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A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J Maas | Blabber

A Court of Wings and Ruin (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #3)A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J Maas
705 pages
Hardback
Read May 2 – May 13, 2017
A Court of Thorns and Roses, book 3
Spoiler-free blabber (for this book – possible spoilers for the first two books)


Reading this book allowed me to see what I like about Sarah J Maas’s books and what I don’t. I buzzed through the first two books in this series back in January and had been chewing at the bit for this one for a few months. I pre-ordered it, even – something I tend not to do unless the book is super special or signed or somethin’. But after coming off the buzz of A Court of Mist and Fury, I was super-eager for this one. I had rated that book five stars, but now looking back, there were issues in it that I had been blind to originally. I’m not changing the rating on that though – I loved it at the time and I still love it, but this latest book has pointed out some flaws in the series as a whole. Unfortunately these flaws were more apparent to me this time around than during the second book.

I’ll start with what I like about this book and this series as a whole:

Sarah J Maas’s writing is compelling – I also have issues with it but I’ll get to that later – but really, she can write a good, juicy, fast-paced story. I devour her books. They’re so much fun to read, so easy to fly through. The world she sets up takes a bit of time to develop, but I kinda fell in love with it. I wanna go see Velaris, people.

Her characters are good as well – the side characters at least. The main characters are alright – I don’t dislike them, I just find them a tad irksome. But the side characters I really like. Meaning, I’m very much looking forward to the continuation of these series bases on these characters. Maas is also really good at getting the reader (ie: me) to change opinions on characters from chapter to chapter. Some chapters, I hated Tamlin, others I felt sorry for him, others I liked him. Same with Feyre – my feelings towards her character are all over the place. But I really like that – that my mind isn’t set on ‘this character is this way and this is what I think’ like a stone. The variability of my perception just goes to show the characters themselves have more than one personality trait – that they’re actually developing throughout the series (woo!).

The plot I think, is neat too. It hopped from Beauty and the Beast in book one to Hades and Persephone in book two to… what? Was there a fairy tale entwined in book three? I have no idea, but pulling all the plot points together was really neat. Across these three books, so much happened, so much more than one over-arching plot, and I really dug it.

So as much as I liked the plot, the characters and the compelling writing of this book, I also had a laundry list of little ‘ehhh’ things that popped into my periphery while reading it:

First and foremost is Maas’s writing. Like I said above, she’s really good at keeping a fast pace and moving the story along but at the same time, her writing is rather uh… convenient, I guess is the best word to describe it. And maybe this is a strange complaint, but everything seemed to have its place in this book. All the characters kinda paired off, characters that had been alluded to throughout the series showed up at just the right time due to happenstance… It was just strange. The use of the blatant plot device, people: It’s in this book.

Second is Maas’s writing. By this I mean the inconsistency in communication. Okay, I get that Rhys and Feyre communicate via thought using the mating bond. That, sure, that’s fine. Buuuuut, there were so many times that Maas would write Feyre having full sentence communication with other characters by conveying meaning through their eyes. Like, seriously – she’d be all ‘Amrens eyes said ‘maybe we can try this thing that is a really complex idea together with two of us instead of four of us like I had planned. Totally telling you this by staring at you by the way”. It was weird. If at some point it had been pointed out that in this world that eyeballs could convey full messages to each other, then I’d be fine with it. But apparently everyone’s vision marbles are shouting things at each other throughout this whole book. Unsaid communication that nobody ever misinterpreted ever was a very common thing in this book, and it was weird. And eyeballs did so many things too – they burned, they glinted, they screamed, they did all sorts of stuff that eyeballs shouldn’t do, at least things that wouldn’t be able to be picked up by another living being via just looking at somebody. I want to have a deep and meaningful conversation on battle strategy via looking at someone. That would be neat, and I’m jealous I can’t do that while these people somehow can. 😛

The final, and honestly most goofy thing is Maas’s writing. By this, I mean sex scenes. The vocabulary used in these sex scenes had me in hysterics. So, I guess this could be a positive trait about these? I guess? I mean, if you’re looking to read about a couple boning and want to laugh hysterically while you’re doing it, then it’s definitely a good thing. If you’re after an actual love scene though that’s not funny and all but instead steamy or whatever adjective you wanna assign to it, you’re gonna be out of luck.

