Review: Incinerator by Niall Leonard

IncineratorSource: Random House Kids/Delacorte Press – I received this in exchange for an honest review.
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Series: Crusher #2 (Companion Novel)
Edition: Hardcover, 384 Pages
Genre: Young Adult Mystery Thriller
Purchase:  Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Book Depository*
*I receive a small monetary kickback from Amazon purchases
Rating: 3/5

Incinerator is the sequel to Niall Leonard’s debut YA novel,Crusher.
     London ganglord The Guvnor is in hiding, and Finn Maguire has begun a new life running a boxing gym with his old friend and coach Delroy. But when Finn’s lawyer Nicky Hale vanishes overnight with all his money, Finn finds himself in hock to a loan shark with a vicious gang of enforcers. Desperate to track down Nicky and repay his debts, Finn investigates her other clients and soon finds himself engulfed in a web of lies, betrayal, malice and madness.

So I know the blurb says that this is a sequel, but the paper I received said it was a companion novel as does the back of the book…so I read it without reading the first book. I can say that is not necessary to have read Crusher beforehand as I didn’t feel lost and everything is recapped for the most part without giving away too much of the previous story.

Incinerator follows Finn Maguire as he begins to make his life into something. He now has a gym of his own where his former boxing coach is his partner and closest friend. However things don’t stay positive for long as a loan shark starts to lay pressure on Delroy and Finn, and his lawyer goes missing with all of his money. Overall the story had the makings of a great thriller, but fell a little short of that mark. The plot is fairly fast pace and aided with the rather large font size I zipped through this in about 5 hours. The mystery wasn’t too hard to figure out but the plot threw in some interesting twists that made the process fairly enjoyable.

Finn had me a bit confused because I didn’t really know what to feel about him. He’s definitely efficient and it’s always nice to have a main character who can handle himself in a sticky situation…but I don’t really feel like I know him. He likes fighting, he has an interest in Nicky, and…I don’t know. His personality didn’t shine through and being that this is a first  person novel I was really disappointed that the voice of the character was slightly generic. I was impressed with his ability to get to the bottom of things but I was more surprised that he was only arrested like twice…seriously….

Overall it’s a pretty decent mystery/thriller and it’s certainly a very quick read, however I’m not sure I’ll check out the companion novel.

3 star

 

Review: The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson

The Girl of Fire and ThornsSource: Purchased
Publisher: Greenwillow
Series: Fire and Thorns #1
Edition: Hardcover, 423 Pages
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Purchase:AmazonBarnes & Noble / Book Depository *
*I receive a small monetary kickback from Amazon purchases
Rating:
 3.5/5

Once a century, one person is chosen for greatness.
Elisa is the chosen one.

But she is also the younger of two princesses, the one who has never done anything remarkable. She can’t see how she ever will.

Now, on her sixteenth birthday, she has become the secret wife of a handsome and worldly king—a king whose country is in turmoil. A king who needs the chosen one, not a failure of a princess.

And he’s not the only one who seeks her. Savage enemies seething with dark magic are hunting her. A daring, determined revolutionary thinks she could be his people’s savior. And he looks at her in a way that no man has ever looked at her before. Soon it is not just her life, but her very heart that is at stake.

Elisa could be everything to those who need her most. If the prophecy is fulfilled. If she finds the power deep within herself. If she doesn’t die young.

Most of the chosen do.

The Girl of Fire and Thorns was one of my more anticipated YA fantasy novels. The hype for this series is massive and almost every review I’ve seen has been almost glowingly positive, unfortunately I don’t think mine will be. In short I enjoyed the overall fantasy and political intrigue, but lagged through much of the books.

The world-building for The Girl of Fire and Thorns is one of the things I really enjoyed. The landscapes and language is different than other fantasy novels and I loved that the land was rich with it’s own history, religion, and people. However I came to tire of religious aspect as it became a very big part of the story. I’m not big on religious feeling books but most of the time fictional religions, even those reverent in nature, don’t bother me. However it felt like I was being preached at, which I’m not fond of in general, but when it’s a religion that only exists between the covers of the book I get really irritated. The religion does lend some rather interesting new ideas, like the Godstone, and I did like seeing Elisa’s journey in becoming the one chosen by her god to change the world. The way Elisa plotted and planned for war and intrigue was fascinating and as the conflict built up I progressively became more interested. Unfortunately most of that occurs in the last third of the book.

Elisa has a lot of pros and cons as a main character. I was initially very excited to see a main character who isn’t the typical thin or athletic girl. She likes to eat and she doesn’t really like doing physical activities, so she’s clearly a girl after my own heart. BUT, she is incredibly negative…and it went beyond low self esteem. It honestly felt like negativity for the sake of negativity. She’s very down on herself about her weight and she feels shame when she eats large portions, but at no point does she attempt to stop doing the thing that causes her such shame…in fact there are moments where she does it in spite of the looks and giggles aimed at her. You can’t be ashamed of an activity only to wear it as a shield two seconds later. So I was somewhat relieved and disappointed when she loses some weight and becomes a bit more fit. I understand the necessity of her loosing weight and I even understand the bolster in confidence, but I was disappointed that no one (not even Elisa herself) bothered to make her feel like a normal person. And if they did have a high opinion of her most of them kept it to themselves until after her change in appearance.

I did like her friendship and budding relationship with Humberto, who was by far the sweetest person in the book. He was incredibly kind to her from the moment her met her onward, and to me he was probably one of the best side characters. Cosme was a great addition with her multifaceted skills and seemingly cold exterior.

I’m glad I stuck with the book instead of giving up like I wanted to around the 30% as it did get better and the overall conclusion was very satisfying. I see that Elisa has grown more confident in herself so I’m not worried about that aspect moving into the second book, I’m hoping that book two improves on some of the things that bothered me.

3.5 stars