Vicious by V.E. Schwab [book review]

Vicious coverVicious by V.E. Schwab
Goodreads | Book Depository | Amazon
Release Date:  September 24th 2013
Publisher: Tor
Series: n/a

Goodreads description: A masterful, twisted tale of ambition, jealousy, betrayal, and superpowers, set in a near-future world.

Victor and Eli started out as college roommates—brilliant, arrogant, lonely boys who recognized the same sharpness and ambition in each other. In their senior year, a shared research interest in adrenaline, near-death experiences, and seemingly supernatural events reveals an intriguing possibility: that under the right conditions, someone could develop extraordinary abilities. But when their thesis moves from the academic to the experimental, things go horribly wrong.

Ten years later, Victor breaks out of prison, determined to catch up to his old friend (now foe), aided by a young girl whose reserved nature obscures a stunning ability. Meanwhile, Eli is on a mission to eradicate every other super-powered person that he can find—aside from his sidekick, an enigmatic woman with an unbreakable will. Armed with terrible power on both sides, driven by the memory of betrayal and loss, the archnemeses have set a course for revenge—but who will be left alive at the end?

In Vicious, V. E. Schwab brings to life a gritty comic-book-style world in vivid prose: a world where gaining superpowers doesn’t automatically lead to heroism, and a time when allegiances are called into question.

Villains! I had heard a few things about this book before it came out and was vaguely excited that someone was writing about the bad guys because bad guys are interesting! When it came out, I am pretty sure I only saw positive things about it. I know Eve at Paper Grey loved it, though I haven’t read her review (I can’t do that with highly anticipated books because I’m weird). All the glowing made me even more excited for it!

Victor has always been a bit of an outsider. When he meets Eli in college, he sees everything he wishes her could be. They become friends, but Victor is jealous. As Eli begins to research extra-ordinary abilities that appear in traumatized individuals, both friends get deeply invested, and things end badly. Ten years later, Victor has escaped from prison and is out for revenge.

Victor is such a compelling character. He’s got issues, but he knows he has issues. He isn’t worried about societal views of right and wrong, but he has his own code. He wasn’t exactly someone I sympathized with, but I understood his motivation. It was kind of a nice change as a reader not having to rundown if something is right or wrong, knowing that the character wasn’t aiming to be a good person anyway. His drive and the characterization of his malevolence is rather thrilling. Eli, his nemesis, is a contrast because he’s messed up and has his own issues, but he believes he is doing the right thing. Aren’t bad guys that believe wholeheartedly that they are doing the right thing extremely terrifying? Surprisingly, one of my favorite characters is 12-year-old Sydney, a girl Victor happens upon and recruits for his cause. She is dealing with her own demons while she joins two escaped prisoners. She’s smart and easy to sympathize with, and even though there were reasons to give her sympathy, she wasn’t a depressing character. She’s just awesome.

The story jumps in time, but I never felt lost or confused. The labeling helped with that, but I think the narration did, too. Everything felt like it was in place and timed just right. There were also some characters that were a part of the story early on, but didn’t actually get a point of view until later in the book, and usually I am kind of annoyed by that tactic because it tends to feel sloppy, but it felt so natural and right for the this story. The story is also centered around things that require suspension of belief, but unlike some books, it isn’t exhausting because the characters are realistic. Their actions and reactions feel like things that could actually happen when faced with abnormal situations, which really makes all the difference in stories with any sort of paranormal aspect. Plus, there was at least one time when a character brought up something like “why not just do this?” and it was so clever and the answer supplied was clever and fitting. There was one thing that was king of easy to predict early on, but for the rest of the story I figuring everything out, which is important for me.

I wasn’t hooked from the very beginning. I was interested, but I wasn’t in love. It took me a bit longer than I expected to read it, which was probably more my fault than anything else. Once I got into it, I started liking it more and more. I was pretty sure it would be a solid 4 stars, but the last 100 pages or so really jumped out and grabbed me.

4.5 star rating

Vicious is a wickedly delicious view into the lives of the not-so-virtuous. It’s intense and complex but easy to follow. The characters are realistic and easy to care about. I read and reviewed The Archived and I really enjoyed it, and this book is fantastic, so I will be interested in anything Schwab writes from now on! I recommend Vicious if you like lovely writing, great characters, questionable morals, and powers/abilities!

V.E. Schwab‘s website and twitter

The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater [book review]

The Dream ThievesThe Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater
Goodreads | Book Depository| Amazon
Release Date: September 17th 2013
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Series: The Raven Cycle #2

Goodreads description: Now that the ley lines around Cabeswater have been woken, nothing for Ronan, Gansey, Blue, and Adam will be the same.

Ronan, for one, is falling more and more deeply into his dreams, and his dreams are intruding more and more into waking life.

Meanwhile, some very sinister people are looking for some of the same pieces of the Cabeswater puzzle that Gansey is after…

The first Maggie Stiefvater book I read was The Scorpio Races, and I really loved it. When The Raven Boys came out, it sounded like something I would love, and I already loved her writing, so I picked it up and devoured it (and rambled about it here). I had been waiting patiently (ha!) for The Dream Thieves to come out. It did not disappoint me. Probably small spoilers for The Raven Boys.

