Saturday, 31 March 2012

The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson

This a YA fantasy novel that begins on the wedding day of sixteen year-old Princess Elisa. Being the chosen one, the one every century born with the Godstone in her navel, a lot is expected from her as a conduit for God's will in the world. Yet this stone, a priceless blue jewel, is unique enough to cause a host of problems.

I have to say that the reason I gave this book a five rating is because it's has been a while since I've been unable to put a book down and I've had this need to know what happens next: that insatiable urge to keep reading. It's probably courtesy of it being a YA fantasy that it was as fast-paced as it was, but it's still slower than other YA books thanks to the fantasy elements. The other reason I loved this book so was that at the end, when she confronts the Animages (which isn't a spoiler), I was just buzzing. Had I been a cat, I would have purred uncontrollably since I was experiencing a high like no other: where I just wanted to read as fast as I could and ascertain what happened, yet restricting myself to understand fully what would transpire (and also to extend the feeling).

One of the things that hit me early on as a pleasant surprise was that are heroine was fat. Not average sized, and definitely not thin, but undeniably fat and a lover of all things edible. I mean, I got hungry reading sometimes! But no, I like that books don't shy away from these things, especially in a protagonist. Too often they're the athletic type, or if not they are rarely fat: the general description is someone who couldn't be described as thin, but is healthy and fit. There is nothing wrong with that, but figures show that most people think of themselves as fat and obesity is a problem in the Western World.

I felt the story was a tad clichéd at times: a mix of princess in a new country/city, the chosen one and the less loved sibling. But Elisa's character- her voice, wit and attitude- made everything seem shiny and new and made me love the book so much. It underlined how no one judged her for her weight (mass!), but valued the quality of her mind or personality. Her strength of character. But again, this is a small part. Weight doesn't define who we are, though it is a huge anxiety in our society. As such, it never defined Elisa as a protagonist, as a princess or as the chosen one.

Other characters in the book were fine, but less interesting than Elisa and, on occasion, less fleshed out. It makes sense though in that because Elisa was such a good character, there was a good chance one would feel like this. Cosmé, Alejandro or Alodia all seemed to fall into a set character type for fantasy novels- yet in fairness they had some more exceptional qualities. Personally though, I felt they were mostly plot-orientated. They developed somewhat and were relatively interesting, but they were there to fill a function mostly: and their development wasn't entirely unique or unprecedented.

One thing I didn't think I'd be saying when I started was that I loved the religion element in this book. I'm not religious, and I didn't see why it was important early on: I found it distracting and in some ways unnecessary. But you slowly realise how important it is and, rather than being solely about religious zeal, it becomes apparent how important it is as part of this world; both as a motivation for characters (good and evil) and the impact this has on the world. Part of me says this is merely their interpretation of events and that there needn't be a God, but it doesn't matter. Part of me expects a sequel to have an atheist character who argues exactly this.

The God element is also fantastic in that my favourite bit involved the words Elisa uses whilst...optimising the Godstone. I always think the archaic sound of the Bible or ancient texts sounds powerful in some way: probably because it is, A, unusual to our ears and, B, writers had a certain way (with a certain tempo and use of stresses) to write. It really made that scene for me.

If you like fantasy, it is incredibly easy to recommend this, I think. It doesn't complicated the simple and well written characters with a well-formulated plot means that anyone who doesn't have a vendetta against fantasy will has a good chance of seriously liking this book. I rank this up there with Night Circus, so I hope you can understand my love for it.

Friday, 30 March 2012

Dark Lady's Chosen by Gail Z. Martin

Though there are no spoilers for this book, this book contains spoilers from books one, two and three. You have been warned!!! (It's also early on in the review.)

The next book in this (seeming interminable) series is the continuation and arguable conclusion of what occurred in book 3, Dark Haven. We see the end of the plot to kill Kiara, the result of the War with Curane, the fate of Cam of Cairnrach as well as the fate of Dark Haven itself- an ending wound up with the lives of Jonmarc and Carina.

This a well structured book, in my opinion. It seemed that Martin had accepted that, by the end of Dark Haven, everything was coming to its end; for better or for worse. So the majority of the book actually only takes place over 5 days, and the chapters in those days are split between the multiple story lines. I get that some people would rather dislike this (arguable) mess, but it worked for the book. On her site, she says this book was about the aftermath of events that are the settling down of chaos and order into some sort of balance: something I'm going to venture in saying is represented through the written style. It is a bit hectic and indiscernible at times, but there is a clear order and structure that is adhered to.

