(Disclaimer: I'm friendly with this author online, but that doesn't mean I always love his books. Reviewed from e-arc provided by NetGalley.)
Halfway t(Disclaimer: I'm friendly with this author online, but that doesn't mean I always love his books. Reviewed from e-arc provided by NetGalley.)
Halfway through this short story, I switched from Kindle to Nook and was shocked to discover how short it really is. (36 pages, of which 13 are other material.) There's so much richness to it that its limited focus --with little in the way of exposition or characterization or any of the things we normally look for -- just seems like an intense laser beam spotlighting a poignant moment. Hall could have written an entire series about this barely sketched world; instead he wrote just enough.
From the beginning, the story is infused with sadness and regret. Our unnamed narrator was created to be flawless, meant for privilege; instead he fell in love with performing mermaids and ran away to join the circus.
She was sun and sky and flame that day. And I thought I had never seen anything so beautiful, or so free. I was young. I didn't know any better.
Our narrator is carefully trained to see the Mer as wild animals -- "behavior shaping, stimulus discrimination, auditory queuing and lexigram reinforcement" are their tools. Any kind of anthropomorphism is discouraged.
All day and all night, Naera crouched in a corner of the tank and screamed. Vocalised. We were meant to say she vocalised.
When a merman called Nerites arrives at Cirque de la Mer, a Mer who seems to be seeking some kind of connection, cognitive dissonance really begins to set in.
I don't want to say more... in fact, I may have already said too much. Without being particularly surprising in any way, this story is a voyage of discovery. ...more
(This is an edited review, because my original arc of the book had a major error. Reviewed from an e-arc provided by NetGalley)
3 1/2 stars. At 16, Nia(This is an edited review, because my original arc of the book had a major error. Reviewed from an e-arc provided by NetGalley)
3 1/2 stars. At 16, Niall helped his lover Jacky raise a demon, hoping to save him from his abusive father. Instead, both boys wound up endowed with frightening power, with their relationship permanently disrupted and a government agency called The Guild after them. Niall is hiding out in Ireland when he meets Cohen, a young trans man who's beginning to physically transition and needs time away from his family. It could not be a worse time to find a new love, because Jacky is out for revenge against the Guild, and he has no scruples whatsoever about achieving his goal.
I haven't read many books with trans* characters and I appreciated finding one which isn't about the character's gender identity, although of course it's a very important aspect of his life. I don't know enough to say whether the portrayal of Cohen is accurate, but it felt very real and created a lot of empathy in me for him. I would have liked to see the rest of the story fleshed out more -- it's a little short and thin for the complex issues it raises, and the ending is quite abrupt. ...more
I really enjoyed The Undoing of Daisy Edwards (my review at Dear Author: http://dearauthor.com/book-reviews/re...) but worried this companion story might feel like a retread. The alternating first-person narrative style is similar to the first book, but not in a bad way. Its main flaw is that it's too short for the story it tells.
Producer Lewis and movie-star Poppy both try very hard to convince themselves that they're happy. After all, Lewis survived the first world war intact, as an ambulance driver, and Poppy didn't lose a husband like her sister did... they should have nothing to complain about. They push away their memories by focusing on their ambitions; as Lewis says, "I know I'm one of the lucky ones. I owe it to the rest to make the most of my luck, and that's what I'm doing. If I'm not happy, then I ought to be." Falling in love is definitely not in the plans for either of them... it's too scary.
I didn't feel the zeitgeist quite as much in this book as in the first, although the Hollywood setting is interesting. The aftermath of the war isn't as strongly felt in Hollywood as it was in Poppy's native England, and she feels somewhat alone in her post-war depression, until she discovers that Lewis was also affected by it. This, added to their powerful attraction, should make for a good relationship, but I just didn't see enough of it. I was quite surprised to discover that this is actually a few pages longer than the first book, because it seemed less substantial.
I do really like the conversational style of the narration, and the different setting, so I'll give it 3 1/2 stars. ...more