I finished reading Under the Dome about a month ago and had so many thoughts and comments that I wasn’t able to write a review that made sense. Now, tI finished reading Under the Dome about a month ago and had so many thoughts and comments that I wasn’t able to write a review that made sense. Now, the Domealong event has come and gone, and it it finally time I put fingers to keyboard to make sense of all this. I decided to do it in simplicity with general themes, rather than sharing every single thought I had when reading the book – and with 1074 pages to read, there were a lot of thoughts!
I was pleasantly surprised with my reading. I had heard comparisons of Under the Dome to The Stand, and I can see why (though The Stand remains my favorite of the two). The cast of characters is huge and King writes even the smallest ones with many layers of complexity. I’ve always thought that one of King’s strengths, as a writer, were the characters, and Under the Dome is no exception.
While I was completely taken by the characters and anxious about the story, I felt immensely let down by the ending. The book was a clear 5 stars novel until I reached the end, but the way the Dome was finally explained felt like an afterthought, like the author suddenly remembered “Hey, I should probably find an explanation for that thing”. I wanted something that would blow my mind, but it didn’t. Sigh. Also, too many dead dogs. Can’t you keep a pet alive for once, Mr. King?
What I take away the most though, and this is a constant theme is Stephen King’s work, is the nuances of good and evil depicted in the story. There are some horrible characters in there, but my reactions to them weren’t the same. For instance, there was something extremely miserable about Junior and the main reason he was acting the way he did, and while it would never excuse anything (I don’t think something this horrible could eve be excused!), I didn’t hate him as much as his father, who made his crimes with much more calculation. I also wondered; would Junior be the same, or act the same if it wasn’t for what pushed him over the edge? With a father like Big Jim, and the relationship he had with him, I tend to think that he probably would.
More interestingly, King explores different shades of good and evil not only in his characters, but also in the reader. Through all the violence, it’s easy to position ourselves as good people, thinking we would act differently; yet there was one scene where I found myself having very little sympathy for a character suffering from a very violent event (for those who read the book, I’m talking of the supermarket scene; I think you’ll know who I am hinting at here!) It really made me question myself, and my reaction to this violence. It’s easy, it seems, to cheer on violent acts when the villains are being punished, yet that was an extremely uncomfortable moment for me.
All in all, despite a very weak ending, I really enjoyed Under the Dome. Unlike its TV incarnation, it was a vivid story of humanity, of good versus evil, of deep and complex characters struggling to stay alive. I’m not sure which King novel I’ll be reading next, but I know this certainly wasn’t the last!
(on a side note, I love love love, that cover; it’s so perfect, I couldn’t imagine a better one)...more
I feel like I have been doing some complaining even in my positive reviews lately, but I have to say : I feel like Michael Grant’s Gone series needs tI feel like I have been doing some complaining even in my positive reviews lately, but I have to say : I feel like Michael Grant’s Gone series needs to end soon. Sure, Fear was fun, scary at times, complex with characters. But even though the book had a lot going on, I felt a bit bit tired of it all. I am ready for the big reveal, the conclusion that will give us final answers and let the characters at peace, finally.
Fear innovates from the previous books with a very particular twist that I think most fans of the series will enjoy : finally, we are taken outside the dome, and we get to see what is/might be happening. We meet knew characters, but we also get a better understanding of what is going on. This certainly kept me reading, along with the strong story line.
For me, Michael Grant really is the “Stephen King for teens”. Like the king, it is not his writing that makes his books so captivating; it’s the constant action, unpredictable twists and fantastically complex characters. Astrid is, from my point of view, the one who changed the most since the start of the story. In Fear, she seemed to have a new understanding of herself, but also of what their lives have become since the adults disappeared. She sure has been annoying at times, but as a reader, her adventure was one of the most rewarding.
