[Review] Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead

Vampire Academy
(Vampire Academy #1)
Author: Richelle Mead
Publication: August 16th, 2007 by Razorbill
Page count: 332 (Paperback)
Genre: YA – Paranormal, Romance
Goodreads

St. Vladimir’s Academy isn’t just any boarding school—it’s a hidden place where vampires are educated in the ways of magic and half-human teens train to protect them. Rose Hathaway is a Dhampir, a bodyguard for her best friend Lissa, a Moroi Vampire Princess. They’ve been on the run, but now they’re being dragged back to St. Vladimir’s—the very place where they’re most in danger…
Rose and Lissa become enmeshed in forbidden romance, the Academy’s ruthless social scene, and unspeakable nighttime rituals. But they must be careful lest the Strigoi—the world’s fiercest and most dangerous vampires—make Lissa one of them forever.

Review

This is one of the series my classmate has been pushing me to read (other than 50 Shades of Gray, which I’m so avoiding, by the way, considering that I’m underage) and to be honest, I’m not expecting much from a vampire book.

Turns out, Vampire Academy was surprisingly enjoyable. Right from the start, I knew that Rose and I were going to get along just fine. I love her voice – she is a snarky heroine who isn’t afraid to give assholes a punch when they deserve it. Not only is she a greatly loyal friend, she is also dedicated to her job as Lissa’s guard. On the quite opposite, however, Lissa’s character didn’t particularly stand out for me. She seems to be too dependent, but there are a few moments that made me appreciate her more. The friendship between these two characters is something I definitely loved reading about.

Usually, in YA books, the main character is someone insecure about her appearance, someone who has trouble talking with boys, but she is actually a special person, the only hope blah blah blah. Unfortunately she’s not strong enough yet so she has to be protected blah blah blah – you get the point. I liked that the story is told from Rose’s POV instead of Lissa’s. I’m not saying that Lissa is the typical YA protagonist – which she is not – but it’s just fresh to see a story from a different perspective, if you know what I mean.

To my annoyance, the story seems to contain more high school vampire academy drama. There are people who will do anything to get to the top of popularity ladder, the fake gossip, back-stabbing, etc. I didn’t expect this book to blow my mind, but I also didn’t expect that there would be THIS much of drama. The pacing drags in the middle of the book, but thankfully there’s Rose to keep me interested with her sarcasms and humors. And Christian. Because he’s funny and awesome like this:

Literally.

Goddammit. Not gonna lie, but I liked him better than boring Dimitri. There I said it. To be frank, I found the romance between Dimitri and Rose to be…a little disturbing due to their seven years age gap. I mean, yeah sure “age doesn’t matter” – we all know this phrase but I STILL thought it was pretty creepy… On the contrary, Lissa and Christian are just so cute together <3

I’m sure almost everyone here has read this series. I just wanna say that I hope in the next installment there would be more plot development because that’s what the first book is seriously lacking on.

Note the absence of quotes in this review because (1) I read it in Indonesian translation my friend lent me and (2) I couldn’t find a single good quote. Even when I browsed on Goodreads.

 

[Review] Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

Daughter of Smoke and Bone
(Daughter of Smoke and Bone #1)
Author: Laini Taylor
Publication: September 27th, 2011 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Page count: 418 (Paperback)
Genre: YA – Fantasy, Paranormal, Romance
Goodreads

Around the world, black handprints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky.
In a dark and dusty shop, a devil’s supply of human teeth grown dangerously low.
And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherwordly war.
Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real; she’s prone to disappearing on mysterious “errands”; she speaks many languages–not all of them human; and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she’s about to find out.
When one of the strangers–beautiful, haunted Akiva–fixes his fire-colored eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?

Review

Before starting this series, I’d been highly recommended by a lot of bloggers that this book was amazeballs and the writing was so beautiful it was totally unbelievable how such gorgeousness could exist. To be honest, I was underwhelmed because it took me so long to be fully engrossed in the story.

