Second time through; still LOVE this series! I'm a big fan of Napoleanic fiction, and throwing in some dragons really does add a lot of interest to th...moreSecond time through; still LOVE this series! I'm a big fan of Napoleanic fiction, and throwing in some dragons really does add a lot of interest to the Napoleanic war. :) Not to mention that Laurence and Temeraire's relationship is one of the best, most loving, non-romantic relationships I think I've ever read...(less)
I've read this one twice now (because a student kindly loaned me the sequel, and I realized I'd forgotten most of the first book), and I think this ti...moreI've read this one twice now (because a student kindly loaned me the sequel, and I realized I'd forgotten most of the first book), and I think this time I figured out what annoyed me about it the first time around.
I enjoyed reading the book, but I feel like all of the characters have the same voice--Clare's voice--and make the same kinds of jokes. I like that kind of joke, but it's a bit grating when every single character has the same devil-may-care, snarking-in-the-face-of-death sense of humor. Also: too many similes! And metaphors! I enjoy figurative langauge as much as the next girl, but sometimes (uh, ok, often) the prose seems to be trying just a bit too hard to be dramatic and epic and breathtaking.
That said, I still enjoy the storyline, and the world is certainly well thought out. Clary's sort of boring, and while I like Jace, I'm not sure they have much chemistry (which--SPOILER--is for the best, as they're secretly siblings...WHAT). Alec and Jace's relationship is much more intersting than Clary and Jace's, or even Clary and Simon's. Clary comes off a bit Mary-Sue for me (or Mary Poppins, if you're not into fanfic: she's "practically perfect in every way"). She's not alone, though; everyone seems pretty perfect, even Simon, who's perfectly ordinary (but also cute and funny and in a band).
I'm still interested enough to read the next book and probably the third, but I was a bit disappointed. The second time around, I was better able to articulate why. :)
I mean, let's not ignore the fact that this book has demons and Shadowhunters (who kill demons) and weird arcane race wars (are all half-demons all bad?) and witches and wizards and gay wizards and vampires and werewolves and FLYING MOTORCYCLES and burnt-down mansions with the bones of a child inside and crypts that open up to reveal secret cities and secret societies and secrets and lies and EVIL HOT PRINCES and and and and and
it's just all a bit much at times, but it's a heck of a ride. :)(less)
I was thrilled when my pre-ordered copy of this book arrived the day before my birthday. Perfect!
Like all of Pierce's work, this features a strong fem...moreI was thrilled when my pre-ordered copy of this book arrived the day before my birthday. Perfect!
Like all of Pierce's work, this features a strong female heroine: Beka, a young Dog (police officer) in ancient Tortall. It also features Pierce's signature helpful animals, occasional magic, sensible approach to teen sexuality, and creative cast of lovable characters.
And, as usual, you get a comforting sense when reading it that the world has troubles, but they're solvable; that good will win out in the end, although maybe a little bruised and battered; and that girls can do anything they please if they are only steadfast, determined, mostly sensible, and a little bit lucky.
But to my mind--and maybe it's just because I've been reading Pierce's livejournal lately--it seems to have a darker, bleaker undertone than her other works. Pierce has written that this book took much longer than she expected; I felt as if I could read in it some of her despair at certain recent events, and indeed there are connections.
Beka places her faith in the rule of law, and starts off the novel without a partner because she is so energetic in her pursuit of criminals. But as the novel goes on, she finds herself transplanted to a strange town where she must deal with a weak Provost, a corrupt Rogue, and Dogs who torture suspected counterfeiters.
The scene in which Beka and her partner interrupt a prisoner's waterboarding--the term's not used in the novel, but that's clearly what's happening--was the place where I finally was able to put my finger on it. Although the novel starts and ends the way I had expected a Pierce book to read, I wasn't able to shake a feeling of underlying unhappiness, and I wonder if Beka's story is going to go in a different direction than I had thought--at the beginning of the first novel, Terrier, she's described as George Cooper's "legendary ancestress," and I had assumed her legend was based on her tough detective work. But now, I wonder--is she going to have to face the larger systematic problems that underlie Tortall's entire system of justice? I had forseen her having some adventures and maybe or maybe not coming to terms with Rosto's hotness/criminality, but now I wonder.
Of course, the Alanna books are set hundreds of years later and yet still seem to have many of the same systematic problems (privileged nobility, corruption, etc) as Beka's Tortall.
