I LOVE THIS SERIES! And it seems to just keep getting better!
With my B.A. in Classics, Riordan impressed me tremendously with how academically sound hI LOVE THIS SERIES! And it seems to just keep getting better!
With my B.A. in Classics, Riordan impressed me tremendously with how academically sound his mythology was in the "Percy Jackson" series—all the time as funny, exciting, and touching as the rest of the plot and story; and ingeniously brought to modern times [and occasionally reinvented] while staying truer to the original roots of the stories than many an adult mythology book [which often get Christianized].
I don't have a degree in Norse mythology but I'm prepared to trust him in any pantheon, and I know just enough about this one to suspect he's done it again: really tap into the original (of a mythology that's been extremely appropriated and altered for mainstream! no offense, Marvel!), being fantastically faithful to a wholly different worldview and mythos while also recrafting it into something wholly new. Aspects of the Magnus Chase books are definitely formulaic from Percy, but I kind of get a thrill out of seeing something done possibly better than the first time! (…Not to diss the PJ series, which I also LOVE! Nor to turn anyone off MC out of loyalty. Both are great!)
But things that seem perhaps a little more mature—or perhaps the success of PJ allowed Riordan to experiment a little more/stray off the beaten path this time?—include: I love Magnus's centrality having much to do with being the son of a god of *healing*, and how that serves his place with his chosen family, rather than a chosen-one-prophecy trope; the male- and female-leads having a truly platonic relationship even before both had other possible love interests; the writing itself—Riordan's syntax, while still pretty simple and designed to be readable above all, has tightened up.
Best of all, though, without upstaging the brilliant jigsaw puzzle of the plot—which is the one aspect that hasn't really improved from the PJ series 'cause Riordan was so phenomenal at it already, it didn't NEED to!—is the inclusion/representation of modern issues. ("Hammer" adds an awesome transgender/genderfluid character to the "Sword of Summer"'s cast: Magnus who's been homeless—and whose attraction to genderfluid character DOESN'T make him question his own sexuality, which as far as I know in fiction is pretty new!; Samirah who has to deal with Islamophobia—who DOESN'T chafe at an arranged betrothal but loves her betrothed, likewise!; Hearth whose family blamed and rejected him for being deaf, but communicating only in sign language makes him no less present or active in the dialogue for the reader, etc.) Having these issues present in the characters is done thrillingly WITHOUT any of the usual lame/lazy/backwards traps one often sees in fiction. Rather, it's matter-of-fact, neither preachy nor apologetic, not the POINT of the story but as much a part of the world and plot in the book as they are out here, character traits that are neither made gimmicky nor all-defining/limiting of the characters nor "as a rule"/"token-" anything (a point one character refreshingly makes!), but come into play as strengths and obstacles in turn just like… well, LIKE HUMAN BEINGS DO.
…Basically, a brilliant adventure plot, addictively written, with historical/mythological content kids won't even realize is really informative/accurate, and fantastically positive head-on subtextual social awareness/-politics to boot.
Only down side, again: have to wait a while for the next one. ;-)
I think I have to make a list of what some of my all-time favorite children's/young adults book series are, so I can put "Magnus" on it....more
Day 2 of being a training supervisor—which means trainee is pretty self-sufficient and I mostly just hover, so in order not to be completely useless IDay 2 of being a training supervisor—which means trainee is pretty self-sufficient and I mostly just hover, so in order not to be completely useless I brush up on section knowledge by scanning a bunch of books. I didn't get all the way through this one but read enough chapters to have a lot to chew on and know I should definitely pick up the full edition....more
As with the first installment: everything that was great about the show translated perfectly into this medium. Profoundly topical in a matter-of-fact,As with the first installment: everything that was great about the show translated perfectly into this medium. Profoundly topical in a matter-of-fact, uncommented-upon way; depicts a world rife with racism, sexism, and classism without itself being these things, maintaining respect and empathy and interest in everyone in it; characters genuine and irreverant and complex and witty and awesome all the way down; and both A and B plot completely gripping and driving. Next, please??...more
Already a fan of Noelle Stevenson from her web work; didn't know this existed until I spotted it in a store and had to read it. Did so. Now need to geAlready a fan of Noelle Stevenson from her web work; didn't know this existed until I spotted it in a store and had to read it. Did so. Now need to get copies for so many friends. REPRESENTATION, WIT, FUN, PURE AWESOME....more
He's right; this came across perfectly and was my dominant (powerful and appreciative) takeaway from the book.
Excerpt from "13 Questions for Jay AsherHe's right; this came across perfectly and was my dominant (powerful and appreciative) takeaway from the book.
Excerpt from "13 Questions for Jay Asher":
Q: "Do you feel you were trying to put across a certain message with this book?"
A: "A lot of authors answer 'no' to that question, or at least say the book should speak for itself. And I can understand that, but I did have something I wanted to say; and because so many readers seem to understand it, I feel no reason to shy away from that question.
