Despite the not-at-all-accurate comparisons to GoT and Graceling, I had low expectations going in and nothing in the book raised them, so I was neverDespite the not-at-all-accurate comparisons to GoT and Graceling, I had low expectations going in and nothing in the book raised them, so I was never disappointed...yay?
This is very similar to a bad pnr I just read, Demonica, but with witches. And less sex. An annoying puffed-up hunter of the supernatural is taken ahold of by who should be ha enemy, and the people she works for turn out to be even shadier than she thought. She falls in love with a boring would-be enemy and they have a dumb romance. And a predictable identity twist occurs.
I do sorta like the book’s Johanna Mason who totally hates the protagonist and would personally be fine with her death. But alas like Johanna Fifer learns to tolerate the protagonist.
Also, why do so many authors insist on writing in the present tense? Most of you do it for no discernible reason. Just saying. ...more
Why am I not surprised that Bardugo is making like Mead and Clare with a spinoff/sequel series after her trilogy is over? Well I won't be taking partWhy am I not surprised that Bardugo is making like Mead and Clare with a spinoff/sequel series after her trilogy is over? Well I won't be taking part in it.
When I read the first book, I was like, “Oh it’s kinda like Daughter of Smoke and Bone but without originality or good writing.” I stand by that now with the trilogy over.
Minuses: Zero dramatic tension. We all know how it’s going to end: totally neat and tidy. Awful, boring climax. Sappy, lifeless romance between the book’s two least compelling characters, which because of the Generic YA Rules means that they’re also the main characters. At least the triangle nonsense is mostly over, though the outcome was super obvious just as Generic YAs always are. Fakey banter esp from the above, but it extends to others too. The heroine in particular reminds me of Daenerys Targaryen, who is only of interest in concept cuz of her fantasy connection but is totally unmemorable as a presence otherwise. I think 3rd person POV would work better to get some distance from the horrid voice of the protag. I mean, the prologue/epilogue come off as decently written even. The language is so very 21st century America, including much of the slang. Attempts at pretty language are too florid and try-hard. The unoriginal Twist ties in to one of the book’s main treacly themes, and was pretty memorably done with the finale of one of the biggest series this century. Done much better there too. The Darkling, aside from having a dumb name, is a shadowy presence who doesn’t feel like much of an actual person; and, the Mortal Instruments despite being more terrible overall has a better version of him.
Pluses: Nikolai is somewhat charming and occasionally mildly amusing, and is definitely the best of her romantic prospects. I like David the oblivious nerd. I like Misha the cute kid. Baghra is the only character who really comes to life; the three I listed above have those nice qualities I noted, but are one-dimensional. Baghra has a nice backstory and complexity that makes me think Bardugo has the potential to become a decent author in the future. Too bad so many of the pages are dominated by the lesser characters. I don’t usually prefer multiple POVs but since the one here is suck, it could have helped the book....more
To an extent, the book feels very much like a short story/novella collection, with hints of Choose Your Own Adventure because all of the different livTo an extent, the book feels very much like a short story/novella collection, with hints of Choose Your Own Adventure because all of the different lives allows the author to explore various kinds of stories and genres. Some work better than others, and the impact of the cool concept goes down after awhile, especially after the first long-term life path that reverses itself. At that point I was ready to give the book 4 stars and was excited for the rest of the book to propel it to 5.
But then the main character decides to become boring, and the other characters don’t really pick up the slack. And she goes on various adventures I really don’t care about – whether because they’re contrived/unbelievable or else fit into tropes that have been way overdone. Basically I think the book should be Snow, 4 Seasons, War, Armistice, Like a Fox in a Hole, and Broad Sunlit Uplands. Aside from the last, that goes to around 44% into the book. Uplands is just a few pages and is the next-to-last chapter, providing the final timeline and an ending-y ending. Though we get a final page that vagues it up for no reason.
(view spoiler)[I guess the happy ending could be that Nancy and Teddy both live, but she already finds a way to make Nancy live in the first half of the book. And I can’t see what she does to rescue Teddy, unless Izzie’s kid had something to do with his wartime death. I decided to outline the plot below, mostly to help myself understand the timelines. Also, time travel + Hitler is done way too much; I didn’t like that it had to be here too. Oh, and I didn’t see how her youngest brother added anything to the plot, aside from maybe throwing in a token gay without letting him do anything interesting.
Be Ye Men of Valour – A needlessly confusing chapter, since this is more a preview of what hasn’t happened yet. The chapter is repeated later, and the book is hard enough to keep track of. Snow – Ursula dies of childbirth complications, then doesn’t. 4 Seasons Fill the Measure of the Year – Ursula drowns, then doesn’t. War – Ursula falls from the side of the house to get her doll back, then doesn’t. Armistice – Ursula dies from the plague a bunch until she decides to push the maid down the stairs, then she doesn’t die. Peace – Ursula dies of cold or gas or something…I dunno, this chapter could lift right out, esp as it jumps to 1947 for no reason. Like a Fox in a Hole – Very long one. Ursula is raped and gets pregnant, so gets an abortion that kills her mother’s love for her. She’s so depressed that she becomes an alcoholic. Then she grabs onto a husband to pull her out of it, only to find out that he’s a huge abusive ahole who beats her to death. The next time around, she kicks the rapist in the balls to prevent his crime. Also she saves Nancy’s life.
A Lovely Day Tomorrow – Ursula dies a bunch from a bomb, regardless of which man she’s with at the time. Finally a dog rescues her. A Land of Begin Again – Ursula trips to Europe, where she falls for a German and has a baby with him. She becomes friends with Eva Braun and learns what Hitler’s like. She eventually kills herself and her daughter because they wind up in miserable conditions. A Long Hard War – Teddy dies, so their mom kills herself. Ursula dies of old age, alone. End of the Beginning – Her cousin lives with this time, but he ends up drowning instead of her. She gets Bridget to break up with her bf instead of pushing her down the stairs. She kisses Ben instead, which leads to Nancy dying again. She spends some time being treated, then kills herself so she can take down Hitler. Be Ye Men of Valour – She does (probably), but is killed herself. Broad Sunlit Uplands – She manages to get Nancy and Teddy together, both alive. (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
Actual Rating: 3.5 stars (possibly bumped up to a 4 rating if I like the next book, as there is massive potential which may be fulfilled or squanderedActual Rating: 3.5 stars (possibly bumped up to a 4 rating if I like the next book, as there is massive potential which may be fulfilled or squandered)…which I believe still makes it my #4 book from 2012, sad as that is. My 12th favorite of 14 Dresden Files, I suppose.
