**spoiler alert** I don't usually write reviews, but I'm trying to get started. One of the reasons I wanted to write a review for this book, though, w...more**spoiler alert** I don't usually write reviews, but I'm trying to get started. One of the reasons I wanted to write a review for this book, though, was because I was rather surprised at all of the negative reviews... not just that they were negative, but how vehement in their negativity they often are. I have to admit I was rather surprised, considering how much I enjoyed this book.
Anyway, I think the biggest reasons that people didn't like this book were either that they were expecting something more like the original Oz, or because they were expecting something like the musical. Actually I refuse to see the musical because of changes I've heard they made to it - including cutting out all of the satire, intrigue, affairs, and giving it a happy ending! (I still can't fathom how that's even possible).
I went into this book with no expectations, having picked it up on a whim one day in the bookstore after I saw it's cover. I gathered, from the write-up on the back cover, that it wasn't going to be a book of lighthearted whimsy - and that's why I liked it. I sympathized with Elphaba, for I know well what it's like to have ideals and hopes and dreams, only to fall far short of the mark. I liked the satire and social commentary - which is another reason I love Discworld, for those who also like satire in a fantasy setting. And I loved the affair with Fiyero, as it showed her as a woman with personal desires - and not just issues and causes...
So, in short, I would recommend this book to those who like things a little dark and heavy, with satire and commentary, and with focuses on characters and situations, as opposed to necessarily being plot-based... And I would suggest not going in expecting anything light-hearted, whimsical, or frivolous (except when Glinda's in the room ;) )
5-stars on first reading 4-stars on second reading(less)
For some reason, I kept putting off reading this, even though Fables is, and continues to be, one of my favorite on-going series....moreWow. That was... wow.
For some reason, I kept putting off reading this, even though Fables is, and continues to be, one of my favorite on-going series. But I guess I was a little tired of the focus being on the Wolf kids so much, so I was a bit leery of picking this one up.
But I'm so glad I did 'cause it was very... surprising. And a bit sad, both because of what happens but also because the discarded toy things always kind of gets me - and then when we learn their stories, eesh - but mostly surprising in the "omg, did that really just happen" kind of way.
Leave it to Willingham to twist things up even more.
I also really liked the second story, the little mini-story we get at the end of all (or most) of the trades - a story of Bigby, back in the old days, as written by a grown up Ambrose.
Bigby has always been my favorite character - I mean, who doesn't love Bigby - and it's always great to see more of him. I especially liked how the mini-story tied in with the Toyland story, with the issues of fate and destiny.
Anyway, while some of the episodes have left me feeling a bit meh, this one has renewed my slightly lagging faith in the series, even if it continues to focus on the kids. ;)(less)
I'm not really sure what to say about this one. I gave myself a day or so to mull over it, but it didn't really help.
I will say that I think that my unfamiliarity with the source material worked against me with this one. While I do feel I was able to get the story, overall, without that familiarity, I think it would've added a layer of understanding and appreciation that I just don't have without it.
That said, it did instill in me a curiosity to go off and find the original story/stories and learn more about them, so there's that.
The whole story reads a bit like a dream.
The prologue starts as off later in the story, and then we go back and see how Marya got to that point. It starts off reading and feeling like a fairy tale - which is fitting considering that's what it is. And it keeps that feeling throughout the story. There's a level of surreality to the whole thing which really works for it.
But, both adding to and owing to that dream-like quality, I sometimes felt like I wasn't really grasping what was going on. Or why. People's motivations aren't always clear, and I sometimes felt like we had to piece together the missing bits. Again, this works to add to the dream-like state of it, but sometimes left me feeling floundering in a not so good way.
Overall, I liked it. I liked the dark sensuality of it, the idea of control and the passions invoked throughout the story. I didn't always agree with it, or necessarily grok it, but I liked it. But even though I liked it, I kept sort of wanting more from it, too.
ETA: Also, it was a bit slow and repetitive in places. In some parts the repetition was on purpose - the cycle of birds, of traveling to and from the place - and, overall, there's the whole theme of the constancy of stories and how things do get repeated.
And sometimes it worked. But, sometimes, it just dragged and I was like "ok, I get it, let's move on!"
