I read this book on a recommendation because I was momentarily overwhelmed with a project list and life events. I was remarkably un-impressed.
A caveaI read this book on a recommendation because I was momentarily overwhelmed with a project list and life events. I was remarkably un-impressed.
A caveat: There are two types of books for which I have no use. Those are business books, and self-help books. This is a business self-help book, so...there was little chance that I would receive it well.
That said, there are objective reasons for my dislike. First of all, this is a sluggish read. Allen's style is difficult to follow, and extremely repetitive. I found my own organizational system to already include several of his more practical components (not difficult considering how simple those components are), only in different forms or combinations. That, I think, is one of the primary detractors for me: Adopting someone else's organizational system has never been met with success in my own experience. I've spent a good amount of time honing my own system through college, grad school, and professional life, and I've found two things: 1. It's dependent on my personality and understanding how my own brain works, and 2. It fluctuates depending on life circumstances (i.e.: everything that worked in undergrad doesn't work the same now, and the system needs to be changed periodically).
Allen's system is incredibly prescriptive and, despite his claims as to its flexibility, remarkably inflexible.
My second profound disagreement with Allen is a philosophical one. He writes with the assumption that no time should ever be spent with nothing to do. He contends that one's system should include something that can be done whenever there is a free moment waiting in line, waiting for someone else to show up...whenever. Granted, his target audience is the stereotypical executive who is driven by numbers and for whom being constantly busy is seen as some sort of achievement. Creatives, though, understand that time spent doing nothing and not focusing on any task is often when the best inspiration for something new arrives, or when the problem that's been nagging on a project is suddenly solved because your brain has had time to process things. This says nothing of research showing how un-healthy and detrimental to one's attention span it is to never permit one's mind to wander aimlessly.
I also find it a bit counter-productive to invest the time in struggling to finish this book when I, in fact, have many other projects that require my attention.
I'm very much in favor of having a good system of organization. I understand competing priorities, and how easy it is for anything not recorded in the proper place to get lost. I also recognize that not everyone can necessarily formulate their own system, and may need some coaching. Allen's system, though, isn't it. This book promises much and delivers little. It's a waste of time that you likely can't afford if you're considering reading. ...more
While I respect the genre of YA, it's generally not my flavor of fiction. I could the number of YA novels that I've read on one hand. This one grabbedWhile I respect the genre of YA, it's generally not my flavor of fiction. I could the number of YA novels that I've read on one hand. This one grabbed my attention, however, because I am a long-time fan and reader of the Black Widow. She's simply one of my favorite characters in comic book literature, and, for that reason, I thought that this novel just could be the first YA piece that I've ever really liked.
I'll say up front that, having read very little (almost no) YA in the past, I really can't speak to its genre conventions. To that end, I'm not certain how much of what bothered me about this book falls within those conventions. The romantic sub-plot, the strong teenage characters coming of age to grab their own destiny...all felt forced to me, but I suspect that this is simply because I am not familiar with how YA works, so I really can't speak against them based on my limited knowledge.
What was certainly disappointing to me was the fact that Natasha's character is really never permitted to shine in the way that she has the potential to do. To the contrary, the character feels flat and stereotypical throughout. There's a danger of this anytime a major character is written exclusively through the eyes of a different protagonist, so, to Stohl's credit, she was attempting a task that can be nearly insurmountable (I'm not sure I've seen it done well since Ian Fleming wrote the "Spy Who Loved Me"). Still, more care could have been taken.
That care likely could have began with not weaving a such a wildly adventurous and non-canonical integration of our protagonist, Ava, into the Black Widow's life. Her relationship to Natasha Romanoff is so different as to almost feel like a retcon, or at least is connected to a part of the Black Widow's history that I have never read (and I've read a lot). Part of this has to do with weaving in characters from the Avengers films, and I'm not really certain if Stohl was attempting to capture the film universe of the comic book universe. Perhaps a retcon was exactly the intention here, but, if so, I missed it.
Stohl's prose is succinct, at times too staccato, especially when there is action or combat. Of course, this is both a superhero adventure and a spy thriller, so there is plenty of action and combat, and those moments are difficult to digest, spinning out of control in my mind's eye as I attempt to follow what's occurring. Again, there's no easy way to write these sequences, but, when done well, they're normally more cohesive than this.
Overall, I was very underwhelmed by this book, primarily because I feel like more care was taken with Ava than with Natasha Romanoff, when both characters deserved equally considerate handling. The idea is a really good one, and I would be fascinated to see Natasha Romanoff through another character's eyes, if only the idea were executed better.
Or, perhaps not in the YA genre. But that's just me. ...more
Everyone seems to have left glowing reviews for this, but I found it to be quite underwhelming, especially considering the level of writing we're usedEveryone seems to have left glowing reviews for this, but I found it to be quite underwhelming, especially considering the level of writing we're used to seeing from Geoff Johns. Aquaman's ridicule by the public seems like a forced plot point, almost incidental even though it is meant to drive the story. We're introduced to a nameless, generic foe that is no real test for any hero, and are to believe that Aquaman is incredible for facing it. The explanations of Aquaman's past should leave us with a sense of who he is, but I feel as though I've barely been introduced to the character at the conclusion of this volume. Mera could have added a great deal to the story, but her character falls flat and feels like a pressured new version of Wonder Woman.
I wanted to be impressed by this, and the first few pages seemed to hold much promise. The potential was never realized. I wonder if perhaps poor editorial decisions squashed Johns craft? In any case, this is the least compelling offering from the first New 52 story arcs. ...more