Viper by Bex Hogan

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?


Marthinus, year 9

26th November 2020 at 6:32 pm

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. I found it difficult to get into the book at first, but the fantasy element in the book quickly grabbed my imagination and from there on I struggled to put the book down. I liked where the story was based, with 12 isles half of them without law and order (of course later in the book all the isles are in chaos), on pirate infested waters. Marianne, the main character with her sinister and cutthroat dad, is torn between family and her own direction. I loved the combination of violence, mythological aspects and romance. The book is fast paced, although slightly predictable in places, and is definitely worth the read.

Jacob, year 9

26th November 2020 at 6:28 pm

I personally found the Viper a very good read with very few negatives. The book took me on an incredible adventure.

The first thing I would like to say about the book was that it had a very good protagonist (Marianne) and her personality and relationship with her father spoke volumes that went far beyond regular reading. The way that we come to know Marianne is through her living a life under the watchful eye of her father. This is quickly and magnificently displayed as a relationship that could break and cause chaos at any moment and this kept me on edge throughout the book. I particularly liked Marianne’s and Adler’s relationship, the tension between them and how it was explained and described.

Another thing that I found interesting about the book was the use of magic. I loved the feeling that there was a secret forgotten treasure trove of fantasy in the book. The western isles provided an incredible stage for incredible performances. Being fascinated by magic really puts the reader in the shoes of Marianne who is also on a quest to discover more about it and it also uncovers a whole new layer of book that we see towards the end. Whilst I would have liked to see more magic in the book, it was certainly spectacular while it lasted.

Some of the greatest feelings of the book were, undoubtedly, the fight scenes. Fighting in the book gave the reader a sense of adrenaline and the exceptional description of the skill of the fighters naturally helped deliver a book worth reading. The reason why the fighting is so meaningful in the book is because it is not unlike a boxing match (which is entertaining in itself), except instead of throwing punches, the fighters are using deadly cutlasses, knives, pistols and a very long list of other weapons, too. This means that there is the natural entertainment and adrenaline of regular fighting and somebody’s life is always on the line which keeps the reader hanging on the edge of their seat.

Another great achievement of the book was describing Bronn and Grace and the relationships that Marianne has with them. Grace’s relationship with Marianne is one of uncertainty, because Marianne is unsure whether or not Grace can be trusted. Their bond grows however, when Marianne realises that not everyone is as violent as the captain, which made it a heart-stopping blow when she was killed but Marianne’s story with Bronn is something else. Years of sorrow and heartache and reunion and trust are flowing from this book because of these two characters. I could go on about it for a long time, but it would be nowhere near as impactful as the book itself.

On the topic of relationships, the general force of good versus evil is shown in this book but without the sense that “the goodies always win and the baddies always lose” because it is quite clear that Hogan is more than capable of giving this book an unhappy ending. It seems important to mention the king of the eastern isles, for he is the primary source of cowardice and dull evils in the book. The fact that Marianne was able to threaten the man was a great feeling and it felt like a victory for her in that treacherous part of the book. The fight of good against evil was also a mental battle for Marianne and her will not to kill. This added more layers to the book and made it an emotional experience as well as a physical one.

One of the few things I disliked about the book was how powerful Marianne was. I feel like she could always have taken on Adler and his crew which made parts of the book seem slightly less enjoyable. I would have preferred to see Marianne’s skills as a fighter mature in the book so that she was building up her skill to kill Adler as well as her willpower to do so.

I also disliked how irrelevant some of the characters were. Whilst many of the people in the book got their place in the spotlight, I feel like some didn’t get the chance that they deserved. For example, the prince didn’t appear that much at all and I think his relationship with Marianne was something that could have been developed further. The sea creatures that Marianne summons near the end of the book are another good example of characters that I would have liked to see more of. I am writing this review having not read the other books of the trilogy, however, so these relationships could grow more in the next books.

In conclusion, Viper was an incredible book, and I would highly recommend it to anyone into fantasy, pirates, or action novels about being on the run. There were a few things that I would like to see changed in the book, but it was still outstanding. It will certainly be a book I remember reading.

