And the conclusion was less than stunning. I'm majorly disappointed, to be honest. What an unspectacular way to conclude a series that started with on...moreAnd the conclusion was less than stunning. I'm majorly disappointed, to be honest. What an unspectacular way to conclude a series that started with one of my favorite books of all time. (less)
Something from Meyer gets more than two stars from me? Amazing, no?
Rosalie, right after Leah Clearwater, is probably my favorite character in the Twil...moreSomething from Meyer gets more than two stars from me? Amazing, no?
Rosalie, right after Leah Clearwater, is probably my favorite character in the Twilight series. I don't get why this was a joke to Meyer. She could be quite a good writer if she didn't focus on wish fulfillment and boring abusive relationships.
Rosalie, in just four pages, has actual depth -- flaws and positive traits -- something Bella lacked. If I could trust Meyer to leave out imprinting and basically anything related to Bella, I'd read a sequel from her POV. (less)
I haven't read a high fantasy novel in years. In fact, I think the last one I read (and finished) was Eragon. I simply don't have th...more**spoiler alert**
I haven't read a high fantasy novel in years. In fact, I think the last one I read (and finished) was Eragon. I simply don't have the patience for 1000 page tomes of names, world building, and (typically) racism and sexism in vast amounts. Call me a traitor to the genre, but I started A Song of Fire and Ice, expecting to love it, and put it down within the first two or three chapters out of sheer boredom. In fact, I did the same the first time I attempted to read Finnikin.
Now, I'm not what you'd call a fan of Marchetta. I've skimmed The Piper's Son and the only parts I cared for involved Tara Finke. I read Looking for Alibrandi, and while I liked it, it was a bit too much Judy Blume on soap opera crack for me. I attempted to read Saving Francesca and it bored me to death. I read On the Jellicoe Road and I didn't like it, with the exception of the scenes with Sam. Marchetta's writing style puts me to sleep.
She relies too heavily on secrets to force the plot ahead, on over-excessive family drama. Perhaps this is why I prefer minimalist writers like Courtney Summers and Sara Zarr. They tell complete stories in almost half the length it takes Marchetta to write part of one.
So, you must be wondering, why did I like Finnikin?
To that, I have a simple answer -- for the same reason I loved, and hated, Norwegian Wood. You, readers of this review, have have no idea how much I abhor Finnikin of the Rock. Yet, strangely, a part of me is inspired by it. I'd like nothing better than to rate it two stars and move on, but it's on my brain, making me think, making me want to write high fantasy (egads, fuck no, I don't have time for that).
It's not like there's anything really original about this novel. It's the standard hero's journey complete with prophecies, imposter kings, Orks (or Dwarves/Orks/Savages), cluttered world building, languages galore, a secret princess, and fantasy logic. I've read Tolkien, and Pullman, and Funke, and Gaiman, and Rowling. There's nothing particularly new here that I haven't seen before. But somehow, Marchetta made me care.
What I Liked
Evanjalin had kind of a Joan of Arc vibe about her. I was worried that she'd become an unbearable Mary Sue, but I was pleasantly surprised. I understood why she lied (or ommitted *snort*) and why she sent Finnikin to the mines. What I didn't quite understand was why she fell for Finnikin.
His backstory was interesting.
3. The Prophecy
I admit, I had this figured out, but I thought it was kind of funny. Am I the only one who got that it meant Finnikin would take her virginity for him to be king?
4. The Religion and the Novices
I have no interest in the warrior culture that we were exposed to. I'd rather see the more intellectual side of things explored.
5. The Romance
It was kind of intriguing the way Finnikin came to love her. And they did have chemistry.
What I Didn't Like
How the fuck did Finnikin not know who she was? Granted, I wouldn't be able to remember the kids I went to kindergarten with, but it was blatantly obvious that she was the princess, what with all the talk about being promised to the King and her telling Finnikin to forget about the guard. I mean, Finnikin wasn't exactly the brightest star in the Lumateran sky (I mean, this dumbass sleeps with whores during a time of plague and famine for his people. Yeah, nice way to get a disease, or so Tholomyès would tell us -- I'm partially kidding, so don't jump me for this), but I figured out her true identify faster than a guy who grew up with her and her family.
And while I understand why it was necessary for her to lie, I think this novel would've been better if she'd simply been a Mont peasant. All the bullshit surrounding "God" descended royalty annoys the fuck out of me. And while I'm an atheist, that has nothing to do with it. If royals are descended from God, a la Jesus, commoners were created by God. Same difference, really. You want to tell me that a being who was implanted into the womb of a woman is superior to that which was created by God's hands?
Anyway, I will stop and say that I'm pissed that Isaboe is only special because she's a Queen. Sure, sure, Marchetta added the bit in about Trevanion respecting her because of her achievements, but according to the book, they were only made possible because of her bloodline. I'm also going to assume that Froi is the son of Perri, or someone important, for him to have his own novel.
Now, if I'm to accept that Evanjalin, or Isaboe, or whatever the hell she wants to call herself, is a Queen, then I'd like to know why she has to marry to be in power. Queen Elizabeth didn't take a husband. Queen Elizabeth II hasn't remarried. And this isn't the real world. It's a fantasy novel. I'm sick of authors who feel the need to stick to the rules of European high fantasy that women must always be second class citizens. Even the Queen. It would've been a nice change if Marchetta had been more adventurous, instead of following the trope and giving us small bits of independent women in a world that ultimately views them as sex, breed mares, and house cleaners.
There was little tension between the darker and lighter races. Marchetta mentioned a gay couple that was, apparently, accepted as normal. So why do women get the short end of the stick?
2. The Magic
It made no sense. Don't even try to explain it to me. I don't care.
