High Fantasy

Review: Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson

MISTBORN by Brandon Sanderson, reviewed at JalynEly.com
Image from Delicious Reads

Title: Mistborn (Mistborn #1)

Author: Brandon Sanderson

Genre: High Fantasy

Back cover:

For a thousand years, the world has been a wasteland of ash and mist ruled by the immortal Lord Ruler.  Every revolt against his cruel reign has failed.  But hope survives – and he bears the scars of the inescapable Pits.  A new kind of uprising being planned, this one built abound the ultimate caper, one that depends on the cunning of a brilliant criminal mastermind…and the determination of a street urchin who must learn to harness the power of a Mistborn.

Review:

I read Mistborn three years ago, and my final verdict was “it’s a really good book, but I’m not interested in sequels.” But Brandon Sanderson is my boyfriend’s favorite author and Mistborn is his favorite series, so he’s been “encouraging” me to finish the series for as long as we’ve been dating. And since I found myself with a lot of spare time to read during a family road trip, I figured I might as well reread the whole series.

Vin is skaa (basically peasant/slave), using her supernatural Luck to survive as part of a thief band in the brutal slums of Luthadel. She grew up with the promise that everyone would abandon her eventually, and spent her life perfecting the art of being unnoticeable. So when the story starts, she’s independent, smart, courageous, and very distrustful. Her character development is great, though, and as she slowly makes friends, she slowly becomes a better and better character to read about.

Kelsier, survivor of the Pits and orchestrater of rebellions, was awesome. Mainly because he was nuts. Sometimes he made me laugh from the sheer insanity of his audacious stunts. But his devil-may-care attitude contrasted with his intense devotion to the people he cared about, and his careless audacity hides a sad past. He is quite possibly my favorite fantasy character ever.

This review is going to be really long anyway, so I’m not going to mention any other characters. But all of them were great. Even the ones that seemed minor turned out to be important in some way. And they all have unique and different personalities.

As far as plot goes, it actually had a classic “hero’s journey” plot. To shamelessly paraphrase a fabulous Goodreads review:

[Kid with weird name] is only a [unimportant social standing], but suddenly discovers they [have weird and/or cool power or calling]. They are the only one who can [epic world-changing quest]. Luckily, even though they are totally new at this, they quickly become better than anyone else at [weird power or skill].

That’s not to say the plot wasn’t good, though. There’s a reason that plot is a classic – it works! Especially with Sanderson writing it. Watching Vin go from skaa thief to Mistborn and join Kelsier’s quest to overthrow the Lord Ruler was quite enjoyable (especially with Kelsier’s crazy antics), and I enjoyed watching Vin learn and grow. But quite honestly, the main reason this (I hate to say it, but somewhat uncreative) plot works is because of three things: Kelsier’s practically insane plans, the world, and the magic.

(Side note: The first time I read Mistborn, I complained that Vin spent too much time going to balls. I had no such complaints this time around – I thought it was a good balance. Although that could be because the balls were where the faint hint of romance happened, and I’ve become much more accepting of romance subplots as I’ve gotten older.)

The magic and world were FANTASTIC. Admittedly, I’ve only read five of Sanderson’s many works, but he is awesome at creating magic systems and building worlds. The whole world in this story, from the glittering balls of the nobility to the filthy slums to a landscape so bleak the idea of green plants seems strange, is brilliantly imagined and vividly described without including a lot of description. And the magic of Allomancy – metals-based and full of limitations, with powers ranging from amazing to almost useless-seeming – is amazingly original. If it sounds like I’m being vague, I am, because watching all the pieces fall into place for the first time is so much fun.

I actually liked this book more the second time around. The awesome magic and world were incredibly detailed, which I loved, but with something as unique as Mistborn, it’s easy to get lost. Even by the time I finished it the first time, I had a hard time keeping things straight. Rereading it three years later actually made it better, because I had forgotten enough that it was fun to discover again, but I remembered enough that I wasn’t totally lost and I could pick up on the nuances I missed the first time.

