I really wanted to like this book. I absolutely loved Kon Satoshi's adaptation of the book for film, and so I really wanted to like the book, but in tI really wanted to like this book. I absolutely loved Kon Satoshi's adaptation of the book for film, and so I really wanted to like the book, but in the end, I think Kon took an interesting concept that Tsutsui conceptualized and elevated it far beyond its execution in this novel. What started off as a stilted (due to translation), but interesting setting ended up devolving into a completely incomprehensible, sexist mess. Maybe there's some deeper point to this book that simply went over my head - I'm certainly not well-versed in psychology - but all that I came away with was the sense that the author had some pent-up frustration where women and intimacy were concerned that he penned into these pages.
I will continue recommending the film with fervor, but that's as far as my devotion to this verse goes....more
As a econ and math major, I suppose I'm not really the target audience for this book. It does manage to put a lot of concepts in decision and probabilAs a econ and math major, I suppose I'm not really the target audience for this book. It does manage to put a lot of concepts in decision and probability theory in terms that the average, interested reader should understand, but my fear with this book is that I think it oversimplifies both in a way that might be a bit misleading to those who think this amount of foundation is enough to start predicting the patterns of the stock market....more
Before going into the book itself, I really have to commend whoever it was that designed the look and feel of this novel. The cover was absolutely oneBefore going into the book itself, I really have to commend whoever it was that designed the look and feel of this novel. The cover was absolutely one of the things that drove me to read this first, out of the many books that I have on my to-read list. It's gorgeous, it's simple, the colors absolutely pop, and it's just proof again of the fact that while people shouldn't judge a book by its cover, sometimes that's what it requires to pull that novel off of the shelf. Well done.
As for the story itself, I think what Meg Donohue has done a very good job of in this story is constructing a more complete view of its characters and of its plot by telling it through the eyes of two people. Two people with very disparate ways of looking at life, different perspectives shaped by their lives, which you come to recognize more over the course of the novel by just hearing their tone of voice, and seeing the details that pop out to them before others. One of the drawbacks we sometimes see with limited third person is getting an entirely skewed picture of all that's happening, but by including two girls with vastly different backgrounds, Donohue sidesteps this pitfall entirely. Both of the main characters have voices that are very easy to follow as narrators, making this book on the whole worth reading for that alone, the well-constructed storytelling and the ease of the words.
Beyond that, however, it's important to note that this book isn't the type of novel you turn to if you want any life revelations. It's not the book you turn to if you want to cry. It's heartwarming, and even a little bit cookie-cutter in its ending, the type of book that you turn to for a plane ride (which is precisely what I did) or if you just need something happy to unwind with at the end of a long day. I don't want to spoil the ending for the readers, but in many ways, I found myself surprised and a bit dismayed at how well everything came together in the end; what started as a slice of life story ended up feeling a bit too happily ever after, leaving me with the sense that I was happy for the two lovely ladies, but that I couldn't really identify with this story. The heartbreak gets relatively little space next to all the more shallow misunderstandings in the book, as though deliberately trying to pay focus to the more shallow, fluffier parts of the story.
On the whole, I enjoyed it. I would probably read it again once or twice, because the writing style is, again, quite good in that it flows so easily. The focus of the book could have used a little work, but on the whole, I think that this was a great tale to sit and contemplate on a two-hour plane ride....more
A very cute read that kept me engaged enough that I would read a sequel, but definitely a book that was lacking in a few key areas. What I was most loA very cute read that kept me engaged enough that I would read a sequel, but definitely a book that was lacking in a few key areas. What I was most looking forward to was some world-building, as the book pretty clearly leaps into a simple, but interesting notion of magical give and take at the start, but very little gets fleshed out over the course of the book. Where did the Council come from, for instance? We know that magic is often genetic, but how much of a community is there? What type of witches do there exist, and has there been anyone who is capable of straddling the divisive lines in terms of their abilities? There are a lot of questions which remain hanging, which isn't terribly surprising given the choice of a fifteen-year-old as narrator, but it still leaves one feeling as though something's lacking by the end. Additionally, although this again isn't terribly surprising given the youth of the narrator, the characters are all pretty one-dimensional and their motivations aren't always easy to pin down.
