Fae’s Destruction (Queens of the Fae Book 3) by M. Lynn and Melissa Craven

Is it read-worth? I’d love to one day be able to say yes. Sadly, today’s not that day. I really wanted to like the series overall, but it just felt short to me. My honest opinion is that M. Lynn and Melissa Craven should use these three books as a rough draft for a future series. With a little bit of tweaking, they could have something amazing. They just need to spice it up, improve the interactions between characters, and put some more space in between events. The Queens of the Fae series has the potential to be great. It’s just not actually great. 

However, I would also like to say that Fae’s Destruction did stand out compared to the rest of the series. There was finally a plot twist! I loved seeing something unexpected happen. By the third book, I was expecting more of the same every other Faerie book does. It felt like everything was going to be a knock-off.

I never would have foreseen that Brea and Griff would actually go through with their marriage. I expected that it would be cancelled last minute, similarly to other books. I am so glad that it wasn’t! This series has reminded me far too much of other popular fantasy series and I really wanted something about it to stand out. A forced marriage that the characters actually follow through on? It’s at least something new to me. 

Plus, I find the concept of marriage magic really intriguing. I wanted to learn more about how it works. However, the ending of the book really let me down. Spoiler alert: marriage magic felt like something permanent and it ended up having an easy fix. It was disappointing to get such a bare-bones happy ending. I was just hoping for more. An unhappy ending might have been enough for me to feel like this book was finished. 

Of course, maybe they’re planning on writing future books. It came across like they were at least considering it. I’m hoping if they do they can revisit the descriptions of how fae magic works. I wanted more details during the entire series. The descriptions and explanations we got seemed half-hearted. For example, Brea was barely trained and yet could fight off the strongest Fae Queen. It seemed unrealistic even for a fantasy book.

And, if she is really that strong, I’d really like for them to tackle the dangers of that. There must be a reason that the different magics don’t mix. Brea was utterly unique in having blood from multiple magical countries. Why is that? Is there something dangerous about mixing magics? What will that mean for her future children? Will their magic overpower them? I want to know more.

All in all, this series has a lot of potential. It just needs more work, more details, and better writing. I hope M. Lynn and Melissa Craven continue growing as writers (Fae’s Destruction was much better than the beginning of the series) and release new books. Heck, I kind of want them to rewrite this one! Give me more! 

Back of the Book (Amazon.com)

Brea Robinson is a prisoner.

Granted, her prison has gilded halls, servants, and an aunt intent on throwing a lavish wedding. A wedding for Brea. Fae marriages are unbreakable, everlasting. 

As Brea barrels toward her forever prison in a marriage to a man she doesn’t love, the three Fae kingdoms are thrown into turmoil. But no matter how close Queen Regan’s enemies get, it won’t be enough to save Brea from the fate she chose. 

Some sacrifices result in death. Others only make you wish for death. 

Brea didn’t surrender herself to the powerful Fargelsi Queen for nothing. She saved her best friend and found the missing princess. She said goodbye to the man she loved so he could reclaim his throne. 

Everything has a purpose, everyone has a role to play and if marrying the wrong brother is hers, at least she’ll help bring an end to this war. 

Because Queen Regan O’Rourke might be family, but her rule is over. 

It’s time for a new generation to unite the Fae.

Book three in the Queens of the Fae Series, click now to be transported into a world where some love is nothing more than magic, some love is an unbreakable bond, and some love is nothing at all.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (Ch. 5 – 6)

After trying (and failing) to finish Evil Love: A Bully Romance by Ella Fields, I was excited to get back to The Hunger Games today. It’s always nice to reread a book that you know you love. No guesswork involved and no disappointments, just a good book. Plus, after that catastrophe of a book. I was excited to return a strong female heroine instead of the lackluster one I had left behind. I don’t know if I’ll ever revisit the world of bully romances. If you have any recommendations in that genre that are actually good books, let me know.

And, of course, rereading The Hunger Games and going more in-depth during this read than I ever have before is making me notice plenty of new things about the series. During the last couple of chapters, I found myself drawing parallels between my life and Katniss’s life. I was surprised by the depth of her relationship with Prim. Her mother reminded me of my own. Her strength endlessly impressed me. Have you ever had the same reaction when you’ve sat down to revisit your favorite books? It felt like visiting an old friend and remembering all the reasons why we were friends in the first place. Katniss’s story fit itself neatly back into my heart.

Back of the Book (Amazon.com)

In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV.

Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen regards it as a death sentence when she steps forward to take her sister’s place in the Games. But Katniss has been close to death before-and survival, for her, is second nature. Still, if she is to win, she will have to start making choices that weigh survival against humanity and life against love.

Disclaimer: My Chapter Thoughts DO INCLUDE SPOILERS. They assume that you have read ALL of The Hunger Games series (books 1-3). They will mostly contain spoilers in the chapter that they are covering. 

Chapter Five Thoughts

During our first introduction with Cinna, I always found myself wondering if somewhere deep in The Capitol there was a group of social justice warriors trying to give a better life to people in The District. Sure, some people cared about the people who lived outside of The Capitol. But was anyone trying to do anything for them? I’m not so sure. It seems too close to rebellion for anyone to really put an effort in. It is too much of a risk.

And that seems strange to me. I believe Panem is supposed to be America gone wrong. Wouldn’t some semblance of American free speech remain? Even if the movements were mostly hush-hush, I want to know if anyone was working behind the scenes to improve conditions in the district. Or if anyone wrote articles or books about life in the districts. I know later in the series we find out that there was a whole rebellion organization, but was there anyone trying for small scale reform? I wonder.

Cinna himself is very admirable. Unlike most citizens of The Capitol, he understands that the citizens of District 12 are starving to death while the people around him gorge themselves on food. He sees their behavior for what it is: despicable. Throughout this entire series, I’ve always wanted to learn more about Cinna. What made him realize the extent of The Capitols betrayal of the people? What made him notice the waste? What’s his background story? Cinna is more self aware than most other characters in this book. What made him that way?

Of course, it is interesting to note that, somewhere in Katniss’s interactions with Cinna, she discusses the fact that one year District 12’s tributes were sent to the opening ceremonies naked and covered in black powder. It is quite a casual comment, but one with lasting implications. These are children being sent out naked in front of thousands of viewers. Beyond just the brutality of the Hunger Games, these children are being treated as meat for the viewing pleasure of others. They are simultaneously sexualized and degraded. It’s horrifying and, once again, denotes the fact that the little details are what makes this book so powerful. Collins doesn’t ignore anything, even the fact that the world that would kill children would be alright with displaying their bodies in any way they choose. These children have no value to their government except as a perverted form of entertainment. 

And I’m surprised that I’ve never really thought much of that before. These were naked children sent out to be viewed by thousands. Perhaps it’s talking about Netflix’s release of Cuties that made me notice it today. Everyone seems to be calling attention to the oversexualization of children in our society and it’s interesting to see that sexualization reflected negatively in The Hunger Games

Slowly getting to know Peeta is another element to The Hunger Games that I always enjoy. He is so kind and pure compared to many of the characters. In a manner of speaking, his positivity reminds me vaguely of Prim. They have a lot in common if you think about it. They’re both slightly innocent and almost gentle. Of course, Peeta has been placed in an environment where his gentleness is unwelcome. Prim’s has been protected by Katniss. His will be altered by his involvement in the games.

Chapter 6 Thoughts

Did you know that six is my favorite number? It absolutely is. Just in case you were wondering. And this chapter is a good one so it fits. 

And of course, Effie Trinket is her normal self throughout this one. The fact that people of The Capitol refer to the citizens of District 12 as barbaric is just another insult to injury. Katniss’s understanding of the irony of that statement is a great detail. How can Effie refer to District 12 as barbaric when her own sacrifices children to a manic game of life or death? It’s ridiculous. 

Although, I’ve got to admit… Not everything about The Capitol is ridiculous. I would kill for half of their gadgets. Can you imagine touching an object and having perfect hair immediately? I think I spend more time combing out knots and tackling frizziness than anything else. Having something else do that for me sounds like a dream. 

However my delight at their gadgets, going back to the reality of how cruel The Capitol is is always shocking. What they do to Avoxes is particularly harsh. Cutting out their tongues and reducing them to speechless servants is horrible. Can you imagine spending the rest of your life forbidden to communicate with anyone? The only time someone speaks to you is to give orders? It sounds terribly lonely and I can’t think of a true real-world comparison. Even though we take away the rights of convicted criminals in America to a degree, they aren’t truly cut away from any form of communication. They’re allowed to speak. Avoxes have even that taken away from them. They have very few options for finding comfort in their situation. I wonder how many lose their minds after years of silence. 

