I stumbled across this book because apparently this book was inspired by Beast by Ju...moreI really didn't like this book.
I really wanted to. But I couldn't.
I stumbled across this book because apparently this book was inspired by Beast by Judith Ivory, which I thought was insanely well-written and has all the elements of a Shakespearian farcical romance, without the author falling too much for her own characters. There's really nothing worse than an author who's more in love with her characters than the readers ought to be. Judith Ivory makes fun of her own characters, who are caricatures of themselves. But this review isn't about Beast.
First, kudos to Sherry Thomas for coming out with a buttload of books in the year 2012, but if they are all of the caliber of this book, I doubt I would read her books again. First, they are quite debby-downer-ish. This book is not of the light-hearted historical romance category. But this in itself is not why I didn't like it.
We are introduced to the Duke, who's had a thing for Venetia since both of them were young (around 19), but unfortunately, Venetia was already married at the time. Due to some drunken words passed by Venetia's husband to the Duke, the Duke is under the impression that Venetia is high-maintenance, money-grubbing, and possibly whorish. All that doesn't stop him from lusting after her, however. And it doesn't help that the husband dies the next week and Venetia is married soon after to a man much, much older than she.
Fast-forward a decade or so, they're both grown and somehow they separately have a love for fossils, apparently. (This was incredibly unconvincing to me, as a reader. I know I am a really picky reader and woe to the writers who encounter a reader like me, but seriously, I wasn't convinced that Venetia is an adorer of all things fossilized. It felt like it was just something mildly historical thrown in for them to have something in common.) Venetia doesn't know who the Duke is, and when three of them -- her sister and her sister-in-law -- attend a talk he gives in New York, they are there when he refers incognito to a beautiful, cold-hearted jade who married an elderly man soon after her husband kills him, she knows that he is talking about her. HOW? I am not convinced by this either. But her sister jokingly tells her to make him fall for her and then jilt him. Venetia goes to her hotel and runs into the Duke, but she has a veil on, so he doesn't see her, and she gives her name to the register as a foreign Baroness. He apparently is intrigued by her faceless person. She then finds out that he's due to sail out and books passage on the same ship so that she can encounter him.
Fast-forward some other inconsequential details, and they're going at each other on the ship...but the moments are unconvincing and their conversation lacks serious depth. They are trying to "get to know each other," but their conversations lack chemistry and truth -- sort of like an author trying to force two people to get together when they otherwise wouldn't get together on their own. For example, I can't remember anything they talked about. They must've had a "moment" or two, but I can't remember it. I think her brother and sister are twins and she revealed this, but the Duke didn't make any connection to his former beloved, which is sort of odd, since twins are not that common as to render this commonplace. I'm not saying he should have known it was her...but he didn't even think about the similarities between them, with this being one of them. She also revealed that she found a fossil when she was young, which was donated to a museum, and the Duke didn't know this either about his beloved. So the "Baroness" revealed that her fossil was donated to a European museum or whatever, but the Duke didn't even know that Venetia had done this as well to a museum in London! That's weird, right? I mean, he goes REGULARLY to the museum, and since it happened like a decade ago, he should have known about this. I mean, the man was obsessed with this woman for soooooo long, like a decade, and he didn't know that she was fanatical about fossils and even donated one to the local museum...which is ALSO his CHOSEN profession? That seems way weird to me, especially when the man's no stranger to London, and the fossil's been on display for a good decade or more...but he never knew and she has to cover up the display so that he doesn't see it? When he should have known the displays in that museum cold??
So then they disembark and she refuses to see him again (why??? Seriously, it would have been the perfect time to tell him the truth -- hey dude, you know that gossip you heard from my crappy ex-husband, you're wrong and you're a loser for believing it). Somehow he pieces it together at some point. I can't even remember how he pieced it together, that's how inconsequential it felt to me. But anyway, at this point he hates her guts (why??? he was the one who talked about her publicly!) and somehow she, who was unable to get pregnant, got pregnant (of course) and goes to tell him so (why??? again, this doesn't make sense, because she had vowed not to reveal her "Baroness" identity to him, because he would hate her...but now that she got pregnant, she was just going to go to him and say, hey, I know you don't know we slept together, but I'm pregnant with your kid...WHAT?!) and then they somehow get engaged to be married??? Even when the Duke doesn't entirely believe that she's pregnant...but somehow this is glossed over. The whole having to get married thing is just ODD, because she's in love with him and he hates her, yet she's the one practically hinting at a marriage? Even if she didn't bring it up, she sure jumped on it fast enough and in the next chapter, they're getting hitched.
And then the weirdest thing is with the two gossips who spread the whole tale of the Duke blasting Venetia's reputation to hell in New York -- those two show up and say something about how they gossip for a good cause????? And the Duke, by this time married to Venetia and bound to protect her whether or not he humors these two gossips or not, sits there and take it and TELLS the gossips that, no, he said that because he was jealous and he's loved his wife forever. Then Venetia bounds in and says, no, she was trying to get revenge on him and that's how their marriage all came about, because he's an honorable man.
WHAT the hell. So after they give the gossips MORE ammunition against them, they then skip off together to confess their love for one another, now suddenly in the open after the gossip-mongers did their gossipy therapy.
