The first time I read this, I thought "Awwww, what a cute story about a fox and a chicken who become friends...How swA Case of the Stockholm Syndrome:
The first time I read this, I thought "Awwww, what a cute story about a fox and a chicken who become friends...How sweet." Then I read it again. After the third time, I realized something just didn't seem right. Wait a minute here...This isn't a story about a fox befriending a chicken, this is a story about a hostage who befriends her captor!
So without any words, this is a story about a fox who kidnaps a chicken, is chased by the chicken's friends...and somewhere along the chase, the chicken begins to play chess, wear sunglasses, and relax with the fox. I can only assume chicken had a psychological melt-down and empathized with the "misunderstood" kidnapper fox.
For a wordless picture book that clearly describes the Stockholm Syndrome, this author is pure genius. For a wordless picture book for children, you may want to think ahead on how you'll be telling the story.
I really really wanted to like this one: Mind Games, Visions, Sleepwalking, A Boarding School, A Mystery, A Dark and HandsomAs seen on Zombie Mommies.
I really really wanted to like this one: Mind Games, Visions, Sleepwalking, A Boarding School, A Mystery, A Dark and Handsome Mysterious Boy? All the perfect ingredients for a great story...
...that fell flat like a homemade souffle.
The main problem with Harbinger were too many lose ends. With thrillers, I am completely prepared for unanswered questions that compel me to turn the page, eager to find the answer. But with this one, when i finally got to the end, all the lose ends just became a jumbled mess.
*****I am sorry but this is going to contain major spoilers.*****
In the beginning, Faye gets dropped off (against her will) at Holbrook, which is basically a school for wayward kids. The world has been destroyed and people live in "cooperatives" (which is never really explained; plus, what happens in the story could've just taken place without that). Faye has visions of drowning which began when she was a child but her episodes are getting worse. Then at Holbrook, she begins to hear drums and mysterious thingshappen.
The Holbrook Director, Dr. Mordoch plays mind games with the group in order to ensure cooperation: solitary confinement, privileges taken away, etc...Plus, there are pepper-spraying, taser-loving caretakers. Faye meets a host of characters who bond together like "Survivor Island" against Dr. Mordoch. There's even a ghost. The friends find themselves supposedly sleepwalking and in the morning, their hands are red and there are drawings on the floor.
So of course, I have to know what happens...and in the end, the only things I can gather are: 1) A long time ago, there were a group of people who had power over the earth and had a special meteorite seer stone. (Yes, a meteorite, and I have no idea where they got their power from.) 2) They saw that the earth was going to go to waste in the future so the members transferred their spirit to some relics that were buried. (So they could save the world in the future.) 3) When Faye touched the ocean when she was a child, one of the spirits transferred into her body causing her the visions. (I have no idea how the spirit attached itself to the ocean and what happened to the original Faye.) 4) Dr. Mordoch was being haunted by one of the original tribal spirits. Rita (the ghost/tribal spirit) leaves clues for Faye in the form of a prophecy on Tarot cards. 5) Faye begins to realize her visions as images of the past. 6) Faye, who originally wanted to 'save' the world, now wants to destroy/cleanse it. 7) Her group of friends had been sleepwalking and digging for the relics and become possessed with the spirits of the past and now have powers. They try to prevent Faye from destroying the earth. She ends up changing her mind because of Kel (eye roll). 8) Everyone sings (SINGS!!!) and the pollution from the sea and sky begin to dissipate.
But wait, I never learned more about the bones that Faye finds comfort in or why there were creepy Dr.-Who-Like-Weeping-Angel statues at the Academy or how the friends sleepwalked in the first place.
And although the cover says "psychological thriller," I never felt it as psychological as it was more weird fantasy. And my idea of a psychological thriller does not include spiritual possession. It does remind me a little like a Dr. Who episode (surprise, surprise. since Etienne is a fan) but where Steve Moffat's creepy paranormal scenarios are wrapped up nicely, Etienne leaves you with a disjointed and confusing story. I do have to say some of Faye's lines are a bit humorous but the entire premise was so poorly formed and left me quite angry at the end.
There is a delicate balance between a story that is too simplistic and a story that leads to information overload. Too simplAs seen on Zombie Mommies.
There is a delicate balance between a story that is too simplistic and a story that leads to information overload. Too simplistic and the reader falls asleep; too complex and the reader is left in the dust wondering what just happened. Unfortunately, The Obsidian Blade falls into the latter category.
I should have known from the first chapter that I was heading into a bad mix of Star Trek vs The Twilight Zone. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy both. I'm just not sure they work well together...well, at least in this setting.
