Froi of the Exiles (Chronicles of Lumatere #2)
Author: Melina Marchetta
Publication Date: 3/13/12
Publisher: Candlewick Press
From master storyteller Melina Marchetta comes an exhilarating new fantasy springing from her celebrated epic, Finnikin of the Rock.
Three years after the curse on Lumatere was lifted, Froi has found his home . . . or so he believes. Fiercely loyal to the Queen and Finnikin, Froi has been taken roughly and lovingly in hand by the Guard sworn to protect the royal family, and has learned to control his quick temper with a warrior's discipline. But when he is sent on a secretive mission to the kingdom of Charyn, nothing could have prepared him for what he finds in its surreal royal court. Soon he must unravel both the dark bonds of kinship and the mysteries of a half-mad princess in this barren and mysterious place. It is in Charyn that he will discover there is a song sleeping in his blood . . . and though Froi would rather not, the time has come to listen.
I always have a hard time reviewing these books: the ones that aren’t read so much as frantically consumed in a whirlwind of gluttonous book hedonism. Afterward I feel like, “What just happened to me? Yesterday is such a blur…a happy, sad, angry, intense blur.”
So, I’ll just apologize now, because this review probably won’t be very coherent.
This book begins like a lot of Melina Marchetta books. (In fact, I might say that all
of her best books begin this way.) There’s a mad jumble of names, events, and relationships spilled out in the first few chapters; it feels like not only a map (which is helpfully provided) but a family tree and a flow chart of some kind might be necessary to keep track of it all. It’s confusing. But, I am not some greenie; I am a Melina Marchetta veteran! I know by now to just keep reading. Sure enough, everything becomes clear (not to mention, extremely engrossing) in no time at all.
This book claims on the outside to be about Froi: the young thief and exile who becomes a dedicated Lumateran in Finnikin of the Rock.
And there’s no doubt that it is. But of course, we can count on Melina Marchetta for so much more than that. Every one of her books has a complete cast of consuming, vibrant characters and this book is no exception. This book is written in third person but shifts between the perspectives of four different relationships. So, as Froi takes up a dangerous errand and heads into Charyn, the notorious kingdom that once invaded Lumatere and incited a horrible curse, we also get to keep up with all his surrogate family left behind. For all of the Finnikin of the Rock
fans out there: rejoice! You’ll get plenty of time with Finnikin, Isaboe, Lucian, Lady Beatriss, Trevanion, Tesadora, and…Jasmina. I’m not going to tell you who that last one is; you’ll have to read this to find out!
I don’t even know where to start on the major themes of this book. In a way, this book is about the many facets of romance: infatuation, lust, companionship, love, betrayal, understanding, redemption. It’s also about identity, family, war, hatred, curses, misunderstandings, history, and perspectives. This is one hefty book and I’m not just referring to its massive size.
There were so many times where I thought, “No…she wouldn’t….
” But OF COURSE she would. There were also times that I assumed dark and dreadful things and she surprised me with lightness and grace. Everything that she writes just feels so true to life. Life isn’t tragic and dark and it’s not easy and wonderful either, but it is both of these at once. People aren’t just greedy or just good or just anything. A whore can be a mother, a severely damaged girl can be a born ruler, an outcast can be a diplomat, a once violent boy can be a healer of women, and an “evil” kingdom is much more than the sum of its parts. Perfect Musical Pairing
TV on the Radio – Family Tree
This song is about dark history, both inherited and remembered. I think that it’s also about how hatred can be fed and perpetuated across generations, but I think that it has a hopeful note too.