I'm sorry, I can't even take this author seriously. And I haven't even gone into how a third of the book was laying down the foundation for the story behind the sister and the sister-in-law's romances -- so that you'll be enticed into reading their stories next. Sorry, I won't be doing that. The way to get readers to keep reading to the next book is by doing a good job on THIS book so that when the reader finishes, she goes, "Wow, that was so amazing," and then rereads it again and again and then can't stop herself from finding more of the author's work. NOT by wasting time with unfinished side romances. TERRIBLE! I hate this gimmick so much.
Anyway, there were just too many "HUH?!?!" moments in the book to be believed.
As for the writing, I think it's competent, but lacks passion. And I feel like the characters themselves are not consistent. (less)
Seldom do I rate books of this genre so highly, but this book is truly a masterpiece.
This book does something really exceptional with two very unlikab...moreSeldom do I rate books of this genre so highly, but this book is truly a masterpiece.
This book does something really exceptional with two very unlikable characters and gives them a really dramatic great love. I ended up staying up to finish the book (never happens anymore) and then I reread it immediately after reading it and then again. So, three times in a row.
There were some reviewers that complained about the writing style and I think that's a valid complaint -- initially when I picked up this book, I stopped reading midway through the first chapter, because the stop and go, conversational quality of the writing, with lots of parentheses, was very informal and jarring. But then as I progressed further, I started to be swept up by the flow of the writing so that I stood squarely in the characters' shoes.
People also didn't like the main characters. Oh, they are horrible people. Louise is a gorgeous young lady who's secretly quite wild. She's young and very smart...to the point where she does look down on other people. She loves her family, but she complains about them. She can also turn into an ice queen at any time, which, combined with her looks and wardrobe and wealth and general good fortune, makes her quite a bitch. Charles, on the other hand, is as vain as you can get. Born with an eye infection that had to be lanced, he bears a scar on one side of his face, along with a very obvious blind eye and a bad knee that cramps up at times and causes him to limp, he's not exactly Prince Charming. In fact, at the beginning of the book, we see him betrothed to a woman he's never met and climbing out of the bed of a married woman -- one who he's tried to get to marry him multiple times. And THEN he has the gall to be piqued when he sees and hears his betrothed flirting heavily with another man. Seriously, these people are vain, superficial people who need to be taken down a peg.
And they do -- out of one another. Charles determines to teach Louise a lesson and lures her out with the threat that he knows what she's been up to (and she's on board with her parents too), and so they begin meeting each other in the dark. It's humorous, because Charles is so intent on his mission and such a bored rich man that he prowls the ship looking for dark places to meet -- since he doesn't want her to see his crippled, scarred self. He even goes into the pet cargo area and removes all the light bulbs. Seriously, this man. It's funny, because of the lengths his vanity drives him to do this -- he even snags a kaffiyeh off some Arabian guard on the ship in order to spy on Louise. Except Louise then thinks he's an Arabian.
Unlike other historical romances, the hanky-panky makes perfect sense here because Louise is such a wild child and just bursting at the seams. The girl is rebellious and daring even before she meets Charles, and really, he was just a catalyst. So she goes to his room, and they get up to some hanky-panky in the dark. Of course, Louise was a virgin and really falls for Charles in a big way. It's realistic because despite her bravado, she's a young girl at heart, and he's twice her age and rather experienced with the ladies. In the dark, he knows just what to say and how to listen to her and he makes her fall hard.
This book would have been quite terrible IF Charles had been made out to be a badder ass than he was. The reason this story works so well is because Charles falls so hard right back for Louise, and he begins to angst over being recognized by her once they land. Of course he's thrilled out of his mind that he's marrying a girl he adores, and he's bound and determined to keep the ship incident an isolated incident because he can't think of a logical way to explain why he did such a dastardly thing as pretend to be someone else when he knew who she was to him.
Unfortunately, he does too good a job that she doesn't recognize him at all -- he speaks a different language and wears a different cologne and he's so smitten that he lets Louise walk all over him. Oh, and of course he tries to kiss Louise because to him, it's the same girl he fell in love with. For Louise, it's disgusting that this man to whom she's newly betrothed keeps on trying to kiss her while she's still hung-up on her ship-man. It's heart-breaking for Charles when nothing he does can sweep Louise off her feet...and she's also giving him the cold bitch treatment as well, because compared to the confident man from the ship, this man is self-effacing, self-conscious, and a people-pleaser...gross!
Nothing that much happens, really, but there's such chemistry between the two that it sizzles off the page. Both of them are exactly alike and yet so perfect for one another -- vain, worried about their vanities, insecure, impetuous... Charles IS a very self-conscious and vain creature, but so lovable...because he loves so much. In setting out to teach a lesson, he learns a big one of his own. Layered in the background, Judith Ivory has given us the story of amber-gris, the scent from sperm whale poo, as a metaphor for the Beast -- a disgusting piece of feces that when exposed to the air, becomes fragrant and desirable.
The writing is absolutely seamless -- not at any time did I feel the conversations between the two are forced, or the setting ill-drawn. Everything is richly and confidently described, down to the conversations in French the two hold once they disembark. Judith Ivory has a such a confidence with the language that phrases are given in English and then parenthetically in French. Charles is given such a rich, textured character that his very Frenchness is drawn out by his small actions, like blowing out his lips when disagreeing good-naturedly. He is self-conscious, insecure, vain, manipulative, and yet so humorous and lovable with it that one is drawn in to his insecure, one-sided love for Louise.
