Sunday, April 23, 2017

Review: A Darker Shade of Magic

A Darker Shade of Magic (Shades of Magic #1)

by V.E. Schwab
Kell is one of the last travelers--magicians with a rare, coveted ability to travel between parallel universes connected by one magical city.

There's Grey London, dirty and boring, without any magic, and with one mad King--George III. Red London, where life and magic are revered--and where Kell was raised alongside Rhy Maresh, the roguish heir to a flourishing empire. White London--a place where people fight to control magic and the magic fights back, draining the city to its very bones. And once upon a time, there was Black London. But no one speaks of that now.

Officially, Kell is the Red traveler, ambassador of the Maresh empire, carrying the monthly correspondences between the royals of each London. Unofficially, Kell is a smuggler, servicing people willing to pay for even the smallest glimpses of a world they'll never see. It's a defiant hobby with dangerous consequences, which Kell is now seeing firsthand.

Fleeing into Grey London, Kell runs into Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She robs him, saves him from a deadly enemy, and finally forces Kell to spirit her to another world for a proper adventure.

Now perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, they'll first need to stay alive.

Source: Bought

My Thoughts:
I had heard a lot about this book on twitter and I was delighted to grab an ecopy when it was on sale.Though I had bought and started reading the book almost a year back, I couldn't finish it. I finally finished it a month back and I am very glad I did but I'm not sure the book deserved the hype.

Slow Start and Information Dump

The book starts off well but then it stagnates. There is a specific world which the reader is waiting to re-enter. All the incidents leading upto that tried my patience. I wasn't interested in being introduced to a new character and given an info dump at weird places. In my opinion this weird build up was just frustrating and didn't help me form a deep connection with the protagonists.

World Building
The biggest plus of this book, is the world building. The amount of effort the author takes to show and tell the diverse nature of each London , was the only reason I stayed with the novel.The artifacts that fascinate Kell started fascinating me as I truly began to see the world around him through his descriptions.

One of the most fascinating male characters I have read. What makes this book even more fantastic is the fact that I want to know more about him even after seeing his point of view. There are so many mysteries around Kell that you want to unravel. 

I'm generally quite fond of adventurous heroines that have an innate strength. I wasn't fond of Lila though. I found her to be extremely headstrong and very stupid. Even though she is not a damsel in distress, she really reminded me of those characters.She is one of the main protagonists in the book but I really had no interest in reading her point of view. 

Strong second half
The second half of the novel was very interesting but the amount of time it took for the story to build up would not appeal to those who do not want to put in the effort. If you want to read an action packed fantasy, I would suggest you look elsewhere.

Overall, The book has its moments but was extremely boring at the start. If you go in having high expectations you will be disappointed. While I am interested in reading the sequel, it's only because I want to unravel the mysteries surrounding Kell. The reviews of the sequel are extremely positive but I have been burned before so I will wait till the sequels are on sale before getting my hands on them.

My Rating:
Beautiful world building but problems with pacing.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Film Review: Ghost in the Shell {Live action 2017}

Ghost in the Shell (2017 Live Action)
In the near future, Major is the first of her kind: a human who is cyber-enhanced to be a perfect soldier devoted to stopping the world's most dangerous criminals. When terrorism reaches a new level that includes the ability to hack into people's minds and control them, Major is uniquely qualified to stop it. As she prepares to face a new enemy, Major discovers that her life was stolen instead of saved. Now, she will stop at nothing to recover her past while punishing those who did this to her.
Starring: Scarlett JohanssonPilou AsbækTakeshi Kitano

My Thoughts:
I would like to start off with the fact that I have not seen the animated film this is apparently based on. Ghost in the Shell is a very well established franchise in the Japanese anime and manga industry and has a very loyal fan following in the West as well. I have an idea about the characters because I've seen two or three episodes of Ghost in the Shell Stand Alone Complex(SAC). 

