Right now, the only things I want to discuss about the book are spoilers, so click at your own risk.
(view spoiler)[WTF?! I peeked at the last page when I was nowhere near finished reading the book properly so I was very confused come page 208 in my Australian paperback edition.
This...this may be the author being clever and profound, but it also grinds my gears because THE NOVEL HAS THREE ENDINGS. 1) Max dies. 2) Carys dies. 3) They both die, pulling out each other's oxygen tubes, so neither will have to live alone.
WHICH IS THE REAL ENDING?!
In Scenario #2, I figured out what the author was getting at:
Page 290: 'People used to believe,' Liljana says, 'that we get the chance to repeat our lives. We live them, over and over, and the only way to move on is to make a different decision, to bring about a different outcome. It is only then that we reach a higher plane. So that awful moment you experienced is just one moment you can live again with a different outcome, every time, until you achieve the right one.'
So what's the real ending? Who the fark knows.
Anyhoo, if recommending this book to a friend, do NOT recommend it to a reader who requires both characters to live. And also do NOT recommend it to someone who's had a partner die, because this book may have a negative effect on their mental health. I AM SERIOUS ABOUT THIS. Instead of either of them choosing to live, the characters decide they'd rather die together, and when mutual-murder/mutual-suicide is insinuated as the "right" ending... (hide spoiler)]
I loved all the science, particularly the space scenes. I loved the side characters of Kent, Liu, and Priya. For reasons mentioned in the spoilers, there are particular people I can't recommend this book to. But everyone else, have at it! :-)...more
I blame Cassandra Rose Clarke. Ever since I read and thoroughly enjoyed Our Lady of the Ice, and short story White Out, I've wanted more Antarctic ficI blame Cassandra Rose Clarke. Ever since I read and thoroughly enjoyed Our Lady of the Ice, and short story White Out, I've wanted more Antarctic fiction. (Jennifer Longo's Up to This Pointe is on my wishlist, by the way.)
And so I stumbled upon Thirst, a standalone novel by British-Australian author L. A. Larkin. Glaciologist Luke Searle is in for the fight of his life when a sinister plot unravels on the ice, with catastrophic results for the entire world unless Luke can stop it.
I don't read many thrillers nowadays, especially ones that put countries against each other. (Think James Bond.) In this case, the baddie is Chinese, and his father - the General - is even more of a baddie. (Circa page 320, there's a flashback to a pre-rape scene, so you may want to skip those few pages.) Wendy Woo is a great heroine, but she's relegated to only the odd chapter here and there.
Corporate greed has the power to destroy the world in this chilling thriller. Larkin keeps the pace up for the entire novel as survival skills are put to the test. Thirst is bloody good....more
New Guard is the final novel in Robert Muchamore's thrilling CHERUB series. It was time. I'd lost some interest, until I perked up again with the intrNew Guard is the final novel in Robert Muchamore's thrilling CHERUB series. It was time. I'd lost some interest, until I perked up again with the introduction of now-regulars Ryan Sharma and Fu Ning. But the Aramov case took three books to solve, so it seemed overly long. As for Lone Wolf, the penultimate, all I remember is the unveiling of the Campus Village at the end. (How can CHERUB afford all that, by the way? And the annual summer sojourn to a private Mediterranean island resort? While some may point out the improbability of underage people being spies, I instead get hung up on money issues. I am strange.)
New Guard is a wonderfully fitting farewell, doing the classic move of pop culture series everywhere: it gets the old gang back together for one last hurrah. Though this time the "Crustys" have some "Currents" with them on a mission to rescue two kidnapped oil well equipment maintenance workers in Syria.
What's great about CHERUB is that it's not all about James Adams. It may have started with his POV, but quickly expanded to include his sister Lauren, his girlfriend Kerry Chang, and more recently characters like Ryan and Ning. Indeed, the strongest characters in the series are the girls. This instalment also includes the awesome Tovah, and the future's looking bright with a new youngster we meet at the end.
