It seems silly that I have to say this, but I've seen many a negative review of this book met with backlash from John's nerdfighter fans, so I want toIt seems silly that I have to say this, but I've seen many a negative review of this book met with backlash from John's nerdfighter fans, so I want to make one thing clear: I like John Green. You'll find plenty who worship him as a god amongst men and many who are highly critical of him, I fall into neither of these categories but I do like him and I enjoy watching his videos. I find him funny and I agree with a lot of what he stands for; I also appreciate the amount of charity work he does and the way he helps the "nerds" feel better about themselves and make it out of high school a little less scarred than they might have been. I like John Green.
But I do not particularly like this book.
There are plenty of people raving about this book on goodreads, on Kirkus, in various magazines and newspapers... so I realise I am in a tiny minority. I will also admit that I might not have felt the same if I hadn't already subjected myself to numerous "cancer books" but, as it is, I do not feel anything that unique or interesting has been brought to the table here. For the first half (approx), despite my lack of enthusiasm, I expected to give it three stars because I didn't consider it to be a bad book and it was well-written enough; however, as the book wore on, I began to realise that I was growing more and more bored and found myself struggling to read on. This was something I hadn't anticipated. I'd prepared myself for many different possibilities: heartbreak, a changed perspective on life and death, disdain, annoyance... but not bored indifference. Hence the lower rating.
One of the first problems I encountered was that the kids were wise beyond their years. And I don't mean intelligent, I mean wise. They came out with things that really only suit people who've been alive a few centuries - like Dumbledore or Gandalf - or at the very least people who are sat comfortably in middle age. I like that Green doesn't patronise his readers by oversimplifying things or dumbing down characters in a condescending effort to appeal to teenagers, but these characters behave in a way that is unnatural to the point where sometimes it is verging on ridiculous. It's not completely unbelievable that some kids exist who are actually like this, but they definitely don't all speak and behave in this way.
The characters are all, in one way or another, John Green. They all have his quirkiness, his sense of humour; I was picturing several John Greens sat around having a conversation while I was reading The Fault in Our Stars. In fact, reading this book was a little bit like watching one of Green's vlogs, which might have worked well if JG hadn't dampened the humour with philosophical musings. As it was, I had a book that was trying so very hard to be both funny and sad at the same time and ended up failing to deliver either one as successfully as I would have liked. The dialogue felt false and scripted because of the teens' tendency to showcase their depth and intelligence. Natural conversation between anyone of any age doesn't work like this and I couldn't shake the feeling that there should be a laughter track playing in the background.
The Fault in Our Stars, in my opinion, would have been far better if Green had stuck to humour like Andrews did in Me and Earl and the Dying Girl. I believe that the exaggerated characters and their unrealistic conversations would have been fine in a straight-up humour book because that's not supposed to portray something real and deep and moving. But Green loses it by trying to be philosophical and, in the end, I think he has produced a book that is as melodramatic and message-driven as any other on this issue. And his attempt to balance humour and sadness left me somewhat devoid of emotion throughout and provided fewer laughs than I'd hoped.
Ultimately, I feel that JG sacrificed humour in order to be deep and philosophical - perhaps this book tried to be too many things, perhaps JG tried to be too clever. But Me and Earl and the Dying Girl was a much better book, in my opinion, because it did the whole serious illness + humour thing but didn't over-complicate things by being philosophical. Like I said near the beginning, perhaps I am just tired of these books and The Fault in Our Stars needs to be appreciated by someone who has not already exhausted themselves on similar efforts.
There is something deeply unhealthy about this book; it's in the characters, in the story, in the relationships, in the sex, and just in the general mThere is something deeply unhealthy about this book; it's in the characters, in the story, in the relationships, in the sex, and just in the general mood of the novel. Reading this made me feel a little unwell, both physically and mentally, but I am glad I did. If you know me, you'll know I love complex characters with issues that feel raw and real rather than melodramatic. The people in this novel are majorly fucked up, no one is without a dark past and everyone, it seems, has a horror story.
The protagonist - Camille Preaker - was just thirteen when her sister died and fuelled by grief (amongst other things) Camille spent her teen years carving words into her flesh, covering almost every inch of her body with the marks of her pain. This could have brought the angst meter off the scale but Flynn handled it expertly, with just the right amount of sadness, frustration and gore. Ten years later, Camille Preaker is now a journalist who returns to the small town of her youth to report on the murders of two young girls - the girls showed no signs of sexual abuse, but all their teeth had been removed.
Camille is soon caught up in the town once again, she tries to get along with the mother who never loved her and establish a relationship with the troublesome half sister she hardly knows. It seems that once again small towns hold the biggest secrets and Camille finds herself getting dragged deeper and deeper into the investigation, her fragile state of mind constantly threatening to tip her over the edge.
This is one mean and nasty book. I knew I was getting a dark, psychological thriller, but I expected something on par with In The Woods. In Tana French's novels everyone has a deeply explored personality, but it seems that in Gillian Flynn's novels everyone has a deeply explored problem and Flynn never shies away from the details. You're not going to find anything pleasant in this story; sex, for example, is never simply for physical pleasure, it's an escape or a bargain or a catharsis. Everything else is similar.
In a world where women are victims - both in their media representation as "damsels in distress" and in statistics - this is a very interesting look at "evil" women. We are always less surprised when a man is arrested for raping/torturing/killing, it's programmed into us to believe that women are safer, kinder, built with an instinct that makes it difficult for them to be cruel and cause pain without reason. Upon interviewing the parents of Moors murders victims before the culprits were caught, they said they couldn't understand it because they'd always told their kids not to go off with men they didn't know. But they never warned them not to go off with women they didn't know, the idea was unthinkable. Times are changing, but a lot of the old ideas still linger: surely a woman wouldn't hurt a child? Surely a mother would never harm her children?
Yet, Flynn does an excellent job of challenging this idea. She shows how women can be cold, calculating and cruel. And I'm sure it will displease a lot of readers, but it fascinated me.
"Don't be special." That's what I would say to my younger self if I could pinpoint the moment when I went astray. But there was no one moment. I was a"Don't be special." That's what I would say to my younger self if I could pinpoint the moment when I went astray. But there was no one moment. I was always astray.
Uh oh. Brace yourself, fellow fiction lovers, I'm about to tell you a true story. My own, in fact.
^So, I was kind of a weird kid. And I had one hell of a bad time in school. I'm talking particularly about when I was aged 11-16. I was that special breed of socially clueless where I simply just didn't get it. I didn't know how to not be weird, I didn't know what the right thing was to say, I didn't understand why it wasn't okay to put my hand up and tell the teacher I'd finished the work twenty minutes before the lesson ended. So I walked around that school with a sign around my neck that said "victim" and I didn't know how to get rid of it. They called me fat, they hated my hair, they called me frigid one minute and a slut the next, they walked into me on purpose, they knocked my things on the floor, they dared boys to ask me out just to see if I would believe them. And every time I would change. I kept thinking there was some unwritten rule that I just had to figure out and then I would be the person they wanted me to be. What I didn't understand until a long time after is that everything I did broke the one social rule above all others - I cared too much.
People latch onto things so quickly in high school. Sometimes it was a twisted version of the truth about something I'd said or done; other times I couldn't even imagine where the rumour came from, it was a complete lie that was complete truth by lunchtime. I wonder if Ms Sales has experienced this herself because Elise's story so closely resembles the reality. It's so... honest. It says the things that uplifting books about bullying never say. People are always saying that you have to tell someone, that's supposed to be the first crucial step. But the reality is that no amount of phone calls from your parents or meetings with teachers can change the way people see you or change the person you are. This book shows that. And, in reality, the bullied kid doesn't turn up in the end dressed like Sandy from Grease with the winning lottery ticket in their hand, laughing at all the people who made fun of them. In real life, there is no revenge... but not only that, and this is the thing every bullied kid doesn't like to admit, but there's no desire for revenge. When you play out that scenario in your head of the mean kids changing their mind and deciding to ask you to join their little clique, you don't imagine yourself saying no and laughing in their faces. The sad awful thing about it is that you would be grateful. Fucking grateful that someone actually thinks you're alright.
The parallels I drew between this book and my life left me in awe. If you replaced music with books, then Sales could very well be telling the story of my life for 90% of the novel. I recognised every single character, I related to every single emotion Elise had. It was a painful journey but strangely incredible as well, to see the way you felt shared by someone else - even a fictional person. This is a raw, moving, fantastic book that still manages to drop in some humour despite being much darker than readers will expect from the author. This is something I have to stress: it's completely unlike Past Perfect and Mostly Good Girls. If you're wanting more like that, you're going to be disappointed.
There was another aspect of this book that hit close to home and it happens early enough that I don't consider it a spoiler to talk about it. During my time in school, I had one last thing that I clung to: my grades. They were good. And in my head they were my ticket away from all the crap of school - I would get a good job and never have to worry about this shit again. But this one afternoon, I went into class and we got our grades back from our coursework. And I got a B. I know what you're thinking, haha, a B. A B... big fucking deal, right? And it should have been nothing. It would have been nothing, a minuscule drop in the ocean of life. Except no, because that drop landed in an ocean that was on the brink of overflowing. And I walked out of the classroom that day, just got up and walked out and walked (I noticed) the exact same number of miles that Elise walked (5) until I got home. One difference between the two of us was that she got a razor and I got pills. The other difference is that she didn't go through with it. I did.
There's a lot I regret about that day, about how selfish I was and how, in that moment, I didn't think about a single other human being. Most of all, I regret that my ten year old sister was the one to find me. I regret that she had to be the one to call my mum at work and tell her that her daughter had tried to do something unthinkable. I remember the looks on their faces afterwards when they heard of that B, the question hung in the air "who does something like this because they got a B?" I didn't know how to tell them that it wasn't the B. It wasn't a thing or a person or a moment that I could point to. It was everything. And I think This Song Will Save Your Life captures that feeling perfectly. The feeling of many small things building over time until the weight of them becomes too much. On their own, they're nothing. It's pathetic to even make a big deal about any single one of them... but together, they're suffocating.
I'm sorry if you're not a fan of very personal reviews but this was a very personal read for me, it was inevitable. I've thought about this rating really hard and I've pulled apart my decision to give it five stars because I've always given out the full rating sparingly. But I think, looking back, this book was really special for me. And not just for me. Looking at it as objectively as is humanly possible, I think this book managed to be a lot of things: emotional, sad, funny, honest and inspiring. I noticed how well-drawn each character was, even the secondary characters. Each relationship was important in its own way and wasn't neglected, this book actually had several small stories going on that together made up the whole. And the conclusion didn't try to convince me that everything changes and people walk off into the sunset holding hands and smiling. Many people didn't change and the bad guys didn't learn their lesson, but I appreciated that touch of realism a lot more.
I've rarely felt so relieved that a character got where they needed to be despite everything bad that had happened to them. Elise has a special place in my heart, as does this book. In case you were wondering, I got to where I needed to be too. And my ten year old sister and I talked a lot about what happened; she's now a beautiful and talented sixteen year old and my closest friend.
