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)
"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)
He nodded. 'And how old are you?' 'Eighteen.' But he said nothing. 'I know,' she continued. 'It is impressive that I accomplished so much at such an e...moreHe nodded. 'And how old are you?' 'Eighteen.' But he said nothing. 'I know,' she continued. 'It is impressive that I accomplished so much at such an early age.' 'Crime isn’t an accomplishment, Sardothien.' 'Yes, but becoming the world's most famous assassin is.' He didn’t respond. 'You might ask me how I did it.' 'Did what?' he said tightly. 'Became so talented and famous so quickly.'
To readers who were sorely disappointed by the teenage assassin girl in Grave Mercy, because she turned out to be squeamish, uneducated, childish, prudish and – stripped of her wonder box of magical knives and poisons – not really fit for killing anybody at the right place and at the right time, the Throne of Glass’s equally young heroine might certainly represent a reconciliation: For Celaena Sardothien proves herself to be more than capable of ruthlessly and efficiently ending the lives of those unfortunate enough to be on her hit list when she is working or those on her radar when she is snapping. Yes, capable is the adjective the reader cannot escape to associate with "Adarlan’s most notorious assassin", whose career had been cut short a year ago by some spineless betrayer, but there are many other labels that fit her.
Thus I would rather exchange "capable" for "accomplished", since the latter - used by Celaena herself, too - encompasses almost the full range of her praiseworthy achievements, traits and gifts and it implies her delectability in the admiring eyes of the strong, intelligent and good-looking alpha males around her: Celaena's best features are her blond hair and her gold-ringed irises, but after a few hearty breakfasts and some hefty workouts in her new castle suite her cheeks hollowed by prison food and her lean body mangled by hard slave labor in the conqueror king’s mines resume their seductive, yet athletic, voluptuousness and shine. Male chaperone Captain Chaol and Crown Prince Dorian certainly notice in spite of the multi-layered clothing that attempts to conceil her forms. The mine-induced paleness of skin – which stays and stays and stays – simply seems to add to Celaena’s attractiveness. Just like the three huge scars the girl earned during her year as a captive are on the one hand conveniently located on her back in places hidden by the country’s court fashion and on the other hand almost aesthetic reminders of the heroine’s unquenchable toughness. For right after her arrival in the mines her fellow inmates had started flocking towards her and had insisted on cleaning her wounds and smearing them with their own precious salves each night. Which makes it safe for me to assume that no ugly bumps and infections disturb the white-lined artwork on Celaena’s pearly shoulders.
The prisoners’ selfless act of help is just an example of how good and just people recognize Celaena’s inert goodness and righteousness. The reader sees the difference between cruel and mindless soldiers slaying random people in the name of the king and the pure-hearted murderess-on-commission, being a member of the highly esteemed and selective assassins' guild and killing with care and precision, anyhow. It is never mentioned how Celaena managed to stick to having fulfill clean-conscience-assignments only, but listening to her enraged thoughts you simply know deep down that killing children and innocent villagers would be against her work ethics. And, as mentioned, several characters having no access to her stream of consciousness also see her inner light: She might do friends only seldomly on principle because of her line of work, which requires mistrust and competitiveness, yet she is immediately sought out by the few sensible competitors of the king’s secret future champion competition, and her simple, welcoming greeting immediately convinces the visiting ambassador princess of one of the recently subjugated countries, that the girl disguised as Prince Dorian’s merchant class lover Lady Ludmilla is the only castle inhabitant fit to become her language and culture teacher, even her trusted confidante and companion.
Princess Nehemia’s sudden sway to her favour might unquestionably also have been caused by Calaena’s unusual and outstanding language skills – nobody but her in the castle is able to speak Eyllwe, because the King of Adarlan does not believe in diplomatics, but in swords and in the display of power.
