Tag Archive | novel

Review: The Immortal Rules

The Immortal Rules
The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“We are vampires. It makes no difference who we are, where we came from. Princes, Masters and rabids alike, we are monsters, cut off from humanity. They will never trust us. They will never accept us. We hide in their midst and walk among them, but we are forever separate. Damned. Alone. You don’t understand now, but you will. There will come a time when the road before you splits, and you must decide your path. Will you choose to become a demon with a human face, or will you fight your demon until the end of time, knowing you will forever struggle alone?”

This is a journey of a young girl to find her humanity while being an undead…

The world as we know it has ended when Red Lung attacks. Flulike symptoms evolve to raging fever, necrosis of the lungs, and finally asphyxiation as the victims choke and drown in their own blood. A worldwide emergency is called, towns are emptied, cities lay in ruins, and the airborne virus continues its deadly march toward human extinction. To make it worse, the few remaining humans face another catastrophe when researches conducted to find the cure have gone wrong. The mutated virus doesn’t only kill its victim; it turns the victims into Rabids: mindless bloodthirsty corpses with fangs. Concerned with the depletion of the human population as their sources of food, vampires devise a way to keep the few remaining humans close and create a never-ending food supply in exchange for protection from Rabids. This is the world where vampires reign…

“In this world, you were either strong, or you were dead. You did what you had to if you wanted to survive.”

Allison Sekemoto does everything she can to survive in this mess-up world, but living as a blood cattle in a vampire city is not her way. Instead, she chooses to live a dangerous and risky life in the fringes with her small group of four, scavenging food during the day and hiding from vampires and Rabids during the night. Her hatred towards the vampires gives her the strength to endure and survive such life, until one night her groups are attacked by Rabids and she realizes her frail mortality. She is only given two choices: to die as a human or to live as the demon she despises the most.

“You are a monster. You will always be a monster, there is no turning back from it. But what type of monster you become is entirely up to you.”

Allie has to learn the rules about vampires and immortality. She must accept the fact that even though she is alive, she is practically dead. She must learn how to move and fight with her new body and strength. She must change her perceptions about humans and accept humans’ perceptions about her now. But, the most important thing is she must face her greatest fear: to feed on human’s blood. The humanity left inside Allie is in jeopardy. And she realizes that if she doesn’t want to lose to the hunger inside her and become a monster completely, she must strive and struggle hard…

“I’m not like you. I’m not like the vampires in the city. I might be a monster, but I can be human, too. I can choose to be human.”

Forced to flee from the vampire city, she meets a group of pilgrims seeking for Eden, a legendary safe haven rumored to be run by humans only. Unaware of her nature, the groups let her join them on the long and dangerous road. Once again, her humanity is tested when her nature is revealed and she is expelled from the group. Once again, Allie must decide what and who is worth dying for when the group is captured by a group of raiders led by a vampire. And for the very first time, she learns that she shouldn’t have fallen in love with a human…

What I do love from this book
• Honestly, I never thought I would read this series ever. First, the covers are unpromising. Well, BIG NOs. Second, the vampire is the heroine. Well, I love stories about vampires, but I prefer the male vampires as the main character rather than a female one. The idea of a strong female vampire ends up with a weak human boy is totally unappealing to me (yeah, somehow I prefer the male character to be more dominant than the female character). But I love Julie Kagawa’s books, especially the Iron Fey series, and it portraits a less dominant heroine who in the end turns to be more dominant than her lover, and I’m still madly in love with the story. So I thought, why not give Blood of Eden a chance? After reading the series, I HAVE NO REGRET. If I should have any, it will be: WHY DIDN’T I READ THE BOOKS SOONER?
• This is a series about vampire, but it is more than that. It is more about self-exploration and self-development, packaged into a dark twisted story that runs so smoothly from beginning to the end, with some romance and action that do not take over the main focus of the story. Are you tired of cheesy, feeble, and worthless plot for shallow entertainment offered by many young adult books? Are you tired of reading inner dialogue of stupid and inconsistent heroine who always in need of saving? Are you tired of bad boy as the main hero of a story? And are you tired of finding that bad boy unbelievably and impossibly end up together with the stupid heroine? If you are, I recommend you to read this series, because it offers you none of those. Believe me.
• The first most intriguing about this series is: the setting of time. I have read so many books about vampires and they always take place in the past time or present time. Ancient setting or modern setting. Blood of Eden is beyond my expectation and imagination. A dystopian and post-apocalyptic setting? Well, this is totally new for me, but no less magnificent than the usual ones, if not more.
• The second most intriguing fact: THE REAL VAMPIRE IS BACK!! Julie Kagawa portrays the vampires as they should be: a true monster and predator inflicting fear on humans, not some friendly and hospitable immortals coexisting with humans portrayed in some young adult stories, which sadly, make them look less vampiric. The vampires are dangerous bloodsucker with great strength and speed and fast healing who can’t walk under then sun without being burnt to ashes, afraid of fire and stakes, and must drink human blood to survive. If they ignore the last fact, the hunger and bloodlust will consume them and turn them into a monster. Even Kanin implies that one day, intentionally or not, Allie will kill a human, no matter how hard she tries not to. Yayy. Real vampire should be like that!
• Allie is a hard-ass character and I like her so much. Life is being so cruel to her yet she doesn’t give up, doesn’t cry or something like a damsel in distress. No. She’s not a kind of girl who waits for her prince charming to save the day. No. She’s not the kind of girl constantly in need of saving. No. She’s strong, capable, brave, and independent. She’s the one coming to save the others instead. She’s loyal and consistent. Even in the world when you must be self-oriented to survive, she does still prioritize others over herself, even when it costs her life. Even if she can choose an easy way by giving in to the hunger and becoming a monster, she still struggles and sticks to her principle to not be a monster. Her life is full of hardship but she always faces it strongly. As far as I know, Allison Sekemoto is a perfect heroine I ever meet in young adult fictions.
• At first, I don’t put too much hope and expectation for Allie’s love interest, Ezekiel Crosse, or Zeke. What is a mere human compared to vampire who is far superior after all? But Zeke changes my mind completely since the very first time he meets Allie. Even though it’s always Allie who comes to his rescue, I never get the impression that Zeke is powerless, dependent, or weak. Far from that. He might not have Allie’s physical superiority but he has great faith, humanity, and generosity, things that Allie lacks of. They complete each other. In the end, I can’t help but admit that Allie’s lover indeed should be a human because without Zeke, Allie might not be able to find her self-actualization and preserve her humanity.
• Kanin: Oh how I love this man. A Master vampire who turns out to be the mastermind of the experiment on vampires to find the cure for Red Lung leading to the spread of Rabidism to the world. Sire of Allison who is deeply tormented and feeling guilty, wandering to find redemption, to atone for his sins. Yet, his words, demeanors, attitudes, behaviors, everything, are the epitome of an ancient vampire. I love the way he offers Allie immortality. I love the way he teaches her the rules of vampire world. I love his strength. He takes bullets into his chest like they are nothing. But I’m so sad when he must be separated from Allie and hope to read more about him in the next books.
• Caleb. The young boy somehow intrigues me. He is the reason why Allie meets Zeke. He is the only human, besides Zeke, who accepts the fact that Allie is a vampire but still believes in her good nature. He spends his time with Allie shorter than Stick, but he doesn’t judge Allie a monster just because she is a vampire. For an innocent young boy who has been convinced by the adults around him that a vampire is a monster, he has a truly big heart.

