"I shall be a carrion monster, he whispered into the coral shell of her ear, an organ of women he found unspeakably moving in its soft, whorling vort"I shall be a carrion monster, he whispered into the coral shell of her ear, an organ of women he found unspeakably moving in its soft, whorling vortex, and which always seemed to him to be an invitation to adventure."
I guess I'm inviting haters and trolls by reviewing this much-loved Booker Prize winner, but the eye rolls started somewhere halfway through chapter one and they just wouldn't stop.
It makes me feel bad saying this about a book which was clearly inspired by the author's father's own experiences on the Burma death railway. How can you criticise a work that sets out to tell such an horrific story of war and violence? But this book is drowning itself in its own pretentious language. A woman's ear is an invitation to adventure? Give me a break.
If the story had been less dressed-up with fancy trimmings, in my opinion it would have been better, had no Man Booker Prize, and sold far fewer copies. Which is sad, really. But I guess when you strip it down, The Narrow Road to the Deep North is yet another war story with plenty of gore and sadness; it achieves differentiation by waxing poetic about life, love and ears.
And: "He found her nipples wondrous." Oh, come on. They. Are. Nipples. They might be a lot of things, but... "wondrous"? Forgive me if I'm somewhat skeptical. Or perhaps I'm just jealous and wish I had wondrous nipples; I didn't realise it was something I was missing out on until now.
Then there's Dorrigo Evans who, despite the flowery language and metaphors floating around, feels like a Gary Stu worthy of some YA books I've read. I just don't buy into his self-deprecation. He's like one of those people who is humble just so he can wait around to be applauded for being humble. Like he fancies himself as a modern Socrates: "I know nothing. Therefore I'm more intelligent than you because I know that I know nothing." Let's all step out of the way and make room for Dorrigo's lack of ego.
The Man Booker Prize is such a huge award that I'm always intrigued by its winners, but I find myself liking them less and less. Whatever they're being judged on is clearly not something I'm looking to read.
Oh well, there are thousands of positive reviews of this book if you want to go see why you should love it.
It's time for that approximately biannual event once again - Stephen King has released a new novel. And it's a good one.
I never know how to approach aIt's time for that approximately biannual event once again - Stephen King has released a new novel. And it's a good one.
I never know how to approach a review for a Stephen King book. I use a different tone when writing about different kind of novels - classics and literary fiction usually get one style of review, fantasy/paranormal and YA (genre fiction, basically) get another. But where does Mr King fit?
The "problem" with Stephen King is that he writes such engrossing, imaginative pageturners that manage to hook you, creep you out and make you think. Every book release jumps to the top of the pop fiction charts. Which, in theory, is great; except that Mr King often gets overlooked as a truly great writer, which he is.
With this latest book, King takes one of the oldest of the old ideas and breathes new life into it. The underlying theme of this book is that timeless question: what lies after death? Is there anything beyond this world? Is there a way for the living to ever find out before their time comes?
Using his familiar talent for creating characters that feel entirely real, King at first introduces us to a small town and religious community in New England. Into this unremarkable place comes a new minister, Charles Jacobs; his arrival sparks a series of events that will change the lives of both our narrator (Jamie Morton) and numerous other unfortunate people for decades to come.
The story spans many years of Jamie's life; from his childhood in New England, to his teenage and young adult years as a musician, and his subsequent heroin addiction. Charles Jacobs will come back into his life many times and propel Jamie towards a ever more disturbing truth.
This book starts as a contemporary drama type book that creates complex characters, looks at themes of religion and family, and builds up an interesting three-dimensional portrait of a small community. But as the novel moves along, it becomes darker and creepier. It took me a while to understand why so many people thought this book was so scary and disturbing... but it was worth waiting for.
Unsettling. That is how I would describe this story. It's not a tale of traditional monsters that hunt you down in the dark; in fact, it plays on the very real fears of everyone. It takes questions everyone has asked themselves and creates something horrifying out of it.
