Let’s Talk (Spoilers!) | Why I WON’T Be Continuing the Saga Series

I was introduced to the Saga series by my girlfriend at the beginning of last semester, and, like many, I got hooked. Having just finished the most recent one (Volume 9, as of July 2019), I was very hurt. And not just “I’m not interested, and it’s sad hurt” but an actual “I threw the book across the room” hurt.

Needless to say, this review is going to contain major, MAJOR spoilers for the series. So, if you haven’t read them yet and are going to, or haven’t reached Volume 9 yet, please stop here.

Reason #1: I see no definite ending in sight.

Okay, this one is a little vague, but I wanted to keep this one as vague as possible for the viewers who may have seen a peek of the first reason before they closed and don’t want to be spoiled.

But, the simple fact is, we’re already on Volume 9 of a series that started in 2012, and I just don’t really see a definite ending in sight.

While I obviously haven’t been following the series since 2012, I just don’t really see there being an end to this any time soon. And while I love (maybe “loved” is the right word?) series, I just don’t want to pour my time into something that might never end.

Reason #2: There’s just too much time between volumes.

While I really do understand that this type of medium takes a lot of time and effort, it just seems like quite awhile before the reader gets any resolution to even minor plots. This is where I feel Saga is hindered. Each volume is really only around 150 pages, and there’s just really not a lot you can do in that amount space while also maintaining even pacing.

And while this may relate more to reason one, I just feel like every time I read an issue, I’m inching and inching rather than making strides in the story. I feel it is a lot to ask, financially at least, to have people buy a 150 page graphic novel for $14.99 that only gets the reader an inch or two closer to a possible resolution.

And then you might say, “Well, Daniel, what about a library.” And to that I say touché. But while I understand that it is all part of the art form, I’m just realizing that this may not be right for me.

Reason #3: All of my favorite characters are now dead.

Okay. So this is the big one and the final reason while I will not be continuing the series.

This is the reason that I threw the book across the room.

Prepare for major spoilers here.

Like . . . major.

When I say major, I mean MAJOR, major.

This scene right here:

First off, I want to applaud both the artist and illustrator for conveying such emotion from me at a character-death scene. But not only did they kill off my favorite character of the entire series with one of my least favorite characters in the final pages of volume nine, but they also managed to kill off Prince Robot IV, another favorite character.

While, of course it is all possible that some miracle could happen, I really, highly doubt anyone is coming back.

And the characters that we have left, in my opinion (which you could probably trade for no more than a couple rocks and some dirt), are the weakest (character-building wise) and least interesting.

I feel Hazel, the main character, is purely defined by her future voice, which usually opens and closes the volumes, but I feel her present, younger self is really not that interesting.

Alana is fine, but she’s just not likable to me. And let’s not even get started on The Will and possible other characters. I feel all the characters they are trying to make me gain sympathy on are just not to my tastes.

And after they killed off what I considered their most developed and interesting characters, there’s really just nothing left for me.


While these reasons may sound harsh, they are, as most things on here are, my opinion.

I have a high respect for this series. Any series that manages to get me to be as mad as I was that a character died as Saga did deserves some recognition.

I have no hate towards the series, but these are the reasons why I won’t be continuing with Saga any longer.


Tell me what you think of the series! Let’s chat in the comments!

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ARC Review | WILDER GIRLS by Rory Power

Goodreads

I received this ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

It’s been eighteen months since the Raxter School for Girls was put under quarantine. Since the Tox hit and pulled Hetty’s life out from under her.

It started slow. First the teachers died one by one. Then it began to infect the students, turning their bodies strange and foreign. Now, cut off from the rest of the world and left to fend for themselves on their island home, the girls don’t dare wander outside the school’s fence, where the Tox has made the woods wild and dangerous. They wait for the cure they were promised as the Tox seeps into everything.

But when Byatt goes missing, Hetty will do anything to find her, even if it means breaking quarantine and braving the horrors that lie beyond the fence. And when she does, Hetty learns that there’s more to their story, to their life at Raxter, than she could have ever thought true.


I feel like it is a big no-no when the letter from the editor in the beginning compares the book you’re about to read to Lord of the Flies by William Golding and then further states it is a more feminist take on the theme. That then not only sets up the expectation for the book to reach the standard of a staple, classic masterpiece, but then also has to make it into some sort of social movement piece.