My #1 most anticipated book of the year – finally getting to see what Winter Knight Harry is like over 2.5 years after he took up the mantle in the most exciting installment yet of my favorite ongoing series. It turned out to be…disappointing. Not bad, but disappointing, and a bit like the Summer Knight retread I feared it could be. I am going to cut it some slack because Butcher described Changes as a season finale, and it’s unfair to compare a regular episode to a finale; especially in a premiere there’s lots of exposition to set up what’s coming (Ghost Story is more like a BBC Christmas special.).
But it wasn’t even that aspect of the book that most threw me off; it’s…the writing. Until around page 300, most of the book reads like fanfic (or a Butcher ghostwriter) because the writer makes a relatively good imitation of the voice and characters of the Dresden Files but it doesn’t truly feel like a Dresden File. I’m loath to say that Butcher should have spent even more time on this book, but maybe he spent too much time on padding out the first 300 or so pages; what happens in them could totally have been condensed – perhaps making the book faster-paced in such a way that Butcher wouldn’t overthink things. The latter part of the book reads pretty much as smoothly as any other previous installment – maybe Big Things Happening and climactic action scenes helped re-excite Butcher, or maybe he finally got back into the rhytm of things. Because for the first 12 books, there was a maximum of 12 months between publication dates, and the books were mostly and increasingly great; it took an extra 3.5 months for a book that kept Harry and Butcher’s voices intact but didn’t have that much plot movement, and now it’s taken an extra 4 months for a book that has the reverse. Characterization and especially dialogue feel very self-conscious and obligatory, like “insert Dresden curse here,” “insert Star Wars reference here,” “time for a joke about Harry being dumb”…there’s just a feeling of being forced. Harry also does a bit too much wangsting for multiple pages at a time, but that’s not entirely new – however, I hoped that Ghost Story being a pretty reflective book would have gotten him some psychological breakthroughs already.
Some parts of Ghost Story may have been important for character development and such that bleeds into this book and presumably future ones, especially for Molly, but a lot of the misery Harry’s friends were going through seems almost retconned because a number of characters here are suspiciously hunky-dory in such a way that it diminishes the pain they had to go through before this book - (view spoiler)[Thomas being separated from his love for years because their love burns him is fixed thorough the magic of threesomes…though this happened at the end of GS, it’s here that we see the effects. Butters has a girlfriend. Molly after spending a year as a homeless avenger torn apart by grief is now living in a huge apartment and is restored in health – I suppose the obvious explanation is her LUV for Harry, but that’s a bit insulting. While other characters talk about how oh so tortured Karrin is and how she’s pushing everyone away who cares about her, it’s just that – Butcher telling us, even though he doesn’t show Karrin being much different from the Karrin in the first 12 books. She certainly seems happier than in Ghost Story – and she’s even making out with Harry a couple of times as she’s conveniently no longer attached to Kincaid, which is a plot development I did not need. I don’t really “ship” Harry with anyone, but I might anti-ship this coupling. Oh, and that whole Mab having a tiff with Bob pops up as a plot contrivance – one that makes sense, but still – and she actually wants his help with something, so no more smashing of stupid talky skull I guess. I’ll forgive this last one if Harry’s new knowledge becomes important down the line, like in an apocalyptic showdown.
What else? Oh, cast of characters. So we get the usual gang, plus all the major faerie figures. Except awesome Lea, who’s the awesomest faerie. But no appearances by any of my other favorite recurring cast members - Ivy, Marcone, Lara, Lash…I think I’m forgetting one of my T10 – oh duh Susan (hide spoiler)]. Plus the werewolf representative in this book is one I’ve never cared about either way, instead of Billy. As villains we get characters who I’ve never been a big fan of – I prefer villains with visible elements of humanity in them who choose an evil path. The whole Black Council…thing is so mysterious despite being apparently the (or at least a) main Big Bad that I can never get myself to care about them that much. Sometimes their assets can be awe-inspiring and exciting to read about in their havoc, but it’s like Moriarty in BBC’s Sherlock (and I specify since he’s only in like 2 of 40something Doyle stories) – it’s like ooh mysterious but it’s hard to care except when he’s actually on the canvas, even if the show insists that he’s sorta been orchestrating all the crimes in the series. And (view spoiler)[while it’s been indicated before that Black Council is working with Outsiders, I don’t like that it’s all chalked up to being infected by some vaguely defined dark psychic ailment that sounds suspiciously like the Dark Side of the Force. Or the insanity defense on L&O: SVU. I do like that the only cure so far appears to be torture and being frozen into a statue by Mab, as it isn’t something you’re eager to have your infected friends sign up for.
As for new characters: Sarissa’s okay, I guess, but I prefer Lily or even Aurora. She doesn’t seem to have much of a distinct personality. Still, who she becomes given who she is has a lot of potential, and she could be awesome in the long run. One could kinda count Titania as a new character since Harry’s never talked to her. I thought her entrance would be omg, at least as impressive as Mab’s first meeting with Harry, but it is not. I hope the series’ as-of-late obsession with parenthood subsides a bit. Kris Kringle…it does make sense that he would be Winter. He’s okay, I guess, though he’s not as starkly drawn as, say, the Santa that Buffy’s Anya describes, he whose gifts to children involve disembowlment. Dresden’s moniker of Bowl-Full-of-Jelly gets old. I think the ending indicates that he’s actually Odin, but I’m uncertain. Redcap and Sharkface…they’re the kind of woowoo villains that I can’t care about because they have little depth aside from being Super Evil. Plus they’re minions (probably).
Major Plot Points: A) Molly is the new Winter Lady; Maeve’s mortal sister Sarissa is the new Summer Lady (which makes me wonder about the identity of the father). B) Mab’s primary role is to keep the Outsiders from invading the universe; the Outsiders and the Black Council are working together, changing beings to their will. C) Demonreach is a Merlin-made prison for all sorts of supremely powerful nasties (like on Angel with the Old Ones). D) Some parasite is in his head giving him headaches.