As already mentioned, Celaena's special abilities are numerous and her knowledge is vast. I attribute these facts to her almost magical grasp on time management: In a very short time she has her fighting, spying, running, targeting, poison sniffing and observing skills honed to their former unsurpassable glory by doing sit-ups in her room, sparring outside and running a few laps now and then. Simultaneously she naps, stuffs herself with as much food as she can and spends her entire spare time reading herself through the royal library while idly lounging on her balcony. Still there is enough time left for competition meetings, clothes fittings, afternoon hours with the princess and nightly expeditions through the castle’s ancient hidden passages, which certainly, yet to the reader’s complete surprise, start right behind a meaningful tapestry in Celaena’s heavily guarded apartment and carry a whiff of magic and destiny with them, which I do not want to elaborate upon.
Luckily, Celaena does not need to set aside time slots to practice playing the pianoforte. A short foray into some of her former favourite pieces shows that she has lost nothing of her prodigy-like techniques and means of musical expression.
Unlike the above mentioned heroine of Grave Mercy Celaena could hold her own in the company of anybody at any table – highest to lowest - , for her manners including table manners are impeccable – but only if she chooses to make use of them, she says. When she nourishes herself in her suite with Chaol watching her, she prefers showing off her skills in chewing und slurping full-mouthed, open-snouted pig-style, which mysteriously seems to make her more exotic and delectable in the eyes of her male trainer.
The process of heartily inserting food reminds me of Celaena’s favoured method of extracting it again. Boy, can that maid vomit. She "heaves and heaves", when she is exhausted or afraid, when she had breakfast, when she has her moontime. And she does it with gusto and bile in finely tuned archs right where she is – she has a waiting woman who cleans up after her after all – one who had the impertinence to call her out on her arrogance and her habit of admiring herself in the mirror for longer bits of time.
But who would be entitled to being a tiny bit arrogant and show-offy if not she? Even after a year of handling nothing else than a pick-axe Celaena knows that she is the best archer, the best climber, the best knife thrower, the best sword wielder, the best runner, the nimblest fist fighter, the second best poison sniffer, the most intelligent planner, the cutest grinner, the one travelled widest and, and, and without checking out the runners up. Her name is universally known and feared, her education had been costly – though forced on her. So, what if lying low first for the sake of gaining the weapon of surprise is something she simply is not really capable of? Every perfect heroine – even the very most capable one - needs a flaw. Right? And the habit of admiring the cute enemies’ butts to block out waves of mortal fear in a death trial does not truly count.
So, why, in the Wyrdmarks’ name, am I too bored to continue reading after having covered 65% of my Kindle copy? Who is to blame for that dust-layered feeling of draggerishness if not our rise-and-shine hyper-good, hyper-pure, hyper-seductive, probably hyper-magical and hyper-accomplished-in-general murderess-for-hire? I am open to suggestions, but I won’t listen to those trying to shove prequels and sequels and other literary masterpieces under my nose, which I supposedly have to study first before being apt enough to appreciate Throne of Glass. (less)
'The tech is safer now ... It can change how a person acts and thinks.' I tell him about what Cormac said about isolating problem areas in the strand...more'The tech is safer now ... It can change how a person acts and thinks.' I tell him about what Cormac said about isolating problem areas in the strand and splicing new material into an individual's thread. I vividly remember the awe I felt when I was watching 'The Matrix' for the first time. Although it puzzled my mind with questions like 'How can virtual procreatic activity result in a real baby? Do the machines manufacture an embryo when a couple living in the Matrix stops using condoms?' or 'How do the human bodies produce more energy than the upkeep of the huge living apparatus swallows?' I was easily lulled into believing it might be possible and I was only missing a clue. It all sounded so convincing that I had the uncomfortable urge to double-check my own reality against the frightening idea of it being nothing more than a clever illusion.
Reading 'Crewel' was nothing like that. I was feeling something close to awe - but only for myself, because I managed to stay on board past the 70% mark of my Kindle.
Also is 'believable' a term that I would never, ever associate with this woven-world setting. In fact until approximately 36% I had convinced that I was dealing with a fantasy novel set in a fantastic totalitarian world unlike our own. The notion that 'Crewel' could take place on post-apocalyptic Earth never crossed my mind and comes to the formerly ignorant heroine as a surprise revelation, too.
