If I could rate this at 2 1/2 stars, I probably would. Since I can't, I decided to be generous and give it 3 stars. I'll just start things out on a posIf I could rate this at 2 1/2 stars, I probably would. Since I can't, I decided to be generous and give it 3 stars. I'll just start things out on a positive note and say the writing style wasn't bad, and the world building was pretty good. It was clear the author put a lot of time and thought into the world she was writing about. However, in other ways, I just felt it fell short of my expectations. The characters seemed a little flat and very black and white. They fell very neatly into categories of good or bad. (The villain of the story was probably the person who came closest to a "gray" area, with attempts to make him sympathetic, but he was still a horrible person.) For the main characters, this just made them hard to care about. The main character's love interest, for example, was very poorly developed. He was just sort of a handsome, kind (usually) guy who was a bit of an underdog (only not really?). The character development was an even bigger problem when it came to secondary characters, though. Even by the end of the book, I didn't know one secondary character from another, what their ties were to the main characters, or what their purpose was to the story. Also, it's going to sound totally silly for me to say this after I was just complaining about the characters being too black and white, but I was really uneasy with how cruel the good guys could be. If someone wronged them, they seemed to not just be OK with, but to revel in killing and torture to get revenge. That bothered me a lot. It also bothered me that no one ever seems to see anything wrong with it. (The only time I remember anyone suggesting restraint/mercy was when (view spoiler)[the main character is stopped from killing the villain because their lives are linked and she will die as well if she kills him (hide spoiler)]. This might be my modern sensibilities being unreasonable, since this is meant to be a more historical setting and all, but it still left me a little uneasy. The other thing that really, really got to me with the writing was that everything just seemed to work out so neat and tidy. It was one thing when a character picked up archery and fighting on the spot because she had magic and it helped her. It was quite another when, without magic, a character on the run made a bow and arrows to hunt with. Um. With what tools? Where did she find a bow string? And then, not much later, she gives her bow to the person she's traveling with and says she can just make another. Admittedly, I have never made a rudimentary bow and arrows while on the run through the forest. I do know, however, that it would take time, tools, and the knowledge of how to go about doing it. The characters are on the run, which means they're short on time, didn't pack before they had to run, which means they're without tools, and nothing in either history suggests they would know the first thing about making weapons. Then, later, characters pick up sword fighting skills in a very short time period while they're traveling. You don't pick up sword fighting overnight. That's not how things work. (On a character note, again, one character's personality completely changes when she learns to sword fight. She goes from quiet, shy, cautious, and fearful to confident, smiling, and ready to jump into a fight. Um. Personalities don't work that way either. You don't start being more talkative because you've learned to use a sword any more than a loud person would become a quiet person because they learned to knit.) And, of course, in the end, (view spoiler)[the bad guy is defeated (with hints that he could return, to keep things interesting), the main character is all-powerful and she decides she will bestow magic on her mortal friends (something that normally you have to be born to), a character who died earlier in the story is restored to life, and even the character who is scarred (though it is made clear that she's still attractive despite this) has her scar turned to a beautiful little star mark instead. Oh, come on! (hide spoiler)] So, in short . . . I'll be passing on the rest of the series as well.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
I don't really have any clue where to shelve this . . .
The blurb on the back got my attention and it was on sale, so I picked this one up. I startedI don't really have any clue where to shelve this . . .
The blurb on the back got my attention and it was on sale, so I picked this one up. I started reading it, and it wasn't bad, but I'd sort of already resigned it to the "one read only and then it goes to the trade-in pile of books." I wasn't entirely sold on the love story. The main character and his voice just seemed sort of . . . odd? And, oh my goodness, the main characters book ideas were just ridiculously bad.
But then something happened.
The story advanced, and it became sort of ridiculous and funny, then maybe a little ridiculous and sad. It got me really thinking about time travel. At the beginning I thought, "Wouldn't that be neat if I could travel to the past and tell myself to do things differently?" The more I read, the more it occurred to me that I still don't know what I'm doing with my life, and probably will never feel like I know what I'm doing, so I'm not really qualified to give my younger self advice. The main character even wrote a short story I liked. (I feel a little weird saying that, because even the characters in the book hated it, but I really did enjoy the story about the robot that wrote a novel.)
It took a while, but by the end I was really invested in the story and curious how it would end. And I loved the ending. I really did.
So this book, despite reservations at the beginning, turned out to be something I really enjoyed. It is NOT going in the trade-in pile or on my one-read-only list after all....more
I like to read about history, but often, the books I read are full of dates, statistics, politicians, and other famous people. "Beauty and Atrocity" gI like to read about history, but often, the books I read are full of dates, statistics, politicians, and other famous people. "Beauty and Atrocity" gives some background and history on the Troubles, but the bulk of it is made up of interviews with people from all walks of life in Northern Ireland. It's refreshing to see not just the facts, but how events affected real people. And if, from time to time, I had words with the people being interviewed, or if I disagreed with something Levine said . . . well, in the end, it didn't seem to matter much. I believe he genuinely tried to be objective and fair in his writing of the book, something that is no small task with this subject matter, and I think he did a decent job of it. If you're interested in Irish history, especially the Troubles, this is a must-read book. Even if it's not your thing, you might find this book interesting all the same....more