Because of the amount of boning in this book (which… isn’t as much as I was expecting, honestly. So go you, Maas), I’ve take the liberty of creating a list of things not to do while writing a sex scene:

  • Don’t use the word ‘sheathing’ when referring to intercourse. A vagina is not a sheath. A penis isn’t a sword.
  • Don’t use the word ‘sheathing’ more than once within the same paragraph.
  • Don’t say that breasts ‘tighten’ in anticipation. If you experience this, you should see a doctor. Nipples perk out? Sure. But if your whole boob just yells ‘ATTENTION’, then that’s a medical issue.
  • Please please come up with more than one way of letting a reader know a character is turned on. If I have to read about curling toes one more time, man…
  • At no point should your character ever ever ‘feel like a moonbeam’. What does that even mean.

So, if you’re in the middle of writing a novel that calls for a nice love scene, just follow these five easy steps to keep your reader from laughing and then getting their SO to dramatically read the passage out-loud as if it was a performance piece. I mention this because I totally did it and it was so so very entertaining.

So while Maas’s sex scenes aren’t the best, they’re still amusing to read. Whether or not she intended them that way, I have no idea, but the fact that I was still enjoying myself while reading them means they didn’t really take away from my overall rating of the book. They just made me attribute this book to being super silly at times.


Overall, I enjoyed this book. I didn’t love it I don’t think, but it was a nice, fun, (sometimes probably unintentionally funny) read. I like the series as a whole and I think this book was a nice, fitting ending to the trilogy. Endings are make-or-break for me, and this one handled loose strings rather cleanly (sometimes… too cleanly, but then again, it’s a weird complaint). I liked it. I’m very much looking forward to the companion books for this trilogy and will likely gobble them up when they come out (even if the word ‘sheathing’ is present in there, yeesh).

Rating: 4/5 stars

 
2 Comments

Posted by on 05/14/2017 in Books, Review

 

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The Mad Ship by Robin Hobb | Blabber

The Mad Ship (Liveship Traders, #2)The Mad Ship by Robin Hobb
850 pages, mass market paperback
Read Feb 23 – May 7, 2016
Book two in the Liveship Traders trilogy
Spoilery Blabber

“Tomorrow owes you the sum of your yesterdays. No more than that. And no less.”

Every time I read a Robin Hobb book – this is the fifth one I’ve buzzed through now – I get an emotional hangover. This series in particular, I’d even call it an emotional flu.

Since this is a spoilery blabber, I’m going to assume if you’re here you’ve either read it already or don’t care about being spoiled. I’m also going to assume you already know the premise of the series. I’m also going to just write a bunch of thoughts out – this is not a ‘coherent review’. 😛

This book picks up where the last left off – the returning characters are just as despicable and wonderful as before. I grew to like characters I disliked before… and really really hate characters I already hated. Hah.

So the main theme of this book is obviously character development. Sorely, sorely needed character development. And it was wonderful.

Robin Hobb is really good at writing awful characters. I don’t mean awful as in badly written, I mean awful as in I hate them. They feel like real people but they are not people I would get along with. Kennit for instance. That bastard. Never have I despised a character so much that I actually would get angry while reading from their POV. If that isn’t a well-designed character then I don’t know what is.

I hope in book three, Kennit gets knocked down a few pegs. Seriously. So far he’s managed to manipulate Etta, Vivacia and now even Wintrow to his will. Gaaah I want someone to see through his bullshit so badly. He needs good, solid punch to the face.

Another character that went through a lot of character development, but in a positive direction instead of negative was Malta. It’s unfortunate that the loss of her father was what had to trigger it, but it really woke her up to the world around her. Towards the end of the book especially, I really loved her. Her snaps at the satrap were just fantastic. (I hate him too, so it was lovely). It was such a complete turn-around from her character in the first book, which seriously irritated me. I like Reyn too – he’s a decent fella.

