Tag Archives: YA

Talon by Julie Kagawa


TalonTalon by Julie Kagawa

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

As YA fiction, this was an OK book. Very teen oriented. Less Fantasy, more Angsty!
Ember and Dante are twins, they’re Dragons, but they’re disguised as humans (and can transform back to their true forms). They’re still young, and are training to assimilate and infiltrate the human world undetected. The rules of the Dragon species and government – Talon – are so strict that their training and ultimate placement within the system is unknown to them until they are ready to fulfil their purpose. The structure is supposedly for self-preservation, and the survival of their species. If a dragon disobeys, or leaves Talon, they are the “Rogues”.

The Dragons are mercilessly hunted by the soldiers of the Order of St George (of course), who are as rigidly set to their purpose as those high up in the Talon order. A member of this militia is Garret, also only a teenager, sent to find the dragon hiding out.

In typical “two worlds collide” metaphor (with the rest of the human race there just as the landscape) Ember and Garret enter into a relationship, which heads to its inevitable conclusion when they eventually realise that they are on opposite sides.

There was only a little introduction into the politics and mechanics of the Talon and St George systems, this could benefit from greater world building and context. As the first in a series, it’s possible this is expanded upon later. Each chapter is told from the perspective of a particular character, so the story mostly unfolds through first-person narrative. As the characters are of similar age, and have similar motivations, their voices are not distinct enough to carry the reader through, without constantly checking the chapter heading to remind yourself who the current narrator is.

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Blood And Chocolate by Annette Curtis Klause


Blood And Chocolate
Blood And Chocolate by Annette Curtis Klause

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A nice easy read with a decent story line.
Vivian is a strong-willed self-assured teenager, who also happens to come from a family of werewolves. Despite having free choice of all the boys within her own “species”, she finds herself obsessed with a human boy. One who writes poetry and wishes there were more supernatural occurrences in the world. But when the boy, Aiden, finds out her secret, he reacts in a typically human way…

A fairly standard tale of teenage-angst, however with the emotionally stronger character being the teenage girl. A better feminism stance than some other YA fantasy books. There’s still the issue of some male characters being a bit overly sexually-aggressive, even for werewolves, but at least our heroine can stand up for herself.

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Watership Down by Richard Adams


Watership Down
Watership Down by Richard Adams

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Give me a horror book with murder and mayhem involving human beings, and I’ll barely blink an eye. Humanise a group of rabbits and their battle for freedom from the evil humans and other militant rabbits, and I’ll cry like a baby.

Fiver has something of a sixth sense, and knows something “bad” is about to happen to their warren. So he convinces his brother Hazel, and a small group of bucks to venture out and start a new life somewhere else. Somewhere on a hill, open and defensible. Watership Down.

These brave bunnies work together to overcome obstacles, both natural and man made. They keep their spirits up by recounting their myths and legends. Finally they locate a perfect, beautiful spot to start their new warren. There’s only one problem: no does, therefore no kittens, and the warren will be a very short lived venture. Which is how they run in to the vicious General Woundwort and the Efrafa rabbits. Escape to the country becomes infiltration and The Great Escape.

Written for children, but certainly not written to talk down to children, this book is worthy of the term “classic”. The moral tales should be required reading for all ages. Just like how science fiction works by transposing the struggles and themes of today onto a fantastical backdrop, by similarly telling a story of family and community through the “bright eyes” of these rabbits, you can discuss serious topics without becoming bogged-down in grim reality. A must read.

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Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer


Breaking Dawn
Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is probably the best book of the series. Well, the first half is. For me, that’s primarily because a large proportion of the book is told from Jacob’s perspective. A lot more goes on in his head than Bella’s. As soon as it goes back to her, the plot slows back down again. We go from the complexities of the wolf-pack’s splintering dynamics and the stress and worry over whether Bella will survive her “condition”, immediately to “Edward is sooooo beautiful!”. I almost didn’t read the second half of the book!

I can see why the movie version made the changes that they did in terms of plot-pacing (and action sequences)! Other than the gathering of the witnesses, not much else really happens. Kind of anti-climactic after that long saga. All talk, no action. Not even a watered-down sex scene! That’s skipped over (several times!).

As for the wolf-imprinting thing, that could have been a really dodgy situation, imprinting on a child… but luckily that’s handled in a fairly sensitive manner. It did however sew up all the loose ends of the story in almost too-neat a fashion. Everything is just too perfect at the end. Which is why I think I couldn’t properly lose myself in this “reality” because there wasn’t any part of it which was linked to the real world. None of the characters were flawed. Only Bella had flaws, and only when she were human, as it turned out that her impenetrable mind and constant worry became her strongest asset. Her clumsiness vanished along with her humanity.

I can see why teens and YA are drawn to this story, planning for a perfect future with the perfect spouse. Unfortunately, it doesn’t really teach the young adult that the real world doesn’t work that way. It’s definitely a fairy story, with a “and they all lived happily ever after…” at the end. No description of how to stay together with the same spouse for several hundred years! What about all those annoying personal habits that people have? Oh right, they’re perfect, of course!

If nobody had any flaws, and everyone were the same, what a dull world this would be. People need their flaws and idiosyncrasies to make them believable.

In short, this whole saga was OK. But I hope that any young adult (or adult!) reading these books takes away the message of having to fight for what you believe in, and not the “happily ever after” stuff.

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New Moon by Stephenie Meyer


New Moon
New Moon by Stephenie Meyer
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

That girl really needs to grow a pair of ovaries and learn to stand on her own two feet! My goodness, she’s far far too dependent on her boy obsession du-jour to actually have a personality of her own.

Edward was a total cowardly dick, just running off the second things got complicated! ..and somewhat wet behind the ears. Jacob’s character was fleshed out much more this time around, and became a bit more substantial – in terms of both character development and physical description (exactly how BIG does that boy grow in only a couple of months!? Each time he comes back into the story he’s described as getting even bigger!). But the werewolf threat was something of a non-event.

So, why are either of them fighting for or over Bella? I’m still not sure on this one!

There wasn’t much of a “big bad” in this book either. The threat by this Victoria was mostly unseen. The only time things got more action-oriented was the trip to Italy to save Edward – which was over in a flash.

Having said that, this wasn’t a bad book. It kept me entertained for a couple of days! As an easy to read piece of fluff, it does quite well. Obviously it’s aimed at the (slightly) younger reader, and as such can’t be too full of blood and guts.. it’s just me that sought that kind of thing out when I was younger!

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