2 1/2 stars. I almost always love Gaiman's work, but this one was mediocre for me.
Riddell's artwork is - not surprisingly - absolutely stunning. The2 1/2 stars. I almost always love Gaiman's work, but this one was mediocre for me.
Riddell's artwork is - not surprisingly - absolutely stunning. The illustrations are black and white gorgeousness, decorated with gold leaf here and there. It's definitely a visually impressive book.
And yes - there's a cool twist to the traditional Sleeping Beauty tale, as well as a new spin on the Snow White story. But the book is so short that there are no really interesting or developed characters. The villain is the traditional, one-dimensional kind that longs for youth and power, and the story just felt like it needed something else in order to be memorable.
Pretty much any story that relies on its big twist kind of falls flat, in my opinion....more
I don't think I can do this. I haven't read any of Flinn's other books, but I do love a good retelling so I thought I'd check this one out. IDNF - 20%
I don't think I can do this. I haven't read any of Flinn's other books, but I do love a good retelling so I thought I'd check this one out. I can already tell the obsession with looks would really annoy me if I continued, as well as Violet's obsession with Greg-the-asshole, and the fact that her arch nemesis is an evil but beautiful high school mean girl.
"I realized what I had known, probably all along, what ugly girls since the beginning of time had been trying to deny: Beauty was all that mattered. I might tell myself that if people really knew me, they’d look past my weak chin and non-eyelashes, would see into my soul and like me despite it all. But, watching Greg giggle with Jennifer and Gennifer, I knew that was not the case. Greg Columbo had looked into my soul—but he still couldn’t see past my nose."
"My mother, of course, was beautiful. Not beautiful the way every kid thinks her mother is beautiful, but actually beautiful. I’d barely known my father. He died when I was little, leaving Mom with enough money that she never had to work, never had to remarry “another old, rich guy,” as she said. Mom had no photos of him she’d admit to, but he must’ve been really ugly because, for sure, I didn’t get my looks from her side. She was tall, with the build of a dancer, blond hair the color of starlight, and eyes the exact shade of the Mediterranean Sea in photos of Greece. Her brows arched high, making her appear wide-eyed and innocent. Her lips were dark and pouty, the type I imagined boys wanted to kiss."...more
2 1/2 stars. I didn't hate this, but with so many other retellings around these days, I wouldn't rush out to recommend it either. It simply doesn't st2 1/2 stars. I didn't hate this, but with so many other retellings around these days, I wouldn't rush out to recommend it either. It simply doesn't stand out in a genre that is getting more and more overcrowded by the second.
Peter Pan has inspired some of my favorites from the retelling genre - Tiger Lily and The Child Thief - but this one left me feeling empty. I never connected with the characters. Never felt any depth was given as to why Hook really wants to grow up (more so than every other child) and Peter doesn't.
The stories from Barrie can be manipulated slightly to be beautiful, haunting and scary. There is something so sad about growing up and changing, about people becoming someone different - someone you never wanted them to be. Alternatively, it is a frightening concept. A strange young boy creeping into children's rooms in the dead of night. This book captured none of those things. It barely scrapes the surface of its potential.
I also didn't like that some parts read like a middle grade novel. Occasionally, MG novels work for me, but I mostly find them lacking in depth....more
“For most of history, Anonymous was a woman.” ― Virginia Woolf
3 1/2 stars. A Thousand Nights is almost certainly going to be compared to the other YA
“For most of history, Anonymous was a woman.” ― Virginia Woolf
3 1/2 stars. A Thousand Nights is almost certainly going to be compared to the other YA 1,001 Nights retelling published this year - The Wrath and the Dawn - which is not a good thing. Because, even though their premises and foundations are identical, these two books could not be more different and they really do deserve to be viewed as completely separate creatures.
I'm not going to sell A Thousand Nights as something it isn't. It's a slow-paced, dense, thoughtful and literary work that I'm not sure deserves to be in the YA section. Not because teens aren't smart or cannot appreciate this book and its themes, but because there is a certain level of easy readability expected from YA and those of all ages who pick this up might be put off by the pace and complexity.
Compared to The Wrath and the Dawn, the writing and atmosphere are far more well-suited to a 1,001 Nights retelling set in the pre-Islamic Middle East. "Demons" (likely djinn or ifrit, though neither term is explicitly used) roam this dusty desert landscape and one has possessed a king, forcing him to take and kill wife after wife.
