Book Review: Fire and Flood by Victoria Scott

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As many have pointed out, this book is awfully reminiscent of The Hunger Games. Pushing that thought aside, I didn’t think this book was that bad. It is okay at most. It isn’t terribly great or original and I definitely had a lot of issues with it, but it did keep me interested enough to turn the pages. For that, I give Fire and Flood 1.5 stars.

Plot: The plot, as I have mentioned before, is similar to that of The Hunger Games. It involves a game where there can only be one victor. In this case, it is Tella Holloway. Tella has a brother who is deathly ill, and upon receiving a chance to participate in a game that could possibly cure her brother, she decides to take a chance and go for it. Sound familiar? The similarities do not end there, however. Upon arriving on a train, she meets a colorful and fashionable woman who welcomes them into the race which is a form of revenge against the people.

This is the main reason why I chose to dock off so many stars from this book. It aims to be The Hunger Games, but it fails drastically at this. It felt wholly unoriginal and uninspired.

Main Character: I hate Tella. She is bratty, stupid, whiny, and superficial.

Just because I’m entering a race doesn’t mean I don’t want to look magically delicious.

Even living where no one could judge me besides my family, I prided myself on looking fabulous. And now I look like the bride of Frankenstein. Running my fingers through my hair, I think about how I should be racing towards Lincoln Station. But the compulsion to repair my face is too strong.

I pray that the orange pack I’m wearing holds Chanel makeup. And a brush.And a mirror.

What the hell? You’re doing this for your dying brother, you ungrateful brat. One might defend Tella in saying that this is her flaw and that no one is perfect, but she is constantly like this throughout the book. She does not grow given these dire circumstances. Why would you even care what you look like when your life is in danger? Why care about how you look to other competitors who simply want to beat you at this race? What’s the point? I don’t get it.

Because when it comes to doing something for my family, I’m not just his daughter. I am strong.

Ha. This makes me laugh. She considers herself strong but constantly needs her precious love interest to save her ass. So much for standing up for ourselves, girls! As long as we have some hot guy who can do just about anything, we’ll make it through life. Don’t believe me? Ask Tella. Oh and to add the cherry top, Tella also feels the need to belittle other females as well.

The last girl I see, I want to strangle. Like the woman, she has long hair. But instead of dark, it’s blond – no, honey gold – and shines like that of a Broadway starlet. I can’t see her eyes form here, but I’m sure they’re some stunning shade of blue… I hate her with everything I have as she laughs her perfect laugh and tosses her perfect hair and crosses her to-die-for legs. The girl seems to be about my age, or just a few years older. We could be friends, I realize, if I weren’t so overwhelmed with the urge to end her.

I glance at Harper, but she’s facing forward like a marine. I hate her so much right now, I could scream.

I don’t even know what to say other than fuck you Tella. You think you’re better than everyone else? Never mind that this girl she wants to strangle is arguably one of the better characters in the book. At least she fights for herself and doesn’t wait for some guy named Guy to save her. Let’s also forget the fact that this girl also lets you into her group and helps you a lot along the way. No, let’s just focus on the fact that this girl is prettier than you, so she must be awful. Fuck you, Tella.

Romance: I don’t get it. I don’t know why it happened, and I certainly don’t care for it. Guy, the love interest, helps Tella out at the start when he has the perfect opportunity to knock out one competitor out of the running. Instead, he helps her. Again.And again. Why? What is so special about Tella that warrants his help – that makes him conveniently forget that he also has someone important and dear to him to save? There’s no buildup in this relationship. It’s there from the get-go. They’re in a competition against one another, so I expected a lot of development before something happened, but it happens in the blink of an eye. There is also one terribly awkward scene where everyone is winding down. Tella and Guy ogle each other as they take off their clothes, and he then comes close to her and touches her face or something while everyone watches. I felt uncomfortable and awkward just reading it.

Setting: I have no idea where it is. So far, there’s been a jungle and a desert, so surely they are not in America. Did everyone get flown somewhere else while they were knocked out? Who knows? I couldn’t get into the world because it felt messy and all over the place. As they tried to find their way to basecamp I felt lost. To me, it just felt like they were fumbling in the dark and walking around pointlessly. It was awfully hard to visualize their surroundings throughout the book which is a terrible shame as it could have been epic. Very disappointing.

Finishing Thoughts: Overall, this book is okay. I am very disappointed at the lack of originality. However, as I said before it was interesting enough to keep me going and I did love the little critter companions they had in the book, so I can see myself picking up the next book.

I would recommend it only if you have not read The Hunger Games. However, if you have read it and are looking for something similar and just as good to sink your teeth into, I would recommend you to look elsewhere. This book feels messy and rushed with little world building that hardly makes sense and a main character that is very annoying.

These quotes were taken from an uncorrected galley and are subject to change in the final edition of the book. 

Book Review: Talented by Sophie Davis

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TOXIC is an agency within the government that utilizes each child’s unique ability in the most advantageous way. 

I’m sorry. I thought I was supposed to be reading a book about a kickass assassin out for revenge against the man responsible for the death of her parents – not a soap opera. There was just so many things wrong with this novel and that’s with ignoring the blinding grammatical errors (on a side note, the book really needs a professional editor).

Telepathy was not uncommon but advanced Mind Manipulation, as I was capable of, was extremely rare.

I had felt different my whole life, mostly because I am different.

“..Your powers are so much stronger than any Talent I’ve ever met,” he sounded almost reverent when he said the last part.

