Blar. I'm tired of protagonists being all rapey in the guise of being "edgy." If I'm going to read about an amoral, detached investigator of human natBlar. I'm tired of protagonists being all rapey in the guise of being "edgy." If I'm going to read about an amoral, detached investigator of human nature, I don't care to waste my time with this self-important, did he mention he's pretty? because he knows he's soooo pretty, insufferable blowhard. When your exploration of the dark sides of humanity are pretty much all about this dude sees women as chattel whose value is determinable by their level of fuckability, even if that level is unexpectedly higher than this paragon of human observation first thought, well. You're not particularly cutting-edge or interesting. ...more
**spoiler alert** And thus begins the Great Childhood Novel Reread of 2011. Alas that Over Sea, Under Stone does not hold up as well as I'd like. It w**spoiler alert** And thus begins the Great Childhood Novel Reread of 2011. Alas that Over Sea, Under Stone does not hold up as well as I'd like. It was never my favorite of the Dark is Rising sequence, but I did love me some Jane Drew back when I was her age.
Turns out, fifteen years down the line, that the Drews are just not particularly interesting on their own. Jane in particular does not wear as well as I'd hoped - in this novel in particular, her defining characteristic seems to be "the girl," and my identification with her as a child has not held up into adulthood.
The bad bits: the Drews just aren't as compelling as a) I remembered them or b) the other characters in the series; there's some "let's pretend we're about to be eaten by the natives in the jungle" stuff in the beginning that was atmospheric at age 12 but is pretty icky at 30; and the worst possible insult that anyone can hurl is "girl." Also, you know, just a titch boring.
The good bits: MERRIMAN. MERRIMAN. MERRIMAN. This book is amazing to go back and reread once you know all the backstory, just to appreciate the little snippets that are dropped oh-so-casually every time Gumerry appears. I started the series way back when with The Dark Is Rising, so the WHEE MERRIMAN! reaction has been a part of my Reading Experience for this book every single time. It's the thrill of knowing a character's secret identity that Cooper does so well throughout the whole series.
It's like, well, I get what Cooper is trying to do with this book - outsider POV! a gentle introduction to the mythology! relatable, human characters! - and it should be things that I love - outsider POV! mythology introduction! a slice of humanity in the grand scale of things - but I just! don't! care! I want more of the Old Ones! I want more of the actual battle, not just the side view that the Drews get. I think once I lost my identification with Jane Drew (which, honestly, was based primarily on the fact that she was The Girl), the other things that I love just didn't add up enough to overcome some of the dullness.
To use a more current reference, I feel like this book is sort of in the same place as Megan Whalen Turner's The Thief is, at least as for location in a series as relevant to overall mythology, but I - and this is heresy to 12-year-old me - liked The Thief better.
And, honestly? When I say "dull"? I really just mean "dull in comparison to my mad, unholy infatuation with at least three of the other four books." (Greenwitch drags juuuuuuust a tad as well.) ...more
Overall for the series, it held up better than I expected, now that I'm not reading it through the haze of an adoring twelve-year-old. Raistlin is morOverall for the series, it held up better than I expected, now that I'm not reading it through the haze of an adoring twelve-year-old. Raistlin is more convincingly evil; Crysania is even more irritating, and Caramon is almost insufferably ridiculous for this entire book than I remembered, but it was easy to slip back into the old magic of this universe. ...more
Oh, this one was a hard one to rank. It was a three when I first picked it up, a two when I first put it down, a four when I picked it up again yearsOh, this one was a hard one to rank. It was a three when I first picked it up, a two when I first put it down, a four when I picked it up again years later, and a three when I put it back down a second time. I was determined to knock off a lot of low-hanging almost-finished fruit from my TBR pile this weekend, and I finally read the last thirty pages. So, hey, let's average this out to a three? Ish?
This is one of those books that tragically reinforces my extreme reluctance to get rid of books. My mom gave me this for Christmas lo those many moons ago, knowing it was a good fit for me just because of the blurb quote about how at some point, during any gathering of people, no matter how much the author loves those people, she realizes she would rather be reading. My mother, perspicacious woman that she is, recognized her wee darling in that sentence.
And, yes, that is sort of what this book is about. But only sort of. It's also got a huge whack of general audience literary criticism of female action-adventure novels, detective novels, and Catholic secular saint novels. Which turns out to be fascinating to me, once I got over expecting to read about how one balances the desire to be with people with the desire to read. I was sorely disappointed when I first put the book down, midway through the first literary criticism section, but I came back to it a few years later, and it was exactly what I wanted to read.
What was the difference between Read #1 and Read #2? The internet, I think. I have learned far more - absorbed far more - about feminism and women in fiction and women who write and so much of the stuff that my literature degree attempted to beat in my head, so I was far, far more appreciative of the discussion of women and books and women in books and women writing books in this book after a few years knocking around the internet than I was after three years of Serious Literature Classes. (Okay, part of that is probably because I spent much of the time I should have been studying Serious Literature going to Rocky Horror, writing papers on Rocky Horror and the Exorcist, and discovering the wild and woolly world of internet media fandom. Slog through Anna Karenina or the Sith Academy, hmmm, that's a toughie. ) What seemed a bit dry and a bit pointless on first read was far more engaging the second time around.
And then, hm, I kind of got bored during the Catholic secular saint portion of the competition (a bit of a letdown after the female action-adventure novel section and the detective novel section, both of which I had vested interests in), and I put it down for another year or so. Picked it up again, found Corrigan's writing style just as charming as I did the second time around, and was delighted by the reading list at the back of the book.
Recommended, at least for those interested in easy reading lit crit. The bits about a life lived with books feel a bit like a framing device, albeit a lovely one. ...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
Rollicking space opera. A page-turner but not an omg-I-must-forego-bathing-since-I-can't-take-a-book-in-the-shower, although I hear the series gets liRollicking space opera. A page-turner but not an omg-I-must-forego-bathing-since-I-can't-take-a-book-in-the-shower, although I hear the series gets like that. Have also heard that these first few books later read like the first few Peter Wimseys do upon reread after reading everything. Oh, Miles and Peter....more
You get the feeling that this is all set-up for what's coming later, but it's always interesting set-up. I found myself strangely fascinated by the CeYou get the feeling that this is all set-up for what's coming later, but it's always interesting set-up. I found myself strangely fascinated by the Cetagandan societal rituals and bubbles....more
I feel like I enjoyed this book way more having read it while actually in Morocco. Everything is so much more meaningful when you're actually lookingI feel like I enjoyed this book way more having read it while actually in Morocco. Everything is so much more meaningful when you're actually looking at the stuccowork, driving between the different neighborhoods of Casablanca, etc etc etc!
Am still a little weirded out by the almost complete nonentity of women in the book, though. Women occasionally provide information, complain, or give birth; men do things. It was hard to tell how much of that was the author and how much is a reflection of the culture.
This opinion is, of course, colored by other books on Morocco I read/flipped through, which suffer from the same phenomenon. My choices in books for trying to get a feel for what traveling as a woman alone in Morocco were a) books about girls who grew up in harems and 2) Edith Wharton.