Monday, 1 April 2013

Ballad - Book Review

Maggie Stiefvater
 YA paranormal
When his best friend, Dee, fell in love with a faerie, James realised she’d never feel the same way about him.
Trying to escape into music, James finds himself surrounded by more faeries than ever. Before he knows it, James is trapped in a dangerous game. One where the only way to win is to betray the one you love…
Ok, I’ll be up front. I LOVE Maggie Steifvater’s books and so far, am a big fan of all her works but honestly… this book didn’t really do much for me. Which is a shame, as I thoroughly enjoyed this books prequel, Lament, but with Ballad I just couldn’t get into the story. I think this was because I had gotten used to James being a secondary character and I didn’t like him as much as a main. Also I had been hoping this book would answer all the questions Lament had left unanswered but unfortunately, it didn’t. This book is James’ story and Dee didn’t play a big part in it.
The story begins with James and Dee’s move to music school. Yet due to recent past events – mostly psychotic killer fairies – their relationship has begun to fall apart and they are no longer the best friends they were. James soon replaces Dee’s companionship with Nualas, a fairy who can bring upon students fame and fortune in exchange for their life’s energy.
Naturally, James declines her offer but Nuala refuses to be ignored so easily. With persistence, she finally breaks through James defences and into his heart as well. She never expects to fall for him in return and intrigued by this human who shuns her, Nuala finds herself wanting to be around him more and more. Yet Nuala is more dangerous and darker than even she herself knows… and her darkness may just very cost James his life…
Despite not enjoying this story as much as I had hoped, there were many things about this book that I liked. Nuala for one is a very interesting character, with a fascinating story, and she certainly helped to make this book interesting.
James’ is also fun to read. I liked his sarcastic sense of humour and witty remarks but ultimately, I missed Dee. I felt like I wanted to know what was happening with her but her character in this book becomes very whinny and other than ‘unsent’ text messages, we don’t really find out much of what’s happening on her side of the story.
However while the plot wasn’t particularly action packed, it did hold my attention. And while I never felt like the characters were in any real danger, the romance between James and Nuala is very sweet to read and is one of the main things that I liked about this book.
All in all, I thought it was a rather average read – mostly I think because Lament gave me high expectations. For this reason, even though this is the second book of a trilogy, it reads well as a standalone and so I would suggest that anyone who hasn’t read the series begins with Ballad. I think you’ll enjoy this book a lot more by reading it first. Lament however is definitely one to check out and I’m still curious to see how the story will conclude in the last and final book. 3 stars!
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  1. I have this on my pile of books to read. I really liked Lament as well as what a shame that you were disappointed with this one..

  2. Ballad > Lament in my opinion.
    Not saying Lament was bad, but I personally hated Dee as a character. Sure, she has my sympathy in the idea that she was a normal girl who knew nothing of what the world around her truly held, and when she found out, she could barely handle the stress and closed herself off, but the way she acts just really makes me hate her. The tipping point was when she completely forgot about James in the final scenes and was about to sacrifice him for Luke. That was the point in which I gave up on her character. In truth, I had always liked James, since his character was always the one that made the book enjoyable. Also, his struggle with unrequited love is extremely believable and you really wanna root for him. This is why I enjoyed Ballad so much more. While at the beginning, it seems he still is close to Dee, he soon starts to pull away from her after Nuala arrived. Nuala, in my opinion, is a much better character than Dee. She isn't that "air heady" character who just sort of does whatever is on her mind, and her interaction with James doesn't make me feel depressed. (page 121-122 as reference) I also hated how, once Nuala and James became more open with their affection, Dee suddenly got the idea that she had the right to claim James for herself? Seriously, just made me not like her a bit.
    In conclusion. It isn't really the story that I didn't like in Lament, it was really just Dee. I just hated the way she presented herself and made decisions without thinking them fully through. The only moments in Lament that I could even really enjoy was when James was in the fold making sarcastically funny comments, which was limited throughout the book. That is why I personally believe Ballad to be better, at least to me. Good review nonetheless.

  3. Romantic, unique, and hilarious, Maggie Stiefvater's Ballad is a book you simply cannot miss. In addition, if you're already missing the Wolves of Mercy Fall trilogy and haven't read this one yet, reading this is the perfect way to feel a little less sad about that series ending.