This stunning sequel to The Knife Of Never Letting Go manages to measure up to its predecessor in a way I never thought possible. After reading the fi...moreThis stunning sequel to The Knife Of Never Letting Go manages to measure up to its predecessor in a way I never thought possible. After reading the first book, I felt sure that Ness would be incapable of delivering something equally brilliant. But he did. This is an even more important book than part one, though admittedly not quite as fast-paced. It deals with very grown up issues like feminism, terrorism, war and genocide; another reason why I have to reiterate my point that this trilogy should not be solely aimed at kids. The alternating narrative works well and develops the reader's bond with the character of Viola. For me, it was an even darker novel than the first book with Ness sparing no details on the violence and torture undergone by those suspected of being members of the Answer.
It's a very shocking story and it questions what makes a person 'good' and whether an individual is solely responsible for their actions or if society and social factors can be blamed. Ness openly tackles the possibility of redemption in the most dire cases and he carefully blurs the lines between hero and villain. Is it okay to sacrifice one innocent person for the greater good? How about a thousand? Is terrorism a crime or a fight for freedom? The answers you think you have now may not be so easily applied when reading this book, it has the ability to question all which you've ever believed in.(less)
I'd like to start by saying "woah" and various other exclamations of surprise and wonder. This was a book that completely changed the way I view spy n...more I'd like to start by saying "woah" and various other exclamations of surprise and wonder. This was a book that completely changed the way I view spy novels. My previous prejudice stems from quite an obvious source - Ian Fleming - who never gave me anything much of what I would want to read about or what I even find remotely interesting. Big guns, fast cars, hot girls... surely every teenage boy's wet dream, but not what tends to be my cup of tea.
Fleming, like most writers of spy novels, caters exclusively for the straight male reader. His books were never intended to be read by women because in real life women don't fall back with their legs in the air for every guy in a tux who says "shaken, not stirred". Laughable.
And, yes, there is a point hidden somewhere amidst the waffle... John le Carre is a genius, an inventive and wonderful writer. I effin loved this book... it was gripping, sad and funny! Alec didn't waste his time drinking martinis and shagging his way through the women of Europe, he had emotion and he had personality. Alec Leamas would run rings around James Bond any day and in every way possible.
Written in 1963, it was inevitably entwined with the Cold War and the darkest side of East German Intelligence. There's nothing like fiction with aspects of historical and/or political truth! And I guess what I'm really trying to say is that I simply adored it... and I want more of John le Carre right now. Highly recommended, even to you chick-lit lovers who will automatically think "no thanks", trust me you want to give this one a chance.
I don't know how helpful this review will be because I read most of the book through a film of tears. Which is an embarrassingly melodramatic statemen...more
I don't know how helpful this review will be because I read most of the book through a film of tears. Which is an embarrassingly melodramatic statement to make after this book managed to be so dark and sad without feeling forced or manipulative like my words. But it's true. Some of the tears were laughter, most of them were sadness. I just... I don't know how to review books like this. I want to string together a list of beautiful, funny or sad quotes from the book when what I'm really saying is: "Just read it. Don't take my word for it. Look, it's there. Go love it." Most of the book's strengths can't be talked about without spoilers and one of the main issues targeted in the story is very much needed; there's not nearly enough books out there about it. But I can't tell you what it is.
I'm tempted to say "I wish all books were like this" but that would totally defeat the point of what I'm saying. Because Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock felt so different to everything else out there and that's partly why I loved it so much. Some of Leonard's problems have been explored in other young adult novels, but none of them do it in quite the same way. I especially liked the creative use of letters Leonard wrote to himself from the future (this makes a lot more sense when you read the book, I swear). But, as with Sorta Like a Rock Star, the real strength lies with the vibrant, full-of-life protagonist himself. He takes center stage and captures your attention for the whole book, dragging you into his life until you find it hard to put down the novel and convince yourself he isn't real.
Sorta Like a Rock Star is a darker book than the cover would have you think but it looks a bit like sunshine and rainbows when compared to this. And yet, somehow, Quick manages to make the dark story of Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock work by mixing in some scenes of humour and, ultimately, hope. I can handle dark and depressing stories just fine, but a light at the end of the tunnel to balance out a story where I care so much about the main character is essential. And in this book, I cared so much I couldn't look away from the sad story of Leonard and how he decided his eighteenth birthday would be his last. Taking his grandfather's P-38 pistol in his backpack, he sets out to kill his former best friend and himself. Over the course of the day, we slowly learn the reasons behind Leonard's decision and are forced to sit on the edge of our seats, hoping one of the people in his life breaks the pattern and stops letting him down.
Leonard Peacock has to be one of the loneliest characters I've ever encountered. He's weird. He's confused. Part of him wants to die but most of him just wants to be saved. There's a sad honesty to his voice that makes the story so convincing and that much more effective. I also love books that weave in questions about morality that actually make the reader stop and think for a while. There's plenty of questions being asked here about life, death, parental responsibility, the way we view others and religion. The last of which, in my opinion, gives us some of the funniest moments of the whole novel (though perhaps not if you're particularly devout). There is some mockery of the whole "believe or be damned to hell" aspect of religion but, let's be honest, that is hilarious.
