Book Review: Perception by Emily Ann Benedict

Perception (Vintage Jane Austen #4)

Rating: 3.5 stars

Age Suggestion: 10+

Plot Synopsis

Upstate New York, 1930. Thirteen years ago, Abbey Evans was persuaded to break off her engagement to a penniless soldier headed to the front lines of the Great War. A daughter of one of America’s wealthiest families could never be allowed to marry so far beneath herself. But Black Tuesday changed everything. With her family’s prominence now little more than a facade, Abbey faces the loss of her childhood home. As if that weren’t enough, the only man she ever loved has returned after making his fortune – and he wants nothing to do with the young woman he courted before the war. With the past forever out of reach, the time has come for Abbey decide her own fate, before it is too late… (from Goodreads)

My Thoughts

I love the idea of retelling Jane Austen stories in more modern time periods, and I recently reread Persuasion itself and remembered how much I loved it, so I was really excited to read this.

I think the fact I had read Persuasion so recently was both a good thing and a bad thing. Part of me enjoyed having the story so fresh in my mind, but the other part of me really wished the retelling had been less straightforward and a little more creative. Because it is an exact retelling, with exactly parallel characters and every exact plot point pulled into the 1930s setting. I was expecting or would have preferred to have an inspired, but not so exactly retold, story, because in this case I always knew what was going to happen next and so throughout the middle I got a little bit bored. Plus, I do think that Jane Austen’s very episodic structure (a lot of barely connected incidents happening throughout the middle of the story and eventually building to a conclusion) doesn’t work quite as well for a modern novel. But that’s just a personal preference. And it was probably my fault for having read the original novel so recently. 

The characters were interpreted quite well, and the author didn’t use the direct retelling as an excuse to get lazy (for the most part – Veronica’s place in the story felt a little underdeveloped). I loved Sam’s added significance – she seemed like a much stronger character in this retelling than in the original novel, from what I remember, although I’ve always liked her. I’ve always liked Charlie’s counterpart in the original book, too, for some reason, and Perception highlighted those likeable characteristics. I also especially thought Robert and Bonnie were translated into the 1930s setting very well and liked reading about them.

I would have liked to see more exploration of some of the themes Austen hints at in the original story. But not all books have to be deep, and this one succeeded at being a light, comfortable story that brought me stress relief and a little bit of joy. Even if it’s not the deepest book in the world, the writing is good (unlike so many “light” novels) and I was able to finish it in a few days.

Content-wise, there is romance, of course, but it’s totally clean. One of the subplots involves a bit of violence, which isn’t graphic, glorified, or overly focused on at all. I would recommend it for ages 10 and up (although I would recommend reading Persuasion itself first, so that might move the age range up a few years).

Overall, while it wasn’t quite the creative retelling I was hoping for, I enjoyed this book a lot. If you’ve read Persuasion, but not too recently (wait a few years and forget some of the plot points), and are looking for something light and quick and clean, then pick this up!

(I received a free electronic copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.)

What do you think? Have you read this? If so, did you like it? Share in the comments below! 

love, grace

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Book Review: Red Queen series by Victoria Aveyard

Image result for red queen glass sword

My Rating: Three Stars

Age Suggestion: 14+

I wasn’t planning to do a review of these books, instead just exploring my general thoughts about them in my post from last Saturday, Writing for Building Up (or, I’m Tired of Depressing Stories).

I didn’t have anything else to post on today, though, and I thought it might be good to put up a separate review of these books since they’re so popular right now.

The Books

Red Queen: The Reds are commoners, ruled by a Silver elite in possession of god-like superpowers. And to Mare Barrow, a seventeen-year-old Red girl from the poverty-stricken Stilts, it seems like nothing will ever change.

That is, until she finds herself working in the Silver Palace. Here, surrounded by the people she hates the most, Mare discovers that, despite her red blood, she possesses a deadly power of her own. One that threatens to destroy the balance of power.

Glass Sword: Mare Barrow’s blood is red—the color of common folk—but her Silver ability, the power to control lightning, has turned her into a weapon that the royal court tries to control. The crown calls her an impossibility, a fake, but as she makes her escape from the prince—the friend—who betrayed her, Mare uncovers something startling: she is not the only one of her kind.

Pursued by a vindictive king, Mare sets out to find and recruit other Red-and-Silver fighters to join in the struggle against her oppressors. But Mare finds herself on a deadly path, at risk of becoming exactly the kind of monster she is trying to defeat.

(from Goodreads with a few edits)

What I Liked 

There are some great supporting characters in these books. I said in my review of Red Queen on Goodreads that I didn’t like Farley, but I got over that fast and she became one of my favorite characters, along with Shade. And my favoritest character of ever that I thought was great and then…*sob* If you want more details about this character and don’t mind spoilers, that’s the spoiler section on my Goodreads review, so you can check that out.

The worldbuilding was very good, I thought, although a map would have been very helpful since by the end of Glass Sword I was very confused about all of the places they were going. But the fact that the world needed a map speaks well about its development and complexity. Also, I felt like we got a lot of information about the culture and setting without any info-dumping, which was nice.

I was pleasantly surprised with the quality of the writing, when compared to a lot of YA I’ve read. It was a bit of a different style, which was nice.

These books gripped me and kept my interest; I got through them much faster than Divergent, which definitely makes me like them better.

And the emotions…not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing. But it’s a thing that happened so I’ll just mention it here.

What I Didn’t Like

I COULD NOT STAND MARE. She was a whiny, entitled, self-centered brat and then wandered around pitifully asking why she always pushed away all of her friends and no one liked her anymore. Hmm…you’re being a brat, so why would they still want to be friends with you? Maybe stop whining and just be a nicer person? And then at the end, she wouldn’t take anyone’s advice, and her internal monologue can be summed up as”I can’t believe they’re saying this to me again, I know it’s right but I’m just going to ignore it anyway and keep acting the same way”. Not a fan.

Ahem.

I really try to be professional in my reviews.

The other thing with Mare is that it took me a while at the beginning of the book to figure out if she was a girl or a boy. It wasn’t obvious. I thought she was a boy, which I didn’t appreciate when I finally realized she was a girl.

The endings of both books. The first one left me shocked and upset, and the second one left me a bit confused. I can’t say more because of spoilers.

Content

These books are not light and fluffy. There is violence, a lot of it, and some pretty disturbing elements too. Torture and murder and superpowers…it isn’t pretty.

As for inappropriate content, there is romance in both books, with some implied stuff especially in the second book, but not really anything super inappropriate, so that was good.

Overall Thoughts

Again, everything I talked about last week applies here. So far, these books don’t really pass the Philippians 4:8 test. It’s a lot of violence and selfish people doing selfish things, which, again, left me emotionally drained and frustrated.

I did like them better than Divergent, hence the three-star rating instead of two, but it’s still a pretty low three stars. I don’t know if I’ll read the final book when it comes out; I would like to, but I won’t be making a huge effort to get a hold of it and I might just forget. We’ll see.

What do you think? Have you read Red Queen and Glass Sword? Did you like them? Did you agree with what I said? Why or why not?

love, grace