It's been a while since I read Red Rising and now that the whole trilogy has been published, I figured I'd read the second book and finish it all up.It's been a while since I read Red Rising and now that the whole trilogy has been published, I figured I'd read the second book and finish it all up. This picks up a few years after Red Rising ended, with Darrow still undercover as a Gold (the highest class of people in his society; he's actually a Red, the lowest class). Darrow is brilliant and basically untouchable, yet he has enemies that want him dead - like the family of someone he killed while at the Institute and will stop at nothing to bring him down. Meanwhile, Darrow isn't sure what's happening with the underground society he's been working for, since he hasn't heard from them in ages.
This book started out well but I lost interest as it went on. I wish there had been some bigger, more cohesive overarching plot, yet this felt like just a string of short scenes where Darrow might be in peril.... but then he'd already planned for the eventuality or he uses some brilliant strategy to get out of trouble. There were so many characters that I occasionally forgot who people were or their motivations, and I had a hard time identifying with or truly caring about them. There was also such a heavy focus on the world's politics that it kind of bogged the story down for me.
Every time I picked the book back up, I had to remind myself of what had last happened, and eventually I decided I wasn't enjoying it enough to spend the time finishing it. Clearly I'm in the minority, since there are so many rave reviews for this! I just wasn't particularly captivated....more
This chronicles the double life of Clarence King, who served as the first director as the U.S. Geological Survey and was well regarded as a geologistThis chronicles the double life of Clarence King, who served as the first director as the U.S. Geological Survey and was well regarded as a geologist and writer, good friends with many well-known people of the day, including Secretary of State John Hay. Although his friends believed him to be a bachelor, King actually created a double life for himself, passing as a black man named James Todd, marrying a black woman, Ada, with whom he had a number of children. He only told Ada his true identity on his deathbed.
This book was fairly uneven. I was quite intrigued by the story itself, but the actual reading experience wasn't great and I finished it feeling like a lot was still missing. The actual story in here is fascinating, especially because it's true and about a public figure. The whole concept of race and "passing" (mostly black for white, but white for black in this case!) is such an interesting topic, and this book explored a lot of racial themes. The whole question of what makes someone black, even if they look white, and how fluid race can be, is very difficult to quantify. I liked the way this book explored the idea of race and depicted the lengths to which one man went in order to marry someone of another race.
While the themes and general ideas in this book were great, I never felt truly captivated by the story. Yes, there were interesting parts and the author did a nice job with the research of this story; however, because not a lot of historical documents exist for parts of this story, especially for Ada's childhood and their lives together, much of it was just conjecture. For example, the author gave a nice depiction of what typical situations were for blacks born into slavery right before the Civil War (as Ada was); because documentation about Ada's own childhood does not exist, there were a lot of statements such as "She might have ___" or "It's easy to imagine___". I realize it's difficult to depict a subject who didn't leave much public record, but the speculation on what her life might have been like made this all too often quite vague. Likewise, not much documentation exists from Ada and Clarence's lives together, so although there's enough evidence to state that he did live a double life and seemed to be truly in love with her, their day to day life together was all conjecture.
I'm glad I read this book, as it nicely captured race relations at the time and as the years passed, but it was very uneven overall. There weren't enough concrete details to truly capture their lives, and the parts that were more known (such as his geological discoveries) were downplayed more and more as the book went on, instead focusing on the little that was known about their marriage and speculating on how the blanks (such as how Ada and Clarence met) could be filled in. I think the author probably did her best, using all the historical documents that remain, but because so much was unknown, this may have worked better as a feature story in a magazine, trimmed down to only the known facts....more
I've heard of Sandra Brown, but this is the first book by her that I've actually read, recommended to me by someone who said they couldn't put it downI've heard of Sandra Brown, but this is the first book by her that I've actually read, recommended to me by someone who said they couldn't put it down. And it was indeed a gripping read, if a little convenient in parts. Emory is a marathon runner who goes away for the weekend to run by herself in nature. The next thing she knows, she's waking up from a concussion in a stranger's house, and the man won't tell her his name but swears he's only trying to protect her. She can't leave, but as time goes by, she wonders how much is because the man wants to keep her there for his own reasons and how much is truly out of his control. When Emory doesn't return home, her husband reports her missing, and he's immediately the police's number one suspect because no one knows Emory is still alive.
