Any parent would feel their heart ripped out if they answered a phone call like the one Curtis and Kathleen Kaufman received late one night. Their old...moreAny parent would feel their heart ripped out if they answered a phone call like the one Curtis and Kathleen Kaufman received late one night. Their oldest child Daniel, a musical prodigy at Oberlin College, was dead; a victim of a hit and run. With their young daughter, Olivia, the remaining Kaufman family members each grieve in their own ways. Kathleen attempts to keep the family moving forward so they can come to terms with Daniel’s death while Curtis withdraws into a bitter, angry shell and resists counseling. Olivia also withdraws, but she grows into an anxious teenager who keeps a Fear Journal; pages and pages of every little thing that might harm her: falling ceiling tiles, cars, random psychopaths. Daniel’s death has fractured the once loving family until the chasm opened so wide they grow psychologically, and then physically, apart.
Heartbroken and discouraged, Kathleen moves back to Omaha after Curtis and Olivia refuse to join her. The Fragile World is their story; a story of how a father and daughter attempt to continue their life together after their family has been shattered. Needless to say, their life is plagued with dysfunction. Curtis is numb and unable to parent, or even notice, his own daughter’s growing anxiety and loneliness. It is when Curtis decides he must do right by his son and murder the man responsible for Daniel’s death that the story gains momentum. With the unsuspecting Olivia and her Fear Journal in tow, Curtis travels across the country with revenge as the only way to heal his broken heart.
When I first picked up this book, I have to say I initially dreaded reading it as the topic sounded too depressing. Initially I was right. The beginning chapters were full of pain; no parent should have to bury their child. But, despite the motivation behind their journey, the chapters detailing the father-daughter road trip were sweet and the reader sees Olivia begin to make progress in overcoming her anxiety. The reader learns more about Curtis’ childhood and when he and Kathleen met and fell in love. It is these chapters that give the reader hope for the family’s future.
The author is a good writer and is able to capture the gut-wrenching pain of death and family dysfunction rather well. I enjoyed the book and would recommend it. However, I do have a minor problem with one part of the book that I will put at the end as it contains minor spoilers.
(view spoiler)[ MINOR SPOILER ALERT: While I did enjoy the book, finding it emotionally charged yet satisfying, I did not agree with the ending. This book was about choices: how each member chose to deal with their grief and each other. And I found no motivation behind the choice that all three members of the family made at the end. How Kathleen and Olivia dealt with Curtis’ choice made him seem all the more selfish to me. His reaction to Daniel’s death had him withdraw and isolate himself from the remaining members of his family and after learning more about Daniel’s childhood this reaction felt wrong. He did not want to become his father; he wanted to do right with his children and his wife. He should have been there for them after Daniel’s death and he should have taken responsibility for his actions at the end. That part felt wrong. (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
Having recently discovered Joe Abercrombie I am happy to report he still continues to enthrall me. And make me laugh. And cringe. And hold my breath....moreHaving recently discovered Joe Abercrombie I am happy to report he still continues to enthrall me. And make me laugh. And cringe. And hold my breath. And fall in love with the ugliest hero ever created. And root for the meanest, angriest female anti-heroine ever EVER written (the scar-sharing campfire scene clinched it for me). And physically duck down during battle scenes (no one writes a battle scene as well as this man). And laugh again. And cheer. And shout "noooooooo!". And then, dammit, Grim Harding, master of silence, even made me cry.
I have already downloaded Book 3 onto my Kindle.
I am now officially putting Mr. Abercrombie on my "Next Husbands" list. He stands in line with many other authors who make me come back to them again and again. (less)
The ancient Greek tragedies told the story of a basically good person who, through fatal error or misjudgment, experienced a downfall that produced su...moreThe ancient Greek tragedies told the story of a basically good person who, through fatal error or misjudgment, experienced a downfall that produced suffering and insight for the protagonist. The chorus would open the play with foreshadow and then reappear frequently throughout and finally end the play with their song as the protagonist accepts responsibility for his own fate with honor. The greats established this very simple method of presenting a play about humans and their tragic flaws and this template has maintained for thousands of years. Natalie Haynes, an obvious fan of Greek classics, has used this template in her debut novel, The Furies, to tell the story of a teacher who has suffered a tragic loss and is trying to restart her life by teaching the works of Sophocles and Aristotle to incorrigible high school students.
