I feel like this book is missing the five-star spark (so to speak), but it kept me up until 3 last night, so it deserves a hearty commendation for thaI feel like this book is missing the five-star spark (so to speak), but it kept me up until 3 last night, so it deserves a hearty commendation for that. I was hooked by the mystery of the plague, wondering how the halani and kasiri would find balance, and I wish that it had been covered more, but I still loved the focus on books and langauges and music. I have special interests in those things too, and it was fun to read a book where the main character's passion for those things allowed her to save the day. I also loved the Hebrew names and inspiration. And the families and friendships. Lots of heart-warming relationships and scenes (without romance! I'm so glad.)...more
I love the premise of this book--the mere idea of a "school for good and evil" is whimsical and wonderful. I loved watching Agatha and Sophie developI love the premise of this book--the mere idea of a "school for good and evil" is whimsical and wonderful. I loved watching Agatha and Sophie develop towards their respective sides, and there are so many clever and imaginative details. It was really fun to read and I look forward to picking up the second one.
I started tilting my head about 2/3 of the way through, though. So now they're not friends? Now they love each other again, but they're doing terrible things and it doesn't make sense. Some of these developments just aren't explained .Sophie switched too suddenly between wanting to be truly Good and embracing her inner Evil. Her goals generally stayed consistent, but it began to feel like the author was writing about two different people. The latter portion of the book was not very focused and felt disorganized, with some themes tossed in and not explored as much as they could have been.
I got kind of lost at the peak of the climax and its descent, but I'm still generally pleased with the book and thrilled with the concept. I noticed after bringing the book home that it's being made into a movie, and I look forward to it!...more
This book was a lot of really interesting ideas that didn't come together. The worldbuilding is largely solid and believable. I really enjoyed the firThis book was a lot of really interesting ideas that didn't come together. The worldbuilding is largely solid and believable. I really enjoyed the first half and it moved at a fluid pace with engaging first person writing, but everything falls apart after the Pomegranate Court. Events and plot twists happen out of nowhere in unsatisfying ways, Green can't seem to keep her own motives straight, and plot threads are picked up and dropped seemingly with abandon. Without the forced and gratuitous sexual action I might have given this three stars, but beyond that the structure and characterization are too much of a mess to earn more. A lot of promise in its ideas, at least, but poor execution....more
I found this book by chance at the store, and I'd never heard of it before. It was the striking cover that caught my eye, but then--like most people,I found this book by chance at the store, and I'd never heard of it before. It was the striking cover that caught my eye, but then--like most people, probably--I saw "Japanese Steampunk" and bought it without a second thought. I had to try it just for that. I wasn't expecting it to be an epic tale that would sweep me off my feet, but perhaps it would be; it might be intricate and well-researched, it might not be.
I agree with the sentiments of many: repetitive description (how many more times can you use 'toxic' or 'greasy'?), improper usage of the few words of Japanese used in dialogue ('hai', 'sama'). Sometimes I did really enjoy the writing. I enjoyed the characters and the worldbuilding, the feudal setting, the harsh environment and war; it has a lot of potential that it doesn't fill. Maybe it doesn't have to, but it doesn't do as much as it could with the setting. It was a good book, but it didn't blow me away, as a book of this type could have done to this student of Japanese language and history...
I'll probably pick up Kinslayer, though. I want to see where it goes....more
I love the worldbuilding in this book. The crazy bureaucracies of Heaven and Hell, and of course Earth, the characters trying to deal with them, the nI love the worldbuilding in this book. The crazy bureaucracies of Heaven and Hell, and of course Earth, the characters trying to deal with them, the names and descriptions of the settings, the mish-mash of mythologies... it was very engaging. I was mostly engaged in the world, but I rather enjoyed the characters, especially Chen and Kuan Yin, and was surprised by how attached I felt to some of them and their adventures.
I think I understand why some reviewers said it didn't deliver the way they expected; I wasn't blown off my feet but it was still a fun whirlwind of adventure, and very memorable. I'm not sure I feel compelled to read the rest of the series, though, and that's partly to do with the writing style. There are several things I'm enjoying about Liz Williams' writing (I'm currently reading Worldsoul), but she has a tendency to write longs strings of long, complicated sentences without enough variation. Short sentences sometimes come as a surprise, in a distracting way that tears me from the story. Definitely not what they should do. There are a few things here and there that bother me but I suspect it's just me being picky and not a detriment to her writing; there are plenty of other things I particularly loved. That's the main reason I give this 4 stars rather than 5, and I would happily recommend it....more