***4.5 stars, because of that Curran thing. I have been as well entertained as I expected spending time with Kate Daniels, but his behavior annoyed me...more***4.5 stars, because of that Curran thing. I have been as well entertained as I expected spending time with Kate Daniels, but his behavior annoyed me to bits. ***(less)
[...] 'it's the truth.' I glared at him. 'You wanted to kiss me just as much as I wanted to kiss you.' His eyes dropped back to my mouth and I felt th...more[...] 'it's the truth.' I glared at him. 'You wanted to kiss me just as much as I wanted to kiss you.' His eyes dropped back to my mouth and I felt the fire in my stomach rekindle. 'That's not the point.' My words were breathless and I frowned, realizing that I had agreed to what he said. Half a conversation later he hopped onto the bottom rung of the ladder so he was pressed against my back. [...] His long, hard body pressed against mine was giving me ideas I didn't need.
**** If you read this review, you will encounter spoilers ****
Apart from a few things that could have been improved by thorough proof-reading or an impartial editor (view spoiler)[- see, for example the repetition in the quote at the beginning (hide spoiler)] - the two stars above mainly reflect a picture-book case of It isn't the book. It's me. I say this with conviction because I can actually think of a proper handful of friends I would recommend the self-published new adult (view spoiler)[ - I would rather say young adult, but it will be discussed later on - (hide spoiler)] mermaid romance to without hesitation. (Tina, Jess, Jessica, Crystal, Alexa, Arlene, Amber and Nic: I am looking at you.)
'Flukes' is a modern teenage mermaid fairytale that is mainly focused on sexual encounters. After outlining shortly what I did like about it, I will try to elaborate on the things that unfortunately clashed with my peculiar expectations of a paranormal romance, a new adult/young adult love story or a story which is worth to spend time reading in general. Hopefully you can decide afterwards if your taste leans towards being hard to please by the current outcrop of easy-to-consume-romantic-fiction in the same degree as mine or if you should reconsider your probably earlier idea to give 'Flukes' a miss.
Although 'Flukes' takes place at an aqua zoo in the Caribbean with a private beach attached to it, the beginning had a strongly fairytale-like flavor, which appealed to me: Ben and Marion, who run an aquatic refuge center, which is later to become 'Flukes', sort through the debris flung about by a huge coastal storm and discover a mermaid baby protected by a couple of hurt dolphins. Because they had - like the king and queen of ancient myths - tragically not given birth to a child of their own, they fall in love with the helpless creature and keep her. Marion and Ben are nice parents, which is pretty unusual in YA (view spoiler)[ - probably to balance this out the hero has an extra-cold piece of shit as a dad (hide spoiler)] and quite refreshing. Apart from the strange trust they have in Blake, one of the boys who are convicted to do community-service hours at their facility (view spoiler)[There was something honorable about Blake, even if he was a bad boy. [...] 'Why did you beat up that guy?' 'You don't need to know.' His eyes grew hard the way the last time I asked.(hide spoiler)], they are a pretty normal set indeed.
In contrast to all those YA mermaid novels in which the teenaged heroine, who has been forcefully kept ignorant / out of the water / away from the ocean all her life, is suddenly surprised by her own behavior or her scaly lower body, Meena knows what she is and is more or less comfortable with her tail. Certainly there is the fear to be caught as well as a general unease, because no other species members are around to talk her through the specifics of mermaid biology and culture. She has been raised like a human, but she thinks she cannot leave her home or indulge in a normal relationship, because she gets physically ill, if she doesn't immerse herself in oceanic water about once a day. (view spoiler)[The solution is so ridiculously easy, though, that one cannot fail to wonder why Meena and her parents did not at least consider trying it out before two mermaids passing the town during their traditional 'swim-about' (Established to facilitate finding the mate for life a mermaid is meant to bond to - should you wonder) suggest it. (hide spoiler)]
All in all I liked Meena, who is able to telepathically converse with sea mammals. She has strange taste in men, obviously, but she is not completely speechless or demure and she manages to have the upper hand now and then. Her being different as an excuse for her chaste youth sounded pretty set up to me, though. Her relationship to her best friend Violet- who is about to depart to the college she wants to attend on Hawaii - was rather sweet. The scenes involving the dolphins Mitch and Jallia held a certain cuteness, too.
