Didn't capture my attention in the same way the last spin off story I read (The New World) did but I did like it. I liked the characters and am int...more3.5
Didn't capture my attention in the same way the last spin off story I read (The New World) did but I did like it. I liked the characters and am interested in learning more about the world. I liked that Roar kept reiterating that Liv could make her own decisions about her future and that she wasn't his to demand even if he wanted her to be his. I liked that the characters talked about sex instead of acting like teenagers never talk about it much less have it. The plot was a little cliche in parts but I think there were enough positives to make up for it.(less)
It's nice to know that Patrick Ness can make me weepy-faced from just reading a novella that is a prequel to a book series I haven't even read yet. Af...moreIt's nice to know that Patrick Ness can make me weepy-faced from just reading a novella that is a prequel to a book series I haven't even read yet. After reading A Monster Calls I'm not exactly surprised though.
I'm already in the middle of three books and now I feel like I have to start this series immediately because I need to know what happens to Viola. I knew I was in trouble the moment I started needing to know more of a character's story.
3.5! I had a much better time with this than that time I tried to read that other extremely popular UF series that shall not be named. No rage face he...more3.5! I had a much better time with this than that time I tried to read that other extremely popular UF series that shall not be named. No rage face here this time.(less)
I just have no desire to finish this whatsoever. I'm going to skim the ending (I made it to 66% so I'm counting this one as read) and return it to the...moreI just have no desire to finish this whatsoever. I'm going to skim the ending (I made it to 66% so I'm counting this one as read) and return it to the library. There's nothing bad or offensive about this. To me it was just completely bland. I didn't think the writing was strong enough for the type of emotional punch it needed to pack even though I was the perfect audience for our heroine's particular brand of emotional damage. A lot of her actions rang false to me and her surrounding characters blended together and never came to life.
This is a popular one on my friend's list so I'd say there's no harm in giving this a try if you were interested.(less)
Enjoyment wise probably closer to a three (for most of the book) but I'm rounding up because Pierce was ahead of her time and a gen-u-ine badass for w...moreEnjoyment wise probably closer to a three (for most of the book) but I'm rounding up because Pierce was ahead of her time and a gen-u-ine badass for what she chooses to do with her characters. (less)
The last few chapters were great and did make me appreciate the entirety of the book a little more, but I don't like to give ratings out based on the...moreThe last few chapters were great and did make me appreciate the entirety of the book a little more, but I don't like to give ratings out based on the great and fast-paced endings only. I thought compared to her first three books this one was missing something. I'll have to think a bit more on it and write a proper review.(less)
Edit: 11/2/12 So after reading this snippet from the sequel I will definitely not (though I doubt I would have anyway) be raising this rating to two...moreEdit: 11/2/12 So after reading this snippet from the sequel I will definitely not (though I doubt I would have anyway) be raising this rating to two stars. You know what I imagine closes out that scene? These are the days of our lives... Is this a soap opera or a book, guys? Guess the relationship melodrama keeps on keeping on in book two.
Unspoken really isn't as bad as some of the other one star YA books I've read this year - The Body Finder and Shadow and Bone spring to mind. There really are some redeeming moments in it, and if it hadn't been for that last chapter, I might have rated it just a little higher. Perhaps those moments of redemption are what made this book's betrayal even worse. This was a story we've heard many times before - trying to pretend it was the opposite of that thing - instead of just being honest about what it was.
Kami Glass (Malese Jow in my mind) is quick to let us know that she's not like those girls. She starts the book by disliking another girl for no apparent reason other than her popularity (Holly will be played by Candice Accola) and is called out on her internalized misogyny by the love interest in the book. That, along with the cheeky humor, had me thinking from the very first chapter: I am going to love this book. I know what you're thinking. Where could it have gone wrong when you've got Malese Jow and Candice Accola involved?
