Couldn't put it down, gripping, well-written, it was a page-turner. Etc.
I lived in Japan for 16 months, but far away from Kyoto and I didn't learn a t...moreCouldn't put it down, gripping, well-written, it was a page-turner. Etc.
I lived in Japan for 16 months, but far away from Kyoto and I didn't learn a thing about geisha. Also, in 1989-1991 when I was there the customs were fairly far removed from this era, where women were so second-class to men that they had little/no say over their own lives; however, I had heard bits and pieces of that aspect of history.
It was interesting, as I read, to hear in my head the unspoken Japanese phrases from the way they were rendered in English. "Bear up, Chiyo!" must have certainly been ganbatte, which I have never heard translated in that way but I loved the nuance. So in very small part I imagine my knowledge of the language enriched my reading.
In general, here are the two impressions I was left with after reading. (1) How very tedious it must have been to have almost no free will or choice. For all that the geisha community was actually quite matriarchal ("Mother", or the owner of the okiya/boarding house and seat of the geisha "family", had much power, influence, and money) those who had not risen to the upper levels seemed to have no choices. Eventually Sayuri was able to choose which kimono she wanted to wear; but she didn't choose much about who she entertained, who courted her favor, whose gifts were accepted, etc. There is but one departure in this, one pivotal moment in which Sayuri makes a choice, and it determines her entire future. But while the character of Nobu-san was angry at her—telling her to make choices and choose her future—from within the constructs of the novel she actually had very little, almost no, opportunity to do so. (2) Very early in her life at age 11, Chiyo meets "The Chairman" and falls sort of in love with him because he rescues her. He provides her a moment of kindness and strength upon which she is able to build a life. While I think it would be very natural for a young, vulnerable girl to develop a crush on someone who gave her that moment of kindness, I was really troubled that the crush never diminished through decades and decades of life. She never grew up, never outgrew her childish need to be rescued, never developed a more mature outlook or even more mature emotional capabilities. Whenever the Chairman was around, she was still, emotionally, 11 years old. So while the novel was skillfully constructed to make the reader root for the romantic pairing of Sayuri and the Chairman, for me it very much had an immature and almost criminal feeling to it because internally she was still that 11YO girl lusting after the older man who had rescued her.
Good book. Well written. Learned some stuff. But not satisfying in the way that, say, Pride and Prejudice is in terms of the romance.(less)
Hilarious. This "book" (one short chapter) started out with the two boys that form the love triangle with main character Gaia; and as in Twilight when...moreHilarious. This "book" (one short chapter) started out with the two boys that form the love triangle with main character Gaia; and as in Twilight when they're alone without the girl they fight over COMEDY GOLD ensues. The plot didn't progress, but it was a really funny glimpse into the minds of the characters we've only seen through Gaia's eyes so far.
Having the same trouble I had at the end of Prized, when the triangle began to resolve solidly into a duo: the favored beau Leon is very intent that Gaia should choose him and is pressuring her, even though the poor girl is only 16. It's like Twilight in reverse. Edward begged Bella not to hurry, not to make the decision, to realize that she was too young. ("Amen!" from the crowd.) Here, Leon's all, "Decide, Gaia! You love me, let's do this!" and I'm thinking, she's really young. So are you. Forever comes really soon anyway, give her just a bit of time.
Lots of childbirth, a little cute romantic interaction between Leon and Gaia, and my whistle is officially whetted for Ruled. Bring it on!(less)
One of the blogs I follow which gives advice to writers recently recommended that anything a writer needed to know about writing was contained in E.B....moreOne of the blogs I follow which gives advice to writers recently recommended that anything a writer needed to know about writing was contained in E.B. White's Charlotte's Web, and other stories written (and written well) for children. We do have Charlotte's Web somewhere, but I picked this one up instead. I read A Wrinkle in Time ever so many years ago, and through this book I first realized a love for science fiction. I remember the feeling on that hot summer day, reading about all the material in atoms compressing and leaving the empty space behind, so they could walk through a solid wall, and my soul expanded. Later, in high school, when I started really loving my science classes, really understanding better than some of my peers (and not because I was such a good student and studied, but because it was like they were my native language being spoken at last) I looked back to the memory of reading this book and thought, "Ah! I like science!" I hadn't really known.
