The story had a good plot and a good premise, but the writing was bad enough to be distracti...moreGoodreads prompts me, "What did you think?"
"Meh," I reply.
The story had a good plot and a good premise, but the writing was bad enough to be distracting. It didn't need to be three books. The second book didn't need to exist at all and if you took away all of the incessant review of everyone's thoughts and feelings (which were often so redundant you can't help but believe they were only there to increase the word count and justify the three-book length), then the story would have fit nicely into one novel. I do wonder how they'll manage a movie with all that endless inner dialog about what people are thinking and feeling in the second and third books.
To be fair, I am also reading "The Half-Blood Prince," out loud to my kid and she is reading "The Last Unicorn," to herself, which I loved so, so, so, so much that I sometimes read pages over her shoulder, so this series had to compete with two masters of juvenile literature and its shortcomings were glaringly obvious in comparison.
It's one of those stories that you wonder what it would have been like handled by Lois Lowry or Stephen King or Neil Gaiman or JK Rowling. (less)
I will wait until I have finished the whole series before writing a detailed review.
But... while this book gets big points for a good premise and a mo...moreI will wait until I have finished the whole series before writing a detailed review.
But... while this book gets big points for a good premise and a moving story, the writing is entirely functional and not remarkable in any way. And, I do think that maybe sometimes a lot could have been brought to light with some simple dinner-time chatter that happens in families, like, "Hey, so what's Grandma like, I can't help but notice WE'VE NEVER SEEN HER BEFORE, so I can only assume you maybe aren't from here?" and stuff like that.
But, the plot has me diving into the next book right away, so don't bother me now, I'm reading Insurgent. (less)
I loved this book. And I hated it. That's right, I hated it. I hated it because after something like this, how can you write something anyone would wa...moreI loved this book. And I hated it. That's right, I hated it. I hated it because after something like this, how can you write something anyone would want to read? These books are so unique and the voice is so clear and you're just taken away, so sucked into her world, how can you muster up the confidence to put pen to paper and believe that you can accomplish anything worth reading? You know eventually, you'll be standing there with your own little novel in in your hand, still begging people to just go read the Claire DeWitt books.
Claire is not Kinsey Millhone. She sure as hell isn't Nancy Drew. And, while she isn't Sherlock either, I'd give anything to see the look on his face after he spent some time in Claire's company.
I wouldn't want to know Claire, unless of course, someone I loved has been murdered or taken, in which case I'd want her to be my best friend and have her solve the mystery, sure that in the end I'd known the truth all along but somehow forgot. She's smart and devoted and self-destructive and crazy and she has conversations like this one, on page 223, with her assistant, Claude:
"Because we trust one thing," I said, wondering if if a small black cat was running around the apartment or if I was seeing things. "And only one thing, ever, and never forget this okay? There's only one thing that you can trust. You know what it is, right? Tell me you know what it is. Tell me you get it. Because if not, I don't know what I'm doing here."
"The clues," Claude said. "We trust the clues."
"Yes," I said. Worlds were born and spun and crashed before my eyes. "Yes. Yes."
"And you," Claude said. "I trust you."
"No," I said. "Don't. Never trust me, or anyone else. We're all assholes. Especially me. Only the clues."
The book wasn't perfect. She overused "vintage dress" to the point where I thought I would scream if she said it again. Then she did say it again and I took my threat to social media, hoping for sympathy and got none. There was also liberal use of "vintage furniture" and one "vintage cup." I guess there really is no adequate synonym for "vintage," but still, we got it, all the shit was wholly and entirely vintage.
It was forgivable, because of things like this from page 87:
Something knocked around in my brain. It almost came to the surface but then fell away, dissolving back into the currents of grocery lists and half-read books and misconceptions, the sad little graveyard where thoughts go to die.
When someone writes a sentence like that, you forgive them for not putting more effort into finding other words for "vintage," right?
And 169: "We're actually here because we're detectives," Tabitha said. I bristled a little at the we. "Not cops. Private eyes. My friend here is investigating a murder case."
The women's eyes widened.
"Like Forty-Eight Hours Mystery?" the white woman said.
"Exactly like that," I said and tried to sound serious and sane like someone on Forty-Eight Hours Mystery.
"Or that other one, the black woman said. "The First Forty-Eight."
I nodded and tried again to look like someone on a TV show who wasn't the villain. Or the victim. or the disturbed witness who you believed only because she didn't seem competent enough to come up with a lie.
So, you should read the book. Read the first one first, of course and then this one. Maybe make a game out of it, in the spirit of Claire, every time you see the word "vintage," maybe snort a prescription pain pill, or check the curl of sin and the Gypsy swirl on your fingerprints with a magnifying glass, or you know, go solve a mystery, like "The Case of the Teenager's Missing Snow-boot."
I'd actually give it a 3.5 stars, but I'll round up to four since that isn't an option.
I liked the story, I liked the characters and the premise... u...moreI'd actually give it a 3.5 stars, but I'll round up to four since that isn't an option.
