YA Sci Fi / Fantasy Round-up

So I’ve read a lot of YA sci fi or fantasy books lately – as has most of the world – and I had the best of intentions about writing a great blog post for each one. That clearly didn’t happen, so I’ve decided the best approach is to write a short and sweet YA Round-up.

Since this is the By It’s Cover blog, I’ll be sharing a grade for the book cover as well as the originality of the “world” and my overall grade for the book. So here we go (if you want to skip to a particular review, just click on the title below).


never fade Never Fade by Alexandra Bracken

        • Book Cover: B / The compass on a fractured background is striking, but it really tells us nothing about the book and is not particularly unique.
        • Originality: B / This is the second book in the series, so we’ve already seen the world where kids have dark powers. There’s some interesting plot points with various conspiracies concerning the Children’s League and East River, but the main focus is for Ruby to protect her loved ones as best she can. So lots of drama, but minimal action.
        • Overall Grade: B / It was well written with a solid character and plot, but sadly, unmemorable.

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School for good The School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani

        • Book Cover: B / It’s a very pretty cover, but a bit too childish and manga for my taste.
        • Originality: A / Chainani takes the traditional ideas of fairytale good and evil and builds an exciting, unique new world out of our stereotypes. Agatha and Sophie’s relationship was interesting and more complex than you thought, plus there were exciting reverses to the ideas of good and evil in the story.
        • Overall Grade: A- / It’s a unique world with fun, recognizable fairytale elements. I love the idea that you don’t need a prince, that friendship comes first; but the ending just seemed too rushed.

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Snakeroot Snakeroot by Andrea Cremer

        • Book Cover: A / The dark purple colors are very exciting, there’s a beautiful model representing Adne and there’s some interesting features (check out the blood dripping from the E) that you don’t notice until you look multiple times.
        • Originality: B / I loved the original world that Cremer created in Nightshade and Rift gave a brilliant explanation for the emergence of the world, but this entry relied too heavily on the interesting ideas we’ve already seen. You want things to work out for Adne and Renier, but the plot just seems very contrived. Logan is a definitely too forced as the evil mastermind.
        • Overall Grade: B+ / It’s exciting to think there’s another book that brings us back to the Nightshade characters, but the plot could be better.

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starsThese Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner

        • Book Cover: A+ / Honestly, the cover is ridiculous, but it’s so gorgeous with the stars and dress. Plus they get the “never let go” Titanic reference in too.
        • Originality: B+ / The premise of Lilac and Tarver’s romance is very stereotypical as is their character progression.  Things do take an interesting, albeit weird turn, when they learn more about the whispers. Then (I’ll avoid a spoiler), after the explosion, things get even weirder – not sure I buy in.
        • Overall Grade: A- / It’s a nice romance with a splash of sci fi, worth reading, but I’m particularly disappointed that Book 2 is in the same world without the same characters.

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Monument Monument 14 by Emmy Laybourne

        • Book Cover: A- / Very dark and dramatic, though it makes me think more of an apocalypse novel than the more sci fi type one that it is.
        • Originality: A / I think it’s an interesting idea that when a man-made disaster strikes, your reaction can be determined to such a large degree by your blood type. In addition to a good premise, the kids actually behave realistically – there’s a lot of confusion, romance, fun and fear.
        • Overall Grade: A / Excellent read with lots of endearing characters. This is what I would expect to happen if the disaster ever occurred in the real world.

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Ignite Ignite Me by Tahereh Mafi

        • Book Cover:  A- / Very pretty and, literally, eye catching, but a little too pretty considering the dark powers in the book.
        • Originality: A+ / Mafi created an interesting world where young people had to become adults and they have very exciting powers that are complimentary and clearly categorized. Plus, I loved seeing the progression of Juliette’s character and especially how third-leg-of-the-love-triangle Warner evolved and gained countless levels of complexity.
        • Overall Grade: A / It’s a fast-paced, incredibly enjoyable conclusion to the Shatter Me trilogy.

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warrior Warrior by Ellen Oh

        • Book Cover: B+ / The colors are bright and eye catching, but the sword is a bit cartoonish.
        • Originality: B+ / Kira now has to find treasures to fulfill the Dragon King’s prophecy – imagine that, a quest. At least that’s balanced out by a cute, blossoming romance with Jaewon and some interesting new abilities.
        • Overall Grade: B+ / An enjoyable read for anybody who likes a girl that can kick butt, but nothing amazingly original.

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SteelSteelheart by Brandon Sanderson

        • Book Cover: A / Perfect representation for the story – dark, full of steel, apocalyptic.
        • Originality: A+ / The idea of Calamity (a star) turning normal people into Epics (evil superheroes) is a great new turn on an old genre. David is a complex, protagonist that accomplishes the impossible, he has an amazing back up team and I can’t wait to see what happens with love-interest Megan.
        • Overall Grade: A+ / One of the best books I’ve read this year. If you like anything superhero related, you’ll love seeing this new take on the genre.

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poison Poison by Bridget Zinn

        • Book Cover: A+ / The whole tagline of “save the kingdom with a piglet” seems ridiculous, but I finally gave in and purchased the book because the cover is just that gorgeous.
        • Originality: A+ /  I love the idea that Kyra is a potions (poison) master – we rarely see this in YA. Fred is a great love interest and contrast to her and how can you not fall in love with the fact that everything relies on her magical piglet.
        • Overall Grade: A / Very enjoyable, quick read with an endearing and talented protagonist.

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