Another one in the grand tradition of Katniss/The Hunger Games and Tally-Wa/Uglies. Future dystopia with an unrealistic and super-rigid social/politic...moreAnother one in the grand tradition of Katniss/The Hunger Games and Tally-Wa/Uglies. Future dystopia with an unrealistic and super-rigid social/political system, a lot of pointless violence, and practically no characters over the age of 20.
Fairly compelling even though it is not that well done. Told in present tense, which didn't bother me as much as it usually does. There are a lot of big set pieces intended to place the reader in the world (which is the ruins of futureChicago), but some (notably the Dauntless headquarters) are too messily written to let readers visualize them well. Too many characters and too little character development, which makes it harder to keep track of who is who doing what & why. The "divergent" status seems to be a totally artificial construct, or at best equals strength of character, except that it evidently affects physiology too. What?? Four's identity was SUPER easy to predict; why was it a secret at all?
The climax of the book pretty much tore away a good 80% of the setting, characters, structure of the narrative, etc., and thrust the remaining characters into a totally different situation. It's very hard to predict how the next book will approach the rest of the story. I put the next one on hold at the library, but I wonder how compelling it's going to be to move forward after that. (less)
I think this is the first Terry Pratchett book I ever got, and that was at around age 16. I don't think I was old enough for it yet at the time, which...moreI think this is the first Terry Pratchett book I ever got, and that was at around age 16. I don't think I was old enough for it yet at the time, which seems weird considering Jane Eyre and Oliver Twist both were fixtures by the end of 5th grade, but was true nonetheless. Neither of those really require a grasp of satire. Anyway, Susan is excellent, but overall I think the plot and its resolution are more flimsy than some.(less)
TP can occasionally cross the line when it comes to representing minority cultures (see: Interesting Times, which left such a bad taste in my mouth th...moreTP can occasionally cross the line when it comes to representing minority cultures (see: Interesting Times, which left such a bad taste in my mouth that I sold it to the used store without finishing), so I was curious to see whether there would be racism here. And...no, not really. Instead we get a satire of ancient Egypt and to some extent Greece, with heavy emphasis on religion and philosophy, and a bunch of main characters taking mostly believable actions. Well, good.
Getting a glance inside the assassin's guild was definitely interesting, but it didn't have very much to do with the bulk of the novel otherwise. It could have been better integrated, but I think it would have been a better plan to just write one novel about the assassin's guild and another about the pyramids. (less)
The best thing about these books is that they are all about learning to be a strong and independent person. The fantasy trappings work well, especiall...moreThe best thing about these books is that they are all about learning to be a strong and independent person. The fantasy trappings work well, especially when you consider the actual historical transitions, both in terms of religion (pagan to christian) and medicine (wise woman healer/midwives to certified male authorities (the full shift to licensed physicians is obviously not complete here, but you can see the authority challenge at the least)) in the early British isles. I really like the vivid description of the setting and everyday life as well. While a few of the details in the story don't quite fit those in the prequel, that's ok with me. (less)
I've read both this and the first book in the series several times, and I really like them. They fall into the "books I will read over and over again"...moreI've read both this and the first book in the series several times, and I really like them. They fall into the "books I will read over and over again" category. Lots of excellent details, compelling story, and a strong female main character: yes, that's what I want.(less)
This is pretty bad, but at least it's not as depressing as all the serious lit I've chosen recently. Not super enthused about the telliness, the huge...moreThis is pretty bad, but at least it's not as depressing as all the serious lit I've chosen recently. Not super enthused about the telliness, the huge gaps in the plot, or the total dominance of male characters. You'd think women might be depicted in some way other than as 1. dangerously naive to the point of polluting others' minds or 2. ZOMG BETRAYING WHORE YOU MUST DIEEE. Let's see whether the subsequent character development changes that at all.
Master criminal with a heart of gold buried so deep even he can't find it + ultra-naive Anduin Wrynn clone + former stripper only in the book as a love interest/character developer for master criminal = no thanks.
This is really good, but I had a hard time wanting to pick it up because it's the latest in a whole huge volley of depressing books. It's pretty funny...moreThis is really good, but I had a hard time wanting to pick it up because it's the latest in a whole huge volley of depressing books. It's pretty funny how I kept writing different variations of that in my updates.
