Another short story in the Study series, again taking place after the third book and before the to-be-released fourth. This one alternates between Yel...moreAnother short story in the Study series, again taking place after the third book and before the to-be-released fourth. This one alternates between Yelena and Valek.
I liked it well enough but, as with the other short stories, the ending seemed much too abrupt. It's like there's a decent story getting going and then she realizes it can't be too long and *bam*.
My other issue with this is that Yelena is pretty damn thick. Granted, this is a common issue with her, but I'd like for it to not continue to be a driving force of the plot...
Valek, of course, is wonderful as always, though a bit disappointing that he keeps (view spoiler)[walking into traps (hide spoiler)].["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
This was an ok story, overall, but a little bit generic. My biggest issue, though, was that Ari and Janco kind of came across as more annoying than...more2.5
This was an ok story, overall, but a little bit generic. My biggest issue, though, was that Ari and Janco kind of came across as more annoying than amusing. Maybe it's because it focuses on them instead of them being more secondary - but it just felt a bit off.(less)
It was cool to see a story from Valek's perspective, and I kind of liked the "choose your own adventure" aspect of it (the author had polled her re...more3.5
It was cool to see a story from Valek's perspective, and I kind of liked the "choose your own adventure" aspect of it (the author had polled her reader's to ask how they wanted the story to progress at the time of writing ) - though I was also glad the voting and whatnot was over and I was able to read the story straight through. (Most of the votes went the way I would've gone, anyway. It was kind of amusing, though, the way you could sort of tell the author would take the poll, but them steer the story in her intended direction anyway. I'm pretty much sure that it would've, ultimately, gone down the same way, regardless, and the voting only changed some details.)
I slipped back into the world pretty easily. While this series certainly had it's flaws, it's one that's stuck with me.
My biggest complaint, really, is that it was too short and ended too abruptly. (less)
I'm not really sure what to call this book - horror, urban fantasy, other? I think I'll go with dark fantasy for that mixture vibe, because while they...moreI'm not really sure what to call this book - horror, urban fantasy, other? I think I'll go with dark fantasy for that mixture vibe, because while they talk about Histories as opposed to ghosts, and repeat that they're not ghosts because they're memories - well, they're still pretty much ghosts.
And, no, that's not really a spoiler or anything.
So, anyway, Mackenzie is a Hunter Keeper - someone who tracks down ghosts Histories when they wake up and are trying to come back to the Outer - our world. She also has the ability to read the history in things - people, things - as a way to help her hunt.
After the death of her brother, her family moves to a new place, and she suddenly finds her list filling up with names of new Histories with alarming frequency, and it just gets worse and worse and there's trouble brewing in the Archives. She has to do her job, but also secretly try to figure out what's going on at the Archives and who's responsible, while navigating family life and meeting new people. And, yes, there's boys - plural - though it's not as bad as it could've been.
Overall, it's a pretty decent read. I was interested enough in the world and the people and the goings on, and it was a fast paced read. A bit repetitive, as these first-person narratives tends to be, and the action scenes were a bit hard to follow at times - but, overall, not bad.
But not great, either.
One thing that kept kind of bugging me was I kept wondering what the point was. (I don't know if this gets into big spoiler territory, so I'm just gonna tag it.)
(view spoiler)[So, when you die you become a History. Or there's a History of you that gets recorded in the Archives. Or whatever. And the Keepers and Crewe protect the Outer - Keepers handling more low level Histories in the Narrows - the space between the Archives and the Outer, and Crewe handling big bads who get into the Outer. And there's the Librarians who guard the Archives itself.
But no one, including the Keepers, are meant to read the Histories. It might wake them, for one. And, for another, well, I dunno - you just can't, I guess.
And Roland, one of the Librarians, makes a habit out of skimming the new Histories to keep on top of the Outer, but you get the idea that this isn't really meant to happen.
So, basically, the Archive is all about recording the histories of these people and keeping them safe and docile - because knowledge is power and you don't want all that knowledge to get lost - but, then, no one can ever really get to it or use it.
It's like, with the attempt to make her ghosts not ghosts, she created this system that makes no sense. I mean, you can sort of accept ghosts happening, right? I mean, even if you don't believe in ghosts you can go with it for stories, that impressions of people's lives and/or emotions get imprinted on the fabric of the world and repeat or lash out or whatever. It just happens, right?
But with the Archives it's this, like, bureaucracy, but what's the point of it? (hide spoiler)]
Anyway, I'm hoping maybe it gets developed/explained more in the future, 'cause, as it stands, the whole system doesn't make much sense.
And that's probably what kept stopping me from enjoying the story more, 'cause I kept stopping and thinking "But why?"
I do plan on continuing with the series, though... so I guess we'll see.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
I'm rounding up on this one, and it's sort of for the whole trilogy, because while the writing still has some issues like clunky dialogue and expos...more3.5
I'm rounding up on this one, and it's sort of for the whole trilogy, because while the writing still has some issues like clunky dialogue and exposition and not always being able to figure out how we get from point A to point C while seeming to bypass point B - overall I still just like the story and the world and characters.
I mean, it has magic, mystery and mayhem, deals with the veil between the worlds, has intrigue, betrayal, redemption, suspense... in some ways there's not much not to like. I especially liked how we got a bit more of Edgar's backstory in this one, and see him sort of step up a bit.
My biggest issue - aside from the aforementioned writing issues (and, in fairness, it has gotten much better from book one to book three) - is that the ending left a few too many threads dangling.
I mean, all of the main points of the story are tied up, but I'd like to know more about what becomes of the characters down the line. How do the events of this story affect them going forward?
I guess, in a way, it's a mark of a good story to want more, and to care about the characters enough to be concerned for their futures. There is that old piece of advice about leaving them wanting more... but I couldn't help but feel a little disappointed, at the end, because there just seems like there's just a little bit more of the story that needs telling.
Overall, though, as I said, I like the story and I can definitely see myself doing a reread at some point in the future. (Not onerous, in the least, since I think I got through all three in about a week, all things considered.)(less)
So, I liked this book, but I didn't love it. While I thought the premise was interesting and it started well, it just never quite got...more2.5 (see edit)
So, I liked this book, but I didn't love it. While I thought the premise was interesting and it started well, it just never quite got past a 3.5 for me, and then 3 by the end when things were sort of dragging and not going anywhere.
As I said in my status update - I found it interesting, but something - I don't know what - kept it from being completely compelling for me.
Some people have said they had a hard time knowing who to "root" for because there's no clearly marked "good" guy or "bad" guy. I didn't have such a problem. The story, to me, clearly set you up on Victor's side - partially since we're told the story mostly from his perspective, and partially because there's nothing remotely redeeming, in my mind, about Eli.
Now, perhaps this is my own bias, as I have a special hatred for (view spoiler)[fanatics who rationalize to themselves about doing the "right thing" when they know what they're doing is wrong, and an even more special hatred for "religious righteousness" in this context (hide spoiler)], but I just wanted to reach through and punch Eli. A lot.
So, when there's no clear "good guy", you obviously go for the lesser of two evils.
Besides, someone who can root for John Constantine, John Cleaver, Dexter, Kain from Legacy of Kain, or Rorschach, to name a few, is familiar with rooting for sociopaths who do the "right thing" but for their own twisted reasons.
