2 1/2 stars. So, I finally tried the much-recommended The Assassin's Curse after all this time. I recently tried Clarke's adult novel - Our Lady of th2 1/2 stars. So, I finally tried the much-recommended The Assassin's Curse after all this time. I recently tried Clarke's adult novel - Our Lady of the Ice - and found it painfully slow, but I wanted to see how her YA book compared.
Firstly, there is no world-building. Occasionally, I can forgive this when the scope of the novel is small. Like Death Sworn, which takes place within a cave. However, this book moves from the seas, through towns, through desert and swamp, back to the seas and to the dark "Isles of the Sky" and I have no idea what's going on in this world at all.
I've learned nothing about the system of magic, nothing about the laws and ruling system, very little about the geography, very little about the pirates and their ways/customs... very little about anybody or anything.
The story begins with Ananna running away from her parents and her life as a pirate to avoid marrying into another pirate clan. This is a very emotionless undertaking - how does Ananna feel about leaving her parents? How does she feel about their desire to marry her off? Because, honestly, she seems unaffected. She simply runs away.
The pirate clan then decide to send an assassin after her. But, in a bizarre twist of fate, Ananna accidentally saves the assassin's life and triggers a curse - one which forces the assassin (Naji) to become Ananna's protector. Neither of them is particularly happy about this, so they set out to break the curse.
I'm starting to realize that I am not fond of journey books. The kind where the major plot points happen at the start and end of the book and the in between is one long-ass journey between the two. I think it also weakened Walk on Earth a Stranger, though it weakened this book more.
The long journey between triggering the curse and getting to the person who can help them find a cure is so slow. Of course, it's peppered with random bits of action, fights and chases, but it all feels like filler to pad out the book. I had to force myself not to skim read.
Also, I think this type of plot structure *might* work better if the characters were more interesting and had more chemistry. Not necessarily romantic chemistry, but at least some spark of something between them, because pretty much the whole book is made up of interactions between Ananna and Naji, and damn, they are so dull together.
Ananna is more likable if you enjoy cardboard cutout "strong heroines", but Naji is just cold and boring. I never felt any emotion for him.
Clearly, Clarke is just not an author for me, but I am glad I finally checked this out for myself. I do wonder if I would have enjoyed this book three years ago when it was first released; back when strong heroines and broody assassins were not quite so overdone and would have been right up my alley. Oh well.
“Why would a girl care to find herself when she’ll never be able to make herself feel as good as a guy can?”
I've said this before, but I'll say it a
“Why would a girl care to find herself when she’ll never be able to make herself feel as good as a guy can?”
I've said this before, but I'll say it again: I like Hoover's writing, I like her concepts for novels that differ from the standard format of NA romance books, I really enjoyed Never Never and I also liked Confess. This book, however, reminded me of all the reasons her stories and characters have annoyed me in the past.
The relationship between writers and the truth is something I find fascinating. I especially like it when authors structure their novel so it's like a book within a book, or a story within a story, and you can't be sure whether you're reading the "truth" or what the writer wants you to believe. November 9 touches upon that concept... barely.
But the reality is it just isn't done very well. From that opening quote that had my jaw dropping in horror at what I was reading to the weird apologies made for bad romance novels. Seriously, this should be called “in defence of shitty romance novels” or “how to write a shitty romance novel” because all the tips are here.
The book tries to make excuses for itself through the use of Ben being a romance writer. Fallon doesn't like instalove (one of my own biggest pet peeves) and yet both her and Ben conclude that they did have a kind of instalove. But, you know, acknowledging something doesn't necessarily make it okay. In this case, it doesn't at all.
Fallon is so annoying and melodramatic. I swear she must cry at least once per chapter. Also, she makes some sweeping, dramatic statements that seem off. Why does she think it would be a normal reaction for Ben/her hypothetical boyfriend to dump her after witnessing her argument with her father? What a drama llama. Just imagine it... your boyfriend sees you having an argument with your dad and he's like "oh wow, that's it, it's over". I wouldn't think that was normal, I'd think "what a jackass".
Ben is another controlling douche wrapped up in a gorgeous "I give you new self-esteem" package.
I shove the dress back at him. “I don’t want to wear that, I want to wear this.” “No,” he says. “I’m paying for dinner, so I get to choose what to stare at while we eat.”
Be still my beating heart, I think I'm in love < /sarcasm>
He also, at one point, interrupts Fallon and puts his hand over her mouth so she can't speak while he delivers this big speech about how beautiful she is and only she cares about her scars. Which, as the book shows, actually isn't true, and also: get your controlling hands off her mouth, douchebag!
