B.O.B. turned out to be a crazy week, as I started off strong and was struck down by fate. (So dramatic!)
I was sick over the weekend, so I was unable to read four books, but I did complete three. Which is the most I’ve ever read in a week, so I’m still proud of that small accomplishment.
First up, Bloodlines is a spin-off series of Vampire Academy (both written by Richelle Mead) that follows Alchemist Sydney Sage.
I can’t recap all of VA here, but there are good and bad vamps, and Sydney Sage is an Alchemist, whose purpose is to protect humans from vamps and the knowledge of them. Sage is hired by the good vamps to protect the Queen Vamp’s younger sister, who was attacked by Queen haters.
(I just re-read that sentence… geez, this series is bonkers.)
Anywho, Sage, Princess Jill, and a couple of other vamps sent to help protect them decide to hide in sunny Palm Springs (at another boarding school! bahaha). But Sage is not only babysitting vamps, she also needs to prove herself to the other Alchemists (including her father).
As you could probably tell from my flippant summary, I didn’t have high hopes for the book. I decided to give Bloodlines a try because I wondered what route Mead would take with this series.
I remember VA always riding the line between straight up camp (more in the first couple of books) and taking itself too seriously. I was hoping the spin-off series would fully embrace the camp and be amazingly bad, especially since the other main character is party boy vamp Adrian.
There were definitely campy elements (e.g. mini-golf scene and drug-laced tattoos), but the main character is what kept the series from fully embracing the camp. Sydney can still be a faux Nancy Drew/Vamp babysitter and still have fun.
I couldn’t recommend this book to anyone, only the strongest of Mead lovers could take it seriously. I did buy the first two books together (they were on super sale), so I will give the second book, The Golden Lily, a chance. The fun potential is there, and with the reveal of one of my fave characters from the original series joining the Palm Springs crew… it might be worth it.
Score: 3/10 PGS. 421
I might be a glutton for punishment, but I decided to give another Dystopian YA novel a chance. An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir had some appeal, but I waited until B.O.B. to read it, so that if I hated it I wouldn’t have to write another review slaughtering a fan fave.
Much to my surprise, I actually enjoyed An Ember in the Ashes. Don’t get me wrong, all the lovely genre tropes are there (there’s always a resistance, and arena fights, and love triangles, etc.) but Tahir focused on the right stuff, which was the arc of the two main characters, Laia and Elias.
Both characters find the strength and courage they need to survive in a cruel world. By focusing on them instead of all the tropes (esp the love triangle… eck, that trend can die off now), it was satisfying watching Laia and Elias’ transformation to strong well-rounded characters.
Another strength is that Tahir doesn’t downplay the darkness of an dystopian world. I feel like other Dystopian YAs think they’re so edgy, but they are just playing pretend. I know the lead isn’t going to die and so the tension is lost. An Ember in the Ashes knows that there are worse things than death, and throughout the novel I was always worried for Laia.
I wholeheartedly recommend it and can’t wait for A Torch Against the Night.
Score: 7/10 PGS. 446
Despite Bloodlines being the worst out of the three books, I think Euphoria by Lily King was the biggest disappointment (at least I knew what I was getting into with Bloodlines).
Due to my interest in history, I’m all about the historical fiction genre and getting immersed in different time periods. On that side of the coin, Euphoria hit a homerun.
Nell Stone (based loosely on Margaret Mead) and her husband, Fen, are both anthropologists working with the river tribes of 1930’s New Guinea. The couple crosses paths with another anthropologist who works down the river, the depressed Bankson. A delicate dance starts to play between the three of them as Bankson becomes enamored with Nell.
The historical side (along with the anthropological studies) was on point. I was also with the personal story between the three main characters for about halfway through, but then the tension dropped. I enjoy a slow burn, but this one wore out its welcome quickly and I got little back in return.
For something marketed as being “steamy” and “seductive”, the only thing steamy in this book is the New Guinea climate.
And then the last 30-40 pages… what a mess.
So for the sake of scoring, I can’t give this book lower than a six, despite my frustration with the ending, due to the level of writing and the world King built around the three main characters.
I also really like the characters of Nell and Bankston, and how they interacted with each other. Fen the husband, on the other hand, can go fly a kite for all I care. His character took a nosedive and became a cartoon.
I was just left wanting, and not in the good way.
Score: 6/10 PGS. 257
Total PGS: 1,124
In The Margins:
- Due to being sick the last two days of B.O.B. I was unable to get to Between the World and Me, but I will read and review in September.
- On Sept. 1st the usual ‘Happenings’ post will come out but that’s it. Next week I’ll get back to the usual schedule.
- For anybody who has read the Vampire Academy series (or Bloodlines), do yourself a favor and watch the terrible book trailers for Bloodlines on Youtube. I laughed so hard that I had a hard time breathing. So ridiculous!
- I plan on skipping the January B.O.B. but I’ll tackle the one in May.