This is historical romance at its very finest. (less)
I had sworn off reading historical romances but then saw that this protagonist is based off House, MD. So, I was drawn in. And it's quite a light-hear...moreI had sworn off reading historical romances but then saw that this protagonist is based off House, MD. So, I was drawn in. And it's quite a light-hearted (for the most part) novel. The beginning is hilarious -- the dad and the aunt are just delightful creatures (not lovable, but just hilarious) -- they're arguing about her nonexistent pregnancy due to the fact she wore a billowing dress and food poisoning that one time.
I hate the blurb for this book. It insinuates that there's nothing to her other than Linnet's "beauty" or whatever, and that she was always engaged to Piers. What actually happens is that Piers is the son of a Duke who divorced his wife in a fit of opium-induced rage and later regretted. The Duke and his son are estranged, due to Piers' inability to forgive his father, and the Duke's guilty regret over rendering his son sterile due to a childhood accident caused by his opium rages. So the Duke would of course be happy to betroth his son to someone who might be impregnated. That's how Linnet comes to be engaged to Piers.
Piers walks with a terrible limp and his leg pains him every single day if he misses one day of exercise, which is how he comes to be super built by the standards of the day. He also operates his castle like a hospital and sees patients on a regular basis, along with his very gallant cousin, who's a surgeon but no good at diagnostics.
There's not much stuff that goes on while Linnet is at the castle except Piers' mother also shows up, now a widow for whom the Duke pines. Linnet and Piers have flirty moments together and Piers eventually starts coming to Linnet's room every morning to take her swimming in his clifftop spa. Eventually they get caught in a rainstorm one day and get up to some hanky-panky in some bailiff's cottage or something. They find that they're quite sexually compatible (you know, as opposed to a tortoise and a horse) and keep on secretly meeting, but Piers adamantly does not want to marry Linnet. His reason: Because his leg pain is so severe that he's afraid he'll act out towards his wife like his dad did under the influence of opium.
Suddenly some sort of scarlet fever influenza deal breaks out among the patients there and while Piers is organizing the people to leave the castle, he orders her to leave. Linnet doesn't want to, but Piers tells her to get out, not knowing that she's been infected by someone on her last day at the castle.
The book is quite decent for a historical romance, and I appreciate the medical research the author has gone through in order to have sufficient details regarding Piers' profession during the relevant time period. It was quite humorous in the beginning, but I wasn't all that convinced about Piers and Linnet's supposed love for one another. It felt more like attraction. Piers obviously goes for Linnet in a big way, because let's face it, who else does he see up there in his secluded castle, with him telling everyone that he's impotent? It was a competent enough book, but not terribly convincing on their great love. But a good enough read for all that. (less)
So I have been perpetually disappointed by what people call historical romances and tried to look up some with exceptionally high ratings to see if my...moreSo I have been perpetually disappointed by what people call historical romances and tried to look up some with exceptionally high ratings to see if my mind can be changed.
I may not be the best judge of character for such books, because I require really tight historical background, and I know that most do not have these. And I realize that a book set in the Regency wherein the cover has two people lolling around in bed will undoubtedly not be totally accurate. That's fine. I also found recently that it's not that I mind the sexual romps that go on in these books, but I mind it exceedingly when it is wholly unnecessary and inconsistent with say, the heroine's character.
And thus it was in this book. Minerva is a bespectacled, nerdy bluestocking with an older sister who is beautiful (of course). In the same town resides Colin, who's a flippant young noble with no funds of his own (his inheritance is tied up until he marries) with demons of his own. What my problem with in this book is not Colin, even though he may not appeal to me in particular. But while he is a manwhore of the highest caliber for reasons of his own (before the invention of Ambien, he has to sleep next to someone in order to fall asleep), he is a harmless, good-hearted man. That is, he's not totally without conscience. The things that he says that are mean, well, he doesn't say them intentionally. He may seem like a person without depth but that could be due to the fact he doesn't particularly wish to attain the title of Most Intellectual. That is to say, he's never reached his potential, probably. But he's exceedingly handsome.
My problem is with Minerva. In the beginning of the book, she arrives at Colin's front door in the rain to ask him to leave her older sister alone, because her sister is kind-hearted and gentle and Colin would undoubtedly make her unhappy. True or not, it contradicts the fact that Colin is rich (or would be if he inherits upon his marriage) and consider a good catch by all accounts at the time. I mean, seriously, few people married for love, especially someone as impoverished as Minerva's family. And who's to say her sister wouldn't get a thrill out of marrying rich for the sake of her family?
Minerva has this plan in which they would plan an elopement to Edinburgh to attend a fossil conference (or some sort...I read this book awhile ago), and she's sure to win, and that money could go to Colin, and he could leave the town and return to London where he can frolic to his heart's desire.
Except the one who makes the most sense is not Minerva, the scientist, but Colin, who asks, why would you elope and ruin your good name when your sisters are unmarried? Sure, you don't care about yourself, but what about your unmarried sisters? Plus, wouldn't her older sister be further shamed if the man everyone thinks was on the verge of proposing runs off with her younger, plainer sister? Well, Minerva hasn't thought this out, apparently, brainy though she is, good-hearted though she's supposed to be. So basically, we get a protagonist whose words we already don't trust. Here's also her saying how she despises Colin and yet she's salivating ALL over him, all the time, and even smooches him in the cave where she found her fossils! I mean, here's a first-rate man-stealer! And please, can we have no more of these women who claim they're not interested in the guy and yet their every other thought is comprised of how hot he is?? PLEASE, authors? I mean, just, PLEASE, give us a break. These women are liars, to themselves and worse, to the READERS.
