**spoiler alert** Parts of this were quite nice, but the various plots didn't gel together very well, and the romantic thread struck me as grossly out**spoiler alert** Parts of this were quite nice, but the various plots didn't gel together very well, and the romantic thread struck me as grossly out of place, given the circumstances. The science and economic fraud investigations were far more interesting to me. Possibly this book does better with an audience that has more patience for child-characters than I do. Also irritated at the theme of the Great Barrayaran Hope coming to rescue the Japanese diaspora people from the economic catastrophe they've built themselves -- over which Miles doesn't remotely have jurisdiction and in service of which he gleefully commits any number of crimes without anyone blinking an eye. That the Japanese "Snow White" in distress is set up at the end to potentially marry a Barrarayan is, in post-colonial lit terms, beyond creepy and disgusting.
I love Miles et al, don't get me wrong, and it's nice to see Roic beginning to develop as his own person (however unevenly). My point is that if you're going to deal with crimes and police and lawyers, then there should be an unimpeachable representative of legitimate LOCAL authority. Besides the freaking truancy police. /o\
All that aside, I haven't even begun to process the twist at the end yet. On one hand it feels like an emotional manipulation to distract from a technically weak ending. On the other, GAH! And NOES! On the third hand, this is what LMB does to characters who live more in legend through the mouths of other characters than through their own actions on the page. Much like Taura. Personally, I'd rather see them in action than hear about their awesome through unreliable narrators, but...*shrug* It's a way to create/emphasize distance and otherness between narrator and character. (And it's not like there haven't been multiple books' worth of foreshadowing here.)...more
3 1/2 stars. Rushed ending with way too much summarizing, but parts of this were really, really wonderful. Very annoyed that the majority of Ekaterin3 1/2 stars. Rushed ending with way too much summarizing, but parts of this were really, really wonderful. Very annoyed that the majority of Ekaterin being awesome happened either off screen or through a muddled POV that couldn't sufficiently convey it. ...more
Gah. So many mixed feelings. Basically, if I'd hit CTRL-H and inserted Natasha Romanov/Natalia Romanova for every mention of Jason Bourne (and variousGah. So many mixed feelings. Basically, if I'd hit CTRL-H and inserted Natasha Romanov/Natalia Romanova for every mention of Jason Bourne (and various epithets), I might have loved this. It would have changed all the horrible gender dynamics and created a fabulous statement about men in power hanging women out to dry.
Marie's Stockholm Syndrome is so distasteful. As are every one of the many instances where crimes against women are dismissed, tolerated, or gotten away with (either by word or action).
OTOH, it's a really well-drawn web of conspiracies, and I enjoyed Marie very much in the few scenes where she got to be a badass in her profession instead of relegated to love interest/sanity-check.
Four stars for plot. One star for gender, glbt, and race politics. Three stars for very good use of setting. And zero stars for leaving me feeling dirty for having enjoyed parts of this in spite of hating other parts. How's that for ambivalence? :/
Disability tag for a variety of characters with various ailments, missing limbs, PTSD, etc., and not all of them evil and/or dead. Actually, of all things in this book, I think I was happiest with the portrayal of people with disabilities as people who had survived some horrible shit, full stop. Whatever their moral compass, they all had their humanity....more
**spoiler alert** I have so many mixed feelings about this one. I was only able to get through it after literally editing the ebook so every instance**spoiler alert** I have so many mixed feelings about this one. I was only able to get through it after literally editing the ebook so every instance of "bug" became "monster". That was enough to allay my squeamishness and stop the nausea. I could have done entirely without the various Sense and Sensibility plots...although I did actively enjoy the book from Cordelia's meeting with Kou, Drou, Mark, and Kareen onward. I do wish Ivan were written more consistently. When he's competent, he's lovely. The rest of the time, he seems like an eight-year-old sucking his thumb in the corner, and the difference makes no sense to me. Mark and Miles at least have grounds for their various personality splits. Ivan...confuses the hell out of me. I don't know if it's lazy writing or if there's a plan there. Or maybe it's just that this whole book seems like LMB wasn't sure who her protagonists were, so it's a sprawling mishmash of unevenly balanced scenes and subplots that lacks a strong and satisfying throughline. Granted, there were funny bits, but overall they seem incidental against the larger shapeless blob of story. And I think I'm irritated about Ekaterin not becoming fully independent before getting engaged. She has resources and connections through her aunt and uncle (at the university) that she never takes advantage of. Instead she just jumps into a new marriage because it helps Miles' political situation (and all this AFTER the risk of losing her son has been effectively quashed). Entertaining, yes, but hardly in line with her stated (healthful, healing) intentions toward herself.
