Review: The Thief

The Thief (The Queen's Thief, #1)The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The first half of this book, which introduced the protagonist, Gen, and supporting characters, was incredibly dull. I didn’t particularly like Gen throughout most of this book. He was selfish, arrogant, whiney, and didn’t seem pleasant to be around at all. Because of him, I wasn’t sure if I was going to finish the book at all.

When I got to the temple part was when I was hooked. The temple reminded me of some brain teasing puzzles in video games. After the temple, everything started getting much more exciting and when the twist (which I had a hint of but didn’t really expect after-all) I finally had an inkling of respect for Gen.

The Thief could almost be classified as historical fiction for young adults except for the whole deux ex machina part of the plot. I’m usually annoyed by stories where the main character gets divine intervention at just the right time to avoid some dilemma, but it kind of worked in here. Kind of. I did like the stories of the creation of the world according to their old religion even if it seemed very Mother-Earthish, but the more direct ways the gods interfered was a splinter in my side.

Reviews say that the next books in this series are much better, but I can’t see the old gods and their meddling going away anytime soon in the story, so I’m probably going to skip them unless I run out of things to read.

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Review: Life As We Knew It

Life As We Knew It (Last Survivors, #1) Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer
4 of 5 stars

Although I would describe Life As We Knew it as apocalyptic, I don’t really want to because it doesn’t really fit in with a lot of books of that genre I’ve read. The Event in the novel is an asteroid hitting the moon and thanks to some gross miscalculations, it ends up knocking the moon off its regular orbit and closer to earth. Because the moon is suddenly closer to earth, the tides swell so that whole states get demolished, dormant volcanoes erupt, and the climate pretty much goes hay-wire.

That’s on a macro level.

The micro level is what Life As We Knew It is about. The story is told through journal entries of a 16 year old girl in a rural, northern state. The beginning of the book reads very much like a Young Adult novel, with the girl, Miranda, fretting over boys, homework, and all the usual things teenagers have on their mind.

When The Event happens, things change, but not at once, and I think this why the novel is so good. No one knows what to expect, so most people don’t prepare. People worry about mundane things like if they should send their kids into school the next day. Pfeffer makes the novel terrifying and believable by focussing on just Miranda’s family. I like that she has selfish thoughts, jealous outbursts, and flaws throughout the entire book. It made her feel realistic.

While reading this book, I kept stopping and reminding myself that this is a YA book. While the narrator is a teenager, she ends up maturing quickly because of The Event. Most of the story is dark and I really felt a sense of hopelessness to the point of wanting to put the book down, but like a bad car wreck, I couldn’t turn away.

Life As We Knew It is a decent entry in the genre and one of the better, serious YA books I’ve read. The cover is also AWESOME. Halfway through the book, I flipped it over to the cover and just stared at it for a few minutes. It made me kind of scared.

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Review: Graceling

Graceling (The Seven Kingdoms Trilogy, #1) Graceling by Kristin Cashore
4 of 5 stars

What a wonderful, self-contained fantasy book. The world of Graceling focusses on individuals with particular talents, called Graces, such as incredible speed, mind-reading, foresight into the weather, etc. But to un-graced people, they’re strange and to be avoided.

The overall plot was easy to spot a mile away and there were few surprises (save one), but it didn’t make this book any easier to put down. I read the entire 400+ book in two sittings. The prose flows fluidly and quickly while still keeping its rich nature.

The only thing that keeps Graceling from being a five-star book though, and this is a minor quibble, is that it feels particularly like a young adult book. I would have preferred more character development, especially between a certain pair of characters and their sweetly blossoming relationship.

It maybe a strange thing to write in a review, but I appreciate the fact that this book didn’t finish with a cliff ending. The sense of closure was nice.

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