Palo Alto, CA, United States | Member Since 2011
It's a great achievement to create a sequel that outshines the first installment. Ms. Carriger achieved this momentous feat in comical,endearing, and at times, heartbreaking perfection. The narrator and this story melt together like cheese and toast. Loved it, can't say enough good things.
Oh, how to address this one?
Okay, let's start with the writing. And I'm not talking here about the mechanics of plot, characterizations, etc. I'm talking about lining up words like ants and making them work, work, work. In this way, the writing worked, worked, worked. Mafi uses words like Di Vinci used paint. It's utterly beautiful. She's a maestro of metaphors, a savant of simile. In every chapter, there were at least ten turn of phrases that could be framed and hung in a gallery. I'd put her ability to make language her minion right up there with Fitzgerald's. At times, she transcends the borders of poetry and prose.
In that other kind of writing, the one that involves tone and progression and conflict... That one wasn't as clear. I kept thinking the whole book about this beautiful bouquet of verbal roses she brought to the table, and kept picturing her trying them out in different vases. She just couldn't find the right shape to hold her art. This book seemed confused about what it wanted to be. It's not that I'm opposed to genre-bending, but I don't think it worked here. It was like, as readers, we kept driving on in the same car through different microclimates, and suddenly discovering we didn't dress in layers. Is it the examination of a girl's psychological state? Is it a dystopian adventure? An environmental manifesto? A teen romance? A superhero action/adventure tale? It just couldn't seem to decide, rather trying to be all of them and succeeding in being none.
Plus there's the fact that Juliette, while basically socially isolated for at least three years, physically isolated for almost a year, and shunned her entire life due to her gift/curse, comes off as way too mature, knowledgeable, and aware of what's going on around her. She gives us occasional background on how her society ended up where it is, on the events leading to it, yet it's not clear how she would have knowledge of such things. Despite having no more than a middle-school education, she has an exceptional vocabulary that exceeds many literary scholars. There's clearly been a complete breakdown of society including massive death and destruction, but I couldn't buy that things transformed so dramatically, so quickly, and were reestablished in such short order. A lot more time needed to be spent here on world building.
In all, I'm intrigued enough to add the second book to my TBR list, but I sigh when I think how this book could have been so much more than what it was. Mafi's gift for language, however, will keep me reading no matter what.
AUDIOBOOK NOTES: EXCELLENT narrator on this. However, given the specialized format of text I've now discovered was used in the print book, I'm not sure it adapted well to audio. The strike-through approach particularly didn't translate well. There really should have been an adapted script for the audio production, or a more experimental use of audio special effects.
It starts out slow, but builds nicely. A good alternative historical work, massaging a bit of fantasy among facts. My only disappointment was that the author developed so few characters, that when the villain is revealed, it's no surprise, nor are his motives at all a mystery to the reader.
Audiobook notes: the reader was well suited to the text. I enjoyed her performance.
Ladies and Gentlemen, this book has been sold to us all wrong. Show of hands: who among you has heard mention of either The Iliad or The Odyssey and rolled your eyes over yet another "classic" work of fiction forced on unsuspecting high school students meant to bore us into submission? Dudes, this is seriously one of the most exciting books I've ever read. It's practically a ... Um, who's the current go-to action hero actor? Anyways, this is the movie he would star in. It's like if you took Quentin Tarantino to ancient Greece, told him to find inspiration, then let him go gonzo on the script without limits.
What's weird is that I thought I hadn't read this, somehow escaping it through my academic career. What I realized later was that I had read parts of it in my "Gender in the Classical World" honors lit class my freshman year of college. (I remembered only when I came on the tale of Circe. I remember having a quiz on this and failing horribly, because I didn't understand the context, but let's not go into a discussion of how poorly my high school prepared its students for the world of higher education.) Even then, I didn't enjoy the book, because the focus was on analyzing. No fault on the instructor; that's appropriate for a college course. But seriously, I feel like I missed out on taking in a landscape painting by a master, because someone blotted out all the canvas excepting a single blade of grass.
I have to admit, there were a few points that made me cringe as a modern reader, but one has to remind themselves that Homer reflected the values and morals of his time, not mine. Still, it was hard to stomach that Penelope is exalted for her commitment to Odysseus, remaining true to him for twenty years. Meantime Odysseus while trying to get home to her has no qualms about being sexed up by whatever goddess or nymph takes a fancy to him, and that's considered okay. Different times, different expectations...