As with all Greek plays, The Furies opens with a prologue that piques the interest, giving away nothing of the story, and it reads in the form of a letter. Then, the book is broken into five acts with an epilogue. The “chorus” returns frequently in the form of diary excerpts from one of the students. The protagonist, Alex, an up and coming stage director has left London after a personal tragedy. Hoping to restart in the town of Edinburgh as a teacher at a school for problem children, Alex’s class work focuses on “dramatherapy.” The story mainly focuses on her class with five senior, “last chance” students; angry, lost children who have been through the school system multiple times and after graduation prison becomes their only option.
As the story advances, the reader recognizes that not only is Alex’s mysterious background driving the narrative but that there is another element as well. The story will subtly change from scenes at the school to scenes in a lawyer’s office and back to the school. The reader is left questioning: does it have to do with Alex’s past or is it something that happened at the school? It makes the story that much more mysterious. There are multiple instances of foreshadow but none so dire as when Alex says, “…no one was destined to die at that point”. And, like classic Greek tragedy, Alex sadly remembers the exact day of her “hamartia”; the tragic error, the simple mistake that leads to the final catastrophe.
In the beginning, Alex’s relationship with her senior students is sheer hell as they test and torment her. But, with her will and a handful of Greek plays, she notices a change in the dynamic that can only be measured in microns, but the transformation is there. Discussing the fates of Oedipus and Agamemnon and Electra, the students reluctantly begin to draw comparisons in their own lives to those in the ancient plays. One student prefers to write his papers about the tragic flaws found in video game characters but at least he is writing. Not all the students will be redeemed, some choose their own destistinies, and only one accepts full responsibility for their fate. It is a bittersweet moment that is necessary but still heartbreaking.
It’s a well-written novel that moves fluidly and the reader will receive a Cliffs Notes education in the ancient classics. It makes me want to go back and read the plays covered during my high school education. The last act is very different from the body of the book and is slightly jarring, but essential. The reader will grow attached to these flawed, viable people and want them all to have a happy ending like one of the characters prefers in any books she reads.
After I address how I felt about the polarizing ending of Ruin and Rising, I'm going to rave about how much I loved this book and the series as a whol...moreAfter I address how I felt about the polarizing ending of Ruin and Rising, I'm going to rave about how much I loved this book and the series as a whole.
While reading various fan reviews on Goodreads and Amazon, I saw that many readers absolutely hated the ending Bardugo chose for her main characters. No spoilers, but there were many fans that had hoped for a different ending for Alina, Mal,Nicholai, and the Darkling. To me, the ending made perfect sense. While reading the books, I recognized that while Alina felt driven to find the three amplifiers, she was also ambivalent about her life as a Saint. She wanted to defeat the Darkling and bring peace to Ravka, but she also missed the simplicity of her life before she discovered her Grisha powers. Despite her lifelong love for Mal, only the Darkling could be her equal. I loved the ending and it made me cry. I cried for the characters and I cried because I was going to miss the magical world of Ravka.
Now, for those searching for an absolutely delicious and addicting fantasy trilogy, please pick up Smoke and Bone, the first in the Grisha Trilogy. You will be hooked and, like me, absolutely devour it. Then, with your appetite craving more, you will ferociously search for a copy of Siege and Storm. Dying to know the ending for Alina and Mal and the compelling Darkling, you will grab Ruin and Rising, lock your door, turn off your phone and read until the bittersweet end. It's that good.
To me, Alina has always represented a victim of circumstance. Raised as an orphan, she came from nothing, and never expected hidden Grisha powers would make her the most powerful, and beloved, summoner in Ravka history. A polar opposite to the cruel, yet sexually compelling, Darkling, Alina fights her destiny. There are parts when she allows her greed in acquiring the immortalizing amplifiers that clouded her judgment. She is told that "like draws to like", so there are scenes when she finds herself erotically and powerfully drawn to the Darkling. And they are tasty.
Her relationship with Mal grows and comes to a mutual understanding with this last book. The second book left me depressed when they both basically turned their backs on one another, each refusing to accept the other's destiny. Her powers destined her for leadership; his talents destined him as a tracker and a soldier. It is hard to fight destiny when your heart is breaking.
