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.
Meandering flashbacks that are meant to look equally meaningful so you can't tell the red herrings from the real clues, but which are mostly justMeh.
Meandering flashbacks that are meant to look equally meaningful so you can't tell the red herrings from the real clues, but which are mostly just boring. By the time I figured out who the killer was (sometime just before the halfway mark), I started skimming a lot.
There are books that are dark and difficult to read because they reveal something about ourselves. Toni Morrison and Khaled Hosseini come to mind. And then there are books that are dark and difficult to read because the author writes really effed up characters with nothing redeeming or likeable. Gillian Flynn is one of those writers.
GONE GIRL worked a little better for me because it was genuinely surprising in some places, but even that book fell flat. Without the element of surprise, this book fell even flatter. Splat.
Violence 5/5: Two young girls are murdered. Self-harm is glorified. Rape is dismissed as "bad decisions" (and this statement is made by the rape victim herself). Child abuse is common and unremarkable.
Sex 4/5: Teens behave very provocatively, discussing their sex lives very frankly. Two scenes of clinical, unsexy sex between consenting adults. Other sex acts are briefly mentioned.
Language 5/5: Pervasive. Lots of everything.
Substance Abuses 5/5: Drugs are used by two of the main characters and most of the minor characters. Prescription drug abuse. Illicit narcotics. I'm not sure there's a single scene in which the narrator is not drunk or drinking her way to being drunk. ...more
Reasons people said they hated this book: - Horrible people serving as the main characters. - A terrible ending. - An awful reThree and a half stars.
Reasons people said they hated this book: - Horrible people serving as the main characters. - A terrible ending. - An awful representation of our culture and society. - Poorly written.
I agree with all of them except the last. I think the writing was good, though her backstory rambles were way too rambly and not pertinent to story at hand.
Reasons people said they loved this book: - Twisty plot. - Lots of surprises. - Fast paced and easy to get through quickly.
And I agree with all of those, too.
I'm not one who is often surprised by "twists" in plots; it's part of why I hate reading mysteries - nothing catches me off-guard and so mysteries and plot twists usually fall flat for me. But I have to admit, this one caught me. I was surprised, the one big one in the middle, totally got me. Kudos on that.
I was enjoying the book (recognizing, of course, that these are horrible, horrible people) all the way up until the last twenty pages or so. Then it was a big whomp-whomp in every conceivable way. There was a huge emotional build-up that was deflated at the last minute. A psychological game that sort of flopped and withered. Several characters acted out of character to justify a quick-wrap up to a story that didn't feel wrapped up at all, but yet was closed to a point where it didn't feel like there could be a sequel.
I've heard the ending was re-written for the movie, and so I'll be interested to see what happens for the movie.
So the three and a half stars shake out like this: Five stars for storytelling, four for enjoyability, zero for the ending. Zero.
PARENTAL ADVISORIES: (I'm hiding this under a spoiler tag - if you don't want to be spoiled, know that this book would be R-rated if it was a movie, no questions about it, this is not for your kids or probably even your teens to read.) (view spoiler)[ Sex 4/5: It's not an erotica/romance novel, so the sex isn't graphic or arousing, but it's common. Affairs, manipulative sex, casual references to oral and anal and porn and masturbation.
Language 5/5: The swearing is so pervasive it borders on "I don't think you're using that word right" a lot of times.
Violence 4/5: Murder in all its forms: accidental, fantasized about, real, imagined, whatever. Knife fights and domestic violence and suicide. Rape is talked about, but we never see it happen. It's not gory, it's pretty clinical, but it's a common theme, too.
Substance Abuses 4/5: Lots and lots of self-medicating. Lots of drinking, both socially and not-socially. Prescription abuse, drug use, discussion of the city's drug problem. (hide spoiler)]["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"]>...more
I wanted to love this, I really did. I loved the Mistborn world so so so so so much, and the only thing that sullied that series was theMeehhhhhhhh.
I wanted to love this, I really did. I loved the Mistborn world so so so so so much, and the only thing that sullied that series was the ending (that I still can't think of a way to fix and I really just need to learn to let it go already), so I thought a book in the same world would be perfect.
But it's not. Mostly, I think the silly names for things grated on my nerves. Mr. Hundredlives is basically immortal. Get it? Hundredlives?
The magic system was described in detail at least six times, and I figured out how the hero's team was going to win super early on.
The story was fun and if you don't get annoyed by little things, it's probably awesome.
Sex 1/5: Victorian-era-style discussions on affairs and a female character being "pure".
Violence 4/5: Lots and lots and lots of gunfighting. No gore. But lots of people die. Like... a lot.
Language 2/5: A hefty sprinkling of hells and damns.