Book Review #38: 27 Hours by Tristina Wright

*I received a Net Galley copy of this book from Entangled Publishing in exchange for an honest review*

Rumor Mora fears two things: hellhounds too strong for him to kill, and failure. Jude Welton has two dreams: for humans to stop killing monsters, and for his strange abilities to vanish.

But in no reality should a boy raised to love monsters fall for a boy raised to kill them.

Nyx Llorca keeps two secrets: the moon speaks to her, and she’s in love with Dahlia, her best friend. Braeden Tennant wants two things: to get out from his mother’s shadow, and to unlearn Epsilon’s darkest secret.

They’ll both have to commit treason to find the truth.

During one twenty-seven-hour night, if they can’t stop the war between the colonies and the monsters from becoming a war of extinction, the things they wish for will never come true, and the things they fear will be all that’s left.


27 Hours is a sweeping, thrilling story featuring a stellar cast of queer teenagers battling to save their homes and possibly every human on Sahara as the clock ticks down to zero.


 

I first saw this book on Twitter a few times and saw it in people’s Book Expo Advanced Reader’s Copy hauls. I never thought I’d get to read this book considering my huge to be read pile and I was so excited about it because I heard about all the amazing representation that was included.

Then, one day a few months ago, I got a surprising email. It was from Heather at Entangled Publishing, and she wanted to give me an e-book copy of 27 Hours in exchange for an honest review! I was floored. I never thought, in a million years I would actually get contacted by a publisher who wanted my opinion on a book. I felt so great and agreed almost immediately.

Soon I got the copy and was so excited to dig in. I ended up reading finishing this book slower than I anticipated; I guess I was trying to savor every single moment. I always wanted to keep reading this book. I squeezed reading sessions of this book in between breaks at work; I ate it up in bits.

From the very start, I was invested in the story. There was almost no time to set up the world as the action began, which was what got me hooked. The first third of the book was a little heavy with description (of the world, the new technology, the characters), which I didn’t mind, but it seemed to shift from that as I went through the book and as the action progressed. I kind of wish the descriptions were more spread throughout, as it seemed crammed into the first section. I feel Wright was trying to sell the world a bit too hard, which was a little off-putting.

One of the things 27 Hours did well was making me care about the characters. The book followed a lot of different perspectives, and with their many personalities, I felt really attached to pretty much all of them. If I could pick a favourite it would probably be Rumor. He had so much growth throughout the novel, and I loved the romance/relationship that ensued with him. He felt the most fleshed out and well-rounded out of all of the characters.

Along with great characters, 27 Hours contained a lot of representation. It’s not really that common for most Young Adult novels to have this much representation. Here is a list of the representation that I noticed (there’s probably more):

  • Bisexual
  • Asexual
  • Trans
  • Lesbian
  • Gay
  • Deaf/Hard of Hearing
  • Anxiety and/or PTSD
  • Gender Fluid

Although I cannot speak for a majority of the representation in this novel (ie. whether or not it was accurate), I felt it was all done in a very believable way. I especially enjoyed the way the characters interacted with the world, in their own particular way. Nyx is deaf and I felt every aspect of how that was handled was respectful. She was not forgotten or hindered by that aspect of herself.

In terms of plot, I think that is where my final rating kind of lowers. I enjoyed the story, don’t get me wrong, however, there are definite issues that another review has raised in terms of the colonization being a huge factor of the plot. That was not the only reason why my rating is a bit lower, however.

There were some issues I had in terms of consistent pacing, either things were moving too slowly (like some of the introductory babble) or things were moving too fast (how attached the characters became, almost within hours of meeting). The romances were definitely adorable but since this novel is going to be part of a series, I feel it would be more believable if the romances were developed throughout the series.

Another issue I had with 27 Hours was that I didn’t feel any fear for the characters well-being. Of course they came out of near-death experiences with injuries. It also was questionable whether or not that impeded their progress, but I still had this feeling that they were all gonna be alive at the end of the day and have their happy endings. It does make sense in that you don’t want to kill off a character in the very first book, but I would have liked some more atmosphere expressing how dangerous their sotuation really is.

I also felt the ending where the defeat of the final antagonist, that was built up for chapters, was a bit too easy. It was built up for so long I thought it was going to be this intense confrontation, but I was disappointed how quickly everything was wrapped up. I wish there was more to this villian, in all honesty.

The last paragraph makes me want so much more. It leaves me wondering even long I finished the novel of what’s going to happen next. I enjoyed that aspect. If you really like a character oriented, diverse Sci-Fi, and are ready to be thrust into the world of Sahara, this is the book for you.

Overall, I was entertained by this novel and was excited to see so much representation. Some of the characters I wished were fleshed out a little more, but overall, Wright made me care about each one and their growth. I also did have some other issues that I listed above, which made me give it a lower rating. I am hoping to purchase this book as soon as I can, so I can have my own copy, and perhaps dig deeper into this new world.

