Review: Crier’s War

Review: Crier’s War

Rating: ★★★☆☆ (3/5)

Years ago, the Kingdom of Rabu came under the control of the Automae after the war almost decimated the land. Now, humanity lives under their controlling and violent thumb. Ayla, a human servant, finds herself unexpectedly rising in her rank where she plots to kill the sovereign king’s daughter, Lady Crier. Crier is Made to be perfect, without a single flaw, ready to carry her father’s legacy. However, her recent betrothal sees her spot slipping right from under her, and meeting Ayla creates tension that can start a war, but can they rise above it and stop before it goes too far?

A couple of months ago, I saw the prettiest book cover reveal I had ever seen and, with no shame, decided that I had to read this book. When I took a look at the description and saw it was an F/F sci-fi/fantasy novel about automation? A double whammy. I had brought myself up to hype Crier’s War and counted down the says to its release. There’s a lot to love about Ayla and Crier’s story, much of it I loved, but I did find it a quite directionless a lot of time, which was disappointing, to say the least.

This isn’t an original set up but what made this story stand out was how Varela utilises the concept of automation ruling over humanity. Set in an alternate future where alchemy has crafted the Automae who now rule the land. Humanity created them when their Queen was unable to have children, but they quickly rose up against their creators. The core of this book is mainly about what it means to be human, is it free will or the fact we have blood running through us that makes us so? I found it interested how the author uses this story to discuss oppression, privilege and appropriation. Was I expecting it? No. Did I like it? Very much so.

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Page to Screen (YA Edition)

Page to Screen (YA Edition)

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature once hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, but has now moved to That Artsy Reader Girl! Each week, a new topic is put into place and bloggers share their top ten (or your own amount) accordingly.

This week’s topic is free week on Top Ten Tuesday so I decided to do Page to Screen. This was a recent topic but I had sadly missed out on it so when free week came back, I knew I had to do it!

I decided to do a YA edition because I can think of more films/TV. But, making this list made me realise how many YA adaptation actually existed. I can name a couple off the top of my head but when I checked this article by BookRiot, there are a lot more than I expected. Sometimes I don’t realise that certain movies are based off YA novel!

This list is rather random, and I’m not ranking anything best or worst but rather what do I think of if you had to ask me: What YA books have been adapted to TV/Movie? (Only including ones that I have read and watched, and not the ones I’m aware of)

Vampire Academy

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Vampire Academy is one of those adaptions where whoever was in charge of the movie seriously messed up. I’ve only read the first two books (I was very upset with a certain character death in book two and never managed to pick up the rest of the series 😂) This series had a lot of potential and I feel like a movie series could’ve really improved upon the work.

For me, I hated the way the film was marketed and the decision to focus on the comedy aspect. Making it an over the top teen comedy that wasn’t really funny dampened any kind of success it could’ve gotten. Which was a shame because I loved Zoey Deutch, Dominic Sherwood and Cameron Monaghan at the time.

The soundtrack was the best though, I discovered CHVRCHES through it and they’re one of my favourite artists now. (Maybe I’ll do a post about my favourite YA adaptation soundtracks 😂)

Darren Shan Saga

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No movie adaptation will upset me more than Cirque Du Freak (Darren Shan Sage). I absolutely loved this book series to pieces. Even my childhood love for Josh Hutcherson couldn’t save this series. And replacing Debbie with a random ass monkey girl called Rebecca had twelve-year -old me fuming. I will cry internally at the failure of this series forever.

The Hunger Games

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Along with Twilight, The Hunger Games franchise is one of the most defining series in YA adaptions. I don’t think need to explain its influence.

But I was definitely on THG train. I was mega obsessed with the series, and while it’s not a current favourite (since mine changes a lot) this series took up a lot of my life. And seeing Josh Hutcherson in another series I love had me jumping over the moon! I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned this already but yeah, it’s a little embarrassing looking back, but I don’t regret it.

THG is a good example of adapting a book well than its satisfying as a fan of the book and interesting enough to newcomers.

Divergent

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Oh, man. I loved Divergent (book) and the film was pretty satisfying. I think it did well to capitalise on the YA hype that THG built. The marketing for it was so cool and interactive. Unfortunately, I hated the rest of the series and it seems like the films didn’t do well after. I don’t remember seeing the second movie but I do remember being issues with the rest.

