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Oct 05, 2010
Oct 05, 2010
Mercedes Lackey, I am disappoint.
It's been a bit since I went through my Valdemar binge, and in the interval I've looked back on the series and seen s...more Mercedes Lackey, I am disappoint.
It's been a bit since I went through my Valdemar binge, and in the interval I've looked back on the series and seen some of its flaws: the worldbuilding isn't all that creative, the characters generally caricatured, the plots rather uninspired, the angst overexaggerated. That doesn't mean I didn't enjoy them, and doesn't even mean they won't stand up to a re-read - it just means they're not on my 'bucket books' list, and that's really fine. A lot of good books that I love dearly aren't on that list. (The Pern series, for example, which shares a lot of flaws with Valdemar now that I come to think of it.)
When I picked up this book at the library, I was so excited - though it'd been some time since I read the first of the Collegium Chronicles, I remembered wanting more when it ended and hoped that I'd be able to recall enough that the second made sense. By the time I needed to, I had, so that wasn't a problem.
The reason this book got two stars, instead of three or even four, is that after a certain point it goes absolutely nuts. It's crazy for a while before that, of course, since the crux of the plot is one of those highly contrived coincidences that drives me up the wall. Yes, human decisions don't always make sense, and yes, human stupidity is infinite, but that can't be the center of the plot of a novel, especially one where large numbers of humans are advised by infinitely wise magical horses.
I could go with the whole 'chance blurting makes Mags subject of suspicion' plot if it weren't for the rest of it. To avoid spoilers, all I can say is: everyone around him suddenly seems to go crazy and abandon him for no real reason, blaming him for things that aren't his fault and completely flip-flopping on assertions they'd made earlier, which sends Mags spiraling into a deep and suicidal depression and ends in a disaster which is a) not his fault and b) blamed on him by everyone, including his closest friends. There follows a chapter or so of Mags wallowing, Bella Swan-like, in misery, as everyone he knows who have every reason to trust and care about him treat him like horse shit they don't want to muck out of the paddock.
And it drove me up the fucking wall.
This makes no sense. None. It goes against everything that's already established about Valdemar, the Heralds, and the Companions in earlier series. Think about how completely insane - not to mention dangerous - Tylendel became before his Companion repudiated him! And I don't recall a single instance in two books where a Companion doubted Alberich, even though he does hail from Valdemar's oldest enemy. So to have the Companions turn on Mags on circumstantial evidence - evidence which leads to no valid conclusion - rings completely false.
The worst part, though, was (view spoiler)[when Lena and Bear blamed him for Dallen's broken legs. Like, didn't you see him crying his eyes out waiting for help to come? And you treat him like shit? As if anyone, especially a Mindspeaker whose connection to his Companion was as intense as Mags' with Dallen, would purposefully hurt their Companion. It was completely out of character, unfit for the circumstances, and infuriating. (hide spoiler)] I nearly set the book down then and there.
After the moping, there is a hasty resolution in which Mags is treated like shit yet again (though accidentally this time, which may or may not be better) and a saccharine ending in which nothing is really explained and this whole book, in retrospect, starts to look like angst-fueled filler more than anything which really has a place in the series.
I'm not even going to get into Kirball and the continuity clusterfuck it represents.
To be honest, I feel cheated by this series. The name - The Collegium Chronicles - is a terrible misnomer. I expected this would be about the transitional period between the old mentoring system to the new classroom system - a bridge between Vanyel's Valdemar and Talia's. It could have been an interesting subject, almost sociological, but instead it's bogged down with a contrived 'threats from abroad' plot and more whining than even Lavan Firestorm subjected us to. I'll probably read the next one - which presumably will be the last - but only because I'm curious about the country the foreigners come from. I could care less what happens to Mags, Bear, Lena, and Amily.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
Notes are private!
Aug 21, 2011
Aug 21, 2011
Jun 16, 2011
Oct 01, 2008
Oct 01, 2008
OH THANK GOODNESS. It's over.
By the by, if you're observant, you'll notice this book is the only thing on my 'what the fuck was this shit' shelf. THAT...more OH THANK GOODNESS. It's over.
By the by, if you're observant, you'll notice this book is the only thing on my 'what the fuck was this shit' shelf. THAT IS BECAUSE IT IS REALLY THAT BAD. SO BAD IT NEEDED A WHOLE NEW SHELF FOR ITS BADNESS. I AM NOT SHITTING YOU.
Ugh. Ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh. Where do I even start? Seriously, where?
I guess I can relate to you the history of me and this horrible waste of paper.
A few years ago - two? three? - my local independent bookstore had an ARC review program. Read a book, send them a review, keep the book. Sweet deal, huh? Especially since I got The Palace of Illusions (OMFG LOVE SO MUCH) and The Commoner out of it.
And then I picked up this book. I think my thought process was basically "ooh, spaceships, cool!" and not much else.
I didn't start reading it for another half a year. Keep in mind that this means I've been technically trying to read this book for at least a year and a half. And I am not a slow reader. Really. Especially not of YA.
But this train wreck... I couldn't get into it. At all. My only motivation near the end was being so close to being done.
I don't know how to describe how bad this is. It's shitty science fiction. The writing is unfathomably poor. The characters are driven by plot, not the other way around. The token females are around for no good reason. (No, really, will someone tell me why Leucadia existed?) It's impossible to get a sense of what anything looks like. The heroes are pricks. Sexism is rampant and gag-inducing. Violence is random. The antagonists are cardboard cutouts. The plot is too rambling at some points and too fast at others. There's no denouement. In the last chapter the heroes (I'm not making this shit up) shoot the bad guys in their spaceships with a rifle while crouching on the outside hull of their ship.
ARRRRGHFFFFZ NO. NO COOKIE FOR YOU.
I was wondering by a third of the way through if this had been self-published and yet I don't care enough to seriously try and find out. If it wasn't self-published, there is an editor out there who at the very least needs a serious dressing down.
If you're thinking about reading this one, may I suggest some decent science fiction for you? How about Ender's Game, Downbelow Station, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Dune- hell, even On Basilisk Station, which is pretty light space opera, is superior to this. And of course, there's always Doctor Who.
I thought I'd seen the worst SF offering of our time in I Am Number Four. I was wrong.(less)
Notes are private!
Apr 09, 2011
Apr 10, 2011
Apr 09, 2011
Apr 14, 2011
Jun 15, 2011
For the record, I am only a little bit guilty about not liking this. Why? Well, I mean, it was a First Reads win for me, and it's an indie novel. Wher...more For the record, I am only a little bit guilty about not liking this. Why? Well, I mean, it was a First Reads win for me, and it's an indie novel. Whereas a book from a major publisher won't be affected by a one-star review - will barely take a dip in the average rating - this one will suffer more significantly. And the author seems like a very nice person.
That being said, I can't make myself finish the book and I can't bear to be nice about it. Sorry, Susan Goldsmith. You may want to pretend the review ends here.
Let's start with the good, the thing that made me interested in the book: the concept. There is such potential for ambiguity in this idea! I was attracted to the potential of a being who doesn't know who or what she really is, who has no control over her life at all, trying to make her way erratically through the world in which she had no absolutes to lean on except for her own basic nature.
What a pity to discover that Abithica has absolutes after all, and she's just too clueless to notice them.
If I described to you a supernatural being who was compelled to help humans, who believed without doubt or irony in a higher power, and to whom children and animals were innately attracted, what would you think of?
And you'd probably be right. (I didn't read far enough to confirm absolutely - maybe there's a twist and Abithica turns out to be something else, but I doubt it.)
The fact that she has never worked this out, not in however many hosts she's inhabited - that, in addition, she seems not to have any interest in her own origins and never tries to figure out what she might be - was somewhat annoying all on its own. It was so blindingly obvious I wanted to shout at her.
And, um, speaking of blinding.
Oh, dear God (ironically), the preachiness.
Abithica is judging, judging, judging her host from almost the minute she finds herself in a new body.
"What was that hanging from my lower lip, some sort of ring? Yuck! That would have to go as soon as I had a little privacy, but I didn't dare mention it."
"There really wasn't much I liked about Sydney, and she probably didn't like much about me. She'd no more change her ways than a leopard could change its spods, and then where would Faith be?"
"Then there was the smeared black eyeliner, way too heavy. I looked somewhat like a raccoon, but not for long."
"I imagined the kind of men she'd attract if only she could throw away the lip rings and other Goth decorations. No chance of her meeting anyone decent until then."
"Sydney would never have understood such a thing [nonverbal communication between a loving couple], so it had to be me."
"Sydney was in there, no doubt gloating, but none of this was going to bring about any change in her. Still the same vicious, deadly tramp who'd been about to rob Faith and..."
And there's more.
Now, it's pretty clear that Sydney had made some stupid life choices, but the kind of unilateral condemnation Abithica heaps on her is not the kind of thing anyone deserves. Abithica comes off the worse for it - not only did she take over some girl's body, she has the nerve to criticize her personality and the way she dresses! And at no point is she given much ground to judge Sydney this way. There are brief allusions to Sydney trying to assert herself over Abithica - understandable, given that it is her mind and body in question - but at no point do we see the possibly interesting internal dynamic between host and parasite. Most of Abithica's judgements of Sydney seem to come from her appearance, at least as far as is clear to the reader.
The preaching goes straight on into pure religion. One reviewer pointed out that this book seems to have a very Catholic bent, and while I don't know much about religion in general, that seems to be the case. It's not overwhelming, at least not in the first hundred pages or so (which is as far as I got) but it did make me uncomfortable.
Speaking of making me uncomfortable, let's talk love interest.
He started out fine, as a nice guy who loves his troubled sister deeply and whose interest in Abithica seems to be mostly that his sister opens up around her. Except that it turns out he was attracted to her as soon as he saw her, to the point of dragging his poor little sis along following her through the mall. Which is a)inconsistent with the behavior of kids around Abithica as described and b) a tad bit creepy. And then he becomes eerily perfect. "I want to know you, want to know everything about you: your favorite food, the books you read, the one thing you want more than anything else in the world. Your dreams." Really? Really? REALLY? Gag me. This is not a man who met a girl just twice. This is infatuation, verging stalking. Oh, and Sydney's mother is aiding and abetting this dude. Nuh-uh. Not okay.
That wasn't the breaking point, though.
The breaking point was when he and Abithica/Sydney were hiking and she was talking to him about her life problems and he got a hard-on. Which she became 'acutely aware' of when he hugged her.
NO JUST NO. Sympathy hug = good. Boner hug = bad, awkward, gross. Boner hug on the first date when all your interactions before have had to do with the guy's little sister = DISGUSTING TO THE NTH DEGREE.
And I put the book aside right then and there.
