"You just have to be a virgin, too. You're twenty-three years old. It's just wrong," he shouted. "I raised you to be more evil than this." "I told you before, not until I fall in love," I said ... "Hey, if it's any consolation," I said in an effort to cheer [Satan] up, "I probably won't wait to get married first. That's a little sin, right?" "I guess."
'The irony of it all, though, was I loved it when guy got medieval and protective. I just wished my feminist side would allow me to enjoy it.'
'His lack of comment intrigued me. In the past, whenever I announced my untouched state, I then became inundated with impassioned speeches of how they were the one. A few even made false declarations of love. Unfortunately for them, my father didn't raise a fool.'
'For the world's biggest slut, Bambi was an awesome big sister. And no, that wasn't an insult; Bambi took pride in winning the title every year.'
"I'm so proud of you, Muri, living in sin." I think he might have choked up a bit. For my part, I was glad I'd finally done something Dad approved of."
A chapter's worth of writing, a prologue if you will, of a girl waking up to find her house on fire, but despite this the last words are intriguing, i...moreA chapter's worth of writing, a prologue if you will, of a girl waking up to find her house on fire, but despite this the last words are intriguing, implying more is going on than meets the eye.(less)
A unique book showcasing multicultural London as the main character featuring much of her history, geography, associated Britishisms, pop. culture ref...moreA unique book showcasing multicultural London as the main character featuring much of her history, geography, associated Britishisms, pop. culture references and slang. I'm surprised non-Brits (or even non-Londoners) didn't give this a lower rating for all that they didn't understand because I'm a Brit and there were a couple I didn't get. A basic map and a glossary would've been helpful, I think.
Having a mixed race protagonist instantly put this book in my good graces being mixed race myself, although I was a little disappointed Peter's mother wasn't Afro-Caribbean, like mine. Thankfully, he's not mixed race in name only as his race was referred to consistently throughout without becoming unnecessarily repetitive. Another thing broadcasting loud and clear was Peter's manliness. Refreshingly, he's most definitely male with urges, sexual thoughts and erections just like the next man. No shying away from, or sanitisation of, his sexuality here.
'I was fighting the urge to fling myself down to my knees before her and put my face between her breasts and go blubby, blubby, blubby. When she offered me a seat I was so hard it was painful to sit down.'
'I dreamed that I was sharing my bed with Lesley May and Beverley Brook, both lithe and naked on either side of me, but it wasn't nearly as erotic as it should've been because I didn't dare embrace one for fear that I'd mortally offend the other.'
Peter's charmingly colourful London copper voice had me visualising Gerry from New Tricks reading this to me. Immediately Peter Grant drew me into his interesting and fun narration, increasing my excitement and anticipation for what I thought could be a 5-star awesome book.
'Martin gave the body the 'London once-over' - a quick glance to determine whether this was a drunk, a crazy or a human being in distress. The fact that it was entirely possible for someone to be all three simultaneously is why good-Samaritanism in London is considered an extreme sport - like base-jumping or crocodile-wrestling.'
However, with an ultra realistic background, magic seemed incongruous, inconspicuous and surreal in comparison. Ghosts and vampires appeared normal to me, it was the river spirits I couldn't get a handle on. Magic itself, I gradually accepted although to begin with it was an oddly unsubstantiated concept because Nightingale refused to elaborate, purposely keeping Peter in the dark about everything magic-related which was super frustrating. I couldn't believe in something I didn't understand. Apparently, Newton made pioneering breakthroughs in magic at the same time he did science as they're both inextricably linked, which we observe during Peter's rigorous experiments into how magic use damages all technology its vicinity.
"Well the second, murdering gent, he puts on a cap and a red jacket and he brings out his stick and as quietly and swiftly as a snoozer in a lodging house he comes up behind the first gent and knocks his head clean off." "You're having me on," I said. "No, I'm never," said Nicholas, and crossed himself. "I swear on my own death, and that's as solemn a swear as a poor shade can give. I was a terrible sight. Off came his head and up went the blood."
A nod to Laurell K. Hamilton was made via the intriguing Anita Blake-like horror scenes, a welcome distraction from the magic. I ate them up and wanted more. Aaronovitch had to have been a fan at one stage because his crime scenes are reminiscent of the way LKH wrote hers. I did wonder if the vagina dentata was a surruptitious comment on the way her series devolved over time, though I think I'm reaching with that one since the owner of that vagina seemed to have targeted a rapist.
'Somebody was screaming and I had to check it wasn't me. It could've been me. I certainly wanted to scream, but I remembered that, right then and there, Lesley and I were the only coppers on the scene, and the public doesn't like it when the police start screaming: it contributes to an impression of things not being conducive to the public calm. I got to my feet and found that we'd attracted a crowd of onlookers. "Ladies and gentlemen," I said, "police business. I need you to stand back." The crowd stood back - being covered in blood can have that effect on people.'
Eerily, this was published only 7 months before the 2011 London riots and yet the author got the riot behaviour and media reactions down pat. Yes, the Daily Mail did have field day, the resulting reasons they came up with being basically this:
"Because who is more oppressed? Those that seek nothing but entitlements for themselves, or those that claim for everything: social security, housing benefit, disability, and pay for nothing?" [...] [redacted] must either be using stuff from [redacted]'s memory or else had been reading the Daily Mail for the last two hundred years.
Excellent social commentary, idiosyncrasies of specific groups and observations on current tensions mixed with the studious Newtonian science, history and geography would make Rivers of London a prime candidate for study in schools and universities.
'It's a myth that Londoners are oblivious to one another on the tube: we're hyper-aware of each other and are constantly revising our what-if scenarios and counter strategies. What if that suavely handsome yet ethnic young man asks me for money? Do I give or refuse? If he makes a joke do I respond, and if so will it be a shy smile or a guffaw? [...] If he opens his jacket and yells 'God is great', will I make it down the other end of the carriage in time?'
'People are conditioned by the media to think that black women are all shouting and head-shaking and girlfriending and 'oh, no you didn't', and if they;re not sassy then they're dignified and downtrodden and soldiering on and 'I don't understand why folks just can't get along'. But if you see a black woman go quiet the way Tyburn did, the eyes bright, the lips straight and the face still as a death mask, you have made an enemy for life: do not pass go, do not collect two hundred quid.' [LOL. My mother does this.]
"I just wanted to talk to someone who could speak English properly. I went on holiday to Bavaria last summer and everyone spoke English really well. I bring my kids down to the West End and everyone's foreign. I don't understand a word they're saying." [A common complaint]
Aaronovitch mentions Waterstone's, his ex-employer (and mine, high-five!) but the punctuation actually dates the book as pre-2012 because it's now 'Watersones', no apostrophe. (This dumbing down, eh? Tut, tut). Speaking of dated, two women owned Nokia phones. The likelihood of that is pretty low even now with the Lumia. Nokias were popular in the early noughties when pretty much everyone owned one, including myself. Now, it's all about smartphones: the iPhone, Samsung and HTC, and yet nobody owned one? The slang and pop. culture references also date this work. You could certainly call this book a dedication to it's era, circa early 2000s.
Perhaps I'm nitpicking and taking this book too seriously, and yet I’m about to take it to a new level.
*Puts feminist hat on.*
Disproportionate gender treatment isn't something I usually notice in fiction. Here, it was abundantly clear women are to be feared, lusted after or victimised and used whereas Nightingale and Peter are painted as the 'good guys' who can do no wrong but, where are the strong, positive female characters?
Let's go through some examples:
✺ Molly. Mute throughout the whole book, is a vampire and is feared at one point and a sex object in another (in the nude painting), and also happens to be a housekeeper.
✺ Lesley. Sex object. Victim(view spoiler)[as her body is possessed and used and then she's critically disfigured, then saved and will now be receiving facial reconstructive surgery (hide spoiler)]. Used regularly as a dogsbody by Peter. I say 'dogsbody' because she rarely asks for anything return and it appears Peter is her only friend and vice versa, so she's like a doormat because she never says "no, do it yourself". Where's the give and take in that relationship?
✺ Stephanopolous(sp?). Painted as the much feared butch lesbian senior cop. Stereotype much?
