All that Glows: review

February 19, 2014 1.5 star books, faeries, Kate, ryan graudin 69 ★½

All that Glows: reviewAll that Glows by Ryan Graudin
Published by HarperTeen on February 11, 2014
Genres: fantasy
Pages: 480
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
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Emrys—a fiery, red-headed Fae—always embraced her life in the Highlands, far from the city’s draining technology, until she’s sent to London to rejoin the Faery Guard. But this isn’t any normal assignment—she’s sent to guard Prince Richard: Britain’s notorious, partying bad boy and soon-to-be King. The prince’s careless ways and royal blood make him the irresistible for the dark spirits that feed on mortals. Sweet, disheveled, and alive with adventure—Richard is one charge who will put Emrys’s magic and heart to the test.

When an ancient force begins preying on the monarchy, Emrys must hunt through the London’s magical underworld, facing down Banshees, Black Dogs and Green Women to find the one who threatens Richard’s life. In this chaos of dark magic, palace murders and paparazzi, Emrys finds herself facing an impossible choice. For despite all her powers, Emrys has discovered a force that burns brighter than magic: love.

I’ll admit that I am partially to blame for what happened here. I read the premise, and I thought this would be a reverse Jane Eyre–or at the very least a reverse Twilight–with, you know, like a billion-year-old lady who falls in love with a teenage boy. I thought the power dynamics would be knocked on their tiny heads. I thought this bad-ass Fae warrior would have to make some tough choices about a humble soldier’s worthiness as a match for a prince. Basically I wanted She-Hector.

And that’s all on me. Totally, no sarcasm, my fault. I know that the thing I wanted can’t really work in a young adult romance novel. I get it. Young women tend to be more mature than young men, so the popular fantasy is of an older dude (who doesn’t look creepily older). It really is super appealing. And your audience (teenage girls) needs to relate to your protagonist. Teenage girls are insecure and awkward. They are terrified of absolutely everything. They think 18-year-old boys (or boys who WILL be 18 in 21 days, and THEN they’ll also be KING) are really freaking cool.

(BTW, this concept could absolutely work in an adult romance novel, because the dude would be an age that isn’t terrible, and the power thing might be interesting because she’s magical and old and super confident, but he’s the freaking KING, and that’s pretty cool, and she loves him…)

But this fairy chick is hundreds of years old. She can afford to wear absolutely anything she likes. She can change her appearance whenever she wants to because she is magical (right now she’s a redhead). She is an amazing enough soldier that she’s been assigned to guard the human crown prince against magical attacks.

Why. Why on earth. I mean–what does she see in this dude? He’s just a vanilla pudding nothing of a human being. He’s awful. He’s a Prince Freaking Harry. He goes to clubs and sits in a booth getting drunk with his lame friends like some frat boy dumb-dumb.

And our girl falls in love with HIM? Because, what, he’s the only human who can see through her dumb fairy shield? Are you fucking kidding me? He’s an idiot. A TEENAGED idiot. And she decides she’s in love with him and sits in his dumb bar booth like some silly ornament, treating all the age-appropriate chicks who are interested in him like worthless sluts, giving them nicknames like “Eyeliner” and “Mousy Hair?” Get over yourself. Other women are not the enemy, no matter how much cleavage they show. God, I hate you, Emrys. You are the worst.

Oh, the other reason she’s in love with the prince–this is great–is that she gets hit on by a SUPER drunk dude in the restroom, and she loses her head (don’t get me started, I am SO angry), and Drunky McPrinceling punches the dude in the face. And rescues her. Magical warrior lady. Hundreds of years old. Elite fighting force. Five percent into the book. Scared of a drunk guy. In love with a child.

Oh, and the lady’s name is Emrys, right? So guess what the dumb prince’s dumb nick-name for her is? Guess. No, really, guess. It’s Embers. EMBERS. What the–that’s like the name you live with because your two-year-old sister can’t pronounce your real one, and the wrong name is too adorable for anyone to ever let it go (like my old boss Wah Wah). And the prince’s name is Richard, of all boring things with potentially terrible (and accurate) nicknames.

I… You guys, I really did not enjoy this book (I also really, really, really hope the author does not Google herself today. I’d originally written much more, but I deleted a lot of it because, honestly, why beat a dead horse). There is just absolutely no excuse for this level of sexism in a book for young readers. None. And if you’re going to be sexist, or racist (there is no diversity here), or whatever, then at least don’t be boring and over-long. Sigh.