Three stars!
Advertisements

Book Review #37: Daughter of the Burning City by Amanda Foody

81vwxdybrwl

Sixteen-year-old Sorina has spent most of her life within the smouldering borders of the Gomorrah Festival. Yet even among the many unusual members of the travelling circus-city, Sorina stands apart as the only illusion-worker born in hundreds of years. This rare talent allows her to create illusions that others can see, feel and touch, with personalities all their own. Her creations are her family, and together they make up the cast of the Festival’s Freak Show.

But no matter how life like they may seem, her illusions are still just that—illusions, and not truly real. Or so she always believed…until one of them is murdered.

Desperate to protect her family, Sorina must track down the culprit and determine how they killed a person who doesn’t actually exist. Her search for answers leads her to the self-proclaimed gossip-worker Luca, and their investigation sends them through a haze of political turmoil and forbidden romance, and into the most sinister corners of the Festival. But as the killer continues murdering Sorina’s illusions one by one, she must unravel the horrifying truth before all of her loved ones disappear.

Pre-ReadingListening Thoughts

ahrq-square-orig1

 

After devouring one excellent narrative audiobook after another, I was hungry for more.

Seeing that Daughter of the Burning City was available on Overdrive, was a 2017 release, and available on audio for me to borrow from the library, I immediately snatched it up before anyone else could get their hands on it.

I have seen this book in passing on many Booktube channels & blogs and I was only slightly interested in the premise. I adored the cover though, even the audiobook cover which is significantly less quality.

 

Representation Checklist

✔️ Bisexuality — Sorina, the main character, is Bisexual. Loves men and ladies!

✔️ Demisexuality — Luca is demisexual. source

 

✔️ Anxiety/Panic Attacks — Sorina has anxiety, mentions it frequently, and has panic attacks.

✔️ Lesbian — Nicoleta, Sorina’s sister, loves girls.

 

tumblr_inline_ovtlirbqv91qji06z_540
Sorina and Luca; you’re both doing amazing, sweetie(s)

What I wanted, no, craved from this book was the LGBTQIAP+ representation. I was surprised to get not only that but also some anxiety representation!

It is so unbelievably hard to find actually someone I identify within literature. Though it was not the perfect representation, I was really pleased with everything. I really liked how it was just commonplace in Gomorrah to be gay and that was it. I also loved Sorina and Luca as characters and they are my babies, okay?

 

World Building, ie. Where the Hell Are We?

anigif_enhanced-buzz-25525-1409707017-4

The majority of Daughter of the Burning City is set in the festival of Gomorrah, a city that is perpetually seemingly on fire, with its skies covered in smoke. Gomorrah is darker, and seemingly more sinister than its surrounding cities that it travels to which are more religious and strict (did I mention it’s a traveling city?). Gomorrah has an almost seedier underbelly called the “Down-Hill,” where sex workers, thieves, and assassins roam the streets.

 

Let’s Meet the Characters, ie. New Book, Who Dis?

tenor1

Sorina, our sixteen-year-old main character, and point of view. Sorina is an illusion worker, which basically means she can conjure anything she puts her mind on, whether corporeal or not. She can also disguise herself and others using her illusions.

Sorina has what she calls, a “deformity” where she has no eyes, but flat skin in their place. She can still see, however. There is no real, concrete explanation to explain this, other than perhaps extra plot stuff that would constitute as spoilers. This could be some sort of message that people with deformities still go about life, albeit in their own way or I could be reading into things too much. I can’t speak on that further, as I do not have a deformity.

Sorina has created the living, breathing illusions that she considers family.  There’s Gill, the father/uncle figure, Nicoleta, the mother figure, Crown, the grandfather, Hawk, the younger sister, Venera, the older sister, Uno and Duo, the cousins/little brothers, Blister, the baby brother and Tree, well, the tree. They all work in a “freak show” in Gomorrah to survive. She also has others who she considers as her family, including her adoptive father, Villiam, Gomorrah’s proprietor, and Kahina, the fortune-worker.

Luca is a self-proclaimed gossip worker, has a mysterious past and a way about him that Sorina can’t quite pinpoint. He lives in the Down-Hill.

 

Plot Stuffs; ie. What the Heck Is Happening?

I loved pretty much all of everything that went on in this novel; it kept me guessing, dropped appropriate hints and clues, and I was figuring it out along the way with Sorina. I did have my suspicions throughout of who was involved in the killings and they proved to be accurate.

The plot does have some slow areas at times, which made the novel drag on a little bit. It didn’t hinder my experience of it though, it gave more time for development of character and the world.

Along with the basic plotline, as stated in the description of this novel, there was this overarching political plotline of the world that played a role in the story. At the time of this all being revealed to the Sorina, it seemed to be a little info dump-ey and was complicated to follow. Especially when listening to an audiobook where you can have a tendency to zone out. I thought it was a great attempt to add an extra layer to the story, though it didn’t quite meet its mark.

