Such a beautiful cover, with such a shallow story inside.
I wanted to enjoy this story, but the truth is I couldn't.
Our narrator sounds like a middleSuch a beautiful cover, with such a shallow story inside.
I wanted to enjoy this story, but the truth is I couldn't.
Our narrator sounds like a middle schooler and not a junior in high school. Her "problem" - someone sends out the five love letters that were written for her five old crushes - seems rather trivial. What I mean is: one is gay, two are out of state, and the other two form a "love triangle" that simply feels false. It feels like a young girl romanticizing small moments between friends (or in one case her sister's ex-boyfriend/family friend).
Black City by Elizabeth Richards has been on my shelf for a year. I actually forgot it was there! The novel itself is an odd mix of: paranormal romancBlack City by Elizabeth Richards has been on my shelf for a year. I actually forgot it was there! The novel itself is an odd mix of: paranormal romance (He’s a vampire! She’s a normal girl!), dystopian world building (that’s lacking, if I’m honest), religious motifs, and segregation/race tension parallels. It was a mixed bag, when all I was expecting was some vampires hanging in a dystopian North America.
We start the story a year after the end of a terrible war that has resulted in the Darkling (vampire) population begin segregated into walled ghettos or concentration camps. Ash is a “twin-blood”, meaning his father is human and his mother is a Darkling. Quickly we are told that some Darklings have developed a terrible disease that is slowly turning them into mindless killing machines (and killing them.). We also learn that the leader of this dystopian country is a religious icon, slowly forming his own religion and secretly sending the Darklings to concentration camps. The government is even experimenting on Darklings! Then again, the Darklings aren’t totally innocent – having no issues killing the innocent people for celebrations and revenge.
Natalie is a bit of a square and the daughter of a high ranking government official. She’s also painfully naïve at times (how could she not noticed that her “servant” is actually a slave?) and a little self-centered. Of course, Ash is a jerk. If I’m totally honest with myself most of the characters in this novel are self-centered jerks. And those that aren’t . . . aren’t really explored enough. (Polly, Beatle, Day, Juno Jones come to mind.)
Then you have the religious motifs/government stuff, which really didn’t work for me. The leader of the country is also the leader of a new religion. Books are banned. People are called race traitors for having relationships with Darklings or twin-bloods. Crimes are intense – even the smallest thing can get you killed. And they prefer public crucifixion as the main form of punishment. It was an odd mix of every terrible government ever (Nazi Germany comes to mind) and creepy overly-conservative religion. And this has all been going on for fifteen years? How in the hell did the world/country let this happen? Is this an alternate universe? Did everyone take stupid pills?
The romance was something else that didn’t work for me. I cannot explain it, but they were just too obsessed with one another; too Twilight. Ash keeps hurting Natalie and she forgives him. Natalie loses herself in thinking and obsessing only about Ash. For a third of the novel, it switches from a story of two races and government to a whiny love story. It really didn’t work.
As for the world building and science – it’s weak. I still have questions regarding the war. I have questions regarding the Trackers and their unique gene that helps them sense Darklings. I’m slightly confused about the different types. How long have humans known about them; because, it strikes me as odd that everything would suddenly go to hell in a hand basket.
Overall, this novel had a lot of really cool ideas that were woefully underdeveloped. I have to sadly give it a 2/5 stars. ...more
- The writing style can be lyrical and fairy tale-like. The dialogue can be witty at times. - The pacing is fast. - There are some amazing hi The Good:
- The writing style can be lyrical and fairy tale-like. The dialogue can be witty at times. - The pacing is fast. - There are some amazing hints that make me believe that this series will be great. - The side characters! Trix, Wednesday, Friday, Monday, Saturday, Thursday, the Pirate King, Erik, Jack Jr, and Velius are all great. I hope to see more of them in the other Woodcutter Sisters novels. - The early scenes with Sunday and Grumble were actually a little adorable and sweet.
- Even if it is a series, there are several large plot holes and dangling plots at the end. I'm sure the other six planned books will sort most of these out. However, as this was originally sold as a stand alone. . .I can see how this could annoy some. - Sunday and her love interest don't really feel like a real and true love. Then again, most fairy tales are a bit shallow in the love department. - Sorrow, Joy, and their story line is just odd. - The ending - defeating the 'bad guy stuff' felt rather rushed. I spent the last fifty pages or so thinking: "Wait, what? Okay, I guess."
- As much as I did like Sunday and Rumbold, they are probably the more boring of the characters. ...more
This novel had some good points, but overall it felt cliched. The story started slow, than was rushed at the end. The characters - especially the sideThis novel had some good points, but overall it felt cliched. The story started slow, than was rushed at the end. The characters - especially the side characters - also didn't have much depth. I honestly had a bit of trouble, at times, telling Ben's friends apart. I thought Janelle bordered on being annoying at times and I just didn't care that much for Ben.
