Review: Taking #3, Collide by Melissa West

16032329Blurb from Goodreads

Military legacy Ari Alexander has survived alien spies, WWIV, and a changing world order. But when the new leader of Earth uses Jackson—the only boy she’s ever let herself care about—to get to her, Ari has no choice but to surrender.

To free Jackson, she agrees to travel to the national bases to train others to fight. What she discovers is a land riddled with dying people. Ari has the power to heal by turning the fighters into aliens—half-breeds like her. If she succeeds, together, they have a chance at overthrowing the alien leader, Zeus. But if she fails, everyone she holds dear will be wiped away forever.

Once again, everything Ari’s come to believe is thrown into question. In a world of uncertainty, loyalties are tested, lies are uncovered, and no one can be trusted. If Ari and Jackson have any hope at survival and at preserving a life for the future, they must fight the final war with their eyes wide open.

Kindle Edition, 320 pages
Published February 9th 2015 by Entangled: Teen
edition language: English
series: Taking
genre: Dystopia, Sci-fi, Romance, Young Adult
My Thoughts
ARC was provided by the author/publisher via NetGalley in exchange for honest review.

When book 2, Hover, didn’t live my expectation, I don’t except anything to the final one. But that’s when the best thing for the series happens. This book is the best among the three. I think it’s perfect as the last book.

Ari doesn’t lose focus anymore here, instead she’s so determine and clear of what she wants and what she has to do. She’s more badass which I liked, by the way because she doesn’t waste her talent into some wishy-washy thoughts like in book 2. Her romance with Jackson is also spots on. And it doesn’t shadow the action. But then again, it’s one of things I like from the series. There is romance but never shadow the story of the human versus the alien.

I couldn’t agree more with the tagline of the book, The War is Imminent. You’ll find more action and tension here, more than in book 1. It’s like Ari and other characters are always in the run and danger as the war approaches. But my favorite thing is Zeus’s mind game. It’s so good I keep wandering which one is real and which one is not. When I read it, I think I know when Ari dreams but then I’m not so sure anymore. I liked the feeling when I read it. It’s confusing but in a good way, if you know what I mean.

But if I have to point out one thing I’m not quite satisfy, is Ari’s POV makes some scenes aren’t not clear enough for me. Her POV limited few things I really want to know more. It’s just my preference, though. This book is still the best of the series.

Note: Is it just me or do you feel like there is a potential of sequel or spin-off of the series?

Result: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Reading Challenge:
– GoodReads: Book #15
– YA Buddy Readers’ Corner ♥: Finish all of ARCs (Advance Reader Copy) I have by the end of 2015.

Review: Taking #2, Hover by Melissa West

16032322Blurb from Goodreads

On Earth, seventeen-year-old Ari Alexander was taught to never peek, but if she hopes to survive life on her new planet, Loge, her eyes must never shut. Because Zeus will do anything to save the Ancients from their dying planet, and he has a plan.

Thousands of humans crossed over to Loge after a poisonous neurotoxin released into Earth’s atmosphere, nearly killing them. They sought refuge in hopes of finding a new life, but what they became were slaves, built to wage war against their home planet. That is, unless Ari and Jackson can stop them. But on Loge, nothing is as it seems…and no one can be trusted.

Kindle Edition, 352 pages
Published August 13th 2013 by Entangled Teen
edition language: English
series: Taking
genre: Dystopia, Sci-fi, Young Adult, Romance
My Thoughts
Although book 1 of Taking series is only a 3 stars for me, I think it has interesting idea and I like the way Ms. West wrote it. And compare to some of dystopian YA books I’ve read, it is a better one. So I have a high hope to its sequels.

This time, Ari’s story takes place in Jackson’s planet. As a place that is so far away from the earth, I need a vivid worldbuilding, or at least enough description about the place so that I believe that the characters are in other planet, outside the earth. Just like book 1, the writing is still good, the description of the worldbuilding is also so clear I can picture it in my mind easily. But I feel like there is no difference with the earth. Everything seems similar to the earth. I don’t get the feeling that it is a place that is so far away from the earth that you need a wormhole to send messages.

