This is billed as Sherlock meets Doctor Who for teens, so I had to read it. It's a charming book for sure, and I enjoyed it, but it didn't quite live...moreThis is billed as Sherlock meets Doctor Who for teens, so I had to read it. It's a charming book for sure, and I enjoyed it, but it didn't quite live up to my expectations. For one thing, it reads a bit like Sherlock fanfiction. Jackaby is pretty much a 19th century analogue of Benedict Cumberbatch's Sherlock Holmes, if a bit nicer, and written for teens. This means he's kind of a fun character to follow, but he's not very original. Refreshingly, his assistant Abigail is the one to make clever deductions (though Jackaby is the one who can see fairies - I'm assuming this is what the Doctor Who comparison refers to, because there aren't any aliens or any time travel). All in all this was a clever book, but it didn't quite do it for me. This would be perfect, however, for a younger teen/tween (always a hard age bracket to buy for).(less)
I enjoyed this one (as I do all Connie Willis' work), but not as much as usual. A few things really bugged me:
1. I'm sure Robert E. Lee was a great gu...moreI enjoyed this one (as I do all Connie Willis' work), but not as much as usual. A few things really bugged me:
1. I'm sure Robert E. Lee was a great guy and fantastic leader who was well-loved by all, etc., but he was still the leader of an army fighting for the right to keep people enslaved. And for a book on the Civil War, Willis doesn't mention ANY Black people - doesn't even acknowledge what the Confederates were fighting for and why. She just treats the Union and the Confederates as two sides in some war about something or other. Which... yeah. Problematic.
2. Annie is a Manic Pixie Dream Girl (without the Magic or the Pixie, because she has like no personality). She is a pale waif who exists solely for other men to worry about. You learn maybe five things about her that have nothing to do with her dreams, or how she worries Jeff/Richard (one of these things is that she has blonde hair that tends to curl when wet). AND THEN (view spoiler)[it's hinted that she sacrifices her own health and life so she can keep dreaming so Robert E. Lee (who, let's not forget, has been dead for over a hundred years) can sleep (or something) (hide spoiler)]. WHAT THE BITCH HELL. I KNOW that Lee inspired loyalty in his men (and various animals), and I know that love, empathy, and compassion are themes that run throughout Willis' work. BUT SERIOUSLY. Annie is a sketch of a character who exists for the needs of people who are not herself, and that really bothers me.
3. Also Willis' positivist stance on history, which is pretty much an entire academic article right there. But I'm still working out my feelings about this, and they don't involve all caps (yet).
What did I like about this one? Broun. The fact that he loves his research assistant in a way that does not involve sexy feelings. Traveller the horse. Excerpts about the book Broun is writing/Jeff is researching. The concept of (view spoiler)[prodromic dreams (hide spoiler)]. The parallels between the Civil War and the present day. The glimpses into how things worked before cell phones and the internet (I know, I know, I was around during some of this time, but I wan't conscious of it). The way that Willis makes history come alive.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)