Friday, 27 September 2013

Alex Rider Prequel: Russian Roulette Review

Anthony Horowitz has been one of my favourite authors for the longest time. I've gone through my Riordan and, regretfully, my Stephanie Meyer phases, but I always come back to the author who had written Alex Rider.

I had high hope for this book when I ordered it (it’s released in America on 1 October), and I have to say, this book does not disappoint. I devoured the book in less than two days and just wow.

So what is Russian Roulette? This book is a prequel to the Alex Rider series, though I would recommend reading through the first five books before this one due to spoilers. It’s the life story of the contract killer Yasha (Yassen) Gregorovich from when he was fourteen to when he meets Alex at the end of Stormbreaker. It starts off in third person in the prologue before switching over to first person as Yassen begins to read his diary (which, before you ask, is not written in diary entries).

 This book honestly shocked me. I always knew that Yassen had a rough childhood – I mean, he’s an assassin and clearly not a newbie. But I never realised how bad it was. The book, despite how quickly it moves along, is very descriptive without being over the top. It pulls you into young Yasha’s life (Yasha is Yassen’s real name) and doesn't let you go until the end. The settings are described very well to the point where even if one had never been there, they can picture it almost perfectly in their mind.

The plot itself was brilliant. It’s not often that books make me cry, but this one managed it within the first 25 pages. It was the perfect backstory for Yasha/Yassen, describing the hardships and the pain that he went through to get where he was in Stormbreaker. It explains almost everything about him that one may have wanted to know. As I mentioned earlier, the plot does move along pretty quickly since it’s most of Yasha/Yassen’s life in 400+ pages, but it doesn't detract from any of the details.

The character of Yasha/Yassen was mentioned in the Alex Rider books, but no detail was really gone into it. This book is his spotlight. It explains so much about the character in the books and it has a very developed plot. As a bonus, you also get to meet John Rider, Alex Rider’s father, for the very first time.

Overall, I’d give Russian Roulette a rating 4.5 out of 5. This book easily made my top ten books, with its illustrative details and intricate plot. I would recommend this book to anyone ages 14 and up. Maybe older, depending on their maturity is. A quick warning is that there is a moderate use of drugs, violence, and mentions of torture in this book, so if that makes you uncomfortable or is a trigger for you, you might want to avoid this book. But besides that, I would highly recommend this book to any YA reader who has read the Alex Rider books up through the fifth one, Scorpia.

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones Review

I'm not lying when I said that I was very apprehensive about reading the book City of Bones by Cassandra Clare. It seemed to fall too much into the whole supernatural-romance-Twilight genre and I did not, in any way, want to read yet another one of those. I picked it up eventually after much pestering from my friends, and to my great surprise, I loved it.

The City of Bones is a story about a teenage girl named Clary living in Brookland, New York who seems to be an absolutely normal person until she starts seeing things that her best friend, Simon, can’t – specifically, a murder. Her mother disappears, she finds out she isn't human and is instead a Shadowhunter (Nephilim), and life as she knew it completely changes. The book ends with a twist that unless you've seen the movie or someone has spoiled it for you, leaves you sitting there in shock (or in my case, so frustrated to the point where you nearly threw the book at the wall).

Despite the fact that this book uses a fairly overused plot (I'm now starting to see similarities between the plot summary of CoB and The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan), it’s well executed. This book follows fairly true to the original myths of creatures (or Downworlders, as they’re called in the books), such as vampires, fairies, and werewolves, a nice change from all these Twilight-esque books that are finally falling out of popularity. Vampires in this series can’t go out in the sun and sleep during the day. Werewolves are made up of those infected with Lycanthropy and they change on the full moon. Fairies aren't the innocent creatures that Disney makes them out to be. I was pleasantly surprised when I saw these details in the book, and so I applaud Cassandra for doing her research.

The thing that struck me the most out of this book was the societal aspect of it. This book was written in 2007, right around the time that people started to get riled up about the fact that gays couldn't get married. This is one of the few books that I've read that actually includes gay characters and I couldn't be happier about this (other books include Harry Potter and Perks of Being a Wallflower). Many authors (not naming any names), are insistent in not including characters that have any differing sexualities, so when I came across the characters Alec and Magnus in this book, to say I was surprised is an understatement. And it isn't just that she included the character in the books, but she also included it as a more major part of the Shadowhunter society (or rather, the way that the Clave was very much against gays). Going back to my original statement of society, Cassandra also created a separate society for the Shadowhunters called the Clave, which plays a huge role in this book. It was a very well thought out idea.

Now onto characterisation. The main character, Clary, is a very round, dynamic character. She starts the book as a girl who loved art and didn't always get along with her mum. She ended the book more independent and with a new perspective of the world around her. The downside is that I have seen this exact character before, both in personality (artistic, sassy, and confused all at the same time), as well as her physical description (ginger hair and green eyes). Besides this, mostly all of the main characters go through a deep change somewhere in this book (or in later books, for the sake of Simon and Alec).

Overall, I'd give the book a 4 out of 5 rating. I like the way it was written and I love the characters. The reason why I won't give it a 5 is because I have seen similar characters and a similar plot line before. If it had been just a bit more original, it would have been even better.

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Welcome to my blog!

Hey everyone, and welcome to my new blog! Here I am going to be reviewing books (and occasionally the movie adaptations of books).

Feel free to contact me at if you have any book suggestions or something of the sorts! Expect my first review up in the next day or two.