But not only the heroine, the whole population of 'Arras' is unrealistically docile, content and easy to control - without being held in check by threats (the rulers have ridiculously easy means to change people's minds same as they have means to adapt their appearance or their environment: Removing, replacing or repairing threads on a loom is just a matter of seconds for a capable and virtuous weaveress after all). The information that someone living in the neighborhood has to report in for being rewoven is processed among the citizens with slight unease, but does not cause boosts of fear or resentment; same as being claimed by the government to become a glamorous but secluded and never-to-be-seen-again spinster, who weaves reality and features in the yellow press, equals being selected to participate in a beauty or talent TV show today: The 'lucky' person does not really know what participation entails, but it will make her famous - so what?
And thus I have mentioned my two most annoying aspects of the story (I will not talk about the unlikable characters, the overflow of mean girls or the love-quadruple in this review. Things like that are definitely of matter of taste. I am concentrating on the lack of logic and believability here.): The spinsters' and the creweler's way of weaving the world (view spoiler)[as a layer on top of the real, but catastrophically destroyed world (hide spoiler)] on a couple of looms and the spinsters' paradoxic position between having to remain pure, untainted women, who are idolized for their gift of creating the whole world with their hands like a virgin Mary would be for creating a foetus without male input, on the one hand, and serving as seductive geishas to the needs of leery senators at administrative functions on the other:
Weaving the world on a loom: A loom, as I am able to imagine it, is - however large an industrial one gets to be - a device that produces something two-dimensional. Usually threads go in two directions and can consist of multiple fine fibres. Really intricately woven or not - in contrast to cloth reality as we know it is a three-dimensional thing. In 'Crewel' there are rooms and rooms full of looms, large and small, wooden and metallic, and each of it supposedly holds something big and complex like a whole city. A handful of connected strands can represent (or rather be) a school-building and ripping a single thread with a sharp object before it grows thin and unravels naturally can mean ending someone's life. How all the cloths of those unconnected looms form one seamless country, how people are able to walk around although their position is fixed firmly between two other threads, how specially gifted heroine Adelice is able to see and manipulate the threads of time and matter without a loom when she is part of the world - and suddenly the walls of a room consist of more 'wool' than a whole district -, how the Coventry itself has to be a cloth on a loom that contains other looms, how people are able to grow grain on field that has been created by the Creweler, who plans how many ponds to put where in order to feed the population with fish, and how zooming in at a loom is possible, when nothing sounding remotely digital is mentioned, does not get addressed at all during the first three quarters of the story I more or less patiently endured. At one point the Creweler reveals some crucial information concerning the planet's past, its physical matter and some clever inventor who found a way to shape it, but she did not solve the urgent, logical dilemma described above.
Women, spinsters, sexuality and creativity: Almost right from go there is a kind of inconsistency in the position and the behavior expected from women that made it obvious to me that the author wanted the reader to notice something is off in the gender department, something that might have been different or even better at some point in the times proceeding the plot. Still, to me things were that unbelievably strange, that I had to shake my head in disbelieve instead of employing it in contemplation: Young males and females live completely separate lives. There are even districts for couples with female offspring and districts for families who have born boys. Each girl has to stay pure until she becomes a spinster or is matched to her future husband. In spite of that the art of brightly colored, seductive facial make-up and attire is deemed to be extremely important to acquire. Adelice's mother, for instance, who has a husband and absolutely no say in who she wants to be with, spends some time in front of her mirror reach morning because an atttractively painted face pleases her boss. Gifted girls are a commodity. They are unceremoneously fetched from their homes and put through a process that assesses the strength of their abilities. Although refusing would not be an option anyhow they are pampered by personal assistants and make-up artists, showered with beautiful clothes, good food and media attention. And even though the common opinion is that only virgin women can do the weaving or the creweling necessary for survival, Arrras' senators traditionally order very young spinsters to accompany them to official banquets and state functions as arm candy and as bed warmers, too. Apart from my irritation concerning how women have managed to stay the bottom feeders in a society that completely depends on their special work (view spoiler)[Creweler Lorciel's answer at 67%: Women are easy to control. (hide spoiler)], I wondered why the rulers did not think of setting aside especially attractive girls to form a caste of pleasure givers and assign a supposed importance to those working in the sexual sector, instead of 'wasting' their country's future creators, guarantors of nourishment and housing, on their personal gratification and risking the population's wrath. In addition our little creweling star, who describes herself as shy, goes from being ignorant, timid and naive to behaving brazen, saucy and confident in rocket time. Such a character twist is not a beautiful thing to behold.
