Not every author is capable of not only making a series interesting after the initial quest arc has completed, but Riordan delivers with full form. Th...moreNot every author is capable of not only making a series interesting after the initial quest arc has completed, but Riordan delivers with full form. The Heroes of Olympus sequel arc has once again proven to incorporate a brilliant blending of both the Greek and Roman mythological aspects without muddying them and creating confusion. It's a breath of fresh air to see the interactions between the Camp Half Blood characters and Percy once again, and the foreign nature of their quest keeps things interesting.
If all of that isn't enough to convince you to read this book, let me just say one more thing: the ending of this story is beautiful, depressing, and makes me anxious for the next book to come out. (less)
When I reviewed Blackout the first part of this story, I was massively upset at the cliffhanger. Well, it all...moreDamn. Now THIS is how you write a book!
When I reviewed Blackout the first part of this story, I was massively upset at the cliffhanger. Well, it all goes to show that I really need to pay attention to the backs of books, because as it turns out, Blackout is only the first part of the book. With All Clear, everything finally falls into place.
To say that I liked All Clear would be a bit of an understatement, I loved it! Since it started in the middle of a story, it didn’t have all the set up that Blackout did, and went right into the thick of the action. Polly, Mike, and Eileen are still stuck in WWII and trying desperately to get out, while back in Oxford in the future, their Professor and an old friend are doing everything they can to pull the stranded time-traveling historians out before they run out of time. After all, one can only be in a time period once in the world that these stories take place in, and the Space-Time continuum is a bitch and will kill them through circumstance in order to avoid paradoxes.
Connie Willis is an absolutely amazing author, which also means that she’s not always the kindest to her characters. There were several times while reading (well, listening, as it was an audiobook) that I had the following reaction: [image error]
Anyway, I’m sort of a huge fan of time travel stories, largely because I like the amount of thought that goes into tying everything together in the end. There were several times while reading this that I was jumping up and down in my seat as I realized something just before it was revealed. All Clear flawlessly pulls together all the strings that had been floating out in literary space and ties the story to a close in a nice neat bow.
One thing is sure now…the next book on my list is Doomsday Book (you know, the one that I was supposed to have read before reading Blackout/All clear…)
Oh, and last thought…I just found out that Connie Willis is a local author and did a writing seminar at my library last fall. Seriously, why can’t I have a time machine now? (less)
I guess that when it comes to Connie Willis’ books about time-traveling historians, I read everything in the wrong order. First I read Blackout/All C...more I guess that when it comes to Connie Willis’ books about time-traveling historians, I read everything in the wrong order. First I read Blackout/All Clear, and only recently actually went back to the beginning to read Doomsday Book. Now, although I really enjoyed Doomsday Book, I think that I liked it slightly less then the latter stories, which may largely be due to the fact that I am mildly obsessed with learning about World War II.
After reading Blackout/All Clear, it was nice to go back and actually read about some of the adventures that were alluded to in the newer volumes of the time-traveling historians series. If anything, it made me fall in love with Colin’s character even more, even though he is only a pesky little kid in this story. His character is among the most earnest in this whole series, and his actions during the epidemic that struck Oxford were all sorts of brilliant.
The best part of this book wasn’t the characters, however, or the setting, or even the wacky and wonderful sci-fi ideas behind the story…it was how Kivren’s plotline and Oxford’s plotline paralleled each other, which added an even heightened sense of urgency to the whole book. As Kivren finds herself trapped in the medieval period, Mr. Dunworthy and the whole of Oxford find themselves trapped inside quarantine. Then things go from bad to worse…in both plotlines. I found myself analyzing the events in one plotline in order to predict what would happen in the other…because that’s how I read.
Oh, and one final thing: I loved how the absolutely obnoxious bell chorus group was from Colorado. Connie Willis sure knows how to give a shout out to her home state! But seriously, they were ridiculous. (less)
Attention YA authors that want to write stories that add a modern flair to old mythology *coughAimeeCartercough*: Read. This. Book. Actually, read thi...moreAttention YA authors that want to write stories that add a modern flair to old mythology *coughAimeeCartercough*: Read. This. Book. Actually, read this entire series, and the entire Percy Jackson and the Olympians series as well. This book, this series, is how it should be done.
Over the past few years, I’ve noticed several authors attempting to take the Greek mythology and make it so that the gods are still present in modern society, or some variation thereupon. I’ve also noticed that said stories are absolutely butchering just about everything possible about the mythology upon which they are supposedly based. Now, don’t get me wrong, I have absolutely against unique stories, or using old stories to build new ones. What I do have an issue with is the usage of classic mythology and twisting it until it is unrecognizable and bastardized to be the fodder of some stupid Mary Sue fantasy. For further ranting, see my review on “The Goddess Test”.