✺ Mama Thames (Nigerian river spirit). Sex object. Her power is to be feared.
✺ Beverley Brook (Nigerian river spirit). Sex object, used as a hostage and means of transportation and communication.
✺ Tyburn (Nigerian river spirit). Feared. Acts like a mob boss, and while Peter never calls her a bitch, that's what is implied/inferred.
✺ Peter's mum. Wife of an addict, 'nuff said.
✺ Cinema woman. She assaulted a cinema employee, and while not her fault this essentially turns her into a victim(view spoiler)[of possession (hide spoiler)].
I enjoyed the references to places I knew well like Euston station, Forbidden Planet and Waterstones; to authors like John William Polidori and Oscar Wilde (although I felt his mention white-washed over his awful criminal conviction for homosexuality by calling it a 'public nuisance' -Grr!), both of which wrote gothic horror in London settings, if I remember correctly.
Mistakes, inconsistencies and continuity errors marred my experience a little, for example:
➛ Nicholas Wallpenny became Thomas Wallpenny at one point.
➛ Dr John Polidari became Dr John Polidori which confused me at first.
➛ Peter's designated department switched to Nightingale without explanation. Nightingale had no way of knowing Peter had had contact with the Wallpenny ghost because later it's explained this ghost never had contact with Nightingale, and Peter never named the ghost to that police officer (who thought he was crazy) at the beginning so I doubt he passed the info on. So, how and why would Peter be placed in the Folly (magic department) without any basis for it?
Small things, I suppose. It sucks to be observant sometimes. This wasn't one of those books I could allow my brain to switch off with if I wanted to enjoy the educational lessons provided. As I said before, I really enjoyed the beginning, gradually becoming slower paced and less interesting when I skimmed and skipped around a bit. There much potential there for high ratings but, for me, it didn't quite deliver, though I can still appreciate much of the book for it's uniquely entertaining voice, ethnically diverse characters, spot on cultural observations and educational lessons - ergo 2-2½ stars.(less)
Assassins are cool. Super powers, who wouldn't want some? That this is set outside the US and the UK, a huge plus. So what went wrong?
Early on I assum...moreAssassins are cool. Super powers, who wouldn't want some? That this is set outside the US and the UK, a huge plus. So what went wrong?
Early on I assumedAcross the Nightingale Floor had been translated due to inconsistent, simple and superficial language. And I wasn't alone in my thinking. However, a quick search revealed the author to have been born and raised a few miles from where I live in England.
Very little emotion is shown by Takeo, our hero, despite what should've been some harrowing scenes in the beginning in which he lost his entire family in the massacre of his village, witnessed by him. Balancing 'show' and 'tell' is a common problem and unfortunately there's far too much 'tell' than there really should be. Long conversations, flimsy explanations and detailed summaries are shortcuts used here contributing to a severe lack of depth concerning Takeo's character and a level of unreadability to his chapters as I was unable to connect or sympathise with him.
On the other hand, Kaede, our heroine, manages to engender sympathy for her plight right away. Her chapters were noticeably different in quality, contained more action and the feminist-themed commentary was intriguing.
"Even beauty is dangerous for a woman. Better not to be desired by men."
Again and again this is proved in this patriarchal, feudal Japan. Including superstitious nonsense regarding the powers of women cursing men just by being arbitrarily associated with them. If a man happens to die at the hands of the woman he tried to rape it's the would-be rapist's fault, not the woman's. That's the social norm of the time period this is set it.
Kaede's insta-love at first sight towards Takeo and its reciprocation turned me off for it's commonality and overuse amongst young adult novels but THT suggested it could be taken as "fated to be mated". I think, in the end, it was a mixture of both. Their relationship was engineered to be Shigeru and Maruyama's history repeating itself, an ill-fated one where being together would mean death. Our hope this second time around is that they'll finally be reunited and gain a happy-ever-after. For me, this isn't something I like, this repetition in the vain hope all will work out in spite of history attesting to that fact it most likely will not. I can see the poetic beauty and note the tragic Shakespearean nature of these circumstances, though I can't appreciate them here, not with this writing. And certainly not when it looks like the other books will draw out the angst-ridden will-they-or-won't-they. No, thank you.
Hearn gives away her ending early on via heavy foreshadowing. Predictablity isn't something I'm a fan of, although I am grateful the author didn't go full Romeo and Juliet on her characters, close call though it was. I'm also glad the issue of sex wasn't glossed over or ignored. Sex was heard, had with prostitutes, and had next to a rapidly cooling corpse in what must've been a blood-spattered room and clothing. Sexy.
Usually I'm an ardent lover of politics and dastardly machinations, I wasn't in this case. I had zero invested in the plot and no side ever revealed itself to be a favorable one to champion. Takeo, Shigeru, Iida, Kenji and the Tribe. I hoped for nothing. No, I tell a lie. I hoped they'd all die quickly so I could finish the damn book and move on.
As super secrets assassins go I wasn't terribly impressed with the Tribe. Like everyone else they had an agenda, not one I could get behind, and possessed no members I could warm to. They were petty and patronising with no respect for free will, what's to like about that? Their skills were only mildly paranormal, mostly standard stuff to use to fight, escape and evade: enhanced strength and hearing, fast reflexes, creating temporary shadow doppelgangers to distract, and hypnotic gazes that can send you to sleep. Out of all the assassin scenes Takeo's acts of mercy were the ones to make a good impression on me and a bad one on Kenji, Takeo's teacher:
"It's that softness he has," Kenji said. "It drives him to act from compassion, even when he kills."
Villain, Iida, is defeated unbelievably fast and easy. You could argue a stroke of luck, a fortuitous accident, if you will. Not in my eyes. Iida lost his credibility as a convincing foe in the moment he was beaten. For someone so completely paranoid and obsessed about security he underestimated his opponents and ignored possible threats, not just the one that brought him down either.
I understand what the author was trying to achieve with Across the Nightingale Floor and no doubt it would make for a beautiful, graceful yet tragic movie. As a book, it failed to seduce me. Reading shouldn't be hard work. Just skimming I struggled to stop my eyes from glazing over in utter boredom until the last 20% when the pace picks up. I couldn't, in good conscience, recommend this to anyone.
I came across this stunning book cover while browsing my library's new orders so I reserved it. A thrilling first chapter reminded m...more80/499 pages read.
I came across this stunning book cover while browsing my library's new orders so I reserved it. A thrilling first chapter reminded me of Carrie and the movie Cherry Falls.
Genie knew when her beloved grandmother died and told her fanatically religious mother. When her mother found out Genie's prediction was true she locked her daughter up in her bedroom behind bars, let her church's congregation call her the devil's plaything, encourage her to take her own life, burn the crucifix into her flesh, etc. Quite disturbing. Meanwhile 34 children go missing with no word from them and no bodies to bury. Rumours fly around and frantic parents are scared their child will be next. Uncomfortably childish and unrealistic writing from the moment Genie is rescued meant I couldn't continue.(less)
Although The Boyfriend List didn't blow me away, I'm pretty sure my teenage self would've eaten this up. It's a convincing story of the trials and tri...moreAlthough The Boyfriend List didn't blow me away, I'm pretty sure my teenage self would've eaten this up. It's a convincing story of the trials and tribulations of being a teenage girl involving girl-girl friendships, the first forays into romance and boys, and the blossoming of her sexuality -and trying to understand all of this as well as coming to understand oneself.
Ruby Oliver A nice girl whose teenage voice and the situations she finds herself in feel authentic. She's honest but has a hard time seeing the truth of things. She's a terrible judge of character with an inability to express how she feels to the people who've wronged her so she comes off as a doormat with a bad reputation. Instead she internalizes her frustrations, turning her anger inwards resulting in several panic attacks in the 10 days of hell she experiences.
The Parental Units Ruby's dad -Mr. Positive and the calm, rational one. Advocates forgiveness and understanding. Ruby's mother -Mrs. Negative and the attention-seeking, loud and irrational one. Advocates expressing anger, jumping to conclusions and making judgements.
