Letters to a death-row prisoner from a young killer. Interest peeked. This book isn’t exactly what it says on the tin, but it is something you should...moreLetters to a death-row prisoner from a young killer. Interest peeked. This book isn’t exactly what it says on the tin, but it is something you should experience, if only for the sheer power of the style used to convey the story. There are a few issues, but somehow the letter/diary format glues everything together well, placing the reader in the position of the sympathetic ear, mostly constructed by the protagonist’s needs and expectations. The convict, whose story is dictated only in connection with Zoe’s, adds a degree of tragedy, which in turn illuminates the hopeful elements and themes.
Pitcher tackles a lot of subject matter, from family relationships to young sexuality, in what I would deem a relatively short read. In connection to the characters, especially with regards to the protagonist’s family and their dynamic these work well. Everyone has their own problems and crosses to bare, and yet Pitcher keeps them all and check and gives each adequate time and development. However, later in the story, and in the case of many other issues and themes, there just isn’t enough allotment given to create tension. It would have been nice to see some of the elements dropped entirely to allow some of the more powerful themes better focus. For the same reason, the resolutions to a lot of the problems introduced are too quick, and poorly thought out.
Thanks again to the style, the protagonist has a great authentic voice, which dips at the beginning with slight info dumping, but quickly develops into an easy and well-written form as the story progresses. The only annoying thing are the ticks Zoe has been given. Word repetition, word repetition, word repetition for example. These unnecessary traits also add to the age confusion. The voice of the reader sounds relatively young, but judging by her mature actions she must be at least mid-teens. The contradiction between the two does get off-putting in some areas.
Zoe is surrounded by well written characters; her family, who are beautifully realistic, her friends, who are fun to read, and her love interests, who introduce the first semi-realistic love triangle I’ve ever encountered in a novel. Hazaa! These are boys who actually act and react like teenage boys; one wants a lot of the indulgence of a physical relationship but is not an all-out jerk, the other is arrogant, but sweet, and neither simply falls for, or panders to the will of the female protagonist. It isn’t a perfectly written scenario; it’s predictable and cheesy sometimes, but it still manages to be engaging and self-aware. Kudos Mrs Pitcher.
The book was marketed to be more edgy than it actually is, but there is some great tension and really engaging character dynamics. It’s worth picking up for the unique style alone. (less)
Crewel has a promising start; the story punches straight to the heart of the matter, asks lots of questions, and poses a foundation for an interesting...moreCrewel has a promising start; the story punches straight to the heart of the matter, asks lots of questions, and poses a foundation for an interesting dystopian setting. I expected something a little different; the notion of fantasy elements inside a traditional YA dystopia is something I hadn’t come across before. The ratio of these ideas, again, begins well, driving a compelling parallel between what the weavers do and their milieu. Unfortunately, somewhere past the first quarter the action dies, the tension drops, and the reading gets dry.
Personally, I really hated the protagonist. Adelice is unrealistic. Albin puts a lot of effort into ensuring her lead is never truly at fault and constantly plugs the notion that Adelice is talented at what she does without ever really showing it. She’s a tad ‘Mary Sue’ for me. Men fall at her feet for no reason, women become jealous and spiteful towards her with little provocation, and she’s constantly told how beautiful and talented she is. None of the characters really did it for me; the male leads are dull stereotypes and often inconsistent, and otherwise, not enough time is spent developing either the antagonists or the sides. Again, it’s a shame, because there’s real potential to create complex characters given the female oppression. However, Albin’s characters often don’t sit well with their environment; for a girl who has grown up in a world where women can only hope for menial work and marriage, Adelice sure is shocked by female oppression. And considering they’ve been segregated from boys, the girls of this novel sure are confident when it comes to flirting and manipulation of the male gender. It could have been so strong, you can see the threads (unintentional pun) of potential inside what’s happening, but it’s never realised.
On the surface the notion of a fantasy component in a dystopian setting is intriguing, but the result is incomplete and clumsy. Neither the mystical tangents nor the oppressive setting get much explanation creating somewhat of a jumbled mess. There are some really creative ideas – the notion of weaving as a mode of transport for one – but these are over-shadowed by common-place dystopian aspects. There’s nothing reviving about the novel, nothing you can’t find in most other YA dystopia, and for a book whose popularity stemmed from its promise of weaving, there really isn’t much weaving going on. It’s such a shame Albin chose to focus on the elements she did; I would’ve loved to have seen more of the Spinsters world. There is (of course) a love triangle, and it’s as clichéd and unrealistic as any, bringing with it all the lame related dialogue and poor characterisation you’d expect, and culminating in a predicable ‘plot twist’ which is groan worthy at best. Later exposition is more complicated than it need be, and there are last minute subplots with little to no build-up and development.
In the context of the story, most of the dialogue is well written, and, like I said, there are some colourful ideas. The style isn’t bad, and the story flows well enough for what it is, but there’s not much emphasis on character or world building, and after the first few chapters everything falls flat. Maybe I expected too much. Don’t go into it expecting anything new and you should be fine; I know a lot of people have enjoyed it for its traditional YA dystopian-ness, so if that’s what you’re looking for, go ahead and give it a read.(less)
The premise seems interesting; not wholly unique, but a new trick on an old pony. There are some interesting ideas tucked away in here: Welsh kings, f...moreThe premise seems interesting; not wholly unique, but a new trick on an old pony. There are some interesting ideas tucked away in here: Welsh kings, fortune-telling, secret societies, but it doesn’t come nearly quick enough.
Unfortunately, this falls into my abandoned books section. The reason I don’t disregard it completely is because I genuinely did think the plot was intriguing. The prologue was especially likeable. The writing style however, for me, left a lot to be desired. Stiefvater’s paragraphs are heavy and often clumsy, and she utilises the omniscient narrator as an excuse to tell rather than show; her character descriptions are infodump, and she adds lines that are made to sound profound, but are actually just distracting and often nonsense. “He’d chosen his weapon well: only the truth, untempted by kindness” for example.
The characters didn’t interest me enough within the first few chapters to keep me going, and too many of them are clustered together during their introductions. Every other chapter the p.o.v switches, without establishing a real coherent tone between them.
I recognise I’m in a very small minority, but I couldn’t push past the style. Still, I think it’s a shame. (less)