But I didn't open with that Woolf quote just to practice my feministing. The original 1,001 Nights story is a sexist piece of beautiful lyricism. There are wonderful things about it, and yet it treats women like worthless bits of garbage to be discarded at the king's will. The "reward" for the woman who is clever enough to keep herself alive by telling the king a story every night is that she gets to marry the murderer.
So Johnston takes that and subverts it. She has tried something very brave here and I was surprised to discover how well it worked: Everyone in this book remains nameless apart from Lo-Melkhiin. The effect is that this becomes a story about the overlooked, the unnamed, the anonymous. And it is these that have the true power in the end - from the unnamed narrator, to her unnamed mother and sister, to the unnamed women in the qasr.
It's a very different kind of retelling that deserves to be read. It is slow-paced, but have patience with it. I don't think you'll regret it.
A Whole New World, contrary to what I initially believed, is not really a retelling. Instead, it's more of a fan fiction that recreates the Disney filA Whole New World, contrary to what I initially believed, is not really a retelling. Instead, it's more of a fan fiction that recreates the Disney film for the first approx. 25% - down to copying the exact dialogue in parts - but then changes a single element of the plot to spin the story in a new direction.
Being a fan of the Disney movie, I found myself saying some of the lines before the characters. And, the small prologue aside, we once again meet Aladdin in the market when he is stealing bread and being chased by the Sultan's guards - just like in the movie. He even says the same old line to Abu:
“All this for a loaf of bread?” Aladdin asked, exasperated.
It was actually painfully boring to read the parts that were an exact novelization of the film. Why bother when I can just watch the excellent Disney version instead?
But, yes, after about 25% the story changes when Jafar traps Aladdin underground (no magic lamp this time) and proceeds to take over and terrorize Agrabah with the genie. So, don't things get better after that? In one word: nope.
The novel is contradictory in that it's boring to read it having already watched the movie, but the story almost assumes the reader is familiar with the Disney characters. They are never developed beyond one-dimensional hero/villain/love interest archetypes. Jafar is nothing more than a pantomime antagonist. Aladdin has no personality beyond his desire to save everyone else.
Honestly, there is no reason to read this book. Haven't watched the Disney movie? Then go watch that instead. Have watched the Disney movie? Then go watch it again. I struggle to believe either fans OR newbies will find anything to love here. It moves from darkness and violence into cartoonish territory and back again, never quite becoming anything more than a mess.
And one more thing. Like most annoying, uncultured white people, my experience with Near East/former Ottoman Empire cuisine equates to basically... baklava. But if I was going to write a novel set in that area, I would at least do a bit of research. It's kind of cringy and embarrassing when a white person sets a book in the Near East and shows EVERYONE eating almost nothing but baklava. Just sayin'.
Her dreams were a tangled mess of blood and shuddering trees.
This book is damn near perfect.
I just don't know how to review this wonderful, creepy,Her dreams were a tangled mess of blood and shuddering trees.
This book is damn near perfect.
I just don't know how to review this wonderful, creepy, gory, clever, twisty fairy tale and be able to do it justice. How do you sell a book to people when it does so many different things and does them all marvelously? I just cannot wait for Cruel Beauty fans to read this.
Crimson Bound is a story full of villains who are allowed to love and heroines who are allowed to murder and be selfish. Rosamund Hodge does not do simple characters - they are all tangled up in a bizarre web of friendship, fear, love, hate, desire and loyalty. You can never quite be sure which characters are trustworthy - if, indeed, any of them are.
If you like fairy tale retellings to stay close to the originals, then Hodge's imaginative new worlds and mythology may not be for you. I, however, love it. This tale is woven with nods towards the Red Riding Hood story we all know but it wanders far from it into brand new, extremely creepy territory. There are no wolves in this story, at least not in the literal sense, but there are things far far worse.
In the darkest shadows of the wood stands a house. The walls are caulked with blood. The roof is thatched with bones. Within that bloody house lived Old Mother Hunger, the first and eldest of all forestborn.
As with Cruel Beauty, this book is marketed as YA but I would stress that it is probably for the older end of that age group or adults. There are plenty of gruesome battles, sexy scenes and things younger teens might find disturbing.
Now for the story; but I cannot tell you too much because you deserve to discover everything in this book on your own. Anyway, the story is about Rachelle who carelessly strays from the forest path and meets a forestborn who marks her. The rules are thus: a marked human has three days to kill someone and become a slave to the forest's power or else die. Rachelle makes her choice and will spend the rest of her life paying the price.