I wish there was more exploration and I could read a whole series that delved into aspects of the world beyond Sorina and her family. If Sorina had been less oblivious to the world outside of her own doorstep, we could’ve gradually been introduced to the political and interesting potential of the world.

 

Reading vs. Listening

As mentioned above, I read this book on audio. It was narrated by Emily Woo Zeller. She honestly did a decent narration, she spoke clearly, for the most part, and she had voices for the characters.

I had a couple issues with the narration, however. I found that it was hard to hear her narrate certain sections because she was saying something too quietly because the story prompted her to whisper or mumble. It was hard to hear clearly what the character was saying because of that.

Another issue I had was that it was hard to discern what was being said in the story vs. what Sorina was thinking, and Sorina does think of things she would say before she actually says something different. I was a bit confused on that front. Overall, I enjoyed the audiobook experience.

 

What I Loved

  • Sorina and Luca as characters were both really well developed as the story went on and went through major growth that I was really pleased with
  • Representation; LGBTQIAP+ & anxiety
  • The plot was very engaging, I was glued to the story at every turn, and it kept you guessing
  • The world was weird and eccentric
  • The story was not afraid to show horrors, let their characters curse and be angry, and not gloss over grief & sadness

 

What I Did Not Love

  • Sorina’s illusions and the magic surrounding them are slightly confusing and as a reader, I couldn’t really understand how they worked so that hindered the believability a bit
  • Sorina lived in Gomorrah most of her life and traveled a lot with the city, so it seemed a little unbelievable that she was not as aware of the underlying conflicts between Gomorrah and the “Up-Mountain.”
  • Gomorrah as a city seemed a little bit “too good to be true,” in the sense that Gomorrah had so much influence as a roaming city, yet it could still be pushed around by the other cities and citizens of Gomorrah could be killed/injured by Up-Mountain officials. Sorina explained at some point in the novel that Gomorrah had influence over the cities, but at other points, she said that Gomorrah was toeing a very thin line from being completely wiped out by the Up-Mountain

tenor

  • Some of the characters, like Hawk, I feel weren’t fleshed out enough. They either didn’t experience any growth or were only spoke of or told to the reader by Sorina. These characters become pivotal to the story so it’s weird that we have no characterization for them

 

Final Thoughts

All in all, I really loved Daughter of the Burning City. The story was unique and packed with a lot of lovable characters. Although it had moments where I was confused, it didn’t impede my enjoyment. I do recommend this book for anyone who is tired of the tropes in Young Adult fantasy and are looking for a diverse read.

 

★★★★
Four Stars!

Book Review #35: The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer

 Matteo Alacran was not born ; he was harvested. His DNA came from El Patron, lord of a country called Opium–a strip of poppy fields lying between the United States and what was once called Mexico. Matt’s first cell split and divided inside a petri dish. Then he was placed in the womb of a cow, where he continued the miraculous from embryo to fetus to baby. He is a boy now, but most consider him a monster–except for El Patron. El Patron loves Matt as he loves himself, because Matt is himself.

As Matt struggles to understand his existence, he is threatened by sinister cast of characters, including El Patron’s power-hungry family, and he is surrounded by a dangerous army of bodyguards. Escape is the only chance Matt has to survive. But escape from the Alacran Estate is no guarantee of freedom, because Matt is marked by his difference in ways he doesn’t even expect.

This book reminded me (although I have not read it in full) a bit of The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness. It is similar in many ways, although this novel was vastly different.

My initial thought when I picked up this book was that it was Dystopian. I was definitely right about that. When you first open the book, you are taken a bit slightly off-guard at the table of contents, which revealed that you were going to be reading the entire childhood of this boy. Next is a list of characters, and an Alacaran family history. In my opinion, those additions to the book didn’t really seem necessary as I could easily follow what was going on, and who the characters were.

Honestly, I really liked this book. Matt is a character that you fall in love with; he is genuinely a good person, thrust into some awful situations. You are watching this boy grow up, and it is really entertaining. I’m not going to reveal too much of what happens in this book, to keep this review spoiler-free. I will say that the twists and turns this book had were very well done, you could hardly expect them coming. The setting and secondary characters in this novel are very well developed. Nothing seemed sort of “out there” as some dystopian books have done in the past. My only gripes with this novel are that some of the excitement and tenseness dropped off about two thirds into the tome, which wasn’t by much, however, it is still noticeable.

The idea of Matt as a clone, and how he was treated because of it made him into the character he is by the end of the novel. Clones were treated as less than human; as monsters. As Matt grappled with this concept, you could see his innermost confusion with the idea of what it means to be human and to have a soul.

The House of the Scorpion is a must-read for anyone who enjoys the literary struggle of the concept of humanity.

Star_Rating_four
My Rating