Since I’m catching up, I thought I’d do a mass post with 2-4, and a second with 5-8 (or 5-7, and then 8 since it’s the finale). It makes things easierSince I’m catching up, I thought I’d do a mass post with 2-4, and a second with 5-8 (or 5-7, and then 8 since it’s the finale). It makes things easier. So if you see this review posted multiple times in multiple places, that’s why. Anyway, I’m a rather late “Buffy” convert (but a longtime Whedon fan), and I’ve had a LOT of catching up to do. But now that I’m up to season 8 (which has been split between fans as awesome and awful), I think I’m finally prepared to tackle things.
Ever since I read the first book in 2008 for the eighth season, I was wondering “wtf, how is Buffy suddenly gay?”. Not that I have anything against that, but it was just kind of a drastic jump. Volume 3 answers that question, kind of, in true Joss Whedon fashion. Keyword here being ‘kind of’, as Buffy evades the question when asked. Only after Willow’s talk with Satsu do we kind of learn what motivated Buffy to start going into the arms of girls (well, only Satsu so far, but you get the idea), and it’s an angle that I hadn’t really considered. It’s not romance-driven, but survival-driven, and I think that Whedon & Co. deserve some credit for talking about this kind of unpleasant reality that a lot of people take advantage of (think of fuck buddies and the like, and then multiply the stress on you times a thousand at least, and then you’ll get why Buffy’s running to the gals). I love that the “Buffy” franchise has always been LGBTQ-friendly, and hell, was one of the first on primetime television to really talk about it once Willow came out in the late ’90s, and it’s good to see that they’re continuing the trend, even if it’s not all about romance. And Buffy redeems herself again for apologizing to Satsu in terms of what might be called leading her on. I really loved that.
I have to say, the issues with Dracula and Xander together were some of the best Whedon-related interaction material I’ve ever read – I don’t think I’ve laughed that hard in a long time. I mean, I was actually crying I was laughing so hard. Dracula’s continual comments about Xander’s “moor” were hilarious. And I like that there are characters of color being featured in positions of power, and then again, this was always something that Buffy did even when it was on the air. It’s been so long that I’ve started to take that for granted in terms of my television viewing, even if it hasn’t come too very far from what shows like “Buffy”, “Ellen”, and “Star Trek: The Next Generation” started promoting when I was still a kid.
And I’m so glad they brought Fray into the mix with volume 4 – I was wondering if they were going to do that after I read Fray before I read volume one of season eight of Buffy back in 2008. They’re so similar, and I remember wondering “well, what if those two were put in the same room – what would happen?”. Now we have our answer, along with why there are no slayers aside from Fray in that future. I really enjoyed volume 4 the most out of the lot so far, though three wasn’t too far behind. A slow start to the season, but still really great. Loved it!
(Crossposted to librarything, shelfari, and witchoftheatregoing.wordpress.com)...more
I’ve found that when it comes to alternate history and steampunk as a genre as a whole, it’s very difficult to adjust everything just right without onI’ve found that when it comes to alternate history and steampunk as a genre as a whole, it’s very difficult to adjust everything just right without one major flaw or another. That said, I’m extremely picky with my steampunk books, and I’ve found many really disappointing. The only stars of the genre within the last year include Scott Westerfeld’s “Leviathan” series, and now, “The Iron Thorn”.
I’d been waiting for this release for months, and this book was worth the wait. I was so happy to find this mix of magic, religion, alternate history, and steampunk all fall well into place and interacting with each other more or less perfectly. I could find no flaws within this book that made me take notice at all. Which is really rare, considering how incredibly picky I am with my books in general, much less just within the steampunk/alternate history genre alone. Kittridge’s tip of the hat to Lovecraft worked so well in so many places, I can’t even begin to start to talk about which part worked best. It just kind of flowed. I can’t really find words other than that to describe this brew of genres.
I have to say, her portrayal of The Land of Thorn (also known as Faerie) was chilling in its difference to nearly all of the other versions of Faerie in other books. This place is not a beautiful place, unlike other versions of Faerie. This place is not hospitible, despite the Field of Lilies. It was really refreshing to have a very, very, very disturbing “reality (Lovecraft/Graystone)” vis-a-vis “Faerie (The Land of Thorn/Mist)”. It was like there was no real place for Aoife to run for relief, and that’s so very rare in not only the urban fantasy/YA and steampunk/alternate history genres, but in general literature as a whole. It’s rare that authors are willing to torture their characters so thoroughly, and with such a big payoff – which is a shame, really, since doing this in “The Iron Thorn” worked so incredibly well.
