Chloe Green is so close to winning. After her moms moved her from SoCal to Alabama for high school, she’s spent the past four years dodging gossipy classmates and a puritanical administration at Willowgrove Christian Academy. The thing that’s kept her going: winning valedictorian. Her only rival: prom queen Shara Wheeler, the principal’s perfect progeny. But a month before graduation, Shara kisses Chloe and vanishes.
Chloe as a character is definitely interesting and she felt very authentic. Sometimes when I’m reading contemporary books the characters either read too young or old but I feel like Casey McQuiston got all of these characters pretty spot on. I liked the fact that Chloe rebels against the rigid rules and regulations at her school. At first I was confused as to why Chloe was so adamant in figuring out what happened to Shara and why she just had to follow her clues. I felt like there was no motivating factors for her to continue chasing after Shara when it was obvious she was just messing with them and sending them on this wild goose chase.
I didn’t like Shara’s character at all honestly. From what we find out about her throughout the course of the book she has always capitalized off her position as the principal’s daughter and uses and manipulates everyone around her for her own gain. Her quest she sets out for Chloe, Smith and Rory again really showcase how much of a bad person she is and I didn’t really like how she is supposed to be redeemed at the end. We don’t get to see her have conversations with Smith and Rory about how she used them and vice versa, we’re just supposed to accept that they are all good and dying each other’s hair. She just wasn’t really held accountable for anything and that annoyed me.
Overall I just didn’t understand what the purpose of the book was. It was centered around Shara however we don’t even meet her until almost three quarters of the way through. We see everything through Chloe’s perspective and she doesn’t have the nicest things to say about her and then I’m expected to believe that it was actually love she was feeling. Shara very nearly sabotaged Chloe’s whole academic career because she actually liked her too much? Just doesn’t make sense to me.
I understand that these are teenagers and maybe the way they feel isn’t supposed to make sense and this book was just supposed to be about accepting who you are and coming to terms with your feelings and growing from that, but I came out of it not feeling miffed. The other characters were entertaining and distinctive for the most part. The Rory and Smith subplot was adorable and I really enjoyed seeing them come together!
⭐️2/5 stars I can understand the appeal, wasn’t for me though…
There’s one thing Lei knows – she can never return to the Hidden Palace. The trauma and tragedy she suffered behind those opulent walls will plague her forever. She cannot be trapped there with the sadistic king again, especially without Wren. The last time Lei saw the girl she loved, Wren was fighting an army of soldiers in a furious battle to the death.
Lei has evolved into a character that I don’t really enjoy. I know she has suffered and endured traumatic events at the hands of the King over the course of her time at the Hidden Palace but it’s the fact that she chose to stay there and not escape and yet had to rely on others to concoct the plans and execute everything. Even though she wants to kill the king (which she reiterates every time she is near him) she doesn’t actively do anything except memorise her way through the palace. I honestly would of been more impressed if she did end up sacrificing herself for Wren and she didn’t get a happy ending, really make this a tragic story and set this series apart.
I’ve been quite ambivalent towards Wren throughout the course of the series and that honestly didn’t change in this book. I get that she loves Lei and being apart isn’t ideal but the way she agonises over it every second got boring. I would of loved if we got more insight into the Hanno’s and the actual war. I just found her storyline to be a bit lacking and uneventful honestly.
Overall I just feel like the stakes weren’t there. I just knew that Lei and Wren were going to make it out alive and the fact that there wasn’t any shocking or surprising twists made me a little disappointed. Don’t get me wrong there were definitely twists but nothing that evoked any kind emotion from me. Also the pacing of the book was just way off, the first 3/4 was super slow and then the last quarter was rushed and chaotic.
I wasn’t that big a fan of the way Natasha Ngan wrote the fighting and war scenes. It made it hard to visualise what was happening and where the characters were. I had to go back and reread some passages a few times because I couldn’t figure out where certain characters were or how they moved to this other location. It brought me out of the story and didn’t really make for a good reading experience.
⭐️2/5 stars Kind of wish Girls of Paper and Fire was a stand-a-lone…
*Series Finale Spoilers*
Return to the City of Sin, where the perilous final game is about to begin…The players? Twenty-two of the most powerful, most notorious people in New Reynes. With no choice but to play, Enne and Levi are desperate to forge new alliances and bargain for their safety. But any misstep could turn deadly when a far more dangerous opponent appears on the board — one plucked straight from the city’s most gruesome legends. While Levi hides behind a mask of false promises, Enne is finally forced out from behind hers and as the game takes its final, vicious turn, these two must decide once and for all whether to be partners or enemies.
Enne honestly didn’t really do anything that blew me away in this final instalment to the series. She definitely goes on a roller coaster ride of emotions and self discovery throughout the course of the plot but I can’t say she was my favourite of the characters. When she was at her worst and was about to shoot Justin really soured her for me, Lola was her first and best friend and she was really about to kill him in front of everyone because she wanted to rush out and be a hero. I can understand she was very much in danger of being lynched by the people for being the last Mizer but some of the actions she took to get what she wants rubbed me the wrong way. I wish she just would of been more honest with everyone (especially Levi).
Levi also felt a bit lost for me in this book, thinking back he didn’t really do anything that is jumping out at me. Sure he was preoccupied with dealing with his emotions about Jac and how that translates for his obvious love for Enne but in terms of the new shadow game he wasn’t really a major factor in figuring out how to beat Bryce. I appreciated how the story kind of came full circle and it had to be him and Enne in the end who had to kill the Bargainer and how he has had to re-evaluate everything now that he is stuck in New Reynes.
