Rachel Klein’s The Moth Diaries is a gripping, beautifully-written novel of female adolescence. The unreliable narrator—whose name the reader never leRachel Klein’s The Moth Diaries is a gripping, beautifully-written novel of female adolescence. The unreliable narrator—whose name the reader never learns—is a young woman who grows increasingly obsessed with her friend, Lucy, and new girl Ernessa at their boarding school. The novel draws in the reader from the offset; Klein weaves a masterful web with her debut, until the reader becomes convinced, alongside the narrator, that there is something strange about Ernessa.
The characters of The Moth Diaries are well-written, vibrant girls, though none are exactly strong role-models for readers of young-adult literature. From the mouse-like Beth to the insatiably drug-hungry Charley, the girls spring to life for the reader, offering their own stories, many of which become deeply interwoven with the tales told by the narrator. Life and death shadow every move that the characters make; the balance between sanity and insanity is tenuous for these girls at best; and at the end of the novel, the reader is left sated but curious – and somewhat left to fill in their own interpretations for the events of Klein’s novel.
I would recommend this novel to anyone with even a vague, passing interest in well-written literature: the narrator and entire cast of characters may not always be likeable, but the novel is made twice as enjoyable for their myriad of flaws....more
**spoiler alert** To begin with, the good points: the concept is interesting, and the first half of the novel is well-paced, with generally witty dial**spoiler alert** To begin with, the good points: the concept is interesting, and the first half of the novel is well-paced, with generally witty dialogue and a genuine sense of tension, that grows as you experience, through the protagonist’s eyes, the horror of the situation in which he has found himself. The descriptions of gore are usually solid, even if the narrative can be awkward at times.
Negatively, there’s a lot to say. The aforementioned awkwardness of the narrative usually springs from when the protagonist is trying to understand an unfamiliar concept—and, as a result, beats the reader firmly around the head with it. There are editorial issues, such as sentences which have weak grammar, and the protagonist himself reads as something of a self-insert: he ‘progresses’ (or rather, changes) from something of an idiot to a ‘messiah’, to use the word that has cropped up again and again within the novel. But the change is unbelievable, and incredibly awkward, leaving the reader with a reluctance to accept it at all.
That isn’t the worst of the book, though. The protagonist, once he has found himself outside of his community (where he has a girlfriend whom he appears to love), finds himself in another. There, he is treated, yes, as a ‘messiah’, and has sexual offers from one of the girls. He refuses, but barely – and when he is in yet another community of under-twenties, he is drugged and raped each night for almost a week. Not only does he not take offence to this, but he and the young woman in question end up close friends. Strangely, I wouldn’t think that being raped really brings people together. The young woman’s excuse for this is that she needs to give birth… and that the only other young man who lives there is celibate, therefore ruling him out. The narrator accepts this, with little care for his girlfriend who remains waiting for him.
Overall, this is not a book that I would suggest to anyone, for the negative aspects of it greatly outweigh the positives. I believe that even firm horror fans (I, for one, have read and greatly enjoyed the works of Brian Keene, Richard Laymon and Stephen King, amongst others) will have difficulty looking past the glaring faults of the novel to enjoy it....more
**spoiler alert** This is one of the most awful books I’ve ever read.
The characters are flat and one-dimensional, particularly the main love interest,**spoiler alert** This is one of the most awful books I’ve ever read.
The characters are flat and one-dimensional, particularly the main love interest, Daniel. There is genuine chemistry between the protagonist, Luce, and the ‘bad’ love interest, Cam, but this is tossed aside in favour of the most boring relationship I’ve ever had the misfortune to read. Daniel and Luce’s relationship is based on a love that has, somehow, survived the centuries, with Luce appearing to her ‘beloved’ every seventeen or so years. That Daniel and Cam are fallen angels can be guessed from reading the title and the back-cover description – but it is constantly hammered into the reader’s head, courtesy of the idiotic Luce, who later furiously defends her intelligence in the most unintentionally comic scene I have ever read.
The high-point of this novel was when Luce was in danger—and I found myself rooting for the opposite party. That isn’t supposed to happen: the reader is supposed to love the protagonist, but all I wanted was for the antagonist (who was revealed as such only a page or so before; for the majority of the novel, there is no antagonist whatsoever) to just put an end to my misery and throttle Luce.
Do yourself a favour, and discard this trashy excuse of a novel....more
Kristin Cashore’s Fire is both the sequel and prequel to her debut novel, Graceling: it was written after Graceling, but takes place some thirty yearsKristin Cashore’s Fire is both the sequel and prequel to her debut novel, Graceling: it was written after Graceling, but takes place some thirty years prior to the events within the debut. It can be read regardless of whether the reader has first read Graceling, for there is only one character in common between the two and the world of these two novels is shared again with the reader in such a way as to include those who have not read Graceling, and those who have. For the full experience, of course, Cashore’s debut should be read alongside Fire, but it is truly not necessary to do so to enjoy this novel.
