Guys, this is up on NetGalley for review! Trust me, it's REALLY GOOD and worth your time! Definitely one of my favorite recent Japanese light novels/nGuys, this is up on NetGalley for review! Trust me, it's REALLY GOOD and worth your time! Definitely one of my favorite recent Japanese light novels/novels. Request it here!
[edit - 03 May 2013] Great translation of the first half of the book! Review to come!...more
Wow. If you guys thought the "Chemical Garden" trilogy was good, "Perfect Ruin" will absolutely knock your socks off. DeStefano has improved in her crWow. If you guys thought the "Chemical Garden" trilogy was good, "Perfect Ruin" will absolutely knock your socks off. DeStefano has improved in her craft so much, it was almost as if it were someone else writing - though it did have her familiar prose landmarks here and there. "Perfect Ruin" is the question of the divide between dystopia and utopia, and whether the two really can be the same thing, or if they're just two sides of the same coin. Can humans as they are now (or at least, by the time Internment exists) really create a fair utopia for all? "Perfect Ruin" delves into these questions and more with a murder mystery and a curiosity that may destroy all of these characters. Absolutely gorgeous, even if you haven't read the previous trilogy, this is one 2013 release that simply cannot be missed.
Instead of a terrible dystopia like we saw in the previous trilogy, "Perfect Ruin" is the picture of the perfect civilization as DeStefano sees it - all with the deliciously dark lure of "the edge" - literally, the edge of Internment, where you can see down to the ground. Internment floats above it, and though we don't know where we are in our current history as we know it, it's obvious that Interment is far in our future with the small clues DeStefano drops throughout the book, after a catastrophic natural event that heaves a large chunk of ground into the sky - not unlike the real life Second Extinction event that gave us our moon. I loved all of these compact little hints, telling us how old not only the culture of Internment is, but possibly how old Internment itself is. These geographical details really enriched the world, along with the tiny hints of backstory that we know are coming in future books.
The worldbuilding: if you've read the past trilogy, you know that DeStefano is amazing when it comes to worldbuilding. "Perfect Ruin" is no exception, using the relationship web school of worldbuilding this time to link our main cast together, along with linking our main cast through backstory to the murder mystery at hand - an act that is very rare on Internment. Through some big reveals that happen through this relationship web and general backstory hints and tidbits that come tumbling down onto the reader (much like how Internment starts to unravel around our main cast) in delicious, small bites. The sensory imagery and language was glorious, and I wanted to wallow in it. I had to force myself to read slowly, because I just wanted to know the answer, to know the whodunnit. At the end, I'm still not entirely sure we got our answer, but we do get an absolutely explosive climax and resolution that has me salivating heavily for book two.
The characters: even the most minor of the main cast are richly detailed through the relationship web tactic that DeStefano uses to not only construct the world but really weave the tale closely and tightly with backstory, current story, murder mystery, and the allure of the edge to those who want more from the tiny island of Internment than it can give them. Morgan, Lex, Judas, and the rest of the main cast, through their foibles and follies, give us one of the most sympathetic tales I've read in YA that's fantasy in years, no matter how beautiful Internment is, or how unbelievable it may be. Absolutely stellar.
Final verdict? Even if you may not have clicked with her previous trilogy, you guys simply cannot miss "Perfect Ruin". DeStefano has grown so much, and I love it when I can track an author's growth like that. "Perfect Ruin" is out October 1, 2013 from Simon & Schuster FYR in North America, so definitely check it out when you get a chance. It's on my best of 2013 list for a reason.
(posted to goodreads, shelfari, librarything, and birthofanewwitch.wordpress.com)...more
"Find Me" was a pleasant surprise. I wasn't expecting the incredibly tight writing and quick pace, as well as the plot-driven elements to this book. W"Find Me" was a pleasant surprise. I wasn't expecting the incredibly tight writing and quick pace, as well as the plot-driven elements to this book. While coming in at a short 288 pages (in ARC version, at least), this was a fun read to devour in more or less one sitting. However, I still had a few issues with it, but even so, "Find Me" is a fun cyberpunk-lite mystery that will definitely leave you wanting more.
