This is the first time in a very long time that I've read a YA book and thought, "Well, if I was 16 I would think this was absolutely brilliant, but IThis is the first time in a very long time that I've read a YA book and thought, "Well, if I was 16 I would think this was absolutely brilliant, but I'm 32 and so it's just kind of ... meh." ...more
I pushed through to page fifty. Each chapter averages about five pages, but within those five pages they average five scene breaks. It makes forDNF.
I pushed through to page fifty. Each chapter averages about five pages, but within those five pages they average five scene breaks. It makes for a very choppy read. As a result, I had a hard time connecting with the character, which is a shame, because Abish is a fascinating historical figure and I really wanted to love this. ...more
Tried to be too many things. It might as well have been titled "How to be a teacher and a social worker". Used personal quotes and opinions in lieu ofTried to be too many things. It might as well have been titled "How to be a teacher and a social worker". Used personal quotes and opinions in lieu of research. ...more
This is an epistolary upmarket literary mystery women's fiction...? I think...? I don't know. There's no neat little box for this to beI am stunned.
This is an epistolary upmarket literary mystery women's fiction...? I think...? I don't know. There's no neat little box for this to be put into, but I absolutely loved it. From scathing social commentary to constantly evolving views of who is in the right and who is in the wrong and the slow realization that literally every single character is diagnosable with a legit mental disorder... WOW.
It's not a book about mental diseases, but it treats them with caution and respect and fear and disdain all at once.
It's not a book about families, but families fall apart and come together and stay together for the wrong reasons and drift aimlessly.
It's not a book about growing up, but the fifteen-year-old girl certainly does, right before our eyes.
Some books are about heavy subjects and they are hard to read because there is so much pain and darkness involved (Gillian Flynn's work comes to mind). This book is about heavy subjects, but they are presented in a light way that feels so real as to be completely tangible, but without being disrespectful or flippant.
Don't judge it by its cover. That cover is so silly and not reflective of the story at all.
PARENTAL ADVISORIES: Sex 2/5: One brief mention of one night of sex, no details, no actual sexiness. Pretty clinical, but it is blatantly sex and not "making out under the covers".
Violence 1/5: Brief, passing mention of forced abortions in generations passed.
Language 4/5: Probably a dozen swears throughout the entire book, half of those are f-bombs. Though they often use the phrase "f-bomb" rather than actually using the word.
Substance Abuses 3/5: Adults drink liquor off-screen. A character self-medicates with pain pills. A very minor teenaged character gets caught up in drugs and drinking.
I'm not sure if I'm better off having read the essays by Gaiman and Adams about how these books came to be. I feel like knowing Adams' story gives meI'm not sure if I'm better off having read the essays by Gaiman and Adams about how these books came to be. I feel like knowing Adams' story gives me insight into why the books are uneven, but then I'm not sure if that's a really great thing to know...
Whatever. These books are satire at its finest, even when the books themselves don't make a ton of sense.
PARENTAL ADVISORIES (For the overall series, since I didn't do reviews for the in-between books)
Sex 1/5: Vague allusions to personal relationships or to the existence of prostitutes.
Language 3/5: This one was really difficult. I think there are 3 f-bombs in the entire series (five books plus a short story), and maybe five other PG-level swears throughout the whole thing. So there's very, very, very little swearing, but when one does pop up, it's kind of a bad one.
Violence 2/5: It's all cartoony-spaceship kind of violence. No combat, no gore.
Substance Abuses 1/5: Some social drinking, mentions of hallucinogenic drugs. ...more
A blend of creepy an beautiful, a set of haunting tales that will leave you desperately wanting more and desperately wanting it to stop. An anthologyA blend of creepy an beautiful, a set of haunting tales that will leave you desperately wanting more and desperately wanting it to stop. An anthology filled with psychopaths, zombies, and horrifying fantasies, this is perfect set of short stories to keep you entertained, just five minutes at a time....more
I had a hard time deciding where to place this book on my shelves: I mean, obviously, there's a major historical element, as 90% of the book takes plaI had a hard time deciding where to place this book on my shelves: I mean, obviously, there's a major historical element, as 90% of the book takes place in the ante bellum South. But the main character is a modern black woman who travels back in time via a preternatual link she shares with a slave owner. Time travel would normally make a story science fiction automatically, right? But there's no feat of physics here, and the "science" mimics magic more than anything... and that's how I landed on "historical" and "fantasy" as the genre classification.
This is the second speculative fiction novel I've read in a row in which the speculative elements were so subtle that they were almost unnoticeable. The story is character-driven, full of beautiful prose that isn't usually found in spec fic at all. I want to call it a literary novel with minor speculative elements - though it often gets sold as science-fiction.
(Side note: black woman wrote and sold "science fiction" in the 1970s... why are we still dickering about with pen names and the whole "girls can't write sci-fi" nonsense at cons???)
Back to this book: It was beautiful. Poignant, powerful, and just gorgeously written. The protagonist, Dana, is strong with being a Strong Female Character. She just... is. She knows what is right and what she is entitled to, but she has limits and the story pushes her to those limits over and over again.
I also love how... confused? Is that the right word? Maybe conflicted is better... I love how conflicted she was about her place and her position in the slave-holding South. She knew it was wrong, but she understood how easy it was to be manipulated, coerced, and forced to do things you knew were wrong. So powerfully presented.