3. Froi the Rapist
The fuck kind of explanation was that? Rapist turned devout follower? Not all orphans in extreme poverty become rapists and I hate that Marchetta tried to explain his actions, and let Evanjalin "forgive" him just because he's of her people. That makes no sense. That he has his own book puzzles me ever more.
4. The Marriage
Why? I can see Finnikin pining after her for decades, but I can't see her willingly marrying him (or anyone, really) and sacrificing her power to someone else unless the council forced her too. I can see her keeping him around as a fuck buddy, because I won't deny that they had chemistry, but I don't see her loving him as deeply as Marchetta described, despite their childhood together.
5. The Climax
Or really, what climax? Finnikin wasn't even there. And he's our main character (and psuedo-protagonist). That's like Frodo being asleep while Gollum (or Aragon) tosses the ring into Mt. Doom. If this climax was sex, it's like the guy going soft right before he gets the girl off. It just fizzled and went on, and on, with "will they, won't they drama" until the end.
6. The Pacing
It's slow. Be prepared.
7. The Villains
I felt no threat. For high fantasy to work, IMO, you need a credible villain. I didn't understand how the Lumaterans got exiled from their village and let themselves be slaughtered like pigs when it was so easy to take back their kingdom. With the ease they won back their land, Frodo could've just dropped the ring into a well, or Potter could've just cried on Voldemort, and he would've exploded like the Wicked Witch of the West.
8. The Whores
Yeah, yeah, it's supposed to be realistic, but that Finnikin is supposed to be our "hero" I'd expect more from him. I didn't need to be reminded four or five times that he was experienced in the ways of women. At least Evanjalin chided him for it. If I were her, I wouldn't be running to sleep him. Knowing how many times he's paid for sex, he might have something really gross hiding underneath that loin cloth. I would've preferred that he had a girlfriend (and not a pathetic, weak-willed, maid that he fucked at random intervals) but an equal, that he truly loved, who died or some shit. I like my fantasy heroes dirty, but not too dirty. I mean, not even Boromir paid for sex. Hell, even Snape didn't pay for sex. And he was ugly as fuck.
But I don't know. I think very little of men who pay women for sex in oppressive unequal societies, though I don't blame the women for selling it to them.
8. Prophecies and "Free Will"
This is what I dislike most about high fantasy. The "it was all meant to be" shit. If I ever finish the high fantasy novel (with a middle-eastern/Asian slant) I'm working on, I will have no prophecies of any kind that actually come true.
I'll get around to reading Froi. Someday. I just wish that Marchetta would change her writing style a bit and trim her novels of their excessive fat. Truth be told, I'd rather see Evanjalin of the Monts in print. She was the most fascinating character here. For my sake, I'm just going to pretend that the Isaboe bit never happened, as she will always be Evanjalin, the Mont peasant who exceeded everyone's expectations, despite being treated like shit and doubted at every turn until her bloodline was discovered.
It's been more than a year since Unearthly was published and I've heard nothing but good about it -- Tucker is hot. This PNR is different. Read it...more So.
It's been more than a year since Unearthly was published and I've heard nothing but good about it -- Tucker is hot. This PNR is different. Read it, you'll like Clara. Phrases like that are all I've seen on my updates page for this book. And I admit, I was intrigued. Not enough to read the book while it was popular, but enough to file it away for a later date when the hype died down.
I purchased this book for kindle earlier this year and I've been meaning to read it since January. Unfortunately, as of late I haven't been particularly motivated to read any books, let alone YA PNR. Yet, I decided to give Unearthly a chance. It was the only unread YA book on my kindle, and I needed something to alleviate my boredom while I wasn't connected to the internet.
If there's one thing I can say about Unearthly, it's that it's slow. That point is further dramatized by the fact that we, the audience, know what Clara's supposed to do near the climax. I read the first chapter months ago and put the book down out of boredom. The first one hundred pages are a sluggish bore. If you can get past those, I congratulate you. They were full of classic "new girl" tropes that dropped this book from 3.5 to 3.2 stars.
Girl is different, or has a strange facial feature.
But, girl is hot.
Girl fits in with the weird kids.
Girl makes an frenemy of a hot boy.
Girl crushes on the hottest boy in school.
Girl makes an enemy of the hottest boy's girlfriend.
Girlfriend is slut shamed.
This vaguely reminded me of Never Been Kissed, but it was less painful. Still, it kind of pissed me off. This is the big PNR book, and it's filled with these tropes?
But I read on. I read Clara wax poetic about Christian, and I couldn't have cared less. (view spoiler)[I predicted the big secret about him far quicker than I would've liked to. Guess what? He's an angel blood, too. His purpose was hers. That's why they felt sparks every time they touched. (hide spoiler)]
While Angela had potential, I didn't get much from her either. (view spoiler)[And could the author have been more obvious with their names? Angela? Christian? Really? (hide spoiler)] Her constant riding of Clara to follow her purpose grated on me. Don't even get me started on Clara's mom. Grounding Clara for falling in love was her last straw with me. The fate of the world hinges on the MC hooking up with a hot boy? Really? This is me not caring.
Also, didn't care much for the mythology either. I find it rather interesting how angel books conveniently skim over any actual thoughtful discussions on religion. Ya know, like is God Jewish, Muslim, Christian, etcetera, is it a he, a she, or genderqueer? Is it black/white/whatever? Because most angels tend to be white in these books. And Christianity as a religion is based off of other religions that originated in Africa. Just saying.
As for Wendy and Jeffery? They were okay. They served their purpose without any real depth added to their characters. But this is a trilogy, much to my disliking, so I guess they'll be expanded upon later. Hopefully, without the typical trilogy cliches.
The climax was rather weak. Perhaps the clunky writing contributed to my confusion. And I'm not a fan of the "disobeying God = evil rapist" bit, but I'm an atheist and I don't believe in God, so I'm not a fan of any "invisible imaginary beings control my destiny" plotlines, anyway.
