3.5 stars. Magical story about childhood, friendship, helplessness, and evil. An enthralling story in Gaiman's typical style. Although written for adu...more3.5 stars. Magical story about childhood, friendship, helplessness, and evil. An enthralling story in Gaiman's typical style. Although written for adults, the book is also suitable for teenagers.
I listened to the audio version narrated by the author and enjoyed it very much. Gaiman reading his own words highlighted some of the autobiographic touches to the story. Since I was listening to the story, I didn't have the ability to linger over some of my favorite passages.
I fail to see why this series is so popular with kids; I found it boring and filling with stereotypical characters. The main plot line is that Percy J...moreI fail to see why this series is so popular with kids; I found it boring and filling with stereotypical characters. The main plot line is that Percy Jackson, a sixth grader with ADHD and dyslexia, discovers that he is the son of Poseidon and a human mother. He undertakes a quest with his friends, Grover, a satyr and Annabeth, the half human daughter of Athena to return Zeus's lightning bolt.
There are similarities to the Harry Potter series--discovering magical talents, a school (here a summer camp for "half bloods"), adventures with a male and female friend, an unhappy home life in the real world. However these elements are not handled as well as in Rowling's fictional world. Percy is never a very likeable character and the abusive stepdad is a garish cliche.
Much of the plot and action is based around the actions of the gods and Percy fights demons from mythology on his quest. Many middle grade readers love mythology so this is probably a big appeal factor. I found the action to be dull and many of the explanations for why things were happening defaulted to it is this way because these gods have always hated each other.
I listened to this book on audio and found the reader to be very sub-par. He handled the younger charcters adequately but the voices that he created for the powerful gods were robotic and without nuance. This probably added to my negative impression of the book.(less)
**spoiler alert** The first book I've read by the popular YA author Stiefvater. I typically don't seek out paranormal/fantasy stories and found this t...more**spoiler alert** The first book I've read by the popular YA author Stiefvater. I typically don't seek out paranormal/fantasy stories and found this to only be average. Stiefvater's prose style left me feeling distanced from the characters and I really didn't care about what happened. I am becoming increasingly tired of trilogies and much of the plot of this book seemed like set-up for the later books since very little of the larger plot was resolved. In fact, I feel the main conflict in this novel(the discovery that one character was a ghost and dealing with the evil Latin teacher) could have been removed entirely from the larger plot (finding and awakening the Welsh King Owen Glendower and whether Blue, the main female character, will kill her true love with a kiss) without sacrificing anything.
I also was disappointed in the lack of impact of the Boarding School/Private School had in the narrative. There was no sense of the school culture and how that effected the male characters. The teens seemed to exist in a separate world. Gansey with his wealth and taste for grand adventures reminded me of the character of Logan Huntzberger from Gilmore Girls and not in a good way.
I did like the creepy sense of place that the author created--I really could imagine this semi-rural mountainous Virginia with strange magical forests but ultimately the book was just meh. I wouldn't really recommend it to anyone--even lovers of fantasy(less)
High fantasy YA novel. I normally don't read fantasy novels but I am trying to read outside of my favorite genres this year so I tried this award winn...moreHigh fantasy YA novel. I normally don't read fantasy novels but I am trying to read outside of my favorite genres this year so I tried this award winning (and very positively reviewed) first novel from Rachel Hartman. The book started off promising for me, but eventually I stopped caring about the plot or characters. I was listening to the book on audio which had pluses and minuses. The odd names (one of the reasons I usually avoid fantasy) were easier to hear rather than read and the audio even included sung passages for some of the songs Seraphina sings. Listening on audio made it easier to zone out during parts I was bored and I didn't pay as much attention as I could have.
The novel begins with Seraphina working as a court musician in a medievalesque setting. When a member of the royal family is murdered (and it appears to be the work of dragons--the head is bitten off) she investigates with Prince Lucian Kiggs, the captain of the Queen's Guard. Much of the plot comes from the interplay between humans and dragons. There had previously been a war between the two and for the past 40 years there has been peace. Both sides are still cautious and distrustful of each other. In the world of the novel, dragons are able to take the form of human beings (although they are still identifiable as dragons). Dragons are intellectual and rational - the Spock character from Star Trek is a good comparison. Seraphina's secret is that she is part human and part dragon (her mother was a dragon who died when she was born) and has her mother's dragon memories passed down to her through the blood. Seraphina must hide her identity and that of her music teacher (really her uncle and a dragon) while trying to stop another war between humans and dragons.
This was a very detailed, descriptive world. There was a lot of back story about the dragons and the religion of saints that the humans worship. Some of the typical dragon traits are present - flying, having a horde - must Hartman creates her own unique version of a dragon world. Other fantasy staples were present as well: bastards, the growth and development of a hero/heroine, other strange hybrid creatures. There was even a romance between Seraphina and Kiggs (not very interesting to me, but it will appeal to some). The diction makes the book suited for junior high and older; adults who like YA and fantasy will like this as well. Readers who enjoy dragon fantasies like Eragon are the ideal readers for Seraphina.
