“Is it okay to hate a dead kid? Even if you loved him once? Even if he was my best friend? Is it okay to hate him for being dead?”
Please Ign3.5 stars
“Is it okay to hate a dead kid? Even if you loved him once? Even if he was my best friend? Is it okay to hate him for being dead?”
Please Ignore Vera Dietz is a story about a 18-year-old girl faced with the loss of her best friend. On one side, this novel is burdened with a scary amount of raw realism. It tells a story that hits too close to home, one that none of us want to hear. There are pedophiles, abusive husbands, drinking problems, runaway mothers and friends who break our hearts. There's too much to handle at once, for Vera and for me. Then there’s the other side that is as far from reality as can possibly be. The funny yet touching flow charts, talking pagodas, best friends turned into pickles and thousands of haunting ghosts serve as a soothing balm that helps heal the wounds made by the all-too-possible first side of the story. For the most part, when those two sides collide, the result is great and stunningly original. However, the combination didn’t work so well for the ending. When it came time to resolve Vera's situation, I wanted King to choose one or the other, to either write an utterly realistic ending, or a completely absurd one. What she gave us felt like a cop out. But who am I to judge? My rating is a cop out as well.
It was easy enough to blame my three readalong partners for my reluctance to write this review. All three of them did such an amazing job. Ms. Marr’s deliciously funny and incredibly smart words, Ms. Reynje’s colorful world that never fails to pull my heartstrings and Ms. Lisa’s strong logic and astonishing insightfulness would intimidate even the most creative minds. But the bigger truth is that I needed time to figure out exactly why I didn’t enjoy this book quite as much as they did, especially when I claim to be such a huge fan of literary realism. And it’s true. Balzac, Stendhal, Tolstoy and many others helped me become the person I am today. But the reality they described for me is in no way my reality. I can easily dive into it knowing that I’m untouchable. Vera’s story, however, happens in everyone’s back yard. It’s the almost tangible reality of it that I can’t handle.
That doesn’t mean that I won’t recommend this book to anyone who will listen. I’ll probably reread it myself at some point.
A big thanks to Lisa, Reynje and Shirley for this amazing adventure that became known as the Double Date readalong. Everything is fun when you’re around. ...more
This is one of those very rare occasions when I feel comfortable recommending a book I didn’t enjoy myself. Tankborn is a story that raises some veryThis is one of those very rare occasions when I feel comfortable recommending a book I didn’t enjoy myself. Tankborn is a story that raises some very important issues and manages to make all the necessary points while completely avoiding a condescending tone. It is a dystopian novel with elements of science fiction, and I think it’s safe to say that it stands out among the (too) many dystopian novels that seem to be growing like mushrooms these days.
There are three levels of society in Tankborn: tankborns, genetically engineered non-humans, created specifically for one purpose by adding a certain skill set (sket); lowborns, usually manual workers and certainly not rich, but with rights and control over their lives; and trueborns, nobility of sorts, who have wealth, power and complete control over tankborns.
Tankborn is told from three different points of view: Kayla’s, Mishalla’s and Devak’s. Both Kayla and Mishalla are tankborns. Kayla was made stronger than an average human and she is meant to be a caregiver, and Mishalla’s genes were altered in a way that allows her to be a good nanny and her job is to take care of children. As tankborns, neither of the girls has any rights, they are essentially slaves. Kayla is considered a freak even among her own because her GEN tattoo is on the wrong cheek. Devak is a trueborn, from one of the most prominent families on Loki. He saves Kayla and her nurture brother Jal from some boys and later Kayla gets assigned to take care of his grandfather.
While the social structure was carefully thought out and very convincing, the worlbuilding left a lot to be desired. Tankborn is set on a planet called Loka that reminded me too much of Earth in every way. I felt that the author, having decided to create this planet, should have seen it through and given the readers a little more information about it. There was a brief description of some animals on Loka at the very beginning that caused me to get my hopes up, but after that, the planet itself stopped being important.
The few mammals on Loka weren’t as hideous as the spider-creatures. The wary seycats that kept the vermin down in the warehouses sported intriguing pelts and tall tufted ears. The six-legged droms that roamed the plains had thick mottled wool and droopy noses and only one pair of large black eyes set in their camel-like heads.
Do you see now why I wanted more of that? To have one such passage in the first chapter, and nothing after, was a little disappointing. I can’t say that I was really convinced by Devak’s feelings for Kayla. He went from not wanting to touch her and being disgusted by her to liking her a little too quickly for my taste.
Tankborn is a solidly written story about racism, hatred and survival of friendship. It’s entirely my fault that I didn’t enjoy it more, and while that information may be useless for other readers, I really can’t lie and say that I liked it more than I did. Part of my problem was that it felt more like a middle grade novel than young adult. I’m nevertheless pretty sure that fans of dystopia will be thrilled with these characters and society.
EDIT 1/22/12: Stop by The Nocturnal Library for an interview with Kristen Painter. We're also giving away two copies of this book. Giveaway is internaEDIT 1/22/12: Stop by The Nocturnal Library for an interview with Kristen Painter. We're also giving away two copies of this book. Giveaway is international.
She had more signum than just what was on her hands, feet and face. The lacy gold mapped her entire body. A finely wrought filigree of stars, vines, flowers, butterflies, ancient symbols, and words ran from her feet, up her legs, over her narrow waist, spanned her chest, and finished down her arms to the tips of her fingers. Gilded, head to toe. No wonder she glittered like lost treasure.
Not just a pretty cover after all. I didn’t even wait to finish Blood Rights before ordering the second and the third book from The Book Depository. I only needed to read the first 20% to know, without a doubt, that this is a series I’ll love.
Chrysabelle is not an ordinary human. Her whole body is covered in gold tattoos and at 115, she looks no more than 20 years old. She’s a comarré, a human hybrid born and bred for one sole purpose: to feed a noble vampire. A comarré’s body produces more blood than it needs, so every comarré needs to be fed from regularly or they develop hypervolemia. Their blood rights are sold to a noble and nobody else gets to feed from them as long as their Master lives. In return, vampire saliva gives the comarré super-human strength and eternal youth. But Chrysabelle is special even among her own kind. Her blood rights were sold to Lord Algernon, Dominus of the House of Tepes, for 22 million Euro, the highest price any comarré has ever achieved. She spent almost a hundred years in Algernon’s house, until one day her Master got killed by a weapon only a comarré can wield. Instead of enjoying her freedom after 100 years of servitude, Chrysabelle must leave Corvinestri and travel to Paradise City in order to try and clear her name.