So, yeah. Funny in places, but basically a mess. I hope the next one is better....more
This could have been really good, but then there were all these rug rats taking up space where interesting plot and potentially well-rounded characterThis could have been really good, but then there were all these rug rats taking up space where interesting plot and potentially well-rounded characters could have been. (Yes, I'm allergic to kidfic.) At least there was some nice Biffy/Lyall. And interesting hot air balloon and dirigible mechanics....more
3.5 stars. Relatively happy with the book's structure and many(!) interlaced plots. Less pleased with the way the effects of immense and debilitating3.5 stars. Relatively happy with the book's structure and many(!) interlaced plots. Less pleased with the way the effects of immense and debilitating traumas are blithely minimized and waved off. Interesting how after Mark becomes awesome, Miles seems strange and OOC. Fascinating if kind of really disturbing....more
**spoiler alert** The setting is gorgeously rendered. Solomon is awesome. Dodger's dank and disgusting world is wonderfully drawn. Parts of this were**spoiler alert** The setting is gorgeously rendered. Solomon is awesome. Dodger's dank and disgusting world is wonderfully drawn. Parts of this were very charming. Parts were rehashed far too directly from other books I've read (not by Pratchett). And parts were distractingly akin to Discworld.
The thing about GOOD YA books is that when they succeed, it seems perfectly natural for the child/youth to be saving the world/hobnobbing with royalty/doing things ridiculously out of their sphere. When it's done well, I don't even blink. Dodger made me blink.
The plot needed more plot & fewer clever vignettes...which I feel bad saying because I share the kneejerk urge to give Pratchett bonus points for effort in the face of Alzheimer's. Against that, it's hard to judge a book on is own merit...but I really wish this were better. The setting is SO GOOD! But Dodger's a far more interesting Cinderella BEFORE he goes to the ball and acquires a sudden and wildly disproportionate level of character development.
Also, I'm afraid a sequel will turn Dodger into Gen from Megan Whalen Turner's Queen's Thief series. Mutual roots in Dickens aside, that's a bit too on the nose.
In sum, not his best work but it's still Pratchett & close enough to a Watch novel to make me happy, and also to make me crave more....more
**spoiler alert** Atrociously bad. It could be turned into a drinking game -- drink any time Ackroyd uses fallacious logic or uses a completely unrela**spoiler alert** Atrociously bad. It could be turned into a drinking game -- drink any time Ackroyd uses fallacious logic or uses a completely unrelated and non-universal example to "prove" an absurd point. Of course, then you'd have alcohol poisoning by the end of the first chapter.
If his thesis were that London, as a city, has a particular culture unlike other cities in Britain, then this book might be an interesting amble through different elements of that culture. However, his thesis is that the city itself, in its pavement, sewer systems, buildings, etc., literally speak to the residents and dictate their ways of life.
Yes, that is exactly as crazycakes as it sounds. Up to including his claim that the actual tarmac of the street told the poor, nonwhite protestors to riot against their white oppressors. Also, there's the constant impossible superlativing, making ridiculous claims that London was the first city ever to do ______ in all of history. As if Rome and other ancient metropolises had never been. Calling it shoddy scholarship is generous.
This book IS kind of interesting as an adjunct to Ben Aaronovitch's Rivers of London series, if you pretend London is actually fiction. I only made myself finish the book because the anecdotes he paraphrases are fascinating. Sadly, there are no footnotes or endnotes, and he doesn't list his sources for particular stories, so this book is pretty useless as a diving off point into something better.
**spoiler alert** So far in this series, I've seen a grand total of 2 disabled characters have lines, despite it being set immediately post-war. The a**spoiler alert** So far in this series, I've seen a grand total of 2 disabled characters have lines, despite it being set immediately post-war. The amputee was the Nazi Viola blew up at the end of the 2nd book. The other is the villain, Normanby, who survived being blown up in the same explosion. At the beginning of the 3rd book, a faction of antifascist protesters call Normanby a cripple, to which he responds by ordering them sent to Nazi-run concentration camps.
