Tag Archives: Monsters

The Burning God By R. F. Kuang (Review by Alysa S. ’22)

The Burning God (The Poppy War, #3)The Burning God by R.F. Kuang
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Two years after The Poppy War, the first part of this trilogy series, was placed into my hands, I finally finished this emotional roller coaster. By the time we reach The Burning God, Rin is no longer the petty, lost child she once was, but I became increasingly frustrated with her blunt attitude and actions, now as a war-hardened general and a powerful shaman finally in control of her powers. It takes some willpower to move past the first 8 chapters of Rin’s ruthless carnage before we see more into her reasoning and limitations.

In terms of the storyline, R.F. Kuang seamlessly maps the history of 20th century China, from millenniums of imperial rule to the Republic of China to the ensuing revolts to western imperialism, into a narrative complete with ancient Chinese mythology, folklore, and war tactics. Though we finally see an end to the war, this last book especially taught me the demanding, cutthroat decisions that political and military leaders were forced to make for the sake of their country. This insight is made all the more heartbreaking as Rin grows increasingly vulnerable to war paranoia, factional infighting, and betrayals. The added issue of defending Nikan against the technologically advanced Hesperian nation also allows readers to understand the deep history of racism and subjugation that western powers inflicted upon 20th century China.

Kuang especially highlights a universal message: history moves around in vicious circles, and Rin is no exception to that pattern. Beyond the grim storyline and much, much, much more mature issues, Kuang continues to deliver on the evocative imagery of Rin’s divine firepower, as well as develop her complicated love-hate friendships with Kitay and Nezha. Side note: I think Nezha is a beautiful character (think broken redemption arc deserving Draco Malfoy), and I love how Kuang describes his aristocratic but scarred persona. However, I wanted to see more of Nezha’s reasoning and thoughts, and I had hoped for more insight into the pain he deals with as the opposition. I gave this book three stars because, like the author says, this ending may not be satisfactory for everyone (as it wasn’t for me). However, this is still one of the most unique and exciting books that I’ve read in a while, and I hope everyone gives the series a try. —Review by Alysa S. ’22

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Midnight Sun by Stephanie Meyer (Review by Anika F. ’21)

Midnight Sun (Twilight, #1.5)Midnight Sun by Stephenie Meyer
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Midnight Sun has been long-awaited for many Twihards. Honestly, the original series is pretty mediocre, but I wanted to see what the hype was about with this new release. And I was pleasantly surprised?

what was good
1) Bella: her personality is so much more interesting, and I loved learning about her
2) more backstory on the Cullens
3) Edward’s perspective: it was fascinating going through Edward (and by proxy, everyone else’s) thoughts
4) ALICE CULLEN: do I need to say more?

what was bad
1) unjustified creepy stalking
2) unjustified over-protectiveness
3) extensive repetition and redundancy: this book could have been like 400 pages if an editor had stepped in

Overall, I can’t decide if this is worse than the original or better. I think that this one paints the romance in a better light since Bella actually has a personality. On the other hand, this narrative went on and on for 25 whole hours while the original is MUCH shorter. But, hey, I felt 12 again and that’s the most I can ask from a vampire romance book about a creepy, stalker dude. -Review by Anika F. ’21

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The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black (review by Andrew R. ’17)

The Darkest Part of the ForestThe Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The tiny town of Fairfold teeters right on the border between the human and faerie worlds, and its inhabitants know it. On one side of this border are the local public high school, the general store, the partying teenagers, the clueless tourists; on the other side are vicious monsters made of twigs and dirt, goblins who bathe in human blood, and a horned prince lying dormant in the middle of the woods. Not your typical story-book creatures, these faeries, but, as long as they’re not provoked, they’re willing to live in a fragile balance with their human neighbors—until local teenager Hazel and her brother Ben, wishful monster hunters extraordinaire, upset that balance beyond repair. Holly Black’s masterful world-building is on display in the court of the faerie king (modeled off the legendary German Erlkönig) and on the ominous small-town streets of Fairfold, but the novel’s real creativity lies in the intersection between the two worlds. The border separating the humans and faeries, it becomes clear, is frighteningly porous, and the influence of faerie magic in Fairfold is stronger than its inhabitants would like to admit… Black never relinquishes nuance in her characters in favor of plot, and as a result the novel feels neither simplistic nor rushed. Here is YA fantasy at its best: a world that seems as real as, or realer than, our own.

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The Fall of Five by Pittacus Lore (review by Catherine H. ’17)

The Fall of Five (Lorien Legacies, #4)The Fall of Five by Pittacus Lore
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The fourth book in the Lorien Legacies series describes the events after the Garde’s unsuccessful battle with Setrákus Ra and follows their story as they regroup and try to form a coherent plan. Sam spent forever dreaming up rescue missions by the Garde and resisting Setrákus Ra’s torture sessions until he is finally rescued by two unexpected allies. John spent forever stuck, with no plans until the final member of the Garde, Five, sends a signal to them and the race begins to find Five before the Mogadorians do. Meanwhile, Ella has been having terrible nightmares and eventually ends up hurting John. The Garde try to catch up with each other and train together before the Mogadorians attack but when several people cause trouble from the inside out, the Mogadorians attack. Pittacus Lore has managed to keep the story going and provide some interesting new twists, but the constant switching of perspective can be disorienting, especially because there is usually no indication as to whose perspective we are viewing from. I would recommend this book only if you enjoyed I am Number Four. – Catherine H. ‘17

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Everwild by Neal Shusterman (review by Andrew R. ’17)

Everwild (Skinjacker, #2)Everwild by Neal Shusterman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Two near-legendary creatures are raising armies in preparation for their final confrontation, two feared individuals who have risen high in the ranks of the phantom-world known as Everlost. The Sky Witch patrols the clouds in the ghost of a monstrous zeppelin, searching for children to entrap and recruit to her troops, while her nemesis the Chocolate Ogre works to free all the spirits of Everlost by sending them into the final peace of death. The title of the second book in the Skinjacker trilogy is accurate in more ways than one: not only does Shusterman introduce the impassible wilderness of Everwild, he also picks up the pace of the plot. His fantasy realm followed strict rules in the first installment of the trilogy, but in Everwild the world is revealed to be a chaotic whirlwind of ghosts and monsters. This chaos, however, is exciting, suspenseful, and not unbearably confusing. The only difficult part about reading this novel is that the reader must choose a side in the imminent battle—so, to anyone who plans to plunge into this hectic fantasy world: beware, for each side is deeply, terribly flawed. – Andrew R. ‘17

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Fire by Kristine Cashore (review by Anushka D. ’15)

Fire (Graceling Realm, #2)Fire by Kristin Cashore
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When I first picked up Fire, I was expecting a typical story dealing with a girl with magical powers who is suddenly embroiled in an action-packed plot to fight evil with a gorgeous male by her side. However, although the book does feature a girl with magical mind-reading powers, Cashore manages to create a wonderful and unique fantasy world of her own full of princes, dragons, and magic. In the land of Dells, Fire, a monster in the shape of a beautiful woman, is forced to face hatred and jealousy because of her supernatural abilities. When asked to help the king defeat his enemies, Fire must face her fears and prove herself, not as a monster, but as a human. The plot grasps the reader with its innovative and emotional personality, and the characters each find their own space in the reader’s hearts. Although there is a gorgeous male, Cashore sprinkles in just the right amount of romance to keep the readers entertained. This book is a companion book to Cashore’s debut novel, Graceling, and definitely a worthy sequel. Fans of fantasy, magic, and mystery will enjoy both books! – Anushka D. ‘15

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