Just as an upfront disclaimer. I'm Mormon. So there you have it. This was…strange. And it isn't because of the angle he took on Mormonism. It's fictioJust as an upfront disclaimer. I'm Mormon. So there you have it. This was…strange. And it isn't because of the angle he took on Mormonism. It's fiction, and Doyle used some serious sensationalism. That is what writers do. That, and frankly I don't really care what Doyle thought of Mormons.
The story was plain weird. You see, he's telling one story - about two murders in London - and then all of a sudden we're in the desert wilds of Utah. And there was no real transition between the two. So that was jarring to say the least. How do we go from London to Utah without any explanation? Then he tells the story that happens in Utah, which essentially explains why the aforementioned murders happened in London. But still, this back story remains unconnected to the present crimes for a long time.
I mean, I made some assumptions, surely, since he was telling the story about the murders and I didn't think he was going to leave us hanging. However, the weird turn into the realm of polygamy, Utah politics and Brigham Young sans any set-up or segue made for a very disjointed story. As a side note, a part of me wondered if he wanted to blast Mormonism because of his own political agenda or if he wanted to just create a bizarre narrative that was filled with the mystery of the crazy Mormons he had heard about from a friend of an aunt whose second cousin joined up with them and moved out West.
Truthfully, the Utah story wasn't a bad one. In fact, I preferred it over the beginning and ending scenes because it was a lot more interesting. Like I said, sensational and not at all in touch with reality, but amusing and entertaining. I just think that at this point in Doyle's career he had yet to master the art of the transition.
And let's be honest about why I read this. Masterpiece Theater's Sherlock…which is probably the better version, in my humble opinion. I'll probably read more Sherlock Holmes. I'm interested to see how Doyle develops as a mystery writer.
P.S. I will say, that as a study in the early crime novel/genre, it would be fascinating to study the influence this type of story had on the genre because you can definitely see influences. The whole confessional scene was born from stories like this. Although, I'm sure someone had already written that dissertation.
P.S.S. Oh, and what's up with hating on Edgar Allan?...more
About a month ago, I was wandering through Barnes and Noble. I happened to be there on the day that Marissa Meyer was doing a book signing. It wasn'tAbout a month ago, I was wandering through Barnes and Noble. I happened to be there on the day that Marissa Meyer was doing a book signing. It wasn't on purpose. I didn't really know who she was, actually. However, I walked over to where she was speaking and listened. She's quite adorable and very nice. I didn't stay to get a book signed because I didn't own any of her books, and I didn't know much about her stories. As it turns out, Cinder was on my to-read list, but I don't remember putting it there. But since I'd enjoyed her stories at her reading and thought she was lovely, I downloaded the book.
And…despite some serious misgivings about issues I had with this story, I actually can't help but say that I liked it a lot. A cyborg Cinderella is a seriously brilliant hook - a purely genius premise. So kudos to Marissa Meyer and her excellent imagination.
What worked well was the imagined future landscape, peopled with robots and characters like Cinder, a cyborg brought to live with an adoptive family. Of course, being the Cinderella story, she would lose her adoptive father and be forced to live life with her less the loving adoptive mother. I thought Cinder was well written - a very good character. Funny, thoughtful, kind. I was really excited about the beginning of the story. She did a great job setting up the situation.
I also loved the ending. It was entirely reminiscent of one of my favorite scenes from the Disney movie, without being that scene at all - it was just enough to remind me that this is the story of Cinderella, a story that has been told so many different ways and by so many different cultures. I want to say more, but then everyone will be crying "spoiler alert". So I won't. BUT…it was a great cliffhanger, and while some people don't love that, it is one of my favorite things about reading a book…liking it and being excited that something more is coming. Of course, I don't have to wait for the sequel, so…
There were issues, mostly in the middle, though.
I like to see a bit of a struggle or at least reasons for why things are as they are. So there is a castle and a prince about to be emperor. I had no argument with the way that Cinder meets Prince Kai, but if you were to show up at a castle, do you think you would just walk right in? Hang out? Even if you were part of a study being conducted by researchers in the castle? It was just too easy. There were several moments like this - moments were it felt a little too easy to move in and out of places that should have been guarded like Fort Knox.