I did always want to learn more about the female Avox though. I can’t remember finding out the answers to all of my questions. I think some are answered later on, but I can’t really remember. Why was she rebelling? I’m unsure. Maybe we find out in the third book? If you remember anything, let me know! 

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (Ch. 3 – 4)

Sometimes it surprises me all over again how good books stay good even as you get older. Some concepts just have a huge impact on us all. The idea behind The Hunger Games is definitely one of those concepts. As a child, the idea of competing in the games was terrifying. I couldn’t imagine having to fight for my life. I live in a world of comfort. As an adult, the idea of the games is absolutely horrifying. These are children being sent off to kill each other. Babies. It is horrible to think about. Imagine a world where you make an entertainment platform off of the deaths of children. It’s disgusting.

But that’s why I can still enjoy this book and it’s why millions of people have enjoyed this book. The distaste for this event is universal. Yet, it’s also universal to enjoy the drama and intrigue. This idea is so out there that you just have to read more. What is the world like in which this could happen? How do the citizens of the Capitol justify this? How can they enjoy watching kids die?

Back of the Book (Amazon.com)

In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV.

Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen regards it as a death sentence when she steps forward to take her sister’s place in the Games. But Katniss has been close to death before-and survival, for her, is second nature. Still, if she is to win, she will have to start making choices that weigh survival against humanity and life against love.


Disclaimer: My Chapter Thoughts DO INCLUDE SPOILERS. They assume that you have read ALL of The Hunger Games series (books 1-3). They will mostly contain spoilers, however, from the chapter that they are covering.

Chapter Three Thoughts 

I never fully appreciated the differences between Prim and Katniss. Katniss is so strong and bold. Everything she does is geared towards survival. She is an adept hunter and woodsman. Prim is much, much softer than her. It is a testimony to Katniss’s strength that she has enabled Prim to, more or less, remain unchanged. Prim has been able to have a childhood. She is able to be soft and kind. It is admirable that Katniss has been strong enough to protect her from the harsher sides of their life.

Relationships like that between siblings are always really touching in my opinion. I know most of the time it’s due to lackluster parenting, but it’s still a powerful bond. Being protective of your siblings is nothing to shake a finger at. It’s wonderful that Katniss has been her sister’s protector in life. I also feel like her relationship with Prim gives a lot of children who have the same type of parental relationship with their siblings a role model. It’s hard to feel like you’re the only one who has to take care of your siblings. It’s too easy to feel alone when you’re in that type of situation.

I also love Madge as a character. She is so completely understated, yet ends up having a huge impact on the storyline. Katniss would never be the same without her mockingjay pin. It completes her persona throughout each novel in the series. Another thing I never fully realized is how casually Suzanne Collins threw in Madge giving Katniss her pin. It seems so unimportant for something that ends up vital to the series.

Good writing at its finest. 

Katniss’s conversation with Gale during this chapter has always interested me. His take on her involvement in the games is so blunt and to the point. He believes she can win because she hunts and, at the heart of it all, The Hunger Games is just a hunt. You just have to think of your competitors as prey instead of people. It is an absolutely brutal thought process, but it isn’t incorrect. A normal human will have a hard time killing someone they view as a person. If she refuses to view her competition as people, it will be easier for Katniss to win. It makes sense, but it’s still horrifying. 

Once Katniss is on the train, the descriptions of wealth begin. The Capitol is so exceedingly better off than people in the twelve districts that even their train cars are decked out beyond the amenities that Katniss has in her home. There’s a shower with hot water! Katniss had never showered before. The difference in wealth and lifestyle between the various districts as well as between the Capitol and the districts catches my attention every time I read this book. They have so little in common. The Capitol takes their wealth for granted; people in District 12 starve to death. And, of course, there’s parallels to that in the real world. While I make a four course dinner for eight people one night, people around the world starve to death. It’s horrible, but it’s real, and a lot of it is based on the decisions of worldwide governments. I think I read somewhere once that we have more than enough food to feed every person on the planet; we just don’t. 

Plus, I love the extra attention Collins pays to details when describing the better parts of life – the luxuriousness of the shower, the taste of the food, everything. I could read about the food for hours on its own. It all just sounds so wonderful. Even just the description of taking a shower makes me want to take a shower of my own.

However, Effie Trinket does really bother me, but, of course, she’s meant to. Her derision towards people of District 12 is so obvious that it hurts. She has no real understanding of their experiences. When she looks down on the previous tributes for how they ate with their hands, it’s disturbing. Those two children had never had enough to eat. The sheer amount of food they were given as their first meal in the train would be overwhelming to them. Table manners would be the last things on their mind. It “upset her digestion” to watch two kids that had been slowly starving to death eat. How ridiculous is that. 

And yet, again, realistic. As a society, we judge people everyday on traits they can’t help. We judge them for being dirty if they don’t have access to a shower. We judge them as poor if they don’t have a good job. We judge them as stupid if they can’t get a good education. It’s unfair. But it’s real. It is to be expected that a spoiled rich girl from The Capitol would judge a poor child from District 12 and find them wanting. They have had none of the benefits growing up that she has had. Even regular access to food is out of reach. 

Chapter Four Thoughts

Learning more about Katniss’s mother’s mental illness always hurts a little bit. The distance that can emerge between people because of mental illness can be all consuming. Losing your mother to it is hard. I lost my own to her bipolar disorder. She became someone I couldn’t recognize. She became someone dangerous.

Of course, Katniss’s mother isn’t necessarily dangerous in a physically life-threatening way. But she is dangerous in the fact that she loses herself to her depression. She becomes unable to care for her children. Treating people who suffer from these conditions needs to become a priority for our society. They deserve better. Their children deserve better. You can’t raise a child if you can’t care for yourself in any regard. 

The same is true in The Hunger Games: they all deserved better. Katniss’s mom should have had access to proper healthcare. Katniss should have had access to food for her family. They should all have gotten better from their government and their society. But they didn’t. 

And, worse, The Capitol makes a game of their deaths. When Katniss and Peeta depart the train, Katniss is “…sicked by their excitement, knowing that they can’t wait to watch us die.” They are excited to see the tributes, even fully aware of the fact that they will be forced to fight for their lives as a form of brutal entertainment. They don’t see children, they see deaths. And they love it. 

But it’s hard to blame them. Do you think you would believe any different if you had grown up in The Capitol? They have no real understanding of what life is like in the district. The concept of starvation is unfamiliar and nonthreatening. They don’t view the tributes as people, just entertainment. How would you feel, living life in paradise, if you had no entertainment? The Hunger Games are their best and most interesting entertainment all year. It prevents boredom from setting in. Their lives are actually meaningless, they just don’t know it yet. 

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (Ch. 1 – 2)

Apparently, I am very late to the ballgame. I didn’t know that Suzanne Collins released a new Hunger Games novel until yesterday. Yesterday! It’s been out for months! It must have gotten lost in the COVID-19 panic for me, but, thankfully, I now know and can remedy the fact that I haven’t yet read A Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes.

But of course I can’t just pick up the book and read it! I want to consume it. I want to overanalyze every little detail until I can’t anymore. In order to do that, I have to do the unthinkable and reread the entire series start to finish. Trust me, this is my process. I mean, how can I possibly compare A Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes to Collin’s original series if I only have a faint recollection of them? Even if by faint recollection I do mean I reread them every year, it’s definitely time to reread them again. 

And so that’s what I’m doing, starting today. Of course, I did already rewatch the first movie as soon as I heard the news. I wasn’t really in the mood for reading at that moment so I figured I’d watch the movie. To be honest, it was nowhere near as good as I remember it being. Even without having reread the series in a while, there’s so many little details that they got wrong that bother me. The big one is probably the fact that the way Katniss got her mockingbird badge was all wrong. Why did they do us dirty like that?

Not that it’s not a great movie, It is. It’s just not as great as I remember it being when they first released it. No big deal. 

Back of the Book (Amazon.com)

In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV.

Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen regards it as a death sentence when she steps forward to take her sister’s place in the Games. But Katniss has been close to death before-and survival, for her, is second nature. Still, if she is to win, she will have to start making choices that weigh survival against humanity and life against love.

DISCLAIMER: My analysis of this book will be chapter by chapter. I will assume you’ve read the entire series in them. There will be MANY spoilers.

Side note: if you haven’t read The Hunger Games yet, don’t continue reading. The rest of this is going to just assume everyone in the whole entire world has already read this amazing book. It is available for free right now if you have a Kindle Unlimited subscription (September 10th, 2020). Luckily, I own the book so even if it wasn’t, I’m all set.

