The cover's so pretty. There, I've got that out of the way. ;)
I've read Cassandra Clare's other books recently, the first three in The Mortal Instrume...moreThe cover's so pretty. There, I've got that out of the way. ;)
I've read Cassandra Clare's other books recently, the first three in The Mortal Instruments series. I actually waited to read this one so I could read those three first, just so I would be like everyone else who read her books in the same order. I almost wonder what my perception would've been not reading those three first, if I'd waited those two years for the rest of The Infernal Devices.
Tessa Grey heads for Victorian London to find her brother Nate only to be kidnapped by a pair of creepy sisters. It's there she learns she's not exactly human but a Downworlder, one of the warlocks, werewolves, vampires or other supernatural beings that wander through the streets. She can change into another person, living or dead, as long as she's holding onto something that belongs to them. And, of course, someone wants her because of this power.
Then she gets saved by Will and is introduced to the Shadowhunters while getting mixed up in a new evil plot to take over London (and quite possibly the world).
I liked this one a little more than The Mortal Instruments books for possibly one reason: it's set in Victorian London. I love this time period. It was England at possibly its best: industry was booming, population was booming, science and technology was growing, the high-class social scene (the ton) was gorgeous, and literature was great. The small part of my literary brain that loves Victorian literature loved the quick book dropping of Lady Audley's Secret by Mary Elizabeth Braddon (only because I read it while getting my B.A.). I need to read more Victorian lit.
The clockwork/steampunk-ish addition was funky and cool. This is a time of technology and practicality, people were figuring out how things worked and how to create bigger and better machines. Evolution was new and controversial, but some grabbed hold of it and loved it. Who needs magic or religion when there's no explanation for it? (This is more of the Victorian scholar in me talking.)
And the love/like triangle. Tessa's a little meek and confused and lost, but I like it, and she's drawn to both Will, someone ballsy and opinionated and possibly more than a little reckless, and Jem, someone quieter and kinder and more fragile. I can't pick a side like so many other fans have. I don't know who Tessa should end up with. The ending confused me a little, (spoiler so I won't say), but it also made me want to go back and read the book again. Which I can't right now (December 9, 2010) because I borrowed the book from the library. I will get my own copy one day.
There were lots of similarities between this book and the other series: the girls being mostly the main focus and the fact that they're totally clueless to Shadowhunters and Downworlders and everything else, the love triangle, the brother as a factor, the last names, the in charge mother figure, the vaguely angry girl who's a Shadowhunter, the running around and being captured/kidnapped, the evil guy wanting to take over. I wasn't surprised by it because the differences balanced it out for me: the setting, the fact that Tessa isn't a Shadowhunter while Clary is, the clockwork machines instead of the Circle (man and machine instead of magic and power). I imagine there were some readers who thought it was pretty much the same book all over again, but the familiarity of the previous three books didn't take away anything for me. It was the same but different. That's why I read series more often than stand-alone novels.
And I loved the "return" of Magnus Bane. ;)
And Tessa's little clockwork angel necklace. So cute. I want one. And it's so going to mean something later on, I just know it.(less)
This seems to be the fall/winter where I read a lot of contemporary YA. Not that I'm complaining or anything. I've been enjoying it. :)
Plus, I'm conti...moreThis seems to be the fall/winter where I read a lot of contemporary YA. Not that I'm complaining or anything. I've been enjoying it. :)
Plus, I'm continuing my trend of reviewing books that haven't gotten a lot of publicity and aren't that well known, which sucks for the author because the book's really good.
So, Drea has to move to Bellingham with her single mom to live with their grandmother, which sucks. Plus, she's got issues, some of which might be ADHD and "a little bit of Asperger's." She's not perfect, but who is? And then there's her love of music and sound editing (which I think is really cool).
She meets Naomi and Justin, forms a band, and then is forced to deal with the rougher side of life when all she wants to do is run and hide behind her sound equipment.
I was surprised that I loved this book so much. I mean, I don't read books unless they interest me, so I figured I was going to like it, but it was so much better than I expected.
Drea's coping with the Asperger's and the ADHD didn't overshadow the plot and other characters, which was good. It's not about her and her problems, but more about her learning how to cope in a world that isn't perfect, that might chew you up and spit you out, leaving you to regain control over your life. The curve balls thrown her way keep piling up: Naomi and her questionable choices, Justin's surprising interest in her, her mother and the cavalier way she gets involved with all the wrong men, her grandmother's bitterness.
I was surprised at the grit and the realism in this book. The alcohol, the drugs, the car races, the bullying, the cops and crime, the overdose, the teen sex. I think contemporary YA needs the realism to be compelling. If it's not realistic, if it doesn't cover the good and the bad of life, then it's more like outrageous fantasy. The grit in this book surprised me a little, I wasn't expecting it, but it made the book.
What's YA without a little romance? ;) There's a couple different situations where romance starts: the main character gets together with their crush, or the main character gets surprised by someone who has a crush on them. What happens to Drea is the latter. She meets Justin, thinks he's weird and annoying, but he's drawn to her and her offbeat unique ways. I don't want to say adorable, but it's adorable, in a realistic teens mature enough to have sex after facing trouble and hardship way.
