closer to a 4.5, i think, but someone on my flist posted recently that a book doesn't have to be perfect to be 5 stars, which is something i think i'vcloser to a 4.5, i think, but someone on my flist posted recently that a book doesn't have to be perfect to be 5 stars, which is something i think i've forgotten lately! anyway, i really enjoyed this. i didn't love it, but i really enjoyed it. it had a structure more akin to a mystery than a typical fantasy novel -- i.e. slow build, everything revealed at the end, questions on top of questions -- which was both refreshing and frustrating. i mentioned in a progress update that i was having a hard time keeping track of everything going on, and startling realizations in the world of the novel were a bit lost on me. that definitely held up right to the end, though the final explanations of everything were so thorough and interesting it almost made up for it. this is a book to sink into in long spurts of reading -- not one to be read in five and ten minute snatches, as i usually had to. i found myself enjoying it immensely when i could just sit and read for an hour or two; but being put off and confused when i could only read in short bursts, as there was so much to keep track of. hence it taking months to get to the end, and then racing through the rest!
overall, this was a great, fun romp of a fantasy-mystery novel, and incredibly visual in a way i really enjoyed (sometimes you want a dreamy, lyrical oyeyemi you can't quite visualize, and sometimes you just want to think about stuff blowing up, you know?). i can't really say much about it that hasn't been said before. loved the characters; found the world rich and interesting. the romantic in me was heartbroken at the end, but mysteries aren't meant to end happily, are they? looking forward to picking up the sequel (if only because the sample at the end of this one hinted at my divine wife voortya showing up. i love a war goddess ...more
**spoiler alert** i might have given this four stars, except i hated the romance storyline SO MUCH and the last bit of the book (after briefly redeemi**spoiler alert** i might have given this four stars, except i hated the romance storyline SO MUCH and the last bit of the book (after briefly redeeming itself by focusing on, like, the actual title character for a while) spent so much energy on it that i can't bring myself to give this any higher of a rating. i liked this book as a story about medieval/fantasy mediterranean warfare for teens; i did not like this book as proposing an actual romantic couple to root for. he stalked her!! for years!!! she! cut! off! his! hand!!!! and it seemed like the only real accounting for this -- they talked about it a lot, certainly, but just acknowledging it had happened -- was attolia feeling sad. no one seemed to care eugenides had spent literal years stalking her in her own home??? and despite eddis saying she wasn't a matchmaker, she sure seemed to spend a lit of time thinking about eugenides's love life.
this book soent so much time detailing geographic minutiae and military maneuvers and dry political machinations, that by the time the love plot rolled in twenty minutes late with starbucks, it felt like valuable time wasted that could have been spent developing, you know, an actual foundation of a relationship between eugenides and attolia, instead of one built basically on torture and eugenides's best impersonation of the grudge. if this book had just been about teenage queen warfare, i would have been all over it; if it had been about a troubled romance developing in a wartorn fantasy realm despite better instincts and situations advising against it -- hell yeah i am hft. if it had even been two people faking a romance for political reasons (tbh i thought it was going here at first with eddis taking abt marrying eugendes off and i was like YEESSSS) and then, to quote the bard, finding love in a hopeless place, i would have been down!!! i would have been so down!!! but instead it felt to me like a clumsy amalgam with revelations and reveals hamfisted in. the "i love you" moment made me so angry i literally had to put my kindle down and angrily wash dishes for twenty minutes.
all that said!! i didn't actually hate it!! like i said, even though the writing style is Not For Me (it reminds me a bit of grrm, which i think i might have said on the first book's review, too?), i loved all the political wheelings and dealings and people sneaking around and fucking things up for each other. tbh i wanted MORE of that, and less dryly written. i wanted like 500 pages of eddis and attolia learning to be queen friends. i wanted more of them in general, and less of it centered around their love of woobie hero eugenides. (listen i get he has a right to be fucked up bc of his hand but i just got real tired of how the narrative framed it and him and how it kept being like johncena.mp3 every time it turned out he wasn't actually crying alone in his room.) basically i wanted a book about eddis and attolia and while i liked gen initially, i could have given half a fuck about hm by the time things started heating up. the love story was terrible. this book hamstrung itself forcing that plot in. i'm angrier than i need to be about this...more
not my favorite austen (persuasion), not even my favorite light-hearted austen (emma), but easily the funniest of the lot. this is the most casually cnot my favorite austen (persuasion), not even my favorite light-hearted austen (emma), but easily the funniest of the lot. this is the most casually cutting and affectionately insulting book i've ever read probably?? it frequently felt like reading "upper middle class regency society, as discussed over tea by stephen fry and his mum." i don't know anything about stephen fry's mother, i just assume she's Very English...more
**spoiler alert** this was a quick, zippy book that i raced through, in no small part because calling it a "book" is a bit of an overstatement. at bes**spoiler alert** this was a quick, zippy book that i raced through, in no small part because calling it a "book" is a bit of an overstatement. at best, this is a teleplay (so i was excited to see there's a full cast audio production of it, even if i didn't love the story). everything is in dialogue, and at times this works beautifully -- but it also leaves the door wide open for egregious telling-not-showing, confusing action scenes, and only ever hearing about events after the fact. it puts distance between the story and the reader, and in a story that is already so heavily science-oriented (i see it compared a lot to the martian, and for good reason), you kind of want to avoid pushing the reader any further back? imo, anyway. it also allowed for very, very limited characterization of the main cast, who struggled to rise beyond vague scifi action flick stereotypes (the hero who Goes Bad, the Action Girl Too Tough For Love, the female scientist who is an apparent genius in multiple unrelated fields but also not old or ugly because ew).