So, those are the characters, but there were other things I didn't like. Like the fact that Ben quotes poetry when he sees her naked and they're about to have sex (eww) and he says this cringy line:
“Baby,” he says, his lips forming a smile. “You have already made this the best I’ve ever had, and I’m not even inside you yet.”
And, oh my god, when he finds out she's a virgin:
“Fallon,” he whispers, dragging his lips slowly across mine. “Thank you for this beautiful gift.”
Oh, please. Just let me unsee it. Ugh. Ugh. Ugh.
Then there's the fact that the blurb refers to "the ultimate plot twist" which can really only be one thing. The characters lives are not developed enough that there are multiple possibilities regarding the twist. It was so obvious what it had to be about.
And, finally, the plot/angst wasn't very well-conceived. I honestly didn't buy into their reasons for not being together - it seemed like excuses made to prolong the story. I've experienced what it's like to meet someone new, click with them instantly, and become completely wrapped up in them and your emotions. You generally do whatever you can to be with these rare people; you do not come up with crappy excuses why it won't work.
Fallon and Ben like each other, they’re falling in love with each other, but oh no, they can’t be together. It’s not time. They would just distract one another from their goals. What a load of bullshit.
Also, one last thing. This is a small matter, given all the other criticisms I have, but can we stop using stereotypes for gay men? And can we stop saying that the guy over there can't possibly be gay because he forgot to shave today? It's just stupid. And, let me tell you, my brother is gay and he waits until we're all like "it looks like a bunch of furry caterpillars died on your face" before he shaves. Just sayin'.
4 1/2 stars. This is pretty close to five stars and I might change my mind yet. Just a beautiful, lyrical and magical book, even though there is no li4 1/2 stars. This is pretty close to five stars and I might change my mind yet. Just a beautiful, lyrical and magical book, even though there is no literal magic or fantasy elements.
karen pretty much nailed it when she said this was "classic-feeling". This whimsical historical tale has something timeless and wonderful about it - like all the best children's classics. The characters are so well-drawn and memorable, and the writing sparkles with a certain bittersweetness.
It's about a spunky, intelligent girl called Sophie, who was found floating in a cello case in the English channel as a baby. The man who found her - Charles - decides immediately to do the only natural thing - raise and love this baby girl as if she was his own.
People will easily fall in love with Charles. He is not a conventional parent and the child services certainly don't value his habit of letting a little girl wear trousers (god forbid!). He is quirky, weird and more concerned with raising a happy child, than one who fits into society's expectations. Also this:
“I do, I’m afraid, understand books far more readily than I understand people. Books are so easy to get along with.”
There's something about his attitude and the way he speaks that gives me a Dumbledore vibe.
The setting moves between the rooftops of London and Paris as our charming pair of criminals run from the authorities who wish to take Sophie away. Behind this, though, is the search for Sophie's mother and all they have to lead the way is the cello and it's music.
There is so much love for life, language and adventure in this book. It has you wishing you were the kind of person who could go racing around rooftops at midnight, seeing the whole of a beautiful European city laid out before you.
2 1/2 stars. I absolutely loved Brom's The Child Thief and I've been so excited to get my hands on his other illustrated novels. Dark, twisted fairy t2 1/2 stars. I absolutely loved Brom's The Child Thief and I've been so excited to get my hands on his other illustrated novels. Dark, twisted fairy tales are kinda my thing.
But, though this book is full of gorgeous artwork, I found the story lacking. Especially when compared to his Peter Pan retelling. I liked it enough and it was suitably dark, though there are literally no characters really worth caring about (in my opinion, anyway). Maybe because the principal characters are toys(?)
In something like a dark version of Toy Story, this book is about what happens when Thomas's father brings home an African doll that is possessed by evil spirits. These evil spirits want Thomas's soul and the only ones who can save him are his toys - namely, Jack (aka Jack-in-a-box). It's definitely an adult story and contains both curse words and violence, but it never quite reached the darkness I expected from the author.
The arc of the story, and the characters themselves, were all too simplistic. Despite being 25% of the length of The Child Thief, it dragged in parts. ...more
“The more I write, the more I realize that when you tell a story, you shape the truth. What you leave in, what you leave out, every word and every em
“The more I write, the more I realize that when you tell a story, you shape the truth. What you leave in, what you leave out, every word and every emphasis changes the meaning. Writers create the truth, for better or worse.”
This book really affected me. I don't know that I have ever read a book that manages to be so lighthearted and humourous, and yet so increasingly horrific and infuriating as it moves along.
There are so many things to praise about this book that I don't know where to start. Also, quite ironically for a book called The Truth Commission, I've got to be careful what I tell you. I don't want to give away the dark depths this seemingly-light book is headed towards. But let me just agree with all the reviewers who said this: it will make you mad.
