Be prepared- this book will probably spark a lot of debate, which will likely place this book on hundreds of school reading lists. It'll be on this liBe prepared- this book will probably spark a lot of debate, which will likely place this book on hundreds of school reading lists. It'll be on this list for a good reason. While there are books out there that deal with the subjects of online bullying, school bullying, and peer pressure, I haven't really read many that approach it in the way that this has. This review will have some slight spoilers because in order to describe why I loved this so much I'll have to spoil one or two small things. Don't worry- none of the large plot points will be revealed.
What made this fairly unique for me is that this book wasn't narrated from the viewpoint of our lovely,doomed-to-be-bullied character of Carolyn. No, it's actually told from the viewpoint of an anonymous female narrator that's probably just as much to blame for Carolyn's woes as the bullies are and what makes it so horrifying is that you can see where things are going to go fairly early on in the book. People's reactions to the bullies and to what Carolyn is pretty much what is called the "boiling frog principle". If you put a frog in a boiling pot of water, the frog will hop out quickly. If you turn that heat up slowly, the frog will remain in the pot and be boiled to death.
That's pretty much what happens here. Carolyn's fall from grace and her descent into awful bullying happens so relatively slowly that people just see it as a matter of course. When her bullying does intense people just sort of shrug and don't do anything because that's it's just what happens. People think it's awful and there are concerns about stepping in and becoming a new target, but this book really explores the mentality of the people viewing the bullying- both students and adults. The latter is probably what made this a little hard to read at points because with books like this we expect the teens to be awful with one another, but we do expect the teachers to step in to some degree and Bannan does go out of her way to show how this can happen- how teachers can watch a teen girl go from a fairly lively person to a shell of her former self. Carolyn is a fragile character to begin with, something that many of the teachers (one of whom tries to put herself out as the "cool teacher that notices things") plain overlook.
I can't recommend this book enough. It doesn't really matter what your age or gender is- this has a wide appeal. There are some aspects to this that are sort of what you'd expect from this type of read, but Brennan tries really hard to put a fresh perspective on things and she succeeds.
**spoiler alert** I got into this because I'd heard some good things about Masterson and because the later books just look so freaking cool. Since I d**spoiler alert** I got into this because I'd heard some good things about Masterson and because the later books just look so freaking cool. Since I don't like to read out of order, here I am. I have to say that I largely liked this book and I'll keep on with the series, but there's one element that put a HUGE bad taste in my mouth. Here are le spoilers:
(view spoiler)[During the course of the book our hero Jim is introduced to goofer dust, which has the ability to alter someone's memories. He's told (by the bad guy) to use this on someone in order to keep one of his students out of jail, which he does. Jim does test it out on himself and gives himself a false memory that he's dating Susan, a hot fellow teacher at his school.
See, Jim has the serious hots for her. It's somewhat reciprocated, but at this point in time the relationship is very much in its early stages and the two are doing that "circling around each other" dance that couples tend to do when they first start out. Susan is somewhat put off when Jim suddenly starts acting like they were dating but isn't entirely put off by it, so it's not like he burned his bridge there. It just means that he'd have to work a little harder at building up her trust again.
However at the end of the book, after the bad guy was defeated, Jim decides that putting time into a relationship is for simps and blows goofer dust in her face, after which point he tells her that the two of them are dating and that they're falling in love. Yeah. What makes this pretty awful is that it was fairly likely that the two of them would have hooked up, except that Jim took any free will away. Maybe this was done to show how he was corrupted by the Big Bad, but it still leaves an incredibly bad taste in my mouth.
See, the thing about goofer dust is that it takes away any choice you have in the matter. Susan liked Jim already, so some may say that she wouldn't have stayed with him if she hadn't liked him but that's not really the point. The point is that the book establishes that goofer dust is POWERFUL and even if the relationship would have happened, it's still a violation of her free will to take this short cut. It's kind of like when someone is ready and willing to sleep with someone, but their partner decides to drug them or get them overly inebriated because they want to make sure that it'll happen. The potential for consent does not mean that you get to take away their freedom to walk away. This is her memories that Jim was fucking with, after all. From that point on you kind of have to wonder if the relationship really would have happened and unfolded like this. It seemed likely, but it could have been that one or both of them would have decided that the relationship wasn't for them partway through.
What makes this worse is that the next book somewhat opens up with Jim admitting that the two of them essentially want and like different things, something he may have discovered if he'd courted her the traditional way. The book then goes on to say that there were several things she loved about him, but it's like "does she like those because she genuinely likes you or is this still the goofer dust acting out"? Plus you have to wonder what she'd do if/when she finds out that he spiked her with goofer dust. I'm hoping that this will be a plot point because if it is, then it'd be a good one since heroes tend to not be corrupted as easily, at least not in this way. Sometimes you'll see it in books like the first book in the Covenant of Thomas Covenant, where our hero straight up raped a woman in the first book, but generally speaking it's usually avoided unless the book is going to be exceedingly dark or *that* type of book, both of things are trends that Stephen Donaldson tends to put in his book. (I've read maybe 3-4 of his stuff and he likes to go for shock, darkness, and bleakness, not that this is necessarily a bad thing.) Despite the dark tones in this book, I never really got the idea that Jim was ever that type of guy- which makes his actions at the end of the book that much more appalling. (hide spoiler)]
So... if you just read all of that, then you're probably wondering why you should even read this. The thing is that this is actually a very small portion of the book and for the most part the character of Jim is a pretty decent guy that's forced into a very bad situation. This isn't the greatest book ever, but it does have a pretty good setup and the setbacks that Jim and his students face are fairly well done, since they're actually somewhat believable (at least in a horror sort of setting) but not so impossible to overcome that you get that sense of "why even bother".