I also feel there is not much happen in most of the story. Thus it feels slower than book 1. I know what Ari has to do here is not an easy task. But she’s being with the enemy, I feel she loses focus of what she has to do. In a way she spends her time training as a RES, Republic Employee Spy, since she’s a half-human, half-ancient now but I don’t see she does much training as other RES do. In another hand, she has to kill Zeus. I don’t see much of her plan or effort to do it either. All of her attempts are mostly caught in the act kind of thing, without so much planning as she wants to. And her I-have-to-kill Zeus speech at the end of many chapter sound like a broken record for me.

But don’t worried I still have things I like. The writing is still good. Despite the slow-paced, it is an engaging story. I also like the way Ari chooses not to be in a relationship with Jackson immediately. She needs time which is understandable and it makes the story not all about herself. She places her people and her task above her relationship with him. So book 3, here I come!

Result: 2.5 out of 5 stars
Reading Challenge:
– GoodReads: Book #12
– YA Buddy Readers’ Corner ♥: Finish at least 5 series I’ve started
– Popsugar: A book you own but have never read

Review: The Lunar Chronicles #3, Cress by Marissa Meyer

13206828Blurb from Goodreads:

In this third book in the Lunar Chronicles, Cinder and Captain Thorne are fugitives on the run, now with Scarlet and Wolf in tow. Together, they’re plotting to overthrow Queen Levana and her army.

Their best hope lies with Cress, a girl imprisoned on a satellite since childhood who’s only ever had her netscreens as company. All that screen time has made Cress an excellent hacker. Unfortunately, she’s just received orders from Levana to track down Cinder and her handsome accomplice.

When a daring rescue of Cress goes awry, the group is separated. Cress finally has her freedom, but it comes at a high price. Meanwhile, Queen Levana will let nothing prevent her marriage to Emperor Kai. Cress, Scarlet, and Cinder may not have signed up to save the world, but they may be the only hope the world has.

Kindle Edition, 551 pages
Published February 4th 2014 by Feiwel & Friends
edition language: English
series: The Lunar Chronicles
genre: Sci-fi, Romance, Young Adult

My Thoughts

After the awesome Scarlet, I have a very high hope to this book. I thought it’ll be as awesome as Scarlet, well…don’t get me wrong it is indeed a very good retelling. It just doesn’t live my expectation, not that much.

First thing that I notice and made this book is quite different than the first two book is it is much more detail than both Cinder and Scarlet. It’s a good thing actually, as I think I need more detail and explanation in Cinder’s setting and worldbuilding. Unlike New Beijing, I can picture the Sahara desert and a couple places in Africa easily. The satellite and Rampion aren’t hard to imagine either. Unfortunately it also makes the unnecessary things much more detail. There are a lot of things that I’m not sure I need to know that detail. Thus, it makes the book much longer than I think it needed. It feels dragged out in second and third part of the book.

As the main character, Cress is quite different from Cinder and Scarlet. She’s so naive, though it’s understandable since she spends most her life alone, trapped in a satellite. On the other hand, her naivete is sometimes annoyed me. It’s like it’s so hard for her to understand that real life on earth isn’t as easy as she imagine. She keeps picturing herself becomes someone else in somewhere else. In a way, it’s kinda cute but I’m also a bit bored when she does it so many times. Yet, at the end of the last page, I think I liked her as a character. She’s an awesome hacker and her role is as important as Cinder and Scarlet. And I still love other characters, though Throne is more serious and reserve (I missed his personality in Scarlet) and Wolf’s more emo here.

I really loved the way Marissa Meyer builds the story. The pace is perfect. Some chapters can make my heart beats fast while other chapters are quite calm and give me times to understand more about Lunar and their power. Although there are three different stories here, all of them have enough time to tell their story. I don’t feel like one story overlap or overshadow others. It fits well. But I also have to say that I don’t quite like things that seem too coincidence happen to the characters. It feels like they always end up at the right and/or wrong time in right and/or wrong places and just feels too easy for them.

