Imagine my joy on finding a YA Welsh literature novel. I didn't even know they existed! This novel was getting 4 stars up until the very end. The endinImagine my joy on finding a YA Welsh literature novel. I didn't even know they existed! This novel was getting 4 stars up until the very end. The ending was so unsatisfactory I felt like I had wasted time reading any of it. Which is such a shame because up until that point, I really thought I had stumbled upon a hidden gem of a book. I am only the fifth person to take this out from my local library, the book is in near perfect condition, and I just had to add it manually to the goodreads library. So when I say hidden gem, I really meant hidden gem!
This is a novel about Twm Sion Cati, Wales' version of Robin Hood. I can't explain how exciting this is for an English teacher in Wales, to find a YA novel that deals with Welsh culture and history? This ticks all kinds of Curriculum Cymraeg boxes!
Not only that, like I said, it's really good! There is a new girl settling in to a new life, arsey celebrities, humour, time travel. No really, you guys. There is time travel. You see the premise of this book is that Midge, the female protagonist, somehow finds herself back in the 16th century in Twm's cave by some total fluke of nature. The highjinks that occurs is both charming and readable, and Midge becomes more and more likeable as the story emerges. The narrative is peppered with Welsh words, and traditional Welsh items of culture. It's imaginative, and enjoyable, and at this point I was all ready to rave on goodreads about it.
Then BAM, it changes. (view spoiler)[ Because Midge returns to her time, with Twm crashing in on the journey, and this is where it goes down hill. Midge remembers nothing other than confusing glimpses of her 4 weeks in the 16th century. She ultimately falls in love with Twm again, but not before betraying him and being really annoying in the process.
This was so frustrating for me as a reader, all the character growth she had gone through previously just disappeared to nothing. She returned to her selfish, stunted teen self, and I realised how much I had grown to love the character she had become. (hide spoiler)]
It wasn't ever going to reach 5 stars for me for three reasons. 1) For such an imaginative novel about Twm Sion Cati, it really didn't give us enough information about him. Anybody reading this novel having never heard of him, would have left not much the wiser about his history. Some of the famous anecdotes are included, but it doesn't ever feel like there is much depth. Perhaps that is because there are such mixed reports on him, I don't know.
2) It had glimpses of female brilliance, then it was almost as if Ms Morgan got nervous about the feminist overtones and had to reign it in. I think this was all due to (view spoiler)[ the regression of her character. She built up a glorious competent, self sufficient character, and then forced her back into submission with the loss of her memory. It was beyond frustrating. (hide spoiler)]
and, 3) The final chapter was 2 and a half pages long. It was completely unsatisfactory, aside from a little glimpse into the 16th century Midge I had come to know and love, and left us with far more questions than answers. It really did feel rushed, as if a final word was an afterthought that needed to be dealt with. It really was a disappointing finish to a book with such great potential.
All in all I would recommend this novel. The story really was one of the most imaginative and, therefore, exciting that I have come across in quite a while. More Welsh Lit YA, please!
I was 13 in 1996. I remember in great detail when my friend got her first beeper and thinking it was revolutiOh boy, oh boy, oh boy. What a mixed bag.
I was 13 in 1996. I remember in great detail when my friend got her first beeper and thinking it was revolutionary. Little bit pointless, but revolutionary!
I remember signing on to AOL, hearing the crackle and beep as the internet connected, and being welcomed by that automated voice.
I remember ask jeeves being the search engine of choice and hotmail being the best email provider.
I remember sitting on my stairs nearly in tears because I was supposed to be online at 8pm. In a chat room. Chatting with friends. At 8pm. And WHY was my mother doing this to me? She knows I need to be there! JUST GET OFF THE PHONE ALREADY!!
Because we had one communal computer in our house. And in 1996-1997/8 we had one phone line.