Together they're combustible, in an irritating I-hope-you-get-divorced kind of way. Arguments are the soundtrack to Ruby's home life. She has to put up with them interfering in every facet of her life, over-analysing her behaviour and each giving her conflicting advice. The reason for their unnecessarily overwrought reactions seems to be the mother's need to exaggerate with her father responding by trying to calm things down. These two alone are enough to send Ruby running to a therapist.
The Therapist Mostly unobtrusive though her therapy-talk became annoying really fast. I hated the leading questions and nudges for Ruby to come to conclusions on her own, even knowing they were necessary, because quite frankly Ruby wasn't so good at it. I pretty much wanted to take her to one side and point out where she was going wrong. But I'm impatient like that. It's an agonisingly slow process, getting to know oneself.
The "Friends" Paraphrasing Noel's words: Who needs enemies when you have Ruby's friends. Users and abusers, the lot of them. Respect and loyalty disappeared as soon as it was inconvenient. In a crisis you find out who your real friends are. In Ruby's case, she was surprised to find an acquaintance she previously assumed to be a whore that she used as transportation to and from school, actually saw Ruby as her one and only friend, and therefore valued her more than the rumours of Ruby's supposed wrongdoings. Outcasts she'd once thought creepy and weird turned out to be good people who came to her rescue in different ways. This opened her eyes to people, possibilities and opportunities beyond her small high school, helping her take that crucial first step away from her old clique-lifestyle.
The Asshole Jackson is the reason for this whole mess. His selfishness, immaturity and treatment of girls, is appalling. Girls aren't tissues to be used and disposed of in preference for a fresh one. The lies this guy tells, and his cowardly behaviour, is disrespectful and so shameful it's practically criminal. He deserves a taste of his own medicine. However, he and Kim appear to be a match made in heaven. They're both as bad each other. I really hope Ruby gets over him quickly, he's too toxic to moon over.
The Guys You Want To Know Even though Ruby's sworn off the male species for now, when she's ready there are interesting, mature, and above all, good guys for her to hang out with and get to know:
1) Noel - supportive and unafraid of non-conforming, he's the same age as Ruby and goes to the same school.
2) Gideon - older, an unlikely love interest who freely shares his wisdom with Ruby, inspiring her.
3) Angelo - considerate and polite but goes to a different school.
All three show a maturity, kindness and understanding worth exploring further. Noel especially, is good friend / love interest material. He intrigues me.
a) What's with all the footnotes? They're extremely important to read but they disrupted the reading flow and I gradually stopped referring to them.
b) There were times I was a little bored of the angst and the chick-litty-ness of it all. It's not my genre, I admit. Friends' high-rated reviews spurred me on to read this, ones who also share my propensity to avoid chick-lit.
c) I'm not sure why the word "shattered" was used so much, and in sometimes strange contexts, at least strange to me.
d) I turned the last page thinking there would be more to it and actually thought, "Is that it?" Perhaps I just needed a better closing paragraph.
Despite these I'm a little curious what Ruby will do next in her various relationships.
It's okay to rape your husband. (Source: Chapter 18 onwards.)
Up until this chapter The Duke and I was on the road to four stars. Four and not five bec...moreIt's okay to rape your husband. (Source: Chapter 18 onwards.)
Up until this chapter The Duke and I was on the road to four stars. Four and not five because of:
➜ Anthony's behaviour after witnessing his friend's mouth on his sister's chest in the garden of a house party, challenging his FRIEND to a duel after Simon refused to marry Daphne on the grounds it would make her unhappy because he couldn't give her what she'd always wanted i.e. children and therefore happiness. If Simon really was a friend, Anthony would've asked more questions about the why and been more tenacious in getting an accurate answer instead of jumping into a duel where he'd be forced to kill his friend;
➜ The following duel scene the next morning when Daphne outright lies to Simon about others, besides Anthony, witnessing their intimate act to prevent Simon from being killed in the duel and to force him to marry her, followed by Simon omitting the fact he won't have children and instead says he 'can't' have them so he doesn't have to tell her his very personal reason why.
I swallowed these things hoping it would come out later and they'd forgive each other in the end.
What I was not expecting was Daphne's grotesque arrogance and selfishness in taking advantage of her drunk husband after she found out the truth, denying him sex and companionship, and not allowing him to pull out during sex so she could have the children she'd always wanted. They'd been MARRIED TWO WEEKS, there was plenty of time to discuss his problems, his worries, about even contemplating children and instead she takes the choice from him against his will as he struggles with her once he realises her intentions.
After what Simon's father did to him Daphne's behaviour is even worse because she knew about Simon's stuttering and his father's abandonment of Simon because of this. And then two months after Simon leaves her he finds he misses her and he CAN'T REMEMBER WHY HE LEFT IN THE FIRST PLACE, thereby excusing any wrongdoing on her part. But not only that, Daphne sends her angry brother after Simon without telling him she was the reason Simon left and not Simon himself.
So, four stars to one. If the gender roles had been reversed I'd expect more people would've been outraged at the rape. Completely ruined a perfectly good book, and my first, and possibly the last, by Julia Quinn.(less)
The Love Triangle Heroine: 18-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien. She's young, fairly inexperienced in the politics of love. Physically and mentally bouncing back from her time as a slave in the salt mines surprisingly quickly with rapidly diminishing bitterness (view spoiler)[(another reason to be bitter: I'm pretty sure the King is responsible for her parents' deaths because they're fae) (hide spoiler)] as she keeps her feelings for both men on the down low until she can't deny how close she's become to the Prince from their actions. She doesn't appear to pick up on Chaol's gestures of understanding and affection, believing he's yet to trust her not to kill someone or escape at any moment, so she doesn't play the men off against each other.
Suitor #1: 19-year-old Prince Dorian. Seducer of all women and professes he will only ever marry for love. Spoilt but not cruel, he hates his father for his unending crimes against humanity in the name of conquering the entire world. Surrounded by the weak and brainless women of court he's eager to escape he almost forces himself to become besotted by Celaena's strong-willed, feisty and intelligent nature, so very different from what he's used to. His interest is part defiance of his father and his best friend Chaol, Captain Westfall of the Royal Guard, after they warn him away from her. Celaena herself seems dazzled by his handsomeness and wishes to have a little fun by indulging his attentions. In the blink of an eye we have insta-love. Oh, the fawning they did over each other, argh. For him, this would be a great match. Celaena has the power to transform him from a boy to a man, a man fit to be king. But I don't think Celaena would get much from such a union.
Suitor #2: 22-year-old Chaol, Captain Westfall of the Royal Guard, and Celaena's trainer. The more natural of the two pairings when you think of the considerable amout of time they've spent together training. Skilled and strong, Chaol secretly grows to like her, against his will, more and more, without letting his feelings be known to anyone. Both he and Dorian experience jealously over her, while Celaena remains practically oblivious of Chaol's interest. It's a deep, slow burn from afar. Celaena was interested in Chaol to begin with but his brusque responses, with only a hint of playfulness, gave her the impression he didn't like her despite him blowing hot and cold throughout the rest of the book. Perhaps he was too subtle. While Dorian stumbles about a bit (odd for a womanizer), Chaol is the brooding, cautious and trusty rock you can always count on.
The Winner: Inconclusive. Celaena drops the Prince like a hot potato once she's finally named Champion in a way that presented her as a cold-hearted, manipulative bitch. I actually felt sorry for the guy despite finding him to be too spoilt, immature and weak to be a worthy partner. Chaol appears to be happy Celaena is on the market again as the book closes but all I could think was, "Run away! Before she breaks your heart too."
An Inconsistent Heroine As the book opens, Celaena is smart, strong-willed, fiesty and bloodthirsty. She used her quick wit and smart-mouth to embarrass and infuriate. Basically, she was badass. Trouble is, that didn't last.
Most of the trials, training and associated fighting were offstage while Celaena turned into a vain Barbie doll going to a ball and seducing the prince. I don't begrudge her femininity or the chance to be pretty again after the ugliness she'd suffered but this is not what I signed up for. It was too much.
Then she turns her hand to investigating the mysterious deaths, sleuthing, unsuccessfully I might add.
