*** 2.5 stars *** Do you see those 2.5 stars? They do not mean I did not like the book. The chunk (or half star) missing to label this a perfectly alr...more*** 2.5 stars *** Do you see those 2.5 stars? They do not mean I did not like the book. The chunk (or half star) missing to label this a perfectly alright and recommendable apocalyptic read got unexpectedly lost during my perusal of “Part 2”.
I really enjoyed the writing, especially Daisy’s genuine voice. Sometimes I even thought that she talked a little like I do – stringing too many words together to clumsily form a noun, for instance. And her complete lack of worry at the beginning of the – far away – bombings and water poisonings in the promising light of a task-free and adult-free (view spoiler)[ - Aunt Penn is stuck in Oslo when the international airports are closed, but manages to give the kids access to her local bank account - (hide spoiler)] almost-holidays with her cousins felt refreshingly realistic for a fifteen-years-old heroine, who has just fallen in love for the first time.
Unlike some other not quite satisfied readers I did not see anything icky or strange in cousins entering a sexual relationship. I have married first cousins among both my relatives and my friends. I rather got a bit anxious because all the talk of rampant sex never ever included any means of contraception. (view spoiler)[Later Daisy explains that her anorexia had put an end to her bleeding. But until then I unconsciously held my breath for an announcement of an undernourished baby to be born out in the woods. (hide spoiler)]
The big obstacle shadowing my path of enjoyment was the following: The believable war time scenario featuring the British military pocketing usable buildings and spreading rumors, terror and chaos in the name of the greater good changed into something rather bizarre with one single telephone call at the end of “Part 1”, which was quickly succeeded by unexplained events happening at lightening speed and an awkwardly dumped blob of passed time that culminated in a knotted bundle of stickily bittersweet soul-mate melodrama. Rating down seemed to be the inevitable consequence. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
"You get three wishes," the genie said. "I wish for a Duck for Dirk, and My Secret Agent Lover Man for me, and a beautiful little house for us to liv...more"You get three wishes," the genie said. "I wish for a Duck for Dirk, and My Secret Agent Lover Man for me, and a beautiful little house for us to live in happiliy ever after." "Your wishes are granted. Mostly," said the genie.
My wishes were not granted, mostly. I was prepared to read a short, but pleasantly shocking, quirky urban young adult fantasy novel of the ageless sort. Something that has earned being referenced in every other modern fairytale review. But I was disappointed by something so decadent and otherwordly silly of novella-sized proportions - which is maybe hip and maybe multi-layered and satirical and whatnot - that I failed to get it.
Please don't misunderstand. I am not complaining about the "plot" or what the story deals with in general. I do appreciate that it celebrates love in countless forms and outlets between friends, gay lovers, couples who have already split up but cannot let go, parent and child, human and pet, love in different modes of bliss and hurt, family as patchwork as it gets, forgiveness and beauty. I draw my hat because drugs, AIDS, the downsides of stardom and other problems occuring in Hollywood and elsewhere are not glossed over, but brazenly interwoven into everyday life.
I felt let down, because "Weetzie Bat" could only be compared to a fairytale in the sense that both dump unbelievable or exciting facts onto the reader using a detached point of view and a really compact, condensed style: The evil frog turned green with envy, followed the princess into her plush chamber and impregnated her on the spot. He left the castle seven nights before his daughter Swampsea was born. "Good riddance," said her mother, now a royal single parent, and employed a gnarly-horned wet-nurse from hell. Oops! Wrong tale! The man's name was Valentine Jah-Love and the woman's name was Ping Chong. [...] "Jah!" cried Valentine, lifting his stormy face up in the greenish electric light. "You'll have to stay here. It will rain for seven days and seven nights." It rained and rained. Everything in "Weetzie Bat" happens immediately and reminded me of the times in my childhood when I tried to made up a story, started by choosing the characters' names with painful elaboration - the wackier, the better -, moved on to outline what was supposed to happen to whom, jotted down some experimental dialogue and then ... left it to its own devices, because playing some other promising game of make-believe had gained my attention.
In addition to the rush and the lack of filling everything is so easy and too superficial. I.e. My Secret Agent Lover Man (that's a character's name) and Weetzie successfully "make" a couple of movies with the help of one or two friends and their house-mates, who function as actors, wardrobe people and whoever is needed, and earn enough money to live, indulge in their favorite sushi and buy a new car although there is no talk about financing or selling the projects or even of anybody watching the outcomes.
Plus my expectation of a magically version of an 80s L.A. had to be satisfied by a voodoo practicing seductress popping in as a supporting character and by a genie suffering from occupational burn-out who transplants Weetzie and Dirk from being teenaged, desillusioned lesson-cutters to living as house-owners on the look-out for the perfect, respective "Duck" (guy).
Please forgive me, enthusiastic Weetzie fans, for missing the spectacular wonder Weetzie's adventures are supposed to present and for being impatient enough to skip all four sequels without dishing out a second chance to Cherokee, Witch Baby and yet unknown Angel Juan to eventually wow me.(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)
Pennsylvania was a strange state. No one knew who Ruby was. Should you - like me - love beautiful, dream-like writing and glittering, complex character...morePennsylvania was a strange state. No one knew who Ruby was. Should you - like me - love beautiful, dream-like writing and glittering, complex characters who constantly hover just outside your grasp in a gray area between evil, half-good and plain crazy, yet do not mind not getting solid answers at all, there is a serious chance for you to fall for 'Imaginary Girls' by Nova Ren Suma.
I read the eerie, eerie debut novel featuring a tight, strange bond between two sisters, a siren-like femme fatale clutching a whole small-town in her fickle fingers, an alcoholic, hippie mother, some sexual awakening, some painful growing up and growing a conscience, a caring father, deaths, ghosts and hot, lazy summers with a Goodreads group of 'German Girls Reading English Books' - thank you, girls, for voting for this gem as our January group read; without you it would be still gathering dust on my Kindle - and I was delighted by the rich multitude of explanation possibilies the plot offered as our order-seeking minds tried to press the book into a fitting genre corner and to make sense of heroine Chloe's subjective narration. Although only a dozen readers went into discussion, a colorful palette of constructions presented itself - and almost all ideas sounded quite sound: Drugs, dreams, traumata, split personality disorders, deal-offering monsters, paranormal gifts that are limited geographically, even painfully staged pretenses of paranormal gifts to mislead and mind-control the heroine.
... To me, personally, Ruby came across like a twisted and dangerous, yet somehow caring variation of Mary Poppins. I am not exactly sure why. Probably because of her spontaneity, her cheerfulness, her firm reign, her randomly offered secret bits and pieces from her personal Knigge, or simply her magnetic personality?
The book which 'Imaginary Girls' reminded me the strongest of is my beloved 'Chime' - which is not for everyone either. Since Franny Billingsley is so slow in producing another masterpiece I can blissfully roll around in, I am happy when something remotely comparable in style turns up to entertain me in between.
You see, I am rather reluctant to issue a general recommendation, but I also do not want to leave my positive rating uncommented and my praise unuttered. You might be disappointed or frustrated, but you might also miss something unusual and great.(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)