Second side note: I’ll probably write about this book a couple of times because I will not finish it today. I’ll probably just go chapter by chapter like I did for Midnight Sun. I like to take certain books slow. I’m also reading another book right now that I have plenty of mixed feelings about – Evil Love by Ella Fields. I don’t know when I’ll manage to fully formulate my thoughts about that book or finish it, but maybe I’ll hit my stride soon with that book. Right now, it’s just not clicking for me. The reviews about it seem mainly positive though so I’m hoping it’ll click somewhere.

Chapter One Thoughts 

I was excited to start rereading The Hunger Games today. I have a bunch of books that give me a little shiver of excitement when I pick them up and this is no exception. I always look forward to revisiting Katniss. Her world is so dangerous and dreadful. It is also beautiful and interesting. It’s hard not to love every page of this book, even as you read about the monstrosities that occur within it. What they all do might be terrifying, but that’s part of the point.

And I always seem to forget how much I enjoy reading Collin’s writing. I love how descriptive she is. Her world-building is just stunning. Everything feels so vivid and real. I also love the fact that she writes in present tense. Where most authors write in past tense, she is almost always in the present moment. It makes me feel like even the author doesn’t know what is about to happen next. Everything is new and surprising, even if you’re reading the book for the hundredth time.

I also personally rather enjoy when authors use normal words that we use for slang. Having the part of the district where Katniss is named the ‘Seam’ is unusual in the regard that we don’t call neighborhoods that today, but it doesn’t feel so unusual as to not be real. Part of that is because ‘seam’ is a word. It’s not some random collection of letters that have no meaning to us. Another example of an author who does this is Scott Westerfield. His series The Uglies are absolutely jam-packed with our normal words being used as slang. It adds such a depth and ease of understanding to books that I don’t understand why more authors don’t use it. Minor details are what makes world building vibrant and interesting instead of boring.

It’s also crazy to think that in such a dangerous and highly controlled universe, people in District 12 dare to break the rules. Suzanne Collins makes the point early on that everyone is at risk of death in this world. From mine explosions to starvation and death penalties, no one is safe. But Katniss dares to venture into the woods to hunt. Others dare to go past the fence to collect apples. Small rebellions that harm no one go mostly unpunished. Having read the book many times prior, I never really noticed how this makes you question the peacekeepers and their aims. How far will they allow District 12 to go before they push back at them? What are their limits? I had never noticed this small degree of foreshadowing. 

Reintroducing myself to Gale is always fun. I look forward to him every time I reread this book. He seems to ground Katniss and make her more real. Every change she undergoes throughout this series seems to be amplified in relation to Gale’s changes. They start off so similar that it’s shocking. They have inside jokes, love for the same people, and the same wants and desires. 

It is always humbling to be reintroduced to the class system that exists in The Hunger Games series. The difference in your class, AKA your degree of wealth, is literally life or death for your children. How much money you have determines how much food you and your family have access to. Nothing is free and there is not enough to go around. The richer you are, the more food you have. Seeing the difference between how Madge lives and how Gale and Katniss live is quite stark. The fact that they have to enter their names more time into the drawing for The Hunger Games just to survive is horrifying, especially considering that their entries are accumulative from the age of thirteen to eighteen. Katniss’s own name is entered into the games twenty times. Gale’s, at eighteen, will have his name entered into the games forty-two times.  Of course, there is only one victor in the Hunger Games and their chances of being the sole survivor are very, very slim. They may have a higher risk of being chosen, but their chances of winning don’t increase. They still come from a poor, starving, weak district. Having to fight because of that is only really a risk for the poor.

And it is absolutely horrible that a nation would do this, kill off the children in each district just to prove a point. As a reader, it’s hard to imagine living in a world like that. Who would sacrifice children just to prove a point? But even in our world many governments do. Nations bomb other nations just to prove the point that they can defend themselves. They kill innocents and label it as protecting themselves. Children do die just for governments to prove their points. The reality of war is horrible. 

In the case of the Hunger Game universe, the point of these children being offered up is that the Capitol will not abide rebellion. Some of your children will suffer and die, but not all of them as long as you obey the laws. They want to show the districts that they are at their mercy. 

I also forgot how quickly this book gets into the real action. While the world-building is vibrant and fully descriptive, it doesn’t take a long time. I didn’t remember how fast each page goes by. Primrose, Katniss’s sister, being drawn as the female tribute for The Hunger Games happens insanely fast. By the end of the first chapter, you know what the rest of the story will look like to some degree. Not so pretty. Not so nice. More violent. You know someone is going to struggle to survive. You just might not be sure who. It is an amazing cliffhanger for the very beginning of the book.

Chapter Two Thoughts

Have you ever had a moment where you can’t remember how to breathe? I’ve had quite a few and I remember none of them fondly. Being so afraid and upset that you can’t physically breathe is overwhelming. It’s horrifying. Katniss’s reaction to the event of her sister being drawn is understandable and upsetting. 

Yet, even understanding that feeling, I don’t know if I would ever be strong enough to get past it and volunteer myself as tribute. I would want to. I love my siblings more than anything. But I don’t know if I would be physically able to do so quickly enough. The fact that Katniss can get past that emotion quickly enough to volunteer herself is a testimony to her strength. I think it’s the very first scene where every reader was really blown away by Katniss. She was the girl strong enough to volunteer to die in return for her sister’s life. That’s something.

It’s also just a well-written scene. Suzanne Collins captures everyone’s hearts so quickly in The Hunger Games that I’m afraid we all forgot to congratulate her for it. It is just so well done. The one thing that everyone can agree on while reading this book is that Katniss deserves better than a world who would do this to her. Katniss is a hero. 

However, I’m not sure if I agree with Katniss that having the audience see her tears would make her weak. The Hunger Games is part colosseum part reality TV show. Her tears would make her status as a volunteer all the more dramatic for the audience. It might have won her sponsors to let them fall. She would become real to them and they might want to help her survive. 

In contrast with Effie Trinket’s response to Katniss volunteering, however, I’m not one hundred percent sure my take on things is the correct one. She assumes that Katniss volunteered to win herself glory, not to save her sister. Maybe all of the people in the Capitol are as naive. Or as shallow. 

When Peeta is volunteered as tribute, I have always thought it was interesting that Katniss compares him to prey: “,,,his blue eyes show the alarm I’ve seen so often in prey.” Even though her disdain for the games are obvious, she does begin to see her opposition as opposition. Peeta is already becoming prey to her in a manner of speaking. That feels like a very real and humane response, to be honest. Who wants to see their competitor, who could very well kill them or be killed by them, as a person? I wouldn’t want to.

As I’ve said before, it’s the little details that add depth to a story. That’s the case with the above and that’s also the case with Katniss’s background story. Her mother’s depression provides a reason for Katniss’s exemplary strength. It also explains her strong attachment and protectiveness of her sister, Prim. Of course she volunteered to save Prim. She’s been acting like her mother since her own mother vacated the position. 

But at the same time, Peeta’s mother’s cruelty also adds depth to his own character. It is obvious now, looking back at this story, that the author wanted you to get attached to both characters. Katniss is amazing, but Peeta is not without value himself. They are both tributes and both deserved better than that. Everyone does.

3 of My Favorite Books

Okay, I’ll be the first one to admit it: I probably have around fifty favorite books total. Once I fall in love with a story, it’s just too difficult to compare it to another story that I absolutely love. I’m really not capable of picking favorites when it comes to well-written novels. I can’t do it.

But I can give you some examples of my favorite books.  Not just the ones that I’m going to discuss below, but books like The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer (and the rest of the series), and The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller. 

Certain books just capture me for the rest of my life. Once I read them once, I’ll keep reading them forever. And books like that have been few and far in between lately. Sure, a lot of the newer books I read are good. Don’t get me wrong: they’re good. Sometimes very good. I enjoy reading them. But they don’t hook me. They don’t make me want to read them every twice a year for the rest of my life. I want them to, but they don’t.

Yet other books are somehow straight up the most addictive books I’ve ever read. I absolutely adore them. Sometimes I don’t even know why I still read them until I’m picking them up again and completely absorbed in the storyline. Even knowing exactly what’s going to happen, I love them. 

I’ll probably list more than these three at some point, but here I go.

1. Into the Wild by Erin Hunter

Back of the Book (Amazon.com)

Epic adventures. Fierce warrior cats. A thrilling fantasy world. It all begins here.

Read the book that began a phenomenon—and join the legion of fans who have made Erin Hunter’s Warriors series a #1 national bestseller.

For generations, four Clans of wild cats have shared the forest according to the laws laid down by their ancestors. But the warrior code has been threatened, and the ThunderClan cats are in grave danger. The sinister ShadowClan grows stronger every day. Noble warriors are dying—and some deaths are more mysterious than others.

In the midst of this turmoil appears an ordinary housecat named Rusty… who may turn out to be the bravest warrior of them all.

