I think I get what Monette was trying to do here, and it's an interesting idea, trying to blend some serious subjects like child abuse and rape into tI think I get what Monette was trying to do here, and it's an interesting idea, trying to blend some serious subjects like child abuse and rape into the familiar fantasy story line of the child thief. She adds diversity to fantasy with a homosexual lead. All of that is admirable. I don't like writing bad reviews of well-intentioned books, but this is such a wallow. I should have trusted my bad reaction to the cheesy cover, but I'd seen too many good reviews.
Oh, the execution! Monette flips between the two narrators way too often, every two pages or so, and it prevents the story from ever working up steam. The story is repetitious. Add in far too many dream and hallucination sequences, a muddled system of magic, and worldbuilding with lots of distracting, arbitrary elements and this is a mess. It was so slow, I wanted to quit, and probably should have, but it was just good enough that I kept thinking there might be a light at the end of the tunnel.
Felix and Mildmay should be strong characters, but to me they come off as kind of same-ish, even though one speaks with a street argot and the other is supposed to be insane for most of the book. The minor characters are vague and hard to distinguish between. And where were the women? In the end this reads like a blend of fantasy and one of those ghastly, self-hating, self-exploiting, confessional child abuse memoirs. When it's all over, you're really only at the beginning of a story, and my best guess would be that in the next book we're going to do the same thing again, this time exploring more of Mildmay's history of abuse instead of Felix's. No thanks....more
As the Vorkosigan Saga turns from the parents to the child, Bujold is in top form. This novel is just pure unadulterated adventure from start to finisAs the Vorkosigan Saga turns from the parents to the child, Bujold is in top form. This novel is just pure unadulterated adventure from start to finish. Miles Vorkosigan is eminently likable, a kid with brittle bones but a quick mind and almost manic personality. When his physical problems prevent him from getting into the military academy on Barrayar, he turns a trip to his grandmother's on Beta, a trip that is intended to distract him from his woes, into an ever-escalating adventure. Starting with his effort to talk a distraught and alcoholic wormhole jump pilot down from destroying his decommissioned ship, Miles follows one challenge to another. By book's end, he's the leader of a major mercenary space fleet, but what's so much fun is the way that he gets there. OK, it defies realism a bit, but it's a joy ride of a read.
There's pathos too, as Miles's bodyguard Bothari is torn between his monstrous past and his hopes for Miles and his daughter Elena (and his ongoing attempt to be redeemed by his care for the two of them.)
If more science fiction were written like this, with great characterization, fun, easy-to-follow but coherent plotting, integration of social issues, a flare for adventure, and a dollop of romance, then more people would read the genre. Why hasn't somebody made this series into films?...more
A transitional volume in the Fables cycle. I enjoyed the stories of Snow's new children and Prince Charming's unsuccessful transition into the mayor'sA transitional volume in the Fables cycle. I enjoyed the stories of Snow's new children and Prince Charming's unsuccessful transition into the mayor's office, but the Bigby Wolf in WWII diversion didn't do anything for me....more
The chatty tone that worked well in Goldman's first book about screenwriting, Adventures in the Screen Trade, comes off more as lazy, unrevised writinThe chatty tone that worked well in Goldman's first book about screenwriting, Adventures in the Screen Trade, comes off more as lazy, unrevised writing here. Goldman is a great screenwriter and an entertaining raconteur, but he doesn't seem to have enough new material to justify this book (which is too bad, I'd love to here more about The Princess Bride, but there isn't all that much here on it)....more
I'm very conflicted about this book. The end is a mess, with many plot lines resolved awkwardly in a long-winded epilogue and some plot lines not resoI'm very conflicted about this book. The end is a mess, with many plot lines resolved awkwardly in a long-winded epilogue and some plot lines not resolved much at all. The book, at least its narrator (although I would argue more than its narrator), is sexist, with females consistently represented as dysfunctional and mostly there for the sexual pleasure of males. I would argue as well that its view of teenage society goes too far. Don't get me wrong, I think the average high school is a messed up place, with plenty of everything Portman describes, but the schools I've known were not quite so saturated with drug use, empty sex, horrible teaching, and bullying. The mystery elements in the book, while interesting for a while, eventually collapse in a muddle. I even have to take Portman to task for the musical tastes he assigns his lead character, as they seem closer to that of a forty-year-old long-time music fan than a teenager.
All of that said, I still recommend this book heartily because of the strong and unusual voice of its lead character. Thomas "ChiMo" Henderson is a magnificent creation, a Holden Caulfield (which is funny, because he despises Catcher in the Rye and the cult surrounding it) for a new generation. He's the ultimate teenage boy, often elegant and stammering in the same sentence, exaggerating his emotions, feeling adversarial toward everyone, even his best friend, and always, always thinking of sex. His voice is so believable that it will make you forget some of the other problems with the book. It's also just plain funny.
I heartily recommend this book, particularly to men and teen boys, particularly if they thought or think of themselves as even slightly geeky. Although some of it doesn't really work, I'll remember other parts of this book for a long time....more