacked her way in. Now its creator, Hideo Tanaka, wants to hire her, a teenage hacker, to undercover its biggest security issue.

Warcross is seriously one of the best books I’ve read this year. I can’t believe how much I loved this book. It’s so thrilling and engaging that I was so shocked how well this book suited my reading taste. (Seriously, if anyone knows any other books like this, throw them my way.) I loved everything about this.

The world its set in is so annoying amazing that I’m mad we don’t, as humanity, have not reached the kind of technology there is in Warcross. Warcross is, in simple terms, a VR game where the player is literally immersed into their environment. The sky’s the limit basically in this game. And like we have Smash Bros tournaments, there are competitions where the best players are pitted against each other in the ultimate gaming tournament. It’s so brilliant to read how the game worked, which connected users worldwide and made VR practically actual reality. The workings of the game were so much fun!

I have to admit the plot twist in this book was very predictable. I picked it up quite early who it was that was hacking into the Warcross system, but I have to admit I was completely thrown off by the other half of the reveal as well. I’m just glad I read the book now when its sequel, Wildcard, is closer to being released.

Just from this one book alone, I now understand the hype around Marie Lu’s books. If my TBR list weren’t so jam-packed, I would’ve read everything else she has written in a heartbeat straight after reading Warcross. Her cast of characters here are so amazing and brilliant, and I quickly grew to love in like seconds. They’re all so different but work so well together. I can’t tell you how great they are. I think Hideo may be the only character that still hasn’t grown as me, especially as the love interest. His role out of that was so engrossing, and I absolutely loved him. I’m a picky romance reader even in a book I loved like this, it just didn’t get to me. Like the development between them was sweet but, again, not for me.

Overall, there were certain elements, such as game design, to its world that left questions and some moments of predictability but nonetheless, I enjoyed it a lot. Like damn, I’m more upset that this is the first Marie Lu book I’ve read. What have I been missing out?


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Series Review: Shatter Me

Series Review: Shatter Me

I was initially going to write separate reviews for each book in the Shatter Me series. But I decided that it was going to work much better as one post about the series. I should note that this is only a series review (so far) because I had this planned before Restore Me came but didn’t get time to read it until Restore Me came out. I should warn that this post is spoiler heavy and if you haven’t read it yet and want to read it without spoilers, ignore this.

Judging from the more popular reviews of this series, everyone hated the stylistic choice, but I think it was one of the better parts of the novel. Especially, since I read the series one after the other, it makes sense, and I enjoyed reading the development of Juliette’s journey through this.

Shatter Me

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Juliette hasn’t touched anyone in exactly 264 days.

The last time she did, it was an accident, but The Reestablishment locked her up for murder. No one knows why Juliette’s touch is fatal. As long as she doesn’t hurt anyone else, no one really cares.
The Reestablishment said their way was the only way to fix things, so they threw Juliette in a cell. Now so many people are dead that the survivors are whispering war – and The Reestablishment has changed its mind. Maybe Juliette is more than a tortured soul stuffed into a poisonous body. Maybe she’s exactly what they need right now.

Shatter Me, in my opinion, is the worst book of the series. If hadn’t borrowed the entire series from the library already, I would’ve dropped the set the second I finished the last page. But I follow Tahereh Mafi on social media, and I really enjoy her personality so I kind of held onto this series, hoping I would somewhat enjoy these books. This is very much a romance novel with a hint of dystopia. Like as if the story forgets it’s in a dystopian setting where the world is falling apart and picks itself up every now and then.

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