Their Fractured Light (Starbound #03) by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner Review

TFLBlurb:

A year ago, Flynn Cormac and Jubilee Chase made the now infamous Avon Broadcast, calling on the galaxy to witness for their planet, and protect them from destruction. Some say Flynn’s a madman, others whisper about conspiracies. Nobody knows the truth. A year before that, Tarver Merendsen and Lilac LaRoux were rescued from a terrible shipwreck—now, they live a public life in front of the cameras, and a secret life away from the world’s gaze.

Now, in the center of the universe on the planet of Corinth, all four are about to collide with two new players, who will bring the fight against LaRoux Industries to a head. Gideon Marchant is an eighteen-year-old computer hacker—a whiz kid and an urban warrior. He’ll climb, abseil and worm his way past the best security measures to pull off onsite hacks that others don’t dare touch.

Sofia Quinn has a killer smile, and by the time you’re done noticing it, she’s got you offering up your wallet, your car, and anything else she desires. She holds LaRoux Industries responsible for the mysterious death of her father and is out for revenge at any cost.

When a LaRoux Industries security breach interrupts Gideon and Sofia’s separate attempts to infiltrate their headquarters, they’re forced to work together to escape. Each of them has their own reason for wanting to take down LaRoux Industries, and neither trusts the other. But working together might be the best chance they have to expose the secrets LRI is so desperate to hide. (via Goodreads)

 

 The Starbound Series kept surprising me with just how amazing it was. These Broken Stars was simply spellbinding and then I read This Shattered World and I was blown away because Kaufman and Spooner outdid themselves. Now with Their Fractured Light, they raised the bar even higher and still managed to leave me at a complete loss for words. With every consecutive book, they kept raising their game as well as the stakes leading to a conclusion that could not have been better written.

Every time I think of writing about just how much I loved this book and this series, I feel like anything I say would fall grievously short of conveying just how much I loved the series and enjoyed myself.

Usually, in a series, you have multiple books to really get to know and care about the characters. Not so here, each of the books in The Starbound Trilogy focused on a different couple though the characters from previous books would eventually appear in the next novel. Considering that each of the three main couples had just one book to themselves, the fact they are so well conceived is truly remarkable. What is even more remarkable is that through the course of the trilogy, we really come to love and care for these characters. They are all precious and we want to shield them from all the pain and heartbreak headed their way.

 The Starbound Trilogy is truly set in a galaxy far far away on distant planets connected only through the Hyperspace. The three books take place on three separate planets, and they are very different from each other. Their Fractured Light takes place on Corinth. Unlike the previous planets, Corinth is fully developed and industrialized. The world building in this series is truly remarkable. All of the three worlds are so distinct from each other and yet so rich in detail. They are so intricate that it was easy to get lost in these strange and distant worlds. Corinth, in comparison, was a little easier to imagine and in many ways, it was like a lot of current metropolises. And yet, still so alien.

 Kaufman and Spooner’s writing style is also very visual so it was also easy to see what these worlds looked like while reading the books. Which added to the feeling of really inhabiting these worlds. As with the two previous books, Their Fractured Light moved at fever pitch and one couldn’t help but lose themselves in the pages. The story and the characters are so compelling that it was close to impossible to put the book down. There was also a sense of impending doom that was almost palpable throughout the book. With this final book, this journey has finally come to an end and that was a bittersweet moment. I am thrilled with the way the series concluded but sad that this is it for these characters.

Another highlights of the series are the characters. Starting with Tarver and Lilac and then with Jubilee and Flynn, I thought that those set up a very tough act to follow, but I should have known that Kaufman and Spooner would surprise us yet again with amazing characters. Sofia Quinn and Gideon Marchant were every bit as spectacular as those who came before them. They were emotionally complex with motives that were hard to pin down. While their paths crossed very early in the book and it was clear that they shared a bond, it did not mean that they both didn’t have unresolved issues. They both had a goal and for the longest time, they were working at cross-purposes. It took a long time for them to get to a point where they actually trusted themselves and each other. They were also so well written that, as readers, you shared in their happiness, their inner conflicts, their despair and their hope.

What I also loved was how different and distinct their narratives were. The chapters could have been left unmarked and we would still have known who’s point-of-view we were reading. They had such distinct voices. It is also worth noting that the male protagonists seem to be more emotional while the female protagonists are more practical, more willing to make the tough calls. This has been a common thread among even the previous couples.