Finally, the last hurdle, the duel takes place. And it's action, action, action. (Honestly, I was so fed up by now I didn't pay much attention.) Followed by, "You're dumped!" with no thought to the Prince's feelings. For all her agonzing over the fate of slaves and the harsh treatment she'd received I thought she'd know what "tact" was. She came off as the bad guy, the assassin without a heart, exactly what they'd all thought of her in the beginning. It made me wonder if she really is playing a game of politics, calculating every move.
Predictable The mystery behind the deaths of the would-be champions was insanely obvious. We knew early on who's responsible, who's pulling the strings (view spoiler)[(The King, such a hypocrite, and we know how he rolls now don't we? Worse than Cain and the Duke sacrificing his entourage like that) (hide spoiler)], and I had a vague idea of the how. Not so mysterious. Perhaps because the reader gets the advantage of seeing things from multiple points of view I'm being too harsh on Celaena's ability to figure this all out (view spoiler)[ but using the Princess as a red herring failed miserably. Celaena should've known the Princess would never risk so much for short-term gain, that would be stupid, something she definitely is not. (hide spoiler)]
Conclusion I itched to DNF this, and to award 1 star, for the absurd (and painful to read about) love triangle, but I recognised the potential of the beginning and that of the world-building, as under-developed as it was. I wanted more action, politics and mystery, and much, much less romance. No romance at all would be fine. It's not a requirement for every single book.
*Thank you to Bloomsbury UK and Netgalley for the e-ARC in exchange for an honest review.*(less)
Damn this seductively beautiful book cover. *sigh*
Confused and worried about the yo-yo ratings given this by my friends, I was hoping my experience wo...moreDamn this seductively beautiful book cover. *sigh*
Confused and worried about the yo-yo ratings given this by my friends, I was hoping my experience would fall closer to the positive end of the scale and since I decided to participate in a read-along with THT I gave it my best effort. And a challenging read it was. I dragged myself, kicking and screaming to page 80 whereupon I began the process of DNFing when I realised the griffin, much-loved by many reviewers, had entered the picture. One last chance was given for Stormdancer to win me over. Unnecessary animal cruelty sealed its fate.
The insurmountable problems I experienced while reading Stormdancer:
• Ignorance. I don't enjoy feeling stupid. Too many foreign words were introduced without explanation (some of which were repetitive). Later, I learned there was a GLOSSARY IN THE BACK. Reading the e-ARC, this was a bit of a problem. Rather than wasting time trying to figure out how to find it and refer to it in a timely manner or use Google I continued reading, hoping it wouldn't matter. IT DOES MATTER. DON'T READ THE EBOOK, read a hardcopy. To my dismay I found myself calculating how much Japanese culture, media and language I have consumed (view spoiler)[(I've watched Pokémon TV series and Studio Ghibli movies. Owned a Tamagotchi. Read and enjoyed Battle Royale and watched the movie. I'm aware of things like manga, animé, shibari and hentai.) (hide spoiler)] because I understood just one word: katana. A sword. The rest...who knows what it said or meant because it went right over my head.
• Authenticity was always going to be an issue being that the author is neither Japanese, and as far as I know, didn't spend considerable time in Japan. Artistic license is allowed and I definitely noticed non-Japanese references like the mention of pandas. I can't speak to how authentic Stormdancer is, but having recently read Across the Nightingale Floor, also by a Western author, I'm wary now of authors writing books set within histories and cultures they haven't immersed themselves in and admittedly know little about.
• World-building. Wading through the info-dump, compounded by my ignorance of the language, consisting of detailed stories and myths I couldn't fathom or hope to remember, was nearly impossible to read. Real myths or part of Kristoff's fiction? Important to his story or not? I didn't know. The author certainly succeeded in convincing me I was an alien introduced to an entirely different world.
• Slow pace. Very little happens in the 90 pages I read. I liked three of the scenes: the drunken gambling, the playful puppy and the childhood memory about the heroine's unusual ability to communicate with animals via telepathy. Golden nuggets of awesome in the writing of those scenes lured me into continuing. That, and the Guildsmen reminded me of Hellboy's Karl Ruprecht Kroenen. I'm not sure if that was intended or even an accurate interpretation, its just what I imagined from the description. Anyway, not much else happens between receiving orders from the Shogun to find and retrieve a griffin and actually stumbling upon one.
• Unnecessary animal cruelty. If communicating with the creature was possible, why not give it an ultimatum -i.e. stop thrashing about which will cause us to crash our airship or we'll have to clip your wings, which is it? Such a simple step and one which would've preserved this mythical specimen, perhaps the only one of its kind left, to present to the Shogun in perfect condition. I hardly see the Shogun being able to ride the griffin into battle, as he wished to, now the poor creature's wings have been clipped.
I desperately wanted to like this book for its uniqueness amongst other young adult novels, even adult ones, in not only setting a tale in a non-traditional (i.e. non-Western) place but going back to feudal times, adding steampunk and griffins -a tall order. With such lofty aspirations Stormdancer was either going to be award-winningly brilliant where we'd all be toasting Kristoff's genius, or quietly hoping to forget this overly ambitious experiment. Sadly, I'm in the latter camp. Sorry.
***My thanks to St. Martin's Press and Netgalley for the e-Arc in return for an honest review.*** ________________________________
Charismatic and funny characters with a mixed race, part Japanese protagonist, made this an engaging and joyful read. I loved the show-stoppingly beau...moreCharismatic and funny characters with a mixed race, part Japanese protagonist, made this an engaging and joyful read. I loved the show-stoppingly beautiful Angela's lazy, sleepaholic and anti-social character. Kami's self-respect, self-awareness, common sense and individuality were appreciated. Brennan was obviously determined to set her heroine apart from the clueless, unhealthy role models from other books.
The love triangle didn't bother me until the end because it was weighted in Jared's favour so there wasn't much angst. Jared's apparent but unexplained dislike of touching Kami was distinctly unusual, because what teenage boy doesn't want to touch a girl (or another boy)? This led to a distancing of the two characters which was a bit angsty.
I'm not happy with the way things ended (although it was a healthy decision Kami made) because it's not just a normal cliffhanger, it completely opened the door to unoriginal love triangle angst characteristic of many other YA novels. This does Unspoken a disservice because the rest of the book was highly enjoyable.
The mystery is a little thin on the ground but as the focus was on establishing the personalities of the characters I didn't mind so much since the culprit(s) wasn't obvious and events weren't predictable.
The mention of a political science class confused me since we don't study that in the UK (or at least that's not what we call it) and Unspoken is set here. I'm also aware there were some Britishisms others may not understand though I don't think it's prohibitive to enjoyment.
I'll most likely wait for reviews for the sequel from those I trust before I decide to invest in something I could quite easily hate.(less)
Allison is working in a bookstore when zombies attack sending her and the rest of the staff behind the reinforced door to the backrooms. There they wait for rescue and struggle to subsist on what they have. Allison discovers a wireless internet network and searches for information and other survivors which escalates into blogging her experiences while others from around the world comment. The pace picks up when a zombie squirrel* enters the picture and shatters all illusions of their relatively safe existence thus far, and Allison continues to post as survival forces her to travel.
Personalities and physical descriptions are fully formed. Most of the characters are quite distinct apart from the Black Earth Wives, the remains of a religious community who evolve into faceless, cardboard-cutout zealots hellbent on stamping out the sinners and the damned (zombies) and re-populating Earth by means of kidnap and rape of surviving men and women, and those who refuse are either burned alive or sacrificed to the walking dead. Nice.
Roux/Allison shied away from giving details in certain areas. Apparently being able to clean your ears is more important than having tampons. Things like intimacy and sex are omitted or very briefly mentioned at the wrong moments. Allison's relationship with Collin is ambiguous for a while because not enough information is given. Are they together? Are they having sex? Do they even have condoms? We find out later there was a limited supply of condoms but at a point when this was no longer an issue for Allison.
There's a strong focus on relationships. Allison's need to reconnect with her mother -a cancer sufferer, the trials and tribulations of two marriages and an engaged couple, plus Allison's own romance issues, and the responsibility of caring for children. It get's pretty messy. I'm disappointed by the out the author gives for (view spoiler)[Collin and Allison from his marriage by pairing his wife and nephew up and leaving them elsewhere. It's inexplicable when Lydia obviously wanted Collin. I guess there wasn't time to explore that side of things (hide spoiler)].
