DNF. Though I was deeply intrigued and engrossed in Robert's (the student) story and though I don't necessarily find it skeevy that a young person is...moreDNF. Though I was deeply intrigued and engrossed in Robert's (the student) story and though I don't necessarily find it skeevy that a young person is attracted to an older one, I couldn't help but find Andrew's (the teacher) storyline incredibly problematic and unpleasant.
Though I'm often a fan of age-gap relationships, it becomes a hard sell when the relationship is between a teenager and an adult. It becomes even more difficult to buy into as a good, healthy relationship when it's between a high school student and his teacher. There's just too great a power imbalance there and no good way to redress it within the confines of the student still being a student of the teacher.
Further, when, as in Robert's case, the student is ALSO going through incredible mental and emotional turmoil, it just can't feel like anything but the teacher taking advantage of the student at a time that the student is most vulnerable. It's gross. And, again, while I can absolutely understand Robert's desire for Andrew, I just can't get behind Andrew--even if he has feelings for Robert--acting on those feelings. It's a boundary that he just absolutely should not cross and I can't come up with any good reason for him to cross it, period.
It's possible that Trumble addresses this later in the book than I got, but given some key passages that felt like Trumble trying to justify student/teacher relationships, I don't trust Trumble to take me safely through this journey and I'm not enjoying where it is or where it seems to be going. This doesn't feel like a romance. It feels like neglectful abuse and that's not what I wanted to read.(less)
Well, while I made it past the point where my reading pal (my husband) quit Terms of Enlistment (36% on Kindle, compared to his 24%), I'm also giving...moreWell, while I made it past the point where my reading pal (my husband) quit Terms of Enlistment (36% on Kindle, compared to his 24%), I'm also giving up the ghost on this book.
Terms of Enlistment isn't a terrible book. Which is, in and of itself, a sticking point. If it were a better book, or if it were a more hilariously bad book, I'd probably be more inclined to stick with it. But it's not good enough to keep my interest and it's not bad enough to trigger my train-wreck syndrome. What it is, is a pretty bog-standard Military SF book, without enough world-building, characterization or plain old charisma to motivate me to keep going. With some weird Othering of women and Blacks thrown in for lagniappe.
Marko Kloos is a capable writer. There's no phraseology here to make me swoon, but he communicates lucidly and with a good sense of visual/spatial dynamics, which is pretty crucial for SF in general and MilSF in particular. I never felt confused about what was going on. It's a minor nitpick that Kloos tends to use language very repetitively, using the exact same words/phrase to describe a thing over and over again, but not so much I wouldn't have kept reading if he had managed to capture my interest better. I was more thrown by his insistence of calling all the characters, collectively, either "guys" or "girls", which I could sort of handwave as a character trait, as his hero, Andrew Grayson, reminded me of a latter day Holden Caulfield, with all the socially stunted immaturity implied, but it still stuck out as weird and slightly unpleasant.
I felt his greater failing was in creating—or really failing to create—Andrew Grayson as a fully realized character. I was reading a review for a different book where the reviewer commented that the traits of the main character were unremarkable taken individually, but didn't hold up when put together. I feel the same way about Andrew Grayson. Though Grayson grew up in a poor, inner city environment, the language of his POV (especially at the outset) is stilted, over-educated, lacking in slang and idiom, lacking that lived-in feeling to imply that Grayson's life didn't begin the same moment the story did. This is especially notable because, once Grayson enters the military, he noticeably does pick up a more consistently conversant and natural manner of expression.