Now, for the positives -- I liked Tucker. I really liked Tucker. He's a decent love interest. And he had chemistry with Clara. At first, he was kind of a douchebag, but so was Clara. Also, the Gilbert Bythe shout outs did not go unnoticed. I appreciated that the author built up to their romance, and let Clara show a bit of free will.
I really don't care for the inevitable love triangle, though. Insta-love is bullshit, even when it's the will of God. Especially when Christian is a blank slate. Especially when his girlfriend, Kay, needs to be developed past the evil cheerleader. For once, I'd like the girlfriend of the hot, popular LI to not be evil. You know, an actual challenge for the MC. I'd like one who's not an evil, "slutty," "bitch," who's just not right for the hero. That pisses me off.
Sometimes, guys have girlfriends who're just normal girls, and no matter how hard you try to demonize them, they're normal girls who just so happen to be dating the guy you like, and *surprise* he likes her, too. Get over it. I hear the same thing from my friends in real life. Every girl your ex dates is not an evil slutty mcslut.
But that's besides the point. It's a minor element in the book.
If you're looking for YA PNR that won't tick you off as much as everything else, read this. But know that it's not really special, and that it doesn't really bring anything new to the genre. The supernatural are still hotter and smarter and better than humans, despite the love Clara feels for Tucker, there's still an element of insta-love here, and dark = bad, and there's a variety of bad PNR YA tropes.
3.2 stars. Read it, but don't expect too much. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
This is the first review I've written in a few months. Bear with me. For the record, I received a copy of this book for review from Dial. And I'm "int...moreThis is the first review I've written in a few months. Bear with me. For the record, I received a copy of this book for review from Dial. And I'm "internet friends" with the author. Moving on --
The Friday Society is not the first of its kind. YA steampunk’s been going strong (and, please, do not make the mistake of assuming I'm using that word in a positive way) since the publication of Cassandra Clare's Clockwork Angel, the first of her Infernal Devices series. As Cassandra Clare is a well known hack of the first degree, I have not read, and have no desire to read Clockwork Angel. But to be honest, I haven't read any steampunk fiction unless what I read of The Golden Compass, the first novel of the His Dark Materials trilogy, counts as steampunk. And according to my more genre savvy friends, it does not. Nor does Howl's Moving Castle.
You were warned. This review comes from a place of ignorance. Assuming that steampunk follows different rules from dystopic fiction (most YA "dystopic" fiction is not, for the love of God, dystopic, anyway) and paranormal romances, despite all of the above being speculative fiction, I will try to the best of my abilities to give this a fair go.
FYI: I am listening to this song as I write this review: Kanye West vs. The xx - Touch The Sky (Carlos Serrano Mix). Kanye's egotism in no way effected this review.
The Friday Society follows three girls: Cora -- our tough leader girl; Nellie -- our sexy, sassy girl; and Michiko -- the solemn fish out of water. It takes place in what I assume to be the standard alternate history of England’s Victorian/Edwardian period -- where steam technology was popularized instead of coal. I'm under this impression because Nellie mentions traveling in a steam taxi multiple times. Other than that, I would've assumed it was just a rather creepy English setting in which the Brits seemed slightly off, but no more than usual.
We're given two chapters to introduce each character before we get to the actual plot. Unlike my attention span deprived peers, I'm a fan of set up. I like droolishly long plotless movies like The Graduate and American Beauty. I like character studies. There, I said it. Granted, I don't like boring shit like Twilight and Beautiful Creatures and Shiver where there's no actual character study -- just pages and pages of navel gazing wangst and purple prose and emo poetry -- but I don't mind a good bit of set up.
But this is the problem -- the entire book feels like set up for some awesomely awesome adventure that has the potential to blow your mind into a million different pieces. It's 400-plus-pages of something that could be THE NEXT BIG THING if only the plot would wake up and get, I don't know, interesting.
Yes, The Graduate takes a million years for young, virginal Ben to finally get into Mrs. Robinson's pants. But this is the thing -- we know he's going to get into her pants. That is just set up for the actual movie. And movies back then were different. Do you actually think something as god awfully boring as Citizen Kane or Casablanca (which I actually like) would get made in this day and age? No. This generation is too ADHD to give two fucks about slow, contemplative, thoughtful movies. They (meaning we, not me) watch shit like Transformers and Battleship Earth. God awful crap that makes me wish I'd had the common sense to spontaneously abort myself before I had the displeasure to be born into a generation that let The Dark of the Moon (what the fuck? it rips off of one of the greatest albums of all time and it can't even get the goddamn title right) become one of the highest grossing movies of all time.
But I digress. Have you seen The Prestige? It's one of Christopher Nolan's lesser known movies, right in front of The Following. Yes, I've actually seen every single movie Nolan's made except for Batman Begins. Anyway, the plot of The Prestige is simple -- revenge. That's it. Revenge. Magician #1 killed Magician #2's wife so #2 is going to fuck over #1 even if it kills him and destroys his soul by destroying #1's life. It's a tragic, under-appreciated movie filled with the usual Nolan-isms (dead girlfriends, women in refrigerators, complicated plot twists and turns and the nonsensical story arrangement that us Nolan fans love). Unfortunately, Edward Norton's The Illusionist (not a bad movie, but it was ruined by the rather bland Jessica Biel), came out that very same year, confusing witless audiences and making a general mess of the success it could have been.
Stick with me. There's a point in here. Somewhere.
The plot of any good movie (or book) can usually be summed up with one word. And it is most often the exact opposite of the character's fatal flaw. I have hammered on and on in my reviews about fatal flaws. Here's a quick summary: A fatal flaw is what a character has to overcome in order to succeed and further the plot. Aang -- childishness, Eragon -- being a loser (I kid), Riddick -- being a douchebag, Ripley – caring too much. You get the point.
