This is a very short and, despite the subject matter, easy read. It's disquieting, yes, but also hopeful and occasionally even light.
What I really li...moreThis is a very short and, despite the subject matter, easy read. It's disquieting, yes, but also hopeful and occasionally even light.
What I really liked about this book is that, first, it doesn't shy away from the horrors of what happened to Nujood, but it also doesn't go too graphic into them. It's clearly been written with a great deal of input from Nujood because the style, and what she takes enjoyment in, is clearly that of a 10- or 11-year-old. She is such a strong-willed child, and I truly grew to respect her throughout the narrative. Respect not just for her concepts of right-and-wrong, but also because she's not perfect, she's occasionally immature, and that's all right because she's just a child.
What I didn't like as much was a comparative lack of background information about Yemen, the historical influence of Islam, more history of the current situation, etc. It was hard for me to feel sympathy for characters outside of Nujood because I was operating almost entirely on my western viewpoint, and that's unacceptable.
But honestly, this is a book that you should just read. And use it to realize the immense cultural barriers that prevent women, and even men, from achieving equality in these societies.(less)
Sherry Thomas did it again for me. I love her creative and unlikely scenarios, so different from any other historical romance I've read. (Though, I'll...moreSherry Thomas did it again for me. I love her creative and unlikely scenarios, so different from any other historical romance I've read. (Though, I'll admit, of historical romance, I read mostly regency.) I love that she takes us outside of England, though her characters are still English. I love the research that imbues every page, making it seem authentic and even plausible. And I love her characters when they're not being whiny and melodramatic. (Though this book reminded me a great deal of the first, Private Arrangements, but I suppose that's okay.) Mostly because she has such strong female characters.
Her use of prose was, once again, phenomenal. I love my kindle now, by the way, because when I don't understand a word, I can just look it up in the easily accessible dictionary. That being said, having to look up around seven words made keeping in the story a little more difficult, and I consider myself to have a moderately good vocabulary.
The thing I liked least about this book was when the heroine goes back to England to see her father before he dies. One after another, previous conflicts are easily and satisfactorily resolved for all parties... but me. It all just seemed too simple and too sudden. I get that when someone is dying you want to absolve of all issues but... a bit more whining and blaming, and a bit less understanding, and also a bit less of didactic, LONG, pieces of dialogue would have been good.
I would have been satisfied had she finished the book once our MCs made it through Afghanistan. But she didn't, and so it fell a little flat at the end. But that's okay, because the first 3/4ths totally outweighed her "meh" ending.(less)
So I read Ryan's first effort, The Forest of Hands and Teeth, and came away from it with an enjoyable experience but not exactly impressed. Like, it w...moreSo I read Ryan's first effort, The Forest of Hands and Teeth, and came away from it with an enjoyable experience but not exactly impressed. Like, it was okay. Like, I don't think I could read it again, but I don't feel like I wasted six hours of my life.
Yeah, The Dead-Tossed Waves was more of a: HOLY CRAP THIS IS INTENSE DON'T STOP PLEASE.
I have to admit, lately I've been living a bit on edge. I'd blamed it on movies. More specifically, moderately realistic movies about the zombie apocalypse. Even more specifically: Zombieland. I've been locking my door to keep the undead hordes out. Checking dark corners. I know it's crazy.
But now I realize, I should blame it on Ms. Ryan. Because her imagery is phenomenal. Her writing is a horrific poetry that sucks you in, shows you this awful world, and makes it seem epically real. Every description breathes for me. The single line she has to explain the feel of a zombie's flesh. The constant drops of blood. The endless moans. Where her plot might occasionally lose me for its occasional predictability and/or implausibility--VERY occasional--her writing always spirals me right back.
The only thing that really, truly bothered me about this book was about three or four moments of clear didactic thought--where it really seemed like Ryan was speaking through Gabry to her readers and saying, "Realization about the Moral of the Story Here. Also: How the Symbolism of Zombies and Fences can Relate to Our Every-Day Lives". I thought that could have been handled better, less of a smack to the jugular, one might say, but those moments were few. (Unfortunately, not far between. They attacked me nearly all at once. Though that's partially because I read relatively quickly.)