My biggest issue with rooting for Victor, actually, comes from the fact that the impetus for his revenge is kind of, well, petty. And if they had kept that, and made less Eli less hateable, then maybe I would've been more conflicted. But I wasn't.
(Honestly, it would've been nice if Eli was more better developed. For a story where people are saying it's hard to know who the bad guy is, Eli came across as rather cartoonish, to me, to be honest. If he was a bit more even-keeled, and less a cliche fanatic... but ah well.)
I did like the general way the story was told, going back and forth in time. I didn't find it confusing at all - though I'm sure I would've if the chapters didn't tell you exactly when and where you were in time and space - so kudos for that.
And I did kind of like the characters. They were all "interestingly broken" to steal a phrase - but I would've liked a bit more in the way of development. I mean, they're all kind of 2D. They are who they are when we meet them, and they don't really change - except little glimmers of possibility from Victor. And while we do get lots of back story, the fact that they were all damaged from the get go means we don't really see that much of a change, imo.
Not that I didn't like them. Mitch and Sydney were cool, and even Victor was darkly likable.
But I would be curious to see what happens to an EO who is healthy and well-adjusted before the change. That would be an interesting experiment.
And speaking of experiment - that's one thing I really liked about this book. I thought the pseudo-scientific veneer of the creation of the EOs was pretty cool. I appreciate the attempt to ground the story in a sort of reality.
And I doubly appreciated the way the powers were related to your will and your (view spoiler)[dying thoughts (hide spoiler)]. One thing I was recently dissecting about X-Men was that while they try to ground it in "science" with it being a genetic mutation, they never really explain why the power manifests so differently - even within families.
In this book, you get a reason for that. And that's cool.
It also kind of made me think of Flatliners, which was also cool.
(Oh, and speaking of random connections - the character of Serena reminded me so heavily of Nina from Alphas that I couldn't help but picture Serena as the woman who played Nina, despite all descriptions to the contrary: http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-glvn9QJsimI...)
And I liked the ending. It was clever. It relied on a lot of things coming together - i.e.(view spoiler)[ I mean, there's no guarantee Mitch would've succeeded in stopping Serena, so Victor was trusting that a lot would go right, which seems a bit out of character (hide spoiler)] - but I liked it. It made me smile.
I think the real reason for disconnection, by the end, was two-fold:
1) This is a very character heavy book in which, as I said, the characters don't really change all that much, so we get a lot of back story which, after awhile, feels repetitious and doesn't go anywhere.
2) Sydney's power. (view spoiler)[It's hard, for me, to keep a level of tension when in the back of my head I'm thinking "well, if he dies she'll just bring him back, anyway." (hide spoiler)]
That said, it could be interesting, in future installments, to see what (view spoiler)[coming back again does to Victor, since the other EO she brought back was messed up, I'm curious to see if it would have lingering consequences for old Vic. (hide spoiler)]
So, anyway, I did think it was a solid enough story, but I also feel that it's level of originality and mind-blowingness is a bit overhyped.
ETA: My husband read this book, after I was talking to him about it a bit, and he mentioned something that bugged him that had also bugged me but which I'd forgotten to mention - the coincidences.
I reference is a bit in relation to Victor's plan, because it counted on an awfully lot that could've easily gone wrong to all go right - but it's more than that.
It's the way that he meets the people he needs to meet exactly when he needs to meet them - i.e. (view spoiler)[the guy at the end having the power to travel through time and space, as it were, which is the only way he could've gotten close to Eli undetected (hide spoiler)]. Or that he randomly meets people who become crucial parts of the story - i.e. (view spoiler)[stumbling across Syndney on the side of the road (hide spoiler)].
I still liked the book a little more than him, but it hasn't left much of an impression on me - aside from all the little ways that it's annoying and could've been better. The more I think on it, the more I'm thinking 2.5 might be a fairer rating.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
Glancing through other reviews, I seem to be in the extreme minority, but I was sort of disappointed in this installment.
Maybe my expectation level was just too high, after loving the special editions of the previous books and then being excited at finding out there was finally a continuation to the series.
And there is some interesting stuff about this book - learning some more backstory on Uncle A - though dude looks weird as younger man - and seeing the effect of Courtney's misadventures from the perspective of others.
But, mostly, it felt like kind of a recap of the story so far, setting up what seems to be the last book in the series and making sure that Courtney is, for the most part, more alone than ever she's been - which is saying something.
I don't know - I just expected more story and less recap, I guess. Meh.
But Naifeh's twisted artwork continues to please, and I am curious as to see how things turn out in the next (last?) volume.(less)
I may have mentioned once or twice (or thrice) how much I love these new editions of the Crumrin books with color. The color really adds depth to N...more3.5
I may have mentioned once or twice (or thrice) how much I love these new editions of the Crumrin books with color. The color really adds depth to Neifah's illustrations - even when the story itself is in the dark, so we're mostly dealing with various shades of greys and blues and purples.
This story was definitely on the sad side. It combines two short stories which are, as the title suggests, episodes which happen during the course of holidays that Courtney takes with Uncle A. But more than the specifics of the story, they really deal a lot with Courtney's loneliness and her relationship with Aloysius - the way these two strange individuals rub along together, sometimes together but often at odds.
Poor Courtney wants so much from Uncle A - a family and friend and mentor - and he, being so closed off for so long, just doesn't really know how to be what she needs.
My favorite part, by far, is when another character sort of takes A to task for expecting too much of Courtney. ^_^
My only real complaint with the stories is that the second seems rushed, especially the end. A lot seems to happen very quickly, and I think some of the emotional punch is lost in its brevity.
That said, it left me wanting more - and I'm happy to know that more's coming. For the longest time I thought this was mostly the end of the series, aside from some stand alones about A when he was younger, but there's another coming out in trade soon, and I'm very excited. :> (less)
While this book suffers from the mid-trilogy slump, I do think that there are certain aspects of it which improves on the first book - namely the writ...moreWhile this book suffers from the mid-trilogy slump, I do think that there are certain aspects of it which improves on the first book - namely the writing. There weren't nearly as many info-dumps and expository chunks as there were in the first book. Not that there weren't a few, and I'd still like to get info without quite so much telling, but it was an improvement.
On the other hand, it didn't seem like a lot actually happened. The whole book follow both Kate/Edgar and Silas as they are trying to void capture, and get captured, and escape, and get captured, and escape, and so on and so forth. While captured, there's some exposition. Oh, and there are some nifty fights and things, too.
That said - the story that's being set-up in the next, and final, book really has be interested. I'm officially hooked into this world and these characters, and am really looking forward to the big climax and to see how everything comes out. (It doesn't help that they're well-paced reads, so even when not a lot was happening it never felt all that slow.)
Here's hoping for a great conclusion.
ETA: There was one world-building issue which I wanted to comment on, which actually came up in another book I was reading recently - the issue of daylight.
There are people in this world who live entirely, or at least mostly, underground. This would be very unhealthy for people, both physically and mentally. Sunlight - actual sunlight, not artificial light or even firelight - is necessary for people to live properly.
There's some grumbling about the class segregation which forces people to live in the City Underneath, but there's never any real discussion of the healthy issues.
It didn't ruin the story for me, or anything, but it did kinda bug me a bit.
