2 out of 5 stars and that's me, being very kind and generous towards a very trying, unoriginal and blanRead This Review & More Like It On My Blog!
2 out of 5 stars and that's me, being very kind and generous towards a very trying, unoriginal and bland novel. This was quite nearly a DNF for me. Some books just read effortlessly and easily and some books are a struggle from the first page until the last and The Girl in the Steel Corset is definitely a member of the latter group. Only a few things could have kept me going in this four-hundred page mess and one of them was the immense, looming obligation I felt to read ARC I received for the equally-long-winded sequel, The Girl in the Clockwork Collar. Several aspects of this first novel were mystifying to me amid and during my boredom and struggle to complete it - like why, exactly, is this lip-service "steampunk" novel so many readers' first (and judging by the "gadgetry" shown in this novel, their only taste) taste of that kooky and inventive subgenre? And why is Finley so brainless and hard to like? I have to readily admit my experience with Finley and her misfits were much less than satisfactory and note honestly that if I hadn't won this book, I would be pissed at having spent my hard-earned cash on it.
The Girl in the Steel Corset is just plain bad often, and frequently a mess by many measures. There're love triangles galore (Jack-Finley-Griffin and Sam-Emily-Jasper), missed character potential in order to focus on fripperies, coffee (coffee?? I'm sorry - I thought that this was alternate England not a new universe. Where's the tea?!) and clothing, and most damning (and frustrating as a reader) of all, there are unfulfilled and unexplained plotlines AFTER the resolution and roundup on the final page ((view spoiler)[seriously, who killed Felix? No answer is provided. (hide spoiler)]). I have major, major issues with how the steampunk aspect was "incorporated" into the story - I like steampunk quite a lot and have read several series just for the inventive gadgets and sky-high dirigibles. When it's done well, steampunkery can add a certain flair and fun to a much more straight-forward tale. When it's done like here in The Girl with the Steel Corset, it comes across more as a bunch of deux-ex-machinas draped in clockwork - every invention in the novel comes across as just too convenient or perfect for the situation at hand. Cross's "steampunkery" leaves a lot to be desired and overall, doesn't add anything vital to the story at hand.
Character-wise, we also have some issues.
Finley Jayne. (view spoiler)[Sheppard. (hide spoiler)] My issues with Finley began about two minutes into the book, give or take. As the novel opens, everything seems to be lined up in the young Miss Jayne's favor: she's smart, strong and can kick some arrogant lordling ass. However, as she's running away from the introductory attempted rape and her violent response to the situation, she LITERALLY runs into another strange young lordling but decides to follow that one home...to stay. Her logic being that her mom's going be pissed she lost her job with Asshole "Attempted Rapist" Lordling of Jackass Hall. Uhh.... ok, then, I guess? From that less than auspicious meeting point, I further got tired of Finley's brainlessness: she repeatedly makes harebrained, dangerous decisions without informing anyone else of her plans, she doesn't think consequences through and she's difficult.
Griffin King. I'm just going to stop a moment and ponder the possibility of a Duke in 1800's England having the surname of 'King'. Really? I'm supposed to buy that? And what is with YA authors and painfully obvious names/surnames? Griffin is like a mix of a Batman origin story (parents murdered, forever seeks justice in an unjust world as a result) in an I, Robot world (machines trying to kill Sam against their programming). Much like his lady counterpart, Griff's characterization, and like everyone else's, is blunt and repetitive. This is not a book for any kind of subtlety or subterfuge - Kady Cross is an author that likes to beat her points around your head until you collapse. Griffin's honorable and a duke; he's smart and capable and kind. How do I know this? The other characters are kind enough to remark upon his attributes often, both vocally and internally, instead of, y'know, showing me their individual relationships with their actions and dialogue. But besides all that, I do think I have the beginnings of a book crush on the Duke of Greythorne - yes he is too perfect to be real, but he is the most only likeable male in the misfits.
Sam Morgan. I hate Sam. Few characters have inspired to this level of do-not-want but he did it under 200 pages. Sam is the most unlikeable, undeveloped and hardest-to-understand character out of the whole bloody lot. In a cast of similarly clouded and unrounded characters, he takes the cake as the most frustrating. He's also quite thick - I called his twist as soon as it appeared disguised on the page. His actions towards Finley (like trying to MURDER her) do nothing to redeem his character - he is merely tedious in his capslockian rage.
Cordelia. Griffin's telekinetic and telepathic aunt quickly emerged somewhat of a major issue for me. (view spoiler)[Also - how does she have such an ability without exposure to the Organites? No one else has such talents without them and she is never around them... (hide spoiler)] Cordelia tends to use brute mental force to invade someone's mind just because she can and she wants to, despite being asked and TOLD by Finley, repeatedly, to not mess around in her head. Cordelia also violates Griffin's expressed desires for cranular privacy, but self-control and heeding the wishes of others clearly matters very little to his guardian/aunt. Her part reduced more and more as the novel went on and the kids grew into their roles and independence and I wasn't sorry to see her go.
Characters I did like, for the most part:
Emily O'Brien. Emily is the Irish genius behind Griff's crime-fighting force. While I got very tired of seeing the word "ropey" attached to describe her hair, and her "lads" and "lass" at the end of every sentence wore my patience, Emily is the best part of the novel. She's smart, self-aware and every-bit as interesting as main character Finley Jayne.
Jack Dandy. Dandy is the final leg in the love triangle of Griff and Finley and despite that working against him, I quite like the fake Cockney bastard - I'm always up to root for a good antihero. He, at least, has personality to burn and verve. While I found the overdone and obvious attraction between him and Finley to be well, overdone and obvious, he is certainly a scene-stealer and amusing. I liked that he was very different from Griff - one appeals the pure side of Finley and one to the darker - but I do wish he had had more point in the story than just causing romantic friction between the main characters.
There are admittedly some cool ideas at play here (Griff's abilities, the mutations of the group due to the exposure to the Organites) but unfortunately, much of what is good gets lost in the shuffle and the tedium offered in the rest of the book. Perhaps this would've been a stronger novel if there hadn't been so many POVs, but rather just Finley. Griffin's is an acceptable narrative because it complements Finley's nicely, but Sam's adds absolutely nothing to the reading experience except an increased apathy for the part-robot. And if the characters aren't the selling point of the novel, the plot and action had better make up for it -except that is not the case here. In fact, after Finley's dustup and then meetup with Griff and until her showdown with Sam, there's very little real action to be had for a novel about a girl worried at one point about begin possessed by a violent demon.
The Girl in the Steel Corset is frustrating, time-consuming and an energy-sapping read. I hate being disappointed in books I've looked forward to reading which is perhaps 10% of the reason why I'm being quite so harsh here; there's just so much unrealized potential passed over (Em's brilliance) for less compelling ideas (Finley's dual nature). There is an open ending that leads quite obviously to the main events and plot of book two, but I was underwhelmed by both the final conflict and the denouement shown here. There is also no reason for this book to have the length it does - a dab hand at editing could excise about 50 - 100 pages of nonessential data and detail and have a more streamlined, consistent, and involving novel. All in all, if I didn't have a copy of book two waiting, I wouldn't continue this series....more
No. Just no. Am I reading the same book as everyone else? This was awful across the board. A smatteringRead This Review & More Like It On My Blog!
No. Just no. Am I reading the same book as everyone else? This was awful across the board. A smattering of a (very) few good ideas, scant worldbuilding (and what is there is very unoriginal), and very poor execution coupled with two unlikeable protagonists make for a very unsatisfied Jessie. This is not going to be pretty. I'm pretty damn disappointed with this novel, as well as being supremely frustrated with it. I had passed this over several times on my frequent go-throughs of NetGalley - PNR/UF is far from my favorite genre as they tend to be predictable and all vaguely alike - and I should've stuck with my initial, quite wary, thoughts. Misled by all the 4 and 5-star reviews I'd then subsequently seen for this, I thought Blade Song might be the exception to my UF/PNR rule... and no. Absolutely not. Not by a long shot. The few, creative things I liked about it in the beginning pages were soon abandoned to the mess that is the rest of this cliched and poorly-executed book.
What I Liked:
-new kind of supernatural being - the aneira - warrior women with magical abilities, aka amazons -new ideas on typical vampire mythology -lose more and more of their soul as they age, feed on humans for blood, but also emotions they have lost as a result - a POC for a love-interest (too bad his actual personality is as nails on a chalkboard. For 250 pages.)
What I Hated Did Not Like:
Okay, seriously, I'll go through a few of my many, many issues with this book. It made me too angry to go through them all, and I have many other books I'd like to read, so here's the short rundown.
For a novel that started so strongly, Blade Song devolves fairly quickly. A lot of my problems with this first in a series stem from the weak main character of Kitasa herself. She's just so incredibly brainless, thoughtless, heedless. For the ENTIRE NOVEL. Also, for a half-amazon assassin, this is a pretty worthless fighter. She's always fainting, passing out, or just plain needing to be rescued. Where is the strong warrior character I was promised? Cause she for sure never showed up past chapter two. Instead, I got a weak-willed pushover who confuses a controlling asshole for a worthy love interest. Kit is much more a weak-willed damsel in distress waiting for her man to come save her. No. Just.. no. Especially when I was promised an active, capable heroine. Not cool.
Damon is an asshole, and I hated him from start to end. Though spared from his POVs (thank you!), his actions and disalogues with/to Kit show him to be a Bad Idea. Alpha males are far from my favorite type of love interest, and here is no exception. For about 90% of the novel, he's abusive, or controlling,or just plain rude. His abrupt switch from unagreeable aggressor to lovaaah is just too quick, foundation-less, and unbelievable. You don't get to "wring [Kit's] neck" black and blue, and then oh-so-love her a week later, with all forgiven. No. I'm sorry. I don't buy that. You don't spy on her texts and control her actions and then get to be the hero over and over. Bad Damon, very bad.
This was a big miss and a huge disappointment for me; I was prepared to and really wanted to love it, based on the reviews I read from trusted friends. It just wasn't meant to be, for me. The few good ideas were easily and quickly glossed over in favor of typical and standard genre fare - power games, a human(ish) woman caught between a powerful vampire and a powerful weresomething in an human/supernaturally incorporated city - and Blade Song never delivered on its promise of a fun, smart, deadly Amazon assassin. Simplistic, cliched, with flat and unlikeable characters, I won't be continuing this series with Night Blade, the second book due out sometime in the near future.
