Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Back to the Challenge: Reviews on The Shadowed Sun, I Was Here, The Just City and The Shadow Society

At least I managed to come back before the end of the year. I think I get credit for that, at least a little bit. On the other hand, I've read 91 books so far and have only managed to review 16 books on my blog, including the ones on this post.

Lot of work to do; just a lot of work.

Next up for review, The Shadowed Sun by N. K. Jemisin. This is the companion to The Killing Moon and it takes place ten years after the events of that story. This time around, we follow three certain characters: Hanani, the first and currently only female allowed into the Hetawa, working as a Sharer-Apprentice who has the ability to heal; Wanahomen, a prince and the son of Eninket, who'd been seen previously in The Killing Moon; and Tiaanet, a young woman with a horrible past and terrible secret. The plot of the story focuses mainly on the effects of a nightmare that has swept through the dreamers of the city, leaving death in its wake.

I knew immediately upon finishing The Killing Moon that I needed to read The Shadowed Sun as soon as possible. And while the story moved on, focusing on new people and plots, the world was still as rich and intriguing as it had been in the first novel. I quickly came to care for Hanani, for the struggles she had to endure and the strength she showed in the face of others. Wanahomen took time to grow on me but I think that's a sign of true talent, that an author can take a truly unlikable character and make the reader change their opinion about them. Tiaanet's story was just as heart-wrenching as the rest of them and the reveals that she gave were enough to keep me engaged in every bit of information given about her.

The struggles of this world is still engaging to the reader, working through the truths unveiled in The Killing Moon, and these three characters are integral to establishing something more for Gujaareh. The books are a duology, so this is currently the last we'll see of this world. However, Jemisin has already released a new book, titled The Fifth Season, part of a new series, so readers can rest assured that they'll have more books by this author to enjoy in the future.

Rating: 10 Stars

Next up on my Reading Challenge, I Was Here by Gayle Forman. I wanted to read this book because years ago, I picked up a copy of If I Stay, sat down in a rocking chair in the kids section of my bookstore, read the first 50 pages and sat there feeling tears welling up in my eyes. Nowadays, I still try to give each of Forman's books a chance but I wasn't a big fan of her Just One Day series so I approached this with a little more caution.

This book follows Cody, whose best friend Meg has just committed suicide. Cody believes that she and Meg shared everything about their lives with each other, which is why her suicide seems to have come out of nowhere. When Cody goes to Meg's place to pack up her stuff, Cody starts to find things about Meg's life that she had never known. She meets a guy that Meg might have loved and a file on Meg's computer that she is desperate to open, hoping for some kind of insight into why her best friend chose that path.

I wanted to like this book so much. Honest, I really did. I read it fast, probably in one sitting, but once I'd finished it, I didn't feel any connection to the characters. I wanted to care about Cody and her search for answers and instead I found myself frowning over how she threw herself into a relationship with a guy she just barely met. The reveals about the file would have been interesting but the way the information was handled and what transpired because of the file left me feeling a bit unsettled.

Over the course of this book I felt like, of course, this young woman is going to go for that guy because he's the bad boy that she can see something else hidden inside of, something good, and of course, in her quest for answers, this young woman will drive across the country to confront the people she thinks are responsible for helping her best friend decide to die. Just because, I guess; I mean, that makes sense, right?

I liked certain parts of this well enough but the parts the bugged me are the ones I remember clearest. I'll still read Gayle Forman's books in the future. I just hope they'll pull at my heart strings the way they used to.

Rating: 5 Stars

Next, The Just City by Jo Walton. I keep giving Jo Walton's books a try but nothing has really stood out for me from her books. I'm sure I'll find something that truly stuns me but for now, The Just City was a book with an interesting premise and interesting characters that just was, well, okay for me as a read.

The story follows several characters, Simmea, a female student living in the city; Maia, a teacher for the students; and Pytheas, who is actually the god Apollo, reborn as a human for the chance to live a normal life, to experience things in the community that Pallas Athene has created. The teachers were taken from across time, as well as the children, and all were placed on this island as part of an experiment to create Plato's Republic. The city has its difficulties but with the rules in place, mostly everyone adheres to the parameters of the experiment. When Athene bring Sokrates to the city however, the threads of unrest in the city start to gain power, and events move on from there.

I wanted to care about this book but all of the events and characters felt too removed from me as a reader. I wanted to care more for Simmea but I thought she was a little boring and the same goes for Maia. I was most interested in Pytheas, especially as he was brought into the Just City on purpose and he knows the truth about who he really is. His arc in the book was the best part about it. However, I kind of saw the ending coming and in the end, I didn't feel really invested in the story overall. I understand there's a sequel already out but I think I'll wait on that until I can give this book another read.

Rating: 6 Stars

Last but not least, The Shadow Society by Marie Rutkoski. I read this book because I've been
keeping up with Rutkoski's The Winner's Trilogy and I wanted to see what this book was about. This story follows Darcy Jones, a young woman with no recollection of the time before she was abandoned as a child. She lives a normal life until a new guy at school shows up, stirring up memories that she's from a different dimension where creatures called Shades exist and they work against humans by planning terrorist plots. The story focuses on Darcy, the new guy at school, Conn, and his interest in her, and the truth about Darcy's past.

The world building was strong and definitely unique in a sense, with the dealings of the alternate dimension. Darcy stands out as a main character because once she realizes the truth about her past she didn't let it destroy her. Instead, she used it to her advantage, working to discover the latest terrorist plot that the Shades were planning. Parts of the story did drag for me and certain elements have been seen in countless YA releases, from the lead who doesn't fit in, to the new guy in school with an instant connection to the main character, and there was even the usual love triangle thrown in. As a result, this didn't stand out for me as much as Rutkoski's other series has in terms of great reads. Just not exactly what I wanted in terms of books that knock my socks off (despite the fact that I never wear socks, but you get my drift.)

Rating: 6 Stars

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