Review: Vampire Academy: The Graphic Novel by Richelle Mead and Emma Vieceli

Review: Vampire Academy: The Graphic Novel by Richelle Mead and Emma VieceliVampire Academy: The Graphic Novel by Emma Vieceli, Richelle Mead
Series: Vampire Academy: The Graphic Novel #1
Published by Razorbill
Pages: 144
Genres: Graphic Novels, Young Adult
Source: Received for review from publishers
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After two years on the run, best friends Rose and Lissa are caught and returned to St. Vladimir’s Academy, a private high school for vampires and half-bloods. It’s filled with intrigue, danger—and even romance.

Enter their dark, fascinating world through a new series of 144-page full-color graphic novels. The entire first Vampire Academy novel has been adapted for book one by Leigh Dragoon and overseen by Richelle Mead, while the beautiful art of acclaimed British illustrator Emma Vieceli brings the story to life.

Thoughts: This book was my first graphic novel – ever.*  So I can’t tell you how Vampire Academy: The Graphic Novel compares to other graphic novels out there, but I sure as hell can tell you that I enjoyed it.

I loved Vampire Academy (review) when I read it way back in 2010, and this graphic novel was the perfect way for me to revisit the book. It reminded me of how much I loved the characters and how completely enthralled I was in their world. The artwork has the right mixture of hard and soft – I never felt like I was reading some sort of anime, but neither did it feel like a child’s book. I hated the artwork in the Twilight graphic novel adaptation and this was (luckily) nothing like.

I was also surprised by how much of the book made it into the graphic novel. I’d thought that, rather like a movie adaptation, quite a lot of plot would have to be sacrificed in order to make this graphic novel. I was wrong! All of my favourite scenes are in it, as well as a few I’d forgotten about.

Since reading the first book in the Vampire Academy series, I struggled to finish the series. Not because the later books are bad, but because I was spoiled and it made the journey to the conclusion non-exquisite torture! But this graphic novel was a perfect way for me to wet my toes in the Vampire Academy world without worrying about what comes next.

Bottom line? A must-have for fans of the series. I am definitely going to be getting the adaptation of Frostbite and hope the publishers make the entire series into graphic novels!

* OK, I read Mercy Thompson: Homecoming a few years ago, but it was so short and I doubt it would count.

Review: Angelfall by Susan Ee

Review: Angelfall by Susan EeAngelfall by Susan Ee
Series: Penryn & the End of Days #1
Published by Hodder & Stoughton on May 23rd 2013
Pages: 325
Genres: Paranormal YA, Young Adult
Source: Purchased myself, Received for review from publishers
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Also in this series: World After

It's been six weeks since the angels of the apocalypse destroyed the world as we know it. Only pockets of humanity remain.

Savage street gangs rule the day while fear and superstition rule the night.

When angels fly away with a helpless girl, her seventeen-year-old sister Penryn will do anything to get her back...

Thoughts: Angelfall has a lot of the typical YA Paranormal story elements to it: it stars a strong female character who can kick ass, features an attractive-yet-deadly paranormal male lead and, of course, there’s the apocalypse. Cliché? Perhaps. But all of these stereotypical YA elements are so well done in Angelfall, I could care less whether or not they are “cliché”.

What makes Angelfall‘s characters so engaging was their complete unwillingness play out their stereotypes. For example, most authors would have written the angel Raffe as a romantic lead striving to avenge his attackers. Instead, he fights tooth-and-nail not to engage in a political war. He also knows full well the consequences of a romantic relationship with a human – and wants none of it. Meanwhile, Penryn, who can be a total badass when she has to be, is far more interested in saving her sister than she is in joining an anti-angel militia. She recognizes that fighting the good fight is a nobel cause but she has other priorities.

These aren’t the last two people you are going to see uniting to save the world. They are going to come to the fight kicking and screaming because, dude, they have far more important shit to be doing. They have lives to live, dammit. Maybe later. It was amazing. 

I also have to give Susan Ee serious kudos for giving me shipper feelings for the first time in months. There was just enough romantic tension in this book to make me eager to see more. Then again, maybe I am just a sucker for angel/human relationships (yes, I have noticed my overwhelming emotional attachment to Supernatural (TV) and Mercy by Rebecca Lim).

I could go on about the world building (solid), the secondary characters (surprisingly well developed), the quality of the writing (simple-but-with-sass), etc. When I first bought this book back in 2011, well before it was ever picked up by a major publishing house, I read reviews praising this book as how YA should be done. “If so many people are looking past the self-publishing aspect,” I thought, “this book must be amazing.” And it was. Simple as that.