On thing I will say is that I did like this ever so much better than The Secret History of Moscow which I recently read and which was my first introduction to Koschei (there spelled Koschey) and to other elements of Russian folklore like rusalka and domovoi and so on. This book so much better captures, to me, the essence of fairy-tales, as well as evokes the history and people of Russia that it seeks to portray.
Even though there's a part of me that still doesn't really know how I feel about this book (bouncing, as I do, between 3 and 4 stars as I write this review), I would recommend it - but not to everyone. To people who like what almost amounts to a dark exploration of the soul, of longing and passion, of life and death, in a way which is not straight-forward and is more felt than thought... To them, I would recommend this book.
As for myself - I plan on reading it again some day. I'm very curious to see how it comes across on a second read. (less)
We're back to the goings on at the Farm, and Mister Dark at Fabletown, which is good after the diversion of the last book.
That said, not much happens in this book, which is very much a first act sort of thing. There was some interesting character stuff, though, with Totenkinder taking on her true form, which I'm dying to learn more about, and Ozma being a right manipulative little thing. And the stuff with Biffkin and Baba Yaga was kind of fun and funny.
And then, just as things are getting interesting - cliff-hanger! D'oh!
Then there's a two-book set back in Frog's world, which was interesting, but ultimately felt like another diversion.
That said, the artwork is still excellent, and I am curious to see how things'll turn out.(less)
This wasn't one of my favorite Fables, mostly because Jack is such a big part of it and I've never liked Jack, which also means I've never read the Ja...moreThis wasn't one of my favorite Fables, mostly because Jack is such a big part of it and I've never liked Jack, which also means I've never read the Jack spin-off, which made it feel a little like playing catch-up since the main villians in this story are from that book and not from Fables. But they did a fairly good job at recapping everything, so it's not like we were left completely in the dark. That said, I didn't find the Literals all that interesting, and Mr. Dark, our Fables villian of the arc, was left barely mentioned and used as a minor plot device.
That said, I liked the bits with the Genres, the tongue-in-cheek and good-natured mocking of the various genres, especially "the twins", Sci-Fi and Fantasy. And the part where Bigby rips them apart is, alone, worth the cost of admission, as it were. Had me laughing for minutes.
So while not my favorite, still an enjoyable addition.(less)
I have to say that I was a little worried that the series was continuing after the war arc ended. (I was also a little meh about volume...moreWow. Just wow.
I have to say that I was a little worried that the series was continuing after the war arc ended. (I was also a little meh about volume 11. It was all denoument, really, with nothing really at stake... or so it seemed.)
I was more than a little pleasantly surprised with this offering, which sets up new arcs, new conflicts and, arguably, higher stakes. If they handle it right, and don't try to drag it out too long or let it fizzle out, then this new arc could be even better - and that's saying something for a series which I think is one of the best currently ongoing comics currently on the market.(less)
So I finished the story part of this last night (though I'm still browsing through the additional material stuff), and I ended up really liking it.
Act...moreSo I finished the story part of this last night (though I'm still browsing through the additional material stuff), and I ended up really liking it.
Actually, I found the ending very poignant and bitter sweet... touching and sad and beautiful, and it elevated an otherwise 3.5 star book to a full 4 stars.
I will say that I enjoyed the story pretty much throughout. I really like fairy tale re-tellings, and I like the way they were often put on their head in this story, but also used to both teach David lessons and also as a way of showing the reader the progression of David's growth.
Like all fairy tales (at least the ones I know) - it had its gruesome parts and its horror, but also its underlying themes and moral lessons. In this book we watch David mature into a young man, learning to deal with the pain of loss and grief, and finding a way to appreciate life and what he has in the moment instead of trying to reclaim what he lost.
He overcomes his fears and jealousies to become a man of honor and fortitude, and while his life was not without horror and tragedy - for what life is? - he manages to persevere and more.
All that said, I kept hoping for a bit more substance or lyricism or something. After some thought I decided that the simplistic writing style fits the fairy tale motif and also the fact that it's from David's perspective (and the writing did seem to develop a bit, too, as the book progressed. Either that or I just got used to it.)
