*** Read and reviewed on May 14th 2009, re-read on March 5th 2014 ***
This is so good ... and now I am waiting again!
The second part in the "Darkest Po...more*** Read and reviewed on May 14th 2009, re-read on March 5th 2014 ***
This is so good ... and now I am waiting again!
The second part in the "Darkest Powers Trilogy" is basically a road movie. A diverse bunch of naturally supernatural - and genetically altered - kids are running for their lives, because the adults whose guinea-pigs they are, decided to end the experiment and terminate the subjects.
The book starts in the middle of the attempted flight and ends with the - temporary - end of it. But, wow what a roller coaster! Although there is danger after danger, ghost after zombie after spell duel, the story remains believable and the characters real: Bickering, bratty witch Tori, puberty-hit werewolf Derek (with acne, anger-issues, wolfish stink, excruciatingly painful and puke-enhanced half-transformations), brave, unsure and compassionate necromancer Chloe and Simon, a diabetic womanizing sorcerer.
I especially like the non-perfectness of everybody. For example, although the kids decide to call a truce and stop bitching against each other, Tori fails to keep her tongue in check. Although Chloe starts to like Derek more and more for himself as the story progresses and to appreciate her ability to talk freely of her anxieties to him, she still notices his flaws in appearance and is flattered by beautiful Simon's attentive flirtation.
Kelley Armstrong really did a wonderful thing, when she decided to go for young adult fiction. I can't wait to read "The Reckoning" next year.(less)
*** Finished for the first time on August 2. 2009 *** Waaaagh, such a cliff-hanger ending ... and I will have to wait for the second volume at least u...more*** Finished for the first time on August 2. 2009 *** Waaaagh, such a cliff-hanger ending ... and I will have to wait for the second volume at least until May.
Kelley Armstrong's first attempt at the young adult genre worked just fine. It has wonderful, believable characters (who doesn't applaud Armstrong for creating someone like Derek in an era full of unblemished, irresistable heartthrob heroes?), supernatural elements and is thickly layered in thrills: Ghost-seeing Chloe Sanders lands in a closely monitored, posh boarding-school for mentally ill teenagers and is quickly diagnosed as being schizophrenic. When getting to know her fellow inmates and their unique problems better, she starts to doubt anybody attending Lyle House is really ill. Can it be coincidence that all six teenagers have supernatural tendencies or is somebody playing down things deliberately and using their otherness for his or her own mysterious means?
In contrast to funny and down to earth mediator Suze (Cabot), who I adore as well, this book's heroine really is living through hell. She believes herself sick, takes her medicine, is confined to a house with a sound alarm system and no one sincere enough to trust, does not know how to deal with ghosts repeating their death scenes over and over and is afraid her friends in school have noticed her freaking out and being shipped off to hospital.
Rumpelstiltskin and the Industrial Revolution End of the 18th century, somewhere. Seventeen-year-old, down-to-earth Charlotte Miller has taken over the...moreRumpelstiltskin and the Industrial Revolution End of the 18th century, somewhere. Seventeen-year-old, down-to-earth Charlotte Miller has taken over the family's wool mill Stirwaters after her father's death. She stubbornly refuses to believe in the stories circulating among the mill-hands and villagers about an ancient curse, which is supposed to be the cause for the string of misfortunes happening to the Millers and the mill - including the fact that none of the previous owner's sons managed to reach adulthood and that renovations of the mill building tend to undo themselves almost overnight. Eventually, facing pecuniar pressure - i.e due to Pinchfield, the new mass-producing cloth factory in the neighboring town, her father's debts being collected by the bank, mysteriously destroyed cloth stocks and broken mill equipment, Charlotte is forced to overturn her scorn for her employees' superstition. In order to save her beloved mill and the welfare of all her workers' families she strikes the first bargain with Jack Spinner, a strange fellow, who turns a room full of hay into gold thread and asks only for a cheap ring in return. When Charlotte repeatedly has to rely on Mr Spinner's services, the fate of the mill turning worse and worse, and gives birth