Thursday, December 13, 2012

Review: The Pledge by Kimberly Derting

The Pledge (The Pledge, #1)The Pledge by Kimberly Derting
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When I first heard about this book, I thought it sounded interesting. I love reading about different social classes in books, especially when said books have nice covers. However, this wasn't enough to make me want to read this. It wasn't until I heard about Essence, the second book in the Pledge series, that I decided to check it out.

I guess you could say that I’m impressionable when I see a gorgeous covers.

The Good:

A world where Queens rule and social statuses are divided by the languages you speak is a fantastic idea for a story. And for the most part, I felt like Derting did a really great job execution this. That being said, if you’re expecting a lot of details surrounding the social classes, then stop expecting it...because it doesn't happen. The book is mostly about finding the next Queen. The present Queen wants to find the potential heir so she can bring the girl to her side, while the rebels want the potential heir to take over and bring hope to the people.

In terms of the characters, I think my favourite ones would be Brook, Angelina, and the Queen. Brook was smart, but also had some vulnerability to her and I think Derting only touched the surface of what this character could do to the story. I feel kind of the same way with Angelina, only because what we know about her powers. She seems a lot more powerful than Charlie. And smarter too. A lot smarter. So I liked her.

The Queen, however, was my standout favourite. I know, I know, it doesn’t make much sense considering the fact that she was a typical villain without much depth to her. But I liked her. She’s ruthless and petty and doesn’t care who knows it. The fact that she has a rule in place that you’ll be sent to the gallows if you look in the eye of someone of a higher rank while they are speaking their language is messed up. It was also enough for me to want to see more from her. You have to be pretty senile to push that kind of law. And by golly, senile is what she is. I loved it. The way the Queen maintains her power reminded me of the manhwa Witch Hunter, so I enjoyed that aspect of her as well.

The story, for the most part, is told in Charlie’s viewpoint, but sometimes we’ll get snippets here and there of what is happening with other characters like the Queen. I liked this, only because there were times when I’d start to get bored with Charlie and then bam, another character would start to talk about what’s happening with them. I do wish we got to have a chapter or two dedicated to Brook and Aron, but maybe they’ll be showcased more in the next book.

Another thing I liked was how the romance wasn’t as over done as I originally thought it would be. This is a YA novel in a dystopian world, so you know going into it that there will be romance with a hot guy. It’s expected. So I was afraid that the story might shift into lovey dovey territory instead of the main story about the Queen. Instead, the romance was enough to establish a connection between Max and Charlie, but not too much that it overpowered everything else. [The fact that she still refused the Queen’s advancements, despite seeing what happened to Max spoke volumes. She loves the guy, but he wasn’t enough to make her listen to the Queen. I’ve read books where this would have been enough, so I was glad that this wasn’t the case here. (hide spoiler)]

The Okay:

Sydney becoming an ally did make sense, but I wish there was more to this. She went from being a bully to being someone Charlie could trust. Like I said before, it does make sense considering her circumstance, but I kind of wanted to see more dialogue between the two girls.

The friendship of Charlie, Brook, and Aron wasn’t as fleshed out as I would have liked. Aron was pushed to the back-burner, even though it seemed like he was going to be the ‘I love my best friend’ type of character. He promises to always be there for Charlie, only he’s hardly in the book and you kind of forget about him. It’s kind of sad. Poor Aron. I really hope you don’t end up in a love triangle.

With Charlie and Brook, it kind of felt like there was a lot more brewing there and nothing happened with it. There was a scene when Charlie said that she felt sorry for Brook, because Max wasn’t paying attention. It kind of seemed like even though Charlie loves Brook like a sister, she does kind of look down on her. Brook was the hotter friend and one that gets all the attention from the guys, so you’d imagine that Charlie would feel some sort of complex over this, especially since Brook relishes in the attention while Charlie doesn’t. On the other hand, Brook seemed to have a lot of secrets of her own and was dealing with some other issues as well. I mentioned earlier that there is a vulnerability there that kind of goes over Charlie's head.

I dunno, it just felt like there could have been a lot more ‘drama’, for lack of a better word, when it came to their friendship.

The Bad

I liked a lot of things in the book. The writing is good, the romance doesn’t take over the story, and the characters, for the most part, are enjoyable. The only downside is everything is very predictable. As a reader, you’ll easily figure out who Charlie really is and why everyone wants her so badly. You’ll figure out who Max and Xander are and you’ll also realize why Brook does the stuff that she does.

It’s predictable. It’s also cliché in the sense that Charlie is the chosen one. Of course she is. And of course the hero, Max, only has eyes for her even though Brook is the better looking one. Of course. Of course. Of course.

Normally, this would bother me a lot. And I mean a lot. Yet, I didn’t really mind it here. I wanted to go for the ride and not care because I did enjoy the story. Plus, the ending made me want to read Essence, so I didn’t mind it too much. That being said, I have a feeling that Essence will be a lot better than the Pledge. This book seemed like a stepping stone for what’s to come.


I’m glad I read this. Even though it was predictable and did feel like everything that happened was a stepping stone for what’s to come, the writing, the characters, the story was enough to keep me interested. I liked the book. It could be mixture of my desire to read Essence and my love of pretty covers, but even still I liked the book. Now I just have to wait a month to see what happens next.

