Tag Archives: Tasha M. ’20

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzie Lee (review by Tasha M. 20)

The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue (Montague Siblings, #1)The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

When Henry “Monty” Montague embarks on a Grand Tour of Europe with his best friend, he expects a year of glitz, of parties and flirting, and just generally enjoying himself. He does not expect to be the target of a manhunt.

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue is easily the best historical fiction I’ve ever read. Without bogging the reader down with details, Lee weaves in a few key historical points. Additionally, the tone of the writing was perfect – right from the first page, I knew that Monty was part of the British aristocracy simply from the narrative style. The plot was engaging right from the start, accelerating beautifully right up until the end. I also appreciated the lack of an “epilogue” chapter that only serves to tie up loose ends.

Lee develops her characters spectacularly. I found myself invested in Monty’s growth from a devil-may-care attitude to someone who genuinely cared for the people he was close to. The romance was believable; Monty and Percy did fight as opposed to staying in a utopian love the entire time.
In short, The Gentleman’s Guide blew me away in every respect, and I would recommend it to anyone looking for a good fiction book. – Tasha M. ’20

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Sourdough by Robin Sloan (review by Tasha M. ’20)

SourdoughSourdough by Robin Sloan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Lois Clary, a typical Silicon Valley programmer, receives a sourdough starter from two brothers who are part of a small community called the Mazg. As Lois bakes with the starter, she observes strange effects – each loaf has a face in the crust. She quits her job and devotes herself to running a stall at a farmer’s market, where she encounters rather eccentric products – from cricket cookies to fungus-infected lemons – and a vendor who has a dark idea about how to use Lois’s unique sourdough starter.

Although the plot moves slowly at first, it soon accelerates and finishes with a conclusion that truly provides closure. However, I definitely wanted to see more of Lois’s internal journey, especially at key moments like quitting her job. Nevertheless, this lack did not significantly change the experience – Sourdough, still forced me to distance myself from the comfortable world I know and consider larger things.

Sourdough is less an entertaining read than a meditation on life in all forms and the impact of technological progress. If you can get past the premise (which, I will admit, I was skeptical of at first), Sourdough will make you contemplate that which we know but never stop to really observe. – Tasha M. ’20

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Warcross by Marie Lu (review by Tasha M. ’20)

Warcross (Warcross, #1)Warcross by Marie Lu
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Marie Lu’s Warcross at first seems like an overdone virtual reality dystopia, but provides a somewhat original take on the topic. Emika Chen, a hacker barely able to pay rent, shocks the world by “glitching” into the international tournament of Warcross, the most popular virtual reality video game. The creator of Warcross enters her into the tournament to gain inside information on someone trying to infiltrate the systems.

Lu’s future world is believable and immersive. The description was well-mixed with plot that was engaging and moved at a decent pace; however, the ending confused me and seemed like it should have been the first chapter of the sequel.

The characters were incredibly well-developed, especially Emika. She comes off as a strong, knowledgeable protagonist, but later on, her vulnerable side begins to show. While I would have liked to know more about the supporting characters, they had unique personalities. Also worth noting is the characters’ diversity: along with the Asian-American protagonist, Warcross features a disabled character, a gay character, and a Hispanic character. My only criticism is that the romance seemed forced.

All in all, Warcross is an enjoyable but not spectacular read, especially for fans of YA or science fiction. – Tasha M. ’20

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You by Austin Grossman (review by Tasha M. ’20)

YouYou by Austin Grossman
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Austin Grossman’s You promises a fresh perspective on video games, with emphasis on how they are created and how they affect players, but ultimately fails to deliver. Russell, the protagonist, begins working as a game designer and attempts to find a bug in the code by playing through other games by the company, Black Arts Games. The writing is mostly descriptions of Russell’s experiences with the games, and almost nothing significant happens in the book’s reality.

The storyline started out a little far-fetched and rapidly devolved into a baffling wandering between several video games (each of which had enough description to bore but not enough to fully immerse the reader), Russell’s imagining of the characters in the video games, and Russell’s attempt to fix the bug. Also disorienting are the many sudden time and point-of-view shifts, and the incredibly blurred distinctions between the games, Russell’s imagination, and reality. The characterization was not much better. The reader learns almost nothing about Russell; the supporting characters, while very cookie-cutter, at least had definable personality traits.

In short, You spectacularly failed to live up to the high expectations it established, leaving me disappointed and at a loss as to what the purpose was. – Tasha M. ’20

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