2 stars · Fantasy · young adult

Grace and Fury: a YA novel that says nothing new

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Grace and Fury

Grace and Fury #1

author : tracy banghart

pages : [hardcover] 320

summary :

In a world where women have no rights, sisters Serina and Nomi Tessaro face two very different fates: one in the palace, the other in prison.

Serina has been groomed her whole life to become a Grace – someone to stand by the heir to the throne as a shining, subjugated example of the perfect woman. But when her headstrong and rebellious younger sister, Nomi, catches the heir’s eye, it’s Serina who takes the fall for the dangerous secret that Nomi has been hiding.

Now trapped in a life she never wanted, Nomi has only one way to save Serina: surrender to her role as a Grace until she can use her position to release her sister. This is easier said than done. A traitor walks the halls of the palace, and deception lurks in every corner. But Serina is running out of time, imprisoned on an island where she must fight to the death to survive and one wrong move could cost her everything.

review :

I think the problem with Grace and Fury is it might have been an innovative YA novel if published a decade earlier. Coming out in 2018, this really didn’t say or do anything that hadn’t already been handled in more interesting ways in other books.

The idea of women existing in a totally oppressive society isn’t unique. In Grace and Fury, women really can’t do anything except sit there, wait to enter an arranged marriage, have children, and possibly work in a factory all their lives. They can’t go to school, can’t go anywhere alone, can’t make decisions for themselves. I think I’m tired with these stories now because it feels so formulaic. Women are incredibly mistreated; main character disagrees with how society works and is going to set out to somehow change that.

I’m tired of reading stories like this because yes, women are still fighting for equality in reality. But these stories don’t really make any commentary on life as it currently exists; they don’t reflect current issues and present situations that will feel familiar to readers, then show how the main characters persevere beneath those circumstances as a way to show how the world might take those ideas and better itself by using them, too.

So these stories just end up being really depressing and repetitive.

I want stories where women can want more than equality, where the plot can focus on something different because in the book’s society all people are already treated equal. I just don’t understand why so many fantasy stories seem to feel the need to go backward without using that as a way to comment on the present. Maybe it’s time to look ahead.

Grace and Fury also attempted to include a few plot twists, but . . . they were the exact twists I’ve seen in other YA books, so I was almost hoping they wouldn’t happen as that would have made this book somewhat different.

I won’t be recommending this book, and also won’t be reading the sequel.

2/5 stars

2 stars · adult · nonfiction

Girl, Wash Your Face: Girl, I don’t think this book is for me

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Girl, Wash Your Face

author : rachel hollis

pages : [hardcover] 220

summary :

Do you ever suspect that everyone else has life figured out and you don’t have a clue? If so, Rachel Hollis has something to tell you: that’s a lie.

As the founder of the lifestyle website TheChicSite.com and CEO of her own media company, Rachel Hollis developed an immense online community by sharing tips for better living while fearlessly revealing the messiness of her own life. Now, in this challenging and inspiring new book, Rachel exposes the twenty lies and misconceptions that too often hold us back from living joyfully and productively, lies we’ve told ourselves so often we don’t even hear them anymore.

With painful honesty and fearless humor, Rachel unpacks and examines the falsehoods that once left her feeling overwhelmed and unworthy, and reveals the specific practical strategies that helped her move past them. In the process, she encourages, entertains, and even kicks a little butt, all to convince you to do whatever it takes to get real and become the joyous, confident woman you were meant to be.

With unflinching faith and rock-hard tenacity, Girl, Wash Your Face shows you how to live with passion and hustle–and how to give yourself grace without giving up.

review :

I’m honestly not sure I’ve ever read a self-help book before, and Girl, Wash Your Face is potentially the most popular one currently out there. A friend was kind enough to lend me her copy, so I eagerly set in to see what the phenomenon was all about.

Girl, Wash Your Face started off pretty positively (despite the fact that I’ve never really responded well to anyone referring to me as ‘girl’). The first chapter was interesting, speaking about not letting yourself down when you make a promise to yourself. I do think this is good to keep in mind–if you aren’t holding yourself accountable when trying to achieve your goals, no one else will be nearly as invested in motivating you. There’s an internal drive needed to be successful. But I don’t really think the book addresses what to do when something stands in the way of you keeping those promises to yourself–like, the author mentions those promises should take precedence over everything else, but if you skip a workout because of a family emergency or fail to write that chapter because your mental health took a dive . . . what do you do then? How do you recover from that ‘failure’? So I think this book contains a lot of good ideas that need some practical tweaks to actually be applicable in the average person’s life.