”Were laying in the shadow of your family tree
Your haunted heart and me
Brought down by an old idea whose time has come
And in the shadow of the gallows of your family tree
There's a hundred hearts soar free
Pumping blood to the roots of evil to keep it young”
Sorta Like a Rock Star
Author: Matthew Quick
Publication Date: 5/1/10
Publisher: Little Brown and Company
Amber Appleton lives in a bus. Ever since her mom's boyfriend kicked them out, Amber, her mom, and her totally loyal dog, Bobby Big Boy (aka Thrice B) have been camped out in the back of Hello Yellow (the school bus her mom drives). Still, Amber, the self-proclaimed princess of hope and girl of unyielding optimism, refuses to sweat the bad stuff. But when a fatal tragedy threatens Amber's optimism--and her way of life, can Amber continue to be the rock star of hope? With an oddball cast of characters, and a heartwarming, inspiring story, this novel unveils a beautifully beaten-up world of laughs, loyalty, and hard-earned hope.Review:
Why isn't this book more popular? The only reason I know about it is because one day I was browsing my GR friends' shelves looking for a book written by an author whose name starts with "Q" for a reading challenge. How sad is that? Sorta Like a Rock Star
Amber Appleton is a peculiar sort of girl. If you have seen Happy-Go-Lucky
, Amber is pretty much a younger version of Poppy, an incorrigible optimist. She is the life of the party, she stands up for the weak, cheers up elderly, saves stray dogs, all with never-ending enthusiasm and positivity. Only, as you can expect, such approach to life is not necessarily healthy. It is too much of a burden to hold up so many people. One day, after a particularly devastating event, Amber can't take it any longer and succumbs to depression. Will she be able to pull through?
In an ocean of conventional YA books with recycled plots and characters, Sorta Like a Rock Star
stands out. Amber's story is heartbreaking and inspiring. As for the characters, I do not know which one of them I liked the most - Amber, upbeat, hopeful, improper and pushy; or her best doggy friend Thrice B who never fails to hump his canine lady friend even with fresh stitches in his belly; or maybe Private Jackson, a Vietnam vet who copes with his war memories by writing haikus and drinking green tea. I just can't decide...
Speaking of haikus. Can't say I knew much about this poetry form before reading this book, but haikus here had quite an effect on me, meaning, they made me bawl like a baby. 4/5 stars
The Piper's Son
Author: Melina Marchetta
Publication Date: 3/8/11
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Award-winning author Melina Marchetta reopens the story of the group of friends from her acclaimed novel Saving Francesca - but five years have passed, and now it's Thomas Mackee who needs saving. After his favorite uncle was blown to bits on his way to work in a foreign city, Tom watched his family implode. He quit school and turned his back on his music and everyone that mattered, including the girl he can't forget. Shooting for oblivion, he's hit rock bottom, forced to live with his single, pregnant aunt, work at the Union pub with his former friends, and reckon with his grieving, alcoholic father. Tom's in no shape to mend what's broken. But what if no one else is either? An unflinching look at family, forgiveness, and the fierce inner workings of love and friendship, The Piper's Son redefines what it means to go home again.Review:
I don't know how Melina Marchetta
does it - takes a story that seems so soap-operish and turns it into something so honest and real.
Let me tell you what The Piper's Son
is all about. Tom Mackee is a complete mess. His beloved uncle died 2 years ago, his father is lost somewhere, undoubtedly drunk, his mother and sister left his dad and moved to another state. Tom has been for years and still is lost and lonely. He takes drugs, he abandoned his friends, he betrayed the girl he loved, he dropped out of uni. All is bad until he hits the rock bottom and is forced to move in with his aunt Georgie who has a whole set of problems of her own - she is pregnant by the man who hurt her in the worst possible way, she is full of grief and despair. How will these people pull themselves together?
In someone else's hands such a plot can turn into cheap melodrama. But somehow Marchetta makes it a truly great story of pain, grief, betrayal, forgiveness and love. She just has this great way with words. You know how people often like to advise authors - "show not tell," well, Marchetta is a master of showing. It's not what her characters say, but what they do and how they do it that gives me goosebumps, or makes my heart ache or my eyes well up with tears.
I want to take a moment here to say how much I adore the cover of the Australian edition of the novel
It represents the mood of the story so well - Tom's loneliness and isolation are so palpable!
On the other hand, I despise American colorful cover which has nothing to do whatsoever with what is inside this book.The Piper's Son
is not my favorite Melina Marchetta
book, Saving Francesca
is. And Tom is not my favorite Marchetta boy, that title belongs to Jonah Griggs. But I loved this novel. I loved revisiting Francesca, Will and their relationship. I loved Justine and her violinist (will she ever call him BTW, or they need to get their own book to finally get together?). I loved watching Tom change and make up for his crappy behavior. But my favorite part was undoubtedly Georgie and Sam's story, it was heart-breakingly beautiful.The Piper's Son
was all I expected from the author. I can't wait to read it again and again...5/5 stars
Author: Melina Marchetta
Publication Date: 9/28/04
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Francesca used to think her biggest problem was transferring to St. Sebastian's--a school only recently turned coed: "What a dream come true, right? Seven hundred and fifty boys and thirty girls? But the reality is that it's either like living in a fish bowl or like you don't exist."