All I can say now is: read this. But be prepared for sadness. There's a sad tone to the novel that goes beyond the "issues" targeted. And I think the reason is Leonard Peacock. Because the author makes you love him from afar and you just want to hug him and solve his problems, knowing that you can't. That's the only reason I can think of to explain why this book was so sad even in the happier bits. And why I was tearing up even when Leonard said "the world would be a better place if they gave medals to great teachers rather than just soldiers." Jesus, I'm going to cry again if I don't stop talking about this book. So, get out of here. Go READ IT.(less)
Now I finally understand why everyone seems to like this book so much more than the first. You see, The Thief is a wonderful little book filled with...more
Now I finally understand why everyone seems to like this book so much more than the first. You see, The Thief is a wonderful little book filled with excellent writing, an interesting protagonist, an exciting fantasy world and a great big twist near the end. The Queen of Attolia had all of this, but it just had more of everything. It was everything I loved about the first book... on steroids.
Every character and every sentence - damn it, every word even! - is important, serves it's own purpose and is never wasted. This is a characteristic in books that is rare but oh so wonderful when you manage to find it.
Being told in 3rd person, unlike book one which was from Eugenides POV, allows the reader to see the bigger picture and to better understand the world that forms the backdrop of this series and the political relationships between Attolia, Eddis and Sounis. But, oddly, at the same time I felt like we also got to know Eugenides far better than in The Thief, and I loved him all the more in this second installment. He's such a perfectly imperfect character, he's flawed, he's brave without being ridiculously self-sacrificing, he's a little devil and yet you can't do anything but be on his side. Whatever happens to him in the next book has suddenly become very important to me.
And it's not just Eugenides... I mean, how easy would it have been for the author to make the Queen of Attolia nothing more than a villain sat on a foreign throne? But that's not the story Megan Whalen Turner is trying to tell. Like I said, Turner doesn't waste characters and her use of 3rd person in this novel lets us readers see the real queen behind that stone mask of cruelty. Of all the qualities I like characters to have, complexity is quite possibly my favourite.
But I think the book was really sold to me when Turner managed to successfully pull off a romance that surprised me, pleased me and just generally worked without being soppy or cheesy. A young adult novel with romance that doesn't make me cringe? Genius. (less)
4 1/2 You know all those young adult books that feature the stereotypical blonde, popular and bitchy high-schooler? And the movies with the same? Usual...more4 1/2 You know all those young adult books that feature the stereotypical blonde, popular and bitchy high-schooler? And the movies with the same? Usually there's a girl-next-door kind of heroine who is supposed to look so much better beside Ms Blonde & Popular? I know you all know what I'm talking about. Well, this is the book that kicks apart and destroys all those old stereotypes and brings to you the story of that popular girl everyone thinks they know but no one really does. There are a whole bunch of secrets hiding behind that pretty face and Anderson expertly uses them to tell a story interwoven with the exploration of sexism, racism, sexuality and mental illness.
I was unsure about my feelings on the first book - Ultraviolet - and my enjoyment was occasionally threatened by the purple prose which was a product of Alison's synesthesia and unusual abilities. However, this book is an entirely different breed of novel. With Tori Beaugrand, no time is wasted waxing poetic about letters and numbers, we get straight into a fast-paced, well-structured action story that never slows for a second. Anderson pulls out twists that this time actually came as a huge surprise and she introduces new sides to her old characters that make them so much more well-rounded.
Tori is so many things all at once and the author even does something entirely new (to me, anyway) with her character here and explores an area I have never seen touched upon in any novel. Tori is the perfect balance of strong and flawed, she manages to be brave but struggles with normal human fears that make her someone the reader can relate to but also cheer on. The author even pauses to look at what it's like to be female in one of the most male-dominated professions of all - engineering. It's amazing how many social issues Anderson incorporates into this novel without making the novel about them or taking anything away from the main plot.
One of the other things I really appreciate in Anderson's novels is that she doesn't concern herself with writing the story the reader wants to happen; she isn't fuelled by a need to find a happy ending or to resolve every character's problems. And I like this. It means that her stories will always be unpredictable because anything could happen, bad stuff happens to the good people and not every relationship will end with hand-holding as they walk off into the sunset. This is an element that can make even the most unrealistic paranormal novel seem somewhat real.
