Sunday, May 26, 2013

{Review} Ink by Amanda Sun

Title: Ink
Author: Amanda Sun
Format: Netgalley egalley
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Release date: June 25th, 2013
Date ReadApril 10th through 12th 2013
Rating: ✭
I looked down at the paper, still touching the tip of my shoe. I reached for it, flipping the page over to look. 

Scrawls of ink outlined a drawing of a girl lying on a bench.

A sick feeling started to twist in my stomach, like motion sickness.

And then the girl in the drawing turned her head, and her inky eyes glared straight into mine.

On the heels of a family tragedy, the last thing Katie Greene wants to do is move halfway across the world. Stuck with her aunt in Shizuoka, Japan, Katie feels lost. Alone. She doesn’t know the language, she can barely hold a pair of chopsticks, and she can’t seem to get the hang of taking her shoes off whenever she enters a building.

Then there’s gorgeous but aloof Tomohiro, star of the school’s kendo team. How did he really get the scar on his arm? Katie isn’t prepared for the answer. But when she sees the things he draws start moving, there’s no denying the truth: Tomo has a connection to the ancient gods of Japan, and being near Katie is causing his abilities to spiral out of control. If the wrong people notice, they'll both be targets.

Katie never wanted to move to Japan—now she may not make it out of the country alive.

I've been really wondering if I read the right book or if I somehow got sent a different book on accident. It's seems like the most logical explanation for this failure I read. The real INK just can't be this bad, right? 

... right?

The reason INK was so bad was because it was so average. There wasn't anything unique about it other than the premise of paper gods. It's a very standard YA paranormal romance that deviates very little from the set of "rules" that much of the genre follows. Y'know, this stuff:

- someone moves into new town

This step is a must because how else are you going to find an awesome, mysterious guy that the heroine doesn't know? While the love interest can be the one to move to the town, it is much preferred to have the heroine move as to add to her outcasty, uniqueness. durh

- girl has trouble at school

This is also a must. The girl must have enemies so add a popular girl and get some stupid and silly reason for her to utterly despise the main character. Sometimes there isn't even a reason really.

- "best friends"

These "best friends" usually have zero personality and are used as filler material. There isn't any real reason for them other than nice and cheap plot and character development. Often they are used to push the heroine into the love interest.

- the heroine must bump into a hot paranormal dude

The sad part about this is that when I say, "bumps into", I mean quite literally as the heroine usually falls into the love interest. I'm quite certain that every one of these guys have the power to somehow make the force of gravity stronger on these heroines. 


INK fits into every one of these categories and more. It's like Amanda Sun had a pile of clichés and very poorly stitched them together. The main character, Katie, not only moves into a new town, she moves into a new country and continent. 

Wow, way to take that nice and far. 

While you can't often escape clichés and tropes, I really hate when the entire book is such walking cliché like INK is. There isn't a single point that makes this book even sort of redeemable unless you count the fact that it's set in Japan. Katie is an extremely annoying character and the romance is so insta that you just need to add water.

Katie is, for the most part, a bland Mary Sue. She can't lie at all. This character point is actually really depressing if you count the fact that it's one of the first things that come to mind when I think of her. She loves to endanger her life - y'know because you obviously it's a perfect idea to stalk a guy who supposedly beat up his best friend. She often morphs into possessive stalker a la Lucinda Price. She's also got a habit of being incredibly overdramatic:

I stared at him, my hands shaking. I'd been standing until then, but my legs buckled under me and I sank down to my knees beside him. I opened and closed my mouth, but no sound.- 21% in ARC

What elicited this response? He told her that his mother is dead. She was having a completely normal conversation and then all of a sudden, she just falls to the ground. Guys, read the passage in a really dramatic voice and picture that. It's so hilarious.

Tomo is pretty bland as a character. He's supposed to be this awesome hunk with an equally awesome personality but tbh, he's more of a hot guy than anything else. He doesn't have any qualities that jump out at you, whether they are positive or negative. He's a nonentity that I really don't care about.

