For one moment, I felt like a river running down to his ocean.
i feel like i need to drop a few lines here about what, precisely, i felt was lacking inFor one moment, I felt like a river running down to his ocean.
i feel like i need to drop a few lines here about what, precisely, i felt was lacking in this story. i so rarely throw down a fewer-than-three-stars rating on here, i figure an explanation may be helpful. i'm not going to go into too much plot-detail, since there are a bazillion reviews of this book already on here - i just want to have a record of my own reaction, for the day when some stranger asks me WHYYYYYYYYYYYY i didn't like this.
there are a few reasons.
1) i am confused
on paper, the concept of fusing multiple fairytales with classical mythology is exciting and should make for a pleasantly dense story that is at once comfortably familiar but also studded with surprising AHA moments as the overlaps and contrasts begin to manifest. however - there wasn't a true marriage between the elements here. their presence was more decorative than functional, and while it occasionally meshed well, overall it was just too cluttered. it's like when you have a really delicious cupcake and it's already got a tasty frosting on top but then someone thinks "add gummy worms!" and it throws off the texture and the taste and you have to chew SO MUCH you forget about how tasty the cupcake was because you're so focused on not choking to death.
2) nyx, the heroine of this book and NOT the greek goddess of night (whose name is a bit problematic in a book that incorporates so many other aspects of greek mythology and in which darkness/shadows but not specifically nighttime are a preoccupation) anyway, her. she's meant to be the sacrifice and savior of her people, trained since she was a little girl in both fighting and magical arts and yet she is not at all a badass heroine. once she gets to the castle, she's completely directionless, which makes the book directionless. she's inconsistent, unstable, easily distracted, prone to violent and short-lived outbursts that simmer down into grumbling recriminations directed at multiple targets. it's emotional whiplash - with her sister, she is loving and resentful, protective and hurtful, with ignifex, she goes from attraction to attempted homicide and back again in the blink of an eye. the inconsistency makes it confusing and difficult to root for her to succeed, because it's hard to know what "success" would even look like, with all the cross-purposes and competing goals and obstacles.
this book is best categorized as a fantasy romance, but i was completely unmoved by the romance itself. which - yes, is a familiar feeling for me, since i'm not a fan of romances, so i'm an easy target for your accusations of not being the right audience. howevs, even when i read a romance that doesn't make me swoon or whatever, i can usually understand why it would work for other readers - i can see that the bones (heh) of the relationship are solid and why the two would fall for each other and why readers would cheer. but this one - this is such a perfunctory romance that exists only because we are told it exists. technically it's a love triangle, and it's at least an interesting version of a love triangle, but it's also the worst kind of instalove because it's unfounded, unearned, and circumstantially selfish.
those are the big three complaints, and all i can muster as a "review" right now. i still really want to read the second book in this standalone series. i think there's a great story underneath all this clutter and i am really rooting for it to manifest in the second installment. at the very least, i am excited because it's a love story between a monsterfighting girl and a boy with no hands. which is pretty hot.
************************************************************ my guess is that some joker broke into my digital copy of this and gleefully altered its contents; transforming it from the amazing, life-changing book everyone is raving about into some half-baked romance featuring a sloppy and confusing mythos-mashup and completely lacking in either emotional tension or a cohesive narrative.
this is either some sort of magic eye puzzle i'm just not equipped to "see" or i have forgotten how to read books.
maybe i'll review this further tomorrow, or maybe i'll take a nap....more
looks like i am the only one who didn't fall head-over-heels in love with this book. i did fall pretty hard for the cover, but it takes more than a prlooks like i am the only one who didn't fall head-over-heels in love with this book. i did fall pretty hard for the cover, but it takes more than a pretty face to win me over…
it has many good qualities: story set in a wholly original fantasy world, families who are supportive and loving that seem realistic rather than idealized, strong imagery and situations that aren't just warmed-over versions of other YA books, romance where the two participants are apart for most of the book, so we don't have to read about all the gazing and fumbling and stammering, debilitating illness written sympathetically and vividly...
i just didn't think the actual story was developed as well as the characters. i never felt the tension i was meant to feel during the actiony events, and beyond the two main characters: aza and jason, none of the other characters were more than foils or obstacles, and overall the fantasy elements were not as well-realized as the realistic ones.
aza has been severely sick her whole life with a respiratory condition so rare that it has actually been named after her, and whose cause and treatment has baffled every last specialist. she is nearly sixteen, much older than she was ever expected to live, when she begins seeing visions of ships in the clouds and hearing something whistling and calling her name. assuming these are hallucinations brought on by one of her medications, she freaks out less than she might ordinarily, until the evening she is visited by an assortment of BIRDS (if you know how i feel about birds, you know how alarming this is), after which she collapses and dies in the ambulance on the way to the hospital.
