Genre: Retellings

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Review: Rook by Sharon Cameron

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I received this book for free from Scholastic in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Rook by Sharon CameronRook by Sharon Cameron
Published by Scholastic on April 28, 2015
Genres: Dystopia, Retellings, YA
Source: Scholastic
Buy on Amazon

History has a way of repeating itself. In the Sunken City that was once Paris, all who oppose the new revolution are being put to the blade. Except for those who disappear from their prison cells, a red-tipped rook feather left in their place. Is the mysterious Red Rook a savior of the innocent or a criminal?

Meanwhile, across the sea in the Commonwealth, Sophia Bellamy’s arranged marriage to the wealthy René Hasard is the last chance to save her family from ruin. But when the search for the Red Rook comes straight to her doorstep, Sophia discovers that her fiancé is not all he seems. Which is only fair, because neither is she.

As the Red Rook grows bolder and the stakes grow higher, Sophia and René find themselves locked in a tantalizing game of cat and mouse.

I really can’t shake off the feeling that this book would have been 5 times better if it wasn’t as long as it was.

Yeah, it was only, what, 464 pages? 6000 Kindle locations? But let me tell you that reading this felt like it took bloody eternity. Not even my love for anything French could have prevented the yawns this book made me do… oh, every 5 minutes. If it wasn’t for the fact I needed to read and finish this in the next six hours just in time to write this review for today (I like to live dangerously), I would’ve set it aside to take a well-deserved nap.

But, hey, I did it, friends! I survived! Even though most of the time in the last six hours I was like this:

and like this:

It would be harsh to say it was torture, but not taking that nap when my eyes desperately needed it was pretty painful.

First of all, let’s get one thing straight: this book was boring, which could honestly be attributed to the writing/narration in general because it often talked about the most mundane of things in a really long-winded way. It would talk about the setting, what the characters were doing, why they were doing what they were doing, over and over, spanning countless paragraphs and pages. If the writing was beautiful, lyrical, poetic, and had meaning and purpose to each word, I would have gobbled all that up because I’m not a stranger to dense books in third person (hi, Brandon Sanderson), but the ones here just did not have the substance to engage me. So many descriptions about almost everything and yet each one felt so empty. I had to skim so many pages, sometimes even reading just one paragraph or two, before going to the next page.

Guess what I missed? NOTHING. 

Guys, you could literally cut this book to half and you can still get the same story and with the necessary descriptions. The “build up” was too much that it became stagnant quickly. Before long, it felt like it was just going in circles.

As for the main character, Sophie Bellamy (which is a pretty nice name, if I do say so myself), she could’ve been a great character if only she didn’t make me want to put toothpicks in my eyes just so my eyelids could stay open. I get that she’s someone who loved challenges, who wanted to save the people from the evil LeBlanc and save her brother from his clutches, but she just didn’t click with me. On paper, yes, she was someone flawed and perhaps a li’l complex, but I never really saw it in the book explicitly, especially in the first 50% in which I skimmed not a single page. She felt so flat.

I blame the narration for this, though. The writing in general was just so muddled, sloppy and long-winded that it failed to portray the depth of her character. Plus, there were also too many POVs, usually used in order to tell us why a side character did what they recently did. Which is a damn shame because not only did it limit the MC’s character development, the book was then forced to show those characters’ developments, too, which became even more limiting.

Plus, come on. When we’re talking about motives and agendas, it’s better to show it to us than tell. When one needs to use countless other POVs to do that, I think it’s a sign that maybe something else needs to be done. Something that involves not needing countless other POVs. x_x

And another plus, I wasn’t a fan of certain scenes where the MC wnet puppy eyes over the love interest, ESPECIALLY AFTER huge, important events. “OMG MY BROTHER GOT ARRESTED BUT oooohh I wonder what it would feel like if I touch René’s stubble…” (non-verbatim, but I swear there were too many of this kind of scenes in the first 50%. I mean, girl, seriously?!)

The same could be said for the plot. I love stories about vigilantes toppling evil governments and figureheads, but it was hard to get excited for the action when the book took its damn sweet time getting there, dragging unnecessary scenes to kingdom come. At this point, I was skimming a lot because GOOD LORD CAN WE GET TO THE MEAT OF THE STORY ALREADY?! 

So when the climax happened, I was so relieved because this meant the ending would come, too. I mean, they have already achieved whatever their goal was. Usually, after that, you wrap things up and end the book in a (hopefully) promising, satisfactory note.

But jesus h. christ, this book really took “tedious” to the next level because that wrapping-up part? IT HAPPENED FROM 90% TO 100%. Do you see that? 10% of the book to wrap everything up.

If you want any idea of what my face looked like then, it was this:

(cue groans of “oh cooooome oooon!”)

I am bloody serious. Just when the climax happened and what should have been the ending, the book then decided to make one last anti-climactic hurrah true to its “dragging” fashion – 10% of drama and filler and pretty much scenes that should have been ELSEWHERE and not at the end of the book. At least that’s what I felt because they seriously looked ill-placed.

I don’t even care that this was set in a post-apocalyptic, dystopian France. This book needed some serious editing.