But there were definite times where I felt it stayed a bit too on the surface of things and was hoping for more - which is why it was more of a 3.5 half for most of it.
As to the fairy tales themselves, I particularly liked the bit with Snow White and the dwarves, and also the parts with Roland. I couldn't help but think of and compare the stories to the originals - though, in Roland's case I thought more of the Dark Tower saga than of the poem, since I don't think I've actually read the whole poem.
There were definitely some interesting parallels there, what with the world moving on and the quest for the tower and all, but I think those are bits from the poem. (I couldn't help but envision Roland in the same way I think of him from the Dark Tower, though.)
(Speaking of envisioning people, I kept 'hearing' the Crooked Man's voice in my head as the Dark One/Mr. Gold/Rumplestiltskin from 'Once Upon a Time'.)
One thing I was uncomfortable with was the sort of negative view of sexuality in the book - homo and heterosexual. I understand that a lot of this is both a reflection of the time period and also of David's immature understanding of such things, but it did make me a bit tetchy from time to time that sexuality was often portrayed in such a negative light.
*** Some Spoilerage ****
Anyway - I also really like the questions that the reader is left with.
How much of what happened really happened? Did David actually wander into a magical realm, or did it happen in his head while he was in a coma? And how much does it even matter?
I like to think it's a weird blending of both. After all, we are told that people from our world who travel into that other world bring things with them, so it's always been built, a little, on imagination. But I like to think it's real, in a way, too. Perhaps, in all the ways that matter, it's even more real than real...
What popped into my head after it was over and I wondered to myself about such things was Dumbledore's line from towards the end of Deathly Hallows: "Of course it's happening inside your head, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?"(less)
An interesting telling of the Snow White story from the Queen's perspective. Shows her as a loving and lovely young woman and her descent into jealous...moreAn interesting telling of the Snow White story from the Queen's perspective. Shows her as a loving and lovely young woman and her descent into jealousy, vanity and madness. A decent story - but I expected a bit more depth, I suppose.
I'm a bit torn on the language used. It was very simplistic, like a child's storybook. At first it bothered me, but then I decided it sort of fit the style of the story. I'm also not entirely thrilled with the obsession with beauty - it basically amounts to the notion that you're nothing if you're not beautiful. Of course, beauty and obsession with it plays a big role in the original story, so you can't really get away from that.
I suppose, though, it goes back to the aforementioned lack of depth. I prefer retellings that put different spins on things, but there was none of that here. I guess, though, it's not really a retelling as much as a PoV shift.
All in all it's not bad for what it is. As I said, though, I was just wanting something a bit more.
ETA: There was an interesting little twist at the end which left the field open for what might happen down the road.(less)
I'm just going to write one review for this whole arc, because I read them all within a 24 hour time frame, and there's no way I can try and remember...moreI'm just going to write one review for this whole arc, because I read them all within a 24 hour time frame, and there's no way I can try and remember where one book left off and the next started, so...
This is a companion story to Alice in the Country of Hearts. At the start of this story, instead of Alice choosing someone at the end, it assumes that Alice stayed in Wonderland but hadn't fallen in love. So we're at the end of the Hearts, but with a different ending...
This particular story, as the name suggests, follows the budding relationship between Boris (the Cheshire Cat) and Alice.
It was a cute story, but also frustrating and a bit embarrassing. Frustrating because the represenations of teenage romance are a bit too stereotypical... and embarrassing because I couldn't help but be reminded of my own romantic fumbligns, as it were.
Luckily, though, it's not just the romance stuff, as there's also stuff going down the the Faceless rising up to take on the Hatters, and Alice being used as a pawn in that particular game.
I did like that Alice because a bit more forceful by the end of the story, and I liked this arc because I liked Boris from the first story and think she should've totally ended up with him instead of (view spoiler)[Blood (hide spoiler)] anyway.
And, of course, as they're mangas, they're very quick and addictive. I read all 7 books in this arc in a 24 hour time frame, as I would come to the end of one only to be left with a sort of cliffhanger and get immediately sucked into the next.
Of course, that was also a bit weird because some of the books were half part of the Clover story, and half part of a side-story, which also involved Alice and Boris - but showing the starting of their relationship, which would've happened during Hearts if Hearts had gone that way.