But now there's this matter of her usually vibrant and annoyingly optimistic mother Mia refusing to get up in the morning. Her taciturn father doesn't have much to say on the subject, her beloved little brother Luca is anxiously looking to her for answers, and her so-called friends from her old neighborhood seem to have abandoned her. So, Francesca keeps it all inside--her frustration with school (there aren't enough girl's bathrooms and no girl's sports teams); her fear making new friends (with the few girls who do go to St. Sebastian's); and her overwhelming hatred of the smug Will Trombal, who despite being completely infuriating, is also incredibly cute. Keeping this to herself when all she wants to do is spill it to her mother is killing Francesca, but with Mia trying to make herself well again, Francesca will have to figure out how to save herself.Review:
Within just a few days (and books) Melina Marchetta
has become one of my favorite YA writers. Just like my other favorite author E. Lockhart
, she writes about teens and she knows what she is talking about, unlike some YA authors who should not be named.
Let's take Saving Francesca
. The story is set in St. Sebastian
- a not so long ago all-male school that just recently turned co-ed. You might expect this book to be quite a romp - this school at first appears to be a paradise for girls with male to female ratio of 25 to 1. But Marchetta knows better. St. Sebastian
is a deeply sexist place where girls are either completely ignored or viewed as sexual objects. Neither are the boys portrayed as suave sex gods (as seems to be the trend these days). They are quite obnoxious, sometimes infuriating, and stinky creatures with (maybe) some redeeming qualities.
Francesca Spinelli is one of the "lucky" 30 girls. She is having a tough time. She doesn't have any friends in her new school and acquiring new girl friends out of so few is not easy. Plus, her mother, the rock of her family, suddenly succumbs to an acute depression. Saving Francesca
is about Francesca's journey to find her strength and save herself from despair, to find friendships in the most unexpected places and maybe love.
The book covers all familiar topics from Marchetta's other novels. It is about mothers and daughters, friendships, finding strength in yourself. It is full of humor and honest emotion. It is funny and it is heartbreaking.
I enjoyed every sentence of it. 5/5 stars
Author: Melina Marchetta
Publication Date: 8/26/08
Publisher: Harper Teen
"What do you want from me?" he asks. What I want from every person in my life, I want to tell him. More.
Abandoned by her mother on Jellicoe Road when she was eleven, Taylor Markham, now seventeen, is finally being confronted with her past. But as the reluctant leader of her boarding school dorm, there isn't a lot of time for introspection. And while Hannah, the closest adult Taylor has to family, has disappeared, Jonah Griggs is back in town, moody stares and all.
In this absorbing story by Melina Marchetta, nothing is as it seems and every clue leads to more questions as Taylor tries to work out the connection between her mother dumping her, Hannah finding her then and her sudden departure now, a mysterious stranger who once whispered something in her ear, a boy in her dreams, five kids who lived on Jellicoe Road eighteen years ago, and the maddening and magnetic Jonah Griggs, who knows her better than she thinks he does. If Taylor can put together the pieces of her past, she might just be able to change her future.Review:
I don't often give books 5-star ratings. Normally these are the books that either horrify me (Unwind
, The Handmaid's Tale
) or delight me with superb writing (The Queen of Attolia
, The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks
) or awe me with imaginative world building (The Left Hand of Darkness
) or make me cry (Before I Die
). Jellicoe Road
definitely falls into this last "made-me-weep" category.
