Friday, 12 February 2016

Review: Glass Sword

Rating: 5/5
Buy or Borrow: Buy (WARNING: Extreme Feels)
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher, Orion!

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 Maven, the prince—the friend—who betrayed her, Mare uncovers something startling: she is not the only one of her kind.

Pursued by Maven, now 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. 

Will she shatter under the weight of the lives that are the cost of rebellion? Or have treachery and betrayal hardened her forever?

"I want to make his bones sing with lightning until he can't even scream." 

It's taken me a while to start actually writing this review, I'm writing this right after finishing reading the book and I kind of kept going to type and then kept stopping because how the hell do I begin to review this book? How do I start it when it's completely broken me. Like I'm not sure this is even a book hangover, like it's got to be something worse! I'm assuming if you're reading this then you have, in fact, read Red Queen, so you're already aware of the authors mind blowing plot twists, and the pain she inflicts on us with a few simple words. Yeah. Good times Maven. Well this is a million times worse! I knew the book was going to be shocking and it was going to hurt my feels but I had no idea how much. This is going to be a spoiler free review, because I hate spoilers and also because even if I wanted to talk about spoilery things, my brain can't handle reliving things right now! I'm deceptively calm actually, probably because the book has emotionally drained me! 

Red Queen was a stand out book for me last year, I completely loved it. It was original, it got my heart racing and it hooked me entirely. Not to mention the mind blowing plot twists, and the cliffhanger ending! I fell in love with the book and I've been anxiously awaiting Glass Sword. I actually was lucky enough to get a proof, I had to work up the stones to actually start reading it because before people started tweeting about I knew it was going to be an emotional ride! 

Red Queen is still firmly imprinted on my brain, I can vividly remember every single thing of importance, and most things not so important, that happen in it. The book really stuck with me, especially the ending and so I eagerly dived in to Glass Sword. Glass Sword picks up smoothly right after Red Queen, you're straight back in to the story, thrown back in to the world like you'd never been away. The world of the book immediately springs up around you, enclosing you, and you can vividly picture each setting. You can practically hear the train, and no I'm not confused with the real life trains going past my house. The thing that stands out as you start reading is the tension. You can feel it immediately like a tangible thing, and it sticks with you throughout the entire book, almost like a character itself. 

Glass Sword is action packed from the start, and it has some pretty epic, badass fight scenes in it that have you on the edge of your seat, with your heart racing just as much as the scenes with Cal and Mare have your heart going. This book has an interesting pace, a hell of a lot happens over the course of the book and I would say the book is fast paced, because I raced through it, not being able to turn pages fast enough. Even at the beginning, we go from all action to a few calmer bits with the wilder, action filled scenes breaking them up. I got completely lost in the book and what was going on, and each fight scene was so vivid and real and the entire book is so damn cinematic, don't get me wrong. But the fight scenes? I could picture them playing out on a big screen, just saying. With epic music and everything. 

"Kneel or bleed."

The world of the book is just as original as ever, a blend of fantasy and dystopia that's made more clear in this book with the mentions and descriptions of ruins. It's a very rich world, and there's still more about it that I'd like to know. In Red Queen we saw a small section of what I was sure was an expansive world, and I wasn't wrong. The world of the book is completely fascinating and in this book we get to see more of this ridiculously intriguing world. We see sections of the world further out where things are different and a different city just for starters. I was so excited to travel to new parts of the world that Mare inhabits and I'm excited to see how much more of it we'll see. You see, in this book far off lands are not only hinted at, but you get to see some of the people from them. There's some surprises in store with it as well, but I was so damn fascinated to see just people from these other kingdoms, and get a feel for the kingdoms through the people. Let's just say my wish from my review of Red Queen was answered, sort of. I got to see the people at least! I also had a question answered, because not everything is as it seems, it would appear! I was blown away by some revelations regarding other kingdoms and now have a burning desire to travel to them! 