At the point at which I stopped reading signs of rebellious activity have started to manifest; and I suppose not far ahead there will be a big gender-related bang (view spoiler)[My guess is both purity and gender do not matter at all to do the weaving. (hide spoiler)] and a revelation of someone evil purposefully drawing the 'strings' tight to keep everybody in line. But that will definitely be too late for me. The train that would have had the power of turning me into a believer has left the station long ago.
So. Please weave a better setting next time, Ms. Albin. And do make the basic concept water-tight. If not, I am not willing to try on one of your hip, dystopian garments again. (less)
Maura would say "That's the universe calling for you on line two, Orla" or something like that [...]. In the next room over, Orla was talking to eithe...moreMaura would say "That's the universe calling for you on line two, Orla" or something like that [...]. In the next room over, Orla was talking to either her boyfriend or one of the psychic hotline callers. With Orla it was difficult to tell the difference between the two sorts of calls. Both of them left Blue thinking she ought to shower afterwards. The Raven Boys has been one of the books I anticipated so much that I placed a pretty early preorder on the hardcover. And, if you look at my status updates, you can see that I breezed through it in practically no time, because I did enjoy reading it and did not want to read other books in between in order to wait for my group of reading buddies to catch up.
Right from the start I loved heroine Blue Sargent, the likeably different non-psychic in a small-town, all-female household of delightfully wacky, but genuine tarot-card-reading fortune-tellers, without reserve and glued myself to her every move. Her family was like a mix of the Obermeiers in Olfi Obermeier und der Ödipus and the Delaneys in The Secret Life of Sparrow Delaney, but in contrast to the hero and the heroine in the before mentioned novels, Blue feels perfectly comfortable being her mother’s offspring and contributes to her family’s business, too: Her presence is like an amplifier for everything spiritual, magical and life-energy-related. Blurry visions get clearer, spirit voices get louder and ley line energy flows freely when Blue is in the vicinity. I looked extremely forward to the possibility of wonderful Blue falling in love with a boy and struggling hard against her emotions, because her cards again and again predicted the too-early demise of a boy she will kiss. I was eager to meet the mysterious boy who had only one year or less to live: The doomed boy, whose spirit appeared to Blue on St. Mark’s Eve on corpse road.
And here is where my rainbow-colored balloon was condemned to slowly deflate: Although mystery boy Gansey and his friends Adam, Ronan and Noah, who – like him – are Ivy-League-bound students of the prestigious, private boarding-school Aglionby, are far from being cardboard characters, I didn’t fall for them at all. Their sharp angles and their unique edges failed to evoke my interest and their Holy-Grail-like quest to locate the exact route of one of three criss-crossing ley lines, and consequently the secret burying ground of the corpse of the Welsh legend Glendower, seemed pretty random, forcefully molded to fit to the rest of the story and artificially constructed altogether. The use Gansey – and his evil competitors, too – had for the power granted to the person responsible for ancient Glendower’s reawakening was eventually explained, but it did not convince me as far as the degree of obsession and urgency was concerned.
In addition, there was - contrary to the book flap's promise - no true love in sight. Blue is described as a very sensible person, who is determined not to fall in love, because she does not want to be the cause of someone's death. Her frightened realisation, that steeling her heart against love - which unerringly will find a crack to slip in anyhow - did not have the slightest effect at all, could have been an extraordinary drama to behold. But Stiefvater chose the route of lukewarm first attraction for one boy, whose attentions are kind of welcome and gratifying, and a curiosity-based, growing familiarity lined with bickering and headed towards a friendship between like-minded persons for another one, who at first seemed to be incompatible. In short, that means: No passion for Blue in volume one, but seeds in the soil for a solid love-triangle in volume 2.