Even in Paradise City, Chrysabelle has no one to turn to but Mal, the only vampire in the world who wants nothing to do with her. Mal used to be a noble vampire of great power, one of the strongest in the House of Tepes, but he became anathema after being cursed for the second time. Because of his curse, every person he sinks his fangs into must die, and those he kills end up living inside his head, haunting him forever. His body is covered with names of his victims. To avoid adding another voice to the constant noise in his head, he wants to stay as far away from Chrysabelle as possible, no matter how hungry he is or how good her blood smells to him. However, Chrysabelle offers to help him lift his curse, and that’s the only thing Mal cannot refuse.
You judge me while you have no idea what it's like. My head is never quiet. Never. You try spending just twenty-four hours without a moment's privacy and see if it doesn't make you a little crazy. I live that every day and night.
Some described Blood Rights as being halfway between urban fantasy and paranormal romance, but I have to disagree. This is urban fantasy in its purest form. Sure, we have a strong heroine and a strong hero and they DO work together, but the focus is not on will-they-won’t-they at all, at least I didn’t see it that way. The worldbuilding is far too good for paranormal romance: I loved the combination of old vampire traditions and the technology one could expect in the year 2067. Supporting characters are also fantastic. Tatiana is one of the best villains in urban fantasy as far as I’m concerned, and Mal’s companions, Fi and Doc, are so interesting that they deserve their own trilogy.
Pure was deliciously dark and twisted, but to me, it just wasn’t good enough.
Three women step out – all fused – a tangle of cloth hiding their engorgPure was deliciously dark and twisted, but to me, it just wasn’t good enough.
Three women step out – all fused – a tangle of cloth hiding their engorged middle. Parts of each face seem to be shiny and stiff as if fused with plastic. Groupies, that’s what they’re called. One of the women has sloped shoulders, a curved spine. There are many arms, some pale and freckled, the others dark.
It took me about 120 pages to really get into this book – much more than it should have, of course. I always struggle with dystopias at first, but it’s usually for two or three chapters, not more than that. The beginning was very slow, and although I understand the need to build the atmosphere, especially in a book whose main goal seems to be to shock and repulse, I felt that it should have been done gradually, or at least differently. As much as I appreciated (though not enjoyed) the descriptions of people fused with objects or other people, I couldn’t help but wonder if that’s all I would ever get. Fortunately, things started moving just a little faster after those 120 pages, but Baggott still kept pressing the “pause” button on her action scenes in order to describe every little thing her characters came across. Everyone who knows me at least a little bit knows that I’m a big fan of descriptive writing when it serves to evoke a wide palette of emotion. My problem with Pure was that it aimed to evoke only one - disgust. After a hundred pages or so, it became extremely tiresome.
The story is told from multiple points of view. Oddly enough, the one I preferred, the one I could easily identify with, was neither Pressia nor Partridge, it was Lyda, the girl Partridge sort of liked, but mostly just used to get out of the Dome. I eventually started liking Partridge too, even though that took a while, but Pressia never really came alive for me. I still have no idea who she really is and how I’m supposed to feel about her. I would have loved to know more about the creatures she made to trade them on the market, but the one thing I wanted described in detail was just mentioned once or twice in passing.
As far as I’m concerned, the most important thing in a dystopian/post-apocalyptic novel isn’t the romance, the action, or even the writing – it’s social structure. You can be the most skilled writer on the planet, but if your society isn’t convincing enough, you will lose my interest before you can say ‘write a better book’. For me, this is where Baggott failed the most- I wanted to know more – more about the government on both sides (but more outside the Dome), about how it all came to be, and especially about the day when the world went to hell in a handbasket. I want to know how Partridge’s father became the most important person in the world, the only real decision maker. Where were the old governments? Who exactly pulled the strings ever since Partridge’s parents were young? Instead of focusing on endless descriptions of Groupies and Dusts, I would have liked to see at least some of those questions answered. Unfortunately, the little information I was offered wasn’t nearly believable enough.
That doesn’t mean that Pure was all bad. There were things I liked a lot, especially the fact that it managed to surprise me a few times. In a genre where predictability is accepted and even expected, Baggott somehow included quite a few twists and turns that I never saw coming. I think I would have liked Pure more if it were about a hundred pages shorter. It had its moments and I believe I will read book 2 when it comes out, but unfortunately, this one left a lot to be desired.
Favorite quote: She glances back before stepping into the alley, and she catches her grandfather looking at her the way he does sometimes – as if she’s already gone, as if he’s practicing sorrow.
This summer has been full sequels that outshined their predecessors. Dearly, Beloved is one of them. Not only is it funnier, better thought-out and beThis summer has been full sequels that outshined their predecessors. Dearly, Beloved is one of them. Not only is it funnier, better thought-out and better written than Dearly, Departed, it also affected me more strongly. The plot is well-planned and well-executed and it finally gave this series a much needed direction it lacked in the first book.
Strangely enough, I originally gave Dearly, Beloved three starts, but, upon further consideration, I decided it deserved more. Lia Habel has enormous talent for worldbuilding, and she is quite good at creating vivid imagery and leaving a strong impression on her readers. The secondary and even tertiary characters she introduced aren’t lacking in detail or in color – from the zombie girl who grows flowers in her rotting body to our dear, headless doctor Samedi, they are all both interesting and entirely unforgettable. As for the main characters, they all changed significantly, some for the better, and some (like Pamma) not. Once again, Habel doesn’t shy away from gory details. Some of the descriptions in Dearly, Beloved are utterly disgusting (and infinitely thrilling, of course). It is through blood and rotten body parts that she breathed life into her world and made it stand apart.
The only thing I can’t seem to get used to is the number of perspectives. There are even more this time: Nora and Bram of course, Pamela, but also Michael, Vespertine, Coalhouse and a newly introduced character, Laura (the zombie flower girl). All of them undoubtedly contributed something significant and as hard as I try, I honestly can’t come up with another way to tell the same story, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t feel disjointed at times.
Romance, however, is what really brought me to my knees. I expected it to be lovely after Dearly, Departed, but I didn’t expect such sweetness and maturity. Nora and Bram face everything together, they understand each other perfectly. Nothing can keep these two apart, they love each other as openly and honestly as they can, aware that time is quickly running out for Bram. And yet, even with time in mind, they (mostly) uphold the rules of propriety, they are both bold and respectful at the same time and this balance they constantly maintain is quite beautiful.
I wasn’t the biggest fan of Dearly, Departed, but everything changed with this book. I can’t wait to read more.
They came in with the tide. The moon illuminated long lines of froth as the waves gathered and gathered and gathered offshore, and when they finally bThey came in with the tide. The moon illuminated long lines of froth as the waves gathered and gathered and gathered offshore, and when they finally broke on the sand, the capaill uisce tumbled onto the shore with them. The horses pulled their heads up with effort, trying to break free from the salt water.
