Posted in fantasy, Rereads, review, young adult

Reread | City Of Bones

“All the stories are true.”

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Blurb: “When fifteen-year-old Clary Fray heads out to the Pandemonium Club in New York City, she hardly expects to witness a murder― much less a murder committed by three teenagers covered with strange tattoos and brandishing bizarre weapons. Then the body disappears into thin air. It’s hard to call the police when the murderers are invisible to everyone else and when there is nothing―not even a smear of blood―to show that a boy has died.”

I’ve rather loudly proclaimed that The Mortal Instruments series is one of my favourites and the release of the 10 year anniversary edition gave me the perfect excuse to pick it up again.

Fifteen-year-old Clary Fray is expectantly thrown into a world of vampires, werewolves and warlocks when she discovers that she can see Shadowhunters – a group of half-human/half-angels who kill demons for a living. Cassandra Clare’s world-building blows my mind as every single detail feels like it has been carefully chosen to make the world seem more substantial. City Of Bones works perfectly as an introduction to this extensive world without leading to the reader being thrown from location to location before having a chance to find their feet.

The writing is not the best; in fact there’s quite a lot of work that needs to be made but it just goes to show how far Cassandra Clare has come in terms of writing style when exploring her latest books. She really is a writer who continues to get better and better with every single book she produces.

I have never been a fan of the protagonist, Clary, and this time was no different. She comes across so whiny and seems to adjust to easily to her life being turned upside down, plus she’s quite horrible to Simon who is supposedly her best friend. This is one of those books where the ensemble of characters are considerably better than the main one such as Jace who is the snarky shadowhunter destined to win reader’s hearts.

What makes me really love this story the concept of a whole other world existing right in front of you, but not knowing it’s there until forced to look at things from a different angle. Clary isn’t whisked off to a magical world like in many other fantasy novels; this underbelly of angels and demons exists right on her doorstep.

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Posted in Dystopian, Rereads, review, young adult

Reread | The Scorch Trials

“The flare always wins in the end. You lose any chance of being rational, having common sense, having compassion. You lose your humanity.”

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Blurb: “Thomas was sure that escape from the Maze would mean freedom for him and the Gladers. But WICKED isn’t done yet. Phase Two has just begun. The Scorch.”

Brief Note: I am very much aware of certain allegations and I addressed these in in my blog post that is all I’m going to say on it.

When I initially started reading this series, on a film adaptation fuelled hype, this was my favourite book of the first two. In fact, it was one of the first reviews I actually did here on Charlottereadsthings and I was interested to revisit it and see what I thought of it this time around.

As to be expected with a series, The Scorch Trials is very much a “transition book.” Thomas and his fellow gladers barely make it through the Maze Trials only to be thrown into a world devastated by a disease called The Flare. They’re no closer to being free and the questions from the previous book only continue to grow in number of the course of this addition to the timeline.

I love this book because the reader starts to see Thomas make that shift from a scared, clueless boy into a sort of leader for the remaining group of boys. I adore watching him team up and work together with Minho and how they bounce off each other while focusing on keeping everyone safe. The introduction of a girl called Brenda in the scorched world really hit me a lot more this time because I was able to see the parallels between her and Thomas: Brenda is a survivor in her own way; forced to live in the “real” world seeing the true effects of the flare at work.

My issue with my reread for The Maze Runner was the attempts at dialogue and, thankfully, they are fare and few between in this book. They flow into the dialogue a lot more and I feel that the shift has a lot to do with the new characters coming in that haven’t been exposed to words like “shank.”

As I mentioned earlier, this is the second book in the series and, almost unsurprisingly, it lags quite a bit in places while the characters explore this new world. While the previous book felt claustrophobic, this one almost feels like there’s too much space. It did reach points when I felt I was forcing myself through long boring segments in the hopes it would pick up.

I like the concept of everyone having a purpose within this world. As the characters learn more about themselves, and try to piece together their lives before the maze with limited memories, they discover that regardless of whether their role is to be the leader, the glue, or the betrayer, they all have a role. And I think that is something we can all apply to real life.

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Posted in Dystopian, Rereads, review, young adult

Reread | The Maze Runner

“If you ain’t scared, you ain’t human.”

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Blurb: “Outside the towering stone walls that surround the Glade is a limitless, ever-changing maze. It’s the only way out—and no one’s ever made it through alive. Everything is going to change. Then a girl arrives. The first girl ever. And the message she delivers is terrifying.”

Brief Note: I am very much aware of certain allegations and I addressed these in my blog post and that is all I’m going to say on it.

I first read The Maze Runner when the dystopian genre was at the peak of popularity and, as you’ve probably guessed, I picked it up because of the film adaptation creeping around the corner. Dystopian was always heavily sci-fi based which often put me off – though now the genre has been left for dust I do miss it terribly. Yet, as I delved into this story, I was hooked on every single word.

