Really liked this a lot. I love that the author doesn't try to make the protagonist some saint, you know? She's grown up in this terrible situation, a...moreReally liked this a lot. I love that the author doesn't try to make the protagonist some saint, you know? She's grown up in this terrible situation, and she is who it's made her. She's strong, though, and smart, and a survivor, but also scared, confused, uncertain. I love that a lot of the time she just has no idea what to do, but when it comes to surviving, that, she can do. However she has to.
The secondary characters are also interesting, and appealingly opaque. I don't know what their motivations are, or the truth of their feelings, until Katniss does, and am no more sure of them than she is.
Pretty much everyone has said everything about this book, so I'mma keep it short: I think Katniss is an absolutely terrific character, the world-building has a ton to say about where our society is currently headed and a fair amount to say about where it currently is, and I definitely recommend the book.
**spoiler alert** Pretty good book! I liked the protagonist, though I never quite felt emotionally engaged with her. I got a kick out of the writing,...more**spoiler alert** Pretty good book! I liked the protagonist, though I never quite felt emotionally engaged with her. I got a kick out of the writing, and I loved the way the author takes the current blogosphere and envisions where it will go in the future, and how something like a zombie apocalypse -- or anything that causes people to want to stay behind walls instead of getting out and engaging face to face with others -- would affect and encourage that.
I liked the explanation of what created the zombies -- it was about as plausible as that sort of thing gets, in my experience -- and the world-building of what a zombie-plagued world would be like. And I also really liked the secondary characters, though I only felt attached to a couple of them.
There were some flaws, though. The most glaring one is when a character's pet is killed in order to...well, actually, that's the flaw. Killing the pet was counter to the perpetrator's goal. I mean, if you're going to set a bomb in someone's living space and you want them to be in it when it goes off, why would you break their cat's neck and leave it there for them to find? It doesn't make sense. I mean, the author needed a reason for the protags to not be in their living spaces when the bomb goes off, but there are all kinds of reasons she could have used to get them out, reasons which would have made sense. This one both broke my heart (maybe it's telling that this is the only thing in the book that made me want to cry) and left me scratching my head about why it happened at all.
I also really dislike the ending. I thought it was very well-handled and made narrative sense, but it leaves me not much caring about the next one. I'm on a female-protagonist kick, I really want more stories about women, where it's her story, not her story about some guy, and this doesn't set it up for the sequel to be about that.
I loved this book. It's the first Bujold I've read, and it was recommended to me when I expressed a wish for more fantasy and SF books with women prot...moreI loved this book. It's the first Bujold I've read, and it was recommended to me when I expressed a wish for more fantasy and SF books with women protagonists who are NOT young, beautiful, sassy, snarky, and trying to choose among multiple sexy suitors -- these days, usually vampires or werewolves. I wanted to see a protagnist more like me. The person who recommended it also knows that I'm at a difficult point in my life, having spent the last eight years fully focused on caring for someone else and now trying to figure out how to be who I am when I'm not someone's caregiver anymore. It's hard, man, I mean, I knew it would be hard, but I didn't know it would be so confusing.
So I love that Ista, in Paladin of Souls, is in her forties. I love that she isn't described as some stunning beauty, that she's a bit out of shape, that she isn't in love with anyone and doesn't even seem to think it's an option. I love that she has strengths and weaknesses both, I love that sometimes she needs rescuing and sometimes she does it, and she uses whatever power she can, whether it's god-touched or just the power of being the Dowager Royina. She's not all-powerful, but she's strong, and that's better.
I love that the story is about her learning to be who she is now, instead of who she was. I love that it's about her finding her power, finding her own agency, finding out how to reclaim herself and her life. I love that the love story -- which is there -- isn't central. It comes about because of events, and it's part of Ista coming alive again but is not the cause of that, not at ALL.
I would read ALL the Ista stories. Alas, I think this is the only one. I'll definitely be looking for more Bujold, though.(less)
I like this a lot more than I thought I would. It's much more complex and political than I typically enjoy, with very little in the way of fantastical...moreI like this a lot more than I thought I would. It's much more complex and political than I typically enjoy, with very little in the way of fantastical elements -- another reviewer suggested it might be better called "historical fantasy", and I think you could make a case for that. But I found the characters compelling, the plot generally well-paced, and the writing strong. I've read several reviews that say it's misogynist or uses rape imagery inappropriately, but I disagree. I think that those elements are appropriate to the story that's being told, and I never got the sense that the audience was supposed to be titillated by them. And unlike much fantasy, some of the strongest characters in the book - both in the sense of being strongly written and of being strong people - are women characters. They're certainly why I keep reading.(less)
I actually haven't finished reading this book yet, and I'm not sure that I will, at least not soon. The problem isn't that the book isn't well done --...moreI actually haven't finished reading this book yet, and I'm not sure that I will, at least not soon. The problem isn't that the book isn't well done -- it's that it's so well done I don't know that I can take it.