A little side note, in light of the books about dystopian societies I've read recently (Matched and Crossed, and my beloved The Hunger Games series): it is interesting that most dystopias look, more or less, the same. The dystopia in this book is very short, only a chapter or so as Meg, Charles Wallace, and Calvin walk through a city toward their objective, and yet it is a familiar world I've read in so many other books. I can't decide if that is because that sort of society is what we truly fear? Or because someone once wrote it so well (do we lay all the blame at George Orwell's feet?), no one else can get away from it.
What I didn't remember about this book is its strong Christian slant. I had no memory whatsoever of that part of it, which is strange; it must have resonated with me as strongly as the science did. I am not well versed in the stories of other Christian denominations. I almost want to call it folklore, because it is different than doctrine, the stories we grow up with and that become part of our own fabric and belief system, different than the religious tenets we embrace. It's the wrong usage, it downgrades religion to myth, but I mean it in the sense that lore can be so very ingrained in a certain people that it is as strong as history to them, and yet may be completely unknown to others outside them. So I don't know if other Christians tell the stories the same ways we do, but I know that the story of good and evil told in this book is so close to the Latter-day Saint "folklore" that this book could easily have been written by an LDS author as an allegory for what we believe. And when I read this on that long-ago blistering summer day, that aspect of it must have stricken me as well, that there was so much in it that was just what I'd always learned and heard. But not a hint of that part remained in my memory.
But that little chapter of dystopia, too, is an allegory for my beliefs. It is interesting that the thread that weaves through all of these books is the lack of choice—some centralized body or individual reducing our lives to algorithms and patterns to save us the "trouble" of ever having to choose anything, to set our feet on the path of "greatest happiness" by saving us from all illness, confusion, angst. And all growth. And if that isn't a temporal version of The Great Eternal Struggle, the battle between good and evil from the beginning to the end, I don't know what is.(less)
The first is the least important, and it's a spoiler. (view spoiler)[Why was it even a thing, whether Cassia is immune to the...moreI have several thoughts.
The first is the least important, and it's a spoiler. (view spoiler)[Why was it even a thing, whether Cassia is immune to the red tablet or not? Why did we spend so much time on the characters wondering, on going back and forth? In the first book Xander says he remembers a couple of times everyone on the street took the red pills. She doesn't remember it. "What happened then?" "I'm not going to tell you!" Of course she wasn't immune.
However, what was more interesting, when all was said and done, was why she wasn't immune. (hide spoiler)]
This whole series was very well conceived and plotted. The threads that wove from the first book to the last all, it turns out, had relevance and importance. Things that I thought were throwaways were not; things that I thought I already knew everything about by the end of the first or second book, were illuminated more in this one; everything had layers, levels, and it built from something small into something big. There were mysteries I didn't even know that needed solving, that were solved. Kudos to the writer Ally Condie.
Also, this is probably the most satisfying conclusion to a love triangle that I've ever read. It is gentle and honest and natural and real, not contrived and not we'll-have-a-baby-and-you"ll-imprint-on-her unbelievable. For me as a reader, there was no aching, no yearning, no struggle; I was on board and totally satisfied with how it all worked itself out.
On viewing the second book Crossed (again) from the new perspective of this one, I still think that it was perhaps too much filler; however, I also acknowledge that much of what seemed like filler turned out to be not only relevant, but essential to the progress of this one.
