This is really good for what it is: a retelling of a fairy tale that uses the key elements but providing a fresh take on the whys and wherefores of th...moreThis is really good for what it is: a retelling of a fairy tale that uses the key elements but providing a fresh take on the whys and wherefores of those elements. Hodge has a great ear for dialogue and I love the conversations between Maia and the duke's son. A much more successful take on Cinderella than Cinder.(less)
Wow! I admit to some eye-rolling in the early to middle part of the book, when I was reminded of the vomit-inducing handwringing of high school over w...moreWow! I admit to some eye-rolling in the early to middle part of the book, when I was reminded of the vomit-inducing handwringing of high school over which boy I liked more. But the plot and world-building kept me going. And I'm glad.
This is a creative take on ancient Greece with a smattering of Celtic legend. It's a fairy tale built around rather untraditional personalities, who are on the surface unpleasant and unlikable but frankly I see a lot of myself in them--flawed but sympathetic. There are high enough stakes to make it feel like a substantial story (which ultimately was one of the things that left me lukewarm about The Night Circus).
It didn't remind me of Graceling at all, which I think is a plus.
The reader was lovely. I'll be looking for more books read by her.(less)
Picked this up because I watched the BBC miniseries. I actually prefer the miniseries, which is unusual for me, though all in all I liked the book. My...morePicked this up because I watched the BBC miniseries. I actually prefer the miniseries, which is unusual for me, though all in all I liked the book. My main impression was that Dickens must have been so disappointed. He asked Gaskell to write a book about conditions in the Northern mills, and what does he get? A romance that involves an honorable mill owner who didn't try to squeeze every ounce of energy out of his workers before he choked them to death with cotton fluff. Not at all a Dickensian diatribe.(less)
I had always heard that this book arose from Mary Shelley's fear of childbirth, so I was expecting this book to be primarily about the creation proces...moreI had always heard that this book arose from Mary Shelley's fear of childbirth, so I was expecting this book to be primarily about the creation process. However, it turned out to be mostly about deadbeat dads. I was torn about what Shelley thinks of Victor Frankenstein, as her frame narrator (the captain) goes out of his way to praise him to the skies, his gentle this and his noble that. But the fact of the matter is that Frankenstein is a thoughtless jerk who was horrified by his creation yet totally indifferent to where it went when it left his house, so long as it didn't bother him. If the jerk had, I don't know, taken care of it? none of the crappy later events would have happened. There is never any acknowledgment of this in the novel, and Shelley is constantly inviting the reader to sympathize with his horror and revulsion. I haven't read any novels from that era that had an unreliable narrator, so I don't know if that was a much-used literary device at that point.
When I stepped back and thought about the book as commentary on the ethics of scientific research (still quite applicable today), it improved in my estimation. But I didn't really enjoy it. Frankenstein is unlikable and rather stupid about consequences (I can't believe it didn't occur to him earlier in the game that: 1) he was making a really ugly monster, which maybe he wouldn't like if it came to life, 2) that maybe the female creature would not go along with the original creature's plan, and 3) really? he thought it was going to attack him rather than his new wife, when Frankenstein refused to make it a mate? did he really understand the creature's thinking so little?). He spends a lot of time looking at the past through rose-colored glasses and while he takes responsibility for the creature's actions, he doesn't seem to understand that it was his own failure to think through what he was doing that caused the avalanche of disasters.
There were a few too many things that required a suspension of disbelief. What joy that a random traveler dropped a satchel full of Dante, Milton, and Petrarch, right where the creature could pick it up and read them! How fortunate that the creature happened to pick up Frankenstein's journal pages dealing with his creation! Etc.
Read by my man, Simon Vance, who did a splendid job, as usual. ===
Edit: I still had 15 min left to go in the book when I wrote my review, and I didn't think my opinion would change much. But having heard the creature's conversation with Walton, I do have an improved opinion of the book, and I feel that Shelley is not actually approving of Frankenstein's behavior.
I just read the Wikipedia article about this novel. The year before writing Frankenstein, Shelley had given birth to a premature baby who died, but her lover didn't give a fig and instead took off with her stepsister. Yeah. No unfinished business there. The wonder is that she took the jerk back.(less)
I feel like this story had some good potential. Looking at the love triangle as an allegory, with Ysabel as the land, Cadell as the old ways and Phela...moreI feel like this story had some good potential. Looking at the love triangle as an allegory, with Ysabel as the land, Cadell as the old ways and Phelan as the new order, was really interesting and a unique interpretation of Provençal history.
But Kay's overwrought prose and inability to write banter is on full display in this book. He went overboard in portraying Ned's teenage petulance, making him pretty two-dimensional. And Kay's habit of making portentous statements is even more obnoxious than usual.
I read Kay for his world building and plots, and his knack for the bittersweet. And I read him in spite of his irritating writing style, not because I like it. There wasn't enough of a payoff this time. I found myself constantly struggling between wanting to quit the book because of the annoying writing, and continuing so I could find out what happened.
I didn't really care for the Fionavar Tapestry (too derivative, didn't think he did the modern people dropped into fantasyland thing particularly well). Sadly, Ysabel is set in the same world as the Fionavar Tapestry, and when two characters from that series show up, they feel like they wandered in from somebody's fanfiction.
