Like every reviewer ever, I’ve accumulated a backlog of reviews to write that I’ll probably die before I get to.
Welcome to my first round of mini-reviews!! Hopefully, doing these will help me finally review the books I promised a review for ages ago. And for my first round of mini-reviews, I’m gonna be reviewing three hyped books. Did they live up to the hype? Read on to find out!
The Fever King by Victoria Lee
In the former United States, sixteen-year-old Noam Álvaro wakes up in a hospital bed, the sole survivor of the viral magic that killed his family and made him a technopath. His ability to control technology attracts the attention of the minister of defense and thrusts him into the magical elite of the nation of Carolinia.
The son of undocumented immigrants, Noam has spent his life fighting for the rights of refugees fleeing magical outbreaks—refugees Carolinia routinely deports with vicious efficiency. Sensing a way to make change, Noam accepts the minister’s offer to teach him the science behind his magic, secretly planning to use it against the government. But then he meets the minister’s son—cruel, dangerous, and achingly beautiful—and the way forward becomes less clear.
Caught between his purpose and his heart, Noam must decide who he can trust and how far he’s willing to go in pursuit of the greater good.
I loved Noam so much because he’s so real. He doesn’t really fit the “main character mold” that a lot of YA protagonists do. Sure, he has dead parents and newfound powers, but he’s way more than that. He’s a person with genuine desires, insecurities, and fears, and I wouldn’t be surprised if someone like him existed in the real world. And like Noam, The Fever King is so real. It read like a snapshot of the characters’ everyday lives. And I know that that’s what a book is, but what I mean is that it felt like I was reading about a real-life event, fantasy and sci-fi elements not withstanding.
Dara Shirazi is my son, and I love him with all my heart and soul. Noam and Dara’s relationship was the slow-burn enemies-to-lovers romance of my dreams. Also, Lehrer is now one of my favorite villains ever. He’s one of those villains that are subtly terrifying. And the fact that he parallels Noam in so many ways doesn’t help. (If you’re a sucker for villain/hero dynamics, then you have to read this book.)
Overall, The Fever King‘s subject matter definitely isn’t for the faint of heart—it tackles hard-hitting issues, like intergenerational trauma, immigrants’ rights, and more, but it did so in such a raw manner that I couldn’t help but love it. Also let me reiterate that I love Noam and Dara—both as individuals and as a couple—so much.
CW: violence, intergenerational trauma/genocide, immigration, abuse, parental death, death of a child, mental health and suicide, slut-shaming, ableist language, drug and alcohol abuse, emetophobia [Click here for more details.]
Rep: biracial (Latinx, white) bisexual Jewish protagonist, gay dark-skinned POC Jewish love interest, queer Jewish major character, all-queer cast
Vicious by V.E. Schwab
A masterful tale of ambition, jealousy, desire, and superpowers.
Victor and Eli started out as college roommates—brilliant, arrogant, lonely boys who recognized the same sharpness and ambition in each other. In their senior year, a shared research interest in adrenaline, near-death experiences, and seemingly supernatural events reveals an intriguing possibility: that under the right conditions, someone could develop extraordinary abilities. But when their thesis moves from the academic to the experimental, things go horribly wrong.
Ten years later, Victor breaks out of prison, determined to catch up to his old friend (now foe), aided by a young girl whose reserved nature obscures a stunning ability. Meanwhile, Eli is on a mission to eradicate every other super-powered person that he can find—aside from his sidekick, an enigmatic woman with an unbreakable will. Armed with terrible power on both sides, driven by the memory of betrayal and loss, the archnemeses have set a course for revenge—but who will be left alive at the end?
Vicious has skyrocketed to my favorite books of all time list. I just.. love everything about it. Also, someone tell me why I haven’t read more from Victoria Schwab yet.* I know that some people don’t vibe with her style, but I’m one of the many people who do.
*I do think that it’s because Our Dark Duet was such a disappointing finale. I’m still salty about how it let me down, and that’s why I’m a little hesitant to pick up Vengeful.
The writing is spectacular. It gives off this ~dark and mysterious~ vibe that is a perfect fit for the story. Also, this book has the best take on alternating timelines that I’ve read to date. In Vicious, the incorporation of alternating timelines was masterfully—and I mean masterfully—done. It enhanced my reading experience tenfold.
And the themes!! We love stories that explore the blurry line between good and evil. Some books claim to follow “the villain,” but in reality, their main characters are simply morally ambiguous. This wasn’t the case with Vicious. If it were written any other way, Victor Vale would definitely be the villain, and Eli Ever would be the hero.
