Genre: Adventure

Friday, July 24, 2015

Review: The Novice by Taran Matharu

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I received this book for free from Hachette Children's Books UK in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: The Novice by Taran MatharuThe Novice by Taran Matharu
Published by Hachette Children's Books UK on May 5, 2015
Genres: Adventure, Fantasy, YA
Source: Hachette Children's Books UK
Buy on Amazon

When blacksmith apprentice Fletcher discovers that he has the ability to summon demons from another world, he travels to Adept Military Academy. There the gifted are trained in the art of summoning. Fletcher is put through grueling training as a battlemage to fight in the Hominum Empire’s war against orcs. He must tread carefully while training alongside children of powerful nobles. The power hungry, those seeking alliances, and the fear of betrayal surround him. Fletcher finds himself caught in the middle of powerful forces, with only his demon Ignatius for help.

As the pieces on the board maneuver for supremacy, Fletcher must decide where his loyalties lie. The fate of an empire is in his hands. The Novice is the first in a trilogy about Fletcher, his demon Ignatius, and the war against the Orcs.

Definitely one of the most underwhelming fantasies I’ve read this year.

I was really excited for this after knowing it was originally a WattPad story. I always get excited when a book becomes published through unconventional means, because it means people like me who just writes stories for fun for others online can be discovered for the very reason our stories are simply good enough. And knowing it was a fantasy? Heck yeah, my favorite genre of the year, represeeent!

However, reading this book was like eating unseasoned, hard meat… it didn’t taste anything. It was bland and forgettable. I kept on chewing and chewing and chewing in hopes it would suddenly turn into a gourmet dish, but in the end, I swallowed it feeling. It didn’t bring anything new to the plate, nor did it engage the reader in me. I started reading this in May. I finished it in July. I mean, that speaks volumes, I think.

Despite this having obviously Pokemon/Digimon/Monster Rancher elements (except with “demons”) in a typical fantasy setting (world filled with humans, orcs, elves, and dwarves), it failed to instill a feeling of awe within me.


Because of the writing, that’s why.

That cover is goddamn misleading. It made me think I’d be reading about grown teenagers finding their place in a world strife with war, in a world where everyone was against each other, but that was all a lie. The characters here all sounded like they were ten year olds who were on a field trip to a Harry Potter-like academy. It was awkward, quite stilted, and flat. It was so uninspiring and it resembled bad fanfiction so much. It reminded me a lot of Lucy Saxon’s Take Back the Skies where the style felt so young and in need of good polishing. Like the two have the following in common:

☑ A lot of telling than showing
☑ Very uninteresting chapter finishers… like every chapter ends in such anti-climactic ways
☑ Blunt way of showing character feelings, giving a feel of disconnection
☑ Boring, narrative-style info-dumps in dialogues
☑ Lack of real and genuine character development/emotional connection

I wish I liked this more, but the writing really made me feel nothing towards the characters. Didn’t help that Fletcher, an orphan (who we know will be the son of someone important later on…), was a Gary Stu in the making – having no real flaws except his being friendly with everyone, being automatically gifted without bloody working for it, overcoming hurdles without any real tension. I mean, yeah, pokemon-like demons are cool and all, but if the main character doesn’t have a personality, then what else does he have going for?

The rest were so uninteresting as well, having characteristics that were stereotypical of their fantasy-races. Who did the mining? The dwarves! Who were the agile and graceful ones? The elves! Who were the enemies who did nothing but grunt? The orcs! Like, oh my bloody god, can it not get any more cheesier than that?

All in all, a big and utter disappointment.


2 Hot Espressos

Series Spotlight : Thrones & Bones Series by Lou Anders

Series Spotlight : Thrones & Bones Series by Lou Anders

Posted by on 05/26/2015 • 2 Comments

Today I am spotlighting the Thrones & Bones series by Lou Anders. It is getting closer to the publish date for the second book in the series, Nightborn. This is a fantastic MG series that I think many people will enjoy. I have not yet read the second book yet, but I am almost done with the first one, Frostborn, and am really enjoying it.

