Book Review

Book Review: Throne of Glass

Throne of Glass
By Sarah J. Maas

My Edition:
Paperback, 404 pages
2012, Bloomsbury
ISBN: 9781408832332

Celaena Sardothien is the most badass assassin in all the land, though aside from her title of “Adarlan’s Assassin” we’re given little evidence of this. Young, achingly handsome Prince Dorian, with his piercing sapphire eyes, and his equally young and devastatingly handsome captain of the guard, Chaol, drag her from the depths of a salt mine where she’s been slaving away for a year. The King will hold a tourney, comprised mostly of criminals who he gives almost free reign of his castle to, in order to choose a champion to do his dirty work. Can Celaena eliminate her competition to regain her freedom, tactfully handle the oodles of compliments she receives from two sexy men, and pick which sexy man she’ll fall in love with, all while embarking on a side quest from an ancient ghost?

If you can’t already tell, I wasn’t a fan of this book (and I realize I’m in the minority on this), so if you don’t want to read my rant, here’s the short version: the characters were cardboard cutouts and walking clichés, the dialogue was clunky and full of our heroine and heroes constantly interrupting important conversations with thoughts of how attractive they find each other, and the plot had too many elements with no real focus. I feel like Maas wasted an opportunity to actually portray a badass young assassin and instead wrote a half-assed love triangle set inside a castle and called it a fantasy novel.

Here are a few highlights from my Twitter:

Started a YA novel. Page two and I’m hearing about how beautiful our heroine is 😧

YA adventures continue: page 6, a handsome youth appears! Page 8: another boy! This one “achingly handsome”!

Special snowflake eyes, glimmering golden hair, thin: our heroine is a strikingly lovely, highly skilled, totally average teen! Even when she’s so thin she’s skeletal, she’s still so beautiful!

Yes, I too, often remark mid conversation on someone’s looks when it’s not at all relevant to what I’m discussing.

Confirmed by our hero, our heroine is still beautiful even when sweaty! Thank gourd!

Our heroine is wild and has “impossible anger.” What even does that mean?

Hero B pauses his thoughts of important political intrigue to think about our beautiful, strong but secretly fragile, heroine.

Guest tweet by @redstarreviews: he ponders how her inner brokenness draws him to her while her rough sarcastic exterior confuses his emotions….

I struggled to gather my thoughts on this book. I know it is part of an incredibly popular series and while I don’t read YA as often as I used to, I do still enjoy the genre. Throne of Glass could have featured an intimidating, strong-willed female lead delivering some serious ass kickings. Instead we’re beaten about the head with Celaena’s title of “Adarlan’s Assassin” (re: the best in all the land at only eighteen) but aside from a few fleeting scenes, readers are never given any real taste of her skills or even her past. I at least wanted to know about who she’s killed in the past! Mass failed to impress me with her lead character, to make me feel invested in the story and to excite me.

The majority of the book follows the “tell, don’t show” format. We’re constantly told how beautiful the three young heroes of our love triangle are, what they’re wearing, and how attractive they find each other. Snore! While romance isn’t my genre of choice, if it had at least been well written, I would have considered this book to have some redeeming quality. But the characters lacked personality and their “relationships” lacked depth.

Celaena wavers between a petulant teen starved for the attention of the sexy men who are actually her captors and a tough girl who occasionally thinks of murdering people and escaping. She wants to be seen as a serious threat, but she also wants to be invited to royal parties and play dress up. She wants to hide in her room and read, but really she’s just lonely and wishing she had friends! None of her thoughts or actions solidified her personality for me. Dorian and Chaol are just pretty faces that waver between not trusting an assassin (as they shouldn’t, if she were actually a threat) and wanting to smooch her.

The dialogue is clunky and unrealistic. As I mentioned in some of my tweets, our characters often stop serious conversations to remark, mentally or aloud, about how attractive they find each other. Celaena also fails to exhibit her strong, independent personality with gems like this:

(A competitor tells her that he thought she’d have run off. Celaena “trembles with rage” and Chaol tells her to save it.)

“I’m going to kill him,” she breathed.

“No, you’re not. If you want to shut him up, then beat him. He’s just a brute from the king’s army – don’t waste your strength on hating him.”

She rolled her eyes. “Thank you so much for interfering on my behalf.”

“You don’t need me to rescue you.”

“It still would have been nice.”

Ok what!? Chaol says it lightly, but yes, she shouldn’t need rescuing. ALSO RESCUING FROM WHAT? Ahem – sorry. But seriously, her competitor did nothing but comment that he thought she’d have abandoned the competition. Its conversations and actions like that which stopped Celaena from being a convincing character.

The whole competition aspect of the story didn’t make sense either. I could see no reason why the king would have two dozen or so people competing for the position as lead assassin and allow them (many of whom were known criminals) free reign of his castle and attendance to royal parties. Because there were so many characters and so many weekly skill tests, most of them – characters and tests alike – are skimmed over, draining any tension from this story line and leaving Celaena a lot of down time (for parties and pining over cuties!)

On top of all this muck, there’s a side plot involving the ghosts of dead royalty, faeries, outlawed magic, and evil beasts. Maas spread herself too thin trying to tackle too many subjects and instead left them all feeling haphazard and unfinished.

