To intro a bit, these are the new version of “Books I’m Never Reviewing”. I kept feeling like the connotation was that I wasn’t fond of said books, when often, quite the opposite was true. Also, the name was clunky. The bottom line is this: These are considered legitimate reviews by absolutely no one. Why? I don’t feel like it, nor do I have to. But apparently, my ego dictates that I still think you care whether I liked them and/or I feel like shouting about them. And so, I shall.

Warcross by Marie Lu
Series: Warcross #1
on September 12, 2017
Pages: 353
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For the millions who log in every day, Warcross isn’t just a game—it’s a way of life.

The obsession started ten years ago and its fan base now spans the globe, some eager to escape from reality and others hoping to make a profit. Struggling to make ends meet, teenage hacker Emika Chen works as a bounty hunter, tracking down Warcross players who bet on the game illegally. But the bounty hunting world is a competitive one, and survival has not been easy. To make some quick cash, Emika takes a risk and hacks into the opening game of the international Warcross Championships—only to accidentally glitch herself into the action and become an overnight sensation.

Convinced she’s going to be arrested, Emika is shocked when instead she gets a call from the game’s creator, the elusive young billionaire Hideo Tanaka, with an irresistible offer. He needs a spy on the inside of this year’s tournament in order to uncover a security problem . . . and he wants Emika for the job. With no time to lose, Emika’s whisked off to Tokyo and thrust into a world of fame and fortune that she’s only dreamed of. But soon her investigation uncovers a sinister plot, with major consequences for the entire Warcross empire.

So this was good, but it also reminded me a lot of ArenaSo while I enjoyed the story, suffice it to say I wasn’t totally blown away. Still, the characters were quite good, and I will definitely read Wildcard, which I have been telling myself since June so that’s where we are now. Good, but not rushing-to-the-sequel good. But I am high key counting on the sequel to be awesome, so…

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The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein by Kiersten White
Published by Delacorte Press on September 25, 2018
Pages: 304
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Elizabeth Lavenza hasn't had a proper meal in weeks. Her thin arms are covered with bruises from her "caregiver," and she is on the verge of being thrown into the streets . . . until she is brought to the home of Victor Frankenstein, an unsmiling, solitary boy who has everything--except a friend.

Victor is her escape from misery. Elizabeth does everything she can to make herself indispensable--and it works. She is taken in by the Frankenstein family and rewarded with a warm bed, delicious food, and dresses of the finest silk. Soon she and Victor are inseparable.

But her new life comes at a price. As the years pass, Elizabeth's survival depends on managing Victor's dangerous temper and entertaining his every whim, no matter how depraved. Behind her blue eyes and sweet smile lies the calculating heart of a girl determined to stay alive no matter the cost . . . as the world she knows is consumed by darkness.

Honestly this was a bit of a letdown. It didn’t suck, but it was slow. And for a short book that was supposed to be dark AF… how you being slow?! And it was dark, but in more of a depressing sense than an urgent one. Also everyone is awful. That’s right, every character is garbage for the most part, and if you aren’t garbage… you’re likely not long for this world. Thing is, I did expect the characters to be awful of course, because of the subject, but I had hoped for a more nuanced awful, if that makes sense? But I was sad that this didn’t work better for me.

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The Surface Breaks by Louise O'Neill
Published by Scholastic on May 3, 2018
Pages: 320
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Deep beneath the sea, off the cold Irish coast, Gaia is a young mermaid who dreams of freedom from her controlling father. On her first swim to the surface, she is drawn towards a human boy. She longs to join his carefree world, but how much will she have to sacrifice? What will it take for the little mermaid to find her voice?

Hans Christian Andersen's original fairy tale is reimagined through a searing feminist lens, with the stunning, scalpel-sharp writing and world building that has won Louise her legions of devoted fans. A book with the darkest of undercurrents, full of rage and rallying cries: storytelling at its most spellbinding.

So, it conveys a cool message about the patriarchy, with Louise O’Neill’s gorgeous writing, but it didn’t pull me in quite as much as some of her other books. Not bad by any means, but when I am comparing it to Only Ever Yours or Asking For ItThe Surface Breaks can’t help but fall short. The plot moves pretty slowly, and I didn’t ever fall in love with any of the characters. I sympathized, yes, but on a more surface level (pun not intended, but it isn’t false either). Still worth a read, and still worth owning for the gorgeous cover and feminist awesomeness alone.

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Blackfish City by Sam J. Miller
Published by Ecco on April 17, 2018
Pages: 328
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After the climate wars, a floating city is constructed in the Arctic Circle, a remarkable feat of mechanical and social engineering, complete with geothermal heating and sustainable energy. The city’s denizens have become accustomed to a roughshod new way of living, however, the city is starting to fray along the edges—crime and corruption have set in, the contradictions of incredible wealth alongside direst poverty are spawning unrest, and a new disease called “the breaks” is ravaging the population.