My Take On It

I figured I’d start with my earliest literary addiction: The Warriors Series. Into the Wild follows the journey of a normal house cat into becoming a fierce warrior of Thunderclan. The cat, Rusty, encounters a lifestyle and pattern of behavior that he barely understands. These new cats prioritize each other, their clan’s history, and their own honor above everything else. He meets new cats, learns about their rich society, and fights for the honor of his clan. It sounds a little bit ridiculous, but it’s anything but! It’s probably one of the best books I’ve ever read. Meant to target readers eight and up, these books still completely captivate me. The entire first series is literary gold.

A lot of the appeal for me, however, is definitely nostalgia. I grew up reading this series and absolutely fell in love with these books. I feel at home when I read about Firepaw and Thunderclan. I’m not sure if another adult my age (22) would have the same reaction to this series if they picked up the first book now. They are written with the intention of appealing to children after all. But that’s honestly fine with me. Sometimes you don’t need a book that’s at the level you are. Sometimes you want nostalgia. It’s amazing that these books are capable of still appealing to me even though I’ve grown so much since first reading them. Talk about inspiring reader loyalty! These books have been out for 17 years!

Into the Wild may be targeted at kids, but it has a special place in my heart and, as a twenty-two year old, I read the entire first collection at least once a year. If you have a child (or some free time for yourself), I definitely recommend picking this book up. Heck, I’d recommend picking up the entire first series. They’re that good! You may not love it quite as much as I still do, but they’re still worth a read. Plus, you can let me know if this series is capable of appealing to an older audience from the first read or if you have to have that element of nostalgia to really enjoy them.

However, if you do plan on gifting this book to a child, you may want to read it with them. The series does include some elements of violence and death, but I definitely feel like it’s at an approachable and child-friendly level. They’re incredibly tame compared to most video games young kids play! The fights are literally cat fights. Plus, the series isn’t really gory and is more meant to reflect the challenges of survival and diplomacy.  The Warriors Series also includes a bunch of positive role models and messages, gives you a great chance to educate your kids about survival, wildlife, and death. They even include a cat version of heaven and hell. They’re just really good books.

2. Graceling by Kristin Cashore

Back of the Book (Amazon.com)

Kristin Cashore’s bestselling, award-winning fantasy Graceling tells the story of the vulnerable-yet-strong Katsa, a smart, beautiful teenager who lives in a world where selected people are given a Grace, a special talent that can be anything from dancing to swimming. Katsa’s is killing. As the king’s niece, she is forced to use her extreme skills as his thug. Along the way, Katsa must learn to decipher the true nature of her Grace… and how to put it to good use. A thrilling, action-packed fantasy adventure (and steamy romance!) that will resonate deeply with adolescents trying to find their way in the world.

My Take On It

Ahhhh, enter my teenage years. Meeting Katsa for the first time was an absolute blessing. I was struggling with my own identity and sense of self worth. Meeting such a strong, independent woman who tackled her own sense of self worth inspired me. I wanted to be as strong as Katsa was. She made me feel like I could believe in myself. No matter my flaws, no matter what I struggled with, I was worth something.

Plus, her impossible feats made me feel awe-struck. It was so refreshing to see a beautiful young woman that was completely competent in survival and combat situations. I had never encountered such a character before! Katsa’s power came across to me, during that first read, as seemingly limitless. Sometimes it even gave me chills.

And the author managed to do this all without diminishing the value of being soft and kind to others. Katsa’s extraordinary strength and power didn’t leave her without the ability to love. Graceling is jam-packed with unexpectedly touching scenes and relationships. Katsa’s interactions with Prince Po in particular captured my whole heart. They made her shine all the brighter and they made me wonder what love had in store for me.

Years later, I still make a point to read Graceling at least once a year. It’s one of those books that remind me of my own strengths, but still make me want to become a better version of myself. It’s the perfect book for teenagers to read, but I recommend it for all ages teenage and up. Cashore’s writing is still beautiful years later and Katsa will always have a special place in my heart.

However, if I’m being critical, I wouldn’t say that this book is perfect. It does sometimes bother me that the villain in this book is so black-and-white. There is no complexity to him. He is simply evil. I would have liked this book better if Cashore had given the villain the same level of complexity and honesty as she gave to Prince Po and Katsa. They are not perfectly good so why would their villan be perfectly evil? It’s the one flaw in the book for me.

Yet that is a small side-note in comparison to the overall success of the novel. And it does get remedied a bit by my next constant re-read…

3. Fire by Kristin Cashore

Back of the Book Summary (Goodreads.com)

It is not a peaceful time in the Dells. The young King Nash clings to his throne while rebel lords in the north and south build armies to unseat him. The mountains and forests are filled with spies and thieves and lawless men.

This is where Fire lives. With a wild, irresistible appearance and hair the color of flame, Fire is the last remaining human monster. Equally hated and adored, she had the unique ability to control minds, but she guards her power, unwilling to steal the secrets of innocent people. Especially when she has so many of her own.

Then Prince Brigan comes to bring her to King City, The royal family needs her help to uncover the plot against the king. Far away from home, Fire begins to realize there’s more to her power than she ever dreamed. Her power could save the kingdom.

If only she weren’t afraid of becoming the monster her father was.

My Take On It

I can’t talk about Graceling without mentioning Fire. I read Fire two or three times a year, more so perhaps than almost every other book I make a point to reread each year. It is the perfect compliment to Graceling, but is a powerful standalone as well. The main character, Fire, is equally as strong as Katsa, but in a completely different way. Whereas Katsa is bold, Fire’s strengths are more based on her compassion and kindness.  They give a surprising level of depth to what makes a hero a hero when you compare the two. You do not need to be masculine to be a hero and you do not need to be feminine to be beautiful. You can just be yourself.

It’s a really beautiful, amazing book full of beautiful, amazing messages.

Plus, the world-building in Fire is just stunning. Imagining the appearance of everything from Fire herself to the world around her captivated me from the very first page. I also personally loved the fact that Fire isn’t white. So many authors focus only on white beauty being the best type of beauty that it was refreshing to see another type of beauty reflected in who is supposed to be the most beautiful woman in the universe. However, Fire’s beauty was both a blessing and a curse, and I loved to see that played out. It added a level of depth to her character and her world that she fully understood the horrible impact her own beauty could have on others.

It also furthered the complexity of her relationships with people. Fire constantly struggled with a king who couldn’t resist her beauty, a general who hated her for it , and an ex-lover who couldn’t loosen his grip on her. Almost everyone around her was impacted by the sight of her. It was inescapable.

And a lot of this behavior made me stop and think. Is this how we all really act? A lot of scenes in Fire were very reactive and explosive with a calm and caring main character at the heart of it all. Everything from politics to love were involved. I think in a lot of ways, human society is very reactive. Humans, no matter how beautiful they are, are prone to violence. Fire is in a position where she wishes to prevent the outbreak of war without compromising on her deeply held values. She’s in a complete ethical tangle. You find yourself wondering what you would do in her shoes. From a young age, asking myself questions like that always appealed to me. Books like these make me question myself and get to know myself better. They’re simply art.

Plus, this book revisits the villain from the first book much to his benefit. While he doesn’t get many positive traits, the depth this provides excuses his existence as a purely evil character. There is just something wrong with him, as simple as that.

However, this book isn’t for people who don’t enjoy slow build ups. Much of the action for this series doesn’t happen until later on. It focuses more on character and world building than anything else. I was spell-bound by it all. Other readers might feel more bored. It’s worth giving it a try though if you’re interested! I haven’t found anything else quite like it.

Midnight Sun by Stephanie Meyer: The End is Here (Ch. 29 – Epilogue)

SPOILER ALERTS

Now that I’ve finished the book, start to finish, it’s hard to say that I liked it. I enjoyed reading it, but it’s just not a good book. Edward is a creep. He has been a creep the entire book. If Meyer writes more from his perspective, he will continue to be a creep. It is ingrained in him. 

The additions for the most part were lackluster. Meyer refused to go into real detail with new scenes and there was very little excitement to be had in any scene outside of the Bella-Edward relationship. Considering I had already seen all of those events in the original Twilight book, they just didn’t have a lot of appeal for me. The most interesting characters, as per usual, were side characters. And any type of excitement I had built up towards the middle quickly sputtered out at the end. It was just disappointing. 

Would I recommend it to someone? No.

Is it worth reading? Not really. 

Will I read it again? Yeah, probably. 