An advance copy was provided by the publisher for this review.


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You can read Wendy’s more moderate and well-reasoned (though still negative) opinion here.




69 Responses to “All that Glows: review”

  1. Jennifer

    Oh such a pretty cover with a story that seems interesting. Faeries ? The female is a fae that is a fighter ? But your review has crushed my hopes to have a kick-ass heroin. I wouldn’t have minded if the heroin would have find ridiculous but courageous of Richard his help but her being afraid and saved that way ? That seems more the kind of book I would disagree a lot with. So thanks for the “warning”.

  2. Cait @ Notebook Sisters

    Oh my gosh….I’m laughing here and I feel bad because I’m laughing at your pain, but STILL. This is quite a hilarious review. >_< "Scared of a drunk guy. In love with a child." Whaaaat?! The entire concept has my head boggled. Why do women need to be portrayed as weak to catch a guy, especially in literature? It. is. so. sexist, and never stops bugging my daylights out.
    Cait @ Notebook Sisters recently posted…The Firebird Mystery by Darrell Pitt

  3. Faye @ The Social Potato

    Hahaha! I loved your review, Kate! I can totally feel the torture you felt reading this in your review! I do understand your points, though… being a hundred years old, you’d think she developed a high standard considering she has probably meet thousands of people, but here she goes falling for the first shmuck that can see through her. I don’t find that realistic at all, and honestly, it’s very cliché and while I expect it from similar premises in YA, I always have this hope inside me that authors would be original enough to make their romance starter different. Oh, well!

    Suffice to say, I’m not reading this one ;D
    Faye @ The Social Potato recently posted…Review: Cress by Marissa Meyer

    • Kate Bond

      I get it SLIGHTLY more when a 100-year-old dude is into a young chick, because we’ve evolved to do that, but man, was this male love interest ever the dud of all duds. At least with Twilight we saw things from Bella’s perspective, you know?

      There was just absolutely no reason for this chick to be into this dude. Absolutely none.
      Kate Bond recently posted…Hook’s Revenge: exclusive cover reveal + giveaway!

  4. Alashandra Reynolds

    Thanks for the honest review. The concept has potential but its to bad that the execution of it messed it up. Thanks to reviews like yours I can get to all the good books out there and not waste my time on the rest.

  5. Brittany T

    I’m so bummed this one hasn’t lived upto it’s potential. I think the premise is great and love all things fae but wahh wahh I think I actually might end up skipping it.

    • Kate Bond

      It’s a pretty major bummer, Brittany. I will say, if you read the e-book sample–you know, the first couple of chapters–you’ll be able to tell whether the content is for you. The book drags in the last half, but otherwise the beginning is the same as the rest. Maybe you’ll like it more than I did.
      Kate Bond recently posted…Hook’s Revenge: exclusive cover reveal + giveaway!

  6. Irene

    It’s really unfortunate that this story wasn’t written well ’cause I love, love, LOVE age gaps in relationships. This book sounds like something that would make me ragey so I’m definitely gonna stay away from it. Thanks for the review!

  7. Layla A

    Yeah, this is generally why teenager / older person relationships don’t work for me (Unless you are Rose Hathaway. In which case, carry on!)

    Don’t get me wrong, teenagers are great! But why you would want to date a teenager if you yourself were not a teenager … I am at a loss there. And I say that as a 29 year old. If I were hundreds of years old and had magical powers to boot? Nope nope nope nope nope.

    I can weirdly see that working as a sitcom though. Awesome badass fairy soldier and clueless almost-king teen prince have to become roommates and she learns about being human and he learns about, like, history and fighting the undead. Or something. And there is a lot of eye-rolling when the prince fucks up, which happens often, because he is a teenager and they are like puppies.
    Layla A recently posted…Blood Promise (Vampire Academy, #4)

    • Kate Bond

      Layla. There are SO MANY WAYS this concept could work. The author seems to have chosen the only version of it that DOESN’T work. Grrrrr.

      When I was a teenager, I had friends who dated dudes in their twenties, and I always felt like a guy that age must be a SUPER loser who couldn’t get a girl his own age to go out with him. And now that I’m 29 (twinsies!), I believe it even more. I can’t imagine falling in love with a teenage boy/puppy at my age. I can imagine wanting to sleep with one (to be honest), but not love. No no no. And I’m not even 30.