As the series go on, it becomes more and more difficult to review the books without spoiling anything, but here is what I can say : Grant excels at making the story new with every book, rather than using again and again the same plot devices. It’s a thrill! But in some places, I did feel that the book was dragging a little. And this is why, while I would still recommend the series, I can’t say I’m feeling the love for it right now. But I’ll certainly be reading Light, which should finally conclude this epic journeu! And I just know Grant will have more surprises in store for his readers....more
When I first heard about Courtney Summers writing a zombie novel, I was quite surprised and, I will admit, not too optimistic. It is not that I believWhen I first heard about Courtney Summers writing a zombie novel, I was quite surprised and, I will admit, not too optimistic. It is not that I believe authors should be confined to their own little niche, on the contrary; simply put, I am glad authors have the courage to try new things, but having them step out of their comfort zone hasn't always lead to success. So, as I started reading This is not a Test, I was keeping my expectations on the low.
Fortunately, I didn't need to. This is not a Test was exactly what you would expect from a novel by Courtney Summers (introspection, grim setting, complex characters, depth) with a touch of zombies on the side. This isn't a gore story : though there are a few unpleasant scenes of the type, they merely serve to underline the harshness of Sloane's new world. Readers coming it expecting action scenes, bloody descriptions and life-or-death pursuits will probably be disappointed. Like in Summers' other previous novels, there is very little happening on the outside : it's all about what is going on in Sloane's head, and to a certain degree, in the other characters' heads while they try to survive, too. But while we are talking about heads, you should know this isn't really a book about eating brains.
Since I love both zombie books and Summers' prose, the meeting of the two was everything I could have hoped for! Sloane was a difficult character, but as with most of the author's main characters, I don't think she was someone we are supposed to connect with easily. She was so tortured and lost, not always pleasant, often difficult to understand: it was difficult to imagine there was anything hopeful waiting for her.
The characters surrounding her were interesting, and different enough. I did feel they were a tiny bit stereotyped at first, but as we get to know more about them and what they went through, they become too complex to really categorize.
As for Sloane's personal story, I thought it was very well done, too. She was clearly chained to her past, and it was really difficult to see her place so much hope with her sister. It's a sad story, and a sad book. If you've read Courtney Summers before, you'll know not to expect rainbows and unicorns; and yet, I am always surprised by the depth of her characters' despair. It rings true, too. It wasn't a book I was able to read in one sitting, mainly because the emotional aspect of it is so heavy.
In the end, I only have praise for this book. I am glad that This is not a Test didn't turn into my first negative review of a Courtney Summers novel. And while the supernatural touch added something a little different from her previous books, it still had all of the qualities I have come to expect from her talented voice. It's going to be a long wait until we get to read her new novel in 2014!...more
I started reading Anna Dressed in Blood with a lot of expectations; most reviews said the book was horrifically great, keeping one up at night with viI started reading Anna Dressed in Blood with a lot of expectations; most reviews said the book was horrifically great, keeping one up at night with visions of terror, chilling your blood while you turned the pages. It had been a while since I read a good, terrifying ghost story and so I was excited to maybe have found one.
As I turned the pages, I could see why so many readers had loved it and had found it chilling; the setting is dark, Anna is creepy and Cas' story has its own unsettling elements. And yet, I can't say that the horror aspect had me shivering and turning on the lights in the night; there was something too quick in the way the story unveiled itself, and a few moments with gore that, while yucky, didn't scare me. For ghost stories to work well on me, the pacing has to be slow and the ghostly elements have to be revealed in small drops; I need atmosphere more than I need bloody scenes to be scared, and while the author definitely created a sinister atmosphere, it was just a tad short of raising the hair on my arms (but very close, though!)
That's not to say I didn't enjoy Anna Dressed in Blood. It was, in fact, a really good ghost story. Anna wasn't your ordinary ghost, and her relationship with Cas was strange to say the least. As Cas discovers more and more about Anna and her past, his curiosity almost seems to turn to obsession, and for a while, I wasn't sure if the author wanted it to be a relationship of love or of haunting and possession. I liked where it went and how it ended, but you'll have to read it to find out, as I am not about to spoil it for you! And as for Anna's personal story, oh my! That was horrible, and far darker than I would have imagined. The poor girl, you can only feel for her.