This book I noticed spent about as much time away from the liveships as it did with them – about half the POVs weren’t anywhere near the water – it really lent to the largeness of the plot and all of the interesting subplots that I know are going to come together in book three. I seriously liked this book, especially towards the end. I reached an ‘AHHHHH’ moment and kinda buzzed through the ending (after…. taking a two day break to finish my coding project. You have NO IDEA how hard it is to reach the AHHHH part in a book and then put it down to do important schooly things, bleh)

All the subplots are starting to wind together at this point – we now know why it kept jumping to a bit of eel-y things in the water and why some of them seem sentient and others don’t. There’s a dragon flyin’ around and Paragon, darling Paragon, has developed a sense of multiple selves. Paragon I think is my favorite character in this series – he’s just so amusing, I wanna hug him. Granted, he’d likely either punch me in the face or cry hysterically or hug me back. It would really be up in the air. I think that’s why I like his character so much – he’s so out of character all the time that everything is in character. It’s neato. :”D

I will say though – and it’s a thing that I mentioned above – that this book is tiring. It’s so emotionally saturated that it becomes a chore to read it. Not because it’s bad, but because just so much heavy stuff happens to the Vestrit family, I kinda get worn out just reading about it, yeesh.

Rating: 4/5 stars


So yes, overall I dug this book. Made me feel droopy though. And my thoughts, as you can see, aren’t really coherent, hence a spoilery blabber instead of a non-spoilery review. :”D I’m thinking I”ll do a trilogy review on the whole thing once I finish the third book – that one will spoiler-free and more uh… readable instead of a bunch of tangent-thoughts, hawhaw.

Happy reading!

 
1 Comment

Posted by on 05/09/2017 in Books, Review

 

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The Traitor Baru Cormorant by Seth Dickinson | Blabber

The Traitor Baru CormorantThe Traitor Baru Cormorant by Seth Dickinson
Read Feb 7 – Apr 19, 2017
Geopolitical Fantasy
399 pages
Spoiler-free blabber


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“This is the truth. You will know it because it hurts.”

The Traitor Baru Cormorant is a book that you’ll either love or you’ll hate. A geopolitical fantasy set in a land controlled by a distant empire, it follows Baru, a young woman whose home is made victim of the power that empire holds. As a child, she vows revenge for her country and her family, and sets herself to tear down the nation from within.

The cover of this book, while striking on its own, is one of the most poignant covers I’ve seen when it comes to conveying the tone of a book. As a reader, you follow Baru as she enters into the realm of the enemy, manipulates her way through by cold, calculating precision. The main character is a savant for accounting, numbers, tactics. She plants herself in the middle of a rivalry of dukes, all of whom are overshadowed by the looming Masquerade, the empire that controls them all.

This is my first experience reading fantasy where the only thing fantastical about it is the names of the countries. No magic, no creatures… just a world different from ours, under a type of control that is eerily resonant at times. The Empire of Masks rules over the duchies of Aurdwynn and has imposed upon them their own rules, including those of ‘racial hygeine’.

Under the Mask, marriages must be genetically beneficial and those lands who participate ‘unhygienic practices’ must be accounted for and corrected. Baru comes from such a place – the story begins with her at home, Taranoke, living with her mother and two fathers. The Mask sweeps into Taranoke, one of Baru’s fathers is taken away and Baru herself is placed in a learning facility to learn to stay away from anything The Mask deems as sinful: sodomy, tribadism, genetically inferior breeding… all of these, The Mask seeks to eliminate by whatever means necessary.

Throughout this process, she remembers what the Mask did to her home and family.

This is one of those books that lulls you into a false sense of security, allows you to believe that you understand what’s going on and then yanks the rug out from underneath you. You see Baru’s mind as she forms plots and plans to best manipulate those around her to achieve her goal of reclaiming Taranoke. You read, you see the awfulness the Mask has created and you root for Baru… but at the same time…

The author, Seth Dickinson, is a bit of a wordsmith, but his writing style alone for this book is a tad strange. Told from Baru’s point of view, it goes into battles and hidden politics that Baru herself doesn’t see, so you as the reader sometimes only get descriptions of occurrences instead of actually seeing those occurrences through scenes. It definitely took me a bit to get into – the writing at times adopts the ‘tell’ method instead of the ‘show’, but it does that because it’s what Baru herself experiences. The writing becomes a bit more showy later in the book when Baru starts witnessing events herself, but early on it is a bit mechanic. Don’t let that dissuade you though. The endgame is totally worth the wait.

