You definitely have to get past the opening on this one. The first chapter and a bit were actually great, introducing Zenobia and her character with eYou definitely have to get past the opening on this one. The first chapter and a bit were actually great, introducing Zenobia and her character with enough setup that you can understand the world/characters without necessarily reading any of Meljean Brook's other books first.
However, the point of view then abruptly switches mid-chapter to Ariq, which I found jarring, and I found *him* rather obnoxious. He did eventually grow on me, but his introduction sucked. Besides coming off as a dirty minded teenager in his first impression, "hints" of his backstory were dropped in convoluted and confusing ways.
Example sentence: Her expression mirrored how Ariq imagined Taka would look before going over the cliffs, and through Ariq's calm had crashed the thought that, once again, he'd waited too long.
Besides being a convoluted sentence, at this point we have no idea who Taka is, or why he would be going over a cliff, much less what his expression would look like, or *any* kind of clear context. (Frankly, it's still unclear, even after finishing the rest of the book.) For the sake of those who want to save a little sanity before reading this book: (view spoiler)[Taka is Ariq's half brother, who Ariq rescued from prison after their mother was executed for being a spy. Taka was imprisoned and tortured because they assumed he was also a spy, which leads to being treated as a pariah, though he had nothing to do with their mother's spying. I *think* the cliff thing is supposed to be in some way related to the prison escape, but I'm still not sure. (hide spoiler)]
After you get past the first few chapters though, Zenobia and Ariq were very deftly kept on different pages without it coming off as the typical annoyingly contrived misunderstandings. Instead, the interpersonal conflicts stem from their individual assumptions and cultural backgrounds in a way that I actually found refreshing.
And of course there was plenty of good steampunk adventure, which I think is Meljean Brook's strong point. There's exploration, some critters, some gadgets, some chase elements, poor Zenobia's kidnapping theme, and dire threat to the one thing that Zenobia loves the most: her manuscript. (Ok, so she comes to love Ariq too. ;) )...more
This was how Raine met Tam, and it was pretty much spot on what I expected. My picky self wants to cut out a few redundant paragraphs, but overall itThis was how Raine met Tam, and it was pretty much spot on what I expected. My picky self wants to cut out a few redundant paragraphs, but overall it was just a fun little story....more
3.5 After a bit of debate, I decided to add some thoughts to my stars. Libriomancer was simply awesome. For a sequel to live up to it would be a lot o3.5 After a bit of debate, I decided to add some thoughts to my stars. Libriomancer was simply awesome. For a sequel to live up to it would be a lot of hard work. Codex Born didn't make it. The entire first half hovers around the three star mark, but a few five star moments convinced me to pull it up to a four. But all throughout, Codex Born is clunky at best.
One of its worst flaws is that it simply doesn't meet its potential. It has a LOT of great concepts sprinkled throughout, but none of them feel sufficiently developed. At. All. (view spoiler)[(Example: I got so excited when I made the connection between Bi Wei's book and the snippets from Lena's perspective at the opening of each chapter. But then nothing was *done* with it. I seriously hope this is played with in the next book, otherwise it's reduced to, "Hey, look! Lena's backstory is even weirder than you thought!" :p) (hide spoiler)] Then there are also a lot of things that feel thrown in for no reason, or at least no apparent reason, which just add more words, not interest. It basically read like Jim Hines didn't have a clear picture of exactly what he wanted out of this book, except to make it to the next one....more
I did enjoy this more than I expected. America was a sympathetic character (boy angst and all) and whether the author intended it or not, the story maI did enjoy this more than I expected. America was a sympathetic character (boy angst and all) and whether the author intended it or not, the story made me think of Queen Esther.
Unfortunately, the whole "rebel" setup was a glaring crack in suspension of disbelief for me. Illea seems to be set up as a reasonably powerful nation. First of all, they're enforcing this whole caste system across what we're led to believe is the entire North American continent. That's a lot of territory, even if there's been a technological decline. Second, as the Selection goes on, Illea is also supposedly diplomatically involved with other large nations.
So why is their palace routinely being invaded? Routinely. Repeatedly. On a regular basis. Is there any powerful nation that has ever had rebels repeatedly invade their ruler's home? Robert E. Lee never rifled through Abraham Lincoln's drawers. Not even once. Can you imagine Queen Elizabeth II's family photos being ripped from her mirrors and torn to pieces, then afterward everyone shrugs and moves on? Maybe *maybe* in the embattled MIddle East could I imagine one of their leaders being told essentially, "Well, those rebels were at it again, ripping bricks off our building and chucking them at the windows." But even that is a stretch and that isn't the kind of nation Illea is supposedly set up to be.
