Fab, fab…fab, fab, fab!
When I read Cinder last year, I really liked the way Meyer blended the sci-fi / futuristic elements of the story within a loose framework of the original fairy tale – rather than sticking too rigidly to it and writing a simplistic re-hash. Looking back now, I think I preferred the second half of Cinder to the first, which is perhaps why I liked book 2 better than the first overall.
I have to say that the cover didn’t grab me in the same way that Cinder did – the cyborg foot in the slipper was what drew me to reading Cinder in the first place – to be honest, if this had been book 1 I’d probably have skipped over this one, as it doesn’t have the same intriguing originality of the Cinder cover. That said – even after the first couple of chapters, I had a feeling this was actually going to be better!
Scarlet is a great character, and splitting the novel between her and Cinder provided a nice variation and created a good pace throughout – I found it difficult to put this down and was always wondering where it was going to go next. Scarlet’s story – once she meets Wolf, street fighter and ex-Wolf gang member – is intriguing; as a character she’s pretty feisty and stubborn, which makes for interesting reading and contrasts Cinder’s gentler personality.
The interplay between Scarlet and Wolf is good – always wondering how much you can trust him and how the ‘Red Riding Hood’ fairy tale piece would come into play. Just like Cinder, the fairytale elements are subtly done and when you pick them out, you may find yourself smiling at them like I did – I loved the chase through the wooden forest – visually you could see it making a great scene in a film of the book.
I think the wider story, beyond the fairytale, comes into play more in this book. A lot of the groundwork from Cinder is now developing into a very full and interesting world. The escalation of the situation with Luna and also the glimpses of their society you get now indicate a much wider piece that is sure to come into play next time..
So…why does it get a 5* review? Well, I struggled to put the book down every time I had to; I would have picked up book 3 as soon I finished this one if I could! And I’m still thinking about the characters now and wondering where everything is going to go next….I can’t believe we have to wait until 2014 to find out!
This my first historical YA book in about a year, and this was a nice refresher.
Hazel writes about war and brotherhood really well, letting the dialogue and actions of her characters show the camaraderie and affection that exists between them. Reeve is interesting in his development, from being somewhat naive and idealistic as an English knight, to being more idealistic and honourable as a Scottish rebel, but more realistically so.
I liked the presentation of true brothers and loyalty between soldiers in this book – it felt quite realistic, and I do believe that people fighting for a cause they believe in, over and above a paycheck or lofty ideal, will be the stronger of the two. This definitely came through in this novel.
Wallace was an interesting character – I often found myself lost in the ‘domestic’ level of the story, watching the men going about their daily lives, that I forgot that some of the characters were significant historical figures. They were accessible and admirable at the most basic human level; they supported one another and valued brotherhood and security for their families above all else.
The historic backdrop is well presented: from the battles and lengthy breaks between them, to the villages and people they encounter. Hazel is very descriptive in her writing and I felt she built a strong world around her characters that I could visualise and relate to.
Overall rating: 4* This was an interesting read, with strong characters and for me, was a new take on seeing Wallace from an Englishman’s perspective. The historical notes and ‘add in’ scenes at the end of the novel are interesting for readers and writers alike, for understanding how historical research and facts became fiction.
I thought Angelfall was a really original take on the ‘angels on earth’ theme – I’ve read a few so far (Hush Hush, Forgotten Self) and this definitely leads the pack.
Set in a post-apoclyptic landscape, where angels have been the bringers of destruction – as you might expect from their biblical heritage, but which I’ve not seen used particularly in other angel books – Penryn is our feisty female protagonist, fighting to survive. I found her skills and behaviour plausible in the same way I did Katniss in The Hunger Games: her motivation is protecting her family; her skills come from having to survive a difficult environment, before she was plunged into the apocalypse. The relationship she develops with Raffe (an injured angel) is based on mutual need, and had good depth.
There’s plenty of action in the book, nicely tempered with the world building, so that you see how people have changed because of the apocolypse. Questions of humanity are raised throughout and examined well through secondary characters. There are also some pretty gruesome descriptions and troubling images – they fit with the plot and the events at the end of the world, although some readers might have wished for a more ‘fade to black’ approach…particularly in the big climax at the end.
One thing I especially liked was the presentation of the angels as just another species – so you can get agnostic angels!! – rather than fixing them into traditional biblical roles as you might expect. The angel culture and behaviours are also nicely examined and explained to fit with the author’s world.
Overall – this was a great read – it gets five stars because I struggled to put it down (when I had to) and went searching for the next book as soon as I finished (and was disappointed to find that there’s nothing out as yet!). I need to know what happens! Definitely recommended for fans of angel/demon books, as well as post-apocolyptic.