There is also a subplot with a gang called the 'Legnas' (lovely, an anagram of 'angels', how clever of them) who seem to be run by demons. Within the first hundred pages, though, it serves no real purpose except to be 'edgy' by showing a character whose internal narration is like a dictionary of freaky euphemisms for 'penis'. For example: (view spoiler)[chicksicle. excusemewhileihurl. also 'raging meat pole'. LOL WTF? (hide spoiler)]
Mostly I just didn't care. I can put up with squick if I have other reasons to care, but here that was the furthest thing from the case. So... sorry, I'm done.
(view spoiler)[I'd love to see this concept done again, and done better. The seeds of a really good story were here - if, say, Abithica had ended up in Sydney's body because the girl needed and wanted help desperately to get out of a bad situation and they became a badass two-consciousness crimefighting machine. I'm hard pressed to believe that someone who believes it's her role to fix human lives would ignore things like, oh, the fact that the back of her new body's hand is branded in a way that's obviously ominous, or that she was clearly mixed up in some dangerous and complicated stuff that isn't going to stop being a problem just because there's a new being inhabiting the old flesh. Also, the romance with Lane could have been interesting if it was more Shae-centric (poor kid witnessed her mother's murder; she deserves to be more than an accessory to One Twu Wuv) and less instantaneous. As long as Abithica isn't in any hurry to figure out what was going on in Sydney's life, she didn't need to rush into a relationship either. (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
Notes are private!
Sep 21, 2011
Sep 21, 2011
Feb 25, 2011
Jan 01, 2011
Jan 11, 2011
Okay, I just cannot be bothered to write a long review for this book. I can barely be bothered to write a review at all. The writing was terrible and...more Okay, I just cannot be bothered to write a long review for this book. I can barely be bothered to write a review at all. The writing was terrible and the pacing painful from beginning to end, but the characters weren't a total waste (well, until Kelsey suddenly and inexplicably decided to be stupid and push Ren away. You know, I was sort of enjoying watching the slow build of her relationship with him and it was kind of sweet, and then - what the fuck, girl, is all I really have to say) even if they were generally cliched and pretty silly. The plot is pretty far from mind-blowing but it serves its purpose. That being said, the writing is really so abysmal that if it hadn't picked up a bit at the end, this would have been a one-star read for that reason alone. There were times, especially in the beginning, when I could barely get through half a page without hitting a sentence that made me cringe.
Anyhow, at this point I really just don't give a fuck anymore. Other than its writing (and really, has this seen the eyes of a professional editor? Because if it has and it still came out this way, they should be ashamed and possibly fired for not doing jack shit) this book didn't really make me angry. It didn't make me happy. Reading it was... not suffering, but drudgery. I could not in good conscience recommend it to someone, except maybe on April Fool's Day and then only if I didn't like them.
Two stars for apathy instead of anger. I cannot fucking believe that I'm still going to read the sequel, but it was a gift.(less)
Notes are private!
Dec 19, 2011
Dec 30, 2011
Dec 14, 2010
Jun 24, 2003
For once, the 'incoherent' aspect of my 'incoherent-anger' shelf is true: I do not want to spend time on this book, nor do I have words to describe my...more For once, the 'incoherent' aspect of my 'incoherent-anger' shelf is true: I do not want to spend time on this book, nor do I have words to describe my utter loathing for it.
Let me leave it at this:
Generally, my AP Lit teacher has okay taste in literature. This time, she crashed and burned. For those of you considering reading it, be warned that it contains incest of many stripes, considerable and relatively graphic sex, extreme violence, rape or scenes resembling rape which to my disgust ended with the woman a willing participant, child grooming, child sex, and a man who shows a disturbing hint of Oedipus in that he thinks of his mother through his first sexual experience.
It is something I would not have finished if I didn't have to for class.
It is something I'm still wishing I hadn't finished.
It would be one star, but there were moments of excellence, of fluid prose and intuitive description of the human spirit. And then someone decided to get it on with someone else, or someone beat a bunch of kids, or said kids returned and drowned said someone in his own bath... and in general, my sense of contentment and my positive impression of Marquez's writing went right out the window.
This book has about the sense of logic of the Hitchhiker's Guide to The Galaxy, with absolutely none of the humor.
I refuse to believe this book has any significant philosophical meaning.
This book makes Jane Austen, who I can't stand, look like a literary master. It makes me want to praise Pride and Prejudice, that ridiculous farcical tale of the rich and untroubled and their tribulations, as the greatest thing ever written. The only books I have disliked more than this book are The Red Badge Of Courage and Hush, Hush.
I am looking forward to the test on Tuesday so that I can be rid of this THING.(less)
Notes are private!
Oct 27, 2010
Nov 17, 2010
Oct 27, 2010
Jan 01, 2010
Aug 31, 2010
Halo is a truly epic tale. Set in a dystopian world which has been ravaged by war, it follows two people: Bethany, an angel sent to riot-torn Los Ange...more Halo is a truly epic tale. Set in a dystopian world which has been ravaged by war, it follows two people: Bethany, an angel sent to riot-torn Los Angeles to save as many of the remaining citizens as she can and Xavier, a damaged boy she struggles to befriend and heal of his emotional wounds. As she works, another war is brewing - this one highly localized and poised to set the city ablaze yet again, ruining all of her efforts.
Oh, no, wait, that's not it. Let me try again... oh, I've got it!
Halo is a truly epic tale. It's the story of Bethany, an angel sent to the most distressed areas of the world to destroy demons, and her sidekick Xavier, a young would-be priest who follows in her wake spreading the word of the Lord and doing good wherever he can. Together, they defeat evil time and time again.
No, wait, that's not it either. Hmm... but I bet this one is! Third time's the charm and all that.
Halo is the less-than-inspiring story of a trio of angels who are, for some bizarre reason, sent to a posh little town called Venus Cove. There they live the lives of the rich and self-righteous, doing little real good except some volunteering. The plot follows one of them, Bethany, on her meandering and melodramatic way into a romance with a human boy named Xavier. Eventually some real conflict shows up, several hundred pages too late to make the book any good, but that's okay; as the author makes clear several times when she gets up on her soapbox, this book wasn't written to have any sort of artistic merit! It's really just here to preach at you and take your money.
Yeah, that's the right one.
I thought, after I finished Hush, Hush, that I would never hate a book as much as I hated that. Well, my friends, I was wrong. Within the space of a few chapters, I hated Halo more than I have ever hated a story. Period. No exceptions.
This book is a disaster from start to finish, quite literally - from the poor grasp on perspective demonstrated on the very first page to the clumsy, imbecilic, tacked-on 'cliffhanger' on the very last.
To be honest, though, I feel sorry for Alexandra Adornetto. Clearly, the girl's got some problems. Her depiction of girls as obsessed with sex, boys, and material goods is horrifyingly shallow, which suggests to me that she's never really had any close female friends. The 'romance' that she writes has disturbing parent/child undertones, what with the way Xavier is always nagging Bethany about her safety and what she eats and this and that and the other thing. At one point he literally picks up her fork and flies food into her mouth like an indulgent parent. That's creepy. And I'm not really going to touch on the strange view she has of her own religion, or the way she twists it to condemn large swathes of modern society. Or the entitlement complex she demonstrates again and again throughout this book, seeming completely oblivious to poverty, disease, and real strife.
Also, if she ever grows up and becomes a decent writer, which I suppose is still possible at this point, this book will hang around her neck like a rock. You know those things you wrote when you were a few years younger and less mature, the ones that are cringe-worthy when you look back on them now? This will be hers, except it got published and now everyone can see it. How awful.
To be fair, this wreck is not just her fault. Her parents, who are supposedly English teachers, have failed her here: as she shows again and again she has no command over perspective, zero sense of proper pacing, complete ineptitude when it comes to characterization, and a sloppy style of writing. They've also neglected to teach her the cardinal rule of writing anything: do your goddamn research first.
No editor with real respect for their work and for fiction should have let this book be published in this state. Cheap hacks looking to make a buck off of Edward Cullen fangirls, yes. But a real editor should have at the very least forced this through many intense revisions until something which vaguely resembled a proper novel was extruded. Reading this book makes me wonder what editors are getting paid for these days.
But enough about the people behind the book. Let's talk about the book itself: specifically, its failings, of which there are many.
1. Portrayal of love
"It seemed from my reading of literature that being in love meant becoming the beloved's entire world. The rest of the universe paled into insignificance compared to the lovers. When they were separated, each fell into a melancholy state, and only when they were reunited did their hearts start beating again. Only when they were together could they really see the colors of the world. When they were apart, that color leached away, leaving everything a hazy gray."
I'm sorry - are you describing love or a drug addiction?
This is not love. This is obsession. And frankly, it's a scary thing to read about. What's scarier is that here it's being shown as an ideal - indeed, this exact phenomenon is highlighted in a relationship which is supposed to be so pure and awesome that it's sanctioned by Heaven. When Xavier doesn't talk to Bethany for a few days, she goes into a
2. Ridiculously privileged protagonists
"In his physical form, Gabriel might as well have been a classical sculpture come to life. His body was perfectly proportioned and each muscle looked as if it had been sculpted out of the purest marble."
"In her physical form, Ivy looked like a Renaissance Madonna with her swanlike neck and pale oval face. Like Gabriel, she had piercing rain gray eyes."
The angels are flawless. No, really, it's said straight out several times - they have no flaws. They're gorgeous, talented, have access to all the knowledge of humankind and more, have magical wings which somehow manage to fold up and sit flat on their backs (despite the fact that wings proportionally sized to carry their body weight should probably stretch from over their shoulders to their lower calves even when furled), are infinitely full of energy (except when they aren't because the plot demands), heal easily (again, except when the plot demands), and for their mission on Earth they've been given a huge, beautiful, expensive house in a privileged small town, where one of them teaches at a private Christian school and another one attends it.
Fucking GAG ME.
There is zero effort made to render them as sympathetic characters, probably because that's not what they exist for. They're fantasy avatars, in a way. Bethany is not there to be empathized with, in the way you empathize with another person or a well-rounded character. She's there so that readers can live through her. Gabriel and Ivy have no real purpose in the story at all, except to act as authority figures (sometimes, if the plot demands; or to be lax if that's what's required) and to have some minor, rote parts in the 'climax'. And we'll talk about Xavier later.
3. The pathetic nature of the angels' 'heavenly mission'
"Molly lowered her voice. 'There's been robberies and freak accidents all over the place - there was a flu epidemic last year and six kids died from it.'
'That's devastating,' I said weakly, feeling a hollowness in the pit of my stomach. I was starting to get a sense of the extent of damage done by the Agents of Darkness, and it wasn't looking good."
