Book Review: Perfect Lies by Kiersten White

Book: Perfect Lies by Kiersten White

Published February 2014 by HarperTeen|256 pages

Where I Got It: I own the e-book

Series: Mind Games #2

Genre: YA Thriller

This explosive sequel to Mind Games, which New York Timesbestselling author Holly Black called “a brutal, exciting gem of a book,” is a lightning-fast, wickedly smart tale of two sisters trapped in a web of deceit—perfect for fans of Sara Shepard’s Lying Game series.

For years, Annie and Fia have been in an endless battle for survival against the Keane Foundation. Now the sisters have found allies who can help them escape. But Annie’s visions of the future and Fia’s flawless instincts can’t always tell them who to trust. The sisters can only rely on each other—and even their extraordinary gifts may not be enough to save them.

I really liked Perfect Lies.  After reading Now I Rise, I really wanted to revisit this series for some reason.

One thing I was really unsure about was the time-line.  It’s very much like the first book, where you have not only Fia and Annie narrating, but it jumps around as far as time goes.  It was the main problem I had with the first book, which I also re-read recently.  I did expect it, though, so that definitely helped.  It didn’t bother me as much as it did in the first book, and I definitely found myself paying attention more, because you’re seeing all of these different moments that lead up to the end.

It’s a very intricate story, and I really liked all of the little details.  It feels like one of those books that has to be really well-plotted, because I don’t think it would work as well if it wasn’t.

I really liked Annie and Fia’s relationship, and they really are great characters.  They’ve really changed, and I really liked Annie is this book.  She did everything she could for Fia and she really did try to destroy the Keane Foundation in the best way she could.  And Fia really changed as well.  She’s a lot less stable in this one, and she felt a little more…unhinged…in this one.  I don’t know if it’s because everything was catching up with her, or what was going on, but she is definitely not the Fia we see in the first book.  Or maybe it was always there, but the events of the first book really highlighted it and brought it out?

The ending was pretty open-ended, which was interesting.  I liked it, because it does make me wonder how the school will be and if Fia and Annie are okay.  But at the same time, I don’t want to wonder what happens, because I want to KNOW what happens.  I know there will be no third book, since this is a duology, but part of me wants more, because I really wanted more from the ending.  It would have made for an interesting 2nd book in a trilogy.

4 stars.  It took a little bit of time to get used to the time line but it was a pretty interesting mystery, and I really liked Annie and Fia.

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Book Review: Now I Rise by Kiersten White

Book: Now I Rise by Kiersten White

Published June 2017 by Delacorte Press|496 Pages

Where I Got It: I own the hardcover

Series: The Conqueror’s Saga #2

Genre: YA Fantasy/Historical Fiction

Lada Dracul has no allies. No throne. All she has is what she’s always had: herself. After failing to secure the Wallachian throne, Lada is out to punish anyone who dares to cross her blood-strewn path. Filled with a white-hot rage, she storms the countryside with her men, accompanied by her childhood friend Bogdan, terrorizing the land. But brute force isn’t getting Lada what she wants. And thinking of Mehmed brings little comfort to her thorny heart. There’s no time to wonder whether he still thinks about her, even loves her. She left him before he could leave her.

What Lada needs is her younger brother Radu’s subtlety and skill. But Mehmed has sent him to Constantinople—and it’s no diplomatic mission. Mehmed wants control of the city, and Radu has earned an unwanted place as a double-crossing spy behind enemy lines. Radu longs for his sister’s fierce confidence—but for the first time in his life, he rejects her unexpected plea for help. Torn between loyalties to faith, to the Ottomans, and to Mehmed, he knows he owes Lada nothing. If she dies, he could never forgive himself—but if he fails in Constantinople, will Mehmed ever forgive him?

As nations fall around them, the Dracul siblings must decide: what will they sacrifice to fulfill their destinies? Empires will topple, thrones will be won . . . and souls will be lost.

I’ve been so excited about this book and I absolutely loved it!  I was worried it would suffer from middle book syndrome, and that it would feel like it was a bridge between the first book and the third book.  This wasn’t the case at all, and it really added to the series because it felt like it added to the story.  It does set some things up for the next book, of course, but overall, it stood on its own pretty well.

I loved Lada in this book.  She is very resilient, and determined to get Wallachia back and make it into the country she believes it should be.  Lada is so determined to find her own allies, and there is something cold and unlikeable about her.  But I can’t help but love her as a character.  She is bloodthirsty and cruel and sympathetic and determined, and it’s hard not to love her.  I hate that the boyars see her as someone who’s easy to manipulate because of her gender, and yet it’s not that surprising.  Lada works so hard to show that she is deserving of her title, and I hate that she had to fight so hard for it.  I think she appreciates it a lot more because of it, and certainly more than Radu would have.

Her brother Radu is also interesting.  He does have a political savvy that Lada does not, and it would have been interesting to see how things would have gone for Lada in Wallachia if she had her brother by her side.  There is something about Radu that is more soft, but perhaps that’s because in comparison to Lada, almost anyone would seem soft and delicate.  Together, they would make an interesting but formidable team, but that is not this story.

As for Mehmed…if there’s one character I hate with a fiery, burning passion, it is Mehmed.  I didn’t have strong feelings either way in And I Darken, but he was okay in that book.  In this one, however?  He used both Radu and Lada.  He, in this book, seemed to be fully aware of Radu’s feelings for him, or at least aware enough to get Radu to do anything he said because there was no way Radu was going to say no.  And he definitely took advantage of Lada’s desire to do anything to take Wallachia for herself, using her to make sure things went a certain way.

I think that is the main difference between Lada and Radu- Lada was completely disgusted by the fact that Mehmed used her, and became more determined to get what she wanted, while Radu didn’t seem to care that Mehmed capitalized on Radu’s feelings for him.  You see two very different sides of Mehmed, and as much as I didn’t care for Mehmed, I do appreciate that he isn’t clear-cut.

I attended a book signing for Now I Rise, and something White mentioned was trying to find a middle ground.  I thought she went above and beyond that, and she really did show how things aren’t black and white, and that there is always a grey area.

I also especially liked that she took great care with how she portrayed both Christianity and Islam, and even though we don’t see prayers or anything like that, religion is still very present and something that is important to many of the characters.

And that ending!  I ABSOLUTELY LOVED the last three or so chapters.  I’m really rooting for Lada, and I’m completely on her side, because as far as I’m considered, Mehmed and Radu are somehow less deserving.

5 stars.  I loved this book, and the characters really felt like living, breathing people.  I didn’t think it was possible for this series to get better, but it did, and I can’t wait to read the next book.