One thing I feel is important to mention – this is an adult book, but it’s not an adult book. It’s remarkably clean for adult high fantasy and even the word choices read more like young adult. (Plus Vin is only 16, so that certainly gives it a more YA feel.)

Mistborn was good the first time, but it was even better as a reread, mostly because I understood all the wonderful complexities better. This time, I actually am interested in reading the rest of the series – and not just because my boyfriend says I should. I would love to spend another book with these characters (but mostly that world…).

The Mistborn series:

  1. Mistborn (sometimes subtitled “The Final Empire”)
  2. The Well of Ascension
  3. The Hero of Ages

The Wax and Wayne Mistborn series:
(a companion series with Mistborn magic in the early 1900s)

  1. The Alloy of Law
  2. Shadows of Self (October 6, 2015)
  3. The Bands of Mourning (January 2016)
  4. The Lost Metal (tentative title)
New Adult, Science Fiction

Review: The Never Hero by T. Ellery Hodges

THE NEVER HERO by T. Ellery Hodges reviewed at JalynEly.com
Image from T. Ellery Hodges

Title: The Never Hero (Chronicles of Jonathan Tibbs #1)

Author: T. Ellery Hodges

Genre: Science Fiction

Format: Ebook

Back Cover:

When Jonathan Tibbs awoke in a pool of his own blood, there wasn’t a scratch on him to explain why. In the days that followed, a violent and merciless otherworldly enemy came from nowhere. It killed in the streets, all the while calling out for its challenger, but only Jonathan understood the trespasser’s words. That was the night he discovered he had been drafted into an ongoing conflict, a war outside the grasp of mankind’s memory. Now, the man Jonathan had seen himself becoming is not the man who can endure his future.

The first installment in this mind-bending action adventure series, The Never Hero is a gritty and honest look at the psychological journey of a man forced to forge himself into a weapon. Abandoned with little guidance, and finding himself at the mercy of a bargain struck far beyond his reach, Jonathan races to unlock the means to surmount the odds. All the while, fighting to understand the mystery behind a war between two species, raging outside of time and memory.

Confronted with the knowledge that, should he die, no one will ever know he was all that once stood between mankind and the enemy; Jonathan must decide who he is willing to become to save a planet that can never know of his sacrifice.

Review:

The whole concept of The Never Hero intrigued me – a mysterious attack quickly followed by a monster, a war nobody knows is happening, and of course, the classic “only the main character can do anything about it.” It was too good to pass up.

Jonathan was an interesting character. An average college student victim of a really, really weird attack and suddenly required to fight for his life at random intervals with no explanation as to why. A surprisingly large amount of the story was him dealing with his emotions – fear, frustration, anger, and other not-so-nice stuff. He got progressively darker as the story went on. And while I can’t say I particularly liked him as a person, I really enjoyed reading about him as a character.

There was a surprisingly large cast of secondary characters, too – Jonathan’s three roommates, Collin, Hayden, and Paige; Paige’s boyfriend; his new neighbor and her brother; Heyer, Jonathan’s mentor-ish figure who knows about the monster attacks; and many more. At some points it was hard to keep track of the really minor ones, but the more important ones all had distinct personalities and made for a good group of characters.

There’s so many plots all weaving together that I don’t even know where to begin. There’s the whole thing with the monsters (what they’re doing there and why), which doesn’t hardly get touched on until the end. Then there’s Jonathan’s emotional struggles, which were surprisingly deep and brilliant in many places; his struggles with relating to people post-attack, both his roommates and the pretty girl next door; his attempts to balance a normal-seeming life with the dangerous parts; and even several chapters of people who are working against him (some of whom even surprised me). This book did an amazing job of weaving so many things together into one great and complicated story.

I had two main problems with this book. One was punctuation – The Never Hero really needed a good copy editor. The other was length. In the middle, the story covered Jonathan’s training and his struggle with his emotions repetitively with nothing new happening, and it really dragged on a little too much.