While Mare is not at court anymore in this book, obviously, there are still some intricate politics going on. I loved how politically intricate the first book was and how Aveyard gave us maximum information (about the world as well) concisely so you could understand without reading pages and pages of information. In this book there's still a lot of politics going on, it's just in a different situation, with different people who are different to deal with. I enjoyed watching it all play out as Mare is trying to navigate various new situations that she finds herself in, and it looks like there might be an interesting political alliance coming Mare's way, I liked how she handled dealing with that in particular! Although I do have a feeling it might come back to bite her on the ass! 

"Maven will be so disappointed if the ocean kills me before he can"

Glass Sword, much like Red Queen, pulls you in from page one and holds on to you for the entire book, even when you want to look away because you know something really bad is going to happen! That's due not only to the action, but to the writing. The author gives us beautiful descriptions, she gives us humour to counter the heartbreak and dark moments. She also gives us a fantastically complex and intricate plot with threads coming from every direction to weave in to one big plot, that in turn joins the over arcing plot of the books collectively. I found myself in awe at all the threads I picked out, coming together seamlessly. All the little intricacies and the detail to the story without overburdening it and making it hard to read. Not to mention the previously mentioned pace that keeps us moving through the different and vivid settings. 

Things are a lot bigger than we thought at the end of Red Queen and it's not long before that becomes apparent in the first OMG twist of the book. There's a couple of threads woven in that don't come to fruition in this book, but that I'm expecting to b resolved/come to light/whatever word choice you want (it's 1am and I'm still shell shocked okay) in the next book, and I'm so incredibly intrigued by them. Not only because of how it'll effect things over all but because of all the new and exciting things to see and learn about. Like I said, the world of the book is one that provides me with endless fascination and an urge to learn more about. 

I also need to mention how awesome Aveyard is at describing each and every scene. Like I've already said her descriptions are beautiful, but at the same time she can bring a setting to life with just a few words. She doesn't need an entire paragraph or pages to let you picture a setting she can do it concisely and give you maximum impact. I love how vividly each setting is brought to life, the Notch, the Blackrun and so on. I felt like I was sprinting over cobbled streets with Mare, soaring over everything in the Blackrun, I stomach dropped right along with everyone else when the thing happens to the Blackrun towards the end. Like I was there. Each setting has it's own atmosphere which brings them to life all the more. Not to mention the different intricacies of each setting, different gangs and their hierarchy for instance, in one setting in particular. 

With a brilliantly written and complex plot, comes plot twists. Ah. The twists. Now we all thought it couldn't get worse after Red Queen right? We where wrong. So wrong. There are so many twists in this book that come out of left field, you don't see them coming and they hit you like a freight train. Not only emotionally but also with the weight of the consequences behind them, and the implications. Don't get me wrong, there are some things you'll guess, and the things you guess at aren't any less shocking or painful. However, I have a deep suspicion that the ones we can guess...we are MEANT to guess. Kinda to throw us off so one the big ones come we're devastated. I have such believe in Victoria Aveyard and her writing, that I see these guessable moments/twists, and I really, really think they're there for us to guess at, she knows we'll guess them. 

"I'm starting to think you like prisons, and that you have terrible taste in men"

 Oh Mare, my poor, poor Mare. I connected with her immediately in Red Queen and had no trouble reconnecting with her in Glass Sword. Like I've said before, she's the type of main character I love, with the snark and how badass she is. I found it easy to empathise with her in Red Queen because of how she felt and what things where like with her and her family and how they treated her and so on. That wasn't really as present in this book, as she's okay with her family now but I was so connected to Mare, I could practically slip in to her skin. Just because things are different with her and her family, doesn't mean I couldn't empathise with her. Mare has been through a lot in Red Queen and she goes through a lot in Glass Sword, she is still changing. She has all of this stuff to deal with, and she's pushing people away and things are tense between her and a few other characters at different points during the book. She has a fear that she's going to turn in to a monster, become like Maven or his mother. Mare goes to a very dark place towards the end of the book, a very dark place, and I couldn't help but feel for her to an extent that I wanted to cry for her. At the heart of it all she just wants to be Mare, but she has to be all these different people and after events she just loses more and more of herself. It was heartbreaking to read, but I'm confident Mare will come out of it better than ever. I hope. 