Similarly, though Grayson is apparently completely socially isolated and friendless in his civilian life (when leaving Boston—and though he's leaving both his parents behind—he states that he wouldn't feel a thing if Boston was obliterated in that moment; the only goodbyes he makes are to his parents & we are repeatedly told—even after he's in the military—how little he thinks about or cares about Boston), and though he comes across as the slightly sociopathic loner you might expect to show up at his school with an arsenal, once he gets into the military, Grayson has no awkwardness or problems making friends among his fellow recruits and effortlessly starts a romantic relationship with one of them; a relationship that—while, by necessity, very short in duration—lingers after they're separated by their post-Basic assignments and he reminisces and thinks about her in a way he thinks of no other person from his past, including his parents. Now, on the one hand, his father is described as your stereotypical abusive asshole, and, again, I can kind of hand wave his social/emotional disconnect as similarly stereotypical for an abused child…but then there would need to be a corresponding difficulty in making/maintaining relationships once he got into the military. But the complete social isolation and disconnect on one side of the equation and then a perfectly normal ability to socialize and form connections on the other, and the fact that Grayson is, in the military, actually a reasonably popular guy among his fellows does not hold up.
The book also has problems with race and gender. For example, of the three drill sergeants in charge of Grayson's squad, the two White sergeants are brisk and no-nonsense, allowing no chance for hanky-panky, but the one Black sergeant is known to sleep soundly and through the night, allowing slack on his shift. When Grayson is out of training and assigned to his 'real' team, Jackson, the one Black teammate is the one who is standoffish and "intimidating", and he can form no connection with her as he does with his White teammates. Further, Black characters are always called out by race while (presumable) Latin@s are only called out by their surnames and we have (to where I quit) no known Asian representation or of any other ethnicity.
I also think that some of this would be more excusable or understandable if Kloos had bothered to build up the characters to be anything more than Harris, the Black drill sergeant who sleeps, or Jackson, the intimidating Black teammate. Even with Andrew Grayson himself, there's not much there to grab onto. He has as much characterization as the avatar for a first person shooter video game…which is actually what much of this feels like. As I said to my husband, I know far more about Grayson's gun than I do about Grayson himself. Though he's formed this apparently deep connection with his fellow soldier…we don't even know her first name. Grayson always refers to her by her surname.
Speaking of gender… My first impression was that Kloos actually does a good job of not being sexist; his military is co-ed and fairly evenly split. The women are not shown as being any less capable or more poorly performing than the men. Initially—in the first chapters regarding Basic Training—Kloos doesn't necessarily distinguish much between the men and women. But, as the story went on, just as Kloos felt the need to draw attention to which characters were Black at every opportunity, he seemed to feel the need to increasingly draw attention to which characters were women, and in the most annoying, patronizing of ways:
"…then Stratton is by my side, and he clocks the second Marine with a textbook jab right to the tip of the chin. To my left, two Marines try to tackle Hansen, whose ponytail bounces as she sidesteps one of them gracefully before kneeing the second Marine…"
It's never anything overtly offensive and any one instance probably wouldn't bother me, but it becomes a problem in aggregate and one that increases in frequency as time goes on.
And, bottom line, there's nothing here of what Stephen King calls the gimme. We don't know enough about the world or its politics to give a crap about this story politically or to be excited by any new, cool, alien environments. We don't know enough about Grayson—and what we do know is (for me, at least) kind of repellant—to really care about what happens to him. We don't know anyone else in the story. And the military stuff isn't original or interesting enough to geek out over the cool tech or anything. When I was a younger reader, the excitement of just having a book to read was enough. Now that I'm older, more jaded, and have more disposable income to buy my own books, I find a book needs to work harder to give me a reason to keep going. Because there are always other books.
I love May-December romances, which is what inspired me to pick up this book, but after picking up a sample from Amazon, which contained the entire fi...moreI love May-December romances, which is what inspired me to pick up this book, but after picking up a sample from Amazon, which contained the entire first story of the anthology and about half of a second, I can see that Schecter's writing style isn't for me.
Both stories were a lot more tell than show, felt woefully underdeveloped and the second story kept flip flopping POV in the middle of scenes, which is a huge peeve of mine. (less)
I wanted to like this collection so much more than I did. I feel like I should go on with it, because, as an anthology, there's every chance that, des...moreI wanted to like this collection so much more than I did. I feel like I should go on with it, because, as an anthology, there's every chance that, despite my extreme dissatisfaction with the stories I read, the ones that come after it could be wonderful. But I've been so deeply disappointed with the ones I read that I can't find any enthusiasm or desire to keep going. Maybe that could change someday, but right now, I'm just going to file this under "did not finish."
