This book is like the ur-Manic Pixie Dream Girl book, and the narrator is a self-absorbed, mostly unlikeable toolbag, and the author clearly acknowledThis book is like the ur-Manic Pixie Dream Girl book, and the narrator is a self-absorbed, mostly unlikeable toolbag, and the author clearly acknowledging all of that only goes so far in redeeming the book.
It's Garden State and Elizabethtown mashed together and set in high school with an extra dose of tragedy/mystery, and I just wish the author had done more than have the narrator acknowledge how Manic Pixie Dream Girl-y he'd set up the Dream Girl to be, acknowledge in the last pages that she was her own person with her own issues that had nothing to do with the narrator. If he'd played with the trope a little more, I might've forgiven the book more for having to spend the entire time in the head of a Nice Guy(TM).
All that being said, John Green can, in fact, write. I just wish that most of the awesome weren't confined to the sidekicks, who once again wildly, wildly outshone the main characters in interest and charm. Sigh. ...more
God, this book is so blatantly manipulative, and it tells you exactly what it's going to do, and then it does that thing, and then you're weeping in aGod, this book is so blatantly manipulative, and it tells you exactly what it's going to do, and then it does that thing, and then you're weeping in an airport lounge even though you full well knew what was going to happen, so you're kind of mad at yourself AND the book, and everyone's a little bit sharper and snappier than they are in real life, and people often say that's a bad thing in reviews, but I like reading about sharp, snappy people, so there.
It's like Lurlene McDaniel and Joss Whedon had a lovechild in the form of a book.
Also, so much of the non-medical angst and drama in this book could have been avoided if the characters had just learned to embrace fanfic. Better living through telling your own stories, folks. ...more
In which Our Hero takes a road trip and almost learns that Girls Are People, Too! The set-up and stylistic points are charming, but I seriously wouldIn which Our Hero takes a road trip and almost learns that Girls Are People, Too! The set-up and stylistic points are charming, but I seriously would have preferred to read an entire book about Our Hero's slacker, Muslim, wannabe ladies' man sidekick. Our Hero is supposed to be annoying, but I often questioned my desire to keep reading a book about someone so annoying. Hassan kept dragging me back in, though. Hassan 4 Life, y'all. ...more
**spoiler alert** Well, hell. The cat just sat on the keyboard and erased a long, rambling review, so y'all should probably thank him.
In short - am t**spoiler alert** Well, hell. The cat just sat on the keyboard and erased a long, rambling review, so y'all should probably thank him.
In short - am torn. This book does really lovely things with women in an alternate history Cromwell-era London (featuring Olivia Cromwell and Queen Carola, like you do), with motherhood and career versus family and marriage and honor and all sorts of things. The heroine also rapes a woman who had already been raped by a mercenary while under the heroine's protection, then frees the mercenary right before his hanging after the raped woman's suicide. I think we're supposed to think that heroes are complicated, but the author went a little overboard on the "heroes do bad things" without ever showing us why our heroine was heroic in the first place.
Other disgruntlements: incredibly distant writing - very hard to get a hold of the characters. Rampant epithetism - the same character was referred to by four different monikers in half a page. (This probably didn't help at all with the distance in the writing.) And then the heroine's husband, who seemed a fairly decent fellow all around, was almost fetishistically described in his enormous, gross, greasy, snotty fatness. Did she mention he was fat? Because he was fat. When other characters would receive no physical description at all, every single one of his attributes would be modified by an adjectivial synonym for fat. And we'd hear about how he burst his seams or overflowed a chair or smeared a greasy pork chop over the rolls of fat in his face. Are you kidding me?
And yet I still give the book three stars, because the women. This passes the Bechdel test on steroids. ...more
**spoiler alert** Lackey should really stay away from writing about that whole "enlightened white heroine mixes with other races because she's so enli**spoiler alert** Lackey should really stay away from writing about that whole "enlightened white heroine mixes with other races because she's so enlightened in far less enlightened times" thing. The magical non-human beings are less obsequiously subservient to the Nice White Lady than the Benneton ad spread of Servants From Other Continents.
On the other hand, Lackey broke out of the standard romance structure for this - a happily married couple who remain happily married! A POV split between the children and adults! I do wish there were less of the "I have loved once, I can never love again" slash "I though I loved once but I didn't really know what love was so that doesn't count!" thing, but even this squidge of variety was pleasant.
Also, for the love of all that's holy, the dialect. OH, the dialect. Just. No.
