This was a quick and entertaining read. Despite its shortness, Jeannie Lin managed to develop an engaging plot, develop a believable attraction and...more
This was a quick and entertaining read. Despite its shortness, Jeannie Lin managed to develop an engaging plot, develop a believable attraction and eventual romance between Jia and Luo Cheng, and deliver a satisfying ending. I can't really complain about how short this was because she managed to write a complete story in just a few pages.
But also due to its shortness, it lacked the convoluted plot, full of surprises and plot twists, that Jeannie Lin has so masterfully written and used us to. I guess I could have given this more stars, but since I went in expecting so much more I may have been a bit too harsh rating it.
Still, it's a great short and I definitely recommend it!
The only reason this is getting 3.5 stars is purely a matter of preference on my part - the book is good and anyone who liked the other one...more
The only reason this is getting 3.5 stars is purely a matter of preference on my part - the book is good and anyone who liked the other ones so far will love it! It's just I don't care much for multiple POVs - I know, inevitable with all these characters, and I even wanted to know what was going on with all of them! - but every time I really started to get into someone's story the book would switch to someone else. I need to be really invested in the characters for a story to work, and I was fairly invested in most of them, due to the previous books, but it was still frustrating!
So let me go more into each character in the story:
Cinder - I really like Cinder and, obviously she wasn't in the book as much as I wished her to be, since it was Cress and Thorne's book, but even so there was so much happening in her story! Too much! Because I felt like we never really got into what she was really feeling about it all. We were told how she was feeling which... is not the same thing.
Kai - I am sorry but he is boring, dumb, and so far mostly useless and I can't, for the life of me, even remember what Cinder saw in him.
Iko - Barely there comic relief :(
Scarlet and Wolf - (view spoiler)[So frustrating!!! I wanted more from these two! Instead, Scarlet is taken away and Wolf spends most of the book unconscious! (hide spoiler)]
Thorne - Whenever we started going a bit deeper into his character, the POV would switch. Luckily, I really liked him from the previous books, otherwise I would have ended up giving up on this book.
Cress - I LOVE Cress! She deserved a book devoted to her, and I mean really devoted to her, not as this one was. Still, she was the most developed character in the book, as she should be. And I loved it, she was a whole deconstruction on the damsel in distress, the willing damsel in distress, because she wanted to live life the way she'd dreamed it, and even when things didn't go her way, she just adapted her dreams to fit. And I think that's just as powerful as the more usual strong female characters: one who dreams of being the princess waiting for her prince in her story and sticks to it, because that dream is as valid as the one of being the lady-warrior who saves the world.
The other characters were barely there, and were mostly clichés of incompetence (Torin), or wise mothers (Priya), scientists who were ~evil~ but are now redeemed (Dr. Erland), and evil because she's evil Queen Levana.
That is not to say this isn't a good book, I know I repeat myself, but I must. I read it all in one go, it's extremely addictive, it moved the plot along, you got to see all of the characters, and no character was badly written. It's just... at 560 pages, I wanted more... ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
I read Cassandra Rose Clarke's The Assassin's Curse duology and it must be one of the best works that c...more
arc provided by Angry Robot through netgalley
I read Cassandra Rose Clarke's The Assassin's Curse duology and it must be one of the best works that came out in YA in recent times.
So I had high expectations when I started The Mad Scientist's Daughter.
Everything was very straight-forward in The Assassin's Curse, Ananna was an awesome no-nonsense lady even when circumstances were absurd. The tone in The Mad Scientist's Daughter is completely different. It's dreamier, for one thing. And it's more adult.
I have to say I felt completely emotionally disconnected from Cat, the main character. I feel as if I've read Cat a thousand times, and I have - she's very reminiscent of Virginia Woolf's characters - there's that fanciful refusal to belong in the real world, there's the emotional detachment from all other characters, even the ones she supposedly loves, there's the selfishness and self-absorption. It makes for extremely pretty writing, it really does - The Mad Scientist's Daughter employed incredibly beautiful language.
But the thing is, you're not exactly meant to like a character like that. You're supposed to take it and examine it critically as a serious literary work. This is somewhat at odds, personally speaking, with the universe in which the action takes place: a post-dystopian world being rebuilt by AI. Not to say that there aren't serious literary works set in dystopias, Doris Lessing's The Memoirs of a Survivor is one - and I disliked it, to be perfectly honest, though being fully aware that it is good.