Allie makes some understandable mistakes, however, some of her decisions are either TSTL or extremely rash. In particular, her decision to sneak out and leave the group to go it alone, which under the circumstances I can understand why she would want to do this but it seemed an incredibly stupid thing to do and perhaps selfish for depriving a group she's come to know and care about of a valuable resource. Her sadistic revenge on the thief I tried to put down to adrenaline and stress but it's hard to forgive when she had the option to kill rather than torture and maim. Roux appears to realise she's turned the audience against her heroine and has Allie feel remorseful and shock at her own actions at a later date. After this her likability fell through the floor. And her crazy, outlandish heroics fell on deaf ears.
Far more detail is given at the beginning with a slower pace becoming increasingly rushed to a short, summarized ending. Frustrating and unsatisfying. I felt Julian was short-changed and deserved more page time to discover his motivation for leaving his only family and how he felt about it. I'm not even sure we get a proper physical description other than his injuries. (view spoiler)[I was sad at his passing. (hide spoiler)] Mourning deaths is almost non-existent, once they're gone, they're gone although only unnecessary and useless characters die (view spoiler)[except for Julian, a doctor (hide spoiler)]. Zombie cliche alert. "MY SON ATE MY BABY GIRL!" was as close as we got to heart-wrenching grief.
*Eating meat will have to be a thing of the past if animals can be zombified. Also, the human race may be f*cked. Maybe it only affects mammals though. That would explain why the fish and birds seemed unaffected. Then again, the squirrel is the only infected animal we come across. So, can animals be infected, or not?
A tale of two halves. First 50%, 1 star. The second, 4 stars.
Five years ago, when this was first published, the language used, in the first half in pa...moreA tale of two halves. First 50%, 1 star. The second, 4 stars.
Five years ago, when this was first published, the language used, in the first half in particular, wouldn't have seemed so cliched. The pace was slow and I didn't feel anything for the characters. But when Annabelle meets the pack things start to change. And then something devastating happens and Anna's emotions reached out and grabbed my throat, squeezing until my eyes watered. The only thing I didn't like about that part: when Kieran and Annabelle reunite they don't talk about the (view spoiler)[miscarriage (hide spoiler)] or address the effect it's had on them and how they'll proceed with their future.
As for Ryland, I suspect the author's going to do a Kleypas and turn our wannabe rapist into a hero. It takes immense talent to accomplish that and considering his behaviour throughout Shewolf I'm not confident his change in character would successfully win me over and convince me he's a good guy deep down.(less)
An utterly confusing beginning and although I understood more as the story unfolded it's blindingly obvious this is a spin-off of the author's Vampire...moreAn utterly confusing beginning and although I understood more as the story unfolded it's blindingly obvious this is a spin-off of the author's Vampire Wardens series released last year. As this was my first book by Jones the events, characters and romance in this shorty didn't mean anything to me and the story wasn't long enough for me to care about them either. (less)
Unfortunately The Restorer reminded me of Prophecy of the Sisters due to the dreadfully slow pace and verbose prose reminiscent of 19th century litera...moreUnfortunately The Restorer reminded me of Prophecy of the Sisters due to the dreadfully slow pace and verbose prose reminiscent of 19th century literature but without the flair and beauty of the prominent writers of the time who could effortlessly produce graceful descriptions of a haunting nature, Victorian gothic-style. Edgar Allan Poe, for example. The dialogue, also, had an oddly formal quality to it that most modern English speakers don't use anymore. This made the book seem unnecessarily long-winded like an incessantly chatty person who goes on and on about nothing in particular.
Very little happened in the first half, it was painfully boring and repetitive (her father's damn rules), and the second was almost as bad. The scenes down in the well and it's tunnels were the most fascinating sections in the book but they only constitute perhaps 50 pages in total. Within those pages we get a glimpse at Amelia and Devlin's psyches as they explored those ancient and neglected passageways, trying to find a way out, hoping they wouldn't stumble upon the murderer in the dark shadows where he would have the upper hand.
Amelia is hollow. Devoid of meaningful experiences. Virginal. Naive. She's an eternal good girl with a lifeless but practical life, a perfectionist. Almost robotic. Constrained by her father's rules and her own fear that she'll attract the attention of a ghost which could attach itself to her and psychically drain her energy, she's never thought to break them even once to see what would happen. Until now, sort of. Passively. She doesn't actively break them, she just lets things naturally progress instead of stepping back as she was told to by her father. This makes her both an uninteresting and irksome heroine who's only appearance of growth is the emergence of curiosity as she turns amateur detective. What is there to like about that?
Devlin, the homicide detective, is almost the opposite. He has spirit (dulled somewhat by his guilt and grief over the loss of his wife and child, whose ghosts are sucking the life out of him), and from what others have said; he once was a very passionate man. But still, we don't really get to know him past his strong sense of honor, justice and nobility.
The romance aspect isn't one I cared for. Stevens appears to snap her fingers, forcing their chemistry, their kiss. The tug of war: Devlin's unconscious succubus-like siphoning of Amelia's strength when they're physically close, her father's warnings telling her to walk away, together with Devlin's reluctance to let his dead wife and daughter go so he can move on plus the ever-presence of their ghosts, against their mutual attraction, was tiresome and in no way was that war resolved here.
Pushed into the background was the mystery. Everything was concentrated on the deaths and burials but not the hunt for the killer. Also, too many other things were going on, too many unrevealed secrets and answers to questions Amelia's never been brave enough to ask her parents about. Ones that aren't unveiled in this book. My mind didn't try to solve the mystery of the murderer, I think, because I didn't care.
I didn't care. I wasn't invested in the outcome, the characters or the writing. I wasn't enchanted by the imagery or chilled by the ghosts. I felt the book was unfocused and aimless, unproductive. It needed tightening up, to be whipped into shape for a faster pace and a clearer message would've made Amelia's first journey out into the real world far more enjoyable.(less)
Okay, perhaps I'm overly sensitive but this should've been novel-sized instead of a novella. Maybe then I would've enjoyed this more because 1) the in...moreOkay, perhaps I'm overly sensitive but this should've been novel-sized instead of a novella. Maybe then I would've enjoyed this more because 1) the insta-love I couldn't accept especially since 2) the female protagonist had in the past been raped on a daily basis for over a year, ten years before she tangos with the man, the first she'd come close to since then, she would fall for. Although it was approached in a considerate way I was still uncomfortable and not quite believing she would so easily trust any man after her experience chained to a bed in a brothel despite being drugged most of the time. (less)
From the ghost's perspective Charley was far more likeable than in First Grave on the Right. Reyes seems to have more dialogue in this story than in t...moreFrom the ghost's perspective Charley was far more likeable than in First Grave on the Right. Reyes seems to have more dialogue in this story than in the novel though his appearance was intrusive and unnecessary until the very end.(less)
Too many POVs when one would've sufficed until that one character met up with others. Chopping up the bo...moreDNF. Skimming isn't going to get the job done.
Too many POVs when one would've sufficed until that one character met up with others. Chopping up the book in this way prevented me from feeling sympathy and developing an emotional attachment because once a tragic event occurs it cuts to a different character in another location. Mason's POV begins the story, I wanted to follow him to his blown-up school not switch to someone else, and when we do return to him 24 hours have gone by. Frustrating.
Graphic violence doesn't bother me, my boredom of its ever presence without a break to develop some depth did. This kind of reminds me of my experience with the movie Skyline, and even Cloverfield.
Flipping to the back and reading the end didn't give me any hope Dark Inside would improve.
Whether you believe climate change is man-made or not is immaterial, the point is it exists inside this book....moreDark Life, The Little Mermaid in reverse.
Whether you believe climate change is man-made or not is immaterial, the point is it exists inside this book. Anyway, uniquely set “Under the Sea” in a starkly plausible dystopian future with a plot which delves deeper into this unsettling world. Unfortunately, I could’ve done without the tacked-on romance.