“She had been innocent once, a little girl playing with feathers on the floor of a devil’s lair. She wasn’t innocent now, but she didn’t know what to do about it. This was her life: magic and shame and secrets and teeth and a deep, nagging hollow at the center of herself where something was most certainly missing.” 

Karou is a great heroine – she is eccentric with her blue hair, tough, independent and definitely not a damsel in distress. She has initiatives and needs no man to save her. However, I’m not gonna lie that I felt completely detached from her most of the time, which made me rather uninterested in the beginning. I didn’t feel like I was her, in her mind, breathing the same Prague air. Instead, I felt like I was only an outsider, watching her from the distant like there was a giant screen in front of me. Moreover, the forbidden romance between Karou and Akiva seems to happen too fast. This, of course, saddened me since I had a huge expectation to begin with.

“Have you ever asked yourself, do monsters make war, or does war make monsters?” 

There isn’t much happening in the first half either. It’s basically an introduction to the world Laini Taylor has created (which I greatly appreciated, by the way). We are kept in the dark, with only bits and bits of clues scattered on the pages. But once everything is unveiled, wow… I mean, WOW… the chimaera world and its exotic creatures were extremely mesmerizing I wanted to cry. The writing is a little tedious during the first half, but the descriptions of the other world are reasonably detailed so it wasn’t hard for me to get lost in it. 

My last complain was the romance. It started too fast, became much more engaging, but near the end it was a tad too dramatic and predictable for my taste. I suppose romance is pretty dominant in this book and it doesn’t take over the WHOLE plot, thank goodness. But I was hoping for more action and badassary so it was a let-down.

I cannot overlook the fact that I was disappointed in a few ways. However, Daughter of Smoke and Bone becomes more and more beautiful the closer we get to the last page. I would recommend this book to people who love beautiful writing and exquisite worldbuilding.

[Review] Pivot Point by Kasie West

Pivot Point
(Pivot Point #1)
Author: Kasie West
Publication: February 12th, 2013 by HarperTeen
Page count: 343 (Paperback)
Genre: YA – Contemporary, Paranormal
Goodreads

Knowing the outcome doesn’t always make a choice easier . . .
Addison Coleman’s life is one big “What if?” As a Searcher, whenever Addie is faced with a choice, she can look into the future and see both outcomes. It’s the ultimate insurance plan against disaster. Or so she thought. When Addie’s parents ambush her with the news of their divorce, she has to pick who she wants to live with—her father, who is leaving the paranormal compound to live among the “Norms,” or her mother, who is staying in the life Addie has always known. Addie loves her life just as it is, so her answer should be easy. One Search six weeks into the future proves it’s not.
In one potential future, Addie is adjusting to life outside the Compound as the new girl in a Norm high school where she meets Trevor, a cute, sensitive artist who understands her. In the other path, Addie is being pursued by the hottest guy in school—but she never wanted to be a quarterback’s girlfriend. When Addie’s father is asked to consult on a murder in the Compound, she’s unwittingly drawn into a dangerous game that threatens everything she holds dear. With love and loss in both lives, it all comes down to which reality she’s willing to live through . . . and who she can’t live without.

Review

Seriously, Pivot Point was almost flawless. It lived up to the hype and I’m so disappointed with myself why I read it SO LATE but then I’m also super glad that I gave it a chance anyway. To be honest, I have no idea how to write this review because I know that it will never do the book any justice, but let’s see my attempt, shall we?

“One little choice can make all the difference.”

Our main character Addie can see the future by living the outcomes of both choices and then she picks the better one. When her parents announce their divorce, Addie is left feeling conflicted about with whom she’s going to stay – with her mother in the “secret society” where she’s always lived, or move with her dad to the outside world – so she does a Search six weeks into the future. Hence, Pivot Point switches between two alternating outcomes. It may sound perplexing but trust me, it wasn’t at all. The only thing that left me slightly confused was the Compound part but anyway, it didn’t take my enjoyment much.

Addie is a fantastic character that I would really love to be friends with. I mean, she’s bookish and cool and I found her narration to be extremely enjoyable. The relationship between Addie and Laila is also worth noting. I liked that their affection toward each other really shows from their interaction despite their mistakes.

