Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater

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“Humans were so circular; they lived the same slow cycles of joy and misery over and over, never learning.”

Blue’s mother has gone missing. Things with The Raven Boys have gotten more serious, and relationships have begun to change. As Blue and the boys get closer and closer to finding Glendower, it becomes apparent that they are part of something much bigger than they had even imagined.

Each of these books is better than the last! Stiefvater’s writing is phenomenal and I literally flew through this book because it was so good. I love all of these characters and I am so glad that there is another book coming because I am not ready to say goodbye to this series yet.

Blue is juggling a lot in this book. Her mother is missing, she is falling in love with Gansey even though she is trying her hardest not to, and she has to go back to her high school where everything is “normal”. Her relationships with the boys, even Ronan, grow stronger as they get closer and closer to Glendower. I love how we learn more about each character as the books go on. I hated Ronan in the first book, but as I learn more about him it’s easier to understand him and I like him much more as a character.

Blue and the boys finally decide to explore the cave in Cabeswater in hopes of finding Glendower’s resting place and finding Maura. This leads them on a series of adventures involving new characters and supernatural occurrences, and they begin to realize that this is no longer just a hunt for Glendower, but something much bigger that could be the difference between life and death.

Overall, Blue Lily, Lily Blue was an amazing third book in The Raven Cycle. I was on the edge of my seat while reading this and I can’t wait for the next book!

Blue Lily, Lily Blue was released on October 21, 2014 and is the third book in The Raven Cycle.

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Light by Michael Grant

Light by Michael GrantWARNING: SPOILERS FOR PREVIOUS BOOKS IN THE GONE SERIES AHEAD

The kids of Perdido Beach have been living in the FAYZ for a year now. Kids have starved, died, developed mutant powers, and fought countless battles. Now that the barrier has gone transparent and they can see out into the rest of the world, it seems as though the end is near. The kids begin to worry about what will happen to them when the barrier does come down and how they will be treated by the rest of the world. But before they can even deal with those issues, they have to figure out how to stop the gaiaphage, or none of them will make it out alive.

I have been a huge fan of this series for years now, and I was so amazed that each of these books have been better than the last. This series has been six books long and every single book in the series has been amazing. I’ve been anxiously awaiting Light because I’ve been so excited to see how this would all end. And once again, Michael Grant did not disappoint!

This series has such a large group of characters, but Grant does a great job of giving each character their own voice. Each character has their own issues to deal with outside of the group’s issues, and each person has changed greatly since the FAYZ was created. Some people became leaders while others became cowards. But what is amazing is that some characters have changed completely just in the last few books and have become the type of person you never expected them to come. The character growth has always been very nicely done in this series, and in this book especially it seems like each character grew tremendously.

The kids start to realize that the barrier is going to come down soon, and not everyone is happy about it. Sam for instance, was last seen murdering Penny on national TV, so he is almost positive that once the barrier comes down he will be thrown in jail. The people outside the barrier have no idea about the horrors that the kids have faced inside and the things they have had to do to stay alive. Many of the kids have more experience with war than some people in the armed forces. It is hard for Sam and the others to imagine just going back to high school and returning to their lives, because it seems like in the past year they have grown into adults. What I thought was really interesting is that one of the characters asks if the adults had been present in the FAYZ, would they have run things better or worse? This is an interesting question, because while adults may be more knowledgeable about things like medicine and procuring food, adults also do not have the same innocence that many children have.

The kids also have to deal with the gaiaphage, who is growing at a rapid rate and has more mutant powers than any of the other kids. They know they will have to fight, but they are unsure if any of them will make it out alive. The gaiaphage wants to kill them all and seems to actually take pleasure in causing pain. Plus, kids have started starving again because they are all sitting at the barrier talking to their parents rather than working, so there is no food being grown. It’s crazy how much these poor kids have gone through in the past year, but they are still so resilient.

This book wrapped everything up nicely and didn’t leave any questions at the end. We finally get the answers as to why the FAYZ happened and what the gaiaphage actually is, and what Little Pete’s role in the whole thing was. Also, we get the back story of Sam and Caine and why their mother only kept Sam. I really liked the way this ended, and I think Grant really accurately portrayed the way the media would react in this situation.

