Being a noble family, it makes sense that the Vivaldis would disapprove of their son's interest in lowly Ellena di Rosalba, but the measures his mothe...moreBeing a noble family, it makes sense that the Vivaldis would disapprove of their son's interest in lowly Ellena di Rosalba, but the measures his mother takes to dissolve the relationship go too far. In her wish to avoid a blow to her reputation, the Marchesa latches eagerly onto any solution for breaking the lovers apart, making it easy for her conspirator to persuade her into drastic plans. Said conspirator is the grim monk Schedoni, helpful to the Marchesa only for promise of her backing his promotion. What reason would a man outside the family have for going to ultimate lengths to separate a pair? Simply because the young Vincentio di Vivaldi called him out in front of his peers, for conspiring with the Marchesa. A bit of embarrassment doesn't call for such ultimate vengeance, but that's the kind of man Schedoni is. So together these two crazy individuals set in motion the story's dismal, uncertain, perhaps partially supernatural (you'll have to read to see!) journey.
So it's the villains' characteristics of pride and hypocrisy intervene in the relationship of our heroes. Part of the hypocrisy deals with religion. After all, one character is both the greatest villain and a monk! There are others who in a smaller part demonstrate this hypocrisy. One, an Abbess, "was herself a woman of some distinction, believed that of all possible crimes, next to that of sacrilege, offences against persons of rank were least pardonable." Rather than extend mercy as should be a pious one's way, the Abbess employs utmost harshness, treatment undue to such a petty offense. She holds in her mind the wrong idea of what's most corrupt. The Abate, her superior, although he has "a temper and disposition directly opposite to those of the severe and violent abbess, he was equally selfish, and almost equally culpable, since by permitting evil, he was nearly as injurious in his conduct as those who planned it." He's too afraid of upsetting balance to save anyone from the unjustness of the Abbess: "...so fearful of being thought to do wrong that he seldom did right."
The book also eventually takes a part in the Inquisition, notorious for their horrible treatment of sometimes innocent people. Our hero Vivaldi calls out their actions as being contrary to their label of religion. Ellena at some point skillfully says to one of the religious misusers, regarding the topic of religion itself: "...'the very sentiment which bids us revere its mild and beneficent laws, bids us also reject the violators of them: when you command me to reverence my religion, you urge me to condemn yourself.'"
This preoccupation with religious hypocrisy is not a bitterness with all religion--the most goodhearted character in the book is a religious figure, foil to these characters--but as the Ellena says in the previous quote, a reminder that there are people who act out of accordance with the benevolence of their faith. Such people cannot really be considered religious though they claim to be so, and they use their good powers for evil. Acknowledging this sentiment in this book's time seems like it'd be pretty ballsy, especially for a woman, since although it's not secular, I feel like people would be quick to say it might be. Like it or not, everyone's human, and a broad label doesn't exempt one from one's wrongs.
As you can plainly see from the stars above, I enjoyed the story itself, but one aspect I'd like to touch upon is characterization. What would be two-dimensional characters by another author's hand, become fully realized in Radcliffe's details, which really sculpt the personalities.
Schedoni, defined by his evil, is complex in it. He's mysterious; we don't know what he's capable of, and that instills fear. He wiggles out of incrimination every time, so persuasive is he. His cunning enables him to concoct intricate plans, and he prides himself on locating where a person's susceptible, on discovering what motivates all including himself...yet for all the skill he possesses in examining his own self, he still lacks the ability to see that pride is his greatest incentive.
