A lot of this book really wowed me, especially its line-level writing, which I found sumptuous. I thought a good many of the characters were interestiA lot of this book really wowed me, especially its line-level writing, which I found sumptuous. I thought a good many of the characters were interesting and well-rendered, especially Finn, Petey, and Roza--this novel toys with the idea of archetypes, which is risky as it can turn the characters into bland bubbles, but I thought Ruby made them complex enough to avoid such an issue. I thought too that the author did a good job of handling the resolution, which could have easily gone too sentimental for its own good but managed to hover just above that line. I loved the irrealist space this novel occupied for most of its story, a very finely-drawn hazy space somewhere between our world and not. Likewise I loved the integration of Greek mythology, which felt sly and wink-y and not too flashy.
My issue is one large one with two prongs, and one smaller one. The big issue is the way the novel handles suspense: Bone Gap is dependent on the withholding of information as a way to create it, which is problematic in terms of how Ruby is forced to resolve it. One way she tackles this withholding comes in the way she provides some of her characterization. On more than one occasion, the author relies on giant chapters of summary--presenting a character's life story, or a significant chunk of their life story--to teach the reader about them. It felt a bit clumsy, since every time it happened I was pulled out of the story to think about the mechanic she was using. "Oh," I'd say, "here's another big passage to teach us something crucial about this character." And I think that's really why it bothered me--buried deep in these summaries, which I did find richly-detailed and enjoyable, was some HUGELY important fact that we needed to understand the characters/story.
The second way she tries to resolve her withholding (the second prong in her approach) is to throw in revelations that feel like twists we should have seen coming--the issue for me, however, is that Ruby does a better job of making us feel like we have secretly known this all along than she does actually weaving in enough information to integrate these new ideas seamlessly. That is, she tricks us into going "oh, duh!" when she hasn't earned it; it's impressive, sure, but the more I thought about it, the more it bothered me, since so much of what comes after hinges on these two twists. In fact, they're the kind of twists that have retroactive ramifications, asking the reader to reconsider everything previous to this moment in light of the new information. And these revelations don't feel organic enough for it to quite work.
My minor quibble is about the love story (stories?) and the idea of beauty: this novel, like a lot of YA, relies on the concept of oddballs of unconventional beauty (whether internal or external) to make the love story that beats at the center to feel moving and profound. I rolled my eyes once or twice, sure, but for the most part I was willing to accept that it was goopy and gooey and YA. However, by the end, Ruby has tried to subvert this idea by robbing the characters of their beauty, which I think is supposed to make the love stories feel...more realistic? Profounder yet? More human? Something along those lines. Again, though, it feels artificial--unearned--especially since by the end, we're pushed along into a narrative of "but they're still truly beautiful" which was already the point of the love story; we're being tricked into thinking there's a change, but the change changes nothing.
I got a little hung up in the prose, which tends toward the introspective to a degree I found distracting. There are some lovely descriptive passages,I got a little hung up in the prose, which tends toward the introspective to a degree I found distracting. There are some lovely descriptive passages, and the idea is great without dominating the story (i.e., it doesn't become totally about its premise).
Having both read the book and seen the movie, I can't really explain why I like them so much, but I just do--there is something powerful and tantaliziHaving both read the book and seen the movie, I can't really explain why I like them so much, but I just do--there is something powerful and tantalizing about this novel, like a siren. It lured me in and didn't let me go until it had consumed me. Normal as usual.
Thanks to NetGalley for the eARC in exchange for an honest review!
Here is a book that knows how "fun" and "intelligent" can work together--from the ouThanks to NetGalley for the eARC in exchange for an honest review!
Here is a book that knows how "fun" and "intelligent" can work together--from the outset, Chilton subverts classic adventure/fantasy tropes one after the other (like The Princess Bride for the younger set), taking down gender roles, race relations, and classism (among other things) in ways that are both funny and revealing, as good satire must be. Logic/reasoning is prominently integrated into the plot of this story in a way that never feels heavy-handed (or, when it does, the book pokes fun at itself), one of the many ways it's smart. Fun to read, would be fun TO read with your middle-grader.
An engaging tale about many things: stories, magic/wonder, heritage, families, dementia, loss. Much of the novel is beautiful: its prose is mesmerizinAn engaging tale about many things: stories, magic/wonder, heritage, families, dementia, loss. Much of the novel is beautiful: its prose is mesmerizing, its characters enthralling, its emotions heart-wringing. It stumbles a bit toward the end; dialogue that, for most of the novel, was eye-opening in its veracity, turns stiff and unrealistic as she bends her characters into arcs that don't feel organic. Events stack up too rapidly, in a way that feels somehow implausible, which is strange in a novel where I was easily convinced of things that are so clearly not real. But I didn't find these faults to be overpowering--indeed, they only stuck out to me because I'm a harsh reader--and they certainly don't steal the charm and delight that is the rest of the book, which is sensitive and interesting. Definitely would recommend.
I think the story arcs are too short--things happen too fast, lack explanation. I have a hard time anchoring myself to the characters (and no, I don'tI think the story arcs are too short--things happen too fast, lack explanation. I have a hard time anchoring myself to the characters (and no, I don't mean relate to or like) because I feel like I don't have sufficient space to distinguish them and process them.
The thing about Casanova is that I am often confused by what I'm reading, and despite that, I find myself really enjoying the comic. Fraction and theThe thing about Casanova is that I am often confused by what I'm reading, and despite that, I find myself really enjoying the comic. Fraction and the Moon/Bá duo do an excellent job of conveying really interesting themes--who are we, which wes are us, can we snuff out the we--with beautiful artwork. I'm looking forward to the next set of comics!