Unfinished. Considering my usual unending love of Russian/Slavic fairy tales, I expected to tear through this one; but maybe it was the stark narrativUnfinished. Considering my usual unending love of Russian/Slavic fairy tales, I expected to tear through this one; but maybe it was the stark narrative voice, or the (to me) utter lack of anything actual fairy tale-esque, or any mysticism at all beyond vague feelings of dread--I don't know. I think had this been pitched to me as "vignettes about soviet life with a slightly surreal bent" instead of "scary fairy tales," I might have been more into it. I just don't think I was in the right mindset. It definitely wasn't bad, but coming off the very lyrical and folkloric In the Night Garden, I wasn't really in the mood for something this straightforward. The first few stories in particular read to me like something a weird relative might tell over family dinner: decent lead up with a sudden end less bizarre than bewildering, and leaving everyone unsure how to change the topic of conversation tactfully. But again, maybe this will appeal to me more at another time! I'll likely grab it from the library again at...some point....more
Giving up the ghost on this one. It's not that it's bad, per se, and many of the exercises and ideas in the book are intelligent, thoughtful, and usefGiving up the ghost on this one. It's not that it's bad, per se, and many of the exercises and ideas in the book are intelligent, thoughtful, and useful. But I just don't care. I understand Twyla Tharp is a highly successful and talented artist; she has every right to talk at length about her accomplishments and the road she took to get there. Sometimes it's interesting! Maybe I would be more inclined to like this book if I liked her, as an individual and an artist, since it's as much memoir as self-help for creators--but then again, I read through On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft knowing next to nothing about Stephen King and didn't have this issue. I think for me, this book is just so ponderous. It reads like a stereotype of a high school art teacher telling you to get in touch with your inner muse. Again, some of the exercises and anecdotes are interesting and effective! This isn't a terrible book and for many people it's very useful, poignant, and hits them in just the right way. Unfortunately I'm just not one of those people, and I can't even get much benefit from the exercises because I'm so exasperated by Tharp's writing and tone. The crux of the book is that the creative muscle is a muscle that needs to be exercised and worked and cared for like any other muscle; that's not a new idea, and not one I need to reread interspersed with Tharp's meditations on art (which, again, are not bad or insipid, just not my cup of tea)....more
I said I'd give this 100 pages, but honestly, I just don't care enough. This book isn't poorly written (the actual prose is...fine; some heavy-handedI said I'd give this 100 pages, but honestly, I just don't care enough. This book isn't poorly written (the actual prose is...fine; some heavy-handed metaphors, but nothing terrible) so much as boring, and subject to pitfalls of its own making. Putting a novel about an ostensibly poignant and emotional coming of age story in the voice of its fourteen-year-old protagonist is always a risky maneuver; fourteen-year-olds are not exactly the greatest storytellers, realistically speaking, and to make them readable you often have to succumb to the tired trope of the too-intelligent, world-weary, dreamy protagonist who Just Wants To Be Loved. I won't give a summary of the book--I haven't finished it, for one, and don't intend to; and you can find plenty of summaries elsewhere--but after 75 pages if I find the protagonist mind-numbingly boring, the prose bland, and the entire conceit of the book saccharine and schmaltzy, well, I'm just not going to continue. June doesn't seem to be grieving so much as self-centered and whiny; her touching anecdotes about her uncle Finn are just sappy vignettes about how wonderful and perfect and flawless he was; her blind ignorance of anyone around her trying to reach out and befriend her doesn't come off as an ironic disparity between the narrative and its reality, so much as a teenager being an oblivious brat. I had quite enough of that when I was a teenager; I don't really want to relive it. Maybe it gets better later, but a book shouldn't take 100+ pages to become palatable, particularly when the book isn't even 400 pages total. ...more
Ugh. I don't know if I'm just approaching this book wrong or what, but I've picked it up and started it three separate times, and each time I put it dUgh. I don't know if I'm just approaching this book wrong or what, but I've picked it up and started it three separate times, and each time I put it down before 50 pages. I really wanted to give it a chance, and after reading some rave reviews and finding out it was an LGBTQ version of Cinderella, my interest was piqued. Maybe Lo's writing gets better as the book goes on, but the first chapters drag interminably on, her characters are two dimensional and uninteresting, and the plot is horribly contrived (yes, obviously, it's a fairly tale and the plot is going to go a certain way; but that doesn't mean it has to plod along like it's only moving towards the next plot point because it's supposed to go that way). The prose itself is weak. Some reviewers find Lo's worldbuilding enchanting, and I will grant that I was intrigued by the world Ash lived in (more than Ash herself); the passages describing how the scholars came to have precedence over the greenwitches was very interesting, and I was hoping there would be more conflict in that arena as time went on. But it wasn't enough to draw me in when I was stuck following the uninteresting Ash around. And then, of course, the interminable walls of text--5 or 6 full length paragraphs to every line of dialogue. Maybe I've just got a short attention span, or have been reading too many Victorian novels, but I can't get behind that ratio.
Ultimately, the failing lies most in Ash herself. She is flat, boring, quiet. She rarely speaks, and when she does, it's to acquiesce to her father or make irrelevant commentary. There were dozens of opportunities for character-developing dialogue that Lo missed, whether because she had to cut out words to meet an editor's word count, or because she did not write them to begin with. In the first fifty pages, when I should have had a fairly accurate idea of what Ash was like (especially for such a slim book), I was left with a vague notion that she was dreamy, quiet, and spineless. She has no goals, no dreams for her life, no desire to grow up or change--and not even a conscious desire to not grow up, it's simply that she has no real ideas for her life in mind at all. She's young, yes, but even at 11 or 12, you might have some grandiose idea of growing up to be Queen or joining the Fairy Hunt or becoming the best greenwitch Rook Hill had ever seen. I felt like I was being constantly told about her, rather than experiencing things right along with her.
Still, I'd be interested to see what Malinda Lo churns out next, as her premise was very interesting and the prose had potential, if she added in more dialogue and less description. If I wanted to read paragraph after paragraph after paragraph of narration, I'd just pick up Tolkien. I'd recommend this book for very young girls--10 or 11, perhaps--with a good attention span (unlike mine, obviously); but if you're looking for an interesting retelling of Cinderella, you might as well just pick up Ella Enchanted....more
As of 7/18, I'm shelving this book for the moment. I feel like a bad reader and a bad science fiction fan, but I think I'm just not in the right mindsAs of 7/18, I'm shelving this book for the moment. I feel like a bad reader and a bad science fiction fan, but I think I'm just not in the right mindset to be reading about space worlds and names I can't pronounce. It's definitely wonderful, I can already tell, but something for another time....more