What an odd book. I really don't know what to make of it. I had been eyeballing it for awhile and finally picked it up because I was about to see LydiWhat an odd book. I really don't know what to make of it. I had been eyeballing it for awhile and finally picked it up because I was about to see Lydia Netzer at a conference. A third of the way in, and I was struggling with the story-telling style. (Her writing was complex and lovely, but something about the narrative was just too much for my tired brain, I think.) So I briefly put it down. And then I saw Netzer at a conference, and she was hilarious and big-hearted and interesting and unusual. I loved her. I wanted her to be my new best friend. So I had to finish her book. AND LIKE IT.
As she said herself, science fiction meets women's fiction is a hard genre to sell, and this big mash up was a lot to digest. There's so much to think about in Sunny's life (mother/daughter relationships, the mask - or wig - we wear in public, what makes a child normal or healthy...) and in Maxon's (how do we define humanity, is progress worth sacrificing everything for, what makes a man normal or heatlhy...) It's about a marriage, but they aren't even on the same planet for the main timeline of the book. It's about the birth and death of both people and machines. It's about relationships with others and ourselves. It's about how normal abnormality really is.
So. If your brain is clear, you have some time to think, and you want to enjoy a well-written if odd novel (with a very abrupt ending), read this book. And if you want a new author crush, go see Lydia Netzer in person. She is something else.
I was torn between 3 and 4 stars on this book, but I ultimately went with 4 because it was just so compelling and hard to put down even after it spunI was torn between 3 and 4 stars on this book, but I ultimately went with 4 because it was just so compelling and hard to put down even after it spun off into a wildly unanticipated direction that didn't exactly thrill me. (Not that it was possible to anticipate where it was going, but this would have been the last possibility on my mind if I could have thought of any!) Mike was a great character and the plot was mind-blowing. In layperson's terms, scientists convince the universe that there is a fold in space which allows them to step across other dimensions and back to their own, having essentially "teleported." (But they make it very clear that's not what it is--"teleportation" is just the easiest word for the layperson to understand.) Something isn't quite right at the research compound, and Mike goes to figure out what it is. The feeling that something isn't quite fitting makes the reader's skin itch, and as darker possibilities begin to seem possible, then probable, then certain -- eep!
I thought Clines overcomplicated things a little by making two terrifying outcomes when one was already more than enough. (view spoiler)[Researchers replaced with their counterparts from other universes was awesome. Monsters coming from other universes is just not my cup of tea, plus a bit of overkill. (hide spoiler)] His obvious gift for storytelling seemed to run wild - sort of like Jack's beanstalk. Less can sometimes be more, and I don't think adding to the complications really added much to a story that was already incredible.
I don't know why, but reading this I was somewhat reminded of both 11/22/63 and The Company of the Dead. Completely different stories, but something in the writing or the overall feel must have struck me -- I guess what I'm trying to say is that this book might be a good read for fans of those books, even if it seems an unlikely combination.
The fine print: received ARC from NetGalley.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
Despite having hints of My Name Is Memory, The Witch of Painted Sorrows, various medical thrillers, and even Now You See Her, this book was still oneDespite having hints of My Name Is Memory, The Witch of Painted Sorrows, various medical thrillers, and even Now You See Her, this book was still one of a kind. Even though it was technically sci-fi, it felt more like a paranormal/historical/mystery/romance-type genre bending mashup. Which I quite like. I'm sure it won't come as a big surprise to people who know me that my biggest complaint was that I wanted more. Although this time I feel more justified in saying so. Womack had this great idea that could have been so much more fully developed, instead of the convenient and sudden reveal of "the Egyptian life." (Side note: Why did all of the past lives have to be historically known? Why couldn't they have been regular people?) I think the Egyptian life in general is what turned me off in the end. It took a plot that relied on science with very little suspension of disbelief and suddenly gave it this "woo woo" element that just didn't feel right. With a more satisfying climax/falling action, I would have liked this book a whole lot more. Still, it was an enjoyable read overall.