It isn’t the best of the series so far but I still love the Lunar Chronicles and can’t wait for the next installment, Winter.

Result: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Review: The Lunar Chronicles #2, Scarlet by Marissa Meyer

13206760Blurd from Goodreads

Cinder, the cyborg mechanic, returns in the second thrilling installment of the bestselling Lunar Chronicles. She’s trying to break out of prison–even though if she succeeds, she’ll be the Commonwealth’s most wanted fugitive. Halfway around the world, Scarlet Benoit’s grandmother is missing. It turns out there are many things Scarlet doesn’t know about her grandmother or the grave danger she has lived in her whole life. When Scarlet encounters Wolf, a street fighter who may have information as to her grandmother’s whereabouts, she is loath to trust this stranger, but is inexplicably drawn to him, and he to her. As Scarlet and Wolf unravel one mystery, they encounter another when they meet Cinder. Now, all of them must stay one step ahead of the vicious Lunar Queen Levana, who will do anything for the handsome Prince Kai to become her husband, her king, her prisoner.

Kindle Edition, 464 pages
Published February 5th 2013 by Feiwel & Friends
edition language: English
series: The Lunar Chronicles
genre: Sci-fi, Romance, Young Adult

My Thoughts

I’m so join the hype now! Although I enjoyed Cinder, there were things that I didn’t quite like and it was kind of predictable for me. Yes it was a Cinderella retelling so I felt familiar with it, but it was the Sailor Moon references that I think made it predictable as it was one of my favorite comics when I was a teenager.

In this Little Red Riding Hood retelling, I felt like reading a new story. Again, yes I still felt a familiar feeling throughout the story, who doesn’t, anyway? As it’s one of the most popular fairy tales, but at the same time, I also felt it has its own story, makes it a new refreshing retelling. It even still has twists for me. And the fact that it combines with Cinderella retelling nicely, made me can’t help not to fall in love with the story.

First of all, I loved that the main characters of this Lunar Chronicles, Cinder and Kai, are growing so much from Cinder. Cinder isn’t naive anymore, though she still a bit confused with her true role. I can accept that, though. She just learnt her true identity and at the same time has to face the consequences of it. Kai, though also still confused of what he has to do and is overwhelm by his role, slowly realize his responsibility and willing to sacrifice himself for greater things. There are uncertainty and confused role on both of them, but I think it make them good characters as they are growing much in me and feel real. It also shows that they can be great leaders for their people.

As for new characters, they are all interesting and awesome characters. I loved how strong Scarlet can be. She doesn’t have power but her strong-will made her a badass heroine to me. And Wolf, is quite a mystery throughout the story, though it’s kind of obvious of what his role is since I already know Little Red Riding Hood story. But still, he can show me surprises.

And I won’t forget about Cadet-who-called-himself-Captain Throne. He’s so funny and his sarcastic jokes never failed to make me laugh. Now I’m really curious to see his relationship with Cress.

I have to admit that at first I was kind of doubt Cinder story will let aside so that Scarlet can have bigger story here. Scarlet is still the main character here, but Marissa Meyer didn’t let Cinder in the shadow. She has the same important role as Scarlet. I think it makes me love it. Meyer can balance both of the stories and intertwine it well.

Now I have high expectation for Cress, can’t wait to read it. Well…am going to read it soon, shoot…am heading to the book now!

Result: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Review: The Lunar Chronicles #1, Cinder by Marissa Meyer

12973964Blurb from Goodreads

Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl. . . .

Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.

Kindle Edition, 390 pages
Published January 3rd 2012 by Feiwel & Friends
edition language: English
series: The Lunar Chronicles
genre: Sci-fi, Romance, Retelling, Young Adult
My Thoughts
When I read Cinder’s blurb it sounds so scifi it picked my interest instantly. I thought it would be an unpredictable story as I don’t think I ever read this kind of book. But the first few chapters I can already guess most of the important things in the story. And with all of those computer stuff I’m not familiar with, it was quite confusing for me to understand the whole cyborg, human, and android thingy in this book. But surprisingly despite the predictable plot and the story that reminds me a lot of a manga (Japanese comic) I read 19 years ago, Sailor Moon, I enjoyed reading this book.
Although at first I was kinda hesitate to continue reading because of the resamble of Sailor Moon, I can’t help not to curious of the story. I mostly curious of what Prince Kaito will do regarding Queen Levana. And there are characters I really want to know which side they are. They aren’t main characters, but they picked my interest as I already guessed mostly what will happen with the main characters.