Don't get me wrong - this wasn't a "Gone with the Wind" sort of presentation of slavery. It was brutal, honest, and graphic. But it was also incredibly human. Lives were involved - not just statistics and faceless stories. I shed a lot of tears during this book.
I'm definitely going to pull some more books by this author, I want to see what else she has to say.
Violence 5/5: This was tough to rate. The violence isn't gory (like Goodkind or Martin), but it is horrific. Cold-blooded, vicious. Murder, suicide, hangings, whippings, beatings, casual violence. Multiple rapes happen off-screen.
Sex 1/5: One really, really vague reference to the fact that a man and wife missed each other and didn't get to sleep until late one night. Allusions to the fact that they were "practically living together" before they were married.
Language 4/5: Lots of uses of the N-word. All in a historical context, and the modern character discusses her displeasure of it repeatedly, but still. It's a lot. A handful of lesser words, and the B-word is tossed about several times too.
Substance Abuses 1/5: A character gets drunk once. Whiskey is passed around at a party.
I can't get over how this book has shifted my entire idea of what a novel can be.
The structure? Incredible. I didn't full grasp how incrMind. Blown.
I can't get over how this book has shifted my entire idea of what a novel can be.
The structure? Incredible. I didn't full grasp how incredible it was until I passed the halfway point, but when I really got it, WOW. I literally stared at the page, dumbfounded.
The voicing? Phenomenal. George RR Martin (whom I have long held as the expert in character voicing) should weep at David Mitchell's feet. Yes, there are a few "tricks" being used to convey these voices, but they're so well-executed I just don't care.
The prose? Ineffable. I'm going to buy a copy and just highlight it and flag it to death.
I did get a little bogged down in the first half of the middle section (there are eleven sections), but the second half of that section made up for it, and then the rest of the book completely overshadowed that minor hiccup.
Beautiful. Poignant. Crazy.
Sex 2/5: Polite allusions to the fact that people do, in fact, have sex. Reading the parental advisories for the movie, I was stunned. Apparently this sentence: "Our sex was joyless, graceless, and necessarily improvised, but it was an act of the living." (that's literally the entirety of the "sex scene") was turned into a full-blown sex scene with gratuitous nudity. So there's that.
Violence 3/5: Some gunshots, a pretty complicated assassination plot, and a murder. None of it is gory, it's all actually kind of bare.
Language 4/5: A very little usage of all the words. I'm pretty sure the f-word is only used by one character, though he uses is several times. The language is not pervasive, and I think nine out of the eleven sections have no foul language at all.
Substance Abuses 3/5: Some wine with dinners, ale and rum drunk by sailors, and cigarettes. ...more
There is absolutely no question that this author knows how to write a clean romance. The emotions behind the love story were equal parts adorable andThere is absolutely no question that this author knows how to write a clean romance. The emotions behind the love story were equal parts adorable and smoldering, with only one (two? maybe?) real kiss in the whole thing.
There's a reason I just don't read romance novels in general, and it's because they all have the same things:
- A protagonist who is clever, witty, and intelligent. Just ask her. She'll also tell you how everyone around her is stupid, dull, dim-witted, and lacking in conversational skills.
- An intelligent protagonist who goes on to be incredibly stupid for most of the book.
- A scene where a woman looks at something and says "Isn't it beautiful" and the man with her says "Yes it is" but he's looking at her instead of whatever she's looking at. Or, if it's EDENBROOKE, there are three of these scenes.
- Approximately forty cumulative pages of "I am so ugly, why would any man want me? Waaahhhh." 90% of the time, there's another twenty cumulative pages of "My best friend is so much prettier than me. Waaaaaaahhhhh." (sometimes best friend = sister)
- A miscommunication that is poorly explained (at best). Nobody ever asks for more clarification after the poor explanation. "Huh. That doesn't make a ton of sense, but since I want it to be true, OKAY!"
None of this is the fault of the author, it's just the truth of the genre, and it's why I don't read it often: these things bug me more than the tropes of other genres do.
PARENTAL ADVISORIES Sex 2/5: Discussion of a ruined reputation, allusions to how a reputation could get ruined, a kiss, discussions about kissing.
Violence 3/5: A man is shot. A rape is threatened. A swordfight happens off-screen and no one gets killed in it.
Friendly advice: Re-read VARIANT before reading this one. Wells gives us no preamble, no reminders of where we were or what we were doing, he just jumFriendly advice: Re-read VARIANT before reading this one. Wells gives us no preamble, no reminders of where we were or what we were doing, he just jumps into the action. It's good in a lot of ways (who doesn't get annoyed by the repetitive nature of those reminders?), but it also means you'll get lost if you don't give yourself a refresher.
I like this book, I like this series, but I'm struggling to write a fair review because I just started BLACKOUT (same author, different story/world) and I love it. So it's not really fair to FEEDBACK that it's being compared with something else so amazing.
This book delivers exactly what you're looking for: fast-paced young adult science fiction. Lots of action, lots of tension. I like that our hero is a smart kid, not an idiot who happens to fall butt-first into doing things right.
PARENTAL ADVISORIES: Violence 4/5: This one is more violent than the first. The first one was almost exclusively robot violence (or at least we thought so). This one features some pretty grizzly person-on-person violence, including a beating so severe it made me cringe, even though it was mostly off-screen.
Sex 0/5: Some teen kissing and hand holding.
Language 2/5: A good smattering of PG-swears and I think there was a sh--. I'm not 100% sure, though. Sorry.