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Daughter of Smoke and Bone & Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor

Daughter of Smoke and Bone & Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor

‘Once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love. It did not end well.’

Karou lives two lives, she’s a 17 year-old art student living in the beautiful city of Prague, but she’s also an errand girl collecting teeth for a monstrous creature called Brimstone, the closest thing she has to family. Raised half in the human-world, and half in Elsewhere, Karou is plagued by the sensation that she doesn’t really know who she is. Suddenly she is no longer safe, a war is starting in Elsewhere and Karou needs to find the answers…

‘She had been innocent once, a little girl playing with feathers on the floor of a devil’s lair. She wasn’t innocent now, but she didn’t know what to do about it. This was her life: magic and shame and secrets and teeth and a deep, nagging hollow at the center of herself where something was most certainly missing.’

Initially I was quite sceptical about reading Daughter of Smoke and Bone. I don’t often read fantasy/sci fi, and my least favourite genre is ‘dark romance’ with the usual vampires, angels, werewolves etc. 
After reading this book for a little while, becoming more and more engrossed, suddenly angels appeared in the story, and I panicked! I thought for a horrible moment I’d picked up one of these awful dark romance books, having been lulled in to thinking it was great by the masses (the fifty shades effect, yuck!), but fortunately, this was not the case. This is the good sci-fi, the great sci-fi, the Pullman/Gaiman kind of sci-fi, and I loved it. Who doesn’t want to read about a girl with blue hair collecting teeth, finding wishes, and talking to a half-woman half-snake creature everyday? It is safe to say that the angels play an important role but there are many more creatures besides, including incredible ones Laini has seemingly just plucked out of her imagination. 

‘Revulsion roiled like snakes in the pit of her belly, and from within the deadness of her shock she was lit with fury – at the universe, for this newest cruelty. At him, for being the one left alive.’

The first book is very exciting; starting off with much adventure and many unanswered questions. It turns slightly more romantic towards the end but with a nice big twist to finish it off avoiding that sickly sweet scenario you get with some fantasy books. The second book – Days of Blood and Starlight – amazingly, I found it infinitely better than the first. It was so much darker, more adult, more extreme. There are even more twists, more pain and heartache, but it is brilliantly executed. So often you get the feeling that the ‘middle’ book in a trilogy is just to waste time, just to spread out the story out before you get to the big finish. I definitely did not feel that way with this book. Ultimately it does lead to another cliff-hanger, and sets the plot up very well for the third book, but I didn’t feel cheated. I absolutely loved it. 

I highly recommend these books; whether you read lots of sci-fi, or only a little, this is a fantastic new trilogy, and Laini Taylor is definitely one to watch out for. 

Suitable for age 14+

Love From,

Original Book Girl

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Insurgent by Veronica Roth

Insurgent by Veronica Roth

‘Niles offers me the syringe. I position it over the vein in my neck, insert the needle, and press the plunger. I barely feel the pinch. I am too charged with adrenaline.’

I couldn’t help myself, having just finished the second in the Divergent trilogy, I felt the need to discuss.

I was over the moon to receive an ARC of Insurgent, and resisted (with quite some difficulty) the temptation to drop the book I was in the middle of reading in favor of this gem.

After discovering she is Divergent – which almost cost her her life – Tris along with the rest of her faction need to abandon their home to keep themselves safe. Wracked by grief and guilt from the attack, she becomes ever more reckless struggling to accept her future. But someone is still keeping secrets, and Tris needs to be strong if she is to uncover the truth behind her society.

Part of me forgot how much I loved reading Divergent, as it was the middle of last year when I first picked it up as a longlist judge. The main character, Tris, is not particularly likeable, which is something that makes the story a little more interesting.
In this second novel, we learn a little more about the other factions such as Amity and Candor – if you haven’t taken the faction quiz on facebook, you are missing out! I liked the introduction of more characters specifically from the other factions; it really gave a bit more variation to the plot, and to the character personality types.