(And don't anyone said "it's not our world so it could be different", because these people are clearly meant to be humans, not aliens, and that would just be a cop-out, imo.)(less)
Overall I enjoyed this book, and the trilogy as a whole. I like the mix of gothic fantasy and romance - t...moreI won this book through Goodreads First Reads
Overall I enjoyed this book, and the trilogy as a whole. I like the mix of gothic fantasy and romance - though my general preference would have a bit more focus on the plot and a bit less on the romance than this particular story provides.
One good thing about this story is that it ties up the threads of the story quite nicely, while leaving avenus of exploration open should the author ever decide to have further forays into this world. And the climax of the story was pretty well handled, for the most part.
My biggest complaint with the story has been the same for the whole series, and that's pretty much the first person narration and some of the issues that's inherent in that writing style - particularly limited perspective (i.e. not seeing what other people are doing, which could be an interesting component to the story), and train-of-thought style writing.
For me it's the latter that really bogs down the story, in this case. Natalie is embroiled is this story of love and life and death and demonic plots, and while she does think on these things, it's the love aspect of the story which she focuses on the most and, thus, which we focus on the most. While their are demonic plots and clues abound, we get mostly internal monologuing about her insecurities and jealous and how much Jonathon means to her.
We're also reminded certain things repeatedly, like how her now surpassed Selective Mutism made her keenly aware of bodily and facial expressions, and how she can read people deeper than most may be able to. (Of course, this ability seems rather selective, as she suddenly can't read people when it's better for the plot for her to be unable to.)
This is just one example but, in general, Natalie seems to focus on a handful of things which are important to her, ad nauseum, and other, potentially more interesting parts of the plot are sort of in the periphary. Kind of annoying, that.
As to the limited perspective, this is also why I say the climax was handled well "for the most part". There's something which happens which, while predictable, seems to come out of nowhere. It seems in many ways (view spoiler)[Maggie's journey (hide spoiler)] may have been the more interesting story, but we only get bits of that in a letter after the big "surprise".
Granted, the "shock" might not have worked had we been more privvy to the various ongoings out of Natalie's purview but, then, as I said, it wasn't really all that surprising anyway. (view spoiler)[I knew Maggie would end up involved in the climax, just not to what extent. (hide spoiler)]
As I said, this story does wrap things up nicely and we get our long-fought HEA, and that's nice, but I do think the writing style sort of limited the story in some severe ways.
Oh, speaking of writing styles - I'm not sure how I feel about the earnestness. The other of Hieber's series that I've read, Percy Parker, was also a bit over-the-top in its gothicness (though perhaps not as self-aware as this book, which repeatedly calls focus to 'being caught up in a gothic novel'), but the writing style lent it an air of tongue-in-cheekness to it. This book seems more earnest, which is, perhaps, one reason I didn't enjoy it quite as much.
Still enjoyable, though, and perhaps I'd enjoy it more if I could stop comparing the two series but, alas, I don't seem to be able to make my brain do it. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
I went into this book with a bit of trepidation. While I did "like" the first book, I was also frustrated by it's over-focus on the love triangle...more2.75
I went into this book with a bit of trepidation. While I did "like" the first book, I was also frustrated by it's over-focus on the love triangle crap at the cost of the plot and world, which were both infinitely more interesting than the stupid triangle.
Being as I expected more of the same in this book, I half-expected to hate it.
On one hand I wasn't wrong, but, on the other, it didn't seem to bother me as much. Perhaps it's because I knew what I was getting into, whereas it was more of a surprise the first time. Perhaps it's because I understood the purpose of the love triangle a bit more this time around, and the role it fits in Alyssa's journey of self-discovery, as she struggles to accept - or at least deal with - both her human and netherling sides.
So, no, the focus on the love triangle wasn't the main issue with this book.
No, the main problem with this book is that there's no freaking plot.
Ya know that aforementioned "Alyssa's journey of self-discovery" - that's pretty much the entire book.
Red has escaped, Wonderland is threatened - but Alyssa can't freaking decide who or what she wants to be long enough to be remotely useful. She is so annoying.
I mean, I can get that this can be a big deal - I really can. And it might not have been as annoying if she was remotely proactive about anything in the book. But since the book is told in first-person narrative, it's mostly just stream of conscious self pitying and whining while she basically wants to have her cake, and eat her cake, and then take your cake.
Secondly in the realm of issues is the ever popular "this could all be sorted out if you people would just talk to each other!" thing. Interestingly enough, though, this is less focused on the love-triangle and more on her mother. Well, and Morpheus, but still because of her mother. We do learn some interesting things about Alison and her past dealing with Wonderland, and how it also effected Alyssa's father.
I guess it was meant to build suspense and drama and whatnot, but it kind of just went in circles.
Oh, and did I mention Alyssa borders pretty hard on TSTL territory? I guess it's partially because of her trust issues - and lord knows the girl has reasons for said issues - but she seriously can not put two-and-two together without having to have everything spelled out for her, often with a clue-by-four.
I mean, she really does bring a lot of her problems on herself.
So why the almost 3-stars?
'Cause I still kinda liked it. The various creatures and glimpses we get of Wonderland are still really interesting, and I thought it was also kinda cool to bring the battle into our world - at least a little. The confluence of Alyssa's heritage makes it almost a forgone conclusion, but I did like how when she refused to go to the battle, the battle pretty much came to her.
Also, Morpheus. It was nice to get some history on him, too. Sure, he's still kinda an ass, but it was nice to see some of his motivations and vulnerability.
Mostly I would say this book suffers from middle trilogy syndrome. It's all set-up with very little resolution. Well, actually, with nothing in the way of real resolution. It sets the stage nicely for the last book - but it doesn't really serve as more than that... except in the sense that at least we finally got to a place where Alyssa is ready to step up.
I'm hoping the last book is pretty killer - but I'll probably still be a bit trepidatious. I guess we'll see... (less)
The three stars for this book is mostly based on the story and the characters - especially Silas and Kate. Kate, our heroine, is fairly strong and bra...moreThe three stars for this book is mostly based on the story and the characters - especially Silas and Kate. Kate, our heroine, is fairly strong and brave, with believable moments of weakness considering her situation. Silas, our villain turned pseudo-ally, made me think of a weird crossing of Kai from Lexx and Snape from Harry Potter.
The secondary characters were a bit more meh, but Edgar certainly had his moments. Artemis was annoying and, as a side point, when I was first introduced to his character all I could think was "What is it with author's naming male characters after a Greek goddess?"
But, anyway, as I was saying, I liked the overall world that was portrayed and I did like the 2 1/2 main characters.
The writing, on the other hand, was kind of dreadful. It was really clunky. Big chunks of random exposition, sometimes very oddly placed in the story - but the dialogue was even worse. We're talking a major case of the tin ear here.
And I didn't like that so much of the story was exposition. Lots of telling versus showing. Lots of pausing the story for descriptions of the city instead of expanding on it as we're exploring it. The writing made the story hard to get into, and hard to follow in places. Scenes jumped awkwardly and even the characters would have weird mood changes almost mid-paragraph sometimes, with no real rhyme or reason.
It wasn't enough to kill the story for me, as evidenced by my rating, but I could see how it could be for others.
Luckily for me, I was intrigued enough by the world and the story as a whole - which made me think a little bit of Nix's Old Kingdom series and the Chronicles of the Necromancer by Gail Z. Martin - that I was able to get past the clunky writing, for the most part and enjoy the story.
It could've been a lot better with some decent writing, though.
