So WOW! That was my initial reaction after I closed the book. I didn't read any reviews before I read this one. I have actually never read any of SusaSo WOW! That was my initial reaction after I closed the book. I didn't read any reviews before I read this one. I have actually never read any of Susan Dennard's Something Strange and Deadly series even though I've seen her at signings and had my books signed. She is a delightful person and very warm and friendly. But we know, just because someone has a great personality and can entertain in person doesn't mean they can write. Right? No worries, she can write! I am pretty sure her first series proved that but honestly I'm too lazy to look it up. And I will read it, one day. Sooner rather than later based on this book.
For some reason, I have had trouble writing this review. I read it a few weeks ago and thought some time away from it would help but it hasn't. Usually, that means that I really, really enjoyed the book. So, my best attempt is just going to list out what I loved about the book and why.
First this book has all the fantasy elements I love. A completely made up world with forbidden magic and magical creatures. Witches! My favorite (well maybe along with Fairies). But I LOVE witches and there are so many different types of powers and strengths of powers. There are political struggles at court, pirates, kidnappings, and a fearsome and chilling villain called a Bloodwitch that still scares me. He is ruthless and unstoppable, seriously, bad witch. There are rich countries who have bullied poorer countries and a poor prince who is just trying to do the right thing. A secret society of monks and an even more secret prophecy. And two young women who just want to run away and live free.
The characters, the main ones are Safiya, Safi for short and Iseult. Safi is what is known as a Truthwitch, a rare type of witch and one that would either be used for political gain or killed so someone can't use her. For this reason her power has been kept secret. Iseult is a Threadwitch, she can see the threads, the futures of others, but it isn't exact. Her race is looked down upon, actually she experiences fierce racism, insults, spitting, cursing (actual curses) as soon as someone recognizes her from her pale skin and dark hair. I wasn't quite clear if it was because of what she could do ( most Threadwitches can cast spells, but Iseult has no such power) or if it was simply because of her race. Her family was described like they were part of a wandering tribe, perhaps they had no homeland. I wasn't clear on that.
The bond between Safi and Iseult is like nothing I've seen, it's stronger than any sisters and any lovers. The characters are both warm in their own way. Safi is easier to know because she is impulsive and loud. She can talk herself out of most situations. Iseult is quieter, the thinker and planner and slow to make herself known, the cleanup person. She lets her sword skills do her talking only if Safi needs help. The chapters that are from Safi or Iseult's point of view made me warm to them almost immediately seeing how they would die for each other. They are definitely a team, one doesn't really function as well without the other so wherever they end up, it will have to be together. I just see them withering without one another. They don't think of themselves at all or the trouble they are currently in, it is always for the other one. Safi never feels herself above Iseult even though she is actually close to royalty and Iseult is almost an outcast because of her race, if not for Safi. As later characters come into the story, I was able to get a picture of how others saw them. Its an interesting way to develop a character, but it worked really well. The slurs and insults hurled at Iseult were quite jarring when I knew just how far she would go for her friend, I knew her as a person and didn't even really understand what she looked like until the slurs started. Then I thought "if they only knew what she's done..." And isn't that just as true today?? Judged by looks before we even know who a person is.
Both of them are educated and skilled at sword and knife fighting. They do not need to be rescued by any men, they are equal to or better than most of the men in the book. Before their troubles started in the book, the women had plans to run off and find a place where they could live together and be free of their impending futures. They are Threadsisters, best friends, soul sisters.
There is another character that comes in later that becomes a main character, Prince Merik. He is young, as young as Safi and Iseult. He is a Windwitch, a useful power as he is Commander of the Navy of his country, but it has little power behind the title. His country was ravaged in the last war, the soil and water poisoned by Earth and Water Witches when the larger countries turned on his small country. He is desperate to make some kind of trade agreement with anyone in the capital city and strikes a deal that puts his destiny in the direct path of Safi's and Iseult's because they come as a pair. I like Merik. He appears strong and self assured. But when we read chapters from his point of view, we see that he is just as unsure of himself as Safi or even more so. He's trying to do the right thing, by everyone. The relationship between him and whoever, is very slow to develop. It is very much in the back of the storyline, but just enough to make me happy.
The pacing of the story is fast, there isn't a lot of down time. I like that because the book is 400 pages. The writing is succinct. It isn't complicated. The story is very sophisticated so that you have to pay attention and any of that other stuff would get in the way. Yes, there are words like Threadbrother and Threadsister that we don't know immediately what they are but you should be able to understand it from the context. I like made up language in stories as long as I can figure out what it means. It goes along with the made up world. There should be made up language, powers, people, monsters and countries in a good fantasy.
