Monday, January 10, 2011

YA Book Reviews and Recommendations

I've read my first two YA books of the year, with at least 3 more on the way in the next month or two. I've been waiting to read the following two for a couple months now as they have been on order for my local public library and/or I've just been too busy with school to read them.  Included below are the reviews for those books. I rate them on a scale of 1-5 stars. I would also like to include reviews for the first 3 books of The Chronicles of Narnia, which are in my 7-volume book.

C.S. Lewis The Chronicles of Narnia (The Magician's Nephew, The Lion The Witch and The Wardrobe, and The Horse and His Boy)

I read the books in the order that they are according to C.S. Lewis's suggestion, so the The Magician's Nephew is first. It reminded me of L. Frank Baum's stories a bit; Diggory and his neighbor Polly find out that Diggory's uncle is a Magician of sorts who has magical rings to take you to other lands. They come upon a magical wood while wearing the rings and meet the Witch (Empress Jadis) and she forces them to go back to England so she can take over their world like she did hers. Polly and Diggory manage to get the Witch and Diggory's Uncle into the magical woods and then end up in Narnia as it is being formed by Aslan. Essentially a son of Adam has brought the witch into the world and must help to get her out, which Diggory sort of does by bringing a magic apple to Aslan which he plants and is supposed to protect Narnia. As you've probably guessed by now, the Witch will later become the White Witch, who is in the next book "The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe." The interesting part is that the Diggory is the professor who houses Lucy, Peter, Susan and Edmund and that other magical apple that he brought back for his mother (so she could be healed from a horrible illness) is planted in his aunt's back garden and when it falls down, he uses the wood to make the wardrobe that Lucy first discovers to get into Narnia. I thought that was an interesting twist and why the books should be read in this order. 5 stars.

I had never actually read "The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe" until now, though I had grown up with the 1970s BBC cartoon. The story is magical and if you combine the cartoon with the recent Disney movie, you pretty much have the story, although reading it is so much better than watching it. 4 stars.

"The Horse and His Boy" was the next book in the series, and this one I liked the least. It was kind of like Oz meets the Arabian Nights, but also incredibly long-winded. It just isn't as well-written as the other two books in the series. The addition of Aslan almost seems like an afterthought. It is set during the reign of the 4 High Kings and Queens of Cair Paravel. The book is the story of a young boy named Shasta who lives in a fishing village in the South (which is basically supposed to be an Arabic country), who discovers that his father isn't really his father and that he most likely is a Northerner because of his blond hair. So he and a talking horse he discovers named Bree decide to set off on a journey to Narnia, far to the north. Along the way, they meet Aravis, a nobleman's daughter and her horse Hwin, who is also a talking horse. In the capital city of the South, Shasta runs into the royal Narnians, King Edmund and Queen Susan, who is being offered in marriage to the Southerner's prince Rabadash, but who she does not want to marry. They escape and it is from them that Shasta learns the secret way into Archenland, the kingdom just south of Narnia. Aravis, meanwhile, learns that Prince Rabadash is mad at the Narnians escape and wants to capture them and force Queen Susan into marriage. Will Shasta get to Archenland in time to warn the king? Will they ever make it to Narnia? 3 stars.

Mary Hoffman's Stravaganza: City of Ships
The only thing I was annoyed with in this book was the fact that they promised a wedding between Arianna and Luciano in the last book and it still hasn't happened at the end of this book, although there was another wedding. I love this series, but I'm not sure how much more the author can drag it out, apparently for at least one more book. That being said, I loved the story.

This book was about Isabel, a twin who is ignored by her twin brother and most of the rest of people in general. She always feels second best, and as those who read the Stravaganti series now, the talismans always pick troubled teens. Isabel is interested in art, specifically mosaics and ends up in Talia's version of Ravenna called Classe. She quickly discovers the other Stravaganti teens at her school and soon they are working together to figure out why she has been called there. She is supposed to save the Talian cities of Classe and Belleza from the dreaded Gate people (who seem to be Eastern European/Arabic). The ending battle was spectacular and I loved the interactions between Isabel and the Talians/other Stravaganti. 

Cassandra Clare's Clockwork Angel: The Infernal Devices Book 1
 Good first book to the series, but so slow to get into the storyline. As others have said, it is very similar to Mortal Instruments series (see Josie's Goodreads review from March 23, 2010 for more info: "I enjoyed this a lot, but there were things that were too similar to the MI series to make it completely original. For instance: the beautiful, wise-cracking shadow-hunter the protagonist falls in love with pretty much straight away; the three shadow-hunter teenagers (two boys, one girl) living at the institute; the love triangle ; the female protagonist who thinks she's merely 'ok' to look at, yet has two Adonis-like males in love with her who think she's beautiful.") Despite that, I liked the book and was fascinated by Tessa's ability and wished they would've shared more information in this book about her background. No doubt they will in the next two books. The ending was a big cliffhanger as it took me forever to figure out who was actually the bad guy and also what Will is going to seek Magnus Bane's help for, for Jem or for Tessa or something else entirely? Very excited to read the next book!

1 comment:

  1. Thank you, I think!

    I'm not sure about "dragging the series out"; there was always going to be a sixth book, City of Swords, which I am about to write. (Out next year).

    I'm sure you'll agree that there is more to the sequence than waiting for Luciano and Arianna to get married - at least I hope there is!

    I'm glad you enjoyed the other aspects of the book.