Maybe it's not the greatest piece of literature, but the moments of humor and honesty at the price of pride made this an enjoyable, quick read that'sMaybe it's not the greatest piece of literature, but the moments of humor and honesty at the price of pride made this an enjoyable, quick read that's been lingering with me pleasantly for a couple of days. Bonus points for dazzling descriptions of Paris and its people, especially since I'm usually left cold on stories that romanticize it. And even more points for a believable male POV, the empathy and the poking fun. Read this for a good story on marriage, its mistakes and grace and stupidity and intimacy and tenacity and vulnerability. ...more
Wow. I finished this last night on the metro, fighting a surprise-attack of carsickness exacerbated by creepily flickering lights and an intense smellWow. I finished this last night on the metro, fighting a surprise-attack of carsickness exacerbated by creepily flickering lights and an intense smell of patchouli, but then slightly eased by the happy chatter of an enthusiastic Italian tourist family. Their youngest kid, about 10, fell asleep in the seat next to me, and that was cute until the mom started freaking out a little when he wouldn't respond to her shaking him by the shoulder. I legit thought a kid died next to me on the Metro and I was ready to lose it. But then they carried him out at Bethesda station and his eyes were open and everything was beautiful again. Except for what this book did to me emotionally. That was a bit too much and I was super relieved to hit the 100% mark on my kindle while breathing in the not yet horribly chilly air at Shady Grave.
So this book is crazy! I've read Ashes and the sequel, so I was aware of what Ilsa was capable of, emotional wreckage- and gore-wise. I had to idea how to feel about the ratings, since they're pretty low but with some stellar reviews from trusted sources. I was surprised to see that this was a rather fast read, and if you hold out, all the confusing stuff in the beginning starts to come together. I'm also a good target for this book, since my favorite type of horror is fear of the unknown and creepy stuff happening without a satisfying explanation, instead building in intensity into a fever pitch. This book for certainly wound up tight and never let go. Damn.
So the story: we follow two main characters, Lizzie and Emma. Lizzie is a little girl whose daddy, a famous horror novelist, has been messing with things beyond this reality, getting in a bit too deep. To put it mildly. Emma is a girl who had some trauma in the past, but is trying to live normally despite frequent seizure-like blinks that interfere with time and reality. Lizzie's story weaves together with Emma's, as she meets some other kids who each have their own histories and realities. AND THEN SHIT GOES DOWN SO HARD. It's visceral violence (thanks for several lost-appetite lunches, Ms. Bick), actual goose-bump inducing creepiness, a big mess of emotions, and a giant dollop of not knowing what's happening but loving it. I don't want to say any more, but if you're the kind of person who gets excited with not knowing why scary shit is happening, and/or if you like a great payoff 3/4 into a 600-page book, or just like to see some people torn apart from the inside, this is for you.
It's a fast, exciting, nauseating ride into hell and I loved it. The pacing was slightly off sometimes, and I have way too many questions left unanswered, but I loved this one. MOAR!
P.S. The cranial-facial plate obsession, plus the sprawling nature of the work, was a bit reminiscent of Infinite Jest. Anyone else? Just me? Ok.
-I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review-...more
I liked this. Cliche scenes like the one in the pool and the rink, and over the top insanity were balanced by a very clear-eyed look at a family. VeryI liked this. Cliche scenes like the one in the pool and the rink, and over the top insanity were balanced by a very clear-eyed look at a family. Very good scenes involving the three brothers, and very touching words about siblings and why we drift apart. Can't wait for the movie!...more
It was okay. 3 stars for being a pioneer vampire writer. Probably super thrilling and scary for the time, but it left me lukewarm. Also, 3 stars for QIt was okay. 3 stars for being a pioneer vampire writer. Probably super thrilling and scary for the time, but it left me lukewarm. Also, 3 stars for Quicy Morris, the only worthy character of the whole book. The book was boring in the beginning, good in the middle, and slow and disappointing in the end. Womp womp....more
**spoiler alert** Positives: Boris and everything about Hobie/Pippa/Welty/the furniture shop. Well-researched and the characters were very alive, espe**spoiler alert** Positives: Boris and everything about Hobie/Pippa/Welty/the furniture shop. Well-researched and the characters were very alive, especially Boris. Won't be forgetting him anytime soon. I wish I knew more about his life after the book. Occasionally brilliant writing.