The Dream Thieves is insane, but in only the best way. It is packed with emotion, so much emotion that it’s hard to get the book shut. It made me giddy to read it, I actually did silent screams of joy when I read something really great. It took me a bit longer to read than it normally would have because I didn’t want to let go. And when I was finished, I still wasn’t ready to let go. I just wanted to start over again. I read it when it came out, then I read it again last week, and it’s my favorite read of 2013 so far, and I think it will take a lot to top it.

“Why is the tea so good here?” “I spit in it.”

The characters feel like real people. The relationships between the characters seem true. The friendship between four prep school boys from different backgrounds work so well. The arguments and the feelings all seem real. Blue’s interactions with all of them feel real, too. Her feelings and confusion feel real and lovely and painful. Things like Adam’s past with his family, how Ronan interacts with his brothers and thinks about his parents, Gansey’s family in general, and Blue’s extended family, especially talking to her mom about life stuff, really make this book stand out in YA. These kids still do their own thing, but they also have families that (mostly) care about them. I also really love that it’s not in first person, and you get to sample different characters’ thoughts and feelings. I think it might be uncommon for YA readers (from what I see people mention on blogs), but I don’t particularly like first person. I am greedy and want to know everything.

“There might be girls in Henrietta who’ll let you talk them like that, but I’m not one of them.”

And the romance, ahhh the romance. The romance isn’t the central focus of the story. Blue and the boys have other things to worry about. It is always in the background, and when it’s brought to the front, it’s slow and confusing. There’s a bit of a triangle, but I think it’s done well. There’s jealousy, heartbreak, yearning, and it all feels genuine. I don’t want to say too much, but I really loved everything that happened it in the romance department and I’m excited to see what else happens with it in the series! Plus, there’s a small added element of maybe for something else, and it makes me even more excited. So. Much. Excitement.

She wore a dress Ronan thought looked like a lampshade. Whatever sort of lamp it belonged to, Gansey clearly wished he had one.

The story is intense. They’re still looking for a lost king. Things go wrong. Ronan’s reveal at the end of the first book comes into key play. They find out that they’re not the only ones looking, and the search seems more complicated. They face new problems and enemies. They search, they sort of fight, they have psychic readings. It’s a good ride.

“Guys,” Matthew pleaded. “Be holy.”

I had small problems, but I love the book enough that things that bother me in other books don’t matter as much. Some of the Gray Man stuff was a little weird. Some of the dream stuff and Kavinsky was almost too much, but I think it the rest of everything made up for it. There was one part where Blue talks about college and I don’t feel like it would be as impossible for her as she thinks it would be.

 5 stars

I love The Dream Thieves, and I’m really excited for the rest of the series. This review probably doesn’t do it justice, but at least my love is stated! I will probably reread this at least once, but probably more, just in the time before the next one comes out. Some books are almost better on the reread, because you know what is coming, and you understand things better while you’re reading it. I’m not sure about the new Sinner book, but other than Shiver related things, I am pretty sure I’ll read almost anything Maggie Stiefvater writes. I’m trying to make my sister read these, and I will gladly recommend them to anyone that wants to talk books. I can’t imagine anyone actually not liking this book (although I’m sure there are some that don’t), but if you like snark, great friendships, realistic families, dreams, mysteries, magic type stuff, tarot, you might enjoy The Dream Thieves!

Check out Maggie Stiefvater‘s websitetwitter, and tumblr!

Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson [book review]

Tiger Lily coverTiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson
Goodreads | Book Depository | Amazon
Release Date: July 3rd 2012
Publisher: Harper Collins Children’s Books
Series: none!

Goodreads description: Before Peter Pan belonged to Wendy, he belonged to the girl with the crow feather in her hair. . . .

Fifteen-year-old Tiger Lily doesn’t believe in love stories or happy endings. Then she meets the alluring teenage Peter Pan in the forbidden woods of Neverland and immediately falls under his spell.

Peter is unlike anyone she’s ever known. Impetuous and brave, he both scares and enthralls her. As the leader of the Lost Boys, the most fearsome of Neverland’s inhabitants, Peter is an unthinkable match for Tiger Lily. Soon, she is risking everything—her family, her future—to be with him. When she is faced with marriage to a terrible man in her own tribe, she must choose between the life she’s always known and running away to an uncertain future with Peter.

With enemies threatening to tear them apart, the lovers seem doomed. But it’s the arrival of Wendy Darling, an English girl who’s everything Tiger Lily is not, that leads Tiger Lily to discover that the most dangerous enemies can live inside even the most loyal and loving heart.

From the New York Times bestselling author of Peaches comes a magical and bewitching story of the romance between a fearless heroine and the boy who wouldn’t grow up.

Tiger Lily was on my Summer TBR List, and I’ve been wanting to read it since it came out. I love all things Peter Pan, even though I’ve never actually read the original, oops. I do own it and plan on reading it! I saw from a lot of people that it was good and sad, so it seemed like something I definitely needed to read. After not getting it from my library, I was extremely happy to win a copy from Emily at Reader Rising!