One of the best things about Red Queen was how well created all of the characters where, main and secondary alike and it's no different in Glass Sword. I want to talk about characters quite a bit now, particularly the new characters thrown in, because they where a fascinating bunch, I'm not going to lie. There is a whole host of new, complex characters that we get to meet in this book and they're all brought to life brilliantly. By the end of the book I felt like I'd known them for a lot longer than I had. They ranged in age, each one brought something different to the table, each one had a backstory you itched to know about. Some of them you know in bits and pieces, some of them you know a lot better. They're all there with Mare struggling along with her, and I found each of them fascinating. I wanted to know more about each and every one of them. 

I liked watching the new characters learn about their gifts and how to use them. I liked watching them get taken from their every day lives and by the end of the book, be braver and more courageous. Willing to fight and help as best as they could even when things didn't have the best odds. Some of them made me laugh, some of them annoyed me and some of them we didn't get to know all that much. I liked the fact Mare wasn't alone any longer and there's all these people out there who looked up to her and wanted to join the fight. 

Cameron is one new character I want to talk about in particular because I really didn't like her. Like I know Mare has her faults, she is flawed, it's what makes her more realistic and more likeable to me. She's not perfect, she doesn't pretend to be and she has some issues which she struggles with. So when Cameron started being all harsh to Mare, she got my back up and I really didn't like her. But then you realised what she could do and for a split second you understood her. I kind of think she's a bit like Mare, don't get me wrong she still got my back up, but her and Mare becoming Allies was completely badass and I'm hoping for a friendship in the future. I'm so curious about Cameron's life as well. 

With these new characters come awesome new abilities. In Red Queen I loved the abilities and how things that had been done before, where present in the book with a fresh new spin on them. It showed how intricate the world was with all the different houses and abilities. We don't see much of the houses and everything in this book but we do see more abilities. Some we've seen before, but there's some cool new abilities, and I loved seeing which each newblood had, and learning about the new abilities, and the possibilities for more newbloods in the future are endless! Anyway, back to the old characters. Because ya know....obviously we see them in this book! 

"Judging by the fainting idea, he's not the sharpest blade in the armoury" 

After I read Red Queen I was desperate to see more of Cal and to get to know him better, I mean he was in Red Queen a bit but it was mostly Mare and Maven. My wish was answered and this book is heavy on the Cal and light on the Maven. I so loved seeing so much of Cal, trying, much like Mare, to figure him out. Where does his loyalty lie? Will he really side with them? And so on. You're as clueless to some of these questions as Mare is and you're constantly trying to figure him out right along with her, although I think I have a bit more hope/faith in him than Mare does, but then I haven't been through everything she has. In Glass Sword we get to see how Cal thinks, what he's like and so on. Like just the fact he doesn't like the water much, because of his power, it was a little thing, but it's something to add to the picture of Cal and shows a different side to him than the warrior. We get to know his intelligence with tactics and battle plans, we get to know how the constant way of thinking he had has shaped him and changed him and how not adhering to the King's mantra, as it where, is a struggle for him and how he deals with it. We see him deal with Maven's betrayal and so on. We see so many different sides to Cal, how he is with Mare and ugh, I could go on all day but I loved getting to know him and watch him change over the course of the book and I found myself pleasantly surprised by him once or twice! I mean I had this idea of what he was lie, and what I expected him to do and he surprised me a lot. I really, really like Cal and I'm so intrigued to see what will become of him and everything. He's not without issues, but I admire him so much for helping Mare and the others as much as he has. 

