Jane Eyre has always been an absolute favorite of mine, and I was so ready to dislike this, thinking it was just like one of the hundreds of "continuaJane Eyre has always been an absolute favorite of mine, and I was so ready to dislike this, thinking it was just like one of the hundreds of "continuations" or "retellings" of Pride and Prejudice.
So glad I was mistaken, even happier that I decided to take a chance on this book. What a marvelous gem. A nuanced heroine--very much in the mold of Jane Eyre--who was neither good nor bad, engaging characters, great use of language, wonderful writing, solid pacing, and an introduction to a religion or war I didn't know much about.
Highly entertaining read. Thoroughly enjoyed it and would recommend to those who enjoy 18th and 19th century lit....more
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.
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