Stephenie Fucking Meyer can render a better town in distress than Adornetto can, though that's not saying much. For all the lip service paid to the trying times Venus Cove is suffering through and the horrible things which have happened there, very little that's horrible above and beyond the ordinary actually happens. Newsflash: accidents happen. So do sicknesses. And it sucks, yeah, and it's horrible and tragic, of course, but it's not something that requires an angelic intervention! Multiple times, Adornetto mentions other regions of the world with greater troubles than Venus Cove, but she always brushes it off by saying that other angels are there - as if that meant it was okay for Bethany to be living the high life, slacking on her community service, and putting Xavier higher on her list of priorities than Heaven itself! No. Just no.
4. The obsession with and then glorification of prom
"'Are you for real?' Molly's eyes widened. 'It's a rite of passage, the one event you'll remember your whole life, apart from maybe your wedding. It's the whole shebang - limos, outfits, hot partners, dancing. It's our one night to act like princesses.'"
"However, with only two weeks left until the senior prom, all social service projects were temporarily abandoned. The mood of the girls at school was bordering on obsessive."
"She was imagining the start of the prom, when couples would make their entrance together and have their photos professionally taken. Turning up alone would be tantamount to social suicide."
"Some groups had arrived in limos and chauffeur-driven cars, while others had opted for the double-decker party bus, which now pulled in carrying its jubilant passengers."
"Tables were set up around the room, covered in white linen and set with fine china... At the back of the room, the band was tuning their instruments. Waiters bustled around us, carrying trays of nonalcoholic punch."
I'm willing to make allowances for the fact that not everyone's prom was like mine, but still - this is too much. I'm also willing to make allowances for the fact that Alexandra Adornetto is not American and therefore cannot be expected to have experienced an American prom. However, I supremely doubt that anyone's been to a prom like this. (If your evening did consist of live music, waiters, china table settings, limos, and the threat of social suicide if you arrived partnerless, please inform me. Until someone does, I'm going to stick to my guns.)
Neither have I know any dance to be so all-important that it was the focus of such intense obsession. Again, Adornetto imagines girls to be terribly shallow, which I as a girl find deeply insulting.
I've read just about enough of these types of things. Everyone thinks prom is the event of the year, not to be missed at all cost, where everything important happens, and that's just not true. Maybe someday I'll write a novel where the heroine goes to the dance not with her true love, but with a group of friends, and they rock out and have a great time anyway. It doesn't take a significant other to make a dance enjoyable, after all.
5. The soapboxing
"We thought of technology as a sort of corrupting influence, promoting antisocial behavior and detracting from family values. Our home was a place where we spent time with one another, not whiling away time shopping on the Internet or watching mindless television programs."
"'Well, I was interested in design for a while but that was, let's say, discouraged.'
'Isn't considered a serious career, is it? The idea of having invested all this money into my education only to have it end in unemployment doesn't thrill my parents.'
'What about what you want?'
'Sometimes parents know best.'
He seemed to accept the decisions made by his parents with good grace, happy to be guided by their expectations."
Listen up, Adornetto. That first quote alone makes me hate you, and also marks you as a hypocrite. I'm willing to bet you didn't type this pathetic excuse for a book on a typewriter, let alone handwriting it. No doubt you use e-mail. I'd be shocked if you never watched TV. And yet you still have this close-minded archaic offensive attitude towards something that yes, can be a great distraction, but more importantly can be one of the greatest tools at the modern person's disposal.
Though if you have an aversion to the internet, that would explain why you didn't do any research. BACK, BACK, FOUL DEMONS OF GOOGLE! TARNISH NOT HER UNSULLIED ENTITLEMENT! RAVAGE HER NOT WITH YOUR FEARFUL FACTS!
As for the second one, well, I'm just going to leave that there.
6. The sick, sick relationship between Bethany and Xavier
"I had been quiet for so long, absorbed in my fantasy of being stranded on a secluded island somewhere in the Carribean or held captive on a pirate ship, waiting for Xavier to come and rescue me, that it seemed they had temporarily forgotten I was there."
"...Molly was a realist and held the view that friendships had to take a backseat when relationships started - especially if the relationship was as intense as mine and Xavier's."
"I knew that if (the assignment) slipped my mind, Xavier would complete it for me and hand it in without my knowledge.
He became fiercely protective whenever anybody he didn't approve of came within a two-foot radius of me."
"'I'm serious. I hope you realize you can't lecture me about safety ever again,' I said.
'Babe, injuries are inevitable. It's all part of the game. You can play nurse afterward if you like.'"
"'I'm an idiot, I know,' Xavier cut in. 'Letting you go to the prom with Jake. I guess I had too much faith in you.'"
Bethany is a fucking celestial being. She acts like a two year-old. Her dependence on Xavier is so near-total that it is deeply disturbing - the above rescue fantasies and assignment-finishing are only the tip of the iceberg. And putting the relationship above friends? Letting Xavier chase off people "he didn't approve of"? Does that not sound a little bit like the symptoms of emotional abuse? Oh, it's not portrayed that way, but that's what it would look like to another character who was paying attention: Xavier controlling who Bethany gets to know, telling her to avoid some people without explanations, taking precedence over everyone else she knows. His double standards are annoying, too - he's allowed to be protective of Bethany, but she has no say about anything that happens to him and isn't justified in being worried when he's actually injured. (Also, he calls her 'babe'. I swear, if any man refers to me in that way he'll get a swift knee to the family jewels - it's unspeakably insulting.)
Oh, and there's the fact that apparently he 'let' her go to the prom with Jake. Like she didn't have the freedom to make that choice for herself. And then he has the gall to not let her explain the circumstances, treating her like she has nothing worthwhile to say to him even though she's the only one who knows what happened. Bethany, of course, instead of getting angry at her asshat boyfriend, goes home and gets all mopy. (See above.)
This whole situation is just... wrong.
Three more quotes, just because:
"I had to admit that it was fairly stylish as far as uniforms went. The dress was a flattering pale blue with a pleated front and a white Peter Pan collar. With it we were required to wear knee-high cotton socks, brown buckle-up shoes, and a navy blazer with the school crest emblazoned in gold on the breast pocket. Ivy had bought me pale blue and white ribbons, which she now weaved deftly into my braids."
"I'd listened in on the prayers of teenage girls and most of them centered on being accepted by the 'popular' crowd and finding a boyfriend who played on the rugby team."
"'Meaning that the human and the divine were never meant to merge. If it happened, I believe the angel would lose his or her divinity. There could be no redemption after such a transgression.'
'And the human?'
'The human would never be able to return to normal existence.'
'Why?' I asked.
'Because the experience would surpass all human experiences,' Ivy explained."
I could never in good conscience recommend this book to anyone, but if you're looking for snark bait, this is a doozy. Also, if you're an aspiring writer who wants to learn how not to do it, this could be useful. But ye gods, if you're genuinely searching for a good read, stay as far away as possible.(less)
Notes are private!
Aug 12, 2011
Aug 20, 2011
Jun 03, 2010
Jan 01, 2010
Sep 07, 2010
(Now with extra British swearing at the end!)
When I say that I just finished this book, I want you to understand- it's been about three minutes.
This...more (Now with extra British swearing at the end!)
When I say that I just finished this book, I want you to understand- it's been about three minutes.
This does not mean that this book is OMGZ amazing. This is a measure of how righteously OUTRAGED I was at the ending of it.
I cannot even believe that anyone would think to write a book that goes doo, doo, doo, story story story EXCITEMEN- FULL STOP, sorry guys, better pre-order the sequel now.
Eff you, Sophie Jordan. That wasn't even at a lull in the action, or a point where the next book will start out with a literal bang (see: Bruce Coville's Dark Whispers. Now, there's a cliffhanger.) This was the most completely illogical place to end a book I could imagine. Compounded, somewhat, by the fact that Jacinda (who I rather liked for a while) suddenly lost all of her brain cells and (view spoiler)[ MANIFESTED IN FRONT OF A GORRAM HUNTER AND THEN NEGLECTED TO TELL THE FUTURE LEADER OF HER PRIDE THAT SHE JUST REVEALED A SECRET THAT WILL DOOM HER ENTIRE RACE. (hide spoiler)]
Dammit, I wanted to love this book. DRAGONS. Shapeshifting freaking DRAGONS. FFFFFFFDRAGOOOOOONS. (I love dragons. LOVE 'EM. Have at times wished I was one.) Thankfully, Sophie Jordan is not capable of ruining my favorite mythological creature for me. Not even Todd McCaffrey's horrible, nightmare-inducing attempt to distort his mother's Pern series can ruin dragons. ('Cause I've still got Toothless, and Norbert, and Ramoth, and Skysong, and... you get the picture.)
What Jordan did do is ruin her own book for me.
I am still so pissed at this I can hardly- nope, I can't. No words.
But I won't share that here.
All I have to say is: Dear Sophie Jordan, I will never read one of your books again. You write better than Becca Fitzpatrick or Stephenie Meyer, but that won't absolve you. And unlike Rachel Caine, I haven't read something of yours that I actually like. So we're done.
And now I get to go write a scathing galley review for my library.
OHYEAH. The second star is for the dragons. Have I mentioned how dragons are the shit?
Edit: Here, I found a way to express the profanity properly. (view spoiler)[Colin Firth in The King's Speech. Multiply this by ten and you have my approximate reaction to this stupid book. (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
Notes are private!
Nov 30, 2010
Dec 02, 2010
Mar 21, 2010
Jan 01, 2006
Oct 03, 2006
There's math to these stars.
+1 for being written by Rachel Caine, right off the bat. I genuinely enjoyed Ill Wind; it was a creative, rip-ro...more There's math to these stars.
+1 for being written by Rachel Caine, right off the bat. I genuinely enjoyed Ill Wind; it was a creative, rip-roaring five-chapter venture into a new kind of urban fanatasy, and it was cool. I didn't even mind the hot tub scenes, and the ending was acceptable. I've also read one of Ms. Caine's short stories set in Morganville, in an anthology, and thought it was interesting and that I'd like to know more about the series.
+1 for rendering fairly logical vampires. Can't go out in daylight, have to be invited into a house, etc; it rings true with most of the older vamp mythos I've encountered, and any deviations (AMELIE, I'm looking at you) were explained in ways that, while they do seem a little deus ex machina, I can deal with. (I should mention here that no, I'm not an expert on vampire mythology, but I have read Dracula.)
+1 for the interesting housemates, though Michael was a little bit too perfect at times. Shane I saw coming a long way off, though that's probably thanks to that short story, but for a while I thought Caine was going to draw it out over a few books and just give him a protector complex in this one. Oh well. Eve was pretty cool- I think she was my favorite, just because she was abnormal but she was so much more normal in terms of how she functioned in society than Shane or Michael. And she seems to have some pretty big insecurities and worries, making her a bit motherly/responsible towards the others.
