So I really missed the humor in this sequel. Book one was hilarious -- I lol'd THREE TIMES in the first 100 pages -- and there's very little of that hSo I really missed the humor in this sequel. Book one was hilarious -- I lol'd THREE TIMES in the first 100 pages -- and there's very little of that here.
... There's very little of substance happening here at all, tbh. I enjoyed it because I enjoy the characters but the plot was minimal and inconsequential. Sequel syndrome strikes again!
Sooo... I think I am suffering from Maas fatigue. Between this series and ACOTAR, her stories are everywhere... and they are so reminiscent of one anoSooo... I think I am suffering from Maas fatigue. Between this series and ACOTAR, her stories are everywhere... and they are so reminiscent of one another.
That said, I did mostly like this. It's my least favorite since the eponymous novel that launched the series for a couple reasons, however. It's thin on plot, long on running around the world, and is beginning to feel... somewhat overblown. The sheer heteronormativity of this series is also problematic afff ((view spoiler)[Aedion being bi/pan is great but having a tertiary never-before-seen person be the only canonically gay character outside of Emrys and his mate sucks. Manon is also shoved into a ill-fitting hetero relationship -- one that doesn't really work for either character.... (hide spoiler)])
Not my favorite and I think Maas may be scrambling here in the later novels, but this was at least mostly entertaining. ...more
So this was a cracktastic, retconning mess of a book but I read it and loved it despite all the magical macguffins and that it was basically Clichea PSo this was a cracktastic, retconning mess of a book but I read it and loved it despite all the magical macguffins and that it was basically Clichea Pt. 2: Electric Boogaloo....more
In some ways The Tropic of Serpents is a worthy successor to A Natural History of Dragons and in some ways... it's just not.
It's a bit slow, and th3.5
In some ways The Tropic of Serpents is a worthy successor to A Natural History of Dragons and in some ways... it's just not.
It's a bit slow, and there are no dragons for the first 150+ pages. Lady Trent herself remains a pleasure to read and the worldbuilding is top-notch, creative, and diverse. As is the dragon life, which I wish had featured more than the various political angles and traveling to and fro that seem to consist of the majority of the plot.
Pretty good, but just not quiiiite there. I'm still excited for the third book and more time with this world and these characters.
This pains me to say but this is more like a 2.5/2.75 out of 3. I love GCL, but this was just missing something for me. There were some GCL standard aThis pains me to say but this is more like a 2.5/2.75 out of 3. I love GCL, but this was just missing something for me. There were some GCL standard awesomeness, but I found it hard to focus on the plot or engage with the characters this time around....more
This was exceedingly disappointing from the same author who wrote Born of Illusion. A flimsy plot, silly characters, and unnecessary relationship dramThis was exceedingly disappointing from the same author who wrote Born of Illusion. A flimsy plot, silly characters, and unnecessary relationship drama detract from any promise this sequel might have once had. ...more
This is a review for the third and final novel in the series about Twelve Dancing Princesses, but whatRead This Review & More Like It On My Blog!
This is a review for the third and final novel in the series about Twelve Dancing Princesses, but what I say here about Princess of the Silver Woods holds true for all of the books. I so wanted to love these - I had heard great things and excitedly requested this as an ARC, even without reading the first two. Sadly, I was confused, bored, uninvolved from the very start, so I DNF'd 50 pages in. A week or so later, the first two went on sale for ebooks for less than $2 each. I thought I would give it another try - this time with the benefit of reading the series in order. I read the first two... and it wasn't pretty. They aren't the worst books I've ever read, but I am hard-pressed to remember a series as lackluster and unengaging as this was for me.
Each novel tackles a different fairytale, and occasionally Day George would create a new twist or idea that worked well for her books. I liked the spin on Red Riding Hood meets Robin Hood, but it's hard to recall a lot about these novels. What didn't work well, ever, were her characters. Galen, Rose, Poppy, Christian, and here in book three, Petunia and Oliver all come across as wooden and flat for the duration. Their actions are contrived, their dialogue laughable or vague, their magic and abilities too convenient or too unexplained.I wanted to like them, but their trials, tribulations and eventual coupledom were all too expected and very predictable.
Also working against the books is the worldbuilding. Or rather, the lack of any substantial effort to create a real, vibrant setting for these characters to operate upon. The thinly veiled countries that represent a more magical Europe (Breton = Britain, Spania = Spain, Russaka = Russia, so on and so forth) left a lot to be desired in terms of backdrop. It's all too simple and easy across the board - the relationships, the magic, the world itself. I wanted more from Jessica Day George, and what is provided leaves a lot to be desired.At several points in each novel, I would think that these books and characters came across as much more MG than YA in tone and characterization.
