City of Bones by Cassandra Clare
I’ve been meaning to read this series for forever. But, unfortunately, I’m going to make many people, including my best friend, unhappy with this mini-review. The book was okay. The basic synopsis is that when Clary’s mother is kidnapped and Clary begins to see magical things in modern day NYC, she learns she is part Shadowhunter (killer of demons) is taken under the wing by Jace and his friends. They discover that Clary’s mom is a pawn in a larger plot of evil Valentine which would lead to the downfall of the Shadowhunters and chaos in the world. I found the plot predictable and the world building relying very heavily on Harry Potter (mundanes=Muggles; both bad guys want to purify their race). The writing was subpar and way too full of metaphors. Even the cover was a negative; with a metallic half-naked chest of a boy on the front it looks like a romance novel and I was embarrassed to read it on the subway. All that being said, I bought the whole series cheaply in paperback and I really do want to read the sequel series, which starts with Clockwork Angel and is set in Victorian London.
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
I can’t believe how long it’s taken me to read this book. It’s a creepy middle grade novel that definitely pushes the boundaries. Set in Highgate Cemetery, London (a fantastic spot), Bod is raised by protective ghosts because “Jack” killed his family and is after him, too. All the ghost characters are just fabulous and it’s great how they cover a wide range of time periods (all being buried in the cemetery at different times). I found the story a bit too episodic, but it would make a great read aloud, and everything comes together nicely in the end.
Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson
I was so excited to read this fantasy—not only is it great when one of my favorite but slightly-under-the-radar-genres gets good buzz, but it’s also a great comparative title for my own WIP! The basic plot is that Elisa is a Godstone bearer: the literally has a jewel in her navel that was placed there by God, and that means she is destined for greatness. She just doesn’t know what her place really is. A friend who had read the book before me thought the beginning was slow; I disagreed until I got to the second third of the novel and all of sudden it was fast and action-packed, making the beginning slow by comparison. And although there were a few too many characters that popped in and out of the manuscript (with hard-to-remember names), this novel overall is a great addition to the fantasy genre. The desert setting reminded me of The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley and anyone who loves Tamora Pierce or Kristin Cashore should check this out. A recommended read.
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
Again, I had heard really great things about this book, a really creative teen novel that used unique vintage photographs to inspire and form the narrative. In the novel the pictures belong to Jacob’s grandfather, who tells tales about his childhood. Killed shortly after the novel begins, Jacob begins to believe that his grandfather is telling the truth and goes to Wales to visit Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, where his grandfather spend his teenage years before World War II. Through a complicated series of events, Jacob learns that everything his grandfather said was true, and that he, along with the other children, are ‘peculiar’: they have special talents that makes them targets both in the human and nonhuman world. Overall, I wasn’t as impressed by this book as I had hoped to be. The photos were fantastic finds, the novel itself was creative, and the book is printed high quality. But I wished we knew more about Jacob’s grandfather before he died and Jacob’s romance with Emma, his grandfather’s girlfriend when he was a teen, is awkward and borderline creepy.
Full Manuscripts: 8