Reviews & Ramblings

Review & Ramblings: Ursa by Tina Shaw

Firstly, I want to say thank-you to Walker Books Australia, for sending me a review copy, in exchange for an honest review. I truly appreciate the opportunity!

As always, here is your disclaimer that this review may contain spoilers, If you haven’t read this book, I highly recommend avoiding the spoilers by reading my spoiler-free review on GoodReads HERE.

43051554

 

Ursa – Tina Shaw

Published April 1st 2019 by Walker Books Australia

3-Stars

GoodReads

 

 

 

 

This book is slow to start, I’m about 60 pages in and finding the language to be quite stiff and the pacing, on the slow side. That being said, I am interested to see what happens and where the story Is heading. It does feel familiar, typical dystopian, ‘us’ being ruled by ‘them’, but I’m sensing a twist may be starting to take place.

Noting much is happening. You can tell that there is going to be some kind of a revolt and that Jorzy, is going to be involved somehow, but I wish it would speed up a little bit.                     I’m assuming the friendship with Emee, is going to have an important part to play at some point? I am intrigued and will definitely keep reading, but it really feels like something is missing, like something isn’t quite gelling together.

I feel like we need to know more about Leho’s mum. That would be an interesting story! Why is she so hates? Why are the people she talks to suddenly assaulted brutally in the street? What did she plan that was so bad, she got blinded then locked herself away? I need answers!

Woah, hang on, on top of being starving, living in ghettos and treated as a lesser people (hello Holocaust connotations), there is also a rape. I was not prepared for there to be rape and quite frankly it doesn’t really fit with the story. I understand it is there to show the brutality of the Travestors, to show how the Cerels are the lesser people and that they can be treated as though they aren’t people. But I also feel it was pointless in this case. I don’t think it needed to be Leho’s sister, it could have been a rumour, heard by the kids, not someone so close to Leho, unless there is a plot line for it. I just hope it wasn’t rape, for the sake of rape, it didn’t really have a big ‘wow’ or shock-factor, so I am interested to see where this line goes.

I have under 100 pages left and still, very little has happened. This is going to be one of those books, where everything happens in the last 50 pages, and although I am looking forward to the action finally happening, I am also tired of nothing happening.

I think it was way too easy for Leho to get a job, working in the directors’ garden. Firstly, he lied to get the job, there were no checks, people just accepted that he was there and who he said he was. It felt too easy, too convenient.

I am slowly losing patience with this book. I am eagre to lean what Leho will do, how far he will go to impress his brother, or will he choose to try to save his family. I just hope, whatever he does, he does it soon.

I think I have just hit the turning point. Emee’s world is starting to turn. Of course, the Travestors had no idea that Cerel men were being forced against their will, into work camps. I wonder what Emee does with this new information, or if she will ignore it.

It is hard not to compare this book to the Holocaust. The Cerels are the ‘lesser’ peoples, forced to live in ghettos, not having access to enough food, or any health care. They are excluded from entering certain shops, with signs plastered to walls telling them where they can and can’t shop. The Black Masks, showing such random brutality towards any Cerel on the street and the most similar is the removal of all men and their placement into work camps. I’m not sure if it was the intent of the author for the similarities, but I can’t un-notice them.

Okay, allow me to get back on the Marina and her rape, rant train. As I mentioned above, I completely understand the reason that Shaw wrote in a rape, the brutality of the Black Masks, had to be shown to be completely brutal and horrific, but there was no real plot for this horror. As it happened to a pretty significant character, I expected there to be something more. We know that Cerels are banned from having children, which leads to Marina having to leave to hide her pregnancy, but that is all we got, following up the horror. I am crabby about the use of rape when it didn’t add to the story line and it didn’t have any follow ups. I think it could have been hinted at in different ways.

All of the action took place within the last 20 pages. Yet, I still am questioning Leho’s motives. It really feels like he just wanted to impress his brother, not make a change to the horrific world that he lives in.                                                                                                              This book was written well, in a style that kept the pages turning. It was interesting to see this world, two classes of people, one of poverty and one of privilege.  Can’t help but draw similarities to the Holocaust, to the horror that people had to face. Yes, Ursa is a horrific place to live if you are a Cerel, but it feels a little like something was missing, like we weren’t given enough information.

The book finishes on a revolution and a funeral, yet nothing is truly resolved, and I don’t think there is another book coming. It all feels rather pointless.  Leho’s character felt very naïve, I realise that he is quite young, but he has to live through such horrors and to literally fight to put food on the table. But he throws good things away to impress his brother, not because he, himself wants change.

This was a 3-star read for me. It had its moments of wonderful writing and snippets of information that really lifted the plot, but I just think that there were too many things missing for it to be truly enjoyable. I think we needed more back story, more information on the Government and on Leho’s parents. If there had been more information provided, instead of following Leho around the countryside (for most of the book), I think it would have taken this book to another level. A good read, just something was missing for me.

 

If you are still here, thanks’ for sticking around!

Have you read Ursa? What did you think?

 

Julie.

Reviews & Ramblings

Review & Ramblings: Outside by Sarah Ann Juckes

I won this title in a giveaway from Penguin Teen Australia, thank you so much Penguin Teen, I am still shocked that I actually won something!

As always with my review and ramblings posts, here is your disclaimer that this post does contain spoilers. If you haven’t read this book and you don’t want to have it spoiled, my spoiler free review is up on GoodReads and can be found HERE!

Okay, lets get to it!