This post is the start of a few weeks of posts on this series as I reread them after seeing the final film.

The story follows a boy called Thomas who finds himself trapped in a maze with no memories. The only thing he can remember is his name. Some of the people he finds himself coexisting with have been stuck in this place called The Glade for three years and are still yet to find the way out.

What I love about this story is how claustrophobic it feels: the towering walls, the limits of the place they inhabit and the dawning sense that something is definitely not right. Thomas asks question after question, which gets increasingly annoying, only to be met with half-statements from the group. As the plot thickens, it really feels like the reader is confined to this place with the character. The questions continue to build with little in the way of answers and that’s what drives Thomas forward. The amount of questions reach an incredibly annoying level, but I imagine that if I woke up in a place like this, I’d be exactly the same. It’s fascinating how the group of boys have made a civilisation and all have jobs such as farming or being doctors to keep everything running since they resided themselves to never leaving the maze.

The cast of characters is surprisingly diverse from the American protagonist, a British boy named Newt to the POC characters such as Alby – leader of the Glade –  and Frypan -the cook – and an Asian boy called Minho who is in charge of running the maze in order to map it and find a way out.

While I appreciate the attempts at dialect in The Glade, the consistent use of “shuck”, “klunk” and “just slim it” really do make the conversation clunky, especially when there’s no glossary provided to explain the meanings so the reader is forced to try and work out whether the words have positive or negative connotations.

The last time I read this book I was infuriated by some of the gladers actions towards Thomas and how they won’t listen to him and constantly shut him out. Especially the character of Gally who seems to have a personal vendetta against the protagonist. But this time around I understood him: he is partly in charge of this group of boys, he’s helped build this new home for them and suddenly a new boy comes along with a lot of questions and bad things start happening. I know for sure who I’d blame there!

The Maze Runner builds and builds until the reader feels like the tension might finally end only for it to keep dragging them along, scared and helpless to the dramatic conclusion.

Wicked is good… or are they?

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Posted in adult fiction, fantasy, Rereads, review

A Darker Shade Of Magic (Collector’s Edition) – V.E.Schwab

“Kell wore a very peculiar coat. It had neither one side, which would be conventional, nor two, which would be unexpected, but several, which was, of course, impossible.”

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Blurb: “Most people only know one London; but what if there were several? Kell is one of the last Travelers—magicians with a rare ability to travel between parallel Londons. There’s Grey London, dirty and crowded and without magic, home to the mad king George III. There’s Red London, where life and magic are revered. Then, White London, ruled by whoever has murdered their way to the throne. But once upon a time, there was Black London…”

A Darker Shade of Magic was a book I didn’t expect to fall utterly in love with. While I adore Fantasy – and frequently scrabble for any read with a trace of magic in it- I am very picky when it comes to enjoyment; if it’s too heavy, I simply don’t get on with it. This book has the perfect balance of detail without completely overwhelming the reader and with the release of a new collector’s edition, I was able to revisit the story in a new and exciting way.

Kell continues to be a truly fascinating character; while he can seem reserved and almost disconnected at times, this is counteracted by the lengths he will go to for the people he cares for. When he accidently smuggles a piece of dark magic to another London, it’s impossible not to feel the rising threat following him throughout the tale. Prince Rhy is just as wild and hilarious as I remember and continues to prove why he is my personal favourite. Delilah Bard, the cut-throat thief, really does end up in quite a messy situation after bumping into the Antari known as Kell.

Without a doubt, the best thing about this book is the world building. The alternate Londons and how they operate are purely genius and leads the reader to ponder if I lived within this universe, which London would be my home?  (Personally I think Grey London would be safer though rather boring) V.E.Schwab gives you just enough crumbs to build up your own view of the world without feeling restrictive; giving room for the reader to piece together some aspects for themselves. While rather obvious to say, with A Darker Shade Of Magic, V.E.Schwab cements herself as one of the greatest fantasy writers on the scene right now.

It is not entirely clear why a collector’s edition of this book has come into existence; as the release of it is still fairly recent, but if it is successful enough, there is the chance that the rest of the books in the series will follow the same redesign. In terms of the visuals, it’s beautiful. Additions include new short stories focusing on side characters, a glossary of terms and an interview between V.E.Schwab and her editor. Admittedly, I didn’t care much for the stories themselves as they felt more like adding a little bit of backstory but the glossary is a stand out and covers things such as the languages used and translations for spells. The most intriguing is the interview which uncovers how A Darker Shade Of Magic was essentially co-written between Schwab and her editor which I found truly fascinating.

If you’re already a fan of the series and unsure as to whether the collector’s edition is worth adding to your collection, trust me, it is worth every bit of ink and paper.

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