**spoiler alert** I...kinda wish I liked this book more? I mean, it seems to have all the things I like. Steampunk! Feminist! Cross-dressing Lesbians!...more**spoiler alert** I...kinda wish I liked this book more? I mean, it seems to have all the things I like. Steampunk! Feminist! Cross-dressing Lesbians! with! Vampires! and! Werewolves! Why isn't this more awesome?
But between the incredibly awkward, poorly-constructed prose, the repetitive dialogue, the predictable and barely interesting plot, the Alexia-is-supposedly-so-smart-but-can't-remember-vital-clues-because-the-plot-is-DRAMATIC!-THINGS!-MUST!-HAPPEN!, the fights between our romantic leads that are poorly cribbed from every Hepburn/Tracy film, and the fact that Alexia has this stupid friend that she constantly belittles and doesn't like (but who is supposedly her bestest bestie and OMG I am tiiiired of authors writing dumb women who are dumb for stereotypical reasons because it starts to look like you need your feminist card revoked at that point), and the ending, the omgwtfbbq ending that comes out of nowhere and is completely out of character WHAT?! Um. And is all: READ MY SEEEEEEEEEEQUEL!! READ IT!
Between all of those things I have lost track of my sentence. Gah.
I don't read a ton of romance-themed series, but structurally this felt a lot like an episode of popcorn tv: characters do things because plot (complete with plot-related selective memory), not because the plot arises naturally out of their actions, and the ending must be big and as dramatic as possible to get you to tune in next week. I will sometimes give tv a pass (I'm looking at you, Buffy) for this, because it's a short medium that has to accomplish a lot in 45 minutes or so. I'm less inclined to give books a pass, especially books as long as Changeless. It was just so clumsy! *sigh*
Also, maybe it's just a sign that I'm in the mindset of Steampunk after Amal El-Mohtar's essay on steampunk, but the unexamined imperialism in this book bugged me. Steampunk has a tendency to glorify Victorian England and, as such, its tendency to treat non-white peoples and cultures as prizes to be captured and manipulated. The discussions around Egypt and India made me wince.
On a final note, I also think this series fails at the GBLT, so far. I get that your gay characters are super competent! They are also big, fat stereotypes! The mincing gay fashionista with his cringe-worthy italics, the Marelene Dietrich lesbian with her top-hat and sultry smile--I complained about this in the first book, and I'm still complaining. These are gay stereotypes for the straight set: exotic, titillating, they can make you feel progressive because you're friends with them your heroine is friends with them but still allow you to smile at them, just a little, behind your hand because haha! gays are so funny with their ways! We love them, but they still aren't like us.
Also: do not tease me with your clumsy Ho Yay. Do not get my hopes up. It is so rare to see a well-written lesbian character that even a poorly-written one with ham-fisted budding bisexual awakenings from the POV character slathered over every interaction will actually get my hopes up. (Seriously? She had to strip her naked for the plot?! Ludicrous.) Don't. Do. That. It sucks. Depictions of actual, healthy lesbian relationships are rare enough that teasing some slash into a straight, married character's life is almost insulting.
