You know, I might consider parts of this book even 3-star-worthy. The easiest solution to the flaws in the book? Killing Emma, who is unfortunately thYou know, I might consider parts of this book even 3-star-worthy. The easiest solution to the flaws in the book? Killing Emma, who is unfortunately the main lead despite adding nothing good in terms of plot or character. She just brings stupidly directed angst and a super boring yet creepily VC Andrews-esque romance, which makes her very Cassandra Clare-y. With the amount of actual plot the book has, it does not need all the pages it has, and excising Emma who does her best to suck any positive energy out of every scene would be a great way of giving the book its deserved length...or maybe at the very least her narrative voice could be erased. The titular figure is involved in the murder mystery aspect, which is not exciting or surprising, even aside from how front and center irritant Emma is in trying to figure it out.
However, some of the issues dealt with are actually real-life ones that are handled nicely. Like, a boy who loses his parents and is forced to basically raise his little siblings with little help from his ostensible guardian. And an equivalent of the change in the situation could be an older brother finally coming back from being stationed overseas, or getting out of jail, who doesn’t have any of the parental burden yet isn’t really comfortable with the family he doesn’t really know anymore regardless of how much he loves them. This older brother is now socially conditioned in a way that doesn’t totally work in everyday society...okay, plus I like that he’s queer and his lover is the one who managed to keep him relatively sane while doing time. With the romance now being all conflicted in a realistic manner given circumstances. Easily the best romance in Clare’s books so far. The trope of being taken by Faerie and under their bewitchment for years is one I find fascinating, especially given the dearth of decent Faerie books. I’m also a fan of the whole ‘caught between two worlds’ thing.
I also always liked Ty, and he seems to be a relatively nuanced portrayal of someone who’s always had a difficult time relating to other people, compared to ya books centered around such characters. Plus it’s heavily hinted that in the next book he’ll get a nice little romance of his own, one that along with Mark’s actually kinda makes me want to read it, despite all the Emma that will pervade. Plus Tavvy is likable in a typical cute-kid manner; he adds a few moments of levity. And he provides the best reason to partially like Julian, given all of Jules’ efforts to create as stable of a family unit as humanly possible. (Emma is the best reason to dislike Julian.)
Cristina's romance angst is on the dumb side especially given how common it is for the genre, and the sisters have a negligible impact on the story and characterization cuz Emma hogs up so much of the female character pagetime....more
This book peaks in the early chapters, when the main character's all "I want adventure in the great wide somewhere, I want it more than I can stand. IThis book peaks in the early chapters, when the main character's all "I want adventure in the great wide somewhere, I want it more than I can stand. I want it more than I can tell. And for once it might be grand to have someone understand." Except of course she's not as riveting as Belle. Though that's when the cover tagline "more gunpowder than girl" is the closest to being accurate, and it still makes no sense. Well, unless the publisher is saying that the protagonist being a great shot is better established than her actual personality as a human. Then I guess I can buy it.
Then after she leaves her town, there's a bunch of pointless running around that's mainly a way to get the leads to boringly fall in love. Plus we get awkward, vague mentions of magic and supernatural creatures. In the final part of the book, said fantasy elements become front and center, but the storyline and characters don't become any more original or worthy of the forthcoming sequels.
Oh well, yet another disappointment from this year. I still have only We Are the Ants as a good 2016 read....more
Well, I see where the Vampire Hunger Games publisher copy is coming from, down to the reluctant team-up between the teen boy and girl who’ve known eacWell, I see where the Vampire Hunger Games publisher copy is coming from, down to the reluctant team-up between the teen boy and girl who’ve known each other for years in an unrequited romance, with the narrator being the antisocial type and the second main character being easily engageable. So basically I’m picturing Hutcherson and JLaw with fangs.
Of course, we don’t even get into these hunger games until like the last quarter despite the title, though it’s fair given the obviously lopsided circumstances of human vs. superhuman.
Overall I’d say that the book is engaging but empty of anything memorable or substantial, with dubious plot holes that might be addressed in sequels. It probably peaks near the beginning thanks to the relatively original concept and a (pretty unconvincing) detailing of how exactly the main character has managed to survive under his circumstances for so long. ...more
My biggest pet peeve with YA contemporaries is when they’re super unrealistically insular, especially if the tiny cast of actual characters is due toMy biggest pet peeve with YA contemporaries is when they’re super unrealistically insular, especially if the tiny cast of actual characters is due to a large chunk of the time being spent on blah romance between annoying people. I mean, here the heroine supposedly gets a bff, but we barely spend any time with her or the guy she’s dating, let alone anyone else at the school. Oh I guess she also gets a placeholder bf, but the situation’s the same there. No time to give them personalities.
The “twist” is more creepy than cheesy, so that’s...something out of the norm for YA. NA is more often creepy, but disguised as Dramatically Romantic, so at least the creepiness isn’t considered a good thing. Still, I don’t see much of a point to the book’s existence. ...more
Hmm. Less ambitious than Wrath and the Dawn, which mostly means it was less likely for it to fail. And it doesn't. It's a retelling of Aladdin but witHmm. Less ambitious than Wrath and the Dawn, which mostly means it was less likely for it to fail. And it doesn't. It's a retelling of Aladdin but with the characters changed to make it a largely predictable YA paranormal romance whose central relationship isn't particularly engaging or believable. The main characters are likable enough but forgettable and straight from an assembly line. As are the villains (well, except unlikable, I suppose).
However...Princess Caspida is pretty great and while I usually don't like multiple POVs in a book as it's often a lazy shortcut of making a story feel more complete and "epic," I think the book would have been better if she got to narrate some chapters. If Khoury changes her mind and makes a companion novel, I'd read it if Caspida narrates it. It's too bad she doesn't get a lot of pagetime, as especially near the end she shows how strong and wise and fierce she is. Her companions theoretically seem like they could be great too; I definitely like the idea of them, even when they get even less to do.
The relationship between Zahra and the ancient queen could be really nifty, but the pages directly about it are too few to make as much of an impact as it should. ...more
Hmm. No better or worse than the other books in the series. I still think Sanderson should lay off the young adult works, as this, Rithmatist, and AlcHmm. No better or worse than the other books in the series. I still think Sanderson should lay off the young adult works, as this, Rithmatist, and Alcatraz are all meh.
For the first bunch of chapters, the book’s actually on the dull side as the characters get ready for a confrontation very slowly. It picks up when they’re in active conflict with the professor, but the ending is really quite dumb and way too cheesily HEA for everyone involved. Okay, almost everyone; there is one sad thing that happens in the book.
Nighthawk is mildly amusing because of his disdain for David, who is as always the worst character around and after three books has still barely developed a personality. But Nighthawk is also a very convenient deus ex machina character to help give the plotline shortcuts as needed...one could also argue this of Obliteration to a lesser extent. Megan deals with her issues some more, but most of her growth occurs in books one and two so it’s nothing new. And she has awful taste in men. She does bring in my favorite element of the book, more glimpses into an alternate dimension, but it’s more my fascination with the idea of alternate dimensions that powers my enjoyment than anything special Sanderson does with it. Two of the sidekicks are merely plot props, and the other one actually has a hint of an interesting backstory but we never learn it.
I suppose the hint of other worlds beyond the characters’ own may be a way to tie the series in with Sanderson’s greater mythos, with Calamity being the equivalent of Preservation and Ruin. ...more