Wednesday, November 26, 2014

In the Afterlight by Alexandra Bracken [Joint Review!]


4 out of 5 Robots!
  

In the After Light by Alexandra Bracken
Series: The Darkest Minds, #3
Genre: Young Adult, Scifi, Dystopia
Release: October 28, 2014
Hardcover:  535 Pages
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
My Copy: Purchased
Reviewer: Julia & Shannon

Book Summary:
Ruby can't look back. Fractured by an unbearable loss, she and the kids who survived the government's attack on Los Angeles travel north to regroup. With them is a prisoner: Clancy Gray, son of the president, and one of the few people Ruby has encountered with abilities like hers. Only Ruby has any power over him, and just one slip could lead to Clancy wreaking havoc on their minds.

They are armed only with a volatile secret: proof of a government conspiracy to cover up the real cause of IAAN, the disease that has killed most of America's children and left Ruby and others like her with powers the government will kill to keep contained. But internal strife may destroy their only chance to free the "rehabilitation camps" housing thousands of other Psi kids.

Meanwhile, reunited with Liam, the boy she would-and did-sacrifice everything for to keep alive, Ruby must face the painful repercussions of having tampered with his memories of her. She turns to Cole, his older brother, to provide the intense training she knows she will need to take down Gray and the government. But Cole has demons of his own, and one fatal mistake may be the spark that sets the world on fire.

(Courtesy of the Publisher)

Joint Review with Julia & Shannon
1. In the Afterlight is the long conclusion to The Dark Minds trilogy- how do you feel about it? 
Shannon: I am pretty satisfied by this series.  I'm not exactly sad it is over, although I will miss some of the characters.  But I thought that given how bloated this genre is, The Dark Minds trilogy stands out.  I like that the characters all have their strengths and their flaws and are fairly three dimensional.  I thought the main plot was interesting and it was well written. My only small complaint is these books do feel long.  I mean, they are long, but they also feel long. 
Julia: I enjoyed the story- stellar plot. It really tied up all the loose ends and I didn't have any questions at the end of In the Afterlight. That being said, it is way too long. It did not need to be 535 pages to conclude everything. I LOVE long books, but I don't love when long books feel long. I was ready for this book to be over halfway through.

2. SO many characters! Good. Bad. Who was your favorite good guy? Your favorite bad guy?
Shannon:  Honestly, I could not keep everyone straight outside of the main characters.  Or more accurately, I could not keep all the different groups straight.  But my favorite good guy character is and will always be Chubs.  He gets a bad rap for being the "worrying granny" of the group, but he has no problem laying down the truth when needed.  He is the glue that holds everyone together and really, nothing would get done without him.  I don't know if I had a favorite bad guy.  There is the obvious choice of Clancy, but something about the whole Clancy-mind control thing gets really tiresome to me. 
Julia: There are so many three dimensional brilliant characters, but Chubs is my favorite. He stays true to who he is always yet you see his character grow throughout the three novels. His worry-wart personality is endearing. And I love Clancy- perfect villain. He's relatively predictable, but I kept rooting for him to change his ways. He does get a great ending, peace!

3. Relationships. There are always a relationship or two... discuss.
Shannon: Lets start with Liam and Ruby.  I have also liked them together from day one and I appreciated the hurdles they had to overcome.  Although Liam is a little TOO nice when it comes to Ruby because she does not make things easy for him.  But overall, I love them together.  Or maybe I just love Liam?  There is also Liam and his brother Cole.  I got tired of them bickering ALL. THE. TIME.  I wanted them to get on the same page a lot sooner than they did.  But I also liked how they kind of represented the yin and yang of the Stewart family.  I also liked Cole and Ruby's relationship.  I liked the mutual respect they had for each other without it being romantic.  THANK YOU ANDREA BRACKEN for not making this a love triangle!!  Lastly, there was a nice relationship that develops.  I don't know want to say who it is but I called it from the beginning.  
Julia: Well, as thankful as I am that there wasn't a love triangle, I wasn't very satisfied with relationships In the Afterlight. Liam and Ruby's relationship grows, but also takes a back burner and the book was SO LONG that I should have felt more emotional about their coupledom. I was rooting for them in The Darkest Minds and Never Fade, but I didn't feel anything this time. I didn't even care if they "made it." I understood Cole/Liam's sibling relationship, so that was refreshing. But Cole and Ruby's relationship is the most satisfying because there is a mutual respect and friendship and absolutely no sexual tension. THAT is refreshing. Chubs does find himself in a strange relationship, yet it makes perfect sense and that is fun to discover. 

4. Favorite/Least favorite thing about In the Afterlight?
Shannon:  My favorite thing I think would be the resolution for some of the characters.  Bracken spends a good amount of time working through various issues for some of her characters and I liked that.  My least favorite thing is Clancy.  I don't know why, but I just was not into his mind control at all.
Julia: Well, this is a sorta spoiler. My least favorite thing - A character dies, and I don't buy it. We weren't there. It wasn't a big enough send off. Give me a break, this dude is big and bad and would have put up more of a fight!

5. Did Bracken do a good job tying up loose ends and concluding the series?
Shannon:  I would say I am satisfied.  As I mentioned, Bracken brings everyone together and spends time resolving issues.  I thought the ending came up a little abruptly and panned out a little too easy, but I also was fairly happy with where everyone ends up.  Bracken does a nice job of tying up the loose strings here.
Julia: She sure did! She better have anyway, after 535 pages. Sorry, I know I've mentioned that already. The ending is well thought out and I love how much time she put into each character.

