Read: April 29, 2012
The average of all the individual stars was 3.6, but I rounded up.
Just a small disclaimer, I have nothing against gay/lesbian/bi/etc. couples, I am critiquing the writing only.
This book had the “brave” and some of the “new”, but love was lacking in some of the stories. Please be aware that five of these stories do have gay/lesbian/bi themes so if you don’t like it, skip those stories. They will be noted in the individual reviews below.
HIDDEN RIBBON by John Shirley
4.5 stars- Good world building, a fast paced story, and a sweet romance. Classic dystopian world with a sealed bubble that only the elite can live and thrive in and the rest of the contaminated world for the rest of them. Girl gets invited in, boy loves her and can’t go, and conflict ensues.
THE SALT SEA AND THE SKY by Elizabeth Bear
2.5 stars- Two girls, in a world where women are only allowed to procreate with a man or run away. The main character only has her heart set on running away and seemingly is indifferent to Shaun, the love of her life. Shaun proclaims her love to Billie several more times, but the characters were flat and the situation was further exacerbated by cliched lesbian stereotypes. The story just didn’t have a very strong foundation.
IN THE CLEARING by Kiera Cass
4.5 stars- A great dystopian society coupled with a group that has essentially “defected” made for a great short story. This rogue group have made themselves ‘Borrowers’ of a sort by taking essentials from the proper society. This story could definitely become a novel, even if the idea was already written in UNDER THE NEVER SKY. Great character building in such a small allotment of pages.
OTHERWISE by Nisi Shawl
3.5 stars- Gritty and rough, two lesbians (one bi) plan an escape to a safe compound to find Aim’s boyfriend. Oh, and they randomly pick up a kid. Being dropped in mid-story doesn’t help matters and it kept me confused until the end. However, there are no lesbian stereotypes and the “in your face” characters were endearing. As far as dystopians go, there’s no clear reason why the world fell apart and in this case a reason would really help the story.
NOW PURPLE WITH LOVE’S WOUND- Carrie Vaughn
3.5 stars- A very dull and overused storyline, this story is not distinctly dystopian. A middle class girl is chosen to be the wife of the Warlord’s son. The question is, was she made to love him by serum or has she always loved him? The son’s a wimp, lamenting about how he loves her but can’t trust her love is real. The girl, meanwhile, dangerously explores ways to prove her love, yadda yadda. Dull, cliched, and had me rooting for no one’s happiness.
BERSERKER EYES by Maria V. Snyder
5 stars- I have always loved Maria V. Snyder’s stories, and this one is no exception. We’re thrown right in the thick of things and the story unfolds with the perfect amount of information given at just the right times. There’s great world building in such a short span of “time” and beautifully polished characters. The characters are deliciously dark and brooding and the story is constructed wonderfully.
AROSE FROM POETRY by Steve Berman
2 stars- Another unfortunate gay couple built of stereotypes. The story started out promising with a strong lead named Tetch, but it was negated completely by weak and wimpy Allard who is young, privileged, and pretty and that’s pretty much it. Very short and not very sweet, the kiss at the end is overshadowed by the very unbelieveable “whoah, even though I’m a teen, I have all of a sudden realized I’m gay RIGHT AT THIS MOMENT and this has never occurred to me before!” Come on, please.
RED by Amanda Downum
4.5 stars- A lesbian couple comprised of one human and one zombie. I sense a new and promising story! There’s fantastic world building and characterization with a few major stereotypical relationships thrown in. I actually enjoyed this spin.
FOUNDLINGS by Diana Peterfreund
4 stars- Twin sisters, one pregnant and one not. Mix in a hot young male agent and a freaky government spy program for young unwed teens, and this could go several directions. Good characterization and decent, plausible actions made for a good read.
SEEKERS IN THE CITY by Jeanne DuPrau
4 stars- Two pre-teens catch a glimpse of one another and make it their mission to find each other once more. Sweet, but a little juvenile and pointless lacking a moving plot like her previous novel (which I loved) THE CITY OF EMBER.