when she wakes up, she is aboard the very ship she has been "hallucinating," high in the air, where she is re-introduced to her people, because - turns out, she's not from "our" world, she is from magonia, and it's the air on the earth that has been killing her. and there's no specialist for that.
so aza learns about her culture and their rituals, and the BIRD that belongs in HER CHEST and that she is a very special girl with a very special destiny. because YA. however, she has left behind her parents and sister, as well as her best friend-with-possibilities, jason, and even though they all think she's dead, and she has finally found a place where she can breathe, she's torn between two worlds.
and jason, for one, doesn't believe she's really dead.
this one got off to a rocky start for me, because from the outset, i was not a fan of aza's voice. i think she was meant to come off as tough in the face of death or something, but her brittle snark was irritating. her illness was horrible, and i'm not downplaying her struggle, but i also don't automatically canonize the afflicted and i think that when people are bitchy and then say things like "Calling the sick girl names? Please. We all know it's not okay" - it's not fair. if you're going to antagonize people and be provocative, you're gonna get some back, sick or not - no special treatment in high school politics.
but after a while, i got into it, and once jason was introduced, it got a bit better. although it's still "what if john green kids were even more precocious," and they don't read like sixteen-year-olds, it's still a really lovely relationship, and i thought headley did a nice job turning that friendship into maybe-more without it getting all goopy. despite sounding older and being more capable than their years (booking flights, tossing off profitable inventions and having factories in their arsenal, having access to seeecret footage of squids, etc..) i thought the bones of their friendship rang true - nerdy social outcasts finding each other and bonding over pi and the OED. it's very sweet and charming.
i also loved the descriptions of some of the creatures in magonia. not the heartbirds (shudder) or bird-people (bigger shudder), but batsails, squallwhales, stormsharks?? yes pretty please! Can anything I will ever hear from now until the end of time sound cooler than stormsharks? probably not. but that's the thing - a lot of the magonia stuff was just window dressing without a lot of depth. we don't even get to spend any time with stormsharks, they are just a passing detail.
the strengths of this book are completely terrestrial - aza's family, jason's family, and their unshakeable friendship. the fantasy is blurry, the avatar-level eco-preach unnuanced, and the story a little flimsy. i'll read the second one, in the hopes that book two will have way more stormsharks, but i didn't swoon over this one the way it seems the rest of the world did.
how can you take a topic about the homeless of new york city, the fascinating subject of ingenuity andoh, jennifer toth, you annoy the shit out of me.
how can you take a topic about the homeless of new york city, the fascinating subject of ingenuity and survival skills and people living in highly-organized communities off the grid underground and somehow make the story all about you?? you!! some sheltered white girl who uses (and defines -DEFINES!)the word "dissed" like a new toy, traipsing underground like some little red riding hood into the big scary tunnels and chirping about these "almost attractive" people and somehow writing (and getting published) a sorority girl's take on what are actual life or death concerns for a whole lot of people?? can we get a real journalist in here? someone who is not going to talk about themselves the whole time when there are real people with real stories that should maybe be more spotlit?
jesus christ, it would be like someone writing a book review and using all the space to talk about what happened to them at thanksg- oh. ohhhhhh wait. nonono i take this all back. what a marvelous writer.what an incisive - oh, i give up. ...more
seriously, why does everyone suck this book's dick so much?
this book was recommended to me by an ex (who also recommended zuleika dobson and the jokeseriously, why does everyone suck this book's dick so much?
this book was recommended to me by an ex (who also recommended zuleika dobson and the joke, so he had a good track record until then) who knew how much i liked infinite jest so he thought i would like this one. and if i only liked infinite jest because it was a long book written by a white male, then i suppose i would have liked this book. but i didn't, so it must be something else i'm drawn to in the wallace.
i remember i was reading this at the airport where i was going to meet him, like a dutiful girlfriend, and just having my jaw drop at the first part. not because it was soooo goooood like everyone here seems to think. am i really the only one who felt embarrassed by the whole life magazine thing? i remember looking around after i read that part to see if someone was playing a trick on me. when he got off the plane, i just sat there, shaking my head at him sadly. it was the beginning of the end.
