Whew! Who would've guessed that a steampunk, post-apocalyptic, Jane Austen retelling could work out this well?
It sounds disastrous, because rWhew! Who would've guessed that a steampunk, post-apocalyptic, Jane Austen retelling could work out this well?
It sounds disastrous, because retellings are so hard in the first place, and then to change up an original story (by Austen, no less), not just an easily varied myth or legend, is downright gutsy. See the Jane Eyre retelling, The Flight of Gemma Hardy, for a recent example of it NOT working.
But Darkness manages the impossible: staying incredibly faithful to Austen's Persuasion but in an entirely original way. And with Sci-Fi, of all things!! It's a phenomenal accomplishment.
If you've read Persuasion, you already know that it can be difficult to understand everything that's going on, and this is no different. Though the stories are very similar, and that helps, the setting is generations after an apocalypse that can be just as disarmingly cryptic as your first read of Persuasion. You're blindly thrust into the middle of a story without convenient info-dump, struggling to grasp this foreign-yet-familiar cultural history so you can catch up with the intense drama at hand. It's one of those few times that I actually don't mind being confused for so long-- giving me an urgency to read that I probably wouldn't have had otherwise.
The main method used to enlighten the audience, however, is letters, which *sigh* I am so bored with. And honestly, they were entirely unrealistic. This is my one complaint with the book-- that from the age of 6 they were writing not just complete sentences, but entire paragraphs on politics and caste systems! Granted the letters were part of the story, and not just a tired literary device, but it was enough to distract me from complete immersion in the story.
But wow, I was pretty immersed. The characters are fascinating incarnations of Austen's originals, which combined with Peterfreund's interpretation of the story, made this more like an alternate reality Persuasion rather than a mere adaptation.
Can you tell I'm awe? I'm not saying this is a masterpiece or even as good as Jane Austen herself, but what I am sure of, is that this is an amazing tribute as well as an outstanding piece of fiction in it's own right....more
Not an awful follow up book, but definitely feels a little like one of those this-book-is-full-of-unnecessary-conflict-just-to-stretch-thisGood grief.
Not an awful follow up book, but definitely feels a little like one of those this-book-is-full-of-unnecessary-conflict-just-to-stretch-this-into-a-series.
Unfortunately, the conflict is me hating the characters.
It's annoying to see they have double standards and then be all self-righteous in the meantime. It's painful to see them take dumb risks, obviously setting themselves up for monumental disaster later on. It's just plain awkward to realize I'm kinda wishing they all get called out on it all.
Basically, that's me not rooting for the main characters anymore....more
So this is kind of like Maze Runner Lite, but with a dash of Lost, a pinch of Survivor, and maybe a little smidge of X-Files mixed in.
There are many,So this is kind of like Maze Runner Lite, but with a dash of Lost, a pinch of Survivor, and maybe a little smidge of X-Files mixed in.
There are many, many similarities-- from the mysterious teen colony, the unknown mechanical evils, a ridiculous number of fatalities, shocking government secrets, and of course, the steady pace of action. What sets The Forsaken apart is it's flatter, flimsier characters, a handful of formulaic sub-plots, obligatory Rocky-training-montage, and too tidy ending.
But you know, its a fun read, so, whatever....more
All told, it is pretty fast-paced and intense, and not totally predictable, so if you're not too picky, then you'll probably like it.
But for me,Blech.
All told, it is pretty fast-paced and intense, and not totally predictable, so if you're not too picky, then you'll probably like it.
But for me, it has this certain, je ne sais quois, stupidity? about it that just dumbs it down to 2 stars.
For one thing, it's stuffed full of all the usual tropes which are somewhat haphazardly arranged and then connected (sort of) by hollow characters and LOTS of running around.
I got quite impatient that once they got somewhere, it was like, "oh no, now we have to go to the completely other side of the complex", criss-crossing back and forth endlessly. At one point, they even mention that its been 12 hours since they were at this one place and since there were no breaks in the story during that time, I'm like, "For real? No wonder this seems never-ending!"
And unlike Inside Out or Across the Universe or even Under the Never Sky, you just don't get a very good sense of how things are in the complex. There are very few named characters and even they don't have much more personality or back-story than you could come up with just by naming their positions: quick, think of what they'll look like-- best friend? newcomer boy? mom who runs the establishment and makes everyone call her mother? dad who stays in the background? The stereotypes just popped into your head and congratulations, you are correct! Besides our main girl Evie, there are maybe three more characters i can think of and they're just blips in the story. Everyone else in the complex however, might as well be labeled Red Shirt Ensign because they are faceless and expendable.
Bodies all over the place? Meh. Just part of the scenery.
Isn't that awful? Good grief, give me some substance!
It's way old (well, early 80's old anyway) and and almost embarrassingly hokey, but evidence suggests it sThe Last Starfighter-- ever see that movie?