Some of the dialogue in here seemed a little stilted, especially toward the beginning between Emory and her captor. It felt so convenient that he wouldn't tell her his name, that he had his own code, and that the weather just happened to be horrible. But, after that setting was shown and the book shifted to show other perspectives (Emory's husband and the investigation), I was hooked! The action kept moving and the mystery continually shifted so I could never quite guess what would happen next or who was doing things for what reasons. I liked how the book just kept moving forward, making me need to keep reading in order to find out what might be revealed next. The mystery unfolded so well, giving me just enough to want to read on and not so much that I ever felt like I honestly "knew" what might happen next.
There were only two things in here that didn't ring true to me. First, the romance was well written, but it felt unnecessary and also unbelievable because of the condensed timeline. Secondly, one of the reveals about the mystery man was great but I didn't fully buy the explanation because his history and motivations didn't seem to properly match up with his current life and actions. I don't want to say much more because it'd be a spoiler. Suffice it to say, I found him to be an interesting, complex character, but he was written in a more simple, suspicious way at the beginning than I think was needed.
This book definitely reminded me a lot of Gone Girl, although it seemed to rely more heavily on dialogue and the twists weren't nearly as deep. Still, I was quite entertained by this book and couldn't put it down once the mystery truly began. Definitely an engrossing read!...more
3.5 stars. I went back and forth between 3 and 4 stars on this book, since it wasn't a book I particularly loved, yet at the same time, I felt like th3.5 stars. I went back and forth between 3 and 4 stars on this book, since it wasn't a book I particularly loved, yet at the same time, I felt like the author did a great job with certain aspects of it. This is the story of Penelope (Pen), who's dealing with heartbreak in so many ways for the first time. Her best friend Audrey seems more content to spend time with her new BFF, a girl who's mean to Pen, than with Pen. Her other best friend, Eph, has been acting awkward around Pen, and she's sure that their friendship has somehow changed as well but she doesn't understand why. Meanwhile, Pen has a massive crush on a new guy at her school, Keats, who is all kinds of fascinating but doesn't seem to be as interested in Pen as she is in him.
I liked this book but didn't love it. I read it over the course of about a week, and every time I set it down, I wasn't in a hurry to pick it back up, although I also wasn't ever disappointed when I started reading it again. It was an enjoyable book for sure; it simply didn't keep me glued to the page. I think part of the problem was that there wasn't much of a plot in here, past Pen trying to navigate the various relationships in her life. This was mostly focused on characters, and while that was interesting, it wasn't necessarily gripping. The whole idea of Pen building a "museum of heartbreak" felt more like a convenient way to tie all these relationships into an actual novel than anything else.
On the other hand, the author did a beautiful job of pinpointing emotions and showing all the angst of friendships in high school and the difficulties in learning firsthand how to navigate these relationships. Although I found Pen to be quite naïve, I totally understood her viewpoint throughout the novel and sympathized as she struggled to accept the changing relationships in her life. The secondary characters in here were also quite strong, including the portrayal of Keats as being swoon-worthy from afar but kind of self-centered up close and Pen trying to figure out how to deal with this (for example, he wanted to share books he loved with her, but he also seemed to trivialize books Pen loved; was this just a difference in opinions or was he actually being a jerk?). To me, Keats was probably the best drawn of the secondary characters because of how pompous he was, yet there was a complexity to him that rang true. Pen's changing friendships with Audrey and Eph were well portrayed as well, and her complicated emotions about these changes were understandable.
I would have enjoyed this book a lot more if there'd been a stronger plot throughout, or if the collection of items Pen curated as part of her "museum of heartbreak" made more sense (like I mentioned, this seemed like a plot device to bring it together instead of something otherwise believable). But, with that said, the emotions that the author depicted in here and the confusing nature of human relationships was extremely well done, and I think teens struggling with changes to friendships would find this book exceptionally relatable. ...more