All those complaints aside, if you are looking for something fluffy and fairly brainless, with plenty of lesbian teasing and even more straight sex, to pass the hours: here's your book! Not everything has to be cerebral and intellectually challenging. Even if it's not exactly my cuppa, I can see why people enjoy these.(less)
I was really disappointed by this; I was expecting an adaptation of Jane Eyre, not a simple transposition of the plot from England to space. Well, it...moreI was really disappointed by this; I was expecting an adaptation of Jane Eyre, not a simple transposition of the plot from England to space. Well, it is what it says on the tin: Jane Eyre in space, scene by scene a nearly exact copy of the original. (less)
Can you mark a book as read if the author hasn't finished it? Oh, the perils of fan-fiction. I've found this book simultaneously hilarious and confusi...moreCan you mark a book as read if the author hasn't finished it? Oh, the perils of fan-fiction. I've found this book simultaneously hilarious and confusing as heck. The characters aren't terribly consistent with the original books, but that's not always a big deal if it brings the funny. If you're willing to suspend your disbelief when Harry starts talking like a smug 24-year-old grad student instead of a precocious 11-year-old, you'll be able to enjoy the incredible intelligent scrutiny and humor that Yudkowsky brings to bear on Rowling's universe. That said, the book has, it seems to me, slipped entirely out of Yudkowsky's control--there's just way too much going on as the chapters creep towards 90+--and he seems far more interested in each little joke and side-plot than moving the story on. I'm not saying he won't pull off the dismount in the end, and I'm curious to see where we're going to end up, but let's just say that at this point I'm pretty skeptical. (less)
This book was straight-up terrible. If I hadn't read it in audiobook I probably would have dropped it (although many a time did I wish that it had it...moreThis book was straight-up terrible. If I hadn't read it in audiobook I probably would have dropped it (although many a time did I wish that it had it in dead tree form so I could skim the endless, boringly repetitive discussions of time-travel paradox.) The characters have the same conversations over and over again; when they're separated, they have to go through the same process of figuring out the same problems, and then talk about them again. Each time someone joins the party they have to explain it to the newbie. Meanwhile, the reader (me) is just going, I know, I know, can we just say "And then we explained everything to the guardsman and got back to the plot?!" I get that time travel paradoxes can be hard to explain, and you don't want your audience criticizing later inconsistencies--but the solution is not to explain and re-expain ad nauseam.
Combine that with thin characterization and children acting like no child has ever behaved (doing stupid things while convinced of their own genius) with banter that only occasionally manages to add a gloss of interest or comraderie to the conversation, and you have this clunky, stupid and incomprehensible book that in spite of its interminable explanations still fails to make sense--or worse, entertain.(less)
Wow, this book is terribly written. The author has some interesting ideas, but the writing keeps getting in the way. I couldn't finish this book, it w...moreWow, this book is terribly written. The author has some interesting ideas, but the writing keeps getting in the way. I couldn't finish this book, it was so bad.(less)
This collection did not grab me. It should demonstrate how remarkable it is, in that having just finished it I only really remember a couple of storie...moreThis collection did not grab me. It should demonstrate how remarkable it is, in that having just finished it I only really remember a couple of stories, and those because I dislike them intensely. "Ashputtle" is yet another story of how fat people are delusional, broken and therefore evil (the story makes a couple of good points about how people assume you're stupid if you're fat, and then descends into stereotypical territory); and "The Black Swan," which starts out trying to make a point about the horrors of the beauty standard and then chickens out of its own conclusion. Color me unimpressed.(less)
You know, I was anticipating something magical with this book--I really liked the movie--but I was really disappointed. The narrator's tone was condes...moreYou know, I was anticipating something magical with this book--I really liked the movie--but I was really disappointed. The narrator's tone was condescending and a great deal of the action seemed to by trying to land on whimsical and overshooting into just plain ridiculous. Throughout the book, I had this feeling that the author was self-consciously writing a "magical, award-winning book," and that really turned me off. It's funny, because Despereaux has everything I love about a children's book (including a passable imitation of Reepicheep), but it just fell flat. I know I'm not the target audience, but I could feel my inner ten-year-old closing the book with a sigh of dismissal. "Mom, this book is silly. Can I have another Redwall book instead?"(less)
**spoiler alert** This book was strange. I enjoyed reading it--it was a lot of fun, but the structure and pacing had some problems. Still, Tidhar has...more**spoiler alert** This book was strange. I enjoyed reading it--it was a lot of fun, but the structure and pacing had some problems. Still, Tidhar has mastered that trick that often makes steampunk so enjoyable: the art of period name-dropping and the subtle (or not-so-subtle) reference. Fictional and historical characters mingle in the queer alternative Britain Tichar has created--Jules Verne takes the hero onboard the Nautilus, and he's alternately helped and hindered by Police Chief Irene Adler and Mycroft Holmes.
