Okay, I liked Bertie LOADS better this time around, but still don't get the swooning over Ariel. Not only is he a total creeper getting handsy through...moreOkay, I liked Bertie LOADS better this time around, but still don't get the swooning over Ariel. Not only is he a total creeper getting handsy throughout the whole freaking book, HE'S A FAIRY BERTIE. HE IS BASICALLY THE MAN WITH THE THISTLE-DOWN HAIR. YOU DON'T HOOK UP WITH FAIRIES.
Additionally, while from the first moment of the first book, I could feel the connection and friendship between Nate and Bertie, I had to be told that Ariel and Bertie used to play together and be friends. I couldn't feel any history between them or feel anything more from him than the klaxon-sounding alarm bells of "creepy fairy wants to own you" vibes. Which, I have to say, I was very pleasantly surprised and gratified the author totally acknowledged and addressed, and finally subverted, giving Bertie a real (hur hur) grounding in her own power, agency, wants, and needs.
This is finally a story about Bertie growing up, not giving herself as a prize to one man.
Lastly, I STILL feel like all the Theatre worldbuilding is completely wacko and I still feel like the bulk of this story could have happened completely independently of the theater. The rest of the world she builds is way more interesting, internally consistent, and fun than this weird half-archetypal, half-actual real place that is the theater, even if there are tons more questions raised (The Twelve Outposts of Beyond? So, is this whole place like an archetypal mind-world? Or is it real? Who do all these performers perform to? And so on). I love, love, love the whole story with Sedna. More solid mythic stuff than the rest of the story put together.
Also, I feel I can carve away a lot of the theater-stuff and still be left with a ton of story. Bertie's mother didn't really have to be Hamlet's Ophelia. She didn't have to have Ariel or Shakespearean fairies as companions or be raised in a theater to go on this journey, be a Daughter of Earth, or find her missing father.
It works out better in this second book (to where I almost feel differently), but it still bugs me. (less)
Pretty scatterbrained, unlike the Thursday Next novels, which, for all the insanity and randomness of the alternate universe she lived in, and the she...morePretty scatterbrained, unlike the Thursday Next novels, which, for all the insanity and randomness of the alternate universe she lived in, and the sheer amount of *stuff* in the world being thrown at you, seemed to have Ideas and Rules behind every bit. This felt a bit more like a cartoon show without a very careful show bible. Character moments come out of nowhere (I'm thinking of one in particular at the end, but it happens throughout) and have absolutely no sign of them coming from the rest of the story.
Weirdly, it was a few of the minor characters that seemed the most real, graspable, and solidly part of the world. Jennifer seemed slightly apart from everything, and fuzzy, and didn't quite fit in to everything... and not in the "I'm different from everyone else and I don't fit in" way our heroes usually are.
Loved the dragons, Kazam, Big Magic and the Quarkbeast. Some really delightful and funny moments and worldbuilding, but a lot of it felt like I was supposed to have a short attention span. (less)