I want to get the word out to anyone who hasn't read this book: READ IT NOW! If you live in the Los Angeles area, I even have several nicely worn copi...moreI want to get the word out to anyone who hasn't read this book: READ IT NOW! If you live in the Los Angeles area, I even have several nicely worn copies that I could lend you. I'm adamant about this because Good Omens is not only one of the funniest books I have ever read, it's one of the most meaningful, because it says something about humanity that I really, really want to believe. Also, Crowley and Aziraphale rock my world.
Have I mentioned that you should READ IT NOW?(less)
Reread, brought about by the fact that people weren’t writing good Dean/Castiel fic fast enough. (They still aren’t.) This was…dumber? than I remember...moreReread, brought about by the fact that people weren’t writing good Dean/Castiel fic fast enough. (They still aren’t.) This was…dumber? than I remembered it from my last reading, age 15 or thereabouts. Not that it’s bad, exactly: Collins creates a unique version of heaven and hell. But I guess it feels very created, unnatural and inorganic. As a piece of world-building, it was never something I could lose myself in.
The characters never really worked for me, either. Lucy’s kind of stupid and shallow and annoying; she’s supposed to have the potential to be one of the greatest artists of all time, but I just couldn’t see it. As for Joth: well, beyond having a stupid name, he’s pretty much a blank slate. Which is sort of the point—angels don’t have free will or personality before they fall—but as a potential love interest, that doesn’t make him very exciting, does it?
I don’t know. A lot of this is Fridge Logic; I didn’t have nearly this many problems while I was actually reading the book, which zips along nicely—at least until it crashes up against its ridiculous tacked-on epilogue. ARGH. I just…you know what, forget it. Anybody have any REALLY GOOD angel romances to recommend?(less)
In the early part of the 19th century, a young winemaker sees an angel out in the field behind his house. They talk for a while; eventually they agree...moreIn the early part of the 19th century, a young winemaker sees an angel out in the field behind his house. They talk for a while; eventually they agree to meet every year on the same night. I loved this premise; it reminded me of one of my favorite stories ever, Neil Gaiman’s “Men of Good Fortune.” The difference is that “Good Fortune” is about someone who will live forever, while Luck takes place over a single human lifetime. Also, in Luck, our human protagonist, Sobran, and his otherworldly visitor actually become lovers. Score!
Well, sort of. This book is actually not nearly as good as “Men of Good Fortune,” although that’s setting the bar pretty high, in my opinion. The relationship between Sobran, his angel, and Aurora—a young widow Sobran also comes to have an important connection with—is wonderful and rich and nuanced. I liked all three of these characters very much. The book’s theology, however, confused me deeply: I did not understand it at all, which made the motivations of the higher powers at work in this novel—some of whom made personal appearances—completely opaque to me. The love story (stories!) still moved me, but I felt like I was missing the larger meaning of the text.
Also, the ending decidedly underwhelmed. The structure is so linear—year by year by year—that I felt that the climatic moments came at odd places in the story. So this is another one that goes into the category of “didn’t love it, still worth reading.” Just make sure you’ve read “Men of Good Fortune” first!(less)
This book contains one truly fantastic conceit: magician Matthew Swift is brought back from the dead, but he doesn't come back alone; he contains with...moreThis book contains one truly fantastic conceit: magician Matthew Swift is brought back from the dead, but he doesn't come back alone; he contains within him entities known as the Blue Electric Angels, and so parts of his story are narrated in the first person singular, I, and parts in the first person plural, we. I love the shifts between Matthew's perspective and that of the otherworldly Angels; I love how throughout the book they start to come together a bit, to merge. There is such a fascinating book to be written with this premise!
