David Mitchell’s The Bone Clocks is an epic fantasy about a woman trapped in a battle between good and evil that transcends time and space. We first mDavid Mitchell’s The Bone Clocks is an epic fantasy about a woman trapped in a battle between good and evil that transcends time and space. We first meet Holly Sykes as a runaway teen trying to escape the sting of her first breakup. Holly’s runaway plans are complicated by a series of mysterious encounters that setup a tale that spans six decades. The story is told through a series of short character studies from people who are somehow involved with or touched by Sykes.
Much of the novel reads as a drama with a few fantasy elements peppered in, but there is always this sense of something big about to unfold. That persistent tension and some very well-drawn and realized characters are what keeps the story moving forward. It’s not until around 2/3rds of the way through that the book really opens up into full-fledged fantasy, at which point the seemingly disparate pieces fall together.
While the story eventually does come together, some of the earlier pages are a bit slow. The writer character, in particular, is almost pointless and his meta references often drew me right out of the story. That entire section could have been cut with minimal impact to the story.
The end also feels tacked on. It feels like it is there more as a way for the author to moralize than anything else. It does, ultimately, lead to a comfortable resolution, though.
The Bone Clocks isn’t light reading. While it has fantasy elements, at its core, it is a deep character drama that explores the way we are all interconnected. Sykes matures from a bratty teenager to an elderly grandmother in a way that rings true for anyone, no matter the genre. If you remove all of nightmares and illusions, you’re still left with an interesting story about a woman who endues heartache and loss and still finds ways to become a better person.
Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review through the Amazon Vine program....more
When a young woman is abducted from a seedy sex club and subsequently tortured on the internet in front of millions, Kat Tapo, Holly Boland, and DanieWhen a young woman is abducted from a seedy sex club and subsequently tortured on the internet in front of millions, Kat Tapo, Holly Boland, and Daniele Barbo reunite in a race to find her before the torture ends in tragedy. The Abduction is the second installment of the Carnivia Trilogy. This book deals with themes of sexual abuse, torture, clashes between the US military and local forces abroad, and church corruption. If that sounds familiar, it is because it is. The story continues many of the same themes that began in The Abomination.
Daniele Barbo is surprisingly the most interesting and sympathetic character of the group. He's also the only character who exhibits any real growth. Both Holly and Kat are stagnate in their struggles with the same issues they had in the first book.
While much of the book is well-written, the bad guy's dialogue is shockingly bad. This was also true in The Abomination, but there wasn't enough of it there to distract from the story. In this installment, there is a lot of bad-guy dialogue and it's even worse than before--cliched and ridiculous.
The plot moves along quickly and this is a fast read, but there are a few breakthroughs that develop from coincidences in a subplot that just doesn't ring true. The Abomination was richly plotted and the story grew in an organic matter, but The Abduction seems to take more than a few shortcuts.
The Abduction isn't necessarily bad, but it feels like it is just a lazy version of The Abomination....more
Jonathan Holt's THE ABOMINATION is a difficult one to pin down. It's richly plotted, expertly researched, and sharply written. Holt juggles myriad ploJonathan Holt's THE ABOMINATION is a difficult one to pin down. It's richly plotted, expertly researched, and sharply written. Holt juggles myriad plot lines and reams of characters with ease. Mysteries upon mysteries unfold for the reader in a careful, well-manipulated manner that lets the reader speculate right alongside the characters without getting too far ahead or behind them. All of these things are great. What holds it back, however, is this sense of ick at its core. For his part, Holt tries to create strong women fighting a triumphant battle against deep-seated misogyny, but that is all undercut by the misogyny in the writing itself. Holt manages to hit the grand slam of strong female stereotypes: the slut, the bitch, the (presumed) lesbian, and the rape survivor. Furthermore, the two women at the center of the story are both young, attractive women who were just waiting for wizened men of authority to come along and woo them into better version of themselves. Holt decries the inhumanity of rape, but throws in an attempted sexual assault against one of his main characters for sheer entertainment.
This book is well-written and entertaining, but it also feels like it was written for a different era. It's trying to be thoughtful and progressive, but really it is just reinforcing tired stereotypes and using rape as entertainment....more
Part psychological thriller, part dystopian fantasy, Spark: A Novel is an exciting, fast-paced book set in a future where the government controls everPart psychological thriller, part dystopian fantasy, Spark: A Novel is an exciting, fast-paced book set in a future where the government controls every aspect of life and corporate greed has created an underground economy that operates on its own set of rules. Jacob Underwood is a man with a rare psychological condition that makes him the perfect "enforcer" in this new economy. Underwood is an emotionless and methodical assassin, until something goes wrong on one of his jobs and his world begins to unravel around him.
John Twelve Hawks creates a rich and believable universe for Underwood to play in. Hawks avoids flowery and bloated descriptions in favor of a writing style that is as precise and methodical as his lead character. Each word is perfectly chosen to create maximum impact. Every element of world-building and exposition serves to not only shape the environment, but also to provide subtle insight into Underwood's character. The result is a story that moves quickly and effortlessly from the first page to the last.
Underwood isn't really a good guy or a bad guy, he's neither hero nor antihero, he just exists. We can't exactly root for him, but we can't really root against him, either. The assassins misdeeds are many, yet Hawks manages to make him sympathetic.
At times the violence is a bit graphic, but it never reaches the level of senseless gore. There are a few disturbing images, including some animal cruelty, but it passes quickly and serves a purpose to the plot. Beyond these bits of violence, the book is surprisingly tame. There's no gratuitous sex or language--there's simply no room for it.
Spark: A Novel is an absolute must-read for anyone who enjoys thrillers or mysteries. Despite a bit of graphic violence, it should be appropriate for teenagers and above.
Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from Amazon Vine in exchange for an honest review....more
I received this book free in exchange for an honest review through the Amazon Vine program.
In Egg and Spoon, Gregory Maguire takes a classic tail of mI received this book free in exchange for an honest review through the Amazon Vine program.
In Egg and Spoon, Gregory Maguire takes a classic tail of mistaken identity and weaves it together with Russian folklore in interesting and unexpected ways. At the center of the story are two young women: a city girl borne of privilege and a country girl suffocating under the weight of poverty and loss. Their paths crisscross and collide as they make their ways through this tale.
Maguire gives us several strong female characters throughout this book. Not only do we get two female leads, but we also get a menagerie of interesting women who guide them along their respective paths. Unfortunately, the two leads, while charming and interesting, are rarely ever proactive. They are both pushed and pulled through the story and show little initiative.
Meanwhile, Baba Yaga, an old witch written as a secondary character, tends to take over the story and guide the plot more than anyone else. She's charming and intriguing, and it seems Maguire has much more affection for her than his leads. Her arc is poignant and ultimately satisfying: it feels like this story really wants to be about her.
While the story has moments of brilliance and some edge-of-your-seat excitement, the plot is a bit muddled and drags through the middle. There are a lot of missed opportunities to develop the two young women, to show them taking control of their lives, and to earn the connections they later have with the ancillary characters. The book cheats a little in this regard, as these characters grow in ways both expected and unexpected, but they never really earn it.
Despite its flaws, Egg and Spoon is worth reading. It provides an intriguing introduction to Russian folklore that could spark a reader's interest in other stories. It may, however, lack enough excitement to keep younger readers interested....more