This series is too simple and predictable to be memorable. I read all three in a four day span, and I doubt I will remember anything about any of them in a week's time. All in all: third verse, same as the first. Too simple, too easy, too predictable, too short to pack a punch. The magic is too vague, or too silly (the whole knitting aspect just makes me laugh, every time), and once again, none of the characters really stood out as remarkable, or even really three-dimensional. This series is just not for me, though I can see why others are drawn to it and enjoy it. ...more
Unpopular opinion alert: I thought this was a weaker, bloated sequel to The Immortal Rules. Most friends are oohing and aahing and I am over here withUnpopular opinion alert: I thought this was a weaker, bloated sequel to The Immortal Rules. Most friends are oohing and aahing and I am over here with the "meh" sign.
The actual book is going to be 450 pages, and my ARC only has 350 and yet that felt waaaay too long and drawn out. It wasn't horrible, it wasn't great, but it definitely didn't live up to expectations.
This entire review is going to get a lot SPOILERy, so stay away unless that's good with you!
Unfortunately, this is series that never quiiite panned out for me; I liked it but that is the sole extent of the feeling inspired by these books. I hesitated to start my ARC of the first book (for months...), but finally dove in and was mildly surprised by the complex worldbuilding and the original ideas that present amid an otherwise uneven debut. However, after my unexpected experience with The Traitor's Daughter, neither its direct sequel The Ruined City, or this, the trilogy's conclusion, lived up to the sheer awesome potential that a fantasy series based on a magical upheaval and zombie apocalypse could should have been. With the amount of and mix of genres and ideas that The Wanderers has within the four hundred page length, some plotlines/characters are inevitably neglected to the detriment of the overall impression of the novel and series. While I obviously walked away from this genre-blending series much less enthused than I'd hoped to be, I will definitely stay tuned to see what else this author comes up with in the future.
The tension and danger is supposed to be at its utmost level here, having theoretically built up a large confrontation between the Overmind and the humans/arcanists over the last two novels. But... no, not really. I never really felt the suspense build to anything credible, nor was I really impressed with the zombies (aka the "Wanderers" of the title), "plague-wraiths" and all else used to induce fear in the characters themselves. the narrative jumps around from story to story; from Jianna's mad (heroic!) plans to her father/uncle's expedition to the deteriorating city of Virtisi itself, supposedly illustrating the increased antagonism. The idea of the Overmind as an alien opponent is really a good one - the same with the alternating polarity of magic. Unfortunately, the execution of the threat of the Inhabitants/Pockets is somewhat lacking in retrospect (the Pockets, especially seem devoid of threat or malevolence). What Paula Brandon does well, really very well actually, is in the history and worldbuilding behind her medieval-ish Veiled Isles. Faerlonne is a vaguely recognizable as an homage to the Italian city-states of real-world Earth, but is an utterly original, conquered nation with its arcanists, humanoid amphibian slaves called Sishmindri. Each successive novel in the series does a more than considerable job advancing the knowledge about Faerlonne and Taerleez - something I greatly enjoyed.
Both the characters and dialogue are still very rudimentary and repetitive in the third novel. I was more forgiving of these in the first, but the weighted down dialogue, full of exposition, never really goes away and it gets old. While Jianna has grown and changed, it doesn't feel authentic. For example, she now supports the resistance and Faerlonnish freedom from their oppression but the idea of Sishmindri independence is abhorrent to her. Love interest Dr. Falaste Rione is still stereotypically perfect and for that unfortunate reason I can't buy into the romance between the two or in any chemistry between him and the young "maidenlady". The voice of each character can be stilted and wooden - the third person perspective feels appropriate especially when the book focuses in on the city storyline, but it does Jianna and Aureste themselves no favors. I first found Aureste to be a delightfully morally-grey and conflicted character with a murky personal history - over the course of the last two novels his characterization degenerated into a mindless and often oblivious bully. The same is true of the still now-unnecessary Yvenza, the secondary antagonist from The Traitor's Daughter. Since the end of that book she has drifted along in each sequel, serving no real purpose behind transparent plotting and scheming.
