Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton

Rebel of the Sands (Rebel of the Sands, #1)

A New Dawn, A New Desert

Having delved into some books well outside my usual fantasy comfort zone and not quite enjoyed the experience, I decided to have a brief return to the genre.

Step in a book that had me from the first chapter. From the moment Amani stepped onto the scene I knew I was a goner. This book was effortless to read, a clear just one more chapter experience. I had to keep stopping myself reading just because I could easily have devoured the book in no time at all.
The story in a nutshell is about Amani and her desperate desire to leave her life in Dustwalk. Her mother is dead, by hanging no less, for the crime of murdering her husband. Amani has to suffer the humiliation of living with an Aunt who despises her and with no real idea who her father is. She has had enough, to her friend Tamid she has been joking about leaving for years but now with her mother gone and the threat of being married off to her uncle Amani realises she has no choice to escape. Then Jin turns up and turns everything around.

It goes without saying that I love fantasy fiction and I am especially partial to a cleverly constructed world - think Sandersons' Mistborn series. I love when an author manages to construct a new reality that I believe easily and without finding fault. The middle-eastern desert world of Miraji is just that. Believable, with it's guns, arranged marriages, sexism and rebel princes whilst being fantastical with the Djinni and First Beings.  These elements combined make for an exceptionally believable backdrop. The fantasy elements really work as they are well woven into the culture in the nation. Now it has a teeny tiny western feel to it. However, sand, horses, shooting contests and a few guns do not make a book a western. So if you are expecting a cowboys and gun toting western this might not be for you.

Surprisingly I really enjoyed the romance element of the story. I have heard a few people argue that there is zero chemistry between the two main characters. I personally couldn't disagree more. The heat between the two is palpable. Yes Jin is a blatant love interest within the first ten seconds of his introduction but this is typical of a lot of YA at the moment. Thankfully blatant love interest or not the word love isn't bandied about at all so it is not a case of love at first sight. Secondly the way in which Hamilton writes the two sizzles with chemistry and makes there attraction believable and a very enjoyable aspect to the story.

Alwyn has successfully managed to weave a story full of action, suspense, romance and depth and yet it is only 350 pages.  For me the book gets very character heavy towards the end and this is possibly my only negative. I know that Amani and Jin's journey was incredibly relevant but personally the introduction of the other characters added a necessary new dimension and I would have preferred to meet them all a little earlier in the story.

A brilliant debut and sizzling series opener

Wednesday, 6 July 2016

We Were Liars by E.Lockhart

We Were Liars

Beautiful, Privileged, Damaged - Liars

This book kept appearing on several Instagram accounts that I follow and both the title and the cover really intrigued me. It has also like Everything Everything been featured on Zoella's Book Club Summer 2016. I rarely read books like this. Even Everything Everything was bit out of my comfort zone. 

I literally finished the book within a couple of hours. I was really intrigued. I had my suspicious the whole time as I read and I could not put it down until the answers were given. Cadence has been injured and she can not remember her accident. It all revolves around her time on her families own island with her cousins: Johnny, Mirren and her friend and love interest, Gat. Her injury is serious and has affected her brain leaving her with crippling migraines and pain. When she is finally allowed on the island again her memories and feelings begin to unravel to reveal the truth amongst the lies.

The pace of the book is quick, helped along a bit by the bizarre style of writing and punctuation. Cady is so ridiculously dramatic. Sometimes I wasn't sure what had genuinely happened to her and what was just her weirdly over the top way of describing her feelings. If you are anything like me you'll get confused about whether she was shot at the start - FYI she wasn't it was just how she felt about something. Some people will find the style of prose unbelievably frustrating and if you are even slightly OCD about punctuation this book might not be for you. I feel the style of writing reflects how Cady is after her accident but maybe that is just me being overly analytical.

The style of writing at least allowed me to finish the book at speed.  Personally I felt that the revelation of the truth was disappointing as it was revealed so abruptly, I was hoping for something less matter of fact. It was a  anti-climactic for me and considering how much Cady dramatises everything I was expecting a bigger reveal. The twist was a little predictable and I didn't really warm to Cady as a character. I was moved by the way Cadence and her family deal with the truth of her accident but at the same time it was not enough to endear me to the characters..  I can see why this has been popular as although a weird writing style it is an easy read for summer.

I initially gave this book 3 stars but on reflection it's more two for me. I'm just not convinced by the characters. .