So sure, it can be a kid's book, too. But as we all know, Harry Potter was published for children and look how many people love it. (Lifetime lover of the HP series, right here. Read HP1 when I was a wee little girlie at five-years-old. Just in case you were wondering...) So this book doesn't contain all the nitty-gritty, teenage dramatic rabble we get so much in YA fiction today. Instead....
It's a wonderfully refreshing journey. I very much enjoyed how it wasn't centered around a romance or a couple or the "normal" setup. It's set up at the beginning of World War I--1913--and it was rich in detail and atmosphere. For a while, I've felt the beginning signs of a history lover in me. I don't know of many books that are set in the World War time periods and are written specifically for young adults. I consider this a jewel for inspiring children--making them interested in their history.
It was a fascinating mix of future and past. And I do believe that is what Scott Westerfeld describes as the "steampunk" genre. I haven't been very impressed with the few steampunk novels I've read but this one was brilliant. This wasn't something that Mr. Westerfeld came up with on a whim. He put some real effort into this--doing his research and getting it right. I can't even begin to wonder how he came up with half the creatures in this book.
Some say "slow". Of the reviews I've read of "Leviathan," they say that it was slow--not a lot of action. As I read, I couldn't help but think, "Ooooh, they meant that kind of action." Like I said, this was written to be appropriate for middle grade kids while being interesting and complex enough for older teens. So, no. It won't have hot and heavy sex scenes. But there was plenty of action-action. Like the kind you see in war films. Getting chased by a huge metal spider-like thing while on the run for being the son of a murdered archduke? Getting caught in the middle of a storm strapped to the belly of a giant flying jellyfish? Getting stranded on a glacier in the mountains, waiting for your giant, hydrogen-making, living ship to re-inflate itself? And they say "no action"? Oy.
I loved the characters. Deryn was so flipping awesome! Maybe an overuse of the British slang but still, awesome all the same. A very strong heroine. :) And Alek wasn't too bad either. They were both so sharp and both had their own unique voice. (The chapters alternated between the two.) Sometimes I had a hard time keeping Alek's crew straight but it became clearer as I continued to read.
Thrilling plot. Talk about a cliffhanger! Grr! (But I can't say anymore--gotta keep to the Spoiler Free policy, after all.)
Shew! The illustrations? Okay, talk about talented. Personally, I LOVE young adult books that have illustrations in them. (The "Leven Thumps" series by Obert Skye is the only other series I know that is middle grade/young adult that has illustrations in it.) The illustrations provided the perfect visual aid I needed...it gave the extra spunk to the imagination.
Definitely a favorite. I can't wait to head to Scott Westerfeld's appearance in Raleigh on the 22nd. I want to ask him so many questions! And I can't wait to read "Behemoth" (which released on October 5th, by the way.) On the 22nd, I will be the proud owner of a signed copy of "Leviathan" and "Behemoth" by Scott Westerfeld. Oo-rah!...more
In a cinch: Great idea, poorly executed. It's a real shame how often this happens. "I Am Number Four" had awesome potential. I mean, aliens aren't something everyone's raving about anymore. It's been overshadowed by the hordes of vampire books descending on the young adult sections everywhere. The idea of an alien coming to earth, assuming a new identity every year, being forced to run because the race that took over and destroyed their home planet is coming after them. These people living among us don't even remember each other--all they know is how many of them have died by a circle branded into their ankles. It helps that they must be killed in numerical order. Thus the title cover: "Three are dead. I Am Number Four." You see the cleverness here? And they've all got awesome powers!
The writing. Well, it left something--a lot of somethings--to be desired. There was very little amount of grace when it came to the structure or style. Events that you think should be held with kid gloves are blundered through like a bull in a china shop.
I couldn't get a lot out of the characters. They all seemed so shallow and so flighty. It's reflected in the romance. This supposedly "deep" connection as me going, "Are you serious?" It's like John (the main character) was so starved for something that he'd take anything he could find. No substance to their romance whatsoever. The only character with some life in him was Sam (the geeky sidekick) and the dog (Bernie Kosar).
The plot followed along too generic a road. I mean, you all remember Star Wars right? I found myself just skimming the last few pages. I didn't even care about what happened.
There's a second book, but I don't think I'm going to read it. The writing pretty much ruined the whole thing for me. I was really looking forward to this book, too, because it looked like such a refreshing idea. But alas, it was not so....more
I may not be a lover of vampires, but there are more than several reasons why this book didn't exactly call to me.
The writing was so-so. It seemed very half-hearted and there were many mistakes that should have been caught by an editor. There was nothing in the style that drew me in and kept me riveted.
The plot needed serious work. I can understand a little lull now and again and maybe some loose strings but there wasn't any depth. There wasn't a lot of mystery; I didn't feel compelled to figure it out for myself.
The characters: No depth whatsoever. In fact, the most fleshed out character was KiKi (aka: Maybelle Crusher). The main character, Daphne, was portrayed as weak and dramatic, constantly delivering choppy, unrealistic lines. You would think, given the fact she'd been slaying vampires since she was twelve, that she would have a backbone. It felt more like I was watching a soap opera--you know that stuff like this never happens. There wasn't any sense of realism--more like a dream.
There were promising components. There were many ideas that I thought were interesting and original--if only they had panned out. It had great potential at being a really good book if the MC was tougher and more realistic, the love interest not so Ken-like, and stronger supporting characters and atmosphere. I liked the humor even if there were only spurts of it. Kiki was hilarious.
