This was a lot of fun to read and I really want to play Warcross. Marie Lu or someone make that happen! Emika Chen is a hacker and bounty hunter. Her father died when she was eleven and learned how to hack while in foster care. She admires Hideo Tanaka, the creator of Warcross because he created Warcross when he was younger then she was and now at 21 owns his own company and a billionaire. Emika’s life is not going so well. She has less then $13 to her name and is facing eviction due to being 3 months behind in rent. In a moment of desperation she hacked in during the opening ceremony of the Warcross Championships. The next day she is on a plane to Tokyo and is hired by Hideo to track down a hacker named Zero. Emika goes under cover as a player in the games so she can track down Zero and figure out who he is and what he is trying to do. Emika is smart and quickly figures out that one of her own teammates is working with Zero. She tells her findings to Hideo and because this is a YA novel, sparks fly because again YA novel, Hideo is hot! I figured out who Zero was about halfway through the books but the beauty of it, it didn’t spoil the ending. There are secrets in the game of Warcross that no matter how much a character opens up, we still don’t know all the facts. This book was fast paced and full of twists and turns. I do hope that in the next book that we get to know more about Emika’s teammates Asher, Roshan, Hammy and Ren because I feel like we just scratched the surface of who they are. I’m really interested in seeing where Emika goes now that she knows the truth of what happened but is not really sure that it’s truly a bad thing. I don’t want to say too much because it will spoil the ending but it will start some conversations. So yes, go read it.
In the tradition of award shows every way, we at Stacks would like to recognized those series that are no longer with us. They have ended. They and solved all their mysteries and tied up any loose ends. We were said to see them go but they will always be remembered for the joy that brought to our lives.
I will say this about 2016, I read a lot of good books this year. It was hard to narrow it down to just 10. So without further ado and in no particular order.
- Hammer of Thor by Rick Riordan – So it was hard to pick between this one and his other book Riordan wrote, The Hidden Oracle, but I choose this one because of the characters. I love that Rick has added diverse characters to his worlds. Not to mention his characters get sassier with every book.
- A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir – A cross between historical fiction and dystopian novel. It’s quite a thrill ride and it left a real cliffhanger as to how the series is going to end.
- A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas – After a so-so first book this one was a real game changer for the series as a hole. It delved into matters trauma and emotional abuse but still keep the story flowing.
- The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater – It’s Maggie and It’s Gansey, Blue, Ronan, Adam and Noah. It’s the perfect ending to a perfect story.
- Half Lost by Sally Green – It was as beautiful as it was heartbreaking. Nate didn’t have an easy life and nothing about this book was easy too. It was very true to life. It doesn’t always turn out the way you expect and in war there are always painful loses.
- Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard – Now this is a fun series. It’s a dystopian fantasy with X-Men qualities. Mare is not perfect. She’s complicated and conflicting but she means well and the writing only gets better with each book.
- Pyromantic by Lish McBride – This book doesn’t actually come out until next year so I’ll wait to tell you about it but let’s just say you are going to love it.
- Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo – It’s a crime caper and a fantasy. You root for the the thieves and the con men to win. It’s wonderful.
- Ms. Marvel No Normal by G. Willow Wilson – likable and charming, Kamala Khan is worthy addition to the Avengers. She proves that it doesn’t matter where you come from and what you believe, you can still be a superhero.
- The Midnight Star by Marie Lu – Another great ending to well thought out series. I may have qualms about who the real villain was but I think it was heartbreaking as it was beautiful.
This series was different in that it billed itself as having the villain as the protagonist. I argued in my review of the last book, The Rose Society that Adelina wasn’t really the true villain of the story. While she does commit several villainous acts on her way to power she is just as much a victim as anyone else. I also argued that Teren, in his religious fervor was the character to be most feared then any of them. After finishing The Midnight Star, I feel a little justified and also not. It starts out with Adelina and her Roses conquering another country by fear. She is merciless in her rule. She has taken all the power away from the un-marked and given it to the marked. She kills anyone who speaks out against her and punishes her family. She is by no means a heroine to be worshiped. She is also a young girl who has been bullied, abused and marginalized her whole life. In her mind she is righting the wrongs. Taken power and given it back to the powerless. I’m not saying it’s justified or what she did was right but I can also understand her too. A crisis bigger then her own fears aligns her once again with the daggers and gives her a path of redemption. Raffalle has figured out the origin of the blood fever that lead to the Young Elites powers. They was a rift in the mortal and the immortal world that allowed the powers of the Gods to effect the mortal world. It’s now poisoning them. Their powers are turning against them. Lucent, who could fly, bones are hallowing out. Violetta’s power to block others including her own is not overcoming her. Adelina’s voices in her head are her own illusions overtaking her. The only way to save them and the world is to go to where the rift occurred and offer to give their powers back. Now these enemies will have to work together but how can there when there has been so much blood already spilled and the body count in this book is pretty high as well. I wouldn’t say it had a happy ending but really the only ending that it could have. It was bittersweet. I will miss the lush atmosphere of this book. Stylized after a medieval society, Marie Lu gave her settings life and beauty. It was a good series and enjoyable read but year not going to lift you up.
The final book with the villain as the protagonist. Let’s see how this one ends.
This year it was hard to narrow it down to just 10 books as there were so many books I really loved this year. So to narrow it down, I had to ask myself which ones was I still thinking about even after I started reading the next book? Those are ones I choose for the list. (These are really in no particular order
- Beauty Queens by Libba Bray – This book I really wish I read when I was a teenager as so many of the messages I could have really used. You would almost think that a book about teenage beauty queens stuck on a desert island would be caricatures but they weren’t. They were very like girls I know or were me. I could pretty much identify with all of their struggles. Plus it was a lot of fun.
