I'm not even sure how I feel right now. The premise of this book really grabbed my attention, and even though it was fairly thick, it still looked lik...moreI'm not even sure how I feel right now. The premise of this book really grabbed my attention, and even though it was fairly thick, it still looked like it would be a light and fluffy read, maybe with a bit of heady philosophy on the nature of appearances. In the end, I got most of these things, at least sort of. I'll be honest: I'm so thoroughly ambiguous about this book, that I think I may need to break my review down into list form.
Things I liked about this book: -The core message was really welcome, I would like to see more fantasy books address looks.
-The Pacing was fairly snappy for such a long book, and there was a solid air of mystery about some of the story elements that don't really come into the foreground until later in the story.
-The world was imaginative and believable, for the most part.
-I found myself guessing the "what" the various happenings of the plot, but I found myself consistently surprised with the "how"
Things I did not like about this book: -While I enjoyed the message, I feel that certain plot elements undermined it somewhat. (view spoiler)[ Agatha eventually becomes beautiful, and I can't help but resent this. If someone's honestly and purely good, why do they have to be beautiful as well? Sophie turning ugly wasn't as much of a big deal, since we've seen plenty of femme fatale and other, similar, visually pleasing, but morally questionable women characters in tons of other media; if she had retained her looks, it wouldn't have been anything new. But keeping Agatha ugly would have been a bold move, one I'm sad the author didn't take. (hide spoiler)]
-I'm aware that pacing and filling out characters is a delicate balance; too much of one, and you can lose the other. I would really have been OK if the book had slowed down just a bit more in places, just to give us a better feel for things. Not a whole lot or anything, but some. Our two main characters especially seemed to have some serious, random mood swings that could have used a bit more explanation.
-This needed one more round of editing, since there were occasional sentences I really had to read twice, because their wording was just odd.
Things I'm not sure how I feel about this book: -The ending. I kinda loved it, and I was also kinda really puzzled by it.
This book, while far from perfect, shows that the author has a lot of promise. I'm definitely interested in his next book. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
This is not a high level book, by any means, but for someone such as myself (a child of US public education, with only a smattering of college) it is...moreThis is not a high level book, by any means, but for someone such as myself (a child of US public education, with only a smattering of college) it is a huge eye opener. Many of the sorts of symbols that the author was showing us were things I had noticed, but had told myself I was "reading too much into things". While I did pick up quite a few new ideas to stick in my critical tool kit, a lot of the value of this book was in the fact that it gave me a bit more confidence in my own analyses. Seeing a professor make some of the same kinds of leaps that I generally do made me feel like much less of a weirdo, at any rate.
I didn't review the book previous to this one in the series, at least not at the time of this writing. I had my reasons. Mostly, I was busy, but I was...moreI didn't review the book previous to this one in the series, at least not at the time of this writing. I had my reasons. Mostly, I was busy, but I was also kinda dissatisfied with the previous book. However, I didn't want to jump the gun, so I decided to wait, and let Mr. Goodkind get his mojo up and running. He's starting a whole new arc after all, and this takes some time and patience to set up. I wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt. But, when I got to the end of this one, I just couldn't keep quiet any more. I don't think his mojo is going to manage anything more than a somewhat focused amble, nevermind a run.
There's a lot missing from this, and I'm not sure where to even start. If I had to guess what the main problem is, it would be that there just isn't any story left. Richard and Kahlan are completely actualized humans according to Goodkind's philosophy, so there's no room for them to grow, which makes them kinda static and boring. They've already faced the worst of the worst, so another dire threat to the world of life is just another Tuesday evening to them. The only way this series can be saved at this point, is to take it in a whole other direction, put the characters in situations wholly unlike anything they've faced before. The author doesn't do this. It's another terrible monster who is out to take over the world because of his philosophical beliefs.
I wanted to see the characters covering new ground, dealing with something new. I wanted a monster that was more ambiguous, one that Richard wasn't going to just hit with a sword. I would be pretty happy to take literally anything else at this point: Richard raising kids, Richard dealing with diplomatic catastrophes (the previous books dipped its toe into this, but quickly set it aside) Richard having a freaking midlife crisis, something. Once again, I find myself wanting Goodkind to tackle some of the more substantial arguments to his philosophy, anything but another "find the bad guy and kill him because he's wrong" arc.