Aside from all that bitching above, my main issue with The Wanderers is just how easy and simple the resolution to every single plot line is. Seriously. There's no real struggle for the main characters. The final conflict between the beleaguered arcanists and the Overmind to "cleanse" the Source was utterly underwhelming and rushed - Aureste at least had a battle worthy of a zombie-apocalypse-novel finale, but I was very disappointed in just how lamely it was executed. Jianna and Falaste's ridiculous escape from prison also smacks of deux-ex-machinas or just "terribly convenient." I would've applauded the author if she had carried through, but there are other ways to rescue her doomed lovers than the laughable manner chosen here. For the hundreds and hundreds of pages (415 + 384 + 416 = 1215) accrued to reaching these final pages and epic "once every several generations" conflict, it simply wasn't the impact and fight promised. The only slight exception is Aureste, but from Nalio's easy escape (so everyone's cool with the fact that he was gong to let Jianna be executed when he could've stopped it? Yeah? Okay then...) to Onartino's less than exciting final appearance there was a certain lack of ooomph.
An uneven series that started out strongly and faltered more and more as it approached the end, there's still a lot of originality at play in the Veiled Isles trilogy. The Wanderers, especially, didn't quite manage to live up to my expectations, but Paula Brandon has proven herself to be an inventive new author with creativity to burn. In a genre where a lot of novels go for the same predictable fantasy tropes, Paula Brandon constantly tries for new ideas and angles, and even if they don't quite pan out, it's worth a try to venture into her fertile imagination. ...more
Aaaand another one drowns in the water? one bites the dust. Yet another victim of the dreaded Sequel SyRead This Review & More Like It On My Blog!
Aaaand another one drowns in the water? one bites the dust. Yet another victim of the dreaded Sequel Syndrome, wherein a follow-up to well-loved first novel can't execute or maintain that level previous level of excellence, Deep Betrayal was a miss for me. My last read for the year of 2012, I was rather disappointed with how this anticipated novel turned out. I was a big fan of the eeeeevil mermaids from Lake Superior in the first book Lies Beneath, but that was far from the case with Deep Betrayal. I gave the first one 4 out of 5 stars; I hesitated to award this one even the grudging 2 I finally went with. I had high hopes and expectations for Anne Greenwood Brown's latest, and they came crashing down by page one hundred.
I can't deny that the same elements from the first are present here in the second: evil mermaids with vengeance, an often creepy and remote love interest, Lily's struggles with her parents. What was new was that it was all missing the spark, the fun that was so evident in the previous book. Yes, Calder's sisters are evil and revenge-driven, but damnit, they were so entertaining in Lies Beneath! I had fun reading about them and their plots and plans for vengeance on the hapless humans. For the majority of my two-day read of this book, I was flat-out bored....which was the least-expected reaction I'd have thought. I honestly could've finished this in one day, but I was put off by a lot of what doesn't happens over the course of the novel, I just had to take several breaks and watch Psych instead.
The murder mystery that is supposedly a big part of the novel's main plot takes a backseat to A LOT of angst. Especially for the begining over the novel: Lily's annoying angst over Calder's 31-day alienation from Lily (I'm sorry... you knew him for all of a month before and now you're miserable without him? Shades of Bella Swan don't look good on anyone trying to create a strong, likeable female protagonist). First-person does her no favors, either; every time she brought up Calder, I wished she was a real girl so I could smack some sense into her. The girl is separated from her family (with her father the target of a murderous plot) and who does she whine and miss? That's right, the murderous merman who lied and manipulated her for half the time she'd known him. I can forgive a lot if I like the characters, and while I admit that Lily wasn't my favorite from Lies Beneath, at least I didn't have to read her inner monologue. I missed Calder's self-deprecation and ambiguity. Lily, for me, is exactly what she reads as: a boy-crazy vapid girl.
Deep Betrayal could be summed up best for as easily as this: Lily whines about Calder. Lily whines about her dad. Someone dies mysteriously. Lily whines about her lack of mermaidness. Boy drama. Lily whines about Calder. Rinse, repeat for 330ish pages and voila! You just saved yourself from an exercise in boredom and frustration. These are, or were, interesting characters. The author just needs to do more with them than romantical bullshit to make this a good book. I can only take so from much love-triangles (it's hinted at enough to frustrate), miscommunications and pure angst.
I did give this book two stars for the only reasons that saved it from being a DNF: I honestly didn't know who the murderer was, and consequently, Brown's talent for writing a good mystery. Brown, technically, is a fairly decent author. It's just her characters and plot that I take major issues with. I was intrigued by the origin story revealed for the mermaid species, but as I feared, it was mostly glossed over to focus on Lily's issues with her maybe-boyfriend and her distant father. I had so much hope for this, but now I doubt I'll be continuing the series at all.