Speaking of Victor Vale, can I just say that I love and respect him with my whole heart? I know he’s a bad person and all, but is that gonna stop me from stanning him? No. Also, Sydney is the coolest twelve-year-old ever. I love how she basically forced Victor to become her father, because same.
I would also die for Mitchell Turner. Mitch is a big guy with tattoos, so everyone around him immediately assumes that he’s a dumb and good-for-nothing thug, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. He is one of the smartest and most un-problematic characters in this story, who just wants to drink his chocolate milk IN PEACE.
Also, can we talk about how cool the concept of EOs is? I need to die and become one ASAP.
CW: suicide, overdosing, self-harm, drug use, murder, animal death, abandonment, panic attacks
The Queen of Nothing by Holly Black
(Take note that this synopsis contains spoilers for the previous books in the series.)
He will be destruction of the crown and the ruination of the throne.
Power is much easier to acquire than it is to hold onto. Jude learned this lesson when she released her control over the wicked king, Cardan, in exchange for immeasurable power.
Now as the exiled mortal Queen of Faerie, Jude is powerless and left reeling from Cardan’s betrayal. She bides her time determined to reclaim everything he took from her. Opportunity arrives in the form of her deceptive twin sister, Taryn, whose mortal life is in peril.
Jude must risk venturing back into the treacherous Faerie Court, and confront her lingering feelings for Cardan, if she wishes to save her sister. But Elfhame is not as she left it. War is brewing. As Jude slips deep within enemy lines she becomes ensnared in the conflict’s bloody politics.
And, when a dormant yet powerful curse is unleashed, panic spreads throughout the land, forcing her to choose between her ambition and her humanity…
Before I start this review, let me take you through my history with The Folk of the Air trilogy. I’m not sure if I’ve ever divulged this fact on my blog before, but The Cruel Prince is the reason why I have this book blog today.
I was taking a “hiatus” from reading and keeping up with the book community at the time that I read it, so having been blissfully unaware of the mixed reviews it got, I thought that it was the best book in the entire world back then. Reading it led me to make a new Goodreads account, and from there I discovered book blogs, decided to start one, and now we’re here.
I wouldn’t consider The Cruel Prince as a favorite book now, but it’s funny to think that this book blog (which has become my child of sorts) would not exist if I hadn’t read it.
After I read TCP, I was literally dying for TWK. I was so jealous of everyone who had gotten an arc. The early rave reviews for it made my expectations climb to impossible heights, and that ultimately damaged my reading experience with the second book. To this day, I don’t know what to feel about it.
My prior experiences with this book series have affected my view of its finale, so please take this review with a grain of salt. I honestly think that if you love this series, QoN will be perfect for you. But for me, it was just okay. It wasn’t bad, but I didn’t love it either.
One good thing that I can say about this trilogy is that it’s incredibly easy to read. Holly Black’s writing is a little on the simplistic side, so these books are super easy to fly through. I’d recommend them to anyone in a reading slump or who’s in the mood to binge read books, because combined with their short length and trashy-ness, you’d probably finish them in under a week.
The beginning of QoN was amazing for me. I loved seeing Jude in the position she was in (trying not to be spoiler-y here). But.. the rest of the plot was lackluster. The first two books in this series were so twisty, but none of the plot points in this book were particularly unexpected. And I found the only “twist” funny, and not in a good way.
I loved Judecardan in TCP because of how raw their sexual tension was, and some scenes in this book did call to mind that angst, but for the most part, I was disappointed. I’m not gonna say that Jude and Cardan acted out of character, because they didn’t. But I wanted their changes in character to be less abrupt, because it felt like their relationship did a complete 180. Also, the explanation for what happened at the end of TWK was so underwhelming.
I wish I had strong opinions about this series and its characters like everyone else in the book community does, but I don’t. Overall, I’m happy that I read and finished this series, because… it makes me feel in on the hype lmao. Otherwise, this series isn’t a fave. At least I don’t hate it with a burning passion?
CW: death, murder, war themes, gore, blood depiction, talk of cannibalism, torture
Rep: side f/f relationship, wlw dark-skinned PoC side character
I hope you enjoyed these mini-reviews! I’m happy that two of these hyped books lived up to my expectations! As for The Queen of Nothing, it was a tiny bit disappointing, but I’m glad I read it nonetheless.