This was another fantastic book by the talented Scott Westerfeld; well done, very rich, and a definite page-turner. I think the reason it fell flat fo...moreThis was another fantastic book by the talented Scott Westerfeld; well done, very rich, and a definite page-turner. I think the reason it fell flat for me has less to do with the quality of the book and more to do with who it's geared toward. This came across both as very young and "reluctant reader" to me. With kids, everything feels vital, and that's how it is with the two main characters--Deryn will run to feed the flechette bats like the entire mission depends upon it, and the next moment, she's trying to keep her balance like the entire mission depends upon it, etc. And so you lose sense of what really is vital. It's not bad writing. It's just young.
The other thing that stuck out to me was, despite this being a rather thick book with nearly endless action sequences, I walked away feeling like nothing had really happened. It was a lot of action with character development sprinkled in, but no real heightening of plot or stakes. I never felt like we had a climax or dark moment. It was just one big whirlwind. And again, it's not because this book was lacking plot--it had plot. It did have a climax. It did have structure. The structure simply wasn't highlighted the way it would have been for more mature readers, because Westerfeld was focusing on what appeals to younger readers--which is action and excitement.
I've been having trouble articulating my thoughts on all this, but there you go. It was actually a very good book and I'm certain a lot of people will love it. I do feel, however, that it simply won't appeal to older readers as much as younger readers, because of the way it's written. (less)
UPDATE: After letting this sit on my shelf for two weeks and having no desire whatsoever to finish, I finally returned it to the library without finis...moreUPDATE: After letting this sit on my shelf for two weeks and having no desire whatsoever to finish, I finally returned it to the library without finishing. I think in the end, for me, the amount of sexual content and language, combined with what was a weaker plot than Green's other books, outweighed my desire to finish. I didn't need that stuff in my head, so I let it go. But the story itself was decent--just not compelling enough to outweigh the other issues, you know?
So, I'm still currently reading this and my thoughts are sure to develop more in the future, but I can tell I'm not going to like this one as much as Green's other works. It's--hmm. What I like about John Green is that, A) his work is incredibly funny in a very real but unique way, B) His characters are truly quirky. Every book has at least two or three utterly unique quirks. and C) There is always something epic about the quest his characters are on. And a supplemental D) there is a certain intelligence and confidence about his characters, their stories, and their quests. Even when they feel insecure about situations, they tend to have an internal resolve that allows them to grow through the story.
And I think my problem thus far with Looking For Alaska is that it's just less. Less funny. Less quirky. Less confident. Less epic. Less.
So the end result, thus far, is a great contemporary boys book that could have been written by anyone. Which is understandable. It was his debut, right? So I get that. And you can still spot the John Green elements in here, and I am still enjoying those elements. But I'm a little bummed Miles didn't know how to iron a shirt, that he didn't know Macedonia was a country, that he didn't know or care why Alaska did what she did in the end. John Green's other characters would have known such things. And I feel like this adventure has been just a bit more tentative than Green's future works, a bit more mundane, focused a bit more on the classic "let's be crazy and bad" high school sex-and-drugs approach to contemp.
Wow. How did I not realize this was going to be such a kick-butt story? It's seriously one of the most believable modern day fairytale retellings I ha...moreWow. How did I not realize this was going to be such a kick-butt story? It's seriously one of the most believable modern day fairytale retellings I have ever read. I never felt like I was being whacked over the head with the fairytale elements. It was so well balanced. The sister relationship was fantastic--it felt almost like I was reading about twins, not just sisters. And both these two girls were AWESOME. I love how, even though they both kicked butt, we got to see their limitations as well; we got to see Scarlett's insecurities about her looks; Rosie's insecurities about not being obsessed with the Fenris like Scarlett is; their push and pull relationship, how deeply close they are. Silas was the perfect third element to balance them both out. Also? Rosie in the subway? Best escape scene ever. EVER.
This is basically a rave review for me, guys. Loved this book, and so glad I went back to read it after reading Sweetly. (less)
"Once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love and dared to imagine a world free of bloodshed and war.
This is not that world."
