Where The Wolves Read

A blog where I review mostly books. I also review, if my appetite allows, movies, music, and video games. Enjoy the feast!

Friday, July 20, 2018

Lost Boy by Christina Henry

Trigger Warnings: Violence, child murder, mutilation, domestic abuse

SynopsisThere is one version of my story that everyone knows. And then there is the truth. This is how it happened. How I went from being Peter Pan’s first—and favorite—lost boy to his greatest enemy.

Peter brought me to his island because there were no rules and no grownups to make us mind. He brought boys from the Other Place to join in the fun, but Peter's idea of fun is sharper than a pirate’s sword. Because it’s never been all fun and games on the island. Our neighbors are pirates and monsters. Our toys are knife and stick and rock—the kinds of playthings that bite.

Peter promised we would all be young and happy forever.

Review: I really need more Peter Pan retellings in my life. This book was so good. I love seeing how people interpret the origin stories of villains. Hook's backstory in Lost Boy was very well done. You could see him constantly at war with himself about how much he loves Peter and the lost boys, but he also knows their way of life is dangerous. He struggles with being incredibly protective and how that changes the dynamics between the boys. I liked to see how the other boys acted around Jamie (Hook) and Peter. There were some characters that made me think of the cartoon, specifically the twins Nod and Fog. The way Christina depicted Peter was brilliant. There was so much darkness in his character that fit the story incredibly well. I do wish we had a little more interaction with the pirates. The story was obviously not focused on them, but I think it would have been nice to see Jamie interact with them a bit more since he grows up to become one.

Lost Boy was short, but dark. Christina didn't pull any punches when she showed how dangerous Neverland really was. There were scenes were even I was surprised at how gory they were. We did get to go to a few iconic places. Peter Pan's hideout and Skull Island were prominent in this book. Christina also introduced seemingly new locations and monsters which fit in quite well with the rest of the world. We do get to see a bit of the fairies in Neverland, but not very much. I think this could have been a fun thing to expand on, but Christina left it alone. It worked fine for the story as a whole, but I like seeing how authors show off fairies in stories, and I think this could have been a great inclusion.

Great, dark story based on Peter Pan.

4 howls

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie

SynopsisOne starry night, Peter Pan and Tinker Bell lead the three Darling children over the rooftops of London and away to Neverland - the island where lost boys play, mermaids splash and fairies make mischief. But a villainous-looking gang of pirates lurk in the docks, led by the terrifying Captain James Hook. Magic and excitement are in the air, but if Captain Hook has his way, before long, someone will be walking the plank and swimming with the crocodiles...

Review: I'm a sucker for retellings, but I rarely sit down and read the original source material. I finally let myself be whisked away to Neverland and I'm so glad I did. First off, yes this book has dark moments. Peter is an awful child and I always found myself worried about the lost boys and the Darling children. This is also definitely a product of its time and the way Barrie depicts Native American characters is tragic. I'm sure this is supposed to be a childish, ignorant view of them, but it is still unfortunate. This has long been pointed out because of the Disney movies, but it seemed important to throw that note in here as well.

The story of Peter Pan was fun and I found myself getting nervous for the children even though I knew what was going to happen at the end. I actually didn't watch the animated movie that much as a child, but there was an adaptation released in 2003 that I used to watch all the time. I found myself picturing characters and scenes from that movie throughout the entire story. In the way of reading the book, it was a bit distracting, but I did realize how faithful of an adaptation that movie was which was nice. There are small, beautiful moments that I love like how Peter describes the birth of fairies.

Worth checking out if you want to read more classic source material, but a horrid depiction of Native Americans.

3 howls

Monday, July 16, 2018

The Smoke Thieves by Sally Green

SynopsisIn Brigant, Princess Catherine prepares for a political marriage arranged by her brutal and ambitious father, while her true love, Ambrose, faces the executioner's block.

In Calidor, downtrodden servant March seeks revenge on the prince who betrayed his people. In Pitoria, feckless Edyon steals cheap baubles for cheaper thrills as he drifts from town to town.

And in the barren northern territories, thirteen-year-old Tash is running for her life as she plays bait for the gruff demon hunter Gravell.

As alliances shift and shatter, and old certainties are overturned, our five heroes find their past lives transformed and their futures inextricably linked by the unpredictable tides of magic and war.

Who will rise and who will fall? And who will claim the ultimate prize?