I did enjoy the book enough to warrant going on to the next book, so that says a lot for the work as a whole. You can tell from the start that the book was meant to be part of a series, so it's entirely possible that the issue I had with its ending could be addressed in future books, so I'm not going to write this off just yet.
I know that I've said "this should be a movie" before in my reviews and in each one I mean it- and I also mean that for this novel. With all of the reI know that I've said "this should be a movie" before in my reviews and in each one I mean it- and I also mean that for this novel. With all of the remakes and films that seem to tell the same story ad nauseam, it's a shame that stories like this fly under Hollywood's radar since they would make for fine films.
This is my first book by Brackston and I'll admit that I'm a bit hooked and that the only reason I'm not rushing out to read all of her other books right now is because I have school. There's an awful lot to like in this book and at times it reminded me of similar novels by Sarah Addison Allen and although her books lope along at a far more gentle pace than Silver Witch does, they do have some of the same themes (family, love, acceptance, etc).
I will say that at times I was a little irritated that at times Brackston was very coy with how Seren's story would unfold. I do understand that part of this was done in order to build suspense, but I did find it fairly odd that no one at the dig site (or in the village as a whole) would really go into that much detail about the history of the dig site. You get little bits and pieces here, but only as Brackston revealed more about Seren via her portions of the novel. I know that not everyone in a village will be gung-ho about their area's history, but it just seemed like Tilda would have been bombarded with various different legends of what happened to Brynach, even if his actual name was forgotten. True, it could have been a spoiler for later portions, but if it'd been treated as most legends are (meaning that there are many and they are sometimes crazy) then it could have worked and even been played for humor.
That's ultimately a small gripe and overall I really enjoyed this book. It's definitely something I'd recommend....more
Want something fun? Perverted? Then you're in luck. This is a pretty good little series and one that I'm only somewhat surprised hasn't been brought oWant something fun? Perverted? Then you're in luck. This is a pretty good little series and one that I'm only somewhat surprised hasn't been brought over to English markets by one of the various light novel publishers. Luckily for you and I, Baka-Tsuki is busy at work with their fan translation of the series and they're pretty fast at translating the newest chapters of this.
That said, I do have to give people an up front warning: this series is a bit perverted and is all but guaranteed to become more perverted as our main character ages up to adulthood. To go into too much detail would kind of give the plot away somewhat (and possibly put me in danger of violation of Goodreads rules), but there is mention here of masturbation, voyeurism, and panty sniffing. None of this is given in any true detail, but it is mentioned. I know that we're all mature, but I also know that some people just don't like reading stuff like that (and possibly don't want very young readers to read this) so I do feel like I should mention this.
However at the same time this is an exceedingly well written light novel series and one that is so fun to read that I'm still slightly surprised that it hasn't been brought over by Yen Press or similar yet. It's perverted, but it's all done a bit tongue in cheek, although I know that the age of the protagonist (who is a 30-something stuck in the body of a toddler) would likely potentially alienate some audiences. (He does grow rapidly during the series, though.)
I think what makes this so much fun is that it never takes itself seriously. Even when dealing with the wish fulfillment issues (because let's face it, how many of us have wished we could become someone else?) the book tends to never quite take itself seriously. It's all written in a fairly light hearted manner that helps us take any of the bigger issues with a grain of salt, which also helped me be more sympathetic with our lead character.
Overall it's definitely worth checking out at the main Baka-Tsuki website if you're curious. (Along with their other series as well.)
I'll admit that I picked this up a bit by accident, thinking it was something else. (The Irregular at Magic High School, if you were wondering. I'm noI'll admit that I picked this up a bit by accident, thinking it was something else. (The Irregular at Magic High School, if you were wondering. I'm not sure how I made this mistake either.) It ended up being one of those happy mistakes because this really is a fun series so far.
Yen Press really has made a good decision in bringing this over because not only is this a good series, but it has a pretty wide appeal. Like magic? It has that. Like sci-fi? It has that as well. It all mixes fairly well together and while this does tend to occasionally fall into a few typical anime cliches like "instant friendship/attraction" and such, none of it is done in a manner that would drive off a potential reader.
I admit that the length of the series (24 volumes) is a bit of a commitment as far as my wallet is concerned, so I do have to say that I wish that the price point for this series was a little lower. At a price point of on average $11-13 (depending on where you buy it), I have to say that while this series is fun the price point will likely keep a few people from purchasing this outright. I normally don't bring up price points, but I know that this is a deal breaker for a lot of people when it comes to extremely long running series.
Overall though, so far this is a fun series and one that I can easily recommend to light novel fans. It's a fairly good way to get new and reluctant readers to get started, but it's also the type of series I can see older readers getting into as well. Because it is a light novel it isn't going to be the most challenging read out there (most of you will knock this out in a day), but it's definitely a promising series. ...more