**spoiler alert** 2.5 stars. I was going to give this one a much higher rating. But.
I know body horror is one of the bread and butters of this series,**spoiler alert** 2.5 stars. I was going to give this one a much higher rating. But.
I know body horror is one of the bread and butters of this series, but Gaia and everything leading up to her "birth" was genuinely upsetting to me in a way that made me want to stop reading. I hate mystical pregnancies. I hate female bodies being violated and victimized in this way. It's this particular objectification of the female body as a potential incubator of evil beyond the mother's control or as punishment for her sins (and an argument could be made for both being in play here) that has no place in a series with such good female characters, which has continually impressed me with the richness and breadth of its girls. And the problem narratively is that it shifts the horror from being something that illuminates the humanity of the characters to a plot device that strips them of it entirely, in Diana's case, or that they react to without much of themselves invested in it in everyone else's. Which I guess is pretty ironic, considering what a problem the literal lack of light is in this book.
There's probably a lot more I could say, but I'm just too disappointed....more
I don't think folks are generally going to look to a review of the third book in a six-book series to help them decide whether or not to give the seriI don't think folks are generally going to look to a review of the third book in a six-book series to help them decide whether or not to give the series as a whole a try, but in case you are that person who really wants to know if their investment is going to pay off: I can't speak for the rest, but so far this has been my favourite of the series. The elements of the preceding books -- the social unrest and horror in these kids' lives, the relationships they've developed, the new abilities they possess, and how the Big Bad factors into and manipulates all of these things -- all reach a sort of equilibrium that serves to tell a very solid and affecting story.
I'm not the first person to compare this series to Lord of the Flies meets X-Men with a dash of Stephan King horror stylings. I've wondered about it being written for teenagers, not because of the gore (my tolerance for gore is pretty much the same as it was when I was a teenager, which is fairly high) but because of the brutality of the characters. (I'm not necessarily equating brutality with violence, though that's part of it; even the least violent characters have a certain unflinching aspect to how they're depicted.) By the rules of the world, no one is over 15 years old when the series starts, and by the time we reach this book only 7 months have passed. Yet it never gives any quarter to the idea that children have an inherent innocence to them -- more naive, perhaps, or less experienced, but ultimately functioning as people, capable of good and evil. And not storybook good and evil. This the more mundane evil that exists in our world and in ourselves, the kind that's ugly and hard to look at, and the kind of good that can be hard to distinguish.
As a teenager, it wouldn't have shocked me to read this book -- because I knew myself to be a real person and what those my age were capable of, because I was immersed in it as a matter of course and that was my frame of reference. As an adult, however, it takes me aback to see this depiction of kids, because I would only expect it in an adult novel. Lord of the Flies is not a kids book, really. It's too open to the adult gaze. It's a story that points at children and says, look how awful these creatures are. They're just like us. Can you believe it? Gone, however, is for the kids it's depicting, and it says to them, you're just like us, and we're not afraid to look at you. Who you are now, what you're capable of now, means something now, not for the unknowable, intangible person you're supposedly going to "grow up" to be. Though even that may be giving the adult presence too much credit. You could debate the literary merits of Gone compared to Lord of the Flies, but I feel that what Gone does for this aspect of young adult storytelling is important in its own right. So while it's a good comparison to draw in a reader, it also forgets what is possibly the most unique element.
Sounds fun, right? I'll admit the first two books stressed me out at times, and once or twice I had to step away from them temporarily. But this one has settled into the story enough that these themes began to stand out to me, and that allowed me to be immersed in it and for the story to really soar. But what makes the series as a whole (and what is strong throughout, not just in this book) is its characters. It's a large ensemble of distinctive and superbly written characters, and the way their individual stories weave into the larger plot and with the stories of other characters is handled deftly and with real pathos. It's frankly just a pleasure to read, and a lot of these characters are going to stick with me. It's also a very diverse ensemble: the female POV characters equal the number of males, and in fact might outnumber them, though the girls may just loom larger in my mind because of their sheer awesome. There are a lot of PoCs, including black (both African-American and African), Native American, South American, Indian and Asian. There is also at least one queer character, a black lesbian named Dekka, arguably the most badass of them all. And none of these are tokens -- they are integral, and run the gamut from good to bad to in between. Grant often takes his time in describing the ethnicity of his PoC; it is always relevant to who they are, but it's also not the only or most significant thing by which they are to be defined.
4.5 stars, half a star only taken off for the last few pages, which 1) should have been shown, not told and 2) failed to answer a few questions that may be addressed in a subsequent book but should have been addressed here. As a technical note, this book has convinced me that I would someday like to own a hard copy of the series (I bought the first two on my kindle, and this one was from the library), but that's not going to happen until the covers change. Seriously, the cover art is atrocious and a damn shame....more
Giving up on this one. The worldbuilding was good but ultimately not enough to carry me through, and I felt simultaneously like I was too aware of theGiving up on this one. The worldbuilding was good but ultimately not enough to carry me through, and I felt simultaneously like I was too aware of the author being in love with her idea and like I knew exactly where the story was going. Conversely, the characters were difficult to get a grasp on, which I imagine was due to a truly inordinate amount of telling without showing in every respect. Sometimes the characters would even tell who they were in their dialogue, which was terribly awkward to read; in fact, a lot of exposition was given through dialogue for reasons that are beyond me: this is a novel, not a movie, it could have easily gone in the narration where it belongs.
I read this book as a teenager. I still remember lending it to my best friend and her yelling at me later on: "I hate you for making me read this stupI read this book as a teenager. I still remember lending it to my best friend and her yelling at me later on: "I hate you for making me read this stupid book! I can't stop!" I'd like to reread it someday and see if it holds up....more