As a child in a place with lots of winter and lots of thunder, but never at the same time, I found the title of this book absolutely intriguing. I seeAs a child in a place with lots of winter and lots of thunder, but never at the same time, I found the title of this book absolutely intriguing. I seem to remember feeling that the brilliance of the story didn't quite live up to the title, but to this day I can still remember the images Sandoz crafted in my mind of all those children huddled together in a cave made of snow. ...more
2.5 stars, I suppose. It was just fine. An easy read, but left me scratching my head on questions of logic and character development too many times to2.5 stars, I suppose. It was just fine. An easy read, but left me scratching my head on questions of logic and character development too many times to be completely absorbing.
I was immediately thrown for the loop when, within the first two chapters, the author made references to Twitter, Vimeo, Google, and a couple other very current forms of social media. Nothing wrong with that, in and of itself - the characters' use of these platforms was not incorrect it was just... jarring. For some reason, hauling name-branded, only fleetingly-famous (maybe) bits of technology makes me squirm a little. Like I'm worried on behalf of the book that it won't feel relevant anymore, five years from now.
But okay, okay, not the point of this story. The point of this story is to follow Wes, aspiring film student, and Annie, a ghost-who-won't-admit-to-being-a-ghost from the 1820s who desperately needs Wes's help finding a cameo she has lost.
Question A: Why does Annie appear when she does (~2015 New York)? What's special about that time and place? The explanation provided is that she needs to find someone who is willing to see her and can help her, but...? Why is Wes so much more willing and able than anyone else? He's not sending out "I wish I had a damsel in distress" vibes. The medium at the seance can't be responsible, because not only is she a fraud, Annie appears well before the seance even begins. I needed something a little more concrete to help me pin down this point.
Question B: Why does Wes fall so hard in love with her? She's cute, okay. But immediately after observing her at the seance, he forgets about her until Tyler reminds him about the release form, then he's like - "oh yeah, she was hot and I should check that out." Then, within about two days he's nutty about her, even though she's ... well, not much but cute. She's helpless and shallow and... maybe guys really dig that? I was having trouble digging that.
I guess I wish Annie had been just a little more interesting. She was a little rebellious - sneaking out to meet her man - but ultimately, she just wanted to be with her man, and nothing else mattered to her until all the sudden at the end she wants to save the world. I'd have liked to see a lot more of that from her earlier.
As for the ending? I am mostly satisfied. In some ways, it seemed that nothing had changed - we were just uncovering the truth about the events in 1824, which rolled out the way they did because of the help Annie got in 2015. I like that as a resolution to stories like that. The truth about the lost ring implied this was supposed to be the case. But then other things did change, leaving me a little boggled.
I liked it. Let's say 3.5 stars, leaning toward four. It took me longer than it should have to realize what kind of book I was reading (I never read dI liked it. Let's say 3.5 stars, leaning toward four. It took me longer than it should have to realize what kind of book I was reading (I never read dust jacket summaries), and even once I realized there was a Shocking Secret waiting to be revealed, it took me longer than it should have to guess what it would be. I blame some of this on myself as a willfully obtuse reader, but also somewhat on the author. Despite lovely writing and an excellent POV, the scene in which the turning point of Cadence's life is presented felt insignificant. For the first two-thirds of the book, I didn't realize that her fall into the water and resulting head injury was more than just another anecdote in what I was expecting to be a rather straightforward coming-of-age tale. It wasn't until the author started annoying me by having the other characters refuse to help her remember the details over and over and over that I realized I should have given the whole thing more thought from that point in the tale onward.
Speaking of rubbing points in, the setting among a family of wealthy, privileged white folks was both interesting and infuriating at times. It was interesting to peek into that life, but infuriating to see the way they handled situations that was sometimes more foreign to my experience than anything I've encountered visiting other countries. The refusal of the family to admit any kind of weakness in itself, the trust funds and infighting over inheritances. I thought Lockhart did a good job both letting her characters exist within this world and also having them challenge the world and its precepts.