While it’s not a perfect book (but honestly, what book is?), The Never Hero was even better than I expected – a well-executed brilliant concept woven into a tapestry of plots and characters that made for a fantastic read.

The Chronicles of Jonathan Tibbs

  1. The Never Hero

Report Card

For more on my grading system, check out this page.

THE NEVER HERO scored a 3.2 (A0-) and a final verdict of "read"

Disclaimer: I received a free review copy of The Never Hero in exchange for a review. This generosity in no way influenced, or sought to influence, this review.

Paranormal

Review: The Hobbymen by Tim Owens

THE HOBBYMEN by Tim Owens
Image from Tim Owens; used by permission

Title: The Hobbymen

Author: Tim Owens

Genre: Paranormal

Format: Paperback

Back Cover:

Sister Liliana has not been having the best of days. Between running away from the convent and then being thrown into a desolate prison, she has started to lose hope of having a fun Wednesday. That is until she meets two strange men with a rather peculiar hobby: Amateur Monster Biology. From ancient monsters to urban legends, Geoff and Book are out to separate truth from fairytale, no matter how bizarre or ridiculous that truth may be. And as they have found, there is truth in everything.

Soon Liliana is caught in a whirlwind of adventure as they show her a side of the world she never thought existed, filled with fantastic creatures hiding in plain sight. But just as it seems her life is finally turning around, the group get a foreboding message from an unexpected, sinister source. Are the three of them in over their heads this time?

Yes…the answer is yes.

Review:

This is one of those books where I can’t put my finger on exactly why I picked it up. Maybe because it sounded like a unique concept, or maybe it just sounded a little off-the-wall and fun. Either way, when the offer landed in my inbox, I said yes.

And when I got the book, Tim Owens had doodled inside the front cover:

100_1347Which was really cute and thoughtful and just made me that much more excited to read it.

The characters were fun. There was Liliana, the failed nun with an interesting past; the research-obsessed, bookish Book; and the hyper-optimistic, gregarious Geoff. At first, the characters seemed like they were going to be pretty flat – but as the book continued, there was a pleasantly surprising amount of development and back story.

The mythology was a little wonky. I expected a combination of mythology from different lore, considering the finiding-the-truths-behind-legends research of the Hobbymen. What I didn’t expect was the biblical stuff. (I think the idea of behemoth  from Job 40:15-24 was wrong, but that’s my personal interpretation.) I thought the idea of the evil deities/forces of other religions being Satan by different names was an interesting concept – and perhaps not wrong. Anyway, that’s definitely something worth further consideration.

The basic plot was pretty much laid out for you on the back cover. But there were so many other little things. A huge part of it is Liliana trying to come to terms with her past. And another is goofy Geoff and serious Book’s relationship. And another is Liliana trying to get used to the Hobbymen’s everyday craziness. Despite the deadly threat hanging over their heads, the entire book was just … fun.

This was clearly a self-published book – the formatting was a little wonky and it was in need of a good copy editor. The missing commas drove me crazy. But they weren’t extremely glaring errors, and it only detracted a little from my enjoyment of the book.

The Hobbymen had its faults (the poor-punctuation-hating part of me wished it had been copy edited better and a few of the jokes fell a little flat), but it also had a lot of things going for it. It was lighthearted and fun, had surprisingly great characters, and was even thought-provoking in spots. I would definitely recommend it.

Report Card

For more on my grading system, check out this page.
THE HOBBYMEN scored a 4.0 (A)

Disclosure: I received a free review copy of The Hobbymen from the author. His generosity in no way influenced, or sought to influence, this review.

Science Fiction

Review: Terminal by Kathy Reichs

TERMINAL by Kathy Reichs, reviewed at JalynEly.com
Image from Kathy Reichs

Title: Terminal (Virals #5)

Author: Kathy Reichs/Brendan Reichs

Genre: Science Fiction

Format: Hardcover

Warning: This book is fifth in a series, so this review will have spoilers of the previous books. If you haven’t read the other Virals books, I recommend avoiding this review.

