Book Review - The Last Star

by Rick Yancey (Penguin) ISBN: 9780141345925


Despite the success of The Fifth Wave and The Infinite Sea, the conclusion to Yancey’s bestselling post-apocalyptic series is, at best, mediocre. 

Four global catastrophes wiped out the majority of the population, and the fifth – the creation of child-driven death squads brainwashed into hunting down survivors – threatens to remove “trust” from the human vocabulary. The enemy, the Other, has almost succeeded in its initiative, yet Cassie, Ringer and Zombie will risk everything to preserve the last flickering fragments of hope on Earth. 

In what should be an action-filled fight to save what’s left of humanity, Cassie and the dregs of Squad 52 do little more than wander around a wasteland reciting monologues about betrayal. Yancey seemed bored with his characters and eager to be done with the series altogether. Unfortunately, this seeped into his storytelling: the eerie, despondent tones that gave the first two novels their edge dissolved into little more than a monotonous drone. Even Cassiopeia – one of my favourite characters in Science Fiction – dulled from a fiery, witty heroine to an impulsive, sulking nuisance. 

Overall, The Last Star was wildly disappointing, with few redeemable elements. As a series finale, it does the bare minimum in providing dedicated readers with closure. 

Amy Bouwer
www.writerswrite.co.za
2/5

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Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. Writers Write - Write to communicate.

Book Review - Riverkeep

by Martin Stewart (Penguin) ISBN: 9780141362038
 

With his sixteenth birthday fast approaching, the last thing Wulliam wants is to take up his family’s mantle of Riverkeep, burdened with the lonely task of taming an uncontrollable force. Yet his chance at a stable future capsizes when his father is pulled into the depths and possessed by a dark spirit. With the only known cure supposedly hidden in a sea-beast called the mormorach, Wull must embark on a treacherous journey that will require endless patience, courage, and trust in an unlikely group of travelling companions. 

If Stewart’s intention was to copy characters and scenes from The Wizard of Oz and stick them onto a Moby Dick-inspired backdrop, while trying his best to mimic the style of Patrick Ness, it seems he was successful. Unfortunately, the result is about as disastrous as you’d expect. Characters that might have been charming are lost in a sea of meaningless mini-quests and plot twists that left me either disinterested or frustrated, and I couldn’t help but wonder on numerous occasions whether the author was trying to make me fall asleep. 

Perhaps this book’s greatest downfall is that Stewart can’t quite master the lightly entertaining yet powerful writing style his epic adventure tale demands if it’s to keep young adult audiences interested. Overall, this was simply a dull read. 

Amy Bouwer
www.writerswrite.co.za
1/5

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Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. Writers Write - Write to communicate.

Book Review - Soundless

by Richelle Mead (Razorbill) ISBN: 9781595147639 


Richelle Mead is no stranger to the young adult fantasy scene. However, while her Vampire Academy series was a hit because of its fresh take on angst-ridden paranormal teens, a different author might as well have written her latest novel, Soundless

At first glance, Soundless follows the extraordinary journey of a girl determined to destroy the curse of deafness that blankets her village. Unfortunately for Mead, one-dimensional characters, poor plotting, and pitiful world building destroyed any hope she had of carrying out such an interesting premise. 

For a novel supposedly steeped in Chinese folklore, Soundless reads like it was written in the basement of a Hollywood warehouse by somebody whose core understanding of Chinese culture comes from The Karate Kid. Mead’s characters are only Chinese by name, and her story is riddled with Western clichés. 

Possibly the most disappointing aspect of Mead’s story is its total lack of fantastical elements – that is, until she has to turn to magic and folklore to pull her characters out of impossible situations. This lazy plot device coupled with dull dialogue, a flat love story and bottomless plot holes made for a frustrating read. 

Amy Bouwer
www.writerswrite.co.za
1/5

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Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. Writers Write - Write to communicate.

Book Review - Into The Fire

by Manda Scott (Bantam Press) ISBN: 9780593072486 

Manda Scott attempts to link a modern-day mystery to an age-old tale of tragic heroism. Captain Ines Picaut delves into an investigation of several arson attacks in Orleans, but finds herself tangled up in secrets that rival the threat behind the flames. Her story is paralleled with that of Joan of Arc as she leads her troops into combat against the English in 1429. 

Instead of the journey of intrigue that hundreds of rave reviews promised, I suffered through pages and pages of poor plotting and dull descriptions. If Jeanette’s story had stood on its own, the novel would have improved tenfold. Those chapters written in Ines’s viewpoint would be out of place even in a Hollywood drama, with their inclusion of a demonic soon-to-be-ex-husband, his insane family, and an unprofessional office romance that sprung out of nowhere and simply added gasoline to an already burning plotline. 

Scott would have been better off snipping the hair-thin string that held the two stories together, as this would have saved her from tripping over it every time she wandered towards a climax. 
I expected far more from such an acclaimed author. 

Amy Bouwer
www.writerswrite.co.za
1/5

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Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. Writers Write - Write to communicate