The fine print: received ARC from NetGalley....more
It's so hard to believe that Shusterman has carried this story so far since 2007, and it's still interesting. He's still bringing fresh ideas to the AIt's so hard to believe that Shusterman has carried this story so far since 2007, and it's still interesting. He's still bringing fresh ideas to the AWOL's stories. A lot of pieces really come together in this volume (view spoiler)[no pun intended... so bad (hide spoiler)]. It's not neat and tidy, but it's thought-provoking and it makes sense within the Unwind world. It was also really exciting in parts, really emotional in parts, and sometimes both at once. The end of this book was the perfect mix of finality and open-endedness (sort of GWTWish, TM - ha). I could see it being continued further, but I think it's more powerful if it stands as it is. Highly enjoyable, incredible reading....more
I enjoyed this book. It was nice to read something different than my normal reads (although that's admittedly a varied selection already). It was defiI enjoyed this book. It was nice to read something different than my normal reads (although that's admittedly a varied selection already). It was definitely interesting to think about what our civilization would like like to another civilization, particularly if it is in ruins. I liked the characters, though I would have liked most (or all) of them to have more depth. And ultimately I wasn't blown away because despite deaths in the company and some confusion about "ancient" technology, they ultimately had way too many convenient aha moments and lucky breaks to get to their destination....more
This book was a HUGE struggle for me. It took me so long to read that my checkout expired and I had to wait to check it out again. I think the premiseThis book was a HUGE struggle for me. It took me so long to read that my checkout expired and I had to wait to check it out again. I think the premise was awesome, and I really enjoyed the first few and last few chapters. However, I found it very difficult to keep up with the politics in the middle section and was just thinking too hard to enjoy it. Also, military operations and intelligence strategy just aren't areas of interest for me, and probably 80% of the book revolved around just that. Don't get me wrong, it was well written, and if I hadn't recognized the merits I probably wouldn't have finished it or given it more than 1 star. I think it would be the perfect book for a certain kind of reader; I was just disappointed that reader isn't me....more
I really wanted to like this, but there was just too much man-hating and unexplained science and unremarked incest. I liked the premise and some of thI really wanted to like this, but there was just too much man-hating and unexplained science and unremarked incest. I liked the premise and some of the plot, but those other elements were just too much for me. The story had serious potential, with the traveling and the new planet and the new civilization, but alas, too much hair fetish and mentioning of Mother's "melons." Yeah....more
I so wanted to give this one a 5, but I couldn't quite do it. Mostly, that's because the big "cliffhanger" that everyone keeps referring to was so obvI so wanted to give this one a 5, but I couldn't quite do it. Mostly, that's because the big "cliffhanger" that everyone keeps referring to was so obvious from close to the beginning of the book, which was frustrating. I mean, on one hand cliffhangers are annoying because you want to know what happens, but on the other hand, the anticipation makes the next book so much better! I'm still looking forward to see where the story is going, but it's not quite the same.
Anyway, that being said, this was a fantastic book. It was shockingly original even as it relied on very old material. (That would be Cinderella, in case that's not clear.) Except instead of a glass slipper, we have a cyborg foot. And a futuristic "New Bejing," where a bubonic/choleric type plague is killing citizens and royalty alike. The city was well written, the culture was interesting and easy to fall into, the characters (particularly Cinder and her android sidekick) were easy to get to know. The story was engaging, and even though I saw the big twist from a mile away, it still tells me that book two is going to go in very interesting directions. I liked how she roughly followed the Cinderella plot of stepsisters and "shoes" and princes and balls enough to make it recognizable, comfortable, and familiar, and yet also changed it to make it her own (aside from the whole cyborg/futuristic story, Cinder is actually friends with one of her stepsisters).
This book was so great. Unique, refreshing, and practically un-put-downable. (I read it in two sittings, which probably would have been one sitting if I hadn't had to go to book club the first evening!) I've been looking for some good YAF sci-fi for awhile, and this definitely gets top billing on the list. Yay!...more
This book was excruciating to finish. I would have quit after about 50 pages (or maybe less), but all the good reviews from trade journals and YA-readThis book was excruciating to finish. I would have quit after about 50 pages (or maybe less), but all the good reviews from trade journals and YA-reading friends made me want to stick with it and see what all the fuss was about. Everyone raves about Mafi's beautiful writing, but to me it was too disjointed, too flowery, too forced, too much in general. I liked the idea of a stream-of-conscious journal, complete with our narrator striking through words and phrases she changed her mind about, but it quickly became tiresome. And the sentence fragments. Painful. Like this. I wanted to yell "Shut UP already!" at our rambling heroine. It wasn't just the inner thoughts that were annoying, either. A lot of the dialogue was surprisingly bad, especially between Adam/Kenji and Juliette/Warner.
If the writing style had been a world apart, I think this could have been a good book. The relationship between the leads could make sense. Juliette's "powers," while never explained, were unique. (Unfortunately, a lot of plot elements, including several surrounding her powers, are way too convenient.) The ending headed in a very interesting direction, which almost makes me want to read the next one to see where things go. Unfortunately, I just don't think I can stand any more of the writing for the sake of the story. Sad.
For a more descriptively mean review that says what I was thinking better than I can, try this:
I'm giving this the benefit of the doubt and going for 3 stars. I really liked the concept. It was definitely more of a plot-driven book than a characI'm giving this the benefit of the doubt and going for 3 stars. I really liked the concept. It was definitely more of a plot-driven book than a character-driven one. (In fact, if you stop to think about it, the characters are awfully flat.) Still, it's not really a hindrance because it's a plot and issues book rather than a people book. As I told Joan, "I'm just so happy to be in deep space again!" There's just something about all that emptiness out there that adds a greater element of suspense to the story. I don't want to give anything of the plot away, but I will say that I liked the (critical) look at religion and fertility (for lack of a better descriptor). What made me suddenly want to knock this good book down to a 2 was the unexpected character development in the last 10% that made for a seemingly pro-religious tone. I will say to each his own, but I don't want to read Christian fiction and I feel like I should be warned. (Incidentally, the three-way romance implied in the cover blurb hardly even seems to be a two-way romance, much less a love triangle.) Of course the story's not over yet, so perhaps I should wait and see where it goes in the next book. Hence my suspension of judgement....more