Irritating, egotistical, London-centric claptrap that prefers to employ the 'sledge-hammer' approach to moral-telling. Lacking in subtlety and stocked...moreIrritating, egotistical, London-centric claptrap that prefers to employ the 'sledge-hammer' approach to moral-telling. Lacking in subtlety and stocked full of clichés, this book is great if you're a Londoner and this is the first YA urban fantasy that you've read. Otherwise...ugh.
Okay, so maybe that's a little harsh.
Pollock has got an amazing imagination and some of the imagery is fantastic. The characters are great and diverse, although sometimes a little confusing. It's like Pollock thought of this amazing and magical place, full of weird and wonderful characters but then couldn't think of an equally great story, so bent it to fit the standard urban fantasy tale and forced a few morals in there to make it mean something.
I'm disappointed by my disappointment but it promised so much. Pollock is clearly a great writer with a wonderfully inventive mind - he just needs to steer clear of the clichés and over-told tales. (less)
Harkness has a talent for weaving tales together in way that is reminiscent of the tale itself. The narrative is thick and luxurious whilst the charac...moreHarkness has a talent for weaving tales together in way that is reminiscent of the tale itself. The narrative is thick and luxurious whilst the characters are deep and almost touchable. I got a little frustrated for the first 100-or-so pages that seemed to focus solely on the romance between Diana and Matthew, in fear that the entire book would continue in the vein and thus, lose it's excitement and pull. I worried for nothing, however, for as soon as Harkness got into her stride, the tale flowed out in a way that has made me eager to get my hands on the third book. Alas, I shall have to wait a little longer...(less)
The Book of Life is a fast-paced and thrilling conclusion to the All Souls Trilogy that was almost as enjoyable as the first two novels. Full of magic...moreThe Book of Life is a fast-paced and thrilling conclusion to the All Souls Trilogy that was almost as enjoyable as the first two novels. Full of magic, mayhem, and a chase to the end, it's hard not to get caught up in the story.
I've read reviews about how much the characters change and I agree that by the end of the third book, Diana is like a completely different person but in some ways, that makes sense. Although not based on a teenager, the trilogy is almost a coming of age story for Diana, wherein she discovers who and what she is. She is bound to be completely different by the end. Other characters changes are more difficult to explain away (apart from all the major life events that they go through) but are also less prominent.
I was amused by Harkness' desperate attempt to keep equality throughout the novel, which is remarkably difficult when you base an entire trilogy around a patriarchal system but she did it well enough, making Diana as an equally important family member as Matthew. Why, she even has Marcus (view spoiler)[allow women into the Knights of Lazarus! (hide spoiler)]. How Miriam hadn't fought for that years ago, given the strong and forbidding character that she is, I do not know.
The book is not all great though.
At some points, there are so many characters it is almost impossible to keep up with who is who. The only thing to do is to let go of trying to work out who is who and hope it all comes together in the end - it sort of does (or at least, not knowing doesn't cause any major problems).
I also found myself zoning out through the soppy love sections and especially during the long-winded birthing process. And the jumps between narrator? Frustrating and unnecessary. It almost reads like Harkness couldn't decide whether she wasn't to write from Diana's POV or not.
There are lots of loose ends that aren't tied up too.
(view spoiler)[ - The whole deal with the Book of Life was not satisfactorily dealt with. What was in it? Why? Who made it? If the rest of the world were so desperate to get their hands on it, why are they okay to just sit back and accept that the book is now part of Diana?
-What happened with Corra? Why did she feel so trapped - she was a familiar, she was where she was supposed to be. This plot point wasn't dealt with and I'm not even sure what the point of Corra was at all to be honest.
-How did Satu manage to hide the fact that she was a weaver for so long, given that we were already told that weavers can't cast other people's spells?
-How did the witch with vampire/witch lineage manage to hide that for so long, given that she and her family have lived such long lives - surely the vampires would have noticed that and wondered why this witch family had such fantastic longevity?
-Since Benjamin had already fathered a child, why didn't he come out about it sooner? Why was he only doing so much in apparent reaction to Matthew/Diana?
-If Matthew walked into Benjamin's trap purposely, why did he let himself get so beat up? Why didn't he come up with a better plan than that?
-Diana get so drained by the use of magic sometimes but at others, seems to use her magic like it's nothing.
-What the hell does Diana look like by the end of the book? Is she going to have to use a disuising spell forever to cover up all the crazy tattoos, shadows, scars, the tree coming out of her head, and the numbers whirring through her eyes?
If you want to read this book because you want to enjoy the flow of narrative, because you want to visit the characters again, because you want a book full of magic and ancient texts and intrigue, then great. But if you want answers to all the questions that you had through the first two books, and if you want everything tied up with a pretty bow on top, then you are probably going to be disappointed. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
I hate clichés like 'tour de force' and 'epic' but sometimes, they are the thoughts that come to mind. This is the perfect case in point. Seriously, w...moreI hate clichés like 'tour de force' and 'epic' but sometimes, they are the thoughts that come to mind. This is the perfect case in point. Seriously, what's not to love about witches and ancient manuscripts? Even the love story didn't aggravate me like they usually do. In fact, Diana and Matthew's love was an integral part of the over-arching story and wasn't 'over done' at all.
