I always find it interesting to read young adult/children's books written by non-American authors. They tend to touch in a more direct manner certainI always find it interesting to read young adult/children's books written by non-American authors. They tend to touch in a more direct manner certain topics and events American authors always try to step around or sugarcoat. That's usually the best thing about Cornelia Funke's books.
I didn't enjoy Inkspell as much as her other works, however. I'm not sure if it's because of the writing/translation, which felt a little cold and slow. The action scenes were even strangely boring and not very action-filled. I also found myself unsympathetic with Meggie and Farid. I still like Mo (he was my favorite in Inkheart) and I like Dustfinger better here because he's more fleshed out and less weasel-y than in the first book. Resa is a great character as well. It's just too bad that the book is mostly from Meggie and Farid's POV when I don't particularly like them much. The jumpy nature of the narrative (head-hopping) also made it hard to become immersed in it.
This second installation in the Gentlemen Bastards series is good enough to keep me reading and wanting the next. It's just as witty as the first, andThis second installation in the Gentlemen Bastards series is good enough to keep me reading and wanting the next. It's just as witty as the first, and there were several laugh-out-loud moments for me. The banter between Locke and Jean remains as fun as ever.
However, it's a bit slower-paced than Lies of Locke Lamora, and while a bit heavier on angst, it also felt strangely less dark. Although perhaps the latter can be attributed to the fact that the Verrari are not as cut-throat as the Cammori and their criminal world (and the city at large) makes a grander show at being "civilized". I also far preferred the way the atmosphere had been set in the first novel than in this, but I understand that perhaps Scott Lynch spent more effort trying to make the nautical parts of the book feel authentic than in describing the rest.
Speaking of which, the whole time they were learning about the sea (if this were a film, it would be the perfect place for a training montage), was somewhat boring to me. It took me a long time to get past that part, even during the re-read. The scenes involving ships and pirates were action-packed and interesting, which made up for the slow middle. However, I wasn't too pleased with the way the romance aspect had been written, as it felt to me that Jean was teetering on the edge of being out of character at times. I can only hope love doesn't make Locke as ridiculous soppy and sentimental should he be around Sabetha in the future.
I loved the new characters and would really like it if, someday, Locke can once again meet Requin and Selendri, just as I hope he runs into the Salvaras another time. The way everything fell into place in the end was great and while not as inspired as the heists in the first book, the one here was still quite brilliant -- and surprisingly hilarious....more
**spoiler alert** I loved The Hunger Games, and I liked Catching Fire (mostly because of Finnick and Johanna, I have to admit), but Mockingjay was suc**spoiler alert** I loved The Hunger Games, and I liked Catching Fire (mostly because of Finnick and Johanna, I have to admit), but Mockingjay was such a disappointment for me. From the first page, I knew that the book was going to be a downer. While I honestly do not mind sad or tragic endings, I do not like utter despair. From the beginning Katniss was sort of dead inside -- so evident in the utterly flat and lifeless prose. While I get that this may have been a natural human reaction to the things she's been through, this is not the kind of outlook one expects from a heroine. This is not the kind of outlook one expects from the Girl Who Was On Fire. Katniss in Mockingjay isn't even a dying ember. Katniss is dead grey ash -- stuff that's left in the furnace that just refuses to burn. She is driven by absolutely nothing and she does absolutely nothing that she isn't talked or manipulated into.
I realize that Suzanne Collins may have wanted to illustrate that wars (of any kind) are bad and the people that suffer through it, who know its horrors, become not only damaged, but so averse to the idea of fighting that they just sort of collapse into themselves. But this doesn't really make for an engaging read. Honestly, if I had wanted gritty realism, I could have picked up a history book or watched television or read a biography. Mockingjay betrayed my expectations of YA fantasy novels, wherein the main character is usually expected to be headstrong or brave or willing to stand up against the system. While Katniss did sort of stand up to the system in the end, it was a bit too late in the story, and too brief. I'd already spent most of the book being completely apathetic, just like Katniss. Even a particularly tragic scene was not as heart-wrenching as I expected -- but I blame this on the flat and lifeless prose, and I don't know how much of that was intentional.
And that ending/epilogue. I would have preferred Katniss to be dead or insane. The "Real or Not Real" game with Peeta made me roll my eyes when it first appeared, and when he pulled it out at the end ("You love me. Real or not real?") I wanted to rip his eyes out. There is just something so borderline creepy about that line that made me gag. The fact that Katniss had to be talked/pressured by Peeta into having children, and how even after they were born she clearly still had misgivings about them also made me feel like screaming. I am sorry, but that was just not right.
Mostly I was annoyed by my favorite character in the series being reduced to a shadow of what he was when he was introduced, most probably because he was too awesome. And then of course he was killed off. The way in which Gale was dismissed also irked me in that it was so... half-hearted.
I don't know if I would classify this as a book that I enjoyed. It was a good story, in general, but something about the delivery put me off. Maybe if it hadn't been in first person it wouldn't have bothered me so much. A character that doesn't show much interest in anything, who spends half the time drugged or out of her mind, does not make a very interesting narrator.
I might edit this when I'm more awake/coherent, and when I remember the rest of what I wanted to say, but this is it for now. Thanks, Suzanne Collins. Overall, The Hunger Games was interesting, intelligent, and mostly well-written. I enjoyed the first two books very much, but I just want to forget the third book ever happened....more