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BOOK REVIEW: Warcross by Marie Lu (Warcross #1)

BOOK REVIEW: Warcross by Marie Lu (Warcross #1)by Marie Lu
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Marie Lu—when a game called Warcross takes the world by storm, one girl hacks her way into its dangerous depths.

For the millions who log in every day, Warcross isn’t just a game—it’s a way of life. The obsession started ten years ago and its fan base now spans the globe, some eager to escape from reality and others hoping to make a profit. Struggling to make ends meet, teenage hacker Emika Chen works as a bounty hunter, tracking down players who bet on the game illegally. But the bounty hunting world is a competitive one, and survival has not been easy. Needing to make some quick cash, Emika takes a risk and hacks into the opening game of the international Warcross Championships—only to accidentally glitch herself into the action and become an overnight sensation.

Convinced she’s going to be arrested, Emika is shocked when instead she gets a call from the game’s creator, the elusive young billionaire Hideo Tanaka, with an irresistible offer. He needs a spy on the inside of this year’s tournament in order to uncover a security problem . . . and he wants Emika for the job. With no time to lose, Emika’s whisked off to Tokyo and thrust into a world of fame and fortune that she’s only dreamed of. But soon her investigation uncovers a sinister plot, with major consequences for the entire Warcross empire.

In this sci-fi thriller, #1 New York Times bestselling author Marie Lu conjures an immersive, exhilarating world where choosing who to trust may be the biggest gamble of all.

Oh man. Marie Lu KILLED it. This was phenomenal, and easily one of my favorite books of 2017.

I don’t even want to say much about the plot (hah if you know me, I normally like to go into books blind anyway). I’ll just say this – Emika is a kick ass heroine struggling to survive in a world where digital reigns. But she does something unexpected, which leads to a domino of events that land her in a crazy cool situation with the maker of Warcross.

Thats it. That’s all you get.

Hah okay but seriously… I am not a huge sci fi/futuristic/dystopian (not sure if this is actually dystopian though) fan. I’m a fantasy reader, point blank period. However, I LOVED Ready Player One, mostly because I played World of Warcraft for years when I was in college (heyo to my gamer friends.) And if you’ve read Ready Player One, you know its the perfect balance between fun references to crazy intense plot line, and it appeals to an audience beyond the themes it references. It was a freaking great story.

The same can be said about this.

Right now, my husband is actually reading my ARC of this and loving it. Like when we read Ready Player One together, he’s constantly nudging me and freaking out because Marie Lu knows her stuff. (Oh my gosh there’s a certain reference to WoW that had me actually screaming.)

But even if you have no gamer knowledge or you’re intimidated by books like this – trust me, don’t pre judge it. The story is damn fun and full of feels. Marie Lu has a way of sucking you into her characters, and her writing is so easy to follow. Not to mention, this is one of the coolest worlds I’ve read about, and Emika is so thoroughly developed in the beginning of the book that you’re instantly drawn to her and rooting for her hardcore.

You guys, I enjoyed EVERY. SINGLE. PAGE. The whole book is so well written and holy crap, I think I jumped out of my bed a few times. Oh man. I wish I could say more, but there are some FUN plot twists. I guessed a few, but oh Marie Lu got me in the end. But try not to go in with expectations. Just get pulled along with the plot and have fun.

AND HOLY CRAP SLDFKJ:SLKFDJ BOOK TWO AHHHH I NEED IT NOWWWW. That set up… ermergershalkdjfal;skdfj.

***

Initial pre-review:

If you like Ready Player one, read this book.
If you didn’t like Ready Player one, read this book.
If you read only fantasy(like me), trust me, take a break from it and read this book.
If you liked this book, read Ready Player one (once the trauma wears down.) And then come off the high of RP1 and read this book.

Basically read this book.

The Rose Society (The Young Elites #2) by Marie Lu

The Rose Society (The Young Elites #2) by Marie LuThe Rose Society (The Young Elites #2)
by Marie Lu
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

Once upon a time, a girl had a father, a prince, a society of friends. Then they betrayed her, and she destroyed them all.