Feb 3rd 2014 - Extra things you should know: 1) This is a negative review. If you are looking for reviews that confirm what you are already certain ofFeb 3rd 2014 - Extra things you should know: 1) This is a negative review. If you are looking for reviews that confirm what you are already certain of (that JKR can do no wrong) here are some examples of positive reviews for you - 1, 2, 3. 2) I used some Mary Poppins gifs to make my point in this review. It seemed funny at the time. If you find MP gifs stupid/annoying/beneath you, then please feel free to go to the reviews I linked before. 3) I will no longer reply to comments saying I am stupid or didn't get it. I will no longer reply to insults of any kind or condescending suggestions that I read the book again. If you're tempted to write something like this, save both of us some time and read the previous comments for my answers to people like you. I have way too many unwatched episodes of Law & Order to entertain trolls any longer. 4) I'm sorry to all the people who have been kind and respectful, whether they agreed with me or not. You can just ignore these points. ____________________________
Things you should know: 1) Ms Rowling filled my childhood and early teen years with magic. I love Harry Potter and I confess to only adding this book after I found out she was the author. 2) I did not go into this with the intention to compare it to Harry Potter. I did not expect magic or wizards and I fully anticipated this being very different to the HP books. 3) I have read and enjoyed many mystery/crime novels in the past. My favourites being by Tana French and Gillian Flynn. So, there was no reason why I couldn't have enjoyed this book simply because it wasn't magical Potterland. But I didn't and, after putting a lot of thought into this, I think I finally understand why.
Here's the sad truth: I can't stand Rowling's writing when she writes for adults. I actually find it painful to read. Let's be clear from the beginning, I started and never finished The Casual Vacancy because the opening didn't grab me and there was something about it - something which I couldn't put my finger on - that made it an effort to get through. A certain style to the writing which didn't agree with me. I thought perhaps it was a one-off because I'd read all her other works and never had a problem with her writing style. That's why I jumped at the chance to try another adult book by Rowling and sort out what was evidently a bout of silliness on my part. What this book did give me was an answer to why neither of Rowling's adult books worked for me.
Rowling writes in an unusual manner. It's not unique to her work for adults, Harry Potter has it too, but the effect had on both is very different. Rowling's style of writing, including the dialogue between characters, is formal to the point of being old-fashioned. Part of me wants to compare it to Austen but I'm cautious of doing so because of the amount of people (usually including myself) who might read that as a compliment. Rowling's formal style doesn't work, for me, when using it in an adult mystery and pairing it with profanity and grisly murders. It feels out of place and weighs down each page with tedious descriptions that use too many awkward similes, metaphors and adjectives.
"...face the colour of corned beef..."
"...the snow fell with soft fingertip plunks..."
Her descriptions all felt a bit off to me. And I particularly didn't like the unsophisticated use of big words. It's like when inexperienced indie authors go crazy with thesaurus.com, using clunky words like "exacerbated" and "exorbitant" in casual sentences that don't benefit from it. The characters in this book never check the time or look at their watches, they "consult" their watches. Think I'm being picky? Try reading whole pages where every sentence replaces the obvious words with complex ones and see how far you get without your brain starting to scream. And it felt like every single noun had at least one adjective before it. Not only that, but Rowling repeats similar adjectives when referring to the objects again. In one sentence, we are told she climbed the "steel stairs" and in the next she's continuing up the "metal stairs". WHY???? And also WHYYYYYY???
Another example of Rowling's old-fashioned style is her frequent use of expressions like "oh my!" and "goodness!", expressions I'm sure some of you will recognise from Harry Potter characters. What is this? It's like Mary Poppins or Little Women or, I don't know, Little House on the Prairie. And maybe it works fine in all of those, same as it works fine in Harry Potter, but none of those also had a side-helping of profanity and very adult themes. They do all, however, share the formal language style.
And while I think people were silly to say things about The Casual Vacancy like "ohmigod this had, like, noooooo magic and even fewer dark lords" when Rowling clearly said it was an adult mystery book and I wanted to say to those silly people:
I still think it's entirely relevant to compare the two when looking at Rowling's writing style and the reason why sometimes it works and sometimes it really doesn't. The formal tone with simplistic language - like in Harry Potter - is okay, but dense descriptions and over-complicated sentences made it hard work and tedious in this book. It's like a very formal letter with the occasional random swear word thrown in. And it doesn't work. Not for me, anyway. The style simply doesn't fit the content; there's swearing and murders and people rescuing others by grabbing their breasts...
I'm not even going to talk about the story beyond saying I found it a standard mystery that could have been good if I'd not had these other reasons for not liking it. The killer is not hard to guess for anyone familiar with crime mysteries but that isn't usually what I care about most in crime mysteries anyway. Plus, in this case, I'm just too blinded by my dislike for the writing. *sigh* I think it's fair to say that I'm finally done trying to enjoy Rowling's adult books.
P.S. Yes, I did get a little overexcited when I googled Mary Poppins gifs.
“This life is not always what we think it will be,” Cain says. “You are an ember in the ashes, Elias Veturius. You will spark and burn, ravage and de“This life is not always what we think it will be,” Cain says. “You are an ember in the ashes, Elias Veturius. You will spark and burn, ravage and destroy. You cannot change it. You cannot stop it.”
I think a lot of people will understand me when I say that the best kind of books are those that provoke strong emotions in you. My favourites are made up of books that filled me with happy excitement or, alternatively, books that ripped my heart out and made me cry. An Ember in the Ashes, however, made me angry. No, not angry - furious. I raged. I panicked. I hated. And damn, it was amazing.
You know those rare books that just make your heart pound? Those that take you so far out of the real world that you have to remind yourself afterwards that it's all fiction, or else you won't be sleeping? For me, this was one of those books. Everything about it was gripping, from the godawful but mesmerizing setting to those two bloody love triangles (love square?).
Yes, that's right. I don't even care that there were love triangles. That seems like too simplistic a term for this complex web of relationships, anyway. It isn't about choosing between hot dude #1 and hot dude #2, there's far bigger things at stake here and every character is so well-developed that you genuinely wonder and care what their fate will be.
This fast-paced story is told from two perspectives. Laia is one of the Scholars - now ruled over by the Martial Empire - many of whom are poor, illiterate and even enslaved. When her brother is arrested and presumably tortured by the Masks (masked soldiers), she seeks out the Resistance for help. However, they will not help her for free and demand that in return she must enter Blackcliff Military Academy as a slave in order to spy on the Commandant. Elias - the son of the Commandant - makes up the other perspective in this book.
Initially, I drew some comparisons between this and Legend, but though I liked the latter, I still don't think it's anywhere near as compelling, interesting, fast-paced or evil as this book. And despite the similar premise, this book branches off in many very different and exciting directions, including the arrival of creatures believed to only exist in myth.
I mentioned my fury before and I'm going to elaborate a bit. This book is nasty. This world is nasty. The Commandant is an evil hellbitch and complete sociopath. There's torture, child abuse and the threat of rape (none of it is really graphic but it's effective just the same). But it works. The stakes are higher; it made me actually afraid for Laia when she was sneaking about and spying on the Commandant. It's hard to not grind your teeth at the unfairness and simultaneously feel powerless to stop it. It's been a while since I've read such an evocative novel.
So, I enjoyed pretty much everything about this book. I liked the varied cast of characters and that Laia wasn't a typical badass heroine but a scared girl going against her every instinct to save her brother. I loved the use of prophecies and the way Elias has to try and understand what they mean in order to do the right thing. I loved the Augurs - a bunch of hooded holy men who claim to deliver prophecies. Such a great read and I can see people eating it up and being desperate for more.
The book is rounded off well and is supposed to be a standalone, but there's room for more here and I'd love to see the author revisit this story and these characters. ***
"Life is made of so many moments that mean nothing. Then one day, a single moment comes along to define every second that comes after."
The size of my disappointment probably has something to do with why I can't bring myself to award this two stars. I know Divergent isn't really a gre The size of my disappointment probably has something to do with why I can't bring myself to award this two stars. I know Divergent isn't really a great book, the dystopia makes no sense, the Dauntless are ridiculous people who jump off trains to prove themselves... but, for me, it was still a wildly entertaining read. It was fast-paced, full of action, Tris was delightfully kickass, and the romance between her and Four complemented the main story without overtaking it. Insurgent failed on all of those.
Normally, I might put it down to middle book syndrome and carry on with book three anyway, but not this time. Even though no time passes between the end of the first book and the start of this one, Tris and Tobias/Four feel like completely different characters and this is an inconsistency I can't forgive. Whatever happened to tough Tris who made difficult decisions and put survival above all else? She has disappeared and in her place is a "heroine" quite like the majority of other young adult romantic heroines. Tris is now solely concerned with Tobias and their relationship angst, I lost count of how many pages were filled with their make-out sessions and melodrama.
Tobias also seems to have changed a lot more than his name. I really liked his character in Divergent, I found him to be sweet, kind and a little mysterious (indeed, in this book he was the only mystery). However, he has been replaced by someone who is aggressive, always frowning and frequently yells at Tris. He used to be so cool, even in a crisis - so what the hell happened? I couldn't even begin to believe in a story where the characters had changed so dramatically without logical reason.
Plus, there's also the whopping great fact that nothing actually happens. Okay, so let me be honest, I read the first 300 pages and then I skim-read the rest. So I suppose that it's entirely possible that I missed something really good, it couldn't have saved the novel for me anyway, but I'm just saying that it is possible. In those first 300 pages, though, nothing happens. People sit around talking about their problems and what they should do, Tris repeatedly remembers her parents (I know she's upset, but can't we move on to the current drama?), Tris thinks about Tobias, obsesses about Tobias, worries about Tobias, tries to solve the mystery that is Tobias...
Basically, the first 100 pages go something like: - Tris and Tobias make out - Tris thinks about where they should go from here - Tris and Tobias make out - Tris and Tobias talk about where they should go from here - Tris and Tobias make out - Tris thinks about her parents' deaths - Tris and Tobias make out
I honestly don't care about their relationship. Maybe I did when I liked their characters, but now I don't even recognise them. It's not even that I doubt Roth has some brilliant ending planned for the third book, it's more that I no longer give a single damn about Tris or Tobias. I didn't even care enough to read this book properly and find out what happens at the end. I think it's clear that this series just died out for me....more
I am conducting what I'm shelving as a "New Adult (NA) Experiment". I'm going to work my way through some of the popular New Adult books and see if I I am conducting what I'm shelving as a "New Adult (NA) Experiment". I'm going to work my way through some of the popular New Adult books and see if I can weed out the crap and hopefully find some surprising gems. Here's hoping!
Just a quick warning: this book has a fair bit of sex in it and so I will be talking about sex in this review. Maybe don't read this if sex talk makes you clutch your crucifix in horror or, you know, combust.
I've been reading quite a few indie novels lately; some were good and some not so good. But I've remained safe from anything outrageously bad until now. The Edge of Never is one of those books which has a crazily high average rating, it is a "New York Times, USA Today, and Wallstreet Journal bestselling blockbuster" and it managed to offend me at least once in every single chapter. I found it to be a mere step away from Beautiful Disaster in the misogyny department and what it lacked in that area was made up for in the extremely bad writing. Honestly, it was so bad it was kind of hilarious.