Unfortunately, this book isn't it. The actual plot is dull, dull, dull, and the characters didn't entrance me, either. Griffin's magical London is just the kind of fantasy setting I usually adore, in which the urban landscape is infused with the same kind of mysticism the countryside is usually granted in fairy stories. But in this book, I felt more like Griffin had simply chewed up the best aspects of Neverwhere and a bunch of Hellblazer comics and spat them out wetly onto the pavement. The novel's opening left me intellectually tantalized but I was never emotionally engaged.(less)
This book starts out rather promisingly, with a dude name Gabriel waking up with no memory of who he is but with weird things happening all around him...moreThis book starts out rather promisingly, with a dude name Gabriel waking up with no memory of who he is but with weird things happening all around him. The opening’s got a bit of a “Castiel with amnesia fic” vibe to it, which made me very excited for obvious, dorky reasons. Unfortunately, Gabriel, unlike Castiel, is an idiot—his efforts to find out who he is and what’s going on are pitiful; apparently he’d rather spent his time whining and moping. Thus the narrative swiftly becomes an exercise in frustration: one wants to shout, “Buy a clue, Gabe!” at the nonresponsive pages. And then when Gabriel finally has several clues charitably donated to him, the book just become ridiculous. It’s like Bell started off with one premise, and then veered sharply in another—dumber—direction. In fact, it’s pretty much the very very worst of J.J. Abrams in here, guys.
In conclusion: people need to write more “Castiel with amnesia” fic, and I need to read less crap.(less)
This came out just a couple of years after Good Omens, but rather than enduring has instead faded into out-of-print obscurity. It’s easy to see why. W...moreThis came out just a couple of years after Good Omens, but rather than enduring has instead faded into out-of-print obscurity. It’s easy to see why. While there are some interesting bits, particularly in the arc of the angel Ananayel—who was sent to Earth to bring about the destruction of humanity, but might, just possibly, wind up changing his mind—Westlake’s apocalypse is rather a muddle compared to Gaiman’s and Pratchett’s, and his human characters are significantly less compelling. The women and the people of color are, in particular, treated shoddily, and even most of Ananayel’s potentially interesting emotional beats happen off screen. Plus it’s just nowhere near as clever or funny. Essentially, it comes down to this: I own four copies of Good Omens and reread it every year; I already gave my copy of Humans away.(less)
This starts out enjoyably crackish, with the angel Volos falling to Earth and attempting to reinvent himself as a man (he accidentally forgets to omit...moreThis starts out enjoyably crackish, with the angel Volos falling to Earth and attempting to reinvent himself as a man (he accidentally forgets to omit the wings)—and not just any man, a rock star! Unsurprisingly, I enjoyed the bits I could imagine were a Castiel AU fic. But the ending gets seriously melodramatic. Meanwhile, Springer made me quite uncomfortable with her treatment of homosexuality in this book, which really surprised me coming from the author of the wonderful Larque on the Wing. And yet here we have Volos trapped in a relationship with the villainous and nasty Mercedes—a gay dude who’s repeatedly referred to as “womanish” or “womanly”—from which he of course can only be rescued by the love of a good woman and her no doubt magical vagina. Urk. At the end of the book, Volos still considers himself bisexual, but—yeah. Like I said. I was uncomfortable.
I think I’d really rather read the Castiel AU fic instead.(less)
A few weeks ago, a woman came into the store and we started chatting about YA fiction. She expressed a dislike of Twilight and boredom with the heaps...moreA few weeks ago, a woman came into the store and we started chatting about YA fiction. She expressed a dislike of Twilight and boredom with the heaps of vampire books currently on the shelves. When I hesitantly agreed (as a bookseller, I am supposed to love all the books), she smiled and shook her head and told me not to worry. "This vampire thing is winding down," she said. "Angels are the new vampires."
I was intrigued (angels being somewhat Relevant to My Interests at the moment), but I didn't really believe her. However, almost immediately thereafter, the angel books started pouring in. You are a clever one, anonymous lady!
Sadly, this book—the most hyped of the new winged bunch—is not. In fact, it pretty much IS Twilight with angels, and I just...if I headdesk enough, do you think I'll be able to forget both Twilight and Hush, Hush in their entirety?
All right, since that seems unlikely to work, let's see if I can heal my pain by getting my rant on. (With a numbered list, even—always a good sign that I'm too annoyed to even assemble my thoughts coherently.)
1. Really, this is Twilight. But with angels. The plot shares a number of similarities: instead of taking place somewhere rainy and vaguely ominous on the west coast (Washington State, right?), it takes place somewhere rainy and vaguely ominous on the east coast (Maine—please wave hello to Stephen King). Supernatural male and vulnerable human female meet when they're assigned as lab partners. Supernatural male rescues vulnerable human female from some shit. Nothing much happens for most of the book, and then there's a showdown in a gym. Blah blah blah.
