I finally stayed awake long enough to do a review post! I’ve read some great books lately, which is exactly what I needed whilst recovering from surgery. Some of the books I’ve read, I’m saving reviewing for my wrap-ups of #ThatFictionLifeReadathon and #SundayYAthon which I am currently participating in.
Here are this week’s reviews:
Book of Fire by Michelle Kenney
Book of Fire is a brilliant dystopian novel telling the story of Talia, who discovers she is the guardian of a very important book, a role she inherits from her grandfather just before the forest is raided and her grandfather, brother and lifelong friend are captured by Insiders.
The Insiders must not find out that Outsiders exist, but Talia will stop at nothing to get her family back, even as she discovers the dark and sinister experiments happening on the Inside and their desire to get their hands on her book.
There is a lot of world-building very early on, which is important to the story but meant it took a while for me to really click with the book; once I did, I was hooked.
The characters are complicated: Talia’s grandfather is endearing and sacrifices himself on the mission to save someone else, but as the story develops we discover how ill-informed Talia is and how little he has prepared her for the burden of responsibility that the book places on her. Talia herself is rash and focused solely on saving her family which leads to her making sometimes stupid decisions. She forms a predictable romance with Insider August, but their story leaves us wanting more, and we aren’t sure until the very last moments which side August is loyal to. Unus, an experimental creature who should be bad, is one of the most wonderful charactets and a highlight of the book for me.
The concept of Insiders and Outsiders and a genetics programme with unusual experiments designed to perfect humanity had echoes of both Allegiant and The Hunger Games. I think fans of these novels would enjoy Book of Fire. I certainly did, and I look forward to reading the rest of the trilogy.
Girlhood by Cat Clarke
This one was my hospital read whilst I was in for day surgery (and several hours in A and E) and Grace was not wrong when she recommended it as the perfect hospital read.
Girls are bitchy. I knew this, having been a girl myself, but this book really highlights just how nasty they can be. Set in a boarding school, Cat Clarke explores the effects of a newcomer on an established friendship group; they are devastating. This was much darker and more thriller-esque than I was expecting and explored some really hard hitting issues: mental health, anorexia, death and grief. I loved it.
Harper’s journey is an interesting one: she is at the boarding school as a result of her family winning the lottery just after her sister dies from an eating disorder. She feels out of place, even sometimes amongst her best friends, who are from wealthy families and who don’t understand what it is like to lose a twin. Enter Kirsty, the new girl. Kirsty has also lost a sister. She and Harper become close, but is everything as it seems? I’m not going to spoil it for you. It’s a great read with lots of twists and turns. That ending though? It blew me away. All I can say is Harper and her friends are better and more forgiving girls than I ever was.
Read it. Then come and talk to me about it on here, or twitter @charlotteswhere
The Girl of Ink and Stars by Kiran Millwood Hargrave
This is another once Grace recommended as a story to get lost in. Once again, she was not wrong.
Isabella’s school friend Lupe, daughter of the Governor disappears, lost into a part of the island that is forbidden. Her father, a cartographer, has taught her about the island and maps. The Governor takes a search party, including Isabella (disguised as a boy), to search for Lupe.
This is a wonderful adventure with two young girls at the heart of it, because “girls go on adventures too”. It is a delightful story of friendship, loyalty, and bravery, mixed with the mythical (or is it?) story of Arinta and the fire dogs. Kiran’s writing is beautiful (I loved the description “It was as if we’d fallen below the earth, where stars could not shine and all around us was the underworld”) and this hooks you in almost as much as the story. I loved the attention to smaller details: Miss La, the chicken with a huge personality and the map which changes when placed inthe right kind of water.
The Girl of Ink and Stars is a really lovely story and one I’d highly recommend.
That’s by TBR slaying for the week. What have you been reading? Have you tried any of these?