What I don’t like from this book
• Stick. It can be said that he is the opposite character of Allie. A boy, weak, dependent, cry-baby, and everything that Allison is not. Allie tries her best to protect and care for him, even when it costs her life. For what? For nothing. Not only he accuses Allie to be a monster, despite everything that she has done for him, he also betrays her, leading to her separation from Kanin.
• Ruth. I never understand her hatred toward Allie, even long before she knows that Allie is a vampire. Is that her nature to be suspicious of and jealous of any girls of her age coming to the group and speaking with Zeke? Because, it seems that her being bitchy to Allison is for no reason other than Zeke. Normally, a nasty character like this is needed to show the good side of the main heroine. But, honestly, Allison is doing fine even without her. So, I should say that her appearance in the story is worthless. Well, don’t blame me to be very glad when she is dead a painful death, though I pity Caleb for losing her only sister.
• I know that this series is darker than most of young adult books, involving violence and gore, which means that the death of one or more characters shouldn’t be a big deal. However, I feel a bit disappointed that the small group of pilgrims becomes smaller, especially when it turns out that Eden does exist. The most upsetting deaths are those of Jeb and Darren, particularly Darren. How I hope that he and Ruth exchange positions.
• Why oh why oh why Zeke should kiss Allie in front of the others while they have been terrified-over-heels with her being a vampire? It’s not that I dislike it, but can’t he do it when they are alone? I mean, there are so many chances when he is alone with Allie. Why should the first kiss they share be witnessed by others?
• The ending. Yes. It actually lies in the gray area between happy ending and sad ending. On one hand, Allie and Zeke manage to save their group from Jackal’s hold and bring them to Eden. However, as a city without vampire, Eden also symbolizes the painful reality: that a vampire cannot be together with a human. So in the end, after they, especially Allie, overcome their hesitation about their love and their difference, they should be separated? It’s not fair.
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Review: Hush, Hush

Hush, Hush

Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

A sacred oath…
A fallen angel…
A forbidden love…

Nora Grey is a normal teenage girl with a normal life until she is forced to have Patch as her desk mate in biology class. Dark, mysterious, and alluring, he is the kind of guy she should stay away from. Yet, against all odds, she cannot resist falling for him. Meanwhile, creepy things begin to happen around her: a mysterious stalker, a break-in, a serious attack on her best friend wearing her clothes at that unfortunate time, and many other incidents putting her life in danger. She has many names to be suspected… and Patch’s is one of them. For all she knows, they are trapped at the center of centuries-old feud between a fallen angel and a Nephilim.

First of all, I want to highlight that I have finished read this first book of the series Hush Hush when I was still a high-schooler. I was still too stupid and innocent, so stricken by the romantic idea of a fallen angel ends up together with a mortal girl. Well, I am still fond of cheesy romantic stories of an immortal with a mortal but I am not as stupid and innocent as I was back then, I hope. Anyway, when I want to review this series and give it fast reading and scanning, somehow I find so many many things that make me wonder what and why in the hell I’d ever been attracted to this book.

Let’s break it down into the same pattern of my reviews.

What I do like from this book
• The cover. Oh yeah. An image of a floating body with broken wings depicting the fall of an angel. It’s beautiful, really, and promising. What’s not to like? What kind of lovers of stories involving fallen angel that do not attract to read the book? Lesson one, a too familiar one indeed: do not judge a book by its cover.