Susan Dennard could have left everything happy and in a good place at the end of the book, but she chose a different kind of ending. It isn't sad or a cliffhanger. But let's just say everyone isn't happy. I doubt it will remain that way for long when the next book opens given the pacing of this book. I'm satisfied with the ending but you have to read to the very last sentence to get to that point. Don't cheat either. You'll deprive yourself of all the fun of getting there!
This is a sweeping fantasy-epic if I may say. Great characters with strong female bonds. A slow building romance (truce at this point). And a lot at stake for Safi, Merik and Iseult. I'm eager for the next book in the series! Highly recommended!
There is some violence in this book but not very graphic. No sexual content. No profanity. ...more
**spoiler alert** Of course, just because they survived the first book doesn't mean they will survive The Infinite Sea which, by the way is metaphoric**spoiler alert** Of course, just because they survived the first book doesn't mean they will survive The Infinite Sea which, by the way is metaphorical. There is no great rush of water over the lands that wipes everything else out and survivors are living on canoes and kayaks. No still hobbling along in abandoned buildings and forests. But we find that the aliens are even more insidious than we were led to believe. Oh, the crushing blows that deals and the almost complete helpless and hopelessness it shoves in our faces, it drives home. Nothing can save us, not even our humanity.
The Infinite Sea is mainly Ringer's story and we find out how she fared in the early part of the alien assault on earth. She wasn't doing great before they arrived so she's traded one kind of harsh existence for another. We also see the backgrounds of Poundcake, the boy that never speaks and we can understand why. The devastation again, wreaked by the aliens is complete. Not just wreaking havoc on the planet, but the people. Not just killing them, but killing their will to fight, their reason to go on. With each death they are more and more evil. Think the devil times a hundred because only he would think using the most innocent among us against us.
I've seen a lot of people say this second book was a sophomore slump or that it didn't move the story line along. I don't see how they can say that. It just build deeper and deeper on the despair and betrayal again and again. Just when you believe the story couldn't twist anymore, that you know who the bad guy is, a brick hits you in the side of the head and you wake up to see what was there all the time but you just didn't want to see it. The other characters, Poundcake, Dumbo, Cassie, Zombie, Sam and Teacup all have their own parts to play in this story but they take a backseat for the most part to Ringer's story. She is the focal point, the battle between her and Vosch. Ringer is tough, so tough and I knew I liked her. I'm just hoping she can keep her hard edge. I don't see where the series is headed at this point. Last Star....sounds ominous to me. Is Earth the last viable planet? I'm not sure what the aliens really want. And how the hell are the survivors going to find out? And please someone kill Vosch. Put a bullet between his eyes. Someone please. He has got to die!!
Again excellent succinct storytelling. A lot of violence but I don't see anything a mature 10 and up couldn't read. You know they're gonna go see the movie. Though you might want to read the prologue before you give it to your children. Maybe your sensitive children would have a difficult time with how the young (real young) children are being used. I had a hard time with it and I'm a grown adult. But kids these days, maybe they just write it off as fiction. I still highly recommend it!...more
**spoiler alert** So, if you haven't heard anything about this one be warned, it is not an easy read. It's a very intimate story of a school massacre,**spoiler alert** So, if you haven't heard anything about this one be warned, it is not an easy read. It's a very intimate story of a school massacre, it is not a shooting. There are several narrators in the story and each one added something complex and valuable to the story except one, Claire. Every time I read her narrative she took me out of the story so that I ended up skipping her parts eventually. They added nothing to the story to me and actually made me think of her as a very self absorbed person.
I enjoyed the different perspectives. It kept the story interesting although honestly I don't know how you couldn't be interested in this story once you commit to reading about something like this. It's a hard decision to make. I have kids in school and I am a substitute teacher. There is an elementary school next door to me. This stuff scares the shit out of me. But I can't pretend it doesn't happen. So I took a chance on this one. And I think I picked the right book to take a chance on. It took me five hours to read this book without stopping for a sip of water or dinner or even to go to the bathroom. It was that good. The author does a great job of putting you right in that auditorium, but more importantly, in the heads of the narrators and what they are feeling. (except Claire, I just didn't connect with her).
