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Book Review: Viper by Bex Hogan

Hello Readers & Friends,

A contraversial review today. I got a signed copy of Viper by Bex Hogan in my Fairyloot Favourites box and it's been raved about online as YALC approaches (Bex will be there doing a signing.) Unfortunately, it really didn't hit the mark for me and I have to give it 2 stars.

The story follows Marianne, daughter of the infamous Viper who captains the most dangerous ship of ruthless bandits in the Eastern Isles. The Viper is meant to defend the 12 isles, but her father is basically a lunatic who just likes to torture and murder people so Marianne is obviously a bit stressed about this and doesn't want to follow in his footsteps. This is the basic jist.

It could have been great. The bare foundations of everything was there - cool characters, a twisty plot, a great storyline and lots of betrayals. Unfortunately it fell flat in every possible way, and it felt like reading a first draft rather than the finished piece for me.

So, here are the main problems for me. SPOILERS below.

1. The writing. It is very, very, very simple. It breaks the key writer rule of 'show don't tell,' and just word-vomits every scene for us in a 'this happened and then this happened and she felt sad and then this happened and she felt angry' sort of way. It read as though it was written for the youngest part of YA fiction, but then goes into quite gruesome detail describing torture scenes and injury, and alludes to rape quite a few times. So who is the audience?

2.  The pirate story was strong enough without threading through this weird magic subplot. If you're going to go down the magic route, go down the magic route. Don't just keep mentioning it every few chapters as though it was an afterthought. All mentions of magic felt random, confusing and as though she was trying to squeeze two main plotlines into a single story.

3. The plot carries the story, the characters bring nothing to it. They could be anybody and it would still be the same. The only interesting character with any depth is The Viper himself.

4. Marianne is annoying and boring. She's so unrealistically obsessed with being moral that she will often put her own life in danger rather than defend herself properly. She was always getting caught and was one step behind The Viper at all times. I never saw her show any emotion, I was just told what she felt. A few times when tragic, horrible things happened to her I just didn't care because when I was reading it, I didn't feel like she cared herself.

5. There was no worldbuilding. Apart from one quite nice description of the Floral Isle I still don't understand what all the different isles are or what they do - none of it is memorable at all. 

6. I don't know if the father 'plot twist' was even a plot twist because it was so obvious.

7. Lack of depth in every character and scene. This story could have been strung out into a wonderful book if it had been written by someone like Bardugo, but it was too fast-paced with too-bland characters.

8. Marianne finds out she is supposedly this long-lost princess and just DGAF. She barely reacts or even thinks about it, ever!

9. 'Romance' between Bronn and Marianne is dull as dishwasher and need not have been included.

10. She has been betrayed time and time and time and time again by people she knows and loves and yet somehow decides to put all her faith in Torin with no proof he is trustworthy and he conveniently decides he trusts her as well and they band together to form this unstoppable duo after knowing each other for 2 minutes. Girl, please.

To summarise, for me there was so much potential and scope for this story but it lacked so much depth it read like a detailed synopsis or draft. I won't be picking up any more of this series when they release :(

Love, C x


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