I'm sure it's a good prequel (since Garth Nix's writing remains vivid and interesting as ever), but it's just been too long since I read the other booI'm sure it's a good prequel (since Garth Nix's writing remains vivid and interesting as ever), but it's just been too long since I read the other books for me to really appreciate all the allusions I'm sure it's making to what comes later. (I had do google Mogget to refresh my memory of what he ends up doing, and I really didn't get the conclusion's reference to (view spoiler)[Chlorr of the Mask (hide spoiler)] that was supposed to be super obvious, I'm sure.)
In my googling adventures, I got the feeling maybe Nix himself could've used a refresher, since his portrayal of Mogget seemed a little at odds with things said about/by him (namely, that he wasn't always a cat, and that (view spoiler)[he seemed to "accidentally" say something about Chlorr of the Mask, or Clariel, having been an Abhorsen, when clearly she wasn't the one to officially take on the role (hide spoiler)]).
It was still a fun read. I liked that the protagonist was pretty adamantly asexual. And how much she hated politics and just wanted to go live in the woods by herself (which is kind of how I feel when I try to read Game of Thrones or Lord of the Rings-style diatribes on fantastical-political-intrigue). Nix definitely seems to be doing some interesting thwarting-of-expectations for the YA fantasy genre while still telling a fun story, which was cool.
A couple stars off for not getting all the wink-wink-nudge-nudges to what comes later making it hard to enjoy a story centered on a kind of selfish (maybe even a little sociopathic) anti-hero.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
Kind of predictable, and very self-consciously inhabiting a certain moment in time (which involves a lot of responding to current pop culture). WhichKind of predictable, and very self-consciously inhabiting a certain moment in time (which involves a lot of responding to current pop culture). Which is part of what makes it so fun to read, probably. It feels so much like a more logical, modern Harry Potter story. Told by an American. But still taking place in the UK....more
A much more interesting re-imagining of vampires than Twilight. Similarly centered around a romance where the vampire-man is creepily possessive of tA much more interesting re-imagining of vampires than Twilight. Similarly centered around a romance where the vampire-man is creepily possessive of the protagonist-lady, but the romance is much more bearable because the lady seems to actually have a personality. And their world seems more realistic and interesting. Granted, this opinion is based on having read like two chapters of Twilight and not much of the preceding books in this series......more
Stephen King writes some great fantasy, man. Kind of like what I wish Game of Thrones had been like (both because it's not so incest-and-violence fillStephen King writes some great fantasy, man. Kind of like what I wish Game of Thrones had been like (both because it's not so incest-and-violence filled and because I'm a sucker for a fantasy story where (view spoiler)[the good guys win (which isn't much of a spoiler, because it's clearly set up as the type of story with a happy conclusion) (hide spoiler)].) This makes me want to check out the Dark Tower series.
The only things that really held me back from awarding that final star: The self-conscious storyteller-as-such trope. It was cute, but a little overused as a tool for reminding you of information or reiterating important points, which made me feel like King had little faith in you as a reader to notice important details. The Super Evil Bad Guy who has a two-headed parrot and is basically Voldemort plus Jafar. I know this was before Voldemort and Jafar, but I couldn't help making the comparison. Which was distracting at times. The way that the beginning of each section began with a fancy oldey-timey letter that had two little diamonds next to it. I know this was entirely due to the edition I was reading, but I kept thinking the first letter of the section was surrounded by quotation marks and being briefly confused. There are a lot of these sections, so it was happening a lot. (Also, the illustrations were not exactly to my liking. I prefer to imagine things for myself, thankyouverymuch. And I felt kind of silly reading a book with pictures in public.)["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
Charmingly teaches numbers as well as attention to detail with its splashes of color in intricate black and white illustrations. Very conducive to lanCharmingly teaches numbers as well as attention to detail with its splashes of color in intricate black and white illustrations. Very conducive to languid one-on-one storytimes, and to re-reading. I do kind of wish it'd had more of a twist ending, or shown more cleverness in the conclusion. I'd be happy enough re-reading it with or without such an ending, though....more
By which I mean, of course, that I could have predicted that Ishiguro would make me feel this way. Whether he's writing historical fictionPredictable.
By which I mean, of course, that I could have predicted that Ishiguro would make me feel this way. Whether he's writing historical fiction (Remains of the Day), or a dystopia (Never Let Me Go), a detective story (When We Were Orphans) or even (apparently) a post-Arthurian Romance--Ishiguro has this languid way of painting the eery within the mundane. Of filling you with beautiful prose while telling you a love story that, for all its beauty, unsettles you. Of making the bottom fall out of your stomach as your uncanny suspicions become uncanny knowledge...
And then it ends. With that melancholy sort of satisfaction that lingers. Making you feel empty, but also like you should've seen that ending coming. Especially since you were racing toward it with such eagerness.
Maybe that's just me?
I've always have a soft spot for stories with dragons. I'm impressed that the dragony mode was made to fit the Ishiguro mold.
Also, the way Axl constantly called Beatrice "princess" was tooth-achingly sweet.
(P.S. This review is based on the ARC I received.)...more
Kind of slow to start, self-consciously trope-thwarty, and abrupt in its ending. Mostly I was just annoyed by the cover art (with the lady clearly notKind of slow to start, self-consciously trope-thwarty, and abrupt in its ending. Mostly I was just annoyed by the cover art (with the lady clearly not wearing the glasses that were a big deal in the story...) and the title (which was barely relevant to the girl-power-hah-look-at-this-fairyland-and-the-poor-nerdy-princess). But I actually kind of enjoyed the reading experience, in spite of this snarky critical voice of mine......more
I enjoyed knowing things would end relatively well, and being surprised by the complications and inteA nice palate cleanser after All The King's Men.