Oh how I remember those days. Days without mobile phones. Without Wikipedia to do your homework. Without email and msn and facebook. So what a brilliant premise for a book. Set it in the time just before the internet took off, and have your characters come across their own facebook 15 years in the future. Sheer genius!
But it is also in this genius that the biggest failing of this book lays. Namely, that I was 13 in 1996. I'm 28 now. Surely the target audience for this novel will have no recollection of 1996? And more importantly, no recollection of a pre-internet time.
The nostalgia that runs through this novel was written for me. For my generation. And don't get me wrong, I think the nostalgia that runs through this novel is brilliant. It is so brilliant, I want to live in 1996 again. I want to be a teenager again, one that doesn't have to worry about what is written on facebook about me. One that actually leaves the house to hang out with friends. To go to the park. To ride bikes. I want to be a teenager that takes photos and doesn't have them tagged on the internet, but fills up photo albums with them.
Sadly, I don't think the target audience of this novel will appreciate all that stuff as much as me.
I want to address some of the comments I've seen floating around, about how shallow and vapid Emma is. That she only dates boys for their looks and doesn't care about anyone but herself. To that I say; B U L L S H I T
Double standard much? I can think of multiple YA and adult books in which the male character can think only of the girls BOOBIES. And how hot she is! And how fiiiine her ass looks in her tight, tight jeans. And how they want to date her because she is so hot.
How dare a female character be attracted to a boys hair, or chest, or eyes. How dare she! That is not what girls are supposed to be like! They aren't supposed to date boys and not really care much for them! They aren't supposed to spend their time thinking about their selves and being concerned that they are unhappy in the future! GOD DAMN THESE SELFISH, SHALLOW WOMEN!
Emma was a teenage girl! A teenage girl figuring herself out, and not causing much harm in the process if you ask me. She eventually came to see that she was so unhappy 15 years in the future, because she was so unhappy now. What a poignant revelation to have as a teenager.
Phew okay. Rant over.
In general I thought this book was a delight. It was clever in it's premise, average in it's execution, and rushed in it's ending. But it is in the depth of message that I most appreciated it.
Because our actions do have consequences. Everything we do today, every way in which treat somebody, speak to somebody, every little bit of effort we do or don't put in; they all have consequences. I can't get past the sheer genius of a teenager seeing just how directly her actions affect her life 15 years into the future, to give this book any less than 4 stars.
I just want an adult version of this written. One that is aimed at my generation. And one that can be truly appreciated....more
Strap in tightly, there's a scientology rant in here! Wheeee!
Anybody who knows a marginal amount about sociopaths/psychopathy would be right in thinkiStrap in tightly, there's a scientology rant in here! Wheeee!
Anybody who knows a marginal amount about sociopaths/psychopathy would be right in thinking it is dangerous, and can be, an evil condition. This book is not so much about that. Sure, it is Ronson's 'journey' through the madness industry, but that includes a dally with scientologists, a brief glimpse into the world of diagnosing/medicating bi-polar children and a tale of reality TV hell.
He throws around a lot of big wig psychopathy names. He even had drinks on several occasions with Bob Hare himself! But I was mistaken in believing this was going to be a research based book, looking into the idea of how many of our businesses/governments/Really Important People are, in fact, psychopathic.
What you get instead, is an almost jovial romp through one random experience after another, all narrated in the semi-humorous, semi-deadpan voice of Ronson.
I will admit to getting three thirds of the way through this book, and wondering where the hell it was going. Where did all these strings connect? What was the overall point going to be?!
And then he made it. And I felt a little disappointed to say the least. But before I get to that, let’s talk about how it does in fact raise some very interesting questions, and how it also doesn’t raise enough.
The idea of psychopathy being diagnosed based on a 20 point list is perhaps the most interesting question. You see, as long as you get 30 points or more out of 40, you are officially a psychopath. Ronson went on a course taught by Bob Hare himself in order to learn how to ‘spot a psycho’. However, what I find to be the most terrifying aspect of psychopathy, the lack of empathy, or of any ability in fact to feel ‘normal’ human emotion, may in fact be one of the 10 points missing from any given psychopath’s overall score.