One highlight of the book, however, was the way the narrator dealt with the divorce of her parents. As someone whose parents are currently in the middle of separating, I found the narrator's musings pretty true to life there.
I enjoyed the tone of the book, and again it was a read that kept me engaged throughout its pages. Not bad for the YA genre, although not the most memorable book either....more
If the book's goal is to communicate and convince people of the upcoming doom that's about to hit the Earth, it certainly didn't manage to land that mIf the book's goal is to communicate and convince people of the upcoming doom that's about to hit the Earth, it certainly didn't manage to land that message with me....more
If handed over to younger readers, I think that this book could be a great hit. The plot is very clear, the art is lovely, and there's a nice twist toIf handed over to younger readers, I think that this book could be a great hit. The plot is very clear, the art is lovely, and there's a nice twist towards the end of the book. Also, Hades is a hunk. Go figure.
I'm not sure whether or not a deep knowledge of Greek mythos helps or hurts this book. As I went in both very aware of actual Greek mythology and generally critical of anyone who tries to take a modern twist on mythology in general, I was left a bit underwhelmed. It felt like there were a great deal of gods and goddesses simply dropped into the book for the sake of having them there, or to expose some trait or quality that you would have expected, knowing their history. As a reader, I was left with the feeling that were these "cameos" left out, so to speak, that the main plotline could be explored. As it was, the general plot was very predictable, right down to the big twist towards the end, and on the whole it felt like Greek mythology watered down and given a modern look. (Admittedly, I'm still not entirely sure what's up with Hades. He exhibited a lot of popular hunk traits, but there might be more reasons than that behind his personality. I wish we'd had time to see the whole of his history.)
On the whole, it's not a bad comic, and the premise itself is nice, but it's a story that could benefit a great deal from both deviation from Greek mythos and a bit more attention paid to the details....more
First of all, I have to say: the art in this is gorgeous. Absolutely gorgeous. In a book which takes you around the world and deep into the ancient stFirst of all, I have to say: the art in this is gorgeous. Absolutely gorgeous. In a book which takes you around the world and deep into the ancient stacks of any number of libraries and anthologies, being able to set the scene is absolutely crucial, so Fernandez and Rodriguez, I salute you, because you were really the team who brought so much of this to life for me by just making it possible to visualize every scene and the movement there. I hope to see your works elsewhere, they're fantastic.
With respect to the story, I'm intrigued. The story is basically about a young lady, Lilah, who accidentally stumbles across a book which awakens her ability to learn and injects a ton of knowledge, both useful and useless, into her mind. Naturally, this kind of artifact is much desired across many fronts, so this throws her into a big war over and in search of knowledge, so to speak. The good guys seem to be those who are careful about releasing knowledge; the bad guys seem to be those who are seeking it for personal gain (under the guise of altruism). I think that premise alone provides a whole lot of promise, and it's rather interesting to read in the face of all of the censorship issues we're facing today. Do we limit the knowledge that people have? Of course, on some level, I think all of us recognize that it's important. Censorship does exist for a reason. Confidentiality does exist for a reason. But... how much is justified? And for what purpose? These are questions which I wish could have been explored more, but the dynamics provided already raised them in my mind, so that's a positive sign. Being able to inject questions into a reader's mind without them necessarily coming up in full (and understandably, given the amount of action in the book) is always a positive thing.
Beyond that, the wit is there. My favorite character by far is Lilah herself, and you can get a good sense of her voice even with the book being as short as it is. I'm not completely sold on Zeke yet, the other main protagonist of the series, and while a part of me is giddy at the fact that a girl is so much more prominent and fleshed-out than her main male counterpart, I feel that a bit more of a sense of Zeke's personality would be neat. There were times when I felt like his actions were conflicting - I wish I could learn a bit more of his background to know if there are explanations for those different actions. As such, given that I didn't feel that Zeke was fleshed out, having a romance on and off spark between those two characters felt strange to me, and a bit unnecessary. I could see it building out over time, but in this case, it didn't really add to the story, from my point of view.
