While I can't do a full out review for all of these (especially as one of them I read months ago), I am going to do some mini-reviews. Bottom line is though: all of these are great books!
LEGEND - Marie Lu (#1)
Synopsis: The Western states of America are now home to the Republic. Born into an elite American family, June is Republic's prodigy training to one of the Republic's best military officers. Born in the slums, Day is the Republic's most wanted criminal although his motives for his crimes aren't as bad as they seem to the public. There is no reason for these two teenagers to cross path until June's brother, Metias, is murdered and the Republic name Day as the prime suspect. June vows to avenge Metias' death and catch Day once and for all while Day tries to help his family survival the vicious plague. As they both chase each other, they uncover the secrets the country has been hidden and the lengths they will go to make sure the public never find out.
Review: There was always something about this novel that made me hesitate when I saw it in the library or bookshop. I'm not entirely sure what it was but it may have something to do with the proud declaration on the front cover that should I like The Hunger Games, it's a given that I'll love LEGEND (like a lot of dystopians now). I finally picked it up during my blogging break, I guess because I wasn't reading to review intentionally.
However, when I started reading, I suddenly became absorbed in this startlingly different world where the military was key to the government but there was all this suspicion and secrets lying underneath the cold exteriors of the officers. June was a great protagonist, strong yet had that hint of sensitivity that comes through ever so often. I also liked Day throughout and as there wasn't much of a relationship between these two characters in this book, I hope this will develop in the next book in the series, Prodigy. The ending, oh my THE ENDING, was just...it's just happens to fast, so quick yet you're still involved and absorbed in the action and the emotions of the characters. It was incredibly well-written and clever. This book is short, unsatisfactorily short even, yet so much happens in the short amount of pages which left me finishing the book wanting the sequel immediately. This is a different kind of dystopian, one I haven't seen around which I think makes it all the more enjoyable and interesting.
I give it a 5 out of 5
ALL THESE THINGS I'VE DONE - Gabrielle Zevin (#1)
Synopsis: 2083, New York. In a society where coffee and chocolate is banned, water is rationed and New York is the centre of crime and corruption, as the daughter of the city's most notorious crime boss, now dead, and a part of the city's famous chocolate maker, Anya's life is rather normal. She goes to school, hangs out with her best friend, Scarlet, looks after her brother and sister as well as her dying grandmother. Meanwhile, she is also trying not to fall for the charming son of the DA's assistant. However, soon her ex-boyfriend is poisoned by chocolate that Anya's family manufactures and she finds herself as the prime suspect. Anya is thrust into the spotlight at school, publicly and most importantly within her mafia family after years of staying hidden away.
Review: Gabrielle Zevin is an author I would normally associate with contemporary writing with a twist after reading Elsewhere and Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac, which I enjoyed both. This book was good, and I liked it a lot especially the way it felt like the Prohibition era, with guns, gangsters, family loyalties - but with chocolate and modern technology. I think the problem is the blurb and I guess the whole damn narrative of the book. The blurb made me think this would be a book about the conflict between her and her family and the impact of that on her life and in a way it is with her romance with Win central to it all. And it is and it isn't. There is a lack of action until the very end and with these expectations I had from the blurb, I ended the book feeling a little bit cheated. I did like the book, and I did find it interesting and enjoyable mostly because of the superb characters but really, I think that's as far as it goes (doing this several months after reading however). I liked most of the book's narrative up until the last quarter where I started to *gasp* dislike Anya. There was just nothing there, no emotion, no sympathy, just nothing and although that may be done on purpose, it made it incredibly boring and slow to read with this nothingness. So it was a good attempt at this dystopian/crime/contemporary/something else genre, but I do think there were flaws. I'll probably read the next book, Because It Is My Blood, but only because I want to know what's next for Win and Anya.
I give it a 3.5 out of 5
SCARLET - Marissa Meyer (#2)
*May contain spoilers for those who have not read the first book, Cinder. Here's my review for that*
Synopsis: Cinder's story continues as she tries to break out of prison although it will make her the most wanted fugitive on Earth. Meanwhile, in Europe, Scarlet's grandmother has gone missing and the police have ruled her as dead. Scarlet meets Wolf, a streetfighter hiding his own secrets and intentions, who is Scarlet's only link and evidence that will lead to her grandmother. They start to unravel one mystery together, including the secrets Scarlet's grandmother kept from her all the years she grew up. They also encounter another mystery as the stories of Cinder and Scarlet collide as they try to defeat the vicious Queen Levana and stop her plan to make Prince Kai her husband, whatever the cost.
Review: I knew this would be good. I just knew it. This is the sequel to Meyer's debut last year, Cinder, a futuristic retelling of Cinderella. SCARLET is a retelling of Red Riding Hood, with some different interpretations of the story, one I particularly like was how they incorporated the idea of the wolf being Red Riding Hood's grandmother - very clever. I loved this second installment, especially the spilt narratives between Scarlet, Cinder and Prince Kai (yep, he's still there!) which made the story more well-rounded and gave the idea that the problems throughout the book with Queen Levana are impacting the whole world, not just in the Eastern Commonwealth.
It was well-written considering the amount of action that could overwhelm a reader. I especially loved finding out more about Cinder's past continuing from Cinder, and there are LOTS of surprise discoveries.
I would definitely recommend this to anyone that has read and loved Cinder as I did. I don't think it's quite as good compared to Cinder but there are so many things in this book that take the narrative of Cinder in a completely different direction. I am eagerly awaiting the new book, Cress, a retelling of Rapunzel coming out next year (AH NEXT YEAR?!)
I give it a 5 out of 5
Have you read any of these books? What did you think? Do you agree with what I thought - let me know below!