Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Remnants Book Series by Lisa T. Bergren--Book Review

Andriana is an Ailith, a member of a small group called the Remnants who were born on a specific day during a specific year in a war-torn, dystopian world and individually gifted by the Maker. Their call is to protect and restore their world from the evil that lingers. After years of training, the Remnants are ready to leave the safety of the Valley to embark on their mission in the world. But the world is a dangerous place and at every turn, enemies rise up to stop them.

Remnants: Season of Wonder (Book 1)
Season of Wonder was released in 2014 and has long been over due for a review. When I decided to review the second book (Season of Fire), I knew I had to post my thoughts of the first book as well.

I remember loving every gripping moment of the book. Lisa T. Bergren manages to capture the grittiness of a realistic dystopian world but adds in the perfect blend of fantasy/supernatural and romance. It was a thrill ride the whole way through. Despite it's length, the book went fast for me (give me one five hour airplane ride and I was finished and aching for the next book). The action speeds it up and the tender moments between Andriana and her knight, Ronan, slow it down.

From page to page, I craved Bergren's writing. She describes the world that has formed from a great war without blinders and the usual pristine, super technology. While it feels very "fallen world" (who fights with swords, eh?) there's still many aspects that give hints to modern technology (bikes, cars, electricity). It feels real, it feels lived in, it feels in need of hope and saving grace, which reminded me of some aspects of the world from Marie Lu's Legend trilogy. It's the perfect backdrop for the Remnants mission of rescue and protection. In addition, her explanation of the Remnants' gifts filled me with excitement and wonder.

I grew to love the characters immediately. While sometimes, Andriana reminds me of Katniss or Tris she is her own character and person, deep with emotion but also fiercely independent, kick-butt, and strong. I love Ronan because of his deep connection with Andriana, but also his own fierce devotion to the cause. But of all, I adore Vidar because of his laid back attitude and his tendency to crack jokes, even during serious moments. It helped lighten the load.

Overall, I enjoyed the story. The best thing about this series is that it contains all the elements of a YA dystopian story, yet it holds something much more powerful than any other story. It doesn’t feel dystopian and overwritten or trite. It doesn’t feel boring or like I’ve read this story, I’ve seen this girl, I know this plot like every other dystopian I’ve read in recent years.  It was fresh with action, romance, and vivid emotions and details. It took me beyond the simple "Let's start a rebellion" and gave good purpose to the actions of the characters.

Remnants: Season of Fire (Book 2)
I started this book with the lingering memory of the first book being wonderful. I knew that this book would be so much more. I wasn't wrong and I wasn't disappointed.

It was amazing. I know, I say this about a lot of books I read. But truly, I am amazed. But this one is so much better—I think—than the first. The stakes are higher, the action is thicker, and the purpose, the goal, the Call is greater. Things are moving toward a bigger picture, a fuller story arc, and I can't wait to see what happens next.

The book is told in two first-person POV narrations, which differs from book one's single first-person narration of Andriana. This time we get a glimpse of Ronan's thoughts. And I loved it. While the dual-POVs gave away that the characters would be separated from one another, it didn't hinder the plot. It enhanced it. I was able to get another side to the story, a deeper look into the knights' side of the team—the pull, the urge to protect the gifted and to be near them to know they are safe. It also made me appreciate Ronan more for who he is, not just who Andriana sees him as.

The entire book flowed well, nothing feeling out of place, dragged out, or unreasonable. I loved learning more about different gifts, even Emperor Kellach’s terrifyingly power gift. The book went fast because I was pulled into the story and the action trickled in slowly but came full force.

And let me tell you about that ending: wow. Just wow. I am amazed and my heart races that Lisa T. Bergren would do this, change the story in this way, change this futuristic world in this way.

I said this book made me cry tears of joy, which is rare for me. There were moments of pure joy, pure wonder, pure glory that had me wishing I could weep alongside these characters as they witnessed the power they held inside of them because of the Maker.

Unlike many YA trilogies that tend to start off well but fall shorter with each book, this series has become better with the sequel and I can only hope for more in the next book, Season of Glory. Is it 2016 yet?

-Jaime 

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