“A Dragon’s Price” by Bethany Wiggins
Crown Books for Young Readers, 304 pages, $17.99, Feb. 2017, Goodreads
- Plot: I really enjoyed the original and unique plot that Bethany Wiggins puts together in this book. It’s not your normal princess gets fed to dragon, girl gets rescued by handsome prince, princess and prince live happily ever after. There is some awesome girl power and team work that go into making this book your not-so-average fairy tale.
- Characterization: The characters of Sorrowlynn and her prince, Golmarr take an unbelievable journey together and it changes both of them for the better. Sorrow learns that there is more to her than meets the eye and Golmarr learns that he would be absolutely okay having a woman who can rescue herself and sometimes him.
- Pacing: The pacing of this story sits just right with me. Because there is a romance that happens here, it could have been very easy to either jump the gun on that or wait too long for the lovers to come together, but Wiggins does it just right.
- Backstory: Wiggins tells parts of the story in flashbacks that Sorrowlynn has once she is touched by magic. However, I find that this was not a very satisfying way to tell the back story and history of the dragon’s ensnarement and any other information the reader needs to know about how our characters got to where they are. If it could have been incorporated some other way that was less odd and made a bit more sense than I could have bought it a little better.
“All the Bright Places” by Jennifer Niven
Knopf Books for Young Readers, 378 pages, $17.99, Jan. 2015, Goodreads
- Message: This book deals with mental illness in teens and I think the way that Jennifer Niven decides to do that with her character Finch is extraordinary. Having suffered with mental illness myself and loving someone with mental illness, the message of this book really hits home and is very important. I think more books need to be about the subject of talking about your illness and being open about it. Niven’s novel shows what happens when society buys into the stigma of the disease and what happens when we don’t talk about it enough.
- Characterization: Niven creates characters that aren’t only inherently flawed, but they are also so damn likeable. I, myself, fell in love with Finch just like Violet did, and the way that Violet deals with her losses in her life are so genuine and gritty you feel her pain. Some characters too, I found dis-likeable because they were supposed to be that way. Niven knows exactly what to do to make you feel a certain way about her characters.
- Pacing: Again another good story with great pacing. The romance is just right, the rising action and resolution is just right. It was one of those books that because of the pacing I didn’t want to put down as soon as I picked it up.
- Points of view: Niven switches between Violet and Finch’s point of view and I think that adds to the message she conveys with her novel. When I was experiencing the story from Violet I was very in the dark about Finch’s motivation, but once I was in Finch’s head it all made sense.
The bad: There really wasn’t anything I didn’t like.
“The Beast is an Animal” by Peternelle van Arsdale
Margaret K. McElderberry Books, 352 pages, $17.99, Feb. 2017, Goodreads
- Style: Arsdale has a knack for prose that is not only easy on the eyes, but soft and pleasing to the ears.
- Message: Again another novel with a great message. This one is that just because something is different doesn’t make it wrong or bad and that sometimes things that seem good are really bad in disguised.
- Character: Primarily I had a problem understanding the main character Alys. I wasn’t sure what she wanted and even though I was told later in the novel it felt like I was viewing her motivation through a fog.
- Pacing: The romance aspect of this narrative moved a bit too quick for me, making the power of the love between the two characters unbelievable to me.
- Back story: You’re given a back story at the beginning of the novel, but just like Alys’ motivation I felt like I was viewing it through a fog. Maybe I’m dumb, but I think I just needed some aspects explained to me.
- Ending: Again I didn’t quite understand the resolution. It didn’t make sense to me.
“A Thousand Nights” and “Spindle” by E. K. Johnston
Disney Hyperion; 328 pages, 355 pages; $18.99; Oct. 2015, Dec. 2016; Goodreads
- Retelling: These two novels are retellings of two classic fairy tales: “A Thousand and One Nights” and “Sleeping Beauty,” but with a Middle Eastern culture fix, which I loved. Having these stories told anew made them so much more appealing to me and I ate every page up.
- Pacing: Again both these novels had great pacing, especially in the romantic aspects. In the first book, the pacing of the stories that the narrator tells to help keep her alive are alive themselves. It gives the whole book that oral storytelling feel to it. The second book deals with a long journey and those can sometimes be written as long, but Johnston told enough detail to awake my sense and then moved on to the important action that takes place.
- Style: Like I mentioned early, the first book has a style of the oral storytelling. The second one takes a whole different approach by being told by a male main character giving me, as a reader, a different perspective letting each book stand alone while also being part of the same series.
- Characterization: All these characters are amazing, especially in “Spindle” where there are multiple young characters that need to be defined. I felt like I knew each of them, not only as a group but individually.
- Series connection: I understood the connection between the two stories and saw where the second fell in relation to the first, but I wish it was a bit more spelled out for me.
See below for links to each author’s Goodreads, Twitter, and Instagram.
- Twitters: @WiggB
- Instagram: @author_bethany_wiggins
- Twitter: @jenniferniven
- Instagram: @jenniferniven
Peternelle van Arsdale:
- Twitter: @peternelleva
- Instagram: @peternellevanarsdale
E. K. Johnston:
- Twitter: @ek_johnston
- Instagram: @ek_johnston