Hmm… unless I’m completely crazy, I’m pretty sure everyone is different, so um… what exactly does that even mean? I’m so tired of young adult novels where the main character is just so friggin special. Worse yet, when they just know that they’re so speshul and different. Talia is your typical mary sue. She’s just so special. I mean, she can move objects with her mind, read other people’s minds, project her feelings to other people. Oh and she can also manipulate people into doing what she wants… with her mind. This particular talent is extremely rare, and she’s just so special because of it. I can’t stress this enough, guys. She’s just so special. Don’t question it. Just roll with it.

When had I become the kind of girl who played boys against each other? Let boys fight over her?

Despite being utterly boring, Talia manages to make two hot guys fall instantly in love with her. When are these cheesy instalove love triangles ever going to stop? They just keep coming. I don’t even understand why these guys like Talia so much. She’s just so whiny and annoying, but I guess it makes sense ‘cause she’s a very speshul snowflake, and there’s just “something about her.” She’s fascinating, and these two boys just can’t get enough of her. Cue sexual tension.

The last thing I should be devoting energy to was boys.

Proceed thinking about said boys further. Talia is an assassin. Supposedly, she’s in training to become one of the deadliest assassins. Riiiiight. I don’t even know what to say. Talia is constantly thinking about her love problems when clearly, she should really focus on, you know, not getting killed. I would think  that takes top priority, but Talia obviously thinks otherwise. She has long curly hair that, ugh, just wouldn’t look good short. Nevermind that it is impractical in missions, flying all over her face and whatnot. A girl’s gotta look good, amirite? What’s really important here is that she looks damn good doing it.

The whole thing was just drama after drama. This book was supposed to be about assassins. No. It is a poorly disguised romance novel with some extra elements thrown in there. He loves me, he loves me not. OMG I shouldn’t be thinking about Erik this way. I have Donovan, but I feel different around Erik. It’s intoxicating, but Donovan loves me. Do I love him? It just goes on and on. I just want some action. Is that too much to ask for in a book that is supposed to be centering on an assassin?

The first was a shiny, metal thermos that he warmed in the fire. The next contained bright red raspberries. The last plastic contained held thick slices of a white, spicy cracked-pepper cheese. Finally, Donovan pulled out a loaf of bread with a crusty brown exterior and a soft white center… I held it under my nose, inhaling the rich aroma, as the steam pouring off the top warmed my face. He handed me half the loaf of bread.

I shortened it for the sake of saving brain cells and eye sights but translation: Talia likes her food.

Okay, since I’ve pointed out what I disliked about this book, I will point out what I did like about this book because overall, it wasn’t that bad. I really like the team dynamic with Talia, Henri, and Erik. I just wished we could have seen more of that. I wanted more missions, so we could see them work together and grow, but unfortunately, the plot took a backseat to the romance in this book which is a shame because this book had potential. I don’t see myself recommending this, but I might go and read the next book in the series. Things started to pick up towards the end of this book, so I am curious to see where this will go.

 

Book Review: The Elite by Kiera Cass

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Let me start off by saying that I actually liked the first book in this series, The Selection. It wasn’t absolutely captivating, but it was nice enough to get through easily. This book, however, is completely different. I found myself forcing myself to get through it in order to give it a fair review. Let me explain.

What I enjoyed about The Selection were the characters. I knew when I read on the back of the book that it was a cross between The Bachelor and The Hunger Games  not to expect anything serious. This lowered expectation actually made the book fun. I liked seeing all the girls in one setting and interacting with one another. It was cute and quirky in its own right.

Now, in The Elite, there are only six girls remaining. The fun element was sucked out with nothing to replace it with – just more drawn out drama. The only characters I liked in the book were Marlee and Carter. I found myself wanting to know more about them than America and her troubles. I don’t understand how this book could be around three-hundred something pages with basically nothing going on. It’s pages and pages of the main character, America Singer, crying and complaining. America has become such an annoying character with her indecisive and impulsive nature. She is seeing two guys at one time, and yet she has the audacity to get mad at Maxon for trying to give the other girls a fighting chance. Yes, because what you’re doing is completely different, America.

That’s not to say that I like Maxon all that much. Sure, I was all over Team Maxon in the first book, but he becomes a lot  less likable in this installment. I get that he has a lot on his plate but using people to feel loved? That’s pretty low. And then there’s all the secrecy. I don’t get it. Did I miss something? Why does he have to keep information from America? I feel like it was just a device to keep us wanting more, but it ended up feeling like a confusing mess.

Although I am not overly fond of love triangles, I can accept and learn to like them if they are written well. This was not the case with The Elite. America keeps having make out sessions with Maxon and Aspen, and yet I don’t feel as if she feels guilty for her actions. Maxon doesn’t even know she’s cheating on him with Aspen, so it’s unfair of her to be upset with him seeing the other girls. It’s what he’s supposed to do. That was the whole point of the Selection, remember?

The world-building is just horrid and rushed. It makes absolutely no sense, and I don’t buy it for one second. How could a country founded on the basis of liberty so easily accept a monarchy just because the guy has money and doesn’t know politics? No way would a whole country just submit to a king like that. For that reason, this novel feels like a romance novel that’s trying a little too hard to go with the current young adult dystopia craze going on. The world doesn’t feel developed or thought out. It just feels rushed and superficial.

In conclusion, I was really disappointed with this book. The writing itself was actually good, but the plot just fell short. There’s no excitement. You don’t feel sympathy for the characters – rather, you find them annoying. I think I will be reading the next book in this series just to see how everything ends. I’ve stuck around long enough to read two of the books, I might as well finish it up. Who knows? It just might get better.