It's excessively frustrating to me when a character I loved in the first book of a series ends up becoming completely annoying and aggravating by seriIt's excessively frustrating to me when a character I loved in the first book of a series ends up becoming completely annoying and aggravating by series' end. And by "annoying" and "aggravating", I mean grating, cloying and eye-rollingly irritating that I wish I could jump over that characters' chapters and get on with the rest of the book.
On the other hand, it becomes pleasantly surprising when secondary characters move to the forefront, their characterizations are brighter, tighter; their arcs believable and empowering, their growth wonderful. His handling of the Ben/Zombie and Marika/Ringer narrative arcs was fantastic and their character development superb. Sam's arc was heartbreaking on so many levels, but handled adroitly that he didn't become less-than-human. Like I said, a pleasant surprise.
Rick Yancey did a good job of tying up this series - it was a good ending, a satisfying ending. I thought the pacing was terrific. His constant use of duality? Not so much. It was overdone, a bit heavy-handed in parts. I could see why he did it, especially when he was navigating aspects of The Other (seriously, while not great literature, this book would have made a very good example piece for a Literary Criticism class once you got to the Postmodernism module), the subaltern and liminality. But there's only so many times you can say the same things over and over again without it eventually dragging things down because it's so repetitive.
My biggest complaint really revolves around Cassie. Everything I loved about her in the first book progressively disappeared and her character, her thoughts, her snarkiness became harder to swallow. I don't think she was ever as whiny or as judgmental or as callow---yes, there, I said it: I thought she became more callow as the series progressed, which, in my opinion, is the opposite direction of where you want your main characters headed---as she was in this third installment. Sure, she redeemed herself in the end, and in a HUGE way, at that. But part of me thinks that Yancey wrote her that way specifically so that she could have that big ending, and that's just a bit too manipulative for my liking. After all, even Marika/Ringer said this of Cassie:
I'd known a lot of girls like Cassie Sullivan, shy but arrogant, timid but impulsive, naïve but serious, sensitive but flippant. Feelings matter to her more than facts...
So much like her namesake: crying, punching, demanding, needing. Maybe there is something to the idea of reincarnation. Restless, never satisfied, quick to anger, stubborn, and ruthlessly curious. Cassie called it. She labeled herself long ago. I am humanity.
Sure, I can see why Yancey wrote Cassie this way. He wanted her to be the heroine we would root for from the beginning, and we did (so good job, Yancey!). But he wanted to juxtapose that horrible weight resting on her shoulders against the reality of what and who she was: a teenage girl desperately trying to survive and protect her baby brother, who is still trying to figure out who she was, where she belonged, what she would be. There was a duality in every thought she had, and there was a duality in how she saw others ("Has-Ben" and "Might-Have-Ben") and in how she saw herself. She was always someone else's Cassie (Ben's Cassie, Evan's Cassie, Sam's Cassie) and it wasn't until the end, when she was in Wonderland, was she able to finally see clearly, understand those around her, break through herself to envelop humanity. So yeah, I get it.
Doesn't mean I liked that part of the journey though. ;-)
Look, I liked the book. Honestly, I did. Probably not as much as the first two. Still a good series though. Was happy with the ending. Really couldn't ask for much more.
Good job, Yancey.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
I didn't initially know what to do with this book. The first three chapters saw me Wikipedia-ing "fanfic", trolling fanfic sites and bookmarking a FanI didn't initially know what to do with this book. The first three chapters saw me Wikipedia-ing "fanfic", trolling fanfic sites and bookmarking a Fan Fiction Dictionary, just so that I could cross-reference and wrap my head around all the jargon being thrown around willy-nilly.
Not belonging to that world, it was a bit off-putting at first. As someone who writes, but doesn't write fanfic, I was a bit out of my element, and honestly, it felt a trifle daunting. I wondered if I would spend the next few days constantly cross-referencing terms just to understand what was happening. Thankfully, the answer to that is a resounding no. And thankfully, once I was over that hump, well...it got good.
Really, really good. As in, I-totally-love-the-level-of-Scarface-snarkiness good. Novel-within-a-novel good. Forget-you're-a-forty-something-and-remember-how-it-was-when-you-were-a-selfish-teenage-misfit good.
Yes, on the one hand, it's fairly standard YA fare. Lots of angst. Lots of snarkiness. Something heartbreaking happens. In this case, two heartbreaking things happen. Lots of soul-searching. Lots of "A-ha!" moments as our heroine realizes she's not quite the hero in her own story. Catharsis comes, but on our heroine's terms. Requisite reconciliation occurs. Girl gets boy. Check, check and check. So yes, fairly standard YA fare.
