I usually try to give it longer - the unofficial rule I set was 35% - but I opened it to read today and was just like:
OtherCalling it quits at 11%.
I usually try to give it longer - the unofficial rule I set was 35% - but I opened it to read today and was just like:
Other reviews have detailed what they found wrong with the story. There's a lot of research into the time period, and info-dumpy paragraphs about said details, but the story - the characters - had no heart. No soul.
There was no *life* to the story. Just detail.
I've read too many reviews from people who finished which suggest that if this is an issue, it doesn't get better... so I'm just calling it quits, 'cause I give zero fucks about what's going on.
Some people I've seen have compared this book to something written by China Miéville. I'm inclined to agree. The difference is that they say it as a cSome people I've seen have compared this book to something written by China Miéville. I'm inclined to agree. The difference is that they say it as a compliment...
Of the few Mieville books I've read, I've had a similar reaction - he is more enamoured with weirdness for weirdnesses sake, to show how much cool shit he can think of, than to worry about putting that weirdness into a coherent, well-plotted or charactered book. So, in that way, I would say this has much in common with Mieville.
Of course, that also means there are moments of coolness. Of near brilliance, even, when an idea, or a poetical turn of phrase gets a light shined onto it. The climax of this story was definitely interesting, and kept me reading, and I was quite glad to see (view spoiler)[David (hide spoiler)] get some comeuppance... but, overall, the disparate puzzle pieces never quite seemed to gel.
And I do mean puzzle pieces. The group with which I read this book had a Q&A session with the author, and someone asked him about the changes in perspectives, and one particular choice - (view spoiler)[to have a bit from the perspective of a lion. (hide spoiler)]
The Dresden and Naga scenes came about as a side effect of the fact that I don't usually write stuff in the order it will be read. For instance, the Steve-goes-for-a-jog scene appears in the middle, but it was about the first thing I wrote. I wrote it up to the point where he was getting swarmed by the dogs, then moved on to something else. Later, when I circled back around to finish it, I had to figure out how to save him...
I read this Q&A after I'd finished the book and had a sort of "Ah-ha!" moment. Suddenly my feelings of why there were some cool parts in the book but it never felt like it came together as a coherent whole made sense to me.
Because it wasn't.
Which is why some of the plotting and character choices, to me, didn't make sense. I often found myself question characters reactions and motivations... and I was left with the answer with, "Well, that's what Hawkins needed them to do to get to the next piece he had constructed."
I dislike when stories have characters act in seemingly strange ways for the sake of moving the plot forward. I prefer where the plot comes organically from the characters acting in ways which seemed organic for those 'people' to act.
As for characters, I liked Steve and the lions.
Erwin seemed like a character you were meant to like, because he's all badass and devil-may-care and whatnot, but he seemed, to me, to be more someone with a perpetual chip on their shoulders full of posturing and gestures, and that's annoying in the long term.
Carolyn was interesting enough, though not particularly compelling.
I hated David, as I'm sure we're meant to.
Father was... interesting, moreso because (view spoiler)[we're lead to believe that despite how horrible he was, anything to replace him would be worse. Still, I felt like Carolyn forgave him too easily. The ending seems to suggest Father's cruelty was a necessary caldera, but I'm not sure I'm really buying it, all told. (hide spoiler)]
The others are somewhat interchangeable or forgettable. They only exist insofar as is relevant to the story. Several of the children and catalogues didn't seem to be mentioned at all after the initial introduction - because there was no point to them.
Again, from the author:
For the most part I didn't plan the catalogs out beforehand in any major way, just sort of let them evolve as the book took shape. It ended up being a real mess--when I was doing revisions I ended up with way more catalogs that had a least a brief mention than I had librarians.
(As I said earlier - it's all piecemeal, and it shows. That said, I'm not one who tends to be easily dazzled by shiny things, and so I may have honed in on the holes more than most people are likely to.)
Long story short, it was interesting and cool in parts (thus 2 stars instead of 1), but the whole is lesser than the sum of its parts.
I also didn't like the way that the climax happened and there were 100 pages left, and then we get a big long bit of exposition, and a set-up for a possible next installment. I think I'll pass, thanks.["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"]>...more
I'm not really sure what to say about this story. It's cute and fairly enjoyable, but the writing style was both simplistic and sort of herky-jerky2.5
I'm not really sure what to say about this story. It's cute and fairly enjoyable, but the writing style was both simplistic and sort of herky-jerky.
It read almost more like a TV treatment, giving a sketch outline of scenes and characters, instead of ever really delving into anything. It jumped from character to character, and a lot of times the action would happen off-page and be related from one character to another later.
It's also fairly forgettable. I mean, it's been a little over a week since I finished it, but I had to read other reviews to jog my memory about what the story was even about. The two main fairies annoyed me with their constant bickering, I found the love story unbelievable, and the names kind of confusingly interchangeable.
But, I mean, like I said, it was cute. (It was also kind of refreshing to see a story where sexuality is treated as healthy and normal and not fetishized.)
I'm not sorry I read it or anything, but I'm not really fussed about picking up anything else by this author, either. ...more
Let me preface my review by saying I read this because it was picked for a group read by someone who loves Andre Norton, and I'd neSo... this thing...
Let me preface my review by saying I read this because it was picked for a group read by someone who loves Andre Norton, and I'd never read any Norton so I decided to give it a shot. I mean, I do like the occasional S&S romp, but I probably wouldn't have picked up this book if it hadn't been under group-circumstances.
Let's just say that, based on this, I have not become a fan.
It started well. The juxtaposition of the gamers and the world, the way the two were linked, was interesting. It was an idea which I think could've been done really well, but which I felt was kind of squandered in this book, since, aside from the set-up and the resolution, the only real bearing it had was the bracelet of dice all the characters wore (and couldn't get off).
Speaking of the characters - none of them felt particularly developed, and I didn't care overly for Milo. I especially didn't like that we were so married to Milo's perspective since a lot of stuff happened to or around other people. I'm not generally a fan of a million perspectives, but I felt this book definitely could've benefited from some perspective jumping. (It also couldn't been a way to actually develop some of the other characters who were clearly only there for their abilities to be useful at some point.)
As for the plot - well, it's based on D&D and the plot was a them heading towards a goal, finding out around the 65% point that they were going to have to go to a place the reader knew they would have to go to around page 5, and lots of random encounters. (In short - D&D is much more fun to play than to read about other people playing, which is what reading this was like.)
Honestly, I only pushed through because of the aforementioned group-read thing, and I wanted to be able to say I gave it a decent shot.
But I posted this gif in the group, because this is pretty much how I felt after the umpteenth random encounter following a bunch of people I cared diddly squat about:
I've been sitting on this review for awhile because I'm not really sure what to say about it...
This is a Weird London book which puts much emphasis onI've been sitting on this review for awhile because I'm not really sure what to say about it...
This is a Weird London book which puts much emphasis on the 'weird' part, and a bit less on character development and coherent storytelling. I suppose some of this fits with the whole "dream" aspect of the story - but I've read stories which read like dreams, and this didn't really fit the bill. The writing itself is pretty standard fare, to be honest - it's the events themselves which create the weirdness, and some of them are sort of so outre it's like "da fuq?". I mean (view spoiler)[ants? (hide spoiler)] Really?