Okay, this book's main philosophical point is about prophecy. Terry thinks prophecy is bad, and I get his argument, but he kinda undermines himself in that he has created a world where prophecy is a real thing that actually predicts stuff. I can understand the idea of dismissing prophecy because it's a bunch of BS, and that makes an interesting real world correlation, but in a world where prophecy is a viable tool, why is it so bad? I understand that it's complex, and that it's easy to misinterpret and misuse, but so is magic and he seems to be fine with people using that. The only real objection I can seem to have to the villain's actions is their methods. Despite that, Richard has elected to throw the baby out with the bathwater, and has resolved to end all prophecy.
It's like, if some guys made a bakery but instead of selling their baked goods, they just threw them at passersby, getting everyone messy and maybe some people slip and fall on the sidewalk and the city council reacted by banning all pastry. That's stupid. Danishes are freaking delicious and make people happy. I shouldn't write reviews while I'm hungry, but that's beside the point. Prophecy, in Goodkind's world is even BETTER than muffins. It allows people to avoid terrible catastrophes and stuff, which as far as I am aware, desserts have never done. I mean, shoot, Richard is himself using prophecy to know that he has to end prophecy. What the actual hell? How does that work? Basically what I'm saying is that this plot kinda makes no sense.
Also, the writing leaves a lot to be desired. It wasn't as prevalent in the first book of this new arc, but this one feels really padded. I want to have a serious talk with whoever edited this, they should have done a lot more to cut the redundant sentences and the paragraphs explaining stuff that happened 50 pages ago. I guess this kind of thing is really great for people who take three months to read a book, but for those of us who only take a few days, it's intensely annoying and distracting. At least we didn't see too many of those pages long flashbacks to events from previous books, because I just skim those nowadays, which is also annoying. I didn't get a book so that I could NOT read it, you know?
There are a few interesting things, here. I'm eager for the writer to get back to Regula, as that has a lot of potential to make a serious point about... something. I'm not sure what, but there are some serious possibilities there. I'm also really interested to see what Nathan has to say about all of this "ending prophecy" stuff as well. I hope it's actually amusing, and not "oh, well if you say prophecy is bad, well then you must be right, Richard", because that will anger me. (less)
I didn't find this to be a bad book by any means, but I don't think it quite hit the mark for me.
The biggest problem I had was the first half of the...moreI didn't find this to be a bad book by any means, but I don't think it quite hit the mark for me.
The biggest problem I had was the first half of the book. In this section the author talks about getting down to work and making every day habits and such. I'm not saying this isn't good advice, it's just that I've heard it before. I know. I was hoping for something a bit different.
The second half is, in my opinion, much better. Even though I had a knee jerk negative reaction to the author's appeals to god, once he made it clear that he wasn't referencing any specific god, but rather the concept of a higher power, I was much more comfortable with it. In addition, his idea of art as sacrament, while not new to me, was genuinely inspiring.
In all, I found the book a bit too brief, or rather, too abrupt. Many of these concepts could have used a bit more fleshing out. I definitely enjoyed the author's personal stories, and more of those would have been welcome.
For anyone who's not a straight up atheist, there might be something of value for you in this book. However, if you read it and it's not what you're looking for, be consoled with the fact that it's pretty short, and you didn't waste much time. (less)
I honestly have no idea what the heck I just read.
If it weren't for a couple of passages of genuinely lovely prose, I would be willing to write this...moreI honestly have no idea what the heck I just read.
If it weren't for a couple of passages of genuinely lovely prose, I would be willing to write this author off as nothing more than a pretentious ass, who is worshiped by pretentious asses everywhere to maintain their 'pretentious ass' cred. But, every here and there, there was a paragraph, or even just a line that was actually really evocative and beautiful. Something about this pacing was off for me, I felt like the book was moving in fits and starts and it really bugged me. This made it really hard to suss out what the story was about, which is a pity, because I feel like underneath all the weird narrative tricksiness, it was probably really good. However, I kept getting this feeling like I was having a giant brick of random words dropped on my head.
