Children of Eden by Joey Graceffa

Children of Eden (Children of Eden, #1)Children of Eden by Joey Graceffa
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

In the beginning, I thought this showed promised, but now that I’ve finished, I don’t believe I will continue the series.

Before I try to explain why, if you are interested in this book, I strongly suggest you DO NOT listen to the audiobook. Choose print instead, because two of the main side characters have almost the same name (Loch vs. Lark—could be spelling both wrong). At first, these characters have separate storylines, but once they run together, the similar pronunciation becomes very confusing.

To make matters worse, the MC has no consistency with Loch and half the time calls him Lochlan, making it further confusing…because one second he’s Lochlan, and the next time she says Loch, Then, I’m not sure if she actually said Loch, or if she meant Lark. Let me stress that this is no fault of the narrator, who does a good job reading. She was just saddle with two incredibly similar names and an inconsistent text, which made her job more difficult.

Now that is off my chest, this is a standard illegal second child in an artificial world because earth has been destroyed story. Both of those are extremely common tropes, but since I typically find them interesting, that wasn’t a huge problem. It obviously means you shouldn’t expect a lot of originality in the storyline, but unfortunately, you’re also not going to get much originality and growth with the characters in this novel.

The writing is not awful but also not great. There is less showing and more telling than I prefer, but it’s okay. The action scenes never inspire much emotion in me at all, and it feels like I saw everything coming from a mile away. I honestly think it’s more about how they’ve been written than that they aren’t interesting scenes.

As for the rest:

The plot –meh. Nothing new here or all that exciting. Still, I would be totally fine with a cookie cutter plot as long as it was well-executed. I can forgive a lot for good execution and emotional investment, which I just didn’t have with this storyline, particularly in the last half of the novel.

The characters — started out okay but did not develop well. Most of them became less interesting to me as the story progressed, which was really disappointing, as I was quite interested in them to start. This is part of the reason I won’t continue the series. The side characters start to feel like caricatures of the expected YA sidekicks. The adult characters, in particular, lack depth. Either that, or it’s just how the MC views them…which means the MC lacks perspective. Either way, it bothers me.

The world — definitely interesting, but also nothing really new here. The world building could be better for me. It’s not terrible, but I don’t really have any desire to visit or live inside this world, which is the case with most novels that I love (even when the worlds are dreadful).

The Sci-Fi elements: definitely not going to wow a sci-fi nerd.

That being said, I obviously like something about this novel, because I read it pretty fast. I think that there were just too many things that characters did that seemed unbelievable or untrue to themselves and their world that it pushed me to disconnect from the story.

For example SPOILERS REMOVED.

While reviewing, I have realized that there’s actually quite a bit about this story that doesn’t sit that well for me. I think I’ll stick with 3 stars, but I may be leaning towards more of a 2.75 in my mind now.

Pages: 278

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Frostblood by Elly Blake

Frostblood (Frostblood Saga, #1)Frostblood by Elly Blake
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a good YA fantasy, and I can be a bit of a harsh critic, since I have read so many stories in this category. It’s technically a 4.25 for me, and there were moments in the story when I would have given this a 5, and others when I leaned towards 3.75.

The magic system is fascinating, and I like the slow growth on the romance front. This story does follow the expected path for YA fantasy, and I could have used just a bit more of the unexpected with this one to give it a 5. The villain was pretty fierce, but if it had been turned up just one more notch, that would have really caught my attention.

Regardless, I still like this a lot. The characters are strong. The world building is pretty good but could be even stronger. I’m hoping the world building runs even deeper in book 2. A lot of this book follows the path for an epic myth quest (also called a hero’s journey, but we called it epic myth quest in college, so I persist), which is a standard fantasy trope that I actually enjoy.

Some people complain when they see recurring trends in storylines between novels in the same genre. Not me. I expect that, and as long as the story is fascinating and well-written, I’m still happy. I would read a thousand different version of an epic myth quest (and probably already have), as long as there’s strong voice, solid world building, well-developed characters, unique magic systems, good writing, and decent plotting. This is a good story, with all of the above, and I have a feeling this might be one of those series where the second book really advances the world and turns out even better than the first book. I can’t wait to read it and find out if that’s true.

Pages: 376

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Defy the Stars by Claudia Gray

Defy the Stars (Constellation, #1)Defy the Stars by Claudia Gray
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wow! I absolutely loved this YA space Sci-Fi. This story is exciting, fast-paced, and it has a well developed world–no–universe, that’s embroiled in interstellar war. The storyline includes visits to several interesting planets, all with unique side characters.

The story is told from 2 POVs. One is a human girl, Noemi, a flyer sworn to protect her low-tech planet of Genesis by sacrificing her own life for the good of all. The other is a mech boy (artificial intelligence), created by a brilliant earthling. The mech has been stranded in space for 30 years, due to an unexpected chain of events. I won’t say more, because spoilers, but the story is captivating from the first moment.

The audiobook is fantastic, with 2 readers, one for each POV.

Pages: 503

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Our Dark Duet by Victoria Schwab

Our Dark Duet (Monsters of Verity, #2)Our Dark Duet by Victoria Schwab
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The world and concept are so unique in this 2nd book of a YA monster-filled duology.

It explores the very concept of what humanity is and whether or not those traits are inherent to only humans, or just higher lifeforms in general. There’s also a brand new monster that is rather chilling in the way it feeds on humans.

For me, the story did drag on a bit at times, and I could have used a bit more compelling forward motion. The characters are indeed fascinating, both monsters and humans alike, but I haven’t found my groove with V.E. Schwab yet. She has some of the most fascinating concepts and brilliant worlds ever, but I’m unable to fully immerse myself into the stories for some reason. I can’t seem to let everything go and just exist insider her stories and worlds the way I want to, and I’m not sure why. I think it is probably something unique to me. So far, I have read all of her books by audiobook, so perhaps I need to try her out in print, in case that makes any difference…give myself a bit more time and head space to take the stories in at my own rate.

Overall, it’s a solid read with a satisfying and realistic ending.

Pages: 510

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