Wednesday, February 04, 2015

Review: The Glass Arrow by Kristen Simmons

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I received this book for free from Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: The Glass Arrow by Kristen SimmonsThe Glass Arrow by Kristen Simmons
Published by Tor Teen on February 10th 2015
Genres: Dystopia, YA
Source: Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group
Buy on Amazon

The Handmaid’s Tale meets Blood Red Road in Glass Arrow, the story of Aya, who lives with a small group of women on the run from the men who hunt them, men who want to auction off breeding rights to the highest bidder.

In a world where females are scarce and are hunted, then bought and sold at market for their breeding rights, 15-year old Aya has learned how to hide. With a ragtag bunch of other women and girls, she has successfully avoided capture and eked out a nomadic but free existence in the mountains. But when Aya’s luck runs out and she’s caught by a group of businessmen on a hunting expedition, fighting to survive takes on a whole new meaning.

The Handmaid’s Tale meets Blood Red Road? Sign me up! And unlike most times, I actually agree with that description. The Glass Arrow is a story about a girl living in a terrifying world where women are sold like livestock to the highest bidder. Fortunately for her, she has been raised in the wild, away from it all. Until now… she gets caught by hunters and she’s shown no mercy.

Being a fan of Kristen’s Article 5 series, I had high hopes for this one. Even though I didn’t absolutely love it, it does have a lot going for it that I think many will enjoy. The world building is what I found to be the book’s best quality. We’re shown the ins and outs of this cruel world from the beginning, both outside and inside the city. The plot itself, however, is fairly slow paced throughout. We spend a lot of time imprisoned in solitary, brooding, planning, and longing for freedom. While this can get a bit monotonous at times (more on this in a sec), it does allow for some excellent character building. We get to know Aya quite personally – how she thinks, why she reacts the way she does – until she becomes a part of ourselves. She’s definitely not flawless, and a couple of times I wanted to scream at her for what she was about to do, but it was easy to put myself in her shoes and understand what led to her decisions. She shows kindness in the midst of cruelty, and that’s rarely a mistake.

I did struggle for the first half of the book, though. During her imprisonment, Aya does nothing but plan her escape. Her determined attitude makes it easy for us to root for her, however, there are so many failed attempts and botched plans that I began to get frustrated. Combined with the slow pacing, I felt like these instances were nothing but attempts at building excitement, but then went unrewarded. Maybe to mask the fact that we were moving at a snail’s pace? Except it only highlighted the lack of progression, in my opinion. Having someone try and fail over and over again is discouraging, and left me feeling annoyed instead of sympathetic or eager.

Eventually we do start moving forward. The least 40% or so is full of adventure and excitement and hope and bravery. Our view of this world gets more complex as we delve deeper into the different factions, we meet a few more secondary characters, while learning intriguing twists along the way. A bit of romance shows its head in this final chapter, too, but it’s still fairly low-ball so don’t expect a very romantically-inclined story at all. It’s more about family and survival in a world where death could be a mercy. Fans of survivalist stories are likely to take a liking to this one, as long as you don’t mind its unhurried nature.


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Canadian blogger, wife, mother, coffee lover, and sarcastic at heart! She has had a love for all things bookish since before Amazon and eReaders existed *le gasp*. You can also find her organizing tours and other fun things at Xpresso Book Tours.

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25 Responses to “Review: The Glass Arrow by Kristen Simmons”

  1. Chyna @ Lite-Rate-Ture

    Slow pacing tends to push me away…I might be frustrated with this book. World building wouldn’t be enough to lighten up my mood and make me like this book at all. I’ve always thought that the character should be the strongest point in the story next to the plot. The plot seems interesting…I do love cruel story lines 🙂 Thanks for sharing, Giselle!

  2. JennRenee

    I have only read the first book, a long time ago. I am hoping to read it again this coming week so I can finish out the series. the slow pacing frightens me some though.

  3. Nick @ Nick's Book Blog

    I loved this one more than you did, but I understand where you’re coming from. I know you like your books to be more fast-paced. I actually liked the slow-pace of this book in the beginning because we got to really know the MC on a personal level. I agree that the world building was one of the best things!
    Great review, Giselle!