Because, despite the fact that the author continuously tries to be making herself relatable . . . she doesn’t have the average person’s life. She speaks about goals like buying a $1,000 purse and saving up for a vacation home; I just want to be able to pay back my student loans. She makes it seem like hard work and dedication are the only two things that are needed for success, but seems to forget an important factor: luck. There are incredibly talented, creative people out there who haven’t gotten to the same point where she is today, but who work just as hard. Maybe self-help books just aren’t for me, because this one seemed overtly, falsely . . . optimistic.

What did I like about the book? It was an easy read and fairly interesting. The tips were succinct and I feel like the chapters were the perfect length. Some of the chapter subjects weren’t very applicable to me; as someone who isn’t married and doesn’t have kids I clearly wasn’t the target audience.

Overall I think Girl, Wash Your Face was fine. I think there’s some good advice in here that should be taken out of context, because I feel like the tips work best when not used in comparison to the author’s life. Will I use this advice to keep me motivated in my own goals? Maybe. But at some points after reading, I honestly felt more stressed about my life’s journey, not like I had a better handle on it.

2/5 stars

2 stars · nonfiction · young adult

Lady Killers: so how do you make serial killers boring?

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Lady Killers: Deadly Women Throughout History

author : tori telfer

pages : [paperback] 336

summary :

Inspired by author Tori Telfer’s Jezebel column “Lady Killers,” this thrilling and entertaining compendium investigates female serial killers and their crimes through the ages.

When you think of serial killers throughout history, the names that come to mind are ones like Jack the Ripper, John Wayne Gacy, and Ted Bundy. But what about Tillie Klimek, Moulay Hassan, Kate Bender? The narrative we’re comfortable with is the one where women are the victims of violent crime, not the perpetrators. In fact, serial killers are thought to be so universally, overwhelmingly male that in 1998, FBI profiler Roy Hazelwood infamously declared in a homicide conference, “There are no female serial killers.”

Lady Killers, based on the popular online series that appeared on Jezebel and The Hairpin, disputes that claim and offers fourteen gruesome examples as evidence. Though largely forgotten by history, female serial killers such as Erzsébet Báthory, Nannie Doss, Mary Ann Cotton, and Darya Nikolayevna Saltykova rival their male counterparts in cunning, cruelty, and appetite for destruction.

Each chapter explores the crimes and history of a different subject and then proceeds to unpack her legacy and her portrayal in the media, as well as the stereotypes and sexist clichés that inevitably surround her. The first book to examine female serial killers through a feminist lens with a witty and dryly humorous tone, Lady Killers dismisses easy explanations (she was hormonal, she did it for love, a man made her do it) and tired tropes (she was a femme fatale, a black widow, a witch), delving into the complex reality of female aggression and predation. Featuring 14 illustrations from Dame Darcy, Lady Killers is a bloodcurdling, insightful, and irresistible journey into the heart of darkness.

review:

Lately I’ve been listening to the podcast My Favorite Murder a lot and realized that while I have a great interest in true crime . . . I don’t really read about it. This made me go onto Hoopla (an app through my library that allows me to borrow ebooks for free) and I quickly found Lady Killers.

It was disappointing.

It was a little boring.

Lady Killers talks about female serial killers (mostly historical ones, as the most recent is from the 1950s). It was intriguing because 99.9% of the murderers you hear about are men (don’t even get me started) so it’s interesting to look at the different motivations and methods women have when committing such horrendous acts.

How do you make murder boring, you may ask? I asked myself the same thing. Several of these stories felt like reading the same tale over and over again. Because there were only a handful of women included in here, there could have been a little more variety between the tales. There are only so many times I can read about a lady poisoning her husband without anyone seeming to notice why he spontaneously became so sick before I lose interest.

I did appreciate that these stories are global and only a few take place in the USA. While the overall perspective of women culturally wasn’t very different from country to country, historically speaking, it was interesting to see how different circumstances/political climates may have factored into these crimes.