This begs the question, should all psychopath’s be treated the same, if they all tick a variety of boxes?
An even more interesting question that Ronson didn’t touch on, is what leads some psychopath’s to be violent, aggressive, evil people? And what leads others to be CEO’s of big companies? This is where I thought this book was leading, but this is not where it went at all.
Perhaps my biggest issue with the book was his dangerous lack of research into scientology. Or perhaps it was just a fear of what the litigious nature of scientologists would do to him if he did, in fact, write about them in any more detail. You see, he made points about how they are indeed a little crazy, and how they may be making a valid point about anti-psychiatry but taking it too far. But what he failed to acknowledge in any way, is that scientology is arguably run by one of the most well protected psychopaths out there. How can any ‘religious’ (and let me make clear that, yes, those quotes are there for a reason. Scientology is as much a religion as the Avon lady trying to sell you her wares is) group claiming to be against something so vehemently, also be led by someone badly in need of some anti-psychotic councelling/medication? These threearticles do a brilliant job of detailing some of the issues surrounding the cult, and they explain in much more detail about the three defectors that Ronson moved over very quickly.
Where it ended up was a vague conclusion about how maybe we shouldn’t label people based on their psychopathic criteria, maybe we should base them on their human criteria. Which also brought in a whole side story about how mental illnesses are being diagnosed far too easily and far too young, in some cases. (It would seem from Ronson’s narrative this mostly takes place in America. But who knows, it was a vague side story that only interviewed one mother with 2 diagnosed and medicated bi-polar children, and felt like it was there just for Ronson to point out how bad that mother was for not being able to cope with her children.)
Did it feel like he was sympathising with psychopaths? Kinda, yeah. Did it feel like he had really got to the crux of what is possible if you are a psychopath? Not really, no.
But at the same time, it still made me wonder about the humanity of some psychopaths. If one feels no emotion as we know it, no empathy or conscience, where is the humanity in that? Can someone be human if they experience no humanity? And how do you cope with that? These are questions that weren’t really answered. But questions I’m hoping other books on this topic might.
It’s a really easy read. Even with my issues with it I would recommend it, I passed it onto my mother as soon as I had finished it and she too finished it in less than a day. ...more
I just remembered why I took so long to get around to reading a book I'd had on pre-order for a few months before it's release. I had a terrible feelinI just remembered why I took so long to get around to reading a book I'd had on pre-order for a few months before it's release. I had a terrible feeling it would go this way, but I carried on regardless. But I can deny it no more. This... this book. It's... well, it's a fracking love story!
1 Star = Good job, you wrote a book and managed to get it published. 2 Star = I love Xander. I kind of liked Indie. Some of the writing was beautiful.
I'm not a fan of book 1, but I still can't get over the fact that this is supposed to be a young adult dystopian novel. These things are written for me, you guys. I love them. And I went into this one hoping some of the unending, unanswered questions left from the first instalment would finally be answered.
I think Condie has a beautiful, poetic writing style. It is perfect for writing a love story. When you read her words you can do nothing but let them envelop you in their gentle beauty. Unfortunately the enveloping was a little too heavy and I mostly had to try to keep my eyes open through this book.
It's pages and pages contemplating love, what love is, who loves who, how to write a poem about love, and OH MY GODS - cut me some slack. My favourite character wasn't even IN this book.
Xander, bless his heart, was cut ruthlessly out of this novel, and instead I was forced to read the inner dialogue of Cassia and Ky CONTEMPLATING Xander. I don't want to contemplate him! I want him in the novel, in all his cheeky glory!
And if we're going down the character route, let's discuss. The new kids? For the most part bland, boring, yawn. But maybe that is because they all sound the same. Condie struggles to give her characters a unique sense of voice. On more than a few occasions I was confused about the use of feminine/masculine pronouns the narrator was using because I genuinely didn't know which character I was reading.