Deep Betrayal just wasn't the book for me. A lot of people, like me, loved the first and hopefully will have the same reaction for the sequel The weakness of the heroine and the insipid nature of her narrative were too hard for me to overcome, but at the heart of the book, I could see why/if others would find more fun in the pages. But for me personally, I have to say boredom is a killer when it comes to reading books, and boy did this one slay me. ...more
Sequel Syndrome strikes again! I had been looking forward to reading this direct follow-up to Callihan'Read This Review & More Like It On My Blog!
Sequel Syndrome strikes again! I had been looking forward to reading this direct follow-up to Callihan's engaging and fun first novel, Firelight, for months now. Upon randomly stumbling across and loving the first in the Darkest London series earlier this year, I was eager to see where Callihan would take her version of London run amok with the supernatural. First seeing this up on NetGalley, the anticipation of a good book when I was approved.. all added up to a lot of pressure and excitement on my part...which never really panned out here in Moonglow. A lot of the charm, the fun, the inventiveness that made the first so memorable and easy to read is missing here. I must admit that I really struggled to finish this, through the predictable plotlines, the meandering plot, the boring sections when nothing happens, though my ARC was only 300 pages. I've gone back and forth with my rating for this - from a 1.5 to a 2.75 to a 2.5 and then finally settli9ng a "2". It's not horrible, but it's just not good, either. Other fans of the first and the series don't seem to be nearly as disappointed as I was, but this is going down as my biggest let-down in months. It had so much potential, so much momentum from the first, and Moonglow utterly squanders both.
I hate the disappointment that often comes so easily to a series of books, usually right where Moonglow is in sequence - the volume between the first inception of a series and the finale of it all. The concepts that were so creative in the first book of Darkest London, just don't have the benefit of the originality, and so it falls to the characters and plot to make up for the lack. That never happens here. Never. Instead of the fresh concept of paranormal curses like what plagued Archer, Moonglow is just another romance novel werewolf tale. I wanted to like the two lead protagonists in Daisy Ellis and Ian Ranulf, but I never invested or connected with either person. It, that ineffable quality some characters possess to make you like themeven against your will (see The Hound, Jaime Lannister, etc.), just wasn't there for me. Not for Ian the charismatic, dark anti-hero of Benjamin Archer that I so easily fell under the sway of before. From a villain in the first book to the hero of the second, MacRanulf just fell entirely flat in his presentation, his character and his actions. I also couldn't buy his motivations and change of character from one book to the next. An anti-hero or a man with a dark past is one thing, but the Ian from Firelight was an ass, one I hated, and I therefore couldn't (wouldn't?) buy into his Poor Noble With A Troubled Heart act here in book two. Callihan did her work too well with the first novel with his character for me to see him as sympathetically as she tries so hard to paint him here.
Daisy, his obvious love interest from the first book, had plenty of sass but it felt forced, and disjointed when with her lover. Their tart, acerbic banter could be amusing on occasion, but for the most part, left me cold and disbelieving of their affections for one another. I don't even have a lot to say about Daisy. She was there, she did what she had to move the book along. She's blah, meh, milquetoast to the tip of her blonde head. I missed Miranda's fire, excuse the pun. The third person POV doesn't really do any favors for either lead: perhaps had I read inner monologues and thoughts I would've cared at all more. I certainly liked that Daisy was independent and had a mind of her own, but I just couldn't connect with her. I wanted both her and Ian to mature the hell up and act like adults instead of the "I like him/her so I am going to be as rude, inscrutable, cold and mysterious as possible" act that went on for far too long. This isn't young-adult literature, people. This is a romance novel with supernatural elements: please stop with the teenage melodrama and wishy-washy bullshit.We all know you're going to fall in love and bang - please don't make the read there unbearable. When the romance finally did happen along, proceeding as we all knew it would, I had issues; partially due to their weird interactions leading up to that point, but I wasn't into it. The two complement each other well, sure, but I just didn't care about their love lives, their sex scenes or, above all, their angst over the other. If I don't care about either character independently, why would I care when they're together? Oh right: I don't and I didn't.
