Ok, so, this is Roberts working with familiar archetypes and storyline.
Trope wise, we have - the woman who's made a dramatic new change to her life - t...moreOk, so, this is Roberts working with familiar archetypes and storyline.
Trope wise, we have - the woman who's made a dramatic new change to her life - the [same] woman who came from an uncaring family and so is desperate for love - the composed and gorgeous witch/shop owner - the once-were-childhood-sweet-hearts-but-are-now-estranged couple - the cheerful and forever joking guy
Aaaaaaaand probably others that I'm thinking of.
Still, the characters feel fairly real in their own right. I enjoyed Iona's awkward babbling, being prone to that myself. Though it feels like a cheat to have a character just lay things out plainly, showing instead of telling.
I also have to wonder how Irish people feel about Robert's portrayal of their land and their culture?
In either case, I made in through this book fairly quickly, and enjoyed it a great deal -- which is ncie, because I haven't been too keen on Robert's recent works.
Oh, two other complaints.
It bothers me that she refers to the love interest as a pirate, and a "wild tribal horseman." The former is just plain ludicrous (HE OWNS A STABLE. THEY LIVE IN LAND. HOW IS HE A PIRATE??), and the former is vaguely racist.
It also bothers me how heternormative and honestly slightly homophobic that Roberts is. Be claiming that all women love men, since a beloved idiom of hers is "how every woman wanted a man to look at her" or some variation thereof, she completely erases any kind of queer identity. Furthermore, at some point in the novel, a character jokes that she and her female friends should be lesbians, because the women are all so pretty and great and then they wouldn't have to deal with men anymore!! *cue canned sitcom laughter*
Again, turning my sexuality and identity into a joke? Not okay.
Still, I realize that Robert's audience is likely cis-het women, and so that's who she's writing for. I just wish she'd be more considerate.(less)
I think the fault of the book is represented by the fact that when the female lead sees her love interest, she is entra...moreHooooooo boy. Where do I begin?
I think the fault of the book is represented by the fact that when the female lead sees her love interest, she is entranced by his ass.
And I'm not just saying this because I'm not a big ass person. But that seems pretty shallow, to reacted to what's supposed to be the love of your life with "DAT ASS."
Plus the way that the book endlessly punishes the woman is disgusting.
The backstory is as follows; they were teenaged sweethearts. When they were 21, he was like "Let's get married, have kids, and settle down." She replied "I'm not ready yet; I want to find myself and have a career. Wait for me," and left town.
DID HE WAIT? NOPE. He just turned around and married someone else.
Ten years later, his wife is dead of some vague infection, he's left with a son (BJ, and we never learn what the stands for), and she's back in town.
And somehow it's her fault for not taking him up on the offer, not him for trying to pressure her into marrying him. SIGH.
There's a ton of other irritating things (all the innuendo yet no sex scenes, overbearing religiousness when the book has no indication that we were entering bible belt territory, the fact that the author introduces drama in the last 50 pages only to IGNORE IT ALL with cheap payoff and going "GOD BLESS US, EVERYONE."), but I can't get past the misogyny directed towards the female lead for daring to want a career and an identity separate from a man and a wife/mother.(less)
Okay, so the biggest glaring problem with this book is Stephenie Meyer's morals. That is, the restriction she places on when it's ~appropriate to have...moreOkay, so the biggest glaring problem with this book is Stephenie Meyer's morals. That is, the restriction she places on when it's ~appropriate to have sex, and what she thinks the power dynamic in het relationships should be (hint: think Twilight).
But, you noticed I gave the book three stars so. Yes, I don't think it's that bad a book. It gets my hackles up when Meyer goes on about how it's such a big deal that she wrote a science fiction book without any space ships and that shows how little she knows about the genre and it's way disrespectful ugggggh.
The sex thing. Whenever the aliens try to talk about human relationships, there's this weird dancing around when it comes to physical intimacy. Later, one of our protags named Melanie wants to ~sleep with her bf Jared because ~she loves him. He rejects her, because she's 17 and he's 24 (that's another squicky thing, SMeyer seems to enjoy age gaps in her relationships), and because they don't have protection. Which, the second one makes sense, but c'mon, you'd think condoms wouldn't be that hard to get.......
My main point though, is that SMeyer handles sex super-awkwardly and poorly, it's always this elephant in the room. This doesn't work, because she's attempting to ~represent human relationships from a (literally) alien perspective, and fucks it . Which makes me wish she just didn't talk about it at all.
