REVIEW: Viper by Bex Hogan

Hey bibliophiles! My blog seems to be semi  up and running again, so I’m taking the opportunity to pop in with a quick review, which I admittedly wrote back in April and never ended up publishing. You know how we do over here.

Aaaaaanyways. A while ago, the lovely Pan Macmillan team sent me a review copy of the first instalment of the Isles of Storm and Sorrow trilogy, Viper, and I’m here to share my thoughts.

Disclaimer: this review contains massive spoilers. Seriously, don’t read this if you’re planning on reading Viper but haven’t been able to pick it up yet. Trust me. I just kind of needed to vent.

Seventeen-year-old Marianne is fated to one day become the Viper, defender of the Twelve Isles.

But the reigning Viper stands in her way. Corrupt and merciless, he prowls the seas in his warship, killing with impunity, leaving only pain and suffering in his wake.

He’s the most dangerous man on the ocean . . . and he is Marianne’s father.

She was born to protect the islands. But can she fight for them if it means losing her family, her home, the boy she loves – and perhaps even her life?

Viper was honestly quite a refreshing bit of fantasy, coming from somebody who has exclusively been reading YA fantasy in 2019 (I’m working on changing that). I’d never read anything pirate-esque or set at sea prior to this, so as soon as I got my copy from Pan Macmillan, I was pretty excited to dive in – see what I did there? I kind of struggled with this one though, and in the end I realised that my feelings towards Viper could best be described as indifferent.

I honesty have nothing against this book – I enjoyed the writing and the story has plenty of redeeming qualities. However, I simply don’t feel connected to either the story or the characters, and whether or not I ever learn what happens next in the story doesn’t really bother me. I wouldn’t mind reading the sequel, but I’m not ready to start throwing my money at this author, if that makes any sense.

This could, of course be chalked up to personal preference and a “whatever floats your boat” kind of thing (I’m making water jokes again). This is why I’m going to touch on some of the things I did and did not enjoy about Viper, in the form of (edited and censored) bullet points I made whilst and immediately after reading this book.

WHAT I DIDN’T LOVE:

  • Corny weird summoning chants/magic words: why?
  • Even more corny, awful dialogue between her and her father. This writing felt forced and just made me cringe.
  • Main character was hella confused about her own identity, is she a lovely caring healer or is she a dark, evil, monster-summoning wench? I can’t tell, and I don’t think she can either.
  • Really felt a bit like of Throne of Glass on boats? Like maybe too much? Lost princess of some magic land who must reclaim her throne, randomly uncovers her magic powers etc. etc. bla bla.
  • Final scene where she kills her father felt awkward, clumsy and unrealistic. Another forced bit of writing which was quite obviously just stuck in there to make sure the story went in the direction the author wanted it to.
  • Just didn’t grab me. The plot wasn’t necessarily boring, but I didn’t care enough about the characters or the storyline to really get into it. Perhaps I just didn’t click with the writing or relate to Marianne.

 

WHAT I DID LOVE:

  • SO BRUTAL WTF (literally, this book had some gory, chilling bits that I absolutely loved).
  • “Nothing says, ‘don’t cross me’ like the public slaughter of your own child” THIS LINE WAS A JAW-DROPPER.
  • Decent diversity with Torin’s sexuality. I also loved how normalised this was – nobody made any noise about the prince being in love with a man and it was super cute.
  • Marianne and Torin’s friendship is also lovely; their instant connection honestly made my heart swell and I love how they support each other, understand that their hearts both belong to another but are still excited to kind of unite in marriage for the greater good (listen to me sounding like Grindelwald).
  • Loved the world building and the references to different plants and their healing properties. This was super interesting, and I hope to see more of Marianne the healer if I continue this series.
  • Marianne’s new family that she finds <3 and what happens to them </3 (I didn’t even edit this into full sentences because this honestly says enough).
  • The romance between Marianne and Bronn is decent – it didn’t override the main plot too much and it only irritated me about 50% of the time.
  • A LOT happened.

 

All in all, there were definitely elements that I enjoyed. As you can clearly see though, I didn’t even care enough to write full paragraphs on this one. I gave this book 3 stars on Goodreads but I’m playing nice and calling it 3,5.

Viper was published on the 18thof April 2019 and released in South Africa last month. If you do love S.J Maas books, strong female characters, angsty father-daughter relationships, or you know, pirates – definitely pick this book up and let me know what you think down in the comments or over on my bookstagram page. I’d love to chat about it!

let me know your thoughts!