I did not have high expectations for this, and it delivered. (view spoiler)[The time travel plot felt overdone (really, that many separate trips wereI did not have high expectations for this, and it delivered. (view spoiler)[The time travel plot felt overdone (really, that many separate trips were necessary?) and at the same time very low stakes; at no point did I ever even wonder if they wouldn't get everything sorted out. The main emotional storyline about Harry and Albus was all right and about the only redeeming element in this foray because that particular conflict had strands of feeling genuine. I also liked that Scorpius was a good kid and that, like the original books, the focus was on the importance of friendship. I was less fond of so many of my other favorite characters like Hermione, Ron, and Ginny appearing as such cardboard caricatures of the versions I enjoyed in the books. I get that the focus wasn't on them and they weren't functioning as dynamic characters here, but JKR could convey so much heart with just a few lines in the books and I missed that.
I was also disappointed that this was such a male character focused story. Why couldn't we have gotten to know more about Rose Granger-Weasley? I have a feeling I would be more forgiving of giving short-shrift to Hermione and Ginny as having much emotional depth if there had been some exploration of Rose's character. Instead we got Delphi, a villain lacking any shades of gray to make her more interesting.
Revisiting these characters decades later, when they're older and wiser, could have gotten into so many more interesting issues. One of the best things about the HP books was how JKR could hint at so many other conflicts and stories for the characters, bubbling under the surface of what she actually put on paper, and this felt extremely flat in comparison. (hide spoiler)]...more
This was a bit of a slog -- I struggled with a lot of the new POV characters. I didn't care about the Martel/Dorne subplot, didn't want to spend timeThis was a bit of a slog -- I struggled with a lot of the new POV characters. I didn't care about the Martel/Dorne subplot, didn't want to spend time with the ironmen, and hated being in Cersei's head (although at least that seemed more relevant to the overall plot, since it would have been hard to follow all of her scheming, sociopathic thought processes, and gross rationalizations from another POV). ...more
Story about Cameroonian immigrants to New York City juxtaposed against a wealthy investment banking family before and after the financial crisis of 20Story about Cameroonian immigrants to New York City juxtaposed against a wealthy investment banking family before and after the financial crisis of 2008 and the fall of Lehman Brothers. Some of the dialogue from the investment banking family members didn't ring true, though I could buy most of their actions. What I liked best about this book was the realism -- everyone has flaws, nobody is truly evil, and the plot developments weren't melodramatic for the sake of cheap drama. I did definitely feel for the immigrant characters in what they were going through. ...more
I almost didn't get through the beginning of this book. It read like poorly written, unimaginative and overly derivative fanfiction too slavishly follI almost didn't get through the beginning of this book. It read like poorly written, unimaginative and overly derivative fanfiction too slavishly following the source material without any refreshing inventiveness. The writing style was weirdly stilted -- there were a lot of short scenes clumsily stuck next to one another interspersed with long sections of "telling" rather than showing. It improved as it went along and the plot came together more. By the end, the plot developments involving the reality TV show and the psychological realism with the characters' reactions/perspectives in a modern setting redeemed the unsteady beginning, but it was a close call. I liked the reinterpretation of the Jane/Bingley conflict the most, and appreciated that the five daughters gave the author a chance to portray a range of modern romance options. ...more
I wanted to like this book more than I did, since it was dealing with the DC-resident-perspective of DC and what it's really like to be involved in aI wanted to like this book more than I did, since it was dealing with the DC-resident-perspective of DC and what it's really like to be involved in a campaign. But the main character's passivity put a damper on my investment in this book. She just goes along with everything the others want, and barely even puts any effort into trying to understand what she wants. OK, but then why was she the main character here? Was she just a blank canvas for the author to use for her critique of the other characters, who were flawed but more interesting? Also, why wasn't there more exploration of Matt's desire to run for office? Almost everyone I knew in DC who was interested in politics was drawn there by the prospect of getting to create or influence policy, but this book didn't explore that at all and made it seem like the Obama administration people were more motivated by selfish ambition or generic yet abiding admiration for Obama himself. But why? His policy positions had to be at least as much of a draw as his personality/charisma. It felt like a weirdly glaring omission to not acknowledge that. Similarly, the lack of discussion of the opposition to the Obama administration from Republicans felt like a huge elephant (ha!) in the room that wasn't discussed -- but that would have been discussed (heatedly!) amongst these characters.
