Friday, 27 September 2013

More Than This - Patrick Ness

A Spoiler Free Bit About the Book
A boy drowns.  He dies.  And then he wakes up.
My Review
I adored ‘More Than This’.  If ever there was a book to make you think, this is it.
You are immediately thrust into ‘More Than This’, Ness escaping that awkward getting to know what’s going on phase and plunging the reader straight into the action.  I loved how anonymous ‘the boy’ was, the possibility that it could be anyone.  The realisation that it didn’t matter who he was.  I was amazed that even though I knew almost nothing about the boy, I could still care about him as a character. 
The scattering of memories across the novel is extremely effective as it allows us to never know too much or too little.  Not to mention that the memories are always relevant and always add something to the story immediately.  But what more had I expected from the creator of the phenomenal ‘Chaos Walking’ trilogy?
As the novel continued, I read at any given opportunity just so I could find out more about the boy and this place he’d woken up in.  I had to know more.  There’s an air of mystery surrounding ‘More Than This’ which just further adds to the feeling that you need to keep turning the pages and ask ‘What’s next?  What’s next?’.  This makes it near impossible to put down.
Ness creates an unnerving atmosphere that made me huddle close to the pages and fully immerse myself there.  At times I was blown away by the beautiful description and the way he phrases certain things to really make you stop and think.  Interesting observations of human thoughts and behaviours grow deeper and deeper as you read the novel until you feel cleansed by its conclusion.
As always, I was awestruck by Ness’s pace.  I know of no other writer who uses a dash to such monumental effect.  The chapters are short, making it so easy to pick up and yet impossible to put down.  At times I felt my heart pounding as I was reading as though I was there.  The pace was perfect.
The only possible criticism I could have for ‘More Than This’ is that I felt one too many adverbs were used.  This is because they jump out at me on the page because of my hatred for them and I didn’t think they were all needed.
Plot Idea - 10/10 - Waking up from death is always a fascinating concept.
Way Plot Was Pursued - 10/10 - I never expected where 'More Than This' went.  It shocked me multiple times.
Characters - 10/10 - Perfectly rounded and loveable.  Ness's characters always feel real.
Style - 9/10 - I love Ness's style, I had to mark it down one for the adverbs though.
Pace - 10/10 - Always the perfect pace.
Would I recommend it? - Yes.  Unlike most books, I will recommend this book to everyone, everywhere.
Would I look up the author? - Yes, although I really don't have to.  If you haven't read Ness's 'Chaos Walking' trilogy - you should.
Patrick Ness truly is the master of his craft.

Is there an author you're just crazy about?  Let me know.
Molly Looby
Author / Wrimo / Reviewer / Editor / Writing Coach / ZA Ready
Contact me about writing, books, vampires, zombies, werewolves and the like here:

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Hallowed - Cynthia Hand

'Hallowed' is the second in a trilogy, 'Unearthly' being book number one.  I read them back to back but I've just about managed to separate them in my head.  If you want to read 'Unearthly' you might not want to read this review as I may spoil parts of 'Unearthly for you.  But not 'Hallowed', with that you're safe.  Feel free to read my post on 'Unearthly':

A Spoiler Free Bit About the Book

After not fulfilling her purpose, Clara is on edge, waiting for the repercussions.  But more concerning than waiting to see how it all turns out are the new visions Clara's been having.  But her purpose was over, right?  This could just be a dream.  Something tells her it isn't.

My Review

Everything I loved about 'Unearthly' I loved about 'Hallowed', maybe even more so as I didn't have to get to know any places or characters as I was more than familiar with them to start with as I'd only just put 'Unearthly' down when I picked up 'Hallowed'.

I'm afraid I don't have much to say as this was such a breath-taking sequel.  I hate that I can't fault it but I really can't.  I just devoured it in a day.  Yes, a day.  Well, not twenty-four hours.  It was more like ten, give or take.  All four-hundred pages of it.  I'm telling you, I hardly looked up.  I couldn't, I didn't want to.

Clara as a protagonist, continued to please me.  She didn't do the pathetic 'woe-is-me' thing that is far too common.  She also made very good decisions, again, unlike many teenage fiction protagonists.  She did what anyone would do.

