Showing posts tagged 2 STAR

Lord of the Flies by William Golding

3 stars

Children, Violence, Society, Leadership

A bunch of English schoolboys wind up marooned on an island and have to learn to fend for themselves, which starts by meaning a signal fire and ends in slaughter. They manage to maintain order for a short time before turning violent and feral. ¬†Much like the boys on the island, your two reviewers disagree on this book: one didn’t really care for any of the characters and thought their behavior was frustrating and overly gruesome. The other found it to be exactly the sort of thing she imagines would happen in this small world scenario — the troublemakers gang up on the reasonable thinkers and the whole thing goes to hell in a handbasket, which sounds an awful lot like history. This classroom staple tends to be a divisive one, but in the end Golding does an incredible job of crafting an island, building distinct characters, creating a parable, and then rubbing those characters together until he made fire.

(Source: ihopetheyhavebooksinhell)

Mercy by Rebecca Lim

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2 star

Fallen Angels, Mystery, Amnesia

We know Mercy is a fallen angel (thanks, cover synopsis) but she has no idea why she lives days, weeks, months at a time in someone else’s life and without warning wakes up in a new body and has to relearn a life all over again. The memories keep fading so she loses her memories as she goes, and the only constant in her life is Luc, another angel who visits her in dreams—but when she finds herself in a body that could save a missing girl, she ignores his advice to fly under the radar and does everything she can to save a life (and maybe capture the heart of a boy). The writing is mediocre and I struggled with Mercy saying things like “I never back down from a challenge” while insisting she doesn’t remember anything about herself, and if Lim had given a little more to go on it would have been easier to focus on the kidnapping and figuring out a new life aspects of the story, which were decently well done. The story jumped about pretty spastically from internal monologues to conversations with Luc to hunting down the kidnapper to singing music in a school choir; it felt like Lim was trying to set herself up for the later books but she sacrificed a lot of quality to do so. Still on the hunt for a good angel book; this doesn’t make the cut.

Later books: Exile, Muse, Fury

I, Lucifer by Glen Duncan

2 star

Lucifer, Religion, Angels, Hell, Causing Trouble

God gives Lucifer a one-month reprieve from Hell in a human body—if he can hack it as a human after that, he can come home. So Lucifer uses this opportunity to smell things, do drugs, write a movie, have sex with anything he can, and write down his side of the story. Sounds like a rollicking good time, but Duncan manages to make it tiresome. There were a lot of opportunities for wry jokes, flashbacks, internal reflection, social commentary, even passion, and all of them were forfeited in favor of descriptions of human senses, rivalries among fallen angels and unfallen ones, and lengthy monologues that don’t progress the story. If you like Duncan you might like this, but I would not recommend to anyone looking for a good story or a humorous one.

Breath by Jackie Morse Kessler

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2 star

Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, Death, Life, Hope

Death is depressed — after uncountable millennia of being Death he no longer finds life worth caring for, and a teenager named Xander Atwood is the only one who can bring him back on his feet. Kessler does a great job of weaving Death’s past and the other Rider’s presents around Xander’s story; his friends are realistic and it is nice to see the other Riders in action. It was fascinating to see Death act so human and see a human boy try to save him. However — Kessler broke one of my absolute most stringent writing rules (if you do not want to know a partial about the ending, don’t read on) and made the entire story a dream sequence in Xander’s comatose head. This is a real problem for the story as throughout the book Death reveals the origin of himself, the Riders, and before his suicide he asks each of the Riders whether they would like to remain Riders or go back to their lives, and each Horseman’s story is tied up neatly by the end—so when Death tells Xander that he made it all up, you are left believing that the Horseman and Death himself never actually got their redemption.

Previous books: Hunger, Rage, Loss

Monstrous Beauty by Elizabeth Fama

2 star

Mermaids, Puritan Living, Curses, Modern Teenagers

Hester (a normal 17-year-old) and Syrenka’s (an ancient mermaid) fates are intertwined in this story about a mermaid who falls in love with a human and commits unspeakable acts to keep him on the earth so that she can be with him. As the story unfolds, Hester learns more about what truly happened all those years ago and finds herself facing down ghosts, mermaids, and betraying her friends to get to the bottom of the curse that has killed every mother in her family in the last 140 years. The story is full of horrific acts that made it hard to get through: vicious rape, the murder of a child, mermaids ripping open chest cavities and eating lungs (that one happens twice), spells to trap a man’s soul on land for eternity—it is certainly a monstrous tale, but I found it seriously lacking in beauty. Every character is so flawed as to become intensely unlikable and while the story could have been fascinating despite this, it took far too long to get the story out and by the time it did I had long stopped caring what happened to anyone. Overall it was a horror story that failed to deliver on the heart and love it promised.

You Killed Wesley Payne by Sean Beaudoin

2 star

Humor, Crime, Detectives, High School, Double-Crossing, Family

Dalton Rev is a high school student who begins working as a private investigator to make money for his family: that might be the only part of the story that makes sense. A maze of high school cliques and rackets and unfunny jokes, this book falls flat as it tries to be a clever throwback to the noir days of detectives while making a snarky commentary on the absurdity of life and social interaction. I assume it was meant to be a satire; on Dalton’s first day at the high school he is investigating there are dirty cops, a dirtier principal, kids with guns, kids who speak in old-fashioned sentences that are probably meant to be amusing but aren’t, and an introduction to the cliques at the high school and how each of them makes money. The endless plot twists make you long for something of sense to happen, the flashbacks do nothing for the story, and by the time it all rounds out you will find that it makes less sense than you thought possible. Not sure who the intended audience is, but I’m finding it hard to think of someone to recommend this to.