But this story also tries to be a kind character growth story, and James Wedderburn does go through some changes throughout the story. (The ending vaguely made me think of 'Fight Club' (the movie, as I've never read the book), and I did think the fact that he wasn't (view spoiler)[all that involved with the actual ending of the story was interesting. A study in the way people might think they're the hero of a particular story, but aren't, really. (hide spoiler)]
The sad thing is that the character was actually much more interesting to read about before he grew a conscience. Go fig.
That said, I was a bit annoyed, in the beginning, with the very sexist tones of the book. Dream London, you see - for reasons I'm not sure where ever entirely explained - reverts to a Victorian sort of system where women could only ever seem to be mothers or whores. Luckily this is commented on and somewhat dismissed as the story progresses, which I was thankful for.
But, then, aside from being a morality play, it also dabbles into social commentary and, frankly, gets strangely preachy by the end. I mean, it's not that I particularly disagreed with any of the points being raised, but it's always annoying to not glean a moral lesson from the story, but to have a character pretty much give a sermon is just off-putting - even if one agree with what's being said.
All in all, I think it tried to be too many things, a story of parts more than a whole, and none of them ever really came together into something better than "ok".["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
This was one of the books that I kept meaning to read but kept putting off. I wasn't a huge fan of the Shining, having given it only 2-stars, and I3.5
This was one of the books that I kept meaning to read but kept putting off. I wasn't a huge fan of the Shining, having given it only 2-stars, and I was hesitant to read this one.
This is a different story, though. In this we're dealing less with 'ghostie people' and more with vampires who feed on the shining. It's got more of an almost suspense thriller feel to it, and I ended up really liking it, overall.
** minor spoilers **
One of the things that I disliked about the Shining was I felt it overly focused on Jack, and very little on Danny. But this is clearly Danny's story - all grown-up, with demons of his own to deal with. I liked the aspect of showing the different way father and son deal with their alcoholism. Well, Jack never really deals with it, though he tries now and again. Danny, on the other hand, follows the 12-step path - but I liked that he questions parts of it, finds part of the platitudes to be just that, and sees the use and value in it, but doesn't just swallow it whole cloth. (I've always had an issue with the overly religious aspects of the AA, and liked how those parts were handled in the story.)
But that's just a small part of the whole story - in many ways, it just sets up the story.
The real thrust of the story is once Danny comes to a particular town, one which his old friend Tony tells him is the right place to stay. There he finds friends and a family, and has to protect his life and the lives of those he comes to love from those who would take it away.
It was a bit slow to get going, but once it did it moved well, and I really liked the ending. I even teared up a bit when (view spoiler)[ Jack's ghost saves Danny. (hide spoiler)]
I also appreciated that while this story alternates PoVs as many of King's books do, it felt more focused, for the most part, than the Shining did. That said, some of the parts spent with the Knot were some of the slowest, imo.
Overall, I'm glad I finally got around to read this. It had a different feel from the Shining - a different sort of horror - and I felt like it was a better story, overall, though not really what I would call scary in the usual sense. One of the better reads of the year.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
So, we read this as a group read because we didn't realize, at the start, that it was the end of a trilogy. Now, I have actually read Threshold on mySo, we read this as a group read because we didn't realize, at the start, that it was the end of a trilogy. Now, I have actually read Threshold on my own a few years back, but I've ever read Low Red Moon and some reviews say this is a more direct sequel to LRM.
I say that by way of explaining that I felt like I was missing some things. That there was information about the Children of the Cuckoo and the Hounds and the Bailiff that I was meant to already know which I didn't.
That said, I felt like I was able to follow the story well enough, but I did wonder if maybe it'd have some more depth, for me, if I had read the prior story.
Now that that's out of the way - to the story itself...
Mostly it just didn't work for me. Now, as I said, I'm not sure how much of that is because of the above, but I think some of it was just the story itself. We spend a lot of time with two different stories - that of Emmie and Soldier - and we know that they're going to come together, and they do piece by piece, but by the time they finally do come together there's only about 100 pages left to go, and it just felt like they spent far too long to get where we were going.
And then, when we finally got there, I can't say I was at all happy with the resolution - if you can even call it that, because if felt unresolved.
I wanted more from it. I wanted (view spoiler)[Bailiff to get some comeuppance (but I also sort of (view spoiler)[knew he wouldn't because I'm fairly certain the short story collection I read had Dancy take him out. And the vampires. And the ghuls. But I'd have to reread it to be sure. (hide spoiler)]) <- Spoiler for another book
I also really wanted Soldier to end up back with Deacon, and for the three of them to have some sort of dysfunctional unit.
I was sort of glad she got her childhood back - but considering she's still with the Hounds and Bailiff is still out there and all, it didn't really feel like any kind of real resolution, let alone happy ending. (Not that it has to have a *happy* ending, but with her staying there I feel like nothing's going to change.)
After all that time with the set-up, and then it feels sort of unresolved at the end - especially for the finale of a trilogy.
The only other comment I really had is that both Emmie and Soldier both have a really annoying habit of not letting other people talk - especially when other people are trying to explain something or tell them something. "Shut up, I don't want to hear it" or "this isn't even real" or whatever.
They did that thing where they're looking for answers and want to know "the truth", but then never want to let people fucking talk and actually tell them anything.
It was really fucking annoying.
I did think it was interesting, in a way, the way they were sort of similar, personality wise.
And I get that Emmie is (view spoiler)[part ghul, and that's meant to explain some of her weirdness (hide spoiler)], but I've never heard an 8-year-old curse so damn much.
I'm no slacker when it comes to cussing, but I did get tired of "fuck this, fuck that, and fuck every other fucking thing" every other fucking sentence.
A sort of fable about being careful what you wish for along with not wishing away your life. I thought it was a bit heavy-handed, and Harvey a bit tooA sort of fable about being careful what you wish for along with not wishing away your life. I thought it was a bit heavy-handed, and Harvey a bit too perfect and the ending wrapped up a bit too neatly, but the idea of the house and its servants was interesting.
I think I may have read this before, in my pre-goodreads days, because it seemed very familiar.
I was a little hesitant going into this book. Not because of the hype, which I actually didn't know about until after I'd started reading the book1.5
I was a little hesitant going into this book. Not because of the hype, which I actually didn't know about until after I'd started reading the book and, in despair, started reading reviews to see if it would get any better...
No. The reason I was hesitant, aside from just not being wowed by the blurb, is that I'd read the 'Something Strange and Deadly' trilogy, and it was one that I liked in the beginning - though I only gave it a 3, so I enjoyed it but it had issues - but then I felt the series progressively declined from there.
But then this was picked as a group read so I decided to give it a whirl.
Well... I really wish I hadn't.
It starts off interestingly enough, I suppose, by dropping you into the action from the get go. I guess it works for a story which is so thoroughly plot driven, moving from one action/sequence to the next. But I didn't find the sequences well written enough to be exciting, nor did I ever connect with any of the characters enough in order to care.
