Not every reader will connect with a hyped book. Here are ten YA series I was not able to finish–and some of them may surprise you!
Amora Montara has trained her entire life to take the throne as High Animancer of Visidia. To prove herself, she must publicly execute a criminal using the highly dangerous soul magic–magic only her family possesses. When her demonstration goes wrong, however, Amora finds herself on the run with a pirate. He claims the kingdom is in jeopardy from a dangerous rebel who is forcing citizens to practice more than one type of magic–a crime that could bring ruin upon them all. Now, Amora must stop the rebellion if she is to prove herself fit to wear the crown.
When I finally got a copy of book two, I realized I was having trouble remembering which YA series it was the sequel to because it sounded pretty similar to at least two other series I had been reading. I also remembered that the whole world seemed a little too inspired by Avatar: The Last Airbender. I figured I probably would not be missing out if I just returned the book to the library. I was surprised to find that I had actually given the first book four stars after finishing it, since I could barely remember the book a year later! (And I still don’t know if this is a series or a duology, actually.)
Children of Blood and Bone (Legacy of Orïsha)
When she was six, Zélie Adebola saw her mother killed for her magic. Now, there is no magic left in the land of Orïsha. But then she meets a runaway princess carrying a scroll that she claims can bring the magic back. And suddenly Zélie is travelling with her brother and the princess in a race to bring together a group of artifacts before the solstice. Only then can they ensure that magic will return for good. But a disgraced prince is hot on their trail.
I’m not a fan of the enemies-to-lovers trope, especially when a book suggests that a guy committing mass murder…isn’t all that bad? Also, the plot is basically the same as Avatar: The Last Airbender: a disgraced prince hunts the hero, who must collect certain artifacts and show up with them at a specific place and time to save the world. Reading book two just did not interest me.
Karou is an art student in the city of Prague whose friends have no idea that the half-human half-creature drawings in her sketchbook are real. But Karou has no idea who her parents are, only that she was raised by Brimstone, a “monster” who collects teeth in exchange for granting wishes. Her two worlds collide when black handprints begin to appear on all the portal doors that lead to Brimstone’s shop and a mysterious, captivating seraph begins asking her all the questions to which she does not know the answers.
Probably this book is innovative enough that it is actually a gripping read. However, paranormal romance is far from my genre of choice, so I did not keep up with the later books.
In a futuristic Chicago, all citizens choose one of five Factions at the age of sixteen: Abnegation, Amity, Candor, Dauntless, or Erudite. Their faction becomes their family. Beatrice “Tris” Prior has grown up in Abnegation, learning to forget herself and serve others. But on the day of her choosing, she picks Dauntless. Now, she must survive her initiation, convincing herself and others that this is where she belongs. Because someone told her she could have chosen one of three Factions, that she is really Divergent.
Sorry, but I didn’t love Divergent! The plot premise seems a little far-fetched and, well, this is yet another dystopian series that does not seem to offer anything really new or exciting.
It’s 1892 and Abigail Rook is newly arrived in New Fiddleham, New England after having run away from home in search of adventure. First, however, she needs a job. After scouring the city with little luck, Abigail answers an advertisement for an investigative assistant, the specialty of the service being the unexplained. Enter R. F. Jackaby, a detective of sorts who claims that he can see magical creatures no one else can. When the police cannot solve a crime, Jackaby follows the supernatural evidence to find the real culprit (even if the police don’t believe him). Abigail is skeptical at first, too, but her first day on the job finds her on the scene of a serial murderer, the villain whom Jackaby says isn’t human. Can the pair solve the mystery before the killer strikes again? Or will they be the next ones to lose their lives?
I enjoyed book one while I was reading it, but it does suffer from an anachronistic protagonist (common in YA), as well as some really obvious plot “twists.” I guess I did not like the book as much as I thought I did, or I would have grabbed the rest of the series.
Cinder, a gifted mechanic, and cyborg finds her fate intertwined with that of Prince Kai’s. And now the fate of the world rests in her hands. A retelling of “Cinderella” starts off this series.
I read the first book, Cinder, because everyone was raving about the series. To me, however, book one did not seem all that noteworthy. Perhaps the series improved, but I did not care enough to find out.
The Maze Runner
Thomas wakes up in an elevator remembering nothing but his first name. When the doors open, he finds himself surrounded by a pack of boys who call themselves the Gladers, and who all arrived in the same place just as he did. They formed a community within the four walls that protect them from the surrounding Maze and the monsters it contains—giant mechanical horrors known as Grievers. Each day the boys send out a series of runners into the Maze in the hopes that they will find a way out. When a girl arrives in the elevator, however, bearing the message that she is the very last, the boys realize that they only have a few days to decode the secret of the Maze and find their way home—or they will all perish.
If I recall, I read books one and two, and then I stopped caring. The plot lost momentum, and the addition of a bunch of half novels–which were really popular at one point as a way, I presume, to milk more money out of a bestselling series–just annoyed me. I do not appreciate half novels at all. They are just filler, because everything important needs to happen in the main series. And they really just take advantage of readers who are completionists and need the whole set.
Jacob grew up hearing his grandfather’s stories about being raised in an orphanage where the children possessed unusual abilities from super strength to levitation, an orphanage that was the only place they were safe from the monsters. For a time Jacob believed these stories, until his father explained them away. But then his grandfather dies from a mysterious attack and Jacob swears that, for a moment, he saw the monsters, too. To convince himself of his own sanity, Jacob travels to the island where Miss Peregrine’s orphanage once stood and explores the abandoned mansion in search of his grandfather’s past. His search reveals an incredible secret–the fact that the orphans might still be alive.
All the reviews billed this read as strikingly inventive and creepy. However, once the big reveal came, the book devolved into a pretty standard fantasy. In the end, the only thing that made the book really seem different to me is the inclusion of the weird old photographs.
In Mare Barrow’s world, those with Silver blood possess magical powers and live as gods. Those born with Red blood, such as herself, are reduced to a life of poverty and near-slavery. Mare does what she can to help provide for her family, working as a pickpocket in the village. Then one day a new life opens up for her, a chance to work in the capital. But one misstep reveals to the world that she possesses what no Red can–a magical ability similar to that possessed by the Silvers. To conceal the truth, the royal family proclaims her a long-lost Silver princess. But Mare has never before played the game of court politics and, in this game, one wrong move will cost her her life.
In my review of Red Queen, I noted that the dystopian genre seemed played out and that this book contained all the familiar plot elements, without making them feel new. I also laughed at the love square.
Daughter of a famed Valorian general, seventeen-year-old Kestrel can either join the military or marry, but all she really wants is to make music. All her plans crumble, however, the day she goes to the market and buys a slave. Soon Kestrel has lost her heart and no longer knows where her true duty lies.
Stereotypical characters, a love triangle, and the dreaded protagonist who is called intelligent but always makes unintelligent choices, all lead this one to be a disappointing read for me. I briefly considered picking up the sequel, but never did.