Simply breathtaking. This is one of 2009's best books, definitely in my top five out of all the new debuts this year.
Zink puts a spin on the Judeo-ChrSimply breathtaking. This is one of 2009's best books, definitely in my top five out of all the new debuts this year.
Zink puts a spin on the Judeo-Christian apocalypse like one I've never seen before and I just can't get enough of it. I'm chomping at the bit for more of this series, and will be definitely pre-ordering the next one when it comes out.
I wish it had been longer. I crave more of this story now.
Prose is lush and gorgeous and some of the best in new publishing within the last five years.
Guys. I am practically incoherent after finishing this book. Yes, it is THAT GOOD. “The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer” has everything I love about a book inGuys. I am practically incoherent after finishing this book. Yes, it is THAT GOOD. “The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer” has everything I love about a book in it – a balance of all plot elements without the sub-arcs smothering each other while holding up the main plot. Stuff that keeps me guessing, stuff that horrifies and intrigues me, a little bit of romance that doesn’t totally overwhelm everything else, and a heroine that kicks ass and takes names — even if she doesn’t realize she’s doing it. And that ending. Cliffhangers that leave open space for another story, yet leaves enough for the reader to make up one’s own open ending; Hodkin does it all with style and grace and I didn’t want leave Mara Dyer’s frighteningly wonderful world once the book ended.
There is the initial mystery of what happened to Mara in the first place, and Hodkin does a great job of reminding us about this throughout the book, no matter where we are in the sub-arcs, whether we’re in Mara’s new school, experiencing hallucinations or at home, with her in her nightmares/memories/dreams. There’s always the dagger of what happened hanging over her. She can’t forget that, and neither can we. And the way Hodkin does this isn’t overly suffocating – it’s a mention of a look, a quick flashback to what happened at the asylum, someone who looks like her now dead friends and that’s all it takes to remind us how high the stakes are for Mara – literally, her “unbecoming”, as the title suggests, and the unraveling of not just her sanity, but of her very being (moral and otherwise).
And the stakes only get higher as the book goes on. The mysteries start piling up, from her very first day at school (the dog’s owner – was that a hallucination or a real vision of him dead?) forward. There’s never a moment where the tension (be it of the main plot or the sub-arcs that help hold it up) leaves the page. There’s never a moment where the characters are completely still, and therefore, we’re never still. So many books, regardless of genre, try to get this right, and very few actually are able to do it. The answer is provided in Hodkin’s way of writing – you just don’t let the tension leave, ever. Even if it shrinks, it’s still there, and it’s still a reminder of a lingering threat, be it past, present, or future. That’s the key to writing an amazing book, right there. And Hodkin did it.
And then there’s the ending. There’s so much out there, especially in YA as of late, that’s at least two books long. I love me some series, trilogies, and duologies, but to a certain point. Then again, there are many stories that can’t be contained to just one book. I think “Mara Dyer” may be one of them. But Hodkin doesn’t really push this on us – she leaves it to the reader to decide what the ending really means for Mara, her world, and her future. I would love to see another book in this world, but at the same time, I can do just as well without. That too is hard to accomplish, but once more, Hodkin has done it.
So I’m quite happy with how this book turned out. I literally could not put it down. It’s a delicious gem of a book that should be a model for other books out there. Definitely in my top ten for the year. The hype definitely is deserved. Wonderful, awesome, and…I can’t find any more words. Just read it once it comes out, and thank me later.
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Warning. If you have a past history of self-harm of any kind (including cutting/eating disorders), this book will most DEFINITELY be a trigger for youWarning. If you have a past history of self-harm of any kind (including cutting/eating disorders), this book will most DEFINITELY be a trigger for you.
That said, it's one of the best books I've ever read on the topic of self-harm within fiction aside from Francesca Lia Block's works that contain vivid recreations of such moments.
This book is a trigger, yes. But it's also a very healing book, and I can't recommend it more to those who have let go of harming themselves, or to those who are still fighting to get out from under its spell. This book talks about, very eloquently and competently, about what it's like to be in a self-harming girl's head and all of the constant second-by-second choices and the racing thoughts in daily life.
In terms of non-fiction fiction-type books that were published this year, this one easily wins best book of the year in that genre.
Yes, it's a painful read. It's a very painful read. But I found that once I finished it, all of the old wounds that had been opened were quieter than they'd been in years. I felt a little more at peace with my self-harming past than I had before opening the book.
Thank you for writing this book, Ms. Anderson. No doubt you'll help educate and heal a lot of hearts on this subject that's the elephant in the room for Western culture.
I’m SO glad they finally reprinted one of the three volumes and with all of the one-off comics that hadn’t been published anywhere but in random omnibI’m SO glad they finally reprinted one of the three volumes and with all of the one-off comics that hadn’t been published anywhere but in random omnibus collections from Dark Horse so far. ;_; I really am. Especially “The Other Half”, as I have a huge soft spot for Wash in my silly little heart. The art has been gorgeously updated, now in hardback for the first time, and if you’re a Firefly/Serenity/Joss Whedon fan, this updated version of “Better Days” definitely belongs in your collection.
“Better Days” takes place before “Serenity” (the film) but after the “Firefly” series, and is basically a fun romp with the old gang on a job gone wrong. Well, more like, when is a job of theirs NOT going wrong?
