The Expected One explores the long untold story of Mary Magdalene. It follows a journalist as she begins to investigate that much maligned woman folloThe Expected One explores the long untold story of Mary Magdalene. It follows a journalist as she begins to investigate that much maligned woman following a series of visions that she believes are guiding her towards something--and finds out much more than she had anticipated, including her own role in the story that, after 2,000 years, is still being played out.
The story told in this book is an interesting one, although the writing wasn't the greatest. (Nor, however, is it the worst--it's merely simplistic and at times has too much monologue-as-exposition.) At any rate, it was interesting enough that I'm looking forward to reading the next book in the planned trilogy.
This book will inevitably be compared to The Da Vinci Code, because of their shared themes of ancient secret societies, intrigue and betrayal in Southern France, clues hidden in famous renaissance paintings, and the relationship between Mary Magdalene and Jesus. They have other similarities, including a lot of interesting ideas about history that are very tempting to believe (despite the lack of any need to cite--or even have--sources in fiction), and a writing style that belies more of an interest in telling a story than in creating high quality prose with any depth.
However, beyond these thematic and technical similarities, the two books tell very different stories. This one deals with fulfilling an ancient prophesy in this time, and also goes back 2,000 years to telling the story of Mary Magdalene's life, of Jesus and the apostles, and of the other people and events that surrounded them. That story is different from any others I've seen, has a very good message, and was worthwhile for me to read....more
I admit that I found this book to be entertaining enough that I wanted to finish it, and that--unfortunately--it's is definitely not the worst book I'I admit that I found this book to be entertaining enough that I wanted to finish it, and that--unfortunately--it's is definitely not the worst book I've read (although that's because I just read a truly awful book that was TERRIBLY written). I will also admit that there were items and ideas of definite interest in it. However, I cannot honestly say that it was at all good or that gave me any sort of satisfaction.
The writing in this book was not the best, but it wasn't the worst, and it wasn't the Dan Brown type of overly-simplistic prose--there was a style, it just wasn't particularly impressive. There were some typos and some misused words, but not so many that it made me angry. The world the author created was interesting, visually and in terms of the mythology, the history, and the way things were done, and in some ways it was well thought out. Unfortunately the workings of it and the magic in it it were unstructured and didn't seem to follow real rules. The teenage characters were, well, teenagers. They didn't have much depth and didn't behave very consistently, but they weren't too offensive, and their characterizations by the author weren't too bad. There were plenty of plot twists and huge reveals, but sadly there was not a single one that I didn't see coming from several hundred miles away. Usually I don't mind figuring something out before the characters, but this was too much. The dialogue was mostly interesting to read, although cliched, but was at times unnatural--sometimes I really felt like the author had set up a whole scene just to have a place for a line she thought up and wanted to use. Or a line she had heard somewhere else...in fact, the most problematic issue for me was how much of this story came from other stories; how much of it I recognized.
Clary Fray, a fifteen year old girl, discovers that she is not the mundane girl she'd always thought herself to be: she is a nephilim, has special abilities, and is part of a world with magic and creatures she never before knew existed, because her mother refused to acknowledge any existence of the supernatural. It turns out that within that world had been a dangerous group of people with the goal of trying to keep the world pure by wiping out all the Downworlders, the leader of whom was supposedly killed when Clary a baby, and her heritage was hidden from her for her protection. Unfortunately, it seems like Lord Valentine is back in the picture, and it's up to Clary and her new companions, other nephilim being trained to become Shadowhunters at the Institute (which is disguised from the sight of "mundanes"), to prevent him from getting what he needs to regain his power and complete his genocidal goal.
