Let me preface my review by saying that I first read this series when I was in high school and I loved it. My best friend recommended it and we refere...moreLet me preface my review by saying that I first read this series when I was in high school and I loved it. My best friend recommended it and we referenced it all the time... though with some knowledge that this was somewhat cheesy writing. There were lots of jokes about guys with beautiful, steely blue eyes. But I remember thinking that the books were somewhat scary, contained a great mix of fantasy and reality, and Julian had that bad-boy/demon thing going for him, like Jareth in Labyrinth, but without the weird age difference!
So when the series was finally reprinted, I was really excited to read them again and see how my adult-self compared with my teen-self. I'm sorry to say that I don't think this series aged that well. It's not just the early 90s references... I felt like there were a lot of problems here. Like the characters feeling like stereotypes for the first half of the series. Or the language that they used sounding like it wouldn't come out of a teen's mouth now or 16 years ago. And Jenny... what did she see in Tom? She feels so flat throughout the books, which I suppose is somewhat the point. She does develop somewhat and becomes more independent, less reliant on her friends' strengths and Tom being her protector. I suppose I just got annoyed with her incredible "goodness" - I mean, who's really that good?
I should balance this review out by saying that I still did enjoy rereading this series... it just felt more like a guilty read! I think that for those Twilight-readers this is an excellent collection to move on to; even though it's populated with the troubled, beautiful, immortal bad boy, it revolves less around being obsessed by this boy and more about friendship and inner-strength. Jenny's not the strongest of heroines, but she still becomes "her own master." As a librarian, I'll be recommending this book to those still looking for something after Twilight, but also to those looking for a good haunted house story, something to do with nightmares, or something that doesn't include vampires! (less)
This was an intriguing book, and another one that I think fits into sci-fi for those who don't normally read sci-fi. It's also got a generous dollop o...moreThis was an intriguing book, and another one that I think fits into sci-fi for those who don't normally read sci-fi. It's also got a generous dollop of philosophy, which I think almost all great sci-fi has, and is about the only way I want to read anything that has to do with philosophy.
Genesis is the story of Anaximander's entrace exam for The Academy. It is a four-hour exam in which she with be questioned by three examiners on the subject of her choice. Anax's speciality is a man called Adam Forde, who we know is connected with the creation of Anax's society, but other than that, we learn about him and this new society as the Anax answers questions. We also discover what came of our current world, how The Republic was created, and how Adam challenged society and changed it. Of course, things are not what they seem and Anax has a tenuous connection to Adam of which she is not aware. The idea of humanity, of thoughts, ideas, and feelings, are called into question throughout the test, and the reader is often exposed to layers of story all at once, from Adam's perspective to Anax's interactions with the examiners to her private thoughts and fears.
I spent the majority of the story wondering what the swerve would be, and enjoyed it when it was revealed. Even flipping back through the book, there are wonderful clues and hints at how the exam and Adam's story will end. However, I think this story ends up being more about the philosophy than about science fiction. Anax's story's ending is good but felt just a bit predictable. Adam's story felt like the strong point of the book, and I think the connection, particularly between Anax and Adam could've used some more development, since the reveal comes so quickly.
Overall, an interesting book that creates interesting discussion points and would make for a few good reads. It's a fast-paced story and a compelling story-telling technique.(less)
If you're looking for a mix of Lemony Snicket, Neil Gaiman, and Roald Dahl, then you'll find The Kneebone Boy to be a good fix. It features the Hardsc...moreIf you're looking for a mix of Lemony Snicket, Neil Gaiman, and Roald Dahl, then you'll find The Kneebone Boy to be a good fix. It features the Hardscrabble children, Otto, Lucia, and Max, three oddball British kids who live with their father, an artist who paints portraits of deposed royalty. Their mother mysteriously disappeared when Otto, the oldest, was only eight, and the other two children barely remember her. Rumors fly around their small town about the missing mother - was she murdered? Strangled by her own son? Or did the father kill her? Or has she just perhaps abandoned her family?