I finally feel that I have read enough to safely make the claim that this "new adult" genre thing we've got going on now basically, well, sucks. It seems to be a combination of all the annoying, cliche elements of the young adult genre and a bunch of sex scenes and/or coarse language. In terms of the writing, this book is pretty awful. The author seems to favour certain words for a short period of time to the extent that they appear in every other sentence and then switch to a new favourite and the pattern repeats. Some writers have that annoying habit of telling rather than showing but Redmerski does something that I found much worse - she shows, then tells. She uses body language to express certain emotions but insults the reader's intelligence by adding the tells afterwards. I opened the book again just now to find an example and came across one on the second page; this is by no means the worst but hopefully it will help express what I mean: "Cam," she says, cocking her head to one side to appear thoughtful.
But there's no need for me to get nitpicky about language. This book provides much more glaring problems.
Like the fact that every girl/young woman in this book is called a slut except the protagonist. If you wanted to play a drinking game with this book, you would only need the word "slut" to get completely trashed. "Slut" is even used twice in chapter one. In fact, I wish I'd counted how many chapters didn't use the word slut; I can certainly guarantee it would be fewer than how many did. Camryn (MC) talks about her ex as "the jerk who cheated on me with some red-haired slut" and her best friend (lol jk) is constantly called "slutty" and is only there so Camryn can compare the two of them. Natalie is promiscuous where Camryn is a good girl, Natalie wears revealing clothing where Camryn likes her pastel cardigans, Natalie thinks about sex where Camryn muses about life, the universe and everything.
And what a lot of it comes down to: I hated Camryn. Absolutely hated her. I put this quote in my status update but here it is again so we can all marvel at the stupidity:
Instead of sitting around dreaming up new sex positions, as Natalie often does about Damon, I dream about things that really matter. What the air in other countries feels like on my skin, how the ocean smells, why the sound of rain makes me gasp.
When I read that, I did some weird combination of eye-rolling, cackling laughter and general despairing that so many people are happy to buy into Camryn's philosophical bullshit. Camryn, you're not deep, you're a fucking moron. A misogynistic, holier-than-thou moron.
And then, of course, we have the real reason this book is a bestseller. Andrew. I get it, actually, I really do. He's gorgeous, he's sexy, he likes to talk all naughty, he loves to go down on you and doesn't ask for anything in return, in fact, his mission in life is nothing more or less than to make you come. I know why you ladies all love this and at least he's not Travis screw-loose Maddox. But he comes with his own set of problems too and, even if he didn't, he still wouldn't be anywhere near hot enough to make up for the rest of this mess. One thing that I suppose comes down to my personal taste in guys and how they speak to me is lines like this:
"if you were to let me fuck you, you would have to let me own you."
I mean, is this hot to you? For me, it's somewhere halfway between gross and hilarious. But each to their own, I guess. To be honest, a lot of the sex scenes that I assume are supposed to be knicker-twistingly hot just made me laugh. Camryn faces deep moral struggles with the P-word, which she later hilariously overcomes (view spoiler)["lick my pussy, Andrew; goddammit, lick my fucking pussy!" (hide spoiler)] This is apparently a word that she associates with porn stars, something which leads into an interesting conversation where women are split into two groups - the slutty kind that are only good enough to give a guy head, and the unslutty kind that are worth more. Here's the quote:
"Well, when... Dominique Starla," he picks the name from the air, "does it, it's just to some random guy lookin' to get off behind a keyboard." His green eyes fall on me. "that guy's not dreaming about anything with her except her face in his lap." Then he looks back at the road. "But when someone... I dunno... like a sweet, sexy, completely un-slutty girl does it, the guy is thinking about a lot more than her face in his lap."
Ugh. No more words on that. I just... can't.
I think I've had enough of talking about this book. But one more thing I will say is that part of the reason I kept reading was because so many reviews promised a big heart-breaking twist towards the end. Well, maybe I've been watching Sherlock too much, but I saw it coming a mile off. Just sayin'.
Are you ready for a faster-paced, creepier Gone Girl?
Woah. This is one unsettling little thriller and the best bit about it
"Something bad happened."
Are you ready for a faster-paced, creepier Gone Girl?
Woah. This is one unsettling little thriller and the best bit about it is that no one can be trusted, including the three female narrators who share the storytelling of this book. I literally read this entire novel in one sitting and I now need to find the words to convince you to go get your hands on it. RIGHT NOW.
Between an alcoholic, a liar and a cheat, who can you trust? These are the three women at the centre of this book: Rachel, Anna and Megan.
Have you ever sat on the train, glanced at the people around you or out of the window, and made up stories about them? Maybe you've even gone so far as to invent names for these people and imagine their perfect or not-so-perfect lives.
Rachel is that girl on the train who takes her mind off her own life by imagining the lives of others. Specifically the lives of "Jess and Jason" who live at the house outside her train window when the train stops at the same red signal every morning. But then one morning, things are not as they are supposed to be and Rachel sees something that completely shatters the "Jess and Jason" image which exists in her head.
Now she is pulled into their lives. Unsure exactly what she knows but certain she cannot rest until she finds out.
This book is just full of secrets. Everyone has them. It's about all the little mysteries that exist just outside of what we see on the surface. What goes on behind closed doors? How much can you ever really know a person? What horrors exist in that black spot of your memory from Saturday night?
It was fascinating, gripping and oh so very creepy. Hawkins has been added to the small group of thriller authors on my "must buy" list.
This is not a dystopia, it is a romance. This is not a novel, it is a collection of similes and metaphors, most of which do not make sense. I origina
This is not a dystopia, it is a romance. This is not a novel, it is a collection of similes and metaphors, most of which do not make sense. I originally gave Shatter Me two stars because that's my sort of kneejerk reaction to books I don't like, but after thinking it over for a while, I can't recall anything positive about it that would justify a rating of more than one star.
You're probably assuming - correctly - that I went into this book with low expectations. This is completely true. Any so-called "dystopia" with a runway model on the front cover leaves me feeling sceptical. However, I was also prepared to allow myself to be surprised; a lot of my friends loved this and one of the biggest criticisms didn't actually bother me - purple prose. I think there's a fine line in writing between the pretty and the purplish and different readers will define it in their own way. For example, some reviewers thought that Lips Touch: Three Times was just a mess of bloated purple prose, whereas I thought it was one of the most beautiful books I read last year. I have a high tolerance level for flowery writing. But...
Shatter Me's numerous metaphors, similes, and endless descriptions just didn't make sense. What is this?:
"Hate looks like everybody else until it smiles. Until it spins around and lies with lips and teeth carved into semblance of something too passive to punch."
I just... WHAT??? This is one example floating around in there, but every second sentence is like this! That's not even mentioning the annoying strike-outs. Trust me, no really, trust me, I thought people were being overly picky when they said the crossed out sentences were annoying. I actually thought it sounded interesting, unusual, especially because the whole thing is meant to be written in a notebook and I cross stuff out in mine all the time. But you have no idea how bloody annoying this is to read. All the effin' time. People didn't exaggerate: it will most likely drive you crazy.
However, there was one thing that for me was even more annoying than the descriptions, the similes, the strikes, and that was the stupid repetition thing: "and then and then and then..." Again, if it had been used once, or sparingly even, then it wouldn't be so bad. I may have thought it was an interesting literary technique. But Shatter Me had way way way too much of everything (see what I did there?).
And story? What story? *sigh* It's about time we just opened up an entirely new genre called "Dystopian Romance" or alternatively "Romantic Dystopia", though I don't wish to be pessimistic, I'm pretty sure half the new releases of 2012 will make it into that category. If there was a story then it drowned amidst the waves of overenthusiastic and flowery prose. This reminded me of Article 5 in that the dystopia was there to make the romance interesting. One was certainly there to complement the other, but it was the wrong way around.
Also... kissing when you are fleeing for your lives?? I'm sure this is not the correct way of things, right? And yet it occurs in way too many young adult books. I'm like: "run, run, run!" but the characters are too busy swapping saliva. I must be old-fashioned in my thinking that staying alive is kinda important.
There are a lot of things that, had they been there, could have convinced me to up this to two stars. One star ratings make me feel sucky. But I'm sorry guys, I wasn't even entertained. The beginning was intriguing but there was so little plot beyond the romance that it quickly became tedious. I hated the prose, I felt nothing either way for the characters, this series ends here for me....more
Warning: this review contains flashing gifs and foul language.
I've spent two years avoiding this book. I remember in 2011 when I stumbled across thatWarning: this review contains flashing gifs and foul language.
I've spent two years avoiding this book. I remember in 2011 when I stumbled across that exciting GR description and pretty - if slightly creepy and discomfiting - cover, but my initial curiosity was quickly dampened by the reviews from my trusted goodreads friends. And for nearly two years, I have listened. My intentions were to never give this book/series another thought, until I recently came across this interesting page: 15 Young Adult Books Every Adult Should Read. And I noticed authors like Laurie Halse Anderson on the list. That's when something inside me rose up to meet the promise of a challenge - plus, who knows, sometimes my favourite books of all time have been those I'd taken a chance on against the odds.
But this book was just bad. The exciting premise is wasted on a novel that eats at the same lunch table as Twilight, Hush, Hush and Fallen. The mysterious paranormal aspect opens up many avenues for the author to have explored and yet she chooses instead to pick the dullest one - a cliched romance. And damn if this book isn't one huge glowing neon cliche. One where a boring heroine with a severe lack of personality meets a ridiculously good-looking, sexy, British bad boy - who could have anyone he wants - and he somehow finds himself madly in love with her. Why? Well, that remains the biggest mystery of all.
Two words come to mind when I think back over this book: wish fulfillment. But yes, the other two words spring to mind a lot too. This novel is a very fine example of a certain brand of book that contains mediocre-at-best writing, unbelievably hot male love interests and is an empty, easy sell for young teen girls. Noah really is quite laughably perfect (if you like controlling jerks, but I'll get to that in a second) with his perfect face, hair, body, smile (etc.), his massive fortune, his intelligence which includes knowledge of six languages and large quotes from various classic novels. He is so flawless, I felt like he'd just rolled off the factory production line, spritzed, polished and raring to go.
Ah yes, and about that controlling thing I mentioned. There's really no need to explain it in detail, I'll just pull up some quotes for you:
Noah placed his forefinger above my upper lip and his thumb below my bottom lip, and applied the slightest pressure, cutting me off. "Shut up," he said quietly.
What is Mara's response to his rudeness? I nodded feebly. o_O You nodded... feebly? What is wrong with you? I can't understand why you aren't all like:
Then: The waiter appeared then, and Noah plucked the menu from my hands and handed it over, rushing off our order in Spanish. The waiter departed for the kitchen. I shot him a dark look. "I hadn't decided yet." "Trust me."