And now? Now you can pick it up in paperback. Which is so much better.

Bottom line? Thank GOD I didn’t read this book back in 2011, because the 2 year wait would have killed me. Angelfall is completely worth the hype. Pick it up if you want to rock some old-school paranormal YA.

Review: Scarlet by Marissa Meyer

Review: Scarlet by Marissa MeyerScarlet by Marissa Meyer
Series: Lunar Chronicles #2
Published by Feiwel & Friends, Puffin on February 7th 2013
Pages: 452
Genres: Fairytale Re-tellings, Science Fiction YA, Young Adult
Source: Received for review from publishers
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Also in this series: Cinder, Cress

The fates of Cinder and Scarlet collide as a Lunar threat spreads across the Earth...

Cinder, the cyborg mechanic, returns in the second thrilling installment of the bestselling Lunar Chronicles. She's trying to break out of prison—even though if she succeeds, she'll be the Commonwealth's most wanted fugitive.

Halfway around the world, Scarlet Benoit's grandmother is missing. It turns out there are many things Scarlet doesn't know about her grandmother or the grave danger she has lived in her whole life. When Scarlet encounters Wolf, a street fighter who may have information as to her grandmother's whereabouts, she is loath to trust this stranger, but is inexplicably drawn to him, and he to her.

[Note: I've edited this summary, as the official version has spoilers for the end of the book! #Fail]

Thoughts: It is an absolute TRAGEDY that I am only now writing this review. Tragedy, I say, because Scarlet is everything I’ve ever wanted in a YA novel and you’ve all had months not knowing that. Fortunately, you can go out now and get it. Right now. Go on. I can wait.

Got it? Good. Now we can talk.

You see, I normally have serious issues with the Red Riding Hood retellings. Despite liking Cinder, I had been apprehensive about how the story would play out in Scarlet. But, without spoiling the novel for you, let me just say this: Meyer’s portrayal of Wolf and his pack makes me want to send her gold stars. No really, actual gold stars. If anyone has her address, I’ll send them now. It was genius.

The strength of this book is in its characters: Scarlet‘s heroine is independent but extremely loyal to her family. She’s tough and worldly, but not so hardened by life as to stop loving. She reminds me of Mercy Thompson from Patricia Briggs’ novels – which is quite the compliment, I assure you. As for the Wolf in the tale: he has the right mix of violent-and-distrust-worthy and worthy-of-redemption. So many authors strive to write bad boys and just end up pissing me off. Marissa Meyer, I am happy to report, is not one of those authors. Wolf is a victim in this tale; albeit a victim that can rip your throat out.

Scarlet follows directly on from Cinder and, because of that, it follows more than one POV. This can at times mean serious confusion and reader fatigue… but not in this case. The action was easy to follow and the transitions between narrator only heightened the tension. The only critique I have is that, well, I don’t particularly like Cinder as a character and so wasn’t too interested in what she had to say. Her chapters unfortunately dragged my rating of this book from 5 to 4.5 stars.

Besides my dislike of Cinder’s character, one of my biggest peeves from Cinder was the predictability of the plot – something I am happy to report Scarlet has none of. While I could certainly tell that none of the characters were quite who they said they were, I didn’t know what to expect. Scarlet‘s plot twists and turns had all the oomph I love. There were leaps from moving trains, fights in empty theatres and kidnappings galore – but, best of all, I didn’t see any of them coming.

My goodreads updates for your amusement:

My Goodreads Progress for Scarlet by Marissa Meyer

Bottom line: Scarlet is a brilliant, brilliant book. Even if you weren’t impressed by Cinder, you’ll love it.

 

Review: Ink by Amanda Sun

Review: Ink by Amanda SunInk by Amanda Sun
Series: Paper Gods #1
Published by Harlequin Teen, MIRA on July 5th 2013
Pages: 384
Genres: Paranormal YA, Young Adult
Source: Received for review from publishers
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Katie Greene is lost in the wake of her mum's death. Sent to Japan, she meets gorgeous but aloof artist Tomohiro, whose tough attitude intrigues and scares her. Then things get really strange. When they're near each other, Tomohiro's drawings start to come to life…

Soon the wrong people begin to ask questions, and Katie and Tomohiro must risk everything to protect the truth.

Thoughts: Ink delves into a culture I didn’t even know I wanted to know about. I am not particularly knowledgeable about Japan*, but after reading Ink I felt like I had taken a mini-course in Japanese culture. Somewhat to my surprise, I was rather intrigued!

