An interesting ... I guess you could call it an extension of the origin story that began in Dragon Justice and Miles to Go. This felt a bit slighter t...moreAn interesting ... I guess you could call it an extension of the origin story that began in Dragon Justice and Miles to Go. This felt a bit slighter than "Miles to Go", but it was still worth reading. It showed Ellen as more comfortable with herself and in the larger community than she had been. At the end, I wanted to read more stories involving these characters. Hopefully Ms. Gilman will eventually write those stories.(less)
Have to admit that to me this feels like a less powerful version of Paladin of Souls, so far as the period romantic subplot goes. Covers a fair bit of...moreHave to admit that to me this feels like a less powerful version of Paladin of Souls, so far as the period romantic subplot goes. Covers a fair bit of the same emotional and thematic territory. Buuuuut it's territory that deserves to be covered, so. The modern framing story felt kind of weak, and like they went a little backwards from what seemed reasonably clear in The Betrayal of the Blood Lily. Or whichever book it was when (view spoiler)[Colin was all, I've never seen your Cambridge, I'll come with you. (hide spoiler)](less)
I adored this book's prequel, The Cabinet of Earths. This book felt ... like a somewhat muddled middle book. If it's not a middle book, then the loose...moreI adored this book's prequel, The Cabinet of Earths. This book felt ... like a somewhat muddled middle book. If it's not a middle book, then the loose ends from the first book are confusing. What happened to the Dauphin and Céleste from the first book? Does Pauline's grandfather have a sinister collection to the mysterious secret society?
It's awesome that Maya is a Halloween baby, but I wish Halloween had been played up a little bit more. (Apparently American-style observances of Halloween have spread into France and other parts of continental Europe.) But that's just my crazy Halloween partiality talking, I suspect.
My main complaint is that it was kind of confusing to figure out what actually happened. The magical narrative was ... odd and somewhat hard to follow.
One other thing I didn't like — the shot at modern vampire/paranormal romance seemed unnecessary and out of place. It worked in Royal Blood, but not so well in a children's book.(less)
3.5, I think. I think I only passed on four stories, and a couple of those were because I wasn't in the mood for the style of the piece or author at t...more3.5, I think. I think I only passed on four stories, and a couple of those were because I wasn't in the mood for the style of the piece or author at the time. But it also has a really useful and interesting introduction.
I jumped right to the Caroline Stevermer-Ellen Kushner story, because I am a huge Caroline Stevermer fangirl. Then I kind of forgot about the rest of the collection, possibly because it blended together in my mind with Willful Impropriety. The collections aren't actually that similar, at least not in the sense of being redundant. I think this one actually had a better ratio of punch-packing stories. Delia Sherman's book set a good tone, but I think that Veronica Schanoes Got It the most: her afterword talked about how everyone sees the cool bits, but not the class oppression. I mean, if you offered me a chance to be born as a member of the Victorian English upper classes, preferably a male one, I'd probably take it. But would I want everyone to live in that world? Not particularly.(less)
I waited forever and ever for this, or at least it felt like it. In general I think it was worth the wait. I feel like the author was willing to tackl...moreI waited forever and ever for this, or at least it felt like it. In general I think it was worth the wait. I feel like the author was willing to tackle some things that a lot of authors either wouldn't have been willing to deal with in a YA book, or would only have managed to handle in a stupid way.
This gave me the not-unprecedented realization that much of historical fiction is actually about things that modern people worry about. Example: drone strikes (now) corresponding to rockets (then). Though I'm not sure how much of that was on purpose.
This book was great for me, but I'm not sure how much of that is a function of it scratching some of my particular literary itches. I'll re-read it sometime and let you know. (Dates are super-approximate and probably wrong.)(less)
I read the sample chapters and was wildly curious. Only Ivan, no? I was not curious enough to spring for the e-ARC, but a friend kindly shared his wit...moreI read the sample chapters and was wildly curious. Only Ivan, no? I was not curious enough to spring for the e-ARC, but a friend kindly shared his with me. And then I read the dead tree version when it was new. (Read the e-ARC sometime in October 2012. The dead tree dates, below, are extremely approximate.)