I am deliberately avoiding saying anything about the plot itself because it's very easy to spoil the first book. But I would highly recommend these novels so much to everyone, I'm even willing to say now that it's worth making it through the first book even if you aren't keen just so you can read Quicksilver. My only hope is that this isn't the last we hear from Tori, Alison and Sebastian, the questions opened by these two books are just too delicious to go unanswered.(less)
I see why Nora Roberts wrote under a different name for this mystery series because, even though there is a romantic element, this book is so much mor...more I see why Nora Roberts wrote under a different name for this mystery series because, even though there is a romantic element, this book is so much more than that. If they all follow a similar pattern, then I can also see the In Death series fast becoming a favourite. It was an interesting, disturbing, thought-provoking read with a very sweet and sexy romantic subplot.
There are three key elements that make up this novel and make it the triumph that it is: a psychological murder mystery, a slowly built up and believable relationship, and a futuristic setting. The latter stood out to me first of all. There are a number of reasons why the author may have chosen to do this; perhaps for the freedom to explore criminal possibilities of the future or for the advantage of having a several decade gap in which to invent her own fictional series of happenings such as laws that have changed and technologies that have been developed. But whatever her reason, the result is very effective.
Robb doesn't really pass judgement on this fictional future. She tells us how it is, some things you'll undoubtedly think are better and some worse. The future in Robb's world contains a political battle over numerous moral issues like the right to bear arms in America that has been abolished at the time in question. The author gives all her characters strong voices and opinions while still managing to sit on the fence. This isn't a bad thing at all. What she does by this is gives the reader something to think about and question without steering them in a particular direction through political propaganda. My mind was whirring all over the place during this novel, I ate up and entirely believed in the world Robb had created. She's very cleverly subtle and doesn't stretch her future to some sort of technological extravaganza. No flying cars. No teleporters. If you're a hardcore sci-fi fan you might be disappointed, but I was completely convinced by it all.
As for the murder mystery, well, it was pretty horrifying at parts. In this future, prostitution is legal as long as you obtain a license (you are a 'licensed companion') and the killer is targeting these prostitutes in a series of cold, calculated murders. It is Agent Dallas' job to find out the truth: are the deaths done for personal issues? Political? Both? Or is it some random sociopath who gets a kick out of bloodshed? Guess you'll have to read it to find out! But it's more than that, Agent Dallas has some personal issues from her past that make this case particularly important to her. On that note, I love her as a protagonist. She has a strong character, a sharp tongue and a secret desire for one of the main suspects of the case.
Like I said, this should not be written off as a romance or 'Romantic Suspense', it is simply far more than that. But the relationship between Agent Dallas and Roarke is worth mentioning, it was wonderfully told and his aloof but amusing sexiness was more than a little irresistable.
I'm so excited about this series and can't wait to read more. It so very much deserves the high average rating: read it!(less)
A lot of the time when I'm coming towards the end of a book, I start to think about what I want to say in my goodreads review and with this Night Hunt...more A lot of the time when I'm coming towards the end of a book, I start to think about what I want to say in my goodreads review and with this Night Huntress novel the first word that came to mind was 'rollercoaster'. I then skimmed other reviews and found I was far from the only one.
When I first read the plot description before beginning, I was unsure about the story. Books 1 and 2 had been more sex/relationship focused rather than putting emphasis on the story behind it and though this didn't stop me from enjoying them, I loved book 3 when Frost finally decided to develop a good story as well as detailing Cat and Bones' sex life. The plot is about an ancient vampire (shockingly) who claims to have both spent time with Cat and married her when she was sixteen, but her memory was later erased leaving him a stranger in her mind. Furthermore, this vampire (Gregor) has the ability to appear in people's dreams and steal them away if he can catch them, thereby earning him the nickname: Dreamsnatcher.
My first thought on this was: odd. But, as I said before, it made for one hell of a rollercoaster and a fantastic storyline. Frost did right bringing Gregor into the picture to see how Bones could cope with someone that Cat had been emotionally involved with before, especially seeing as a) He has exes by the thousands, and b) Danny the wimp doesn't count. Actually he didn't cope very well, but my god is he hot when he's jealous (haha, my issues are surfacing).
In my opinion, it was even sadder when he left than when we thought he'd died in the last book; and then when it looked like he was whoring it around the streets of New Orleans, I felt Cat's jealousy right there with her (those issues again). I was worried and upset because Bones is a wonderful character and the thought that the author might taint that had me going: Nooooooooo! Obviously not out loud.
And Frost's writing just gets better and better. Like the hilarious part where Mencheres attempts to speak the 21st century language and comes out with words like 'bugging' and 'yo'. I won't quote it again because I've already spazzed over it in my last review. Hehe.
Now I'm just getting to the point where I'm hoping the novels never stop. As if book 6 doesn't come out til August, though?! Argh.(less)
I'm still reeling from this book. I finished it with that sad, hollow feeling that makes it impossible to read anything else for a while because you'...more I'm still reeling from this book. I finished it with that sad, hollow feeling that makes it impossible to read anything else for a while because you're still living in the book's world and still caught up in the adventures of those characters. And I didn't expect to like this book anywhere near as much as I did. It's a science-fiction book with a romance that is central to the story and we all know howwellthose go. But it's well-written and compelling with a very interesting and seemingly original (to me) take on the concept and science behind time travel. It took me longer than usual to read this book; but sometimes it does take me more time to read books I really loved because I tend to savour them a bit more. I find myself pausing to read sentences again because I liked them so much, or because the emotions I feel are too much to process in one reading.