I had to restrain the squealing, fangirly Maja and shove her in the closet so that the adult, critical Maja can sit and write this review. Believe me, it’s better this way.
With The Scorpio Races, Maggie Stiefvater has finally earned my complete trust. I promise never to doubt her again. I’ve read four of her books so far and I gave all four of them five stars. If there was ever an author who deserved my wholehearted support, it’s her. She is an artist above all else, and if that alone isn’t enough, here’s another reason for my respect:
Other writers might have different priorities, but for me, the chief goal of my novels is not plot or premise or pacing, but to evoke a certain feeling. I will sacrifice most anything in order to change someone's mood in a certain way. I can't do that without careful navigation of metaphor and character development. (From Ms. Stiefvater’s blog post)
But I’ll limit my praise to The Scorpio Races for now:
This time, Stiefvater flirted a little more seriously with the fantasy genre and created an amazingly gripping story. People on the fictional island Thisby live and breathe for one thing and one thing alone: wild and bloodthirsty water horses, the capaill uisce. They are either directly involved in the races or they take care of tourists from the mainland. Even though the Scorpio Races are held only once a year, the heartbreak and the loss they inevitably bring are almost too big for one small island. People die in the races. They die because they are too slow, too vulnerable or too ready to trust the monsters they are riding on. The capaill uisce may be stunningly beautiful, but all you have to do is turn your back on them for one short second, and their teeth will already be deep inside your flesh. It takes everything in me not to whimper. The creature is black as peat at midnight, and its lips are pulled back into a fearsome grin. The ears are long and wickedly pointed toward each other, less like a horse and more like a demon. They remind me of shark egg pouches. The nostrils are long and thin to keep the sea out. Eyes black and slick: a fish’s eyes. It still stinks like the ocean. Like low tide and things caught on rock. It’s barely a horse. It’s hungry.
Kate “Puck” Connoly and her two brothers lost their parents when a bloodthirsty capall uisce attacked them on the sea. Ever since, the three of them survive by fixing things for other people, making teapots, helping in the local store and doing anything at all to put some butter and flour in their mostly empty pantry. But when the oldest brother, Gabe, the only one with a steady job, decides to leave the island, and Benjamin Malvern threatens to take their house away, Puck sees no other choice but to join the dangerous race in order to save her house, and maybe even prevent her brother from leaving.
Sean Kendrick lost his mother to the mainland and his father in the race. Enormous talent and love for the capaill uisce made it possible for him to survive on the island, working for Benjamin Malvern and his obnoxious son Mutt. Sean has won the races four out of six times. He has everyone’s respect and a decent amount of money saved. The only thing stopping him from leaving the Malverns is Corr, the capall uisce that is Sean’s only family. This year more than ever Sean has to win the races because if he wins, Benjamin Malvern will finally sell him Corr, thus setting them both free.
Make no mistake: even though this story is told from two alternating POVs and it seemingly focuses on Sean and Puck, it’s really a story about the water horses. They are what matters, Sean and Puck are just tour guides. If you’re looking for romance, you could end up disappointed. It is present, but the emphasis is on other things this time. The writing is atmospheric and it feels like a thick mist, albeit one you're in no hurry to get out of. The island itself is a character: people, mentality and everyday struggles they face. The rich American buyer, George Holly, is there to remind us exactly how different the island people are.
Please follow the link above to find out more about Stiefvater's writing priorities. She is one amazing lady and she just keeps proving her worth over and over again with every new word she writes.
Members of the Private Unaffiliated Paranormal Investigations (P.U.P.I.), often referred to as puppies, function extremely well as a team. A3.5 stars
Members of the Private Unaffiliated Paranormal Investigations (P.U.P.I.), often referred to as puppies, function extremely well as a team. A year of solving crimes together made them pretty confident about their skills and it allowed them to get to know each other really well. They even have an 87% success rate, something that Ian Stosser likes to mention as often as possible. Sharon and Nifty are still battling for leadership, but their power struggle doesn’t affect everyday work. If anything, the strong competition makes them more focused and reliable.
Bonnie and Venec are trying to figure out their Merge and what it might mean for them, personally and professionally. They both realize that their compatible currents might be put to good use at work, but they are also too stubborn and possibly even too scared to explore the possibilities. Neither of them is the kind of person who can easily accept destiny, they both want to believe that they’re in control, so they prefer fighting their mutual attraction instead of just surrendering to it. Of course, there’s also the fact that he’s the Big Dog and Bonnie is just a puppy, which means that their relationship might prove disastrous for the team. Bonnie’s recreational, emotionless sex with Pietr doesn’t really change things either way, but that’s not to say that Venec’s too happy about it. Big Dog can growl like nobody’s business!
In Pack of Lies, we had the usual first person major point of view, but we were occasionally allowed to see things from Venec’s perspective as well, and those parts were in third person, probably to avoid confusion. This time, Gilman takes it even further and offers more POVs: Venec’s, Ian’s, Nick’s and Sharon’s. While some might be uncomfortable with such a choice, and especially with the changes from 1st person to 3rd person and back, it was necessary because the puppies were divided in half, working on two unrelated cases, and obviously Bonnie couldn’t be everywhere at once.
Bonnie is a really good heroine: she is smart, honest to a fault, self-confident and pretty good at what she does. I like that she’s not in any way better than the rest of the team. Instead of focusing on a single character, these books focus on the actual cases and everything else, even romance (especially romance!) takes the back seat.
Book 4, Damage Control, should be released in Spring 2012.
And so ends yet another series. Darn. I really wanted more of this one.
I can’t decide if Laura Anne Gilman is better at worldbuilding or character buAnd so ends yet another series. Darn. I really wanted more of this one.
I can’t decide if Laura Anne Gilman is better at worldbuilding or character building. The idea of Talent, people with the ability to control electric current, the new generation of witches and wizards; and fatae, the non-human magical creatures, is too good not to be explored in detail, which is why Gilman had two loosely connected series set in this universe. While I never made it past book two in The Retrievers series (not because I didn’t want to, but because I can’t seem to find the time), I’ve been following her Paranormal Scene Investigations series closely, stalking the poor woman, pestering her on Twitter and doing other things I’m too ashamed to admit here and now. It’s her fault, though. *points finger accusingly* You can’t write characters like Bonnie, Venec, Ian, Sharon, Nicky, Pietr and Nifty and expect not to be stalked and begged for more.
