Time for a few more mini book reviews! Of the four books I’m talking about today, three are pretty hyped up, as well as being the starts to series that I think I’m going to enjoy a lot. Let’s get into my reviews!
The City We Became by N.K. Jemisin
RELEASE DATE: MARCH 24, 2020
“I get on the train to go home every day, and sometimes I look around and see all these people glowing. Filled with the beauty of this city.”
Content warnings: racism and racial slurs, homophobia
While in the process of gaining sentience, New York City is attacked by an ancient enemy. Five New Yorkers – one for each borough – become connected to the city and must come together in order to protect it.
This book is so weird in a completely N.K. Jemisin way – which is to say, the best way possible. I know this synopsis is vague, but trust me that you’re going to want to discover things as you go. This is Jemisin’s first book set in our world (other than a few short stories), and she perfectly blends the fantastical with reality in what ends up essentially being a love letter to the remarkable, unpredictable thing that is New York City.
The world has a Lovecraftian feel, while also giving a huge NOPE to Lovecraft’s tradition of racism and xenophobia, with one of the most diverse casts of characters I’ve ever read (reflecting, of course, one of the most diverse cities in the world). While I wanted a little more development in some of the major characters, and the enemy was somewhat undefined, I still enjoyed this book thoroughly. With Jemisin’s usual incredible writing and worldbuilding, it combines urban fantasy with a touch of horror and science fiction for a truly inspiring story of resilience, unity, and justice. There’s a reason that this book has been so hyped, and I can’t wait for you all to discover for yourselves!
*ARC PROVIDED BY EDELWEISS IN EXCHANGE FOR AN HONEST REVIEW. QUOTES ARE SUBJECT TO CHANGE.*
The Cruel Prince by Holly Black
“What could I become if I stopped worrying about death, about pain, about anything? If I stopped trying to belong? Instead of being afraid, I could become something to fear.”
Content warnings: abuse
Jude and her two sisters were stolen away from her world when she was a child, to be raised in Faerie by her parents’ murderer. Even though she’s human, Jude wants to belong, and she’ll do whatever it takes to gain power.
I finally read one of the most hyped YA books from the past few years! This was the first Holly Black book that I’ve read, and it certainly won’t be the last – I devoured it and can’t wait to read the rest of the series.
I’m never the biggest fan of fantasy court politics in books, so that wasn’t necessarily what kept me interested while reading. It wasn’t even the romance – I think I’m reaching the point where I don’t really see the appeal of most YA love interests, even if the conflict between Jude and Cardan was a great aspect. What I loved most about this book was Jude herself. She’s such a refreshing YA protagonist: ambitious, ruthless, and willing to do what it takes to get what she wants. Even when I didn’t necessarily agree with what she was doing, I rooted for her simply because she was so compelling. It seems like the rest of the series is going to lean into the court politics, which I’m not the most excited about, but as long as Jude stays Jude, I’ll be happy.
The Sound of Stars by Alechia Dow
Content warnings: racism
In this near-future sci-fi dystopia, the world has been taken over by an alien race called the Ilori. Ellie is a book-lover running a forbidden library in her apartment building, and M0Rr1S (or Morris) is a pop-music-loving alien who discovers one of her books. Realizing that they have common interests, the two team up, hoping to save all of humanity.
I had pretty high hopes for this book going in, but unfortunately…it just didn’t do anything for me. It was one of those instances where I simply didn’t care about what was happening like I knew I was supposed to. The writing felt somewhat unpolished and the pacing was all over the place, with certain parts drawn out way too long and others skimmed over. I didn’t understand Morris’ character or his motivations for most of the book, which made it frustrating to read.
There’s a lot of great representation in this book, including a queer black main character and quite a few nonbinary side characters, but that’s about all I can say in its favor. I think this is a book that a lot of other people could love – and have loved, based on the reviews – but sadly I’m not one of those people.
*ARC PROVIDED BY NETGALLEY IN EXCHANGE FOR AN HONEST REVIEW.*
My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, & Jodi Meadows
“Armies aren’t very good about carrying libraries with them. I can’t imagine why. We’d fight so much less if everyone would just sit down and read.”
Loosely based on the true story of Lady Jane Grey, this book follows Edward, the dying teenage king of England; Jane, his bookish cousin who will inherit his throne; and Gifford, Jane’s arranged husband who occasionally turns into…a horse.
This book was basically exactly what I needed in my life right now. Hilarious and irreverent, it offers its own take on history, switching religious disputes for conflicts between Eðians (humans who turn into animals) and Verities (people who believe this is unnatural). Though it sometimes swapped depth for silliness, it was a joy to read. Plus, I did some Wikipedia-ing after finishing and learned lots more about the Tudor era!
I immediately loved Jane, who prefers the company of books over most people and hates being told what to do. I don’t care how historically inaccurate it might be; I‘m glad her story got to be retold in this fashion, with her as the heroine. And all of the other characters were a delight as well! There were so many fantastic horse puns and anachronistic references that kept me giggling the whole time. I can’t wait to see what else this author trio has come up with.
What books have you read recently? Have you read any of these books?