It's way old (well, early 80's old anyway) and and almost embarrassingly hokey, but evidence suggests it secretly hooked up with another 80's oldie-but-goodie (and really the gold standard for any decade), Ender's Game, and had a child named Insignia (it's kind of pretty in that weird, celeb-baby-name sort of way, don't you think?)
Anyway, like any offspring, Insignia resembles one or both of it's parents in a variety of ways: story arc from one, character development from the other, plot device from both, etc. But genetics is a crap-shoot and you can't always tell whether a kid has randomly inherited the good or bad parts until they grow up.
So, while teen Insignia looks a lot like mom and pop now, all eager to please, you never know if it'll decide to rebel or turn out to be a disappointment down the road.
We'll have to wait and see what it makes of itself....more
(3.5) So i was thisclose to passing on this book, based on discouraging review. I'm so glad I didn't.
Not that she wasn't right, however-- the first hal(3.5) So i was thisclose to passing on this book, based on discouraging review. I'm so glad I didn't.
Not that she wasn't right, however-- the first half of the book IS a bit of a confusing, disjointed mess. And yeah, you're really not given a lot of background or world building to help things along. I HATED that about Article 5. But the difference seems to be that in Article 5 all the issues about the past war and the current structure of society were actually very relavent to understanding the story itself as it was unfolding. It felt like being a little kid and not knowing exactly what was going on in an adult conversation: frustrating, excluded.
In Skylark, the situation isn't much better, but I guess what makes it passable is that Lark, like the other citizens, has been kept from the information too. They don't know much about what happened, and they're pretty complacent about it. Without have the big info dump, the reader is just as surprised/confused/whatever as Lark. With so much unknown, you're scared along with her. When done well, this is a concrete way to make a "page-turner." Sometimes....not so much. Skylark kinda falls in between.
What really surprised me though, was that it took me until the last 1/4 of the book to realize how much I was into it. I liked the characters. The twists were awful yet awesome for how easily I let myself fall into them. And above all, by the end, I was looking forward to the next *couple* of books. I see a lot of story yet to be told, not just an agonizing drawing-out of one book into three. Despite the weaknesses, I think there's major potential, and I'm just hoping that FINALLY, a series will deliver. ...more
In the first book, I really liked that Todd and Violet acted appropriate forThis is serious awesomeness.
So intense and building, building, building!
In the first book, I really liked that Todd and Violet acted appropriate for their age: trying to be grownup, but still a kid enough to be super vulnerable. It was a fantastic dynamic.
The second book picks up right after the first, but it's like the author himself aged a little in the interim and Todd and Violet are suddenly growing up really fast. Todd especially. There's still immaturity, but he starts to get treated more and more like a real man, or at the very least, an older teen, and I kept catching myself thinking: "Wait, but he's just barely 13!" But then, oh yeah, more like 14 and some in earth years. Still, its kind of crazy how he went from being a scrawny, prepubescent gawkling into a tall, strong leader-type who is respected and praised for his moral fortitude, in just a matter of weeks and months.
As drastic as the change appears, in some ways its sorta necessary. He is the perfect age in book 1 and in book 2 the story really does require him to be older, but the timeline just doesn't quite work out. I don't know how Ness could have done it any different, but Todd acted more like a 16 or 17 year old in this book. And that goes for Violet too.
I was also a little caught off guard at how strong their emotional bond to each other becomes-- so INTENSE, yet conspicuously devoid of romance. They are irrevocably connected, only knowing that they NEED each other, but not really even aware of how deep that need goes. I mean, they are only 14 after all. It's hard to tell if they're simply clueless, though there are hints from Todd that maybe he's intentionally not allowing himself to think about it. What's amazing, is that for all the hardcore stuff they go through together, without the taint of romance, their devotion to each other seems pure and whole on a completely higher level. They survive and continue for the other and all you want is for them to just be in each other's company and get away from the war and be happy together, almost platonically, though it's hard to imagine how this could happen without them getting married or something and oh yeah, they're still 14 for crying out loud! Can you see how the age thing gets a bit complicated?
The bottom line is: book 1 is a great start to the series, and book 2 brings the story up to *really* great. You can't help but be consumed by it....more
I read (and liked) the preview chapters a while ago, but the longer I sat on it, the less excited I was to coI can't even begin to explain this book.
I read (and liked) the preview chapters a while ago, but the longer I sat on it, the less excited I was to continue reading when I finally got ahold of the whole story. I really had to push myself to pick it up again and especially to finish.
It's not that the story is bad, it's just sort of...something. Turns out those preview chapters really threw me off from how the rest of the story would go. It went in some unexpected directions, having very little to do with a dystopian/post-apocalyptic future of harvesting blood with anti-plague immunities from Native Americans, and a lot more to do with spirit guardians and medicine women and the veil of ancient power that keeps things safe. Ok. Right.
