Entertaining with prospects for future hilarity. The same sloppiness present in Midnighters shows up here - why would the global body of humans or theEntertaining with prospects for future hilarity. The same sloppiness present in Midnighters shows up here - why would the global body of humans or the neural tweaks that provide superpowers have anything to do with the Western calendar - but it's not belabored. The dynamics between different sets of characters were well-developed, which is exciting when you're narrating from six perspectives plus a floating ensemble cast of families and normies and, uh, drug cartels.
Really clever and well-executed, as both a metafantasy and a story about families that don't quite function. The portrayal of unglamorous mental illneReally clever and well-executed, as both a metafantasy and a story about families that don't quite function. The portrayal of unglamorous mental illness and health problems is... god, that's new. As is the honesty of Mikey, Mel, and even Meredith in how little they trust their alcoholic & workaholic parents - it's not played as tragedy, just the way things are and have been. Siblings end up parenting each other and kids parent themselves, and it's not an after-school special, it's just how they get by.
And the indie kids concept? Hilarious. Thank you, Ness....more
This drags a lot more than the others in the series. 80% probability this is because Fforde was having his fourth daughter while writing it, and the eThis drags a lot more than the others in the series. 80% probability this is because Fforde was having his fourth daughter while writing it, and the explanation "well, it IS narrated by an A-8" is pretty watertight, if maybe a cop-out.
I still really enjoyed it, and the setting of the new geographic BookWorld is fascinating and hilarious. Also nice: that it addresses tension among conventional publishing, derivative/fanfiction works, self-published work, and the oh-whoops-that-autobiography-is-fabricated gambit. A lot of really hilarious commentary on writing as a hobby/art/job in the middle of your fancy transdimensional mystery....more
I don't have the proper words, here. As a Discworld novel, this stands out as the darkest - its tone is almost somber, even with the leavening of footI don't have the proper words, here. As a Discworld novel, this stands out as the darkest - its tone is almost somber, even with the leavening of footnotes and Feegles. The events are... shattering and building simultaneously, watching Tiffany grow into her steading and watching the Disc change, irrevocably, and knowing that it's the last we see of the Disc, and knowing they're raising steam into a future not so different from ours - I'm choking up.
The afterword included in this edition was extraordinarily moving.
Compared to what I remember of Will of the Empress and Melting Stones (which I read much more recently) - the events of this book seemed, narratively,Compared to what I remember of Will of the Empress and Melting Stones (which I read much more recently) - the events of this book seemed, narratively, to be the cornerstone of the Circle Reforged series, and while the imagery is amazing and while I adored Rosethorn as narrator and the shifting perspectives, it felt like a letdown. The writing lacks the spirit of the Circle or Circle Opens series, and that of Melting Stones; it seemed like Pierce just wanted to get it DONE to move on.
The descriptions of war-related PTSD and the changes that can occur in a person with traumatic treatment are clear and representative, which I think is quite valuable. Granted, the book finishes three weeks after the war does, not providing much room for the long-term effects (although these are covered, again in clear and kind detail, in the first two books in this series).
I loved the oddities and the gods in war - they were flat-out STRANGE, humorous, beautifully vivid, like in Emperor Mage/Realm of the Gods in the Tortall books. The God-King as a character was wonderful. Honestly, I loved all of the characters and their interactions, and some of the scenes are extraordinarily touching - just, as a whole, the book doesn't have the energy or drive of Pierce's others....more
Okay, this is adorable and brilliant - it started with a Tumblr post about disability politics and the racism, sexism, and ableism inherent in superheOkay, this is adorable and brilliant - it started with a Tumblr post about disability politics and the racism, sexism, and ableism inherent in superhero fiction and comics, and then the author of the Tumblr post went and freaking wrote it. Minnie is a wonderful heroine, and the first I could relate to regarding medical history. (My mobility impairments come and go, and I haven't yet needed mobility aids like canes or a wheelchair, but knowing a hospital like the back of my hand is AWFULLY familiar, as is being on first-name terms with the nurses in "your" department.)