Some might say villains are easy to make interesting. Personally, I had the impression that hero and heroine of an old story fall always into the trap of their character roles, being made of nothing else. Radcliffe turns them into something more. I feel some authors might accidentally forcefeed us character details, i.e. Aubrey had curly blond hair and lived in the fourth room from the left. Her eyes were hazel and her favorite color was blue. No no, you have to try to camouflage it. Radcliffe, to me, was adept at this. It seemed like she was almost coyly inviting us to peer more closely at what she let on; we might have to turn her words over a bit as it's not spelled out. She nudges us to take notice of her character's weaknesses. For instance, our hero is not all hero in the sense that obstacles are not made to be vanquished for him. He was often in trouble away from his girlfriend, saved only by extenuating circumstances. Vivaldi, she shows us, lets his passion take over, though he is purehearted; his love for Ellena is strengthened in the face of adversity by the appeal of chivalry, but if his parents had tried another approach, perhaps the story would have gone on with him considering their wishes!
The idea of him bending to their will was a fear that kept Ellena from giving her heart to him. From the beginning, Ellena's not one for losing her sensibility over a love interest like the heroine cliches of other classic stories. She's struck with admiration for Vivaldi initially--but instead of letting herself get carried away with that, she checks herself, reining in her feelings because she knows that a man of obvious eminence is someone she'd probably not have a chance with. She seeks to distract herself, to forget about him in order to protect herself against possible feelings for him.
When they are a couple, Ellena holds her ground against deciding to marry Vivaldi. She won't do it when he wants, just to please him; she wants to do it when she's ready, not letting his wheedling get in the way of her idea of what's right to her . Namely, she refuses to marry until the Vivaldi family approves of her. First this is out of propriety, and she's meek at the idea of their condescension of her. Later, as she mulls it over, her sense of self makes her aware that she deserves their approval for her good character, and that she's not less desireable a match for her social standing. She shows fortitude in her bleak situation, telling herself, "the consciousness of deserving well will recall my presence of mind, which, permitting me to estimate the characters of my oppressors by their actions, will enable me also to despise their power." This enables her to challenge those who try to push her, despite their high positions. She even challenges Vivaldi once, when he says he fears she'll never marry him if she doesn't do it right that moment...she counters with saying something like, "well, if you can even have such distrust in me, perhaps your love isn't strong enough~"
In the beginning we see also that she sells her designs to pay for herself and her guardian, in defiance of the time in history when a woman would be given a low reputation for making her own living. So if you assume classics have a fault because they have "weak" heroines, I present to you Ellena! She's also a case for feminism well-maintained in a character. A character doesn't need to be a stereotypical anti-effeminate in order to be a feminist. In recent times female characters are being criticized for not being "strong" and it's refreshing to see a strong female encapsulated in a character from long ago times; it shows a character doesn't need to be literally beating people up in order to be "strong". Strength can be understated.
To wrap it up, I suggest this to people like myself who enjoy the gothic genre, or classics in general. People who don't usually like classics would be more inclined to be bored of it, as the horror is rather subtle for the tastes of today. I'll also say it might be difficult to get into each time you pick it up, since the style is antiquated of course, maybe moreso than other classics I've read. Once you keep going you'll eventually get into a flow and forget difficulty, unless you're unacquainted with some words and are interrupted by dictionary delving!(less)
"The vampire novel fans have been craving since Flowers in the Attic"
I don't know about the other fans, but I haven't been wanting the V.C.A. ghostwri...more"The vampire novel fans have been craving since Flowers in the Attic"
I don't know about the other fans, but I haven't been wanting the V.C.A. ghostwriter to jump on the vampire bandwagon, no.
Almost immediately from the book's start, our main character Lorelei brings up sexuality, wanting to explore hers, and her cold older sister calls her out on it, saying it's a sign that Lorelei's "ready" to start being useful to their father. At this point I was like, "oh snap, this book's gonna get real~" because the book was starting out controversial VERY quickly.
Sexuality is a focal point of the book. As it turns out, Lorelei and her sisters are tools of their father; their jobs are to seduce young men and bring them back home once a week so "Daddy" can feed on their blood. The blood of virile males keeps him strong and youthful-looking, despite his real age being centuries old. So we have a father who encourages his daughters to hone their sexual prowess...quite the opposite of any fathers that you or I might know.