Well, these were all the aspects responsible for the additional star in my enjoyment-based rating. Let us by and by focus on what the book had to offer on top of that but what I failed to appreciate in a proper way:
It is not the book's fault that I do not like reformed bad boys and slimy jerks who taunt inexperienced, shy girls and cross lines in the holy name of sexiness. Boys who won't take a No for a No, because they 'read' the female body language, which infallibly broadcasts to them that she secretly wants the advances / the fumbling / the excitement / the unknown in spite of her feeble or furious protests. Other readers love them.
It's not the book's fault that a minor who reached his praised state of sexual finesse and cocky self-confidence by being literally whored out by his financially successful dad to his clients' daughters or female associates creeps me rather out instead of turning me on. Other readers feel the hotness.
It's not the book's fault that a french mother and some randomly whispered sweet nothings about dreams and lips and beauty in French (view spoiler)[What is the reason for speaking in a foreign language to someone who does not understand it, huh?! (hide spoiler)] do not activate my wobbly-knees-mode as required. Other readers melt.
It's not the book's fault that I just cannot take another young hero who accidentally swims in his own money, can promise his present arm candy to show her the world and more, shove diamonds on her fingers and buy for her crumbling family business a better corporate design / building / website without noticing the dent in his purse and is able to interrupt his plans for his education in order to accommodate his newly found bliss with his geographically-challenged love. Other readers know 'Solvent is sexy'.
It's not the book's fault that I abhor books that include magically evoked shackles that lead to eternal 'love' a.k.a. the need to stay next to each other forever, unbreakable co-dependence and an excuse for teenage couples to play house, talk of marriage and kids. I criticized a comparable concept in the also self-published mermaid novel 'Everblue' and I felt sick seeing it used in 'Flukes' - although I should mention that the heroine does fret and apologize for unknowingly having reduced the hero to permanently craving her and her only. Other readers wish those tattoos swirled around their own wrists.
It's not the book's fault that I still expect the heroines and heroes of a New Adult Romance to have started a phase that is different from their former lives at their parents' houses. That I want them to be at least at college - preferably not just entering it - or even better trying to survive their first real job, their first real flatmate or their first real attempt at shacking in with a boyfriend. Meena has just finished High School and plans to stay at home to work at her parents' zoo. Her experience and her frame of mind could also be those of a cute and naive freshman. I do not understand why 'Flukes' is not being marketed as what is is: A paranormal YA romance 'enhanced' with cotton-candy-flavored sex (view spoiler)[that has the heroine reaching her 'finish-line' right along her lover's during her very first time and that requires a condom only before the couple knows that they are mated for life (hide spoiler)]. If the cover had said 'Proud to Present Teenagers as Sexual Beings" I would have applauded and ordered a bumper sticker, honestly. Other readers want their Young Adult literature 'clean'.
It is not the book's fault that the piece of evil evil that eventually befalls the heroine in and out of the water did not convince me as fitting the storyline smoothly. Picky me just cannot accept a fine chunk of dangerous action as it it, but has to poke and prod and complain and roll her eyes before nibbling at the crust. Other readers need to see there are bad boys and really, really bad boys in this world.
I close this perusal with a quote that made me gag but others swoon: And that kiss ... it had made me think about skipping the beach and taking her straight back to my bed. But she wasn't the kind of girl you screw real quick. Meena was meant to be savored [...] Have you decided on which side of the fence you sit? Gag or swoon? Everything is possible. Take your time and consider. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
"Don't you see? Those monsters you've been so worried about. Not aliens. People. The monsters have always been people."
What a thrilling ride to Centau...more"Don't you see? Those monsters you've been so worried about. Not aliens. People. The monsters have always been people."