Every day for the last three years, she had thought she deserved to die. She still didn’t want to. She wanted to live with every filthy desperate scrap of her heart.
Now older, Rachelle is haunted by her guilt and propelled by the dark power of the forest and the evil Devourer that hides at its centre. Feeling like she has nothing left to lose, she will do anything to stop the Devourer from seizing control of the human world with his darkness. Little does she know that there is always something left to lose.
It's just wonderful. She's just wonderful. And complex and selfish at times, but always badass:
“Speechless?” asked Erec. “Don’t be ashamed. I bring all ladies to that state sooner or later.” “Too bad for you,” she said, “I’m not a lady."
The book twists about all over the place, never letting you guess how it's going to end. The tension never leaves and the author is just evil enough to convince you that any and every character you love might die.
I swear my heart was literally racing for the last quarter... so much awesome, so many perfect quotes that I won't put in this review because they should be discovered at exactly that point in the story. It feels like I've been waiting forever for this book and it was oh so worth it.
I was surprised by how much I liked this book. To be honest, I was seduced by that cover and the fabulous title and didn't really expeFeminist poetry!
I was surprised by how much I liked this book. To be honest, I was seduced by that cover and the fabulous title and didn't really expect it to hold that much substance. But, after a slightly shaky start, I found myself wanting these poems to go on and on.
Heppermann retells traditional fairy tales, legends and even biblical myths in her poems, incorporating metaphors for all the issues teen girls face - insecurities, sex, misogyny, eating disorders, etc. The poems were dark and extremely compelling. I especially liked the idea behind "The First Anorexic" - a poem about Eve's first taste of forbidden fruit and the many women after her who would be obsessed with what they ate. I also thought "The Brief History of Feminism" and its clever use of the phrase "Simon Says" worked really well.
It's also darkly comic at times:
The dress code says we must cover ourselves in ample pants, skirts that reach well below our lascivious knees, polos buttoned over the rim of the canyon, a glimpse of which can send a boy plunging to such depths he may never climb back up to algebra.
We say that if a hiker strays off the path, trips, and winds up crippled, is it really the canyon's fault?
But the author sums up best what this little book of poetry is all about in the author's note at the end:
If you find the dividing line between fairy tales and reality, let me know. In my mind, the two run together, even though the intersections aren't always obvious. The girl sitting quietly in class or waiting for the bus or roaming the mall doesn't want anyone to know, or doesn't know how to tell anyone, that she is locked in a tower. Maybe she's a prisoner of a story she's heard all her life - that fairest means best, or that bruises prove she is worthy of love.
But here's a great thing about stories: they can be retold.
**spoiler alert** "I realized, looking around for the first time, that we weren’t in Dusty Acres anymore."
Disappointment #1: This book was extremely**spoiler alert** "I realized, looking around for the first time, that we weren’t in Dusty Acres anymore."
Disappointment #1: This book was extremely boring for about 80% of the 432 pages. I was tempted to call it slow at first because it certainly felt like it, but I guess stuff was constantly happening - I just didn't care about any of it. Occasionally I would perk up because I read an interesting page and then I would go back to forcing myself to absorb the words properly. It was a lengthy and difficult slog, despite the exciting premise.
Disappointment #2: The quirky Tim Burton-esque Oz didn't work for me. The strong beginning made me wonder if this was actually a contemporary novel with The Wizard of Oz parallels and metaphors woven into it - well, I think that would have been a better book. The story is about Amy Gumm who has grown up in a trailer park with a mother who is slipping further into a drug-induced oblivion. She has been called "trash" her whole life by other kids at school and the teachers never believe her side of the story because they know all too well who her mother is.
Amy is exactly the kind of character I enjoy reading about. The kind who is realistically flawed, complex, well-rounded and interesting. She's had it rough enough that you feel sympathy towards her, but she's no sappy pushover either. I was instantly intrigued - captivated even - by her life, by her relationship with her mother, by the sad loneliness she obviously felt... then she got tornadoed out of Dusty Acres and into Oz and that's when everything went downhill.
"This wasn’t the Oz that I had read about or seen in the movie. It was as if someone had drained out some of the Technicolor and introduced some serious darkness."
