Size Doesn’t Matter (129): Shadows of Self; We Are Okay; Daughter of the Pirate King

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Size Doesn’t Matter (129): Shadows of Self; We Are Okay; Daughter of the Pirate KingShadows of Self by Brandon Sanderson
Series: Mistborn: Alloy Era #2
Published by Tor Books on October 6, 2015
Genres: Fantasy, Western
Pages: 383
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher
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four-stars

Shadows of Self shows Mistborn’s society evolving as technology and magic mix, the economy grows, democracy contends with corruption, and religion becomes a growing cultural force, with four faiths competing for converts.

This bustling, optimistic, but still shaky society now faces its first instance of terrorism, crimes intended to stir up labor strife and religious conflict. Wax and Wayne, assisted by the lovely, brilliant Marasi, must unravel the conspiracy before civil strife stops Scadrial’s progress in its tracks.

Shadows of Self will give fans of The Alloy of Law everything they’ve been hoping for and, this being a Brandon Sanderson book, more, much more.

At this point, it’s apparent that the Alloy Era are among Sanderson’s best works. The series isn’t as strong plot-wise as Stormlight Archive, but they’re also much easier reads and so much funnier. Shadows of Self has another self-contained plot, fast pace, and host of humorous hijinks.

In Shadows of Self, the religion elements, which annoyed me in the first book, become more nuanced and interesting. I do have to consciously set aside my anger at one became of the original Mistborn trilogy every time I remember that Harmony is Sazed made into a god, but otherwise it’s good. In The Alloy of Law, the plot hinged on a last minute save from Harmony, which irritated me. Here, though, Harmony provides some information but is held back from participating actively. And the big reveal at the end was fascinating.

I continue to love Wax, Wayne, and Marasi. The Wax/Marasi ship I’m totally going to end up hating because he’s so annoying about romance, but individually they’re fantastic. I also really love that Steris is getting to be a character in her own right. She’s clearly not neurotypical and she’s never going to be part of the group and fighting, but she’s delightful whenever she appears. I’m glad that despite the love triangle, Steris gets to be a real and fabulous character, and that she and Marasi remain close.

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Shadows of Self stands alone beautifully, but also sets up the larger plots for books three and four very effectively. The humor’s what makes these books such a delight though.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:


I received this book for free from ALA in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Size Doesn’t Matter (129): Shadows of Self; We Are Okay; Daughter of the Pirate KingWe Are Okay by Nina LaCour
Published by Dutton Juvenile on February 14, 2017
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 240
Format: ARC
Source: ALA
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three-stars

You go through life thinking there’s so much you need…

Until you leave with only your phone, your wallet, and a picture of your mother.

Marin hasn’t spoken to anyone from her old life since the day she left everything behind. No one knows the truth about those final weeks. Not even her best friend, Mabel. But even thousands of miles away from the California coast, at college in New York, Marin still feels the pull of the life and tragedy she’s tried to outrun. Now, months later, alone in an emptied dorm for winter break, Marin waits. Mabel is coming to visit, and Marin will be forced to face everything that’s been left unsaid and finally confront the loneliness that has made a home in her heart.

Nina LaCour’s talent shines, but We Are Okay didn’t work for me as well as Everything Leads to You.

LaCour does an excellent job portraying a heroine going through a period of massive depression. Marin’s narration is distancing and almost emotionless as her sad tale unfolds. It’s clearly what We Are Okay aims for, and it achieves that, but I also just didn’t connect with Marin or feel anything. That may be for the best given how sad this book is. This just isn’t the sort of contemporary that works particularly well for me, no matter how beautifully written and crafted. It’s hard for me to experience the lows without also feeling the highs; they read like a monotone to me otherwise.

Readers of sad contemporary novels will enjoy this, but if, like me, you’re more of a shippy fluff person, you might want to pass.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

 

Size Doesn’t Matter (129): Shadows of Self; We Are Okay; Daughter of the Pirate KingDaughter of the Pirate King Series: Daughter of the Pirate King #1
Published by Feiwel & Friends on February 28, 2017
Genres: Fantasy, Adventure, Romance
Pages: 320
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
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two-half-stars

A 17-year-old pirate captain intentionally allows herself to get captured by enemy pirates in this thrilling YA adventure.

