NOTE: I had to exercise severe restraint in order to prevent myself typing out the chorus from Let's Talk About Sex (by Salt N' Pepa, a classic from my youth) here, only tweaked so that it was Let's Talk About Books instead. In fact, I did type it out, but then I deleted it. That's how close it was. You're welcome.
I have been lucky enough to get my sticky little paws on some early copies of some reeeeeeeeally exciting books lately, and because I didn't really expect to recieve any of these and each one arrived like a lovely gift, I promised myself that I would take the time to put together some kind of a review for each of them, a bit like I did with my post about films last week (or was it the week before? Whatever).
So, in order of reading:
ACID by Emma Pass
2113. In Jenna Strong’s world, ACID – the most brutal, controlling police force in history – rule supreme. No throwaway comment or muttered dissent goes unnoticed – or unpunished. And it was ACID agents who locked Jenna away for life, for a bloody crime she struggles to remember.
The only female inmate in a violent high-security prison, Jenna has learned to survive by any means necessary. And when a mysterious rebel group breaks her out, she must use her strength, speed and skill to stay one step ahead of ACID – and to uncover the truth about what really happened on that dark night two years ago.
The above summary is a little misleading in a couple of ways, but for me to go into them would be even more spoilerific. So I shall resist, and merely say that there is so, so much more to the story than you're going to expect based on that - just layers and layers of STUFF. I was kind of blown away by Emma's ruthlessness when it came to her plot. Every time you thought you'd settled in and found the story's 'normal', everything would explode (and generally get much, much worse than you'd realised it could). I was impressed by the way that social media stuff, such as recordings of phonecalls, newspaper articles, and screenshots of websites, were woven into the narrative, giving us a sense of the wider implications of Jenna's personal adventures and tragedies. It also added to the sense of a futuristic, plugged-in society.
I've seen some comparisons to The Hunger Games for this novel, but actually I think it reminded me most strongly of The Bourne Identity, only with a Dystopian setting and one of the most kick-ass heroines I've had the pleasure to meet. I whizzed through ACID in two reading sessions (both in the bath, resulting in me ending up all white and pruney two nights in a row) and I highly recommend it if you're looking for something incredibly fast paced and action-packed with a unique, British setting.
The Oathbreaker's Shadow by Amy McCulloch
Fifteen-year-old Raim lives in a world where you tie a knot for every promise that you make. Break that promise and you are scarred for life, and cast out into the desert.
Raim has worn a simple knot around his wrist for as long as he can remember. No one knows where it came from, and which promise of his it symbolises, but he barely thinks about it at all—not since becoming the most promising young fighter ever to train for the elite Yun guard. But on the most important day of his life, when he binds his life to his best friend (and future king) Khareh, the string bursts into flames and sears a dark mark into his skin.
Scarred now as an oath-breaker, Raim has two options: run, or be killed.
This book is my stomping ground, if you will - diverse high fantasy with a richly textured setting that takes inspiration from real cultures. I was raring to read it, and I wasn't disappointed. Amy McCulloch unspools her amazingly intricate and thoughtful world-building in a truly wonderful, matter-of-fact fashion, with her hero (the stubborn yet endearing Raim) learning that not everything he has believed or been taught is actually true out there in the wide world. The writing reminds me of the early Alanna books by Tamora Pierce, making the book suitable for younger readers while still providing more than enough to keep older YA and adults interested.
There's a wonderful cast of strong, flawed and evolving characters here, and some truly marvellous magical/mythological details. I believe this is the first book in a duology, so there's another book to come, and I have to admit that the ending teeters right on the edge of feeling unresolved for me. Not enough to put me off, but certainly enough that I'm a bit desperate for the sequel. I tore through this one very quickly and will now be passing it onto my twelve-year-old niece, who I know is going to love it. Roll on book #2, please.
INK by Amanda Sun
|U.S. Cover Art|
|U.K. Cover from NetGalley|
On the heels of a family tragedy, the last thing Katie Greene wants to do is move halfway across the world. Stuck with her aunt in Shizuoka, Japan, Katie feels lost. Alone. She doesn’t know the language, she can barely hold a pair of chopsticks, and she can’t seem to get the hang of taking her shoes off whenever she enters a building.
Then there’s gorgeous but aloof Tomohiro, star of the school’s kendo team. How did he really get the scar on his arm? Katie isn’t prepared for the answer. But when she sees the things he draws start moving, there’s no denying the truth: Tomo has a connection to the ancient gods of Japan, and being near Katie is causing his abilities to spiral out of control. If the wrong people notice, they'll both be targets.
Katie never wanted to move to Japan—now she may not make it out of the country alive.
Oh, I've been dying to read this one FOR SO LONG. Even if the story synopsis hadn't completely grabbed my attention (which it did) the cover would have been enough to win my heart forever more. I was so psyched to be approved for an eGalley on NetGalley that I blew off work yesterday and just sat down to read this book instead.
Despite a few misgivings brought on by seeing comparisons to Twilight (blergh. Why does every paranormal romance or urban fantasy ever written have to be compared to Twilight? Enough already!) I found that I really, really liked this book! Yes, it's definitely a paranormal romance rather than an urban fantasy, but it won me over simply by the strength of its characters. They're flawed, conflicted, wounded and often their behavior varies wildly between noble self-sacrifice and utter jerkishness - just like real people, in fact. The Japanese setting was wonderful. This felt like reading the skillfully written novelisation of a much beloved anime series. The writing is highly visual, and the writer absolutely excels at providing those simple, well-observed details of life that bring a different culture singing vibrantly onto the page. Definitely check this one out.
That's my recent reads. What have you guys been reading lately?