What I don’t like from this book
• Where should I start? Okay, though I mention that the cover is beautiful and promising, I haven’t mentioned that the color is dominated by grey and black, mostly grey, giving the sense of dark, gloomy, and mysterious. Sadly, it truly depicts the whole content of the book but in a very very bad way. The main hero and heroine are Nora and Patch, but I can’t help thinking that they are the abusive and arrogant version of fallen angel Edward Cullent and the hopeless and stupider Bella Swan. The similarities between two series are crystal clear: they meet at biology class, the hero is so mysterious and the heroine is curious to find out more about the hero, the hero is immortal with dark past and the heroine is normal mortal and they end up together, and the heroine googles the information leading to the revelation about the hero.
• The title of the book and the series is a bit intriguing. I’m not an English speaker, so at first I did not understand the meaning of the word. I look at its meaning on the dictionary and learn that it means ‘secret and not known about by many people’. I think this book is true to the meaning of the title. Even now, there are so many questions I have and many things I cannot understand about the story.
• This book should be about a fallen angel, somehow this book lacks the details about any fallen angel’s myth. So, there are so many holes that leave so many questions about the logic of this story. It is only explained that Patch has fallen because he falls in love with a human. For a fallen angel to have a body to be used freely for a certain period of time, he needs a Nephilim (a half-mortal offspring of fallen angels and humans) and to swear fealty on him. The fallen angel can fully become a human if he kills the descendant of the Nephilim. The fallen angel can also become a guardian angel if he chooses to save a human’s life. Patch wants to be a human, so that he tries to find and kill the descendant of his Nephilim: which is Nora. He is also offered to be a guardian angel by saving a certain someone’s life. Ironically, the certain someone’s life is Nora’s. In the end, he can’t kill Nora because he falls in love with her, as she does with him. Nora decides to sacrifice her life to kill the Nephilim and save Patch, but Patch refuses the sacrifice, resulting in Nora’s soul to be spared and he becomes her guardian angel. What I can’t understand is: Patch becomes a fallen angel because he falls in love with a human. Now he also falls in love with Nora. Shouldn’t he fall again? He repeats his first mistake! Why it’s different now? Also, there is a fact that an angel and even a fallen angel cannot feel anything physical. And yet, Patch falls because he is feeling lust for a woman he loves. Patch also explains to Nora that he cannot feel her touch but he can feel it emotionally inside his heart. He can also feel desire and lust for Nora. Isn’t it confusing? How does that work, anyway? Love might be emotional, but desire and lust are more physical than emotional, aren’t they? It will be logical if Patch can feel desire and lust for Nora when he controls the body of his Nephilim. There’s one more thing: Patch admits that he, at some point before he falls to the dark side, was a boyfriend of Dabria, a fellow angel. HOW COULD THAT BE? Why the book is so inconsistent????
• Nora is a kind of girl in the horror and thriller movies who always approaches danger rather than avoiding it and gets killed first. She gets into harmful accidents, and though in the end they turn out to be only illusions on her part, I cannot help thinking that there’s something wrong with her head. Seriously. Over and over again strange things happened to her, but it never occurs to her to ask for help or advice from adults, her mother, her teacher, or the police, until it is too late. No. She keeps suspecting Patch to be the cause of those creepy accidents, but, rather than staying away from him, she acts so stupid by confronting him directly. She is also so inconsistent. She keeps changing her opinion about Patch every second from bad to good to bad to good, again and again. She even manages to reveal Patch’s intention and he admits blatantly that he wants to kill her. Her reaction? She decides to trust him. All this time she keeps suspecting him and when her suspicion has been proven, she decides to believe that Patch will never hurt her. Unbeliavable. And so stupid. To know more about Patch, Nora does many stupid things like threatening the school with a bomb so that she can break into the students’ record office and look at the confidential file, stalking him and snooping for his information. How stupider she can get? Okay. Definitely, there is something wrong with her. She needs to be checked by a specialist. Not that she tends to do many unhealthy behaviors, she tends to have unhealthy symptoms as well. She keeps seeing illusion, she cannot thinking straight, and it seems her heart doesn’t work properly.
• Patch is an absolute bad boy. Many girls are attracted to bad boys. However, Patch is an outrageous bad boy. He consistently and continuously means Nora harm. His conversation with Nora always ends up with one of them saying nasty things, mostly him. He is an abusive and arrogant fallen angel who seems to take pleasure in intimidating and forcing himself on her physically, humiliating and assaulting her, stalking and violating her privacy, and the most important part, wanting and trying to kill her. There is nothing sexy and romantic about all of those. But somehow Nora finds these irresistible and alluring and falls for him. Badly.
• Against all odds, both of them fall in love with each other. How can that possible, anyway? Even if they are really into a relationship, I bet that it is an unhealthy one. What makes Nora like him anyway? The things that Nora thinks sexy, alluring, and attracting from Patch are delusion. Do not ever think that if a guy treats you nastily, either by his actions or his words, it means that he likes you. BIG NO. Do not ever think that if a guy says he wants to kill you, he is actually in love with you. BIG NO. Again. This is why there are so many cases of domestic violence. When a boy assault you, force you and humiliate you in public, it is not LOVE. It is a CRIME. As for Patch, somehow, as a fallen angel, he may have lived in the world much longer than mortal ones. It means that he has much longer time to observe the life around him. If he is such an abusive and arrogant jerk, which he is, shown from his actions and words against Nora, a too stupid and innocent girl like Nora is only a plaything. And maybe, that explains the way Patch treats Nora. Since the story is narrated by Nora, I know almost nothing about why Patch falls in love with Nora.
• What kind of parents that let her daughter go out the next day after her surgery after she was attacked the previous day? What kind of mother that let her daughter stays alone in the house if the father happened to be a victim of a murder?
• I had been in a biology class back then when I was still a high-schooler. I am pretty sure that the teacher never teach us to find as much as information on classmate sitting beside us. Because, as much as information here can involve private things that are inappropriate to be shared on class. What kind of biology is that? To my horror, the next class, the teacher asks about qualities you are attracted to in a potential mate. Is that biology? Even we have sex education class and I’m pretty sure that things like ‘potential mate’ and ‘how you let that certain person know that he/she is your potential’ are not on the lesson. When we learn reproduction system and sex education, we learn how to know and appreciate ourselves better, not to make us vulnerable to discuss something so private about what kind of man or woman we are attracted to. I mean, do you really want to discuss it in class with all your classmates and teacher. If I want to discuss something like that, I will choose my best friends or my sisters/brothers or my parents.
• What I truly can’t understand is: at that ‘biology class’, Patch humiliates Nora and makes her very uncomfortable. Instead of reprimanding him about it, the teacher encourages him! And no one in the class seems to care besides laughing at it, except Vee, it seems, but unfortunately she does that when the class is over already. And unfortunately, later she seems encourage Nora about him. What kind of best friend wants to do matchmaking between you and someone who certainly makes you uncomfortable? And later, when she admits that Patch makes her uncomfortable and asks for a change in seats, the teacher asks her to tutor Patch instead. What kind of teacher is that?
There are too many villains in this story. Everywhere Nora goes, there is always someone’s trying to kill her. Patch, at first, is acting like a real villain in the story. Even Vee, her best friend, who, at first, is so fun and full with best-friend material, suddenly becomes a pretty badass friend, meaning, another villain. It seems that everyone in this book is villain for Nora. No hero or heroine can survive that. Even when a hero or heroine must face what seems like an invincible and unbeatable villain, there is always someone to support and back him or her up. No hero or heroine should be alone in any story. At least, she or he should have good characters benefitting him or her throughout the story. Sadly, Nora lacks those as well. She’s totally hopeless.
The story is written in a very sloppy and too-revealing manner. I don’t know whether it is intended to meet particular word count required or not, but somehow I find so many misplaced details that have nothing to do with the story. I mean, instead of enriching the story, they tend to be annoying. But, when the details are not misplaced, they give too many hints and information. It makes the story lacking the suspense.
• To sum up, this book is more like paranormal romance rather than young adult fiction. The hero has the gift to turn everything normal into perverted things and the best friend of the heroine always thinks and talks about sex.