Back cover:

The Virals are back. But this time, they’ve got company. A rogue band of newborn Virals is stalking the streets of Charleston, intent on challenging Tory Brennan and the Morris Island gang for domination of the city. Calling themselves the Trinity, these powerful rivals have been infected by an altered strain of supervirus created by Tory’s nemesis and sometimes-crush Chance Claybourne, who has caught the bug himself. Hiding in plain sight, striking without warning, the slippery new adversaries have no intention of playing nice.

As Tory and her companions delve deeper into the mysterious experiment that scrambled their DNA, the world begins to close in around them. The Trinity will stop at nothing to bring the Virals down. A shadowy government agency is working to uncover the secret to their powers. Medical tests reveal shocking truths about their cellular evolution. All while unfamiliar emotions roil the deepest corners of Tory’s heart.

The noose is tightening from every angle, and there’s nowhere safe to hide. In the riveting conclusion to the Virals series, Tory and the pack are nearing an impossible choice – and the ultimate showdown.

Review:

After I devoured Expsure – and was left with that mind-blowing ending – I immediately picked up this book. I sat down and read the first half (over 200 pages) in an hour.

Since you’re reading this review, I assume you’ve already read the first four books (or at least my reviews of them – but hopefully the books). So if you want to hear about the characters, check out one of my previous reviews – the characters don’t change much in Terminal.

The main character difference was Chance became a much bigger player. I simultaneously felt bad for him and got annoyed with him. Yeah, he was an outcast who just wanted to fit in, but he also kept so many secrets – and he would have been accepted a lot better (and faster) if he’d just been up front about everything. And that annoyed me.

There were lots of parts of the plot. The standard Virals kick-butt, solve-the-problem action, plus another, separate group of Virals who have it in for the Morris Island gang, plus romance, plus friendship drama, plus possibly-trustworthy-possibly-enemy Chance, plus new revelations about the virus that made them Virals…there’s a lot. It moves really freaking fast. And I loved it.

If you’ve read Code and Exposure, you won’t be surprised when I say there’s a romance in Terminal. It’s even a love triangle. Normally, I find love triangles excessively irritating, but this one was shoved between action scenes and kept getting pushed aside for secrets and superpowers, so I actually didn’t mind so much. It was there, but it was minor.

My main problem with the plot was I guessed the big shocking reveal at the end. Admittedly, I did that last book and was fine with it, but somehow the execution of this twist just made me think, “yep, I knew it. Disappointing.”

As I finished the book, I went, “No! That’s a horrible ending! They can’t do that to my Virals!” And then I read the epilogue and went, “Yes, that’s perfect.” It left options open for more books if there really, really had to be, but it also makes a pretty satisfying conclusion on its own.

Even though I’m sad (really, really sad) that this series is over, Terminal was a pretty fabulous ending. I would not object to another book with these characters (and their Viral powers), but for now, there are three Virals short stories to go through. I’ll have to be happy with that – because I’m not ready to let go of this fabulous series just yet.

The Virals series:

  1. Virals
  2. Seizure
  3. Code
  4. Exposure
  5. Terminal

Extra short stories:

  • Shock
  • Shift
  • Swipe

Report Card

For more on my grading system, check out this page.

TERMINAL scored a 3.6 (A) and a final verdict of "read"

Announcements

Finals are Over!

Especially in Indiana - it's been 80+ degrees all week.
Especially in Indiana. It’s been 80+ degrees all week.

As of yesterday, I’m officially done with my first year of college. Somehow. Still not sure how I survived some of those classes.

But anyway, tomorrow I will be home for the summer, (hopefully) working, and having a lot more spare time now that finals are over. Even though I’ll probably have more time to read, I’m going to continue my bi-weekly posting schedule and attempt to work through the backlog of books on my shelves.

In 2013 and 2014, I created special summer to-read lists – but I’m never very good at following those. So instead, I’m setting a smaller goal: read at least one of the three books left on my “Want to Read 2015” list.