The second glaring issue with this book, as I've mentioned previously, is the power dynamics in the relationships. We're getting into spoilers territory here, so mind your step.
Okay, staring spoilers, now--
There's a scene part way into the novel when Wanderer (wearing Melanie's body) reunites with Jared. And he punches her in the fucking face. Wanderer, as you might expect, is freaked out and is thus wary of him. On the other hand, Melanie is so deliriously happy to see him again that she doesn't even care.
Then, the humans are trying to decide if they should keep Wanderer around, since her presence endangers their hidden settlement. So Mel's uncle, places "the body" under Jared's restriction. The logic being, is that Mel was "his woman" and therefore her body is his responsibility.
This is HER UNCLE talking. And Mel's brother is there too. (also her aunt and her female cousin but I guess they don't count??) So you'd think HER FUCKING FAMILY should have a say.
She's ~her man's responsibility. Ugh.
Of course, Wanderer is guilty of Mel's foibles as well. She's threatened (and maybe even hurt? I don't really remember) by brothers named Kyle and Ian. And I'm literally talking about them being like to Jared "if you turn your back on her, we're going to kill her."
She later falls in love with Ian.
And then Kyle nearly kills her. But because she feels that since she's an alien, and he's a human, he has more right to live in the settlement and denies that he tried to hurt her. Everything she says, trying to cover for him, sounds uncomfortably like a woman justifying/covering up domestic abuse. And the book is even aware that it sounds that way, but carries on anyway?
Oh, and in case you think I'm exaggerating about that earlier thing -- there's another kerfuffle over whether they should keep Wanderer around, and Jared yells that he owns her body/it belongs to him. This time, at least, her uncle points out that Mel's brother should have a say in the matter.
It makes me super uncomfortable that both women fall in love with men who were violent and/or physically aggressive and overly possessive of them. Ick.
Also, both Melanie and Wanderer [later dubbed Wanda] are Mary Sues. Wanderer's faults are that ~she has an aversion to violence and ~she works too hard (trying to prove she deserves to stay in the settlement) and ~she cares too much (there's a sickeningly saccharine scene where she sits up with a man dying of cancer, because when he's lucid, he wants her company, and when he's out of it, he thinks she's his dead wife.)
Oh, and Wanderer is even special and super respected within the alien community. She's hired to be a university prof, and she's known by a bunch of people because she's been to more planets than most of their species (she's been to 5, usually they go to one and settle there, not going anywhere else). They even met another host, who'd been on one of the planets that Wanderer's been, and she already knew who Wanderer was because she'd heard stories of one of W's exploits. Gag.
Meanwhile, Melanie is an extraordinary case because usually, when the host enters a human body, the human consciousness is overwhelmed by the new dominant personality and fades away into nonexistence. And nooo, Mel has the ~strength of will to ~fight back and can even gain control of the body at certain points.
Later, stuff happens, and Kyle finds the body of his past girlfriend. They remove the host from it, but the original human consciousness doesn't come back. So they put the host back in the body. She falls in love with Kyle due to the memories from the human, and he keeps her around... because she has his girlfriend's body? She's super timid and spends most of her time cowering behind Kyle. Bleh.
They find a new body for Wanderer, once Mel gets her back, and deliberately pick a girl who looks young, child-like, and innocent (so they can con their way into establishments run by the aliens and steal supplies). Wanderer wakes up in this frail, super young looking (she's 16 going on 17 but lies about turning 18 soon because otherwise Ian won't fuck her) body and that's supposed to be her happily ever after.
Another issue with the romance is that Wanderer decides Ian's her ~one true love. Out of the entire universe. And the hosts are immortal, so through ALL OF SPACE AND TIME, she'll only love him.
I get that there's this romantic ideal of finding your ~one true partner but. seriously. c'mon. I find that a bit hard to believe.
Oh! And when he does fuck her (in overly euphemistic language, of course), there's this line about how now "they're partners in the truest sense.
So yes, that's The Host. Men should own your body, you should be frail and meek and innocent looking. Uggggggggggggh.
The book is mostly interesting for the world building, and the dynamics and logistics of the human settlement because I'm a sucker for reading about apocalypse survival things. Definitely not the romance. Also I find it weird that it's apparently part of a trilogy? Please don't SMeyer. Leave it be. It's an easy enough read, though it's pretty long, and I found myself getting bogged down/having to put away the book and walk away or else I'd throw it out the window due to SMeyer's fucked up morals.