I’ll go in reverse order: I thought the headaches were an effect of over-using magic esp hell/soulfire, and that time that Lash took a psychic bullet for Harry that would have fried his brain. It feels like Lash would have caught wind of this parasite if it was there before she left. Apparently Harry will need Molly’s help with this, which seems weird…my first guess was Lasciel (not Lash), but I don’t think she could burst forth from his brain as an entity. I wonder if eventually we’ll meet Merlin. I’m guessing we’ll see a prison break in a few years, but more interesting to me is why Demonreach and Harry are intertwined – what’s so special about Harry, aside from being born at the right time, saving the world multiple times, and now the Knight thing? Who was the Warden before Harry? Is this possibly the mantle that Ebenezer was considering for Harry? The whole Outsider thing makes me think of A Song of Ice & Fire…the Ice part of the series. I choose to believe this is not retconning, as I wouldn’t expect a thirtysomething wizard to know all the ins and outs of faeries. I do wonder if Titania has a ton more free time if she mostly checks the power of Mab while Mab balances Titania and protects the universe. And if there’s a supreme Outsider – it’s possible it doesn’t matter that much, as the Red King was introduced in the book he died, but I figure this battle will be the one to end the series. Sarissa might end up like Lily a bit – it’s unclear if Titania will be eager to mentor her archnemesis’s daughter, or if Mab will want to spend that much time with a Summer Queen. Mab’s already trained Sarissa to an extent, but that’s before Sarissa had powers. The book also hints at some sparks between Harry & Sarissa, which would be better than Harry & Karrin, though I figure Molly would be absolutely infuriated if Harry & Sarissa started because they can relate to each other so well and their experiences together – given that Harry & Molly have both of those factors in spades.
Speaking of Molls..OMG. I thought that eventually one of the Swords of the Cross would go to Murphy (not a difficult guess, though she has turned it down a couple of times) and one to Molly. My backup is Thomas. I will say that the whole plotline reeks of a retread – a Lady goes mad and schemes to destroy part of the world hoping to come out on top, killing an important vassal along the way before dying herself. But Lily and Fix…I don’t care that much about them, especially Fix who I’ve always found to be on the annoying side. There weren’t great implications because neither of them was someone that important to the grand scheme of things before the change – a pretty model and a good mechanic. Plus apparently Fix's main role is to thwart the Winter Knight, so I guess he's just been spinning his wheels for the last decade. But now the Winter Knight is Harry and his Lady is Molly.
Molly who’s wanted to be closer to him since she was a kid, who thanks to Harry’s new Knight nature he’s been seeing as a woman he might want to have, whose family is protected by a cadre of God’s angels who might frown on the dark viciousness of the Winter Court, whose dad is the man Harry respects most in the world and might have some choice things to say about Harry causing his little girl to become a queen of Faerie, who’s been fiercely fighting her darker nature ever since her nearly fatal act of mind-raping her friends and has certain control and discipline issues, who’ll have to fight the part of her that will start to mold her in the exact vein of crazy Maeve.
I’m not sure exactly how awesomely this will turn out, but this plot twist is a large part of why this book might deserve 4 stars. If the book had simply ended with Sarissa taking Maeve’s place, it would have been pretty ho hum. But this opens up all kinds of doors for the series to go. I’m still not exactly sure where it is going, since the structure of the first 12 books was (relatively) simple with Harry being a wizard who spends much of his time just hanging out and doing nothing particularly exciting. In the course of the days in which each book is set he has a huge case to solve, but even the end of book 11 was as simple as “I closed the door behind me, while life went on,” life being beer and a role-playing game. One could even argue that Changes until the last page appears ready to close on a light note, being nervous while awaiting consummating his love with a woman. And that last page doesn’t necessarily indicate a particularly stressful situation for him, as he “distinctly heard the horn and the engine of an oncoming train.” With this book, we’ve seen now the first changes in Harry via becoming the Winter Knight, and they aren’t particularly positive…now he’ll have to deal with fighting that part of him while helping a woman who trusts him with her life to fight a new part of her nature. I’m very excited for the next book, and I hope it A) takes 12 months or less this time and B) recaptures the voice of the Dresden Files the whole way through. (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
Actual rating: A million...as in, it deserves a million times more success than basically every other ongoing YA series right now.
OMG not only is thisActual rating: A million...as in, it deserves a million times more success than basically every other ongoing YA series right now.
OMG not only is this the first really good YA book I’ve read this year, Days of Blood and Starlight in fact surpassed my sky-high expectations and very well may find a place on my list of Best Books Ever. Taylor is definitely one of the most beautiful, lyrical authors around, YA or no, fantasy or no. No middle book syndrome for this series, unlike almost every other recent YA book sequence I’ve experienced – this book feels really needed and I’m actually wondering how in the world this series can be wrapped up in 3 books with all of these balls in the air. Which is way better than sequels like, say, Insurgent with little enough plot that it easily could have squeezed in as the last few chapters of Divergent and/or the first few of whatever the third book is – and this phenomenon seems to be the norm nowadays.
But Days is in fact BETTER than Daughter. DoSaB was really, really great, full of beautiful writing and building two wondrous worlds. But…the later part, super-heavy on exposition & true-love-building, wasn’t as exciting and constantly page-turning. This book does not quite have that problem. It’s very different from the best parts of DoSaB too, with the title fitting the book as perfectly as the first title did.
Far more darkly twisty, with every side dealing with morally ambiguous issues, with villains and heroes who can’t really perfectly embody what those roles might signify in a simpler work. Both the seraphim and the chimaera have leaders and soldiers who alternately want true peace or utter destruction and power, with most simply having to take part in the war because that’s all they know they’re supposed to do in a seemingly endless conflict. And both sides have innocents who wish the conflict would end and have to suffer despite not taking any part in it. I mean, yeah, obvs the reader is meant to root for peace and understanding, but it’s probably very difficult for a people to just forgive centuries of mass killing of their own.
The very root of their war while painting chimaera in a more sympathetic light still involved a rebellion consisting of massacre and a targeted if understandable attempt to wipe out the collective knowledge of another race. Given how our world is full of conflicts that have lasted many generations, in which both sides adamantly believe themselves to be in the right, it’ll probably be very difficult to resolve this in a way that will be satisfying and realistic. In the real world, huge conflicts usually end because one side wins, not because of a sudden agreement of peace and understanding. With that ending, something like that feels even less likely. I feel confident in Taylor’s abilities, even if other fantasy-ish series which have had similar plot twists have fallen off the track of non-suckiness as a result.
Character-wise: Akiva hates himself for what he’s done, because he had a huge role in all this. Normally I hate it when there are Chosen Ones for no discernible reason, but in this series the reason the two central characters ARE so important is not because they’re just so Super Special; it’s fallout from their relationship that causes a lot of stuff to go down. Akiva only gained the knowledge that caused so much destruction as a direct result of his love being discovered by the chimaera. Karou is only in the position she’s in because of her punishment for falling in love with the wrong person – well, that and her eagerness/willingness to learn from the wishmonger. In most ways, both of them would have been not very different from the rest of their kind; neither was given extraordinary abilities above and beyond just because the author wanted them to be the main characters and save the world. And I like that.
Zuzana and Mik provide an excellent Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. Great for comic relief in a realistic, oft-sarcastic, well-written way. Super quote-worthy in how they throw off lines in a casual throwaway manner – such that you can see just how impressive Taylor is in her craft.
