|I am going to keep this review short, or else this review will end up becoming a 1500+ words rant about how male authors need to practice nuance and sensitivity when writing books about women and issues regarding women. At the very least, they should hire female sensitivity readers who can point out some of the problems I will mention here and how to write them better.
The Rape Trial Of Medusa tells us the story of a very well-known Greek mythology, but with a twist. Set in modern times, we witness the trial of Medusa who was raped and blamed for her beauty, and unfairly punished by Athena.
When Ruby woke up on her tenth birthday, something about her had changed. Something frightening enough to make her parents lock her in the garage and call the police. Something that got her sent to Thurmond, a brutal government “rehabilitation camp.” She might have survived the mysterious disease that had killed most of America’s children, but she and the others emerged with something far worse: frightening abilities they could not control.
Now sixteen, Ruby is one of the dangerous ones. When the truth comes out, Ruby barely escapes Thurmond with her life. She is on the run, desperate to find the only safe haven left for kids like her—East River. She joins a group of kids who have escaped their own camp. Liam, their brave leader, is falling hard for Ruby. But no matter how much she aches for him, Ruby can’t risk getting close. Not after what happened to her parents. When they arrive at East River, nothing is as it seems, least of all its mysterious leader. But there are other forces at work, people who will stop at nothing to use Ruby in their fight against the government. Ruby will be faced with a terrible choice, one that may mean giving up her only chance at having a life worth living.
Trigger warnings: molestation and sexual harassment
It’s been a while since I read a really, really good YA science fiction.
As stated by the blurb, the story is about a teenager with a dangerous, inexplicable ability who has been locked away in a camp full of kids like her when she was just a child. According to the government, these abilities are the result of a deadly plague that either kills children or gives them supernatural powers, and the camps are designed to help cure them of their disease.
In reality though, and we figure this out very early in the book, the camps are simply a cross between torture camps and science labs where these helpless children are experimented on and brutally abused on a daily basis.
Sounds familiar doesn’t it? I mean, there are so many novels out there with a similar premise about mutation/diseases resulting in human beings who are different and society’s immediate reaction is to fear them and hate them. And yet, The Darkest Minds is still unique and intriguing enough to keep its readers engaged because it is more than just a story about mutants trying to fight for their basic rights and it is more than just a story about good versus evil. What makes The Darkest Minds so beautiful in my opinion is the way the novel explores how this mutation personally affected each child and their respective families, as well as the society as a whole, and how the government manipulated and used this crisis to further their own agenda instead of helping its people. This novel also examines just how complex the oppression of a particular group can be, and how it is nearly impossible to break away from such oppression because the oppression began with a system that had been designed to work against these people. In this novel, Alexandra Bracken explores how difficult it is to dismantle structural abuse and how over time people become desensitized to it in their attempts to simply survive.
I also loved how there was no loophole whatsoever in the plot. I have this terrible habit of nitpicking a novel and trying to see if the author missed anything important–for instance, in a novel where children are either dying off before they can reach the age of 16 and those who survive are being, for all intents and purposes, expelled out of society, there would be a huge impact on world economy. Alexandra Bracken makes sure to cover these important aspects too, which made this novel all the more interesting to read.
I also loved the fact that there are no specific villain here–and there shouldn’t be, not with this premise. Besides the government itself, there are other antagonists who are morally grey, and while their complexity made this story exciting, I couldn’t help but feel terrible about the poor children who have no one who truly have their best interests at heart.
And of course, there are the characters. Each and every character, from our protagonist to the supporting characters were wonderfully fleshed out and well developed. Ruby, our narrator, reminded me of Juliette from Tahereh Mafi’s Shatter Me series, but unlike Juliette, Ruby is much stronger; she is obviously a survivor and I loved that in spite of growing up amidst such violence she managed to stay sane and have a strong moral sense.
Liam, our MC’s love interest, is absolutely adorable and the non-romantic scenes between him and Ruby were just as good as the romantic ones. They complement each other perfectly, and I especially loved how protective Ruby felt about him–usually, that’s something we see in our male characters only, giving rise to the stereotype that men are generally the protectors and the women are the ones who need protection.
Chubs is also another adorable, sassy character and personally I shipped him with Ruby (though I knew it would never happen) because of the way they progressed from hating each other to respecting each other before finally learning to care deeply about each other. I believe that the best relationships are those that are founded on friendship, so I really would have loved to see these two become something more.
(Plus it would be nice to see the designated sidekick get the girl for once)
Oh and Zu! Every scene with little Zu made my heart melt. If only I could reach into this book and give this sweetheart a bear hug and shower her with a thousand kisses and sparkly dresses and remind her that she is not evil, no matter what the world said.
Honestly guys, just read this book for this darling eleven-year-old okay? You won’t regret it.
Now you might ask: if this book is all that great why not just give it 5 coffee cups?
There were certain important scenes during the climax of the story that were unclear and unambiguous–the writing was very vague and it was hard to understand what was actually happening. Normally I wouldn’t lower my rating for a book for just one flaw, but these scenes were so critical that I simply have to subtract one coffee cup.
We are almost at the end of this review but before I wrap things up there is something I would like to note: there is one particular scene of molestation in this book. I am mentioning this because as someone with a personal history of sexual abuse, this scene was very important to me. The author did justice to the response of the character in that situation, and though it did bring up some unpleasant memories it also made me feel…I don’t know…it also somehow made me feel less helpless and less alone about what had happened to me, because it was a reminder that there are other survivors like me too.
The ending was absolutely spot on! It was heartbreaking (of course it was) and it made me miserable for two whole days, but it was also crucial turning point for our characters, and I cannot wait to see how they grow in the next books.