THE UP by Nina Kiriki Hoffman
4 stars- A civilization living underground can’t sustain their lifestyle and must leave their settlement to go above ground to survive is a bit of a worn plot, but this story has some unique sparks to it. The fact that there is communication between other settlements is new, as is the knowledge of the above world. There are careful inbreeding rules enforced that made the plot a bit more realistic (honestly, you’d think that most dystopian writers don’t think through their worlds). This story is mostly a compilation of previously used ideas, but it was a good read nonetheless.
THE DREAM EATER by Carrie Ryan
4.5 stars- Dark and confusing, the main male character is in love with the Cruce, a girl chosen to come every night and take any memories associated with pain or shame from the entire settlement. She’s disgusting and horrible, yet every night the male lead remembers he loved this girl before she became the Cruce, just for a moment before it’s taken from him. Good, but confusing.
357 by Jesse Karp
4 stars- Brilliant world building but super confusing, the protagonist falls in love with a girl who may or may not exist and goes in search of her in the building where each floor is inaccessible from the rest. There are 357 known floors and secrets abound.
ERIC AND PAN by William Sleator
2.5 stars- One of the lamest stories in this entire anthology. This story is also about two gay boys who sneak around and see each other secretly. That’s it. No clear worldly civilization distress, just two flat characters making gaga eyes at each other. Disappointing.
THE EMPTY POCKET by Seth Cadin
2 stars- I honestly could not make heads or tails out of this story. I just know it involves minds, computers, and deserts. I couldn’t even find the love or the bravery.
Format: Hardback from the library
Read: June 2, 2012
I have had my eye on this book for a while and, seeing as my summer vacation has begun, I checked it out at the library. The synopsis was interesting if a little cliched, so I gave it a chance. Luckily, this book was a fairly strong hit!
Charlie, our heroine, was independent and didn’t take crap from anyone which is always a good foundation to begin with. She was loyal to a fault to her silent but adorable four-year-old sister and did a very good job hiding her talent of understanding languages she shouldn’t know. Brooklyn her best friend was a shallow girl with depth; she didn’t feel like a bunch of cliches thrown together and she complimented Charlie very well.
However, though I loved the romance, it was just too flat. I felt that it was a beautiful and lyrical story covered with a thin veneer of grime that didn’t let through all the shine. Plus, the villain was lacking. That could have been because we hardly got to see about the queen, but I just wasn’t fearing for anyone’s life from her. I get it; she’s ancient and big and bad and has magic that can kill, but I was left asking “so what?”. There were also weird random chapters from either Max’s or the Queen’s perspective in the third person (as opposed to first person with Charlie’s chapters) which were nice, but not consistent and, like I mentioned, not in the first person. It didn’t ruin the flow of the book too much, but didn’t exactly add too much to it either. Most of Max’s chapters happened before you really knew or cared about him and the effect was kind of wasted.
It was a bit predictable and wasn’t anything super wowing and going where no dystopian has before, but it was a good ride. If there is a sequel, I will read it. But it didn’t make much of an impression. A good two or three day read while waiting for a new summer release.
Read: May 16, 2012
I was provided this book in exchange for a review and am not being paid to share my wit and wisdom, etc.
So I was super excited about this book. Mostly because the title brings to mind so many interesting scenarios. None of my imagined plots ever came to fruitation, of course, but the book is just as good as I wanted it to be. Prior reviews have labeled the “voice” spot on as a spoof of Mark Twain’s HUCKLEBERRY FINN in language and description. The author draws on his Georgia roots with folk sayings and accent-spelled spelled words which pleases me to no end because I am also from Georgia and the folks around here seem to be captured in this book’s spirit.
Grady grew up knowing he wasn’t what Floyd told him he was. An orphan and described in delightfully picturesque words as ugly, Grady tells his story in a series of short chapters that are captivating and a day or a few months can elapse between. This kept the story fast paced while still keeping the beautiful simplicity of Grady’s personality and perspective on life. Grady’s world is a world similar to our own, but almost paralleled to the Georgia swamps all the way up to the Appalachian Mountains. This makes for an easy transition from my world to Grady’s, a fact that the author did so seamlessly that I didn’t notice why I loved the book so much until I really thought on it.