Prince Nicholai, the swaggering, flippant, handsome pirate, I mean privateer, has some difficult choices to make in this book. He is also faced with a horrifying destiny that makes for an incredible twist.
The Darkling. I absolutely loved this cruel, manipulative, calculating, gorgeous man. He is one of those bad boys that make your conscience scream "Run away!" while you, and Alina, are unwillingly drawn to him. The reader is sucked in by his charisma and villain black garb. Just as like draws to like, he and Alina are meant to be together.
The final book ties up all loose ends concerning the firebird amplifier, the Morozova legacy, Baghra, The Fold, Alina, Mal, Nicholai, and the Darkling. What could be an incredibly depressing novel if it weren't for moments of human kindness and the power of friendship, Ruin and Rising is an incredible finish to a series I cannot recommend enough.
Where to begin? How do you sum up and end a story that begins in the magical city of Prague where an angel and a devil fall in love? No nitpicking, we...moreWhere to begin? How do you sum up and end a story that begins in the magical city of Prague where an angel and a devil fall in love? No nitpicking, we all know it truly began on the beach at Bullfinch, but that is not the point. What is the point is that the final book of the Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy is glorious, magical, and, despite the cascade of tears, ends…perfectly.
Laini Taylor’s much awaited Dreams of God and Monsters starts where the second book ended. The Dominion Army of Eretz has invaded the earthly world where they are revered as gifts from God. Angels from heaven. The second coming. The rapture. Knowing the true purpose of the evil Dominion leader, Jael, the Seraphim and the Chimaera are forced with but one option: combine armies of century-old enemies to fight Jael.
With Karou and Akiva working hard to bring the two groups to a détente, they have no time alone. Both are hurt by their past, neither is sure what to expect of their future. And the two lovers of two lifetimes have little hope they will ever be together again. A war is starting and nothing is sacred.
Taylor’s poetic prose takes the stories from Eretz and Earth to weave a beautifully written tale of love and war and two worlds. It’s like reading an ancient epic poem. Those who fell in love with Karou and Akiva and Ziri and Mik and the feisty little Zuzana will not be disappointed. You will fall in love with them all over again and you will miss them when you turn the last page and close the book. As Akiva tells Karou, “it’s magic”. (less)
In the distant future, after the world economy took a final nosedive, the government started to cut federal spending, pensions disappeared, education...moreIn the distant future, after the world economy took a final nosedive, the government started to cut federal spending, pensions disappeared, education became a privilege, and healthcare was non-existent. Punishment satellites took over police enforcement and delivered painful, or fatal, judgments from the sky. And the old, the infirm, even the unwanted children of society were dumped, just like the daily garbage deliveries, on what is known as the Island.
At age sixty-three, Big Guy, former mafia enforcer and now 10-year veteran of the Island, is nothing more than bag of bones, a shell of his former self, living in a shack built out of garbage. Whether it is old age or the nightly visits from the murderous hordes of drugged-out miscreants that rule the Island, Big Guy is ready to die. There is nothing to live for on this appallingly inhumane garbage pile, the “Nursing Home from Hell”. No one can leave the Island; the punishment satellites will prevent that. At night, when the fog rolls in and the drums start to beat, the inhabitants hide in fear from what they have come to accept as life. And just when Big Guy thinks there is nothing to live for, he finds hope in the strangest place.
When I first picked up this book, I was wondering if I could even finish it. It was bleak and depressing and old people were slaughtered with machetes. But then, I realized that whenever I put down the book I could not stop thinking about Big Guy and his friends. I started to care about them. I wanted to know what would happen next. Interspersed with scenes of carnage and fear, the author gives Big Guy, and the reader, little Easter eggs of hope. The result is a powerfully written, intense work of fiction that is a frightening look at what our future might hold.
Written in first person narrative, the book stands out from the countless dystopia novels on the market, as these main characters are “old”. There is no teenage angst or implausible exploits pulled off by someone barely old enough to shave. All the main characters bring intelligence gained only through time and experience. All bring a painful, sometimes dishonorable, history that enriches the story.