I try my best to read the book until the end and even finish the series (Yup. There are three books more of the series). Some people, after finding that the book they read doesn’t worthy their time, might throw away the book and want nothing to do anymore with the book and do not give a damn about the ending of the story or series, but it is not in my nature. I always want to know what happened in the end, so, even if sometimes it becomes unbearable, I always try to finish the whole series. Because this is only the first book of four, I always hope that the next books will be better. Sometimes they do be better, but sometimes they don’t. But still, I will give the series a second chance until the end, and when the ending is as bad as the beginning, I can never truly put the blame on the author.

I am a writer as well. Being a writer is easy but being a good one is not. I realize that to have a good idea of a story and to write a good story is totally different. I might have the best idea of story, but when it is written down, there’s no guarantee that the story will be the best written story. Two authors can retell one similar story with different result. One might be better than the other. One might be the worst retelling ever.

I cannot give it a high rating because, honestly, I do not enjoy the book. I can only appreciate it by reading it through the end.

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Review: The Titan’s Curse

The Titan's Curse
The Titan’s Curse by Rick Riordan

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“Five shall go west to the goddess in chains,
One shall be lost in the land without rain,
The bane of Olympus shows the trail,
Campers and Hunters combined prevail,
The Titan’s curse must one withstand,
And one shall perish by a parent’s hand.”

Have you ever heard the phrase “to carry the weight of the world on one’s shoulder”? Ever wondered about the origin of the phrase?

After ending the second book with a real cliffhanger, Rick Riordan brings us to the more complicated and mind-blowing adventures of the series Percy Jackson and the Olympians in this third book titled Titan’s Curse.

It is destined by the Great Prophecy that the demigods of one of the eldest gods (Zeus, Poseidon, and Hades) will play a great role to either save the world or destroy it when he/she turns 16. Being the son of Poseidon, and the only known demigod of one of the Big Gods, Percy Jackson has only two years more to fulfill the prophecy. However, everything changes when the Golden Fleece supposed to strengthen the magical border of Camp Half-Blood by curing the poisoned Thalia’s tree does it magic far too well. The fleece also revives Thalia, the daughter of Zeus, giving Kronos an extra opportunity to control the prophecy. Now, there are two possible child of prophecy, and one of them needs only one year more to fulfill it…

Now 14-years-old Percy Jackson, together with Thalia and Annabeth, is doing a favor Grover has done for him two years ago, finding two strong demigods Bianca and Nico di Angelo and bringing them back to the protection of Camp Half-Blood. Due to one or more stubborn decisions, their plan doesn’t work well, leading to the kidnapping of Annabeth and their meeting with the Hunters of Artemis. With a mission to hunt a certain creature in hand, Artemis orders her hunters to stay at Camp Half-Blood until her return, so both parties combine forces and leave for the camp, minus Annabeth and Artemis.

