Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Carve the Mark by Veronica Roth (review by Sofie K. '20)

Carve the Mark (Carve the Mark, #1)Carve the Mark by Veronica Roth
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

After the hype and attention that Veronica Roth's Divergent series received, I was very excited to hear about a second series in the works.

Cyra and Akos, like many YA novel characters, are two sides of the same coin. Separated by social class and the races of their people, the two meet when Akos and his brother are captured by the royal Shotet fleet, and delivered right to Cyra's doorstep. Though Cyra is the sister of the tyrant that rules the Shotet people, she rebels against her family out of love for this new stranger. As if the plot wasn't cliche enough, every person on this planet has a special power, or currentgift. Cyra has the power to cause excruciating pain to anyone she touches, which her brother exploits to get information. Akos, on the other hand, has to power to cancel out anyone else's currentgift through contact. The characters conveniently balance each other out, obviously created for one another.

While the book's concept was quite unique, the characters had little to no originality. Cyra and Akos reminded me of a reversed version of Tris and Four; it felt like I was reading the Divergent series all over again. Hopefully, the second book will give the characters their own personalities and develop their stories more. - Sofie K. '20

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Thursday, October 5, 2017

Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier (review by Amelia H. '19)

Daughter of the Forest  (Sevenwaters, #1)Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Daughter of the Forest, a retelling of a classic fairytale, is set in the ancient British Isles. The beginning of the book follows a girl named Sorcha as she grows into a teenager and has to protect her father’s lands from invaders. She is thwarted when an evil sorceress turns her brothers into swans and she has to find a way to change them back. The setup of the book was fascinating, but Sorcha’s character arc is so conventional that I knew how the story would end when I was less than halfway through the book. Marillier’s world-building draws on folk tales and mythology and creates a vivid landscape, but the plot quickly descends into predictability. The story has promise, but anyone even vaguely familiar with fantasy tropes might as well close the book a third of the way through and fill in the rest themselves. - Amelia H. '19

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Monday, September 11, 2017

A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab (review by Angela C. '21)

A Darker Shade of Magic (Shades of Magic, #1)A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

There are four Londons - Grey London, Red London, White London, and Black London. Kell, a Traveler, is one of the few who can move between the cities. Unfortunately, one of his hobbies lands him into a difficult predicament and he has to jump from city to city to fix the problem. He's joined on his adventures by Delilah Bard. "Lila" is a great thief - quick on her feet, has fast, light hands, and notorious in Grey London. All of this changes when she accidentally steals the wrong stone from the wrong man.

Add in a charming prince, a towering castle, a handful of kings and queens, an Enthusiast named Neil, and several royal guards and there’s a perfect story for almost anyone!

I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys reading about magic and needs some entertainment during the school year! - Angela C. '21

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Friday, September 1, 2017

Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh (review by Anya W. '20)

Flame in the Mist (Flame in the Mist, #1)Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The destiny of a samurai's daughter is to marry well to bring honor to the family. Even 17-year-old Mariko is no exception, never mind the fact that she's smart enough to be a step or two ahead of most everyone she meets. But when her convoy to meet the betrothed her father selected for her is attacked and only Mariko survives, she knows that the only way to protect her family's honor is to destroy the ones who attacked her. So, with no way to contact her twin brother, she sets off dressed as a boy in order to infiltrate her only lead: a bandit group called the Black Clan. The thing is... what Mariko finds is a lot closer to family. The novel definitely had some strong elements, from the premise of the plot to more realistic character reactions then some YA novels. However, the author's attempts at creating chemistry between the protagonist and her love interest, while (refreshingly) present, were oft clumsy. Furthermore, the ending of the book, even with the clear set-up for a sequel, feels a bit rushed it would have been nice to have more time with various character and their reactions to recent plot developments. - Anya W. '20

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Thursday, August 31, 2017

Pandemic (The Extinction Files Book #1) by A.G. Riddle (review by Saloni S. '21)

Pandemic (The Extinction Files #1)Pandemic by A.G. Riddle
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Bioterrorism. We’ve read about it in the news, heard from the TV anchors, but have we truly understood the plausibility of a global pandemic from a bioterrorist attack?

In the seven hundred page science fiction novel Pandemic, the first book in the Extinction series, author A.G. Riddle explores our vulnerability to a pandemic in an interconnected, global world; Conner McClain, head of a group of scientists known as “the Citium”, releases a deadly viral strain deep into the heart of the developing countries of Africa. While these events are taking place, protagonists Desmond Hughes, who is struggling to regain his memories, and Peyton Shaw, an epidemiologist at the CDC, scramble to find the cause and cure of this outbreak before it takes even more lives. This well-researched novel takes us deep into the world of the epidemiologists and public health workers who place themselves in danger in order to save the lives of others.

As the disease spreads across continents infecting and killing millions, Shaw and Hughes unveil treacherous secrets hidden deep inside the core of the Citium and tirelessly work to save the human race and to apprehend the criminals behind this deadly attack. Throughout this engaging novel, Riddle combines science and historic facts with the thrill of an action-packed story, further enthralling the reader. By alternating among different characters' points of view, the author intimately communicates the heart-wrenching emotions from each stunning revelation, drawing the reader deeper into the storyline. You won't be able to put this book down.

I read Pandemic on a plane and definitely enjoyed it more than watching movies; the book also makes one appreciate the importance of research and resources invested in the early identification of pathogens and response mechanisms. Overall, Pandemic is a great story and I would definitely recommend this book to a reader who wishes to read an enthralling, informative science fiction novel. I am eagerly looking forward to reading the next book in the series, Genome, which will be released in October this year! - Saloni S. '21

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