This is not in the vein of the Miles books — seeing as how it's (finally!) an Ivan book, but it makes an interesting comfort book. Fun to read, interesting, but not too heavy in any way. I was wishing I had a copy yesterday, so I'll probably buy this when it comes out in paperback.
On to the story itself — it made me wonder why Ivan put up with his relatives. Probably because while being around them was annoying, fleeing would have been actively dangerous. I don't know if all the people who have clamored for an Ivan book over the years (self included) were expecting that.
I think I spotted an allusion to Tam Lin in the last sample chapter (6). Although that might be a coincidence. Or maybe they are both alluding to something else.(less)
FYI: the spoilers in this review assume you have read the book. If you display them you will be confused, at minimum, and probably spoiled.
I'm a happi...moreFYI: the spoilers in this review assume you have read the book. If you display them you will be confused, at minimum, and probably spoiled.
I'm a happily-ever-after kind of person. Not in the sense that all stories must end that way, but in the sense that ... if a book ends and there is the general sense that well, maybe the characters didn't get everything they want, but they'll be continuing on with their lives and that's all right, then that's fine with me. What will upset me is if you leave me with that sense and then in the next book everything has irretrievably fallen apart and then it just gets worse from there. (Ancient Light, I'm looking at you.)
So, generally, I'm not a fan of that kind of deconstruction in fiction. But weirdly, after this book, I kind of want it. I want to see the ten years down the road story when Kim and her conspecifics have worked out a more complicated relationship dynamic. Ideally one that doesn't make the Blessing fall apart. But I guess that wouldn't be a deconstruction so much as it would be a subversion. (view spoiler)[And I want to read the story where Kim has to help Ruli walk into the sunlight, and takes her ashes to Paris. Oh, how I do. (hide spoiler)]
I give Mme. Smith props for dealing doing the thematic wrestling (albeit subtly) with a lifestyle that a lot of people are leery of, in fiction and real life. But it weirds me out a bit that there was a bunch of info that seems like it should have been in the first book if it was going to be a thing. (view spoiler)[Kim's mother being, as Nat put it, a player; Jerzy, oh, EXISTING AT ALL. (hide spoiler)]
The characters made mistakes. Theoretically this should make them more real. But the nature of the mistakes made me see some of them as ... not unlikeable, but somewhat unsympathetic. (view spoiler)[Like ... Alec! Stop trying to drink yourself to death! And Kim, stop rushing into things and acting like the least genre savvy person alive! It probably didn't help that I was unconvinced by the Kim/Alec relationship. Beka and Tony were much more convincing even though there was much more tell than show there. (hide spoiler)]
So, I'd call this flawed but interesting. And definitely brain-engaging, even if you don't have my interest in imaginary countries. I might even buy it in paperback format, or as an ebook if I ever decide it's worth getting on that train.
This next part is not actually a spoiler, just my ramblings from before I read it. (view spoiler)[Okay ... officially itching to read this. Knowing that something is theoretically available elevates the itching quotient. There's at least one person ahead of me in the library queue though.
Oddly, the publisher's page doesn't make an excerpt available. Nor does the author's web site, or anything official that I could find anywhere. However, Google Books makes some pretty big chunks available. But there are skipped pages between the sections, which makes it not at all like reading the actual book would be. But if you want to read it despite that (it's spoilery as allget out), it's here. (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
Normally ... I follow the C.S. Lewis school of thought that says that if a book is good, it's good for all time, even if it was written for kids or te...moreNormally ... I follow the C.S. Lewis school of thought that says that if a book is good, it's good for all time, even if it was written for kids or teenagers and one has aged out of this demographic group. I don't automatically turn up my nose at YA books because they are YA books, or whatever, and I'm not embarrassed for people to know that I read them.
