You know that old saw about writing what you know? Someone needs to gently remind Mr. Morrow of it. The best part of this book is the description of tYou know that old saw about writing what you know? Someone needs to gently remind Mr. Morrow of it. The best part of this book is the description of the different locations. The worst part of this book is the near lack of plot. Not that I'm constitutionally opposed to it; I liked The Road just fine. That technique doesn't work for a book that is essentially a murder mystery. It was as if Mr. Morrow couldn't decide what genre he'd be writing in, but he just started writing anyway because he had a lot of cool research about dowsing. In one of the notes at the end of the book, he mentions that dowsers like to be called dowsers, which is certainly true of the two I've met. However, he liked "diviners" better, so he used that. And that would have worked, were the book not attempting to walk the fine line between realism and mysticism. Unfortunately, that line proved too narrow, so the tale spills from one side of the wall to the other, back and forth, never comfortable with itself. I like the main character, but would have found her much more believable at 26 than 36. Women follow a relatively predictable arc of character development, and are infinitely more settled and happy with themselves at 36 than the main character seems. The best characterizations are of the main character's father, who is in the last stages of dementia, and her young twins, who are aware, awake, and funny as heck. ...more
Oh, I really wanted to like this book. I really, really did. The problem is that it's Twilight with mermaids. Dangit. Here's what I didn't like, in speOh, I really wanted to like this book. I really, really did. The problem is that it's Twilight with mermaids. Dangit. Here's what I didn't like, in specific detail, with apologies to the student who recommended it to me: 1. These are stock characters - the incredibly hot, immeasurably rich prince who doesn't know how good-looking he is; the gormless girl who is secretly a princess; the foil couple who may or may not work out (but definitely will, so they're not really foils); the strong disapproving authority figure, in the form of a brother... The only exception to this is the trusty friend, and her fate is interesting and unexpected. 2. The irresistable attraction between the main characters, which they must resist 3. The childish dialogue, which dates the book the very instant it's published 4. The awkward attempts at introducing and integrating the world of the mermaids (honestly, renaming them for the sake of the story was annoying) in the first half of the book
And here's the thing that really annoys me about books like this: People underestimate teenagers. I'm a high school teacher and I see it all of the time. Kids make different bad decisions than adults do not because they're stupid, but because they lack the experience that adults have. Period. Too many YA books these days draw their plots from youthful bad decisions, but depend on the idea that the young are too dumb to do anything else. It's like Kevin Smith says about writing movies that weren't good: He was writing about a time in his life he'd moved beyond. Authors, if you've moved beyond that point in your life where you consider yourself young, stop writing about it.
I have great hopes for the second book. I'm hoping that now that the first book has become moderately popular, the publishers will give Ms. Banks a hot young editor who has a sharp red pencil and some really good questions. ...more
Holy poo. I feel like I've been violated, but in a good way. If that's possible. The love stories remain un-Twilighty, the internal politics remain opHoly poo. I feel like I've been violated, but in a good way. If that's possible. The love stories remain un-Twilighty, the internal politics remain opaque, but the violence has reached a whole new level. Serial cannibalism, anyone? I only have two problems with this book. The first is that there are too many characters having too many problems in too many places for the third book in the series to competently wrap up the story. Yes, I can follow multiple plotlines, but the problem is in the climax and falling action. How do you fix all of those people's problems without it sounding like a list? My second quibble is with the survival rate of the terminally injured. There are no less than four characers in this book who are terminally injured, and three of them survive and thrive. The fourth is injured at the end of the book (a trick that was used at the end of the last book, which is another thing I didn't appreciate). If he doesn't die, which I don't see how he can, as his survival and struggle with several of the main characters is an important plot point, I'm going to be seriously torqued. Killing a bunch of these people is the only way the series can end with any kind of economy. THey should have died in this book. Read it, but read Ashes first, as there's an inadequate amount of catching up at the beginning of Shadows....more
Wellll, doesn't he just wish HE was Gillian Flynn? I read this book because it was nominated for a Pulitzer, and I have to wonder again how these conteWellll, doesn't he just wish HE was Gillian Flynn? I read this book because it was nominated for a Pulitzer, and I have to wonder again how these contests are run. Why nominate this book? Because it's about Nowheresville, Midwest, USA (I grew up 20 miles from the setting of the book, so I know whereof I speak!)? Because it deals with the abduction and murder of a child? Because it's told from several viewpoints? Because those viewpoints are relatively genuine, but occasionally muddy enough it's tough to tell what's really going on until the end of the book? Huh. I liked the book well enough. One of the characters who helps to tell the story is really interesting, as he's never been able to connect to another person in a meaningful way, and he's a teacher. He resonates with genuine, confused feelings. I have to wonder also what the author's main purpose was. The story is about a crime, but the really interesting thing about the book is the characters who tell it. To that end, I could have read a lot less from the bits and pieces characters and a lot more from the teacher and the wife. How cool would it be to let the loneliest characters in the book tell the story? But that's not what happens. And still, a nod from the Pulitzer people. Worth a read, but be aware that it skips through time and from character to character. It can be tough to figure out what's going on and when it's happening if you aren't paying strict attention to the chapter titles. Not as good as Gillian Flynn's Dark Places, but interesting, nonetheless....more
This is the story of what happens when a girl who has lived a charmed, blessed life crosses paths with a guy whose life has been and still is... not sThis is the story of what happens when a girl who has lived a charmed, blessed life crosses paths with a guy whose life has been and still is... not so blessed. I enjoyed most of the book, with the exception of the end. While I understand why the story ends the way it does, and it certainly ends appropriately, I certainly didn't want it to end that way. And that's OK, because, as one of my professors said a million years ago when I was in college, "The story has its own demands." However. One of the most important structural points of the book is that it functions as a frame story. One of the characters tells a fairy tale to a little girl. Elements of the characters' real lives play themselves out in the tale, which stretches the tale into intermittent episodes across the entire book. It's a charming and absorbing tale, and one of the author's master strokes is that the fairy tale becomes just as important as the real story. The character's voice is clear, both inside and outside the fairy tale. The moment when you, as the reader, not only realize but recognize the coincidence of the frame and the tale is magical, sad, infuriating, and exhausting. You want SO MUCH for the characters, and the idea that they may not get what they want because they are their own worst obstacles is awful. If you're planning on reading this book or giving it to someone else, be aware that, as the frame story takes place in Germany, different values apply to moral issues like sex, drugs, and alcohol. One of the main characters drinks with her parents and frankly describes her friends' sex life and drug use. Their scholastic structure is different, too, so you might want to familiarize yourself with it before you read the book. Otherwise, some of the plot's driving events lose their impact. Lastly, be aware that this book contains sexual situations and sexual violence. Some people may find how the characters deal with both of those situations objectionable....more