2. After a 3rd person prologue that had me hopeful, we're right back in insipid 1st person POV land. I have to say: Nora, this book's protagonist, is much less annoying than Bella. However, this seems to be accomplished mostly by her having no personality whatsoever. Seriously, none. Her quirky boy-crazy (and fat20 pounds heavier than the main character voluptuous! that sounds P.C.!) best friend has one, but all Nora's got is some minor angst because her dad died and her mom works a lot. I have throw pillows that seem more dynamic.
3. Seriously, having the main character and romantic heroine constantly reference how "voluptuous" her friend is and constantly make fun of said friend's failed attempts to diet does not earn you points. Quite the opposite, actually.
4. Oh, and while we're getting into angry feminist territory: guess what's seriously not romantic? Guys who "flirt" with women by being really, really mean to them. This is a book written for teenage girls in 2009, but reading it, I felt like I'd accidentally picked up a Barbara Cartland romance from the '70s—one of the ones with a really alpha, rapey "hero." HOW ARE WE STILL NOT PAST THIS? Seriously, it makes me want to cry. Or punch someone in the neck.
5. The hero's name is Patch, by the way. YEAH. That also totally says romance: picturing Robin Williams in a clown nose every time the hero comes on stage to insult/seduce our dull little heroine.
6. And then even when you wade through all of that, the angel stuff is fucking boring. Most of the book's near-400-page length is wasted on Nora trying to figure out what's up with Patch, which is extremely dull for the reader, as—from the cover, the blurb, and the damn prologue—we already know. When Nora, admittedly lacking these clues, finally does figure it out, it's through the most ridiculous, Mulderesque leap of logic ever. And then, after all that, there's still next to nothing at stake. (Damn, if this were another vampire novel, I could have made a dumb pun there.) Since Patch has already decided for no discernible reason that he's in love with Nora, there's not really any tension in the "will he turn on her?" corner, and someone else threatening her life isn't terribly suspenseful, either. Especially not when compared to the kind of plotlines angels and fallen angels open up to a writer: Heaven and Hell, people! An epic struggle between good and evil! You're just going to ignore all that and go with Revenge Plot No. 3 instead? Oy.
I like the idea of angels being the new vampires, I really do. I see so much potential. But if all writers do is rehash the same tired, borderline offensive plots, only with wings instead of fangs, who cares? My store's shelves will still sag with titles that make me sigh internally as I force a smile and try to subtly direct customers to the works of E. Lockhart, John Green, Suzanne Collins, M.T. Anderson, and Cory Doctorow instead. Hint, hint.(less)
Apparently, I will read just about anything with an angel in it these days—even a kids’ book, in which I know there will be no chance of random angels...moreApparently, I will read just about anything with an angel in it these days—even a kids’ book, in which I know there will be no chance of random angelsextiems. Actually, in this particular book, it seems there’s really no chance of anything. Nothing happens. There are some orphans and a girl with experimental fashion sense and an angelic narrator who speaks with an occasionally charming shaky grasp on grammar. But NOTHING HAPPENS. The angel wonders why it is unfinished, without a purpose, and I was interested in the answer to that question. But one does not materialize. There are small town shenanigans and more orphans and no one threatens to throw anyone else back into Hell or visits a den of iniquity or speaks Enochian or ANYTHING. Bleh. I think, even as a child myself—without an angelsextiems agenda—this book would have bored me. I always liked it when things happened.(less)
Cynthia Leitich Smith read all that hoopla about angels being the new vampires and wings supplanting fangs as the primacy source of teen wangst, and s...moreCynthia Leitich Smith read all that hoopla about angels being the new vampires and wings supplanting fangs as the primacy source of teen wangst, and she was like, “Whatever, bitches, I GOT BOTH.” She’s also got a sense of humor, which really, really helps a lot. Eternal features a guardian angel named Zachary, the highlight of whose life existence is “shower time” with his charge Miranda naked under the spray—at least until, whoopsidaisy, he lets Miranda get turned into a vamp. Pervy angels, legitimately murderous vampires: this book is just dark and twisted enough for me to enjoy it. Not love it—the ending gets mawkish and preachy in a way I could really do without—but I was amused. That’s really all I’m asking for with these things, anyway.