Some people might be tempted to call this book a dystopia, which is fair enough because it is about a future world gone horribly wrong, but I view books about time travel (especially ones as scientifically detailed as this) to be the more traditional brand of sci-fi. Though, for me, it still carries that key ingredient that I look for in a dystopia, that key ingredient that has had me spending many disappointed hours searching through the dystopian craze for a book that holds it. It's an element I've been addicted to for a very long time. When I was eleven I read Nineteen Eighty-Four and then when I was fourteen I read The Handmaid's Tale - these two readings sparked a thus-far lifelong interest in a future world that, no matter how realistic or unrealistic, is so well-crafted and well-explained that it's impossible to not believe in it. A world that you can see happening because the author shows how we got from here to there. They base it in science and facts and politics to make it seem like a very real possibility and to make you absolutely terrified from start to finish.
This book scared me. Ms Terrill managed to convince me completely that time travel was not only real, but a very real threat to the life we know. Think about it. What could a government do with time travel? What alliances could they break apart before they ever happened? What foreign powers could they destroy before they ever rose up against them? And I know what people will think - there's a time paradox, right? You change the past and then you change the future. But Terrill also offers a very interesting and convincing explanation for that. I've always been a bit of a nerd, but not so much a science nerd until I read the scientific foundations of this story with wide-eyed awe. Maybe it couldn't really work like that. No, probably it couldn't really work like that. But isn't that the definition of good science fiction? To take the impossible or the improbable and convince the reader that it's real?
Let's move onto the characters. They are so multi-layered and complex that they jump off the page. One of the things I loved the most was seeing Em as she is now, Marina as she was then and seeing how one could grow into the other. The growth of her character felt realistic, you could easily see how her experiences had changed her and the book touches upon the question of how much people can really change. How much of our adult selves lurks beneath the surface when we are children? If we do bad things, when did we become a person capable of doing bad things? Was it always there? This is such a fascinating book on so many levels - the science-y world-building aspect, the political aspect and the characters' struggles. But, above all, I adored Finn. And maybe that's why I don't care that the romance played quite a big part in this book, because Finn is fantastic. And funny. And wonderful. And I want a Finn too!
The main questions this book asks are: if you could go back and kill a man who would do terrible things before he had the power to do so, would you? What if that person was one you loved? How easy would it be to look into the eyes of an innocent who couldn't believe they'd ever hurt anyone... and pull the trigger? Is that person even the same as the one they'll become? This book not only scared me, it broke my heart too.
And that ending, oh god, that ending. Perfect bittersweetness. (less)
The lovely Cat Winters joined us over at the blog to talk about the inspiration for this novel and writing about women in 1918: http://thebookgeek.co....moreThe lovely Cat Winters joined us over at the blog to talk about the inspiration for this novel and writing about women in 1918: http://thebookgeek.co.uk/308.php
Wow. I thought this was fantastic - one of the best books I've read in a long while.
When I think of 1918, I think of a world torn apart by war. I think of trenches and Kaiser Willhelm and a general fear that your father, husband, brother and/or son will never make it back to you. When I think of death in 1918, I picture a bleak image of those trenches filled with corpses, surrounded by rats and filth. I did not, however, think of the Spanish influenza that infected 500 million people and killed between 20 and 50 million of those - until now. Now, it's pretty much all I can think about.
In the Shadow of Blackbirds is an incredibly atmospheric novel that captures the fear of fighting an invisible enemy at home while your loved ones fight the foreign threat across the globe. This is not a nice story. Plain wooden boxes become the coffins of the latest victims and they lie piled in the street, waiting to be carried away on the back of trucks. People cover their faces with masks and peer anxiously at those standing next to them, checking for the first signs of illness. Your neighbour who you were speaking to just yesterday might very well be dead today after being hit with a fever during the night. Winters takes you back to this time of fear and dread; and into this world she introduces a fantastic heroine and a supernatural mystery.
Mary Shelley Black (yes, named after the author) is a budding scientist in a man's world - the author manages to subtly weave a few gender equality struggles into the story without letting it overtake the main plot focus ("why can't a girl be smart without it being explained away as a rare supernatural phenomenon?"). Her father has been imprisoned as a traitor for refusing to fight in the war and she has been sent to live with her aunt (a widow who is working in the shipyard while the men are absent). I love how Winters carefully shows the world at this delicate time down to the details of how women's roles began to shift and change - it was an eye-opener for many to witness the fact that women were fully capable of performing the same jobs as men. Mary Shelley's childhood sweetheart - Stephen - is off fighting on the front line and she waits impatiently for his return. In the meantime, she sceptically poses for Stephen's brother, Julius, who claims to be able to photograph spirits.
