This book isn't really worthy of 5 stars, but the buildup of the series to this point IS.
From books 1-3, things just get better and better...moreGood golly.
This book isn't really worthy of 5 stars, but the buildup of the series to this point IS.
From books 1-3, things just get better and better. Knowing there are still 2 more books is killing me with anticipation in hopes that the story keeps up the same intensifying pace till the end. This has created a very rare giddiness that I only rarely experience with books.
And unbelievably, I actually shed tears at the end of this one. I seriously haven't cried at a book since I read Rilla of Ingleside when I was 14 (reading books when I'm pregnant doesn't count).
Even more astonishing, I began to realize that these books are incredibly clean. I don't remember any language, and there certainly wasn't anything more than making out. The awesome part, is with the way the story's written, those elements would be obviously out of place. They don't fit with this story. But the books are DEFINITELY not lacking in romance and sexual tension. It totally reaffirms the value of being Ladies, and Gentlemen.
The first few pages didn't really draw me in, so it took weeks for me to finally try again. Once I got a feel for the p...moreWowzers! Almost 5 star worthy!
The first few pages didn't really draw me in, so it took weeks for me to finally try again. Once I got a feel for the prose though, I was totally hooked!
What I liked so much is that this is a well-balanced adventure, combining political intrigue with mystery with romance with epic trekking with a heroine strong enough to make any feminist proud and yet still feminine enough to make ME proud (it's a fine line, my friends).
Vianne is tough and smart and careful. She uses her "skills" as a lady in waiting to the best possible advantage, keeping herself from taking offense, knowing how to carefully turn her words to get the precise effect, and reading faces and situations for all the underlying detail. She understands the tenuous meaning of loyalty and trust; knows that you have to give and get a little, even though you will usually be betrayed at some point, but that even these frail allegiences are better than nothing, so is careful to keep in good graces wherever she can. Best of all, she is not impulsive (a rarity for any YA heroine), but listens and watches and waits, biding her time for answers to be revealed and situations to explain themselves. With all the social ruthlessness she is capable of, she is nevertheless compassionate and fair, and all of this gives her better 'actual' leadership skills than any character in any book that I can think of at the moment.
But with all this high praise, Vianne does have one fatal flaw: romantic blindness. That's right, she is one of those girls who not only can't see how smitten the guy is, and then thinks he's just playing her for his own nefarious plans. Ugh. For awhile I was really annoyed with her.
Luckily, after the bizarre gypsy montage in the middle of the book, she gets over her romantic idiocy and really starts to grow into her role. It's awesome to see a character developing and not just staying stupid and stubborn from start to finish.
Yet apart from the he-loves-me-he-loves-me-not stupidity, there is a great balance of the said and the unsaid in many of the elements of the story. There is respect and chivalry and honor and there is treachery and murder and brutality, without any of it being overdone or explicit. I appreciate it so much when an author is capable of being accurate in the ugliness of the truth while maintaining the propriety and manners of the period the story is set in (I'm looking right at you, Kristen Cashore).
Comparing this, as I like to do, to other books that I've read, this reminds me of The Goose Girl, Graceling, and Fire, The False Princess, Poison Study, and Dragonswood, but The Hedgewitch Queen is definitely the most satisfying of all of them, keeping things fast paced and surprising right up to the end. And even though it looks like book 2 might be from a different character's pov, I'm hoping it won't veer as far from the heroine as the subsequent books after Goose Girl.
So a little bit of different up front: this girl is a total brat and she knows it. She's selfish and angry and its all on purpose.
It was kind of refre...moreSo a little bit of different up front: this girl is a total brat and she knows it. She's selfish and angry and its all on purpose.
It was kind of refreshing, actually.
But then halfway through, she remarkably grows a conscience, and swiftly morphs into The-YA-heroine-from-every-single-book.
And then, to add insult to injury, it turns out she's got magical powers, and oh yeah, she's a troll (which really doesn't surprise her that much), and wait a minute, she was switched at birth and her real parents are the Troll Royalty, so of course she's a princess! Could this get any better?
Oh yes it could, if you aren't tired of reading this genre yet. This is totally run-of-the-mill YA fiction, meaning there are dozens of books out right now with different variations of the same elements like they were just picked out of a hat! And all these break-out authors are dipping out of the same one!
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 s...moreHum. 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.(less)
Pretty faithful retelling of Jane Eyre, but lacked Bronte's emotional power so really not that great in the end. It felt like all the effort was made...morePretty faithful retelling of Jane Eyre, but lacked Bronte's emotional power so really not that great in the end. It felt like all the effort was made converting the story to a plausible setting in the 1960's without doing justice to the characters. Gemma wasn't all that endearing, and Mr. Sinclair hardly even had a presence. Compared to Rochester's big secret, Sinclair's is laughable. The story moved along well enough, but by following the original so closely, I was bored within the first quarter of the book since I already knew what would happen. With rather lifeless characters, the only thing left to redeem the book was whatever alterations to the story the author had made, but even those were tedious to me. And while the story ends happier than Jane Eyre in some ways, the overall depressingness pretty much overshadows the resolution. (less)
A sort-of intriguing premise, but the story failed to really go anywhere new.
So, at the end of the story, I did something between an exasperated huff...moreA sort-of intriguing premise, but the story failed to really go anywhere new.
So, at the end of the story, I did something between an exasperated huff and a growl, since the cliffhanger was a bit predictable and just a little disheartening because its like I could see out into the future of the series, where the author just sort of strings you along for a couple of books and it all ends pretty much the way you expected.
I've read too many books like this already, so I'm not going to bother, but don't let that stop you.(less)
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 Simm...moreHere 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.
I don't know what it is, but the idea of a hidden community in the tunnels and sewers under a city is so intriguing to me. Especially when it's one li...moreI don't know what it is, but the idea of a hidden community in the tunnels and sewers under a city is so intriguing to me. Especially when it's one like this where the underground society has isolated themselves long enough, and so completely, that there is massive cultural drift from the people living above them. This is a lot like Enclave in many ways, but not nearly as scary. I'm also reminded of Divergent, and of course, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I'm not very thrilled about the ending, but it's a sensible enough resolution. I guess maybe I just feel like I needed a longer book. I wanted to spend more time in this story and with these characters.(less)
This is so wonderfully different than anything I've read in the last year (which is a lot)! It took a little getting used to, and the mythology is kin...moreThis is so wonderfully different than anything I've read in the last year (which is a lot)! It took a little getting used to, and the mythology is kind of wonky at times, but wow, this is a fantastic story! Think Jungle Book meets Lady Hawke with Indiana Jones and James Bond as well. And this girl, Kelsey, is just so unbelievably healthy and normal (seriously, I was suspicious for a long time)! Literally finished the last page of this book and opened the first page of the next-- too good to put down!(less)