  8. Emily @ Oh Magic Hour

    Oh man, bummer. I hate reading books that make me rage-y like this. I have to say, I’m actually really pleased that you reviewed this so fully despite not liking it. Sometimes these more negative reviews are my favorite – I feel like bloggers can get so worried about what the author thinks or whatever that we just don’t review books we don’t like and pretend they never happened. But bad books (or bad books for that particular reader at least) DO happen, and I think it’s good to discuss why and how they could be made better. Thanks for this!
    Emily @ Oh Magic Hour recently posted…Book Review: Fire & Flood by Victoria Scott

    • Kate Bond

      I agree. I so hate writing negative ones, though, partially because my husband is a professional writer and I see how his negative reviews make him feel. Sigh.

  9. Larissa

    This one has been sitting on my bookshelf for awhile now, collecting dust. I think I’ve been on page 34 for two years now??? Ooops. Your review hasn’t really inspired me to pick it up again haha. I hate when books have sexism, it’s so utterly unnecessary. And it never really is necessary. It’s perpetuating that it’s okay, and sexism obviously isn’t. Grrr. And of course this is aimed towards easily influenced teens (I’m one of them and can admit I’m pretty easily influenced haha). The prince sounds like a completely boring douchebag. Haha odd combo. Doesn’t make him anymore tolerable.

    Great review!
    Larissa recently posted…Review: Stolen Songbird by Danielle L. Jensen

    • Kate Bond

      That’s the thing for me, too–that this is for teens. When I was a teenager, I genuinely believed that I was really special and awesome because I had this group of guys I hung out with. I had girlfriends, too, but there were like 7 dudes who I’d hang out with after school every day. And it’s fine to be friends with boys, but I think popular culture teaches us that girls who relate to boys are better, or that pretty girls can’t be friends with girls because they’re jealous of us or whatever, and… You know, the Mila Kunis thing. I was a real Mila Kunis-style asshole in high school. Teasing boys with jokes like “Your vagina is showing” and shit like that.

      SO yeah, I hate things like this that enforce that mentality.

  10. Mary @ BookSwarm

    OMG YES!! That prince who would be king was SUCH a loser. How could someone who’s been around for as long as she has with as much smarts (supposedly) and experience behind her ever fall for that? I skimmed the majority of the book just because I wanted to see what happened in the end…and, sadly, it was what I expected. No twists. Vanilla (such a good word for this).
    Mary @ BookSwarm recently posted…Speed date with Arin: THE WINNER’S CURSE by Marie Rutkoski

  11. Marianne @ Boricuan Bookworms

    You’re telling me that a hundred year old very POWERFUL, very amazing, supernatural being is afraid of a pathetic drunk guy? Yeah that would be a huge DNF for me. I have the review copy sitting on my desk, so I’ll have to read at least SOMETHING. I think my motivation to read this will be the fact that I can rant about this later.
    Great review!
    Marianne @ Boricuan Bookworms recently posted…{Book Recommendation} The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski

    • Kate Bond

      OMG Marianne, I highly recommend skimming, because this thing is over 400 pages long. Setting yourself up for a good rant is good, too, though.

    • Kate Bond

      Right? WHY WHY WHY would you want to date a child? I get wanting to be physical with someone young, sure, but in YA lit that’s never a factor! Argh!

  12. Jessica Cooley

    Nice review – you ranted and made sure we know how you feel without being a crazy! Love it. It’s a fine line to walk and you did it well. I had not heard of this book until you reviewed it and I’m going to stay away from it.

    I agree that it’s interesting premise though. Two things I thought of with the age difference being the female – 1. you’re on the nose about an adult novel working better with this concept and 2. after some thought, I do think it could work with an almost 18 year old if the kid was like Gansey from The Raven Boys. AND, how cool would it be if the teen guy was actually the reincarnation of someone ancient and his past lives came out to play or something. It sounds silly but it might work in the right hands.

    Either way, avoiding this book! Thanks for the warning!
    Jessica Cooley recently posted…Dream Thieves: Book Review

    • Kate Bond

      See, that’s what bothers me about it, too. The AUTHOR seems to be ok with the slut shaming. I’m fine with slut shaming being a part of a story–just as I am with racism or ageism–but not when it’s treated like a good, normal way for a grown (VERY old) woman to behave.

      The cover tricked me.

    • Kate Bond

      Yeah, but then he doesn’t actually grow. And grown-ups aren’t attracted to surly, alcoholic teenage brats.

      I was IRATE when the prince rescued her by punching the drunk guy. IRATE. Grrrrr.

