A very satisfying conclusion to a trilogy that I ultimately adored. I'm sure I'll go back and read the whole saga, because I'll have to visit the peop...moreA very satisfying conclusion to a trilogy that I ultimately adored. I'm sure I'll go back and read the whole saga, because I'll have to visit the people I grew to love.(less)
Gosh I loved this book - the first adult novel of Gaiman's I've read. His bad guys are truly bad, his heroes are nuanced, he does these nasty little p...moreGosh I loved this book - the first adult novel of Gaiman's I've read. His bad guys are truly bad, his heroes are nuanced, he does these nasty little plays on words that delight you, he is the master of the bizarre yet endearing. While Gaiman's themes are adult, he wraps readers in a childlike cocoon of "ooooh maybe there really is a whole city beneath London, and if there is it's just like THIS, with Black Friars in every station and Shepherds in Shepherds Bush." I felt that I was taken to another world, and that I believed in it wholeheartedly while I was reading. (less)
I’ve never been into books about dragons and fairies and whatnot (I don’t even care for Lord of the Rings), but Larbalestier’s magic is so suffused wi...moreI’ve never been into books about dragons and fairies and whatnot (I don’t even care for Lord of the Rings), but Larbalestier’s magic is so suffused with real, temporal, relational implications that it was easy to overlook the unicorn-adorned fantasy sticker on the book’s spine. Magic, in this world, does not rely on the wand-and-spell clichés that make Harry Potter so endearing, instead finding inspiration in psychic energy that flows from humans to the natural world and back again.
The heroine, Reason, is a fascinating narrator, her first-person experience allowing the reader to grasp new revelations as they occur; the addition of her friends Tom’s and Jay-Tee’s cross-cultural viewpoints rounds out the perspective on the mysterious happenings in Sydney and New York. I also liked that magic was loosely defined within the world of the novel, following certain rules (e.g., the shocking double-bind at the center of the plot affects all witches) while freely bending others (for example, magic is expressed differently in individuals; Reason’s manifests as a preternatural feel for numbers and math, while Jay-Tee’s is centered in relational connections and crowds and Tom’s in clothing and fabric).
I’m eager to read the rest of the series to see how the questions raised in the first installment resolve, such as the mystery of the black and purple feathers and, most pressingly, whether the quandary of “magic or madness” can be circumvented. (less)
Damn, what a great book! An Abundance of Katherines represents the best kind of young adult fiction - the kind that even my regular, non-YA-fic-geeky...moreDamn, what a great book! An Abundance of Katherines represents the best kind of young adult fiction - the kind that even my regular, non-YA-fic-geeky grown-up friends might like to read, because it's just a fantastic, universal, well-crafted story.
The characters in this book are uniformly likeable, but not in a bland way; in particular, the friendship between protagonist Colin, a washed-up child prodigy, and his buddy Hassan, a wise-cracking Muslim, is dead-on about the way guys communicate with and care for each other. Also, about 20 per cent of the novel involves math equations and graphs, and I didn't get bored once. (I actually have no idea if 20% is a good estimate for the amount of math in this book, which is why it's amazing that I didn't fling it across the room in disgust at the first sign of cosines. Little math humor for ya, there.)
One of the best things about Katherines is what happened after I finished it: I found John Green's website. Which led me to a project he's working on with his brother, Hank Green, proprietor of EcoGeek.org:
For the entirety of 2007, John Green and Hank Green (both of whom are almost always, I am certain, referred to by their first and last names - it just feels right) have eschewed text-based communication and will communicate with one another by exchanging videos for all the world to see. There are also video visits from some of their "secret siblings," which led me to a really funny YA writer named Maureen Johnson which led me to about ten other YA authors whose books are now on my hold list. (Apparently there's like a whole YA cool kids posse out there, but they all pride themselves on being nerds, which, fair enough, you're a YA author.) Anyway, Brotherhood 2.0, as the project is known, is very funny, and I'm completely addicted and smitten with the brothers Green and their gaggle of Nerd Fighters. Start with January 1, and let the procrastination begin.(less)
how i live now has been called a modern-day Jane Eyre – which I can dig, had Bronte’s novel been set during a terrorist occupation and featured incest...morehow i live now has been called a modern-day Jane Eyre – which I can dig, had Bronte’s novel been set during a terrorist occupation and featured incestuous teenage romance. (St John Rivers doesn't count.) Fleeing a disinterested father, a wicked stepmother, and an eating disorder, 15-year-old Daisy moves to England to live with her cousins on a farm. Their idyllic adventures are interrupted by a war with an unnamed, unseen enemy, and the children are forced to go on the run as food, water, and eventually hope begin to run out.
how i live now is excellent on a number of levels. The plot is well-constructed, with Daisy retelling her story from the future by dropping ominous hints through foreshadowing. Some critics complain about Daisy’s unique brand of grammar, erratic sentence structure, and Random Capitalization, but I believe the style Rosoff selected for her anti-heroine reinforces the confusion in Daisy’s own mind as well as the chaos of the war. The circumstances surrounding the war are eerily relevant to the type of unstructured, viral attacks facing the world today, and the cousins’ initially blase attitude towards the seemingly distant enemy is realistic. Although I was disoriented by the narrative jump forward from Daisy’s rescue to six years after the war, I found the conclusion satisfying and powerful – even though I knew I would miss the family as soon as I turned that last page.