I've been sitting here debating with myself, asking if maybe I'm much stupider than I thought I was, or if this book is a bunch of BS. I've come to the conclusion that it's likely that neither of those things is the case, it's simply that Pynchon isn't really my cup of tea. I like a good mindscrew, and I enjoy lots of odd narrative structures and other author mischief but something about the execution of this just didn't do it for me. I gave it three stars mostly for those couple of lovely passages I talked about, and partly as a conciliatory gesture towards Mr. Pynchon, who I'm sure is a great guy. I'm sorry, Thomas. It's not you, it's me. Really. (less)
I remembered being totally enchanted by the Cartoon version of this as a child, and always meant to pick up the book. However, after trying to check i...moreI remembered being totally enchanted by the Cartoon version of this as a child, and always meant to pick up the book. However, after trying to check it out of the library a handful of times and never seeming to catch it when it was checked in, I forgot about it for a long time. Recently, I found myself in a bookstore with about three hours to kill, so I hunted up a copy, and read it, snuggled in their cushy leather chairs while a thunderstorm raged outside.
As an adult, I found this a short, sweet little diversion; well-paced, and starring characters with a surprising amount of depth, despite it's brevity. I was expecting a bit more depth to the story than the cartoon had given me, and ended up finding the book a bit too insubstantial for my tastes, but hey, for a kid's book, it's pretty good. (less)
I always mean to read more of Gaiman's stuff, but... it just wrecks me, every single time. I read it, and then all I'm g...moreI... I just... I can't even...
I always mean to read more of Gaiman's stuff, but... it just wrecks me, every single time. I read it, and then all I'm good for for the rest of the day is drinking tea and staring off into space, thoughtfully. Not in a bad way mind you, in an intensely pleasant, yearning 'so wistful and pure that I can't even deal with it' kind of way. This book struck a nerve, and I can't even say why, but it's probably the best thing I've read in the last, oh, five years.
I seriously can't think of a single thing I can say that wouldn't be a disservice. Read this. That is all. (less)
I found the first book in this series mildly amusing; there were some interesting ideas there, and I had hoped t...moreEhhhh... I dunno about all this, now.
I found the first book in this series mildly amusing; there were some interesting ideas there, and I had hoped that as the series rolled on I was going to see some growth. Why do I do this to myself? Silly me, I keep forgetting that that almost NEVER happens.
Okay, I promise I haven't read any further than this book, but I'm calling it now: Jace isn't going to stay Clary's brother for long. The author is going to find some way to reverse this, either we'll learn that he really was Wayland's son, or we'll find out Clary is some kind of changeling or something. I give it til the end of the next book, or the one after that, tops. I hate that style of conflict resolution. The characters angst and angst and angst, and then they find out that what they were angsting about wasn't really actually a problem, and everything is magically fine now. It's lazy, it's anticlimactic, and it wastes my time.
Yes, I'm aware that I'm speculating and that I'm mostly being pissed off at my own ideas of what's going to happen. Hell, I'll apologize if I'm wrong. But if this goes where I think it's going, I'm not going to be happy at all.
Aside from my own projections, this book was a mixed bag. I didn't feel like it really introduced much that was new, just took what was going on in the previous book and stretched it out more. Yeah, the stakes were upped a bit, but, meh. Vampire Simon was also meh. I liked it when he was a mundane, it made him an approachable character, someone I could identify with, someone still rooted in the real world. I was sort of expecting him to be the Xander; good guy, not super powered, but still a vital part of the group. Instead, now everyone has to be extraordinary. It feels less special, somehow, when everyone in the story is some kind of magical creature. "Super" quickly becomes normal, and then we start getting the DBZ style escalation: "Well, I'm more super than you, I'm Super Saiyan 2!" "Oh Yeah? Well, watch me go Super Saiyan 3!!" and then everything loses all scope and meaning.