I’ve heard this is the first of a trilogy, but the ending easily leaves the reader satisfied. But, if the author is writing more about Big Guy, then I will read it because I want to know what happens. (less)
Where do I start? When I heard The Fault In Our Stars was a story about two teenagers with cancer, it sounded grim and depressing. I did not want to p...moreWhere do I start? When I heard The Fault In Our Stars was a story about two teenagers with cancer, it sounded grim and depressing. I did not want to pick it up, much less buy it. Strong recommendations from friends changed my mind.
I will never, ever, regret listening to my friends again.
This is not a story about two teenagers with cancer; it is a story about two teenagers who just HAPPEN to have cancer. It is honest and funny and sad and uplifting; it is almost impossible to explain. How can I, with my eyes swollen and reddened from bawling, truly explain to anyone that this book is absolutely beautiful? How can I tell my husband, a man who frequently deals with my tearful reactions to many books, that I am not depressed? Saddened, yes, but depressed? Not at all; I feel privileged.
The story of Hazel Grace, with her terminal condition that requires her to wear oxygen, and Augustus Waters, a boy who lost his leg to osteosarcoma but has an 80% chance of survival, will stick with the reader for days. And, you will definitely reread it again and again.
Regina Calcaterra's powerful memoir, Etched In Sand, begins with her flying over the ravaged neighborhoods of Long Island following the hurricane, Sup...moreRegina Calcaterra's powerful memoir, Etched In Sand, begins with her flying over the ravaged neighborhoods of Long Island following the hurricane, Super Storm Sandy. As chief deputy executive of Suffolk County, it is Regina Calcaterra's job to regulate, not just post-disaster funding, but any government resources her county receives. Calcaterra's career in public service is not accidental; growing up with four siblings and an abusive, neglectful, alcoholic mother and an ineffective foster child system, Regina was determined to make a difference. Despite the extreme poverty and constant abuse from her mother, a fragmented education and unpredictable housing, Regina was able to help raise herself, and her siblings, to become stable adults and parents. The story as to how Regina grew up to be the person she is today is candidly written and absolutely heartbreaking.
Regina and her older sister, Camille, were the true parents of the five children. Every time their mother, whom they all called Cookie, found subsidized housing in either a cockroach-infested house or even an apartment above a glue factory, they knew it was only a matter of time until the landlord would kick them out for not paying rent. Traveling from house to house using garbage bags to carry their clothing, a bottle of hydrogen peroxide to finger brush their teeth, a half bar of soap to wash themselves and their dishes, the girls were always on the alert to sneak out in the middle of the night when threatened with eviction. As most of their welfare checks went towards paying for Cookie's beer and cigarettes, the children learned how to shoplift food and live off of the kindness of strangers. And, sadly enough, whenever Cookie would eventually abandon them, sometimes for weeks at a time, the children found these days to be the most stable and enjoyable.
Cookie was a pill-popping, promiscuous alcoholic with five children from five different men. Her only son, Norman, was rarely the subject of her abusive tirades that included calling her four daughters "whores' and "sluts". Cookie would beat the girls, but for reasons then unknown to Regina, she received the more brutal and most constant abuse. Cookie even tied the four year-old Regina to a radiator for days. These parts of the book are disturbing and heartbreaking and make the reader wonder how Regina grew up to be the successful woman we are introduced to in the beginning of the book.
Knowing that if child protective services became aware of the neglect and abuse, and consequently separated into different foster homes, the children learned how to hide the bruises and effectively lie to teachers or social workers about their obviously absent mother. The foster system thirty years ago was inefficiently managed and the social workers were unbelievably incompetent. There were times Regina endured beatings, even sexual abuse, from some of the foster families. And when the children are finally taken away from Cookie and separated into different homes, Regina is able to become an emancipated minor at age fourteen. But then she learns the heartbreaking truth she no longer has any say as to what happens with her younger brother and sister.
As I was reading this book, I was frequently reminded of Jeannette Wall's memoir, The Glass Castle. Though Walls did not suffer any mental or physical abuse from her parents, they did share the same nomadic, unstable childhood of extreme poverty and hunger. The scene in Walls' book when, driven by hunger, she eats ate a cheese sandwich from the school garbage can is similar to Regina Calcaterra's dumpster diving and shoplifting in desperation to feed her four siblings.
Throughout Etched In Sand, the readers are able to see how Regina was able to keep herself and her siblings educated, sane, and loving. Fiercely determined to prevent other children from suffering the same experiences, Regina stays in school and becomes the first in her family to graduate from college. Her career in public service is driven by her experiences and dedication to make a difference.
