Interesting beginning - you are kind of plopped into this complex elemental government structure without any real setup. I am wondering if McKinley waInteresting beginning - you are kind of plopped into this complex elemental government structure without any real setup. I am wondering if McKinley was facing some kind of page limit? It doesn't seem like her. But I'll stick it out, see how it goes....more
A fairy tale in only the technical term, Deerskin takes place in a nameless land within the "seven kingdoms", where a young princess is known for nothA fairy tale in only the technical term, Deerskin takes place in a nameless land within the "seven kingdoms", where a young princess is known for nothing but being the daughter of the best king and most beautiful queen ever. She grows up hearing the story of her mother's courting, the accomplishments of her father and other such things that have instantly become legend in their lifetimes. When the queen falls ill and dies, a few people turn their attention to the princess, now of age to marry, and realize that she will become the most beautiful woman in seven kingdoms, as her mother was before. This is brought to the attention of a crazed and grieving king, who is driven to the unthinkable. Together with her dog, Ash, Princess Lissar flees her castle with little to no memory of who she is, why she is running and what has happened to her.
Ok, WOW. Now, I have read a few of McKinley's novels, including The Blue Sword and The Hero and the Crown, so I'm not unfamiliar with McKinley's solid yet visceral imagery. But there was something very, very remarkable about this book, something that I can't rightly explain, something you have to read for yourself.
In the beginning I was actually a little put off by the way it was written, in a very non-specific fairy tale type way, "once upon a time" and all that, where no one had a name. But it was only for about two chapters that it was like this. As soon as Lissar was acknowledged as a person by someone, and not just a thing to get underfoot, that she was given a name. This is done when a foreign prince hears of her mother's death and, instead of sending some lavish mourning gift to her father, sends a small, white puppy to Lissar.
For the first part of the book (during Lissar's "first life"), she struggles with her identity, finding herself uncomfortable with courtly life. There are a few moments within these two years that McKinley really strives to make the reader understand that Lissar's character is molded because of her circumstances, rather than in spite of them. She is a humble, shy, curious girl who would rather garden and play with her dog than spend money or order others around. It was her parents' neglect and her nursemaid's stories of her amazing parents that led to to believe she was no more important than a servant in her own castle. There is very little within her that really feels like a princess, and this is a very important aspect of her personality.
As soon as it stops reading like another fairy story (although her kingdom, and indeed any of the others, get named), the description becomes abundant, even excessive. This story has what I guess I would call flowery language, whereas my creative writing teacher would call it "dead wood". There is a bit of repetition, but I honestly got into that. It was the power of the emotion that was felt, the intensity of the things going on, that made it bear repeating. The restating of a bit of information in a different way made the scene more powerful, rather than taking away from it.
That having been said, I have to say this. I have never found myself actually horrified while reading before. There are plenty of times my heart has broken, I have cried, or felt very depressed because of what I was reading, but I have never felt absolutely, gut-wrenchingly horrified. There was a point where I felt slightly sick, reading what had happened to Lissar. That's the awe that this book inspires.
There are also a few messages of woman empowerment and the worship of beauty. Beauty, as you find out, was the ruin of both queen and princess of the kingdom. The queen loved her own face so well that when she fell ill, it wasn't the sickness that really killed her. It was her own vanity - she lost a bit of her beauty in being sick and didn't want to live anymore. Likewise, the princess growing into such beauty drove her father crazy and resulted in the act that would haunt her "new" life. It is actually in a new land, with an entirely different set of priorities, that Lissar finds comfort and her own identity.
This is a character driven fantasy dream story. The goal is not to create a concrete world but to engage yourself in Lissar's life, her struggles, and, eventually, her triumph. (Believe me, it comes, you have to stick with it... the first half of the book I wasn't sure I was going to be able to make it through, her life seemed so dismal.) And in this, McKinley has truly succeeded. This is a book that I won't be able to forget for a while....more
We have been invaded! By nonviolent, curious parasite organisms who infiltrate humanity and take over the bodies of their hosts. It is a quiet onslaugWe have been invaded! By nonviolent, curious parasite organisms who infiltrate humanity and take over the bodies of their hosts. It is a quiet onslaught - and one that soon becomes glaringly obvious. Only a few have been able to get out of the now alien-civilized cities, and those that do are usually caught by the Seekers. One young woman, her lover, and her little brother are some of these renegades, until one slip forces the girl, Melanie into the custody of her enemies to become the host for an extremely strong "soul", Wanderer.
But just as Wanderer settles into her new body, the unthinkable. Melanie refuses to leave. And she does nothing but throw memories at Wanderer, forcing her to feel what she feels. Now Wanderer, obsessed with Melanie's brother and in love with the same man, must break away and find the love her body desperately aches for.