If you're morbidly curious or wish to try out Kit's special blend of stupid and reckless for yourself, the good news is that Blade Song will only set you back about $5 to read. Just be warned: may induce feelings of incredible frustration and severe disappointment....more
My first -- and far from last -- Richelle Mead novel, Gameboard of the Gods could not have bRead This Review & More Like It On My Blog
4.5 out of 5
My first -- and far from last -- Richelle Mead novel, Gameboard of the Gods could not have been a better or more fun introduction to this popular author. A mix of futuristic science fiction, mystery, old school mythology, dystopia and post-apocalyptic genres, this book is weird and odd, and above all, really, really good. It takes a while to build into the tour de force of awesome it is, but the slow start is more than worth the time and wait. Gameboard of the Gods is creative, fast-paced, full of action and just plain fun. As the first in a new series, it's a promising beginning and one that leaves the reader eagerly anticipating what else Mead will cook up next for her adaptable protagonists.
The first hundred pages present the hardest challenge - there are a lot of terms, ideas thrown around and this is an author that doesn't believe an infodump of explanations are the way to immerse her readers into a new world. Rather, Mead doesn't immediately lay out her worldbuilding, but slowly reveals it through the characters' dialogue, actions, and inner monologues. And this created world, post-"Decline" - is a fascinating, thoroughly original one. There are still some gray areas left in how the Republic of United North America formed and operates, but with the first in the series, a remarkable amount of information is subtly dispensed to the audience. I have faith and the patience to see how Mead further carries the ideas she's laid the foundation for here with the sequels that are forthcoming.
Character-wise, this book is just as strong as it is in writing and plotting. Lead characters Mae and Justin complement each other very well, despite (or maybe because of) their many differences. They have palpable chemistry, and a complicated relationship that evolves just as much as the two of them do individually. Tjeir interplay and banter are consistently top-notch. I loved the typical-role reversal between the two as well. Usually it's a strong man protecting a brilliant woman, but Mae is the muscle (and has her fair share of brains), with Justin relying on her to protect them as they race to solve a mystery that tests everything both of them have been raised to believe.
If you like a well-crafted mystery, with two likeable and flawed protagonists (with intense chemistry), or if you like mythology with a fresh spin, or if you like well-done and thought-out dystopias with a side of post-apocalyptic world-building, Gameboard of the Gods is your newest best book friend. Great action scenes, a clever mystery and two great characters make this a very involving and compelling book. If this is how the series begins, I am very curious to see what happens next for the praetorian and the servitor. I only hope the next book isn't too long in coming!...more
I think it's fair to say I hated this book. A lot. For a variety of reasons.
High hopes and huge disappointments - What are my two key emotions for this odd, disjointed and often off-putting supernatural endeavor called Drain You, Alex? It all sounds so good at first glance - a unique, quirky protagonist, evil vampires, a humorous and dry tone - but none, none of that lives up to expectations. The title is the most appropriate thing about the whole book: I felt the will to read drain out of me the more pages I turned. The "humor" here wasn't funny, the main character is one of the most unlikeable people I've ever had the misfortune to have to read about, there was no real presence of any tension in the novel, and the "plot" is MIA for the majority of the novel. It's a mess, and not a fun one.
If you don't like main character Quinlan, chances are high you are not going to like the rest of what Drain You has to offer. I hated Quinn. Hated, hated, hated, like I haven't disliked a fictional being in a loooong, long time. She's self-centered, selfish, rude, annoying, stupid, ungrateful, unthinking... I could go on and on with what's wrong with Quinn and her "characterization". Pages of my reading notes for this book are littered with things like: "WHAT did she just say?" "Why does she treat everyone around her like shit?" "Why am I supposed to care for a character that doesn't have the decency to warn other people when she is putting their lives and their entire families' lives!, in mortal danger?
And what else do I hate in YA novels besides dumb, superficial female protagonists? Instalove, and with a murderous, mysterious vampire! (How original! I've never read anotherYA paranormal book/series like that!) Be warned: Drain You has that hackneyed romantic element in spades. Quinn is astonishingly like the hated Bella in regards to her undead lover: they both consider their lives as "meaningless" when separated from their vampire boyfriends (in Quinn's case this is after knowing James less than three weeks' time. And her life is "meaningless" without him? GET A GRIP), they both fail to understand the danger of what they're involved in, they're both flat and dull girls who don't really know what they're getting into. Quinn is Bella - just with a "punk" twist and a much more liberal wardrobe. She even has the normal human boys that just can't help but fall in love with her! (and that she summarily rejects, uses, rejects, and then uses again. It's gross.)
Despite the (or maybe as a direct result of) complete lack of tension or suspense in the novel, I was majorly, majorly underwhelmed by both the final conflict and the denouement shown here. Maybe that's a direct result of the lack of plot, or antagonist presence but the end of the novel is flatter than the cardboard Quinn was made from. Either/or, it could go both ways because really neither the plot nor the villains play much into the storyline. The bulk of this disjointed, choppy narrative is devoted purely to all angst and emo and melodrama about how lonely and bored and cool poor little Quinn is, when really all she is is insufferable. Even when she is the direct cause of ALL THE PROBLEMS she faces with Morgan, Naomi. Whit and James, Quinn feels the most for...herself, takes no responsibility or ownership over the danger she puts everyone in. Not once. Fuck, I hated this character. GTFO.
Drain You was an entirely underwhelming disappointment, one I wish I had DNF'd halfway through. If I could tell past-Jessie "it doesn't get any better, any funnier, any cleverer" I would've set this down after Quinn decides two stalker-y nightwalks with a creepy, blood-covered boy constitute the beginning of a good relationship. No. Just no. Lots of potential, extremely poor execution is the final verdict on the mess that is Drain You.
A thoroughly satisfying mix of history, the paranormal, with a dash of romance to flavor, The Shadowy Horses does not disappoint. A bit more romance-orientated than my previous read by this author (Mariana), I can still easily endorse Susanna Kearsley as fast becoming one of my favorite authors; one that is adept at creating a wide array of individual characters, as well as intricately setting up an atmospheric read. She delivers every time, and this is no exception. If I was impressed after reading Mariana, I am entering full-on fan mode after finishing this offering from Kearsley in less than a day. Taking on the well-known mystery and search for the Roman Ninth Legion in Scotland, I was hooked early on. I simply could not put The Shadowy Horses down, but was conversely reluctant to finish once I was firmly engrossed in the novel.
Kearlsey's descriptive (and it is very descriptive - from the countryside to the "not-posh" sitting room, Kearlsey crafts an easily imagined setting) and detailed style is present and used with a dab hand from the first chapter, to the benefit of both the locale and for the wide array of characters on the page. Both suspenseful and engrossing, each aspect of the novel, from the mystery to the romance to the supernatural, were all summarily well-handled and solid, with none detracting from the streamlined plot. These were characters who came alive for me as a reader, all with varying degress of characterization, as well as ones who made me care about each of them. This is a dynamic cast, with each character fully distinct, and, by and large, even with psychometric/psychic Robbie, one that doesn't strain credulity or irritate the reader. I do wish there had just slightly more of an antagonistic presence for most of the novel, but the minor conflicts and issues that were there, were enough to create increasing tension throughout the story.
The first person POV of protagonist Verity Grey makes it easy to root for her through her struggles to accept what is going on in Eyemouth; her inner monologue reinforces the first impression of an impulsive, smart, and very independent woman who can more than handle herself. The strength of the novel, much like with Mariana, lies with main character Verity. The other elements of the novel are well-done and unique, but it is Verity who takes the cake (with some help from an accent Scotsman with a love of history!), and who will stick out in my memory. I appreciated the restraint with which the author took to the romance - it's a large part of the novel, but it doesn't drown the plot in melodrama or too much of a love triangle.
The final conflict (and revelation of the antagonist) was a bit dry (ha!), but a nicely rounded denouement makes up for that slight misstep. Though Mariana will remain my favorite Kearsley (for now!), I loved The Shadowy Horses and think that this is an author that continues to impress and grow as a writer. This is an author who is very talented with crafting believable characters, with creating an atmospheric setting, and with making the past come to life. Well done and I can't wait for my next Kearsley read!...more
I did it: I finished this loooooong, dry book full of flat characters, endless repetition and tons of oRead This Review & More Like It On My Blog!
I did it: I finished this loooooong, dry book full of flat characters, endless repetition and tons of of the hated "showing not telling" way of expanding the history. Though my experience with round two of this "straynge band of mysfits" was sliiiightly better than with its predecessor The Girl in the Steel Corset, I want to express this loudly and clearly: This series is not a good example of steampunk. Also, why I am just griping: whyyy the random, painful bastardization of "strange band of misfits"? (SPOILER for first in the series) If you've read book one, you know that "Jayne" is not in fact Finley's surname, nor does she go by it at all during this novel... So enough with the strange application of "y"'s. A lot of my issues from the first are present oce again here: Finley herself continued to be a bit of a disappointment and an erratic and brainless main character, continuing my lack of enthusiasm for her, most of the background characters remain flat and one-dimensional, and the villain/twist is telegraphed very early on in the book. This review might get a little long and spoilery, or even a lot, so keep your eyes elsewhere unless that's what you want.
Things I Am Vastly Tired Of Reading About In The Steampunk Chronicles:
Emily's "ropey" hair (what does that even mean? Dreadlocks? Braids?)
any kind of overwrought love triangle (Jasper-Mei-Emily or Jasper-Mei-Wildcat - either/or - no, thank you)
Sam surliness/moodiness (less of an obvious page-to-page problem than in book one, but still not redeemable)
How Finley's drawn to the darker side of life (it's been two books, countless examples [Felix, Jack, fights, Dalton] and something like 800+ pages - we get it already!)
Finley's worries about being worthy for a Duke (I'm pretty sure the boy that can be ~one~ with the Aether doesn't care about society, given that he already lives unsupervised with two young women of not exactly sterling repuation)
Griffin's "I-trust-you-now-I-don't" wishywashy bullshit with Finley + worrying over whether he is exciting enough for the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde-ian girl he loves likes (Have some self-respect, dude.)