Maia is awwright, I could really get to like her character, but I have the feeling she's gonna get killed, so I'm not getting attached. Isabelle was hardly there, which made me sad, since she pisses Clary off in highly entertaining ways. I must say though, My favorite right now is Magnus,. He needs a whole book just about him. I would love a spin off him he and Alec, since they kind of get wallpapered over a lot. Much of their romance seems to happen off screen, and I must say I'm tres intrigued about what they do on dates together, since I kind of get the attraction, but I also kind of don't. Like, how do they reconcile the age difference? What's Alec's personality when he's not all flustered? I can't even imagine.
While I was kinda on the fence about this in the last book, I have made up my mind now; I cannot stand Jace. Like, his whole schtick was cute at first, but with the addition of his extra powers in this book, his arrogance is now just insufferable, and comes off as much more dickish than it did in the previous book.
I'll probably continue with the series, much the same as I did with the Max Ride books, which is to say out of pure stubborn masochism, and for the sake of having something to bitch about. But also for more Magnus. (less)
Well, this certainly held my attention. I wanted to beat the rush, and get this series read before the movie came out, so that I would have the sense...moreWell, this certainly held my attention. I wanted to beat the rush, and get this series read before the movie came out, so that I would have the sense of moral superiority that comes from reading the book first and looking down your nose at all the pathetic movie fans. What can I say, it's a hard world and I get my kicks where I can.
There was a lot I liked here. I really enjoyed the world Clare has built, with a rich mixture of various monsters, fae, and other creatures, which have been tied together to make a world with it's own politics and conflicts. However, the way the world was presented was a little too... I'm not sure the word I want here... You know when you start a new fantasy series, and the characters begin laying out the rules of the world? And it kind of feels like you're reading the guide to a table top RPG? "this is a whoozits monster, it's weak to fire." or "this is the magical sword of blah-de-blah, it has precisely these effects."I kept getting that feeling, and I couldn't shake it. It's not as blatant here as it is in other books, but it was more of a let down. I really felt like the world that was being painted here had so much more potential for depth and nuance than the way it was being presented.
The plot was a bit hit and miss for me. I think I would have enjoyed the twists a lot more if they hadn't been so telegraphed. The process of reading the book was, in many places, the process of confirming what I had understood 15 or 20 pages previous, and was waiting for pokey old Clary to realize the blatantly obvious.
The dialogue was another hit or miss element for me. I'm a fan of witty dialogue, I enjoy snarky characters, while fully admitting that real people don't speak that way. That being said, it can be well done, and it can be poorly done. I'd say I enjoyed about 75% of the exchanges laid out here, and the other 25% made me groan.
While I have my gripes, the book wasn't long enough for these little prickles to get to me, and as always, I will probably continue with it, even if it pisses me off. I absolutely hope that some of the problems here iron themselves out, but who knows?(less)
I liked this book, but only just. My previous experiences with the author, specifically with The Handmaid's Tale and Oryx and Crake, led me to believe...moreI liked this book, but only just. My previous experiences with the author, specifically with The Handmaid's Tale and Oryx and Crake, led me to believe she was a very different kind of author; I did not expect this kind of book from her in the slightest.
For those in the same boat as I, you should be aware that this is straight up literary fiction, and very different than those other two stories. There are no biological experiments or oppressive government regimes keeping things spicy. It's not a bad story for all that, mind, it's just that reality isn't really my bag. Once I got over my initial disappointment, I found myself mostly enjoying this. When things are going right, it does flow well, and the writing does have moments of absolute loveliness. However, the pace will sometimes just sort of drop off, and there are fifty pages or so that feel like a bit of a slog.
In general, I feel as though the author had a very finely tuned microscope, but she didn't point it at the things I wanted to see. I wanted a lot more of the Iris who existed in the past, I wanted to feel her sense of hopelessness and abandonment more keenly, get more of a feeling of how her day to day life was. Instead, I got the hopelessness of older Iris, which, admittedly was well executed. As I read the book, my skin felt papery and my joints ached. I felt myself resolving to eat more fiber. So, that's pretty masterful. However, while I was impressed by this, it just wasn't what I wanted to see, and thus, simply didn't hold my interest as strongly.
All in all, it was an alright book, but I wouldn't call it my favorite from the author, not by a long shot. (less)