However, it is not the last time that they need to combine forces, since, through his dreams, Percy learns Annabeth’s whereabouts, revealing that Artemis has also fallen into the same enemy kidnapping Annabeth. With the prophecy given by walking Oracle to Zoe Nightshade, the loyal lieutenant of Artemis, a team of five is determined to save the maidens from the Titan’s curse…

What I do love from this book
• Nico di Angelo!!! I love this boy. Even before I know his Greek parent. I like his innocence, strength, character, and capability. What a quality befitting the son of Hades, my favorite God in Greek mythology.
• In this book, there are so many other Greek Gods reveal themselves. Artemis, Apollo, Athena, and Aphrodite. Notice how their names start with ‘A’? Anyway, unlike the appearance of Dionysus, I can accept theirs in this book.
• I truly love this part:
“Apollo’s hot,” said Thalia.
“He’s the sun god,” said Percy.
“That’s not what I meant,” replied Thalia.
Oh Percy and his sarcasm.
• Apollo truly loves his sister, doesn’t he? He even risks the Ancient Laws by giving clues to Percy and others in order to help his sister.
• Never guess that the marine cow-like creature called the Ophiotaurus, or Bessie by Percy, is the creature that Artemis seeks. Since it is said that the creature is a powerful monster that has the power to bring down the gods, I kind of expect it to be as fearsome as Typhon. The moral value: something looked so harmless can be proven otherwise.
• Dionysus shows off his power when Percy and the others are cornered by Dr. Thorn after learning about Ophiotaurus. Isn’t it forbidden for him to use his powers? It reminds us that Mr. D is a god after all.
• Thalia’s decision to take Zoe’s place as the lieutenant of Hunters of Artemis, so that she will never turn 16 and become the child of prophecy. In a way, it is a noble idea. However, she puts the weight of the prophecy back to Percy’s shoulder.
• Finally we get the glimpse of the council of the gods in this book, though their topic of the council is whether they should kill Percy or not.

What I don’t like from this book
• This is the first book in the series which involves the death of its protagonists, Bianca di Angelo and Zoe Nightshade. Both of them are my less favorite characters in this book. I do not truly appreciate Bianca’s decision to join the Hunters of Artemis, partly convinced by Zoe, because in doing so she abandons her brother, Nico. Despite my thinking that it is maybe the only process for Nico to be more independent and though her behaviors showing how she cares for her brother a lot in other occasions, I still hate the part when she decides to join the Hunters.
• Still cannot believe that Apollo is terrible at haikus. He is the god of poetry, for God’s sake! But it turns out that his horrible haiku help Percy to notice him immediately when he is in disguise to give advises to Percy and others to help her sister.
• The irony of Thalia’s fear of height despite her being the daughter of Zeus, the ruler of the sky.
• Cannot fathom the idea that Annabeth and Percy manage to hold up the sky, an eternal curse given to Atlas the Titan, even for just a moment. But imagine what will happen if they fail to manage that. There will be no story to told anymore. And we don’t want the story of Percy Jackson to end, right?
• The cliffhanger of the book. Nico tells Percy how he hates him for not saving Bianca, awakening his true power and identity as the son of Hades. AND since Hades is one of the eldest gods, it means that Nico di Angelo is possible child of the prophecy as well (even though he is literally has long passed 16 since he is trapped in that Lotus Hotel and Casino for more than 70 years, which means that technically Hades hasn’t broken the oath, since the three big gods have sworn the oath about 60 years ago and at that time Bianca and Nico should be born already (or being hidden in Lotus Hotel and Casino).
• As far as I know, Hades is very loyal to his wife, Persephone. How could he have Bianca and Nico di Angelo with a mortal is beyond me. However, I rather curious about what kind of power his demigod will have, so I think I will overlook this fact. It is ironic though, even the daughter of the ruler of the Underworld cannot escape death.
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Review: The Sea of Monsters

The Sea of Monsters
The Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“You shall sail the iron ship with warriors of bone,
You shall find what you seek and make it your own,
But despair for your life entombed within stone,
And fail without friends, to fly home alone!”

Do you have a brother or a sister you are proud of? Or, quite the contrary, a brother or a sister you are ashamed of? Make no mistake, sometimes a person you don’t truly like at first will be your best buddy in the end. You just need to be more considerate.

This year, 13-years-old Percy Jackson has to face yet other challenges since he is claimed as the son of Poseidon. His satyr friend, Grover, shows up in his dream, running from the Cyclops Polyphemus. He and his big schoolmate, Tyson, are attacked by Laistrygonian Giants. The only place supposed to be safe for demigods, Camp Half-Blood, is under attack. An unknown intruder has poisoned Thalia’s three, weakening the protection it casts to keep away any monsters from attacking the camp. Chiron the Centaur is fired as the suspected intruder since he is the son of Kronos, the Titan who is on the verge of awakening to oppose the Olympians. His replacement is a guy summoned from the Fields of Punishment named Tantalus who seems to love making his life miserable.

However, it seems that the hardest challenge for Percy is the fact that Tyson is turned out to be a son of Poseidon, which means he is Percy’s half-brother. It is not because of Tyson’s tendency to be bullied back at the school that makes Percy ashamed of having him as a brother. It is also not because he should share his cabin with Tyson. It is because Tyson is a young Cyclops. It is because other campers mock their relationship. It is because he runs into argument with Annabelle and her strong dislike to cyclops in general.

Even so, the trio (Percy, Tyson, and Annabelle) are sent by Hermes to retrieve Golden Fleece, the artifact believed to be able to save Thalia’s tree, as well as to save Grover from the Cyclops. They sail to the Sea of Monsters, or the Bermuda Triangle, to complete the quest. However, they are not the only party searching for Golden Fleece…

The Sea of Monsters is the second book of the series Percy Jackson and the Olympians.

What I do love from this book
• The baby Cyclops Tyson. I guess it is the first time I’ve ever read about an innocent and warm-hearted Cyclops being the protagonist. I feel sorry for him when Percy feels embarrassed to have him as a half-brother. He adores Percy too much.
• Though at first I feel sorry for Tantalus due to the curse that prevent him to be able to eat anything, somehow I feel satisfied with his suffering and stupid attempts to grab food in the camp. It is such an irony for him that he still can’t have any food in Camp Half-Blood where you can ask for any food and have them materialized immediately.
• And I’m extremely satisfied when Dionysus decides to dismiss him and return him to the Fields of Punishment exactly at the moment when he finally able to grab the food he’s chasing.
• Percy has a very awesome power to be able to know the exact location leading to the Sea of Monsters only by the longitude and latitude. Hey, hey, does that give you an idea? Bring along all the treasure maps you have and let Percy lead us to the exact location! It’s too bad that the power is limited to the sea only.

