King’s Cage

Title: King’s Cage
Author: Victoria Aveyard
Series: Red Queen, book 3/4
Genre: Dystopian, Fantasy, Romance, YA
Publisher: Harper Teen
Release Date: February 7th, 2017

 
 
Note: This post reviews the third book of the Red Queen series. You may like to read the first two books in the series, Red Queen and Glass Sword, before reading this review. 
Mild spoilers.

After willingly offering herself in exchange for the safety of her friends, Mare is a prisoner of the boy king, Maven. Maven, messed up as he is, has an obsession with Mare. In his own broken way, he wants her, and even needs her with him. But that does not keep her from suffering. Forced to live with her powers stripped from her, Mare lives in isolation, used as a mouthpiece to deliver false information to the kingdom of Norta concerning the Scarlet Guard. 

Meanwhile, Cal, the exiled prince still stuck within the Scarlet Guard, is trying desperately to find a way to rescue Mare. Finally, after months (and hundreds of pages into the book), the Scarlet Guard succeeds. But the damage he has inflicted on her is not easily forgotten, and Mare knows that she still has a part to play in Maven’s downfall. 

The great Silver houses are now in opposition. Some still stand with King Maven, others are ready to see an end to his reign. The Scarlet Guard, having won a few victories already, are stronger than ever. These Reds and newbloods will see the boy king destroyed. 

This book’s pace felt slow like the book before it. Overall, the series lost momentum after book one.

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Glass Sword

Title: Glass Sword
Author: Victoria Aveyard
Series: Red Queen, book 2/4
Genre: Dystopian, Fantasy, Romance, YA 
Publisher: Harper Teen
Release Date: February 9th, 2016

 
 
Note: This post reviews the second book of the Red Queen series. You may like to read the first book in the series, Red Queen, before reading this review.
 

Mild spoilers. 

Mare has narrowly escaped the clutches of the newly crowned King Maven. His treason has been carefully masked, portraying his brother, Cal, as the true traitor who murdered their father, with the help of Mare. Both Mare and Cal are on the run with the Scarlet Guard, the resistance group of Reds that defies the Silvers; Mare is a member of the group, Cal a prisoner.

Cal gradually finds himself working with the resistance group he had sought to take down, for now they have a common interest: to kill Maven. Cal proves himself useful, not only as a skilled soldier, but also as a pilot. But there is still division between them, particularly with Mare. Their attraction throughout the book is almost tangible, but their blood continues to separate them.

Mare’s mission now is to find “newbloods,” the Reds like herself, with powers like the Silvers. With the help of Farley (captain of the Scarlet Guard), Shade (her brother), Kilorn (her friend), and Cal, Mare tracks down these newbloods and tries to recruit them before Maven finds and kills them.

The pace of this book was slower than the last book. I liked it, but the series lost momentum from book one to book two.

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Red Queen

 
Title: Red Queen
Author: Victoria Aveyard
Series: Red Queen, book 1/4 
Genre: Dystopian, Fantasy, Romance, YA
Publisher: Harper Teen
Release Date: February 10th, 2015 


Mare Barrow is a Red; that is, her blood is red, and that makes her a commoner. All Reds are considered inferior to the Silvers, the nobility who are close to gods with their different powers. They are cruel, ruling over the Reds with unquestionable authority. 
After a chance meeting with a man from the palace, Mare is summoned there the next day to work as a servant, miraculously escaping her inevitable conscription in the war. Her palace duties throw her into a crowd gathered for the competition of the crown prince’s hand in marriage. Mare cannot believe her eyes when she sees that the man she met the night before, is none other than the crown prince himself.

Mare accidentally produces a surge of lightening in an attempt to protect herself. Mare, just as surprised as the Silvers, flees for her life, but is captured. The King and Queen cannot let people know what she truly is, so they form a lie that she is really a Silver, not a Red. In addition, Mare is betrothed to Cal’s younger brother, Maven, as a way to secure her secret. Meanwhile, Cal is betrothed to another. Mare and Cal, both are betrothed to other people, have an obvious attraction to one another.

The theme of this story is betrayal: the secret romance of Mare and Cal; Mare’s involvement in the Scarlet Guard, a resistance group trying to overthrow the royal family; Maven’s own participation in the Scarlet Guard; and the betrayal of family against family that unravels at the end.