Of course, Insurgent is a very ‘inbetween’ novel, as is generally expected with the second in a trilogy. However, I wasn’t disappointed because there was lots of new information, and an unbelievable cliff hanger at the end. I’m not quite sure where Veronica is headed at this point, because it seems like thew final part of the story will be utter chaos, but perhaps that is the point.

If you liked Divergent, you will not be disappointed by Insurgent. If you haven’t even read Divergent, but love either The Hunger Games or dystopian fiction, then definitely give this trilogy a go – it’s worth it.

Love From,

Original Book Girl

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Delirium by Lauren Oliver

Delirium by Lauren Oliver

‘Sometimes I feel like if you just watch things, just sit still and let the world exist in front of you – sometimes I swear that just for a second time freezes and the world pauses in its tilt. Just for a second. And if you somehow found a way to live in that second, then you would live forever.’

Imagine that love is a disease, and it must be cured by all costs. The disease turns you crazy, you can expect a rapid heartbeat, a flurry of overwhelming emotions, the inability to think rationally, and often the patient would rather die than be healed of this terrible ailment.

I thought the concept was very imaginative; using love as the main problem in society brings a slightly new twist to what is becoming a fairly common dystopian scenario – there’s a government trying to control the population by taking away individuality. Well, we’ve seen this many times before, and in many new YA dystopian novels, but that didn’t stop me from enjoying Delirium. I wasn’t quite as gripped as I was with something like The Hunger Games or Divergent for example, but I do like Lauren Oliver’s writing, and I was a fan of her previous book Before I Fall.
I will be reading Pandemonium (the second in this trilogy) when I get the chance, although I think these constant YA trilogies will very soon wear me out!

If dystopian futures are your bag, then you may want to give Delirium a try.

Love From,

Original Book Girl

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Pure by Julianna Baggott

Pure by Julianna Baggott

‘Swirling ash – it’s not all bad. In fact, it can be beautiful, the lit swirl. She doesn’t want to see beauty in it, but she does. She finds little moments of beauty everywhere – even in ugliness.’

When the detonations went off, it left everything and everyone outside the dome genetically mutated. Those inside the dome were spared, sealing themselves off from the outside world, they became the Pures.
Outside the dome, short of food and shelter in an ash-filled world, Pressia Belze is struggling to stay alive. Simultaneously, inside the dome, Partridge Willux is on a mission to find the truth; what really lies beyond the dome? And what caused the detonations in the first place?

A fantastic new dystopian novel from Julianna Baggott; an author who until now, has written under the pen names: Bridget Asher and N.E. Bode
Pure was originally intended to be a YA novel, but at the last-minute it was changed to adult fiction. Honestly I feel it is very much a crossover novel; entertaining for both younger and older readers.
There is a little bit of blood and gore, but not too much. I loved that her characters were imperfect in a physical way – Pressia with her doll’s head fist, and Bradwell with his bird-infused back – because it really gave a little something extra to the novel.
I am a big fan of Julianna’s writing, her scenes depict a macabre beauty mixed with a desolate and desperate landscape for the story to play out in. It is a more complex and thought-out dystopia than something like Divergent (hence it appeals to an adult audience as well), and you will be engrossed from beginning to end. I’m looking forward to the sequel!

Suitable for age 14+

Love From,

Original Book Girl

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Divergent by Veronica Roth

Divergent by Veronica Roth

‘Somewhere inside me is a merciful, forgiving person. Somewhere there is a girl who tries to understand what people are going through, who accepts that people do evil things and that desperation leads them to darker places than they ever imagined. I swear she exists, and she hurts for the repentant boy I see in front of me.

But if I saw her, I wouldn’t recognize her.’

As much as I hate using this phrase, in this case it is true; if you liked The Hunger Games, you will love Divergent.

Set in a dystopian future, 16 year-old Tris is living in a world divided into factions. Upon turning 16, each child must take an aptitude test to find their most suitable faction. After making their choice, they face countless initiation tests that push them to their limit. If they choose a faction different to that of their family, they must never see their family again.