Negatives: The fact that I bought this book. Over-writing. Sloppy writing. Severe lack of researching of modern technology, e.g. the iPhone was not invented until 2007, while kids were carrying them around in 2001-2002 in Donna's world. I know it's a small detail, but I expect perfection in books that allegedly took 10 years to research and write. And this wasn't the only research fail.
More negatives: completely shallow comparison to Dickens by other reviewers. Clearly she was influenced by him, but the most important parts of Dickens novels - humor, heart, ability to evoke empathy in the reader - were not present. A lengthy tale of unlucky orphans a Dickens novel does not make. Speaking of influences, I saw DFW in the inconsistent writing quirks (who else says and c.?) and Dostoyevsky (Crime and Punishment, (which I hated), more than the Idiot - awful and completely off-base conclusions drawn, by the way.). Do better.
Most grievous negatives: Run-away hypocrisy at the end (Life is not black and white but everything is presented that way, up to the end. Life is a catastrophe on one page - life is short and worth living on the next, with no meaningful transition. Hypocrisy about selfishness when it comes to love and Pippa. Hypocrisy about grabbing the bull by the horns, because Theo is the limpest noodle in literature. God I HATED THEO. Hypocrisy rampant in the last section in general). Constant flip-flopping. Over-writing, again. Trying to dazzle the careless reader into an awe of her "deep" philosophy. If you want some knowledge dropped on you, read this Cracked article: http://www.cracked.com/blog/the-6-mos.... Much better exploration of the "follow your heart" pseudo-wisdom. More eloquence in a dick-joke-filled list format than in this bloated atrocity.
I am so disappointed. And I tried to like the book. I like art! And long books! I like orphans and Dickens! I even bought it, because almost everyone I know is raving about its amazingness. Well, clearly I have an icicle for a heart, because I only wished Theo would go through with the suicide.
Wow, reading that back makes me seem like an asshole. But I don't care, because Theo isn't real and he never felt real and I hate Donna for trying to manipulate me into feeling for him. Because she didn't do a good job. He was a blank with horn-rimmed glasses, who didn't develop and didn't learn jack shit. And that doesn't do it for me....more
Four people want to commit suicide on New Year's day and end up ruining each other's plans by all being there. Martin, a Matt Lauer-like morning TV prFour people want to commit suicide on New Year's day and end up ruining each other's plans by all being there. Martin, a Matt Lauer-like morning TV presenter who slept with a 15-year-old and lost everything; Maureen, the milquetoast mother of a 19-year-old son who is and has always been a vegetable; Jess, an 18-year-old histrionic mess; and JJ, an American dude who lost his band and girlfriend. Great beginning, some superb moments (most notably Jess's ill-conceived scheme to make money by proclaiming that an angel, who happened to look like Matt Damon and wore a baggy white suit, appeared to them and talked them out of jumping), a couple clever observations... Martin and, to a lesser extent, Maureen were my favorites. Martin because he's just so incredibly screwed up and doesn't try to fix himself and it's kind of refreshing to see such an utter asshole in a book. Maureen - bless her heart. She is one endearing old lady because her life is so awful yet she is so careful not to offend anyone around her or make them feel bad for her. She's hyper-aware of the weight her words have, and uses them sparingly so she doesn't transfer her weight onto others. Mini tear on that one.
Jess is a mess, and her self-destructiveness and lame conclusion to her story were not my cup of tea. Something was missing there - maybe more of a rationale for her actions? I've always been frustrated with people like her so I want to understand but Nick Hornby never made her into a 100% convincing and empathetic character. And JJ. I hate JJ so completely that I wanted to give this 2 stars. Whiny, faux-philosophic, deadbeat loser. Ugh. And the narrator for him was annoying, just to make me hate this stupid guy more. I wanted this one to jump off.
So a mixed bag with a great beginning (until stupidface JJ showed up with his stupid made up illness just because his life just wasn't shitty enough to win the shitty life contest), shaky middle, and hit-or-miss ending. Sigh. I own this book but I'll be unloading it - let me know if anyone wants it! I'm sure my review got you all convinced that you need this in your life. ...more