I like SRB, and based on reading her blog alone, I know she didn't mean to promote a bad boy type as an acceptable love interest. It's clear that she's trying to do the opposite of that here, by having Kami question and dislike their connection half the time, but here's my issue:
Why include that type of love interest at all? Why include a love triangle? Why spend so much time on romantic melodrama that you don't allow your interesting side characters to develop beyond being perky and loving napping?
This whole story feels like something I've read before. Despite SRB poking fun at these other stories in her writing she chooses to use this Twilight-esque set up that sells anyway. It almost seems worse somehow. At least these other books aren't trying to pretend that they're something superior to what they really are. Ash, the third useless point of the Kami centered love triangle, could have been copied and pasted from any YA book that follows this same formula. Possessive Jared could too.
You can't talk about this book without mentioning the humor. Bad puns and witty zingers abound. At first, it reminded me of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Veronica Mars, and I thought FINALLY a book that isn't taking itself too seriously and is making an effort to be witty. Yet somehow this book managed to take itself too seriously and tell too many jokes. The situations the characters found themselves in were overly dramatic and ridiculous, but they'd always manage to tell a joke anyway. All of the characters began to feel like walking... well... bloggers. I love bloggers, I am a blogger, but no one talks like this in real life all of the time. The dialogue was awkward and jarring. Instead of developing the characters beyond beating us over the head with specific traits (Kami loves investigating and she's not like those other mushy YA girls! Holly is SO nice and perky! Angela LOVES napping and HATES people! Ash likes Kami and is surly! Jared like Kami and is surly AND destructive!) jokes would just be told instead.
The last several chapters (aside from the last one) are the ones I liked at least a little. They are when the only real character development happens and things start falling into place. Kami seems to stick to her guns a lot more; I thought her feelings toward her connection with Jared were well-written toward the end. Jared never gets any more interesting or likeable but I learn to accept it. Ash is doing things besides staring longingly at Kami and randomly making out with her in hallways. Holly and Angela get a thing that isn't just a rehashing of their assigned personality traits. The plot is finally doing something relevant. I thought we were well on our way to two-star-ville.
Then we got to the last chapter. I knew to expect a cliffhanger-trilogy-ending (why are we still doing this?) but I didn't know that it was going to involve the relationship too. I mean, seriously? What was that? I said in the comments that it was like SRB added it just to yell "RELATIONSHIPS DRAMAZ!!! MUAHAHA!" and run out of the room to go hang out with Stephenie Meyer, and I stand by this assessment. I might readjust my rating (might) when I am feeling less... surly... and not... snarling. Seriously, what was that about Angela and Jared snarling at the end? Did we need to focus on their joint snarling? Was that supposed to be a heart-warming bonding moment? I can't.
I would say my favorite thing about this novel is Holly, with Angela as my second choice. Unfortunately, Angela got to be a badass at the end but instead of just letting Angela shine subtly SRB also beat us over the head with a chain and made that into an over-used joke too. While Holly didn't quite get the development that I wanted (because clearly more time needed to be spent on more love triangle and relationship drama) I did think she may be one of the few original parts of this book. It's nice to see the perky blonde girl given a chance to be the friend and not the guy-stealing-skank. There's a reason I cast her as Candice Accola in my mind - but I think TVD does it better. TVD isn't the most original idea on the block, and it's guilty of a lot of the things that this book is, but to make up for it it takes care with its characters (except Bonnie) and never pretends it's something that it's not. Unlike the YA book world TVD also isn't surrounded by hundreds of shows just like it.
Regardless, I liked that SRB explored that hating Holly because she was popular with guys wasn't acceptable, and that it wasn't her fault, and that it wasn't necessarily what she wanted. I liked her relationship with Angela, even though I feel like that was another safe swing and a miss on SRB's part. It felt like another example of this novel stepping up to the plate to be something different and then not making an effort once it got there to actually let it be something different.