It's just a combination that doesn't work for me.
What this book proves is that Cassandra Rose Clarke's work can successfully span more than the YA genre. She clearly has the talent for serious literary fiction.
The thing is, literary fiction is not my favourite genre. So, as in the case of The Memoirs of a Survivor, I can see that this is good, it's just not for me.
Can't wait for Cassandra Rose Clarke's The Wizard's Promise, though! (less)
I find this to be a very difficult book to rate and review. You see, it starts wonderfully, stays strong, and then... and then the characters start...more
I find this to be a very difficult book to rate and review. You see, it starts wonderfully, stays strong, and then... and then the characters start doing tstl things, or behaving against everything that's been established about them so far, and it's so jarring that I don't even know what to say.
It could be argued: this is a dystopia, people will not behave as they usually do. But we are generally given plausible reasons when that happens! And while some characters could, with some of suspension of disbelief from the reader, do the things they did, others - such as Katie, the main character, - could not.
The plot: Katie is a nice Amish girl who dreams of going on her Rumspringa with Elijah, her best friend and most likely eventual husband. She can't wait! She and Elijah hoard clippings of films, watch the road so they can see the English travellers with music blasting from their cars, and make up stories as to who they are and what they're doing - what it is to live Outside. Elijah could have gone on his Rumspringa sooner, but he's waiting for Katie to be allowed to go, so they can do all the things they spent their whole life planning to do together. It was a sweet friendship, it felt real. They have some small rebellions: Wonder Woman comics, coca cola - but those are childish things meant to be left behind.
Katie is responsible for the dogs: she breeds golden retrievers and Mrs. Parsall (Ginger) is an English woman (read: american) who buys them from her and finds owners for them. While Mrs. Parsnall is visiting, a helicopter crashes and Katie sees something... weird within it. Some creature with bright red eyes, attacking the other occupants before the helicopter goes up in flames.
On Ginger's car radio they are made aware of a curfew: anyone caught outside will be arrested. This is how the end of the world Outside begins. Some kind of biological weapon was unleashed, almost everyone is dead and those who aren't are turned into those same creatures Katie spied on the helicopter.
Until this point everything is perfect: characterization, pacing, plot. Then we start getting inklings of what's to come.
In other dystopias there are characters who have a hard time realising that the world they inhabited before is over. That it's useless to long for something that no longer exists. These characters are usually not the main one, who generally shows remarkable foresight and survival instincts. Which is why it's so weird that Katie - an Amish girl who was raised to be pragmatic above all things, starts rambling and being upset at everyone because she's not allowed to go on her Rumspringa. This is compounded by the fact that every time this comes up she mentions she realises how selfish and absurd she is being. Well... then stop! Girl, the world is over, people are dying, your best friend's brothers are probably dead, Mrs. Parsnall's children are probably dead, those creatures are roaming outside - it's a contagion, there is no more Outside! It's the end of the world you (barely) knew! Priorities!
The community Elders decide to close their gates - it's a contagion. Regrettable that some of their own (Elijah's brothers) are caught out of their gates, but it would be illogical to bring in anyone probably infected and destroy the whole community.
So this is when Alex appears. Alex is a Canadian student who was trapped in a US college when what he calls "vampires" attacked. Somehow he made it out and reached the gates of Katie's community. The Elders forbid his entrance - who knows what infection he may carry? So Katie goes and sneaks him into her barn. What. Yes, that was my reaction. We even get some snippets of Katie's rudimentary knowledge of how to treat infection, etc., so we know she's not ignorant to disease patterns. Why is she bringing in a complete stranger, possibly infected with something that will turn him inhuman and slaughter her entire community, into her family's house? Yes, I don't get it either.
Meanwhile Elijah is struggling to accept his brothers' deaths and decides to be baptised, he finds comfort in his faith. And he hopes Katie will do the same. After all, what's left? Mrs. Parsnall's call to her husband even informed Katie that the only communities left were religious ones (regardless of religion). But no, Katie clings to her idea of life before, she wants her Rumspringa, she wants... she doesn't know what she wants and this is a failing in the book. Add to that some girl hate towards a former friend who becomes interest in Elijah, and jealousy when she makes it more and more clear she doesn't want Elijah in a romantic way - but no one else can want him, apparently...
