This book is a fairy tale gone wrong. My main problem is Kyle, the main character. He is a creepy and manipulative stalker and he has not changed at a...moreThis book is a fairy tale gone wrong. My main problem is Kyle, the main character. He is a creepy and manipulative stalker and he has not changed at all by the end of the story.
1) He looks through the mirror to spy at the girl.
2) The only reason he befriends the girl is for him to be able to change back into who he was.
The story does not add anything to the fairy tale of Beauty and the Beast, aside from introducing the creepy element.
I like Alex Flinn's previous two novels, so I am sorely disappointed at Beastly.
So, Ms Flinn, please tell me that the reason you wrote this book is to highlight the creepy aspect of the 'Beauty and the Beast' fairy tale and that you meant this to be a satire. (less)
If you've read a Sarah Dessen novel before, you can quite easily guess the plot of her other novels. But this is not necessarily a bad thing. Dessen e...moreIf you've read a Sarah Dessen novel before, you can quite easily guess the plot of her other novels. But this is not necessarily a bad thing. Dessen explores different themes each time and she is a lovely writer.
I really like this book. I finished this book in one sitting and was completely absorbed with the story. It was very easy to connect with the story and the characters. The book is not just about falling in love; it raises important issues which are perfect for book club discussion or individual reflection. These three things are indications of a good book in my opinion.
'Lock and Key' seamlessly blends several different themes relevant to young adults: relationship between independence, dependence on other people, risks and rewards in choosing to love and maturity.
The main character is believable and I easily identified with her. The ending is quiet and realistic, which is a relief because I cannot stand sugary-married-happily-ever-after endings. Dessen's ability to write in an understated way is definitely why I like her.
I can't say whether fans of Sarah Dessen will rate these books as highly as I do. I've read her works before, but it was years ago. If you've recently read a Dessen novel, the similar setting of one girl learning something through falling in love may be too repetitive. (less)
Positive things - Great actions scenes - Spunky and kick-ass heroine - Original concept of a 'graceling'
Negative things - Couldn't care less about the rom...morePositive things - Great actions scenes - Spunky and kick-ass heroine - Original concept of a 'graceling'
Negative things - Couldn't care less about the romantic interest, but this is a minor issue - Perhaps should have been written in two books or even three books. The romance bit forms the bulk of the story. At only 300 something pages, this doesn't leave a lot of space for the plot to develop. Hence the bad guy is only discussed towards the end of the book. - This book reminds me of Finnikin Rock by Melina Marchetta. I feel that both books have interesting settings; the exploration of which is superseded by the focus on budding romances. Being a fantasy fan, I am more interested in the writers writing about these worlds than any romance. The romance parts in these books are just standard anyway. There is nothing special about them - it's been done by countless other authors.
Recommended? Why the hell not? This is a very easy and engaging read. But it may not be suitable for younger teens because of some mature scenes.
**spoiler alert** I have a love/hate relationship with Rose, the main character. She can be spunky but also immature and annoying. Since the story is...more**spoiler alert** I have a love/hate relationship with Rose, the main character. She can be spunky but also immature and annoying. Since the story is written from her point-of-view, her spunkiness and wittiness give a fresh voice to the story. At the same time, it also makes the book too high-schoolish for me.
Rose can also be arrogant. She says that she's curvy and all the boys prefer her body rather than the supermodel-skinniness of the Moroi. There is even a passage where the author attempts to highlight the silliness of being too skinny through Rose's voice.
Another thing which annoys me is the constant reference that Dmitri is older by seven years and thus is not a good match for Rose! 7 years is not that much of a difference in real life. I hate how Rose mentions this as the first reason for not being able to get together with Dmitri. Her duty as a guardian should be the foremost reason!
Other characters are pretty much one-dimensional. Lissa, especially. She is portrayed as a soft, charismatic girl who sometimes stands up for herself. Her relationship with Rose does not seem to be very strong. She has, however, a wonderful relationship with Christian Ozera, who is my favourite character.
The plot is pretty predictable - I can guess who is going to like whom, who the bad guys are.
