Tag Archives: love triangle

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

8 Feb

10194157Title: Shadow and Bone
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Publisher: Henry Holt and Company
Genre: Fantasy
Page Count: 356

The servants called them malenchki, little ghosts, because they were the smallest and the youngest, and because they haunted the Duke’s house like giggling phantoms, darting in and out of rooms, hiding in cupboards to eavesdrop, sneaking into the kitchen to steal the last of the summer peaches.

Alina Starkov is an orphan to the border wars that have plagued her world, an imagined Russia called Ravka, and has always had family in her best friend and fellow orphan, Mal. After they grow out of the orphanage where they spent their childhood they are both enlisted in the First Army; Mal as a tracker, Alina as a cartographer. When they are sent on a mission to cross the Shadow Fold, a blot of darknessĀ where nothing can grow or survive, an attack by the winged, flesh-eating volcra brings out a power that Alina didn’t even know she had. Before she understands what has happened to her, she is whisked off by the Darkling, head of the powerful Grisha Second Army. The Grisha all have powers, whether they are corporalki heartrenders or etherealki inferni, but Alina’s power has never been seen before and could be the key to the destruction of the Shadow Fold. As she gets sucked into the dazzling world of the Grisha, her uniqueness makes her the object of envy for many and marks her as the Darkling’s favorite; but when she unwittingly gets pulled into an ancient power play, she realizes that everything she knew about her new life was based on a fabrication, and that the fate of the world could balance on what she does with that knowledge.

So, this book sounds pretty tight, right? Well, it’s not. Kind of. I mean, maybe? Dammit, I finished this book two days ago and I STILL can’t figure out how I feel about it. The premise is so, so, good, but the execution is so, so lackluster.

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Ashes by Ilsa Bick

23 Feb

I’m going to preface this review by making a somewhat controversial statement: I don’t really like zombies very much. For whatever reason the wide world is obsessed with the undead and has been for years, but to be honest zombie apocalypse scenarios are usually too stressful for me to actually enjoy them. I know for a fact that I would kill myself next to immediately if the dead started rising from the grave, so watching and/or reading about people struggling to survive when I know that, in their shoes, I’d rather just die and get it over with is pretty unbearable. That said, I am totally hooked on The Walking Dead, so go figure. Anyways, when Ilsa Bick’s Ashes was listed inĀ Voice of Youth Advocates’ list of “Perfect Tens of 2011,” I decided to swallow my general dislike of of zombies and give it a go.

In Ashes, seventeen-year-old Alexandra has cut school to go hiking in Michigan’s Waucamaw Wilderness when a massive electromagnetic pulse lights up the sky, making blood geyser out of everyone’s mouths and driving animals into a frenzy. Alex happens to be chatting with a young girl named Ellie and her grandfather on the trail when disaster strikes; after the crushing pain subsides, Alex realizes that that gramps has dropped dead in his tracks, leaving her responsible for the grief-stricken little girl. But wait, there’s more! Alex, who had lost her sense of smell in her battle against brain cancer (affectionately referred to as “the monster” throughout the novel), realizes that something about the EMP making her nervous system go bonkers made her regain her sense of smell and then some. Her animalistic ability to detect the layered nuances of emotions that make up a living thing’s scent is what alerts her to the zombie element of the story, for while the EMP left her alive with some sort of crazy olfactory super-powers, it left the majority of the young survivors totally brain fried, pushing them into a cannibalistic, monstrous feeding frenzy. As Alex and Ellie traipse through the cannibal teenager infested woods towards the hope of safety, they meet Tom, a young man stranded in the forest after his companions are transformed and/or killed by the EMP. The three form a pseudo-family as they struggle to survive in a nightmarish, post-apocalyptic world in which most of the surviving youngsters have been transformed into something less than human and the remaining adults have devolved into a state of desperate, murderous paranoia.

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