I was skeptical of the world concept even while reading it -- it felt a little hackneyed -- but boy, t...moreThat was INTERESTING. Super, super interesting.
I was skeptical of the world concept even while reading it -- it felt a little hackneyed -- but boy, the nuanced emotional/plot work and character development was AWESOME. In fact, that relational work was so complex and fascinating that it felt like worldbuilding... more than the actual world-details did. I never really got a visual on the setting, and that lack of immersion into the world itself was probably why I never felt fully immersed in the story.Plus there are a lot of world elements that don't make much sense -- all the whys and hows are just sort of ignored. (Which truly doesn't matter because CHARACTERS.) However, though I rarely felt totally lost in the world of the story, I was engaged the whole time: a part of me was watching the author at work and saying, "oooooh, I like what you're doing there." Even without the bonus points for non-issue-y queerness and disability!
So, yeah, not completely perfect, but the extra half-star for some of the best character work that I've read in YA in a long time. (less)
Gosh, this set off all my catnip alerts, but I'm afraid it just didn't have the solid writing/worldbuilding/emotional craft I needed to be able to ent...moreGosh, this set off all my catnip alerts, but I'm afraid it just didn't have the solid writing/worldbuilding/emotional craft I needed to be able to enter the story.
I just skimmed through some of the other reviews and found many of the same disappointed complaints I had about the worldbuilding and character development. I think it's interesting, though, how many are like, well, this isn't really SF, it's a romance, maybe that's the problem. But in a romance novel, I have even *higher* expectations for the crafting of the relationships, the tensions and resolutions, and intensive, interesting character development. Because good romance novels do that, even if the "plot" is virtually nonexistent. I would have been thrilled if Ascension had worked through actual family/romantic/etc relationships (not just Heather-has-two-mommies-style didacticism around poly life) and challenges.
I'm a children's librarian, so I see value in presenting issues of visibility in tidy terms when working with kids and families... developmentally, some didacticism is useful for my kids, especially in an educational setting. But this book is for grownups, ostensibly for ME, so I expect more sophistication, depth, realistic messiness. Who is this written for, those of us inside looking out or those outside looking in? I guess representation is less satisfying to me if it's primarily intended to make me palatable to others. /grouch(less)
That was a ridiculous, charming, silly, porny, gigglefest of a romp. Nothing but fun. It was so tongue in cheek that I probs won't recommend it to non...moreThat was a ridiculous, charming, silly, porny, gigglefest of a romp. Nothing but fun. It was so tongue in cheek that I probs won't recommend it to non historical romance readers, but I am delighted that I got to spend all the little breaks of my day reading something that was just so good hearted and goofy. (less)
DNFed the second half, it just got more ridiculous and I couldn't stand it. One hot mess.
Also, the blurbs. Seriously, Megan Whalen Turner? I just can...moreDNFed the second half, it just got more ridiculous and I couldn't stand it. One hot mess.
Also, the blurbs. Seriously, Megan Whalen Turner? I just cannot believe that you loved this book.
Hale is a gifted author who took a big risk here and made some good choices about characters (POC cast! MC with science smarts and a physical disability!) but ended up falling off that limb she went out on, literarily. I'll still look forward to her future books...after all, even Prince has the occasional flop. (less)
I wish I could give this FIVE MILLION STARS. I liked basically everything about it.
I purchased this one the day it came out, but was saving it for th...moreI wish I could give this FIVE MILLION STARS. I liked basically everything about it.
I purchased this one the day it came out, but was saving it for the right time. (Apparently this was after a long day of reference + 76 kids at Lego Club library program + 36 at Reading with Dogs library program. I got home, picked it up, and couldn't put it down until I was finished.) Anticipation is such a double-edged sword, though - my expectations were so high that it was hard not to be disappointed. But, oh, I was not disappointed! Here are all the things I loved:
- Jane. Badass! Smart! Loud! Fat! Imperfect! Uncertain and certain at the same time. Wonderful. And she basically... doesn't change. She learns and grows (sure) but stays fundamentally herself. I adored that the turning point for each of the MCs was changing the paradigm, changing the game.
- Oliver being super attracted to Jane's personality AND her body. Hello, yes.
- Oliver. Uncomfortably familiar.
- The writing: smart, elegant, unobtrusive. I expected that based on her earlier books, but it was nice to see it again.
- The sisters. Who I secretly hope will star in the future lesbian C. Milan novella of my dreams. Totally set up for that!
-LADY FRIENDSHIP. (The moment when that happens actually made me flap my hand frantically at my honey while saying "oh! oh! oh!" The best moment in the book, I think.)
-ALL the side characters. The villain was villainous - not flat, exactly, but single-minded. The other side characters, though, clearly had a lot of complicated backstory that shone through their minor roles. Anjan Bhattacharya, especially, was an elegant, masterful bit of character building... just that hint of what it meant to be Indian, smart, elite, an outsider, and part of a complicated history of oppression/collaboration that nobody around really understands.
-The way problems were resolved... perfectly wonderful.
I think what this reminded me of most, maybe, was Graceling. It's an odd parallel to draw because the genres, plot, and readership are so very different. And Graceling had the major flaw of not having significant lady friendships between equals (that I can remember, anyway - Bitterblue doesn't count, since she's like a little sister). But Katsa reminds me of Jane in the authenticity of her journey through doubt, just barely holding on sometimes but maintaining a fierce core. And the resolutions resonated too: no substituting a relationship for closure.
Anyway, this was more of a written fanflail than a review. Loved it. So glad I bought it AND put in a purchase request for the library so that I can put it on lists at SPL. I think I'm going to purchase a print edition for easier lending!
Fast, page-turning read.... I read it straight through instead of cleaning my house as intended. But I'm not a fan of how the issues of consent played...moreFast, page-turning read.... I read it straight through instead of cleaning my house as intended. But I'm not a fan of how the issues of consent played out, not to mention his "protective" nastiness (which felt like abuse more than banter), and I'm left feeling icky. (less)