Sunday, November 24, 2013

BR: More Than This

by Patrick Ness

Usually there'd be a bit more fanfare from me surrounding Patrick Ness' newest book, but it's been a while and I'm just dusting off this blog.

I finished this book a few weeks ago, and I typed out this review on my phone... yes, on my phone, and then I posted it onto Goodreads. And now it's on my blog. Such a delay obviously indicates my laziness, I think.

Summary (goodreads)

A boy named Seth drowns, desperate and alone in his final moments, losing his life as the pounding sea claims him. But then he wakes. He is naked, thirsty, starving. But alive. How is that possible? He remembers dying, his bones breaking, his skull dashed upon the rocks. So how is he here? And where is this place? It looks like the suburban English town where he lived as a child, before an unthinkable tragedy happened and his family moved to America. But the neighborhood around his old house is overgrown, covered in dust, and completely abandoned. What’s going on? And why is it that whenever he closes his eyes, he falls prey to vivid, agonizing memories that seem more real than the world around him? Seth begins a search for answers, hoping that he might not be alone, that this might not be the hell he fears it to be, that there might be more than just this...

My Thoughts

I'm currently sitting in bed having finally turned that last page I didn't want to turn.

Firstly, no spoilers. And if you haven't read the book, I suggest you to not read anything about it and go into it blind-- it's best that way.

So... More Than This. It's good. It's not perfect, there's a few bumps, and I think it warrants a second reading because I need a bit more time to make sense of it. I'll admit that I sometimes felt like I was missing a piece, like there was this punch line I wasn't getting. And it's weird to say that because I wasn't reading this book inattentively, I just think my brain is still catching up with the questions posed by the book.

This book has such a fantastic premise, it chugs along full of mystery and suspense, and it's one of this books where you keep reading even though you're 150 pages in and haven't really encountered a single other character. But you KNOW there's something stirring below the surface, and you KNOW as things start bubbling up, it's going to be worth it. And it definitely is.

The secondary characters are beautifully drawn, diverse, and compelling. They were crafted incredibly well and more than once tugged at my heart strings. Seth was fascinating in his own way, he has this past that I was desperate to find out more, and as Ness teased his fate, I could feel my skin tingling. As his backstory unfolded...damn.

There's a lot of questions raised about life and existence, which was one aspect I really loved. The plot was twisty for sure, and it makes you question a lot of what you know.

But the book isn't perfect. I had some issues with the pacing and The Driver (who I think deserves some philosophical thought or whatever, because I want to believe he's more than a faceless thing but I can't quite grasp the analogy yet...I'm not very smart). The writing though, is top-notch, I wouldn't expect anything less. It felt like a bit of the immediacy seeped through from the Chaos Walking trilogy, but it's nevertheless powerful.

I had this thought though, as I was reading. I kept thinking "this is a book that could save someone", it's subtle but it's hopeful, it doesn't shy away from terrible things, but it also presents life as more than what we make of it, more than what we are blinded by in the present. I'm not sure if I'm having a crazy thought, did those of you who read it think the same thing? It's thought-provoking and satisfying, unique, mysterious, and has an ending leaving me wanting just a little bit more. 


Rating in HP Terms: Exceeds Expectations
Recommended for: I dunno, all of you? ;)
Acknowledgements: none (tsk tsk)

source: library
author twitter / website

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

BR: Across a Star-Swept Sea

by Diana Peterfreund
companion novel to For Darkness Shows the Stars

This was one of my most anticipated books of the YEAR. I have unrestrained adoration for For Darkness Shows the Stars, and to say I was excited for this companion novel with such an interesting premise is a gross implication.

Summary (goodreads)

Centuries after wars nearly destroyed civilization, the two islands of New Pacifica stand alone, a terraformed paradise where even the Reduction—the devastating brain disorder that sparked the wars—is a distant memory. Yet on the isle of Galatea, an uprising against the ruling aristocrats has turned deadly. The revolutionaries’ weapon is a drug that damages their enemies’ brains, and the only hope is rescue by a mysterious spy known as the Wild Poppy.

On the neighboring island of Albion, no one suspects that the Wild Poppy is actually famously frivolous aristocrat Persis Blake. The teenager uses her shallow, socialite trappings to hide her true purpose: her gossipy flutternotes are encrypted plans, her pampered sea mink is genetically engineered for spying, and her well-publicized new romance with handsome Galatean medic Justen Helo… is her most dangerous mission ever.

Though Persis is falling for Justen, she can’t risk showing him her true self, especially once she learns he’s hiding far more than simply his disenchantment with his country’s revolution and his undeniable attraction to the silly socialite he’s pretending to love. His darkest secret could plunge both islands into a new dark age, and Persis realizes that when it comes to Justen Helo, she’s not only risking her heart, she’s risking the world she’s sworn to protect.

My Thoughts

It was so good. My opinion may be completely clouded by a lot of factors-- for one, I desperately wanted to love it. I wanted to love it, not "I wanted it to be good'... I think there's a difference there. But yes, I did really love it and there's so many reasons and I don't really feel like spelling them out.

A few points first, because I want to be fair and not completely biased. There was definitely some heavy-handed writing, a LOT of "tell not show", especially when it came to trying to portray Justen's view of Persis. I understand why Peterfreund approached it this way, to show the actual growth of the character and how his opinions change, but it felt very forced at times. Entire pages of exposition dedicated to his less-than-ideal view of the heroine. Also, and it saddens me to say, but the "cameo" didn't particularly impress me. But perhaps I was just swept up with the Persis's story and didn't want the detour. It also takes a few chapters to get into the groove of things and make sense of this world-- the Reduced, Regs, Aristos.. a lot of it was kind of overwhelming at the beginning and hard to make sense of.

Okay, onto the good things. PERSIS BLAKE I LOVE YOU. So much. In a similar way that I fell for Elliot North, I felt she was such a stunning, worthy character. Perhaps a bit too awesome/perfect at times, but DAMN all you shitty movie writers out there, THIS IS A FUCKING BADASS STRONG LADY HEROINE. We need more Persis Blakes in the world. She's complicated, alarmingly smart, brave, capable... it's kind of impossible not to admire her. I loved her relationship with Justen (it felt very Pride and Prejudice at times, which was an odd observation but nevertheless an appreciative one), as well has her relationship with the Princess, her parents, and Wild Poppy (heh). I wish there were a few more action scenes, kissing scenes*, and I won't say no to more badassery, and I also appreciated the political game as well (although sometimes it felt a tad clunky).

I'm pretty much fangirling a character, people. Take note.

The writing was well done, and I did enjoy the fact that readers get multiple points of view but not in an obtrusive manner. The adored the descriptions-- the clothes, the people, the sea cave, the glamour, the clothes (yes, honestly)... they all came together to make this book that much more engrossing. And I was desperate to see how Persis' adventures would go. PS- science in books = two thumbs up!

Rating in HP Terms: Exceeds Expectations
Recommended for: everyone! whee! spread the happiness!
Acknowledgements: awesome! 4/5

8.8/10- because I'll admit, I'm probably kind of biased, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't take me seriously when I say that this book is great and you should read it ;) It's definitely not perfect (and on an objective scale, the rating would probably be lower), but it was exactly what I wanted at the time, and well, I liked Persis a lot and I want to raid her closet.

The point of this review: Persis is effing awesome.

*when do I ever say "more kissing scenes"? This book is pretty special...

source: library
Author twitter / website / blog