I really can’t wait until the next book in this series – though it looks like no sequel/companion has been scheduled for release as of yet. I hope that changes, as this was definitely one of the best books of 2011 so far.
(crossposted to librarything and witchoftheatregoing.wordpress.com)...more
Bacigalupi won my heart with “Shipbreaker”, but I actually had this book on the shelf not too long before that was released. “Shipbreaker” is for theBacigalupi won my heart with “Shipbreaker”, but I actually had this book on the shelf not too long before that was released. “Shipbreaker” is for the YA market, and is about a post-petrol America, but that’s where the similarities end. “The Windup Girl” is an awful, wonderful future that is SO not for kids, about a new kind of slavery that may await our descendants if we keep going the way we’re going. This book just made me love him even more.
For those not comfortable about human trafficking, you probably shouldn’t read this book. Well, semi-human trafficking. You get what I mean. But even if you’re uneasy, the way Bacigalupi writes it is masterful, and only goes for the jugular with anything that might be considered triggery in the abuse catagory a few times when he could have gone wild with it the entire book. For that I thank him, it made things easier to digest.
This book is far in our future – or is it? Once again, we have a post-petrol world, a world where entire parts of countries and continents are covered by rising seas, and the Thai Kingdom is now the center of the world instead of America with its “generippers” (geneticists who literally rip the genes out of something to create chimera of anything – plants, animals, and now humans for sale) and the calorie companies, the new currency of the future. No longer oil, or dollars, or euro, or yen, but calories, and all the measures thereof. I had to pause at one early point in the book and wiki metric calorie count because I honestly couldn’t keep it straight, but once I did, it was smooth sailing from then on. The currency of the future is in joules, the measure unit of energy provided by calories, and fines are determined by how many you use versus how many you waste (for anti-pollution measures), and power everything from lightbulbs to factories.
Bacigalupi does not make this a beautiful, peaceful future. There is constant tension in the Thai Kingdom between everyone – the foreigners (farang), the Yellow Cards (Malay-Chinese), the gangs, the white shirts (bureaucrats, mostly in the inspector divisions), the market sellers, and the regular Thai people. So much tension that I was kind of on the edge of my seat going “Okay, who’s going to slaughter whom first?” the entire time. When it does happen (and I won’t say how or when), it was kind of a relief, with such a huge buildup. But again, it’s a subtle one, slowly pushing at the boundary of the already stress-taxed people in the book, until literally, all hell breaks loose.
I loved the characters. I want more out of this world, I’ll be frank – but I’m pretty sure we won’t be getting any more from the “Windup” universe. The characters were rich, but I want some kind of prequel telling us about how we got to this point of the calorie companies versus the world, and why everyone hates them (that’s kind of obvious, but still) – but considering what we got, I’m extremely pleased. The arc development of how the characters changed was excellent, and honestly, I couldn’t want more out of a futuristic almost-dystopic book. Seriously. It really is that good.
I could keep gushing on and on about how awesome Bacigalupi’s work is here, but for the sake of brevity, I won’t. Just go out and read it. Even if you’re not a sci-fi fan, go read it. It will teach us about how we can prevent such a future today, and about the basic nature of people (the human animal), period. The human animal. It sent chills up my spine for large portions of the second half of the book, and that’s pretty rare for me.
So, this has made my best of 2010 AND 2011 list, and it’s high up there on both. Congrats, Bacigalupi. Now get back to work on the sequel for “Shipbreaker”, and we’ll call it even.
(posted to goodreads, librarything, shelfari, and witchoftheatregoing.wordpress.com) ...more
I was born in the 80s, I grew up in the 90s, when the media market image of girls became the most sexualized it’s ever been. Flashbacks of CNN debatesI was born in the 80s, I grew up in the 90s, when the media market image of girls became the most sexualized it’s ever been. Flashbacks of CNN debates about the oversexing of the “desired” female image in the west came to mind when I started reading this book – not that that’s a a bad thing. This book paints a picture of what our future may be if we keep going the way we’re going.
I have to say – for a debut, I was floored by the sheer balls that Karr has for even bringing up this issue, much less couching it in a future that seems all too plausible as clothing sizes get smaller, more and more skin is bared on primetime television, and kids start having sex at younger and younger ages (not to mention starting puberty at record early ages as well).
