BOOK REVIEW: Never Fade – by Alexandra Bracken

Title: Never Fade
(The Darkest Minds #2)
Author: Alexandra Bracken

Genre: YA, Dystopia, Paranormal
First published: October 15th 2013
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Finished reading: April 10th 2017
Pages: 507

“Sometimes you’re the one speeding along in a panic, doing too much, not paying attention, wrecking things you don’t mean to. And sometimes life just happens to you, and you can’t dodge it. It crashes into you because it wants to see what you’re made of.”

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After reading and enjoying the first book back in January, I made a promise to read both sequels as soon as possible. It took me a bit longer than expected, but I finally picked up book number two this month… And I have to say that unfortunately Never Fade doesn’t live up to the first book at all for me. While I enjoyed The Darkest Minds even though the plot isn’t all that original anymore, I found Never Fade to be overlong and at times even on the border of boring. The writing style was as good as ever, but it sure took me a lot longer than expected to finish this one… And that is probably due to the fact that both the plot felt a bit thin and some of the characters started to annoy me. Basically, the sequel is about Ruby trying to find someone and messing up along the way, with various people betraying her or not being what they seem to be. Which might still be interesting, but it mostly felt like a ‘copy-repeat’ plot to me instead. Warning: this feeling might also be caused by the fact that Ruby started to frustrate me with the whole ‘I’m dangerous/I can’t be around others/I need to be alone’ thing. It does have a pretty explosive ending though! All in all not what I was expecting at all and yet another series that suffers from the ‘weak-sequel-syndrome’… I will still be reading the final book some time soon though, and I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed In The Afterlight will make me enjoy this series again.

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WARNING: Possible spoilers! Please don’t read this summary if you haven’t read the first  book yet. I’ll keep the summary super short but it’s impossible to keep it completely spoiler-free…

Ruby never wanted her abilities in the first place and doesn’t like using them, but now she’s in the Children’s League she is forced to use them on a daily basis. She has to go on dangerous missions and get the truth out of their enemies, and she only agrees because it’s a way to keep the others safe. But then she finds out something that will change everything… And this new secret mission might just be the most dangerous one yet.

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I was really looking forward to this sequel, especially since I enjoyed The Darkest Minds that much. Unfortunately Never Fade turned out to be another case of ‘weak-sequel-syndrome’. I actually struggled to continue at points as the plot just felt too drawn out; I feel that a similar story could have been told with 150-200 pages less and would probably have been a lot more entertaining. This has nothing to do with the writing style itself though, because Never Fade is without doubt well written. It’s one of the reasons I’m still hopeful for the third book!


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ARC REVIEW: Traitor To The Throne – by Alwyn Hamilton

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Title: Traitor To The Throne
(Rebel Of The Sands #2)
Author: Alwyn Hamilton

Genre: YA, Fantasy, Magic
First published: January 31st 2017
Publisher: Faber & Faber
Finished reading: February 18th 2017
Pages: 528
Rating 4,5qqq

“But then, this was what the desert did to us. It made us dreamers with weapons.”

*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by Netgalley and Faber & Faber in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***

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I had heard a lot of great things about the first Rebel Of The Sands book, so when I saw a copy of the sequel at Netgalley I decided to go ahead and request it. When (to my surprise) the request was approved, I hurried to read the first book. And it was love at first chapter. Both the writing style, plot and characters managed to convince me right from the beginning, and I had an excellent time reading the first book. I was more than excited about Traitor To The Throne after that, and Alwyn Hamilton didn’t disappoint. This has without doubt become one of my new favorite fantasy series! Traitor To The Throne by no means suffers from the so-called ‘weak-second-book’ syndrome and was possibly even better than the first book. The writing, the worldbuilding, the plot, the characters, the magic… Everything just works. The sequel has a lot less desert and is mostly set inside the palace, but I personally liked the change of scenery. And despite the fact that the story doesn’t end in that big of a cliffhanger, it is going to be a long wait for the third book… Because I sure will be missing the main characters and their world in the mean time. If you like the genre, I can definitely recommend this series!

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WARNING: Possible spoilers! Please don’t read this summary if you haven’t read the first two books of this series yet. I’ll keep the summary super short but it’s impossible to keep it completely spoiler-free…

Nearly a year has passed since that memorable day in Fahali… Amani has had time to get used to her powers during the months that passed, and both her reputation as the Blue-Eyed Bandit and the Rebel Prince’s message have spread across the desert. Things are getting out of control, and Amani will soon find herself in a very complicated situation. One day, she finds herself stripped of her powers and identity, and Amani will have to rely on her desert instincts again to survive… Because the Sultan’s palace is a dangerous place. What will happen to Amani and the other rebels?

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When I start reading a new fantasy series, I’m always looking for a few key elements before I decide to continue with the sequel. The most important ones are: well written prose, excellent worldbuilding, interesting/likeable characters with a believable development and a little something extra that makes the story stand out from the rest. Rebel Of The Sands basically has it all, and the sequel is just as good as the first book. Amani is partly your typical strong female heroine, but I’ve grown to love her character and I like that she isn’t just a strong desert girl with great weapon skills, but also has her ‘special’ powers. I will definitely be looking forward to the third book next year!


