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review 2014-03-16 00:30
Brief Thoughts: Fire Study
Fire Study - Maria V. Snyder

My thoughts for this book don't stray far from my thoughts about the first two books, including my opinion of the story, the world, the concept, the writing style and the characters.  So, in order not to rehash too many things already said, I'll just leave it at the fact that, overall, this book was highly enjoyable and a bit more exciting than the second book had been.


I liked the plot in Fire Study and much of the development.  While the second book was kind of "meh", this one managed to amp up the intrigue a bit more.  Although, this isn't to say that I won't soon tire of the "Evil Magicians Trying to Gain More Evil Powers Through Bloodshed and Higher Level Wicked Rituals" trope.  Just because the details change, doesn't mean the plot device doesn't get old.


Hopefully when the fourth book comes out, we can stand to have a different story plot to follow.



As a whole, the series is decently enjoyable.  I must admit that as much as I would prefer that the writing style be slightly different (more surprise twists, less predictability, more emotional impact, less rushing forward to the next scene before I can even register what's going on in the present scene), I really have enjoyed all the creativity of the Study series' world.  Maria V. Snyder's story concepts and character designs are akin to what I like to read about (and this includes the Healer series that I will be finishing fairly soon).  She's got strength in her characters with strong main female and male leads as well as extremely supportive side characters who light up the atmosphere.  Friendships are strong and who doesn't like reading about a small group of close-knit friends bickering at each other all the time.


While they weren't the most memorable characters individually, I know I wouldn't mind seeing more of Yelena, Valek and crew in the future books that are planned.  In fact, I may not have fallen in love with him, but Valek was an interesting main male character I wished we could have seen more of through the last two books.  Not that I don't love Yelena, but I DID do a mental fist pump whenever Valek finally made his appearances half-way through both Magic Study and Fire Study.


Life for Yelena just didn't seem as attractive without him.


In other words, as mundane as the pacing and tone of the writing is, I will continue to contemplate reading more of Ms. Snyder's works.  At the very least, I know I'll come across kickass heroines and dreamy heroes who work together to save the world without getting in each others' way.


I can't help it.  I like what I like.  And now that the next three books in this series has been announced, I'm interested enough to continue reading on.

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review 2014-03-08 00:09
Review: Magic Study
Magic Study (Study #2) - Maria V. Snyder

Like the first book, this one also has a lot of rich world-building history and a well-rounded story that unfolds nicely.  Some events feel rehashed, but still ties in with the plot properly.  I DO find it rather amusing that it feels like a running gag that Yelena's life is never going to be peaceful or quiet and that she'll always be looking over her shoulder or fighting for her life -- at least THAT makes things interesting.


Again, while the writing is good, I still have some quibbles about the tone and the style -- we range from getting a more historical style of speech to more modern styles, and on top of that, there was some cheesy dialogue inserted at certain points. The plot twists are fairly predictable, so there seemed to be no element of surprise anywhere. Events happen and then events pass and there's really no time to really think about them, so half the time my "Feels" were probably only in the "Ready" position, never making it to the actual "Feels" part.  So a lot of the events, to me, were kind of "meh".


Also, there felt to be a lot more telling than showing, but that didn't really bother me much.  I mean, this is a first person POV after all...

The characters drive this book more than anything, much like the first book, and without them, the story might still be enjoyable, but it would run a bit flatter and get boring fast.

Yelena's kickass, Valek's awesome, and the rest of the characters form a terrific supporting structure around these two (even though we barely get to see Valek until the last half of the book). Unfortunately, none of the other characters in this book really leave a lasting impression.

Leif made an interesting obstacle, blood-relative or not, I haven't gotten around to forgiving him as easily as Yelena has (which makes her more magnanimous than me) since he generally spent most of his time trying to get his own sister killed. When he first presented himself as the suspicious, arrogant, rude, condescending prick that he is, I already foresaw a couple betrayal actions coming from him

and he didn't disappoint. I understand that he's been living in this fourteen year guilt spilling over into his life since he was an eight year old child. But you are a grown-ass adult now! Learn to deal with your own demons instead of trying to banish or kill your sister just because YOU feel ashamed for letting her get kidnapped. That is all.

(spoiler show)

Overall, Magic Study was a good and enjoyable read. I especially appreciate that the references to the first book were strewn throughout the book rather than concentrated as an info dump at the beginning. It always helps the story flow much smoother.

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review 2014-03-05 02:33
Review: Poison Study
Poison Study - Maria V. Snyder

This was a high enjoyable, fast-paced, well-written, well thought out story with excellent characters and an interesting concept.  It's structured well.  And I love me some character interaction (though this one is missing some of that effortless witty banter I wished it had), and I'm drawn to groups of characters who do well to help each other out (as opposed to those books that have characters who are always moody and paranoid and trying throw each other under buses).


So, yes, I did enjoy reading Poison Study from the beginning until the very end.


However, I must say that a lot of things still fell kind of flat -- there was an undertone of intriguing scenarios, but the feeling I got from it was kind of monotonous.  Or, well, I personally felt kind of "meh" while reading certain parts of the book.  Things just kind of happened... and then we moved on.  Also, it didn't help that a lot of the plot twists were fairly predictable -- there were too many hints that forced you to make connections and when the book itself made a reveal, it wasn't as exciting as it felt like it should have been.


Nonetheless, the story thrives on the characters and the world and the concept.  To become a food taster for the highest ranking man in the country, with your life forfeit, prepared to die each and every day... It was an interesting idea.


Yelena is a great character: kickass, intelligent, resourceful, level-headed, talented...  She's probably going to become superhuman in the next few books if she keeps getting stronger like a shounen manga character.  Valek is already able and strong, so the pair of them together will create awesomely superhuman perfect babies... or they'll just be super elite as a couple working together to save the world.


I enjoyed the friendship between Yelena and the Power Twins, Janco and Ari.  That was a sweet set-up, and I look forward to seeing more of that as well as more friendships developing in the rest of the series.  As opposed to stories where everyone is always at each other's throats, trying to stab each other in the back or just being plain mean for the sake of being mean, or betraying friends in order to save their own asses... I think I much prefer seeing characters actually enjoy each others' company and helping each other survive in a bleak world.


I liked the developments in the story (even if they were predictable), and I enjoyed some of the brief (very, very brief) "Poison Training" sessions.


So, yeah... while the tone of the story felt a bit flat, it was still well-written and I enjoyed reading this book quite a bit.

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