Anything involving the word Organites (including Darwin and this books misuse of his theories on evolution)
I think some of the problem with this series is that it wants to be X-Men but with a steampunk background. On the surface it seems to sort-of/maybe fit the mold cast by Charles Xavier and his motley crew: there are a bunch of mutated kids with special abilities like super strength and speed and healing, the ability to talk to machines, dual natures, etc. that all live together in a big mansion, owned by a family with a lot of money. But such a comparison starts to fall apart upon closer inspection - most aspects of this historical steampunk young-adult novel are rather run-of-the-mill and cliched, easy to find in slightly different forms all over the paranormal teen novel market.
Though this takes place merely a fortnight after the events of the first book, a lot of the superficial details have changed, including the cast of characters. At first I was, well, not really excited, but less apprehensive to start this based on the cover. For one - it's not a generic, whitewashed cover. Mei is an important part of the plot - in fact the whole book falls apart without her participation - and I'm really happy that an Asian young woman was selected to show and advertise for ya novel. But there's always a but, and here is no exception. Mei is a new character and her race makes her stand out in this largely English cast, but I'm bothered and disappointed that the author chose to name her "Mei Xing." As in the word "Amazing" - how awkward and shallow of a choice! But that was just the first of many character issues I found here. I also wish there had been more subtlety with her role in the plot (subtlety from the woman who named her main male character/love interest Griffin King? My bad) - while I wasn't sure at first, it's rapidly apparent what's going on. A lot little more authorial sleight of hand would make the unraveling of the plot and characters much more engrossing to read.
Main character Finley has been a problem from me since early on in the first chapter of The Girl in the Steel Corset and sadly, she is no better here in round two. Her previous problem of acting brainlessly and without thought for repercussion shows up early and often but good ol' Fin now drags her friend Emily into her messes. I know that the big 'deal' with Finley is constantly-battling dual nature, but the author's depiction of her lead's Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde-type tendencies is really over the top here. She's supposed to dance on the fence of morality and legality, but considering backhanding another girl for a look? That's extreme and just makes Finley look like a judgmental and unhinged maniac - not a fiercely protective and loving friend, which is I think what the author was trying to impart? I may have missed the finer point of it because Finley was devolving into an autocratic violence machine.
Once again I felt there was a superfluous amount of POVs used here - just like I thought for the first book; Finley's alone would be sufficient if grating on my nerves. So much of the text feels like repetition - even if it's Finley, or Jasper or Griff, they all think along the same lines. I mean, Jasper explains and re-explains his plans to hide a device multiple times. It gets old, quick. It must be said that Jasper's voice is the most identifiable, but that's largely because of his affected and annoying accent. (Also? Being from San Francisco and wearing a ten-gallon hat does not make one a cowboy. OK?) The lack of Jack Dandy is lamentable, but at least the love triangle tension and drama was slightly scaled down as well. The charming but fake Cockney crime lord is one of my few liked characters, even if Griff is slowly climbing his way up in my estimations to give him a run.
In the end, I'd have to say that The Girl in the Clockwork Collar is ultimately just as energy-sapping and time-consuming as its immediate predecessor. It's also just as frustrating to slough through for over 400 pages. It feels amateurish, characters haven't grown or evolved, there's too much focus on fripperies instead of potential awesomeness, and infodumps and love triangles run rampant. There seems to be some love-connection type resolution for Finley and Griff (until she gets back to London and Jack...) as well as the main storyline. With a rushed ending that was over veeery quickly, I can't say I'm sad to say "goodbye!" to this series - for forever - even if there's a book three. ...more
It's a rather large understatement to say I had high expectations for Daughter of Smoke and Bone. It was - and still is - pretty ubiquitous and lauded everywhere you find it mentioned. I was so keen on reading this novel I preordered it. I rarely preorder anything; bookbuying before seeing/touching the actual novel is one of the few area I can exercise some patience in. For example, the last book I preordered was George R. R. Martin's A Dance With Dragons after nearly six years of anticipation. But, lo and behold, even before the promised release date of September 27, a beautiful copy of Daughter of Smoke and Bone appeared on my doorstep. I devoured it in two days, only stopping because of a headache so bad I literally couldn't see straight. Laini Taylor's amazing novel more than met my high hopes: she exceeded them in every way. It's a novel that delights and entertains, neither stinting on the drama and humor nor on acutely attractive brooding male characters.
It's hard to review something you love - I've had trouble reviewing this as well as The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, The Book of Blood and Shadow by Robin Wasserman and Kate Morton's epic The Distant Hours. I sat on this particular review for over a week trying to analyze how I felt about it and how to express my opinions other than just fangirl squeeling ("Oh my god, I wish I was Karou. Oh, My. GOD. Akiva.<33," etc). When you love a book, it's personal in a way few things are: you want everyone else to love it unconditionally, too, and hiss at any detractors. While Daughter is not the end-all be-all my review might sound like, it is one of my top favorite reads of the year/all-time. From the tagline "Once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love. It did not end well," alone I knew I was in for an epic star-crossed love affair and had faith that Laini Taylor would handle it with aplomb and not melodrama. I highly recommend this to anyone looking for a fresh read with unique elements, and note as well this is a young-adult novel that is certainly not just for young-adults.
Daughter is not a paranormal romance. Daughter is not an urban fantasy. Daughter is not a fantasy. Daughter is not a coming-of-age young adult novel with significant supernatural elements. Or rather - it is not just one of those genres individually. It is a marvelous and utterly unique mix of all four. It's the story of Karou, a blue haired, tattooed, lonely artist in Prague. A girl that "moved like a poem and smiled like a sphinx," and an utterly striking protagonist. Though clearly 'special' Karou is a magnetic character and one I like immediately without reserve. She's funny, human in the most defining sense of the word and not above a little petty revenge against those who need it. Surrounded by a cheeky best friend, the "master of the eyebrow arch" Zuzanna and her strange (more on that later) family, Karou manages to come across as a lonely and very alone young woman trying to balance a hidden demanding supernatural life with human problems like exyboyfriends, though without straying into self-pity. As the mysteries pile up around the young artist, I felt questions piling up in my head, wondering if the author would pull of answering all of them to my satisfaction: who is Karou? What is Karou? Where did she come from, and where/who are her parents? And like most reviews note: what exactly is up with the creepyass teeth?! While I thought the mystery went on too long at the time, the pacing and reveal feel absolutely perfect when they are - finally - uncovered. I should never have doubted.
The secondary characters are also mysterious, powerful... and above all, different. Hinted at in the tagline, Karou's adopted family is firmly in the "devil" camp - though the correct name is chimaera and one and all, from the snakelike Issa to the giraffe-necked Twiga, are never anything less than kind to the bluehaired waif they raised. I enjoyed the "humanness" Laini Taylor brought for her monsters. No side is black and white in this eternal way between angels and devils, and I thoroughly appreciate the 'human' monsters/crazed angels over a more black/white/ absolute scenario. Karou runs messages for Brimstone, a mysterious chimaera collector of teeth and granter of wishes - which allows her to eventually run into the angel foretold: the sexy and dangerous Akiva. A beautiful and forbidding seraphim sworn to fight the chimaera, Akiva sells his brooding mysteriousness and past pain without overplaying it. It took me a while to buy into more than his obvious superficial appeal, but the haunting backstory added a layer of depth to his personality. His looong life is a nice foil for Karou's shorter mostly conflict free existence of whim.Their chemistry is palpable and sizzling: one of the more exciting YA romances I can think of, honestly. (Wow, this is still waaaay fangirlly. It's just that good.)
More love: Laini's writing. Not only is it lyrical and poetic, but she manages to personalize everyone and everything - often with a dab hand at humor or image. Like Zuzanna'a master eyebrow mastery perfectly creates a sardonic, but caring face. Zuzana bursts with flair and personality: all the fun isn't reserved for lead role Karou. And the sparkle is not just reserved for the people: the setting benefits from the author's talent as well. Prague. Oh my godPrague. Between this and Wasserman's addicting The Book of Blood and Shadow I'd say this has rocketed to the top of my "Cities I MUST Visit in Europe" list. From poetic and vibrant passages like this,
"The streets of Prague were a fantasia scarcely touched by the twenty-first century - or the twentieth or nineteenth, for that matter. It was a city of alchemists and dreams, its medieval cobbles once trod by golems, mystics, invading armies."
to the day-to-day life of Karou, I was struck again and again by Ms. Taylor's narrative, consistently in love with the vibrant prose and the very-much-alive city it gave birth to. I loved the beautiful, not purple, prose, which consistently evoked colorful imagery of the setting, the characters, and the amazing world (in, within, around Prague) that wordsmith Laini Taylor has crafted. In a vibrant city of such history - and supernatural myths too of foundation by a witch - Laini Taylor breathes fresh life into old themes of forbidden love, fallen angels, and even the battle between good/evil/Heaven/Hell.
My few, teensy complaints: the "big reveal" to Zuzanna wasn't. It was offscreen and almost hastily brushed aside with a demonstration - and I wished for more time with the diminutive Czech scenestealer. I also felt that Karou and Akiva had a teensy bit of an instalove situation a la Twilight, but that fear was happily quashed. SPOILER AHEAD, please do not read if you've yet to get your hands on a copy. Seriously it's the next sentence. I also worry that the Karou I liked so much, identified with so closely - might "disappear" due tothe big twist/revelation near the end. I worry that the essential "Karouness" will be lost and I'll feel different about her in the second book. I hope not and have almost every faith Laini Taylor will not steer me wrong.
The story is striking and imaginative and unforgettable. Daughter of Smoke and Bone is a genre-blending exercise of win, unlike anything I have read. It's a new, charismatic spin on the angel/devil/seraphim/nephilim/chimaera theme, populated with real characters with actual personalities - relayed by dialogue and deed rather than an infodump. I loved the nicely tuned balance of action and wit, drama with imagination and wordbuilding on a grand-scale. When's book two out? I cannot and hope not to wait long for another installment in this spellbinding world....more
I struggled mightily with this book. I liked the idea for the story (descendants of the Olympian Gods hRead This Review & More Like It On My Blog!
I struggled mightily with this book. I liked the idea for the story (descendants of the Olympian Gods have a hidden, secret Empire in present day and also vampires, werewolves, etc). However, it was a good idea poorly executed in many parts of this looong book.