The mythology of the weres and the lycans is weak. I can't think of another way to put it. It's not explained nearly enough and seems to be ridiculously arbitrary. (view spoiler)[ Why are female lycans and weres so rare? If they as a species reproduce so infrequently, how come there are so many mentioned? How did the clan come into being? Are all the weres/lycans supposed to be alone their whole lives? Are they homosexual by nature? Then how does the breed survive? Why doesn't the bite of a werewolf turn a human? And if the bite is so weak, how could the disease be passed so easily? (hide spoiler)] See? I have many, many questions upon finishing this...none of which are even close to be answered. All that mess adds up to a very unsatisfactory read, full of holes and problems; showing a novel that doesn't take the time to flesh out its own world and lore. I also have to note that this has a Scottish werewolf pack with members named Maccon, Conall, and a beta named Lyall. That doesn't sound at all familiar to fans of Gail Carriger's delightful Parasol Protectorate series, does it? Noo, not at all. Coincidence, or homage? Either way, it's too close to home for yet another alternate supernatural history of England to name their wolfen members such names.
Too much of the plot here was predictable, when it even cared to make an appearance (which was rarer than the female lycans mentioned in passing.) I called two of the key twists long before they happened, to my immense chagrin. I don't remember the first novel's plot as being this transparent and was surprised at how obvious a lot of the "mystery" was to the reader. A little more authorial sleight-of-hand to camouflage the clues would've gone a long way. Long stretches of boredom permeated my one-day read of the novel; sections filled with the annoying back and forth of the main character, with absolutely no plot advancement. Seriously, for like 75 pages, everyone forgets there is a mad, murderous werewolf on the loose. Other elements just felt stuffed in, randomly, like the GIMs, who don't serve any real purpose til the end... (view spoiler)[ when they really do become deux-ex-machinas, or ghosts in the machine. (hide spoiler)] That whole bit just seemed like lazy writing to me - an easy out to fix a plot point. I expected more from what was there - without the side filler and angst, this would've been a much stronger, more enjoyable read.
I'm torn. I like to finish what I start, but I don't know if I will be continuing the Darkest London series with the third Ellis sister installment: Winterblaze. Kristen Callihan has an easy style, but I was not happy with this latest effort. Much weaker, much less original, much less detailed, and with much more off-putting leads, than Firelight, Moonglow was big swing and a miss. Callihan is 1 for 2 so far, and only time will tell if I give my disappointment time to cool.... and choose to pick up the third....more
My overall enjoyment with this series has severely decreased with each subsequent volume, and Make Me iRead This Review & More Like It On My Blog!
My overall enjoyment with this series has severely decreased with each subsequent volume, and Make Me is no exception. Many of the previously mostly enjoyable characters change drastically for no (or a supremely stupid) reason (Val, Shade, especially, come to mind), the pacing is off (very noticeable and distracting in the first and last segments), the uneven POV shifts from first person to third person omniscient, certain elements feel shoe-horned in and pretty deux-ex-machina-y ((view spoiler)[the Super Succubus thing (hide spoiler)]), and... I was bored. A lot. Initially a charming if somewhat formulaic series about a teenage vampire Slayer, the Demon Underground series has grown bloated and boring. This is one of the novels I've gone back and forth on rating - from a 2 to a 1, finally meeting in the middle at 1.5 stars. There was literally nothing about this fourth foray into Val Shapiro's life that I enjoyed.
I hate not loving books I expect to enjoy. The first three (Bite Me, Try Me, Fang Me) were never the most original or innovative of the young-adult paranormal genre, but they were snarky and often funny, with a strong and decisive protagonist. The reads of the the first three sped be on the strength of Val, her inner monologue and Fang, the talking mind-reading hellhound. Now, that previously strong girl has morphed into a whiny, annoying and often harebrained version of the girl who used to be Val Shapiro. A love triangle and stupid assumptions mar a lot of what good Val does bring to the table; I won't deny I still like reading about can-do girls who can defend themselves, but I wish so much time hadn't been spent on melodrama and boy troubles.
I had issues with the style and presentation of the novel and its plot from the beginning. Ones I don't recall having with the previous three, which either means this seriees is somewhat forgettable (true) or that something has changed, or I've just outgrown these particular books (entirely possible). For one thing, I hate hate hate when authors jump between first and third POVs for character narration. It's weird to be in the head of Val and then in the next chapter, be jerked to distantly viewing Micah and his subplot. It just doesn't work; it causes a problem in my reading and in also how I relate to and invest in the characters involved. I don't care what one the author chooses, but it should be one and it should be used for the entirety of the novel. Sure there are some authors and characters that could pull off the dichotomy, but Val and Parker Blue are not among them.