And, while no one should really care about my opinion, I guess (or I’d be getting paid money to write these), but just because you have a 95% female cast of characters does not make it a feminist novel. Not every novel has to be contorted to fit into a social movement. And just because these characters are on an island and some of them die definitely does not make it anything close to Lord of the Flies.

I mean, the writing was spectacular. It is true that Power knows what she is doing and knows how to write strong, compelling sentences. But her writing style, in my opinion, does not fit in the YA genre. My girlfriend can attest to this next statement in that I fell asleep (yes, actually fell asleep in the middle of the day with this book in my hand) three times. The descriptions were extremely lengthy and repetitive throughout the novel, mimicking more of an adult fiction vibe. These descriptions, I feel, are going to have teens setting the book back on the shelf and moving on to something a little more action-packed.

That brings me to the next thing — there is no resolution, and basically, no point to this book. I just really felt that nothing happened in it. We had weird POV changes in the middle a few times that were promising, but, in the end, fell flat. Not to mention that you do not get any answers that you seem promised from the beginning. Having invested in a 350 page novel for no answers is beyond disappointing.

While I am still working towards my degree, I feel like I am more than adequately competent in reading deeper into literature, and I just couldn’t see this as having any feminist type themes minus the cast of characters being female (don’t even get me started on the editor comparing it to Lord of the Flies).

If somebody has the rest of this book and wants to send it to me, please email me.

tldr; this was a snooze fest with no payoff

Rating:

Review | RADIO SILENCE by Alice Oseman

Amazon | TBD | Goodreads

496 Pages

Frances Janvier spends most of her time studying. 

Everyone knows Aled Last as that quiet boy who gets straight As. 

You probably think that they are going to fall in love or something. Since he is a boy and she is a girl.

They don’t. They make a podcast. 

In a world determined to shut them up, knock them down, and set them on a cookie cutter life path, Frances and Aled struggle to find their voices over the course of one life-changing year. Will they have the courage to show everyone who they really are? Or will they be met with radio silence?


This is yet another book that has been on my TBR for awhile. I feel like it has one of those titles that is really hard to forget — two words that, when put together, can have so many different meanings behind them.

Either way, it had almost been two years since this had been published, and when I got the chance to read it, I went in not really remembering what it was about. But, let me tell you, I was hooked from the first page.

The first lines: Hello. I hope somebody is listening.

Those first lines set the tone for what is a very serious, very real topic and book.

I loved the characters so much. Aled and Frances are extremely relatable and Oseman did a fantastic job with them. And while the odds of someone having a hit podcast are slim, I felt that this idea was used very well to get points across about what it is to feel truly alone in life.

My only complaint (because you know I have to bitch about something) is the constant use of “Er” as a filler whenever a character either didn’t know what to say or was stalling. But this is minor, of course.

I’m so happy that I finally got around to reading this one. It is definitely going to be one I will remember and recommending for a long time to come. It just all made me feel so warm.

Rating


What’s been your favorite book you’ve recently killed on your TBR this year? Let’s chat in the comments!

ARC Review | NO IVY LEAGUE by Hazel Newlevant

Amazon | Goodreads

RELEASE DATE: Aug. 20, 2019

208 Pages

When 17-year-old Hazel takes a summer job clearing ivy from the forest in Portland, Oregon, the only plan is to earn some extra cash to put toward concert tickets. Homeschooled, affluent, and sheltered, Hazel soon finds that working side by side with at-risk teens leaves no room for comforting illusions of equality and understanding. This uncomfortable and compelling memoir is an important story of a teen’s awakening to the racial insularity of the upper class, the power of white privilege, and the hidden history of segregation in Portland.


I had the pleasure of grabbing an ARC and meeting the author of this graphic novel at Bookcon. I was very intrigued and also slightly nervous, as this graphic novel tackles some serious issues in a brief amount of time: race, sexuality, etc.

Overall, I really enjoyed this one. The graphic novel is aware of what it is, and knows that it’s hard to cover such dense material in such a brief time period. But what this is isn’t a manifesto, but the beginning of someone’s maturing mind into being what is aware around them and how to deal with those things.

I felt myself even going to a sort of nostalgia with this piece. Again, I really enjoyed it, and thought it was very well done (and you know I’m picky with my graphic novels).

