If Alanna is Dana Scully (petite, sharp-tongued, redheaded; quick with a weapon, and with a penchant for shadowy corners and impossible quests), Kel iIf Alanna is Dana Scully (petite, sharp-tongued, redheaded; quick with a weapon, and with a penchant for shadowy corners and impossible quests), Kel is a (much less exuberant) Leslie Knope: hardworking, dedicated to civil service, willing to put in the work to make a difference in her community. I'll always love Alanna, but there was something particularly special about this latest comfort-re-read of Kel's story. I'll never be as selfless or stoic as Kel, as willing to stubbornly pursue injustice and stand up for those who can't—but I wish I was. It might be a problem with the novel that Kel has very few character flaws: while Alanna has a temper and Daine is shy and scarred, Kel is hampered only by her gender and the inflexible standards of the men in power. But I don't really care if this is bad writing or poor characterization, because what's important about Kel is that all of her achievements are driven through pure, sweaty, hard work. Alanna had the Goddess's hand on her; Daine had wild magic and a divine lineage. Kel has a powerful moral compass and an indefatigable work ethic and clear-eyed determination toward her goals. Kel has grit.
And I guess this resonated with me because those are the qualities most valuable to me right now, the ones I most wish I could embody: grit. Hard work. Putting in the time. The clench-teethed refusal to accept power imbalance and the mistreatment of those who cannot defend themselves. In another context, it's easy to imagine Kel as a doctor. Protector of the small, carer of the sick.
It's funny how many fierce, bookish women I've met over the years who cop to a childhood fondness for Alanna. We were special, we were strong, we took up our own swords in her likeness (literally, for my best friend Hannah, a collegiate fencing champion). But I wonder if, now, at 27, Kel isn't a better role model. To bring this back to Leslie Knope: in the Parks series finale, Leslie gives a commencement address at the University of Indiana. She tells the class about the virtues of public service, and ends with an exhortation: "Find your team. And get to work." It's a phrase that's echoed around in my head since I heard it, because it seems like the most important thing I can with my life at this point. Kel has a team too: she would not have made it through knighthood, to Scanra, without a solid core of people and animals willing to go to bat (and war) for her. And she did the work: she ran when she could have walked, she fought when she could have looked the other way, she faced her fears when she could have accepted defeat. I want to be more like her, and more like Leslie. Where's my sword?...more
Reading Apocalypse Baby made me want to read this again, but probably it would've been better left as a fond memory. On second read the book was... NoReading Apocalypse Baby made me want to read this again, but probably it would've been better left as a fond memory. On second read the book was... Not as good. Still a fast read, compelling, memorable. But it's poorly written, the dialogue is stiff and awful, and it needs an editor like whoa.
What's perhaps most exasperating is that it purports to be a feminist book but it's really not. Sure, its villains commit horrendous crimes against women, and sure, each section opens with a quote describing the scope of violence against women in Sweden, and sure, Lisbeth Salander tasers her rapist in the armpit and tattoos on him her revenge as he writhes, handcuffed. But being against violence against women (alone) doesn't a feminist make, and if your book both constantly participates in the male gaze in a pretty gross way, and also has an unassailable #notallmen Mary Sue male protagonist, no amount of tiny badass punk ladies kicking ass can overcome that.
Blomkvist, to start: the self-insert Nice Guy hunk. He is irresistible to literally every reasonably attractive woman who crosses his path. He is a stellar journalist and an excellent lover and he is blessed with both diligence and luck. He is unendingly Good in an upstanding moral Boy Scout sort of way. Even Lisbeth Salander trusts him, and she trusts no one.
And YET. And yet. Even as I sort of hate Blomkvist (which is honestly a little difficult because he's written to be so UNhateable) and even as I am annoyed with the book in general, I still love Salander. I feel protective of her. I wish she was treated better and not subjected to being the object of so many male gazes, not least her author's; her physicality (and her sexuality) is constantly being over-described, usually by the men who cross her path. I also wish she had avoided being pulled into the insatiable tractor beam that is apparently Blomkvist's appeal to Women. But mostly I would like to pluck her from this novel and send her on to better things. I wish she could abscond to France, meet up with the Hyena, start a badass detective/muscle agency dedicated to punishing perpetrators of crimes against women, by any means necessary. That's the feminist thriller i'd like to read.
Anyway I'm probably going to re-read the other two books now, so I guess YOU WIN THIS TIME, STIEG LARSSON. (May you rest in peace.)...more
Spirals darker and darker until the weather's changed completely and you're not sure where you are. Recommended if you wish The Girl with the Dragon TSpirals darker and darker until the weather's changed completely and you're not sure where you are. Recommended if you wish The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was only about Lisbeth Salander and not whatshisface whiteman....more
As a Veronica Mars book, this was... not great. As a regular mystery book... also not great! I miss the sparky sassy dialogue that makes Veronica whoAs a Veronica Mars book, this was... not great. As a regular mystery book... also not great! I miss the sparky sassy dialogue that makes Veronica who she is, and I really could do without the "every character you meet is someone from the PAST!" deal. Still, the plot was pretty addictive, and I'll always love spending a little more time with my girl V. ...more
3.5, probably. This book was pitched to me as a thriller; the Gone Girl of its season. But it's not twisty at all, really. Reading it was like tracing3.5, probably. This book was pitched to me as a thriller; the Gone Girl of its season. But it's not twisty at all, really. Reading it was like tracing a connect-the-dots, sliding from one point to another, turning points into curves and angles, until you hold the entire picture between your hands and realize you could see the whole thing the entire time. Discovering each family member's unique pain and the way the secrets fed off each other was painful and satisfying in the way of picking a scab (I cried, of course I cried) but the ending was too clean, too pat. Ng's philosophy seems to be that everyone is trying their best; what this book doesn't recognize (to its fault, I think) is that sometimes that can't be enough....more
3.5, probably. Really lovely at many points, but a little uneven. Also I'm thrilled that there's no sequel/trilogy/whatever because not every book nee3.5, probably. Really lovely at many points, but a little uneven. Also I'm thrilled that there's no sequel/trilogy/whatever because not every book needs one, YA world! But also sort of disappointed because I do want to spend more time with Ash and Kaisa. (Mostly Kaisa! I want to know more about her!)...more
Los Angeles! Lesbians! Mysteries! Movies! This book was obviously designed for me, and was a whole lot better than its boring cover and title suggest.Los Angeles! Lesbians! Mysteries! Movies! This book was obviously designed for me, and was a whole lot better than its boring cover and title suggest. I wanted to crawl right inside its world and live forever: old Hollywood glamour, new Hollywood succulent shopping, cozy Venice apartments, movie sets, college professor parents, VIP access to the Rose Bowl flea market, beat-up hatchbacks driving all over LA, cool pool water, rooftop decks, Chateau Marmont, Silver Lake coffeeshops. A Los Angeles that I don't so much recognize as aspire to.
This is definitely a "five stars because reading this made me very happy." The plotting was maybe a little over-architected; toward the end, there was a conflict that felt like it was there because it was the time in the book for a conflict, not because it grew organically out of the characters' relationships. But it was okay. I still enjoyed so much about the book: Charlotte and Emi's friendship, the progression of Emi figuring out how to get over Morgan as she fell for Ava, seeing Emi's professional mistakes and growth. And, surprisingly, I loved imagining Emi's sets and this independent movie that I actually want to see! I ordinarily hate it when protagonists have ridiculous and gimmicky passions, but Emi as a savant set designer didn't even really bother me here because it actually felt honest. Or maybe I just wanted her to take me thrift shopping all over LA....more
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