Clockwork Princess is what happens when an author believes her own hype and decides she can do whatever and people will revert to the Emperor's New Cl...moreClockwork Princess is what happens when an author believes her own hype and decides she can do whatever and people will revert to the Emperor's New Clothes thinking of 'its wonderful, best.book.ever!!!!!' Sadly, seeing Cassie's reaction to people who didn't buy into that thinking regarding this book has pretty much ended any chance of me reading her future series which won't be a loss to her, but will at least save my own sanity.
I'm just disappointed - I truly loved this series, but I suppose when you have to churn out so much in such a short space of time and take a passive aggressive 'il'l show them' attitude regarding valid criticism from earlier books, that something does eventually give and with that, it was this book in general and the epilogue in particular. Shame but it is what it is.(less)
This was okay, but I can't help but be a little disappointed to be honest. It had definite middle book feel to it, and perhaps it was the lack of 'rea...moreThis was okay, but I can't help but be a little disappointed to be honest. It had definite middle book feel to it, and perhaps it was the lack of 'real' Jace, or Clary regressing to annoying Clary, or just everything, but I just didn't feel engaged at all. I was most excited about the various mentions of Will in it, to be honest (which were welcome, and without doubt the best part of the book. The excitement when Jace read from Will's copy of A Tale of Two Cities is indescribable.)
Isabelle was by far the best character in the book and continues to be everything I wish that the rest of Cassandra Clare's female characters would be. Maia and Jordan were wonderful and Magnus was Magnus, and therefore perfect. Apart from that though...Clary was irritating to the extreme, we only had two scenes with real Jace, Alec was an immature, irritant for the most part (which breaks my heart - I was actually glad Magnus broke up with him), Simon really doesn't deserve Izzy (although the Star Wars scene was perfect) and all in all, it was just too...easy. I'm hoping for more with COHF, because at the moment, I kinda fear that the whole thing has lost its spark.(less)
This book is pretty much perfect. I can't remember a time that I have been as emotionally devastated while reading the last third of a book. I actuall...moreThis book is pretty much perfect. I can't remember a time that I have been as emotionally devastated while reading the last third of a book. I actually had to take a break from it for a while because I was a sobbing mess. It's heartbreaking and you read it and wish that things that happen didn't have to happen, but this is the real world, and bad things happen like this every day.
The beauty of this book isn't even really in the strength of the main characters, although both are amazing (in particular Augustus who has catapulted himself near the top of my favourite character list) - the real strength in this book is the supporting characters. Characters like Hazel's and Augustus' parents, and Issac, and the characters within the book Hazel and Augustus love. Often secondary characters are weak and under-developed, but in this I felt like every character was given their moment of saying - this is who I am and I am more than a plot device. They felt like real people, which in a book like this, is exactly what they needed to be - because the tragedy of this book is that it is real and it affects more than just the protagonists.
It's just wonderful and I can't recommend it highly enough. I was a wreck afterwards, and thinking about small scenes still make me feel quite upset even now (view spoiler)[the scene where Gus goes to buy himself cigarettes and has to call Hazel for help still devastates me even a couple of days later. I don't know what it was about it - the fact that they had taken them off him, the fact that it was the point where he seemed to give up, or just the sheer agony of imagining while hoping desperately that you never have to experience that sheer feeling of hopelessness that he does. I don't know what it was about that scene, but I read it and had to put the book away for a day, just to try and steel myself for the ending. (hide spoiler)] It's heartbreaking, but it's perfect. Just, be prepared to shed tears...I find it hard to imagine that it is possible to read it without crying.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
I really dithered over whether to rate this four or five stars. In many ways it continues the excellence of Divergent, but I think the sheer number of...moreI really dithered over whether to rate this four or five stars. In many ways it continues the excellence of Divergent, but I think the sheer number of times I wanted to scream 'What are you doing???' to Tris probably means I have to deduct a star. Don't get me wrong - everything that was great about Tris in the first book is still there, but she does have her frustrating moments, in particular with her reluctance to talk to or trust Tobias/Four fully. Once or twice, fine - but repeatedly?
