Posts Tagged ‘alexandra bracken’

Passenger by Alexandra Bracken is a young adult fantasy novel, the first in a duology, marketed as a treasure hunt through time.  It focusses on the characters of Etta, a young 21st century woman and Nicholas, a black man from the 1700s, both of whom have the genetic ability to travel through passages in time and space.  They embark on a journey through time to locate the astrolabe, the series McGuffin, in order to prevent its falling into the hands of the Ironwoods giving them power to change history.

What I liked

The time travel system.  I really enjoyed this aspect of the book.  It was very well thought out and the rules and limitations were well explained.  Often in fantasy it’s the limitations on magical powers that make them most interesting and generate the most interesting stories.  At the risk of spoiling the novel I won’t say too much more, but this aspect was very well done.

The character development.  Writing believable and consistent characters is one of Bracken’s strengths.  I could easily believe the characters actions and reactions based on what they’d already experienced.  

The social commentary. Having two characters whose race or gender has historically deprived them of power and placing them in situations where that is emphasised was inspired.  It leads to some scenes that are both funny and poignant.  

The writing and the pacing.  This was excellent – the story kept moving along at a brisk pace with the tension managed expertly.  It’s amazing what a deadline can do for plot pacing!  Of course, I hadn’t expected anything less from the writer of The Darkest Minds series.

What I didn’t like

The romance.  Don’t get me wrong; I enjoyed the relationship between Etta and Nicholas.  What irritated me though was the fact that they allowed it to overshadow everything else.  They were on a very tight deadline and yet they still took a lot of time out to enjoy each other’s company.  Focus, people!

Bland characters.  I will say I enjoyed the situations in which the characters found themselves more than the characters themselves.  Yes, they did have a few moments of awesome, and yes, their character development was realistic, but I wasn’t particularly engaged by them.  

All in all I really enjoyed this book and gave it four out of five stars.  I look forward to Wayfarer, the conclusion of the story.

As an aside, if you enjoyed Passenger, I would strongly recommend you check out Kerstin Geir’s Ruby Red trilogy. This explores a very similar premise of time travel, but the heroine is much more fun and sassy than Etta.


Passenger by Alexandra Bracken – Review was originally published on Canadian eReader

My last entry talked about my favourite books of 2015, so now it’s time to talk about my most anticipated books of 2016.

Passenger by Alexandra BrackenPassenger is the latest book by Alexandra Bracken.  it is the start of a new YA series and is billed as a YA treasure hunt through time.  I really loved Bracken’s Darkest Minds series, so this sounds like a real winner to me.  The publisher has released a sampler, which I encourage you to check out.  Passenger is officially released in just a few days on January 5th 2016.

Lady Midnight by Cassandra ClareThis is the first book in a new series by Mortal Instruments writer Cassandra Clare.  It is set in the same world of the Shadowhunters but the action takes place in Los Angeles.  At first, I’d been a little sceptical of the setting; the older cities of London and New York seemed a more natural fit for vampires and demons than sunny Los Angeles.  However, the last book in the Mortal Instruments series, City of Heavenly Fire, functioned as much as a setup for this new series, introducing characters, locations and possible plotlines in the new series, and I am 100% convinced now.  I will certainly be devouring Lady Midnight when it is released on March 8th 2016.

Yellow Brick War by Danielle PaigeYellow Brick War is the third and final book in the Dorothy Must Die series by Danielle Paige.  This series is set in the world of L Frank Baum’s Oz in which Dorothy has turned wicked.  While I loved the world and protagonist – Amy Gumm – is wonderfully kick ass, yet real and flawed – but I was unhappy with the pacing of the first book.  The second book, The Wicked Will Rise, fixed these issues and had such a fantastic cliffhanger ending that I can’t wait to see what happens next.  Yellow Brick War is released on March 15th 2016.

Paper and Fire by Rachel CainePaper and Fire is the second in Rachel Caine’s Great Library series. I was originally drawn to Ink and Bone because of the world – a world in which the Great Library of Alexandria survives and exercises complete control over all published work.  Our protagonist discovers a way to break the Library’s control and ends up in danger.  With this book I came for the concept and stayed for the characters.  They are both engaging and intriguing and I can’t wait to see what happens next.  Paper and Fire is released on July 5th.

The next book in Scott Lynch’s Gentlemen Bastards series, The Thorn of Emberlain is scheduled to be released on July 21st 2016.  At least that’s what Amazon tells me.  I’m not certain how official that date is – it has been put back several times.  In any case, this is one book I am very much looking forward to.  I love the characters, the world and the writing is so sharp and witty.  I look forward to what the future holds for Locke.

The final book I’d like to mention is Heartless by Marissa Meyer.  This is a new series set in the world of Alice in Wonderland in the same way that the Lunar Chronicles were a retelling of traditional fairytales.  Other than the brief synopsis, not much has been revealed about this book.  I look forward to picking it up on November 8th 2016.

One book that I am not holding my breath anticipating in 2016 is George R.R. Martin’s continuation of The Song of Ice and Fire, The Winds of Winter.  In a recent blog post, Martin confirmed what most of us had expected: Winds of Winter will not be published before the upcoming sixth season of HBO’s Game of Thrones.  While disappointing, this is not surprising.  However, the tone of Martin’s post suggests that he still has a lot of work to do, and that he cannot say when it will be completed.  I’ll be interested to see how that affects viewing of the series.  Personally, I’m going to watch it and treat it like any other book adaptation – I’ll enjoy watching David and Dan’s interpretation and then read the original whenever Martin publishes it.  I do have more faith in Martin’s handling of the characters though.