But I mentioned Dickinson being a wordsmith, and then went into mechanical writing. Whoops. The reason I mention his way with words though is because despite the overall writing at times being bit difficult, there are so many beautiful phrases and memorable quotes littered throughout the book. About half way through, I started keeping track of them and had to go back and poke through the ealier pages to find more:

“Freedom granted by your rulers is just a chain with a little slack.”

“Her fury had nothing else to eat and so it began to eat her.”

“Understood what the books and the generals always repeated: that armies did not kill each other, they broke each other, that the day would be won when one army believed it could not survive. A matter of deception, of conviction, of lies made true through performance. Like everything else.”

And there are so, so many more. Reading this book at times is like reading poetry made into war and betrayal. I really loved this book, despite my small gripes with the writing. It’s thought-provoking, it’s complex, it’s poignant…

And that bolded phrase at the top of this review? It’s the opening line to the book. And really, it’s the most perfect line that could have been there. At the end of the book, you’ll flip back to the front and just stare at that opening line for a while, thinking about what you just read. I know I did.

Rating: 5/5 stars

 
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Posted by on 04/19/2017 in Books, Review

 

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Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo | Blabber

(I’ve decided to change the review titles from ‘yapping’ to ‘blabber’, just because that’s the catch-phrase of my blog as is. So there. :P)

Ruin and Rising (The Grisha, #3)Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo
The Grisha Trilogy, Book 3
Read Jan 12th (the whole thing)
422 pages
YA Fantasy

-Spoilery blabbing-
Dun read unless you’ve read the book or don’t care about being spoiled out your ass.

I started this book this morning around 4am and stopped only for about 30 minutes at 7:30am so I could drive to work, where I promptly started reading again because it was dead as hell. It’s now 1:30pm and I’ve just finished this thing.

I don’t think I’ve ever read a complete series so quickly before. I started The Grisha trilogy on Jan 5th. The first two books took me two days each to read, then I read a different book for a day while I waited for this one to arrive in the mail, then I buzzed through this one in about 9 hours. I feel like the speed at which I read these makes my opinions on them different than they would be if I would have taken them slower, but who knows.

This third book, the final in the series, was a very bittersweet read for me. Overall, I really liked it, but it left me feeling bleak, I guess. The story picks up in the caves where the characters had escaped to at the end of the second book – the setting stayed there for a few chapters or so while Alina recovered got worse under the Apparat’s care. Honestly at this point in the book, I was under the impression that Alina’s powers were gone, kaput, nada. I reasoned this much from her saying just that at the end of the second book. But hey, low and behold, it was just because she was out of direct sunlight. Which in itself is fine, but she seemed to know as much – she actively sought sunlight so she could use her summoning abilities again. It just confused me – why have her state her powers were gone if she knew that weren’t? Not a huge deal, but I feel it was unnecessary. Image result for jaimie alexander

The book itself has a bit of a slow pace during the cave scenes but picks up fairly quickly
once they escape from it. One of my favorite parts
about this book is the character development, particularly Zoya’s. In book one (and part of two) she was a very one-dimensional stereotypical mean girl. She still kinda holds onto that persona, but at the same time, we get to see a bit more into her personality and sense of humor, which was a refreshing change. I keep picturing Jaimie Alexander, who played Sif in Thor, in my mind as I read for her, too. So she’s totally and completely cast in my mind and any other choice if they make a movie or tv show will pale in comparison, hawhaw.

But anyways, the meat of the book: The ending. I both loved and hated the ending. When I was reading and when Mal was killed, I got upset. And then when the Darkling was killed I got really upset. Like, that almost ruined the book for me – Alina sitting in the sand with the two deadies on either side of her. Like really. It would have been awful to end it that way. But Mal ended up living, which saved the book for me. If she would have ended up alone and mourning both of them, I feel like I would have cast this book away and never looked back.