And ultimately, I really liked the ending. Emotionally, I thought it was handled very well. I imagine the Big Secret won't come as much of a surprise to other, more tuned-in readers, but I was happy with the way it rolled out. (It doesn't hurt that the gal reading this on audio was fantastic. I felt the lip a'quavering more than once through the last couple of chapters.) I liked the emotional resolutions, and I liked the nature of the phenomenon ((view spoiler)[that is, I liked that the kids were sentient ghosts and not just projections of Cady's damaged mind (hide spoiler)]).
I loved the weaving in of altered fairy tales. I think there was a lot of literary fun happening there, which would probably be greatly highlighted by a reread.
My single serious gripe is about the title. I see how there was a bit of playing about with the concept of lying (to oneself, within the family, between the children, etc), but not once is an explanation given for why the group of young people are called the Liars. Early on, she says they were not called that until Gat came, but then... nothing. What happened after Gat came that earned them that title? Why did they adopt it for their own? Without that clue, the title makes no sense to me, and I'm a big fan of titles with significance. If there's something major I'm missing here, someone please let me know!
So overall, an interesting read, very well read on audio. It was just the right length, too. Any longer would have been too much. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
Meh. 2.5 stars. It was just fine. A dystopia without much in the way of surprises or new plot twists. The protagonist was a flake who relied on othersMeh. 2.5 stars. It was just fine. A dystopia without much in the way of surprises or new plot twists. The protagonist was a flake who relied on others to make things happen for her. In fact, the most troubling thing about this novel was how it handled gender roles. The message seems to be, When the end of civilization comes, we must revert back to our primitive roles, wherein women are submissive mothers, cooks, and teachers, and men do the hunting, driving, and thinking. The way the near-rape scene was handled made me want to punch things. To be fair, lots of women think they are to blame in similar circumstances, but using that as a convenient plot device to force a separation on our lovers felt cheap and mean. There was no real lesson in it for anyone.
I probably won't look for the second book, even if (or because?) the ending was a cliffhanger. ...more
Generally very enjoyable, even though - about halfway through - I thought to myself, "nothing is actually happening>." There's a narrative, and lovGenerally very enjoyable, even though - about halfway through - I thought to myself, "nothing is actually happening>." There's a narrative, and lovely characters, but the first part of the book is all about character development (including the character of the Nokobe Tract), but not much else. I loved the bit written from the perspective of the ants. The third part made me uncomfortable, in that the action happening in that part (Raff arranging his life in such a way that he will eventually have the power and position to save the Nokobe Tract) is my absolute nightmare life. Even thinking about functioning on that kind of level in those kinds of circles activates my anxiety. Finally, I'm still struggling to sort out the significance of the ending and how I feel about it.
Overall, this was a beautiful photograph of and love letter to the wilderness areas of the American South, and as such was very enjoyable. I realize the politicking and business side of naturalism and environmental conservation can't be avoided in any realistic recounting, but apparently I don't enjoy reading about those thing so much. ...more
Ermagerd, I have such a reader crush on Brandon Sanderson. I have got to stop reading first books in his series when there are no other books availablErmagerd, I have such a reader crush on Brandon Sanderson. I have got to stop reading first books in his series when there are no other books available yet, though. He sucks me in and then it's over and I just want to keep going. Next one in this set isn't due out until 2017, *sob!*.
Right. Review the book.
I really loved the book. Stylistically and thematically, it borrows from several of the contemporary greats: Harry Potter (a school for kids with special talents), and Alvin Maker (an alternate American history featuring a boy with a special destiny) came often to mind. The system of magic is, once again, brand new and unrelated to any other fictional system of magic I can think of, though even here the magic and worldbuilding ring slightly of Sanderson's other worlds: mysterious beasties of mysterious origin threaten to overwhelm the civilized world, ala Way of Kings; the source of magical talent seems to belong to some physical encounter, ala the Mistborn books.
