Book Review: An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir


Synopsis from Goodreads:

Laia is a slave. Elias is a soldier. Neither is free.

Under the Martial Empire, defiance is met with death. Those who do not vow their blood and bodies to the Emperor risk the execution of their loved ones and the destruction of all they hold dear.

It is in this brutal world, inspired by ancient Rome, that Laia lives with her grandparents and older brother. The family ekes out an existence in the Empire’s impoverished backstreets. They do not challenge the Empire. They’ve seen what happens to those who do.

But when Laia’s brother is arrested for treason, Laia is forced to make a decision. In exchange for help from rebels who promise to rescue her brother, she will risk her life to spy for them from within the Empire’s greatest military academy.

There, Laia meets Elias, the school’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias wants only to be free of the tyranny he’s being trained to enforce. He and Laia will soon realize that their destinies are intertwined—and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself.

My review:

“You are full, Laia. Full of life and dark and strength and spirit.”

This book has turned me into a person of few words, and I mean this in the best way possible.

This world was so easy to slip into. I felt like a speck in the masses of Blackcliff. Inconspicuous and insignificant. We are all life and dark and strength and spirit. Each of us is a soldier in battle. Some of us know what we are fighting for, some of us are simply fighting to find out what for. Others have no will to fight. Most days, the struggle is deciding who we are fighting with, and who we are against. Sometimes, but more often than not, we are against ourselves.

I’m not sure where I’m going with this.

I am a skeptic when it comes to fate and prophecies and claims like “everything happens for a reason”, but I was meant to read this book. That’s all I know.

★★★★★ (5 stars) for the everyday soldier, fighting for a better life.

Book Review: The Time Machine by H.G. Wells


Synopsis from Goodreads:

The Time Machine tells the story of the Time Traveler, an inventor living in Victorian England. Traveling into the distant future using his time machine he encounters the descendants of humans and witnesses the end of life on earth. Wells’ first published book, The Time Machine, popularized the concept of human time travel and has influenced countless works of fiction.

My mini-review:

“It sounds plausible enough tonight, but wait until tomorrow. Wait for the common sense of the morning.”

This will be a short review because I have little to say.

There is no doubt in my mind that Wells was a genius of his time. Had I read this book during the proper era, I would have enjoyed it a lot more. It is indeed mysterious and thought-provoking and well-written, but it failed to excite me in the way that modern science fiction does. Then again, where would modern science fiction be without the likes of H.G. Wells?

★★★ (3 stars) for being great, at some point in the past.

Book Review: Unite Me by Tahereh Mafi

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Destroy Me tells the events between Shatter Me and Unravel Me from Warner’s point of view. Even though Juliette shot him in order to escape, Warner can’t stop thinking about her—and he’ll do anything to get her back. But when the Supreme Commander of The Reestablishment arrives, he has much different plans for Juliette. Plans Warner cannot allow.

Fracture Me is told from Adam’s perspective and bridges the gap between Unravel Me and Ignite Me. As the Omega Point rebels prepare to fight the Sector 45 soldiers, Adam’s more focused on the safety of Juliette, Kenji, and his brother. The Reestablishment will do anything to crush the resistance . . . including killing everyone Adam cares about.

My review:

“I’ve never read anything like this before. I’ve never read anything that could speak directly to my bones.”

That awkward moment when Warner’s thoughts seem to be just as annoyingly “purple prose” as Juliette’s. Ew. Don’t do that, Warner.

This was kind of disappointing. I waited a week after finishing the trilogy before I let myself read this, thinking that the words from Warner’s P.O.V. would be very satisfying. It wasn’t. It was predictable. And I didn’t even get the sense of his character. It was like reading Juliette’s thoughts but with a swapped gender role. It was literally a regurgitation from the scenes in Unravel Me/Ignite Me. Oh, and I should mention that I did not care for Adam’s P.O.V. at all. No interest whatsoever. It was bad.

Let’s not forget about Juliette’s annoying journal/diary thing. It is everything I hated about the series when I first started reading it. The repetition repetition repetition and distracting confusing sentences that were crossed out altogether. All in all, it was like sad poetry. And I did not want to read sad poetry. I wanted to read a dystopian-ish YA novel.

Still, I will give this ★★ (2.5 stars). I wanted a little more of Warner, and I got it. It’s just not the parts of him I thought I’d be getting. I think I should have went into this book with lower expectations.

Book Review: Ignite Me by Tahereh Mafi

Synopsis from Goodreads:

With Omega Point destroyed, Juliette doesn’t know if the rebels, her friends, or even Adam are alive. But that won’t keep her from trying to take down The Reestablishment once and for all. Now she must rely on Warner, the handsome commander of Sector 45. The one person she never thought she could trust. The same person who saved her life. He promises to help Juliette master her powers and save their dying world . . . but that’s not all he wants with her.