The eldest daughter--in the book, Ava--has the responsibility of luring men all her own, while the younger ones have to wait for their turn to begin training, which is the point where Lorelei begins in the book. When Lorelei is ready, she will take Ava's place, and Ava will move on to her "destiny", like all other sisters before her. Lorelei remembers another before Ava named Brianna who eventually left for this unknown fate. When she left, a little girl named Marla appeared in the household, introduced by their father to be their new youngest sister. It's implied the circulation is constant, with another little girl appearing each time the eldest daughter leaves.
Lorelei owes her father her life, because she knows he took her from the orphanage, placing her into a life where she could have everything she wanted. Well, almost everything. She's always been taught never to let people get close to her, never to invite any friends over, and above all, never to fall in love, because "love is poison". Lorelei becomes wistful over these things she can't have, and wonders why her other sisters could care less about missing out on a normal life. It seems Lorelei's out of place among her sisters. It seems all that she has in common with them is beauty, and a desire to please her father. But when Lorelei becomes infatuated with a boy at her first training session, Lorelei finds her desire to please her dad comes into conflict with her desire to have a boyfriend...
I was surprised by this book, because past V.C.A. books have been just terribad, but this one had a good plot, in my opinion--juicy and disturbing, and I enjoyed it far more. I don't think there's been this good of a book in the V.C. line since the Shooting Stars series. Of course, there are flubs, because the ghostwriter felt the need to adhere to his formula to tightly. Lorelei is as bland a main character as past main characters. She declares herself to be soulmates with a boy after one night, but even if that's annoying, at least it's true to the teenage mind. The writing loses meaning at some points when it dwells too long in Lorelei's inner thoughts, because eventually it swells into a paragraph made up of her questions. "Will I be able to suppress my feelings? Or would I find myself rebelling against all I've known? What would happen to me? If a tree falls in the middle of a forest, does it make a sound?" Shut up already and quit stalling the plot.
And I'm happy to say that Neiderman didn't leave out his ridiculous metaphors and some other stupid choices that he's known for, so I can once again share with the readers some of the most laughable quotes!:
"When I first began to feel and see the changes in my body, the maturing that finally began to show, I felt a little like Cinderella. Something magical was happening to me..."
...it's pretty obvious the writer is a male, because I don't know any girl who can say that getting her period was a ~magical~ experience...
"His hands felt like mad little creatures at my body, in and over the undergarments..."
"Despite myself, I still felt a longing to be with him, to have fun together. Pressing all that down was like smothering a starving baby."
D: WTF. NOT NEARLY COMPARABLE. HOW COULD YOU EVEN MAKE A METAPHOR WITH THAT.
"We'd see the world through four eyes and not two, hear the world through four ears, feel it through twenty fingers, and smell it through two noses..."
Personifying your love with the qualities of a monster-creature that has double of every bodily organ...creates such a romantic picture.
" 'They'll go practically anywhere you want them to go and do whatever you want to do. Like puppies you feed tasty little tidbits after they go outside to pee. ' " (Ava says this to describe the male gender.)
Similarily (also from Ava):
" 'He's just like any man who stands when he pees...nothing more, nothing less.' "(less)
As the first-written of Austen's books, Northanger Abbey is accused of being "less polished" than her other works. I think I have to pronounce it as m...moreAs the first-written of Austen's books, Northanger Abbey is accused of being "less polished" than her other works. I think I have to pronounce it as my favorite of her works so far. I don't find it unpolished at all. The author's approach to storytelling in this one was delightful; I could sense she was enjoying herself the entire time. Maybe that's why I connected to her narration so greatly.
