Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Review: Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass #1) by Sarah J. Maas

Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass #1) by Sarah J. Maas
Hardcover, 404 pages
Published August 7th 2012 by Bloomsbury USA Children’s
After serving out a year of hard labor in the salt mines of Endovier for her crimes, 18-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien is dragged before the Crown Prince. Prince Dorian offers her her freedom on one condition: she must act as his champion in a competition to find a new royal assassin.
Her opponents are men—thieves and assassins and warriors from across the empire, each sponsored by a member of the kings council. If she beats her opponents in a series of eliminations, she’ll serve the kingdom for three years and then be granted her freedom.
Celaena finds her training sessions with the captain of the guard, Westfall, challenging and exhilirating. But she’s bored stiff by court life. Things get a little more interesting when the prince starts to show interest in her… but it’s the gruff Captain Westfall who seems to understand her best.
Then one of the other contestants turns up dead… quickly followed by another. Can Celaena figure out who the killer is before she becomes a victim? As the young assassin investigates, her search leads her to discover a greater destiny than she could possibly have imagined. – Goodreads
My Opinion: I really enjoyed this. It was fast paced. Sarah J. Maas really knows how to work the reader so that they continue to read. As the story progressed I made a prediction or guess about a third of the way in the book and I think I am right based on what I read in the end and one specific quote from Elena at the end, I think supports it very well. I liked the love triangle between Calaena, the Crown Prince and the Captain of the Guard. I love how author allowed for Calaena to develop feelings for both but just happened that she feels more for the “forbidden” person. If my prediction is correct… that relationship is even more forbidden and threatening(?) to the royal family.

Now for the plot… I love how it starts that all I have to stay. I love the way that we meet her a death/labor camp and then we see how she transforms herself as she trains and become more like herself or how she used to be before the camp. I love how the story ended. I love that they had to go that far, because of how afraid they were of her abilities. I think that Nehemia and others, must have thought that it was pretty funny that for one little girl there are so many guards following her around. What I was the most impressed with was that she was able to keep her spirit as well as her escape attempt. I think it is amazing that she was able to make it so far as the wall basically while others could only make it three feet. It says a lot about her skills and the fact that she did that after six months in there, says that even more.

My favorite character had to be Calaena without a doubt. I love strong female characters. And Calaena, she is the epitome of that. Some of the things that she does are awesome. She isn’t just fighting skills, she is also extremely clever and smart and knows that to defeat an enemy, she needs to study her opponent and “hit” them where it most hurts. I think that is going to be her plan for the King. Another character that I really liked was Nehemia. She is a beloved princess by her people and that fact that the King was not able to strip her of her title after he conquered the land says something about how much power she truly has. I love that she is mysterious and that she knows how to fight, without others noticing but feeling the pain none the less. Overall, the book was amazing and I can not wait for the next one to come out. I think this is one of the MUST READS of the year.
Overall: 5+ out of 5

Friday, October 19, 2012

A review of M.T. Anderson's "Feed"

Before about three years ago, I had no idea M.T. Anderson had a career outside of writing the maniacally brilliant Thrilling Tales series, which deftly subverted and thoroughly deconstructed the tropes and conventions of 20th century children's literature, and the eerie fantasy novel The Game of   Sunken Places which also gives a spin on old cliches. As I found out, he had also written several edgy books for young adults as well, including the entertaining 18th century literature pastiche Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, the bleak vampire novel Thirsty, and this book. Jeez louise, was I not prepared for this book! It's about a kid who lives in a society where vampiric, oppressive corporations have taken over the world, and are slowly destroying it, through environmental destruction, total impingement of all perceivable civil liberties, and a chip implanted in people's head called "the feed" that is basically a parasitic computer disguised as a part of the brain. He and his girlfriend try to resist the feed, but, in short, it doesn't work.

I thought I was accustomed to dystopian fiction. Of dystopian fiction, I've read  1984, Brave New World, The Hunger Games, the Uglies series, The Giver, and Snow Crash. Make no mistake, whatever their resolution was, these books were depressing. But nothing I've read, dystopian or otherwise was as soul-crushingly dour as this book. It was funny, and well written, but it was also gut-wrenchingly painful.

At the end of Brave New World, 1984, and all the other books I named, there was a spark of hope, or an outright happy ending. At the end of Feed there is none of that. Just suffocating paranoia and despair. Only the skin-crawlingly awful endings of the Series of Unfortunate Events books compare. Even despite its 2002 publishing date, and its Bush-era malaise, it's scarily prescient of the smartphone age, which disturbs me to the core. Although, this book is witty, and well observed, and it captures perfectly a society where the attributes of today's teens were taken to their logical extreme.

There are a lot of blackly hilarious moments, such as the "Hipster Nostalgia Feedback Syndrome", and the "Nike Speech Tattoo", that lighten up the darker moments, but an overwhelming sense of dread really pervades this book. The main character isn't very likable, but he's a product of his environment. Like with a lot of Anderson's books, the other characters aren't very well developed, but they are rounder than other of his books. There were a lot of great, acrid bits in this, but I would have liked this book better if it wasn't just so darn heartbreaking.

Grade: B+