Frostborn is the first in the series, and so far it is great! The characters are interesting, but more than that, I love the visual imagery that I get from it. I can imagine the lands and the Giants, and everything that is going on. The story is wonderful and I am excited to continue on the adventure and see where…

Review: Nil Unlocked by Lynne Matson

Review: Nil Unlocked by Lynne Matson

Posted by on 05/07/2015 • 3 Comments

I really enjoyed the first book in this series, so I was really looking forward to the second book. I really enjoyed this one. Maybe a bit more than the first, though I can’t really remember my reading experience with the first one. In this one things are more complicated. Many secrets are discovered, and the stakes are higher. Not only are they on a ticking clock the moment they arrive, but there are other threats in Nil. The island seems more restless. It was nice to see some old characters, and to get to know new ones. I really liked the cast in this. This was an exciting read that is full of suspense and of course adventure. I loved discovering more of the island secrets along with everyone…

Review: Anyone But Ivy Pocket by Caleb Krisp

Review: Anyone But Ivy Pocket by Caleb Krisp

Posted by on 04/09/2015 • 3 Comments

I was hoping that this would be cute and fun, but I found myself so annoyed by the MC that I couldn’t really enjoy the book at all. I think that the story itself was pretty interesting, but I couldn’t stand Ivy. I did enjoy the stuff about the Clock Diamond and its magic and Ivy’s journey though. I wish that I could say that I enjoyed some of the characters, but I really didn’t. This is a middle grade book, so the younger crowd might enjoy it much more than me, and probably won’t find things as irritating as I did. The other thing that I liked about this book was the artwork. It was very good and thought that it really brought something more to the story. Since…

Review: Magonia by Maria Dahvana Headley

Review: Magonia by Maria Dahvana Headley

Posted by on 11/21/2014 • 36 Comments

First off, this was such a beautiful novel, inside and out.

I like the sky. It’s rational to me in a way that life isn’t. Looking at it doesn’t suck the way you might think it would, given all the dying-girl-stares-at-heaven possibilities. I don’t think of the sky as any kind of heaven item. I think of it as a bunch of gases and faraway echoes of things that used to be on fire.

When I read the first few paragraphs of this book, I initially thought it was the diary of a self-absorbed girl who thought she was the shit. After finishing the first two chapters, I ate my words and realized that the heroine was actually exploding with a certain kind of wisdom only a mature person who…

Review: The Iron Trial by Cassandra Clare & Holly Black

Review: The Iron Trial by Cassandra Clare & Holly Black

Posted by on 08/18/2014 • 24 Comments

I really wanted to love this one, and I could almost give it a 3-star after the fascinating twist at the end, but I just can’t. For the most part, I couldn’t stop seeing the glaring parallels with Harry Potter which annoyed me endlessly. I’m not one to roll my eyes at similar storylines – I don’t curse all MG novels about magic school for being Harry Potter rip-offs, but there are only so many similarities I can tolerate.

So let’s see, we have this kid, Call, who was marked at birth by the most evil of its kind – someone corrupted by his desire to become immortal (called the Enemy of Death but I call him Ed, sounds much more ominous don’t you think?). When Call gets to magic…

Review: Doll Bones by Holly Black

Review: Doll Bones by Holly Black

Posted by on 05/06/2013 • 30 Comments

Holly Black is one of few who can write something as cute as it is creepy!

Doll Bones is a Middle Grade novel that is full of adventure and friendship–really the only type of MG books I read and enjoy. It’s the story of Zach, Poppy, and Alice who have been friends for such a long time that their friendship feels familiar even to us. I immediately felt attuned to their mutual trust and support. Not giving in when the other kids laughed at them for playing with action figures. But then one day the game got a little bit more real, and it involves a creepy devil doll who is made of little girl bones!

“Her clay was made from human bones. Little girl bones. That hair threaded…