It was fine. I'm over being disappointed in Mead for consistently turning out formulaic junk. She's writing like 1500 books at a time, so what can you...moreIt was fine. I'm over being disappointed in Mead for consistently turning out formulaic junk. She's writing like 1500 books at a time, so what can you expect? My feelings have settled into a comfortable resignation. It was a let down after Bloodlines - hence my petty, mean-spirited two star rating - but I'm still willing to give the next book a try.
Thank goodness for advance reading copies. Dark Triumph is a strong follow-up to last year's Grave Mercy, which was a favorite among teen and adult re...moreThank goodness for advance reading copies. Dark Triumph is a strong follow-up to last year's Grave Mercy, which was a favorite among teen and adult readers alike at our store. This sequel has the same excellent attention to historical detail (maybe you don't know this about me, but I am a picky history nerd), more twisty and compelling intrigue, and strong, believable heroines. LaFevers continues to impress me with her sweet but non cheeseball romance, and with her ability to write about very difficult subjects - abuse and trauma - without veering into pity, melodrama, or exploitation. I love the world building, love the characters, and look forward to more. This is shaping up to be a great series. (less)
Loved it. Loved the laconic, post-apocalyptic cowboy language, the twists in the action, the way everything became murkier and more uncertain, and the...moreLoved it. Loved the laconic, post-apocalyptic cowboy language, the twists in the action, the way everything became murkier and more uncertain, and the way in which both the heroes and villains became more complicated. (less)
Ironskin has a moderately interesting premise, but suffers from pretty poor character building - not a lot of continuity, not enough dia...moreSPOILERS AHEAD
Ironskin has a moderately interesting premise, but suffers from pretty poor character building - not a lot of continuity, not enough dialogue, lots of inexplicable action. Least favorite part, hands down, is the cop-out ending, which finds Jane (SPLIT FOR SPOILERS)
- who spends most of the book coming to terms with her scarred face - getting a perfect new face AND built in fancy fey face superpowers. The 17 year old girl in my house was also profoundly disappointed in this ending, so it's not just crabby pants me. Pretty sad when Jane Eyre manages to be more radically feminist than the 21st century retelling. My verdict: don't bother.(less)
I feel unaccountably annoyed after finishing this book. Sydney Sage is (mostly) an awesomely nerdy girl hero, full of grace and sass and wit. Knowledg...moreI feel unaccountably annoyed after finishing this book. Sydney Sage is (mostly) an awesomely nerdy girl hero, full of grace and sass and wit. Knowledge is power, ladies and young ladies! The issue hinted at in book one - our otherwise smart girl has an eating disorder - is dealt with subtly and well in this installment, and I do love YA novels that are willing to tackle body image issues in a positive way.
But. The romantic melodrama at the heart of the story, while probably very appealing to teen girls, is starting to feel pretty formulaic, like Mead has some sort of Mad Lib style template into which she plugs names and adjectives to produce her emo scenes of sexual tension. They're all starting to run together for me. They just seem so hollow.
BECAUSE, and I think I've said this every time, Mead COULD clearly write a good book. A really good book. MAYBE A GREAT BOOK, YOU NEVER KNOW. Just take a quick gander at Malachai Wolfe, minor character, who steals the show with his improbable tale of battling a rabid moose. Or the small, sudden bits of near-poetry her dialogue achieves. So, so frustrating. Not living up to her potential, I would say, if I had a parent teacher conference with her parents. And yes, I believe that the young adult genre, even the vampire young adult genre, is a field in which greatness can be achieved.
On the other hand, greatness is rarely profitable, and she's probably laughing all the way to the bank, fanning herself with a fan made of dollar bills. What do I know.
I'll admit, though, I have this crazy but persistent fantasy of getting all her books, adult and YA, together and cutting out all the boring, repetitive sexy scenes. Maybe getting rid of most of the main characters. I'd sew the rest back together, a new epic made of her backup characters and one-liners, a story of lonesome angels and seedy demons and one-eyed moose fighters and disheveled witches and nerds. It'd be a thing of beauty.
Girl assassins, medieval herb stuff, creepy religious orders, theological dilemmas, political intrigue: this is pretty much everything I want in a you...moreGirl assassins, medieval herb stuff, creepy religious orders, theological dilemmas, political intrigue: this is pretty much everything I want in a young adult series. Yes, readers with a critical eye will find some problems - some clunky dialogue, a few strained plot points, and a rushed ending are among them - but it sure was an enjoyable read. Extra points for its sensitive handling of domestic violence - brought up as a reality of existence, but not played for exploitation. I look forward to the rest of the series. (less)
Oh, wait. No one likes it when I leave a single sentence review. Breathless fangirls and guys are even now lurking in the darkness of...moreNot good at all.
Oh, wait. No one likes it when I leave a single sentence review. Breathless fangirls and guys are even now lurking in the darkness of the internet, waiting to leap out with their all caps denunciations: HOW CAN U SAY THAT WITH NO REASON U JUST DONT GET IT ITS TO DEEP FOR YOU. I'm sorry. I'm sure some of them can spell. I'm a little bitter from my last bad Goodreads experience, with other fan fave 'Name of the Wind'. But there's no need to be rude, and I'm sorry for casting aspersions upon DeStefano's fan base.