Days Of Blood & Starlight is not that book, either. And I knew it wasn't going to be. But it was still a much tougher book to read than I'd hoped. It felt very much like the book that needed to happen as the follow up to Smoke & Bone, and I also felt like Laini managed to make these necessary situations less frustrating than they could have been. But many things were still frustrating. This is a book where Karou struggles and is shamed and digs deep to find her strength again. But watching her struggle is hard. Watching her be manipulated is hard. Watching the struggles between her and Akiva are hard. Necessary...but not easy.
There were some beautiful highlights. I was surprised at how much Zusana and Mik play a part in this story, how realistic that was. They were so much fun--and Mik! I love the way Mik and Zusana met! And the three-tasks thing? So adorbs. They were a breath of fresh air. There were others, too--(view spoiler)[Issa when she came was such a relief to have around. I also very much enjoyed Ziri, although I was irritated Laini would even toy with the idea of another romantic element. At one point we had Akiva, Thiago, and Ziri all vying for Karou, and I just wanted to smack them. (hide spoiler)]--I think having these additional parties and stories helped smooth the narrative in general.
People grow a lot in this book. Hazael and Liraz and Akiva grow. Karou grows. The trilogy itself takes on a whole new depth.
And in the end, I think I have to come back to my original statement. It was a necessary book, and very well done for being necessary, and I am grateful for that; but it was not at its core a particularly enjoyable book. But we were clearly working toward something. Something good. So I have my hopes for book 3, and I am glad to have read book 2.
This book was an incredible, gorgeous surprise. I've read Shiver, and loved it, and I didn't expect to love Lament more--but I did. I did! So excited...moreThis book was an incredible, gorgeous surprise. I've read Shiver, and loved it, and I didn't expect to love Lament more--but I did. I did! So excited over here! This book was gorgeous and funny, sweet and heartbreaking, and what I loved most about it all, is that it felt real.
Stepping away from the review for a second: I've read both Wicked Lovely and The Iron King, two of the iconic YA fairy books around, and didn't like either; I couldn't believe a word of them. I thought it's just because that's how people write fey, and so I must not like fey. But then I read Laini Taylor's Lips Touch, and loved it; and read her Dreamdark books, and loved them, and I never expected anyone else to recreate that realistic, gorgeous experience for me.
Back to the book review, Lament had the exact same effect as Laini Taylor's faerie books did: it was fresh, had all the best elements of love and magic and music, and the voice was so honest and fresh, and the romance was perfect. It struck the balance between falling head-over-heels for someone, without seeming like it happened too quickly; it was intense, without feeling melodramatic; and it had to overcome some truly difficult obstacles (not, you know, fake obstacles that were complete misunderstandings.)
Even the climax, which I feared might disintegrate into crazy weird fey stuff that makes little sense, actually maintained a huge amount of believability. I was completely sucked into this world.
So basically, if you've been around the block, are tired of fey cliches but enjoyed the freshness of Laini Taylor's fey or even the realism in Maurissa Guibord's Warped (which also reminded me of this book) then you may enjoy Lament. And if you enjoyed Shiver, felt a little frustrated with the rest of the Wolves of Mercy Falls series and long for the simple, sweet kind of romance found between Sam and Grace, you should definitely read Lament. It's nothing like the cover suggests. It's a million times brighter and better.(less)
So I know this book has been a toss up for a lot of people--will they love it, or hate it?--and I was lucky enough to be one of the people who loved i...moreSo I know this book has been a toss up for a lot of people--will they love it, or hate it?--and I was lucky enough to be one of the people who loved it. The mood was fantastic, and I truly enjoyed the plot. I found myself haunted by the tragic mystery of this island, Thisby, the water horses, and the people whose lives spin out on that island. Puck drove me crazy at first because, seriously, does everything make her angry? And then I realized she's just a firecracker of a person. It's what makes her brave. What allows her to stand up to others. I love that by just being herself, as truly as she can, stubborn and naive and somehow too grownup, she makes Sean see her. And Sean. No words. He was perfect. Not in the sweet tender way you would call perfect--but his character was very deep and conflicted, and I was so proud when he took the risk of wishing, of stepping out somewhere he might fail.
