Well I'm in the extreme minority (not an unusual place for me), but...I alternated between being mildly bored and mildly intrigued while reading thisWell I'm in the extreme minority (not an unusual place for me), but...I alternated between being mildly bored and mildly intrigued while reading this book, so the rating feels correct for me.
The characters are okay. There's slight development. Some POVs feel unnecessary. The best one is the one from "the girl." If the rest of the book were as good as her sections, I'd want to read the other books in this series. I don't feel a particular attachment to anyone else. Oh wait, maybe Tess? But at least I don't dislike either Meg or Simon, that's something. My problem isn't with moral greyness, but unmemorable blahness.
The concept itself is quite nifty, but I can't help but want to spend time in other parts of this world, where there's maybe more action and plot happening. That might be my issue with the setup as a whole actually - urban fantasy usually makes me think of there being a central hero who regularly kicks the ass of the baddies (often solving a mystery while doing so), and that's not what this is. I mean, the climactic moment from the heroine's perspective is that she's cut and warns her friends about something. Which is pretty much what she does on a regular basis.
So the weird central relationship makes me think of Shiver but with a tiger instead of a wolf. Well plus the creepy instalove between a “oh I’m not thSo the weird central relationship makes me think of Shiver but with a tiger instead of a wolf. Well plus the creepy instalove between a “oh I’m not that pretty” teen and a skeevy immature centuries-old magical being a la Twilight. Both annoyingly judge-y.
Protagonist: She’s really dumb and comes off way younger than 18. Her conversational skills are awful and much of it consists of pointless pop cultural references. Her sense of humor is crap especially when the author says that she does things like “jest wryly” and “giggle-cough.” And I can almost find it believable that she never refers to anyone non-familial from her pre-tiger life because I’m like “who’d wanna spend time with her?” But just because the plot says so (and according to the dumb guys in the book she’s like so amazing) she gets to be a Chosen One.
In terms of storytelling, the book is bogged down by various pages packed with Wikipedia-level exposition. Plus the plotline is ridiculous and ends in a 50 Shades of Grey way. ...more
I remember a quote in some book...something about straight girls maxing out on excitement when they help promote gay guys. That’s pretty much this booI remember a quote in some book...something about straight girls maxing out on excitement when they help promote gay guys. That’s pretty much this book, which seems to be targeted directly to them.
I mean, I have definitely found David Levithan to be too wrapped in adorableness for words, but there’s still a layer of authenticity to his work. Deep down.
It felt like I was reading a less gray Rainbow Rowell - like, only the awkwardly perky parts - and it could be overbearing. Though I’m still going to read that sorta-Harry-Potter fake slashfic she wrote that came out of her last book. Actually this book’s main character has a thing about Harry Potter (which fades out from laziness), but really, you can’t blame someone for that.
As in Jandy Nelson’s book, I actually like the most prominent female character the most - here that would be Abby. Maybe because the author can relate to being a teen girl more and I’m less likely to be hyper-critical of the portrayal of that experience.
I will say that the sequence when Simon has an actual conflict is done pretty well. ...more
I liked the formation of a family, despite not really warming to Joscelin or Phedre. Imri’s likable in a non-intriguing way, though his mother in herI liked the formation of a family, despite not really warming to Joscelin or Phedre. Imri’s likable in a non-intriguing way, though his mother in her fleeting scenes (and in the talk/memories of her deeds) seems pretty darn badass.