I like to think of myself as a sex-positive girl. I believe that as long as everyone has informed consent with their sex, I have no right to intervene or complain. The keywords here are “informed consent” – not just consent, which can be taken advantage of by sex predators in terms of ignorance on the part of the victim, but informed consent – knowing your risks, knowing where you’re safe and where you’re not. This book really hit home with me as I’ve never really felt comfortable about expressing my sexuality (well, that and I have severe intimacy issues, but we won’t get into that now) and the idea of being fair game as soon as you turn sixteen, whether you like it or not, scared the hell out of me.
Which, I think, was one of the points of the book – rethink the current policies and images as projected to us by modern culture in order to keep ourselves safe.
I believe that this book should probably be made mandatory reading by parents to their daughters before they get taken advantage of. Knowledge is power, and we as girls need all the power we can get in order to protect ourselves.
Thank you, Ms. Karr, for writing this book, for urging us not to be complacent and to remind us of the dangers out there that if we leave unchecked, could very well be our future....more
You know, with all of the paranormal-related YA floating around out there as of late, I’ve found that the alchemists have gotten the shaft in terms ofYou know, with all of the paranormal-related YA floating around out there as of late, I’ve found that the alchemists have gotten the shaft in terms of equal representation within the genre. But with the release of “The Iron Witch” series, all of that is about to change – and for the better.
My only huge complaint with this book was that it was far too short (hence the lack of the extra star). I found myself jonesing for more tales of Donna, Xav, and the Order of the Dragon (and the Wood Queen, of course, too). The next book isn’t coming out until next year, and I don’t know if I can wait that long, quite frankly, for more of this fabulous story. It’s going to be rough.
I’d never heard of the “handless maiden” legend/trope before this, so I really appreciated Mahoney’s explanation at the end of the book about the source material that inspired “The Iron Witch”. To be honest, I wish more authors would do that when dealing with (possibly) esoteric legends for source material for their books. It makes it all the more accessable to a modern audience, and Mahoney has done this wonderfully.
Otherwise, I’m so glad someone has remembered the alchemists, and mixing it with the world of the fey was just the right combination for a refreshing bite of a read. If you need a break from the real world, try out “The Iron Witch”. You’ll find just the right amount of romance along with the mystery of a hidden past a cool sip of water in a dusty real world. One of my picks for 2011, for sure.
(crossposted to librarything, shelfari, and witchoftheatregoing.wordpress.com)...more
**spoiler alert** I really enjoyed the first one of this series, so I’ve been pretty excited about this book since I finished the first last year.
So n**spoiler alert** I really enjoyed the first one of this series, so I’ve been pretty excited about this book since I finished the first last year.
So now we know that Inside is waaaaaaay bigger than anyone on the ship had known (at least, within the last generation or two), and that it’s actually speeding around outer space. I have to give it to Snyder – ending the first book on that note just made me jones for more of the story. And I wasn’t disappointed, not in the least – with the threat of Inside collapsing and then the possibility that maybe the Outsiders had been controlling them all along…it was a bit of a mind-screw from where we were in book one.
I liked how Inside was collapsing while trying to break the structure everyone had known since they were born – it gave everything a lovely imploding feeling, only to swell and explode when the factions within the committee, scrubs, and uppers are revealed. The pace was so fast that I realized I’d finished the book (from picking up at around 1/3rd of the way in) before I’d known it. But it wasn’t so fast that I couldn’t follow. This is one thing that’s difficult to get right, and Synder once again takes the gold in this category. Some novels try to keep a fast pace, only to confuse the readers, or don’t try at all, making the story drag. With the revelation that the Insiders and Outsiders were related (at least, by planet if not by actual genetics) made it fly by all the faster, and all the more delicious.
The denial of instant gratification regarding Riley and Trella’s relationship (in terms of clumsy making out) was also a fresh change from so many novels aimed at the YA market. Their relationship evolved slowly, like proper ones (even in real life) should. There wasn’t any “instant boyfriend!” within the third chapter, which was nice. Don’t get me wrong, I like romance in my books – but only when it’s done right.
And on all of these points, Synder has done it right.
I sincerely hope this isn’t the last book with the Insiders and Outsiders. I’m too drawn in now to let go. I have so many questions unanswered. And yet, maybe sometimes, that’s the best way to end a book – open-ended and therefore neverending.