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BOOK REVIEW: Rebel Of The Sands – by Alwyn Hamilton

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Title: Rebel Of The Sands
(Rebel Of The Sands #1)
Author: Alwyn Hamilton

Genre: YA, Fantasy, Magic
First published: March 8th 2016
Publisher: Viking Books For Young Readers
Finished reading: February 13th 2017
Pages: 320
Rating 4,5qqq

“The world makes things for each place. Fish for the sea, Rocs for the mountain skies, and girls with sun in their skin and perfect aim for a desert that doesn’t let weakness live.”

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Dear Rebel Of The Sands, why have I managed to ignore you for nearly a year?! I’m still kicking myself for not picking up this first book of a fantastic new YA fantasy series… But I guess it does mean I can read the sequel straight away! I admit I have heard mixed things about this story in the past, and that might just be why I was so hesitant to pick it up in the first place. I normally tend to have bad luck with popular books, but I’m glad that Rebel Of The Sands has proven to be an exception. I’m glad I finally gave this story a chance and I loved even better than expected! I’ve basically fallen in love with the worldbuilding, characters and writing style from the beginning… Alwyn Hamilton writes in a way that draws you right in and even though the whole strong-female-character thing in YA fantasy isn’t all that original, I was thoroughly charmed by Amani anyway. Together with Jin, Shazad and many other characters she managed to win over my heart and I had a blast following them on their journey through the desert. The worldbuilding is so interesting! I’ve heard complains about the ‘mythical’ being lost by the ‘western’ feel of the descriptions and some of the scenes, but I personally really liked the mix of two different elements. Great prose and characters, interesting plot and worldbuilding, lots of action, a healthy dose of action and magic: Rebel Of The Sands has all the ingredients to enchant you.

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Amani Al’Hiza lives in the small desert town of Dustwalk and basically learned to shoot like an expert when she was only a little girl. There is not much to do in Dustwalk and Amani has become a gifted gunslinger with perfect aim… But that won’t help her escape before she either loses her freedom or her life. When another bad decision brings her to a shooting contest, she meets the mysterious foreigner Jin. Amani sees him as the perfect escape route, although it won’t be easy to escape with both their lives… And she definitely didn’t imagine escaping riding a mythical horse she didn’t know still existed. And she will soon learn a whole lot more about her country as they try to find their way to safety.

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Thank you Traitor To The Throne for finally making me read the first book! I’m so glad I was approved for an ARC of the sequel, because I still feel I have been missing out by not reading Rebel Of The Sands sooner. I know this story has a lot of mixed reviews, but if you ask me it’s definitely worth the try. This series has the perfect combination of interesting worldbuilding, great characters and well written prose; the magic and mythical elements make Rebel Of The Sands into something special. I will be looking forward to read more about Amani and Jin’s adventures for sure!


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BOOK REVIEW: Vicious – by V.E. Schwab

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Title: Vicious
Author: V.E. Schwab
Genre: Fantasy, Science Fiction, Paranormal
First published: September 24th 2013
Publisher: Tor Books
Finished reading: August 22nd 2016
Pages: 340
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“When no one understands, that’s usually a good sign that you’re wrong.”

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Ever since I read both Shade Of Magic books earlier this year I’ve been an instant V.E. Schwab fan. I have debating which of her books to read next, and most people seem to think it would be best to pick up one of her earlier books Vicious first. And who am I to doubt that? I already knew I was probably going to like this book since I loved her writing style in the past, and I was right. While the Shades Of Magic books are still my absolute favorite, I thoroughly enjoyed Vicious. It wasn’t perfect and I would have liked to see some things differently, but in general the story more than made up for it. This book has a superfast pace and the prose is brilliant, just as I already expected. Vicious also has superpowers and a revenge plot… What’s not to like? I do admit it could have done without the romance, religious angle and some of the melodrama, but overall I can definitely recommend this book. Fingers crossed she will end up publishing a sequel some time soon! Vicious doesn’t end up with a cliffhanger and was originally ment as a stand-alone, but I wouldn’t say no to more superpowers, awesome prose and another great plot.

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Victor and Eli started out as college roommates: two brilliant, arrogant and lonely boys who recognized the same sharpness and ambition in each other. During their senior year they want to research a similar theme for their thesis, and they decide to work together. What they are working on? Adrenaline, near-death experiences and the possibility that those can give you extraordinary abilities under the right conditions. But when their thesis strays from the academic path and turns into an experiment, things go horribly wrong. Ten years later, Victor breaks out of prison and is determined to stop his old friend: Eli is on a mission to eradicate every other super-powered person on the planet. Both sides have terrible powers and have set course for revenge, but who will survive?

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Like I said before, Vicious is without doubt an excellent read even though I had minor problems with a few things like the romance, melodrama and religious angle. There is no doubt that the prose is brilliant and I loved the revenge plot and superpower angle. It just works perfectly together and any science fiction fan would probably love this book. More than recommended!