So somehow they embark on their trip up north, and the book is back on track. Their adventure is quite interesting, as they encounter various problems, such as highwaymen, floods, etc. That part is quite interesting as they battle the odds to Edinburgh. But then as they are running out of money and food and clothing, you find out that they are THIS close to his estate, but he had refused to go because of his bad memories. REALLY? You are starving along the way and you won't go home because of bad memories? And of course they END up going there anyway, so all his little angsting was for naught. So they go there, and the deadline's up because they can't make it to Edinburgh...but lo and behold, he then conjures up some horses so then he's able to take her to Edinburgh for the conference! And they get there, but they won't let her in because she's a woman, but they would let him in if he applies, and then she could get in if they get married on the doorstep. So the doorman dude keeps on asking, so are you guys going to get married or not? And THEN, for some weird reason, even though this conference was the HOPE of a lifetime (Minerva's lifetime) AND she's soooo in love with Colin by this time, she declines.
And the strange thing is...Colin WANTS to marry her too! So when they give up this chance of a lifetime, and she retires to his estate with him, the two of them discuss how they want to wait because he wants to court her properly. So that happens is that they both wait and wait -- for them to go to London so she can have a proper Season and for Colin to court her properly in front of everyone. Anyway, about two weeks into this "plan," both of them suddenly throw in the towel and say, okay, we can't wait, let's get married!!
So...that's why I'm not a fan. Also because I really didn't like how Minerva kept saying she would never go for someone like Colin and every chance she got, was throwing him cow eyes and dreaming of how hot he was. Twilight much? (less)
Not my usual type of read, so I'm a bit unsure how to rate this. I wonder if all books in this genre are so corny, because the plot to this was except...moreNot my usual type of read, so I'm a bit unsure how to rate this. I wonder if all books in this genre are so corny, because the plot to this was exceptionally corny.
Krisa has been bred off a planet noted for churning out Stepford wives who will never cheat. On board a luxury ship bound for her husband by contract's planet, she meets an alien convict who's bound and blindfolded in the cargo space. (Really? A convict who's held in the cargo container, and not even in a cage? And why wasn't he put in cryosleep?) Krisa is then almost raped by a captain who regularly makes this trip...which means that convicts are REGULARLY bound in the cargo space of a luxury ship? Anyway, somehow the alien convict, Teague manages to save her by snapping the neck of the captain. She doesn't feel bad about this (which is not terribly surprising, since he was about to rape her.
Well, as it turns out, her cryosleep container malfunctioned and only closed halfway over her, which was why she was up and around. Somehow the ship crash-lands on this scary foreign planet, and Teague gets out (naturally, since he would otherwise be taken to some presumably better prison than the cargo space of a luxury ship. He tells Krisa that she'd better come with him, as the other people in their cryosleep containers are safe from the wild animals on this planet, but she isn't...what, on a luxury ship, there are NO other cryosleep containers?? I can't believe that for a second. The luxury ship is described akin to an ocean liner like the Titanic, and there aren't ANY OTHER cryosleep containers??
So Krisa has to follow Teague to the planet, where it's inhabited by humanoid aliens who are green, and she's highly prized because she has dark hair (whereas they all have light hair...riiiiight, the first thing that other humanoids care is the color of an alien's hair). The alien race has erotic and pornographic rituals in front of a fire. There are other things going on, and yadda yadda yadda, Teague is betrayed by someone he trusted and Krisa is taken back to her husband by contract, who activates the chip imbedded by the Stepford Neighborhood Association and she forgets about Teague but still has dreams about him.
Oh right, I forgot to mention that Krisa has erotic dreams about a "dream man," and because she's always sleeping with Teague, she always rubs him all over and then she wakes up and says, "Noooooo I can't, because of my V-contract." I'm quite surprised that he, as a CONVICT, doesn't just rape her and get it out of the way. I mean, that's basically what happens pages later anyway. Or she decided to get over the V-contract thing. I can't really remember.
An initially amusing read but not much in the way of actual science.(less)
For most of this book, I wavered between three and four stars. The beginning was beautiful, haunting (not the prologue, which I thought was a little t...moreFor most of this book, I wavered between three and four stars. The beginning was beautiful, haunting (not the prologue, which I thought was a little too thick and not entirely necessary -- probably necessary for a series, but unnecessary for this book). The pacing was incredibly fast and exciting. In the first chapter, we are introduced to their village, the drakon enclave and by the end of it, Clarissa Rue has died and disappeared. By the second chapter, it's already years later and she's in London, posing as random aristocrats and making off with diamonds of the highest caliber. By the fourth or fifth chapter, she's already been caught by Kit and led back to the enclave in a blindfold -- fast, right? I know, it's awesome.
And then suddenly it begins to slow down, until by the middle of the book, it feels like the rest is redundant, and like the prologue, unnecessary. Why? Well, the reason is probably due to the fact that Clarissa has been in love with Kit forever -- not surprising, considering that he was the rich aristocrat, the alpha's son who will inherit the leadership, and talented in flying besides. I mean, that's gotta be super cool. Added to that, he's extremely hot, with blond hair and green eyes. There are not a lot of romance novel guys that I find super hot (even though, say, for the sake of the book, I would find the hero with endearing qualities, but not appealing on a personal level), and I'm not even partial to blondes, but there was something about the descriptions of how he moves, how he talks, how he looks at a woman that make him really unbelievably attractive. So, with this triple or quadruple hammer, it's no wonder that Clarissa adores him, being the little insignificant and poor half-breed that she was.