This is an excellent book that pulls you along with a force that's almost enough to take your breath away - and I wasn't ready for it to end (although in this respect, I feel somewhat cheated, as a chunk of the back pages are dedicated to bonus material).
If you love fantasy and old books, if you like interesting characters and stories that are forceful and exciting, this is the book for you. (less)
It's really difficult to say what The Meaning of Night is about. It's about one man on a mission to reclaim what he believes is rightfully is. It's ab...moreIt's really difficult to say what The Meaning of Night is about. It's about one man on a mission to reclaim what he believes is rightfully is. It's about a man who discovers a past that he didn't know he had. It's about lives lost to revenge, to anger, to emotion - and not necessarily through death. It's even a little bit about love.
It's a tale that becomes deeper entrenched in mystery with every moment of seeming revelation, that entwines you into pretzel of confusion, suspense, and yes, a little (happy) frustration too. It's got characters that are interesting and well developed (in their own way). It's a book that is filled with verbose narrative that is velvety and luxurious, language that you want to wrap yourself up in and fall deeper into its softness. It's a narrative that you'll fall in love with.
It's also a book that is not without its faults. As beautiful as the narrative is, there are long, winding passages describing places and houses, and perhaps a few other bits that I found myself skipping over. I can imagine some people falling in love with those long winding passages but for me, they were dull and perhaps a little poorly executed. What's more, the novel is littered with footnotes - a thinly veiled attempt at realism but actually, on the whole, they were distracting. It's seems peculiar to employ a method that takes the reader's attention away from your tale but it can work, if it's done well - like, for example, in Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell. But for Cox, the device was merely irritating and off-putting.
So no, it's not a book that is without flaws, but there is a tale that is gripping and a narrative that is warm, eloquent, and delicious. It's well worth the read, if you've the time to invest in it. (less)
This book reminded me of two things: how much I hated school and how much I like David Mitchell. Far from his best, Black Swan Green is still a light,...moreThis book reminded me of two things: how much I hated school and how much I like David Mitchell. Far from his best, Black Swan Green is still a light, enjoyable, coming of age novel. Mitchell has an exceptional way with words and he certainly captures the trials and tribulations of high school. (less)
Oddly melancholy and strangely light; I couldn't help but feel disappointed in both Firmin and the book as a whole. Such a great concept, lovely narra...moreOddly melancholy and strangely light; I couldn't help but feel disappointed in both Firmin and the book as a whole. Such a great concept, lovely narrative style, fantastic character, slipping in many great references, but it just...it didn't quite get there for me. Firmin's not quite meeting his potential is somewhat mirrored by the book as a whole. And I found myself strangely questioning the fallibility of Firmin's tale, too.
That said, it's an enjoyable light read. Perfect for a lazy Sunday afternoon. (less)
Shep Knacker has worked hard all his life, following rules and being the good-guy, saving money for an escape to the Afterlife in a third world countr...moreShep Knacker has worked hard all his life, following rules and being the good-guy, saving money for an escape to the Afterlife in a third world country. Upon his decision to leave, his wife drops a bombshell - she has cancer.
Shriver certainly knows how to rip your heart out and throw it at the wall, making you feel not only for the characters in this novel but also for a possible prospective future for yourself.
Although not perfect, with some odd plot lines (Jackson being one - heart-wrenching and even gut-wrenching, but still a little far-fetched in comparison to the stark reality of the rest of the novel), it is the first novel to ever bring a genuine tear to my eye. I'm usually so cold-hearted with books, films, anything fictional (it's made up, after all) but this cut so deeply and so closely that I couldn't help but do the thing I usually (and perhaps unfairly) sneer at.
It wasn't just the cancer that did it either, but the injustice of the system about which Shriver rants, the fear of laying on your deathbed and regretting you life - regretting that you hadn't made the most of it, the fear of having to watch someone you love die in unending pain, the fear of being unable to handle it and not giving them the attention they deserve. It's a horrible book, and yet it's a brilliant book - even a little uplifting at the end.
And I concur with the Literary Review quote that is splashed on the cover - it most certainly does make me appreciate our flailing NHS. I agree that our healthcare system is far from perfect, but being left with the alternative is unbearable and for all those who sneer at the NHS, I urge you to read this book. (less)
This is one of the most unusual and engrossing tales that I have read in a long time. The story is different and unique, pulling you along in a desper...moreThis is one of the most unusual and engrossing tales that I have read in a long time. The story is different and unique, pulling you along in a desperate clamour for more, whilst the narrative is thick, luscious, and velvety soft. To complete the set, Garland throws in a handful of exciting and intriguing characters. What's not to love?(less)
With its beautifully verbose narrative and perfectly pleasant pace (albeit a little dry at times), this book is for the language lover and the charact...moreWith its beautifully verbose narrative and perfectly pleasant pace (albeit a little dry at times), this book is for the language lover and the character lover; although perhaps should be left by the 'fast and furious story' lover. Although I'm not entirely sure I would want to befriend Serge Carrefax, this book certainly led me to feel a certain endearment and almost love towards him.
It's a good book, if a little hard-going at times. You must be dedicated, but it'll be worth it in the end. (less)