I lost all connection with Amy and her story when she landed in Oz and began moving from one group of people I didn't care about to another. In this version of the story, Dorothy returned to Oz from Kansas because she found our world lackluster in comparison. Caught up in a world of magic where she was deemed a hero, Dorothy was soon appointed Princess of Oz and became obsessed with the power awarded to her. Dorothy proves the saying that power corrupts and begins slowly terrorizing the land and people. And it is up to Amy Gumm to stop her. Honestly? I think an interesting character like Amy Gumm is wasted on a quirky fantasy filled with odd laws (reminiscent of Lewis Carroll's Wonderland) and Permasmile lipstick.
It was almost like it tried so hard to be quirky and weird, that I could see right through the charade. And the reality was dull.
Disappointment #3: Instalove or instaromance or instaangst. Who cares, anyway? People and talking animals are being tortured, the world is in peril, your life is in danger... d'ya think you could control your bloody hormones for a sec? Or at the very least stop getting unreasonably jealous at really inappropriate times. I swear some potentially excellent scenes are ruined by petty jealousies and romantic angst. I want magic and nastiness and darkness and twists! Not young lovin'.
Disappointment #4:Dorothy doesn't even fucking die. It's all lies! You better be prepared for that sequel! Or two. Or three. Maybe it'll never end. I'll be walking around with a zimmer frame* and that bitch Dorothy will still be alive. I wish you luck if you're continuing on this journey, but it's time for me to bow out. I'm glad it's over.
................................................................................. *Apparently it's called a walker! Jeez, bloody Americans. Thanks Khanh! :D
• It's a gorgeously written blend of Beauty and the Beast retelling and Greek mythology. • It's at once a powerful, wonderful, heart-breaking love story and so so much more than that. • It's a dark tale that stabs you in the heart at every turn and constantly throws all new levels of craziness into the mix. • And it's the latest addition to my favourite YA of all time shelf.
Cruel Beauty shouldn't work. But somehow it does. It managed to have me on the edge of my seat from start to finish. It shocked me. It creeped me out. I laughed. I cried. I'm still not sure I understand the ending but I am sure that it doesn't really matter. In short, I loved it. It was one of those rare books that literally glued my eyes to the page, had me devouring each sentence in a mad need to find out what the hell was going on and what would happen. It was a bizarrely beautiful little addiction and I only hope this signifies the start of a great year for young adult (after the last was so disappointing).
So... Nyx. The best books are held aloft by a great protagonist and Cruel Beauty is no exception. Nyx is exactly the kind of character I love. She's strong-willed, witty and brave. She's also angry, bitter and ferocious. She's lived her whole life being prepared as a weapon; and as a sacrifice. Her father made a deal with the Gentle Lord - the evil ruler of their kingdom - before Nyx and her twin sister were born. Their mother had been unable to conceive a child, so their father foolishly asked that the Lord grant them children and promised one of his daughters to the Lord in exchange. But he also lost his wife to childbirth in the bargain. The Gentle Lord's habit of cashing in double on his deals is well-known. Nyx, as the child her father loved less, has long-known her destiny to be the wife of the Gentle Lord. When the times comes, she goes with determination, fear and anger. She does not play by the Lord's rules. She is defiant. She tests his patience. I liked her instantly.
Then there is Ignifex, of course. The Lord that has terrorized their kingdom for centuries. The one who carries the blood of countless innocents on his hands. But, unsurprisingly, things are never quite that simple. What I liked best about Ignifex was his wicked sense of humour. There's nothing quite like a villain who is constantly witty and hilarious. The complex layers of each character in this book just blew my mind, no one is ever simple or cliche. The heroine does plenty of bad things and the evil villain... well, be careful you don't fall in love.
Cruel Beauty was just so unexpected. I thought I knew exactly what it was as soon as I glimpsed the cover, title and GR description. I thought I understood perfectly and I thought I'd probably read countless versions of the same book. How wrong I was. This is honestly quite unlike anything I've ever read before. I liked how everything about the book, the setting, the story and the characters was a bit like one of those Russian dolls. Something else within something else within something else. Then there's that whole haunting bittersweet tone that permeates this entire novel. I swear Ms Hodge has perfected the art of raising goosebumps with a perfectly-spun twist on an old Greek myth. And it just got better and better.
I think this review is more of an incoherent mess of feelings, so I'll stop now before the drooling starts. What I want to know is this: when is the author releasing another book?
If the girl could only have spoken to the other boys and girls, the ones that had followed the golden-eyed boy before her, she would have known that
If the girl could only have spoken to the other boys and girls, the ones that had followed the golden-eyed boy before her, she would have known that there is always something left to lose.
