Book Review: Skyhunter by Marie Lu

I wasn’t sure whether or not to review this because I completely gave up on being impartial about Marie Lu’s books about 6 years ago- but in the end, I couldn’t keep my thoughts to myself. Surprise, surprise, this is not going to be a balanced review. It is instead going to be a short summary, followed by a post full of fangirling. You’ve been warned.

Skyhunter is the story of Talin, a specially-trained soldier, or Striker, for her struggling nation, Mara. Set far, far into the future, after the collapse of the world as we know it, Mara is the only land that remains un-colonised by the ever-growing Federation, and Talin is one of many, fighting on the front lines to defend from the oncoming attack, from humans, technological human experiments and ghosts, which are monstrous beings trained to obey the Federation’s every command.

When a presumed Federation soldier wanders into their territory, all but Talin are happy to watch him suffer for their actions, but Talin feels a strange connection that forces her to risk her own life for him. When he is later paired up as her partner, she discovers that there is more to him than meets the eye, and that he may become the key to their survival and a vital look into the Federation’s plans.

There are elements of Legend and Warcross in this book that were impossible for me to ignore. Marie Lu is incredible at writing dystopia, especially dystopia surrounding technology and world domination, and this book was really no different. The characters were as instantly fascinating as any of her books and I found myself loving and hating exactly who I was supposed to. Talin is a fierce, incredibly well-developed protagonist, suffering from a lot of internal struggle about her duties, her heart and her sense of belonging, and Red is an intriguing, unique and equally powerful character to read. Jeran as well, a close friend, a fierce soldier and a very useful translator for Red and Talin, was a particular favourite character of mine. I loved seeing him develop as the story went on, after finding myself particularly invested in him from the very beginning.

This story is fast-paced, exciting and completely immersive. I got sucked in so quickly to the world of Mara and the Federation that I completely forgot the outside world, caring only about their story and their survival. The technology Marie Lu invents is believable, the world is so detailed that it’s impossible not to find yourself in the story with them, and the characters are the kind that you want to keep in your mind forever.

Rather than recommending this book, I urge you to read it. Or read Warcross, or The Young Elites, or Legend, or The Kingdom of Back (which I also *cough* reviewed, here). Marie Lu’s books are incomparable: inclusive, diverse, thrilling, immersive and incredibly original. This book has further solidified her status as my favourite author of all time, and I can only hope that, if you take my advice and read it, you’ll see exactly what I mean.

Rating: 5/5 (obviously…)

Book Review: Kpop Confidential by Stephen Lee

And… here we have another kpop/YA book review! At the same time as I received my ARC of Shine by Jessica Jung, I also received a finished copy of Kpop Confidential, so I am adoring the theme of my autumn reading so far.

Anyway- thank you so much to Chicken House for sending me a copy of this book!

Kpop Confidential follows a fifteen year-old Korean-American girl named Candace who, on a whim, enters a global competition to become a trainee at S.A.Y Entertainment in Korea, and suddenly finds herself being swept up into the not-so-glamorous lifestyle of a celebrity-in-training.

After a begrudging acceptance from her parents, Candace leaves behind her life in the United States for a summer, with the ultimatum that she will either end the summer as a debuted kpop idol or back as a high school student in New Jersey. She is rapidly inducted into a world of no social media, brutal dieting, dating bans and torturous hours of training.

As she faces the struggles of falling in love when dating is strictly prohibited, living in a dorm with the meanest girl in training, and not being able to dance when trying to debut in a dancing idol group, Candace has to commit wholeheartedly to her new trainee lifestyle and forget that there is anything at all outside the walls of her training HQ.

This book has a protagonist who, somewhat unwillingly, finds herself stepping on some toes to get to the top, an entertaining love triangle (with, in my opinion, an obvious favourite…) and some very strong friendships that were incredibly refreshing to read about against the backdrop of all the trainee backstabbing and blackmail.

I really enjoyed this book. Perhaps because of the fifteen year old protagonist, it seemed a little younger than a lot of the YA I’ve read lately, but it was still a cute, easy read with enough drama to keep me turning the pages throughout. Without spoiling anything, I loved the direction that the story ended up going in and found myself satisfied with this book from start to finish. I would definitely recommend to kpop lovers, YA lovers and anyone looking for a whirlwind of a story about dedication, passion, drama and friendship.

Rating: 4/5

ARC REVIEW: FORESHADOW by Nova Ren Suma, Emily X.R. Pan, et al.

This is my first time reviewing a short story anthology, and only my fifth time reading one (my former favourite being Slasher Girls and Monster Boys), so I’m honestly not entirely sure how to go about this! BUT I know that I loved the collection and wanted to share my thoughts with you, so here we go:

*Thank you to Algonquin Young Readers for the e-ARC of this wonderful collection*

Foreshadow is an anthology of short stories by thirteen incredible, diverse and lesser-known Young Adult authors, introduced by a variety of famous names. Each story is followed by a short essay by Nova Ren Suma or Emily X. R. Pan about a theme, motif or technique used within, and each essay is followed by a writing prompt on a similar theme.

I adored this collection. When I first heard about it, I was instantly obsessed, and when I started reading, that didn’t change at all. The range in these stories means that there is at least one in the collection that everyone will love, and I found myself constantly surprised by the genre variance from one tale to the next. It’s consistent in the way that each story resonates with the reader, but uses an incredible array of settings, genres and voices to achieve this. It is easy to see how every single author used their own personality to shape their contribution to this collection and it was fascinating to become so invested in thirteen different plots in such a short space of time.