What I don’t like from this book
• This is the shortest book in the series. The bookworm inside me screams for more pages.
• Why, from all of possible replacements, should Tantalus be the replacement of Chiron? I hate him so much. It seems that he should be thrown into Tartarus instead of the Fields of Punishment.
• Though I do not truly like Dyonisus’ appearance in Percy Jackson series, I kind of miss him in this book. I love his tendency to calls people wrongly and to threat to change them into dolphin or something.
• The Gray Sisters mention that they have transported the original Jason, but they are never mentioned in the original myth. Some argue that maybe they mean Jason the protagonist of Heroes of Olympus, but somehow, all mythical beings in the series always use the word ‘original’ or ‘the first’ in front of the name if they truly refer to the original myth. Does it mean that Rick Riordan makes a mistake here?
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Review: The Lightning Thief

The Lightning Thief
The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

You shall go west, and face the god who has turned.
You shall find what was stolen, and see it safely returned.
You shall be betrayed by one who calls you a friend.
And you shall fail to save what matters most, in the end.

Have you, by any chance, suffered from one of these symptoms?
• The inability to sit still, or stay still, for a long period of time
• The urge to do something, or anything at all, which involves physical motion
• The inability to read or spell or pronounce words
• Surprisingly awesome skill in Latin
• Severe hallucinations and delusions
• The tendency to be involved in a problem, sometimes serious problem

If you suffer from the first and second symptoms, you are an ADHD sufferer. If you suffer from the third symptoms, you are dyslexic. However, if you have all the symptoms above, you might want to take a deep breath before I tell you something that definitely will change your life forever. Oh, before that, I want to make sure some extra things. Do you, by any chance, come from a single-parent family? Or have difficulty with nasty stepmother or stepfather? Has either your mom or your dad passed away since you are so small to remember a face or a voice?

If you answer all my questions with a “yes”, then I must give you my congratulation and condolence. Congratulation! You are, one hundred percent, demigod. Yes. You are half mortal and half immortal. One of your parents is a Greek god. You are special kids with special powers. But here comes my condolence because your life will get more difficult ahead, harmed by dangerous quests, monsters drawn to your power, and, the enemies of your god parent. Only you can determine whether you will survive or not. Are you scared? Don’t worry. Even the greatest demigods should start from zero at first. Like Percy Jackson, the main hero in this story.

Rick Riordan has created the most unbelievable epic and great adventure ever based on my most favorite theme, Greek myth! He answers all my questions about the possibilities of the immortal existence of Greek gods. If Greek gods do exist and they are indeed immortal, I always wonder what will happen to them with the advance of technologies and times. I mean, they are originally from ancient Greece; will they always be like their original description forever? And since fidelity is not their nature, should there be more Hercules, Perseus, or Helen up to this day? Where are they? What will happen to them? Rick Riordan answers them all in a very addictive series of Percy Jackson and the Olympians. I love the story, the cliffhangers, and the humors (yeah, many times I caught myself giggling while reading them!).

The Lightning Thief is the first book of the series Percy Jackson and the Olympians

Percy Jackson, a 12 year old boy with ADHD and dyslexia, tends to get into troubles. He has been expelled from many schools. His teacher changes into a monster and tries to kill him, but it turns out that the teacher doesn’t exist, according to other students. A Minotaur tries to kill him, his mother, and his friend Grover, who turns out to be a satyr. He learns the truth about him being a demigod and comes to Camp Half-Blood, a place for demigods where he is supposed to be safe. But not really. His father claims him publicly and he is no other than Poseidon himself, one of the three eldest gods (along with Zeus and Hades) who have sworn an oath for more than 60 years ago that they will not have demigod children since they will possess too great power that can affect the course of human events. Percy’s existence is a violation of the oath. Moreover, Zeus’ lightning bolt has been stolen recently, leading to suspicions among the gods. Percy must prove his innocence and prevent the incoming war between the three gods by finding the lightning thief and returning the stolen weapon. Following the prophecy by Delphi, he sets into a dangerous quest with Grover the satyr and Annabeth Chase, the daughter of Athena.

What I do love from this book
• The adaptation of the Greek gods to today America. Expect to find the mighty Mount Olympus on the 600th floor of the Empire State Building. Expect to find that Apollo has flying bus rather than a sun chariot. Expect to find Ares battle with gatling gun or even rocket launcher. Expect to what to be expected.
• Camp Half-Blood and its cabins, where the demigods sleep with their siblings from their god parent.
• The amusing habit of Dionysus to call people by wrong names yet still with similar rhyme and his strange tendency to want to change Percy into a dolphin.
• Riptide. I always want a weapon that can reappear in my pocket. That way, I don’t need to be afraid of losing my weapon.
• Annabeth’s invisibility cap. There are so many things I want to do by being invisible, which definitely cannot be written here.
• There are waiting lists to get across the Styx? Chiron needs a pay raise? And Cerberus is a huge three-headed puppy longing to play ball! Even the Underworld has adapted to the civilization, though it is still gloomy.
• The sarcastic and hilarious titles of each chapter and the great sense of humor of Percy Jackson as the narrator.

