Bennett writes well enough, but the story itself was just not very original. It's basically a medley of Dis...moreWell, stink. That was rather disappointing.
Bennett writes well enough, but the story itself was just not very original. It's basically a medley of Disney's Tangled, the Winchester Mystery House, and a little bit of Jaycee Duggard's story.
After Beautiful Beast (not to mention Geek Girl and Heart on a Chain) I expected so much more from Bennett, but like her Red Riding Hood story, this just doesn't make the best use of her talents.(less)
It's official: nobody does broken souls finding redemption quite like Cindy Bennett.
You know why? Because she invokes love and hope, which is exactly...moreIt's official: nobody does broken souls finding redemption quite like Cindy Bennett.
You know why? Because she invokes love and hope, which is exactly what broken souls need, and let's be honest-- we're all broken at some point or another.
See, that's what I dislike about so many art-house films and lots of intellectual literature: that blatantly pessimistic view that life sucks and will always suck so just reconstruct your naive illusions of happiness and be satisfied with awful being the best anyone gets.
I get that suffering = art, but what I don't get is why happiness = trite.
This is not a new rant for me.
Anyway, my point is, Bennett writes fragile, vulnerable characters, who perhaps because of their youthfulness, aren't so jaded that they can't be redeemed.
It's beautiful. It makes me happy.
The only thing wrong with this story is that it's too short and things are rushed.
Sorry, there's nothing to like about this book. Its all so very cliche': Anna and her bro are globetrotting teen assassins, orphans no less, and are b...moreSorry, there's nothing to like about this book. Its all so very cliche': Anna and her bro are globetrotting teen assassins, orphans no less, and are beautiful, rich, and expertly trained. Despite being mentored by a famous French Madame, for her job as a hired gun, naturally, she has managed to maintain her virginity and has sworn off love because it killed her parents. What kills me, is that she walks into the next "job" all sophisticated and street smart, and falls for a guy who's akin to any guido on Jersey Shore. He's rich, spoiled, a creepy womanizer, shallow as a mud puddle, and just all around "ick." Their relationship is totally devoid of anything meaningful, except for perhaps the fact that he didn't get her in bed the first night like he usually does, so he determines that means he loves her. What a winner. Anna, is no better, figuring she's in love, when in truth its really the only romantic relationship she's ever had. Neither one of them is all that emotive-- its a lot of tell and little show. Anyway, thats as far as I got after a couple of tries. It was just. so. dumb.(less)
Only hours after writing a hateful review of Obsidian, my curiosity got the better of me and I started Onyx.
And while my opinion on the first book still stands, I can honestly say the second book is much, much better. Onyx manages to salvage the series from the depths of mediocrity with a more engaging and complex storyline.
The characters did grow on me a little, too: Daemon (ugh, hate that spelling) is not so one dimensional and Katy's sense of humor kinda cracked me up a little.
Armentrout still plays her readers with Katy's book obsession, working it in fairly regularly with mentions of the blog, reviews, ARC's, Amazon and media mail deliveries, and book boyfriends. And because all this is completely unrelated to the story, worse yet, not even an integral part of Katy's character (in between the book love parts I completely forget that about her), the sole purpose seems to be flattering the audience's egos with some shrewd boot-licking. The blatantness of it is insulting.
Clearly Armentrout is aware that she is sucking up to her audience, but I can't decide if she is conscious of how suggestively manipulative she is being. By overly validating her readers', for example, she's not just making our connection to the main character stronger, she's putting us in the story itself. We're important and appreciated by someone famous, immortalized in print, and best of all, we are no longer faceless observers of the realm of fantasy, but vainly aware of our inclusion in it. She cleverly maneuvers us into feeling invested to the story, and through her attentions we are more loyal, more forgiving, more eager to please. It's goes beyond just the power of suggestion: it's a sneaky way to tap into the loop of positive reflexivity no matter it's legitimacy.
It also makes us susceptive to the almost omnipotent influence an author is capable of wielding. Part of the magic of fiction is that a book can be widely appealing and still intimately personal; our individual connection to a story universally connects us to everyone else who did too, even if for different reasons. Even still, it is easy to feel alone: we struggle to figure out life while the rest of the world surges ahead seemingly unaffected. Especially in the tween to teen years, we are hyper-aware of how others act and deal, feigning maturity while we frantically try to determine the equilibrium of acceptable social behavior.
Books can seem like a voyeuristic glimpse into how it's supposed to be done-- a veritable play book for normalcy. But just because it's published doesn't mean its a consensus, or even true, for that matter. It's simply whatever experience and imagination the author calls upon, which when read by thousands, is now legitimized by shared acceptence.