(I'm also curious to see how the movie turns out?? God, I hope it isn't as bad as Twilight; next thing we need is another major franchise making more money than it should, and convincing girls to find an older boyfriend who'll control her in unhealthy ways. *cringe*)(less)
This is the first James Bond book I've read; I have a passing familiarity with the character through some of the earlier movies, and a renewed interes...moreThis is the first James Bond book I've read; I have a passing familiarity with the character through some of the earlier movies, and a renewed interest in the franchise due to Skyfall.
It is this book that makes me question why such a franchise has become so deeply ingrained/well known in Western culture.
Published in 1954, the book is full of embarrassingly casual (and brutal) racism. A reflection of the times, no doubt, but still shocking and unsettling to read. As such, this review carries a trigger warning for racial slurs, attitudes, etc. Anything contained within quotations denotes itself as a direct quote from the book.
Twice the book mentions, with wonderment, about the progression of the "negros," and how they've produced their first major criminal. The effectiveness of the villain's scheme is attributed to "the fear of Voodoo and the supernatural, still deeply, primevally ingrained in the negro subconscious." Additionally cringe-worthy is the book's attempt to replicate the "dialect" of the people in Harlem, and in Jamaica.
The N word only appears a few times, but is used as part of a chapter title; "N- Heaven," which appears in the context of a white character repeating what he believes the people from Harlem call a club.
Dehumanization is present; The Bond girl, who of course can't be too black but is still a person of colour, is compared to a dog when he first sees her face -- "it was a sexy, pug-like face -- chienne was the only word Bond could think of." And the villain, Mr. Big, apparently has animal eyes, instead of looking human.
The friendly black characters in the book are always subservient and meek in their interactions with Bond, echoing the Uncle Tom archetype.
Of course, as one would expect from Bond, the gender politics are a nightmare too. It is interesting to see the anxieties of the Fifties, where it's such a scandal from a man and a woman to be traveling together.
Several times, the Bond girl, named Solitaire, is thought of as "the ultimate personal prize" to be won. Literally, as Bond needs to twice rescue her from the grasp of Mr. Big.
At one point, there is a surprising meditation on slavery. The driving wealth of the plot is a cache of gold coins in Jamaica, believe to be part of a pirate's treasure. In hiding it, the book muses how the pirate killed the slaves who did the work in order to eliminate witnesses. "The gold belonged to the black men who died to hide it. It should go back to the black men."
Depressingly enough, the book ends with the villain and all his minions dead, with the American and British government squabbling over who should have the gold.
Beyond the racism, and sexism, the book carries a brutal tone that is glorified or left out of the movies. One of Bond's accomplices on the mission is beaten and tortured so badly that his leg and arm must be amputated. And Bond isn't the suave, stoic man we often see on screen. He panics and is deeply frightened by a turbulent plane ride, with the threat of it crashing, and is daunted by the very real danger of swimming through a coral reef, surrounded by poisonous and predatory fish.
The prose at times was elegantly written, which makes me wish I could see Flemming's writing away from the neo-colonialism and sexism of the Bond series. However, at other times, it was overly detailed, as if the author did all this research on tropical fish and Voodoo, so he felt the need to shove all the details down our throat.
James Bond is part of Western culture, and can be used as a landmark. The book was written in the 50s, and carries the tone and bigotry of the era. When the novel was adapted as a movie, it "was released during the height of the blaxploitation era, and many blaxploitation archetypes and clichés are depicted in the film, including derogatory racial epithets ('honky'), black gangsters, and 'pimpmobiles'." (to quote the Wiki article on the film)
I think this can be used to question why such stories are so well known and ingrained within film/cultural history, and to continue to be critical of the series. The racial and sexual politics might not be so blatant, but I believe they're still present. (less)
I read the first two volumes right in the thick of my weaboo stage, but never got around to reading the last book. A rec...moreThis series has not aged well.
I read the first two volumes right in the thick of my weaboo stage, but never got around to reading the last book. A recently made acquaintance forced it on me the other day, and here I am.
The biggest flaw in the book, is how it expounds the virtue of Original English Manga. There's this one particular author who's used as a success story; best selling, mobs of fanS, they're turning her mangas into a movie!!
This angle is understandable, considering A) DramaCon is a OEL, and B) It was published by TokyoPop, the only manga company to bother with OELs.
Oh, and TokyoPop has since gone bankrupt and shut down operations in North America. Other OEL artists who got contracts with other companies, suffered similar fates.
So that only shows how dated the series is; it comes from a time when people genuinely believed they could get into the business. Now, as far as I know, it's more if you want your stuff published, build up a fan following online, and then go from there (See: Teahouse).