All the plots seem to figure themselves out in the expected manner: people survive, at a cost or they survive only to find a greater challenge. I don't think anyone would be blown away by the outcome of events since you you've probably been expecting it and though you're obviously happy with the result, you won't be overflowing with excitement after having read it. On the other hand though, you'll never be inconsolable. So if you want a book which isn't going to stress you out to much as a reader, but you can still enjoy reading, this is an excellent choice.

Getting more into specifics...

I felt that Kiara's plot and storyline got slowly more repetitive as time went on. She'd make the mistake of feeling safe or powerful, and then a threat would rear its ugly head. She would survive it, but it underlines the precariousness of her position as well as risking something concerning her unborn child. I am being somewhat cynical, but it has to be said that for an interesting character who could have a had a much more interesting story (in my opinion) it was annoying that it descended into repeating itself. The most interesting bit was the end of her plot. I'm not saying that it was great because it was over (though that lingers at the back of my mind) but because the possible repercussions are interesting. I believe her child will be a mage and that the excess of wormroot (a magic inhibiting drug) in her system from the dart will give the baby an unusual tolerance for it.

I'm of the same sort of opinion of Cam's story too. I feel like his was only used to remind us of the divisionists and the widespread chaos in the kingdoms; otherwise it wasn't too important.

Tris' story was when he was still at war with Curane. His story was also a tad dull, but the ever-looming battle and the mystery surrounding what to do and what new horrors would be encountered kept be reading quickly through these pages. Give whatever meaning to it what you will, I really enjoy reading about battles that involve magic and average soldiers. Part of it is my inbuilt love of magic, but I think I just like the idea of combat magic since it is the most instinctive side of magic and can have interesting consequences. What I disliked about this portion was that Tris seemed to be constantly at the edge of his power, but still managing to hold on. His comments on his growing fatigue and loss of power got a bit dull.

For me though, the Dark Haven story of Jonmarc and Carina was much more interesting. I think that might have been because it was the one story that wasn't so clear cut. The others ones needed their players to survive in order to continue. This story only needed one and, in Carina's case, that one didn't need to come about completely unscathed. If I look back on their story now, the same cynicism takes over that they were hardly the most interesting and that the story was hardly unique. There were conflicts with the revolting (as in revolution) Vampires and Jonmarc's fear of loosing Carina. Carina had her own problems in trying to avoid the taint of Vampirism that warred with her healing magic for dominance. I guess their story was also interesting because it was a chance to learn more about the flow: the river of magical energy in these lands.

So I was impressed with this book. Maybe Dark Haven was a book to set up this one which, in so many ways, was much better. It's actually the end of the Chronicle's of the Necromancer Series, since the following books are a separate series which (I suspect) have a more active focus on Jonmarc. Though maybe it instead focuses on the children of the people on these books: the series being the symbol for the next generation.

Also, bonus points if anyone know who is on the front of this book. Is it Carina???

Saturday, 24 March 2012

Dark Haven by Gail Z. Martin

Though there are no spoilers for this book, this book contains a major (unavoidable) spoiler from books one and two. You have been warned!!! (It's also early on in the review.)

This the third in a series of fantasy, sword-and-sorcery novels following Martris "Tris" Drayke but now begins a split narrative that also follow Jonmarc Vahanian who is Mortal Lord of Dark Haven, the Land of the Vampires. Both are at war with one another and we see that though, perhaps, the major events are now ever, their effects are still being felt and the problem lingers still.

In some ways, I wasn't looking forward to this book. I like fantasy because I like magic and mythical creatures, and though Jonmarc is great character, I was initially worried that the magic (which, as I said, is the core fantasy element that I like) would take a back-seat. In some ways this is true, but it still took up half the narrative.

Jonmarc's is based on the fact that he is mortal among vampires, some of which are unwilling to have a mortal Lord. The central elements seem to be that he is rebuilding an ignored land to help its deprived inhabitants, as well as dealing with curbing an uprising and a war between the dead and the undead. Tris now the (SPOILER) King of Margolan is trying to do something similar as he stabilises a country in turmoil, secures the succession (since the Usurper was violently promiscuous) and enters into an inevitable war.