My point in just giving that soapbox speech is that this book is everything that those other books wished they could be. In the first series “Percy Jackson and the Olympians,” Percy learns that he is a son of Poseidon, the sea god. He attends Camp Half Blood for other demigods where he learns that the Greek gods are real, and that they just follow where the heart of western civilization lies, which at the time of the story is America. Throughout the first series Percy encounters other creatures of Greek mythology, battles monsters, and faces challenges that fill a wonderful story arc that I really must insist on people reading. Where Rick Riordan goes right, however, is that he keeps the mythology true to its source. Even more importantly, he doesn’t make the foolish, inane, STUPID mistake that Hell = Hades!!! In fact, he even has Percy ask that very question in the first book to clarify that they are not the same thing.
Now, some may wonder why I’m saying all this about how well the author stuck to Greek mythology on a book in which the title contains the name of a Roman god. That’s where this second series has started to get good, because it turns out that in the world that this book takes place doesn’t just have a camp for the Greek gods’ children, but one for the children that they have while in their Roman aspect as well...but due to conflicts between the two camps in the past, the young demigods aren’t alerted to the existence of the other anymore. In “The Lost Hero” the first book of “The Heroes of Olympus” arc, Jason, a demigod like all the others, finds his way to Camp Half Blood with absolutely no memory and no idea who he is. What is eventually revealed is that he is a camper of the Roman camp who was taken and brought to the Greek camp for reasons that I won’t spoil here…at the same time, Percy has gone missing…
And that’s where “The Son of Neptune” takes off from. Percy finds his way to the Roman camp, to find that things are a bit different from the camp that he has flashes of memory about. Not much time passes before his friend Frank is assigned a quest, and Percy along with Frank’s friend Hazel accompany them to the land beyond the gods…Alaska. Despite the familiar quest sort of format, this book is fantastic, and the story is shiny and new. If there’s one thing I can say about Mr. Riordan, it’s that he never writes the same story twice. The writing style is engaging, and I wanted to find out what happened stat! For this reason, this book was good for my art homework here in college, as I was listening to it on audiobook and just worked for five hour straight increments…but bad for every other class since I wanted to just get out of class and continue listening. It got to the point that I would listen to it while eating breakfast in the dining hall (although considering that there aren’t too many people to eat breakfast with at 6:30 in the morning, it wasn’t exactly rude…)
Since the previous series was written in first person from Percy’s point of view, his character was pretty darn fleshed out by the time that he gets to this story, but even so he manages to have a decent amount of character development before the curtain fell. It was strange at first to read his character from a third person perspective in “The Son of Neptune” but after a chapter or two I didn’t even notice anymore. Where I think “The Son of Neptune” surpasses the previous book in its series is in the development of new characters. Both Frank and Hazel are very dynamic characters that have sucky lives a plethora of struggles and whose written voice is very clear. The ring of secrets that are kept throughout this book make for some interesting conflicts and since the viewpoint is passed around for the duration of the story, the reader knows more then the characters, which for me just made me want to read more because I wanted to know if they would let spill their terrible secrets, who would survive, and so much more.
Really, even if you have given up all hope on finding decent YA that doesn’t massacre mythology to the extent that it’s unrecognizable, read this series. These books are wonderful for any age, I read the first one in the “Olympians” series when I was in elementary school, and now even as a freshman in college I truly enjoyed the most recent one. The characters are great, the stories are fun, and the world building is fantastic!
Oh, and if you have just seen the movie and decided that these books weren’t for you, read the freaking first book! The movie is fun, yes, but the director took far too many creative freedoms with the plot, and the books are 100 times better (as the books almost always are.)
One last note...check out the cover of this book, it's absolutely gorgeous! John Rocco has outdone himself this time with this phenomenal, visually dynamic book cover. Of all his covers so far, this is my favorite yet! (less)
In my mental bookself (which is very well organized if I do say so myself), I have places to put great books, not so great books, romance, fantasy, th...moreIn my mental bookself (which is very well organized if I do say so myself), I have places to put great books, not so great books, romance, fantasy, things that I never want to read again, pretty much a spot for everything. City of Fallen Angels, however, I'm not so sure what to do with. Therefore, I shall review it by first saying what I didn't like about it, followed by what I did like, that way it ends on a positive note (at least so I'm told, the logic doesn't make all that much sense to me, but whatever).
First off, the cover. For those that are not already aware, I have a pet peeve about book covers that are just photos or photo-manipulations, most likely because I'm an aspiring illustrator. The exceptions to the rule are covers like all the other covers for the Immortal Instruments series, which are beautifully thought out and executed. The cover for City of Fallen Angels has a consistantly warm scheme that accentuates the feeling of fire, passion, and tumult, all of which are very present in this book. However, I am not too impressed with how it shows Clary's face, because the model for this doesn't seem to be consistent with the one that was on City of Ashes, and breaks the theme that was in the past books. The way that the two are posed also lends to a skewed feeling of the composition, which is quite unfortunate.