On the surface, this is a story about 200-years-post-nuclear-catastrophe Moscow. Yay dystopian future! Society has regressed extraordinarily far in a super-short amount of time. It's basically small city-state chieftains and serfdom over again, but with the added bonus of rampant mutations and the very rapidly and severely fading memory of all remnants of the past. Some of the people who survived the blast are still alive, their mutation being that they basically stopped aging afterward, but most people are three or four generations out, and the divide between the two groups is very severe. It's as if they speak two different languages with the same words.
The ability (and inability) to communicate, to store and pass on knowledge, is really the baseline here. The book is hugely literarily allusive, and becomes more and more so as the plot progresses. Actually, there isn't much plot at all--just lots of world-building--until the literary allusions take hold. I need a better understanding of Russian culture and literature to really get a good grasp on everything. Pushkin, for example, has a large symbolic role, but I know I'm not getting all the nuances, because I haven't ever read much Pushkin. And the majority of characters in the book are in the same boat, only much more so. They stumble and misread and pass blindly over--or repeat, thinking there's an entirely different meaning--what they don't understand or even recognize. (less)
A love story, bildungsroman, and historical fantasy all in one; quite good. While there is a romance, the traditional boy-saves-girl trope is turned f...moreA love story, bildungsroman, and historical fantasy all in one; quite good. While there is a romance, the traditional boy-saves-girl trope is turned firmly on its ear to excellent effect. Kate and Christopher are concrete and real, and both the relationship and the personal growth (especially Kate's, since this is her bildungsroman) are totally believable. So: head and shoulders above many books in the same vein.
Folk belief and religion are treated super well here. The idea of elves or fairies as proponents of ancient pagan religions who have been forced underground is fascinating. I wasn't particularly convinced by Kate's description of the power inherent in christianity, which should not be a surprise to anyone here, but it was very interesting to see it contrasted against the fairy/pagan belief that a human sacrifice was necessary to gain power. I was also interested to see the overlap between the different belief systems. We get to see a priest make a warding sign against the fairies. Kate is given a cross that is perceived to have power not because it's a symbol of christianity but because it's cold iron, and how it actually ends up protecting her has little to do with either of those ideas.
I also really liked the realistic interpretation of the "hold fast" bit of the ballad of Tam Lin.
The only thing I really didn't think was necessary was the frame of the book. Kate could easily have gone or been sent to the castle for some other reason than because her foil of a sister wrote a stupid letter to Queen Mary in support of the exiled Princess Elizabeth, in whose household they both were ladies-in-waiting. But then, I'm usually going to be against throwing historical figures into works of fiction without a really good reason. It wasn't badly done, and I can see some reason for it--using action certainly eliminates the need for a bunch of exposition about the setting & time period--but I'm just not 100% convinced. (less)
Actually quite a lot of fun. There's some telliness (but not much) and a few too many names to keep track of, but otherwise, this is pretty much what...moreActually quite a lot of fun. There's some telliness (but not much) and a few too many names to keep track of, but otherwise, this is pretty much what it says on the box: a fun fantasy novel with a political-intrigue plot and a specific music and element-based magical system, in which expository worldbuilding has little to no place and jumping into the action takes precedence. It's not fantastic literature, but I like it.
ETA: It's also worth mentioning that Tanya Huff has a progressive & healthy attitude toward sexual identity & nontraditional family structures. You can see this from her very first book, The Fire's Stone, which I for one read as a teenager and loved. It's too juvenile & emo for me now, but if you're 15 and dealing with discovering your sexuality? Yes please. Anyway, in this case the protagonist is 1. a lesbian in a stable relationship with another woman 2. pregnant by someone else, and NO ONE BATS AN EYE. It's just accepted that people are people and they are who they are and love who they love and are sexually attracted to who they're sexually attracted to, and everything about that is 100% fine. I don't know about you, but that's exactly what I want to see.(less)
Quite good. I haven't read any scifi with any references to Jewish culture whatever before, so that was super interesting and different and well done...moreQuite good. I haven't read any scifi with any references to Jewish culture whatever before, so that was super interesting and different and well done as far as I can tell. And yet since I'm not up on Jewish culture in general, I'm sure I was missing a lot of context. It's not a problem, but I wish I knew more, because I'm sure the whole story would be a lot more interesting if I could follow everything in more detail. The world created is compelling and the story also. I don't think the ending seems very conclusive, but that's not surprising considering that this is the first in a series. The only real problem I have is the title, which seems to have nothing to do with the book itself; clearly the publisher decided on something saleable. I'm definitely interested to see whether this is sustainable in the longer series.(less)