And here's the big but.
Strangely literary (quite the adroit flash criticism on The Corrections and Infinite Jest!), and satisfyingly enough, a smart and cheeky look at the inner workings of an outsider's psyche. At the same time, it's a novel about moving out of your comfort zone, and the trials and travails that accompanies that choice. It's a novel about choices. About what makes friendships real (is it any less real if you have friends over the internet vs. IRL?) and what actually constitutes friendships. It's about choosing to belong or choosing to be an outcast, and what that decision means. It's about living your life or living vicariously through the life you've created and written about. And it's about so, so much more.
I have a feeling that this book will mean different things to different people. For me, it brought back memories of a very awkward time in my own teenage years (minus the internet, because, you know, I lived in the time of the mastodons...not quite as old as dinosaurs, but still!), when I was a very angry, very caustic Catholic school girl, who wore her sarcasm as a badge of pride. And, to be a little bit honest, as a shield of sorts. I saw parts of myself in Scarlett---still see parts of me, actually. Kinda scary to admit that.
Read this book. Don't let the naysayers sway you otherwise. You won't regret it....more
A couple days ago, on Sunday around 8 pm, when I was around 85% done, I had to set this book down and set it aside.
I'll bet that many peeps who've reaA couple days ago, on Sunday around 8 pm, when I was around 85% done, I had to set this book down and set it aside.
I'll bet that many peeps who've read the book know exactly what I'm talking about and why.
Because I guarantee you, at around the 85% mark, there were people who went "What?!? OMG, no! He didn't! OMG!" followed immediately by "Aaaggghhh!!! No!! Why?!? Why, Pierce Brown, why?!?!" and "No, I can't, I just can't!"
So yeah. I put the book down and walked away.
Not because it was a horrible story. (It's actually the exact opposite).
Not because I was fed up and wanted it to be over and done with. (In fact, I was like a druggie. I wanted it to last forever. I didn't want it to end.)
Not because I was annoyed or frustrated or fed up with the story. (Okay, maybe I was a little frustrated, but frustrated in a good way. As in, this book is so good, I don't want it to end, but really Pierce, you had to go there?!? You had to write that??)
No, I had to put Morning Star down because...damn you, Pierce Brown...my insides were all turned inside out.
So yes, I put the book down and walked away, angry at myself, angry at the story, angry at Pierce Brown.
Yes, it was a moment of weakness...but I think it was a good thing, a necessary thing, because I needed to process what had just happened, and I needed to come to terms with the fact that this may not end well. That Darrow or Mustang or any one of half a dozen beloved characters could die.
So yeah, I walked away because I was spent. I needed a break.
I walked away because I couldn't bear to think of what would happen next. Of what other horrors our hapless crew of lovable misfits would or could encounter.
I walked away because I was too emotionally invested and I was scared. That's how invested I was. That's how much I cared for these characters, for their world, for their battle.
Most importantly, I walked away because I didn't want it to end. I loved these characters so much, loved their brutal world, loved all its flaws and strengths and weaknesses, that I think a part of me would've been content to just leave it be. To pause at that place and just remember the journey over the last two years as one epic roller coaster ride, without actually finishing the ride.
Yeah, I could've done that.
For all of two seconds.
What followed was my mind, my subconscious, telling me I was being an idiot, and no, I couldn't just stop there. I had to man up, open my bloodydamn book, get back in there, and just plow through it. The only way to get to the end, whether satisfying or not, was to see Darrow and Mustang and Sevro and Cassius and Victra through to the bitter end.
I had a really restless and dream-filled night, where Darrow haunted me, Mustang was chasing after me, I was having tea with Sevro atop a red mushroom house owned by Sefi. Sevro was mocking me the whole time (rightfully so). Cassius and Kavax were fishing nearby and The Jackal was hanging upside down from a tree, quite simian-like, stealing the fish each time one was reeled in. So no, I couldn't escape them. Even my subconscious was angry with me for putting the book down, for being craven, for being a wuss.
So, damn you Pierce Brown (I mean this in the best possible way), for worming your way into the inner recesses of my mind (you're welcome to drop in at any time...open invitation, for life).
When I got up, all I could think of was finishing the book, but I had a long day of work ahead of me, and I thought, "Ooh, more distance. This'll make things better." But no, I was very antsy and couldn't wait for the day to end, because by then, I was jonesing for it, I wanted to know what happened, and so, less than twenty-four hours later, emotionally and mentally exhausted though I was, I picked Morning Star back up and dug right in.