I liked the story, I liked the characters and the premise... until all the Justinian crap. I thought that cheapened the story and prevented her from delving deeper into minds of all the other characters -- who I felt the story was really about. It would have been a whole and unique story with Patrick, Caro, Mike, Verna and Layla and all their complexities. It didn't need to go there with Justinian and his people. I was disappointed that it did.
When I remember this book, I will probably edit Justinian out of my memory and wish that she'd dug more into the other characters. That would have made it incredible. (less)
It had flaws, but even the flaws kind of added to the whole weirdness of it. It was completely different from anything I've read. T...moreI loved this book.
It had flaws, but even the flaws kind of added to the whole weirdness of it. It was completely different from anything I've read. The voice was fresh and odd and entirely unique and I can't wait to read more.
Like so many books I love, I find myself at a loss for what to say about it, other than just read it. It's great. (less)
It was just perfect. So quintessentially Gaiman-y and not a single word too many or too few.
My only regret was that I wasn't able to read it in one s...moreIt was just perfect. So quintessentially Gaiman-y and not a single word too many or too few.
My only regret was that I wasn't able to read it in one sitting. I had planned poorly and started it too late to finish the first night. Then I got busy the second night and again, didn't leave enough time to finish it, so I ended up needing three sittings to complete it. I would have liked to have read it through uninterrupted. So, plan better before you read it. It's only 178 pages, give yourself however much time you need to read that many pages. (less)
This is the longest work from Mr Hill by far and more words written by Joe is only a good thing.
It wasn't my favorite work of his, though. I love his...moreThis is the longest work from Mr Hill by far and more words written by Joe is only a good thing.
It wasn't my favorite work of his, though. I love his short stories so much. All of them. If you haven't read 20th CENTURY GHOSTS yet, you need to do that right now. My favorite novel of his is still HORNS. This is my second favorite novel.
The thing I admire most about Joe's works is the way he reveals so much humanity in them. He just bares the human condition and it's both heartbreaking and full of hope. In the acknowledgment section of NOS4A2 (which you must read or suffer the consequences he has prescribed), he says that his mother read a draft and told him that the last chapter would not do and that he had to rewrite it. I'm glad that happened because it was that last chapter where I felt the trademark Joe Hill sucker-punch to the soul. Not that the rest of the book wasn't good, but it was while reading that last chapter that I had to put the book down for a moment to breathe and wipe my tears away to finish the book. Those last eight pages nailed it.
This also proves that you should always listen to your mother, which is another fact of the human condition.
It's hard for me to write about the book by itself without pulling in other elements around it. Joe has said (paraphrasing) that he creates characters and then throws them into situations and writes around that (maybe that's really bad paraphrasing, you can look up the actual statement, it's around the web). I've always felt he was more of a character-driven writer than a plot- or situation-driven writer, though. This book reinforced that belief for me. I felt that all the characters were incredibly fleshed out with distinct and unique voices -- except for Vic. I follow Joe on Twitter and read the things he puts on his webpage and Vic's voice sounded a lot like Joe to me in her word choice and phrasing. But, I found that endearing. I liked it that this particular character might be Joe Hill's Mary Sue. I haven't noticed that in any of his other works.
The plot was excellent. Genuinely scary. I already hate Christmas for a whole bunch of reasons, so it was fantastic to have yet another reason to despise that overinflated holiday. The bad guys were really bad, but also human. The good guys were really good, but also human. Obviously, I use the word "human" to describe their experience, their feelings and history and not necessarily their corporeal selves. The characters were the kind you miss when you finish the book. You miss the book so much as soon as you're done that you're thrilled there's more to read in the form of the acknowledgements and then you even read the bit about the typeface and guess what? It's worth it. Read the bit about the typeface. You'll be happy you did.
In the acknowledgments, Joe talks of going on a bike ride with his dad and says, "I guess I have been cruising his back roads my whole life. I don't regret it." There is truth in that, sure, but it's also true that Joe has absolutely paved his own way and dominates the genre with his own style and skill. I always look forward to more words from Joe Hill.
And on my shelf to read is JOYLAND by his father. And then DOUBLE FEATURE by his brother. And then SAVE YOURSELF by his sister-in-law And then DOCTOR SLEEP (the sequel to THE SHINING) also by his dad.
But, first I'm going to read THE OCEAN AT THE END OF THE LANE because I feel the need for some Gaiman in the midst of all this Hill/King/Braffet literary treasure.
I just finished The Casual Vacancy, you know, that book for grown-ups by JK Rowling. And, as the result of a happy coincidence, I had been reading Har...moreI just finished The Casual Vacancy, you know, that book for grown-ups by JK Rowling. And, as the result of a happy coincidence, I had been reading Harry Potter to Lovely. The second half of The Sorcerer's Stone and the first half of The Chamber of Secrets overlapped with when I was reading The Casual Vacancy.
It was interesting to read these books together. First off, I have never re-read Harry, so that in itself has been really fun. But, reading them alongside this new book couldn't help but cast shadows from each onto the other.