look - i really liked white noise, but this i just felt to be a bloated, wooden, oddly-phrased book whose language didn't charm me, but made me unhappy. and then he goes and publishes the first bit as a separate book? who does that?? sorry, delillo - its not terrible, so it gets no 2 stars, but i barely cared about anything in this book, and it ruined a relationship. if i die alone, its your fault....more
why haven't i read borges before?? no one knows. and he was always pushed upon me - "how can you like marquez if you haven't read borges??" "you likewhy haven't i read borges before?? no one knows. and he was always pushed upon me - "how can you like marquez if you haven't read borges??" "you like donoso - you should read borges." "machado is good, but you should read borges." so - fine - i did. and i am utterly underwhelmed. so there. i am learning during my "summer of classix" that most of the books i have for some reason or another overlooked were probably overlooked for a reason. i naturally gravitate towards what i like - and i seem to have a filter that prevents me from picking up too many books i don't. when i force it, this happens. and i liked some of the stories. but borges isn't for everyone (although scrolling down my "friends who have read" list, it looks as though all my friends gave it five stars.) and i'm not accusing you bitches of inflating your ratings, but i have the sense with borges that some people are guilted into liking him. or pretending that they like him more than they do because he's borges. but i won't be. because i am not ashamed of my intellectual shortcomings. i embrace them. i am incapable of abstract thought. fact. as hard as i try, that whole achilles/tortoise thing? does not compute. so all of this hexagon spiraling into hexagon on top of hexagon... i feel like i am back in college (where every single person i ever knew had a copy of this book. and was a stoner.)but this is classic stoner thinking-chains. reflections, labyrinths, it's perfect for that kind of mindset. "dooood, imagine we were in a hexagon right now??" and i know this makes sense to some people with philosophical and theological mindbents, but for me its almost pain. there were about 6 stories i liked, but the first few almost made me weep with trying to find the value in them. sorry, borges. we were never meant to be.
mmmmkay - it seems that there are those who think it would be valuable "in a book review" to list the stories i did like. so: the shape of the sword, theme of the traitor and the hero, death and the compass, the secret miracle, three versions of judas, story of the warrior and the captive, emma zunz, the house of asterion, and the waiting. more than i thought i liked, but still - a sad minority....more
there once was a girl from the bay state who tried to read finnegan's wake. it made her so ill, she took loads of pills. james joyce has that knack to fruthere once was a girl from the bay state who tried to read finnegan's wake. it made her so ill, she took loads of pills. james joyce has that knack to frustrate....more
if you want to read an excellent book about autism in a young person, read marcelo in the real world. thispooƃ ʎɹǝʌ ʇou puɐ ʎʞɔıɯɯıƃ ʎɹǝʌ sı ʞooq sıɥʇ
if you want to read an excellent book about autism in a young person, read marcelo in the real world. this book is like hilary swank - you can tell it is trying really hard to win all the awards but it has no heart inside. and yet everyone eats it up. C0ME ON!!
8 years after i read this book, i finally understand why i didn't like it.
apparently, this is an "either/or book", but i read it as an "and then" boo8 years after i read this book, i finally understand why i didn't like it.
apparently, this is an "either/or book", but i read it as an "and then" book.
dr. wikipedia claims:
An author's note suggests that the book would best be read in one of two possible ways, either progressively from chapters 1 to 56 or by "hopscotching" through the entire set of 155 chapters according to a "Table of Instructions" designated by the author. Cortázar also leaves the reader the option of choosing a unique path through the narrative.
WHERE WAS THAT AUTHOR'S NOTE WHEN I READ THIS BOOK??
because i read the whole 600 page book front-to-back the way one does, AND THEN i went back and hopscotched through it, thinking that there would be some secret doorway that opened or something that would illuminate why i was doing this second pass. but there's no doorway - spoiler alert. and i resented that i seemed to be reading the whole fucking book again for no fucking reason, and i was so baffled about why people seemed to value this book so much when, to me, it just seemed like an elaborate nose-thumbing time wasting prank. and i assumed that people liked it because they were trying to be all douchey-elitist and pretending to like something just because it was difficult or challenging or whatever, and they cherished their shiny gold star for enduring the tedium of repetition. but it's not difficult. it's a playful and lyrical schtick if you only have to read it through once, whichever way you choose. but reading it twice, back-to-back, just with the scenes all shuffled in a different order is not something i recommend because it will just be infuriating and you will howl: "dude, i KNOW!!!! WE JUST COVERED THIS!!!! WHY ARE YOU TELLING ME THE SAME SHIT ALL OVER AGAIN, FORGETFUL GRANDPA????"
and afterward, all you will remember is the howling, and not the reading. so there - that's my explanation/discovery/psa