Hmmm, that sounds kind of familiar...a bit like Harry Potter. Wait, actually, it sounds exactly like Harry Potter. And amazingly, the similarities to Harry Potter don't end there: throw in a red-haired mother who sacrifices to protect her child, a flying motorcycle, a teacher who knew the protagonist's parents and their friends and a lot about "The Circle," parents turn out to have been with the bad guy but got off easy after his downfall, a conveyance that recklessly travels city streets--even driving right up and over cars--yet is bizarrely unnoticed, and a number of other things that are way to specifically spoilery to mention here. This basically IS Harry Potter, with a change of setting.
That's not to say that there aren't similarities in themes, ideas, characters, dialogue, and plot points to plenty of other books, movies, tv shows, et cetera. There are, and they are numerous and obvious. But the similarities to Harry Potter are too huge to go uncomplained about. It was ridiculous. I guess this shouldn't be too much of a surprise, since the author was a well known Harry Potter fan fiction writer before being published. I should admit that, having known that before reading this book, it's possible that I was actively looking for similarities to Harry Potter, but that doesn't change the fact that I found them--in, as you can see, spades....more
I had extremely high hopes for this (not expectations; I've been disappointed before). Spike is my favorite character from the Buffy-verse and from seI had extremely high hopes for this (not expectations; I've been disappointed before). Spike is my favorite character from the Buffy-verse and from several other 'verses besides--and hands-down the one I most want to look at a book full of pictures of--and it's not all because of how hot he is. I like his character, his personality, his attitude, the things he says, and yes, the depth of feeling he has always been capable of, soul or not. And I don't like it when he's written out of character, or misunderstood or not appreciated by the author. As I said, I've been disappointed before. But, thankfully, not by this. Not AT ALL.
This was Spike: The humor inherent in the way he talks and thinks, which here we were privy to. His interesting and unique (I hope) worldview. His passionate loyalty to the few people he allows into his world. His talent for both buttkicking and being tortured (if an tendency to attract torture--dare I say a propensity?--can really be called a skill, which in Spike's case I think it can). The leather coat. Lots of other little habits and quirks that are part of all that is Spike.
Plus there was the incredible cover, which I could stare at for a very long time (I'm so glad I waited for the softcover--even the clerk who rang me up commented on how great it looked). I also really liked the art inside, even of Spike, although I do agree with another reviewer that he could have been "cuter." One page in particular blew me away so much that I have a bookmark there and want to blow it up and frame it.
I should probably also mention the plot. It's great. Basically it's the story of how Spike, along with Illyria/Fred, came to find his place in the world of LA-gone-to-Hell and to collect his ersatz Scooby Gang. He meets people, some of them human and some less so. Some try to kill him, some try to have sex with him. Pretty usual for Spike. The first chapter was funny and a good set up for the darker story of the other three. The end is both a resolution and promise that Spike goes on....more
This book had a potentially interesting premise, and elements that would appeal to some people (namely teenagers) and might even be enjoyed by them. UThis book had a potentially interesting premise, and elements that would appeal to some people (namely teenagers) and might even be enjoyed by them. Unfortunately, I'm not one of them, and I didn't enjoy it, found it to be not particularly good, and thought its potential was wasted.
I haven't read any of the myriad of teen vampire romance books that have flooded bookstores of late. The idea of vampires being not-evil and falling in love with humans seems uninteresting, silly, and kind of distasteful to me (except for Spike and Buffy, of course). I usually prefer vampires, if there must be some, to be scary and evil. Then there's the teen romance aspect, which is even less interesting, and more silly and distasteful, to me than sparkly vegetarian vampires. But this book promised a different take on the genre, and I thought I'd give it a chance.
There were some ideas that were new and actually interesting, such as the main character's thoughts about the changes in language and in conversation as well as in culture that she'll have to adapt to after 100 years, and some ideas about vampire senses and bodies, and the differences between them and those of humans. These ideas had potential for interesting exploration, but ended up being disappointing as they either weren't taken further (she doesn't have any problem conversing with anyone) or just led to contradictions. Other potentially interesting ideas withered similarly.