And then with the Greek and Arthurian legends mixed in?....
It just wasn't what I expected, and I think the confusion kept me from absorbing the story properly. ...more
Hum. Well. So. I find myself equally intrigued and bored by this book.
It's funny, cause see, while there's some cool stuff going on here, combining sHum. Well. So. I find myself equally intrigued and bored by this book.
It's funny, cause see, while there's some cool stuff going on here, combining steampunk and mythology and shape shifters and magic powers, there's just not a whole lot of information given to support the infrastructure of it all. I mean, the world-building is good--it's easy to picture what she's going for, but the whys and wherefores are kind of just lost in the shuffle. And rather than info-dumping in the beginning, the author tosses you right into the story with only tidbits to help make sense of it. It took a couple tries to get past the first few chapters cause I just didn't know what any of it meant.
For example, I just noticed the synopsis sets the story in 2040, and I find it rather odd, considering it is never mentioned in the text. Because let me tell you, I wondered. I mean, this was full-on steampunk, with corsets and bustles and goggles and copper and the gas lights and dependence on steam power and even some airships thrown in for good measure, but at the same time there was texting and hover bikes and cars and laser light shows set to the music of punk bands at trendy clubs, so I was just sort of leaning to it being more of an alternate reality like The Iron Thorn.
But future? Really? Why even bother? I mean, this story isn't even about humans, so what's the point?
I don't know. I'm really not as worked up as I sound, which goes back to why I said I was bored. See, it was just too much and not enough and unnecessarily tedious and the amount of effort I put into it basically cancels out the quality of the story... So there you have it: 3 stars....more
Here I am, about to dish out a scathing review on this book, and I made the mistake of looking at the author's profile picture. Darn you, Kristen SimmHere I am, about to dish out a scathing review on this book, and I made the mistake of looking at the author's profile picture. Darn you, Kristen Simmons-- why do you have to look so unbearably *nice*?? Now I don't want to hurt your feelings! Augh, shouldn't have put a face to the name; shouldn't have humanized the enemy!
Ok, back to the scathing. And here it is: this book is a mess.
From the setup to the characters to the dialogue to the plot, this was a disaster on so many levels. I mean, not that it was super important, but I kind of would have liked to know what exactly happened to bring society to the point it is in the story. There are a lot hints, but not enough information to justify or even explain why things are the way they are: who bombed us? why? what's the structure of the government now? who's really running the show? why the pretense of morality? The best part of a dystopian story is the ugly, bitter reality of where we might be headed, but if I don't understand how we get there, then it's really kind of pointless.
Next, there are the characters, who are just too stale to stomach. Ember is rash and reckless and naive to the point where I wasn't just embarrassed for the character, I was embarrassed for the author as well. She messes up half the situations because she's trying too hard not to appear vulnerable, and the tougher she tries to be, the wimpier she actually appears. She gets on her moral high-horse at the worst possible times and the only reason they get into 'situations' at all is because she opens her fat mouth. Its so incredibly frustrating to read how many times Chase, who knows a heck of a lot more about what they're doing than she does, gives her safety instructions which she then blatantly ignores. Over and over and over. Why? 'Because you're a jerk and you don't understand me and I don't care about our safety as much as I care that you almost killed the bad man who tried to kill us, you freaking monster!' Yeah, its really awful how he keeps saving you and all you do is blame him for all your problems, you ungrateful cow.
I don't get it. Why do the guys always put up with this kind of immaturity?
And good grief, why oh why do we have to suffer through an entire book where the main characters can't hold a regular conversation because they're so hung up on what they think the other one thinks? It's agony to read all the conjecture and misinformation and deception as maturity takes a back seat to pride once again. So stupid! Its one thing to read a book where bad things just come one after another, but when the majority of the bad things are their own fault, it just constitutes a train wreck. And I don't want to look!
One of the things that irritated me the most about Ember was her whole obsession with her mom. We know next to nothing about their relationship except some vague idea that the mom is flighty and there's a bit of role reversal. That's it. So it really doesn't mean much to me as a reader that she's wigging out over her mom all the time, except to think that maybe this girl is a little unhealthy. And since Mom's her motivating factor through every idiotic move she makes, you can see why I don't think too highly of her.
My final gripe is about continuity. There were so many holes where I was flipping back and forth trying to follow a story that only partly made it to the paper. Half-explained, carelessly over-looked details were missing throughout the book, making it feel jerky and incomplete. How do editors miss this kind of stuff? Seriously.
Well, I didn't go as hard core as I thought I would, but I'm sure I'll still get grief for it, nonetheless. And partially, it's my own fault. I've just read too many of these books. I've probably seen the scope of what is out there, but I just keep holding out for the really good ones that are sure to come. They're getting harder and harder to find...must keep looking.