By the way, volume 2: Quite a number of questions remained unanswered and quite a lot of puzzles stayed unsolved. I do not mind a book that leaves room for a sequel. (Shiver, for example, has been such a book for me. I could read Linger, if I ever felt like it, but I don’t have to.) But I resent books that make no sense on their own. The Raven Boys does not really end on a cliffhanger, but you cannot fail to notice that the story is incomplete.
I guess I will enjoy reading the sequel eventually. But I can assure you that nothing will seduce me into preordering the hardcover. My hardcover copy of The Raven Boys is back on the market, by the way. I see no sense in keeping it. A lovely cover alone does not earn my precious shelf space. All in all: A good read, but also a disappointment. (less)
My love for Cate Tiernan's Immortal Beloved caught me quite unexpected last year and that the sequel turned out to be equally engaging and lovely surp...moreMy love for Cate Tiernan's Immortal Beloved caught me quite unexpected last year and that the sequel turned out to be equally engaging and lovely surprised me just as much. But when I decided to order the Balefire series, some older young adult fiction by the same author, as a one-book-reprint, I had already upped my expectations by a chunky notch. I was prepared to meet not one, but two prickly, paranormal heroines who would worm themselves into my heart like Natasya had done. For the description surely sounds like a darker, witchier, sexier young adult version of Lottie and Lisa:
A girl from Connecticut, whose father has just died in a car accident and who is now moving in with a strange and otherworldly "voodoo" family friend she had never heard of before, and a young, fun-loving witch living in New Orleans with her Nan cross paths in High School and discover that they have to be identical twins. They get roped into a bizzare story full of magic and fall in love with the same mysterious guy. Well... pre-Immortal Beloved I would have heard and heeded the unmistakable sound of the paranormal warning bells tolling like mad: The words "love triange" and "mysterious young man" used together in a blurb by Booklist are something that would have me make a U-turn before even contemplating to add a title to my wishlist under normal circumstances. But a book by the author of Immortal Beloved ... I had been so confident that another miracle would happen and bought the 974 pages in one go.
The reward for my unusual optimism have been 131 pages of the most severe, most nauseating and most disturbing case of double instant-love I have ever come across. After having read myself through quite a share I did not really believe that surpassing the lowest of low would be possible. But it was. After one drink on a lumpy love-seat in a dark bar Girl One (Clio) is "totally, completely, 100 percent happy", convinced that she has found "the one" she is going to spend her life with and that he is worthy of her love: "I know I wanted another margarita and instead got a 7UP, which made me fall even more in love with him. I could trust him." Shortly after, Girl Two (Thais) falls head over heels in love with the same guy in a beautiful garden next to a hidden church. She admits she is "a little creeped out" by his low voice and his suggestion to leave for his nearby apartment together, but "there was no mistaking it -" she "saw admiration in his eyes. Attraction." And when he says that they will soon meet again, she "knew that he was right".
Well. I am going to stop reviewing this now. I still feel a bit queasy.... but also a bit angry at myself. I could have bought my own copy of Pan's Whisper or The Immortal Rules with the money. Alas, back to being a suspicious buyer.(less)
I would shelve Theo Lawrence’s young adult debut Mystic City as Futuristic Romantasy, if I had to be precise. It takes place in a future, but alternat...moreI would shelve Theo Lawrence’s young adult debut Mystic City as Futuristic Romantasy, if I had to be precise. It takes place in a future, but alternative version of Manhattan. The plot relies heavily on its fantastic elements, namely on the existence of Mystics, who are people who have magic, which is used as energy, as the stuff which makes skyscrapers float high above the flooded landscape with its crumbling, moldy buildings, and as the basic ingredient of a wonder drug called Stic. And the story definitely concentrates more on the stormy and unquenchable forbidden romance between the offspring of bitter, political adversaries than on the glitzy-glossy Mafiosi mystery. That tendency was more transparent in the novel's working title, which had been "Your Heart Like Quicksilver". Like every other futuristic publication aimed at teenagers, Mystic City comes pitched with a comparison to The Hunger Games, which seems to be obligatory these days – plot and setting nonwithstanding – and which nobody takes seriously anymore. My pitch would have been "A cross between Gossip Girl, Blue Bloods and Exodus".