I know this is a heavy claim to make, but I think this might be one of my favourite Stephen King novels....more
“My invisible wounds. I have no answer, no proof I bleed. But I bleed. Sure as I love my mother and you, I bleed.”
Fell of Dark is a strange book. It“My invisible wounds. I have no answer, no proof I bleed. But I bleed. Sure as I love my mother and you, I bleed.”
Fell of Dark is a strange book. It's incredibly well-written, cleverly using language and metaphor to portray two boys' descent into madness. And it is primarily a book that explores the characters and their situations through the use of language - whether it be fragmented sentences, powerful metaphors or single-word paragraphs.
It's one of those books that leave me torn over whether it was right to market it as a YA book. On one hand, I'm thrilled that authors are writing smart, thought-provoking books for teenagers; on the other, I find it hard to imagine most teens having the patience to sit through it. It requires something from the reader - it requires you to think. There's no possibility of cruising through this book and taking it at face value.
It's about two boys - Erik and Thorn - and features lengthy sections from their POVs at ages 14, 16 and 18. Erik, a boy who was abducted as a child shortly after his father died, addresses his narrative to his future wife:
“I remember the first time I thought of you. I was so sick, and I almost died from dehydration and a fever. I thought of you, invented you, I guess, and you bent down over me, and you kissed me, and I got better.”
Thorn is constantly abused - by his parents at home, and by the bullies at school. As well as this, he hears voices in his head, directing his actions; he calls them Sawmen, Guardians, and the Architect. Both perspectives are dark and disturbing, both difficult to read, but both incredibly effective.
I can see why the ratings for Fell of Dark are not so impressive. It's a complex read for the average adult, never mind for teenagers, and I can see why some people also wouldn't like the experimental style of the prose - but, strangely, I really did. For me, this book was haunting and atmospheric. It really demonstrates how an author can use words to create a creepy feeling of encroaching madness.
The most unsettling books about insanity, in my opinion, start with everyday events and thoughts that we all do and have. Then, gradually, they become darker, become something else. It's unsettling because it suggests that none of us are that far away from madness - not far away from the blood that only we can see, not far away from those voices that whisper awful things in our heads. It's a scary thought.
I think this book starts with a wonderful premise. It's a magical realism story - one of my favourite genres - where our world is inhabited by hekamisI think this book starts with a wonderful premise. It's a magical realism story - one of my favourite genres - where our world is inhabited by hekamists. Hekamists essentially grant wishes through spells, but every wish comes with a price; a price both monetary and otherwise. For example, wishing for beauty would cost you some mental capabilities.
I love a "be careful what you wish for" tale, and this is exactly that. It also has a wonderful setting that fits with the now/then format of the novel. It's set near the beach and the "before" takes place in the summer when teenagers are having fun on the sand and everyone's taking a much-needed break. The "after" is set in January - and is there anything more gloomy and depressing than a beach vacation kind of place in the winter? It looked set to be a very atmospheric novel.
Unfortunately, it wasn't. For a start, there were way too many perspectives and central characters. Ari, Win, Markos and Kay get their own chapters, but Diana and Echo are equally central in the plot. All of these people had their own little stories and, instead of tying together in an interesting way, the book just tried to do too much and tell too many people's stories. I found myself unable to care about any of them.
The basic plot follows these teens as they all make wishes and are forced to pay the price. We begin with Ari purchasing a wish to forget her dead boyfriend (Win) and suffering the physical consequences of it, which leads to her having difficulties returning to ballet. Then we learn of other wishes that have been made and are being made as the story moves along.
I think the biggest problem for me was that the characters and their wishes all seemed a bit immature and stupid. And I just can't deal with immature and stupid characters. Alarm bells started ringing in the first chapter when Ari just seems a bit dense. First, she finds $5000 in the back of her closet and instead of wondering who it belongs to or how it got there, she decides it's a sign and uses it to buy a spell. Just like that. Secondly, the hekamist asks her if she's ever bought any spells in the past because it's extremely dangerous to mix them and she lies and says no.
