The Elites is a post apocalyptic novel about the city Neo-Babel. After a huge world war Neo-Babel is the only city left standing. The city was a social experiment before the end of the world, where all cultures came and lived together. As such, The Elites is full of a culturally diverse cast of characters.
Silver is an elite, someone chosen for their genetic superiority and bread from a young age to be skilled soldiers. Her best friend is Butterfly, a boy who had wings grafted into his back.
I enjoyed The Elites. The concept of the novel is not unique, but it was something that felt fresh. It was engaging, had good writing, a good plot, and realistic characters. It was a solid good novel.
However, I could see where it could have been amazing. With some tweaks of the dialogue, a more detailed background, and more culture thrown in the book would have been a solid excellent novel. Having read Ngan's latest book (The Girls of Paper and Fire) I know how she has grown as an author. While The Elites is a good novel, it is not the same excellence as her latest work.
With that being said, The Elites was still a very enjoyable read.
This entire series had me conflicted, and Emperor of Thorns is no exception. The writing was a little slower and I felt like the book was dragging. Then it would pick up and rush forward only to drag again. At the same time Jorg is humanized more in this book. While his actions are not excused they were given reasons, reasons that were understandable. In some ways he even became a hero. Yet, he is still a monster.
There was also a lot more female representation in this book. The pope is female, his wife is present, his aunt has a large role, and the necromancer is back. There is actually a large selection of female characters. Some are in power, most have at least some power, and they become more dynamic characters. His wife is probably the best character in the entire book. She is smart, cunning, merciful, and will defend her family and kingdom to the end. She is my favorite character in the entire series. It was a refreshing change from the first book.
I do not know if I actually like the ending. I suppose there really was no other way to end it. Although, the identity of The Dead King was pretty obvious. How it all came together was both over dramatic and anticlimactic. At the same time it worked. Ugh. I am not sure how I can be so conflicted about a book, and the series as a whole. I will say that Emperor of Thorns was my favorite of the series. I do not think I will ever be a Jorg groupie - he is a total sexist monster - but, I am glad that I read the series.
I have such mixed feelings about this book. In one regard it is an absolutely discussing world with discussing characters. Yet, while the world is graphic and deadly it is also brilliant. And while Jorg, the murderous boy King is horrific, he owns his sins and continues to grow as a character. It does not make it forgivable, but it does make it worth reading.
Lawrence grew in this second book as well. In the first book there were all of two female characters that were developed enough to have names. The side female characters were all rapped and killed. It was not all that endearing as a female reader. I also wonder at how so little progress can be made in the world that we are back to such discrimination and sexism. I cannot say that King of Thorns made much progress, but it did make progress. Women are now evil villains as well. Which, considering the book, works.
While I could probably write an entire thesis on the gender bias in fantasy novels, the plus side is that the novel is well written with an engaging literary style. The lack of memory in this second book is a little disconcerting. It was understandable in the first book, but a bit trite in the second book. However, like the first novel, by the end of the book it all comes together. I honestly think that if Jorg did not make such great strides in character growth that I could not stomach these books at all. Instead I am left with this weird love hate feeling about these books.
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