+1 for being easy to read. Okay, so I know it sounds dumb, but it's a small book and it took me about half a day, all told- actually considerably less, now that I think about it. And given the minuses, this is a very good thing.
-1 for Claire in general, and the first two chapters in particular. We are told from the beginning that she is OMGubersmart. We are told that she finished highschool in two years (which, by the way, means a lot of summer classes if her school is anything like mine) and that Ivy League colleges were practically begging at her feet. Her parents- including her dad, who she later thinks of in a way that convinced me he's very focused on her academics- wouldn't let her go there because she was 'too young'. And this is where I interject: "NO SHIT SHE'S TOO YOUNG. SHE CAN STAY IN HIGHSCHOOL AND TAKE AP CLASSES AND GET COLLEGE CREDIT FOR TWO MORE YEARS AND THEN ENROLL AS A FRIGGIN' JUNIOR OR SOMETHING. And because she is OMGubersmart, she'll see this financially wise option/way to placate the 'rents, right? Umm... actually, not right. Not right at all. Instead, her parents ignore the fact that prestigious colleges will probably do whatever they ask to get their daughter there, up to and including any special supervision they might want to feel she's safe, and decide to enroll her in the idiotically named Texas Prarie University. There, instead of being, say, in some sort of small Honors-only housing complex, she's on the top floor in the worst rooms of the worst dorms.
Um, yeah. Way to go, protective parents; you've put your daughter in StupidSchool and, moreover, the rattiest part of it. So, how'd that one work out?
BADLY. Claire corrects one of the popular girls on the nature of WWII, who turns out to be one of those oddly common mean girls who haunt the pages of fiction, existing solely to make life a misery for the protagonist- not just to, say, ruin their social reputation or knock them down in the halls, but to ACTIVELY AND AGGRESSIVELY go after the harmless lowlife who has offended them so. In this case, this would be up to and including stealing Claire's laundry and pushing the girl down several flights of stairs. And absolutely no one will stand up to this mean girl- Monica- from the other students to the administration to the town police. Frankly, this is ridiculous. If people like this were as common as books about highschool and college make them seem, no one would make it out alive.
I mentioned that the town police won't stand up to Monica. We know this because later they show up on her side- not because Claire calls them. Ms. OMGubersmart isn't nearly smart enough to call 911, it seems, or her parents. I mean, at the point that you're being pushed down a flight of stairs, it's time to suck it up and GO THE HELL HOME, no matter what. Worst they can do is make you wait a few years to go to one of the Ivies. Take online courses, get a job, or something.
And by the way, if her parents were looking for a place where their little girl would be safe, why did they pick Morganville? Even from the descriptions Claire gives in passing, it sounds like a nasty place, certainly not somewhere an overprotective parent would want their sixteen year-old. I call BS. I call BS on Claire and I call it on Monica and I call it on both Danvers parents.
(Also, Claire does not seem to be taking English courses. Odd, for someone who claims to be well-versed in the classics. And that's another thing- she's casually arrogant about being smart. 'Not everyone is up on the classics- except freaks like me.' 'I corrected Monica on the fact that WWII wasn't about China, but the people around her probably didn't know what it was anyway.' Ms. Caine, are we supposed to believe Claire is smart because she puts down all these other people? Are we supposed to accept that just because she thinks- thinks, and has no real reason to know- they don't know something, they actually don't? She's not even snooty, which I could live with- she's just utterly convinced of her own superiority, and it comes out in annoying little moments.)
-1 for the ending. (Rant follows.) WHAT in the WORLD makes an author think they can get away with this? There was a nice denoument, and then another chapter. Thinking this would continue the nice denoument, I walked into this backhanded trap blindly. NEVER under any circumstances is there a reason to introduce a NEW PROBLEM AND/OR ENTIRE NEW PLOT AT THE END OF THE GODDAMN BOOK! This is worse than leaving the action at a critical point (Phillip Pullman and Bruce Coville are both guilty)- both are shameless ways to make sure you read the next book, but at least leaving the action doesn't feel grasping. This 'Big battle is over, all is well, OH SHIT NEW CRISIS' business hangs a sign around the author's neck. Know what it says? "I want money, and I don't think the book itself was good enough to get you to buy the next one- in fact, maybe I know it was crap- and so I tacked this on at the end and put a critical character's life in question so you'll buy the sequel and my publisher and I will make bank."
Will I read the series? @&$# NO. That ending pissed me off too much, and when the last impression I have of a book is anger, I have no reason to continue.(less)
Notes are private!
Jul 05, 2010
Jul 06, 2010
Feb 22, 2010
Oct 01, 2010
Oct 19, 2010
This book is preposterous, degrading, and offensive to strong women everywhere.
There. If you disagree passionately with that statement, you will be of...more This book is preposterous, degrading, and offensive to strong women everywhere.
There. If you disagree passionately with that statement, you will be offended by what follows.
You've been warned.
Oh yeah, and spoilers ahead, because I don't really care enough about this Idiot Plot enough not to give it all away. Capice? Good. You may proceed.
The worst part of Nightshade is that I actually liked the basic concepts. The notion of a world populated and semi-controlled by witches and werewolves, with incubi and chimerae and all that other good stuff- that interests me. I could go with that. So it's a shame to see that ruined by a cast of characters that made my blood boil, and plot that involved most of said cast being stereotyped and/or just plain willfully ignorant, and the only exception being stereotyped and occasionally douchebaggey.
But the one I really want to talk about is Calla.
At first, I was glad to see her characterized the way she is. A female alpha, a warrior, in command of her pack? GIRL POWER!
What followed was an argument between me and this book. Went something like this.
Me: GIRL POWER!
Book: GIRL POWER!
Me: So, because Calla's full of win and GIRL POWER, she's going to stand up to Ren and be his equal, right?
Book: Sure, since he says that's the way he wants it.
Book: Well, obviously male alphas have authority even over the females. You know, like in real wolf societies?
Me: Yes, but these are WEREwolves. They've got to have been influenced by feminism, right?
Book: No, they don't. I don't want them to. Then I wouldn't get my enthusiastically flity/feminine best friend, or the stereotyped tomboy bitch, or the empty shell of a girl who follows said tomboy bitch around.
Me: And Calla?
Book: Calla's an ALPHA. GIRL POWER!
Me: Yes, but no. See, she's very clearly an alpha in name only. Everyone- even her own pack before the union- defers to Ren. At times, they stand up to her and basically tell her to go to hell with her commands. IF she was an alpha with GIRL POWER, she would keep them in line and actually behave like a leader. Instead, she lets everyone steamroller her- from Ren to Shay even when he's human. She's never in control of her life, and she hesitates to take control. For an alpha, she's not assertive in the least. All it takes is a little kissing for her to give up every thought in her head, if she had one in the first place.
Me: And then there's her mother. You know what part bothered me most? I marked it specifically. "You cannot cross an alpha male, even when you belong to another. You risk your own life to do so." That's what Naomi tells her daughter after Ren's father has been sexually harassing her. Now, I understand the point in the society of the Guardians. BUT. Look at the larger message. You know what she's saying?
"If the men are stronger than you, you become their possession, and others of that level of strength may also possess you unless your owner man fights for you."
Here's my response.
Book: Have an angsty ending?
Me: NO. GO DIE.
And that's pretty much it. I would have been less insulted if Calla hadn't been an 'alpha'; by putting her in a position of assumed power and then subverting it, Cremer made her even weaker and more of an affront to true strong women.(less)
Notes are private!
Jan 17, 2011
Jan 19, 2011
Feb 16, 2010
Dec 08, 2009
Dec 08, 2009
EDIT: Forgot to add original half-started review at the end. Fixed!
Some time back I postulated on Facebook that all YA PNRs were trying to be the Doct...more EDIT: Forgot to add original half-started review at the end. Fixed!
Some time back I postulated on Facebook that all YA PNRs were trying to be the Doctor and Rose, and that they were all failing miserably. I never meant that idea to make it into a review, and yet... well, here we are, aren't we? So welcome to a review in which I use Doctor Who to explain this burgeoning genre in general, and Fallen in particular. Even if you don't know the show, it should be fairly cogent.
Let's start with the 'why'. Like I said, I never meant this idea to make it into a review, so... why did it?
Because there is nothing else I can bring myself to do for this book. It's not quiiiiite horrible enough for a point-by-point refutation, like I did for Hush, Hush. But it's too eye-gouging for me to do chapter by chapter mini-reviews (though I did get through the first four or five like this; the results will be at the end of this final review.) Heaven knows I can't write a coherent/eloquent 'ordinary' review. If I don't make a complete mockery of this book using my current Fandom of Choice, I won't review it at all, and if I don't review it then why the fuck did I read it?
So here goes... YA PNR in terms of the Doctor. Somewhat pic-heavy.
When the Doctor says to Rose in 'School Reunion' that "You can spend the rest of your life with me, but I can't spend the rest of my life with you," he perfectly captures the essential conflict that (I believe, at least) ought to be at the heart of many of these PNRs. It's not the 'I want to kill you but I love you' conflict: it's the 'I'll go on forever and you will inevitably die and there is nothing I can do about it'. That's what makes the romance poignant. There is a time bomb attached to it, even if the reader never has to watch it go off, and every moment we watch the couple together is more poignant because we know they only have a limited number of moments left. If I had my way
Some authors are slightly aware of this, and they try to give us a little more Timelord in our Fallen Angel breakfast cereal.
Most of them got very, very confused and started writing about Daleks as romantic leads.
Sure, it gave you a candy heart, but it still wants to FUCKING KILL YOU. AND ALL OF YOUR GODDAMN RACE.
Daleks are not romantic. When you see a Dalek you either run away screaming and hope it doesn't kill you when your back is turned or you blow it the hell up. Very rarely do you care about its horrible past or its horrible present or how much it claims to love you because underneath all of that it still wants to kill you. There's a reason they've been recurring villains for nearly all of the show's run. What is it, thirty odd seasons now? And these salt-shaker-shaped aliens still inspire fear in small children and cause adults to hide behind couches.
Patch, from Hush, Hush, is a Dalek. Except he's a sneaky one; but he still fulfills the ultimate requirement: namely, wanting to kill people. Actually, he's a Dalek with sex drive.
Daniel is less of a Dalek, but he's still no Doctor. No, he doesn't want to kill Luce. Um, wait, actually? That's not so sure. He does kiss her at one point expecting her to explode into bitty pieces and die. Which is, you know, not a good thing if you actually are in love with the girl.
Anyhow, that's the one point. I expected that. If that had been all that was horrible about this book, I might have finished my chapter-by-chapter review. But there was a breaking point...
From there, it was all downhill.
It's the jump rope scene. After that, I just couldn't take this book seriously. I read this one aloud to my friends at lunch once and couldn't even finish; we were laughing too hard for me to read. Since you out there can't benefit from my dramatic reading, I'll just give you the passage to which I refer...
