Unrelenting grimness finally gives way to some compelling action scenes halfway through the novel, though the splicing between viewpoints is clumsy anUnrelenting grimness finally gives way to some compelling action scenes halfway through the novel, though the splicing between viewpoints is clumsy and needlessly coy. The worldbuilding continues to be original and impressive, while the narrative craft remains amateurish. No improvement on the romance front—thank goodness for secondary characters!...more
Parasitic aliens invade Earth and the bodies of humans, but humans aren't always passive hosts: Melanie Stryder isn't. Even though an alien known as WParasitic aliens invade Earth and the bodies of humans, but humans aren't always passive hosts: Melanie Stryder isn't. Even though an alien known as Wanderer—because she's lived on so many different planets, a rare example of a restlessness among her species—uses her jellyfish-like tendrils to take control of Melanie's body, Melanie's memories, emotions, and consciousness won't quit. Inundated by foreign feelings, Wanderer develops a deep affinity for Melanie's world and is driven to seek out those whom Melanie cares for.
Meyer's setup is good and her denouement is satisfying, though her worldbuilding is unintentionally laughable (you thought sparkly vampires were bad?). But damn is she good at depicting yearning—for connection, for family, for love. Her characters long palpably; at the same time they struggle with feelings of unworthiness. I'm no spring chicken pushover, but I can relate deeply to these feelings—I think most of us can if we're honest with ourselves. Don't get me wrong: "Wanda," as she comes to be called, is dragged, hit, thrown, and abused far too many times for my liking. Even though a passive martyrdom is ostensibly inherent in her species, her refusal to lift a finger to protect herself is overdone (though it conveniently requires frequent rescue by hunky male characters). As with Twilight, an angsty masochism pervades Meyer's writing: for some readers, this is tantamount to anti-feminism and will ruin the experience. For others, myself included, it intensifies and dramatizes the story, the occasional eye roll notwithstanding. And later on we put the book (or iPad) down and go back to our IRL ball-busting ways....more
Lush and atmospheric, Daughter of Smoke and Bone boasts an inventive mythology—angels and demons is far too reductive a description, and it's a pleasuLush and atmospheric, Daughter of Smoke and Bone boasts an inventive mythology—angels and demons is far too reductive a description, and it's a pleasure to revel in Ms. Taylor's imagination. You can't help but have a little crush on blue-haired and tatted up Karou, and some of the secondary characters are pretty lovable as well. The mystery is good, and there is enough mystery leftover to propel a reader into the sequels. But the romance! The romance slipped on a banana peel and is helpless—lifeless—on the cafeteria floor. Are you OK, romance? Don't you want to get up off that cold, hard floor and move around a bit? Nah, I'm good. I've made my presence known. But us readers would like to get to know you a bit, to warm up to you and all. Selfish readers. Just leave me alone. Don't you know epic, fated, insta-love-at-first-sight when you see it? Back off and fill in the blanks yourself. Isn't it your job to, uh, convince us of this? What are you, nuts? Stop pestering me. I have important things to do like look up at the track lighting and tally popular shoe trends. It's nice down here. ...more
The Fever series is great fun, and the books keep getting better. The setup is standard, if not derivative: Mac Lane is pretty and shallow, but she isThe Fever series is great fun, and the books keep getting better. The setup is standard, if not derivative: Mac Lane is pretty and shallow, but she is special! She is just coming into her specialness, and it kinda sucks! (It's OK, Mac, you're not alone: Buffy and Sookie were born with special relationships to supernatural creatures and top-secret missions, too!) Bewildered by the grief of her sister's murder, Mac gets on a plane to Dublin to find answers. She'll get her answers, but not before she must ask a whole lot more questions—for one, why she hallucinates terrifying creatures every now and then...
Here's why I think these books are so popular (and why I liked them, too): Moning stays with Mac, who grows throughout the five books (yes, clear your schedule: there are five! and you will read them in a row!). She follows through on her plot. Her pacing is mostly impeccable. Her mythology seems consistent and only slightly overcomplicated. And the slow-burn romance is the work of a master. This is genre fiction at its best, folks: crack with a HEA. The analog that comes to mind is in a totally different genre: the Millennium series by Stieg Larsson. The difference is that I could see myself reading these puppies again. ...more
Kate Elliott and I clearly share a romantic fantasy in common: to be on the receiving end of a my-love-must-be-a-kind-of-blind-love. "I can't see anyoKate Elliott and I clearly share a romantic fantasy in common: to be on the receiving end of a my-love-must-be-a-kind-of-blind-love. "I can't see anyone but you..." (And all the while me and Kate and Lily and Tess get to be attracted to multiple people and sometimes even act out on it without jeopardizing our desirability!) Because let's face it: the Hawk/Kyosti and Lily [Insert-Last-Name-du-Jour-Here] romance is what kept me reading through these three novels, not the silly space opera nonsense, which I won't even bother to summarize. I won't spoil the details of the romance, but I found it thought provoking, satisfying, and transfixing. (And no, this doesn't mean that I'd want events exactly replicated in my own life. This is what we call fantasy, folks. It's OK to like it.)
I do have some qualms with Lily, the Buffy-like main character. She is strong but stupidly willful, as compulsive as a moth to a flame when it comes to falling for traps, and her whims drive a flimsy, episodic plot. The only reason she gets out of these messes is because she has a lot of heart and makes a ton of friends along the way, and these friends always show up in the nick of time. A woman's true strength always turns out to be the extent to which she can inspire devotion and loyalty. (Though maybe this is ultimately true of both genders--think Harry Potter.) Lily refuses to process facts that stare her in face, which means she's always a thousand steps behind a perceptive reader. Wake up, buttercup!
Bottom line: Kate Elliott is masterful at a certain kind of romance. Her secondary characters are wonderful. But this isn't the finest example of her ability to plot and to world-build. I still want to read everything she's written, though....more