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.

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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.

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[A Quickie Review] The 5th Wave (Movie)

Having not read The 5th Wave, I think the movie was decent. It started off good with its singular perspective and detailed explanation of the first four waves. However, this quickly changed as the movie shifted from an alien invasion story to a hybrid apocalyptic dystopian story. The glaring shift occurred when the movie suddenly went from singular perspective to dual perspective with no logical explanation or gradual transition. Once the second perspective was introduced, the plot’s tempo increased until clarity and sensible progression were dismissed for drama and action scenes. Just as soon as love interests were introduced  they were taken out with the half-baked excuse of self-sacrifice in the name of love. (And potential love interests were inserted in their place.) As soon as Cassie reunited with her brother she promptly declared to Ben that they had to save all the other children, the same as every other female lead in a dystopian story. Obviously, this closes the movie while simultaneously leaving an opening for a sequel.

While the aforementioned only shows me ragging on The 5th Wave, I did enjoy Cassie’s commitment to reuniting with her brother (when she had multiple opportunities to just give up) and I’m a romantic so I totally fell for the moments between Evan and Cassie even though the movie provided no concrete evidence for their “relationship.”

Sorry to those who read the book and sat through this movie, you must be disappointed. I know the main reason I (sort of) enjoyed it was because I wasn’t expecting anything from it.

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