This book is really short, and great if you want to take your mind off of something stressful, or you just want a good, short thriller book for the YAThis book is really short, and great if you want to take your mind off of something stressful, or you just want a good, short thriller book for the YA set, "The Girl Who Was Supposed to Die" is definitely a great pick. While I did have a few issues with it, it was a great way to relax for an afternoon and devour this story in one sitting. Definitely great for a rainy day or a beach read, "The Girl Who Was Supposed to Die" definitely a good pick for either.
This book is short, as I've mentioned before, and because it is, it's obvious that it's plot-driven (as opposed to being either character-driven or being balanced). My largest problem with this book is because it's so plot-driven, the character development suffers greatly. Not that I don't enjoy plot-driven thriller stories - quite the opposite. But at the same time, the characters to a certain degree could have been developed a little more. Cady felt a little too simple as a main character with such a complex backstory, and Ty, well, at times, he felt like he was just propping Cady up on her quest to not only find out her own identity, but why she ended up in that cabin.
What Henry does best: the world. The world is very dense and thick with paranoia and the need to remember, even for the audience. The clock is ticking down, and the net is tightening around Cady, Ty, and the audience. The air is electric, I will definitely give Henry that, and her worldbuilding, especially with dispensing backstory and interspacing her infodumps (which were small, most of the time - only once or twice did I feel that the infodumps in certain areas needed to be spread out a little more), is really good. It's the best part of the book, to be honest.
The romance: didn't really feel believable. If you could call it a romance? I couldn't tell if Henry was really tying to go all in on it, or insta-love it, or just wanted them to be really pushed close together due to their circumstances. It was pretty cloudy, and just didn't feel very authentic. I recognize that she didn't have much space to work with, but Henry needed to have a firmer hold on what she wanted between Ty and Cady, or at least know what she wanted to do with them.
Otherwise? This one is definitely good for entertainment on a rainy day or a good beach read for the summer. I enjoyed it, and I think I just might go check out some of Henry's other books. "The Girl Who Was Supposed to Die" is out from Macmillan Children's June 11, 2013 in North America, so definitely check it out then!
(posted to goodreads, shelfari, and birthofanewwitch.wordpress.com)
This is a REALLY interesting one, guys, and definitely another feather in Angry Robot's hat when it comes to original content. After finishing "BlackThis is a REALLY interesting one, guys, and definitely another feather in Angry Robot's hat when it comes to original content. After finishing "Black Feathers", this first book in the new "Black Dawn" series, I'm definitely hungry for book two, and I want it now. No, seriously, now. If you're looking for something fresh when it comes to fantasy (in this case, dystopia marrying the apocalypse and urban fantasy), this is definitely a book you simply must try out.
The only major issue I had with this book was pacing. I absolutely loved the idea of the near-future and the far future alternating in telling the Crowman/Black Jack's story, but for most of this book, the pacing is more than a bit uneven between them - and it isn't until D'Lacey starts putting both POVs in one chapter (around halfway through, I think?) that I feel like D'Lacey really starts hitting his stride in terms of the rhythms of the storytelling within this story.
However, the sheer creativity (and some of the scenes that made me raise an eyebrow - two words: mud ejaculation) of this book really wins out over its main weakness. Yes, we've seen oncoming dystopian societies and apocalypses, and we've seen the societies that come after them, but we've never seen them narrated as they're both happening at the same time/in real time. It's a really ambitious way of looking at a narrative, regardless of whose POV it is, and it's difficult to execute. The fact that D'Lacey was able to do it in a coherent way at all has me tipping my hat in his direction, because by the end, he definitely had things well in hand.
I do feel like Gordon's character got a little more thorough character building in compared to Megan's, but we do have another book coming, and that's something for D'Lacey to work on. Generally, the characters of the Black Dawn are more developed than those of the Bright Day - but I think that's partially because the Black Dawn era is pretty much more or less our current time period right now, so there's more to work with. The Bright Day feels like a big teaser of what's to come after the Black Dawn, and I feel like that's how D'Lacey's playing it here in book one as a way for those of the Bright Day/the Black Feathered Path to look back toward the past, to untangle how the Black Dawn happened just like we as the audience are. Really, it's a brilliant way to do things, but this also means you have roughly half the book and its characters more than a bit underdeveloped. I think out of all of the Bright Day characters, Mister Keeper is the most developed, and while we watch Megan really start to hit her own stride as the next Keeper, I don't quite feel it's equal to that of Gordon, who's also doing the same thing in the Black Dawn era. Hopefully, since things more or less evened out at the end of this volume, things will be better balanced in the next.
