Sorry I've been AWOL for a bit! It's finals week now and I was hardcore studying last week. We also had a lot of final presentations, including a symposium where we presented our bioengineering senior design projects to a panel of judges. It was really intimidating because these judges were professors, physicians, and entrepreneurs, but my group ended up winning in our category so that was really exciting!
The nice thing about finals week is that I use books as my study break, so I actually end up reading a lot more than usual. I just don't have time to write many reviews, but I will crank those out over spring break :)
Anyways, here are the awesome books that are getting me through finals. I'll have full reviews of them up soon!
And I Darken
This book was so, so good. It's a historical novel with absolutely no fantasy in it, so don't be tricked by Kiersten White's usual fantasy/paranormal books. I'm a little confused as to why it's marketed as "children's" because it's pretty dark, with everything from beheadings to almost-rape, but all of it is tastefully handled and there's nothing too gory. It's a testament to White's writing style that the poetry of the words almost makes the ugliness of this world seem beautiful!
The world and its characters are so rich and complex, and the political maneuvering is just as interesting as the internal conflicts of our protagonists. I had no idea what this book was about when I started, but I was completely blown away. This is one amazing historical re-imagining!
I was really excited for future-Paris and revolution and a girl saving the world, but this book fell pretty flat to me. I didn't particularly like any of the characters, and the romance seemed really awkward/sort of like instalove. I felt like there could have been even more scheming and cat-and-mouse instead of so much internal conflict for both Sophie and Rene, and the book could definitely have been tightened up a lot. There were also a couple of things that rubbed me the wrong way: if this takes place in a future where all technology is banned (let's not even go into the terrible explanation of why that is), why is it that the social norms are back to those of the 18th century as well? Women are treated as useless pretty things that can't physically hold swords or be smart enough to do anything but sit at home and embroider things, which is so frustrating because technology definitely isn't the (only) reason we've made so much progress with social equality. Ugh.
All our Yesterdays
I'm a sucker for time travel books, and this one was awesome. Still reeling from that perfect bittersweet ending.
Of Metal and Wishes
This one's a phantom of the opera retelling, but set in an alternate-history Chinese slaughterhouse. It's gory and dark, but also extremely poignant and gorgeously written. Highly highly recommended!