As for the boys... Well, in the past James cheated on Kerry. Ryan's still hung up on someone he met on a mission, though he could do better. And while Bruce Norris's choice of girlfriend is otherwise awesome...she's seventeen, and he's about twenty-three.
Though Lauren stars on the front cover, the character with the biggest arc in the book is Kerry. She goes through a lot of tripe and upheaval, but it looks like she'll be OK....more
(view spoiler)[The drag queen had HIV, and infected about eight people. In the case of one of the victims, the HIV developed into AIDS, and he killed(view spoiler)[The drag queen had HIV, and infected about eight people. In the case of one of the victims, the HIV developed into AIDS, and he killed himself. The drag queen was killed after being put on a hit list by the victim's father. (hide spoiler)]...more
**spoiler alert** NOTE: You may want to skip the interlude between Chapters 5 and 6. Piglets, their mother, and a dog all killed. The violence is impl**spoiler alert** NOTE: You may want to skip the interlude between Chapters 5 and 6. Piglets, their mother, and a dog all killed. The violence is implied, but nonetheless hard to read.
Serial killer novels are tricky, especially when written from the POV of a potential victim. You know there has to be reason why this character is the protagonist, rather than any of the previous victims. You know there's something different this time around - because Ruth Carver is ruthless.
This is uncomfortable, because it relies on the trope of "she's not like other girls", which compares girls instead of appreciating them on their own merits. I had a similar problem reading Cheryl Rainfield's Stained, also from the POV of a serial killer's captive, which implies that the previous victims "didn't try hard enough" to save themselves.
In short, this is an awkward situation that I'm not sure any author can get right. But Carolyn Lee Adams does include the previous victims in a spiritual sense, having them work together with Ruth. She wasn't around to save them, but they'll do what they can to help her. After all, they've all been targets of Wolfman.
It's so hard to write antagonists. If you write them as too obviously evil, they lack nuance. But if you give them back-story, it's like humanising them. It's kind of no-win in this aspect. Ruthless gives Wolfman a history and reasons why he kills, but there's no excuse for murder. I particularly dislike the trope of "this person bullied me, so I'll kill everyone who reminds me of them". Is this how anti-bullying is taught in the US? "If you bully someone, they'll bring a gun to school and shoot you"? Are we supposed to feel sorry for Wolfman? I don't. But maybe if he'd received better mental healthcare, he may not have become a killer. Who knows?
Ruth Carver's persistence in surviving takes her from Wolfman's cabin to out and about in the Blue Ridge Mountains - hiking, hiding, and hunting. Nature is both a help and a hindrance, while the kindness of strangers can't be counted on at all. A spooky, atmospheric read, Ruthless isn't easily forgotten. At first, Ruth just wants help. But then she wants revenge.
Wolfman must be stopped before his misogyny kills again.
Recommended listening: Kings of Leon's "Trunk" played in my head during the driving scenes.
Quote of interest:"You ever heard of trich? It's not even a bacteria or a virus; it's a protozoa. A little animal."...more
SPOILER WARNING: This review contains SPOILERS. (This is what you came for...) But if you want a non-spoilery review - 2 stars. Some things I liked; aSPOILER WARNING: This review contains SPOILERS. (This is what you came for...) But if you want a non-spoilery review - 2 stars. Some things I liked; a lot I didn't.
CONTENT WARNING: Flashbacks/details of rape and sexual abuse (including that of children), demonising of mental healthcare professionals, ableism/mentalism, fat-phobia.
"Not what you expect. Everything you want." So says the novel's ads, but it turns out I'm not the "you" in question. It is what I expected, and not what I wanted. (view spoiler)[(I hoped Eva and Gideon would break up and never get back together.) (hide spoiler)]
You can so tell the author wrote this book with a TV adaptation in mind. Most characters have their own subplots, but we don't see them through to conclusion, so they come across as filler. Not really a surprise that this is the longest novel the author's written - it didn't need to be.