What I don’t like from this book
• I still find the fact that Zeus manages to keep an oath to have no children for more than 70 years totally unbelievable. Well, he cannot keep the oath by having Thalia Grace, yet for more than 70 years he doesn’t have any demigod children beside Thalia. It is too amazing.
• Dionysus’s appearance. He is supposed to be quite handsome. In the first book of Greek myth I’ve read, his handsomeness is described almost best Apollo’s. So, I kind of disappointed to read that he has a chubby face, a red nose and bloodshot eyes in this series. Or maybe he chooses this appearance because of Zeus’s punishment for him to be the camp director of Camp Half-Blood for a century? Or maybe it is because he is forbidden to drink wine or to do anything related to grapes? If it is the case, I think I understand. I mean, it is similar to forbid Poseidon to control water or to punish Ares to arrange flowers instead of handling weapons. For a century, no less! Poor Mr. D.
• The idea that Ares, the god of war, almost loses to Percy, a demigod. Well, though Percy is his cousin, he is still half human and mortal. I guess, for a young demigod who just has learned about himself not long ago, he is too strong to be able to almost beat a god. Maybe it is because Ares is under the influence of Kronos?
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Review: Radiant Darkness

Radiant Darkness
Radiant Darkness by Emily Whitman

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

If you are as obsessed with Greek mythology as I am, you must know that love is one of hot topics among the Greeks. There are countless love stories in Greek mythology: romantic, tragic, ironic, epic, just name it. However, among them, only one story I love the most: the story of Hades and Persephone. Seriously? Yeah. I know. Unless ‘death’ and ‘kidnapping’ suddenly become romantic, unless the idea to be married to someone you don’t love is lovable, it is very difficult to relate those words to a love story. No worries, I have my reasons to be enchanted with their story (I will give my reasons after the summary) and I’m not the only one thinking like that.

In Greek mythology, the story of Hades and Persephone is often called “The Rape of Persephone”. It says that Persephone, daughter of Zeus and Demeter, the goddess of harvest, was picking flowers in the Vale of Enna when a fragrant narcissus tempted her close. The moment she snapped the flower’s stem, the earth split open. Hades, the lord of the underworld, appeared and carried her off screaming and struggling. When Demeter learned her daughter was trapped in the Underworld after searching for her daughter with no result on the earth, she withdrew from gods and mankind, vowing that no crops would grow until she saw Persephone again. Famine devastated the earth. Finally, Zeus commanded Hermes to bring Persephone home. But Hades had already fed her pomegranate seeds binding her to his side forever. Each winter, when Persephone lives underground, the earth shivers and nothing grows. Each spring, Persephone returns to her mother, and the earth bursts into bloom.

Emily Whitman and I do wonder the same thing: what would it be if Persephone wasn’t carried back and forth against her will? What would it be if she made her own choice? Thus, Radiant Darkness is born. I should say, this is the best retelling about Hades and Persephone I’ve ever read. Though it gives an impression of simplicity in narration and characterization, this book does not fail to mesmerize me. The way the story is written so superb; each description of the places and the moments is genuine and alive that I can imagine every detail easily.

The story is told from the first-person point of view, namely our heroine, Persephone. She begins the story by conveying her regret about the myth saying that she was kidnapped and forced by Hades and she’d like to set the record straight after thousands of years of untruth. She first explains how she hates her immortality, trapping in the closed vale made by her mother like a little child needing her protection from the outside world. Though she always says that she is ready to go to the mortal world with her mother, her mother never gives her permission to leave the vale. So there she is, sleeping in the same bed every day, doing the same things every day, weaving on her loom, walking in the meadow, playing with her nymph friends, enjoying the trees, the flowers and the greenery every day. For eternity. Even an immortal will get bored by that.

One day, an unknown sweet smell somewhere in the vale calls her. She follows the smell and finds a clearing in the meadow she never sets her foot on. She finds the source of the heady smell, an unfamiliar white flower blooming in the meadow. And she finds something else along with the meadow and the flower. A strange man is there with a black chariot pulled by black horses, with a gold three-headed dog decorating the chariot. Having never seen a man in the vale before, Persephone runs away before the man speaks to her. Yet, she doesn’t tell Demeter a thing at all from fear that Demeter will trap her inside the house if she knows about the man.

The next day, Persephone goes to the same meadow to see whether the man comes again and decides to let the man speak to her. The man greets her, and that is the beginning of their relationship on that secret place only they know. They meet and talk and get closer each day. He knows her name, admits that she intrigues him, yet Persephone never asks his name, until she accidentally weaves the three-headed dog on her cloth. She learns about Hades from Demeter feeling disgusted by the idea that Cerberus roams in the vale, though Persephone says that she sees the dog in her dream instead.

Thus, Persephone confronts Hades in their next meeting telling him that she knows who he is, thinking that Hades only plays around with her, that a god of his caliber won’t have anything to do with her. Hades uses the opportunity to reveal his true intention, that he wants her as his queen to rule beside him forever in the Underworld. He notices her power and decides she is the perfect match for him. He asks her, truly asks her, to go with him and stay in the Underworld forever with him. He even warns her that once she comes, she cannot go back.

Hating her routine in her heavenly prison of the vale, Persephone thinks it will be a great change in her immortal life. For her, there is no better way than spending her rest of eternity with the man she loves. So, she decides to come to the Underworld without telling Demeter and her friends. There she goes in a black chariot of him, plunging into the depth of the earth. From that day, Underworld has got its queen, a willing one, too. She cherishes her new life, creates her own garden in the Underworld, and befriends new immortal friends (Thanatos and Hermes) and a dead mortal friend.