There are five factions:

The 5 Factions

CandorThe Honest
EruditeThe Intelligent
AmityThe Peaceful
DauntlessThe Brave
and Tris’ family’s own faction, AbnegationThe Selfless.

However, Tris has an ability that singles her out from the others, but can she understand how to use it before it’s too late?

I liked this book in the same way I liked the Hunger Games. It is fast-paced, there is a lot going on and many surprises to be found. Tris is very much one of the ‘new’ teenage heroines people have been talking about, much like Katniss Everdeen. She’s strong, defiant, and fights for what she believes in.

There’s no denying that a lot of these new dystopian stories recycle many bits and pieces from older dystopian novels, but I don’t think that really takes away from the fact it is an enjoying read. The colour-coded factions in Divergent are reminiscent of The Handmaid’s Tale, but seeing as that was one of my favourite books as a young girl, I didn’t particularly mind being reminded of it. Veronica Roth certainly puts her own spin on dystopia, and I found the characters engaging and realistic. The jumping-out-of-trains part was a little less believable, but still entertaining nonetheless.

As with many recent YA books, this is set to be another trilogy. The second book Insurgent is out in May, and you can be sure I’m going to read it!

Suitable for age 13+

Love From,

Original Book Girl

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The Chaos Walking Trilogy by Patrick Ness

‘Without a filter, a man is just chaos walking.’

The Chaos Walking Trilogy by Patrick Ness

‘”War is like a monster,” he says, almost to himself. “War is the devil. It starts and it consumes and it grows and grows and grows.” He’s looking at me now. “And otherwise normal men become monsters, too.”‘

I feel that the Chaos Walking trilogy can only really be reviewed all together, as a whole.
Each book is so closely linked to the one before, and each time the story begins exactly where it left off.

Todd Hewitt is the last boy left in Prentisstown; a place full of ‘noise’ where the private thoughts of every man and animal are audible. He has been told that all the women were killed by a ‘germ’ released by the native species; the Spackle.
One day Todd stumbles across a patch of complete silence, but that’s impossible, isn’t it?
Soon he begins to uncover the secrets of Prentisstown, and discovers that everyone has been lying to him…
Along with his dog Manchee, he must flee the town and escape the Mayor, only then can he discover the truth about his world.

It is by far one of the best stories I have ever had the pleasure to read. Once you become engrossed in this trilogy, it will take you over. You will find yourself thinking about it day and night, worrying about the lives of the characters you feel for so strongly.
It won numerous awards including the 2009 Costa Book Award, The Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize, the Booktrust Teenage Prize, and many others, and I am not the least bit surprised.

‘It’s not that you should never love something so much that it can control you.
It’s that you need to love something that much so you can never be controlled.
It’s not a weakness.
It’s your best strength.’

This is by no means a light read. It is deep, heavy, engrossing, all-encompassing and beyond brilliant. I did feel a bit overwhelmed in parts, especially by the time I reached the third book, Monsters of Men. There is just so much going on, so many psychological factors, and an awful lot of war, but this just adds to the wonder of these books. They are so detailed, so well thought out, and the characters feel more real than I ever thought possible in a novel. It is an exhilarating read, and frankly, an astounding and heartbreaking three novels.

In the first book The Knife of Never Letting Go, and the second The Ask and the Answer, Patrick Ness occasionally shows huge amounts of ‘noise’ by big overlapping scribbled words on the page. This is such an inventive technique and so effective at making you feel as if you are right there in the middle of story. I have recommended this trilogy to everyone under the sun, and have had many pleased parents come back to tell me how both they and their teenage children have thoroughly enjoyed it.

This is definitely not just a book for children, it is for adults too. So far, I haven’t met a single person, either adult or child, who didn’t enjoy the Chaos Walking trilogy.

I actually want to cover Patrick Ness with huge hugs and kisses for bringing such a brilliant series of books into the world. You genius, you. 🙂

Suitable for age 12+

Love From,

Original Book Girl

N.B. This trilogy was actually recommended to me by the wonderful Lindsey Barraclough, author of Long Lankin.

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