Read in one sitting. Terribly enjoyable until I reached the last page and closed the cover and had a moment to think - wait, what? Because Haddix shou...moreRead in one sitting. Terribly enjoyable until I reached the last page and closed the cover and had a moment to think - wait, what? Because Haddix should be writing for adults. The Issues here are of power and gender coercion and rape and war and homelessness and identity - these aren't too heavy for children/young adults - but Haddix is bound by the early-2000's-YA-princess-book-format, and it stifles what could be a mature re-telling (for adults!) of the Cinderella fable. Ella isn't a fifteen year old telling her story; she's an adult, looking back. She writes "I was confused I was lonely I was uncertain I was desperate I was clever", but her sense-of-self isn't credible; it's an adult self-assurance, and even the most self-assured teen is bound by youth and relative inexperience.
... I felt like Ms. Haddix was tied up in the corsets she wrote about, unable to take a deep breath. She didn't have room to expand as much as she wanted to; her ideas were cramped up. Haddix/Ella never quite connected with most of the characters and settings. I'll blame it on the YA format, though, and hold out hopes for an adult novel to come.
Two stars because the faults overpower the good for me. And because the ending is terribly abrupt. And my copy has twenty or so pages from the "sequel" inserted at the back, and it gave the impression the book was coming to some more gentle conclusion, and it LIED (not Haddix's fault, but it pissed me off).(less)
This book stupefied me. The subject (ants! ants! ants!) is interesting, but the sheer number of ant colonies extant, plus their widely varying mode-of...moreThis book stupefied me. The subject (ants! ants! ants!) is interesting, but the sheer number of ant colonies extant, plus their widely varying mode-of-life, makes anything but the broadest categories impossible. - So I assume - I'm being charitable. The chapters offer vast, sweeping vistas (Slavery! Queens! Nomads!), but are unable to focus on any particular type of ant - instead they offer up tiny bits of information that just don't connect. Bad science, too. (Question: Why do ants not attack a foreigner (fly, bee, ant from a different colony) in their midst? Reason: the intruder looks like the friendly ants! - or The intruder produces the same pheromones as the friendly ants!) It makes no sense. If the ants can identify by sight, pheromones wouldn't convince them; if the pheromones convince them, sight is useless to identify intruders. There must be some unidentified reason, but this book passes glibly over questions. It may as well be titled WE KNOW EVERYTHING ABOUT ANTS, EVERYTHING! AND ANYTHING WE DO NOT KNOW DOES NOT EXIST.
Also, it's is a translation & the syntax is really, really bizarre - the translator has a terrible grasp of colloquial English. The bits that are obviously meant to be funny often don't make sense, and the bits meant to be serious and pedantic had me laughing aloud.(less)
This is one of the worst books I have ever read. And I bought it from a thrift shop (because I was too embarrassed to have it on my library record for...moreThis is one of the worst books I have ever read. And I bought it from a thrift shop (because I was too embarrassed to have it on my library record forever - o shameful truth) - so now I'm stuck with the damn thing. Please understand, I didn't expect this to be good literature. I just wanted fluffy escapism. Instead ... Appalling racism! I-watched-Clueless-fifteen-times writing style and twee-speak! (Was the term "Betty" ever in vogue?) Wacky proofreading errors! The main character is a total idiot!
Seriously - Mia is dumb. Okay, we know she's the princess of Genovia going into the story, but she doesn't know that, and I can forgive a certain amount of bumbling gee-whiz! in a lighthearted fantasy if it furthers the plot. But I cannot forgive her adding 2+2 and coming up with 5. Seriously. Within thirty pages, Mia tells us that her father's job is to 'control the entire country' of Genovia, and that he has the same uncommon name as the prince of Genovia ... and she is still totally fucking shocked when it turns out he's the prince of Genovia. And like any normal, rational girl, on learning she is related to royalty, she has a fit of hysterics.
UGH UGH UGH. I feel dirty. And just a little bit more stupid.(less)