This is a story you know - in a way. You remember how it goes, right? A boy called Peter appears to children and promises to take them to a better place, a place where they will never grow up and never get old. Of course we all know this story. But... what if it wasn't all that it seemed? What if Peter held back dark secrets about the place he takes the children? What if there was a more sinister reason those children never got to grow up?
What I find most surprising is that I never realised how creepy and frightening the basic premise of Peter Pan could be when twisted ever so slightly. Think about it. A mysterious boy of unknown origin creeps through the windows of children's bedrooms and lures them away in the middle of the night. Why was I never completely freaked out by this? Well, now I'm terrified.
The Child Thief is a lengthy, complex, but extremely compelling fantasy that weaves in elements of multiple folklore retellings, Arthurian mythology, historical fact and gorgeously creepy artwork. It should not be mistaken for a young adult novel, it's extremely graphic and disturbing in parts, but beautifully written and tinged with that inescapable sadness reminiscent of the original Peter Pan stories. It's at once a bloody horror story and a lesson in growing up - even the eponymous protagonist of the novel is simultaneously horrifying and endearing.
We are the lost, the wild, the untamable.
In this story, Peter seduces the children who are lost, abused and forgotten - the ones who have nothing left to lose and gladly follow the golden-eyed boy who makes enticing promises. At its core, this is a heartbreaking tale about the abandoned and unloved, and those who don't realise they're loved until it's too late. There are a lot of lessons floating around in this novel, plenty of philosophical musings on life and death. Those who believe this is vastly different from the original Peter Pan have clearly forgotten the darkness of Barrie's stories before the sugar-coated Disney version. I always remember the haunting line Peter says: "To die will be an awfully big adventure."
It is a wonderful retelling for old fans, but it also stands on its own as an intricately-woven fantasy world full of wonder and danger. The characters face multiple threats from faeries, witches, pixies, flesh eaters and - perhaps the most bloodthirsty creatures of all - humans. The ending was sad in the perfect kind of way. I love that Brom has managed to create a main character that is some parts monster and some parts hero, you will probably find yourself wondering at times which he is and deciding that he is in many ways both.
Given the powerful effect this novel had on me and the way that it is completely unlike anything I've ever read before, how could I not give it five stars?
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.
Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Tumblr["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
I'd been wondering why lately I've had such bad luck with books. Almost everything I picked up went back down again and more than half of what I readI'd been wondering why lately I've had such bad luck with books. Almost everything I picked up went back down again and more than half of what I read through and reviewed was a disappointment. After reading this first volume of the Fables series, it hit me all of a sudden - Tatiana. Or lack of Tatiana and her excellent book-recommending skills. Thanks for the rec, T, I knew you'd get it right ^_^
The Fables series has been one I've wanted to start since I first heard of it. Adult retellings of classic fairytales with a few touches of sex, violence and humour? SOLD! However, I talked myself out of it about a year ago when I foolishly picked up a random volume - nine, I believe - and didn't get it at all. Perhaps volume nine happens to be a bad apple in an otherwise excellent bunch, or perhaps that particular volume wasn't made to be read as a standalone (IMO, the first three can be enjoyed individually), whatever the reason, I found myself putting off a series which I'd previously been certain I'd love. I've learned my lesson and am now breezing through these fantastic volumes (I'll be starting number four soon) and becoming more and more addicted to the characters, the world and the humour.
Will you enjoy this? Personally, I think it depends on whether the humour is your cup of tea. I also don't believe it would be fair to sell this series as merely a comedy; each volume is very different, some are darker and gorier than others, some are primarily mysteries, others not so much. But the humour is behind it all and is what, for me, turns this into something more than a regular urban fantasy, fairytale retelling. It's what makes these characters memorable and there's not much I like more than a funny villain - everyone has a sense of humour here. I, for one, am finding it more and more funny with every installment I read.
Another thing is the artwork, which I like a lot in this series. The art has to receive a mention when you're reading a graphic novel because it inevitably affects how you read the story and how you view the characters. I tend to prefer realistic drawings, as opposed to arty, scrawly messes that are supposed to set some kind of tone. Give me this instead any day:
This first volume opens with the discovery of Rose Red's destroyed apartment. The place has been turned on its head and blood is splattered on every surface. Bigby Wolf and Snow White must investigate... can all that blood really be Rose Red's? Is she dead? Who would have a reason to hurt her? This first story is enjoyable and, in my opinion, they just keep getting better.