I was so immersed in the story that not only did I feel exactly what Clara felt, but I felt it so strongly it could've been happening to me.  I was tense and teary and jittery.  I laughed and I cried.  I'm deadly serious.

I was also happy with the difference between 'Hallowed' and 'Unearthly'.  The plots were not too samey and we kept learning new things with Clara and meeting new characters.

Also, I had no idea where the plot was going to go at certain points.  Unlike in 'Unearthly' where it was obvious that the climax was going to be the fire in Clara's visions.  This really was a different story entirely.


Plot Idea - 7/10 - I thought new visions might be a bit of old news.  (I was wrong, by the way).

Way Plot Was Pursued - 9/10 - I loved everything I loved before.  I loved Clara's uncertainty.

Characters - 10/10 - he same amazing characters that I loved just as much in their development.  The addition of new characters was just as satisfying.

Style - 9/10 - I was so into Hand's style during 'Hallowed'.  Everything fit into her style, nothing jarred.

Pace - 9/10 - Even better without the need to reintroduce the old characters.  I felt we were even more on the point during 'Hallowed'.

Would I recommend it? - Yes, oh yes.  Loved 'Unearthly'?  What other choice would you have but to read 'Hallowed'?

Would I look up the author? - Yes, most definitely.  Can't wait for the third instalment.

'Hallowed' lived up to 'Unearthly' and maybe even did the impossible.  I think I liked it more.

Anyone else blown away by this trilogy?  Read anything amazing that you just have to shout about?  Let me know!

Molly Looby
Author / Wrimo / Reviewer / Editor / Writing Coach / ZA Ready

Contact me about writing, books, vampires, zombies, werewolves and the like here:

Saturday, 14 September 2013

Unearthly - Cynthia Hand

A Spoiler Free Bit About the Book

'Unearthly' follows Clara, a sixteen year old part angel who's just started to uncover her 'purpose' - what she was put on the earth to do.  She knows there's a forest fire and boy and at the beginning that's all she knows.

My Review

I knew as I read the blurb of 'Unearthly' that it had the potential to be a book I could really get into.  That and the fact that my friend leant it to me to read.  This feeling intensified as I read the first chapter.  I knew for certain that this book could go one of two ways.  I would love it or hate it.  It was the former, I adored it and devoured it.

The only thing that I didn't like was at first the present tense caught me out.  Not just on the first few sentences.  For some reason it was repeatedly during the first chapter and it was beginning to annoy me.  I got past it though and then I was free.

I even liked the prologue.  Now I'm not usually one for prologues.  I don't like them.  When I pick up a new book I just want to dive straight in, not faff around somewhere irrelevant - at least for the moment.  But 'Unearthly's prologue was short and just from reading the blurb I understood its importance, which satisfied me.  It was very effective.

I was also very grateful that Hand trickled information about angel-bloods though the novel at a natural pace.  None of the information felt rushed and I was given enough gap between each thing that I could fully wrap my head around it and understand it.  We learn information as Clara does which helps the information stream seem natural.  It also makes it so much easier to sink into the angel world as though it's real and is completely logical.

While we're on Clara, she was a great protagonist.  She was believable as a regular sixteen year old girl and also as an angel-blood.  Nothing she did was ridiculous or so over the top it was unbelievable.  I found her very relatable.  She thought and felt what anyone would think and feel in her situation.

The other characters surrounding Clara and shaping her world were also very believable and relatable.  I didn't think they were stereotypes or irritating.  I liked them all and found them all charming in their own ways.  They were also diverse enough that I could almost see their part in the novel revolving around them.  Speaking of this, I was thrilled that all the characters' presence in the book was directly linked to their importance and relevance.  I didn't have to hear loads about a character with minimal role, which pleased me to no end as sometimes I feel there are too many characters to worry about.  In 'Unearthly' I was glad to only have to care and connect with the main, important ones.

The chapter names were a breath of fresh air.  They weren't arty or cryptic or clever.  They were simply describing the chapter.  It might be one word or a phrase that sums up the chapter in a completely human way.  It actually helped me to distinguish between the chapters.