to her first son, she decides, she has to break the mill's curse once and for all - or she will lose her child like all the Miller mothers before her.... My opinion: Mrs. Bunce weaves a true thriller. The pull the mill has on Charlotte is chilling as is the rich and pretentious uncle Wheeler who installs himself in Charlotte's household right after the father's death. The story is exasperatingly gloomy and keeps the reader out of breath. But what I like best about the book is that the fairytale I've known magically lost it's black-and-white taint: Rumpelstiltskin aka Jack Spinner is not depicted as entirely evil or mean without a reason. In the end you are able to understand his motives and even to feel compassion for him. Satisfactory, don't you think?(less)
*** Read for the first time from April 16th to 18th 2010, sped through it like a chimpanzee on Crack in 2014 ***
So much action, panic, character deve...more*** Read for the first time from April 16th to 18th 2010, sped through it like a chimpanzee on Crack in 2014 ***
So much action, panic, character development ... and perfect, sweet romance in one short final series installment! Anything short of inhaling it in big, big gulps isn't doable. Book, we'll definitely meet a third time.(less)
***Contains some spoilers from the first chapters*** Through all her childhood Haven Moore had flashbacks to earlier lives as different persons – that...more***Contains some spoilers from the first chapters*** Through all her childhood Haven Moore had flashbacks to earlier lives as different persons – that of Constance Whitman, a woman living and dying in the New York of the 1920s in particular. Her parents believed her, because a small child could not possibly have invented so many facts about buildings, circumstances and persons. After her father’s tragic death things started to look different, though: Haven’s mother sank into depression, to weak to care for what the religiously fanatic grandmother and her buddy, the minister Dr. Tidmore, did to her daughter. Until Haven, who generally is forbidden to read magazines or watch TV, sees 19-years-old superstar Ian Morrow on TV by chance and recognizes him to be Constance Whitman’s lover Ethan Evans, Dr. Tidmore - for years her only confidant and friend - “helped” her to keep her supposedly dangerous visions at bay using his "prayer therapy". Seeing Ian’s face convinces Haven that all her trance-like visions had been her past. She starts to avoid her sessions with Dr. Tidmore and spends more time with her new gay sidekick Beau Becker, who is – because of his sexual preferences – the other openly declared freak in the little bible-belt town called Slope City. Haven’s grandmother is furious about Haven's change of mind and denounces her granddaughter to be possessed by the devil. The minister, the congregation, the whole town and the pupils at school gladly hop onto that band-wagon after Haven has another vision, which has to look like an epileptic seizure to an outsider, right in front of her locker. Although Haven is the mobbed one (a collage on her locker pronounces her to be the devil’s associate), the principal asks her not to attend his school anymore. Before her grandmother, who has already canceled her fashion college enrollment, can stuff her into a closed facility, Haven takes all the money she and Beau had earned by sewing the town’s festive clothing and flees to New York, where she hopes to find Ian and where she wants to get answers from the Ouboro Society for the Reincarnated. On the way to her hotel Haven is chased by mysterious gray men (reminded me of Momo).
At this point the main plot of the story starts: Haven trying to decide if she should trust Ian – who is a true jerk, acts mightily mysterious and maybe even killed Constance in the 20s – or not, Haven trying to decide whether she should reveal herself to be Constance Whitman to the Ouboro Society – which has its set of shady and two-headed characters as well – or not, Haven trying to unravel the mystery of Constance Whitman’s death and whether there was any involvement of a femme fatale called Rebecca – or not, Haven asking Beau forever for his opinion, being naive and stupid, immature and undecided nevertheless, Haven being supposedly in love with Ian, but at the same time despising, hating and mistrusting him quite a lot and Haven meeting the devil in person, who – believe it or not – lives in Brooklyn, proudly collects newspaper clippings, that state his major (Hiroshima) and minor (adultery) deeds, and can be blackmailed by dangling a confession recorded on an MP3-player in front of his face.
