[In Bullet Points] The Fall of Five by Pittacus Lore

The Fall of Five
(Lorien Legacies #4)
Author: Pittacus Lore
Publisher: Penguin UK
Publication Date: August 27th, 2013
Pages: 342 (UK Paperback)
Genre: YA – Adventure, Paranormal, Science-Fiction

I thought things would change when I found the others.
We would stop running. We would fight the Mogadorians. And we would win.
But I was wrong. Even though we have come together, we barely escaped from them with our lives. And now we’re in hiding, figuring out our next move.
The six of us are powerful — but not strong enough to take on their entire army. We haven’t discovered the full extent of our Legacies. We haven’t learned to work together. Time is running out, and there’s only one thing we know for certain: we need to find Number Five before they do.
They caught Number One in Malaysia. Number Two in England. And Number Three in Kenya. I am Number Four. I was supposed to be next.
But I am still alive.

The battle is far from over.

In bullet points…

What I liked:

  • Most of the characters, like the badass and practical Six, the violent-loving and blunt Nine, the kind-hearted Marina and OMG EIGHT! Marina didn’t really stand out for me in the previous books but I grew to love her character and friendly personality. OH AND I NEED MORE EIGHT!!
  • The romance between Marina and Eight is so heartbreaking considering what happen at the end of the book :’( I NEED MORE OF THEM…
  • The climax of the book is so tense and action-packed, unlike the first 80%. I think it’s the best part of the book. There’s a surprising revelation that left me “WTF YOU KIDDING ME? NO WAY NO WAYYY?! WHERE’S BOOK 5???”
  • The writing works really well with action scenes!

What I didn’t like:

  • The dominating romance. Part of the reason why the last 20% is so badass is because nothing actually happens before. The first 80% is romance-filled and drama-filled. Some of the events I had been waiting for since the previous books happen just like THAT and I was like “that’s it? THAT’S IT?? SERIOUSLY?!” I expected more…. :/ 
  • Some of the characters like Sarah (yes, I still hate her until now) and Five. I WANNA PUNCH FIVE IN THE FACE!! And John (Number Four) is the leader-like guy in the book but he just seems too perfect and I found his character less likable. It felt like he gets the spotlight far too often from the previous books until now. However, I’d like to see his future development after witnessing THAT EVENT at the end of the book.
  • The writing felt like telling instead of showing at the non-battle parts. I think some dialogues aren’t necessary and rather useless. 

Conclusion:

Lorien Legacies series is indeed going downhill. The plot feels like a drag and I think it would have been better to make this series a trilogy instead of adding more books and ends up dragging the story. I was at the brink of giving The Fall of Five two stars due to the dominating romance but this book is saved by awesome characters (mostly) and the last 20%. Plus, in the end The Fall of Five gave me the urgency to read the next book (which will be released next year ._.) and SOOOO MANY FEELS!!!

[Review] Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

Shadow and Bone
(The Grisha #1)
Author: Leigh Bardugo
First Published: May 17th, 2012 by Henry Holt BYR
Pages: 372 (Paperback)
Genre: YA – Adventure, Fantasy

Alina Starkov doesn’t expect much from life. Orphaned by the Border Wars, she is sure of only one thing: her best friend, Mal–and her inconvenient crush on him. Until the day their army regiment enters the Fold, a swath of unnatural darkness crawling with monsters. When their convoy is attacked and Mal is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power not even she knew existed.
Ripped from everything she knows, Alina is taken to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling. With Alina’s extraordinary power in his arsenal, he believes they can finally destory the Fold. Now Alina must find a way to master her untamed gift and somehow fit into her new life without Mal by her side. But nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. As the threat to the kingdom mounts and her dangerous attraction to the Darkling grows, Alina will uncover a secret that could tear her heart–and her country–in two.

Review

Even before reading Shadow and Bone, I was already sure that I would like this book. Fantasy is one genre that rarely disappoints me and this one does sound totally epic. The fact that two of my favorite authors (Rick Riordan and Veronica Roth) blurbed this book made me super excited and nervous at the same time! Despite my high expectations and many raving reviews I have seen on various blogs, Shadow and Bone was definitely not a disappointment!

Leigh Bardugo has created a world so beautiful and mesmerizing that I can’t help to be fascinated the whole time. I think the Russian culture goes really well with the atmosphere of this book – dark and chilling. Well, the terms/places may be hard to pronounce (I seriously have no idea how to say those words! Kribirsk, Balakirev, etc… I just pronounce them like how an Indonesian would lol) but it was easy to keep up with all of them and it didn’t take much time until I was fully engulfed in the story.