Fish out of water, young Ariel Gemma meets Prince Eric Ty on her mission to find and join her long lost elder brother after they were separated in an orphanage years ago and is rumoured to be working in an underwater settlement. As a Topsider (a land resident) she’s blindly stumbling about unaware of the dangers of travelling alone. Ty becomes her guide as a lifelong subsea resident and as the only teenager in the still growing marine community he’s eager to spend time with someone his own age by showing her around his world.
We learn Earth is in a warm stage; icecaps have melted, sea levels have risen and large swathes of low-lying land are underwater. Space is limited. Privacy is a luxury no one can afford until the advent of Liquigen bringing with it the ability to breathe underwater and withstand the pressure, and the development of underwater settlements which farm much needed food for those left on land.
One problem, the prejudiced attitudes towards those who’ve chosen this new lifestyle. Rumours abound about what living down there does to you. People believe prolonged submergence will lead to the development of abnormal abilities and have labelled people with them Dark Life, though no one has actually owned up to having these powers. On top of this, pirates are plaguing supply vessels to and from land putting underwater residents on edge.
The world-building is amazing. The exotic fish, the fear of sharks, the inventive underwater architecture, bubble fences etc. It’s wonderfully imaginative.
I have one bone to pick with Dark Life and it revolves around the topics of gender and romance.
“Ty collected all of it himself.” ~ page 66
The protagonist is male? This gender reveal isn’t intentional. It plays no part in the plot. I had no idea. I assumed Ty was female and we were in for a rare treat. Two girls join up for a death-defying adventure. I wouldn’t be surprised if Ty was originally female and the author was instructed to change that and make him “Kiss the Girl” in order to make this baby more marketable.
Ty didn’t feel male. His interaction with Gemma didn’t say male-female relationship. Some effort was made later to masculinise Ty but I didn’t fully believe it. Ty’s physical description beyond “I sparkle” (don’t worry there’s a perfectly legitimate reason for it -eating lots of luminescent fish) is also lacking.
These “Poor Unfortunate Souls” should not be forced together. They had little chemistry. I didn't like it. They were friends, we didn't need more.
So, terrific worldbuilding, not the best conspiracy plot but it successfully drew us further into this intriguing future scenario. Thin characters. Beyond her mission there isn’t much to Gemma other than her fascination with and envy of Ty’s life compared to her cramped packed-like-sardines love-deprived existence on land. Ty is more fleshed out as a collector of the artifacts he finds, with hopes and dreams.
If Liquigen is invented...Indian Ocean here I come! Warm waters for me. Not Atlantic or Pacific –positively arctic in comparison. Although I am a bit claustrophobic. Hmm. I'll give this series another shot, hoping the characters are better developed with the excellent world-building out of the way.(less)
As YA dragon books go Flying Blind is better than Firelight.
First of all, I should say that Flying Blind is a spin-off of the adult series which I hav...moreAs YA dragon books go Flying Blind is better than Firelight.
First of all, I should say that Flying Blind is a spin-off of the adult series which I haven't read. I believe this has been reflected negatively in my rating because I got the distinct feeling I was missing some vital information.
The protagonist is likeable, funny and loyal, and she does everything right. In desperate need of information about her destiny and her abilities as the Wyvern (female dragon shifter) for her generation, she goes to knowledgeable sources like her parents and their friends and the rest of her extended family but no matter what she asks or how much she pleads they give her very little and tell her to figure it out for herself at dragon Boot Camp, basically a summer school for young dragons. Now I'm all for children learning things on their own through trial and error to make the lesson they learn more meaningful but in this case it was downright criminal and mean to do this to poor Zoe. There are limits. It was bordering on neglectful and dangerous for both her and others. She almost killed her friends because she had no idea how to control her power. And this isn't the first time I've read a YA book where adults or people in the know withhold vital information from those that desperately need it, and I'm sick of it. And where were the adults when the kids needed them? Getting their asses handed to them by mages the kids knew nothing about despite them being enemies for I don't know how long. Ugh. But this isn't the only reason why this didn't get a higher rating.
Zoe's cousins and friends had no faith or trust in Zoe whatsoever. How could they even call themselves her friends? It didn't take long for them to turn on her, heaping everything on her shoulders, blaming her for things she couldn't control and not one of them asked her how she felt, what she was having trouble with or how they could help her. No, it was just "I want you to do this for me", "I want you to do that for me", so selfish. She had but one defender though it was implied he had a special ability that meant he could see the truth of things more easily.
The Pyr mythology is interesting and the humorous way the book is written meant this was a breeze to read. I was a little uncomfortable with the romance aspect of things because I wasn't quite clear on the age difference between Zoe and her beau. It may have been only three years (Zoe's 15) but I got the impression it was more. However, the romance isn't the main aspect of the book and there's very little angst.
Isabelle confused me a bit. Although she's set up as competition in the battle for Nick's affection so Zoe automatically dislikes her which comes through loud and clear, I hated Isabelle, too. She was overly earnest and way too helpful. I found her behaviour suspect. No one is that nice. I kept waiting for her dark side to show itself. I was also flummoxed by the prophecy that Nick and Zoe would one day be together when in fact dragon lore states that male and female dragons can never form relationships. Colour me confused.
I didn't particularly like the plot, mainly because it showed the majority of the characters in an extremely negative light, in effect discouraging you from liking them and made them appear weak and stupid. I think I would've been better off reading the adult series first so I could get a better grounding and understanding of the world-building and of the dragon history and mythology.
Flying Blind was an average read for me, nothing supremely outstanding about it except it's lack of angst, love triangles and all-consuming romance, which I suppose does mean it stands out from the crowd after all. ;)(less)
A super strong beginning with a premise similar to TV’s Dollhouse which although interesting threw up more questions than answers.
Starters puts the sp...moreA super strong beginning with a premise similar to TV’s Dollhouse which although interesting threw up more questions than answers.
Starters puts the spotlight on a section of society which is sometimes overlooked or given the least respect but which will in future be the most powerful: the old. One day there will be fewer young people to support the ever-increasing number of elderly citizens, and here we can see how things could change in their favour.
Starters are under 19 years of age, those just starting out in life and Enders are the elderly. The generations inbetween have all died after biological warfare prompted the vaccination of the vulnerable –the old and the young, leaving those in the middle to die prolonged and agonizing deaths.
From the technology available I would guess we’re about 50 years in the future in a post-war America. The reasons for the war aren’t given. All we know is that Pacific Rim countries were involved and that America used an EMP weapon on them and they retaliated with a biologically engineered disease –game, set, match.
The age gap creates a huge gulf between the Starters and Enders. Old legislation addressing the increasing aging population means anyone under 19 cannot work and the large numbers of unclaimed minors whose family have died are unable to legitimately provide for themselves. Orphanages are basically workhouses with inmates treated as prisoners; no one wants to end up there. Squatting and thieving is how most get by, dodging the child-catching Marshals whenever possible. Adoption or fostering seems non-existent. Enders don’t care about Starters unless they’re family. I find this surprising because many Enders would’ve lost children, relatives. Some may be the last members of their families. Hasn’t loneliness spurred any to seek adoption?
The story follows Callie, a Starter, who lost her parents to the war. She has no grandparents and is forced to care for her 7-year-old brother by herself with a little help from Michael, a boy who used to live down the street from her pre-war. They’re currently squatting in an abandoned building practically starving. She can’t bear to watch her sick brother lose any more weight so she visits the not so ethical or legal, Prime Destinations, a place which rents out the bodies of teenagers to Enders who pay large sums of money to feel young again. If she does this she’ll have enough cash to pay for a home and medical care for her brother for the next few years.
For obvious reasons Callie’s reluctant to do this but she has little choice. Unfortunately things don’t go quite to plan, Callie suddenly wakes up in a nightclub instead of the lab and finds out the renter of her body wishes to murder someone. Scared, she pretends she’s her renter to safeguard her payment and attempts to stop her renter from committing this crime which will no doubt lead to her own execution.