Review: I had a lot of fun while reading this book. I enjoyed all of the main characters which is not common. I was excited every time characters interacted and I could see their threads cross. That being said, there were some things I couldn't help but notice. Catherine made a comment when she met the man she was supposed to marry and said he might have been attractive if it wasn't for the scars on his face. That felt like an unnecessary observation. There are also a couple of characters, March and Edyon, who appear to be attracted to one another. But March also seems to be manipulative which is a pity. If there are other queer characters in later books to help balance this out, then it might not be a terribly big deal. But, it seems as though one of the few queer characters is a bad character. These are things to be mindful of if you do not like this kind of representation.

The story itself was enjoyable, but I felt the world itself lacked a bit. I just had a hard time picturing some of the countries. I was also a little disappointed that we didn't get more experiences with demons and their smoke. We do have a couple of scenes where characters use the smoke to heal someone, but I wish the necessity of this object was a bit more fleshed out. I'm hoping that we get more of the setting and this coveted demon smoke in the future books. I'm curious to see how the smoke gets used in the overarching politics of this world.

Fun, quick read that has some growing to do.

3 howls

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

In Real Life by Cory Doctorow and Jen Wang

SynopsisAnda loves Coarsegold Online, the massively-multiplayer role-playing game where she spends most of her free time. It's a place where she can be a leader, a fighter, a hero. It's a place where she can meet people from all over the world, and make friends. 

But things become a lot more complicated when Anda befriends a gold farmer--a poor Chinese kid whose avatar in the game illegally collects valuable objects and then sells them to players from developed countries with money to burn. This behavior is strictly against the rules in Coarsegold, but Anda soon comes to realize that questions of right and wrong are a lot less straightforward when a real person's real livelihood is at stake. 

From acclaimed teen author (Little BrotherFor the Win) and Boing Boing editor Cory Doctorow and Koko Be Good creator Jen Wang, In Real Life is a perceptive and high-stakes look at adolescence, gaming, poverty, and culture clash.

Review: I have seen people talk about In Real Life favorably, so I definitely had to pick it up when I saw it at my second-hand bookstore. As a character, Anda was easy to relate to but still flawed. I thought she was a great depiction of what happens when ignorant Americans try to force people from other countries to act like them. I wish that we had been able to get to know some of the side characters more. I feel like they could have added to the conversation in a meaningful way. Instead, we only got little scenes to show that Anda wasn't a complete loner. She was in a D&D club and went out with her family. These bits were nice, but they didn't do much to build up the world or Anda's character. There are also side characters in the world of Coarsegold Online, but we don't really know them either. We have conversations with a couple, Liza and Raymond, but the rest fall the the background rather quickly.

The story was interesting. Again, there were some moments that could have been expanded. I also wish we had more development of the game's world. I thought Cory and Jen did a great job of depicting how difficult it can be for teens to befriend people online. I still have a hard time telling mom about some of my online friends because she has always been against that idea. Seeing how close Anda got to Liza and Raymond hit close to home. I have a fairly close group of online friends, so I know how important those relationships can be. 

The art is beautiful. It was great to see how light and colorful the game world is. It was interesting to see how they depicted gamers in the real world. I don't know any who generally sit in the dark to play video games, so that was weird to me. That being said, it did make for a very interesting contrast when going from the real world to the game world. I liked that they made all of the gold farmers the same kind of character. It really played into Anda's ignorance when she approached a character who she thought was Raymond, but it was someone else. 

As a whole, this story was enjoyable but I wished it was longer. Some parts of the world and the characters felt missing, which was unfortunate. 

3 howls

Monday, July 9, 2018

Calamity by Brandon Sanderson

Synopsis: When Calamity lit up the sky, the Epics were born. David’s fate has been tied to their villainy ever since that historic night. Steelheart killed his father. Firefight stole his heart. And now Regalia has turned Prof, his closest ally, into a dangerous enemy.
    David knew Prof’s secret, and kept it even when Prof struggled to control the effects of his Epic powers. But facing Obliteration in Babilar was too much. Once the Reckoners’ leader, Prof has now embraced his Epic destiny. He’s disappeared into those murky shadows of menace Epics are infamous for the world over, and everyone knows there’s no turning back. . . .
   But everyone is wrong. Redemption is possible for Epics—Megan proved it. They’re not lost. Not completely. And David is just about crazy enough to face down the most powerful High Epic of all to get his friend back. Or die trying.