Ari knows she's a ballet dancer and will suffer physical pain if she gets another wish and yet she lies and goes ahead and does it. Stupid. And all of the wishes seem a bit lame and immature, to be honest. Beauty... forgetting a boyfriend... making sure your best friends can never leave you. I think this will seem silly to most people, even young adult readers.
It's just very not interesting. The characters are bland at best and irritating at worst. There's a silly blackmail subplot going on that didn't interest me in the slightest - I think we were supposed to be worried that the secret would come out, but it was hard to care.
“Sometimes I think people take reality for granted.”
I stand by my earlier claim - YA contemporary is where it's at this year. I thought this book wa“Sometimes I think people take reality for granted.”
I stand by my earlier claim - YA contemporary is where it's at this year. I thought this book was excellent. Compelling, addictive, really weird and excellent. It was such an unusual novel; I can personally say I've never read anything quite like it and it's a great book for discussion. Such an unreliable narrator, constantly blurring the lines between reality and hallucination.
Alex suffers from paranoia and schizophrenia. Her world is full of colours, objects, people and noises that may or may not really be there. She cannot trust her own senses, so she takes pictures of the world around her, knowing that any hallucinations will eventually fade and the reality will be left behind in the image. And I just loved the way the story unfolded.
See, years ago, Alex was first diagnosed when she recounted an incident that no one else seemed to think happened that way. Despite being haunted by this strange false memory, she always told herself that it was part of her mental illness and she had to accept that her memory was lying. Only... then she meets Miles and she begins to wonder if everything about that day was in her head, or if maybe there's something more to the story.
It's fascinating. You don't know what's real and what isn't. The exploration of the line between reality and imagination kept me turning pages at a crazy pace to find out the truth. And it's such a charming little read with a cast of diverse and interesting characters. The dialogue is engaging and witty, without feeling strained like John Green's sometimes does.
I think I liked Alex and Miles because they're both kind of unlikable. Hehe. Alex is moody and antisocial; Miles is a total pain in the ass. But the weird relationship between them made me like them and made me care about them both. The story predictably takes the romantic route, but it happens very gradually and feels like a natural progression. Not the slightest whiff of insta-anything.
Very enjoyable and very unique (at least to me). Highly recommended to all fans of YA contemporary.
Disclaimer: The author of this book was a member of my book club in college and never complained when I coerced him into watching bad cop shows and eaDisclaimer: The author of this book was a member of my book club in college and never complained when I coerced him into watching bad cop shows and eating frozen blueberries with me (a testament to his character, if ever there was one). That being said, I promised him my honest opinion with a guarantee that I would rip the book to shreds if I hated it.
Unfortunately, he's actually good. Damn him.
****: The Anatomy of Melancholy is an ambitious debut; both a darkly comic portrayal of modern youth and a disturbingly insightful look at the people who are products of the digital age. It is the kind of novel that can inspire laughter and anxiety with a single sentence and which is simultaneously - through the narrator - horrifying, hilarious and evocative.
Sex, drugs, violence, discontent... our narrator pulls us through his life, which is fuelled by the over-sexualized images and unrealistic expectations created by the digital world. His commentary on life, women and people in general is entirely offensive and chilling - be prepared for an unlikable protagonist. But, especially as more pages fly by, he seems increasingly worthy of our sympathy; an unfortunate victim of the modern world.
The fragmented format of the book, which tells the narrator's frantic life in small scenes that jump quickly from one to the next, works well with the themes. I love stories that give the impression of growth, progression and development by the end, and this is one of those books that starts as a light, profanity-laden look into the mind of a horny young man - hovering somewhere between humour and serious commentary with the frequent nihilistic rants - but gathers depth and meaning as the novel moves along. You feel like you've come a long way by the end.