I can see why so many of my friends wrote gushingreviews of this book and I'm sure others will continue to enjoy it, but personally, it just rubbed me the wrong way. I won't stop reading SRB's stuff in the future because I feel like she has the potential to write great things. She seems aware of a lot of the things being done poorly in YA today: girl on girl hate, lack of homosexual relationships and POC, girls instantly falling in love with the bad boy without questioning their feelings, etc. I want to give her points for effort for almost stepping away from the pack but she didn't, not really, and I didn't care about the characters or plot enough to overlook this fact. This had all of the potential to be great and as I said before that's probably why it was so disappointing.
Yes, this review was mostly an excuse to look at pictures of Malese Jow and Candica Accola. Thank you. (less)
In my heart of hearts (somewhere in that deep dark black soul I seem to have sometimes when reviewing books I've vehemently disliked) I don't know...more4.5
In my heart of hearts (somewhere in that deep dark black soul I seem to have sometimes when reviewing books I've vehemently disliked) I don't know if this is a full five stars for me, and yet, it feels inaccurate to even think of giving it a four. I've got a rule with books to follow my heart and not my head. If a book demands my attention and the characters worm their way into my good graces and I'm worried for them, or I cry for them, then yeah, that book is getting those five shiny stars. But let's not get distracted by the shiny things like wayward Dory fish. This novel isn't without its flaws.
"What are these men doing in an army?"
Let me first gush over Ness' theme here: War. All of the ways in which he explores it. The Spackle scene most notably, a scene that made me feel physically ill and watered my eyes, the same way I'd feel after hearing stories of a similar nature on the non-fiction news. Because it's so true. It's so applicable to everything. Do you know how many Americans I've heard throw out slurs against people from the Middle East without batting an eyelash? Unnecessary wars and the terrorist acts of a few made it this way. It put weapons in the hands of boys and girls who, like Todd, had to accept the consequences of wielding them. It put hateful words in the mouths of people who wouldn't have ever called themselves racists. This book explores the lies we're told and how hard some people cling to them. How hard otherwise good people can cling to their hate when they've known nothing else.When their leaders and parents have told them this is how they should feel; and their loved ones have been sent to die at the hands of people who weren't the enemy. When people have written songs of putting boots in asses and how, don't you know, that's the American way? Making monsters of men.
"Somehow preaching became a movement and a movement became a war."
Let's talk about a brighter point. Manchee the talking dog. Manchee Manchee Manchee. I love him. Oh wait, that's not a brighter point. I hate this book. Why am I reviewing it? I better move past this point before I take away stars. Emotional manipulation is no one's friend, Ness. Cheap shot.
Viola Viola Viola. If you care for her at all, you'll read her short story: The New World. Lady badass with snarky intelligence and a good heart who not only rescues but is rescued. I like her friendship with Todd too. Particularly when he tells the sexist camp that she's not his but her own and when he realizes he can read her too. Orphans who make their own family. My poor heart.
My main issue with this novel is the ending. There isn't one. This book was basically one long chase scene with bad guys everywhere and for all Ness' preaching about Hope there wasn't an ounce of it in his novel. There wasn't, I swear, I looked.
I also want to mention that it took me some time to get into this book and I ended up putting it aside. It wasn't until I read the prequel that my interest was piqued and I had to know what happened. If you've put this book aside before I recommend reading that so you know more about Viola and it might give you the push you need to continue too.
"War is a monster. War is the devil. It starts and it consumes and it grows and grows. And otherwise normal men become monsters too."(less)
While I am still working on the fourth book in this series I can safely say, without a doubt, that this is my favorite book of the four thus far. It'...more While I am still working on the fourth book in this series I can safely say, without a doubt, that this is my favorite book of the four thus far. It's hard to say what calls to me here. It could be the way I relate to Cassie and all of her darkest wants and needs. It could be the creaky old house that is reminiscent of so many great gothic settings that have come before. It could be the overarching theme that all anyone truly wants is to belong and to spend every waking moment feeling wine in their bones, bare arms swirling in the cool moonlight, the safety of a homemade family, and a kiss on their lips after midnight... preferably by someone who is not the stoic homicidal maniac that they appear to be. This book is intoxicating with its freedoms and dreams.
