I think it's a record for me - a nearly 500 pages book within a day! Got to get my hands on Insurgent, ASAP (though if I had it at home right now, I wI think it's a record for me - a nearly 500 pages book within a day! Got to get my hands on Insurgent, ASAP (though if I had it at home right now, I wouldn't have gone to sleep at all tonight). I'm not sure I'll end up writing a complete review, but I think my rating has a lot more to do with the anticipation and all the praise this book has gotten, than my actual experience (mind you, if I had gone into reading it with no expectations, there's quite the possibility I would have given it a higher rating. Also, the previous book I finished - The Book Thief - is a tough act to follow). ...more
While this book suffers from some faults that plague contemporary literature, and especially the YA genre, it is a vastly enjoyable, thrilling, and emWhile this book suffers from some faults that plague contemporary literature, and especially the YA genre, it is a vastly enjoyable, thrilling, and emotional read.
While this book may give the impression of a Historical novel, there are too many discrepancies to pass as true Historic Fiction. It is set in 15th century Brittany, at a time when the Duchy was trying to preserve its independence from France. And while some persons and happenings are the same, there was greater liberty taken in all other matters. I do not count this so much as poor research, but rather as an 'alternate universe' sort of understanding. Though, I must say that what piqued my curiosity as for the historical accuracy was some fashion descriptions, that may very well fall into the former explanation, the religion, turn of events, and other changes are more easily accepted. In whole, being unversed in the real historical accounts prior to reading this novel, and because the inner logic is un-flawed, it is rather simple to overlook this and not let it make an impact on my overall enjoyment. I would, however, won't object to a more strict historical account of environment (if not events) in the next installments of the series.
Ismae is a strong female protagonist. Very flawed, but it makes her all the more relate-able. Her stubbornness and immaturity sit well with her age and experience (or lack there of). She is not a helpless halfwit, but is enough ignorant and proud to make her believable. She is not flawless, which I love. I do have some objection to her derision of women, they tend to be described by her as bird-like and overall she looks down on traditional female roles. While I understand that her childhood, and later her stay at the convent, may have had influence in that regard, I feel it is too much of an anti for the times the story is set in (and, quite frankly, in general, also). Being strong, independent, and wise, is not opposite to holding womanly charms and skills.
I must add that most that most of the prevalent female characters are well rounded, independent, and strong. Especially the duchess, Anne, that at a young age must face such circumstances as to make her wise beyond her years, although her chronological age still flashes through, on occasion. The abbess, however, seems a bit too one faceted.
Like most first person narratives in YA, there is too much foreshadowing than should be acceptable. She is also unreasonable observant at times, while at others she is unbelievably blind. (view spoiler)[Her fixed resolve that Duval is the traitor and her inability to see other possibilities until too late in the game seems forced, even with all the explanation thrown in there. (hide spoiler)]
It is quite easy to guess fairly from the beginning where the plot will take you, but I find it admirable that some motives are kept hidden till the end, without feeling like a quick fix. Most characters have redeeming qualities (only one of the main characters is wholly sinister) and flaws, to make them believable and well rounded.
The love story, though, has to be my favorite part. Yes, it can be seen from a mile away, but it unfolds so gently, and is so unpresumptuous. It is tender, and sweet, and there isn't a forced struggle with it. It is clear why they fall for each other, and being hot is not one of the reasons. Their connection is deep and cerebral, and completely believable.
(view spoiler)[The one thing I don't get is Duval's poisoning. If Crunard was out to get him, why play chess with him? Or has the pieces were poisoned before Duval fell into hiding, but why has is only affected him when it did? I am quite puzzled by it. (hide spoiler)]
The prose, however, is one of the things I did not feel for. It is simplified, and dry. I cannot buy the argument that this is what the character might talk like, for while she is 17, a 15th century maiden should be more articulate, especially one trained to infiltrate a myriad of occasions unnoticed. It is also severely lacking in the show-don't-tell department(as does most of the genre, unfortunately); the most discernible character is the vile d'Albert. As a trained assassin, she should be overtly observant of her surrounding and people, and should be able to account for as much as possible in as little time as possible. Though, it did not oppose an obstacle, and the reading flew by quite nicely.
I read an advanced reading copy from the publisher via Net-Galley. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
Meh. That was my first reaction when I finished the book. Since I have been out of reading for so long, and my main bulk of reading is not done in theMeh. That was my first reaction when I finished the book. Since I have been out of reading for so long, and my main bulk of reading is not done in the department of this particular genre, I cannot say whether my 'gulping' of the book, i.e. reading it cover to cover fairly quickly, is due to the writer's abilities of pulling a reader in or my need to know the end (and no, I cannot jump to the end and just be done with it, I have the compelling urge to travel the literary road completely, start to finish). So the first, and one of the only, point for this book is the way it dragged me in and made it hard for me to put down. As a result, I finished reading it at 3 in the morning.
It is an easy read, fairly straight forward (in general), and moves along quite quickly. You don't tread in place for very long, or at all. However, it does leave some scenes wanting, though it is not plagued with the had-an-idea-so-I-ran-with-it-but-forgot-to-go-back-and-add-details feeling.