The tone of the book, which was so casual it was difficult to tell what was fact and what was speculation, threw me off. Casual tones can work really well in making nonfiction more accessible to a broader audience, but it felt more like I was reading a historical gossip magazine than a nonfiction book.

2.5/5 stars

 

2 stars · Fantasy · young adult

Black Wings Beating by Alex London: so many birds

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Black Wings Beating

Skybound #1

author : alex london

pages : [hardcover] 432

summary :

The people of Uztar have long looked to the sky with hope and wonder. Nothing in their world is more revered than the birds of prey and no one more honored than the falconers who call them to their fists.

Brysen strives to be a great falconer–while his twin sister, Kylee, rejects her ancient gifts for the sport and wishes to be free of falconry. She’s nearly made it out, too, but a war is rolling toward their home in the Six Villages, and no bird or falconer will be safe.

Together the twins must journey into the treacherous mountains to trap the Ghost Eagle, the greatest of the Uztari birds and a solitary killer. Brysen goes for the boy he loves and the glory he’s long craved, and Kylee to atone for her past and to protect her brother’s future. But both are hunted by those who seek one thing: power.

review :

I really really really REALLY wanted to like this book but in the end, it simply wasn’t for me.

Black Wings Beating is about . . . birds. Okay. I should have realized that. I went in knowing very little because that’s my favorite thing to do. I knew I’d read one of the author’s books before and absolutely loved it, and I knew there was LGBTQ+ rep which there needs to be more of in fantasy, so I was ALL IN. But . . . Birds.

At first I couldn’t quite comprehend how a society that seems to be literally always on the brink of annihilation/starvation would be obsessed with capturing and selling different birds. Hawks, falcons, eagles. Even those who are seen as wealthy in this world . . . I mean, how many birds do you need to buy?? It seems like everyone is only ever walking around with one. Where are all these other birds going??!! And if EVERYONE in the village is capturing birds as often as possible, how is the population not nearly entirely dwindled in the wild? Why do none of these people try to breed them in captivity if they wanted more birds?

So many questions that aren’t really important.

I was also a little thrown by the setting. Most of the book takes place in this village nestled in the mountains. The people go into the mountains to hunt their birds or use their birds to hunt for bigger birds. BIRDS. Anyway. Whenever someone is on a mountain they seem to be able to see . . . All of the people climbing the mountain below them. I’m not sure if you’ve been on a mountain before, but if you aren’t in an area where there are few trees and it’s mostly sheer ground, you’re not going to . . . easily spot who’s climbing up below you, and also see who they are and how fast they’re going. WHAT IS HAPPENING.

BUT, most of my problems stemmed from one of the two narrators of the book. Brysen is an idiot. I don’t know if we’re supposed to feel badly for him because he’s always trying hard and stuff. But the plot LITERALLY ONLY MOVES FORWARD after he does something dumb. He never learns from his decisions. He never stops making mistakes. Even in his POV he’s surprised himself by how selfish he’s being, and how that affects the people around them. But THERE ARE NO CONSEQUENCES. I know that this is only the first book, but I’ll be darned if a character arc can’t start in book one.

What did I like about this book? The LGBTQ+ rep was refreshing, because it wasn’t a plot point. It’s integrated well into the story and the setting. There was a good portion of the book, maybe 3/4 of the way through, when I was very intrigued and wanted to keep reading. Except a lot of the interesting bits of this book gave way to VERY violent things which . . . I’m not really against on the whole but didn’t feel necessary, here.

I don’t think I’ll end up reading the sequel. I don’t think I’ll be recommending this book. It was definitely unique, but the setting, story, and characters weren’t for me.

2/5 stars

 

 

 

2 stars · middle grade · paranormal

City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab: a little bland paranormal

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City of Ghosts

author : victoria schwab

pages : [hardcover] 272

memorable quote :

Embrace your strange, dear daughter. Where’s the fun in being normal?

favorite character : cass

summary :

Cassidy Blake’s parents are The Inspectres, a (somewhat inept) ghost-hunting team. But Cass herself can REALLY see ghosts. In fact, her best friend, Jacob, just happens to be one.

