This is going to be a nontraditional review. Kind of. I posted it on Rabid Reads as a Bookfessional on RAGE Buttons, but while I discuss another insThis is going to be a nontraditional review. Kind of. I posted it on Rabid Reads as a Bookfessional on RAGE Buttons, but while I discuss another instance of inappropriate behavior between children and adults in fiction, my review for this book is solidly in there as well.
If you don't like it, don't read it.
Several years ago there was public outcry against Karen Marie Moning when she rehired a registered sex offender to narrate the role of Barrons in the audiobook version of the (then) latest installment of her Fever series.
I too was disgusted, but I didn't understand the shock a lot of her long-term fans were demonstrating . . . How is it surprising that someone who would subject her adolescent heroine to the sexual advances of centuries-old men (for lack of a better term) would also employ a man who behaves similarly in real life? #notsurprised
I'm referring to the events of Iced, of course, the first installment of the Dani spinoff, and while the specifics are unknown to me--when I heard the rumblings, I refused to read it--the consensus was clear: the interactions were inappropriate.
Oh, some readers were more bothered than others, but even the readers who weren't offended used the speculative nature of the series as grounds for leniency.
And that's fine. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, and if they're not bothered, they're not bothered. *does not judge*
BUT. As far as I'm concerned: NOT fine.
You: Y you beat this dead horse?
Me: B/c that horse is apparently not dead.
I was feeling graphic novel-y a week or so ago, so I logged into my NetGalley account and checked out the Read Now options (b/c unless they're DC or Marvel, pretty much all the graphic novels are Read Now).
At first glance, The Scarecrow Princess by Federico Rossi Edrig appeared to be one of the most promising. It was recommended for fans of Coraline and Over the Garden Wall, and I've always been drawn to myths about crows, so I downloaded it immediately.
It did not go well.
Meet our charming heroine, Morrigan:
You: What a brat!
Me: I know, right?
But she's only fourteen, and we all had our moments at that age, didn't we? Still, just b/c I can identify the developmental stage doesn't mean I want a heroine who embodies it.
You: How can you be sure she's fourteen?
Me: B/c she's clearly identified as such.
SO. No room for misinterpretation. Which made it all the more upsetting when this happened about halfway through:
That these kinds of comments are made to an underage child by an adult are upsetting enough, but what really chaps my hide is that THE AUTHOR KNOWS EXACTLY HOW INAPPROPRIATE HE'S BEING.
Look at her reactions. These aren't off-hand comments written by some socially awkward middle-aged man who doesn't understand the implications of his villain's overture, HE KNOWS.
One can only hope that the knowledge has been extrapolated, but as I've already pointed out, art. Imitates. Life.
And hey, now that we've got the sexual harassment of a minor on the table, what's a little underage drinking?
I repeat: this graphic novel was recommended for fans of Neil Gaiman's CORALINE, a children's book, the recommended age level being 10+.
That's not even the worst of it.
In the final conflict, fourteen-year-old Morrigan is stripped of all of her clothing (i.e. completely nude), in the presence of Bad Guy-the-Pervert, who is ALSO NAKED.
And no, I'm not posting the screenshots of that (though I do have them), b/c it feels like it's a hop, skip, and jump away from child pornography, which is a FELONY.
When I finished reading THE SCARECROW PRINCESS, I went back to NetGalley to skim the reviews already posted, but I was baffled to discover that not one of the other nineteen listed reviewers raised any concerns.
I take that back, there was one mention: a LIBRARIAN said that she felt the nudity was gratuitous, but she still gave it four stars, b/c the color palette was evocative of autumn which "feels appropriate at the moment."
Last year when I listed my most anticipated new releases in a mid-year roundup Bookfessional, INTO THE DROWNING DEEP by Mira Grant (aka Sea2.5 stars
Last year when I listed my most anticipated new releases in a mid-year roundup Bookfessional, INTO THE DROWNING DEEP by Mira Grant (aka Seanan McGuire) was at the top of my list.
A book about killer mermaids in the Mariana Trench (I am obsessed with the Mariana Trench) by one of my favorite authors? YES, please. The oh-so-pretteh cover didn’t hurt either.
As is often the case with Grant/McGuire, there was a prequel.
Truthfully, I’d forgotten about it, but that’s why we have like-minded book friends, isn’t it? When I was reminded about ROLLING IN THE DEEP (thanks, Steven!), even though by that point I was keen to begin ItDD, I was assured it was a quick read, so I downloaded it onto my iPad for immediate consumption.
The style was somewhat different than what I’m used to from McGuire, with reflective documentary-like commentary interspersed with the live action events, but it was an easy adjustment, and I was just as easily caught up in the story.
A ship captain and her crew. A team of scientists willing to participate in a largely unscientific undertaking to further their legitimate research. A Felicia Day-esque TV personality. A group of expert swimmers who pay their bills by dressing up as mermaids . . . In an expedition to prove the existence of mermaids . . .
But when this motley group found the thing they’d set out to find (not really believing that they would), they couldn’t have been more different from their human pretenders.
“All the stories about mermaids drowning sailors, all the men lost at sea . . . we never took those into account . . . We said ‘pretty women in the sea,’ and that was good enough, because who doesn’t want there to be pretty women in the sea? We turned monsters into myths, and then we turned them into fairy tales. We dismissed the bad parts. We were too interested in . . . in . . . in pretty women in the sea.”