And don't get me wrong, I'm not embarrassed that I read this one. I was just ... left with the feeling that it wasn't written for people who are much older than the protagonists, who are just finishing high school. If I had caught it around that time I think I would have loved it. But as it was, I can't help feeling that it was like a "how to lose your virginity happily and comfortably" manual. On the one hand, yeah, this is an important rite of passage even if you aren't focused on virginity as purity. On the other ... it doesn't always hurt and sometimes it annoys me when authors focus on this. The scenes that dealt with this gave me an uncomfortable feeling, like I was reading someone's diary without their consent or something.
Other things that bothered me: I wasn't really convinced by the dystopic trappings, or the secret agent-esque sneaking around. And the chosen one vibe was a little strong. Also also, there never was an explanation for why (view spoiler)[the main character's father was romantically involved with the main character's aunt and mother (hide spoiler)]. Or if there was, I missed it. I admit to skimming at times.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
This was on my itching-to-read shelf for quite a while. There were some things I really loved — the periodic table of tea was brilliant. Catherynne Va...moreThis was on my itching-to-read shelf for quite a while. There were some things I really loved — the periodic table of tea was brilliant. Catherynne Valente's usual deft mythicist's touch is on display here.
But I'm not quite sure what I think. There were some things I enjoyed, but is this a good book? Does it convince me? Do September's experiences here really parallel her father's experiences as a World War II soldier? The way this book ends, the book is over but the story is clearly not. Jo Walton says that she views "re-reading a book for the first time as completing [her] read," and I agree with that. IMO you can't really know what you think about a book or set of books until you can read them when you know how it's all going to end.
There is a somewhat rough excerpt of this in the mass market edition of Omnitopia Dawn. No date though; it just says "Coming Soon."
Update: or maybe th...moreThere is a somewhat rough excerpt of this in the mass market edition of Omnitopia Dawn. No date though; it just says "Coming Soon."
Update: or maybe this hasn't been canceled by the publisher? Someone on Amazon reports that DAW told him that the MS has yet to be completed/turned in, and somehow all the book sites just stuck with the published date.
So, this has apparently been canceled by the publisher? This gave me this total nerdrage/DAW is dead to me feeling. But I don't think DAW is actually publishing much that I would be interested in reading, except maybe a second sequel to Cyteen ... and after the first sequel, well, let's just say any future ones are getting a library test drive before I buy them.(less)
I waited somewhat impatiently for this book — I lurked around the author's blog etc. and periodically updated this review with things like "Just read...moreI waited somewhat impatiently for this book — I lurked around the author's blog etc. and periodically updated this review with things like "Just read on YSW's twitter that this went to typesetting August 10." And now I've read it, and, hmm. Mixed feelings. Could this book possibly have lived up to my waiting-raised expectation levels? I don't know. I loved the ending but for the first half or so of the book I really wasn't feeling it.
Update, 28 May 2012: I re-read this. The ending's great and I really, really want to see where things go next. The transition between the end of Flora's Dare to the beginning of this one — where Flora has obediently gone to the Benica Barracks and then been detached to be junior aide de camp to her mother, the general of the army — is somewhat confusing. (Update, after August 2012 re-read: yeah, the course change isn't as bad here as in, say, John Barnes's Giraut series, but there was a small one, and it does create a feeling of mild confusion. We didn't resume where we left off, and I feel like there's at least a short story or a deleted scene or something between here and there.)
I really want to know why (view spoiler)[Buck and Tiny Doom (hide spoiler)] both say they should have killed Axacaya when they had the chance. I want to know why (view spoiler)[the Jack Boots are family. (hide spoiler)] I loved (view spoiler)[Hardhands (hide spoiler)] the octopus, and the appearances of the older generation generally. (If you are able to track down the various short stories Wilce has written, which mostly involve them, I recommend it. They cast an interesting light on the Flora trilogy. I asked YSW on her LJ if there was any chance that these stories would be collected and she made maybe noises at me, IIRC. If they ever were I'd totally buy that. Replace two books, one magazine, and an electronic file with one book? Yes please.)
