I really liked this book. The premise is wonderful and I quickly got hooked on the story, and given what a struggle I’ve had in recent months4 ½ stars
I really liked this book. The premise is wonderful and I quickly got hooked on the story, and given what a struggle I’ve had in recent months finding books I’ve enjoyed immersing myself in, that says quite a lot.
I got very invested in the characters, caring about so many. The writing is very good, the pacing is excellent, and there is a lot of suspense, and several twists, all enjoyable and well done.
I loved the chapter titles but I wish the chapters had also been numbered. I did appreciate that most of the chapters were short, making it easy to read entire chapters during the short breaks I had over the week, although I found it hard to put down the book when I had something else I needed to do.
This is the first book in a planned young adult trilogy and in general I’m tired of trilogies and yearn for standalone books. One thing I did very much appreciate about this book though is that it’s one of the best endings of the first book of a trilogy I’ve read. At the end I got more answers than questions, even though I knew a lot more to the story is coming. I was left wanting to read more but I didn’t feel tortured by the typically written cliffhanger. Book one felt sufficiently complete so that I was left satisfied by the story thus far. I wish more authors of trilogies would write their stories like this!
For a young adult book I was also pleased that at least so far the seemingly obligatory love triangle was avoided, though for a while I thought that was what was coming. I was pleasantly surprised by how the love interest part of the story was handled. By the way, so far the romantic components are PG rated. The violence is a bit less tame but still not overly upsetting.
I think this book would be great for discussion, especially as it pertains to some of the moral quandaries the characters face, and also the society as a whole.
I sometimes guessed what would happen next, but I found that enjoyable, just as I do when reading mysteries, and I was surprised just as often, and that was a lot of fun.
Some random notes: a vegan character is mentioned (I got a kick out of that given that I’m a vegan), as is a horse I found interesting, and I loved the cat character.
I know about author’s daughter so I can guess why some of the characters were named what they were. The characters’ names are original yet very believable.
Occasionally the author used all caps for words and short phrases and I sometimes got why that was done, but I found most were not needed. As a reader I was able to read for myself what was being emphasized, without the caps.
I enjoyed the author’s earlier two children’s books. They showed a tremendous amount of creativity, they were great fun to read, and I hope they get wider readership because of this book, but they were amateurish compared to this book, which is a cut above! I would have really enjoyed those first two books at 7-10 years old and, even more than as an adult, would have delighted in the adventures and fun details, so I’d still recommend them. However, this young adult book/series deserves a professional publisher, as it’s equal to or better than many similar books published traditionally. It’s excellent.
I can recommend this for age 11 or 12 and all the way up, possibly younger if the kids are really interested. This is a good book for readers who like speculative fiction, dystopian stories, older kids and teens who face special challenges, readers who like thoughtful adventure books, coming of age stories, books about friendship and (unusual) families, and futuristic earth stories, and stories that are both escapist fun and thought provoking. This book is fine for independent readers, but also for reading aloud, including group reads with families and school classes.
Full disclosure: The author is a Goodreads/online friend of mine and she gave me the book as a gift, hoping (but not requiring) that I would read it and honestly review it. I am grateful for the opportunity to read it and really loved reading it in advance of official publication....more
I finished 2 books in one day, VERY different types of books. This one first.
I read this as a buddy read with my GR friend Laura K. and we managed toI finished 2 books in one day, VERY different types of books. This one first.
I read this as a buddy read with my GR friend Laura K. and we managed to stay very much in sync and I enjoyed reading it together.
I think this is a great book, with all questions finally answered, some not until toward the end for me, some earlier, all of them with hints along the way.
I’m giving it 4 vs. 5 stars because the story within the story within the story and even the story within the story could have been limited to many fewer pages and still been effective, and the book would have been more pleasurable for me to read. While this speculative fiction story being told and the story in the book within the book gave many clues to what happened to these characters, and did hold my attention for that reason, they were much less interesting to read than Iris narrating her present and past life, and the lives of people in her life. I trudged through The Blind Assassin chapters, even though as the book went on I saw more and more of what information they were providing. I looked forward to reading the Iris parts, both present and past.
I’d had the book on my speculative fiction shelf but I took it off when I realized the only speculative fiction part was a story being told by real people in the real world as a story within a story within a story, the first two stories being historical fiction with a tinge of mystery. I consider this a historical fiction book. It’s also a mystery in that it kept me in an always-guessing frame of mind.
There were so many quotes that I loved – if I’d selected all of them to like, they’d have taken up much more space than any review – I’m not sure why I “liked” the ones I did and not others; time and convenience and whether or not I was near the computer vs. the phone or neither is the most likely common reason.
I had to look up the definition of probably a dozen words used, a rare occurrence for me when reading a book.
Atwood writes beautifully. I love Iris as an old woman. She’s wickedly funny, brilliantly witty. Atwood did a marvelous job creating her character. I can’t believe how her characters seemed so believable, particularly Iris.
The entire story is Dickensian tragedy AND amusing!
Overall, this is a very sad story, and the reader is warned about this from the very start. Death, death, death, trauma, loss. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Atwood does an amazingly good job describing the experiences of children who’ve lost a parent while young.