Downsides--there were a few implausibilities. The races were much shorter than I'd imagined; it seemed strange so many people would risk their lives for a five minute race. I'm not sure why Mutt's father allowed him to ride the horse he rode, given his mounts in past years. I loved the Holly character, but his story arc never gets any kind of resolution, and that felt odd. I was never sure whose side Peg, or even the shop lady sisters, were on.
There were a few things...peddles in my shoe along the way. Mostly, they were easy to ignore, because the story itself was sweeping and achey, which I think is part of what makes it a Maggie Stiefvater story: this is what she does best. Sweeping, longing, beautiful, achey. And I loved it. And I'm so glad I did.(less)
EDIT: Just re-read it. Oh my goodness. Absolutely killer the second time around.
Well folks, Daughter of Smoke and Bone definitely lived up to the hype...moreEDIT: Just re-read it. Oh my goodness. Absolutely killer the second time around.
Well folks, Daughter of Smoke and Bone definitely lived up to the hype. I will say, I'd expected it to be even more lyrical and imaginative than it was, based on Laini Taylor's other books. Normally I feel like I'm luxuriating in Laini's worlds. It was almost like Smoke & Bone was a little grittier, Laini's voice a tad more to the point. It was actually very interesting, because I kept putting it down so I could go write my own stuff, which means it was inspiring me in a completely new way. I liked that.
It boils down to this: I'm dying to know more. I wish the ending wasn't such a blatant lead-in to book two, but it totally worked, so I'm ok with that. Can't wait for more of Karou and Akiva!(less)
So I've been a looser because I finished this weeks ago, but never got around to writing the review. Well. Here it is then.
Grace can't explain the fa...moreSo I've been a looser because I finished this weeks ago, but never got around to writing the review. Well. Here it is then.
Grace can't explain the fascination she has over the yellow-eyed wolf that runs with a pack living in a nearby woods. Somehow she feels it's there for her when no one else is. Her fun, lighthearted, but absentee parents make it all too easy to stay in her own little world. Grace is part of a trio of friends at school, but when they're not all together as a group, the individual friendships are strained. So Grace stays practical about regular life and saves all her fantasies for the wolf--the one that saved her as a baby when she was attacked by the rest of the pack.
When a teenage boy is attacked and killed by the wolves, the town retaliates with mistrust and anger, and sets out to hunt the wolves down. This is when Grace finds a yellow-eyed boy wounded at her back door. It's her wolf--a boy named Sam--and he needs her help. Although he's a boy now, at any given moment the frigid winter could change Sam back into his wolf form. This is Grace's one chance to learn Sam's story, and maybe even develop the bond growing between them into something much more. With everyone beginning to suspect the wolves are more than they appear, and with the threat of a new wolf who just might be the "murdered" teenager, is it possible to keep their slender balance going, or is Grace going to loose Sam forever?
Two things I had trouble working into the query: Sam and Grace are in love pretty much from the start, and the story is told from Sam's point of view as well as Grace's. I thought this was a really great story. It goes through a surprising amount of metamorphosis with constant new threats and discoveries to keep adding layers to Grace&Sam's underlying love story. I know some said this was sappy, and others said it was another bad teen romance a la Twilight. But I'm going to take a stand and say that they're wrong.
Yes, it's a teen romance, and yes, there's the element of "you're my destiny, I'll die to save you." But this story really has a lot of layers. Grace is not your normal helpless heroine, and Sam isn't your perfectly tortured lover. They have their issues and their pasts, and the more you learn about them, the more convincing their actions and motives are. For example--even though Grace's parents are conveniently absent, this feels like an actual part of the story and conflict. They have their happy little lives and don't realize how much Grace needs them, even though she's taught herself to be self-sufficient, even learned to keep it from bothering her. But it plays a big part in her character. As much as she tries, you can see how much it hurts that they're always away. It doesn't consume her, but it hurts. I found that and other things very true to life.
Yeah, there were a few unrealistic things. But in general this is a quick paced, thoughtfully plotted book with a great balance of romance, action, conflict, and twists to keep you reading all the way through and close it with a sigh of relief, and a smile. I enjoyed this twice as much as Evermore and I thought Maggie did a great job. Can't wait to read the sequel. 4.5 stars.