Regardless, it's been many years without their mother and the children have accepted life as it stands: Otto doesn't speak and constantly wears a scarf, Lucia speaks for Otto and fights to keep order, and Max is a quiet daydreamer who spends time on the roof, thinking. When their father is suddenly called to a job, the children are sent to London to stay with an aunt. But she's not home... she's out of the country. Suddenly the children find an adventure thrust upon them. They discover a mysterious great-aunt, who lives in a folly castle, a mysterious creature called the Kneebone Boy, a 25-toed cat, and the secret behind their missing mother.
The writing for this book is clever... sometimes a little too clever for its own good. While I enjoyed reading it, the language often made me want to take a break after a chapter or two. It's snarky and very conversational, often taking the time to tell us how the story should be composed (and why it isn't written that way) or reassuring us that it may sound like a ghost is in the chapter but, because it's a book about real stuff, there wouldn't be any actual ghosts. Except there would be, but in a later chapter. The pacing was also a bit slow, with a lot of build-up on how boring their town is and their family history. There's a point in the book where a short chapter is used to apologize for the slowness of the plot line, with promises that, since the reader was already hooked and wouldn't be stupid enough to put it down, the next part would be even more exciting. Well it was, but it all came very quickly, particularly compared to the start of the book.
The characters are terrific and the narration sets a great tone for the book. The resolution regarding their mother is not really a happy one, and while it answers a great deal of questions, I feel like it raised more that weren't addressed. The scenery of the book, from the Hardscrabble's house to the folly castle to the foggy beach and forests in Snoring-by-the-Sea are vivid. Overall, I would recommend this book, but wouldn't say it's a must-read. For grades 5 - 9.(less)
Ho hum! More Death Note - after awhile, these volumes start to blur together. Either I'm reading them too fast and too close together or they're reite...moreHo hum! More Death Note - after awhile, these volumes start to blur together. Either I'm reading them too fast and too close together or they're reiterating the plotting and twists and turns of disguising themselves and their motives. Spoilers again for people who haven't read this far...
So here we are in a world dominated by Kira and his growing numbers of supporters. We ended the last volume with Mello (one of L's heirs) and his gang kidnapping Sayu (Light's sister - remember her?) and holding her ransom for a Death Note. With much hemming and hawing, they do indeed make the trade with the task force (specifically Soichiro). Meanwhile, we learn that Ryuk has not been terribly forthcoming with information. Over the years, he's never once mentioned that he stole one of his Death Notes from another shinigami, Sidoh. Sidoh realizes that he needs to write another human's name in the Death Note if he wants to extend his life, and goes on a search to find the owner. Light must contend with this shinigami interfering with his plans while also trying to outmanuever Mello and Near.
Unlike vol. 7, we're back to the slow-paced opening, overly elaborate plans, and eventual rise in action half-way through. I'm really liking Mello, perhaps because his weakness is that he's overly emotional, unpredictable, and competitive. He contrasts Light, who seems to have grown comfortable in his position as Kira and L. If you feel for anyone in this series, it's for Soichiro and Misa - Misa has been neglected by Light since she first met him and she still sticks by his side. This isn't one of the best volumes out there, but you do get to learn more about Mello and Near, which is a welcome break from Light. I miss L!!!
Oh, and have a chocolate bar handy while you're reading. You'll want so much chocolate!(less)
Light Yagami is a serious straight-A student from Japan with great prospects. Ryuk is a shinigami, a death god, with nothing but time on his hands. Bo...moreLight Yagami is a serious straight-A student from Japan with great prospects. Ryuk is a shinigami, a death god, with nothing but time on his hands. Both Light and Ryuk are bored with their worlds. Then Light finds Ryuk's Death Note, a notebook with the power to kill anyone who's name is written within. Of course, there are rules that must be obeyed when using the Death Note. But Light sees it as a tool that he can use to create a utopia, ridding the world of criminal, and he can rule over it. Ryuk sees a chance to be entertained. When criminals begin to mysteriously die all over the world, the police and the enigmatic detective L begin searching for the killer, dubbed by the media as Kira.
