This adventure novel is not really what I was expecting. I’ve seen the Hitchcock movie version of The 39 Steps and have really never understood what a...moreThis adventure novel is not really what I was expecting. I’ve seen the Hitchcock movie version of The 39 Steps and have really never understood what all the fuss about that movie was, since I found it both implausible and uninteresting. The book is probably just as implausible but is much more absorbing. My favorite thing about the book is the main character, Richard Hannay, and how ready for adventure he is after the boredom of civilized life. Hannay is resourceful and clever, but always has a sense of humor about himself and his mistakes. Unlike the movie, there is no beautiful blonde accompanying Richard on his adventures, and unlike the movie, the thirty-nine steps are just what they sound like. The book is a portrait of England at a time when Europe was teetering on the brink of World War I and German spies were thought to be everywhere. That backdrop gives the mystery depth and makes for an involving, entertaining read.(less)
I liked the way the author created an atmosphere with this book that really seemed to reflect and re-create the spirit and attitude of the twenties. T...moreI liked the way the author created an atmosphere with this book that really seemed to reflect and re-create the spirit and attitude of the twenties. The beginning of the story, as we encounter Letty and Cordelia and see their determination to escape their small town and go to New York, really drew me in. The image of John, the boy Cordelia ditched, watching her train depart without making a move to stop her, was heartbreaking and poignant. Astrid, with her over-privileged, under-cared-for existence, was an equally well-drawn character, although I never understood her love for Charlie. I didn't think the author did a good job of showing why she was so in love with him no matter what he did--or who he was, for that matter. The last chapter of the book, however, was a big letdown. I really would like to read a book where the author completes the thought, rather than setting up the next story. What happened to concentrating on making this story perfect, and relying on your talent to bring readers back to buy your next book? As it is, Bright Young Things ends in an improbably tied-together and all-too-abrupt fashion that left me very unsatisfied, and not at all inclined to look for the next book. In fact, I didn't even bother to read the teaser that was included with this version. The ending was the difference between three stars and four, but I still enjoyed the book overall.(less)
It's always interesting to see how a classic like this differs from the many Hollywood adaptations. In this case, the book is very little like the lur...moreIt's always interesting to see how a classic like this differs from the many Hollywood adaptations. In this case, the book is very little like the lurid depictions of Mr. Hyde and his doings. In the book, Hyde's depravities are mostly offstage, and the reader learns about them through Jekyll's elegant euphemisms. In fact, the last half of the book is entirely Jekyll's narration of events through the means of a letter he leaves for his friend Utterson. It's a device that probably wouldn't fly today, but was possibly necessary in RLS's day, to avoid detailing just what Hyde had been up to. Some of the language in this book is a bit turgid and I occasionally had to re-read passages to get the gist of them, but I still enjoyed reading it. It's an interesting look at the duality of human nature and what happens to those who give in to the dark side.(less)
I don't remember the last time I read a book that kept me reading until 1:00 in the morning, but this book did. Not only is it suspenseful, but the au...moreI don't remember the last time I read a book that kept me reading until 1:00 in the morning, but this book did. Not only is it suspenseful, but the author has created a world of such depth and believability that once I was caught up in the story, I never doubted any of it. The ending broke my heart a little bit, and I can't imagine where the next book will take the story, but I can easily see why this series is so popular. I can't wait to pick up Catching Fire.(less)
I'm not sure how I feel about this book. I liked it up to a point, but, for me, it fell apart a little at the end. I appreciate how the overall story...moreI'm not sure how I feel about this book. I liked it up to a point, but, for me, it fell apart a little at the end. I appreciate how the overall story is turning away from merely surviving the Hunger Games, to fighting back against the capital, but I felt like this book wasn't as well-crafted, or even as well-written, as the first--as if there were a little hurry to produce it, which there probably was. For the most part, Catching Fire is done well and the way the author brings Peeta and Katniss back into the arena was clever and even plausible--but I wasn't expecting them to have to face the ordeal again. Obviously, I knew there would be no easy, happy ending for them, but I found I didn't have much appetite for reading about their having to go through another Hunger Games. Overall, though, I love the characters the author has created and how she shows their different strengths. It would be easy to dismiss Peeta as weak, but his strength is different from Katniss' and I like how Katniss comes to appreciate him, if not quite love him. ("You could live a hundred lifetimes and not deserve him, you know," Haymitch says.) I'm wary of picking up Mockingjay but I have to find out what happens--which means the author has crafted a riveting, suspenseful series, even if this book wasn't quite as good as the first.(less)
