I read this book at the wrong time in my life. I should have read it in college or just after. Evans speaks of her personal belief system's transitionI read this book at the wrong time in my life. I should have read it in college or just after. Evans speaks of her personal belief system's transition from fundamentalism to a more progressive faith, and from someone who has lived through a similar journey, I can appreciate her story. I love reading her blog as it demonstrates the struggle between different factions of Christianity. I would consider myself even further to the left than Evans, but I do admire her willingness to speak out and hopefully touch Christians who have questions about these same issues. I have known enough fundamentalist-turned-liberals to know that there are those who will find plenty to think about here. ...more
It's taken a while, but finally things are starting to make sense. (view spoiler)[Though I hope Vestara comMaybe not quite four stars...perhaps 3.75?
It's taken a while, but finally things are starting to make sense. (view spoiler)[Though I hope Vestara comes clean about killing Natua because her plan to be with Ben as long as possible before she has to kill him is pretty stupid, considering she's only reverting to it because she killed an innocent to keep him alive, but I guess those are teenager-in-love hormones. (hide spoiler)]
And, honestly, Abeloth is starting to resemble Palpatine a little too much. To be fair, I honestly didn't get that (view spoiler)[Roki Kem was Abeloth (hide spoiler)] until late in the book--though I did figure it out long before it was actually revealed.
I'm deeply interested to see where this is all heading. Part of me hopes this isn't wrapped up in the next book, but sets things up for the future (as the title "Fate of the Jedi" implies).["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
I say this so you understand why I gave this four stars instead of five, which was my first instinctLet me begin by saying: Shatter Me had its flaws.
I say this so you understand why I gave this four stars instead of five, which was my first instinct upon finishing. My reasoning was that any book I devoured overnight was an automatic five-star book. But after some thought, I decided that this should not be the case, as I realized that perhaps I had more (much more) love for this book than it was worthy of.
And that's okay. Really.
Some books just hit a chord with certain people, so much that it is difficult to recognize imperfections. And I totally get that Shatter Me had plenty of issues with characterization, abuse of metaphors, and flowery cliches. It wasn't even that I didn't notice these things. I just didn't care.
I didn't care because this book had an addictive quality that made it impossible to set down. Everything, the villain, the romance, the rage, the hopeless setting, the freaking passion, I can't exactly explain it. All I know is that I kept wanting more. I needed more. I'm not sure it was entirely healthy, the relationship I had with this book in that 12-hour period.
There are better books out there in this genre. I don't know if this book will have the same effect on someone reading this review as it did on me, so I'm not so sure how I would recommend this. I can't make any promises, but if you want to take a risk...this is the book to take it on. ...more
Going into Graceling, I had some trepidation because of a few reviews I'd read. They weren't horrible, but they weren't exactly flattering e3.5 stars.
Going into Graceling, I had some trepidation because of a few reviews I'd read. They weren't horrible, but they weren't exactly flattering either. Several times I'd heard the same complaints, mostly about how this book portrays feminism. I thought about giving this one a pass, but recently I was searching through the library's digital catalog and Graceling was about the only book available that was on my list, and only in audiobook format.
Perhaps Graceling is just suited for a full cast audiobook rather than print. I just know that I enjoyed this story far more than I thought I would have. That isn't to asy that the concerns I'd heard before reading weren't valid or worth discussing, so briefly I'll get to a few points.
