Book Review: The City of Brass

Book Review: The City of Brass

Rating: ★★★☆☆ (3/5)
* I received an ARC of this book from the publisher through NetGalley. This in no way affected my opinion of the book.

The City of Brass refers to the ancient city of Daevabad, a magical city that is split between six djinn tribes. Nahri, a young con woman, accidentally learns of this world after summoning a daeva warrior. And suddenly her skill to magically heal and deduce other’s medical issues makes almost sense. But now she’s on the run with a daeva warrior with a past that’s as cloudy as hers. The point of view switches between Nahri and a young djinn prince named Ali, who resides in Daevabad, and is training to serve his brother and future king.

I think I’ve found a series where I’m genuinely in the middle of how I feel about it. The City of Brass is very action-packed, literally filled to the brim with storytelling and history which was quite interesting to read. I have not yet found myself to love the central trio (Nahri, Dara and Ali) however they all seem to lose their initial spark when we first encounter them in the novel. I think maybe the sequel is where I’ll consolidate how I feel for them. I often say romance can make or break a story and with how jam-packed this novel was, the romance was sort of disappointing. I believe there wasn’t enough of a build-up to understand what they felt was there or just a spur of the moment.

The world building was the best part of the novel. Even though there’s so much of it and the plot doesn’t really shine as much as the world it’s set in does. It’s just so intricate and intensely detailed that it’s a shame it overpowers the actual plot. The cultural detail from the people to their clothes and customs. I imagined it all so well the sprawling city of Daevabad.

This book is very full on and more foundational than what felt like an actual moving plot. Most of this book is us being introduced to the vast world and its people, and I can see most readers being put off by this. I genuinely believe the final quarter of the book was the best. But judging from Goodreads, it looks like everyone was thrown off its exhaustive beginning and ends up DNF’ing the book before they experience the final excitement.

Overall, The City of Brass will be a huge hit or miss for loads of people. I don’t expect anyone to hold on the way I did. I read this during a large reading block (note to self: don’t read a 500-page book during a reading block) it took a while to churn through, but it was, in the end, gratifying with a conclusion that definitely hooks you onto the next book. I have a habit of enjoying the sequels more than the original text, so I do still have high hopes for the rest of series despite being let down a little here. But I definitely recommend this story of a young healer, a djinn with a dark past, and a prince who wants to do his city justice.


GOODREADS | THE BOOK DEPOSITORY | AUTHOR SITE
Trigger/Content Warnings: graphic violence, human trafficking, slavery, war, bigotry, torture and rape.

 

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Mini-review: The Unit & One of Us is Lying

Rating: ★★☆☆☆ (2/5)

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

Set in future where the elderly become dispensable (women at 50, men at 60) and are placed into the Reserve Bank Unit where they’re expected to live the rest of their lives. They’re fed well, clothed and have access to many social activities. In return for the comfortable lifestyle, they must partake in medical trials and donate their organs when needed until the final one. The longer you contribute, the longer you live.

The Unit is quite sad since it asks the question of what makes a person indispensable? Why does someone’s life mean less because it doesn’t conform to what’s required? And the government in this book tries to cover it up by treating the people who enter the Unit well. There are a few sweet moments as Dorrit makes new friends and finds a love she never had outside and despite the circumstances, they have a place where they finally fit.

The Unit is an interesting idea but there were so many plot holes and moments of ambiguity that brought down the story a lot.


Rating: ★★★☆☆ (3/5)

If One of Us is Lying was a tv show, everyone would’ve finished the entire series in a day. (Most likely would receive similar hype as Riverdale and 13RW) Five students enter detentions, but only four come out alive and become prime suspects for the death of the fifth person. Simon, the one who died, ran a blog that exposed everyone’s dirty secrets and had a secret for each suspect. McManus did a damn good job in this. Using very stereotypical aspects of a high school, she gave the characters more depth and substance than I had expected. McManus is very good at writing suspense and making the reader question everything. It’s sort of a mash up between The Breakfast Club, Gossip Girl and Pretty Little Liars.