Jellicoe Road is the location of a boarding school for kids that are often neglected or with criminal tendencies. Taylor Markham is residing in the school because her mother had abandoned her at the age of 11 at a nearby 7-Eleven. Now Taylor is 17 and unexpectedly selected to be the school's leader in the game of territory wars with the Townies (locals from a tiny neighboring town) and Cadets (who spend several weeks a year in the Australian wilderness). Taylor is not sure she can handle the responsibility. She is uneasy more than ever - her mentor and friend Hannah disappears and Taylor is sure it has something to do with her mother; Jonah Griggs, a Cadet who she has a shared past with, is back and seems to know her all too well; she is plagued by dreams of a young boy who attempts to tell her something. What follows is Taylor's journey through the past and present to uncover the reasons why and how she was abandoned by her mother.
As always, it is hard for me to explain what I like about a 5-star book, but I'll try. Melina Marchetta
draws characters that are deep, complex, and real. The relationships among them are touching - more than anything I think, this book is about the power of friendship and, boy, there are some magnificent examples of friendship in this book! The book is also about grief, guilt, forgiveness and, of course, love.
If I am forced to point out any flaws in this book, I'd say the writing some might find confusing in the beginning. It takes a few pages to figure out what is a dream and what is a page from a story Taylor is reading; what is from present and what is from the past. But soon enough all pieces of the puzzle fall together and you are faced with a deep, meaningful and heartbreaking story.
Another thing that might bother readers is that some characters go through a lot of tragic events, sometimes too many. However, the story never becomes overly melodramatic or emotionally manipulative IMO. Jellicoe Road
is a remarkable work of YA fiction and rightfully deserves the Printz award it was given in 2009. I have no doubt I will read Marchetta's books in future.5/5 stars
The Name of the Star (Shades of London, #1)
Author: Maureen Johnson
Publication Date: 9/29/11
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile
The day Louisiana teenager Rory Deveaux arrives in London, it's the start of a new life at a boarding school. But for many, this will be remembered as the day a series of brutal murders broke out across the city, gruesome crimes mimicking the horrific Jack the Ripper events of more than a century ago.Review: The Name of the Star
is a novel with a great premise but bogged down by a very mediocre writing.
American teen Aurora (Rory) Deveaux is spending her senior year in London. Her parents work in nearby Bristol and Rory is all set to live and study at a boarding school. On the day of her arrival to London she learns that there is a brutal murderer on the loose. This murderer appears to be mimicking Jack the Ripper - his first victim was sliced and diced in exactly the same manner as the Ripper's in 1888. More murders happen in the neighborhood of Rory's school, and one day she crosses paths with the killer. The strange thing is, she seems to be the only person able to see him. Rory soon discovers that she possesses an ability to see ghosts and is eager to assist the ghost police of London in its search for the serial killer.
Jack the Ripper's case is a truly fascinating and gruesome one. Johnson does a respectable job incorporating the details of the crimes in her story without shying away from the gore - cut-off noses, bowels and heads - it is all here!
What is not so great is Johnson's writing. The Name of the Star
is the author's 9th book (I think), but it often read like a debut. It is full of mistakes that an experienced writer should not be making any more.
Boring, vanilla characters (all of them, except the villain, are like that BTW) and far too long and indulgent HP-fanfic-like boarding school minutiae aside, I think every YA author should know by now that creating a mean girl as a heroine's arch-nemesis is overdone. In this book I could never figure out why this certain girl (head girl - I am sure you remember those from Harry Potter
series) was hated so much. She never does anything bad, except she is quite determined to be accepted into Oxford and is very proactive and school-oriented. What is wrong with that? Can we stop bashing overachievers already?
Then there are absent parents. Murders are happening all around the boarding school (one in its yard!), but the main character's supposedly caring parents don't bat an eye and do not bother to withdraw Rory from school.
Or when Rory reports to the police about possibly seeing the murderer, they let her out without asking her not disclose this information to anyone and she goes out and right away blabs it out to the media.
And my main pet peeve is that the villain, if you think of it, does not really have a reason to murder all these people.
All these things in themselves are not bad enough to make the reading experience unbearable or reprehensible. But why weren't these laps in logic corrected? Or am I nitpicking? Maybe I should just stop reading kids' books?