Most people have an idea of the general pattern of Austen's novels: they concern young women's different paths to marriage in the late 1700s. Austen's playful style makes this one stand out from her usual formula, however. Surely Catherine's leave of home will have her sister begging for letters; surely Catherine's mother will be all tearful over her departure. In reality, they're indifferent for the most part. We're told Mrs. Allen's very helpful...but all she does is remark on how unfortunate a situation is, and then talk of clothes. Isabella's very attentive to her friend...but while the author tells us this, Isabella's actually has her attentions elsewhere!
Along with the joy of Austen toying with what she says to be true, while showing us the ACTUAL truth, is Austen's omniscience as author. She's not just a mysterious narrator; she makes herself known in comments from time to time.
The main character has a love for gothic novels, so Austen pokes fun at Catherine by using gothic conventions for descriptions...when the conventions really are unsuited. Catherine wants to imagine herself as the living heroine of one of her books, so almost to please her, Austen calls Catherine a heroine. Then Austen goes on to say that Catherine's born of a somewhat low family, has no talents, isn't very bright, and whose looks are somewhat meh. In other words, she's really NOT a heroine. She just happens to be the main character. Catherine allows herself to associate commonplace people and objects with her favorite gothic conventions, also, which gets her in trouble at some point.
The characters themselves add to the humor of the story. None of them are likeable, except Henry Tilney and Eleanor Tilney. Catherine's plainness and naivete can be a basebreaker for many readers so as to make her almost UNLIKEABLE to them. Mrs. Allen's voidness; Isabella's coquettish, untrustworthy, and overdramatic nature; General Tilney's pride; the odious John Thorpe...all personalities just add to the humor.
Even the simple description of what goes on in the book shows its humor. Several people fighting to marry--or marry their children to--the family with the most money, and our protagonist standing amid these machinations, completely unaware!(less)
Many years ago, young Elizabeth used to visit her relatives at the impressive Bellenmore mansion. Beautiful place, but parts of the house gave her the...moreMany years ago, young Elizabeth used to visit her relatives at the impressive Bellenmore mansion. Beautiful place, but parts of the house gave her the heebie jeebies...the chandelier among them. And she didn't feel exactly comfortable among the family, save for her cousin, Mark. While his brother James gave Elizabeth the cold shoulder, Mark included her in his games and did all to make her feel welcome.
It's been years since those visits, but now that Elizabeth's governess job is coming to an end, she's been invited back to Bellenmore. Aunt Geraldine's overjoyed to see her. Grandmother's demeanor conveys indifference. James--one of Geraldine's two foster sons, the other being Mark--treats Elizabeth with warmth. His wife Armorel, though, could seem less harsh. The two have a son named Kenny, bedridden due to paralyzation.
Though there's been growth and new people in the house, the rest of the house seems unchanged. Like that ominous chandelier...
Elizabeth's supposed to feel welcome, but from the very beginning, she's made uneasy by spoken and unspoken secrets. How could her cousin Mark, so loving to her as a child, be suspected of murdering his own wife, and why is he called a charlatan? Why did that little woman tell Elizabeth to beware? What is it that her family's not telling her? As time goes on, Elizabeth feels more distrustful and endangered. It occurs to her that the family's trapped the house's secrets, so to speak.
As you can see, this book has all the makings of a gothic novel. The writing style, though, seems almost identical to that of V.C. Andrews's ghostwriter...meaning it's slightly cheesy and filled with cliches. And the characters don't have strong personalities. Actually, when I was more than halfway through the book, I realized I didn't know the main character's name! It HAD been mentioned before, but I couldn't remember it, and that's...pretty bad. It just shows how flat the characterization fell. All that's worth noting of Elizabeth is that she's prone to speaking her opinion at times, and gasp! She throws something to the floor once! What a temper! I suppose this is done to show how "different" she is from the others. It's mentioned more than once that Elizabeth's lower upbringing (her father ostracized himself from his wealthy family members by becoming a seafaring man, and left Elizabeth in the care of her nurse) sets her far apart from the household members. Her brief stay at a boarding school in Brussels apparently couldn't rid her of substandard habits and manners. But uh...there's really no evidence of this. Elizabeth acts the same as everyone else, so I don't see how her low ubringing should be evident.