The Plot So, it's decreed that as the Alpha, only an Alpha female would be able to mate with Kit. Kit is undoubtedly the Alpha, being able to Turn (into smoke and then drakon) at the precocious age of 10. There has been no other female who's been able to Turn for hundreds of years, but there's a seriously catty female in the village (who picks on Clarissa and does the nasty with Kit) who's been the undisputed Alpha. So, when Clarissa finds that she can Turn at 17, she runs away (a HUGE felony according to their bylaws) instead of being compelled to marry Kit, who would only marry her out of obligation but not love her. There's nothing worse than being married to a man you love but who doesn't love you back. All understandable.
Clarissa then goes to London and becomes Rue the jewelry thief (but for the sake of the review, will remain Clarissa) because of her awesome Turning ability. When the news of this "thief that can turn into smoke" reaches the enclave, they all know, of course, that it's one of them, and horror of horrors, is beyond their immediate jurisdiction, thus putting all of them at risk. So, they decide to put up the Langford diamond (diamonds apparently have magical abilities for the drakon) as bait in order to capture this smoke thief.
But drakon can sense one another, and so they sensed that she was there, and Kit corners her, now startlingly beautiful, and instead of brazening things out (or NOT even going in the first place), she turns to smoke RIGHT in front of him, leaving him holding her dress. She then hides out but Kit has an amazing nose and sniffs out where she lives. He comes over and hides in her room, and after a bit of fencing, he disappears into the sky (smoke -> drakon) and she curses under her breath and plunges into the sky after him.
WHAT JUST HAPPENED? But why??? Why would she do this? Because at this point, you think the diamond thievery was a joint affair by her and someone else. But later, you find out that she didn't take it and she never planned it!!
So, in retrospect, you wonder why she would chase after Kit like that only to be caught...if she didn't take it in the first place! I seriously thought she had...but she didn't? I thought maybe the other guy was an accomplice, but it turns out he wasn't!
Then she gets tricked by Kit and is caught by the enclave, the only thing she can do to bargain her freedom (Kit's bound and determined to make her come back as his bride, and she's equally determined to NOT do this...so, why did she reveal herself able to Turn in the first place??) is to rat out the actual diamond thief.
Thusly, the two of them set out for London for 2 weeks to catch the thief. The Alpha apparently has the ability to sway the Council...except Kit doesn't seem like he has this power most of the time, except in little shows of violence. A bunch of times when he could have evinced true power (such as setting various people free, like Clarissa, or even himself), he doesn't and just pounds on the table or throws darts that cut off other councilmembers' hair. And yet, it was undisputed that he could?? So, that's also quite confusing and unnecessary. And then at the end, he somehow lets the other Runner free -- and why did this Runner steal the diamond in the first place? He stole it because Clarissa's waif-boy asked him to. Really? REALLY? The man cuts off his HAND to run away from the enclave and steals the DRAKONS' CHIEF DIAMOND because a waif asks him to??????? HOW does that even make sense??
And in the end, you know what's going to happen is that he's going to "set her free," that is, free from the enclave, free to live where she wants, instead of being a slave in their hometown...which apparently is the fate of all drakon, and the Runners are dealt with with macabre violence (wings clipped, torture, killed, etc.) But this was a given that nobody could escape the penalty for Running (away), not even the Alpha...but the Alpha can set someone else free? It's quite confusing. But you know that it's a romance novel, so of course, the biggest show of "love" is to set them free, so you know that he's going to do this, because Clarissa really chafes at the bit and she HATES the fact that she would be forced to be with Kit. And yet this doesn't happen, and it doesn't happen, and it still doesn't happen, and when it finally does, it was kind of an anticlimax, like, okay...that's not so exciting anymore. And I'm not one to like angst (some angst is necessary to have a satisfactory feeling, but it's the unnecessary angst that's just...well, ridiculous), but she immediately goes, forget that, I wanna be with you, Kit my man! But this conflict within her was the basis of some 200 pages of their conflict, and suddenly, with a wave of the hand, she says, oh that's not an issue anymore??
So that part was unfortunate.
I really enjoyed the beginning, but I think the plot started to go downhill when it's revealed she didn't steal the Langford diamond and basically gives up the other Runner (to death, essentially) in exchange for her freedom.
The Biggest Inconsistency (for me) Basically, in the end, you find out that she runs from the enclave because as the Alpha female who can Turn, she would have been forced to marry an unloving Kit -- so then if she knew it was going to be a trap and wanted to keep hidden, why turn up, and why Turn to smoke in FRONT of the Alpha -- a sure sign you'll be captured to MARRY him in direct opposition of what you wanted in the first place???
So this book could have gone a lot better, but because it was fairly well written, I'm going to go ahead and give this 3 stars instead of 2. Since you don't really start to think about all its holes until it's over but I did enjoy this book because overall, it was a decent read despite all the holes.(less)
This is an exceptionally well-written YA novel, and I believe that this work will hold up through the years.
In essence, Kate and Emily are orphaned wh...moreThis is an exceptionally well-written YA novel, and I believe that this work will hold up through the years.
