Mini reviews: Unpopular opinions

So far this year I’ve read 70 books – and written reviews for only a fraction of these. The chances are that I’m never going to get around to writing full reviews for every book I’ve ever read, so I thought I’d group together a few recent reads from the YA fantasy genre and do a post of mini-reviews!

The reason why these ones haven’t yet made it into full reviews is that I didn’t enjoy them enough to recommend them, and I generally don’t like writing full length negative reviews unless I feel really strongly about them.

Judging from reviews of these books I’ve seen on the blogosphere, I get the feeling that my opinions on most of these are going to be unpopular. I know others loved them, but for the most part, these ones just weren’t for me.

I know that some people might ask why I’m writing reviews that are mainly negative. Well, the reviews and the opinions of other bloggers have a big impact on the books I pick up, and there are plenty of books in this genre that I’ve really enjoyed recently because of blogger recommendations.

But I think it’s really helpful to read a range of reviews with different opinions. I mainly saw positive reviews of these books on the blogosphere, but I think if I’d read reviews that were more varied I could have been a bit pickier and chosen books that I personally would have enjoyed more.

Let me know what you think! Did you enjoy/not enjoy any of the books below?
Do you write reviews for every books you read even if you weren’t a fan?How do you feel about writing negative reviews? 

  • Frostblood, Elly Blake

FrostbloodRuby is one of the only Firebloods left in a world of Frostbloods. She’s all alone and bitter and hating because the Frostbloods have ruined her life. She’s also prophesised to be the only one that can save the world from the cruel and wicked king (obviously). The only one who can teach her to use her powers is a Frostblood and her sworn enemy, but despite all the hate and oh so snarky comments they fall in love (obviously). There is of course an arena battle. The love interest also has a secret that is glaringly obvious to anyone who has ever read a YA fantasy book. All in all quite predictable, and I felt like I’d read this book before in different forms – several times. It’s not a bad read, but I didn’t feel it was anything special either.

  • The Hundredth Queen, Emily R. King

The Hundredth QueenAn orphan girl with secret hidden powers is plucked from a crowd and chosen to become the Rajah’s final wife. When she reaches the palace, she has to literally fight in an arena for her right to stay there. She falls in love with a handsome guard but can’t be with him because it’s against the rules, and if you can think of another cliché that I haven’t already listed, it’s probably in there. This book did nothing new in my opinion. It took every YA trope there has ever been and threw them all together in one big boiling pot. It would have been OK if these had been done well, but I didn’t think they were. It just felt like a mash up of other, better stories. I got this one as a free download on Amazon and I can’t help feeling glad I didn’t spend any of my own money on it!

  • The Shadow Queen, C. J. Redwine

The Shadow QueenThe Shadow Queen is a retelling of Snow White, with our heroine Lorelai on a mission to defeat the wicked queen who killed her father and stole her kingdom. To manage this, she needs to learn magic and beat the queen at her own game. I have very little to say about this book. It was OK. It was a good way to kill an afternoon, but I also thought it was a bit predictable. None of the supporting characters or the love interest had anything particularly interesting or different about them, and I can’t actually remember any of their names. I’ve read other retellings that I’ve enjoyed more. It did have a fantastic map at the beginning though that was great for bookstagram. For me, that was probably the highlight.

  • The Star Touched Queen, Roshani Chokshi

Star Touched QueenMaya is cursed with a terrible horoscope and as a result is treated terribly by everyone in her father’s court. At 17 she’s married off for political convenience and becomes queen of a very different court, full of hidden secrets and locked doors. Soon she uncovers a secret ancient mystery in which she has a central role to play. While I liked the setting, the style of this book was a bit too whimsical and all over the place for me. It got too caught up in long descriptive passages and I didn’t think the world building was up to scratch. I also found it hard to follow exactly what was going on. The main characters were forgettable and they constantly made stupid decisions that inevitably led to predictable consequences. While the writing was pretty, I thought it was a bit style over substance.

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‘Prince of Thorns’ by Mark Lawrence

In an empire divided by constant wars, poverty and harsh rulers, a band of outlaws is burning a path through the countryside, destroying everything and everyone in its wake. Their leader is the ruthless and immoral Jorg Ancrath, a royal prince by birth. Far from home, he has amassed his own followers and gained a thirst for power, driven only by anger and a desire for revenge against those that have done him wrong.

Prince of thornsDriven home to his father’s castle, his talents for destruction and violence soon become evident. His father offers nothing but rejection and steely contempt, his pregnant stepmother is threatened by his very presence at court, and the queen’s alluring sister, Katherine, cannot see past his brutal, underhand behaviour. The result is an inevitable family clash that leaves Jorg with two choices, to yield to his father’s iron will or to strike out on his own to conquer a new kingdom.

In Jorg, Lawrence has created a twisted anti-hero. He has no qualms about resorting to murder, rape and torture at the slightest provocation, although it must be said that a lot of his most brutal actions are reported to us second hand.

In spite of this, Jorg has a kind of arrogant charm and wit that gives him the likability factor that he so desperately needs to offset the darkness that often overpowers his character. Throughout the course of the novel, we find out more about his background, and come to understand how the murder of his mother and brother have shaped him into who we meet today. It doesn’t excuse his behaviour, but it does help to round out his character and give him a slightly more human element.

Game of Thrones fans will love this book. It has all the gore and action that you need to keep you gripped. There’s also a supernatural element, as the lines between the living and the dead become more and more blurred.

If there’s one thing I would say, I’d have liked to know a bit more about the world that the book is set in. We’re given no context, although the map at the beginning bears some resemblance to our modern Europe and there are references throughout the text to ancient philosophers. It’s frustrating that we don’t know more about this and it would have helped to really embrace the subtleties of the author’s creation.