I point both of them out for a particular reason: they are both trying to help people who are starving and they both say how, though a King and a Lord, celebrations should be muted and in-extravagant. Yet it annoyed me to see them eating into heaps and heaps of food, dress up in expensively tailored clothes made for the occasions and basically spend truck loads of money. They proclaim the need to help and defend the interests of the people and say they cannot consider huge extravagance; the needs of the people are more important. It just frustrated me that this seemed persistently ignored.

That aside though, the plots were straightforward, run-of-the-mill stories, but well done such that you probably wouldn't be bored. The things I said earlier about the plot is basically just that in the long run, except with internal dialogue, romance and specifics. Yet the magic in it is that the characters involved are so interesting. Rather than being high and mighty, they are normal people who would fit in easily in a modern age because their outlook is understandable and they themselves are easy to empathise with. There is none of that sickening nonsense about "duty", "honour" and "loyalty" that is the Knight's code. They are still people, despite their rank. And they're interesting too. They come from different backgrounds- Vahanian is very much a rogue and former outlaw- which means that there's diversity between them. And, which I consider a huge bonus, the women are written as being capable alongside capable men. Too often I feel that though a balance is almost struck, few writers get across an idea that the female characters can defend themselves as well as having men who have a vulnerable, soft side. But I see it here (most of the time) and it's nice.

The magic in the book is something which is still important. In previous books it talks about how the flow (source of magical aptitude and power) is becoming unstable and chaotic due to dark magic, and this continued in the book. Tris is actually a spirit mage, so he can summon and converse with dead spirits and all but go to the land of the dead. It means that one of the main characters is constantly aware of the flow and can relay to us what happens concerning it. Again, it's run-of-the-mill stuff, but it's well done.

Romance...I don't know. It's there but I get this feeling that everyone keeps pairing up. Tris and Kiara are still a nice little couple and I appreciate how this isn't mad love but companionship and support: which I like to think is a more realistic relationship. There's also a whole thing involving Kiara as the bride of Tris, but I don't want to give anything away on that front since I found it so interesting. Vahanian has Carina, and their courting continues and develops fairly quickly, which is why I feel like people are being paired off. I like them as a couple too, especially since they were always at odds (though it annoyed me that this has kind of dwindled and been lost).

I'm not doing a very good job of selling this book to anyone, but I genuinely believe in my heart of hearts that this is a good book and part of that the reason is because Gail Z. Martin is such an excellent storyteller and craftswoman  for the characters and turmoil. One of the huge boons of this and the other books is that it is so easy and so pleasant to just get lost in this story for a few hours.

Sunday, 18 March 2012

The Eleventh Plague by Jeff Hirsch

This debut novel is a YA post-apocolyptic novel set in a world where global biological war has led to the death of almost everyone on the planet- or at least in America. The story follows Stephen as he tries to survive in this world with his father and the people he may encounter.

I was actually surprised in some ways with this book because I didn't really like the cover and kind of expected it to be clichéd or the same science-fiction end-of-the-world scenario. Boy was I wrong! I was gripped throughout this book and even though I wasn't in love with the ending, it was in general brilliant at keeping the story moving and myself interested.

The main events of the plot happen fairly quickly, and in some ways you can guess as to where it is going. Yet the action is fluid and keeps coming so you never feel bored with events. Trying to survive in this world is emphasised as being extremely difficult, so it makes sense that Stephen and everyone else is so on edge so much of the time. I like the small division between him and his father too since it is so believable ands makes sure their is conflict there at almost all times, even when it could have waned. And doing it without cliché've got to hand it to him. And if you think about more, you realise he got the teenage rebellion element mentioned early too so it's realistic AND foreshadowing in some ways!

Stephen eventually arrives at Settler's Landing where society has been partially rebuilt by old Americans. It's a creepy place, in my opinion. With all the suffering and horror of the outside world, and then there is this little paradise where they have not only medicine and sustinence, but a school, weapons and perhaps more I've forgotten. Now the fact they have these things I can accept: they've lodged in an area that was previously inhabited so this stuff was already there. The problem is that I can't believe this place does and has existed for so long practically unscathed. Surely something would have happened? Or perhaps (and here's the creepiness, creeping in) the leaders are involved in something much shadier than we realise and that no one else is aware of.