This also happens in Fifty Shades of Grey, Christian orders for Ana without even asking what she'd like or if she's vegetarian or has any allergies. For one thing, it's flawed. But beyond that it's just goddamn rude. What exactly is sexy about a guy not giving a damn what you want? When you look past the pretty description we are given of Noah's perfection, I find him incredibly unattractive, pretentious and annoying. If I wasn't British myself, I think this book would give me a really bad opinion of British people; almost as bad as Lindsay Lohan in The Parent Trap remake when she tells her American twin "I have claaasss and you don't." *shudders*
This quote - "Because I'm European, and therefore more cultured than you" - might have been funny as an isolated incident but Noah's repetition of similar declarations of cultural superiority (with books, music, etc.) just made me think...
I also think Mara is in desperate need of a new girlfriend because the girls in this book are ALL her enemies. Even her two friends at the beginning get separated into best friend and evil girl who's trying to steal best friend away. The word "slut" naturally appears several times in this novel and usually when the characters are talking about mean girl Anna who immediately decided to make Mara's life hell because Noah showed some interest in her. This beautiful quote sums up Anna's characterisation:
"The list of what you're missing, Anna, is longer than the South Beach Free Clinic's walk-in list," Jamie said, and I was surprised to hear his voice. "Though I'm sure your hookup resume includes the same names."
Cue group laughter as good triumphs over the evil slut who doesn't deserve feelings. This always amazes me in these kind of books - that we're supposed to be sympathetic towards the MC and believe she is the victim and much more interesting because of her lack of sluttiness. I don't think I'll ever understand why that stuff matters.
I've been picking out all these quotes throughout this review but I've saved the best for last. If I had been drinking whilst reading this bit, I would have sprayed the contents of my mouth everywhere. I just... can't. This is in response to Mara finding out about how Noah slept with a girl who was in love with him just to prove a point to the girl's brother:
I should haul back and smack him, strike a blow for feminism or something or at the very least, get out of the car. But then his thumb traced my skin and without quite realizing it, I leaned toward him and rested my forehead against his.
... to hell with feminism! Hot jerk is touching my face!!
There are some people who view the line between consent and non-consent, between sex and rape, as blurry. There aWarning: this review is not censored.
There are some people who view the line between consent and non-consent, between sex and rape, as blurry. There are some people who would gladly place blame for rape on that drunk girl in the short skirt who was "asking for it". There are some people who would view flirting and dancing suggestively as an invitation that should be followed through no matter what, it's not the other person's fault for holding the suggestive dancer down and raping them, afterall, it's not really rape if they were flirting first. There are some people who think rape is erotic. And there are some people who think serial killers are sexy.
I am not one of those people.
I'm sure people will start to make assumptions about the kind of person I am as soon as they see my negative rating. I'm sure I can't do anything to change most people's minds. But I am going to tell you a few things about me. For one, I am not a prude. I like reading books about sex. Sometimes I like reading books about kinky sex. I don't mind reading books that push the boundaries with kinky sex into just plain old weird sex. People have their odd kinks and who am I to judge? You want to go home, tie each other up and urinate on one another? You have my full blessing. But there is a line. And that line is drawn, for me, at consent. It isn't a blurry line, it's a straight, permanent marker type line. No non-consensual sex. No sex with those who are not in a position to give consent which, in case you were wondering, includes the mentally unstable, children and animals.
This book isn't a love story. This book is about a rape victim and a rapist. This book is not sexy. This book is not BDSM. This book is not okay. This book is abuse. This book makes Fifty Shades of Grey look like My Little Pony. This book makes Story of O look romantic. This book is rape. The actions in it are inexcusable. It makes me sick.
Now, people do bad things. No argument there. And I don't mind when authors show that. Even when they show it graphically, sometimes I think you need to be graphic about it to emphasise the seriousness of the bad that people do. And Stockholm Syndrome is a serious thing that many people have suffered from. I'm not disputing any of this. The issue I take is with the portrayal of this bad as maybe not being so bad, as maybe even being erotic and sexy. My problem is not with the idea that abuse begets abuse (as this story tells us). My problem is when said abuse is used as wank material. Because Olivia is a victim of rape and severe abuse. There are no blurred lines of consent here. She is kidnapped, raped, beaten, humiliated and dehumanised and we are supposed to find it sexy. When even Reage's nameless "O" participates of her own free will.
I'm sure there will be readers ready to point out the sexual responsiveness of Olivia in this book. Well, to that I only wish I still had the link to an article I once read about rape. Rape is, for me, possibly the vilest thing a person can do to another. Because it takes something that on a physical level can be good (sex) and uses it as a weapon by turning it into something completely monstrous. This article I read talked about the embarrassment some rape victims face because their bodies respond to the stimuli that they are biologically programmed to. Some can even experience orgasm from rape. This doesn't make it any less serious or any more consensual. It does not make me feel better in this book when Olivia's body responds to the sexual abuse. I felt like I was watching a dancing bear being tortured into a humiliating performance. It doesn't dance because it wants to.
Caleb is supposed to gain our pity because of his abusive past. And maybe I could have pitied him on some level, maybe I would have found it in my heart to see him like I see Heathcliff - the abused abuser. Maybe I could offer understanding, if not forgiveness. But I cannot offer acknowledgement of his supposed sexiness. A man who does this is not hot:
- he beats her with a belt - he washes her and hits her when she won't open her legs so he can clean her genitals. - he thoroughly enjoys beating her into submission and humiliating her - he gets aroused by her fear and distress
There is also a disturbing link being made here between gender and roles of dominance and submission. This doesn't exist in BDSM. BDSM relationships can be M/F, F/M, M/M, F/F and anything in between. Captive in the Dark suggests that the dominance and submission between Olivia and Caleb is natural because she's a woman and he's a man.
"He was a man, and I? I was nothing but a girl, not even a woman. I was meant to fall at his feet and worship at the alter of his masculinity, grateful that he'd deigned to acknowledge me."
"Male and female, masculine and feminine, hard and soft, predator and prey."
It made me nauseous.
I'm sure someone will be willing to tell me I didn't get it. That I'm too narrow-minded to appreciate the complexity of what's going on here. Well, yes, fine. If you think it makes me narrow-minded to find the kidnapping, beating and raping of a girl unacceptable and not remotely erotic... then yes, I am narrow-minded. I'll drink to that.
As we all should know, reading and enjoying a book is largely about interpretation. People are not theNow, this is going to be embarrassing to admit.
As we all should know, reading and enjoying a book is largely about interpretation. People are not the same and we all view things differently, one individual might see a relationship in a book as "passionate" while another could see it as "damaging". When characters make bad decisions, some will view it as stupidity and others will view it as an accurate representation of humanity's imperfections. Not only that, but time often changes the way one person sees things. A teenager does not usually have the same outlook on life and relationships that someone of thirty does, and neither of them have the same outlook as someone of seventy does.
So it's time that I admit, when reading this at thirteen, my younger brain actually romanticised Humbert's depravity and saw the relationship between him and Lolita as some tragic love affair that could never work out for the obvious reasons. It was (surprise, surprise) Tatiana's review that made me wonder if I'd had a screw loose when reading this years ago, her interpretation was so far from what I remembered that I simply had to find time for a re-read. This summer, I did just that. I am going to point my shameful finger of blame at my age when I first read it, I was as fooled by Humbert as the young Lolita was.
Humbert is not a reliable narrator, his declaration that Lolita was responsible for seducing him is repulsive and wrong. Because, in the end, an adult has no excuse for having sex with a child, even if they're walking around half-naked and offering it up - adults have a responsibility not to take advantage of children, and I now realise how this case is no exception. This is not some tragic romantic tale about forbidden love, it is the story of how a grown man repeatedly raped a young girl. The fact that it is so easy to be taken in by him either says something about how brilliant a writer Nabokov is (which he is), or how much society still loves to blame the victim.
I don't know whether to feel better about my original feelings or be horrified that even the description for the audiobook describes the novel as: "a love story almost shocking in its beauty and tenderness." And I also know that I have no right to criticise other people who saw it in such a way, but I would ask you to read it again, to look beyond Humbert's snivelling and self-pity, to see the man who considers murdering a woman so he can be free to have sex with her twelve year old daughter, the man who feels sorry for himself when a pubescent girl doesn't want to have sex with him because she's still hurt from the last time. Is that love? Maybe it was for a thirteen year old looking through Humbert's perverted eyes, but I'm glad I understand it better now.
Nabokov has written a brilliant and disturbing novel, my opinion of it hasn't changed in that respect. I found it surprisingly easy to read and became absorbed quickly - even all those years ago. His portrayal of Humbert's perverted mind is scarily good, perhaps even too good if people can so easily be convinced to side with a paedophile - which is often regarded as the ultimate crime of all, isn't it? Even cold-blooded murderers go after prisoners who've messed with kids. And, as much as I feel ashamed for being so taken in by Humbert, I know that it's not just me who was fooled. Hell, even the GR description proves it. But, believe me, Lolita is a victim and no amount of saddening flashbacks to Humbert's past can change that.
This is going to be a hard review to write because I feel so conflicted about my final rating and just how much I actually liked this book3 1/2 stars.
This is going to be a hard review to write because I feel so conflicted about my final rating and just how much I actually liked this book. For one thing, I think the second half is a big improvement on the first half and, though this is my least favourite book by Ms Flynn, I can see in some ways why other reviewers see this as her strongest work.
Let me ask this question: is it possible to be objective when writing a book review? Can a book ever be objectively "good", even though some people might not enjoy it so much? To use quite an extreme example, I really struggled to read Proust's Swann's Way and can't say I enjoyed it - but that doesn't make it a bad book. Surely I cannot begin to claim that Proust is anything other than a literary genius? I wouldn't want to try.
I don't think I need to tell you that Flynn is not quite Proust. But some of the same old ideas kept popping into my head while I was reading Gone Girl because I think this is the book that most showcases Flynn's talent for writing. And for exploring the dark depths of psychology. Sharp Objects and Dark Places are wild, gritty, nasty books that pull you in, engage you and poison your mind. You don't devour them, they devour you. I read both of Flynn's previous novels in a day or two. Unlike Gone Girl, which I tried to read about five times and gave up, then when I finally came back to it, I took a week to get through it. To put it in perspective, I read War and Peace in the same time it took me to read Flynn's latest work.
But it's good, isn't it? How can I not praise a book that so cleverly pulls apart the minds of a husband and wife? In terms of writing, creativity, originality... this is her best work to date. In terms of enjoyment... I struggled a lot. Gone Girl is much slower than Flynn's first two novels, which is both a strength and a weakness. It allows for a slow, cleverly-painted picture to build up of this marriage and its many secrets, of Amy and Nick's state of mind. It is intense and brilliant. But I think it all comes down to the fact that I didn't care much about the background story of the couple's financial hardship. I think this is why I found the parts where they whine about how awful their life is - moving from a huge house in New York to a slightly smaller one in Missouri* - quite tedious.
I am used to Ms Flynn giving me the dregs of society, the lowlifes and the majorly-troubled, giving me characters with genuine reasons to complain about life. Spoilt, rich people do not pull at my heartstrings. But, objectively, this is a really great book.
*The trolls have started descending on this review because I got the house sizes mixed up - apparently the house in Missouri was bigger (how this makes a difference other than to further prove my point, I do not know). I'm very sorry if I have influenced you to read/not read this book with false house size information.