The plot was extremely well done, not a single time I felt bored and the writing successfully painted the scenes in my head. Alina isn’t the most kick-ass heroine, but she is definitely a very reliable narrator. I thought she would be this typical YA girl who is plain, unloved, and ends up being the savior but unexpectedly, I was able to connect with her fear and insecurities, and one thing that impressed me was her great and perfectly-paced character development – it isn’t a sudden change, rather a step-by-step transformation. I also liked how dark and mysterious and unpredictable the Darkling is, I couldn’t guess his true intentions! I think he’s my favorite character from the book. The twists… the revelations… I adore this book! I can’t believe I started it soooo late! Shadow and Bone was truly a promising start of a series. I am very curious how things will turn out in the second book!

Plus, when I opened this book for the first time, there was a beautiful map:

Despite having a few cliches, my overall experience was not ruined. Shadow and Bone really stands out above other typical YA books. With its uniqueness, it crosses the borders of genres and creates an exquisite read that will satisfy any readers who are craving for exotic fantasy and adventure story.

[Review] The Mark of Athena by Rick Riordan

This review is of a re-read, I originally read this book in 2012.

The Mark of Athena
(Heroes of Olympus #3)
Author: Rick Riordan
Publisher: Hyperion Books
Publication Date: October 2nd, 2012
Pages: 586 (Paperback)
Genre: MG – Adventure, Fantasy

Annabeth is terrified. Just when she’s about to be reunited with Percy—after six months of being apart, thanks to Hera—it looks like Camp Jupiter is preparing for war. As Annabeth and her friends Jason, Piper, and Leo fly in on the Argo II, she can’t blame the Roman demigods for thinking the ship is a Greek weapon. With its steaming bronze dragon masthead, Leo’s fantastical creation doesn’t appear friendly. Annabeth hopes that the sight of their praetor Jason on deck will reassure the Romans that the visitors from Camp Half-Blood are coming in peace.

And that’s only one of her worries. In her pocket Annabeth carries a gift from her mother that came with an unnerving demand: Follow the Mark of Athena. Avenge me. Annabeth already feels weighed down by the prophecy that will send seven demigods on a quest to find—and close— the Doors of Death. What more does Athena want from her?

Annabeth’s biggest fear, though, is that Percy might have changed. What if he’s now attached to Roman ways? Does he still need his old friends? As the daughter of the goddess of war and wisdom, Annabeth knows she was born to be a leader, but never again does she want to be without Seaweed Brain by her side.

Narrated by four different demigods, The Mark of Athena is an unforgettable journey across land and sea to Rome, where important discoveries, surprising sacrifices, and unspeakable horrors await. Climb aboard the Argo II, if you dare…


Review
Oh, man. Seriously, Rick Riordan? THAT ending… This is the second time I read The Mark of Athena but that cliffhanger never fails to frustrate me. Good thing that The House of Hades is coming out in a few months and the cover will be revealed this week! Okay, onto the review.

Rick Riordan does it again. He has crafted this book (or this series) masterfully that you can’t help but being thrilled and basically all sorts of emotions while reading the seven demigods’ adventure to stop Gaia and her minions from destroying the world. The Mark of Athena has no less (or maybe more) action, humor and mystery than the previous books, but I have to admit this book has more romance than its predecessors since Percy is reunited with Annabeth, Piper and Jason are together now and Leo, Hazel and Frank are caught in a love triangle. The plot undoubtedly has no dull moments cause they keep facing dangers throughout their journey. I mean, once a problem is solved and the characters have a breath of air, another problem appears and that keeps happening until the end of the book. So. Many. Actions.

Now, let me talk about the characters cause I love them so much.

Percy is still Percy. I love him. He’s funny and protective. I enjoyed his POV. However, now he has to adapt to the fact that he’s no longer the “spotlight” — or leader or whatever you want to call it — in the group cause Jason is also a natural-born leader and some of them haven’t even met Percy before. In the beginning their relationship might be a little bumpy but gradually they start to trust each other more and work together well when facing enemies. Percy also develops a fear after his last bad experience with the Earth in The Son of Neptune and I think it adds another layer to Percy’s character, which is good cause it shows that he’s not that perfect after all. I like characters with flaws.

We finally get Annabeth’s POV! She’s one of my favorite characters from PJO series (I have quite a lot) and this time we get to see the world from her eyes. In this book, Annabeth has a really important role to unite the camps and heal her mother’s grudge toward the Romans. Annabeth has to follow the Mark of Athena to its source and her succeeding could change the course of war against Gaia, making this book has two plots (?): one about the seven’s journey to save Nico who is trapped in Rome, and the other about Annabeth following the Mark of Athena. I always know that she’s brave, smart and determined. But here she proves that she can overcome her fear and you don’t have to win by muscle, you can win by your intelligence.