I do not expect every adventure/mystery novel to be a completely surprising. They rarely are anymore, the basic twists and turns are pretty much expected. However, too blatant foreshadowing ruins even the most trivial story lines. First Person Narration is mostly hurt (if not mostly plagued) by it, because once a character hints at a possibility and then ignores it, big, red, neon signs are lit up "danger, danger". When it is repeated, it also makes the character seem, well, to put it bluntly, dumb. Add to that a character whose mantra is "don't think", and you, as a reader, get the feeling that someone offended your intelligence.
Also, I know that most books have an agenda, a point, other than the plot, that they want to get across. Well, not books, but their writers. I'm aware that the matter of subtlety in this matter has been lost, or, rather, the ability to pass said point elegantly. While some books shove it down your throat, others, as this book, manage to make it quite delicate. Problem was, that while delicate, a) it could be seen a mile away (though I've already mentioned the subtlety issue); and b) it was not compelling. I did not read the opening notes (I never do before I read the book, a clean start), so I did not know what he was aiming at, but it was pretty clear almost for the start. To make it clear, he's trying to make a point about PTSD and the society's handling of army veterans in general. While it was obvious he aimed at these issues, I felt he missed them. I felt the main character was messed-up before he joined the army (with the very little information we have on how he was before), and afterwards he just seemed psychotic regardless of his service. I think bringing this very important issue on the table requires a different genre altogether, or a longer and more psychological book, one that isn't focused on the action, but rather the REaction. Despite the good intentions and the characterization of a man incapable of real emotional connection who's trying not to think, it didn't come off as a PTSD, but rather as an obnoxious and unrelatable character. It (the book, the story, the character) needs more depth, more poking fingers into the unpleasant places. More rawness, jabbing a hot poker into the wound. It's a bit too willy-nilly on this important issue.
I have trouble with books where I find the main character unpleasing. It is a serious problem when the terms I'd use to describe a character are: Stupid, emotionally numb, and psychotic. Of course, when we're talking about a character who is supposed to evoke empathy, it is even worse.
At the end, despite all that happened and could happen, two things occurred that annoyed me: 1. A forced happy ending - I am quite allergic to those, especially in non-romance literature (not that the forced happy endings in romance don't give me the hives, it's just they are more genre acceptable). While I guess some would argue it is not necessarily a happy ending (it is quite an open one), I still feel it is, especially because it feels forced. It doesn't feel natural, just sort of a filler to tie a loose end and to give hope to our beloved hero. I would see it end in a completely different way. Mind you, I am talking strictly about the last chapter, an afterward of sorts, and not the resolution of the mystery plot. It (i.e. mystery plot) was resolved, if not to my satisfaction, to an expected and presumable outcome (if you accept the premises in the plot up until then, that is). 2. Despite all that has gone through, despite all the realizations and enlightenment our hero had gone through, he has not evolved or grown one single centimeter. He stayed the same, but, mainly because of point 1, it doesn't seem like a human being that got stuck in place, rather like a book character that has not evolved. And in such a story, with such revelations, progress must be made.
To sum it up: I didn't like the main character, the moral seemed forced, and the ending fake. However, it is written in an engaging way, and the action plot is quite an interesting one (though not entirely innovative). I probably will not read this book again, but I cannot say that I would stay away from other books by the same writer....more
Ugh! I hate when they do that! The ending is ridiculously unfair - I feel like I've been left hanging mid-air. Mind you, I don't completely regard thiUgh! I hate when they do that! The ending is ridiculously unfair - I feel like I've been left hanging mid-air. Mind you, I don't completely regard this as a cliff-hanger, but damn near close enough. My problem with the book, aside from the ending, is that I wasn't emotionally invested in the characters. But it has more to do with a personal chemistry to the book (or lack there of), than with any real fault of the book. Some parts are creepy without the intention of them being, which creeped me out even more (e.g. Jacob and Emma). A certain twist could be seen miles away, but I find it hard being surprised any more - there is a certain number of twists, and they are easy to guess when you know how to read the signs. All in all, a fun read. Will definitely read the next book (when it will be released). ...more
Generally speaking, it is a pretty good suspense book: it is good paced, interesting places, seems well researched, intriguing conundrum (based on a rGenerally speaking, it is a pretty good suspense book: it is good paced, interesting places, seems well researched, intriguing conundrum (based on a real life mystery the western world seemed quite obsessed about in various points in time), well written.
However, I was not pulled in - I did not get that 'can't-put-the-book-down' or the 'I-must-continue-reading-every-chance-I-get' feeling. It's why it took me about four months to read the book - I just forgot about it every time I put it down.
It may have been partly due to the fact that I, myself, (view spoiler)[have been curious about the Romanov's story and read about it a few months prior to purchasing the book. Problem was, in the last few years there was an advancement in the mystery, after a burial place have been discovered with bones of the two missing bodies of the Romanov's. I was left to wonder when the book was written in relation to that discovery - terrified it was written beforehand, I didn't really check it out (couldn't remember when the grave was found, and refused to look it up). I hated the fact that the ending may have been marred for me, and I think it had something to do with me not really connecting to the book.
Of course, when I got to the end and this whole thing was referenced, I liked the book better. (hide spoiler)]
Even if I disregard my personal conflict with the book, I still think the book was missing an emotional link for me that prevented me from really enjoying it. It was tepid for me.
I do like to point out, that my experience with suspense books is minimal, at best. It is not usually the genres I read, though I do like to enjoy it once in a while. Maybe enthusiasts for the genre will be able to appreciate the book more. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more