I really like this approach to the Rumpelstiltskin tale, but like some of the other stories in this series, things just happen too quickly. The short...moreI really like this approach to the Rumpelstiltskin tale, but like some of the other stories in this series, things just happen too quickly. The short story/novella format is perfect for the Fairy Tale Genre, and I can't say how much I appreciate a quick little read. I just wish they were a little more polished.(less)
Having just come off the massive disappointment and bewilderment of Spindle's End, I figured another Sleeping Beauty retelling would help me get over...moreHaving just come off the massive disappointment and bewilderment of Spindle's End, I figured another Sleeping Beauty retelling would help me get over it.
I didn't have very high expectations for this one since I've only read one other of Cameron Dokey's books, The Storytellers Daughter, and it was just ok for me.
At any rate, I think both of these preexisting conditions (so to speak), have a great deal to do with how I'm rating Beauty Sleep (isn't that always the way?).
All the things that bugged me about Spindle's End were conveniently absent: loooonnnnggg, drawn out story, confusing magical dimension, lack of much romance, and seriously unsatisfactory conclusion. By default, that means that Beauty Sleep was a quick read, transparently predictable, with a cheesily happy ending.
I'm not sure I would consider those positive attributes if I hadn't read Spindle's End first, but for me, at this moment, it was exactly what I needed it to be.
Alright Dokey, we had a bit of a rough start together, but you have unequivocally won me over. After Midnight is beautiful!
I love how you give your st...moreAlright Dokey, we had a bit of a rough start together, but you have unequivocally won me over. After Midnight is beautiful!
I love how you give your stories sadness and hardships and the characters don't just overcome them, they triumph over them! It turns the story completely on its head and makes the happily ever after that much better!
And again, compared to Robin McKinley's brand of mysterious magic that even she doesn't seem to understand nor contain (but still presents as if that automatically gives it moral weight), your mysterious magic is maybe not so complex, but infinitely more accessible and therefore applicable.
More to the point, After Midnight was hopeful and even a bit inspiring. And not in the profound, challenge-your-beliefs sort of way. It's as if the theme throughout all your books is to acknowledge that darkness exists, but that we don't have to dwell there (as Uctdorf aptly put it). Seriously, how often does fiction do that?
Let me start by saying that like many other readers, I read Beauty when I...moreUgh, Robin Mckinley gets on my nerves.
Also, this book is stupid.
Let me start by saying that like many other readers, I read Beauty when I was younger and absolutely loved it. McKinley seemed so revered in her genre that I assumed that same standard continues in her other books. This last week I finally got around to reading three of then back to back: Chalice, The Blue Sword, and Spindle's End.
Two facets of her writing consistently stood out throughout: her arcane, convoluted, long-windedness, and her capacity to write underwhelming conclusions.
Let me give you some examples:
"Looking at them made you dizzy and gave you a headache and you suddenly felt you no longer knew which way was up and which down, and you wanted something to hold on to, except that there wasn't anything to hold on to, except each other, and that wasn't any good because all the rest of you felt exactly the same....Flinx was still sitting, but sitting to attention, watching the things come (if come was quite the right word) closer, for closer they undoubtedly were" (Spindle's End, 362).
"These things looked rather more human: upright, swinging what might be arms, walking with two legs; although what they walked on and from where was a little obscure, since they seemed to be walking out through the doorless wall of the castle, and across the moat on a level with the ground, although there was nothing there for them to walk on" (364).
Ok, granted these are from a chapter wherein the characters are greatly confused by their magical surroundings, but this rambling and back-tracking and cross examining (did you notice the two 'although's in one sentence in the last excerpt?) is pretty much her preferred mode of writing. It is so blasted tedious.
This circuitous narration was tolerable for most of the story, but was compounded in the last quarter of the book as the action itself grew more and more random. What started off as a really great interpretation of the Sleeping Beauty tale, evolved into something backward and bizarre.
Ok, so switching places with Peony at the end did seem like a logical move, but even after everything happened, to continue the farce with the prince and the royal family and the entire sovereignty of the kingdom for the rest of their lives? That's crazy! So many lies!
And she falls in love with NARL? Seriously?? Isn't he at least 20 years older than her? ( I presumed he was way older than 20 when she was born, but who knows).
Anyway, I get that she was atypical, so really it's awesome that she was able to see past the age difference and his weird, grunty, bachelor-ness, but it seemed such an anti-climactic ending after so much build up.
I don't know, I could go on and on about how confusingly backwards this story ended up, but there's so much it's just making my head hurt.
One final note, though: At one point Rosie is recalling her favorite stories, including "many of the tales of Damar against the North, especially of Harimad-sol at the Madamer Gate," which, in case you didn't know, is the story in The Blue Sword. Ha! Sly cross-over there, McKinley, except wait...that totally messes with my head: wasn't The Blue Sword like 19th century and Spindle's End pretty much medieval? Ugh. Robin McKinley, you are no Orson Scott Card, so just leave all that time manipulation stuff alone. Sheesh.(less)
It totally annoys me that the flower on the cover isn't an amaranth at all! It's in the stinking title and they couldn't bother getting it right? Unbe...moreIt totally annoys me that the flower on the cover isn't an amaranth at all! It's in the stinking title and they couldn't bother getting it right? Unbelievable! Plus, I feel swindled, because Love Lies Bleeding is one of my favorite flowers and so under-appreciated as it is. It's a travesty, I tell you!(less)
This is pretty good for being a second book. Manages to hold it's place in the story arc without sacrificing interesting developments or a steady pace...moreThis is pretty good for being a second book. Manages to hold it's place in the story arc without sacrificing interesting developments or a steady pace. Lots of character growth too.
Getting a little gaggy in the romance though.(less)
This is a good, solid, middle grades series, but it just hasn't been amazing for me.
Jaron is a frustrating hero, and especially by the end, I was get...more This is a good, solid, middle grades series, but it just hasn't been amazing for me.
Jaron is a frustrating hero, and especially by the end, I was getting tired of his endless talents and uncanny knack for getting himself out of the worst situations. Not to mention his rather super-human strength in some instances. It's becoming harder and harder to believe he's only 15.
It's also a struggle, at times, to remember he's a boy. There are some author's that just can't quite peg the other gender, and Nielsen is having a hard time. Jaron's view of the story is not necessarily effeminate-- but you can tell by the way he thinks and talks that the perspective is coming from a female writer.
That's not to say that there aren't sensitive guys out there. And certainly, with the feminist movement that has produced a culture of almost entirely butt-kicking warrior princesses etc. as heroines, the gender lines have blurred to the point where perhaps we are forced to have androgynous characters to be politically correct.
Just so you know, I don't think that's the case here. Nielsen makes some effort at gender roles with the Thieves/Pirate Code of not harming women and children. It was most surprising that the kitchen girls in the Pirate camp had no fear at all-- they couldn't be touched. (Quite the opposite of what you would expect from pirates, but ok.) The only problem with her portrayal is that the females in this book are significantly underplayed and almost lifeless. This is one case where Nielsen seems to overemphasize Jaron's masculinity by keeping his thoughts and emotions about the girls purposely below the surface and thus minimizing their roles in the story. Yet frustrating thing about him, because there were very slight hints about how he felt about them, but even when he is forthcoming he is ambiguous.
Normally, I don't focus on gender issues, but they stood out more in this book because its all over the place.
But, yeah, the story is mostly good, and the series is doing fine, just remember its for kids.(less)