But this is a first book from the author, I believe, and I'm definitely willing to give it another go. I liked it well enough, despite it's flaws, that I've already put the next book of the series on hold at the library. (less)
I'm not a huge zombie book reader, but the cover kinda caught my eye, and the fact that it was set in historical Philly sold me. As to the Philly aspe...moreI'm not a huge zombie book reader, but the cover kinda caught my eye, and the fact that it was set in historical Philly sold me. As to the Philly aspects, the Centennial Exhibition that is a important part of the story happened, but I don't know much about it. Mostly, she just sort of mentioned the Schuylkill a lot.
But the story was fun - in a gothic sort of way. I liked that the zombies were more spiritual in nature, in that they were raised by a necromancer, and aren't the usual sort of virus-turned flesh eaters. I'll take magic and spirits over your run-of-the-mill zombies any day. (And, in a lot of ways, this is actually a throw back to the original zombie stories, which were raised by magic (or, well, drugs) anyway.)
It took me a little while to get into the writing style. Part of it was the usual first-person perspective thing I have issue with, but part of it was just the overly modern sound of it. It just didn't seem like the author had a really good grasp of historical writing and setting, so it felt a bit forced.
Speaking of forced, the potential romance didn't develop very naturally, either. That didn't stop me from being a bit sad about how it ended, though.
Oh, and Eleanore was a bit slow on the uptake about the identity of the necromancer.
If you don't take the book too seriously, it's pretty fun. Eleanore is spunky in that historically anachronistic way that I appreciate, while still semi-trapped by the constraints of society. I also like Jie a lot, though, again, she was very anachronistic. (Well, really, like I said, the whole historical setting felt a bit off. If you're more a stickler for accuracy, you'll want to give this a pass.)
Mostly, though, I liked the magic and the sort of steampunky ghost hunting equipment that the Spirit Hunter used throughout the book. And I cared enough about the characters to care what happens to them.
I'll definitely read the next in the series.(less)
First and foremost let me say that the lower rating is not because my ship didn't come in, as it were. Honestly, (view spoiler)[Mal was never my favor...moreFirst and foremost let me say that the lower rating is not because my ship didn't come in, as it were. Honestly, (view spoiler)[Mal was never my favorite, though he did grow on me a bit in this book. A bit. But I figured it would go this way from the beginning, so I was prepared. (hide spoiler)]
It's also not entirely because of the way things turned out in general. Honestly, it went pretty much the way I expected it to go. I know that that's the cause of some people's disappointment - that it was too typical and/or tropish - but I think it's more that it didn't go the way they wanted it to go, specifically.
But, regardless, the biggest reason for my low rating is that for much of this book I was just kinda bored.
I commented to some friends when I was around the 66% mark that I was still waiting for shit to actually happen.
I mean, sure, there was the walking and getting caught (fucking constantly - does not one post sentries/guards in this world!) and getting out and walking... but for the last book of a trilogy it felt like a lot of set-up and not a lot of tension.
And, of course, there's the problem that I had with the first two books in that the first-person narrative mostly focuses on Alina's whining and uncertainty... and here's the thing about that.
The prologue and epilogue are both written in third person - and they're kind of brilliant. I mean, they were probably the most poignant parts of the whole book, so it sort of solidifies my previously voiced opinion that if this series was written in third person it could've been amazing, but, no, it had to do the whole first-person thing and, ye gods, Alina is annoying. I mean, all the character growth from the previous books are, like, gone.
One of the other problems with this book is that there's so little of the Darkling and Nikolai, and both are shadows of their previous selves.
Now, I sort of understand - or, at least, I have a theory - as to why this was done. To wit, (view spoiler)[since Alina ultimately ended up with Mal, and since a lot of people were either Team Darkling, Team Nikolai, or Team "Anyone But Mal", I almost feel like Bardugo knew she had to sort of push them to the sidelines to let Mal take the fore. (hide spoiler)]
But, regardless of the reasons, this basically means that two of the more interesting characters in the book are minimalized, leaving Alina and Mal the main focus. *snooze* (Harshaw and Oncat are more interesting that these two... )
Ships aside - the Darkling was a very interesting character. Charismatically evil, but also thinking he was doing the right thing. Or, from my perspective, doing the wrong thing but for rightish reasons. He was definitely one of the more interesting parts of the story, and while (view spoiler)[I figured Alina would end up with Mal, I did think she could've done the whole last ditch effort to try to get through to him, making it clear that he really wouldn't change and she had no choice but to kill him, in the end (hide spoiler)]. But even though we got some of his and Baghra's backstories - which were cool - I felt that they, as characters, were presented pretty thinly in this installment, which just didn't work.
I also got mad at Alina because she seemed useless in a crises. Every time things went to pieces (which was always), she seemed to forget how to be useful. (I guess that goes along with the whole disappearing character growth).
With the slow and plodding set-up and the disappearing characterizations, there's also a general lack of tension - which all culminated in a rather lackluster climax. I don't just meant the bit where (view spoiler)[the Darkling ends up being killed by a non-magical blade to the heart - I thought that was actually kind of fitting, with his disdain and disregard for the "muggles" of the world (hide spoiler)] - I mean the whole thing.
I don't know, I think I sort of checked out by the time we got around to the big "showdown". I was already so disappointed with the book, and I knew it was going to be a let down, and I was right. The build-up of the first two books just totally fizzled in this last book, and I was reading more just to see the inevitable instead of any real connection to the story anymore.
So, I picked this book up on a whim when I saw it in the give-away pile at my library. I knew, being a YA romancey kind of novel, that there were g...more2.5
So, I picked this book up on a whim when I saw it in the give-away pile at my library. I knew, being a YA romancey kind of novel, that there were going to be eye-rolls and groans - and there were, make no mistake - but I also thought the whole Jekyll and Hyde aspect could make it interesting, which it did.
Of course, sometimes it helps your enjoyability level if you go in sort of expecting it to be trashy, and that's definitely the case here... because, despite it's flaws, it was kind of fun.
So, anyway -
The biggest issues were the obvious ones - it relied too heavily on the trope of the whole good girl/bad boy, taken to a bit of an extreme. I mean, Jill was very good, her innocence definitely crossing into the realm of unbelievability. (Ok, maybe it's just me, but I have a hard time believing in a 17 year-old girl who's never even been kissed.)
And Tristen, of course, with the whole Hyde thing going on, was definitely in the baddest of bad boys - but an unwilling bad boy. Tristen, himself, is a pretty nice guy, but he has that whole uncontrollable dark secret thing...
So, yeah, cliches abound.
I also had problems with the stereotypes of how the guy's hidden darkness is violence - and sexual violence, specifically - whereas the girl's hidden darkness is mostly sexual.
Yes, friends, the virgin/whore thing rears it's ugly head. It's even sort of directly addressed at one point, Tristen thinking maybe (view spoiler)[it wouldn't be too bad for Jill to take the serum, and to get "both" Jill's. 'Isn't that everyone's fantasy' he thinks. (paraphrased) (hide spoiler)]
Yeah, she had to go there.
But, of course, these are, ultimately, good people... and that's where a bit of moralizing comes in. And this might be a bit spoilerish, but I'm not gonna tag it, 'cause I'm'a get on my soap box here.
You've been warned.