**spoiler alert** This is a story about a girl, Abby, who moves to Alaska, discovers a boy hiding in her bedroom, tries to help him, and then learns t...more**spoiler alert** This is a story about a girl, Abby, who moves to Alaska, discovers a boy hiding in her bedroom, tries to help him, and then learns that not only is the boy a clone, but that her molecular biologist father is working for the underground laboratory that created him. It's an intriguing premise and one that drew me in from the very beginning. In fact, I bought the book based on the Kindle sample of the first few chapters. Unfortunately, I didn't think the rest of the book was quite as successful as that beginning.
First, it was a problem for me that the story is meant to take place in contemporary times. Maybe if it had been set in the future, or some sort of alternate reality, it wouldn't have raised so many questions for me, but as the story continued, it struck me as really far-fetched that one scientist would be so far ahead of the rest of the world in cloning technology. Forget about Dolly the sheep, Dr. Kane clones himself--with varying degrees of success, admittedly--but eventually turning out humans that no one can tell from people created the old fashioned way. And since the escaped clone, Martyr, and many of the other clones are nearly 18 years old (and there were other clones before them) we're left to conclude that Dr. Kane is not only light years ahead of the rest of the scientific world but has been for a couple of decades. It was a difficult leap to make. And it was equally difficult to understand how the doctor could have this giant underground laboratory (actually three laboratories) that can accommodate over 50 clones, plus guards and scientists, without anyone in the town realizing what's going on there.
I also questioned the necessity for Abby and Martyr's investigation of the clone farm. Abby insists that they need hard evidence ("probable cause" as she terms it) before they can go to the police and tell them about Jason Farms. But it seemed to me that since she finds one of the clones, complete with implanted tracking device and shock collar, and since her father can give a firsthand account of what is going on in the underground laboratory--and readily admits that what Jason Farms is doing is wrong--they have all the hard evidence the police could possibly need. Instead of going to the police with this evidence, though, she and her father lie to the authorities to throw the Jason Farms thugs off their track, and then begin investigating so they can find "hard evidence." This made little sense to me. Nor did it help that Abby, who describes herself as smart and who is interested in science and law enforcement, so often resorts to violence when she doesn't get her way. She slaps, punches, and even spits on people who cross her. Abby is trying to bring her father to God and does manage to convert Martyr along the way, but her actions--such as beating on a police officer when he doesn't do what she wants--often spoke louder than her words.
Another question I had while reading: why do the 50+ clones have such differing personalities? To be fair, that is also one of the questions in the study guide included with the book, so the author may well have accounted for this and I just missed it. But I just kept thinking that all these boys were cloned from the same man, all raised in the same environment, by the same people. It's easy to see how some clones might turn out physically better than others, but why does Martyr have a conscience when the others don't? Why is it his instinct to protect the weaker boys (the "brokens") when it is his fellow clones' instinct to torment them? The clones are raised under barbarous conditions, in a laboratory environment, where no one shows them any affection or moral guidance, with cruel guards, shock collars, and brutal punishments for misbehavior. It's Lord of the Flies times twenty, making it unsurprising when we learn that the clones attacked and murdered the only female doctor at Jason Farms. In fact, it's logical that the clones would be as brutal and amoral as their environment. But in the midst of all of this is Martyr, who looks out for the others, thinks about right and wrong, and just wants to see the sky before he expires. If it's the author's point that life cannot be controlled by science, only by God, I wasn't quite ready to believe it. I found myself remembering the news stories about Romanian orphanages in the 90s and the babies raised there who were undersized and severely developmentally delayed because no one ever picked them up. They weren't starved for food, or water, or warmth, they were starved for affection. There may be a divine spark in all of us, but clearly it needs to be fanned by human contact and attachment, and these clones never receive that. This made Martyr's conversion to Christianity (which happened at lightning speed), and especially his philosophical attitude and sacrifice at the end of the story, difficult to believe.