The PUPs have a lot to deal with in Dragon Justice, even more than usual. A serial killer has been killing male Talents for the last thirty years, and he appears to be human, not fatae. An untrained storm-seer saw both Ian Stosser and Wren Valere dead in the near future. An unknown Talent is gathering young girls into a coven in Central Park for an unknown purpose. And, most delicious of all, Ben Venec and Wren Valere go against each other, him tightening the security of a museum, and her trying to “retrieve” (by which I mean steal) an item from it, to Bonnie’s never-ending amusement.
Once again Gilman brings her two series together: Wren Valere showed up shortly in Tricks of the Trade while Bonnie was apartment-hunting, but she played a much more significant role in Dragon Justice. I must say that I was very excited about seeing these two heroines work together, although to me, The Wren is far less familiar than Bonnie. I also enjoyed the scenes with their two love interests, Ben Venec and Sergei Didier, especially when they started growling at each other.
If I understood correctly (and really, my attention span is not that short), there will be no more books set in this world. Two e-novellas from Danny’s perspective will be released in 2013. After that, we’ll really have to say goodbye to this world. Gilman is working on a new series I know very little about for now, but I’m definitely curious about that project. ...more
3.5 stars I’ll Be There has been collecting dust on my shelf for over a year. I usually don’t buy books unless I intend to read them right away, but so3.5 stars I’ll Be There has been collecting dust on my shelf for over a year. I usually don’t buy books unless I intend to read them right away, but sometime between ordering Holly Goldberg Sloan’s debut and actually receiving it, I convinced myself it would be too emotionally draining. So I just left it on my shelf where it made me feel guilty every time I looked at it. And then last night, I finally picked it up.
In the end, while I did tear up a couple of times, I’ll Be There came nowhere near making me feel all those things I expected it to. It is a modern fairy tale, and as such, it is based on extreme situations and characters, both good and bad. There are no gray areas at all, and this made it very hard for me to form an emotional connection.
Sam and Riddle Border are being raised, and I use the term loosely, by a father who hears voices. He took them from their mother when they were both practically babies and has been dragging them around the country ever since. The younger, Riddle, has untreated asthma and seems to be mentally underdeveloped, and neither of them goes to school.
Because, if you cared about something, it would be taken away. If you stood up for yourself, you would be beaten down. If you spoke out, you would be silenced. They had only learned how to be there for each other. Other people could never be part of the equation. Clarence had set up the rules of the game that way long ago.
Emily Bell is just a normal girl with two normal parents and a normal younger brother. She is a senior in high school and a soccer player. There is nothing unusual about her life, until she meets Sam.
When Sam and Emily meet, they immediately feel a connection and their lives inevitably become intertwined. But Sam’s father Clarence has different plans for his boys, plans that involve a forest and a shotgun, not teenage love and happiness.
I am not used to third person omniscient narrator, not anymore. It is a narrative mode that was favored by Honorè de Balzac and Charles Dickens, for example, but that is rarely seen in newer (genre) fiction. Writing in this way, that allows the reader to see everything, but not to experience it through any of the character’s eyes, is not easy, and for Holly Goldberg Sloan, it was made even more difficult by the emotional complexity of her novel. And yet, she succeeded in offering insight into not just one or two, but almost every character in her book. Instead of getting overwhelmed by a very large number of characters, which would certainly have happened to a lesser author, Goldberg Sloan maintained all the narrative strings firmly in her grasp.
While the narrative voice certainly worked to her advantage in many ways, it also gave I’ll Be There a movie-like quality I didn’t really like. Combined with the naiveté of the plot, it somehow lessened the emotional value of the book.
Goldberg Sloan’s writing gave me so much to admire, but the story itself didn’t exactly inspire awe. Some people never outgrow fairy tales and I truly wish I was one of them, but unfortunately, they hold no appeal for me. This particular (modern) fairy tale is more layered and insightful than most, but it’s a fairy tale nevertheless. As much as I’d like to believe it, people don’t usually get what they deserve, when they deserve it, and the good guys don’t always win against all odds. I find the idea slightly ridiculous, to be honest, having seen far more injustice than any person should see in a lifetime. I envy people who still believe in fairy tales, but I’m not one of them, which means this book just isn’t for me.
The music was bad, the fires were cozy. It was nice. Normal. You know, until the screaming. And that kind of scream in Violet Hill could mean o3.5 stars
The music was bad, the fires were cozy. It was nice. Normal. You know, until the screaming. And that kind of scream in Violet Hill could mean only one thing. Vampires.
Although I had a lot of fun reading it, the fifth and penultimate installment of the Drake Chronicles didn’t quite meet my expectations. Blood Moon is more like a really long chapter than an actual book. It starts exactly where Bleeding Hearts left off, with Solange’s three sets of fangs in Kieran’s neck, and it ends with another vicious cliffhanger.
Remember my Storm review from about a month ago in which I kept going on and on about the four hot Merrick brothers? Well, there are seven Drake brothers, they’re vampires and they’re all gorgeous. The youngest, Nicholas, is in a relationship with his sister Solange’s best friend Lucy, and they make the cutest couple in the history of the universe. Quinn finally abandoned his womanizing ways for Hunter, a vampire hunter and a student at the Helios-Ra academy. Logan is bound to Isaboe, a Hound vampire that survived the French Revolution. Connor is hopelessly in love with Christa, Lucy’s cousin who was recently turned into a vampire. But none of that matters now that the Blood Moon festival is approaching and their mother’s coronation is just day away.
Everyone misses the good old days when the Drake family was living in exile in Violet Hill and all they had to worry about were the Helios-Ra agents roaming the woods. Everyone, including me. I understand how a series works, I know that Harvey needed to up the stakes so close to the series finale, but the sheer number of tribes and groups, human and vampire both, that were going against the Drakes was staggering, and I was confused and lost most of the time.
Blood Moon is told from Lucy’s, Nicholas’s and Solange’s perspective. Although my favorite couple didn’t get to spend much time together, I could feel how strong their relationship has become and how much they love each other. Lucy has always been one of my favorite characters in the world, she’s what’s pulling me back toward these books and I can totally imagine her as my best friend. (She’d have to actually exist first, but you know, details.) Nicholas is not far behind, he is the perfect brother, the perfect young vampire (NOT of the vegetarian kind) and a perfect boyfriend to Lucy. I loved seeing his family and Lucy through his eyes again. Solange, on the other hand, was a disappointment. I can’t say I ever really liked her, but now she’s reached the point of no redemption. Of course the cause for her actions was made clear in the last part of Blood Moon, but I’d already stopped caring by then, and I don’t think I’ll ever care again.