On the plus side, for a while there I thought Ky was going to surprise us with some gay tendencies. WHICH. HELLO? Where *are* all the gays in this place? Surely that would be an interesting avenue to explore in a society that takes all free will away from its members.
Don't even talk to me about Vick. Just. Don't. I can't even handle the manipulative way in which Condie used his character in order to force some sense of feeling out of the readership. I can't EVEN.
Ky? I guess he's semi-interesting. His reason for not liking The Rising made no sense to me though. Where was he planning on going? What did he think would happen? Him and Cassia were just going to wonder around The Carving for the rest of their days?
AND WHILE WE'RE HERE. Did they, or did they not have The Sex?? (See, I can capitalise too.) REALLY now, you guys. They had 'just one night'. They made a big deal out of having 'just one night'. So did they really just hold hands and kiss on their 'just one night'? I NEED TO KNOW THESE THINGS. There was a kind of flashback memory on Cassia's part, when she remembers him touching her in different body parts. But it just isn't clear to me.
Cassia? I can take or leave her. I appreciate Condie's attempt at creating a female character that is strong, and smart and blah blah blah. But I do not appreciate the anvilicious attempted feminist overtones. Just because you have a boy narrating at how strong the female is - doesn't mean she is any different to any other love-lorn female protagonist out there. In fact, I would go so far as to say I have some issues with a female character being summed up and idealised by a male character.
I felt like I was running a relay race that required full dexterity in order to dodge the flying anvils.
Was the point of this book? That they had reached that part of their relationship where they had to realise neither one of them isn't perfect? Where they had to overcome that stage in which they place one another on a pedestal? Was that it? Thinking about it, maybe that was it. Because, after all, this is a love story with a side of dystopia.
I still haven't got answers. Are The Enemy and The Society one and the same? Is The Society sending out all the anomolies to die, and ultimately killing them their selves? Why are The Rising just as controlling and gross as The Society? They finally found it and were still told exactly where they had to go and do! Why don't the tablets work on everyone? WHY the hell are the blue tablets poisonous? What is The Warming?! Is that like global warming?! Who the hell put Ky's name in The Matching? WHY IS EVERYTHING CAPITALISED?! DO I EVEN CARE?!
I just realised this review would suggest I do care. When in actual fact I finished this book a couple of days ago and have only thought about it in order to write this review. If this wasn't a trilogy I would stop here. But there's only one to go. So.
FINAL PREDICTION I tell you now, if Condie attempts to manipulate us into thinking Xander is not 'meant to be' with Cassia by character assassinating him in the next book, I might flip out. Push tables over. Throw things out of windows. The whole nine yards. Coz this is where I fear it's going, you guys.
I'm going to come back and properly review this one. Needless to say: I didn't love it as much as the first, but I did still love it. It lost a starI'm going to come back and properly review this one. Needless to say: I didn't love it as much as the first, but I did still love it. It lost a star because when a character talks about how happy they are, we all know where that plot line is going. And it did. Too predictable for my tastes. ...more
As a bit of a Buffy purist (read: loving the earlier seasons best) I had mixed feelings about this series. I guess my stars echo that also.
On the oneAs a bit of a Buffy purist (read: loving the earlier seasons best) I had mixed feelings about this series. I guess my stars echo that also.
On the one hand: OMG! BUFFY! IT CONTINUES! AND JOSS WHEDON IS DOING IT! *Cue fangirl squealing*
And on the other: Oh gosh. Just let it die. Season 6 and 7 were pretty dire. The plot lines were contrived, all the love between the scoobies had disappeared and Buffy was interminably annoying.
But I cracked it open anyway, and was pleasantly surprised. This really is Buffy with no budget. There's a flying Willow. And guns. And a whole team of slayers. AND NOT ENOUGH GILES. Ahem.
