Whew! Who would've guessed that a steampunk, post-apocalyptic, Jane Austen retelling could work out this well?
It sounds disastrous, because r...moreWhew! 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.(less)
Thanks to Anne of Green Gables, the premise of this book immediately reminded me of Alfred Noyes' "The Highwayman." And indeed, The Highwayman of Tang...moreThanks to Anne of Green Gables, the premise of this book immediately reminded me of Alfred Noyes' "The Highwayman." And indeed, The Highwayman of Tanglewood is just as deliciously dark, mysterious, and romantic as the poem, though not very similar in plot.
True to the wildly sensational literature of the 1800's, Tanglewood falls right in line with Wilkie Collins and some of the lesser known works of Louisa May Alcott: titled gentlemen, scandalous rogues, dastardly deeds, heroic rescues, duels of honor, and of course, secret trysts. And just like its 19th century predecessors, the romance element of Tanglewood is tantalizing while still remaining practically chaste with nothing more than kissing. But wow, it is dreamy!
So, yeah, I realized afterwards that this is akin to--though, not necessarily one of-- those cheesy, historical romances that I never imagined myself desperate enough (in multiple ways) to ever pick up.
However, having spent years thoroughly analyzing the mess out of 19th century literature, I'm going to lean on those similarities as justification for loving this "historical romance" as much as I do!
P.S. What's with the Highwayman speaking in Pirate?(less)
Really not as bad as I was worried it might be. I mean, the book tells you right on the cover that it's a cheesy romance novel about cheesy romance no...moreReally not as bad as I was worried it might be. I mean, the book tells you right on the cover that it's a cheesy romance novel about cheesy romance novels, but it was a cute premise nonetheless. At any rate, even though these characters are 18, so technically still teens, they are in college, which apparently means a YA book can go from a PG-13 rating to an R.(less)
I read (and liked) the preview chapters a while ago, but the longer I sat on it, the less excited I was to co...moreI 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. (less)
After so many neggy reviews, I was afraid this would be one of those garishly trashy, poorly written, hopelessly nauseating contrivances of overused c...moreAfter so many neggy reviews, I was afraid this would be one of those garishly trashy, poorly written, hopelessly nauseating contrivances of overused cliches riddled with cavernous plot holes and cardboard characters that the publisher knows is awful but figures by just cashing in on the stunning dress on the cover trend, will likely sucker enough people to still make it mildly profitable, kind of books.
I've become too jaded.
I don't know what other people were expecting, but this was actually light and sweet and way more authentic than the comparative "non-fiction" of The Bachelor!
And yeah, it reminded me of Hunger Games too, with the lottery and the fancy makeovers and the selling a version of yourself that is appealing to the audience as much as the judge. It felt strikingly similar at times, and I thought how a bunch of girls in that kind of situation could be as vicious and cut-throat as if their very survival depended upon it.
The other book it resembles is Wither, with the competition for one man's affection, the upfront dissatisfaction of the heroine despite her good luck, and the jealousy, backstabbing, and tentative friendships among the girls. And unlike Wither, I actually liked the heroine and felt like her feelings for the two guys were truly substantiated in the story! The relationships in Wither felt flaky and shallow, but in The Selection, there is still friendship and respect underneath the attraction.
I'm not trying to make it seem more substantial than it is, because really, it's fairytale fluff with only mild amounts of intrigue. But geez, that's ok! It's so much better to be a *good* piece of fluff than being an embarrassingly *awful* attempt at something more serious!
And yeah, it's all pretty predictable, but hey, at least I don't have to worry about the author screwing up the next book(s)--- yay! for the safe-bet-happily-ever-afters once in awhile!(less)
This is at least the 3rd time this year that an "eagerly awaited" second book in a series is absolutely awful! (Cross...moreAlright, that's IT! I've had it!
This is at least the 3rd time this year that an "eagerly awaited" second book in a series is absolutely awful! (Crossed and Pandemonium are the other two that come to mind). It's a major let down after such strong beginnings, and feels so devoid of the original magic it's like an intern churned it out and they slapped the author's name on it cause they knew it would sell (actually sounds feasible).
I'm talking about the weak story, characters turned trite and animatronic, and nothing but tell, tell, tell! Point A to Point B and none of it's important. It's just filler.
It's insulting, really.
Well, in the end, it's just another series that I dont have to worry about finishing. At least there's that.(less)
Not what I expected at all. I mean, look at the kid on the cover---he looks like Eminem or something with that hoodie and the pursed lips. He seems co...moreNot what I expected at all. I mean, look at the kid on the cover---he looks like Eminem or something with that hoodie and the pursed lips. He seems completely misplaced in an urban fantasy. I quit thinking of the kid on the cover, and pictured someone else, actually.
Even still, I was really caught up in his story at the beginning. It was a good setup and I was intrigued by the situation. Further into the book, things got a little sloppier, and I just didn't feel as strong of a connection with the character after that.
You know what the problem was? Suddenly, Dylan wasn't much of a guy anymore...I realized that his "voice" had changed. I wasn't reading this through the eyes of a 17 year old boy anymore (which wasn't all that believable in the first place), I was reading it from the eyes of a thinly disguised adult female. I hate it when that happens. Disillusion is the worst.
This cognizant awareness of disconnect extended into the rest of the story as well. I wasn't really "in" the book anymore, I was just watching. So, while there were a few areas that were a little vague, for the most part, the world building was surprisingly adequate. In other words, even with some holes, it was concise, and would have suffered with too much more explanation, kind of like how movies are squished into a roughly 100 minute timeframe.
All in all, even though the quality wasn't 5 star, I find I really do like the story in a lot of ways. (less)