I have to say, one of my favorite part of “Better Days” was always anything with Jayne. Especially when he’s cursing in Mandarin, which Dark Horse purposely doesn’t bother to translate because some facial expressions are pretty much universal. And the references to “The Hero of Canton” made me shriek with joy. If you want to go back to the good old days with the entire team on board of Serenity, “Better Days” is definitely the good fun you want to read. Such shenanigans. (Bonus! If you love River and/or Simon, don’t miss the scene after The Job Gone Wrong with them. It’ll make you wish for a happy ending for them even harder.)
“Float Out” is one of the newly available stories previously only in other Dark Horse multi-author/series omnibuses, and is heartbreaking it not only opens the old wound of the ending of “Serenity”, but it also very briefly shows us how Zoe is holding up after those events. In short, “Float Out” is an epitaph to Wash and all he was, both the good and the bad, and the very silly. I kind of wish that they’d continued it longer than they did when it comes to what’s going on with Zoe (I won’t spoil it for you, read it yourself!), but at the same time, I’ve gotten used to Whedon’s open-ended answers, so I’m okay with it. I guess it just makes miss Wash and his addition to the family of Serenity all the more. Oh, and did I mention? Jo Chen (master of the “Buffy Season 8″ early covers) did the alternate cover for this one, and it’s included early in this volume.
And then there’s “The Other Half”, which is River “proving” herself on a job with not being permanently crazy and saving the rest of the crew from our good friends the Reavers. I’m glad River got her own little side story and props for saving them so many times with her Alliance-induced psychic abilities/psychosis. It ended on such a good note, and I just kind of wanted to hug River forever by the last page. This is another story that takes place before “Serenity”, but not by much, I’m guessing. As no one’s really officially released a canon timeline of the Firefly/Serenity ‘verse, it’s kind of hard to tell.
Lastly, there’s “Downtime”, another tale before “Serenity”, with hilarity of the snowbound and venereal disease sort, and once again, Jayne takes the cake with being the most hilarious, closely followed by Zoe and Wash as the must adorable couple, and River, as…well, the most kick-ass. There’s an afterword by Adam Baldwin, the Man They Call Jayne himself, talking about his manly feelings about the series, the film, and its cancellation, and more supplemental cover art by Jo Chen to boot!
So really, this is a treasure trove of (somewhat) new stuff with the Serenity crew. I’m glad I didn’t buy the previous softcover version (I’d bought all of the issues of “Better Days” when they were on the newsstand, and since the previous edition didn’t have any extras, I hadn’t and still don’t see a point in buying that edition) because now I have the chance to own a second hardcover edition of the “Serenity” comics. “Downtime” sets things up for the final volume (so far), “The Shepherd’s Tale”, which is all about Book (and the big secret he’s been holding throughout the series, film, and comics thus far). I really hope they release a hardcover copy of that volume as it’s just as lovely as this one.
Dark Horse, great work as usual with catering to the fans. It just makes us love you (and your products, therefore giving you our money) all the more. Let’s hope that the signal never stops, and that like “Buffy”, this series continues to get love (and occasional goodies, like this volume) for years to come.
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Barking spiders, am I sad to see this alternate world end! I really enjoyed the first two books of the series, and now with “Goliath” and the end of tBarking spiders, am I sad to see this alternate world end! I really enjoyed the first two books of the series, and now with “Goliath” and the end of the trilogy, I found myself pretty bummed when I reached the last page. I didn’t want to let that world go! Anyway, this was yet another fun adventure with the cast of both books so far, along with our newest character – Tesla, the mad scientist who really might have lost his marbles this time. Westerfeld does a fantastic job of wrapping things up and the illustrations were gorgeous (as usual!). And now I really want a Precipitous Loris, too!
I think my only complaint with the book as a whole is how suddenly it ended with Tesla’s exit stage left (though I won’t say how or why). The entire pace just kind of felt rushed toward the end, and though I understand why it became so fast, I found myself a bit disappointed with that – Westerfeld could have drawn that out a bit more, instead of the suddenness of how it all ended. Hence the lack of an extra .5 of a star. But the rest of the book was fabulous (I think the illustrated scene with Dr. Barlow’s Loris and the mustache literally had me laughing for at least five minutes straight!), and it was a pleasure to watch the characters growing under such pressure and circumstances.
I think Alek grew the most – from a helpless prince to a take-charge kind of guy, and Deryn makes second place by becoming kind of softened into someone who doesn’t always need to be in control, and allows Alek in for trust and to keep her secret. It’s rare that you see such delicate and slow character development in a trilogy, but Westerfeld really works it here, and it all works very well. I enjoyed all of their scenes together, especially the final one (which I won’t talk about, either – go read it yourself!). That in itself was a very satisfying conclusion, and I feel like I have no more real questions (aside from the one of “is there a WWII in this universe?”) lingering after I finished the book.
I think I also loved Westerfeld’s author’s note following the epilogue, about how this alternate world was so much luckier than ours had been, and how he wished Alek and Deryn had the ability to see into our timeline to watch everything play out. He’s a very thoughtful guy, and I’ve loved his writing style since the “Uglies” tetrology, and I love how he does his own commentary following the final book of whatever series he does talking about his characters and our own real world and how they compare/contrast. Frankly, he’s just an all around awesome guy.
So if you want some awesome steampunk action that will get your heart really racing, or if you want an electrifying experience, go read the last in the “Leviathan”, trilogy, “Goliath”. It’s definitely one of the best of 2011, and one of the best trilogies of the 2000s so far.
So. Can I have my Loris now?
(posted to goodreads, librarything, shelfari, and witchoftheatregoing.wordpress.com)...more