It's not really that hard to follow as long as you understand that Hearts and Clover are all sort of alternate versions of the same story. It's sort of like extended 'choose your own adventure' - which makes sense since it's all based on a video game, anyway, in which you would do just that.
Enjoyable series, though I'm a bit hesitant to read some of the other alternatives since I like Alice with Boris. I'll probably read them anyway, though, 'cause they are pretty addictive.
Definitely gotta go on the guilty pleasures shelf, though. ;) ["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)
A nice entry in the series, and it's good to be focusing on Mister Black again - and learning more about him. Some things are finally coming toge...more3 1/2
A nice entry in the series, and it's good to be focusing on Mister Black again - and learning more about him. Some things are finally coming together, at long last, but other bits seemed a bit anti-climactic after an intriguing set-up. I'm curious to see where it's going and how it'll all come out. (less)
Are the villains of the fairy tales we all know and love really as bad as they seem? How would things appear to be from their perspective?
That's the q...moreAre the villains of the fairy tales we all know and love really as bad as they seem? How would things appear to be from their perspective?
That's the question that this short story and poem collection seeks to answer - with varying degrees of success.
Overall I liked the stories well enough, but none of them really wowed me. It was an entertaining diversion, but I suppose I was something more than you could glean from a short story collection.
That said, some of the ones I liked the best were:
Wizard's Apprentice - Delia Sherman (ode to misanthropy) Up the Down Beanstalk: A Wife Remembers - Peter S. Beagle The Boy Who Cried Wolf - Holly Black (interesting variant, and had a touch of the macabre) Castle Othello - Nancy Farmer (an interesting blending of Othello and Bluebeard) Observing the Formalities - Neil Gaiman (the only poem in the collection I liked, and it may be my bias in liking the 'bad fairy' of Sleeping Beauty) The Cinderella Game - Kelly Link (which was the only one which managed to be sort of disturbing, which I think I was expecting more of)
Honorable mentions go to:
A Delicate Architecture - Catherine M. Valente (the story was interesting but just a touch too out there and motivations were weird) and Molly - Midori Snyder (The story was ok but the giants too stupid and Molly a bit too nasty)
So it didn't quite live up to expectations, but, as I said, a decent enough way to pass some time and, as evidenced by the fact that I read it in a few hours, it's a quick read.(less)
On one hand, I liked what the story did for certain characters - including the interesting goings on of Beast and Bliss (his and Beauty's child), t...more3.5
On one hand, I liked what the story did for certain characters - including the interesting goings on of Beast and Bliss (his and Beauty's child), the decision that Mr. North made, what it means for the future, and just various bits and bobs throughout the story. Plus the super-hero thing was kind of fun and goofy - and it was even cool to see Ozma act like a kid for a minute and relish in flying.
On the other hand the conclusion to the much built-up battle between the Fables and Mister Dark was anti-climactic to say the least. Of course, I don't think that every thread of that particular story is over (Mrs. Spratt, anyone?) - and it did lead to the thing with Mr. North which sets whole other things into motion... so...
While I would've liked more from the battle, I was satisfied, overall.(less)
Disclaimer: Received a free copy from author for review.
I was reading this last night, instead of during my workout as I had been doing, because it wa...moreDisclaimer: Received a free copy from author for review.
I was reading this last night, instead of during my workout as I had been doing, because it was later in the evening and I didn't want to start anything new. I had nearly 100 pages left, by my ebook count, so I wasn't expecting to finish it.
But then, suddenly, it was over.
See, what I didn't realize is that of the 250 pages listed on my nook, only 163 of them are actually story. The rest is author notes, discussions about character development, where the story came from, and a deconstruction of Villeneuve's original.
So the ending seemed rather abrupt. I mean, it's a fair ending and all that, but I expected more and, honestly, I would've liked more. Just more all around, really.
It's not a bad telling, though. It's interesting the way the chapters switch to different perspectives, and so you see not just Bella's perspective, or the Beast's, but also her father and step-mother and sisters. And it was nice to see them portrayed as regular people - not the typical fairy tale evil steps.