What a thrilling ride to Centauri-Earth and back! Not counting the hours I slept and I had breakfast I read the final volume of Beth Revis' Goodspeed trilogy in one go. I enjoyed it a lot more than the second volume - of which I don't remember much apart from that the heroine had been running against time through the spaceship like a Wonderland rabbit on Speed with literary classics in her hand, because she had to solve riddle after riddle but no chance to think about them. It seems to me that the haste and the suspense did not allow for much else besides.
'Shades of Earth' on the other hand would work brilliantly as a movie because of its richness. I imagine it as a cross between 'Avatar', 'Jurrassic Park', 'Alien', 'Moon' and 'The City of Ember'. There is a just-in-time-crash-avoiding landing of the space shuttle, there are prehistorical seeming flesh-eating monsters, deathly flowers, a fighteningly high body-count Beth, I kind of got angry at you when Kit got murdered while I desperately hoped for that racist pig of a father to bite the dust in a painful way , hints at alien, but humanoid habitation, there are unbalanced fights for leadership, there is a deliberate use of known and unknown weapons, there is a food shortage and an engine fail on the Goodspeed, there is even a rather well-done love-triangle I admit its introduction made sense: Amy always wondered if she would have fallen for a different boy if there had been sane alternatives to Elder on the Goodspeed to choose from, there is romance, there is sex, there are several people that can or cannot be trusted, there is greedy corporate behavior, a severe daughter-father and a less severe daughter-mother conflict and a too large bunch of unfrozen specialists, who do not listen to or show the faintest interest in the crew that expertly kept them alive for centuries, but treat the "shipborn" (always spelled with a minuscle s in contrast to the "Earthborn" written with a capital E) as if they were impersonating Christopher Columbus' reincarnations with a master's degree in Degrading Supposedly Imbecile Primitives who are facing their first opponents.
If your initial Across the Universe-caused enthusiasm had - like mine - been waning a little bit while reading A Million Suns, I suggest to ignore that slight sense of deflation and to read Shades of Earth anyway. You will be rewarded with an awesomely entertaining end of a teenage space saga.
P.S.: Beth, what are you writing next? I am up to another adrenalin overdose.(less)
4.5 stars. Maybe I'll lower my rating later. At the moment I rather feel emotional. I simply dig that mother-daughter-stuff.
By the way: I'd like to kn...more4.5 stars. Maybe I'll lower my rating later. At the moment I rather feel emotional. I simply dig that mother-daughter-stuff.
By the way: I'd like to know: What's up with Americans (in fiction?) and their love for musical theatre? I think I only know "Cats", "Les Miserables" and "Phantom of the Opera" (or are these from London?), but I can only recognize melodies from the meow-one. And if our schools have a choir at all, it's a noteworthy thing. But four choirs or more? Unreal.(less)
In all likelihood this 'review' of mine will not turn out to be a helpful contribution for those who are still on the fence concerning their own possi...moreIn all likelihood this 'review' of mine will not turn out to be a helpful contribution for those who are still on the fence concerning their own possible future enjoyment of A Corner of White. I assume it will rather represent a futile attempt at explaining my wholly unexpected decision to let go of the story after only 145 pages without having unearthed particularly annoying or offending or even mediocre aspects that would lend a sufficient foundation to my reluctance to pick up the beautifully covered hardback after putting it down at lunchtime.
See, although Moriarty's Ashbury books scored only four-star-ratings from me, they all contain a smaller or larger amount of some secret, magic ingredient which I crave and adore in fiction. I seldom shed tears when I am in the company of books, yet I bawled my eyes out when I was reading The Murder Of Bindy Mackenzie. I simply loved that crazy mix of e-mails, court room materials, letters, diary entries, history book excerpts and refrigerator notes in the other volumes - especially because of the distinct voices, the occasional hilariousness, the dashes of mystery and the wonderfully normal characters.
I had already mistakingly expected another fully satisfactory, almost perfect book, when I bought a brand-new copy of The Spell Book of Listen Taylor, which also disappointed me in a major way. But in hindsight I explained my lack of enjoyment with the fact that that book had been written and published for an adult audience as I Have a Bed Made of Buttermilk Pancakes before it was dusted off and forcibly reshaped into something the Ashbury-reading crowd might spend money on - girly covers included. Moriarty's 'real' young-adult-centered output would continue to be on the brink of flawlessness, I assured myself.