the first two thirds of the book were really interesting and entertaining, and it was such a quick read i was ready to overlook its flaws. it felt like it was building up to something really massive and grand-scheme. i was into the science, the evolving mystery, the possible conspiracies, even the stunning decision made by one of the characters about halfway through (although i did think the motivation for it was...thin, at best). but then about two-thirds in, they pretty much...explained everything? and it was deeply hackneyed and dissatisfying in a way that felt almost a disservice to what had been a cool and interesting story. the alien love story in particular was just. so bad. so trite! you have a whole universe -- literally -- at your fingertips, and you choose some bland tristan and isolde nonsense? you could make an argument that maybe the old man was lying or making some inexplicable metaphor, but nothing in the text really supports that. again, when we're just reading transcriptions of dialog, it's difficult to convey dramatic irony. also: alyssa. what?
all in all i don't really regret reading this, but i doubt i'll be picking up the sequel. the first 2/3 is so enjoyable that the sheer badness of the last third seems even worse by comparison. also, if i never have to read about a tough lady pilot who's mad about being sad and drinks/fucks/fights the pain away, it will be TOO SOON. ...more
i can't bring myself to finish this. this book has many things i should love (female leads! action heroes! idiot teens!), but there are so many awkwari can't bring myself to finish this. this book has many things i should love (female leads! action heroes! idiot teens!), but there are so many awkward writing conventions that put distance between the reader and the story -- instead of building suspense, as i suspect they're meant to -- that it quickly became a chore to pick up. jumping back in time every other chapter, each present-day chapter only moving a few minutes forward (it felt like a movie, and is probably much better suited to that medium), the constant "this happened. or maybe this happened. or actually THIS happened, or she thought it happened, or maybe it never happened" method of relaying information was cute the first handful of times and deeply exhausting by the hundredth. rose fell neatly into a category of badass-female-characters-written-by-men that are Tough and Mouthy and Don't Take No Shit and sooooo incredibly boring. sara was actually fun!! i liked her and wanted to read her bits, even with the obnoxious time jumping. but it wasn't enough to make me press through to the end. ...more
this is a really interesting, intriguing premise with solid faux regency writing, excellent attention to historical detail, a lovely friendship at itsthis is a really interesting, intriguing premise with solid faux regency writing, excellent attention to historical detail, a lovely friendship at its center, and is about as engagjng to read as looking at three day old dry toast. laurence is so Correct and Priggish, and the narrative takes such great pains to paint him with sympathy even as he acts like a moralistic 19th century asshole, that 2/3 of the way through the book i seriously began to wonder how none of these rough and tumble anti-etiquette captains hadn't thrown this dude and his perfect-and-good-at-everything dragon in the damn lake. he has no flaws. what mistakes or judgment errors he makes are glossed over or immediately noted by laurence himself, corrected, and never touched on again. temeraire is even worse. i understand not every dragon is going to be a big dumb cat doing the dragon equivalent of walking across your keyboard to get to the other side of the couch; but the whole knowing and understanding everything immediately, being better and more unique than every other dragon, smarter than laurence, kinder and fiercer and a better flier and fighter and eater and swimmer and and and -- like, enough, we get it. but i could have handled both of these things (the side characters were great, for example, and livened up every scene) if there was just...a story. or ANYTHING at stake at all. sure, there's a war going on, but you can hardly tell. 70% of the way through the book, and maybe a tenth had been devoted to actual warfare, or...anything besides talking about how great temeraire is and how much laurence loves him (inexplicably??? i get why temeraire bonds but why does laurence? he just suddenly loves this dragon more than life). conflicts are resolved immediately, invariably in laurence and temeraire'd favor. battles (well, battle) are over in about five seconds flat. there are about a million minor characters who all seem to worship laurence and temeraire as caricaturishly perfect leaders. this is just? so boring???? i thought i was going to read a book about dragon warfare and instead i got the fist two acts of diet how to train your dragon. ...more