The one fairly redeeming quality that saved this book from a disgusted DNF was the setting and the lore. I am the biggest lore sucker there ever was. I live for it. The lore behind the paranormal aspect of INK was interesting enough to keep me reading. 

If Sun had focused on this aspect instead of the romance, the book would have been so much better and actually would have lived up to the hype.

The writing was fairly average for the most part but I really enjoyed the s
equences that described Tomo's art. They really felt like what I thought the book would be like. 

This book has so much wasted potential that it almost makes me sad to think about it. It could have been so amazing if it weren't for the averageness of the story, it could have gotten a much higher rating. I cannot recommend this to anyone and I won't be reading the sequel.

Lisbeth is an American teenager who enjoys blowing shit up in videogames and discussing decapitation in great detail. She's also obsessed with Oceana, but you're not supposed to know that.

{Review} When We Wake by Karen Healy

Title: When We Wake
Author: Karen Healy
Format: Library hardcover
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Release date: March 5th, 2013
Date ReadApril 18th 2013
Rating: ✭✭✭✭✭
Sixteen-year-old Tegan is just like every other girl living in 2027—she's happiest when playing the guitar, she's falling in love for the first time, and she's joining her friends to protest the wrongs of the world: environmental collapse, social discrimination, and political injustice.

But on what should have been the best day of Tegan's life, she dies—and wakes up a hundred years later, locked in a government facility with no idea what happened. The future isn't all she had hoped it would be, and when appalling secrets come to light, Tegan must make a choice: Does she keep her head down and survive, or fight for a better world?

The only reason I read this book was because of Renae's review. I couldn't have been any less interested in the book, to be honest. It sounded like another boring dystopian with a hint of ACROSS THE UNIVERSE.

I'm so happy to say that WHEN WE WAKE was different from everything I'd ever read in the genre. Dystopian and science fiction are my favorite genres, and have been ever since I was a kid. I don't often get lucky with them however and I tend to find most of my favorite books in the fantasy and contemporary genres.

I got lucky.

WHEN WE WAKE is set in 2127 where the world is very different from how it is now. But in a good way (for the most part). The world is greener, for one. Mankind learned to live by the land and follow the three 'R's of recycling. Homosexual love isn't viewed any different than heterosexual love - which is awesome. Yet the world is certainly not perfect as racial tensions are higher than ever.

I guess Lennon's 'Imagine' world hasn't happened yet.

Tegan wakes up to this world - like she literally woke up. She was cryogenically frozen for 100 years after being accidentally shot and 'killed'. This is the point where you have to just go with the flow. It doesn't make any sense that Tegan could sign up for being frozen without actually knowing what she was signing up for.

Tegan faces the obvious cultural shock of walking up a hundred years into the future, not to mention the grief that comes with the realization that all of Tegan's friends and family have been dead for a very long time. She also faces the trouble that comes with being the first successful awakened person, target of a cult, and being used by various institutions and people.

Thankfully, Tegan is more than apt to care of herself. She's one of my all time favorite heroines. Tegan is strong and willful. She's definitely not afraid to speak her mind when and wherever she chooses. 

"It was the truth," I said.
"Truth! We didn't put you on camera to speak the truth! We needed a pretty face!"
"Well, tough," I snapped. "You got me instead. I guess your little clockwork doll broke down."
-page 189

"I am so tired of being used. The army tried to do it, Tatia tried to do it, and now you're trying to do it. I'm a person, not a symbol, not property, and not a prop. If you want me dead, I can't stop you, but I won't make it easier for you either. Dirty your own fucking hands."
-page 273

The quotes remind me a bit too much of MOCKINGJAY, the finale in the Hunger Games series. Katniss was being used by both the rebels and the formal government for much of the book. What disappointed me was how well Katniss took it. All I wanted was for her to say what Tegan did. 

She didn't.

I really love Tegan even though it's not like she was ever the most original character. I like that about her in this case. People can be brave without being a superhero - it's actually possible. Tegan was a brave, wonderful girl who wasn't a superhero, nor did she try to be. I think she was perfect without being... perfect.