When The Inspectres head to ultra-haunted Edinburgh, Scotland, for their new TV show, Cass—and Jacob—come along. In Scotland, Cass is surrounded by ghosts, not all of them friendly. Then she meets Lara, a girl who can also see the dead. But Lara tells Cassidy that as an In-betweener, their job is to send ghosts permanently beyond the Veil. Cass isn’t sure about her new mission, but she does know the sinister Red Raven haunting the city doesn’t belong in her world. Cassidy’s powers will draw her into an epic fight that stretches through the worlds of the living and the dead, in order to save herself.

review :

I listened to the audiobook version and while I’ve slowly been determining that audiobooks may not be for me, my review will focus on the content of the book. Not the delivery. However much I may want to rant about it.

City of Ghosts is a paranormal story, if you couldn’t guess from the name, with a pretty unique premise and setup. Cass moves with her family to Scotland, where they’re filming a paranormal TV show. Although her parents are obsessed with the supernatural and she’s told them about the ghost that follows her, for whatever reason they decided not to believe her (?????! why). Jacob gives her cryptic warnings and is obsessed with comic books. He’s her best friend, and he’s dead.

But it was hard to connect with Jacob, in the narrative. I didn’t really find myself wondering about his past or how he’d died. All of the ghosts in this story seem to have that aspect in common. They’re pale stereotypes of what they might have once been, with little by way of personality. They aren’t particularly funny, not very ominous. They only exist. Which is not great, for a paranormal book.

However, Cass is a fantastic main character, which makes me think this series could be something great. Middlegrade readers will absolutely love her. With her dry sense of humor and her impeccable loyalty, her anxieties and her adventurous spirit, she’s the perfect lead.

Which is why I’m left thinking something that I don’t know I’ve ever considered with another book: maybe the sequel will be better. Maybe, with a new paranormal portion of the plot, new obstacles for Cass to face, the pieces of this series will come together even brighter.

2/5 stars

 

 

 

 

2 stars · fiction · young adult

All of This is True is NOT the contemporary you were looking for

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All of This is True

author : lygia day penaflor

pages : [ebook] 432

summary :

Miri Tan loved the book Undertow like it was a living being. So when she and her friends went to a book signing to meet the author, Fatima Ro, they concocted a plan to get close to her, even if her friends won’t admit it now. As for Jonah, well—Miri knows none of that was Fatima’s fault.

Soleil Johnston wanted to be a writer herself one day. When she and her friends started hanging out with her favorite author, Fatima Ro, she couldn’t believe their luck—especially when Jonah Nicholls started hanging out with them, too. Now, looking back, Soleil can’t believe she let Fatima manipulate her and Jonah like that. She can’t believe that she got used for a book.

Penny Panzarella was more than the materialistic party girl everyone at the Graham School thought she was. She desperately wanted Fatima Ro to see that, and she saw her chance when Fatima asked the girls to be transparent with her. If only she’d known what would happen when Fatima learned Jonah’s secret. If only she’d known that the line between fiction and truth was more complicated than any of them imagined. . . .

review :

I received an e-Arc of this book from Epic Reads in exchange for my honest review.

I was very excited to read All of This is True because I want to read more contemporary this year. The book is told in alternative format, which I love–in podcast interviews, emails, texts, and book excerpts. There’s a book-within-the-book going on, which I think is an interesting move. I was highly interested and didn’t know much about the plot before I dove in.

Let’s start by talking about the format. Some of the alternative text didn’t lend itself well to ebook format, though this may just be an issue with the ARC, so I’d suggest getting a physical copy to get the full affect. Still, I think it could have been done in a better way to really capture the narrative voice. The podcast interviews were impossible to tell apart—all of the girls being interviewed ended up sounding the same. Because the names of the people in the book-within-the-book, characters based on the characters we’re learning about in ‘reality’, all began with the same letters as the people they were based on, it was hard to keep track of who was who. There was no real foundation for the story to stand on.

Next, the characters. If the voice couldn’t be the foundation, surely the characters could. But they were all very unlikable, and I’m not certain that was done on purpose. I didn’t really care about any of them. I didn’t care if they were hurting, or in trouble, or excited. I didn’t want to hear their perspectives on the incident. Actually, I still don’t knowwhy the book was told in this format. Why did we need to hear their perspectives on the incident? Only one character actually says anything that adds to the intrigue of the book (such as it is). In that case, we could have focused on her for the whole of the story and made things less confusing.