And it did have twists and turns, and whatnot, but I'm not sure how well it works as a return "to its origins as social commentary". There are some bits here and there - issues of race and xenophobia, issues of women as objects - but I didn't feel that they were really developed to the extent that the could've been.
Likewise, I felt the characters could've been developed more. Really I guess it comes down to the fact I was expecting a more fleshed out novel and got a novella instead.
Still, it's not bad and has enough of interest as a re-telling to be worth giving it a gander. And, hey, if nothing else, it is short. ;)
Overall probably a 2.5 bumped up to 3.
ETA: This story had popped into my head this morning, while I was thinking about another book and blurbs and things, and I think the blurb reveals too much of the tone of the book - especially the bit about how "not everyone will live happily ever after".
What could've been a shock or gut-punch type happenstance in the book instead was a foregone conclusion. The whole time I was reading it I just kept wondering how it would go wrong, and I think it lost a lot of impact that way.
I would recommend changing the blurb a bit to make it more ambiguous, or something,(less)
In the continuing tradition of this being a sort of 'choose your own adventure love interest', we once again visit the Country of Hearts in a version...moreIn the continuing tradition of this being a sort of 'choose your own adventure love interest', we once again visit the Country of Hearts in a version where Alice ends up with Blood - but on a different course than the original series.
I have to say I like it better than the Country of Hearts ending. This seemed less forced and made a bit more sense. And I do sort of like Alice with Blood - but I still prefer Boris.
Overall, this is a fun, quick little duology that focuses on Wonderland's own Mafia family, but it doesn't add that much new or different from the original series, and actually retreads a lot of the same ground, like discovering that (view spoiler)[Vivaldi is Blood's sister (hide spoiler)].
In a way, I would've preferred this story to have been incorporated in the original 6 books instead of being a separate venue.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
The on-going Bond-like stories of Cinderella - Fable, princess, spy.
This was an interesting little adventure, which some strange twists. Can't say too...moreThe on-going Bond-like stories of Cinderella - Fable, princess, spy.
This was an interesting little adventure, which some strange twists. Can't say too much without giving away spoilers, though, but, for my own memory: (view spoiler)[Cindy's enemy in this one is the mercenary Dorothy Gale. Yes, that Dorothy. There was various things from Oz in the book that I'm unfamiliar with - never having read the books, only seeing the movie. (hide spoiler)]
It was interesting, if a bit formulaic (though these things always are), but the real mind-fuck was the scene where (view spoiler)[Dorothy, using her Silver Slippers to disguise herself as a man, has sex with Cindy. (hide spoiler)]
This spin-off to Fables is, as the cover suggests, specifically about the ladies of the group.
I sort of have mixed feelings about it.
Overall I generally enjoyed the story, but it sort of bothers me that the first in an series focusing on the ladies has to be so focused on romance. I mean, not that I mind romance in general, and the stuff with Bigby and Snow has often been among the favorite parts of Fables for me... but it felt just a little too, well, stereotypical, I suppose.
'Cause, of course, a series for the ladies has to be all about twoo wuv and shit.
Though I suppose I can console myself that we'll always have Cinderella, our female Bond, kicking ass and taking names and, of course, bedding some fellas along the way...
But, anyway - I did like getting back to Briar Rose, who was left asleep - again - and who was then sort of waylaid from the story. We also meet Ali Babi, a bottle imp, and see Briar Rose's origin story for the first time. I liked the way that the incorporated the Sleeping Beauty story in and how it was woven into the current story.
I also enjoyed seeing more of the Ice Queen - though that's one of the areas I was conflicted on... On one hand it was nice to see a backstory for her, and more layers to her depths. On the other hand, I also kinda liked having her more badass...
Main story aside, there was the little vignette at the end, this one about the other Beauty and her Beast.
All I can say is "wtf?"
Um... well, I can certainly say it was a twist I didn't see coming, but, um... "WTF?"
Also, minor continuity issue - in the early days of Fables, Beasts changing ability was tied to Beauty and how she felt about him - i.e. when she was happy with him, he was the prince, and when she was cross with him, he turned into Beast. In this story, while it was set in the past, he seemed to have control over his change.