I enjoyed knowing things would end relatively well, and being surprised by the complications and interested in how they would resolve themselves. And the overall likeableness of all the characters--even the villains were sympathetic. And non-whiteness as the default. And the foreign cultures created, with foreign languages with foreign grammars and foreign customs based around foreign religions. It was a lovely escape to a dragon-filled world that felt real and dangerous but also full of beauty and friendship.
I'm clearly too full of warm and fuzzy just-finished-a-good-book feelings to do anything but attempt to wax lyrical on what I like about well-written dragon-based fantasy....more
Like a less-magical LOTR, this book dragged on and on in its self-important, quasi-historical fantasy world of sexism and violence and reductively offLike a less-magical LOTR, this book dragged on and on in its self-important, quasi-historical fantasy world of sexism and violence and reductively offensive portrayals of noble savages. Not enough magic to seem like much more than gratuitously explicit middle-ages fiction...and anachronistic, inconsistent fiction at that. Sooo...not my cup of tea. I kinda liked Arya and Dany and Jon, but not the context they existed in. So I doubt I'll continue reading the series. I can see why people would get hooked, though. The perspective shifts are a decent device for suspense. And the fantasy cliches are kinda fun, if you turn off the part of your brain with delicate (or feminist) sensibilities....more
The final part of an extended love letter to the worlds of childhood fantasies. Bittersweet but satisfying. Definitely read like the trilogy had beenThe final part of an extended love letter to the worlds of childhood fantasies. Bittersweet but satisfying. Definitely read like the trilogy had been planned as such (i.e., without forced, shock-value-only complications a la GoT). Unpredictable enough, but not too much random subplot development or too much forced tidiness.
One (non-plot-related) complaint, though. The immediately-datedness of the slang (e.g., "FTW") sometimes irked me. Because it popped up outside of characters' speech. I get that the third person narration was adopting the voice/perspective of the people it was focusing on at any given time (is there a word for this? not quite free indirect style...). But sometimes it came off more as "look how hip I am" than "look at my realistic characters." I'm generally not a fan of writing that demands this kind of back-patting from its readers...but I indulged it in all the metafictional "books are so great" moments, and overall it was cohesive and set an appropriately sardonic-yet-reverent tone.
The sometimes-distracting/fanfictiony narration was pretty much my only complaint, though. I was happily immersed in Grossman's magical storytelling, and I enjoyed the slightly more optimistic (but still pretty gritty/emotionally-real) tone of the trilogy's conclusion....more
Published around the same time as Twilight* and similarly dealing with a normal(ish) young woman who forges an unlikely connection with modern-day vamPublished around the same time as Twilight* and similarly dealing with a normal(ish) young woman who forges an unlikely connection with modern-day vampires, it’s hard not to see Sunshine as a literary precedent that Twilight failed to live up to…
Important points of comparison**: First person narrative of an almost-painfully-normal young woman. She loves her mother, her mother has remarried, she’s not noticeably brave/special. (Unlike Bella, though, Rae isn’t wallowing in self-pity about her mother’s remarriage. She gets along just fine with her stepfamily, thankyouverymuch.) Cue vampires. (Unlike Twilight, where the sparkling immortals have managed their centuries-long reign among humans in relative secrecy, demons/magic are common knowledge, part of the political and social landscape of the alternate world in which the story takes place. McKinley does a nice job of letting her narrator unobtrusively fill you in on the details of this landscape as her experiences increasingly veer outside of the realm of even this supernatural “normal,” leaving some details and implied differences between our and Rae’s worlds go unexplained in a way that is actually more satisfying than frustrating.) Instead of a shallow love triangle between a werewolf and a vampire and a normal-girl (who smells like particularly yummy blood), there’s a network of relationships, and the romantic elements are duly confusing. The vampire never stops being scary and threatening (and centuries-older than the protagonist and non-human, things that Meyer conveniently forgets because she’s not *really* writing about vampires, she’s writing about sexy soulmates and their sexy chastity), and when the vampire watches the protagonist sleep it cues the *appropriate* reaction: utterly-creeped-out-ness. Cue sexual tension (every vampire story is a sex story), adventures, magical revelations about the protagonist, a confrontation with bigbads…and an ending. A (realistically) untidy** ending.
I know it’s silly for my favorite part of a vampire novel to be its realism, but it kind of is. This is like the anti-Twilight: no heavy-handed messages about chastity and abstinence and destiny and not-having-abortions, no poorly-written religious doctrine cloaked in a corrupted vampire lore. Just a good story.
*Sunshine came out a couple years before, close enough together so that nobody can really accuse either author of having read/been influenced by the other, but also close enough together that you kind of want to ask the universe why it was so cruel as to make Meyer’s version the commercially successful one.
**Other than the titles. Which both refer to...vampiric lighting.
***I can't help feeling like some of what makes Sunshine better than Twilight is the fact of McKinley's British-ness (contrasted with Meyer's American-ness). The British strike me as less idealistic, more apt to accept the harsh realities of life rather than trying to force-feed themselves an (ultimately unhealthy) version of perfection....more
The timeline near the beginning confused me a bit--either due to shoddy editing, intentionally disorienting writing, or just to my skimming and/or falThe timeline near the beginning confused me a bit--either due to shoddy editing, intentionally disorienting writing, or just to my skimming and/or falling asleep on the bus while trying to read. And I was a tiny bit disappointed with the inclusion of a romantic aspect (though it was admittedly well-handled) in a story otherwise full of strong, independent female adventuring. But it was otherwise an absorbing fantasy, with a carefully-constructed world (whose world-construction didn't encumber the actual telling of a story, unlike some storytellers *cough, Tolkien, cough*) that was fun to get lost in. The glossaries and whatnot in the back were even good. (I half-chortled to myself at the way they retained Seraphina's voice...)...more