Adelina Amouteru’s heart has suffered at the hands of both family and friends, turning her down the bitter path of revenge. Now known and feared as the White Wolf, she flees Kenettra with her sister to find other Young Elites in the hopes of building her own army of allies. Her goal: to strike down the Inquisition Axis, the white-cloaked soldiers who nearly killed her.

But Adelina is no heroine. Her powers, fed only by fear and hate, have started to grow beyond her control. She does not trust her newfound Elite friends. Teren Santoro, leader of the Inquisition, wants her dead. And her former friends, Raffaele and the Dagger Society, want to stop her thirst for vengeance. Adelina struggles to cling to the good within her. But how can someone be good when her very existence depends on darkness?

Bestselling author Marie Lu delivers another heart-pounding adventure in this exhilarating sequel to The Young Elites.

What indeed.

 I AM SPEECHLESS. If there’s something I didn’t expect, it was to meet a female-lead who could equal Jorg of Ancrath‘s dark ambition.

Saying that I didn’t have great expectations before starting The Rose Society would be an understatement. Indeed I was part of the (very) few who weren’t convinced by The Young Elites, mostly because I felt that what I read wasn’t what I’ve been sold : I found the first installment boring, tame, in a word : disappointing. That’s why I’m glad to tell you that none of my complaints are still relevant.

The pacing improved grandly : This sequel is an exciting journey whose pacing never wavers, letting you on the edge of your seat all the way. Although Marie Lu chose to write her story in several POV (which can be a no-no for me, if not handled well), there was NEVER a moment when I wasn’t hooked and eager to know what would happen next. No more useless and boring parts : the story was highly compelling through and through.

What a formidable tale of ambition and revenge. Gah. Jorg would be so proud. While the first book only set the (needed, I realize) foundations of Adelina’s story, I didn’t care for the romance there (I know, I know, I’m such in a minority on this, but Enzo is flat in my opinion) View Spoiler » and her relationship with Enzo didn’t make much sense to me. Great news! The plot finally focuses on her ascension and no matter how painful some steps were (I sure don’t condone all her actions), the events taking place brought so many raw feelings that I can’t find in me to complain. Granted, the world-building is still a little sketchy, and there were inconsistencies in some parts, but Marie Lu managed to make them believable. (Please don’t make Magiano suffer too much, though) (I have a soft spot for LOVE this little thief)

➌ Truth is, what can be annoying is also great : this is my second book by Marie Lu, and I can safely say that I don’t get her – I can’t wrap my head around the direction she takes her stories, and it used to make me lose patience in The Young Elites, especially during the boring middle. But. Here it definitely played in her favor, because I could never predict what would happen (I still can’t). Also, the twists were brilliant. Of course I loved that (I’m worried, though) (I did read Emperor of Thorns, you know).

Adelina is a true villain in training : When my boyfriend asked me why I was so happy with Adelina and her Elites (why yes – clapping might have been involved at some point), I told him, “because they’re no good”. He raised his eyebrows (a little worried, I think), not sure of what to make of my answer (I swear, I’m a nice woman – most of the time). Really, though? I genuinely think that my fascination for unusual and darker characters lies in the large number of books I read. See, had I read 10 books in my whole life, hell, had I read 10 YA Fantasy series in my whole life, even, I would probably not seek this kind of characters out (or maybe – I’ll guess we’ll never know *smiles slowly*). But there’s only so many farmer boys soon-to-be heroes I can take, and in this ocean of one-dimensional super-villains whose goals are often vague as fuck, I thrive on meeting multi-layered and dark characters who twist the tropey rules and make their owns.

After The Young Elites, I didn’t think that Adelina had it in her to become the free female-lead I wanted her to be. I was wrong.

*cackles with glee*

Yes she threatens my boundaries and her decisions make my skin crawl sometimes, but I get her, I really do. I’m not sure what that says about me, though.

Give me some sarcastic and unapologetic male-lead, pretty please : I loved Magiano (I can’t be the only one who roots for him, RIGHT?). Where Enzo’s passion seemed too similar to Adelina’s for me to really care, Magiano adds something different to the story, and if I’m not sure I understand all his reactions yet, he is endearing, mischievous, and he makes me laugh.