But Luce's body got the better of her mind when she caught another glimpse of Daniel. His back was to her and he was standing in a corner picking out a jump rope from a tangled pile. She watched as he selected a thin navy rope with wooden handles, then moved to an open space in the center of the room. His golden skin was almost radiant, and every move he made, whether he was rolling out his long neck in a stretch or bending over to scratch his sculpted knee, had Luce completely rapt. She stood pressed against the doorway, unaware that her teeth were chattering and her towel was soaked.
I'm absolutely not shitting you. That is word-for-word what was in this book. Could you take it seriously after reading that? Really. Either Lauren Kate is trolling and getting paid (in which case good for her) or she has no idea about pacing and scene choice and how to use language properly AT. ALL. This passage is ridiculously purple-prose'd, aside from being unnecessary (did it advance the plot? Nope...) and completely inane. I didn't need to know about Daniel's 'sculpted knee'. I also didn't need to know about his 'graceful, narrow feet'. Frankly, I could care less how much Luce wants to jump his bones when she sees him. What's next? "She felt her heart beating faster with desire as he bounced lightly from one hopscotch square to the next"?
Jumping rope is not sexy. It never will be. End of story. This should have been cut at some point in the editing process and it explains a LOT about the final product that it was not.
The good news is that now I can see the book as just silly. Like Christopher Eccleston dancing in a souped-up phone booth.
Nah, this has nothing to do with the content of the review. I just like the gif.
Let's talk about Daniel and Luce a little more... just briefly. Most of what needs to be said about this 'romance' has already been said, none of it good. About the only thing I can come up with to mention that's positive is that Daniel's not nearly as bad as Patch the Dalek. He's still not good, though. There's one scene worth addressing... and like the jump rope sequence above, I have it here in its entirety.
"You think you're so smart? I spent three years on a full academic scholarship at the best college-prep school in the country. And when they kicked me out, I had to petition- petition!- to keep them from wiping my four-point-oh transcript."
I'm going to set aside the fact that none of that is how a teenager would talk. Two things, one brief: SHOW, DON'T FUCKING TELL. If Luce is so smart, why haven't we seen this before? Even something like her sense of direction should have come up in a narrative that's written in third person limited. Because none of it did this is just a massive, pointless infodump.
Number two: It's not romantic to be told to shut up in any circumstances, but particularly in these... first, because Daniel was telling Luce to stop talking about being smart- way to try and quash any expression of intelligence she might be inclined to- and second, because she'd already stopped talking. He had no reason to say it other than to assert dominance over her. "HE MAN IN COMMAND OF PUNY WOMAN, STIFLE STREAM OF STUPID PUNY WOMAN WORDS" is not romantic, and yet that's what Daniel just did.
Basically, when he's around Luce, he's like this:
Except, you know, nowhere near as hot.
Despite the fact that it's Luce who dies once every 17 years, Daniel manages to make it about him. And it's all about him. He's like Rand Al'Thor from the Wheel of Time- what's the word that means someone the Wheel bends its weaving around? That kind of thing. Even Luce 'bends' around him- to the point of character derailment, actually, or it would be if she had established a character from which to derail.
But. Luce was proving day after day that- especially when it came to Daniel- she was incapable of doing anything that fell under the category of "normal" or "smart".
For once, I have to agree with the book.
However, I should take this time to point out that this is a horrible trick. Defining your character by telling the reader how she's changed, not by showing how she was before? EPIC FAIL. Writer cop-out. STOP. DOING. THIS. EVERYONE. Really. It was old the first time I encountered it; that's how bad of an idea this is. Maybe it's harder to actually develop a character and then have it make sense for them to deviate from their personality, but you know what?
There's one more thing which I unfortunately do not have a Doctor Who picture for. Oh yes, and spoilers. Do you care? Thought not.
Somehow, if Luce is killed once and for all (and would someone, please?) it will bring about the End of Days. I think. The plot wasn't really clear. But this couldn't happen before because she was raised in religion. This life, though, she was born to a pair of agnostics and never baptized and... do you see where this is going?
Agnostics will cause Armageddon.
According to Lauren Kate, that is.
I can't get past the first stage of my reaction: WHAT THE FUCK?
I welcome debate, if anyone would like to defend this book. However, if your entire defense comes down to 'DANIEL IS HAWT AND THEIR LOVE IS SO PUUUUURE', well... there's just one thing to say and I'm going to say it now:
And now, to end the review on a positive note, have some cute:
Really, there are better things you can do with your time than read this book. Go watch Doctor Who, for one!
The chapter-by-chapter, before I gave up, spoilertagged so it doesn't screw with my formatting:
(view spoiler)[0. Prologue: “In The Beginning”
Ah, the dramatic entry. Some authors started without a prologue, do you remember? Used to be quite a la mode.
Anyhow, this one introduces us to our doomed lovers; given what I already know, I’m betting this is Daniel and Luce. (Say, why do these reincarnated people never switch genders between lives?) There is tension, and apparently it’s not safe for her to know about their love. He remembers, of course.
There was a moment where he says that ‘there are things more important than love’ and I almost liked him then, but then the Fateful Kissing began and I was disgusted again.
This will be an extra-long torture.
Oh, and that title. ‘In The Beginning’? Really? Because if she’s been reincarnated even once before, NEWS FLASH, it’s not the beginning. The beginning would be the first first first time. Not the umpteenth.
1. Perfect Strangers
And here we meet Luce, Cam, and Daniel. As I understand it, these are the three points of our love triangle. We are also introduced to the Sword and Cross boarding school, which is preposterously dingy and unpleasant. (Why, exactly, would a court mandate minors be sent to a place that sounds as if it can’t pass any health inspection, EVER? Oh right, plot convenience. Durr.)
Luce has some angst in her past, joy oh joy, but I’m willing to bet that she’s innocent of the crime that got her sent here. Because a criminal heroine would be boring. Nothing interesting about murderers and arsonists at all.
Oh yes, and the infamous flipping-off scene has occurred. Daniel looks appropriately angelic, but doesn’t act it. This must be him trying to keep Luce away. Won’t work, idiot. You just made yourself more interesting. It’s not ‘oh, hostile dude, will stay away now’; it’s ‘why the fuck is he flipping me the bird? I need to learn more about this’. You would think if the guy was eleventy billion years old he’d know that about human nature.
Also, we now know that the much-vaunted cover is in accurate, at least if it’s supposed to show Luce as she is now. Her hair is actually short- cue difficulty in picturing character. Eh. I never liked that cover anyhow.
2. Fit To Be Tied
Really, what’s with this title? It has nothing to do with the chapter. No one gets tied. It’s just pages of mindless exposition, establishing Cam as a bit of a flirt and Luce as that stereotypical bullied heroine. Are we supposed to be seeing how bad the students at Sword and Cross are? Because someone mashes food into the quote-unquote heroine’s hair?
There’s the longing for Daniel, too. Oh that bugs me. She. Just. Met. Him. Why the hell is he taking over her brain? Riiight, because he’s Mr. Alpha Male of Instant Pheromones and she’ll never be able to resist him.
And the shock collar. Change of subject, but let me digress this way for a moment. How did they ever managed to design a shock collar that responded to Arriane’s motion? That’s kind of impressive… or no, wait, kind of stupid. Sciencefail.
3. Drawing Dark
Creepy shadows, librarian, an attempt to establish Luce as the bookish sort- let’s see how that goes- and the first ‘spark’ between her and Daniel. Daniel who is still being an asshole to chase her off. It’s still not working.
Here is something I’m thinking about: why are the reincarnated lovers always teenagers these days? Isn’t there a great story to be told about two people who’ve reached middle age, maybe even married and settled down, realizing that they were destined to be together and drawn apart by something as simple as chance? Yes, these books are targeted at teens. But this has been done and done and done again for teens. Where are the novels that handle this in a logical, adult manner and refuse to get side-tracked by hormones? I guess that’s a large part of what bugs me about YA PNR: the plot gets hijacked by chemical imbalances in the heroine’s brain, essentially, and veers off into Angstyhornyland and never comes back.
4. Graveyard Shift
Oh goodness, did she really use the word ‘spherical’ to describe a teacher? She did, she totally did. And then there’s some repetitive sentences that I was re-writing in my head. Writingfail and Editorfail.
...and that's as far as I got. Which is probably good for my sanity. (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
Notes are private!
Mar 02, 2011
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Dec 14, 2009
First thoughts upon getting this galley: AWESOME COVER. I love the red slip and the way it hides words. High hopes for this one.
First thoughts upon fi...more First thoughts upon getting this galley: AWESOME COVER. I love the red slip and the way it hides words. High hopes for this one.
First thoughts upon finishing the book:
I used to like James Patterson- and by 'used to', I mean when I first read The Angel Experiment. It was fast-paced, it was intriguing, and it kept my interest. As the series went on, it degraded and dragged; what I expected to be a trilogy is now what, going on six books? And it's not even tongue-in-cheek like the Hitchhiker's Guide books.
But anyways...back to W&W.
I was lucky enough to miss the enormous hype before the release, since I don't watch much television, but I've heard there were actual commercials. Now, this seems a bit like overkill. Seriously. Hang on a moment; let me find it on Youtube if I can.
OH MY GOODNESS.
SOMETHING INSIDE OF ME JUST DIED.
Jeez, JP. BE MOAR PHAIL.
(Hey, can I call him JPattz? I think I might. Just for kicks.)
'Now you can stop waiting for the next Harry Potter book'?
ALL SEVEN ARE OUT, YOU IDIOTS.
No one's waiting.
If this were published, hmm, let me think...THREE YEARS AGO it would have been accurate.
As it is, it's hideously out of date.
But enough about the publicity campaign- how about that book?
1. JPattz, I expected better.
Not that his books have been that good, lately, though I haven't read Max yet...but I'd hoped that the first book of a new series would have some, I don't know, actual WRITING TALENT to it? Apparently not.
It was just...flat. Like it was trying to get the energy of the Angel Experiment, but ended up getting short-circuited.
2. ENOUGH WITH THE SHORT CHAPTERS.
So, maybe that's his trademark style or something...but here, it just didn't work. Too many chapters felt like they were cut off when they shouldn't have been, just for the sake of making them short. Now, the commercial tells me you're trying to appeal to the masses who don't read much, but short chapters don't reduce the length of the book; in fact, they make it look longer. You'd be better off with longer chapters and MORE FLOW.
3. What in the world did Whit and Wisty's parents have against them?
'Whitford' and 'Wisteria'?
