Tuesday, 28 October 2014

BOOK REVIEW: The Silent Deal by Levi Stack

The Silent Deal by Levi Stack

Genre: Fiction/ Historical Fiction/ Young Adult/Fantasy

My Rating: ★★★★1/2

Goodreads Summary:

WHEN VIKTOR AND ROMULUS, two peasant boys, dig into their town’s strange past, they awaken the wrath of a mysterious overlord. As the blood brothers struggle to survive, their search for answers takes them through gambling parlors, fortune-teller dens, and moonlit forests full of monsters and men alike. 

**Spoiler Free Review**

I was happy to receive an ebook copy of The Silent Deal from the author, Levi Stack, in exchange for an honest review.

I wasn't entirely sure what to expect from this book when I first began it but it wasn't long before I was completely hooked on the story. I don't want to give too much of the plot away as I think going into this book without knowing everything is probably for the best. But what do you get when you combine Russia with gypsies, peasants, a mysterious overlord, thieves, fire-jugglers, playing cards and a little bit of magic? A brilliant story, that's what.

The book is set in Russia in the 1830s, a land of aristocrats and serfs. The main character, Viktor, lives in Aryk with a mysteries and hidden past which no-one talks about, but everyone knows it is related to the cards. When Viktor meets the strange forest-boy, known as Romulus, they dive head-first into the enigma of the cards to discover more of the town's past, and their own.

I absolutely loved the mystery and intrigue which surrounds the plot, it is quite literally a page-turner. Every time you think you learn something, another twist turns the plot in a new direction you couldn't have imagined. I was thrilled to find I couldn't predict any of the mysteries in the novel, and the one's I thought I had guessed right, were often wrong. I was left stunned and amazed by many the revelations and they kept me reading until the very end. Also the use of cards in the text was just brilliant and so cleverly interwoven in the plot.

The characters were so well-rounded, realistic and funny, often making the mistakes that a real child/teen would in naivety and innocence. I was behind the characters from the start and the introduction of the gypsy's made me even more in love with the characters. Also, despite his sometimes annoying nature in the book (which is definitely intentional), I found Belch's constant use of Shakespearean quotes  very funny.

I loved the setting of the novel, Russia in the 1830s is and incredibly interesting time-period and Stack creates a vivid picture of the time and its history. He clearly put a lot of research into the novel and it certainly pays off. The world in which Viktor lives feels both richly real yet incredibly fantastical. The descriptions make the world so vivid leaving the story, despite its fiction, feeling very real.

My only slight problem with the book was that parts felt a little rushed and I sometimes had to go back to see what had happened. However, I can't tell if this because I was reading so quickly, as I was caught up with the plot, or if it occasionally jumped ahead of itself. I also found the start a little difficult as it went through a couple of dream sequences fairly quickly and I became confused as to what was actually happening in the story and what was imagined. These are only minor concerns however.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this book and I really can't wait to read the next book in the sequence. I would definitely recommend this to lovers of Historical Fiction and those who love the setting of Russia, as I do. I'll definitely be picking up a physical copy as soon as I can.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

BOOK REVIEW: Requiem by Lauren Oliver

Requiem by Lauren Oliver

Genre: Dystopian/Young Adult Fiction

My Rating: ★★

Goodreads Summary:

They say that in the old days, love drove people to madness. The deadliest of all deadly things: It kills you both when you have it and when you don't.

**Spoiler-Free Review**

Requiem was dubbed the “exciting finale” to Lauren Oliver’s Delirium Trilogy when it was released earlier this year, seemingly promising to tie up all the loose ends and offer an exciting conclusion to the previous two novels: Delirium and Pandemonium. The trilogy offers a new and interesting take on both the idea of love and to dystopian fiction. Normally, I’m not really into the whole love story but in her first novel, the idea actually seemed to work. The novel is set in a world where the totalitarian government teaches that love is a disease called amor deliria nervosa and, at the age of 18, a mandatory surgical cure is used on everyone so they can never love and be infected with the disease.

I really loved this idea (ironically) and it was so different to any other dystopian fiction. After having read the previous two novels, and enjoyed them both, I was incredibly excited for Requiem; to finally know what happened to the characters and how the war between the cured and normal was resolved.

In the first book the characters were rather two dimensional in my opinion but the story was very well told. This incredible story progressed even further in the second novel where there was also a sudden character growth and the storyline became even more complicated and exciting, which made you care about everything in the books. However, Requiem seemed to regress, resulting in every character becoming less likeable and too two dimensional. Even worse? The actual storyline.

The entire book felt consumed by a love triangle and their petty squabbles rather than focusing on the society and war which had been built up in the previous book. This led to an even worse ending, that I was just stunned at. The entire novel had felt as though it was building up to a big climax, similar to The Hunger Games, where you discovered what happened to both the characters and the world they live in. Requiem had none of this. It ended with far too many loose ends that I couldn’t even count them. Furthermore, it lacked any closure or revelation about what had happened to the characters. Perhaps this was to make room for another book to come out? However, as far as we know, there isn’t.

Sorry to ruin this novel for anyone who has not yet read it, but I felt like it had to be known what a disappointment this was as an apparently “exciting finale” – which was neither exciting nor conclusive. I still really enjoyed the first two books in this series and would wholeheartedly recommend them to anyone, but be warned, the last novel might leave you more disappointed than if you never read it!