Undeadly by Michele Vail

Undeadly (The Reaper Diaries, #1)Undeadly
Michele Vail
Harlequin Teen
Release Date: November 20, 2012
Series: The Reaper Diaries #1
ISBN: 9780373210466
Websites:
Rating: 3 Stars
This book has been sitting on my TBR list since its release way back in 2012. It was one of those books I wanted to read if I got the chance. Well, I finally got the chance.
My feeling on this book are a bit mixed. I really liked some aspects of it, but others, not so much.  I read this book in one sitting, but there were times when I wanted to put it down. However, I knew if I put this book down, I most likely wouldn’t be picking it up. I was hoping this book would be similar to the Mythos Academy book series or the Covenant series, but it was a bit different than that. I think I might have just been expecting more from this book than it was able to deliver.
I’ll start with what I did like. I really liked the main character, Molly. Michele Vail did a fantastic job writing a character who jumps off the page. Molly voice was one I really liked; she actually sounded like a 16 year old girl. Through her entries in her reaper diaries, you really got to see that Molly was sarcastic and sassy, but also tough and caring. Molly loves her family, despite what she finds out about herself. I was glad that the story was told from Molly’s point of view because she had enough attitude to carry the story. If she wasn’t so strong of a character, I probably would have put this book down and not looked back. 
I really loved the idea of this book. Greek gods and goddesses have been the focus of a lot of retelling recently. It was refreshing to have book focused on the Egypt gods. Personally, I love Egyptian mythology, and was glad to see this book had a focus on Anubis. It is also a zombie book, but not in the way you would expect. Zombies are common place in this world, and they don’t want to eat your brains. Ghosts and spirits also are abound in this book. But with the focus on Anubis, God of the Afterlife, that is almost to be expected.

However, there were also things I didn’t like. I felt like most of the secondary characters, with the exception of Molly’s family, were very bland. They lacked depth and were forgettable. I can’t even remember the names of her friends at Nekyia; they ended up blending into the background. And then there is Rick and Rath. I found nothing interesting in either of them. I know that Rath is supposed to be the hot reaper tutor, but I felt like I knew nothing about him. He was just there to serve as love interest. The romance was stale and felt not existent, both with Rick and Rath. Molly’s feelings for Rath came out of no where, and that annoyed me. I really wished that the secondary characters had more substance to them. 
The pacing of this book was a bit off. I was interested in the plot, but things would happen too fast and without a lot of explanation. I would have to accept some plot points without really understanding them. Other parts of the novel dragged, or just didn’t fit with what previously happened. It was a struggle to continue reading when the pacing was all over the place. 
While Undeadly did not meet my expectations, I enjoyed most of it. Molly was a great character who was able to make me laugh and sympathize with her. I definitely want to see what happens next, especially with an ending that is a cliffhanger. The concept of this book was very intriguing, but failed to deliver at sometimes. Despite the issues I had, I do plan on continuing this series to see where Michele Vail takes us. 

Icons by Margaret Stohl

Icons
Margaret Stohl
Publisher: Little Brown Books for Young Readers
Release Date: May 7, 2013
Series or Standalone: Icons #1
ISBN: 0316205184
Format: ARC
Pages: 428
Websites:
Rating: 3 Stars
Icons was one of those books that I couldn’t fully get into. I didn’t hate but I didn’t love it, it was mehh. Icons had a lot of potential and I am interested to see were this series goes, but as the first book in a series it felt very jumbled and disconnected.
Icons is set in the not so distant future in a post-invasion world where aliens hold the complete control and most of the population has been killed. As the tagline says “Your heart only beats with their permission.” It is hard for me to describe what sort of world, Dol, the main character, is living in because I couldn’t really get a clear picture of what it was like. This post-invasion world didn’t seem to be fully constructed which oftentimes left me feeling confused. The politics of this world also were confusing. I did not really understand why things were happening, or why the Ambassadors were so bad or what was up with the rebellion faction. I felt I had to struggle to put together the pieces of this world, something that should be clearly developed in the first book of a series.
The characters in the book left me wanting more. I couldn’t connect to any of them. They were all so flat and emotionless, though as children of the Icon, emotionless they shouldn’t be. The romance in the book felt stale, probably because of the lack of depth in the characters. The only character I found remotely interesting was Doc, and he was an artificial intelligence.
The plot was intriguing enough that it kept me turning the pages. There was plenty of action and mystery to keep me interested in finding out more. I really enjoyed how between chapters there would be different artifacts or clips that related to the plot in a  not so clear way until the end. The biggest thing that kept me reading was the mystery of the Icons. Well, that’s not fully answered in this book, but I look forward to finding more out of them.
As a first book in a series, Icons left me feeling confused and wanting more. I expected more from this book than it gave me. I’ll be reading the sequel because the story was interesting enough to make me want to keep reading, but I hope in the next book the world and characters are more developed. I can’t help but compare this post-alien invasion book to another new alien invasion book, The 5thWave by Rick Yancey, and this just falls flat in comparison to that. Hopefully Margaret Stohl can deliver more in the next Icon series book.   

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

Shadow and Bone

Leigh Bardugo
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
Release Date: June 5, 2012
Series or Standalone: The Grisha Trilogy #1
ISBN: 9780805094596
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 368
Websites:
Leigh Bardugo – Website
Leigh Bardugo – Blog
Leigh Bardugo – Twitter
Shadow and Bone – Facebook

Rating: 3 stars

I feel like I went into this book with very high expectations that it did not meet. Everywhere I looked prior to publication of this book I saw glowing reviews of this book and was super excited to read it. Shadow and Bone seemed right up my ally, and it was a YA fantasy to boot, so I couldn’t wait to read it. However, I was a bit confused about how I felt after I finished and a bit disappointed.

I liked the first half of the book, but I felt that the second half of the book fell apart for me. The pace seemed to accelerate in the second half and everything Alina knew up to that point seemed to go out the window and we were supposed to side with her. I wish that when Alina changed her mind there was more explanation.

I feel like this book really could have benefitted from a slower pace and more world building. With fantasy, world building is key and I really wished that this book had a bit more of it, especially with it being the first book in a series. I wasn’t too sure about this society and land that Alina was from and would have liked to learn more about Ravka before diving straight into the story.

Alina felt like a very flat character to me as well. I liked her, but I didn’t understand why she made the decisions she did. She was very one-dimensional and lacked a strong personality. I really wish she was a bit more developed because it would strengthen the book as a whole.

The Darkling was definitely my favorite character. He had the most engrossing personality and definitely was one of the main reasons I kept reading the book. He was surrounded by mystery and I really enjoyed trying to figure out what he was all about. Was he good or was he bad? I still think it could be up in the air and really want to see more of him.

I really would have liked to see more character development with Mal as well as with a lot of the other secondary characters. Mal, like Alina, felt flat. I feel we didn’t know enough about him to fully appreciate him as a character or become attached to him. Alina liked him but I couldn’t fully see why.

I finished this book and the first thought I had was “huh.” I will probably be sticking around to see what happens next as I did enjoy the story and want to see what happens next, despite the issues I had with the book. Hopefully in the second book, we will learn more about Ravka, the Grisha and Alina’s world as well as see more character growth. I just wish this had been a strong fantasy.