Maybe in Victorian London those names wouldn't have been out of place, but most parents are more merciful nowadays. And the names didn't fit their personalities- or at least Wisty's didn't. (Did Whit have a personality? I forget.) I mean, Wisteria? Wisty? And she's supposed to be the truant, the smartass, the girl in detention all the time? Could she have a more wispy name?
4. CAN HAS FLOW WITH A SIDE OF LOGIC, PLOX?
Very little is explained in this book. The world, the political system, the magic- it's all written as if we're supposed to recognize it. Which, in general, I did not; I'm not sure if I'm typical in this respect, but not understanding drove me up the wall. I like worldbuilding. This...this was like trying to explore the second floor of a building with a false front- THERE'S NOTHING THERE.
And come on. The 'magic'? Made no sense at all. There was no pattern, no system, no nothing.
5. Weee-oo, weee-ooo, Sue and Stu alert!
They're put in a magic-dampening prison. But sparkly little Wisty and Whit aren't affected by this...they're tooooo special, the little snowflakes.
Oh, gag me now.
You know, at the very least there could have been a reason- oh, remember that little 'Logic' thing I mentioned? Yeah, some of that would have been nice.
Okay, I'm tired of hating on this book...and quite honestly, I don't want to dwell on it.
The good things, few as they are:
Yes, the slipcover was a pain, but it was really really cool.
I did like the way everyone in the government called themselves 'The One Who' whatever. That was kinda catchy, and original.
...Hey, that's all the good I can think of.
Notes are private!
Dec 12, 2009
Oct 13, 2009
Oct 13, 2009
I have forty eight sticky notes.
Well, forty nine, I suppose, since I use the little white backing thing too. They're quite nice sticky notes, designed...more I have forty eight sticky notes.
Well, forty nine, I suppose, since I use the little white backing thing too. They're quite nice sticky notes, designed not to be written on but as bookmarks; at some year in the past they magically appeared in my Christmas stocking, and I haven't really used them since. I suspect there were originally fifty, so I've used two elsewhere.
Anyhow. Forty nine sticky notes was what I started with when I commenced reading Hush, Hush a little after 9 AM on August 25.
Less than fifteen hours and over a hundred pages later, I ran out of sticky notes. I used the notes to mark particularly horrendous parts of the book- and frankly, I'm surprised they lasted this long.
In the interest of not broaching another set of sticky notes which I may want from school, I'm going to deal with this book segment by segment; when I finish one round of sticky notes, I review and then continue. 'Course, since I won't post this until it's finished you'll just get the complete version. No perspective analysis, unless I really feel like it. All I'm going to do is quote Fitzpatrick, comment on the quote briefly, and move on.
EDIT: Before I even got through Section 1, I was over Goodreads' character limit by 978 characters. I still have more than 9 pages (counting one side of a sheet of lined paper as a page) of handwritten notes to type up- and those aren't even including responses, they're just quotes. So I'm going to cut this review down to the maximum accepted size (and do some formatting too) and post the rest in comments. Lengthy ranting? Heck yes.
Section 1: 0-113
Chauncey was with a farmer's daughter on the grassy banks of the Loire River when the storm rolled in, and having let his gelding wander in the meadow, was left to his own two feet to carry him back to the chateau.
- Book begins, very first sentence, with sex. BAD SIGN.
-Is this going to be relevant? Do the doings of one randy duke in Sixteenth Century France really concern the later plot?
Kneeling there, blinking up through the rain, he saw two thick scars on the back of the boy's naked torso. They narrowed to form an upside-down V.
- Is it the scar tissue that narrows? Because that's how it seems.
- I'm no expert on anatomy, but the V thing seems odd. Wouldn't having flight muscles attached to your latissimus dorsi (I believe that's the name, but the ones that wrap from the front of your ribcage to the back) be awfully strenous? Wouldn't you build up those muscles to unrealistic and bizarre-looking proportions?
'Welcome to Human Reproduction (Sex)'
At my side Vee Sky said, "This is exactly why the school outlaws camera phones. Pictures of this in the e-Zine would be all the evidence I'd need to get the board of education to ax biology."
- Is it really necessary to introduce Vee with first and last name, especially as this is written from Nora's perspective?
- Odds of a BoE getting rid of biology in any school curriculum are next to nil. Odds of BoE firing idiot teacher or changing the curriculum are pretty good, though.
Coach considered teaching tenth-grade biology a side assignment to his job as varsity basketball coach, and we all knew it.
- The frick? No. Biology is an ENORMOUS subject. Anyone who teaches it and can get a job teaching it has to, by definition almost, be devoted primarily to it.
- For future reference, Vee and Nora are sophomores, which means they'll be between fourteen and sixteen, probably sixteen.
"Science is an investigation," Coach said, sanding his hands together. "Science requires us to transform into spies."
- I will not digress into my own academic scientific background, but this is wrong. Science is an investigation, yes. Science requires observing things in a way which may be spy-like, yes. But it's not espionage. Deviate how you will from the scientific method, but most science is going to require experiments at one point, not just observation and certainly not just 'sleuthing'.
Vee is my un-twin. She's green-eyed, minky blond, and a few pounds over curvy. I'm a smoky-eyed brunette with volumes of curly hair that holds its own against even the best flatirn. And I'm all legs, like a bar stool.
- Descriptioninfodump not appreciated. Bits and pieces, Ms. Fitzpatz, bits and pieces. Your readers are smart enough to 'patch' together a description from fragments scattered here and there where relevant. This spoon-feeding paragraph is distracting from the 'action' of the story and just slightly insulting to my intelligence.
My heart fumbled a beat and in that pause, a feeling of gloomy darkness seemed to slide like a shadow over me. It vanished in an instant, but I was still staring at him. His smile wasn't friendly. It was a smile that spelled trouble. With a promise.
- Does darkness slide over something like anything but a shadow? Superflous description.
- If this is her first impression of Patch, it bodes ill...
Coach said, "Human reproduction can be a sticky subject."
"Ewww!" groaned a chorus of students.
"It requires mature handling. And like all science, the best approach is to learn by sleuthing. For the rest of the class, practice this technique by finding out as much as you can about your new partner."
- Yes, it does require mature handling- which neither Fitzpatz or her character displays. Immature puns? Not amused.
- SLDKJFLAJ: EXPERIMENTS GODDAMMIT. Not ****ing SLEUTHING, EXPERIMENTS.
- 'Technique'? What technique? Word implies that he's taught them some kind of technique to use in 'sleuthing', but he clearly has not.
- What's with Fitzpatz's love of this word 'sleuthing' anyhow? Did she just learn what it means or something? Is she trying to show off?
I sat perfectly still. The ball was in his court- I'd smiled, and look how well that turned out.
- We find out later that Nora wants to get into an Ivy-League school, or at least that she's capable of it. So why is someone who must have been going after her grades nigh-on aggressively her entire highschool career content to sit back passively and let someone else control the fate of an assignment? She has no drive and no persistence, obviously.
Great. At this rate I would fail.
- SO DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT YOU TWIT.
"Call me Patch. I mean it. Call me."
- Horrible pick-up line. Does Fitzpatz really think teenagers speak like this?
- Useless pick-up line. 'Call me' doesn't work unless you give the subject a relevant phone number.
"I wasn't finished," he said. "I've got quite a collection going of an eZine columnist who believes there's truth in eating organic, who writes poetry in secret, and who shudders at the thought of having to choose between Stanford, Yale, and... what's that big one with the H?"
- GINORMOUS RED FLAGS. He's stalking you and taking pictures, Nora, you airhead. He's at the very least a voyeur, at the most a sexual predator. REPORT THIS SHIT. That's what the police are there for.
- This is Fitzpatz trying to characterize Nora through someone else's exposition- we are told she is all of these things, but never shown any of them.
The hair at the nape of my neck stood on end, and the temperature in the room seemed to chill. Ordinarily I would have gone straight to Coach's desk and requested a new seating chart.
- I cannot believe it. She just basically ACKNOWLEDGED changing her viewpoint character's personality becausse of (what will become) TWOO WUVE FOEVAH AN EVAH. Under ordinary circumstances she would have requested a change, but because it's PATCH THE SUPER SPESHUL MAN she doesn't. Bullshit.
He was a dark-Levi's-dark-henley-dark-boots kind of guy.
- Boots? Jeans? Henley? Agh. I pictured this and it looked horrible. Ominous maybe, fashionable definitely not.
"Go for it. I could use a hook for my next eZine article. 'Tenth Grader Fights Back.' Better yet, 'Seating Chart Takes Slap in the Face.' Mmm. I like it."
- And from this we learn that Vee can't write for jack. Seriously lame, both of these; pompous and not in the least bit clever.
"How was school?" Dorothea asked with a slight German accent.
- Poor description. This makes it sound like she's assuming the accent, not that it's natural.
- Why is the housekeeper always accented? What, people born in the USA don't need to take such jobs?
On the line beneath it I added, Smokes cigars. Will die of lung cancer. Hopefullly soon. Excellent physical shape.
- You do realize that 'will die of lung cancer' and 'excellent physical shape' shouldn't normally go together?
- Why did she scribble the last comment out? He's creepy about her; she should be creepy right back. Besides, it's the most Biology-related thing she's done yet.
I couldn't quite put my finger on it, but something about Patch wasn't right. Something about him wasn't normal. Something wasn't... safe.
- And yet you still descend into the depths of a bar that you're too young to be in to find him. Brilliant. Stanford is drooling over that.
"As it turns out, I'm in need of a healthy female sacrifice. I'd planned on luring her into trusting me first, but if you're ready now..."
- This would make a fine joke, if it was said in a lighthearted situation, a joking tone, and to someone who wasn't already scared of Patch. As is, it just shows that he's an insensitive bastard.
Patch casually but noticeably slid his sleeve down over his wrist. "You'd prefer it someplace more private?"
- And he officially has the Magical Ability to Turn Any Situation Into Something Perverted. Just fantastic, eh?
"Intelligent. Attractive. Vulnerable."
- PREDATOR. Singles out those who are on the outside edges, the weakest, and then takes them down. Basic predator/prey interaction. Nora is the deer with the broken leg in this one.
"I'm starting a petition to have Coach fired," Vee said, coming to my table.
- Why the hell is everyone referring to him as Coach? Is that his given first name? Or is he just such a whackjob that he prefers it even off the field? And besides, aren't there many coaches at this school? Vee could be referring to any of them!
"Let's give the seating chart a few more weeks. Oh, and I was serious about tutoring Patch. I'll count you in."
- WHAT. THE. FUCK. What kind of screwed-up school did you go to, Fitzpatz, that you think teachers are like this. They're NOT. Especially not to the good students, as Nora seems to be. Teachers aren't there for the money, they're there because teaching is what they want to do. No teacher will condone, facilitate, or even allow the abuse Patch dishes out to Nora, and no teacher would not only refuse to make a simple change to ease a studen's mind but also lassoo said student into tutoring someone she is afraid of.
