As an origami enthusiast and avid reader, I really wanted to like this book, and I went in with low expectations. Unfortunately it still managed to di...moreAs an origami enthusiast and avid reader, I really wanted to like this book, and I went in with low expectations. Unfortunately it still managed to disappoint me quite a lot.
The concept is vaguely interesting, and normally I give a book a token star just for a clever idea, but this one was not well executed. As a competent folder, I was disappointed by the trivial examples used in the book (even many of those used by the master paper magician). I would expect anyone who chose to write a book dealing with origami to have seen something like Robert Lang's masterful work, which demonstrates that incredible models can be created even from a single piece of paper (the few exciting paper sculptures in the book are all described vaguely and comprised from multiple sheets).
Setting aside my origami background and evaluating the book purely on its literary merits does not improve my opinion at all. The characters are so shallow and poorly developed that I found myself disliking them all by the end, not because they were unlikable, but because their actions and opinions were never backed by any kind of evidence. I found their decisions jarring and unrealistic. (view spoiler)[ When Ceony arrives at Thane's home, she finds him quite strange. However, the reader is expected to believe that in the course of a few weeks (during which even disappears for an extended period), Ceony falls so deeply in love with him that she's willing to risk her life for him? By this point I was starting to write my own explanation in my head. Maybe his death would mean the end of her apprenticeship and magic career, so she goes gallivanting off to save him for her own sake, and only starts to develop feelings as she traverses his heart. But no, the book won't even let me insert a bit of realism, because by the time we end the story, he's just as smitten with her, and everyone will live happily ever after.
The love story in general seemed contrived and forced. It almost felt condescending, as if one can't possibly read a piece of paranormal fiction with a female protagonist that doesn't involve romance. I read the initial chemistry between Ceony and Thane as fatherly, especially given his clear role as mentor. Without much build-up at all, the introduction of the romantic element was extremely uncomfortable to read, since I had already placed the characters into a completely different context.
The framework for a lot of the character development seems to be there, but it's never filled out. Why did Thane put up the scholarship money for a complete stranger? Why is Ceony so intent on bonding with metal and creating enchanted bullets? These seem like they would be interesting insights into who these characters really are. (hide spoiler)]
I kept feeling like I picked up this book in the middle of a series, and I was expected to already know the characters. The author never introduced us, and none of my background questions were ever answered. In fact, I set the book down with less than one page to go, and I had no idea that I was so close to the end, since so many questions remained.
My other major criticism is that the attempt at historical fiction was incredibly distracting. The attitudes, dialogue, and situations were all so anachronistic, that aside from an occasional reference to carriages and telegraphs, the book read as completely contemporary. I simply don't understand the point of trying to place it into a historical context at all. The overall story would have lost nothing by being set in a modern time frame, and it wouldn't have suffered from all the awkward "Wait, isn't this supposed to be Victorian London?" moments.
Overall, the book seems like an unfinished first draft. It feels like there are huge sections missing, and it has not yet passed in front of an editor. It would never be a great book (the plot is too trivial), but it could have been much better.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
2014 re-read: Most dystopian novels focus on a post-apocalyptic society, but Huxley presents a future where society itself chooses its path. Setting as...more2014 re-read: Most dystopian novels focus on a post-apocalyptic society, but Huxley presents a future where society itself chooses its path. Setting aside the science and looking only at the social structure, is it so far-fetched to imagine a future where people choose endless pleasure, youth, and instant gratification over self-denial and intellectual pursuits?
Ignorance is bliss. If we were never exposed to art or religion, would we really miss them? I find it noteworthy that Huxley's narrative focuses on educated high-class characters. Among the gammas, deltas, and epsilons, one can imagine that they're satisfied with their situation, having been conditioned to it (both physically and mentally).
Although my job is mentally challenging, I enjoy it because it's something in good at. Part of that is my own aptitude and part is conditioning and training. I know that there are other (better paying) jobs that I am qualified to do but would not be as good at and therefore enjoy less. I can't help but wonder what a world would be like where everyone fell into the most appropriate niche.(less)
It seems a rare thing these days for a dystopian YA trilogy to end on a high note, but Cass wraps up her Bachelor/Hunger Games/Princess Diaries mash-u...moreIt seems a rare thing these days for a dystopian YA trilogy to end on a high note, but Cass wraps up her Bachelor/Hunger Games/Princess Diaries mash-up in style (fit for a princess, no less). Of course we all knew from Day 1 where this story was going, but in its third installment, the tale isn't completely obvious in how it's getting there.
It's still full of the frilly dresses and princess glamour one would expect, but The One stirs in a bit more politics and responsibility than its predecessors. It's still a fairy-tale at heart, however, so don't expect any earth-shattering insights or scoff at its neatly packaged ending. For a light escapist read, it's quick and satisfying.(less)
Although Lafleur's first book could certainly benefit from professional editing, there's no question that she writes with a unique voice and a fantast...moreAlthough Lafleur's first book could certainly benefit from professional editing, there's no question that she writes with a unique voice and a fantastic sense of humor. At varying times inspiring, insightful, and informative, above all else her narratives make the reader laugh out loud and admire the strength it takes to find humor in some of life's most desperate situations.
I eagerly await her next collection and would love to see what she could produce with the help of a good editor.(less)
I love the concept of this book, and I appreciate the collection of different anecdotes, since everyone responds to things so differently. It's easy t...moreI love the concept of this book, and I appreciate the collection of different anecdotes, since everyone responds to things so differently. It's easy to make assumptions based on a single experience, and reading so many varied opinions and stories underscore the idea that everyone needs an individual approach.
The book does seem to have a noticeable bias towards alternative healing, which is not surprising, given that this seems to align with the author's preferences.
Overall, it was a short and thought-provoking book, but it's more of a title to read part of and keep on your shelf in case you need the rest. Unless you are very involved in a serious illness, it's unlikely that you would find all of the chapters useful.(less)