If I were to choose one word to describe this book, it would be "cute". Most of the parts were stock--things you see in late night TV shows that carry no substance. For all the ideas the author had, the book should have been longer to allow the ideas to pan out. It really petered out towards the end.
Overall, not the most enjoyable book for me.
WARNING! Lots of swearing in this book, especially in the beginning and middle--not so much at the end. ...more
This is the kind of series that makes me send hysterical tweets to my fellow fangirl Liz at Planet Print proclaiminOriginally posted at The Authoress.
This is the kind of series that makes me send hysterical tweets to my fellow fangirl Liz at Planet Print proclaiming something along the lines of, "What a state of depravity my life was in before this book!" And then, "I just finished it. And now I hate myself." (Because I didn't slow down and savor it.) In short, it is the series that immediately captured my interest and imagination and heart -- and hell, my soul for all its worth. The Agency series, brilliantly continued in The Body at the Tower, features a stubborn but well-meaning main character, a compelling plot, a mind-numbingly frustrating romance, and an atmosphere that makes me wish I had been born a century or two earlier than I had been.
My opinion of Miss Mary Quinn is twofold. On the one hand, I can't help but have a huge girl crush on her because she's the type of girl who will, because she thinks it's a good idea, go and cut off all her hair in order to look like a boy. In Victorian England where Such Things Are Not Done. She'll snap at somebody just as much as she'll express kindness, but not because she feels entitled to a smooth way in life or because of her pride, but because she has a clear sense of this is cool and this makes me look like a rhyme with witch. She is a clear-headed fresh of breath air in today's rife-with-divas young adult fiction.
On the other side. She has a beautiful piece of man flesh who would actually accept her boy's hair cut and all -- and well, I can't exactly go flouting the details of that circumstance because that's spoilery. But good lord, this girl can frustrate me just as much as demand respect from me. Emotions aside, the cold, editor-like part of me admires Y.S. Lee for crafting a character that can bring out so much enthusiasm from me. Enthusiasm, whether positive or negative, is better than bland indifference.
As in the case of A Spy in the House I wasn't all that interested in the mystery, though it was easier for me to keep up with this one because I understood what was going on. I admit I was mostly engaged in the interactions between the aforementioned man flesh (James Easton) and our feisty main character. This series is undoubtedly a guilty pleasure all around because it engages my interest on so many different levels.
Except for the writing. I'll admit that the writing isn't much of a shining point for me, but the thing about it is: it wasn't awful. It's just not mind-blowingly brilliant in my mind. This definitely has its advantages because it means that I can just go along with the story and not be distracted by the prose.
In summation, The Body at the Tower has only heightened my anticipation for the rest of the series. I have got to have this series for my bookshelves because I'm experiencing the rare urge to reread my favorite bits. ...more
This is a fascinating mix of elements. This is a book that brought about that rare feeling where you just don’t know what to feel and where there are so many different things going on that you can’t just feel one way about it. The plot is complex and frighteningly realistic. Honestly, the writing gave me goose bumps and the ending gave me chills.
The one thing that really brings so much emotion out of this book, I think, is the world. Philip Pullman takes his time and leisurely describes the different aspects of life, setting up everything right in the very beginning while being careful not to bore the reader. I love that measure of detail. I think what most writers don’t realize is that you can’t rush into the story right away but you also can’t give a soliloquy about how things work. There’s a careful balancing act and Philip Pullman is a master of this craft. I didn’t feel brought down by any of the information and I appreciated it in the long run.
My dad has no imagination. Not in the fantasy-world kind of way, at least. He made a comment to me about armored bears. “Armored bears? Don’t think I see that right there.” And I said, “Yeah, dad, that’s where the imagination part comes in.” And he’ll just shake his head at me. Philip Pullman presents things in such a way that your brain doesn’t go, “Oh, yeah, right.” He presents it as that’s the way of the world and how could you question that? (Unless you’re my father.) Philip Pullman has published, like, a billion books so he obviously knows what he’s doing. And he’s also one of those minds that has me going, “Okay, how did he come up with that of all impossible things?” The simply wild events kept me riveted and the matter-of-fact prose created the prefect formula to keep me reading.
But the ending freaked me out. Really. Maybe it’s because I’d seen the movie first and saw how awesome Daniel Craig was. I don’t want to be spoilerish here, but for those of you who read the book, the ending just…God. Really gave me the willies. And, slightly relevant to that, I can see why some parents wouldn’t want their kids reading this book—at least until they’re older. Philip Pullman pulls from “The Bible” but uses his own verses, adding daemons in there.
I think what really made this book come together was Lyra. She’s an awesome chica. She’s so stubborn and determined. If she goes for something, she gets it and that’s that. Lord help anyone who tries to stop her. She’s such a real character that she provokes so many feelings for her. I was cheering for her all the way and wanted to cry with her, too.
Just a little note about the movie: I think it’s a good adaption. I can see why it was ended the way it was. You just gotta think that this is a kids movie and the way the book ended…well…I can’t see that being fit into a kids movie and going over well. Even being rearranged, I think the movie really captured the voice of the book while keeping it appropriate for kids.
In a nutshell, Philip Pullman brought together the complexities of the world and, combining them with a vivid and fresh imagination, created an everlasting story. ...more