This book was just what I needed after coming out of my Mockingjay funk. Mockingjay was brilliant, don’t get me wrong, but it also sucked my will to lThis book was just what I needed after coming out of my Mockingjay funk. Mockingjay was brilliant, don’t get me wrong, but it also sucked my will to live in 7 loaded hours. I was in a daze for, like, two days. I think I could only move on to other books because my mom started reading it after I finished, preventing me from a re-read, and I got to meet up with my best friend to discuss and have group therapy over our very similar, life-ending experiences.
So yes, dry British humor was what I needed to slap some sense into me. Ironically, it was a story about Hell, Satan, and Necromancy that plucked me out of my depression and had me laughing out loud in public.
The book did drag in a few odd places, mostly near the beginning, but that’s really my only criticism (Well, that and the appalling lack of female characters! Layla the Latex Lady doesn’t count. However, the ending does give me hope for the sequel!). The characters, the dialogue, the obscure/odd references, the lighter take on seriously serious issues…all of it works together to form a novel that is quirky and sometimes unpredictable, goofy and occasionally disgusting, but above all, hilarious. The author, Howard, reminds me of Douglas Adams and Neil Gaiman (Truly, the highest of compliments).
However, despite the crafty absurdity, there is an underlying seriousness to the book, a human element. It’s a character study of motivation and relationships (and how the two influence one another) and the true nature of evil (is it taking people’s souls or insisting a person in Limbo must fill out thousands of forms with no eraser?). The laughs and the bizarre twists do a good job of distracting from that seriousness, but if the ending is any indication, Howard will touch more upon these themes in the sequel.
I will suggest this book to everybody, because it would be a shame to never read about Johannes Cabal and his serious lack of social skills. He’s soulless, yes, but not heartless. ...more
This Cabal sequel did not fail in making me want to quote every line (much like the first). The writing is so perfect I almost want to fault it for th This Cabal sequel did not fail in making me want to quote every line (much like the first). The writing is so perfect I almost want to fault it for that.
Cabal is back and he’s got his soul with him (which only factors in occasionally, thank goodness, we don’t want Cabal shedding any tears or feeling for humanity), now if only people would stop trying to murder him!
To be honest, I was expecting this book to best the first and receive 5 stars instead of 4, but alas, it did not. After much deliberation (and deep discussion with a fellow Cabal-lover) I decided it was because that no matter how pitch-perfect I find the humor, or how despicably (and deliciously) Cabal behaves, in the end I don’t find myself emotionally invested in the book itself. That is sometimes the difference between 4 stars (4.5?) and a perfect 5 stars. The hint of emotional depth in the first book (Horst! The ending!) had me excited for more in Detective, but I think there was even less here to be found. (I could be wrong...reread?)
Some praises! Howard definitely turned it around in the female character department. The number of noteworthy male secondary characters in the first novel seems to have switched to a similar number of noteworthy female characters in this one. I nice change, and I’m glad that Howard has it in him for the most part.
Also, after discovering that Howard wrote short stories previously (and currently! Try and find the two or so Cabal shorts floating around the internet somewhere…), the “faults” of the novels make more sense. I found the plot of Detective to drag a little in the middle, but immediately fell in love with the short story that served as the epilogue. The entire opening sequence in Mirkarvia was also brilliant and one of the best openings to a novel I’ve read in awhile.
My dearest wish is that this be not a trilogy but a continuing legacy (Sherlock Holmes if he were a Necromancer of some little infamy and briefly soulless?). One can hope, eh?...more
Sickly sweet and perfectly witty, this book felt like a summer “beach read” (whatever those are), except I didn’t have to be embarrassed about it (youSickly sweet and perfectly witty, this book felt like a summer “beach read” (whatever those are), except I didn’t have to be embarrassed about it (you know what I mean, right?). It wasn’t cheesy bad, just a little too…too…fluffy?
I liked this book. I did. It was easy & breezy and made me laugh. It was an interesting look into a mostly unheard of Nazi occupation on a small little island. I just think the wittiness worked against the story sometimes. Like, it’s possible to be too witty and snarky and twee. The characters, who from afar seemed very diverse, sort of began to run together by the end which is especially not good in a novel in epistolary form that is only as strong as its characters. Why did I give it 3 stars? Well, it’s really more like 3.5, but I decided to round down, because I’m feeling a little cynical.
You’re supposed to fall in love with Juliet, and the people of Guernsey who are all quirky and adorable, and the spunky Elizabeth. Oh, that Elizabeth. The first time she was mentioned I kind of inwardly groaned, because I knew that the reader would be sweetly hit over the head constantly by how goshdarn feisty and forward she was. (And her name was ‘Elizabeth’? Come onnnnn). I just hate it when a character's “flaws” are, like, she cares too much! and she speaks her mind! Juliet and Elizabeth both suffer these devastating character defects.
It sucks because I struggle to put my finger on why exactly these characters who are so desperately trying to emulate the Anne Shirleys and Elizabeth Bennets of the book world fail to live up to them. Like, Elizabeth Bennett is snarky and witty, but she’s so much more than that, and Anne Shirley is passionate and independent, but she’s not a Mary-Sue. In Guernsey, Juliet and Elizabeth seem like a modern take on Anne/Elizabeth, but instead of putting them in the modern world, they’re kept in the past and then they stick out even more because what makes them so unique is so extreme. (view spoiler)[ Elizabeth has a lovechild! Juliet’s best friend is gay! They both curse and drink! (hide spoiler)]
But ok, despite its cutesy perfectness, this book did have some great lines and language. When taken on their own they are sweet and genuine, but in the over-the-top world of the book they get lost in the witty clutter. Here’s some good examples:
I don't want to be married just to be married. I can't think of anything lonelier than spending the rest of my life with someone I can't talk to, or worse, someone I can't be silent with.
‘Life goes on.’ What nonsense, I thought, of course it doesn't. It's death that goes on.
Think of it! We could have gone on longing for one another and pretending not to notice forever. This obsession with dignity can ruin your life if you let it.
The book also heavily emphasizes a love of the written word, the beauty of language and words that have been crafted together seamlessly by the great poets and writers of our time. Classic works of literature are quoted and discussed and loved by the characters. If I could say something overhwhelmingly positive about this book it's that its intentions were good, the female characters were strong (if a little unbelievable), and it was all about the power of good literature in bringing people together! Hoorah for that.
And in honor of my below-average rating, I leave you with this ironic quote that, as I said, on its own is amazing and truthful, but in context of Guernsey is a little sad:
Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad books.
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“Mosca…” Clent glanced at her, then closed his eyes and gave a little shudder, as if he had looked down into a moral well at her benighted soul, and h“Mosca…” Clent glanced at her, then closed his eyes and gave a little shudder, as if he had looked down into a moral well at her benighted soul, and had been gripped by vertigo.
This book is hilarious. So sharp and full of witty one liners and scene-stealing characters. I keep a mental list of all the books I’m going to save up for my own kid to read. To brainwash them with cleverness and fun and words. I will craft the perfect bookworm with the best tools available: good books. This will be one of those books I’ll wave around at this hypothetical child. ARE YOU DONE WITH THOSE EASY READERS YET? GROW FASTER.
Just found out there’s a sequel as well! Yay! Might have to Amazon. ...more