Becky's Reviews > The Hum and the Shiver

The Hum and the Shiver by Alex Bledsoe
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's review
Feb 25, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: 2012, fantasy, multi-dimensional, mythology, ebook_nook, religion-y, reviewed, romance-y, the_south
Recommended to Becky by: OSGA - Ala
Read from February 18 to 25, 2012

Despite the title, which is awesome, if I had come across this book on my own, I can say with complete certainty that I wouldn't have given it a second glance. The book description doesn't tell very much about what the book is about, and honestly it sounds boring. But this book was selected for a group read and was pretty highly recommended, so I decided to give it a try anyway.

This is one of those books whose peg doesn't really fit into a genre hole. You can make it fit into a couple maybe, but there's no one thing that will say, "That is what kind of book this is, so if you like that, read this." And, much to my own surprise, I liked it. Not as much as I could have, but quite a bit more than I expected to.

Pretty much the only thing I knew going in was that there would be music. That's always a little suspect for me, because I have very little interest in music in books, especially folk music, and musicians or performers of any type rarely interest me in fiction. That's not to say that if there is music or performers of some kind in a book that I'll automatically dislike it, but I think it has to be handled well, and that's not always the case. I've come to realize that I prefer music in books to be an extension of the characters, something that makes them who they are, not just something that they listen to. Usually, a character listening to music just feels like a name-drop opportunity. That wasn't the case with this one, thankfully. The music in this book was definitely a part of life, a part of the characters, and part of the community. It was the type of musicality that I love - the kind where the characters live and breathe music because it is part of what makes them who they are.

But that leads me to my first complaint. Music and songs, specifically one song in particular, were given so much importance in the story that I wanted a big revelation about what it meant, and I was disappointed not to get one. The story went in a different direction, and that aspect just felt forgotten.

In fact, that feeling that things were forgotten is my major, overall complaint about this book. I think the book should have been longer so that all of the background, the history, the hierarchy and the characters' stories could all have been better fleshed out, so that the meaning of the songs and the stories could have been better shown. Bledsoe created a whole community, a mini-world, and peopled it with interesting characters that I wanted to know more about, but who, in the end, were just sort of... filler. That's disappointing. I wanted to know what Don Swayback's awakening meant, and what the purpose was. I wanted to know more about Rockhouse Hicks and what his history was. I wanted to know more about the First Daughters, and what that truly represented.

Another complaint that I had was regarding the relationships between Bronwyn and Craig Chess. The first time they meet, there's an almost literal spark of attraction between them, and it stank of Insta-Love to me. I hoped that the story wouldn't go in that direction, and it seemed not to, with Bronwyn having this thing with Terry-Joe, but then it did anyway, completely out of the blue. And then the story was just kind of over. It was left open to interpretation whether Chess would accept the relationship, but there's no denying their instant and seemingly baseless attraction to each other. It seems that the Tufa people have a strong attractive quality to non-Tufas, and can make them fall in love extremely easily... but I don't get Bronwyn's attraction to Craig, (view spoiler) when she barely knows him. It just doesn't make sense to me.

I will say that I really enjoyed the writing, and felt myself kind of absorbed in it while I was reading. Bledsoe has a way with words that just drew me in, and it was like I was there. I could see everything crystal clearly. I also loved the slow build-up, and how the hints that we received were dealt out slowly and methodically and just at the right times. It seemed like every time I would have a question about something, the answer would come along as soon as I started reading again. I just wanted more than what I was given. I also liked the way that the story felt almost ethereal. It had a kind of realistic dreamlike quality, and I was never really sure if what was described was supposed to be taken literally or metaphorically. I think that's exactly how I was supposed to feel, so in that, Bledsoe did a fantastic job.

Despite all my complaints (which mainly boil down to one major complaint that I just wanted more characterization and history), I did really enjoy the story. I enjoyed reading it, and it kept me intrigued despite, or maybe because of, the slow build up. I would definitely recommend this one for someone looking for something a little bit different to read.
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Comments (showing 1-12 of 12) (12 new)

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message 1: by [deleted user] (new)

I hope you enjoy it.

Becky Ala wrote: "I hope you enjoy it."

I better. >_>

message 3: by [deleted user] (new)


message 4: by [deleted user] (new)


Becky Ala wrote: "*vindicated*"

Twas a fluke. You just got lucky, that's all.

Becky I mean, I just KNOW I'll hate Loins. ;)

message 7: by [deleted user] (new)


If you hate Loins then that just shows you're completely broken.

Becky I am broke a lot of the time... O_o

message 9: by [deleted user] (new)

It's ok, I got some duct tape, I can fix ya.

Chris Ala wrote: "Impossible.

If you hate Loins then that just shows you're completely broken."

Aye, to this.

message 12: by MrsJoseph (new)

MrsJoseph I love that cat. :D

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