Before the story gets interesting, things start off by focusing a bit on Cassie and Sam to allow us to see how their relationship has grown since the events of In the Woods. Sure, Sam is about as interesting as a golden retriever* (so far anyway, where's his book that details all of his mental shortcomings, French?) but I am not in the camp that believes Rob and Cassie should have ended up together at the end of In the Woods. Sure, Rob's phone call to Cassie was heartbreaking, but I hoped that she really did leave the phone on for vengeance because I am kind of a vindictive bitch when scorned, and it pleases me to see my fictional counterparts doing the same and standing up for themselves. Maybe Rob and Cassie are meant to be (whatever that means), but perhaps not now, and I think that's ok. Rob treated Cassie poorly and abused the connection that they had. He has no one to blame but himself and it's certainly not Sam's fault for falling in love with her and treating her better. I read in an interview of French's that she has considered going back to Rob and Cassie's story some day, and that suits me just fine. I think it makes sense that Rob might get a better grip on his demons, Cassie might get a better grip on hers, and those crazy kids might just work it out yet. Patience, doves.
"And God the taste of undercover on my tongue again, the brush of it down the little hairs on my arms. I'd thought I remembered what it was like, every detail, but I'd been wrong: memories are nothing, soft as gauze against the ruthless razor-fineness of that edge, beautiful and lethal, one tiny slip and it'll slice to the bone."
Have you ever wanted to step into the shoes of someone else's life and just stop being you for awhile? Then the basic set up here will appeal to you. The set up will also appeal to you if you've ever dreamed of giving up your routine job and living in a house with peace-loving-manic-pixie-hippies. Is that a dream that anyone has? I bet it is, and you just don't know it, because I have to say I was jealous of the life that Cassie got to live undercover. As jealous as she was of Lexie. I also don't care if the plot that led her there is entirely implausible and something that would never happen because this isn't The Twilight Zone. This is fiction. I also don't believe a wizard named Dumbledore with a long beard is going to be knocking down my door to invite me to a secret wizarding school in England** but that's never stopped me from falling in love.
"In all my life I had seldom wanted anything as wildly as I wanted to be in there, get this gun and this phone off me, drink and dance until a fuse blew in my brain and there was nothing left in the world except the music and the blaze of lights and the four of them surrounding me, laughing, dazzling, untouchable."
You see that sentence there? I've never felt more put on paper. I know that feeling, and this is why Tana French's writing is so good. It feels like you're reading about yourself. I mean, granted, that's probably only if you're like me and partially mentally unstable, but be honest, you are, aren't you? I also know the feeling of a friendship so close and co-dependent that at its best it's the most wonderful feeling in the world because it feels like home, and at its worst it's murderous and leaking poison until it blurs your entire world. The writing and the characters are painfully raw and honest, and French is very good at making us all question our basic morals and beliefs. I would go so far as to say that this book was the most beautifully written of her Dublin Murder Squad collection. The mystery was subtle and the only one of the first three books where I can honestly say I didn't know how it would end. I would say that even if you didn't like or love In the Woods you should give this book a shot before writing off French completely. She may just surprise you yet.
*But Golden retrievers are fucking awesome, ok, those muther fuckers are so devoted to fetch they deserve a medal. ** Yes, I actually do believe that, and your attempts to disillusion me will be met with disgust and derision. (less)
"The Lord will brook no weakness in his chosen," the boy shouted, and something broke inside Evie. She glared at the smug, triumphant boy who would bu...more"The Lord will brook no weakness in his chosen," the boy shouted, and something broke inside Evie. She glared at the smug, triumphant boy who would burn the whole world in order to be right. She spat in his eye.