Altogether though, although the pacing is an issue for me, the premise is really interesting and asks some of the big questions that affect us today. Plus, again, I love the art. So I think it's a nice, casual read and worth looking into! I'd recommend it....more
Going into most comic series, the first thing that I look for is a good premise, and for this particular genre, a world structure that's both believabGoing into most comic series, the first thing that I look for is a good premise, and for this particular genre, a world structure that's both believable and enjoyable to explore. Witch manages that fairly well with its take on familiars, which are almost reminiscent of the role that shinigami play in Death Note, but refusing to limit their relevance to death itself suggests the potential for a great deal more to be explored about these creatures and their bonds to their witches. Character motivations are also well explored in this book, which provides you with a number of people, none of which can be that easily bucketed into good or bad. Also crucial for a series to have lasting potential.
That said, there are parts of the execution that I think could have been done better. The pacing is probably what I would question the most. In this single volume, I feel like I've gotten enough material to have adequately covered at least five times the number of pages. Love stories aren't given enough lead-in for my like, and the unfolding of details is so quick that you're left trying to piece together the world, as opposed to feeling invested in the characters.
All in all, however, I think that the premise is good enough to continue giving this series a shot; many of my favorite books get off to a shaky start, but even out wonderfully over time. Additionally, the art for this book is truly very stunning....more
Vampire stories seem to be taking the fantasy world by storm these days, and it seems to be rather difficult these days for the mythos to take up a neVampire stories seem to be taking the fantasy world by storm these days, and it seems to be rather difficult these days for the mythos to take up a new, unique spin. While vampires haven't been called such in this first volume of the trilogy, Marayah's Return is still certainly drawing upon many different mythologies that we see commonly in fiction these days, but takes a slightly new spin. Unlike many other stories, this one is not merely between humans and vampires, but instead creates factions between the vampires themselves, dividing the 'pale ones' into different types based on the severity of their soullessness and what they need for sustenance.
I gave the book two stars based on how I felt at the end of the story. It left me with a strong sense of curiosity, because I think as far as plot points go, this book does a good job of placing twists here and there, inserting betrayal and subversion into an otherwise very entrenched society, and also introducing changes that people have never known in their history before. However, I also finished the book with very little emotional attachment to any of its characters, which ends up being the nail in the coffin, making it unlikely that I will pick up the second and third books unless I find myself with a great stretch of free time.
Which is not to say that I didn't like the characters. In particular, I thought that the choice of main character in this book was a very good one. Marayah is a woman who was turned against her will or knowledge, and for whom being turned affected her by bleeding away all emotion in her life. She's left hollow, only with vague memories of the various ways she used to feel, without any means of accessing them. It makes for a fantastic third-person view, because her take on the events around her is most likely to be objective. At times, the repeated mention of how much she misses being human felt a little overwrought and overdone, but at the same time, it reminds you of what drives her choices. You'd think that she's unfeeling, given the description of her being turned, but in actuality, there's a lot more in her heart than she may be aware of; Hiatt helps us realize this in short order.
It's the rest of the characters that I don't know how to respond to. Eldrick, in particular, feels extremely underdeveloped and a bit dull for my taste. We constantly see him behave in a relatively kind and emotionally even way towards Marayah, which might encourage sympathy in some people, but I simply find myself unable to understand where he's coming from. We catch brief explanations, where he mentions that there is simply a sense of loss when his wife is gone, or that her beauty simply hit him when they first met, but it doesn't make me forgive his initial transgression, of having turned her without asking permission (something that an even-minded individual who rules over a place where both 'pale ones' and humans reside should be aware of as a contentious issue). With this secondary protagonist having very little effect on me, it becomes hard and almost distasteful at times to read as romance starts sparking between himself and Marayah at last. I'd like to see them face greater struggle in this transition. (Granted, this is a problem that I have with a lot of books in this genre, that easy forgiveness coming from the one taken advantage of. Perhaps the conflict rises again later in the series, which would be interesting to read, but speaking as someone who's had experiences with power disparities, an easy transition just strikes me in a way I don't care to read.)
