**spoiler alert** So I didn't hate this but I didn't love this either. This was told in a manner I enjoy quite a bit (Meg Cabot has 4 chicklit/romance**spoiler alert** So I didn't hate this but I didn't love this either. This was told in a manner I enjoy quite a bit (Meg Cabot has 4 chicklit/romance novels out in this format)--letters, texts, notes, etc. That was cool.
Also they play with style and empty space, images and poetry and such.
I just...when I'm more interested in how the page is formatted and not so much the content that's not a great sign.
A long, long, long time ago I read a book called Boy Meets Girl. It was not only my first foray into "chicklit", but also my first time reading something that was not in the traditional novel prose format. It was told instead by inter-office emails, early form text messages, post-it notes, company memos, chat rooms and instant messenger. This is before stuff like Facebook or Twitter existed, before smart phones--when Blackberrys and Palm Pilots were the hottest tech to own for the business person--or tablets. Before phones could do more then the simple 160 character SMS texts.
It was AWESOME. The coolest thing I had ever read. It was like I was back in school and had stumbled upon someone else's notes to their friends or their diary. While it didn't offer the same level of "content" as a traditional prose novel, it offered me something better--made the characters seem real.
Cabot wrote several novels in this format and while I'm sure she wasn't the first, she was the one I know the best.
Kaufman and Kristoff (here on out they're K2) do something similar, though for anyone who has ever played a RPG via chat rooms, message boards or emails you may see shades of that in the pacing. I didn't look into it, but my base assumption is that they each took one main character to write as after creating the world/plot together. Essentially building off what the other said, expanding as needed and revising as needed. Interviews, journal entries, web board posts, messenger, poetry, art...this is all used to rather cool effect. Much of the (rather long, over 600 pages) novel is spent in a sort of he said/she said game. While the experiences/stories match up, they don't match perfectly in terms of feelings or motivations, giving the novel a more "realistic" feel.
(as a digression I don't really like this "found footage style" tagline...its writing. Its written. It does not count as "footage" if its written. This is still voyeuristic, but come on guys we have to have a better term out there for the style of this)
Its with some disappointment I will admit that I wasn't that interested in the plight of the characters themselves. K2 give us a lot of information about the world/universe/time. Whether through stuff mentioned during the interviews, to clues in speech patterns, to the "look" of things, we get a lot of information. I like this. I like world building. I wanted to like Kady & Ezra however. Like, I wanted to like them a lot. Except I cared more about how the information was being conveyed to me then the actual content.
And this is where most reader's mileage will vary a lot from mine. I read graphic novels/comics much differently then I read prose-novels. GNs/comics I spend more time staring at the pictures then I do the words themselves, often leading to me losing the thread of plot. Which when there's MAYBE six sentences total per page isn't such a big deal. Much of the "plot" is being shown in the images. But when its a book, with almost as much information embedded in the images as in the very important to read and remember text, it becomes a problem.
I had less of this problem in the Cabot books, because they are set on Earth, in a (mostly) corporate environment referencing every day things I know firsthand/can understand. K2's book is set five and a half centuries from now, on distant planets, in SPACE on SPACE SHIPS. The core issues are easily relateable, but this is how my brain worked:
Oh hey this character is in a dangerous situation I--OMG ALL THE INFORMATION TELL ME MORE ABOUT WEAPONS AND TRAVEL AND POLITICS AND oh...wait. Did someone just get shot? Okay let me go back and OMG SPACE POLITICS!!!!
Can you see where I would be having problems? In prose novels its words words words on the page. My brain follows the train of thought well enough 98% of the time. I could NOT get my brain to focus for very long while reading this novel.
As I said that's a problem that I have. Its likely NOT an issue most readers have to worry about. I greatly enjoy Kaufman's books in general--and her scifi books with Meagan Spooner in specific. I like her writing style. I really like Kady who didn't let anyone tell her she couldn't do something. Kristoff...I have mixed feelings on as his writing is well enough, but I wasn't happy with the Lotus War books for other reasons. Ezra was enjoyable to read and I found his humor to be especially in line with what I like.
But seriously. So many issues staying focused. I wonder if this will come out in audiobook and if, much like Blood Red Road will be a better audiobook for me to listen to (I could stare at the pages while listening to the novel itself. That would solved so many issues I think for me)....more
Soooo I was right there was romance. Which in and of itself isn't a bad thing, however I'm not exactly certain I like where it went. There's a trickySoooo I was right there was romance. Which in and of itself isn't a bad thing, however I'm not exactly certain I like where it went. There's a tricky bit of foolery that happens in order to make Echo and the one guy's relationship seem legit. As this is a series I'm reserving judgement on how I felt overall for it though.
I like the idea of the Avicen. I really like the Ala. She's like my favorite character ever. From the first page when she meets Echo I was down to learn all about the Ala. Also any magical species that chooses to live beneath libraries is obviously the best choice.
