It's not a masterpiece, not deep or thought provoking, but it's fun. Kate is a retired demon hunter, she has two children, a husband, a house and a ca...moreIt's not a masterpiece, not deep or thought provoking, but it's fun. Kate is a retired demon hunter, she has two children, a husband, a house and a cat. She hasn't hunted for 15 years, and isn't expecting to run into any demons in her kitchen. But life is funny sometimes. A bit heavy on the Catholic angle (versus something like Buffy, which has religion, mostly Christianity with a few others sprinkled here and there, but remains somewhat ambiguous throughout the show), but this doesn't detract from the story line. It isn't preachy, there isn't any "well, they weren't Catholic so they got what was coming to them" moments - Kate is only judgmental about demons and her daughter's idea of appropriate clothing.
Instead, what we find is a funny, smart, practical woman who has chosen to give up her career to raise her children (again, not preachy, it's just what she chose to do at the time) and finds herself dragged back into the dangerous, exciting life of a demon hunter. While trying to keep play dates for her toddler and give dating advice to her teenage daughter. And be a supportive spouse to her rising star husband. That last bit annoyed me a little at first, but it's made clear that Kate is a strong, capable woman who chose her life, and likes it just fine. She liked being a demon hunter, likes being a mother and wife, and is fully capable of doing/being both. Even if it makes her life complicated.
There were some genuinely funny moments, some knock-em-dead action sequences, some "roll your eyes because this is way too accurate" domestic scenes, as well a a nice red herring or two to keep the ending from being completely predictable. I look forward to reading more in this series. (less)
This was a book aimed at younger adult readers, so I'm tempted to go easier on the review, but probably won't. It's not very heavy on giving us a sens...moreThis was a book aimed at younger adult readers, so I'm tempted to go easier on the review, but probably won't. It's not very heavy on giving us a sensible plot and the character development is shaky, yet it was an enjoyable read. The Girl in the Steel Corset is steampunk, so the "historical" element is skewed with gear-heavy technology, but that is okay, as it lends a fantastical element to help drive the action. The setting is, of course, Victorian England, and the cultural niceties of that era are barely acknowledged as the characters break the rather stiff rules again and again without repercussion.
Imagine a steampunk version of Jane Austen meets the X-Men minus the nuance of Austin's snark or the leadership of Professor X. Elements of Buffy (without the vampires) also _kind of_ run through the story in the reflections of a young girl coming to terms with being more than human, and wanting nothing more than to be a normal girl. (I believe that Ms. Cross stated she wanted to make League of Extraordinary Gentlemen crossed with teem X-men, which she came close to accomplishing.) There are elements of classic Gothic literature thrown in, such as Frankenstein and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. These references are not only obvious, but outright mentioned in a hit-you-over-the-head-with-a-hammer kind of way. On the one hand, that's annoying - I get the references, they are quite obvious. On the other hand, this is where I need to remember this is aimed at teenagers, a lot of whom will never have heard of, much less read, either of those works. Perhaps if they enjoy this book, they will go on to read them.
The parts I liked: it is a fast read, Cross' prose flows relatively well with few major bumps, Finley Jayne is somewhat likable as a character, and the steampunk aspects are fun. There are signs that this series may improve with time, as the characters seem to be growing up a little - they are almost all in their teens or very early twenties, so there is plenty of room to show them maturing into adults. Also, I very much liked the prequel novella The Strange Case of Finley Jayne my review was much more favorable), and hope to see improvement in the next book.
That said, I will probably wait until the the book becomes cheap on Amazon, or find it at my local bookstore. (less)
I'm actually unsure how to classify this book, but sci fi, fantasy, mystery or some combination of all three genres, this is a fantastic read. Engagin...moreI'm actually unsure how to classify this book, but sci fi, fantasy, mystery or some combination of all three genres, this is a fantastic read. Engaging, mind twisting and thought-provoking, The City and The City will immerse you in the world(s) of Beszel and Ul Qoma. It's hard to write about this book as well, partly because it's difficult to summarize the complexity of two culturally distinct yet geographically concurrent cities and themes like "unseeing". But I highly recommend reading this book, China Mieville takes you into a familiar yet unfamiliar world where things you might do everyday may be important skills in this new land. However, don't expect a lot of answers! Yes, the murder mystery is solved, but long before you get that far it becomes an unimportant question and the real questions are much more complex and worrisome. Thoroughly enjoyable. (less)