Tuesday, 17 September 2013

The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon

Goodreads Summary : It is the year 2059. Several major world cities are under the control of a security force called Scion. Paige Mahoney works in the criminal underworld of Scion London, part of a secret cell known as the Seven Seals. The work she does is unusual: scouting for information by breaking into others’ minds. Paige is a dreamwalker, a rare kind of clairvoyant, and in this world, the voyants commit treason simply by breathing.

But when Paige is captured and arrested, she encounters a power more sinister even than Scion. The voyant prison is a separate city—Oxford, erased from the map two centuries ago and now controlled by a powerful, otherworldly race. These creatures, the Rephaim, value the voyants highly—as soldiers in their army.

Paige is assigned to a Rephaite keeper, Warden, who will be in charge of her care and training. He is her master. Her natural enemy. But if she wants to regain her freedom, Paige will have to learn something of his mind and his own mysterious motives.

The Bone Season introduces a compelling heroine—a young woman learning to harness her powers in a world where everything has been taken from her. It also introduces an extraordinary young writer, with huge ambition and a teeming imagination. Samantha Shannon has created a bold new reality in this riveting debut.

My Rating : 4 of 5 stars

My Thought :

As the most hyped YA novel of 2013, there is no doubt that Samantha Shannon’s novel The Bone Season is a wonderful, ground-breaking debut.

In this debut, we are faced with the familiar setting of a near future dystopian society with some unfamiliar concepts. The author did an excellent job into weaving them altogether and creating a beautifully crafted, richly imaginative novel—a thrill ride of improbable escapade. After surviving the info-dumps on the very first chapter, the story had me absorbed into pages.

The world of Bone Season was a unique itself and intricate in its complexity where magic met sci-fi trickery. The story began in a futuristic London under control of a centralized security force called Scion and follows 19 years old Paige Mahoney, a clairvoyant, one of the rarest of the voyants with the ability to encroach anyone’s mind. And in this realm where physic powers are forbidden, where the voyants commit treason simply by breathing, Paige works for Seven Seal—the underground criminal syndicate. Her talent of dream-walking lies with her connection to the aether, and during her out of body experience she simply stops breathing. Soon after, accidentally killing two guards, she was captured and shipped off to Sheol I— a colony controlled by an otherworldly race called Rephaims (They aren’t angels in traditional sense. They don't have fluffy wings. They are rather frightening, godly-looking creatures who shred yellow/golden blood). There she began training under Arcturus Warden, her stoic Rephaite keeper. From here the story took an interesting turn.

I really loved Paige as a character, neither too weak nor not too strong that gave her room to grow as an individual. And so was Warden— Mystical behind his brooding demure, we get occasional glimpses of the man inside, who cares for his lowly human protégé. The author put her characters into situation and watching their evolution was the best part of the novel. There was one particular moment I would like to mention, when Paige took stand against oppression even though standing wasn’t easy, where at the same time Warden simply stood silent and watched as his ruthless consort murdered an innocent. Given their circumstance, both the characters acted according to it and such contrast in their behaviour made them distinct from each other.

Talking about the info-dumps which was the biggest weakness of the book, some details were unnecessarily ambiguous,where few other terminologies were unexplained. Providing the glossary was given at end, it was difficult to go through them every time a new term appeared, which according to me slowed down the pace at places.

For the work that has been ironically compared to J.K. Rowling, the weight of expectation was too much to bear, and while The Bone Season was quite successful in satisfying my cravings, it can't be considered as the next Harry Potter Saga. But after the slack-jawed, I’m truly interested to see what happens next.

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Monday, 2 September 2013

The Beautiful and the Cursed by Page Morgan

Goodreads Summary : Ingrid Waverley is a young woman to be reckoned with. Faced with her brother's mysterious disappearance after an abrupt move to Paris, she is determined to discover what has happened to him. Soon she and her sister Gabriella are drawn into a Parisian underworld more terrifying than they could ever have imagined, but watching over them are two impossible (and impossibly handsome) young men. Luc is a 'Dispossessed', an ancient gargoyle whose sworn duty it is to protect the humans who inhabit his abbey. Nolan has secrets of his own too. He is a member of the Alliance - a shadowy group dedicated to keeping Paris safe from the demonic forces that threaten to destroy it.

Secrets, danger and hidden powers stalk the girls in this beautifully imagined paranormal romance that will keep readers gripped from beginning to end - and one thing is for sure - you'll never look at a gargoyle in the same way again..

My Rating : 4 of 5 stars

My Review : The Beautiful and The Cursed was one of my most anticipated books of the year, and it, clearly stood up to my expectations. Gargoyles are a new horizon of YA fiction, an interesting dimension added to the territory flooding with werewolves, vampires, or fairies. Not to mention the off-springs of The Hunger Games.

Set in the city of lights, the city of dreams, Paris in 1899, the story follows 17 years old Ingrid and her 15 years of sister, along with their mother, in search of her missing brother Grayson. The story might seem a rip-off of Clockwork Angel, though fear you not, it’s nothing like that. It’s completely an original plot of its own.

When the family arrived in a rotting, crumbling church abbey aka their residence, the sister find out things are more complicated than they though. Like Grayson, more people are vanishing every day, and there is a supernatural force causing every disappearance. The more they delve into the mystery, the more got close the danger awaits them.

I was wholly impressed by the writing. It was beautiful, with great flow and touch of Victorian literature. The mythology incorporated with gargoyles was nicely done, and well developed, no barrage of info dumps were fired at us. Although what kept me from giving the book a full five stars was a little lack of details related to the new terminologies introduced, such as the Underneath, the Dispossessed, Dusters, the Alliance etc.

The setting was also beautifully inlaid throughout the book, and I certainly immersed in the gothic environment the author creature. The labyrinthine passages of the abbey, ancient architecture and inanimate grotesque gave me goosebumps.

Each character was also well-written. Ingrid made a likable heroine, to whom I could relate myself with. She was stubborn, careful and dauntless, but most definitely not stupid. Her each step was calculated, and she knew what to do next. I loved her love and devotion to her brother, and so was Gabby.
For a 15 years old girl, Gabby was mature and possesses a great inner fortitude beyond her age, though he was bit brat, short-tempered and impatient, which, in my opinion added a flavour to her character. Without the different traits of a human nature, a character becomes flawless but dull and boring. And in this case both the characters were believable, and in contrast to each other, made a great team of sisters.

As for the romantic interests, I was swooned by Luc, the charming, occasionally brooding gargoyle guardian Luc. And through the book, I found my cheering for both Luc and Ingrid.
And Nolan, Gabby’s love interest, was arrogant and domineering, but that was fine with me. I found his occasional quarrels with Gabby funny, a relief from the constant seriousness of the plot.

The book is recommendable for anyone who is looking for an avenue to escape from the conventional paranormal fictions. The Beautiful and The Cursed is worth trying and time.

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