A bit uneven. Janzen does best when she's funny, and Travis and Red Dog are not funny. Their relationship is perhaps a bit dysfunctional, which couldA bit uneven. Janzen does best when she's funny, and Travis and Red Dog are not funny. Their relationship is perhaps a bit dysfunctional, which could have made for a great story, but there were too many pages dedicated to the secondary romance for that to happen. I wanted to see Red Dog change more. I like how much Travis has developed over the course of the series, but Red Dog was definitely shortchanged.
On the other hand, the Smith/Honey storyline was sharp and funny, more what I'm used to from Janzen. I think if she had stuck with the tone of the main story, it would have been a more solid book. ...more
Skeeter and Dylan have great chemistry and hilarious dialogue. Janzen has been nurturing this May-October romance along for five books now, and the buSkeeter and Dylan have great chemistry and hilarious dialogue. Janzen has been nurturing this May-October romance along for five books now, and the buildup was worth it. Skeeter is absolutely believable as a badass operative. In fact, I find her more well-rounded than Dylan, who I didn't even know was a master thief until this book. I hope Skeeter doesn't go the way of other Steele Street heroines - that is, relegated to summaries made about scenes that happen off the page. This book also has a great setup for the next installment.
Two things, though:
1. What's with "Geezus"? I assume this is an editorial decision made to prevent offending readers, but in books that are about torture, murder, and terrorism, I think that bird's already flown.
2. Who designed these covers? And how do they manage to draw the lumpiest man-silhouettes I've ever seen?...more
The Scar's heroine, Bellis Coldwine, is a translator on the merchant vessel Terpsichoria. When the ship is overtaken by pirates, Bellis is brought toThe Scar's heroine, Bellis Coldwine, is a translator on the merchant vessel Terpsichoria. When the ship is overtaken by pirates, Bellis is brought to Armada, a floating city made up of stolen ships. The pirates of Armada capture new ships to grow the city, introduce new laborers to its workforce, and free the slaves being transported to far-off colonies. In her new life, Bellis is expected to become an Armadan citizen, to do the everyday things every city-dweller does: walk to work, buy lunch at a restaurant, meet friends and lovers. However, Bellis is desperate to return to New Crobuzon, her home city, and vows never to conform to the floating city's way of life.
That itself is enough plot to fill a normal novel, but Mieville isn't halfway done setting the stage. Human beings Remade into monsters through a combination of surgery and magic? Check. Submarines, blimps, steam engines? Check. A race of mosquito-people trapped on an island to prevent them from sucking the world dry (again)? Check. Vampires? Check. Chthulu-like creatures torn through the fabric of the universe and used for humanity's nefarious purposes? Check. Making all of this yet more terrifying through, of all things, math? Um, check.
Mieville's imagination is nothing short of humbling, and his skill in prosody is more than enough to match it. The plot points above could easily become silly caricatures of horror fantasy (or horror scifi), but Mieville keeps it reined in. His universe is carefully crafted and utterly real. His characters range from cactus-people made of vegetable fibers to fish/men/eel things, but they are grounded in the all-too-familiar human tendency to act in their own self-interest at all times.
I don't know how I've gone this long without even hearing of this dude, but I'm going to go out and read his entire backlist now. Well, maybe after a palate-cleanser, something that won't give me nightmares....more
Part of my revisiting project, in which I re-read favorite books from my childhood and teen years. JotW is more bare-bones than I remember, but therePart of my revisiting project, in which I re-read favorite books from my childhood and teen years. JotW is more bare-bones than I remember, but there is still much to love in it. The spare prose and illustrations perfectly complement the bleak, flat landscape Julie finds herself in.
As a children's book, it is full of win in the show-don't-tell department. Environmentalism, multiculturalism, the rights of children, sexual assault; all of these Big Important Lessons are covered, but none of them feel like an after school special. What a great book, and I totally forgot there were sequels!...more
This is one of the few books I kept from graduate school, and I'm glad I did. Just as poetic, powerful, and unassuming as I remember. Part one sets upThis is one of the few books I kept from graduate school, and I'm glad I did. Just as poetic, powerful, and unassuming as I remember. Part one sets up Barthes' theory of photography and can be dense if you haven't been reading theory lately. However, the hard work pays off in part two, when he applies his conclusions to a particular photograph of his recently deceased mother. All of the work of part one becomes a way for him to process his grief over her loss, and ultimately to come to terms with his own mortality....more