I think that the fame metaphor of the sci fi here was a little more developed than the pretty/ugly technol...moreOne whole star removed for the name "Frizz."
I think that the fame metaphor of the sci fi here was a little more developed than the pretty/ugly technology of the main trilogy, but I was still underwhelmed by the characters and action. Meh.
The theme of this story, honesty, seemed far less meaningful and felt almost irrelevant to the actual events. Aya's emotional waffling over truth-telling reminded me of one of my chief annoyances with Tally Youngblood: these heroines are always beating themselves up for some perceived betrayal, but it's always greatly overblown in the plot. "Sometimes these things just aren't your fault" would be a truly meaningful lesson for both stories. Almost never did I actually feel the pain of a character realizing her mistake, because they didn't really make that many.
I'm glad, though, that these books are here because I think what they're trying to do is give deep attention to the common anxieties of girls as reflected through whole societies. I don't love the way they do that, but other people do, so that means a lot. And hoverboarding remains awesome.(less)
The thing I liked best about the story was that I didn't know how it would end until it ended. It is a young...moreMeg's other Christmas present! Thanks Meg!
The thing I liked best about the story was that I didn't know how it would end until it ended. It is a younger read than other teen fiction books, so a lot of developments are pretty straightforward, but I liked being genuinely excited by whatever would happen to their fairies.
Fairies huh? One of the weaker points I think was the handling of fairies as a religious idea, which makes sense but didn't really make sense. There's not really two ways about it based on the things that happen in the story, and there's a few more fascinating ideas mentioned once that I'd prefer hearing more about. (The idea that fairies have only existed for a few generations could be a good world-builder.)
I liked how I read the first paragraph like five times because I didn't know if something magical was happening, something futuristic, something Australian, or something funny. (It's something funny.) Also, the book just has something about it that's great. I love the title, I love the cover. I love the little chapter header gimmick. It's just right.(less)
Chris bought this last year and when we were moving he put it in the to-Strand pile, from which I rescued it. Amy loves this book! I said. You can't s...moreChris bought this last year and when we were moving he put it in the to-Strand pile, from which I rescued it. Amy loves this book! I said. You can't sell books Amy loves til I read them!
It was an interesting way to read it, doing the detective work the whole time of why Amy loves this book and Chris disliked this book. I thought it was very nice. In the memoir comic genre, it's a smart one. I liked the thoughtful threads of symbolism and memory. Those are good ingredients in stories.
Early on, I wondered if it might be that someone might need to have shared a complicated childhood to attach to the narration of the book. But that's dumb. What's ultimately relatable is not the discomfort but what I think is a quite universal intrigue for one's parents. How did they happen?
That question's powerful enough to draw me through a book about it, so that's good. It's also a really caring look back for the author at herself, and that's meaningful too. And instead of sending it off to the Strand I gave the book to my little sister to read the next day I saw her.(less)
On Chris's bookshelf, and I think it has been since we met Brian K. Vaughan at a Comic Con panel in 2005, and he wrote the title down on a piece of pa...moreOn Chris's bookshelf, and I think it has been since we met Brian K. Vaughan at a Comic Con panel in 2005, and he wrote the title down on a piece of paper to recommend for us.
I like it! But I feel I am reserving the fourth star for additional volumes. I've been rating things conservatively lately.
The escalation to this beginning is pretty cool. You think it's just a funny book, with a funny style. Then in the middle it's like "There's a secret subspace highway running through your dream" and you are like WTF and then it is like "Also Scott is the best fighter in the world" and you're still like WAIT A SECOND.
So it should be fun.
Though, I'm afraid to say it, I do hope there is a little nuance arriving in later books to account for the "You have to defeat my evil ex-boyfriends before I can date you" thing. Which is, of course, the main thing. And it's not that big a deal, maybe, but at a basic level is not the most unconventional theme I've ever seen. And this seems to be a series that is proud of thinking outside the box, so I wonder what it's about, there.
I was super surprised how fast I read this, even for a comic book. Onward!(less)
A reread. I neared the end on the ride home today and finished it on the couch and sniffled. Also, yesterday in the laundromat.
I read this when it was...moreA reread. I neared the end on the ride home today and finished it on the couch and sniffled. Also, yesterday in the laundromat.
I read this when it was published in 2005 because I read an interview with Alicia Erian that I liked the sound of. She talked briskly about writing. I was interested in rereading because of Alan Ball's film adaptation being released.
My favorite thing about the book is the strength of the tension in the entire narration. You are basically as stressed out as Jasira is, being 13 and sorting through the fuzzy line between sensitive feelings and actual offenses, feeling watched and being watched, being petrified of embarrassment and disapproval then getting embarrassed and disrespected, trying bold things and lying. It feels exactly like being a young teenager in a freaky environment feels, with a story at extremes.