Ink’s protagonist, Katie, provides the perfect outsider POV on Japan’s culture and mythology. She is the perfect guide into a world filled with kendo, bento boxes and cherry blossoms. Oh, and of course, she introduces us to some pretty brilliant Japanese mythology: the Kami. These “Paper Gods” can control ink, making it into creatures and objects that are completely under their command. It’s pretty awesome – and pretty original.

So, I certainly loved the Japanese setting and mythology of Ink. Katie and her love interest Tomo, however, I could go either way on. I found Katie rather confusing to be honest. At times she seemed really self-conscious… but her actions contradicted that to the point of being reckless. I mean, I love a girl who refuses to sit back and let “her man” protect her… but at the same time, I felt like she wasn’t always doing it for the right reasons. It irked me a bit.

And as for Tomo, I’ve got nothing too positive or negative to say about the guy… he didn’t make a big impression despite him supposedly being a bit of a badass. Also, his relationship with Katie kinda reminded me of that of Kaylee and Nash in the first Soul Screamers book by Rachel Vincent. It’s puppy love and seems rather idiotic from the outside: I only hope they both grow from it and then proceed to grow out of it.

With that said, I thought Amanda’s side-characters rather awesome. I was drawn to Jun (aka Mr. So-going-to-enter-this-love-triangle), Yuki (the obligatory BFF we need to hide things from) and Aunt Diane (whose backstory I would lurve). I’m looking forward to them all getting a heck of a lot of “air time” in the next book!

Bottom line: Ink is a genuinely original YA novel that still feels familiar. If you love your paranormal teen mysteries but you’re sick of their middle-America settings, pick it up.

* Except for their hideous whaling policies and their annual Taiji dolphin slaughter… that I unfortunately know far too much about. *returns to happy thoughts*

Review: With All My Soul by Rachel Vincent

Review: With All My Soul by Rachel VincentWith All My Soul by Rachel Vincent
Series: Soul Screamers #7
Published by Harlequin Teen, MIRA
Pages: 377
Genres: Paranormal YA, Young Adult
Source: Received for review from publishers
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Also in this series: My Soul to Take, My Soul to Save, My Soul to Keep, My Soul to Steal, If I Die, Before I Wake

After spending the last year undead, Kaylee Cavanaugh has had enough of the paranormal creatures who have plagued her ever since she came into her banshee powers. Now she's ready to take her school back from the evil hellions, once and forever.

To protect her friends, Kaylee will need to find a way to turn the living incarnations of Avarice, Envy and Vanity against one another.

Yet when one more person close to her is taken, Kaylee realises she can't save everyone she loves without making some powerful sacrifices...

And so ends the Soul Screamers series. A series that quite genuinely surprised the hell out of me, delivering character development and plot turns that were utterly realistic and yet so rarely seen in the YA genre. Thank you, Rachel Vincent, for giving me a series I didn’t even know I wanted until I had it.

Let me just confirm that With All My Soul wrapped up the Soul Screamers series rather perfectly. Kaylee has spent the past six books two steps behind her enemies, but when things go from terrible to so-much-worse, she knows just reacting to attacks is not going to work. But with hellion demons being pretty much impossible to beat, and with no power or leverage to think of, what’s a girl to do? Vincent set up the perfect storm, and with it delivered the perfect solution. Every bit of Kaylee’s growth as a character culminated into her choices in this book. Book 1 Kaylee, Book 4 Kaylee and even Book 6 Kaylee would not have preserved… I love it when an author actually knows where they want a character to go – and then takes them there flawlessly. So, kudos, Rachel.

So while I loved that the series was tied up with a bow, I didn’t get the same emotional response to With All My Soul that I did from the other Soul Screamer books. Perhaps it was just me, but it felt like a lot of the “Big. Emotional. Scenes.” were ones we’d seen time and time again. Kaylee feels guilty and angsts! Nash lashes out at people who love him with unnecessarily cruel remarks! Tod and Kaylee profess their (literally) undying love! Adults randomly disappear and cause more angst! Sabine is Sabine! FEELS are meant to be HAD!

But not for me. I mean, intellectually, I understood that all of this was “Very. Important.” but it felt like a rehash of the last book, at least in terms of character interaction. Sure, the plot itself was solid, but the only real emotional development came from Kaylee – and even that was more “Oh look, Kaylee is finally stopping to think before blaming herself”. Perhaps that sounds unnecessarily harsh, but even when I enjoyed Kaylee, I could still admit her self-hatred was damn annoying.

Bottom line? This was an excellent wrap-up of a brilliant series. That said, it didn’t pack the emotional punch that I so loved in the other Soul Screamers books.

Want a copy? Click here to enter my giveaway of the book (open worldwide).

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