So much repetition about how much Eva and Gideon love each other, how attractive they find each other. There's a lot of emphasis on Eva's chest and posterior. Not just from Gideon's POV but also Eva's. Ireland speaks up, too. Though Eva's "curvy", we are constantly reminded. There's fat-phobia here, when at first Eva doesn't want to be photographed in a bikini after "pigging out" at lunch. (Her words, not mine.) At first I wondered if all the prose about Eva's body was foreshadowing a maybe-pregnancy (like how I thought all the period talk in a previous episode would lead to; I was wrong), but of course not. Gideon's not willing to share Eva with anyone, not even a child. Same reason he doesn't want Eva to hang out with her family and friends.
And for a supposedly "erotic" novel, the shagging is actually...really boring. Except for one scene with brief rimming and thumb play. But kudos to the author: at least she's given up on the D/s thing she forced into earlier episodes, back when this series was trying to be an up-market FSOG. Sylvia Day even included E. L. James in the dedication or acknowledgements for Bared to You.
So what actually happens here? (view spoiler)[Eva resigns from her job. Undecided whether to work for Gideon or not, she concentrates on arranging their second wedding. They plan to sell the event photos, and give the money to charity. Only it doesn't sound charitable if you're donating the money to your own foundation, just saying.
Eva decides they shouldn't have sex until the wedding. Gideon says no. Eva says, "You can't say no." Gideon says, "You can't say no." Those are direct quotes, by the way. Gideon may not be a rapist, but he sure as hell sounds like one. (SPOILER: the chastity vow doesn't last. And they can't even spend their bachelor(ette) weekend apart, so Eva flies from Ibiza to Rio after a photo scandal. Melodrama.)
Meanwhile, Eva's being a pain, getting Cary to schedule appointments for her and use his contacts to get her a custom-made wedding dress. And she does a really irresponsible thing: gifts Gideon a puppy. NO. People, you can't just gift people with pets if they never showed any interest in wanting one. And if they do want one, take them to a shelter where they can meet a variety of individuals and choose their OWN new best friend, rather than YOU choosing one for them.
Gideon gets back at Eva by gifting a creepy bracelet. It comes in halves, and has to be screwed on with a special screwdriver, which he's keeping so she can't remove this...manacle. Because nothing says "I love you" more than "I want to trap you". *head-desk*
Eva does not have good relationships with other women. Key example: her mother controlled and stalked her, and Eva's husband controls and stalks her. Mommy issues! Eva also judges a woman for considering abortion, saying she's just manipulating a guy. And here's the charming thing she says to Gideon in regards to another woman: "Just imagining you flirting with her, giving her the idea you'd like to screw her, makes me want to break stuff - including her face." Uh, why not blame HIM instead? Wonder if Eva's got some internalised misogyny going on.
OK, we have to talk about how this series treats mental healthcare professionals. They're demonised; the cause of Gideon's trauma - except for Dr. Petersen, the BEST CHARACTER in Crossfire, the voice of reason who gives good advice. He's awesome. But it's uncomfortable that Gideon and Eva keep using the ableist/mentalist terms "crazy", "nuts", and "insane", and no one calls them out on it.
As for the others (I warned you there'd be SPOILERS): Hugh raped Gideon, who was a child. Terry helped cover it up. Anne's the villain in Crossfire, getting back at Gideon for the shoddy way he treated her. And here's the MEGA-SPOILER: she hires a patient to shoot Eva. Only Monica is hit instead, and dies.
This is weird, considering an odd subplot is based on Monica, and I waited for Gideon to confront her. That never happens. And though her back-story seems strangely just thrown in at first, it's actually the most interesting part of the entire novel. Of the entire SERIES. If only we'd had a book all about Monica instead... Anyway, we find out why she's so obsessed with money.
