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DNF Reviews: Illusive, Raven Boys, Stormdancer

Thursday, June 26, 2014
by Emily Lloyd-Jones

Genre: YA Science Fiction   Hardback: 416 Pages
Publication: July 15, 2014 by Little Brown BFYR

When the MK virus swept across the planet, a vaccine was created to stop the epidemic, but it came with some unexpected side effects. A small percentage of the population developed superhero-like powers. Seventeen-year-old Ciere Giba has the handy ability to change her appearance at will. She's what's known as an illusionist...She's also a thief.

After a robbery goes awry, Ciere must team up with a group of fellow super-powered criminals on another job that most would consider too reckless. The formula for the vaccine that gave them their abilities was supposedly destroyed years ago. But what if it wasn't?

The lines between good and bad, us and them, and freedom and entrapment are blurred as Ciere and the rest of her crew become embroiled in a deadly race against the government that could cost them their lives.

The premise to Illusive is interesting. I'm always up for a superpower book. (My brother introduced me to the web serial Worm and I had to stop cold turkey because I was so addicted to it and wasn't getting any blogwork done - definitely plan to get back to it sometime though!) And I like how there are limitations to the powers. For example, Ciere has difficulty spreading her illusions to her surroundings, and technology will see through her illusions.

What didn't work for me is that I could never really connect with the characters and their plight, specifically Ciere and Daniel, the two narrators. Ciere was an especial problem because she's the primary narrator. She's overly naïve for someone who's supposedly been in the criminal life since a young age, and I don't feel like she has sufficient motivation for hiding some things from her fellow criminals. The more interesting characters are Kit and Magnus, but they don't have much star time and mostly hover at the background as the older members who have a shady past and aren't telling what they know.

The writing is also not very cohesive. The story takes a while to get the plot moving and doesn't spend much time going through the details. And as my brother noticed when he followed me along for several pages, there is an excessive overuse of dialogue tags. These are more minor complaints though and would normally be what separates a book that I liked from one that I loved. This time, it's what kept me reading as long as I did, waiting to see what happens.

When it comes to YA superpower books with a youthful voice, I enjoyed Transparent by Natalie Whipple much more (read my review here).

DNF 54% into the novel

Content: drinking, partying, violence

A copy was provided by Little Brown for review

The Raven Boys
The Raven Cycle #1, by Maggie Stiefvater

Genre: YA Paranormal Romance   Hardback: 409 Pages
Publication: September 18, 2012 by Scholastic Press

Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue herself never sees them—not until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks directly to her.

His name is Gansey, and Blue soon discovers that he is a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble.

But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can’t entirely explain. He has it all—family money, good looks, devoted friends—but he’s looking for much more than that. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents all the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul who ranges from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher of the four, who notices many things but says very little.

For as long as she can remember, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love to die. She never thought this would be a problem. But now, as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.

The writing is filled with beautiful descriptions that bring the emotions and story to life. There is a mystic quality to it that you don't often find in YA books. I like how the story alternates perspectives among different characters in order to round the plot; however, this ended up working against the story for me. I never felt like I really got to know any of the characters. Really get into their minds. Also, it wasn't until about halfway into the story that it felt like the action was picking up, and by then I wasn't interested in pursuing the story further.

I've seen fantastic reviews for The Raven Boys though. I might pick this up some other time. I just don't know what the chances are since I've read and dnfed Shiver and The Scorpio Races as well. As beautiful Stiefvater's writing, and as interesting as her characters have been, for me in the past, the pacing of her stories just isn't working for me.

DNF 51% into the novel - slow pacing, still didn't feel like anything was happening.

Content: N/A

A copy was provided by Scholastic for review

by Jay Kristoff

Genre: YA Fantasy   Hardback: 313 Pages
Publication: September 18, 2012 by Thomas Dunne Books

The Shima Imperium verges on the brink of environmental collapse; an island nation once rich in tradition and myth, now decimated by clockwork industrialization and the machine-worshipers of the Lotus Guild. The skies are red as blood, the land is choked with toxic pollution, and the great spirit animals that once roamed its wilds have departed forever.

The hunters of Shima’s imperial court are charged by their Shōgun to capture a thunder tiger – a legendary creature, half-eagle, half-tiger. But any fool knows the beasts have been extinct for more than a century, and the price of failing the Shōgun is death.

Yukiko is a child of the Fox clan, possessed of a talent that if discovered, would see her executed by the Lotus Guild. Accompanying her father on the Shōgun’s hunt, she finds herself stranded: a young woman alone in Shima’s last wilderness, with only a furious, crippled thunder tiger for company. Even though she can hear his thoughts, even though she saved his life, all she knows for certain is he’d rather see her dead than help her.

But together, the pair will form an indomitable friendship, and rise to challenge the might of an empire.

Interesting world with beautiful descriptions, but it's hard to get into the language and culture of the world. The writing / voice is also hard to follow. I've heard great things about this book, and I'm still interested in how the action goes down later though. I might pick this up at a later time.

DNF 12% into the novel

Content: violence

A copy was provided by Macmillan for review

4 comments on "DNF Reviews: Illusive, Raven Boys, Stormdancer"
  1. I agree with you about the Raven Boys; it is very slow.

  2. I LOVED The Raven Boys! I found it fast paced and I Totally connected with the characters.

    I totally understand why you didn't enjoy the other two though I never read them.

    Lovely review :)

  3. Uhg. I do hate DNFing books. But it happens, especially when you read as many as we do. I enjoyed both Raven Boys (though I DNFed the second one for pretty much the same reasons you did with the first) and Stormdancer, I totally understand why they didn't work for you.

    1. Yeah, I hate DNFing books, but I've learned when I need to let go of a book. I'm glad Raven Boys worked out for you. It's such an interesting read. I just couldn't get into it though.


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