In conclusion, a light book (even when the subject matter is vampires) with a spunky protagonist. Anyone interested in the YA vampire novels should give this a try.
A couple of interesting things: 1) The girl in the cover looks like Angelina Jolie. Is this a coincidence? 2) I kept imagining Wesker from Resident Evil 5 as Dmitri. 3) Jason Dohring from Moonlight is my Christian Ozera. (less)
The only reason that I read this book is to finish the series. All my comments from the previous two books still stand. The book is unnecessarily long...moreThe only reason that I read this book is to finish the series. All my comments from the previous two books still stand. The book is unnecessarily long and a waste of time really. (less)
I admit I was slogging through the first 60 pages. It was quite difficult to immerse myself in the world of Uglies because Westerfeld gives little exp...moreI admit I was slogging through the first 60 pages. It was quite difficult to immerse myself in the world of Uglies because Westerfeld gives little explanation. I had to rely on his characters to make sense of the world that they live in.
As I went further into the story, I found that this is not necessarily a negative point. His characters do not know much about their world either and the fact that the readers can learn about this world with the characters makes it easier to sympathise with the characters. I'm pleased to say that the next 350+ pages are good fun. I cannot put this book down - it is that addictive.
Westerfeld knows how to blend different genres. Uglies is quite an uncategorisable book - it's got adventure, drama, sci-fi, romance and humour. I admire this balance and originality.
It would be easier to create stereotypical/genre works based on the very interesting premise of Uglies. A full-blown sci-fi? Could be a good book, but it would be less original. An adventure book (saving friends and the world)? Too straightforward and may miss the underlying message. An angsty story about body image? Waste of the sci-fi element and a character study would do more justice for that kind of story. I actually thought that this book would be like Sara's Face by Melvin Burgess, which is a clinical and extreme look at beauty. But it is not like that at all.
Instead of focusing on any of the above, Uglies focuses on Tally, who is endearing, relatable despite her flaws.
Another thing that I admire about Westerfeld is his writing style. It is not overtly complex, but it is fresh, clear, simple and effective. No cliched portrayal of the Pretties (like, that is so hot). This book is highly recommended to teens, even the younger ones.
Image of Tally when I was reading: Talulah Riley, from Five Little Pigs (Hercule Poirot) and Moving Finger (Miss Marple).(less)
**spoiler alert** Why did I read this book despite not quite loving the first book of the series? Hope and masochism. I hope that Bray will pick up on...more**spoiler alert** Why did I read this book despite not quite loving the first book of the series? Hope and masochism. I hope that Bray will pick up on the interesting elements which could have been discussed in the first book. That, and the fact that I like torturing myself sometimes by reading books which I know I'm not gonna like.
At least in this instance my expectation is low. Thus the book cannot possibly fail to live up to my expectation, right? Sadly it did.
Her writing style has not improved. It still remains distant, non-engaging. She writes what will pass as a piece written in Victorian times, but completely lacks her own personal input, her spin on the Victorian English.
The book plods along while concepts such as the Temple and the Runes (which Gemma destroys in the first book) are not explained. After 2 books, how is it possible that I still know and indeed care so little about an important place like the Realms?
This book is worse than the first one because Kartik is absent for a large part of the book. Gemma has a new romantic interest, the ever so gentlemanly and bland Simon.
The subplot regarding the father is cliched and so is the revelation on Felicity's father. The sensationalism that these plot lines creates is hardly justified. I guess you could argue that this illustrates how repressed the Victorian society was and how not everything was what it looked like. But to me, they look as if Bray just writes them to 'shock' the readers.
Bray should stop writing what she thinks is the proper way to write a Victorian period piece. Don't write what it is supposed to be and following every rule to a t. Own it and make it interesting! (less)
Misleading cover! I expected a book with passionate repressed sexuality and a hint of delicious magic. Of course, in a totally young-adult way. That w...moreMisleading cover! I expected a book with passionate repressed sexuality and a hint of delicious magic. Of course, in a totally young-adult way. That will teach me never to judge a book by its cover. Or by its title.