The Maze Runner

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Along with Divergent, TMR is another one that kicked off well but slowly lost its strength towards the end. I saw the first and second movie but I don’t remember anything about the rest of the franchise. I did love this series a lot and I was so excited to see it be adapted. But it didn’t work out and that will be a shame.

Morganville Vampires

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This was actually a web series. At the time, I thought this was the greatest thing ever. But then I realised I was seeing this through serious rose tinted glasses. I love the Morganville Vampires but the story was something that needed a better budget. While it isn’t terrible, but it is incredibly cheesy at some points. I like to rewatch it on prime sometimes because it gives me a chuckle and brings back some great memories. Also, I was a teen with no job when you were able to purchase the ID bracelet from the book. Still upset they don’t sell them anymore. 😭😭😭

The Mortal Instruments

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I’m not going to lie: I preferred the movie. Shocker, I know. I did enjoy the netflix series but I lost interest really easily. If the movie had a better script, maybe things could’ve been a little different. But I feel like it had a lot of potential because the casting was near perfect. (I wasn’t huge on Izzy but Lily Collins as Clary? Perfect.)

I don’t even like this series that much or even read books by Clare anymore but even I was disappointed. The hype for this was quite big I remember and the soundtrack was really good.

The Fault in Our Stars

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John Green books in generally really aren’t my cup of tea. As a teen, I forced myself to like them because all my friends loved his books and I was a desperate teenage who struggled to make friends so books were often my way in to friendship groups.

I have to say the film wasn’t bad. I think because it’s contemporary and doesn’t require FX like most YA adaptations, it was more faithful to the book because it didn’t have much restrictions.

Twilight

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I actually got into Twilight almost. I discovered the books at the same time as Morganville but I drifted to MV instead. (Never really liked the publishers constantly using that ONE quote on all the MV covers telling you to drop Twilight – it was quite rude, in my opinion) I think the films were alright, can’t say much because I wasn’t a super fan, but it was decent and enjoyable. If the script didn’t feel so cringey in the first one, I feel like it would’ve been received better.

Can say that “You named my daughter after the Loch Ness monster?!” is still one of the best scenes yet. 😂😂😂

The Miseducation of Cameron Post

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Cameron Post was left for dead by the YA community, and I wasn’t surprised. I feel like F/F novels get forgotten all the time. I know people kept putting this film up against Love, Simon which wasn’t fair because LS had bigger money behind it. I’m not saying one is more important than the other but I wish Cameron Post got a bigger buzz from people online. I was quite neutral about the book but the film was quiet but powerful.

What your favourite YA adaption? What’s on your TTT this week? Leave me a link or let me know in the comments


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Book Review: What If It’s Us

Book Review: What If It’s Us

Rating: ★★☆☆☆ (2/5)

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

A chance meeting has Arthur and Ben cross paths at a New York post office. When they fail to exchange details, both boys go in search of each other. Ben is suffering from a break up which causes him to lose his main friendship group. Arthur is an intern on a limited time frame. Once reunited, they face a ton of near misses and second third fourth chances. But the universe isn’t exactly always in their favour.

I feel I am yet to find a favourite within both Becky and Adam’s books so far. Both of them have a way of writing that doesn’t always work for me. I was hoping with What If It’s Us, it would be a significant mash-up of everything I liked from both authors.  Unfortunately, that’s not the case. I liked What If It’s Us, I enjoyed reading it, but in the end, it just wasn’t for me. This book didn’t show the qualities that I had appreciated from previous novels.

I  feel a bit guilty for speaking so negatively later on in the review, but there’s still a lot to love in this book. The side character, including Ben’s best friend, really bought the book together and made it little funnier to read. The diverse cast of characters Arthur is gay and Jewish with ADHD while Ben is gay and Puerto Rican. I enjoy the little conversations about Ben and how painful it is for him and to have his culture erased because he’s white passing. There’s an intense moment where Arthur says something that crossed a line and Ben rightfully calls him out on it. It’s a bit strange and confusing to describe, but I loved many aspects of this book, the concept, the story, I just wasn’t a huge fan of how it was all executed.