While the book deals with a lot of really serious and deep issues like racial discrimination, Healey doesn't fill her entire book with that. She instead fills her time with needed character development and the most important thing to any book - character interaction. Each and every one of Healy's characters are well rounded. I feel like Bethari, Joph, and the others could be in my life and that they could be my friends.

What I truly love about the characters is how different they are. They all come from different religious backgrounds, ethnicities, and sexual orientations. This is very much lacking in most YA (and Adult) literature. The characters are usually white, very rarely anything other than a Christian or an Atheist, and straight. There is nothing wrong with white Christian straight people but I do really love when authors add characters that break the average mold. 

Tegan and the other characters were definitely my favorite aspect to the book but the moral and ethical problems that were introduced were another one of my favorites. There are a few that I wish were more elaborated on but for the most part, I felt that they were a very nice addition to the book. 

Before I end the review, I want to say that I, like some other reviewers, am very sad to hear that there is a sequel to WHEN WE WAKE in the works. I found the ending perfect for the book and wouldn't want it any other way. I will probably end up reading the sequel just because I want more Tegan but I highly doubt it will be anything like WHEN WE WAKE. But then again, you never know. Healy is probably talented enough to pull it off.

WHEN WE WAKE is an intelligent, beautiful dystopian that really challenges the norm of dystopian novels. With this book, I have a bit more hope that, just maybe, other authors will realize that there is more to dystopian fiction then love triangles. I recommend this book with all my heart and will be seeking out Healy's other books.

Lisbeth is an American teenager who enjoys blowing shit up in videogames and discussing decapitation in great detail. She's also obsessed with Oceana, but you're not supposed to know that.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

{Review} Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare

Title: Clockwork Princess
Author: Cassandra Clare
Format: Hardcover
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Release date: March 19, 2013
Date Read: March 19, 2013 - April 13, 2013
Rating: ✭✭✭✭✭
Tessa Gray should be happy - aren't all brides happy?
Yet as she prepares for her wedding, a net of shadows begins to tighten around the Shadowhunters of the London Institute.
A new demon appears, one linked by blood and secrecy to Mortmain, the man who plans to use his army of pitiless automatons, the Infernal Devices, to destroy the Shadowhunters. Mortmain needs only one last item to complete his plan. He needs Tessa. And Jem and Will, the boys who lay equal claim to Tessa's heart, will do anything to save her.

I can dislike Cassandra Clare, her MORTAL INSTRUMENTS series, and what she's done for however long I'd like, but that doesn't mean I don't absolutely adore this series. I won't feel ashamed for loving THE INFERNAL DEVICES. I refuse. 

This is one of my favorite series, and nothing will change that.

I read CLOCKWORK PRINCESS very slowly. I don't know why; perhaps it was because I didn't want to finish it, maybe it was because I was in a reading slump, or more likely: I just wasn't interested.

It took over a month of staring at the book, picking it up, and putting it back down before I forced myself to open it up, for realthis time, and start over.

And once I was sucked in, that was the end. I stayed up late at night reading; I skipped the first few minutes of class to hide in corner of the bathroom and finish the chapter; I stopped watching GAME OF THRONES for a few days just so I could reach the end.

The day I finished was one of the most miserable days in my existence. It wasn't just the book, though that contributed for sure. I pushed a chair against my door, and curling up in my bed, threw the covers over my head and began to cry. I sobbed and sniffled pathetically for at least an hour, and then I took a shower and went to bed at nine. I had a horrible nightmare and woke up sweating.

CLOCKWORK ANGEL has a special place in my heart, because it was one of the first books I ever 'reviewed' when I joined the blogosphere. I fell in love with the characters, and the story, and the writing when it wasn't riddled with hundreds of similes and metaphors.

I was fearful that CLOCKWORK PRINCESS would disappoint me and cause me unnecessary stress and sadness. 

It didn't disappoint me, not at all, but it sure devastated me.

CLOCKWORK PRINCESS wraps up the whole series lovingly and grievingly, sparing none of your emotions and crushing your heart. The conclusion will leave some thrilled and others crying uncontrollably. I, unfortunately, was in the latter group. 

