**spoiler alert** I don't think I've actually written a review since I had my son, but I felt that strongly about this book. Ultimately, I gave it**spoiler alert** I don't think I've actually written a review since I had my son, but I felt that strongly about this book. Ultimately, I gave it four stars because I couldn't stop reading it, but it could have easily swung in the other direction.
First, the actual stories from the Hinterland, OMG. It was the beginning of "Alice-Three-Times" that hooked me. The stories are incredible--exactly the type of dark fairy tales that creep under your skin and make you afraid to walk down the dark hall to check on your baby (or was that just me?). I read the novel primarily for more glimpses into the Hinterland and for more of Althea's stories, so I was disappointed that there weren't more. I wanted to know who the stalker was, what Twice Killed Katherine's deal was, etc.
I loved that this didn't become a love story, or, at least, not a traditional love story. Though I'm not sure I buy that a nineteen year old was so committed to raising a baby in such adverse conditions, I love-love-loved that Alice does all of this to get back to her mother. Maybe I'm just a sap now. Who knows? I loved that she didn't end up with Finch.
I also loved that Althea basically fucked up everything because of plagiarism. Yep.
What soured the book for me was the incident with the police, where Finch is trying to make Alice confront her privilege and acknowledge that he doesn't have the same privilege. Alice understands what he is saying, but because she can't deal, she ALMOST DRIVES OFF THE ROAD IN A FIT OF RAGE. If that is not the fucking peak of white fragility, I don't know what is. Prior to that, I was actually impressed that this discussion even factored in to the novel, so that really ruined things for me. I also didn't buy that Finch betrayed Alice.
I'm not a fantasy fan per se, so it didn't really bother me that there was a long lead up to Alice's journey to the Hinterland. I liked the build up; seeing the characters come to the real world, Ness basically losing her mind, being stalked by stories all really ramped up the tension for me. When they found the picture of them sleeping in the copy of the book?! I about pissed my pants. SO CREEPY. However, we really know basically nothing about this world. I feel like it would have worked better if we had a little more Hinterland and a little less teen-angst-in-NYC/road trip. There were a few too many helpful characters along the way once Alice was in the Hinterland.
The ending was too loose, but I've come to expect that from YA since everything has to be a series nowadays.
All in all, I genuinely enjoyed it and would LOVE to read the Hinterland stories. ...more
**spoiler alert** I genuinely enjoy Kelley Armstrong's work and was hooked on Rocktom right away. I found the first when I was home on maternity leave**spoiler alert** I genuinely enjoy Kelley Armstrong's work and was hooked on Rocktom right away. I found the first when I was home on maternity leave and devoured it, despite having a one month old demanding all of my attention. Suffice it to say, I enjoyed it immensely.
This one fell flat for me, for a few major reasons.
One, the premise can't really go beyond a few novels. With the Women of the Otherworld series, there were a ton of avenues to explore. With Rockton, there's a closed loop. They're in an isolated, Yukon settlement. While Armstrong has provided some doors (the council takes money from known criminals, everyone has a false backstory), it's not enough to go on. How many more serial rapist/killer/bogeymen can find their way into this town before people revolt? They've come there for safety. Once Casey shows up, there's a never-ending parade of crime? No.
Second, there are so many unnecessary descriptions and complications. Casey follows Storm and encounters a cougar, a cliff drop into nothingness, and being lost in the Yukon. The description of Casey nearly falling into the rapids below had me rooting for her death because it was so contrived.
Third, can we delve into the more interesting characters for once? We spent SO MUCH TIME on Brady and the constant "Did he or didn't he?" speculation. Can we learn more about Ty Cypher? The First Settlement? The hostiles? Mathias? Anything else? Everyone is just a backdrop for Casey and Dalton's brilliance and amazing partnership, when the actual interesting elements are all the other characters.
Fourth, and this is solely my own pet peeve, but why do you hate teachers, Kelley? Jen is the worst ever and every description of her makes sure to include that she looks like a schoolteacher (read: plain, boring, ugly) and she's the worst ever, always suspected of every crime and a bumbling idiot. Kenny was a teacher in his past life, is generally a waste of space, and doesn't want to return to "a job he hates" when he's released from Rockton. He was able to reinvent himself into something way better in Rockton. He's also a suspect and then is another bumbling idiot, running into the forest we're repeatedly told ONLY Dalton knows. WE GET IT, KELLEY. Teachers suck. Okay.
I mean, I'll still read the next one. I was just surprised to see myself on the edge of hate-reading a Kelley Armstrong book. ...more