This is the first volume of Death Note, and it gets the ball rolling quickly. Light is a chilling character. He honestly believes that what he's doing will make the world a better place and, though he first struggles with the powers of the Death Note, he quickly becomes corrupted by its power. Light sees the world in terms of black and white. Ryuk provides commentary and reflection on Light's actions (an interesting role for a death god), acting as a sort of chorus. He sometimes fills in the gaps between Light's plots and how they play out in the manga.
If there's anything I don't care for in Death Note, it's Light's incredible intellect. Yes, it's established that he's a genius and has amazing analytical skills. However, nothing seems to catch him off-guard. Even when Ryuk presents him with information he couldn't have possibly guessed about the Death Note, we only see Light briefly sweat it out and then just shrug the shock off. Light is still a teen and, even though he's confident and believe himself to be righteous, I'd think he'd be a little more flustered at times.
However, the story line is very interesting, raising questions about abuse of power and right and wrong. The artwork is incredible. You become more comfortable looking at the shinigami, who are very open about what they are, instead of Light, who goes from sweet and optimistic to manic. (less)
**spoiler alert** The last volume ended with a bit of a cliffhanger... someone besides Light possesses a Death Note and has made the deal for shinigam...more**spoiler alert** The last volume ended with a bit of a cliffhanger... someone besides Light possesses a Death Note and has made the deal for shinigami eyes. This second Kira is eager to meet the original, and L and the task force hope to intercept copycat before Kira can. Of course, Light is still active on the task force. When the second Kira reveals herself (gasp!) to Light, he must decide how best to use her and her shinigami.
Okay, so getting down to specifics, Misa (the second Kira) reveals herself to the police and then Light, confessing her love for him. She not quite what anyone expected. Compared to super geniuses (Wile E. Coyote-style) like Light and L, Misa isn't nearly as clever, but she's no dummy. She's unpredictable as well, being much more emotional than Light, and having the power of shinigami eyes. Her shinigami, Rem, is the complete opposite of Ryuk - forthcoming, patient, caring, and protective. Light isn't prepared to handle this curveball, and we see him acting more and more on the defensive.
Still, you can't help but feel that L is also struggling with the investigation. There's an interesting exchange between L and Light, where they talk about being friends. While you know that Light is just playing a part, you do feel for L, who seems lonely. He also contemplates his own mortality, knowing that he should concentrate on what he can do instead of letting the fear of death control him.
I think this volume's shift in focus - away from Light and Ryuk and on to L, Misa and Rem - was effective. While L has grown on me over the past three volumes, I liked Misa and Rem almost right away. Perhaps it's that they aren't as calculating as the other characters, but rather plain about their feelings. I'm looking forward to the next volume, especially after this new cliffhanger.(less)
**spoiler alert** Picking up from vol. 2, this volume of Death Note opens with Light being closely scrutinzed by L and the task force. What they can't...more**spoiler alert** Picking up from vol. 2, this volume of Death Note opens with Light being closely scrutinzed by L and the task force. What they can't see, however, is Ryuk, the shinigami. Though he's supposed to be a neutral party, Ryuk's love of apples has gotten the best of him, and Light is able to blackmail him into helping outwit the police. However, L realizes that Light is one of the most promising suspects, and continues to follow and challenge him. As the two confront each other face to face, one of Kira's supporters decides to take action.
This volume pokes a little fun at itself, despite the story's serious tone. L recognizes that the Yagami household is so squeaky clean (in appearance as well as attitudes) that it's cause for suspicion. Light makes a joke at one point about second and third guessing Kira and L's actions. Ryuk also lends a little comedy to the story (apparently shinigami's withdrawal symptons involve knotting up like a pretzel).
We also get to see a different side of Light; when L personally confronts him, Light becomes frustrated and violent. Though he believes that finding the Death Note has made him truly happy, we see the incredible stress taking its toll, as well as Light's need to win. For the first time since Ryuk's appearance, Light seems to be cracking. We also get to see how Light reacts to tragedy and accusations within his own family. It's hard to tell at this point if he's protective of his family members, or it's all part of the act.
