Original will be posted on my blog on January 10th, 2013, here. (Note: due to copy-and-paste, formatting and links have been lo**ACTUAL, FULL REVIEW**
Original will be posted on my blog on January 10th, 2013, here. (Note: due to copy-and-paste, formatting and links have been lost.)
I'm going to try really, really hard to make this review as gentle as I can let it be. But make no mistake: I did not, at all, like this book.
Let's just discard some misinformation first. That first line in the summary? "An exotic treat set in an entirely original, fantastical world brimming with deadly mystery, forbidden romance, and heart-stopping adventure"? That is not true. At least, not for me. Let me explain.
This book is not exotic, because I felt the writing was very bland. The story was told with a sort of detachment, and no real emotions were really explored. It was very "this happened, now this, now oh look here's something else that's happened, and oh my, this is all very tragic". Now don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that Ms. Forster can't write. Surely she can. But her style was just really not my type. Also, this book is not "entirely original". Sure, it sounds absolutely amazing and original. I thought so, too. But upon reading it, I realized that it utilizes the same variation of court intrigue that Alison Goodman's Eon series does so well, except it doesn't do it so well. It's a flurry of events that do have consequences, but are not developed. It's like watching a movie unfold when nothing seems important to you because nothing connects. Not the two-dimensional characters, not the paper-cut out world, not the misuse of Asian culture, and certainly not the absolutely unscintillating romance.
Romance first: I'm so unsure as to where the whole thing was going. It was a nice tentative thing at first--no insta-love here, and yay, a backstory!--but... it was so flat. I wished I could proclaim what so profoundly breathes life into characters, because then and only then will some people deem me qualified to talk, but as a reader and a blogger/reviewer, all I can say is that I didn't feel anything. It was more "meh" to me than anything else, and the whole thing seemed to be going in a thousand different directions at once (do you see the pun tucked in there?).
I told you this review was going to be negative, so I'll wrap it up with this last bit of complaint that is quite personal and most likely won't affect most of you.
I'm 100% Chinese. I grew up in China. I'm quite sure I'm of enough caliber to analyze my culture, so let's look. I realize that Miriam mentioned somewhere that this book is based off of South Asian cultures, and I also understand the gap in translation. I've gone to enough museums to know that "the green-leafed Spring" is an acceptable, translated painting name, etc. But this book had so. many. of the long-named translations like "in the name of the Long-Tailed Cat" that it was ludicrous. I've never read an Asian-based fantasy that used this many "translations". Most of them didn't even contain any, or just one/two. This whole bizarre use of Asian culture/terminology (whether or not it's Chinese, I've Asian blood in me, and I've studied this whole shebang enough times that I see a book not fully researched when I read it the first time) was just distracting. I could barely focus on the story when the meh writing and misused culture/terminology made me want to just, oh, I don't know, headdesk really really hard.
Overall, you definitely can give City of a Thousand Dolls a try. Warning, though: if you want a good Asian-based fantasy that will rock your socks off, I cannot say that this book is it. ...more
I'm not going to write a review for this, just a reaction, mostly because I skimmed the second half of the book, and that's not really fair. I shouldI'm not going to write a review for this, just a reaction, mostly because I skimmed the second half of the book, and that's not really fair. I should make it clear that this book wasn't bad at all--it's just that I'm trading it and also I'm in a really bored state right now, so anything that isn't like OH MY GOSH FANTASTIC isn't exactly holding on to my attention. :)
So. This book was definitely creative and I can see clearly that Julie has put a lot of work and thought into the world-building. The main character was very realistic, but despite all that, I know some of you are thinking, "wait wait wait, how the heck does an action-oriented book like Immortal Rules bore you!?!?!?!??!?!"
Ah, see, it's not exactly the book's fault. I'm just in the mood for highly emotional epic fantasy books right now, and vampires aren't exactly emotional. Also, the violence in this book is highly comparable to that of Angelfall, and I'm super squeamish, so intense, gory scenes aren't really my thing. Also, I feel like that this book was unnecessary long. I surmise that perhaps even 100 pages could've been cut--there were lots of info-dumping, and quite the majority of it happened through dialogue, which made the characters' conversations kinda awkward.
All in all, though, I cannot call this a bad book. It was certainly intriguing. I'm just not the right person in the right mood to read it at the right time. :)...more
Quick Reaction: This book made me feel so bipolar, it wasn't even funny. I don't think I've ever read a book that made me cry just as much as it madeQuick Reaction: This book made me feel so bipolar, it wasn't even funny. I don't think I've ever read a book that made me cry just as much as it made me want to rip it apart. The Catastrophic History of You and Me features a protagonist who felt shallow and like a 5-year-old with the way she treated everything, yet though I detested her during the "Anger" and "Bargaining" parts (this book is told in parts labeled as the stages of grief! And every chapter is a song title! So freakin' cool.), I cried bucketfuls in sadness and acceptance. In the end, I think it's the transformation of Brie that finally redeemed her in my eyes, as did the quite honestly well-thought twists. One thing, though. There's this giant big twist at the end that affects everything, and it involves a bargain, but... (and this is when I went from a 4-star to a 3-star) if it changed everything, does that mean everything Brie did during the book is just illegitimate? Non-existent? Gone? If so, there was no explaining nor backing on that aspect, and though it was a fantastic fairytale-esque ending, that plot hole cracked the ice.
Actual, full review: This review is also on my blog. (Note: due to copy-and-paste, formatting and links have been lost.)
Brie died of a broken heart, and she left me with one, too.