***** SOAPBOX AND SPOILERS *****
So, Jill and Tristen, being teenagers and newly infatuated/love with each other, have the natural physical impulses that go with that. But, naturally enough, Jill's hesitant. I mean, that makes perfect sense - you don't go from never been kissed to losing your virginity overnight, for heaven's sake.
But then we had to throw in the whole thing about how Tristen decides he doesn't want to take that next step without putting a ring on it.
Now, ok, some people are probably happy with this. Pre-marital sex, and teenage sex, and whatnot, is bad, mm'kay.
But I disagree.
I know too many people... far, far too many people... in unhappy marriages. And I've known people who, because of the whole no sex before marriage thing, have rushed into marriage more because they want the sexums than anything else.
I mean, sure, they probably figure it's more than that, that it's real love and true and they'll live happily ever after and shit... but these are people who, honestly, have only known each other for a few months, and much of that time was spent in lots of drama and turmoil, and these people don't really know anything about what life together would be like.
I'm a firm believer that not only is sex outside of marriage not wrong, but that people should not rush into marriage, and that people should probably have sex and live together before marriage to determine compatibility.
It becomes especially problematic in that the people who disagree with all that are, often, the people most heavily against divorce, which creates the problem of rushing people into marriage, and then forcing them to stay there.
I am glad that, at the end of the book, Jill and Tristen were still engaged, and not married, and that they seemed to be spending some time together getting to know each other and all, but I'm still not really happy with the overall moralizing aspects of the book.
But, then, I guess you almost expect it from someone who has the whole idealization of virginity mixed with slut-shaming going on.
Lastly, in the issues category, was some writing things.
I mentioned in my status update that I wasn't a fan of the shifting perspectives both being in first-person. I found having to mentally adjust one "I" for another a bit jarring, even with the chapters telling you whose perspective it was.
But I mostly got used to that.
I didn't quite get used to the heavy-handed "foreshadowing" that came at the end of many chapters. Sort of along the lines of the whole "If only I knew then what I know now... "
A paraphrased example:
"Professionally, she said. But I was too wrapped up in my own drama to catch it or think about what she meant by it."
So, not only a heavy-handed sort of "foreshadowing", but also a serious clue-by-four. Like "I'm not going to let you, the reader, miss these obvious clues I'm littering throughout the book, even though the character's are meant to have missed them at the time."
Not only do it sort of kill a lot of suspense, and any real hope in a twist or surprise, 'cause you're telegraphing everything from chapters away, but it's also just annoying to feel like the author must assume her readers are complete morons that she has to make a big, neon sign saying Here Be A Clue!
That said -
I did like the Jekyll/Hyde aspect of the story. I found the idea that (view spoiler)[Hyde could create his own lineage, all tainted with an uncontrollable dark side (hide spoiler)].
I also thought the ending was interesting.
Well, the final showdown was kind of cartoony, the reveal was obvious (see above), and the whole thing was sort of anti-climactic, actually... but the epilogue brought in an interesting bit related not to the dramaz so much as to the nature of darkness and the 'beast' within.
I haven't read Twilight, but I think I might feel about this book the way I imagine some of my friends feel about Twilight - specifically those people who enjoy it, but acknowledge that there are so many things wrong with it. (Though, from the excerpts I've read of Twilight, I do think this is better written. Also, no love triangle. It's definitely shorter than Twilight. And, best of all, it's a stand-alone! 'Cause while I did enjoy it, almost despite myself, I'm glad it's self-contained.)["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
To refresh my memory, I went back and read my review for the first book in the series. A lot of what I said in that review could be repeated here,...more3.5
To refresh my memory, I went back and read my review for the first book in the series. A lot of what I said in that review could be repeated here, especially the whole, "I liked it - but it frustrated me."
I think it frustrated me a bit less this time around, because I was more aware of what to expect, but I still couldn't help wanting to reach through the pages and shake people.
I think my thing is that, by and large, I enjoy my fantasy to have some romance. Other people might like their romance to have a bit of fantasy. This series seems to lean towards the latter, to the point where about 1/3 of the book seems to deal with actual plot development, and 2/3s focuses on a lot of angst and relationship drama.
If these figures were reversed, I think I'd like the book a heck of a lot more.
On top of that, though, it's the fact that a lot of the drama was circular and repetitive and stupid. I mean, I knew that there'd be a continuation of the angst, especially after the way book one ended, but, people were just being extra dumb - especially Kami. I mean, I couldn't figure out what her deal was. She kept thinking about how she wanted to be close to Jared, she wanted him to let her in, but then, as soon as he made any move to do so, she went cold and pushed him away.
I honestly couldn't figure out how conversations got from point A to point B at times, they were so manufactured for pointless drama.
But, for all that, I still cared, damnit. Kami is pretty damn likable, even when she's being annoying, and I kinda care about this world and how things come out.
As for the other characters, I liked how some of their stories were fleshed out and they became a bit more rounded, but I really wish Jared could be more of a person. In this story we have sort of the reverse of what we see in too many stories, where the girl falls in love and her whole life becomes about this other person. Jared is that way in this story. The good thing is that instead of being portrayed as super romantic, Kami realizes this is unhealthy and wants to help him care more about and live for himself, and not for her. So that was kinda nice.
As to the plot, the battle continues between the Lynburns, with the non-sorcerers being caught in the middle, and pretty much disdained by both sides. Kami and her Scoobys are working to find what they can do to help while constantly being dismissed by Lillian, but determined to find a way to help regardless.
Most of this is spent doing research, and, even then, there seemed to be more sitting around and discussing what to do than actually doing anything. We're repeatedly told time is running out, but the sense of urgency didn't really filter through.
In many ways, this book suffers from many middle-of-trilogy-books, where it's more about setting up the third book than doing much on its own. (I'm assuming/hoping this is a trilogy.)
Like I said, I liked it, but it was frustrating. I think this one has to go on the guilty-pleasures shelf, for being one of those books I like almost despite myself. (less)
This story picks up straight away where the first book leaves off, almost like you just turned the page. This is good in some ways, as I hate belab...more3.5
This story picks up straight away where the first book leaves off, almost like you just turned the page. This is good in some ways, as I hate belabored reminder chapters, but it also took me a second to remember what was happening at the end of the first book and reset myself in the scheme of things. There were enough reminders that I was able to job my notoriously crap memory, though, so that's good.
All-in-all, my thoughts are kind of the same as with the first - it's a fun, frothy book, not as good as Hieber's other series, Strangley Beautiful, and my biggest issue is the constraints of the first person narrative as well as the fact that things didn't seem to really progress much in this book.
The first person narrative makes it so that when our fated couple has to part, we get Jonathon's story via letters. Unfortunately this leads to a bit of telling over showing, and makes those parts just not quite so interesting.
And, from Natalie's perspective, we're once again sort of left going in circles of her fears and doubts, reassurances, back to fears and doubts, to reassurances, so on and so forth.
Also, some of their interactions and the dialogue, in general, was just sort of awkward and jarring. I mean, I allow some leeway for the purposeful floridness, but at times it was just too forced.
And, lastly, as I said, I don't feel like much progressed in this story. There was a lot of travelling, only to turn around and go back where we came from. (And, speaking of travelling, cross-Atlantic journies seem to go awfully quickly in this story.) And while we're in a sort of life or death struggle, I didn't feel much in the way of suspense - though the bit at the end in the hospital was good.
I just sort of wish the relationship stuff could be more settled, so that the focus was more on the dastardly schemes of the Society and all that, and less on Natalie's silly twitterings.