Opposed to some other reviewers I thought the thriller part of The Eternal Ones” was quite thrilling and not too slow. Sadly a lot of the suspense I felt was caused by Haven’s naivité. I constantly sat on my hands being afraid of what stupid decisions Haven would make next. Apart from the suspense the only positive element I can point out is gay best friend Beau Becker. Although drenched in clichés he was alive, sweet and fun. What did not work at all for me was the romance subplot: It fell completely flat on his and her side: Ian is an uncaring jerk in my opinion. He can buy or build as much houses for Haven as he wants, if he does not mind her feelings. All my margin notes about Ian say things like “Somebody truly in love does not pressure the one he loves like this. Even if he wants to protect her he does not have to lie so shamelessly and cold-heartedly to her.” Haven is having the hots for Ian, although she believes him capable of murder and feels compelled to spy on him all the time. All other persons were either completely good or completely evil/weak (most of them the latter). It was frustrating to see how very passive Haven’s mother was – even when her daughter was made responsible for torching the house down or got thrown out of school. The grandmother and the minister – who I tagged as a pedophile in the beginning – were unbelievably evil. Apropos evil: I’ve never been to the Bible Belt. But I simply refuse to believe that the behavior of the inhabitants of Slope City is anywhere near probable. To throw someone out of school, who shows signs of epilepsy or another illness, that includes fits and faintings, instead of punishing those, who did all the mobbing, to point with a finger at someone in the congregation and declare her to be possessed, contemporary High School students, who talk about demonic possession without being afraid to be ridiculed forever by their classmates, a minister who has that much power over a whole town – including the authorities. No way. But the crème de la crème has been that pathetic Brooklyn Devil. He sounds like he had been invented by Terry Pratchett, but he wasn’t meant to be funny, I am sure. The Eternal Ones is getting no recommendation, not from me.(less)
3,5 stars. I was pretty glued to the pages and I dreamt / thought about the story a lot. I liked it - especially the characters - better than Maze Run...more3,5 stars. I was pretty glued to the pages and I dreamt / thought about the story a lot. I liked it - especially the characters - better than Maze Runner, for instance. I will read the next installments, if I can swap them, but I do not need to read them so bad that I would actually buy them.(less)
Since I loved the Darkest Powers trilogy so very much, the realization that was already bored and did not enjoy myself particularly hit me rather unex...moreSince I loved the Darkest Powers trilogy so very much, the realization that was already bored and did not enjoy myself particularly hit me rather unexpectedly when I started flipping forward around page 190. Certainly my heavy cold with a nasty headache included in the package has to carry part of my inability to focus on the supposedly unnerving small-town-story, but I really do not care enough about the characters' fate to prove this theory under stabilized conditions later. So. After 194 pages I leave Salmon Creek behind without a trace of regret. Good bye, Cougar Girl. (less)
4.5 stars. The spaceship Goodspeed is on its 300 years long journey to an inhabitable planet, Centauri-Earth. On board are about hundred specialists a...more4.5 stars. The spaceship Goodspeed is on its 300 years long journey to an inhabitable planet, Centauri-Earth. On board are about hundred specialists and their families (bio-engineers, tacticians, sociologists) stored as frozen human cargo in the deep and forgotten bowels of the huge vessel as well as two and a half thousand common inhabitants, who either research plants, weather and livestock for the future socialization or farm and produce goods for the small community. Since an obscure past event referred to as "The Plague" severed all connections to Sol-Earth and decimated the breathing population, the on-board democracy has been replaced by a the firm rule of a string of single and almighty rulers, who control access to the Earth's (tampered with) and the ship's (partly hazy) history, the use of cameras, the knowledge about what sleeps in the storage chambers, and who exchanged random reproduction for a system of one mating season per generation. The present ruler, Eldest, appears to be reluctant to share his vast knowledge with his still teen-aged successor, Elder, but emphasizes that the greatest dangers to a surviving society are differences between the members and lack of leadership. Slighted and unsatisfied Elder snoops around and discovers the already melting Amy, who is not only non-essential to the ship's mission (aka disposable if in the way), but also red-headed, pale and a powerful threat to Eldest's omnipotence. Elder's world view is shaken up: What else has been hidden from him and who is attempting to murder those who represent the pathway to a successful settlement?
When I compare "Across the Universe" to Inside Out by Maria V. Snyder, which also takes place in a small, confined and heavily controlled world/eco-system, I have to say I prefer "Inside Out". But, nonetheless, I loved "Across the Universe", too, and look forward to reading the sequel next year, because ...
- It kept me glued to the pages to that extent that I was ripping my eyes open again and again last night while my husband already snored through his third dream or so - I am a sucker for multi-point-of-view-stories, especially those switching between a boy and a girl - I really love on-board-of-spaceship-novels that do not primarily deal with war (I also recommend Startide Rising and I greedily wait for Molly Fyde and the Parsona Rescue to be delivered to my postbox) - I enjoyed that Beth Revis did not deliver a soppy romance in a thin and superficial space-travel wrapping, but a thrilling space mystery with fantastic world building and a pleasant sprinkling of boy-girl-attraction. - The characters - even the side-crew - were well-defined, hard-angled and interesting - Think-worthy questions about leadership, free will and the perfect socialization are touched on the way without offering simple answers.