(view spoiler)[The book excuses Katsa for abusing Po. Well, no, it doesn't exactly. It is clearly put forward, both by Po's reaction and Katsa's immediate and deep remorse, that Katsa's actions (in hitting Po out of anger) were wrong. Nonetheless, I felt that Po forgave her a little bit too easily, though I understood. The thing is, Katsa has been groomed to hurt people, so it's natural to her for that to be a response to anger. Add to that she was expecting Po to defend himself (which he was quite capable of), and you can see why, while not justified, she would react that way. (hide spoiler)]
The message is anti-men. Now, this was an interesting one to me. Misandry is annoying on an individual level, though it doesn't resonate culturally the way misogyny does (but that's another story). While all the bad guys were men, I believe that was a representation problem, as most of the major players (other than Katsa and Bitterblue) were men. And there were far more decent (though flawed) men than there were bad men. This is a story about a society that is very rooted in patriarchy, perhaps even more than our society, so I understand that in order to present a feminist message (which is appears is Cashore's intention) it would be natural for men to be representations of certain sexist attitudes. But...more on the problem of representation in this story later.
Katsa is misogynist in the way she views other women (who wish to marry and have children). Now, while Katsa was a rather irritating protagonist, I never got this from her. She was very set in never getting married and knew her reasons for that. Good for her. She knows what she is willing to do and what she isn't, and for now (and ever?) Po is okay with that. They (she) can do what they want in that sense. But I can't remember Katsa ever looking down at other women with different views of marriage. Helda, Ashen, and Po's mother are all portrayed positively.
While the above notions were not nearly as bad as I feared, I still have issues with calling this a great example of feminist literature. One I touched upon earlier: representation.
I'm not just talking about there being so few major female characters. My problem is that there were virtually no major characters who embodied mostly--or even any--feminine traits. Katsa hated dresses, cut her hair short, could run long distances, had little maternal instinct, and could fight better than men. She's a complete badass heroine. There's nothing wrong with that, but masculinity is dominant in this story.
This is an issue for me because, in my experience, misogyny can occur in two ways (it can occur in a lot of ways, but these are the two I see as being the most prevalent): a woman behaves as what society says a woman should, and as a result, her concerns are seen as trivial and she is pushed aside as an extra in a man's life, her most important roles being the part she plays in the lives of men; a women behaves in the way that society deems appropriate only for a man, and as a result she is chastised and castigated for stepping out of the bounds "God created" for women and she should know her place instead of entering into a man's world.
Graceling addresses the latter, as do many YA titles out there these days, but the former is left untouched for the most part.
Femininity is not seen as desirable in this world. I've addressed the problems facing a "feminine women" above; a feminine man is seen as possibly the worst thing a man could be: a woman. And so the war against femininity is really a war against women. This is why it's one thing to make a heroine step out of gender boundaries, but to address the stigma against those roles takes it to another level. And perhaps this was part of what bothered me about Katsa, why she wasn't nearly as strong as she could have been (though, there were other reasons I didn't really like her much).
Yeah, I know that was a long rant.
I really, really loved the story itself: the setting, the action, the tension and the conflict. This is the primary reason I've rated this so high. Now, I was listening to the audiobook, so I'm probably going to be kind to the writing itself (it's difficult to get a handle on the prose when listening as opposed to reading), but the pacing worked well in moving the story along.
The characters, well, that's something else.
There were some characters I really liked: Oll, Helda, Giddon (even though he turned out to be pretty flawed, though not bad), Raffin. I liked Po most of the time, and at times I was even fond of Katsa.
That said, I found Katsa irritating and in dear need of empathy and compassion (but that would make her more "feminine", so whatever). With Po she improves a bit, but I wish more people would call her out on this. (I think Po does in his own way, but really it is only Giddon who is willing to stand up to her when she drives too hard--and Ror in one instance.)
I didn't like the role Giddon played in the story. I had hope for him, being the one character who dared criticize Katsa, as if that were some horrible thing, and it turns out he (view spoiler)[played the part of "benevolent misogynist." (hide spoiler)](view spoiler)[I was also disappointed he didn't show up at the end with the others. (hide spoiler)]
Bitterblue, I really liked. I didn't find the typical "bratty child" character; I found her refreshing from the way child characters are generally portrayed. Ten-year-olds are often capable of having mature ideas and thoughts and conversations. Too often child characters are treated as props.
In the end, I really enjoyed this one despite my reservations.