Compelling characters and an incident - a tragedy - I'd never heard of, plus a host of voices not often heard in WWII YA. Unfortunately, the writing sCompelling characters and an incident - a tragedy - I'd never heard of, plus a host of voices not often heard in WWII YA. Unfortunately, the writing style - fragments, repetition, vague pronouns, tiny simple sentences, each narrator asking the same questions - was really offputting for me. Parallel structure is interesting; identical structure is suspect....more
The subject matter is nominally heavy and a few times Armentrout's writing and dialogue match it, but I was really... disconcerted by the sudden tonalThe subject matter is nominally heavy and a few times Armentrout's writing and dialogue match it, but I was really... disconcerted by the sudden tonal shifts between recovering-with-debilitating-PTSD and giddy-teenager-who-uses-words-like-hawt and fill-in-the-blank str8 romance. Like, the problem was most definitely not that the narrator had a personality separate from "survivor," bless that, but the... shallowness? superficiality and bog-standard mannerisms of the heroine of a contemporary YA romance - those strained credulity next to the descriptions of panic attacks.
It's still good, but I wasn't really absorbed at any point while reading. The tone shifts threw me too hard....more
I.... don't know how I feel about this as a novel, as like a piece of formulted work that is intended for mass(ish) consumption. It rides the border bI.... don't know how I feel about this as a novel, as like a piece of formulted work that is intended for mass(ish) consumption. It rides the border between torture porn and an exploration of the survival of an incredibly messed-up, intricate, generations-spanning experience of formalized trauma - similar to how the actual crime, the investigated one that is the main plot of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, is played. The way Maya is written, her laconicism and dry humor, kept it just on the side of humanity - a woman describing her life, which includes sexual trauma, rather than a woman's suffering being the point - for me personally, but that line differs for everyone.
The subject matter is so deeply messed up (cws include: kidnapping, drugging, rape, severe violence, Stockholm syndrome, parental abandonment) it seems unreal, except for the author's mechanism of intersplicing Maya's narrative with procedural post-bust FBI crap from the perspective of a sleep-deprived elder agent and his hotheaded (and also sleep-deprived) younger squadmate. Those slices are brutally real and serve to anchor the entire novel effectively; it was a wise formatting decision on the part of the author.
In terms of the writing - it's well-done. Maya's narrative is fluid, clear, and sometimes poetic; the perspective character in the FBI scenes is complex and sympathetic. I read it in a few hours, partially because I was desperate to know how it ended and partially just because it flowed so quickly.
As to how it ends... probably the strongest aspect of the novel is how it treats the consequences and repercussions of every individual's actions, emphasizing that long-term trauma of the type described (abduction, prolonged imprisonment) doesn't end. How the public sees victims, how families react to missing children, how victims have to acclimate to freedom, the treatment of the perpetrators' uninvolved family members, the prospect of trials and criminal cases and god once they started talking about calling lawyers in front of Maya I'm pretty sure she would have immediately aged about a decade.
It's a weird set of contrasts: the Garden is sealed off utterly, insular, a jewel box or a (FUcKED UP) museum; the effects of the Butterflies' release/escape from it reach everywhere, and the novel manages to address that balance of bizarre isolated homes-within-prisons and the infinite compounding consequences of publicly destroying such homes....more
This selection of stories is very well described by Liu as a sampler - it runs from Chinese mythology in a mythological past through the hHoooly crap.
This selection of stories is very well described by Liu as a sampler - it runs from Chinese mythology in a mythological past through the historical industrial revolutions of various continents to twenty-minutes-into-the-future to far-future views of human evolution. The tones and styles vary from fictive textbooks (The Bookmaking Habits of Select Species) to future-noir (The Regular) to interspersions of folktale and narrative, history and present, subjective and objective.
Time is a major focus: the passage, recording, witnessing, repressing, altering, and preserving of it. Liu's breadth of vision is wonderful within this focus, and I'm excited to read more of his work....more
Precisely as the author's note says: "certainly the Kingdom of Hawaii existed; almost certainly a time-traveling pirate ship does not." Dips into a loPrecisely as the author's note says: "certainly the Kingdom of Hawaii existed; almost certainly a time-traveling pirate ship does not." Dips into a lot of mythology sources, and the emotional wringing of being a teenager with an addict parent comes through, but it doesn't quite hang together - the stakes seem more like checkpoints.
Am I spoiled for worldbuilding by my previous reading, or is there really a spate of novels-to-be-trilogies with crap worldbuilding that are skating by on pomo-slipstream premises? Confirmation bias suggests a combination.
And the physics is shoddy. You can't do self-aware spacetime manipulation in #currentyear without at LEAST paying lip service to Hawking or invoking topological pants.
It strikes me that I have very strong views regarding the execution of time travel in speculative fiction and fantasy. Also, that I read the majority of this book while daydrunk. Like, the emotional distance may be a chemical illusion.
Also, unnecessary romantic stupidity. Who cares about a Blake....more