I don't know, it didn't really ring true to me that Matt would have some generic deep yearning to run for office without the policy motivation behind it. The author hinted at his interest in policy -- by showing how moved he was by Obama's election wins and how deeply he got into the oil and gas issues when running Jimmy's campaign -- but how could his wife not understand that? And if that truly was the gap in understanding that contributed to the rift between them, it didn't seem like she ever came to understand that so I as the reader didn't understand that either, and was left thinking that he mostly just wanted to run for office because he thought he was smart and wanted the power and admiration of elected office and wanted a passive wife who would "support" him rather than share this type of deeply held value to him. OK, so then why are these people the "hopefuls"? They "hope" only for personal gain and ambition? No, there has to be at least an element of hoping to accomplish what they consider important policy objectives, among this Obama-inspired generation. But the lack of emphasis on that aspect of these characters' motivations made these characters feel flat. ...more
Fascinating approach to exploring the impacts of the slave trade on individuals over the centuries, both in the U.S. and Ghana. The author tells a serFascinating approach to exploring the impacts of the slave trade on individuals over the centuries, both in the U.S. and Ghana. The author tells a series of connected stories following two paths: the descendants of a slave taken to the U.S. and the descendants of the wife of a British slaver in Ghana. There are some really big ideas explored effectively through this structure, though each story also functions well as a powerful standalone, self-contained story. I was especially interested in the characters in Ghana since I didn't know much of anything about Ghana's history and had never thought about the legacy of the slave trade in the areas where the slaves were taken. ...more
I tried to start this book a few years ago but got stuck in the prologue and was turned off by how long the book was (it felt like I'd been reading foI tried to start this book a few years ago but got stuck in the prologue and was turned off by how long the book was (it felt like I'd been reading forever and the book was still only showing up as 1% completed!). Fantasy isn't really my thing and the universe seems too sprawling and overwhelming to get into. The TV series didn't tempt me either, after how many thought pieces I'd read about its sketchy portrayal of women. But then I'd read some articles about more women-friendly plot turns in the most recent season of the TV show and it made the show and the universe seem more palatable and accessible so I gave the book a shot again... and got totally sucked in.
Excellent world-building, pacing, balancing of plot and character developments, distinctive points of view from different characters, creativity, detail... I see now why these books are so popular. The material is pretty dark and it's disturbing how disposable people are (the smallfolk especially) but that's also the point. Fortunately most of the POV characters are people we want to spend time with, giving us a bit of a filter from the brutality of this universe, and there are enough characters who don't horrify me to balance out those that do, or I don't think I could get through these books. ...more
I'm surprised by how much I ended up liking this book, since the beginning was kind of slow and I was iffy about the author's spare writing style. IniI'm surprised by how much I ended up liking this book, since the beginning was kind of slow and I was iffy about the author's spare writing style. Initially, I had a hard time getting a feel for Eilis, the main character who emigrates from Ireland to Brooklyn in the early 1950s, but the sparse writing style and inclusion of seemingly mundane details about her life in Ireland, journey aboard a steamer to the U.S., and adjustment to life in Brooklyn ended up as a really effective way to get the reader to empathize with her. We were experiencing things at the same time that she was.
There was a funny sort of forward tension in the plot -- it seemed like nothing much was happening beyond an immigrant missing home and finding her way in a new country -- but that in itself captivated me. I was constantly worried that another character or circumstance in the book was going to hurt, betray, or trick her, and was correspondingly relieved when things seemed to be going well for her. It helped that for most of the book she was behaving in a way that I hoped she would to maximize her chances of succeeding and adjusting to life in the U.S. (view spoiler)[And then the tension really ratcheted up when she went back to Ireland and fell into what life could be like there and had to decide whether to stay or not. For as frustrated as I got with her not having told her mother or friends about Tony back in Brooklyn, I always felt like I understood her confusion and thought it was in character for her. (hide spoiler)]...more