Ethan year 9

26th November 2020 at 6:27 pm

I think that Viper is an exhilarating read with a great use of words and structure to keep a constant flow in the book. I could not put it down. Furthermore, I really enjoyed the plot for the twists and turns that it holds. As I mentioned before I thought the writer created a flowing storyline without putting in unnecessary description. Additionally, I thought the characters were well developed making me feel empathy towards them through their struggles and triumphs as well as making me feel present in the book. Also, the world the book is set in is perfectly described, creating a vivid image in my head of what is happening. In addition to this I thought that the author mixed reality very well with the fantasy genre making the situations the characters face seem more realistic.

Personally, my favourite part in the story was at the end when Marianne summoned the water serpents from the sea. Overall, I would highly recommend this book because of its excellent storyline, plot, and characters. The age range that I would recommend this book to is 11-16 mainly because of the amount of death in the story.

Alex, year 9

26th November 2020 at 6:20 pm

This book is extremely well written, and I enjoyed every bit of the story. Marianna is an inspiring person and she fought for what she thought was right, even after years of being misled by Alder. I found the part where she was able to connect to the water raptors with magic really gripping as adding this to the story line made me want to read the next book. I would have liked to see Bronn being able to use magic as well as Marianna, and for Grace to be alive, but the life that Marianna leads is a dangerous one with a problem at every turn. I really enjoyed this book and can’t wait to get started on the next.

Ella, year 9

24th November 2020 at 2:02 pm

When I first started reading the book, I was very intrigued by the detail of the gore and the descriptions of the deaths. I think it really did well with the target audience (I’m assuming teens) as I enjoyed the book as well. The plot was full of twists and turns, a lot of which I was not expecting, and the added romance really brought the tensions up as you feared for the characters’ survival as well as their partners. Marianne’s journey was very difficult, and she is very brave. She overcomes her fear of water multiple times, and manages to not only defeat, but be free of Adler’s (The Viper) control over her. I will say that I was surprised seeing that she was the long-lost princess of the West as it felt a bit cliché and only added to her list of very long responsibilities. But I really like the fact that POC were included in all parts of the book because that’s what the world should include. It is refreshing to not see an all-white cast. I enjoyed the book thoroughly and I did not think at any point “wow this book is boring” or “it feels like a chore.” And I think the writer did well on making the book a page turner.

Dorine, year 9

24th November 2020 at 2:01 pm

The Viper is an adventure fantasy book, but it is so much more than that. It has drama and romance. I think this book would help some Young Adult readers since it also tackles family issues and trying to be different from your family and their expectations. I also quite like the fact that there isn’t ever any ‘unnecessary’ parts of the book. Like the first chapter gets straight to the point. I also really like the representation with a strong female protagonist whose main issues don’t revolve around a love interest. The ending was amazing too it left me feeling complete yet wanting more.

Elsa, year 8

19th November 2020 at 4:41 pm

Viper is a fantasy book about a girl, called Marianne, who escapes from her ‘father’ who wants her to become the new Viper (who is the protector of the 12 Isles of which only 6 are inhabited). In this book, there are a lot of plot twists and secrets that you want to uncover. This novel is written by Bex Hogan.

What I like about Viper is that you can’t predict the end of the book. Also, this makes you wonder about the end of the book and you want to finish it as fast as you can. There are a lot of plot twists, like how the Viper isn’t Marianne’s father or how Grace and Bronn betray her ‘father’ when they originally were very loyal to him. This surprises you because you hadn’t seen it coming and it gives you a little more information to finishing the puzzle of the book and gives the story the element of surprise.

Another feature of this book that I like, is how it doesn’t shame people. For example, Hogan made a male character, who was in the royal family, love another man freely. And as he is part of the royal family it shows that anyone is allowed to be gay, no matter who they are, and they should be proud to be who they are. This makes people feel normal and safe to fall in love with people of their own gender and shows that people who are gay, bi, lesbian, and other can be very important and powerful people. Furthermore, there is lots of courage and determination shown by the characters and they are willing to give their all and face the most dangerous things just to save their land. Hogan also makes Marianne have magic to sense the power of living and life, which makes the book feel magical, and because the book is so intriguing, you get carried into the book by what feels like magic, like Marianne’s magic in the story.