Etched in Sand is written from the heart. It is disturbing, but uplifting, and it is a story about survivors of abuse, neglect, hunger, ineffective social work programs and the foster system in America. How these five children survived and eventually thrived is a story that must be told.(less)
Since their banishment from the insular underground tribe in the book, Enclave, and facing the loss of their new topside home, Salvation, Deuce and Fa...moreSince their banishment from the insular underground tribe in the book, Enclave, and facing the loss of their new topside home, Salvation, Deuce and Fade must travel the dangerous roads to the next town for help. With their companions Tegan and Stalker, they fight groups of Freaks and finally arrive at the military-style compound of Soldier's Pond. Deuce tells them the Freaks are changing: they appear to have communication skills, their attacks are more organized, and they are rapidly multiplying. With a group of soldiers, Deuce and her friends return to Salvation and find decimation, and few citizens have survived.
Recognizing that if the Freaks are evolving and building an enormous army, a horde, the humans must change as well. After centuries of passive existence, the humans have forgotten how to fight. Instead of hiding and protecting the towns from attacks, Deuce wants to build an army to meet the Freaks in battle. And to build this army, she must go to other towns in search of volunteers. In the past, only the traders have braved the roads between towns. With the maps left to her by her friend, Longshot, Deuce and her small group travel from town to town only to meet refusal and derision. No town is willing to take the risk for another.
Just as the fierce Enclave survived the underground with it's social ranking, and the topside Salvation was established through farming and faith, each town has it's own distinctive constitution. These differences are frustrating to Deuce, as the one thing they all have in common is their inability to see that the horde will soon overrun and destroy the humans. Using an idea suggested by Stalker, Deuce's small army establishes it's own tribe with surprising results. The Huntress receives recognition from not just the humans, and with this acknowledgment, her army grows. And so begins the revolution.
As Deuce builds her army, she must also rebuild Fade's trust. Since his kidnapping by the Freaks, he has become more withdrawn and skittish to her touch and understandably, he does not like her friendship with Stalker. Their relationship begins to evolve from the hunting partners of Enclave into leaders of the new army. But, as Fades tells her, she must be patient and slow with him as a partner. Each time they hold hands or she touches his face without him flinching is a victory to her. Their stolen moments alone are significant, and sweet.
With her army, the newly christened Company D, the humans fight battle after battle with the seemingly insurmountable numbers of Freaks. Exhausted, bloody, and hungry, Deuce fearlessly leads Company D to a town where they can safely rest and recuperate. Then, a shocking encounter with a stranger brings Deuce knowledge that can help end the war; but to accomplish this, she must make the ultimate sacrifice and compromise everything she learned as a brat, as a Huntress, and as a leader.
I have thoroughly enjoyed Ann Aguire's Razorland Trilogy. Her imaginative construction of a post-apocalyptic world of survival instincts, tribal mentalities, and fearsome Freaks is detailed and engrossing. Her main character, Deuce, is a strong-willed, kick-ass heroine with tenderness for her friends and foster family. Her relationship with Fade is multi-layered and constantly evolving. While Deuce may regard her friend Tegan as the curious learner, Deuce herself is able to learn, and to adapt. And it is these qualities that make her a strong leader.
It's a great trilogy with compelling characters, intense battle scenes, strong interpersonal relationships, some very sad moments, and a sly shout-out to Harry Potter. I highly recommend it. Enjoy.(less)
How well do you know your teenager? That is the question Kate Baron constantly asks herself after the apparent suicide of her only child, Amelia, who...moreHow well do you know your teenager? That is the question Kate Baron constantly asks herself after the apparent suicide of her only child, Amelia, who jumped off the roof at her school. A single mom with a high-power job as an attorney, Kate had assumed the two had a strong, open relationship, despite her late hours at work. Never truly believing Amelia would kill herself, Kate tries to accept her daughter’s death until the day she receives an anonymous text: “She didn’t jump”.
And it is when Kate begins to go through Amelia’s phone texts and her computer that she realizes her daughter was living a secret life even her best friend knew nothing about. Reading the frequent texts to a boy Amelia had yet to meet and discovering that the private school she attended allowed secret clubs, Kate is stunned at how far her daughter went to be accepted by the girls in her club, the Maggies. Kate is also heartbroken when she realizes her daughter was in love and had never told her.
