Aftersight has an ensemble cast (with rotating point of view characters) between several young women who all find themselves (either suddenly or not s...moreAftersight has an ensemble cast (with rotating point of view characters) between several young women who all find themselves (either suddenly or not so suddenly) the bearers of paranormal abilities. They are recruited by the low-key Waltham Academy for Psychic Sensitives, in Northwest England, whose not-so-public agenda is to hone the paranormal abilities of its students. The girls find themselves suite mates as they begin their studies at Waltham, learn more about their uncanny abilities, and stumble upon a new mystery about themselves and their connections to each other. That mystery culminates in an offsite, ghost-hunting assignment that turns out to be indelibly linked to their past—their past lives, that is. And the girls learn new things about themselves while also proving that they can use their newfound abilities to help others.
There were definitely moments of intense creepiness in this novel, where I asked myself, “Should I really be reading this in bed, right before going to sleep for the night?” But those moments never stepped over the line from creepiness to nightmare-inducing, for which I was glad. There was also some interesting creepiness in the histories of some of the girls. For example, Nicole has grown up always being able to see ghosts. When she was young, she believed that Santa Clause came to visit her. It was rather a shock when she discovered, as she came into puberty, that the man who had introduced himself as Santa Clause was really just an old, perverted ghost with a penchant for young girls. Eugh! But interesting to consider this possibility when you’re talking about young girls and ghosts. I like the ghostly immorality introduced here, and the way it was presented introduced a bit of humor into the story at that point. I was disappointed that we never got any chapters from Nicole’s point of view, and I look forward to reading an installment of the series primarily from her point of view in the near future, as she was one of my favorite characters.
I really liked the twist at the end, when we found out (view spoiler)[that Cali was actually the dead brother from their mysterious past life, not one of the girls. Which explains her strange attraction to Nicole, who was the reborn soul of his centuries-past lover. Tyson broke gender expectations as well by turning out to be one of the girls from that past life. I really liked the unexpected mixing up of the genders (hide spoiler)]. And I hope it will offer a lot of interesting relationship dynamics and conflicts for future installments of the story. At the end of the novel, there were still a lot of smaller story threads that I can’t remember receiving any explanation for, such as Becky’s mysterious episodes of visions and passing out. I can only assume these are potential plot lines for future books, and I’m interested to see where the story goes. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
Book 6 of Harris's Sookie Stackhouse mysteries seems to be where the books and the TV series really and definitively part ways. Usually I focus on ill...moreBook 6 of Harris's Sookie Stackhouse mysteries seems to be where the books and the TV series really and definitively part ways. Usually I focus on illustrating the differences between each book and season. Here, I need only list the similarities, as they are quite few. But let's start with a summary of the book itself.
Definitely Dead finds Sookie dealing with the aftermath of two previous deaths: those of her cousin Hadley--a recently-made vampire and lover of the vampire queen of Louisiana (Okay, here's one difference. In the show, cousin Hadley is half-faerie, like Sookie, not a vampire. Oh, but if I recall correctly (view spoiler)[she does actually die in season 6 (hide spoiler)].), and Alcide's ex-fiancee, crazy were-beotch Debbie Pelt. The Pelt family is still sniffing around Bon Temps trying to get to the bottom of their daughter's/sister's sudden disappearance. Meanwhile, Hadley has named Sookie her heir, and she heads off to New Orleans to deal with all her cousin's stuff, where she meets Hadley's naive and friendly witch landlord and very quickly discovers a dead body stashed in her cousin's apartment. Or...not so dead.
Besides Hadley, the only other storyline similarity to True Blood was taken for an earlier season. In Definitely Dead, the vampire queen of Louisiana has recently contracted marriage with the vampire king of a nearby state who secretly plots to take over her power and fortune (or whatever, I was never too clear on the motivations here). This storyline was modified and used in, I believe, Season 3.
To sum up - another entertaining Sookie installment. Thoroughly enjoyed and look forward to reading the next.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
Definitely one of my favorites of the Sookie Stackhouse books, so far. The mystery plot of Dead as a Doornail is that there's a shooter assassinating...moreDefinitely one of my favorites of the Sookie Stackhouse books, so far. The mystery plot of Dead as a Doornail is that there's a shooter assassinating shifters and weres around Bon Temps. But what I loved about this book was not the very weak mystery, but all the many different guys constantly after Sookie. Watching her try to deal with and generally sidestep all that attention was just good entertainment.