(view spoiler)[The scene where she promises him she won't hand herself over, and then goes and hands herself over was one of those scenes where you can understand on an emotional level what she thought she was doing was right - she was trying to save lives, but as a Divergent to three factions including Erudite surely she had to realise that her giving them access to her brain was potentially fatal to everyone anyway? I think that's the beauty of Tris though - she isn't perfect and she makes mistakes (and she makes a few of them in this book) but she learns from them, thankfully and grows. A lot of times it would have irritated me to see yet another self-sacrificing heroine, but this was based on more than her needing to be a hero. For much of the book she's fuelled by guilt and the need to atone for killing Will in the first book and Four tells her more than once that she has to start looking after herself and it takes her almost being killed in the compound for her to realise that. (hide spoiler)]
It was great to get some background on the factions and the amount of action was certainly welcome. Too often the 'middle' book is about getting characters in place for the finale, but this one actually managed to do that while telling a really good story and providing some action - more than I thought we would get. Mostly it was great to see the character growth that happened - everyone becomes more rounded and the emotional conflict feels believable. Four and Tris have their issues as a couple because they are rubbish at communication, Tris and Christina go through a lot of the book because of hurt feelings, there are lies and anger and emotions flying around all over the place and with every one of them, you could take away the setting from the book and apply it to any number of real situations. Who hasn't had a fight because they've kept something quiet? Who hasn't made a wrong choice, or felt guilty to the point of it becoming destructive? It's real feelings in a strange new setting and it is one of the strengths of this world.
All in all, it was a great book. I may go back in a couple of days and bump this up to a five, but for now I will say it's a 4.5. I just want word on when we can expect book 3 now! It can't come soon enough. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
I think what I found most enjoyable about this book was that for the first time, in what seems like ever, I read a YA book series and loved the main f...moreI think what I found most enjoyable about this book was that for the first time, in what seems like ever, I read a YA book series and loved the main female character. You get YA author's who like to pretend that they have these awesome, relatable, strong female character but who, in actuality, solely have identikit female 'heroine' who we're told is 'strong' and 'independent' but whose main character arc is 'will I make out with this boy, or that boy in this chapter?' For some authors it seems that the dreaded love triangle is the extent of their aspirations for their female characters - as though having a woman dithering and being fickle or manipulating the emotions of the male characters in their life is something to aspire to.
Veronica Roth, on the otherhand, has decided 'to hell with that' and actually bothered to make a female character who knows her own mind. She is strong, she is vulnerable, she is real and finally someone that I haven't wanted to strangle. She has a love interest (the forever wonderful Tobias/Four) but she is more that her love story and that is what is great about her. She makes a hard choice, she lives with it but she has moments of regret, moments of fear, moments of anger, moments of clarity - all these moments are what makes her a character that it's easy to root for. She's not beautiful, she doesn't have the emotions of ten men in the palm of her hand...she's not a caricature of a 'heroine' and that is a good thing.
I only read this because the second book was due out, and I'm sorry it took me so long to get around to it. It's definitely got some of the better YA characterisation around, and it's not only easy to read, but it's also engrossing. It left me with enough questions to make me desperate to read on, and not one of those questions had to do with 'oh, this book is missing a love triangle'...who knows, maybe other authors will catch on at one point. I won't hold my breath on that, but at least I will always have this as an indicator of how YA can be done without relying on over-used, bad plot devices.(less)
Until recently I didn't really read a lot of YA books, but after reading and loving Cassandra Clare's two series, I decided I should branch out. I was...moreUntil recently I didn't really read a lot of YA books, but after reading and loving Cassandra Clare's two series, I decided I should branch out. I was told this book was good, there were four books in it and it was different enough from the TMI/TID series that I wouldn't feel like I was just rehashing things.
What I enjoyed with this series was the fairie world and how science and everything is infiltrating the magical realms and corrupting it. The characters were all likeable, and although there is a few hints that there will be another YA love triangle, I didn't really mind because I don't think it's going to be a massive thing. I admit I don't read a lot of fantasy, so I don't know how the whole faerie thing measures up, but I really enjoyed it a lot and can't wait to read on.(less)
I can see what the author was trying to do with this book, and perhaps if I had read it at a different time, or was in a different mood, or re-read it...moreI can see what the author was trying to do with this book, and perhaps if I had read it at a different time, or was in a different mood, or re-read it again, I would get it more than I did on this reading. The book is split into three parts (as a child, as a man, a novelisation), with the author telling the story of his mother and her great love affair with a man who wasn't his father, and how that caused her all the issues he was aware of while growing up.
The first part of the book just takes too long to engage you, the second part is brief and the third part (the novel) is good, but I just didn't feel a lot of affection or a connection with the characters so the emotional conclusion just didn't affect me as much as it seemed to affect some people. I just didn't really care enough to be bothered. The third part of the book does effectively fill in the blanks of earlier in the book, but I just wonder if the story would have benefited from a less unorthodox style of telling the story.