Bloomsbury and Walker Children’s decided that it’s time to wrap up this series, and I have to say I agree with them. Harvey mentioned the possibility of writing a spin-off about Lucy and I truly hope she’ll get her chance. She and Nicholas are the only ones I’m not quite ready to say goodbye to. The last book is called Blood Prophecy and should be out in January 2013.
If there's one thing I've learned in the two and a half years since I joined GoodReads, it’s this: when Maggie Stiefvater recommends a book, I read itIf there's one thing I've learned in the two and a half years since I joined GoodReads, it’s this: when Maggie Stiefvater recommends a book, I read it. Period. She had nothing but praise for John Corey Whaley’s award-winning debut so I ordered it with no questions asked. I just did it because Maggie said so.
Where Things Come Back is such an unassuming little book. It’s like that small, quiet kid in class other kids never even notice, but if they did, they’d see that he is well-read and fiercely intelligent and has a bright future ahead of him.
In Lily, Arkansas, Cullen Witter is living his average life with his average parents and his not-so-average younger brother. He works at a grocery store, doesn’t really understand girls and is generally pretty socially awkward. Then one day Cullen’s brother Gabriel disappears without a trace and his whole life gets turned upside down. To add insult to injury, the people in Lily are more obsessed with a supposedly extinct woodpecker than with a missing sixteen-year-old.
On the other side of the world, Benton Sage is having doubts about the nature of his mission in Africa. He feels that handing out food and a prayer isn’t enough to save people. He wants to do God’s work, and passing out food, water and Christ as quickly and efficiently as possible seems far too simple and not nearly enough.
The two stories come together in a very unexpected way that is sure to take your breath away.
Whaley has an amazing talent of telling extremely dramatic stories in a decidedly non-dramatic way. Throughout the book, Cullen seems oddly detached, almost unfeeling, but even when you catch glimpses of his emotions, they’re not outbursts but rather quiet confessions from a character who would much rather remain unnoticed. This character, and most Whaley’s characters, really, are amazing in their simplicity and all of them are unique, from desperate mothers to religious fanatics.
What you need to know about me is that I don't like to hug people with whom I'm not romantically involved. I also don't really like to shake people's hands, sit close enough to touch someone, or feel other people's breath on my skin. If you're the type of person who likes to do any of those things, then I won't pretend to understand you.
Although it won both the William C. Morris Award and the Michael L. Printz Award, Where Things Come Back is not for everyone. It has the feel of a classic and I’m certain it’s on its way to become one, but like all classics, it requires a certain amount of patience and trust in its author. If you have that, this beautiful little literary gem will undoubtedly find its place among your favorites.
5 stars for quality, 3 stars for personal enjoyment. The Returning isn't a book I would normally choose to read, because a) I try to avoid historical f5 stars for quality, 3 stars for personal enjoyment. The Returning isn't a book I would normally choose to read, because a) I try to avoid historical fiction as much as I can; and b) as a former literature student, I've read my fair share of literary fiction and, unless it was written by Coetzee, I have no desire to read any more in the next five years or so. Historical + literary usually means I'd rather eat dirt, thank you very much. However, this isn't just any book. Aside from being a Printz Honor, it was blurbed by both Megan Whalen Turner and Melina Marchetta. Here's what they wrote:
”I loved this novel. I cried through the whole last chapter from the sheer beauty of these characters and their world.” -Melina Marchetta, author of Jellicoe Road, Printz Medal winner
“A beautiful examination of the complexities of love and loyalty in the aftermath of war.” - Megan Whalen Turner, author ot The Thief, Newberry Honor winner
Obviously, with words like that, these two could persuade me to read a math textbook and actually enjoy it. And I did enjoy The Returning for the most part. The beauty of its prose, the skillfully crafted web in which so many characters were entangled, the extraordinary use of language – outdated to enhance the historical feel, but slightly alien to match the non-existent land… all those things were even better than I expected. And yet, Hinwood didn’t quite reach me on an emotional level, not like an author endorsed by Marchetta and Turner should have.
The residents of Kayforl in Downlads are living a quiet, hardworking life. Several years earlier, six healthy men marched to war against the Uplanders, but only young Cam Attling, who looks suspiciously like an Uplander himself, returned. Their former enemy is now their new Lord and nobody failed to notice how highly Cam Attling speaks of him. Cam Attling hasn’t really been welcomed back by anyone but his family and his best friend Ban who is hopelessly in love with him. He’s lost an arm in the war and he suffers from survivor’s guilt, but he is unable to settle down. His betrothal to young Graceful Fenister was broken by her father and Cam feels useless and unaccepted, even by Ban. Ban is struggling with his feelings for Cam and his responsibility towards his large family. He is worried that his brothers are right and that Cam really is a bad influence, but he is unable to stay away. As Cam leaves Kayforl for the second time, he causes more pain and heartbreak than he could ever have imagined.
The Returning clearly isn’t for everyone: it requires a lot of patience and it has to be read slowly, carefully, to truly appreciate all the layers, the beauty and the heartbreak it has to offer. I’m very glad I decided to read it and I might even reread it at some point. I'm convinced it will be even better the second time.
A copy of this book was kindly provided by the publisher via Netgalley for review purposes.
The Raven Boys is not a book you can just breeze through and immediately forget. Once again Maggie Stiefvater wrote a story that refuses to be categorThe Raven Boys is not a book you can just breeze through and immediately forget. Once again Maggie Stiefvater wrote a story that refuses to be categorized, or even properly described. For me, discovering it and its characters was a slow process. It was like scratching off a lottery ticket when you have no coin to scratch with, so you use your fingernails, and it’s messy and infuriating right up until the point you uncover it all and realize you’ve actually won. That’s what The Raven Boys really are – bits and pieces that reveal themselves painstakingly and gradually, but that combine into a whole unlike anything you’ve ever seen before.
Blue Sargent comes from a family of seers. She lives with her mother and other women like her, but, although she amplifies other people’s talents, she is not a seer herself. When, on St. Mark’s Eve, she sees the spirit of a soon-to-be-dead boy dressed in Aglionby private school uniform, it can only mean one of two things: either he’s her true love, or she’ll be the one to kill him. Richard Gansey is an Aglionby boy through and through – exceedingly rich, radiating self-assurance and power, a bit eccentric and completely obsessed with discovering ley lines and finding the resting place of a medieval Welsh noble, Glendower. He is also the boy whose spirit Blue saw on St. Mark’s Eve, which, according to everything her family believes, means his days are numbered. As always, there was an all-American war hero look to him, coded in his tousled brown hair, his summer-narrowed hazel eyes, the straight nose that ancient Anglo-Saxons had graciously passed on to him. Everything about him suggested valor and power and a firm handshake.