The book-within-a-book was . . . bad. This is another thing that, if I knew for certain was done on purpose, I would like a lot more. The book-within-a-book is supposed to be written by this young, best-selling writing prodigy. I think she’s in her mid-twenties and she’s supposed to be really, really great at writing amazing, thought-provoking passages. The book-within-a-book was so laden with cliche and specifically YA cliche that I thought it had to be done as a parody. I really hope it was. Matching this terrible book-within-a-book with the supposed prodigy author, within the context of the theme of the real book, would make things very interesting.

The plot twist . . . as soon as that portion of the plot was mentioned, I called the resolution then and there. Actually, I thought that the book would have been better and bolder if the plot twist hadn’t existed and the plot had taken a completely different direction. Instead, the plot relied upon and built up to this twist that was completely unnecessary, that needed ‘shock value’ I guess, and made the book pretty . . . boring.

It was a very unique idea, but I can’t say that I recommend it.

2/5 stars

 

 

2 stars · fiction · young adult

Girl Out of Water: another contemporary I couldn’t get into

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girl out of water

author : laura silverman

pages : [paperback] 350

favorite character : lincoln

summary :

Anise Sawyer plans to spend every minute of summer with her friends: surfing, chowing down on fish tacos drizzled with wasabi balsamic vinegar, and throwing bonfires that blaze until dawn. But when a serious car wreck leaves her aunt, a single mother of three, with two broken legs, it forces Anise to say goodbye for the first time to Santa Cruz, the waves, her friends, and even a kindling romance, and fly with her dad to Nebraska for the entire summer. Living in Nebraska isn’t easy. Anise spends her days caring for her three younger cousins in the childhood home of her runaway mom, a wild figure who’s been flickering in and out of her life since birth, appearing for weeks at a time and then disappearing again for months, or even years, without a word.

Complicating matters is Lincoln, a one-armed, charismatic skater who pushes Anise to trade her surfboard for a skateboard. As Anise draws closer to Lincoln and takes on the full burden and joy of her cousins, she loses touch with her friends back home – leading her to one terrifying question: will she turn out just like her mom and spend her life leaving behind the ones she loves?

review :

I keep trying to find contemporary books I’ll love. I promise. But I’m beginning to think the genre really just has it out to get me.

Girl Out of Water is different. I’ve never quite read anything like it—I can certainly give it that much. Unlike most beach-y reads, where the main character moves to the shore for the summer, Anise is forced away from the ocean. This is mostly horrible to her because she loves surfing and wants to be a competitive surfer. But the move is temporary and not only that, it’s for a really, really good reason. As in, Anise doesn’t really have much room to complain about it.

But, I get it. Just because I have to do something or it’s the right thing to do, doesn’t always mean I want to do it. I can respect that. It’s just that, when those thoughts begin to overtake the entire plot it gets to drag, on and on.

The characters are fairly realistic and were surprisingly diverse, which was a nice touch. But they were fairly boring. Most of them had flat personalities. Again, this could stem from my aversion in general to contemporary stories. Their problems, for the most part, were pretty minor and petty. Their problems which were larger and more interesting ended up for the most part unresolved. Less used for character growth and more for the drama of it.

I did enjoy the fact that this book shows active girls, surfing and skating and generally enjoying sports. Not once is it mentioned that Anise is good at things “for a girl”. She’s always simply good at it (and, okay, her ego is GIGANTIC when it comes to physical activity and makes absolutely no sense. If I were the best baseball pitcher I wouldn’t just ASSUME I was also the best quarterback, you know?). I feel like this book will be really interesting to early teens who are passionate about sports.

Honestly, though, this book is a bit forgettable. There isn’t much suspense or action; it wasn’t very character-driven. It just sort of happened, and certainly wasn’t for me.

2.5/5 stars

 

2 stars · fiction · young adult

The Radius of Us: a unique contemporary

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the radius of us

author : marie marquardt

pages : [hardcover] 304

favorite character : phoenix

summary :

What happens when you fall in love with someone everyone seems determined to fear?

Ninety seconds can change a life — not just daily routine, but who you are as a person. Gretchen Asher knows this, because that’s how long a stranger held her body to the ground. When a car sped toward them and Gretchen’s attacker told her to run, she recognized a surprising terror in his eyes. And now she doesn’t even recognize herself.