The writing isn't cluttered by too many messy emotions. There are a few story lines going on but they don't tangle the main thread, there is a shooter in the auditorium, the entire school is in there and the doors are chained from the outside. Flashbacks show us what has happened to the various narrators to form their relationships and how they are connected to the shooter. There isn't a lot of focus on the aftermath or healing. This is strictly the terror of being in that auditorium, of being hunted down by the shooter. If you want police tactics and psychology and all that, this is not the book for you.
*****Spoilers below this line***** Now, a little more on Claire, she can't take a certain car because she can't deal with the fact of who used to own that car. So instead of taking the car to call for help she and a fellow runner take off running down the road to the nearest gas station. (Drama Queen) Claire gets a boyfriend during all of this while she is waiting to see if her brother is dead or alive. Just don't feel like that's appropriate during this situation. Claire also dated the shooter but broke up with him when he assaulted another girl at prom. Ding, ding, ding. She also knew he was getting beaten by his father. And then he quit school right after the prom. HELLO?????? Can you connect the dots? He quit school as a junior. They dated two years and she didn't think there might be something wrong??? This is where I think maybe some self reflection should have come in and she might have said, "Oh, maybe that out of character assault and the abuse and his sudden quitting of school are all connected." People always say there were no signs, there were signs. This part irks me, there were signs.
I will say that I read the e-galley and perhaps a few details have been cleaned up since then. I certainly hope so because Claire just doesn't stand up to the rest of the characters or the rest of the book. It is a finely written book and one that I would highly recommend on this subject. Just skip the Claire parts. ...more
**spoiler alert** Let's just start with the fact that I cut my YA teeth on Fallen by Lauren Kate. I was a newbie to this genre and I was browsing the**spoiler alert** Let's just start with the fact that I cut my YA teeth on Fallen by Lauren Kate. I was a newbie to this genre and I was browsing the very lean shelves when I saw that gorgeous cover of Luce. How could I pass that up? I was so tired of reading the same tired mysteries and I wasn't interested in other adult genres or Oprah's latest pick. I devoured that book and fell for the storyline instantly. But almost six years later.....it is a newbie story to my tastes now. I will always have a special place in my heart for Daniel and Luce's story, but let's face it, I didn't even read the last book, just the last few pages to see if I got my HEA.
Cam was never ever a factor for me but I was hoping to recapture some of that newbie magic. It didn't happen. Lauren Kate doesn't seem to have developed much as a writer from Daniel and Luce's story. Maybe she intended it to be very much like their story. The story though is weak and sappy. Bad boy Cam is so against his nature in this book, it's really hard to buy. And then, there is my biggest problem ***spoiler alert**** a rumor is spread that Cam's last girlfriend killed herself when she and Cam broke up. The kids at school and Lucille, the girl he is trying to win over, all shun him and blame him for this. This is an extreme no-no in my opinion. NEVER, EVER should a writer use this tactic to shun a character. If you have read my reviews in the past you know I get upset about the way mental illness is shown in books, but in YA? It's the worst! To blame someone for another person taking their life because they broke up? It wasn't a case of bullying or something like that. It was heartbreak and I don't believe we should start blaming people who become depressed and commit suicide.**** End of spoiler.
So, yes, I had a huge problem with that part of the book. However, Kate shows that appearance doesn't matter when it comes to love in the same book. Lucille never notices changes in Cam's appearance that others are grossed out by. So on one hand she's teaching the lesson that love is more than looks but on the other that it's okay to blame another person when a couple breaks up and one who needs help doesn't get it and commits suicide. There's a lot more to who it is that commits suicide but suffice it to say that this will not be on a favorite or even on my keep shelf.
Authors, please, I beg you, think about what you write. No you don't have to teach a lesson in your book but every time you perpetuate a misrepresentation or a lie about mental illness, you are contributing to the problem. And it sticks with your young and old readers. Stop it please! If you can't find something better to use than a tired misconception than blame the boyfriend for a girl's suicide then you need to go back to the well.
I gave this two stars on Goodreads. It is okay. But not really. I finished it because it was a mindless read for me and I could get through it. I did not have to think at all reading this it. Usually I want to be carried to another world when I read but this one didn't take me anywhere but out of my reluctance to write a review because I was so riled about the spoiler thing I wrote about. I think Lauren Kate is an okay writer, much better than this book.
I really don't recommend this one. If you are a die hard fan of Cam, you won't see him in this book. If you really must read it, go ahead. I don't have a rating bar for this one. So I'm leaving it off. ...more