I remember that I wasn’t a fan of Piper and bored with every of her chapters in The Lost Hero. But here she seems to improve a lot. I think I like her more. Although she’s not that good in direct combat, she saves the crew a few times thanks to her great strategies and now she earns my respect. I’m looking forward to her future development cause to be honest, I think she’s the least developed character of the seven.

Leo… Ah, my baby Leo. Probably the only guy who is funnier than Percy in this series. He never fails to make me laugh with his good sense of humor and never fails to make me sympathize with him. I think he’s an awesome character — apart from his unique ability — but he just doesn’t realize how great he is. He always feels like an outsider and I felt like giving him a hug at some point. I hope he’ll build himself confidence in the future and won’t blame himself for every problem. And he seems to have a tendency of falling in love with a girl he has no chance with. Rick Riordan, you’d better let him get a girl.

Speaking of Leo, he’s caught in a love triangle with Hazel and Frank. I really like Hazel and Frank but I’m really confused with whom Hazel should end up with. She’s cool and mature for her age. I’m a huge fan of Leo but after I re-read The Son of Neptune a few weeks ago, my love for Frank is growing as well. Rick Riordan better give a good resolution to this triangle. Perhaps get Leo a girl so Frank and Hazel can be together??

Same as Piper, I wasn’t the biggest fan of Jason in The Lost Hero. In this book I guess I started to like him more. Maybe because he can be funny and reliable sometimes even though he gets knocked out quite a lot in the beginning. And Coach Hedge! I kinda miss Grover (where the heck is he?) and the other character from Camp Half-Blood, such as Clarisse. But Coach Hedge gives a good entertainment and a few set of giggles throughout the book with his silly attitude.

Honestly I thought The Mark of Athena is the best of the series so far. Narrated by Annabeth, Leo, Piper and Percy, it has actions, humor, romance, mystery and heart-pounding moments. Of course, I can’t wait for The House of Hades, especially because of THAT ending and I’m sure Nico will have an important role ahead, assuming the title and his promise to Percy.

Rating:
5 Cakes!

[Mini Reviews] The Son of Neptune & Requiem

Hey! I re-read The Son of Neptune a couple weeks ago and haven’t written a review for it. I just finished Requiem last Saturday but I was too lazy to write a proper review so that’s why I wrote mini reviews for them!

(Heroes of Olympus #2)
by Rick Riordan
MG – Adventure, Fantasy
Percy is confused. When he awoke from his long sleep, he didn’t know much more than his name. Somehow he has managed to make it to a camp for half-bloods, but it doesn’t ring any bells with him. The only thing he can recall from his past is another name: Annabeth.

Hazel is supposed to be dead. When she lived before, she didn’t do a very good job out of it. Now, because of a mistake she made back then, the future of the world is at risk. Hazel wishes she could rise away all on the stallion that appears in her dreams.

Frank is a klutz. His grandmother says he is descended from heroes, but he doesn’t see it. His bulky physique makes him feel like an ox, especially in front of Hazel, his closest friend. He trusts her completely – enough to share the secret he holds close to his heart.

Beginning at the “other” camp for half-bloods and extending as far as the land beyond the gods, this breathtaking second installment in the Heroes of Olympus series introduces new demigods, revives fearsome monsters, and feature other remarkable creatures, all destined to play a part in the Prophecy of Seven.
Review
This is the second time I read The Son of Neptune and it was still amazing. In fact, I think I loved this book even more after re-reading. I liked Hazel and Frank more. I actually felt for Hazel, when she had those flashbacks, and her character developed well until the end of the book. I appreciated her bravery and her determination to protect the ones she loves. I sympathize with Frank and what I liked the most from him was his commitment to put duty first before his own life. He also became more confident in the end as he accepted his weaknesses and realized that he, too, has a gift. Before, I thought that Percy was the highlight of this book but now I realized that Hazel and Frank are as important as he is. Each character has his/her own moment to shine. The plot was unquestionably full of actions and I thoroughly enjoyed this book despite knowing the ending and all. I got to pick up the little things I missed and I was struck when I spot a few quotes that might foresee the future in the next books. And that made makes me scared. 🙁 But this book also gave me a good amount of humor. 🙂

5 Cakes!

***
(Delirium #3)
by Lauren Oliver
YA – Dystopia, Romance

As her country erupts in open rebellion, Lena fights for the resistance and must make a heartbreaking choice between two loves.
After saving Julian from a death sentence, Lena escapes with him and other members of the resistance. But as she embraces her love for Julian, a boy from her past returns and causes her to question everything.
In the meantime, Lena’s best friend, Hana, is engaged to Portland’s young mayor and is living a safe, proscribed, loveless life. The story is told from both Lena and Hana’s points of view.
As Lena struggles to save the people she loves, everything comes to a head in this exciting finale to Lauren Oliver’s epic trilogy. Requiem is a sophisticated, wide-ranging novel that explores the large issues of society, government, and resistance, and of course, there is romance.