I loved this first book of the series. Well done, Victoria Aveyard, for writing such a captivating debut!

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Reached


Title: Reached
Author: Ally Condie
Series: Matched Series, book 3/3
Genre: Dystopian, Romance, Sci-Fi, YA
Publisher: the Penguin Group
Release Date: November 13th, 2012

 
Note: This post reviews the third book of the Matched trilogy. You may like to read the first two books in the series, Matchedand Crossed, before reading this review.  
 
Cassia, Ky, and Xander are now a part of the Rising, the resistance group that has been moving in secret for many years. They are each assigned to different roles, which leads them in different directions.
The Rising emerges at the outbreak of the Plague, threatening the masses. They provide the cure – not the Society. But when an unforeseen mutation caused by the cure begins to develop, neither the Society or the Rising has a solution. It is up to Cassia, Ky, and Xander to search for a final cure themselves. Some are immune to this mutation – but not all.
 
This conclusion to the Matched trilogy was the most exciting of the three books. I liked the series as a whole, and recommend it to readers of dystopian fiction. 

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Crossed

Title: Crossed
Author: Ally Condie
Series: Matched Series, book 2/3
Genre: Dystopian, Romance, Sci-Fi, YA
Publisher: the Penguin Group
Release Date: November 1st, 2011

This post reviews the second book of the Matched trilogy. You may like to read the first book in the series, Matched, before reading this review. 

Cassia has been relocated to the Tana Province on a 3-month work assignment in the fields. When she sees her chance to escape from her own assignment, she takes it. She flees with one of the girls from her work group, Indie, in hopes of reaching the Outer Provinces to find Ky. Meanwhile, in the Outer Provinces, people are not lasting long. The Society is using its lowest members, the Aberrations and Anomalies, to fight in the war against the Enemy. Ky, among the Aberrations, escapes with two companions.

Both groups of runaways escape into the Carving, a great maze-like canyon in the middle of the desert, and accidentally find each other. Their new focus is to find the Rising, the resistance against the Society.

I really liked the change in points of view between Cassia and Ky. Not only does this make things more interesting, but we also get to see into the heart of Ky in a way that we couldn’t in book one. Crossed kept me interested, but the first half of the book was rather slow until Cassia and Ky finally met up.

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Matched

Title: Matched
Author: Ally Condie
Series: Matched Series, book 1/3
Genre: Dystopian, Romance, Sci-Fi, YA
Publisher: the Penguin Group

Release Date: November 30th, 2010

The Society in Matched is a highly controlled, analyzed civilization. Part of this analysis is the Matching system, where the Society chooses your spouse. When Cassia’s Match is revealed to be Xander, her best friend, she couldn’t be more pleased. But another match is revealed – Ky, someone she knows little about. This glitch is unheard of in Society. Is her Match Xander, or Ky?

Cassia unintentionally interacts more regularly with Ky. As they spend time together, trust develops and they share parts of themselves that no one else knows. They step into dangerous territory, not just in the all-controlling Society, but in their own hearts.

I enjoyed this book, though it was slow at times, and I’m excited to see where Cassia’s decisions take her in the next book in the series, Crossed.

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Happily Ever After

Title: Happily Ever After
Author: Kiera Cass
Series: The Selection Series, a companion
Genre: Dystopian, Romance, YA
Publisher: Harper Teen

Release Date: October 13, 2015

Note: This book is a collection of short stories that is written as a companion to The Selection Series. It is the perfect book to pick up after you have read The Selection, The Elite, and The One when you are still wanting more from these lovable characters. 

The first novella, The Queen, takes us back to the time of King Clarkson’s own Selection and shows how Amberly was chosen. Originating from a lowly caste number, Amberly’s ascension to the throne of Illea is reminiscent of America’s. They are both down to earth, kind, beautiful women. But Amberly is much more soft-spoken and gentle than her feisty daughter-in-law.

 

The Prince, second of the novellas, was my favorite. The story picks up right before his Selection is about to take place. This time, we see everything through his eyes, and I might even prefer this perspective to America’s. Even though I knew the story from beginning to end, I wanted to know everything that happened from Maxon’s point of view. Note to Kiera Cass: PLEASE finish writing the entirety of The Selection Series from Maxon’s experience!

