Sunday 29 March 2015

Review on The Dreamwalker Diaries #1 Fifteen

Ashling Campbell seems like your average fifteen year old girl, except that she is a dreamwalker. Every night, she dreams about witnessing the public execution of her future self, where black eyed monsters have taken over the town. After breaking her dream catcher, Ash is no longer just a spectator in her dreams, and is able to astral project into the body of her thirty year old self. With the help of her future friends, Ash must find out as much information about the future as possible, and do everything she can in the present day to prevent this future from happening. Every action she takes in the present can have a huge impact on the future, and it's up to Ash to make the right decision and save her future self.

The idea of dream walking was interesting to me. I terrified myself as a child by watching Nightmare on Elm Street, but the idea of dreams having consequences in the real world has always interested me, so I was excited to start reading this book. I find lucid dreaming interesting, so combining this with the Nightmare on Elm Street idea made for an interesting story.

I felt that the characters were somewhat cliché, and could have come straight out of any cheesy teen movie. It was obvious who was meant to be the do no wrong protagonist, the nerdy best friend and the beautiful spoilt girl who we're all meant to hate. I was hoping that the characters would go outside of their comfort zones and break their stereotype, but sadly each character stuck to it for the entire novel. I initially felt that there had to be more to Nadette than being a rich, spoilt brat, but I disliked her more and more as the novel went on, and was surprised by the big reveal of who she was in the future. Although I didn't find the characters from fifteen year old Ash's life very original, I did enjoy the characters from her future, especially her future boyfriend Coop, who continuously risks his life to keep Ash safe. I loved the friendship between Ash and Tate, and was extremely disappointed when Ash started to develop romantic feelings for him. I would love to one day find a YA book where a strong friendship like theirs could remain strictly platonic on both sides.

Although I was initially able to keep up with the plot, I found it got a little confusing when it turned all out inception, and Ash started to have dreams within dreams. The use of italics was a clever way to show the reader when Ash was awake and when she dreamwalking, but I felt that going back to the normal font when she was still inside a dream was confusing, and I found myself wondering if she was awake or dreamwalking.

Figuring something out before the character does always tends to annoy me, and I had figured out who the Jumlin was way in advance of Ash's realization, so having to keep reading until she figured things out was quite tedious. I did enjoy the Jumlin story line however. I'm a huge fan of mythological supernatural creatures, so taking a legend and making it reality is always interesting to me. However, although the majority of the plot didn't surprise me, I was shocked to find out the true identity of Dr Dietz at the end of the novel. Although it was obvious he was not meant to be at the lab, as no one else who worked there knew him, I did not expect.

I overall enjoyed this book and loved the story line. I would love to read the sequel to find out if Ash is able to fix both her present and her future. I recommend it to fans of Supernatural and Doctor Who.

You can purchase 'Fifteen' HERE

Saturday 21 March 2015

Review on 'Theo and the Forbidden Language'

Theo is an ordinary rabbit, at least, that's what the residents of Willago think. After becoming the apprentice of Father Oaks, not only does Theo learn the art of healing, but also something far more forbidden. Theo becomes an omatje, a word catcher who is able to understand written language. Deemed long ago as sorcery, his fellow rabbits imprison him after finding out his secret. That is until he is rescued by a bear named Brune. Theo learns that bigger things are happening outside Willago, where humans are pacifying the animals, removing their ability to think and talk for themselves. With the help of Brune and the Princess Indigo, Theo must travel with his companions in an attempt to save his fellow animals, but Theo must keep the biggest secret of his life, or risk his friends turning against him.

I always enjoy reading fantasy stories that involve talking animals, and this book was no exception. I loved the idea of reading being a forbidden language, as it seemed like the animals had been brainwashed to stop them from making themselves smarter. Stories with an animal protagonist are usually intended for young children, but I loved that even though the majority of the characters were animals, the novel was overall quite dark, with themes of death, imprisonment and starvation. I l thought Theo was a brilliant protagonist, as although he was a fat little rabbit who had lived a peaceful life and had no idea how to use a sword, he took everything in his stride and was willing to step outside of his comfort zone to help the other animals. It also showed that being an efficient fighter is not enough to win a battle, and that knowledge is power.