The other creepy thing is how the inhabitants have tailored this settlement to be almost exactly like how America was before the Collapse. Now I don't have a problem with the American way of life, but if this society is proof that it led to war, why are they repeating it? This is something the author brings up too, but it is a terribly poignant point. It's that old adage that if we don't learn from history, we are bound to repeat its mistakes. I guess it also underlines how are own lives are too comfortable and that, at the end of things, we are creatures of habit. To rebuild something you lost, it feels normal and comfortable. I don't think these people are undeserving of happiness, but I think they are pursuing to blindly and, perhaps, wrongly.

The romance (since I feel it has to mentioned) isn't terrible, but it took a backseat in my eyes. It was there, but it wasn't the "Oh my God, I'm so in love with you" kind, which was nice. There was more an feeling of mutual attraction that was acknowledged, but kept as a minor thing. In a world such as theirs, it's no huge surprise that any relationship is approached carefully. And in terms of the end, it makes it less difficult and questionable.

A fantastic post-apocolytia that, if you like YA, I can imagine you liking, but not if you're particularly into romance as a huge thing.

Friday, 16 March 2012

We by Yevgeny Zamyatin

A Classic dystopian that follows an unnamed man, a man who is but a number. In a world ruled by OneState under the Benefactor, humanity is seen as more of a huge machine of which every number (person) is cog in the whole system. Being a novel written by a Russian author in the 1920s (just before communism spread through it). As such, this is a predominant influence in the book; one which the author disagrees with quite clearly.

I think the main issue I had with the book was something I don't blame the author for. The way book is written is from the perspective of D-503, our protagonist, from the early days of his true belief in OneState and the benefits of its ideology to one who is challenged and overcomes that challenge as he sees fit. The problem was that I was very often confused as to what was occurring. It being a Russian novel, the way it is written is bound to be different and often confusing. I've never managed to finish one of the longer Russian novels and- when I see the plays- I always have sections where I completely zone out. So much is going on and physically can't deal with so my brain goes into lockdown. The bits I am conscious of (and able to understand) are great, but the ones which aren't cause me a great deal of confusion.

So in some ways, this book might be a good way to see how you would react to a Russian novel since it is a fraction of the length, but still what I have come to expect from Russian writing. And I know I am somewhat prejudiced since I've only tried...what, 3? But that is how I feel, and in knowing that you know my opinion and the (perhaps) flimsy evidence I base it on.

There was also a maths element in the book that I really rather loved. Not everyone is as geeky about Maths as I am, so I wonder if others would perhaps be more confused than I. Statements about irrational or imaginary numbers that make sense to me might make many other people scratch their heads, bewildered. One of my favourite quotes was about how one avoids and irrational (it might have said imaginary) number creeping into an equation as an analogy for unforeseen circumstances arising in life. I understand that effort to avoid the irrational (imaginary) number and just this extra element made the book interesting in that sense.

The overall plot was predictable, in my opinion, but I shan't share it all the same. It acceptable, but it acted as a way to demonstrate an idea or situation. It felt less like a story more like a device...a tool. As though the author wanted to make a point about something and manipulated the plot to allow for that. Some people might say that is the core of a book, but the lack of distinctive plot irked me somewhat. There is the other side of it though in that it was one of the earliest dystopias so perhaps it is THE original. I don't know.

Character-wise...again acceptable, but somewhat irksome. I felt as each character was meant to represent an ideology or a reaction to an ideology, a way of living with it. Now, there's nothing really wrong with this, but it makes characters too clear-cut and predictable in my eyes. In a strange way the entire book was like a grand equation where each element- setting, character, plot- where merely the variables that were altered to show what the equation equals; what the result of the chosen variables is.

So, as an overall idea, I appreciate the book for what it portrays intellectually and ideologically, but as a story or a novel I think it is somewhat poor. I don't mind a book with a message, but it needs to be that. A book WITH a message, not just a message.


Also, my favourite quote (underlined is my favourite bit):

The highest thing in Man is his reason, and what the work of reason comes down to is the continual limitation of infinity, dividing infinity up into convenient, easily digestible proportions: differentiation.

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

The Pain Merchants (Shifter) by Janice Hardy

British Cover
Nya lives in a world of Healers, Takers and Pain Merchants: people who can take pain from people and either store it away or turn it into powerful weapons. But Nya has a unique ability to actually be able to shift pain (hence the American name of the book) from one person to another. The story is what happens when this ability becomes known by those who would use her for it.