Addressing the reader in a constant informal conversation, the narrator is at once our pal, someone we don't like, and an echo of parts of ourselves.
Mr Selwyn has written one hell of an intriguing book....more
Like pain, you can use threats to make you stronger. If they hide a serpent in your bed, you must catch it and make it bite the hand of him who leftLike pain, you can use threats to make you stronger. If they hide a serpent in your bed, you must catch it and make it bite the hand of him who left it.
I really should make a habit of reading more historical fiction. I always love the blend of fact and imagination that comes with taking a specific point in history and weaving a brand new tale into it. And yet, I almost always steer clear of it in favour of something with magic and teenagers.
But there *is* something magic about this familiar but completely different world, anyway. The Vanishing Witch is the first book I've read by Maitland but I doubt it will be the last.
After the darkly mysterious prologue, this book first paints us a quiet picture. It's small town life in Lincoln (north of England) during the reign of Richard II (1367-1400). We are introduced to families, to errant husbands, to comely widows and to an atmosphere of fear and suspicion. As I said, the picture starts quiet... but it becomes louder as more layers are peeled away and we get to see what lies underneath.
Despite the title, this is not really a supernatural novel. It does, however, carry a heavy sense of magical foreboding that permeates the entire book. The times in question were laden with fear of the supernatural and suspicion of witchcraft. When people start dying in strange circumstances, accusations of witchcraft rear their ugly head and infect the entire town.
From the very first chapter, there's a gradual and growing sense of dark malevolence creeping in behind the scenes. It increases as the story moves along and more is revealed. I would say it's a very creepy novel that would make a great horror film because of all the mystery and uncertainty. You get the feeling that something much darker and far more terrible is hanging over the story and the characters the whole time.
“Make sure they never forget. You are the Calipha of Khorasan, and you have the ear of a king.” She bent forward and lowered her voice. “And, most im“Make sure they never forget. You are the Calipha of Khorasan, and you have the ear of a king.” She bent forward and lowered her voice. “And, most important, you are a fearsome thing to behold in your own right.”
My original plan was to finish this book tonight and then write up a review tomorrow, but after that ending, I just can't stop thinking about it and I need to get my thoughts down right now. In short: I enjoyed this book very much. Way more than I expected to, to tell the truth. And I guess you should know that, though there are many elements of fantasy and action, it is primarily a romance. And yet...
It completely melted my cold, unromantic heart.
Where should I start? The Wrath and the Dawn was a deliciously angsty, sexy romance inspired by A Thousand and One Nights. If you know me, you know how often I complain about romances - either the guy's a jerk, the girl's annoying or they fall into some crazy instalove that just leaves me bored. Well, I finally found a romance where I just loved the characters, totally obsessed over what would happen, and finished the final page with a pounding heart.
My god, what has this book done to me?
This story is about Khalid, the Caliph of Khorasan, who takes a new bride each night only to have her executed at sunrise. When Shahrzad's friend becomes the Caliph's victim, Shazi volunteers herself with a plan to outwit the evil ruler and exact revenge. In a similar way to Keturah and Lord Death, Shazi extends her date with death by telling Khalid a story and promising only to reveal what happens next if he should let her live another day.
As it turns out, of course, nothing is as it first seems and Khalid is hiding many secrets. The relationship between the two develops from seething hatred (on Shazi's part) to reluctant companions to something much more. I've been craving a romance that feels genuine in its development and actually has me wondering how things will turn out (and, god help me, the jury's still out on that last point). The dialogue between them is addictive and feels natural... and don't you just love stories within stories?
Though I said this book is primarily a romance, there are many other things that need mentioning. There are some beautiful descriptions of the palace, for one thing, and a wonderful cast of secondary characters that all feel important to the story and not just throwaway. Jalal is charming and hilarious, Despina is a source of much-needed female friendship for Shazi, Yasmine is intriguing and bitchy (but kinda in a good way) and Tariq inspired a mixture of love/hate feelings in me.