I'm not even going to go into the myriad other problems I had with this book because I'm underwhelmed, disappointed and frustrated. I'm done. All I can really say is that I won't be reading the inevitable fifth addition to this series. ...more
Read to about 51% and just couldn't force myself to continue. Bland. Predictable. Cliched. Flat. Cheesy. All are equally applicable to the forgettableRead to about 51% and just couldn't force myself to continue. Bland. Predictable. Cliched. Flat. Cheesy. All are equally applicable to the forgettable mess that is Covet. Full DNF review to come....more
A swing and a miss for veteran fantasy author Maria V. Snyder. The first novel, Touch of PRead This Review & More Like It On My Blog!
2.75 out of 5
A swing and a miss for veteran fantasy author Maria V. Snyder. The first novel, Touch of Power, was a great introduction to the newest series by this prolific writer, but much like what happened for me with her Study series, the sequel left a lot to be desired. It took me a while to sort out how I felt about this novel after finishing it, especially deciding on the rating. 3 stars? 2.5? I just split the difference and settled with 2.75/5. What I have decided is that this is a far cry from its action-packed predecessor. All the key elements are here - Avry, Kerrick, their chemistry [for the 30ish pages they're together...], the monkeys, the new spin on magic. Where Scent of Magic fell apart for me was the slower pace, and the complete and utter lack of any actual plot momentum. I was bored for a lot of this read - and for a novel that clocks in at a hefty 416 pages, that's a lot of time to be bored.
I had to sit and think on this, but I seem to see a pattern with Snyder's inability to follow-up awesome first novels. It's a shame, because this series, with these likeable, usually interesting characters, has a lot of potential. I was frustrated with so much of what doesn't happen over the duration of the book. There's a lot of Kerrick missing/worrying about Avry, and her the same about him. EVERY CHAPTER, it must be stated how worried one is about the other - give me a break. It feels like filler, and it doesn't help that in the first 120 pages, nothing important happened. I distinctly remember thinking, "C'mon, Snyder, you're better than this." Another irk for me was the POV shifts from Avry's first-person to Kerrick's third person. They go their separate ways early on, and while I can see why Snyder's used multiple POVs to show the larger story at play, I will never be a fan of such rapid, and vastly different POV styles.
For all the POV headjumping, all the trekking around from one place to another, the endless woods-training and all the hidden identities and secrets and foul play, not much of note happens in Scent of Magic. While the characters can pick up some of the slack, there isn't a whole lot of evolution going on for them, either. It's unfortunate, but it doesn't seem like Avry or Kerrick or anyone else really grew or changed from the version shown of them in the first novel. Avry is well-written and a strong female character in a fantasy world (which are few and far in between), but her trials and tribulations seem small - except in the case of her sister. Kerrick, whom I loved in the first book, was somewhat..... wooden and flat in this. He had moments of brilliance and interest, but I didn't invest in him the same way I had before. Sequel syndrome struck with a vengeance here, for both plot, characters, pace, and momentum. It's a shame, because this series (still) has the potential to be awesome. I'll hold out hope for book three - Taste of Death - but not my breath.
I always want to like Maria V. Snyder's novels, but I can't help but see patterns and similarities the more of them I read. Even characters can read reminiscently of ones from before (like the "monkeys" from this series and Ari and Janco from the Study series, or Valek/Kerrick). Snyder really seems to struggle and end up disappointing with sequels after a promising first novel (see also: the Study series rapid decline from awesome to blah to baaaad). With so much potential and so many plotlines to engage with, it's a shame that Scent of Magic fails to live up to its predecessor and fails to advance the plot in any meaningful way. So - 2 stars for fun, interesting - if stagnant - characters, and .75 for all the mess rest....more
I did it: I finished this loooooong, dry book full of flat characters, endless repetition and tons of oRead This Review & More Like It On My Blog!
I did it: I finished this loooooong, dry book full of flat characters, endless repetition and tons of of the hated "showing not telling" way of expanding the history. Though my experience with round two of this "straynge band of mysfits" was sliiiightly better than with its predecessor The Girl in the Steel Corset, I want to express this loudly and clearly: This series is not a good example of steampunk. Also, why I am just griping: whyyy the random, painful bastardization of "strange band of misfits"? (SPOILER for first in the series) If you've read book one, you know that "Jayne" is not in fact Finley's surname, nor does she go by it at all during this novel... So enough with the strange application of "y"'s. A lot of my issues from the first are present oce again here: Finley herself continued to be a bit of a disappointment and an erratic and brainless main character, continuing my lack of enthusiasm for her, most of the background characters remain flat and one-dimensional, and the villain/twist is telegraphed very early on in the book. This review might get a little long and spoilery, or even a lot, so keep your eyes elsewhere unless that's what you want.