I really did not like Arthur or Ben. In my opinion, Ben was more likeable than Arthur. But I really could not click with either of these two. The biggest critique I have to give is predictability. Knowing what’s going to happen can go, either way, you either anticipate the ending you’ve guessed or found yourself reading at a sluggish pace. While Ben and Arthur have charming moments which I loved, there was no real plot. A couple of things happen, but the rest of it just falls really flat. The initial meeting was sweet and fun, and you expect more to come off from it, but it immediately goes downhill as the authors kind of force the relationship to happen. Given the timeframe the book is set in, Arthur is due to return home at the end of the summer, little really happens, and I was left a little disappointed. Once they’ve met, it mostly constant pining from them, Arthur over Ben and Ben over his breakup.

They do eventually come together and actually reach the point where they’re actually enjoyable to read as a couple. I was disappointed that it doesn’t last as long as you’d think. I get everyone hates the ending, but it was the saving point for me. It was quite open, and I understand why everyone would feel frustrated, but it’s a better ending. 

I usually have no issues with current day pop references in novels, no matter how outdated it’ll read in the future. But what on earth was happening? I stopped reading for a bit because every sentence was Hamilton, Hamilton, Hamilton. Another popular musical. And then another reference. This does not include a very adorable scene where Arthur and Ben sing along to musicals. My stone cold heartfelt warmth for a moment. But I did feel like the references were simply over saturated.

Overall, What If It’s Us is not exactly a disaster read — and I think despite with my low rating, it has its shining moments. Too slow, and not enough was happening. The in-jokes and references became too much. It just didn’t work for me. I won’t cross off both authors from TBR because of it, I appreciate the stories they write, but this book wasn’t the one for me.


Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

Content warning: homophobia, mentions of a panic attack, racist comments. (more to be added)

Review: The Sun Is Also a Star

Review: The Sun Is Also a Star

Rating: ★★★☆☆ (3/5)

Natasha has 24 hours to save her family from being deported to Jamaica. Daniel has 12 hours to decide whether he really wants to follow through with his Korean parent’s life plan for him. Moments after moments leads to the two meeting on a crowded New York street and the moments after show how they go on to change each other’s lives.

TSIAAS is one of those books where I’m genuinely in the middle. Like I didn’t enjoy it, but I didn’t absolutely love it. I feel like there’s a bit of switch here for me. In Everything, Everything, I really enjoyed the beginning of the novel but found it’s ending was a bit disappointing but in TSIAAS, I found the beginning rather dull but it quickly picks up and finished quite well.

I’ll start off with the good. And there’s plenty of that in this book. It’s quite a touching read. I was more heavily invested in each character’s side story than their romance. Natasha and her rush to save her family and Daniel’s clash with his love for poetry and his parent’s approval. Natasha is logical while Daniel is a dreamer. It really is beautifully written. There are even inserts of other perspectives who intersect with the main lead, which would’ve been a distraction if I actually enjoyed the romance, but they enhanced the story, in my opinion, and added to the message of how everything impacts everything. Despite Natasha and Daniel being at odds with each other and their immigrant families, they find a connection which allows them to indeed be truthful to themselves.

The immigration aspect of this novel was what shined the most. It covers and explains how flawed the system that can be to those who are the least danger to it. Natasha’s whole life is being torn down because she’s forced to leave because of her father’s mistake.

What really put me off this book for so long was the romance. Of course, it was going to pull off an insta-love plotline when Natasha and Daniel only have twelve hours together. If you’re a reader that enjoys whirlwind and fast-paced romantic stories, then I have the book for you. But I just didn’t buy it. But I did appreciate the ending a lot, and I was actually really pleased with how it ended. Daniel, while a dreamer and sweetheart at his best, is literally quit obsessed with Natasha from the second he sees her. Their meeting and beginning scenes felt very off and borderline creepy.

Overall, there is clear praise for this book, and I can’t deny it of that. I just don’t think it was a strong enough book regarding its romance. But there’s a lot that I can’t deny that was great. TSIAAS discusses race in regards to the American Dream and the impact of parent-child relationships. The way Nicola Yoon jumps into different bystander’s voices without affecting the main plot brilliantly done and how we are all connected in some way or another.