Sure, it's not a perfect book. I definitely think Shazi didn't try so hard to get her revenge and missed a bunch of opportunities, and I was a little frustrated with how long it took Khalid to trust her with his secret. But, oh well.
If you're partial to a bit of romance, then hear me out. A book which contains lines like the following and manages to make me swoon instead of rolling my eyes must be something kind of special:
“My soul sees its equal in you.”
“What are you doing to me, you plague of a girl?” he whispered. “If I’m a plague, then you should keep your distance, unless you plan on being destroyed.” The weapons still in her grasp, she shoved against his chest. “No.” His hands dropped to her waist. “Destroy me.”
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?
You know what I mean... just sit somewhere in a busy place and watch people bustle past in all their colourful weirdness.Do you like to people watch?
You know what I mean... just sit somewhere in a busy place and watch people bustle past in all their colourful weirdness. It's a habit I've acquired with age. Sometimes I think back to being a teenager and remember how I always wondered if I was strange in some way - I guess a lot of teens wonder that same question: am I normal? I wonder, had I taken the time to people watch back then, if I would have felt so lost and strange. I don't see how I could have. People are all damn weird creatures and they're really not very good at hiding it.
I'm saying this because The Children Act feels like people watching. Some books are easy to sell to other readers because I can promise you dragons and magic, heart-stopping action and romance that will steal your heart straight from your chest. This is not that kind of book. It's not even easy to put into words what this book is about. But it was, for me, nothing short of fascinating.
The main plot follows the life of an aging judge called Fiona whose husband has just announced that he wants to have one last passionate love affair with a younger woman before they can both settle into old age. He seems to believe she will be okay and accept the situation because of his openness and honesty. He is, not surprisingly, wrong.
I guess this book is what people tend to call a "character study" but that sounds so boring, right? Like something you'd be set for a college assignment, leave until the last minute and rush out in a mediocre essay (possibly while drunk). It isn't. Fiona's tale may be a quiet journey through the inner workings of someone's life, job and marriage, but it is also an extremely interesting portrait of a woman who continues to go through the motions of her everyday life while her private life may be falling apart.
Fiona (and the reader) finds herself emotionally pulled inside the case of a boy who is a Jehovah's Witness and wants to be allowed to refuse medical treatment. Because he is a few months shy of eighteen, Fiona must rule whether he should be allowed to refuse the blood transfusion or whether the hospital can ignore his wishes and proceed to save his life.
I don't know how to convince others that this book is interesting. I have to admit that I would not have picked it up without having read the author's previous work. It's such a simplistic, quiet story that is transformed into a powerful tale in McEwan's hands. I have absolutely nothing in common with Fiona, but her thoughts, emotions, doubts and insecurities feel extremely relatable.
There are some authors that create stories which feel very personal and particular, but simultaneously feel completely universal. For me, this was one of those rarities. I am so glad I took a chance on this book and got to immerse myself in Fiona's life.
When you catch your husband screwing a girl half your age, you are permitted to be bitchy, even when talking to adorable nuns on airplanes - nuns whoWhen you catch your husband screwing a girl half your age, you are permitted to be bitchy, even when talking to adorable nuns on airplanes - nuns who buy you vodka, even.
If a mid-life crisis took book form, I believe it would look something like this. Not surprisingly, it's boring, and it's also about people who hate their lives, get drunk and - eventually - find themselves.
Love May Fail is my least favourite Quick book to date. Usually, I love the whimsical (but surprisingly dark) nature of his novels - the totally weird, sad, but lovable characters and the strange situations they find themselves in. Not one of the characters in this book was worth caring about, in my opinion, and the strangeness of the story was irritating, rather than cute.