Things I Am Vastly Tired Of Reading About In The Steampunk Chronicles:
Emily's "ropey" hair (what does that even mean? Dreadlocks? Braids?)
any kind of overwrought love triangle (Jasper-Mei-Emily or Jasper-Mei-Wildcat - either/or - no, thank you)
Sam surliness/moodiness (less of an obvious page-to-page problem than in book one, but still not redeemable)
How Finley's drawn to the darker side of life (it's been two books, countless examples [Felix, Jack, fights, Dalton] and something like 800+ pages - we get it already!)
Finley's worries about being worthy for a Duke (I'm pretty sure the boy that can be ~one~ with the Aether doesn't care about society, given that he already lives unsupervised with two young women of not exactly sterling repuation)
Griffin's "I-trust-you-now-I-don't" wishywashy bullshit with Finley + worrying over whether he is exciting enough for the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde-ian girl he loves likes (Have some self-respect, dude.)
Anything involving the word Organites (including Darwin and this books misuse of his theories on evolution)
I think some of the problem with this series is that it wants to be X-Men but with a steampunk background. On the surface it seems to sort-of/maybe fit the mold cast by Charles Xavier and his motley crew: there are a bunch of mutated kids with special abilities like super strength and speed and healing, the ability to talk to machines, dual natures, etc. that all live together in a big mansion, owned by a family with a lot of money. But such a comparison starts to fall apart upon closer inspection - most aspects of this historical steampunk young-adult novel are rather run-of-the-mill and cliched, easy to find in slightly different forms all over the paranormal teen novel market.
Though this takes place merely a fortnight after the events of the first book, a lot of the superficial details have changed, including the cast of characters. At first I was, well, not really excited, but less apprehensive to start this based on the cover. For one - it's not a generic, whitewashed cover. Mei is an important part of the plot - in fact the whole book falls apart without her participation - and I'm really happy that an Asian young woman was selected to show and advertise for ya novel. But there's always a but, and here is no exception. Mei is a new character and her race makes her stand out in this largely English cast, but I'm bothered and disappointed that the author chose to name her "Mei Xing." As in the word "Amazing" - how awkward and shallow of a choice! But that was just the first of many character issues I found here. I also wish there had been more subtlety with her role in the plot (subtlety from the woman who named her main male character/love interest Griffin King? My bad) - while I wasn't sure at first, it's rapidly apparent what's going on. A lot little more authorial sleight of hand would make the unraveling of the plot and characters much more engrossing to read.
Main character Finley has been a problem from me since early on in the first chapter of The Girl in the Steel Corset and sadly, she is no better here in round two. Her previous problem of acting brainlessly and without thought for repercussion shows up early and often but good ol' Fin now drags her friend Emily into her messes. I know that the big 'deal' with Finley is constantly-battling dual nature, but the author's depiction of her lead's Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde-type tendencies is really over the top here. She's supposed to dance on the fence of morality and legality, but considering backhanding another girl for a look? That's extreme and just makes Finley look like a judgmental and unhinged maniac - not a fiercely protective and loving friend, which is I think what the author was trying to impart? I may have missed the finer point of it because Finley was devolving into an autocratic violence machine.
Once again I felt there was a superfluous amount of POVs used here - just like I thought for the first book; Finley's alone would be sufficient if grating on my nerves. So much of the text feels like repetition - even if it's Finley, or Jasper or Griff, they all think along the same lines. I mean, Jasper explains and re-explains his plans to hide a device multiple times. It gets old, quick. It must be said that Jasper's voice is the most identifiable, but that's largely because of his affected and annoying accent. (Also? Being from San Francisco and wearing a ten-gallon hat does not make one a cowboy. OK?) The lack of Jack Dandy is lamentable, but at least the love triangle tension and drama was slightly scaled down as well. The charming but fake Cockney crime lord is one of my few liked characters, even if Griff is slowly climbing his way up in my estimations to give him a run.