But Mal lived and Alina is happy. And Nikolai lived as well, though I feel like I wanted to read more about him.

But the Darkling man, the Darkling. WHY did he have to die. I feel like his death is what caused this book to bump down to a four star rating for me. Until that point, it had been a solid 5 stars easy. There were so many ways he could have lived and the plot would still make sense. But ugh man. Ugh. I’m so mad about that. Honestly it’s mostly because I’m team Darklina all the way. (I fully understand that he’s awful and in no way suitable, but like I said since the first book, I was fascinated and was rooting for him hahah). So now I need to go find my non-canonical fanfiction and just stew in there for a bit, thank you. But even with my ship not happening aside, the character still could have lived. Buh. BUH.

Happy-sad-frustrated ending to the book. It was a really good ending – a really solid ending and honestly probably the most logical one for all the plotlines that had been set up and needed completed. It was good. But it wasn’t what I wanted. 😛

Rating: 4/5 stars

 
4 Comments

Posted by on 01/12/2017 in Book Discussion, Books, Review

 

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Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo | Review and Spoilery Yapping

Shadow and Bone (The Grisha, #1)Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
Read Jan 5th- Jan 7th
358 pages
YA Fantasy

– Spoiler Free Reviewy Bit –

I’ve very, very late onto this bandwagon. I feel like everyone and their mom has read this book and that a review on it at this point might be a bit redundant. But hey, I’m gonna do it anyways.

Shadow and Bone was a fast paced fantasy where nothing happened and then everything did. I feel like that was my main problem with the book – its pacing was all over the place. That being said, I still loved the thing. I was (and still am) in the mood for YA fantasy and this book definitely scratched that itch in the best way. I can see why a lot of people enjoy this book, and at the same time, I can see where many had problems with it. Luckily for me, I’m on the ‘I like it’ side of the spectrum. There were a decent amount of tropes that this book fell victim to that should have bothered me but somehow didn’t. I really must have been in the mood for a book like this. I seriously enjoyed it but I can recognize its flaws.

The book begins a trilogy following a young woman who falls into the chosen one trope. Because of this, she’s whisked out of her military lifestyle to become a Grisha, a practitioner of the Small Sciences. The Grisha wear color-coded clothing, depending on which concentration they work in. The Darkling, for instance – the ruler of all the Grisha – wheres black. Summoners – those who can summon fire, water, etc – wear blue, yada yada. There are four different colors total, and what I found interesting was that while the Grisha made up a very small number of humans, they still had barriers between the different groups. Rivalries, jealousies, strengths and weaknesses. It was fascinating reading the politics between the groups for the little time that it was focused on. The main character Alina, finds herself placed in one of these groups, but saying which one is a spoiler and would ruin why she’s ‘the chosen one’.

The plot picks up after Alina begins her Grisha training and details about the multiple wars with other countries causing strife across the nation and the unsea, a vast, huge realm of darkness that stretches across the land like a scar, are revealed.

This book has action, romance, hints of ‘magic school’ness, even though all the Grisha whine ‘It’s science! IT’S SCIENCE SHUT UP’, and great world building. Based on Russian culture, this book is definitely unique in its background. I think one of my favorite things about this book is the strong female friendship present throughout most of it. The characterization is great as well – The Darkling in particular is fascinating. His motives, his actions, all of it. He’s like watching a train wreck. I just couldn’t look away. Alina’s character, while also pretty decent, I feel still lacks a bit of development. I’m hoping that’ll change in the future two books, especially after having to deal with the events in the first one.

The writing is wonderful as well. The usage of verbage and syntax sometimes almost give a poetic feel to the book and at other times, convey grittiness and despair. I really enjoyed the writing.

And my top absolute favorite thing about this book is that I had heard rumors about certain characters going in, so I was kind of waiting for something to happen, something that would prove these rumors, and when it finally happened, I was still caught off guard. I knew something was gonna happen and I still didn’t expect it. It. was. awesome.

Overall, I definitely recommend this book. It’s given a solid beginning to a series that I’m hoping will stay just as good throughout.