Along the way she encounters other renters taking full advantage of their new temporary bodies and think nothing of stealing the lives of the body’s original owners. They take the old adage ‘Youth is wasted on the young’ to heart. These privileged Enders are selfish and greedy. The predatory gleam in the eyes of those at PD were quite creepy, eyeing up the young like they’re cattle for slaughter, salivating at the thought of inhabiting their supple bodies and smooth, wrinkle-free skin. *shudders*
These Enders aren’t your average old people. They live to 200 years old and appear to have no health problems due to advances in medicine, odd because not all Enders are rich and the last time I checked medical care wasn’t free in America so how come none of them appear hampered by age. Sure, some have wrinkles (and others get cosmetic surgery) and watery eyes but no problems running or experiencing a full working life.
Carrie also finds herself spending time with a handsome and rich teen, Blake. Her Prince Charming. Whenever she’s around him the urgency of her predicament, racing-against-time to stop the murder, fades into the background. A day out horse-riding with him and she forgets her responsibilities and starts comparing herself to Cinderella, wondering if the girl from the fairy tale ever considered telling her prince she’s a fraud. I never understood Blake’s appeal considering the over-familiar way he behaves, acting like they’re closer than the strangers they are. And Callie’s ambiguous relationship with Michael –are they more than friends? Even at the end it isn’t clear. Is a love triangle on the horizon?
Reading about how vaccinating the old and young from something so deadly implies this is the wrong course of action generally. Yes, the elderly are an invaluable source of knowledge, wisdom and experience but in a situation where you have limited resources and a serious biological threat, is protecting the weakest to the detriment of the strong really the right decision to make? In this case it left children without parents, manual labour is carried out by those children because the elderly were either too frail or simply felt they were above such work.
The plot is interesting if slightly predictable and the characters are quite thin, I didn't feel particularly attached to any of them. I did have some problems understanding the technology either because we’re given names of something but not what it does or because something we all ready have has been rebranded e.g. Z-mail a.k.a. e-mail, Zing a.k.a. text message –took me a bit to figure that one out. The focus of the book is on the very rich and the very poor Starters but we don't get to see those in the middle, nor do we see any poor Enders. The last page was intriguing but I'm not sure if I'll read the sequel for one reason: the possibility of a love triangle. The rest I believe will be developed and improved upon but I can't abide love triangles.
***Many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with a copy of this book in return for an honest review.***
Firefly with a paranormal twist. Better than Break Out, Deadly Pursuit continues from where BO we left off.
Al, the small teenage boy, turns out to be...moreFirefly with a paranormal twist. Better than Break Out, Deadly Pursuit continues from where BO we left off.
Al, the small teenage boy, turns out to be Alexia High Priestess of the Church of Everlasting Life, the 24 year old woman. Suffocating from boredom and lack of control over her high profile life she escapes, disguises herself as a boy and ends up on the spaceship El Cazador.
Both the Collective (people who've taken the expensive immortality treatment Meridian) and now the Church (believe in immortality of the soul which goes to heaven when they physically die) are chasing the crew for the recapture of Jon the werewolf assassin and the return of the High Priestess.
Despite her deception, the crew immediately defend Alexia. She's one of them and they're not going to hand her over if she doesn't want to go. Jon, on the other hand, is wanted for an unknown reason, pointing to a conspiracy so they're not giving him up after they were hired to risk their lives breaking him out of prison until they get some answers.
Alexia is instantly attracted to Jon. Unfortunately her disguise worked only too well, looking like a scruffy child. Her innocence is compounded by the fact that she's a virgin who's lived a sheltered life, and Jon doesn't do virgins. He's a rough, tough, manly 6ft 4 werewolf to her doll-like 5ft 1. He'd break her. But she knew what she wanted and was determined to experience as much of life as could before she was forced to return to her duty so the predator became the prey. Poor man, he had no chance. At least he has a new pack now i.e. the crew and a buddy in Rico despite him being a vampire.
Similarities to Firefly (Rico is Mal with fangs and a lust for blood) and the introduction of shapeshifters, my favourite supernaturals, meant I quite liked this. However, I'm slightly uncomfortable with how Alexia, seconds after being almost raped and killed on two occasions, jumped her mate-to-be's bones. That struck me as wrong since she was beaten and manhandled. I doubt I'd feel up to it if I was in her shoes.
Tannis is next to be matched up with her crush Callum Meridian, the man who first took the immortality treatment and has been transformed by it. They're hired as his bodyguards in the next book.
***Many thanks to Entangled Publishing for providing the ARC via Netgalley for an honest review.***(less)
Dangerous. This book is dangerous and disappointing. I can't tell you about the fury I felt at the very beginning of this book. The propaganda, myths...moreDangerous. This book is dangerous and disappointing. I can't tell you about the fury I felt at the very beginning of this book. The propaganda, myths and downright lies regarding the science of mental illness that only serve to misinform and hurt the vulnerable, those who live with these illnesses and their family and friends which is a good percentage of the population. Most will be affected by it at some point in their lives. And at this point you should know that my family has been touched by it and I've worked with people from the UK mental health charity, Mind.
In the Nature Vs. Nurture debate, on a scale, mental illness is overwhelmingly more about nurture and environment than genetics. If a group of people, like a family, are subjected to the same stressful environment then they're more likely to develop problems than one living a stress-free life. That has been proven.
The Glimpse's Big 3: schizophrenia, depression and anxiety - Most will personally experience a period of the latter two. Life is hard, that's a fact. You can't just permanently label someone as one of the Crazies for what could be an episode lasting only a few months and then going on to suffer no further problems. It doesn't work like that. Telling someone they're crazy could lead to a self-fulfilling prophecy where they live up to their label and if one hadn't been issued in the first place that person may be otherwise perfectly healthy. The book picks up on this to some extent but it would depend on the perceptiveness of the reader to fully understand the ramifications.
Suffering a mental illness does not automatically mean you're a lost cause. A great many are functional members of society with the help of appropriate treatment and support but here the treatment is horrifying and only hinders and hurts the recipients and could put people off from seeking help themselves. The book states that 40% of the population is Active or "Crazy", a Sleeper (guaranteed to become Active) or a Carrier of the faulty genes responsible. No Pures ever become Crazy. In reality, there are no absolutes.
This is the world Ana has grown up in. To fear the Crazies outside of the walls of her Community of Pures until she's outed as a Sleeper and enters the filthy, neglected and chaotic City (London) and observes the truth for herself. It's only much, much later that she discovers the possibility the Crazy-Pure dynamic is a lie used as a form of social control which just so happens to benefit the evil profit-hungry pharmaceutical companies forcing drugs on healthy individuals and leaving them to self-destruct from the resulting side-effects. But there is far too much doubt regarding the validity of this conspiracy, and comes too little too late for disgusted, insulted and vulnerable readers who may have abandoned the book by now.
The problem is the propaganda spouted by the Pures is too eerily reminiscent of the way society judges mental illness today; with ignorance and contempt for the perceived weakness and potential danger they could pose to others and a need to ignore, dismiss and hide the sufferers away. Anything to distance themselves from the "afflicted". In effect, this book confuses the educational messages mental health charities try to instill in the public by reinforcing the negative and unhelpful perceptions of mental illness in a time of (hopefully lessening) ignorance on the subject. And that's something I can't ignore because this book is being marketed to an impressionable section of society: teenagers -tomorrow's adults. How will they treat this subject after reading The Glimpse?
My anger stayed with me throughout the book but it didn't stop me from acknowledging the vividly realistic future England of the year 2041, the state of global politics and the effects of our Global Depression, the Petrol Wars and the very different transport system, the housing crisis worsened by high repossession rates, the use of cash is outlawed -credit transactions only (big brother), the bankers earning their pitchforks along with their horns, having a personal online presence is mandatory e.g. blogs, the dismantling of the United Kingdom -becoming independent countries once again, the media monopolizing power of the BBC, and the downfall of the music industry and Tesco, etc. It's jam-packed with genius world-building tidbits.
Seventeen-year-old Ana's toxic relationship with her father also had a ring of truth to it. As a character, Ana had formidable strength in the face of an illogical, nay farcical, situation she finds herself in of being the only sane person regularly put under the microscope by none too sane so-called professionals (many of whom enjoy torturing their "patients" and who see everything as a sign of mental illness), unaware of the very pressure they're putting her under would crack the average person faster than you could blink. She's been forced to rein in all emotion, remain composed at all times and conditioned to respond in a calculated manner during all mental health assessments and public appearances for fear of being judged "Active".