Oh, there were ups, there were downs. There were gut-busting funny moments and gut-wrenching heartbreaks. There were deaths---oh yeah, but there were deaths!---there was suspense, there was devastation. There was betrayal, there was dread. But at the end...
The end was beautiful. It was pitch perfect. Let me be clear: it wasn't neat, it wasn't tidy, but it ended on as perfect a note as it could have ended on, and for that I was happy. This, despite feeling that even when I was on the last two pages, I was still convinced something was going to happen, someone was going to die. I had tears in the end.
And this humongous, overwhelming feeling of satisfaction.
So thank you Darrow. Thank you Pierce Brown. Thank you for this world you've created and destroyed and fought for and rebuilt. Thank you for taking us on this crazy journey.
I love this book.
I love this series.
I love Pierce Brown and can't wait for whatever comes next from his brilliant mind. ...more
I probably shouldn't start a letter to you with such a strong statement (or sentiment), but I just couldn't help it.
I doDear Locke Lamora,
I love you.
I probably shouldn't start a letter to you with such a strong statement (or sentiment), but I just couldn't help it.
I do; I just do. Not just because of your outwardly cool, debonair demeanor when you're in full-on Confidence Man mode. Not because of your jaw-dropping irreverence or your sharply honed wit or your striking intelligence (you take "thinking outside the box" one step further...maybe thinking outside the box and tossing whatever's inside or outside over a cliff, perhaps?). Not because you've proven that you don't have to be a man's man, all grrr-argh-foooood!-wooomaaaaan!-football-chug-a-lug-a-lug!-urgh-agh and whatnot, to prove that you are all man.
No, I love you because of how much you love others: blindly and loyally and foolishly and completely and utterly and stupidly and...and...and darn it, I've run out of appropriate adjectives, good and bad.
Your relationship with Jean has always been the truest, the deepest, eclipsing any of your other relationships. How I wish I had what you two have. I don't even feel that way towards my BFF, much as I love her, and she's been my BFF for a quarter of a century. I'm glad you have Jean and he has you. You're the yin to his yang, or vice versa, depending on the day. You complete each other.
Your devotion to and respect for long-gone friends---Calo and Galdo and Chains and even Bug---is something one only hopes for, because in the end, most of us only wish to be remembered, and you do that splendidly. (I do miss the twins horribly!)
And Sabetha. I don't even know where to start with your utter devotion and constancy toward Sabetha. I wanted to wring her neck, the way how she treated you. How she keeps treating you. And despite all that...despite all that she's done and continues to do, you not only hold her in the highest esteem, but you listen to her and you know her, you know her heart and her needs and you give her space. You give her a reason to come back. Not many men are worth that.
Oh, Locke Lamora, if only you were real...
Dear Jean Tannen,
I love you.
Now, don't think me inconstant to Locke, because it's not like that. Not at all. I love you for all different reasons. Well...okay, maybe one reason is the same: Locke will always be your true north, your one and only, your soulmate, the lid to your pot, all this, in spite of how many other women come into your lives (or Sabetha, for him).
It's a friendship, just about as solid and real as it can get: rocky, loyal, tempestuous, faithful, cutting, caring. I don't know how many times you've suffered at Locke's hands, how many times you've nursed him back to health when he's given up time and again, how many times you've saved his life, both physically and emotionally (only someone who cares so much would try to knock that much sense back into someone as stubborn as him). I think if one of you dies, the other would be beyond bereft and would have no reason to go on. You'd be like an amputee, feeling ghost pains, hearing ghost voices. It's so sad. And I'm jealous.
But I love you for other reasons, too. For one thing, you are a study in opposites. You're a well-read, highly educated intelligent bruiser. Your brain is as sharp as your axes, and you're as likely to pulverize someone with your brains and your brawn. You are a gentle giant, built like a boulder but all soft and warm and fuzzy on the inside. I like to think of you as a buckyball with a warm custard center that oozes out every so often. Yummy!
Oh, Jean Tannen, if only you were real...
Dear Scott Lynch,
I love you. You are officially one of my favorite authors now. You've created a set of characters so richly drawn, so infinitely layered that with each book, it's like peeling away at an onion: we learn more about each of these people you've created, and sometimes it hurts and it stings, but sometimes it's pleasant and sweet, and always, always surprising.
And your writing. I have nothing to complain about. You were blessed by all thirteen gods, and if I were a betting person, I'd say you'd be an Eldren yourself. Who has that much talent? Why aren't you better known? You need a better publicist.
Now here's the thing. How you ended this book? Killer.
It got me right here (jabbing at my heart) and left me with palpitations, a few tears, and definitely, definitely, some sweaty palms and a feeling of abject dread.