The book as a whole could have used more of that. Given the lengthy pagecount, one would expect lots of action and a fairly exciting plotline to justify it. But really, not much happens. Phedre rescues two people, gets others killed, has several conversations which go on way too long or feel completely unneeded, and spends a lot of time thinking real hard about stuff in a repetitive fashion. Not a very epic fantasy. I will say that I’m mildly curious about what happens subsequently with Imri and Melisande...but at best, probably only enough to read the last chapter or so of the other trilogies (plus Wikipedia)....more
I wonder if I would like this a lot more if I had read it as a kid. Haddix was definitely in my top tier of authors then...though I did have reason toI wonder if I would like this a lot more if I had read it as a kid. Haddix was definitely in my top tier of authors then...though I did have reason to stop following her work. Her style just doesn’t transcend middle-grade/ya the way that superior authors’ styles do. And she seems to work best with a cool concept taken to its logical conclusion - alas I don’t really like the central Big Secret of this book, and it reads very obviously as a introductory book to a series.
While the Shadow Children series got frustrating due to how drawn-out she made it, the first book (iirc) is great for having a full storyline, just one that’s complex enough that it really does merit further books to be satisfyingly told.
Here, the characters spend too much time like “omg how weird what is happening?” and the reveal is the climax rather than what drives the plot. It’s totally possible that the sequels make up for this by being great, but the elements of the book outside of its plodding pace make me doubt that. Like the protagonist conveniently having like no friends besides the new kid who is part of the conspiracy; that’s Goosebumps-level hijinks.
I will say it’s cool that Katherine, the Normal kid in the book, gets to have an admirably relentless personality that renders her at least mildly memorable - putting her ahead of everyone else. ...more
Similarly to the book I just read, The City & the City, the concept is super awesomely cool, and revolves around being set in one city but also kiSimilarly to the book I just read, The City & the City, the concept is super awesomely cool, and revolves around being set in one city but also kinda 3 different cities simultaneously.
But in both books, putting aside the concept, everything else is pretty average: typical of their respective genres, with typical characters, typical writing styles, typical lack of depth in interactions, typical anticlimaxes after predictable plot twists.
Alas that great ideas don't always translate to great books....more
This is the kind of book that people really associate with book clubs - lightweight and forgettable but with a serious enough premise that one can havThis is the kind of book that people really associate with book clubs - lightweight and forgettable but with a serious enough premise that one can have the illusion of reading something Worthwhile.
Not that it’s bad, per se. Fitch is a perfectly okay writer. For a character who never feels like a real person, Astrid is likable enough. The various episodes of the book (which kinda feels more like a disjointed story collection than a novel) have some engaging situations and people - even though it feels disappointing how said people keep disappearing from the narrative and not coming back. Well, except in Astrid’s memories I suppose, but I don’t count that.
As far as all the female figures she lists in the last chapter revolving around her eyeroll-worthy adult life, I would rank em: Olivia, Starr, Ingrid, Claire, Yvonne, Niki, Marvel, Rena, Amelia. ...more
A tricky book to review thanks to it being so very uneven in the storytelling. The first half is quite engaging, kind of a Harry Potter in Westeros naA tricky book to review thanks to it being so very uneven in the storytelling. The first half is quite engaging, kind of a Harry Potter in Westeros narrative. But then it becomes your typical war-waging fantasy, causing frequent boredom.
The writing is okay. The characterization is sketchy but okay - I would almost say that maybe it would work better with multiple POVs but A) even the protagonist’s growth is not believable and overall I don’t care for him & B) I checked out a bit of the second book and even the princess who’s possibly my fave character isn’t more exciting as a narrator. Though the second book having females comprise half of the narrators helps alleviate a problem in this book with many, many pages having only dudes. Which is understandable given the kind of book it is, but still.
I’ll probably at least skim the conclusion of the trilogy to see what happens with everyone. ...more
So forgettably generic from top to bottom that it was hard to be actively annoyed by the sustained state of mild boredom while reading it. The lifelesSo forgettably generic from top to bottom that it was hard to be actively annoyed by the sustained state of mild boredom while reading it. The lifeless voice of the book makes me wonder if that’s how the author felt while writing it.
Slightly redeemed by the pretty cover and the minority representation in the book - not that they’re great or even good characters, but that just puts them in the same boat as the rest of the cast.
Recommended for...people who want to read every buzzy ya fantasy no matter the quality....more