In contrast to the Birthmarked series I finished just before this, and specifically in contrast to the final book Promised, this one really hit all the right notes. That one was too rushed, too short, too abrupt, and yet contained information that was thrown out, threads that were begun and never tied off. This one was exactly the right length—not long enough to get boring, but long enough to introduce everything at just the right time and in just the right way to guide it all to a conclusion. Again, my hat is off to Ally Condie—this is some really great writing from a first-time author.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
I'm reading a library book and an unfortunate thing happened in the middle of decoding The Code that is the primary mystery of the book: another libra...moreI'm reading a library book and an unfortunate thing happened in the middle of decoding The Code that is the primary mystery of the book: another library reader took the trouble to spoil the code a chapter too early by writing it in on top of the pictured example of code. So sad, I was enjoying the riddles and clues; I erased what they'd done so the next reader won't experience the same.
This book is another dystopian view of the future—so popular right now, and many have similarities while having differences. This is what I will say about this one: every time a condition/character/situation/location is introduced and I think, "I bet this is the direction the story will go..." I'm wrong. This has twisted me away from everything I thought would happen at each and every turn, every crossroads, and even sometimes in transit to what seemed obvious, perhaps the least obvious book I've ever read.
The Bad Guys do seem bad, and their iron control over society (don't all dystopias feature it?) is used for ill; however, so far I'm thinking, if the heroine complied and helped them, in this case, their plans would get less evil, not more. Lives would be saved and some of the evil things that happen would cease. So right now (pg 283) I'm wondering why she digs in her heels, when everyone might be better off if she didn't. I'll have to wait and see how that spins out.
Edit 18 Nov 2012:
The book ended as it started, always in a direction away from my predictions. Usually on the very same page I had the thought, "Oh well certainly this will lead to _______..." it didn't lead to that, and a completely different path was explored. Very often the one thing I thought couldn't happen would.
Did I love it? No, not love. It was a page turner particularly near the end, and it kept my interest. It introduced many situations and characters that are left hanging on cliffs, so I'll press forward, immediately. But it didn't fill me up or hollow me out or make me feel altered, as the books I love most seem to. Nor was it a gentle, relaxing read that feels like an old friend.(less)
Emma wanted to drive the entire 800 miles to the lake for vacation, which left me with some free time and nothing to read. She handed over her book, w...moreEmma wanted to drive the entire 800 miles to the lake for vacation, which left me with some free time and nothing to read. She handed over her book, which I had never even heard of, and I read [most of] it. This is a collection of the thoughts of dead people (not their epitaphs written on their gravestones, but their own real truths now that they had nothing else to hide). A few of them were funny, but mostly everyone in Spoon River, IL (a fictional town, though many mentioned Abe Lincoln as an acquaintance) was miserable, deceitful, hateful, and got away with it. Out of the entire book of 200-something entries, only maybe three or four had any beauty and happiness in their lives. And I just kept thinking, how are there so many characters with so much drama in a small town? I would have expected that most of the people in a small town at that historical period would be simple farmers leading simple lives without so much intertwining drama.(less)
I'm not an automatic fan of literature for the young, and some books I really struggle through if their plotting is too simple or too young. At first...moreI'm not an automatic fan of literature for the young, and some books I really struggle through if their plotting is too simple or too young. At first I devoured this book, but then about the middle the author started spoon-feeding answers. There was a mystery to be unraveled, and she just started giving it away instead of letting the reader figure it out, or even the other characters figure out what the main character knew. Meg Murry had three tasks to complete with her partner Proginoskes, and she had to figure out the tasks before she could perform them. My problems started when, after Meg and "Progo" had figured out what their first task was, everyone else in the book immediately knew it as well, as though a sign had appeared in the sky. This happened several times through the book, and it really irritated like a pebble in my shoe.
That said, my hat is off to Madeleine L'Engle for using such complex vocabulary and trusting kids to expand to fit the words, rather than contracting down the words to fit the kids. And there's a little bloom of romance here between Meg and Calvin, which may be enough to compel me onward to the third book in the series.(less)
This was on three different MUST READ! literature lists for 2011, so I asked a friend to check it out from a library in the Big City for me, hoping th...moreThis was on three different MUST READ! literature lists for 2011, so I asked a friend to check it out from a library in the Big City for me, hoping that it might be my next book club pick. (My book club compatriots are not really fond of my choices lately, sigh. Thought I'd win 'em over big with a great book they'd almost certainly not read yet.)
