Stuck in an Elevator: The Network Series

Premise: Imagine you’re in a particular standalone or series world and absolutely had to be (because no one ever wants to be) stuck in an elevator with a character from that universe. Who would you most like to be in the elevator with? Why? What would it look like?

Book/Series: The Network Series

Person: Derek Black or Stella

Miss Mabel's School for Girls book cover

Aside: For this to work, I couldn’t be living in The Network Series universe – because of the lack of modern technology. However, I couldn’t live in our current reality either – because of the lack of magic. For this to work, I would need to live in a realm with modern technology and where magic was present, but not everyone had magical capabilities. Kinda like the Harry Potter universe except less magic and no wands.

Reason: I’d rather be stuck in an elevator with Derek Black, Bianca’s father, because of how powerful he is supposed to be. Katie Cross writes Derek as a very powerful witch so he should be able to transport us out of the elevator onto one of the nearby floors without any problems.

However, if Derek wasn’t powerful enough to transport both of us out of the elevator, I would want to be stuck with Stella. Stella is known for her calming nature during tense situations so I feel like she’d be able to calm me down until we got out.

Possible Interaction: I’m not sure what either of these scenarios would look like, but I’m sure it would include them mumbling spells under their breath and me impatiently waiting to be released from the elevator.

War of the Networks by Katie Cross

War of the Networks book cover

War of the Networks (The Network Series #4)

Katie Cross

Rate: 3

Twenty-seven chapters in this book and I’m going to focus on one scene towards the end of the book: the final showdown.

Fighting gif

Throughout the series, Cross has positioned Bianca as a fierce, strong witch. With each book, Bianca’s physical and magical abilities increase and her knowledge of Miss Mabel’s behavior increases. At the same time, Cross positions Binncn’s dad, Derek, as the most powerful witch in all the Networks. Both seem capable of defeating Miss Mabel and yet at the end of the series, the secondary character (Derek) gets all the glory. And in a lackluster battle too.

I wanted a more epic final battle. I wouldn’t have minded Bianca’s dad beginning the fight, but I don’t think he should have been the one to finish Miss Mabel. I think Derek should have fought Miss Mabel to the point of exhaustion and right when it appeared that Miss Mabel was about to strike the finishing blow, Bianca would have appeared in front of her father and blocked the shot. Then, she would have moved out of the defensive into the offensive and brought her sword down like Sailor Saturn’s Silence Glaive decimating Miss Mabel.

Sailor Saturn gif

That’s the ending to the series we deserved. But that’s not what we got.
Cross allowed Bianca her baby showdown with Miss Mabel while still placing her in the shadow of her father’s greatness. Why create a capable protagonist if you’re not going to use her?

War of the Networks wasn’t bad. I just wanted better.

The High Priest’s Daughter By Katie Cross

The high priest’s daughter book cover

The High Priest’s Daughter (The Network Series #3)

Katie Cross

Rate: 3

What was this book about again? What happened? I don’t remember. That’s how memorable it is. If I told you what I did remember, I’d be spoiling the ending for you.

This book focuses on events occurring throughout the Central Network and along its borders that are bringing the network closer to war. During this time, Bianca mentally feuds with Angelina, the villain of this book, while physically doing nothing different. Bianca basically exhibits the same actions day in and day out until the end of the book. You’ll read a lot of words, but the story doesn’t progress much. I guess Cross is going for a more realistic timeline without many time jumps, but it makes the story drawn out.

The High Priest’s Daughter isn’t boring, but there isn’t much to gush about either. 

Antebellum Awakening by Katie Cross

Antebellum Awakening book cover

Antebellum Awakening (The Network Series #2)

Katie Cross

Rate: 2.5

It’s been awhile since I read Miss Mabel’s School for Girls, but Cross does a good job of providing snippets of information to remind the reader what happened – Bianca and Miss Mabel engage in a Mactos (a magical fight) and Bianca’s mother ends up dead. Once the background is established and we get to the meat of Antebellum Awakening, I soon realize that the story isn’t going to continue on this interesting swing. Overall, Antebellum Awakening is boring and only gets interesting in the last three chapters. The story is predictable and Bianca exhibits the same self destructive behavior over and over which makes her an annoying protagonist. The story accurately takes on the pace of someone grieving the loss of a parent, but this doesn’t make for an interesting read.