- Winter by Marissa Meyer -I am really going to miss this series so much. Cinder, Scarlet, Cress and Winter made me laugh, cheer, angry ( on their behalf) and proud of all of them. Winter was by far the longest book of the series and it was non-stop action. There wasn’t any filler or time to relax. It was the perfect ending.
- Carry On by Rainbow Rowell – A little bit Harry Potter and a little bit of fanfiction. It was a great final book to an imaginary series. I was surprised by many of the twists and turns and touched by the romance.
- Lair of Dreams by Libba Bray – I loved the first book in the series and so I was nervous this one wasn’t going to be as good. It was better. Now my only complaint is that she doesn’t write fast enough.
- Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard – It was fun, tense and very interesting. I thought I knew where things were going and then I didn’t. I’m looking forward to what lays in store in the next book.
- Scorpion Rules by Erin Bow – This wasn’t anything like I thought it would be. It was surprising. It was fresh. It had the sassiest A.I. in the history of A.I.’s. For that reason alone, you all should read it.
- An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir – It was sorta historical fiction with a dystopian vibe and boy did it work. It was brutal and it was tense but entertaining.
- Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo – This was very much an Ocean 11’s style caper with a little bit of a magic and darkness in only the way that Leigh Bardugo could do it. It’s set in the same world but after the events of her last series but a completely different vibe.
- The Shadow Cabinet by Maureen Johnson – This is the third book in the series so the stakes are so much higher and it didn’t disappoint. It’s full of humor, action and ghosts. What else can I say.
- The Rose Society by Marie Lu – This is the second book in the series that tells the story from the villainess point of view (though I’m not convinced that Adelina is the real villain but whatever) It was intense and was surprising, maybe a little problematic but worth the read.
There was two books that I enjoyed so much that I read the other books in the that were out in the series this year too. So I thought they would get their own category.
- Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas – For those looking for a Game of Thrones fill in until George publishes the next book, I recommend this. It was has all the twists and turns and is not afraid to kill of a character or two. I’m never really sure where it’s going to take us next but I know it will be well worth the ride.
- Talon series by Julie Kagawa – It has a little bit of everything. A Romeo and Juliet Love, a love triangle, a betrayal and yeah dragons. Who doesn’t love dragons? Ok, the idea isn’t that original but I do love it anyway.
I know that Adelina is supposed to be the villain of this story. The entire marketing campaign has been how this is from the villainess point of view instead of the usual heroine. I agree that’s unique but I’m having hard time seeing Adelina as a villain or “the villain” of this novel. If anything she is just one of many bad guys in the story. Teren is out right terrifying. His obsession and religious furor makes him so certain that his work camps and plans of eradicating all malfettos from Kennetra is the true villain of the story. I think we are supposed to see the Daggers led by Enzo and Raffaelle as the heroes but they are committing treason by allying themselves to Queen Maeve of Beldain. Maeve is also an elite with the power to bring back the dead. For this reason she obviously takes much better care of malfettos or survivors of the blood fever but she is also planning on taking over another sovereign nation. Queen Guiletta is not exactly a saint either but now that she has ascended to the thrown she is making in effort. She sees how Teren is treating the malfettos and orders they be treated better. She wants obedience, not revolution. She knows that the children of many influential people are malfettos and they would not like to see their children poorly treated. Unfortunately, Teren sees things differently and by the time she realizes how much power she has given him it’s too late. Could she have been a more effective leader if it wasn’t for Teren? Most likely. But back to Adelina. She was caste out from the Daggers for betraying them, killing Dante and making the mistake that lead to Enzo’s death. She and her sister Violetta seek out new allies to help her in her revenge against Teren and his inquisitors. Throughout the book, Adelina experience illusions of people she has killed that and they get worse as the story goes on. She also hears voices and becomes more and more paranoid. *Spoiler* We learn in the end that the elites powers are turning against them. They were given powers of the Gods but their human bodies can’t handle it. Adelina has the power of illusions. Creating images to make people think, see and feel things that are not there. For her it makes her see her dead father and hear voices and be paranoid. I couldn’t help but think this sounds like schizophrenia or another mental illness. Having your villain show signs of mental illness is a little problematic to me. I’m pretty sure that is not the author’s intent. As I said, the elites powers are turning against them. If Adelina had different powers her side effects would be different but her powers and her dark feelings are what makes her a threat. Also a little problematic is that Adelina is a victim of domestic abuse. Since she was a child she was beaten and abused by her father. She lived her life trying to gain the love of a man who hurt her. When she kills him and finds the Daggers she does what she can to make them like her and to fit in and they turn on her too. This is an emotionally scarred woman. I’m not saying that what she has done in the last two books are excusable but I also don’t think that labeling her as a villain is accurate either. If anything, I find myself rooting for her to succeed then any other character in the book.
I was looking at all the new books coming out in the next couple of months and THERE ARE SO MANY BOOKS THAT I WANT TO READ!! I’m already behind because The Copper Gauntlet by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare came out earlier this month. I have to get myself in gear. Here are just a few titles that I can’t wait to read this fall.
Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo, 9/29/15
Sword of Summer (Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard #1) by Rick Riordan, 10/6/15
Carry On by Rainbow Rowell, 10/6/15
The Rose Society (Young Elites #2) by Marie Lu, 10/13/15
Dark Tide (Waterfire Saga #3) by Jennifer Donnelly, 10/13/15