Book Review · Books

Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin [BOOK REVIEW]

Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin [BOOK REVIEW]

I remember loving Elsewhere when I read it as a teenager. And now, reading it again, I know why I always loved it so much. It’s sad, happy, but most importantly, real. 

About the book:

Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin [BOOK REVIEW]

Pages: 271

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Format I read it in: Paperback

Rating: ★★★★★

My Thoughts:

“I’m just a girl who forgot to look both ways before she crossed the street.”

Liz is almost 16 and she dies in a hit-and-run accident. And this is where her story begins. Instead of going wherever it is that people go when they’re dead, she wakes up on a big boat that’s heading to a place called Elsewhere. It turns out that people go to Elsewhere when they die, they live there (if you can call it that), age backwards and then return to Earth as babies to be (quite literally) reborn. 

As we follow Liz around on the ship, she is having a very hard time understanding she is dead. She thinks this is all a dream and expects to be woken up anytime. 

“It can be particularly difficult for young people to realise they have passed. Young people tend to think they’re immortal. Many of them can’t conceive of themselves as dead.”

As the story goes on, Liz meets her grandma, Betty, who passed away before Liz was born. Due to how time is measured in Elsewhere, Betty now looks quite young. Young enough to be in a relationship with Liz’s friend. We’ll get into that in a minute.

Liz is supposed to now live her life and find an avocation.

An avocation is like a job on Earth, except you have to really enjoy doing it and can only do it if it makes you happy. So Liz becomes a counsellor for the Division of Domestic Animals, and her task is to welcome dogs on Elsewhere and explain everything to them when they arrive. I loved the idea that the dogs could talk with some people that can speak the dog language. Some of my favourite scenes are when the dogs are talking – the humour in them is priceless!

At the beginning, Liz is having a very hard time accepting this reality. She dies before she could truly live her life and she will never grow up, have children, buy a house, or grow old. Not on Earth and not in Elsewhere either. She’ll just age backwards from 16 to 0. She is very depressed and spends a lot of time at the Observation Desks, where she can watch people on Earth through binoculars. She even tries an illegal way to make contact and it massively backfires. 

“Many people on Earth spend their whole lives dead.”

But in all this grief, she meets a friend and things slowly start to get better for her. She starts to find joy in the years she has left and enjoys herself. This book has a powerful message about living in the moment and making the most of life with the cards you’ve been dealt. It’s a sad, but true story about life and death, grieving, depression, but also about friendships and love.

“People, you’ll find, aren’t usually all good or all bad. Sometimes they’re a little bit good and a whole lot bad. And sometimes, they’re mostly good with a dash of bad. And most of us, well, we fall in the middle somewhere.”

The ending is a bit sad, but at the same time satisfying. And it will definitely make you want to read the book backwards as soon as you have finished it. 

About The Author:

Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin [BOOK REVIEW]

Gabrielle Zevin is an internationally best-selling and critically acclaimed author, whose books have been translated into thirty-eight languages.

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry spent several months on the New York Times Best Seller List, reached #1 on the National Indie Best Seller List, was a USA Today Best Seller, and has been a best seller all around the world.

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Book Review · Books

House of Sky and Breath (Crescent City #2) by Sarah J. Maas [BOOK REVIEW]

House of Sky and Breath (Crescent City #2) by Sarah J. Maas [BOOK REVIEW]

I enjoyed reading every second of House of Sky and Breath, even though at times I wasn’t too keen on where the story was heading. It’s a perfect continuation of House of Earth and Blood and I’m definitely curious to find out what happens in the next book in the series. 

About The Book:

House of Sky and Breath (Crescent City #2) by Sarah J. Maas [BOOK REVIEW]


Pages: 802

Format I read it in: Hardcover

Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing

Purchase Links:
Amazon UK | Amazon US

★★★★★

Synopsis:

Two sisters. One throne. Who will ultimately rise to power and wear the crown?

Wren Greenrock has always known that one day she would steal her sister’s place in the palace. Trained from birth to avenge her parents’ murder and usurp the princess, she will do anything to rise to power and protect the community of witches she loves.

Bryce Quinlan and Hunt Athalar are trying to get back to normal―they may have saved Crescent City, but with so much upheaval in their lives lately, they mostly want a chance to relax. Slow down. Figure out what the future holds.