39024318.jpg

 

Outside by Sarah Ann Juckes

Published January 3rd 2019 by Penguin Random House Children’s UK

Book Depository

GoodReads

 

 

 

 

 

Firstly, the language used in this book is throwing me off a little bit. It is very… I’m trying to write this without offending anyone, how movies tend to show hillbillies? I don’t know how else to describe it.

I love how we are just thrown into the story, no lead up, just bam, straight into Ele and her Others. I’d love to know how old Ele is, she seems quite young, maybe 10? And what in the world are these Others? With their pointy fingers that are great for picking locks!?

Ele continually makes sure the reader knows that she isn’t an ‘Other’, that she came from the outside, which makes me think that she was kidnapped? Along with Zeb? Was Zeb her brother? All I know about Zeb so far, is that he died and I am assuming it was from a gun shot because we have just learned that his brain exploded all over a wall. Wow, graphic!

I’m back to a point about the language, it is making it hard to read as quickly as the pace is encouraging me to do, I am often finding myself having to go back and re-read pages to fully understand what has happened. I am slowly getting used to the style, but it is a little off-putting. I love how fast the pace is, it really keeps the pages turning, throwing you deeper into this creepy tale!

Well, she finally made it outside. The others must have killed Him for her to be able to escape, but I still am dying to know who the Others are? Did ‘He’ kidnap them too? I have so many questions that need answers to make this book make more sense. I am still struggling with the language style, but I am keen to read on and see how Ele goes now that she is outside. I am a little worried because we are only 60ish pages into a 270 page book, so this can’t be the peak. What else is going to happen to this poor messed up girl.

I have also learned that maybe Zeb isn’t dead. I previously thought that he was shot in the head, but now I’ve learned that he was carried out of the room? Maybe he meant more to ‘Him’ than the others. Maybe Zeb and Ele are his own children!? Who knows!

So, Ele escaped… But what gets me is that the family she runs into, takes her in, and asks no questions. Willow has an incredibly interesting relationship with his father. He is upset because Ezra (his father) is growing a relationship with Ele, a relationship that he wishes he has with his father. I am wondering how much longer Ele will stay with Ezra and Willow, will they let her stay? Will they talk to the police and try to work out where she came from? Will the Others and the ‘him’ be saved or prosecuted? I want to know! But I am at page 190 and I don’t know how this is going to wrap up?

I am still confused about this book. Yes it is emotional and moving to see a young girl have no idea about the world because she has been held captive for as long as she can remember. It is confronting and shocking, but nothing else has happened, we saw the ‘inside’ now Ele is outside with a family, and they have taught her so much about what life is like. But what now? There is barely 80 pages left, so I am a little worried that this nothing-ness will continue through the rest of the book…

Sooo somehow Ezra (the dad) knew exactly where Ele came from, and that alone is shining some horrors on this book. It turns out Ele is the daughter of someone called Colt. Colt is the ‘him’ that Ele is scared of. The ‘him’ that took off his clothes and layed on top of her and made her hurt. The ‘him’ that has her locked up with the ‘others’. It actually is making me scared to think that perhaps the ‘others’ are his children as well? If he is willing to sexually abuse one daughter, why not others. But why does he have them all locked up? Another thought I had, was maybe these ‘others’ aren’t live people at all, Ele describes them as having pot bellies and no lips, that they sleep in a pile, what if they are pigs or some other animal like that? I am almost too scared to read on to find out.

This book is finally going somewhere, I have 25 pages to go and I am trying to prepare myself to find out the truth about Ele. The writing style is unique and free-flowing and making the chapters shorter makes this book much easier to read, as I am struggling with the language a little (I now know that it is set in Scotland). It is so different to anything I have read recently, it is refreshing, but also terrifying. It gives me hope to see kind people like Willow and Ezra, kind people whojust want to help. Even if they did seem a little naïve to trust blindly and take her in, but it is wonderful to see that people still want to help those who are less fortunate.

The spam breakfast scene though! Poor Ele, she just wants to apologise and to make things up to them for getting angry and running away!

Oh wow, poor Ele, there were no others, there was only her and her brother. Her father, Brian Colt murdered their mother and then locked the twins up in the stables. What a horrific tale. But how brave and strong was Ele, to keep on, to manifest the ‘others’ in a way to keep her sane.

 

I found this book to be something so completely different from what I have read before. I struggled with the language style, the cadence of it also, but the writing style was fantastic, keeping me on track and keeping the pages turning. I also loved the shorter chapters. They were just long enough to give you what you wanted, but short enough to not overwhelm you.

Being overwhelmed happens easily within this book. You can tell from the first few pages that something isn’t quite right and your mind just keeps spinning to work out what it is.

I also found that this book didn’t really take off until the last fourty pages. Once Ele escaped from the Inside, nothing really happened until the final few chapters. It felt empty and hollow. But Maybe that was the point, to show us how differently Ele would see the world.

This book is well written and engaging, it does take a little while for anything of interest to start, and is incredibly strange, until you get used to the theme and the language use. I did enjoy it and I am so grateful for the chance to have won it!

This book was hard for me to give a star rating to, all the way through I was feeling a solid 3 stars and at the end, I wanted to give it more. But for me, the whole thing felt a little underwhelming, as I mentioned above, I did enjoy it and I will recommend it, but it isn’t a style of novel that I would usually go for, and I had to really work on reading it, when the language style got a but much for me.

 

As always, thanks for reading!

 

Julie