Sent on a mission to retrieve an ancient hidden map—the key to a legendary treasure trove—seventeen-year-old pirate captain Alosa deliberately allows herself to be captured by her enemies, giving her the perfect opportunity to search their ship.

More than a match for the ruthless pirate crew, Alosa has only one thing standing between her and the map: her captor, the unexpectedly clever and unfairly attractive first mate, Riden. But not to worry, for Alosa has a few tricks up her sleeve, and no lone pirate can stop the Daughter of the Pirate King.

Debut author Tricia Levenseller blends action, adventure, romance, and a little bit of magic into a thrilling YA pirate tale.

I really, really hate having to be that guy who comes along and says that debut novel isn’t all that good, but sometimes you have to be that guy. Daughter of the Pirate King is fun crack, but it’s not very good.

The concept of Daughter of the Pirate King is excellent. A pirate princess letting herself get captured by rival pirates (who are conveniently also mostly young and hot) so that she can run a con on them? Yes, PLEASE. The fantasy aspects didn’t really add much for me, but on a basic level this plot could very much have led to an amazing book.

Unfortunately, the writing’s pretty damn terrible. It’s simplistic to start with and just bursting with sentence fragments. Now, fragments can be useful to make a POV sound more like natural speech, but excessive fragments come across as juvenile and simplistic. In the ARC, Levenseller begins, by my count, 208 sentences with “But.” That’s just mind boggling.

Because of the sloppy writing, Alosa comes off as an idiot rather than a badass. Alosa constantly makes observations that are incredibly obvious, like the time that “a sword would be much harder to hide than a dagger.” No shit, Alosa?!?! Alosa hears rapid stomping and deduces that “it’s distinct from the rest of the battle. Probably because it’s closer. If I had to guess, I’d say someone rolled down the stairs.” Look at her trying to think! You’ll notice the occasionally baffling word choice in the sound of a person rolling down the stairs being referred to as “stomping.”

Throughout the book, Alosa realizes things after the reader does and often comes up with a brilliant deduction she has already been told. The reader is told that Alosa’s clever, but this really does not show ever. For example, Alosa keeps managing to escape from the brig and wander the ship in search of the map and is shocked when she learns they were allowing her to do this. Then again, considering that the pirates who captured her didn’t bother to check her or her possessions for weapons, maybe that was a reasonable assumption. It’s also clunky that Alosa escapes for days before the narration finally lets the reader know how she’s getting out of her cell.

Multiple times within Daughter of the Pirate King, characters stop to have conversations with someone while in the midst of a battle or guarding a prisoner. Because none of these people are capable of doing two things at once, the person they are fighting or guarding is able to launch an attack. Not just a stealth spring like a cat, either. They’re able to climb or bend over for a boot knife. SUCH FEARSOME PIRATES.

So yeah, the writing is almost entirely terrible, precisely the sort of writing YA haters think is representative of all YA fiction. However, I will say that this book is total crack, and I enjoyed it a lot in spite of myself. Levenseller does manage some pretty good banter occasionally, mostly between Riden and Alosa. This ship alone saves this book from a 1.5 star rating, because honestly it really is that bad. Well, that, and the concept. Still, this book could have been amazing if written by a more skilled author.

If you’re looking for some crack, shippy fun, go for it. Just go ahead and lower those expectations significantly.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

 

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One response to “Size Doesn’t Matter (129): Shadows of Self; We Are Okay; Daughter of the Pirate King”

  1. Wow, Alosa sounds like a dumbass. lol I’d been eyeing this gorgeous cover for quite some time but was unsure about reading it. Perfect gif too. Thanks for saving me a headache.
    Bonnie @ For the Love of Words recently posted…The End of Your Life Book ClubMy Profile

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