So do with that what you will. Here’s my last analysis from the last two chapters:

First off, I really, really, really hate the way Alice and Edward manipulate Bella’s mother, Renee. It seems almost dirty to me. They don’t really care about Renee. They aren’t really doing it out of the kindness of their hearts. They just manipulate her to make their lives easier. Alice only befriended Renee to make it seem like she is trustworthy and to make sure she was out of the room when Bella woke up. That felt so wrong. She’s Bella’s mother. She should have been there. I understand the reasons why they did it, but it still doesn’t sit all that well with me. I wish they had more regard for the feelings of others. It just feels cruel to make someone feel like you’re their trusted confidant when you’re only using them for your own gain.

I also wish Edward wasn’t such a judgemental jerk. His opinions about Renee added insult to injury. He sees her as narcissistic. Everyone always caters to her needs and she has no frame of reference for anything else. He also judges her for silly things, like opening the door too loudly. I forgot how endlessly condescending he is. He is incapable of just letting a person be. He just has to ridicule them.

For someone who hates himself so much, Edward really does think he’s better than everyone.  

I found it somewhat endearing that Renee was so concerned about Bella falling in love, personally. Renee may be flawed, but she isn’t without motherly instincts. She recognizes that Bella is a lot like Charlie and will love deeply. She worries about how that will impact Bella because Bella isn’t the type who can just move on. Charlie never really got past Renee. Renee doesn’t want that same future for Bella. I get it. 

When Edward talked to Bella about how wonderful her blood tasted to him, it did make me wonder about what exactly vampires absorb from human blood. It is obviously their food source more than anything else. It fuels them. It’s all about making them feel strong.

But what if, in a different universe than the Twilight universe, vampires drank human blood and actually got something out of it more than just fuel? What if vampires actually absorbed the life force and traits of humans through their blood? Because humanity bounces back so quickly, I could see a world where vampires drink from humans, the humans survive, and the vampires are changed a little bit by human blood. What if that had lasting impacts on who they were and how they acted? 

Say they wanted to be like Edward and only drink and kill evil humans. What if they would absorb the evilness in their prey? And if they drank good people, they would become better. They would be kinder and more patient. If they drank from someone intelligent, they would become smarter. They could control their own behavior and thought processes purely on what they drink. Human blood would be their remedy to the monotony of human life because vampires could become anyone. Everything about their personality, wants, and desires could change the more they drink. There are so many routes that something like that could take. 

I think I’m more excited about that concept than I am about Midnight Sun. It’d make a great book to read about a vampire whose personality changes depending on the blood he drinks. He could drink from evil individuals and act horribly, just to regret it when he drinks the blood of someone good and pure. I think it’d be super interesting to read. Maybe some core traits would remain unchanged, but it’d be a constant balancing act between drinking from good people and bad people. What is the better thing to do?

But we’re talking about Midnight Sun so let’s get back to that.

Beyond everything going on with Edward and Bella, I do really want to learn more about Alice. Her human past is a constant unknown in this series. The information we do eventually get about her is stunted and vague. She had visions. She spent her life in an asylum. No one knows. It’s just a little bit shorter than I would like for her. 

And, in conjunction with the little pieces of information we get about the mortal lives of other vampires, I’d love to know more. We know the most about Rosalie and Carlisle without a doubt. But what about the others? I’d love to have more background on Emmett. What was his mortal life like? Did he ever miss his family? I’d enjoy getting to know more about Jasper and his experiences down south. 

Even characters like James, Victoria, and members of the Volturi deserve better background stories. I want to know where they came from and what they did. What are their stories? What do they miss? What do they want out of forever? It’s all very intriguing and Meyer didn’t really give us enough new information during Midnight Sun to placate me. I wonder if it just never occurred to her that readers would want to know.

Yet, it was also interesting to start to see Edward planting the seeds for his eventual departure from Bella. He began to act detached at the end of Midnight Sun, as if Bella was beginning to matter less and less to him. Watching him force himself to act like that was hard. It seemed like a huge challenge for him. It was also an odd departure from his usual attitude and perspective on things. I do really think the tape made him lose his mind. 

However, I think it’s bold of Edward to assume that Bella would just resume her normal human life after he leaves. He allows her to get closer to almost all the members of his family, fully knowing he is preparing to leave forever. Her closest friend is Alice and Bella has no idea that the Cullens will leave soon. Instead, it’ll come as a shock when she’s eventually alone. It’s just so unnecessarily cruel. It is even more cruel if you consider the fact that Edward has seen the visions of how Bella will act and feel after he leaves. He knows the excruciating pain he will cause her, but he somehow also thinks she will just move on. It’s laughable. 

And then the book ends. I don’t think Midnight Sun ended at the right location. It was very random, ending in the same place as Twilight where Edward takes Bella to prom. In the context of Twilight, that was fine. For this book, it’s strange and a way too sudden cut-off. It’s almost like stopping a thought mid-sentence. I think it should have entered into New Moon a little bit and ended when Edward actually leaves Bella. It just comes across as randomly ending in the middle of nowhere. Considering my obvious distaste for the past few chapters, I think I needed more to make up for it. This wasn’t enough.

All in all, not impressed with the ending of this book at all. Meyer caught her stride in the middle of the book just to immediately drop the ball. I’m not surprised it ended so poorly, but I am disappointed. I don’t even know if I want her to write another one.

Midnight Sun by Stephanie Meyer (Ch. 27-28)

After that last chapter, I considered adding Midnight Sun to my DNF. I honestly don’t even really think that it deserves to be finished. The entire book is next to worthless to me if the author makes it abundantly clear she doesn’t even care if readers enjoy this book. I want to promote authors who care about their readers, not ones who milk them like a cash cow. 

But I guess I’m hopeful still. I remember moments where I genuinely enjoyed this book. Maybe I can justify her complete lack of effort as boredom on her behalf. Maybe she just genuinely hates battle scenes. It’s a bit of a stretch for me that she’s fine with writing endlessly about how perfect Bella is, but won’t write about the death of an insanely powerful threat… But maybe that’s the case. She just doesn’t care for violence. I don’t know for sure.

I do know that we, as readers, deserved better. And I’m particularly let down on behalf of her loyal fanbase. How can she continuously let them down when it comes to the scenes that they scream for? It is horrible that they begged for action the entire Breaking Dawn book and then she turned around and wrote another book that completely misses the point. 

What is the point of a vampire without a little bit violence?

Especially in a romance novel. I’ve always thought the allure of supernatural men in romance novels is that (1) we can excuse their violence as them not being human so (2) we can all find it super attractive. Without the element of violence, what is the appeal of someone like Edward? It can’t be his broody and depressive nature. That’s just not good enough for me.

And I’m not sure the fact that he makes Bella feel special is really good enough for me either. Although I am starting to think that that is the key to why the Twilight series is wildly successful. It’s not the writing. It’s not really the characters. It’s the fact that a completely average girl is viewed as a goddess by a hot, rich vampire. She becomes his entire world. And she’s exactly like everyone else, no matter how much Meyer emphasizes that she’s not (a problem in itself in my opinion, but we won’t get into that again.) Maybe people like this book because it makes them feel like they too could be special in the eyes of another person. Their completely normal traits can cause someone to fall in love with them. If someone can love someone as boring as Bella, they can love us too. 

However, it’s not necessarily an incentive for perfect love just to think the other person is special. Love is independent of a healthy relationship. They may intertwine, but they’re not necessarily directly in proportion to each other. So, in the context of their relationship, I still don’t get the appeal. Edward is toxic. His patterns of behavior are unhealthy. His personality sucks. I’d rather be alone than have someone like him think I’m great. Obviously the things he does to great people are horrible. He’s a stalker.

You might have to risk a lot for love, but it has to be worth it in my opinion. He’s not.

And it’s a bit disappointing.

But writing about isn’t always.

So here I am.

And am I happy about it? To be honest, no, not really. I’d love to be the type of person who can have a dramatic “I hate this series, I’ll never read it again,” moment, but I’m not. I probably will read it again. I might even read Midnight Sun again. It sucks. The writing sucks. The climax sucked. A lot about it just isn’t good. 

But for some reason I’ll still enjoy reading it. It’s like the worst type of guilty pleasure because even I don’t understand why I like it. I spend more time complaining about this series than complimenting it. Maybe it’s the little bit of nostalgia I feel to return to these characters I knew when I was younger or maybe it’s some type of deal with the devil Meyer made to make people addicted to her poorly written books. I’m not sure which is more likely at this point. The one thing I do know is I’m mad about it. 

Especially because my convictions about this series are so strong. I feel like they completely normalize unhealthy patterns of behavior. They romanticize abusive relationships as well as horrible things like suicide. They make death seem appealing. They make young girls think that men like Edward are romantic. They condition people to seek out similar attitudes in their own relationships instead of seeing things like stalking and telling someone who they’re allowed to go see as gigantic red flags. A lot of readers wouldn’t even notice that this behavior is horrible unless it was pointed out to them, especially during the original Twilight books. They might even find them romantic. That’s how deeply effective this type of conditioning is.

