Review: Rebel by Marie Lu

**POSSIBLE SPOILERS** Fans of Marie Lu’s Legend trilogy knows that it ended on a bittersweet note. Our heroes June and Day save the Republic and live to tell the tale but don’t end up together. The illness that Day suffers gave him amnesia and he doesn’t he remember who June is. June for her part, promises that if Day pulls through she will let him live in peace. So Day takes his brother, Eden, to the technological advanced country of Antarctica to get away from the Republic and give his brother best education. June stays to help the new Elector reshape and rebuild the Republic. The Epilogue of Champion left readers with hope that one day June and Day will one day end up together and Rebel answers that questions. As well as to what happened with the Republic and Eden. Rebel picks up about a month after the Epilogue, which took place 10 years after the events of the Legend trilogy. Eden is a top student at Antarctica’s top university and is about to graduate with his Masters and will soon return to the Republic for a prestigious internship. Thanks to Day’s heroics, Eden and Day are afforded to live in the luxury and all the benefits that go with it. Day, who now goes by his real name of Daniel works for the AIS, Antarctic Intelligence Service. Daniel has been investigating the mob boss Dominic Hann in the Undercity. Ross City the capital city of Antarctica is split in to two parts, the Undercity and the Sky floors. Citizens are live in a kind of gamified society, in which every action they do are given points. The more points citizens earn the higher level they are the higher level they are the more opportunities they have. The levels determined where they can live, where they can work and even what food and medicine they access too. The system is supposed to inspire people to make the right decisions and work hard. The better and harder they work they more points they earn and the more opportunities they earn but in reality it hard for those with low levels to move up. If you are limited in what food you can buy and because of that left hungry. How are you going to have the energy to work harder? If you are sick but your level doesn’t allow you to see certain doctors or get the right medicine, how can you expect to get better? Eden and Day see the Undercity and it’s unfairness as reminders of how they lived in the Republic but react to it different. Eden is drawn to it, while Day tries to avoid it even though his job requires him to work down there. It’s no surprise that Eden gets caught up with Dominic Hann, the same man that Daniel has been investigating and that’s really where the story picks up. This also coincidentally is when June, the Elector and the Republic delegation visit Ross City. Daniel has slowly been recovering his memories of June since their chance meeting with her in the Epilogue. He remembers how much he was in love with her and even though the last decade he didn’t remember her he never took off the paper clip ring she gave him. So really deep down he never stop loving her but does she still love him? It’s been 10 years and they have both grown up and changed and had other relationships. Can they just pick up where they left off? Well, not really because chaos once again strikes and they are retreating back to the Republic.

While we still don’t know what happened that split the US into pieces and how or when people settled in Antarctica, we do know that change is slow and really there isn’t a perfect form of government. We learn from June that while the Republic has improved and is rebuilding but that costs money and you will always have those who will want to go back to what they are familiar with. Meanwhile, the gamified society of Ross City seems like a fair solution, that we are all rewarded and penalized for our actions because we don’t all start at the same point it makes it hard for people to move up. More importantly when you treat half of your population with contempt and just assume that they are lazy and that is why they stay at such low levels, well you’re going to have trouble. What makes a good villain is that you might agree with them. There is a reason after all why Eric Killmonger is the best Marvel Villain because he wasn’t wrong. He was absolutely right that Wakanda was wrong for their continuous isolationist policy. It’s how he went about it that was wrong. Nakia argued the same thing but proposed a different method of going about it and that is what T’Challa ultimately went with. Hann is also not wrong that the system that Antarctica wasn’t the fair system it was presented as but he’s solution wasn’t the way to go about it either. Eden, Daniel and June once again come to the rescue and save another nation from ruin. For us readers, it gives us the ending that we truly wanted for our characters and gave closure to a fantastic series. I’m glad that Marie Lu decided to write it because it was a fun read. For me it hit all the right notes of the original trilogy and gave a satisfied ending. There are still many questions left open as to how Antarctica and the Republic will move forward but you do have to hope that they both took lessons in what each nation has gone through and learn from it.