For a moment, she is a happy goddess, queen, friend, and wife. She is blind to the consequences of her decision to the earth above. Until her curiosity get the best of her and she demands to know what happened on earth above since there are more and more dead souls coming to the Underworld. The dead tells her that the earth is on the verge of its downfall. Severe drought hits the world, nothing can grow on earth anymore, and terrible famine kills most humans. She realizes that her mother is the one behind the catastrophe and the most possible reason why the goddess will do something like that is her decision to leave, that her mother thinks she is taken against her will.

Hermes comes under Zeus’ order to bring Persephone back to the earth because of Demeter’s threat that she will let water showering the earth and drowning everything on the earth unless Zeus gives her daughter back. Persephone uses the opportunity to end the sufferings her mother unleashes to the world and ask Zeus’ blessing for her marriage to Hades. Before leaving the Underworld, she promises to Hades that she will come back to his side. They share pomegranate seeds without her knowing that any food she eats in the Underworld will bind her forever to the realm.

In front of her mother and father (though the story does not reveal Zeus’ identity as Persephone’s father), Persephone explains that she comes to the Underworld by her own will. She admits her love to Hades and her intention to return to his side. Demeter realizes the irony that she actually destroys the world under the false assumption that she is saving her daughter from the lord of the dead. Torn between the truth that her mother actually loves her and her love to Hades as well as the fact that she has been bound forever to the Underworld and her belief that her mother will not stop grieving if she leaves her behind, Persephone asks Zeus to give her the ability to go back and forth between the earth and Underworld. Thus, Persephone the Goddess of Spring is born. Her staying and leaving the earth explains the rotation of spring and winter in a year.

The story about her being kidnapped by Hades against her will has been spread around the world. Though she wants to explain the truth, Persephone decides to let the mortals believe in that story. Those people has been through drought and famine and flood for almost a year. They need the story to believe that they has suffered for a reason. Thus, the story remains as it is today.

I am truly in love with this book from the moment I read the first page until, unfortunately, I flip the last page. I love everything in this book. What I don’t love about this book is the fact that, like other books, this book should end as well. The story is ended with Persephone throws herself into the loving embrace of Hades after she spends her time with her mother on earth. Such a perfect ending, and yet my mind weeps, asking for more. This book is, definitely, will be included on my list of the books I will never get bored to reread.

Now, I want to tell you my reasons for loving the story of Hades and Persephone. I do condemn Hades’ way to marry Persephone by taking her against her will. However, there are so many other things that make me thing that Hades is not the villain in this case.

• It is told that Hades falls in love with Persephone and after watching her for many times from his realm, he decides to go to Olympus and ask Zeus’ blessing to take Persephone as his bride. Zeus decides that it is a good idea, yet he doesn’t bother to tell Persephone or Demeter about this. So, I decide to put the blame on Zeus instead. Though there is a possibility that Zeus thinks that Demeter or Persephone may not agree with the arrangement, but his decision not to let them know cannot be justified.
• The myth says that Hades decides to kidnap Persephone because he is sure that Demeter will never allow their union since she wants to keep her daughter naive and virgin forever by her side. It is a case of a very over-protective mother. I wonder whether Persephone truly wants such life set by her mother for her. By deciding such life for Persephone, Demeter has forced Persephone to lead the predetermined life and who knows, it can be against Persephone’s will.
• Helios, the only god witnessing the kidnapping of Persephone cheers the grieving Demeter that Hades is a good husband for her daughter.
• In some versions of the myth, it is told that Hades is so kind and patient, showering Persephone with many gifts, giving her the opportunity to rule along side with him, even letting her make some changes in the Underworld. He even builds her throne next to his throne. It shows how Hades truly loves her. He is the only God who lets his consort has an equal position with his.
• Hades agrees to let Hermes brings Persephone back to the earth but he secretly slips some pomegranate seeds into her mouth before she leaves. It shows two contradictory perspective. Some might condemn it as an evil trickery of Hades to ensure that Persephone will be returned to him. Some might think that it shows how Hades doesn’t want Persephone to be taken from him. And since it is told that Hades is in love with her, I will vote for the last.
• It is said that eventually, Persephone begins to love Hades back. So, even though Hades uses a violent way by kidnapping her, in the end, they love each other. And it is said that Hades is very faithful husband (except some accidents with some nymphs). Compared to Zeus, Hades is more husband material. So, just accept it as the story of a goddess of life falls in love with the lord of the dead.
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Review: A Night in Terror Tower

A Night in Terror Tower
A Night in Terror Tower by R.L. Stine

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Goosebumps lovers will surely love this one…

American tourists Sue and her younger brother, Eddie, spend an average day exploring London when Eddie takes an interest on Terror Tower. Both of them join a small group of tourists with a guide leading them from room to room, explaining and narrating the tragic story of Prince Edward and Princess Susannah of York. However, before Sue can actually listen to the end of the story, Eddie distracts her by breaking her camera. When the commotion finally comes to a halt, they realize that the group has left them behind. And yet, they have to realize so many unusual things ahead.

They realize that they are completely alone in that tower, with a mysterious man in black spying on them earlier attempts to capture and kill them. They realize that the suite where their parents are supposed to wait for them is empty and no registration has been made for the room. They realize that their pocket money is worthless. They realize that they cannot remember even their last names. They realize that there’s something wrong with their memories or there’s something wrong with their surroundings. They realize that the three white stones in Eddie’s possession are not mere stones. Now, they realize that they must do something to escape from their terrible fate…

I definitely love the time-travel idea and the happy ending. Goosebumps series rarely have happy ending. Normally, when you think it is a happy ending, there will be a twist on the last paragraph or sentence that ruins the happy ending and practically turns it to a bad ending. Something to be reflected on this story: What does it feel to listen to your own story being told by somebody else to captivated audiences?
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