4.5/5 stars


– Spoilery Yapping –

Okay so, as of 2017 I’m going to start adding these sections to my reviews. Only read these if you’ve read the book or don’t care about being spoiled out your ass.

This book was exactly what I needed I think. A YA fantasy that had handsome dudes in it to get me out of my reading slump. I read this baby in two and a half days. That’s practically unheard of for me. So this book follows Alina, right. She’s this girl who in my opinion reminds me of Violet from The Invincibles. At least, I pictured an older version of her throughout this thing. A stringy, skinny girl that (shocker) is secretly beautiful. Like I said above, tropes that should bother me but somehow didn’t. I think it was the writing and characterization that kept me from being overly annoyed by the tropes. I was just enjoying myself so much that they didn’t irk me.

Anyways. Violet Alina is plucked from her life as a military recruit to be trained as a Grisha after she blinds a bunch of people with her body. Shortly after she’s convinced everyone around her that she’s not a living time-bomb waiting to explode, she’s introduced to The Darkling, who I’ve developed a weird obsession with.

Image result for the incredibles violetThe Darkling is this very attractive ancient organism who tells Alina she’s destined for great things. And gasp, Alina starts falling for the guy. As soon as this started happening, my spidey senses started tingling and I felt the imminent approach of a love triangle. That’s because Alina’s best friend Mal (also strikingly good looking) whom Alina is secretly in love with (despite her being near him for their entire lives and her never mentioning it, shocker) saves her life and is then shipped off into war. Misunderstandings abound and Alina pines for the guy until his perfectly-timed-to-cause-drama return.

But lucky me, I’m not so sure about this love triangle anymore, especially after the end of the book. This is that thing I mentioned earlier. That rumor. I had heard going in that people loved and hated the Darkling, that he was despicable but they still loved the guy. I was 50% into the book and was still thinking ‘I don’t see it. He seems like a decent guy’ and then wham. The Darkling is actually an evil bastard.

Everything that Darkling had done up until that point, the romance, the kindness, everything, evaporated. And though I knew something like that would have to happen to prove the rumors, it still caught me totally off guard. And that’s what made me love the book: The Darkling’s character. His character is written so, so so well. Alina, upon realizing his true intentions, went back over all of his past behavior and she came to the realization that all of it was manipulative, all of it. He played her like a fiddle and showed no remorse. And the best part was, I didn’t notice any of it earlier on either and Alina’s realizations were also mine. Even parts that she didn’t go back and cover, I did, and I found them to be full of ulterior motive. I loved it. This book, this character. He’s a conniving bastard and I think it’s spectacular.

I hate the Darkling and I’m obsessed with him at the same time. Alina’s a decent character, Mal is a decent character, Genya is a decent character, but the Darkling is just morbidly fascinating and it’s great. Really, he’s like a train wreck. It’s just so awesome.

Wah, I need book two, stat. I need more.

I just sincerely hope that the author doesn’t decide to be all ‘lol Stockholm Syndrome!’ because I think I’ll have to punch the book in the head. We shall see now, won’t we.

 
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Posted by on 01/07/2017 in Book Discussion, Books, Review

 

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Graphic Novel Review: Rest by Mark Powers

Rest, Volume 1Rest by Mark Powers

Graphic Novel
Read 11/12 – 11/13
140 pages

I had very high hopes going into this one. I randomly plucked it from the store shelf after reading the synopsis and being fully drawn in. This graphic novel revolves around a man named John Barrett who becomes the subject in a human drug trial. The drug in question makes a person no longer need to sleep – they’re up 24/7 and can ‘live their lives to the fullest’ so to say.

So from someone with a degree and interest in psychology, yeah, I was pretty much hooked. (And the cover is pretty great too – I mean look at that thing!)

This graphic novel reminded me a lot of the movie ‘Limitless’ if you’ve seen that one. It had the same feel too, to an extent. With each of the six issues within this trade, I became more invested. I started to see the full scope of side effects the drug caused before the main characters realized it for themselves and it caused an almost thriller-like aspect to the whole experience. I read it in two sittings, unable to force myself to put it down for anything else aside from the influence of severely droopy eyelids.