On the whole, it's a good book. The characters are varied, the language of the book easy to read through, but I need more of the interpersonal relationships expanded upon before I invest in a longer series. I hope to see more writing from Hiatt soon!...more
I can't say that I remember exactly when the outbreak of scandals occurred regarding the Catholic church and the molestation of children in their careI can't say that I remember exactly when the outbreak of scandals occurred regarding the Catholic church and the molestation of children in their care. I remember it happening, for certain, I remember feeling repulsed and at once fascinated. I've never been a very religious person; most of my knowledge comes from an after school group that I'd been a part of during my childhood in conservative Ohio, a group that I treated very much like a club, a group whose sole purpose was storytelling and teamwork, rather than anything that was trying to teach me the way I needed to live or the things I needed to believe in. Thus, religion, and especially the more stringent rules of the Catholic church, were beyond me. The entire world was one wrapped in shadow, and to their ways I often felt a sense of disdain, hating the superior attitude that many of that faith had seemingly treated me, growing up. All of the friends I had who'd attended Catholic school came out hating it, and perhaps less attached to the exact practice of their faith as a result.
It is for these reasons that I didn't overly question the accusations lobbied at the Catholic church, for I'd always wondered — excepting the few, was it really possible for so many people to lock away their basic biological urges and functions for the sake of an intangible faith?
Was it so strange to think that they might fall?
I won this book through a goodreads giveaway, although I'd very seriously considered buying it just based on the description alone, or checking it out from my local library. Suffice to say, I was delighted upon winning it and had high hopes — and they weren't disappointed in the least. What Haigh does in this book is incredible, taking a single case from the Catholic church's scandal and breaking it out from any number of perspectives. There are family members, there are the tangentially related. There are those who hold a very strong belief in Arthur Breen's innocence, faith that nearly seems blind to the reader; there are those who immediately shun him. Through it all, the livelihood that Breen knew growing up within the hold of the church is examined from two very different perspectives, one the simple explanation of being that Breen would probably have had us know, the one telling us that it is no worse than any of the other experiences we may come to know, while the other juxtaposes scene by scene with the lives that we live, outside of these confines. We are given any number of reasons why Breen might be understood in having these urges; we're given any number of reasons why Breen would never have committed this awful sin. We're given simple snapshots of lives that make this story so personal and relatable in ways that we would not expect it to be. Each character's life is carefully explored and context given for their behavior, while keeping the ties between them all tight and beautifully woven into a single story. I'm sure by now that it sounds like I'm waxing poetic about this book — and I am. Stylistically, it is the type of book that I enjoy most, a driven slice of life, as though calmly looking through a photo album and trying not to recall so much the past as instead to delve into the moment and remind ourselves of the parts of people that have persisted into present day.
What Haigh does is make us feel for every single character in this story. We feel for Abby, worried for her children and never able to quite understand the ways of a faith that she's never known. We feel for Mike, guilt over doubting his sibling compounded with the sheer uncertainty that continues to shake him through and through. We feel for Sheila, carefully piecing together her broken family and trying to arrive at the truth. Mary, her one pride and the one boy she's fought for throughout the years now being tested. Even Kath, too young to be so broken, just looking for an anchor and caving into herself in anguish and anger when it leaves.
Most of all, I find myself feeling for Art.
Whether or not he was innocent, I'll leave for readers to discover. To me, the revelation was both surprising and not at all, but I come out of the story knowing that no matter what transpired, Art Breen is a man capable of both faith and love, and as much as it is possible to wish that a fictional character have a better life, that's what I took away at the end.
Perhaps the exchange in the book that touched me most:
"Don't you miss it?" he said. "What, church?" "Faith."...more
**spoiler alert** A general disclaimer: I try to take goodreads ratings very literally. Giving a book a single star doesn't mean that there isn't valu**spoiler alert** A general disclaimer: I try to take goodreads ratings very literally. Giving a book a single star doesn't mean that there isn't value or promise in the author's writing, but instead means exactly what the rating is labeled as: I didn't like the book.
There are lots of areas in which this author shows promise. The premise of the book is decent. Organ trafficking, beyond being a crime that most of us in the world see as horrific at best, certainly makes for a compelling backbone to a horror novel. There's immense potential on many fronts: emotional, practical, gore. The author does a good job of opening up a number of different motivators and presenting them through the characters of the book. I want to see this author continue trying and expand upon the writing skills he clearly shows in this book; there's certainly promise there.