My Likes

  • Romance: It would have been so easy for Cross to commit the cliche and have Bianca fall for her instructor Merrick, but she maintains a professional relationship between the two. I’m sure this will change as the series progresses, but it’s refreshing that they don’t fall into insta-love.

  • Showdown: Cross knows how to write a showdown scene. Similar to Miss Mabel’s School for Girls, Bianca and Miss Mabel engage in a fight. The battle is interesting and doesn’t seem repetitive at all – then again it’s been some time since I read the first book so maybe I just don’t realize that the scenes are similar, but I’m going to hope they’re different.

My Dislikes

  • Bianca: Like I briefly mentioned above, I didn’t like Bianca because of her behavior. She acted in ways that prevented her growth and that was very repetitive. This book would have been a whole lot shorter if Bianca didn’t keep exhibiting the same regressive behavior. But I guess that was the point: to lengthen the book and express someone going through the grieving process. It was annoying though.

  • Predictability: There’s really no big twist in Antebellum Awakening. I don’t know if Cross intended there to be some shocking moments, but the story is very predictable. I could see all the big decisions and actions coming from a mile away.

Overall, Antebellum Awakening is a decent story: boring and annoying at times and interesting in the end.

The Queen of Hearts Backstory You Didn’t Know You Wanted: Heartless By Marissa Meyer

Heartless By Marissa Meyer book cover
Heartless

Marissa Meyer

Rate: 4

I’ve never read the original Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland so I’m not sure if or how much Lewis Carroll goes into the backstory of the Queen of Hearts so I’m not completely sure if Heartless is a retelling or not. Nonetheless, the story is good. I enjoyed watching Catherine’s descent into madness and I knew she had truly arrived when she began thinking “Off with his head.” A Queen of Hearts isn’t a Queen of Hearts until beheading is involved. Anyway, Heartless totally fits the Wonderland universe, at least in my knowledge of the animated and live action movie, and I totally believe these events could have been the actions leading up to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

“I reject the jury’s verdict,” she seethed. “As the Queen of Hearts, I declare this man guilty. Guilty of murder. Guilty of thievery and kidnapping and all the rest, and for his sentence – I call for his head. To be carried out immediately.”

Off with his head gif

“For the murder of Jest, the court joker of Hearts, I sentence this man to death.” She spoke without feeling, unburdened by love or dreams or the pain of a broken heart. It was a new day in Hearts, and she was the Queen.

“Off with his head.”

The Queen of Oz by Danielle Paige

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The Queen of Oz (Dorothy Must Die #0.9)

Danielle Paige

Rate: 2

The Queen of Oz tells the story of how Pete came to be. Let me save you about 80 pages of reading: Mombi is entrusted with the task of protecting and hiding baby Ozma so she decides to perform a transformation spell that goes wrong and turns Ozma into a boy, Pete. I don’t know why this detail couldn’t be added to the main story, but I guess since writing is a business, when you have the opportunity to write more and make more money, you do it, right?

The main thing I learned from The Queen of Oz isn’t even Dorothy Must Die specific: adults and teenagers need better lines of communication. Ozma wouldn’t have wound up in Glinda’s clutches if Mombi had been more open with Pete and Pete hadn’t succumbed to his “woe is me” hormones. Mombi didn’t have to immediately tell Pete his true identity, but she could have made it clear that there was danger. She also could have told him more about Oz and its political and social structure. I also think it would have been less suspicious to the general public if Mombi had let Pete out more instead of hiding him away. I think Pete would have helped the situation if instead of jumping to the conclusion that Mombi hated and resented him, he was more reasonable. There could be plenty of reasons why Mombi kept Pete isolated, but Pete figures that she wants free labor. Also, instead of trying to communicate with Mombi, Pete decides to run away, like how predictable. All over some chance encounter with a guy, how boring. This all shows that adults have to be more open with teenagers and teenagers can’t behave like the children they don’t want to be mistaken for.

Anyway, back to the novella. Unless your in the mood for an interlude of teen angst, don’t bother.