So I really liked the story, and it was refreshing to have a male as a main character. For someone with such an extraordinary profession, Cas really felt like an ordinary teenager. He was a bit full of himself at times, but I kind of liked that (you know I don't like my characters being too clean and too perfect!). I do wish the author had spent a little more time on the characters of Carmel and Thomas; they felt a little unpolished, but since there is a sequel coming soon, I don't mind it too much. 316 pages in big font isn't very long to put in place a scary ghost story, and I think the author did great by focusing on Cas and Anna rather than on the secondary characters.
My verdict; I really enjoyed Anna Dressed in Blood and I am so looking forward to the next book. It's definitely a different and stronger ghost story than most YA novels; it will keep you hooked with its intriguing premise, and maybe even give you a scare or two....more
I’ll admit it; I got myself a copy of Something Strange and Deadly for the pretty cover and the promise of steampunk zombies, but I wasn’t expecting tI’ll admit it; I got myself a copy of Something Strange and Deadly for the pretty cover and the promise of steampunk zombies, but I wasn’t expecting to be enjoying it as much as I did!
Probably because I was expecting it to be the main focus of the novel (as is often the case in YA paranormal novels), my biggest surprise was how little romance we actually see in the book. There’s no love at first sight, no continuous daydreaming about the gorgeous boy, no constant scenes of kissing and flirting. Instead, the romance sets in naturally, slowly, and ends up on a question rather than a blatant answer, which I found immensely refreshing! It left me wanting more, in a good way.
Another pleasant surprise was how true the historical setting felt. Through her detailing of fashion, architecture but also social characteristics, the author transported me to another time, another place. For a paranormal novel, I felt much more like I was reading an historical fiction one; the Dead and the steampunk elements were very present, but in a very subtle, realistic manner. It felt to me that the author achieved a great balance between history and imaginary.
I also greatly appreciated the characters, the good ones like the less good ones. There was a great variety, and I felt that even the ones we saw less of had some depth. I was intrigued by them all, but also to see how they interacted with each other. The Spirit-Hunters definitely won in the likability department though! I loved their chemistry together, and I would have spent a whole novel with them! As for Eleanor, I couldn’t ask more from a main character : she was fierce, curious, intelligent, independent, all qualities that do cause her some more troubles of course!
The writing was fluid and, with the constant action and mystery, kept me reading until the end. I do think the conclusion was very obvious, and I would have loved for it to have a bit more complexity; but in the end I was left satisfied, with just a few more hooks to bring me back for the next book!
It’s a great day when a book you expected ordinary turns out to be anything but; Something Strange and Deadly was just the entertainment I needed and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to other fans of historical fiction, zombies and parasols!...more
This is the most difficult kind of review to write : I didn’t love the book, but I didn’t hate it either. It falls somewhere in the middle, in that veThis is the most difficult kind of review to write : I didn’t love the book, but I didn’t hate it either. It falls somewhere in the middle, in that very grey zone that is difficult to define. And it seems that I am almost alone in my zone, since most of my Goodreads friends gave it 3 stars and up.
I think the best way to describe my feelings toward the book was : indifference. I never connected to Sherry. I felt everything went too fast, and that I never really got to know her. Even the glimpses from her previous life didn’t give me much about her, or her family. I wish Joshua would have brought some life into it, but even there, I didn’t feel the chemistry between him and Sherry. Or his family. The whole thing, I felt, lacked depth.
And then, there was Sherry’s constant counting. I understood what the author tried to do with it, I just didn’t think it worked really well. Plus, I really didn’t care that it had been x numbers of days since she last ate an apple. Or pasta. Or used shampoo.
