This book was so beautiful and as I was reading I kept really wishing this was my life (um, obviously not the parts that involve people being killed a...moreThis book was so beautiful and as I was reading I kept really wishing this was my life (um, obviously not the parts that involve people being killed and stuff, but the relationships and families were beautiful)
The premise of the book is great--the main character is the first black vampire, as she has been genetically modified with human dna to have darker skin which allows her to stay awake during the day and to be less sensitive to the sun than other vampires. The story begins when she wakes up in a cave blind, badly burned and with no memory of who she is, where she came from. She soon discovers that her entire family has been murdered and spends the course of the novel rebuilding her life, discovering herself and dealing with the grief and trauma of the loss of a family she does not remember.
Apart from a great story, Octavia Butler provides a tender exploration of various polyamourous BDSM relationships that I can't say enough times how beautiful they are. She deals with issues of jealousy, community, family and other issues. She also deals with issues of age/adulthood in a really interesting (and sometimes a little bit uncomfortable) way that really subverts power dynamics and empowers youth (although I would be cautious about recommending it to youth and would be sure to warn them of the fact that the book is quite sexually explicit at times).
She also does a great job of exploring what it feels like to come out of the kind of trauma that causes a person to have to completely rebuild their life. This hit hard for me and was really healing for me to read.
I would definitely recommend this book to readers of vampire novels looking for something different. At the same time, it deals with a lot more sci-fi elements than most vampire novels and I would actually consider this book sci-fi and recommend it to sci-fi fans.
It felt like it took me a long time to get through this book. The only other Neil Gaiman book I had read before was Mirrormask and in a lot of ways, t...moreIt felt like it took me a long time to get through this book. The only other Neil Gaiman book I had read before was Mirrormask and in a lot of ways, this felt like the same book only way way way longer. There were times while reading this book that I was really really into it and other times that I kind of just got a little confused/disinterested in what was going on and zoned out a little. I was going to give it 3 stars, but the last chunk of it that I read made me care about it a lot more again and brought the story together, so I ended up giving it 4 stars.
I really like the concept of this book. It's kind of about the people who slip through the cracks and how they become invisible to everyone else, only in this book, they actually are, well, not quite invisible, but as soon as you become part of them (they have their own society called London Below that exists beneath London), people forget you exist and don't notice you and if you can get them to notice or pay attention to you, they forget instantly--so you are effectively invisible.
The story is about a man from London Above who somehow notices a girl from London Below in a time of need and gets drawn into her struggle. He's kind of living between two worlds--stuck in London Below but kind of trying to get back to his life in London Above. It was a beautiful story and obviously a commentary on the way that "polite society" and governments and stuff are able to completely ignore and disregard awful stuff happening to homeless people and low income people and people without health insurance and stuff. I guess it was just a little long--I really don't have anything against long books if they hold my attention, but there is something about his style of writing that just loses me a little bit sometimes (less)
I loved this book as much as I loved the first one. A lot of the same themes were expanded upon which was cool, but the book also had its own tone.
We learn a lot more about Afterlights (the name for the ghosts in Everlost) with special abilities (such as Ally's ability to skinjack, Mikey's ability to change himself, and some other abilities previously only vaguely mentioned like ectoripping)--specifically we get a lot more information about how characters get those abilities, how they can use them. There is a lot of back and forth about whether they are good or bad or a little of both and that discussion is really interesting and engaging.
Shusterman shows a much more sinister side of Mary, which is exciting and a much more tender side of Mikey. He also explores a lot more of the specifics about why Ally feels such a strong pull to visit her home. The friendship between Ally and Mikey is also developed in depth and is probably one of the most complex and exciting things about this book.
As with the second book in most trilogies, this book serves as kind of a bridge between the first and the second and a stage for whatever is going to go down in the conclusion to brew. It's hard to say whether it really stands alone as a book because I started it the day I finished the first and went into the third as soon as I finished this one, but I think it probably would stand on its own because a lot of cool things happen.
Anyway, I'm reading the third now and loving it so I can't wait to see how the story pans out. This is still my favourite series I've read in awhile and anyone into teen sci-fi/fantasy is likely to love it!(less)
I finished this book like a week ago, shame on me for not writing a review. I was partially holding out because I think I may review this book for pre...moreI finished this book like a week ago, shame on me for not writing a review. I was partially holding out because I think I may review this book for prettyqueer, but I wanted to read the sequel first, which I got from the library. I try to review books as soon as I read them, though, so I will put down a few notes:
I did love that this was a book about dragons where the dragons are good! As someone who has played dungeons and dragons and read some amount of fantasy based on western dragon lore, I am kind of used to going into the dungeon and slaying the dragon, so it was cool to read a book where the dragons are actually more like helpers or allies.
I have not come across too many fantasy or sci-fi novels with main characters who have disabilities (Gathering Blue by Lois Lowry is a good one, though)and was really excited to find that the main character in this novel had a disability. There were some points where I liked what she did with this--I specifically loved that she was shown as a person in a body accomplishing physical things that her body could do and I loved the pairing of this girl with the energy of her dragon. I really think Goodman had the potential to go a lot further and do a lot cooler things with this character, though, and I often felt like she only had a disability when it was convenient. There were a lot of instances where she "overcame" her disability and got out of situations by doing things with her body that actually should not have been physically possible--it was kind of like there was this message that the physical limitations of her disability were something that were not real if she had enough will. This kind of sucked as far as portrayals of people with disabilities go, but it also showed a lack of creativity as far as storytelling goes--like she couldn't think of a single way that the character could get out of that by doing the things her body is capable of doing? Boring. It also kind of seemed that in the end, disability turns out to be this metaphor for not being a whole person, barf.