I think the writing is really, really indulgent, and I guess I'm just not in a mood for indulgent writing lately since indulgent books keep getting laid aside, unfinished. I love it when an author can spin a tale and add in details about things I don't know. Like, in this book, Florida. I'm pretty much a blank slate on Florida, so there's a lot she can fill me in on. But when she starts going on for a full page about how these three trees grow together in this grove, and their roots anchor the ground in this swampy place; or mentions for the 30th time that walking through the swampland makes groundwater rise up in the footprints, I think, "I'm here for a plot, not a geography lesson." In the space of a page she described the same sky as blue as sapphire and white as salt, too, so even the descriptions aren't even.
The characters are charming, particularly Ava and Kiwi Bigtree. And the set up is equally charming, this little in-the-world-but-not-of-the-world island of Swamplandia! with its colony of alligators all named Seth. (Ava calls them, not gators, but the Seths.) But about halfway through I had to go to Wikipedia for spoilers on the book. I had thought it was one sort of book (quirky but realistic) and it seemed very much to be turning into another sort (ghost story), and I wondered if I was even interested in the story yet to come. So yeah, I spoiled myself for the ending. But when I read the plot synopsis, I thought, is there any redemption? Is this book even worth reading, if this is where it leads me?
I skipped through about 1/3 of the book to get to that final bit of action that pushes it toward resolution. Read the big GASP that all the reviewers have talked about. And then, in the midst of the fallout from the big GASP, we're right back to fetid water and domes of cypress and the way a full moon can look spooky if you're spooked. Sigh, I thought, here we go again. May I get some plot with my descriptions of the swampy islands on Florida's coasts?
I also have to say, and this is a point of pride, that I abhor this book's depiction of a homeschooling family. The Bigtrees are homeschoolers who are so poorly and ineptly homeschooled that they do not know how to do laundry (not even a load) or cook a single meal, or tidy their home, let alone spell correctly. I was only halfway through when I could no longer stand the stench the reading made me smell in my head, these poor kids who don't know how to do laundry without their mother and have literally not washed clothes, towels, or sheets, not even underwear, in months but are "freshening" up their stained clothes with spritzes of rose perfumme. Nor are the dishes being washed, they just piled up in the sink and then stayed there. Can you imagine what this house smells like, during the sunny Florida daytime? Yeah. Strangers walking into the house would not (as is written in the book) just casually talk/say things/visit/sleep. They'd plug their noses and flee.
And thus I scanned forward, reading some paragraphs and skipping some pages. I learned how the story ended, was pretty easily able to fill in for myself that third of the book I skipped. I still really like the characters, but didn't enjoy the plot or the long detours.(less)
Midway: Interesting difference between this and the first book in the series Birthmarked. In that book the main character Gaia is so driven to do what...moreMidway: Interesting difference between this and the first book in the series Birthmarked. In that book the main character Gaia is so driven to do what is right that she's almost a superhero—no thought for damage to self, even willing to risk relationships with others if she's on the right track. And then at the end of that book, as is required, she falls in love...
And what it has done in this book, is to give her the superhero's weakness. There's someone that she is trying to protect at all costs, and it makes her weak. She sacrifices her own actions and beliefs in order to protect someone else, and ends up not protecting them at all; what's more, she loses their respect because she's no longer that invincible, principled person they saw and fell in love with. I know many people have liked this second book less than the first, and this may be the reason why. And yet, I can't help but think that, even if it is only a stereotype, it is more or less the way it might play out under similarly extreme circumstances.