There were many twists in this story, many things to keep me guessing, and I got a kick out of guessing. I was actually right about a couple main things, but some I didn’t at all guess until the reveal. I think the entire book was skillfully crafted. The construction was full of detail but with no information wasted as far as I could tell.
There were some, I think, lovely pro animal rights parts, though they were overall done very subtly.
She evokes time and place and emotions so well. It’s a gift.
I’m still trying to figure out if Laura was high functioning autistic, just very sensitive, or simply a woman ahead of her time and situation. I’d think the latter but it’s unusual for adults to tell an older sibling to always take care of the younger, especially from such a young age. Whatever her state of mental health, to me she’s a main heroine here, along with Iris, eventually, and when compared to everyone around her, Laura struck me as the most sane.
All the way through what most interested me was how and why and when Iris would finally find her voice and know her own mind and also when she’d start sticking up for herself. I like the unreliable narrator aspect to the book, even though here it was done in a different way than in most stories.
I was always guessing who/what blind assassin in the main story is. I came to the conclusion that it was Iris. With Laura, maybe with Richard, though not in the way I was rooting for.
I felt a lot of gratification that Iris outlived Winifred. Winifred and particularly Richard are villains truly worth loathing. I was also very angry at Iris’s and Laura’s father, even knowing the times and cultural differences.
I felt so happy that Sabrina would read Iris’s account. What a legacy to leave! I still wish that earlier in the story, Iris had reached out directly to Sabrina. She had chances. Actually, there are so many regrets for the characters in this book. I think that’s what makes it particularly sad. There were other options for them.
I love the description of how to determine intelligent life on earth, the only part I loved of the story within the story, working on a story: “It’s about a race of extraterrestrials who send a spaceship to explore Earth. They’re composed of crystals in a high state of organization, and they attempt to establish communications with those Earth beings they’ve assumed are like themselves: eyeglasses, windowpanes, Venetian paperweights, wine goblets, diamond rings. In this they fail. They send back a report to their homeland: This planet contains many interesting relics of a once-flourishing but now-defunct civilization, which must have been of a superior order. We cannot tell what catastrophe has caused all intelligent life to become extinct. The planet currently harbours only a variety of viscous green filigree and a large number of eccentrically shaped globules of semi-liquid mud, which are tumbled hither and thither by the erratic currents of the light, transparent fluid that covers the planet’s surface. The shrill squeaks and resonant groans produced by these must be ascribed to frictional vibration, and should not be mistaken for speech.” Too funny! I need to give all of Atwood’s books a chance.
I don’t think my review is doing the book justice, and I’m afraid my review won’t even help potential readers decide whether or not this book is for them, something I generally aim to do, but I see that there are nearly 5,000 reviews already posted at Goodreads, and many others elsewhere, so I don’t feel any great responsibility to do so. I’m really glad I read the book. I’m also glad I read it with a friend because, especially at the beginning, The Blind Assassin chapters might have turned me off from continuing to read. I love speculative fiction stories but not bad ones, and this is not a great one. The main part of the book is excellent though.["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"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
I read this as a buddy read with my Goodreads friend Diane D. We didn’t expect to be able to at all stay in sync this time, but we did very we4 ½ stars
I read this as a buddy read with my Goodreads friend Diane D. We didn’t expect to be able to at all stay in sync this time, but we did very well, at least as well as we usually do, starting and finishing on the same day, and never getting that far apart from each other, chatting as we read, using chapter and page numbers for any spoilers, and it’s always more fun to be able to do this when doing a buddy read.
I’m so glad that I read this book.
The writing is lovely.
I enjoyed guessing who the 1990s woman was, but at some point I just wanted to know. Overall, most of the time, I guessed correctly, except for one small detail the reader isn’t given until late in the book, and one other detail I somehow missed that wouldn’t have helped me figure it out anyway, but as I read I vacillated with my guessing.
It felt like a big, sweeping, epic of a story. There were so many instances of heartbreak, and of suspense. I was going to single out a character or two, but there were so many characters I grew to care about deeply, to like, some to hate. I appreciated that most of the main characters were very multi-dimensional, and well drawn, and changed over time, and were therefore completely believable. There were so many quotes that hit home.
War is bad, very, very bad, and WWII in places and situations under Nazi occupation were described with sharp intensity. I felt as though I was there throughout most of the situations.
The author thanked the author of Sarah’s Key for helping her with accuracy of depicting France during WWII, and she seemed to do her research.
I love what my friend Chrissie said in her review “Such events did happen, but all in one family? It was like a checklist had to be followed.” I still laugh every time I think of what she wrote. Chrissie didn’t like the book, and she compellingly expresses herself, saying many wise things. Yet, I still disagree. I got caught up in the characters and events, and I think the story is believable. (I’m thinking of one thing toward the very end that might have been a bit too convenient, but I do believe that truth is often stranger than fiction (to paraphrase the famous saying) and for me nothing described was too unbelievable.
I do have a problem with one choice a major character makes at the end, and I wish she (and the author?) had decided differently.
I think these people and their stories will stick with me for a long time. I grew to love the two sisters, the characters at the heart of the novel, but many other characters are just as memorable. I want to say so much about them, but I’d have to use too many spoiler tags.
Overall, this was a very satisfying book, one I found hard to put down, and I know I found it even more enjoyable because I was reading it with a friend.
ETA: I did get very emotionally invested. Did I not mention that?!...more