The book opens with Portia Kane - a trophy wife to her misogynistic pornographer husband - drunk, whilst watching her husband cheating on her with a young woman and planning to burst in and shoot them both. Realizing that this is perhaps not the best idea, she insults his manhood and storms out, leaving him for good. Due to a pre-nup, she is now almost penniless as well as being drunk off her face and in need of a place to go. So she returns home.
Let me take a moment here to talk about how insufferable Portia Kane is. She's a spoiled brat who, though technically poor now, has rich white person syndrome bleeding from her pores. She actually thinks this:
“She’s lucky.” I hate myself for envying this women in Nigeria whose husband drives a cab halfway around the world, saving money to rescue her from whatever hell Nigeria currently offers. It sounds like a fairy tale. She might as well be in an ivory tower. So romantic - beautiful even. Their struggle.
I feel like Portia's unlikable aspects are supposed to be balanced out by our sympathy for her situation. If that was the case, it didn't work for me.
While home, Portia attempts to restore her faith in humanity and goodness by helping out a depressed ex-high school teacher. Enter Nate Vernon and his perspective. Vernon has been ruminating on the subject of suicide ever since an unfortunate incident forced him into early retirement (and more than a touch of alcoholism). He spends his days talking to his dog - Albert Camus. The events of this novel are so subtle and boring that anything could be a spoiler so I'll tag this bit just in case... (view spoiler)[Albert Camus literally leaps through Vernon's open window and dies. An event that causes Vernon to consider whether dogs can commit suicide. Oh my fucking god.(hide spoiler)]
After Vernon's perspective, we get two more. One from Sister Maeve Smith - a nun and Vernon's mother - who writes letters to her son from beyond the grave (that's right, she's dead). And another from Chuck Bass, a guy who has had a crush on Portia for twenty years and sadly isn't the hot guy from Gossip Girl.
In terms of plot, it's simply this: people get very drunk and then "save themselves". Kind of. But really it's just a mishmash of weirdness, quirks, ideas and perspectives. I can't say I enjoyed any of it or really cared about the fate of the characters. It was too bloated and messy, full of many different components that never came together and made a satisfying whole.
If two people could make each other smile and laugh and forget all the pain and darkness in the world for a moment, why should we feel ashamed of it?
If two people could make each other smile and laugh and forget all the pain and darkness in the world for a moment, why should we feel ashamed of it?
A couple years back, I did a "New Adult Experiment" and attempted to find the hidden gems amid a genre full of, um... crap. One of those gems was Raeder's Unteachable - a lyrical, different kind of romance.
Since then, Leah Raeder has released two more books - Black Iris and Cam Girl - and I think it would be a disservice to potential readers and the author if I didn't clear something up. These latter two books, Cam Girl especially, are not like Unteachable. They have Leah's gorgeous writing style, of course, but they are completely different beasts.
Wait, so they're not love stories?
Oh no, they are. But I'm not sure they quite fit in the regular romance section. Cam Girl is about love, and yet it also demands that you face questions that need to be asked - about the nature of gender, gender identity, and sexuality and about their relationship to love. Is it possible for love to transcend sexuality?
Because I follow Leah Raeder online, I felt like I knew a lot about this book before I started it. So I'm not sure if that's the reason I guessed certain outcomes, but either way, it didn't really matter to me. The book managed to be powerful enough just by containing these things; it didn't need to be shocking as well.
If you're really an artist, I thought, you'll find a way to make art however you can, like Bukowski said. With half your body gone. With soot and a cave wall. With your own blood.
Raeder's third book reintroduces us to her trademark style of poetic prose and vivid, colourful imagery. Art and colours are used as metaphors, as well as for mood. The narrator - Vada - is an artist who suffered damage to her drawing arm in an accident. Broke and at rock bottom, she takes a job as a cam girl.
The book offers a graphic depiction of the sex trade. Vada acknowledges the potentially demoralizing nature of live cams, but the sex trade is here a mostly empowering thing - a fact which I'm sure will pave the way for many discussions about it. But, well, that's what Raeder does best: Facilitates discussion on the things we don't often allow ourselves to think about.
