Monday, 25 April 2016

Book Review: Desolation

DESOLATION by Derek Landy (Demon Road #2)
4 Stars
Verdict:
Would work better as a film.


DESOLATION was mostly an enjoyable read, and overall I’ve give it 3.5 stars. I enjoy Landy’s quirky style and attention to pace. It wasn’t as good as DEMON ROAD, but I found myself drawn in by the mystery and promise of demon deals and life-or-hell situations.

Where book one was a series of episodes leading up to a finale, book two is more like a movie. Actually, most of it would work better as a movie, but I’ll get to that later.

I don’t think Amber grew as a character – in fact, most of the book wasn’t about her. Lots of other characters were introduced, and we followed them for sections instead. I didn’t mind the two old TV actors, but the Scooby gang parody felt like too much, too fast, too thin.

Sadly, Milo and Glen were my favourite characters of book one. With one down to start with, the story felt like it was missing most of book one’s appeal. The other had reduced page time to make way for a whole host of other characters. I hope this changes in book three.

Now for a mini spoiler (feel free to skip paragraph, although I’ll keep it vague). I applaud the modern romance, but it was rubbish. It came out of nowhere, lacked connection, and I can’t see it being particularly relatable to teens. Amber doesn’t grow as a person or ask, and then deal with, the questions and excitement that should have followed. I’m not sure it really counts as romance. It felt more like two casual adults who know themselves well, rather than a sixteen-year-old experimenting or realising who they are. It almost feels like it was thrown in just to be diverse.

Mini spoiler over, and onto the style. Where the humour worked, the writing was witty, entertaining, and full of character. By the second half of the book, it felt aimless and manufactured rather than organic. Landy goes out of his way be funny, and I found myself asking ‘but what’s your point?’. One scene contained four side characters squabbling for several pages. It stood out as a peculiar detour away from the actual story.

Similarly, I loved the action where it worked, but other times it dragged (no pun intended). The middle section launched into a sequence that left me unable to work out who was where and what was going on. Action and circumstance drove most of the scenes, not intelligence or characters or plot. It was surprisingly dull and overly complicated.

What made this book interesting was the mystery behind it, not the action or skits. The village is a strange, strange place with villagers who act even weirder. I didn’t know who to trust, and I wanted to work out what was going on. I also liked the tie ins from book one, which pumped some of the series’ charm back into the storyline.

Here’s the thing – this book would probably work better as a film or TV series because it felt visually orientated - action and quips. But books are more than what you can see, don’t you think?

Source: NetGalley.com, via the awesome publishers. 

Sunday, 10 April 2016

Book Review: Glass Sword

GLASS SWORD by Victoria Aveyard (Red Queen #2)
2 stars
Verdict: Repetitive prose, slow pace, and lacks plot.
In my opinion, this book had two flaws: the story and the way it was written. I wanted to love it as much as I enjoyed book one, but I honestly found it dull.

The story followed a predictable path. Book one ends with Mare and a list of newbloods to recruit. Book two, Mare travels around collecting newbloods. I didn’t need to read GLASS SWORD to know what would happen. It lacked originality, and the author compensated for this with a rather indulgent prose which killed the pace entirely.

Aveyard is the master of tautology; she knows how to say the same thing in so many beautiful ways. If you read a few lines in isolations, it’s easy to gush over the beauty and flow of the writing – it’s a book to quote, and that’s why I’ve given it two stars. Unfortunately, when you put all these sentences together, the narrative becomes repetitive, slow, and downright superfluous.

With that in mind, the predictability of the prose had me rolling my eyes. Mare constantly reminisces about everything we learned in book one – but we know what happened. We’ve read it. If Mare needed to state or declare something, Lady Blonos was called forth first. The amount of times we’re told Cal is a military man and Kilorn is a ‘fish boy’ is excessive compared to the times these bits of information are actually shown to affect the plot.

Because of the way it was written, I found Mare whiny. I know she’s been through a lot, I know she has every right to moan, but we don’t call people whiny until they complain tirelessly about the same, futile point. I started to resent Mare, and that’s not a good feeling to have about a protagonist.

The narrative also skips across time in a way that lacks intimacy. Either months or weeks pass by, I have no idea, but what I do know is things develop without a thought to the details of how, why, and who.

I feel the general plan for the book set it up for failure: recruit too many new characters to flesh out, keep Mare in mourning for everything that once was, and end on a cliff hanger which would have worked much better if it happened as the book’s main conflict. I’m left wondering what the overarching story of this book was, and I’ve decided it doesn’t have one. It’s just a bridge to the next in the series.

So I’m a little disappointed. I wanted the writer to surprise me, to take me on an unexpected adventure, or even throw in some new ideas and new concepts of this world. That didn’t happen. I sincerely hope book three can save this series.

Source: With thanks to the publisher, via Netgalley.com