Dark Side of the Rainbow By Danielle Paige

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Dark Side of the Rainbow (Dorothy must Die #0.8)

Danielle Paige

Rate: 1.5

You’re likely to DNF this novella. I’m just being honest. I probably would have if it wasn’t for the fact that I’ve been following this series so closely and wanted to provide a more informed review of the novella. The main problem I had with Dark Side of the Rainbow is how drawn out, dry, and boring it is. The story doesn’t get interesting until the last 10-15 pages, which means the story is about 75% filler.

Dark Side of the Rainbow tells the story of Dorothy’s interaction with Polychrome and how Rainbow Falls became a hidden kingdom in the sky. Like every other novella where Dorothy tries to interact with someone, she shows up and fucks shit up. In Dark Side of the Rainbow, Dorothy travels to Rainbow Falls with the intention of learning how to use fairy magic from Polychrome, but when Polly refuses to teach Dorothy, Dorothy decides that she will not tolerate any disobedience and decides she will destroy Rainbow Falls and kill Polychrome. But Dorothy underestimates Polly and is shown the door, even though Rainbow Falls has sustained substantial damage.

I’m really making this novella sound more exciting than it actually is.

Even with the showdown between Dorothy and Polly and a sort of explanation as to why Rainbow Falls is hidden in the sky, I’m still left with some questions:

Who the hell is Bright? And where the hell did he come from?

Paige gives Polly a love interest with no background as to who he is, where his from, or what his intentions are. To make matters worse, Bright appears and disappears from Polly’s life at will, which is very suspicious. Like, where is he going? And why does he keep coming back? WHAT ARE HIS INTENTIONS?

Overall, Dark Side of the Rainbow is a strong pass. This whole series is turning out to be a strong pass.  wlEmoticon-rainbow.png

Fairy Tale Retelling: Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

 

Throne of Glass book cover

Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass Series #1)

Sarah J. Maas

Rate: 3

Ok, so this review isn’t going to be as good as my other reviews for two reasons:

  1. It’s been so long since I read Throne of Glass.
  2. I binge read all the books (currently) in the series so they’re kind of blurring together in my mind.

But I’m going to write this review anyway because Throne of Glass is part of my Fairy Tale Retelling series.

My Likes and Dislikes

The Main Thing I Liked About Throne of Glass

  • Celaena: Celaena is the strong, sarcastic heroine I want in a YA novel. She has her moments when she can be annoying and gets caught up in romance, but for the most part, her focus is on obtaining her freedom, at any cost. I also liked Celaena’s girly moments when she’s dressing up and building her friendship with Nehemia. Who says a person can’t be an assassin and still like shiny, girly things?

The Main Thing I Disliked About Throne of Glass

  • Romance: I’ll be honest here; after reading the other books in the Throne of Glass series, I can barely remember Celaena and Dorian’s relationship. All I know is that deep in my gut I didn’t like the two of them together. I can’t remember if I didn’t like it because it felt forced or the whole romance was unnecessary, but I didn’t like it. And if Maas had to include a romance, shouldn’t the assassin be with someone better than the weak prince?

Connection to Cinderella

Similar to previous retelling posts, Throne of Glass will be compared to the Disney version of the fairy tale.

Disney's Cinderella book cover

However, Throne of Glass was a bust as a fairy tale retelling, especially Cinderella. There was no evil stepmother, no evil stepsisters, no identifying the girl with a piece of clothing, and no happily ever after with the prince. The closest Throne of Glass got to Cinderella was when Celaena’s handmaid helped her get ready for the ball and said she felt like a fairy god mother. If you have to explicitly state your connection to a fairy tale, then you’re doing something wrong? If you’re looking for a Cinderella retelling, then you should skip this series because it’s not going to satisfy you. Try Gilded Ashes by Rosamund Hodge instead. However, if you’re looking for a fantasy story, then try Throne of Glass. The first book (this one I’m reviewing) isn’t great, but the series definitely picks up.

Add to your Goodreads | Buy on Amazon

 

The Infinite Sea – Rick Yancey

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The Infinite Sea (The 5th Wave #2)

Rick Yancey

Rate: 2.5

I didn’t enjoy the Infinite Sea like I did the 5th Wave. The writing was still great, but the story did not grip me and engage me like the first book did. I think the main thing I did not like was the point of views. I don’t mind stories with various POVs; I just didn’t like the perspectives I received in the Infinite Wave.

