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The Official Student News Site of Parkway West High

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The Official Student News Site of Parkway West High

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Fantasy Fever

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Keira Lang
Three fantasy books from the library reviewed below.

West has a lot of good things, including a large selection of wonderful books. But, with so many books, which one should possibly be chosen to read? We decided to review three fantasy books that have recently come to our library to give readers inspiration for their reading list. 

Here are a few things we looked at to help judge the books:

Plot:

  • Were there gaps? 
  • Was it engaging?
  • Did it stretch on for too long?

Characters: 

  • Were they well-developed? 
  • How lovable were they?

Word choice:

  • Is the writing style likable?
  • Did the dialogue leave a positive impact?

These reviews are not meant to spoil anything, though they might a little bit. Hopefully, these can help readers who are stuck in the library, wondering what to read. Enjoy!

……

“Heartless” by Marissa Meyer

(Reviewed by both of us)

Synopsis: 

The cover of "Heartless"Long before she was the terror of Wonderland—the infamous Queen of Hearts—she was just a girl who wanted to fall in love.

Catherine may be one of the most desired girls in Wonderland, and a favorite of the unmarried King of Hearts, but her interests lie elsewhere. A talented baker, all she wants is to open a shop with her best friend. But according to her mother, such a goal is unthinkable for the young woman who could be the next queen. Then Cath meets Jest, the handsome and mysterious court joker. For the first time, she feels the pull of true attraction. At the risk of offending the king and infuriating her parents, she and Jest enter into an intense, secret courtship. Cath is determined to define her own destiny and fall in love on her terms. But in a land thriving with magic, madness, and monsters, fate has other plans. (from Goodreads)                                                                 

“Heartless” is the story of Alice in Wonderland’s Queen of Hearts before she came to be royalty. It was a thrilling tale with engaging plot twists and lovable characters. 

Plot:

We could not put this book down. Granted, “Heartless” was a little slow at the beginning, but it was spectacular once the story kicked off. The world of Hearts was a very interesting one to explore, filled with chaos, magic and talking animals. Meyer did not disappoint with her world-building, even if Wonderland was not her original universe. She took the franchise of Alice in Wonderland and made it her own, using the fantasy world to propel the plot forward. 

The storyline itself was solid and well-rounded, keeping you engaged throughout the entire book. Everything written was intentional and her use of foreshadowing was very subtle during the story, which made for a great realization once it all came together at the end. Meyer kept us on the edge of our seats with the unexpected plot twists that she threw upon the characters. Right when things seemed to finally go perfectly, a brutal plot twist was thrown in, making readers have to keep reading. Though we cannot spoil the end of the book, we’ll tell you right away that it is not your typical happily ever after; the book is about the Queen of Hearts after all. 

Characters:

Although Catherine Pinkerton stars as the main character, Marissa Meyer manages to make every side character unique and give them their own spotlight. All of the characters are well-developed and feel like real people, even if they are only present for a second or two. For example, the Cobbler, a caterpillar that makes shoes, is only included for about a chapter in total. However, Meyer wrote him with many details so his presence is vivid through his dialogue and body language. We were able to get annoyed with him even though he was only there for a few sentences. 

Meyer’s characters are super three-dimensional, such as Catherine Pinkerton: she’s loyal, passionate, and hardworking. However, Catherine’s character is only realistic because she has many flaws such as hate, a short temper and impulsiveness. Meyer makes it so the reader can feel incredibly frustrated with the characters at times and then absolutely love them at others. Furthermore, this book makes readers attached to the characters, and then absolutely pulls their heartstrings by the end of the story.

Writing style:

Another factor we thoroughly enjoyed was the author’s writing style. Her diction varies depending on the scene and creates the atmosphere of the novel, nailing how the environment is supposed to feel. Her writing style has a regal tone due to her diction of fancy and exquisite words, which mimics the tone of the dialogue between the royal characters. Meyer has a very descriptive style, which allows for thorough imagery and a clear picture of the world and its problems. But, Meyer also manages not to overpower the reader with details, making her book very pleasing to read. 

“Heartless” is a brilliant read that we both enjoyed a lot. We were so into it that we wanted to cry at the end (Ella actually did). But, even with the sad ending, the book was still amazing. It is a story we would even consider rereading because of how much we loved it — except maybe the end. It was written so well that even with the emotional abuse we endured, we give this book a 5/5 stars.

……

“Jade Fire Gold” by June CL Tan

(Reviewed by Ella Marcinkiewicz)The cover of "Jade Fire Gold"

Synopsis: In an empire on the brink of war…Ahn is no one, with no past and no family. Altan is a lost heir, his future stolen away as a child. When they meet, Altan sees in Ahn a path to reclaiming the throne. Ahn sees a way to finally unlock her past and understand her arcane magical abilities. But they may have to pay a far deadlier price than either could have imagined. (from Goodreads)

“Jade Fire Gold” is an enjoyable light read that has a good amount of action and a little adventure.

Plot:

With the book told from multiple perspectives, we knew secrets that the characters did not, which made for a fun time watching them figure it out. The journey as a whole was pretty interesting. 