But here's the problem with The Friday Society. There isn't really one word to sum up the entire plot. In fact, the two girls on the left side of the cover don't even have real, fleshed out arcs. Yes, you heard me. The brunette -- Cora -- the main featured character on the cover -- does not have an interesting plot line. Well, at least she has one. It's something about duality and sexism and classism. I'll get back to it later. Nellie does not. I wish I could describe what her plotline was, but honestly, it's just not coming to me right now. Probably because it doesn't exist, but who knows? I could be wrong, right?
I bet you're thinking "But what about the Asian chick on the right? She's interesting, isn't she?"
And the answer to that question would be --
SHE IS SO MUCH MORE DAMN INTERESTING THAN THOSE OTHER TWO GIRLS I WISH THIS ENTIRE NOVEL WOULD BE ABOUT THE BADASSNESS THAT IS MICHIKO AND NOT BORING WHITE GIRL #1 AND BORING WHITE GIRL #2.
Okay, okay, Cora isn't that boring. She's kind of like a blander Rachel Bernstein, from the Animorphs. And I love Rachel, despite her Tobias obsession (I will never forgive you for that KA Applegate (MarcoxRachel ONTF!)). Rachel was a badass of the first degree. She was THE badass of the nineties. More so than Buffy or Sabrina or the countless other blonde action chicks that would later spawn up to show that gurl powah could be sexah AND empower-wang. Rachel was fucking awesome and to see Cora come so close to that awesomeness was rather disappointing.
Well, Nellie could be played by Scarlett Johansson if this ever became a movie. That tells you all you need to know about her character. She's hot. She's got a few good lines. And I'd probably -- yeah, you don't want to hear that.
We're introduced to Cora first. She's a lab assistant for an ingenious opium addict. We're shown that she's a badass because she goes into an opium den to save her boss from... something. See, this scene has the potential to be really cool. But it isn't. I just don't feel Cora coming through. She's a watered down badass.
She's also kind of insecure about her place in society. One moment, she's uncomfortable about being a super rich guys assistant. The next, she's not. See, her boss rescued her from being a street rat or a prostitute, or something. It's not really elaborated on. And that's what could've made her interesting. More backstory. Conflict. Maybe more guilt about leaving her fellow street rats behind to become child sex slaves. I don't know. It was all very... weak.
Cora is also the only girl with a love interest. Well, kind of. Nellie gets one too, but she doesn't get any action. Not that Cora does either. Sure, she talks about maybe, kind of, having sex. Maybe. It's all kind of alluded to and danced around. Remember this for later.
Cora's love interest, Andrew, is interesting. Underdeveloped, yes, but interesting. The duality plot line surrounding him could have been a good short story but it is not enough for an entire plot line. I don't even know how it ties into the rest of the book.
Nellie is... um... yeah. Well, we know that she's a magician's assistant. She used to be a burlesque performer. That's about it. Her plot line is about... well, I don't really know. She meets a cute guy. Other things happen. I don't really know what flaws she has to over come. At least Cora has the pretense of a fatal flaw. Nellie does not, unless being a guy magnet is a flaw? She also has an Irish accent. And she likes to hug. A lot.
So, what is the main plot of the book? Someone is murdered. There's a mystery. Blah. Snore. ZZZZZ. What's that? I fell asleep. I'm sorry. That's how captivating I found the plot. Not quite as bad as the plot of the Inkheart sequels (fuck you Cornelia Funke for ruining one of my favorite childhood stories by giving it not one, but TWO sequels that are HORRIBLE), but still pretty boring. It's about on par with Men in Black. Can you imagine that as a novel? Yes, it's a pretty movie, and the acting is great, but on paper, it'd be pretty damn dull.
There's a generic bad guy. A generic group of bad guy thugs. A big reveal scene. A dramatic fight scene. Heroes refusing to kill. Join me! All of the things I hate about mystery/fantasy/action/adventure novels. If you were a villain, would you really spend twenty minutes explaining your big evil scheme to a group of teenage girls right before you planned kill them? I wouldn't. I'd just kill them. Kill them dead. And then I'd let my thugs ravish their dead bodies because when you're evil, you just don't give a fuck. I suppose that's why Kanye West could never be a legitimate villain in a superhero movie. I mean, can you imagine him opposite the Joker as Lex Luthor in a Batman/Superman movie?
"Now hold on Superman, imma let you finish dying, but my boy the Joker's deathray is the greatest deathray of all time and it's gonna blow you mind like yeezy, huh. And when we kill you, we gonna get that hoe Lois and... etc... etc... "
Hmm... nevermind. I can actually see that. Moving on.
So, yes, the main plot is completely unoriginal and boring.
And I see you asking, yet again, "But Cory, why did you give this three stars if you've done nothing but complain?"
And here is my answer to you -- because I like complaining. Would you actually read my reviews if I didn't complain? No, you wouldn't, because you people don't like reading positive mindless fluff filled GIF reviews (I like those, by the way) by people who only like weird books no one else reads. You like reading my rants. You like my digressions and my cussing and my whining. You expect me to hate every single book I read. So stop complaining. No one is forcing you to read this.
Now, for the *gasp* positive section of this review. Skip the next few paragraphs if you're allergic to positivity. I'll see you misanthropic baby hating puppy eaters on the other side of the rainbow in grouch land.
An open letter to Michiko:
You are the best part of this book. When you first appeared, I was unsure of your character. I thought you'd be the token Asian, devoid of personality traits and flaws. Boy, was I wrong. Adrienne Kress, the author of this book, actually seemed to know what she was doing. She did motherfucking research for god sake! She knows the difference between kun and san and sama, something millions of Japanophile idiots still can't get down. It's like the bulk of her Japanese research didn't come from Wikipedia! That's an odd notion, isn't it? Not using Wikipedia as a main source for cultural research.