Rating:


What’s your favorite graphic novel ? Let’s chat in the comments!

Review | A DARKER SHADE OF MAGIC by V.E. Schwab

Amazon | TBD | Goodreads

413 Pages

Kell is one of the last Antari—magicians with a rare, coveted ability to travel between parallel Londons; Red, Grey, White, and, once upon a time, Black.

Kell was raised in Arnes—Red London—and officially serves the Maresh Empire as an ambassador, traveling between the frequent bloody regime changes in White London and the court of George III in the dullest of Londons, the one without any magic left to see.

Unofficially, Kell is a smuggler, servicing people willing to pay for even the smallest glimpses of a world they’ll never see. It’s a defiant hobby with dangerous consequences, which Kell is now seeing firsthand.

After an exchange goes awry, Kell escapes to Grey London and runs into Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She first robs him, then saves him from a deadly enemy, and finally forces Kell to spirit her to another world for a proper adventure.

Now perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, they’ll first need to stay alive.


This is one of those that has seemed to be eternally on my TBR. When I realized that Bookcon was coming up and that I was going to meet Schwab, I felt like I needed to get around to it.

There’s not a ton to say here other than that I’m absolutely addicted to her writing. I love how every time I’ve read one of her books, I never really know what to expect or who to trust.

I understand that this is a trilogy, and I do plan to read the rest of them. However, I do appreciate that the story in book one seems to wrap up pretty tightly by the end, so I can get around to reading some other things before picking up book two.

Amazing characters. Amazing story. These type of books remind me why I love fantasy so much.

Rating:


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What’s your all-time favorite fantasy? Let’s chat in the comments!

ARC Review | SWIPE RIGHT FOR MURDER by Derek Milman (DNF)

Goodreads

On the run from the FBI.
Targeted by a murderous cult.
Labeled a cyber-terrorist by the media.
Irritated texts from his best friend.
Eye contact with a nice-looking guy on the train.
Aidan has a lot to deal with, and he’s not quite sure which takes top priority.

Finding himself alone in a posh New York City hotel room for the night, Aidan does what any red-blooded seventeen-year-old would do—he tries to hook up with someone new. But that lapse in judgement leads to him waking up next to a dead guy, which sparks an epic case of mistaken identity that puts Aidan on the run from everyone—faceless federal agents, his eccentric family, and, naturally, a cyber-terrorist group who will stop at nothing to find him.

He soon realizes the only way to stop the chase is to deliver the object everyone wants, before he gets caught or killed. But for Aidan, the hardest part is knowing who he can trust not to betray him—including himself.


Listent to me here . . .

Please go into this review with a warning. Since I did not fully complete this novel (oh, though I sure tried, since I wanted to give it that genuine 1-star it so deserves), I do not know what happens past page 145 out 436 ARC pages.

But, I finished almost 1/3 of it, so . . . take with that what you will.

. . .

When I think of a well structured book on a highly political topic, or really, any book for that matter, I like to think of it as a cake.

You have your topping <—- basic premise of the book, i.e. genre, basic goal, etc. Essentially what you would tell people if someone was like, “Hey! What’s that book you’re reading about?”

You have your cake <—- this is essentially the entirety of the story arc, laid out, step by step

You have your frosting layers <—- these layers are by far the hardest part of a story to develop, yet are also the most important. They have to be subtle. They are the deeper meaning of your story (whether that be equal rights or any other controversial issue). I like to think of this as the moral of the story.

If your frosting layers are too thick, your teeth are going to hurt and you’re going to be like yup that’s frosting!

Well, what we have with Swipe Right for Murder is absolutely only frosting. Essentially, a huge chunk of frosting. Plopped on a plate. With a spoon to eat it with. (That’s maybe something?) Oh, but the spoon breaks and you can’t even taste the frosting. Sorry, no frosting for you 😦

Anyway, anyway . . .

When I started this book, I was met with the main character, as usual in a book. I was met with the secondary characters, also the norm.

And all of them are pretentious and represent some sort of minority or stereotype? Miraculously?

For instance . . .

Aidan is white. He is also gay. Also, within the first twelve pages he mentions how all of his friends are attractive. Also that he’s gay. Oh, did you know that Aidan is gay? Because, if you didn’t, Aidan is gay, and you should definitely know that.

(Pssst, Aidan is gay.)