But seriously: world-building, characterization, and most especially the fantastic, dark voice and descriptions has set this book on my shelf of favorites.
And maybe I'll pull The Forest of Hands and Teeth back out and see whether it's grown on me.
PS: I usually have a problem with first person narration. I especially have a problem with first person, present-tense narration. During this book I barely noticed the present tense. It was far more obvious in the companion novel. And I liked Gabry as a protagonist, specifically her vulnerability and the growth she so clearly experienced, so the first person didn't usually bother me. The only time it did was when we seemed to leave her voice for the didactic moments, as above.
PPS: in third person I might be more afraid that Gabry would die. As it was, in scenes where her life seemed in danger of imminent zombie-fication, I just thought to myself: Hey, this book is in first person. I've got about 15% of the book left. There will be no zombie-fication. Tally-ho!
Sort-of messes with the suspense for me.
But, again, not a big enough problem for me to give this book any less than five stars.(less)
I'm madly in love with Sherry Thomas' writing style and her plots, as well as the lovely way she evokes the era. I will not blather on too much about...moreI'm madly in love with Sherry Thomas' writing style and her plots, as well as the lovely way she evokes the era. I will not blather on too much about this, as I did just fine doing so in this review of Delicious here, but I think I'll reiterate: she's amazing.
And the sex is so good.
My favorite part of this book was the way Thomas upheaved the traditional male/female roles, making such a strong, confident character out of Gigi and such a surprisingly vulnerable hero out of Camden. It's not something we often see, the woman having nearly all, if not all, of the power in the relationship, but that Gigi did. Camden had to rise to the occasion, prove himself her equal, even though in the traditional way of looking at it, he would have been her social superior. That was quite different from anything else I'd read, and wonderful.
And the ending, where we finally get our happily-ever-after, gave me perhaps the biggest damn, stupid-ass grin on my face ever. It was excellently written. I could really see what was going on in my head perfectly. Just a completely sensual reading. And even though I could tell it was corny, it didn't feel that way. It was just perfect and full of sass.(less)
Sherry Thomas has an amazing way with words, especially surprising (and enviable) because she speaks English as a second language (her first being Chi...moreSherry Thomas has an amazing way with words, especially surprising (and enviable) because she speaks English as a second language (her first being Chinese). She also is fantastically knowledgeable about the historical era her books are set in (Victorian... I believe. But I'm probably wrong) and peppers such details without her stories that readers, or at least me, can't help but be fascinated.
And the sex is A-MAZ-ING.
I think part of what I like about the two books I've read of hers so far is that they're so, seemingly, fresh. Because they don't take place in the Regency era, I'm learning all sorts of new and interesting things about late 19th, early 20th century England that I'd never really thought about before. It also allows her heroines to be much stronger in character and motivation--they're no longer tied down by so much in the way of societal expectations as to what's "right" for a woman to involve herself in. Of course, that obstacle still exists, but it's refreshing to see female characters in historical romance that *work,* instead of just follow silly-old noblesse oblige.
But maybe that's the American in me talking.
Verity (Vera?) and Stuart are both fully realized, fleshed-out characters that act on perfectly understandable motivations and also make stupid, human decisions despite all logic to the contrary. (Just like us.) They're also firmly in control of their passions--most of the time--instead of falling into that "He couldn't help but make out with this woman that he hated" trap that many romance novelists (::cough::stephanielaurens::cough::) do. I will admit that I was occasionally taken out of the story because it just seemed a bit too flighty (the description of the food, in particular, while heady was unbelievable), but then I reminded myself that Thomas was writing it a bit in the fairytale tradition, and I got over the it.
In fact, my only real problem with the book was the neat little bow it made at the end concerning the main antagonist and Verity. It seemed a bit improbable to me, but then I suppose said antagonist did come from a different time period. And she was old. And this *is* romance, so a Happily-Ever-After is pretty much necessary.