Book Review – ‘The Crown’ by Kiera Cass

The aloof princess cracks…

The Crown Book Review Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleGenre: Y/A, Dystopian, Science Fiction

No. of pages: 278

From Goodreads:

When Eadlyn became the first princess of Illéa to hold her own Selection, she didn’t think she would fall in love with any of her thirty-five suitors. She spent the first few weeks of the competition counting down the days until she could send them all home. But as events at the palace force Eadlyn even further into the spotlight, she realizes that she might not be content remaining alone.

Eadlyn still isn’t sure she’ll find the fairytale ending her parents did twenty years ago. But sometimes the heart has a way of surprising you…and soon Eadlyn must make a choice that feels more impossible—and more important—than she ever imagined.

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This book is by far the my most favorite of the Selection series. Though the story is not as complex as the initial trilogy, ‘The Crown’ pulled more emotion from me than I expected. It is a guilty pleasure, a soppy romance, and was great escapism.

Its predecessor ‘The Heir’ left me a little despondent, I did not entirely like Eadlyn. She was cold, stuck-up, and a part from moments of a childish temper, fairly flat and boring in nature. But her journey through ‘The Crown’ made her endearing to me. It brought out her caring and compassionate side. The suitors (or bachelors) managed to drag emotions out of her and open her eyes up to the society she is slated to rule.

I was in a little disbelief at the ease in which the men vying for her hand left the competition towards the end, with little theatrics or heartbreak… it felt manufactured. I applaud the inclusion of Ean and Hale’s fate. It came out of left field but added another dynamic and commentary on Illéan society.

There are a few expected plot twists, and many unexpected. It was a nice surprise. As I’ve said about the entire Selection anthology, much of it feels derivative and trope-driven. But if you like a large helping of sugar with your reading this will go down smoothly. Like a B-grade horror film, or a cheesy Hallmark movie, ‘The Crown’ is entertaining and hits the bullseye for its intended market. There’s a heavy dollop of girlie fashion, food, and cute boys to gush over.

I read the book in a day and it was easy to get swept into, especially with storylines and characters we’ve known throughout the series getting involved in the culmination. A fun snippet of nostalgia. It was an effortless read, and only something I’d recommend to staunch fans of this series.

Overall feeling: Sugar-sweet-teen-girl-fantasy

The Crown Book Review Pic 02 by Casey Carlisle

The Crown Book Review Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle

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© Casey Carlisle 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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How do you read so many books?

A question I get asked a lot, but in truth, I could be reading much more.

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I had a little think about the secret to roaring through that TBR pile… and here’s the answer:

How do you read so many books Pic 02 by Casey CarlisleThe simplest answer is mood reading. I only ever pick up books that I get excited about after reading the blurb, that I am keen to crack the cover and start to discover the world within. If after a short way in, my attention wains, I put it back on the shelf for another time.

How do you read so many books Pic 03 by Casey CarlisleAnother aspect is that I read about an hour every day. It’s a part of my routine. At the end of the day, curled up in bed, reading for a while helps calm my mind so I can relax into sleep. I used to suffer insomnia terribly, but reading has helped immensely. Sometimes it can work against me, especially if the novel is enthralling… but that only adds to the excitement. Like I’m being naughty staying up late to read a book. Crap – I’m such a nerd.

Long row of colorful library books isolated on white backgroundI vary the genre as well. A diet of only romance or YA will eventually lead to becoming bored. You’ve read it all before… So I mix it up as much as I can. Heck I’ve even read a textbook.

 

Reading Kindle on a trainWhen I lived in the city, I was always that girl on the train or tram with her head in a book – that’s an extra hour or more a day to indulge in my favourite past time. At the airport, at the dentist or doctors waiting room, I don’t miss an opportunity when some downtime presents itself… without being antisocial.

How do you read so many books Pic 06 by Casey CarlisleThere is always a book in my handbag. And if by some random momentary lapse I forget to slip it in as I leave the house, there are many titles to choose from on my phone e-reader.

I’m not lying about all day, every day with my nose between the pages. I have a life to live too. Whenever someone comments at the volume of novels I get through, they seriously think I’m a lady of leisure, sipping tea on the couch reading romance novels… gag me that’s infuriating. I can’t believe there is still a stigma that reading equals lazy, and no life goals. We read to learn, to escape, to be entertained.

What are your best reading habits?

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© Casey Carlisle 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Book Review – ‘Red Rising’ by Pierce Brown

Being a Martian is difficult.

Red Rising Book Review Pic 01 by Casey Carlisle.jpgGenre: Science Fiction

No. of pages: 382

From Goodreads:

“I live for the dream that my children will be born free,” she says. “That they will be what they like. That they will own the land their father gave them.”

“I live for you,” I say sadly.

