I can't rate this. I mean, if I were to judge it on the merits of the writing alone, it would receive five stars but damn it, it's just so brutally ra...moreI can't rate this. I mean, if I were to judge it on the merits of the writing alone, it would receive five stars but damn it, it's just so brutally raw I can't do it justice. Not for the faint of heart. That much I can say.(less)
I know that many people had problems with the way Jasmine was characterized but it really worked for me. The major premise aside, I felt that Jasmine'...moreI know that many people had problems with the way Jasmine was characterized but it really worked for me. The major premise aside, I felt that Jasmine's prickly, too sensitive personality, portrayed very realistically what (and perhaps how) a girl her age would react in the situations she finds herself in. Wow, that was convoluted. What I mean to say is that I didn't find Jasmine offensive, I didn't think she was whiny. She has a reason to feel the way she does and even when she does lash out perhaps unfairly, she has to face up to it eventually. That aside, the book tackles how a biracial teen comes of age in a town where she is most definitely the only "one of her kind." Honestly, I can't relate to that. But I do know how it feels to not belong. Feel out of place even though it all may just be in your head.
Jasmine is not a forgiving person. She tends to make snap judgements and react on them but dude, her "best friend" was pashing her mother's boyfriend. Her pregnant mother's boyfriend. I wouldn't be so forgiving either, man. And no, I don't think her decision in the end was bad. Also, the relationship with the love interest felt real. There was no insta-love but there were several stumbles.
I don't know, guys. I don't want this to be a justification or a defense against all the other mediocre reviews. I just enjoyed the book, I liked how Gurtler wrote her story about a teen who has more on her plate than usual. Who makes mistakes and pays for them. Who learns that people are not black and white and that sometimes shit happens and you have to deal with it. I liked the way the relationships cohered, slowly but definitely. I also particularly liked that the ending did not neatly tie everything together. I appreciated that a lot. Would I recommend it to you? Yes, I would. In fact, I do.(less)
This book has, hands down, one of the best openings ever. Like it seriously grabs you and keeps you reading.
I don’t quite know how to review this, re...moreThis book has, hands down, one of the best openings ever. Like it seriously grabs you and keeps you reading.
I don’t quite know how to review this, really. I mean, I totally liked it. And I would totally recommend it to you. It’s just that.
The writing is supremely beautiful. There are many passages (and none of which I seem to have copypasted anywhere, damn it) that feel like works of art in the way they describe the emotion, the setting, the very essence of the story. Alison is a very complex character. The way she is and the reasons for her being the way she is, the otherness she feels, these are very well portrayed. I think all the scenes set in the “hospital” (more of a mental asylum) perfectly capture that sense of being lost that Alison must feel. It felt like a mystery but then all of a sudden there is a twist.
And wow. What a twist. I totally did not see that coming. And because I was blindsided, I’m not sure whether I bought it. Wow.
You have to read it. To find out what I’m talking about.
So writing, check, characters, check, story, mmm, check. It’s vastly different from anything else in the market. Ultraviolet combines a little bit of science, a little of bit of magic with a lot of heart to tell a beautiful story. It’s the kind of book that you will read and then later mull over. A lot. (less)
Sometimes you come across a book that you weren’t particularly keen to read but it blows you away with the sheer beauty of the story contained within...moreSometimes you come across a book that you weren’t particularly keen to read but it blows you away with the sheer beauty of the story contained within its pages. The synopsis of Plain Kate doesn’t set it apart from the rest of the books in the genre. It doesn’t add anything to it that is wholly unique. There is nothing that prepares you for what’s inside. So you wander in, try a sentence. Or maybe two. Then before you know it, you have read a hundred pages and you simply must finish it because you have to know what happens in the end.
If I were asked to explain what exactly appealed to me about Plain Kate, I would be at a loss about where to begin. Is it the beauty of the prose? Quiet, unassuming brilliance that flows over you and guides you into the world in which Kate exists. Or should I talk about how, even when the world is falling down around her, there are certain moments of beauty, like pockets of calm in the middle of chaos – that makes you hope for humanity even as humanity destroys itself.
I think I will pick my favourite character in the novel. Taggles, the Cat. (Yes, Cat deserves its own capital C.) Animal characters are numerous in fiction and most of them are rendered beautifully (well okay, the ones I have read were) but the friendship between Taggles and Kate was steeped in sincerity. Ms. Bow managed to display their friendship without humanizing Taggles and I am eternally grateful for that. He retains his animal way of thinking, a way of thinking that is distinctly not human but despite that, he manages, in all the ways he is capable, to stay beside Kate and even protect her to a certain extent. Their friendship is one of the most poignant and beautiful things I have had the fortune to read in a very long time.
Kate is composed by losses. She is a very complex character with many layers to her. The loss of her parents, home and eventually town always plays a part in defining her to a certain degree. When she gets tricked out of something she hadn’t even thought was important, she begins a journey and during that journey, she realizes who she really is. This is intentionally cryptic because anything else would be giving it away and it would be such a shame for you not to read this book. The love interest in this book, if you can actually say there is one, is just as enigmatic, just as interesting as Kate is.
The ending of the book is not conventional. It’s not unhappy. But it’s not the same old trite endings other books are known for. The book is not the first in a series, though, to be honest, I would love to continue reading about Kate but when we do leave her in the end, she is on her way to becoming someone more, someone who is much stronger for the choices she has made and the things she has experienced and seen.
Conclusion? Read the book. It is way too good to miss. (less)
Before we begin any sort of review on this novel, let me just say I’m a shameless Erin Bow fangirl. I read and loved Plain Kate which is an amazing bo...moreBefore we begin any sort of review on this novel, let me just say I’m a shameless Erin Bow fangirl. I read and loved Plain Kate which is an amazing book and one you need to read if you haven’t done so already.
