3.5 stars I enjoyed this overall, particularly the physical scenes, the setting, the transformation scenes (she's so good at those!), Maya's relations3.5 stars I enjoyed this overall, particularly the physical scenes, the setting, the transformation scenes (she's so good at those!), Maya's relationship with her parents, and some of the unexpected humor. But this origins story is somewhat hampered by the fact that you already know much of what is going on thanks to the companion series Darkest Powers Trilogy (not to mention strong clues dropped throughout), so you're spending much of your time waiting for Maya to catch up. Feels a bit too much like a set-up book.
But it's a good start to the series, and I'm looking forward to the next. I'm just grateful I waited until they were all available to start the trilogy. ...more
I really, really wanted to like this book. I'm a fan of novels set during the Victorian era, as I've always been very interested in how thinking, reasI really, really wanted to like this book. I'm a fan of novels set during the Victorian era, as I've always been very interested in how thinking, reasoning people-especially women--manage to survive in such a repressive society. It's the same reason I like Jane Austen novels, because the yearning for connection with other human beings is so often at odds with the strict customs of the day.
There's a tendency now in books for authors to just ignore those rules and just barrel forward with whatever story or agenda they may want to promote. I know that it's difficult from a modern standpoint to write about a spirited heroine without bending some rules here and there, but it's annoying that so many authors go ahead and just plain break them. Don't get me wrong--the author clearly has done a lot of research into the time period, and I believe it was also her educational specialty. But I find it tiresome that girls in historical novels keep getting put into breeches or constantly talk back at their superiors or go out and linger unattended on the streets. I know, I know, Mary is supposed to be a detective and whatnot, but girls of this time and in her position would never dream of behaving in this way. Showing courage and spirit and passion when extraordinary circumstances call for it is one thing, but to blithely move about everyday life as if expressing your wishes and opinions is commonplace is just plain wrong for this time period. If this is something an author wants to do, he/she is better off writing a steampunk novel or a story set in an alternate universe. I would argue that there must be a way for a gifted writer to make the book more true to the period of the time while keeping the spirit of adventure alive.
The writing itself is something that bothered me, too. The language of the time is fairly formal and specific, with a distinct wording and rhythm of its own. I just didn't feel convinced by the tone that was struck here, nor were the plotting or the mystery or the characters particularly unique. I happened to have the follow-up book from the library and I skimmed through that one as well to see if it was any more engaging, but for me, unfortunately, these books just don't work.
Oh! This is so cool.That was my reaction late last night when I finished this book and the feeling hasn't worn off. Ultraviolet is one of those sneakyOh! This is so cool.That was my reaction late last night when I finished this book and the feeling hasn't worn off. Ultraviolet is one of those sneaky books that makes you think you're reading one thing and then all the sudden, whoosh, you're off on a different adventure. I think many of us who spend a lot of time in the paranormal genre have come to expect a certain story structure from these types of books, but this one has no problem bending all the rules and leaping out to explore other dimensions. Be careful as reviews start to come in, however, because the less you know about this story, the more you'll enjoy it.
The book starts off with a bang: Alison has been institutionalized in a teen mental facility because she's confessed to killing Tori, a girl from school. The problem is, Ali watched her classmate disintegrate in front of her...and the body has disappeared. Since Ali's also seeing colors and tasting lies, she doesn't know whether she's really going crazy or not. She is isolated from her friends and family, she can't relate to the other kids in the facility, and she's being pressured by the police and her psychiatrist to give up information she knows will hurt her. The only one she can turn to is the handsome Dr. Faraday, who helps her understand her synesthesia, an unusual neurological condition in which she processes certain letters as colors, sees symbols where they don't exist, etc.
The author spends a lot of time carefully easing us into a familiarity with Alison's condition and making us feel for her situation, and for the longest time I wasn't even sure if she was ever going to make it out of the institution since her mother keeps finding excuses to not to see her. It took me a little while to adjust to her condition as well, but once I settled in I really enjoyed seeing the world through Ali's sensations, even though I wasn't sure where the story was going.
And then...just as you're getting comfortable, the author turns everything on its head. Shortly before it happened, I guessed what was going on--but the reveal is so simply and beautifully done that my little heart still fluttered. From that point on, the story kicks into high gear as Alison tries to solve the mystery of what happened to her classmate and to prove--and to believe--that she isn't insane at all.
There is a wondrous moment near the end that made me catch my breath that invokes the same sort of feelings I get from lying in a meadow under a giant nightscape of stars and sky--that awesome, bigger-than-life emotion of gazing up into a beauty and mystery that we will never fully understand. It's hard to go into detail here about what made this book so fantastic for me without spoiling it, but as I was reading this scene, I flashed back to the very best work of Madeleine L'Engle and Ray Bradbury. I've often wondered if those two masters of speculative fiction are as beloved by teens today as they were back in the day, because like Ultraviolet, their work trusted their readers enough to peel back their many layers slowly and patiently.