When the spirit stood next to Mary Shelley in her photograph turns out to be Stephen, her whole world is tipped upside down. And it gets even crazier when he appears to her with a confused message... Mary Shelley is determined to find out just what is so important that Stephen has become trapped between life and death on a mission to deliver the information to her. The author guides Mary Shelley on a journey to meet mediums and hospitalised soldiers, there is not one second of this novel where I didn't fully believe I was in 1918 amid the opium dens and new technology. Very, very atmospheric.
I also loved the rather unique relationship between Mary Shelley and her aunt, the development of it had such a genuine feel. They are two very different women but each are strong in their own ways and they support each other endlessly, even whilst simultaneously driving one another crazy at times. For once, I am very sad that this book is a standalone because I would love to see more from the two of them - they make such a wonderful pair. But I can't complain about anything in this, I honestly don't have a single bad thing to say about it.
You should read this book. I also think this might appeal to those who thought The Diviners was a bit too... flamboyant.(less)
I could not put this book down. I got it on a random whim when I was browsing Amazon and it was one of the best books I have read in a long time. But...moreI could not put this book down. I got it on a random whim when I was browsing Amazon and it was one of the best books I have read in a long time. But it's sad and shocking... you really feel afraid for Kyra and you're just desperately begging her to get away, to escape with Patrick in his library on wheels.
Basically, Kyra is a 13 year old in a place where the leader (called the Prophet) chooses who you marry. It is a very different novel and explores religion and culture and especially the way in which women have very little control in polygamous traditions. Near the beginning of the book we find out that the Prophet has decided that Kyra will become the 7th wife of her 60 year old uncle. But Kyra is not so ready to accept things the way they are, she has already found love in the form of Joshua and cannot stand to think of bearing her uncle's children. Kyra must make a desperate and risky choice which could result in losing everything, even her own life.
This is a frightening, thought-provoking novel that constantly keeps you on the edge of your seat. Rarely have I ever connected with a narrator so much as I did with Kyra, her story will leave you moved and shocked at what you have just read. A masterpiece.(less)
The Painted Veil, first published in 1925, is now considered a classic. That fact - combined with the cover, description and the revi...more This is so good.
The Painted Veil, first published in 1925, is now considered a classic. That fact - combined with the cover, description and the reviews - had me switching into classic-reading mode. That might sound like I've gone a bit mad, but I mean that I approach classics with a different frame of mind and a greater tolerance for slow-moving plots, airy-fairy language and characters I cannot relate that much to. You know what I mean, you cannot expect fast-paced action if you want to appreciate Austen and others like her, violence is toned down in classics, sex is a rarity. This doesn't mean they aren't good, but I always prepare myself for a very different - and perhaps more challenging - kind of read.
As it happens, I need not have bothered.
This book hooked me from the very first page where Kitty is caught in the bedroom with her lover and kept me interested right the way through. From the delving into Kitty's recent past and her mother's insistence that she marry as soon as possible, to Kitty's relationship with an intelligent and shy man who genuinely loves her but she cannot love back, to the middle of a cholera epidemic that challenges Kitty's views on life and love. Her character development is astounding, how she goes from being an annoyingly fickle and selfish young women, to one who sees the world in a new light and gains a certain wisdom that is only achieved through facing and overcoming hardship.
Much about this story reminds me of Gone With the Wind (thankfully, not the length), it's the same idea of an immature and self-centred young woman being unable to appreciate the love of the man by their side until it's too late. They would prefer to fawn over a married man who will never treat them seriously, and yet they are so shocked to discover that their beauty cannot get them everything they want. Both Kitty and Scarlet are extremely spoilt and vain, so used to getting what they want that they are unprepared when life suddenly treats them unkindly. But they do both manage to change and grow stronger as well.
This is a very sad novel. I find it sad how Walter was willing to overlook all Kitty's negatives and the fact that she didn't like him at all just so he could have the chance to love her. I know this wasn't her fault but I find it sad that she didn't love him, he was so sweet and kind and under-appreciated. The ending (well, the bit just before) is also sad, but necessary in order for Kitty to become the person she does so I can't really complain about it.
I think Kitty's state of mind at the end is an important statement about women at this interesting point in history where women have the vote but very few options in life, the way she realises that it is far more beneficial for everyone - both men and women - if girls aren't simply raised to be weak and mindless wives, but open-minded and independent human beings. Overall, this is a very interesting exploration of people and the relationships between men and women - it definitely won't be the last I read by W. Somerset Maugham.(less)
The Things They Carried reads like a confession, which, I suppose, in many ways it is. War is a theme in so many books, be they historical fiction, me...moreThe Things They Carried reads like a confession, which, I suppose, in many ways it is. War is a theme in so many books, be they historical fiction, memoirs, alternate histories... and I've certainly read my fair share of them. But stretching my mind back over the years right now, I struggle to recall one that has affected me quite so much. Perhaps I would put it on equal footing with Drakulic's "S" - a heartbreakng novel about the treatment of women in the female war camps during the Bosnian war. But the main difference between the two is that this one is autobiographical. However, unlike a lot of non-fiction I've read, it is also written beautifully, lyrically and powerfully. Telling the horrors, the friendship, the fear and the shame of the Vietnam war with brutal honesty. This is one read that I may never have found without the 1001 book list and it is one I believe fully deserves its place on the list.