And the thing is, for most of this book, I thought I was already mad. I mean, I thought I knew what people were talking about and yes, it was pissing me off. But, to borrow the old phrase - I hadn't seen anything yet.
The Truth Commission is a novel of exceptional writing, detailed characterization and relationships, feminism and criticism of slut-shaming, family and friendship, truth and lies. It's also about the subtle ways the truth can be distorted to extreme effect, and the truths we wish we could unlearn.
“This is a story about easy truths, hard truths, and those things best left unsaid.”
The narrator is a girl and artist called Normandy Pale and the story revolves around her family and friends. The family aspect mainly concerns her sister - Keira - who is a famous graphic novel artist and has long drained the spotlight from Normandy's efforts.
But it also looks at the impact of her sister's fame on their parents and Normandy herself. Because Keira's stories are more than just stories, they are weaved with elements of truth. Featuring characters who are clearly based on their family members and containing private stories that were meant to stay within the family. But that's the price for having a successful sister/daughter, right?
Alongside this, Normandy and her art school friends establish what they call "The Truth Commission", which is essentially a way of asking fellow students and teachers for their truths. Finding out the reasons behind what they do and who they are, with surprising, insightful and often uplifting consequences. By doing so, the implication is that everyone is a complex human being with their own story. Rights and wrongs, victims and villains, come into question.
“It’s way easier when you have someone to blame. We want a victim and a villain and a simple story and for everyone to play their role.”
Personally, I have always been a fan of books that transcend themes, that do different things and do them all well. I like this kind of multi-layered story better. And The Truth Commission is one of those books. It is a book that made me both snort with laughter and clench my teeth in fury.
3 1/2 stars and a lot of thoughts on this one. Very surprised that this is the conclusion, as the story definitely doesn't feel finished. But I enjoye3 1/2 stars and a lot of thoughts on this one. Very surprised that this is the conclusion, as the story definitely doesn't feel finished. But I enjoyed it a lot, loved the darker side of Ileni, and the non-conventional way the story progressed. Still, I can't quite accept an ending as vague as that......more
“People do it all the time--assume that they "know" what's going on in someone else's head. That's impossible. And to think it's possible is a mistak
“People do it all the time--assume that they "know" what's going on in someone else's head. That's impossible. And to think it's possible is a mistake. A really big mistake. A life-ruining one if you're not careful.”
This is the kind of story I was hoping for when I read This Is Where It Ends - a book that promised to delve into the darkness of school shootings, but never moved past a surface view of mindlessly evil shooter vs. poor victims. Hate List, on the other hand, is dark, psychological, sad and angering.
So many things were running through my head while reading this upsetting novel. One was an Abigail Haas quote: "Wouldn't we all look guilty, if someone searched hard enough?" And another was a memory of something I wrote in my diary when I was about thirteen. Back when I was an angsty, depressed teenager, I wrote the sentence: "some people should really just die."
That came back to me while reading this book. I was angry, I was sad, but did I want to kill anyone? No. Did I have it in me to get a gun and shoot my classmates? It would never even have occurred to me. And that's kind of what this book is about. How we all have dark thoughts now and then. How we all throw away casual sentences like "I could kill her!" but mean nothing by it.
The story, while technically about a school shooting, actually goes far deeper than that. The author chooses to focus not quite on the shooter, not quite on the victims, but on someone in between. Valerie. She was Nick's girlfriend and helped create the "Hate List" - a list of people who had bullied them, humiliated them, judged them. But it was just a harmless list of names, right?
Well, it was until Nick decided to walk into school one morning and pick off the people on that list, one by one, and then kill himself. Now, Valerie's left alive with the blame. Many believe she and Nick planned the shooting, many blame her for creating the list regardless. Her own parents can't look at her. Her group of friends are afraid to be associated with her.
Valerie is a very sympathetic character. It's easy to relate to her, to feel her pain, her guilt, her loneliness and her anger. Everybody hates sometimes, and it is extremely heartbreaking to see her private hatred dragged out for the world to see and to judge. It made me so angry that she was being blamed for writing down the names of those who made her life hell.
And, through her, Nick is not merely an evil boy with a gun. He becomes a human being full of pain and sadness, sick of being kicked into the dirt and treated like shit just for being different. This book breaks down the barriers between victim and villain, between the average teenager and one capable of doing something so horrific.
Whenever school shootings happen, people always look for an answer to those same questions: what makes this kid different from everyone else? Do they have some innate propensity to kill? How am I different? Oh god, am I that different? And I think this book really looks at that, humanizing everyone and offering an understanding of their individual situations and motivations.
It was very powerful and never once stopped making me feel something - sad, angry, frustrated, concerned, and hopeful.