It didn't get the full five rating for two reasons: 1) It was hard to maintain focus on the Ryan/Max subplot (though I did like the outcome), maybe because some of these secondary characters were not that interesting to me. And 2) This makes me sound like such a prude, but there was a little too much sex. At some points, it went past sexy and into repetitive.
But I did enjoy it a lot. Leah's writing just pulls me in every time. Some people call her books "dark" and I can completely see why, but I also don't think they are. I think they're like a light in the darkness, showing every horrific, beautiful human truth in a rainbow of colour.
I'm not sure what crazy people shelved this book as "romance". You is romantic in the same way that Lolita is romantic. In other words: an insane, obs I'm not sure what crazy people shelved this book as "romance". You is romantic in the same way that Lolita is romantic. In other words: an insane, obsessive and manipulative romance from the perspective of a charming psychopath.
It's a fucked up tale told from the POV of a stalker who obsesses over and spies on a young woman. He gradually plants himself into her life and seeks a relationship with her, whilst simultaneously hacking her emails and following every little thing she does. If you're looking for a creeptastic story just in time for Halloween then you need look no further.
What is perhaps most unsettling about our narrator is how closely he resembles some of the love interests in YA and NA romance books. Telling his unreliable tale, Joe truly believes that he and Beck are meant to be. His narration is completely insane, horrifying and - at times - beautiful.
He is a fantastically unreliable narrator, made more so by the charm and humour he uses to engage the reader. Like Humbert from Lolita, Joe's intelligence, wit and candor make it easy to sympathize with him, even though we are aware of how twisted he really is.
The novel evades the boundaries of genre; not quite a contemporary, maybe, but also unlike most psychological thrillers, creating something new and complex - quite unlike anything I've ever read before. Being inside Joe's head is a poisonous but admittedly fascinating place to be. Through him, the author examines the games people play with one another and the gentle manipulation that even the most innocent of us are capable of at times:
You also offers an interesting look at stalking in the digital age. Joe is able to commit his crimes through the use of email, Facebook and Twitter; finding out huge amounts of information about Beck without even leaving his house. It made me incredibly aware of how visible we all are these days and had me almost looking over my own shoulder as I was reading it.
A random spur of the moment read that really paid off.
I'm not sure my review of this is really needed. If you're wanting to explore the world of the free Tor short stories, you should just check out karenI'm not sure my review of this is really needed. If you're wanting to explore the world of the free Tor short stories, you should just check out karen's reviews, which is where I find all the good ones. But I can't just leave this review space blank either, the story deserves more than that.
“Mama Alice would say that God never gives us any burdens we can’t carry.” The harpy says, Does she look you in the eye when she says that?
I find it amazing sometimes how I can read a 500-page novel and remain fairly emotionally detached, but some writers are just able to tear my heart open and leave me thinking about their story for hours... with just a few pages of powerful writing.
This story is so raw. The writing has an edgy, gritty, ugly honesty about it that drew me in and had me living inside the narrator's mind. I guess it's some kind of magical realism / dark fantasy if you want to get into genre-specifics but it's also way more than that. It's a portrait of a young girl called Desiree who was born disfigured and sick, a girl who is dying and must take pills every day... but she's not dying - in her own words - "fast enough".
"I’m dying. Just not fast enough. If it were faster, I’d have nothing to worry about. As it is, I’m going to have to figure out what I’m going to do with my life."
If she had a couple of years, she could resign herself to her fate; if she had a full life, she could live it happily. But, instead, she's somewhere in between. Still dying, longing for everything normal people get to have, and having to decide what to do next with her half-life.
Every day, she visits the harpy who lives in an alley near her home; she feeds it garbage and the two form a strange kind of friendship... strange, but possibly the most genuine relationship in Desiree's life. Hell, I feel emotional just trying to write this damn review.