My complaint is that whilst I felt the the portrayal of friendship between the scoobies was better than it had been in the final eps. It still didn't match up to the sensitive, heart warming moments that seemed to be lost around season 4 or so. But maybe that is because this is a graphic novel, and I really can't have my cake and eat it at the same time.
The final story in this volume is the one I found closest to old school Buffy. It was carefully and beautifully depicted, and I really felt like it got to the heart of why so many of us fell in love with this kick-ass show in the first place.
I'll be reading the rest of the volumes for sure. ...more
What can I say that hasn’t already been fangirled said already?
It seems like there was a lot of hype about this novel that I had completely missed. I bought it because amazon recommended it to me, it’s really as exciting as that. I had no idea it was already a best seller, no idea it had amassed a fanbase the size of the OASIS, I just had no.idea about anything. And then I read it. And then I read it again. Because, hot shit, I couldn’t put this book down.
Let’s break it down into three easy categories on why this book is so awesome.
Because it’s relevant. It’s an exciting and poignant glimpse into the dehumanisation of people through technology/capitalism. The world has gone to shit, but those who have money don’t care. There is unheard of tech capable of dealing with some of their societal ills, but people want to sit in a virtual reality where they can be anything, do anything, say anything. Maybe the most chilling image in this novel for me was the glimpse of the outside world Parzival gets. The streets are littered with homeless people, it is freezing cold, they have no food or shelter and are huddled around fires. But they are huddled around fires with the virtual reality goggles strapped to their face so they don’t have to think about how they are homeless and freezing and standing around a fire. That image terrified me. They were hooked up to a virtual world in which they could do most anything, yet their IRL world was falling apart.
Because it’s clever. For the symmetry of Halliday sending a video to all OASIS users announcing the quest, to Parzival sending his call to arms email to all users. Clever. For the themes of nostalgia clearly depicted through the cultural obsession with the 80s, and no better recreated than in Middletown, Halliday’s home town made virtual. Clever. For some of the best world building I have read in a stand alone novel. Ever. Clever. For an epic quest that kept me entertained and on the edge of my seat throughout. Clever, clever, clever.
Finally, because it is an excellent piece of gender commentary. Cline has created a fictional world in which gender and race really can be stripped away. You can be anyone within the OASIS. As it is very clear from everything else going on in the world, this virtual reality really hasn’t made the planet better. Therefore it should be of no surprise to us that racism and sexism is still prevalent. (view spoiler)[I am not suggesting a black female character having to pretend to be a white male so she can get anywhere within the world is a good thing. I am saying it is an excellent portrayal of the insidious lack of progress the real world has actually made. It is another example of the dehumanisation this tech has encouraged/ignored. (hide spoiler)] But Cline does a clever deconstruction of this. Art3mis is better than Parzival at most things, she is smart and quick and funny. And she is a mere girl. (view spoiler)[ Aech is one of THE top ranking combatants. And she is a mere girl. (hide spoiler)] With the innumerable amount of mysogynistic and dangerous tropes purported by video games, comic books and society in general, this IS the most revolutionary point for me. We only need to look to feminist frequencies recent experience of harassment and silencing when she dared to criticize sexism in video games, to understand how real this issue is. (view spoiler)[So sure, it is a shame some of the characters have to pretend to be other people to be taken seriously. But that is the point. They are still some of most kick-ass video gamers out there, and they just so happen to be female. (hide spoiler)] This is about how little progress the world has made, and how ridiculous it is for having not made it.
My love for this books knows no bounds. Only increased with the recent announcement by Cline of a real life easter egg hunt. I’m just ready and waiting for July 1st for the second gate to open. You should be too.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
It feels like it has been an age since I read a 5 star. I will review this one soon, I spent a while thinking it was a 3. And then it wasn't. And it wIt feels like it has been an age since I read a 5 star. I will review this one soon, I spent a while thinking it was a 3. And then it wasn't. And it was glorious. ...more