But that’s all the good things I have to say about the series. The first half was thrilling and fun but towards the end it became so disappointing. Using someone’s sexuality and having them be outed against their will shouldn’t have been treated as a plot twist. Their sexuality shouldn’t be something shocking. Also, villainising mental illness was an instant no-no for me. (Trina @ Between Chapters has a more thorough review. There was another I had read but I’ll link once I find it again)

Content warning: a character being outed against their will, harmful rep of mental illness.

Book Review: The Blazing Star

Book Review: The Blazing Star

Rating: ★★★☆☆

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

After finding themselves stranded in Ancient Egypt with no way out, Portia, alongside her sister and freshman Selene must navigate their way to safety. But the trio discover their appearance is anything but random.

It took me a while to finish this book, due to my massive book slump during the exam period. Luckily, I did finish it in the end and I’m glad my lack of desire to read didn’t affect my opinion on this book massively. To start, the book’s introduction was incredibly difficult to get through. To be honest, I found it rather dull. At first, their introduction didn’t really hook me in. The character of Selene was a big question mark until you learn what her part is in the novel. At the beginning, the only thing kept me going was the fact Portia and Alex were twins. However, it started to changed once they actually made it to Egypt. Trust me when I say staying put with this book was worth it.

Being a twin, I’m always a bit biased towards twin books and Blazing Star follows the similar pattern most YA novels do. One twin struggles with her own identity while under the shadow of their overachieving sibling. But the location makes it different and interesting, we mainly watch Portia learn to accept herself but it lacks in the twin dynamic since they’re mainly apart for most of the novel. Since it’s very character driven, Portia grabs your attention as she evolves from an insecure person to a stronger and more self-assured character.

The book’s strength lies in its location, its description of the city, its people and culture. I particularly liked how everything is introduced into every interaction, you definitely feel Portia’s exasperation as we learn everything about Egypt as Portia does. I feel like there should’ve been more of a contrast between the language. They speak a lot in slang and feel like no one questions it as much as they should. It could’ve added greater tension between the two different groups. Sometimes the girls from the present speak in ways that didn’t seem fitting or wouldn’t have been understandable to someone from Ancient Egypt however, I brushed that off quite quickly since, maybe, writing wise, it’s easier.

The main problem with this book was its pacing. It was just so slow! It takes a while for the premise to finally kick in and towards the end, it truly delivers. It’s a shame that I can tell many people will be put off by this and will fail to see a truly decent book by the end. The ending ends on such a good cliffhanger, I definitely need the sequel since I know it will be better now that we’re past the introduction. I still enjoyed it despite its flaws, but I will anticipate anything Imani Josey will do with this series and any future novels she will write.

Overall, structurally and pace-wise, THE BLAZING STAR could’ve been better but definitely look into this if you love fantasy and time-travel. It was, towards the end, a truly fun and diverse read.


GOODREADS | AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | THE BOOK DEPOSITORY

Images and graphic are attributed to MediaLoot.com. Cover source: Goodreads.com

Book Review: You’re Welcome, Universe

Book Review: You’re Welcome, Universe

Rating: ★★★☆☆

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

When her supposed best friend snitches on her, Julia finds herself expelled and stuck in a mainstream school who aren’t kind to the only Deaf girl there. The only thing she takes with her is her paints and Julia tags wherever she can. But someone is adding to them and a graffiti war is the last thing she thought she’d find herself in.

The last book I read with Deaf characters was Soundless by Richelle Mead and just comparing these two you tell the difference of research that went into the portrayal of Deaf characters. YWU depicts Deaf culture; the way she texts, how ASL is, in fact, a language not an extension of English, the typical experiences a deaf student faces when in a majority hearing school. We’re shown her lifestyle and it’s not just a case of simply replacing said/says with signed. (I did have a review from a Deaf reader to put in here but the links I had are no longer available – will update when I find new ones)

Continue reading “Book Review: You’re Welcome, Universe”

Book Review: Written in the Stars

Book Review: Written in the Stars

Rating: ★★★ (3/5)

Written in the Stars is a familiar tale that goes unspoken. A story that is real life for thousands of women who find themselves facing it every day. Naila’s parents have always given her a choice, but when it came to marriage, it was simple: they will choose her husband. Naila’s already fallen in love, and when her parents find out, she is has whisked away to Pakistan under the pretence that they are visiting family. But the truth is darker, and Naila doesn’t have a say in the matter.

