Okay lovies, I don’t know what has gotten into me, but I have been reading like crazy lately (real books, not just free e-book romances!), and it is awesome. I feel like I haven’t been an actual reader since before Squirt was born, since brain power and sleep time haven’t exactly been in abundance for the past two years, but I am finally getting back on the horse and I have read so many good books lately (and some not so good, but still fun ones). I thought I would share two of my more interesting reads with you today and see if you have read them and what you thought of them.
The first book is The Crown by Kiera Cass. The Heir and The Siren were both on my 2016 reading list, and I have finished The Heir, but have not yet picked up The Siren (it’s still on my list, promise!). The Heir and The Crown are sort of sequels to The Selection trilogy in that they focus on the daughter of American Singer, the heroine in the first three books. I think it was a cool idea to write a set of novels about America’s daughter because, with the exception of cheesy epilogues (I’m looking at you Mockingjay), we typically don’t know what happens to our favorite teen characters in their adult lives. So A+ for that plan, Kiera. While I did enjoy The Heir, this little review snippet is going to focus on The Crown, but know that you need to read The Heir first. One of the issues I had with The Crown was that it made little reference, even subtly, to what happened in the first book. I had just read it a couple of weeks beforehand and I definitely had moments where I was confused. So read both books in succession if you can!
Quick plot summary for The Crown: Eadlyn has narrowed down her selection of suitors to a reasonable number and is starting to get to know them more as real people. Kile is clearly the fan favorite as he and Eadlyn grew up together and had a bit of a romance (though a somewhat staged romance) in the first book. Eadlyn is not super popular with her subjects, so she continues to try to change her image, both through the selection process and through new ideas like town hall meetings. Some random guy whose parents apparently helped run the country with Eadlyn’s parents shows up and seems like he is helping, though he clearly is skeezy (saw that “twist” from a mile away). Some unexpected family drama happens and Eadlyn has to step up and take some responsibility, which is scary at first, but ends up being a good thing. Through it all, she continues to narrow down her suitors until she is left with two likely options. I won’t tell you how things end up, but suffice to say, she lives happily ever after.
My thoughts: This was an enjoyable read for me, and I flew through it in about two days. I definitely cried at the end, though I was also in the middle of some serious PMS so that might’ve had something to do with it. While it was enjoyable and fun, the book felt really rushed. I feel like The Selection did something that not many other books have been able to do: present the reader with two romantic leads who are both legitimately good choices. And as I read the original trilogy, I found myself rooting for both guys at different points in the series. So Cass was able to do what Stephenie Meyer was attempting, but in a way that actually worked. However, even though there is a similar situation in The Crown, it is not handled as deftly and left me feeling a bit confused. I wouldn’t say the second romance came out of nowhere, but it kind of came out of nowhere, and it certainly wasn’t developed enough for me to feel emotionally attached to both guys. In a lot of ways, I feel the same way about The Crown as I do about Allegiant: not a great way to end a really great series. The writing wasn’t as strong and the storyline wasn’t as developed as it could have been. With all that being said, I would be willing to give this one a re-read at some point in the future, and would likely enjoy it again the second time around. If you’ve read the rest of the series, definitely pick this one up.
Flawed by Cecelia Ahern was part of the April Owl Crate subscription box, which is the only reason I have already read it since I am seriously outdated when it comes to my young adult lit selections (also I’m cheap and hate buying hardcover books so I usually wait for them to come out in paperback before I buy them). I was instantly drawn to the cover of this one, and I am a big fan of dystopian novels so I was excited to read Flawed.
Quick plot summary for Flawed: Celestine is a teenage girl living at some point in the future (though a point where we still have cell phones and texting, more on that later) where everyone is expected to be flawless. The nation is ruled by the Guild, and Celestine is dating the son of the highest ranking Guild official. Basically her life seems pretty perfect. Society, however, not so much. If someone is deemed to be Flawed, sometimes for offenses as small as lying (not that you should lie, but in the grand scheme of things, not such a huge crime), they are branded (like for real, hot iron branded) and must live as social outcasts. They can still stay in their homes and work, but they are not allowed to converse with “normal” citizens and are basically treated like dirt. Celestine is someone who lives by the rules and sees things as black and white, but when she finds herself on trial for helping a Flawed society member, she starts to see that life is a little more gray. Despite one pretty obvious foreshadowing moment (it’s in the snow globe Celestine!) I really have no idea what is going to happen in the conclusion, due out next year, but I really, really want to know.
My thoughts: The basics of this novel are nothing new. Futuristic society, messed up government, teen girl stands up for what’s right and is going to change the world (five points to you if you just started singing Captain EO). But I feel like Flawed stands on its own for a couple of reasons. One, this book, to me, is written for an older audience that most teen dystopia novels. Maybe this stems from Ahern’s already established career as an adult fiction writer, but this book is definitely more mature than most young adult novels. There are parts that made me physically uncomfortable they are so disturbing. Not something I would want my thirteen year old reading, that’s for sure. Two, there are some legit surprising moments in this book. Even though I could guess some of the basic details, there were some really unexpected plot twists for me. Three, I really liked the secondary characters, maybe even more than Celestine. Her mom and grandpa were two of my faves. The final standout in my mind is something that kind of bothered me when I was in the middle of reading, but now looking back is kind of thought-provoking. There are moments in the novel that hint at this “futuristic” time period actually being right now. The citizens have cell phones and the teens text their friends. These might seem minor, but most books set in the future don’t use current technological devices quite so frequently. It’s interesting to think about these events, which as you’re reading them seem so outlandish, possibly happening sometime soon. Maybe even before the next iPhone comes out. Hmmmmm.
Okay, so sorry about this huge block of text. I promise next time to include more pictures for you! But I really hope you take the time to check out both of these books and let me know what you think. If you have already read them, leave me a comment and let me know your thoughts!
Affiliate links, y’all, get your book buying on!