Review

Review: Falling Kingdoms (Falling Kingdoms #1) by Morgan Rhodes

16279698.jpg

5 out of 5 stars | Goodreads

Like any large scale fantasy novel, Falling Kingdoms has its fair share of characters, families and feuds. Although compared to a series such as A Song of Ice and Fire it’s only a handful of characters, I was very grateful for the character list at the beginning of the book. Despite some initial confusion with the characters, the world which Morgan Rhodes has created drew me in pretty quickly. It’s not a particularly original fantasy world – several kingdoms and warring peoples, magic, royal families – but it was definitely one that worked well and kept me reading.

The story follows members of three different families: Cleo, whose fiancee caused the strife; Jonas, whose brother was murdered, beginning the uneasy relations between the three kingdoms; Lucia and Magnus, siblings with a dark background. Generally, I really liked all of the point-of-view characters – there was a real mix of personalities and goals, and it never really felt like one character was ‘better’ than the other. There were no real good or bad characters when it came to the POV characters: they all had their own reasons for doing what they were doing. The dynamic of Lucia and Magnus’ relationship reminded me of that of Lucrezia and Cesare Borgia, as portrayed in the TV series The Borgias. Slowly, the stories of each family begin to intertwine, bringing around the conclusion and opening up the story for the second book.

Morgan Rhodes is not afraid of writing in shocking moments and sudden deaths (like another certain fantasy writer I can think of…), and this one was of the qualities that made the book stand out. The author is not afraid to shock, or potentially upset the reader – there is no pandering down to keep the reader happy.

My main complaint about the book was one of the romances felt really lacklustre, a bit too Romeo and Juliet, teenage angsty. I also feel like I could predict the next romance, so I hope I’m wrong! I also have no idea who is supposed to be on the cover, as there certainly weren’t any assassin type characters for the majority of the book.

The cover of the version I read claimed that the book was ‘A Game of Thrones for young adults’. I really hate comparisons like this – it makes it seem that all books coming out these days are practically rip-offs of other series, when what we really want is originally. I get the comparison here in as far as it is a political fantasy (although nowhere near as in-depth as A Song of Ice and Fire, plus there are the shifting point-of-views and a higher than average body count… but really, it’s a very different story and probably just a decision on the behalf of the publishers, trying to sell more copies by comparing it to the ‘next big thing’. Overall, I really loved the book. It pulled me in straight away and I rushed through the story, eager for each new chapter and event – and I will definitely be reading the rest of the series.

Review

Review: Legend (Legend #1) by Marie Lu

13042002.jpg
4 out of 5 stars | Goodreads
With the amount of Young Adult novels, particularly of the Dystopian/Post-Apocalyptic genre, being released in the past year or two, it is especially difficult to find the stand-out ones, let alone write one. But Marie Lu has managed to create something really fantastic with Legend, that definitely deserves its comparison to The Hunger Games.

 

I had seen this book on many a blog, with such strong praise and positive reviews that I immediately added it to my ‘to read’ pile. Combine that with the Hunger Games vibe, and I was sold. However, when my copy finally arrived from the library, I was initially put off by the blurb, claiming that June and Day are ‘irresistibly¬†drawn together’. One of my pet hates – that occurs more often than not in YA novels – is insta-love. Insta-love that is so deep, the couple just know they’re going to be together forever from day one. No thank you. Lu also shows that there could perhaps be the opportunity for a love triangle, but takes that away – another thing I was very glad about!

So I was delighted to discover that it is not insta-love – but insta-attraction. Much more realistic, and not all consuming – June doesn’t spend her time pining after Day, or vice versa. They are both far too strong a character for that, and that is another thing I really enjoyed about the book. Both protagonists were street smart and intelligent, and didn’t let bad events get them down, but instead used them as a reason to work for a good cause. And whilst sometimes their strength might make them seem a little cold – mostly in June’s case – this is another good thing, as YA novels often suffer from flawless, or flawed in a cute way, characters. For example, there is one scene where June is witnessing something particularly horrible, and she merely watches without flinching. She is also, at least for the first half of the book, very snobby about the Republic, looking down on the Colonies and Patriots.

One element that Lu could have perhaps built on a little more was the reason why the world was like it was. What happened to divide the USA up? Why are there three main groups? Perhaps this is explained properly in Prodigy, the second book, and I will be reading it to find out. I was able to guess some of the rather important plot points, but there were also some truly shocking moments, that could certainly rival some of those created by Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games trilogy. I didn’t find myself as emotionally invested in these characters though, and I’m hoping that this will change with the next book.

Overall, this really was a fantastic read, building up for what I believe could be an explosive trilogy. The ending was not quite a cliffhanger, but definitely left the story open enough for me to want more – and I’ll be ordering the next book from the library as soon as I’ve got through my stack of current library books!