I just want to take this opportunity to also recommend the TV show Once Upon A Time. Originally, they were planning to make a show out of Fables but they modified it a bit and Once Upon A Time came out the other end. And it's a favourite of mine - you should check it out!...more
I've been highly anticipating this book since I learned of it's coming existence for no other reason The Crane Wife, quite simply, didn't work for me.
I've been highly anticipating this book since I learned of it's coming existence for no other reason than the fact that Patrick Ness wrote it. Ness is easily one of my favourite teen/YA writers and I find myself having to read everything he writes - even when he ventures out of his comfort zone and writes a novel for adults. Not only was I eager to jump back inside Ness's brilliant mind, but the promise of a retelling of an old Japanese folktale really called to me. My knowledge of Japanese myths and stories is limited, so I was sure the experience would be something unique and refreshing. And I suppose on some level it was.
The story is about George Duncan who is woken one night by a strange cry. Going outside, he discovers an injured Crane. George finds himself overcome with compassion and rushes to help the bird, removing an arrow from it's wing. The very next day, he meets Kumiko - a mysterious woman whom he falls in love with and together they create beautiful pieces of art. But George is dissatisfied with this existence and feels he needs to know more about the strange woman he loves. This desperation for knowledge is George's ultimate downfall; where the male character in the original story is ruined by his lust for money, it is George's need to know more that is his undoing.
It seems like I am being very harsh and critical to say that I think Ness should stick to his more subtle tales for young adults like A Monster Calls but I don't see it that way. The Crane Wife, though Ness's most ambitious work in terms of language and complexity, seemed somewhat pretentious and overly concerned with the reiteration of its own depth. Ness has evidently tried to take his writing a step further and play with language - but this story feels a lot more strained. The message in A Monster Calls was gentle, sad and powerful. The Crane Wife made me feel like I was being smacked repeatedly in the face with lessons in the philosophy of knowledge. So, yes, I do say that Ness should stick to more subtle tales or maybe he shouldn't write for adults - who knows? - but I don't mean this as a criticism. Ness is brilliant at handling poignant tales for children, whether it be about a boy with a dying mother or an adventure in a dystopian world, but his experiment in the different here was, in my opinion, a failure.
The Crane Wife really plays on the theme of knowledge and truths. I actually love and agree with the idea that the truth is not absolute but dependent on the person telling the story. I expect to see lovers of this book pulling up quotes like these:
"There were as many truths – overlapping, stewed together – as there were tellers. The truth mattered less than the story’s life. A story forgotten died. A story remembered not only lived, but grew."
"No one wanted to hear that people other than themselves might be complicated, that no one was ever just one thing, no history ever just one version."
But I come back to the lack of subtlety again. I feel like Ness keeps making this point again and again throughout the novel until I just wanted to be like "I get it! I swear, I get it!!" I don't know why Ness was so concerned with our ability to understand the message he was trying to put across when he's managed to weave them so gently and brilliantly into his young adult works.
Another thing I really didn't like was George. George is a nice guy, don't you know? Everyone loves George. George is a do-no-wrong, wonderful, women-treat-him-like-crap-cos-he's-such-a-sweetie type of guy. I can't stand that. For one, I can't stand unrealistically nice and good characters (whatever that male equivalent of Mary Sue is - I can't remember); for another, I hated the suggestion that there is something wrong with all the women who come into George's life for not appreciating him.
"a pleasant enough man, but lacking that certain something, that extra little ingredient to be truly worth investing in. It was a mistake women often seemed to make. He had more female friends, including his ex-wife, than any straight man he knew. The trouble was they’d all started out as lovers, before realising he was too amiable to take quite seriously. ‘You’re about sixty-five per cent,’ his ex-wife had said, as she left him.’ And I think seventy is probably my minimum.’ The trouble was, seventy per cent seemed to be every woman’s minimum."
George is that "friend zone" guy that all women adore but cannot be with for any length of time because they're too busy screwing bad guys. Why can't women just notice the nice guys standing in the wings, waiting to be awarded with sex and love for being such good friends? Ugh. This post is a fantastic discussion about the friend zone issue.
The Crane Wife isn't an awful book and, like I said, there were some beautifully written parts that I'm sure many will rush to quote. For me, though, I think I'm going to stay away from any future adult books by Ness and hope he delivers more of what he's good at. It's not an insult to say his power lies in younger books with simpler language; J.K. Rowling is no Proust but there are millions of children and adults around the world that will be forever grateful that she isn't....more