I'd read Janice's blog for a while before I decided to get the book, and in some ways I was surprised. I think I expected it to be more mature than it was: but I was forgetting that this is a teen book, perhaps Middle Grade (but I'm not entirely sure what Middle Grade actually is). Saying that though, I still really enjoyed the book and the world Nya lives in was lovely to  see and experience.

The healing idea is marvellous. As I said in the introduction, the ability is to take away the pain from an injury and- optionally- to be able to heal that injury. The pain is held in the healer's body until pynvium can be found: a rare metal that (when raw) is able to contain pain. In some ways, it's straightforward, but then I didn't want a huge and complicated magic system- and in it's good that it isn't magic. What's been done here is much more involved and sophisticated, in my opinion. One idea has been taken: that someone can heal someone else. What has then been done is that it was fleshed out. A problem with some magic in books is that- like in Harry Potter- no end of magic can be cast without personal effects. There is just an endless pool of magic while the magic itself is based on knowledge and creativity. Much better are the systems that cause the energy for magic to be taken from the caster, but that is an over-used idea. Janice's system is great because it really is a real effect: the healer will completely experience the pain of whoever they heal, they just won't have the physical injury.

The city itself was interesting too- as was it's place as city in a world. There is class divide in the city between the aristocrats who dominated the land through war and the natives who fought them. None of the descendants of those natives have positions of power, they-  the Gevegs- are beggars and manual labourers who work so that the Baseeris stay rich. The animosity between both groups is always apparent and it's the underlying tension throughout the city. A Baseeri believe that every Geveg's life is worth less than his own, and they would let thugs or worse do what they will with them. They turn a blind eye for their own protection.

American Cover (I prefer)
The League is almost the middle ground between Baseeris and Gevegs, but the leadership and power indicate quite clearly to whom the preference is directed. Since the skill of healing is valued, though not exceptionally rare, anyone will be accepted into the league and, once there, they dedicate their lives to healing others- in theory for the good of all. But in such a powerful establishment, there is obviously a level of corruption and wealth that is sadly necessary. The League has to feed, clothe and train the healers so money has to come into the institution. What's more, a Baseeri noble would dislike a grimy Geveg healing him so they must also be kept elegant and presentable. The League is supposed to be a good thing, at least that is what I feel. And I get the feeling it was a good thing until the Baseeris arrived as part of the unnamed Duke's conquest to reclaim independent lands.

One of the things I didn't like was the characterisation. I'm not going to make an issue of this because it isn't at the same maturity as some things I read so there can't always be the same moral ambiguity. Good and Evil are mostly clear cut, though the Pain Merchants (which is like a mob version of the League) are somewhat unclear. Even Nya, who is stealing eggs at the beginning, shows some sort of ambiguity. Yet it's all rather low-key and the manner of it makes it clear whether it's a good or bad deed. Nya is starving, so theft can be acceptable; and she also offers to work for her food once caught. She is a good character in a tough situation. As for the Pain Merchants, they are seen as ultimately bad. Though they might do good, it's for capitalist reasons of money-making.

The other thing  noticed myself disliking was some of the slang in the book. Some of it was local dialect, but when "cos" starting being used instead of "because" or " 'cause" the grammar freak in me lashed out and I got rather annoyed every time it was used after. I do remember some others, but that is the one that annoys me the most. Also, some of the names were bothersome since they seemed to awkward, but I think I'm just being unwarrantedly picky.

As a fantasy book for younger readers, I do think this was quite good. I would have preferred a more mature book, but knowing my old tastes, I know I would have liked it. I think the fact I read it all in a day is a nod towards the fact it is a good book. If you're looking for something simple, enjoyable and fantastical, look no further.

Monday, 5 March 2012

Book Blogger Confessions- Positives

This is for book bloggers to talk about life as a book bloggers: the ups and the downs. This week, it's an up!

Let's talk about the positive side of blogging! How has blogging influenced your real life in a positive way? (not related to books or reading) Have you learned to be organized or are you more social now for example?

In some ways I am more critical of things. I don't mean I wander about judging everything, but I reach conclusions quicker than I used to, which is nice. It's also good how when watching a film or television, I can see the little things that I think will later be important. I've always been reasonably good at guessing what would happen in a film, but book blogging has cause that to grow since it helps me see other people's opinions on things and I can look at things in a way I wouldn't have previously considered. And if it's not a genre I'm familiar with, it helps me get a little insight into its tropes or typical elements.