A bit of the plot doesn't quite make sense, either. The reason for Elizabeth's coming to Bellenmore seems more to be because the author just wanted so badly to throw her into the setting, without much of a good justification for doing so. At one point, the author seems to be at a loss for what Elizabeth's been occupying herself with, so Elizabeth's given a job as secretary to James. Also, why would a certain character accept an offer of marriage, after knowing their suitor's been dallying with another person up to one day before the proposal?
I think I would've enjoyed this book more if it was written in a different writing style. The general plot was nice enough. The overall voice was just annoying and trite.(less)
Following the battle in the last book, Gemma finds herself with powers she alone can use. She had to bind the magic to herself in order to defeat Circ...moreFollowing the battle in the last book, Gemma finds herself with powers she alone can use. She had to bind the magic to herself in order to defeat Circe. Felicity and Ann are dependent on her now to be able to enter the Realms, but Gemma can't bring herself to conjure up the door, as hard as she tries. Finally, one night, Gemma finds herself pulled (called to) the East Wing, which is undergoing renovations. Here she finds a door waiting, and it leads to the Realms; she doesn't have to conjure a door herself, after all.
The girls rejoice in their return to a world where they're free, but Gemma soon learns that with her new powers has come responsibility. The Hajin and the forest creatures want a share in the magic after helping out in the last battle; that was the bargain made. Gemma stalls for time because she doesn't want to lose the power she has yet, the power that can change the lives of her friends. There are other problems that can't be put off, though. Gemma begins to have visions of Circe, which hint that there may be life in that terrible woman yet...and visions of a new woman in lavendar, who's trying to tell Gemma something. And in the normal world of Spence, the girls' debuts inch closer.
As time goes on, the others grow restless, because they all want what Gemma has: the magic. Gemma becomes unsure of her faith in people; who's there to trust? Who really has her best wishes at heart...if anyone does? Is EVERYONE against her? The strain of this suspicion grows stronger and stronger until Gemma's living on the edge at all times. Is there a way to destroy a new threat, and still be able to help everyone in the end?
***SPOILERS FROM HERE ON OUT***
This book's a rarity to the ranks of teen novels, along with its two predecessors. After all, it carries so many genres. Historical fiction, as the real world portions take place in Victorian England. Fantasy, which the Realms and the magic represent. There's horror and gothic elements as well (this trilogy is one of few books that can be considered gothic in our modern times).
I left the romance for last; these bits were tough to read through, because I was reminded of all of those awful books floating around out there that are set in earlier periods of history...settings used just for the author to place his/her smut therein. Fortunately, there aren't so many such scenes in this book, and Bray redeems herself by casting off a happy ending for the couple. The ending's made romance fans declare themselves mortal enemies to Bray. Can't they see that everything was leading up to such an ending? Bray herself explains:
But he's the character who believes in fate. He's always had a certain suicidal ideation about him. A grandiose notion of saving the world through personal sacrifice.
She's also hinted that there's hope for the relationship yet; the magic is not fully understood yet. Perhaps something can be done to tweak his fate further still. It just annoys me that people will rate a book one star just because they're butthurt that a romance didn't work out. Please see the book as a whole and judge it by that.
This book's also chock-full of conflicts of the times: there are racial issues (the gypsies near Spence being discriminated by the workers; Gemma's and Kartik's struggle with their love because of their differing positions in society). A small light is also cast on worker's rights (Pippa's group in the Borderlands are girls who've been forced to work in factories with terrible conditions, which led to them dying in a fire; most of them were forced to work at an appallingly young age).
