Tag Archive | YA fantasy

The Thief: Book Review

There’s a lot of buzz circulating about the Queen’s Thief series by Megan Whalen Turner. Although I enjoyed the first book, The Thief, it very much seemed a simple opening act to a far larger, grander story, so I am looking forward to reading the next book in the series. Many YA fantasy series tend to take off from Greek and Roman culture and mythology, so I can’t say this series is very unique in that aspect, but the narration is done well to the point that once one finishes the story, one wants to go back and analyze it from the beginning. As a whole, the world of the series is well defined, which helps aid the slow pace of the story. The pacing is probably the most troubling aspect. Nothing “happens” for long periods of time, but, again, in going back, one would realize a lot happened, or, at least, a lot of information was given. The problem is that many readers may give up far before the ending, but as the series as a whole is getting a lot of good buzz and recommendations, I think that was a risk the author was willing to take.

This book reminds me of a similar tale regarding the narration called The False Prince by  Jennifer A. Nielsen. That book also has some trouble with keeping the energy up, but is well plotted.

Spoilers:

Both series involve unreliable narrators and both use that element well. It’s annoying when such narration is used, but there’s no “twist in the tale,” as they say (see my review of Here Lies Daniel Tate). Both stories are also smaller openings in a much wider story. Starting out simple and building is a great way to build an audience at the same time. I tend to like jump starting the deeper plot aspects right away, but there is nothing so satisfying as a slow burn of a tale and The Thief is that.

Six of Crows: Refreshing

I’ve been a bit delinquent on posting, but I’ve been working on Trolls for Dust 2, getting out of a bit of slump. This summer has been crazy busy with work and family things, so I’ve struggled finding the time to let my brain slow down enough to be creative and also to keep up energy at the same time. More sleep helps, but takes up time. In between, I’ve been able to spend ten or fifteen minutes here or there reading the competition. YA fantasy/sci-fi lit right now is…well, I’m seeing a lot of sameness, something to take note of as I continue my own series.

It’s inevitable, something like Twilight or the Hunger Games becomes popular, so similar stories are pushed through and encouraged by publishers, authors, everyone all around, and pretty soon we are in a glut and a rut and feeling genre-ed out! In browsing the shelves, I see a lot of space fantasy/romance plots (speaking of which, I read the first book in one series that was good, a sort of Titanic in space with a space ship crashing on a planet. Sadly the name of the book escapes me. It is a series, but I didn’t read the second installment as it didn’t follow the same couple), a lot of fairy tale-inspired series, still some dystopian themes, and still some paranormal. A lot of the current series involve swordplay, and I like that, but nothing really stands out to me at the moment. Enter, Six of Crows.

Of Leigh Bardugo’s Grisha series, I only read book one, but enjoyed it, especially the world having a whole Russian feel to it, but I didn’t read the rest of the trilogy. At first in spotting Six of Crows on the display, I didn’t realize it was set in the same world. Now, as I’m finally getting around to reading it, I’m delighted to find it is set in the same world, and in a setting now resembling Amsterdam mixed in again with Russian and Finnish-inspired countries. Reading the book is a treat because it is an once fantastically strange and also unsettlingly familiar.

I’m only on page 120 or so, and Six has me hooked. I think Bardugo’s writing has improved greatly–not that it was bad before–and her metaphors are used appropriately and sparingly (at least compared to other YA books). Her characters are well-realized and are basically a bunch of ruffians and down-and-outers. The character piece is definitely Kaz, a Ketterdam gang leader with a bum leg who gets propositioned to commit a heist and rounds up the perfect team to help him. I know these days, we like to drone on and on about character, and I think Bardugo writers her characters well, but what stands out to me with this book is: The Plot. Yes, the plot. However Bardugo came up with the idea to set a heist in a fantasy world, I don’t know, but at this time in YA fiction, it’s genius. By only the plot, Six stands on its own, refreshing in its unique plot. ¬†Any romance, any angst or tortured souls, are at best a side to the heist plot and I love it. This book gives me hope for the future of YA fantasy. The plot is clever, as is the dialogue, the world-building is fantastic, and the writing keeps you reading and wanting more.

It’s been awhile since I’ve liked a YA book this much. The last couple I liked were the Monster Blood Tattoo series by D.M. Cornish, and time travel thriller All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill, both of which stood out greatly from the other books on the shelf at the time. I can’t wait to see what Leigh Bardugo comes up with next and am even hoping she continues to use the same world.