I don't know why it's so rare that I love the narrative voice of a teenage boy protagonist. Well, I know why: it's because I usually find them dry, pr...moreI don't know why it's so rare that I love the narrative voice of a teenage boy protagonist. Well, I know why: it's because I usually find them dry, prosaic, and colorless. What I mean is that I'm not sure why this is nearly always the case in YA books, Variant included. What's up, male authors? Why do you make your guys so one-dimensional? So perfunctory? Don't be afraid to give them some real heart to go with that quick-thinking, unflappable "personality" they always seem to have. They can describe a girl as something other than "pretty", they can get scared sometimes, they can be wrong. Shake it up, even, make them Crabapple Mcnasties who we all hate to love. Just make me feel something for them.
Authors, if you're feeling rusty on your characterization, I suggest reading the Chaos Walking trilogy--Todd falls out of the book and into whatever room you're reading in and you sort of fall in love with him, regardless of your gender. Or maybe the Tomorrow, When the War Began series? That's an example of a male author writing a female protagonist so painfully real I wonder whose journal he stole, and can I please meet her so we can be besties.
Variant's plot was unique, and I did like the ending. I would not be opposed to reading the sequel. Much like Maze Runner (Dashner's quote on the cover should have been a tip-off), I feel the book only began to get interesting towards the very end (and therefore the sequel has potential), but unlike Maze Runner, Well's book didn't piss me off, only disappoint me slightly. A good thing. I hold out genuine hope for the sequel.
(This book was a free giveaway ARC in return for an honest review.)(less)
I swear that people simply must not get this series (I say “series” hopefully, because for right now it looks like there will only be the two books)....more I swear that people simply must not get this series (I say “series” hopefully, because for right now it looks like there will only be the two books). I don’t mean that in some kind of pretentious, exclusive way, it’s just my only rationalization for why both books are only thisclose to being 4 stars. Are the wrong people reading them? Are people going in with certain, um, expectations and not feeling that they’re met? Do people just not want to do any real thinking?
I really need to stop sounding like a douche.
“It’s YA, Jessica, get off your high horse!” you might say. “But a good story is a good story! Beautiful, creative prose is beautiful, creative prose!” I’d shout back from said horse (a blood bay, if you were wondering).
Let me try and put in a few words what I love about these books.
1)They’re poetry. There are about 10 outrageous metaphors on each page, and I literally have to stop and give a sage nod to individual sentences. I mean, isn’t that what you do with great poetry? Her word choices and turns of phrase are so on point, man. Catherine Fisher had a hand in inventing the English language, methinks. random example from random page: “The world is a chessboard, madam, on which we play out our ploys and follies. You are the Queen, of course. Your moves are the strongest. For myself, I claim only to be a knight, advancing in a crooked progress. Do we move ourselves, do you think, or does a great gloved hand place us on our squares?” Oh, another: “This was death. It was warm and sticky and there were waves of it, washing over her like pain. It had no air to breathe, no words to speak. It was a choking in her throat.”
2)I’ve never seen modern lore done so well. Chapters open with historical anecdotes of the prison universe (a poem, fable, etc.). It’s masterful to see it all play out and everything work and come together in the end (ok, not everything—dang loose ends—but enough). I’ve studied folklore and fairytales, and to see how the truth can change in the mouths of storytellers throughout time and become its own entity entirely is so fascinating to me. The actuality of what happens becomes so warped, but the seed of truth remains and from it still comes wisdom and power.
3)Honestly, I think the third best part is everything I can’t explain. I love it, I just do.
ALSO, I was inconsolable after learning that Taylor Lautner would be playing Finn in the movie adaptation. Cruel, cruel world. Must you fight good literature with such fervor? A) They’re supposed to be British. B) Just, no. C) You know they’re going to try and add in some BS romance.
Random: When I was reading this book last year, I’d have to check in with it whenever I came in to work (at a bookstore) and my managers would read the title and give me weird looks. Then my own mind would go wonky and I’d think of Sappho, the ancient Greek lesbian poet. Did they think I was reading some kind of trashy erotica or something? Hey! Is that where Fisher got the name Sapphique any way? He is a poet of sorts… (less)