Overall, though, it's a fun little story, I liked the gothic touches, and I'll definitely pick the next up at some point.(less)
Ok, I know I probably say this a lot. And I know that first person isn't my favorite narrative style, and I'm probably just biased or whatever...
I really think this book/series would benefit from being written in third person limited.
Because the most annoying parts of the book are Alina's internal monologues and the whangst. And in third person limited you could still get the crux and impact of Alina's inner dilemmas, without dwelling on them quite. so. much.
Also, Mal's still really annoying. I thought he would be better at the start of the book, but as the book progressed, the whole overbearing jealousy thing grated. I mean, there's something wrong when you're still rooting for the evil guy over the "love of your life" character. (Or maybe I just have issues... I dunno... )
Of course, it also suffered from the whole "these problems could be resolved if you people would *talk* to each other" thing.
Basically - all the staple problems of many YA books with romance elements.
BUT - (yes, another but - and capitalized!)
Wangsty, drama bullshit aside, I kinda really like story.
I mean, leaving aside the stuff I mentioned in my review for the first book, like how the Russian elements are really sort of superficial and all - the world is actually kinda cool. In this book we're introduced to a different kind of magic - a really bad kind. (Ok, so they refer to Grisha powers as 'Small Science', or whatever, and not as magic... but it's still totally magic... well, at least the Summoner stuff is. The Artificer stuff does have some scientific elements behind it.)
In this book we meet Sturmhond, privateer and rogue, with a secret. That secret being (view spoiler)[he's actually the young prince and looking to take over the throne from his lazy and wasteful elder brother (hide spoiler)].
Alina returns to Ravka - (not a spoiler, it's in the blurb) - and has to learn to harness her powers to overcome to Darkling and his new powers. But will she be able to wield the power without being corrupted by it?
The world stuff, the war stuff, even some of the personal 'demon battling' stuff - I'm totally on board with this shit, and I really enjoyed it.
Now, if we could just stop focusing so much on the stupid romance drama and wangsty bullshit, this would be a freaking awesome series.
Ah well, I doubt it's gonna go away... but, luckily, there's enough good stuff in the book to make me look forward to the final installment in the trilogy.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
Based on the mostly 4 & 5 star ratings and gushing reviews, I'm definitely in the minority on this one, but I just had a hard time getting into...more2.5
Based on the mostly 4 & 5 star ratings and gushing reviews, I'm definitely in the minority on this one, but I just had a hard time getting into it.
Maybe part of it was disappointed expectations. When I first heard about this book I was all geared up to love it. I mean, I like Tanith and I always like when the villains - even villains you're hoping will end back up on the good side - get a bit more depth to their characters.
And we did learn more about Tanith, specifically her upbringing and being trained as an assassin and then giving that up to become a mercenary, of sorts, and then a bounty hunter. Basically, Tanith before we ever meet her in Skulduggery.
And those bits were interesting and, honestly, if that was the whole of the story I probably would've rated this higher.
But those bits were just interludes in the story of the Maleficent Seven - a group that Tanith puts together in order to track down 4 weapons - God-killers - because she's seen a vision of Darquesse and she, or the Remnant within her, wants to help bring about that destruction.
Against them is a team of seven of the good guys, lead by Dexter Vex, who are also after the weapons, but to secure their use against Darquesse.
And so, basically, we get a lot of scheming, fighting, chasing from both sides - rinse, wash, repeat.
The good guys were hard to root for because they basically seemed kind of inept. Valkyrie and Skulduggery aren't in the book at all, mentioned only in passing, and I almost feel like they couldn't be in the book because we couldn't have a story in which our two main heros would be quite as blundering as our good guys were.
In some ways, it was like a typical story of this kind where the bad guys are pretty inept, but at least you want them to sort of be inept because you want the good guys to win. But, in this story, you'd almost have to root for Tanith and Co. because, well, they are the protagonists, in a way... but I kept wanting them to fail.
There are some stories written from the villains perspective that makes them more sympathetic, or likable, or where you get into their heads and at least sort of understand where they're coming from. But Remnant Tanith is just a psychopath and so is Billy-Ray. I kinda liked some of the rest of the villain group - it was cool to see Spring-Heeled Jack and Black Annis again, for instance, but they never seemed to be used to their full capacity and then, well...
That was one thing. On at least two occassions Tanith went into retrieve the weapon herself and I kept thinking - why did we even both putting together a team? They were all involved in the last encounter, for the most part, so there is that.
But, anyway... kind of a lackluster story in which I kept hoping the main characters would fail and/or that the 'good guys' would be more competent and at least put up a bit of a fight.
I did like the background on Tanith, and I liked the ending, and the rest was "ok". (less)
It's one of those epilogues which is really a hook for the next book and this tactic sort of annoys me a lot...more3.5
Oh my gods, the ending of this book...
It's one of those epilogues which is really a hook for the next book and this tactic sort of annoys me a lot of the time but I've been waiting for this particular hook to take shape for ages, and now I'm all wriggling for the next damn book!
Only two more to go in the series, if Landy sticks to the plan. And, to be honest, as much as I do enjoy the books, generally, I'm glad that there is an end in sight because I don't know how much longer the formula can play out.
Valkyrie and Skulduggery are both sort of overpowered at this point, at least when they let themselves tap into their alter-egos, which they always say they can't do but then ya know they're going to, because the only way to make things interesting is to ramp up the bad guys to be even more overpowered.
The fight scenes have sort of gotten anti-climactic for me. I mean, there's rarely any real tension and it's not just because of the overpowered thing but because everyone who doesn't die is pretty much back to normal in the next chapter. There never feels like there's any real stakes, on a personal level. And there should be. I mean, with all the internal struggles with their dark sides, and saving the world and shit, there really should feel like the stakes are huge...
But - that hook. I gotta say, I'm really curious to see how that's gonna turn out.
But aside from the hope from future gratification, it's not like this book was bad or anything. The best part continues to be the humor. And while, in the past, I sometimes felt like there was a lot of humor at the start and then it faded as things got serious, in this book the wry one-liners and banter were well played throughout the whole story.
And, in a lot of ways, it's the humor and the character interactions which keeps me reading.
The pacing is a bit uneven, with lots of time spent on something and the skipping ahead without a lot of rhyme or reason. Especially the ends of battles seemed very abrupt, and then we'd jump ahead a bit.
Overall, though, this was one of the better of the series, I think.
One last thing - this series has always been pretty violent but as the characters, both main and villain, get more and more overpowered, the violence level is ramping up a lot, too. So you've been warned, for those who get upset about such things - especially in a younger series.
There's still not much in the way of gore - more the typical action-movie level violence.
That said, one thing that's always kind of bothered me isn't the violence, really, but the lack of repurcussions - or even shock waves. Like I said earlier, someone could come to the brink of death but, as long as they don't actually die, they're up and about in a chapter or two.
Even worse, even when people are dying it's treated with a sort of sad inevitability, but there's never any real reflection or, well, trauma or anything.
It's one of the reasons why I don't feel like there are a lot of real stakes in this series, and one thing which keeps the characters from being entirely believable and/or relatable. I mean, Valkyrie is kinda funny and badass and whatnot... but I'm not sure I actually like her, ya know?
After 7 books and however many hundreds of pages, I would like a bit more depth and development instead of the few strands of character just rehashed over and over.