My options:

  • Firefight (Reckoners #2) by Brandon Sanderson
  • The Shadow Throne (Ascendance Trilogy #3) by Jennifer A. Nielsen
  • Data Runner (Data Runner #1) by Sam A. Patel

Judging by my last trip to Barnes & Noble, I’m most excited about Firefight (i.e. I squealed, confused my boyfriend by abandoning him for the display, and wished I hadn’t already spent so much money that day so I could afford it). But I’m pretty sure all three will be great.

Happy summer, everybody! What do you hope to read in the next few months?

Science Fiction

Review: Exposure by Kathy Reichs

EXPOSURE by Kathy Reichs and Brendan Reichs
Image from Kathy Reichs

Title: Exposure (Virals #4)

Author: Kathy Reichs and Brendan Reichs

Genre: Science Fiction

Format: Hardcover

Warning: This book is fourth in a series, so this review will contain spoilers of the previous books. You’ve been warned.

Back cover:

When twin classmates are abducted from Bolton Prep, Tory and the Virals decide there’s no one better equipped than them to investigate. But the gang has other problems to face. Their powers are growing wilder and becoming harder to control. Chance Claybourne is investigating the disastrous medical experiment that twisted their DNA. The bonds that unite them are weakening, threatening the future of the pack itself.

The Virals must decipher the clues and track down a ruthless criminal before he strikes again, all while protecting their secret from prying eyes. And everyone seems to be watching.

Review:

So after the way Code ended, I was dying to get my hands on this book. That was two years ago. Somehow this book slipped to the back of my mind and I forgot about it until I saw it on the library shelf (right next to Terminal, which is the book 5 I didn’t know existed). I snatched both up.

I thoroughly enjoyed Tory. She seemed a bit younger than I remembered – but it’s been two years since I read a Virals book, so that could just be me. She was still the stubborn, impulsive, occasionally reckless spitfire from the previous books, but she was also an emotional teenager. Being able to see the soft, scared, vulnerable side of her in this book just made her that much better.

In my review of Code, I complained that Ben, Hi, and Shelton weren’t really three-dimensional characters. I don’t know if my perceptions changed or if the characters made huge leaps in development in this book, but they actually seemed like real people. I can’t really explain how or why, but they really jumped off the page and I liked all of them (including Ben, who I don’t recall liking all that much before).

So the whole missing twins is a big part, and Chance Claybourne comes back in a huge way (in charge of his father’s company and SERIOUSLY investigating the Virals), but I think the main plot here was pack dynamics. Ben and Tory are at odds thanks to the events of last book, Hi and Shelton are stuck in the middle, and the maybe-romance threatens to mess up everything. And Tory actually makes a non-Viral friend, which just adds another wrench to the works.

There was still plenty of danger, Virals power-using, sneaking around, and life-or-death situations to satisfy the action fan in me. (And I’ll be honest, I still absolutely LOVE seeing them use their powers.) But this book was a whole lot more character-driven, and I liked that, too.

That ending blew me away – doubly so because I actually saw it coming, yet it was still a shock when it happened. And it was one of those endings where everything changes and you absolutely need the next book RIGHT THIS INSTANT.

I am in the best possible situation with this series, because I finished Exposure and have Terminal just sitting on my shelf, available for immediate reading. According to my library, Terminal has a hold on it and is currently accruing fines – but I really don’t care. I’m going to read it immediately anyway.

The Virals series:

  1. Virals
  2. Seizure
  3. Code
  4. Exposure
  5. Terminal

Report Card

For more on my grading system, check out this page.

EXPOSURE scored a 3.8 and a final verdict of "Read"

Adventure

Did Not Finish: Au Revoir, Crazy European Chick by Joe Schreiber

Au Revoir, Crazy European Chick
Image from Houghton Mifflin

Title: Au Revoir, Crazy European Chick

Author: Joe Schreiber

Genre: Thriller

Format: Hardcover

Back cover:

It’s prom night. Up until now, Perry Stormaire’s only worries were finishing his college applications and getting his band its first big gig in the Big Apple. But when it mother makes him take geeky, quiet Lithuanian exchange student Gobija Zaksauskas to the prom instead, Perry figures the night is going to be a disaster.

