Want by: Cindy Pon

Summary:

Jason Zhou survives in a divided society where the elite use their wealth to buy longer lives. The rich wear special suits that protect them from the pollution and viruses that plague the city, while those without suffer illness and early deaths. Frustrated by his city’s corruption and still grieving the loss of his mother, who died as a result of it, Zhou is determined to change things, no matter the cost.

With the help of his friends, Zhou infiltrates the lives of the wealthy in hopes of destroying the international Jin Corporation from within. Jin Corp not only manufactures the special suits the rich rely on, but they may also be manufacturing the pollution that makes them necessary.

Yet the deeper Zhou delves into this new world of excess and wealth, the more muddled his plans become. And against his better judgment, Zhou finds himself falling for Daiyu, the daughter of Jin Corp’s CEO. Can Zhou save his city without compromising who he is or destroying his own heart?

The Review:

This was one of my anticipated reads, mainly because I was of Cindy Pon’s other book Serpentine, and I always felt she was very underrated within the book community.

First of all, I love how Cindy Pon takes advantage of the setting which is in Taipei, Taiwan set in the distant future, and from what I was told this is the first Sci Fi book set within that area. It also deals with pollution and how it affects the population. The main aspect of the book is how it deals with class. The upper class gets special suits in order to protect them from diseases and the bad pollution, while the lower class has to fend for themselves. It really reminded me of Legend by Marie Lu in the aspect.

“Mei” means without and “You” means to have. That’s the terminology that Pon uses to describe the social classes.

Jason Zhou is the main protagonist,and he reminded me a lot of Day in which he was someone who wanted to change the system by any means necessary, and of course with the death of his mother he feels as if it is his duty. He goes undercover to become a you, in order to destroy the Jin Coproaration, the company who manufactures the suits from within.

During his undercover mission he befriends Dairu, the daughter of the CEO of Jin Corp. Jason and Daiyu relationship I thought was very well developed. Its starts with them befriending one another and than an actual relationship begins to blossom. While it does feel a bit of a cliche,it was a well developed cliche. I kinda wish that Daiyu had some POV chapters as well just to get some of her side of the story, mainly because I really did like the character. She had a lot more agency with her, she more than just a girl that the main character has to woo, she was very smart in her own right.

If I were to point out a negative is that I wish some of the secondary characters had a bit more developed, and were better fleshed out. An example was a friend of Daiyu, whose basic story arc revolved around him telling Jason to stay away from Dairu. But I did think that the characters from Jason’s crew were fleshed out, and they reminded me a bit of the crew from Firefly. Hopefully as sequel will flesh out a lot of the characters.

I also like the twists and turns that the book went through, while yes some of it was very predictable there was a few that I didn’t really see coming, but then when you think about it the twists made some sense.

In the end, Want was a very good book delivered by Cindy Pon. She created some great characters and took advantage of a great setting. She created a great world that I want to see more of in future sequels..

Grade: 4.3/5

 

Wintersong by: S-Jae Jones

Summary:

All her life, nineteen-year-old Liesl has heard tales of the beautiful, mysterious Goblin King. He is the Lord of Mischief, the Ruler Underground, and the muse around which her music is composed. Yet, as Liesl helps shoulder the burden of running her family’s inn, her dreams of composition and childish fancies about the Goblin King must be set aside in favor of more practical concerns.

But when her sister Käthe is taken by the goblins, Liesl journeys to their realm to rescue her sister and return her to the world above. The Goblin King agrees to let Käthe go—for a price. The life of a maiden must be given to the land, in accordance with the old laws. A life for a life, he says. Without sacrifice, nothing good can grow. Without death, there can be no rebirth. In exchange for her sister’s freedom, Liesl offers her hand in marriage to the Goblin King. He accepts.

Down in the Underground, Liesl discovers that the Goblin King still inspires her—musically, physically, emotionally. Yet even as her talent blossoms, Liesl’s life is slowly fading away, the price she paid for becoming the Goblin King’s bride. As the two of them grow closer, they must learn just what it is they are each willing to sacrifice: her life, her music, or the end of the world.

The Review:

This was another book on my TBR and also one of debut authors I was excited to read about. What also excited me was that it was a sort of retelling of the movie Labyrinth, one of my favorite movies.

This book is very character driven. Liesl, is someone who is sort of the odd person out in her family, and usually has to play second fiddle to her younger brother and sister, who are more musically talented than she is. The book also focuses on the fact that she doesn’t fit the conventional beauty of the world., and I like the fact that she wasn’t given this huge makeover to become beautiful. Also despite everything she still loves her sister in order to free her from the Goblin King, and would do everything for her.

The Goblin King, while not exactly the Goblin King from the movie Labyrinth, he reminded me a bit of earlier seasons Rumple from Once a Upon a Time. While as the legends say he is suppose to be the monster you stay away from. I feel the story really picked up when The Goblin King was introduced. His back story was also really well done, without giving too much away you see why he takes an interest in Liesl.

While the relationship with Liesl and The Goblin King, seemed very wrong at first as the book went one in reminded me a lot of Beauty and the Beast. You find out that The Goblin King has a desire for music, which is why he chosen Liesl to begin with. I also liked the relationship was gradual over time and not completely rushed like other YA novels.

A negative I would have to point out is the pacing. I felt the pacing was way to fast in the beginning and I wish I saw more of the trials of Leisl trying to find her sister in the Underground. While the Underground scenes were very good I just wanted to see more of it, especially as a fan of Labyrinth.

I also felt that the ending was very rushed an anti-climatic. It just felt as if it was added at the last minute to add some conflict to the plot. I think there’s another book so hopefully it will add more to the story.