(crossposted to librarything and witchoftheatregoing.wordpress.com)...more
Picking up right where we left off at the end of "The Dead-Tossed Waves", "The Dark and Hollow Places" ups the pace of the story, making us feel justPicking up right where we left off at the end of "The Dead-Tossed Waves", "The Dark and Hollow Places" ups the pace of the story, making us feel just as desperate as the rest of the main characters thus far.
This last third book in the trilogy (though I really, really hope there are others!) unites all of the characters we've met since the first book together in a frenetic union of panic and love, lust and hurt. Annah's love of her sister combined with the hate that springs forth once she learns how Abagail/Gabry grew up is a tasty treat, sweet and sour, to be enjoyed slowly as it simmers to a head near the middle of the book. Just as the first book was Mary's story and the second was Gabry's, make no mistake that this last story in the trilogy belongs to Annah and Ryan never lets us forget that. We're deeply immersed in Annah and her psyche the entire time, and how she fights with herself on whether she loves or hates her sister, Catcher, and Elias.
Between this and the panic spurred on by the actions of Catcher, Elias, and Gabry at the end of the previous book, it feels like you're on a marathon - heart pounding, lactic acid in your legs the entire time. And it burns - teenage love in the middle of a world that's ending.
But it burns so, so good. Ryan has only honed and perfected her craft of agonized teenage affection throughout all three books, which is really well represented in this last story.
And then there's the generational aspect as well; Mary's story was the first story, somewhere around 20 years previous to the second book. By the end of this third book, you get the feeling that things have come full circle, that there is hope, another generation to be born, and even though they may have to fight for their lives, they WILL live.
That, ultimately, I think is Ryan's message: if there's life there's hope, and if there's hope, there's love. And that's what makes us different from the dead, just as Annah says in the book - the fact that we're aware and fight for these emotions makes us alive, makes us fallible, but makes us human. This is the line that separates us from the dead.
I really hope there are more books in the world of "Hands and Teeth" - "Hare Moon", a novella just released online (which I haven't had a chance to read yet), apparently also takes place in the same universe. But I'd like a prequel, maybe something to answer what happened to cause the Return, or a sequel/separate trilogy of what happened after this last book. I won't take no for an answer.
This one's in my top five for 2011 so far, and the year's not even over yet. Simply gorgeous.
(crossposted to librarything, shelfari, and witchoftheatregoing.wordpress.com) ...more
**spoiler alert** This was actually a recommendation from fellow 2011 debut author and all around awesome friend Josephine Angelini — when I met her f**spoiler alert** This was actually a recommendation from fellow 2011 debut author and all around awesome friend Josephine Angelini — when I met her for our interview, she couldn’t stop raving about this book! So naturally, my curiosity was quite peaked. That and Josie has good taste in books anyway, so..yeah. This, ladies and gentlemen, is yet another example of awesome YA romance done right. It’s balanced with humor and its supernatural plot elements so I didn’t feel suffocated by it. Definitely one of my picks for 2011 so far (along with “Starcrossed”).
Plum definitely has a way with words — so much so that I felt as if I really were in Paris. I’ve never been to Paris, either, so that is really saying something. She has created an entirely new supernatural canon of creatures within the age-old construct of good versus evil, dead versus undead. I really loved the way she played with all of these different concepts but on a level so subtle I didn’t really realize all of this put together until near the end of the (way too short!) book.
Vincent seemed like a realistic guy — yeah, he’s pretty, but he’s also smart. He’s protective, but he also lets his girl have her independence. This is very refreshing within the realm of YA romance lit, and I can only count a few more titles that have this quality to their romances. It’s nice to see the girl saving the day instead of being the damsel in distress — better, it’s having her be both the hero and the damsel while saving another damsel (Vincent, in this case). It’s the unison of the male and the female within one body, the neuter gender quality once she’s let Vincent-as-Volant enter her to help fight the Numa. It takes balls to write a fiesty female lead like this one, much less a romance with her in it.
I found no flaws with this book — it had me from the first page. The debut class of 2011 has quite a few authors that have written stories that have kept my attention and deserved my praise. “Die for Me” is one of them, and I hope this isn’t the last we hear from Plum.
Want a non-traditional ghost story, or romance? Pick this book up and see how romance can be done without being shoved down your throat.
(crossposted to librarything, shelfari, and witchoftheatregoing.wordpress.com)...more