Okay, art snobbishness aside, onto the book. Beware of potential spoilers ahead! While I'm going to avoid letting slip big things like "Harry is a Horcrux" and "Darth is Luke's Father," there might be some little plot points that are revealed. Proceed with caution.
Cons: Jace. For the first third of this installment, Jace seems less of the deep, beautiful, caring character that we've grown to know over the last three books, and more of an Edward-during-New-Moon clone. Thank god the reasons for his actions and personality changes are explained! It is also hard to figure out where the plot of this book is going at first, but it takes off around the same point that Jace stops being a total douche.
As some of my friends that have not yet read this book will be disappointed to hear, there is an unfortunate lack of Magnus and Alec (but mainly Magnus) in this book. While I do appreciate that they are on a trip around the word as used to be done to avoid scandal when couples eloped, I did terribly miss the flamboyant High Warlock of Brooklyn.
One last thing before I dive into fangirlish gushing about this book is that I was somewhat disappointed at how helpless Clary seemed to be during the climax of this novel. Seriously, she's training to be a Shadowhunter, she possesses this amazing power, she was totally kick-ass during the last book...but then is largely indesposed during the big battle?! I don't know, it just seemed to be a bit of a step back in her characterization.
Allright, now let the gushing commence.
Pros: If you are a Simon fangirl, you will be very pleased with this book, as it is extremely Simon-centric. As a secret Simon fangirl myself (no, not because he's a vampire, I liked him when he was still the geeky best friend), I really enjoyed seeing his character grow throughout this book. But seriously, poor guy! It's like kicking a dog vampire while he's down!
The characters, both new and old, are absolutely fantastic in this book. In this story, a new character by the name of Kyle is introduced, and he's absolutely brilliant. Just wait until you discover his ties to several other characters, it's better then a drama television show! Camille, who was a rather important character in Clockwork Angel makes her reappearance, and let's just say that things get interesting very fast when she shows up. But who's side is she really on?
My absolute favorite thing in this book is how there are counterbalances for previous events. One of the most important aspects of creating a believable magic/power system is that nothing comes from nothing, and every action has a consequence. And boy, are the consequences addressed in this installment! The Mark of Cain that is both a blessing and a curse for Simon truly shows it's power and it a pivotal part of the plot. When I think about it, and the reason that he is wanted by those that do...goosebumps. Similarly, both Jace and Clary have to face the consequences for Clary's actions in the previous book when she asked to have Jace brought back after he was killed. This is a particularly potent aspect, because Clary now has to see Jace suffer for her selfish, beautiful, but still selfish, choice.
Overall, there was a lot more to this book that I liked then didn't like. It was absolutely fantastic upon first reading, and although the cliffhanger ending irks me, I'm still caught up in the fun of the story. The ending - wow, just wait! I guess that the fantastic story is enough for me to put my quibbles about the cover aside for now...
Every "Art of -" book should be like this. Every. Single. One.
The art is absolutely amazing, and this book doesn't just have conceptual sketches, but...moreEvery "Art of -" book should be like this. Every. Single. One.
The art is absolutely amazing, and this book doesn't just have conceptual sketches, but also includes the storyboards! These weren't any ordinary arrow-heavy, sketchy storyboards either, but fully realized graphic novel panes that perfectly captured the stylistic approaches that were eventually translated into film. It truly is amazing just how much of the action from the boards was replicated in the final cut, really showing the skill of the artists and the minds of the directors that worked with them.
Now, the concept art was what I really loved looking at in this book, especially since I'm going to college next year to major in art with a focus on illustration, and cinematic concept art is one of the paths that I'm really drawn to (sorry, bad pun) for a career choice. Due to the fact that the pre-production process for The Matrix occurred before the hostile takeover of digitally rendered concept drawings (drawn directly into the computer, which allows for easier alterations at the director's request), all the concept art was done in traditional mediums. Don't get me wrong, I love more modern concept art, but seeing all of these beautiful drawings that were created in traditional mediums really touched me (I'm an art geek okay, I know it sounds weird).
Not only does this book have the art, it also has the COMPLETE shooting script! It's fascinating to see all the slight alterations and action instructions, all impeccably written. From cut scenes to descriptions of what the characters were supposed to be thinking, this book has it all.
I would seriously recommend this book to anyone. It truly gives the scale of just how massive the creative process that goes into making a film, especially a film as great as The Matrix, and gives one a new appreciation for the unseen heroes of the movie industry...the artists. (less)