I do have to admit that a couple of the stories weren’t my favourite, but the entire concept of this collection completely made up for it. I found that, even if a specific story wasn’t for me, I connected with the characters anyway and looked forward to the analysis that followed. Plus, whether I loved them all or not, I can easily say that every story in this book is edited to perfection. A few of my favourites (that were 5/5 reads easily) were ESCAPE, SOLACE, GLOW and BREAK, all of which have inspired me to check out the authors in the hope that they have something else I can read immediately.

This beautiful collection showcases the diversity that Young Adult Fiction has to offer, as well as the depth that can be achieved in a short story, which is interesting for all readers, but especially for aspiring authors. This collection made me want to open up a new document and start writing after every single story, and I haven’t read anything powerful enough to inspire me like that in a long time.  I would recommend this to anyone who is looking for a diverse and thought-provoking collection of stories by up-and-coming new authors, but would argue that it’s essential reading for anyone who wants to be inspired to begin (or continue) their own writing journey.

RATING: 5/5

Side note: this collection was originally a digital anthology, published at foreshadowya.com, where there are additional stories and content warnings for everything included in this collection!

Foreshadow comes out on October 20th 2020.

BOOK REVIEW: CLAP WHEN YOU LAND by Elizabeth Acevedo

*Thank you to Hot Key Books for the e-arc*

I don’t throw the term ‘one of the best books I’ve ever read’ around often, but it’s impossible not to consider this one of the most beautiful, poignant stories I’ve ever read, both in terms of the writing style and the dual stories.

‘Clap When You Land’ follows Yahaira and Camino, two half-siblings who don’t know that the other exists, and who find this out quite drastically following the death of their father. When they each find out that their father had two families and, effectively, two lives, they are heartbroken and confused, and having to deal with that in addition to their loss is a pain that they both face very differently and very beautifully.

I couldn’t choose a favourite character of the two. Both are strong and independent, and I think it makes the book all the more heartbreaking that they both try to be strong throughout it all. It made me more emotional to think about how much they were trying to hold it together than I think it would be to see them both fall apart. Both Yahaira and Camino are two of the most emotionally mature, and yet still believable, teenagers I’ve ever read. The other characters in the story also had an incredible amount of depth to them that I was certainly impressed by, and I found myself becoming invested in the plots of all of the characters, rather than just Yahaira and Camino.

The writing style in this book is something that totally blew me away. I have never read a book in verse before and, when I first started, I was a little sceptical about whether I would be able to read an entirely (relatively long) novel that is written this way. Within pages, though, I was completely hooked. It was so easy to get pulled through the book and I was halfway through before it even felt like I’d started. It’s such an easy book to read, despite the intense and meaningful plot.

The lives that are portrayed in this story are extremely contrasting, but both were equally captivating, and I finished this book in a day because I literally couldn’t put it down. The combination of Yahaira’s determination, Camino’s strength and an incredibly beautiful verse writing style definitely made this my most memorable book of the year so far, and I know for a fact that I will be picking up everything I can by Elizabeth Acevedo.

If you’ve read this book, I’d love to hear if you were as completely gripped as I was. Also, if you have any similar recommendations, I would love to hear them! This is a style that I think I might be quickly falling in love with….

RATING: 5/5

My Most Anticipated 2020 Releases

Happy New Year! I want to start by saying that I hope you all have a wonderful year and achieve everything you hope to achieve (in life, and in Goodreads’ Reading Challenge!). There’s so much I want to get done this year, and reading an obscene amount of books is a part of that.

That being said, there are so many new books coming out this year that have jumped straight to the top of my TBR. Without further ado, here are my most anticipated reads of 2020.

A Throne of Swans by Katherine and Elizabeth Korr

I was gifted a copy of this book a week ago and I’m itching to start it. With dark fantasy elements, shapeshifters, royalty and revenge, I’m certain that this is going to be incredible. It comes out really soon and I’m excited to see how everyone else enjoys it too.

Release date: 09/01/2020

You can get a copy here.

Yes No Maybe So by Becky Albertalli and Aisha Saeed

I hadn’t heard of this book until I received it in a box from Book Box Club. Now, having looked into it a little, I’m convinced it’s going to be amazing.

This book is about cross-cultural romance and political activism, which are both incredibly important topics. This is definitely one of the books I’m most excited about this year.

Release date: 04/02/2020

You can get a copy here.

The Kingdom of Back by Marie Lu

If you follow me on twitter, or have ever read any of my other blog posts, this probably won’t come as a surprise. Marie Lu is my favourite author of all time and I’ve wanted a copy of this book since before I even knew it existed.

This book is a historical fantasy about Mozart’s sister. When she becomes downhearted about being overshadowed by her prodigal brother, she finds herself being swept into a fantasy world of her own creation. I cannot wait to read this book. Music and fantasy are two things I’m passionate about, and Marie Lu’s writing could make this story truly incredible.

Release date: 03/03/2020

You can get a copy here.

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins

This book kind of goes without saying. As someone who got hooked on YA in 2014, The Hunger Games was a staple on my bookshelf. Although my obsession with the series has definitely worn off over time, I owe it to my former self to read and fall in love with this prequel.

Release date: 19/05/2020

You can get a copy here.

Again, Again by E. Lockhart

E. Lockhart is another author whose books I will always buy. I’ve read We Were Liars a million times and I even got to meet her at a signing a couple of years ago, which was incredible.

Her newest book is Again, Again, about a girl who saves her brother from a suicide attempt, and how she deals with the emotional trauma of this in the aftermath. I know it’s going to be emotional, potentially painful and incredibly beautiful.

Release date: 11/06/2020

You can get a copy here.

I’d love to hear what your most anticipated reads of 2020 are so let me know down below! Otherwise, I hope you have an amazing year ahead.

Disclaimer: I get a small commission if you use any of my links.