(Source: ihopetheyhavebooksinhell)

The Diviners by Libba Bray

2 star

Mystic Powers, Ghosts, Curses, Family, Friendship, 1920’s, New York City, Flappers

Evie goes to live with her creepy-museum-owning uncle in NYC after she tells a boy a secret about himself that he didn’t want anyone to know. Unfortunately, a most gruesome murderer has also turned up in NYC, and Evie works with her uncle to stop the killer while working with her friends to party all night long. There are too many characters, however; most of them are only around to add flavor to the story and do nothing to enhance the plot which makes the story drag. The slang and twenties accoutrements, similarly, are cute, but the story gets in the way of itself to the point where after the bad guy is battled the story goes on for several more chapters. The audiobook was nice on my commute but it’s not one I would recommend unless you really love the twenties.

Later book: Lair of Dreams

(Source: ihopetheyhavebooksinhell)

The Last Werewolf by Glen Duncan

2 star

Werewolves, Sex, Secret Societies, Suspense

I expected a lot from a story about the last werewolf on earth, 200-year-old Jake who is supposedly sexy and charming and worldly. I found him dry and misogynistic and kind of a dullard; he is super into having sex with prostitutes and not falling in love and he is resigned to his own death, but he completely changes when he finds out there is a werewolf lady and he falls in love with her. The story is told is diary format first by Jake and then by his lady werewolf love; the introduction is interesting but Duncan is trying so hard to make Jake into this epically cool figure that he comes out flat. The intrigue of the secret society of vampires aligned with humans who keep the population of mythical creatures down could have been great if it was fleshed out more, but overall the story was too self-involved to really make it work.

(Source: ihopetheyhavebooksinhell)

Translation is a Love Affair by Jacques Poulin

2 star

Translators, Language, Canada, Cats, Writers, French

A story told by a translator about her relationship with the writer she works with—it was written in French but I read it in English which added a level of surreality as the translator migrates the author’s works from French into English. It is bland and just weird; lots of facts and tales that go nowhere, characters that are fleshed out and never used. The plot is ostensibly that they are trying to help the girl who abandoned her cat at the translator’s home, but it is fumblingly handled because the narrator is so obsessed with talking about language. Can’t think of who I would recommend this to other than perhaps a translation student.

(Source: ihopetheyhavebooksinhell)

Bad Girls: Sirens, Jezebels, Murderesses, Thieves & Other Female Villains by Jane Yolen and Heidi E. Y. Stemple illustrated by Rebecca Guay

2 star

Short Biographies, Comics, Historical Women, Judgment, Morality

In this book for younger teens a number of famously naughty women from history are given brief bios that are then summed up by the authors (mother and daughter) in a one-page comic-style-blocked illustrated sheet. It’s as weird as it sounds, and I found Stemple’s judgments to be quite mean and none of their comments were particularly intelligent or thought-provoking. The biographies were too short to be truly intriguing, but the bibliography at the end is decently comprehensive. It could have been a great book about the bad rap that tough women have gotten in history but instead devolved into cattiness and short-changed the real people.

(Source: ihopetheyhavebooksinhell)

Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor

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2 star

War, Honor, Trust, Heritage, Friendship

Karou has taken over Brimstone’s role and is creating bodies for the Chimaera army while Akiva is torn between earning back the trust of his siblings and saving Chimaera. This book would have been better at half the length: there are long scenes with characters that never come into play again as well as too many scenes with Mik and Zuzana that don’t move the story along. The bulk of the story is political drama as Karou tries to prove her worth and trustworthiness while being blocked by Thiago and Akiva plots the demise of the cruel leaders of the seraphim. There was a lot of discussion about rape and the fear of men and it almost dominated the topic of the actual war which I found very unnecessary and not in keeping with the themes of friendship and humanity in the first book. This volume definitely had some interesting parts and more is revealed about the world of Eretz, but overall it felt more like a transition into what should be a very dramatic third book.

First book: Daughter of Smoke and Bone
Last book: Dreams of Gods and Monsters

Rise by Andrea Cremer

2 star

Rebellion, 1400s, Magic, Warriors, Romance

Ember loses much of her sass as she attempts to rebel against Bosque Mar’s evil magics, but spends most of her time ignoring her duty and trying to decide if she likes Alistair or just loves Barrow because I guess they’re both hot and she’s indecisive. Despite her lack of effort, the other characters do a decent job of making it harder for Mar to take over the human world and this book does an excellent job of setting the stage for the events in the later Nightshade books. There is a lot of waiting around and worrying and traveling which kind of kills the pace; it could be argued that the bad guys are really the main characters here. Would recommend if you love the Nightshade world.

Previous book: Rift
Later Nightshade books:  Nightshade, Wolfsbane, Bloodrose

Vegan Virgin Valentine by Carolyn Mackler

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2 star

High School, Family Drama, First Love, Expectations

Mara is your typical type-A high school senior (perfect grades, perfect family, clean diet) whose world is shaken when her high school junior niece V (Mara was born to older parents; her sister Aimee gave birth while she was still young) comes to live with them. Mara more or less loses her mind and by the end of the story has stopped caring about everything she cared about in the beginning. The progress is plodding and illogical, and Mara’s 180 turn seems unrealistic and forced, as does her reconciliation with her niece. None of the characters are particularly likable and the story is overall forgettable.

Companion book: Guyaholic

The Underwood See by Michael Lawrence

2 star

Alternate Universes, Time Travel, Family, Death

(Spoilers for the other books)

Previous books: A Crack in the Line, Small Eternities

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Small Eternities by Michael Lawrence

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2 star

Alternate Universes, Time Travel, Family, Death

(Spoilers for the first book)

Previous book: A Crack in the Line
Later book: The Underwood See

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