Social media today is extensive and central to most teenagers’ lives; it connects them with friends, continues relationships and, unfortunately, it can also be used as a tool to bully. A blog by an unknown person at Amelia’s school cruelly exposes the students’, and teachers’, personal and sexual lives. Responses to Amelia’s Facebook statuses had grown rude and mean. Anonymous texts sent to her late at night are especially vicious. Kate is aghast at the amount of bullying her daughter had endured in the days before she died. She is especially stunned when she begins to receive hateful anonymous texts herself.
Cleverly recounted in two perspectives, the book has Kate’s third person narration begin with the day Amelia dies, and Amelia’s first person account of the events leading up to her death. Well written and never confusing, the book has twists, red herrings, and even some “aha” moments. And the reader will be saddened by the missed opportunities between mother and daughter that could perhaps prevented her death, if not stopped Amelia from making some of her more regrettable choices.
An intriguing book with engaging characters, Reconstructing Amelia exposes how far teenagers, and sometimes adults, will go for acceptance or love. It is also a unique conversation starter for the reader with teenagers because it will compel any parent to ask himself or herself: How well do I know my teenager? (less)
Walt Longmire is more than just the sheriff of the fictitious Absaroka county in Wyoming; he’s a renaissance man well versed in the works of Shakespea...moreWalt Longmire is more than just the sheriff of the fictitious Absaroka county in Wyoming; he’s a renaissance man well versed in the works of Shakespeare and Dante, an old soul, a loyal friend, a Vietnam vet, a straight shooter with a mean right hook, and a softie when it comes to the women in his life. I’m not sure if it’s Walt, or the author, Craig Johnson, or maybe both, but the books keep getting better and better.
Years ago, when I first read The Cold Dish by the then unknown Johnson, I knew I had found an author and a lead character that would keep me engaged with each new book. Johnson’s writing is clever with a wry sense of humor, multi-layered in context, and his novels are peopled with characters so compelling with their individual temperaments and personalities.
His latest novel, A Serpent’s Tooth, begins when Walt discovers a young boy has been living in Barbara Thomas’ pump house, periodically breaking into her home to raid the fridge and repair whatever she has left on her to-do list for him. When Walt catches up to the boy, Cord, he discovers more than just a young man cast out from the Mormon splinter group, The Apostolic Church of the Lamb. He finds intrigue involving big oil, big guns, cults, the CIA, a missing woman, the rather extensive Lynear family with their rather large patriarch, and a cipher of a man claiming to be two hundred years old, blessed with immortality by Mormon leader Joseph Smith himself.
Walt’s job is never easy.
Thankfully, he has his loyal right hand man, Henry Standing Bear, AKA the Cheyenne Nation, and his under deputy, Vic Moretti, a woman who artfully drops F-bombs while she steals Walt’s heart. Henry and Vic make a wonderful yin and yang with Walt in the middle. And when Walt begins to spend time at the jail to keep an eye on Cord and the two hundred year-old Orrin, Vic is jealous he is sleeping more on the office floor with Dog, the dog, than her house. Their relationship has definitely grown and taken a more passionate turn than when he first hired the displaced cop from Philly in the first book.
In true Longmire fashion, Walt is able to use his brains and fearless determination to rid his county of the murderous trespassers. And while the ending is dark and bittersweet, with an unexpected twist, I will never tire of Craig Johnson’s storied world of Walt Longmire and Vic and Henry Standing Bear and Dog. (less)
Like everyone else, I loved the first 2 book...moreSpoiler Alert*********************************************************************************************
Like everyone else, I loved the first 2 books: the female protagonist was strong and resourceful, the stories were clever and engrossing...but what on earth happened with the 3rd book?? It was almost as if this story had characters with familiar names, but completely different personalities. What is worse is I did not like any of these newly written characters. Katniss became weak and nothing more than a puppet that spewed a few angry diatribes aimed at the government and President Snow. And she did not get to display the skills and cunning that had made her so strong and thrilling in the first place. Gale, always loyal and protective, (I always rooted for Team Gale) did a 180 degree turn and became a hollow, uncaring militant figure. And Peeta, don't get me started on Peeta's character. I was very disappointed with how his part in the story was written. Whenever he was part of the story.