As one of main characters, Cinder is a lovable character. I think she’s brave, strong, and definitely smart, though in some way she’s naive and quite annoying. There were time that were quite annoying and frustrating when she doesn’t see things clearly while it’s so obvious for me. Maybe it’s because she’s still 16 years old, or maybe it’s because she always thinks herself unworthy, but as a cyborg, I think she can see and do more than most human can do.

However, I wasn’t sure with Kaito at the beginning. He doesn’t act like a future emperor mostly, though at the same time I know it indeed makes him ‘approvable’ and makes his relationship with Cinder make sense. I just didn’t quite like how easy he believes and lets other characters tell him what to do. But I love his relationship with Cinder, it feels so natural since they don’t instantly talking about love and all.

There also things that are quite unclear for me in this whole New Beijing and Luna Realm setting. I didn’t find more ‘Beijing’ except for one Chinese character name, if I wasn’t wrong and a formal calling addressed to Cinder when Kai feels like he wants to call her in formality. The Luna Realm, as much as it’s interesting to read, doesn’t explain much either. The same case happens with Cinder’s cyborg thing. It’s the first and one thing that confused me, to be honest. Questions of whether she’s capable to have feelings and all when in a way she has to be rebooted are in my head while I read it.

All in all, I think Cinder is a good Cinderella retelling. In some way it felt like it has its own originality. And it really has sci-fi feeling, unlike most YA sci-fi books I read nowadays. I just hope the unclear setting will describe more in the sequels. So yes…it means I’ll read the sequels for sure.

Result: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Review: Jamie Baker #2, More Than Jamie Baker by Kelly Oram

16162774Blurb from Goodreads

Jamie Baker, the only girl in the world with superpowers, has now accepted who she is and learned to control her power. Not to mention she has the best boyfriend on the planet. Life is finally looking good. But the day she witnesses an accident and decides not to save the guy out of fear of being exposed, she realizes that simply being Jamie Baker isn’t enough.
After seeing Jamie so wrecked with guilt, the ever-helpful Ryan Miller decides it’s time to make all of his fantasies about turning his girlfriend into an honest-to-goodness superhero become a reality.

Of course, coming up with a decent Super Name and fending off all of Ryan’s attempts to get her into spandex aren’t the only problems Jamie faces. The more her alter ego starts to make headlines, the harder it becomes for Jamie to hide her extracurricular activities from her best friend, the government, radical scientists, and the mysterious new guy who is determined to steal her from her boyfriend.

ebook, 342 pages
Published October 15th 2013 by Bluefields
edition language: English
series: Jamie Baker
genre: Sci-fi, Romance, Young Adult
My Thoughts
More Than Jamie Baker is indeed more than its prequel, Being Jamie Baker. This book has more stories and actions. Our superhero, Jamie Baker isn’t in the little pond anymore. She has to face dangerous ocean with more evil villains, much more dangerous complete with sophisticated gadgets to bring her down.

Although it’s been a while since I read her story, it wasn’t hard for me to connect with her again. It was like my mind instantly remembered her and I didn’t have to skim book 1 just to refresh my memory and understand her story in the first place, the thing I sometimes need to do with a series. She’s still witty, sarcastic, independent, temperamental and funny. She’s still the Jamie Baker I knew from book 1. And so does Ryan and other characters. I loved that they are still who they are. A year didn’t turn them to characters I didn’t know.