The book is split into what some may call short stories but are really all episodes of the same story. A sad story that encompasses the many different aspects of soldier life during the Vietnam war. But it's also about the befores and the afters. How did a young, blood-quesy liberal, who had taken a stand against the war while at university become a soldier who carried out brutal orders and killed without thinking? There is an awfully bleak sadness to this tale that lingers in the very existence of the novel - the fact that O'Brien still finds himself writing war stories long after the war is over. That there are memories and confessions tied up inside him, begging to be told. Despite the stunning prose and vivid re-imagining of these stories, reading The Things They Carried is a little bit like watching someone break down. The author talks at one point how embarrassing confessions are for the people who have to hear them and yet he admits his stories must be told, anyway.
But this also isn't a difficult book. You might expect it to take some effort but O'Brien knows exactly what he's doing as a writer. It's easy to get caught up in the frightening world he is sharing and realise you've read half the book when you only sat down to read a chapter. The stories seemed to fly by in an array of horrifying colour, I was utterly mesmerised from start to finish. And I want to stress something about that: this is not a gratuitous torturefest. Which is perhaps why this story feels so real and powerful. If O'Brien merely wanted to inflict upon us a book that was like a car crash, he could have painted more gory pictures of disemboweled soldiers but the real battle for O'Brien has always been a psychological one. And the things they really carried weren't the ammunition, the pictures and letters from loved ones, or lucky talismans, it was the fear, the guilt and the tremendous loss of innocence.
When it comes to the Vietnam war, things like blame and pity and accusation are thrown all over the place in a million pointing fingers. One minute it's the evil Vietcong setting booby traps to slice up teenage American boys, the next it's evil American soldiers massacring villages and pouring napalm on screaming children. This book is about neither of those. O'Brien sees both US soldiers and Vietcong as young men thrown into something they didn't understand, both victims of a war that was out of control. If anyone gets the blame, it's the highers ups, the politicians and state leaders, people who sit in an office and order teen boys to go out to fight and die. The citizens who shake their heads at the cowardice of a young man who refuses to fight for his country, even when they have no idea why he's fighting.
A surprisingly powerful book that will stay with me for a long time.(less)
"I smelled blood as soon as I walked into the room..."
And with that line begins one of the most enthralling, bloody, violent and emotional books I've...more "I smelled blood as soon as I walked into the room..."
And with that line begins one of the most enthralling, bloody, violent and emotional books I've read in a long time. For a book that is a combination of two of the most over-saturated young adult genres - dystopian and vampire-centric urban fantasy - this is a story which feels completely original in its execution and is utterly captivating from its grisly opening to its jaw-dropping climax. If, like me, you weren't sure about The Immortal Rules and are maybe hesitant about starting this second installment: have no fear. This sequel is better in every way.
The complex character development in this sequel meant my emotions were dragged all over the place. I worried about the fate of all the main characters and loved the new directions relationships took. The most surprising character in this novel was Jackal - who at first I had to remind myself of by doing a quick scan of the previous book - his character is much more thoroughly explored in this book, he offers some much-needed comic relief in this otherwise very dark story. Let's just say I will definitely remember him from now on.
I also found myself loving and caring about Kanin and Zeke so much more in this than in The Immortal Rules. Their relationships with Allison are each taken to the next level in their own way and there are parts of this novel featuring both of them which are truly heartbreaking. I have to say, Kagawa must be one of very few authors who can successfully write a relationship between a human and a vampire without resorting to misogyny. I'm fast becoming a huge fan of hers.
The story here picks up some months after the end of the last book with Allison following the call of her sire - Kanin - who has been captured and tortured by a psychotic vampire called Sarren. Forming a reluctant partnership with Jackal, Allison sets out to rescue Kanin, unsure if she'll find something that can be saved when she gets there. Along the way, Allison also discovers that the Red Lung virus has mutated and is now a threat to humans and vampires alike. The book is full of twists, turns and surprises. Kagawa isn't afraid to put her characters through several levels of hell and this serves to heighten the tension because you can never be sure whether she'll be evil enough to go there. And she usually is.
The ending left me breathless, teary-eyed and majorly annoyed. Annoyed because I've got so long to wait for the third book. Oh my god. What do I follow a book like this with?(less)
I think, rather than write out a lengthy review of all the reasons why this book is awesome and you should be reading it, I'm going to just list some...more
I think, rather than write out a lengthy review of all the reasons why this book is awesome and you should be reading it, I'm going to just list some questions instead and let your answers guide you into the loving pages of this fantastic steampunk mystery!