Coming in at 662 pages, this is far from the longest book I've read this year. However, I feel like I was counting every single one of those six hundred odd pages; it literally sapped my strength to finish this book. Why? Well, my first issue was the pacing. Incredibly, ridiculously slow and filled with little real content. The beginning suffers the most from the meandering pace, and thus made it hard for me to connect to the characters or to be invested in the outcomes for Delia, Evan, Beth, Niko and Victor.
Additionally, the writing itself seemed very awkward and stilted at times. It simply didn't flow the way a novel should; there were abrupt transitions and awkward dialogue and exposition many times in the pages. Also, THE GRAMMAR. Abysmal. Truly, truly abysmal. I am aware this is a self-published author so she may not have the same resources, but it was truly egregious. "There" for "their/they're" many, many times, "here" instead of "hear", not correctly using quotation marks, or not even using them at all, among other offenses. The amount of editing errors were very distracting from the story and also just plain aggravating after a while.
Delia is the main character of Betrayal, a descendant of Zeus and soon-to-be Empress of the gods remaining Empire. She is not original, there is very little to differentiate Cordelia from thousands of teenage protagonists in YA paranormal fiction. Delia is a distant and aloof character, both with the remaining cast and with the reader. She's hard to sympathize/empathize with, and tends to keep everyone in the book at arms length. She is more likable as the novel progresses, but continued to be a source of frustration for me. She's meekly accepting when she should be demanding and questioning. She relies on others to protect her constantly, never once taking an imitative to defend herself, and often flouts the protection that is extended to her. I know the author was striving to make Delia appear independent and determined, but she ends up more careless and self-centered. She has genuine chemistry with her love interest, Evander the descendant of Poseidon, and therefore, the second most powerful descendant besides herself. Evan himself and the centaur Nikolas are probably the only characters I came to care about throughout the course of the novel. However, Evan does seem a bit too perfect.
Evan's younger sister, Bethany, was one of my least favorite characters this year in any novel. She's a very unfriendly character and fails to connect with anyone in the book besides her brother and her lover. I found her actions and attitude toward her "best friend" Delia to be completely perplexing and rude. She was a veeeery grating character; demanding when she should be helping, controlling instead of supportive. She's ridiculously inconstant and secretive, only showing a softer side to her love, Niko.
All in all, this was a very mixed effort. I really, really wanted to love this book and in the end, all I feel is underwhelmed and relief that I managed to finish. ...more
Every Day is another remarkable novel from a very talented and thankfully prolific author.Read This Review & More Like It On My Blog!
4.25 out of 5
Every Day is another remarkable novel from a very talented and thankfully prolific author. Just when I start to feel again that YA sticks to and retreads the same trends, ideas, themes, constantly, Mr. Levithan publishes such a starkly original and thoroughly readable novel. Unlike anything else I've read (though I can see slight shades of both The Time Traveler's Wife and Quantum Leap in components of Every Day), this is a thought-provoking and emotional novel that stands firmly on its own two feet. Levithan has proved himself as more than capable of creating unique scenarios, coupled with compelling characters, along with completely original plots and themes, and he is at his best here with this latest, engrossing novel. While Every Day may not be perfect - the ending and a few other issues I had preclude me from anything higher than that 4.25 - I absolutely loved reading this novel every chance I got to sit down and devour it.
This is a novel that made me feel, that made me really think about life, love, and relationships. Those kinds of books are rare -especially in a genre that, unfortunately, tends to romanticize alpha males and submissive female characters - and I appreciate Every Day all the more for its fresh take on love, gender, religion, and even society. It is centered more on love and a relationship than anything else - A's drive to see Rhiannon and make it work drives the narrative - but it's not cloying or saccharine. I didn't read his instant connection with her as instalove - more as a desperate need to connect with somebody, anybody, who might be able to accept him as he was.While the social commentary aspect is prevalent throughout the short-ish 336 page length, it can come across as occasionally heavy-handed (and is one of the very few reasons this book is not a 5-star read for me). But, happily, for the most part it's meshed within the overall plot quite well and with aplomb. A may not be perfect and occasionally judgmental and preachy, and his/her views are certainly their own, but this starkly original journey through grief, first love, loneliness is one that will resonate with many, many readers.
Once again, Levithan exhibits the same talents I have come to expect and treasure from such an able writer. No one else can write like he can. If I could, I would quote from nearly every chapter in this touching novel. Levithan is that good. Every Day is alternatively bittersweet, creepy, aching, interesting, and compelling. For once, this is a book where the execution of the book itself matches the high level of the idea behind the plot. With Levithan's beautiful, thoroughly readable way with words leading the way, the novel's wandering through philosophical questions about life, identity, human nature are explored maturely and with appropriate emotion. Under a different hand, Every Day could have easily been an overwrought, melodramatic angsty mess, but it never is. What it is, is a wholly genuine and wonderful book that explores so many of the prevalent issues that kids of this age have to deal with.
Every Day is a book about possibilities. It's not one for definitive answers or for totally complete resolutions. If you as a reader can suspend your disbelief enough to buy into the premise - a body jumping "person" - then the rest of this lovely novel will be an evocative treat. Give this one a chance - I highly doubt you will be sorry that you did.
"I don't have the heart to tell him that's the wrong way to think about the world. There will always be more questions. Every answer leads to more questions. The only way to survive is to let some of them go."
"If you stare at the center of the universe, there is a coldness there. A blankness. Ultimately, the universe doesn't care about us. Time doesn't care about us. That's why we have to care about each other."
I loved this book from the start. It is good. No, it's great. It's Gothic and sassy and funRead This Review & More Like It On My Blog!
4.5 out of 5
I loved this book from the start. It is good. No, it's great. It's Gothic and sassy and funny and clever and thisclose to being perfect. I love it to pieces. I stayed up til nearly one in the morning to finish it, on a night where I had to get up at 4 the next morning. If that isn't a clear enough picture of how thoroughly entertaining and engrossing this gem of a book is, I don't know what to tell you. A surefire winner. Unspoken is unique, it's fun, it's populated with amazingly real, fleshed out characters operating with a strong plot about magic, and secrets, and history. It's a breath of fresh air in a genre that tends to stick to the same ideas and themes and plots. Even when Unspoken does veer into well-tread territory for YA, it ends up being the exception to the rule. The first novel I've ever read from Irish young-adult author Sarah Rees Brennan, it left me eager for more and unwilling to close the cover. The first in a new Gothic and paranormal series, despite a few flaws and missteps, the premier novel in the Lynburn Legacy sets a high bar for any of the other novels to live up to. It can be creepy, genuinely funny, and completely real - all often on the same page. A promising start to begin a new trilogy, I finished this impressed and anxious for more. This was my first Brennan, but it most definitely won't be my last.
It's always a pleasure when an author takes the time to create and develop a character with as much depth and personality as Kami Glass. It's easy to self-identify with can-do and hilarious Kami (even if I recognize I lack her original and hilarious way with words): she's a strong character with wants and desires all her own, she isn't defined by who she likes, but what she does, and she grows and learns as she works her way to the bottom of the twisty mystery and aura around the feared Lynburns. Diversity and wit are another two things sorely lacking in a lot of novels geared towards a young-adult audience, but that is not the case here. Kami's Japanese heritage is important to her, and the slight xenophobia shown towards her in her firmly English village help reinforce her uniqueness. I just loved Kami and reading about her. Even with the third person POV distancing her a bit from the audience, this is a perfect example of a well-written, realistic, concrete character. There were so many quotes from this girl that I either laughed at, or giggled at, or just plain amused me. Kami is one character that will stick out in my memory as wonderfully executed and developed.
Kami isn't the only standout character from Unspoken, amazingly enough. The secondary cast of characters are also distinct and well characterized. Kami's hilarious dad takes the award for second-funniest, but really, from sleepy, world-hating best friend Angela to creepy, remote Rosalind, this is a novel with a strong core of characters that all pop from the page. Even when I didn't like certain characters (Ash, etc.) I could appreciate the variety and originality they brought to the novel. Not just in tune with her friends, I loved the interactions of Kami's family - they aren't set pieces created for Kami to gloss over, but important and meaningful parts of her everyday life. Her mother is especially important to the plot of the novel, and the stumbles in the relationship between protective mom and curious Kami strike a delicate, but compelling, balance. Happily minus a lot of the tropes in YA used to get characters to operate autonomously, there are no Missing Parent Syndrome or abused/ignored/lonely kid ideas here; Brennan is too smart to fall for those overused plot devices.
The plot is strong, the dialogue pitch-perfect, and the mystery well-crafted, but there are certain sections of the novel where the tension seems to flag as the kids uncover more and more clues without any meaningful revelations. I didn't mind overmuch, because when the atmosphere matters, it's done well... and I always enjoyed the side trips and adventures Kami cooked up for her friends to get into. It cannot be denied that Unspoken is an entertaining and engrossing novel. The Lynburn family, once they come into play a bit more, supply a lot of the tension with the unexplained acrimonious interplay between the Lynburn cousins, Ash and Jared. I am most definitely not a fan of the love triangle, but as it is used here, I found it at least palatable. Kami doesn't fall into the trap of instalove - even though she's "known" and maybe loved Jared for years before meeting him, and she doesn't bounce back and forth between the cousins just to foment melodrama instead of plot momentum.
I did have a few problems with Unspoken as I progressed through its nearly 400 page length. Most notably: the end. A lot of reviewers have been disappointed with the way and place Brennan chose to end her story, and I am certainly one of them. It's a hell of a cliffhanger, and though I don't buy Jared's final words and attitude for a minute, Brennan certainly knows how to leave her readers wanting more. The plot extends eaily to book two, but it was an abrupt end to such a slow burn mystery. I also felt that the magic aspect could use some strengthening. What is explained is interesting, but I couldn't get a firm grasp a few parts of the mythology. A little more time and paragraphs to explore those elements would've been appreciated, but there at least will be two more novels to expand on what's been laid down here in the first novel.
