I should have read this a LONG time ago. Whoa, what powerful punches Laini Taylor manages to deal to the readers -- over and over -- so many surprises...moreI should have read this a LONG time ago. Whoa, what powerful punches Laini Taylor manages to deal to the readers -- over and over -- so many surprises and things going just the opposite of what one expects. Lots of gore. Tortured romance. Amazing magical inventiveness. Just too much fun in one book. Should not be allowed! But, how happy I am to have read the second installment -- and that I HAVE to read the 3rd book because it's nominated by fellow BFYA members. (less)
The first six installments (chapters) of a supposed Space Opera definitely grabbed my attention and my heart. The world is ingeniously built, with int...moreThe first six installments (chapters) of a supposed Space Opera definitely grabbed my attention and my heart. The world is ingeniously built, with interesting and outlandish “races” — I adore the reddish ghost girl who has only top half her body…. not quite sure how I feel about the computer monitor headed royalties… I hope the story unfolds with a lot of creativity and depth. My strong and enamored reaction to this book came largely from Fiona Staples’ lush artwork. I don’t feel like calling her just “the illustrator” because I feel that she did more than mere illustrating what’s given to her — but expanded and enhanced this fictional world and its inhabitants with grace. I look forward to the next volume!
Ah.. this is really not meant for children — even though I know quite a few of my younger teens have read this (on their own, not by my recommendation.)(less)
I waited for a while to read this one. Was somewhat apprehensive. When one becomes friendly and very fond of an author, one sometimes also becomes wor...moreI waited for a while to read this one. Was somewhat apprehensive. When one becomes friendly and very fond of an author, one sometimes also becomes worried. What if… What if the book isn’t as good as you’d hoped? As good as you believe that particular author could have made it? What it…
So, I didn’t read the galley. I did attend an overwhelmingly successful event at Book Court in Brooklyn with Adam entertaining a host of young readers and their parents. And then, finally, after I started seeing my students toting around this third volume and hearing that they really really enjoyed it (one of them read it more than twice in the week of its publication) I braced myself and delved into it!
What a treat! I couldn’t put the book down. Adam not only featured some of MY favorite Grimm tales, he even used one of my favorite STORY TIME staple (Anansi and the Moss-Covered Rock!) And not only Adam continues with the intrusive and flippant (but often kind and comforting) storyteller/narrator, he brings this narrator INTO the story (or, rather, brings the protagonists OUT of the story and into current day Brooklyn.) I was worried when I knew that there is a metafiction element of the tale that it would have seemed trite or forced — but Adam did it in a natural and fluid way that really works. The story as a whole seems a bit darker than the first two, but it is to my liking. And as in so many stories for children (and adults) the power of storytelling is celebrated at the end!
Same as in the first two books, there are definitely some very sticky moral dilemmas that the two kids have to face and conquer. I am happy to report that the messages do not get in the way of the enjoyment of the tales. And I suspect that these important “lessons” are being absorbed and are strengthening child readers everywhere as I type!
Finally, the new “Kingdom of Children” that the narrator refers to in the end of this book is an apt metaphor for the realm of imagination, for stories and books, and especially for the Grimm trilogy, where children venture in to “run, to play… to tell their tales and face their fears and let whatever is inside out.”(less)
The story of two "nations" occupying the same land where one is now being demanded to remove itself mirrors eerily contemporary conditions in our curr...moreThe story of two "nations" occupying the same land where one is now being demanded to remove itself mirrors eerily contemporary conditions in our current world. I'm delighted that almost all the important characters make their appearances here and their personalities consistent with the show. The artwork is definitely true to the show as well. Of course, the fight scenes are slightly less epic or thrilling presented in still frames and not movements, but fans of the show can probably fill in the sounds and sequences. I know I read it with the actors' voices in my head! Now, onto book 2. (less)
Altogether, these two volumes are more than 1,500 pages long and the audio book versions took about 61 hours to finish. I mostly enjoyed the listening...moreAltogether, these two volumes are more than 1,500 pages long and the audio book versions took about 61 hours to finish. I mostly enjoyed the listening experience: the first volume is definitely tighter and since everything is new and the world is un-encountered before, I had a little more patience in all the details that Rothfuss put into the tale: colors of people’s clothing, the types of foods, some basic societal rules, etc. And there are definitely a lot of thrilling moments and some good passages.