It's all good! Borrow, amend, upgrade, and tell it all so beautifully that I do extra housework just so I can keep listening to the next chapter.
The characters were excellent as well. As a sidekick, I really liked the sassy, dramatic, underambitious Melody. Professor Fitch was just what a mentor should be, and a bit more interesting to me for also being rather downtrodden. Our Protagonist, Joel, had good depth and a believable skillset, but what fascinated me most about him was that - unlike Harry Potter or Alvin Maker or any number of other YA fantasy protagonists - Joel does not belong to the set of magically talented individuals that populate the story. Instead, he is an outsider looking in, wanting to belong but having missed the external spark that would have ignited his ability. One definitely gets the feeling that he will eventually come into his own as a Rithmatist, but the fact that he did not by the end of the first book felt enormously satisfying to me. That's a big carrot drawing me toward the next installments.
It also made the secondary climax, at the Melee, really a fantastic note to go out on. (view spoiler)[ I might have cheered out loud when he and Melody proved victorious against Nalizar's team. (hide spoiler)]
And speaking of Nalizar, he was a worthy antagonist. I liked the Snape-like ups and downs, and wonder if Sanderson might actually have been playing around with an assumed reader-expectation of Snape-like qualities? Snape is kind of a new trope. It could happen. (And is it just me, or does "Nalizar" smack of "Salizar (Slytherin)"?)
Eh hem. Anyway.
Really good read. If you like any of Sanderson's other stuff, if you like Harry Potter or Alvin Maker or magic school fantasies or magical alternate histories, give this sucker a read. Or maybe you should wait until he finishes the series. It's gonna be a bummer of a wait. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
Everyone talks about this book as the one where the series really takes off. Maybe I haven't been paying close enough attention, since I've been listeEveryone talks about this book as the one where the series really takes off. Maybe I haven't been paying close enough attention, since I've been listening to them on audio, but I didn't really spot a marked difference between the quality of this one and of the previous two. I liked meeting Michael, I liked the relationship development between Harry and Susan, I mostly like the theory of the antagonists. I love learning more about the system of magic in the books. It all makes such good sense.
Anyway. Very enjoyable read. Looking forward to the next. ...more
This is the second time the brightly colored cover and title have tricked me into downloading the audio version of this book. I tend to like my audioThis is the second time the brightly colored cover and title have tricked me into downloading the audio version of this book. I tend to like my audio either very light or non-fiction, and the story description tricked me on this count too.
Sort of. I mean, it's light. REALLY light. Like, "I feel lightheaded" light. The first time I tried listening to it, I thought I would tough it out through the shallow characters and fairly obvious plotline... until the heroine, who I suppose I'm supposed to root for, devoted three pages to jealously grieving over the fact that her rival had purchased a $5000 handbag that she (our heroine) coveted desperately for herself (but was too poor to buy).
Let the empathy commence...?
I powered through that scene on the second try, convinced that maybe an actual plot would appear soon, but no. It just kept coming back to the handbag.
I want to know more about that poor foreign girl Meena met on the train in the first chapter. She sounded interesting. Nerf....more
I did it. I finished a Chuck Palahniuk novel. I've started two others - Choke and Haunted - and couldn't make it to the end. This one had the advantagI did it. I finished a Chuck Palahniuk novel. I've started two others - Choke and Haunted - and couldn't make it to the end. This one had the advantage of being quite short, and being audio. The premise was entertaining - kind of like The Breakfast Club in Hell, kind of bad-ass warrior queen, kind of backward-told mystery. Even so, it didn't take too long until some of the story's conceits started wearing on me. You can only hear about the Sea of Partial Birth Abortions and the Desert of Used Bandaids and such things so many times before it starts to feel like they're trying too hard to get you to laugh at the joke.
I liked Madison, as a character. I liked her sassiness, her intelligence, and her kick-butt attitude. I liked learning more about the other characters. I'm not sure what to make of the existential ending, but I guess that's where the "to be continued" bit comes in. Not sure that I'll continue. ...more