Thursday, January 30, 2014

Review of The Iron King by Julie Kagawa, or, Maybe The Whole Book Should Have Been About Grimalkin

This is a novel I liked better as it progressed. I don’t think it’ll ever be a volume I return to time and again, but it was an entertaining read for my daily train ride (even if I did try to hide the cover a bit so my fellow commuters wouldn't judge me).

There were characters I thought were done well, and characters that lacked sparkle. Overall, I found Meghan to be disappointing and her dialogue unimaginative. I also didn’t like how inconsistent she was. Maybe it’s just part of being a teenager, but I didn’t appreciate how she wished for designer jeans, then bashed girls who did dress nicely, to later defy the court by wearing her human clothes only to feel self conscious and insignificant moments later. Make up your mind, girl! If you’re going to be defiant and comfortable in your skin, then do it! Stop recanting each time you see someone better dressed or more attractive than you!

My favorite characters were minor characters. The Packrats stole my heart, and I knew I would be entertained when Grimalkin was in a scene. The author must be a cat-owner, because she totally captured the attitude of a cat- independent and self-important; I loved it.

Makes you want to visit the SPCA and adopt, doesn't it? 
I really didn’t get into the plot until we learned about the Iron King. Before that, it felt really aimless and drifting. It felt like a series of misadventures without any real focus or direction. It was tiring to read about something dreadful happening, Meghan being rescued, something else dreadful happening. I also really hope we find out why Meghan is so special. The king doesn’t really seem to care one twit about her. And if she’s the undoing of an entire race of people, you’d think the Iron King would just send faeries to mate with humans and there’s a whole army of halflings.

That being said, I was impressed with the author’s handle on faerie mythology. It’s so not what I thought when I was a kid (Tinkerbell). It’s dark and sadistic. While I must admit I liked the dark stuff, it was really strange to me that the topics didn’t feel to fit the voice. This felt like it was written for a 14 or 15 year old. The voice felt very young, very accessible, very innocent, and then there’s casual discussion of gang rape (not once, but TWICE in the course of the novel) and the queen being “denied a consort.” Jeez. Those are some pretty adult things. It really bothered me that her near-gang-rape was brushed off so easily. Yes, she was saved, but that is a VERY traumatic experience. It also concerned me that she’s so wrapped up in Ash that she can recover from such an interaction. It felt unrealistic and disrespectful to me. 

Applies to humans, fairies, and halflings.
But that’s just one girl’s opinion.

What do you think? Have you read The Iron King? Are the sequels worth reading? Were you also disappointed that the fairie race lacks racial diversity? 



Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Top Ten Worlds I'd Never Want to Live In and Characters I'd Never Want to Trade Places With

While there are a number of fictional boyfriends I'd like to steal, there aren't a lot of fantasy worlds I'd actually want to live in, or lives I'd want to trade with ficitonal people. Here is a list of 5 people and 5 places that I am very happy to keep in fiction!


Get thee to a nunnery!
At least you have a fabulous hat
 Mercedes from Count of Monte Cristo by Alexander Dumas
Because while she gets a tolerably happy ending in the movie, but in the book, she’s sent to a nunnery while Edmond sails into the sunset with a sexy slave-child-woman.

See him in theaters in March!
Tobais Eaton from Divergent Series by Veronica Roth
Because *SPOILER ALERT* I just can’t see him ever being really happy or fulfilled after what happened. *SPOILERS DONE*

credit to izzibelle at Deviant Art
Hazel Grace from The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
Because *SPOILERS* not only are you dying of cancer, but you watch the love of your life succumb to cancer? That’s as awful as life gets, unless you’re Katniss Everdeen who watches everyone die. *SPOILERS DONE*

Lily Bart from The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton
Because who doesn’t love a story where following your heart causes you to lose social status, friends, money, health, EVERYTHING?

I've always pictured Kaya as Mara
Mara Dyer from the Mara Dyer Series by Michelle Hodkin
Because despite the delightful and delicious Noah to stand by her side, that is some dark, messed up stuff she is experiencing (and in my head I replaced “messed up” and “stuff” with other choice words).


Panem from the Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Because I would definitely be picked, and I would probably die of an anxiety attack or heart attack before I even made it to the arena.

The Colonies from Legend Series by Marie Lu
Because even worse than living in a military state is living in an entirely commercial state where money makes the world turn and people literally sell themselves to advertising (which, come to think of it, is not all too different from how we live now).

Future Portland, Maine from Delirium by Lauren Oliver
Because a world or life where you can’t feel any emotion at all is an empty one. 

The Utopia in Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
Because everyone is overstimulated, but nothing is real. And children having sex play is just an upsetting image.

Okay, so a map of Antion doesn't exist (yet)
This is a medieval map of Japan
Antion from Defy by Sara Larson
Because breeding houses. ‘Nough said.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Review of Just One Day by Gayle Forman Or, Forman: Master of Characterization

Gayle Forman has yet to disappoint me. I find myself much less interested in what happens as whom it happens to. This author has a real gift for creating well-rounded, believable characters. 

I want to be on a European train when I look at this cover
In a short time, I get to know her characters really well. How long did we spend with Babs? Or Wren? Or Dee? And yet these minor characters are as vivid (sometimes more vivid) than main characters I've spent an entire series with. And this is because Gayle Forman writes characters, not vessels that the reader just injects themselves into. This technique makes it very frustrating when a character makes a decision I would not make. This character is supposed to be me, but I'm not that stupid! When Allyson frustrated me (or her mother, or Melanie, or Celine, etc.) I at least knew why she was choosing what she chose. Because she is her own character. Forman has given me enough background to understand Allyon's thought process and appreciate her feelings.

I'm also deeply impressed by Allyson's character evolution. I've read books where the author tries to show her character has evolved and changed based on her experiences, but it feels sudden; out of place; forced. I hate that. Nothing about Allyson felt forced. She still failed. She backed down. but we could sense her growing resistance and frustration, so when she finally spoke out against her mother (not, perhaps, in the most tactful way, but definitely in an understandable way) it felt so right. Her actions had been building over the course of the novel. Forman laid solid foundation for Allyon's evolution.

While I'm a sucker for romance, it made me so happy that the focus of the book was on self-discovery. Sure, the catalyst was that day in Paris with Willem, but Allyson was very aware throughout the novel that she was very much searching for Lulu; she was searching for herself. Maybe it's because that's the place I'm in my life. I have this really deep urge to get out, go away, see what's out there. I deeply desire to travel by myself and therefore have a deeper understanding of myself. I found that very satisfying in this novel. (Sidenote: in many ways this novel makes me think of The Alchemist- listening to the universe! You will fave adversity, but the universe will give you the signs and nudges and help to make your dreams come true! But you need to be willing to put in the effort and pay the consequences.)

I am so glad I read this book now and not a few months ago. I'm not sure I could wait that long for the sequel. As it is I am waiting impatiently for the library to present me with a borrowed copy! My guess: Willem had another run-in with the skinheads.

Not to judge a book by it's cover, but I would NOT want a
run- in with these gents


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