On the bright side, although The Name of the Star
is the first book in a trilogy, I have to compliment the author on the ending. Although the last page is slightly cliff-hangery, the book can easily be read as a stand-alone. The case is closed, the characters are in a good place. It is what you'd call a respectful cliff-hanger. I will not be coming back for more of Maureen Johnson
's books, so it was nice to have a closure.3/5 stars
Blood Red Road (Dust Lands, #1)
Author: Moira Young
Publication Date: 6/7/11
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry
Saba has spent her whole life in Silverlake, a dried-up wasteland ravaged by constant sandstorms. The Wrecker civilization has long been destroyed, leaving only landfills for Saba and her family to scavenge from. That's fine by her, as long as her beloved twin brother Lugh is around. But when a monster sandstorm arrives, along with four cloaked horsemen, Saba's world is shattered. Lugh is captured, and Saba embarks on an epic quest to get him back. Suddenly thrown into the lawless, ugly reality of the world outside of desolate Silverlake, Saba is lost without Lugh to guide her. So perhaps the most surprising thing of all is what Saba learns about herself: she's a fierce fighter, an unbeatable survivor, and a cunning opponent. And she has the power to take down a corrupt society from the inside. Teamed up with a handsome daredevil named Jack and a gang of girl revolutionaries called the Free Hawks, Saba stages a showdown that will change the course of her own civilization. Blood Red Road
has a searing pace, a poetically minimal writing style, violent action, and an epic love story. Moira Young is one of the most promising and startling new voices in teen fiction.Review:
This book is not going to be out until June, so I feel very lucky for having had an opportunity to read it so early. I hope it will get enough promo buzz over the next few months to reach tons of readers, because Blood Red Road
very much deserves it. It is a stand-out in the new crop of dystopian/post-apocalyptic YA fiction, most of which is crap.
The novel is basically an adventure quest set in a distant post-apocalyptic future. Saba's twin brother Lugh is kidnapped in front of her eyes. Why and where he is taken, Saba doesn't know, but she is determined to do everything she can to find and rescue him. Obstacles and adventures are ahead of her.
I quite liked Saba. There is a bit of Katniss Everdeen in her - that familiar determination, stubbornness, strength, charisma and heightened survival instincts. In fact, Blood Red Road
is a celebration of girl power. You will not see a single limp damsel in distress in this novel. Women here, regardless of their age, are strong and self-reliant and, surprisingly, they don't waste their time on trying to prove they have balls to the men around them by wearing pants and rejecting everything feminine. They simply are
women and they kick ass. No gender politics and struggles here. Very refreshing.
What else is great about the book it the writing style. I am guessing it will be a hit or miss with the readers. Saba lives in a world where almost all traces of civilization are gone. She can't read or write, so her narrating style consists of abrupt, grammatically-incorrect sentences. Somehow it adds character to Saba's voice and urgency to the story itself. The pacing of this novel is fast and it is never boring.
On the other hand, I agree with other reviewers who think the first part of the novel is stronger than the second. Very true. The first half is intense and suspenseful, colored by Saba's single desire to save her brother. The second half is still well-paced, but is diluted by rather predictable plot twists and formulaic romantic back and forth. Although I won't be complaining about romance for too long. I would have been upset if there was none and the main male squeeze is a cool, likable dude. Sufficiently hot make-out sessions were greatly appreciated as well.
All in all, I am left with a feeling that the beginning of the novel indicated that the book would be something more ambitious, something more important and meaningful. What it is is a well-written, fast paced adventure-type commercial teen fiction which is not such a bad thing IMO. Blood Red Road
might not be my favorite book in the dystopian/post-apocalyptic genre, but it is definitely one of the better ones. I look forward to reading the next two books in this promising new trilogy.4/5 stars
Wither (The Chemical Garden, #1)
Author: Lauren DeStefano
Publication Date: 3/22/11
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
At age 16, Rhine Ellery has four years to live. Thanks to a botched effort to create a perfect race, all females live to age 20 and males live to age 25. On the cusp of her 17th birthday, Rhine attempts to flee, but what she finds is a society spiraling out of control.Review:
Oh boy, do I have problems with this new crop of YA dystopian/post-apocalyptic lit! I am starting to think that the authors who attempt to explore this genre have no understanding of what it takes to write such books. Just making up some new horrible way people are treated in a future society and adding in some angsty love triangle isn't enough!