Much is said about the driving friendship between Safiya and Iseult, but they get separated for large sections of the book, either be physical distance or by lack of consciousness. I also didn't get the whole Thread sister thing other than Iseult saved Safiya's life once when they were younger, and this apparently bound them for life.
Similar with Merik and Kullen, who had a similar story of one saving the other's life and becoming Thread brothers, so it almost seems like a life debt sort of thing - but it's not, 'cause mister Bloodwitch talks about having various life debts to at least two people, but they don't end up Thread siblings.
But that's just part and parcel of this story where a lot of info - people and places and politics - is sort of dumped on you, but never thoroughly explained.
And, honestly, one thing I like about some YA stories is I'm not a detailed world-building kinda person, in general. I think the world needs to serve the story, and not the other way around. I can dig stories that give you pieces of the world to tell the story, but not have to belabor every detail. But you still need *some* explanation and not just lots of references to things that don't mean much of anything.
But, anyway, back to the characters.
Safiya was thoroughly annoying. She constantly made bad decisions and didn't listen to people which only got herself and everyone around her in trouble.
Iseult seemed a decent enough sort, but kept being shunted to the sidelines of the story, except for the parts where she gets to be chased - because that's what moves the plot forward in this story.
Merik seemed like he would be cool in the beginning, but his temper issues became annoying.
The 'romance' between Safiya and Merik was groaningly bad, and not in the fun, cheesy way.
The Bloodwitch guy could be developed into an interesting character, but I'm worried about shades of (view spoiler)[romance with him and Iseult. The whole 'I can't smell her thing' as a weird Twilight vibe that makes me shudder. (hide spoiler)]
The worst thing about the characters is down to writing, I think. There's a lot of telling vs showing. We're told how people are feeling, because Iseult can see their threads, which seems mostly like an aura, except you can weave with them, or something.
We're told Safiya and Iseult are great friends, but aside from sticking together despite Safiya's terrible choices, it doesn't really come across on the page all that well.
Oh, and Safiya's power is stupid, and the fact that everyone is killing each other to get to her power - which she apparently kept secret for years and now literally everyone in the world knows about in a matter of days - when she admits she can be easily tricked, and we see several examples of her truth power leading her astray.
I mean, people can lie directly to her face as long as they believe what she's saying... but at some points she can just think something about someone, and her power can tell her it's true?
There's no consistency. No logic. The powers exist insofar as they serve the plot, and there's no rationality for their limits and uses past that.
But more than any of that, it's just the fact that I was bored. For a story which many people called fast paced and non-stop, I found myself bored and disinterested. I didn't care about any of these people, and didn't particularly care if they lived or died.
By the time the next book comes out, I doubt I'll remember enough to even begin to care to continue the series. Blarg.["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"]>...more
The premise of this story is interesting - reality is a computer program, and carefully editing the program alters realty. (Sort of. Because if you2.5
The premise of this story is interesting - reality is a computer program, and carefully editing the program alters realty. (Sort of. Because if you're altering reality, then if you change a bank balance, wouldn't it have always been that balance?)
But, anyway, it's Matrixy, but much lighter in tone.
And it starts off well enough, as Martin finds the program and starts mucking about with it. He's very annoying and short-sighted, though, with zero impulse-control, so things quickly turn south and he needs to escape... to Medieval England to become a wizard.
The biggest issue I had with the story is just that it's kind of boring. Martin hooks up with Philip, another "wizard", and becomes his apprentice. And the next 65% of the book or so is watching Martin learn how to... change programming code.
I will never again mock training montages in movies, I swear. (Well, unless they're done really badly - but I'm all on board for the concept of the montage.)
Martin isn't very likable, though, and never gets much better. All of the other wizards - the boys - are all some strata of geek-boy stereotype. The only female character of note in the book is Gwen, and she's ok enough, but she's mostly there to be a foil for the guys who just have to hit on her. (She seems friendly with Philip, mostly because he doesn't hit on her, but we don't see much other basis for friendship, though we're left to assume they have history offstage.)
I really didn't like the bit at the end with her where (view spoiler)[Martin goes for a kiss and she's like, "Yeah, ok" after showing no real interest in his advances at all, but now that's he's saved the day it's snog time? Ugh. I'm glad that she accidentally magicked him arsehole over teakettle instead. (hide spoiler)]
Around 70% in or something resembling a plot finally happens - though there were bits and pieces strewn throughout before hand (and can I just say how slow on the uptake these lads are?). So, the villain is painfully obvious and cliche, and the showdown is kinda hokey.
By the end I just wanted to be finished, really.
Not a bad book, but doesn't live up to the premise. (It doesn't help that Martin, especially, doesn't seem to think through things, like, ever. He gets a a bit better under Philip's tutelage, but not much. They really don't play up the time travel thing to their benefit much at all. And why, (view spoiler)[if they can pull burritos and things out of their hats, do they need to hop to the future for pizza? (hide spoiler)] It just doesn't seem all that well thought-out in general, and, yeah, this is meant to be light and humorous and not serious... but I wasn't all that amused/entertained, so I couldn't help thinking about the holes.)
So, anyway - where was I?
Yeah - not a bad book. Entertaining enough, for the most part, but you really have to turn your brain off for this one. Some reviews said your enjoyment might depend on your kind of humor. Apparently some people found it 'hilarious'. I found it mildly entertaining, except when it was boring. *shrugs*["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"]>...more
So, I finished this last night. I was sort of starting to doze off, but I had 30 pages left and I was determined for it to be over to finish it...
I liSo, I finished this last night. I was sort of starting to doze off, but I had 30 pages left and I was determined for it to be over to finish it...
I liked the first almost-half - the bit that meshed with the movie. I thought the did a fairly decent adaptation, despite the changes to Atreyu's physical appearance. I actually think the movie maybe brought the story and characters a bit more to life than the writing/book manages.
I like the sort of duality of the world, and the way the Childlike Empress accepts all of her subjects, the dark and the light, and I do agree that some of this might have been a bit simplified for the movie. I also like the overall theme that people need their hopes and dreams and wishes, and that our world is a less rich place if those things get lost.
I can't say I was into the second part of the story much - in the same way I couldn't tell you what the sequel movie was about, though I'm sure I saw it at some point.
Some of the places were interesting, like the Night Forest, but Bastion was just so insufferable and the pace was painful.
I do get that his being insufferable is on purpose, and there's a bunch of moral lessons and whatnot - (view spoiler)[which I think were pretty much along the lines of not trying to change yourself to like yourself better, but to find acceptance and love from within... i.e. you're not gonna like yourself better if you're more attractive, wiser, braver, etc, if you're a giant prat about it... and you need to learn to be able to love (hide spoiler)]... but I think the same lessons could've been taught with about half as many pages.
I will concede two things:
1) I am biased towards the movie 'cause I saw it and loved it first 2) Some of the writing issues might've been "lost in translation" type problems
I haven't had all that much luck with reading books of movies that I loved as a child. This wasn't the worst of them, but I did find it a bit of a chore to read, especially when we got to the point in the story that comes after the movie. (Also, Bastion is *really* unlikable.)["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
Past Valente books, particularly Deathless, I've described like reading a dream, or what a dream would2.5
I thought this was a really intersting story.
