Thursday, January 31, 2019

Demi-gods, Talking Swords, and Strong Women

Destroyer's Blood


Series:  Blood Series
Author: Michael Lynes
Published: November 5 2018
Publisher: Michael D Lynes

Goodreads Summary: Dev shook his head, spitting out dust and rock chips. The last rays of the setting sun stained the ground crimson. “Betrayer,” he murmured, ears still ringing from the terrific explosion, “we have a problem.”

The cryptic message from Olympus changes everything... One moment Devcalion and Betrayer are free, climbing up Half Dome without a care in the world, the next they are dragged into battle with the Destroyer, Zeus’s ancient foe.

The Dark Power is merciless, and time is running out. It’s up to Dev and Tray to try to stop him, or the world of men and gods is doomed.

My Thoughts:
Honestly at first I wasn't a huge fan. It felt a bit like a Percy Jackson rip-off. However, the farther I read, the more I began to enjoy the story and the ways that the gods/goddesses/titans were portrayed, which was actually very different from Percy Jackson. Don't get me wrong, I freaking love Percy Jackson, and if you haven't heard of the Lightning Thief Musical, educate yourself. . . . But, back to the review. I loved Hephaestus. One of my favorite things was that while his "speaking voice" was crude and rough, his "mind voice" was that of a professor. It taught the idea that people can choose how to portray themselves, and shouldn't be thought less of if their dialect differs from yours. Hephaestus is a genius, but he feels more comfortable being seen as a lovable goof. 

I loved the thought that certain titles/roles of gods can be passed on - Devcalion taking Prometheus' role, and Adrestia taking on the mantle of Nemesis. I liked that the traditions were being passed on to the next generation. That was cool.

As previously stated the characters were great. Typhon's madness was very well constructed and delivered, as was the bond between Dev and Tray. Tray is awesome. When Adrestia first entered the picture I was afraid that Dev - Tray - Adrestia would turn into some sort of weird love triangle, but that's not what happened at all. Tray and Addie become close friends, because strong women don't need to compete over a boy. Strong women pool their resources and move past said boy. Well done Lynes, well done.

* * * * * * * * * S P O I L E R S    A H E A D * * * * * * * * *

The ending was great, how Gaea's anger and sorrow were acknowledged and her heart was restored, she wasn't destroyed, but made complete again. The way Tray fit into that puzzle was very symbolic and I appreciated the imagery. I really liked that Adrestia's sacrifice wasn't cast aside, but honored.

So yeah, the plot was good, I liked the characters, it brought a fresh spin on Greek mythology, and the ending was satisfying, however, I'm gonna give it 3/5 trees, and not 4/5. Why? Dialogue. While Hephaestus had great interactions with other characters, whenever Dev or Tray spoke it felt off. Almost as if their conversations belonged in a middle-grade series, and not YA. Specifically the last scene - the reunion between Tray and Dev - this was mainly due to the fact that when Dev loses Tray he is completely and utterly devastated. He can't even think, his life is ruined, and nothing matters anymore. Then Gaea does the unthinkable and brings her back, and it's cheesy, quick and paired with frankly stupid dialogue. Their reunion is lackluster, childish, and doesn't seem to match the themes that are followed throughout the rest of the book. 

Definitely an enjoyable book, very well researched and thought out. Great for fans of Greek mythology.


Thursday, January 3, 2019

People are lovable but imperfect in Jenna Zark's 'Fool's Errand'


Title: Fool's Errand
Series: Beat Street 
Author: Jenna Zark
Genre: Middle Grade Historical Fiction 
Published: November 20, 2018, Dragon Moon Press
Pages: 150
Buy: Amazon

What Goodreads has to say:

When her best friend Sophie goes missing, 12-year-old Ruby Tabeata has a choice: wait for her friend to come home or defy her parents and find Sophie.

Set during the 1950s Blacklist era when writers like Sophie’s mom were being jailed or fired, Fool’s Errand sends Ruby out of her city and her comfort zone.

With nothing to rely on but her grit and determination, Ruby has to outsmart the men chasing Sophie and her mom—discovering that whether or not you succeed, trying to save a friend is never a fool’s errand.

What I have to say:

The Beat on Ruby's Street was one of my favorite middle grade books ever. It was amazing. I was glued to the page, I reveled in the simple yet beautiful style, and perhaps best of all, the book fed my hopeless poetry addiction.

So when I heard that Jenna Zark had written a sequel about Ruby and her friends, I was ecstatic. In my opinion, Fool's Errand didn't quite reach the level of literary perfection that The Beat on Ruby's Street achieved, but it was still a fantastic read: clever, exciting, and heartwarming.

At the center of the novel is Ruby Tabeata, and a heroine more lovable, spunky, and indomitable would be difficult to find. Being a Beat (and a preteen) Ruby is apt to question and challenge everything. She's stubborn as anything and determined not to let anyone push her around. And that extends to the people she cares about--Ruby won't let anyone harm them if she can help it. She'll do whatever she can to protect her friends, especially her best friend Sophie.

That's the starting plot for Fool's Errand: Sophie and her mother have gone missing, and Ruby is determined to find them. While The Beat on Ruby's Street painted a vibrant picture of life as a Beat in 1950s Greenwich Village, Fool's Errand paints a picture of life in the days of the Blacklist, when writers and artists had to defend themselves against accusations of Communism.

For young readers, it's an excellent introduction to one of America's darker episodes. But while it's historical fiction, Ruby isn't some antiquated 1950s heroine; she could be living in our time--and if she were, I have a hunch she'd be dealing with a lot of the very same issues: societal prejudices, broken families, political backstabbing, etc. Struggling to understand your parents, breaking the rules to protect a friend, making a situation worse when you only meant to help--these things will always be relevant.

Besides that, Ruby is such a strong, passionate character that she spans generations. She's so full of love but she gets frustrated when people don't understand her and when they harm the people close to her. She's incredibly brave and loyal but far from perfect. Aren't we all?

I think, at bottom, this book is about people: what binds them together, how they can surprise you, how a person you hate can suddenly become your friend, how a friend can make a mistake out of an overabundance of love, and how, in the end, we're all just doing the best we can.

A personal note: When I read The Beat on Ruby's Street I was living in Oregon. Since then, I've moved to New York City and wandered the charming, historic streets of Greenwich Village. Reading Fool's Errand on my daily subway commute, just minutes from Ruby's beloved Beat neighborhood, it feels like I've come full circle.


Until tomorrow.