Book Review: Vengeful


Rating: 5 out of 5.

  • Author: V.E. Schwab
  • Genre: Sci-fi
  • Page Count: 462
  • Date Started: May 17th
  • Date Finished: May 19th
  • Spoilers? Vague spoilers for the first book in the series, Vicious

A Brief Description

The sequel to VICIOUS, V.E. Schwab’s first adult novel.

Sydney once had Serena—beloved sister, betrayed enemy, powerful ally. But now she is alone, except for her thrice-dead dog, Dol, and then there’s Victor, who thinks Sydney doesn’t know about his most recent act of vengeance.

Victor himself is under the radar these days—being buried and re-animated can strike concern even if one has superhuman powers. But despite his own worries, his anger remains. And Eli Ever still has yet to pay for the evil he has done.

Goodreads || Amazon


I don’t want to survive. I want to thrive.

V.E. Schwab

My reView

As a review of what the first book in the series: Vicious is about Victor Vale and Eliot Cardale. They started out as roommates, they became something close to friends. They were researching near death experiences and if under the right conditions, someone could develop extraordinary abilities and become and EO (ExtraOrdinary). It also follows them 10 years later, when Victor has broken out of prison and he is determined to catch up to his once friend, now his foe. He is aided by Sydney, who has a stunning ability, and Mitch who is an expert hacker. Meanwhile, Eli is seeking EOs to eradicate every single last one. That’s all I can really say without spoiling book one. Since this is a review of a sequel, if you have not read the first book, proceed with caution, as there may be vague spoilers for Vicious.

Okay, to begin, after the ending of the first book, I was terrified for this book. The characters, Victor specifically, had been through so much already. I loved the first book in this duology. Vicious is dark and it doesn’t shy away from it. It does not pretend to be anything but. The second book is darker. These are dark, morally gray characters that justify atrocities and death to get to their own goals, but damn does V.E. Schwab make you root for them. You WANT them to succeed, at whatever costs necessary.

Speaking of the characters, there are so many, and not one of them is truly good. Every single one of them is… not evil, but human. They feel so real. They make mistakes, they commit sins and they do everything they can to protect those that they care about, themselves included. There were some new characters included that I would like to step on me, but that’s neither here nor there. (Marcella Riggins for any who are curious) I still love Victor Vale, he was one of my favorite characters in Vicious, and that didn’t end with Vengeful. He really did everything he could to protect Mitch and Sydney.

The plot of this book was explosive, it really keeps you guessing, and throw unexpected wrenches in, just to make you keep reading. I read this book in 3 days, just sitting and reading 150 or so pages a day, because anything less felt like a crime. There were parts of this book that were extremely gruesome. It doesn’t shy away from describing the icky and well… vicious… parts of humanity. There were parts that made my skin crawl, for example, if you don’t like medical or surgical descriptions, there is a chunk that might make you uncomfortable. Otherwise, I found the plot engaging. The ending was WILD and left my heart pounding, although I will say that the ending to the first book was stronger overall.

With all of this in mind, I loved this book. I gave it a 5 out of 5 stars, easily. I loved every single moment of it. I recommend this book to anyone who likes comic books, superheros or villains with hearts. Have you read this book? What did you think?

~Cam

Book Review: The Grace Year


Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

  • Author: Kim Liggett
  • Genre: Young Adult Dystopian
  • Page Count: 404
  • Date Started: December 4th
  • Date Finished:
  • Spoilers?: Yes. Sort of?

A Brief Description

SURVIVE THE YEAR.

No one speaks of the grace year. It’s forbidden.

In Garner County, girls are told they have the power to lure grown men from their beds, to drive women mad with jealousy. They believe their very skin emits a powerful aphrodisiac, the potent essence of youth, of a girl on the edge of womanhood. That’s why they’re banished for their sixteenth year, to release their magic into the wild so they can return purified and ready for marriage. But not all of them will make it home alive.