The protagonist of the novel is also the titular character, and she is yet another powerful young woman; but that does not mean she is simply a rehashed version of the protagonist of Graceling. Fire is a character in her own right, a strong role model for girls and women everywhere: she uses her inherent gifts to help and to protect those she loves, without sacrificing her sense of self. She is able to love without being utterly consumed by it, as is the fate for so many (notably female) characters in YA literature, and she is able to make a difference in her world not simply through her appearance, but through her loyalty and kindness to those around her.
Admittedly, a reader who has first read Graceling will be able to spot many of the plot and character twists present in this novel, but that does not make Fire a weak or boring read. It is a powerful and evocative novel, which firmly draws in the reader: one can easily begin reading and look up to find that hours have flown by, passing unnoticed, shadowed by the simplistically beautiful style of Cashore’s writing.
The protagonist—and, indeed, the novel—has messages to impart on the reader, but by far the strongest, and the most important, is this: that one should always seek to take one’s destiny in one’s hands, and to become the person one wants to be. In Fire’s own words; ‘…at every step on this path I create myself. And maybe I’ll always find my own power horrifying, and maybe I can’t ever be what I’d most like to be. But I can stay here, and I can make myself into what I should be.’...more
Kristin Cashore’s debut novel is, quite simply, astounding. It is a far cry from the weak, passive ‘heroines’ that have recently been giving YA literaKristin Cashore’s debut novel is, quite simply, astounding. It is a far cry from the weak, passive ‘heroines’ that have recently been giving YA literature a bad name; the characters of Graceling spring to life, inviting—no, demanding—that the reader join their world, a place filled with vibrancy and life. From the first page to the last, Cashore’s strong writing allows the reader to not only see her fantastical world through her imagination, but through their own: the strongly-defined world of the novel becomes almost as dear and familiar to the reader as something they themselves might have created.
Katsa, the protagonist of Graceling, is not merely a strong role-model for young-adult readers, but for any reader. She is not meek and easily controlled—though the theme of control does have a huge standing within the novel—but rather a young woman who is able to take her own destiny into her hands and mould it, shape it into something better for herself. Her reactions to the situations she finds herself in are believable and provoke empathy in the reader, something which I have been sorely unable to gather for much of the characters in the YA literature currently on the market. She is not, as so many characters seem to currently be, defined solely by her relationships; she loves with reason, and yet, simultaneously, without, for there can truly be no logic in love.
Graceling is largely character-driven, but that does not suggest that there is no plot, or that the plot to be found is below average. Indeed, I found myself unable to put this book down; I as much devoured this novel as simply read it. Perhaps my only complaint with the novel is the speed in which the antagonist is removed, but this is not an issue that truly impacted on my appreciation for, and delight with, the novel as a whole.
As soon as I’d finished reading Cashore’s debut novel, I ordered from my local library the second in this fresh, vibrant new series, entitled Fire. I would recommend both of these novels to anyone who is remotely interested in fantasy or young-adult literature – I would even recommend them to those who are not, in the hopes that these powerful novels would sway their minds. Kristin Cashore’s world is fantastical and yet realistic; the setting may not be our own world, but it is no less moving and believable for it....more
Although this book had a solid start—and definitely had an interesting premise: angel-centric novels are rare, and I’ve never before seen the likes ofAlthough this book had a solid start—and definitely had an interesting premise: angel-centric novels are rare, and I’ve never before seen the likes of the specifics of this series (wherein angels are the creators and masters of vampires)—at around page 65, it took a sharp turn toward the realm of soft-core porn. I was uncertain about continuing, not wanting to read simple porn when I’d been promised urban fantasy, but I kept with it, and was rewarded for such.
The storyline ebbed and flowed, occasionally buried under sex (and tension around it), but that was made up for enough by the strong mythologies created within the novel. The concept of angel dust—no, not the drug—was highly interesting, and executed well, as was the majority of the novel.
Of the broad range of characters, I felt only one of the archangels (Michaela) and the protagonist’s (Elena’s) human friends to be flat and awkward. Elena spends barely any time with her friends, and the time she does spend with them is generally overshadowed by her (rightful) fears and desires in regards to the supernatural world around them. Michaela, on the other hand, is presented as just another petty, shallow and vindictive woman, adhering to the apparent general trend. Michaela’s actions, though, can be somewhat excused: she is not human, and therefore not bound by human social customs and conventions.
One thing that struck me especially was the presentation of the supernatural-imbued world as fact. Although Singh did spend some time going over the details of the world, this could be forgiven due to the need for back-story, and for the fact that the novel is not written in direct first-person, but in the more removed third-person. The mythologies of this series, as previously stated, were strong, and quite gripping; now that I’ve finished the novel, I look eagerly forward to the next in the series, to sate my desire to know what happens next....more