WELL. I literally just finished this book and I must say. I did not have particularly high hopes. I knew the only reason I bought it was because August 2nd and Breaking Dawn weren't coming fast enough. And, well, it was described to me as a story with a love triangle with only two bodies. Who wouldn't be intrigued?
This is probably everything that you would ask for in a novel. The plot really was VERY interesting (I was worried I'd be thinking "Invasion of the Body Snatchers!" or "The Invaders!" [seriously? How much do I sound super old and I'm 22?:] but Meyer has truly created a unique race), the characters were solid and believable in their individual torment (I found myself thinking of some of the characters fitting the "roles" of characters in the Twilight series, but the characters themselves are quite different), and it all went at such a great pace that there was no point to actually put it down. My only complaint is that the beginning seems abrupt - you hit the ground running, in a sense, but this only feeds into the manic energy that I'm finding is Meyer's trademark, and a good one. I can imagine her, speaking very quietly but firmly through the narrative of Wanderer, telling me that we need to establish all of these things QUICK, because she wants to get where the REAL story starts. And god knows I appreciate it. We play catch up with the characters later, anyway. It works out.
What is probably the best part is not only the characters, but the changes these characters go through during the course of the book. The conflict is almost entirely internal (ha! Literally. Prepare yourself for a buttload of inner arguments) because everyone seems distrustful of someone else, everyone has their own agendas... yet at the same time there is believable change of thinking after the derailment of everything most of them believed.
The themes behind this story - what does it mean to be human, is humanity in our bodies or in our souls, will we overcome hatred - remind me a lot of Butler's trilogy Lilith's Brood. The aliens are even slightly remeniscent, in their nonviolence and seemingly assumed superiority over humans. But as stated above, this book has a lot more internal conflict, the pain coming from the love SQUARE (whoever said triangle is dumb) more than anywhere else.
Stephenie Meyer is officially okay by me. She's not a one-trick pony, and she has quite an amazing imagination... I really believe that she knows her characters as well as any living person, which of course makes the reader look upon them lovingly as well. Best of all, her bright, almost child-like enthusiasm is evident on every single page.
I'm a believer. I'll be looking out for the next one. ...more
Bella Swan is a seventeen-year-old who moves from the safety of her mother's home in sunny Arizona to her father's in Forks, Washington - a place coveBella Swan is a seventeen-year-old who moves from the safety of her mother's home in sunny Arizona to her father's in Forks, Washington - a place covered by clouds more days out of the year than anywhere in the continental United States. Bella is quiet and self-deprecating, so it surprises her very much when she begins to get a lot of attention from her male classmates on the first day, including that of the mysterious Edward Cullen. But his focus on her is an odd one. Edward, having never spoken to Bella before, seems at once to loathe her with an intensity that leads her to distraction.
It becomes even more confusing when, on an icy day, Bella is almost pinned between a skidding car and the back of her truck... when who else but Edward is standing between them, having absorbed the force of the collision and leaving a boy-shaped dent in the car with his pale body.
Star-crossed, the kids have to admit that they are drawn to each other completely, and must accept the consequences that this entails... because, of course, all of the Cullen family are vampires, and Bella's appeal to Edward goes beyond emotional and physical... straight into predatory.
Have you ever seen the television show, Roswell? It was on the WB in 1999 and had a (very passionately fought for) three seasons under its belt before tanking. This show was amazing - a true guilty pleasure of mine, but I swear it was great. There's some clips on YouTube if you're interesting. BUT I digress. I would describe the entire Twilight series (the first three I ate in three days) as Roswell, but with vampires. Or, if you prefer, a mix between Roswell and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. (Even the part where Edward first saves Bella's life is so much like he first episode I thought I would be mad. But of course I wasn't.) In any case, fans of supernatural romance (and, hell, just romance in general) will die and be resurrected dutifully to read more time and again as the series progesses.
It is so romantic, in fact, that there isn't any real action until well after two-thirds in. But it seems, at least to me, that this story requires that much time... for Edward and Bella to fall in love, for this to be believable and... well... to keep my girliness swooning. YES SO I SWOON WHAT OF IT. It's a good love story. I mean, think about it. Who wouldn't want a vampire boyfriend?
OKAY so I'm not normally one to read books about vampires. As I've mentioned before, I find that many attempts to make this subject new fall completely flat and irritate me to no end. So whyyyy was this so different? You are asking. Well, there are many things classically "vampire" about these guys: bloodsucking, pale, beautiful, immortal. There are some added quirks here and there, such as baseball. Vampires playing baseball. I think the thing I like best about this book, though, is that it doesn't really have any grandiose ideas. You're reading this for a vampire love story. That's what you get.