This leads me to two conclusions: 1) the author expects us to simply accept this dynamic for the sake of the plot, or 2) Prince Maxon and his royal parents are no more the leaders of a powerful nation than the talk show host. #2 isn't the impression we're led to believe, so I'm sadly left with #1.
I do think I will pick up book 2, but I hope to find better answers there....more
One of the things I loved about Alloy of Law was that you didn't have to read any of the Mistborn trilogy first. Unfortunately that is definitely notOne of the things I loved about Alloy of Law was that you didn't have to read any of the Mistborn trilogy first. Unfortunately that is definitely not true of Shadows of Self. It's still a good book, but if you have no idea what happened in the previous trilogy (set centuries earlier than this timeline) you'll be completely lost by the end....more
Edit: After seeing the movie, I had to bump this up a star for the author's hard work trying to make up for Disney's laziness. ALL of the world buildiEdit: After seeing the movie, I had to bump this up a star for the author's hard work trying to make up for Disney's laziness. ALL of the world building is here. The movie uses it as a crutch. I hope Melissa de la Cruz is someday given a chance to work with a real plot for these characters.
Originally: 3 stars. Not bad for what it is, which is basically a character introduction for the upcoming Disney channel movie....more
I remember loving the Cheney Duvall books in high school. Re-reading it now, it's a bit rough around the edges but the characters are interesting andI remember loving the Cheney Duvall books in high school. Re-reading it now, it's a bit rough around the edges but the characters are interesting and engaging. Still a good read, even years later....more
I really, really, really hate to say it, especially being a Camy Tang story, whose writing I usually love, but this felt... clunky.
(Mildly spoilish thI really, really, really hate to say it, especially being a Camy Tang story, whose writing I usually love, but this felt... clunky.
(Mildly spoilish things coming.)
Maylin and Geoffrey are alright as characters taken on their own, but as a couple they really never seemed to click. Their individual, internal character conflicts remained internal and remained their own, "resolved" with a quick summary in the epilogue instead of assisting each other to work through things as a couple should. Over the course of the story they have a lot of soulful staring with "Ooo, I really like him/her, but...", with not a lot of real interaction. They don't seem to trust each other with their troubles, despite their shared external conflict. There's also not very much development of these internal conflicts, and it felt like there was a lot of repetition, especially on Geoffrey's part. Lots of allusions to his time in Japan, but no detail until the end. Until then, his character simply feels distant; not in a good way.
For the external conflict, it starts before we know or care anything about the characters, and the way the story opens is more confusing than intriguing. It doesn't feel like a real mystery/thriller until nearly halfway through, when FINALLY there's more detail on what the heck is going on. The entire story felt like there was no foundation. Maybe if it had been with established characters, rather than introducing new ones, the "jump right into the action" opening might have been better. Yes, Monica is there, but she feels peripheral. There's barely enough of Maylin and Geoffrey to get a whiff of their characters before the guns start shooting (though Maylin's makeshift bombs were nicely revealing about her character, it felt like it was never expanded on. She's obviously smart, and the hinted internal conflict with her ex-boyfriend was also telling about her character, but it really never felt RESOLVED. Dang it).
The way details and clues were presented also felt clunky. The way they were placed in plain sight made it obvious they would be important, rather than being smoothly worked into the narrative as clues in a mystery should be.
In short, it didn't feel fast paced, it felt rushed. :( ...more
The bulk of this book was largely "meh," exacerbated by names that could get confusing and a largely unpronounceable language system (fara'ip? dra'aj?The bulk of this book was largely "meh," exacerbated by names that could get confusing and a largely unpronounceable language system (fara'ip? dra'aj? Trere'if?), with characters that were a bare shade away from "blah." But some of the concepts were interesting, and I enjoyed the tail ending....more
I'm not going to give this book a star rating, because to do so feels like a disservice. Unbroken is brilliantly written and exhaustively researched,I'm not going to give this book a star rating, because to do so feels like a disservice. Unbroken is brilliantly written and exhaustively researched, with a depth of detail going far beyond a simple biography.
The sheer numbers of men lost to simple mechanical failure, accident, or error staggered me. My grandfather was stationed in the Pacific with the B-25 Mitch the Witch. I couldn't stop thinking about what it must have been like. ...more