And thus I put A Corner of White on my wish list at a time when the available information did not amount to much beside the 'Kingdom of Cello' as the location, and when the probability of the book being eventually born sounded as unreliable as Stephenie Meyer's long forgotten statement about the cannibalistic mermaid saga she planned to write as soon as her creative well restarted to sprout sellable sentences. I managed to make myself wait for the international edition instead of spending a fortune at the Fishpond and I never resorted to epilepsy-inducing .gifs or the internet equivalent of ecstatic shouting, but believe me, I wanted to read Madeleine's parallel world experience pretty badly.
Today I finally curled up with that coveted 500g of printed paper and started to read - confident of the extraordinary superb time lying in wait for me. Friends of mine had used promising words like weird and whimsical in their reviews, expressions that happily rolled around in my mind like dogs in a puddle.
Unsurprisingly I did like Madeleine, I rediscovered a flavor of Moriarty's signature wacky mothers in Holly and I took pleasure in finding out the parallels and the differences between ""The World"" (ours) and ""The Kingdom of Cello"" (a place equipped with electricity and other recognizable means of civilization, but also prone to partly dangerous 'Color attacks') , which severed all passable portals or cracks between them and us about 300 years ago. The boy from Cello, Elliot, who lost his beloved father to a vicious and violent Purple - or to a boost of marital infidelity as some neighbors are secretly assuming - was the kind of hero you cannot help rooting for, too. Plus there were Cambridge, UK, some pleasantly weird teachers and their teaching methods, a father-daughter-problem begging to be solved and two far-from-bland side-characters, Jack and Belle (view spoiler)[- although I was not fond of Jack's wart on his middle finger. He can keep his coarse hair and may even grow a row of buck teeth, but warty-handed teenage boys are gross in my opinion (hide spoiler)].
All these seemingly fine prerequisites, all the skillful writing and all the originality did not save me from gradually losing interest. My enthusiasm slowly tickled out of me until I did not care particularly for either Madeleine, Madeleine's game-show-addicted mom and her lack of trivial knowledge, Elliot, Elliot's missing dad, the Butterfly Child, the Color victims, Cello's anti-monarchy movement or the still to visit magical, dragon- and werewolf-infested north of the country.
I realized my loss of personal involvement only when it was much too late to do something about it. I feel inexplicably sad, because my expectations had been so high and so solidly founded. I feel cheated by my own mind, because I cannot and do not find fault. I know, I could ignore my boredom and resolve to go on reading, but unfortunately I did exactly that just yesterday, when I had to admit that Lips Touch: Three Times and I did not match in spite of my deep admiration for Daughter of Smoke & Bone. In short, I do not have enough determination to repeat the experience so soon.
So, is it just me or is it a mixture of misplaced expectations and unfortunate reading constellations? I do wonder.
The only cure for book-caused self-doubt I know, however, is reading the next book. And I'll do precisely that as soon as I can. Cross your fingers and wish me luck!["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
"Yamaguchi Hiroyuki, who rested agura-style in front of a too warm kotatsu, enjoyed a cup of fragrant genmaicha with a plate of fresh kusamochi from a...more"Yamaguchi Hiroyuki, who rested agura-style in front of a too warm kotatsu, enjoyed a cup of fragrant genmaicha with a plate of fresh kusamochi from a wagashiya at Higashi-Bashi and took a secret sip of shirozake in between, while reading the less shocking parts of the shimbun to his wataire-clad okusan Miyuki, who was supposed to fold the last Hinamatsuri origami, but nervously fingered a fertility omamori from the neighborhood jinja instead. If she did not conceive this very month there was nothing left but harakiri. 'Shou ga nai', she wispered to herself with a soft sigh reminiscent of the maiko she once had been." Huh? No, this paragraph was certainly not extracted from Jay Kristoff's debut novel Stormdancer, but it could be, for I jumbled together a paragraph that made the same exaggerated use of japanese nouns in a slightly clumsy attempt to create a kind of asian atmosphere. I was really peeved by the vocabulary overload, which even had characters answering with "Hai" instead of simply "Yes", but in the end there were all in all more aspects in the story that I enjoyed, adored or felt comfortably familiar with than those I disliked. I will try to point out both and I will explain why I would in fact recommend to pick up the book along the way.
