So now that’s two books of Schwab’s I’ve read with quite intriguing premises and almost nothing else going for them.
I had a bad feeling when by the fiSo now that’s two books of Schwab’s I’ve read with quite intriguing premises and almost nothing else going for them.
I had a bad feeling when by the first chapter I was already faced with present tense for no reason & flashback scenes in an entirely different font. Not that those devices are always bad, but usually it takes a really strong writer to justify them, and not many people can be described as such.
As with many YA books I dislike, there are almost no developed characters - here the convenient excuse is that the protagonist has just moved to a new place and it’s summertime so that’s why she’s not interacting with anyone besides those important to the plot and her family. And I don’t like the few who are around.
The story is dumb. I might’ve at least kept the book at 2 starz for having passable writing and doing a good job at conveying grief, but the sorta-triangle feels like a nasty joke as if Schwab read somewhere that YA books always have triangles so she stuck one in despite zero chemistry or reasonable basis for one.
Though the fact that both this book and A Darker Shade of Magic are the first installments of series makes me wonder if maybe she just spreads out the story, so sequels might actually be kinda good, and/or she would have a decent product with a standalone. Maybe I’ll figure that out one day....more
This illustrated short story has a nice message about choosing your own destiny (though arguably also a bad message about duty) and pretty pictures, bThis illustrated short story has a nice message about choosing your own destiny (though arguably also a bad message about duty) and pretty pictures, but I still don’t really like it. A little because I thought it would end with Snow White marrying Sleeping Beauty. And the writing isn’t that magical, with the lack of names underscoring the lack of characterization more than anything else. Though if Gaiman decided to write a full length novel with this as the prologue, about Snow White’s adventuring, I would probably want to read it; that’s a cool premise....more
I can’t forgive a book whose main character is utterly despicable unless she is actually meant to be, but I really doubt this one is.
She only sporadiI can’t forgive a book whose main character is utterly despicable unless she is actually meant to be, but I really doubt this one is.
She only sporadically feels awful about accidentally murdering a bunch of innocent people. Otherwise she’s occupied with her precious oh-so-complicated feelings for the emperor and the prince. She whines and noses around when unnecessary and acts like the spoiled brat she shouldn’t be, such that I wish someone would make this idiot shut up. I think maybe the author means for us to root for her being Bold and Reckless, but it just makes me roll my eyes that for all her screeching she’s not very useful. She’d be well-dead at this point in a more realistic book.
The plot also moves so very slowly to give more time for our lovely heroine to angst longwindedly and spell things out for the more slow-minded in the audience. Not everyone is as dull and short-sighted as you, girl.
The turning point is one used by a million books including the biggest action-girl book of our times, and it feels especially cheap here. How everything comes together is cheesy and side-eye-worthy; I definitely get the feeling of “so all those mediocre pages, and this is what it’s led up to? Bye.”
Of course there’s a sequel, and while the synopsis implies a link to the part of the book that was actually good (Chapter One), I have zero faith in the author. Maybe I’ll check out her next series though if it manages to get good buzz, since the actual writing is okay. ...more
It's fine. I would probably like it if I were younger; I mean, I liked R.L. Stine and Christopher Pike, both of whom are less exciting when I've triedIt's fine. I would probably like it if I were younger; I mean, I liked R.L. Stine and Christopher Pike, both of whom are less exciting when I've tried rereading them as an adult.
Doesn't bring anything new to the table, both in terms of the zombie genre and the bunch-of-kids'-survival genre. I suppose the total lack of answers is alleviated in sequels. Characterization is sketchy; the two figures I actually enjoy are not prominent enough, but that's understandable cuz they're cleverly sneaky behind-the-scenes types and we're supposed to not know what's going on in their heads.
I will say that the author isn't afraid to kill characters, though I wonder if it's a Heroes type of lack of fear, where after S1 practically every S1 character is given a free pass due to popularity....more
It took a couple weeks to get to this book because I felt bad that I would again be disappointed by Rowling. But I was NOT. After Casual Vacancy/CuckoIt took a couple weeks to get to this book because I felt bad that I would again be disappointed by Rowling. But I was NOT. After Casual Vacancy/Cuckoo’s Calling/Silkworm, I was thinking that maybe adult fiction just isn’t her forte. While still not near the dizzying heights of Harry Potter, this book is legitimately good. With the exciting bits, the funny bits, and the sad bits all. I suppose I could try to think of the first two books of the series as a sluggish pilot and sophomore slump, as Rowling brushed up on her mystery-writing skills and got the rhythms of her characters/relationships down. I mean, she’d so meticulously fleshed out everything in Harry Potter, with countless outlines and such, that maybe she didn’t feel like being so obsessive with this new series. So there were growing pains before hitting her rhythm. She herself says in the acknowledgements of this book that she’s never enjoyed writing a novel more than this one.
Oh right, the book itself. Not revolutionary or strikingly original, but a well-told yarn that definitely deserves to be published. There are certainly very famous mystery (or ‘mystery’) writers with works that so do not.