GOODREADS | AMAZON | BOOK DEPOSITORY

Review: American Panda

Review: American Panda

Rating: ★★★★★ (5/5)

At seventeen, Mei is a freshman at MIT and on the road to complete her parent’s dreams for her: become a doctor, marry their preapproved suitor and continue their family line with children. Living in fear of being disowned like her older brother, Mei can’t seem to bring herself to tell her family her real dream lies with dance. Now she’s away from home and falling in love and learning the truth that could possibly shatter her future forever.

I’m not going to lie, I was surprised by how much I loved this book. I was genuinely thrown off by how much I ended up liking this. The narrative was so compelling as we watch Mei struggle with her overbearing parents and how cultural differences clash with what she wants to achieve – I really enjoyed the emphasis on the issue not being with cultural differences but how her parents use it to put their happiness over Mei’s. Even though Mei as a character and myself are worlds apart, I found her journey so relatable and it had me in tears at so many moments.

Honestly, Mei’s development was one of the best parts of this entire novel. We watch her try to struggle between being a good daughter while also wanting to follow her dreams and you get caught up very quickly in her emotions. She starts off as a sheltered kid who does her best to keep up with her parent’s expectation to slowly learning that it’s okay to not be the perfect image she’s expected to upkeep. And she slowly learns to get rid of the initial stereotypes she holds over other. Chao does an excellent job of portraying the drama between her and her family, which was so heartbreaking to read. Mei’s mother took a long time to grow on her, but you honestly develop a sense of appreciation for her, especially towards the end of the book and how the very same family issues and cultural values that affect Mei has had an impact on her.

The background characters all have my heart. And I loved how Mei’s personal development with all of them ended so happily. Especially with Darren and Nicolette.

Overall, Chao’s debut novel is a hit for me. It was such an emotional rollercoaster and a profoundly personal read that I recommend to anyone.


GOODREADS |BOOK DEPOSITORY | AUTHOR SITE

Content warning: ableist language, fat-antagonism, the death of a family member and mentions of suicide. (If you’ve read the book and felt like I’ve missed something out, please tell me!)

Review: When Dimple Met Rishi

Review: When Dimple Met Rishi

Rating: ★★★☆☆ (3/5)

[I found this review hidden in the pits of my drafts, how it managed to stay hidden is beyond me 😂]

Promised to each other by their parents, Dimple and Rishi finally meet at a programming course. Only, Dimple has no idea that she’s being set up while Rishi thinks he’s meeting his future wife.

I would say I was severely disappointed by When Dimple Met Rishi. I really wished the plot made sense. If it were just a little bit clearer, it would’ve improved this story so well. Dimple and Rishi both enter this programming course but the lack of them is doing what they came for is odd. The story is supposed to follow their romance, but I wished it was a bit more consistent in its background. Like there’s an app contest which later leads to a talent show which leads to even more confusion.

I think I’ve come to the decision that I liked these characters separately, but not together, they’re a damn mess that really doesn’t work well.

Dimple was a very irritating main lead. Just because the lines “Not like other girls” wasn’t used, doesn’t mean that wasn’t there. Dimple literally never fails to mention how different she is to other girls because she’s into STEM subjects and how she’s not like those art girls. I wished this book celebrated girls in STEM without throwing girls who don’t go into those subjects under the bus. Dimple is constantly putting down loads of the “mean girls” in this book, which is literally almost all the remaining girls in the book. Most of the time I really enjoyed her character, mainly because she’s ambitious and career-motivated, but the amount of girl hate indeed clashed for me, personally, about her character.

I feel bad for Rishi, he’s trying the most to be on his best behaviour and to get Dimple to fall in love with him. It was a bit creepy at first, and I didn’t enjoy the fact he ends up having to put up a lot with her behaviour. Especially in one scene, there’s an annoying invasion of Rishi’s privacy that’s immediately brushed away in the plot.

Overall, I would say When Dimple Met Rishi was a sweet read, despite my shortcomings about it. A fun, culturally diverse read but I wouldn’t really rush to recommend it.


GOODREADS | THE BOOK DEPOSITORY | AUTHOR SITE