From even pacing to creative plot to wonderful, zing-filled dialogue, Unspoken is a book I most definitely will be buying and rereading. Carried by a complex and brave protagonist, coupled with a thoroughly well-done Gothic vibe, there is much more to love about this novel than to lament. I for one, will be counting the months until the arrival in the next book of the series. Brennan has impressed me, and I can't wait to see what she does with the foundation she has laid down. ...more
I went into this UF/PNR pretty hopeful: spunky heroine, a secret wizard organization, HurriRead This Review & More Like It On My Blog!
2.5 out of 5
I went into this UF/PNR pretty hopeful: spunky heroine, a secret wizard organization, Hurricane Katrina, and an undead sexy pirate. What's not to love, besides the Louisiana location (seriously, hasn't another paranormal series coughSookiecough dominated that locale for the last 7 years?)? Well, if you're an apparently unsatisfied reader like me, three out of those four items did not live up to expectations. DJ failed to impress me throughout her misadventures, and the much-advertised Hurricane Katrina lacked the emotional pull the author was aiming for, and this is no Harry-Potter level of wizardry. Suzanne Johnson has the large and unenviable task of setting up a series from this introductory book, and based on the "strengths" of Royal Street, I wish her much luck and patience. '
It's never a good sign when you can't even agree with the heroine on the nickname she gives herself. Drusilla Jaco prefers to go by "DJ" but in my head, she was always Dru. As in, "Dru, why are you doing that?", "Really, Dru, really?!" and "Don't you want to maybe think that through before you do it, Dru?" Dru is a deputy sentinel and is oh-so-very aware of the first word in her title. She doesn't believe in herself or her abilities and feels crippled when her mentor goes missing in the aftermath of Katrina. My problems with this novel really began with Dru: despite my chummy nickname, this is not a character I invested in, even marginally. I managed to finish this because I was powered by an interest to see how everything would wrap up, rather than a desire to see Dru grow and change as a person. She's also mind-numbingly slow to put things together - example: (view spoiler)[when her supposedly dead mentor appears to her and tells her to lie to everyone, especially the authorities, she doesn't take this as a sign of something bad. She just blithely accepts his word and goes along. (hide spoiler)]
In an ironic twist, it's not DJ, or her partner Sentinel Alexander that is the character with the most life. No that honor goes to Jean Lafitte, a pirate who is technically...dead. He's a bastard alright from the first moment he speaks, but damnit, at least he is an interesting and dynamic one. In a cast of so few, where I dislike most of the few, Jean was the one character I would root for continually. He didn't add the most to the story, but when I wanted to slap Dru for her wishywashy romantic love triangle BETWEEN COUSINS, Jean was the only tolerable part of the page. The love-triangle isn't as pronounced as some UF/PNR novels, but is fairly shameless and stupid on DJ's part. Within pages, Dru decides she doesn't want Alex, and goes on a date with his cousin Jake, only to be jealous of a girl looking at Alex while she is on the date with Jake. What? Really? At that point, I just thew up my hands and accepted that DJ was not a girl/character to whom I would ever relate.
If it was all just characterization issues with Royal Street, I could've easily seen a 3or maybe even a 3.5 rating for this novel. However, the twists and turns of the story are sadly predictable and telegraphed to the reader prematurely. I foresaw the resolutions to the main plot as well as most by plots easily and early on - I mostly continued reading to corroborate my correct guesses and see in what capacity Jean LaFitte would sidle into DJ's life. Perhaps best along with Jean, the villains of the piece are worth reading about. Unlike their cliched main character counterparts, Marie Leaveau and Baron Samedi are interesting and unpredictable for the duration of the novel. The murders committed at the heart of the mystery are semi-interesting but tend to get lost in the endlessssss searches for Gerry and the non-ending back-and-forth reporting to the Elders and waiting for a response. So much of this book is research or reporting or waiting that I got bored and would set it aside for several hours before returning to the story.
The world that Johnson has envisioned for her characters to play within is barely sketched out. It seems to be the same world as the one we actually live in (notable appearances: Louis Armstrong, Marie Laveau), but with wizards, vampires, undead, ghosts and other supernatural ilk. The wizards themselves were given a bare framework to illustrate the mechanics of the Sentinels program that was slowly fleshed out as the novel progressed. I liked the separation of talents into different spheres of influence (green congress versus red congress, etc.), though it does severely limit the possible scope of Dru's abilities. Also: (view spoiler)[ I also have to wonder why other European sentinels did not come to help with the influx of supernaturality after Hurricane Katrina. It is mentioned that American sentinels went to Europe in 1976 for the "Wizard War", so why is no help forthcoming in this apparently most drastic of times for New Orleans, with 'pretes' and historical undead just waltzing into the city? Holes like this, in the logic of the main plot of the entire novel, just distract me. I kept wondering why the author would mention a possibility to fix every thing (call them in to help with the pretes AND finding Gerry! Both plotlines wrapped up in thirty pages) and then ignore it for the rest of the book. It was...odd. (hide spoiler)]
This is the first in a series, and one I doubt I will pursue. Though my first impression formed ("I like that dead, dastardly pirate!") was one of the few favorable ones I took away from Royal Street, I believe this is a novel that will find a wide audience. Dru is far from a horrible protagonist, and some will genuinely like her wide-eyed and innocent approach to life - this is just not for me. 2/5 stars and a "no, thank you" - I will wonder what Jean LaFitte gets up to in his afterlife on Earth, but curiosity won't make me pick up book two when its out. ...more
Just.. wow. This is such a novel. I don't even have the words to articulate how rich, lovely, and special this book is. I knew I loved the first,Wow.
Just.. wow. This is such a novel. I don't even have the words to articulate how rich, lovely, and special this book is. I knew I loved the first, with its blue-haired, quirky protagonist and it's legions of monsters and angels, but this one is better.
Days of Blood and Starlight is a far cry from Daughter of Smoke and Bone, but it s a deeply magical and thoroughly unique, beautifully written piece of art.
Le sigh. This had such a great premise, but was full of very shoddy execution. The author has great ideas, but fails to fully explore or detail them tLe sigh. This had such a great premise, but was full of very shoddy execution. The author has great ideas, but fails to fully explore or detail them to the satisfaction of her readers. Weather Witch is a confusing, jumbled mess - one that could stand to lose chunks of the narrative for a more streamlined and interesting read.
The way the book was written was.. odd. Too much infodumping WHILE still not providing enough basic information? I don't know how that happened, but it did. I was wary after the first chapter, and my impression only grew worse as the narrative went on. I made it to 57% and then decided to move on. I honestly don't think I am missing out on anything - I don't care about the characters, or the plot. Delany isn't a bad writer; it's just that her style is not one I care to read. ...more
First, immediate thoughts upon finishing this quick read of a teenage paranormal novRead This Review & More Like It On My Blog!
4.25 out of 5 stars
First, immediate thoughts upon finishing this quick read of a teenage paranormal novel:
That was a lot of fun! That was original and wholly compelling, and it managed to be all that and more without a love triangle or a heroine who is too stupid to live! It can be done!
Though Transcendence inevitably hits a few bumps that keep it from being perfect, it was perfectly enjoyable and fully diverting for the few (far too short!) hours it took me to consume all 300+ pages. This was one of those all-too-hard-to-find novels that combined my desire to see how everything ended while contradictorily, not wanting to finish and end the fun. With welcome infusions of ideas and themes from some of the more underutilized mythologies (Egyptian symbols! Reincarnation!), Transcendence is unique, entertaining and compulsively readable experience. This is my first exposure to this author, but I can guarantee that it will not be the last time I read her work. I've added Omololu's YA contemporary novel, Dirty Little Secrets, to my TBR just based off of the many strengths of this novel, despite the extreme difference in the genres of the two novels, as well as initiating a countdown for the inevitable sequel to this one, Fated. I cant believe how unfair it is that I have to wait another entire year, until June of 2013!, to escape back into this exciting story.
First-person POV works really, really well here in Transcendence, for both Omololu's easy style and for the strong, believably teenage voice of Cole, the main character. Cole is a wonderfully realized character: she's smart, flawed, funny and all the more real for the care that evidently went into her development. Plus she admits Harry Potter is her favorite book, so she gets +100 for that alone. Cole is a strong character, one that is self-defined and one that wants to save herself. When she says to Griffon: "Just because I don't want to be the helpless female in his hero movie doesn't mean I want him to go," I cheered for her. Mentally. I totally did not say "hell yeah" out loud. Noo. That would be embarrassing. Anyway. Love isn't dependence, kids. Love isn't someone rescuing you and making your decisions. It is is so nice (but sadly rare) to read a teenage protagonist without that misconception; one that can accept help without being helpless or brainless. It's a fine balance but one that is well-struck here with Transcendence's Nicole. She doesn't depend on or live for a boy: this is talented, well-drawn, full-realized character and her love for music is one of the most defining aspects of her multi-faceted personality. Even just talking about music, it's obvious how much love Cole has for what she does ("My heart races as his bow glides over the strings, an unspoken communication that fills the room, replacing the air with sound and emotion." p. 51 ARC), as well as showing that this isn't a character that is defined by anyone else.
I would be remiss if I didn't mention the infinite kudos deserved by this author for the variance of races among her secondary cast. White-washing is a horrid, horrid trendin young-adult book publishing, one that needs to stop. Griffon is an African-American (and is shown on the cover too!), and there are other characters that aren't uniformly Caucasian or European that actually participate in the novel. I wish Gabi had played a bit more into the events of the novel, but an Indian close friend and a black love interest is a lot more diversity than most books ever do. It's obvious early on that is author isn't interested in doing what others are: her vision for her novel is unique and fresh and that's how it reads, from plot to themes to characters themselves. I mean, at just first glance, this book contains: Egyptian mythology, a racially diverse cast, an aware and self-confident protagonist, no instalove, no random girl-on-girl hate, AND no love triangle? It's refreshing and it's over all too soon. Other authors: please take note. I want more of ALL THIS.