Review
I really loved Delirium. And I thought Pandemonium was not as good as Delirium, but still loved it anyway. As for Requiem… You could say that I was disappointed. There were still elements that made me fall in love with this series in the first place (for example: beautiful writing). But there were also things that made Requiem less enjoyable for me. I felt the pacing in the beginning was slow to the point I almost wanted to throw this book away and do something else instead. Requiem is told in Lena’s and Hana’s POVs. I could distinguish who is who, but at times I thought the multiple POVs were useless. I would rather have a single POV, although Hana’s POV was quite interesting sometimes. The love triangle didn’t really work for me. The love interests were likable in the previous books but in this… I didn’t feel anything for them until the end I was leaning towards Alex (again). Speaking of the ending, most people thought it was disappointing. However I, surprisingly, was quite satisfied by it. I mean, when I first reached the ending I was like, “What?? Did it just end? That was the ending?” *checked the pages afterwards and found nothing other than the acknowledgement* Lots of questions popped up on my mind but not long after that, I actually felt pleased. 🙂

3 Cakes!

[Review] Graceling by Kristin Cashore

Graceling
(Graceling Realm / The Seven Kingdoms #1)
Author: Kristin Cashore
Publisher: Harcourt
Pages: 471 (Hardcover)
Genre: YA Fiction – Adventure, Fantasy, Romance

Summary
His eyes, Katsa had never seen such eyes. One was silver, and the other, gold. They glowed in his sun-darkened face, uneven, and strange. She was surprised that they hadn’t shone in the darkness of their first meeting. They didn’t seem human….

Then he raised his eyebrows a hair, and his mouth shifted into the hint of a smirk. He nodded at her, just barely, and it released her from her spell.

Cocky, she thought. Cocky and arrogant, this one, and that was all there was to make of him. Whatever game he was playing, if he expected her to join him he would be disappointed.

In a world where people born with an extreme skill—called a Grace—are feared and exploited, Katsa carries the burden of the skill even shedespises: the Grace of killing. She lives under the command of her uncle Randa, King of the Middluns, and is expected to execute his dirty work, punishing and torturing anyone who displeases him.

When she first meets Prince Po, who is Graced with combat skills, Katsa has no hint of how her life is about to change.

She never expects to become Po’s friend.

She never expects to learn a new truth about her own Grace—or about a terrible secret that lies hidden far away…a secret that could destroy all seven kingdoms with words alone.

Review
I was skeptical about Graceling after I started reading it. The beginning was painfully confusing and I had a hard time to focus on this book. And I still have issues with the names. I have no idea how to pronounce some of them correctly. However, the plot gets more and more exciting each page and I ended up enjoying this more than I thought I would – I dragged myself through Part One; I was grinning from ear to ear in Part Two; And I found myself pleased with the ending in Part Three (not exactly the kind that I wanted but it’s still good). Too bad I accidentally spoiled myself so this book was less surprising to me.

The concept is pretty interesting. In this world there are seven kingdoms. Some people are gifted with certain abilities called Grace and the main sign is having different eye color (you could say heterochromia). The idea of various kinds of Grace intrigued me throughout the book. Unfortunately, we are not told enough background and I was quite disappointed cause the Grace is not deeply explored in this book. I want more…

Katsa strongly reminded me of Katniss from The Hunger Games. I mean, they even have similar names. (I just realized that Po is Peeta and Giddon is Gale. I have NO intention of comparing these two series other than the names.) At first I hardly could connect with Katsa but gradually I started to like her. She’s graced with the ability to kill and she’s – as I expected – totally kick-ass. The other characters, like Po, Bitterblue and Raffin, are remarkable as well.

What let me down is the way Katsa and Po’s relationship turns out. I mean, there’s nothing wrong with not being married but I was hoping that Katsa would change at the end of the book. Anyway, that also proves that Kristin Cashore has created a consistent and firm character in spite of my disappointment.


Graceling is totally worth reading (and the perplexing beginning in my case), especially if you enjoy fantasy books in unique settings!

Rating: 
4 Cakes!