Indigo was one of my favourite characters as she is a strong female warrior, and teaches Theo that just because they're rabbits doesn't mean that they can't be efficient fighters. As rabbits are usually prey, I loved the idea of a rabbit being able to fight creatures twice their size. Indigo is both fierce and patient, and I loved that although they were tired after travelling all day, she still took the time to teach him how to use a sword.

Although I loved Theo, Brune, Indigo and Manneki, I felt that there were too many characters for me to keep up with, and found myself forgetting the species of certain minor characters. As the books target audience ranged from middleschoolers to teenagers, I feel as if this could be a problem for them also, and think that less minor characters would have made the story easier to understand.

I found the pace of the story to be quite slow in places. The majority of the novel is a journey, and I found that at certain points, little was happening to push the main plot forward. However, there were certain sub-plots that I was eager to find out the reason behind them, such as what the tortoise shell that Theo was given was for. I loved that the story built up to a huge battle, and it was easy to get lost in the story once the action was underway. This last section of the novel was action packed, and it was easy to get lost in the story and feel like I was part of the battle. The author portrayed the feelings of the armies perfectly, which is something that is usually only touched upon briefly in battle sequences. The terror of the army knowing they were going to lose was portrayed perfectly, and I loved that even the pacified horses were too scared to go on the attack.

I recommend this book to fans of Watership Down and Lord of the Rings, and anyone who loves to read fantasy stories.

Theo and the Forbidden Language can be purchased HERE

Thursday 5 March 2015

Review on 'Crow Boy'

After the sudden break up of his parents, Tom Afflick finds himself being forced to move from his hometown of Manchester to Edinburgh to live with his mother and her new boyfriend. Tom misses his old friends, and despises his classmate, who bullies him relentlessly. When Tom goes on a school trip to Mary King's close, he gets transported to 1645 where the plague is terrorising the streets of Edinburgh. After Tom gives a young girl dying from the plague some antibiotics, the plague doctor decides to take Tom on as his apprentice. However, the doctor is not all that he seems, and charges his patients a large sum of money for his visits. Tom must show the doctor as the fraud he really is, while dealing with the most important matter of all, how is he going to get back to his own time?

I thought this was a really clever and interesting story. I enjoy both historical and fantasy novels, so putting both of these genres together was brilliant. I loved that the story was set in Mary King's Close, as putting a fantasy story into a location where the plague had actually happened in real life was a unique idea, as the majority of fantasy books are also set in a fictional location. Tom was an interesting character who seemed to quickly adapt to the situation he was in, as although he was getting thrown from 1645 back into an alternate reality of his own time and back again, he only ever seemed to be out of the loop of what was going on for a few moments. I also loved Morag, as she was a no nonsense type of character, and although she seemed skeptical about Tom's time travel story, she became a good friend to him and tried to understand what was going on with him.

I found parts of the story to be quite confusing. Although I loved the alternate reality with his parents, and certain aspects of 1645 blurring into it, I felt that the alternate reality of Tom arriving at the close on his school trip to not make much sense. I liked the idea of Tom being able to see things that his parents, who actually belonged in that reality couldn't, but I personally felt that it made no sense for Missie Grierson to be in an alternate reality with him and for other people belonging in that reality to also be able to see her.

Throughout the novel there is the on going question of “Is this really happening, or is it going on inside of Tom's head?” What we get told from a young age is to never write “it was all a dream,” and I found myself worrying that this terrible cliché would happen and ruin an overall great novel. I find this ending to be quite lazy on an authors part, so I was glad that some proof of it actually happening was given in the last couple of pages. I am looking forward to reading the next book in this series.

Fans of Harry Potter, Alice in Wonderland and Wizard of Oz will definitely love this book. 

You can purchase Crow Boy HERE