The idea of reincarnation is not one I've seen too often in this particular genre, so straight off the bat Omololu gets major points for her originality. YA paranormals tend to stick more toward the vampires, werewolves and ghosts of the supernatural spectrum; the only other novel I can recall that focuses on immortality without those genre staples was Avery Williams's short but fun The Alchemy of Forever. Both Alchemy and Transcendence use their originality and fresh perspectives to their favor; this never has the echoes of "been there, done that" storylines that so many other YA novels often do contain. I mean, really: how long can we read about the ordinary, beautiful-but-unaware of it mortal girl in the thrall of a vampire? Using such a fresh concept like essence transition really does make Transcendence stand out. Omololu isn't afraid to face the questions at the core of her characters' soul transmigrations - when one can remember lives upon lives for hundreds of years, what do you take with you to each new experience? Love? Guilt? Intelligence? Responsibility? Revenge? How can you justify a romantic relationship between someone who's aware of his hundreds of years of life and someone who only has 17 to recall? It certainly feels a little squicky at the outset, but all is not as it seems. And, CJ Omololu actually takes the time to explore and answer these questions, all nearly to satisfaction.
As for the romance, I admit I was veeery hesitant and wary of where that could go with Cole and her love interest, Griffon. Clearly with the theme of reincarnation, a lot of writers would go for the star-crossed instalove connection. It almost begs for it with a set up like a time-slip novel - a love out of time is a romantic idea and one that understandably holds appeal to a variety of audiences. However, Omololu doesn't go that route, skipping immediately down Romance Avenue and happily-ever-afters. Wonder of wonders, this is an author that takes time, care and detail into crafting a real, believable connection between the two "teens", one that is not wholly based on who they were before, but on who they are now in the present. Their romance is sweet, frustrating and above all - credible. No instalove here just a relationship that slowly blooms into a natural and endearing partnership. Love in all its forms is shown throughout the novel, actually, and this is one of the few YAs that takes the time and effort to feature a functional, if not traditional, family life. The mom may be the most one-dimensional character of the whole novel (and brought back unfavorable echoes of Diana in Virtuosity) but even she grows and changes a bit over the book.
I enjoyed a lot about this, but it is not without faults. The plot can be weak in certain sections of the novel, some twists and turns of the plot feel and can come across as very contrived, and one of my least favorite plot devices, the "I have a super-sekrit, dangerous plan I can tell NO ONE about" comes out to play late in the course of the book. I wish the plot had a been a bit stronger, but my enjoyment of the characters, the mythology, and Cole's inner monologue keep the deficit from being a glaring issue. These are minor complaints in the shadow of all the AWESOME that is in play for this book - they detract but a little, and I still feel all fangirly about Transcendence. With several big twists I really did NOT see coming and more late-in-the-game open-ended questions than answers, Transcendence leaves the door wide open for its sequel without sacrificing satisfaction for the readers and fans of the first.
Though Fated is more than a year away (nooo) and I can see the love-triangle brewing with a vengeance (nooo!), I can't wait to get back to this uniquely paranormal series, and these delightful, rounded characters. If you're looking for an engrossing, easily readable YA with lots of action and a hint of mystery, look no further....more
Welcome to a London come alive with voice-eating spiders, mirror-dwelling aristocrats, and talking lighRead This Review & More Like It On My Blog!
Welcome to a London come alive with voice-eating spiders, mirror-dwelling aristocrats, and talking lights that literally dance upon the streets. A London where Gods and Goddesses walk the roads unnoticed by the normal human population, and fight one another for preeminence and control over their decaying world. Welcome to Tom Pollock's The City's Son, a novel that redefines both the 'urban' and 'fantasy' in the urban fantasy genre; a novel that brings a whole new meaning to the idea of place-as-character. Though the beginning can be hard to understand and uneven, the reward is outstanding. A fast-paced and action-packed novel packed to the brim with unique, strange, and thoroughly charismatic characters, the first novel in the Skyscraper Throne series is a whole lot of win.
Beautifully written and extensively detailed, there is no area of London that Pollock has not re-envisioned and changed -- for the stranger. Through the eyes of the two main characters - human Beth and Son of the Streets Filius Viae, Pollock takes the reader on a thoroughly original and weird (the kind of weird I tend to expect from China Mieville) journey to self-realization, personal power, and more. Though I am not usually a fan of POV shifts from third-person limited to first person during narrator changes, it works here for Beth and the Urchin Prince. Beth is outside the city; Fil is literally part of it and how they spin their inner monologues help to illustrate that point. Both characters have their individual strengths and weaknesses, but it is the feisty, charismatic, damaged, and fully concrete character of Beth that is the strength of this novel.
The characters here are on par with the talent and time spent setting the scene and creating the original plot. Beth is a wholly rounded and concrete girl. She's realistically flawed, even in a book that suspends disbelief so well. She is feisty, and smart, and loyal, if not always right in her judgements. I have a lot of respect for Beth and the character evolution she goes through during this long but easily read novel. Filius is likeable if unknowable - he's as unique a character as this version of London. Part street rat, part teenage boy, and all heart - the relationship between the two matures organically and best of all, slowly. If I have one issue, I had hoped that Parva's storyline with the teacher would've had a more firm resolution, but she stands strong as a secondary character with motivations and aspirations all her own.
There is just so much creativity and imagination at work in The City's Son, and it can be a lot to take in, especially initially. The author drops the reader into his darkly, dirtily magical world without exposition or infodump.The sheer scope of the world that Pollock has created for his characters to operate in is expansive and all encompassing, from the made-of-trash Gutterglass who operates as a seneschal for the missing Lady of the Streets, to the war between the Sodiumite glass girls and the Blankleit clans, to the train battles between Bahngeists. Like I said, this is an author that brings the city of London to life - literally - it's place as character on a whole new level.
I loved this novel. Though it is one of the longer books I've read lately, it holds up admirably under the weight of all those pages, and plots, and schemes. With an imagination as big as London itself, Tom Pollock renders a finely-tuned and thoroughly evocative novel aimed for readers of all ages. Fans of urban fantasy should take note and give this weirdly awesome and awesomely weird novel a chance. You won't regret giving The City's Son a chance. I eagerly await he second novel, The Glass Republic -- it definitely can't come out soon enough....more
I LOVE THIS BOOK! I normally try to refrain from all-caps declarations of love (exception: Christian BaRead This Review & More Like It On My Blog!
I LOVE THIS BOOK! I normally try to refrain from all-caps declarations of love (exception: Christian Bale), but it is unavoidable and White Cat is worthy of them. This was a quick read but I had so much fun with Cassel that I immediately bought book two, Red Glove, literally right after I finished the final page of this. It's addictive - an all-male POV ya novel that's entirely credible and authentic in its voice, set amid a unique and compelling plotline within a magically-infused world. Fast-moving and nearly unputdownable, this is the book newcomers should try for this author. After starting and DNFing the first Spiderwick novel early last year, I was nowhere close to expecting the level of reaction that White Cat caused within me - this is one that has rocketed up to be among my favorite YA novels of recent years.
Cassel was a strong, unique, male voice with a genuinely compelling and individual tale. This was just... so fun to read; an effortless reading experience as well- the pages flip by without even noticing. I loved the slow reveal of both the history of the 'dab hands' as well as Cassel's own personal evolutionary arc.This isn't a character or a world that you want to leave - both characters and world make an impression and it is a very favorable one. This is a lol-worthy novel, largely due to Cassel himself. He exhibits the trademark teenage self-deprecation and hatred, but unlike most teens, Cassel has the unhappy history to back up his darker emotions. He's quick, and smart but humanly and believably flawed, lonely kid. He uses a complex system of bets on other people's daily lives to feel as if he has some measure of control, as well as to feel like he has a life of his own. Cassel is easily the highpoint of the entire novel, through all his ups, downs, and quotable moments. (“She says that what you did was a cry for help." "It was," I say. "That's why I was yelling 'Heeeelp!' I don't really go in for subtlety.”) If he is occasionally a bit too. . . naiive. . at the expense of pacing and plotting, I'll take that bargain. He's a very relatable and often introspective character for a male teen (“We are, largely, who we remember ourselves to be. That's why habits are so hard to break. If we know ourselves to be liars, we expect not to tell the truth. If we think of ourselves as honest, we try harder.” and “The easiest lies to tell are the ones you want to be true.”) but it works, it genuinely does.
Everything is not perfect here, despite my overwhelming love for the first in the inventive and fun Curse Worker's series - Holly Black is a talented and humorous storyteller, but her expertise doesn't encompass all there is to White Cat. For a novel about con men and deception, several of the twists and turns taken throughout are thoroughly predictable and/or transparent. Not all reveals and outcomes are predicted but some are rather obvious from the get-go. Black takes care to show and not tell with her prose, but her foreshadowing could use some work. This is a novel that isn't full of surprises but one that leads you to a conclusion and then turns that predicted conclusion on its head. It's rather nicely done and impressive on the author's part. I wish that the Mafia families here had more bite and shows of power - I never quite bought the danger of the threat of the Zacharov family, for example. A larger focus on those in charge of the criminal curseworkers would be appreciated.
I was never bored while reading White Cat. On the contrary, I was constantly entertained by this fucked up family dynamic, the first I've seen to really match The Chronicles of Amber in the level of lies, manipulation, outright betrayal and felonies attempted. This is a series made of the winning mix of mafia and magic - intriguing in its conception and execution, filled with complex characters and just plain fun. I read this in early March and I think it will remain one of my favorite novels for the entire year.
It's easily apparent from the very start of this deceptively good novel that Ironskin is a story looselRead This Review & More Like It On My Blog!
It's easily apparent from the very start of this deceptively good novel that Ironskin is a story loosely based on Charlotte Brontë's beloved classic Jane Eyre. Fortunately for me, I have never read the original, and that's one of the reasons I think I was free to enjoy this supernaturalized version as much as I did. I had no predispositions or favorites or even opinions going in - Connolly was free to do whatever she wanted with any of the characters, or with the plot, and it all worked out amazingly for me. Ironskin was a creative outlet of steam (really more fey-)punk, that managed to be both entertaining, and full of surprises. A few twists were expected, but Tina Connolly managed to pull the rug out from under my feet more than once before this short-ish novel was over. With a solidly built world, and a strong protagonist who changes and develops as the pages progress, I found a lot to recommend about this novel.