What I liked ... * First of all: The cover. No, not that bland one one by Tor. It reminds me too much of the cover of Takashi Matsuoka's Cloud of Sparrows. I mean the gorgeous red and black one that shows a griffin, lotus-poisoned air, a sexy, young-enough-looking heroine and even a nine-tailed-fox tattoo on her arm. I really appreciate it, when publishers invest in creating a cover that actually reflects the story in detail. . . . * The abundance of action and gore. * The author's decision not to shy away from including sex in his plot. A lot of writers do so to appease those strange people who continue to pretend that sex is something not belonging into a normal teenager's life – both fictional and real. That really drives me bonkers from time to time. How refreshing to see a heroine who does not treat losing her virginity like a matter of life and death. * Several strong and extremely likable female characters – even in previously unexpected places. * The initially fragile, but later indestructible, Eragon-Saphira-style, exclusive bond between the paranormally gifted kick-ass heroine and the rare, conflicted and highly intelligent mythical creature thrown into her company. Who would not love Yukiko's "taming" of the proud and bristling griffin Buuru and their later mutual come-what-may trust in each other? * That under the disguise of a brutal, slightly romantic, steampunk fantasy set in an alternative Japan a highly relevant, thought-provoking environmental fairytale is genially smuggled onto many reading lists, which reminds me on the one hand of Hayao Miyazaki's masterworks Nausicaä and Princess Mononoke in a very positive way and on the other hand presses a hand-mirror reflecting our own planet-destructing behavior against our greedy noses. I am going to elaborate: - In Princess Mononoke the fierce Lady Eboshi runs a settlement that produces coal from cut-down forest trees to melt ironsand, which is needed to create firearms. The firearms are meant to kill the giant animal-gods protecting the forest and its inhabitants from human exploitation. Lady Eboshi is willing to sacrifice the forest and the magical creatures living there in order for her country's economy to flourish. She actually cares for her workers, but she doesn't see the connection between the mysterious illness many of the men are inflicted with and the destruction of the woods. The imperial hunters want the deer-god's head and they will receive it. In Stormdancer the ruthless ruler and a fanatic group called the Guild have considerably "bettered" the country's economic and political standing by forcing the farmers to grow lotus on their fields, a plant that fuels the various high-tech steampunk machines, appliances, weapons and airships, leads to addiction when consumed in the form of tea or smoke and unfortunately permanently poisons the air around it and the soil it is grown in. To highlight his power the monarch sends out his recently idle hunters to catch the very last magical beast, that had been spotted in one of the rare regions still untouched by the destructive effect of lotus production. - The easily influenced population in want of lotus money reminded me in turn of the Valley-of-the-Wind people in Nausicaä, who eagerly burn down each trace of fungus that reaches their fields, have to wear breathing masks when leaving their wind-filled haven and hold the Omu, huge insects roaming the supposedly deadly fungus forests, responsible for the actually man-made environmental catastrophe. Animal-loving Nausicaae finds out the truth, connects with the gentle Omus and deals with a steampunky, neighboring country threatening to invade the small paradise with their scifi airships. Oh, I can easily imagine Stormdancer turning into a Miyazaki animation film. The plot, the beast and the girl would be perfect. - But what is even more important – and worth a whole rating star for me – is the adaptability to our own present situation: The looming climate problem is evident, but it gets shoved again and again into a dusty backgroud corner to be dealt with later, because shortsightedly securing the immediate want and comfort and well-being of a handful of still thriving countries always gets prioritized. We destroy species after species and their habitats, we squirrel away radioactive time-bombs all over the planet, we make money at war, we figuratively design prettier breathing masks to avoid the stench of our own exhaust and we diplomatically close our eyes, when countries on the rise want to try their hands at high-impact beginners' mistakes, too. We do not import foreign slaves to do the dirty work in front of our doors like the Stormdancer's Emperor does, we prefer putting the factories themselves into far away countries, so we don't have to watch those people slaving away under unhealthy, inhuman conditions, and we can buy another cheap or not so cheap pair of of hip new jeans, while they have to decide between buying a daily bowl of rice or sending a kid to school. I am really grateful to Mr. Kristoff for writing a story that takes place in the midst of a barely stoppable destruction. The only other comparable example I have read so far was Firestorm by David Klass. Most young adult post-apocalyptic novels are – like the label says – set up in a time after an environmental collaps, after the wounded planet rebelled against being treated like something disposable. And usually the teenaged protagonists are handed the broken pieces and try to make the best of it: Living underwater, surviving a draught, contructing a dome ... They play the role of the innocent victim. We – like Yukiko – are not victims, we are doing the deed right now. * The "normal" fantasy plot parts. I had high expectations for the book to be completely different from everything else I have read, but it is certainly not. A lot of plot elements are very familiar, standard fare, really. But for those of us - like me - who usually enjoy high fantasy, that is not necessarily a bad thing. * The ending.