My second favorite thing about the book is how it manages to produce a lot of explicit shock without pissing me off like kids in first-year fiction classes showing off their deep twistedness. This can't be easy to pull off, or so many people wouldn't write like jerks all the time.
Basically the book goes like this: everything is really awful, then suddenly everything is nice, and you'll cry maybe.
Three years ago when I was reading it, my sister who was 15 then visited and read the whole book in one day. This week when I was reading it, she visited from college and read the whole book in one day.(less)
I actually didn't like this book til around page 200. I'm sad not to have loved it, but I think what happened was that I d...moreRead from Chris's bookshelf.
I actually didn't like this book til around page 200. I'm sad not to have loved it, but I think what happened was that I didn't like these characters enough, by themselves. And most of the book is the characters on their own, at rest.
I started liking it the more they got mixed up. The first really long piece of the story is during their Christmas visit to Clare's family, and that was really great. The awkward, melancholy charm of the extended family reminded me of enjoying that quality in Brideshead Revisited. And love triangles aside, their close friends were mostly really nice to be around. Henry's neighbor Kimy is awesome. I liked the story parts more than the atmospheric parts, and I liked that timelines twisted up a bit in the last sections, and I liked the ending.
And: "When somebody is that patient, you have to feel grateful, and then you want to hurt them."
Something that bothered me though, was everyone is so damn comfortable it made me impatient. I don't think I like many books whose characters have flawless lives. Here, she is rich and gorgeous and a successful artist with amazing hair who grew up in a glorious historic mansion -- wow, characterizing way outside the box there. He has childhood pain and time-traveling angst -- only slightly more outside the box, really. They are soulmates and have sex constantly. Yay.
So there's a lot of praise heaped on them all the time, and I got tired of reading it. Yes, you're very punk rock, yes you read Proust in French, yes her silk dress handed down from her grandmother makes her the fairest of them all. I hate that Clare's too good for working at a job (she must make art), and too good for adopting a child (that's fake). They live an already privileged life -- Clare specifies once that they live on the interest of her trust fund -- and yet Henry uses time travel to get them stock tips, winning lottery tickets. They're ungenerous. Henry once calls a fat woman a cow.
And personally, I would do without their relationship when Clare is a child, though that's one of the most popular aspects of the book. Makes me a little uncomfortable though. It contributes to the "this is much too perfect" feeling, and they don't quite justify away 100% of the pervyness.
There's some sadness, and it lands. But there's no conflict. No one makes any difficult decisions. They just are passive.
3.25 stars. Needed to slice that extra star up real special.
(Ed. 01/11 - The more I think about this, the way less I liked it. Gotta take away a star for frowny face.)(less)
**spoiler alert** In all ways, really, it's a 3-star book that gets an extra star for these reasons: Maureen Johnson's NYC is a super great setting, a...more**spoiler alert** In all ways, really, it's a 3-star book that gets an extra star for these reasons: Maureen Johnson's NYC is a super great setting, and she probably should do all her writing this way. Also, she of course knows her theater people, and when Mrs. Amberson shows up and out-crazies everyone and whisks Scarlett all around to wacky and illegal things, digging up her old life and the old city, it's super excellent. More of that. In general, a lot of detail surprised me -- the city, the crumbly hotel, people's behavior. And the character of spoiled Marlene the cancer survivor is really smart and dark, and surprising to me. (And hopefully has some interesting development in the follow-ups.)
But mainly, I liked the first half better than the second half. The setup is all great, but I guess I wasn't drawn to the payoff. I think, actually, that I had a hard time reconciling the book's upbeat tone with its characters' flaws. It makes me feel pretty dumb to say "I didn't like the characters' flaws," but there you go. It started to lose me when Spencer gets mad at Scarlett -- it was a little too real, and the serious anger and betrayal coming through felt a little harsh for the happy first-boyfriend teenager brother plot. (Not untrue feelings for teenagers, but maybe it didn't really have an outlet in the story.) Harsh, too, when Mrs. Amberson plays a trick on her friend Donna -- I kind of wanted to be able to just enjoy Mrs. Amberson the kooky lady, but after that point she's rather soured.
I liked that Mrs. Amberson is the age she is -- hearing the book's premise, I pictured her being some very old follies girl or whatever like in some old movie, pearl-wearing, so I think she's actually really original this way. Other than his jealousy arc with Scarlett, I liked everything about Spencer just like the internet said I would and maybe I do want him to be my boyfriend and fall on his face, shut up internet.
Here we go: I didn't like the Uglies series a lot. I've been weaving through it since the summer and finished the (former) trilogy this week.
I think t...moreHere we go: I didn't like the Uglies series a lot. I've been weaving through it since the summer and finished the (former) trilogy this week.