(An excellent point, yes?)
All the key components for an excellent story were present and accounted for.
And I very much enjoyed myself . . . Right up until the very end . . .
Still, I tried to read INTO THE DROWNING DEEP anyway, but stalled out around 15% into it. The writing was excellent, and I was already invested in one of the main characters (having met her older sister in RitD) . . . but I couldn’t take it seriously.
SO. I’m not sure how to proceed. On the one hand, if you too are obsessed with what might be living in the deepest part of ocean, you might love ROLLING IN THE DEEP (and after that, INTO THE DROWNING DEEP as well). Alternately, the final plot twist might ruin it for you like it did for me. And there’s no way to clue you in on said plot twist without spoiling it.
I love YA fantasy. I don't know why, I just do. That being said, in recent years, I've become a bit gun-shy, preferriReviewed by: Rabid Reads
I love YA fantasy. I don't know why, I just do. That being said, in recent years, I've become a bit gun-shy, preferring to rerereread old favorites rather than taking a chance on a new author.
I guess I should say I love good YA fantasy.
And sadly, these days, most of it is crap: instalove, cliches, poor world-building, plot holes, deus ex machina, etc. Any or all are likely present in 90% of new series.
Or maybe I've been unlucky in my reading choices. *shrugs awkwardly*
Regardless, SONG OF THE CURRENT is the exception. I was hooked from the first line:
There is a god at the bottom of the river.
From there it only got better.
Tolcser gives us a heroine with moxie to spare--(view spoiler)[she doesn't swoon the first time the obvious love interest tries to kiss her, she slaps him (hide spoiler)]--who agrees to deliver a package to secure her father's release from imprisonment, and that may not sound like much, but it is.
Caro and her father are wherry folk, their livelihood dependent on river trade, and 1. pirates are out to destroy any vessel that potentially carries said package, and 2. Caro has yet to hear the voice of the river god who guides her people through the language of the small things.
So she's brave. And determined.
She's also subtly hilarious:
Pa shrugged on his good wool overcoat, arranging the collar so it fell just right. His somber manner heightened my worry. He only wore that coat to temple, or to pretend he hadn’t drunk too much the previous night.
Basically, I loved her. Which is important as I'm a character-driven reader. By herself, Caro would have been enough for me to enjoy this book.
The world-building and the plot were also fantastic. I was enthralled by the gods who interact with their people, and there was more than one twist that I didn't see until I was right on top of it.
I read the whole thing in one sitting. If you also love YA fantasy I suspect you will too. Highly recommended.
SO. Every ninety years a bunch of gods take over the bodies of a bunch of teenagers to live as pop stars for two years before they die.
Riiiiight. B/c gods have nothing better to do than become Taylor Swift. Fame is everything. Worship. Adulation.
Whatever, I'm bored.
Know what else is boring? They don't use their god-like powers b/c it will scare the puny humans.
Is it just me, or are these the lamest gods ever?
Except for Lucifer.
When a rooftop of zealots (at least that's what I'm assuming they were, b/c their animosity is never really explained) opens fire on a gathering of the godlings, Luci says, to hell with that! and explodes their heads with a snap of her fingers.
She's then arrested--how dare she kill the men who'd been trying to kill her--and Luci is taking the situation about as seriously as I am, until while jokingly threatening the judge with another finger snap, the man's head actually explodes.
That's the question, isn't it?
To the detriment of everything else.
Why every ninety years? Why are they dead within another two? Why aren't they always the same gods? Where do all the other gods go? How are the teenagers chosen? Why pop stars?
Just make the god groupie satisfactorily indignant, throw in a hot vampire-looking death god, make a few jokes, blow some shit up, and we'll forget all but one of the unanswered questions.
But guess what? By the end of vol. 1, we still don't know who killed the judge.
THE WICKED + THE DIVINE . . . was a lot of shiny distractions with periodically deadpan dialogue to mask the lack of substance in the plot. Not impressed. Not recommended.
SIDE NOTE: obviously they aren't always pop stars--pop stars didn't exist the last time they showed up--but they're always whatever the current coolest kids are. Back in the 1920s, it looked like they were clairvoyants or mediums. Before that? Who cares knows?...more
There's a special kind of chaos that went into the creation of PRETTY DEADLY.
The installments begin from the POV of a bunny and a butterfly and are told with fable-like flair, but as the main characters are human, there's a significance to our animal narrators that isn't immediately understood. I say "understood" b/c there's a lot that is never explained, just implied.
Combine that with the maelstrom of images that bombard you as the violence escalates, and . . . like I said, chaos.
That's not to say I didn't like this collection of the first five PRETTY DEADLY episodes, I absolutely did. I maybe even loved it.
The story woven through each installment had the feel of a folktale, but it was one I'd never heard before: a man wed a beautiful woman, and overcome with fear of losing her to another, he built a tower to keep her in. She swore she'd die if he locked her away, and that's what she did . . . But not before Death fell in love with her too.
After that things get interesting.
And when the art wasn't making my eyes twitch (b/c overwhelming), it was beautiful . . . but sometimes also disturbing . . . Pretty . . . Deadly . . . I see what you did there . . .
Basically, it's a new fairy tale set in Wild West with gorgeous artwork, AND it's clever to boot. What's not to like? Highly recommended.