3/4 point: Irrelevant question inspired by the reading. Is it at all likely that if the U.S. ceased to sustain life in great numbers, if there were small pockets of human communities that were separated by large uninhabitable swaths from other communities, and if those pockets had so little contact with each other as to think the other pockets myths, that they'd all speak the same language?
Finished: Loved it. My other book club friends who are reading these books gave me mixed reviews; some liked this book as much as the first, some liked it less, some not at all.
Well, not me. No less than or equal to here. I drank it in, I loved it. Birth Marked was not predictable at all for me, it was like listening to a middle-eastern pop song or trying to play an instrument I don't know that has a chord tuning I'm not familiar with. Every time I made a guess it was wrong, and the book was like a bumpy road. And interesting road, but bumpy.
This one was a much smoother ride. There was a love triangle (gag, every YA book now has to have the love triangle) but the plot itself was, I thought, engaging. The main character 16YO Gaia grew grew grew grew. Parts of her stayed young and age-appropriate, but in many other ways she was forced to make hard choices, and she turned back into that strong person she had been in book one. An improvement, I think, over the first book, and I'll definitely keep reading through the end of the series.(less)
Not so well edited as the other books; this one has had several visible typos, homophone mistakes, speech with missing quote marks, and even a couple...moreNot so well edited as the other books; this one has had several visible typos, homophone mistakes, speech with missing quote marks, and even a couple of missing words. Makes me think they were in a great hurry to get it published and released.
3/4 point: First: this book just flies. I read for a little while, and discover I've read a good quarter of the book. I guess I just can't put it down.
Second: I am furious. Gaia—who has been wise and calculating in the other books—is just acting like an idiot in this one. She walks into situation after situation that screams DANGER! and does nothing to preserve herself. It seems out of character for her to behave that way.
5/6 point: There was a Moment Of Decision, a great ultimatum presented that I thought would cause anguish and be the turning point of the book. Interestingly, the author took it in a completely different direction (back to the first book's tricks?) and made the Moment moot.
~HERE THERE BE SPOILERS~ (for this and other books)
I am a firm believer that there are causes worthy of lives. There are some battles to be fought which require sacrifices. Even in my fictions books, I don't shy away from this—of course it is difficult to be invested in characters (like Lupin, Tonks, and Fred Weasley of Harry Potter, or Finnick Odair of The Hunger Games) and to have them be sacrificed for the cause, even though they're fiction and never existed. This is the power of a good tale: we become invested in the characters, and we care about them as though they were living, breathing people we know.
So I can accept that in the world of Birthmarked getting rid of the Protectorate's power and equalizing the different divisions within the societies is one of those causes that is worth a life of a character I care about. But still, the battle here had too little build up, and too much violence. All the power was on one side, and the costs to the good characters I've followed over three books was too high. It seemed all out of proportion to the other books. By book 7 we knew what Voldemort was capable of, and we knew Harry knew fully what he was doing when he was set on eliminating him at any cost. Here I don't think we had a full view of what the Protectorate could/would do until it was done. (As a follow up, that first Moment of Decision I wrote about above turned out to be moot in a different way than I thought—in that she was forced and never allowed to decide.) And I can't help thinking that Gaia put herself in danger, willfully or through stupidity, and brought some of the trouble on herself. Is that true life? Maybe. Realistic? Probably.
But it isn't my favorite book I've ever read.
In terms of the love story that wound through these three books, I think we finally got an idea why Leon was so fond of Gaia, and why she was worth all his devotion through everything they experienced alone and together, in series and in parallel. And I was glad for that little window, because at times it did seem like the homely/normal/nothing special girl being pursued by The God Of Manliness And Handsomeness—it was everything a woman wants, but what was in it for him? Glad to have finally been enlightened that there was something.