Then there Roderick LaRoux, the main antagonist and it would have been so easy to paint him a monster, someone with no conscience. But even he was humanised in the end. We learn what set him off on his destructive path. And like our protagonists, he too was convinced that what he was doing was for the greater good. But in his quest for that, he lost his own humanity.

The Whispers were an excellent construct and with every subsequent novel, we learnt a little bit more about them. To the extent that in the final book, they were pretty much on par with the main couple. We finally understand what they are and just how they came to be imprisoned by LaRoux.

It is easy to set up a trilogy well; I’ve come across numerous series that do this very well. But is very hard to conclude that series in a way that feels organic and fitting. Their Fractured Light could not have been a better conclusion to a series I fell utterly in love with. Characters from both of the previous books appeared and they were participants in the final outcome, not merely spectators. Their involvement affected the outcome just as Sophie and Gideon’s did. It made me so happy to have them come back and to see that they hadn’t been diminished in any way to make the main couple stand out. While, there was a lot of death and destruction over the course of the trilogy, the final book ends on a note of optimism and looking to a future that is vastly different from what anyone could have imagined.

Advertisements

Tokyo Ghoul Season 1

c52fde892d6081c087d8e9bb521faabeI prefer watching the slightly dark and serious anime and recently stumbled upon Tokyo Ghoul. I started watching the show and the first few episodes were pretty good.

Anime shows can sometimes take a good amount of time to get going (I am looking at you Dragon Ball Z and those episodes where the only thing that happened was characters standing on opposite sides of the screen and having an inner monologue) Tokyo Ghoul seemed to avoid that pitfall. The characters were engaging and easy to care about.

Tokyo Ghoul is based in an alternate universe where Tokyo is home to ghouls. Creatures who look like normal humans with one very big difference, they need human flesh to survive. Their appearance makes it easy for them to blend in. Season 1 follows Ken Kaneki, a university student who seems to be content living a somewhat lonely life. He’s an avid reader and friends with Hideyoshi (the two of them couldn’t be more different from each other) He gets mixed up in the ghouls’ world after being attacked by one. They both suffer an accident and to save his life, the doctor puts the ghoul’s organs in his body. Ken suddenly finds that he can no longer eat normal food and that he craves human flesh.

The first season is mostly about Ken fighting his new appetite and also finding out more about the Ghouls. They are regarded by the public as nothing but a feeding machine, more animal than human and they couldn’t be further from the truth. Ken comes across a group of ghouls who not only co-exist with humans but also seem to have their ghoul nature under control.

The season started very well and seemed to be moving at a great pace with plenty of character development while also introducing us to new ones. Ken is very much the main character and it is his journey that we follow but there are other characters who play a key role in that journey. Chief among them is Toka, a ghoul girl who lives and works at the cafe Anteiku. She is someone who seems to be at peace with what she is but at the same time she is not a crazed eating machine. She is also powerful. She also creates an interesting foil for Ken who is just so passive that it’s a wonder he manages to do anything in life. He cries and whines and is perhaps the least interesting character on the show.

The show is full of other interesting characters who make the show worth watching. It also stays away from black and white characterizations. For instance, the investigators who’s job is to save peoples’ lives from ghouls are just as twisted as those they hunt and often, as the viewer, you find yourself asking just who’s more evil. Case in point, Kureo Mado, an investigator who hunts ghouls but he’s just as sadistic as those he hunts, just as monstrous. Just as not all humans are decent people, not all ghouls are evil. Indeed, some of them are more sympathetic than the humans.

Throughout the show, there are two main arcs; the investigators hot on the tail of the ghouls and a separate gang of ghouls who are everything that Ken hates and fears. The two arcs are interlinked and often intersect but never with any lasting conclusion and as the end looms closer, the stakes seem to rise and the world of humans and ghouls seems poised for an all-out war.

The show truly had a great start and was good in the middle, it was immersive and kept the viewer invested in the characters. But throughout the series, there were instances where the violence seemed a tad overdone. And at the end, the show just went completely off the rails. The violence became gratuitous and seemed to serve no purpose. The earlier outbursts of violence seemed to pale in comparison. The last few episodes were just so far removed from the rest of the season that they could have been two completely different shows. Violence for the sake of shocking viewers is a cheap trick and adds nothing to the plot.