In the end, I'd have to say that The Girl in the Clockwork Collar is ultimately just as energy-sapping and time-consuming as its immediate predecessor. It's also just as frustrating to slough through for over 400 pages. It feels amateurish, characters haven't grown or evolved, there's too much focus on fripperies instead of potential awesomeness, and infodumps and love triangles run rampant. There seems to be some love-connection type resolution for Finley and Griff (until she gets back to London and Jack...) as well as the main storyline. With a rushed ending that was over veeery quickly, I can't say I'm sad to say "goodbye!" to this series - for forever - even if there's a book three. ...more
I DID IT. It took me over two weeks, but I did it. After completely loving the first book, Feed, I was surprised at how cold this sequel left me. ShauI DID IT. It took me over two weeks, but I did it. After completely loving the first book, Feed, I was surprised at how cold this sequel left me. Shaun at first seemed like a fun change of pace and narration, but his major 'tude and selfishness wore away at my enthusiasm steadily over the lengthy 530 pages of Deadline.
There were not nearly enough zombies for a novel about a zombie apocalypse/goverment cover-up, Shaun's a self-centered jerk for 90%, and the conspiracy angle seems to have stalled early on. There's a lot of rushing from one place to another, with little revealed and a lot of repetition. I was gung-ho to get the second book - I bought it on Nook 10 minutes after finishing the first - but it will be while before I pick up Blackout. I need to let my disappointment fade away. This had so much potential for awesome, and just utterly failed to achieve any.
(view spoiler)[WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT ENDING. WTF. YOU CAN'T BORE ME FOR 400 OUT OF 520 PAGES AND THEN PULL *THAT* AT THE VERY END. It's cheap, it lessens the impact and nullify's George's sacrifice from the first book. It took a brave, impressive turn - killing a main character, the narrator, even - and just brings her back from the dead with some sketchy pseudo-science. NO. (hide spoiler)]
(view spoiler)[I KNEW THERE WAS SOMETHING OFF ABOUT GEORGE AND SHAUN'S INTERACTIONS FROM BOOK ONE. So I'm not too surprised, but that twist does come off as slightly cheap. (hide spoiler)]...more
Zzzzz. Mmmm. Wha? Sorry? Oh right, I was reading, not sleeping. It's just that this book? Bored me to death. Too simple, too easy, too predictable, toZzzzz. Mmmm. Wha? Sorry? Oh right, I was reading, not sleeping. It's just that this book? Bored me to death. Too simple, too easy, too predictable, too vague for any real tension, nor for any real sense of character to develop for the entire cast. An interesting idea - what happened to the Twelve Dancing Princesses after their curse is ended - but turned out to be a rather blah, and uniformly boring read....more
Well, I'm really sad to say I found the finale to a series that started so originally and strongly to be quite a disappointment. Yelena herself felt oWell, I'm really sad to say I found the finale to a series that started so originally and strongly to be quite a disappointment. Yelena herself felt off to me in a way during Fire Study not seen in the first two books and there was just so so much unnecessary goings-on and fights and betrayals and traveling... it got a bit old round about the 250 page mark. I was actively waiting for the end of this drawn-out escapade to mercifully come something interesting to happen and I got more back-and-forth, more Yelena making harebrained decisions (pushing Valek away, her "plans") and less of what I loved so much from the first novel.
Where were Ari and Janco? Where was Valek, for the last two books? And while we're on that subjecy, what happened to Valek's personality and fire? He went from being just as much of a main character as Yelena to a backup singer in a chorus of dozens. I missed the rounded characters I met in the first book, Poison Study. Largely gone for much of this third and final novel, I missed the power twin's lively additions and dialogue. The personalities introduced in the later books (Cahil, Goel, Tauno, Star) feel much shallower than their earlier, much more interesting predecessors. But seriously: what the hell happened to the charming, devious, rounded personality that Valek had at the beginning of his relationship with the Soulfinder? Poison Study-era Valek was in command, intelligent and not just used as a blue-eyed deadly deux-ex-machina for all so many of Yelena's mishaps/miscalculations. I missed that first Valek, the one who stood toe-to-toe with Yelena instead of hastening to do her bidding; I think I'll pretend these later novels never happened to my cool-eyed Assassin. Through the last two books in this fantasy series, I've learned I like Yelena much better with a company of characters than on her own - she is much more likeable in a cast.
I'm very conflicted over this series. While each novel in this series successively in turn degraded in quality, I still mostly liked what I was reading; I just wanted more depth, more ingenuity like what was shown in the first novel. I've recently read and enjoyed Maria Snyder's latest novel, Touch of Power, but now I find I'm very wary for the following sequels, if they trace the same trajectory as this series.
Working on a slightly more detailed review to be posted tomorrow. ...more