It's almost like Kress wanted you to be the star of this novel, but was too unsure of herself to have you feature as the title character. You are the only character with a fatal flaw, a plot line, an arc, a fully fleshed out character arc -- and interesting companions. You were the only character who's chapters I never skimmed. Your first scenes were interesting. Your doubt in yourself was convincing. I believed that you were a warrior, a true samurai.
And I love that you reject this to find yourself. To realize that it's okay to have fears -- to have emotions.
Kress, if you're reading this letter to your character, rewrite this novel. Do it for me. Tell it solely from Michiko's POV. Write the novel that Stormdancer wanted to be. The series that The Legend of Korra wanted to be.
PS -- Give Michiko a love interest that sits in the background. I like a well done romance. I like sex. There, I said it. I. Like. Sex. A tasteful romantic plotline, like that of... um... I'm coming up short, but I'm sure they exist. That, or someone her age who speaks her language so I'm not left wondering why you didn't make her Chinese or Indian every time Nellie and Cora start speaking English so she can participate in their conversations. Because the English colonized parts of India and China. Meaning that the likely hood of someone Chinese or Indian speaking English would be greater. You do know that, right YA readers?
Why do I bother? I keep forgetting that we’re the Transformers/Kanye generation.
At least Michiko isn’t a Chinese samurai and there aren’t motherfucking pandas in London. If you get those references, you are awesome.
PPS -- Readers, this girl ran away from home to escape an arranged marriage, trained illegally with a samurai, and lived with geisha, all before running away to England to further her training while upstaging her boss at every turn skill wise. Need I say more. She's a BAMF.
PPPS -- Hayao is awesome too.
Okay baby eating puppy haters -- I mean, puppy eating baby haters -- I'm done. You can unshield your eyes.
At first, I thought this novel would be like A Great and Terrible Beauty, the first book in the Gemma Doyle Trilogy. Not really. While Gemma Doyle reads like a YA novel, both in tone, content, and character, The Friday Society reads more like Upper MG. And that's not a bad thing. I guess. But I was expecting something more mature. The juvenile voice hurt this novel. The writing isn’t bad, but I didn’t believe any of the girls were older than fourteen. I mean, I'm eighteen. Not less than a year ago, I was seventeen. I know what seventeen-year-old girls sound like. And they think about sex. A lot. Well, my sixteen-year-old female friends do, anyway. That is a joke, by the way. Though it's true.
These girls sound like Judy Blume protagonists. And, as I said before, that's not a bad thing. It's just not good. A well placed curse word does not change that fact.
I suppose I could go on for a bit longer, but I don't really have anything else to say. And it's 11:59 AM. I'm seeing Skyfall tomorrow. Good night readers. Hope you enjoyed this review. And do read the book when it comes out. Despite my negativity, it's a lot more enjoyable than most YA crap out there right now.
And just because I was harsh does not mean this book isn't worth the read. I did give it three stars. That, from me, is not, I repeat, NOT BAD. It'd be a good Christmas gift for your preteen nieces/nephews. It's certainly something I'd buy for my thirteen-year-old sister.
3.25 stars. Not bad, but it could be so much better.
I can't with good heart give this less than four stars. I liked it as much as I liked A Handmaid's Tale and I don't think this is inferior to that. Th...more I can't with good heart give this less than four stars. I liked it as much as I liked A Handmaid's Tale and I don't think this is inferior to that. The writing style is about the same. The characterization is on par as well. As with A Handmaid's Tale, I suppose I'm rating it more for the premise and the message, and the fact that it was a classic that I was able to get through in one setting.
There was quite a bit of violence and gore, but I found the emotional environment to be a bit lacking. As with all of Butler's novels, she delivers on her premise, but the characterization is rather weak. Her prose, while minimalistic and descriptive, is somewhat dull at times. Also, as I make my way through her catalog, I'm noticing certain unsettling trends with the way she handles romance/rape/pedophilia.
That being said, she treats racial issues with a graceful hand without coming off as preachy or condescending. I'm surprised that I didn't read this book in high school. My first Butler novel was Dawn, which I read when I was ten.
While this isn't as good as Butler's other works, I feel like it deserves its place in literary canon. And, judging from some of the commentary I've seen on negative reviews, more schools need to teach it.
I don't like Paranormal Romance and I don't Urban Fantasy. Y'all can take Anita Blake and Zoey Redbird and Rose Hathaway and Bella Swan and Jace Wayla...moreI don't like Paranormal Romance and I don't Urban Fantasy. Y'all can take Anita Blake and Zoey Redbird and Rose Hathaway and Bella Swan and Jace Wayland and Nora Grey and Ever Bloom and lock them away in a closet to discuss their various sexploits, boobs jobs, and why they'll do anything for their wo/man. And you can shove Sam, Grace, Clary Fray, Ethan Wate, Lena Haloway, and Schuyler Van Allen in a closet right next to them.
I didn't even like The Hunger Games, which is practically an immoral offense.
But I did like Angelfall. Granted, I had various issues with it, but there was something about it that made it stand out from the other Angel books -- Halo; Hush, Hush; Fallen; Blue Bloods -- that I've read, or tried to read, but never finished.
Maybe it was the fact that Susan Ee seems to have at least once chapter of the bible?
Maybe it was the fact that Susan Ee seem to know the names of all the Archangels, including Uriel?
Maybe it was the fact that not all the angels are white -- and not just slightly olive -- but described as having dark brown skin?
These are just baby steps for the PNR genre, but for me, they're massive.
Yes, there are still generic ideas here, and some of the prose is rather clunky. While I liked some of the description in the first chapter, I had a hard time getting through it. And towards the end of the book, I started to skim.
But I liked some of the banter between Penryn and Raffe. I tried getting into Buffy, and I can't say that I care for the show. I don't have a strong affinity for anything Joss Whedon's made and I don't like his dialog. For me, he's like Diablo Cody. They try too hard. That being said, I want all of you to go see Young Adult. I read that script a few months ago. Cody and Reitman grew up.
