What I realized while reading through Squire is that I feel like there are two stories in these books to me. One is the story of Kel, a girl who knows...moreWhat I realized while reading through Squire is that I feel like there are two stories in these books to me. One is the story of Kel, a girl who knows what she wants and what she wants is to become a knight, which she is naturally inclined to, but she will always do her best to achieve that goal without compromising her morals, overcoming all adversity. I like that story. The second is the story of a white girl presenting stereotypes of Japanese culture to be exotic and interesting to a white audience, regardless of the ridiculousness of the stereotypes. I hate that story.
I keep rating the books at 3s, because they're tolerable so long as I pretty much skip over any mention of Yamani anything, try to ignore the blatantly Japanese names, and mentally substitute things like "Yamani-blank" with a personal headcanon of Kel just naturally being inclined to stoicism. Probably I'd rate Kel's personal-journey story as a 4 if it weren't for the rest of it that I wish I could separately rate as a 1. It's adding absolutely nothing to the story, and on top of being unnecessary, is offensive.
Otherwise, this is continuing to be an interesting story of a girl succeeding in a male-dominated field.(less)
Same complaint as the first book: why Japan. This one's also very short and as other people mentioned, kind of seems more like a leadup to the followi...moreSame complaint as the first book: why Japan. This one's also very short and as other people mentioned, kind of seems more like a leadup to the following book than something that stands alone well, though it is interesting to see some of the characters grow and develop.(less)
**spoiler alert** Primarily this just... really is not my genre, I didn't realize it was really middle grade level and I haven't read anything this si...more**spoiler alert** Primarily this just... really is not my genre, I didn't realize it was really middle grade level and I haven't read anything this simplistically written since I was six or seven? Like, YA is generally aimed at too young of an audience for me, which is not to say adults can't enjoy them, but I often have kind of mixed feelings about YA novels because I don't like a lot of the common themes in them and the writing style is not always my cup of tea either. I would have given this book two stars, because I didn't like it, but mostly it's just not my thing.
But holy hell the ending got disturbing because of the nonchalant way Percy and his mom discussed murdering his stepfather and then did it, I mean. What is most disturbing is not that they did so, but the tone of the book describing this action as if it was not an action of complete desperation after exhausting other possible routes. Killing monsters that reanimate is one thing, turning a human being to stone, regardless of how repulsive and abusive, is an action of serious consequence and should carry significant moral weight, but that's totally glossed over in this book.
I overlooked the crude handling of moral issues elsewhere in the book because it just reads so simplistically anyway, but I don't think there's any excuse to put forth murder as a 'heroic' option, especially when this appears to be written for children young enough not to be able to question the nuances of such a decision themselves.(less)
I... liked Hades, unsurprisingly. And Goodman Grey. Heh. The book was okay, basically as I expected. The usual sorts of fail. I keep getting more unin...moreI... liked Hades, unsurprisingly. And Goodman Grey. Heh. The book was okay, basically as I expected. The usual sorts of fail. I keep getting more uninterested in Harry, which is unfortunate as these books really only ever delve into his perspective by design, but at least I still like a lot of the side characters.(less)
Told primarily from the perspectives of men who tend to overanalyze the world, often including their own emotionally-charged decisions, it's really ki...moreTold primarily from the perspectives of men who tend to overanalyze the world, often including their own emotionally-charged decisions, it's really kind of an ironic commentary on the dangers of trusting in rational thought to the exclusion of emotion. But instead of simply pitting emotion against logic and having emotion "win" to make the point as is so often done, Parker's using characters who are inclined to trust rationality over emotion to make a more complex argument: it's not that one is better than the other, but that you really need a bit of both.
Probably I'm a minority in that I see a lot of myself in Ziani and Valens and how they distance themselves from their emotional reactions. To me, it was an odd kind of "treat" to get to see characters who kind of "think like me," because more often when I'm reading books, I feel a lot like Ziani, wondering why people do such strange things, so "illogically," while sometimes ending up confused as to why I, too, end up acting illogically at times, and trying to rationalize emotions away.
But because I empathize with them, I also feel like the narrative is really kind of gently poking fun at them (and me, and maybe the author themself-- it feels a bit like the sort of self-mockery I would do, at least) for being so focused on facts that trying to understand why people do emotional things suddenly becomes alien. And in not recognizing emotions in other people, they also miss the significance of their own emotional reactions, and this ends up throwing wrenches into otherwise carefully wrought plans (and basically starts the whole mess to begin with).
The book itself has a rather "light" tone for the grim topics it covers, which reminds me a bit of Victorian fiction, and fiction based around the Victorian time period like Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, even though D&D itself is not particularly Victorianesque. It's almost comical at times, and it's not particularly "realistic" in the sense that the actions of the characters are definitely exaggerated on both ends, but it's not meant to be realistic the way a book/series like Game of Thrones is. Rather, the writing style seems meant to evoke the perspective of someone who is distanced from the world, to give the reader an idea of what it's like to be one of those characters, but the plot itself kind of speaks to how it doesn't entirely think this perspective is ideal, since it focuses entirely on the emotional reactions of everyone, and how these are, in fact, important motivators.
Aside from tone, the worldbuilding is interesting. I really enjoy that Ziani and the rest of the Mezentines are considered the most technologically advanced society in their world, and also seem to be a non-white society (or at least, I choose to read it that way, so perhaps I'm wrong, but they are frequently described as "darker"). Not having read the rest of the trilogy, I'm still a bit on the fence if this is a good thing or a bad one, given the Mezentines are the primary antagonists, but Ziani is also one of the main protagonists, and is not simply turning against his people or his old life, even though he's currently at odds with them.
But I did get a little frustrated that the story is still entirely about men. There's two (or three, I suppose) important women in the story, but both of them are only really important for being catalysts for the men who are actually allowed to do anything, and we're leaning toward the narrative painting one of them as "unfaithful," which. I have some issues with the romantic plot, given originally I really liked the idea of a story actually giving me a friendship that was equally as important as a romance. And now it is looking like the following books may take that away from me.
So that's partly why I haven't picked up the second book, because I'm a little afraid to find it telling me that the friendship really is "more than" and not just close or intense, yet platonic. But I liked the first book as kind of "fluff" reading for me, so I will probably pick up the other two eventually.(less)