Reading through my preorders and my most anticipated list, I see that the vast majority of them are YA fantasy type books.  One of my goals for 2016 should be to expand my reading genres.  That may be tricky – there are just so many good YA books coming out and so little time to read.  I do have some historical fiction, some Outlander and some biographies to read.  I also see that all of them are by authors with whom I’m already familiar.  That is probably also something to work on in 2016.  Because not yet published books don’t have Kindle previews, I’m a little more reluctant to commit my money to an unknown.  

This year I have set my GoodReads reading challenge to 80 books.  I feel that should be doable, even if I do listen to more audiobooks.

One very exciting thing I’m really looking forward to this year is attending BEA in Chicago!  This will be my first visit to the book expo and I’m so excited at the opportunity to spend time with people who are as passionate about books as I am.  I look forward to seeing some of you there.

Most anticipated reads of 2016 and other news was originally published on Canadian eReader

The Darkest Minds: Never Fade by Alexandra Bracken is the followup to The Darkest Minds.  This series tells the story of Ruby, a young girl living in a world where most of the children have been killed by a virus but the survivors have been left with supernatural powers.  Ruby is one such survivor with the power to control other people’s minds.  The country has been left devastated by the loss of the children and fear of those who remain.  Ruby and her friends are running from place to place trying to find safety.

I adored both The Darkest Minds and the novella In Time so it was a little surprising that I was somewhat disappointed by Never Fade.  It actually took me several attempts to sit down and read it.  This is the second book in an expected trilogy, perhaps it was a little of middle book syndrome. This also appears to be at the lowest point of our protagonist’s arc, and as such I found it a little depressing.  Ruby is dealing with a lot of guilt, doubt and self loathing in this book which makes it rather a dark read.  I also missed the camaraderie between Ruby, Liam, Chubbs and Zu that was a cornerstone of the first book.

What I liked

The concept.  I continue to love the concept behind the series of the IAAN plague and the survivors’ psychic powers.  Bracken’s worldbuilding is excellent with various groups trying to deal with the fallout of IAAN but not necessarily having the best interests of the survivors at heart.  

The characters.  All of the main characters are engaging and draw you into their story.  Perhaps that’s why I didn’t enjoy Never Fade as much as the other books; I care about Ruby and found it hard to read about her being in such a low place, especially without her friends around emotionally to help her through it.  The same is true of the other main characters.  Liam and Chubbs too are dealing with some issues which means they are not there for Ruby to the extent they were in the first book.  I also loved the new characters we meet – Jude and Vida.  

Brisk pacing.  The action never lets up really; Ruby and team seem to lurch from one crisis to another.

Hooks for the final book.  There is some really interesting setup for the final volume.  I’m really looking forward to reading it!

What I didn’t like

Weakened relationships.  The bond between Ruby, Liam, Chubbs and Zu was one of the cornerstones of the first book and I really missed that from Never Fade.  So much has happened to them and they have done such things since they were last together that their bond is very much strained.  I hope they get their act together for the final book.

Unrealistic recoveries.  At various points in the book certain characters are gravely ill or seriously wounded.  Yet it seems that a day or two later they are up and fighting fit again.  That did jolt me out of the story on several occasions.

All in all, although I didn’t enjoy Never Fade as much as the earlier book and novella, I felt it gave a solid foundation for the final book.  I gave The Darkest Minds: Never Fade three and a half stars out of five.

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The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken is a young adult dystopian novel which tells the story of Ruby, a young survivor of the IAANS plague.  IAANS killed off most of the children between the ages of about eight and fourteen and those who survived, like Ruby, are left with supernatural powers.  This frightens the government who responds by placing them in “rehabilitation camps.”  The Darkest Minds is about Ruby’s escape from such a camp and her search for a way to live a normal life.

What I liked

Multi-layered characters.  The people we meet in The Darkest Minds are generally neither wholly good nor wholly evil.  There are a lot of shades of grey in the characters and it’s often difficult to tell whose side a person is on.  Even those characters who are not, shall we say, altruistically concerned about Ruby’s welfare have good and believable motives for their actions.  This adds a great deal of depth to the characters and a nice level of narrative tension.  Even the mute Suzume has a real personality.

Beautifully descriptive writing style.  I immediately fell in love with Bracken’s way of writing.  She has a wonderful way of describing things that made me laugh as well as making crystal clear what she meant.  A couple of examples I noted were “the kid is basically a grumpy seventy-year-old man trapped in a seventeen-year-old’s body.”  Wonderful!  It also describes Chubs to a T.  “We got Hansel and Greteled.” Tee hee!

Nice balance between narrative tension and romance.  Too often in YA, the romance overshadows the narrative plot, which for me is off-putting.  The romance between Ruby and Liam was beautifully developed – enough to really make me feel sad at the ending – yet didn’t overshadow the plot.  After all, these kids are basically running for their lives – I’m sure romance isn’t at the forefront of their minds.

The worldbuilding.  I really enjoyed the world of The Darkest Minds.  The premise of the IAANS disease and the supposed threat of the superpowered kids was well thought out and executed.  Again, it was portrayed that there was neither a wholly good or wholly wrong side in this struggle.  

Brisk pacing.  Tied into the above, other than a brief slump about a third of the way through, the book kept me listening in to see what happened next.  The fact that the characters had shades of grey kept that tension high, not knowing what their real motives were.

The narration.  Amy McFadden narrated this book and did a great job.  She really brought Ruby, Liam and the others alive for me.  Here’s a sample


What I didn’t like

Other than a brief point where I lost interest about a third of the way through, I loved The Darkest Minds.  It is a gripping story with wonderful characters.

It will come as no surprise to learn, then, that I gave The Darkest Minds five stars out of five.

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The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken was originally published on Canadian eReader