Okay, aside from how dumb the book is and how useless the characters are, my main issue is...how could an underage girl be a hugely successful underweOkay, aside from how dumb the book is and how useless the characters are, my main issue is...how could an underage girl be a hugely successful underwear and swimsuit model?
I mean, I know Karlie was 20 when she was the youngest Victoria's Secret Angel and now Taylor Hill is the youngest at 19. Cuz 18 is the age to be legal. The book would be different if it was a college student vs. a high school student, yes, but it still makes no sense....more
Well the concept is certainly not that of your average YA novel. But...much of the book as a whole is.
Like the claustrophobic feeling that the only chWell the concept is certainly not that of your average YA novel. But...much of the book as a whole is.
Like the claustrophobic feeling that the only characters with personalities are those who are the protagonist’s BFFS or else tied directly into the A-plot, and the reader can’t help but wonder about, say, the other 99+% of her classmates. I mean, even Twilight for all its flaws was well-rounded in having a believable cast.
And those few legitimate characters are pretty unmemorable, including the typical (aside from his condition of being dead) deranged killer. The only thing that really stood out to me was how it took several mentions of said killer’s doings before the protagonist noted her reaction - basically “eh, not gonna affect me, not too worried.” What kind of person is like that?
I disagree that the book is any of the following: “gorgeously written, chilling, atmospheric.” But then it’s another example in the super-insular YA world of a more-famous author lauding her friend’s book; like, I feel that if someone is thanked in the acknowledgments as being a great friend, that person’s opinion should not be proudly displayed on the front cover. Clearly there’s bias happening there.
The book’s not bad really; it’s engaging enough and has a good climax, even if the plot as a whole doesn’t cohere all that well. But I feel that a better author could have done much more with the concept. IIRC the book is at least superior to Johnson’s Envelopes book....more
There were a few times when I got hyped for what could have been more than a token character, but thoseGeneric lifeless ya romance, version a million.
There were a few times when I got hyped for what could have been more than a token character, but those characters all end up not developed enough cuz they're sacrificed at the altar of the cookie-cutter leads. Which is why they remain tokens of the minorities they represent.
So it ends up that I don't like anyone in the book, and I'm mostly only amused when one gets mad at another for being a jerk because everyone's a jerk so at least they're sporadically called out on it. Neither do I find them particularly believable human beings for the most part. There are awkward thoughts like "You know, I always felt like I was pretty good at flirting—that it was the boys I’d flirted with who just weren’t good flirtees. Jack, however, was an excellent flirtee, and my game was on fire tonight."
I was also rolling my eyes at the laziness of "oh I have a few friends but they're away for the summer and we're bad at keeping in contact" to make it more convenient that the heroine is able to spend so much time with her boy. ...more
Upon finishing this I was torn between 2 and 3 stars, but after thinking about it a bit, I think 2 makes the most sense. At least it’s better than theUpon finishing this I was torn between 2 and 3 stars, but after thinking about it a bit, I think 2 makes the most sense. At least it’s better than the Grisha trilogy, largely cuz it at least tries to have fun instead of trying to reach epic world-changing proportions in its scope. Plus the decent character percentage rate is higher, I believe.
Kirkus Reviews brags about the misfits being “multiethnic...with differing sexual orientations.” I can buy the former part, as the treatment of Grisha with either ethnic cleansing or slavery clearly has racial undertones. But the non-heterosexual pair of main cast members get by far the least pagetime, the least development individually and together, and the least background information to flesh out their ostensible personalities. They’re easily the least interesting as a result. “Poor little rich boy” and “gambling addict” just aren’t very good at evoking feeling from me, and I doubt they’re meant to especially compared to the others. Plus the Phoebe/Joey-esque flirting (compared to a Ross/Rachel or Chandler/Monica) just pops up randomly when the book is more than halfway over already.
