Tags: fantasy

dore

Brief Review and Brooks deals with being a murderess

After the Alanna debacle I decided to read The Giver.  I know, horrible deprived childhood, should have read it years ago.  I loved it.  I told my mum it was like Brave New World for beginners, and I stick by that.  So, Yay Lois Lowry for being awesome and not having Mary Sues and typos!  (I also ran through Gathering Blue in a couple hours and was filled with awe at how amazing Lowry is.  Now I'm reading Meet a Stranger, Say Goodbye.  New author crush, I has one.)  I'm reading What-The-Dickens too, because, it's Gregory Maguire, and he generally doesn't disappoint.  Will probably do a full write up on that one when I finish it.

Now for a post that doesn't involve books! I just returned from 'hiding out' at my grandfather's farm, which is always fun.  Took me, as usual, a couple days to stop speaking Eastern Kentucky.  For this story to make sense, you have to understand that I adore my papaw.  I've always wanted to be just like him.  Since I can remember, I'd follow him around, doing everything he did, listen to the music he likes, wear trucker hats and frayed button up shirts, chew matchsticks, plow, plant, hunt.  I still try to do everything I can to make him proud, because at 20, I'm still a complete Papaw's girl.  My grandma had a Winchester .22 bolt action rifle.  It stays at pap's house, but it's now my gun.  I can't hit anything. I'm talking couldn't hit the broad side of a barn at five paces, missed hitting the pepsi can 8 feet away from me, stormtrooper bad shooting.  It's a joke in my family, I can't shoot shit.  But I still shoot AT things, I just never expect to hit them.  Sitting on the porch with my grandpa, rubbing the barrell of the rifle, petting the big mutt dog, talking to papaw, and a bunch of blackbirds fly into the walnut tree 20 feet away.  Papaw says take a shot.  So I stand up, take a rest against the post, and let one off.  I hit a bird.  My initial reaction is I HIT IT WOW AWESOME MAN I HIT SOMETHING!!!  I start running out to see if I actually hit a bird, or just knocked leaves off the tree.  I get halfway there, realize that I did, in fact, hit a bird, and start freaking out.  Because I just killed something.  I get to the road where the bird had fallen.  I poked it with my gun, it rolled over, blood on the road. Oh god, it's dead. dead dead dead.  I can see the entry and exit wounds, I shot it, it was alive, now it's dead, because I shot it. Oh holy shit. And my papaw is SO PROUD OF ME. So I had to sit there and pretend I wasn't FREAKING OUT about murdering something while he keeps  telling me how proud he was and how my grandma would've loved to have seen that shot and oh god I killed it.  I kept the rifle shell. The next day, he noticed that I was still carrying it around, said I must have been awfully proud of that shot.  I told him that since I'd never actually hit something again, I ought to keep it.  I didn't tell him I was keeping it to remind me that I killed something, and I should refrain from doing that ever. again.

I also rode a saddle mule.  Yeah. Saddle mule. I don't even know.  I'm scared to death of riding, because I'm a horrible rider. And I fall. But papaw likes it, and I like to make him proud.  So. Saddle mule guys. Saddle. Mule.

There were kittens too.  I liked the kittens.  And Bruster, who is the best dog in the history of the world, even if he killed 2 of the kittens.  He's very Lenny sometimes.  

Also I might have been a horrible person and laughed at Grey's Anatomy yesterday.  But it was more in an I WAS RIGHT I WAS RIGHT I SO CALLED IT kind of way than anything else.
loldog

Book Review - Song of the Lioness Series

Once again I'm doing a reaction post.  I'm thinking this will be common, since I like to analyze things and the few people who indulge me in this aren't always available.  If anyone actually reads this it will, hopefully, be helpful, though I doubt both counts.  Mostly it will just be my sounding board, and a place to check before I decide which books I want to reread.  

That done, this time the book up is actually a series.  Song of the Lioness by Tamora Pierce.  I got the first book, Alanna, on the recommendation of a staff member at B&N (staff picks are a wonderful mixed bag, esp. the YA/Kidlit ones).  Standard fantasy fare--except it's a genderfuck.  Alanna disguises herself as a boy and goes to train as a knight.  It's about what you'd expect, the plot moves fairly well in ways that never actually surprised me.  I did love the cast of secondary characters.  George, the King of Thieves, is a very Solo-esque rogue with a heart of gold.  Coram is a gruff old soldier who drinks too much and sings raunchy songs.  I enjoyed the book, but it wasn't outstanding.  The only big difference between it and any other YA fantasy book was the genderfuck.  But since I am an absolute sucker for a good genderfuck, it worked for me.

The second book had me pulling my hair out.  In the Hand of The Goddess wasn't actually bad plotwise, merely meh.  The editor, however, should be strung up by his toes.  There were typos.  Multiple typos.  There should never be typos in a published work.  I don't think that's the snob in me talking.  I know I'm bad to stop reading a fic when the grammar gets too awful, but come on, this is PUBLISHED.  Think armor is not the same as thick armor, and boiling made is not the same as boiling mad (and furthermore, boiling mad should not appear twice 5 sentences apart, which the author should have caught but the editor was PAID to).  I honestly don't even remember how I felt about the plot because I wanted to red pen the book.  I didn't hate it, but I didn't love it.  By this point the genderfuck alone wasn't enough to pull the weight of the story, and there wasn't much I hadn't seen before in countless other fantasy books.