In essence, Kate and Emily are orphaned when their father dies, and are sent to live with two (now spinster) great-aunts under the guardianship of their uncle, who doesn't like them: Kate's paternal grandfather owned Hollow Hill and after his wife dies, picks up an orphan playmate for his daughter. One day his daughter is also lost to the Hollow Hill woods, and broken-hearted, he takes the playmate away and adopts her as his daughter. This orphan is Kate and Emily's mother, making them no blood relation to the uncle, so he's understandably bitter about them being the ultimate heirs to the estate.
Kate makes for a great, seldom seen in YA, heroine. She's small, beautiful, and golden-haired. But other than that, although well-educated by her father, she takes herself sort of seriously and doesn't laugh very often. She's not the typical heroine in which she's always reading books -- instead her favorite pastime is lying in the woods among the trees and staring up at the stars. Her younger sister, in stark contrast, is vivacious, outspoken, and adventurous. The two definitely have a strong rapport -- yet they are very different, and many things that Kate wishes to talk about, she can't with her younger sister.
One day, they are walking out from the forest when they lose their way -- which is strange, because Kate has never gotten lost there before. They come across a campfire with a small gnarled gypsy woman and two men on horseback. Kate gets the eerie feeling that if she were to allow herself to be led home on horseback, she would be taken away and never return home. So she doesn't. But when at the door of her house, the man allows her to see him without his hood, and Kate is horrified, because he is no man -- with gray pointy teeth, mismatching eyes, and coarse, horse-like hair.
Kate is of a suspicious and careful turn of mind, but no one believes her. Thereafter, Marak the goblin tries multiple times to capture her, and Kate is in a frenzy to escape. She attempts to run away, but she is caught by the uncle. She brazens things out, but he sets out to make her out to be crazy and incompetent. Then her sister disappears. It has to be the goblin -- right? So she goes to Marak to offer herself as an exchange.
I've almost given away the entire book, but there are some good bits regarding the uncle getting his comeuppance, her wedding to Marak (which is a crazy, barbaric ritual), and her miserable first days underground. But then when the goblin kingdom is in danger and under attack by a man possessed, we see Kate step forward to set things right.
It's not a happy or light story, but a fantastic version of the Persephone story. There's nothing to indicate that it's based off the Persephone story, but a bride stolen from aboveground to a hated underground world where she's held captive is pretty much the Persephone story. There's nothing salacious about her life with Marak, and yes, there probably should be a tad more detail, and yet the give and take between them for the first half of the book is oddly engrossing and realistic -- for once, we don't have a hero from the underground who looks like a dark-haired Brad Pitt. Marak is described in detail and he's grotesque, but he's also humorous and charming in his own way, which I find more appealing and frankly, it's more challenging for an author to render a ugly man attractive. And there's nothing exceptionally emo about Marak and how he kidnaps her to bring her underground. He doesn't go back and forth about whether he should capture her or not -- for him, it's a way of life and ensures the survival of an entire people. There's nothing coy about how Kate tries to escape from Marak -- there's no other "hot guy" who shows up to save her or stand in as the other angle. She doesn't escape because of some emotional romance novel reason, like "she wants him to love her to set her free" or some other such nonsense -- she's actually running for her life, getting away from a supernatural kidnapper. There's nothing romantic or human about their wedding day -- in fact, it must have been horrifying for Kate as the newcomer to the underground. But somehow, it all works. It works fantastically. It all works realistically, and Kate finds happiness in her life below ground. Would it have been better if she could have it both ways, to live above ground and below ground? Perhaps. But that wasn't the story, and what the story was (what some people call the Stockholm Syndrome), worked out in its own way. It's a fairy tale, after all, and a somewhat dark one, but beautiful for all that. (less)
The really great thing about this book is that it was written so long ago (1990) and it reads so quickly that the writing doesn't seem to have aged at...moreThe really great thing about this book is that it was written so long ago (1990) and it reads so quickly that the writing doesn't seem to have aged at all. I contrast this writing with Song in the Silence, by Elizabeth Kerner (1996), which came highly recommended, but the narrative was so full of boring prose -- of the sort that seems old-fashioned to me, but it may just be a writing style.
(view spoiler)[ In the book, a short story is told about a king who fell in love with someone of the sea (not explained -- you are to assume that it's a mermaid or the queen of the sea, but no fins or tails are ever mentioned, only pearls and shells in the hair) and had a son by her, and then had a son with his young wife of obligation. The queen of the sea loved the king but was angry at him, so took his human son with her into the sea and gave him her inhuman son of the sea.
So, in the beginning, when Peri meets Kir, the king's son, that's when the book opens up. In general, the book ends on a much better note than how it started. Peri is angry and grieving when she hexes the sea. She meets Kir, the king's son, who longs to be a part of the sea but it refuses to let him in. Meanwhile, a sea-dragon with a humongous chain of gold starts to peer at the fishers from the ocean. A magician called Lyo comes into the picture at the behest of the town to bring back the gold chain (it was very tempting to the villagers). Somehow the sea-dragon begins to drag itself out of the sea and visits Peri in the form of a human for several hours a night -- it was the king's human son who had been under an enchantment.
It's quite a lovely story, and at the beginning Peri and Kir start having feelings for each other -- but the feelings they have for each other are criticized by other reviewers as being not developed or romantic -- but that was really the way it was supposed to be. They don't know each other that well, and Kir was a really tortured soul. He seemed to be connected to Peri only because he saw in her something apart from the villagers. Although that was quite odd, because she hated the sea so much, so why would he want her to take a message to the sea on his behalf?? Their "romance" doesn't seem much of a romance, and I much preferred Lyo to him, or even the sea-dragon, who never had to fear anything in his inhuman shape.
