March 27, 2013

Review: The Adventures of Stanley Delacourt - Book I of Hartlandia by Ilana Waters

Hello there book-a-holics!
I'm here today to talk to you about Ilana Waters' book "The Adventures of Stanley Delacourt".

Stanley is a 10 year old boy who is a librarian in a medieval  kingdom called Hartlandia, in a small town called Meadowwood. His friends, Will, the farm boy and Sophie, the Apothecary also live there. They used to go to school together and hang around, but they ended up being needed at their works and had to drop out, now they only see eachother eventually.

At first, I thought the writing rythm was too slow. I had a hard time picking up and warming up to the book, but it was when I was feeling book blocked, so that may be it. After a while, after the first third or so, I finally got into the story - that's when bad things happen and the adventure properly starts.

I had a hard time believing bad things really happened. I mean, something HAD to happen, or the adventure wouldn't start and we all know adventures would happen - it was "The Adventures of Stanley Delacourt" after all - but it was very sad and being a Bookworm, a Book Lover and a Book-A-Holic, it depressed me to no end. His best friend Will is killed and his Library is burnt t he ground. Please don't judge me for being more depressed about the Library than Will, it's just that I've never really believed he was really dead until the very ending.

Some new rules and regulations come out when the new Ruler, Christopher Siren, takes over, after the King and Queen are off to a diferent country to negotiate on something. Everything is very shady and a bit suspicious but, interestingly enough, no one suspects much. Recess and art classes are cancelled and a curfew is placed but no one is warned of it. And the penalty for disobeying is death. Also, a new Rainbow Rule is set in place, no colors are allowed anymore, outdoors or indoors, on anything man made, so all clothes are shades of grey and dark blue, all very boring.

Stanley sets out on a quest to find out what's going on and confront Siren about Will's death and ends up finding that the world is so much bigger and so much more interesting, that his books were very interesting indeed, but the world was so much more.He always felt like he didn't really belong anywhere, being an orphan and all, but Sophie was an orphan too (or, at least, she got dropped off at the Apothecary's door, so she might as well be) and she stayed put.

It's a fun, but not light, adventure, which can make you think about actual society. Are we questioning the orders we get? Are we trying to build our life the best way we can or are we just following what's been set out for us? What we do has a purpose or are just doing it for useless rewards?

Stanley is very charismatic and we see a real character development with both Stanley and Sophie - they learn more about themselves and more about the world, they grow, even if they are still young, they have more life experience than many grown-ups.

Overall, it's a wonderful book. Aside from my struggle at the beggining, I think it is beautiful, interesting and fun and I'm adding Book #2 to my evergrowing To Be Read pile.

You can buy The Adventures of Stanley Delacourt HERE.

March 04, 2013

Review: Reached - Ally Condie

I actually liked it. Having had a bad experience with series finales lately (Inheritance), I was afraid to read this one and find out that the author had failed to answer most or all of the questions developed during the previous books, but, to my surprise, the end of the Matched series was both surprisingly good and providing closure.

We get back to seeing Cassia, Xander and Ky separated, working on their Rising-assigned works. And then it starts, the rebellion, the Plague.
It's hard to talk about it without spoiling things, but I really liked Cassia's growth, she does finally sort out her feelings and starts understanding emotions - more than words, she finally understands what she feels and how she feels it. Also, she starts understanding creativity instead of worshipping old poems. It's probably harder for her, since she was so society-based before Ky. Also, we find out more about her family and of course, it makes sense, I loved it.
The one thing that I missed was the explanation about The Others and The Otherlands. Really, can we have another book talking about that part of the "Not-Society"? Also, some history. We got the history about the way the Society evolved and formed itself, but was it really just that? It simply evolved?

Aside from that, I liked the whole book. The Rising and the whole thing. Oh, for crying out loud, how am I not to spoil this? I REALLY want to talk about spoiler-y things...

Let's see, let's see. We get more information about the blue and red tablet, also about the Plague, which is the main story in this book, and what was happening with the banquets - little things we didn't notice, but like, in Matched, one girl just didn't have a Match  (blank screen)... And we learn about the red pill and that your memories can be recovered! (omg was that a spoiler?)

Indie's ending was, not being harsh, EXTREMELY disapointing. Like, got me saying out loud "WTF"? Because, well, Indie was an odd character, I was never sure if she was really a friend or not, but I can understand parts of what she did. But that ending? I didn't like it. How could anyone like it?

I think the love triangle was well solved and was quite obvious. Sorry Team Xander, but I think from page 1 it is obvious she's chosen Ky, so I won't even hide that. Xander is well solved, though, he understands himself and others much better than it looked like and can see everything much clearer around the middle and ending of the book.

The ending is sort of bittersweet. I was hoping for something else, like I said, specially about the Otherlands, but I can understand what happened and I can see why it is needed - hopefully, for the best. I could read another book about that world, but with other characters... I like how dystopias like that make you think about your own world and how much that is true - how much of the "rebels" are actually the system trying to make you believe you have a choice, how much of your choices aren't real, how much of the "for your own good" really binds you and makes you defenseless. I could enjoy seeing what that world will become, after the events in the end of the book.

I highly recommend to anyone who likes sci fi, dystopias, love triangles and stories that make you think (or not, since you can take both approaches, I guess).
You can buy Reached here.
You can read my reviews for the previous books here: Matched and Crossed.

From my Crossed review:

Other questions I'd like answered include (but are not limited to):
- Who is The Enemy and how did they become "The Enemy"? Not answered.
- What happened (history-wise) to create the separation between The Society and The Enemy? Not answered.
- What's with that weird Society Employee who told Cassia that they'd put Ky's name on her card? Why did she lie like that? Not answered. And that's one that I really would like to know. But at least we know how the card happened...
- What's with The Rising and what's the connection with The Society? Answered pretty well.
- What's with Xander? Did he know... (spoiler)? Answered. Poor Xander.
- What's happened to the artifacts? Where are the things that were "removed" from The Society? Not answered.
- What's happened to the farmers (sure we know part, but why now?)? Not the why now. Not that I understood anyways (could be because of the Plague?)
- What's happening in The Society? Why it's getting different? Sort of answered, I guess. The Plague.