I will say the book’s not perfect – I understand the desire for perspectives from minor characters to show scope and give us a glimpse into what’s going through the minds of the normal folk not busy planning epic things and/or being at the center of the story. But…I felt it to be unnecessary for the most part. I’m usually not a fan of many perspectives, and in this specific book, apart from Karou & Akiva, the only super-needed POVs are Zuzana’s and Ziri’s. The others don’t take up too many pages, but the book would have been even more tense, exciting, and cohesive without them. I also have to say that the book could also have been a tad shorter via fewer pages from Akiva’s POV; certain chapters seem to just stand there to be like “War=Pain & Badness, yes.” Which is necessary since Karou’s not out there on the front lines, and his overall actions do end up being very very important, but I didn’t need quite so much of it. But…despite how long this nitpicking paragraph is, it’s relatively easy to just read these parts more quickly, and my rating for the book remains 5/5.
Now, my running head commentary while I read the book, with my thoughts below serving as an accurate assessment of most everything I felt, possibly more so than my review above:
(view spoiler)[So far this book is bleak, depressing…and breathtakingly beautifully written. Brava, Taylor. I really feel the sad yearning on both Akiva and Zuzana’s parts. And I’m dying to see what’s up with Karou. So much anticipation…of course, the year between books helped. Is she the one killing angels? She’s really just a human – one with powers, though…including one unique one that could explain it.
“Extreme be-with-able-ness” – So adorable. Ah, I see Zuzana/Mik will be our light side. Thanks, Taylor.
Oh back to bleakness. Awesome bleakness. I can’t imagine how it would be, going from living a…well not normal exactly what with the teeth missions and having chimaera as a family in the first book…but mostly normal life as a teenage girl to being the key figure in a war between two entire races. It’s why I love Buffy so much, and thus I think this book may just turn out to be the best book of the year. I should keep reading so I don’t keep saying that and then end up disappointed…
“‘I have your tooth,’ he called. ‘It just landed on my head.’ Well, hell. She couldn’t very well pretend to be asleep if she had just dropped a tooth on his head. And she didn’t want him to think she was hiding from him, either. Damn it, why did he still affect her this way?” – Amusing, yet dark and fraught with unanswered questions. Is this a love triangle I smell? Hopefully not, since in the first book he really wanted her and she just found him to be a scary a-hole. Of course, sometimes we think someone’s like that and it turns out there’s awesomeness underneath. Hmm.
She’s the only one willing to not bend to his will? That can be a sign of Sue in many books, but not here…especially given her most excellent point that I’d actually forgotten – he murdered her. But she acknowledges he had an excellent point, as her saving him led to tons of chimaera dying, and this is probably why she’s torturing herself and working herself to the bone resurrecting, to atone for that. Wow, such thorny, morally ambiguous issues.
To help me keep track: Angel emperor Joram, father of Akiva. Thiago the Wolf, Warlord his father – Does the Warlord do anything? “What my father and Brimstone were to our people” – So the Warlord is dead? Oh I thought the teeth represented the tithe. Poor Brimstone. And Karou. How much pain is it?
He was in love with her? Hmm, I’m not entirely believing this scene. But I didn’t entirely love the romance in the first book, so. “Yes, well. It was good luck for you that a spare resurrectionist happened along.” – I like that she can still be witty and snarky in the face of great devastation. Very Buffy. I feel very uncomfortable with the wings – both because of trying to fight the seraphim by being more like them, and…the incursion into the human world. This is going to get messy. Neither side is right. Ack. This is much. So much more complex than a young adult book is expected to be. Way better than that Hunger Games thing with its one-dimensional characters and one-sidedness.
Oh, so Akiva didn’t kill Karou’s family personally. That’s…better?
“From the time Karou was old enough to hold a pencil, she had been drawing this story of monsters and mystical doorways and teeth. Always teeth.” – Not news, but these sentences make me feel sad and yet again impressed with the power of the writing. Why are you so great, Taylor?
“And you use smileys” – I generally dislike smileys. I like Mik all the more now. “I feel happy…. I feel happy….Karou did not feel happy. Zuzana was suddenly sick.” – I love that Zuzana loves Karou so much. Their friendship feels so real. It makes me think of Sarah Dessen, but I’m more impressed here since Taylor has to balance an epic fantasy world wrecked with war and human (or, um, being?) relationships and does it so well. Also, Zuzana’s tiny fierceness makes me think of my current #1 series Dresden Files.
“Wouldn’t I be sorry next time I died?” – Maybe not if you prefer to end this cycle of resurrecting to constantly fight. Ten is (one of?) Thiago’s personal guards. Hmm, I wonder if she does have hidden intentions. Razor – priest. Ziri – Non-ahole? I hope we don’t have too many characters to keep track of.
“ I love you, crossbar,’ whispered Karou, and petted it” – OMG so funny.
Ziri is of her family. He was 12 when she died…so he’s 29 I think? He’s in his first body. I have to admit, the parts of the book not from Karou or Zuzana’s points of view are less great. Like, war, pain, terror – yes, they’re terrible, but it’s getting a tad repetitive.
“It made Karou realize she was spying, because they never laughed when she was around and would surely stop if they saw her.” – Ugh, she felt so lonely in the first book even with her family of sorts and her best friend. Now she’s found her kind, and she’s even lonelier because almost all of them hate her. So tragic.
Tangriss/Bashees – Shadows that Live. Super deadly –why? “He could have his own personal Shadow That Lives.” – Oh, so are the shadows like how Razgut was a shadow for whatshisface? Oh right…Razgut. What’s he been up to?
Dominion – the elite soldiers, b/c they come from rich fams, though they’re sucky at battle compared to the Misbegotten. So class issues w/in the race too. Dominion serve under Jael, emperor’s brother. Yeah, overall I’m not feeling Akiva all that much in this book. Back to Karou. Joram wants to put down renegade seraphim? Odd. Stelians, Akiva’s mother’s people. Lots of family stuff going around here.
The new strategy: kill the angels’ innocents.
I also love characters who are normals but are super-awesome in the face of extraordinary circumstances…like early Willow Rosenberg and Cordelia Chase. For once, Bast thanks her for a resurrection. Aww. “I’m just making the bodies.” “Oh, is that all?” drawled Mik. “Ho hum.” – Lol. “How is it obvious?” Karou demanded. She had believed she was human her whole life; she would not be persuaded that she had somehow been unconvincing at it. – Again. “Yeah. That was awesome.” A pause, followed by “Ow,” suggested elbow punctuation on the part of Mik. – How Taylor balances so many emotions perfectly is amazing.
Why can’t Razgut fly?
“And then unmelted. In a new and exciting shape.” – I just love Mik/Zuzana. Maybe I should just start quoting without commenting if I can’t find new variations on saying this.