Most of the messages Bray sticks in relate to women's rights. Through our protagonist, we get to hear the thoughts many women must've harbored in the Victorian Age. "Why don't I have a say in my own life?" Ann's a poor girl who's known all her life that she can't amount to anything because of her status. She's burdened, but accepts her fate morosely. Felicity, for all her bold nature, can't take her life by the reins simply because of the social restraints of her gender. In her indignity, she lashes out against social norms as much as possible, but even the small bit she chooses to do has put her character into question. Her ways shock those around her at times, to the point where it's unsure anyone will sponsor her for her debut. As for Gemma, not only her magic sets her apart, but her thoughts, as well. She understands that women are hampered down, and the knowledge that nothing can be done about it weighs heavily on her mind.
Some say Bray's spotlight on women's right is too overpowering. There are some bits she throws in which I think are a BIT much: trousers as a symbol for power, and Felicity saying she's going to wear them in the end; Madame LeFarge saying she'll have some say in her husband's decisions as an inspector; Felicity's offense that women have to take on the man's last name in marriage. There's also one moment I disliked extremely at the very end, where Gemma demands that Mrs. Nightwing teach the girls to rebel against their gender roles, basically. Those tiny parts are just beating the message to death, but the overall message's depth which lies WITHIN the plot does work well, I think. The outright parts do not.
Bray, through Gemma, tells us subtly that humans are the same: those who lived in past times, if they were to meet us, would still find much in common with us, despite the different conditions we grew up in. Bray makes it so that we can take what we know of our modern world and notice comparisons in the Victorian lives she portrays. This is done well with Gemma's family. Don't we all have family issues? Don't some of us have a parent who's died, or one who's been lost to addiction? Victorian girls are no different from us in that way.
Some of the Victorian-to-modern connections don't work so well for me, however. Smaller examples are Ann's cutting, Felicity's sexual abuse, and Mina's cocaine use; yes, they might have happened back then and certainly happen now, but I feel that those moments were stretches. Gemma also ruminates on her disbelief in a higher power at one point, which I kind of frowned upon just because I believe an author shouldn't come right out and say "here's my view on religion".
On a larger scale is the homosexuality which comes through later on in the book. I'm not against homosexuality and the pairing did not offend me; that's not my problem here. My issue is with the believablity of the relationship. I could definitely see an unrequited love from Felicity, but Pippa was enamored of the knight she'd met in the realms, way back before the end of the first book. Her VERY REASON for choosing to stay in the Realms was so she could be with him, more or less. So what's this about her having romantic feelings for Felicity? One could say sexuality is ambiguous and leave it at that, but why would she fawn over the knight so much if she loved Fee? Why would she choose him over Fee, even if staying with Fee meant she had to marry Mr. Bumble? Also, when Fee sees Gemma sometime later, after Pippa's death, Fee's joking and giggling. I find it hard to believe that she'd be able to act this way after losing someone so dear to her. Not to mention that when Fee encounters the illusionist's copy of The Picture of Dorian Gray, she hints that she knows about the author's sexuality and seems to disapprove of it.
I just had to say something about that, because it makes one question the reveal of Fee and Pip's romance. That being said, I DID find that I could see something between the two even before that. It was just subtext, though. Can't two people have such a close relationship without being labelled as homosexuals? Though in their case, they turned out to actually be ones. After Gemma finds out, she starts to wonder to herself if Fee had such feelings for her as well, and if maybe Gemma secretly returned those feelings in some way. These same thoughts would go through a girl's mind today, if she found out her best friend was a lesbian. However, I still think the inclusion of Gemma's thoughts was unnecessary, maybe almost too modern.
Now to get to what I loved most about the book. I really love the idea of a character being so out of place, because I can identify with that. Gemma thinks differently than most anyone in her world, especially because she's seen the possibility of a world that has more to offer...a world that most wouldn't believe in. The other girls of Spence see a bit too much, so Gemma erases their memories, except...
I leave them with one small token of their evening: doubt. A feeling that perhaps there is something more. It is nothing more than a seed.