Past Valente books, particularly Deathless, I've described like reading a dream, or what a dream would read like.
This story is more like a dance, the way the stories and characters weave in and out of each other. Dance partners that have sat down, and we think gone for the evening, crop up again from time to time, threading together the disparate pieces into a larger tapestery. Sometimes it would take me a second to remember who was who, but there was usually enough in the text to help remind you.
I also liked the way the perspectives of the story would change, and the villains of one story would become the heroes of the next, and vice versa. There was a lot of shades of grey because of this, and there weren't a lot of clear-cut good guys or bad guys - with the exception of Omri the Wizard and the one King, who were pretty much just dicks.
I actually thought the weakest part of the story is that which, ultimately, ties it together - the ostracized girl and the young Prince in the Garden. At first these serves as nice pauses in the other stories, which I found compelling and often had a hard time finding a good place to rest. But as the story progressed I found the Garden sections more and more repetitive, and they became an unwelcome break in the flow of the dance.
The other issue I had is that I'm a rather character-oriented and emotive reader. I can appreciate things which are interesting, but to get fully invested in a story I need to connect with the characters and lose myself in their lives. With this story - stories - it was harder to really latch onto anyone.
This was also one of those books which I found compelling while I was reading it, but once I did put it down it wasn't one I was overly keen to get back into. Perhaps because there are so many startings and "endings", of sorts, so there weren't a lot of times where I really needed to know what happened next - because we'd just moved on to a different story, so there wasn't that gripping feeling that happened while I was reading.
And, with that bit, I'm not entirely fussed about running out and picking up the next volume. I'm not opposed to reading it, or anything, and it's on my list of books to get back to at some point - but, again, there's just not that compulsion... which is a big reason why, despite how intricately woven and beautiful it is in some ways, I couldn't really justify a higher rating for myself.
I read this in a group and several people seemed to struggle with keeping the characters straight and remembering things that came before. I didn't have as much problems, but I also read it continuously and in large chunks. This is definitely a book that I would recommend reading when you have the time to immerse yourself in it for awhile, and not something to read while distractable (i.e. it's not something to read in small spurts or to take to a waiting room to pass some time).
ETA: Oh, I was also a bit perturbed that the Garden part of the story finds no resolution and is definitely meant to carry you through to the next volume - which makes sense, but that didn't make me any happier with the abrupt ending.
I was glad that the other stories had come to a nice resolution point, though....more
I didn't hate it, thus the 2-stars, but I'm not sure I can say I really liked it, either... so maybe it's more a 1.5 stars, roundedSo... this book...
I didn't hate it, thus the 2-stars, but I'm not sure I can say I really liked it, either... so maybe it's more a 1.5 stars, rounded up.
First and foremost a warning: This is not a duology in the sense of two complete but related stories like, say, Crown Court/Crown Duel. This is a "duology" in the sense of "one book that the publisher probably decided to split into two because one 1300 page book is more intimidating than 2 650ish page books".
There is no conclusion to this story. It's a cliffhanger, almost quite literally, and there is no sense of resolution at all. In fact, it kinda feels like the story is finally just getting going, after 650ish pages of not-all-that-much-happening.
And, as I've said before, I'm fine with slow plot books as long as the character development is interesting, but I'm not really sure there's much in the way of development. Aside from a little polish - a very little - Asher is pretty much the same character at the "end" as he is in the beginning.
Most of the development happens with Gar, actually, and he's one of the few saving graces of this story, because I quite liked Gar, except for when I wanted to punch him but, even then, he seems like a cool guy you'd want to hang out with.
Not so much so for Asher, though he is the protag and, apparently, he has friends and people who like him. I'm not convinced...
Aside from the slow and meandering (and repetitive) plot, there's just the fact that this book feels so typical. There's a Prophecy and the Bad Times are coming and people are trying to make sure the Prophecy happens and the Prophecy seems to be Deus ex Machina'ing the plot and bringing people together and putting them where they need to be because, honestly, there seems little other rhyme and reason for Asher to end up being where he is.
But, because of Prophecy and because of the foreshadowy way things are written, there isn't much in the way of suspense because any bad thing that's coming down the line gets warned about several (thousand) pages before anything happens, and by then you're just like "OMG, just happen already!"
(Honestly, was anyone remotely surprised when (view spoiler)[Asher discovers his father has died and his brothers blame him? Aside from Dathne's foreshadowing about how he'll have his heart broken and come back... I mean, even before then it was pretty bloody obvious, right? (hide spoiler)]
What little suspense could've been wrung out of this pretty rehashed plot was killed dead by the writing style.
Dead, dead, deadski.
Speaking of deadski, the villain, when he finally shows up, is so... villainy. I can practically see him wringing his hands together or twirling a mustache - if he had one. Frothing, scheming, impatient... so not remotely interesting or scary in the slightest.
After struggling through this book, I find myself in the unenviable position of having to slog through another absurd amount of kinda badly written pages to get to the meat and conclusion of the actual story.
From what I've read of the reviews, the writing/pacing problems continue, Asher grows even more annoying and insufferable... and since even some people who liked the first book say the second isn't as good, I think I'm probably just gonna bail.
I blame MrsJ for my enduring this one. I stuck with it a bit more than I might've because it was picked as a group read, and I kept thinking it had to pick up sooner or later and, well, it wasn't entirely terrible... but, yeah... ["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"]>...more
I was a bit trepidatious about this book, mostly because I read the Carpet People short stories in 'Crumbling Castle' and wasn't that wowed. (The secoI was a bit trepidatious about this book, mostly because I read the Carpet People short stories in 'Crumbling Castle' and wasn't that wowed. (The second was better than the first but, overall, I wasn't really sure how the story would be sustained as a standalone novel.)
I was heartened, then, when I read the intro and discovered that this was not the story as originally written but, rather, a revised edition... a sort of collaborative effort, as Sir Terry puts it, between his 17 year-old self and his 43 year-old self.
All that said - it was much better than the short stories, and has glimmers of Pratchett as we know and love him, complete with his poignant penny-drops and biting satire delivered as only he can.
As you might guess from the rating, it's not my favorite Pratchett work ever, but it's a decent read and a good addition to his rather large compendium. And it's also a fun read.
It's interesting, having read the short stories beforehand, to see the sparks of those in this novel... and then to reread the first story (provided in the back of this edition as it was in the newpaper it was first published in), and to be reminded of how much has changed.
I especially liked this version of Pismire - practicioner of headology and forward thinking that he was....more
I'm a fan of Bear's New Amsterdam, but was less impressed with Blood and Iron, and based on the blurb of this book I was a bit iffy about picking it uI'm a fan of Bear's New Amsterdam, but was less impressed with Blood and Iron, and based on the blurb of this book I was a bit iffy about picking it up, but then it was picked for a group read this month, so I decided to give it a whirl.