There was a trans character in this book which was pretty much the reason I read it in the first place and she was actually really a total badass. I was hoping to see a little more in her relationship with the main character, who is pretending to be a boy so she can be the dragoneye. There was potential for a lot of cool discussions and understandings and stuff there, and Goodman only really took advantage of a small amount of that potential. I also did not appreciate towards the begining of Lady Dela's introduction into the story--the part where the main character is told she's trans--that they get a little too descriptive about some of her body parts which just seemed voyeristic, in bad taste, and also really out of place/irrelevant in a teen fantasy novel. There is, however, a cool discussion about how having surgery or not having surgery as a trans woman does not make someone more or less of a woman. Anyway, I do appreciate what is done with gender in this book beyond that too. Basically, she gives the message that women are badass and being a woman is totally badass.
I'm also not really into the passive support of slavery on the part of the main character. Like, she's a slave owner, and she does this "good deed" and frees a couple of her slaves, but also forces some of her other slaves to be their slaves. And there are slaves everywhere, most of the people who are her "friends" are actually kind of her slaves (or someone else's slaves who are assigned to her). Women are basically slaves too. And there are all these instances where people have to do stuff they don't want to because they are slaves and that's treated like this awkward part of suddenly being wealthy and powerful, but ultimately something the main character just needs to adjust to.
I tried to do a little research on Chinese dragon lore while reading this book because I know so little about it. I really couldn't find a ton of good information that had shown up in the books in my library, but I definitely didn't dig. Basically, this is a book that draws on stuff from Chinese dragon lore and also from the Chinese zodiac, but it's written by a white lady, so I was kind of on the lookout for gross cultural appropriation stuff and was just trying to be a little more educated on the stuff she was drawing from--I definitely did not find anything in my research that corresponded to an idea of a dragon tied to each year of the zodiac, but some of the other things come up. Honestly, I really didn't find as much about how this plays into actual Chinese history and dragon lore as I would have liked to, but she didn't do a great job at handling other identities she does not have (like people with disabilities) so I wouldn't be surprised if it was a little messed up--I wish I knew more about why she wrote this--that said, I didn't feel like she was super exploitative of a culture that's totally not hers, so that could be good or it could be my own ignorance.(less)
Okay, so I actually loved this book. There were a few parts where it was a little over-the-top and campy but I enjoy campy and it was over-the-top in...moreOkay, so I actually loved this book. There were a few parts where it was a little over-the-top and campy but I enjoy campy and it was over-the-top in a way that was stylistically appropriate to the story.
I have sometimes gotten to this stagnent point with reading teen dystopian/fantasy type novles where I can predict everything that's going to happen and that was definitely not the case with Modelland. Every time I thought I had mostly figured out how the story was supposed to go, something would happen that took my boring expectations for a loop.
There was one storyline that didn't get wrapped up (I'm assuming because it's going to be continued in the next book) that I had really hoped would find some resolution but also kind of suspected that was the storyline that wouldn't be resolved in the first book.
I have always been a Tyra fan and have always believed her to be a really smart and talented woman (I think she does some problematic things sometimes but whatever, I think her heart is in the right place and I think she's very sincere and so much less problematic than most other famous people) so when I heard she had written a book, I was not as quick to judge as some people were. When I read reviews for Modelland and the worst thing anyone said was that it was a bit campy and a little too long, I knew that was about the most glowing review she could have gotten, as I think her celebrity created tons of opportunities for reviewers to be really harsh on her so if "campy" and "too long" were all they could come up with I felt like I would probably enjoy the book. And I was right.
Anyway, the book is really gripping and has some great girl characters. Tyra deals with body image in a way that is really beautiful. I've found that body image is deemed a somewhat frivolous subject for teen fantasy/dystopian novels (body image issues were the farthest thing from Katniss's mind) and it's exciting to see strong and multi-dimensional characters in a novel like this that get really real about body image. I think readers who were fans of Uglies series by Scott Westerfeld might also enjoy Modelland.
One final thing I'd like to add to this possibly rambling and disorganized review is that I have read a lot of dystopian fiction for teens in the last year or two and this book felt very genre-bending in a really refreshing way. There are a lot of really weird and exciting fantastical elements to this novel that pull in a little bit of the type of curiosity found in Alice in Wonderland or Roald Dahl similar books and made this books feel like something really special(less)
i love books like this. anything that takes ideas from crazy complicated physics stuff that i will never actually understand like wormholes and stuff...morei love books like this. anything that takes ideas from crazy complicated physics stuff that i will never actually understand like wormholes and stuff is so exciting to me.
my parents had a copy of this book when i was growing up and i always thought about reading, but never actually got around to it. i'm glad i finally read it.
i really enjoyed reading this book and can't wait to read the others in the series. the one thing that i found kinda weird was that the whole book had no mention of god and i didn't sense any religious undertones until the last maybe 30 pages. then suddenly it was all about god.(less)