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 easier...moreSince 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)(less)
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 on...moreI’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)(less)
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 the...moreBacigalupi 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) (less)
I seriously cannot be more sick of the love triangle, girl pulled between two worlds kind of YA storyline, and when I first started this book, I had t...moreI seriously cannot be more sick of the love triangle, girl pulled between two worlds kind of YA storyline, and when I first started this book, I had the awful dread that this would be yet another one of those books. But Davies really used the triangle to her advantage in this one, and gave me an entirely previously un-thought of idea of the war in Heaven (that resulted in Lucifer’s fall), making for a fantastic story.
However, one of the pitfalls early on is that Davies did rely a little too much on the (budding) love triangle itself between Skye, Asher, and Devin – though I understand why she did. It’s hard to construct a story like hers without having at least a small crutch to establish information and a backstory when you’re having to construct an entirely new ideology/mythology from a story/myth that’s been deconstructed and reconstructed so many times in the past. I’ll be blunt when I say that I nearly quit reading around the end of the first third of the book, until things started getting more interesting, and the story finally refocused itself on Skye (where it should be). It was a bit of a slow (but explosive) start, but after that first third, I really could NOT put this book down.
Skye's development as a character through the book through the arcs (and yes, through the love triangle) was significant and definitely something to be noted. Davies used the concept of arc as character transformation very effectively, which is rare in YA lit as of late, and much appreciated. She became a very strong heroine throughout the book, and it's always a real pleasure being able to watch someone grow in a story like that.
I do have to commend Davies, though, on the aforesaid entirely new look on the war in Heaven. It made everything different, and gave me such a new and interesting perspective that really has not at all been introduced into any kind of lit, YA or otherwise, at all (at least, from what I can tell). I don’t think I’ve ever wanted to not let go of such a story before so far (other than “The Night Circus”) as of late. I wanted to shriek at the ending (it’s a cliffhanger), and I really can’t wait for the next book in this series. Skye, once she got her head in the game and out of her pants, was an awesome heroine, and one I can’t wait to meet with again.
This almost made my best of 2011 list, but because of the slow start, just missed it. Still, it deserves a read if just for the entirely new take on the Heaven/Hell myths. Definitely an awesome book, and I can’t wait for the sequel!
(posted to goodreads, shelfari, librarything, and witchoftheatregoing.wordpress.com)(less)
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 debates...moreI 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.(less)
**spoiler alert** I love the fairy-tale setting of this book, not gonna lie. And also the physical redefinition of the idea of the witch – as not nece...more**spoiler alert** I love the fairy-tale setting of this book, not gonna lie. And also the physical redefinition of the idea of the witch – as not necessarily a human individual, but one that is made of the earth itself and not just in tune with it, or able to use it as an element. I really love that idea – that the witch’s skin is that of the moor itself.
Much like the recently updated version of “Little Red Riding Hood”, you get the feeling that the villagers are sacrificing their own freedom for the safety of their children, but completely unaware of the evil they’re letting in in order to do so. Lexi says it herself later in the book: “The Council has always ruled Near through fear.” This story isn’t just about “it’s okay to be different”, but also to acknowledge and even, I daresay, shine the light of truth on those who would rule tyranically through preying on the ignorance of a collective people. And what that costs.
I also love the fact that “the stranger” is a male witch – you don’t get that too often in fairy tale-like stories, not at all. It was refreshing to have a gender change here, and despite Lexi falling for the stranger, it all worked. Both are different, and both are feared and/or ridiculed (and later hunted) for being different, so their coming together wasn’t a surprise. I saw it coming. But nevertheless, it was refreshing to have an old trope turned on its head.
I guess my one main issue of the book was – why was romance needed at all? I talk about this in terms of Lexi falling for the stranger, because it just kind of seemed to come out of nowhere. And yes, while it was slow compared to other “love at first sight” deus-ex-machina devices used as of late, it didn’t seem like they waited long before they started making out. At least they got to know each other first, I guess, but I would have liked more time to pass between them before the romance part happened.
Nevertheless, a wonderful debut. I look forward to reading more from this author!
(crossposted to librarything, shelfari, and witchoftheatregoing.wordpress.com) (less)