I usually get annoyed by multiple POV characters, but here Bardugo is good at using the device as the crutch it’s often meant to be - keeping the reader’s attention by constantly changing it up a bit, especially given that everyone gets extended flashback scenes (well, maybe not the non-straight characters so much, unless I forgot them for being so quick) that turn a relatively straightforward narrative into one that jumps in and out of the past.
Matthias is too love/hateful for me to warm to him. Yeah I know it’s a struggle for him and all, but I’ve read this kind of storyline in both fantasy and contemporary books plenty of times, and nothing he feels or says makes this version of his character stand out.
Kaz, while arguably the main character, may be too grounded via his POV; he seems more impressive and awe-inspiring when others narrate him, and I probably like him best in the first chapter we meet him. While his story should be relatively sympathetic, I find that I don’t care about him ultimately. There are plenty of his ilk - badass teen criminal masterminds - running around modern-day fantasies these days, done better in every way (and, yes, other times done worse in every way).
The primary storyline made me think immediately of Brandon Sanderson, but Mistborn’s magic system and world is far better. And it feels like cheap thrills here - rescue someone in a heist-y fashion - with the endgoal being weighted more towards the booty than the possible implications for war and power.
Inej and Nina, though, are legitimately pretty good characters, and they even have a friendship going that passes the Bechdel test. It’s easier to feel strongly for Inej in the past and Nina in the present - one because of individual circumstances, the other because of the treatment of her people. I don’t think their romances are necessary but at least the plot doesn’t get entirely swallowed up by that genre, as I’ve seen with plenty of other books.
Inej’s background is horrific in such a way that Bardugo doesn’t have to touch upon it too heavily; merely being an informed reader, or a person really, is enough. However, her actions in the present are not necessarily essential to read from her perspective, nor her moral questioning. The climax is also not as satisfying as it could be, but I have a feeling that the sequel will deal with her hanging plot threads.
So that leaves Nina as the star. It is a tad annoying that her main character relationship is one I don’t particularly enjoy, but she’s amusing enough that even with him she maintains her spark that makes her feel more human than anyone else in the book. I probably enjoy her from beginning to end - or at the very least, beginning and end, as I can’t swear to remembering every moment of hers.
Best scene dialogue-wise: “Oh, I see. I’m the wicked Grisha seductress. I have beguiled you with my Grisha wiles!” She danced around him in the snow, poking his chest, his stomach, his side. “Goodness! You’re very solid. This is strenuous work.” He started to laugh. “It’s working! The beguiling has begun. The Fjerdan has fallen. You are powerless to resist me. You—”...more
Goes downhill from there, as soon as Callum comes into the picture. The Love Interest is so egregiouslyGood premise. I like Ever. Good first chapter.
Goes downhill from there, as soon as Callum comes into the picture. The Love Interest is so egregiously useless that I kept thinking “So why do you like him?” At least Peeta Mellark provides bread. I mean, okay, he Humanizes our heroine, but he’s such an average annoying twit that I wonder if a human yet non-sucky guy also could have fixed her.
And their relationship dominates the book as romances often do with YA series. After a certain plot twist, the book practically becomes a two-hander.
I dunno if I actually like Wren at the beginning, but I do have a degree of respect for her, which dwindles the more obsessed with Callum she gets.
Not surprised that the author counts Kim Harrison as her greatest inspiration. Many elements feel like The Hollows 2.0, especially a number of the maiNot surprised that the author counts Kim Harrison as her greatest inspiration. Many elements feel like The Hollows 2.0, especially a number of the main characters, the tone, and the general set-up of the world.
But I got tired of Rachel Morgan, so I’m disinclined to keep up with a wannabe; she doesn’t bug the way that Rachel often does, but that’s because she’s so unoriginal and unmemorable.
Really, no one here seems to have the potential to be an Ivy or a Jenks or an Ali or even a...Kisten was his name, I think? And the character I like the best in this book doesn’t even survive, so that’s another strike....more
Well it ain’t The Night Circus cuz the writing’s not pretty or magical, and there is some plot.