While this is happening Amish families within their community are being slaughtered. you'd expect this to be at the forefront of Katie's mind: she brought an outsider in! But no! It's, "that girl is after my man who isn't my man because whenever he shows interest I make it clear there will never be anything between us. I hope she dies!" Listen, there are few things I dislike more than girl on girl hate - and if this stuff happens while the characters have more important things to worry about (which is just about ANYTHING, but most certainly the end of the world would rank high), then I have a huge problem with it.
Things at this point, are taking a turn for the worse: Elijah is behaving out of character, Katie (view spoiler)[out of the blue decides to have sex with Alex, even though she had showed nothing but disgust for the act and very little attraction to Alex in the first place. Plus there's the whole thing about her entire upbringing forbidding it - yes, people go against their upbringing, but with a reason, and at the very least, some kind of moral crisis? Not here, she just decides one night to go and have sex with Alex (hide spoiler)].
So obviously the end is predictable, when all of Katie's transgressions come to light there is only one thing that can happen for the sake of keeping the community whole.
You see my dilemma? This is the perfect YA dystopia for about one third of the book, it turns into a passable dystopia for the second third and devolves into "WHAT" for the last third.
All reviews point out that the second in the series keeps very much in the same vein: Katie doing things that deem her too stupid to live while spouting hypocritical things about her religion this, her religion that. I don't have time nor respect for this kind of thing, so I most certainly will not be reading the next one.
But this one... For the potential alone and the writing skill showed, is worth 3 stars. Pity it all went downhill...["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
I've reread The Shining over ten times, it really is one of my favourite books - King manages to capture those absurd (or not so absurd) childish fe...more
I've reread The Shining over ten times, it really is one of my favourite books - King manages to capture those absurd (or not so absurd) childish fears and turn you straight back into a five year old, so you can relieve them all over again. No matter how many times I read it it's still as scary as the first. I remember this one time - probably the fifth of seventh reading - I read it during the dead of winter, the wind was howling outside and I was just dying for a glass of water. You think I got up to get it? Too scared to do it! I actually ended up drinking straight from the hot water bottle heating my feet. Never do that, by the way.
I knew, going in, that Doctor Sleep wouldn't reach The Shining's heights. It couldn't, nothing really can. So I wouldn't say I'm disappointed, there were no dashed hopes here. But this really needed to be edited a few more times to make it tighter. Here's the thing, even when it's superfluous, and in need of cutting, Stephen King's writing is solid, so while you read it and think, "They needed to cut about 200 odd pages off this book", you're not bored or upset, it's just something you acknowledge. That being said, while I go through The Shining in one single night (without fail), it took me four days to go through Doctor Sleep. It's very "put-down-able".
But let me start from the beginning, which is pretty good. King takes us back to just a bit ahead of where he left us off in The Shining. This was such an amazing treat! I wasn't expecting that at all! It really felt like The Shining, and if I had to choose one favourite thing about this book it would have to be Dick Hallorann's appearances. So, to everyone who goes on about how King "lost it" or whatever, he really didn't, it's all there. Doctor Sleep follows Dan Torrance's story, and while I deeply respect anyone who has managed to beat their addiction problems it doesn't necessarily follow that I would want to know, in detail, the content of their path to sobriety. Not saying it's not important! I'm saying that, story-wise, it's not interesting page turning stuff. There were too many AA meetings, and related stuff, in this book. There were too many instances of the mundane, which, while important to ground a story, can definitely overcrowd it.
The thing about Doctor Sleep is that it didn't scare me. Not even once. Not even a little. I'm sorry but the True Knot people were not scary at all. I suppose they could have been, but King went into who they were, their lives, their hopes, their dreams, their past. I felt sorry for Andi. I'm not saying I sympathised with the rest of them, but you can't place us in the middle of a bunch of people's lives, make us see them love and grieve, and expect us to still think of them as horribly scary. Scary is the unknown. Rose the Hat was not scary in the least, a grown woman with a vendetta against a thirteen year old girl, come on... I didn't even place this book under the "horror" tag, because it simply wasn't horror. Maybe thriller? What you have is a bunch of child kidnappers and murderers, who just happen to have a supernatural twist to them, and not a particularly interesting one.
But it was entertaining and, as I said before, the writing is solid (quite a few extremely quotable lines in here!). So, if you like Stephen King's writing, give it a go! (less)