I mean, I like the series. I enjoy it. But I think I could love it, given the chance, but it just doesn't quite make it.
But, anyway -
Two more books to go. Maybe all my dreams will come true? ;)(less)
I've mentioned for the last two, and I'll say it again, that these new color editions are faboo! (Yes, I said faboo. Deal with it.)
The color just adds so much more dimension to the already interesting artwork, and I'm really loving these new editions.
That said, this story, again, felt a bit rushed. I liked the story, overall, but sometimes I wish Naifeh would just slow down and develop things a bit more. But I enjoyed the visit to the Twilight realm, and felt so bad for poor Connie at the end.
I think this installment might suffer a bit from a lack of Uncle A, though his bits, small as they were, did live up to his awesomeness.
A lot of people say the first book in this series sort of feels like Supernatural - and while I've only seen a few episodes of that show, I can gr...more3.25
A lot of people say the first book in this series sort of feels like Supernatural - and while I've only seen a few episodes of that show, I can grok it.
That said, I would say this one feels a bit more like Buffy, as Thomas and Caramel are even bigger parts of the story, and it kind of felt like a little Scooby gang. Also, Gideon sort of was like Giles and the Order of Blah Blah Blah was like the Watcher's Council. There were some part of this I liked (Thomas and Caramel, though mostly Thomas), but I felt the whole secret occult order was a bit hackneyed, and those parts got draggy.
That aside - overall I think this one felt more like a ghost story, whereas the first one felt more like a monster story. I mean, sure, Anna was a ghost and all - but the ghosts in this book weren't like ghosts. They were too solid, for one thing, and dispatched with a knife? I mean, even a magical knife, it was always a little weird for me.
In this book, though, Anna is sort of haunting Cas, and he has to try to figure out how to communicate with her and what she wants and how he can help. All very ephemeral kind of stuff... you know, like a ghost story. :)
All that said, I didn't quite like this one as much as the first... mostly because of those aforementioned draggy bits. And also because things kinda kept going in circles, with people having the same conversations and doubts and things, and Cas's insane "I know I shouldn't trust this person, but I do" thing, along with his constant dithering, was really grating on me.
But, in the end, it was mostly worth it.
Now, I know a lot of people don't like the end. And I can kind of see why. I mean, it's one of those things... it's not a matter of good or bad writing, imo, but just whether people were happy with how it came out, or not. Whether it met their expectations, or not.
I can't really say that much without getting into spoilers, so I'll just leave it by saying that I thought it was really fitting. I mean, (view spoiler)[it could've never really worked. It just couldn't. And while there was a part of me that was expecting they'd pull something out of their hats - like Anna would become human when she came back, or, hell, at one point I was expecting Cas to die and be okay with it 'cause he was with Anna, but, really, I think, deep down, I expected something like this.
Because, as I said, it couldn't work. But this way Anna gets her happily ever after and, even though Cas doesn't, he at least knows that she's free, and she's happy and, really, I don't think you could honestly expect more than that, given the givens.
And I like to think that, someday, when Cas does die, that he'll take the place of the dream-Cas in Anna's heaven, and they will be reunited.
But, until then, there's this bittersweet ending, which is beautiful and sad and which left me both smiling and teary and kinda at peace with the whole thing...
I'm also glad that it is a conclusion. I mean, not that I wouldn't've liked the series to continue, but if it is just gonna be a duology, then I'm glad the ending was settled and not having Anna come back and her still being a ghost and them being together but you knowing, in the back of your mind, that it'll never really work out in the long run... (hide spoiler)]
But, before all that, there's the big climactic battle which, honestly, I thought I was a bit rushed. I mean, it was satisfying and filled with jujubes and all, which is cool, but after sort of belaboring some of the 'fruitless searching' bits, I think she could've lingered on the actual fight for awhile.
Anyway, overall, I liked it, and I think that it was a fitting conclusion to the story.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
I just finished this today at lunch. I liked it - I think I'll go 3.5 stars, though I can't decide if I want to round up or down. Possibly down.
At fir...moreI just finished this today at lunch. I liked it - I think I'll go 3.5 stars, though I can't decide if I want to round up or down. Possibly down.
At first I wasn't sure I was going to like it. I was expecting more of a horror story, and less of a sort of urban fantasy, and I definitely wasn't expecting the sort of romance angle. (Yeah, I must've skipped half the blurb or something.)
So take the fact that it wasn't what I was expecting, add that in with the fact that the reddish-brown lettering on the yellowish paper was killing my eyes - yes, I imagine it's meant to be like dried blood. Didn't help it not hurt my eyes - and compound that with the fact it was a bit of a slow start, and I honestly wasn't digging it at first.
But, eventually, my eyes got used to it, and I was able to be brought around to it being more a urban fantasy sort of thing, and I tried not to think too hard about certain aspects... and I started liking it.
The characters grew on me, even though their reactions were a bit unrealistic and/or annoying at times, and I started sort of rooting for Cas and Anna (though I couldn't stop wondering how Anna is so physical? And it could just be written off as her being uber-powerful and stuff, but the other ghosties seemed to have it, too, which didn't make a whole lot of sense.)
Anyway - one thing I really liked was when they helped Anna by (view spoiler)[dealing with her fetter instead of killing her (hide spoiler)]. I was a little irritated with Cas, to be honest. I mean, I know that that's his deal and all but, come on...
But, overall, I got into the story and the characters and while it wasn't really ever what I would call scary or anything, there were definitely some tense bits, especially at the end. My heart was thumping and everything. ;)
I also liked the representation of Wicca and magic and stuff. It wasn't all fires from your fingertips and lightning bolts. And I liked that it wasn't dismissive of kitchen and herbal witches, which a lot of these kind of stories tend to be. (It was one thing that kinda irritated me about Buffy, to be honest.)
That said, there were still a few things that bugged me.
I didn't think the action scenes were very well written. I had a hard time following what was meant to be going on at times, and it didn't always make sense. It was especially annoying when I had to go back and try to work out the logistics of things in my head, which pulled me out of the tenseness of the moment.
Also, I wish more was explained about the Anna and Cas thing. Like (view spoiler)[why could she not kill him. What was it about him that was different? And aside from him being impressed with her awesomeness, what was different about her for him, too. (hide spoiler)] There was a bit too much of an instant attraction thing going on, and it never really was adequately explained.
And I know I already mentioned it - but what's with the ghosts being so physical? I was half expecting (view spoiler)[Cas' hand to sort of not be able to touch Anna, and them have that unfulfillable longing thing going on... and while that's still there, for other reasons, it just seemed weird to me that, aside from being dead, Anna was pretty much just a person. (hide spoiler)]
But, like I said, enjoyable overall, and I've already put the next book on hold at the library.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
The difference in the coloring between the original and these udpated versions is just astounding.
That aside - ya know, I...moreFirst and foremost - *drools*
The difference in the coloring between the original and these udpated versions is just astounding.
That aside - ya know, I'd kind of forgotten how twisted some of this story is. The other day I was discussing "dark fantasy" with my husband, and asked him if he thought Sandman was a good example of such. Incredulously, with that "like you ever have to ask" kind of look, he just says, "Yes".
And yes it is. This is definitely the original kind of dark fantasy - that which lies in the hinterlands between horror and fantasy.