6. Rate the series and tell me who you're recommending it to? Also, will previous fans love this one too?
Shannon:  I would give it 4.5 stars.  It is a series I would recommend and I think this last book holds up well with the first two.  I would recommend this to dystopian fans and "superpower"/X-man fans.  I also think readers of the series will like this book, although they may not like one or two developments.
Julia: 4 out of 5 stars. Super unique series in a genre that has become over populated. The characters are refreshing and the author knows how to pull at your heart strings. I'm pretty sure any young adult enthusiast could get into this one, especially dystopian junkies. Previous fans will love it.

The Darkest Minds Trilogy in the order they should be read: 
1.The Darkest Minds - Review
2.  Never Fade - Review
3. In the Afterlight

 

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Books on my Winter TBR

 Top Ten Tuesday is an original weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish

Top Ten Books on my Winter TBR


 1. Top Ten Clues You're Clueless by Liz Czukas
(December 9th)
Top Ten Clues You're Clueless

 2. Fire Fall by Bethany Frenette
(January 6th)
Fire Fall (Dark Star, #3)

3. I Was Here by Gayle Forman
(January 27th)
I Was Here
 

4. Unleashed by Sophie Jordan
(February 24th)
Unleashed (Uninvited, #2)
 
 5. This Shattered World by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner
(December 23rd)
This Shattered World (Starbound, #2)

6. Mime Order by Samantha Shannon
(January 27th)
The Mime Order (The Bone Season, #2)

7. As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust by Alan Bradley
(January 6th)
As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust (Flavia de Luce, #7)

8. Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard
(February 10th)
Red Queen (Red Queen, #1)


9. Princess of Thorns by Stacey Jay
(December 9th)
Princess of Thorns

9. The Distance Between Lost and Found by Kathryn Holmes
(February 17th)
The Distance Between Lost and Found

-SHANNON-

Monday, November 24, 2014

Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater [Joint Review!]


Blue Lily, Lily Blue (The Raven Cycle, #3)5 out of 5 Robots!
  

Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater
Series: The Raven Cycle #3
Genre: YA Fantasy
Release: October 21, 2014
Hardcover:  391 Pages
Publisher:Scholastic Press
My Copy: Purchased
Reviewer: Julia and Shannon

Book Summary:
There is danger in dreaming. But there is even more danger in waking up.

Blue Sargent has found things. For the first time in her life, she has friends she can trust, a group to which she can belong. The Raven Boys have taken her in as one of their own. Their problems have become hers, and her problems have become theirs.

The trick with found things though, is how easily they can be lost.

Friends can betray.
Mothers can disappear.
Visions can mislead.
Certainties can unravel.

(Courtesy of the Publisher)

Julia and Shannon's Thoughts:
1. Soooo...whaddya think?
Julia: Blue Lily, Lily Blue is just as fun as its predecessors. I didn't want the story to end and all of the characters seem to be growing. I love it!
Shannon: This series will make me a Stiefvater fan for life and this book was no exception.  It maybe wasn't as flashy as the previous two books, but it laid some solid groundwork (and opened some interesting theories) for the final book.  I've always thought that the sum would be greater than its parts and that Stiefvater is playing the long game, meaning that the series as its whole will be better than any one book.  Stiefvater has a clear vision and is not giving anything away.

2. Let's talk ships.
Julia: So Adam and Ronan are legit growing on each other but they still have great dialogue.... but my favorite relationship (for now) is Gansey and Blue. They're slowly coming out of their shell and their relationship is changing and it is sweet and subtle and I can't get enough.
Shannon: Here is the power of Stiefvater's writing.  She can give us the littlest things and make it seems like the biggest thing.  A look, a touch, a thought.  I love Gansey and Blue.  No wait, I am tortured by Gansey and Blue.  But Adam and Ronan crept up on me in this book.  Whether they are just friends or something more, I am totally on board (and secretly hoping for more). 

3. What was your favorite part? 
Julia: My favorite part is always the witty dialogue. But my favorite part is also a sad part and I can't tell you what it is. Even though I didn't want this to happen, I didn't expect it at all and it made me sad, soooo ya know.
Shannon: The writing.  Just...the way Stiefvater writes.  I'm not usually one to fan over writing, but there is something to precise, yet lyrical in the way she writes. 

4.  Was there anything you didn't like?
Julia: I didn't like how prominent Piper and Greenmantle are in the story. I actually really enjoyed learning more about Greenmantle and his relationship with Piper IS interesting... but I would have rather heard from the gray man. or Maura. Or any of my other favorite main characters.
Shannon: You know...I kind of agree with Julia.  I wasn't that interested in Piper and Greenmantle too, but I can see why they got their parts of the story.  I wanted to hear more from Maura as well. 
 
5. What do you think about this series overall?  How does this book fit in with the previous books?
Julia: The Raven Cycle series is absolutely mesmerizing and magical. It is a roller coaster ride and Blue Lily Lily Blue fits right in with the previous two. I feel like each story grows with the characters and Maggie Stiefvater has this way with words! Ahhh! I'm a fan.
Shannon: This series is just...gah!  I don't really have words to describe it.  I love how layered it is.  Every books peels back another layer and I never really know where Stiefvater is going with it.  The writing is superb.  The characters are fresh and real.  This books fits in right along with the other two.  It may not have as much action as the previous two, but I definitely think it is the calm before the storm.

6. What would you rate this book?  How would you rate this book compared to the previous two? Julia: Five out of five stars! I enjoyed this book more than the previous two. If that's possible. It's hard not to, because Adam is such a better character in Blue Lily Lily Blue
Shannon: I give it 5 out of 5 too.  I would put this on par with the others, although I think The Dream Thieves was still my favorite (that ending!).  But as Julia points out, Adam was a thousand times better in this book!

Other Books in the Series in the Order of Reading:
1. The Raven Boys
2. The Dream Thieves
3. Lily Blue, Blue Lily
4. Untitled (expected publication in Fall 2015)

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