Some of the dialog seemed like it was trying too hard, considering that they're in a post-apocalyptic world. But I'm glad there was no insta-love, no love triangle, and no long didactic ballads meant to lead us into thinking that our couple is in love.
All of that, however, would've only given Angelfall three stars. What adds half a star is Ee's interpretation of the angels. No, they still look like "Grecian gods", but they're actually killing humans without remorse. Like in the bible. And, you know me. I like violence, and battles, and war in my fiction. The more apocalyptic wars -- in books, mind you -- the better. Especially if they involve angels. I might be non-religious, but I still like clever renditions of biblical tales.
Believing in Penryn's fighting skills was rather difficult, though. As was the fact that she'd be able to jump into survival mode in a matter of two months. Though, I've seen much worse in terms of world building. I won't mention novels like Shiver -- which have no internal logic whatsoever -- Twilight -- I won't even -- The Hunger Games -- ... -- and various other unmentionable publications. I had problems with Angelfall's worldbuidling, but I was willing to overlook them because I believed in the world that Ee described. It reminded me so much of Parable of the Sower, one of my favorite books, that I could excuse most of the issues I had.
Most, not all.
I didn't care for The Hunger Games similarities.
Damaged mom? Check.
Protection of the sister no matter what? Check.
Absent dad? Check.
The set-up was too familiar for my tastes.
Also, I didn't care for the portrayal of the schizophrenic mother. Nor did I care for the portrayal of the other women in this book.
Evil ex-girlfriend? Check.
Bitchy ex-cheerleader who heroine has a cat fight with? Check.
And while I liked Raffe, he was a bit too much like the average snarky YA hero and not enough like an actual Archangel.
That being said, I liked the ideas in Angelfall. Angels attacking the Earth, nephilim being *gasp* evil, Angels being agnostic, female angels, and that Angels were portrayed as not being morally superior to humans. They're stronger and they have wings, but they still watch tv, still have doubts, still engage in wars, and are capable of species-ism. I would've liked Lucifer to make an appearance and I wanted more mythology to be revealed, but I suppose that's for the sequel.
As for the prose, it wasn't spectacular. As far as YA goes, this is rather standard fair. Those of you looking for the next Laini Taylor or Maggie Steifvater or Lauren Oliver (though I liked Before I Fall), look else where. Myself, I can't stand them or their prose. They try too hard and it ends up looking purple. Especially Steifvater. Sometimes, she makes Stephenie Meyer look like William Faulkner. But I digress.
The prose here is on par with The Hunger Games. It's enough to tell the story.
In regards to pacing, the story moves fast. But I didn't care for the extended stay in the rebel camp.
And as for our heroine? She was alright. Not exactly memorable, but I could tolerate her. She was better than Katniss "Gloom-And-Doom" Everdeen and Tally "Woe-Be-Me" Youngblood.
So, as far as PNR/UF goes, this was a step up above the rest. For an end of the year read, I was satisfied. I finished it in three hours and didn't experience any moments of throw my head against the wall frustration.
I didn't even mind the romance. While it wasn't exactly subtle, and I could've been spared a few eye-roll moments as well as Raffe's high school angst over a relationship, the forbidden love angle wasn't pulled out of Ee's ass. It made sense. Angel/Human Sex = Evil. And there was no Ever Bloom/Bella Swan angst from Penryn over not being able to fuck her beloved.
My rating? 3.25 stars. It's not quite 3.5, but it isn't 3. I give Susan Ee a round of applause for writing a decent book. Because I don't like writing diarreah of the mouth reviews, despite what you might think of me. I like reading, despite popular opinion, and while I like shitting on crappy books, I don't like reading them.
So, Susan Ee, if you're reading this review, know that you made semi-fan out of me. And as anyone on Goodreads will attest, that's a difficult feat.(less)
I didn't think it was possible, but Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler managed to fuck up one of the best ideas of 2011.
It's 1996, and less than half of
...moreI didn't think it was possible, but Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler managed to fuck up one of the best ideas of 2011.
It's 1996, and less than half of all American high school students have ever used the Internet.
Emma just got her first computer and an America Online CD-ROM.
Josh is her best friend. They power up and log on--and discover themselves on Facebook, fifteen years in the future.
Everybody wonders what their Destiny will be. Josh and Emma are about to find out.
How do you fuck up an epic idea like that? I'll tell you how -- you focus on two vapid teenagers and their relationship issues.
I loved Thirteen Reasons Why, despite the various issues I had with it. So you can imagine how much I was anticipating The Future of Us. I pre-ordered it, and I never pre-order books. Now it's sitting on my bookcase like an evil step child, laughing at me for my foolishness. I thought this collaboration would be brilliant. I'd never read My Butt, the Earth, and Other Round Things, but it was a Printz contender, which must have set it apart from vapid chick-lit like The Princess Diaries and All American Girl. So why does this read like a David Levithan/Rachel Cohn Collaboration?
ETA: I read My Butt, the Earth, and Other Round Things a few months ago. I didn't like it. In fact, it was rather vapid, in league with All American Girl or The Princess Diaries. Give me Ruby Oliver over whatshername any day. I don't know why the hell it was a Printz Contender.
It's quite possibly the most disappointing book I've ever read. Even more disappointing than Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows. It takes an epic premise and fails on every mark. And then it doesn't even give us an ending. It trudges along, through the mud of false suspense, and dies before it even gets out of the sludge.
Now, before I continue this review, I should let you know that I am a teenager. I'm seventeen and I have friends who are just as, or even more, vapid than the teenagers in this novel. Problem is, I have no interest in reading about idiots, no matter how realistic they are. I want dynamic, well written characters, not whiny teenage girls who worry about old condoms their best friends keep in their wallets. Hell, that doesn't even bother me -- when it's done the right way. Sara Zarr does it well. Elizabeth Scott does it well. These authors, in this book, failed on every account.