[creepy interlude]

Let it be known that his smile brightened my day and that I would defend him like a wolf.

Do. Not. Touch. Magiano. OKAY?

[/creepy interlude]

➌ Every one of these characters – Sergio, Teren, Violetta, Maeve, Raphaele – are fleshed-out, complex, and interesting to follow. None of them is wasted or one-dimensional.

► I closed The Rose Society out of breath, worried as hell and intensely satisfied by the daring direction Marie Lu took. What a great surprise really.

BOOK REVIEW – The Young Elites (The Young Elites #1) by Marie Lu

BOOK REVIEW – The Young Elites (The Young Elites #1) by Marie LuThe Young Elites (The Young Elites #1)
by Marie Lu
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

I am tired of being used, hurt, and cast aside.

Adelina Amouteru is a survivor of the blood fever. A decade ago, the deadly illness swept through her nation. Most of the infected perished, while many of the children who survived were left with strange markings. Adelina’s black hair turned silver, her lashes went pale, and now she has only a jagged scar where her left eye once was. Her cruel father believes she is a malfetto, an abomination, ruining their family’s good name and standing in the way of their fortune. But some of the fever’s survivors are rumored to possess more than just scars—they are believed to have mysterious and powerful gifts, and though their identities remain secret, they have come to be called the Young Elites.

Teren Santoro works for the king. As Leader of the Inquisition Axis, it is his job to seek out the Young Elites, to destroy them before they destroy the nation. He believes the Young Elites to be dangerous and vengeful, but it’s Teren who may possess the darkest secret of all.

Enzo Valenciano is a member of the Dagger Society. This secret sect of Young Elites seeks out others like them before the Inquisition Axis can. But when the Daggers find Adelina, they discover someone with powers like they’ve never seen.

Adelina wants to believe Enzo is on her side, and that Teren is the true enemy. But the lives of these three will collide in unexpected ways, as each fights a very different and personal battle. But of one thing they are all certain: Adelina has abilities that shouldn’t belong in this world. A vengeful blackness in her heart. And a desire to destroy all who dare to cross her.

It is my turn to use. My turn to hurt.


Hey YOU! BOOK! You pretended to be right up my alley! You said I will love you! You said you were dark and captivating!

The truth is, after getting off to a flying start, the tension loosened more and more, making the next 300 pages a real core to read for me. When I first met Adelina, I was ecstatic : because of the darkness that seemed to lie in her heart, she appeared to be the kind of morally ambiguous character I could root for.

Too bad the whole book turned out to be completely anticlimactic : I. WAS. BORED.

I don’t like Mari Lu’s writing : I wouldn’t be able to point what was wrong, exactly, but I kept feeling that something wasn’t quite right with it. Frankly, I think that the present tense throws me off guard. And her sentences seemed… weird to me sometimes, bugging me so much that I had to reread them. It didn’t flow smoothly. Not in my opinion anyway.

✘ Let’s forget the fact that there’s barely any world-building, except a re-creation of the Renaissance Italy with the black plague as an explication to the Young Elites new powers. Frankly, I’m okay with authors using real settings to create their fantasy world (take Mark Lawrence for example, whose Broken Empire is nothing more than Europe after an atomic war). However, if Mark Lawrence plays with this real background, letting the reader know where his inspiration lies, Mari Lu merely uses entire settings without never acknowledging what she borrowed. Changing names isn’t enough. Is it high fantasy? No. It’s alternate history with fantastic elements.

The pacing was uneven a big fail : after a strong beginning which put my feelings all over the place, nothing really happens during several chapters…. until we start a new cycle again : an amazing scene and then boring pages during which I don’t really know what to think. Like, the consort pages. What’s the point?

While I desperately wanted to feel something, to feel captivated, I was drowned in descriptions of clothes and other useless details. For real, how many times do I have to read the word velvet? Huh? Take Gabriele for example. I don’t need to know everything he’s wearing every day. Call me shallow, but I don’t care.