Now for the 'impossible choice'.  So many novels, especially teenage fiction, have - or claim to have - an 'impossible choice'.  Usually I'm disappointed as there's only one real choice or the right choice is so obvious it's boring.  Or it's just clear which one the protagonist will choose.  Well, in 'Unearthly' I was pleasantly surprised.  I felt that the decision was difficult enough to be classed as 'impossible'.  So much so, I didn't know what Clara would pick, or indeed what I would pick in that situation.  It was intense, I'll give you that much.


Plot Idea - 6/10 - angels, I remember thinking to myself.  It's been done and I've read it.  How different can this one be?

Way Plot Was Pursued - 8/10 - Clara's 'purpose' really gave this story its originality.  I also enjoyed that she was the powerful one and that she was free to make her own decision.

Characters - 10/10 - all so diverse and charming.  I can't fault them.

Style - 9/10 - I loved Clara as a narrator.  I loved the way she mulled things over.

Pace - 8/10 - I always knew where we were going but at some points I felt like I had to take a stroll to read it.  A pleasant pretty stroll, but one nonetheless.

Would I recommend it? - Oh God, yes.  I couldn't put this book down.

Would I look up the author? - Yes.  Having being leant 'Hallowed', the sequel, I picked it straight up.  Yes please. 

'Unearthly' surpassed my expectations by miles and miles and miles.

Any novels that have surprised you?  I'd love to know!

Molly Looby
Author / Wrimo / Editor / Reviewer / Writing Coach / ZA Ready

Contact me about writing, books, vampires, zombies, werewolves and the like here:

Friday, 6 September 2013

Monument 14 - Emmy Laybourne

A Spoiler Free Bit About the Book
'Monument 14' is the story of a group of kids of varying ages - maybe five to eighteen - who are stuck in a shopping centre after their bus crashes.
My Review
I knew from the blurb that 'Monument 14' was going to be my kind of book, so I had high expectations.  I was a little worried that the idea might be too similar to Michael Grant's phenomenal 'GONE' series but I shouldn't have worried.  Emmy Laybourne held her ground and wrote something amazing.
'Monument 14' dove straight in.  There was no faffing which was brilliant.  You don't want life stories at the beginning.  You don't want mind-numbing description.  I was given exactly what I wanted.  A straight in, no nonsense first chapter - first paragraph no less.
While we're talking about the first paragraph, you might be interested to know that it's written in the second person ("you did this") while the rest of the novel is written in the first person ("I did this").  It surprised me and gripped me with it's unusual nature.  It was extremely effective.
I loved Dean's 'voice'  Laybourne has a spectacular grasp of him in her narration and it was so much fun to read.  Dean tells you who is who and what is going on in that straight forward, matter of fact way a teenager tells their friends things.  It was brilliant.  I loved Dean and his narration, it made the novel enjoyable from beginning to end.
It was also great that the characters were all so different from one another.  'Monument 14' needed this due to the vast number of characters but once I'd learnt who was who I didn't get mixed up once.  Although, I do think they were introduced far too close together, making it more difficult at first to know who was who.
The plot was fantastic.  There was always something going on and I always longed to be reading for this reason.  I also had no idea what was coming next.  I don't want to spoil it for anyone wishing to read it so I'll say only this: Emmy Laybourne has an exceptional imagination.  It was one thing after another.  You have no idea what's coming next so you're on your toes.  It was a great read.  I turned the final page longing for more.
Plot Idea - 7/10 - kids, trapped in a shopping centre without adults.  Yes please.
Way Plot Was Pursued - 8/10 - there was so much going on and I loved Dean as a narrator
Characters 8/10 - all very lovable in their own special way.  It was a shame that it was difficult to grasp them all at first.
Style - 9/10 - there was no faff at any point.  Dean was a very realistic, very likeable and easy to relate to narrator.
Pace - 9/10 - there was always something going on and there were parts full of tension and suspense where I couldn't put it down.
Would I recommend it? - Yes.  I found it very difficult to fault at all.
Would I look up the author?  Yes'Monument 14' was Laybourne's debut novel and I can't wait for more!
Read any great books lately?  Any recommendations?  Let me know!
Molly Looby
Author / Wrimo / Reviewer / Editor / Writing Coach / ZA ready
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