What an a-hole.
“For the life of one, yes, and the hope of more,” said Hazael. “The hope of her.” – Ugh this is so emotion-evoking. Maybe one day Taylor can run a TV show so we can get her brilliant writing13-22 times a year instead of annually. He wants to kill Joram? How…foolhardy.
Issa! Well, Brimstone would have made it too easy.
“Man,” corrected Mik, insulted. “Look: sideburns. Chest hair. Sort of.” – Yes. But, please, math is not more painful than, um, pain.
“Kill the Monster Change the World” sounds suspiciously like “Save the Cheerleader Save the World.”
The Shadows are dead. Japheth crown prince of the angels. Coward. Jael, interesting. Oh right, Razgut. Oh, flip, Jael wants to rule Earth. Is Thiago really dead? Hmm. Yes, Christians can be evil. Jael was cut by Akiva’s mother? Festival. Haz dies.
Misbegotten + chimaera vs. angels…not sure exactly where the humans shall be. Hmm.
Resurrect a seraphim? Ooh girl you’re in trouble. Or…resurrect your would-be rapist. So dark, this “young adult” book. Wait…who the eff is he then? One of the people who stood up for her? What a great plot twist, Taylor! Oh, I’d guess it might be him, but…he agreed to lose his body for her? How impressive. Though it probs means more triangle fodder. A non-sucky one though. Shocker. Oh Ten is not Ten either. Ok I hope this doesn’t end up coming off as too much of a wacky body-switching hijinx.
“How at the Warlord’s ball and later at the temple they had whispered “hello” to each other, again and again like a shared secret. It had been on his lips” – I’m reminded of brilliant Taylor, Swift this time, in Enchanted. Oh Taylors just do it better.
Why does she have to have everything be kinda her fault? Sigh.
“The fuse burns brighter and nearer, so that Karou and Akiva almost feel as if they are touching. Tomorrow they will start the apocalypse. Tonight, they let themselves look at each other, for just a little while.” – So beautiful. So…WHY is it going to take a year for the next one to come out? Why can’t it be, like, a day? This might be even more maddening than “There was no more happiness. But under the misery, there was hope. That the name Brimstone had given her was more than a whim. That this was not the end.”
Such a huge, monumental paradigm shift from the beguiling beginning of Karou’s saga: “It seemed like just another Monday, innocent but for its essential Mondayness, not to mention its Januaryness. It was cold, and it was dark—in the dead of winter the sun didn’t rise until eight—but it was also lovely. The falling snow and the early hour conspired to paint Prague ghostly, like a tintype photograph, all silver and haze. On the riverfront thoroughfare, trams and buses roared past, grounding the day in the twenty-first century, but on the quieter lanes, the wintry peace might have hailed from another time. Snow and stone and ghostlight.”
If this is what Taylor gave us for a middle book, how AMAZING and perfect will the last one be? I think I’m gonna go read her unfinished middle-grade books while I wait, even if I suspect I’ll like them only as much as I liked Lips Touch. Le sigh. (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
It wasn’t actually bad, but given how great Unwind was, certainly disappointing. If this was the only book in the series I wouldn’t want to read the sIt wasn’t actually bad, but given how great Unwind was, certainly disappointing. If this was the only book in the series I wouldn’t want to read the sequel, though my hope that it might be middle book syndrome means I will read the third book. The book’s filled with on the nose clichéd writing, with few to no memorable quotes. And I’m reminded of Heroes a bit, in a bad way, in the whole destiny/special people motif.
Essentially the book’s mainly divided among 7 characters, which I feel is too many. Cackling evil Nelson (the cop that Connor tranq’d at the beginning of the first book), cackling evil Starkey who is a less interesting Roland, Kiss Slap Love Interest for Lev Miracolina who starts off strong but is ultimately a less interesting Lev (though certainly more interesting than Lev in the plain-bad interquel novella), and Cam who’s the most new character and had the most potential – but then he mostly turns into a creepy Edward Cullen-esque third wheel of a lurv triangle, super-perfect-hawtness and all.
I hated the first chapter introducing Starkey, and I hated him as a character and had to trudge through his chapters. Now, a villain is meant to be hated, but not when they’re hateful because they’re so annoying and dull that everything they do is predictable and their dialogue might as well be taken off of an assembly line. Or TV Tropes. Connor’s whole storyline about having to fend off multiple threats is very similar in feel to the storyline about having to fend off multiple threats in the first one, yet done less well.
Miracolina provides possibly the best chapter in the book (along with Cam’s first or second), but alas it is her first, and her storyline with Lev is generally quite dull and she becomes progressively duller as the story progresses.
Nelson’s chapters are a waste of time.
And Cam puts the new main characters at an even split among over the top villains and possible love interests who I either don’t want to or don’t care about making it happen. Risa’s whole thing is largely boring until the end, when it’s all very Katniss Everdeen (view spoiler)[Preaches Truth to the Cameras. Or maybe Claire Bennet Preaches Truth to the Cameras (hide spoiler)].
Overall, it feels like Shusterman was spinning his wheels and repeating himself in order so that the last book could be a better book by having all the good stuff. Which, it kind of worked for Christopher Pike’s Thirst #3 & 4. Thirst 4 was great – though there I felt that some parts of the overly long 3 could have been condensed and part of 4 could have been inserted into the third volume to allow both books to be good. Perhaps it’ll be the same case here. There is enough potential/set-up for it. There's the malevolent power to take down...okay, that's the main thing. If there's more focus on that instead of bad romances and bad villain storylines, the third book will be much better.