However, at times, the plot did seem unfocused. The main goal was to find a sword so they could restore their land, but sometimes the character’s diverted from this goal, and I could not tell if that was still the ultimate objective. There were also multiple scenes towards the end that did not help the plot along and felt unnecessary to the end goal. 

There were definitely a few plot twists that kept the plot interesting. Most of them appeared in the beginning and were extremely helpful to the plot, pushing the characters into meeting. But then there were some that felt unnecessary. However, the beginning was really engaging; It had the perfect amount of action, mystery and information for this fantasy kingdom.

Characters:

In “Jade Fire Gold,” the two main characters are Altan and Ahn. The story goes back and forth between both of their perspectives, giving insight into each of their motives and feelings. Both of the main characters seem to be pretty developed. Both had flaws and perks to their personality, making them seem more real which we loved. But, the side characters were not as developed as they were in “Heartless”. Their sole purpose was to help Altan or Ahn, and they had little background, so we never knew what exactly their motivations and feelings were. Despite this, all the interactions and dialogue were fun to read and, even minor characters helped the story flow.         

Writing Style:

Tan’s writing style was easy to read. She used a lot of action, keeping the book engaging from the start. Once we reached the middle, we began feeling the sense of a quest starting. Tan used enough description to give us a thorough picture of the world and its characters. The mixture of adventure and worldbuilding draws the reader in and makes for a fun, light read.

“Jade Fire Gold” is perfect for a quick and easy read. Even though the plot has some gaps, there is enough action and excitement to make up for it, earning the book a 3/5 stars.

……

“Jade City” by Fonda Lee

(Reviewed by Keira Lang)The cover of "Jade City"

Synopsis: Jade City is a gripping Godfather-esque saga of intergenerational blood feuds, vicious politics, magic, and kungfu.

The Kaul family is one of two crime syndicates that control the island of Kekon. It’s the only place in the world that produces rare magical jade, which grants those with the right training and heritage superhuman abilities.

The Green Bone clans of honorable jade-wearing warriors once protected the island from foreign invasion–but nowadays, in a bustling post-war metropolis full of fast cars and foreign money, Green Bone families like the Kauls are primarily involved in commerce, construction, and everyday upkeep of the districts under their protection.

When the simmering tension between the  Kauls and their greatest rivals erupts into open violence in the streets, the outcome of this clan war will determine the fate of all Green Bones and the future of Kekon itself. (from Goodreads)                                            

“Jade City” is a novel spotlighting Greenbones, soldiers that protect the fictional city of Janloon who extract super abilities from Jade (the stone typically found in jewelry), and the struggles of the Kaul family as their country faces war. It is a lengthy read, but it is also packed with action. 

Plot:

The plot of the book is full of spontaneous action and foreshadowed, yet still surprising, plot twists. The story depends heavily on the world-building, which was not a problem because Lee subtly gives out details and descriptions of the society. At other times, she flat-out explains things in paragraphs, but it feels like you are just reading the character’s thoughts. The plot felt dragged out at times, but it really started to come together about midway through the book. The chapters that lacked action were actually building tension between the characters and societies. Overall, it is beautifully written and quite easy to lose yourself in. 

It is important to note that the plot of this book is a little violent. There is killing, descriptions of gore and war between The Kauls and the Mountain Clan (which is the main conflict). Personally, I did not mind it, but for readers sensitive about graphic descriptions, I would not pick this book up. Violence was not the only graphic thing; it also describes a few intimate and sexual scenes. Furthermore, the book has the characters cuss a lot, which helps readers understand some characters’ personalities. I did not quite mind this either, though some may be sensitive to it. This book is directed toward a more mature audience.

Characters:

The book bounces between the perspectives of about five different characters. Four from the Kaul family and one minor character who only gets a couple of chapters. All of their actions correlate to the plot in some way, whether it is carrying out tasks for the Pillar – the king in the country – or participating in full-out street battles. Each character has their own struggles that affect the overall plot and the other characters. At first, it was very difficult to keep track of who was who, since they all go by their last names. Because they are in the same family, I was flipping back through previously read chapters to figure out who the author was talking about. Once I got used to it, the book became easier to follow and much more entertaining. 

Writing Style:

The writing in the book itself is very descriptive and pleasing. It was not challenging for me at all to envision scenes, despite how different their world is from ours. The author uses strong verbs in tense situations and also makes certain scenes feel more easygoing. It really feels like you are there, and at times, I was reading for hours. The book is about 500 pages, which took me a while, but it was certainly worth it. 

“Jade City” is full of action, adventure and conflict. Besides being a little graphic, its story is still engaging and extremely fun to read. Though it was a little long, earning this book a 4/5 stars. 

……

In conclusion, none of these books were bad at all. We enjoyed following each story and watching the characters face obstacles. If you’re interested, you should definitely check them out at the library.

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About the Contributor
Keira Lang, Staff Writer
Pronouns: she/her Grade: 10 Years on staff: 2 What is your favorite piece of literature? "The Cruel Prince" by Holly Black, "Heartless" by Marissa Meyer and "Harry Potter." Who is your hero? Me, myself and I. If you could only eat one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be? Fried Rice.
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