Not as good as the first Cinderella volume, but still more fun than most Fable volumes these days. I am disappointed that the timeline in this spin-ofNot as good as the first Cinderella volume, but still more fun than most Fable volumes these days. I am disappointed that the timeline in this spin-off series has moved to post-Fabletown destruction (the first Cinderella graphic novel took place in pre-destruction Fabletown). I really feel like that the destruction of Fabletown is where the series lost itself.
Within this volume itself, the jump between the timelines (1980s & the Fabletown "present") was very confusing and not well done. I guess I need some kind of different shading or something to make it clear.
As for the Big Bad of this volume - (view spoiler)[Dorothy as a super evil super spy/assassin is interesting. Even though it does feel a little that they chose Dorothy more for the shock value than anything. I like it better when the Fable character is derived from a grain of the fairytale character – giving dimensions to an otherwise flat creature, instead of making it up wholesale. (hide spoiler)]...more
An enjoyable middle grade action book aimed probably more at the boy crowd - so good for fans of Percy Jackson. This is an imagining of the childhoodAn enjoyable middle grade action book aimed probably more at the boy crowd - so good for fans of Percy Jackson. This is an imagining of the childhood of the future Dr. Frankenstein. In this he is a teenager of a wealthy (and ridiculously modern/liberal) Swiss family, stuck in a love triangle and beginning to be seduced by the practice of alchemy.
Victor Frakenstein loves his twin brother Konrad, but is also incredibly jealous of him. Victor decides he is in love with Elizabeth - a girl he and Konrad grew up with - most likely because Konrad is in love with her. Victor has a huge complex about his brother being "better" than him, and Elizabeth is just one more toy that Konrad has that Victor is jealous of. When Konrad falls mysteriously ill (with...leukemia? maybe?), Victor puts his faith in alchemy to save him. The lengths Victor will go to save his brother and the dark path this puts him on is interesting.
I spent the beginning bewildered. The book jumps around chronologically and narratively. I was trying to think of a ciThis book caught me by surprise.
I spent the beginning bewildered. The book jumps around chronologically and narratively. I was trying to think of a circus-appropriate analogy but it's late and I can't think of one, so insert your own here. This kind of jump-into-this-story-and-world-head-first approach is familiar to fans of China Miéville. Just accept that for the first fifty pages or so you'll be confused - it's like a foreign language, where you stop struggling to understand every word and just let it wash over you so you can catch the mood and overall idea. It's worth it, I assure you.
This book is mostly set in a post-apocalyptic circus. The Circus Tresaulti travels through a broken world, destroyed by war and run by petty tyrants. The world itself is never really explained - is this a future Earth? An alterna-Earth? A fantasy world? It could be any of those and Valentine doesn't deign to explain it. The circus is sharp and clear and the world outside is left fuzzy and incomprehensible.
The Circus Tresaulti contains fantastic performers - both regular humans and those have been altered by the circus master, "Boss." Boss has the ability to basically make people into Wolverine from X-Men. She can replace their bones with copper tubes to make them lighter and more durable or graft bone-and-metal wings to their backs. This procedure kills the performers but Boss also has the talent to bring them back to life. How exactly Boss got this skill and whether anyone else developed powers is also left unclear. There are a lot of unanswered questions in this book, which would drive me mad if I wasn't so wrapped up in the bigger story.
And the bigger story to me isn't Boss and the circus or the government man with his plans to turn the performers into super soldiers. No, for me, it's Elena and Bird and Stenos and the doomed Alec. These haunted, broken characters and their tangled lives is what made me fall in love with this book.
Alec is already dead before the book begins - he is the Winged Man, driven mad by the gift his lover (Boss) gave him. Stenos and Bird are competitors for these same wings - Stenos for the glory and Bird for the freedom. Elena is at the center of it all - she shared a deep, sibling-like bond with Alec, she is Stenos' lover and she purposefully dropped Bird during a performance. She is a complicated mess who Little George - a young "normal" who serves as the circus' barker and who is one of the main narrators - views as a cold-hearted bitch. I love her. She is ruthless, merciless, tough, fierce and, yes, cold and often cruel. She will hurt someone to save them. She is not a very likeable person - and I'm not sure if anyone outside of Alec actually has ever liked her - but in the end she will do what is necessary to save others. She is not truly as emotionless as she comes across. She is silently heartbroken over Alec's death and she honestly does seem to love Stenos - even if it's maybe not the healthiest relationship. Stenos and Bird are equally fascinating in their brokenness and the fact that, at least for Stenos, his stated desire (the wings) conflicts with his secret desire (Bird). Of course, he doesn't seem to admit even to himself that what he really loves in the end is his rival, but actions speak louder than words and Valentine is satisfied in not explicitly explaining things but instead letting the reader draw his own conclusions from the characters' actions.