Now I've mentioned Cal I should probably mention Maven. I have a really complicated relationship with dear old Mav. In Red Queen I felt for Maven more than once, and as much as I dislike him...I could see where he was coming from in Red Queen. I understood him and why he was doing what he was doing. In Glass Sword was hard. We don't see much of Maven, and I still really, really wanted to like him, to understand him. I wanted him to redeem himself, and I'm not sure if he ever will. He's the bad guy that you have a love/hate relationship with. In Glass Sword he's like a twisted version of Charming from OUAT he's all "there's nowhere I won't find you" and it really made me think of Charming being all "I will always find you" but like..more menacing. He really upped the creep factor as well, he should really be applauded, even though it creeps me out that I still kind of get him in a really, incredibly twisted way. 

Maven is such a freaking complex character. I mean they all are, but I find him to be one of the most complex. I kinda wish for a novella from his POV to get inside his mind and see how he ticks properly. I mean I was never sure how much his mother influence him, and like is he different without her influence or? GAH MAVEN. WHY SO MEAN. 

There's a lot of Kilorn in the book and I'm loving how everything was dealt with, with him. I also love the fact that while he had his little childish reactions and his tantrums, he always stuck with Mare. Always. He really changes and grows up over the course of the book and I love how no matter how bad things get with Mare, like her behaviour near the end...he's right there with her, forgiving her and joking with her and he's such a fantastically loyal friend. I wanted to smack him one at some point, but yeah..I just loved how things where handled with him, and I love he and Mare's relationship! I was actually expecting his lack of a gift to be a problem and was pleasantly surprised that it wasn't! 

"We seem weak because we want to"

Now, along with Mare, Cal and Kilorn there are two more members to our original rag tag group of Newblood-nappers. Shade and Farley. Shade we met briefly at the end of the last book, and oh my God. I completely loved him. I'm sad for Mare that she doesn't share the relationship she has with Shade with her other two brothers. We actually get to meet them and see her interact with them and it made me sad for her. But back to Shade. He was funny, he was there for Mare, he really loved her and cared for her, he was always looking out for her and worried for her and it was nice to see it what with everything else going on. I shipped him and Farley SO HARD! 

Speaking of Farley, she gets her own paragraph! We met her in Red Queen and while I thought she was badass I wasn't sure what to make of her, but in this book we get to know her a little better. I'm now DESPERATE to pick up FRICKIN CRUEL CROWN! Like yeah we get to know her in this book, but there's still so much more about her to learn, and about her past, and Cruel Crown has a story about Farley and I need it because I really loved Farley in this book and my heart broke for her at the end as much as for Mare. She was completely badass, I loved how she trusted Mare and went along with Mare's plan because she agreed it was good. It was nice to have someone like Farley on Mare's side. She was also not afraid of Mare at all and wasn't afraid to tell her off or stand up to her and she created the perfect balance between the two when it came to them all needing a leader. Cal also offered a calmness to Mare, to further balance things. 

Aaannnddd speaking of Farley, her shadowy Guard get hit with the spotlight this book! The Scarlet Guard where kind of known about last book, but you didn't KNOW much about them, if that makes sense, they where a point of intrigue. The Guard gets developed so much this book, and they have their own hierarchy (shady as it is) and their own politics going on for you to wonder at. The Guard in Red Queen almost seemed like another character to me to be honest, and I loved them getting fleshed out in this book, especially as things weren't all they seemed. 

Although, with the Guard comes the Colonel. I hated him with such a passion...but by the end of the book I kind of respected him. Still didn't like him, but ya know...didn't hate him so much. There's a whole new load of characters brought in with the Guard, including Bree and Tramy, Mare's other brothers. They also bring a whole load of new intrigue and some very big surprises. 

