Sunday, January 26, 2014

Reviews: New Series Starters

New series can delight or disappoint. In this selection of reviews, there's a science fiction tale of love, a dystopian with enough twists to give a reader whiplash and a fantasy tale of love across lines and sacrifice for survival. None of these books disappointed and though I enjoyed them on different levels, I plan on seeing these series through to the end. Now if only the sequels would come sooner, rather than later...


Pawn РAim̩e Carter
Blackcoat Rebellion series

Released November 26, 2013

In the dystopian America where Kitty Doe lives, there are seven levels of society. Just when it seems like Kitty will never make it higher than a III, she’s offered a chance by the Prime Minster to become a VII. She’s remade into the Prime Minister’s beloved niece, Lila Hart, who passed away a few weeks before. Quite suddenly, Kitty is ensconced in the ruling family’s lies, manipulation and special brand of evil.

The steady flow of secrets revealed is what catapulted Pawn to unputdownable, especially near the end. The characters, from Kitty to boyfriend Benjy to the entire Hart family, are distinctive, intriguing and all clearly motivated. The only thing that threw me was the pacing, as the beginning read slowly and the middle quickly. It steadied as the story neared the climax, and that plus the unbelievable revelations, kept me reading to the end. Captive, the sequel, is expected later this year.

These Broken Stars – Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner
Starbound series

Released December 10, 2013

Lilac LaRoux and Tarver Merendsen are the only survivors of a luxury spaceliner crash on an uninhabited planet. When it’s clear that rescue teams aren’t coming, Lilac, a privileged daughter, and Tarver, a young war hero, must learn how to survive on this uncharted planet. They are barely succeeding when Lilac begins hearing whispers in the surrounding countryside.

Immediately upon opening this book, I was intrigued by the format. In snippets of conversations between chapters, Tarver is being debriefed. I looked forward to his sarcasm in the midst of the dense, detailed chapters. This novel has an epic feel, as it is not only science fiction, but romance and adventure as well. Yet, there are only two main characters and a handful of secondary ones who make appearances. I loved that Lilac and Tarver, their adventure on this planet and their slow, uncertain romance were the sole focus of the tale. Also, not only are two sequels in the works, but a TV show adaptation as well!   

The Winner’s Curse  Marie Rutkoski
Winner’s Trilogy series
To be released March 4, 2014

In the simplest sense, The Winner’s Curse is the story of love in the midst of war. And yet, it is so much more: a story of slavery, romance, betrayal and sacrifice. Kestral, a general’s daughter, lives in an empire that enslaves those it conquers. Even though she shies away from the idea of slavery, one day she spots a young man for auction and buys him on instinct. He’s intriguing and defiant, and soon their growing friendship cannot be hidden.

The romance between Kestral and Arin is slow, which makes it realistic, and barely explored, which makes it heart-wrenching. I adore that Kestral understands strategy but is just a fair fighter, which makes her different from a lot of YA heroines. Kestral’s imperfection is her strength (and makes her human). The fact that Kestral and Arin are both masters and puppets of their own fate is ingenious. The book is expertly plotted and the characters expertly crafted. The Winner’s Curse is powerful, unforgettable and a must-read of the YA genre. I’m beyond thrilled that it’s going to be a trilogy!

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