It was boring, light and silly, and I'm pretty sure I've already read the basic premise of this book in Pierce Brown's Red RisinI just... can't do it.
It was boring, light and silly, and I'm pretty sure I've already read the basic premise of this book in Pierce Brown's Red Rising.
I made it to 60% on my kindle and then skimmed for a bit, but I've been attempting to read this book for over a week now and the magic was evidently lost on me. When you're reading a book and you reach a point where you think "is it too soon to DNF this?", you know things must be bad. It's so sad, though, because everything about The Red Queen was just screaming "love me, Emily!" before I picked it up.
It's not because of the love triangle, either. I've said before that an author can easily sell me a well-executed love triangle - so nope, it wasn't that. Let me tell you a sad little truth about this book and I can take it straight from the blurb:
Graceling meetsThe Selection in debut novelist Victoria Aveyard's sweeping tale...
That's an odd mash-up to use in your marketing anyway. Like Gone Girl meets Twilight or something similar. But, whatever, there was a rather distinct lack of Graceling in that 60% I actually forced myself through. Maybe it comes later... but I no longer have any interest in sticking around to find out. There was way too much of The Selection's mean girl antics to make this book interesting.
The part of this book I read was sooooo slooooow. Painfully slow. We're introduced to a world that had potential but remained incredibly basic, bringing nothing particularly new to the table. There are two kinds of people in this world - Silvers and Reds. The former are the ruling class, have silver blood, and sometimes possess special abilities like mind control and elemental manipulation. The Reds are a slave class who are ruled over by the Silvers and live in poverty.
Mare is a Red who, in unexpected circumstances, discovers that she has powers of her own. In order to keep an eye on her and learn more about the powers she possesses, she is disguised as a Silver and trained within the Silver palace. All the other women in the novel instantly hate her (usually for no good reason) and all the men see sunshine radiating out of the pores of her skin (metaphor for "cue love triangle").
Ooookaayy. And this is the description for Red Rising:
Darrow is a Red, a miner in the interior of Mars. His mission is to extract enough precious elements to one day tame the surface of the planet and allow humans to live on it. The Reds are humanity's last hope.
Or so it appears, until the day Darrow discovers it's all a lie. That Mars has been habitable - and inhabited - for generations, by a class of people calling themselves the Golds. A class of people who look down on Darrow and his fellows as slave labour, to be exploited and worked to death without a second thought.
Until the day that Darrow, with the help of a mysterious group of rebels, disguises himself as a Gold and infiltrates their command school, intent on taking down his oppressors from the inside.
Of course, there's a revolution brewing in both books too. And both main characters pretend to be members of the other class. I mean... it's like the word "Gold" was just replaced with "Silver" and all the socialist angst was replaced with high school bitchy angst.
There was so little action in that first 60% that I literally had to force myself through pages and pages of Mare flirting with the Silver prince - Cal - and the prince's betrothed - Evangeline - hating Mare as soon as she set eyes on her. This book was a constant showdown between the innocent MC and the bitchy mean girl (and her gang of mean girls). Hell... you can even match the characters up to their high school cliques. And I'm sure Evangeline's meanness is going to be used as an excuse for Mare to run off with Cal and not lose any sleep over it. Maybe not... but probably.
The main problem for me was that the revolution and the bigger war going on between the Silvers and Reds wasn't given enough attention. I felt like the plot relied on the romantic aspect and the angst to propel it along. Neither of which I cared about.
Farley scoffs. "You want me to pin my entire operation, the entire revolution, on some teenaged love story? I can't believe this." Across the table, a strange look crosses Kilorn's face. When Farley turns to him, looking for some kind of support, she finds none. "I can," he whispers, his eyes never leaving my face.
I highly recommend reading this whilst sitting in the sun with plenty of happy people around you (as I did) - that way you can avoid contracting some I highly recommend reading this whilst sitting in the sun with plenty of happy people around you (as I did) - that way you can avoid contracting something evil and nasty from its pages, and also avoid losing any hope you had for humanity. Okay, sorry, I make it sound so negative when actually this book is pretty fantastic if you can stomach the horrors within. I ate this up in a couple of days, finding every opportunity to read that I could... Flynn certainly has a talent for dragging you into her stories and having them take you over until you find out just what the hell is going on.
As much as I enjoyed its dark predecessor - Sharp Objects - I think Dark Places was, for me, a more complex and well-developed mystery. I had many theories as to what was going on and all of them were wrong. You know, I honestly think that writing a mystery story must be the most difficult of all, because the reader is your enemy. Most readers of mystery stories will analyse the information they're given, pull it apart, and try desperately to solve the mystery before the characters do - and yet, if they are successful, they feel disappointed. For an author to manage to pull out something both surprising and convincingly real at the end of all this, they have to have a talent for it.
Dark Places alternates between the present day and 1985 when Ben Day allegedly massacred three members of his family, his sister - Libby - being the only one to escape and testify as a witness, sending Ben to a life in prison. Now, after years of living on the donations made by concerned members of the public, Libby Day has finally run out of money and is forced to earn some cash by making an appearance at a group meeting where the members believe Ben is innocent. At first, Libby is willing to write them off as crazy fanatics with a grisly obsession... but as more information is presented to her, she starts to question what really happened all those years ago.
The story is told from three main points of view and, to say I'm not a fan of multiple perspectives, I thought it was done excellently. Patty Day is an exhausted mother-of-four who starts to fear her son is becoming involved in satanic rituals; torn between wanting to protect him and being a little afraid of what his behaviour means, we begin to question through her eyes whether the heavy metal-loving loner could really have it in him to become a murderer. Then we have Ben Day's point of view, being inside his mind is a little frightening, we see how his thoughts become increasingly dark, how just wanting to have something normal can lead to the most abnormal behaviour... but does that mean he would really murder his family?
And, of course, there is Libby Day. Libby Day is the reason I think I enjoy Flynn's novels so much, she is so imperfect, complex, selfish, violent... but somehow you manage to stay on her side. I have no idea how the author manages this, but I've always loved a protagonist with issues, the kind of issues that make them lash out in ways that would make you hate them if you weren't inside their head, understanding them. She does some horrible things and, though you don't necessarily forgive her for them, you are able to see why.
If you're okay reading about filth, gore, and underage sex, then you should dive into this mystery straight away and immerse yourself in the disturbing but awesome mental workings of Gillian Flynn....more
Want to know what happens when Marie Lu does darker and sexier?
Then read this book.
Contrary to what I first believed, this book is not dystopian or
Want to know what happens when Marie Lu does darker and sexier?
Then read this book.
Contrary to what I first believed, this book is not dystopian or post-apocalyptic, but is actually a dark fantasy set in a bleak world full of magic, complex villains and princes looking to reclaim their throne. And it's damn good.
Adelina Amouteru is a survivor of a blood fever that swept through her nation when she was a child. The fever left only a few survivors and those survivors remained permanently scarred with strange markings on their bodies. But some of them were left with something else... strange abilities that made them powerful, dangerous and feared. These people are called The Young Elites. Adelina discovers her own unique abilities in unfortunate circumstances and is propelled into a world where everyone, it seems, is an enemy.
I absolutely loved Adelina.
“I am Adelina Amouteru. I belong to no one. On this night, I swear to you that I will rise above everything you’ve ever taught me. I will become a force that this world has never known. I will come into such power that none will dare hurt me again.”
She's spent her whole life being abused by her father, feeling unloved and worthless. And she has a complex relationship with her sister - while she loves her dearly, she's always been jealous of the way their father was affectionate towards her. Her life moves from one hurdle to the next; when she finally unleashes the power she needs to stand up to her father, this makes her an enemy of society.
Enter the Young Elites.
There are so many fascinating characters in this novel. Obviously readers will love the extremely sexy (but not sexually graphic) scenes between Adelina and Enzo, the leader of the Elites, but there are many other interesting dynamics going on. I especially loved the relationship between Adeline and Raffaele; it's so rare to see a platonic relationship between a young male and female told well, particularly when the guy is described as "beautiful".
But I think the thing I like best about this book is how no one is simply good or bad, everything is much more complicated and interesting than that. Adelina is allowed to have her own dark, twisted thoughts. She's not a hero. She's broken, selfish and even a little wicked at times:
“In spite of everything, I feel a strange sense of glee. All this chaos is of my own creation.”
And every few chapters, the evil Teren is given his own perspective for several pages that gives us insight into why he behaves the way he does. I never liked him, of course, but I did feel a strange sense of sympathy for him. Aren't complex villains just one of the best things ever?
So Adelina gets caught between two powerful groups of people who could each make her life hell, simply take it away from her, or hurt the sister she loves. She must learn fast, keep secrets and trust no one... it's a wild, breathless journey that had me thanking the god of literature that this is going to be a series. I can't wait to see what happens next.
“Everyone has darkness inside them, however hidden.”
2 1/2 stars. Maybe my rating comes as a surprise or even - if you care - a disappointment, but let me assure you: no one is more surprised or disappoi2 1/2 stars. Maybe my rating comes as a surprise or even - if you care - a disappointment, but let me assure you: no one is more surprised or disappointed than I am.
I've had this book on my TBR ever since it appeared on Goodreads without a title, cover or description. I started reading it as soon as it became available and the array of positive reviews from my friends and strangers alike made me feel sure I would love it. But I didn't. It is possible I expected all the wrong things from A Court of Thorns and Roses, and maybe my review can prevent others from doing the same.
Here's what I expected: an intricate fantasy world, supernatural politics and alliances, fast-paced action, a sensual romance - perhaps similar to Cruel Beauty and other Beauty and the Beast retellings, and a flawed but likable heroine.
But this book is, if you ask me, nothing more or less than softcore erotica. Which is fine, if that's what you're looking for.
I personally thought that the fantasy aspect felt like trimmings around a story that was all about a romance between Feyre (the narrator) and Tamlin (a High Lord of the Fae). There are some titillating scenes where Tamlin bites Feyre's neck and they have sex - undoubtedly the best bits of the book and I won't pretend I didn't feel a little hot under the collar myself. But the "ancient wicked shadow" promised in the blurb is only really a source of more romantic angst for Feyre and Tamlin.
However, I *do* like a good romance as much as anyone, so there are other reasons this book didn't quite work for me. In order to express what I mean, I'm going to compare A Court of Thorns and Roses to Cruel Beauty, which is, in my opinion, a better book.
In CB, I felt the chemistry between Nyx and Ignifex as soon as their loaded banter started to fill the pages. They were sexy together, Ignifex was an evil ruler (which was a real problem for their relationship) with blood-red eyes, and the supernatural part of the book was creepy, weird and completely unique. Despite enjoying the actual non-PG scenes in A Court of Thorns and Roses, I never felt any real chemistry between Feyre and Tamlin or any realistic challenge to their relationship.
What makes Beauty and the Beast such a compelling romance? One that demands to be told over and over again in so many different ways? I'll tell you what it is: it's the obstacles, the challenges, the improbability... how can a young woman come to love an ugly beast? We ask. I'll prove it's possible! The author replies. That's why readers fall in love with the beast again and again, even when he is furry and has horns like the Disney version. I loved the Disney beast. (view spoiler)[And that badass fox in Robin Hood so it's possible I have issues. (hide spoiler)]
Tamlin is not a beast.