Notes While Reading, by Character: (view spoiler)[ Mason Michael Starkey (9 chapters) – the villain. Narrates a chapter, long. W/e, dude. Ok you think you’re a mastermind. “Game-changing?” So are you Palin now? Why are you so boring and pedantic for a villain? Works with Bam. You’re so annoying. Ashley bad. Oh, who cares. Cam (8 chapters) – Oh he’s the Frankenstein’s Monster Bachelor. Oh is it Risa? Stupid love triangle time? At least he’s mildly interesting. Ok that’s creepy: “sleeping princess…you will have no choice but to love me.” Squick. Yuck. W/e. Ickers. “No choice but to love him.” Miracolina (7 chapters) – Um, wholly? Tithe? What? You have to carry the embryos, seriously? Ok I kinda like her voice. Lol she amuses me morbidly. Hello Tim. Interestingly long chapters…to give us a proper intro to new characters, I suppose. Holden Caulfield is annoying. Glasses do mean you’re smart, duh. Ok she’s a bad writer. So this whole section is them? Hmm. Eh. Connor (12 chapters) – Oh they call themselves Whollies. That’s…lame but good as a title. Who is Hayden again? Is he the mildly clever guy? Trace is a military guy friend. Oh how CONVENIENT and obvious, Connor. Ew. Oh, well I never even knew him. Oh there’s a Secret Power. How…obvious. Proactive Citizenry. Well that just sounds like a Republican group. The truth has set him free? How long did Shusterman take to edit this book? Risa (12 chapters) Slightly boring. Well maybe she’ll become interesting now? Oh hai Roberta. Oh I feel bad for Cam. Well this is interesting. I’m feeling shades of Katniss. Oh the arrangement is probably “or we’ll kill your little dog…boyfriend.” Right? Ok, her boyfriend and all the others. If I know it, couldn’t her boyfriend get it too? Nelson (8 chapters) Oh the cop Connor shot. Black market. Some creepy stupid eye thing. Ok so 2 people want to take down Connor. Could be interesting. Nope. Lev (14 chapters) Oh right, he still exists. Maybe the interquel made Shusterman think Lev needed fewer chapters. No, nevermind. So yay religion? How emo. Oh goodbye personality-less good guy. Who’s in charge of the clappers? I really hope it’s not secretly the evil people who just want to make the Unwinds look bad. Cuz that’s such a cliché. So what, he’s a cult leader, or is like a Bieber? Ex-tithe haven. Ohhh…so we aren’t working on a continuous timeline. Hello Miracolina again. People do like to chase. (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
So, so disappointing. Okay, so originally I’d thought Seraphina would be about this half-dragon on this epic quest to save the world (the way1.5 Stars
So, so disappointing. Okay, so originally I’d thought Seraphina would be about this half-dragon on this epic quest to save the world (the way I thought Pixar’s Brave would be, minus the half-dragon part), but after I found out what it actually was I was still open to the possibility it could be great. People have been raving about the writing, but pretty much all of the beautiful prose is in the prologue. It’s kinda like how in a Karin Slaughter novel often the majority of the strong character development is in the prologue. And supposedly the pace gets much faster to the point of being too fast near the end, but I found that the pacing remained slow the whole time. There’s not much action, and from time to time I would increase my pace so I could be less bored. Not what I would call a page-turner.
Characters: Seraphina’s pretty annoying and whiny, though relatable in the earlier parts. Lucian is a total cliché and incredibly dull; I guess they at least match each other? The princess is not original, though I very occasionally liked her – not enough to find her interesting. Orma’s mildly amusing at times, but not the height of hilarity, and I’ve seen emotionless-ness being done much better before – whether or not the character then shows signs of having emotions. Um, Jannoula seems vaguely interesting in her occasional mentions, and I’m glad there is some representation for Daanites – they’re boring too, but so are the others. Oh, and her mother is kinda like a character from Daughter of Smoke and Bone with her choices, except one whose thoughts make my eyes glaze over a bit.
World-building…well, this was good. So good parts: world-building, a pretty prologue that makes me think maybe Hartman would be better at short stories, a positive (if unoriginal) message about self-acceptance. I don’t think I hated anything aside from the terrible romance though. Disliked? Sure. What would make me read a sequel? Hmm…maybe if Jannoula is the opposite of Seraphina and takes over narrating duties. Of course, sometimes a minor interesting character being turned into a major one can be a good way to suck away all their awesomeness. Like, for example, the gratuitous Delirium novella.
I was reminded at various times of Smoke and Bone, Dawn Cook’s Truth series with its version of dragons, Lauren Oliver’s Delirium with the message about love (though it’s done well there and badly here), and Midnight’s Children with its specially powered disparate children. But the element that reminded me of each was done better in those books. Though those books all were brought down to various degrees with love stories that weren't as compelling as the other parts of the books. It's not like I hate things about romance or anything; my favorite 2 books of the year are an outright romcom and an examination of the deterioration of a marriage...what one reviewer called Scenes From a Marriage if done by Hitchcock. I just don't like it when romance is badly done and takes up unnecessary page space, especially if the romance in a forced manner is the be-all end-all for the protagonist. Like, the one point in Seraphina's point that automatically is the best moment of her life? I would think it would be about her self-discovery or her journey to self-acceptance, but no.
Notes while Reading, with Major Spoilers:
(view spoiler)[I remember being born. In fact, I remember a time before that.” – I’m thinking Copperfield. My world split open…I tried to fill the emptiness with my screams, but the space was too vast. I raged.” – Quite pretty prose on just the first page. Her dad’s a lawyer. She, catlike, likes those who are meh on her. Sometimes I feel that. St. Yirtrudis. Acceptable lies. I could not do otherwise…I carried loneliness before me on a plate.” Decapitation again. I like sociopath characters (who don’t kill but, like, do good despite not really having feelings). Dragons can’t put on facial hair. I don’t say hello either. Or like strange kids. Oh does Orma have emotions? Hmm. So dragon earrings are smartphones? Silver blood. Is she into bears? Lucian is already kinda boring. Censors are like dragon cops. I hope she isn’t too whiny and needy. I feel lonely a lot too, without being a half-dragon. Lol, she’s “half lawyer.” Secret uncle…oh. Orma saved her 3x. “I could not let you be trampled…I’m not sure why.” She gets scales. Shallowness. Oh he didn’t know until she died. Some things are instantaneously familiar to her…seems vaguely Sue-ish. She had One “Friend.” Oh they have emotions in human form, they’re just locked away. Garden of 17 half-dragons. Jannoula possibly evil? Is this like Midnight’s Children? They can just like talk/contact each other weirdly? This garden thing is original though. Do dragons have souls? Viridius is boring. Ooh I already like Glisselda more than Seraphina, though she reminds me of Galinda in Wicked (the musical, not the book). Calls her prickly, good and “almost pretty” but w/bad taste. 15 vs. 16, petite vs. tall. Eh, calling out aholeness is not prickly. Okay right now I don’t like G. Hating beggars. Prejudiced. Yes, so far nothing’s happened, and the prose isn’t as pretty as it was in the prologue to make up for it. Bastard Lucian. How is he a prince? Corongi is 1-d prejudiced old lady. “Beat me up” sounds like an out-of-place phrase. Oh, so is it MORE like Midnight’s Children in that they have different powers, hers being visions? Are they gonna look for each other in Bk 2? How old is Orma? She’s overdramatic sometimes. Grandma self-x. Linn + Claude. Gramps banished. He has hate. Hmm. Teacher is most revered, above Ardmagar, who’s like God. Excision – erasing memories. Hmm. Saar Basind comes. Um so are patron…psalter saints like Horoscope signs? Who’s her stepmom? What a randomly cruel thing to say. Well, it’ll stave off stupid romance, so yay. I hope G becomes more likable again. I dislike personal questions too. Random fake philosophers, boring. “Love is not a disease.” – Um, is that you, Lauren Oliver? Uh, who would she be in love with? Lars? G? G would be more interesting and realistic.