Still a great series... I can't wait to see more about Misa.(less)
In the second volume of Death Note, we get to see Light Yagami further experiment with the powers and capabilities of the Death Note. Raye Penber, the...moreIn the second volume of Death Note, we get to see Light Yagami further experiment with the powers and capabilities of the Death Note. Raye Penber, the FBI agent assigned to investigate him, and his fiance, a former-FBI agent herself, become inextricably wrapped up in the Kira mystery. L, an enigmatic recluse pursuing Kira, reveals himself to the task force and begins closing in on Light as a suspect.
Things progress nicely in the second volume of Death Note. We spend a bit more time with L, learning about his thought process, habits, and his theories about the Kira case. We also begin to see the lengths to which Light will go to follow his dream of a utopia, even if that means killing innocents. You still get that Encyclopedia Brown-vibe with L and Light (they figure things out with so little to go on and then have to explain to you, at length, how they did it). But Light is also able to play the charismatic teen who only wants to help, and it's disturbing how he can go from this to serial killer within a matter of seconds.
This is a great manga... I can't wait to keep reading!(less)
If you haven't read the previous volumes of Death Note, I'd really recommend that you do. Spoilers ahead!
A third Kira has appeared, complicating an al...moreIf you haven't read the previous volumes of Death Note, I'd really recommend that you do. Spoilers ahead!
A third Kira has appeared, complicating an already impossible case. L's main suspects, Light and Misa, have already been subjected to confinement and the killings have gone on without them. Light has given up the Death Note, lost his memories of his actions as Kira, and is now on the task force to find Kira, even though he's spending every minute handcuffed to L. As the task force closes in on the Yotsuba group and begins to eliminate suspects, Misa plays a vital roll in the investigation - one which leads to her learning about the Death Note, Rem, and the third Kira's identity!
So the action slowed down considerably in the last volume. If you thought there was a lot of talking and speculation in previous Death Notes, you ain't seen nothing yet! L is working overtime as he tries to discover the third Kira's identity while also questioning Light and Misa and using their relationship to his advantage. Adding to this is Misa's general silliness - even trapped in L's headquarters, she's only focused on dating Light.
In fact, the start of this volume is much more light-hearted (forgive the pun?) than previous ones. The drawing style, the dialogue, and the interactions between characters are brighter and somewhat tongue-in-cheek. Perhaps that's because we don't have to see Light grimacing and sneering all the time? Come to think of it, this really does show you a Light that's uncorrupted and unaffected by the Death Note. He will occasionally acknowledge that he makes the most sense as a suspect, and it makes him nervous and angry that he could be capable of such actions. Even when he's missing his memories of being Kira, I don't really like Light, but this gives us a chance to see the sort of personality the Death Note can draw out.
So after all that complaining about how slow this volume is, I will say that the action picks up drastically about 3/4ths of the way through. You'll definitely want to have the next volume on hand when you finish this one!(less)
**spoiler alert** I got the feeling some bad stuff is about to go down! If you haven't read the previous volumes of Death Note, there's spoilers ahead...more**spoiler alert** I got the feeling some bad stuff is about to go down! If you haven't read the previous volumes of Death Note, there's spoilers ahead...
The third Kira, Higuchi, has been tracked down and this volume opens with him surrounded by police, including L and Light. When he reveals the secrets of the Death Note, police confiscate it and are suddenly able to see the shinigami, Rem. Light also comes into contact with the Death Note and all of his memories return, revealing an elaborate plot that started several volumes back. Without letting go of the Death Note, Light must kill Higuchi or risk losing all his memories again. As this volume goes on, there's a huge plot twist that leads to Light's biggest victory yet...
