The Marked Girl

This is going to be a long rant and with spoilers so if you want to read The Marked Girl (don't do it!) then you should skip this review because wow. I did not like this novel. I had such high hopes for it and I was left with what I can only describe as a disaster.

Liv is a sixteen-year-old girl from Los Angeles who lost her parents ten years ago and has lived in foster homes since then. She wants to be a filmmaker and one day when she’s out filming a project for her movie-making class three strange teenagers appears seemingly out of nowhere. These kids are crown prince Cedric, his betrothed Kat and their friend Merek and they’re really from Caelum and have come to Earth through a portal right next to the place where Liv is. In Caelum the royal palace is under attack and Cedric, Kat and Merek had to flee in order to hatch a plan and save their kingdom. They end up in Liv’s world, however, and when the portal closes they have no way to return to Caelum besides a vague remark Cedric’s father makes about some scrolls that should open another portal back to their realm. Liv stumbles upon Cedric again a while later and after finding out about who Cedric really is Liv decides to help him and his friends to go back to their world. She doesn’t know, however, how dangerous this will be both for her and her loved ones and she has no idea how connected she is to Cedric and his realm.

I thought this seemed really interesting when I first heard of this novel nearly two years ago. I got myself a copy last summer but didn’t read it until right before the year ended. I had high expectations but none of them were met. I always try to pick out at least one thing that I thought was good in a novel, but nothing was good with The Marked Girl. It was just various shades of bad and horrible. The only thing I liked was the cover and that's probably because the author had nothing to do with it. The inside of the book was awful and here’s why:

The writing was so bad. It’s a Young Adult novel so maybe you can’t hope for too much (but at the same time, a lot of YA literature is very good) but this was one of those books that makes you wonder if it has missed a stage of editing. The language was childish and weak, it was very repetitive and there was nothing that made the characters stand out from each other. They’re all a bunch of sixteen-year-olds that seems to think they adults and then there’s one adult who acts (and talks!) like a sixteen-year-old. The manuscript felt like a first draft and I shudder to think about what the actual first draft looked like because this was one of the worst things I’ve ever read.

The storyline was weak and boring. Liv is a filmmaker (in LA? Wow, unique!), something that’s mentioned a few times, but it’s forgotten when The Real Story begins. The novel kicks of right away with Liv and Cedric meeting in the first ten pages and then two months passes before their paths crosses again. I didn’t understand why two months had to pass, it didn’t make sense to me that the story didn’t continue right away since nothing happens in those two months but anyway. When they meet again it’s at a museum were Cedric and his friends lives in some tunnels underneath the building? Liv sees Cedric dressed as a security guard and she’s so curious about this strange man that scared her a lot when she met him for a few minutes two months ago so she follows him to these underground tunnels and doesn’t realize until she’s actually a long way from the safety of the museum that she’s in a rather strange and potentially dangerous situation. Nothing bad happens (of course) and she’s introduced to Cedric, Kat and Merek. She finds out about them coming from another realm and they tell her about some monsters – wraths – that wants to kill them and that they need a way back to Caelum. Liv doesn’t believe them until she sees the wraths herself and then she agrees to help anyway she can. And then, naturally, they realize that Liv is that magical scroll that can open up a portal to their world. The whole story can be summed up like this: they meet, they’re apart, they meet again, they fight wraths, they flee, they fight wraths, they find out about Liv’s ability, they fight wraths, they try to work out a plan, they fight wraths, they hatch a plan and try to execute it but it fails, they fight wraths. It was repetitive and it felt like a story I’ve read a hundred times before. No thank you.

The characters were hollow. I didn’t care about anyone of them. They were all flat and just various degrees of stupid with Liv being the dumbest of them all. You have pretty much every cliché here: A lonely foster-girl without parents, believing her whole life she was the one that accidently started the fire that killed them. A superhot flirty prince who needs to take responsibility for his kingdom who falls in love with a girl he can never have. A tough girl who can fight and take care of herself who stands by and watches as her betrothed flirts with half their kingdom. And naturally, the youngest son of a lord, a boy that’s jealous of the prince because he has everything and the poor boy will never get anything since his older brother will take over after their father. Later on we’re introduced to a spoiled, bratty thirteen-year-old who thinks she knows everything and an eighteen-year-old who loves medieval video games and wants nothing more than to experience those things in real life. Author Lindsey Klingele wants me to think that Liv is a sassy and strong girl who can take care of herself but the truth is that she rushes into every situation without thinking twice and then wonders why nothing goes right for her.