I don't want to sound too lectur-y, but these new, young writers probably do not realize that to create a dystopian/post-apocalyptic society that is believable, they need to: 1) understand how our current world works; 2) be able to identify cultural, political, economical trends that can possibly affect humanity in a major way in future; 3) realize that when they set their eyes on extrapolating a certain trend, they need to have their characters react to it in a logical (in terms of human psychology) way.
Let's take Wither
. About 70 year prior to the beginning of the story, humanity got itself into a huge bind. Playing with genetic engineering, scientists created a new, improved type of people, cured of decease, with longer lives, etc. Only the offsprings of these new people have some side effects - females now die at the age of 20 and males - of 25 (this number thing is weird, but ok, I am not going to linger on it). What happens now is that young girls are kidnapped and sold into polygamous marriage to procreate. The main character of this novel, 16-year old Rhine, is now one of 4 wives and is scared for her future...
You know what my problem is, right here? The notion that barely out of teen years young men would be so preoccupied with procreation. Why would they care to make babies? They will be dead in a couple of years! Why would anyone in this world care to have children or place a value on them if they never see them grow, if they never were raised by their own parents?
Such a strong pro-procreation scheme requires a lot of conditioning IMO, some structure that makes young people accept the idea they need to waste their precious years on being pregnant and producing children. You need some older people to think-up and maintain the procreation cycle, because mostly older people care about this sort of thing. Throw a couple of dozen of teens on an island, tell them they only have four years to live and see how many will think about the next generation. There are some "first generation" people around in this novel, who can live their lives until old age, but I never found them very influential in this world DeStefano created. More often than not they are domestics, and not evil masterminds.
Then the whole structure of this world is just unbelievable. Why do these people want to give birth to children when there is nobody to take care of them and so many of them run wild? Why do they kill young girls if they are so valuable as wombs? Who actually makes these young people work if they know they are about to die? What motivates them to go to work? None of these questions were answered convincingly to me.
The entire dystopian/post-apocalyptic premise is faulty in my mind. My rant here only pertains to a fraction of issues I have with it. There are great reviews, like this one
that explore holes in the world building in terms of economics, politics, etc.
You might think I am too nit-picky, question everything, but I just read Paolo Bacigalupi
's short story "The People of Sand and Slag" in which people eat sand, regrow their limbs and embellish their bones with blades and I totally bought it! When written right, any, even the most outrageous premise, can make you believe in it.
I am sure there will be some people taken by Wither
. They will like being shocked/disgusted/titillated by the scenes of polygamy, the main character's constant fear of being raped and impregnated, 13-year old girl having sex with her much older husband (and liking it), mentions of Kama Sutra, etc. I personally found some aspects of this novel distasteful.
Instead of Wither
I would recommend The Handmaid's Tale
and The Children of Men
which deal with similar themes, but in a more responsible and sophisticated way.2/5 stars
The Gathering (Darkness Rising, #1)
Author: Kelley Armstrong
Publication Date: 4/12/11
Publisher: Harper Collins
Maya lives in a small medical-research town on Vancouver Island. How small? You can't find it on the map. It has less than two-hundred people, and her school has only sixty-eight students — for every grade from kindergarten to twelve. Now, strange things are happening in this claustrophobic town, and Maya's determined to get to the bottom of them. First, the captain of the swim team drowns mysteriously in the middle of a calm lake. A year later, mountain lions start appearing around Maya's home, and they won't go away. Her best friend, Daniel, starts getting negative vibes from certain people and things. It doesn't help that the new bad boy in town, Rafe, has a dangerous secret — and he's interested in one special part of Maya's anatomy: Her paw-print birthmark.Review:
What a pleasant surprise this novel was! I did not expect to like The Gathering
after being very underwhelmed by Kelley Armstrong
's first YA trilogy - Darkest Powers
While I think nothing changed in terms of the structure Armstrong chose for her trilogies (the whole story is simply separated into three parts instead of presenting three separate story arcs), this book was a much better experience for me. I attribute this to the following:
1) Setting - loved, loved that the book is set in Canada, in an isolated tiny medical research town (population: 200) located in a national park. A huge portion of the story takes place outdoors. It made me want to live in a cabin with bobcats and cougars roaming around too.