I think it needed one more book. This book should have been the transition between book 2 and the final book of battle. It just seemed too rough, violent, hurried, and perhaps undeveloped.(less)
I've had trouble with kids being tattle-tales and bossing, so I thought it was time to dust off the old Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle books. I'd forgotten how mu...moreI've had trouble with kids being tattle-tales and bossing, so I thought it was time to dust off the old Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle books. I'd forgotten how much fun these are to read and listen to. :) And it was kind of astounding, actually, to hear my older kids, when they came home from school, laugh and sigh and remember how much they love these books—even my 16YO son said, "I'm so glad you found Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle! I love those books!" Well, knock me over with a feather. Plus, don't these double as a history lesson? Teach kids what it was like to live in the pre-electronic age? Every dish is washed by hand, every kid has ample time after school to play and lounge. Idyllic, that's what. :) And, much less tattle-telling going on around here.(less)
A few paragraphs into book one (The Hunger Games) I was sucked in, and couldn't put it down. Book two (Catchi...moreExcellent ending to an excellent series.
A few paragraphs into book one (The Hunger Games) I was sucked in, and couldn't put it down. Book two (Catching Fire) was an even stronger vortex, and this one continued the unavoidable pull. The entire series has characters and situations we care about, villains we despise but fleetingly, temporarily sympathize with, and skilled storytelling.
This month's book club pick because of the "Halloween" nature of it—though there really isn't any, except the word witch in the title. This is one of...moreThis month's book club pick because of the "Halloween" nature of it—though there really isn't any, except the word witch in the title. This is one of my daughter Emma's favorite books, and I had no idea what it was about. I didn't know it was historical fiction about Puritan time in New England, but it was well written, quick-moving, engaging, and an all around great read. It is very appropriate for grade schoolers, and educational as well; the person who chose it for book club said that there wasn't much romance in it, but luckily for me (because I love romance!) there was just enough. If you haven't read it you should, it'll only take you a day or two.(less)
This is very much a middle book—I don't believe this one, alone, would have drawn me into the series. The action is very slow (or do I mean boring?) t...moreThis is very much a middle book—I don't believe this one, alone, would have drawn me into the series. The action is very slow (or do I mean boring?) to start, and I found myself wishing over and over that we weren't shifting between two narrators, though it sort of had to be that way.
Xander (point 1 on the love triangle) is mostly off screen in this one, though we do learn one really interesting tidbit about him, and it was a twist in the plot that I didn't see coming. Cassia was the sole narrator for Matched, but in this the narration shifts between her and Ky (points 2 and 3 in the love triangle). The reader learns a bit more about Cassia and a heck of a lot more about Ky, but Cassia and Ky don't learn much about each other. Which can lead to distance, misunderstandings, and all kinds of "Open your mouth and SAY IT STUPID" moments that we're observing and they're drowning in. Cassia couldn’t have narrated a lot of parts that we see through Ky’s eyes, because she wasn’t there; and it was interesting to learn more about Ky through the things he thinks but doesn’t say; but really, the early parts of the book, Ky’s narration felt so much more like filler than it felt like plot. So much bridge from Book 1 to Book 3. And then there were new characters to keep track of, notably Indie who turns our love triangle into a square.
The second half of the book picked up pace and improved, and curveballs were introduced with increasing frequency. I can honestly say that this book didn’t end up where I thought it would, and that I am more excited to read an ending than I was at the end of Matched, so as a bridge and a middle book Crossed served its purpose. Also, it wasn’t as predictable as Matched because that book had already exhausted the entire plot duplicated from The Giver. So now my curiosity is renewed, and I do look forward to the release of Book 3.
SECOND READ, 29 December 2012
Still quite slow, but I think I understood more this time about what Ky did and didn't do to put the events in motion himself. No wonder The Society wanted to get him out to the fringes and outskirts ASAP. I'm still tired pretty much completely of the done-to-death Love Triangle, and after second read I have to say that Xander legitimately seems like he might be a better choice for Cassia than Ky is.(less)
April 2010 review: Read this again for our book club; was itching to do so anyway. Still so gripping, so intense, so well written. Plot tight like a dr...moreApril 2010 review: Read this again for our book club; was itching to do so anyway. Still so gripping, so intense, so well written. Plot tight like a drumskin. Nothing included unnecessarily. Moves quickly, not a second to get bored. Builds like a thunderstorm. Since I knew what I was in for (below I called it broken, unhappy) I wasn't so mired in the unpleasantness and was just able to enjoy. Excellent. On the list of favorites.
