The Casual Vacancy is painful, beautiful, uncomfortable, dark, funny; but mostly it's honest. Rowling's gorgeous prose is familiar to Harry Potter rea...moreThe Casual Vacancy is painful, beautiful, uncomfortable, dark, funny; but mostly it's honest. Rowling's gorgeous prose is familiar to Harry Potter readers, and her storytelling is as masterful as ever in The Casual Vacancy.
I think if you enjoy works by Jonathan Franzen, Ian McEwan, Stieg Larsson, and Jeffrey Eugenides, then maybe you'll also enjoy this book. The characters are flawed in the most candid and raw ways imaginable; characters so realistic that the reader can put a face (yet different name) to each of them. It's not difficult to relate to the villains and heroes, which might explain why some readers do not like the book.
No, it's not Harry Potter, and readers should not expect it to be. But it is brilliant.(less)
Um, I don't know where to start. I'll try to be non-spoilery.
I usually don't read book reviews or seek information about the plot of a book before I r...moreUm, I don't know where to start. I'll try to be non-spoilery.
I usually don't read book reviews or seek information about the plot of a book before I read it. So, the only things I knew about The Name of the Star were those on the book jacket. Southern girl, London boarding school, strange "power," and it's written by Maureen Johnson. My point is that I didn't have any expectations of this book.
And I'm glad I didn't know what to expect. I'm pretty sure I would have been disappointed if I had known anything about the story before turning the first page.
There is a lot of potential to make a very good, suspenseful young adult thriller in this book; it just never really delivers. I don't believe seemingly caring American parents send their only child to a boarding school that's in such close proximity to so many murders. I don't want to read how close-knit a family is--I want to see it and feel it. I don't believe a villain chooses serial killing as a means to such a simple end. I don't want so many gruesome murders to have such little meaning. I don't believe the mechanics of the supernatural elements in the plot. I like my supernatural rooted in some kind of reality, and I had too many unanswered questions to really enjoy the story as it unfolded.
I think the biggest disappointment for me is the lack of gravity in the storytelling. Maybe the goal is to be a young adult Sookie Stackhouse series. But I don't really like the Sookie Stackhouse series. The flippant humor throughout the book felt misplaced. Don't get me wrong--I loved the humor! It's just not balanced well against the creepiness, in my opinion.
Also, since I knew next to nothing about the book, I was thoroughly confused when it ended. I couldn't find anything on the physical book to indicate it was the first in a series. I only knew there would be at least one more book because I have friends who mentioned "the next book." This book can be read on its own, but it also leaves the reader with a bit of a cliffhanger. So when I finished it, not only was I bewildered about what I had just read, but I was also confused about whether it was supposed to leave that cliffhanger. I wondered if I missed something.
I'm a big fan of character development in a book, and I didn't see any of that in The Name of the Star. The characters are flat; I didn't feel compelled to care about any of them, really. A few are interesting, but before they're truly developed, they disappear in the background like wallpaper.
Overall, it's an entertaining read. Its energy ebbs and flows to really great highs and sadly flat lows, but I think its strengths warrant you give it a try if you like the following: young adult fiction, suspense, creepy stuff, Sookie Stackhouse (minus the sex), and not getting too emotionally invested in characters.(less)
Excellent pacing and engaging storytelling. I really enjoy each character; usually I can find someone to dislike in any book. Even "bad" and minor cha...moreExcellent pacing and engaging storytelling. I really enjoy each character; usually I can find someone to dislike in any book. Even "bad" and minor characters shine in City of Bones. I love how Clare has written a paranormal book that doesn't read like a paranormal book. By that, I mean City of Bones doesn't rely on the usual demon/magic/undead/super-powerful elements to drive the storyline. And that's refreshing.(less)