He has no idea how right he is.

Gobi has a special mission – five targets by daybreak – and Perry’s roped into it whether he likes it or not. Now they’re off like a prom dress on a reckless, no-brakes blitz through nighttime Manhattan in his father’s red Jag, going eyeball to eyeball with Russian mobsters and teen angst, high-velocity bullets and high school bullies, all things to the  most beautiful girl that ever almost got him killed.

Read to: Page 64 (chapter 12)

Reason for stopping: Poor morals, frustration with all characters

Review:

This is one of those books that I’ve had on my Want to Read list for a long time, and when I saw it at the library I grabbed it without thinking too much about it. I put it on my list purely for concept – nerdy foreign exchange student turns out to be an assassin, boy gets dragged along for the ride. But I probably should have read the reviews before I read it.

Perry wasn’t too bad of a character. He could be a tiny bit irritating at times (especially when whining about wishing he had a girl), but for the most part, I didn’t mind him. Part of the conflict was him getting dragged around by Gobi while his band was supposed to be playing their big gig and he needed to be there on time – and I liked him enough that I hoped he would get there in time to play.

Perry was the best of the lot, though. Gobi went from an awkward, poor-English-speaking foreign exchange student who I didn’t mind to a hot, competent, complete jerk of an assassin. She only needed Perry because she couldn’t drive, and it seems to me that an assassin should know a basic skill like that. Perry’s friends were all irritating high school jerks, and Perry’s dad was so unnecessarily and purposefully cruel to his son that I wanted to reach through the book and punch him in the face.

I hoped at least the plot would be good, since that’s mostly what I picked it up for, anyway. But once the actual assassin part got started, it floated along on high-speed driving and Perry freaking out. Not exactly what I’d hoped. I only read 64 pages because I was bored and too lazy to grab another book – at least until I got so totally frustrated that I decided I’d rather go wash the dishes than continue reading.

A lot of Au Revoir, Crazy European Chick’s good reviews on Goodreads were good because “give it to a 13-year-old boy.” This book is carried purely by the guns-a-blazin’, secret-identities, super-secret-assassin stuff that makes the mediocre action movies my 13-year-old brother loves. But I wouldn’t recommend this book to him. Lots of swearing, bloody murders, a fixation on sex…all stuff I wouldn’t want any 13-year-old reading about.

I was really disappointed in this book, because Au Revoir, Crazy European Chick had a great premise. Unfortunately, the execution completely failed.

The Perry & Gobi series:

  1. Au Revoir, Crazy European Chick
  2. Perry’s Killer Playlist

Report Card

For more on my grading system, check out this page.

AU REVOIR, CRAZY EUROPEAN CHICK scored a 2.3 (D) and a final verdict of

Dystopian

Review: UnWholly by Neal Shusterman

UNWHOLLY by Neal Shusterman, reviewed at JalynEly.com
Image from Neal Shusterman

Title: UnWholly (Unwind #2)

Author: Neal Shusterman

Genre: Dystopian

Format: Paperback

Warning: This book is second in a series, so this review will probably contain spoilers of the previous book. If you haven’t read Unwind, read this at your own risk.

Back cover:

Thanks to Connor, Lev, and Risa—and their high-profile revolt at Happy Jack Harvest Camp—people can no longer turn a blind eye to unwinding. Ridding society of troublesome teens while simultaneously providing much-needed tissues for transplant might be convenient, but its morality has finally been brought into question. However, unwinding has become big business, and there are powerful political and corporate interests that want to see it not only continue, but also expand to the unwinding of prisoners and the impoverished.

Cam is a product of unwinding; made entirely out of the parts of other unwinds, he is a teen who does not technically exist. A futuristic Frankenstein, Cam struggles with a search for identity and meaning and wonders if a rewound being can have a soul. And when the actions of a sadistic bounty hunter cause Cam’s fate to become inextricably bound with the fates of Connor, Risa, and Lev, he’ll have to question humanity itself.