There was precious little that happened in those episodes save for the aforementioned violence mentioned. The other characters seem more like afterthoughts and the plot was sacrificed in favour of all that blood and gore. Due to that the season ended up on a very abrupt note.

Tokyo Ghoul was a good show that started well but then stuttered towards the end with inconsistent writing and plot development and suffered from self-indulgence especially in the final act of the season.

The Vanishing Throne (The Falconer #02) by Elizabeth May Review

The-Falconer-The-Vanishing-Throne_FCThe Vanishing Throne was significantly better than The Falconer. It picks up almost immediately after the events of the first book and after that it’s a bumpy ride till the very end.

Unlike the first book where Kam was forced to straddle the fine line between the high-born lady that she was and the sword-wielding assassin that she was at night, there was none of that here which helped a great deal. In the previous book, I felt that a lot of the time was wasted in Kam trying to avoid suspicion and still go about her nightly duties. However, those glimpses were also important in establishing just how far she had come from the person she used to be and it also introduced us to Catherine, one of the best characters in the entire series so far.

The pace of The Vanishing Throne was feverish with never a dull moment. There was always something happening with the pursuers just a few steps behind them, it turned into a real cat and mouse game that was fairly well executed. The stakes felt real and that was a very pleasant change. And though there were brief moments of respite, there was always a sense of impending doom looming over those stolen moments.

The characters were great and I loved how normal Kam was. She was flawed and just as bloodthirsty as the fae she hunted. In The Vanishing Throne, she saw that part of herself and tried to change and to a large part, even succeeded. And while she was strong, she was also vulnerable. Though, she did feel a lot of guilt over the way things ended in The Falconer, she never tried making excuses and kept trying to set things right.

I liked Kieran. One of my favourite parts of the first book was that the romance was very understated. It helped because there was simply no time for it. The same is true here but with the stakes so much higher, I could understand their need for intimacy. It never interfered with the main plot and only served to make the characters more human. Kieran also treats her with respect and as an equal. And when he felt that she was romanticizing him, he’s quick to set her right and disillusion her. He doesn’t want her to love an illusion, but see him for who he really is and everything he’s done, good and bad.

I loved Aithinne, Kieran’s sister. She was funny and just a wee bit unstable (but in a good way) and I liked the bond between the two women. They came together and became true allies, perhaps because of what they suffered at the hands of Lonnrach. Aithinne was strong and resilient and willing to help Kam even when it meant that she would suffer for it or that it would leave her weakened.

Catherine was a sweetheart and I would have hated the book had anything happened to her. She was Kam’s one remaining friend and I loved that she never lost her light. She didn’t become bitter and hateful. She survived and came into her own. She stood up for Kam and she didn’t need for her to pass any test to know and trust her friend.

Derrick was amazing and I was so glad to see more of him. It was also nice to know that he was still stitching elaborate dresses and didn’t care that Kam no longer had anywhere to wear them to. He didn’t let that stop him. But there was also deep sadness to him and we learned more about that. His bond to Kam is deeper than just friendship, they became family and genuinely care for each other.

Gavin was another story altogether. I thought he was a decent character in The Falconer, but in this book I could not stand him. First, he subjected Kam to excruciating pain and he lied to her about it. He knew what would happen and how bad it would be and he didn’t even warn her. He didn’t bother asking her what she had gone through. Just because her face was unmarked, he assumed that she hadn’t suffered. He was a self-pitying idiot and I had no patience for him.

Then there was Daniel who was an absolute boor in the beginning but managed to redeem himself (somewhat) Moreover, I can understand why he did what he did. He didn’t know Kam and he didn’t know what she was, unlike Gavin. I still didn’t like him all that much but it was clear that he clearly loved Catherine and that was enough.

The bad guys just kept coming back. There was Sorcha and let’s not forget Lonnrach. I don’t know who was worse. And sadly, neither of them are dead so they’re sure to return for the next book. I am really hoping Aithinne kills him considering what he did to her and Kam. He has it coming. Sadly, Sorcha can’t die, not unless her bond to Kieran is somehow severed.

Like with the previous book, this one too ended with a cliffhanger. While it isn’t as bad as The Falconer, it is still a painful wait, especially since the next book will come out sometime in 2017 and that is so far away!!!