2 Hot Espressos

Review: Hold Me Like a Breath by Tiffany Schmidt

Review: Hold Me Like a Breath by Tiffany Schmidt

Posted by on 04/01/2015 • 21 Comments

This is probably the first time in a long while since I’ve gotten this infuriated and angry and just fuming over a book. I chose to read this novel expecting great things (especially with such a title as romantic as that), but I ended up putting the book down at certain times and pacing around the room just to cool off the steam coming out of my ears. I was that seething. 

(And I’m not the only one. I buddy read this with Aimee and we kept ranting about the book to each other.)

I don’t even know where to start with this thing. It had so many factors that could have given us an amazing story – underground family-syndicates that deal with black market organ transplants, a heroine who has an autoimmune disorder, assigned guardians…

Audiobook Review: A Wicked Thing by Rhiannon Thomas

Audiobook Review: A Wicked Thing by Rhiannon Thomas

Posted by on 03/31/2015 • 14 Comments

As you’ve probably noticed, I am a sucker for retellings. They are very hit or miss with me, but I really enjoyed this one. I listened to the audio of this one, and though it took a while to get used to the narrator, it was a good story. I loved the twist on the retelling of Sleeping Beauty. I thought it was fabulous where the author took the story of after she wakes up. And it’s not to her beloved prince like in the original. It is one hundred years after she has fallen asleep from her curse, and it’s not a happily ever after. The King and Queen are awful and only want to use her for their needs. The prince, Rodric, is only doing what he is…

Review: Monstrous by MarcyKate Connolly

Review: Monstrous by MarcyKate Connolly

Posted by on 02/19/2015 • 8 Comments

This was a book that I was really excited to read. I didn’t like it quite as much as I had hoped, but it was really enjoyable. The characters were wonderful, especially Kymera. It was a bit predictable and long, but it was interesting so it kept me from getting bored with it. Even at its slow pace, the way things all came together was great and it was easy to get lost in.

Kym is a creation intended for the purpose of saving the sick girls from the wizard. She is very naive and only knows what her father has told her. She is happy with her mission and truly has a huge heart. She wants to do what is right and she wants to save everyone. She…

Review: Beastkeeper by Cat Hellisen

Review: Beastkeeper by Cat Hellisen

Posted by on 01/22/2015 • 2 Comments

I am always up for a fairytale retelling, so of course I had to read this book. Especially since it has a dark twist to it. This was a book that was so easy to get into and get lost in. I loved uncovering all the secrets and find out how everything would end up. This is middle grade, but it the writing was very mature. the characters were great, though we don’t get to know many of them very well aside from Sarah and Alan. We learn about the other characters, but don’t really know them on an emotional level. Either way, this was a great book.

Sarah is a young girl, but wise beyond her years. She has moved around a lot and she is a bit…

Review: Stitching Snow by R.C.Lewis

Review: Stitching Snow by R.C.Lewis

Posted by on 12/11/2014 • 12 Comments

Well, this is awkward… another review for a retelling from yours truly. I swear I am not seeking them out; they seem to find me, not I them. In any case, this one is extra special because it’s a retelling in spaaaaaaaace. And anything set in space is automatically “cool beans” in my eyes. I mean, usually. You know. *fidgets*

Now the only problem is… where to bloody start.

You see, Stitching Snow and I have quite a complicated relationship. I liked it for the most part, but I found a lot of problems along the way, and I for one never forget these things. Once I spot one, they become even more glaring after a while. Surely now, if ever this book were sentient, it’s probably regretting it had to be read by…

Review: Crimson Bound by Rosamund Hodge

Review: Crimson Bound by Rosamund Hodge

Posted by on 12/05/2014 • 19 Comments

Now I see why people love this author.

Truth be told, when I read Cruel Beauty not too long ago, I remember being very frustrated with it. Yes, the prose flowed exceptionally well; yes, the characters were complex; yes, the world-building was fascinating and all that, but I just couldn’t find myself liking it completely. It was a fantasy that read too much like a romance (although it can be debated that it’s romance first in a fantasy setting…), and I remember being overwhelmed with the talks of love and kisses. I don’t like it when a love between two people is shoved in my face; rather, I want it to be subtle and in the background and happening naturally.

Because of that experience, I was wary of starting Crimson Bound,…

Review: A Wicked Thing by Rhiannon Thomas

Review: A Wicked Thing by Rhiannon Thomas

Posted by on 11/14/2014 • 25 Comments

Have you ever wondered what happened after Sleeping Beauty woke up from her slumber? Pondered if she really did live a “happily ever after”?

Well, A Wicked Thing is here to tell you that story. At least… one of the possibilities, anyway.

And it ain’t exactly pretty.

Retellings can be awesome and it can be a pain in the rear. Awesome, because you’re already familiar with the basic elements, so there’s already a pre-established connection to certain characters, and there’s already the excitement for the new things the author will add to it. And it can result to a disaster, too… because, you know… the new things may screw everything up, OR, worst-case scenario, nothing new gets added and we’re left with a dull, boring story pathetically trailing in the shadows of the original. This is…