I recommend this piece of dystopian young adult fiction and say "Beth, bring on the sequel! You've earned all that praise." (less)
Mermaids are my favorite creatures – always have been. Consequently I notice with glee all those merfolk novels that lately have started popping up le...moreMermaids are my favorite creatures – always have been. Consequently I notice with glee all those merfolk novels that lately have started popping up left and right. And I am very, very grateful to Hartcourt and to Netagalley for accepting my request for a review copy.
Mermaids and other humanoid water-breathers can be tackled from completely opposite angles, because there is always a mystery around them: the "We-above-the-waterline-cannot-know-for-sure-factor". Thus opposed to vampires (getting sucked dry can only end badly) and other monsters they can be pictured as cutish and harmless glitter-girls living in pink mother-of-pearl cities, but there are also selkies, who are not to lose their seal skins, and legions of inhumanly beautiful and alluring, but cruel, calculating, heartless and cold-blooded hunters - out to mesmerize the male two-legger. Face it, the majority of the European legends and fairytales does not present us with with wavy redheads singing happily along with the starfish chorus, but with death-bringing voices luring Orpheus into dangerous waters (Homer), hairy Lorelai distracting seafarers by shaking her booty on her wood-splitting rock (Brentano and others), clever waternixies persuading millers' sons to accompany them underwater and sending them back completely spaced out and clueless three generations later (Grimm’s), fairy-like undines tricking men into getting them pregnant and thus gaining a soul (de la Motte) and – certainly – unhappy fishgirls who give their voices and their lives for a futile shot at gaining the heart of a rich jerk (Andersen).
Sarah Porter grabbed the siren-theme from the Odyssey, recreated the unforgiving and bleak atmosphere of the European seas by moving the setting to even colder Alaska, cooked up a plausible reason for women to use their enchanted voices deathbringingly and wove a modern retelling for a young adult audience from the strings:
Girls of all ages who die from being abused or reach the point when stomaching more abuse and violence simply isn't possible anymore, turn into magical creatures with superhuman strength, sea-serpent-like glittery tails, angelic, persuasive voices and perfect faces (picture Luce as Alice Cullen with a tail) – if they are coincidentally in the vincinity of any source of water. Being disappointed from mankind and enraged for having been mistreated during their childhoods allows their bloodthirsty enchanted voices, who have a mind of their own, a good leverage. The girls find a home within one of the matriarchic mermaid communities, but spend their days dreaming of wrecking the next ship, of enthralling helpless sailors and tourists until they kill themselves joyfully.
Luce (Lucette) is different. It becomes clear quickly, that her voice is unusually powerful, but more important is Luce's attitude toward her "killer voice". Luce's experience with abusive adults didn't last as long as that of many of her tribemates. After her father’s death – at sea - she had only spent about a year with her alcoholic uncle - who had beaten her often, but had tried to rape her just that one time when she decided to jump. Even the lack of friends didn't matter so much to her during her nomadic life with her thieving father, since she had always felt loved and treasured by him. In contrast to the other mermaids Luce does not condemn humanity as a whole. She still can distinguish between good humans, bad humans and indifferent ones. And – at the latest when manipulating newcomer Anais arrives, who did not really have a reason to become a mermaid and sets a wave of envy and back-stabbing into motion - she comes to the conclusion that her fellow mermaids' souls do not really differ from the humans’ they all hate with abandon and that without their orally transmitted code of behavior everybody would be at each others throats.
In the beginning Luce starts to "tame" her enraged, beautiful voice, gradually steering it to alternative uses, because she wants to shed her crave to kill with it. Later she notices that working with her voice also hones her singing skills as such. Her bottomless admiration for Russian Catarina, the tribe's ruling queen, secret code breaker and star singer, whose friendship she desperately seeks to win, hinders her from being open about her vocal experiments – until it is to late and the bullies' trap is asbout to snap.
Luce is – like Catarina and the orphaned sisters Violet and Dana, too – a strange and unfathomable character. Sometimes she is samarithian on the border to Sainthood, sometimes unreasonable fangirlish or naive, seeking approval and praise at all costs. When she has a real chance at acquiring a friend in depressive Miriam, she blows it without giving the possibility a thought. What puzzled me immensely was her quick acceptance of the so-called Larvaes’ fate: Larvae are abused infants who turned mermaids – and certainly do not age. If not for the code the older mermaids would ruthlessly kill the helpless, clingy babies, who end up in the orcas' jaws most of the time. Luce undertakes only one feelble attempt at saving a Larvae, before she capitulates. They could have easily fenced them in I thought angrily.