In the end, I enjoyed Wintersong, while it wasn’t as good as I wanted it to be, it was an enjoyable with a great leading protagonist, a good retelling of the story of the Goblin King. While it was very character driven, the characters added a lot to the book.

Grade: 3.9/5


 

Leviathan by: Scott Westerfeld

Summary:

Prince Aleksander, would-be heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, is on the run. His own people have turned on him. His title is worthless. All he has is a battletorn war machine and a loyal crew of men.

Deryn Sharp is a commoner, disguised as a boy in the British Air Service. She’s a brilliant airman. But her secret is in constant danger of being discovered.

With World War I brewing, Alek and Deryn’s paths cross in the most unexpected way…taking them on a fantastical, around-the-world adventure that will change both their lives forever.

The Review:

This book has been on my TBR for a long time, and I finally picked it up last week, and now I am kicking myself wondering why it took me so long to read this book.

The story is set within an alternative historical take on World War II, with a lot of steampunk elements to it. It makes a few changes such as hanging how the war started. Instead of an assassination it was a poisoning of the Archduke and his wife that started the war. Now Alek is on the run from those who want to kill him, especially with him being an heir to Austria-Hungary.

With the elements of World War I, was really good. Westerfeld added the Clankers vs. Darwinists twist to the story. I really liked the design of the Clankers, they reminded me a lot of the AT-ATs from Star Wars, and it still felt like it was built in World War I. The Darwinists has vehicles lead by animals. Seeing the designs in the book really made it easier to be pictured in my head.

Alek, is one of the main protagonists, and while he is prince, he doesn’t come across as snobby and he always wants in on the action. Throughout the book he is of course on the run, and trying to figure out what happened to his parents. Deryn is another protagonist. She dresses up like a boy in order to join the army. She is very brilliant, and she reminded me a lot of Herminone with a little bit of Mulan in her. I like how you see the war from her point of view, and I also like seeing the Darwinists and their ships. She spends a majority of the time training with them.

I also really like the supporting characters. Count Volger is a great father figure to Alek after his parents die. Dr. Nora Barlow is a British scientist who has a great personality and is very brilliant.

The world building is also really good. Scott Westerfeld does a good job at presenting us with a World War I, with a lot of great steampunk elements to it, and it doesn’t feel like it was out of date, which is a real danger when dealing with steampunk set in the past. It also provided a lot of elements and information about World War I without feeling as if it was info dumping.

In the end, Leviathan was a very good read, that takes Alternative Historical fiction and mixes a lot of steampunk and science fiction elements to it. Both characters are extremely well developed and the plot has you turning the page at every turn.

Grade: 5/5

 

Empress of A Thousand Skies by: Rhonda Belleza

Summary:

The only surviving heir to an ancient Kalusian dynasty, RHEE has spent her life training to destroy the people who killed her family. Now, on the eve of her coronation, the time has finally come for Rhee to claim her throne – and her revenge.

ALYOSHA is a Wraetan who has risen above his war refugee origins to find fame as the dashing star of a DroneVision show. Despite his popularity, Aly struggles with anti-Wraetan prejudices and the pressure of being perfect in the public eye.

Their paths collide with one brutal act of violence: Rhee is attacked, barely escaping with her life. Aly is blamed for her presumed murder.

The princess and her accused killer are forced to go into hiding – even as a war between planets is waged in Rhee’s name. But soon, Rhee and Aly discover that the assassination attempt is just one part of a sinister plot. Bound together by an evil that only they can stop, the two fugitives must join forces to save the galaxy.

In this exhilarating debut for fans of Marissa Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles and Pierce Brown’s Red Rising trilogy, RHODA BELLEZA crafts a powerful saga of vengeance, warfare, and the true meaning of legacy.

The Review:

This book was on my Top 5 Wednesday: Debuts I am Excited For, mainly because I am a fan of sci fi epics, and judging by the blurb it looked like that what I was in for.

The story takes place on several different points of the galaxy, and is told through two perspectives Rhee, the heir to the empire and Alyosha or Aly, a refugee and star of a very popular TV show or Drone vision. I am of course a fan of books with duo perspectives because it gives a us a closer look at the world the book takes in from different sides. As the story starts off both characters are basically fugitives on the run, and it really dives right into the plot. It starts when Rhee almost getting killed, and realizing that she has been betrayed. Aly, is the one who is blamed for it, mainly because of he is a Wraetan, and was also set by someone he trusted.

Throughout the book, both of them are trying to figure out what’s happening and why. With Rhee, she suspects that it has something to do with a Treaty that was suppose to be ratified in order to keep peace among the galaxy. It was also because of the peace deal, that her family ended up being killed. Aly is trying to clear his name, and figure out why the assassination took place.

I like both characters of the book. Both of them have good arcs to their story and you could see them changing throughout the book, also they also don’t actually cross paths in this book, which is a strange choice by the author, but I think they will in future.

One of my main problems with the book, is how the world building was handled. With world building I want to feel as if I am in space, and I feel that a lot of the back story was kinda glossed over, and in a SFF book world building should have been better. I also felt a lot of the plot was very rushed , and the action didn’t take its time to breathe or slow down. I also felt that the supporting characters were also very thinly developed, and just sort of came and went with the plot. I think some may have a bigger role in the next book.

Don’t get me wrong, I did like the book but when compared to other books such as Red Rising, and Starflight, it just kinda feel flat.

In the end, Empress of a Thousand Skies, was good but a bit disappointing. It had good main characters but the story was very rushed and lacked a lot of the world building I like from other SFF books.

Grade: 3/5