When Kay sticks to the fantasy bits, the book is good. But he just isn't very good at writing about the real world. Enough with all the name dropping; all you're doing is dating the book. And the ending? Bitch, please. Like a 25-year-old woman is going to want anything to do with a 15-year-old boy.
I can't believe this book beat out Territory for the World Fantasy Award.(less)
Neil Gaiman does horror so well; not the zombie vampire monster kind, but the kind that strikes right at your emotional core and makes you question th...moreNeil Gaiman does horror so well; not the zombie vampire monster kind, but the kind that strikes right at your emotional core and makes you question the foundation of who you are. Coraline was one of the scariest things I've ever read, probably because I thought of my child the whole time as I read it and his utter terror of losing us, his parents.
Ocean is in a similar vein, where bad things happen to kids and the parents are totally checked out. (Now that I think about it, there's a bit where the mother gets a job, which allows Ursula to enter the house as a nanny. Hope this isn't Gaiman entering the mommy wars.)
I was totally along for the ride until Gaiman brought up the hold that Ursula has on the narrator's heart, which will lead to a lifelong yearning that can never satisfied. I feel that yearning too, but instead of drawing me deeper into the story, for some reason it knocked me right out. It was too autobiographical. I got suspicious, and flipped to the front to see who the book was dedicated to, and it said, "For Amanda, who wanted to know." And then the book turned into a "how I became a writer" love letter to his wife, instead just being a story. I try to form an opinion of a book on the work itself, and not on the author's personal life, but I can't stand Amanda Palmer's pathological need for attention. (Never heard of her before Gaiman married her, was predisposed to like her, then read bits of her blog and was turned off.) Thinking about her, even though I don't really care all that much about her, triggered some irritation that then transferred, even if only a little, to the book.
Anyway. I'll see what I think of the book in time. I was surprised by my instant suspicion (really the best word for my reaction). There's always something missing for me when I read Gaiman's books, something that keeps me from loving them wholeheartedly. This is the first one where I knew why.(less)
I haven't finished this book yet, but I have to say that it's really disappointing. I guessed the not so secret twist within the first five chapters,...moreI haven't finished this book yet, but I have to say that it's really disappointing. I guessed the not so secret twist within the first five chapters, and I'm finding a lot of the other plot contrivances to be predictable, too. The plot (or at least the shoddy romance aspect) hinges on people not communicating with each other; I HATE it when the conflicts could be resolved by a simple five minute conversation, but in order to drive the plot along, the characters aren't allowed to be honest with each other.
There is supposed to be all this political intrigue but the characters clearly have no sense of diplomacy. I can't imagine world leaders talking like this to each other. I'm supposed to believe the heir to the throne has been raised without the ability to control his tongue? And why the hell are so many countries monarchies? Meyer really thinks the people of the future will cost to be ruled by a hereditary system?
Also, lots of characters appear to be Caucasian even though the setting is Asia. I'll give Cinder a pass since she was adopted in Europe, but no can do for the rest of them.
The androids are so inconsistent. I can't fathom why Iko would be so boy-crazy. I have no idea what her household function is supposed to really be. Mostly she just seems to be the goofy sidekick but her personality seems to be really odd for either a maid or mechanic robot, and certainly too high-level (in terms of AI) for a household drudge type, given the capabilities of the other androids we see.
And words are misused and abused constantly. Treatise, belabored, and coronated (wtf?) are the ones I can think of off the top of my head. And the moon is not a planet: it can't be part of an interplanetary agreement, ffs.
Good concept, disappointing execution. Also, the narrator is dreadful. I may not be able to force myself to finish this.
Edit: managed to finish listening to this today. Good Lord, get a competent copy editor for this writer. I have never encountered so many errors in a book, so much flat-out ignorance about correct word usage in a book released by a major publisher.
Absolute fail on Chinese culture. Jie and mei are what you call your older and younger sister in Chinese. They are not interchangeable with the word "Miss," and even if they were, why do some characters use Miss? The whole attempt to evoke Chinese culture was clumsily done.
Characters were so two-dimensional. Particularly the bad guys; no depth or complexity, just boring old villains.
I won't be bothering to read any more of these books. Pity, the first five chapters I got as a Kindle sample were pretty good.(less)
Loved this book. The first one in a long time that I haven't been able to put down. I was only truly surprised (in that my expectations were completel...moreLoved this book. The first one in a long time that I haven't been able to put down. I was only truly surprised (in that my expectations were completely upended) by one event and one character in the book, but the reviews, not to mention the premise, make it pretty clear that the narrator is unreliable so I was on the lookout from the beginning.
This is the kind of book I was expecting Louise Erdrich's Shadow Tag to be, where the narrator keeps two sets of diaries, one of which is intended to be found. But that book doesn't really stay with the constructed narrative for very long, as I recall. Code Name Verity does, and watching the true story unfold is absolutely gripping.
Also, I love books that are set in a historical period that I don't know very much about. I looked at the Wikipedia entry for Nacht und Nebel, which led me to the link on Noor Inayat Khan. So many brave women and men, who died fighting the Nazis. I'm glad this book is here to remind us of their work.(less)
Such a great integration of lots of things I'm interested in: epidemiology, the rise of the scientific method over superstition, urban development, wh...moreSuch a great integration of lots of things I'm interested in: epidemiology, the rise of the scientific method over superstition, urban development, what history has to tell us about modern societal challenges. I'll reread this one.(less)