Gansey proved to be the most elusive of Maggie’s characters. Somehow, as hard as I tried, I couldn’t quite see him clearly. The more I attempted to grow attached to him, the more ghost-like he seemed to me. I do believe this was Stiefvater’s intention, though, and it made the story that much sharper and the stakes that much higher. She managed to create that feeling of not being able to hold on to someone – fitting considering the axe above Gansey’s head.
Here’s something I want to make very clear: The Raven Boys is not a romance. Forget about the ‘if you kiss your true love, he will die’ line. I’m sure it will become important at some point in the series, but this book is strangely and refreshingly romance-free. Instead, it is full of ghosts and murderers, Latin-speaking trees, ancient rituals and baby ravens. It is the furthest thing from what I expected.
It took a while for me to warm up to this story, but just as my patience was starting to wear thin, the fireworks begun and everything fell in its place. I believe Stiefvater paced The Raven Boys with the whole series in mind, which is perfectly fine by me because I trust her to make it all worthwhile, but I fear that some might find the first half far too slow.
As unique and breathtaking as this story was, something was missing from it, something I can only describe as Maggie’s spirit. She has a signature, that subtle thing that makes her books instantly recognizable and that makes her my favorite author in the world. That signature, the unique emotion present in all her books, is far less clear in The Raven Boys.
Those who used to complain about Maggie’s writing, calling it flowery and purplish, will have no such problems with The Raven Boys. I, on the other hand, feel that I’ve lost something I can’t quite name, and I can only hope it’ll return in the next book.
Back when Perdition was first mentioned, pitched as Prison Break in space (I kid you not), I immediately knew it would be a dream come true. Because sBack when Perdition was first mentioned, pitched as Prison Break in space (I kid you not), I immediately knew it would be a dream come true. Because seriously, violence and mayhem, Ann Aguirre style? In space?! Give me that, and then give me some more! So when it finally found its way into my greedy little hands, I was basically in ecstasy. And I remained in an absolute state of bliss throughout.
While this trilogy may be a Jax series spin-off, readers who aren’t familiar with Jax won’t be at a loss at all. It is entirely possible to read (and fully enjoy) this separately. Details that were previously known about Jael get reintroduced pretty quickly in Perdition so that everyone is at the same place. That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t find the time to read Jax – you should – but it’s not a prerequisite.
Space station known as Perdition houses only the most hardened of criminals. The people imprisoned there are no small-time thieves, rapists or murderers. It takes a truly heinous crime (or hundreds of them) to get someone a one-way ticket to Perdition from the Conglomerate. ‘Innocent’ is not a word that gets thrown around often, not even for our heroine, Dresdemona “Dred” Devos.
Taking the reader on a space station where not a single redeemable character lives may seem like a simple thing, but believe you me, it’s an enormous challenge. We are all, each of us in a slightly different way, emotional readers, and we love to feel sympathy for our characters, but it takes a brilliant author to make us feel sympathy for mercenaries and mass murderers.
In some ways, Perdition is the darkest Ann Aguirre book yet – not because it’s the most violent (although it’s certainly at the very top) – but because there isn’t a single ray of light anywhere on that ship. It is a place where end always justifies the means, and survival is the only thing that counts.
For me, the magic of Aguirre’s writing comes from two sources: the first is her excellent understanding of human nature and psychology, and the second her incredible gift for metaphors. If Ann’s elegant, no-nonsense writing style is the body of this story, the few well-placed, hard-hitting metaphors are its very soul. With no more than a few words, Aguirre unfailingly manages to both bring forth the desired emotional response and leave her readers in awe of her writing skills.
The more I tried to choose and point out my favorite thing about this book, the more I realized that such a feat was next to impossible. I was just about ready to put Dred and Jael’s relationship on the pedestal, only to remember, among other things, certain bloody battles that took my breath away. With each new book she writes, Ann Aguirre has to live up to some pretty high standards, and she achieves it so effortlessly every single time.
Perdition will give you no time to breathe, but it will make you appreciate your freedom, the roast beef sandwich you had for lunch, and that extra bar of soap in your bathroom. It will also make you care for its characters despite their awful and violent histories. My recommendation? Get out of that chair and go grab a copy now!
Stop by The Nocturnal Library to read a guest post by Jana Oliver and enter for a chance to win a copy of this book or any other book in The Demon TrStop by The Nocturnal Library to read a guest post by Jana Oliver and enter for a chance to win a copy of this book or any other book in The Demon Trappers series + signed swag.
Reviewing a last book in the series is never easy or especially fun. In fact, it’s one of my least favorite things to do, vacuuming and peeling onions included. Fortunately for me, Jana Oliver gave me a lot to write about, all of it good.
Riley Blackthorne is finally sure that she loves her father’s protégé and her friend and protector, Denver Beck. She may have given up her soul to avoid the Armageddon, but her heart still knows where it stands. The kiss they exchanged on the cemetery right before the battle was pretty eye-opening for both of them, but now that Beck’s past is coming back to haunt him, he doesn’t want Riley anywhere near him, all in a misguided attempt to protect her and save himself from possible rejection. The way Riley sees it, the only way for the two of them to ever be together is to uncover the skeletons in Beck’s closet and make him see that she will always stand by his side, no matter what. Of course their story isn’t the only thing we have to worry about. There are human enemies to defeat and demons to destroy. Once again Oliver entertains with the wide variety of creatures she's created: from Pyro-Fiends and Klepto-Fiends to Arch-Fiends and fallen angels.
I think Beck’s fans (because really, aren’t we all?) will be quite happy with this story. Even though there’s a battle between Heaven and Hell going on in the background, Foretold mainly focuses on his personal demon, his horrible, uncaring mother and the crime he was always blamed for, but never officially accused of. Although Oliver always experimented with language, she took it a step further in Foretold. The finer nuances of Beck’s character were constantly emphasized through a very clever use of language. His pronunciation was changing depending on his mood, location and company. His grammar would deteriorate every time he was under stress, which was most easily noticeable in his pronunciation of pronouns. This sort of thing can be very rewarding for an attentive reader and it’s exactly the kind of thing that makes me insanely happy.
I need to say a few words about Riley Blackthorne as well. There was a point in the series (around the middle of book two), where I almost gave up entirely because I couldn’t deal with her whining and self-pity. Yes, she’d had a lot to deal with, but she reminded me of my five year old when she’s both sleepy and hungry. This didn’t take long, but her character didn’t suffer any radical, overnight changes either. It is almost sad that the series is ending now that Oliver finally found solid ground to stand on with her.
