This was a pleasant surprise for a fantasy book as it is at once thoughtful for the world building as it is for the characters and relationships.
The RThis was a pleasant surprise for a fantasy book as it is at once thoughtful for the world building as it is for the characters and relationships.
The Royce-Hadrian partnership of course is very fun to read, and it's compelling to find out more about how their friendship and loyalty was built over the 12 years they've worked together. There are glimpses of things that they know about each other that are hinted at and will likely get "Revealed" as we go, but I do love complex character relationships...which is why I'm actually reading Chronicles parallel to Revelations, so I'm sorta cheating on that end, but I've always liked "flashbacks" to the past and origin stories inserted between present events in books (been spoilt by manga and their angsty flashbacks I guess). I did dither a bit at first where to start, but ended up starting with Chronicles first since I wanted to get attached to the characters right away...then I gave in and started Revelations because Chronicles was way too cheerful (relatively, and a pleasant surprise) and I needed my angsty-past flashbacks to balance things out.
Of course, the back cover kind of "spoils" the fact that Royce and Hadrian get set up, but I was totally enjoying myself waiting for Royce's "I told you so" the first few chapters. The banter and dialogue is well-written for sure, and a good deal of serious business mixed with dry humour. The overall storyline is fairly interesting, and it is not a "clean" hero-defeats-evil kind of story. A few of the characters surprised me with their actions and motivations (in a good way, not the "why would he even do that" kind of way) which kept the story just this side of suspenseful without being overly dramatic. In fact a lot of plot points were handled very practically instead of dramatically, and there was a decent amount of humanizing the limitations of the characters' abilities.
Some bits of exposition are of course necessarily long but there are character bits thrown in there to keep it interesting. I wasn't too fond of Myron since he basically was a walking encyclopedia/history book/translation tool (smartphone of the riyria universe?) and was way too round-eyed. My complaints are minor though and I'm already starting book 2 so I can hopefully find out more about Elves and Dwarves....more
I read this parallel with book 1 of Chronicles so I got to know Royce and Hadrian past and present. I love character development in books so I alwaysI read this parallel with book 1 of Chronicles so I got to know Royce and Hadrian past and present. I love character development in books so I always look forward to series that emphasize it.
Hadrian is almost frustratingly trusting in this book at first, although that's not to say he is stupid (which he mostly pretends to be). He's very straightforward with his thoughts, and has a bit of blind courage to his actions. There's of course a lot of angst about his past, which is usually annoying but he's a sunshine angster (ie smile through the pain) so it's not just sad-angry-mope with him thankfully. Mostly he's a hopeless softy around Those In Need and gets attached easily.
Royce is basically the mysterious, scary eyed killer for most of the book, even after meeting Hadrian. We don't get his POV until much later in the book so most of his appearances is through Hadrian seeing Royce being mean and creepy. It's also hilarious that Hadrian is very impressed by Royce, even while he dislikes him. He's obviously reluctant to partner up with Hadrian, and very capable on his own - so when Hadrian finally makes himself useful he's usually immensely shocked. He's by no means emotionless (which would be boring) so he's actually quite an entertaining character.
By the end of the book they are just beginning to trust each other so Hadrian still has a lot of work to do.