Overall, this is an interesting story, and I appreciate the message the author is trying to convey about the sanctity of human life, but the questionable plot, and the occasionally labored prose ("the voracious capacity of his eyes") kept me from enjoying it as much as I would have liked. (less)
This is an interesting, if not riveting, entry in the Strange Angels series. The first half of the book felt a little slow to me--sometimes I got the...moreThis is an interesting, if not riveting, entry in the Strange Angels series. The first half of the book felt a little slow to me--sometimes I got the impression the author was relating the story in real time--and not much really happens plot-wise for a significant portion of the book. Jealousy ends with an appropriately suspenseful cliffhanger and I definitely want to pick up the next book in the series, but there were a few odd things about the writing of this story that really niggled at me while I was reading it. For instance, the author repeated certain words or phrases throughout the book. People stamp around a lot; people subtract things from each other's hands; more than once, Dru reflects that her thinker is busted; and people look at each other as if they've made an embarrassing bodily noise. Nothing wrong with any of those phrases, necessarily, but they stand out when repeated, and it made me wonder how closely this story was edited. Jealousy isn't a bad book--it held my interest and I zipped through it--but I don't think that if I hadn't already been pulled into the series by the first two books, I would be interested in reading on.(less)
I enjoyed this book to an extent, and I can certainly see why the series is as popular as it is. But overall, this book was a bit of a slog for me. I...moreI enjoyed this book to an extent, and I can certainly see why the series is as popular as it is. But overall, this book was a bit of a slog for me. I can read YA and make allowances for being well past the age of the target audience, but reading middle grade fare is another story. Harry, Ron, and Hermione were entertaining to a degree, but their adventures at school were not terribly compelling to me, and I don't care if I never read about another quidditch match. I didn't hate the book--it was a fun, quick read--but I don't think I'll be looking for the next one any time soon.(less)
For the most part, I liked this book. I thought the author did a good job of world building, and I especially liked the way the story drew me in with...moreFor the most part, I liked this book. I thought the author did a good job of world building, and I especially liked the way the story drew me in with its portrait of a young girl dealing with a situation that she thinks is one thing--her mother's hoarding problem--that turns out to be something quite different. I also liked the relationship between Nali and Garrett and enjoyed watching it develop. The author does a good job of describing the changes Nali undergoes and makes the reader care about the decisions that she has to make.
What detracted from the book, though, were the errors. The author thanks a bunch of people at the end of the story for reading the manuscript before publication, but apparently not one of them knows enough grammar to help the author recognize errors like this:
There is enough room to seat my mom and I...
His voice is so low that I doubt anyone else hears it but Kris and I.
I counted more than a dozen such errors. Clearly, object pronouns are not this author's strong suit. There were also numerous misused words: purest instead of purist, gravely instead of gravelly, and the ever popular it's where its was called for. And anytime the author used the plural of the Reese family name, it came with an apostrophe.
The Reese's go quiet in the other room...
There were also stray typos and punctuation errors throughout the manuscript, especially around dialog. It's a shame really, because the story has a great deal of potential, and the author does a good job of creating characters the reader cares about. But the errors were a big distraction. I certainly understand the temptation for authors to self-publish these days, but without a professional copy edit, the results can be less than optimal.(less)