This book is worth skimming through from beginning to end again after finishing - so much that was unclear becomes brilliant after having all the information.
And it helps a lot that Valentine is an absolutely gorgeous writer. Other reviewers have compared this to a long poem, and that's not far off. It's hard to find books where the writing itself is so beautiful that you just want to roll it around your tongue and taste it.
I think that the description on the back is way-off and makes this seem like a rip-off of The Night Circus (which came out the same year). This is really not about "two of Tresaulti's performers [who] are trapped in a secret stand-off that threatens to tear the circus apart." I assume that's referring to Bird and Stenos and, really, their stand-off is not secret at all and the book is not focused on the two of them. Their relationship is an important part, but Elena and Little George also play big roles in what happens.
This book isn't going to be for everyone, but the writing and the characters make this a memorable book for me....more
Despite remaining an irredeemable prick, Quentin Coldwater has grown on me. He’s that co-worker/fellow student/cousin/some other not-close but repetitDespite remaining an irredeemable prick, Quentin Coldwater has grown on me. He’s that co-worker/fellow student/cousin/some other not-close but repetitive contact person who you hate for all the right reasons at the beginning, but who after a while you view with affectionate exasperation. Oh, that’s just Quentin being Quentin! you think. He may be a douche, but he’s OUR douche! Don’t worry, you’ll get used to him after a while.
It’s not that Quentin himself has gotten any better, but knowing what to expect (and not expecting any improvement) I tolerate his stupidity instead of getting infuriated at it. I think that there may be something wrong with me that I find such a self-important dick and pathetic excuse for a human being oddly...endearing (in a poorly-behaved puppy kind of way).
Quentin & Co. are the Kings and Queens of Fillory in this book AND THEY ARE TERRIBLE (as expected). If it's true that you get the government you deserve, then the people of Fillory must be miserable, pathetic people. I was not surprised at all that someone was trying to assassinate Quentin & Co. I kept hoping they'd succeed. YOU CAN DO IT!! I BELIEVE IN YOU PEOPLE OF FILLORY!! How is there not a revolution in Fillory??? Quentin & Co. are just super lucky that Fillory is a paradise with a perfect self-sustaining economy. God help them if there is ever a food shortage. Quentin likes to pretend that he “tried” to manage his country but then found out it worked without him – which is just an excuse to hunt all the time and lay around whining about how hard life is and, God, he just has so much ennui. The British Royal Family does not have direct ruling powers and yet they manage to productively spend their time with royal duties (it is called DOING SOMETHING FOR OTHERS Quentin! Charity! Getting to know your people! Hosting important figures!).
Poor Penny still gets the short shrift because Quentin cannot stand to be confronted by someone actually better than him – so he lies to himself and pretends the other guy isn’t that cool anyway. This also comes into play with Julia, who gets punished for her hubris hardcore, while Quentin has never had a proper comeuppance.
Below are some of my favorite quotes that illustrate exactly how much of a douchenozzle Quentin is:
“Quentin exercised his royal perogatives and press-ganged all the best shipwrights in the city” (because he is such a selfish asshole, he sees nothing wrong with making the shipwrights drop everything and work on his stupid ship for the stupid quest he just decided to do because he is BORED. Can I say again - HE IS AN AWFUL KING.)
“Of course Penny took this in stride. He would never be so uncool as to give Quentin credit for saving the universe or anything” (THIS IS LIKE EXHIBIT A OF HOW MUCH OF AN ASSHAT QUENTIN IS. Quentin did jackshit in the last book besides very possibly getting other people killed. So, no, Quentin, no one should give you credit for anything. Except credit for being the Best Douchebag. That one’s all yours).