“Even as he bit out the words, I couldn’t ignore the sheer male beauty of that strong jaw, the richness of his golden-tan skin.”
Oh my, how could a poor young woman ever love a pretty-faced, golden-haired, completely not evil Fae prince? How weird.
Maas is a good writer and the beginning - before Feyre is taken to the Fae world - made me believe a great book was on the way. When Maas writes action, she writes action really well. But there was far too little of it in this book. It came in behind the descriptions of beautiful Fae men and the Fae palace.
In short: It just wasn't nasty enough. In truth, this felt more like an extended Cinderella retelling than what it was supposed to be. A girl lives in poverty and looks after her rather annoying sisters until one day she is swept up by a prince who takes her to his beautiful palace (after about three chapters). I just find it hard to recommend this when I think Cruel Beauty is similar and yet so much better.
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I am conducting what I'm shelving as a "New Adult (NA) Experiment". I'm going to work my way through some of the popular New Adult books and see if I I am conducting what I'm shelving as a "New Adult (NA) Experiment". I'm going to work my way through some of the popular New Adult books and see if I can weed out the crap and hopefully find some surprising gems. Here's hoping!
When I started this experiment with the New Adult genre, I knew I was going to have to face a lot of things that I wouldn't like. This genre has become known, during it's short lifetime, for its sexism, its slut-shaming, its poor writing, its eyeroll worthy characters and its creepy portrayal of young male/female relationships. But I think Hopeless disappointed me a lot more because it started well and it could have been good. Yes, it goes with the usual "girl with issues" plotline and the "reformed bad boy" love interest, but Hoover writes in a way that's engaging, she weaves humour into every conversation to make you warm to the story and characters almost instantly. And then she ruins it.
Let's meet Sky Davis. She has all these issues to tell you about. She's never attracted to guys. Never gets butterflies. Never feels swept off her feet by emotions. She makes out with all these guys because she enjoys the numb feeling she experiences during the makeout sessions.The boys sneak in her window, make out with her, then she kicks them out without feeling a single thing. She doesn't sleep with them, though, because that would validate the rumours that she's a slut. And she is NOT A SLUT.
Please bear with me while I try to care.
There is a confusing mix of messages being sent out here about being a "slut", what that means, and how we're supposed to react to it. I get the feeling that the author wanted to treat us to an atypical protagonist who is somewhat sexually promiscuous, as opposed to the usual blushing virgin (well done! mix it up a bit, I say) but she seems afraid of her reader's inability to like a "slut", so she had to make up for it by getting the heroine to frequently and adamantly state "I am not a slut" and simultaneously drew parallels between a mean personality and revealing clothing on other girls. If the author had just been brave enough to challenge the stereotype, to steer clear of the assumed negative correlation between sexuality and morality, then this could have been a very different and a much better book.
Another thing that bothers me is the shallow obsession with looks in this novel. Everything is excused, every act of violence and stalkery forgotten because the love interest is a glowing ball of hotness. Litchick addressed this issue wonderfully. Dean Holder is a creep. If he looked any different, Sky would have not believed his behaviour to be remotely okay, she would have ran screaming in the opposite direction. He sees her ID for two seconds and then suddenly remembers her full name, home address, date of birth, height and donor status. He knows detailed information about her that she never told him. Sky pauses for all of five seconds to think it's weird that he knows these things, but then she gets distracted by his beautiful eyes or perfect muscles.
No, literally, she faints. She faints because he's so hot.
More than that, Sky is immediately cured of her numb, lack-of-butterflies affliction as soon as she sees Mr Beautiful. I'm calling it instalove, you can call it what you will, but whatever it is... it's fucking weird. She is immune to all guys except Dean Holder, and why? Because he is perfectly beautifully gorgeous. No other reason. He's a violent, creepy stalker but: "He's beautiful. Not too big, not too small. Not too rough, not too perfect." And they are such empty, shallow adjectives that say nothing. He could be a chocolate eclair based on that description.
I'm genuinely worried about what these books are teaching young women about relationships with men. They say everything is okay as long as he has a pretty face. Stalking? Of course. Violence? Perfectly natural. Grabbing your chin the second time you meet him? A small price to pay for that level of hotness on your arm. No. No. And also NO. Who does that? For one, who grabs your face the second time they meet you? For another, who stands there and thinks that's okay? Why are these books telling you to ignore your basic instincts of self-preservation. Like this quote:
"My instinct is telling me to run and scream, but my body wants to wrap itself around his glistening, sweaty arms." Stupid.
"Normally I wouldn't take water from strangers. I would especially not take water from people I know are bad news, but I'm thirsty." And stupid.
This book tells girls and women to ignore the valuable advice their parents gave them when they were young about what to do if approached by a strange man who offers you a drink and appears to know everything about your life, including where you live. It tells them to ignore all of this because he has a pretty face. Well, I've got two words for you to google: "Ted Bundy". Or "Young Stalin"....more
I am conducting what I'm shelving as a "New Adult (NA) Experiment". I'm going to work my way through some of the popular New Adult books and see if I I am conducting what I'm shelving as a "New Adult (NA) Experiment". I'm going to work my way through some of the popular New Adult books and see if I can weed out the crap and hopefully find some surprising gems. Here's hoping!
I was ready to like this book. I was ready to be forgiving of the small negatives. I was ready to make excuses for it, try and justify the bad and pretend the good overshadowed it. I don't even remember the last time I wanted to like a book this much. Despite what you may think from my reactions to most books in the NA experiment, I don't just spend my time looking for things to bitch and moan about in these books. I'm looking for the NA books which are different and actually tell a good story, even if it is a romance. This book's description didn't sound like the others that are all virtually identical. So, I wanted to love it. I really tried. But I couldn't. There were too many things. The negatives were flying at me on every page and, after a while, I couldn't ignore them. Which is sad.
We started on reasonably good terms. I really liked the idea of the book for two reasons: 1) I wanted to see how the author handled the subject of bullying and 2) I was intrigued by the promise of a bully being turned into someone we could love. The book didn't really deliver on either of those. For the former, the book started by using a chapter to give us an example of the way Tate had been bullied for several years by a guy who used to be her best friend but turned on her. It was sad, it was awful and I felt sorry for her. Objective achieved. Then we cut to a year later when she comes back from a year studying in France, determined not to let him win this time around. What this book then became was a showdown between two beautiful people who clearly wanted to shag but decided the best kind of foreplay is that where they antagonize the hell out of each other. It wasn't really a story about bullying, it was just about them each trying to get one up on the other.
As for the second reason I was attracted to this book, Jared (the guy) did win me over to some extent. I feel a bit strange about it because, on the one hand, I can see why he behaved like he did and I can find some level of forgiveness for him. But I'm not really able see a) why Tate forgave him so easily and b) why he changed back so abruptly (I don't think Tate's class monologue was a convincing enough reason). The reasons for his behaviour make sense, but his progression back to how he was before and the HEA don't. The main problem - and I shouldn't be surprised by this - is that the author doesn't attempt to humanize him first. That would have made it a better book and a more believable story. But instead of being humanized, Jared is sexualized first. And using his hot body as an excuse for forgiveness didn't work because that's not a good enough reason and I don't find this an attractive description of a man: "I doubt you even wait until the condom's off before forgetting their names." There must be something wrong with me.
But anyway. This stuff wouldn't have been enough for a one star rating on its own. With just this, I would have given at least two stars, maybe even three on a good day. The problem I had, the HUGE fucking problem I had with this book was the protagonist. God, she was the very meaning of insufferable. And her best friend wasn't far behind. On that subject, this seems to be incredibly common in NA books: BBF (Bad Best Friend) Syndrome. It's like a requirement for the protagonist's best friend to encourage them to forget about all the bad stuff a guy has done, just forget that he's a total jerk because he is SO HOT. Jared harassed Tate for years and yet her best friend advises her to get together with him and, when she doesn't, decides to have a go herself!
Forget the best friend, let's get back to the high-and-mighty queen of preciousness herself. Tate views everyone but herself, her parents and Jared with utter disdain. Being inside her head was like waging a war against every other female because of the things they wore, the things they said, and the guys they were with. For one, I feel it is always best to avoid stupid phrases like "queen bee of the mean girls", but it was when she referred to everyone Jared was with as being "slutty" because they were all over him that I felt like someone had really lit my fuse. She walks onto every scene, describing the others as "slutty looking girls". If they weren't sluts, they were bitches or "twits", every woman is an enemy to Tate in this book - even her "best friend" isn't immune. Piper, the girl Jared uses and casts aside, gets the worst of it: "Piper had her face buried in his neck. She looked trashy in her short, tight black dress and heels. Who wore heels to the beach?"
Look, I go to a University that used to be an all female institution. It's not anymore, but there are still currently around two women to every one guy. I know women. Smart women, stupid women, extroverted women, shy women, ambitious women, funny women, geeky women, sporty women, straight women, gay women... and I don't believe that I have ever seen a single woman as vapid, shallow and senseless as all the ones who exist in this novel. They walk around with their breasts bulging out, drooling over men who only love the marvellous Tate (who is, naturally, above all this breast-bulging, drooling business). I guess it's bad that I find myself siding with the antagonist in all this. And don't even get me started on that ridiculous fight in the school corridor between Tate and Piper.
There is so much slut-shaming, woman-shaming and obsessing over virginity in this book. For Tate, her virginity is a gift-wrapped present to be given to the one most deserving, while having sex with multiple guys is shameful. This quote is a particular favourite of mine: "I'd been called a bitch before, and it didn't hurt the way being called a slut did. Being a bitch could be a survival technique. They get respect. There was no honor in people thinking you were a slut." Reading that was a bit like dying a painful, anti-feminist death.
But wait! Just when you thought the guys got to escape Tate's judgement because of their penises, she casts a withering glance over them and their stupid ways. Honestly, she is the most annoying character ever. "The girls had no other interests beside shopping and makeup and the guys here gave me the urge to sanitize my eyeballs after seeing the way they looked at me." For godsake, Ms Precious, go sanitize your eyeballs somewhere we don't have to hear you whining, here you go, use this acid.
Edit 09/13: I said a while ago when I read this book that it wasn't exactly my thing. But I really need to say something about the pathetic and narrowEdit 09/13: I said a while ago when I read this book that it wasn't exactly my thing. But I really need to say something about the pathetic and narrow-minded people who caused so much trouble for the author (and others) and completely misrepresented this book. And I also want to say that I love everything Ms Rowell says in response to what has happened (that you can read in the link above). I suddenly want to tell everyone I know to read Eleanor & Park. And I fucking hate censorship.
............................................................................................ Three stars is not a wholly negative rating but I have to admit that I'm rather disappointed in this one. I'm not sure why, but I felt this would be the rule-breaker for my "no contemporary young adult romance" stance. Apparently not. This has enjoyable parts but the only real difference I can see between this and Pushing the Limits is that the characters in the latter are meant to be hot. Which could have been interesting because I've always preferred reading about the so-called freaks and losers - the outsiders, in other words - than I have the hot people, but these two books follow the same generic pattern of teen love stories with a whole ton of behind-the-scenes angsty issues. Though this one was, in my opinion, less entertaining.