Sixteen-year-old Tierney James dreams of a better life—a society that doesn’t pit friend against friend or woman against woman, but as her own grace year draws near, she quickly realizes that it’s not just the brutal elements they must fear. It’s not even the poachers in the woods, men who are waiting for a chance to grab one of the girls in order to make a fortune on the black market. Their greatest threat may very well be each other.

With sharp prose and gritty realism, The Grace Year examines the complex and sometimes twisted relationships between girls, the women they eventually become, and the difficult decisions they make in-between.

Goodreads || Amazon


My Review

The Grace Year by Kim Liggett is pitched as a pinch of The Handmaid’s Tale, a bit of Hunger Games and a feminist Lord of the Flies. While I see all of these elements, I feel like it falls a little bit short of being “feminist”, at least for me.

I’m conflicted, because I really wanted to love this story, but parts of it fell flat for me.

In Garner County, girls who turn 16 are thought to possess the magic to entice grown men and make older women jealous, so to combat this, they are sent to an isolated camp to release their magic into the wild for a year. Some will return, and when they do they are considered purified and ready for marriage.

The story follows Tierney James, a girl from Garner County during her grace year. Tierney is known as “Tierney the Terrible” in her group of grace girls. She has never really fit in, and in Garner County this can be incredibly dangerous. Women are only seen as possessions, property to their husbands. Right before being sent off for their grace years, many of the young girls are married off to other men in the community. Many times, these men are significantly older than the young girls they are marrying. The girls also have no say in -who- they marry. All is chosen by the men in the county and their fathers. Not only that, but being “veiled” is seen as the upmost priority. If you are not veiled you will return to the county and work in indentured servitude in other areas of the county, which is seen as ‘less-than’ when compared to being a wife.

So we have a very oppressive government, filled with men who seem to believe that they own the women around them. Women are not allowed to do anything without the permission of their husbands. Husbands are allowed to accuse their wives of indecencies, use of magic, of anything really, and condemn them to death if they see fit. All of this done in the name of religion. Women in the county must be pure and subservient above all else.

You get the picture.

Tierney, not really liked by the girls in the county has one male friend named Michael. On her “veiling day” she does not expect to get a veil, but does, from Michael, who of course has always loved her. She takes offense to this, as it is not what she wants. She even -told- Michael that she did not to be a wife and had resigned herself to never getting married. Tierney was a little bit bone-headed and didn’t really think of things before she did them. She would think “maybe I shouldn’t do this thing” and then she would do the thing, and wonder why it blew up in her face.

To add to this, it throws a gasoline on to the fire due to Michael having promised to marry one of the other girls who is a grace girl with Tierney. Her name is Kiersten, and she almost seemed like a caricature mean girl. I don’t understand why she hated Tierney, and all the other girls for that matter as much as she did. She was mean, petty and caused the death of multiple other girls, just for funsies. Kiersten was just a villain to be a villain. While Tierney was attempting to help the group of girls survive, Kiersten attempts to sabotage every single one of those attempts which just led to chaos. I just can’t fathom why this girl would destroy buckets that Tierney made for the purpose of collecting rain water. I just…

Whew.

Okay…. so the story itself, the world, nothing was really explained… at all. You were thrown in and were told nothing about what time period the story takes place in, why they think women have magic, why poachers chase the young girls -yep-, or why the poachers take women apart, piece by piece, to be used as “fountain of youths” by the others in the county. I think the author was trying to add an air of mystique or mystery, but it just ended up seeming like it wasn’t fleshed out enough or like the plot itself was hazy.

The plot makes it seem like you’ll have girls rising up against this oppressive county that has been keeping them down for so long, like you’ll have women finally rising up, and like -some- revolution should be taking place. That happens, at the very end of the story, and it happened in such a way that it was entirely unexpected, but in a good way. I tacked on that extra .5 stars because of the ending if I am being completely honest. The ending was executed in a way that it all came together just right. But…here’s the thing though, the rescues that took place in the book were all by men, one man in particular.