I feel like all of the side characters really stole the show in this book. Lola making a bargain and finding out the truth about Enne and her heritage was a great twist. I like the fact that we see Lola on the outs with Enne and form a connection with Arabella because of it and how that plays out. Sophia trying to gain back the knowledge of what her side magic and inadvertently making friends with Poppy and Delaney. I liked their dynamic and it was easy to differentiate between them. Narinder I totally forgot he even existed but I was glad that he was able to influence Harvey and get him out from Bryce’s spell.
To be completely honest I forgot who Bryce was so the fact that he was the architect behind everything in this whole series didn’t make an impact on me at all. He obviously didn’t make enough of an impression on me when I read the last two books that I must of thought he was insignificant which I don’t know if that was purposely done by Amanda Foody or it’s just been too long since I read the other books. I feel like because that connection with him wasn’t there I didn’t really feel like his reasonings behind everything was enough. I do like the way everything was explained though and I wasn’t left with any questions but in the end it just felt a pointless to me.
⭐️3/5 stars A little anticlimactic for me
*THERE ARE SPOILERS AHEAD*
The sorority girls at Kappa Rho Nu—the Ravens—are determined to restore balance to the world. After destroying an ancient talisman and barely saving their sorority in the process, they’ll go to any lengths to keep their secret as Westerly’s most powerful coven of witches. Unbeknownst to the Ravens, new rivals and ancient evils lurk on Westerly’s campus. With Kappa Rho Nu’s future on their shoulders and their pasts still haunting them, will Scarlett and Vivi be able to save their sisterhood once again?
Scarlett just came across and very insecure throughout the course of this book. Always second guessing all of her decisions and not really standing up for herself as the president of the sorority. It makes sense now having finished the book why the other sisters kept making remarks about Scarlett’s presidency but the fact that she would just take it and not call them out on being rude and toxic didn’t make sense to me.
Vivi also didn’t really grow in any kind of way throughout the course of this book. She realises at the end how some of her actions and decisions weren’t the best but I feel like if she went back she would absolutely do the same thing. I think she really disregarded the feelings of her sisters when they tried to have the intervention with her despite saying over and over how much of a raven she is, immediately becoming super defensive and dismissive and ran straight over to the Theta’s and joined them. I also don’t understand why she didn’t just explain to Mason about Tim and why she was meeting up with him. She totally just did what Scarlett did to him and I thought it wasn’t nice of her to just blow him off time and time again and then be surprised when he breaks up with her.
I didn’t enjoy the fact that we get this new storyline with the Hadesgate but we don’t get a history of who contained it last time, or who the witch was in the old house that Vivi had the vision about. Also we find out in this book that there are guardians/witch hunters that Scarlett was warned about her whole life which is one of the reasons why they are so serious about containing the secret about their magic. But again were just given kind of the bare minimum that is told to us by Xavier but we don’t get any kind of in depth explanation about who they are and how they were established.
The whole plot was just everything turning against the Kappas all at once and them just being like oh is someone sabotaging us??? It was blatantly obvious that there was someone out to get them but there just wasn’t that sense of urgency until they lost their magic. I feel like the girls are all so cavalier about their magic and will just do a spell whenever something inconvenienced them and it was definitely interesting to see them having to try and navigate their lives without it. There was just nothing that was super surprising or gripping about this book, I was interested enough to see how it would end but this didn’t leave a lasting impression on me at all!
⭐️2/5 stars Underwhelming and forgettable!
*A few Spoilers below*
Something is wrong in Snakebite, Oregon. Teenagers are disappearing, some turning up dead, the weather isn’t normal, and all fingers seem to point to TV’s most popular ghost hunters who have just returned to town. Logan Ortiz-Woodley, daughter of TV’s ParaSpectors, has never been to Snakebite before, but the moment she and her dads arrive, she starts to get the feeling that there’s more secrets buried here than they originally let on.
I definitely liked Logan’s character a lot more than the rest of the characters in this book. The only real issue I had was that she knew that her Dads had an explanation for what was going on in Snakebite and why they were there in the first place but she wouldn’t demand they tell her. Instead she was running around in circles with Ashley while more and more people were dying. If they would have just sat her down and explained and then her and Ashley could have worked together to find the dark and stop it.
I feel like Ashley is one of those girls who was always popular, had her whole life planned out for her and then Tristan’s disappearance just turned everything upside down. I really don’t like the way her and her friends treated Logan and her dads when they first got to town and even though she wasn’t as nasty as those around her she still condoned their behaviour. I appreciated the way Logan called her out for it, but I still feel like she didn’t really learn anything from it or called her friends out for their biases enough.
I really enjoyed the fact that we got more of an insight into Brandon’s life and an explanation as to why he was so distant with Logan. Throughout the course of the book I just didn’t really understand why he was so aloof and standoffish with her, like you chose to adopt her why would you treat her like that. Even though it made sense in the end, I just really feel like if they were honest with her it wouldn’t of escalated to the point it did and maybe some of those characters didn’t have to die.
The overall mystery surrounding what happened to Tristan and why it started when Brandon first came back to Snakebite was interesting and I was intrigued enough to finish the book pretty quickly but I just feel like the atmosphere wasn’t really there for me. Even though the stakes were pretty high there was just no sense of urgency for me.
⭐️3/5 stars wasn’t as gripping as what I was expecting!