From the first time I read the synopsis, I was already drawn in by the fresh premise and fortunately, it was perfectly executed. I loved the way the things are related and seeing things play out differently in both outcomes. And to spice things up a bit, there is a romance in both outcomes. Though I admit, I favored one of them more than the other. It’s just way sweeter and more build-up and definitely something worth investing on and so asdfghjgfdgh;

Having finished Pivot Point and coming out completely loving it, I am SO determined to read the rest of Kasie West’s books. Pivot Point is a promising start of a duology and I absolutely can’t wait to get my hands on Split Second. Hopefully the paperback version will come out quickly so that I’ll have a matching set of the series. HA HA. Or we can just wait till I get too impatient and order the hardcover instead *shrugs* That’s it. I’ve lost my patience. I’m ordering this on my next online purchase.

My review might only be a tiny drop in a sea of 4 and 5 stars reviews, but if you have not started it yet, I will gladly push you to read it. Because people, this thing is jewel. Enough said.

 

[Review] Unbreakable by Kami Garcia

Unbreakable
(The Legion #1)
Author: Kami Garcia
Publisher: Little, Brown Books
Publication Date: October 1st, 2013
Pages: 320 (Paperback)
Genre: YA – Paranormal, Horror

I never believed in ghosts. Until one tried to kill me.
When Kennedy Waters finds her mother dead, her world begins to unravel. She doesn’t know that paranormal forces in a much darker world are the ones pulling the strings. Not until identical twins Jared and Lukas Lockhart break into Kennedy’s room and destroy a dangerous spirit sent to kill her. The brothers reveal that her mother was part of an ancient secret society responsible for protecting the world from a vengeful demon — a society whose five members were all murdered on the same night.
Now Kennedy has to take her mother’s place in the Legion if she wants to uncover the truth and stay alive. Along with new Legion members Priest and Alara, the teens race to find the only weapon that might be able to destroy the demon — battling the deadly spirits he controls every step of the way.
Suspense, romance, and the paranormal meet in this chilling urban fantasy, the first book in a new series from Kami Garcia, bestselling coauthor of the Beautiful Creatures novels.

 

 

Review

Well, I have resolved to venture into genres out of my comfort zone, including horror. I was in the mood for ghost stories and Unbreakable had been on my radar for a while, so I decided to buy it and I must admit it was creepy!!

“I feel asleep thinking about her. Wondering what it would be like to have wings if you were too scared to fly.”

Basically, Unbreakable doesn’t waste time and every chapter ends with a BANG or new revelations. In the beginning, Kennedy discovers that her mother has died of heart failure. Four weeks later, a spirit would have killed her if it hadn’t been for the twins Jared and Lucas. Kennedy finds out that her mother’s sudden death was caused by supernatural forces and that Kennedy is part of a secret group of ghost hunters called the Legion.

The highlight of this book was definitely its fast-moving and exciting plot that kept me flipping the pages. I wasn’t bored at all and I was very intrigued by this Legion thingy. Luckily, the backstories are explained very well without being overly-detailed or perplexing. In addition, some parts were also SCARY! The horror descriptions managed to send chills down to my spine – I definitely regretted reading this at night because I ended up being paranoid for a few days. However, I did feel that some of the clues are a little too convenient – I was expecting something harder and trickier.

Although I felt nothing toward the main character, I really liked reading the interactions between the Legion members. Gotta love Alara and Priest!! Well, especially Priest! There’s just something so fascinating about this genius young boy. I think I loved the side characters more than the protagonist.

As for the romance, it could have been better and less obvious. Right from the moment the possible love interests were introduced, I already knew which of them would end up with Kennedy. And I was right. Also, the love interests are very typical and cliché. Both are handsome, but one of them is cold, mysterious and has a “tragic past” while the other one is the nice-and-friendly type of guy. You can guess which one who will win the MC’s heart.

Despite its flaws, there are redeeming qualities that I couldn’t overlook. Unbreakable was an extremely gripping and chilling book – those who love paranormal thriller and horror won’t be disappointed!

[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!!!