What I don’t like about the story is how there is little imagination in the names of the Isles. The names of the Eastern Isles are just based on what they are, such as the Flower Isle, which is thus called because it’s filled with living creatures, nature, and lots of flowers. Also, the Black Isle is named like that because everything on it is black. Even the names of the groups of isles could have been better than ‘Eastern’ and ‘Western’. I would have preferred made-up names that make me imagine the place. I also don’t like how Hogan made the main character (Marianne) have magic so strong that it makes everyone else seem weak or less important. For example, Tomas, the little boy who also had magic and who was supposed to be strong and responsible, ended up being easily killed.

So overall I like this book and I would rate this book an eight out of ten.

Isaac, year 9

18th November 2020 at 9:49 am

I would recommend this book, this is due to the fact that I bonded with the characters in the book making me more connected to what was going on. I especially liked the parts with Tomas and felt Marianne’s pain when he was killed. Another reason I enjoyed this book is that each of the islands were described well and in so much detail that you really could imagine it vividly, mapping the area out well.

But it isn’t a perfect book: the amount of betrayal is quite high so I struggled to know which side people were on and, at the start, there was little explanation about what was happening or where the original scene was set.

This book stands out from the rest though because it has a female main character in a book filled with violence which is different to many similar books in this genre. Unfortunately it has the cliché of the hero/heroine’s parents being dead and their guardian is the evil person they fight at the end of the book, which has been done in many fairy tales and made into many films by Disney.

Emma, Ardingly

13th November 2020 at 8:40 am

When I first saw the book I thought I would not like it but in truth it was a very tense, exciting, gruesome and death filled book… I loved it. My favourite moment was when Marianna escaped the ship and for me that was when the book really started. And I loved how Marianna fought against the Viper and his way ‘he will make me a killer or he will have me killed’ to save everyone. I would recommend this book to people who like an adventure .

Rosalyn (Brighton College)

8th November 2020 at 1:29 pm

I loved how it was just pure fantasy along with a bit of romance. It was great how the parts with a bit of romance were not too overpowering unlike some other books. I also liked how there was not really a message that came from this book — it was just pure imagination and living in another world. Loved how fast the pace was, and it certainly was one of a kind.

Neil, Ardingly

6th November 2020 at 10:28 am

The Viper is a fantasy (by Bex Hogan), set in the pirate-infested high seas. The main character is a determined teenage girl, called Marianne. She has been training her whole life to be the Viper and serve the King and the citizens of the Twelve Isles. But to become the Viper and protect her beloved islands, she must find a strength to defeat her father. 17-year-old Marianne faces an impossible dilemma. She can either continue to train to become an in-humane cutthroat and a ruthless killer, like her father, or fight back against her hugely powerful father. She was born to protect the Isles and their citizens, but what if that means losing her family, her home, the boy she loves and perhaps even her life.

The book is a fantasy, including magic, monsters and sea-creatures. In places the book can be extremely violent, as the Viper’s merciless pirates cut down their foes, and the hopeless crew of other ships. It is based on pirates and piracy (a real historical topic), but being a fantasy and very dramatized, is in no-way historically accurate. The Viper is totally action packed and a gripping tale, of murder, plots and treachery.

Harrison, Ardingly

6th November 2020 at 10:26 am

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Viper over Half Term.

From the start, I was completely immersed in the book, often feeling as though the scene was mapped out in front of me. I loved the adventurous vocabulary used in the book, such as the way that Hogan describes each of the Isles, and the thorough descriptions she gives of each character. I adored the concoction of fantasy and adventure that the book had to offer. With a piratical theme and a sense of coming of age, the text mixed all these ingredients together to create an excellent plot. My favourite character was Marianne, as I liked her roughness, bravery and courage, but also liked the fact that she had a merciful, empathic side. However, I sometimes found that the story was progressing a little too fast at times, and there were points where I struggled to keep up with the action. Though overall, it was a pleasant read. I would give Viper 4 stars and I will be looking out for any more of Hogan’s works.

Mrs M, Mayfield School

24th October 2020 at 5:19 pm

“I smelled like battle.” ‘Viper’ introduces us to a dramatic world, apparently ruled by blood. Hints of magic thread through the novel to an explosive end. Bex Hogan takes us on a rattlingly good ride, with satisfactory twists as Marianne learns about herself and her past. An engaging fantasy, but not for the faint-hearted, that is full of surprises and very descriptively written.

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