I think that they were predictable, and lacking in any developed character. I was bored almost all the time. Few scenes felt urgent, whether there was whooshing or talking. I think they were tripped up by very difficult thematic and structural ideas, particularly how the narration is handled. I am not really sure what additional books brought to the first.
Of course, the coolness factor is very high. Hoverboards are awesome. Even walls and magnets sound awesome in these books. Very cool. Though some of it carried a clunky amount of allegory, most of the imagined technology is thrilling and, I don't know, fun-making.
I might have liked the second one best. Though it has THE WORST COVER. Why did they use real people on the covers? I hate that there's real people, it ruins everything that you imagine that pretties are. The second one, though, is the only one where Tally's viewpoint is pointed anywhere like a meaningful direction. There's antiheroes and there's limited narrators but it got on my nerves that we could never hear anyone who actually knew (or learned, or paid attention to) anything explain things for more than a page. In Specials, I realized I wanted to hear the rebel city's story instead.
Challenging your "programming" is a very good theme, though, even though all three books seem to make the same point about it. Just like all three books feature the same friend-breakup scene with Shay over boyfriends. (Was that the characterization?)
Anyway, sorry, internet. Just my step in the fight against conformity, I guess.(less)
This series is so great. I finished the last book this month and loved everything about reading it. Like the most exciting, unique books always do, it...moreThis series is so great. I finished the last book this month and loved everything about reading it. Like the most exciting, unique books always do, it got in my head and I thought it over all the time. When I was reading other books, I thought about Midnighters. I had mindcasting dreams, and dreams with darklings. I wished for a prequel. (Pair of tiny children fighting monsters, winning.)
I think this is mostly because my favorite kind of super-natural stories are the kind that just barely slip outside realism, that have a setting that can be found in the world. It rewards you in a special way when you recognize characters as real people, and then they do amazing things.
These books balance action and headspace really well. The kids feel really real, or at least the connections between them do. Every fight scared me to death, and some were beautiful. A couple characters and devices were undercooked or out of tune, but no harm done. I liked the language, the place, the rules. Will definitely reread one day.
(Also this is not really important? But I HATE this new edition. The paper is thin and the binding hates everything about being read. The first paperback editions are VASTLY SUPERIOR. Let it be known.)(less)
This play has sat on my shelf for eight years after getting it for a dollar at a theater flea market. (It's a Samuel French edition, but from London;...moreThis play has sat on my shelf for eight years after getting it for a dollar at a theater flea market. (It's a Samuel French edition, but from London; the size is all wrong and the paper is all funny.) It seemed like a good idea at the time, since coming out of high school I self-educated myself in playwriting by simply reading every play I'd heard of. Heard of this one! But then I just sat there with it. A couple Saturdays ago I pulled it down to read. The play is getting a lot of press right now with a new production, so I wondered what it would be like.
It's fine, turns out, is theatrical in the sense that it's hard to grasp the impact of several scenes without staging. There's also very good use of a chorus device, which is a favorite, and I believe that would have great impact on stage too. I like thinking that the writing was inspired by rumored true events, because I feel inspired by those kinds of too-true stories as well, and know they're hard to implement. Psychology and violence and sex and religion are all really thick themes, and here they're blended very seamlessly to all feel like the same impossible problem. That's a powerful feeling, but also requires some kind of conclusion to really be a lasting one. Mostly, though, we just get some 70s angst, which is different than an ending.
I think today the play feels really put in its time. It's overwhelmingly male, and intellectual shock in 1973 is now what makes mainstream theater look like theater. It's hard to find plays that don't look like all other plays. It doesn't make them bad plays, but you wish there was something else.(less)
Read on DailyLit in 197 parts, over 9 months or so because some days I just had to repeatedly click here to receive the next installment immediately....moreRead on DailyLit in 197 parts, over 9 months or so because some days I just had to repeatedly click here to receive the next installment immediately. I didn't think it would pick up at first, but then they were all in the country at Christmas and I got all excited.
I'd never read Virginia Woolf before, though I bought To the Lighthouse once and even read the start of Mrs. Dalloway. I even liked it. This book, though, is real early Virginia Woolf which means it is disguised as a regular novel. Even within that frame, though, she displays exactly how well she knows people, and already it's scary.
The conventional love-stories format meant I didn't at all expect the turn it took as the main character struggled with female identity and independent thought in 1919 and this is all much more eloquent in the book. This theme was thrilling, though, and the highlight of the novel. Her articulation of her characters' ideas and mistakes is shimmering with insight, several surprising scenes, and sincere feminist need. And I'm glad I know this now!
(Ed. 01/11 - The more I think about this, the more I really liked it. I'd like to read it again.)(less)
I read this through email on DailyLit in 65 parts, starting September 30. Clearly I enjoyed more than one installment a day.
I'm not even sure why I li...moreI read this through email on DailyLit in 65 parts, starting September 30. Clearly I enjoyed more than one installment a day.