I love that so much, the idea that she's changed them to question from now on, to see a possibility in what they would have conditioned themselves to ignore, before.
Gemma's tribulations have also changed her thoughts. She's had losses, as all protagonists of great stories have had:
The gentle laps of the river's current are but the whispered names of what had been lost: my mother, Amar, Carolina, Mother Elena, Miss Moore, Miss McCleethy, and some part of myself that I can't get back.
The best stories are those with loss, because they change the character greatly. Sometimes they can't bear the loss, but most will themselves on, and find themselves stronger for what they've had to bear. Gemma is one of the latter. After being so changed, she can't fool herself that she can fit in with this world, where girls engage in frivolities only. As she explains to her father:
I don't wish to spend my days making myself small enough to fit into such a narrow world. I cannot speak with their bit in my mouth.
Yes, there were bits that didn't work so well with me, and for whatever reason, I found that I didn't enjoy it as much as the last two. And I can't stand Gemma, personally. I never have, but the story's too great that it overcomes that for me. And quotes like the ones above impressed me very much. Thank you, Libba Bray, for doing something different.(less)
A short summary is basically needless for this book. One who's read its predecessor Shooting Stars--the compilation of the four girls' separate storie...moreA short summary is basically needless for this book. One who's read its predecessor Shooting Stars--the compilation of the four girls' separate stories--knows that each protagonist ended up with a place of enrollment in the Senetsky academy for a study of performance art. It's obvious this next novel is about their time of residence in the academy.
It's also just about as obvious that the book contains some of the infamous V.C. Andrews plot points: outrageous family scandal, dark secrets, tension, and breasts (Neiderman's personal favorite). A newer reader might not have such expectations, especially considering the last book was very tame (this is a big reason why I enjoyed that book more than the ghostwriter's other literary progeny...each girl's life seemed more believeable than his usual "let's just throw together some wacky shit"). Well, okay, Rose's and Cinnamon's are more unusual than what could occur in a normal girl's life, but believe me, they're much better than the usual rides he takes us on.
Unfortunately, this book falls way, way behind the one that came before it...in all points.
1.) The author decided to pick one girl and stick with her viewpoint throughout the entire novel. After reading each girl's separate point of view just before, it's an uncomfortable change...it doesn't seem to work somehow. We go from being inside each girl's head, first person, to having to read about the other three only from Honey's point of view. It's frustrating, especially if the reader feels more connected to one of the other girls, rather than the protagonist chosen to relate the story.
That being said, I don't think it would be possible for the author to assign a different girl's viewpoint to each different chapter. If it were a novel in which the characters do separate things at separate times, in different places, that method would work, but here the girls are all in the same place at the same time. They're not separated except when they have separate lessons or when they go to sleep. There isn't enough difference in their day-to-day life to make the separate viewpoint work. I acknowledge that. Yet, it still feels like sabotaging the original stories to just fall back on one girl here. We spent time in each girl's mind before, getting to know her, only to now be able to see them there, but only through the veil of Honey's interactions with them, not able to get closer. Which leads to...
2.) ...character personality deterioration (ooh, that's a nice term, should I capitalize to make it "a thing"? ;D). We can have a sense of our former protagonists' selves; they're all basically the same girl since they all seemingly have the same train of thought. One girl will say something and then another will finish the sentence, and I get the impression that Neiderman was just keeping track of how many times each person got to say something so that he could be like, "Hmm, well, Rose has five sentences so far and the other girls have eight; I should let her say this instead of letting Honey say it."
And since they otherwise seem to be the same girl, Neiderman decided he'd just give each girl one defining characteristic and exaggerate it to give some semblance of difference to each. Cinnamon becomes the Fearless Leader, the one who acts as spokesperson for all the girls and doesn't afraid of anything. Ice becomes the Sassy Black Girl, which I have a problem with not just because of the racial stereotype but also because...she's not the Ice we were introduced to. The author still makes a point of saying how silent she is, and that her words are all the more intimidating just because she's silent, but Ice didn't originally ever make sarcastic jabs at anyone. Even if she was angry--which she seemed incapable of being, almost--she kept her thoughts to herself. So what is this now?