First thing's first, I will say that the patois which turned me off the blurb a bit wasn't really much of an issue for me reading. Yes, it's colloquial and not entirely proper, but I'm not a total grammar snob, which is probably clear form my own reviews, and aside from a few words here and there which made me twitch, I was mostly able to just go with it. I am glad I read it in paper form, though, because I think it would've bothered me more in an electronic format. (Don't ask me to explain the mysteries of my brain... )
I liked what we saw of the world, though it also leaves you feeling there's a lot more that we're not seeing. I also liked the characters. This story definitely had one of the more diverse cast of characters that I've seen, and they were all developed enough that it didn't feel like tokenism. (The one possible exception being (view spoiler)[Tomoatooah. It bothered me that they kept referring to him as "the Comanche", especially after they covered that Comanche is not their own term for themselves and means "the enemy". (hide spoiler)])
The first half of the story is small and personal - a town squabble between rival businesses, you could say, though the antagonist is a great bit giant git. I enjoyed the story, or found it interesting enough, but kept waiting for something more to happen.
So it was a bit ironic when that something more happened and I found myself incredulous and sort of wishing to go back to the way things were.
The second half of the story just felt like a different thing altogether. Things - which admittedly are hinted at in the beginning of the story, but which always feel "out there" - suddenly come to the fore, but in such a sort of weird way that it just didn't sit well with me. (I'm speaking primarily of the (view spoiler)[octopus sub, but the whole plot with the cholera was weird. It suffered fro villain monologuing. I mean, if the girls had gone back to town without knowing they were infected, that would be one thing. But if their told they're being infected with this super cholera, what would stop them from just going off to die somewhere secluded?(view spoiler)[)
Oh, also the bit with the sewing machine (view spoiler)[turned mecha-armour (hide spoiler)] was just weird, and I had a really hard time visualizing how that would work.
I did like the first half of the story, and I liked the overall ending well enough, though I felt (view spoiler)[Bantle(view spoiler)[ got off a bit too easy.
I might be on board with another in the series, assuming it gets continued - but I think I'll let others vet it first before I go rushing into anything. 2.5-ish.
There's one question I really need answered.
The character's name is Karen Memery. The blurb even has the bit where it's "like memory, but with an e."
So why is the book called Memory?
I thought it might have some plot relevance, but, if it did, it went over my head. (My reflexes are not as fast as Drax's, apparently... ) (hide spoiler)](hide spoiler)](hide spoiler)](hide spoiler)]["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"]>...more
I collection of cute short stories from Pterry's journalist days. (As a side note, I may have teared up a bit reading the intro... *sniffs*)
TI collection of cute short stories from Pterry's journalist days. (As a side note, I may have teared up a bit reading the intro... *sniffs*)
There are some gem lines and Pratchettisms hidden throughout, but, mostly, the stories are just "cute" and definitely aimed at the younger set. Some do have really nice messages and lessons and whatnot, to boot.
That said, my favorites were "Dragons at Crumbling Castle" and "Dok the Caveman" were my faves. Next would be "The Great Speck" and "Another Tale of the Carpet People".
ETA: Jer was just reading this, and he reminded me that you can see a lot of little nuggets which sort of turn into Discworld things. The one wizard in Crumbling Castle is totally a proto-Rincewind, for instance, and a character at some point is called Stronginthearm, and lots of little stuff like that....more
A sort of homage to the Holmes stories, which purports to be the inspiration thereof. I did appreciate the shout out to Poe's Dupin stories - themselvA sort of homage to the Holmes stories, which purports to be the inspiration thereof. I did appreciate the shout out to Poe's Dupin stories - themselves a predecessor of Holmes - but I was more than a bit agitated that the book misspells the man's name. (It's Edgar Allan Poe, not Allen. You'd think you'd make sure you get the spelling right for something like this.)
We have Grice, the personal detective, doing the Holmes schtick - but it's all brusque rudeness and none of the charm.
Then we have March, the female Watson, with medical knowledge gleaned from helping her father on the battle field, however likely that is, and I guess she sort of balances out Grice's meanness by being a bit overly soft-hearted and naive. I do like anachronistically spunky girls, though, so I dug her, for the most part, even if she's a bit forcefully spunky at times.
Lastly Pound, the Lestrade stand-in, though given to be a bit more competent than his counterpart. Pound was an interesting one - at times sort of progressive, and then profoundly not.
Anyway - I never did grow to like Grice, by any means, but I did find him less grating by the end, and he did have his moments.
Mostly, though, I liked the case. It's hard to discuss it in any detail, though, without getting into spoiler territory. I will say I kept wishing for Grice to get some things wrong, because he was so insufferably smug, but, conversely, I can see how you wouldn't want your protagonist to be proven faulty in his first case. (Well, the first one we see, anyway.)
I liked the twists and turns and reveals well enough to not let the characterizations bother me too much, though. It ends up being a quick, interesting, albeit provoking read, and I'm definitely on board to continue with the series. ...more
I admit that I went into this book with some hesitation. I was interested in the plot - the idea of Lizzie Borden's (alleged) murder of her parents1.5
I admit that I went into this book with some hesitation. I was interested in the plot - the idea of Lizzie Borden's (alleged) murder of her parents being of supernatural causes which are still threatening the town - sounded right up my alley. But I had read a previous work by Priest, Boneshaker, but I was less than impressed.
That said, I had heard some good things and was interesting in the material enough to give it a go. All I can say is Cherie Priest is officially off my 'authors to read' list.
I will say that some of the ideas were interesting, and I don't think this book annoyed me quite as much as 'Boneshaker', thus the bump up to 2 instead of down to 1 (at least at the time of writing this review) - but, still.
The biggest issue is the writing, really. Written as various diary entries and letters and things, we get a glimpse of Lizzie, her sister Emma, Dr. Seabury, who becomes a big part of the story, Lizzie's girlfriend Nance, the bad guy who goes insane, whose name currently eludes me, and several others.
The most interesting of these was Dr. Seabury and Inspector Wolf (who we see in other pieces, but mostly Seabury's). If the story had focused on these more, then it could've been better, overall.
But the other characters grew wearisome by the end - especially Emma, who I sort of hated by the end, but also Lizzie's was a bit tedious by the end.
I think, mostly, there's too much repetition. Every piece is written in a sort of stream of consciousness, and goes off on tangents, only then to go back to the point. While I understand this is often how people think, and maybe even how they write journal entries, it made for tiring reading. Every vignette ended up repeating points as you would travel away from them and then come back again. It just got so repetitive and ruined all narrative flow.
Also, I just didn't feel a lot of tension. Priest seemed to want to really develop the various relationships, and this could've been interesting if well-done, but often came across as too soap-operay and seemed to distract from, more than enhance, the more interesting story going on.
And, lastly, I found the final confrontation and big showdown to be far too simple, far too cheesy, and just far too uninteresting and uninspired for the prose I'd suffered through to get there...
I'm giving this two stars, but it probably only deserves 1. I'm bumping it up to two for the ideas present within, not the execution, and for that gorgeous cover.
This story opens up really well, and there's definitely some creepy/atmospheric stuff going on through the story. Some grue and grossness, but mostlyThis story opens up really well, and there's definitely some creepy/atmospheric stuff going on through the story. Some grue and grossness, but mostly just a general ambiance of fear.