I'm not even sure why I liked this so much.
I was really surprised by how much the sci-fi details were similar to Scott Westerfeld's Uglies series, Extras in particular. (Westerfeld mentions this book himself here, but not in much depth.) Cosmetic surgery allowing anyone to look like anything and keep in perfect health, the internal computer interfaces operated by small gestures, and the reputation economy. I did start reading this right after I finished that series, but I would be shocked if Westerfeld hadn't read this right before starting it. Cut from very similar cloth.
I had a lot more fun with the language, symbolism, and ideas here. I love "squirting" information at each other's systems with finger guns. I love the succinct, intriguing flashbacks. And the story's main thrust, Julius's willful spiral after being knocked offline, is really moving. I love that it's not a story of man vs. society, an attack on a big-brother dystopia, as much as a person losing all his bearings and finding his utopia can't help him.(less)
I liked this series! Something about its style was really unique to me, had kind of a candid realism that I liked. I think what I mean by that is that...moreI liked this series! Something about its style was really unique to me, had kind of a candid realism that I liked. I think what I mean by that is that lots of things I didn't expect happened, and also that things didn't always sound pleasant.
I personally felt the series got less gripping as it went on, especially after it got all kooky at the end of book 2, but maybe my taste for kooky magic is still developing. But it felt like it lost some urgency the more powerful its characters got. A fantasy paradox?
These books felt good though, in the writing. It feels good when she describes cold weather, and when characters start kissing. I'm excited that Larbalestier is putting all the cool stuff she seems to know into books like these.(less)
Ok Abundance of Katherines. On reread, the fifth star I've always wanted to give you anyway, because I still totally think you're my favorite John Gre...moreOk Abundance of Katherines. On reread, the fifth star I've always wanted to give you anyway, because I still totally think you're my favorite John Green.
I think I first read this in 2007 when Meg loaned me her library copy, when we became Brotherhood 2.0 fans. Then I got a copy when the paperback was released at $3.99. Then it stayed on my shelf, and then I was considering some books for a present last week, picked it up to refresh my memory, and decided on the spot to reread the entire thing immediately. (And buy it for my friend, because it's perfect.)
I know I had the same feelings this time through, mainly that these are some of the funnest characters you could be around, so enjoyable it doesn't matter much what they're even doing. (Which is good.) Colin and Hassan both have elements of "I'm an author and what ingredients do I want to put in my new character recipe?", which normally I hate, but their friendship skips so far off the page that they somehow manage to totally make each other seem like real people. Also, Lindsey is by far the least pixie dream girl of John Green's now infamous penchant for pixie dream girls. In fact she is really just a girl.
Thing is: some parts are not that great? The broader comedy doesn't gel -- the long fistfight, the pig hunt -- and though the small town's story is nice, it's not that interesting. It sure isn't the world's most compelling book, but John Green is such a good author I don't really care. The way he can get characters to say true things, criminy, I'll keep it. The scene in the cave, are you kidding me, everything both Colin and Lindsey say there is amazing. Hassan's faux-confident experimentation is so great, and when he yells at Colin, good, good. Though set up as such an untouchable achiever, Colin is immensely relatable through the whole book, and everything that Lindsey admits about herself went right through my gut too. Plus I laughed out loud so much.
This time I also read the calculus appendix by Daniel Biss, whose mathematics expertise I have enjoyed since the first time John called him on the phone to do a simple multiplication problem for him in a B2.0 video. Oh it still makes me laugh. Anyway I appreciated the chapter, because I'll be honest, I didn't really remember exactly how you turn a function into a graph. (Can teachers retroactively change your A's once you utterly fail to deserve them in adulthood?)
I got this book from the Strand for my first semester of college in 2000. I was supposed to read it during a writing class about memoir. I didn't read...moreI got this book from the Strand for my first semester of college in 2000. I was supposed to read it during a writing class about memoir. I didn't read it, but I read an additional essay by Dorothy Allison and I liked that, so I always kept the book. In retrospect that was my best class that term. My sister is at the same point in college now, so it seemed fitting to work this one out finally. When I finally opened the book I discovered a receipt for its purchase tucked inside, from a Brentano's in Connecticut in December 1995, along with the ISBN's for Jane Smiley's Duplicate Keys and Tim O'Brien's In the Lake of the Woods, $50 cash.
This book falls squarely into the category of things I avoided because I worried there wasn't time, that turn out to take no time at all. It's so slight, which surprised me the whole time until I got to the last page where the author notes that it was written as a performance piece and modified for publication. The prose is so fluidly voiced, but it seems somewhat unreal that it could be performed aloud. Though, that might explain why the framing device of the title looks a little hokey on the page, which is too bad because most of the rest of it is vivid and warm.
Sometimes the lesson of my bookshelf is to stop waiting.(less)