This book was definitely original and compassionate, but Brie has a voice that rivaled a five-year-old. Everything Was Capitalized and Of Course OMG Abbreviations! But this book--my goodness--made me feel so bipolar, it was like slowly inching up on a roller-coaster, only to have the ride be stuck at the highest point, staring down at a trail of steepness below. Brie frustrated me and made me cry. She made me want to throw the book against a wall and hug it so fiercely my ribs hurt. She makes immature decisions--and talks almost nothing like a teenager, if you ask me (a teenager. Yup. Hi there!)--but the things she goes through are so heartbreaking, I broke down into terrible sobs. I don't even know what to think.
This book is cool, though. It's broken into parts--each one being a stage of grief. Every chapter is a song title (I didn't even know until a friend pointed out that Total Eclipse of the Heart was, in fact, a song, and not a supremely cool original chapter title). And though Brie sometimes annoyed me so much, and I would have smoke steaming out from my ears if I was in a cartoon, she did make me laugh.
You know, I think I know how she managed to infuriate me and break me at the same time. Brie knows she's done wrong. She's so terrified of her own mistakes that her fears become my own, and she's so afraid that she won't ever be able to fix her own self that I am surrounded by these eternal walls of impossibility, suffocating and choking and horrifying.
Brie backed herself into a steel prison, and it's not only catastrophic, it's claustrophobic. (ha, get it? Get it?)
This book has surprises, turns, and zero explanations. And it's not even the most entertaining book of all time, considering Brie's childish voice. But here's what I'll tell you: The Catastrophic History of You and Me will find a part of you so deeply hidden--so scarce and afraid--and yank it out, fast, so that you won't even realize what happened until you feel this gigantic hole in your chest. It'll stitch you back together, one attempt at a time.
But no matter how many times it tries to save its own destruction, you won't be the same. (Whether that's meant in a good way or bad way, though, that's up for you to see.)...more
Quick Reaction: A hilarious and touching novel of faith and choice, Team Human is clearly the product of two beautiful minds. While I lo**3.75 Stars**
Quick Reaction: A hilarious and touching novel of faith and choice, Team Human is clearly the product of two beautiful minds. While I loved many parts of it, however, and understand that it was not meant to be always serious, I felt the double--yes, DOUBLE!--insta-love was a bit too... instant. I understood, really, that it was supposed to be dramatically intriguing, but I still feel as if it was more used as a convenient tool for the progression of plot rather than anything else. Overall, though, Team Human is certainly a book to check out. Fans of The Catastrophic History of You and Me will be sure to love this one!
Quick reaction: So I'm totally on a contemp junkie ride and I'm absolutely ignoring my needed-reviews. Oh dear lord. Someone will theore **4.75 stars**
Quick reaction: So I'm totally on a contemp junkie ride and I'm absolutely ignoring my needed-reviews. Oh dear lord. Someone will theoretically fire me soon. Oh well. Blogging without reading what you love is a waste of time, anyway. So! This book was freaking awesome. I just now realized the pun in the title ('cause I'm slow like that) and ha... haha! But anyway, I don't really have much to say, except that this is a really cute read and awesome and I loved it.
Actual, full review: Original is here. (note: due to copy-and-paste, formatting and links have been lost.)
Look at the sun and see the clouds and the fActual, full review: Original is here. (note: due to copy-and-paste, formatting and links have been lost.)
Look at the sun and see the clouds and the faces in the sky; what do you see? There are glowing animals and sharpened weapons, an eternity of possibilities buried within our own imagination. Pandemonium is the sky, and its cloud burn with a passion.
The beginning of Pandemonium is slow. Slow with a trail of beautiful words obscuring its monotonous events. I had no simple wish of knowing the number of jars on a counter, of what sort of absurdity they contained, since they held no pertinence to the story except to express an obvious poorness. It was dragging on and on, and though yes, I needed to understand and adjust to the Wilds, I had no wish for an abundance of gorgeous, plot-less language.
Enter page 165. This one quote (note, it's from the ARC, so it may be altered in the final copy) finally grounded me into the story... and from there on, Lauren Oliver captivated me once again.
"Her eyes have softened now, and I see how tired she is, and must always have been--to live for years and years and years this way, having to rip and shred just for a space to breathe."
After that halfway mark, you could hear a pin drop in the entire pandemonium of everything and everyone (pun intended). There were times when chills swallowed me whole, and I couldn't breathe. There were times when I wanted to smash the words apart, to rip the boundaries of fiction and reality and charge in for vengeance. Yet, as the action skyrocketed beyond expectation, and stakes reached above the edge of our sight, a subtle but constant annoyance slowly peaked within me.
There was nothing specifically wrong with Lena. I could understand her motivation and intentions fairly well, and I can't exactly blame her for her choices--they had to be made. Except for one choice: and that is the one you see precariously inserted in the summary, that she may just fall in love again.
That, my dear friends, is my biggest problem. Oh, Lena, I know you thought your old love was dead. I know that things have been terribly hard and obscenely intense and staggeringly scarring, but were you really so desperate you could not help but fall in love with someone who couldn't possibly compete with what your old love did for you? I know love is a hopeless trap you can't claw your way out of once you fall in, but why oh why did you fall in in the first place? Did you forget? I know not everyone feels this way--quite the number of my friends certainly preferred Lena's new choice over her old one, but I'm sorry, I just can't see it. I'm torn between sympathy and understanding for Lena and fury at her for forgetting the most important thing of all. I suppose, then, that I will have to make my mind up in Requiem. Oh, please, will someone hand that aesthetic to me? Now?
Pandemonium is well worth its name. Its roads have diverged into the then and now, and without the fantastic imagination of the mind-blowing Lauren Oliver, it could have easily drowned in the deadly sea of second-books-that-suck-in-a-trilogy.
Even if it did--and it didn't--no matter. Lauren Oliver is known for her life rafts....more