Gwen's story is more world-building than character development since she starts out fierce and continues to be for the whole book. Her powers seem rather like a plot device, but her story is less about that and more about her being a great leader and becoming the influencer she is in the Revelations books. She only really meets the other two at the very end of the book and I'm very interested in how her relationship with Royce, and Hadrian, will develop....more
Not a feminist novel in any way I perceive it, and lacking in overall impact, this novel merely delivers an intriguing fantasy world, and 1.5 kickass heroines (the expected perfect boyfriend is just that, perfect and ubiquitous). The villains are not particularly interesting, nor are the side characters. Though Katsa is strong and independent, rebelling against society's pressures for women, the reader is constantly being treated to her own admonitions of how "not normal" she supposedly is. The Boyfriend, Po seems the more "feminist" character, comfortably encouraging Katsa to be the alpha female. As this series is made up of companion novels rather than sequels, the ending was filled with resolutions too abrupt (death of the Big Bad) and too vague (Po and Katsa's future). Not to say that the novel is not worth reading, but it is not as ground-breaking as I had hoped it would be....more
With a surreal and overly passive narrator, this rather short beginning to The Turning series is saved by the monumentally more interesting, and diverse, side characters, as well as the pleasantly unexpected developments in its second half. The uniqueness of some of the characters makes up for the lack of character development, and the "weird" writing style can grow on you, but only in this limited 200-page dose. Not really worth the hardcover price, but do give it a chance, it's a nice surreal detour, and it's not that long....more
A great GLBT fantasy that doesn't rush into a storm of UST and smut. Seregil and Alec share a slow-building relationship, from strangers to master-apprentice, to close friends and equals. The relationship plot does not push aside the fleshed-out minor characters and their web of complex motives, while the adventure plot is well thought out, and not overshadowed by relationship angst. A great first novel to a series that promises well-paced action, strong personalities, and a budding romance built on friendship and trust rather than lust....more
A very organized, detailed and pretty checklist+journal for award-winning and "notable" young adult book recommendations. I definitely recommend this journal for people who like reading challenges, collecting/recording reading recommendations, and/or would like to read some good books published in the past that they may not have heard of. Though it doesn't have the limitless storage capacity of the internet, it could be a great companion on laptop-less holiday trips too....more
Marla is just as snipey and down-to-business as the first book, but we see a slightly less-prickly side of her as she gets hilariously smitten over love-talker Joshua, and employs a dying man off the street. The themes dealt with in this book are radically different from the myths and prophecies in the first, focusing instead around the various deviations of sexual attraction and power (though I wouldn't call this "steamy" lol). The twists and bends of character betrayals and deaths keep the story interesting, even if there's less action-packed violence....more
It has been utterly too long a time since I've giggled my way through an entire novel - in the good way. This novel is filled with intricate world-building, smoothly blending paranormal oddities within a steampunk setting. The most winning part of all however, has definitely got to be the incredibly quirky, yet sympathizing and adore-able characters, major and minor. There is no cliffhanger ending, but this is the kind of book where you'll be pining for the sequel just to meet the characters again....more
An amazing tale wrought out of teenage desires fulfilled and tested, complicated character dynamics, and the cruel consequences of desperation. It is hard to watch the teens grow more obsessed and dependent on their powers, at the same time alienating themselves and hiding behind their cruelty. The twists and turns in the last few chapters delves further into that overhead question of willing sacrifice versus coming to peace with oneself, culminating in what I choose to believe as an ending open for interpretation. The narrator breathes a vibrant and colourful life into the story through her amazing range of accents for each character, major or minor, it is easy to overlook the sometimes underwhelming writing....more
This is a reread for me, and as such with rereads of mystery novels, it's harder to be surprised. That said, I did deeply enjoy the majority of the stories as I recognized the little clues dropped here and there along the way. I am also continuously surprised at the range of voices Mr. Telfer is able to emulate, it is almost like listening to a full-cast show!...more
A very different kind of mutant superhero story, with empowered female leads, a diverse cast, and the visceral backdrop of New York City's most run-down sectors. I was quite engaged in each of the characters stories and personalities, but perhaps due to its 7-issue limited run, a lot of potential left unexplored....more
Jasper steals the spotlight as the sarcastic, gay Korean-American University student who finds himself conflicted between accepting the well-meaning comfort offered by people who couldn't relate to his experiences, or pushing them away with jokes and reassurances. Peter is far from the token love interest as his voice comes to life through his love of music and the emotions songs and lyrics stir within him. Claire is the mutual acquaintance that brings the two closer together, but while she is not entirely negligible, I was disappointed in her role as the author's preacher. While I was quite moved by the messages of love and peace, I felt that the stark reality of the actual consequences in the aftermath (anger, hatred, war) should not have been so easily omitted....more