I think the strongest thing about this novel is the world-building. Miller has created a world unlike anything I've read in modern fantasy fiction, and I find it utterly compelling. The details are amazing, and worked in subtly enough that I never felt like I was getting exposition or any info-dump. It's a brutal society, but there's a strange sort of beauty in it, too, and I'm fascinated by the religion. The characters are well-drawn as well, and although Hekat, the main character, is thoroughly unlikeable, that doesn't make her any less fascinating.
Alas, I can see where it's headed, and what sort of fate awaits certain characters that I do like, so I've put it down for now. I'll pick it back up again when I'm feeling more up to it.(less)
I really enjoyed this book. I haven't read much steampunk -- The Diamond Age, and I guess maybe one other -- because I haven't typically found either...moreI really enjoyed this book. I haven't read much steampunk -- The Diamond Age, and I guess maybe one other -- because I haven't typically found either the language or the setting to seem accessible to me. This, on the other hand, was very accessible, with a terrific protagonist and some great secondary characters. I love how strong and also flawed Briar was, and how she didn't flinch from what she had to but also wasn't written as some sort of superhero. I found I could relate to her. I also thoroughly enjoyed the world-building, and found the book engaging all the way through. I'm very curious to know what happens next. There's a sequel, as I understand it, and I'll definitely be adding it to my list.(less)
**spoiler alert** I hadn't read any Sherrilyn Kenyon before, but I see her name everywhere, usually with 3, 4, or 5 star reviews next to the book titl...more**spoiler alert** I hadn't read any Sherrilyn Kenyon before, but I see her name everywhere, usually with 3, 4, or 5 star reviews next to the book titles. I picked this one up in an airport when I was looking for some fun and not too weighty genre fiction. I chose it on the basis of the back cover, which made it sound like it would have both a strong female protagonist and an interesting male adversary/ally, and the opening, which seemed to set up a strong relationship between the protagonist and her sister. This appealed to me a lot.
Alas, I just can't get past the bad writing. I'm wondering if maybe Kenyon's earlier work is better, because this book desperately needs a good editor. The biggest problems for me are the repetitious, tell-don't-show prose, her over-use of the technique of setting off one sentence as its own paragraph for emphasis, and the clichéd and overblown characterizations.
For instance, our protagonist Shahara's introduction, after the initial promising start, gets really annoying really fast as it goes on about how responsible Shahara feels for her reckless wastrel sister and her other siblings, how poor they are, how determined she is, what a tough life they've had, how guilty she feels, and I'm just, lordy, can't we get this information through scenes rather than exposition?
Syn's introduction is no better. It begins with seven pages of what a bad mood he's in and how stupid anyone would be to mess with him when he's in a bad mood, because he's such an amazingly awesome and deadly opponent. I was rolling my eyes by a page and a half. An excerpt:
Unless he missed his guess, which he never did, six men were behind him. Only Syn and the six of them walked down the street at this late hour -- another factor that told him whoever it was wanted one thing --
"Come and get some," he muttered, unable to find an ounce of patience for anyone stupid enough to try and kill him. What little patience he possessed had ended hours ago.
You just made a bad mistake, boys. I definitely wouldn't want to be you.
'Cause tonight, he wanted blood without being particular as to whom he took it from. They were definitely in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Never attack a target who was already pissed off at someone else and at the universe in general -- someone who was aching for a fight and a whipping boy. It never ended well for the antagonists.
And so on and so forth.
The problems with this, for me, start with the idea of a character who never misses his guess, and more than that, being told in so many words that he never misses his guess. Then, all the words she uses to tell the reader that Syn's irritable and doesn't like it when people try to kill him.
And it just goes on like that, for seven pages. The author manages to work in some relevant backstory, but not very skilfully, and apart from that it's just all about how grouchy and bad-ass Syn is.
Then there are a couple of pages about his abusive dad and how he tries to forget his past, and another two about how much he hates women because of his ex-wife, "the woman he'd lived to make happy. The woman he'd given everything to. His heart. His soul. His life."
In the end it didn't matter that he'd treated her like royalty and would have sold his soul for a single rose to make her smile. Mara had betrayed him and taken everything he'd ever cared about for no other reason than his father had been a first-rank bastard and Syn, rather than lying down and dying, had fought to make a better life for himself.
It goes on in that vein for another half page, and revisits the theme here and there as the book continues. Such flat characterizations are not encouraging.
The fight scenes are plentiful and strange. For example: Shahara head-butted him, then scissor-kicked his chest. In a fluid roll, she scooped her blaster up from the floor and angled it at him. And I'm having a really hard time picturing this. A head-butt is a super close move, and a scissor kick is typically a flying kick, and she rolled from where, again? I don't know, it just doesn't make sense, and throws me out of the story.
Then there's little things like, "her face burst into flames" -- it took me a moment to realize the author meant she was blushing. Or the classic threat delivered during a fight scene:
"So help me, convict, if you ever touch a member of my family, I'll come for you. There's no hole in hell you can find that would be deep enough to hide you from my wrath."
Because, you know. That's how angry people pumped on adrenaline talk.
Also, expect a certain degree of bodice-ripper style romance, which was disappointing but at least seemed -- what I could read of it -- to be fairly standard bodice-ripper stuff.
A lot of people love this book, but I just can't bear it. The story may be good, but I can't read it for the writing.(less)