His friend, Jackson, is black. Superstar looking, yet makes sure to put Aidan in his place by telling him having to deal with being gay is nothing compared to being black in America because invalidating your best-friend’s feelings is a thing, now.

We have Aidan’s parents. Who are probably homophobic . . . yet they accept Aidan. Yet, they think being gay is unnatural.

OHHHH and we have murdous terroist group that seems to be killing politicians who have voted against LGBT rights in terrosits attacks in unrealistic scenarios (such as controlling a pacemaker, IV and car brakes remotely).

Essentially, there was zero character development in the 145 pages accept maybe Aidian is okay with all of the killing? I don’t know.

I’m in the minority here when I say that this book is toxic, as it has a 4.5 star rating on Goodreads right now. When I say toxic, I’m saying a political agenda seems to be shoved down some kids throats here. In other words, if it’s looking to change someone’s mind about something, I feel, at the ARC’s stage, it would blatantly fail, as anyone who has any sort of anything against left-wingers would immediately catch on to what’s happening within the first twenty pages and put it down anyway.

I wish I could also quote some of the dialogue here directly, because it is also pretty toxic. For instance, the second Jackson complains about being black in America he suddenly developed a dialect and starts using the word ain’t? Does anyone else not see a problem with this?

Like I said, maybe I’m in the few here, but please, please, if you have any sense for what should be considered good, left wing writing, do not pick this up.


What makes you DNF a book? Let’s chat in the comments!

Review | AURORA RISING by Amy Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

Amazon | TBD | Goodreads

The year is 2380, and the graduating cadets of Aurora Academy are being assigned their first missions. Star pupil Tyler Jones is ready to recruit the squad of his dreams, but his own boneheaded heroism sees him stuck with the dregs nobody else in the academy would touch . . .

A cocky diplomat with a black belt in sarcasm
A sociopath scientist with a fondness for shooting her bunkmates 
A smart-ass tech whiz with the galaxy’s biggest chip on his shoulder
An alien warrior with anger-management issues
A tomboy pilot who’s 
totally not into him, in case you were wondering

And Ty’s squad isn’t even his biggest problem–that’d be Aurora Jie-Lin O’Malley, the girl he’s just rescued from interdimensional space. Trapped in cryo-sleep for two centuries, Auri is a girl out of time and out of her depth. But she could be the catalyst that starts a war millions of years in the making, and Tyler’s squad of losers, discipline cases, and misfits might just be the last hope for the entire galaxy.

NOBODY PANIC.


It’s no secret that I am a huge fan of Jay Kristoff’s adult works (reference my five star reviews here + here), but I’ve never really been sold on his YA. I felt like LIF3LIKE really limited Kristoff to being his full self — this sort of raunchy and comedic, yet very, very dark and serious writer. I also read Illuminae when it first came out (long before this blog existed), I really did not enjoy it. So, when this book came out, I was nervous I wasn’t going to like it. And I’ll admit, I almost didn’t buy it. But an opportunity arose, and I really can’t pass up supporting one of my favorite authors (sorry Kaufman, I know you had a part in writing this too, but I’m not entirely as familiar with all of your works). So I was fortunate enough to purchase it.

I’m happy to say that, in the end, I came out really, really enjoying this one! I felt that all of the characters were very likable and that the plot was extremely interesting. I know that doesn’t really tell you a lot, but I don’t really have a ton to complain about here! Unlike my main complaint with LIF3LIKE, I felt like the world (outer space) was extremely diverse. I felt like I was getting new places and wasn’t trapped in this hot, steamy world like I felt in the previously mentioned.

Now, for my one critique:

The repetition of comedy. I understand that the authors are extremely limited when it comes to YA and the separation they want to represent when it comes to this and their adult fiction, but some of the comedy was just so repetitive that I found it annoying after awhile.

There is this running joke in the novel when something exciting happens about needing new pants, and I’ll say it was amusing the first time. But by the fourth or fifth time? Not so much. I found myself reminded of LIF3LIKE and the constant references to robot private “bits.” I feel like there’s a balance that has yet to be figured out, and that the charm is being so forced to the reader that it gets annoying. THE CHARM IS THERE!!! YOU DON’T NEED TO FORCE IT!!

Anyway, in the end, this was a super fun read, and I will definitely pick up the next one.

Rating:

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