Review: Five Dark Fates by Kendare Blake

***POSSIBLE SPOILERS***

This was a satisfying series. Mirabella, Arsinoe, Katherine, Jules and Emilia have gone through a lot in the last four books and for the most part, I’m okay with how it ends The ruthlessness of how Kendare Blake wrote her story really brought up the tension. I think I always knew that some of the girls would not make it to the end. After all from the beginning two of the three sisters were supposed to do die to allow one sister to ascend to the crown. So it wasn’t a surprised that two of our queens did not make it to the end. At least one of them, I was really said about, almost as sad as the characters themselves and a little annoyed that another succeeded but that’s life I guess. Katherine and Arsinoe both had the biggest character growths of all the characters. Katherine went for a weak Queen who was nothing more then a puppet to the Arron’s who raised her. Thanks to the Dead Queens that saved her life and possessed her helped her grow into a fearsome Queen who was to be feared but also confident in her own decisions. There was some kind of peace in her as she understood her role in how it was all going to end. In a way, as the book progressed she was only one who knew it. Arisone, started out also weak and wanting nothing to do with being a Queen. Her original plan was just run away but she eventual learned you can’t escape your issues and excepted her role. She may never want to take a role of leadership but she is also no longer shying away from who she is and what she had to do to get there. Mirabella pretty much stayed the same and it was kind of her downfall. She always believed that her love for her sisters and their love for her would be enough to get them through. If they were going to defeat the mist and the Dead Queens, they needed to do it together. In a way she was right, just not as she imagined. Jules is still not my favorite character but she was better in this one. Maybe because the story focused more on Katherine, Arisone and Mirabella then her and because of the events of past books, she was a little more subdued. All in all, it was a very interesting and engrossing story. A feminist fantasy about a Matriarchy society filled with all the social and political intrigue of Game of Thrones or Lord of the Rings. The book is populated with strong women, who are complicated and nuanced. None of them are perfect and all do questionable things but most importantly that were allowed too be. They were the damsels in distress and the villainess. They were the heroes and the bad guys. Yes, there were romances but they were subplots and not central to the narratives. In the end the sisters prevailed because of their own skills and strengths and the skills of strengths on their friends. They controlled the story and their destiny. They saved themselves. We need more books and series like this.

Review: Wayward Son by Rainbow Rowell

So what happens after the hero vanquishes the villain and wins the heart of the fair maiden? They live happily ever after right? Well do they really? Anyone who has ever seen the Musical Into the Woods knows that yea, fairy tales don’t always live happily ever after. A better comparison might be the Play Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, that doesn’t exactly portrays Harry in the best light. I mean seriously, no Harry kinda grows up to be a dick but I digress. Simon Snow didn’t really believe he would survive the HumDrum but he did and to so he gave up his powers and has wings and a tail. He moved into a flat with Baz and Penelope and went to college. Baz and Simon are together and Penelope is still her best friend. Agatha is off living the good life in California. Everything should be good. They won! So, why is everyone unhappy. Penelope’s solution is a road trip. She thinks that Agatha is in trouble and what better way to get everyone out of their funk then go on a mission to save her and drive across the Great US of A. The problem is they have no idea how big the US really is or how things work here. It seems the US is kinda like the wild west of the Magical world. Anything goes and no real formal organization. Our heroes found themselves in so funny situations thanks to cultural clashes and well underestimating how weird the US really is. One of the funniest scenes is when they stumbled on a Ren Faire in Omaha and our flabbergasted to see people dressed up in Medieval garb as it’s regular wear. I guess they don’t have Renaissance faire’s in Britain? Along the way, they meet my new favorite character, Shepherd who is just too nice and too curious for his own good. I love him and I can’t wait to read more of them. In a way Penelope is right, they needed this road trip. Baz discovered that there is more to being a vampire then he knew. Simon still had fight left in him. Penelope is still a clever but maybe not as clever as she thinks and needs to learn to trust others and Agatha was in trouble but she also was the damsel in distress this time. She ultimately found a way out and helped save them all. When I started it, I didn’t realize that there was going to be another book. Rainbow Rowell doesn’t right series. This is actually her first sequel but when the book ended on a pretty big cliffhanger, I screamed there better be another one! Thank goodness their is. I can’t wait to read what happens next. This series is just too much fun to let go.

