Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Shorter Musings: YA Fantasy

Sometimes I read a book, and I even enjoy it, but I don't have much to say about it. Those are the books that are reviewed quickly on Goodreads and then I move on. Some of those are starting to pile up so I thought I would put them all together in one post.

Here are some YA Fantasies I've read recently and my shorter musings on them.

A Confusion of Princes by Garth Nix
I don't know what it is, but drop me into an Epic Fantasy world and no matter how odd the names or different the world I'm totally there. Not so much with Sci-Fi. In the first few pages as Prince Khemri was talking about all the different teks I was like-hubba wubba wha??? Still, I settled into the story and really enjoyed the first half. I liked Khemri, ignorant arrogance and all. I loved the world building and politics of the Empire. The second half didn't work quite as well for me as I had a hard time buying any of it. The romance. Khem's turn around. The end. I guess I wanted a different story than the author was telling. I don't know, it just didn't seem to fit the beginning. I was sad about that because the I was really into the first half and that doesn't happen often for me with books (or anything) set in space.

The Future of Us by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler
I love the concept of this novel, but was disappointed in the execution. The characters and plot were too shallow for me to care about that much. I liked Josh but found myself hoping Emma wouldn't get him in the end. Emma was highly unlikeable. In a way there is an interesting social commentary here, but again it is not executed well enough to pack a real punch. I'm not sure if this is a book for modern teens or people who were teens in the mid-90's. I graduated from high school at the time this story was taking place and I appreciated it from that perspective, but thought the 1996 references were a bit heavy at times, as if the authors were trying more to reference everything they could to make someone nostalgic than to create a realistic feel to the time period for the setting.

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
I really enjoyed this one. It was a little technical in places for me. My computer technology savvy is just enough to get me through the day to day things required for modern life. Also I'm not at all a gamer so this was a different sort of world for me to step into. I loved the concept though and felt it was executed really well. The future world represented here is one I can buy into. It is one that could most certainly happen. Wade is a character I felt I knew and came to care about despite feeling bogged down by his exposition in places. I also enjoyed all the 80's pop culture references as I was a little kid during the 80's. I think this is going to make a most excellent movie assuming they cast it correctly.

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo 
Shadow and Bone is an easy, quick, enjoyable, fast paced fantasy read. It is predictable and the characterization is weaker than I tend to like in such books. It has a great villain though, I far preferred him to the heroes. He, at least, was intriguing. The one unique element of this book was its Russianesque setting. That is not typical for fantasies and I really liked the concept. Unfortunately I had a small issue here. I KNOW that it was not actually Russia, but a sort of Russian derivative. BUT. Alina Starkov. The first time I read her name I subconsciously read it the way it should be: Alina Starkova. And if that had been the only time it was written fully I may not have noticed, but it's repeated enough that I did. The second time I realized the "a" wasn't there and that is just wrong. I don't know that much about Russian in general, but I taught enough Russian immigrant students to know the girls are fiercely protective of those "a"'s on their last names that differentiate them from their brothers. Fiercely. As in they refused to respond if called by their names without it. It made it rather difficult for me to buy into all the other elements of the world and the wrongness of it was like an alarm bell everytime I read her full name. (Which is used frequently.)
The Sweetest Spell by Suzanne Selfors
This was a nice take on "The Ugly Duckling Story". It has the simplicity typical of fairy tales. It is told well and I liked the characters. I wasn't entirely certain why the dual first person perspective was necessary and found that it sometimes hindered my enjoyment. I think a third person narration would have worked better for me. WARNING: Reading this book will make you want to eat all the chocolate. 


  1. I read Confusion of Princes a couple of months ago and couldn't tell you know what it's about. Nix's books have been so hit or miss for me, Sabriel one of my all-time favorites, the rest of them not so much.

    1. This was my first Nix book. I've heard great things about Sabriel from other people too. I will give that one a try at least.

  2. I so COMPLETELY agree about A Confusion of Princes. I loved the first half and then I got to the second half and went, "WHAT? Khemri falls in love and finds himself? Can we have a more trite plot?" Which is a pity, because it was so close to being amazing and if the second half had been treated in a better way it would have been.

    1. Exactly! The scope was so big and there was so many layers and then it...fizzled. Trite is an excellent word.

  3. I second the Sabriel recommendation! I loved that one. I felt pretty much the same way you did about A Confusion of Princes. LOL isn't it funny how easy it is for us to read fantasy but we find sci-fi confusing?

    1. I break out in hives at the word "science" whether it's fiction or not. That's my excuse. Fantasy is a far lovelier word.