  4. Jessica @ Rabid Reads

    Hmmm . . . I’d had my eye on this one for awhile, but now I’m thinking I should stick to finally reading Level 5 (which I own, yet have not read). One of my biggest peeves in books is when a character does the same thing, over and over again. I can understand a botched attempt or two, but it sounds like this goes way beyond that, and it would drive me up a wall. Sorry it wasn’t as great as you were expecting, but thanks for the heads-up 😉

    • Giselle

      The character doesn’t try the exact same thing over and over, but every time she tries to escape (in different ways) she fails. So it’s just frustrating after a while you know. My hopes get crushed SO MUCH!! Lol!

  5. Terri Bynum

    Thank you so much for this very thoughtful review! I, too, really enjoyed the Article 5 series. I consistently enjoy your reviews; you don’t throw praise around- it must be warranted. That’s why I know that I’ll read this one, and soon! I enjoy the fact that even though you dished out some thoughtful criticism regarding the first half of the book, you REALLY gave it its due for the remainder of the book.

    Thanks again!

    • Giselle

      Thank you! 🙂 I think it was also maybe just not the right book at the right time, too. I often love slower paced books bc you get to focus more on characters etc, it’s just not what I was expecting with this one – especially after reading Article 5 which was pretty action packed. Objectively it’s a pretty good book and I think many will love it!

  6. Allison

    It can be so hard to read a book with a slow beginning. Sometimes it pays off in a big way, but sometimes you wish it had done a better job at grabbing you in the beginning, even if it picks up later on. Thanks for another thorough review!

  7. Jessica @ a GREAT read

    OOoh nice review! I felt mixed opinions on this one and it seems to be that way so far in reviews! I read one where the reader LOVED it and I was excited, now I feel a bit subdued, but still curious! I might give this one a try…eventually! Sounds like it might be exciting despite a slow pace. Great review though!

  8. Lorna

    I think the slow pacing would lose me in a heartbeat, not to mention the men using women like that. I think I would just be angry throughout. Not for me, I think. Thanks for an honest review.

  9. Anshul

    I won’t lie, but the title is so intimidating. If you would have reviewed it, and said how much you love it, I would have probably given this a miss. However, after reading how much you enjoyed this read, I confess, I am kind of eager to get to it.. 😮

  10. Pili

    Hmmm, I had read in another review that this is a standalone? Do you know for sure if it’s a series, Giselle?
    Sounds like something I’d like if the slow pace doesn’t bother me too much.

    • Giselle

      Hmm well I guess it could be. I saw on the other editions on GR that it had (Untitled Trilogy, #1) next to its title so I figured it was a series. With the way it ended it could go either way, though.

  11. Cait @ Paper Fury

    Oh oh I WANT THIS. For the world building if nothing else. xD Bit frustrating if it’s slow though and…well..sounds like she’s a bit sucky at planning escape attempts, but HEY. We all have our failings. (I, personally, would probably lay down and die. But shhh. Secret. People can believe I’m tough.) XD

  12. Melanie (YA Midnight Reads)

    Oh I thought this author sounded familiar but I couldn’t put my finger on why, lol! It’s a shame that there was slow pacing at the start but this sounds like I book that I need in my life.

    Brilliant review, girl <33

  13. Lexxie @ (un)Conventional Bookviews

    Slow pacing and too long on the same point makes it difficult for me to actually stay with a story, too, Giselle. Not sure this would really be for me – especially because I’m very picky when it comes to comparing one story to other stories.
    Great review, Giselle. Have a great weekend.

  14. Aylee

    I’m usually OK with slow pacing… it does depend on the situation though. I can’t decide whether I could get past the pace in this one or not. Probably means that this one should be a library read for me! Thanks for your thoughts.

  15. Lekeisha

    I had such high hopes for this one as well, but it was just not that great for me. I gave it 3 stars but I’m really disappointed that I didn’t enjoy it as much as the premise made it sound. Great review!