**Warning: Minor Spoilers Ahead**

POVs

  • Poundcake: Unless Yancey intended to kill off both Poundcake and Evan, there was no reason to provide Poundcake’s POV. Yancey could have left the story of the hotel explosion unknown until Evan rejoined Cassie and the others and told them what happened. Yes, it wouldn’t have been as detailed as Poundcake’s POV, but it would’ve been better than inserting a perspective just to take it away. The perspective added details, but it didn’t further the story.
  • Ringer: Majority, like 90%, of the story was told in Ringer’s POV. Again, the writing was good so her perspective wasn’t dull, but it didn’t entertain me like Cassie and Ben’s perspectives in the first book. Plus, Ringer’s story didn’t seem to be going anywhere. She spent the whole time trying to find the answer to a question I can’t even remember, but never finding it. It felt like she spent the whole book thinking in circles and never coming close to an answer, or at least a way to escape.

Romance

What was Yancey trying to create between Razor and Ringer? Their “romance” didn’t make sense and went against Ringer’s established personality. Ringer is supposed to be cold and stoic, but she falls for a guy whose grandma had a yippie dog? Sorry, does not compute.

Overall, the writing of the Infinite Sea was good, but the content was lacking. Yancey could have explored the 5th Wave universe more than having Ringer attempt to find out if the Others are really aliens and not coming to a definitive conclusion. For the most part, it felt like Yancey wrote the Infinite Sea in hopes that it would be adapted into a movie and so that he could develop the 5th Wave universe more. For example, some of the scenes seemed more action-movie-like than how a regular person would react in that situation. I think that took away from the quality of the story.

Side note: Can we stop having characters use the phrase “the/an infinite sea”? It’s annoying and redundant. I get that it is the title of the book, and I see what you did there, but after the second time, it’s annoying.

The 5th Wave – Rick Yancey

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The 5th Wave (The 5th Wave #1)

Rick Yancey

Rate: 4

First of all, the 5th wave is the first audiobook I’ve ever listened to. I don’t think I could have picked a better first book. Phoebe Strole and Brandon Espinoza did an amazing job narrating and bringing the story to life. I liked and enjoyed the telling of the 5th wave more than I liked the movie.

I also enjoyed the multiple perspectives. I don’t think all of them were necessary, but I did like Cassie’s and Ben’s POVs. Through Cassie’s POV, I was able to learn about both the physical and emotional devastation of each wave. Each wave killed millions to billions of people, but each time it also took away a bit of emotional stability and safety. Cassie had to go through life questioning who she could trust, and if life was worth living, if she was all alone, and if keeping a promise was worth all the physical and emotional obstacles she had to face. Through Ben’s POV, I was able to see what it was like to be molded and manipulated by the others and slowly come to the realization that you aren’t on the side of the war you thought you were on. Ben tried his hardest to be Zombie, but he couldn’t kill off all of his Ben mannerisms. I think this is what made it so hard for Ben to accept he had been manipulated by the others: Zombie was an obedient soldier who didn’t want to see fault in his commanding officers, Ben was a teenager who couldn’t deny that things didn’t add up – the technology, the base, the kids – unless they were being controlled by the others.

I could have done without the Cassie-Evan romance. Yes, I fell for parts of it, but I couldn’t get past the predator-prey dynamic of the relationship. You have to be a special type of woman to swoon at being compared to and called a mayfly. Sorry, but I prefer guys to view me as an equal, as human, not some bug to be crushed. But I guess if a woman can fall for and marry a guy who admits to being addicted to her blood and wanting to kill her, a gal can enjoy being the bug to his boot. I guess I’m just weird for wanting something different.

All in all, I enjoyed the 5th wave. However, I think this is, in part, due to the narration; it really brought the story to life. I don’t know if I’d have liked the book as much in my own mental voice. I don’t know if I would have appreciated the different perspectives if I had read the text. Though I can say this experience has made me more open to trying more audiobooks. They won’t replace the pleasure of reading, but I won’t actively avoid them either.