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