The love story was laughable. Obviously, Liv and Cedric hit it off but Cedric is engaged to Kat and has been his whole life. Poor Kat has to sit by and watch as Liv and Cedric grow closer, but honestly, I couldn’t feel a spark between them. It’s insta-love at its best; they’ve known each other for about a week and I’m supposed to believe that they have real feelings for each other and actually feel sorry for them that they can’t be together because of Kat and you know, the fact that they live on two different planets.

The plot twists were silly and useless. Cedric believes “a scroll” is an actual piece of paper but it turns out it’s a human born with a special mark and Liv just happens to be one of them! Remarkable! The kind collage professor they turn to for historical help is actually a bad guy that wants to kill Liv. Well, colour me surprised! Liv’s caseworker is also a scroll? Wow! And his brother is the evil guy that tries to kill Cedric and his friends? What! Yeah, neither of these plot twists surprised me because the plot was see-through.

I’m also wondering what happens with the rest of the world because I’m assuming that scrolls doesn’t exist in LA only? Are there portals in to Caelum somewhere else? Who knows, Klingele didn’t think this was important information to share and Liv never asked that question herself. All in all, is was a horrible read. There’s a sequel, of course, but I’m going to stay far away from that and I suggest you save your time, energy and money and stay away from The Marked Girl.
 

Wayfarer

I've been working on Alexandra Bracken's Wayfarer, the sequel to Passenger, for a few months now and it's been quite a ride. I liked Passenger despite it being a bit too long and some stretches of the novel was, well, rather slow and boring. I had hopes for Wayfarer but my opinions of it have shifted back and forth quite a lot during the four months it took reading it.

Wayfarer picks up right after the end of Passenger. Etta Spencer has been orphaned by the timeline, parted from Nicholas and ending up with the Thorns. Henry Hemlock, leader of the Thorns and also Etta’s father, is on a quest of finding the much sought-after Astrolabe to restore the timeline to its original state. Across the centuries, Nicholas must team up with Sophia in their search of the Astrolabe and Etta. Every traveller knows that the Astrolabe is on the lose and they’re all looking for it. The one who finds it controls space and time and everyone have their own agenda. Etta shares her father’s wish and wants to restore the timeline. Cyrus Ironwood wants to save his first love. Sophia wants to become the ruler of all travellers and Nicholas wants to destroy it, no matter the cost. There are other travellers in the shadows that wants the Astrolabe for even menacing reasons and they will stop at nothing to get their hands on it. The question is, who will find it first and what changes will that bring to the timeline?

While Passenger was a bit tedious and slow at times I thought Wayfarer would be more fast-paced since there was even more at stake here. The novel is 500+ pages but I figured there was a lot of ground to cover and while that's true it was still a bit tedious and slow at times. Bracken writes beautifully, but sometimes she spends a full page describing the surroundings. Details about the floor, the ceiling, the walls, the carpets, the curtains… you get the picture. I usually like this but in both Passenger and Wayfarer it all got too much. It took up so much space while putting the story on hold. It took a long time to read this novel because somethings I just couldn’t be bothered with it.

Another reason for why it took me months to finish this was because it felt like they travelled too much. Both Etta and Nicholas, on their separate journeys, gathered valuable information on their travels but at times it felt like some journeys were just… too much. Not useless, exactly (although it did feel like that from time to time) but they were fighting all the time and going to places that didn’t mean much and all those details about the colour of the carpet and yeah. It was just too much. Like I said, the novel is written beautifully but the text itself was heavy to read. It took forever to get anywhere, there was so, so much information. I wanted a respite, a chance for both the characters and myself to rest and the novel didn’t give me that so at times I got bored with the whole thing and just put it away. I also thought that Etta and Nicholas was kept apart for too long and should've met sooner. I am glad I finished it, though, because there are a lot of good things in Wayfarer and here are some of them.

First, the characters. They’re amazing. Bracken have created an impressive set of characters with personal motive and they all carry the story forward. Both Etta and Nicholas are strong and smart, just like two main characters are supposed to be. The only thing I still have a problem with regarding them is the insta-love but alas, I guess you can’t have everything. They both evolve a great deal during the novel and it’s very fun following them along. I liked seeing how they solved problems, how they prioritized, how they seemed to put the good of the world before the good of themselves. They also have their own separate lives and dreams. They’re two complete people who can function on their own but they're even stronger together because they work as a team. They’re incredible and I really liked them. They were the perfect pair to shoulder this intense and rough journey.

