Updated: May 2, 2021
Long live sci-fi!
Apart from trying to make Marie Lu my favourite author (which did not happen), I completed one of my favourite series, Arc of Scythe by Neal Shusterman. This series is what has led me to take a chance on reading more series, instead of leaning toward stand alone books. I also got my hands on a fantastic memoir by Tegan and Sara Quin, which definitely did not disappoint.
The Toll (Arc of Scythe #3) by Neal Shusterman
The final book in the Scythe series. I was sad to finally conclude this series, but so excited I got to read it.
This third book shows what happens to a post mortal futuristic world when the people in charge fail at being human. What happens when the world has been made perfect, yet humans still suck in general? Build another perfect world with the selective humans you want on it. To be honest, this was my least favourite out of all the series. I mean, I still enjoyed it, but there were a lot of moral messages that sat with me the wrong way.
The Kingdom of Back by Marie Lu
This book explores the childhood of the composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and his sister Maria Anna, and their imaginary world named "The Kingdom of Back". When I read about this book focusing on the perspective of Mozart's big sister (nicknamed Nannerl), I was immediately drawn in, getting excited of all the possibilities that could be explored.
This book took me a while to get into, and for a while I was debating whether to quit reading it. The reasons for this were that it felt a bit too middle-grade for me - like we were just watching two kids who happened to be music prodigies create a world of pretend. But then, the story took on some depth when The Kingdom of Back revealed the true terrors that Nannerl had.
Nannerl is a young woman in the 18th century who doesn't have a lot of options in terms of dreaming. She's been gifted with a musical talent and knows she's really good, but can't really expand her talent beyond a point because of what's expected of a young woman like her in the society she lives in. So all the dreaming and attention falls upon her brother famously known today as Mozart. This book is fiction, but the characters were real. And I can imagine what fears an elder sister might have of being forgotten in the limelight of her charming baby brother.
The anxieties portrayed in this story run true to the weight of some of the fears I had as a child. The burden is so familiar and is terrifying in this story, to the point that Nannerl becomes gravely ill at one time. I like how Lu showcases the imaginary world as a paralyzing nightmare and an enticing dream simultaneously, which is so characteristic of our imaginations.
High School by Tegan Quin and Sara Quin
Rarely do I ever get disappointed whenever I read memoirs. There's just something about getting to know a stranger intimately in a way that's only possible through reading from their past experiences. It's like shadowing their lives as they share them through their writing. That's what this book felt like.
Tegan & Sara are twin sister musicians (check them out, they have some bopping tracks) who are very vocal on LGBTQ rights. This book shares what their lives the last three years of high school were like. It's full of awkwardness, cringe, drama, laughs, crushes and heartbreak, stupid mistakes and stuff you do when in high school, the nagging boredom of teenagehood, and so many relatable feelings that I forgot about until I read this book.
What I loved about this book is how into it I was. It's almost like I was reading about two fictitious characters, because what they chose to write about had so much weight and interested me through every single chapter. The writing is spectacular and super easy to read, with each chapter alternating their different perspectives. They explain their interest with music, although that wasn't the focus of the book, which I appreciated, because I felt there was room to discover each of them separate from the music.
So much of their retelling of high school and the intensity of the friends you have at that point, and the gravity of all the hurt and joy and awkwardness and self consciousness that happens in that stage of your life felt too accurate. They open up about their sexuality and how even at an early age, they would battle with what was right and wrong when it came to identifying with being gay.
Really really loved this book.
Warcross (Warcross #1) by Marie Lu
I've been checking to see where this book has been available for probably over a year now. Mainly because of the intrigue I read in reviews and promos for. it. I was excited to get into a sci-fi read that took me deep in virtual reality, reminiscent of Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. This book is set in a world where a virtual reality known as the NeuroLink is a major part of the lives of everyone. In it is a popular game called Warcross that everyone plays but only very good people are chosen to be on teams in a global tournament. Our main character, Emika Chen, gets chosen for one of the teams after getting caught hacking through the system. This is where I thought the book's premise would end, but no.
Once she gets to the Warcross tournament held in Tokyo, she discovers there's a threat trying to hack through the warcross tournament and cause a potential danger to every NeuroLink user the world over.
This book was super adventure driven, heavy on the virtual reality and gaming elements, and had a cute romance that I was totally there for. It didn't truly captivate me in the way other books with similar themes have. Some parts were a bit to hand-holdy, and the beginning of the book dragged out a bit for me, which made it seem completely detached from the rest of the book.
In general, a fun to read book.
Wildcard (Warcross #2) by Marie Lu
This is the sequel to Warcross by Marie Lu. (Honestly, I think I'm forcing this author to become my favourite author at this point!)
While I enjoyed the world of Warcross, I felt that this book was quite different enough for me to have truly enjoyed it. Something felt missing from this book. Something felt a bit flat. This book deals with the enemy threat to the NeuroLink technology that introduces us to the game of Warcross, and is more about the mystery and fight against this threat.
There is quite a long back story into the who and why, which I appreciated as a change from the regular one-motive bad guy trope, BUT. It was too multifaceted and long that I definitely zoned out more than once. Also, for some reason, Marie Lu feels the need to hold our hands throughout the whole book, over telling us everything that she deems important.
This book got more into the grittiness of the virtual world, which didn't seem as fun for me, compared to the gaming aspect of the first book. I was really struggling to get to the end, and I was getting irritated that the chapters just kept on unfolding after I was worn out by where the story was leading. Honestly, I just wasn't feeling this book. If it wasn't for the small romance scenes and the little amount of gaming that we got, I'd have stopped reading it.