There were a lot of underdeveloped plot points. All of a sudden things are just happening. I don't want an entire novel of exposition, but let's take one example. All of a sudden we have an outbreak of letumosis - a plague that is spreading throughout the country and all of a sudden, Cinder is being taken to find a cure for the disease. It didn't feel developed to it's best advantage. And I think Cinder as a character hadn't yet been developed enough to throw this at the reader. I wanted to know more about her first, and maybe see a little more of that ugly side of the plague. Maybe it was because so much was happening at once, but we're talking about cyborgs and robots and plagues and wars with people from the moon and a king dying and his son taking over. Maybe if the book had been a little longer? I don't know. I just thought it needed more time to grow a little.
It lacked atmosphere. It was set in China. But I'm not sure it felt like China. I've never been. But the setting felt generic, like it could have been anywhere. Descriptions here and there of a kimono, for example, aren't enough.
I suppose, though, the beginning and the ending saved the story for me, and I have high hopes that the rest of the novels in the series will develop some of those moments that I thought were missing from this. ...more
So I read Relic about a month ago, and I really really enjoyed it. The one thing I thought I wanted, however, was to know who this Pendergast guy realSo I read Relic about a month ago, and I really really enjoyed it. The one thing I thought I wanted, however, was to know who this Pendergast guy really was. I stopped by the library for an audio book and found this. Since the first book was so entertaining, I decided I would give this a go.
I was wrong about Pendergast. I didn't want to know about him. In fact, the first book was great because there wasn't too much character development and the focus was on the scary scary monster. You know why? Pendergast is insufferable. Is there anything this guy does not do? Maybe I've missed something in the character arc because I skipped from the first book in the series to book 12. Nonetheless, are you kidding me? If this guy were anywhere near me, I think I would want to punch him in the face.
In fact, the entire time I was listening to this, I wondered why the other characters weren't punching him in the face. He's self-righteous and perfect and he does everything right. He's an FBI agent, but he's wealthy and lives in a magnificently opulent NYC apartment. Excuse me? So he probably had some big inheritance from some early book that I missed, but it's lame.
Can I say that characters who have no achilles heal are the worst? Can I say that? They are the worst. He's so incredibly perfect that there is no relating to the guy. His wife, who's been missing for many years, shows up and then she dies. You want to feel some compassion, right? But it is hard to feel compassion for a character that feels more like a drone and less like a human being.
Speaking of his wife, don't get me started on his weird, tripped out drug moment where he sees her in vision and then all of a sudden, because he's on drugs, she can talk about a past that he's never heard of so we can get some exposition. If you are confused by that sentence, don't worry. It's confusing. If the wife had never told him facts about the past, you can't just conjure up her ghost to tell those facts. Seriously, what just happened? That's what I was thinking. What just happened?
The entire thing was overwrought. Pendergast is beyond a renaissance man. It's too too too much. I'm still curious about the second book in the series, and I might read it. Not sure I'll read much more, however. Turns out Pendergast is not my cup of tea. ...more
Last year a student said she had gotten hooked on this series. I hemmed and hawed around, wondering if I should try it out. I finally picked up the boLast year a student said she had gotten hooked on this series. I hemmed and hawed around, wondering if I should try it out. I finally picked up the book, and I would say it is just good enough for 3 stars...perhaps because while the beginning was rough, the ending got better.
Honestly, at first all I could think was that Jim Butcher had written himself into the novel as Harry Dresden. I know nothing about Butcher. The feeling was based in the way the story was written. Towards the end? That impression had changed. Harry became a character all his own. He grew on me. I suppose that is why I felt it got better.
It reminded me, strangely enough, of the Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich. Stock characters, sure, but enough action and humor to sustain a decent story. Besides, in that series, the stories did improve over time. And because I hear good things about the series as it progresses, I am sure that I will read more. It was entertaining, after all. ...more
The last E. Lockhart book I read was Fly on the Wall, and honestly I didn't like it really at all. That was so disappointing since I'd loved the RubyThe last E. Lockhart book I read was Fly on the Wall, and honestly I didn't like it really at all. That was so disappointing since I'd loved the Ruby Oliver series and of course my favorite of hers The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks. When I heard that she'd written something new, I was both hopeful and uncertain. I mean she's one of my favorite YA authors and all, but I didn't want to be disappointed.
I was not. Yes, this was different, and it wasn't funny or filled with quirky characters like Lockhart's other stories. But it was also different in a good way, and I like seeing an author do something new with a story and with characters because really most of us are not always funny, and tragedies are part of life, too. And while I really hope she will continue to write some of her quirky, funny characters, I also hope to see her do more of this, or whatever else she chooses to do, because she is good at what she does. She has her own sense of voice, and even if this is different, it is still Lockhart's writing.
So for those of you who have read her and liked her, I recommend it, but don't expect more of the same. ...more