Unlike many other Death Note volumes, this one plunges into the action with the tense standoff between Higuchi and the police. The task force must grapple with the fact that they're dealing with a supernatural being, but they seem to accept Rem and the Death Note's properties fairly quickly. If you were ever on the fence with liking Light or not, this volume will probably push you over the edge... before it's finished, a few major characters will be gone and the story will have advanced to the year 2009. We learn more about L and Watari's background and meet two of L's protegies. This is a major turning point in the series!(less)
**spoiler alert** Bravely marching forward towards the end of the series... but not there yet! Spoilers for those who haven't read this far, of course...more**spoiler alert** Bravely marching forward towards the end of the series... but not there yet! Spoilers for those who haven't read this far, of course, blah blah blah...
Another major turning point, not just for Light, but for Kira, Near, Mello, and the Japanese task force. The task force's last attempt to storm Mello and his mafia gang's hideout failed miserably, thanks to interference from shinigami Sidoh. But when Light's father, Soichiro, unexpectedly makes the deal with Ryuk for shinigami eyes, they're able to break into the hideout and corner Mello. But he isn't L's heir just because of his scary looks... Mello manages to escape, taking Soichiro out in the process. We discover that there's a spy for Mello in the SPK's midst (Near seems well aware of who it is). Mello and Near form a shaky partnership by sharing information and then separate to see who can catch Kira first and avenge L's death. The U.S. decides to take no action against Kira. Good old Demegawa of Sakura TV is proclaimed the spokesman of Kira, driving crowds into a frenzy as they hunt down those who would go against Kira (watch out SPK!). And Near sows seeds of mistrust (doesn't that sound fancy?) in the Japanese task force. WHEW!
This was actually a pretty cool volume. Like I said in my last review, I really enjoy watching Mello because he seems best at catching Light off-guard. It's nice to have some emotion register for these characters - and it was sad to see Soichiro pass on. Watching Light at his father's side as he dies, you really understand the depths he's sunk to as Kira. Soichiro's last moments are spent being pressured by Light to write Mello's name in the Death Note, and he refuses. We also see that Kira has been accepted by several world powers and is becoming more and more revered by the people. You have to wonder, though, if a man like Demegawa has been chosen to be the voice of Kira, what sort of corruption will he bring to Light's ideals.
Are there other people out there who feel like Matsuda needs to be slapped a few times? He's so trusting, it would be sad if it weren't so annoying.(less)
Talia is just 13 and on the verge of being forced into marriage when she is rescued from her abusive home by a Companion, a mythical horse that serves...moreTalia is just 13 and on the verge of being forced into marriage when she is rescued from her abusive home by a Companion, a mythical horse that serves the Queen. When she rides the Companion to the kingdom's capital in order to return him, she discovers that she has been Chosen as a Herald, a servant of the Queen and part of an elite training program. This is something that Talia has only dreamed about while stealing a rare moment to read... but will she be able to meet everyone's expectations, especially her own?
So amongst my piles of unread fantasy authors, Mercedes Lackey has been waiting. This book was recommended to me and I found it surprisingly easy to pick up and enjoy. Talia's an interesting character and the world of Valdemar is definitely intriguing. But things moved so quickly (the book covers almost three years) that you barely get to scratch the surface. It also got a little difficult to listen to Talia's self-doubt. No matter how many times she saves other Heralds (almost all of them more experienced her) or helps the Queen with some elaborate political plot, she still feels like she hasn't contributed. It stopped being endearing and moved on to annoying. Also, for such a difficult program, in addition to Talia's bajillion responsibilities, everything comes fairly easily to Talia. Including breaking the Brat of all her bad habits... shouldn't that have been near-impossible?
Some parts of the book don't quite jive together to me... there are awkward changes in perspective, so in some scenes we go from Talia to a senior Herald who reflects on Talia's emotional distance and then right back to Talia. It's disorienting. There are also random moments of attempts at sex. That didn't bother me so much except that Talia goes from 13 and shy and naive to giving sexy neck rubs and being highly desired by other Herald-trainees... all within less than a year? But she's a virgin the entire time? I guess I didn't know what age this book was targeting.
That isn't to say I didn't think it was an enjoyable book. If I was several years younger, I'd be all over a book about a girl getting her magical horse, discovering she has magic powers, and becoming a Herald. I may pick up the next book in the series and see if the storytelling changes at all.(less)