This book is… putdownable. Is that a thing? (apparently, no, but I’ll make it a thing, because I can) Indeed I kept feeling distracted during my read and before I could think more about it I was doing something else entirely (laundry, watching TV, just name it). As far as my investment in the story is concerned, it’s a big huge fail for me.

✘ But my biggest disappointment is Adelina. I expected dark. I expected complex. That’s absolutely not what I got. Let’s get this straight : I love antiheroes. I have no problem to adore characters who are complete little shit and who embrace evil as a living. I crave them, for crying out loud, because good (haha) antiheroes are rare and complicated to create : how to make the readers root for a character whose actions disgust and disturb them? I have no clue, but when it’s well-done, it’s amazing. Adelina… wasn’t quite like that. She is NOT an antihero but spends her time whining about events that aren’t even her fault. Okay, okaaaay, she thinks about killing people and keeps telling us that there’s a darkness inside her but frankly? BRING IT, GIRL. Stop whining and show me that there’s more to you than your internal confusion. I was ready to accept EVERYTHING from her : jealousy, selfishness, murder instincts, betrayal, everything. What I got is a lot of TELLING but not near enough SHOWING to make me care about her. I didn’t.

And you know what happens when I don’t care about the characters?

It becomes a core to finish.

I didn’t feel anything towards Enzo as well except during his first apparition (what? I’m an Assassin’s Creed whore and my eyes sparkle at the mention of daggers, don’t mind me).

✘ To be frank, during most of the book I got the impression that the characters were… wandering… to go…. somewhere… I think… It lacked directions and the plot was almost non-existent, except for the betrayal trope I see in every Fantasy YA book I read these days. Look, it was a trope I used to love, and I still do, when it’s executed properly, when it’s more than an easy way to bring angst in a story. Sadly, in my opinion it belonged to the second category : I simply COULDN’T FEEL Adelina’s struggles. Oh, she tells us. Well, she tells us a lot of things. But to me neither Teren nor Violetta felt like real characters, therefore I was never moved by this situation. Heavy sigh.

The ending, though? It was good. It was everything I wanted from the book. It came… too late. How am I supposed to savor epic scenes if I haven’t given a fuck about the characters for pages and pages? Why using most of the book as a set-up for a shocking ending? It feels just… cheap to me. A genuinely great ending won’t make me forget that I was bored to death during 300 pages. Nope. Sorry.

This book didn’t quite give me what it was telling me.

BOOK REVIEW: The Young Elites (The Young Elites #1) by Marie Lu

BOOK REVIEW: The Young Elites (The Young Elites #1) by Marie LuThe Young Elites (The Young Elites #1)
by Marie Lu
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

I am tired of being used, hurt, and cast aside.

Adelina Amouteru is a survivor of the blood fever. A decade ago, the deadly illness swept through her nation. Most of the infected perished, while many of the children who survived were left with strange markings. Adelina’s black hair turned silver, her lashes went pale, and now she has only a jagged scar where her left eye once was. Her cruel father believes she is a malfetto, an abomination, ruining their family’s good name and standing in the way of their fortune. But some of the fever’s survivors are rumored to possess more than just scars—they are believed to have mysterious and powerful gifts, and though their identities remain secret, they have come to be called the Young Elites.

Teren Santoro works for the king. As Leader of the Inquisition Axis, it is his job to seek out the Young Elites, to destroy them before they destroy the nation. He believes the Young Elites to be dangerous and vengeful, but it’s Teren who may possess the darkest secret of all.

Enzo Valenciano is a member of the Dagger Society. This secret sect of Young Elites seeks out others like them before the Inquisition Axis can. But when the Daggers find Adelina, they discover someone with powers like they’ve never seen.

Adelina wants to believe Enzo is on her side, and that Teren is the true enemy. But the lives of these three will collide in unexpected ways, as each fights a very different and personal battle. But of one thing they are all certain: Adelina has abilities that shouldn’t belong in this world. A vengeful blackness in her heart. And a desire to destroy all who dare to cross her.

It is my turn to use. My turn to hurt.

 photo youngwin_zps7wdoc0tu.png
“Come out, demon.” His smile fades, replaced with a chilling blankness. “Come out, so we can play.”