It's well written (although a little flowery in places) and, as I said, I can see what he was trying to do, but for me he just didn't pull it off successfully.(less)
I wanted to love this book, I really did and I think my desperation to love it made me stick it out when I think, a lot of times, the frustration I fe...moreI wanted to love this book, I really did and I think my desperation to love it made me stick it out when I think, a lot of times, the frustration I felt would have caused me to abandon it for a few days. The premise is promising - a twenty something woman (Neve) is reinventing herself after losing a substantial amount of weight in preparation for her 'the one' (William) coming back into the country. He, unaware that she is literally half the woman she was when he seen her last, will then fall head over heels in love with her, they will go off and live Happily Ever After - The End. Of course, in order to be ready for the whirlwind which will be 'the One...yada yada yada...The End' she has to have experience in dating so she knows how to act in a relationship. Thus, Neve ends up seeking a 'pancake' boyfriend (you throw the first pancake away, hence the analogy. Yes, I don't throw the first pancake away either but apparently, everyone else does so it kinda works...) and happens to find one in Max, her sister's boss who is a rampant womaniser and is only too eager to impart his knowledge to Neve.
So far, so great right? You'd think so...we have the awkward first meeting (and beyond awkward first sexual encounter), the friendship, the misunderstanding, the awakened feelings, the increased intimacy both physically and emotionally, the looming spectre of the 'pancake' being thrown away, the spectre of William, the inevitable breakup etc etc...it should be the perfect chicklit? Should be, but isn't and I feel like a traitor by saying this, but it is entirely because the main female character continually ruins everything.
Now Neve is not as abhorrent as other female protagonists in the genre this year (I'm looking at you, The Girls' Guide to Homemaking ), but for large parts of the book I alternated between wanting to strangle her and wanting to scream at her to just shut up because she was killing my happy buzz while reading the book, so Lord knows what she was doing to the actual characters. She is a character that should have been easy to root for - she's struggling with her self-esteem, an unrequited 'love', food issues etc but for 90% of the book it was just self-involved, self-centred, self-deprecating 'me, me, me and what about me?' rubbish. I didn't need to hear about her obsession with food constantly, or hear her talk about the mythical 'size 10' goal constantly, and I certainly didn't need to hear her bitch and blame Max because she'd put on five pounds, and then find out about the rapid detox that involved colonic irrigation and not eating solids for three weeks. (Did you know you could lose 10 pounds via colonic irrigation? Neither did I but that's the kind of information that we learn...a little TMI to be honest.) I should have felt sympathy for her, and I admit, occasionally I did but it was so fleeting that I started to wonder how anyone could bear to be around her for an extended period of time? The one time I really liked her was when she was happy with Max - we got a couple of blissful chapters where food was hardly mentioned and it was great. In fairness to the author - she does have Neve's sister Celia voice what I'm sure everyone will be thinking near the end when she tells her how she's been behaving, but after 500+ pages, it was a little too late.
I loved Max, and although he was a bit slow on the uptake (her hints at wanting to un-pancake the relationship were missed) I had a lot of sympathy for him. He didn't get into the arrangement for altruistic reasons but he stayed, accepted her and cared for her, no matter what. Their relationship worked really well - they were coming from very different areas, but were in the same place emotionally and helped each other progress. He made swifter progress than she did, and that perhaps made her issues more frustrating as he did everything he could to get her to a place where she could just relax and have fun and smile without the spectre of weight/size hanging over her because he accepted her for who she was, even when most sane thinking people would have ditched her ages ago. He didn't handle the break-up particularly well, and their later fight had them both being a little cruel to each other (although I agreed with every word that he said incidentally - it was a hard truth, but still a truth) but I think the fact that it was a little ugly when it went wrong made it feel more realistic. Unlike the fake relationships (Neve's with Will, Max's with...well, everyone) this one hurt - it brought out the best and the worst and for that it was easy to invest in it. Even the scene at the end, although a little convenient (I don't mind convenient though) was perfect for them. It worked and it made you smile.
Some plot points weren't necessary - Neve's brother marrying her High School bully and the bully continuing her reign of terror using the same stick (her weight) even when it wasn't an issue was a bit...obvious but other ones (the WAG wedding party, Gustav, Neve's relationship with her dad) were a lot of fun/interesting.
All in all, I don't really know what I thought of this. If I could mute Neve for 70% of the book (she whined for 90% of it - but I could have put up with some of her issues, just not all the time), it would have been an easy 5 stars but as it was, wanting to strangle her did dampen my enthusiasm. It's a decent enough read and I can imagine going back and re-reading it one day, but for now, I can't help but be a little disappointed. Sure, it's nice to have dimensional characters with flaws and realistic issues - but I don't want to read 500+ pages of issues for -50 pages of non-issues.