All the world shall be your enemy, prince of a thousand enemies. When they catch you they will kill but first they must catch you, digger, runner, prince with all the swift excuse. Be cunning and full of tricks and your people shall never be destroyed.
Are you a fan of YA Sci-fi and Fantasy? If so, what are the three things you love the most in this genre? Tell me in the comments below <3
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?
As someone who makes a point of avoiding the romance genre and has a particular distaste for any story that even remotely has the true-love-conquers–all trope, Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone caught me by surprise. This is a fantasy novel where the whole premise is based on the fates of star-crossed lovers–and yet, this story has so much more to offer: this is a story that explores colonization, racism and the pointlessness of war in a way that very few Young Adult (and even Adult) books have been able to do.
Kelsea Glynn is the sole heir to the throne of Tearling but has been raised in secret by foster parents after her mother – Queen Elyssa, as vain as she was stupid – was murdered for ruining her kingdom. For 18 years, the Tearling has been ruled by Kelsea’s uncle in the role of Regent however he is but the debauched puppet of the Red Queen, the sorceress-tyrant of neighbouring realm of Mortmesme. On Kelsea’s 19th birthday, the tattered remnants of her mother’s guard – each pledged to defend the queen to the death – arrive to bring this most un-regal young woman out of hiding…
And so begins her journey back to her kingdom’s heart, to claim the throne, earn the loyalty of her people, overturn her mother’s legacy and redeem the Tearling from the forces of corruption and dark magic that are threatening to destroy it. But Kelsea’s story is not just about her learning the true nature of her inheritance – it’s about a heroine who must learn to acknowledge and live with the realities of coming of age in all its insecurities and attractions, alongside the ethical dilemmas of ruling justly and fairly while simply trying to stay alive..
I’ll be honest, I had very low expectations for this book, partly because of the abundance of negative reviews this book has on Goodreads and partly because of Emma Watson’s apparent obsession with this book. Now that I have finally read it myself, I am pleasantly surprised: Queen of the Tearling is an intriguing, entertaining, well-written piece of fantasy and a classic example of why we should all read a book ourselves in order to form our own opinion instead of listening to what the mass people are saying. The characters were very interesting and well developed–Kelsea is by far one of my favorite female characters; she has her flaws like any nineteen-year-old but what sets her apart Continue reading “Review: Queen of the Tearling”
Ratings: ☕☕ (2/5)
This review contains spoilers from the first book. Please do not read any further unless you have read City of Bones. You can find my review of City of Bones here.
The second book of The Mortal Instruments series was a conflicting book for me–on one hand, I enjoyed it immensely, and thought it was much more well written than the first book. On the other hand, there was a certain problematic element in the book that I believed was never acknowledged: the incestuous relationship between Clary and Jace.
Continue reading “Review: City of Ashes (The Mortal Instruments#2) by Cassandra Clare”
I received this book for free from the author in exchange for an honest, unbiased review.
Ratings: ☕☕☕☕ (4/5)
Tim Learn once again entertains his readers with another of Chewy Noh’s adventures–this time with a far more intriguing, complex but also amusing plot. In this second installment, not only do we see a lot more of Korean mythology, but some of the loose threads from the first book were taken care of here. Funny, light, and entertaining, this a was nice refreshing story after all the serious books I’ve read this past few months.
While the first book slowly built the suspense, this book began with a bang. I was hooked from the very beginning, and the writing had me turning the pages until the very end. The occasional shifting to the mythology was a bonus too (who knew Koreans had a bathroom goddess?) and I enjoyed the references to the cultural differences between Korea and USA (by the way, face size matters in Bangladesh too–the smaller your face, the prettier you are). I didn’t find a single chapter that felt like a filler, or one that seemed boring to me. I wouldn’t call it mind-blowing amazing as the writing style is very simple, but it has a certain charm to it.
There were certain intense scenes that could have been written better–in an attempt to avoid spilling spoilers, all I can say is that the “scary” parts of the story were not in fact scary enough, even for children. I am not saying it was bad, because it wasn’t…it just lacked believability. Other than that minor flaw, the overall storytelling was humorous and easy to absorb.
The Characters: Unlike the first book, we don’t really get to see that much of the large supporting cast, which was honestly fine by me–Chewy, Su Bin and Clint’s characterization was so smooth and well executed that I didn’t really care. In a book like this there isn’t much space for character development, but I enjoyed the way the kids (namely Chewy and Su) resolved their conflicts and eventually became friends. Clint and Su Bin’s puppy love never failed to put a smile on my face, and as annoying as Kent The Bully and Miss Wolfe were, I enjoyed watching Chewy juggle his normal life problems with his supernatural problems.
The only issue I have is with the mother, the grandfather, and the grandmother. Chewy has horrible adult figures in his life, and their lack of responsibility and awareness really did not make any sense to me. I understand why writers don’t want to give spotlight to parental figures in YA/MG books, but making them act more immature and childish than their own kids is certainly not a good way to go. Not only is it ridiculous but it also makes the entire story a lot less convincing.
The Plot: The plot of this book was a lot more complex than that of the first book. In The Fall of The Mu-Dang, the plot is focused entirely on Chewy and his superpower. In the Phantasm of Winter, we get to see more of the supernatural world the book is set in, a lot more action, a whole lot of suspense and much more unexpected twists (and thankfully very little school drama). The pacing was quite fast too and it’s finally allowing the series to develop more.
The Ending: Usually I find cliffhanger endings rather cliché; not all books need to have an open ending. This book is one of them. That being said, the ending wasn’t good enough to get me excited about the third book in the series, even with all the hints about what might happen in the next installment.
As I said before, this book belongs in the MG genre and not YA. I imagine children will love this series, so if you are looking for a book that will suit a young audience then I would definitely recommend you to give this a try.