Yet the writing is not simplistic, as it is in some of these teen novels. Nor is it overly flowery, as some vampire novels tend to be in order to convey a romantic epicness (Sunshine anyone?). Meyer's narrative is impressive as she melds together romance and excitement while maintaining her character's voice and adding just enough description to keep a reader salivating.
The characters themselves also need some credit. I had heard people call Bella a "Mary Sue", which seems silly, because I found her to be dense (charmingly so), hyper self-conscious (something I found myself relating to too well), and, of course, accident-prone. Edward, who I was rolling my eyes at in the beginning... well, at first I thought he was the unbelievable one, but in truth he's a stubborn old hundred-year-old Jewish grandmother, the way he fusses and goes on. No, there's something real about these characters, and you want to see them end up together... or, you know, want to see how Meyer's going to torture the poor kids to death when they try.
Not that this is a fine piece of literature. It takes Bella so long to figure out the vampire thing that I wanted to shoot myself, when danger finally does arrive it seems to me like there's kind of not a good reason for it, and, oh my god, it is so filled with those little bits of foreshadowing that are supposed to be clever but not really - for example, just before Bella goes to her first class on the first day of school, she's nervous, and she says to herself, "Relax. No one is going to bite you."
In any case, talk about guilty pleasures. This is the ultimate. Read this, you might think I'm crazy now but you won't soon enough. It is for the romantic in all of us. And don't try to tell me you don't have one, because I know you do. And don't worry. You can always hide it under the mattress if you're embarrassed. ...more
If you don't know the plot of the Narnia books, I'd be surprised, but basically it follows (for the most part) the Pevensie siblings and their journeyIf you don't know the plot of the Narnia books, I'd be surprised, but basically it follows (for the most part) the Pevensie siblings and their journeys into a land called Narnia, the classic fantasy alternate universe and biblical architype haven. The kids learn many lessons during their grand adventures, some of which are actually useful. Overall, they are endearing fairy tales...
(I am very, very angry that the site didn't allow me to review this book as the first in the series. The entire "preferred reading order" is absolutely ridiculous, and the publisher's reasons for changing the order posthumously are innane. I'd rather not write a whole essay about it - go ahead and look it up on Wikipedia if you're interested. As far as I'm concerned this is the first one. It is the one in which we along with the children are introduced to Narnia and every one published after it follows the story in a way a reader can relate with ans appreciate. Just so everyone knows I an reviewing the 1970 Collier Book edition of LWW.)
I just got done rereading this one - it's the first time I've picked it up in many years. It's a breeze to get through, which is sad because I remember being very proud of myself for getting through it in the fourth grade. But oh well.
I'd rather not do a total movie-to-book comparison, but... and don't crucify me... (haha)... the movie deals with this story better. It is more exciting, the characters evolve, everyone's reaction is more believable - and yet the original story is entirely intact. I love the story, don't get me wrong, but reading the written work again after watching to movie... it just seems like bare bones. I'd forgotten how sparse the writing is.
Another thing I had forgotten is just how metafictive (new word I think) the whole thing is. Lewis spends an awful lot of time referencing the fact that he is writing this book, which is slightly off-putting for modern readers. That would be forgiven, really, if he didn't use it to NOT describe so many things. I suppose if you are a very young child and he claims that something is so frightening he dares not describe it to you, it forces that child to use her imagination in order to fill in the blanks. Yet the successful descriptions of similar things in, say, a series as popular as the Harry Potter books makes one wonder if it wasn't just a cop out or cultural handicap. Yet there are rare places where this tecnique seems to work in his favor, such as places where he is describing a visual sort of magic. He will write "I suppose you have seen" something, and then elaborate that this is how it looked, somewhat. This will give most kids a really clear picture of what is happening, making this story easily read aloud to children as young as (I would say) five.
There are also very interesting parts where I find myself connecting to what's going on on a very different level, and it is because Lewis addressed the reader that one allows oneself to feel this way. The best example is the aftermath of the great battle, when everyone is heading to Cair Paravel to see the children crowned. Here the sea is described with such excitement it does seem as if you are coming to the palace yourself.
"The castle of Cair Paravel on its little hill towered up above them; before them were the sands, with rocks and little pools of salt water, and sea weed, and the smell of the sea, and long miles of bluish-green waves breaking forever and ever on the beach. And, oh, the cry of the sea-gulls! Have you heard it? Can you remember?"