It says on the cover that this is a book for older audience and I tend to agree, though I generally dislike such limitations. Younger teens should be aware that these books contain violence and sex that isn’t necessarily a profound, life-changing experience. Sometimes sex is just sex and Jana Oliver never shied away from it. One of her characters is a twenty-something-year-old war veteran after all, and not one that is happy with sitting alone in his apartment, watching game shows and drinking orange juice. The Demon Trappers series is balancing a fine line between YA and adult urban fantasy, which worked perfectly for me, and hopefully it will for those of you who have yet to give it a chance.
Innocent Darkness is a story about Noli, a girl who lost her social status and her chances for a good marriage when her father disappeared, and is forInnocent Darkness is a story about Noli, a girl who lost her social status and her chances for a good marriage when her father disappeared, and is forced to go to a boarding school for troubled girls, from where she is later taken to Faery to become the human sacrifice that will save the entire realm. She is found and taken by the queen’s ruthless huntsman Kevighn. He somehow falls in love with Noli even though she’s just one of many girls he’s kidnapped and brought to his queen to be killed. Noli’s best friend V, whom she has feelings for, turns out to be none other than the earth court prince in exile and comes rushing to save her.
If someone had given me a copy of Innocent Darkness without the cover and the publisher info, I’d have dropped it after less than 20%, thinking that it’s self-published, and one of those books that gives self-publishing a bad name. Innocent Darkness seems unfinished and unpolished. It lacks structure, it’s full of rough transitions, repetitiveness and contradictions. In fact, to me it seemed more like a draft than like a finished book. It was very rough around the edges and uneven in more ways than one. The transitions between different points of view tended to be too abrupt and badly handled so they always came like a slap in the face.
In some ways, the book seemed very childish, but then there was just enough sex and opium to make me uncomfortable. (Reading about either of those things doesn’t make me uncomfortable in itself, but in this case, it didn’t fit well with the rest of the story.) I am glad that the author decided to tackle the topic of sexual abuse; after all, something like that is highly probable in a boarding school where unprotected girls get examined by a male doctor who has absolute power over them. I just wish the rest of the book wasn’t quite so naïve.
The language was another thing that didn’t sit well with me at all. I’m certainly not an expert in English language, I’m not even a native speaker, but I can recognize a failed attempt when I see one. It wasn’t nearly formal enough for that time (1901), alternate history or not, and throwing in a few archaisms and repeating them over and over again couldn’t have possibly worked. I didn’t actually do a search to see how many times the exact words ‘opium and soft women’ were used, but it must have been over fifteen. To me, this shows that the author doesn’t know the first thing about opium users (or soft women) and that she didn’t do any research whatsoever, but instead adopted this expression because it sounded good to her (or it sounded like an appropriate activity for a man beyond redemption) and insisted on repeating it twice in every chapter. That brings me to Kevighn, the Faery queen’s huntsman, who indulges in all this opium and soft women and is one of the most underdeveloped characters I’ve ever come across. I’m still not quite sure what his role or his motivations were supposed to be, but his entire situation was left completely open, which makes me think that he’ll be very important in the sequel.
At the beginning, I liked Noli’s best friend V, even though he was a bit of a cliché, but as the story progressed and he was conveniently given the role that was most needed at the time, the whole thing (and his character) became utterly ridiculous. The way the plot was solved was also entirely predictable and childish and in complete contrast with the darker parts of the book I’ve mentioned earlier. That ending would have fit better in a children’s book, but for an adult, or even a young adult, it’s almost insulting.
I guess I’ve made it abundantly clear that I won’t be reading the next book in the Aether Chronicles. At best, this book needs a lot more work, but frankly, I’m not sure it can be saved.
It’s been a year since Agent Eliza Braun was pulled from the field due to insubordination (temper, temper, Miss Braun!) and sentenced to work in the aIt’s been a year since Agent Eliza Braun was pulled from the field due to insubordination (temper, temper, Miss Braun!) and sentenced to work in the archives with Mr. Wellington Thornhill Books, the archivist. Nothing remotely exciting has happened since their very first case together, the one involving a secret society, and Miss Braun is starting to become restless. She needn’t worry, though, since trouble is attracted to her just as Eliza is attracted to trouble, and before you know it, our dashing archivist and our colonial pepperpot find themselves entangled in a complicated case involving missing suffragists, teleportation, ghosts from the past and quite a few explosions. Of course, Eliza and Welly aren’t supposed to be working outside the archives at all, but the field agent assigned to the case has been neglecting his duties in the worst possible way and meanwhile, women from the movement are still disappearing.
Unlike the first installment, The Janus Affair was harder to get into. The beginning was pretty slow compared to the explosive opening scene of Phoenix Rising. I struggled with the first 80 pages for five days straight, giving up and then forcing myself to restart, only to give up again after 10 pages or so. But when things finally started moving, when Eliza and Welly reminded me just how extraordinarily witty (and dysfunctional) they are, I wanted to kick myself for waiting so long to push through the beginning.
I should have remembered how wonderful these two characters are when they interact, how amusing when they snap at each other and, despite all their bickering, how protective they become when a third party goes after one of them. ”Your faith in my abilities does inspire me as would Helen’s visage,” snipped Wellington. “Helen had a thousand ships covering her backside, mate.” Eliza shrugged, motioning to him. “I have an Archivist who’s afraid of guns. You figure out who has the better deal.”
There is more of everything in The Janus Affair: more action, more humor, more inventions, more peculiar occurrences, more witty banter and (ahem!) more unresolved sexual tension. My poor Books is too nerdy and shy to admit to himself, let alone to Eliza, how he really feels, but the arrival of Eliza’s old flame from New Zealand might just push him over the edge. Everyone has secrets, right? Even our gentle archivist has a surprise or two in store.
This, my darlings, is steampunk at its best! I’m not exactly an expert on the genre, but I do recognize quality when I see it, and spouses Pip Ballantine and Tee Morris delivered quality work not once, but two times. From the language (especially language!) and society to the intriguing inventions, even the smallest detail is in its place. If you intend to read one steampunk in your life, this is what you should choose. Ballantine and Morris know what they’re doing.