The balance was just a bit off and maybe on the re-read it won't bother me that much, but reading through it for the first time, every time Neve mentioned her weight, her size, food, I wanted to throw things at her until she, finally, got it through her thick skull right at the end of the book. Instead of feeling pleased that she finally had her Eureka moment though, I was silently calling her names for being so slow on the uptake and I'm usually overly sympathetic as well, which is what surprises me. She was just so frustrating because when she wasn't obsessing, she was a good character with a good back story and she was a nice person. Sadly, it was sometimes hard to remember that because you knew she was only ever a few pages away from obsession again. She should have been easy to like and admire but by the time she finally got it together and realised how unhealthy her obsession had gotten, I was so tired of her behaviour that had got worse as the book progressed that even though I was pleased for her, I couldn't really be happy for her. At least she admitted she had issues, but still...too little, too late.
I think if you can deal with her that it's worth a read - as chicklit storylines go, it really is a good one.(less)
I read Little Women so much growing up that when I saw this book it almost became a must have. It's an interesting and fun concept - a woman finding t...moreI read Little Women so much growing up that when I saw this book it almost became a must have. It's an interesting and fun concept - a woman finding the letters of her ancestor who just so happened to be Jo March and the author is very successful with it. We have a modern day family (the Atwaters) with three sisters (Emma - the Meg equivelant, Lulu - the Jo who finds the letters and Sophie - the Amy) who can trace their line via their mother back to Boston and the infamous 'Grandma Jo' - a legendary figure within the family that the sisters have long since grown tired of hearing about. Their mother asks Lulu to go look through some old things in the attic and she finds these old letters, written by a young Jo March to her sisters and so begins her obsession with getting to know the ancestor she has previously shown no interest in.
The author successfully captures the individual voices of the very different strong female characters in the book and in particular the letters from Jo feel like they could have been written by the Jo March from the original books. The modern characters have a very sibling like relationship and although there are a few minor niggles (I found Lulu a little irritating at times - she was supposed to represent a modern Jo but lacked the warmth at times), the representation of strong female relationships without the man bashing that happens elsewhere was one that I welcomed. It's strange to have a book like this that doesn't actually have much to do with romance (Emma's wedding is a subplot, but not really a major issue) - and I felt like the actual romance, although well done, was a bit of a late addition to the story - perhaps an editor somewhere figured that you couldn't possibly have a book where the main character doesn't find a boyfriend at the end of it, but regardless, it was cute and didn't really detract. In fact, and I am probably a traitor to my sex for saying this, but I found it refreshing that for 90% of the book that the most intriguing romance story in it was Lulu discovering who it was that Jo ended up with. That's not to say that Lulu finally finding a man wasn't a nice touch, it was just nice not to have to spend so much of the book with a will they/won't they sort of thing.
I think this book would appeal to a lot of people - both fans of the original books and people unfamiliar with it, who will hopefully check out the originals on the back of this. If you want a fun way to kill a couple of evenings then this is definitely the type of book I think you would enjoy.(less)
I feel kinda bad only giving this two stars because it wasn't bad, it just wasn't great. The basic premise is about a young boy who goes to NY to stay...moreI feel kinda bad only giving this two stars because it wasn't bad, it just wasn't great. The basic premise is about a young boy who goes to NY to stay with his brother the summer after he's graduated and his 'coming of age' so to speak and there is some merit in the story, just not enough to really capture you completely. There is some charm to Henry's story - his failed attempt at a music career, his work at the zoo, his friendship with his workmates, his refusal to believe his parents marriage is falling apart, his first love...
I think what lets the book down is that although it is realistic enough, there is a degree of hopelessness in the whole thing for large parts of the book. The girl he's in love with toys with him and although she is at least (mostly) honest with him from the outset, you can't help but feel frustrated on his behalf as she blows hot and cold while enjoying his advances. His parent's marriage does fall apart, his brother all but packs his bags for him...you almost want someone, anyone to just stop and cut him a break and then you remember that you are reading this from the perspective of a young guy who is a biased narrator so you're unsure how much of what we see is an emotional response from him.
Basically the whole book feels like being a teenager again where everything feels much bigger/more important than it is. This book is a bit like that - there is something there, something that could be great but something that hasn't quite found its way yet. I think I'd like to see Henry again with 10 years experience under his belt - he's a nice guy and a likeable protagonist and the scene at the end where he takes control - leaves NY, gets into college and finds something he loves was great to see. You want to see how it will shake out for him because this snap-shot, this summer where he was betwixt and between anything and everything wasn't a real representation of what he was going to be.
This is a quick read and it's good enough, I just think it could have been even better. I like that there wasn't a clichéd HEA and there were some real bright spots interwoven with everything else so it's worth a read if you have a few hours to kill.(less)