"I must freeze my heart to the one person setting it ablaze" 

Romaannnnceee! I freaking love how it's not the main plot of the book, all the romanic moments are subtle, a touch here or there and I loved it. Don't get me wrong, there's plenty of scenes to squeal over, but the book isn't all romance in your face all the time. The whole thing with Kilorn doesn't develop in to a love triangle either, in case anyone was wondering! Another thing I love the book for. There where plenty of little moments, as well as previously mentioned cute scenes, and I was surprised, I mean, I guess I thought things where going to be frosty between them after Red Queen but not so. Again, don't get me wrong, things weren't smooth sailing but not for the reasons I thought. I enjoyed how the romance between the two wasn't easy, there where bumps, there was conflict there where some heart wrenching scenes that made you scream at the book, but at the end of the day, they still are together and they still have their feelings. I just liked how the romance wasn't all sunshine and rainbows all the time, because that isn't realistic. None of it is drama for the sake of drama, as much as we love romance and want our ship to be together, there are some issues for Cal and Mare that are brought up in the book, and will be in the future. He is a Silver and she is a Red and it's a big issue between them and it's not ignored. They clash over it a few times in the book, and gutting as it was, it was very well done, and i'm intrigued to see how things will work out. 

One of the main adages of Red Queen was "anyone can betray anyone", and in Glass Sword it's another constant of this book. Mare remembers it, after Maven, she's not likely to forget and throughout the book she's reminding herself of it, reminding herself to trust no-one, not even her family, not even Kilorn and not even Cal. Mare repeating these two mantras of hers has you on edge for the whole book, and it spikes up a notch whenever she says one of them, or thinks one. I already mentioned the tension, but there's also suspense, and a sense of waiting for something to happen, waiting for the other shoe to drop. You never knew who to trust in Red Queen and it's much the same in Glass Sword. I was expecting betrayal around every single corner, it kind of made me jumpy! I was as distrustful as Mare to be honest! 

Glass Sword is brimming with emotion, not just from the characters but from the emotion it makes you feel. There's conflict between the characters. There's conflict all over the place, and you feel for the characters you love. There are some truly heartbreaking moments,  there's conflict between characters that makes you angry on one characters behalf, there's humour to lighten the heartbreak, there's betrayal and more. The book, much like Red Queen,  makes you feel all the feels. It's dark. It's brutal. You should definitely be on your guard! 

I mean, I was actually crying at one point during the book. Chapter Twenty Six (yes, Chapter 26 again, what is it with 26!?). When you hit that chapter just take a breather, I know the book is hard to put down but you need to do it. Put the book down. Mentally and emotionally prepare yourself, grab a bottle of wine. The WHOLE bottle, a box of tissues, some chocolate or cake or something then settle in. From this point on the book will break you emotionally and you won't  be able to put the book down or look away, you'll be glued to the page. I actually screamed/shrieked at the book and threw it. Not like a hard throw, but like a throw in the bed in a "i'm angry at you but I don't want to hurt you" kind of way. I still can't even with that scene. I haven't felt such rage and such a sense of injustice since reading Deathly Hallows and Hedwig and Dobby. WAS THERE REALLY A NEED!? 

It doesn't end there. There is another cliffhanger, and much like Red Queen's it's pretty damn unbearable. I'm not sure what broke me more to be honest, death, my ship or the last line of the freaking book. I'm really not. The impending wait until the next book is just damn near impossible to contemplate and I so wasn't ready to finish the book. They say it's always darkest before the dawn and I'm really hoping it's true because things seem pretty bleak when we leave the book! 

Glass Sword is the sequel you dream of, it takes everything from the first book and expands upon it, it gives you more of what you love, and leaves you wanting more. Glass Sword will grab you from the first page, and you'll be unable to put it down, right until the bitter end. You can feel the tension, you're on edge as you read and there's plenty of heart racing, edge of the seat action. You will feel all the feels. You will rage. You will cry. You will even laugh. You'll love characters even more, get to know new ones, and dread leaving the world yet again. Glass Sword is brutal, bleak, and emotionally devastating, but it's also the perfect sequel and it leaves you, once again, wanting more. 

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