What I disliked ... * The above mentioned vocabulary overload. Glossary or no glossary, all the unnecessary Japanese made reading the first chapters at least extremely exhausting. In fact, it seemed to me like complete lists of traditional japanese weaponry and clothing were put next to the author's computer with the goal to cross off each of them eventually. A lot of concepts could have also been expressed by a simple English word and an unfamiliar, exotic vibe would still have been the outcome. A good example is in my opinion the fantasy debut City of a Thousand Dolls by Miriam Forster. The robes, the fans, the customs, the nomads ... everything was pretty visual, excitingly unfamiliar and special, but I couldn't pinpoint the setting to a single country. There were chinese, japanese and arabic elements and things I believe that were purely fiction. But no glossary and no inbuilt explanation was needed. I could understand it all. I hope that the final version of Stormdancer drops the occasional "Hai", uses plain English for things like jackets, trousers and knives and at least deletes American leanwords like sararimen (salary men). * The lack of world building in the midst of all the elaborate description. For example, I did not get a proper impression of the tree-house village (in comparison Yelena's first visit in the hidden jungle-city complete with floating bridges and braided furniture in Magic Study has burned itself into my memory), I was puzzled by ensuite bathrooms in the imperial palace, I would like to know more about the lotus business and how it facilitates warfare and I needed to dissect several scenes to finally understand Buuru's outer appearance. * Inconsistencies like love-interest Hiro, a green-eyed foreigner with a japanese name serving the nationalist, exclusive Guild and being a trusted servant of the Emperor in spite of obviously not being from "Shima". * The love triangle. * The very forseeable twists and turns on the way to the plot's climax. * The insignificance of Lady Aisha's role. She showed so much promise and surprise and then ... * The missing romance. There was lust and sex and a heroine lost in rather detached dreams of glowing green eyes, but there was nothing to make my heart flutter. I do not ask for an increase of boy-girl-scenes, but for those already there being more intense, more palatable.