Because of this, a popular author can have an astronomical influence on more than just their readers, but ultimately, on the whole of society. It can become more than just pop culture references, though: besides the story, the author permeates and infuses the subconciousness of the collective in the most minute ways. This is precisely why there are college courses on Harry Potter and scholarly books about Twilight.
What's always been ironic to me (or coincidental, if you're a purist), is that I have yet to read a YA book written by an actual young adult. But I'm already way off course so I'll save that argument for another time.
So what this all comes down to is that an author, especially one as seasoned as Armentrout, has to be aware of their influence, and such obvious pandering is pretty much on the same level as anonymously writing fabulous reviews about yourself. In other words: tacky.(less)
I've really liked the other two Cindy Bennett books I've read, so this one seemed like a no brainer. Not to mention the story takes place in GOSHEN, U...moreI've really liked the other two Cindy Bennett books I've read, so this one seemed like a no brainer. Not to mention the story takes place in GOSHEN, UT of all places! That really solidified it for me.
From the beginning, though, it was apparent that this not like her other books. Obviously the paranormal element was something new, but what really differentiated it was the serious lack of polish. The uber-predictability and schmaltzy cliche romance, along with sporadic pacing, conveniently patched plot holes, and some exceptionally bizarre behavior by the characters, barely elevate Immortal Mine out of fan-ficdom.
Aside from all that, though, the small-town Utah part was pretty classic, and really, the guy in this story is unparalleled in the love department: soooo bad it's hilarious! (less)
Jerky guy, no chemistry except primal lust, and lots of vital world-building information hastily brushed over...moreYou people are crazy: this book is lame.
Jerky guy, no chemistry except primal lust, and lots of vital world-building information hastily brushed over with an "I don't know why- that's just the way it is," or "it was explained to me before but now I can't remember." What a cop-out!
And though many authors obviously write to their audience by making the heroine an avid reader, Armentrout's efforts are so ridiculously contrived as to feel pandering!
I have no idea what there is to like about this story, except for the novelty of the underused paranormal element of aliens, which it almost doesn't even qualify for.
But hey, if you did happen to like this, you'll undoubtedly love Brigid Kemmerer's Storm (Elemental #1). I hate that book for almost all the same reasons as this one!(less)
On the whole, this book is really fairly good. But I just COULD NOT get passed how awkward the premise was!
The concept of an echo is a bold one, and...moreOn the whole, this book is really fairly good. But I just COULD NOT get passed how awkward the premise was!
The concept of an echo is a bold one, and to make it work, the details needed to be conceivable, or at the very least, convincing. Yet nothing about this alternate reality, as I suppose it must be, gives any validity to what transpires.
First of all, the Loom or the stitching (and unstitching) of echoes is some vast enigma constantly mentioned but never explained. It seems to be set in the present, but the Loom has been around, and cobbling together people, for over 200 years. The closest explanations for how it works, besides the vague stitching references, are the mention of some grave robbing and in the very end, dust and bones. But more on that in a minute.
Then there's the fact that people are ordering up a replacement for their loved ones: not for spare parts, but rather like a clone to fill in for the deceased like nothing happened. Apparently, echoes are illegal in some places, and morally and culturally shunned almost everywhere, so it's unbelievably risky for all involved. Not to mention what it must cost to *create* a person, have them raised in hiding so no one gets suspicious, and yet also make sure the echo knows every last detail of the person's life. The feasibility of such a thing is hard to imagine.
The echoes are genetically identical to their Other and are even infused with bits of the Other's soul, yet they have separate (and it turns out distinct) consciences. How the soul-share works is a mystery never explained, and doesn't seem to actually work ( ie: shared talents, likes/dislikes) except to give them a vague psychic link.
This is a huge weakness for the story, in my opinion, not to mention the ultimate fallibility of cloning: reproducing the soul or spirit or conscience or whatever you want to call it. Even reincarnation can't work in this situation. What seems to be happening in this story is that the loom is just one of those fancy cellular printers and the echoes are simply test tube twins to their Other. They are outwardly identical and inwardly an individual composition of the parents.
Because of these issues of inherent dissimilarity, the whole idea of expecting an echo to live separately and yet *be* the Other without even direct contact, is a whole new level of ridiculous. And yet the moral indignation against echoes in the story is about the unnatural creation of the bodies, not the human rights issues of their freedom.
Every other complaint I have about the book stems from the inadequacy of the logic in this world the author has created. A solid framework of plausible justification is required for most stories, but absolutely vital for science fiction, speculative fiction, even fantasy. Without a set of rules or parameters, a reader is left floundering in confusion about how they are supposed to react. Is this our world in the future? Is it an alternate reality? The answer to that alone would at least be a start.
Aside from all this, the characterization and development are all very good, the writing is well done, and there is a noticeable level of existential depth. But what good does any of this do if it's balanced precariously on a premise that stays afloat as well as the Titanic with a hole in its side?(less)