Because I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: stalking someone isn’t romantic. Sneaking into their bedroom to watch them sleep isn’t romantic. Controlling what they do? Not romantic. None of Edward’s behavior is romantic. 

I don’t personally ever find anything Edward does to be romantic, but the fact that I can find these books easy to read if I just don’t look too hard at them is a bad sign for how toxic literature impacts us all. It makes horrible behavior seem normal. I am fully aware that these books push an unhealthy agenda. And yet I still read them and like them. How messed up is that?

And how messed up is the fact that, as a teenage girl, I was recommended to read this by an adult? Did no one ever notice how horrible these books are? Or did they just not care? It feels like girls were encouraged to read books like this so they could fall in love with toxic, overly controlling men. Instead of being taught to be wary, they were taught to rush into unhealthy relationships headfirst. As long as the man could justify doing these things as protecting their loved one, they were a hero and not an abuser. 

Gag me with a spoon.

But of course I’m going off on another long-winded tangent. Toxic masculinity will kill us all if we’re not careful, but that’s not the entire point of this blog post. I’m supposed to be trying to read some of the actual book. 

Back to the chapter.

SPOILER ALERTS

I find it odd to watch Emmett ponder over the impossibility of Edward’s strength. Emmett knew he would never have the strength to start drinking someone’s blood and then just stop like Edward did. I wonder if he fully realizes that he has strengths entirely independent of Edwards. He is more open and honest than Edward, for one. To me, he comes across as more intensely loyal than Edward. He doesn’t ever seem to consider abandoning his family. He fiercely loves them. He allows new people into his heart without any fuss. He is not at all judgmental like Edward is. He is not condescending. 

More than that, Emmett is capable of loving someone completely without infringing on who they are and their own autonomy. He never asks Rosalie to be someone she isn’t. He never tries to control her behavior or her actions. He is not a creepy stalker. He is, instead, a healthy partner. 

I also wonder what would have happened had Jasper just revealed himself to the tracker from the get-go. Instead of hiding himself, maybe he should have just made it clear that he was a man of war during their very first interaction with the other vampires. Maybe then James wouldn’t have risked threatening the Cullens. Jasper can come across as deadly just because of the sheer number of vampire-related scars he is covered with. If he uses his talent to amplify that during their original meeting, he would have looked like the deadliest vampire alive. He might even be the deadliest vampire alive. 

I would love to see him in a fight with Alice or Edward. I don’t know if even their advanced detection skills would allow them to defeat him.

Watching how Alice solved the problem of Bella’s accident was interesting enough, but kind of added insult to injury. Why would we go into such detail about this, but ignore almost the entire battle scene? We got to hear about Alice interacting with the hotel receptionist in detail for pages on end, not entirely to my despair. Yet, we heard so little about Emmett and Jasper literally ripping a vampire into pieces and setting him on fire. It’s pure agony for me. Stephanie Meyer’s endless boredom with violence causes real damage to her series time and time again. Maybe she should hire a ghostwriter for her next book.

I wonder why she didn’t for this book when she put so little effort into adding anything new to the series. It’s all starting to come across as an afterthought to me. But perhaps I’m being a little too critical now that I know the extent to which I’ll be disappointed by Midnight Sun. I did originally enjoy that chapter about chasing James, for example.

But I didn’t realize throughout the original books the extent to which smell really would help a vampire doctor. Edward could tell that the blood in Bella was not her own. It smelled completely differently to him than her own. It would continue to do so, to some degree, for many weeks.  If he can pick up those small differences for the next few weeks, what can Carlisle’s trained nose really pick up? I’ve heard before about sniffer dogs that can detect sickness in a human far before any other medical devices can. I wonder if Carlisle often does the same and how he prevents that talent from becoming suspicious. Such an advantage would undoubtedly aid him in being a skilled doctor, but it would be extremely odd for him to have such early detections of human ailments. 

I also found it interesting that Renee’s mind is the exact opposite of Charlie’s. It makes sense, considering how different their personalities are, but I didn’t really think that Renee would be just as unique as Charlie. Her mind is extremely loud, unable to be ignored by even humans. While they may not be able to hear her thoughts like Edward can, they can’t seem to ignore what she wants. When Edward tried to imagine Renee as a vampire, he pictured a woman who would constantly be projecting her thoughts at the people around her. Her thoughts would be inescapable. Even now, as a human, her thoughts impact the way Edward feels about the people around him. It also helps her get what she wants. That’s very interesting.

It was also unusual that Renee’s blood was overly sweet compared to the average human. Bella’s parents seemed almost as unique as her. Renee had her overly impactful thoughts and sickeningly sweet blood. Charlie had thoughts that were more hidden from Edward than any other humans except for Bella. Why did Edward never mention any of this to Bella? It feels like pertinent information he should have shared with her. It might have made her feel like less of a freak.

Plus, it’s just pretty interesting stuff to know. Now she may never find out at all until long after her parent’s deaths.

Watching Bella interact with the tracker through Edward’s mind was also very interesting. Her calmness and patience came across as jarring in such a violently-minded scene. No wonder James was so thrown off by her behavior. It is very oddly placed. 

However, it made sense in the original book so I suppose it makes sense now.

But Edward never should have been given that tape to watch. I don’t understand why Alice didn’t just destroy it when she realized she would never be able to convince him not to watch it. So much of this is probably why he evolved into a completely toxic, overly controlling partner. Bella could barely move without his permission. The entire video was designed to traumatize and infuriate him, and it worked. 

But it worked after James was already dead. Edward had no recourse for handling this trauma and rage. He couldn’t go and kill James himself and I doubt there’s a vampire psychologist waiting in the shadows to provide him with the therapy he needs. So, instead, he directed these huge emotions towards himself and Bella. Their relationship suffers as a result. For a vampire that already believed he was the worst creature to walk the earth, this could be the unhealthiest moment in his life. It is almost definitely the most unhealthy moment in this series.

Alice should have just destroyed the tape.

And, then, I was hopeful again. Maybe Edward shouldn’t have watched this tape, but I definitely wanted to. Perhaps this was the moment where Meyer would detail the fight scene. But of course not. Vampires move too fast for videos to really capture them. Of course we would miss the entire thing. Another let-down. 

The next section absolutely crushed any progress these past few chapters made, at least in my opinion. The section where Edward begins to pray is extremely off putting. It has an odd mix of strong Christian beliefs and the overwhelming sense that Edward believes he is his own God: “It made no sense for immortals to have a god; we had taken ourselves out of any god’s power. We created our lives, and the only power strong enough to take them away again was another like us. Earthquakes couldn’t crush us, floods couldn’t drown us, fires were too slow to catch us. Sulfur and brimstone were irrelevant. We were the gods of our own alternate universe. Inside the mortal world but over it, never slaves to its laws, only our own.” 

The hubris kills me.

It also comes across as a section from a completely different book. Normally Edward is melodramatic, but this is to a whole new extent. It is aggravatingly dramatic and almost disturbing to read. I can’t explain the concrete reason why I hate it so much, but I do. It is just so out of place. Perhaps it is some type of psychotic break. He might have finally lost his mind. 

This is probably also the moment where he really commits to leaving Bella behind. He prays to “her” God for the strength to leave her. This came across as utterly ridiculous to me. I know he had some type of breakthrough while she was in the hospital recovering that caused him to leave in New Moon, but I really couldn’t imagine the scene where he makes that decision would be like this. If the next book is just about his mental breakdown, and it sounds like this passage, it will be the first book in the series I absolutely do not finish. 

Midnight Sun by Stephanie Meyer: More James Please (Ch. 23)

Is it read-worth? I enjoyed this chapter. While the beginning of Midnight Sun was very tedious, these last few chapters have been very action packed. They’ve also given more depth and insight to characters that lacked it in the original series. Meyer may never be one of my favorite authors, but I personally think that the end of Midnight Sun shows a lot of growth compared to writing in the original series. It is worth a read if you’re interested in comparing the two books and I’m actually starting to hope she continues to write from Edward’s perspective. He may bother me to an extreme, but the characters around him deserve better representation moving forward. I’d love to get to know them more. 

SPOILER ALERT

The alternative realities that Edward explores in the beginning of this chapter are very intense. He has so many ideas on how to protect Bella from the tracker. Imagining a large group of vampires trying to protect one weak element (a human girl), possibly for years, does sound like the ultimate challenge. I understand why James is interested in winning. It sounds impossible to win. 

The most interesting option Edward explores, in my opinion, is the option of letting Bella continue to live her normal life under constant 24/7 vampire protection. It is such a radical, yet simple, idea. How hard could it be to protect one human girl? With seven vampires, it doesn’t sound insanely difficult. 