I give Echo mad props for being able to live in the New York Public Library. It was a dream of mine as a kid.
But the romance, which wasn't the driving force of Echo's life but was a driving force for another character thus impacting Echo's life, had me feeling less enthused. ...more
What can I say about such a madcap adventure featuring the daughter of one of my favorite "villains" from childhood? In so many ways this was one of tWhat can I say about such a madcap adventure featuring the daughter of one of my favorite "villains" from childhood? In so many ways this was one of the most thrilling books I've read - filled with pirates, sword fights, cannons, vile beasts and cannibals too! Jocelyn had to use her wits, her ingenuity, a healthy dash of refined lady learning and her determination to face down a myriad of obstacles intent on breaking her spirit.
And that was just at the Finishing School her grandfather shipped her off to.
Told by an unnamed but grouchy narrator, the story of how Jocelyn received her inheritance and learned to attack the world her way is filled with a lot of down to earth lessons. Having issues at school with the mean girls? Put spiders and snakes in their bed to teach them a lesson. Worried that you'll lose yourself to conformity? Mold the lessons to your interests so they show your personality. Stuck as the main course at a cannibal's feast? Draw upon your lessons and use your craftiness to convince them they should rethink their life choices.
I joke, but Schulz treats each of Jocelyn's obstacles or problems with a healthy dose of cunning and humor. This doesn't make Jocelyn instantly Perfect At All Things, in fact she makes mistakes and missteps that the narrator is more then happy to point out and snark that they were not very pirate like indeed. Jocelyn perseveres however--she doggedly challenges everything and everyone to deny her what she wants. After she figures out what she really wants that is. Its all well and good to wish for adventure but as the narrator remarks, wishes don't do nuances so be prepared for what you get.
Fans of PETER PAN will likely delight in the references and appearances of well known characters from that book. Jocelyn meanwhile treated Pan exactly how he oughten to be treated--like a bratty child who should be ignored. I loved her in those moments. I loved that she refused to be dictated to--even when it was a pigheaded thing to disagree with--not for any better reason then "You don't know me like I know me". Several people throughout tell her she can't do this or that, but her response is always "well why not?" and sometimes they were right, but Jocelyn wanted to know for herself. She was tired of second hand adventures, she wanted some for herself.
Really this book was wonderful. Give to any aspiring pirate captain you may know, though be careful that they don't then try to run away to be a feared pirate......more
Fight Your Fiction. In a world filled with adaptations I adore ( Fables, Once Upon a Time, The Eyre Affair series) it can be a bit hard to write anothFight Your Fiction. In a world filled with adaptations I adore ( Fables, Once Upon a Time, The Eyre Affair series) it can be a bit hard to write another version that doesn't smack of familiarity. Thompson does it like gangbusters though and man what a trip.
Brand and I need to discuss his semi-annoying habit of screeching all his panicked worries though.
Thompson, who some of you may remember as the author of the omg fabulous i love this book THE GIRL WHO WOULD BE KING in 2012, comes back with another stellar example of what potential self-pubbed authors should aspire towards. Funded once more by Kickstarter, Thompson plays with fairy tales and fiction instead of superheroes this time around giving us all a chance to see how well (or not so well) Fictionals turn out in real life.
Getting the obvious out of the way--yeah if you enjoy the Buffy the Vampire Slayer type of urban fantasy (snarky out of the box thinking heroine, unreasonably hot guys providing assistance, geeky best friends who provide support/back up) then there's every expectation that you will enjoy this. Moving beyond that, fans of fiction coming to life with unexpected results will enjoy this as well. Or fans of action oriented heroines who DO use their brains.
Tessa won me over pretty quickly. Her take no shit attitude coupled with her very realistic response to suddenly having powers and a destiny and expectations foisted upon her endeared her to me instantly. Micah's sensible "give her space" approach was also a welcome relief, especially as Brand more or less was an excited jumpy puppy from the get go. As I mentioned earlier, he had a habit of screeching his panic, which very quickly became annoying.
As for the Fictionals we have the Snow Queen (from the self-named fairy tale), who's annoyance at being dragged into the "Scion's" life and battles is palatable throughout. Robin Hood, who's brought in as Tessa's fighting coach and is one of two people who benefits the most by fighting his "fiction". Fenris--aka the Big Bad Wolf--who I don't care how shady the guy is, name him Fenris and make him a wolf in human form and I will love him. End of story. Then there's a few I can't name for spoilers, but let's just say its not just Fairy Tale Fictionals running around in the town of Lore mmkay?