Why is it so bad? Her writing style attempts to be accurately Victorian to the point that it comes across as sterile and robotic. Devoid of any personal flair.
Bray decides to focus on the fantasy/adventure aspect of the story, despite it being the weakest part of her writing. The introduction of the Order and basically everything which happens after Gemma goes to England (ie the plotlines) are contrived.
The result is a book which is not very engaging to read.
India The story starts off in India, but I don't think it makes that much of a difference if it was set in England from the word go. As you'll find out, there is no discussion on the impact of this background on Gemma's current life at Spence. Not on the relationships she formed nor on her understanding dynamics of female cliques.
I suppose India is chosen to bring a sense of the exotic and to introduce Kartik, the romantic interest. Kartik is appealing, but I cannot believe him as an Indian in the 19th century. Let alone believe that he could pose as a Gypsy. Can't people really spot the difference between a Gypsy (usually of Hungarian descent) and an Indian? If Bray wants to put her own spin on things that are established, then she should have written a fantasy novel set in a made-up world.
Cliques The relationship between the girls is odd. None of the girls is actually likable. Ann is too mousy, Felicity too brash and Pippa too shallow. I thought cliques and bullying were going to be a storyline because Felicity and Pippa were introduced as top-of-the-chain girls, equivalent to popular girls in high school novels. And of course Gemma being the new girl was snubbed in the beginning. There was also no love lost between Felicity and Pippa. In short, they don't genuinely like one another.
Then suddenly they go to the realms together. They didn't even like one another - how could they be expected to trust one another enough to go to some magical realms together?
Another thing that I hate is the overtly-emotional quality of the writing. Gemma frequently laments on her inability to fit in, how she dreams of being free because she is not like the other girls who accept the role that society has assigned to them.
This suggests that Gemma is a modern woman - far better and more preferable to us, the modern readers than those Victorian girls. It lifts Gemma up only for thinking that she does not belong in her society. Surely she does not have the monopoly on being repressed by the society? What do those other Spence girls dream? Do all of them accept their roles? The superficial portrayal of these girls annoys me.
The funny thing about Gemma is that I never get the sense that she is as out of place in Spence as she thinks. Maybe not one of the popular girls but still belonged there anyway. Ann is the odd one out, being a scholarship girl. It is only Gemma's perceived superiority over the other mindless Spence girls which compels her to feel that she does not belong.
Passion and love I don't know much about the Victorian era and especially girls who lived in that era, but must they all be so coquettish? Squealing at every single mention of the word 'love'? I found this extremely annoying.
Is there any repressed passion as the cover suggests? Not really. Most of the 'passionate' scenes fail to get under the skin of the characters to make them truly brimming with passion.
What you get more of is a lecture rather than a discussion on passion and sexuality. Gemma pines for kisses here and there and there was no meaningful discussion on the positive and negative consequences of expressing your sexuality. Instead, Bray lectures that women carry tremendous (sexual) power which is why they are feared.
This aspect of the story can be interesting. The comparison between female power and the magic power is inevitable. The idea of The Order being a powerful sisterhood with female magical power is interesting and should be explored further. But Bray focuses on the adventure/thriller element which is not very good.
Lack of description Good fantasy books provide descriptions which assist the readers to make sense of the world. In this case, description of the realms is ordinary at best. Creatures inhibiting the realms can be found in most legends and are hardly original.
There is a curious lack of explanation on how Gemma's magic works. In the Harry Potter series, J.K. Rowling successfully introduces and immerses the readers in her magical world. She creates a new world and introduces the readers to its rules and flaws. I felt like I was at Hogwarts. I've never felt like that while I was reading AGATB. I felt distant from the realms, never knowing what makes them work.
Another disappointment is how little the relationship between illusion and real life is explored. Magic is an illusion, but there is never any negative consequence for the girls in real life.
The truly sad thing is that Libba Bray is actually quite a witty writer, judging by the way she writes her bio at the end of the book. Why doesn't she utilise this talent in writing AGATB?(less)