Of course, it would be. Thinking about James starting a war of attrition over it is absolutely crazy. The fact that Alice could see him attacking all of Bella’s friends, teachers, and other citizens of Forks is insane. Why would one man kill so many people over a girl?

Again, I find myself wanting to know more about James. Why is he such a singularly minded vampire? Why is he absolutely obsessed with tracking? What did he do in his mortal life? Who changed him? Why did they change him? Did they even teach him anything about being a vampire? 

Considering the drastic measures James would take if the Cullens protected Bella from him for years, I don’t think the person who changed him into a vampire really taught him anything about vampire rules. Killing off almost an entire town of people would direct the Volturi’s attention towards him. They would never allow him to do such a thing and, unfortunately for him, they already have their own talented tracker. The Volturi would kill him. James must not even know that they exist.

I really enjoy trying to figure him out.

However, I also really hate Bella’s intense cruelty towards Charlie when she has to quickly leave Forks to evade the tracker. It just comes across as deeply unnecessary. Why even go home just to hurt someone like that? Especially if you might die. It might have been better for her to just leave without another word. 

I do understand that she was just trying to get quick results, but it was still too much for me. Being able to feel Charlie’s intense pain was also a lot to handle. I really love Charlie and I hate seeing him hurt throughout the Twilight series. He cares so much about his daughter. He loves his town. He is just a genuine person who deserves better than that. 

But I resumed enjoying this chapter as soon as that scene was over. Emmett feeling so intensely protective of Bella was endearing to me. He usually loves chances to fight with other vampires. They are tests of his strength. It was nice to see that his focus was one hundred percent on protecting Bella and not on fighting the tracker. His only priority was her safety.

I also found Edward’s musings about whether or not it would have been better to fight James from the get-go. In the original Twilight book, I did wonder why the Cullens didn’t immediately attack James for lunging at Bella. Based on how I imagine vampire instincts working, they would be more primal than that. They would physically need to protect Bella. Plus, seven against one seems like pretty good chances. Given Jasper’s past alone, he could have taken on James, Victoria, and Laurent at the same time and still come out the winner. He is a soldier. 

It did make a little bit more sense after Edward explained that the idea of attacking them for James’s slight alone just didn’t occur to him. The Cullens strive to be so peaceful that violence doesn’t naturally take its course. They don’t respond to violence with violence. Normal covens do, even just in response to minor insults. 

However, I don’t necessarily agree that their refusal to partake in violence makes them stronger than other vampires. It is nice to say that refusing to fight is a point of strength, but it isn’t entirely realistic, especially if you’re a vampire. Refusing to fight puts you in more danger sometimes. Sometimes you have to fight. If they had fought originally, they would have prevented this whole dangerous scenario. Of course it always sounds better to try for peace, but it’s hard to determine the real cost of doing so. 

And that makes me wonder more about Edward’s past. When Edward separated from Carlisle and Esme during the earlier stages of his immortal life, he hunted morally corrupt humans. He only killed people who were doing harm to others. He justified by saying he was saving lives. But would it be possible for him to have hunted and drank the blood of other vampires? Undoubtedly the average vampire has ended more human lives than even human serial killers have. They live off of human blood. Wouldn’t another vampire be able to target vampires, hunt them, and drink their blood instead of human blood? Maybe the only real vampire hunters in the Twilight universe are other vampires.

Maybe the idea of hunting vampires is too edgy for Edward though.

I also found myself wondering more about Victoria’s past. Her extra talent for escaping dangerous situations seems to be entirely fueled off of fear. Her overwhelming feeling of terror bleeds into all descriptions of her. What about her mortal life had lent itself so well to using fear as a supernatural skill? What had made her feel so at risk all the time? What dangers was she escaping?

It was also interesting that Laurent joined up with Victoria and James out of boredom. I can’t even imagine how tedious forever feels, especially when you’re so closed off from the rest of the world. Being an immortal sounds great until you actually have to figure out what you should do with forever. 

However, I can’t really understand the appeal of pure sadism either. What pleasure can you possibly derive from what Laurent remembers James doing to people? How could he see it worthwhile to involve himself with something like that? And how could he not realize that those same sadistic ideas and tendencies could be turned against himself? It sounds foolish.

It also sounds strange to me that these sadistic behaviors would be appealing to Victoria. Her entire personality is based around self preservation. She only wants to protect herself from danger. Why would she fall in love with danger? Does she find James’s lethality appealing? Does she believe he will protect her? I want to know more about their relationship. It is hard to tell, even based off of the second book, what lent such strength to their relationship. 

Of course, maybe their relationship is reminiscent of Will and Hannibal’s from the Hannibal television series. It’s easy to see why Will and Hannibal have such an intense relationship. It may not be a romantic one, but maybe the reasons behind it are the same. Their skills and personality build off of one another. Victoria and James are probably similar.

Laurent also made me wonder if there was more to Carlisle than I originally thought. It has been said that Carlisle is not gifted in the same sense that Jasper, Alice, and Edward are. He is just an ordinary vampire with one strong trait, the same way most other vampires are. His is just his overall sense of kindness and generosity. His patience. 

But perhaps there is more to Carlisle than just having a strong personality trait. Maybe he is gifted. Laurent’s reaction to him made me wonder if Carlisle gives others a stronger sense of their own humanity. Most vampires are calmed by his presence. They’re more in touch with their own humanity. Laurent himself seemed reminded of his human life whilst in the presence of Carlisle and even felt an intense level of respect for the man. Perhaps Carlisle’s special talent is being able to remind vampires of the good in themselves. 

However, it was hard to like Rosalie throughout this chapter so maybe it doesn’t work perfectly on all vampires. While I usually commend Rosalie on her tenacity, she was a bit grating during chapter twenty three. I understand her anger over being put at risk due to Bella’s involvement in the Cullen’s lives, but it’s hard to feel compassionate towards someone who would rather be obstinate than help a person in danger. Would she really rather Bella die? 

Rosalie’s fear of Emmett being hurt helped dissuade part of my annoyance, but it didn’t completely dissipate. Emmett is a vampire. Bella is a teenage human girl. The difference between the two is astounding. Feeling annoyance over having to protect Bella from danger is almost like being annoyed at having to save the life of a child. Bella is utterly defenseless against a vampire on her own.

However, Jasper was a good distraction from my annoyance. At this point, I am absolutely dying to know more about him. The constant reminders of his life as a soldier make me want to imagine terrifying battle scenes. His past is all the blood and gore the Twilight series largely ignores. He is a very scary vampire. 

All in all, though, it’s nice to see my interest in Midnight Sun growing, even so late in the game. I was largely unimpressed and even offended during the first few chapters. But Meyer’s writing has improved since she wrote the Twilight series originally and I’ve even found myself enjoying these past few chapters. I hope she continues this level of improvement. It may not be the best writing ever, but it’s pretty good and I’m loving the side characters. 

Midnight Sun by Stephanie Meyer: Yes! Finally! (Ch. 18-19)

Is it read-worth? These chapters weren’t so bad. I enjoyed them at times, hated them at others. I think some of the actual writing in these chapters was of decent quality, especially compared to many of the scenes in the original series. I really love getting to know some of the side characters more, especially Rosalie.

SPOILER ALERT

To be perfectly frank with you guys, I was a little bit underwhelmed by the beginning of chapter eighteen. I was not looking forward to reading more and my earlier optimism was long forgotten. Edward’s condescending explanation for why he should drive Bella’s truck home from the trail kind of turned me off to this book more than I expected. I don’t know why it bothered me so much. Of course, Bella definitely wasn’t in a state to drive after how dizzy their run made her, but their kiss seemed a little bit extra. It was too extreme. Especially considering that it only impacted Bella to such a large extent. The blood drinking vampire was largely okay. 

Plus, I’ve never personally fainted from kissing someone so it’s hard for me to imagine. Have you? It’s probably realistic for people who are prone to fainting, although I’m not sure Bella falls into this category. I wonder if she fainted a lot in Arizona. 

However, I didn’t mind their conversation about Edward’s age. I was hoping they would have it soon. I couldn’t really remember when it happened in the first Twilight book so it felt like a welcome surprise. Thank my memory for small delights! 

Thinking back on it now, though, it is a little bit strange to me that Bella was so surprised at Edward’s age. He’s old! But vampires in most folklore are pretty old and I would probably have been expecting older. The last one hundred years is pretty recent for immortal beings! I guess it’s pretty hard to put two and two together when you’re looking at someone who appears to be seventeen.