I'm not sure how this book will be viewed by modern mass audiences, but I do believe (and hope) that it's going to be critically very well received. It's intelligently written fiction with ideas that stimulate the imagination and move you with what's unspoken...as well as the infinite possibilities of a future yet to come.
I thoroughly enjoyed the beginning of this book, which is inspired by the true story of one of Canada's first female physicians. The descriptions of AI thoroughly enjoyed the beginning of this book, which is inspired by the true story of one of Canada's first female physicians. The descriptions of Agnes dissecting squirrels in a barn and such were pretty intriguing, especially if you're at all interested in biology or forensics. It was also interesting to read about the obstacles placed in the way of female education during the 19th century, even at well-respected universities, and I really liked much of the writing, which felt unexpectedly nuanced and contemplative in many places.
I squinted into the sunlight, blurring the governess's small, oval face against the backdrop of leaves until her grin, like that of Lewis Carroll's cat, was the only thing I could see.
About halfway through the novel, however, things began to lose a little bit of steam and the story no longer engaged me as much as it did earlier. It began to feel a little less intimate and involved, and more like a dry biography rather than a really good work of historical fiction. I was surprised by change, since until that point I was very much enjoying the story.
Still, for those who are interested in Canadian history, women's history, or medicine, this could prove to be a rewarding look at this period in history.
An advance copy was provided by the publisher for this review....more
Aerial dragon battles. A girl with a cool mystical powers. Cute boys on motorbikes. What more could you ask for in a fun and fluffy paranormal book?
FlAerial dragon battles. A girl with a cool mystical powers. Cute boys on motorbikes. What more could you ask for in a fun and fluffy paranormal book?
Flying Blind took me completely by surprise. The story follows Zoë Sorensson, the only female dragon shapeshifter in existence, who has important duties to assume when she comes to maturity. The problem is, her powers haven't bloomed properly and the few times they begin to appear--in the form of a mesmerizing flame in the pupils of her eyes and a single curved talon--she can't control them. As a result, she's shipped off to dragon "boot camp" where she's huddled with a group of dragon boys she's known all her life, including Nick, the attractive guy whom she may be destined to be with.
The dragon lore is exceptionally well thought-out, with specific behaviors and mythology. I enjoyed the vivid descriptions of the different dragons, from a green one with silver-tipped scales to a beautiful garnet and gold one to a regal pewter and purple one with silver accents. The dragon battles are also very easy to picture, with muscular physical tussling, claw-slashing, orange-flamed fire-breathing, and tail-whomping--and with none of the typical fast-healing, "easy fix" powers to lessen the stakes.
Zoë is a bright, funny heroine who narrates in a breezy tone that's immensely appealing. She's attempting to gain control of her body while trying to figure out why such a dark cloud seems to hang over her normally good-natured friends, and there's a lot that's thrown at her as she's coming into her role as a member of the Pyr. She makes a lot of mistakes, but she owns up to them and is never afraid to take action when it matters most. I like that every person in the huge cast of secondary characters has a distinct voice and identity, and that things don't always go the way that seasoned YA readers might expect with mysterious strangers or popular girls. The story is fairly complex for a short book, but it's very light-hearted in tone, which is a refreshing change from all those supernatural YA books that aren't well-thought out or that take themselves too seriously. One of the many humorous touches? Zoë, kickass girl dragon, is a vegetarian.
This book is apparently a spinoff of the author's adult PNR series, but it doesn't feel like something that's hastily cobbled together or that is at all lacking in explanation. The author does a terrific job of gradually revealing the rules and history of dragon behavior, as well as in giving enough time (but not too much time) to characters from the other series in a way that doesn't feel tiresome or forced. It's also great to see a book that shows teens with strong, loving relationships with the adults in their lives--but the crises are deftly handled and solved by the younger dragons themselves. I will say there's a lot of information to process, some of the "dark cloud" behaviors drag on for a little too long, and Zoë does occasionally get a little moony over her crush. But all the romance issues are resolved by the end of the book, and there is plenty of time spent on the family and friend relationships, mythology, plot, and personal development to balance the relationship stuff out.
I'd highly recommend Flying Blind to any fan of non-angsty paranormal/fantasy YA, especially to fans of series such as Hex Hall or The Darkest Powers. Zoë does a lot growing up in this zippy, action-packed story--and after having such a fun whirlwind of an adventure in her company, I can't to see where the next story takes her!
P.S. The cover and title are very misleading, in my opinion. I think a story that has such a humorous feel to it deserves a cover design that makes it stand out a little more from all the other typical paranormal YA books out there. I really can't picture Zoë with such a serious look on her face at all! Also, newsflash: gorgeous battling dragons are a huge selling point. At least for me, anyway....more