The bits with the girls in between could be annoying at times - mostly because the author actually seemed, to me, to capture the essence of four teenage friends and, well, teenagers can be annoying on the best of days. ;)
I do with there was a bit more character development - but I can live with it the way it is, because the stories really more about Mary, and I did like how we found out stuff about her as the story progressed.
Overall, not a bad little YA horror story. I think it would make a good movie.
The only downside to the ending is that it's not really a standalone. It's not a cliffhanger, really, but you definitely need to pick up the second book to finish the story. Luckily, in this instance, I'm ok with continuing....more
Charles de Lint is one of those names that I hear time and time again, often with lots of praise, but I've just never been entirely enthralled with2.5
Charles de Lint is one of those names that I hear time and time again, often with lots of praise, but I've just never been entirely enthralled with any of his books I've tried to read - and this is no exception.
And it's a shame, because there's a lot of potential for a great story here.
There were things I liked about it. The idea of the story, and the mixture of cultures is really interesting. It was cool to see non-Anglo-Saxon cultures presented for a change in a story set in America, and the way the Medicine and Chinese philosophies and magics were discussed and how they were different and how they overlapped was interesting.
But the characters were fairly one-dimensional and just really unrealistic. Jay was marginally developed, being the main protagonist and all - but all of the others were just who they were on the surface and there's nothing else really there. But there were also kind of annoying. I mean, we'll have them believe that Jay is a dragon, but they won't believe (view spoiler)[that he doesn't really know how to control his powers or what he's doing? (hide spoiler)] 'Cause, yeah, that's the unrealistic part of his story...
And that's a big problem with the story in general. And so help me, if someone says, "Oh, yeah, 'cause a story in which a boy is part dragon is *so* realistic," I might have to smack someone. Because that's not the problem, obviously. THe program is that the human characters don't act or sound like real people. Part of it is that there's just too much telling, but the biggest issue is the dialogue. The dialogue is just terrible.
There was a stretch of narration where I was starting to get into the story, and then we got to several pages of dialogue where everything just fell apart.
And, honestly, how does someone who has as many books as de Lint has under his belt end up writing such bad dialogue? The mind boggles, it truly does.
So, anyway, condensed version:
There are some really good ideas in this story, and the story, itself, is interesting. The magic seems to be explored well - (I don't want to say "developed", since we are using real cultural systems) - but the execution just ended up taking me out of the story more often than not.
3.5 for the story 1.5 for the writing ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
This is a pretty cool book, though it was quite what I was expecting. I think I expected more of a straight up ghost/haunting story - and there's s3.5
This is a pretty cool book, though it was quite what I was expecting. I think I expected more of a straight up ghost/haunting story - and there's some of that, especially in the beginning, and it had some good, suspenseful moments, but then the focus shifts to this Secret Society thing which I didn't find quite as cool as the haunting stuff, but what still good.
I really liked the way the story is told - diary entries, letters, video and surveillance recordings, etc. It opens with one of the main characters being interviewed by the police, so it's basically like you see the case/evidence as it's finally put together by the police.
I read this in a group, and some parts which dragged for me, like the specifics of code breaking, were really interesting to other members in the group - so I think it just depends on your focus. But because of the way its told none of the individual sections are overly long, so even if a bit drags it's not gonna outstay its welcome much.
I liked the two main characters, though I appreciated that while there is a romance angle to the story it never took over - it was handled well and didn't in any way detract from the mystery angle.
I would say most of the story is pretty solid 3 stars - but the epilogue had some cool (view spoiler)[game changing (hide spoiler)] moments, which elevated it to 3.5 for me. Can't say much without getting into spoiler territory, unfortunately.
I will say that if there's a sequel, I hope we find out more about (view spoiler)[the Eye - its origins, how and why it works. Why does it focus on those 20 archetypes? What's important about them? Does it prove "god", or was it created magically for some purpose? (hide spoiler)] On one hand, the unknown is part of what makes it interesting but, on the other hand, I'd definitely be interesting in learning more about what makes it tick.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
I seem to keep pushing off writing this review, because I'm not sure I really know what to say. Overall, I just wish I liked it more than I did. I likI seem to keep pushing off writing this review, because I'm not sure I really know what to say. Overall, I just wish I liked it more than I did. I liked the ideas of the story - which reminded me heavily of the MAtthew Swift series by Kate Griffin. (I had some issues with that story, too, mainly it felt overwritten, but reading this made me want to get back to that series.)
In some ways, this book (these books?) excapsulate what, to me, urban fantasy should be - or, at least, what it can be - a story in which the urban landscape is, itself, alive and plays a crucial role in the magic of the story.
But I had two issues with this story:
1) I never really connected with the main characters. My two favorite characters were Pen and the homeless Russian guy, whose name I can't remember (but I'm terrible with names, so that's on me).
I found both Filius and Beth kind of annoying, and Beth was borderling Mary Sue for me because everything she touched was gold. I mean, she's new to this world, and Fil kept telling her to hang back and let him talk, but then he would mess everything up and she would swoop in and save the day, and it just got really repetitive and annoying. It kind of got the point where it was like, "Fil, we don't even need you here, man."
And this number 2 was a doozy.
I'm not generally someone obsessed with worldbuilding. I like YA stories because a lot of times it just gives you enough worldbuilding to make sense of the world the story takes place in, but the focus is on the plot and the characters, and not necessarily on the world. I'm cool with that.
But I still like the world to make sense, and I couldn't get through more than a few pages in this story where I didn't go, "Wait, what? That doesn't make any sense? I mean... why? What now?"
Mostly this deals with Reach, the bad guy of the story. (view spoiler)[We're told he's the bad guy because he represents greed and urban overreach and sprawl, I guess, and the destruction of the old and building of the new. But as another (spoiler marked) review points out, it reads a lot like "urban renewal is bad". Like everything old is good, and everything new is bad... and I'm not sure this is the message the book was going for, but that's definitely how it read to me at time.
The land that Reach builds on it dead, as opposed to the livind land of the Old City of MAter whateverhernameis - but why? That's never explained other than "the new is built on the bones of the old" or something.
But, guess what? The old was new once, too. The old that's being built on by Reach? It was built over other shit - so why is it good?
And Reach is described as being destructive, but the way Mater Londongoddess defeated Reach back in the past was through the freaking Great Fire of London, which is... oh, I don't know, pretty goddamned destructive?!?
Also, one of the allies of the "good" people is the Chemical Synod, who basically seemed to be industrial pollution... so, again... It's like who the hell are the good people?
And it wouldn't be bad if it was shades of grey and that was sort of the point of the story, but it's not because even after we find out stuff about Reach which makes him not so bad, he still has to be stopped at all costs...
Just... the world building didn't make a lot of sense, and things weren't really properly explained and it seems like things weren't really thought out very well, and I tried to let it go and just get into the story, but since I had the other problem of not really gelling with the characters and whatnot, I couldn't stop thinking about how much goddamned sense it didn't make.