Gideon plays a major part in both these SPOILERS: he withholds information from Eva. When Monica dies, he doesn't tell Eva until the next day. (If he'd shagged her before he did that, I would've had a temper tantrum. He didn't, but I'm still pretty angry.) And when he receives the information that the investigation into Monica's life revealed...he doesn't tell Eva straight away, either. He'll tell her "when the time is right", or some shiz. I also would've blown a gasket there, but in the next chapter - the epilogue - he and Eva make plans regarding the care of, and visits to, Eva's aunt. (hide spoiler)]
And that's what you missed in One with You....more
"Suicide-by-police" - what does it mean? Police shoot Billy dead. How is that suicide? Anyway, apparently Billy wants them to kill him, and he gets his wish. I think "suicide-by-police" needs way more exploring, because there's barely anything here.
The Promised World is contemporary Gothic, with themes of effed-up families, gaslighting, manipulation, maybe-incest, and a big helping of pretentiousness. Billy is basically "guy in your MFA" who thinks he's top stuff, and there's hell to pay if you don't agree with his opinions - not just regarding literature, but about anything and everything. Ugh, he's the worst, so reading Lila's praise for (and everyone's compliments about) him is so freaking annoying.
So Lila and Billy have an unhealthy bond, and it all goes back to their childhood - which Lila doesn't remember much of; instead, relying on what Billy tells her happened.
As for Billy's children, Pearl is very much a VCA-esque character when she lives with Barbara. Maisie's too young to be given a subplot. And middle child William has his life endangered several times by his father, in a series of events called the Challenges, of which we don't get enough detail.
This book should've been right up my alley, but the characterisation doesn't work. I feel sorry for the characters (especially Ashley, Billy's wife), but I don't particularly like any of them. And when characters talk about literature and stories... Too meta-wank for me....more
CONTENT WARNING: Slut-shaming is a major theme here, told from the POV of the victim.
This is the second book in a row I've read that features a heroinCONTENT WARNING: Slut-shaming is a major theme here, told from the POV of the victim.
This is the second book in a row I've read that features a heroine in love with her male best friend who's in a relationship with their other female best friend. Weird coincidence. (Or is this common in YA?)
Sara Zarr has crafted an uncomfortable novel of the less-than-ideal situations that strike families and alter their relationships. Parents laid off from their long-time jobs. Older brother's girlfriend falls pregnant, decides to keep the baby, and everyone lives in the same house.
And then there's Deanna, who's sixteen now. At the age of thirteen, her father caught her in the backseat of a car with an older guy. Deanna's dad is paranoid she'll get pregnant, and so doesn't trust her alone with a guy.
When her plan falls through, Deanna's fear of the future is so real that it hurts to read. Though Story of a Girl ends optimistically, there are many struggles to get to that stage. It's not an easy read, but it's an important one that'll likely ring true for a lot of readers....more
CONTENT WARNING: The world is very ableist: the whole concept of Alphas and Omegas, and how Omegas are treated. Also, if you're pregnant, you may wantCONTENT WARNING: The world is very ableist: the whole concept of Alphas and Omegas, and how Omegas are treated. Also, if you're pregnant, you may want to skip Chapter 17.
The problem with reading a sequel more than a year after its predecessor is that my memory sucks. OK, my memory sucks anyway - a month after reading a book, I may have already forgotten character names. (And reviewing The Map of Bones a month after I read it, my recall is failing.) But I digress.
For the first 100 pages of The Map of Bones, I didn't know where the characters were going and why. And when they formed some kind of army and invaded a town, I didn't understand that, either.
But the best part of the novel is when Cass and Piper find the Maze of Bones, and journey underground. It's dangerous, creepy, and claustrophobic, and what they find in there - and how they struggle to exit - are jaw-dropping scenes of brilliance. These books so far are at their best when they fall on the science part of the spec-fic spectrum. (The epic/high fantasy journeying doesn't work for me.)
Even when confused about the story, one thing is always certain: Zoe is awesome. Unfortunately, the novel's from Cass's point of view, but Zoe is still the best. We learn more about her backstory here. And she goes out on a mission that could change the lives of the Omegas forever......more