 

 

I can’t breathe. I swear to God-I literally. Can’t. Breathe.


 photo tumblr_mz89fjNB4c1qcbki6o7_r1_250_zps9azmeuna.gif

I was in shock. I was in utter denial. I was half hyperventilating and half watching Friends (I mean, I have to calm down somehow, right?). The beginning and the end….they were truly something to behold. When I picked this book up, it felt right. Near the end, I was an absolute mess and completely engrossed in what could possibly become of these wonderfully flawed characters-And that is really saying something, because somewhere in the middle I had decided I didn’t care anymore-Go figure.

Who will ever want you, Adelina?
My fury heightens. Everyone. They will cower at my feet, and I will make them bleed.

I always say I won’t write a long review and then I proceed to write an even longer review. It’s one of my many curses gifts-The gift of gab. But, with so many mixed emotions, I feel it would be unfair-or rather, very hard on myself-to write a review on a book that I both loved and hated. Because I did-I loved and hated it. And I think that’s testament to this author-everyone adores Marie Lu. And as a person? I think she’s great. As a writer-So creative. But, somewhere along the lines, she always loses me in her books. It’s like, do you have a certain way you’d love things to go in your mind when you read? Especially dystopian or peril-ish type books? Well, I do, and most authors tend to either go exactly in the direction I want it to-but much better-or somewhere very close and very pleasing to me. But, with Marie Lu, she always…veers off. And I don’t know why. I never like the journeys her books take, but I generally always love the end result. I guess we will call that a matter of creative differences.

My sorrow turns to anger, then to ice-cold fury. My soul curls in on itself in defense. I am gone. I am truly gone.
I am not sorry.

The beginning. Strong. Haunting. Engrossing. It immediately draws you in and you’re like-Fuck yes, this is going to be epic. And the beginning is.

I struggle feebly against my chains. My legs are shaking violently. I want to hide my body from all of these people, hide my flaws from their curious eyes. Is Violetta somewhere in this crowd? I scan the faces for her, then look up toward the sky. It’s such a beautiful day-how can the sky possibly be this blue? Something wet rolls down my cheek. My lip quivers.
Gods, give me strength. I am so afraid.

We learn of a girl who is badly mistreated because of a genetic defect she can’t help, a genetic defect she acquired through no fault of her own when she was younger-it effected more than just her because of a plague or something. The kids effected by this plague are labeled malfettos….they are mistreated and deemed not fit to be a part of society. But there’s one strong male who is gathering malfettos-the best of the best. They are called the Young Elites….and he’s coming for Adelina. (By far one of my favorite scenes of book, second only to the end). Rating? 5/5.


 photo tumblr_lg4x5xL2jd1qbwcmwo1_500_zpsft6m67ww.gif

The Middle. I’m sorry, the middle just….ugh. It lost my interest. And it’s not because it wasn’t good-it was. It just….wasn’t for me. It gave me negative angst-not the good angst I crave and am sickeningly in love with. No, this angst had me losing sleep (not in the giddy, excited way) and worrying if Lu was going to ruin the end for me (yes, I’m very selfish like that)…and basically the middle was what I was speaking of earlier-It just wasn’t going where I wanted it to go. Boring and almost cause for DNF….which is never a thought in my mind. Rating? 2/5.


 photo tumblr_m7dqmfaETx1rtzlzf_zpsfhhwkzvm.gif

Enzo watches me silently. The lanterns on the courtyard wall outline his face in a halo of damp, golden light, and the beads of water glitter in the darkness. He is such a startlingly different beauty from Raffaele-dark, intense, wary, perhaps even menacing-but I see a softness in him, a stirring desire. Something mysterious flickers in his eyes.

The End. Can you really put this fucking epic end into words? Can you? I’m not so sure. Let’s just say-It’s my absolute favorite. Most-perilistically-pleasing. Sickening. Maddeningly perfect. Ending type ever. Ever. I got exactly what I normally want but…Marie Lu? You got some balls, girl. Because…


 photo tumblr_mrgodzExDQ1rk0vt4o3_500_zpsewszggry.gif

Rating? 10/5. I’m not happy about it, though.