A debut novel, Ironskin comes loaded with great characters, a compelling storyline, and with a unique, new interpretation of steampunk. The ideas and fey-punk (bluepacks, etc.) that Connolly has envisioned for her alternate world of fey, dwarvven, and more work well for the frame of the plot, but are not truly steampunk. There's more of a supernatural feel to Ironskin as well - from Rochart to his daughter, magic is alive and unwell at Silver Birch. Despite its clear homages to Jane Eyre that even a reader almost wholly unfamiliar with that story could pick out, this is a fantasy tale obviously flavored with Connolly's original spin on the Victorian genre of literature. The well-handled themes of love, betrayal, acceptance, and atonement are subtly interwoven into the storyline of protagonist and governess Jane's attempts to reconcile a fey-talented child into a fey-hating world.
The characters took a bit longer to gel than the rest of the novel. I was easily enraptured by Connolly's lovely and often very visual writing to the benefit of the atmosphere, but her characters were a different story. With a slower-paced novel like this one, it's more difficult to get a grip on personalities, ambitions, and more. Jane, for the fiirst hundred or so pages, can be hard to empathize with, or relate to. She wasn't as astute as could be hoped for, but in the end, her journey to self-realization makes up for it. Thankfully with this author and engaging novel, the time spent building Jane, Dorie, and Rochart into distinct beings all payout in the end. The romance between the two adults is many things: expected, tumultuous, well-handled, and slow-building. No headlong rush into instalove here! The conflicts and complications that frequently spring up between Rochart and his damaged employee are part and parcel to the up-and-down relationship the two endure as they struggle to trust one another and protect Dorie. There isn't a ton of chemistry between the two for the first 200 pages, but Connolly manages to rectify that in time with some chance meetings and subtle conversations to build their relationship into something more believable than it started out as.
With the Gothic edge one would expect of something based on a Brontë sisters work, the world and technology of Ironskin is one of the most alluring concepts; both interesting and creepy. The unsettling setting, the unknown details of Jane's life at Silver Birch, the tension between the ironskins and the rest of the populace and more make for an encompassing, suspense-filled atmosphere. Ironskin is a well-written novel where the slightly creepy ambiance is as much of a part of the novel as the plot itself or the characters that grow from outlines into fully fleshed and three-dimensional people. The world, full of history and war and curses is a complex and imaginative more. Connolly is thankfully one of those few authors that don't inundate their audience with all the details immediately in an infodump, but one that parses out small, pertinent pieces of information slowly as the novel progresses along, creating an informative, large worldview of the time and place Jane lives in.
Ambitious and impressive, Ironskin wraps up the main plotline/mystery neatly and succinctly in those 302 pages. With a few open-ended plotlines obviously leading up the next book in this series, Connolly is a writer who knows how to hook her readers. I certainly eagerly awaiting to see what new struggles and battles Jane will encounter as well as gaining more knowledge about the Great War that lead up to the current conflict. With a strong ending, an intriguing and original interpretation of a beloved classic, realistic characters with human (and otherwise..) flaws, and mysteries a plenty, Ironskin is a rewarding and fun read.
Many thanks to TLC Book Tours for providing me with an ARC for the book tour!...more
But at least I will have time to process all those clever twists and all these feels that I current4.5
So the wait for book two is gonna be a biiiitch.
But at least I will have time to process all those clever twists and all these feels that I currently have.
Well done, Ms. Caine. I liked your vampire books (in fact it's the only ongoing vampire series I still read) but I loved this. It was creative and inventive and diverse. I had so many ships but my main ship was sneaky and subtle and made me Feel Things.
This is a book about books, about the power of knowledge, and about knowledge of power. It's clever and it's full of action. It's a great blend of ideas and genres and holy shit gimme book two please....more
With one of the few prologues that has excited me rather than dismayed me, Crave was an. .Read This Review & More Like It On My Blog!
2.5 out of 5
With one of the few prologues that has excited me rather than dismayed me, Crave was an. . . experience from start to finish. This supernatural young adult novel is a very hard beast for me to categorize within my usual systems. One one hand, there were so many cliches and unnecessary elements that felt like filler, but on the other hand I had fun reading the novel and was intrigued by the lore/mythology of this supernatural world. Melissa Darnell's Crave has had several ratings from me in the day of reading and two days of analyzing I've had with it. From a 3, rationalized to a 2, again rationalized to a 2.5 out of 5 as the fairest I can do for this novel with my extreme mixed emotions. Savannah and Tristan's stories from the first in the Clann series made me intensely want to smack them both, separate them, laugh at them. . . and ultimately want to read its sequel, Covet, as soon as I can get my grabby, contradictory hands on it in 2012. The only thing I can say is that it's like a bad movie: so bad it's good and you can't help but enjoy the often ridiculous, but hard-to-stop ride.
As said earlier Crave is all about two teens: Savannah Colbert, the "social outcast" of her high school and "golden boy" Tristan Coleman. The reader gets in both characters heads quite intimately with the switching, dual POV chapters from each. While I liked the switches between the views of Sav and Tristan, they came much too frequently in the flow of the novel and often without seeming to really need to change to the other's mind. With such a slow plot, with little to nothing happening (seriously the most exciting "event" in the first two hundred and fifty pages is some creepy guys and one guy grabbing Savannah's wrist) the shifts just exacerbated the problems already present. What kept me most interested was the lore and mythology of the Clann, it's secretive ways and just why the two kids were separated at such a young age.
Savannah was an okay protagonist, I suppose. I enjoyed her after a while, but she definitely didn't jump off the page in a burst of life and vivacity or anything, for me as a reader. She was a nicely rounded-out character, one who actually (amazingly, astoundingly) had a group of female friends with brains. I especially loved her friend Anne: protective, sarcastic and smart she was instantly relate-able to me in a way Savannah just wasn't. But, as more and more is revealed about Sav as the novel progressed, I warmed to her. Slight spoiler: especially when Sav was revealed as a half-witch, half vampire/succubus with powers! Tristan was more of a hit with me, though he too was far from ideal. I liked his struggles with his family and their expectations for him and his life -I feel that is something a lot of kids go through and Tristan's issues came across as genuine. He was a charming and even kind kid, apparently a rarity in this town/school. His overtures with Anne showed a lot about his personality and he helped me to warm to his girlfriend. I did laugh that his dream was to play in the NFL, but hey, he's a teenage boy. I did think idolized Savannah a bit much, as well. He constantly narrated, commented on, was angered by how saintlike and giving and perfect she was. We get it - we got it two chapters ago - move on, dude..
One thing I hated about both Tris and Sav: their relationship is practically Twilight but with witches and a part-succubus. Their teenage relationship is chock full of insta!love (no, being best friends in 4th grade does not negate years of independent growth/change/apparent hatred for each other with no communication - Sav and Tris do NOT know each other after reuniting, at least, not enough to be so "deeply" in love), "protectiveness" on part of Tristan that is borderline controlling and stalking, and of course, Tristan's blood is Sav's perfect cocktail (what, does he smell of lavender and freesia, maybe?) - so much so she is always aware whenever he is near. While happily Savannah does have dating experience other than her soulmate, I just had to knock a star off for this ridiculous relationship. It's laughable and like I said, been done before, many, many times. There's also no explanation just why it is Tristan, out of all the Clann, appeals just so much to Miss Savannah. If it's power, Tristan stated both his sister and father were stronger and more dedicated than he was with the magic, so it seems like unnecessary addition. I also wished for more from the vampire side of the novel: from Sav's dad to ominous Council, they seemed to swoop in randomly and then be ignored as part of the novel for quite a while.
I also soon realized just why the prologue was alluring, danger-filled and exciting: it's because the rest of the novel isn't. At all. This is a 400+ page novel with a plot consisting for the first 300 entirely of an old Friends trick: will they or won't they, can they, should they date? Seriously. It's all build-up and "oh no, I'm not allowed to date her!" "I can't be with him, it's against the rules!" when all along everyone - the characters, the reader, the author - all know it's a long-gone, foregone conclusion that they will. Ms. Darnell just dragged this unnecessary dating-or-not-dating drama out for far too long and other concerns that should have been pressing and important (the bloodlust, the council) are relegated to the back until the last 100 pages. For the first half, clueless me sat there wondering, "where's the action? When are the vampires, The Clann, anyone at all! going to do something/anything besides threaten and lurk offscreen?" This is a slow read, and if I hadn't been particuarly zealous the day I read it, I would probably still be struggling through the four hundred page length of the tome. There's no impetus to read besides finishing the novel, because there's no climactic build-up or suspense. Even the end of the novel lacks suspense or real excitement. Maybe Miss Darnell can fix these issues with the second, but I know I will be reading it regardless...more
4.5 out of 5 stars. I loved this! It was unexpectedly charming and clever and just plain fun even when (eRead This Review And More Like It On My Blog!
4.5 out of 5 stars. I loved this! It was unexpectedly charming and clever and just plain fun even when (especially?) at its most twisted. Kill Me Softly is a wholly engrossing and enjoyable read. This is one of those surprising books that went above and beyond my expectations; in fact, I passed this over a couple times on NetGalley because it seemed so been there, done that at first glance and I've been trying to control the amount of requests I make there. Then, pretty much the next week reviews on GoodReads started popping up - 4 stars, 4.5 stars, 5 stars - and who am I to fight the tide? I learned my lesson around December when the same sort of thing started happening with another book that I initially dismissed and which ended up becoming immensely popular (coughAngelfallcough). So with this I didn't hesitate; the day of reading those reviews, I downloaded and began my journey to Beau Rivage, Sarah Cross's imagination and quite possibly some of my favorite fairy tale retellings ever in Kill Me Softly.
To put it the most succinctly, Kill Me Softly is charming, clever and just plain fun. There's a lot to enjoy from this book - a fairly feisty heroine, a unique angle on fairytales in a modern-day scenario, and the clever allusions and asides to popular tales we know and love. I have to admit, the darker and more unsettling this novel became, the more and more I loved it. Kill Me Softly is most definitely at its best when it takes an unexpected, usually foreboding, turn, or reveals a truth very cleverly hidden behind the author's sleight of hand. Sarah Cross is quite adept, more than adept really, at setting the perfect scene and atmosphere for her cursed characters to populate and on occasion, I was really struck by the imagery in her words. I don't want to get spoilery since there's secrets and curses and mysteries aplenty to uncover and figure out, so I will just say that Sarah Cross finds a way to make both a love triangle between brothers and extreme instalove palatable.