Having read and participated in some of the discussion about the fairly pervasive whiteness and Eurocentrism of the SFF genre, I was really extremely excited by the prospect of this anthology, but having read through the first half-dozen stories, the actuality didn't meet those expectations.
It's, largely, very much a personal, stylistic problem. Of those stories I read, most of them were so stylized and impressionistic as to be almost incomprehensible and I much prefer a more linear narrative. Secondly, most of the stories I read were not actually stories; they were more vignettes and character studies, with no real beginning, middle, end or conflict to speak of, which, again, made them far less interesting or entertaining to me.
In some sense, this makes me wonder/worry that my tastes are so hopelessly Eurocentric that I can't appreciate other styles, other means of telling stories, but I don't entirely believe that to be the case and, even if it was/is, it's not something I'm able to change just by wishing it so.
I do hope to pick this up again at some point and I hope, even more so, to find stories that appeal to me and my taste, but I don't anticipate it being any time soon.(less)
Less than a hundred pages in and this story had just hit too many of my pet peeves for the genre while not being well written enough to make me overlo...moreLess than a hundred pages in and this story had just hit too many of my pet peeves for the genre while not being well written enough to make me overlook them. It's not terrible, but it's also not interesting enough to put myself through it. (less)
Another did not finish. I had reservations after reading The Warded Man and seeing his treatment of women and the Krasians, an Arab-like nation and th...moreAnother did not finish. I had reservations after reading The Warded Man and seeing his treatment of women and the Krasians, an Arab-like nation and the only brown people in the world; Desert Spear delivered on all those reservations and then some. The depiction of the Krasians is so completely and obviously racist that not even Brett's admitted writing talents can save it or make me interested in finishing a book that so obviously envisions brown people as the villains and white people as the saviors of the world.(less)
It was January of 2008 when I was reading these books and it's not nearly July of 2010, so it's reaching a ways back to remember all the reasons I did...moreIt was January of 2008 when I was reading these books and it's not nearly July of 2010, so it's reaching a ways back to remember all the reasons I didn't like the books--and indeed, never finished the third book of the trilogy--but it goes a little something like this:
1. I didn't like the writing. Random POV switches in scene, a lot of telling vs. showing, shoddy/inconsistent characterization and poor structure.
2. I didn't like the story. From the overall portrayal/treatment of women to the classism regarding the lesser species/societies like panserbjorn and the Gyptians to the distribution of daemons, the shoddy spiritual logic (or lack thereof)...it was heavy handed, often uninteresting, sometimes angry-making.
3. In the end, it just wasn't interesting enough for me to read it through. I struggled through the first couple books but by the time I got to the third, I felt like I was struggling for nothing and I realized I just didn't CARE enough about anyone in the books to keep going. (less)
I really had such high hopes for this book. I know so many people who really loved it. But after getting through more than a third of the book and fin...moreI really had such high hopes for this book. I know so many people who really loved it. But after getting through more than a third of the book and finding no plot in particular and not even the foreshadowing of a plot on the way, my desire to read on has become equally evanescent. I liked the May-December romance that seemed to be budding, but it was given thin page space between all the stuff with the Dragon Corps, which was, frankly boring. How do you make dragons boring? Probably by not involving the dragons. (less)
To be honest,I didn't get very far into Where The River Ends; it's folksy, aw-shucks style and weird issues with gender and illness/disability made me...moreTo be honest,I didn't get very far into Where The River Ends; it's folksy, aw-shucks style and weird issues with gender and illness/disability made me supremely uninterested in picking it up again after I'd put it down for a break from its homespun platitudes. Just not my kind of book.(less)