There was a good pace to the story though, and the book is a really quick read. Readers who don’t like to stay in one place too long, or who prefer action to description, will probably enjoy this one. I also appreciated that the Wheepers weren’t exactly zombies, but mutants. Similar, yes, but the little differences were what gave originality to the story.
I can’t recommend or not recommend this book, as I just didn’t connect to it. I won’t be reading the next one – which is almost a relief, since I have so many series I’m following already! – but I hope other readers will appreciate this one more than I did....more
I had read both Justine Larbalestier and Sarah Rees Brennan only once before reading Team Human, and that was enough for me to know that I had to readI had read both Justine Larbalestier and Sarah Rees Brennan only once before reading Team Human, and that was enough for me to know that I had to read this one, even though the summary made it sound just like any other vampire books. Good on me for following my instincts, as Team Human turned out to be one of the most fun books I read this year!
I’ve always loved vampire stories, and though I prefer them with a little more bite, I am not opposed to having them portrayed as mostly pacific creatures. This is the case here: vampires are out in the open, and you can become one if you find yourself a mentor and go through some governmental procedures. Chances are you’ll be alright, but there is still 10% chances (if I remember correctly) that you’ll either die or become a zombie – which is only another word for death, really.
If you add to this a narrator like Mel, who is loyal to her friends and tells her story with great humor, it’s a win! It wasn’t a hysterical, laugh-out-lout kind of funny, but it kept a smile on my face pretty much from start to finish. Mel had just the right witty tone, not trying too hard, not too sarcastic. She was funny, and her humor was an important part of the book in more ways than once.
Not only did I get a fun story about vampires, I also got a very human story about friendship, loyalty and respect. The book is not preachy at all, but the feelings Mel has towards the vampires once they get too close to the ones she loves are extremely realistic and easy to relate too. Her questions are those most of us would have in a similar situation I believe, and the fact that she was so determined to protect her friends was admirable.
With a charming romance, a great cast of characters and an interesting story, Team Human is a satire I absolutely adored. To quote Maureen Johnson’s blurb on the cover :
[...] if you love vampire books, this is the book for you – if you hate vampire books, this is also the book for you.
What a fabulous team these two authors made together! If you are looking for something paranormal and light, with charm and mystery, I can confirm that Team Human has all of that and even a little more!...more
The Stand is an epic novel. Not only because of its length, but because of its multitude of epic characters, a powerful fight between light and dark aThe Stand is an epic novel. Not only because of its length, but because of its multitude of epic characters, a powerful fight between light and dark and a story that spans on quite a while, with consequences that will forever impact the people left in this devastated world. It’s a journey, really, and a captivating one. I went into it planning on taking breaks, reading other books, but I didn’t : I had to know what would happen next.
There are too many characters to count in this story, so I’ll do this quick : I loved Nick, he was probably my favorite character. There are no polite words to describe what I would like to do to Harold, who I hated even more than Randall Flagg (I hate people who think they are owed a relationship just because they were standing there first, and then act on revenge!)
I really liked Franny at the beginning, but she got a little silly along the story, as she kept for herself important information and worries. This saddened me, mainly because The Stand is a world of men. There are too few female character who do anything else than sitting there and being protected. Mother Abigail has a strong presence, but she’s weak and old; Franny has personality at the start, but her pregnancy soon keeps her from any adventure. Nadine goes crazy. There are a few female characters who take important decisions or have important impact in the story, but they are often very secondary. I’m thinking of Dayna in particular; I would have loved to hear more about her journey, but it’s mostly left to the imagination.
This being said, King has a talent for writing flawed characters that feel very real. Love them or hate them, they are described with a complexity that makes them very realistic. They struggle with decisions, carry heavy pasts on their shoulders, and seeing them change as the story goes was one of my favorite aspect of the novel.