I guess there's something that reminds me of 'Name' about this book. The same overwrought faux Victorian prose, loaded with improbably purple dialogue and shoddy character descriptions. Here's something that has bugged me for 100 pages: the main character at one point claims to 'mutter something unintelligibly' to herself. Can you do that? I mean, even if you mutter very softly and don't enunciate, I'm pretty sure you still know what you're saying. With all of the other problems with the book, I am not sure why that one stuck in my teeth, but there you go.
If you, like me, love books about bleak pitiless futures and strange diseases, just give this book a miss, no matter how alluring it may seem. You could have just stopped at my first sentence. Fever is really not good. DeStefano has captured the tone of a melodramatic teenager who mistakenly believes she's Very Deep, but since the entire book sounds the same, I'm not sure it's a stylistic choice as much as it's simply crappy prose. She very nicely thanks her editor for helping her with her "erratic" writing, but clearly more help was needed.
I'd feel worse about panning this but I'm sick of YA books with a rape and/or victim fetish. And though as a feminist I should say that's what I'm MOST sick of, I'm even more sick of wading through heavily promoted, big budget, poorly written books.
Very disappointing, considering how good Rees usually is. Flat characters, lots of weirdly loose plot lines, haphazard action, and an implausible vill...moreVery disappointing, considering how good Rees usually is. Flat characters, lots of weirdly loose plot lines, haphazard action, and an implausible villain made this a painful slog. (less)
Really impressive. The author obviously really knows this time period and nautical history, and you can truly feel the difference in the quality of th...moreReally impressive. The author obviously really knows this time period and nautical history, and you can truly feel the difference in the quality of the historical details. One of my pet peeves with historical fiction - especially YA historical fiction - is that there's a tendency to make all the characters sound and act very modern, with a few Masterpiece Theater sort of colloquialisms thrown in for color. Lack of familiarity with the time period or a fear that too much strangeness will lose their audience? At any rate, Meyer totally goes for it, moving smoothly between gutter-urchin slang to sailor talk to the polished speech of high society, and the result is a book that feels more layered and believable. Jacky is a great creation in her own right - Meyer gets her teenage high spirits and melancholy lows exactly right. (less)
Very interesting use of language and a suspenseful plot made this a great, quick read. It was a little refreshing to read a YA novel with no monsters...moreVery interesting use of language and a suspenseful plot made this a great, quick read. It was a little refreshing to read a YA novel with no monsters in it - or maybe I should say, with only monsters of the human variety. (less)
Something was missing. I kept reading, thinking surely Indians would appear. Maybe the narrator was too young to pay attention to un-European cultures...moreSomething was missing. I kept reading, thinking surely Indians would appear. Maybe the narrator was too young to pay attention to un-European cultures, too wrapped up in her own family dynamics. Maybe they hadn't gotten far enough West? Maybe Indians would appear in the next volume?
Well. No Indians at all simply didn't occur to me, until I took a look at the blogs on the Tor site. Wrede decided to skip them, being uncomfortable with the only two options she perceived for portraying white/indian relations: either the Indians could be savages, or they could be ecologically advanced sages. And after all, they massacred the megafauna, right? So without them, she could also have mammoths. And then the Indians wouldn't have crossed the landbridge and therefore they're all still Siberian.
Uh huh. So, leaving aside any debates my fellow nerds might want to throw around about the theories of mass extinction, or about migration patterns to the New World - none of which are so simple - and maybe even leaving aside questions about moral responsibility (after all, an author should have the right to simply tell a good story, right?), it seems to me that this omission has raised some really troubling issues.
It's weird, right? Weird that such a capable writer would only see two unappealing stereotypes as her options for depicting Indian cultures. Weird that she'd think that readers wouldn't see that absence and feel uncomfortable, to say the least. Her vision of 'empty America' is too close to that old propaganda about Manifest Destiny - the Indians counted as wildlife, not people. Is it OK just to erase a gigantic episode of genocide from history because it's inconvenient to your story? After so many attempts to erase native americans from the official narrative, is it OK to do it again, for different reasons, in a popular kid's book? I suppose that's where the question of moral responsibility comes in.
I've seen other readers compare this to "Years of Rice and Salt", arguing that Robinson's story killed off Europeans wholesale and no one objected, and that this is just more of the same - a clever plot device. I don't know. At least Robinson accounted for the fact that there had been Europeans in his story, and that something terrible had befallen them. It just seems sinister, somehow, that in Wrede's world the Indians never even existed, like they'd not just been exterminated, but erased. Like those creepy Soviet photos, with executed former officials edited out. History re-written by the victors, so that no one will even remember what is lost.
I don't think that's what fiction should be used for. I have really, really mixed feelings about the book. It's got so many interesting facets - the characters are great, the magical system is fresh and intriguing - but the overall emotion I'm left with is sort of a queasy disgust.