Do you like beautiful writing? Do you like it when the writing creates such a vivid atmosphere that you feel as if you've been pulled into a completely different time, place and reality? When the words flow like lyrics to an old favourite song that you'd forgotten about and are just hearing again for the first time in years? The Aguirre team take you to that place hovering somewhere between fantasy, historical fiction and science fiction, that exciting place where steampunk finds its home and into this genre they weave fascinating characters, an intriguing world and a compelling mystery.
Do you like excellent world-building? This world is just so... alive. It's that strange combination of future technology and a Victorian-like setting that sets steampunk apart from everything else. It shouldn't work and yet it works so well. Fantasy/urban fantasy aspects are also interwoven into this tale. The Ferishers (Fae) are no longer what they used to be since the great war between them and humans destroyed their bodies and left them as angry spirits haunting the countryside. Some Fae power remains amongst individuals of this world in the form of small gifts - being able to read emotions from a room or object, being able to tell when someone is lying, etc. But, of course, where there is power, there is the opportunity for it to be abused. Particularly after dark. I'm going to share this quote again: "Night brought a particular madness, as they had quickly learned. All the depravity, mayhem and deviance that hid itself from the day oozed into the streets like runoff from a sewer."
Do you like a twisty mystery with a surprise conclusion? Let's be clear: I'm no Sherlock Holmes. But I do think I've got better at spotting twists coming well in advance and solving mysteries before the detectives do. In this case, however, I didn't predict the outcome and I thoroughly enjoyed the journey to finding out what happened. It all starts when bodies begin to show up - females from major families - each murdered by the same device. It's clear that the murders are linked and there's every possibility that the one responsible will strike again. We then find ourselves in the middle of a mystery that will get us fully acquainted with blood, magic and death before it's over. And I loved every minute of it.
Do you like detailed, well-developed characters? Mikani and Ritsuko are the cherries on top of this perfect ice cream sundae. The depth of development gone into their characters in this first book is astounding, especially when I think of the fact that we've barely scratched the surface and there's much more to come. There's nothing remotely stereotypical or cliche about either of them and they come with their own package of flaws, habits, fears and complications. Ritsuko is the first female detective in her division and she's determined to exceed everyone's expectations in this unfriendly man's world. She is organised, pragmatic and forward-thinking. Mikani, on the other hand, is less rational and completely unable to hold down a steady relationship for an extended length of time and he is far more governed by emotion. The two of them just work so well together, despite their differences - or perhaps because of them - and I love how their relationship is so multi-layered.
Do you like sexual tension? Of course you do! It probably isn't surprising to read that there's something more than friendship between Mikani and Ritsuko but it's subtle and happens gradually. There's not even any sex in this book. Wait! I know you're thinking "why is this a good thing?" but it is. I find myself even more invested in their relationship because I know they have a long way to go. Definitely no instalove here, or insta-anything, which is a huge relief.
Finally, I think this book has the perfect kind of ending. It gives us closure on the mystery and this chapter of the story, whilst also dangling the temptation for more in a few hints at what we can expect to come next. In case I haven't made it clear: I LOVED this book! I'm not sure why you're still here when you could be reading this right now :)(less)
So... I realise this might be quite odd, lol, but me and my sister write songs and she sings them. And we wrote a song that was inspired by this book...moreSo... I realise this might be quite odd, lol, but me and my sister write songs and she sings them. And we wrote a song that was inspired by this book and we just uploaded it to youtube if anyone would like to listen: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=saRGQk... We would appreciate any feedback you can give :)
.................................................................................................. “If aliens ever visit us, I think the outcome would be much as when Christopher Columbus first landed in America, which didn't turn out very well for the Native Americans.” - Stephen Hawking
The 5th Wave is my first read by Rick Yancey but it certainly won't be my last. This book is an example of what I define as really good science fiction. The sci-fi genre has produced books that I have loved and books that I have hated; I love it in theory, but I am sceptical about it because there is a tendency for the genre to be somewhat... distant. And cold. I don't know how well I can explain this, but sci-fi offers so many exciting things: new technology, aliens, intergalactic battles, etc. but I need something more than that. Perhaps a greater connection with the characters in order for me to be sympathetic towards their situation. Or a touch of some other element like humour or romance. While a novel doesn't always have to be deep and complex for me to enjoy it, I think sci-fi needs to go deeper than simply an alien invasion.
And The 5th Wave does that perfectly. Yancey brings in many different characters - each with very distinct personalities - and explores their individual reactions and experiences after the aliens descend on earth. There's Cassie who has lost almost everything but clings to life with the hope of keeping the promise she made to find her brother. There's Ben Parish who is driven by a desire for revenge against those who murdered his sister, and his own guilt because he was unable to stop them. And there's Evan who may or may not be trustworthy. But there is also an incredible cast of secondary characters too. The emotionally-detached Ringer, Cassie's little brother and Cassie's father - there are no wasted characters here.
