I used to be the blogger called YAL Book Briefs, but I grew bored of the handle and changed my name to Howdy YAL. I also respond to MJ. I like to read, write, eat truffles, and watch bad Lifetime movies.
10) This book is way over hyped: It’s a good book. But with the hype it was getting I expected it to be like Harry Potter or something. It’s not. It’s good, but not fantastic. I will not be rushing to the stores to get its sequel, but at the same time I do think I want to finish the series. As this list shows, it was overall a pretty solid effort.
9) It is filled with tropes: Veronica Roth is wrong. I have read books like Shadow and Bone. Yes, it might incorporate a different setting and mythology than other YA fare out there, but it still shares the famous Chosen One trope. A magic school trope. A potential love triangle trope. Really, nothing that new here save for the Russian inspired setting.
8) The tropes were handled well: While not original, the tropes that this book did use were handled very well. I didn’t get annoyed and believe me Chosen One stories are very easy to get annoyed with. I think what kept it interesting was it’s setting. It was different enough, but similar enough to keep things interesting but not over powering.
7) Mal and Alina have sibling chemistry: The I love yous from Mal’s POV really doesn’t make sense (yet). If there was some development, I think I could love these two together. However, as it it I just see sibling chemistry. Which wouldn’t exactly be a bad thing if that’s what Bardugo intended. But guessing by the end of the book, it’s not. I often think pacing of relationships often plays a big role in whether a book couple has chemistry or not. Here. Well…I’m just not buying the attraction yet especially with The Darkling looming.
6) While the world building was overall tight it had a lot of holes: This is probably what the two sequels are for. But I had lots of questions about the world that these characters lived in. I got the gist of it, but there were lots of holes. Hopefully, the next two books in the trilogy will be able to answer them for me. I sort of hesitate, at this point, to criticize this much because it is only the opening act.
5) Alina spends a lot of time looking at herself in the mirror: Just saying. It happens a lot. I didn’t mark how many times. But a good percentage of the book is her describing how bad/good she looks.
4)Despite her vanity I did like Alina: She seemed realistic. She wasn’t ridiculous strong or brave, for the most part, and she did evolve it seemed. My biggest complaint with her, besides the occasional vain moment, is that she did seem like she could get moony eyed over one of the male leads with little to no effort.
3)Save for the romance the pacing was pretty solid: I was able to read this book pretty quickly which is always a pleasant surprise. I didn’t think any part of the story dragged. As boring as some of the palace scenes might have felt, they all served a purpose and the book moved pretty fast.
2) Sometimes I Wondered Why: This book was as hyped as it was. It was good. But I just kept waiting for that amazing event that was going to knock off my socks. But other than The Darkling. There was really nothing that made me fangirl.
1) The Darkling could be an amazing villain (but maybe I don’t want him to be): Okay, I admit it. I sort of want The Darkling and Alina to be together if only because they pretty much have the chemistry that Alina and Mal are missing. And I do have a thing for dark characters when they aren’t the dark sort of character with the tropes that I find annoying. The thing is, as much as I enjoy the chemistry these two have, I’d be perfectly okay if things don’t work out if The Darkling gets his evil on. YA really lacks in villains. And if The Darkling lives up to his potential, well, then I’ll be a happy girl even if he and Alina are not the endgame.