I was reminded more of The Hollows actually, especiallyWell it ain’t The Night Circus cuz the writing’s not pretty or magical, and there is some plot.
I was reminded more of The Hollows actually, especially in terms of the stupid and annoying main character dragging down a book with an interesting premise and promising supporting characters. Because she’s just that special. The second most prominent character sure spends enough time telling her that. Though as per usual with Rachel Morgan, near the end she’s temporarily more likable and sympathetic due to action and circumstance.
The climax and resolution are bothersome overall though because they clearly are designed for the sake of sequel-baiting and overtly clearing plot obstacles that Vincent doesn’t want to hang over said sequels. To the former point, I think she creates enough lingering plot threads that she didn’t have to so choreograph the setup.
Not her worst book, but doesn’t have the spark of The Stars Never Rise, which makes good use of its intriguing premise and delivers in storytelling and (at least to a greater degree) characterization. While I’m not necessarily ruling out reading more Menagerie, neither am I at all excited about the prospect. Maybe I’ll read the ending of the last book to see answers about the Big Questions, esp what’s up with the reaping and the changelings....more
Great premise and starts out very promisingly, but then along comes the bland, chemistry-less romance to take over the book and attempt to swallow upGreat premise and starts out very promisingly, but then along comes the bland, chemistry-less romance to take over the book and attempt to swallow up any good qualities the book has. I mean, when the actual plot is allowed to resume it does improve from the temporary state of just being a bad romance, but it never fully recovers.
While I like the snippets before each chapter adding together to tell a complete story about the gods, esp as it reminds me of Brandon Sanderson, I don’t like how it all comes together in the climax and conclusion, which seem too easy. The ending is unearned.
Doesn’t help that I find the heroine often weak and whiny and her prince a generic shell of a Good Royal stock YA character. The side characters don’t have enough development to be much worth talking about; I suppose if I had to choose a fave it’d be Laiyonea.
Still, I might be up for a sequel. I remember the second book in His Fair Assassin was a marked improvement largely because of a big upgrade in protagonist. I imagine Soraya might take the lead, if anyone from this cast would....more
The cast of characters turns out to be very...convenient by the end of the book.
Made even more so by a horribly cheap plot turn at the end that doesnThe cast of characters turns out to be very...convenient by the end of the book.
Made even more so by a horribly cheap plot turn at the end that doesn’t get the justice it deserves, as a chapter later the little heroine is making out with one of her boyfriends cuz their love makes her feel “completely safe.”
And the author doesn’t help matters with occasionally references lke “one with my best friend Molly and her brothers, and some of my classmates from high school, with whom I’d been close.” We never hear of these fabulous friends for several chapters, and afterwards she doesn’t describe them at all or talk about keeping in touch with them. I guess the angel thing and the stupid love triangle keep her busy, but then why aren’t they at least a presence early on? Whatever.
The A-romantic partner is awful and creepy, very in the vein of Twilight. The other one is boring and forgettable...I guess that makes him like the other one in Twilight then.
The characters I kinda like are the few without direct involvement in the two main storylines, both of which are void of originality or intrigue. So I guess that means I’d prefer a book from the author just about a girl settling in at college; reminds me of how with the (less bad) The Vampire Lestat my interest waned after the turning cuz I liked the historical coming-of-age story....more
Interesting how the most-added 2016 series starts from new authors are both about time-traveling teen girls with a missing mother and conveniently greInteresting how the most-added 2016 series starts from new authors are both about time-traveling teen girls with a missing mother and conveniently great heads for historical knowledge.
But unlike Into the Dim, the main character here is not a queen of Mary Sues, and the writing is very passable instead of being borderline so. One could argue that there’s even less actual plot in favor of reveling in the scenery, but at least the bulk of the story begins earlier than it does in Dim which spends way too much with setup.