Now that we have that out of the way, let’s move on to Sorrow’s Knot. And I really don’t know where to start talking about this book. Honestly, I don’t. Okay, I can do this.
Sorrow’s Knot is brilliantly Canadian without being explicit about it. The novel tells a story; by that I mean I felt as though I was sitting around a fire, hearing about Otter, Cricket and Kestrel. There is something hypnotic about the narrative tone – the short and pithy sentences manage to be evocative despite their length. The cadence of the prose. There is a quiet intensity in the small, soft moments. The friendship is so beautifully expressed between Cricket and Otter, and Otter and Kestrel. While Cricket and Otter are good friends, I think I most empathized with the friendship between Kestrel and Otter. Theirs is an honest friend, not sugar-coated and falsely sunny. They trust each other to do the things they would not be able to do and there’s beauty in that.
Though the characters and their lifestyles and portrayals are suggestive of First Nations people, Bow avoids mention of any specific tradition or otherwise identifiable to a certain tribe or people and thus avoids any instances of cultural appropriation. A lot of time is devoted in making the Westmost people feel authentic in their rituals and traditions and I appreciate the research that must have been done to make it so. The fictional Westmost people are ruled by matriarchy and I love how this affects gender constructions. The novel explores themes of death and letting go in such a poignant and beautiful manner that even though your heart is breaking, you cannot help but read on.
Another aspect of the novel that I enjoyed very much is the distinction between the two girls. Kestrel is the character a YA novel would usually follow. She is the epitome of the strong heroine; the Katniss, of sorts. Otter, on the other hand, though not physically strong has strength of a different kind. It is interesting to have a nonconventional heroine for once. The romances in this novel are sweet and sad and I liked how cleverly the girls discuss physical relationships without shying away from it.
Sorrow’s Knot does not deal with the destruction of the world on a grand scale. It concerns itself with the lives of one particular group of people and goes deep into their mythology, their prejudices and their resistance to change. Readers who are more familiar with scenarios where the fate of the world rests upon the protagonists’ overly burdened shoulders may find themselves discomfited for a while. However, the realization that Otter’s world, though not very big, is just as important comes quick and with that realization, the reader will be swept away by the story of the binders and their knots.
The tension in the novel is exquisitely managed and readers’ emotions will react as though they are the strings in a finely strung violin. The tension continues to rise until you are almost despairing and then eases only to rise again. In other words, Erin Bow plays with your emotions. A lot. And you willingly read on, almost breathless with the anticipation, because you have to see Otter’s story to the end.
And what an end it is. You guys, I didn’t think I could love Sorrow’s Knot more than Plain Kate but I do. Definitely, strongly, recommended.(less)
I read this for my Canadian Lit. class. This is one of the first books written by a native Indian and that is one of the claims it makes to fame. It’s...moreI read this for my Canadian Lit. class. This is one of the first books written by a native Indian and that is one of the claims it makes to fame. It’s a work of exquisite imagery, woven with the strong feelings that keeps it immortal. However, to anyone reading this in the contemporary time, Caucasians especially, the scorn and rejection of all things “White” will perhaps be difficult to accept. It would be only too easy to paint the author a racist without stopping to put her story into context. Whatever she has writing, whatever her feelings towards the people invading her land and making claims to it if put into context actually makes sense. It’s understand, her less than charitable feelings towards people who deem her people as less than humans, savages even. I want to point out that the white settlers were the ones who rejected them first, shoving them into reserves, trying to make them into a “mimic people.” So I don’t understand why their antagonism is any sort of surprise. Anyway, the book is basically an assertion of a people who have been, for too long, been stereotyped, discriminated against. Pushed to the edges of society, made invisible. Yes, it’s not going to go around making anyone feel all warm and fuzzy. It’s not going to make race relations any better. Maracle’s blatant rejection of everything Caucasian is just the result of the domination of the white settlers. As for the writing, characterization, etc, that’s all secondary in this one instance. I recommend this book to anyone who wants to a different perspective(less)
There are some books that you really didn't think were your type. Your genre. The kind of stuff you usually don't read and don't expect to read but th...moreThere are some books that you really didn't think were your type. Your genre. The kind of stuff you usually don't read and don't expect to read but then when you do end up reading a book outside your usual genre, it impresses the socks off you and reminds you that there are many more adventures to be had should you dare to step off the safe path.
This was what reading Dust City felt like to me. I don't do anthropomorphic main characters. I really don't. But I love fairy tales and the synopsis won me over. Who wouldn't want to read about the son of the Big Bad Wolf who made dinner out of Red Riding Hood and her Grandmother? Does that premise not intrigue you? Because it intrigued me a whole hell of a lot.
What I really loved about this book was how seamlessly popular characters of canonical fairytales were woven into the narrative. Snow White is a a detective, you guys. A detective! The heroine who has the LEAST amount of agency (next to Sleeping Beauty) is a detective who kicks ass! How awesome is that? These characters are so cleverly written into the story that part of the pleasure in reading this novel comes from deciphering who is who. Kudos to Mr. Weston for that.
The other thing I really liked about this novel was its originality. It takes some pretty common elements and spins it into a tale that I bet none of you have ever dreamed up. It's like looking at the same world through a different set of lens.
This is not to say that this book is perfect. I wasn't able to get over the distance that came from the fact that Henry is a wolf (albeit a talking, human type wolf) and I, the reader, am human. That just may be me though. But if you suspend your belief just enough, Dust City will impress you and make you look at fairytales in a different way.(less)