Noa has spent almost her entire life in the system, changing foster parents far too often. Along the way, she became extremely good with computers and Noa has spent almost her entire life in the system, changing foster parents far too often. Along the way, she became extremely good with computers and she somehow managed to create a false foster family for herself, make a lot of money online under the name of her non-existent foster father and rent a great apartmen. But because of her lack of personal connections, she is targeted by a group that performs illegal medical experiments on human subject. At the beginning of Don’t Turn Around, she wakes up in a warehouse on an operating table with a huge scar on her chest and with absolutely no recollection of how she got there. She somehow manages to run, but she is cut off from her money and her things, and she has nowhere to go. Peter’s parents are obscenely rich, but ever since his brother died from a rare disease, he might as well be an orphan. His year older girlfriend just started college and is drifting away and he’s not really interested in anything but the website he created for his group of hacktivists. One day, while going through his father’s files, he stumbles upon a URL and when he tries to access it, armed men storm into his house, threaten him and take away his laptop. Completely terrified, but still curious, Peter turns to the best hacker from his site, which happens to be Noa. Pretty soon it becomes clear that their goal is the same, but that doesn’t mean they instantly trust each other.
Don’t Turn Around is an action-packed adventure that leaves you no time to relax, blink or even breathe. Before I started reading, I was curious about the title, but it soon became very clear. The main characters are being chased from one place to the next throughout the book and turning around to look at their pursuers is rarely a good idea. Although separately, both Noa and Peter are on the run the entire time, always trying to find somewhere safe to huddle with a laptop and learn more about the people hunting them. Since they’re both on their own, running, hiding and fighting back using minimal resources, the book has very little dialogue, but it is very fast-paced. The rapid pacing was exhilarating at first, but it soon became exhausting - it left me a bit dizzy and actually physically tired.
Fans of romance will be heavily disappointed. Dual perspective has been growing in popularity, especially in YA, and in most cases it means that the two main characters will eventually fall in love, sometimes very early in the story, sometimes a bit later. Noa and Peter don’t even meet properly until the second half, and even then there’s a lot of distrust between them, so there’s really no real romance to speak of. Peter is heartbroken and Noa is, for the most part, just broken, and even though they’re occasionally attracted to each other, that’s as far as it goes. Personally, I didn’t mind that one bit, but I know there will be a lot of frustrated readers out there.
If you’re expecting any kind of closure from this book, you will be disappointed. The ending is not exactly a cliffhanger, but nothing is resolved either. At one (pretty random) point, the story just stops. Nevertheless, I have no intention of reading the sequel, I just didn't develop any emotional attachments to these characters.
2.5 stars In a sentence, Eve and Adam by the husband-and-wife writing team Katherine Applegate and Michael Grant is a smartly plotted and solidly writt2.5 stars In a sentence, Eve and Adam by the husband-and-wife writing team Katherine Applegate and Michael Grant is a smartly plotted and solidly written book that, unfortunately, lacks both depth and substance. I could be wrong in assuming that it is a packaged book, but even if I am, I’m pretty confident it was written with no real passion for the story. Although I certainly can’t object to the quality of writing itself, the superficiality with which the idea was developed is disappointing to say the least.
Evening Spiker, daughter of the mighty and powerful geneticist Terra Spiker, gets hit by a car and barely survives. She is immediately transferred to her mother’s company, where she starts recovering at an alarming rate. While in Spiker Biotech, Eve meets a young man named Solo Plissken, supposedly her mother’s ward, who tells her she’s been genetically modified when she was a child, just like he was. Solo then gives her proof of her mother’s cruel genetic experiments, and Eve is forced to make some big moral decisions. In order to keep Eve entertained while she’s recovering in Spiker Biotech, her mother tasks her with creating a simulation of the perfect boy, which she eventually does. His name is Adam and he is being brought to life unbeknownst to Eve. His point of view is introduced in the second half of the book, and it completely destroys the narrative dynamics, already ruined by the unbalance between Eve’s and Solo’s perspectives.
The beginning was my favorite part of Eve and Adam. Surprisingly funny and dynamic, it raised my expectations to an unreasonable level and made what came later all the more disappointing. There was a certain spark in Eve that vanished without a trace as the story progressed, and the humor that made me laugh out loud a number of times during the opening scenes simply wasn’t there later on.
To make matters worse, the (disruptive) subplot involving Eve’s best friend Aislin and her drug-dealing boyfriend Maddox contributed absolutely nothing to the main plot and gave me the impression that Applegate and Grant included it with the sole purpose of increasing the number of pages. Even without Maddox, Aislin was clearly supposed to be the cool and unruly best friend, but I found her too be too irresponsible and tiresome for my taste. Instead of making Eve’s character more likable, she made her look like a pushover over and over again, until I stopped caring about either of them and focused entirely on Solo.
In short, Eve and Adam is a rather ambitious project, but one that lacks heart. My time would have been better spent reading something else, and although I plan to give Michael Grant’s solo projects a chance, I have no intention of reading any of the other books he co-authored with his wife.
I knew very little about Catherine Fisher before reading The Obsidian Mirror, only that she wrote Incarceron, which I have yet to read, so it’s safe tI knew very little about Catherine Fisher before reading The Obsidian Mirror, only that she wrote Incarceron, which I have yet to read, so it’s safe to say I went into this with no expectations whatsoever, just the usual excitement over a pretty cover. In a nutshell, The Obsidian Mirror is a Middle Grade adventure that combines Science Fiction elements (time travel, to be exact), with fairy lore. Had I realized this in time, I doubt I would have requested it since I normally avoid MG like the plague, but it would have been my loss. Fisher is an excellent writer with a good sense of pacing and wonderful imagination.
Time travel always confuses me a bit, but Fisher didn’t make it too complicated. Many questions were left unanswered, but enough was revealed for me to enjoy the story. The obsidian mirror itself, a time portal of sorts, remains a mystery, but one that will surely be resolved in the next installment. The only piece that simply refuses to fit are the fairies. They might be colorful and deliciously creepy, but they contribute nothing to the story and I can’t for the life of me understand their purpose. Perhaps it will be clearer in the second book, but for now, they’re nothing more than a decoration. (Not for me, though, I’m so scared of them.)
I am not a fan of multiple points of view and I think I would have liked this book more were it told from Jake’s perspective alone, preferably in first person. Third person, multiple points of view is my least favorite narrative choice as it often prevents me from creating emotional bonds with the characters and the entire experience can somehow seem cold and clinical. Switching from Jake to Sarah and back, with a few short chapters with other narrative voices broke the natural flow, and all the diary entries by the mirror’s original owner, although essential, certainly didn’t help.
I did like Fisher’s writing a lot, although it’s nothing like what I usually enjoy. Her sentences are short and clear, her style refreshingly concise, and yet she somehow avoids making it seem stilted. It worked well for The Obsidian Mirror, mostly because it’s a Middle Grade adventure and not very emotional at all, but I’m curious to see how it worked in Incarceron.
The Obsidian Mirror left so many questions unanswered and I simply can’t wait to get my hands on the sequel. I will also read Incarceron and Sapphique as soon as I can. Great job, Ms. Fisher!