I might give this 2.5 stars, if half-stars were allowed. Darn this star system.
This installment is an improvement on the one that preceded it, and red...moreI might give this 2.5 stars, if half-stars were allowed. Darn this star system.
This installment is an improvement on the one that preceded it, and reduces the massive amounts of exposition... though of exposition there is still plenty. The action is increased a good amount. The feeling of explanations for previous inconsistencies is still there, but a bit less so. The author still does a pretty good job of bringing in some revelations and twists without getting too melodramatic or predictable.
I enjoyed this one some, all told, and more than Eldest. Though I do still think the two books could have been combined and edited down into a single Book Two, and it would have improved the series immensely.(less)
Okay, so most of what I said about Eragon still applies... the main change here seems to be that the author has reduced the amount of action and plot...moreOkay, so most of what I said about Eragon still applies... the main change here seems to be that the author has reduced the amount of action and plot events, and replaced them with exposition. This isn't completely horrible, as it's somewhat well done, but having done it at all really just resulted in hundreds of pages where very little actually happens, while the author fleshes out the setting and history of the world through lessons with Oromis, casual conversations with Arya, informational moments with Nasuada, etc.
And really, that's what drags this book down, ultimately -- I just found myself longing for something to happen. An interwoven substory with Roran and the villagers of Carvahall helped with this a little, and actually provided most of the action for most of the book. Then at the very end, we finally get some sustained activity and a nice twisty revelation.
But ultimately, I felt like the book could have been a lot shorter, and probably should have been. The exposition and world-fleshing could have been saved for a supplemental book, a "Tales Of Alegaesia" or something. And once again, I got the feeling that some entire scenes or events were added just to explain away some earlier contradiction or unclear element. Plus, even more so than in the first book, some of the writing obscured what was going on more than it elucidated -- there were various times I reread entire passages and still wasn't sure what exactly had happened.
Again, I wonder about the editing here.
Overall, less enjoyable than the first book, and with way too much exposition and too little action -- though that said, reading through the pages and pages of exposition was still somewhat interesting and enjoyable. (less)
Saccharine. Disturbing. A setup for co-dependency.
Much like The Giving Tree, this book is much-beloved while at the same time being deeply unhealthy a...moreSaccharine. Disturbing. A setup for co-dependency.
Much like The Giving Tree, this book is much-beloved while at the same time being deeply unhealthy and troubling.
A mother loves her baby boy. Great. No problem. She checks on him when he's sleeping. Snuggles him. It's nice. Good idea. SIDS and all. Cool.
She keeps checking on him while he's sleeping, as he gets older. Still snuggles him. Toddler, adolescent. Okay. That's fine. I have two kids, I checked on them at night fairly often. Cool. No problem.
Then he's a teenager. And mommy still comes into his room at night, and grabs all five or six teenage feet of him, and snuggles him while he's sleeping. Well. Okay. That's weird. But, maybe in some grasping way, sort of okay. If it's like, now and then? Like, your teen is getting older, and you're losing touch with him, and you feel like he's moving away from you out of your life... okay, parents, we all do weird things, love makes us weird. I'll give you a pass.
But then it goes beyond weird to really freaking disturbing. He's a young college-age man. His mom creeps in through his window, possibly in his dorm. Snuggles him like a baby while he's sleeping.
Same thing when he's like 29, married, and starting a family. Yep. Creeps into his bedroom through the window, and snuggles the big grown man, right there next to his wife. And again, later, when he's a middle-aged man or something. And again, and again.
It's SO creepy.
I shouldn't even have to say why. Oedipal issues. Unhealthy attachment. Breaking and entering. Seriously. Everyone who reads it should think to themselves, "Whoa, what the hell, seriously here."
But based on my review for The Giving Tree, there will still be some of you who will tell me I'm reading too much into it, or that I obviously don't understand the touching tale of the septagenarian mom who can't even stay away from her fully grown son for one night, and has to sneak in and physically separate him from his wife for at least a few minutes every damn night. That's fine. Reply away. I'll listen, and most likely I'll follow that up with explaining why the book is actually horrible.(less)
I know that many people have a sentimental love for this book, and I respect that -- you can't rationalize emotional connection. And generally, I like...moreI know that many people have a sentimental love for this book, and I respect that -- you can't rationalize emotional connection. And generally, I like this author. But with this book, since it inspired no real emotional response in me, I am left with only the rational perspective, which in me was this:
This book troubles me deeply, because it enshrines self-destructive and self-pitying martyrdom as the paragon of love for others. And I think there is already far too much of this in our society. This book seems to say that if you really love someone else, you will damage yourself, cripple yourself, tear down your boundaries, destroy yourself for them. And further, it implies that those who are loved must by nature use and devour those who love them. An incredibly unhealthy model for love and relationships, especially for a child's book.
I am a parent of two, and though many parents have offered up this book as representative of the true nature of parental love, I cannot agree. If I were to raise my children this way, I feel I would only be teaching them to take selfishly from those who love them, to use people up and always expect more -- and on the flip side, I would be teaching them that if they love someone then they have to give of themselves until it hurts, have to live without boundaries of any kind.
Instead of raising my kids this way, I feel it's important to teach them to respect those who love them and care for them, to not take from others so much that it damages; I feel it's important to teach them that even in love we all must maintain our boundaries, our integrity. I feel it's important that my kids, and all kids really, understand that real, healthy love does not demand destruction or diminishment of anyone involved in it, that in fact real and healthy love ultimately heals and builds up those who participate in it.
I suppose that this book may have been intended as an anti-lesson, an example of how NOT to behave -- but if so, then it was not made clear that this was the case, because most people who read this book seem to take it as an ideal example of love.
Certainly it's possible to not take it so seriously; but when the underlying message and philosophy is so concentrated and heavy-handed, it's hard to avoid tasting it in every passage.
It reminds me of that other beloved childhood book about love, where the young boy's mother is so obsessive about cuddling him and tucking him in at night that even as he gets older and older, she follows him around, sneaks into his college dorm, sneaks into his home as an adult, takes him from his bed with his wife still sleeping and reassures him (herself?) that he'll "always be my baby". *shudder*
Overall: Sweet, but to the point of being cloying, and a disturbing message. =/(less)