I was totally digging this. It was great – the characters were interesting, there were twists and turns, there was a mysterious past to the drug that I thought was pretty cool. Everything was great and this was likely going to get a four-and-a-half star rating from me…. until I reached a certain panel and I was thrown out of the whole experience like being launched out of a cannon. One panel, that’s all it took. It made my opinion of the whole graphic novel kinda crumbled.

If you decide to pick up this novel, do so! I thoroughly enjoyed it… until that one part. But hey, it might not happen to you. You might not find that damn panel as utterly ruining as I did. Hell, you might not even realize which panel I was talking about.

So overall, this graphic novel is awesome. I loved it. But unfortunately, that panel and the events within it essentially dropped what I’m going to rate it substantially. Endings man, they’re make or break for me.

Rating: 2.5/5 stars

 
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Posted by on 11/13/2016 in Books, Review

 

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Book Review: Wonders of the Invisible World by Christopher Barzak

Wonders of the Invisible WorldWonders of the Invisible World by Christopher Barzak

352 pages
YA, Magical realism, LGBT
Read 9-29 to 10-11

Wonders of the Invisible World was recommended to me by a friend, who said she read it in one sitting and absolutely loved it. I took the rec knowing her particular suggestions to me are usually either hit or miss. I either love them to bits or can’t even finish them. This is the first time I think I’ve read a book recommended by her where it landed somewhere in the middle.

This book is set in modern day and follows a teenage boy who feels he has no idea who he is or what his life is about. He walks around in a fog, wondering when his life left him in the dust. When a friend from his childhood reappears, it triggers a series of events that slowly reveal that his life was actually as distant and detached as he thought it was, and that someone was making it that way on purpose. I’ll stop the synopsis there, only saying in addition that this book has both magical realism and LGBT themes, which is a combination I personally haven’t read before.

First and foremost, I feel like this book tried to be a mystery and couldn’t quite get there. There were a couple twists that I predicted early on and when they happened exactly how I thought they would, it was a bit of a yawn. This book didn’t surprise me at all, despite the supernatural elements mentioned that could have been used to do so. The characters as well I felt were a bit lacking. The main character Aiden, that one who’s always complaining about not knowing who he is or what his personality is, really conveyed that. I had no clue what this kid’s personality was. He was pretty damn flat. So… is that good characterization because he knew he was flat or was it bad? Haven’t the foggiest, but as a result I couldn’t relate or sympathize to him very well, which was probably a contributing factor why the twists did nothing for me.

The plot itself was interesting if a bit slow-moving. This was probably my favorite part of the book, regardless of the untwisty twists. Aiden’s memory and personality are in a fog and he starts hearing and seeing things that no one else can. The tree in his back yard starts speaking to him, he witnesses his great grandfather fighting in WW2, and all of it connects to why he’s such a bore, I mean why he’s so confused with himself. As the plot unraveled, I did start to feel something for the characters. Not the main characters, but his mother and his romantic interest. Both of them stood out to me more than Aiden did unfortunately. I ended up really disliking one and liking the other but at least I felt something towards them.

The thing I think this book handled the best was the romance. It wasn’t really.. romantic, I guess, but it felt real, natural. In every LGBT book I’ve read, there’s always some big confrontation before the characters relationship can get started: some realization, some fight with family, something that says ‘this is out of the norm and this book is gonna milk it’. But this book, the relationship just kinda… happened. There wasn’t any fighting from parents, there wasn’t any disowning, there wasn’t any ideological monologue as the main character realized he had feelings for another man… he just accepted it and rolled with it, as did his boyfriend and his family. It was a nice to see an LGBT relationship not put on a pedestal or highlighted as different or bad – it just popped in there like any other relationship would and both characters actually handled it in a mature manner (gasp, no drama!)

So overall, with the pros and cons mentioned above, I liked this book. Didn’t love it, but liked it well enough. So it gets a decent rating from me.

Rating: 3/5 stars

Happy reading. :”D

 
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Posted by on 10/11/2016 in Books, Review

 

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