(And yet I'm still reading all of these. I don't even.) ...more
A book so exquisitely tailored to my own tastes, with the added bonus of writing that's just violently good.
I mean. The seedy side of New York punk (A book so exquisitely tailored to my own tastes, with the added bonus of writing that's just violently good.
I mean. The seedy side of New York punk (which, you know, is actually saying something). Photography as a metaphor and a plot point and descriptions of which make my eyes ache to see these photos that don't exist. Creepy small town Maine. Almost noir-y mystery, with Adderall and crystal meth in addition to the hard-drinking whiskey. A mystery that sneaks up on you, that hits so many of the genre notes but only in retrospect, because you're too wrapped up in the messy sprawl of a heroine. Sex and sexuality as a matter of course. Creepy, horrific violence that is not about the fetishization of dead women. The merest whiff of fantasy/supernatural which adds to the story but is not necessary to explain the plot. Women, many women, being deeply, profoundly fucked up, without moralizing about their fucked uppedness.
And that's just the story. There's also what the author does with words, the way she slides them between your ribs like a knife, leaving you bleeding and delighted at the same time. ...more
Lackey does much better with the World War One stuff than she does with the "ooooh mixing of cultures" stuff she maunders through in some of the otherLackey does much better with the World War One stuff than she does with the "ooooh mixing of cultures" stuff she maunders through in some of the other books. Some of it is quite touching, and I'm such a sucker for the fairy tale hurt/comfort of deprivation/luxury (or even basic creature comforts) that are especially well played in a Cinderella retelling. ...more
Goddammit. If I end up reading this entire freaking series just because of the Wimsey homage character, I swear I will....not be surprised.
Okay, so,Goddammit. If I end up reading this entire freaking series just because of the Wimsey homage character, I swear I will....not be surprised.
Okay, so, there's an egregious amount of dialect, and the handling of Hinduism is maaaaaaaaybe a step and a half above Temple of Doom, and the author is clearly v. proud of how she's handling issues of race in Edwardian England with a heroine whose mother was Indian, and while you're totally aware she's tanking it most of the time, you don't realize how much she's tanking it until you read the passage about suffragettes, which is actually pretty decent, and oh my god, are we not even going to vaguely address the fact that the villain might, you know, have some legitimate grievances against the British in India, even if she is batshit crazy? No? Not really? Oh. Okay then.
The romance is a little half-hearted, and the fairy tale pastiche doesn't work nearly as well for me as The Fire Rose did (which is a guilty pleasure re-read of mine), and even the magic isn't all that magic-y for me, but DID YOU SEE THAT THERE'S A NOT-TERRIBLE WIMSEY HOMAGE? Because there is. And he's not terrible. And I'm going to end up reading the entire damn series just to watch him swan onstage every couple of chapters, say something pithy, solve someone's problems, then swan back off. Hey, I recognize my weaknesses. ...more
**spoiler alert** Susanne Whitestone is no Harriet Vane. That could really be the sum and whole of a rather disgruntled review. (Even as I fairly well**spoiler alert** Susanne Whitestone is no Harriet Vane. That could really be the sum and whole of a rather disgruntled review. (Even as I fairly well enjoyed tearing through this in one sitting.)
Lackey trudges into some weird class territory here, and Susanne spends all but the last THREE PAGES mooning after some dude who will never see past the class barrier, even though she's gentry but not the right kind and I don't even, and at least she has some spine and grows a bit, but ugh. Again with Lackey doing better with the World War One stuff than she does with much of the socio-political commentary, but seriously? Seriously? You're going to write off your WIMSEY HOMAGE with someone he doesn't quite see as an equal for most of the book, someone who only slightly agrees that he's not terrible to have around by the end of the book. At least there wasn't a total romantic turnaround by the end.
Well. I just goes to show that even the homage falls apart. Wimsey wouldn't uproot his life for someone he didn't respect enough to make her own decisions, and Harriet never would have put up with most of this bullshit, much less got into a passive-aggressive catfight over someone else's fiance.
(Though props to Lackey for making characters eager to see the backside of the heroine (not like that). Just because she's the heroine doesn't mean she didn't deeply, deeply inconvenience the family who took her in briefly, as well as almost get their son killed, and Lackey made their response to that entirely reasonable, if a titch narrowsighted.)
Also the Donkeyskin fairy tale is creepy as fuck. I'm not sure I ever quite realized that before. ...more