Wow. When I finished this book, I really struggled to figure out how I felt about it. Or rather, I struggled to find a word to describe it, and then iWow. When I finished this book, I really struggled to figure out how I felt about it. Or rather, I struggled to find a word to describe it, and then it came to me. The perfect word to describe this final installment of a series that I'd really come to love.
This books was simply an indulgence in the writer's desire to stay in a fictional world for far longer than necessary. So much of it was simply...unnecessary.
Like the over-the-top prose and endless internal navel gazing. Holy cow, so much of the words in this book just went around in circles. Normally, I love Stiefvater's style and dense prose, but this just became so tedious. By the fourth book in a series, we know these characters and just want to watch them interact with each other and actually do something and solve the problems the plot has presented. OMG, this was like reading notes from a psychotherapy session.
At least, that's what it felt like when I actually understood what I was reading. Sometimes the written imagery was so over the top that I couldn't even conjure an actual image in my imagination. (view spoiler)[ Like what the hell was going on when Ronan was being unmade? It was so horrible for everyone else to watch, but I had no idea what they were seeing because there was no direct description. So many words said absolutely nothing. (hide spoiler)]
Or the countless new characters who added nothing to the story but existed as if Stiefvater loved them so much she had to find a way to include them somewhere. What was the point of Henry Cheng? Of Blue's father, Artemus? Laumonier and Seondeok? Heck, of Gwynllian - what the heck was the point of her? Every single one of these people could have been left on the editor's floor with no changes at all to the story.
Plot lines that were introduced in this eleventh hour and that went simply nowhere. What was the deal with the whole mystical antiques dealer war? And the whole people-who-can-be-trees aspect? I just kept thinking WTF?
Maybe she added those new plot threads to distract us from the fact that all of the old plot threads would be either completely forgotten or would fizzle out.
SPOILERS (view spoiler)[ So the Glendower quest was basically a total McGuffin. We went pages and pages and chapters and chapters without so much as a mention, and the whole thing that basically defined Gansey and brought these people together in the first place turned out to be a non-issue? Again, WTF?
And the caves - what was the deal with the caves? Other than a red herring that led them to the useless Gwynllian, what was the point?
And Maura finding Blue's father - why did she bother? What did they gain from bringing him out of the caves? The only thing we got is finding out that Blue is actually not all human but then that went absolutely nowhere.
And the three sleepers?
And the "Blue kills her true love with a kiss" factor - it happened, but now what? Is the prophecy fulfilled and so now she and Gansey can kiss as much as they want?
And the Gray Man leaving to get rid of all of the newly introduced bad-guys? Does he ever come back? Does he get killed?
Other than the Ronan/Adam romance, which was far too skimpy, there was nothing about this book that felt right to me. I didn't even think that the Blue/Gansey connection had any fire in this installment - they kind of bored me.
Like I said, I felt like this whole book was simply indulgent. Like no one was willing to tell Stiefvater that it needed a good edit, that at least half of the book was a waste of time, and that introducing so many new things and failing to tie up old things would leave readers really disappointed.
I so much wanted to love this book. I so much didn't....more
I absolutely loved "The 5th Wave", so much so that I happily reread it before diving into "The Infinite Sea" since there had been some time that had pI absolutely loved "The 5th Wave", so much so that I happily reread it before diving into "The Infinite Sea" since there had been some time that had passed between the two and I needed a reminder. I wasn't disappointed - T5W was as brilliant the second read-through as I'd remembered. And while I stayed up all night to read "The Infinite Sea", it fell far short of the first book in the series.
The main problem I had with TIS wasn't that the focus shifted from Cassie and Evan or Zombie and Ringer or that really, not a lot happens, it was more the dual issues of Convoluted Plot and Cerebral Bad Guy Syndrome. Once Ringer is in the hands of the evil Commander Vosch, things began to go upended. I lost count of how many conversations the two had that basically retread the concept of Vosch saying "Guess why we're doing all of this to you?" with Ringer responding "Rage? Fear? Hatred?" and Vosch returning with "Nope, guess again." I wanted to scream - just tell us al-freakin-ready! Enough with the stupid mind games. I felt like we were getting an indefinite Bad Guy Monologue where he explains his Evil Plot, only he never does explain it to any degree of making sense.
And once I did manage to sort of suss out what the heck Vosch was up to - and to be honest, I still don't quite get it - the whole alien plot became hopelessly convoluted. Already we'd had twists and turns enough to have me wondering who was good or bad or who was trying to kill whom. Now none of it makes any sense. I can only hope that Book 3 untangles all of the knots and basically undoes what TIS did, which was render T5W basically meaningless. One of the beauties of that first book was how simple the whole concept was - aliens come to our planet and plan to eradicate all humans so that they can take it over. No need for long winded, complicated motivations.
Add in all of the internal angsting of Ringer and I got pretty tired of the existential navel gazing pretty quickly. While the book seemed short, it could have been cut in half if we didn't get so many pages of "what is a human/humanity and is a human without humanity still a human or an inhuman alien and is an alien with humanity really actually a human and which is preferable" etc.
My other big issue with this book is the fact that so many of the main characters suffer catastrophic injuries that would make it impossible for them to survive. They all rage with out of control fevers and broken bones and gunshot wounds and extensive blood loss that, given the lack of antibiotics and medical care, would end them pretty quickly. There are obstacles and there are laugh-out-loud impossibilities.
For the good: I did like the Ringer/Razor relationship, and I thought the action sequences were very well written. Yancey isn't afraid to go very, very dark (suicide toddlers). I'm really holding out hope that the last book in the trilogy is like a light being turned on so that TIS becomes retroactively understandable....more