It's not news to anyone who's hung around my blog/vlog for any length of time that I love the work of Ben Hatke. (Also not news to anyone who read th It's not news to anyone who's hung around my blog/vlog for any length of time that I love the work of Ben Hatke. (Also not news to anyone who read that intro, so. . .) I've talked about this many, many times, and pushed his books on many, many people, both online and IRL. So of course, I'm always looking forward to whatever's coming up next, confident in the belief that whatever it is is sure to brighten my shelves. And Little Robot is no exception to that rule.
Little Robot follows in the tradition of plucky young female protagonists and their oddball companions, set by Julia's House for Lost Creatures and the Zita the Spacegirl series. Unlike Hatke's previous books, Little Robot is nearly wordless (and of the words that make it to the page, most of them are in robot, so...), though its no less full of story as a result.
If there's anything Hatke excels at, it's injecting as much personality as possible into every frame, every character, every inanimate object -- and yes, I mean that literally. More than once, this man has made me have feels about rocks, literal rocks with eyeballs, and monsters, and what may have been a giant coil of hair or wire or something, I don't even know, but it, too. And yes, robots.
Hatke is an excellent anthropomorphosizererer, skillfully drawing the reader into caring about even the smallest and most unimposing of creatures/creations, with an immediacy that is impressive. You can't help but fall for our little unnamed adventurer and her newfound robot companion, and once you've decided to care about them, well, you may as well care about the pile of broken machinery in the junkyard, too, right? And that perky little fixer robot-bug-thingy, he's quite adorable now, isn't he? Hatke draws you into their magical little world so seemlessly that it seems obvious that you'd love these things. Of course you want to join our lonely little adventurer girl, let her lead you on explorations and discoveries, and bring smiles to each others faces.
Lest you think Hatke's books are just cute, but inconsequential, they most certainly are not. The robots and their nameless human girl may draw you in with their sweetness, but there's depth there, too. There's a loneliness and sense of longing to the story that grounds it and makes it stick with you. I think at the core of all of Hatke's stories, there's a thread of "finding your people," even if those "people" aren't people. They're all about finding your place, your companion(s), your way in the world. Hatke's characters stumble upon each other by chance and it's as if a missing piece has been found; they fit together perfectly. It's charming and sweet and funny and real, and I think you can see why I end up singing his praises so often... And this time around, I was getting double-feels because it reminded me of another nearly-wordless, unlikely robot companion story, Robot Dreams, that is just one of the bestweirdestawesomest things I've ever read. So this is in excellent company.
And of course, of course, the art is gorgeous. So what's not to like?
Adding this one to the DNF shelf for now. I think I will come back around to it, and I certainly wasn't hating it, but it's just not holding my attentAdding this one to the DNF shelf for now. I think I will come back around to it, and I certainly wasn't hating it, but it's just not holding my attention right now, and I need to move on....more
3.75 June's #WednesdayYA bookclub read. Enjoyed the series as a whole, though I did have some issues with this. And some things that happened... (view3.75 June's #WednesdayYA bookclub read. Enjoyed the series as a whole, though I did have some issues with this. And some things that happened... (view spoiler)[Caaaaaaaaaaalllllllllllllll!!!!!!!! (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>...more
Many of you know how much I loved last year's Tin Star, which I never seemed to stop talking about. If you don'tknow, here's a refresher. As soon as IMany of you know how much I loved last year's Tin Star, which I never seemed to stop talking about. If you don't know, here's a refresher. As soon as I found out there was going to be a sequel, my fingers started itching for it, and it planted its self pretty firmly near the top of my must-haves list. So of course, I was very eager indeed to be part of the Stone in the Sky blog tour, and share my thoughts on this highly-anticipated book with you.
[And since this is a sequel, it should go without saying that there may be spoilers for the first book. I say should because it never ceases to amaze me, the things people will cry 'spoiler!' at...]
Now, it should be said, I'm always a little hesitant going into a follow-up to a book I loved. Sophomore Slump and all that, but the truth is, it's not just hard to capture the things that made me love it in the first place; sometimes it's downright impossible. I think such is the case with a series like this, because what made me love it so thoroughly the first time around was the isolation and cold-fish-ness of Tula, which is slowly chipped away by new connections and a new life forged. You can't really recreate that in a sequel, because Tula is beyond that. So the trick for a sequel, then, is not recreating what I loved, but about giving me something new to love. Castellucci does this by sending Tula out into the Great Unknown, forcing her out of the comfortable niche she's carved for herself on the Yertina Feray, and out of the arms of my favorite alien, Tournour. She's alone again, and in peril, so it echoes her experiences of Tin Star, and allows her to prove herself once again, but it's a new venue, a new set of challenges and goals, and I appreciated that.
I like exploring more of the world(s), and that there are still hard times for Tula and the people she meets. In both Tin Star and Stone in the Sky, Castellucci has not shied away from pain and heartache, and just the stark realities of trying to cobble together a life out of barren, hardscrabble worlds. In some ways, this book goes even darker in the actual subject matter, but because of the things Tula has experienced and the people she finds herself now surrounded by (no longer alone!), there is a strong savor of hope. There's a tenacity about Tula that I absolutely love, and I also love that people she meets admire and respond to it. It's a quality that would be very helpful, if not downright necessary, in such a setting, I would think, and Tula puts it to good use. Even when she's selling herself short or downplaying her own role in things, she makes things happen, she fights for what she wants to happen, and I am a big fan of that. From the very beginning of the first chapter of Tin Star, when Tula is literally fighting for her life, straight through to the end of Stone in the Sky, she never gives up reaching and growing and making things happen -- even when the odds are practically non-existent.
And at the core of the story, Tula is still Tula. I said in my review of Tin Star that part of the reason I love the book and Tula is because "I gravitate towards prickly people and hopeless situations," and Tula gives me that, both in her being somewhat prickly and often in seemingly hopeless situations, but also because I feel like she gravitates toward prickly people and hopeless situations. She doesn't shy away from daunting challenges, and she draws people to her against all odds, and by the time Stone in the Sky comes to a close, Tula has really come into her own. She's grown, but she's still her, in all of her prickly, cold-fishy tenacity that I adored the first time around. The same disclaimers from the first book still apply, in that I don't think this is the book/series for everyone. It is slow, in a slow-burning way that I personally enjoy (so I don't really feel it's slow, but that was the complaint I saw most), and I'm sure some people still just won't connect to Tula or her world. I also felt that there were times, especially as it neared the end, that it felt a little rushed or chaotic, and I actually wished it would have slowed down and lingered over some things. But no book is the book for everybody, and for me, I'll always gladly take more Tula Bane (and Tournour!), and this series that isn't really like anything else out there right now. And I have a feeling that these characters will stick with me for some time to come, and when you fly through things and then promptly forget them, the way I do, saying something's memorable is high praise indeed....more