I am afraid, this is getting unbearably long. Anyway, I am very grateful for the chance to read the book pre-publication and I recommend it in spite of the above mentioned obstacles, which might scare away a considerable number of potential fans before the story's lotus fumes have begun to lure them in.(less)
"'I told you that love sucks. But is anyone listening to me? No. England could fall off the map and you’d just smile and keep playing soccer.' JANE IR...more"'I told you that love sucks. But is anyone listening to me? No. England could fall off the map and you’d just smile and keep playing soccer.' JANE IRANIAN"
Oh, yes, in this sandwiched volume soccer-playing Gracie Faltrain takes control – of lots of things and unfortunately not in a good way at all. When I closed my copy of The Life and Times of Gracie Faltrain, Gracie had finally learned the lesson that soccer is a team sport and that winning takes the combined efforts of all players, but when I delved into the sequel I quickly understood that there is plenty of important stuff Gracie is very far from understanding. Apart from the fact that Gracie needs to become less self-centered and explosive, the most important mantras that have to be forced into her skull are “Winning at all costs might be quite costly” and “Helping others starts with respecting them.” To exchange the second hand-stitched proverb for a simile I could also say that Gracie barrels through people’s lives like a highly-motivated bulldozer driver, who deliberately mistakes rare wildflowers for weeds while keeping his earplugs in to drown out the noise of the tree huggers. Or, if I wanted to express Gracie’s problem without a trace of pomp, I would say: Because Gracie thinks she knows what is best for everybody, she meddles without restraint and without looking back whenever she can:
- For months Gracie is convinced that her best friend calling from overseas will unquestionably be grateful to be interrupted, because it is obvious that Gracie’s problems are more urgent, more severe and much more interesting than the ones she was about to elaborate on. - Gracie pulls all possible strings to “rescue” her quiet, brilliant, library-affine and moderately contented replacement friend Alyce from staying unpopular and - in her unwavable point of view – unhappy forever. (view spoiler)[She forces Alyce to attend parties, to buy different clothes, to flatten her frizzy hair, to tutor a nice, but simple-minded jock for romantic purposes; she ignores her outspoken protest and signs Alyce up for a speech competition; she brazenly avenges every bad word class queen bee Annabelle shoots into her friend's direction - not noticing that crashing into a personal defensive protector actually triggers the inner bully in her arch enemy -, and she makes one of her soccer mates ask the poor girl out to the ball and then brags so loudly about Alyce having scored a date that the embarrassed guy can only save his face by rescinding his invitation. (hide spoiler)] - Although Gracie’s dearest wish is for her parents to mend their relationship, she ruthlessly ruins the first tender moment between them, because she immediately needs them to act on her behalf. - Gracie decides to ignore both her mother’s and her boyfriend’s plea not to do anything and calmly destroys the fine layer of scrab that had recently formed on the festering wound that had been inflicted when Martin’s mother left her family years ago (view spoiler)[by putting an ad into the local paper (hide spoiler)]. - Gracie tries to pressure her boyfriend into ending his friendship with her nemensis by resorting to childish name-calling and popcorn blitzes at the movies. - In order to build up some victory feeling among her team mates Gracie humilitates other soccer teams on the field and then makes sure that they know that they have been bested by someone smaller, quicker and fitter. ”’We’re the only team everyone hates. What does that tell you, Faltrain?’ I ask. 'It tells me we’re better than everyone else, Martin,’ she answers. ‘Faltrain, they should measure your head for science. I reckon it’s the biggest I’ve seen.’ MARTIN KNIGHT”.
Even though I have to admit, that I saw a little something of my younger, impulsive self in Gracie, because I grew up in a family that did not snub shouting, dumping the contents of water bottles and sugar pots on people’s heads or asserting one’s opinion by force as part of the daily war, and because “Live and let live” was a motto that did not come naturally to my parents, Gracie’s enthusiastic hole-digging, which lasted almost 200 of the beautifully worded pages and – regardless of several intervention attempts by her mother - got her in deeper and deeper, was a pretty painful process to behold.
If I had not had the chance to get to know and treasure Gracie so much in the multi-angled first installment, I would probably have lost patience with her antics and rated the story, which is mostly told from Gracie’s one deluded point of view, down quite a bit.
But since it is a middle book, I suffered, but I suffered in hope. ”'Boy meets girl. Girl meets ground.' LOCAL NEWS WEEKLY” writes about a game of Gracie’s team. And so I never really doubted that once Gracie hit the bottom hard she would wake up, come to her senses and finally get it right.
”‘I’ve lost him, haven’t I?’ Love’s like an egg. Break it, and you might still have almost every bit of yolk and white, but there’s no way you’re getting that back in the shell. And even if you could, there’d be still all the cracks. It’s why Mum and Dad are taking all winter to grow the smallest bit of green. It’s why Mrs. Knight never came back. ‘Yes, Gracie, love.’ Mum doesn’t bother lying. ‘I think you’ve lost him for now.’” ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)