Overall, Light was an excellent conclusion to the Gone series. I will miss reading about these incredible kids, but I really enjoyed the ending.

Light was released on April 2, 2013 and is the final book in the Gone series.

The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater

The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater“Ronan Lynch lived with every sort of secret.”

After waking the ley lines, things for Ronan, Gansey, Blue, and Adam begin to change. Adam begins to feel the full weight of his sacrifice, Ronan’s dreams begin to intrude upon reality, and Blue desperately tries to fight her fate. Meanwhile, Gansey begins to realize that he is not the only one searching for the truth about Cabeswater, and must figure out the puzzle before someone else does first.

I seriously squealed with joy when I received an ARC of The Dream Thieves at BEA this year. The Raven Boys was one of my favorite books from last year, and I was eagerly anticipating the sequel. I was a little bit worried that it wouldn’t live up to my expectations, but it honestly was even better than I expected! The writing in this book was incredibly beautiful–Stiefvater has the ability to drop hints and clues throughout the book so subtly that at the end of the book I still found myself being surprised. I love the dialogue between the characters also–they all fit together like pieces of a puzzle and it is evident what each character brings to their little group.

This book focuses a lot on Ronan, which at first I was unhappy about because he was probably my least favorite character from the first book, mainly because of his abrasive personality. However, after reading the entire book, I’m glad that Ronan was a big part of it because we actually learn why he has this roughness to him. We finally get the backstory behind his family’s problems, and let me tell you–it was nothing I could have guessed at all!! We also learn a lot more about Ronan’s ability to bring things from his dreams into real life, and how it affects the ley lines in Henrietta. Ronan realizes that there are people looking for him–people that want to use his ability to do wrong.

Adam actually ended up dropping down to my least favorite character in this one. After waking the ley line he begins to change. He grows more angry and standoffish, and constants pushes Blue away without realizing it. I think it was necessary for him to undergo this change so that he and Blue could go in the directions they needed to, but I still missed the old Adam.

Gansey is still definitely my favorite character. I love his quirky nature and the fact that he is an old soul. He still tries to fix everyone’s problems without giving much thought to his own, and he proves time and again what a good friend he is. Blue is another great character–she loves being part of the boys’ group but at the same time feels like an outsider. She is tough and always stands up for herself and still tries to fight her fate. She is as determined as the rest of the boys to discover the true secrets of Cabeswater, but at the same time she is dealing with the fact that Gansey may be dead in less than a year. I loved the interactions between Blue and Gansey in this book and I’m excited to see where the next book takes them!

Overall, The Dream Thieves was an amazing sequel with fantastic character development and beautiful writing. I don’t know how I am going to wait for the next book!!

The Dream Thieves is the second book in The Raven Cycle and will be released on September 17, 2013.

The Girl with the Iron Touch by Kady Cross

The Girl With the Iron Touch by Kady Cross“It seemed humans, the scientifically minded ones at least, were either tempting death or trying to prolong life. Surely that was an indication of madness.”

Emily is kidnapped by automatons who want her to transplant The Machinist’s consciousness into another automaton so that he will be resurrected. Finley and the rest of the group try their best to find out where Emily is being held, but meanwhile Griffin is being tormented by the Aether and isolating himself from the others. Finley seeks help from Jack Dandy, but must deal with his feelings for her and her feelings for Griffin.

I loved the previous two books in this series so I was really looking forward to this, but I was a little bit disappointed. I absolutely love all of these characters so I enjoyed this book regardless, but I felt like the book was a little bit repetitive of itself. Finley and Griffin kept having the same argument over and over throughout the book and after awhile I was tired of reading the same conversation again and again.

I loved Emily and Sam’s moments in this book though. It was nice to see them both finally realize just how much they care about each other–especially Sam since he was always so surly and aggressive. When Emily is taken, Sam will stop at nothing to find her and his dedication to her was really sweet.

Jack Dandy is one of my favorite characters, and I was glad he played a big role in this book. There isn’t really a love triangle in this book–Jack is mainly just a source of tension between Finley and Griffin–but I love what Jack brings to the group and I love his interactions with Finley. I can’t say I would be happy to see him involved with Finley romantically because I love her with Griffin, but the two definitely have chemistry.