My review of book one praised the wide range of characters' sexuality, so that there was no stereotypical portrayal of "the queer one as fundamentally evil". Not so with disabled characters, despite the realistic expectation that a setting full of war veterans should be full of variously disabled people. If it were, then this wouldn't bug me because some disabled people are in fact misanthropic shits. But most of them aren't, and they need to be shown as much as non-evil queer people need to be shown.
(I am so sick of reading mysteries and finding that the person who did it (or conspired to have the crime committed) is the one who walks with a cane or uses a wheelchair or has a prosthetic leg, etc. It's obscene. How many children will tell you that Captain Hook goes after Peter Pan because he doesn't have a hand, instead of maybe because he's a pirate and sociopath? This is as ridiculous as all queer people supposedly being sexual predators. Fucking Victorian faulty logic. This shit needs to be deprogrammed ASAP.)
Anyway, that wasn't quite the point I turned off the ebook. I went several pages more to see if the girl protagonist would charm me enough to keep going. But she didn't, and the plot of her moral enlightenment into (presumably) something approaching a human being -- despite her adoptive parents being people I would expect a much better kid out of -- was just not something I wanted to read. I mean, thank god snotty teenagers grow up ("Fascism is fun!" o.O Really?), but I'd much rather read a traditional detective novel. Also, any book about the commander of the Watch shouldn't make me actively wish I were reading a Terry Pratchett novel instead.
I never skip to the end to find out how things resolve, but this time I think I'm going to. And then maybe I'll reread some Discworld as a palate cleanser....more
**spoiler alert** I'm getting the feeling that Walton's generally weak at endings. She builds great momentum through the middle, but here's another ca**spoiler alert** I'm getting the feeling that Walton's generally weak at endings. She builds great momentum through the middle, but here's another case of the story's climactic event being summarized after the fact by a protagonist who wasn't there to see it. Which, WTF?!
I appreciated getting to see Carmichael's miserable life partner manservant this time, and my feelings about him are: OH honey. You deserve SO much better than this shit.
Sadly, this book killed off the only character I've really liked (Daphne), destroyed Carmichael's credibility as a sentient organism, and destroyed the theatre company's credibility with Viola's WTF interpretation of Hamlet. The writing itself was good, though. The plotting is satisfying complex, and the 'verse is still fascinating. Just wish things hadn't fallen apart so much in the final act....more
**spoiler alert** I realllllllly want to rate this higher, but the ending pissed me off so much I'm docking a whole star. MOST of this story features**spoiler alert** I realllllllly want to rate this higher, but the ending pissed me off so much I'm docking a whole star. MOST of this story features a smart, savvy, empowered Natasha. Then she gets lobotomized with freaking ridiculous comic!book!science. If you're going to wipe someone's memories of one particular person? Don't explain it with SCIENCE. The neurochemistry of memory encoding does NOT work like that! At all!! God. Brubaker knows better than that & he can generally be relied on to provide plausible plot devices. I mean, if this had been MAGIC...or if they'd just left out the description of HOW SHIELD medical was gluing her memories back together. But no. Over-explaining ruined it.
They're doing another Natasha book soon, and I really hope they will let her be her kickass self without reducing her to the Avengers bike, omg. She could kill them all with her pinky & she has a rich and fascinating backstory with ALL THE VILLAINS YOU COULD ASK FOR. You'd think they could write her a decent action plot, right?
Maybe she & Logan can take a road trip and reminisce about the '40s. They could wreak some awesome havoc before some scary new villain showed up to make them get back to work. It'd do them both some good.
Oh, and, the ridic "New Levels Of PAIN!" catchphrase for Bucky's next arc? Christ. Bucky's been an angst-muffin since he woke up! It's what he does. Seeing him in new levels of pain doesn't really sell me on whatever's next, and the implication that he and Nat were so codependent that this will be worse than EVERY OTHER HORROR HE'S SURVIVED IN A REALLY HORRIFIC LIFE? Um. Right.
Apart from the story, the art in the last issue seemed kind of lazy. Rain is a trick for hiding under-drawn panels as much as it's a visual metaphor for angst and heartbreak. Worse, visually not a whole lot HAPPENS in this book. It's all brooding and rain with very little action or interaction. Disappointing....more