These books are romantic comedies. Romantic fantasies. The girls are all beautiful and quirky, and maybe just a little klutzy, and have adorable dreamThese books are romantic comedies. Romantic fantasies. The girls are all beautiful and quirky, and maybe just a little klutzy, and have adorable dreams. The boys are impossibly handsome and pine deeply for the girls. Everyone lives in amazing houses(/dorms) in dream cities. Everyone is always witty, and all emotions are experienced at maximum volume.
So, I liked them, I think? Even though much of the time I felt like I was hate-reading. This book was my favorite of the three, somehow, if only because the period of Isla's complete stupidity only lasted about 30 pages. And it may have been just because I read the majority of it in a delirious rush late last night, but the ending made me feel some emotions. At... a pretty high volume. ...more
3.5, probably? Anna drove me CRAZY ("Ugh, it sucks to be in boarding school in Paris!! I wish this really hot boy wasn't obviously in love with me! Wh3.5, probably? Anna drove me CRAZY ("Ugh, it sucks to be in boarding school in Paris!! I wish this really hot boy wasn't obviously in love with me! What? All the Parisian men are staring at me because of my extreme beauty? I'm so awkward! I just want to go to the cinema!") but I liked the Paris and the boarding school and the flirting and the charm of it all. And a certain section about many long emails exchanged over holiday break with a boy who is "just a friend, I swear" may have reminded me a teeny bit of my own life..........more
Might write more once I have more Coherent Thoughts! In short—YAYYY. Still maaaybe not as good as Dream Thieves (BUT WHAT IS), and dragged down a tinyMight write more once I have more Coherent Thoughts! In short—YAYYY. Still maaaybe not as good as Dream Thieves (BUT WHAT IS), and dragged down a tiny bit by an "Okay—what now!" ending that is, after all, probably appropriate for book 3 of a quartet. But overall it's of a kind with its series: impossibly imaginative, funny, swoony, epic, heartrending, etc. I think my favorite thing about these books is just how in love with each other all of the boys and Blue are—romantically from some angles, yes, but mostly just mired in an unshakable mutual obsession.
[minor thematic spoilers ahoy:] (view spoiler)[In this one, I also really liked the recurring themes of above and below, hiding and showing, reflecting and revealing. What does a mirror do? Reflect back to us that which we already know, or reveal something that is hidden? (hide spoiler)]
[And my favorite, non-plot-spoiling, quote, which I will hide just in case:] (view spoiler)["Earlier that year, when Blue had first met the boys, there had been a moment when she had been suddenly struck by how she was being drawn into their tangled lives. Now she realized she had never been drawn in. She had been there all along [...] They were not creating a mess. They were just slowly illuminating the shape of it." (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
I'm really disappointed that I hated this book because I SO wanted to like it. At least I read the whole thing? I almost didn't.
I was initially reallI'm really disappointed that I hated this book because I SO wanted to like it. At least I read the whole thing? I almost didn't.
I was initially really excited by the book's description: New England boarding schools, secret societies, intrepid teen investigator... basically a definition of my alley (it's right there in my Goodreads profile!). And the blurbs brimmed with comparisons to The Secret History, Special Topics in Calamity Physics, etc., all books I love a lot (yes, they are all the same, but I love them because they all do the creeping-darkness-at-elite boarding school trope so very well). Now I'm offended that people think Year of the Gadfly is in the same league as these books. Everyone reading this review: Do not read this book, and immediately go read The Basic Eight instead.
Anyway, this book failed (for me), and although I am a terrible critic I tried to figure out why:
Mostly, it was the writing, which was largely Not Good. Just so so many similes, like an enormous bucket full of similes. Like that. Also, if you are going to write a book from three different points of view, each POV should have a distinct voice.
The characters were pretty flat, and I never quite understood what I was supposed to think about each one. I kept waiting to learn more, but then... that was it. Iris was infuriatingly Mary Sue-ish in her journalistic ambitions and also her character has exactly two notes: I want to be a journalist! and My best friend is dead!. And those notes are just hit over and over again with no further depth to be found. There is not even any motivation for wanting to be a journalist -- she just wants a Pulitzer! That's it! (Maybe it's just because I've been watching a lot of Veronica Mars lately, but Iris's exceedingly shitty investigative skills and her really, really boring personality were just the worst to me. Her "investigations" were a major impetus for the book's plot and yet she never even FIGURED ANYTHING OUT.)
The world-building was also disappointing. I think the best of your Secret Histories/Special Topics/Basic Eights succeed because the authors create a really rich, detailed world that can totally engulf the reader to the point where you too believe all the crazy secrets. Daniel Handler, again, is a WIZARD at this. But here, like a good journalist, Miller cites her sources far too often. The flash mobs, the Milgram experiment, even ALIZA F-ING SHVARTS! It all only sounds like someone awkwardly trying to weave flashpoints of relevance into the novel, and it mostly feels like reading your aunt's Facebook updates.
And I'm not even going to get into the plot here, because yaaaaawn. Enough vaguely exciting things happened in the middle that I kept reading, but by the end? Yawn. An inconsistently-drawn character "did it" for ill-explained motivations. The end.
In conclusion: I may have liked this more if I had not been first handed all these comparisons to novels I loved far better. Or maybe not....more