Was The Stand scary? Meh. Maybe a little, but it is not written as a horror story. There are difficult scenes to read, yes, but I have read worse in historical fiction or fantasy novels where heroes go to war against great evil. The most horrifying part for me was how realistic this felt. I kept wondering what I would do if such a thing happened, where I would go, what if no one I knew survived, etc. Scary thoughts!
Side note : when we get a dog, I really want to name him Kojak! Most fabulous dog in the world, he certainly was one of my favorite characters!
The Stand is a long metaphor for the battle between good and evil: it’s in the characters’ personal journey and in their every decisions, it’s at the heart of the story, it is even embodied by two captivating characters. Was it too long of a metaphor? Probably. I enjoyed it, and I wasn’t bored with it, but I felt the book could easily have left out some parts. (I was, after all, reading the uncut version, so it’s not surprising that I found the whole thing to be on the long side!)
I had watched The Stand TV series years ago, when I was a teen, and I remembered very little of it. Not a bad thing though; it allowed me to really discover the book as I read it, and after rewatching the series some weeks ago, I can say that the book is FAR superior to it.
Reading The Stand was a great experience and it made me want to read more books from Stephen King, who used to be a favorite when I was younger. Reading it with other readers and bloggers and tweeting about it made it an even more fun experience!...more
I know the reviews for Girl of Nightmares have been mostly raving ones. Many readers said it was even better than the first book, Anna Dressed in BlooI know the reviews for Girl of Nightmares have been mostly raving ones. Many readers said it was even better than the first book, Anna Dressed in Blood. Therefore, I went in with some expectations, and I am not sure they were met – even though it was a deeply captivating, creepy read. It’s true that I read it over a longer period of time than I usually do for books of this length (about 3 weeks), and that I read it in a really busy time of my life; it might have dimmed my enjoyment of the book slightly.
This being said, I still had a good time and would read more by Kendare Blake in a heartbeat. Girl of Nightmares is as creepy as its predecessor.
Scratch that; Girl of Nightmares is even more creepy than its predecessor!
Which is a good thing if, like me, you enjoy dark, twisted and eerie environments (in books – in real life, I prefer my hallways very, very well lit).
Blake really excels at creating a dark, oppressing atmosphere without losing sight of the characters’ intentions or the plot. She lightens the scenes with dark humor, and makes her characters even more complex than before. It’s not often in YA paranormal fiction that I feel the characters are realistic, but Cas, Thomas and Carmel all felt very real to me.
I thought the story had a bit of an uneven pace, but it was intriguing. I wasn’t sure what would come out of Cas and his friends’ adventure. Once they were on the other side of the ocean, it was much more entertaining to me. It felt good to meet new characters, and to see what was happening in the ghost-hunting world somewhere else than in America.
I felt the conclusion was just right. Anna is only a two books series, which gave the story enough place to develop, without too many lulls or unnecessary secondary plots. When it finally ended, it had just enough emotion, horror and surprises. It was both expected and unexpected, which is the best kind of ending.
In the end, even though Anna didn’t blow me away, I would not hesitate to recommend it to fans of horror, ghosts and dark humor. Blake certainly is a talented writer who knows how to take the readers on an incredibly creepy journey!...more
This won’t be a typical review; this can’t be a typical review.
A Monster Calls was one of the most powerful things I have read in the last couple yearThis won’t be a typical review; this can’t be a typical review.
A Monster Calls was one of the most powerful things I have read in the last couple years. I reached the end knowing what would happen, and yet I cried, with real tears and snotty nose and all that pretty stuff. I didn’t care, though; I was mostly too surprised by my own reaction, too amazed by Patrick Ness’ very evocative writing.
The book presents itself as a middle grade horror story, but it is so much more. It’s a story about love, and loss, and the failures of being human, the complexity of grief and life. The horror is very real, more than the monster, and Jim Kay’s dark and compelling illustrations complement the sorrowful atmosphere of the book.
I can’t say anything negative or even too positive about a book that made me feel such powerful emotions, that made me feel so strongly alive. All I can say is : read it....more