A poacher named Ryker, who Tierney ends up in an insta-love relationship with. Half of the time that Tierney and Ryker spend together are after Ryker rescues her and nurses her back to health on a promise that he made her father a year earlier. The moment she knows she wants to “be with him” are after he sees his face. Not to mention that Ryker is a man who was literally HUNTING her and the other girls with her. He refers to her as -prey- for 100 pages of a 400 page book. And it was insta-love and had absolutely no build-up at all. It just didn’t feel like the love was ratcheted up correctly. It felt rather hazy and almost like the romance was just tacked on after the rest of the book had been written.

This book had so much potential, but it just fell flat for me unfortunately.


Have you read this? Did you like it? What were your thoughts? Let’s discuss below!

~Cam

Book Review: Fountains of Silence


Rating: 4 out of 5.

  • Author: Ruta Sepetys
  • Genre: Historical Fiction
  • Page Count: 475
  • Date Started: December 1st
  • Date Finished: December 4th

A Brief Description

A portrait of love, silence, and secrets under a Spanish dictatorship.

Madrid, 1957. Under the fascist dictatorship of General Francisco Franco, Spain is hiding a dark secret. Meanwhile, tourists and foreign businessmen flood into Spain under the welcoming promise of sunshine and wine. Among them is eighteen-year-old Daniel Matheson, the son of an oil tycoon, who arrives in Madrid with his parents hoping to connect with the country of his mother’s birth through the lens of his camera. Photography–and fate–introduce him to Ana, whose family’s interweaving obstacles reveal the lingering grasp of the Spanish Civil War–as well as chilling definitions of fortune and fear. Daniel’s photographs leave him with uncomfortable questions amidst shadows of danger. He is backed into a corner of difficult decisions to protect those he loves. Lives and hearts collide, revealing an incredibly dark side to the sunny Spanish city.

Includes vintage media reports, oral history commentary, photos, and more.

Goodreads || Amazon


The Review

Okay. The atmosphere in this book was pretty great. You could feel the cold hand of Franco’s reign wrapping tighter around the characters as you read this.

The story of Ana, Puri, Daniel and Rafa really sticks with you.

Daniel Matheson, son of an American oil tycoon and a Spanish immigrant is an aspiring photographer who is visiting Spain with his parents. He comes with these ideas of what Spain is, mainly what the Francisco regime has told Americans and the world what Spain is, but finds a very different Spain exists for its inhabitants. One of the inhabitants of Spain is a young girl, a maid in the hotel he is staying in, named Ana.

Ana, a girl with secrets, works at the Castellana Hilton hotel, meets Daniel when she is assigned to his family.

Rafa, Ana’s older brother seemed almost… like a caricature? He has an interesting past, and has a friend who wants nothing more than to be a torero, a matador… but again, I feel like his character was very much a caricature.

Puri, Ana and Rafa’s cousin, is a nun who works at an orphanage, who begins to uncover some very unflattering things that are being done by the Franco regime involving children.

While all the characters were given colorful histories, I felt almost as if the surrounding areas were put on the back burner. The author captured Francoist Spain very well. The juxtaposition between the “American quarter”, or what I would describe as the “tourist area” of Spain and the area where tourists visited versus the areas where Spaniards actually lived very well. The tourist areas were described very richly, and had vibrancy, while the areas where natives lived were rundown and very crowded.

The author used snippets and clips of propoganda that was used in Francoist Spain to subjugate the people. For example, the Sección Femenina, which is the Women’s Section, told women that they were inferior to men and that they belonged in the home and in the role of being a mother. This is based mainly on extremist religious and Catholic beliefs, but this is what guided Franco. No other religions were allowed to be practiced in the open. This included weddings and funerals. Any Republican (those that were aligned against Franco and his government) were tortured, imprisoned, killed, or all three.

That being said, where was the flamenco? Where was the music? Where was the bright Spain that I grew up hearing about from my mom? (Who also grew up in Franco’s Spain).

In addition, this story was slow. It took a while for the characters to get to where they needed to go and the story almost seemed to end abruptly and it left me hanging with quite a few story strands.

All of this being said, I enjoyed this story and would recommend reading this if you have any interest in Francoist Spain, or even if you just enjoy historical fiction!


Have you read this? What did you think?

~Cam