If you read my whole review – I applaud you! I just had too many thoughts on this book and unfortunately, none of them were pleasant. I can say the cover art is gorgeous though – it’s certainly a beautiful looking series!

You can find Ms. Maas on the internet.

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Nostalgia Reads

Nostalgia Reads: Blood and Chocolate

nos·tal·gia [no-stal-juh] – noun:

A sentimental longing or wistful affection for the past, typically for a period or place with happy personal associations.

Blood and Chocolate by Annette Curtis Klause is a book I’ve been reading since middle school when I stumbled upon it in the teen section of my local library. I remember being pulled in first by the title, then by the alluring (and somewhat sexy) cover, and then finally hooked by the blurb – teen werewolves?! I’m in! I’ve always been more of a weregirl than a vampgirl. I loved the story when I was younger and I still love it today!

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Life of a Book Hoarder

Do You Read Outside Your Age?

I have a friend who has kickstarted her reading lately and she’s seeking out a lot of young adult books because they’re generally shorter and lighter (content wise) and she can blast through several this summer. This had me thinking about the book genres I enjoy, strictly in relation to the age of their target audience.

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Book Review

Book Review: In Real Life

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In Real Life
By Cory Doctorow
Illustrated by Jen Wang

Not My Edition:
Paperback, 175 pages
2014, First Second
ISBN: 9781596436589

Blurb from Amazon: Anda loves Coarsegold Online, the massively-multiplayer role playing game that she spends most of her free time on. It’s a place where she can be a leader, a fighter, a hero. It’s a place where she can meet people from all over the world, and make friends. Gaming is, for Anda, entirely a good thing. But things become a lot more complicated when Anda befriends a gold farmer — a poor Chinese kid whose avatar in the game illegally collects valuable objects and then sells them to players from developed countries with money to burn. This behavior is strictly against the rules in Coarsegold, but Anda soon comes to realize that questions of right and wrong are a lot less straightforward when a real person’s real livelihood is at stake. 

I spotted this book when I was trying to find a comfy spot to settle into at the library, and I just read it right then and there.

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Book Review

Book Review: American Born Chinese

American Born Chinese
By Gene Luen Yang

My Edition:
Paperback, 233 pages
2006, Square Fish
ISBN: 9780312384487

“Three very different characters. One simple goal: to fit in.” Jin moves with his family and attends a new middle school where he’s the only Chinese-American student. He makes a few friends along the way, but just wants to be the All-American boy so he can date his dream girl. Danny is the All-American boy who struggles to fit in once his overly-stereotyped Chinese cousin, Chin-kee, comes to visit. The Monkey King has worked hard to master the art of kung fu, only to be laughed out of a party by all the other gods because he’s a monkey. Each character must find a way to work with the others to fix what their lives have become. 

I was very impressed with Boxers & Saints, so when I saw American Born Chinese at a used bookstore (last night) for only $5.00, I couldn’t pass it up!

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Book Review

Book Review: Midnight Queen

Image from Penguin

The Midnight Queen
By Sylvia Izzo Hunter

My Edition:
ARC e-book, 432 pages (paperback)
2014, Ace Trade
ISBN: 9780425272459 (paperback)

I received this book for free from Penguin’s First to Read in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Blurb from Penguin: Gray’s deep talent for magick has won him a place at Merlin College. But when he accompanies four fellow students on a mysterious midnight errand that ends in disaster and death, he is sent away in disgrace—and without a trace of his power. He must spend the summer under the watchful eye of his domineering professor, Appius Callender, working in the gardens of Callender’s country estate and hoping to recover his abilities. And it is there, toiling away on a summer afternoon, that he meets the professor’s daughter.

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Book Review

Book Review: The Kill Order

The Kill Order
By James Dashner

My Edition:
Paperback, 343 pages
2012, Delacorte Press
ISBN: 9780385742894

The Kill Order is the prequel to the Maze Runner trilogy and it touches on the aftermath of the sun flares, and the beginning of the virus that became known as The Flare. Mark and Trina survived the deadly flares, but when their small community is attacked, a deadly virus breaks out and now the must survive that while searching for answers. 

What I liked:
This book is short and easy to read. Unfortunately, those are the only merits I found.

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Book Review

Book Review: Little Brother

Little Brother
By Cory Doctorow

My Edition:
Paperback, 380 pages
2008, Tor
ISBN: 9780765323118

Marcus and his three friends cut school early to play their favorite online/scavenger hunt game when the San Francisco Bay Bridge gets blown up in a terrorist attack. Caught in the wrong place at the wrong time, they’re picked up by the Department of Homeland Security and imprisoned for days. When Marcus is released under surveillance and warned never to speak of what he endured, the city is on lockdown and every citizen is treated as a potential threat. Bristling at the lack of their rights and freedoms, Marcus and other teenagers start an internet revolution to outsmart the technology of the DHS and take back their city. 

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Book Review

Book Review: Paper Towns

Paper Towns
By John Green

My edition:
Paperback, 305 pages
2008, Speak
ISBN: 9780142414934

3/5 stars

From the moment I read The Fault in Our Stars, I decided I loved John Green – at this point, I’m happy to read anything he’s written. Paper Towns is the third Green book I’ve read (Looking For Alaska is the other) and I’d say it’s third on my list of his books, thus far. I think that even had I read something else first, Fault would be my favorite, however, I still have three more of his books to read, so anything is possible!

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