As a contemporary novel, it fails.
As a science-fiction novel, it fails.
As a fantasy novel, it fails.
As a snap-shot of the 90's, it fails.
This reads like a bad PBS special, or that Groundhog Day rip-off Nickolodean ran after Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide ended. I'm calling Miranda Cosgrove and Nathan Kress to star in this because at least they'd make it interesting. And that's not saying much.
I'm not even a real 90's kid, and this reads like a fake rendition of what the 90's were.
I have so many issues with this novel, I have to make a list.
If you're suddenly given a portal into your future Facebook account, what do you do?
a) Look into the politics of the future. b) See how you can make a quick buck off of future companies by investing in the stock market. c) Find out who wins the future Superbowl/World Series/March Madness so you can win a bunch of money. d) Worry about who your future husband is 24/7.
Once you've changed your future and you're happy with your husband, what do you do now?
a) Figure out possible career paths for yourself. b) Check up on your family. c) Use knowledge of the future to your benefit, while avoiding the butterfly effect. d) Whine because you want a hotter guy.
After you've generally screwed everything up to the point where you're depressed and living in an unhappy marriage, what do you do now?
a) Leave the future alone because, you, idiot that you are, can change it simply by not marrying who your Facebook page says you will. b) Realize that the future is constantly changing and that there are millions of outcomes that become void once you're aware of them. c) Realize that because you've seen this outcome, that means your future self wants it. d) Whine about how unfair everything is.
Now that you've really fucked up your future, you decide to kiss your best friend, who absolutely adores you, in the hopes of having a drastic change in your future. What do you do when he calls you out on your bullshit?
a) Apologize b) Ask him out. c) Feign confusion. d) Blame him and make him apologize to you.
If you answered d) to any of the above, please defriend me and stop reading this review. I have no patience for you in my social sphere.
Emma is quite honestly one of the most shallow characters I've ever had the displeasure to read about. Her thoughts revolve around guys, 24/7. Which guy is hot, which guy isn't, and who she's going to marry. Seriously, her big (one chapter) resolution was about how she never gave herself to her boyfriend completely and she resolved to be more committed. Eh, no. Her real problem is that she was a shallow bitch who didn't really care who she used to get what she wanted. And she didn't really have goals outside of getting a hot husband, unless you count her fleeting commitment to getting into a decent college, which is dropped halfway through the novel to focus on her relationships.
There's nothing wrong with a novel that focuses on relationships -- when those relationships are interesting. The character development here is barebones at best.
The award for biggest hypocritical misandrist goes to Kellan, Emma's best friend. Honestly, I couldn't have cared less about her plot line. And, strange enough, it's never resolved.
Just remember this bit of wisdom -- if a girl is leading you on and jerking your chain left and right, don't ever think about moving on because she might want you back. And if you go on a date, she has the right to be pissy, especially when she decided, that very week, to break up with her boyfriend and go on a date with another guy she talks about constantly. Because you're her back up plan. Don't ever forget that. It's not manipulation. It's love, girls and boys.
I liked Syd. Unfortunately, she's the placeholder girlfriend. Why Josh likes Emma over her, I have no fucking idea. Sydney is hot. Sydney is nice. Sydney is rich. And Sydney is way more interesting than Emma. In fact, I wanted to know the details of her relationship with Rick and what might have lead to her being the only girl in their class to stand up for No means No and Yes means Yes.
4. The Plot
Plot lines are mentioned and dropped like 2012 republican candidates. It's ridiculous. One moment, Josh is worried that his brother might be gay. The next? Nothing. One moment Emma think Kellan is pregnant. The next? Nothing. As for the main plot line? The only reason I finished this book was because I wanted to know if Emma would be unhappy in her future, and if Josh would move on. That's a piss poor way to keep the story moving.
5. The End
There was no end. It's like someone left out the third act because they were too lazy to finish writing the book. And I'm guilty of that. But I expect more from Printz honor authors and NYT Bestselling authors.
6. The Science, or Lack of
If you're reading this because you want a decent spec fic read, don't bother. This is a Degrassi special that desperately wants to fit in with the Animorphs.
This is why people don't like YA. Along with Across the Universe, this novel is everything that's wrong with the genre. Instead of focusing on, I dunno, the story, the characters, or, hell, an interesting romance, we're once again given a boring tale of Mr. And Mrs. White Teenager and their Oh So Dull First World Problems. Save yourself the effort. Just go watch The N. (less)
Finally finished it. It wasn't good as I thought it'd be. I loved the first half and I was rather "meh" on the second half. I'll be looking into the s...moreFinally finished it. It wasn't good as I thought it'd be. I loved the first half and I was rather "meh" on the second half. I'll be looking into the sequels, though I wouldn't be surprised if it took me another year to read them.(less)
In 2009, I was naive to the world of YA. In middle school, I read Eragon, The Chocolate War, and Catcher in the Rye. Beyond that, I focused on Adult s...more In 2009, I was naive to the world of YA. In middle school, I read Eragon, The Chocolate War, and Catcher in the Rye. Beyond that, I focused on Adult science-fiction (Octavia Butler and Ray Bradbury), Adult fantasy (Tolkien and Zelazny), Adult horror (Stephen King), and the occasional chick-lit novel (The Devil Wears Prada and something by Janet Evanovich, which I never finished).
The Perks of Being a Wallflower and Thirteen Reasons Why were my first forays into modern YA. I loved them both. After that, I decided to give this much mocked genre a try.
I did a Google search for "best YA books" or something to that extent. Then I clicked on one of the first results. It was a question on Yahoo answers. Almost everyone recommended Twilight. I'd never heard of it. Keep this in mind -- I was homeschooled and, therefore, sheltered from popular fads.