I think the novella could benefit from a really tight edit, and I have a reflexive eye-roll tendency about the same people from the Matter of England showing up time after time after time in fantasy (Nick Flamel and Merlin get AROUND). But on the whole, this is such a clever inversion and subversion of superhero tropes, and Minnie is so great, and I am so glad I bought this and I'll be waiting for the sequels. Very excited to see where Rakoska goes with the series....more
Oh man oh man I loved these stories. First - Tpierce writing realistic fiction is a niche I did not realize I needed filled. Next, she addresses suchOh man oh man I loved these stories. First - Tpierce writing realistic fiction is a niche I did not realize I needed filled. Next, she addresses such strong deep issues in each of these - womanhood in so many contexts, found families, unappreciated talents, controlling parents, caste systems, brutality against homeless people - in the lovely familiar childhood/early-adolescence home of Tortall and its countries (not to mention Earth, a couple times). All sorts of details on Tortall and the immortals - "The Dragon's Tale" is flat-out hilarious. "Lost" talks about the importance and fun of math and engineering; you don't get that in YA fantasy. "Plain Magic" does a really sweet twist on the Andromeda myth, as well as the textiles goodness that only shows up in the Circle of Magic series.
Also, "Nawat" convinced me to actually freaking read the Trickster books - the first left me cold when I tried it in high school.
The five-star rating is definitely part happy comfort reading, but the stories are well-executed and the characters are great. You can have both!...more
I would fight anyone in a second about the structural intelligence and charm of this freaking novel. And I'd win the fight. I fight mean.
It’s writtenI would fight anyone in a second about the structural intelligence and charm of this freaking novel. And I'd win the fight. I fight mean.
It’s written as a mix of primary (diaries! letters!) and secondary (accounts from someone who heard about the thing!) and tertiary (encyclopedias!) sources. This allows Murdock to develop characters in an INSTANT - Tips' misspellings and cross-outs, Ben's humor and concern, Dizzy's impulsiveness - as well as ground the story within her own fictional world. The plot hinges on Shakespearean mechanics - withholding crucial information from some characters but telling all of it to the audience, and you just have to wait to see when everyone figures everything out and gets it all sorted.
It was a really entertaining way to dig at fairy-tale nobility stereotypes and fairy-tale politics and skepticism and politicos who really just like plants and a truly astounding range of storytelling tropes, and I am utterly charmed.
I mean, I wanna smack Tips upside the head, but I am absolutely charmed....more
Twisted, bizarre, lovely little collection of flash fiction and two longer stories, both of which were wonderful. "Fixed" in particular is great. I'mTwisted, bizarre, lovely little collection of flash fiction and two longer stories, both of which were wonderful. "Fixed" in particular is great. I'm really glad I came across this chapbook and this author from the Athena's Daughters, Vol. 1 Kickstarter campaign....more
I'm not certain how to feel about this, other than sort of sad and sort of deflated.
The background mythology of the setting is a mashup of every MatteI'm not certain how to feel about this, other than sort of sad and sort of deflated.
The background mythology of the setting is a mashup of every Matter of Britain piece prior to Bede, which makes it both self-contradictory and aware of its contrariness. The timing is unspecific - prior to the main settlement of Britain by Saxons, but only by a generation or so, which conflicts wildly with the main characters' Christianity and, more so, their assumption that all other Britons are Christian and that all Saxons are pagan. All of these could be retconned by the book's driving mechanism of institutional forgetfulness, but that's sloppy, and of all the things Ishiguro's writing can be, sloppy has never been one.
The fourth-wall painting in the first section of the book was the most irritating thing I'd ever run into in a novel, and I'm still uncertain of its purpose. It came across almost like a dig at the early Narnia books, where C.S. Lewis is trying to tell his child-age readers that the same things could happen to them, that these children are just like you, that you, too, could hide in a closet and come to rule a kingdom, but it was more mannered and less promising and just served to distance me further from the characters.