2 stars because I didn't hate it, despite the above, and I didn like some aspects of the story. I liked the *idea* of the story and characters like Gliterglas and if it was more thought through and better developed, it could've been a really good story.
Oh, and the ending was pretty cool, so there is that.
Now I'm debating about whether I want to continue the story. The next book seems to focus on Pen, who, as I said, was one of the better characters in the story. And it also focuses on the Mirror World, which is touched on but not really developed in this story, so it could be interesting. I don't know...
This is a pretty decent fish-out-of-water/coming-of-age story, with a very likeable and sympathetic main character.
Now, I know some people are goin2.5
This is a pretty decent fish-out-of-water/coming-of-age story, with a very likeable and sympathetic main character.
Now, I know some people are going, "But the blurb says this is a steampunk, political intrigue story. Have you gone sideways again, Colleen?"
Well, here's the thing. Those who may regularly read my ramblings might've cottoned onto the fact that I can be a bit, erm... particular, we'll say. So, to be fair, there are, possibly, steampunkish elements in that there is an airship or two and a steam-powered bridge at some point - but, for me, I would expect the tech to be a bit more important/front-stage to the story to really call it a "steampunk book". (In other words, if I went into this book expecting some kind of steampunk adventure, I'd be highly disappointed, so I figure that's a fair warning.)
As to the political intrigue - well, there are politics, for sure, but intrigue tends to suggest that things are a bit circumspect and uncertain, but there's very little ambiguity in this story. The people expected to cause trouble from the outset pretty much do, to varying degrees, and those who are thought friendly at first meeting generally are. There is one exception to this - and I'm not even really sure I'd call it an exception because we get to know so little about that character that it's not even like we could guess what his thoughts/feelings were at any given time.
What we do have is Maia, a young half-goblin prince who's been pretty much exiled from court and raised by an abusive jackass, who finds himself thrust into the role of Emperor after this deaths of his father and brothers. While he has some basic understanding of courtly manners, his education is woefully lacking, and he has to navigate the politics of the court while learning the proper etiquette and dress for various occasions. (And far too much time is spent on the clothing, imo, and that's from someone who likes clothes... )
The fact that he's half-goblin is meant to be a big deal, because the court is elvish and goblins are foreigners and, as such, treated with varying degrees of prejudice from mistrust to disdain. Or, at least, we're told they are - but very few of the people we encounter seem to actually be full elvish, and few seem to hold his goblin blood against him - and those that do would've disliked him regardless, so it never feels like the issue that it's meant to be.
Like, it's clearly an analogue for racial relations and tensions, but it just seems kind of squandered.
(Also, as a side note, there's very little magic in this story, so if you like your fantasy with a lot of magic and stuff, you've been warned.)
One thing that the story gets right, though, is that Maia is, as I said, a wonderfully sympathetic protagonist. He's fairly well developed (if a little bit too good hearted, all things considered) - but you really do feel for the poor guy. There was one part towards the beginning where my heart fairly broke for him.
And that, really, is the crux of this story - watching this young boy that's drawn in such a way that you care about him and are rooting for him, and watch his fish-out-of-water story, and how he learns to navigate the stream, so to speak, with various obstacles put in his way.
On the down side - there are so many characters to keep track of, the names are fantasy names (i.e. nigh unpronounceable), and they all have multiple forms (sometimes you get last name, sometimes first name, sometimes family name, with and without honorifics, so on and so forth).
There is a glossary and guide at the back of the book, and I did find myself looking up people now and again. Much of the time I was able to figure out who was who by the context, but I did use the guide at times. I was vexed, at times, because some words I looked up didn't seem to be there, and sometimes you would get only the first name in a scene, but the guide is listed by last name, so you'd have to scan to try and find the name.
But I think, even without them being fantasy names it would've been difficult to keep track of everyone, because there's just so many.
Part of this immerses you into Maia's perspective, as he's equally clueless, but as he starts to figure out who's who but it was still a mystery to me, I started getting a bit vexed.
Lastly, the story starts strongly, but the middle - where some of the pretty-damn-straightforward "intrigue" is meant to be happening - started dragging pretty bad.
It picked up again towards the end, and I really liked meeting the (view spoiler)[queen to be, and only wished we saw more of her, especially as she was one of the better drawn female characters in the story (hide spoiler)] - but the ending, itself, seemed sort of abrupt.
After dragging in the middle, I found myself wanting more - wanting to go further than a few months into the story, and to see what Maia's relationship with the people around him would turn into. See, the book sort of ends on a eureka moment for Maia - I guess it's his 'coming-of-age' epiphany, as it were - but then I'm left wanting to know what comes of said understanding.
I don't know, it just seemed kind of an odd place to end the story. I would've at least liked some sort of epilogue so we could find out how things turn out - especially since I read that this is, essentially, a stand-alone book.
But, anyway - not a bad read, and I did like Maia a lot, and some of the other characters (almost none of whose names I can even begin to remember) - but I guess I was hoping for some more intriguing intrigue, and perhaps some better pacing could've helped.
ETA: One quibble I fogot to mention was some inconsistency in description. For instance, Maia blushes - a lot. And, often, we're told he blushes and that it's obvious and noticable that he's blushing, and other characters can tell he's blushing, and he wishes he could control his blushing.
But then, in one scene, we're told that he's glad that his slate-grey skin hides his blush.
So, um... which is it?
There were some other little issues like this, but this was the one that really jumped out at me.["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"]>...more
For awhile I waffled between 3 and 4 stars, but ultimately decided to go down to 3 because the book didn't leave that strong of an impression after3.5
For awhile I waffled between 3 and 4 stars, but ultimately decided to go down to 3 because the book didn't leave that strong of an impression after I was finished. While I found it interesting, overall, I just didn't connect with it all that strongly.
So - to the good. Right away I liked the style of the writing. I also found the world building pretty interesting, and didn't feel as bogged down as some did with the various saints and whatnot - mostly because I didn't really try to remember who was who or anything, as the context was always given when they were referenced anyway.
I liked Seraphina well enough, but there was something about her that kept me from really relating to her. Perhaps the way she keeps herself at a distance from things, the narration sort of keeps us as a distance, too.
But I liked Orma a lot, and I even liked Kiggs - the bastard prince/captain of the guard - and Selda - the deceptively intelligent beyond her flighty facade princess.
To the bad - the pacing was all over the place. While I found parts interesting, they were often overly belabored and a bit on the repetitive side. Things picked up towards the end, and I was all wrapped up in the big final confrontation - to the point where I almost missed my train stop - but then the fight sort of just fizzles and ended up feeling rather anti-climactic.
Oh, and the big reveal of who the bad guy was? That was kinda ridiculous. I mean, I guess kudos in the sense that I didn't quite see it coming... but... no. Just, no.
I think my biggest issue, though, was that everything seemed just too easy and too perfect. And I don't mean in a totally Mary Sue kind of way - I mean the whole world.
Seraphina is an assistance to the head musical director, and gives lessons to the princess, and through these lessons somehow becomes a close friend and confidant and advisor to the princess, in a matter of days. So much so that (view spoiler)[years of indoctrination are cast off with one sternly worded lecture from Seraphina? (hide spoiler)]
Ditto with her relationship to Kiggs. I liked that what budding romance there was developed slowly, and they actually talked and liked each other - in other words, no insta-love - but despite there not being insta-love it's still kind of like "How are these people even in the same circle of awareness?"
