This properly contextualizes Regency romances - I have this vague idea of Austen's novels taking place on sunny (or rainy or muddy) green parklands wi...moreThis properly contextualizes Regency romances - I have this vague idea of Austen's novels taking place on sunny (or rainy or muddy) green parklands with big (or small) grand (or slightly shabby but we certainly wouldn't go so far as to comment on it) houses filled with milling ladies and gentlemen of quality in fashions of the time, detached from all that occurred around them, and this book GROUNDS them. And fills in the Bennets, as well, and goes and tells a really excellent story along with it. I'm really pleased with this one.(less)
I don't have the right shelving categories for this book. It's an amazing, measured, loving, hopeful, real look at a teenage girl's childhood and adol...moreI don't have the right shelving categories for this book. It's an amazing, measured, loving, hopeful, real look at a teenage girl's childhood and adolescence under the Taliban, firmly contextualizing her beautiful valley's existence within both the area's history and its place in world politics today.(less)
It hits the same problems I had with Before I Fall and the ten pages of The Time Traveler's Wife I managed to get through: if you're going to have a literary book that hinges on a theory of quantum mechanics (alternate universes and divergent timelines), you need to explain your mechanics. It doesn't need to be rigorous. You just need to acknowledge that yes, you're screwing around with timelines, and that, in the universe of the novel, that is permissible.
And there's the racism, sexism, homophobia, misogyny, antisemitism, ableism that one is just supposed to expect of a period novel. I'm tired of that. I hate how psychiatry and mental illness is treated in this book. Of course it's going to be awful, it's written to take place between 1910 and 1970! Everything just sucked then!
Sure, but if we're going to go through it ten times in five hundred pages, you better start looking at it more carefully.
The two sets of arc words are at odds. "Practice makes perfect" versus "needs must"? As Ursula is written as being aware of her own narrative weirdness, neither. makes. sense.
It's a cleverly-done trick to explore the different paths available to a woman in interwar Britain, without having to develop more than one character. That's like having four save points for the same Sim that you like, so that one can be a rock star and another can be a scientist and a third can be a politician and another is a housebound novelist who gardens. It's literary cheating. I feel cheated. I never got a narrative out of this; I got a portrait of how much it sucked to be alive for half a century.
Of course, the book is beautifully written, and Atkinson did some very, very smart things when shuffling timelines. She took every opportunity she had to build up the background characters more, so the end result was like this character ensemble portrait where one person just happens to be ten or twelve people in the picture. Her word use is gorgeous and I'm looking forward to reading other books of hers.
I think I'm just cranky because Connie Willis does this right, and seeing it done wrong, or almost right, or fudged so that it'll be swallowed by lit critics, feels like an insult.(less)
This picked up a LOT in the last third, and became super awesome once all identities were revealed and all ladies started being baller as hell, but th...moreThis picked up a LOT in the last third, and became super awesome once all identities were revealed and all ladies started being baller as hell, but the writing throughout is so dull and transparent and bluhhhhhhh and Finnikin is one of my least favorite narrators of ever and fffffffffff but I'll read the others because the scorched-earth kingdom getting back on its feet ruled by ladies who are harder than granite and not gonna deal with anyone's BS is a pretty good story.(less)
**spoiler alert** OKAY THIS BOOK WAS REALLY IMPORTANT BECAUSE it actually was like "no dudes there's a war on we actually lack the resources to devote...more**spoiler alert** OKAY THIS BOOK WAS REALLY IMPORTANT BECAUSE it actually was like "no dudes there's a war on we actually lack the resources to devote angst to this idiot love triangle where multiple members were presumed dead or mortal enemies for like over half a year so let's just kind of attempt to be adults, which we are not, fighting a war, which we are, and not get into idiot fights" and when there was an idiot fight the girl it was over was like "YOU ARE WASTING VALUABLE CALORIC ENERGY HERE, GUYS", and then, AND THEN, the actual crux of the book occurs when her one-time best friend (a girl, who has received destructive and disabling brain surgery) tells her how to save her youngest girl cousin, and the best friend leaves her abusive husband-to-be to be blown up, and the main character's thing that makes her believe that all of her last year of trauma was worth it is that she knows that her mother will meet her cousin, that her best friend is not lost, and that there'll be time to sort out whatever's going on with the dudes but who really cares after all this crap?
When Alex came back in the last chapter of Pandemonium, I actually threw something because I was so mad there was a freaking love triangle that Lauren Oliver was going to try to make me care about while there's a literal revolution about ruling parties using enforced brain surgery, medical invasion, as a tool of oppression. I wasn't looking forward to reading this one at all because of that - I like Alex as a character, but god, don't make me care about romantic angst during the culmination of a nation-wide war against manipulative politicized medicine enforced to keep people tractable. That's too many things.
Oliver handled it extraordinarily well, though - she also realized it was too many things, but was like "well, them's the breaks", and when Lena considered her own situation it was almost always ruled by frustration. There are a few absolutely heartbreaking scenes where she's trying to process her first love coming back from the dead, as she experienced it, and even though the story is entirely from her (and Hana's) point of view, you can see that Alex is traumatized too, and reacting from that position. Julian's just been ripped from his family and thrown into the woods, and he knows there's stuff up with Alex and Lena, but for the most part, he's working for the resistance, for freedom, and he seems to recognize - even though Lena is his first love - that first doesn't necessarily mean "only".
That's really what I liked the best about the way this concluded, even though the ending is fairly open: the point of the series was that emotional openness is necessary for humanity to survive and communicate and continue. Lena and Hana don't know what tomorrow is going to be like, but they know that it's going to happen, and for both of them, even with all of the pain and terror behind them, that is enough.
(And also I just was really pleased that the book hinged on interactions between women, not on Lena choosing her Edward or her Jacob.)(less)
A couple friends of mine haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaated this book and I don't know if I'm just liking it in self-defense but I really enjoyed it. Especially wit...moreA couple friends of mine haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaated this book and I don't know if I'm just liking it in self-defense but I really enjoyed it. Especially with the actual theme and plot arc, which are much more about disability politics than the first book intimates. This one really opened up the scope of the trilogy and made it a lot more hard sci-fi than the sort of fun-with-physics videogame feel of the first two books.
I'm not happy about the ending, but that's part of the point of the ending. I feel it's a pretty freaking well done YA series, and I'm excited to see what else Roth writes.(less)