The deaths of Finnick and Prim, important driving characters in the first 2 books, died to add drama and angst to the story, yes, but they died in a couple of descriptive sentences. And then they mattered no more. What?
Why wasn't President Coin mentioned before this book? That might have made her appearance in the story less jarring. Otherwise, she was completely unnecessary and would had made more sense if written as an evil military figure.
Why on earth would Katniss even think to vote for another Hunger Game?? She was fighting the government to end them! How could it be revenge for Prim? Perhaps a distraction for Coin? I was not able to read Suzanne Collins' mind for that answer. It certainly was not in the book.
Then there's the ending. Gale goes off to another district with "a fancy new job"? Even if he and Katniss do part ways in the end, his former character would have gone home to rebuild District 12. It was hard to see how Katniss could marry Peeta after spending more than half the book ignoring him, fearing him or wanting to shoot him. The way this book was written, Peeta should have died. Plain and simple. His new character would have become a martyr. None of this makes sense.
I waited so long for this book and I knew it be bittersweet. But, dear God, I did not think I would be so annoyed and truly disappointed by it. (less)
In the beginning of Tana French's newest novel, Broken Harbour, the reader is told that this book, this case, will not end on a happy note. We are inf...moreIn the beginning of Tana French's newest novel, Broken Harbour, the reader is told that this book, this case, will not end on a happy note. We are informed that this textbook homicide is not the "dream case" Detective Mick "Scorcher" Kennedy of the Dublin Garda imagined it should have been. With that warning, so begins one of French's most psychologically complex, and tragic, mysteries yet.
Kennedy and his young trainee of two weeks, Detective Richie Curran, are sent to a new luxary housing development outside of Dublin to investigate the deaths of the Spain family. The dad, Pat, and the two children are dead; mother, Jenny, is undergoing surgery after being viciously stabbed. The development is in the village of Broken Harbour, now called Brianstown, and it holds deeply personal memories for Kennedy. His family used to vacation there every summer, the "happiest two weeks" of the year, until the death of his mother when he was fifteen. But, instead of the sleepy vacation hollow he remembers, it has become a ghost town of half-built homes abandoned by developers when the economy crashed.
The Spains were the perfect family. Pat and Jenny, once high school sweethearts, married and had two beautiful children; Pat had the perfect job, Jenny enjoyed buying the latest in fashion, they took extravagant vacations, owned two cars. Everything was perfect. Until the crash. Pat lost his job, they had to sell the SUV, and it turns out their dream home was shoddily put together by developers looking to cash in on the housing bubble. And Pat is starting to see signs of a predatory animal threatening his family.
Kennedy and Curran soon find that someone had been stalking the Spains, breaking into their house, even setting up camp in one of the abandoned homes next to theirs. When they catch the stalker and find enough evidence to convict him, they are congratulated for a job well done, shoulders are clapped, hands are shaken. Kennedy is impressed by Curran, he feels he's more than just a mentor to the young detective, that they have a partnership that can last for years and it's a feel good moment for the team; but the book is barely halfway finished. Like a Greek tragedy, the reader recognizes that this is the pride that goeth before the fall, this is the hubris of the tragic hero who must go undergo a change in fortune to achieve revelation.
As in her previous books, French has populated this story with characters that are more complex, and fragile, than they appear. Her characters are compelling and fascinating, making their fates that much more painful. Kennedy looks at everything as "black and white", but human nature is never that way, he should know this from his own life: his mother committed suicide and his sister, Dina, is "crazy as a bag of cats". The Spains may have appeared perfect couple to their friends and family, but why are Pat and the kids dead and Jenny mutilated? And why does the house have holes in the walls and baby monitors scattered throughout? Curran is the best partner Kennedy has ever had, but why does he feel the man is custody is not the murderer, and what does the young detective base this on? And why does Kennedy ignore the subtle, persistent alarms going off in his head.
Psychologically charged, beautifully and hauntingly written, Broken Harbour is an excellent police procedural that examines the frailty of the human condition and our painful submission to the unpredictability of our environment. Rigid and flawed thinking leads us down the slippery slope that proves, despite our best intentions, people are sometimes "no good at life". (less)