Religious people may also get upset with this book as it labels religious belief as a form of psychosis and in this future all religion is illegal because of it's ability to destroy 'every culture that ever existed.' Although there's a hint of the paranormal in the form of Enlightenment Glimpse -the ability to see a short vision, glimpse, of the future used by the only remaining religious organisation which is viewed as a strict brainwashing cult by the Pures.
The love triangle wasn't painful and appears to be resolved in this book. Both men, Jasper and Cole, are older by up to 6 years. For once, I approve of Ana's pick. The ending leaves things open for the sequel (which should resolve everything as Merle has a two-book deal) but it doesn't leave you hanging off a cliff.
Perhaps I'm being overly sensitive due to my personal connection with mental illness. Besides, dystopian fiction takes the negative aspects of society and exaggerates them to the extreme and usually acts as some sort of lesson against behaving in a certain manner. So maybe I have nothing to worry about and have no need to be upset, but then this is just my opinion.
Some may ask me why I read this book after reading the synopsis and knowing what to expect. A synopsis doesn't tell you everything. I have a keen interest in psychology (especially in fiction) and in truth, I assumed some disease had changed human genes somehow and the result altered the nature and development of mental illness. In any case, I'm glad I overcame strong emotions to read the whole book.
WARNING: contains violence, physical and psychological abuse, some gore, and rape.
***My thanks to Faber & Faber and Netgalley for the ARC in return for an honest review.***(less)
This book is all about th...moreWeird, wacky and whimsical worldbuilding, Batman!
Silly, stupid and senseless.
Depends on your outlook, and sense of humour.
This book is all about the worldbuilding. Forget about the plot, there isn't much of one and it isn't introduced until quite late into the book.
Croak is a town filled with places and characters with names linked to death e.g. Kilda, Mort, Corpp's (pub), Dead Weight (gym) etc, etc. Every single inhabitant, 82 including our MC, is an oddball and a former delinquent just like Lexington is at the beginning. A rebel without a cause. Punching, kicking and biting her way through life much to her own chagrin. She hates being unable to control her violent outbursts. But this makes her an exceptional Killer Grim -someone who separates the soul from the body at the precise moment of death with a single touch while her male 18-year-old partner, Driggs is a Culler who harvests the souls and transports them back to the Bank to be released into the Afterlife via the Atrium where Mr. Tell Tale Fart a.k.a. Edgar Allan Poe, Elvis and many a dead US president like to hangout to greet the newbies and socialise with the Grims.
Lex's new summer job seems to have a calming effect, giving her purpose and a sense of fulfillment. The town accepts, welcomes and understands her wild nature so she quickly feels at home despite the lack of internet and cell signal.
There's much to laugh at; the absurdity of death detecting jellyfish, the unsettling chemistry between Lex and Driggs and their inability to deal with it, but this balances out the horrors of reaping the horribly disfigured, the young and the murdered. Lex struggles to adhere to the rules by doing her job and only her job. She itches to chase after murderers and deal out some justice although she believes it's also unfair that people like John Wilkes Booth don't go to hell and reap a little of what they sow. And then Lex finds out why Killing is an intensely different experience for her in particular. (view spoiler)[She can damn people, anyone, whether living or on the brink of death. Condemn their souls to be locked out of the Afterlife. Burnt from the inside out -an exceptionally painful way to go.
I think it's a cop-out that this ability was stolen from her before she had a chance to decide what to do with it, if anything. It would've created conflict within herself and with the Croakers as they compare her to the serial killer from the 1800s and the current one. (hide spoiler)]
The romance with Driggs gets a tad uncomfortable with a stalker/paedophile vibe at one point which he fully admits. The plot served only to sever the only connection the MC had to her old New York City life: (view spoiler)[by killing off her twin sister (hide spoiler)]. No attempt was made to mask the identity of the serial killer so there was no mystery there.
Humour is subjective. Sometimes I enjoyed it immensely and others it was over the top and irritating. The same goes for the worldbuilding. It gets a little complicated which along with the absurdness of it all, makes everything harder to comprehend. However, the unusual writing was fresh and exciting and encouraged me to read more.
Croak is like Dead Like Me on steroids. And LSD. I didn't hate it although I can't say for sure whether I'll read the sequel or not.(less)
Not at all what I was expecting after the numerous 5 star reviews from the most discerning critics.
My UK cover:
Pretty unremarkable, right?
The US cove...moreNot at all what I was expecting after the numerous 5 star reviews from the most discerning critics.
My UK cover:
Pretty unremarkable, right?
The US cover:
Striking, wouldn't you say?
The US cover plus the 5 star ratings and general popularity spurred me on to grab this from the library. I'm very pleased I didn't pay for it. The UK cover advertised it perfectly i.e. not worth your time and cold hard cash, especially at hardcover prices.
Those loving reviews whispered in my ear to keep going, to not put it down because there's precious awesomeness to be had, until they were over-ridden by the knowledge that if my hands lowered at any moment I'd never raise them with this book open again.
The slow dry start, the excessively wordy prose, the change from kickass, bohemian, independent heroine raised by "monsters" to typical teenage starcrossed insta-love, and characters I couldn't connect with -made this difficult to read, let alone love.
I was confused by the change in Karou. I liked her better when she was artsy but jaded by her failed naive romance, running errands collecting the mysterious teeth for her Chimera family who raised her from a baby. How could she fall in love with someone who tried to kill her and not be wary of his beauty when the last beautiful man to enter her life broke her heart?
And then the twist. The memories were a flood of information filling in all of the gaps and answering questions one after another but by this point I was skimming to freedom, occasionally slowing to look for the golden nuggets others had obviously found in spades. This part was interesting, I'll admit, but it was like the book contained different stories that didn't quite come together as one tale.
We have: -- Karou's double life as the art student and the teeth trader who knows how to wield a knife. -- The inexplicable insta-love for the angel who tried to kill Karou. -- The recovery of memory. -- The repercussions of today's events in light of that memory.
It's a mixed jumble that left me frustrated and confused. There are some good ideas but they didn't really get to shine. Much of the story is in the last hundred pages and then the book ends abruptly.
I don't understand the hype surrounding this one. Unremarkable.(less)
I do enjoy a good dystopian, I do. But I have standards.
Any dystopian worth its salt absolutely must have:
Characters to root for The split POV between...moreI do enjoy a good dystopian, I do. But I have standards.
Any dystopian worth its salt absolutely must have:
Characters to root for The split POV between the hero and heroine didn't do them any favours. Their personalities are so similar they're practically the same person. Only their differing circumstances told me which POV I was reading.
Robin Hood Day and Maid Marian June are superheroes with superhuman abilities and a penchant for taking risks. They can scale multistory buildings in mere seconds, they possess super sharp eyesight, have excellent strategy and fighting skills and their IQs must match those of Mensa prodigies. Authority figures are there to be disobeyed and humiliated. No rule is too small to be broken. Murder is a line not to be crossed.
These are fifteen-year-olds we're talking about here. Fifteen.
Character growth is non-existent. I don't count the opening of June's eyes because it didn't change her outlook on life, she just channeled her efforts in a different direction.
Did I care for any of the characters? No. They never endeared themselves to me. Both character deaths meant nothing. We didn't get to know them therefore, no shock, no tears.
Solid worldbuilding How did this world come to be? I don't know. Do I fully understand the inner workings of the world as it is now? Not really. It's all very vague. There's a war going on and the baddies, this militaristic government, appear to be winning. But that's all in the background and not the focus of this book.
A worthy cause to get invested in Did I feel outraged by the events in the book? No. It was monotonous. The cause wasn't obvious from the beginning though it became a little clearer at the very end. The trials and the plague were downplayed when they should've been ever-present in the readers' minds for the revelations at the end to be meaningful. Mostly there's just a general disparity between the rich and the poor. Anyway, the more you read, the more predictable everything became. There is, however, a mission to be carried out in the next book, which may end up being far more interesting than this one. Legend may well be a prequel to the real action.
After several attempts to read this it failed to intrigue me, and because it's due back at the library I had to force myself to finish by skimming. I hope no one judges the dystopian genre by this book.