Vee unlocked the doors to her 1995 purple Dodge Neon.
- What is it with Fitzpatz and the year, model, and make of these beat-up old cars? At the very least drop the year; NO ONE CARES. Hate to stereotype but your book will be read primarily by hormonal teenage girls. You don't need to appeal to the inner car mechanic in most of them, trust me.
I had never been seriously interested in anyone. How wierd was I? "It isn't about the boys, it's about... love. I haven't found it."
- WHAT THE FUCK. AGAIN. NOT HAVING INTENSE CRUSHES DOESN'T MAKE YOU A FREAKSHOW. GOD. (and I don't use that lightly, as an atheist.) Seriously, talk to a couple of teenagers. I personally am DAMN FUCKING PROUD to have made it to sixteen years old without a first kiss. No, I'm not shitting you. Sometimes high school boys are just stupid and not worth your time; there's no shame in that. Hell, I can name someone who shares my 'romantic state' and is two years older than I am. Assuming that all teenagers are horny little idiots and that high school 'romance' is the center of their universe makes no one look worse than the IDIOT AUTHOR.
- Now, keeping in mind that I have little romantic experience, point two. Saving yourself for your One Twoo Wuv is all well and good in fairy tales, but in real life is impractical. Like anything you pin all your hopes on, the potential for disaster is enormous. You know the saying 'the bigger they are, the harder they fall'? Applies double to expectations. Build yourself up and it'll just be worse if/when it goes wrong. And let's face it, Nora's idiot enough that it's GONNA GO WRONG.
"Someday this is going to be us. Ravished by half-dressed cowboys. I wonder what it's like to kiss a pair of sunbaked, mud-crusted lips?"
- MEMO TO VEE AND ALL ROMANCE WRITERS: 'Ravished' does not mean wild, passionate, consensual, kinky sex on a rug. It. MEANS. RAPE. I don't need to go on and on about how Rape Is Wrong. I think review readers understand that. I wish authors did. This word makes me so incredibly angry I can't even- I just can't.
My sixth sense graduated to high alert.
- I swear, 'alert' should be replaced by 'school'. At least then it would be funny. As it is, SENTENCEFAIL.
At first I couldn't distinguish any facial features, and then I realized he was wearing a ski mask.
- First off, one word: CLICHE. (This is the Review Of Much Caps.)
- 'At first' she couldn't distinguish facial features... and then she realized she couldn't distinguish facial features due to the ski mask. Okay, so why the 'at first'?
I watched with horror as the door began to bow. He was tearing- it- off.
- How much will you bet me this turns out to be Patch?
- Dramatic- dashes- do- not- achieve- effect.
Lifting my eyes just high enough to get a look at him without appearing that I was, I took in his fine-boned, handsome face. Blond hair hung at his shoulders. Eyes the color of chrome. Unshaven. Impeccably dressed in a tailored jacket over his green sweater and dark designer jeans.
- Tried to picture outfit; failed. Asked friend Fashion Maven to picture outfit; she rejected it. Conclude that 'Impeccably' doesn't mean what Fitzpatz thinks it means.
- Brought this scene up to other friend and she made good point. Why are they having breakfast at a bistro on a school morning? I could understand Vee doing this, as she doesn't give a crap for her grades, but Nora's suppsed to be Ivy-League caliber. Also, Wikipedia will tell you that bistros are defined by their food- namely things which are cooked SLOWLY. Like, say, exactly the kind of thing you really don't want to be eating when you have to be in class on time? Yeah, precisely like that.
"Mmm, check it out," said Vee. "Mr. Green Sweater is getting out of his seat. Now that's a body that hits the gym regularly. He is definitely making his way toward us, his eyes pursuing the real estate, your real estate, that is."
- Run-on sentence; the last comma should be a period.
- Editorfail: Pursuing? Or did you mean 'perusing'? Though I wouldn't put it past any of these characters to get the two mixed up... if they know the word 'perusing' in the first place...
- I have officially joined the Veehaters.
When he didn't answer, I turned sideways. "Soap. Shampoo. Hot water."
"Naked. I know the drill."
- How does this supposed supernatural creature have the exact same Awkwardness Summon abilities as a regular hormonal human teenage boy?
- SQUICK PATCH. SQUICK.
"Nora." The warning in Coach's voice pulled me back to my quiz, but I couldn't help speculating about what Patch's answer might have been, and it had me wanting to slide far away from him.
- This would have been an excellent point for Fitzpatz to show us that Nora is smart and a good student, the kind of person who would have to choose between Ivies for college. Instead, she leaves us with the telling of this we got earlier and shows us Nora as a hormonal idiot who is distracted by a guy she finds creepy. Sorry if I don't believe the characterization I was told and instead go with what I was shown.
My voice caught on the word, and I wondered if after today I would ever feel like calling Vee my friend again.
- Pity this didn't occur to Nora earlier.
- And yet this comment doesn't come into play later. Where's the ongoing doubt in Vee's trustworthiness or the value of her friendship? At the Delphic Amusement Park, for instance?
I was all alone, free do to as I pleased.
I came to a stop at the third door on the left. I sucked in a breath and knocked, but it was obvious from the darkened window that the room was empty. I pushed on the door.
- This may seem a minor nitpick, but SENTENCE VARIATION, DAMMIT. Four sentences in a row that start with 'I (past tense verb)' are amateur. Seriously, I used to pull this formulaic shit to get out of required writing assignments when I was in elementary school. Any close-reading editor should have caught this and made Fitzpatz rewrite this little section so that it was smoother and, oh, MATURE.
He jerked his chin out the door. "I need you to exit the building immediately."
- Mental image: chin flies out the door. Hilarious, but stupid.
- I dunno about Fitzpatz, but I've actually been at school during a bomb threat. And you know what they do? THEY MAKE YOU STAY PUT. You don't leave the building or even the room, especially if you're in someplace where a student shouldn't be. This reaction is ridiculous.
"All the seats here are taken," I said. When he didn't answer, I grabbed my glass back and took a sip of water, accidentally swallowing an ice cube. It burned the whole way down. "Shouldn't you be working instead of fraternizing with customers?"
- Where's the choking 'Gaaaack, gaaack' that is normal aftermath of swallowing an ice cube? Maybe it's a nitpick, but if you're going to make your main character do something like that, use all aspects of it- wouldn't it be interesting to have her embarass herself this way in front of Patch?
Even though it would probably come back to haunt me, I was curious enough about Patch to go almost anywhere with him.
"I want to get you alone," Patch said.
- Do I even have to make the comment here? Good. Because I can't compose myself enough to get past the DLSKJF; STUPID CHARACTER rant stage. So it's nice that this one speaks for itself.
He was dressed in knee-length basketball shorts and a white Nike sweatshirt.
- What kind of imbecile wears a sweatshirt to PE, when you know you'll be sweating buckets and giving off heat like nobody's business?
"Run!" my team shouted from the dugout. "Run, Nora!"
"Drop the bat!" they screamed.
I flung it aside.
"Stay on first base!"
- The hell? Someone who doesn't do well in sports and doesn't like them much isn't going to go for the gusto. You take first base and you stick with it, because it's better than getting struck out. So either Nora has no strategic/logical brain at all (possible) or Patch being there completely screwed it up. (possible).
- Choppy writing supposed to be dramatic? Because it's not.
"Trust me, Dorth, there are no boys in my life." Okay, maybe there were two lurking on the fringe, circling from afar, but since I didn't know either very well, and one outright frightened me, it felt safer to close my eyes and pretend they weren't there.
- Patch OUTRIGHT FRIGHTENS HER. Feh. Warning sign much, you airhead?
- The imagery here makes both boys sound like sharks. Eeew. Not a healthy image if you expect her to fall in love with one of them.
Dorothea had moved down the hall to the powder room.
- No teenager in their right minds would seriously use the words 'powder room' in place of 'bathroom'. Sorry, no dice, Fitzpatz.
(To Be Continued in comments)(less)
Notes are private!
Aug 25, 2010
Nov 04, 2009
EDIT: 14 Dec. 2012. I no longer get notifications for the comments. Feel free to duke it out with each other; just don't expect me to respond.
WARNING:...more EDIT: 14 Dec. 2012. I no longer get notifications for the comments. Feel free to duke it out with each other; just don't expect me to respond.
WARNING: If you enjoyed this book, even a little bit, you may not want to read this review. It will probably make you angry. Heaven knows that the book made me furious, and I intend to turn every bit of that wrath back on it.
Instead, I suggest you read karen's review, Brigid's review, Joyzi's review, or any other of the gushing four and five-star reviews here. If video reviews are more your style, I suggest Melina Pendulum's vlog about this book.
Realistically, I know a lot of you are not going to listen, which is why the edit is here. At least it will slow you down a little.
EDIT: adding one more thing because, despite the warning and the redirect links I kindly provided, I have indeed gotten the kind of sexist bullshit comments I anticipated. Before you launch into the usual defense, therefore, I give you this:
"Alternatively, some fans may find it tempting to argue “Well this media is a realistic portrayal of societies like X, Y, Z”. But when you say that sexism and racism and heterosexism and cissexism have to be in the narrative or the story won’t be realistic, what you are saying is that we humans literally cannot recognise ourselves without systemic prejudice, nor can we connect to characters who are not unrepentant bigots. Um, yikes. YIKES, you guys.
And even if you think that’s true (which scares the hell out of me), I don’t see you arguing for an accurate portrayal of everything in your fiction all the time. For example, most people seem fine without accurate portrayal of what personal hygiene was really like in 1300 CE in their medieval fantasy media. (Newsflash: realistically, Robb Stark and Jon Snow rarely bathed or brushed their teeth or hair). In real life, people have to go to the bathroom. In movies and books, they don’t show that very much, because it’s boring and gross. Well, guess what: bigotry is also boring and gross. But everyone is just dying to keep that in the script."
Here's the scoop on this review. For a book that I hate, I usually write a lot. After suffering for several hundred pages, I have pleeeenty of things to say. I've never hated a book that was quite as long as this one quite as much as I do, so I've had to alter my review so that I can say everything I want to without going over the character limit.
The first part is an unorganized rant. I marked pages with particularly annoying quotes on them; for these rants, I broke the book into segments of 100 pages and wrote up quotes and responses for each segment into separate blog posts. These are all linked below.
The second part will be a more organized rant masquerading as a review. MAKE NO MISTAKE: THIS IS A 'HATER' REVIEW. IF ANYTHING WAS GOING TO CAUSE ME TO SPONTANEOUSLY DEVELOP THE ABILITY TO BREATHE FIRE, IT WOULD HAVE BEEN THIS BOOK.
There are books I don't like.
