I started this book already agreeing with Bolleli's views, which makes me part of his pretty narrow audience, since he seems inclined to insult everyoI started this book already agreeing with Bolleli's views, which makes me part of his pretty narrow audience, since he seems inclined to insult everyone else. Believe what you believe, and don't feel like you need to commit to an existing system. Look at all the religions, and feel free to borrow from them. I was willing to sit through a lot of snark (and I usually like snark, but this was a bit much) to hear some good arguments.
But while I found arguments I agreed with, I didn't find any that were presented well. Bolleli's views on various religions are just too simplistic- Abrahamic religions are too dogmatic, Tao, Animism, and Buddhism are mysterious but have good ideas, atheists reject too much and new agers can't commit to anything. Each religion was basically boiled down to its most stereotyped follower, in a book that was trying to argue that religion could be as varied as people can!
This book's promised value is the idea of creating your own religion. Bolleli gets that idea out there pretty quick, and then fills the rest of his book with pontificating. I dearly wish that he had done more research, or, if he was only going to use personal anecdotes, sought out more people, because as it stands, he does not seem like a person who has enough breadth of knowledge to be giving guidance to anyone based on his personal views....more
**spoiler alert** Am tempted to rate this a little higher than I would otherwise to make up for the knee-jerk homosexuality-ruins-everything reviews.**spoiler alert** Am tempted to rate this a little higher than I would otherwise to make up for the knee-jerk homosexuality-ruins-everything reviews.
I think Pierce suffers from too many narrators. Or at least, something is going on in this book right now that makes her characters, usually rich if not super complex, strangely flat.
A lot has happened since the last time we saw Sandry/Daja/Briar/Tris, and this book is not really going to walk us through it, instead leaving us with bitter versions of the previous characters and telling us that we'll just have to trust that each of their experiences has been traumatic. Sandry, pretty cheerful and doing her best last time we saw her, now feels incredibly bitter about being left behind and has mentally retconned it so that she's felt that way for the whole four years; Briar has PTSD from a war we haven't actually read about and won't see outside of a few dramatic flashbacks; Daja feels like she no longer has a home, which seems like a bit of a silly reason for her to close off from all the others; and Tris has grown so anti-social from spending all her time around arrogant adults that she doesn't feel like sharing any of her thoughts or motivations with the rest of the group. These single bitter points will define each character for a surprisingly long first part of the book, emphasized with grumpy inner monologues, as none of them do much other than fight for a number of chapters, while not actually going over their feelings with enough depth for us to actually empathize with their feelings.
If you liked any of the other characters you've read about in the last eight novels, you'll be lucky if they get a bit part in this book. The four mages all end up traveling to Namorn, an area we haven't seen before, a court that could be cool and political but turns out to just be vapidly pretty on the outside and plainly evil on the inside. No, really, we know that there are sinister motives behind the court because Pierce switches narrators so we can hear about it first-hand. Because of this, there's very little suspense, or any real reason to keep reading other than the momentum your eyes have picked up from the chapters of set-up.
The book brings up issues that young adults have begun to think about, but they're not addressed as thoroughly as they should be if they're to be interesting topics. Take sex. The four-main-character setup doesn't allow for the same Let's-think-about-it-and-here's-my-conclusion approach that some of Pierce's other books have, but while the characters will disagree and bicker about it, there isn't any real discussion of the different values the characters have, or the way that PTSD, sexual orientation, and body image issues are affecting the conversation.
In the end, the characters learn that they should have been communicating with each other all along, a trust-your-friends moral that usually takes up a chapter or two in one of the Tortall books, so that the main character can then move on to further character development and more interesting things....more
I found that the strength (or lack thereof) of each novel in this series could be found in the setting. In The Giver, Jonas' view slowly reveals the tI found that the strength (or lack thereof) of each novel in this series could be found in the setting. In The Giver, Jonas' view slowly reveals the town's intricate system of rules to the reader, eventually presenting something far more disturbing than the initial utopia it first seems. The main character's 'gift' of seeing color is something that originally came naturally to all people, though it is amplified though his ability to receive and transfer memories. Readers are left with good questions about what they and society value. Gathering Blue takes place in a society oppressed by seemingly benevolent leaders, a setting that was a bit less interesting/complex than the world of The Giver, but still somewhat evocative. It took the 'gift' idea and expanded it to a magical creative spark in a few children, and left readers wondering what Kira would do at the end of the novel, what they would do to fight that kind of society- a bit like a less-developed version of The Giver.
This book leaves readers with a lot of questions, more bad than good. Messenger, like the other stories, takes place in a seeming-utopia that turns out to be not as ideal as it first seemed-- except that the non-ideal parts are not explained very well. The Forest around the village is alive, and somehow magical and bad. The Trade Mart is somehow magical and bad. Together, these things and the people who interact with them become worse until a Deux Ex Mattina suddenly fixes them all right at the end of the book, not even leaving enough text left to let us see what kind of impact this has made or provoke new questions. It brings together the characters from the last two books, but doesn't explain how the three wildly different settings are all present in the same world, which it really ought to, given that the stories are presumably connected for some reason other than to romantically link Lowry's two characters (while giving almost no 'screentime' to the rest of the characters that we might have wanted some followup on- Gabe gets a sentence, and Thomas and Jo are nowhere to be found). The main character, Matty, is actually less likeable in this story than he was during Gathering Blue- he's a good enough kid, but there's just not that much interesting about him.
The series has devolved into fantasy, and I don't use the verb 'devolve' because I don't like fantasy, but because Lowry doesn't write it that well. The fantasy aspect is supported by a fourth (final?) book, Son coming out in the next month about someone who is presumably Gabe's mother, which promises "a final clash between good and evil". Part of the reason The Giver was such a powerful novel was because it encouraged us to look beyond that kind of dichotomy. I anticipate action scenes, emotionally charged revelations, fights for survival, and that I will suggest that other readers just stick to The Giver and pretend there's not a series. ...more
This isn't my usual genre, but I've read light aimed-at-teens novels before and enjoyed them. I certainly don't think that novels that concern themselThis isn't my usual genre, but I've read light aimed-at-teens novels before and enjoyed them. I certainly don't think that novels that concern themselves mostly with makeup and dating can't be enjoyable reads.
That said, I couldn't get over the shallowness of the main character in this novel. She and her friends tend to sit around judging people for fun (including each other, which leads to some hurt feelings), and the mood of the novel swings back and forth between overdramatically angsty and bitingly sarcastic, which could be interesting but not without any kind of substance to the girl behind them. I didn't care about Georgia, other than the bits of her that popped up in the two things she seemed to actually care for- her little sister, and her crazy, likeable cat. Unfortunately those two things don't occupy very much of the book. The rest of it is definitely funny at times, but confused, sometimes mean-spirited, and not particularly tied together, plot-wise.
I don't doubt that my dislike was subjective, and a lot of people have really enjoyed these novels, but know that you're in for more of a character study than a story....more