Quentin: "Jesus! Penny, you are unbelieveable! Literally unbelievable! You know, I actually thought you’d changed, I really did. Do you even get that this isn’t about you?" Penny: "Not about me? Spare me that, Quentin. You haven’t spared me much during our long acquaintance, but spare me that. I found the Neitherlands. I found the button. I took us to Fillory. You didn’t do all that, Quentin, I did." (YOU TELL HIM PENNY!!! In any normal book, Penny would be the hero of the story. But this is an upside-down-topsy-turvy-opposite-day-is-everyday kind of world and that means Quentin Should-Be-The-Villain Coldwater is the “hero.”)
Of course, being the masochist I am, I'm gleefully anticipating Book 3. Quentin is just so awful I have this weird compulsion to read more about him. It's like reading celeb gossip for news about the trainwreck that is Lindsay Lohan or watching those crazy Housewives behaving badly. ...more
Classic fluff - breezy and pleasant read that can be finished in a few hours.
At first I was not a fan of Brooke at all. I mean, she moved to New YorkClassic fluff - breezy and pleasant read that can be finished in a few hours.
At first I was not a fan of Brooke at all. I mean, she moved to New York City for a guy she barely knew but was convinced was The One. I thought it was stupid for Felicity and I think it’s stupid now. Yes, moving to NYC ended up being exactly what she needed. But her reasoning was INSANE and although part of her knew it was crazy most of the time she didn't really see anything wrong with it – and everyone was like “oh, how romantic!” That is not romantic. That is creepy and stalky.
Brooke seems to be pretty constantly selfish and short-sighted. She left both her best friends during senior year for a boy who barely knew she existed and then managed to lose touch with both of them. She seemed to have just grown apart from April (best friend #1), which I get happens and Brooke did change a lot. But it's still sad and weird that she basically just overrode her old life with her new life in NYC. AND she never made up with Candace (best friend #2), who was angry that Brooke was going after the guy she liked – which is such a high school conflict. On the one hand, I totally get what Candace is driving at. On the other, Scott had already turned her down AND he had moved away. She wasn’t going to succeed. Even though I guess your best friend becoming a crazy stalker moving to another city for the boy you have a crush on would probably piss you off anyway. It just seems weird that Brooke can just so easily lose her two best friends and then pretty much brush it off because she has new best friends now.
I did find it super interesting that Brooke turned out to be a secret genius – like, an actual genius. She downplayed her smarts a lot because she didn’t want to stick out as different. So she just kind of tuned out everyone saying they were disappointed in her and kept her head down. That added a really interesting dimension to Brooke – she was more than just some silly girl following her crush. And I’m GLAD that John and April also called her out on this and how it was so stupid for her to be wasting her potential. Also the origami thing was a nice quirk.
And Brooke became a little less self-centered and angry by the end (even though she still has a lot of growing up to do). I’m not sure how I feel about John – he was a little manic and maybe even a touch manic pixie dream girl (LET’S GO OUTSIDE! AND EXPLORE!! LET US TALK ABOUT WATER TANKS!! All the kid needed was a ukulele). But I think he had his moments and he was a nice contrast to Cool Guy Scott.
P.S. What’s with the author acting like Scott and Brooke are the only two people who ever watch The Office? Don’t know what high school kids watch these days, but it’s not like The Office is some indie show. It was a super popular comedy and this book came out in 2011 – way after The Office peaked (so people should be familiar with it). ...more
Vampire Academy was one of my favorite guilty pleasures, but I felt it went tumbling downhill by the end of the series. Given the decline, I was in noVampire Academy was one of my favorite guilty pleasures, but I felt it went tumbling downhill by the end of the series. Given the decline, I was in no rush to read its companion series, Bloodlines.
Bloodlines is not quite as delicious as Vampire Academy, but it has some of the same charm. Alchemist Sydney (a minor character from the Vampire Academy series), is assigned to be the bodyguard of Jill, the Moroi Queen's sister. Of course, to do this Sydney has to attend a human boarding school and pretend to be normal. Even better, Sydney's love interest turns out to be Adrian, the losing point of the first series' love triangle. Adrian is still moping over Rose Hathaway, but Sydney may be an even better fit. Mead knows what her readers like: boarding schools, cool fight scenes, snarky humor, and Adrian. ...more