This book has been deemed “Christian” although it does not have any religious qualities to it. This is simply because it’s a good “clean” book; it does not have curse words, bad themes (other than lying and being a charlatan), and has Grady struggling with being truthful to who he is and pleasing Floyd his parental figure. It will be a book that I will keep to read to my children when they are in elementary school. Touching on the same feeling as THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA, THE CHARLATAN’S BOY is a definite treasure I stumbled upon accidentally and I am so pleased that I did!
Read: May 9, 2012
I wasn’t very impressed with this book as DIVERGENT. Granted, I read DIVERGENT over a year ago, but I don’t remember the characters being so… flat. Tris was suffering PTSD the entire book, with good reason, but the spark that made the characters come to life and envelop me wasn’t there. I don’t know what happened between this book and the previous one, but while it was good enough to read, I tore through it desperate to prove to myself that it was me and not the book that was lacking.
I understand the liberties the author took in not “recapping” what happened, and it was very nice not to waste thirty or so pages doing that, but I also think that you can transition better than that. The entire time Tris was in her own mind (which did get annoying, but at least it was accurate) I wanted to slap Four and ask him exactly when he became lackluster and started to be distant. I found myself just simply not caring, no matter how much I struggled against that feeling.
Four stars because it is decent, long, and does give you a little reward for reading it. There’s reconciliation, tiny bits of character building, and some new characters I found I liked. But it was just a book that left me with little memory of what I read, even though I read it as slowly as I could stand.
Read if you liked DIVERGENT and hope that you feel the same good vibe I do for the next book, because otherwise it would be such a shame to waste such potential.
Read: May 16, 2012
Release Date: July 2012
I got this copy free in exchange for a review from Library Thing.
This book was in a lot of ways what I expected and also not what I expected. I expected it to be gritty, action-packed, and for there to be a love triangle. Kaya starts out dangerously close to being a damsel in distress but shies away from it by barely a hair’s breadth. The book starts out weak, but don’t give up hope until she’s at the Academy for a little bit before you pass judgement. Between tough-as-nails Maddox, Kaya’s babysitter/guardian, and Trayton, you really see that Kaya isn’t just some pushover heroine.
I didn’t expect, however, for the book to be both action-filled and dragging. Training in secret with a hot off-limits Unskilled is about as risque as the book goes in terms of not conforming to society and working to ensure Kaya’s Barron parents’ safety. In between these forays, there’s a bunch of sitting in class and Kaya holding her anger about the discrimination of Healers versus Barrons which was so close to being a turn off. I was left knowing that Kaya was a bit of a hothead when it came to her beliefs, but not the why. Yes, she did grow up around Unskilled with two Barrons for parents (unheard of and illegal; usually a pair is a Healer and a Barron) so I understand that aspect of her life but for her to buck against anything and everything about the Skilled for such a strong but flimsy reason didn’t really do it for me. I found myself fussing at her in my mind whenever she mouthed off because I didn’t really feel for her cause.
The book is written fairly well, with good solid bases for the characters and some light humor and rebellion. However, I just wasn’t sure I followed where some of the leaps of logic the characters decided upon came from. It wasn’t a deterrent, and I certainly liked the book very well so it is most likely me being a little more critical than normal, but I just wanted a little more.
Enough to keep it on my shelf and eagerly await the next installment (called Soulbroken in case you were interested) and lend it to some friends for sure. A good adventure that sidesteps the worn ideas of “healing with a touch” be it magical or not. There is no easy solution, and this book delves into that caveat.
So in the past week I have finished three finals, moved home for the summer, and saw my brother sing a solo in the chorus show at my high school. I have also read three books. But I have not written reviews yet, so this will have to suffice.
Okay, so I will have reviews soon. It’s summer for me, and summer means books and cleaning. Thank you for not giving up on me. Though if you have, don’t tell me.