I mean, the society's big issue is the treaty with the dragons and the tenuous relationship between dragons and humans - and those who want the peace and those who don't.
But to focus on that aspect of it, it's like all of the regular human social issues just disappear. Classism, sexism, racism? Maybe a little bit - but not anything that would stop a lot of cross-boundaries fraternization.
*** spoilerish? ***
And then there's the issue of Seraphina's big secret. Most of the book is about how no one can ever find out, because it would be the worst thing ever - but when the inevitable happens... it's kinda not a big deal. People are a bit miffed for a week, and then they're over it.
And everything with Orma (view spoiler)[gets resolved nicely and the half-dragons are all embraced into the fold and everyone holds hands and farts rainbows. (hide spoiler)]
And, honestly, I'm kinda torn about all this.
On one hand, I like Happily Ever Afters, and it's not like I long for a lot of needless drama and angst... but, on the other, things just seemed a little too easy and perfect that it lacked a certain level of realism.
But, for all that, it was interesting and a bit of a refreshing change from the usual YA books, so I'll probably continue the series and see what happens.["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"]>...more
That said, I did comment to my husband that Lewis seems to have been better about the gender roles and thThis story is true goodreads two - it was ok.
That said, I did comment to my husband that Lewis seems to have been better about the gender roles and things in this one, giving us a decent female character in both Avaris and a bit of Lucy - though I did have to raise my eyebrow at the (view spoiler)[line about Lucy being almost as good as a man, or at least a boy... but how Susan is more girly, setting up the whole thing that happens with Susan later (hide spoiler)].
But don't fret, because in place of the gender roles issues is a nice dose of racism - where the brown-skinned Calamorens (sp?) are barbaric and tyranical and have slaves and are smelly and stupid, whereas the lovely white-skinned Narnians are noble and awesomesaucetastic.
There is less preachiness in this book, though, which is good - though, of course, Aslan ex Machina still saves the day at all the crucial moments.
Mostly, though, this story was just not that remarkable. I generally sort of forgot that I was reading it when I wasn't actively doing so, and would be reminded when I saw it on my currently-reading shelf. I've come to the conclusion that Lewis simply isn't a very good writer - or, I guess I should say just not my cuppa.
Two more to go. I'm so looking forward to Armageddon... (and I can't decide if I mean this as sarcasm or irony). ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
This book wasn't quite what I expected. For one, I'd previously read The Book of Lost Things, which I really liked, and I was surprised and how dif3.5
This book wasn't quite what I expected. For one, I'd previously read The Book of Lost Things, which I really liked, and I was surprised and how different everything was in this book - the tone, the writing, everything. This isn't a bad thing, it just took me a bit unawares - so now you can be aware.
It was cuter than I was expecting from the blurb. It's kind of like Good Omens meets Douglas Adams with a touch of Christopher Moore. The footnotes were usually funny, and didn't detract or slow down the story, and the blending of science with religion was interesting - though I found myself wishing the sciencey guys were a bit more relevant and active in the story.
My favorite characters were Boswell, the dog, and Nurd. Nurd was great. I also really liked Shan and Gath - the demons who found the bar. Samuel was a good kid - but those were my faves.
I didn't find the demons particularly scary, since they seemed pretty easily dispatched, by and large, and I found the ending a bit too easy. I really did appreciate the fact that (view spoiler)[people were fighting back and not just running around screaming, though. (hide spoiler)]
Overall, though, an enjoyable read, and I liked the way that it was left open to continue. I'll definitely be reading more of this series.
At the start of the story I was generally enjoying it - despite the constant little digs at the school which show Lewis' political leanings and whatnoAt the start of the story I was generally enjoying it - despite the constant little digs at the school which show Lewis' political leanings and whatnot, it was generally a nice adventure story without quite as much preachiness as some of the last stories, especially Dawn Treader.
Sure, there were some moments - but I liked that the kids were allowed to make mistakes and had to deal with the consequences of them, as opposed to Dawn Treader where (view spoiler)[Lion-Jesus constantly showed up to stop them making mistakes all the time (hide spoiler)]. (I really didn't like Dawn Treader... )
And while I found both kids kind of annoying, Eustace was a far cry from being as annoying as he was before. And I liked Puddleglum. The juxtaposition of his doom and gloom attitude with the notion that he was excitable for a Marshwiggle amused me.
But as the story continued I found myself a bit more irritable with the goings on, especially all the stuff with the giants, and then the happenings in the underground, which were all telegraphed from a mile away. (Yes, it's a kids story and, sure, kids might not be as quick on the uptake - but I found the crossover appeal lacking, at least partially because it was just so predictable).
So, anyway -
I'll put this at 2.5, on the level with Prince Caspian. An ok enough story, but I was glad it was over - and even started skimming a bit towards the end.
ETA: I had read somewhere that some of the gender role stuff gets better in the later books, but it was still pretty damn strong in this one... so I'm guessing this doesn't count as a later book?["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
Aside from the fact that at the beginning of this book Eustace is more annoying than Book 1 Edmund, I was generally enjoying the story. How Lucy &Aside from the fact that at the beginning of this book Eustace is more annoying than Book 1 Edmund, I was generally enjoying the story. How Lucy & Edmund & Eustace get pulled into Narnia in this one make for pretty exciting reading, and I liked the first parts of the journey. It was nice to see Caspian and Reepicheep again, especially.
Once again, however, everything seemed to come a bit too easily and conveniently, such as (view spoiler)[Caspian being sold as a slave only to find out the man who bought him is one of the lords he's looking for, and they quickly turn around and take back the island (hide spoiler)]- and the worst parts were the constant deus ex machinas (though I'm not sure that's the right term in this case).
I suppose a certain amount of divine intervention is to be expected in a story of this ilk - part adventure story, part allegory - but the fact that it pretty much happens every time something starts to happen was pretty annoying, and makes for a boring adventure story. It's like you never have to deal with the fall-out of anything because most anything bad gets stopped before it really gets started... (or 'bad' things end up being good, like when (view spoiler)[Eustace gets turned into a dragon and almost instantaneously becomes a better person (hide spoiler)].)
Still, I was mostly on bard, if a bit irritated at times, until about halfway through when the book just lost steam. Or maybe I lost steam. Either way, by the time I got finished I was just counting down the pages, waiting for it to be over.
In the group I'm reading this for someone mentioned that Lewis seems to have a problem with telling over showing, and I think that that might be a lot of it. I never really feel very connected to what's going on. Part of this is because, as above, everything's just too easy - but a part of it is also from the distance to the sory created by the writing. I find myself wondering how much of it is due to the time period it was written in - writing styles change, for instance, and I'm not entirely sure when the preference for showing over telling became en vogue. Lord knows there are other things that are attributed to the time period (and Lewis' beliefs) - like the deeply ingrained gender roles - and I wonder how much of the writing is equally a product of its time.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more