I haven’t written a book review in a little while because I prefer writing about books I loved. And most of the books I’ve read lately are just books I kinda liked. But I suppose a round-up of 3-star books couldn’t hurt, if you’re considering reading any of these titles…
1. The Selection, by Keira Cass I can sum this book up in two words: entertaining fluff. The plot is The Dystopian YA Bachelor: 35 girls who live in a country that used to be America with a strict caste system compete to marry the prince. The main character (named America, for stupid reasons) is a cookie-cutter Special Snowflake, the plot is super predictable and unrealistic (a mean girl, a love triangle)… so, fluff. And yet, I wanted to keep reading. I give it a 5/10 for that reason. Which I may change to a 4/10, and therefore downgrade to a 2-star read. But I still (inexplicably?) want to read the sequel. So that’s one thing the writer got right.
2. Graceling, by Kristin Cashore I thought I was going to like this book more than I did. It started off super-interesting: Katsa is born with a special talent (a “Grace”) for killing, and thereby becomes the king’s assassin. BUT she’s a good person who doesn’t like killing, so forms a secret society of do-gooders. Then she meets a boy who’s nearly as good at fighting as she is, and makes her first real friend. There were good things about this story: the world-building of the seven kingdoms was fantastic, I really liked the side characters, especially Po, the love interest, and the build-up of the sexual tension was really great. But then… the heroine just didn’t do it for me. She was too wooden. I feel like I never really got to know her. Also, as you keep reading, there are endless descriptions of their trek through the kingdom (we get it, it’s cold and there are trees) but then when it came to character development, I felt really short-changed. 6/10 for me, and since the ending was summed up pretty neatly, I don’t feel the need to read any more Graceling books.
3. The Scorpio Races, by Maggie Stiefvater I wrote a little about this book here but that was more on my dislike of audiobooks than a review of this specific book. The Scorpio Races is about a group of people who live on an island where killer horses come out of the sea every October and people capture them and ride them in a race to win money. It’s told in alternating POVs from Puck, a girl who needs to win to save her house, and Sean, a lone wolf who’s won in the past and needs to win so he can buy his horse from his antagonist boss. So, an interesting premise, and the characters were decent, but I felt the descriptions were far too long (this island is so cold and so windy and the horses are so sweaty, over and over and over again) and took away from my enjoyment of the story. So 5/10, again.
4. Are We There Yet? by David Levithan Two brothers who don’t really get along anymore are sent to Italy by their parents for a bonding vacation. This book was short and sweet and well-written, and I liked the characters–but it was almost too short and sweet. There’s not really a plot. It’s more about each brother’s meandering minds and the realizations they come to on their trip. I think it could have been improved if something more actually happened. 6/10 for me.
I’ve ordered a whole slew of more YA fantasy in the interest of reading in the genre in which I’m writing, and I’m hoping to find at least a few 4-or 5-star books among these. In the meantime, let me know if you have any more recommendations for me!
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6 thoughts on “MK’s Book Reviews: A 3-Star Streak”
I’m currently on the waiting list for The Selection at my library. Based on that description, I think I will release it. It’s a book I’ve had on my radar for a while and feel like I “should” read it (since I like similar books) more than I “want” to read it. Thanks for the review!
Yeah, it’s totally missable, though good if you’re in the mood to not think very much. There are definitely more well-written books out there!
How did these books end up on your radar?
Always a good question. Graceling and The Selection (as well as all the books I’m about to read) came about because I looked up top YA fantasy books. The Scorpio Races I read because I read Maggie Stiefvater’s Raven Boys series and loved it. And Are We There Yet? because it’s by David Levithan and I’ve loved his other books.
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