No time to track down full reviews of YA books? Seashell Reviews offers bite-size thoughts to let you know which books you shouldn’t pass up, and which ones you can hold off for another day. Original titled blog feature by Angel @ Mermaid Vision Books.
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The Blessed is a very polarizing novel, and I very quickly found myself on the side of those uncomfortable with the way the idea of faith was warped. Don’t get me wrong–I welcome stories that ask intelligent questions about how faith and pragmatism can co-exist in the same mind, and make observations about the way people can abuse the human desire to believe in a higher power. But I found neither of these things in The Blessed, and I so wish I could have. The characters, while initially fascinating, seemed to turn flatter with every page, and I found it hard to care about their plight. The story itself meandered between themes and events, and I couldn’t get a good hold of what I was supposed to be reading in the first place, despite the fact that it is based on the religion I belong to.
The sequel to one of the most memorable books I’ve read in the last ten years, Days of Blood and Starlight does not disappoint. Laini Taylor’s prose is as captivating as ever, and though it’s been more than a year since Smoke and Bone was first released, slipping into this book felt like I’d never left Karou’s world. Her multiple struggles with her identity, her people and her relationship (or lack thereof) with Akiva are handled with care, and it is clear that Taylor has spent a lot of time in forming a character that is full in herself. A weaker character would be lost in the intense detail of Taylor’s worldbuilding, but Karou stands stark against it, and readers will be hard pressed to leave unsatisfied.
As a retelling of the chilling “Bluebeard,” Strands of Bronze and Gold certainly succeeds in creating an atmosphere of indescribable danger lurking around every corner. But it wasn’t enough to distract me from some problematic characterization and frustrating plot twists. I wanted to like Sophie, but I found her to be very self-absorbed from the first page. Instead of sympathizing with her, I found myself following her story with some disinterest–her inability to see some very obvious warning signs was discouraging, and I couldn’t help but compare her to the main character in Angela Carter’s short story, “The Bloody Chamber,” and find her lacking. The plot never took off enough for me to be distracted by it, and by the time I finished the novel, I was ready to move on.