All that aside, it was a quick read that was addicting; I finished in a day. I would give it a solid 3 and I'm interested in the second book. ...more
The Last Apprentice (or the Spook's Apprentice as it was originally called) tells the story of young Tom Ward, who becomes the apprentice to a Spook.The Last Apprentice (or the Spook's Apprentice as it was originally called) tells the story of young Tom Ward, who becomes the apprentice to a Spook. Spooks have the job of protecting people from things like witches and ghosts.
The first book in this series is called Revenge of the Witch and deals with, well. . .witches. What I find rather interesting about this book (and the series as a whole) is that it is written and marketed as a story for middle grade children. The vocabulary and sentence structure is very simple. However, there are some scary moments and the overall story line probably fits better with young adult/high school students. At the end of the day, the series is probably a cousin to Harry Potter.
But, what really matters is: is the book worth your time. The answer is yes. Revenge of the Witch does read like an outline or a 343 page prologue. It feels like a television pilot and reads like one too. And that's okay. It's all set up for a larger and darker story that I cannot wait to get into. ...more
Here's the thing - I watched the film version of this about a month ago. Why? I like the adult cast and really had nothing else going on. The film wasHere's the thing - I watched the film version of this about a month ago. Why? I like the adult cast and really had nothing else going on. The film was. . .okay. Though, I must admit that I didn't really get it. I mean I understood the plot. . .but, it felt like things were rushed and a great deal of the plot was missing. There were some interesting ideas with the Casters and the other mythology, and I wanted to know more. (Especially as a lot of people I know adore this series.) So, I picked up the novel. And, I'm still disappointed.
The Good, The Bad, and The Cliched:
- I get the feeling that the side characters like Link and Ridley and the rest of Lena's family could be really interesting characters - if they had half a chance. That's not a major 'good', but at least I know the writers could write somewhat good characters.
- The ideas of the Casters and other mythology was intriguing. It's certainly something that isn't as cliched and overused as other things *coughvampirescough* as other YA/New Adult novels. This is actually something that really bothered me: you had good ideas. Why couldn't you explore it more? Why did it all have to hang on a teenage romance?
- Have either of these authors ever lived in the South? I mean small town South? Because I have. And I'm insulted. Every character (even Ethan, because he's rather stuck up about being different and educated and he reads novels.) is a bad Southern stereotype. They are: overly religious, dislike outsiders, snobs, have a plantation every three feet, no one ever leaves the small town, call the Civil War by different names, I could go on. The students at the school, like Emily and Ethan's teammates, are all horrible people. And their parents are just as bad; they turn on Lena because of her background. They have no proof that she's a bad seed or causing any harm to anyone, but they want to kick her out of school and run her out of town. Why? Don't these 40+ year old people have better things to do than worry about a teenage girl. The glass broke in English class - she did it! (Okay, she did, but the average person wouldn't go straight to thinking a teen made a window burst.)
- This book needs an editor. It was 563 pages and about 200 of those pages could have been cut. The book had me for about 100 pages, than it was dull and repetitive for about 50 pages, than interesting for about 30, than boring and repetitive and drawn out for the next 300 pages or so. Finally, it got somewhat good, but not good enough to keep me totally interested.
- The whole novel is told from Ethan's POV. For me, that was a mistake; a big mistake. Not because he was badly written - I've read worse. No, it was because he was confused and didn't know what was going on half the time. And Lena's family and issues seemed way more readable than Ethan's issues. I wanted to know about other characters and everything really focused on Ethan, his issues, his friendships, and his romance with Lena. You've got a whole world to explore and you put your novel in the hands of a sixteen year old boy? Whatever happened to third person narratives?
- A supernatural romance. Okay. But, this time the supernatural is the girl! Was that unique in 2009/2010? Because it feels dated now. Especially when the supernatural girl, Lena, is a bit of a wet blanket. Now that she doesn't have reasons to be, but she could have been more likable; fresh. All these characters start to seem the same after awhile: "I'm all powerful and I don't want to be. Love Interest, stay away from me. Wait! I love you." - says every supernatural character in these stories. Lena is the same way. It's trying.
- Ethan/Lena may not be as annoying as some other YA/New Adult supernatural couples, but they still fall in fight and fall in love rather quickly. And once they are in love, it takes over nearly every part of their lives. They date for maybe six months and they love each other and would die for one another. Yeah, they are 15/16. . .I get that. But...with all the shit that is going on in Lena's life, you'd think it would be less intense. (Maybe I'm just getting too old for this? Than again. . .there are lots of other well done YA/New Adult romances.)
The back of the novel says this is a story for Twilight and True Blood fans. I cannot stand the Twilight novels and True Blood is campy fun. So, I should be in the middle of this, right? Well, no. This is a novel that suffers from stereotypes and cliches. It's a novel that could have built a fascinating and unique world of magic, but chose to go in another direction. I know this is a series, but I honestly cannot begin to think what would be so important as to write three more 500+ page novels.