I was not a happy camper. Oh, believe me, I loved the book. Loved it. Loved the play within the story (quite Shakespearean of you), loved the Carl Sandberg snippets, loved the back and forth in time. I have nothing to complain about, as far as all that goes.
But that ending? My God. That ending. Now, all I can think of is that you are going to kill off Locke and Jean in the most miserable, most despicable, most horrific way possible. And I can't wait until the fourth book comes out. (Word to the wise: do not leave us hanging for as long as you did with Republic of Thieves! That was brutal!) I want it to come out and I don't. I'm very torn. But I want it to come out more...because you made me need to know what's going to happen to Locke and Jean.
And your little prophecy? Aaaggghhh...why, Scott Lynch, why? You didn't have to be such a cruel man. Actually, you don't. You can still turn it around.
Now, I'm not saying you can't kill Locke or Jean or give either of them a worthy death (cf. -Mark Lawrence's Emperor of Thorns: fantastic ending to the series, my only other 5-star book this year), if you are so inclined to kill him or Jean off. I get it; some characters need to die and die in such a glorious, jaw-dropping way (Good old Ned Stark comes to mind) to send a message. I was heartbroken when Jorg died because...well, because the lout grew on me. Couldn't stand the kid in the first half of Prince of Thorns but as the story progressed, I got to know him better and I understood why he was the way he was. And I respected the fact that he was so unapologetic about how and why he did things. (view spoiler)[And Mark Lawrence was unapologetic about killing Jorg too, but he did it for the right reasons. It made sense, it saved the world. (hide spoiler)]
If you decide to off with Jean's or Locke's head(s), I will understand. I just ask that you make it worthy. That you don't cheapen it and kill either (or both) off just for the heck of it (take that, Veronica Roth, for your silly ending to Allegiant). That if they have to suffer, let them suffer but also offer them succor, offer them something worthy and worthwhile (I know, I know, you can't bring Ezri back for Jean...but how about a Sabetha and Locke reunion...a bittersweet reunion?) so that the rest of us can breathe easier, maybe feel a bit better about the inevitable.
And please, can you pull back a bit on your crazed and maimed fiend? Man, I have never met such an antagonist that gave me the willies as much as this monstrosity you've created. I re-read your Epilogue thrice, not for pleasure certainly, but to convince myself that you've created a thoroughly bone-chillingly Evil, with a capital 'e'. Consider me convinced. And scared.
I so fear for Locke and Jean's future, and for that, I hate you Scott Lynch. Just a smidgeon. An infinitesimal smidgeon. You can barely even feel it, really, but I just wanted to let you know.
Oh, this was so beautiful. Beautiful and painful. Painful and real. Real, so real, it left my insides raw.
I had a difficult time with the beginning. NOh, this was so beautiful. Beautiful and painful. Painful and real. Real, so real, it left my insides raw.
I had a difficult time with the beginning. Not because it was unreadable, not well-written or hard to muddle through. On the contrary, it was a well-written book, evenly paced. The child-speak didn't bother me (I know it bothered some readers). I really couldn't find anything wrong with the book, technically.
No, I found it difficult because I was feeling too much and I didn't want to get too entangled in the story, in the characters.
After all, this was a story that was meant to be disturbing. It is not a subject matter many people are comfortable with. And yet...
And yet I felt so attuned to Jack, from the very beginning, that it hurt to go on. I didn't want him to hurt or be scared. I didn't want him to worry, didn't want him cold or hungry. I didn't want him sleeping in a wardrobe. Didn't want him obsessively counting each time Old Nick came by.
The problem was that Jack had become real, for me. And his fears, his life, his needs made me uncomfortable. That's why it was difficult.
For certain books, as a reader, it is inevitable that at some point, you will insinuate yourself into the story. You recognize part of yourself in a character (or three). You identify with one or two or a few, see things from their perspective, feel things even though it's not your story, not your journey.
And when you can lose yourself in a story like that, lose yourself in a character, that's when a book and its narrative truly succeeds. But it's not always easy.
I don't want to give too much away because I don't want to take away from other readers' experience. I will say this, however: as I kept reading, I realized I had created two distinct time frames for the events in the story. Before The Plan (BP) and After The Plan (AP).
I found things more heartbreaking BP. And while the heartbreak is still there AP, it was more heartwarming also.