The daughter/father relationship here is generally pretty well-done, with it only faltering towards the end for series-baiting reasons.
Instead of a Fated OTP, there’s a tedious love triangle; I wouldn’t say either is necessarily better or worse than the other in that respect. As with most tedious love triangles, one of the choices is clearly more tolerable than the other.
I suppose I like the ethnic diversity, but can’t help but wonder if the main character is made half-Chinese so it’s less iffy when she’s stealing from them. Plus I find the handling of race unrealistic....more
Engaging enough, so I can't say the writing is bad exactly. Not much atmosphere or world-building. Stupid, not credible characters, esp the protagonisEngaging enough, so I can't say the writing is bad exactly. Not much atmosphere or world-building. Stupid, not credible characters, esp the protagonist.
At the end of it, I’m only mildly curious about what happens - enough that I looked at the last chapter of the last book, but only that....more
A story of a boring girl and a boring guy, perfect for instalove as they’re both smugly righteous and prone to going off on monologues expressing theA story of a boring girl and a boring guy, perfect for instalove as they’re both smugly righteous and prone to going off on monologues expressing the author’s opinions about technology. The most offputtingly jarring being the sporadic diary entries which don’t move the plot along at all.
The other characters don’t feel any more like actual people either, but they don’t have enough pagetime to be eye-rollingly hate-worthy. I dunno if this is on purpose, but at multiple moments I was struck by how super gender and heteronormative everyone is acting, even the ‘good’ characters.
The plot is there I suppose, the generic shallow mess that it is. It’s such that I don’t really feel the evil of Big Brother. The rebels or whatever largely come off as punk ass kids wanting to be anti-establishment hipsters.
The writing is so...basically basic. Feels borderline middle-grade the way everything is obviously spelled out. Only notable feature is that the author does this weird thing where someone will be dialogue-ing then she’ll summarize the rest of what they say. Like, what is the point of that?
Very disappointing. The premise is very Thousand Pieces of You, about a girl time-traveling to find her parent lost in time, so I hoped the quality woVery disappointing. The premise is very Thousand Pieces of You, about a girl time-traveling to find her parent lost in time, so I hoped the quality would be good as well. But the idea behind the time travel is dubious enough here that I was distracted by not buying it. Especially the logistics of actually believably passing as someone in 1154; it’s pointed out, but it’s still not explained well.
Also, the book is about a boring Mary Sue who gets way too much help to be believable cuz she’s so very special and worthy of everyone’s praise, and an obvious Fated OTP who is her chief worshipper - “strongest, bravest person I’ve ever met...funny...so beautiful and so damn brilliant.” I’m not seeing this, sorry. The brilliant part least of all; she blunders around and it’s only cuz of plot-armor-induced luck and the grace of others that everything doesn’t fall apart. I will say that her being snotty and judgmental isn’t too bad because we see that it’s her mom’s fault.
Mmm, at first I thought maybe her photographic memory was a nice quirk, but it’s mostly just an excuse for the author to sporadically info-dump on the reader. She’s also claustrophobic, so we just know that’s gonna play into the plot in a Dramatic way.
Outside of the little couple, people are quite one-dimensional. And the author even conveniently makes the protagonist friendless at the beginning so that makes her job a bit easier, though of course when Hope meets people who merit names she suddenly gains the ability to make friends. My favorite is Eleanor, whose characterization reminds me of Shakespeare in Love’s portrayal of Elizabeth, and whose relationship with Hectare is better done than any other one here. Maybe future books can have other queens.
Plot is super predictable, especially the big twist. Or both of the big twists I guess.
If you enjoyed the time-travel hijinks of Ruby Rose and the quality level that has, I suppose you might like Into the Dim.
...Good cover though. And for the too-early Goodreads list of Best 2016 YA Books, this is the highest ranked-book by an author I hadn’t tried (at 30th). So I got that done....more