But I digress.
Other low points of the manga includes pairing up the only dark skinned characters (which is just... wat), overwrought storyline where a mom almost disowns her daughter for wanting to accept a publishing contract that she was offered, and the general "pocky is the best, lol yaoi" etc etc silliness of weaboo culture.
Also, the romance where she keeps getting mad at the guy for no reason and running away? And the awful art where a side profile of her face is just an eye + blank space + a point that's supposed to be her nose.
DramaCon is a series with very limited appeal, and I apparently fall out of it's target audience.(less)
The book switches between the POVs of the four main characters; while this helps to gain insight into said characters, it also breaks the flow of the...moreThe book switches between the POVs of the four main characters; while this helps to gain insight into said characters, it also breaks the flow of the narration in the most irritating way -- which ultimately, is the book's greatest weakness.
I'm puzzled by how the novel handles mental illness, though it gets kudos for portraying depression somewhat realistically, I guess.
The ending was sweet; it operates off the serendipity effect where even socially awkward computer nerds are able to form meaningful connections and have improbably lovely, life changing moments. I think it's my own bitter, biased cynicism that stopped me from being wholly won over by such sentiment.
My expectations for YA books like this are set by Sarah Dessen and John Green. So while this book was a light, entertaining read, it ultimately falls short of said expectations.
(If I could, I'd give the book a 2.5 star rating, because I'm torn between "some parts I liked," and "eh, it was just okay.")(less)
For the first story, I felt the romance was slightly one-sided. Or... she never really consents, I don't think. He's just like "I know you want this."...moreFor the first story, I felt the romance was slightly one-sided. Or... she never really consents, I don't think. He's just like "I know you want this." And that made me kinda uncomfortable.
But the secret agent bits were pretty cool, even if the ending of that plot-line was poorly handled.
Probably my favourite part of the second second was the guy grovelling for the lady to take him back. Because I enjoy some angst.
I do find it stupidly convenient that he has some kind of noble lineage, because really? =/ Just, why? It was totally unnecessary. (less)
So, the first story was pretty decent, and the second one had promise.
But what ruined the second story for me was how gross the romance was. The guy w...moreSo, the first story was pretty decent, and the second one had promise.
But what ruined the second story for me was how gross the romance was. The guy was overly aggressive, forcing himself on the woman, even admitting at one point that he wanted to rape her. It just felt like she didn't have much agency in their relationship.
Also, in both stories, there wasn't a good balance between the romantic plot, and the ~political intrigue.(less)
This is the second book I've read by Deborah Smith, and I didn't like it nearly as much as her other one. I mentioned earlier that I was having troubl...moreThis is the second book I've read by Deborah Smith, and I didn't like it nearly as much as her other one. I mentioned earlier that I was having trouble with the prose's pacing, and this problem persists through the entire book.
There doesn't seem to be any logic behind most of the character's interactions. What they say, do, and mean are often totally different things. The main character kept getting offended, and I never understood how the other people upset her so badly.
The romance wasn't very well done. They went from the "I reject you because we cannot be together" stage to the "emotional breakthrough" moment to the "TOGETHER FOREVER" stage far too quickly. I wasn't actually rooting for them to get together, because I wasn't given any reason to.
Also, it bugs me that the main character, Venus, had been in love with the guy since her childhood. And that she was a virgin/had no other relationships/"you're the only one for me!" I didn't find it realistic, and the idea that you're supposed to find your one true love as a child, and then hold a torch for them your entire life is... creepy, to say the least. This came up on Smith's other book too. I hope she doesn't carry on with this theme.
Oh! Not to mention the fact that one woman has her husband die in a traumatic accident, and then less than a year later, they're egging her on to hook up with someone else. Give the woman time to grieve, for fucks sake. It always sets my teeth on edge when characters go "Oh that was a few weeks ago WHY AREN'T YOU OVER IT YET." It also reeked of "EVERYONE MUST HAVE SOMEONE. TO BE ALONE IS TERRIBLE."
Finally, the politics and family trauma kept getting buried underneath the patriotism, sentimentalism, and creepy family history stories. I found myself skimming over the third lengthy family history lesson, clumsily conveyed through dialogue.
...Plus there were too many characters with similar sounding names. I kept forgetting who was who.
I did enjoy the surprise!lesbian couple, Venus bonding with a woman over their terrible fake hair-dos, and Venus' cat (I'm a sucker for a good animal sidekick).
So, yes. I enjoyed reading it, but it wasn't a very good book.(less)