Oddly enough, the parts of the book I expected to find most laughable (i.e., the alien sentient lizard beings who've conquered humanity) usually worked with a minimum degree of pulp-like incredulity; but I felt like Tidhar was just trying to do too much. A lot goes on in this book, almost too much for the reader to follow, and I sometimes struggled to understand the images, technology, and cultures the story encompassed. There's a plot and a universe here with the scope of Herbert's or Tolkien's worlds, and the novel does not take time for you to fully explore them. It drags you along, like the protagonist, and if you don't keep up it doesn't care. (less)
The more Fables I read, the more annoyed I get with the misogyny. I'm sorry, if someone accepted my proposal with "You defeated me. You win," I'd have...moreThe more Fables I read, the more annoyed I get with the misogyny. I'm sorry, if someone accepted my proposal with "You defeated me. You win," I'd have to say, "No thanks, babe, obviously you are not as enthusiastic as I am." Bonus for using the patriarchal traditional wedding vows with Snow, a woman who's already supposedly learned what a s****y deal traditional marriage can be from one a**hole husband--can you really see her vowing to "obey" another? And the "Israel Analogy" or whatever the hell it was--UGH, Bill Willingham, UGH. This book pissed me off. I am officially done with Fables.(less)
Standard boy who doesn't want to be a hero? Check. Standard girl who isn't smart enough/is too strong-willing to avoid the ancient enemy/evil artifact?...moreStandard boy who doesn't want to be a hero? Check. Standard girl who isn't smart enough/is too strong-willing to avoid the ancient enemy/evil artifact? Double-check. Standard quirky fantasty side-kick? Check. Standard helpful kickass hero (with a side of love-lorn maundering)? Double-check. Standard quizzical oddball wise mentor? Double-check. Standard deus ex machina happy ending? Check.
What is it with Nix and having great concepts, but not being able to make plots and books that live up to them? This felt so--haphazard and mechanical. I never connected with any of the characters, and the plot was really, really, REALLY predictable standard fantasy quest stuff. The Ragwitch was a neat idea. So were the Angarling. And the magic of the world had some potential. But I didn't feel the love. I didn't get drawn in. And I certainly didn't care about any of the characters. Ugh.(less)
Oh, this book made me laugh. Sometimes, I was laughing at it, but mostly, I laughed with it. It's quite funny and, at times, charming. The writing cou...moreOh, this book made me laugh. Sometimes, I was laughing at it, but mostly, I laughed with it. It's quite funny and, at times, charming. The writing could use some work; it's clunky and repetitive (tell me again how Italian and brown and big nosed our heroine is! because I surely didn't notice the last 50 times!). Occaisionally it suffers from the kind of weird geek accent/word definition slip that seems more and more common these days, although that doesn't stop it from being intensely annoying. ("Decimate" means to reduce by ten percent, not utterly destroy; and "reticent" is not a synonym for "reluctant." It means speaking little, not unwilling. PLEASE CONSULT A DICTIONARY, WRITERS AND EDITORS!) Also, I find it hard to believe that an alternate history world would have a word for dirigibles, but not telescopes ("long-distance viewing device" my not-so-dainty foot!), especially when telescopes predate dirigibles, presumably even in this alternate history, by at least 150 years.
But these are nit-picky criticisms, and hardly interfere with the general enjoyability of this little popcorn novel, not to mention the sexy, sexy makeouts contained therein. If you like beefcake, you will probably enjoy the interactions between our heroine and the lupine Lord Maccon. I don't like beefcake, and I still enjoyed it. On the whole, if you're looking for some light, steampunk-infused supernatural romance with an actual plot (gasp!), this is the book for you.
Ok, I said I was done nit-picking, but I'm not. Lord Akeldama and his dronie-poos are a total, disgusting, stereotypical mess. I know no one in real life who wants to be the GBF--god, that stereotype is TIRED--and I can imagine no vampire who would want to mince through the centuries as one. It's not transgressive if it serves the dominant oppressive paradigm.(less)