In the end, Kir elects to leave his land-home and go into the sea (and it turns out that Peri is quite the magician, because her few words are able to prevent things from happening or spur things on), and the sea-dragon walks out of the sea as a human. The king meets with his old-time lover (not a really exciting scene), and then Lyo comes to see Peri and reveals shyly that he had always been fond of her, but she had always had princes around her. The End.
(hide spoiler)]All in all, it was an interesting story, but it was weird that Peri was in the midst of all this. Why her? I guess maybe because she was supposed to be magical? The characters were not developed that well for me, probably because Kir took up such a large portion of the story, but he turns out to be the least likable part.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
In general, I liked this book. I felt the first part of it was executed well, in dealing with death and friendship from a male perspective. Well, I as...moreIn general, I liked this book. I felt the first part of it was executed well, in dealing with death and friendship from a male perspective. Well, I assume it was done well, since I'm not a guy, so I could be wrong. It actually did have me bawling at some parts, with Noah dealing with trying to keep his emotions over Jake bottled up.
So the things that I didn't like about the book was Maddie. (Another minor gripe is the fact that Noah's mom is called Maggie Elizabeth and the main love interest is Maddie Elizabeth? I felt like this might have been a typo by the author because there were SOOOOOO many. Seriously, this book could have done with major editing.) The reason I didn't like Maddie was that I didn't feel she was THAT great of a girl. Obviously, she has an awesome figure which Noah obviously lusted after. And at the beginning, she's a sort of "good" girl, a pastor's daughter who doesn't believe in sex until in a committed relationship or engaged. But towards the end, she starts going sort of crazy -- drinking alcohol like there's no tomorrow at a graduation party (when she's never gone to any parties at all), and stripping off to her underwear and jumping into the pool. Not to mention coming onto Noah in a major sexual way. Oh, and by the end of the book, it's over a year later, and there are descriptions of her "thrusting her tongue" into Noah's mouth. I don't know -- it was just a bit too much, and a bit too much of a turn-around.
Also, the typos were unbelievably distracting. It wasn't just one or two times, but maybe like twenty or so errors. There were words left out, and words that were interchanged, wrong pronouns, etc. Like something "coming it" through the door, or "back in forth."
In general the first part of the book was really good -- the part dealing with death of a really close friend, having to come to terms with the friend not being exactly who you thought he was, reconnecting with a sperm donor dad who bailed, etc. But the end was horrendous.
*edit* I thought about this book some more and decided I didn't like it...because the author clearly started out having Maddie be the good girl, the choir girl, the one who does missionary work, honors student, etc...all sugar and no spice, but why not, right? And then she BAILS on the reader and suddenly makes her into this sexual animal who was rubbing all over Noah...believable? No, not at all. Moreover, it wasn't in the least bit tasteful. It was sort of like the author wrote her to be perfect and then thought, but wait, this sort of girl isn't hot at all, so I'm going to make her into a sex monkey. Seriously?? And Noah was just a bit too perfect, as the best friend of a Dbag, to believe. I mean, if he's so smart and talented and great, why was he friends with such an ass?(less)
I don't know if it's because I don't often read sci-fi, but the book felt really murky to me. There were a lot of sci-fi and technology terms that wer...moreI don't know if it's because I don't often read sci-fi, but the book felt really murky to me. There were a lot of sci-fi and technology terms that were immediately thrown at you from the beginning, and you basically are left in the dark as to the terms. So in this brave new world, people have "wet drives" behind their ears (so I'm imagining them to be USB drives or something, because you can plug other people's wet drives into yours...) but I wasn't able to figure that out until a lot later on. Maybe that's my lack of a sci-fi background? But this happened with a LOT of technological terms, which holds back the readers.
The action progresses pretty fast, and Sam is ALWAYS on the run, which is great, but really, does she need to ALWAYS be on the run? Does she need to go out to meet these people RIGHT AWAY, despite the fact that the police are after her, and she doesn't trust these people, and also it's past curfew? Hmm. It's true that Sam is pretty kickass and the interaction I liked the best was between her and Nix (the alien)...to the point that I felt Vamp was not as essential to the story as he was as Information-Systems-Dude-1 and when he became the love interest, it also didn't ring true for me.
Someone else wrote in their review that the action doesn't always seem to be written tight -- you would be reading A-B-C, and then the action seemed to skip to E-F, and you would get the feeling something was lost in the middle, but nope, you were definitely reading one line at a time.
(view spoiler)[ The part with the aliens not being who they seemed was interesting (transparent facades so that you see their skeletons and brains), but the author threw too many "glints" at you -- little foreshadowy tidbits where Sam thinks she saw something and then thinks it was nothing. So, the first few times, that was neat, but then it grew tiresome, because there were so many of these things that she ended up seeming not as alert as she should have been. Of course, she eventually OD'd on her chems at the end, which might have been a factor.
And it was never explained WHY the haan needed surrogates. We know at the end that they're not as fragile as they seemed, but why did they need to be imprinted? This doesn't seem like a big deal at the beginning, but at the end, when you find out the big villainess alien Sillith has been cloning herself because she was at the end of her fertility cycle, it seems to matter a bit. What's with the aliens' fertility cycles? And why was the other female alien Ava, transitioning to be an alien? But maybe these will be explained in future books?
