Review: Starglass

15945897Title: Starglass (Starglass #1)

Author: Phoebe North

Publication Date: July 23, 2013

Publisher:  Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

Summary: Terra has never known anything but life aboard the Asherah, a city-within-a-spaceship that left Earth five hundred years ago in search of refuge. At sixteen, working a job that doesn’t interest her, and living with a grieving father who only notices her when he’s yelling, Terra is sure that there has to be more to life than what she’s got.

But when she inadvertently witnesses the captain’s guard murdering an innocent man, Terra is suddenly thrust into the dark world beneath her ship’s idyllic surface. As she’s drawn into a secret rebellion determined to restore power to the people, Terra discovers that her choices may determine life or death for the people she cares most about. With mere months to go before landing on the long-promised planet, Terra has to make the decision of a lifetime–one that will determine the fate of her people.

 

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I don’t think I’ve ever been so deeply confused by my feelings about a book before. Seriously, I’ve been sitting here for like fifteen minutes just trying to figure out what to say and what rating to give this one. Gah.

Okay well I just need to start this off by saying that I honestly know nothing about Jewish people or their religion. And this book is about a space ship full of Jews trying to preserve their religion and find a new planet to live on. So there was bound to be some confusion on my part. Just within like three pages I was frantically trying to figure out who this Abba guy is and where he randomly popped out of, before I realized that apparently Abba is the Jewish word for father? So she calls him father or Abba and I was thinking they were two separate people… And this point I knew this book was going to be a long one for me.

Except I was actually completely wrong. The author was so strong in her world building that I understood things to the point where I could actually picture it out in my mind. And I kind of liked this world, cliché as it was. Which it totally was. The whole group of rebels on the ship, fighting to gain their freedom from the wealthy rulers, has been used way too many times. Except, it worked here. It worked because the rules that the people were fighting against (to marry whomever they please be it male or female, to give birth to children, to choose their own jobs, etc.) made sense to have on the space ship, to ensure the survival and growth of the population and to keep everything equal and to make sure all the jobs that needed to be done were done. But it made sense for the people to fight for them too, so homosexuality could be allowed and passions could be pursued and people could be free. The author actually made me feel conflicted because I wanted them to have freedom and to love who they wanted, but at the same time, this was a ship built for survival, and the rules guaranteed that.

Also, Terra was a great character. She was horrible and stupid and defiant and made mistakes and I found her to be very realistic. Her life was hard and she knew it and she hated people and was scared of her thoughts and feelings and she only wanted to find herself. She wasn’t a badass with karate skills or a beautiful princess with a huge and loving heart, or adorable and witty, she was just normal.

I feel like the thing I liked about this book wasn’t really the plot line but more the feelings it evoked and the mental images I got from  it. The plot line was really nothing amazing, it was predictable and not very original and the romance was just weird and fast paced at best, and I had no concerns for her boys or love life at all. But I feel like I enjoyed certain parts that she wrote more than others, like Terra’s dreams or when she would think about herself and her thoughts or duties.

I have nothing against religion. I just don’t often read books with big time religious undertones or characters because I either miss half of the moral of the story, or I just get annoyed. I don’t like it being shoved down my throat. One bit. So I honestly went into this book thinking I was going to hate every second of it. Except, it wasn’t even a tiny bit preachy or pushy or offensive. It was one of best examples of properly blending religious morals and their cultures and values into a good story. I was thoroughly impressed. Kudos, Ms. North. You have gained my respect.

This was a book that I found myself thinking about a lot in the day that I finished it, but I couldn’t really figure out what it was about it that touched me. The only problem is that the end was so… strange. If you read it, you’ll know what I’m talking about. And it was strange to the point where, I enjoy a good romance, but the thought of this one might be too far for me and it kind of turns me off from the next book. I honestly don’t know if I’ll read it, especially since the plot line in this one was so bland.

RATING:

 

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Review: Let the Sky Fall

Title: Let the Sky Fall (Sky Fall #1)

13445306

Author: Shannon Messenger

Publication Date: March 5, 2013

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Summary: Seventeen-year-old Vane Weston has no idea how he survived the category five tornado that killed his parents. And he has no idea if the beautiful, dark-haired girl who’s swept through his dreams every night since the storm is real. But he hopes she is.

Seventeen-year-old Audra is a sylph, an air elemental. She walks on the wind, can translate its alluring songs, and can even coax it into a weapon with a simple string of commands. She’s also a guardian—Vane’s guardian—and has sworn an oath to protect Vane at all costs. Even if it means sacrificing her own life.