A big focus of this book was Emily and her abduction by the automatons. I love Emily because what she lacks in strength and size, she makes up for in intelligence. While she still needs help from the rest of the group to end The Machinist’s plans, Emily uses her brain to delay his return and the others use Emily’s creations to find her.

Overall, The Girl with the Iron Touch was a fun story but a slight disappointment. I will still be continuing on with the series because I love this group of characters, but I hope the next book will bring something new to the series.

The Girl with the Iron Touch was released May 28, 2013 and is the third book in The Steampunk Chronicles.

The Diviners by Libba Bray

The Diviners by Libba Bray

“’People always fear what they don’t understand, Evangeline. History proves that.’”

Evie O’Neill is sent from her home in Ohio to New York City to live with her Uncle Will as punishment, yet to her it is anything but. In the 1920s, New York is an exciting place with speakeasies, movies, and plenty of places to shop. However, living with her Uncle Will, curator of “The Museum of the Creepy Crawlies” turns out to be a much different experience than she had anticipated. Evie’s uncle is called in to help the local police solve a series of murders that seem to be related to the occult. Evie becomes caught up in the investigation and has a secret ability that she may be able to use to help catch the killer before it is too late.

It took me foreverrrr to get through this book because, while it definitely held my interest, it was a whopping 592 pages!! It was definitely worth it though, because this is an exciting story with so much to offer. There is mystery, romance, humor, and a bit of horror. In my opinion though, the best part of this book was the characters. This book reminded me a bit of The Girl in the Steel Corset by Kady Cross because it has a kooky band of characters that are trying to solve a mystery, yet they each have their own little side plot that is actual vital to the main plot. It’s definitely a challenge to be able to develop so many characters well in just one book, but Libby Bray, like Kady Cross, does it perfectly. I found myself attached to each and every character and kept hoping that they wouldn’t end up as the next murder victim!

I loved all of the characters, but my favorite was the protagonist, Evie. Evie is a sassy character who speaks her mind even though it sometimes gets her into trouble. She sneaks out to go drink and dance at speakeasies and is not afraid to see a murder scene. She is extremely brave and rather than shy away from the murders her uncle is trying to solve, she decides to use her special power to help him find the murderer.

Another thing I loved about this book is the time period. The Diviners takes place during the Roaring Twenties, which seems like a fascinating time to be in New York City. Bray does an excellent job of describing the city during the 20s and even the dialogue reflects the slang of the time period. I really felt as though I was transported to the 20s every time I sat down with this book.

Overall, The Diviners was an excellent book with a great cast of characters, a thrilling mystery, and fascinating historical context. While it was a very long book, the pacing was good and there really wasn’t a dull moment. I really enjoyed it and I’m definitely looking forward to the next book!

The Diviners was released on September 18, 2012 and is the first book in The Diviners series. The second book is currently untitled and is expected to be released in 2014.

 

The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken

The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken

“The darkest minds tend to hide behind the most unlikely faces.”

When a disease dubbed IAAN rampages throughout the United States, killing 98% of kids between the ages of 10 and 18, the children who survive are rounded up and placed in camps. The camps are said to be for their own good, so that they can be rehabilitated, because the children who survived the illness also developed special powers. Some have the power of telekinesis, some can create fire, and others, the most dangerous kind, can get into a person’s head and alter their thoughts. Ruby has spent the last six years of her life at Thurmond, one of the most brutal camps. Instead of rehabilitating or helping the children, the camps are more like prison. They are not allowed to leave, talk to each other except for at bedtime, or contact their families. Ruby has survived this long at Thurmond by hiding her true powers, but when the truth is discovered, Ruby has to escape the camp or she may be killed. When she manages to get out, she realizes that children like herself have more enemies than she thought on the outside, and she joins a group of fellow escapees that are trying to find East River, a place that is rumored to be a safe haven for children with powers. However, not everything is always as it seems.