It's a very dark, bleak tale that you probably shouldn't read if you're feeling particularly depressed, but it was an incredibly effective piece of storytelling. I hung on the author's every word.
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.
I'm trying to make it VERY clear what this book is, because I was under the impression that it was another high fantasy, similar to the author's The Girl of Fire and Thorns trilogy. It isn't. It's primarily a fast-paced historical adventure, with a paranormal twist to make things even more interesting.
But whatever, I was hooked from the first chapter. I didn't love Carson's The Girl of Fire and Thorns, but she sure knows how to tug you along for an action-packed ride. And this book is even more compelling. Lee Westfall is an extremely likable, brave and sympathetic character. I was immediately pulled into her story and felt her sadness, her anger, and her frustration following the murder of her parents.
It's a very exciting book that jumps from drama to blood-soaked drama. When Lee suspects that her new guardian is responsible for her parents' deaths, she runs away disguised as a boy. On the trail of her friend - Jefferson - who is headed to California, Lee finds herself thrown from one heap of trouble, to surprising friendships, to yet another heap of trouble.
But being a girl isn't the only secret Lee must keep. She also has the ability to sense the presence of gold. She is drawn to it. Imagine what this power would mean if a person could control Lee. They would be rich beyond their wildest dreams.
I rated down slightly to 3.5 because I think that many of the secondary characters (and there were many) were left underdeveloped. They should have been more complex and nuanced, but the author missed the opportunity to take their characterization further than a basic surface level. I'm hoping this will come later.
But otherwise, this was a very enjoyable read. Lots of action, lots of tension, and a slow-burn romance.
I tried to hold things together, but I could feel pieces of myself crumbling, turning to dust. “It’s not fair. I’m a girl.” My voice came out in a whiI tried to hold things together, but I could feel pieces of myself crumbling, turning to dust. “It’s not fair. I’m a girl.” My voice came out in a whisper.
2015 so far seems to be an excellent year for YA contemporary. I'm always the kind of person who finds myself attracted to books that promise breathtaking fantasy, magic, prophecies and fast-paced action, and yet so many of those books feel like carbon copies of older works lately. Contemporary has been kicking fantasy's ass with powerful and important tales that need to be told. All the Rage and Little Peach are two others that come to mind.
Do you remember the controversy over Caster Semenya at the World Championships in 2009? Gender testing had found she had four times the normal amount of testosterone for a woman and "might be part-man". There were those who demanded that it was unfair to allow a woman with male parts to compete in female races. And there were those who were outraged at the way Caster was humiliated and paraded before the press when she was, in fact, a woman but has Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome (AIS).
Well, this book is about a teenage girl called Kristin who has a full college scholarship, two best friends and a boyfriend who loves her. Until one night she tries to have sex with her boyfriend and something seems to be not quite right. A visit to the doctor reveals that she has AIS, will never get her period or have children, and has testicles inside her body. Having to come to terms with this would be hard enough, but when her secret is leaked to the whole school, she has to deal with all the bullying that follows.
Will her friends still support her? Can her boyfriend still love someone who has male parts? It's hard not to become so caught up in this story and feel sorry for Kristin at every turn. Kids are so ignorant and quick to judge, and Kristin is finding that out at the hardest time of her life.
The author doesn't miss this interesting opportunity to have a discussion about gender, identity and what it truly means to be either male or female. Is there any difference between men and women, beyond the way we treat them? It's an incredibly important book. Both informative and emotional, balanced between educating its readers and drawing them into the personal turmoil of Kristin's life.
There have been a couple of contemporary YA books lately that have made me emotional, but I've managed to hold off on any actual crying right until the end... and then I read the author's note about their reasons for writing this particular story and the tears just start to come. Fantasy might be full of fast-paced nastiness that has your eyes glued to the page but, believe me, real life does too.