But I think the one thing above all else that makes this book so amazingly, nail-bitingly awesome is not the excellent action scenes, the well-developed characters or the moral dilemmas they face; no, it is the sense of never knowing who can be trusted. The author conveys this feeling so well that I became just as tense and suspicious of everyone as the characters were. The aliens can take human bodies, they can look, speak and act exactly like humans - how can the human race win in this situation? How can they form alliances when anyone could be the enemy? Cassie says at one point that it is this lack of trust that is the aliens ultimate weapon; it is that uncertainty which creeps into your mind and makes you wonder if the person sleeping next to you is even human.
Every aspect of this story is told incredibly well, from the action to the characters to the touch of romance. Yancey sets the creepy must-keep-looking-over-your-shoulder mood from the start and keeps it going throughout. His story-telling is superb, whether it's the big, fast-paced, life or death scenes, or the small but equally important events that shape how we view characters and relationships. This book is as mesmerizingly clever as it is addictive and unputdownable. I am so excited for the rest of this series.(less)
As we all should know, reading and enjoying a book is largely about interpretation. People are not the...moreNow, this is going to be embarrassing to admit.
As we all should know, reading and enjoying a book is largely about interpretation. People are not the same and we all view things differently, one individual might see a relationship in a book as "passionate" while another could see it as "damaging". When characters make bad decisions, some will view it as stupidity and others will view it as an accurate representation of humanity's imperfections. Not only that, but time often changes the way one person sees things. A teenager does not usually have the same outlook on life and relationships that someone of thirty does, and neither of them have the same outlook as someone of seventy does.
So it's time that I admit, when reading this at thirteen, my younger brain actually romanticised Humbert's depravity and saw the relationship between him and Lolita as some tragic love affair that could never work out for the obvious reasons. It was (surprise, surprise) Tatiana's review that made me wonder if I'd had a screw loose when reading this years ago, her interpretation was so far from what I remembered that I simply had to find time for a re-read. This summer, I did just that. I am going to point my shameful finger of blame at my age when I first read it, I was as fooled by Humbert as the young Lolita was.
Humbert is not a reliable narrator, his declaration that Lolita was responsible for seducing him is repulsive and wrong. Because, in the end, an adult has no excuse for having sex with a child, even if they're walking around half-naked and offering it up - adults have a responsibility not to take advantage of children, and I now realise how this case is no exception. This is not some tragic romantic tale about forbidden love, it is the story of how a grown man repeatedly raped a young girl. The fact that it is so easy to be taken in by him either says something about how brilliant a writer Nabokov is (which he is), or how much society still loves to blame the victim.
I don't know whether to feel better about my original feelings or be horrified that even the description for the audiobook describes the novel as: "a love story almost shocking in its beauty and tenderness." And I also know that I have no right to criticise other people who saw it in such a way, but I would ask you to read it again, to look beyond Humbert's snivelling and self-pity, to see the man who considers murdering a woman so he can be free to have sex with her twelve year old daughter, the man who feels sorry for himself when a pubescent girl doesn't want to have sex with him because she's still hurt from the last time. Is that love? Maybe it was for a thirteen year old looking through Humbert's perverted eyes, but I'm glad I understand it better now.
Nabokov has written a brilliant and disturbing novel, my opinion of it hasn't changed in that respect. I found it surprisingly easy to read and became absorbed quickly - even all those years ago. His portrayal of Humbert's perverted mind is scarily good, perhaps even too good if people can so easily be convinced to side with a paedophile - which is often regarded as the ultimate crime of all, isn't it? Even cold-blooded murderers go after prisoners who've messed with kids. And, as much as I feel ashamed for being so taken in by Humbert, I know that it's not just me who was fooled. Hell, even the GR description proves it. But, believe me, Lolita is a victim and no amount of saddening flashbacks to Humbert's past can change that.
Between the beautiful Edward Cullens and the sexy Salvatore brothers of today's young adult literature, it's easy to see why teenage girls think they'...more Between the beautiful Edward Cullens and the sexy Salvatore brothers of today's young adult literature, it's easy to see why teenage girls think they're doing something wrong when all they get is Rob with the mullet who likes to fart and swear in the classroom. That's what I like so much about this book... it's not a story of beautiful, unrealistic people or the abnormally brave and self-sacrificing. This is the most honest depiction of school, boys and family for a teenager that I have ever read.
The description promised something that I have read a million times over, the good old high school novel about guy troubles with a bit of homelife worries thrown in. But Melina Marchetta takes a simple, exhausted idea and uses her excellent writing and multi-faceted characters to create something unique, entertaining and completely moving. I wouldn't have bothered with this book if it hadn't been for Tatiana's recommendation and I am now extremely glad for it. This is the first Melina Marchetta book I've read and it definitely won't be the last.(less)