Review: First off, I didn't put any trigger warnings on here because, as there is still guns being used, it feels less prevalent than the earlier books. I also figure, if you've read up to Calamity then you probably don't care if guns are being used. As for characters, there isn't really much to say about them that hasn't already been said. I enjoyed seeing some characters like Prof and Megan struggle with things throughout the book. I enjoyed the setting in this book as well. A city made of salt was an interesting choice and it brought some new challenges that the characters had to adapt to. I will say there were some aspects of the story that I was disappointed in. This series plays a bit with the idea of parallel worlds. I guess, because I've read some of Sanderson's other works and I know how his books can be, it felt like there was a lot missing out of this series as a whole. It's still very enjoyable, but I think he could have expanded on this idea of parallel worlds. Maybe he'll do that in a later series? Who knows? I also wasn't terribly fond of the ending. I won't give it away, but it felt like a bit of a cop out. I was just a bit underwhelmed with the conclusion of this series.

Fun series overall, but a slightly disappointing ending.

3 howls

Friday, July 6, 2018

Firefight by Brandon Sanderson

Trigger Warnings: Detailed use and descriptions of guns

SynopsisBabylon Restored, formerly Manhattan, may give David answers. Ruled by the mysterious High Epic, Regalia, David is sure Babylon Restored will lead him to what he needs to find. And while entering another city oppressed by a High Epic despot is a gamble, David's willing to risk it. Because killing Steelheart left a hole in David's heart. A hole where his thirst for vengeance once lived. Somehow, he filled that hole with another Epic—Firefight. And he's willing to go on a quest darker, and more dangerous even, than the fight against Steelheart to find her, and to get his answers.

Review: Firefight was just as action-packed as Steelheart. I loved getting more familiar with Firefight's abilities. I think it is an interesting concept. David is a moron. For reasons I won't go into because of spoilers. I didn't like the way he handled certain things which was a bit disappointing. I liked seeing how some of the other characters grew within the confines of this story, and getting to know new characters was delightful. Mizzy, Exel, even Regalia were all fascinating to me. I loved Regalia. I thought she had a very interesting ability and seeing how things played out with her was definitely surprising.

Again, like Steelheart, this book never seemed to slow down in the way of pacing. Babylon Restored was a much more interesting setting than Newcago, in my opinion. I loved seeing how people navigated the watery city. My favorite thing about this particular book was the conversations other characters had with David about how Steelheart was a dictator, but also "not that bad" when compared to other Epics. I think, given the world we live in now, this is a very applicable conversation people could have about settling with those who are in charge of our country. The idea that characters were willing to settle with Steelheart as a ruler still blows my mind.

Another fast-paced book from Sanderson that can easily bring difficult conversations to the surface of our conversations.

4 howls

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson

Trigger Warnings: Death, gun usage, gun knowledge

SynopsisTen years ago, Calamity came. It was a burst in the sky that gave ordinary men and women extraordinary powers. The awed public started calling them Epics. But Epics are no friend of man. With incredible gifts came the desire to rule. And to rule man you must crush his will.

Nobody fights the Epics...nobody but the Reckoners. A shadowy group of ordinary humans, they spend their lives studying Epics, finding their weaknesses, and then assassinating them.

And David wants in. He wants Steelheart — the Epic who is said to be invincible. The Epic who killed David's father. For years, like the Reckoners, David's been studying, and planning — and he has something they need. Not an object, but an experience.

He's seen Steelheart bleed. And he wants revenge.

Review: This was a re-read for me and it was just as fun as the first time I read it. David, as a character, was interesting and incredibly flawed. He has this one-track mind about killing Steelheart, and he doesn't think of much else. Though, this dedication does make him attractive to the Reckoners, the rebel group trying to take out Epics. I didn't think the other Reckoners were quite as fleshed out as David and Prof which is a bit of a pity. I did greatly enjoy meeting and interacting with other Epics. Their powers feel so different from the standard Marvel/DC villains and it was very enjoyable getting to see that.

From the start, Steelheart is full of action. It felt like something major was happening in every chapter which made this book extremely easy to read. When I read this book the first time, I thought the ending was predictable. Upon re-read, while it still felt predictable, I enjoyed seeing how the story progressed through a new mindset. As someone who already knew, for certain, what happened at the end. I haven't read the rest of the series yet, so I'm excited to see how the overall story ends. This group called the Faithful are mentioned a couple of times in the book, and I hope we get to dive a bit deeper into that group later in the series. I'm also curious to know if any "good" Epics exist, or if they are all power-hungry monsters. The biggest thing I feel like people should be wary of is the constant use of guns. I know that's a very sensitive topic and David is very knowledgeable of them. He has a scene where he is breaking down and explaining different gun types. If this sounds like a turn off to anyone, then they might want to avoid this book.

Engaging take on superhero/supervillain stories with a slightly predictable plotline.

4 howls