Quick Review: Steel Tide by Natalie C. Parker

I really love this series. It just gets better. Caeldonia and her crew have been separated because Cala couldn’t help herself and tried to take on Lir at the end of Seafire. Fortunately for her she was saved by the Blades, a group of former bullets. They heal her and she convinces them to help her get her crew back, even though it would mean for them to go back to some old bullet homesteads and put them in danger. The great thing about this book is that we truly get to see why Cala is the captain and why people are so willing to follow her. She had strength in the Seafire but we had met her after she had assembled her crew. In Steel Tide, we get a glimpse of her she was able to assemble her crew in the first place and earn such loyalty from them. Cala is a little rough behind the edges but she is so smart and brave that it’s hard to believe she can do everything. She has the ability to see every aspect of the situation and come up with the plan and execute no matter how impossible it may seem. Her belief that she is right and able to make the impossible possible make people follow her. Cala confidence also grows, she is still unsure why she is the leader and doubts her own skills but she knows something has to be done and is willing to do it. She has given people hope so the next book is going to be epic. I can’t wait to read it.

What I’m Reading Now: Wayward Son by Rainbow Rowell

ROAD TRIP!!! For my part of our October read. I’m reading the sequel to Carry On. I’m interested in what happens next for Simon and Baz but also for how Rainbow does with her first sequel. Let’s do This!!

Also I just got the title reference. I’m a bit slow.

Beth and Kate read Rainbow Rowell Books

Hello and welcome to October! I talked Beth into a read along of sorts for this month. It is the most wonderful time of the year! It’s Autumn! Halloween approaches! Break out your books with wizards and vampires in them because this month I’m reading Carry On and Beth is reading the sequel Wayward Son both by Rainbow Rowell!

Reviews of The Crown of Embers and Bitter Kingdom by Rae Carson

I really enjoyed this series. Elisa has to be considered among the best YA heroines. She is smart, caring and strong. She never stops fighting for her people and love ones and is able to make the impossible possible. The Crown of Embers begins with Elisa as Queen but because she is a teenage girl and an outsider, the first thing that she is asked to do is find a husband. The people will be more willing to except her rule if she has a husband by her side to guide her. Never mind that she just single handily saved the whole country on her own. All women need a husband. If that wasn’t enough, the Inveirno threat isn’t over. Elisa has threats coming at her from the outside and the inside so what does she do. She looks for the source of her Godstone to make her more powerful and will go through many perils to do so. Bitter Kingdom finds her facing a civil war as well having to rescue her Guard and love Hector from the Invierno. It may at first seem a little selfish to go off the grid to go rescue Hector but Elisa knows that having him at her side is a strength not to mention it gives her a opportunity to learn more about her enemy. She is nothing but practical.

What I like about Elisa is that she is not loyal to her friends but she is incredibly smart. She is able to size up a situation and come up with a solution in moments. This is truly her special power and she becomes to learn this. The Godstone gave her an advantage but it’s her ability to understand her enemies and how she can take advantage. She is able to talk her way out of a fight with her Inviernos and takes back her Palace without having to start a war. Her ability to inspire loyalty and friendship from those around her is also a power. She is a good person and people see that and want to follow her and help her. She couldn’t accomplish everything with out Hector, Mara, Belen, Ximena and the many others. I think this is way she is such a strong heroine. Yes, she has a special power that helped her out but all the power in the world wouldn’t help if she didn’t have the intelligence and friendships to plan and execute. So read those books ladies and be kind to your friends. I’m selling this trilogy short. It was a thrilling ride and I’m happy that we are getting another book in the world next year. There is so much more to explore and Elisa and her kingdom have more work to do .