Another aspect of this that I greatly appreciated was the author's tendency to show her fairy-tale world within a world and its rules, and instead let them evolve naturally rather than line them all out in an introductory info-dump. Sure, for a while the curses and Blue don't make a lot of sense, but given time and attention, the details emerge. Kill Me Softly is a very readable and quickly engrossing book - the kind you pick up for a chapter and somehow emerge 97 pages and several very interesting plot-twists later. There are double meanings and hints staring out at you from the page that slowly click and make a bigger picture - several times I wanted to hit my forehead and say "duh! Of course..." The author excels at providing the reader with clues and hints but not spelling out the answers desired. I won't go so far to say Kill Me Softly is perfect, but it is damn near close, and only a few slight quibbles keep it from making it to my best-of-2012 shelves.
I found the final (? temporary?) conflict with the main antagonist left me feeling rather underwhelmed. It takes Mira so long to clue in and then it's kind of... over in a flash and without much depth. There are sequels/companion novels confirmed to be written so I am sure the villain will reappear along the line but I wish the entire plotline of Kill Me Softly had been resolved in one novel. I vehemently support the idea of a sequel for another character from the fascinating world of Beau Rivage; I wouldn't be nearly as enthused for a return to Mira's plotline from the first/launching point of the series. ...more
Was I supposed to finish this in love with Piper? Because she, like Angela in Unspoken, is my Patronus in so many ways.
Real thoughts: the book/plot whWas I supposed to finish this in love with Piper? Because she, like Angela in Unspoken, is my Patronus in so many ways.
Real thoughts: the book/plot whathaveyou, was...quieter?... than I expected. Less gogogo than The Dream Thieves, but Maggie's writing still has that dream-like quality. Characterization, as always, is key and on point. These people are so real -- even looking at the cast (both old and new) beyond Blue and her boys. ...more
Aaaand another one drowns in the water? one bites the dust. Yet another victim of the dreaded Sequel SyRead This Review & More Like It On My Blog!
Aaaand another one drowns in the water? one bites the dust. Yet another victim of the dreaded Sequel Syndrome, wherein a follow-up to well-loved first novel can't execute or maintain that level previous level of excellence, Deep Betrayal was a miss for me. My last read for the year of 2012, I was rather disappointed with how this anticipated novel turned out. I was a big fan of the eeeeevil mermaids from Lake Superior in the first book Lies Beneath, but that was far from the case with Deep Betrayal. I gave the first one 4 out of 5 stars; I hesitated to award this one even the grudging 2 I finally went with. I had high hopes and expectations for Anne Greenwood Brown's latest, and they came crashing down by page one hundred.
I can't deny that the same elements from the first are present here in the second: evil mermaids with vengeance, an often creepy and remote love interest, Lily's struggles with her parents. What was new was that it was all missing the spark, the fun that was so evident in the previous book. Yes, Calder's sisters are evil and revenge-driven, but damnit, they were so entertaining in Lies Beneath! I had fun reading about them and their plots and plans for vengeance on the hapless humans. For the majority of my two-day read of this book, I was flat-out bored....which was the least-expected reaction I'd have thought. I honestly could've finished this in one day, but I was put off by a lot of what doesn't happens over the course of the novel, I just had to take several breaks and watch Psych instead.
The murder mystery that is supposedly a big part of the novel's main plot takes a backseat to A LOT of angst. Especially for the begining over the novel: Lily's annoying angst over Calder's 31-day alienation from Lily (I'm sorry... you knew him for all of a month before and now you're miserable without him? Shades of Bella Swan don't look good on anyone trying to create a strong, likeable female protagonist). First-person does her no favors, either; every time she brought up Calder, I wished she was a real girl so I could smack some sense into her. The girl is separated from her family (with her father the target of a murderous plot) and who does she whine and miss? That's right, the murderous merman who lied and manipulated her for half the time she'd known him. I can forgive a lot if I like the characters, and while I admit that Lily wasn't my favorite from Lies Beneath, at least I didn't have to read her inner monologue. I missed Calder's self-deprecation and ambiguity. Lily, for me, is exactly what she reads as: a boy-crazy vapid girl.
Deep Betrayal could be summed up best for as easily as this: Lily whines about Calder. Lily whines about her dad. Someone dies mysteriously. Lily whines about her lack of mermaidness. Boy drama. Lily whines about Calder. Rinse, repeat for 330ish pages and voila! You just saved yourself from an exercise in boredom and frustration. These are, or were, interesting characters. The author just needs to do more with them than romantical bullshit to make this a good book. I can only take so from much love-triangles (it's hinted at enough to frustrate), miscommunications and pure angst.
I did give this book two stars for the only reasons that saved it from being a DNF: I honestly didn't know who the murderer was, and consequently, Brown's talent for writing a good mystery. Brown, technically, is a fairly decent author. It's just her characters and plot that I take major issues with. I was intrigued by the origin story revealed for the mermaid species, but as I feared, it was mostly glossed over to focus on Lily's issues with her maybe-boyfriend and her distant father. I had so much hope for this, but now I doubt I'll be continuing the series at all.
Deep Betrayal just wasn't the book for me. A lot of people, like me, loved the first and hopefully will have the same reaction for the sequel The weakness of the heroine and the insipid nature of her narrative were too hard for me to overcome, but at the heart of the book, I could see why/if others would find more fun in the pages. But for me personally, I have to say boredom is a killer when it comes to reading books, and boy did this one slay me. ...more
Lex is the hard-edged and foul-mouthed teenage main character of Croak, and if you don't like LeMore of My Reviews On My Blog: Ageless Pages Reviews
Lex is the hard-edged and foul-mouthed teenage main character of Croak, and if you don't like Lex, chances are that this is not the book for you. Lex takes the stage early and that made Croak's beginning one of the weakest I have come across - I nearly set it down when "retard" came out to play as an insult early on. The reader's immediate, first impression within two pages of starting this is that this 17-year-old hellion is violent, volatile, impolite and frequently out-of-bounds. With a name like Lexington (plus twin sister Concord -- how cruel is that?! I'm a huge history nerd/double major and even I wouldn't do that to my kids!) and the attitude of a bear with four sore teeth, this is a highly individual character, and ultimately, one I truly loved. Lex battled her way into my esteem, slowly creeping up in my estimations.
Lex will certainly appear of any list of mine for favorite/memorable heroines. This is a funny girl with her own sarcastic, rough type of humor, and while I didn't love every single bon mot that fell from her lips, I absolutely, and more than once, literally laughed out loud several times at what she has to say. Even her name, taken from a battle that kick-started the American Revolution, unkind as her parents were to stick her with it, is a subtle reminder about how much this novel revolves around death. I also liked the symmetry present in the name: the battle of Lexington that began off a years-long war, and Lex's personal arrival in the town of Croak sets of a series of deadly events. Be warned, Lex is is rough shape at the beginning/middle: she's offensive, unrelentingly childish and overdone teenage cliches abound. What bothered me most, outside of the 'retard' comment, was Lex's double standards with her fellow Croakers. She constantly accuses everyone else of being cryptic and elusive with details, but sees no hypocrisy in shielding her own secrets and knowledge. But eventually, she evolved into a character that I could greatly appreciate and maybe even understand.
I really enjoyed the lore and mythology the author created for her world, especially since it was creative and original. What got me truly involved in Croak was...well, the town of Croak itself and the Afterlife. I thought the Killing/Culling pairs were a bit unwieldy and unlikely, but the structure reinforces the friendships between the teams so I can't complain too vociferously. The organization of the Grims is highly regimented, and seems like a viable plan for the tasks they must undertake (Ha! Death pun!). Croak itself is fun to read: from Slain Lane, Pushing Daisies flower shop (now I want to watch the tv show. I heart Ned!) to Dead Weight (a gym), death puns and wordplay appear and add and element of fun to an understandably less-than-teeming city.
Let's talk about the Afterlife - very visually striking in the narration, very tactile in description. But what I liked best, out of the whole damn book, was the version of Edgar Allan Poe that Damico has crafted. He's morose, moody and just plain hilarious. I would read a book about his adventures in the Afterlife anyday. His rivalry with Teddy Roosevelt ("Where's your big stick now, Teddy?!") was one of the aspects of Croak that kept me vastly amused and coming back for more. In fact, this whole book is "lol-worthy" - so much so that it inspired me to make a shelf named just that for future novels in the series/other books.
Like Lex's, the uncle she lives with has a name that is a harbinger of death, though not nearly as subtle: his name is Mort. Mort and most of the other GRIMs (Gamma Removal & Immigration Managers - a bit of a reach for that acronym, no?) lacked the wholly rounded personality of Lex, but weren't total cartoon caricatures either. What I liked best about Mort was his repeatedly demonstrated ability to put Lex in her place, often and firmly. With a character like Lex, so full of heedless anger and self-righteousness, Mort's calmer, steady personality balanced out her high emotions. Despite a blip of character continuity, Mort is the responsible, smart member of the group, but his control over Lex is tenuous, which leads to their fractious, though loving, relationship. I could have done without the whole romance element, slight as it was, because it just seems superfluous (thought I am told it packs the feels in later books). With Lex's tude, the whiteeye deaths, navigating being a Grim Reaper, couldn't the two just be friends? Is it that unheard of for two teens of opposing sexes to just be friends for a while? Damn - also, the picture "reveal"? I found it creepy, not adorable. And (view spoiler)[: shouldn't Lex recognize a picture of herself when she sees it several times? (hide spoiler)]
Though it begins with a slower introduction, Croak happily gathers steam midway and eventually makes a more-than-favorable impression with its strong, complete ending. Besides Lex's overdone teenage tude, and a cliched villain monologue at the end (seriously, I swear it was Syndrome making a cameo) detailing every last element of the grand evil plan, this is enjoyable to read. And, BONUS!, this fun little death-centric book is only $7.87 for Nook. The next book and direct sequel, Scorch, is due out later this year in September, but is already available for pre-order now. ...more
That was a creepy, awesome, often quite funny, read. I would say I am surprised but I've talked to Karina before (and in all honesty, she sent me a coThat was a creepy, awesome, often quite funny, read. I would say I am surprised but I've talked to Karina before (and in all honesty, she sent me a copy to read) and I know she is made of awesome and win. It's heartening to see that her talent backs up my impression of her. The Devil's Metal is an original, diverting, winner. Well done and I can't wait to see where the author takes this new series? duology? from here.