...Okay, all right, truthfully, it’s not. I really do want an epic supernatural love story, one that’s funny and dark and sexy and badass and that lacks the ooky gender stereotypes that are so prevalent in most teen fiction (though not this book, mostly, thank whatever). I want one of these silly books with their designed-by-Hot-Topic covers to make me feel like a good episode of Buffy could back in the day, like the world is something beautiful and tragic and still, somehow, worth fighting for—especially in a sleek leather jacket and kicky boots. That’s what I want, what I’m asking for every time I pick one of these things up.
New to the list of things Misha Collins has made me do: read an Anne Rice book. I really never thought I would do that again. Even at the height of my...moreNew to the list of things Misha Collins has made me do: read an Anne Rice book. I really never thought I would do that again. Even at the height of my Buffy-induced vamp craze, I didn't care for Rice; I dragged myself yawning through Interview With the Vampire. Of course, Rice'd probably just tell me that means I was interrogating the text from the wrong perspective. I do have to thank you for that one, Anne: that meme never gets old.
But then Anne Rice found God, and I found Supernatural's Castiel, and suddenly both of us were worshiping things that are at least vaguely angel-shaped. As much as I mocked Rice's new book for its ridiculous title (“Is it Thursday? Oh goody”—brandishes book—“it be angel tiem nao”), I also sort of wanted to read it. The angel in Angel Time, the internet informed me, is described as having dark hair and bright blue eyes—just like Castiel! The human he saves from perdition himself is a self-hating blond assassin—close enough to Dean for government work and/or idle fantasies. Hello, hilarious assassin AU in convenient “I can read it on the bus” book form!
The novel itself is actually not hilarious at all—it may be, in fact, one of the most self-serious books I've ever read. And yet...it's also not bad. Most of the narrative involves not-Cas sending not-Dean to save a medieval Jewish family from being falsely accused of murder. I didn't care about this part, particularly, especially not in contrast to the interesting glimmers of not-Cas and not-Dean's burgeoning relationship: not-Cas watched him grow up, watched all the tragedy in his life unfold, felt what he felt! It's kind of fabulously over the top, and I know that if I slashed it, Anne Rice would bring the whole internet down upon my head. I will not be posting this review on Amazon.com.
Seriously, though: I'm very aware that I am interrogating this text from the wrong perspective. I am not getting what Anne Rice likely wants me to get out of it at all. I'm okay with that, though. Hopefully, given time and the better angels of her nature, Anne herself will come around.(less)
This is the book that I (not-so-)famously threw at the wall, as described here. Though, in fairness, that was really a matter of proximity more than e...moreThis is the book that I (not-so-)famously threw at the wall, as described here. Though, in fairness, that was really a matter of proximity more than especial malice. Don’t get me wrong: this book is bad. But it’s sort of forgettably bad—to the point where I have, for the most part, forgotten it. All that’s left is a vague memory of badness, lingering on the (otherwise spotless!) walls of my mind like soap scum.
I think it was mostly typical bad romance novel badness: ooky gender stuff (actual line: "'Emily!' Michael said through clenched teeth. 'This is no time to play your female games.'"), dull and at times incomprehensible plot, characters who are too dumb to live. I read it because it’s about an angel and a human who fall in lurv, and at the time I was still rocking that narrative kink like whoa, but this book utterly failed to satisfy it. Emily is dumb as a chipped brick and Michael is really, really boring for an angel; to top off this dull cake with some disinterested frosting, their happy ending consists of him turning human but without either of them remembering that he was ever anything else. Oh, and Emily also has a ridiculously over-the-top evil politician fiancé to get in the happy couple’s way at strategically relevant points. And there are ghosts, or something. I swear, even full-length and (apparently) fully-realized, this book made no more sense than this summary.
So I think I’ll just proceed to forget its contents the rest of the way—Deveraux does appear to consider that a happy ending, after all. From now on, it will simply be known as The Book I Threw at a Wall.(less)