There's an insta-love just add hormones romance, but Thompson endeavors to show that Tessa doesn't just let herself be ruled by those hormones. As she learns more about Fictionals and what they can (and can't) possibly do, she does step back and say "Wait. How real is this thing I'm feeling?" I will admit that through that romance a lot of interesting concepts are brought up (moreso then the secondary character's plight, who much like Robin is trying to fight their narrative, but we see less of that struggle). Thompson explores how the evolving landscape of fairy tales and fiction over the centuries can both inhibit a character and offer them flexibility. Also the whole "can a person really change" concept is very much present for various different scenarios (good and bad).
I will admit that this is less self-contained then TGWWBK was. TGWWBK very clearly was an "ending" to a chapter in Bonnie's (and Lola's) life. The epilogue ad the sneak peak aside, a reader could finish TGWWBK and feel like they got a whole story. STORYKILLER however ends with a lot of loose ends floating around. Not just for Tessa, but in regards to Micah, Brand, Fenris...heck even Tessa's parents. The phrase "Plots within Plots" certainly sums up some of the storylines.
This isn't a problem for me, as I happily will hand over my bank account information to Thompson as long as she promises to keep writing, but its important to keep in mind so you're not shocked at the end when everyone is still alive and not dead by rocks.
And oh yeah, Batman is totally real. And awesome (or so Aladdin claims)....more
First things first - despite our protagonist being 15 years old this isn't apparently considered a YA fantasy. Look I don't pretend to understand whatFirst things first - despite our protagonist being 15 years old this isn't apparently considered a YA fantasy. Look I don't pretend to understand what makes this book a YA book and what makes that book a YA book - I guess it comes down to marketing and where the publisher thinks the book will do best in the case of books like this - but there isn't really anything in this book to make it not suitable for 16 year olds. Hell maybe even 15 year olds depending on how they like their fantasy (if they read more Rae Carson, Kristin Cashore and Sarah J. Maas as opposed to Shannon Hale, Jessica Day George and Gail Carson Levine then this book is fine for them). Fact remains this is a book starring a 15 year old girl, surrounded by a good portion of the cast roughly near her age.
And terrible things happen. Because when don't they when you're the Chosen One. Which make no mistake Mara is very clearly The Chosen One. I was seriously waiting for the reveal that she was "The Lady of Fire and Pain"s grand daughter or that she was secretly the Autarach's daughter. Because seriously, she's that special.
The first half of this book I was enjoying myself. Mara was a spirited, mostly intelligent considering her age girl who had all the insecurities you'd expect in a 15 year who's life was just torn apart, pieced together wrong and forced through a hole three sizes too small. No one tells Mara anything ever. They say things at her. They dance around topics. They come up with vaguely comforting but utterly useless platitudes. But no one tells her anything. Which really mattered very little since until the Masking her biggest problems (in this order) were 1) her daddy was ignoring her for the last two months, 2) her best friend became the Queen of Ice and 3) she thought she was a huge fraud so she could be sentenced to a life of hell. Maybe. Probably.
Mara's time with the UnMasked Army was also similarly fun, though shallow by in large. She got SOME answers and as a reader we realized MORE answers then she could hope to, but it was another case of "we'll tell you if its necessary do as we say".
And then came the single stupidest act in a novel I've ever read. Well..okay it maybe wasn't as bad as a couple of those Harlequin romances I read, but this honestly ranks up there. (view spoiler)[ One of the kids that was rescued, Grute, was through and through dirty and despicable. Blake doesn't even try to shade this kid, just makes him straight up awful. He's imprisoned by the rebels and pretty much left that way since they have no idea what to do with him (several people suggested DEATH and to which I agreed). If they had better plans they never bothered explaining them and it didn't matter since Grute escaped.
Grute who had sworn to "take care of" Mara on several occasions, leered, sneered, made crude comments, attempted indecent actions and was in general happy to pull wings off of birds has escaped. Remember this.
Mara, god love her soul, thinks this means its a GRAND TIME to go and take a bath. By herself. In the most isolated place you can imagine because she'd be damned if she stunk of high heaven if one of her crushes happened by. You can probably guess what happened then. (hide spoiler)] And thus begins the second half of the book in which Mara does every stupid ass thing you can think of. I understand why Blake had her refuse to leave Katia behind. But after the third time of trying to rescue that ungrateful girl you'd think Mara would have put the wellfare of EVERYONE ELSE first. But no! She would save Katia because they were besties! (view spoiler)[The best part is when Katia slaps THAT idea down unequivocally (hide spoiler)].
And honestly the entire second part was one way too contrived coincidence after another. She had 9 lives or something. As for her magic...ugh. Since we're only given the barest of ideas of what the "magic" was and where it came from its hard to really understand what was going on there. The magic is running out because the Autarach is...sapping it? To seem youthful? Or something?
The next book promises pirates (I think? There's a ship on the cover and a shipwreck soo...) and Mara going batshit crazy dark. Considering the number of dead people you can lay at her feet that should be interesting to see.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more