Review:

As I’ve mentioned before, I was a huge fan of Unwind and super excited when I found out there were three sequels. I bought this browsing through Barnes & Noble last December, and finally got to it as I’m cleaning out my bookshelves to go home for the summer.

I’d grown to like Connor, Risa, and Lev pretty well through Unwind, but UnWholly followed a completely different set of characters. There was Cam, the kid made entirely of unwound parts, who was trying to figure out where he belonged and what he wanted; Starkey, the AWOL unwind, who couldn’t look beyond his own lust for power; and Miracolina, the Tithe who, unlike Lev, never decided she wanted to live.

And then, about a third of the way through the book, Connor, Risa, and Lev showed up as point-of-view characters. So the story was being told from six perspectives, and personally, I don’t think Connor and Risa’s did much except make me frustrated with human nature and add relationship drama (because they have some sort of almost-relationship thing…)

The main plot, I think, was getting rid of Unwinding once and for all. But none of the characters really focused too much on that. Cam wanted to fit in. Sharkey wanted to be in control. Miracolina wanted to get unwound. Connor wanted to protect the kids at the Graveyard. Risa was helping him and also upset that he didn’t seem to care about her anymore. Lev had legal problems from his clapper past and was also trying to help save Tithes.

So the “stop unwinding” goal didn’t get very far. It mostly ended up with a lot of conflicts and violence. A LOT of violence. Not unnecessary, I guess, considering the world, but sometimes very gory.

Overall, the story was okay. I don’t think I’ll be continuing the series, just because it seems like it’s headed towards more violence, less plot, and more frustration with selfish human nature. I really enjoyed the first book, but I think this is one of those cases where a series is too much.

The Unwind Dystology:

  1. Unwind
  2. UnWholly
  3. UnSouled
  4. UnDivided
  • UnStrung (#1.5)

Report Card

For more on my grading system, check out this page.

UNWHOLLY scored a 3.4 (A-) and a final verdict of "Okay to Read"

Science Fantasy

Review: Technomancer by B.V. Larson

TECHNOMANCER by B.V. Larson reviewed at JalynEly.com
Image from B.V. Larson

Title: Technomancer (Unspeakable Things #1)

Author: B.V. Larson

Genre: Science Fantasy

Format: Paperback

Back cover:

When Quentin Draith wakes up in a private sanatorium, he has no memory of who he is or how he received the injuries riddling his body. All he knows is that he has to get out, away from the drugs being pumped into him and back to the real world to search for answers. His first question: How did his friend Tony’s internal organs fill with sand, killing him in a Las Vegas car crash?

After a narrow escape, he tracks down the basic facts: he is an investigator and blogger specializing in the supernatural—which is a good thing, because Quentin’s life is getting stranger by the minute. It seems he is one of a special breed, a person with unusual powers. He’s also the prime suspect in a string of murders linked by a series of seemingly mundane objects. The deeper he digs and the harder he works to clear his name, the more Quentin realizes that some truths are better off staying buried…

Review:

I picked this book up on a whim – wandering through the library while my boyfriend tried to decide on a book, the title caught my eye. The back cover seemed vaguely interesting, so I threw it on my pile and didn’t give it another thought.

Quentin was okay. At first, I thought I’d like him – having no memory definitely gave me some sympathy for him, and he certainly seemed to have an interesting job and past. But as the story moved on, he got more and more heartless and violent, and I found whatever liking I had for him slipping away.

The other characters I liked even less. Okay, I didn’t mind Jenna, the overemotional, hard-headed bride, but the rest of them ranged from “you’re not always right, idiot” to “I absolutely hate you.” And almost everybody was an antagonist most of the time.

As far as plot goes, the how/why-did-Tony-die thing gets forgotten about pretty quickly. The first half is pretty much figure-out-what’s-going-on, which I really enjoyed. Plus there was the nice touch of Quentin having no memory, so no one really explains things because they expect him to already know it.