So the first half: A prince has been killed. Orma’s dad may be on the loose. The people in her visions are half-dragons. Um…that’s about it for plot so far I think.
Oh, he thinks she loves her uncle. His aunt hates him. Oh, her granddad comes, and leaves. “Tell me why I shouldn’t bite your head off….you weren’t going to mate right here” – Okay, Orma is somewhat amusing. How emo. Oh, Orma has to run to not have his memory erased. That’s plot. Oh Viridius knows. I’m reminded a bit of Daughter of Smoke and Bone now, her parents. Though Taylor is an excellent, beautiful prose writer. And Hartman is decent. He’s self-aware of his self-importance, plus point. Princess Dionne is nasty. Wtf, when did she fall in love? Boo. Hello father. Kiggs is annoying and Upright. Oh right that girl who is possibly evil in her garden. Where she be? There are 18? I thought there were more. W/e I wanna get thru this thing. Evil, um, Corongi. Boring. Or, ok, creepy. She tells Lucian and G the truth. More plot. Basind is eeevil. Okay then. Gramps dies. Princess is dead, grams old/ill. “Traitor” Comonot. Exiled ardmagar. Dragon civil war? Bye Orma. Also vaguely reminded of Dawn Cook’s Truth series. Oh hi Lauren Oliver’s Delirium again. Well this book was better than that terrible Pandemonium at least. No, don’t confess your stupid love. Boo. Ew, he loves her too, boo. Stupid kiss. This is the best moment of her life. Ew. What a bad ending.
Second half summary: The governess is Orma’s dad in disguise; he wreaks enough havoc to make G possibly the new queen before dying. Seraphina tells G & Lucian the truth. Also apparently she falls in love while I wasn’t paying attention. Orma has emotions or something. The next book will be her looking for other half-dragons. (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
So when you read the product description, you can already tell that there are only 3 options: he’s responsible for her disappearance, a third party’sSo when you read the product description, you can already tell that there are only 3 options: he’s responsible for her disappearance, a third party’s responsible, or she’s responsible. Or a combination of the above. So it wasn’t like the fact of the culprit’s identity would be mind-blowing. But the rest of the crime is – the whole shebang about motive, means, and opportunity. The way everything turns out to have unfolded is incredibly well-crafted; all those boasts I’ve seen about this book being the ticket to Flynn being a literary superstar, the book being this week’s top novel on Amazon that lacks the advantage of being part of a media franchise/series, Time magazine’s writer putting this in the T10 books of the year…all deserved.
The writing…I don’t like to say swooning, because it sounds like I am mooning over the twu wuv of, say, terrible Twilight. But it’s not quite enough to say that the book captivated me. A book can be a captivating, very effective page-turner, yet still not be strikingly written – it’s why Dan Brown is so huge (though that huge-ness helped make his last book the only one that failed this test because he was too busy not offending people that he forgot to be entertaining), or Suzanne Collins. Collins creates obvious characters in a conveniently sketchy world in which the vital action increasingly occurs off-page so that we get to continue following along with an often-useless protagonist who for all the talk for being an action heroine doesn’t get her hands dirty enough to deserve that moniker. But, yes, I kept turning and turning the pages until I was done.
In the case of Gone Girl, I realized I didn’t have the option of racing through to see the next plot turning, because it is so well-written that I would miss details that actually do matter to the story and aren’t used as a bludgeon to be drilled into our heads such that we at any turn Know What the Author’s Point Is. And there would often be quotes phrased just so well that I would jot them down, ponder whether to analyze them before deciding to save them for later so I could get on with the rollicking story, and consider purloining them for my own use to make myself look like the clever Cool Guy in conversations. Obviously the process would be faster than the description makes it sound, or else I’d still be hundreds of pages away from finishing the book.
But just as an example: there’s a really interesting quote in the book that I’d already read from some review, that at the time seemed flowery and indulgent: “Over just a few years, the old Amy, the girl of the big laugh and the easy ways, literally shed herself, a pile of skin and soul on the floor, and out stepped this new, brittle, bitter Amy.” But the context when Nick says this makes the words actually completely fitting, and I really like how Flynn uses devices to get her point across – the parallelism of the big laugh and the easy ways, with big/laugh and easy/ways ending with a same letter but plus one, just the way that brittle/bitter does. And the cadence of the sets of words fit perfectly with the tone Flynn is going for; the former easily rolls off the tongue, while the b-beginnings and double-t’s sound very harsh. Later, when we know the whole story, the quote takes on more layers, and it becomes even more abundantly clear how brilliant Flynn is.
I’ll try to get into the book less vaguely now to detail the hows of that awesome, which is difficult because given the genre it’s hard to avoid spoilers. Though the table of contents gives a lot away. The characters…achingly real. I found myself identifying with both Nick and Amy, both the people they try to be and the people they really are slash have become. They’re arguably four different characters, and Flynn does an astounding job giving them distinct voices; they all sound the way they’re supposed to sound, which is really difficult for a book to do. Even some books I greatly admire have alternating perspectives that sound depressingly similar and/or are highly divergent in terms of how interesting they are. It might sound weird that two similarly-voiced perspectives could so vary in quality, but it’s usually due to the author wanting to make it obvious who we’re supposed to like, or both the female and the male may sound like, for example, a female but the female perspective would logically sound less forced. Flynn really likes to spin things around and around so we don’t really know whose perspective is valid, who deserves to have sympathy and liking.
At first it seems like she’s doing the obvious author trick of making us like both of them, making them seem like obvious literary creations. But there are very good reasons for why she does this, reasons that have to do with who these characters are, their ability to present to their world a face that is similar enough to them that they are believed. Our being able to see that this face (these faces?) isn’t who they are gives us the confidence that the face we get is then who they Really are. Because that’s usually how it works in popular entertainment, and so we like to think that’s how we are – there’s this brave face we show people, but who we really are is pretty kickass and we comfort ourselves with the knowledge that anyone who doesn’t like the real us obviously doesn’t matter as the failing lies within them.
Flynn explores deeper – as Amy and Nick become more complex, the less it becomes about who to root for than about which one is more antiheroic. More like, well, people, people whose dialogue always feels like something actual people would say, and the times that the dialogue seems stilted/taken from the media make total sense because the characters are trying to live up to what the media says we should be and they more than once directly refer to our generation’s tendency to do this. The pair never stops being fascinating, and the earlier stuff in the book when they seem simpler serves not only as a counterpoint but gives a good idea of the layers they put on to hide parts of themselves, making them even more complex. This is one of those books in which (almost) nary a chapter is wasted – everything builds on what came before and what comes after in such a way that you just know that the only way to pick up on everything is to reread this crazy amazing novel.