Sarah Porter's writing is beautiful, the setting well defined and easy to visualize, the story a little springy and frayed with a little too much stress on bullying and mean girl stereotypes. It also does not please me that the end was a complete hanger that even lacked a proper cliff.
Personally I like stories that do not avoid problems, but play a hopeful tune and end on a promising if not cheerful note. If you are into dark and evil modern fairytale retellings, which do not magic away the gritty and dirty parts like, for example, Sisters Red (Little Red Riding Hood) by Jackson Pearce or A Curse Dark as Gold (Rumpelstiltskin) by Elizabeth Bunce and you do not mind the complete absence of romance, "Lost Voices" might be just the thing for you. It is definitely an interesting addition the available selection of mermaid fiction.
A note to the cover designer: The cover is outstanding, but the tail is supposed to be much longer! (less)
Flashy-eyed women in Winter Harbor, grinning male corpses washed onto the beach, a dead girl whispering things into her sister's ear ... a stunning se...moreFlashy-eyed women in Winter Harbor, grinning male corpses washed onto the beach, a dead girl whispering things into her sister's ear ... a stunning secret to be revealed. Wow.
Let's get this out of the way quick and dirty (after having endured 154 pages): I do not recommend this book, not even to mermaid-lovers, because ...
- The plot is so very disconnected. Things happen without the reader being "informed". For instance you switch from the scene in which Justine storms out of the beach house to the scene after her funeral and you ask "What? Somebody has died? Who, when?" After some frantic flapping of the recently read pages you calm down, because you haven't missed a word. You just have to fill in the essentials. Welcome to the world of Young Adult Sudoku. On the other hand you know looong before Nessa what those women around her are (the title, the evilness oozing out of their pores, their attractiveness to men, the bodies washed on shore, the flashy, silvery mirror eyes ... *yaaawwwwn*. Apart from the hair color, though, at least the cover fits, and I love it.)
- The characters are too uninteresting, too mean to be believable or too dumb to be comfortable to be around. (How can you not notice that your nymphomanic mom is hitting on your boyfriend, when she is practically crawling over his skin with her tongue?)
- There are sirens or - to be exact - decendants of evil man-eating/man-murdering sirens, no question. But: no underwater plot, no fins, at least I didn't spot them when I was flipping through the rest of the book. I understand that there is the necessity of saltwater getting mixed into your blood if you want to be a proper siren. That's it.
- The romance isn't even partially believable to me (I am glad that fellow mermaid-group-member Alyssa thought differently, although we seem to be on the same page as the rest of the plot is concerned): Nessa's sister dies. Timid Nessa, who was always completely dependent on that sister, mourns her for a bit and feels she has to bring light into the sudden death (the reader says "Yes, please. We don't even know the basics.") and - plong - she feels attracted to childhood buddy and neighbor Simon, brother of Justine's on and off boyfriend Caleb and - above all - a completely boring and geeky meteorology student, who says so often "Three minutes, please, I have to take a few measurements." (= water levels and such in the midst of a thunder storm or an investigation) during the first 150 pages that I wanted to stuff his equippment up his ... nose. But Nessa always patiently answers something in the vein of "Sure, want me to help? Global warming beats my sister's death and your brother's strange disappearance every day. Awful weather, isn't it?". And then she lusts a tiny bit after that future world changer.)
- Luckily my own life-story doesn't involve mourning a tragically departed family member, but I thought that Nessa and her parents were acting and reacting pretty strangely after losing of Justine. We are told that Nessa has problems falling asleep and she wants to find out more. But that's all. I compared Nessa to Kate Mercier, who loses her parents in Die for Me and I have to say Kate's numbness and hurt feel real, whereas Nessa feels "huh"?
A lot of creepy suspense, an interesting heroine - who I in spite of the first-person-narration never really got to know - and a certain Veronica-Mars...moreA lot of creepy suspense, an interesting heroine - who I in spite of the first-person-narration never really got to know - and a certain Veronica-Mars-in-Private-School feel, but a not so very unexpected mystery, a lot of repetitive scenes, a half-hearted boy-girl friendship, a half-hearted romance and a half-hearted, truly deflatingly unsatisfactory ending, which I really didn't like. (less)