The fun part is really figuring everything out along with Quentin. At first, I thought the idea of this kinda-magic was going to be really cool and I would enjoy reading about it. But once I understood it, I didn’t enjoy it as much.

The last half of Technomancer turned into a stand-up-for-the-little-guy, save-the-world, impending-war kind of thing, and it was honestly kinda boring. Since the characters ranged from mediocre to frustrating, figuring things out was the only thing that kept me reading through the first half. I only finished the book out of a vague sense of curiosity, followed by “there’s only 50 pages left, I might as well.”

Technomancer probably wasn’t worth finishing, honestly. I enjoyed the first half, but then it fell apart. Out of the two hours it took to read this, I wasted about an hour. Besides all the bad stuff I probably shouldn’t be reading about (see my grading card), I really just didn’t care.

The Unspeakable Things series:

  1. Technomancer
  2. The Bone Triangle
  3. The Elixir

Report Card

For more on my grading system, check out this page.TECHNOMANCER scored a 2.0 (D) and a final verdict of "don't read"

Action/Adventure/Suspense/Thriller

Review: Dark Eyes by William Richter

DARK EYES by William Richter reviewed at JalynEly.com
Image from William Richter

Title: Dark Eyes (Dark Eyes #1)

Author: William Richter

Genre: Thriller

Format: Hardcover

Back cover:

Wallis Stoneman was born in Russia and adopted by a wealthy family in New York City. Beautiful and rebellious, she trades a life of privilege for the gritty streets of Manhattan. She knows nothing of her childhood in Russia. Those years are lost forever.

Now Wally is sixteen and hardened, and she has just stumbled across a harrowing secret that will change her life forever: Wally’s roots are deadly She’s the daughter of Klesko, a notorious Russian gangster who’s just broken out of prison. Klesko is searching for the fortune Wally’s mother stole from him long ago, and he’ll stop at nothing to find it.

Can wall find – and save – her mother before Klesko kills them both?

Review:

I’m not sure exactly what made me pick up this book. Dark Eyes is one of those books that I saw a while ago, thought, “that looks interesting,” and promptly forgot about. Then during my last trip to the library, it somehow ended up on my pile.

Wally was okay, as far as characters go. She was tough and smart and a great leader with a pretty big stubborn streak, which are traits I love in a character. But she was also a trespasser, thief, and seller of stolen goods, which put her a few notches lower in my estimation.

The rest of her gang – Tevin, Ella, and Jake – were okay characters. They had their good points (Ella, especially, was really sweet), but since they didn’t have a lot of page time, the bad (thievery, breaking and entering, and Ella and Jake sleeping together) outweighed the good.

The plot was honestly what made me finish this book. There’s so many bits and pieces to it, it was like a giant puzzle that I wanted to figure out. (There were even some scenes showing what Klesko was up to, which kept me hoping Wally would stay ahead of him – not because I particularly liked her, but because I hated him.) Wally finding her mother doesn’t sound hugely complicated, but considering how many dead ends, criminal acts, and murders it takes to get there, it was.

A tiny little detail that bugged me, and really shouldn’t have been that much of an issue, was the whole Russian thing. Wally was adopted from Russia. Her family is Russian. And it seemed like every other page, it was Russian this and Russian that. Personally, I didn’t think the family’s nationality should have been that big of a deal.

What really killed it for me was the ending. There was far too much unnecessary violence in the climax, but what I really hated was that Wally ended up in a worse place than when the book started. I realize this isn’t a happy-go-lucky story, but I had hoped her situation would be at least slightly improved.

Considering how harshly this book got graded, I probably shouldn’t have even finished it. But I did, mainly out of a mild curiosity to find out how Wally came out of it, and was disappointed. I didn’t know this going in, but there’s a sequel to Dark Eyes, Tiger – which I do not intend to ever read.

The Dark Eyes series:

  1. Dark Eyes
  2. Tiger

Report Card

For more on my grading system, check out this page.DARK EYES scored a 2.2 (D) and a final verdict of "don't read"