The other way it has changed me is that I think I'm more confident. As an online persona, I don't think I come across as shy or exceedingly quiet, but I'm much more so in real life. Even in my own friendship groups I'm liable to sit quietly and absorb what's going on around me and make the occasional comment. But blogging and getting responses to what I say is a nice way to find that my opinions aren't idiotic and won't be brushed-off. The few times I've been (rightly) challenged, I haven't felt like backing down. It has something to do with the fact that with books it is an opinion or an interpretation and as such no one can really say to you that what you say doesn't matter because everyone is allowed to interpret things as they see fit and comment how they want to. This idea has sort of also altered my own personal beliefs about life and relationships, but it's something I only notice now I stop to think about it.

Ironically enough, I think book blogging has made me slightly more unorganised!!! I'm a naturally organised person: my wardrobe is arrange by the type of clothes, then by colour. My drawers are arranged according to what I use most often, and how easily I need to be able to access them. It's hard to explain in some ways, but I am someone who organises everything if my mind wander enough; my worst problem is that I can't leave loose change messy and uncounted. I have to pile it and count it before doing anything else; which isn't arduous, but it has to be done. Yet since book blogging, my desk keeps getting messy. Previously, it was pristine; everything was in line and all but at right angles to everything else. Nowadays, it's lucky to see it like that because I just can't find the time to tidy it. But it is still a good thing! I'm too organised so it's good that I've been able to allow a little chaos.

Anyone else have some strange, yet still beneficial changes???

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Spire by Aaron Safronoff

This Science-Fiction/Dystopian novel is set in a place ruled by the Collective- an omnipotent, authoritarian but mostly invisible force. In a world consumed with improving humanity via Genetic Enhancement, a drug- an extreme performance enhancer- is introduced whose effect is impossible to predict, but whose potential seems limitless. The story centres on Joshua, an unsuspecting test subject, but also moves between stories involving the drug's creator; a Collective Defector and a Collective Leader Himself.

For me, I think the first thing to point out is that the parallel stories didn't always seem to work. As I sometimes find with this way of writing, I only like one particular storyline and the others should all be supplementary to that storyline and take mostly a back-seat. I never actually lost interest in the other stories, but I often felt detached from them; reading them mostly because I would return to the story I liked (Joshua's). So I tip my hat at Safronoff for not losing my attention, but I want to say that it worked in way that could have easily failed.

The plot of the story isn't a bad one, though it was occasionally clichéd. The start was kind of difficult for me because I really hate being thrown head first into a story and having absolutely no idea what was going on. It starts with Joshua- a drug user- talking about coming down from a high and how he felt about it. I get that, at least theoretically. It makes sense as a way to say how he thinks, a bit about his life and it's mildly interesting. But then I started to get lost about what was going on. I think he bought drugs, and I think he is somewhat of an expert in the field in terms of identifying them, but that is the bare minimum of what I should know. Nothing else sticks out from the start except those plot points.

It wasn't until the intrigue was introduced that I was, for lack of better word, intrigued by the story. The enhancements people had (particularly Eve) were incredible to see and weren't so far-fetched that you couldn't accept them. I'm not a huge Sci-Fi reader, but this felt more like Urban Fantasy to me which I really enjoyed considering it was still in the realms of believability. The chemical enhancement was much more fantastical, but I loved it for that. It was the kind of thing that a film would get wrong every time because your imagination plays such a huge and incredibly powerful part in making the moment as powerful and awe-inspiring as it was. In some ways I would say the book was worth reading for the times when the enhancer was used and when the higher end GEaRs (the genetic enhancers...sorry, I can't remember and I didn't mark the actual phrase!) was put on show. Technology and the advances we have made, are making and could make astound me and interest me to equal degrees.

There were things that weren't great in the book: two of which I've mentioned. Other things are just niggles i.e. things that don't really matter in the grand scheme of things, but annoyed me anyway. Sometimes it seemed the tone was off for what was happening, or that the writing was making me more confused and the story less understandable. There was also that cliché issue, and the feeling that not everything felt entirely new. I don't want to say he's a plagiarist: he isn't! I've been emotionally up and down this and it probably made me more temperamental whilst reading.

So it was good book, and I definitely wouldn't overlook it. But, in my mind, it's a Science Fiction more than a dystopia and one should approach with that in mind; as well as with the expectation to feel a bit lost on a number of occasions. And if you're the kind of reader who hates that, you have been warned.