My review:

“And we are quotation marks, inverted and upside down, clinging to one another at the end of this life sentence. Trapped by lives we did not choose.”

I almost forgive Mafi for some of the horrendous writing because her words are beautiful. I’m sure she didn’t intend to annoy the crap out of readers. If I wanted to read poetry though, I would be reading poetry, and not this. Stop distracting confusing me.

Anyways, what I really wanted to say is that my rating scheme for this trilogy is “more stars for more Aaron”. That is basically how I’m judging these books.

I feel like the synopsis tells you everything you need to know. Similarly, the reviews on Goodreads mostly regurgitate the same issues with writing style, etc. You can decide for yourself whether that is something you are willing to overlook. The premise and plot aren’t completely new (these days it’s impossible to find a YA Dystopian that doesn’t resemble the many others circulating around), but it was different enough to peak my interest. Basically, if you’re staying with this book/trilogy, you are staying for the characters. That is my opinion.

I stayed for Aaron Warner.

★★★★ (4.5 stars) because I wanted to leave all the stars for the ending, however, the ending just didn’t cut it.


Book Review: Unravel Me by Tahereh Mafi

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Juliette has escaped to Omega Point. It is a place for people like her—people with gifts—and it is also the headquarters of the rebel resistance.

She’s finally free from The Reestablishment, free from their plan to use her as a weapon, and free to love Adam. But Juliette will never be free from her lethal touch.

Or from Warner, who wants Juliette more than she ever thought possible.

In this exhilarating sequel to Shatter Me, Juliette has to make life-changing decisions between what she wants and what she thinks is right. Decisions that might involve choosing between her heart—and Adam’s life.

My mini-review:

“I want to be the friend you fall hopelessly in love with. The one you take into your arms and into your bed and into the private world you keep trapped in your head. I want to be that kind of friend. The one who will memorize the things you say as well as the shape of your lips when you say them. I want to know every curve, every freckle, every shiver of your body.”

I want you to be that friend, too.

Once again, I had to overlook the slightly annoying writing style but it honestly wasn’t as bad as it was in the first book. And this one has more Warner. So yes, this book gets more appreciation from me.

★★★★ (4 stars) because of Aaron. That is all.

Book Review: Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Juliette hasn’t touched anyone in exactly 264 days.

The last time she did, it was an accident, but The Reestablishment locked her up for murder. No one knows why Juliette’s touch is fatal. As long as she doesn’t hurt anyone else, no one really cares. The world is too busy crumbling to pieces to pay attention to a 17-year-old girl. Diseases are destroying the population, food is hard to find, birds don’t fly anymore, and the clouds are the wrong color.

The Reestablishment said their way was the only way to fix things, so they threw Juliette in a cell. Now so many people are dead that the survivors are whispering war, and The Reestablishment has changed its mind. Maybe Juliette is more than a tortured soul stuffed into a poisonous body. Maybe she’s exactly what they need right now.

Juliette has to make a choice: Be a weapon. Or be a warrior.

My review:

“I spent my life folded between the pages of books. In the absence of human relationships I formed bonds with paper characters. I lived love and loss through stories threaded in history; I experienced adolescence by association. My world is one interwoven web of words, stringing limb to limb, bone to sinew, thoughts and images all together. I am a being comprised of letters, a character created by sentences, a figment of imagination formed through fiction.”

I was skeptical of this book. Initially, I heard very mixed things about it. Some people were in love with everything about it, and others seemed to despise every aspect of it. I assumed I might be somewhere in-between, but I find that I’m leaning more towards the loving side.

Yes, the writing was a little tedious at times. The first few chapters were almost difficult for me to read because of the repetition repetition repetition of words or phrases (just like that), and more often than not, the strikeouts were annoying really distracted me. But I moved on, because the premise was very interesting and I can’t deny that I was hoping for a forbidden romance to ensue. Needless to say, I’m glad I kept reading. Despite the excessive purple prose, the plot carried on very well. And actually, I find that the writing improved with every page, both grammatically and stylistically.

Besides the slightly annoying writing style, I really liked the plot and characters. I have to admit, Juliette is definitely a Mary Sue and some things in the story are very cliché, but I’m willing to overlook that because I still loved reading it all. I don’t dislike any of the characters (psychotic ones included).

The last thing I want to say is that if you’re considering reading this book (but feel uncertain because of the mixed reviews), do it! Just read it. Or at least try to read the first one. This may be one of those reads that really depends on the type of reader you are, and what you are willing to overlook or enjoy (if that makes any sense).

★★★★ (4 stars) for helping me out of a reading slump! I’m going to devour the rest of the series today.