When a strange new visitor arrives—a woman riding an orca, with a polar bear at her side—the city is entranced. The “orcamancer,” as she’s known, very subtly brings together four people—each living on the periphery—to stage unprecedented acts of resistance. By banding together to save their city before it crumbles under the weight of its own decay, they will learn shocking truths about themselves.

Blackfish City is a remarkably urgent—and ultimately very hopeful—novel about political corruption, organized crime, technology run amok, the consequences of climate change, gender identity, and the unifying power of human connection.

I have no idea what this even was, tbh. I buddy read this with Olivia @ Olivia’s Catastrophe, which is good because it motivated me to keep going. The world building was impressive, the inclusion and diversity outstanding, but the story itself? You got me. You can tell that the author put a lot of time and thought and love into this, that shows. But between a very slow moving (and at times, info-dumpy plot) and a heap of confusion (which, in all likelihood, was a consequence of me being bored by the info-dumping and not paying as close attention, I won’t lie), I just couldn’t get into this one. But the author has a ton of promise, so that’s the good news- I will give his next book a try.

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Have you read any of these? Ever suggest people buy a book at least partially for the cover? 

Posted September 14, 2018 by Shannon @ It Starts at Midnight in Quasi-Review, Review / 15 Comments

15 responses to “Inarticulate Book Musings: More Recent Reads

  1. Hey I’ve read some of these. 🙂 Warcross I think I liked a little more but I did have some issues with it, specifically Hideo at the end. I did like the team dynamics and the actual game sessions.

    The Dark Descent I’m probably skipping so… yeah.

    Ah Blackfish city. We meet again lol. The world building is pretty much there, I agree, but the story itself… and the info dumpyness… yeah I had issues. Which you already know. Nice though that you’re willing to try this author again! See I don’t know if I would? Maybe, would depend on reviews I guess. But yeah the writing was good, from a craft standpoint… I just didn’t love the story enough, sadly.

    • The thing with Warcross is, had I read it before Arena, I’d have probably liked it a lot more- but it is seriously a VERY similar premise, so. It DOES get different toward the end, whcih is why I have hope for Wildcard!

      Yeah um, skip it. Honestly there are WAY better darker books out there.

      Blackfish City, which I swore I wasn’t reviewing but… I had to at least a little! I WOULD try him again, mostly because I could see how much passion and love he puts into his books and I feel like that in itself is a big deal? But it would depend on reviews, I agree!

  2. The Surface Breaks is so pretty but I’ve heard quite negative reviews on it. I was super excited to read it when I first heard about it, but I’m not so sure anymore! Also: perfect GIF for that one haha!

  3. ohhHHhhh noooo I have Elizabeth Frankenstein in my basket to buy because I LOVED AND I DARKEN but I also don’t love slow books. Mind you And I Darken was slow?! But depressing books are also disappointing. However it it maintains being super dark I do want to try. (Shh I don’t know what this says about me. 😂) I also have The Surface Breaks! Purely on cover lust! I need to hurry up and read it.😂

  4. I do love Frankenstein but I must admit I haven’t felt inclined to pick up The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein – I do want to give And I Darken a try at some point, though! You’re not the first person I’ve seen to give a pretty mixed review of The Surface Breaks which is a shame; that cover is gorgeous and I love the sound of a feminist re-imagining of The Little Mermaid, but I’d also like some more happy feminist stories? I don’t know, I guess with everything that’s been going on in the news this past year I don’t want to have to suffer through the patriarchy in the novels I’m reading, too. I might give it a try eventually, though. Great reviews, Shannon!

  5. Great reviews. Sad about The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein. I’ve been looking forward to that because I LOVE dark books, but I get really annoyed by slow books. And I’m sort of not in it for a really depressing time (which sounds odd considering I like dark fantasy?) I’ll still probably check it out, though. 🙂

  6. That’s so disappointing about The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein. :/ That’s been at the top of my TBR ever since I heard about it. But you’re right, how can a short and dark book be slow??? I also have a hard time with books where I don’t like any characters.

  7. Rough bunch of books for you. I loved Warcross, but I am also a Marie Lu fan. I wish I had Wildcard, but that pub has me on auto-decline. >_< Hope your next book is a good one. You deserve it after 4 less than stellar books.

  8. First, I love SNL! Your GIFs are always great. Second, all of these are on my list. I actually have the audiobook for Warcross on my phone right now (library), and now I’m worried. However, I haven’t read Arena, so maybe I won’t have that deja-vu feeling. I’m still really excited about The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein, so I’m going to cover my eyes and say, “La la la la!” Haha! Thanks for sharing your thoughts! I feel like I would be bothered by most of the things you were, so we’ll see.

    Lindsi @ Do You Dog-ear?

  9. I’m kinda bummed about Elizabeth Frankenstein. It’s not my usual kind of read but I’m been low key keeping an eye on it because it just sounds so freaking awesome. But slow paced + garbage characters = I’m out. There are too many books I’m super excited about to spend time on one that was already way outside my wheelhouse. Peace out, Lizzie-Stein.

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