I’ve rated Mystic City three stars, which means, I enjoyed reading it, all in all. There has been a lot of eye-rolling, a lot of 'Yes-Buts' and a lot of "Do-You-Think-I-Am-Dense", which I will explain shortly, but the heroine was thoroughly likable and brave, the hero attractive, super-powered and mysterious, the romance – although instantly there and super-kitschy – pretty romantic, the villains villainous, the action plenty and rapid and the world-building – although unbelievable – vividly painted in rich, sparkling detail and rather creative (view spoiler)[I want a rebellious boy fetch me from my penthouse balcony on his magic motorcycle, too. Maybe that would heal my fear of heights. (hide spoiler)] - although I was a tiny bit disappointed about the lack of progress in communication technology: Mobiles are called TouchMe, MP3-players AMuseMe and people still use Short Message Services and E-Mail. However, my inner eye has been able to pull-up scene after scene and my mind has been sufficiently entertained and managed to stay on track until the book ended – on a half-cliffie.
I do not want to gloss over the two major bothersome things I have hinted at:
A) The predictability. I hate it, really hate it, when I am constantly quicker at grabbing the loose ends than the mystery-solving main character is, because everything is more or less obvious but continuously gets ignored by her, when I have to impatiently look behind me screaming “Come on girl, switch on your brains, morron. You’ve almost said it yourself a minute ago.” I had to wait until past the 50% mark for Aria Rose – who is not meant to be helpless Miss Clueless - to finally catch up and get a whiff. And even then it took her a long time to put the missing pieces of the jigsaw into the right places.
B) The sloppiness. I think the author chose the easy road by integrating magic as a ecologic and economic factor into his or her post-melted-polar-ice-caps era tale. But that is perfectly acceptable. What did peeve me was that apart from some water in the streets and rather warm air the climate catastrophe does not seem to have changed the weather or the living conditions in a noticeable way. Aria’s parents suggest that she goes to Bali on her honeymoon trip, which had me thinking if much of Bali would be inhabitable then. Aria confesses to Hunter that she never saw a real tree or even grass before, which had me thinking where all the fruits on the Rose family’s table came from and how the air is still breathable. And finally, Manhattan. Manhattan’s buildings are standing 30 feet deep in water and the governors detonate unsafe buildings in regular intervals – upper-class people watch the destruction of houses like fireworks, champagne in hand. But the rebellion’s headquarters are below ground in abandoned Metro stations, where individuals have converted old vehicles into homes. How can that be? If living in the lowest floors of street level houses isn’t possible anymore, all Metro stations should to have turned into slimy, concrete-lined aquariums, too!
I am not sure if I want to read the sequel, but I can say I had a rather good time tinted with a bit frustration and a little “Don’t-kid-me-and-don’t-shit-me”-vibe. And I really love that cover. The skyline, the darkness and the rich, delicate girl. It fits. (less)
Not really worth reviewing in my opinion. One thing was ridiculously noteworthy, though: The mermaids' tails are of the conveniently modest and young-...moreNot really worth reviewing in my opinion. One thing was ridiculously noteworthy, though: The mermaids' tails are of the conveniently modest and young-adult-like clean sort: "By the time I had unclasped my bra and slipped out of my panties, I could feel the protective sheath of shimmering blue-green scales covering me from nipple to nipple and down across my belly to obscure my nudity." Ehhhh? I thought scales were part of the merfolk's nature and not a costume? How can they use their nipples for - let's say - feeding, if they are hidden under a "sheath of scales"? (less)