The Wise Man’s Fear, though, suffered from being too detailed at moments, too many similes thrown into the passages (that really could and should have been edited OUT of the tale,) and just too long. I am really annoyed by authors who decided to use a particular narrative “device” and could not keep to the simplest or fundamental rules of that device. Here, each volume is supposed to be tales told to the scribe within the duration of ONE SINGLE DAY (where people do go to sleep, where the current day contains events such as robbery, lunch, fighting, etc.) So, almost 1000 pages of words (no matter how FAST one might be able to speak or write down the words) simply don’t compute.
One learns in writing classes that in order to create convincing and lifelike characters, one must know all the background stories (what colors they like, who was their first crush, when was their first experiences of fear and when and why and how, etc.) of the major characters. But so much of these details should remain in the mind of the author. Once in a while, perhaps, something can be drawn out and fill in a missing piece of a character’s traits. But, the Wise Man’s Fear is full of such details breaking through the backstage door and cavorting on the main stage. It just didn’t work for me.
I also got quite bothered by Rothfuss’ insistence of describing every single emotion or experience with a comparison to something else. It is OK, Patrick R, to sometimes just say that you feel soothed by someone’s voice without having to compare the soothing feeling to a mother’s gentle touch to a child’s cheeks and the voice is just like a lover’s breathy whisper by your ears. Some figure of speech enhances a narrative, but overindulgence in such narrative tool becomes tedious eventually.
All that said, did I love a LOT of what went into the books? Absolutely. I loved the world building, the mystery, the tentative romantic relationships, the exploration of language, means of communication, and how world history can be shaped and reshaped. And I will definitely read (or listen to) the final installment when it is published next year. Still a series worth recommending.(less)
I truly enjoyed Stroud’s narrative tone, characters and world building in this first volume of a new fantasy/horror series. In Lucy we find a fresh, s...moreI truly enjoyed Stroud’s narrative tone, characters and world building in this first volume of a new fantasy/horror series. In Lucy we find a fresh, sharp-minded, slightly paranoid and self-doubting, but in the end completely lovable main character/narrator. Lockwood and George are also interesting and multi-faceted characters who maintain the flavorful exchanges between these young people. The premise also provides a new world for the author and the readers to venture into and explore — The Problem, consisting of ghosts, hauntings, and the solutions of using special child agents trained to deal with them, with all the life-threatening dangers that could befall anyone at any moment. I'm in awe of Stroud's talent.
So why didn’t I absolutely love the book? Probably because I figured too many things out too early so the wait for the reveal seemed a bit long and drawn out? Or perhaps there were just a few repetitive descriptions/scenarios too many? (How many times do the readers need to be told how the first hints of haunting feel or look like?) Do I still want to see what unfolds in book 2? Yes. If the Bartimaeus trilogy is any indicator, the sequels will give us more layers and nuanced interactions. The story will only evolves into something grander and hopefully the ending will be as satisfying — and perhaps unexpected, too?(less)
I have had the best time reading this book: discovering a completely new and fresh world that is a twist of our real world with alternative histories...moreI have had the best time reading this book: discovering a completely new and fresh world that is a twist of our real world with alternative histories and a wonderfully naive yet sinister kind of magic: two dimensional chalk drawings turned to life battling creatures. Sanderson once again proves his skills in creating a compelling magical system completed with intricate and convincing rules that makes the reader wish to encounter such magic in the real world. The kind that will excite young readers to learn and master: drawing those Rithmatic defense circles and lines and dreaming up potential new designs and patterns. The kind that will inspire game makers to create a wonderful board or video game based on the world, characters, and strategies found within the story line. The kind that I am actually pleased to wait for the next installment in the series because I want to venture further with the characters to explore the unknown territories beyond the confine of the magical academy and the town. I hope the next book comes out soon! Can’t wait!
Oh, and the two teenaged protagonists are also authentic and their relationship often brings a smile to my face.
