Hello everyone, and welcome back to another second chances post! For the idea behind this, check out the first post. Or, the quick run-down: this is the post series where I try authors out another time when I wasn’t sold on the first (or last) book I read from them. And that might seem like a silly idea, but it actually works out well sometimes, which is why I keep doing it!
In any case: here are the authors I gave another shot over the past couple of months (and the books I read). Let’s get to it!
Warcross by Marie Lu
Warcross is a semi-futuristic sci-fi where everyone plays a game that’s kind of a cross between an MMORPG and Pokémon Go, and the protagonist of the book gets recruited for her ability to hack it.
I actually wrote a full review of it, so you can check that out if you’re interested. More or less, though, I really enjoyed the worldbuilding and setting aspects and was less sold on the rest of the book. I wanted to spend more time getting to know the mechanics of the game and seeing why the protagonist, Emika, was so special in what she could do with it.
Emika kind of comes off as a wish fulfillment, cool-and-good-at-everything-relevant kind of character (especially since we get told and not shown, at points, how she does what she does), and the plot was fairly predictable. Still, I had a lot more fun with this than Legend, which I kind of slogged through and thought was a very typical-to-form dystopian without much standing out to cling to. I could see myself reading the sequel to this book.
(I might also not, depending on what’s coming out over the next year, but it’s likely I will if the reviews are good. And in any case, Marie Lu’s stock has risen with me.)
What Light by Jay Asher
It took a deep breath and a lot of self-convincing to take this second chance on Jay Asher, because I really don’t like Thirteen Reasons Why and I’ve had awkward luck with Christmas-themed books and stories, so.
Anyway: What Light is about a girl whose family moves south to sell Christmas trees every December, and while she’s down there working, she meets a mysterious cute boy with a bad reputation. Can you guess what happens? Yes, probably. That’s not what makes this book bad; a lot of contemporary romance is like that, of course.
But…this is more or less a not-great romance that is cheesy, kind of boring, and builds up conflict that’s not really conflict. The friend character is just there to provide relationship advice; parents are just there to provide ineffectual relationship impediments, etc. Even the Christmas tree lot setting kind of loses its romance, and people in this book don’t seem to understand what a mocha is. (They keep making hot chocolate and stirring it with a candy cane and calling it a cheap peppermint mocha. Dude, that’s a peppermint hot chocolate. Know your beverage.)
I honestly just stuck with it because I had already started reading it and I wanted to be able to write about it for second chances, but I feel especially confident in saying that this book is not worth your time. Although yeah, stir your hot chocolate with a candy cane. That is tasty. (Still not a mocha.)
Renegades by Marissa Meyer
I didn’t hate the Lunar Chronicles series, but I didn’t really dig it, either? The cultural appropriation aspects in the Cinder parts of the story were awkward, and I feel like it suffered from a kind of character bloat, where more and more people were introduced and it felt like the narrative lost sight of the people who were originally at its centre. (Also, as it introduced more and more people, we still just had all straight people pairing off, which can get pretty tiresome.)
I figured I might get along better with Renegades, because it just takes place in a comic-book-like city, some people in it are not straight (hurray!), and I was hoping it’d be a more focused story. It’s also a different genre outing, generally: it’s more of a comic-type “prodigy” (mutant) heroes and villains story.
Honestly, though, I was more interested reading Cinder than I was reading this. First of all, this book is too long. (Is this a first?) For what happens in it, it kind of drags and feels a lot like a long set-up. Second of all, it very much cleaves to a plot we already know, a sort of Magneto vs. the X-Men conundrum, with the somewhat-twist that the X-Men here can be a little drunk on power and the Magneto-team wants regular people to do stuff for themselves rather than rely on superheroes. The powers some of the characters had were pretty fun and imaginative, but I was also bored by the characters because we got to know them to such a tiny extent in such a long book. (Basically just their key tragic backstories.)
Like I don’t really know what actually took so long in this book: it’s kind of a typical two-character perspectives, not-that-interesting romance plot with one person infiltrating the enemy and another keeping a secret from all of their friends, plus three villain-hero encounters and a lot of characters introduced with very little fanfare.
Anyway, not really for me, which is a shame, because I wanted to like this author; she started as a fanfic author and…didn’t just publish her fanfiction, which I admire. But yeah. This book is not really for me.
Welp, I had pretty good luck with this in my last round, but not so much here. Still, I enjoy doing this series, so I’ll find my way back to some more authors I had bad luck with in 2018, I’m sure. (I’m not actually sure who they’ll be yet, but I am looking forward to putting together that list.)
Have you retried any authors lately? How was your luck? Let me know in the comments, and I’ll speak to you again soon!