In short, go read this book. It's a great debut, like Mindi Scott's Freefall (hi, Mindi). It's on my Christmas list because the copy I read is from the library. I want my own copy. Proof that it's a great book, right?? ;)(less)
It's my first time reviewing a book I got through the S&S Galley Grab. Whoa. And it's the first time I read a book about a month before the releas...moreIt's my first time reviewing a book I got through the S&S Galley Grab. Whoa. And it's the first time I read a book about a month before the release date. It was a bit weird at first. (If you haven't read White Cat yet, don't read this review because there are spoilers. I don't think there are any Red Glove spoilers.)
The second in Holly Black's Curse Workers series, Red Glove provides just as much intrigue, teen angst/confusion, and film noir mobster feel as its predecessor White Cat. Cassel Sharpe is attempting to get his life back on the normal track it was before his mother got out of jail, before he saved his brothers from mobster retribution, and before he realized he hadn't killed his best friend Lila Zacharov (a mobster's daughter) and had turned her into a cat instead. As a transformation worker, his life's a bit sticky, and it's about to get even stickier when he tries to mix being a worker with a normal life. Unfortunately for Cassel, the normal track soon veers off in the wrong direction when he's approached by not one but two sides of the law and both want his unique abilities. A choice has to be made, and if he wants to get out alive, he'll have to pull off the biggest con of his life.
This book was awesome. It had a way of sucking me in, bringing me straight back to Cassel's world after his mom worked Lila at the end of White Cat. Everything is still messed up, sort of, but he's trying to get back to the as-close-to-normal he had before his memories came back to him. And now Lila's back, drawing him to her, pulling him in, pushing him away. Then Zacharov wants him to take part in the less-than-legal mobster lifestyle while the FBI are trying to draw him in with some pretty strong leverage.
Cassel's caught again between right and wrong, good and bad, life and death, or maybe life and prison. Little chunks of good times are all he's allowed before he's pulled back in by both sides, before both arms get tugged on from different directions.
The fantasy magical element of the workers and their different abilities is wicked cool. It's almost how I wish life could be, without the possible evil. ;) And Holly Black does an excellent job of revealing the consequences of such an ability. Not just the blowback Cassel experiences, but the whole legal side of the novel. Magic doesn't make the world right, you still need to make certain choices. It's up to you to figure out which choices you make and to decide which side you want to be on.
I haven't been exposed to much film noir and 1920's gangster-style books or movies, but this novel had a way of getting my attention. The sense of class and style mixed with cynicism and morality is interesting, and when Holly Black introduces it to the world she's created, it's almost hypnotic.
While reading Red Glove I was continually overwhelmed and thoroughly creeped out by the film noir style, the dangerous gangsters who very rarely take no for an answer, and the intriguing twists and spirals Cassel falls into. His world, his family, and his life are far from perfect, and he's got to work his way through it all. It's the only way he'll survive.(less)
When Patrick is found near death, strung up to a gas pump, Cat emerges from a kind of self-imposed exile to avenge the hate crime committed on her for...moreWhen Patrick is found near death, strung up to a gas pump, Cat emerges from a kind of self-imposed exile to avenge the hate crime committed on her former best friend. The local sheriff is ready to pin it on gay-bashing out of towners, but Cat isn't so sure. Despite warnings to leave it be, she finds the will to expose the homegrown hatred that gave rise to Patrick's attack.
Lauren Myracle breaks down readers with this book, giving them gorgeous prose mixed with a heart-breaking and compelling mystery. This sheds light on the dark side of a small town, on the hate, bigotry, and fear than runs under the God-fearing, the proper quiet, and the sweet tea. This novel is unforgettable. Its story, its characters, and its unflinching message will never leave you.
Now, I will say that I read this book after the National Book Award nomination confusion, but I wish I'd picked it up before. I wish I'd been strong enough to read it on its own merit and not because of a mistake made and only half-solved. That being said, I found this book to be so moving, so real, so frightening. I can only hope that the attention, positive or negative, will shed more light on this book in order to attract more readers.
This book is an exploration of guilt, of loss, of fear, but also about courage and survival. And love. One thing is abundantly clear: even when there is hate in the world, there is also love. And love cannot be struck down.
I was surprised at how real the setting was, how I could hear the wind, imagine the lonely streets, see Cat walking alone to Patrick's house when he's in the hospital. The realism is staggering, the town like it had been plucked from the American South and stuck into this book. And the people, the God-fearing old ladies, the drug addicts, the young girls and their lack of innocence, the recklessness of young boys but almost men. The people a small town like this creates are so powerful.
Cat's journey to discover what happened to Patrick shows such courage, even when her own personal demons still haunt her every step, her every movement towards the truth. There are so many times when anyone else would stop, when they would back down and wait for their friend to get better without learning the truth, but Cat soldiers on. She knows better than to turn her back on Patrick and the horrific hate crime committed against him.
A powerful book about fear, hatred, silence, and the unwavering strength and courage it takes to break through that wall. If you aren't moved by this story, then you are surely made out of stronger stuff than I am. Than so many other readers that welcomed this book into their lives.(less)