The characters in Ghost in the Shell Stand Alone Complex
The characters in the Live Action

This would be an unpopular opinion but I could never get invested in Ghost in the Shell SAC.I watch a lot of anime and I've heard a lot about this series but I could never get past two episodes as I believed it would be an action packed police procedural but the focus was never on the action atleast in what I had watched. When I heard about the live action adaptation, I knew I wanted to watch it. Especially after I saw the first trailer as I assumed that Hollywood would definitely focus more on the action and get the story of the franchise across.

My assumption was right, the first scene of the film itself establishes the fact that Johansson as Major is an ass-kicking bawse and we see constant reminders throughout the film. The film is full of fight scenes and lots of battles which I thought would satisfy me. Unfortunately, I did not understand why these battles were needed . Maybe the director really wanted to keep showing off the Major's invisibility skills so that the CGI budget would be justified.

The film was extremely engaging when it focused on the world building. The scenery and the attention to scenic detail in the film was jaw dropping.I would start paying attention to the background as soon as one of those unnecessary fight scenes used to start.The camera and computer work was excellent.

Beautiful work in world-building 
Johansson being overshadowed by the scenery.
While a lot has already been said about Johansson's casting in a role originally suited for a Japanese woman. In my opinion, the fact that I had already seen so many films in which Johansson had taken on a very similar role didn't let me engage with the film. Her characterization of Major was very similar to that of Lucy (in the film Lucy). I would have loved to have seen more of the captain who speaks in Japanese throughout the film. Takeshi Kitano was perfectly cast and I hope he takes on more roles in Hollywood. 

Takeshi Kitano in the film
The biggest weakness of the film is it's story-line. Various characters and plot points are introduced and then left alone. There was a scene in which a character lost their real eyes and had to get prosthetic replacements, the entire ordeal is brushed aside and mentioned in passing. No effort is put into emoting the pain and suffering of certain characters.This makes it very hard for the audience to care about the characters as well. It is only when morality and humanity is discussed that any character seems to show emotion.

Overall, I loved the world that I was introduced to and am definitely going to give the animated versions of Ghost in the Shell a chance. Despite the weaknesses of the film it made me curious about the source material and I would still go and watch the sequel (if there is any) to see more of the world and characters apart from Johansson's Major. 

My Thoughts:

Beautifully shot film that introduces an intriguing new world.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Review: A Promise of Fire [Adult/Sci-Fi]

A Promise of Fire (Kingmaker Chronicles #1
by Amanda Bouchet

Catalia "Cat" Fisa is a powerful clairvoyant known as the Kingmaker. This smart-mouthed soothsayer has no interest in her powers and would much rather fly under the radar, far from the clutches of her homicidal mother. But when an ambitious warlord captures her, she may not have a choice…

Griffin is intent on bringing peace to his newly conquered realm in the magic-deprived south. When he discovers Cat is the Kingmaker, he abducts her. But Cat will do everything in her power to avoid her dangerous destiny and battle her captor at every turn. Although up for the battle, Griffin would prefer for Cat to help his people willingly, and he's ready to do whatever it takes to coax her…even if that means falling in love with her.

This book is not YA. It is suitable for adults and older readers due to sexual content as well as graphic violence.

My Thoughts:
In case you don't follow me on Goodreads, you might not be aware of my Ilona Andrews obsession. I got addicted to the genre of urban fantasy thanks to them and for a long time kept searching for novels that had an emotionally strong female and did not focus too much on world building (Basically Game of Thrones without the lengthy descriptions and family trees). I like intricate worlds but after a point I want to engage with the characters and not the world.

A Promise of Fire was a nice surprise. It had a strong and sassy heroine with an interesting family tree as well as a lot of political intrigue.According to Goodreads, it is to be a trilogy and the positive effects of this defined end can be seen when the plot progresses quickly and steadily.

I think the weakest link of the story is the alpha male in it. Though Griffin is a sweety, at times he just seems like a caricature when compared to Cat.His family has better character development. 

The book introduces us to an intriguing mythology. The secondary characters are well developed and certain scenes with them make the story almost unforgettable. 

Overall, I thoroughly recommend this book , especially if you're an Ilona Andrews fan or in the search for Percy Jackson for adults or a replacement for Trudi Canavan.

My Rating:


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