Spoiled was a fun and fluffy read. It started off pretty shaky but I eventually grew to like Brooke and Molly. If you're interested in a sweet parentSpoiled was a fun and fluffy read. It started off pretty shaky but I eventually grew to like Brooke and Molly. If you're interested in a sweet parent trap-ish story with some fun celebrity culture satire I would recommend Spoiled. It really turned out much better than I expected....more
Shadow and Bone is really hard to rate and review. It was nothing like what I expected, which is good and bad. There were many aspects that I found exShadow and Bone is really hard to rate and review. It was nothing like what I expected, which is good and bad. There were many aspects that I found extremely frustrating and unoriginal, but even with my grievances I could not put this book down. Shadow and Bone was a read until 2am, sneak pages during work, and walk around doing everything one handed because it is just that compelling kind of a book.
The story of Shadow and Bone starts off totally awesome, but then slides into very typical YA fare. There are mean girls and boarding school antics and a sexy dark mysterious hottie OMG!!!! It was so frustrating because there is a very interesting foundation for Shadow and Bone but it is just buried under trite YA carp. The story does turn back to the awesome later on, but the aspects of the story that lead our character to make changes felt forced and extremely convenient.
The main character Alina has a bit of a Bella Swan syndrome. She is told she is special, she has a destiny, but she just constantly denies it because the magical Grisha are “beautiful and striking” where Alina is “plain and awkward.” It’s definitely a case of “I’m so ugly, I’m so plain, there’s no way I’m special!” mentality which is completely annoying. And of course the first thing they do to her is give her a super magical makeover! Too much time is spent focusing on physical attributes that ultimately give very little to the overall story.
I also had some pretty major issues with parts of the writing. Alina and her friends sounded like modern American teenagers. They say things like "you guys" and "you're crazy" and "that's his problem" and other expressions that modernize the narrative and took me out of the story. In my opinion, when you write a fantasy that has a historical feeling to it, you can't use modern expressions or culturally specific ones that don't match the culture of the characters.
Speaking of culture, I know that this is just based on Russian history and the author has taken creative liberties (obviously, there's magic and whatnot) but the basic linguistic structure should still be the same. Doing research to make sure you don't completely change the definition of an existing word or name a girl the Russian equivalent of "Kevin" is really important, and I feel like this did not happen.
Also I think when you write different cultures with different languages, anyone from the same country should have the same speaking style (ie Baghra speech is broken, but as far as we know she was born and raised in the same country as Alina, who speaks perfectly. Botkin, being from a different country, is ok speaking in broken English because he wouldn't be fluent in their native tongue). I realize this is more of me nitpicking, but I really liked where the author was going, it just didn’t quite get there for me.
Now based on this review you might think that I would be giving Shadow and Bone a two or even one star rating. I chose to give it a four star rating because even with all of my complaints, I still really enjoyed this book. Despite its faults Shadow and Bone is completely enthralling and has so much potential to grow. I think a lot rides on the second book of the series, but I’m really hoping the author will take the fantastic history and word she has built and leave the overdone plot devices behind. ...more
I am a huge fan of the Song of Ice and Fire series. I think it's absolutely brilliant and by far the best epic fantasy I have ever read. The characterI am a huge fan of the Song of Ice and Fire series. I think it's absolutely brilliant and by far the best epic fantasy I have ever read. The characters are complex and they live in a rich world with long running history, religions, and cultures (not to mention some fantastic geography, the backbone of any good fantasy in my opinion). I love discussing the different themes and events that occur in the series so I was very interested in this collection of essays about the popular series. However, we get kind of a mixed bag. Some of the essays are thought provoking and worth the read, but others just felt like filler.
A word of warning, do NOT read this book if you haven't read the first five books in the series! These are discussion essays and will contain major spoilers!
My favorite essay in the collection is probably The Brutal Cost of Redemption in Westeros by Susan Vaught. This essay talks about how seemingly good characters, such as Robb Stark, make terrible choices due to lack of foresight and are forced to pay the consequences. The essay also looks at characters that start off unlikable, such as Sansa Stark or Jamie Lannister, adapt to their situation and struggle towards redemption, often having to make terrible sacrifices in order to do so.
Other notable essays in the book are An Unreliable World by Adam Whitehead, which discusses how over time events can be skewed and exaggerated, with average men being made into heroes and demons. I especially enjoyed the discussion of Lyanna Stark and Rhaegar Targaryen and the uncertain truth to their relationship.
In Of Direwolves and Gods by Andrew Zimmerman Jones we look at the different religions that are present in the Song of Ice and Fire series. It analyzes the influence of these religions on Westeros society and also compares them to modern religion's influence on today's society as well. The end point is summed up quite nicely in a quote from Varys "Power resides where men believe it resides. no more and no less."
And finally in the essay A Different Kind of Other by Brent Hartner we look at the role of outcasts in ASoIaF. Through this essay we realize that many of the main characters are viewed as unnatural or minority in some way - Arya and Brienne defy feminine social norms; Jon Snow the bastard; Tyrion the dwarf; Bran who is disabled; and Daenerys the literal outcast queen. This essay looks at how people who don't conform to social expectations can develop into the strongest and most heroic characters of all.
There are other essays that touch on subjects of rape and feminism, post traumatic stress disorder, the use of magic in Westeros, and more publishing business topic such as adapting the books into graphic novels and a television show, the collection of prequel novels, the future of publishing in a digital age, and the expectations of the fantasy genre as a whole. These essays are interesting, but not really stand out.
Overall the collection is just ok. There are a few interesting points, but most of the essays are disappointing. I would recommend this collection to the true die hard fan who really wants to dive into more thematic discussions but would say pass to the more casual reader ...more