The main characters are deepened by sharing with each other new knowledge about their backstories, which both make a lot of sense given how they are now and tie into how the plot unfolds. I do kinda wonder if Rowling ever plans to make Matthew an actual person and/or likable; I think it could be cool if we could hear his thoughts, as we already unnecessarily get to see the POV of the killer. The 3 suspects of the central murders are distinguishable enough, and because they all come from Strike’s past and have reasons to hate him, they don’t feel like red herrings placed to pad out the page count. Which is a problem in lower quality mysteries; I think it was one of my main complaints about Cuckoo. One of the villainous men also promises to be a dangling plot thread that could be taken up in a future installment of the series.
The overall story comes off as deliberate and well-paced in a way that feels realistic to the genre/life. I will admit that a few of the minor plot points I expected to somehow tie into the grand scheme of things, but it’s probably more realistic that sometimes the small stuff in your life doesn’t super coincidentally become part of the big stuff.
IIRC, the other books did manage to at least have good beginnings and endings, and this one’s no different. The very first and very last sentence give the reader a feeling of the book being worth it, with one tackling the mystery side and the other the character side of the series. Good balance....more
I don't see much originality in here, and it kinda feels like the name of the series (Fairyland) is not reA lot of ideas, but not completely coherent.
I don't see much originality in here, and it kinda feels like the name of the series (Fairyland) is not really apt as the setting's more like Generic Kid's Fantasy Land than anything resembling a faerie/fae realm.
I do like the villain, even if her background and motivation didn't surprise me at all. But it's easier to make interesting villains cuz they have that whole 'being evil' thing going for them.
And the title is unnecessarily long-winded. Like the book often is, I suppose......more
As far as circus stories with supernatural elements go, I didn’t feel the magic much with this one. There’s a nice if cheesy message. The writing is..As far as circus stories with supernatural elements go, I didn’t feel the magic much with this one. There’s a nice if cheesy message. The writing is...functional. The premise of both the book and the circus itself is on the vague side.
I also found Victoria to be the only interesting character, and was left unsatisfied with the lack of resolution around her.
Gosh. I like fluffy romantic comedies. I’ve enjoyed largely shallow entertainment about people obsessed only with appearances and dating. But this bookGosh. I like fluffy romantic comedies. I’ve enjoyed largely shallow entertainment about people obsessed only with appearances and dating. But this book. Not only does it have no substance or plot or sense, but the only times it made me think were along the lines of “What a disgusting message” and “Are people really this idiotic? How are we supposed to believe they’d find ‘love’?” And it doesn’t even make up for its shortcomings by being amusing....more
I wasn’t sure why Brayden would stare at Niko and thought maybe there was a queer element to the story. I couldn’t tell what was so important about DeaI wasn’t sure why Brayden would stare at Niko and thought maybe there was a queer element to the story. I couldn’t tell what was so important about Dean about a Writer. Or what exactly Niko was lying about regarding his past. Max is funny and clearly the MVP of the book. I mean, the stories he tells, if you think seriously about them, make his parents seem pretty awful at parenting to say the least, but they certainly send a spark into the story. The foreshadowing about some of the characters felt obvious, but the characters don’t know they’re in a book so I can’t fault them for trusting. This bit is disturbing. Some of the characters don’t seem to have much of a personality...well, one could argue that even narrator Dean doesn’t have much of one, so.
Plot-wise, it’s fine if not all that exciting inside a store during an apocalyptic-y event’s aftermath. The high point is probably the triumphant return of one of the characters. The return with the better ending....more
I like that romance doesn’t overtake the plot, but the author isn’t good enough to manage to develop the relationship in a realistic fashion in the paI like that romance doesn’t overtake the plot, but the author isn’t good enough to manage to develop the relationship in a realistic fashion in the pages which are devoted to it. Very instalove.
I enjoy the overall premise, but the author doesn’t believably sell the path towards the book’s world. Not that she tries very hard.
Violet’s not all that interesting; the few glimpses of Raven made me wonder if it was a situation like His Fair Assassin, with the first protagonist being dull compared to the second. I suppose I could try reading book 1.5 which is Raven-narrated.
My favorite character is probably the Duchess though, who I chose to imagine as Meryl Streep as Miranda Priestley. While generally cold and unpleasant to Violet, she has intriguing moments of humanity and depth, especially in comparison to some other, seemingly even more dark-souled, individuals. The courtly plotting actually interests me more than the inevitable Dystopian Revolution By The Oppressed.
Mmm, also despite what the book copy says, people don’t really call Violet #197 much if at all, just “the surrogate” or “the surrogate for the Duchess of the Lake.” Less objectifying, I suppose....more
The characters: Harry - Pretty annoying. Draco - Reminds me more of Cassie Clare's Draco than the real one. Hermione - Zero depth. Ron-Cho - About as wisThe characters: Harry - Pretty annoying. Draco - Reminds me more of Cassie Clare's Draco than the real one. Hermione - Zero depth. Ron-Cho - About as wishy-washy and weak as they are, but with less development. Dumbledore - Mmm, with a twist, but not one with any creativity. Voldemort - Eh. Kind of stupid.
Plot is far too insular. It feels like practically no one exists aside from important characters, while in HP you always get a rich sense of the whole world and everyone comes off as real and has some kind of sparkle even if they only show up for a coupla scenes.
The magic system is cringeworthy.
The romance feels like both the reason the book came about and kinda beside the point of the actual plot. But for the latter, one could say that about Harry/Ginny and such, so. It’s great that a mainstream writer has a central queer romance though. Like how she had a central interracial romance.
All 3 books of hers I’ve read still remain of average quality despite that....more