My main problem was that I am not a fantasy reader. The extreme detail and slow pace of a made up world does not appeal to me. (Although I will read detailed descriptions of real world settings.) I was initially pulled into the world but the slow pace and all the dragon descriptions and grotesques that Seraphina can telepathically communicate with became boring. Seraphina's emotional journey and her coming of age/growing into her powers was probably the most interesting aspect of the book for me but since I could predict that she would be successful the investment I had in the outcome was minimal.
I would recommend this book to teenagers who want a fantasy book but I personally wasn't a fan.
This is definitely epic fantasy--richly detailed, set in a fictional world, a coming of age story with supernatural elements. I read this book as for...moreThis is definitely epic fantasy--richly detailed, set in a fictional world, a coming of age story with supernatural elements. I read this book as for a RA discussion on Game of Thrones read-alikes and I can see this book appealing to readers who liked the Jon Snow character in Thrones. Fitz, the narrator and hero of this book (the first in a trilogy), is a bastard who never knew his father and the story is concerned with his coming of age and proving himself worthy. He has several mentors and at the end of the novel has the ability to skill (communicate telepathically with others) and has the wit (communicate telepathically with animals. He has prevented an assassination of his uncle, the future king but has made an enemy of his other royal uncle.
I didn't care for this book--it was long and fell like it was taking me forever to finish. There were few female characters and unlike Thrones there were no snarky Machiavellian character like Tyrion Lanister. This book was more earnest and sincere--the good characters were nobly good and the evil characters were dastardly and nefarious.
I'm not much of an animal person so the long passages of how much Fitz loved the dogs he bounded with (the shared a mind) were boring and involving. There was little romance--Fitz ages from about 6 to 16 and the thought of having to read more books to find out the conclusion doesn't appeal to me. (less)
Didn't care for this at all. I only read it since it was for a book club and almost gave up half way through (I was listening to it on audio so it was...moreDidn't care for this at all. I only read it since it was for a book club and almost gave up half way through (I was listening to it on audio so it was easy to keep listening during my commute). The story felt very old-fashioned (it was originally published in 1986) and I wonder if teens today would like the book. I have never been a big fantasy fan so that aspect fell flat for me and found the characters (mainly Howl) very unlikeable and annoying. (less)
Really enjoyable humorous fantasy novel. I have never read Pratchett before and his writing style really reminded me of Wodehouse or Vonnegut. I didn'...moreReally enjoyable humorous fantasy novel. I have never read Pratchett before and his writing style really reminded me of Wodehouse or Vonnegut. I didn't have any problems not starting at the beginning of the Discworld series (from what I gather, there are connected characters but it isn't a series based on a continuing storyline where it is necessary to read the books from the beginning). The story of former conman Moist Von Lipwig becoming the Post Master and making the Post Office relevant (he even invents postal stamps) was charming and I especially like the message that the government and committed public servants are more efficient and reliable at providing services than greedy private sector corporations.
Stephen Briggs was an excellent reader--very expressive and able to convey the humor of the text. I will definitely listen to more of the series in the future. (less)
I just couldn't get into this book and gave up about halfway through. I liked the strong female heroine (with her blue hair and martial arts skills sh...moreI just couldn't get into this book and gave up about halfway through. I liked the strong female heroine (with her blue hair and martial arts skills she reminded me for some reason of Lisbeth Salander)but the plot about the war between the angels and chimaera (monsters) was boring. I don't read much fantasy but when I do I tend to like medieval/Arthurian fantasy set in the real world not fantasy about other worlds and strange creatures (although much of what I read took place in contemporary Prague, the story was clearly moving to another world.) The set up for the romance between Karou (raised by 4 chimaera) and Akiva (a soldier angel) wasn't that compelling especially since the author kept emphasizing how gorgeous Akiva was. I also thought Karou would have questioned the creatures who raised her more about her origins.
I can understand why teens and adults who enjoy fantasy mixed with romance would enjoy this but it wasn't for me. (less)
I enjoyed this but preferred the first book in the series. A Clash of Kings suffers from some of the problems of second novels in series--not a lot of...moreI enjoyed this but preferred the first book in the series. A Clash of Kings suffers from some of the problems of second novels in series--not a lot of pay off since things are still being set up. It took me about a month to listen to the audio and at times I did find my mind wandering (I'm not a fan of battle scenes). I like the series for the family/relationship dynamics and medieval setting and political intrigue rather than the fantasy elements. (less)
A richly detailed medieval fantasy saga. I really enjoyed this book even though it probably took me a month and a half to listen to on audio. The narr...moreA richly detailed medieval fantasy saga. I really enjoyed this book even though it probably took me a month and a half to listen to on audio. The narrator did a wonderful job bringing the individual characters to life (although his characterization of Drogo was hilariously Cro-Magnon). I don't know how soon I will seek out the other books in the series, particularly since Martin hasn't finished the series yet. There was a good mix of action, suspense, character development, and emotion. I am looking forward to the HBO Series. (less)
A good short story collection (albeit only 3) about the importance of a first kiss in the lives of 3 teenage girls. I liked the first story about Kizz...moreA good short story collection (albeit only 3) about the importance of a first kiss in the lives of 3 teenage girls. I liked the first story about Kizzy the most. Good use of fantasy elements (especially curses). (less)