An unexpectedly intricate mystery is woven neatly alongside the themes of teenage rebellion, institutional corruption, and the slightly overdramatized flashbacks to the murky past of a young Jimmy Kirk. The struggles both teens have to overcome - Spock's search for his place between the Vulcan and human races, and Kirk's reluctant admiration for the very institution he has grown up to resent - urges along character development and the beginnings of a mutually supportive friendship. I am quite disappointed of the less than satisfying portrayals of female characters, as well as the lack of PoC characters, but casual readers should have no problems enjoying this read. I should also mention that, while there are ample descriptions of high-tech settings and props, I found this novel quite accessible for non-sci-fi fans as well....more
The cliched plot points of convenience, tedious exposition of character pasts, as well as incredibly 2D side characters are only marginally redeemed by the sympathetic if rather dense protagonist Thom and his cute, blooming romance with his mysterious "rival" Goran. The action and intensity does pick up during the last third of the book, with murders and betrayals that depart almost entirely from the self-centered teen angst in the beginning. Nonsensical character decisions, appearances, and fatalities however, did nothing but frustrate me, despite the fact that the final "twist" was a relatively pleasant surprise....more
I'm glad that Mr. Doyle has understood that audiences did not much enjoy the 5 chapters of criminal exposition (from the first book) as much when Holmes is not there to deduce the hell out of stuff. This second novel of the Sherlock Holmes series delves further into the personal lives of both Holmes and Watson, yet maintains the quality of plot and pacing that the first book had offered....more
This introduction of the uniquely gifted detective Sherlock Holmes, seen through the eyes of the humble ex-army doctor John Watson, appeals as both a historical mystery, as well as a deeply entertaining portrait of the eccentric sleuth. It was fun to follow along with the easily sympathized Watson as he struggles to figure out both what Holmes has already been able to deduce from the mystery, as well as the great mystery of Holmes himself. Even though I was not particularly interested in the 5 chapters of the criminal's backstory, John Telfer did an amazing job voicing both an excitable and gentlemanly Watson, as well as a soft-spoken and thoughtful Holmes. So, if you are planning to listen to this series in audio, I highly recommend Mr. Telfer as your narrator of choice....more
I was in quite a rush to finish this book because I had bought it with the intent of gifting it to my friend the next day but instead, I became quite captivated by it myself. The mythology and world building is imaginative and original, combining a medieval setting with a unique blend of magic and quite "modern" characters who believe valiant knighthood is outdated. The character voices are distinct and sympathetic, alternating every chapter between the cynical but good-hearted "rogue" Fisk and the stupidly honest but well-meaning "knight" Sir Michael. However, they are not at all stagnant in their traits: Fisk learns to trust and sacrifice, while Michael learns to lie and manipulate. Side characters are also given depth and acknowledged as independent beings with their own character traits and personalities. The story itself was full of both plot and character twists, and it keeps you guessing as to who the real villains are and who is in league with who until the very end. This is one of those books where I would go and buy my own copy later because I enjoyed it that much....more
A psychological thriller, with blatant critique on consumerism and wasteful spending, as well as the meaning of being a man in a "generation of men raised by women". The narrator is unintentionally funny in the deadpan way, and while the story skips between events and timelines, it is all the more like you are living inside his insomnia-plagued head. The twist at about two-thirds of the way in was very well played, and ties together a lot of the quirks and seemingly innocently repeated lines since the beginning. There were blatant statements of misogyny though, but depending on the reader it could be taken offensively or as just another facet of the characters' deeply disturbing psyches....more
Though I found some of the characters compelling and original, the author's world-building and writing was strained and felt incomplete. The characters were constantly in danger of losing consistency, and some of the twists and turns thus were mildly confusing. However, it was a fun read, with plenty of hilariously snappy dialogue....more
While the title and setting directly references the Boston Strangler's case, this book is more of a story set in the periphery of the fuss. It explores the brothers' varied relationships with their family, their heritage, and their jobs, as well as both mental and physical struggles and consequences they face as they become entangled in the world of serial killers and mob bosses. The subtle twists and turns impact more emotionally than thrillingly, but that's what makes this story so wonderfully character-centric....more
A great improvement since the first book in terms of both writing and characters. This "sequel" feels more like a direct continuation of the previous book and focuses much more on the half-brothers' relationship - and their struggles to define it. There are signs of character development as well as a growing mythology surrounding the labyrinths. There are still openly gay relationships, and the incest has increased about two-fold (which still isn't much), so it is probably still more suited for an open-minded audience....more
While the world and the characters were interesting and vibrant, the writing leaves much to be desired. I have to say though, I was completely pulled in by the 'brothers' premise, and I loved Mildmay very very much, so I may be a bit biased on the ratings here. Also, this book tackles openly gay relationships, violent rape and even a dash of incest, so it is probably more suited for an open-minded audience....more
I did enjoy this book as a metaphor-littered philosophical thriller(?), and it beats the hell out of reading an academic essay on the same topic, but I was a little disappointed in the lack of focus on individual characters/personality....more
This series is a refreshing look at magic that is tied to the contemporary world and its technologies. The characters are well fleshed-out in their motivations and controversial tastes through an open-minded main character, introducing marginal world-views without bastardizing them. Overall an exciting and thought-provoking read with fast-paced action and a no-nonsense anti-heroine leading the charge....more