Basically, even though Hannah admits that the decision to take her life was entirely her own, it's also important to be aware of how we treat others. Even though someone appears to shrug off a sidways comment or to not be affected by a rumor, it's impossible to know everything else going on in that person's life, and how we might be adding to his/her pain. People do have an impact on the lives of others; that's undeniable. My favorite quote came from a girl who said 'Thirteen Reasons Why' made her want to 'be wonderful.' How awesome is that!"...more
Though written in 1915, reading it in 2014 it feels neither modern nor dated. Gilman (yay!) flawlessly captures the sense of a narrative from the pastThough written in 1915, reading it in 2014 it feels neither modern nor dated. Gilman (yay!) flawlessly captures the sense of a narrative from the past (vividly in the style of "Lost Horizons"); and with a masterful awareness, deliberation, social insight and wryness so continually spot-on, it might come from the future.
Update: Finished 12-21-14. The only thing more captivating to me than the novel itself—with perfect, priceless excerptable quotes, observations and witticisms every other page—is the brief biography of Gilman in the introduction. How much of that women's life and death were not only ahead of her time but frighteningly relevant to this moment in ours? (re: current events and movements. They're probably eternal but our terms and understanding changes.)
Excuse me, must add "Yellow Wallpaper" to my "to-read" list....more
Her description of the power of fiction, toward the end of the book, was struck me as similar to a definition of "divinity" I'd arrived at in collegeHer description of the power of fiction, toward the end of the book, was struck me as similar to a definition of "divinity" I'd arrived at in college Classics courses. What made the Greek Gods gods, since other than their power and immortality they behaved largely like humans, was how they embodied/encompassed opposites in a way that humans can't—and/or can't cope with.
I can't say anything more relevant to the main text right now except that I agree with the Newsday review on the cover entirely: "strangely enchanting… a controlled and meticulous account… she handles her subject with the integrity of a journalist and the care of a survivor."...more
(9/12/13, on p. 96) It's a golden rule of acting: "Don't comment on your character; be your character." It seems to me that for many, if not most, peo(9/12/13, on p. 96) It's a golden rule of acting: "Don't comment on your character; be your character." It seems to me that for many, if not most, people, this is also something exceptionally hard (harder?) to do out of character, outside acting. Not to comment on yourself. Not to apologize or justify or disclaim. Even for people who don't have any noted self-esteem or anxiety issues. And maybe particularly in writing?
At this point in the book, I can only imagine (and joyfully anticipate!) how far Portia has come in her own happiness in order to write this book at all. And despite that—because of that?—she never comments on her [earlier] -self. She's just alive right there on the page; a blazing picture of how easily we can believe in the necessity and normalcy of self-torture. How amazingly powerful, how affecting, how illuminating; what an accomplishment (especially considering how much she as a person did judge herself! But it was part of the character, not part of the narrative about the character. Which is definitely a distinction with a difference) and what a gift to the reader. I feel like I'm being given something so intensely valuable, with total generosity and lack of strings. Because in not commenting on herself, she does not judge the reader. All the applicability that can be found, and there's so much, is wide open to be connected with. No filters, no commentary. It… feels empowering in a way? A new meaning of "faith in the reader". I want to thank her.
And I want to keep reading! So I shall! /Bye for now, off to read./
(9/14/13, finished!) The ending of the main narrative is so powerful, and so simple in execution, I felt physically stunned.
The epilogue is pretty much the opposite of what I described while on p. 96. ;-) Mostly in seeming to have a switch of tense: the POV feels more retrospective, vs. the body of the book which feels so very tangibly in the now. Inevitably, naturally, there's a more commentating, occasionally didactic, tone to it. But it makes perfect sense. The whole point of the epilogue is to show the contrast between who she was and who she managed to become—something I'd have been dismayed not to read, and had awaited eagerly throughout the main narrative, and was grateful to know something about because it gave comfort and hope. Leaving it for the epilogue means anything didactic is completely earned, and you know exactly where it's coming from—and considering I want to copy a solid 3 pages as a "favorite quote", I obviously don't find it off-putting or less compelling. It also happens to be genuinely wise, and friendly, and cool. I'm happy to have words for things I already agreed with, things I hadn't quite made up my mind about, and things that don't really apply to me but I think about 'cause my goodness are they out there and pervasive.
I'm stopping in to the bookstore tomorrow, even though I don't have a shift, just to make this a staff pick.
One of the many take-aways of this book: our society/media's insistent, pervasive default setting is one to resist. This book is an amazing bolster to defense.
Update, 9/15/13: I just emailed my bookstore to ask them to make it my staff pick in my absence; I can't wait until I return from California to have it on display....more
The social observations (on people, relationships, culture, movements, cities) are fantastic. Awesome writing that's both incredibly witty and seems tThe social observations (on people, relationships, culture, movements, cities) are fantastic. Awesome writing that's both incredibly witty and seems totally natural and unstrained/unaffected. Visual style also great, characterizations tops. On the list of many books I've enjoyed that have knocked any real reviewing ability out of me....more