When the characters get in the way of the story.

5.  The Last Magician by Lisa Maxwell

What it’s About:  Esta travels through time to steal magical artifacts, and keep them out of the hands of the evil Order.  Her most recent job lands her in 1902, where she must navigate a world of gangs and secret societies to find a book containing the se3crets of not just The Order, but also the dark energy barrier called The Brink.

4.  Ever the Hunted by Erin Summerill

What it’s about:  When Britta is caught poaching, she is given the option of avoiding punishment by catching the Cohen McKay, her father’s former apprentice and accused murderer. 

What I Thought:  I just couldn’t bring myself to care about either of these books enough to get through them.  The characters just seemed completely uninteresting to me.  I don’t know, I’ve seen some other reviewers who had similar issues, but both books also have their fair share of fans.  Maybe I’ll try picking them up later, to see if I just wasn’t in the right mood for them, but for now I just couldn’t get into either of these.

3.  Zenith by Sasha Alsberg and Lindsay Cummings

What it’s About:  Androma Racella was once set to be the bodyguard of her best friend, but when the friend died in a tragic accident, she was held responsible and sentenced to death.  She escaped and now leads a group of mercenaries in the starship Marauder.  But when they are tracked down by a mercenary with whom Androma shares a complicated history, Androma is given the option of having her record wiped clean if she rescues the brother of her dead best friend, who has been abducted as part of a long running galactic war.

What I Thought:  I talked about this one before, it’s become a lightning rod with arguments that anyone who likes it is a fan or friend of Sash Alsberg (a popular booktuber) and that anyone who doesn’t like it is just jealous because they think Alsberg got a book deal handed to her due to her celebrity.  At the end of the day this book has all the pieces to be an excellent read, but it doesn’t come together, in large part due to the heroes being the most self-righteous group of space pirates ever assembled.  Lira works with killers but totally isn’t one, and our main character Androma always finds someone other than herself to blame for how her life has turned out.  It’s a shame, because it could have been great.

2.  The Love Interest by Cale Dietrich

What it’s About:   Caden and Dylan are spies sent by a secret organization to get close to a girl who is meant to have a great destiny.  Caden’s job is to play the boy next door, while Dylan is there to be the bad boy.  The girl will pick one of them, and the other will be killed.  But what if they develop feelings not for the girl, but for each other?

What I Thought:  A fun self-aware book.  It’s okay.  It feels like it could have been more than just okay, but it’s content to just scratch the surface of its potential.  Not terrible, not great, neither the characters nor the world get a whole lot of depth.  I’ll keep an eye out for Dietrich’s upcoming books, but I can’t say this one is going to stick with me.

  1.  Renegades by Marissa Meyer

What it’s About:  In a world of superpowers, the prodigies are split into two camps, the heroic Renegades, and the villainous Anarchists.  But Nova is convinced that she and the other Anarchists are the real heroes, and she goes undercover in the Renegades to help destroy them.

What I Thought:  I’ve also talked about this one before; it’s an enjoyable story with a couple of major issues.  First, after initially being a trilogy, and then becoming a standalone, it is now a duology, and the first book seems to come to the climax and then just keep going, ultimately ending in what was presumably meant to be part of book two of the trilogy.  There are also a handful of chapters that could have been cut or had something more happen in them.  Perhaps some interaction with the Renegades squad that serve as rivals to Nova’s team?  The bigger issue is with the two main characters.  Nova blames the Renegades for her family being murdered because her uncle, the leader of the Anarchists, told her that the Renegades had promised to protect them and then abandoned them to their fates.  The problem is that it seems blatantly obvious that the uncle should be suspect number one in the massacre, and Nova blindly following of him is rather frustrating, especially when she sneers about how stupid the rest of the world is.  Then there’s Adrian, who leads the team of Renegades as Sketch, but who shows up in a new secret identity as the Sentinel at the beginning of the book, which causes a significant amount of confusion and helps lead to one of his teammates being injured.  And he just keeps showing up as the Sentinel, apparently not caring that he could be putting his friends in danger!  I just seemed selfish, no matter what his reasons for adopting the secret identity were.

Published by Andrew Clendening