That said, there are a lot of ways in which this book simply did not hit me in the right way.
First of all, reading the description of the book, I wasn't sure if it planned on turning in the direction of pure gore, or if it wanted to tackle the more emotional side of organ trafficking. For a first-person novel, turning in either direction highly depends on the narrator. A cold-blooded killer would allow the author to give us the most gruesome descriptions, things that would make us shudder, rendering the book very visceral in a literal way. On the other hand, someone driven by need or choosing only criminals to harvest as a means of being a just equalizer would have allowed the opening of the emotional side, of what it means to become a killer.
Initially, the book leads you to believe that it's going in the former direction, its narrator uncaring and ruthless, looking for something to jumpstart his otherwise dullsville life. But the level of detail in the kills and the harvests seems almost censored for how desperately Sammy's looking to feel that fire. The credence of the trafficking process is simply not there; I can't believe in the simplicity of the shipments, the implausibility of reaping that much money for organs that would honestly be largely unusable when taking that much time to transport. As a detailed dive into the process of making this unfeeling man a killer and running a trafficking business, I'm unconvinced.
The book then seems to offer promise when it delves into Sammy's personal relationships. Unfortunately, the follow-through lacks immensely. Nuria, Sammy's erstwhile love interest, is hardly developed, and instead becomes the overused character trope of a woman willing to go to any means just to keep herself financially afloat, 'softening' as soon as everything is provided to her and developing love for her benefactor. Problem is, this process takes place in all of a page. Her supposedly jaded nature, which has been furthered during her time on the streets, reverses in dealing with a man who hardly opens up to her, who somehow manages to convince her that his taxi business is booming enough to allow them to live like kings— it seems almost like an insult to the smart, sharp woman Nuria originally seems to be. Let's not go into the strange spiral added in the end with her eventual revelation, the effects of which are again largely off-screen. The fact that Sammy wavers between seeing her as some sort of almost pet to someone he inexplicably feels a pull towards is fine— interesting to me, even. But without a focus on this aspect of his life, it feels like a storyline briefly inserted into the main plot without concrete ties, without depth enough to make it interesting.
Even more underdeveloped are the introductions of Frankie and Carlos in the latter half of the book. Expanding the business is fine and well, but with the book being a relatively short read, there's simply not room to introduce two pivotal characters into the book and not even give them the span of a hundred pages. Frankie is introduced seemingly for the sole purpose of betrayal in the business. We see almost nothing of what else he does, of what motivations him in life beyond simplistic greed, and how or why Carlos manages to stay after seeing the gruesome way in which his coworker was killed is anyone's guess. These characters are interesting in theory, but don't receive enough development.
Overall, I would say that the likely problems for me in this book boil down to pacing, depth, and detail. The beginning of the book drags, spending too much time on circular thoughts that aren't expanded upon later in the book, and on the mind of a largely apathetic man whose blasé attitude towards the business leads me to care a great deal less in turn. The lack of emotional depth in the book fails to suck me in. The believability of the business isn't there. I've read some other reviews that claim that this book has a sort of dark humor that appeals to them, and so perhaps the problem is on my side, I can fully admit to that possibility. Perhaps I should be laughing at this book for a caricature it provides, but that wasn't the way the start of the book made me feel.
That said, with a highly critical editor who can help iron out these shortcomings, I think this author shows promise. (I also feel the need to point out that the editor, whoever s/he was, missed a fair number of typos and incorrect syntax in the book.) It's certainly not a bad first pass at a book....more
The entire time, you're left waiting for something to happen. I had, unfortunately, watched the film prior to reading this book, and so I already knewThe entire time, you're left waiting for something to happen. I had, unfortunately, watched the film prior to reading this book, and so I already knew what was coming, but I think in both mediums, you're left waiting on the cusp, wondering when the ball will drop. It leads you through the same sort of confusion that the characters swim through, in my opinion most deeply felt through the lenses of Brian and Eric in specific. There's something about the book that feels very visceral, and it doesn't shy away from the harsh realities of their lives, their experiences and memories. Which is as it should be.
It's not my favorite book in the world, and I don't think it's one I'll read repeatedly, but it was definitely worth reading....more