The two biggest problems with the writing were: 1. The contradictions that abounded throughout, and 2. That it was full of telling, and had very little showing. Don't get me wrong, there was a LOT of description. Too much, in fact--often the characters' appearance, surroundings, clothing, possessions, and even hairstyles are described down to the smallest detail. It rapidly became extremely annoying. I appreciate that the author can see her story and her characters so clearly, but sometimes it's not vital for the readers to see exactly the same thing as the author. Imagining for oneself is part of the pleasure of reading, and part of what makes reading different from watching TV.
But there was very little showing. We're not shown why the protagonist, Lenah, feels the way she does about most of the characters that she likes (although her reasons for hating some characters are shown very well). Several times a character says something to Lenah, and we're told that it was funny and that Lenah laughed very hard for a long time, but we're shown nothing funny.
Then there are all the contradictions throughout the book. Sometimes vampires have souls, sometimes they don't. They don't have nerve endings, and yet they have sex (why?). Lenah has to tell one character about her past, for his safety, but she can't tell another character--for his safety (huh?). She's been asleep for the last hundred years and doesn't know about cars (although I'm pretty sure there were cars in 1910) but she knows what formica and burgers are. Her vampire soul mate at one point says he loves her for her viciousness, but at another is horrified by it. There are numerous other contradictions, but some of the larger ones give away too much of the story. Also, there are many, many contradictions in the characters' behavior, but this could in part be because they're teenagers. Maybe.
Another problem is the uneven pacing. First what seems like weeks turns out to have only been a couple of days, and then an entire month passes by almost undescribed (this is especially odd given that it's the month when Lenah really begins and builds her romantic relationship with her human love interest), and then the days once again seem like weeks.
Despite the writing flaws and my complete lack of interest in either the teen or the vampire romances, I was almost interested in the story about Lenah's transition from vampire to human. Then, late in the book, the story takes a turn that made the whole story I'd been close to being interested in seem pointless (and it came with a host of fresh contradictions). Eventually I was only reading this so I could be done with it and move on to something good.
As I was reading this book, I kept thinking that it seemed like the author's way of expressing her own goth and romance fantasies by creating this Mary Sue character who's so goth that she was actually a vampire. This may not be even close to true, but that's what it feels like. As such, this book might be enjoyed teenagers, particularly teenagers who like the supernatural. They might not care about the quality of the writing or the story and simply enjoy the teenage romance and the goth sensibilities. Unfortunately, this is not one of those young adult books that can really be enjoyed by adults, because of the quality of writing and because of the teen romance subject matter.
I had a hard time rating this book. When I started reading it, I thought it deserved three stars. As it got worse and I stopped liking it at all, I thought it deserved two, but two stars supposedly means "it was ok"...which I didn't think it really was. One star means "I didn't like it" and this is most accurate, but I do think it might deserve some points for its bits of originality.
I received this book from a contest through goodreads' First Reads program....more
I love Ender's Game as well as Ender Wiggin, and that book will always be my favorite of the Ender books, not to mention one of my all around favoriteI love Ender's Game as well as Ender Wiggin, and that book will always be my favorite of the Ender books, not to mention one of my all around favorites. That being said, I think this book is better.
This is the story of one of the supporting characters in Ender's Game, and as such a large part of it takes place beneath the surface and behind the scenes of what we already thought we knew. As for the new parts of the story, they were inventive, dramatic, fascinating, sad, and well written.
Ender's Shadow revealed dimensions of Ender's Game that fascinated (and some that kind of angered) me, it had many remarkable characters (some of which touched my heart and some of which chilled my blood), and plenty of dramatic events that made me rejoice or cry (and sometimes both).
I gave this book five stars because it was wonderful and it's also one of my favorites. I would probably even recommend it to people who for some reason can't or don't want to read Ender's Game for some bizarre reason, because I think it could stand on it's own. I really do love this book, and think it's excellent, and I really like Bean. But I love Ender, and I love Ender's Game more....more