Tell Me More: There's something about a book that doesn't mind taking its sweet time to grow on you. Maggie Stiefvater is an author that has always intrigued me, despite the fact that I did not enjoy her first series. There is a magical quality to her writing style and it gently encourages you to turn the page and let the story surround you. My experience reading The Scorpio Races was much like uncovering a dream so real, you could almost touch it, and The Raven Boys continues that trend splendidly.
Part of the reason I enjoy Stiefvater's most recent books is because I never know what I'll find. A girl who can see the dead? Standard YA fare, you might say. I can name a dozen books just like it. But ley lines? A group of boys on a quest which none of them really understand? A secret that must be guarded? It seems like a crazy mix of a story, but in Stiefvater's hands, all of these tropes take on new life. I was particularly interested in the points-of-view that Stiefvater chose to employ: they all insert a distance between the reader and the characters, which reinforces the dream-like quality of the story. The details she chooses to include are always on-point, as well, and I never felt like I was being told too much or too little about the setting.
And what a setting it is. From the first time we enter the cemetery with Blue to the monstrous 1136 Monmouth that houses Gansey and his friends, the locations set the tone of the story. There is a sense of uneasiness in every scene which helps to keep the mood of The Raven Boys suitably dark and eerie. I could put the book down at night and get back to it in the morning without feeling as though I'd lost the flow and feeling of the story--I couldn't stop thinking about what would happen next, and that's one of the best compliments I can offer as a reader.
The Final Say: Maggie Stiefvater's rich new paranormal series will ensure that you will never want to leave the side of The Raven Boys. Blue, Gansey and the rest of the gang will please readers looking for gorgeous prose and a challenging story.
Release Date: March 6, 2012 Publisher: Razorbill (Penguin) Age Group: Young Adult Pages: 4...moreYou can find this review and many more at Mermaid Vision Books!
Release Date: March 6, 2012 Publisher: Razorbill (Penguin) Age Group: Young Adult Pages: 408 Format: Hardcover Source: ARC received from publisher
Tell Me More: As a relatively new visitor to Bordertown, I thought I had a pretty decent idea of Charles de Lint's writing style. The rusty, gritty worlds he constructs are one of a kind, and yet they feel like neighborhoods we've all visited or seen. His characters are tough without falling into stereotypes, and unique enough to peak anyone's interest. In Under My Skin, de Lint brings his talent to the town of Santa Feliz, California, where Wildlings have begun to take over the population.
There are no complaints to be found when it comes to the prose--de Lint charges full-speed into a whirlwind of language. His descriptions of the town will make readers feel like they're breathing in that sea air, and the dialogue is snappy and fresh. The plot was certainly fascinating to watch unfold, even as I was able to predict what was going to happen in every chapter. If it were anyone else, I admit that I would have given up on such predictability, but I trusted that de Lint would make it a story worth reading.
I do question the necessity of dual perspectives in the novel, because it felt like a distracting concession to some readers' preference for knowing everything that happens in the story. I would have been content following Josh or Marina, but having both characters narrate some of the same scenes or overlapping scenes did get a bit tedious. This ties into my other problem with the novel: uneven pacing. Many of the urban fantasies I've read have a zip to their story, which keeps me from overanalyzing the piece and allows me to immerse myself in that world. There were moments in Under My Skin that were like watching a snail race--I couldn't wait to get to the next chapter and see some actual action. Josh and Marina were so real to me that when they got a little too whiny or difficult (as teenagers do), I did find it difficult to be as patient with them as I wanted to be.
Overall, there are about an equal number of pros and cons to the Wildlings series, which I believe will be better balanced in the succeeding books. More time with the universe de Lint has created may serve to clarify why these characters face the problems they do, and give the reader the chance to really fall in love with them.
The Final Say: Under My Skin is an explosive new addition to the YA urban fantasy spectrum, with shapeshifters that are more human than you might think. It is an excellent introduction to the genre and will delight supernatural fans all over the world.(less)
Release Date:April 3, 2012 Publisher: Simon Pulse Age Group: Young Adult Pages: 296 Format:...moreYou can find this review and many more at Mermaid Vision Books!
Release Date: April 3, 2012 Publisher: Simon Pulse Age Group: Young Adult Pages: 296 Format: Hardcover Source: ARC borrowed from blogger friend
Tell Me More: I've spent about two months thinking about this book and its ending, without any real satisfaction to be found. While I enjoyed the final installment of the Curse Workers series, I still find it lacking in many ways.
Holly Black is one of my favourite authors, and I am a great admirer of her writing style. The rough edges of her prose thrill me to no end and her books are--in my opinion--staples of urban fantasy literature for all ages. Most of her books combine character and plot to create organic stories, but the Curse Workers series is notable for how it's focused on characters, specifically Cassel Sharpe. While we are intrigued by Lila and her Mafia-esque family, it's clear that Cassel is the one to watch. As Black Heart opens, Cassel is heading toward an inevitable choice between the people he loves and doing the "right" thing. The stage has been set, but the players are still fumbling in the dark. While reading this book, I felt like I was blinded too--revelations come out of nowhere to slam Cassel's choices. It does feel as though you're just barely holding onto a speeding car. That said, I find myself questioning the pace because it doesn't allow the reader to come to terms with everything that's happening to Cassel and Lila.
Halfway through the book, I started to feel like I'd lost track of Cassel. His choices seemed erratic and his way of thinking wasn't the sharp (pardon the pun) wit I'd grown used to in the previous books. There was a weakness about him, a vulnerability that wasn't present in White Cat and Red Glove which intrigued me far more than the actual plot. Unfortunately, the length of the book constricted those new touches. He spends so much time being strong and trying to stay ahead of everyone else that the initial spark of Cassel Sharpe is lost in the background.
That is the reason why the ending rings hollow to me. I don't feel like that Cassel is the one I knew in previous books, despite arguments like "he's changed for the better!" A happy ending needs to be justified and while part of me is fangirling, the other half firmly believes that there needed to be more of an emotional growth to make the ending worth savouring. Very few of the major issues between Cassel and Lila are actually worked out, and even though Holly Black fixes some in realistic and believable ways, they can't possibly be enough to get the kids through the rest of their lives. I appreciated the sense of potential, of the future that lies ahead for both of them. That doesn't mean I think potential can make everything work.
To be fair, I did enjoy this book. It had the same dangerous flavour and witty exchanges that have become the Curse Worker hallmarks. I just wish there was more for Cassel than a ride into the sunset.
The Final Say: Holly Black will have you savouring every page of the final chapter in Cassel Sharpe's deadly world, and wishing there was much more of it to be had.(less)