You know why Homer has been passed down and survived through the centuries? Not because he gives us a picture into an ancient culture, religion, and history. Not because of its consequential anthropological richness. Not even because of its lyric quality for those who can read it in its original tongue. (ee cummings proved that language could be beautiful for beauty's sake without being purposeful.) It's because it's one hell of a story, and takes you on one-- actually numerous thrilling, epic adventures.
AUDIOBOOK notes: Ian McKellen's rendition was superior. However, I can't give the audiobook performance in whole 5 stars due to production value. This seriously needs to be remastered. It was obviously adopted for digital format from a copy of the tape production. Numerous times between chapters there was a huge change in the audio quality (getting softer, slowing down, sounding warped, etc.) There were even a few parts where there were "hiccups" in the flow, ie where a few words blotted out.
How the Hades does she weave such fantastical prose? Another knock out installment of the intelligent, engaging series.
What a humbling story. It was a little difficult to get into the book at first, as it was hard to think of it as the voice of a teenager. It's obvious the co-writer played a heavy hand in structuring much of the historical context. However, the narrative of Ms. Yousafzai comes through strong enough that one is left with an undeniable impression of how valiant her cause is.
Audiobook: I appreciated that the reader selected for this production was a native voice of the region from which Ms. Yousafzai comes. Her ability to effortless present terms and mention places which gave her no qualm made the narrative liquid and flowing. It also was good that the producers chose not to placate the western ear by choosing a reader with an American or British accent. I believe something would have been lost if they had.
Hoover has a nearly unparalleled ability to write intimacy and a scope for treating the tragic with tenderness. Very dark, not meant for readers looking for something uplifting. But, if you're looking for something that shows the power of love to heal, this pins the tail on that donkey. I did keep coming back to two issues, though: no matter how much I tried, and no matter what the two MCs went through that forced them to grow up young, I still questioned that they could have that much maturity and wisdom. Especially Skye. Being that's she's had such an isolated life, I found it difficult to accept she carried such wisdom of the world. Also, some dialog, particularly near the end where the last threads were tied up, sounded very unnatural and as though the characters were speaking in essay form.
Skye's friend, Brecken(Spelling?), seemed to be an afterthought by the end of the book. He was my favorite secondary character, and I really enjoyed the scenes in which he appeared.
Still, one hell of a book, written by one hell of a woman.
Audiobook notes: The performance on this was good to very good, but where the book had a flashback scene spoken first person by Sky as a child, she made her voice so stereotypical little girl sappy it sounded like she was using baby talk. These chapters are few and brief. She did, however, put in a powerful performance with Holder. It's difficult for a woman to pull of a sexy male lead sometimes, but definitely not the case here.
Mysterious and intriguing, Hunter continues to wow in this book, giving us a strong heroine with her own mind, own faults, and own agenda. Picking up some five years after the events of A Hidden Fire, the scintillating librarian has rebuilt her life in Southern California after Gio's presence becomes by mere proxy. Though she continues friendships with others she's met during her experience in World V, she grows frustrated with Gio's absence. When he finally does walk back into her life, her stewing erupts into a full-on boiling mess. As Gio and B work to come together again as couple, Lorenzo's maleficent deeds tug around the edges of their circle of friends, bringing with it both death, and a determination for justice. Meanwhile, Gio makes it clear to Beatrice that he's interested in her for the long haul, that he wants her to be with him forever. A host of new characters and revisits by others add elegance and intrigue, culminating with Beatrice's emergence as a Damsel that can cause others some serious distress. A fantastic series for anyone who wants their mystery and mythic creatures cut with a slice of passion and romance.
Holy hell. What a brilliant piece of writing, a great balance of mystery and romance. Intellectually and emotionally strong characters, a well developed slow burn (no pun) romance, and side characters with depth and perception and purpose. I may be Elizabeth Hunter's newest and most dedicated fangirl. I downloaded the sequel at 4 AM. I couldn't wait.
Highly recommended, and in fact already have recommended it. This story didn't shy away from intelligent, three-dimensional characters who act sometimes irrationally and don't get held up in romance formata and shelf fodder.
Mr. Morgan's voicing of Gabriel was spot on.
I had only one complaint on this recording: I feel that occasionally Mr. Morgan read aloud directive notes that were in the script only to inform his performance. Listening to a romance read by a deep-voiced man gave me pause, but the performance was very engaging in whole.
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