Original February 2010 review: Wow, talk about sucking me in and spitting me back out again! An excellent, gripping read. Couldn't put it down. Waited an entire five seconds between finishing book one and hopping into book two, and now I dread the seven-month wait to book three.
It's a dysfunctional book, broken, unhappy; I don't know if anyone could love this book, any more than anyone could love Lord of the Flies. But so well written, so engrossing, the characters so well-drawn and emotion-engaging, it's absolutely worth reading.
FWIW, my perception of reality is slightly altered (I'm a little paranoid right now, and distrust the government), but not nearly so much as with The Time Traveler's Wife which really messed with my head. So thumbs up on the more friendly user interface, too.(less)
Christian has owned this book for several years, and has read it many times. We even own the movie that was inspired by the book, and I've seen it. I...moreChristian has owned this book for several years, and has read it many times. We even own the movie that was inspired by the book, and I've seen it. I rather suddenly developed a desire to read it after so long seeing it on the shelf, and picked it up.
I was curious about the author, Pittacus Lore is obviously a pseudonym. I looked him up and saw that the story was conceived by James Frey, the author who caused so much fracas on Oprah a few years ago when his "memoir" was found to be quite fictionalized. He's a good writer (Pittacus Lore is actually two authors, James Frey with Jobie Hughes) but now that I know who the author is I keep seeing little nods to his memoir A Million Little Pieces (which I've never read). When things break, they break into "a million little pieces"; and when the main character requires another identity, the name is Jobie Frey. Ha, I find that funny.
As for the writing, it's a little uneven. A few things have been telegraphed way too early, way too strongly. The clues are neither subtle nor few, and I do like clues to my mysteries but I like them to require a little effort to solve. However, other plot points have been beaten and exposed less, and I have to say it has been an enjoyable read. The characters are pretty engaging, and there is much that has been introduced or alluded to that will be revealed in upcoming books, making me want to press on despite the multiple items introduced and then casually left hanging off the cliff in the final chapter.(less)
This book is 20% 1984 and 80% Lois Lowry's The Giver, with a thick overlay of The Hunger Games. I like all of those books so this one was pretty well...moreThis book is 20% 1984 and 80% Lois Lowry's The Giver, with a thick overlay of The Hunger Games. I like all of those books so this one was pretty well within my I-like-it-parameters, but to say it is brand new and innovative would be false. It takes every aspect of its plot and characterizations from those three books and others. Still, it was well-written and a page-turner, I read the entire thing in about 20 hours and there were large gaps of time in there required for sleep, meal prep, and homeschool. So I pretty much flew through it.
Cassia is an almost perfect analog for Katniss in The Hunger Games, and there were events, moments of discovery, which I thought could be outtakes or missing chapters from Hunger Games—the voice and the situation was that similar. All in all it wasn't quite as well written as THG, but it was definitely in the same vein.
I will say, I'm getting a little tired of the modern YA genre fascination with the love triangle. Yes, it makes things interesting, particularly when both men the heroine is torn between are right for her. I'm just thinking, can we get away from it now? It's been done to death.
Anywho, I'll begin reading book two Crossed before tomorrow's out, so it's definitely worth carrying on with.
SECOND READ, 10 December 2012: The first time through I watched the events and the plot unfold, and they carried me where they wanted me to go. This time, it's a lot more obvious that The Society is manipulating every event. Why? That part isn't clear. But I wish that Cassia could see it more clearly, so she wouldn't feel guilt/anguish/responsibility over events that The Society set into motion and urged toward completion.