This book was really incredible! From literally page one, I was completely hooked. Ruby is such a frightened girl in the beginning of the book, having hidden her true nature for years not only because she fears discovery but because she fears her own abilities. After the terrible thing that happened to her parents, she is afraid to become close with anyone, especially Liam–the leader of the group of escapees she joins, who she cannot seem to get out of her head. Throughout the book, she grows from a meek and skittish young girl to a strong and confident young woman. What I really admired about Ruby was that after all of the terrible things she had been through in the past six years, she still showed such compassion and empathy towards her new friends and always put their problems and feelings before hers. She realizes that she does not have to let her abilities define her, no matter how dangerous she believes she is.

The Darkest Minds reminded me a bit of X-men, since it is about a bunch of people (or in this situation–children) who are hunted down because of their abilities. What I loved about The Darkest Minds also was that we get to see how the United States began to crumble after IAAN terrorized the country. The economy crumbled, the government fell to pieces and basically became a dictatorship, and while many parents hid their children away, others turned them in to the camps. In the next book I would love to find out more about where the disease came from and why it did not kill the 2% of kids that instead developed powers.

Overall, The Darkest Minds is a fascinating book with an enthralling story that will literally captivate you from the first page. It is haunting and brutal but absolutely phenomenal. The characters are wonderfully written and the pacing is perfect, especially for such a long book. This book will stay with you long after you read it and leave you desperately longing for the sequel.

The Darkest Minds was released December 18, 2012 and is the first of a series. The sequel is currently untitled but is expected to be released December 2013.

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater“There are only two reasons a non-seer would see a spirit on St. Mark’s Eve,” Neeve said. “Either you’re his true love . . . or you killed him.”

Blue Sargent is the daughter of a psychic, and has spent her whole life surrounded by the supernatural. From a young age, she has been told by every psychic she has ever met that she will kill her true love by kissing him. So obviously, she has avoided kissing or getting involved with anyone. However, when her half-aunt Neeve comes to stay with her family, things begin to change. Every year Blue goes to an old church with her mother on St. Mark’s Eve to watch the spirits of people that will die in the coming year walk past. Blue is never able to see the spirits herself because she lacks psychic ability, but when she goes on St. Mark’s Eve with Neeve, she sees the spirit of a boy who tells her only his name: Gansey. When Neeve tells her that the only way she could see his spirit is if she is his true love or his murderer, Blue is determined never to meet Gansey.

Gansey is a rich boy at the Aglionby school, a prestigious school with a raven as its mascot. The fact that he is a “Raven Boy” gives Blue another reason to stay away from him. But no matter how hard she tries, it seems that their paths are destined to cross and she soon becomes part of Gansey’s quest to find the body of a long dead king. She becomes involved in this strange crusade with the four Raven Boys: Gansey, Adam, Ronan, and Noah, but in the back of her mind she cannot forget her ill-fated destiny to bring death to her true love.

The Raven Boys was such a surprise for me–in a good way! I wasn’t a big fan of Stiefvater’s Shiver trilogy for many reasons, so I had low expectations for this book. I am so glad to say that The Raven Boys was in no way a disappointment. I absolutely loved this book; it was fantastically written and was full of so many unexpected twists and turns from beginning to end. It has so many great characters with such vibrant personalities. Blue is such a strong character and really holds her own amongst the four boys, who adopt her as one of their own. She accepts the fact that she is fated to kill her true love but is still determined to create her own destiny. Blue’s relationship with the Raven Boys reminded me of when Wendy meets Peter and The Lost Boys in Peter Pan. Like the Lost Boys, who look to Peter as their leader, the Raven Boys look to Gansey. And as with Wendy, the boys are first very skeptical about Blue, but they soon realize that it seemed like she was always meant to be a part of their group.

Each of the Raven boys is extremely different, but they fit together like a puzzle and each brings a different quality to their little group. Their loyalty to Gansey is admirable, and they are all extremely invested in his quest to find the dead king Glendower, even if it seems a bit fantastical. I really liked Gansey, because even though he was born to a privileged life, he still tries to be humble and deeply cares for each of his friends. This makes it hard for Blue to stay away from him and harder to keep the truth a secret, even though she knows he is to die within a year.

I really loved this book and could not put it down. This is definitely the best book that Maggie Stiefvater has ever written, and I highly recommend reading it if you haven’t already!

The Raven Boys was released September 18, 2012 and is the first book in The Raven Cycle. The sequel, still untitled, is set to be published September 2013.