It's 1986. Eleanor is the new girl and she is not only genetically made to look like a victim but she does herself no favours by pairing her looks with a bizarre fashion sense. Having nowhere to sit on the school bus, she takes a seat next to the clearly reluctant Park. Park is half-Korean in an extremely white school, but he is given enough respect by the popular kids to help him get by. His home life, unlike Eleanor's, is pretty much perfect apart from a bit of badgering by his dad. Slowly over time, these two individuals develop a relationship that is formed around stuff like reading comics together and exchanging mix tapes. And other totally cool nerd things like Star Wars and Shakespeare - which I could easily relate to. I think one of the major problems I had with this book is that I failed to get a sense of the attraction between them, their relationship to me seemed more suited to friendship than love. The progression from reluctant bus partners to friendship was natural in the story, but I then felt that the jump from that to boyfriend/girlfriend feelings was too immediate and unbelievable.
Not only that, but where I felt the start of their relationship avoided the usual cliches and did something a bit different (like the way their relationship begins without them speaking to one another), I felt that once they were "together" or whatever you want to call it, it quickly dissolved into the usual sweet nothings and thoughts like "I'll die if I never see him again" after knowing each other for a few weeks. This isn't insta-love, but it's silliness. Or perhaps I really am just a cold-hearted, unromantic person?
I did like the well-rounded feel of both characters, though. The author gave them many different levels, making them experience a range of emotions in a realistic way. I also thought the darker element of this novel was mostly handled well, Eleanor's home life is told gradually in a frightening way that is suitable for such situations. But it does just heighten my ability to make comparisons between this and Pushing the Limits, and I don't like serious issues such as domestic violence being used to fuel the love angst and create a Romeo and Juliet kind of forbidden love scenario. It just leaves a bad taste in my mouth.
This book will be great (hopefully) for fans of quirky, nerdy romance stories with an underlying dark angsty side, and for those who love typical nerdy references. If you don't usually like young adult romance and were eying this up as possibly being the book to change all that... you'll probably be disappointed. It has good parts, but it's not that different from anything else out there. ...more
Two girls, cherry-mouthed, glitter-lashed, our skin luminous with moonlight and sweat, making out beneath pennants that still shivered with the afterTwo girls, cherry-mouthed, glitter-lashed, our skin luminous with moonlight and sweat, making out beneath pennants that still shivered with the afternoon’s boy bravado. If only you bastards could see me now.
You want to know the bad thing about this book? I must have spent hours trying to single out the quotes I wanted to use from all this BLOODY PERFECT writing. It's like Leah Raeder thinks about every single word - simultaneously telling a story AND writing poetry. It's after books like this that my words seem inadequate, but I have to review this somehow... I'll try my best to do it justice.
For a start, this book is nothing like Unteachable; in fact, it's just a completely different animal. The pretty writing style is still there, but this book is much darker, more painful and more, um... important, I guess. It's nasty and there are no heroes and villains, just some majorly screwed up, complex and way too relatable characters.
I have gone on and on about the author's writing in my review of Unteachable and in the little pre-review I wrote for this book, but I have to reiterate again that her books are nothing short of intoxicating. That's the perfect word for it. You close the book after the last page and it's like coming down from some kind of crazy high/blood rush. So I have to take that feeling and try to sum up in a few mediocre sentences what is so amazing about Black Iris.
Atmospheric. That was a word I used for her first novel and I'm going to bring it up again. Though this book spans many months (in non-linear form), I especially love the way Leah Raeder captures that late summer feeling: it's still warm, not quite as bright, the days are fading into darkness earlier and the happy memories of summer are behind you. It's my favourite time of year but it also carries something melancholy about it. In Unteachable, I thought this was shown perfectly in the heady descriptions of the carnival. In Black Iris, summer becomes even more of a metaphor. Laney tells us:
The whole summer was inside of us.
And then later:
Leaves drifted from a tree. Everything was coming undone, tearing itself into little piles of red and gold. The slow disintegration of summer. The slow disintegration of my body as she pushed my legs apart, exhaled against me. I closed my eyes.
This book turned out to be a lot of things I wasn't expecting. It's a suspense novel that looks at the dark depths of the human mind; it's also a contemporary that explores mental illness, intense female friendhsips, being gay, and not quite being able to fit yourself under any sexual label; and it's also a love story, woven with references to poets and philosophers. There was never a dull moment.
As with Maise in Unteachable, Ms Raeder has crafted yet another unconventional (HELL YEAH) narrator who takes drugs, sleeps around, is easy to dislike at times, and still earned my sympathy. I like it when the heroine is a bit of a villain. I wonder what that says about me.
Girls get under each other’s skin. We get too close, too attached, too crazy, and then we can’t let go. Our claws sink too deep. When we separate, we tear each other apart.
I think it's fascinating the way the lines between friendship and love are blurred in Black Iris. When I was growing up, the few female friendships I had tended to be intense. I think a lot of girls experience this, especially as teenagers. We're very touchy-feely, we trust each other with our secrets and desires and it's like hell has been unleashed on earth when we fall out. It was interesting, exciting and captivating to watch the relationship dynamic between Laney and Blythe. And I think I was a little bit in love with the latter too.
I haven't said too much about the plot because you can read what the blurb tells you and I want to avoid spoilers. Also, I'm starting to realise that LR's books are the kind that you remember most because of the way they made you feel, so I will just say that this book made me feel sad, angry, worried, excited, breathless, intrigued and thankful. Thankful that there are NA writers like Leah Raeder.
I never wanted to be saved. I wanted someone to follow me down into the darkness.
Disclaimer: I didn't have a damn clue while reading this book or typing the above review that I had been mentioned in the acknowledgements so it did not affect my rating. But... OH MY GOD, LEAH, I LOVE YOU. Kept that one quiet, didn't you, you sexy minx.
Oh my goodness, I think this book might have just ruined the entire urban fantasy - and possibly dystopian too - genre for me. Because, where can I g
Oh my goodness, I think this book might have just ruined the entire urban fantasy - and possibly dystopian too - genre for me. Because, where can I go from here? Does it ever get better than this? Please be warned right now that this review is going to be nothing less than gushing. I loved everything about this book, so much so that I may need to keep writing in italics.
I can't believe I nearly didn't read this book. I've looked at the other rave reviews for it so many times and I kept coming back and re-reading the goodreads description, trying to talk myself into a book with angels. Because, well, I think angels are actually rather lame. I also can't help but discriminate against books that are only published as ebooks, especially when it's becoming more and more apparent that anyone can stick their books on kindle and sell them at a ridiculously cheap price. I find myself thinking: "if books like Tempest and Article 5 can make it into bookstores, this must be really bad". This theory has been metaphorically kicked, flattened and destroyed by Angelfall.
Let's start with the key ingredient: an addictive quality. I was utterly captivated by the story from the very beginning, it pulled me in and didn't let go until the very last page. So many books don't have this, that special something that makes it absolutely necessary that you read on, no matter what time it is and whether or not you need to get up early in the morning. The story isn't the most unique idea I've ever heard - a future world that has been torn apart by angels. The kind that are cold, cruel and merciless, that see humans has little more than ants, no Halo-type storylines here. Penryn is a seventeen-year-old girl who must look after both her disabled sister and her mentally unstable mother who talks to "demons". In one eventful day, Penryn rescues an angel who is being attacked by five others, which results in her sister getting captured by one of the five. With only the angel - an enemy - who can help, Penryn sets out to rescue her sister.
Now Penryn may actually be my new favourite heroine of all time. In every way. She kicks ass, but at the same time she is a normal teenage girl who just wants to keep her family safe. There's a hint, or perhaps I should say a suggestion of romance, but Penryn has much more important things to worry about and she knows where her priorities lie (thank you! thank you! thank you!). The dialogue between Penryn and Raffe (the angel) is fantastic, it's so witty, funny and sometimes touching. Good grief, I love this book!
The pace never slows, the excitement never runs dry, and the ending is the perfect mixture of closure and a temptation for more. The second installment simply cannot come fast enough.
Phew, I am so glad that's over. I can't believe I actually made it through all those pages, I'm sure I wouldn't have done if I hadn't set myself the Phew, I am so glad that's over. I can't believe I actually made it through all those pages, I'm sure I wouldn't have done if I hadn't set myself the challenge of reading every monthly book club read chosen by one of my groups. Ugh. Seriously, just ugh. I have read some dismal books in the young adult paranormal genre, books that have been boring or annoying or have offended me, but I think I can honestly say this is up there with some of the worst books I've ever read. Everything about this book aggravated me in one way or another, from the ridiculous length of it to the male protagonist who's about as convincingly male as estrogen pills. I couldn't even concentrate on the story for the most part because I kept picturing Ethan as a thirty-something woman.
There are some things I'm going to rant about that may not have bothered me several years ago before Twilight came along, waving its cliche banners, and I appreciate that some people might find this slightly unfair seeing as this novel was released four years before the saga*. Well, unfortunately, I can only tell you what I thought of this book now, not speculate on what I might have thought if I'd read it a few years earlier. And, this fact aside, other things have nothing to do with when it was written or its similarities with other novels that have since been released from this genre. Like the fact that Ethan pisses me off and is a terrible attempt at writing a teenage male voice.
So, let's get the whole "this is like every other paranormal young adult book" thing out of the way. There were one or two additions to the witchy aspect of it that felt somewhat original but the general pattern of this novel with the romance and the carbon copy characters was predictable and, therefore, boring. No one likes a boring read and it's especially annoying when the book is nearly 600 pages long. Shall I check the usual paranormal YA criteria off for you? Small town... check. New girl... check. Boring holier-than-thou protagonist... check. Everlasting love after a very small amount of time... check. I don't know if this counts as instalove but it certainly counts as instaweirdobsession, full of laughable musings like "there's just something about her that makes me know it's meant to be" (hopefully, it's obvious that this is not a direct quote).
I thought that this book might be a little more original because of the uncommon choice to have a male protagonist, but everything is still exactly the same. Now, though, instead of a girl-next-door type, you have a boy-next-door type who sails along in his faultlessness, constantly comparing himself to the less intelligent and morally-questionable beings he must interact with every day. Ethan even treats us to a rare bout of what I can only call male slut-shaming; he criticises his male peers for having one-track minds and wanting to get off with girls when he is looking for something more meaningful... good for him, but why does that make him any better than the rest? He is actually an exact male version of many paranormal YA protagonists who criticise the popular girls for being more relaxed with their sexuality.
Not only that, but he also insults the other members of his Southern US town. The novel plays heavily on Southern stereotypes and portrays almost everyone but Ethan as being incredibly stupid. Ethan sneers at everyone, he is obviously smarter, has his morals in the right place and is just downright awesome in comparison. He makes it no secret from the very first chapter that he considers himself above them and it made me hate him before the story had even started going anywhere. He even goes so far as to announce that he doesn't have an accent because he was raised by intelligent people... I have two words for him: HATEFUL SNOB. Or FUCK YOU. Either works.