Written in the Stars was such an engaging and compelling read. From the very beginning to the very the end, everything goes high-speed for Naila and towards the end, you’re left thinking, will she make it?

Naila is a great protagonist. I loved her hopefulness, her love for Saif and her faith in believing she will make it back home. There are moments when you think there’s no going back for her, but she fights back. The writing style is simple, but it works here. It was straight and simple to the point, so we’re not distracted by everything that happens to Naila. We, as the reader, are aware of her marriage from the very beginning, but to Naila, she’s completely clueless, and the tension rose with ever clue that popped up, unknowingly to Naila. My favourite parts were descriptions of Pakistan and its culture. Its markets, food and the houses packed to the brim with visiting family.

However, it didn’t read entirely polished, with some scenes happening too quickly and the ending could’ve definitely been slowed down a bit, considering what happens. But, nonetheless, this is a good book.

Also, the author’s note was perfect. Saeed mentions that forced marriages can happen anywhere, regardless of culture, country or religion. And I believe Saeed even wrote an article between the distinction between an arranged marriage and a forced one that many people aren’t aware of.


GOODREADS | AMAZON | THE BOOK DEPOSITORY | BARNES & NOBLE

Book Review: Initiate

review_initiate

Rating: ★★★☆☆

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

Initiate is set in a world where humanity has retreated below the ice sheets of Antarctica as the land above is completely inhabitable. Riga Garrison is a mere member of this restricted society until she sees a whale. An animal once thought to be extinct. She begins to question the very institute that controls her life and realises that everything isn’t as it seems.

I think a tricky thing is with books with these hidden societies underground is that there’s so many of them. You’d have to sift through a lot to get to the ones you’ll truly enjoy. I’m not saying Initiate is a bad book. I actually quite liked this. The premise of this story reminds me of our current environmental situation, a bit of a cautionary tale, it would seem to us.

“We were the people who had polluted our own planet so much through our persistent, never-satiated greed that we had caused irreversible and extensive damage to our planet’s climate through global warming. We were the people who had allowed our own waste emissions to consume us, to poison the very air we breathed and the water we drank until we had to build bigger machines to purify the water needed by an out-of control world population hungry for an ever-increasing demand of clean water, energy, and fuel. We were the people who had had decades of research to warn us of environmental collapse, yet who ignored it in the noisy distraction of political bargaining..”

Initiate is quite inventive in the world it’s created in. While I thought it was very stereotypical at first, it had my interest, especially when Rigs encounters the whale which triggers off a reaction she could’ve never expected. She finds herself on the run and having to a make a life-changing decision which could change everything. She handles things quite maturely and her development was enjoyable.

Her love interest is … okay, I guess. While I never found myself swooning over them, they made sense to be together but I think it would’ve worked much better if they were already together before the start of the novel.

When the big plot twist and the secret is revealed about the world above I was very confused. I think it may be due to the fact I had a very different impression of how this book was going to go because it’s a complete 180 to what I had expected. And I think because of that, I’m quite intrigued with how this story will carry on.  Because I actually have no idea what to expect!

The biggest issue I had was pacing. I think the events happened quite quickly which meant there wasn’t much suspense, in my opinion. And there could’ve been better development of what the Initiate actually is because they didn’t really come across as threatening as they could’ve been.

Overall, as I said before, Initiate is imaginative and in a world which has captured my attention. Around 3/4 of the way, my interest did drop but the ending and the preview of Book Two have certainly made me want to keep track of this series.


GOODREADS | AMAZON | THE BOOK DEPOSITORY | BARNES & NOBLE