Even our voice of the story--who, being such, should have more opportunity for a fleshed out personality--is given the same treatment. Honey's mostly bland in personality save for being the Innocent One; although we don't read anything about her that makes her seem more naive in thought, every character who comes across Honey mentions how ~she's so different from everyone else, so innocent~ so hey, if they say it, it must be true.
And Rose...Rose is the Pretty One Who Says "Ya'll" All The Time.
3.) continuity error. Some others might say this is minor, but Balwin Noble was my favorite boyfran out of all the protagonists' boy-toys in the previous novel. Before Ice gets accepted to the Senetsky Academy, she and Balwin have a falling out, but it gets mended. I assumed they'd still be together here, yet when asked if she has a boyfriend, Ice says no and doesn't even mention Balwin at any point. He had such an important role in helping her get where she was that I find that a peeve point.
4.) the cheesiness of the sex scene. "And when he touched me, I felt like we were ascending to a cloud, high above all creation in our love; I could feel our minds becoming one, coloring our very worlds with rainbow joy~" etc. etc. and the like (not a direct quote, but seriously, the real thing is JUST LIKE THIS). HAHA, gurl no, he's just a random who'll be out of your life in a few months since you guys have nothing to talk about and don't even see each other but once every 15 weeks. He's a college guy, come on, he's not thinking that you two are having some spiritual transcendental journey; he's just excited to dip his wick. Let's be real nao.
5.) the unrealistic closeness of the girls. Neiderman describes them being "like sisters". They all get along right off the bat. Honey and Rose seem easy to get along with, but Cinnamon's extreme gothic look would, in real life, likely be off-putting to the majority of people, and I feel that girls like Honey and Rose would be more likely to at least be uncomfortable about her for a long while. Furthermore, Cinnamon always seemed to be pleased at the idea of turning people away purposely, so I'm surprised she was treating them as friends immediately. Same goes for Ice, except in her standoffish ways. She and Cinnamon NEVER had any girl friends, and Cinnamon at least was always outgoing...Ice barely spoke to people before!
Their "sisterhood" is just built up way too quickly to be believeable. Especially because right away, they all seemed willing to share the details of their lives that were most mortifying. They'd just be sitting around when Rose, for instance, would be like, "Yeah, my dad got another woman pregnant while he was married to my mom and then killed himself..."...that is not something anyone would tell people after knowing them for so short a time! Even people who have been extremely close to others for a long time would not come forward with something like that so easily!
I find it hard to buy the concept of their closeness when there isn't even any dynamic of their friendship really featured in the novel...more like the author's attempts to force them together and claim they're like foster sisters just so plot can unfold. I'm not getting it.
6.) bad ending. Not only is it rushed, but there's no real tying up of conflict. Someone who's been isolated in one room for years has also just been raped several times, and we don't get to see what's done for the poor girl! Everyone's just like, "welp, now that we've explained things, time to get back to the party! Rape victim? What rape victim?" and then cut to Honey talking about being on stage years in the future, which means we also don't find out what becomes of each girl (though I guess we're just to assume they all go on to be super successful and maintain their bond for the rest of their lives, w/e). ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
trashy trash. Though I don't think it's as bad as Runaways (...maybe), the sequel to Orphans, another story about four girls. Like this one, it starts out with four separate novellas and then the sequel is in first person P.O.V. from one of the girls. And like this sequel, that one is absolutely terrible, so this sequel formula doesn't have a history of going well. I know Wildflowers, another series, starts out with four separate protagonist P.O.V.'s and although I haven't read the sequel, I'm pretttttyyy sure it'll be the same thing there, and maybe also in the Broken Wings series. Just fair warning.(less)