And the characters - their lack of being, aside from two Saxons introduced in the middle of the novel, could be retconned by the historical memory lapse, but I'm not certain it should be. Axl and Beatrice love each other; that's about all that defines them. Beatrice is careful; Axl is observant; they are getting old; they love each other. Perhaps that's enough, when the author is taking on the mess that is British history and mythology and legend all at once.
It almost, almost works as a fantasy novel. It almost works as a piece of historical fiction. It does work as a commentary on the vagaries of history and records and legends-as-history and storytelling as cultural preservation. But it frames itself as a story, very carefully and very self-consciously, and distances itself from the very things that would make it a satisfying one as a consequence. Intentionally? I'm not sure.
I'm not sorry I read it. I think it's worth reading, especially if you like pre-Hastings Britain and the Round Table legends....more
This rings a lot like Daughter of Smoke & Bone but without the... preciousness of Karou (ah, how cultured and edgy an MC) and the angels-versus-deThis rings a lot like Daughter of Smoke & Bone but without the... preciousness of Karou (ah, how cultured and edgy an MC) and the angels-versus-demons fight. Echo is a snot in a leather jacket who messes up a bunch and has sarcastic arguments with her inner voice, and it's delightful, and I love her dearly although I have some strong feelings about near-immortals being like "ah yes, this 17-year-old, the love of my life," like, chill, you are as old as the Constitution. But a YA book has not yet been written - aside from maybe the Cathy's Book: If Found Call 650-266-8233 trilogy - that addresses romance between humans and quasi-immortals in a way I've found satisfying and not bordering on creepy.
I'm also really pleased that the book acknowledges friendship between girls. They're not rivals! Ivy and Echo legitimately love each other and acknowledge each other's faults and are fiercely protective of each other and have their own inside jokes and snot at each other about their respective crushes! It's beautiful! I'm hoping the sequels get more into Ivy's brain.
I think the only thing I found somewhat structurally awkward about this was the number of main characters it tried to paint completely. We get a few chapters from Ivy, a couple from Dorian, one from Jasper... It's a little scattered, and I just hope and pray that the sequels deliver on these characters and don't get all tunnel-vision on Echo and [spoiler] with the deja vu relationship should-we-or-shouldn't-we dynamic. Because that's old, and this book accomplished so much that is new and interesting, both in terms of content and characterization....more
This is very different from most McKinley, most like Sunshine and not even in the vicinity of Deerskin or her other myth/fairy tale retellings. It hasThis is very different from most McKinley, most like Sunshine and not even in the vicinity of Deerskin or her other myth/fairy tale retellings. It has the same infectious enthusiastic (kind of self-absorbed, kind of self-aware of self-absorption) teenager narration as Dragonhaven, with as much in-medias-res "wait what are half the words you're using?" confusion. Similar to "First Flight" in Fire: Tales of Elemental Spirits, too.
But oh my god is it fun. Maggie, the narrator, is magnificent, and the descriptions in the novel of grief and families and teenagerhood are so spot-on, for me. McKinley also has her glorious non-descriptive method of describing indescribables, what would be eldritch horrors in less friendly novels but are instead just... other. She still manages to evoke them completely, in the same way that Diane Duane does when describing an extradimensional being that, regardless of number of perceived legs or accuracy of projection into a three-dimensional plane, is with you in your fight, against whatever it is, and no matter how little you'd have in common regarding diet or day-to-day culture you know that you have its back and it has yours.
My point being - this is (what seems like) (possibly because I've read McKinley's books wildly out of publication order) a departure from her stories set in typical low- or no-tech magical-oddness-taken-for-granted societies, but it's a great one. As a YA novel it's beautiful in showing friendship and diversity, and the subcommentary on security theater is delightfully nasty. I love Jill and Taks and Mongo and Hix and how Maggie refers to a group of three humans, seven dogs, and a murderous Maine Coon as "eleven people."...more