Beautiful Creatures isn't a horrible novel. It's just a novel that suffers from YA cliches, bad Southern stereotypes, long drawn out bits of story, and a somewhat dull narrator. I honestly don't even understand hows its marketed audience of 12-17 year olds like it, when there are much better series out there.
A solid 2/5. Borrow it if you must read it. ...more
I believe the characters had more potential, but they all (more or less) ended up falling into cliches. The world building was poor. I wish I could haI believe the characters had more potential, but they all (more or less) ended up falling into cliches. The world building was poor. I wish I could have liked it better than I did. ...more
Oh dear, this book was just not for me. The main characters were just so. . .dumb and googly-eyed at one another. I loved the idea behind the novel, bOh dear, this book was just not for me. The main characters were just so. . .dumb and googly-eyed at one another. I loved the idea behind the novel, but it just didn't work for me. Thank goodness I only paid seven dollars for this instead of the eighteen dollar cover price. ...more
The first thing I read from Mr. Green was The Fault in Our Stars. It was a novel that I truly enjoyed and I looked forward to more from him. Sadly I wThe first thing I read from Mr. Green was The Fault in Our Stars. It was a novel that I truly enjoyed and I looked forward to more from him. Sadly I was disappointed in this outing.
Mr. Green has a unique voice in the young/new adult world. His writing is quirky, innocent, hopeful, youngish, and full of possibilities. His characters are real. Q and co are real; though Margo Roth Spiegelman wasn't so much as real as a fantasy manic pixie dream girl. Augustus in The Fault in Our Stars was a rare male example, but he was well done - fleshed out. Margo just. . .wasn't - at least for me. Honestly, there were times where I wanted to hit Q and tell him to get over it. (She's 18 and this isn't the first time.) At one point Q was reaching Bella levels of obsession and nearly unhealthy fixation on this girl.
Let me be straight: Margo was more or less a plot point. Her disappearance and Q (and friends) search for her was really a journey of self discovery. Q is more or less likable and normal (if you take out the Q stuff) and his journey is enjoyable to read.
The novel is a fun read and it is a quick read. (Took me two days.) Things flow well, and as I said, the prose is very well done. It's a novel that I would rec to others looking for a nice read.
Overall rating: 3/5. Really what brings this down for me is Margo, her being a plot device, and the overall fixation Q had for Margo. ...more
This book was alright. I think it's a bit overrated, and a lot of the jokes aren't as funny as they are meant to be. There are a lot of interesting idThis book was alright. I think it's a bit overrated, and a lot of the jokes aren't as funny as they are meant to be. There are a lot of interesting ideas here, but a lot of it feels 'by the numbers' and cliched. Still - it's a good idea and I look forward to seeing more of this world. ...more
Meh. I enjoyed the first book a great deal, but this one did little for me. It flowed well at the start, but then it slowed a great deal. So much timeMeh. I enjoyed the first book a great deal, but this one did little for me. It flowed well at the start, but then it slowed a great deal. So much time setting up for events that only really start happening in the last 100 pages or so. ...more
I believe it is a thing: if a film is based on a book, you're going to like the one you read/watch first. (Same can be said of remakes: you always likI believe it is a thing: if a film is based on a book, you're going to like the one you read/watch first. (Same can be said of remakes: you always like what you watch first, be it original or remake.) Anyway, I first watched the film version of The Princess Bride way back in the early 1990s. To this day it remains a favorite. Of course that meant that I had to (someday) read the novel it was based on. Having now read said novel, all I can say is that I'm more than a little disappointed.
Before I state why I'm disappointed, let me briefly talk about what I liked. I liked that in the 320 pages of the actual "fairy tale" story of Buttercup, Westley, Inigo, and Fezzik things were a bit more fleshed out. The Zoo of Death, Prince Humperdinck, the Count, the history of Florin - all of that was brilliantly done. As as the wit and the humor of the story. Fezzik also had more to do, which really made his character more real in my eyes. I also really did enjoy Inigo's back story.
Now on to what disappointed me. I got a bit annoyed with just how flat (and rather dim) Buttercup was. I can understand why Goldman would have chosen to make her that way, but. . .it didn't work for me. Westley was also sort of flat. Then you have the true love story of Westley and Buttercup. I just didn't buy it. The film version, I bought; I still buy it - it's true and ever lasting love. The book? Eh. It didn't feel like a forever thing. More like two teenagers that were physically attracted to one another and decided it was true love. You can't really love a novel that states it's a tale of true love, when you don't really and truly (as in 100%) believe the love story.
Goldman using the first thirty-five pages to talk about his fictional life got a bit old around page fifteen. I just didn't care about the calls he made to his publish or his son Jason. The flashbacks to his father and how Goldman first learned of the novel (and his father reading the good parts to him) was nice, though.
At the end of the day, I like this novel, but I love the film. I think a lot of it has to do with the characters: our villains are fleshed out more, which I liked. But our heroes felt flat in a lot of ways and I just didn't buy the love story. It's a solid enough read, but I have to give it just three stars. ...more