Eo kisses my cheek. “Then you must live for more.”

Darrow is a Red, a member of the lowest caste in the color-coded society of the future. Like his fellow Reds, he works all day, believing that he and his people are making the surface of Mars livable for future generations.

Yet he spends his life willingly, knowing that his blood and sweat will one day result in a better world for his children.

But Darrow and his kind have been betrayed. Soon he discovers that humanity already reached the surface generations ago. Vast cities and sprawling parks spread across the planet. Darrow—and Reds like him—are nothing more than slaves to a decadent ruling class.

Inspired by a longing for justice, and driven by the memory of lost love, Darrow sacrifices everything to infiltrate the legendary Institute, a proving ground for the dominant Gold caste, where the next generation of humanity’s overlords struggle for power. He will be forced to compete for his life and the very future of civilization against the best and most brutal of Society’s ruling class. There, he will stop at nothing to bring down his enemies… even if it means he has to become one of them to do so.

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I’ve owned ‘Red Rising’ (well, the whole trilogy) for a while, but have only just started reading it after a number of rave book reviews popping up on my feed to remind me why I bought this collection in the first place. While an amazing story, at the beginning I was resistant to the narrative. There is a lot of information to process, and the writing style feels dry, or sparse, making it hard to connect with our protagonist, Darrow. ‘Red Rising’ read like an institutionalised Lord of the Flies on a futuristic Mars. Brutal.

Darrow is a complex protagonist, but there is something hinted at in the narrative, at to how his destiny is shaped the way it is, but not revealed. I think this is a major part that stopped me from truly connecting with him. The novel is full of puppet masters pulling strings – and Darrow is ultimately just another pawn. I never felt his motivations and actions were truly his own. But I love an underdog story, someone fighting against insurmountable odds, so I was invested in his story though not truly convinced by his convictions.

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The friendships formed – especially in the school, were barbarous and endearing. I see it in my best friend and his buddies that were in the S.A.S. together, there is a certain type of connection that is formed on the battlefield that nothing can break, and others will not truly understand. Piece Brown captured that comradery perfectly.

There are a few things about the society and its technology that puzzle me in the face of human nature. Such as the role carvers (doctors) play and how malleable the body, and its genetics can be. They are truly playing God… and from the hierarchy and accounts of the ruling factions they pretty much are, but this aspect did not seem to be explored as far as I think it would be naturally with such a powerful instrument to play with.

The politics, however is an intricate web and blindsided me on a number of occasions. I think this, and the battle scenes are the best parts of the novel.

I may have rated ‘Red Rising’ higher, because it is truly a tremendous tale, but if not for my issues connecting with the writing style, and near boredom through two thirds of the novel. But aside from that, it is a magnificent book that others may find outstanding. The writing style was sparse, dry, distinctly masculine. Even though the protagonist is male, something about the narrative made it difficult for me to immerse myself into the Martian landscape. I was frequently putting the book down for a rest or lack of interest. The last third of the novel, however, is an entirely different creature. The pacing is gripping, and so is the plot with all its twists and turns. The cast start to show their true colours and get tested… I was truly riveted and could not put the book down. The only thing that kept my persistence in the beginning was that I had heard so many wonderful things from friends about this series and kept telling myself that it will get better… any time now… any time… and finally it did.

I think there is so much to set up for this series to work, the world building, the motivations, the politics, that it takes some time to get its legs. That didn’t bode well for this debut, but promises that the following two books in this trilogy should be amazing. That’s what I am hoping for anyway.

The main purpose of ‘Red Rising’ is easily predictable – it has to be to continue on to the second and third in the series, but the journey there was not. There were some minor points that I had been spoiled from my friends, but they confirmed what I thought as I was reading, but did not detract from the enjoyment near the end. I still got shocked and horrified. It’s a great story, but because of the issues I had with the writing style, did not get emotionally invested. Had I been sucked in, I think ‘Red Rising’ would have brought all the feels.

On a side note, I found elements of this society synonymous to that of the Japanese yaoi ‘Ai No Kusabi’ (minus the sexual nature of the anime.) This book has also been optioned to be turned into a movie. I’d be interested to see how this series will be treated… maybe it will fix the issues of pacing because there wouldn’t be the need for pages and pages of explanations. And I can just imagine the special effects! No news has come through on the development of this project as yet, but I am certainly keeping my eyes peeled. Additionally, Pierce Brown is starting a new series in this universe, with the first novel ‘Iron Gold’ due for release in January 2018. It’s all so exciting!

I think I’ll reserve judgement on whether or not I’d recommend this novel until I’ve finished the trilogy because there are so many unexplained elements that worried my brow…

Overall feeling: Huh?…. OH! *lightbulb*

Red Rising Book Review Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle

 

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© Casey Carlisle 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.