Since I do not have a Time-Turner, a TARDIS, or a cloning machine, I just do not have time to write a full review for all of the books that I read. So, I have decided to write mini-reviews to discuss the books that I do not have as much to say about. That does not mean that I did not like these books, but sometimes, as creative and amazing as my brain is, I just cannot think of that much to write about a book.
This installment of mini reviews deal my various book disappointments. It includes a hyped debut novel without a sturdy foundation, a fantasy novel that was 200 pages too long, and a contemporary with characters that could not make up their minds.
Rebel of the Sands
By Alwyn Hamiliton
Rebel of the Sands #1
Published March 8, 2016
Young Adult, Fantasy, Western
She’s more gunpowder than girl—and the fate of the desert lies in her hands.Rebel of the Sands was an anticipated book for many people, including me, which might have caused my disappointment. When I am excited for something, my expectations normally soar really high. But I was ultimately disappointed by the lack of depth in the characters and the unnatural juxtaposition of settings.
Mortals rule the desert nation of Miraji, but mystical beasts still roam the wild and barren wastes, and rumor has it that somewhere, djinni still practice their magic. But there's nothing mystical or magical about Dustwalk, the dead-end town that Amani can't wait to escape from.
Destined to wind up "wed or dead," Amani’s counting on her sharpshooting skills to get her out of Dustwalk. When she meets Jin, a mysterious and devastatingly handsome foreigner, in a shooting contest, she figures he’s the perfect escape route. But in all her years spent dreaming of leaving home, she never imagined she'd gallop away on a mythical horse, fleeing the murderous Sultan's army, with a fugitive who's wanted for treason. And she'd never have predicted she'd fall in love with him... or that he'd help her unlock the powerful truth of who she really is.
For starters, I did not really understand the world-building. I went into the book thinking it would be a western/cowboy type of deal, but I was extremely confused with the mixture of environments. It was like a smoothie with too many fruits in it. If you keep adding more fruits, the flavor of the smoothie will blend until you are not even sure it is a smoothie anymore.
While I enjoyed Hamilton's attempt to originality, I believe that the world-building (especially explaining the hows and whys of her world) needed to be drastically improved. There was a lot going on without a lot of explanation.
Hamilton did a great job of creating new characters, but I wished that they had more to them. I was also disappointed with the quality of the characters. I feel as if Hamilton went for quantity instead of quality with the characters. I only felt that I really knew Amani and the rest of the characters went by in a blur. It was hard to connect to any of them since new people were being introduced every other page.
Overall, I was disappointed in this debut novel. Even though the setting was unique, the originally was negated by the confusion caused by the lack of world-building. While there was a diverse cast of characters, I never really connected to any of them since their time in the limelight was short.
By Danielle L. Jensen
The Malediction Trilogy #1
Published on April 1, 2014
Young Adult, Fantasy
For five centuries, a witch’s curse has bound the trolls to their city beneath the mountain. When Cécile de Troyes is kidnapped and taken beneath the mountain, she realises that the trolls are relying on her to break the curse.
Cécile has only one thing on her mind: escape. But the trolls are clever, fast, and inhumanly strong. She will have to bide her time…
But the more time she spends with the trolls, the more she understands their plight. There is a rebellion brewing. And she just might be the one the trolls were looking for...
Trolls are not really a topic approached often in YA books, so I was willing to give Stolen Songbird a chance. I give Danielle Jensen brownie points for writing about such a unique cast of characters. But now I am starting to understand why it is not a popular topic.
In short, Stolen Songbird disappointed me.
The beginning was strong with good world-building and foundation characters. The troll magic was unlike most other fantasy worlds. I was interested in the world and how the plot was going to reveal itself. But then I was waiting, and waiting, and waiting.
This book was like a rollercoaster that had one thrilling drop in the beginning, but progressively got slower as the ride went on. This is the opposite of how a book should be to me. I can handle a slow beginning that picks up toward the middle and the end, but I am irked by books that sag in the middle.
I also thought that the romance was a bit too forced (literally and metaphorically). I loved Cecile and Tristan as separate characters, but they did not make a stellar couple. The novel (all 469 pages of it) were too focused on their angsty relationship and woes instead of the actual problem.
At this point, I am not sure if I am going to continue the series or not.
Scarlet Epstein Hates it Here
By Anna Breslaw
Published on April 19, 2016
Young Adult, Contemporary
Meet Scarlett Epstein, BNF (Big Name Fan) in her online community of fanfiction writers, world-class nobody at Melville High. Her best (read: only) IRL friends are Avery, a painfully shy and annoyingly attractive bookworm, and Ruth, her weed-smoking, possibly insane seventy-three-year-old neighbor.
When Scarlett’s beloved TV show is canceled and her longtime crush, Gideon, is sucked out of her orbit and into the dark and distant world of Populars, Scarlett turns to the fanfic message boards for comfort. This time, though, her subjects aren’t the swoon-worthy stars of her fave series—they’re the real-life kids from her high school. And if they ever find out what Scarlett truly thinks about them, she’ll be thrust into a situation far more dramatic than anything she’s ever seen on TV…
A couple of things about this book really irritated me.
1. The main character
Scarlett was annoying, and least to me. She was completely indecisive and a general slacker. I hate how she treated her best friend and her best friend's sister, as well as the boy that she supposedly loved since childhood (but more on that later). There was no growth for her over the novel--she started the book a self-centered teen and ended as a mostly self-centered teen.
2. Lack of information and closure
I would have enjoyed this book a lot more if I had more information about the TV series that Scarlett was writing fan fiction about. Nothing about the show was explained except that it had something to do with werewolves, which confused me since all of her stories were about robots. I did not see how they connected.
Scarlett's relationship with her father was also a pressure point for me. I was rooting for them to repair their relationship and see some sweet father-daughter action. But my wish never came true. She just ended the book with a sense of anger and resentment toward her father, which is not the best role model for other teens.
3. The romance
I wanted to strangle the love interest by the end of the book. He was so flippy floppy and COULD NOT MAKE UP HIS MIND! To be fair, neither could Scarlett, so I guess they were equally frustrating. Their feelings for each other changed every chapter, and I was tired of keeping track of whether or not they liked each other or not.
Have you read any of these books? If so, what did you think of them? Do you prefer books that are slower in the beginning or the middle? Do you get annoyed when love interests cannot decide which side of the triangle they want to be on?