At that time, I lived in Luxor, Egypt. Have you ever tried to find a library in a third world country? A country whose first language is not English? It's hard, to say the least. And there were no bookstores, outside of tourist traps, which sold postcards and travel guides. But I found a copy because, after all, this was Twilight. My expectations shot through the roof when I saw the cover.
Imagine my surprise when I closed the book one minute later. I couldn't get into it. One week later, I opened it and turned to the last page. There was a passage with Edward kissing Bella's neck. I closed it again. Something was wrong with me. Twilight was the most popular YA book and I didn't like it. I didn't know of its reputation as one of the worst books ever written. I didn't come into the book looking for something to hate.
For the record, I've never done that. Whenever I start a book I know I won't like, I never finish it because it's a bad book. I don't have the patience to read bad books. Nor do I have the time. I've started A Game of Thrones three times and not once have I made it past chapter one.
To be honest, I've never finished Twilight. I can't bear to drag myself across the finish line. I don't think I've ever read past the point where Bella flirts with Jacob.
And here's the thing -- it's not the worst book I've ever read. It's just incredibly boring. And it's my least favorite book in the series.
Now that I’ve explored the YA genre, I realize that Bella isn’t the worst heroine in existence. I don’t like her and I don’t understand why people enjoy reading from her perspective, but I’m able to tolerate her. Her POV is simple, if not amusing, and she’s incredibly selfish.
Everything revolves around Bella. No, this isn’t atypical of the average teenager. If you’re as self-absorbed as Bella, chances are, you’re a sociopath. Never have I ever met a person like her, unless we’re referring to family members of mine with less than stellar reputations.
Unless a person is absolutely beautiful, they aren’t worth her time. And people say she’s just like the average teen. That’s incredibly insulting. She treats her father like a child and acts as if she raised herself, which, considering her attitude to humans, isn’t all that hard to believe – who’d want to stick around to raise a shallow, selfish child who somehow manages to judge everything and everyone?
And Bella isn’t meant to be an unlikable character. Quite the opposite. We, the audience, are supposed to like, and even root for her. I don’t know what her goal is, outside of dating Edward, but I’m certainly not going to root for her.
She’s rude to her human friends, rude to her mother, and to top it off, she’s rude to the human boys who find her attractive. Bella isn’t personality-less, quite the opposite. She thinks she can take advantage of everyone around her to achieve her shallow goal. For whatever reason, she flirts with Jacob to get information out of him. She doesn’t even try to care about her friends – Jessica and Angela – and as for Mike, Tyler, and Eric? They’re only there to prove that Bella really is beautiful, despite her protests.
When the vampires appear, Bella is instantly drawn to them, despite Jessica’s warning. I don’t know about you, but whenever a nice, well meaning girl tells me to stay away from a group of pale kids with black marks around their eyes, I follow her advice.
Bella becomes obsessed with Edward for no reason outside of his physical appearance. This, I don’t mind. I know people are prone to fall in lust, but a relationship can’t exist on it alone. There must be something more. What hobby do they share? What activities do they perform together? What common interests do they have? Does he make her laugh? Does she make him laugh? Do they engage in intelligent conversation? No. I didn’t expect Twilight to be great literature, but at the very least, I wanted to be entertained.
As for Edward, he fails as a love interest. He reminded me of a creepy, overprotective father. I don’t find fathers sexy, so I’m under the impression that Bella has an Electra complex. It fits with her upbringing. She denies her own father and insists on having a sexual relationship with a vampire who could kill her at any moment.
I don’t know why Edward likes Bella, outside of her scent. It would be pointless to explain his overbearing, borderline-psychopathic behavior. While I understand that he’s a vampire, his behavior is glorified. Regardless of his species, I don’t tolerate that from anyone.
As for the supporting cast, they were all so thinly outlined, I can’t bring myself to care. I liked Jacob Black. That was it. I can’t name more than two character traits for any of the supporting characters, and that right there is a problem. Sure, this is an epic romance between Bella and Edward, but that’s no excuse to write poorly fleshed out characters without an inkling of personality outside of jealous, perky, fatherly, motherly, brotherly, depressed, and talkative.
If it weren’t for the main characters, Twilight could get two stars. Sadly, it isn’t well written either. Whoever wrote, represented, and edited this book doesn’t know how to use a thesaurus. So many synonyms are incorrectly used in this book, it would take too much time to point them out.
In addition, the prose was littered with unneeded description. That’s called purple prose. It’s when a writer waxes poetic for an unnecessary length of time about something that has nothing to do with the plot.
I didn’t even want to mention the plot – or lack of a plot. I expect a commercial novel to follow a series of beats and keep me entertained. For the first one hundred pages, Bella does a series of mundane things that make even the worst Sweet Valley High book look like quality literature.
The villains aren’t introduced until the third act and I’m unsure of the point of this novel. What is the theme? Two teenagers can fall in love despite unfortunate circumstances? I can’t even say I understand why people were able to finish this book. I enjoyed parts of New Moon and Eclipse, and I liked Breaking Dawn, despite the third part. I can’t find anything positive to say about Twilight. Honestly, I don’t know why I bothered finishing the series. It must’ve been because of Jacob. And we know how that turns out.
As for the plot holes, science fails, and illogical inconsistencies? Well, it would take several essays to explain those. All I will say is this – whoever edited this book knows nothing about biology, history, economics, or anything related to the real world. I imagine that they live in a bubble, shielded from reality.
And yes, I know Twilight is little more than teenybopper entertainment, but that’s no excuse for writing a story devoid of character development, scientific research, decent prose, and a functioning plot. Commercial doesn’t mean first draft sent in by a first time writer right out of college. I expect a certain level of quality when I purchase a book. Sadly, as with movies, publishers and studios realize that the majority of their audience will settle for this. (less)