    • Kate Bond

      I wouldn’t classify this as “So Bad it’s Good.” It’s at least 100 pages too long for that. But go to town, girl–maybe you’ll even actually like it!

  13. Wendy Darling

    You know, I wasn’t nearly as irritated by this book as you were (or the many other people who are upset with the writing), but you are totally right about how sexist this book is. Is it worse that it’s inadvertent sexism, in that I don’t think the author quite intended or perhaps realized the message she was reinforcing over and over? Hmm.

    • Kate Bond

      Part of what frustrates me is that this FEELS like it started in a good place, you know? It’s not a BAD idea. But the execution… man.
      I don’t think inadvertent sexism is less bad, but I don’t think it’s the kind of thing that you can learn from and not do the next time. Kind of like accidentally writing all your characters as white people.

    • Kate Bond

      I know, we never really got to see her be bad-ass. She as kind of just incompetent.

      And holy crap, was Richard ever the most boring love interest of all time.

    • Kate Bond

      Yeah, the lady in this book should have been having sex for sure. I wonder at what age Fearies peak sexually. Huh. In that way, a teenager might be a good match, if she doesn’t mind having to train him up a bit.

  14. Carina Olsen

    Ack! I’m so glad I decided to not read this book, despite having it via Edelweiss.. I just did not think I would enjoy it. And reading this review, I know I would have hated it as well. I’m sorry you didn’t like it, though. But thank you for being honest. <3 But seriously. That sounds like an awful love interest, to be honest. Not someone I would like :\ Sigh.
    Carina Olsen recently posted…Waiting on Wednesday #123

  15. Kim

    $240 worth of pudding? Nah, probably not. (Please get this reference please)

    This sounds like a book I would absolutely hate! I can’t believe that one girl wore eyeliner. The audacity.

    • Kate Bond

      THE STATE.

      You would hate this book. “Eyeliner” upsets the main character by having her “…cleavage thrust unsubtly in Richard’s direction,” because you know what TEENAGERS are good at is GIVING OFF and PICKING UP ON subtle physical cues. Emrys is a creepy old weirdo. Ugh.

      I’m gonna go stick my hand in a pot of boiling water.
      Kate Bond recently posted…All that Glows: review

  16. Kristen@My Friends Are Fiction

    Wow, I love this review because it is so well articulated. I struggle so much sometimes in expressing my thoughts and you just write this and I can tell from reading it that I don’t want to read this. I know for a fact that everything you mention would bother me to no end. I love your idea of the romance novel. That would be wonderful. I hate it when a book has a ton of potential but is not realized. And really, she was scared of a drunk oaf at a bar? No, just no.
    Kristen@My Friends Are Fiction recently posted…Lego Cover Art- The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski

    • Kate Bond

      I lean toward liking them… Although now that I think about it, I don’t like many YA ones. I love Feary stuff by, like, Seanan McGuire and Neal Gaiman; not so much that Julie Kagawa stuff.

  17. Keertana @ Ivy Book Bindings

    I’ve read negative review after negative review for this book, which is a shame as its premises seemed so promising. Ultimately, though, this seems like a train wreck. If there’s anything I hate in media and literature, it’s sexism. It’s uncalled for, unnecessary, and leaves readers with an incorrect view of society and gender. It’s actually dangerous and detrimental when discriminatory ideas like sexism catch on and become popular among teens which is why I’m so disappointed that this book was published, especially by a well-known company. *sigh* Thanks for such an articulate, honest review, though, Kate. I won’t be picking this up during this life, that’s for sure.
    Keertana @ Ivy Book Bindings recently posted…Young Adult Mini-Reviews: Jasper Jones by Craig Silvey & The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson

    • Kate Bond

      It’s really a bummer, Keertana. I was ready to love this book even if the writing was bad, to be honest, because I wanted a YA book with a story like this, but…nope. Ah, well. On to the next.

    • Kate Bond

      IIIIIIII know! Can you imagine? I’m in my TWENTIES and the idea of interacting with a teenage boy regularly gives me the heebies. I can’t imagine falling in love with one when while several centuries old.

      • Dreams

        Several centuries old and falling for a teenage boy? Slightly creepy. Several centuries old and falling for the award winning stupid teenage boy? *bangs head on desk*

        Add in the rest of your glowing review, and I’m tossing this one firmly in the “Do Not Waste Your Time” category.
        Dreams recently posted…Waitin on… Side Effects(37)