The shifter assassin storyline takes only a secondary role in the fifth season of True Blood, which mainly deals with a massive political upheaval of the vampire community. There has been really no vampire politics at work in the books, so far. And I wonder if all those plot lines are solely constructs for the show. Other differences include that Jason's previous run-in with were-panthers resulted in him (view spoiler)[being turned into a were-panther himself, whereas in the show he manages to avoid that fate (hide spoiler)]<-- Only a spoiler if you also haven't read the previous book, Dead to the World. I liked that Tara finally had a little storyline of her own--she gets in trouble hanging out with the wrong kind of vampire crowd (a storyline that is loosely borrowed for the show in Season 3). It was funny to remember that Sam is still hung up on Sookie in the books, whereas (view spoiler)[he's completely moved on and been getting his own very independent story lines, in True Blood, for some time now. (hide spoiler)]<-- True Blood spoiler.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
I read the Sookie Stackhouse novels not because I love the books but because I love the show, and I love comparing the adaptation from book to show. T...moreI read the Sookie Stackhouse novels not because I love the books but because I love the show, and I love comparing the adaptation from book to show. This fourth installment in the paranormal vampire mystery series was slightly more blah than its predecessors. Or perhaps I just forget (in the year or so between each read) how limiting Sookie's first-person narration is compared to the multiple viewpoints of the show. And it always takes me about half the book to get used to Sookie's Podunk (though also often spunky and amusing) narration.
In Dead to the World, Sookie spends most of her time driving around Bon Temps and nearby Shreveport trying to find her missing brother and find out more about the deadly new coven of witches who cursed Eric Northman--the sexy vampire owner of Fangtasia, the Shreveport vampire bar--into losing his memory. The rest of her time is occupied in a steamy romance with (view spoiler)[Eric, who she is babysitting while his minions work on getting his memory back (hide spoiler)]. In the first half of the book, as you can imagine, Sookie driving around in her car isn't the most exciting thing to be reading about. But things get more interesting later on, and I continued to enjoy Alcide Harveaux (the sexy werewolf) and his evil fiance shape-shifter Debbie Pelt.["br"]>["br"]>(less)
In the coastal city of Symir, overshadowed by a volcano kept at bay by magery, the necromancer and spy Isyllt Iskaldur arrives to stir up open rebelli...moreIn the coastal city of Symir, overshadowed by a volcano kept at bay by magery, the necromancer and spy Isyllt Iskaldur arrives to stir up open rebellion against the Empire of Assar within the already growing murmurs of political unrest.
Despite demons, necromancers, and a wonderfully actualized setting, I had to give The Drowning City a lot of leeway before the plot picked up. I think the first exciting scene didn't take place until almost halfway through the book. The weak characterization also failed to draw me in, and I can honestly say that the only character-driven plot I ever came to care about was that between Isyllt and the Emperial mage Asheris.
For those dredging through it, have hope. The end of the book is decently satisfying. I almost considered actually reading the next in the Necromancer Chronicles series, after finishing Drowning City. But after reading the first chapter of book 2, at the end of book 1, I decided against it. Just not quite good enough to be worth the time.(less)
About twins who inherit their aunt Elspeth's flat in England after her death, and come to realize that her spirit still lives on in ghost form, Niffen...moreAbout twins who inherit their aunt Elspeth's flat in England after her death, and come to realize that her spirit still lives on in ghost form, Niffenegger's second novel starts out strong, sags a bit in the middle, and ends a bit more predictably than I had hoped. Symmetry is engrossing, enjoyable, and a good romp for the imagination.
As a side note, the whole mysterious history between Aunt Elspeth and her sister, the twins' mother, could have been entirely cut from the novel with absolutely no loss. The reveal on that storyline felt convoluted and absolutely pointless.(less)
The second installment in Harris's Sookie Stackhouse mysteries series, Living Dead in Dallas follows Sookie on her travels to assist the Dallas vampir...moreThe second installment in Harris's Sookie Stackhouse mysteries series, Living Dead in Dallas follows Sookie on her travels to assist the Dallas vampires in locating a missing one of their own. Harris’s prose style could be described as gritty or just crude. She has no qualms against using words like butt and boobs. I find that her tendency to not pull punches on crude words and thoughts used frequently in reality, but not usually in literature, helps to illustrate the unsophisticated southern town and Sookie’s intelligent but unrefined perspective.
The TV series, True Blood, succeeded in every instance where Harris, in her novel, fails. For instance, take the scene where Sookie Stackhouse meets Barry the hotel bellhop and discovers that he, too, is a telepath. In True Blood (Season 2, Episode 4: Shake and Fingerpop, I believe), Sookie discovers Barry’s ability through an amusing conversation where they both read each other’s thoughts and respond in kind with thoughts of their own, resulting in an inadvertent telepathic exchange. In contrast, here is how Harris does it in the book: “To my startled delight, I realized (after a quick rummage in Barry’s head) that he was a telepath, like me!” Wow, ever heard of show don’t tell?
Despite my tendency to not hold Harris’s crude prose style against her, I must say that she relies far too much on the word ‘to be’ – as in WAS. She doesn’t care much for making her verbs exciting or active. Take this paragraph, for example: “The light over the door was on, so I could tell the house was of beige brick with white trim. The light, too, was for my benefit; any vampire could see far better than the sharpest-eyed human. Isabel led the way to the front door, which was framed in graduating arches of brick. There was a tasteful wreath of grapevines and dried flowers on the door, which almost disguised the peephole. This was clever mainstreaming. I realized there was nothing apparent in this house’s appearance to indicate that it was any different from any of the other oversized houses we’d passed, no outward indication that within lived vampires.”