It is only right that Aspen, the other love interest, should get his own novella, too. In The Guard, Aspen shows us a bit of his view of life at the palace. He knows he will always care about America, but as he sees her feelings for Maxon grow, he begins to let her go. Only when he has let her go does he begin to develop new feelings for Lucy, her maid. Though we already know that they fall in love, it is fun to watch it happen.

And finally, The Favorite, is about America’s beautiful bestie, Marlee. During the Selection, Marlee and America bonded fast, and it was she who was the people’s favorite. And when Marlee is publicly punished, America is heartbroken and blames Maxon. But as we see clearly in this novella, Maxon is indeed being merciful to Marlee and Carter, the guard she loves. Not only does he save their lives, but he secretly gives them jobs at the palace after they have become 8’s, the very lowest in society. He also arranges for them to get married in private. All because of his love for America.

This book is a fun compilation of stories that gives us more depth and color to characters we though we already knew pretty well. It even includes scenes, rather than short stories, about Celeste, Lucy, and even Maxon and America after 2 years of marriage (and it’s adorable). If you enjoyed the rest of The Selection Series, you won’t be disappointed in Happily Ever After.

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The Crown

Title: The Crown
Author: Kiera Cass
Series: The Selection Series, book 5/6
Genre: Dystopian, Romance, YA
Publisher: Harper Teen

Release Date: May 3rd, 2016

Note: This post reviews the fifth book of The Selection Series. You may like to read the first four books in the series,  The Selection, The Elite, The One, and The Heir before reading this review.

Mild spoilers. 

Princess Eadlyn is down to her final few suitors in her Selection. Though she was very much against this “competition” in the beginning, she has begun to care about the remaining men.  She and her childhood acquaintance, Kile, are more than amiable at this point and we can definitely see the possibility of Eadlyn choosing him.  But she also sees potential in the others as well, including Erik – who is not actually a competitor, but only a translator.

In addition to the ongoing Selection, Eadlyn must assume more responsibilities of the Crown due to family crisis. This is her time to be there for her people, and to prove to them that she can be a capable and good leader for Illea. The pressure of ruling and choosing a man to stand by her side and help her weighs down on our heroine. Will she be able rule well? Will she choose wisely as the Selection comes to an end?

As I mentioned in my previous post, The Heir, I enjoyed this book and the way it showed the next generation. However, I did not love these books about Eadlyn the way I loved the first three books about her father, Maxon, and his love, America. I was hoping these two books about Eadlyn would be just as great and captivating, but they were not. By the end of the books, it didn’t matter to me who she ended up with – I just didn’t care. All in all, I truly love this series as a whole! I just might have been okay if the last two books had never been written.

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The Heir

Title: The Heir
Author: Kiera Cass
Series: The Selection Series, book 4/6
Genre: Dystopian, Romance, YA
Publisher: Harper Teen

Release Date: May 5th, 2015

Note: This post reviews the fourth book of The Selection Series. You may like to read the first three books in the series, The Selection, The Elite, and The One before reading this review. 

Mild spoilers. 

The Selection competition is about to begin again, but this time, everything is different. This Selection is to be held for Princess Eadlyn, heir to the throne of Illea and the daughter of King Maxon and Queen America. In the past, the Selection has always been held for the prince. Now, it will be the Princess doing the choosing – and unlike her father, she is not happy about it.

Meet Eadlyn – strong, capable, and powerful. Growing up having anything and everything she could ever want, the Princess is spoiled. (And rude) But, of course, very beautiful. She agrees to go along with the Selection that her parents so desperately want her to do, on the condition that if she does not fall in love within 3 months, the contestants will be released from the palace and she can go on with her life. Let the competition begin.

I definitely enjoyed this book and the way it showed the next generation, but I didn’t fall in love with it in the same way that I did with the first 3 books. Maxon and America were such lovable characters right from the start, and Eadlyn was a character that I had to grow to like (by the end of the book). As a reader, I find it hard to be invested in a story when I don’t really like the character or feel any kind of connection. Having said that, I still love this series as a whole.

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