And I never got bored reading Jamie and Ryan relationship, though I got less of it than its prequel. They don’t do everything together. There are pages that describe they do what they have to do separately. I like knowing that they have life outside their relationship and have someone else in their life. Hence Becky and Jamie relationship feel more real to me. I can understand why Jamie so protective of Becky, despite the fact that they only be friend for a year. And reading Jamie and Ryan relationship is still as good as when I first read them. I just love their dialogues. They are so funny and perfect together.

However, I also kinda wish that Jamie is more careful with her superpower and aware of the consequences of her action now. What she does in first half of book was quite unbelievable and frustrating me. I do understand her feeling but I just think she’s not careful enough to keep her superpower secret. She doesn’t lay low enough, though she keeps herself in disguise.

And talk about what most of reviewers talk, the ending. As much as it has an interesting and surprising epilogue, I think I can say that it didn’t surprise me much. I was practically waiting for it to come. And knowing that Jamie fall to the trap easily makes me sort of blame it to herself. But don’t worry Jamie, I’ll still read the sequel because the epilogue makes me even more want to know your story.

Result: 3 out of 5 stars

Review: The Taking #1, Gravity by Melissa West

12844575Blurb from Goodreads

In the future, only one rule will matter:

Don’t. Ever. Peek.

Seventeen-year-old Ari Alexander just broke that rule and saw the last person she expected hovering above her bed — arrogant Jackson Locke, the most popular boy in her school. She expects instant execution or some kind of freak alien punishment, but instead, Jackson issues a challenge: help him, or everyone on Earth will die.

Ari knows she should report him, but everything about Jackson makes her question what she’s been taught about his kind. And against her instincts, she’s falling for him. But Ari isn’t just any girl, and Jackson wants more than her attention. She’s a military legacy who’s been trained by her father and exposed to war strategies and societal information no one can know — especially an alien spy, like Jackson. Giving Jackson the information he needs will betray her father and her country, but keeping silent will start a war.

ebook, 217 pages
Published October 30th 2012 by Entangled Select
edition language: English
series: The Taking
genre: Dystopia, Sci-fi, Romance, Young Adult
My Thoughts
I like reading dystopia books, and post The Hunger Games, it seems dystopia is one of the most popular genres for YA books. To be honest, most of them didn’t work for me. 1) Dystopia books make me pay more attention to the world-building and setting. I think both of them have to be described well and believable. But they also have to be related to our time now since most of them take our time as their history. In this case I find it’s hard to read YA dystopian with believable world-building and setting, even in YA dystopian I loved, I still find things I didn’t quite like. 2) Being YA books, they tend to have more romance than dystopia which sometimes I didn’t find the dystopia things that the blurb promised me. It makes me think that dystopia is just a cover to attract me to read it. However, it doesn’t mean I don’t want to read YA dystopia anymore which led me to this book.
Alien invasion isn’t a new thing in YA dystopia. But somehow, this book has something that makes it different from them. First thing I recognize was the time setting. It takes place in 2133, a very long time after now. I was kind of liked it because the damage from alien invasion in the story was quite impossible if it happens only a few years from now.

Although Ari, the MC mentioned things that quite different from our would now, in some part I still feel it wasn’t much different either. I imagine it will be much more different because it’s 120 years ahead from now. There are also things that are so hard for me to picture it and in the end I just ignore it.

Just like any other YA books, this book also has romance. Ari, who is a commander’s daughter of Sydia, falls in love with Jackson, a common citizen. I liked that their relationship doesn’t take more pages than the main story. There are more actions with a lot of training scenes to prepare them for war with alien. And the idea they have war through virus, instead of weapon, is more frightening me. On the other hand, I also wanted to read more about the government and their political systems, both from human and alien side which unfortunately didn’t much describe. It made me mostly questioning their political systems.
The story told from Ari’s POV but I got the two side stories between alien and human, which I liked. Each race claims they have good intention to live on earth, therefore they reasoning the war is the best way to make it happens. It made me hard to choose which side I am because I can see both good and bad side from them. I was happy with one thing yet didn’t like with the other.

All in all, though it lack of world-building and has an insta-love. I think I can say I liked and enjoyed reading it.

Result: 3 out of 5 Stars