Please no love triangle, please no love triangle, please no love triangle.

4 stars

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Review: Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

Shatter Me (Shatter Me, #1)Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

To be honest, when I first heard about this book I didn't really know if it was something for me. I also don't really like for the cover all that much. But then I found out that the author is a fellow hijabi, so I got the book and read it.

This is under dystopia, but I don't think you can really call it that. We never really see the outside world, so we really don't get to experience that aspect of the story. If I had to call it something, I guess it would be more of a supernatural, but not really, superhero, kind of at the end, romance, the hot and heavy, kind of book. Yea. That’s it. I’ll go with that.

The Good:

I think the writing will be a hit or miss thing with a lot of readers. I'm not a fan of present tense or overly pretty prose, but somehow how I liked it here. I think Mafi has a talent and I hope she continues to write more books. Hopefully, she calms down a bit with the metaphors, but it was good. I think the only reason why it works is because of the main character. Someone who is always by herself and reads a lot, might read this way.

Warner, I know that there is already a Team Adam and Team Warner thing, wow do I really hate those, but I liked him. As a villain. I already saw some of the spoilers for the next book, so I know there’s going to be a love triangle, but I’m going to hope that Warner continues doing him and doesn’t join in this whole love madness stuff. His love for Juliette isn’t real love, but an obsession to make himself more powerful. He’s stupid, but definitely a lot more interesting than everyone else in the novel.

The Okay:

While I didn’t mind the romance, it did feel kind of shallow. We’re told that Adam and Juliette liked each other as kids and stuff, but now that they’re older all, all that Juliette can think of is how hot Adam is. I kind of wish they had more meaningful conversations about where they are. Sure they kiss a lot, but I would think that couples do more than that. I mean, when they said, “I love you,” to one another, I kind of didn’t buy it. Actually no, with Juliette I bought it. The fact that Adam was a childhood friend and he can touch her would definitely make her love him.

But Adam? I never understood why he felt the way he did. Yes, she did a lot of nice things and was misunderstood as a kid, but how did that feeling of admiration turn into love? Especially over three years of not seeing each other? How did that feeling make Adam join the Reestablishment?

You know, I think it’s actually an interesting point. Why did Adam join the Reestablishment? Because of Juliette? Come on now that doesn’t make sense. Plus the amount of planning and dedication to join the ranks just for a girl that you use to know? I have a heart too, I had crushes back in my heyday, but I wouldn’t join the army just to go find them. Especially an army that is apparently craycray enough to take every book ever written and destroy it. I also would get tattoos either. Perhaps Adam has a different side to him. Perhaps, he’s actually really okay with the Reestablishment and thinks they’re right?

I just wrote that I didn’t like him and now I’m not too sure. In any case, his love for Juliette doesn’t make sense.

When it came to Juliette’s powers, I was confused. I get that it’s like Rogue (who incidentally is my favourite character in X-Men), but she can’t touch people and she has super strength. The only two people who can touch her are Adam and Warner. I’m confused about her powers and I’m also confused if the power of love is the reason why she can be touched.

The plot was different than what I expected. I loved the beginning with Juliette in the asylum. I thought the ending was interesting with the superhero sort of angle, but everything in between didn’t really make much sense. Juliette gets captured and instead of find out more of the Reestablishment, we get a mishmash of dinners, dress choosing, romance, and angst. Perhaps if Juliette saw how the people were being treated by the Reestablishment, she’d be more against it. But it seems like she just doesn’t like Warner, so she’s against him and not the system. In fact, I don’t really understand the Reestablishment’s role here. We’re told that they want to get rid of all the books and start from scratch, but why didn’t we see any of that?

I kind of wish that was explained a bit more. The middle did seem all over the place.

The Bad:

I don’t really like Adam. He’s too perfect and doesn’t have a lot of flaws. Wow..that sounds bad, I didn’t mean it like that. But I do want him to have some sort of depth to him, because there isn’t really much to go on from what I read. He’s hot. That’s the only thing established. Oh and he has a younger brother. Okay.

And that’s it.

I want him to feel real and not the perfect boy for the main character type of character. This seems to be common with a lot of YA novels though, so I suppose this is normal. ** after thinking it over and writing some things above, I’m viewing him differently. Maybe there is some depth to him. Still, this wasn’t really eluded in the book and is just me over thinking things so we’ll just have to wait and see.

I also don’t like that Juliette has a reverse harem in the book. She’s been starving for weeks, doesn’t eat much, and two of the guys love her and one thinks she’s gorgeous. Bleh.

I think the biggest thing I had a problem with is the lack of awareness Juliette had. If someone didn't speak for a long time, they'd have trouble picking it up again. Also, she's been in the asylum for years, during that time many things changed in the world. The only thing we see that changed is the microwave and even then that was in passing. Juliette noticed a lot of things in the asylum, but not when she was outside of it.


I think there is potential for a great series here and Mafi can write well, but there are also a lot of cliches as well. You have the perfect guy, lead character is too beautiful without knowing it, and the dreaded love triangle. (I really hope this doesn't happen in the next book.) *sigh*

I’ll still probably read the next book to see if some of my questions get answered. Hopefully, we get to find out more about the world that Mafi created.

So while I think this book does have problems, I'm still interested in seeing what will happen next.

3 stars