Holy Sister by Mark Lawrence | Book Review

★★★★☆
January 18th – 20th

I put off reading the finale to this series for a very long time. Most of that was because I didn’t want the series to end, but I was also very apprehensive about how I would feel about the ending. From a few reviews I read, people felt just okay, and that concerned me. The first book was such an unexpected surprise, and after feeling like the second book was building up to something large, I couldn’t help but be scared that it would all be for nothing.

I liked this ending a lot. Mark Lawrence set up a lot of questions to be answered, most of which I won’t go into here for spoiler reasons. Seventy pages from the end, I was concerned about the ending. I was afraid of my favorite characters not making it, my favorite plot points going unanswered, and my favorite locations getting burned to the ground. Only some of those things happened.

I have to commend Lawrence for his attention to detail in this series. This is one of the rare cases where I couldn’t find myself wondering why a character didn’t do x thing which seemed slightly more obvious to me. I was constantly surprised by the setup and payoff that he was able to produce, and he’s a master at hinting at things in the beginning which will be needed at the end.

Following the events of the second book, as well as the novella, Nona Grey is back at Sweet Mercy, finishing up her training. This book bounces between present day and three years earlier, when Nona and Zole were escaping from the final events of the previous book. I liked the chance in pace between the two, and the time jumps were crafted so that the lessons learned in each were relevant to the other without it feeling forced.

My favorite part of all three books has always been the combination of the setting and the relationships, and this book was no different. The world building in this series is some of my favorite that I’ve ever read, and I loved seeing Nona’s friendships and what they mean to her grow and continue to expand over the course of the three books. I think that Mark Lawrence did a great job writing a character who grows and changes and becomes an adult from a young kid. It’s also great to see that type of growth in a very dark setting.

I think that for people who were invested in the romantic side of the relationships, this book may have been a slight letdown. Romance is always my least favorite part of books, so I was more than okay with the way the book ended on that front. I honestly wish more books would have hints of romance in the background without feeling the need to pull it into the main plot of the story.

That’s a whole other topic that I won’t get into though.

Overall, I would definitely recommend this series to anyone who likes fantasy and science fiction, and who likes combat and a bit of magic.

I was really excited to learn that Abeth, the planet that the Book of the Ancestor series takes place on, is being returned to in Mark Lawrence’s next series, Book of the Ice. the first book comes out in April. I’m excited to see where that series takes place, and what else Mark Lawrence has in store for me. There are three other series of his which I can also check out in the meantime.

-Siobhan

Come Tumbling Down by Seanan McGuire | Book Review

★★★☆☆
January 12th – 15th

I was so excited for this book. This is the fifth installment in the Wayward Children series, and seems to be a direct sequel to the third and first books (which I didn’t like) containing the characters from the second book (which are my favorites). I’m I’m unfortunately finding a pattern with this series that I only like every other book, which isn’t fun.

Luckily, they’re short enough that I can get through them, but we’ll get into what’s actually happening here.

Following the events of the first book, Jack and Jill return to the Moors. At the start of this book, we see Jack return, passed out in the arms of Alexis, her reanimated girlfriend. But Jack doesn’t seem to be fully Jack. Instead, she’s in Jill’s body.

Part of my problem with this book is that it had a quest storyline, similar to the third book, that takes place in one of the worlds. While the quests sound fun in theory, there just isn’t enough time to flesh out the stakes and consequences, and as a result there are no stakes or consequences. The people she brings along to help her don’t even end up helping her, as she does all of the work themselves. The most they do is act against her and make it more difficult for her to continue. Even the culmination of the book, the final battle which will help Jack get her body back, is wrapped up within a few pages.

This book also contains characters I find very hard to deal with, and McGuire’s style of bouncing around to what each character is feeling can be hard to follow. The characters repeat themselves, or justify their actions verbally, because there isn’t enough time for their character arcs to do it for them. In addition, we’re constantly met with “back when she saved her world” or “when he defeated the monster in his own world”, and it feels a lot like we’ve missed out on some really fun adventure stories and are stuck.

At the end of the book, we barely get a reaction from the characters once they’ve returned to the school. Cora especially, who you actually saw struggle with being in another world and returning, doesn’t even say or do anything at the end, and we’re left to wonder if she’s going to be okay mentally after the toll The Moors took on her.

My favorite of these books have been the second and fourth books, which concentrated on one character finding their doors and going into their world. McGuire seems to do better with a smaller scope, and I hope she’ll give us more of these prequel stories in the future, as the quest storylines at the school aren’t doing it for me.

-Siobhan

Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi | Book Series Review

★★★★☆
May 21st

I don’t know a lot about “modern” history. Anything after World War II and I’m totally lost. I’m not typically one for politics or war or revolution. I especially don’t know a lot about Iran. It’s something that I’m working to try and learn about. This series was fascinating to me. Satrapi’s history is complex and important, and is filled with the types of struggles I’m so lucky to have never come across in my life.

Persepolis is an autobiographical graphic novel which follows Marjane Satrapi’s life growing up in Iran at the beginning of the Iranian Revolution, her time living in Austria during the Iran/Iraq war, and then her return to Iran following the war after high school. The style is simple and compliments the story well. It reminded me a lot of Maus in tone: somber but hopeful for the future.

I cannot fathom what it was like for her to live through bombing raids. I can’t imagine living abroad while your family and friends are still at home. I can’t imagine being forced to wear clothes that you don’t want to wear, or say things you don’t want to say. There’s so much in this graphic novel that’s put into perspective that it’s astounding. This graphic novel was tough to read at times, but was really important.

Even now, I’m having trouble finding the words to say how important I think this was, because it feels like everything I have to say pales in comparison. These are powerful volumes, and I really think that more people should read this series. I’m definitely glad that I did.

-Siobhan