This one line, innocently placed. "Can you remember?" There is not one moment in your mind what I should be remembering, or from what, because I was there. Can you remember, because Lewis is desperately trying to get the message across that we were all there, and we have all heard it and it will only take a quick jog of the memory to remember.
Now I am not Christian - in fact I am a Wiccan, and have always been distainful of Christians who do whatever they can to convert me. Lay off already. But that does not mean that I don't know a good story when I read one. Whether or not Lewis is talking about Jesus (and... yeah... I know he is) that feeling was a very good one. There are some things you just have to let go, you know? It isn't the worst thing in the world to have your kids know that you shouldn't sacrifice your family for Turkish Delight. Er. As it were. Just like it isn't the worst thing to have your kids put faith in themselves, science, and other human endevours, as Phillip Pullman is teaching via The Golden Compass etc. In fact, the less you stress out about what philosphies your kids are exposed to early in life the less angsty and rebellious they'll be later on.
But I digress. What is important to note is a note of sexism within this novel. (I did not notice any racism - at least not as blatent as the misogynism - but there have been cases brought up to that affect as well. Once again, Wiki it.) When Father Christmas brings the children their presents, he tells the girls to only use their weapons if they truly need to, and never in battle. When Lucy says she may be brave enough, Santa says "Battle is ugly when women fight." ...As opposed to how pretty it is when men go at it? Just an example. Later in the series it becomes more apparent that Lewis felt that there was a "place" for women. We do have to remember the time in which it was written and simply empower our girls by other means. I honestly don't think that this series will instill in children's minds the idea that boys are better than girls.
In short, read this because it's a classic, and a very good read-aloud. But really... watch the movie too. I think it does a fantastic job of sprucing up an old fairy tale. ...more
The second in the Tamir trilogy, sequel to The Bone Doll's Twin. I really loved the first one, love loved... so why did I only give this one three staThe second in the Tamir trilogy, sequel to The Bone Doll's Twin. I really loved the first one, love loved... so why did I only give this one three stars? Hm. Maybe because all of the reasons I was happy with the last one are missing in this book. But it is the second in a trilogy, and as we all know the second is always the setup for the third, so what can you do?
Tobin finally knows that he is truly a woman, destined to rule Skala and overthrow the usurper king. As he/she adjusts to this knowledge (this part is very well realized), he must constantly be wary of his prince cousin, the king's power-hungry wizard, the flirtations of courtier ladies, the jealous squires who torment his friend Ki (who Tobin is finding he is attracted to more and more), and most of all Brother, who is becoming more helpful... but less controllable.
Soon he will have to reveal his true form, and is terrified of what will happen when he does.
I think that I was disappointed to be taken from the setting of Tobin's old home at his keep to within the palace walls, where there is intrigue and enemies galore, but a lot less darkness and mystery. I suppose that Tobin couldn't be haunted by his mother forever, and would have to be placed among those he is to overthrow, but palace life was almost boring in comparison. Flewelling's writing is adequate, but she actually seems distrustful of her descriptive capabilities; I found her repeating the fact that Tobin is confused, frightened, worried... etc. so much that I thought she was pounding into my brain. She did well enough to SHOW me on many occasions. I don't need to hear it over again.
That having been said, I read through this sucker pretty quickly. There is insanity and secrets being discovered all over, and you do get a very nice breathless setup for what will happen in the third book. Also, I am very happy with Tobin's wizard friends (who changed him/her to begin with) and their reconsideration of a prejudice against the "Hill Folk" from which Skalans stole their kingdom. These witches have long been thought of as necromancers, but since one, Lhel, helped the wizards conceal Tobin, one has been learning just how connected Hill magic is with life. This seems satisfying and real to me in a weird way.
Anyway. You should probably read this one too. I mean, we both want to find out what happens in the end, don't we? And we can't do that without reading the one in to middle. And also it's good. ...more
You know in all honesty, the only reason I haven't reviewed any of the Abhorsen books is because I just... I just shouldn't have to. You should just gYou know in all honesty, the only reason I haven't reviewed any of the Abhorsen books is because I just... I just shouldn't have to. You should just go and read them and know for yourself how amazing they are. Just go pick Sabriel up at the bookstore. Go on. Start reading just a little bit. Then when you get past the prologue, buy it and take it home. Brew some green tea and see if you can't order some curry or a pizza. Then just read it, baby.
It's a little slow-going at first, so you're going to have to trust me and stick with it for the first 50 pages or so. After that I promise you won't want to put it down. You won't want to stop, either, so maybe when you go back to the bookstore to get Lireal, you'll want to pick up Abhorsen as well.
Hey. It's me. You trust me, don't you? Would I steer you wrong? These books have basically changed my life. So read them ...more