Stolen Songbird (The Malediction Trilogy #1) by Danielle L. Jensen


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Stolen Songbird is a fantasy YA novel about Cécile who life long pursuit is to become a singer who wanted to be like her mother who left her and her family to pursuit her dream. However, she was kidnapped and taken to a secret underground kingdom in which its inhabitants were cursed to live under a mountain and was forced into a marriage after a prophecy hinted that she and the prince would be the end of the Trollus’s curse. However, things doesn’t end up the way it should be and even the trolls wasn’t what the people thought they are.

Despite sounding very cliched, the story is enjoyable and with more depth in it than just a fantasy romance between two people. It was layered in political intrigue, magical curses, impending doom and oppression and revolutionary. The character themselves continuously evolving. Cécile went through enough character growth through her tough time in Trollus as a prisoner and a human in a caste where you’re worthy by the ranks of birth and how magical you are. She undergoes a lot of discovery from her own character strength and ability that exceed what she knew about herself and the expansion of her role in the prophecy and the mystery surrounding the troll kingdom and its people. One of the intriguing aspect of the story was her growing love to the most disagreeable prince one might ever met. One of the amazing thing about this book is that the character doesn’t treat other people of her gender negatively even when one of them obviously in love with your own husband. It is refreshing to see the kind of love that didn’t fit into the stereotypical love triangle.

Since the story was dual narrated, there was another side to the male character that most YA series rarely venture. Tristan himself wasn’t like the conventional male character whose life only revolve around the female character’s well being or as a love object. In fact, the romance itself are an expendable element in this story and the characters do function more than just to satisfy the romance element perquisite with YA genre. Tristan is a political idealist and a revolutionist who recognize the need of his people and was the instrument against the rule of his father. He didn’t idealize the aristocracy ways (re: inbreeding) and do sympathise with the plight of his people and actively trying to change them. He was emotionally guarded to Cécile out of necessity but eventually found himself softening his heart toward her. 

But of course, things in this book never really go predictably well and nothing really end up with the way you imagine it to be. I just hope the continuation will keep on surprising me. 

The ARC is provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

The Wave by Todd Strasser


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I’m not certain how true this version of The Third Wave project but one of the major flaw of this book was it is a short novel and the book wasn’t meant to be a nonfictional work (hence, lessened the believability) but rather a retelling of an incident. It could have been a better book if the author hadn’t oversimplify the incident and major focus was on the psychology of the situation. It is an interesting social experiment although very unethical and done in the most shortsighted way but the most important is; The experiment itself is frighteningly successful that it only happen in five days.

I’ve seen the German film version of the book and of course both are different medium of interpretations but there was the 1972 account of The Third Wave by the teacher Ron Jones which does shed through the light of what actually happen and how he started the experiment without further foresight and lost control of the situation when it went out of control. It was more an actual scare than a significant incident but seeing that he was a teacher, I couldn’t find fault in that really. His method wasn’t flawless but he did get something right and rightfully dystopian. 

But I do get that this book was written in a way it could be read by average teenager and tried as it might, there’s not much disparity between this dramatization of 60’s teenage situation and to the modern equivalent – although obviously, without technology and social media. The book still raises a lot of ethical issues and I guess the third person narrative helped in some ways making the story relatable but the book was too short and it could be evened out with before, during and aftermath format with actual interviews or pictures or something that was actually interesting or author’s raising questions and inviting more dialogues or present a case study. I love to see a more recent rewriting of the incident and perhaps journalistic/young adult writing style rather than the focus on for-children writing quality. I wish I could say something like it was written in the 80s and hence it shouldn’t carry modern equivalent of writing young adult books but considering the author’s writing history, I guess something improved between these decades so it wouldn’t be too much to ask for a remastered version of this book because it really could have been better.

The Shadow Throne (The Ascendance Trilogy, #3) by Jennifer A. Nielsen

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This is the most difficult book in the series. It supposed to since it is a story about a boy king being forced to lead in a war against an invading army while barely months surviving among the pirates and healing his broken knee. Imogen was kidnapped and the likelihood of the nation going to fall was heavy on Jaron’s shoulder. Naturally, majority of this book is about war and politics. It is frustrating, it is slow but the novel did pick up around the challenges it faced.

There’s several YA books that I’ve read like Lumatere chronicles, The Queen’s Thief and The Seven Realms series that did write much about the war but I think The Shadow Throne did good on political aspect on it and the emotional burden handled in a very realistic situation for a teenager. Although I’m still uncertain about the ending of this series but I am satisfied with the book. It is a good series and despite all his flaws and failings and idealistic, Jaron did good to his people and it is admirable.