I think all the characters are well-made (and one of the new characters was very interesting) but I particularly enjoyed Sophia. In the first novel she’s rather mean and something of a bitch, I guess. In Passenger it’s easy to hate her because of the person you think she is but in Wayfarer it’s explained why she is the way she is and it also turns out that she’s not at all as you’d thought. I liked that she was something of a villain in the first instalment but that Bracken explained her thoroughly in this novel. It’s easy to hate the villain of any story, but I think it’s important to remember that the villain is (well, for the most part) a human and that they think what they’re doing is good on some level. If you try to understand the villain you’re left with a deeper understanding of the story. Bracken explored this, making the villain (both Sophia and Cyrus Ironwood) more human in the eyes of both the reader and the characters. Not only did this give another dimension in the characters but it also made me see these characters in a different light. Sophia was awful and did awful things but when that was explained, when you saw it all from her point of view, it all got so much clearer. She’s a very interesting character, my favourite actually. Also, a big plus for making her a LGBTQ character.

The second reason I liked this novel was all the interesting places that the characters travelled to and all the research that went in to the story to make it as real and believable as possible. It was exciting and amazing to see so many moments in time. The third reason is the writing, because the writing is very good. If not for all the descriptions, this novel would be absolutely outstanding. I liked the ending as well, although the epilogue fell a  bit short for me. Despite all this I still thought this was a five-star read and I recommend it very much.

Best of 2017

2017 är slut och det är jag på något plan tacksam över. När jag tittar tillbaka på vad jag läst känner jag mig inte alls nöjd och att jag haft en hel del att göra i skolan är inte någon ursäkt. Det var någonstans i januari som min läslust försvann och den dök bara upp sporadiskt under resterande del av året. Jag läste inte på långa vägar så mycket som jag hoppats på och de böcker jag faktiskt avslutade var, för det mesta, inte ett dugg bra. Trots det har jag lyckats skrapa ihop tre böcker som jag verkligen minns när jag tänker tillbaka på läsåret 2017. Om ni inte läst någon av dem så ge dem en chans. De är intressanta berättelser med starka karaktärer och otroliga äventyr.



Romanen av Leigh Bardugo är den första i Grisha-trilogin och handlar om Alina, en föräldralös flicka som tillsammans med sin bästa vän Mal tjänstgör i Ravkas armé. När Alina plötsligt visar upp ovanliga egenskaper förs hon till Ravkas huvudstad, där hon får reda på att hon är en Grisha, vilket är en elitgrupp människor med magiska egenskaper. Alina visar sig ha kraften att kunna rädda Ravka från förgörelse, men för att bli den person Ravka vill att hon ska vara måste Alina vända ryggen mot sig själv och allt som är rätt.



Gen, en fantastiskt skicklig tjuv, rekryteras av kungen för att hjälpa till att hitta en förlorad skatt och i gengälld blir han frisläppt från fängelset han avtjänat ett långt straff i. Gen tvingas resa över stora delar av landet tillsammans med en handfull män som avskyr Gen lika mycket som han avskyr dem. Vad de söker efter är knappt mer än en saga och ingen vet med säkerhet om skatten verkligen finns, men kungen är fast besluten om att hitta den, om så är fallet. Gen, däremot, har en egen plan.



Gemina är den andra boken i Illuminae-trilogin och tar vid där Illuminae tog slut. Under den första boken försökte de överlevande ombord Hypatia ta kontakt med Jump Station Heimdall men utan att lyckas. Vad de inte vet är att Heimdall har sina egna problem. Hanna är den bortskämda dottern till stationens kapten och Nik kommer från en välkänd brottsfamilj. När en grupp från BeiTech landar på Hemidall för att mörda stationens invånare måste Hanna och Nik hjälpas åt för att rädda så många som möjligt och samtidigt oskadliggöra personalen från BeiTech, allt medan alienliknande monster attackerar alla de kan komma åt. Samtidigt kommer Hypatia allt närmare, med nyheter om hur BeiTech förstört en hel kolonial. Universums framtid vilar hos Hanna och Nik och ett enda misstag kan få förödande konsekvenser.