When a hasty mistake reveals their location to the enemy who murdered both of their families, Audra’s forced to help Vane remember who he is. He has a power to claim—the secret language of the West Wind, which only he can understand. But unlocking his heritage will also unlock the memory Audra needs him to forget. And their greatest danger is not the warriors coming to destroy them—but the forbidden romance that’s grown between them.

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Now let me just start this off by saying that this book was basically everything I expected it to be… no real surprises when it came down to the story and characters and just general direction this book goes. So if you look at this book and think, “Hmmm, looks like some sappy teenage love-at-first-sight romance story with some new supernatural hoopla thrown in…” Yes, you are correct so don’t be disappointed when that’s exactly what you get.

The book basically starts of with Vane, one of the main characters, pondering his sad life of failed dates and relationships because he is already in love with some girl he has one little memory of. So basically he is in love with her face. Or hair. He does have a weird obsession with her hair in this book. Anyways, it’s basically the entire first half of Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl. He eventually finds the mysterious girl, shocked and amazed that she actually exists, but she has mysterious secrets about being some sort of supernatural creature, but he isn’t ordinary either, bonding and love, trials and teenage angst, blah, blah, blah. It even had that one scene you always dread is coming and yes, it usually makes a horrible appearance, when the girl ends up pressed against the guy’s naked chest somehow and blushes at the feeling of his hot abs pressed against her. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I can appreciate a hot body just like everyone else, but she just goes on and on about his hot abs and chiseled face for this one part, and I wanted to stab myself in the throat with the sharp corner of the book.

That being said, don’t even get me started on Vane… Dear god, this boy was such a skeevy young man. I know how teenage boys are totally pervy but this was taking is to a whole new level. I mean, he is supposed to be like, the chosen one, the new ruler to lead his people and defeat evil. But all he ever thought about, and I do mean ALL, was this girl in a skimpy dress, wishing she would take her jacket off so he could see more skin, or ravaging her. And sometimes, his thoughts were just downright creepy. Here’s an example:

“My mind wanders back to her skimpy dress, remembering the way it clung in all the right places. It should be a crime to cover a body like hers with that thick, bulky uniform she had on today.”

The two seconds later… “I might be able to deal with it if I finally get to taste those full lips of hers.”

I don’t know why, but I feel like that was pulled right from some badly written fan fiction done by a very sexually frustrated teenage girl. It goes on to Vane continuing his fantasy of hot making out and bodies tangling together, all of this done while he is showering. There was a reason their “love” always felt a bit more like lust to me.

Moving away from creeper Vane, Audra was actually a fairly likable character. She had lots of strength and will power and she kept her head in the game and knew when to be tough. I also really liked how she turned her angst kind of into an inner strength, making it the thing that kept her going and tough, instead of weighing her down.

Raiden, the all powerful bad guy, was just your typical villain, except his reasoning for being evil, was just so lame and unexplained, I didn’t even feel like he was anything. The author gives the typical excuse, the bad guy wants to be more powerful and use power against the lesser beings AKA humans, and become the dominant race, That’s literally all we are given. We don’t get any reason as to how he turned bad, his real reasoning behind this, or anything, It was such a let down, I really hope the author develops him into a better character, or that’s going to be a huge flaw in her story.

The one thing I really did enjoy about this story though was the fairly original concept of wind elementals, or sylphs. The author did a really good job of explaining about them and their world, but not in a way like she was shoving it all down your throat really quick so she could move on with the story, she actually fit it into the story in a way that flowed and was very cohesive. So much was incorporated into this idea, mixing real weather patterns with a bit of mythology, with the authors of ideas of using the wind to form weapons and traveling, it worked so well. And I loved how the sylphs had the human and wind forms and how they could become part of the wind, that whole concept was really cool. However, I felt that the dual points of view really took away from the actually story itself, and I would have liked for her to either have focused on one character, or made each chapter bigger.

While this book had a fun and original concept with really good world building, it was so hard for me to get past the lusty teenage romance that consumed most of the book. I can enjoy silly love-at-first-sight teenage romance as long as it adds to the story, or at least doesn’t take away from it, but this just made the book a little hard to read, to be honest. And Audra was the only semi likable character, the only one I was actually caring about throughout the whole story. Not sure if I’ll be reading the next book yet.

RATING: