blog about reviews writing

Monday, April 7, 2014

White Space, Steelheart, Dualed, and The Magicians Mini-Reviews

White Space (Dark Passages #1) by Ilsa J. Bick
In the tradition of Memento and Inception comes a thrilling and scary young adult novel about blurred reality where characters in a story find that a deadly and horrifying world exists in the space between the written lines.

Seventeen-year-old Emma Lindsay has problems: a head full of metal, no parents, a crazy artist for a guardian whom a stroke has turned into a vegetable, and all those times when she blinks away, dropping into other lives so ghostly and surreal it's as if the story of her life bleeds into theirs. But one thing Emma has never doubted is that she's real.

Then she writes "White Space," a story about these kids stranded in a spooky house during a blizzard.

Unfortunately, "White Space" turns out to be a dead ringer for part of an unfinished novel by a long-dead writer. The manuscript, which she's never seen, is a loopy
Matrix meets Inkheart story in which characters fall out of different books and jump off the page. Thing is, when Emma blinks, she might be doing the same and, before long, she's dropped into the very story she thought she'd written. Trapped in a weird, snow-choked valley, Emma meets other kids with dark secrets and strange abilities: Eric, Casey, Bode, Rima, and a very special little girl, Lizzie. What they discover is that they--and Emma--may be nothing more than characters written into being from an alternative universe for a very specific purpose.

Now what they must uncover is why they've been brought to this place--a world between the lines where parallel realities are created and destroyed and nightmares are written--before someone pens their end.

Released: February 11th 2014    Pages: 560
Publisher: Egmont USA            Source: Library

I'm not sure how to talk about this book because I'm not even sure what this book was.  I know that it made way too many references to The Matrix and Inception. One or two references is fine, but this just made me feel like the author was trying to hit me over the head with a "Hey, my book is like these movies!  Don't you dare forget it."  I know that this book creeped me out, and I know that the twist was cool.  

The problem is that the first 300 pages make no sense.  It leaves you completely in the dark, and gives no hints as to what is actually going on.  (And trust me--hints are needed.)  I spent those 300 pages like this:

And then the explanation comes.  Kind of.  Except that it still didn't make that much more sense.  I had long ago stopped trying to understand it, anyway.  I have such mixed feelings about the whole thing.  It's compelling, in a weird, disturbing way.  The characters aren't that interesting, but I still wanted to keep reading, for the most part.  It was certainly well-written.  

Overall, this is a compelling, strange, creepy book that doesn't even try to make sense until after page 300.  I didn't hate it, but I'm disappointed, and I probably won't bother with the sequel.    

Similar Books: It has creepy, weird, disjointed alternate realities like The Marbury Lens and My Favorite Band Does Not Exist.  It also reminds me of More Than This and The Obsidian Blade.

Steelheart (The Reckoners #1) by Brandon Sanderson
There are no heroes.

Ten years ago, Calamity came. It was a burst in the sky that gave ordinary men and women extraordinary powers. The awed public started calling them Epics.

But Epics are no friend of man. With incredible gifts came the desire to rule. And to rule man you must crush his wills.

Nobody fights the Epics... nobody but the Reckoners. A shadowy group of ordinary humans, they spend their lives studying Epics, finding their weaknesses, and then assassinating them.

And David wants in. He wants Steelheart—the Epic who is said to be invincible. The Epic who killed David's father. For years, like the Reckoners, David's been studying, and planning—and he has something they need. Not an object, but an experience.

He's seen Steelheart bleed. And he wants revenge.

Released: September 24th 2013   Pages: 384
Publisher: Delacorte                   Source: Library

Between this and The Rithmatist, Brandon Sanderson is proving himself to have one awesomely clever mind.  Steelheart pleasantly surprised me in a few different ways, one of them being how the premise was carried out.  It's The Avengers, except that the Avengers themselves are the villains.  And it's so much fun.

I love the plot.  It was compelling, unique, and exciting.  It addressed its own philosophical issues in a way that made me question my beliefs about the rightness or wrongness of the characters' ventures (the same questioning the characters themselves underwent).  I never once felt that the pacing was off.

My only problem is the characters.  David was decently likable, but I wanted more depth from him.  I guessed the major plot twists regarding two of the other characters, and the rest were flat.  That being said, I liked the group dynamic of the Reckoners, which as an almost Avengers-esque feel to it.

Overall, this book was just plain fun to read.  It wasn't perfect, but it was enjoyable and had an awesome premise, and I'm looking forward to the sequel.

Similar Books: It blends dystopia and sci-fi like The Pearl Wars, BZRK, and Proxy

Dualed (Dualed #1) by Elsie Chapman
In the city of Kersh, everyone must eliminate their genetic Alternate twin, raised by another family, before their twentieth birthday. West Grayer, 15, has trained as a fighter, and has one month to hunt and kill her Alt. A tragic misstep shakes her confidence. Guilty, grieving, she feels unworthy, runs from her Alt and from love - both can destroy her.

Released: February 26th 2013   Pages: 292
Publisher: Random House         Source: Library

I loved the premise of this--the idea of everyone having a twin, but only one can survive to adulthood.  Like an odd sort of Hunger Games.  I assumed that, in the book, this premise would be explored and explained in a way that made sense.  But, nope.  It actually makes no sense.  The government genetically manipulates pairs of babies so that they're identical (Alts), so that the twins know to fight each other for survival-of-the-fittest purposes, to populate the city with only the best fighters.  Couldn't you just forget the whole Alt thing and use your technology to genetically manipulate babies into prime fighters?  It would save so many resources, eliminate the PTSD that at least half of all surviving Alts probably develop, and eliminate accidental civilian killings.  But then again, that would make actual sense, so....

The main character, West (She could totally be related to North West.), frustrated me.  Once she gets her assignment (the official notice giving her the okay to kill her Alt), she does everything in her power to put it off.  In principle, I do not blame her for this.  In the novel, though, it just made everything feel like it dragged out far longer than was necessary.  It's like those movies where the hero has ample opportunity to kill the villain, but only does so at the last second, leaving the audience going, "Come on, just shoot him already!"

Other than that, I'm feeling "meh" about this entire book.  The romance was a little overbearing, but not awful.  The side characters weren't all that interesting, but I didn't hate them.  The plot stayed interesting enough to keep my attention, but it still felt longer than necessary (and the book isn't even 300 pages).  If the setting had made more sense, I might feel more generous towards this book, but since not, it gets three stars.

Similar Books: It has the teens-against-teens aspect of The Hunger Games.  It also has dystopian elements that remind me of Divergent, Shatter Me, and Inside Out.

Quentin Coldwater is brillant but miserable. He's a senior in high school, and a certifiable genius, but he's still secretly obsessed with a series of fantasy novels he read as a kid, about the adventures of five children in a magical land called Fillory. Compared to that, anything in his real life just seems gray and colorless.

Everything changes when Quentin finds himself unexpectedly admitted to a very secret, very exclusive college of magic in upstate New York, where he receives a thorough and rigorous education in the practice of modern sorcery. He also discovers all the other things people learn in college: friendship, love, sex, booze, and boredom. But something is still missing. Magic doesn't bring Quentin the happiness and adventure he though it would.

Then, after graduation, he and his friends make a stunning discovery: Fillory is real.

Released: August 11th 2009   Pages: 402
Publisher: Viking                   Source: Library

Forget the back cover description.  I can sum up this entire book in two GIFs:

Harry Potter angsting.  Harry Potter drinking.  That's all you really need to know.  If you took Draco Malfoy, upped the angst level, made him the main character of the Harry Potter books, added huge amounts of alcohol, drugs, and promiscuity, and threw in a bit of The Chronicles of Narnia for good measure, you'd get The Magicians.  It manages to be completely irreverent to both series from which it was inspired.

This book started out promising.  Quentin felt realistic, the magic system was interesting, and I was intrigued by the plot.  It quickly fell apart, however.  After several chapters, I realized that the plot wasn't going anywhere.  It chronicles the lives of Quentin and his fellow students, but there's no overarching conflict.

Quentin quickly spirals into a massively unlikable character.  He's miserable, and absolutely determined to stay that way.  And he wants to drag everyone around him into misery, as well.  I can't like or respect a character like that.  He did nothing to improve his own situation.  All he did was drink and drug himself into oblivion.

The book did have some interesting ideas--how people are never satisfied with what they have, what happens when a person is suddenly thrust into their dream world--but they were overshadowed by the overwhelming message of "People can't handle this kind of thing.  It's all depressing, but that's how the world is.  Even your dream is tainted.  Enjoy."

It had its good points, but overall, this book annoyed and frustrated me.  It's more of a 2.5 star book, but I'm rounding up to three.

Similar Books: This book is the well-written version of My Immortal.  It has a depressed and pessimistic main character, lots of profanity and alcohol/drugs, and is blasphemy to the ears of diehard Harry Potter fans.  It has obvious similarities to the Harry Potter and the Narnia books, and is the basically the PG-13 version of Charlie Bone at the same time.

post signature


  1. White Space certainly looks interesting. It looks kind of creepy. The cover reminds me of those ink blots psychologists use. I just don't know if I want to read another books that's the first in a series. I'm too tired of them. Is the story complete or is there a cliff-hanger?

    I was looking forward to reading The Magicians but I might not now. I've read way too many depressing books. I still love the cover though.

    I think I'm going to stick with contemporary for a while.

    1. As far as White Space goes, it definitely leaves itself open-ended enough for sequels, but I didn't feel any particular need to continue after the first book. There weren't any huge, pressing questions that I needed answered. And yeah, I'm also getting tired of the fact that every single book published recently seems to need a sequel.

      Everyone reacts to a book a little differently, but if you don't want something depressing, I wouldn't recommend The Magicians.

    2. Ahh. I still think I'll pick it up from the library when I have time if it's there.

      Yeah, I'm not picking up as many YA books now because of the whole series thing.

      Lol I think I'll stay away thanks!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...