The worldbuilding is interesting because it's double-worldbuilding. Actually, it might even be triple/quadruple worldbuilding (if we include Gordon and Megan's internal worldbuilding in that count), and it's done really well on both ends. Again, we only get kind of a tantalizing glimpse of the Bright Day era, but we get a pretty clear picture of how Megan is developing as Keeper's apprentice internally. The Black Dawn and Gordon, however, are both very clear (almost startlingly so) and I had no issues really relating to both of those worlds. It's the Bright Day era as a plot device and as a world, that needed the most development, though for now, it's good enough to serve as a stark comparison to how the world is falling apart in the Black Dawn era.
Finally, we have social commentary. Yes, I do feel like D'Lacey did get a bit preachy when it came to the environmental apocalypse thing, but it wasn't so much that it lessened my enjoyment of the book. It was simply there, and as it's a big plot element, I can see why he was able to slip in a little thought or two about why the environment (and getting along with it) is important. Not optimal in terms of preachiness, but not over the top, either.
Final verdict? This is definitely one of the most creative urban fantasy books I've read within the last five years, even with its flaws, and I really can't wait for book two, whenever it does decide to come out. "Black Feathers" is out now in both North America and the UK from Angry Robot, so definitely be sure to check it out when you get the chance!
(posted to goodreads, shelfari, and birthofanewwitch.wordpress.com)...more
Oh, "Truly". How badly I wanted to like you. While you scored some awesome points in the technical arena for worldbuilding, plot, and charac2.5 stars.
Oh, "Truly". How badly I wanted to like you. While you scored some awesome points in the technical arena for worldbuilding, plot, and character building, in other more realistic areas, you totally failed. Moreover, you went and used a trope that not only infuriated me, but you once again cast a shadow over a dark past a certain group has been trying to get over for years within pop culture. While I can recommend "Truly" for its suspense, the rest? Not sure I can.
Okay, so: great, paranoid worldbuilding. Great character building when it came to Sawyer as the MC, but the main cast as a whole needed far more work. The plot was good as was the pacing - Jayne definitely knows how to write suspense, and keep tension on literally every single page. I liked that, and as that's hard to achieve, I'll give her props.
But what I wasn't okay with were two things: the lack of post-abusive relationship PTSD reality, and the fact that this book (slight spoiler alert) plays on the much used Demented Homosexual trope for the climax and resolution (the ending) of this book.
I was very not okay with the latter of those two.
Speaking as someone of the LGBTQ community, I was pretty offended by the ending. I won't say who or how the trope applies, but it applies. A lot of pulp fiction from the 30s onward played a lot on this trope, and it hasn't appeared too much within YA. And I was hoping it wouldn't - until this book. Don't get me wrong - Jayne can write, and write well. But her choices in how she could have ended this book? They're impeding progress in getting gay YA books published where the bad guy isn't gay. This is going backward. And this is not okay.
The post-abusive reality: there's a semi-love triangle, and Jayne has a huge continuity error here (or maybe she just didn't think of it?) concerning Sawyer's recent past with an abusive boyfriend/relationship. Guys, she wouldn't be making out with two other guys after being physically/emotionally abused for so long. She'd be having PTSD episodes. She'd be having panic attacks. She would not be looking for new romance - she'd be looking to heal. And while I'll admit using the stalker/love triangle parts of the story plays quite well into her eventual healing, Jayne's continuity error makes it all the more unrealistic. Which, for thriller and mystery books (regardless of genre), is kind of important if it's within the contemporary aegis.
So, this one's a mixed bag. While on the one hand the writing is great in most technical areas, the reality parts are not only insulting, but damaging to social/civil rights progress within getting gay YA published as a whole. But that's just how I feel - you may feel differently. "Truly, Madly, Deadly" is out now from Sourcebooks Fire in North America, so check it out and see how you feel about these issues. Stop by the blog on July 19, 2013 for a joint discussion on this book as apart of the blog tour, too.
(posted to goodreads, shelfari, and birthofanewwitch.wordpress.com)...more