I do kind of wish Edward remembered more from his human life during this conversation. It’s very sad to me that he has such a limited memory of his human parents and his mortal life. From the way Carlisle describes his mother, she at least deserved a more well developed memory on his behalf. It’s hard to imagine forgetting the people who loved and cared for you. I wonder a lot about what his father was like.

I also wonder if that means Bella will forget about her family in the future. Will memories of Charlie and Renee quickly fade into the background? Mortal memories must be completely different from immortal memories. Everything seems to intensify as a vampire so I understand why memories of so long ago would eventually fade. But it’s still a little bit sad to lose such valuable memories as the years pass by.

Of course, that means I do completely understand why Carlisle felt like he should change Rosalie into a vampire, hoping she would be Edward’s perfect match. With his human memories gone, Edward would need something to ground him to humanity. Love could do that. Also feeling like you doomed someone to spend eternity alone must be horrible. Rosalie’s beauty would have spoken to someone like Carlisle. He would have seen something in her face. I would have probably done the same thing he did.

But of course I adore Rosalie. Edward doesn’t. He does not seem to give her any benefit of the doubt. Even immediately after she became a vampire, Edward was passing judgement on her. He ridiculed her for moping and feeling bad for herself. Meanwhile Edward is CONSTANTLY moping. He’s like the KING of moping. How hypocritical is that? Rosalie can’t have time to process her own emotions regarding the end of his human life and he can spend the last one hundred years brooding about what an evil creature he is. 

I think a large part of it is that he knew she was supposed to be his life partner and felt a bit of resentment towards Carlisle towards trying to set that up. He would never, however, admit to himself that he felt negativity towards Carlisle. So instead he takes it out on Rosalie. That is so completely unfair and immature in my opinion. Rosalie deserves better than that. I think that she is possibly the strongest, most well-developed female character in the entire series. She has so much inner strength that it is unbelievable. I hate the way Edward regards her.

However, I did enjoy hearing more about her from Edward’s perspective. I love getting to know more about her and Emmett. I can’t imagine the impossible feat of strength it must have been for her to travel so far with him human in her arms, bleeding. Hearing the story from Edward’s perspective was much more telling than learning about it from Bella’s. He was actually there to see her face and hear her beg for Emmett’s life. Her fear and need to save Emmett felt very, very real compared to a lot of the writing throughout the Twilight series. Good job Meyer! 

I also enjoyed hearing more about when Alice joined the family. While I find her character a lot less interesting than I did during the original Twilight series, I do still want to like her. It was hilarious that she made sure to arrive while Edward and Emmett were away from the rest of the family. Why bother knocking down a wall when you can walk in the front door? I love it.

When Bella asks Edward to come into her home, my prior sense of enjoyment was partially interrupted. He absentmindedly wondered if she thought that he needed an invitation in order to enter her home. While we obviously know he does not, I almost wish that he did. Beyond just wanting to avoid his creepy stalker-y behavior, it bothers me that vampires in the Twilight universe have so few weaknesses. It takes so much effort to kill one! The sun doesn’t bother them. Garlic doesn’t do a thing. They can enter your home without a problem. They can even eat food if they want to! They just have to throw it up later. In the real world, I feel like they’d have at least a few weaknesses for humans to exploit. They wouldn’t be so impossibly stronger than us. 

Everything dies one day after all. It’s kind of a bummer that the only thing really capable of killing a vampire is another vampire. I mean how am I supposed to imagine groups of vampire hunters in this world then?

Of course, there are werewolves… but still. I want more options than that.

I also absolutely one hundred percent hated Bella’s reaction to finding out what a creep Edward is. The fact that she was embarrassed of her own behavior (talking in her sleep) instead of focusing on him being a complete and total stalker is completely laughable. In a bad way. I cannot believe that a supposedly mature and well-rounded main female character wouldn’t be horrified by his behavior. She is supposed to be the best of us! How does she not see what a red flag that is? 

Obviously I knew her reaction was going to be completely dismissive and on the edge of flattered. It was still disappointing. Edward’s behavior is not romantic! It’s not! Why does Meyer insist that it is?

And then when Charlie goes on to disable Bella’s truck so she can’t sneak out? Yuck. I hate it when parents act like that. Bella never gave Charlie a reason not to trust her. She is not the type of person to sneak out. Why does he think it’s justifiable to mess with her vehicle? I understand that he’s her parent and he’s trying to protect her, but it feels like a total violation of the trust between them. Why can’t he just trust her? And wouldn’t it be more likely for Bella to ask to do whatever she wants to do? He usually encourages her to socialize. 

Regardless, over-controlling men seem to be a common theme in the Twilight series.

In any case, I did start to like chapter eighteen again soon thereafter. I really love hearing about the science behind vampirism. Hearing Edward ponder the evolution of vampires was right up my alley. However, I do believe it makes more sense that vampirism would come long after the evolution of humankind. It is often described as some type of disease. It would need time to develop. I think he was coming at it from a more religious perspective, believing that the same greater force created both at the same time. That’s fine too. I’m open to all theories when it comes to my supernatural creatures.

Similarly, I particularly liked hearing more about vampire science in chapter nineteen. It was my huge ‘YES! FINALLY’ moment with this book. I’m finally getting a little bit of what I asked for! According to Carlisle’s research into vampires, vampires consume blood and it is absorbed directly into their muscles instead of processed by their circulatory system. Nothing else is capable of moving throughout their body at all. How interesting is that? I want to know even more now!

It got a little bit awkward, however, when Bella asked Edward about sex. I don’t know how Meyer does it, but she makes all sex very unsexy. Plus why wouldn’t vampires be interested in sex? They can’t sleep after all. They’re probably bored a lot of the time. 

During the beginning of chapter nineteen, I was excited to get back to Edward interacting with Rosalie. As I’ve said many times prior, I can’t get enough of her! Even just imagining her facial expressions and reactions to things makes me laugh. I was disappointed again by Edward’s thoughts about her. He was so surprised by the true depth of her character. She isn’t the shallow person he makes her out to be! He always assumes her reactions are because of petty explanations. They aren’t. 

Rosalie’s dislike for Bella has more to it than just being spiteful that Edward found someone he thinks is prettier than herself. Rosalie feels like Bella is giving up everything she has personally ever wanted. The chance to be human and live a normal human life is so valuable to Rosalie that it absolutely enrages her to see someone want to give it up. She doesn’t want to watch Bella make choices that she herself would regret. It causes her physical and emotional pain to do so. 

And that is so admirable. Every one else seems to have come around to supporting Bella and Edward’s relationship. The fact that Rosalie wants to stay true to what matters to her is so impressive. I love the fact that she doesn’t just blindly tell Edward to go for it. She genuinely wants a better life for Bella with kids and marriage and human happiness. She isn’t even sure if years of happiness are worth the risk of possibly losing her grasp on humanity. I love it. Edward needs to stop passing such critical judgement on such a strong and caring person. He’s being a jerk.

He’s also being a jerk in other ways. Edward is so constantly dismissive of his family and his species when comparing them to Bella: “I hated that Bella referred to herself this way, as though there was something wrong with her, and not the other way around.” If vampirism is relatively common, why does he continue to view it as such a disability? If anything, it’s an improvement. Also, stop hating on your family! You have spent the last decades with them! They deserve more than being compared to some teenage girl you just met. 

It also feels reductive that Edward reduces Bella’s concept of forever as such a short period of time. If he truly believes that she is vastly more mature than her peers, she would have a longer version of forever. But of course I don’t necessarily disagree with him. What teenager, or person, has a real concept of forever? I don’t really believe that even vampires are completely unchanging as decades pass. Outside triggers must eventually work their forces on them. It is just a slower process. How I wish we got to see more vampires break up.

I was a bit surprised at how much more realistic Esme feels during this book. During Twilight, she was definitely very far into the background of the story. She’s still a side character now, but she has more character traits. I like the fact that she’s a homebody and is quite happy for the rest of her family to bring her news of the outside world. Who doesn’t love the idea of a homebody vampire?

Thinking about the entire family now, however, it is a little bit strange that Carlisle and his family have met so few other vampires like themselves. He has travelled the world and has met seemingly hundreds of vampires, but very few others have developed a “conscience” about their food source like himself. I wonder if there are smaller groups of covens, outside of the Cullens and Denalis, that abstain from human blood as well. Maybe they just haven’t found each other yet.

However,it does sound absolutely gruesome to be created as Edward and Carlisle were. Carlisle believed that his slow change is what resulted in his more reserved and kind personality and immortal desires so he inflicted the same wounds he had experienced onto Edward. I am very much so looking forward to more information about Carlisle’s past and his thoughts on the vampire universe.

But are my chances very good that Stephanie Meyer will go into more detail? Not so sure. I had to wait eighteen chapters to get these tidbits of new information. Here’s to hoping!