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Mini Reviews

Monday, May 13, 2013

The Bellwether Revivals by Benjamin Wood

What’s the deal? Oscar is happily going about his business as a care worker when a chance encounter at evensong drags him into the world of a privileged group of Cambridge students, spearheaded by Iris and Eden Bellwether. However, whilst pursuing a relationship with Iris, Oscar soon notices that Eden’s eccentricity has a more sinister undertone. Determined to help his beloved Iris cure her brother, Oscar finds himself further entangled in the Bellwether siblings’ complicated relationship. 

Any good? The idea was intriguing and even though there was quite a bit of psychological chatter on the topic of NPD, I loved that you never quite knew if Eden actually had powers. However, I think the pace could have been quicker. This type of book shouldn’t be a slow burner. The scenes of Eden ‘performing’ were creepy and exciting but then there would be fifty pages of Oscar and Iris chatting in bed or doing something else unexciting. I wish it had been as swift as Before I Go To Sleep. Nevertheless, it was a good novel and I will keep an eye out for more Benjamin Wood books in the future.

Should I get it? If you like Brideshead Revisited or The Secret History (although I can't say for sure because I still haven’t managed to finish this one). 

Legend by Marie Lu

What’s the deal? June is the brightest student in the Republic and destined for a glittering military career – like her brother and guardian, Metias. Day is the most wanted criminal, a vigilante righting the wrongs of the Republic in the slums. However, one of Day’s quests for justice goes wrong and June’s brother is caught in the crossfire. This sends June on the hunt for Day, although what she finds when she meets the most dangerous person in the Republic is not exactly what she expected and she learns some hard facts about her employers. 

Any good? It took me a while to get over what happened to Metias in the first few chapters of the book (he could have been an interesting character!) but overall this was a fun, quick and easy read. I thought June and Day seemed older than fifteen but that wasn’t too much of a problem - it will probably make more sense in the later books. I’m looking forward to getting the other books in this series. The test is always the second book, right?

Should I get it? If you really like dystopian YA books. I don't think Legend is strong enough to convert anyone to the genre though. 

Exposure by Mal Peet

What’s the deal? Otello is the best footballer in South America. Desmerelda is a Shakira type pop star. Otello is black. Desi is white. When the two meet, it is love at first sight. However, in the still openly racist area of South America in which they live, this is a problem. To help them navigate the heated political turmoil their union has caused, Diego Mendosa steps in but are his motives pure? 

Any good? I ashamedly admit I have not read Othello but I liked this well written story. It took a while for everything to come together – there were so many secondary characters. The only thing I don’t understand is why Diego hated Otello so much – why did he want to bring down one of his own clients so badly? Was it just for sport? I liked the side stories with Bush, Bianca and Felicia and also the police captain – I would read separate books about them. I think this is a good read in the build up to the Brazilian world cup. I don’t think the story was set in Brazil itself but we all know there is a problem of racisim there and obviously the politics of football. Now I need to go and listen to or watch Othello – I think a commenter on Celebitchy said there’s a good recording of Chiwetel Ejiofer/ Ewan McGregor’s version. 

Should I get it? If you like modern day retellings of The Bard’s greatest hits. 

Heart-Shaped Bruise by Tanya Byrne

What’s the deal? Emily Koll is in a young offendors institution. Emily Koll is the daughter of gangster Harry Koll who is in prison for killing his rival. Like father, like daughter then, yes? Well, Emily takes the opportunity to set the story straight. 

Any good? I really, really liked this book. It was raw and punchy and complex and very…London. The kids spoke like kids and the characters reflected the London I know. The story had twists and turns galore. In an interview at the end, Tanya Byrne said originally the story was going to be told from the perspective of Nancy but Emily’s story is much richer. There’s more opportunity to get a reaction from Emily's narrative. Sid and Nancy were accessibly cool characters – those kids who were friends with everyone at school. My only gripe is that I wish it had been a little bit longer – I wanted to know more about Harry’s gangster life so that there was even greater motive on Emily’s part – at least from the reader’s perspective. 

Should I get it? If you want an insight into teen life in London with a criminal twist. 


  1. I enjoyed LEGEND too and recently read the sequel, PRODIGY. I thought it was a good follow up to the first book, and there was a certain plot development that makes me wonder how on earth Marie Lu is going to end the series. She definitely has me waiting for the third book now. :)

  2. Oooh I'm looking forward to reading Prodigy now! I think I'll get it in my next batch.


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