It is my turn to use. My turn to hurt.
My turn
.

So, you know. I don’t know what to say. I hated it. I loved it. It was perfect. It had dumb parts. It was intense…but only in the beginning and not until the very end. I don’t know. I mean, are we all always so sure what works for us? Why something doesn’t click until we get precisely what we want? Is it fair? I never have a problem with authors playing things out as they please, but, I definitely am feeling a little harsh on this one. But, eh, I’ve always been fickle. Take what you want from this review-I have no clue what to say to anyone, anyway.

If you want a more thorough and well thought out review, check out Anna’s review. Thanks for joining, Bug!

BOOK REVIEW – Legend (Legend #1) by Marie Lu

BOOK REVIEW – Legend (Legend #1) by Marie LuLegend (Legend #1)
by Marie Lu
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

I’m not sure what I expected of Legend, but I certainly didn’t expect what I just read. This was a very interesting concept and I really enjoyed all the main characters. I think I finished more than half the book in one sitting, and that’s saying something. This is a hard review to write, because so much happened and I don’t want to write a review that flings spoilers everywhere.

I’ll start with Day. He is a wanted criminal by the Republic, and he is on the run for his past crimes. All throughout the book we see Day coming back to visit his family in the Lake sector, checking out for their well-being and continually fretting his mother or two brothers will have caught the plague that simultaneously pops up in the poorer sectors. When something goes wrong and a special red X is marked on his family’s door, Day’s whole world collapses-he would do anything for his family. One thing leads to another and Day becomes the prime suspect for the murder of a Republic Soldier.

In comes June. The only prodigy to ever receive a perfect score-1500/1500. It’s unheard of and makes her a special tool for future use by her oh-so-beloved Republic. Always begging her brother (and her mentor, since their parents died in a car accident) to let her tag along on missions, June and her brother have a very close relationship that not even little mishaps at school can deter. But, a special bond is severed when her brother is murdered on the streets one fateful night-the same night Day makes a move to get the medicine his family needs. And, coincidentally, the night Metias was going to talk to June about something of great importance.

The murder of Metias sets the whole book in motion, causing every trivial event that happens after to become of the utmost importance. Even something as simple as a hand gesture that has become habit could tip someone off. Everything matters. But, more than that, we start to see people’s true colors, even if the characters in the book don’t want to see them. This swings both ways-for the good and the bad. Not everyone is who they seem, and some people, are who they have always claimed to be.

The familial relationships in this book seemed to shine compared to the romantic aspect, in my opinion. Day and John’s relationship was admirable and heartwarming. June and Metias’s relationship was adorable and heartbreaking. The emotions evoked by these families were heavy ones, ranging from the slightest joy to the most overwhelming heartbreak. I can’t even begin to explain how much I adored these family ties-they were very powerful, and I don’t normally care all that much for families in a story.

I think the hardest thing for me to grasp onto was the world they live in. If you look at the beginning of my review, I have merely mentioned two different ways of living-Republic and the poor Lake sector. Even now as I try to explain the different sectors or parts of the ‘country’, I don’t know how to say it or what to say. I didn’t completely grasp every territory, and this is probably a large part in my confusion.

I liked the idea of Day and June being together, and while there were some cute moments, there wasn’t anything that evoked strong emotion out of me. I think that made me sad as well. I loved the story/storyline, but I didn’t completely feel the connection between the two. Oh, I know it’s there, but I didn’t feel a lot of passion like I had expected to. Normally I would have, but for some reason, I am just waiting for more between these two before I will be satisfied.

A very fun, entertaining read that I definitely killed in one day’s (haha) time. I am very anxious to start Prodigy, the next installment, because it seems to be a winner among the Legend fans. I also hear through the GR grapevine that I need to be prepared for a cliffhanger that tops all cliffhangers. Or maybe I read it was an ending that tops all crazy endings? I don’t know. I think I’m numb when it comes to cliffhangers, because I just keep reading books that will only make me squirm and plead for the next and final installment. I guess we will see what Prodigy brings and if I’ll survive another ending that is sure to destroy me further.

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