And predictable. This was Predictable with a capital P. We don't even need to meet Lena or even hear her name to realise that she is the one Ethan will end up with. As soon as one of Ethan's classmates asks "have you seen the new girl?" and Ethan begins to wonder if she'll be hot, we know from that point where the whole thing is heading. Sometimes, I'll admit, there's some fun to be had watching a couple angst it out together, even though you know they'll be together eventually, but before we even knew her name? I can't even say that I stopped caring because, truthfully, I never even started. This whole book was just... not good. Not good at all....more
You know all the ways you can kill a girl? God, there are so many.
This story... these characters... those words... Courtney Summers has done it agaiYou know all the ways you can kill a girl? God, there are so many.
This story... these characters... those words... Courtney Summers has done it again.
I don't think, on the whole, I am a person who is afraid of much. I'd even go so far as to say I have a somewhat reckless, risk-taking personality at times. But I am scared of a few things... you want to know what one of my biggest fears is? Telling the truth and having no one believe me. Honestly, I think that's truly terrifying. Knowing you're being honest, knowing what you know, and being powerless to do anything about it. That's the first reason this book affected me so much.
What I mentioned above is a running theme behind the scenes of this story, but Summers incorporates many other elements that she excels at. For one, the author has an incredible understanding of teen girl politics - as shown previously in Some Girls Are. I should mention this book is nasty, graphic and contains some coarse language, but I guess that's high school for you.
…how can you put something so golden, a girl who can barely open her eyes or her mouth - how can you put something like that in front of them and expect them to be better people?
Summers' writing improves with every book she releases, writing scenes with words that manage to somehow be beautiful and horrific at the same time. But most of all, she has a talent for getting inside the thoughts, feelings, worries and insecurities of teenage girls. She paints unlikable characters and still breathes humanity into them, something that so few authors can do successfully.
As well as all of this, All the Rage also looks at small town life and the alliances that can exist within small communities of people. It makes it easy for your crimes to be overlooked if you're friends with the right people, or be called a liar if you're not.
I want to explain to you why I think her books are so different from other YA "issue" novels that deal with angsty teens, but it's difficult to do without just pushing one of her books into your hands. I guess there's something very raw, painful and honest about her stories that still steers clear of emotional manipulation. Even the characters we are supposed to find sympathy for are complex and flawed in their own way. I like that.
I hope she writes more soon because, as you may have guessed, I'm an unapologetic fangirl.
I'm dark matter. The universe inside of me is full of something, and science can't even shine a light on it. I feel like I'm mostly made of mysteriesI'm dark matter. The universe inside of me is full of something, and science can't even shine a light on it. I feel like I'm mostly made of mysteries.
Oh my... Magonia is one hell of a rare novel.
Not only does it offer an intriguing blend of reality-infused science fiction and highly-imaginative fantasy, but it is also unlike anything I have ever read before.
I've always said that - for me - originality is one of the best and rarest compliments a writer can get. Not "this is the next Hunger Games or Harry Potter" but "this is completely different to everything else I've read". How unusual it is to read a novel and be taken to places so new, fresh and wonderfully magical.
One of my favourite things has always been when authors manage to weave fact and fiction together in order to create a fantasy story with added realism. Especially when they introduce me to parts of history I'd never heard about before. Did you know that in France in 815, sailors claimed to have come from a secret realm in the clouds they called Magonia? This was one of the first recorded instances of UFO-related occurrences and it was completely new to me.
Many times I have wondered why YA authors insist on using the same old recycled mythology when there's a whole universe of weird and wonderful shit out there just begging to be turned into a story. Here we have a fine example. This book opens up an entire new world full of detailed and exciting mythology. I was like a kid in a toy store, staring wide-eyed at all the colourful weirdness and longing for more as the pages flew by.
The author uses language that deserves the comparisons to Neil Gaiman - a rich, atmospheric style of fairytale storytelling. And with this, she creates a cast of wonderful characters who I can only hope will reappear in sequels.
The main character in Magonia is Aza Ray and she is dying. The doctors are unable to discover what is wrong with her and have failed at all attempts to cure her of the mysterious disease that is causing her to essentially drown in the Earth's atmosphere. Then one day, circumstances see Aza awakening in a whole new world where she is no longer weak and sickly, but a powerful creature at the centre of a longstanding feud that will take her to places she never could have dreamed existed.
Suddenly, she discovers the truth about her life, her past and who she is; maybe this new world can offer her a place to live the kind of life she's always wanted? Or maybe nothing is as it seems. Stir in plenty of action, romance, and well-developed family dynamics and you have something pretty damn amazing. I should also point out that the love triangle I had feared might occur never went in that direction.
Looking for a genre-defying blend of magic, love, flying and family?
I have finally made a decision about Fifty Shades of Grey. I know, I know, my review of this isn't really needed, everybody's talking about this book, I have finally made a decision about Fifty Shades of Grey. I know, I know, my review of this isn't really needed, everybody's talking about this book, everybody's got the general gist of what it's about. But I've spent quite a long time thinking about this novel, the characters, and the relationship portrayed. I've been thinking about all the reasons people hate this so much and love it so much. I need to confess - for those who missed it - that I originally reviewed this first book immediately after finishing it and before I started (and finished) the other two books in the trilogy. I gave it three stars, I expressed all that Fifty Shades of Grey had made me feel: annoyed, frustrated, confused, and also entertained. I have since then felt like I have much more to add.
The reason I personally think that opinions differ so greatly on these novels is not because people have different sexual tastes. For some, yeah, this will come into play. However, I think the main reason is that this book and the characters send out a confusing mix of messages. When I finished Fifty Shades of Grey, I had no idea what kind of book I'd just read. Was it BDSM erotica? Or the tale of a man's childhood abuse and how this impacted on his sex life later on? Were Christian Grey's sexual tastes supposed to be erotic or wrong? Let me tell those of you who haven't read this: it isn't clear.
This book appears to be an erotic BDSM romance at face value. But Ana makes it clear early on that she doesn't want that kind of relationship, that Christian is "fifty shades of fucked up", that the way he behaves isn't right, but is actually the result of an abusive upbringing. Ana later contradicts her early decision and gets all pouty when Christian won't play kinky with her... and yet the previous time he'd done it she spent the evening crying and feeling sorry for herself. Some people seem to see Christian as the big bad man who abuses a weak young woman. This is not the case. There is nothing, I repeat nothing, that happens between the two of them that Ana doesn't give consent to. Sure, she may whine about it afterwards, or use the excuse that she doesn't want to lose him, but she makes the choices, she holds the power.
Here's what I think is the ultimate problem with Fifty Shades of Grey: Ms James' terrible writing. It's nothing new, she even admitted it herself, but that is why we all can't figure out what it is about this book that makes it some parts entertaining, some parts annoying as fuck. Because I'm trying to categorise this so I can begin to understand it, so that I can form my opinion and write my review accordingly. But we cannot understand what doesn't make sense. And James' characterisation does not make any sense at all. She writes Ana as a naive student at the mercy of Christian's abusive past, then she writes Ana as a sexual manipulator who actually likes BDSM. Is Christian sexy or a victim? I'll tell you: he's both and neither, because James cannot create characters and relationships to save her life. She contradicts herself, she changes her mind without logical reason. This is why it is pointless analysing the relationship between Ana and Christian. One minute it's sexy, the next minute it's fucked up. One minute it's BDSM, the next minute it's abuse. How do you accurately review a book that changes its mind every two minutes?
I also feel I need to say something about BDSM. Any more than a small amount of kinky doesn't really interest me, but it doesn't bother me either if it is between consenting adults. However, there are two things I can say about this matter in Fifty Shades of Grey: 1) it really isn't that kinky, and 2) for the most part, this isn't really a BDSM relationship (I don't think the author actually understands what one is). I can't say that I'm experienced in visiting those kind of clubs down the dark allies of Soho, but I've done not a small amount of reading on the psychological aspect of BDSM relationships. I have a keen interest in feminism and I have often wondered if something like this is nothing but a hindrance to the progress of women and equality. I would conclude from my reading that it is not.
Firstly, BDSM relationships are about give and take. The dom and the sub each give one another what they want/need. It isn't about abuse, it isn't about selfishly taking what you want, and because these relationships involve relinquishing control to another person, there is a deep amount of trust required. Also, it is important to note that the power of the dom is an illusion, the sub holds all the power, they say how far it goes, when it stops, what is too much. The key thing is that both of them get something out of it. Which is why the relationship in Fifty Shades of Grey can only be called BDSM when Ana does an abrupt u-turn on her opinions and decides she wants a bit of spankiness. The parts where she is upset about the relationship Christian wants - that is not BDSM. The parts where she reluctantly allows him to get his way - that is not BDSM.
I think there is nothing wrong with BDSM erotica. I think there is nothing wrong with doms, subs, sex slaves, whatever... if that is what the person wants. But Fifty Shades of Grey is about 10% BDSM relationship and 90% bad writing that just fucks with your head until you're not sure what the hell you're reading. Ms James has created one mess of a book, whether you'll look at her mess and see something entertaining or horrific, well that's kinda just like looking at this picture and asking whether you see a rabbit or a duck.
I was one of that annoying minority who didn't really like The Winner's Curse. I mean, it was okay, but proved onceMarie Rutkoski has upped her game.
I was one of that annoying minority who didn't really like The Winner's Curse. I mean, it was okay, but proved once again that most writers of YA fantasy focus on the flirtations and romancing and forget about pretty much everything else. However, the way that book ended had me curious about the potential new directions of book two...
I was right to be curious. I was right to take my chances on the sequel.
This book just has everything. I would liken it to what Maas did when she took us from the romantic, fantasy-lite Throne of Glass to the clever, action-packed Crown of Midnight. Rutkoski gets vicious in this book. Kestrel must make the hardest of decisions, sacrifice people for the "greater good", and outwit the emperor and his armies. There are no such things as friends and allies in Kestrel's world anymore; the only person she can rely on is herself.
It's amazing how much more I liked the relationship between Kestrel and Arin when it was slipped into the background behind all the treason, revenge and backstabbing going on. The moments when they did meet had more love/hate tension and I found myself angsting over what would happen between them. Because this second book is very clearly not a romance and I felt the complete lack of guarantee in a happy ending on every single page.
The Winner's Crime is much more tightly-plotted and full of genuine surprises than the first book. I could hardly look away as it zipped along at a wonderful pace, twisting one way and then another. I like how Kestrel is a complex heroine and not wholly good; she's allowed to be selfish and make choices we don't necessarily agree with.
I also feel like we got a better sense of Kestrel's intelligence and ability in this book. Now she has bigger concerns than her romance with Arin and high society life, we get to see her plotting, being damn sneaky, and outwitting the emperor. It gave me a new kind of respect for her and I can't wait to see where her story goes.
One thing I like a lot about these books is the way each ending has promised a very different kind of story. I only picked up this book because the ending of the last seemed to suggest an entirely new setting and array of problems... and the end of this one does the same. I can already see that the third book will bring something very different.