I loved the various twists involving Udo, though I didn't care for the way that Tharyn was being all sulky by the end. My thoughts on (view spoiler)[the love triangle: strong inclination to Team Udo. If only because if Hardhands thinks Tharyn is a great idea, he must be a terrible idea. Hardhands was no fleet-flooted fancy boy when it came to personal relationships. Does Udo know what Cutaway's price was? Does Tharyn? (hide spoiler)]
Adults are not useless here, though Flora thinks they are. And not without justification, as they have spent most of her life not telling her important things that it would be useful to know.
Agree with everyone who has noted that everything was by no means wrapped up. Reading between the lines, I suspect that YSW is hoping/planning/trying to sell her/a publisher on more volumes. But I may well be wrong there. Not based on inside info ... just a guess. (30 May 2012: YSW just wrote this on FB: "Nini Mo's comment on the end of the Saga of the Second Flora: 'Everything has an end, except for sausages, which have two.'")
Oh, and if you have a hardcover, take a look at the front cover under the dust jacket. Easter egg! (view spoiler)[It's the Cierra Califa! logo. See the comments to this review for more info. (hide spoiler)] In general the book design people were nice to this book, I think. The covers under the jacket have some interesting patterning on them, in addition to the Easter egg. I think it may be meant to suggest the waves of the sea ... though maybe I'm just imagining things. I like the cover art of Flora in her uniform, but I kind of wish Flynn were more red. Ah well, that's a minor detail. :)["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
So, I loved this book's immediate prequel, Feed. But I think this one may have middle book syndrome. The author is clearly going somewhere interesting...moreSo, I loved this book's immediate prequel, Feed. But I think this one may have middle book syndrome. The author is clearly going somewhere interesting, and the final book in the trilogy could well be awesome. But near the end of this one, something happened which appeared to, well, kind of violate the rules of the universe as established. Even though there were hints about it, it felt more like, well, magic than science, you know? (For those who have read the book, I'm talking about the thing with Shaun, not the other thing. The other thing I did see coming ... just had no idea how exactly it would happen.) The problem is probably that (a) I don't know enough about virology, and (b) the answer will come in book 3. I hope.
This is definitely a darker book than Feed. Not at all "more of the same," which is good, and yet ... I guess it just didn't push my readerly buttons in quite the same way. Your mileage may vary. I think this might be an example of what Hirondelle calls a claustrophobic book. It's a first person narrative, and you spend all your time in Shaun's head. And after what happened in book 1, his head is a lousy place to be. He's seriously pissed and essentially insane but functional. Mostly. I liked being inside the head of the first book's narrator. Shaun as he is here, not so much.
Two things I forgot to mention. One, I enjoyed the references to the Wizard of Oz. Two, as a research scientist's SO, I feel like this gets a lot of medical research structure dysfunction exactly right.(less)
I'm going to get this out of the way: there was a part of me that worried that this volume would be terrible or disappointing, but I feel like it's a...moreI'm going to get this out of the way: there was a part of me that worried that this volume would be terrible or disappointing, but I feel like it's a worthy successor to the Bordertown stories I particularly loved, like "Danceland" and Finder. The gimmick that the way to the Border has been closed for 13 years, from the perspective of the world we know, while a mere 13 days passed on the Border is played with just enough for humor and drama, not to the point of being cheesy.
I'll be posting reviews of the individual pieces later on, but if you'd like to sample some past and present Bordertown stories, go to this page, where you'll find links to "Danceland" and (under Other Tales) pieces from this anthology, including Cory Doctorow's excellent "Shannon's Law." (Particularly recommended for people who work in IT.)(less)