The Asteri have kept their word so far, leaving Bryce and Hunt alone. But with the rebels chipping away at the Asteri’s power, the threat the rulers pose is growing. As Bryce, Hunt, and their friends get pulled into the rebels’ plans, the choice becomes clear: stay silent while others are oppressed, or fight for what’s right. And they’ve never been very good at staying silent.

In this sexy, action-packed sequel to the #1 bestseller House of Earth and Blood, Sarah J. Maas weaves a captivating story of a world about to explode―and the people who will do anything to save it.

My Thoughts:

This review is SPOILER FREE – I won’t be talking about any spoilers, but I may inadvertently mention some thoughts regarding the plot, so please be wary. 

As a whole, House of Sky and Breath was a true gem and I wholeheartedly enjoyed it. I read it as part of the Tandem Collective readalong throughout 15 days, and reading this book in this way made it even more meaningful. Every night, all of us readers would get together in our Instagram chats and talk about what happened and plot our theories. Having so many buddy readers made reading this book so much more enjoyable! 

The story starts with a twist, but then threads very slowly, almost at the same pace as House of Earth and Blood. If you manage to get through the first 70 pages, you will be engrossed with the story, and the pace doesn’t stop from there on. Adventures are at every corner, and the crew keeps discovering new hints and clues that make you continue reading. After those first 70 pages, stopping will be an issue – honestly! 

“Fae were highly sensitive babies. Their tantrums could last centuries.”

The characters in this book are as vivid as they are in the first one.

We met a lot of new faces that joined the crew and I loved the vibe that they brought with them. I loved that people from different houses joined and how they all had their own stories to tell as well. The only part that I didn’t like was that some characters that died in the last book were now part of the story as well. New things were discovered about them, which changed a lot of things.

The issue I have with this is I think it’s a very weak plot armour. It’s very easy to write a plot twist about someone that’s already dead. Have them done things in the past, and they can no longer talk for themselves or explain. This is however, just a matter of taste, and some people may enjoy this trope, but not me. I hope the next book doesn’t follow this path again. 

“Have you met my mom?” Bryce burst out. “Does rational ever spring to mind when you think about her? She makes sculptures of babies in beds of lettuce, for fuck’s sake.”

Sarah J. Maas did a very good job in portraying feelings.

I felt that the survivor’s guilt was portrayed very realistically at the beginning of House of Sky and Breath. It shows how different characters deal with it in a different way. You can also feel the aftermath of everything that’s happened in the first book linger in the air whilst reading, and that shows the true mastery of Maas’s writing. She created a unique atmosphere where you can almost sense what people are feeling without them saying it out loud. It was the same later on in the book where people dealt with grief and anger. 

But also, when people felt love. Aside from our obvious couple, we had some other couples along the way, and every love I read about I felt differently about, which truly shows how good the writing is. They all loved differently, but just as strongly. I was so enchanted with Ruhn’s story and his love interest. It gripped me in a way I didn’t expect it to. I knew where the story was heading and I thought I’d be untouched, but it touched me, and it’s my favourite love story in the book. And if you’ve read the book, you’ll know that says a lot. 

“But wherever you’re headed when this life is over, Quinlan, that’s where I want to be, too.”

This book engrossed me from the very beginning.

And even as I finished it, I am still enchanted by the amazing storytelling. There is so much going on in this world, with so many characters, and yet everything felt in place. Everyone’s story was told, and everything was left with a meaning behind it. Fighting for what’s right and trying to find the truth was what led this book forward. But the power of friendship and family (blood related and made one) made it worthwhile. 

“Hard to enjoy being free.” Hunt countered darkly, “if you’re dead.”

I cannot recommend House of Sky and Breath enough. If you love adult fantasy romance, the Crescent City series should be on the top of your reading pile.

About The Author:

House of Sky and Breath (Crescent City #2) by Sarah J. Maas [BOOK REVIEW]

Sarah J. Maas is the #1 New York Times and internationally bestselling author of the Throne of Glass, Court of Thorns and Roses, and Crescent City series. Her books have sold millions of copies and are published in thirty-seven languages.

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