Five things that hit me, BP: - the wonder in seeing and hearing everything from a five year old's perspective - the joys of empty cans, tissue paper rolls, five crayons and a child's limitless imagination - the strength a mother achieves to keep her child whole and alive - the strength of a child who only wants to please his mother - this is a twisted, cruel, ugly, beautiful, complex world we live in
Five things that hit me, AP: - how terrifying real reality can be - yes, it is possible to go through childhood without Legos! - Steppa and crocs - how resilient children are, when adults around them are falling, failing, flailing - how twisted, cruel, ugly, beautiful and complex people are
I wasn't a huge fan of Emma Donoghue's Slammerkin, but after Room, I'm certainly a fan now....more
Oh, this was such an utterly beautiful and lyrical little tale. This is Gaiman at one of his most whimsical, and yet the darkness, the strangeness, thOh, this was such an utterly beautiful and lyrical little tale. This is Gaiman at one of his most whimsical, and yet the darkness, the strangeness, the otherworldness is still there, lurking right around the corner.
Grown-ups don't look like grown-ups on the inside either. Outside, they're big and thoughtless and they always know what they're doing. Inside, they look just like they always have. Like they did when they were your age. The truth is, there aren't any grown-ups. Not one in the whole world.
To me, this story brought back wonderful memories of my own childhood, both good and bad. Those wondrous never-ending days during school breaks, of just losing myself in book after book after book, of reading late into the night and getting caught up in my imaginings (and sometimes, letting my imagination run away with me into deep, dark, magical places, sometimes scaring myself half-to-death by conjuring up things that terrified me yet made me feel...I don't know...so alive). Of being terrified of the dark, of wanting to keep the door of my bedroom open, of having just a wee bit more light. Of loving the sound of the rain and the wind.
Gaiman evoked that feeling I used to have as a child, where, if I closed my eyes real tight, held my breath, counted to ten, and wished really, really hard, then opened my eyes, I would find myself in a different world, some place I could escape to, a safe place, where my usual problems didn't follow me around. That was when I used to believe in magic...
I found myself imagining a valley filled with dinosaurs, millions of years ago, who had died in battle, or of disease: imagining first the carcasses of the rotting thunder-lizards, bigger than buses, and then the vultures of that aeon: gray-black, naked, winged but featherless; faces from nightmares---beak-like snouts filled with needle-sharp teeth, made for rending and tearing and devouring, and hungry red eyes. These creatures would have descended on the corpses of the great thunder-lizards and left nothing but bones. Huge, they were, and sleek, and ancient, and it hurt my eyes to look at them.
Gaiman dealt with the feelings of loneliness and alienation and not quite fitting in so well that a number of us go through, in childhood. There are those of us who know what it's like, not having anyone come to your birthday party, of not having any friends, of having a sibling who was more personable than you, of learning how to become invisible because it was easier. Of connecting better with animals than people because...well, they knew what it was like not to be understood by those around you.
I have a theory why Gaiman didn't name his narrator -- in doing so, this story easily became any child's story, provided that child was a loner, a misfit, someone who just didn't quite fit in with others. It's the kind of thing many of us bring into adulthood, and while we may learn how to become more social, more adept at joining the rest of the world, that part of us remains, to a certain degree, and that shyness and trepidation lurks in the background, peeking out every so often.
Ursula Monkton smiled and the lightnings wreathed and writhed about here. She was power incarnate, standing in the crackling air. She was the storm, she was the lightning, she was the adult world with all its power and all its secrets and all its foolish casual cruelty. She winked at me.
The Ocean at the End of the Lane, to me, was a love story. A love story between a child and his books, of his love for books, of the way how books became an escape, how books saved him, how books gave him something that no one else did or could --- for books, in this world, offered him refuge and solace and protection, something none of the regular adults could do.
My favorite characters in the book: the Hempstock women. I'd have loved to meet and spend time with them (and I'd probably have begged them to adopt me!). At times, they reminded me of the Fates -- Clotho, Lachesis and Atropos -- not only in their actions and words, but in their powers. Then at others, they just brought back memories of the myriad Enid Blyton books I devoured as a child. The world that the Hempstocks lived in, both here and not here, brought back so many memories of days spent reading and losing myself in The Magic Faraway Treeand with The Secret Seven, for the boy in this book lived for both adventure and fantasy.
My one major gripe about this story, and really, it's not even a big one in retrospect, is Gaiman infused some real-worldliness in what could have been a true flight of fantasy. His Ursula Monkton, the evil baddie, was too much of the "money makes the world go round" sort. I understand that this was probably Gaiman's way of saying "Hey, capitalism isn't good!" but that part of the story seemed forced. There was enough evil in Ursula that I felt he didn't need to keep shoving the "money will make them happy" and "I'm giving them what they want!" diatribes down my throat.
Despite all that, I think this one is definitely one of my faves of the year. I'd read this again if I wanted a nice little escape....more