2) New type of supernatural beings - Maya is something Armstrong has never written before. I am quite curious about Maya's powers which are not very clear at the moment. I surely prefer them to Chloe's dead-raising skills.
3) No hiding in warehouses! Was very sick of them in all three Darkest Powers
4) Teen characters and romances - Kelley Armstrong
is one of a very few YA authors who refuse to promote stalker/doormat relationships based on ANGST. The narrator of this novel - Maya - is a strong young woman and her relationship with her hot love interest is well-balanced, even when complicated.
The biggest flaw of The Gathering
comes from the author's choice of the trilogy's plot structure. Again, like in Darkest Powers
, there is almost no climax in the story, just some mildly exciting action sequence in the last 50 pages or so. Based on the reviews I have read, this flaw can really spoil the experience for some readers.
I, however, managed to enjoy the novel anyway. It left me with the same feeling Unearthly
did. I know there are more questions raised than answered, I know it is a very incomplete story and the whole novel does nothing much besides setting up the stage for the future installments, but the process of reading the book was so enjoyable that I was able to overlook its shortcomings and now am looking forward to the sequel with anticipation.4/5 stars
Black Heart (Curse Workers #3)
Author: Holly Black
Publication Date: 4/3/12
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry
Cassel Sharpe knows he’s been used as an assassin, but he’s trying to put all that behind him. He’s trying to be good, even though he grew up in a family of con artists and cheating comes as easily as breathing to him. He’s trying to do the right thing, even though the girl he loves is inextricably connected with crime. And he’s trying to convince himself that working for the Feds is smart, even though he’s been raised to believe the government is the enemy.
But with a mother on the lam, the girl he loves about to take her place in the Mob, and new secrets coming to light, the line between what’s right and what’s wrong becomes increasingly blurred. When the Feds ask Cassel to do the one thing he said he would never do again, he needs to sort out what’s a con and what’s truth. In a dangerous game and with his life on the line, Cassel may have to make his biggest gamble yet—this time on love.Review:
I was very indifferent about Red Glove – I didn’t hate it and I didn’t love it. But I am happy to say that with this third book in the series my original enthusiasm has returned. (Is it a trilogy? The door is left open just a crack at the end and I have to say that now I’m hoping for more!)
Everything that bothered me about Red Glove seems to be explained and/or remedied in this book. Cassel’s constant fretting over his Wallingford Academy performance, which I originally suffered through just waiting to get to the good stuff (ie, cons, crimes, and double-crosses), now seems to make a lot more sense. This book delves more into Cassel’s guilt and his struggle to make the “right” choices. Now his desire to maintain good grades and adhere to Wallingford’s policies seems like a simple extension of his desire to be “good” and “normal,”which I must say I didn’t fully comprehend before.
I also felt that Cassel was a lot clueless in Red Glove, ignoring obvious hints and making foolish decisions. But, I couldn’t be happier to report that he seems craftier than ever in this volume. The Cassel that I glimpsed at the end of White Cat – one step ahead of everyone – is back for the entire book. And he’s hilarious
. I don’t remember laughing so much in either one of the other books.
I was also really impressed by the depth given in this book to the curse-worker plight – something that was touched on in the previous books but not fully explored. Here we get to see the full extent of this world and all the dangers it holds for new curse-workers. The parallels to real-world bigotry, hate crimes, and human trafficking are evident and make that aspect of the book even more heartbreaking.
The romance stays safely away from dramatic angst territory and is very nicely done; although I must say that I didn’t feel too
invested in it. It’s light and enjoyable and I did feel some small emotion for them, but I never felt gripped by it.
But in the end, that’s just not what this book is. It's not a dark, serious read. It’s a funny, twisty adventure with a great male lead and little hints of darkness. The ending of this book is absolutely perfect; it’s everything that I wished for. So if you love this series, rest assured that it ends on a high note. If you’re new to this series – it’s good all the way through. Time to get started!Perfect Musical Pairing
The Dears – Whites Only Party
This is definitely one of my favorites from this album, about exclusion and unjust treatment. But the ending seems to be defiant and hopeful: "Our time will surely have to come, and life has just begun. It's just begun."