I also love the helpful and fun line drawings of the Rithmatic designs and chalklings, and the intriguing map of the United Isles with island names like Coronado, Zona Arida, Maineford, and DaKote. (less)
This is typical Gaiman: the nightmarish landscapes and events are always presented with a reassuring glow of beauty that makes the scene and the story...moreThis is typical Gaiman: the nightmarish landscapes and events are always presented with a reassuring glow of beauty that makes the scene and the story much less horrifying. Rather, it becomes purely entertaining. A bit of chill here and there and things mostly work out — except that there is always that trademark tinge of melancholy – like a lonely tinkling of a music box that plays a haunting and unfamiliar tune, slowly coming to a pause. The book reads like an expanded short story and I think it probably would have benefited from being a short story, rather than a novel (which even though meets the “novel” length requirement, reads more or less like a novella, with such a local setting and a tight plot time frame.)
Did I enjoy it? Definitely. Did it sweep me off of my feet? Not like some of his other work did in the past. However, since Gaiman proclaimed that this is as close to an “actual account” of his childhood as he could manage, the readers do get a glimpse of this creative writer’s mental landscape and the psyches that bring us illuminating stories.
I got a bit curious about the definition of novels, novella, etc. by length, and found this list on the Nebula award:
Short Story: less than 7,500 words; Novelette: at least 7,500 words but less than 17,500 words; Novella: at least 17,500 words but less than 40,000 words Novel: 40,000 words or more. At the author’s request, a novella-length work published individually, rather than as a part of a collection, anthology, or other collective work, shall appear in the novel category. Source: http://www.sfwa.org/nebula-awards/neb...
On the same site, I also found an article about the definition of “a word”:
“So, years ago, publishers set up a standard definition: a word is six characters (including spaces).” — more detailed explanation and rationale for this can be found here:
I’ve been catching up with titles and series that I know my middle school readers have enjoyed one at a time. That’s the main reason that I picked thi...moreI’ve been catching up with titles and series that I know my middle school readers have enjoyed one at a time. That’s the main reason that I picked this title up. For the most part, I enjoyed it. I can see recommending this one to Percy Jackson lovers because it has some similar situations: a presumed “normal teenager” discovering his talents as both a wizard and a warrior; the training that one receives to better the skill set; the help from mentors; the resolving of conflicts via unconventional means; and a bit of romance. I only wish that the prose has been a little less bland — either darker, more atmospheric, more descriptive, more dangerous, or more humorous — instead of just “talk talk talk talk talk.” That’s how I felt as I read — being “talked to” not “story told to.” And of course, I wish that I were a faster reader so I didn’t have to spend as much time on the pedestrian prose to get to the story line (which is fairly solid and quite inventive….)
I do appreciate that the main characters are from American midwest, and some Americana flavor was introduced — although the Wizarding world is still modeling after medieval European traditions.
Will I read the rest of the series? According to my (now high school) students, this is the best of the entire series… so I don’t think I will be able to spare time when I really need to catch up with some other titles.(less)
This is a short stories collection from 1998. As I love Fragile Things and especially love how Gaiman reads his own tales — he is quite a voice actor,...moreThis is a short stories collection from 1998. As I love Fragile Things and especially love how Gaiman reads his own tales — he is quite a voice actor, changing his tones, inflections, accents — all dexterously and effortlessly and all quite fitting the characters, the advantage of having the author (who is a good storyteller) reading the stories.
I did not love all the tales — not even most of them. Of the 31 tales and verses, I think I only really enjoyed about a dozen or so. Something felt lacking — quite a few seem to be character sketches or exercises in painting imageries and building atmosphere, for something bigger and more complete — but not deep or polished themselves. I often enjoy Gaiman’s somewhat dark or even brutal (and honest, perhaps?) depictions of sexual acts in his writing for adults. But, I found myself slightly appalled by certain gratuitous passages, shaking my head, gently whispering in my mind, “Neil, you did not have to resort to this — the story itself is strong and intriguing enough…” – but, of course, many of these stories were meant to be slightly pornographic (light erotica) — I just didn’t quite prepare myself for so many of them being this way. Now I’ve listened to it once, I’ll be able to go back and pick out the tales that I want to listen to over and over again (like quite a few of those in Fragile Things) and also figure out why some of the stories did not work for me the first time. (They might grow on me upon repeat listening.)(less)