I seem to be going on for awhile, so perhaps I shall back to this review after I do that so all the things I have left to say will be more properly informed. But I think it’s safe to say this is my favorite book out this year, and I’m grateful especially to the folks at Amazon who love this book (both the editors and customers) which coupled with giving me the excerpt totally convinced me that I had to read the rest of it. Perhaps I shall try reading her first two novels before giving this a second go, though the reviews make me take pause as they seem to be less psychological crime/mystery “thriller” (I can’t think of a proper way to show that the book isn’t scary, but it is harrowing, so thriller in quotes it is.) and more about graphically violent crimes that are very hard to stomach even for genre aficionados. I guess I could do the equivalent of covering my eyes during an onscreen gory scene by skimming quickly/skipping passages? ...more
As far as YA dystopias go, Arclight’s…fine; I don’t love or hate any aspect of it. Which puts it above several I've read; even though I find Hunger GaAs far as YA dystopias go, Arclight’s…fine; I don’t love or hate any aspect of it. Which puts it above several I've read; even though I find Hunger Games quite overrated, I don't think any of the works trying to cash in on its success has matched THG's promise. Marina’s a bit of a presumptuous a-hole; she and her stupid boyfriend come off as Racists Who Changes Their Ways. And I don’t know why she’s all “but what about what you’ve been taught to believe all your life, omg?” She hasn’t even been with these people for very long, and doesn’t remember anything before her time with them – why would she be so attached to their beliefs when se doesn’t even like them much? According to her, there’s just “one person [she]’d rather not have threatened” – her True Love of course, so apparently she would be fine with her best friend and the few who like her being threatened. Her whiny guilt could make her so adamant, but if she’s okay with everyone except her boyfriend being threatened what’s there to be guilty about?
The ending’s slightly dumb, but it does feel ending-y. It looks like this book is to be saddled with sequels, but there isn’t an obvious direction to go; even the hints of triangle-ing are slight and Marina’s choice seems definitive. And the world isn’t nearly interesting enough to require more books to fully explore it.
Though I’ll say McQuein is a better writer than Veronica Roth, who doesn’t seem to have any original ideas or likable/interesting characters in her head, since that’s one of the two authors the book copy compares Arclight to – I do like Marina’s BFF and the Fade child. As for Stephen King, I don’t really see it; the book is not scary, and while the relatively interesting reveal of the Fade somewhat resembles something he’s played with before, he’s far from the only one to do so. And…the cover’s really nice, with the shininess and all.
Disclaimer: I won this in a Goodreads Firstreads giveaway. Any opinions expressed are my own and not biased by that fact. ...more
Reads like Grisham. I kinda hate the two main dudes - both the lawyer and the cop. So superior and smug and boring. Luther’s somewhat interesting, but tReads like Grisham. I kinda hate the two main dudes - both the lawyer and the cop. So superior and smug and boring. Luther’s somewhat interesting, but the whole “Oh I love my daughter more than anything” angle is sappy and he pretty much peaks during the book’s central murder. His daughter irritates me pretty much throughout. Especially cuz she’s supposed to be So Much Better than Jennifer, who the book and Jack in his douchey monologue want to paint as a horrible human being. But Jennifer doesn’t even appear much despite being his fiancee, cuz humanizing her would make it harder for the reader to dismiss her. The author even makes her dad verbally trash her. Okay then. Burton and Collin are whatever. Sullivan peaks in his last scene and is forgettable beforehand. The president is of course an awful villain.
Gloria Russell is a queen though. One of my favorite character tropes is the woman who will do anything to seize what she wants, regardless of how ruthless she has to be. Too bad that the author gets bored of her and she kinda just fades into the background. And the text is entertaining in a trashy way....more
Better than Dark Places, but there’s still nothing Special about the book. It’s a conventionally well-done and decently-written murder mystery with arBetter than Dark Places, but there’s still nothing Special about the book. It’s a conventionally well-done and decently-written murder mystery with archetypal characters who aren’t actively irritating but mostly aren’t that memorable either aside from Amma whose darkly charismatic personality feels like a precursor to Gone Girl’s Amy. Even the names are quite similar. It feels like the cutting habit of the protagonist is supposed to be Meaningful, but she’s not very well fleshed-out and while cutting may inform parts of a personality it can’t actually substitute for proper character development. The ending feels a bit rushed and anticlimactic, and it feels like the loose ends are there to provoke thought but I can’t care enough to think about them.
A few choice quotes: “Mouthed cinnamon sticks before she kissed” “I think I finally realized why I don’t love you.” (view spoiler)[“A child weaned on poison considers harm a comfort.” (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
Well, this book is about an Important Issue, so I can’t say it’s insubstantial. And it seem to deal with it in a way that’s sensitive to the issue. BuWell, this book is about an Important Issue, so I can’t say it’s insubstantial. And it seem to deal with it in a way that’s sensitive to the issue. But I dunno…it kinda reads like those Go Ask Alice & other “young women memoirs” that were popular in like…the 90s? I mostly feel uncomfortable, and the writing isn’t anything special really. And I can’t see at all why she’s charmed by the dude; I suppose I have the perspective of both A) not being her so having an outsider’s perspective, and B) already knowing what the book’s about, but at least for me it would have been more impactful if the guy started out coming off as a funny, or witty, or charismatic in some other way, so I could see her being suckered into loving him.
It feels like if I were a reader who might get into that situation, Dessen’s example wouldn’t help much if I were to meet someone who came off as perfectly nice and fun to be around but slowly revealed a darker, sadistic streak. Her boy starts out looking like a raging a-hole and rarely stops giving me that impression; an impressionable person could be like, “Oh, so to avoid someone like that I’ll just, like, stay away from someone who clearly looks like trouble from the start.”
There’s not much to say outside of the main plot, as it appropriately dominates the book. The sister thing seems to just be an excuse to make her feel insecure enough to throw herself into the relationship. I felt a lot of potential in Rina that was barely realized because her role seemed to peak in her first scene; later she was “that best friend I don’t see much because I’m always with my controller.” Dessen also seems to have had trouble in her first few books with creating a protagonist who’s both active in her own life (and I mean this even aside from the obvious factor of her romance, since that’s the point there) and has enough voice and perspective to make her someone the reader wants to be around for a few hundred pages. This is pretty much why I waited so long to read Dessen’s earlier books, since Keeping the Moon implied that it took a few years and publications before she figured out how to be a strong author. ...more