Thursday, 19 April 2018

Book Review | The Queens of Innis Lear

Genre: High Fantasy

Publication Date: 27th March 2018

My Rating: ★★.5

Goodreads Summary:

A kingdom at risk, a crown divided, a family drenched in blood.

The erratic decisions of a prophecy-obsessed king have drained Innis Lear of its wild magic, leaving behind a trail of barren crops and despondent subjects. Enemy nations circle the once-bountiful isle, sensing its growing vulnerability, hungry to control the ideal port for all trade routes.

The king's three daughters—battle-hungry Gaela, master manipulator Reagan, and restrained, starblessed Elia—know the realm's only chance of resurrection is to crown a new sovereign, proving a strong hand can resurrect magic and defend itself. But their father will not choose an heir until the longest night of the year, when prophecies align and a poison ritual can be enacted.

Refusing to leave their future in the hands of blind faith, the daughters of Innis Lear prepare for war—but regardless of who wins the crown, the shores of Innis will weep the blood of a house divided.

**No Spoilers**

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. I first heard about this book a few months ago and I was immediately interested when I heard the premise: King Lear retold in a high fantasy format. I really like the Shakespeare play, and fantasy is my favourite genre so I was very excited to see where this would go.

Let's start with the positives. The writing was exceptionally beautiful. Gratton has a wonderful talent of painting beautiful and picturesque descriptions with her words alone. I felt like I could imagine every aspect of the island of Innis Lear; it's beautiful hills and moors and forests. I also really loved the magic system. The magic was tied heavily to both the gods and the island itself which I found really unique and interesting. It also just felt like the magic worked hand-in-hand with the environment and plot, and it never felt like a plot device or add-on.

Gratton's characters were all so well-developed, even those that were only there for a few pages. I will say it took me around 50-100 pages to get all the characters straight in my head as I kept muddling up the various lords, but once that was settled, each character became so unique. Ban was obviously the most complex character; making decisions that were both infuriating yet understanding. I loved his mother as well in this. I found Elia to be quite a boring character compared to her sisters, but she was also the most likeable (to an extent). Gaela was incredibly fierce in every aspect of her life, while Reagan was fierce in her mental ability. I loved how different each sister is yet how alike they also were in what they decided to do. I also enjoyed that the author didn't shy away from difficult topics and addressed them (however, I will add trigger warnings for abuse and miscarriage to this review!). Overall, all of the characters were complex and it was so easy to both empathise with them, yet hate every decision they made. They were all flawed and that is exactly what made them so realistic.

My main issue with this book was the very slow pacing and the length of the story. Normally, I don't mind a slow start or a long book (in fact I love long epic fantasies), however, this one just felt like it went on for the sake of it. Some character's perspectives were shown that felt unnecessary, and I just felt like not enough was happening to warrant the length of the book. I really feel as though it could have been shortened by 200 pages and still been an equally amazing novel. 

I did enjoy this book but definitely not as much as I'd initially hoped. The slow pacing really made it less enjoyable for me personally, but I do know a lot of people have found their new favourite book in this. I would highly recommend this for anyone who enjoys character-driven stories, enjoys a slower pace fantasy, and is also a fan of Shakespeare (although I don't think it's necessary to have read the play to enjoy this!).

Wednesday, 4 April 2018

Book Review | Shatter Me

Genre: YA Dystopian

Publication Date: 2nd October 2012

My Rating: ★★

Goodreads Summary:

Juliette hasn’t touched anyone in exactly 264 days.

The last time she did, it was an accident, but The Reestablishment locked her up for murder. No one knows why Juliette’s touch is fatal. As long as she doesn’t hurt anyone else, no one really cares. The world is too busy crumbling to pieces to pay attention to a 17-year-old girl. Diseases are destroying the population, food is hard to find, birds don’t fly anymore, and the clouds are the wrong color.

The Reestablishment said their way was the only way to fix things, so they threw Juliette in a cell. Now so many people are dead that the survivors are whispering war – and The Reestablishment has changed its mind. Maybe Juliette is more than a tortured soul stuffed into a poisonous body. Maybe she’s exactly what they need right now.

Juliette has to make a choice: Be a weapon. Or be a warrior.

**No Spoilers**

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. So, I can tell I'm going to have a hard time writing this review because I've actually already binge-read all four books. Overall, I absolutely really loved this addictive, fast-paced series and would give the books, as a whole, a 4 stars. However, this first book I kind of struggled with. 

First, lets talk about what I liked in this book though. I really loved the writing style, especially as it reflected Juliette's mentality and thought processes; it allowed the reader to really see her development as a character throughout the book. I also feel like it really accurately portrayed her mental state after being left alone for so long in the asylum. I loved her powers and was so excited to see more of them and how powerful she could become, and if she'd ever embrace them.  Juliette was slightly weak as a character in this book, but it definitely left a lot of room for growth in future books (and even a bit within this book!). Mafi has a great skill of writing complex characters with even more complicated motives and backstories. This is definitely more seen in future books though, and I wish this first book had more character development for certain characters, because a few of them fell flat to me (especially Adam).

This book was so quick and easy to read. It was fast-paced and action-packed, and the ending made me immediately want to pick up the next book (which I did!). Mafi's writing is just so addictive and enjoyable. In the end though, I gave this book a three stars because, although it was super quick to read and very enjoyable, the instalove was somewhat unbearable. I know it's addressed later in the series but this trope is just one of my least favourites things to see in YA books. I disliked both Adam and Warner in this book and the lack of real communicated bothered me. I also felt the worldbuilding was somewhat lacking (although this is somewhat expected in the first book in a series) and I wish Juliette had discovered more about the world in this book. 

Overall, although it contained some tropes I really dislike, the writing style and addictive style of this book helped me to really enjoy it. I immediately picked up the next 3 books in the series and thoroughly enjoyed them. I think this is perfect for people who enjoy books with power/abilities or the dystopian aspects. I will say that this first book doesn't do justice to the rest of the series though. If you stopped after Shatter Me then I definitely recommend just reading the novella that comes after this book to see if it can convince you to pick up the next book. They're well worth the read!