And I like it. :>
It's also interesting, as it always is, when you reread a story and pick up on all the little bits of foreshadowing and stuff that you missed first time around.
I think, though, that my favorite from this set is 'Dream of a Thousand Cats'.
Little one, I would like to see anyone — prophet, king or God — persuade a thousand cats to do anything at the same time.
This is followed by some other "stand-alones" - 'Midsummer's Night Dream' and 'Men of Good Fortune'.
Hopefully I'll be getting the next Volume for my b-day or Xmas. **hint, hint**(less)
Once again, it’s not a bad book, but I keep expecting something more from it. There are moments of real cleverness, wry humor and dry wit, and these moments really shine out.
There are other moments, however, where the humor feels more forced than anything, and where everything sort of just falls flat. More than that, though, is the fact that while the devil carnival is not exactly a unique premise, was still more original than the locked door mystery of this book, complete with expositionary explanations of what happened that aren’t really hinted until the big reveal.
And it just took a good while to get there. The set-up was slow, especially when we were first meeting everyone and setting the scene, and I found myself dozing off more than once while trying to read.
It did pick up, and I’ll say the intrigue was handled well enough, the action, though sort of restricted to the end, was done pretty well, and the inclusion of Leonie was a more than welcome addition. I also enjoyed the growth of Cabal, after his getting his soul back in the last book. He’s still pretty amoral and all, but with the occasional twinge of conscious which makes things interesting.
Not bad, overall, but far from great. I may continue with the series, but I may not purchase the next in the series, favoring getting in from the library instead. I don’t see much reread potential if things continue as they currently are.(less)
I'm not quite sure what I expected this book to be like when I picked it up - maybe something a bit like The Night Circus, but with Vaudeville ins...more3.75
I'm not quite sure what I expected this book to be like when I picked it up - maybe something a bit like The Night Circus, but with Vaudeville instead. But, really, the Vaudeville aspect is sort of a mask for the deeper story which, at its core, is about the power of Creation versus the forces of Destruction.
I have to admit that, for most of the book, I figured I was going to rate it 3-stars. I was interested enough in these strange people that comprise the Troupe, but none of them really resonated with me. George was annoying, Silenus a git, Kingsley always seemed a bit thin, Collete just angry, and Franny, well, Franny. Stanley was cool, though - almost a Silent Bob sort of character, but with more silence.
But I was interested in the magic and the world and the ideas, so I persevered, even through a slumping bit around the 1/3 mark where things were so focused on the little inner dramas of the Troupe that my interest started flagging, and I was wondering if it might even be a 2 star book.
I wanted more of the weird sort of magical realism, more of the search for the Song, more explanation from Silenus and less "stop asking questions", and more understanding from George, who we're told is intelligent and clever but is rather oblivious and needs everything spelled out for him all the time. (I had to keep reminding myself George was only 16, 'cause he sort of came across as older, maybe early 20s, except for being so bone-headed much of the time.)
I also wanted a bit more than the sort of standard writing, some level of lyricism to fit the concepts being portrayed would've been nice, or, even, a fuller feel of the time period, which I felt was kind of lacking.
But a little more than halfway through things started picking up and about 3/4 through shit got real. When characters I didn't think I really cared about started being put in peril, I found my heart racing a bit... I found myself hoping for a happy ending, and not sure I was going to get one. As it was, I'm still not sure... though I can live with bittersweet. It is the way of life, after all...(less)
For a lot of the first half of this book I've had the same problem I've had a lot with this series - i.e. not remembering what happened last time a...more3.5
For a lot of the first half of this book I've had the same problem I've had a lot with this series - i.e. not remembering what happened last time and, thus, having a hard time following what the hell was going on.
It didn't help that it was jumping all over the place in time, and things kept changing...
This was doubly irritating because there's actually a summary thing at the start of the book, but it neglected to reference a really fucking important person in this book, so I was like "Huh? WTF?"
About mid-way, though, things started to become more clear, and a lot was explained. Not just explained but, in the end, summed up.
See - what I didn't know going in is that this seems to be the last in the series. And the epilogue - because Fig likes epilogues and, as she says, too bad if you don't - wrapped up all the various lose ends of people who sort of went off and were never heard from again and their ilk.
The bump to 4 stars (instead of down to 3) comes mostly because I liked the ending. I'm glad that we finally got an explanation, of sorts, as to what the hell was going on this whole time, and I did like the epilogue bits - even if I thought it didn't feel more organic and more like "Ok, we're ending this now, so wrap up time".
Also, I liked the bit after the epilogue. (The epi-epilogue? See, the epilogue was the end of Fig's tale, but not the end of the House's tale... )
Three groups of people, in some untold future time, try to figure out the House - where it came from, and what happened to it. Cain and Abel make one last enjoyable appearance, and the ending was totally fitting, considering the name of the game.
This is definitely a series I want to go back and reread straight through at some point, to fill in a lot of those missing gaps in my memory. Until then it's hard to pin down whether the story, itself, was jumpy in places, or whether it truly was just me.
In which Courtney learns that the darkness which they might fight comes not from the Night Things so much as from humanity, and that while Uncle A is...moreIn which Courtney learns that the darkness which they might fight comes not from the Night Things so much as from humanity, and that while Uncle A is the badassesiest of all badasses, he is, alas, not indomitable against said darkness.
Courtney grows a bit - perhaps a bit more cynical, if that's possible, but also a bit wiser - and there's a fair bit of pathos involved.
And it's nice, though a bit sad, to see Aloysius' more fragile side.
The parents are mostly absent in this installment, which is a blessing. While I know they're meant to be clueless and annoying, they are really annoying and their presence grates, so it was nice that they were hardly around for this installment.
Also, as I said with the last of these special editions, I am loving the colorized versions of these stories. It adds so much more depth to the art, and to the world. ♥
I had already read this book in the original black & white, but when I saw they had released a color edition I squeeled in delight and just had to...moreI had already read this book in the original black & white, but when I saw they had released a color edition I squeeled in delight and just had to have it - and my wonderful husband obliged me. :>
First, for the art, the colors do wonderful things. One of the, erm, issues with Naifeh's art is that a lot of it is similar and I sometimes find it hard to differentiate things. The color both helps create depth and detail, as well as just bringing the images to life. 4.5 stars.
As to the stories - some of them were more abrupt than I remembered but I still, overall, really like the world and the characters. Well, by characters I mean Courtney and Uncle A. Everyone else kind of sucks - but that's sort of the point. But I wish there was a bit more to some of the stories - they could stand to be longer, to develop more. The stories I'll give a 3 - 3.5, depending.
I will say I'd forgotten how dark the stories were. I don't mean the scary house, and magic and goblins and things - those I remembered. I mean when (view spoiler)[Courtney's 'friend' in the first story gets eaten, and the narrator just says something like "And, well, no one missed him much, sad to say, and Courtney did have other things on her mind".
Also, in the story with the changeling baby, Courtney fails to save the baby and Uncle A is like "These things happen, Courtney. I wouldn't let it bother you too much."
(Please note I'm paraphrasing, as I don't have the book in front of me... ) (hide spoiler)]
So, yeah, it's not that I'd minded or anything, and it adds a level of cynical reality to the stories - I was just sort of surprised that I'd forgotten... which I guess, in a way, is rather fitting. Heh.
Anyway - I really enjoy this series, and I'm very happy they've gotten a full color make-over. ^_^["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)