Aside from some similarities with phrasing and word choice, you wouldn't immediately know the books were written by the same person. But, the big thing they both have in common is their unforgettable characters. It's completely obvious and in your face in The Casual Vacancy, since the backdrop is a quiet, sleepy little English town. The characters are what the story is about. She takes them to places that shock and disgust you and also to places that make you cry and cheer. There were passages in that book that were so beautiful I wanted to hang them on my wall in a frame. But, you know, when you take away Voldemort and Hogwarts and the epic battles and flying brooms, what you have is a book driven by characters who you likely will never forget.
When I flipped the last page of The Casual Vacancy (through my tears), I wished the book had been magical and I could have gone back to the first page and started a new chapter with a whole book of their tales ahead of me. So, it turns out that she wasn't a (seven-in-) one hit wonder, she's just a really talented writer.
I read the first few chapters of this book and it was just too heavy for me right now. I flipped through, read some middle chapters and then read the...moreI read the first few chapters of this book and it was just too heavy for me right now. I flipped through, read some middle chapters and then read the ending and am satisfied with my decision to not read this book. I can't really critique it. The writing is good, the plot is unique, but it's just not for me. (less)
Oh, I loved this book. It was Men in Black and The Bourne Identity and the X-Men and some Memento and maybe a little of Sue Grafton's Kinsey Millhone...moreOh, I loved this book. It was Men in Black and The Bourne Identity and the X-Men and some Memento and maybe a little of Sue Grafton's Kinsey Millhone Alphabet Mysteries and a sprinkle of Harry Potter with a kick-ass heroine who has an unpronounceable first name. It was all those things and it was completely original. Reading it on the heels of Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, I could say that this is what the Miss Peregrine book wanted to be, but the truth is, this is what I think a lot of books want to be and either totally fall flat or just kind of leave you feeling very unsatisfied, shrugging and going, "Meh. It had a good premise, but..." That doesn't happen with this book, it follows through with its premise and is a ton of fun from start to finish.
So you should read it. It's just simply awesome. I'm not going to say anything else about it because I don't want to give anything away.
I will say, however, that I loved, loved, loved that there was a character named Gestalt. Gestalt is like my most favorite word/psychological theory ever and personally, I get giddy whenever I find a way to use it in conversation, when the word "Gestalt" is the perfect word and I get to say it aloud. So having a character named Gestalt made me really happy when I couldn't pronounce "Myfanwy" and just gave up after a while and called her "M-WTF" in my head. (less)
I was really disappointed by this book. It started out with a big bang and had a really good premise, but then it all just fell to hell, becoming a cl...moreI was really disappointed by this book. It started out with a big bang and had a really good premise, but then it all just fell to hell, becoming a clown car of horrible sadists who just kept parading out of the story in a never-ending line, doing the most awful things imaginable. I'm no horror novice and it takes a lot to shock or offend me, but it was just the multitude of sadists in this book which was so off-turning. Like there are all these terrible murderers and torturers around every corner.
I thought the plot was flimsy and unbelievable. It seemed like the whole thing was created for the purpose of being able to showcase the torture scenes.
I also have to believe that the authors don't really have an accurate grasp of the mental health system. I realize that this takes place in Sweden, not the US, but I can't imagine they don't have similar checks and balances over there which would have prevented the whole mess from happening in the first place.
It reminded me of a Tami Hoag book. I know, she does well for herself. If you like her work, you'll probably like this. I just didn't care for it at all.
Like pretty much everyone else, I liked Beat the Reaper more than Wild Thing. But, that's not to say this book wasn't a ball. It was a big, flaming, c...moreLike pretty much everyone else, I liked Beat the Reaper more than Wild Thing. But, that's not to say this book wasn't a ball. It was a big, flaming, crazy ball of fun. Like being on a Tilt-a-Whirl, spinning circles inside spinning circles and then you're so sad when the ride slows down and you know it's about to end.
It maybe could have been tighter. The plot maybe could have had more direction. But, regardless, it sure was fun.(less)
I loved this book so much, but there isn't a lot I can say about it without being too revealing.
First of all, I read this book during an unus...moreOh, Lev.
I loved this book so much, but there isn't a lot I can say about it without being too revealing.
First of all, I read this book during an unusual and emotional time in my life, and it turned out to be exactly just right. I really looked forward to getting into The Magician King and floating around in it each night before going to sleep. The characters' insights and expressed feelings were eerily close to mine, despite their actual situation being so vastly different. It was one of those therapeutic reads that comes along when you need one.
I've been a fan of Lev Grossman since Codex and it was so much fun to read this book and see how his writing has evolved over the years. He completely nailed it with this book. It was perfectly written. The humor, the sadness, the whole range of emotions was addressed perfectly dead-on. The storyline was handled more expertly than his previous works, too (and well, those works were pretty damn good as they were).
So, you should read it. You should read The Magicians first, if you haven't already, and then you should read this. You'd be stupid not to. And you're not stupid, are you? ARE YOU?(less)