We all know about Peter Pan and Wendy, and that Tiger Lily is in the background somewhere. This book tells Tiger Lily’s side of the story, and it’s told through Tinker Bell’s perspective, which is weird and interesting at the same time. In this adaptation, Neverland is a new world, apart from civilization instead of two stars from the right. They have tribes and tribal hierarchies. They have an agreement with the pirates. They fear Peter Pan and the Lost Boys, and they stay as far away as possible. In the tribe, Tiger Lily is an outsider, a wild and untamable girl. She’s the adopted daughter of Tik Tok, the town’s shaman/healer, who is also an outsider because he dresses and feels more like a woman than a man.

Tiger Lily is such an amazing character. She’s an outsider, and she’s drawn to other outsiders and they’re drawn to her. She’s fierce, but she’s also vulnerable, and the way this is portrayed felt so real to me. She struggled with the expectations for girls in her tribe, but it didn’t feel like she was anti-feminine. She is curious and wants to do things that aren’t normal for anyone in the tribe to do. She acts fearless, but you can see that she isn’t. She isn’t always good, and she makes mistakes.

“There was a beast in there. But there was also a girl who was afraid of being a beast, and who wondered if other people had bests in their hearts too. There was strength, and there was also just the determination to look strong. She guarded herself like a secret.”

In the beginning, Tinker Bell warns that it’s a love story, “but not like any you’ve heard.” Tiger Lily meets Peter Pan, a villain and madman in the eyes of her tribe. He isn’t like they say at all, (but he isn’t exactly a harmless, innocent creature either) and she finds something in him she wants and doesn’t understand how to grasp and keep.  Peter and Tiger Lily’s relationship is intense. Of course, he’s forbidden, and tribe politics are making her life more difficult all the time. Plus, there are pirates who want to kill Peter and the Lost Boys, and eventually a ship of Englanders brings Wendy and other problems. The story is complex

There are important characters that are difficult for me to include in this review, but I loved so many of them. Pine Sap, Moon Eye, and Tik Tok were so important to Tiger Lily, and they were characters I wanted to keep. The villains of the story were creepy and worrisome. All the characters felt real to me.

Some pieces of the story were frustrating for me, and I think it’s a realistic look at how life can be. There were times when I wanted the characters to act a certain way, and it seemed like it would be easy for them to take certain steps to change situations, but in actuality it probably wouldn’t have been that easy. Sometimes there’s just more to the story and the circumstances, and you can’t always act exactly how you want to act. In some cases it would have upset the status quo, and the tribe was just a different machine dealing with situations that were completely abnormal for them. I wanted there to be easy outs, and maybe in a nicer, less realistic place, that could have worked. The way it happens in the book might hurt, but I think it’s important and written really well.

A lot of mistakes were made, and at the end of the story Tiger Lily has to face her own mistakes as well as the mistakes of others. “She kept trying, in her head, to make someone right.” This book told the story in a way I didn’t expect it to, and the ending was especially lovely to me. The writing was lovely, and there are so many quotes that made me love the book even more. It definitely made me cry, I closed the book and kept crying for a while.

I really liked seeing from Tinker Bell’s point of view. It was really different. It could be frustrating because sometimes I wanted to dig inside Tiger Lily’s mind, but overall I think the distance was perfect and a clever way to tell the story. Plus, it also opens up a wider scope because she can observe a lot more as a fairy, and you get her own feelings about Peter.

“As a faerie, you can hear when something tugs at someone. It’s much like the sound of a low, deep note on a violin string.”

4 star rating

Tiger Lily is a lovely book that made me sad and happy at the same time. I loved Tiger Lily, I loved her flaws, her rage, and her unexpected softness. I loved the ending. I am so glad that I won it and have my own copy, because it is definitely a book I will want to read again! I plan on sharing it with some real life people so they will (hopefully) love it and discuss it with me. I will also look forward to more of the author’s work. I always feel bad at reviews because I never know how much to share or not, but I just loved this book. It’s probably not for everyone but I think Tiger Lily might work for you if you like retellings, honesty, hopefulness and a bit of heartbreak. 

Check out Jodi Lynn Anderson‘s goodreads and twitter!

What I’ve Been Pushing Lately

I think most readers love pushing books on others. If you like something, you want to share it and talk about it. You want someone to love the characters you love and sneer at characters you didn’t love.

Anna and the French Kiss cover The Raven Boys cover

My sister has been super busy with school and hasn’t had a chance to read. HOWEVER, the semester just ended which means she is free to read again! I took her my copy of Anna and the French Kiss (I’ve been meaning to make her read it for a while and kept forgetting) by Stephanie Perkins and The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater (my review). She’s also planning on finishing ASOIAF this summer.

I also got my mom started on the ASOIAF series! She has seen all of the series and got really interested, especially because I would make comments on what was better in the books and changes I like.

I plan on pushing The 5th Wave (my review) by Rick Yancey on anyone that will listen to me!

What have you been pushing/recommending lately?