Also, in comparison with the recently read Birthmarked series, this one is MUCH better written and plotted. Being a futuristic dystopia they're not terribly different, but this one is so much more pleasant to read.(less)
I'd never read a real, true, live, honest-to-goodness gothic mystery before. I'm not huge on mysteries as it is, though I do love Mary Stewart; but th...moreI'd never read a real, true, live, honest-to-goodness gothic mystery before. I'm not huge on mysteries as it is, though I do love Mary Stewart; but this story, that unwound slowly and had so many kind of unbelievable elements that nonetheless suited the circumstances, this was a fun romp. I didn't burn right through it at all, went sort of slowly, but enjoyed it. Might possibly, eventually, pick up more Victoria Holt.(less)
At only one chapter it hardly counts as a book, but it was nice to see this little part from Leon's perspective, and a tiny little fleshing out of the...moreAt only one chapter it hardly counts as a book, but it was nice to see this little part from Leon's perspective, and a tiny little fleshing out of the Protectorat's family and household. It was a nice little insight, and would have been one of my favorite chapters of Birthmarked if it had been included there.(less)
My son warned me when I started these books that the series wasn't complete yet.
I probably should have waited.
The first book was a little predictable,...moreMy son warned me when I started these books that the series wasn't complete yet.
I probably should have waited.
The first book was a little predictable, a little... I don't know, it seemed like it borrowed from many other books and many other plots. Fit right into the YA genre like a hand into a glove.
But as the books progressed and more characters were introduced, it started covering unfamiliar ground and introducing twists and turns I didn't foresee. I became really involved in the characters—their different voices, their different choices. I'm definitely rooting for the good guys at this point, and I can't wait to see how it all comes together in future book[s]. Liking it more and more as it goes on.(less)
Perhaps I'm more forgiving as the series presses on and the action builds? But this one really did seem better written to me. There were a couple of b...morePerhaps I'm more forgiving as the series presses on and the action builds? But this one really did seem better written to me. There were a couple of betrayals I didn't expect, and while there were clues to a couple of events or mysteries, they were not telegraphed so often that I was all YES I GET IT REVEAL ALREADY for hundreds of pages before it was finally made clear.
The characters are endearing and engrossing, and the story is moving along briskly and well. There are a couple of plot twists that seem really predictable, but turn out being enjoyable to read; and they also end up being different than I expected, so maybe not so predictable after all.(less)
This sequel to The Hunger Games took everything that caught me so off guard in that one, and turned it on its head more than once. I was reeling, over...moreThis sequel to The Hunger Games took everything that caught me so off guard in that one, and turned it on its head more than once. I was reeling, over and over again, with the abrupt changes in direction. But lest that sound like criticism, let me clarify: well written, plot so tight you could bounce a quarter off it, and I swear you won't be able to put it down. Especially the second half of the book demands to be read in a single sitting, almost while you're holding your breath.
I'm very much more into plot-driven books than character-driven ones, and I didn't realize how character-driven this was when I chose it, based on all...moreI'm very much more into plot-driven books than character-driven ones, and I didn't realize how character-driven this was when I chose it, based on all the stars and raves, from a must-read list here on Goodreads. It was good, delightful even, and the ladies in my bookclub all finished it and thanked me for picking it. Me, I read bits and pieces over the course of about 2.5 months, and ended up having to read the sparknotes before bookclub just so I could talk about it. It just never grabbed me, well-written though it was. I found myself setting it down too often to read of happier things instead.(less)
This book was a hoot—funny situations, laugh-out-loud funny writing, amusing all around. It moved quickly, I never got bored or wondered when the plot...moreThis book was a hoot—funny situations, laugh-out-loud funny writing, amusing all around. It moved quickly, I never got bored or wondered when the plot would start moving forward. The characters are all well developed (even the ones who are one the page but a short time). It was written in the 70s and is thus very, very dated, but still well conceived and executed. The innocent, cloistered nuns are the perfect canvas on which to paint this mystery as it unfolds.
(It isn't the kind of book I like best, which is why it only gets 3 stars.)(less)