Every character was so carefully detailed and crafted. It was hard for me not to love them all I failed at not adoring them, sorryharder for me not to scream and pull my hair out when bad things happened to them. They were so real, and that will always be Clare's strongest point in writing. They're so realistic; they act like assholes and they make mistakes and they go through the same pain that real people do.

I'd always enjoyed reading about Tessa; she was likable if a little dull, and she developed so much in this book. Looking back at the first book, the difference between past Tessa and current Tessa is unbelievable. 

Same with Will: I hated him with a burning passion at first. You, Will, were hysterical...


By CLOCKWORK PRINCESS, he was nearly unrecognizable. His horrible, prickly exterior had been stripped off, and beneath was a stunningly insecure soul who just needed love. He was still hilariously snarky at times, but it wasn't meant to degrade anyone.

Jem Carstairs has been my favorite literary character of all time since I read CLOCKWORK ANGEL a few years back. His undying sweetness, kindness, and loyalty to Will melted my heart the very first page he was introduced. CLOCKWORK PRINCESS revolves around Jem's illness and the countdown to his death, and that was probably the main reason CLOCKWORK PRINCESS hit me so hard. 

Jem and Will have this love for each other that even Tessa will never be able to interfere with. It's so beautiful and strong and unbreakable. I honestly spent most of my time holding back tears every time they were together.

There was so much angst in CLOCKWORK PRINCESS, and the love triangle was so damn... well, angsty. I was shipping Jill (Jem and Will) by page thirty, and all I wanted them to do was to say FUCK TESSA and elope and adopt beautiful children. Who cares if parabati can't have relationships? Besides being a Jill shipper, I'm also a Wessa shipper but a bigger Jessa shipper, so I was really quite hoping they'd have a threesome and just end it there.

Obviously, it didn't happen in that exact order that didn't happen.

Jem and Tessa have such a beautiful, lasting, strong bond. It's impossible to sever and only gets stronger with time. But Will and Tessa's love is bright and explosive omg I want to say TACO BELL but that's not appropriate and passionate. Tessa is in love with them both, and yes, I think it's possible.

It's like someone asking, "what's your favorite book?" I'm betting over seventy percent of bloggers and readers can't answer that, because they love so many. Tessa has two favorites, because she's a lucky bitch and lucky bitches get what they want.

The love triangle ended in a way that I was half pleased with and half distressed over. 

If you're a Jill shipper, you'll cry.
If you're a Jessa shipper, you'll cry. 
If you're a Wessa shipper, you'll cry. 
If you're a Wemssa shipper, you will definitely cry. 

Either way, you're fucked.

I've always admired Clare for the way she manages to intertwine THE MORTAL INSTRUMENTS with THE INFERNAL DEVICES. All the family trees are kept straight and correct unlike the Warriors series, where Rowanclaw apparently undergoes an operation to turn into a male, and various questions that have appeared in her MORTAL INSTRUMENTS series are answered here. Though, I would love to see her try to manage the family tree with four possible Shadowhunter series. *snorts*

I feel as if Clare saw all the angry status updates a lot of bloggersincluding me were posting up about the SHEER AMOUNT OF SIMILES AND METAPHORS IN THESE GODDAMN BOOKS. Pages and pages of her MORTAL INSTRUMENTS series could've been cut if she had calmed the fuck down with the purple writing. CLOCKWORK PRINCESS shows a growth and maturity in the writing style that I never thought Clare could handle. 

Now, CLOCKWORK PRINCESS is not without its faults. Several parts of it annoyed and frustrated me beyond understanding.

And, of course, that ending. Tears.

CLOCKWORK PRINCESS was an appropriately heart-breaking ending to a beautiful series, and though I'm sad to see it end, I don't think it will be the last time we hear of the trio.

Oceana is a French-blooded teenager who enjoys stalking British boys and asking them to marry her. She was diagnosed with severe fangirl disorder in 2011. Able to curse like a sailor with an angelic voice.