The Midnight Star

My last book of the year is also the last book in Marie Lu's The Young Elites trilogy. Anticipation for The Midnight Star has been high and I've longed for the moment when I had time to finally read this novel. It's a rather different story since the protagonist, Adelina, is the villain and that gives the book a very different spin from many other novels. I guess it's this, combined with Lu's amazing skills at creating new worlds, that made this series so strong and special.

Adelina has risen from nothing, a malfetto with strange markings on her face and an unearthly power in her veins. After having found the Young Elites in the first novel and trained with them to learn how to use her power, Adelina left and created her own group of malfettos. She called them the Rose Society and with them, Adelina took over the land. Now Adelina is finally queen of Kenettra, but she is almost completely alone. Her sister Violetta left her and only Magiano stayed by her side. Since she took charge of Kenettra, Adelina shifted the power from the normal people to the malfettos. She's loved by those like her, but hated by everyone else. Now Adelina is set on ruling the entire world, but something Violetta told her right before she left is gnawing on her. Are all the Young Elites, all the marked people with power, dying because their bodies can't contain their power anymore? And while Adelina is busy taking over the world and secretly looking for her sister, the bond between her and Enzo is growing stronger, darker and more vicious by every minute. She knows she will have to face both him and the remaining Elites eventually. Something out there is changing and for it to stop, Adelina have to work with the people she hates the most.

Lu's story is certainly different. It's not often you get to read from the villain’s perspective - not for three whole books. While there are chapters from other characters points as well, Adelina is the protagonist. It's her story and it's a dark one. Adelina is cruel and cold, sometimes even heartless. While I can understand that to some degree, she did grow up hated by everyone and her father most of all, she should also be the one to know exactly how it feels to be on the wrong side of all that hate and how awful it is. That she inflicts the same kind of pain and problems on everyone else that she had to go through is what makes her the bad guy. She could've realized that the system was wrong and done something about it and then tried to make it a good place for everyone to live. Instead, Adelina wants to punish all the normal people for hating her and the malfettos. She lashes out at them for everything she has had to experience in her life. It makes for an interesting story, but it is a little backwards reading about the bad guy and, not only that, hearing Adelina make excuses for the choices she makes.

Although, most everyone in Lu's story is bad to some extent and it's certainly a series filled to the brim with action, battles and yeah, more action. Every sentence has something to contribute to the overall picture and this makes it easy to keep reading even while you should put the book down. It's fast-paced but spans out over the course of a few years, which I think brings depth to the story. Often, a novel or a trilogy only plays out for a few months, or sometimes even weeks. In the right book that can be good but more often than not, I prefer when the story stretches out. This gives more time for the reader to see what happens to the world, but also to follow the characters as they, hopefully, grow. This is very true for Lu's characters, were Adelina started out as an ambitious but quiet girl, rather unsure of herself. She turns into a cold queen who rules half the world but still have a flicker of life inside of her. Many of the other characters also go through interesting changes and that makes it more fun to read, as well. I won't go in closely on any other character because I don't want to spoil anything but Lu is great at creating believable, flawed people and making me care, or dislike, them.

It's always sad when a series ends and especially one that you really liked. The Young Elites trilogy was fun and rather different from Lu's previous Legend trilogy. I recommend them both because they are interesting and fun but also well written and they all have depth which I think is very important. Lu is already working on a new novel which will be out in 2017 and I can't wait to see what she comes up with next. If you haven't read The Midnight Star yet, or if you haven't read any of Lu's other novels either, then I think you should give them a try. Both series have a lot of action, tough, fierce girls and relatable characters. There's more of a love story in the Legend trilogy, though there's still love in The Young Elites, however, it's mostly focused on Adelina's descent into a villain. Try, compare and get ready for the next. These books have something for everyone and I'm not doubting that the next one will be the same.

Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them

This is, technically, not an actual book but rather the screenplay from the movie, written by J.K Rowling. It is, nevertheless, a fantastic read for all those who, like me, love Harry Potter and his magical world. I saw the movie about a month ago and thought it was absolutely amazing. It was impossible not to start reading this right after I got it on Christmas Eve and, this being the first time I've read a screenplay, it was somewhat crazy yet so fun to re-enter the world Rowling has created and basically read the movie.

If you don't already know what this story is about, here is a small recap. It's New York in the 1920s. Newt Scamander steps off a ship with nothing but a briefcase in his hand. It's an ordinary-looking thing, but what it contains is far from normal. Newt is a magizoologist and he has just completed a trip around the world. When the briefcase, filled to the brim with strange creatures, accidently is opened, some of the creatures escapes. Newt has to team up with a No-Maj (American word for muggle) and two witches in the hope of getting all his creatures back. But Newt has chosen a poor time to visit New York, because some humans are trying to find and root out the wizard community while Gellert Grindelwald is rooming about, killing innocent muggles. A war is brewing and Newt suddenly finds himself, and his briefcase, in the middle of it all.

This is a fantastic story, I can't say that enough. I know some people were wary when the news of the movie came, thinking this was just another way for Hollywood to make more money. I disagree. Yes, everyone always want to make money, but this is a very enjoyable movie and I hardly believe it was created just for the sake of money. The screenplay, of course, is equally amazing since it's the script of the movie. It's fun, this compelling, it makes you want to read more. Just like the movie, the screenplay will make you laugh. Just like the movie, it will make you want to see what happens to Newt and all of his creatures. Just like the movie, you will find yourself loving most, if not all, of the creatures in Newts suitcase and Newt himself, because he is a very sweet and lovable character. 

If you haven't had the chance to see the movie then I'd advise you to do that. If you rather want to read about it then the screenplay is perfect for that. If you, like me, want to have the cake and eat is as well, then watch the movie and get a copy  of the screenplay for your bookcase. I love this story and I really think this will be a great ride, just like the years with Harry Potter was. Give the screenplay a chance - it's just as amazing and you can revisit the world whenever you want!

Älskaren

I en stark självbiografisk roman berättar Marguerite Duras om en femtonårig, namnlös fransk flicka som under en resa tillbaka till sin skola från sitt familjehem möter en kinesisk man, son till en rik affärsman. Mannen börjar prata med flickan och det är början på ett kärleksförhållande som varar under ett par år. De befinner sig i Afrika 1929 och världen ser inte snällt på deras relation, minst av allt deras respektive familjer. Flickan flyr från sin mamma och sina bröder och skär tillslut av kontakten helt med dem medan mannen går emot sin faders vilja genom att träffa flickan. Men de vet båda två att de aldrig kommer gifta sig och deras relation är mer ett sätt för flickan att överleva än någonting annat.

Älskaren är en väldigt stark berättelse om denna unga flicka och de saker hon tvingas göra för att överleva. Hon försöker fortfarande hitta sig själv och den kinesiske mannen kan hjälpa henne att göra det. Hon är ung och relationen med hennes älskare är en resa i att hitta henne själv. Duras beskriver fint flickans värld, men också hennes förflutna. Allt är samlat i en enda lång berättelse, där flickan berättar för läsaren, huller om buller vad som hänt med hennes älskare, tidigare i hennes liv och efter det, också. Sättet boken är skriven på gör texten ännu starkare i och med att man som läsare klamrar sig fast vid det man vet medan flickan ständigt slänger in nya saker i historian som skapar förvåning och förvirring men också glädje och sorg.

Jag tycker det var en vacker berättelse som bar med sig många tunga sanningar. Medan historian i sig är stark tycker jag ändå dock att Duras sätt att skriva är det som verkligen gör boken levande. Det är en speciell berättelse som väcker tankar och funderingar och som jag kommer bära med mig ett tag framöver.