There are books I loathe.
there's this book, which did its level best to drive me to drinking.
and I don't even like alcohol.
I wanted to like this. I wanted it to be as excellent as so many people insist it is. There are some books that I went into expecting them to be horrible, but this isn't one of them. Oh, my hopes were high here - it was recommended by a plethora of great authors, including the guys of Writing Excuses, who I absolutely love. Reviewers who I greatly respect rated it four and five stars and wrote at length about how awesome it was. Other people praised the book as "the greatest achievement of the fantasy genre so far" and Martin as "the greatest fantasy writer of all time".
It's those last two that are most important, I think, because I love the fantasy genre - always have, and hopefully always will. Fantasy is what got me into reading (well, Harry Potter, specifically) and it's been one of my mainstays for as long as I can remember. I bought this book in large part because it was so often touted as, if not always the greatest achievement of the genre, one of the major works of fantasy published in our time. Having recently read several works by Brandon Sanderson, all of which were innovative, highly readable, and deeply philosophical, I was excited to see what Martin (by all reports an even better writer than Sanderson) could do. I expected my mind to be blown, repeatedly, and to be faced with the challenge of writing a review for a book so staggeringly brilliant that I could hardly think straight after finishing it.
That is far, far, far from what I got.
First of all, this book is definitely not what I think of when I hear the word 'fantasy'. It's certainly far from my definition of 'high fantasy'. Now, I realize that my definition of 'high fantasy', which includes pervasive magic, unusual creatures, and a setting that is vividly far from the real world, is not the definition you'll find if you look the term up online. I also don't care. Seeing as the critical definition appears to characterize high fantasy solely by the fact that it doesn't take place on our Earth, and as this definition is written as if high fantasy and sword-and-sorcery are mutually exclusive, I'm inclined to conclude that whoever wrote said definition is pretty damn stupid and carry on with my own outlines of what makes fantasy high, low, urban, epic, or any other subcategory or combination thereof.
That said - this book? High fantasy? Not as far as I'm concerned. It is, to say the least, distinctly lacking in the requisite elements of the fantastic.
Is it possible that Martin is going for a 'the magic comes back' subplot over the course of the series? Definitely. Do I give two shits about the rest of the series? NOPE.
This book comes off as a pathetic attempt at fantasy by someone who doesn't really care about the genre, or doesn't know much about it. It mostly struck me more as an alternate universe War of the Roses fanfiction, with some hints of magic thrown in in a halfassed attempt to give it a place on the genre fiction shelves of bookstores. You can explain to me over and over how Martin intended to make his world 'gritty' and 'realistic' and I will tell you over and over that that shouldn't matter: that it is possible to have a fantasy which is gritty, realistic, and also utterly fantastical. It's even possible to do it without losing the particular areas where Martin seemed to be trying for gritty realism: since he chose to make all of his characters of the nobility anyhow, he wouldn't have had to worry about overglorifying the lives of the peasantry, as one might with a more economically diverse cast.
Now, I'm willing to give Martin the benefit of the doubt a little bit on the possibility of the 'magic comes back' thing, because there did seem to be elements here that could become fantastical if fully explained later. The problem, of course, is that they're tossed out without background, let alone proper explanation, and so feel jarring and out of place - not a coherent part of the world, but bits tossed in to be linked together later. Right now... all they managed to do was trip me up, throw me ass-over-teakettle out of the story, and leave me blinking at the page in confusion and not a little bit of frustration.
(And yeah, maybe part of why I'm so sore about this is that, like I said, I started this book not long after reading some Sanderson, and Sanderson is basically the king of seamless, fantastical, elegant worldbuilding, so pretty much anyone looks bad in comparison, but still.)
If I had to assign this book to a genre, I'd call it 'low fantasy', because as far as I'm concerned it was running too low on the qualities that make fantasy what it is. It's about as much fantasy as fanfiction that translates characters to the modern day is - namely, basically mundane with a miniscule twist.
The characters of this book also stand out... and not in a good way.
There are a lot of them - eight POVs and plenty more on the side - and not a single one of them is likeable. They all had the potential to be, which makes it worse. Bran, the Stark boy who learns too much and is crippled as a result, could have an interesting arc if it weren't so slow and drawn-out. The hints of genuine pathos-inducing story are definitely there. They're also present in the chapters focused on Catelyn, who is the closest Martin gets to a truly nuanced character. Ned Stark, Catelyn's husband, is supposed to be the noble one - too bad his 'nobility' comes off as stupidity instead. Jon Snow, Ned's bastard child, is a truly stereotypical fantasy character: the super special 'outcast' who is nonetheless generally loved except by those the narration makes a point to show as bigoted and cruel, who never really has to work either for physical skills or personal growth, and who gets gifted by the narrative with an absurd number of SUPER UNIQUE TRAPPINGS, including an albino wolf (really, Martin, REALLY? Are you secretly a fourteen year-old girl writing horrendous anime fanfic or something? Answer: no, and the comparison is insulting to fourteen year-old girls.) and a bastard sword that was a family heirloom of a noble house not his own. Arya is by far the most entertaining of the Starks, but only because she fulfills all sorts of rebellious-noble-girl-learns-to-fight tropes that I'm quite fond of. Sansa's chapters made me set the book down for days on end; she is beyond a shadow of a doubt the most insipid, annoying, airheaded character I have ever read and she has not a single whisper of a redeeming quality. Tyrion Lannister is what Jon Snow could have become without the heapings of Gary Stu in his youth: a bitter middle-aged man with father issues who turns to sex and crudity as his only defense; somewhat akin to Catelyn, he had the potential to be interesting and nuanced if his behavior hadn't been played dead straight.
And there's one more: Daenerys Targaryen. Oh, Dany, Dany, Dany. I could write a dissertation on Dany and everything that went wrong with her story - but I don't have that kind of time.
For those of you not familiar with this most epic of George R.R. Martin's characterization and plot failures, here is a summary:
(oh and spoilers, but I honestly can't be bothered to tag it.)
When we first meet her, Dany is thirteen years ond and about to be sold (effectively) into marriage with Khal Drogo, a warlord of the Dothraki people, by her abusive and not-a-little-bit-crazy brother, Viserys. Viserys has convinced himself that Drogo will help him take back 'his' kingdom - this being the Seven Kingdoms where the rest of the book takes place - hence the whole 'selling his sister to be
To which my primary objections are:
1. The blinding obviousness of the ending
2. The fact that this single plotline - this single POV among eight - is so far distant from and so barely related to the others
3. The fact that Dany being raped is never treated as what it is, and that the relationship between her and Drogo is portrayed as love.
The first two are self-explanatory; the third, of course, is the big thorny problem. Now, I can sort of understand the perspective which argues that Dany is taking control of her sexuality - she comes to enjoy sex and even to initiate and control it at times. However, SHE IS AT NO POINT OLDER THAN FOURTEEN. There's a reason that such a concept as an 'age of consent' exists - there is an age at which teenagers are genuinely immature and probably shouldn't be making life-changing decisions like, say, things that could get them pregnant. Now, I understand that in the medieval times like those that this book is based on, girls were getting married and having children a lot earlier, and that people in general were more mature at an early age. However, Dany shows none of that maturity until after she's been with Drogo for weeks - if not months. When she's married to him, she is if anything unusually innocent for her age. It's a little hard for me to accept the idea that she's taking control of her sexuality when she's so young and clueless that her first sexual experience is a choice only inasmuch as she chooses not to fight back. Not fighting back, by the way, doesn't mean it's not rape, particularly in the situation that Dany is in (vastly younger than Drogo, vastly weaker, browbeaten by her abusive brother and told over and over that her obligation is to do whatever her husband wants). Nor are her later sexual experiences ones of choice; in fact, it is explicitly stated that even when she had horrible saddle sores and could barely walk, she was expected to be available for sex and treated as such. If anything, her eventual enjoyment of it seems more like a psychological block put up as a survival tactic than genuine pleasure in the act or love for Drogo.
Yet, despite the fact that this situation is obviously, beyond a shadow of a doubt, rape, it's never addressed in-text. If anything, it's portrayed as a positive experience for Dany, one that makes her stronger and enables her to stand up for herself.
Stupid me; I thought that the cancerous expansion of rape-as-love was limited to abusive jackass love interests in YA paranormal romances; clearly, I was wrong. It's everywhere, people. We are all completely fucking doomed.
Which brings me to one of the other major frustrations I had with this book: the sex.
Ummm... what to say? I thought reading some of the V'lane bits of Darkfever while sitting next to my mother on the plane was uncomfortable; to my utter shock, that was nothing compared to reading the sex scenes of this book alone. No worry about someone looking over my shoulder and reading about MacKayla Lane getting hot and bothered - and yet even more awkward. Why? Well, as one reviewer put it (and I wish I could remember who to give them credit), they're written kind of as if they're these tremendous mythic events. I cringe at the very thought of quoting them, but to give you a little idea of what they're like... (worst romance sex scenes you've ever read) - (bizarre flowerly euphemisms) + (gratuitous use of the word 'manhood')*(general strange reverence for penises above and beyond the norm) + (incidences of incest) = Game of Thrones sex scene.
In general: AWKWARD.
(Just to be sure you feel my pain.)
This book felt male-oriented in a way that is so painfully forced that it made me distinctly uncomfortable. I don't mean that women can't enjoy it - obviously, as all the reviews I linked back at the top demonstrate, they can and they do. I mean that the book itself felt as if it were written for the most stereotypical male audience imaginable. As Tatiana described it, it reads like a soap opera for men. Because MEN want lots of violence, sex, swearing by female genitalia, and paper-thin motivations, right? Which is exactly what Martin dishes up.
and so is the book he's produced.
I thought at around the halfway point that I'd finish the book and be able to watch the HBO show to get the rest of the series without suffering through more awkwardly described sex scenes (not to mention the rest of it). By the time I finished, though, I had developed such a virulent hatred for this book, its author, and everything related to either of the above that I start grinding my teeth just reading praise for it. Watching the show would be vastly to my detriment - mostly because neither my hand nor my bank account would do well after I put my fist through the screen of my laptop.
Oh, and to the diehard defenders of this series, like those who were plaguing Keely's review, who like to tell people who disagree with them that GRRM is the greatest writer of ALL TIME and that the female characters presented herein are feminist (or, to use an exact quote, that "GRRM has written some of the most independent, self-reliant heroines ever to grace the fantasy genre. It's more than half the reason he's so beloved. His female characters disdain male attention, are always smarter, faster, deadlier, and braver than any of their male counterparts. Kinda like feminists with swords" which is complete and utter bullshit), I have only one thing to say:
THANK YOU AND GOODNIGHT.(less)
Notes are private!
Sep 21, 2011
Nov 10, 2011
Feb 04, 2009
Mass Market Paperback
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