I'm always eager to get the next Tamora Pierce novel, but now I'm more curious than ever to see where Beka's story goes...(less)
I read a lot, and get pretty good at guessing plot twists, so when I say that this book surprised me THREE TIMES, you should be impressed with it!
Nick...moreI read a lot, and get pretty good at guessing plot twists, so when I say that this book surprised me THREE TIMES, you should be impressed with it!
Nick is an ordinary teen who hates to read, doesn't like school, can't get along with his mother, idolizes his older brother, and carries a big sword around with him to kill demons. Also magicians.
I got an advance copy of this book and was to review it in exchange, and it took me less than a day to read the book and more than two weeks to try to work up a review that didn't spoil any of the plot twists (THEY ARE SO GOOD!) or give away the ending (ALSO SO GOOD! WANT SEQUEL *NOW*!) or just look like me typing over and over again in capslock READ THIS BOOK READ IT NOW DO NOT STOP DO NOT PASS GO DO NOT COLLECT $200 READ THE BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOK!!!!!!!!11!
So, as you can tell, I enjoyed it.
Brennan has many talents as a writer. She has an ease with dialog and a knack for giving characters different voices; she has a creative mind and has created a fascinating alternate real world for her characters to inhabit. She clearly understands the necessity for (totally hilarious) comic relief in the midst of her wrenching drama, and lots of adventure to even out the emotional turmoil.
But I think what draws me to her work most strongly is her ability to create flawed, realistic relationships between people; there's an inherent brokenness in many of the relationships in the story that makes them more interesting and more touching than the shallow relationships (perfect or imperfect) that some authors try to get away with. Nick loves his brother but doesn't understand him; he's alienated from his mother, who abhors the sight of him, but he wants her love; he's attracted to and repulsed by girls; he's struggling with all of the normal concerns of adolescence, plus also the demons and the zombies and the magicians, and he's struggling through doing the best he can. And that's just Nick--Alan and his martyr complex, his fragile attraction to Mae...
I could go on and on, but I'll stop now and just say: READ THIS BOOK. PREORDER IT NOW. CALL IN SICK TO WORK. ORDER A PIZZA AND STAY IN.
This book was great. I expected no less from Chris Crutcher after reading Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes, but this one was even better. The narrator, T....moreThis book was great. I expected no less from Chris Crutcher after reading Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes, but this one was even better. The narrator, T.J., is a really interesting character, with a great sense of humor and a strong sense of honor and a lot of rage inside. Crutcher's background working with abused kids is really put to use to create very realistic, troubled characters. (There's also the Awesome English Teacher, one of my favorite characters.)
It's about a mixed-race high school senior in a small, nearly-all-white logging town in Washington state, and how he starts a swim team made up almost entirely of people who can't swim. It's also about race, family, identity, and love. But most of all it's about connection, and acknowledging a common humanity with those we hate as well as with those we love.
"Nothing exists without its opposite," TJ says, and Crutcher's novel is elegantly to show the truth of that, giving the reader a true tragedy, and it isn't what you think it's going to be; it's mixed with a sweet victory, too, which makes it all the more moving. Crutcher excels at escalating from an ordinary situation to an extraordinary one in a tight, realistic way, demonstrating the escalation of violence and its destructive ends.
I read this in about four or five hours. I didn't want to put it down at all. Highly recommended for YA (high school--some profanity, difficult material, violence, racism, sexuality).
WARNING: I definitely cried at the end. In front of everyone in line to go to DisneyWorld from the Miami airport. YOU WERE WARNED. (less)
I really enjoyed the narrative voice of this novel, and am still thinking about it a day after reading it in (almost) one sitting. (I was on a bus tri...moreI really enjoyed the narrative voice of this novel, and am still thinking about it a day after reading it in (almost) one sitting. (I was on a bus trip, but it only took about 2&1/2 hours.) I haven't read any other books by this author, but I will definitely seek them out. The book handles big issues (abortion, shame, humiliation, self-consciousness, fear, ostracism, religion, faith, suicide) through the lens of a high-school senior who is finally coming into his own after being a bullied outcast for years. I liked a lot of the ideas, but Eric, the narrator, and his quest to help his friend Sarah with problems beyond the control of either of them--that's what kept me fascinated. I'm not sure if I think the ending was 100% satisfying, but it did give me a lot of good food for thought. The content is mature and the themes--like in a Robert Cormier book--tend to focus on cruelty and helplessness. Unlike a Cormier can be, though, I don't think the ending is mired in despair.(less)