So Sillith also explains things at the very end, and because of the confusion in pronouns or whatever, it sadly took me several tries to understand what the explanation for the aliens' crash landing on earth.
Basically, what happened was that throughout the entire book, people are thinking that the aliens crash landed on earth, but the truth was that the haan attempted to meet earthlings by creating a portal -- unfortunately, the portal/worm-hole/black-hold collapsed, causing Earth to be pulled FROM earth's universe into the haan universe, right into the haan planet. The haan planet then began to collapse, as two objects cannot (in a non-multiverse scenario) maintain one similar space, until all that was left of the alien planet was the restricted Shiliuyuan station, which was the original alien experimental facility.
Basically, I think that this is the same thing that I mentioned previously -- that it was difficult to know what the author was describing or saying at times. And he needs an editor. I found "wretch" as in "I wretched horribly into the toilet." (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
The premise of this book was interesting, but there were not enough examples of common vegetables saving the ancient world in order to make up an enti...moreThe premise of this book was interesting, but there were not enough examples of common vegetables saving the ancient world in order to make up an entire book. The examples the author had maybe had enough material for a chapter, and the rest was filler -- like certain recipes or whatever. I applaud the idea but feel misled.(less)
I wanted to like this book so much. It started out so promising. You felt so unbelievably sorry for Elena, who was a victim not of her own accord -- t...moreI wanted to like this book so much. It started out so promising. You felt so unbelievably sorry for Elena, who was a victim not of her own accord -- the beginning was so great, describing how Elena would have liked to go against her stepmother, and how she would have liked to request shoes, but she couldn't -- because the one time she did, she was beaten with a cane, and if she reported it to the magistrate, they wouldn't do a thing about it, since she was the rightful property of her parent, as an unmarried child. It was great. It felt full of promise. Despite her sorry life, Elena was a survivor, even though she didn't feel much of one. As soon as her stepmother ran away from her debtors, she pulled herself together and was going to sell herself off to be a servant. All super realistic and super noble.
Then the fairy godmother shows up and tells her that because of THE TRADITION, things that are supposed to happen were about to happen but couldn't because of factors that didn't line up. I mean, you read in the blurb about the prince of Elena's kingdom who was only 11 years old. That's fantastic, and just about the only example that the reader needs, because honestly, the only thing fair about poor Cinderella's story is the fact that she gets her prince, right?
Except the author goes on to tell, oh, maybe 5 more drawn-out examples. You're introduced to the Fairy King and Queen (who are interesting enough characters), but then you're introduced to a buttload of other not so interesting characters that you basically start skimming over their names. There's the example of the Arachnia, the evil fairy/sorceress who is supposed to go to a christening and make the princess into a Sleeping Beauty, but Elena, our fairy godmother-in-training, circumvents that with her mentor, by putting some younger son/prince/poet in her way, and also by NOT making him a scumbag <-- I point this out, because this was underlined several times in the book by several different magical persons.
Anyway, blah blah blah, while Elena is training and reading books (seriously, why must every single heroine be a book-lover? I know authors are necessarily book-lovers, but it's a bore when people want to show that their characters are intelligent by having them like reading), the first 150 pages of the book reads a little bit like The History of Fairy Godmothers and The TRADITION. ENOUGH already. Why? Because it's all written as exposition. None of it really feels like it matters -- probably because the blurb has Elena's first "test" as testing three princes. So you are just waiting for that to happen, because it's in the blurb, so you logically feel that's when her adventure starts.
But it's not. It's in Chapter 11 (yup, that's about 170 pages in, folks) when Alexander first shows up (at least, I'm pretty sure it was Chapter 11, because I skipped some chapters and didn't feel like I missed anything), and it's GREAT. Alexander's first appearance made up for the 100 pages of crap about The Tradition. He was an awesome prince. Totally arrogant and suspicious of others, and so rigid in his military upbringing, but, you know, not in a bad way, because at least he wasn't stupid. So it's great.
But THEN for some reason after Elena turned him into a donkey, she was compelled to take him home with her. Okay, I can buy that -- except their interactions are SO BORING that finally I had to give up. Because frankly the character that got the most air time wasn't Elena or Alexander, or even Octavian (Alexander's older brother -- who was also kind of likable), but THE TRADITION. That's right. Every other word was reserved for THE TRADITION, and there were so many examples littered with working around THE TRADITION or utilizing THE TRADITION or just dealing with THE TRADITION, that it felt like the author brainstormed beforehand on how to make THE TRADITION into an actual believable and logical idea, that she then felt compelled to put ALL those examples into the book, one after another. And then because she felt like maybe her audience wouldn't buy into the idea of THE TRADITION guiding and forcing everyone into a set formula, she had to repeatedly reinforce those ideas and its power into the readers.
In the end, I felt less and less convinced about THE TRADITION and really dubious about this whole Kingdoms world that Lackey had created that I gave up. The basic rule of fantasy novels is that readers go into the books, ready and willing to believe in this fantasy world, with any "rule of thumb" that you throw at them -- unless you try to reason them otherwise. It's your freaking fantasy world -- people can fly if they want to -- why do you need to try so hard to convince them??
200 pages in, I threw in the towel, disgusted not only with THE TRADITION (which was basically the Matrix, but not as cool), but also Lackey's writing, which started to resemble legalese.
What a waste of my time. And while the author showed promise (in the beginning), it might be a while before I give her another try.(less)