The Woman Who Rides Like a Man, or as I not so fondly called it, Holy Mary Sue Batman, is the 3rd book in the series.  This one had me twitchy.  Thank the literary gods the editors seemed to have done a better job on surface matters this time, but someone should have pulled the author aside and told her to give Alanna a FLAW.  The girl is PERFECT.  She rides into the bahzir and single handedly 'fixes' thousands of years of female oppression in their culture.  I could have really liked this book, it was a nice change of pace from the courtly setting of the first three, but come on.  If Mary Sue is gonna fix everything can she at least have a flaw?  Just a tiny one please?  Am I the only one who likes complex characters?  Which brings me to an issue the books have as a whole--the characters are one trick ponies.  Aside from Alanna's brother Thom, there are good guys and bad guys and no ambiguity about which is which.  I liked Thom, because I couldn't immediately figure him out.  He was the only grey area character.  And I get that in Kidlit/YA there are clearer lines.  Maybe it's just that I tend towards books where the hero has less than stellar morals and the villian is sympathetic, but give your audience some credit.  Kids and especially young adults can pick up subtlety, guessing at whether a character will end up a good guy or bad guy is half the fun. More fun is when the lines between good guys and bad guys are blurred and you get actual neutral guys!  

By the time I got to Lioness Rampant I honestly just wanted it to be over.  Started the series, have to finish it, even though I liked each book less than the last.  Nothing in it shocked me, I had guessed all the plot twists halfway through the last book, and no one of importance died.  That last part sounds weird, I know.  But coming off of His Dark Materials where a whole lot of main players end up dead in the realistic portrayal of an all out war, it was disappointing.  And Im not saying characters need to die to make a point, but in a major battle where the good guys win and the bad guys lose and the only person to die had been introduced in that book?  Smacked of a cop-out to me.  But by that point I was disillusioned with the books anyway.  

Unlike His Dark Materials, where I was less than pleased with the ending but loved the books as a whole, I wouldn't really rec these to anyone unless they really loved genderfucks or cut and dry fantasy.  Maybe to a younger kid just getting in to it... actually no, I'd give them Narnia and Golden Compass.

Man, I'm going to be so happy when (if) I do a review of The Giver.  I'll get to write one that doesn't end with "I was disillusioned/disappointed"!

narnia

Book Review - The Amber Spyglass

So I'm assuming anybody actually reading this knows about my love for YA lit/kid lit.  I finally got around to reading His Dark Materials series this semester.  I powered through The Golden Compass and The Subtle Knife in about a week, loving every minute.  The books had great pacing, amazing detail, the plot was well thought out, the characters were engaging; it was everything I could ask for in a novel.  I did have some serious issues with Will.  As a character I adored him, but he came into the second book and usurped Lyra as protagonist.  Maybe it's the side of me that sat for 3 weeks in a Women and Gender Studies Class, but that bothered me a lot.  Sure the girl is important, until the boy comes along, and then she's playing second fiddle.  And maybe I'm biased because I loved Lyra to pieces, but either way, I wasn't entirely cool with that move.  

The Amber Spyglass was just as engaging as the first two books.  Until I got to the end.  I'll try to be vague enough not to spoil, because I think everyone should read these books and it's nicer going in blind.  Throughout the whole books, you're told that Lyra is playing Eve in this big metaphor.  Specifically stated many times. Lyra = Eve.  Lyra is going to fall to temptation, and depending on who you are, this is either a very good thing or a very bad thing.  So the good people try to protect her and the bad guys try to kill her.  Mary Malone, introduced in the second book, is the temptress.  Again, explicitly stated multiple time.  Mary = Snake.  And there is supposed to be some event where Mary tempts Lyra, Lyra falls, and this sets the entire universe back to rights.  Big. Plot. Point.  Giant one even.  I didn't think it paid off at all.  To me, the ending felt like a cop out.  I could only see Mary as a temptress if I squinted and turned the book sideways.  I don't think I should have to do that when Mary = Temptress is a Big. Fucking. Deal.  The event that magically fixes everything in the world was seriously anti-climatic.  I'm reading it and going, that's it? Seriously? And I saw it coming.  In these books I did see some plot twists, but this one was so obvious I can barely call it a twist.  I left the book feeling cheated.  There was this huge build up to a single event and it was ... meh.  Maybe if the rest of the books weren't so good, subtle, thought out, intricate, this wouldn't have bothered me as much.  It really sucks to leave a book feeling disappointed.  Granted, it's possible that the whole thing was a reader error and I just failed at seeing things the way Pullman intended, but I still felt let down in the end.  

With all that said, I would still highly reccomend this trilogy to anyone. 

And yes, I recognize the lols in using a Narnia icon in a post talking about His Dark Materials.