At the start, we are given a brief historical account of the Klaatu Disks (or time portals) invented by one discorporeal being in the postdigital age but made by Boggsian corporeals. Is your head spinning yet? It took me a few minutes to come to grips but I had to put that aside because then comes Tucker and his Reverend dad who finds themselves drawn to these time portals. And well...the adventure confusion begins.
From there, we discover that the Reverend has lost his faith and his wife is slowly heading into mental instability as a result of playing Sudoku. (Beware all you Sudoku fans!) The Reverend wants to cure his wife and disappears into the disks. But Tucker suspects this and eventually follows them.
In his journey, he meets such bizarre beings as futuristic autistic medical attendants (medicants) who use you in their product assembly line, futuristic priests who sacrifice pure girls to the disks, the last day of earth with a single mysterious woman who has secrets, a retelling of the crucifix of Jesus (who instead of dying and returning to earth, actually got delivered to the medicants: repaired and returned in 3 days), discovers that the Reverend got "cured" of his belief in God, references to the Digital plague, maggot disk eaters, and then being reintroduced to the Reverend as now Father September who will somehow return every one to a state of grace (from technology).
Wait a minute, I was under the impression I was going to read a time travel novel. Instead, the time traveling aspect is just a set up for introducing new bizarre circumstances. From what I can gather, the point of the story is about how we eventually become corrupt from technology...but why all the religious references? Is there a subtext I'm not understanding here. It's just all too complex and unrealistic; is there such a thing as unrealistic science fiction?
Sadly, I felt like I was reading a foreign language. I didn't feel anything for the characters and the story was just bizarre. Then a few days ago I was watching "The Day the Earth Stood Still" and ironically discovered that the main character is named Klaatu... coincidence? Why name the disks after one of the most popular sci-fi characters? I'm not sure, but I'm already too confused to think about it any further.
Sadly, a recommendation I can't make to anyone. If anyone has suggestions on a true time traveling novel, please let me know....more
Maybe my expectations were too high. Maybe I thought the story would center on the adventures of a female "James Bond." InstAs seen on Zombie Mommies.
Maybe my expectations were too high. Maybe I thought the story would center on the adventures of a female "James Bond." Instead, all I got was a bad taste in my mouth. It's not that Graceling was so poorly written: I actually found the writing style and world building nicely done. It's just that...I think I was lied to.
First, Cashore refers to Graceling as growing "from her daydreams about a girl who possesses extrodinary powers--and who forms a friendship with a boy with whom she is insurmountably incompatible." So imagine my surprise when Grace meets Po (the insurmountably incompatible guy) and I end up waiting...and waiting...for the big "reveal" only to find out their incompatibility is due to her being a fighter and him being aware of his surroundings. Now how exactly is that insurmountably incompatible? See...incompatible would be an angel hater saving an angel (like Angelfall). Or a demon falling in love with an angel (like Daughter of Smoke and Bone).
Second, there's the problem of Katsa. Obviously, this girl is carrying around some childhood baggage because she's got some major anger management issues. In one scene she "swung at (Po's) jaw with the side of her hand" bruising his jaw because she didn't like what he was saying about King Randa's hold over her. Whhhaat?! In another, she refuses to understand Po's reason for keeping his Grace a secret. Is she really that clueless? Of course, she eventually comes to her senses and end up in his arms.
Which comes to my second point: a lover or a husband? While Katsa has her own view on what these two definitions mean: freedom or imprisonment, what it really boils down to is commitment. There's just something that doesn't feel right with Katsa and Po's relationship. Basically, she wants to be with Po but without being tied to him and all it requires..."For once she became his wife, she would be his wife forever. Her freedom would not be her own." and "How will you feel if I'm forever leaving? If one day I give myself to you and the next I take myself away--with no promises to return?" It just seems to me that if you are in a relationship (married or not), there should be a certain level of commitment: loyalty, sacrifice...If the tables were turned and Katsa were a man, he most certainly would be considered a player.
My biggest disappoint is that the messages of feminism are poorly characterized in Katsa. Does Katsa have to behave like a stereotypical man (or feminist) in order to further the feminist movement? If a man hit a woman or didn't commit to a relationship, would we honor him for using his manhood? So why should it be okay for Katsa to behave this way? That's not what feminism is about: it's about embracing womanhood and striving for equity between the sexes.
Of course, there were also some minor character/plot development issues like: Katsa finding out that her grace is not actually in killing but in survival (which doesn't really make sense because how then is she able to inflict accurate pain on someone else when she's not being threatened?); or how Princess Bitterblue has the clarity of an adult when she's really only ten; or why the urgency to protect Bitterblue from her father (why she was so important to the King; if she died, then what? what's the consequence?); or why King Leck decided now (and not before) to spread his power across the kingdoms.
Overall, this was a desperately painful read but I was determined to finish...why? maybe I thought there was some redeeming grace at the end. But sadly, the entire time, I just begged it to be over....more