On the whole, I found this second Sookie Stackhouse novel pretty disappointing, and don't much look forward to reading the next. (Which I won't do, anyway, until some time next year after season three of True Blood has aired.)(less)
I made the mistake of trying to read another series companion book, with little success. (My first attempt was another by Lois Gresh, about Philip Pul...moreI made the mistake of trying to read another series companion book, with little success. (My first attempt was another by Lois Gresh, about Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy.) This time, I made it through about thirty-five pages of Gresh's Twilight Companion and felt like I had actually grown dumber through my reading of it--probably because it seems to have been written for a second grade reading level. I pick these "unauthorized guides" up, expecting to learn something new and interesting about the series itself, expecting them to carry an analytical slant. Instead, I learned that Gresh has relatives with similar names to the relatives of the Twilight heroine Bella Swan. And that Gresh lives in a town comparable in size and podunkery to Forks, WA, where Twilight et al. take place. And that, because of these similarities to Bella, Gresh is highly indignant that she, too, didn't meet a paranormal, vampire dreamboat ready to sweep her off her feet. Gee, thanks for sharing! Incredibly silly but also incredibly condescending to her readers, or...just dumbed down to the extreme. I also gleaned, from the first thirty-five pages, that every girl should hold out for a boy with a "nice personality" like Edward's. Nice personality? And what exactly does that mean, Lois Gresh? As far as I can recall, all Stephenie Meyer's leading men (and Edward in particular) tend to be overbearing control-freaks who sometimes engage in emotional blackmail to get their way. I'm not knocking these guys; I just wish Gresh would get real. Even Edward isn't perfect--and no, it's not just because he drinks blood. (less)
If you are a fan of Jane Austen's original Pride and Prejudice, you may enjoy reading this version, adorned with a little undead fun. Seth Grahame-Smi...moreIf you are a fan of Jane Austen's original Pride and Prejudice, you may enjoy reading this version, adorned with a little undead fun. Seth Grahame-Smith retains much of Austen's original language and all of her well-recognized style in his rediscovering of Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy's measured fall into love. I won't give away the details of added premise, which is most of the fun of this new telling. I first began the novel while riding the bus, standing room only. But despite cramped and uncomfortable quarters, I found myself laughing out loud as I read each additional tidbit that further defined the newly revised premise of Grahame-Smith's reimagining. A read of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is essentially a read of the original, but with much silliness thrown in. (I wasn't able to do a text versus text analysis of PPZ against the original, unfortunately, because my copy is packed away in a box somewhere.) But Grahame-Smith's additions aren't essential enough to the plot to keep the new content fresh and delighting throughout, so he eventually resorts to blatant shock value--which is funny in its own way.
For anyone who enjoyed reading Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is worth reading once. For anyone who's not much of a classics reader or Jane Austen fan, there's probably not enough zombie to keep modern readers interested.(less)
The back of my edition of this book reads: "In Guilty Pleasures, she [Laurell K. Hamilton:] introduces Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter. Anita's small, dar...moreThe back of my edition of this book reads: "In Guilty Pleasures, she [Laurell K. Hamilton:] introduces Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter. Anita's small, dark, and dangerous. But when the city's most powerful vampire comes to her for help, Anita is faced with her greatest fear-a man capable of arousing in her a hunger strong enough to match his own..." For all 266 pages of this novel, I was waiting to find out who this mysterious "hungry" man might be. I've finished the book. I'm still waiting. Another quote, on the front of the cover, describes the novel as "a heady mix of romance and horror." I'm sorry, did I miss something? How can this be a romance if the reader is unable to identify the leading man?
My first thought was that Philip, the confused, abused, and pathetic vampire junky (not a vampire, but a human addicted to being bitten by vampires), was meant to take on this role. Let me just say, I was definitely not interested. With his face "crumpling in confusion" at every turn, and him nearly crying every time Anita mentioned his abused past or screwed up present, no amount of describing his hot physique will make me believe that Anita could fall for this guy. And seriously, whose face "crumples" in confusion or pain except a toddlers?
I must conclude that this mysterious leading man must be Jean-Claude, the sexy, powerful, and tender master vampire we are introduced to near the beginning, who spends the entire rest of the novel chained inside a coffin.
Despite these romantic difficulties, I read on, waiting for the romance to reveal itself, waiting for the action-packed, vampire-slaying story to begin. There were many action scenes, in that the book delivered. However, though the scenes and plot weren't badly executed, I can't say that they were well executed either. The plot was clunky and I often found myself asking, "Why? What is the point of this?" It seems like Hamilton stuck in a few raising the dead scenes less because it drove the plot and more because she felt obligated to show Anita in action at her primary vocation: animating.
And lastly, I figured out "whodunit" about 100 pages before the end of the novel and about 50 pages before the protagonist. That's a little disappointing.
Oh, I do have to mention that the final chapter of the novel almost redeemed it enough for me to give the book two stars. Finally, a little promise of romance! Too bad I didn't enjoy this one enough to read the next. Now I'll never know.(less)
As I said with the printed version, this is the boring Twilight book -- especially in audio. Only about three things ever really happen, surrounded by...moreAs I said with the printed version, this is the boring Twilight book -- especially in audio. Only about three things ever really happen, surrounded by a lot of worrying about what might happen. (less)