Ninety seconds can change a life — not just the place you live, but the person others think you are. Phoenix Flores-Flores knows this, because months after setting off toward the U.S. / Mexico border in search of safety for his brother, he finally walked out of detention. But Phoenix didn’t just trade a perilous barrio in El Salvador for a leafy suburb in Atlanta. He became that person — the one his new neighbors crossed the street to avoid.

Ninety seconds can change a life — so how will the ninety seconds of Gretchen and Phoenix’s first encounter change theirs?

Told in alternating first person points of view, The Radius of Us is a story of love, sacrifice, and the journey from victim to survivor. It offers an intimate glimpse into the causes and devastating impact of Latino gang violence, both in the U.S. and in Central America, and explores the risks that victims take when they try to start over. Most importantly, Marie Marquardt’s The Radius of Us shows how people struggling to overcome trauma can find healing in love.

review :

The Radius of Us is an important book and an interesting book, but not an entertaining book. By that I mean in a contemporary novel, I usually expect a more gripping plot. Unfortunately this one kept the characters at the distance and didn’t delve as deeply into its themes as I thought it might.

I went into this book knowing absolutely nothing about it. That’s how I find some of my favorites. But I have to admit that contemporary has always been a hit or miss genre for me; you have to have some speculator writing, characters, and themes for me to read about life as I already know it. Usually I don’t really need someone else to tell me about the world.

But books like The Radius of Us are usually the exception, because this book presents a viewpoint I don’t think I’ve ever seen before in YA literature. The book is told in alternating points of view. Half of the book is told by Gretchen, a teen from Georgia who has a myriad of issues after experiencing something horrible, and Phoenix, a year or two older than her, having run from El Salvador to seek asylum in the US.

Honestly, I might have liked this book better if it was gold only from Phoenix’s POV. So young, having been through so much, and having to face so much more still in Georgia. I understand Gretchen as a counterpoint–a reference US readers might relate to more easily–but her character felt so flat compared to Phoenix. I rooted for him, hoped for him, felt sympathy for him–and Gretchen could only fail as a comparison.

The Radius of Us did succeed in making me determined to read more books from diverse POV, because these different experiences are so important to try to understand through literature. It discusses privilege, racism, gang activity, immigration, and more. All amazing, important themes that the writing just falls flat on supporting.

2/5 stars

2 stars · Fantasy · young adult

Monstrous Beauty: a gruesome but disappointing mermaid tale

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Monstrous Beauty

author : elizabeth fama

pages : [hardcover] 295

favorite character : ezra

summary :

Fierce, seductive mermaid Syrenka falls in love with Ezra, a young naturalist. When she abandons her life underwater for a chance at happiness on land, she is unaware that this decision comes with horrific and deadly consequences.

Almost one hundred forty years later, seventeen-year-old Hester meets a mysterious stranger named Ezra and feels overwhelmingly, inexplicably drawn to him. For generations, love has resulted in death for the women in her family. Is it an undiagnosed genetic defect . . . or a curse? With Ezra’s help, Hester investigates her family’s strange, sad history. The answers she seeks are waiting in the graveyard, the crypt, and at the bottom of the ocean—but powerful forces will do anything to keep her from uncovering her connection to Syrenka and to the tragedy of so long ago.

review :

I love mermaids, and I’m forever searching for my perfect mermaid book. I’m still searching, because Monstrous Beauty turned into a monstrous disappointment.

I went into the book only knowing it would involve mermaids in some way–my favorite way to dive into a book involves knowing as little as possible in advance. In the first fifty of so pages, I was in love. The story alternated between two points of view, Syrenka (a mermaid in the 19th century) and Hester (the typical ‘normal’ girl in a contemporary setting). I liked the disparity between the two POVs, though was more invested in the past (because MERMAID). The prose was good, though tight and plain as sometimes happens with contemporary, even contemporary fantasy.

And then.

Things began to go downhill with the dialogue, when I soon came to realize that no one was saying anything that a normal person would ever say. In the chapters from the past, the language choices could be more forgiving, but Hester and her friends in the present didn’t talk at all like teenagers or . . . Actually, anyone that I can think of. For example, she continuously refers to her love interest as her “lover”, and I can’t think of any teenager who’d do so and wouldn’t immediately burst into laughter afterward.

Then the insta-love. Why must mermaid novels ALWAYS include insta-love? It painfully exists here and even then, it can’t seem to remain consistent. On one page Hester claims she’ll never love anyone else again if she loses her beloved. On the next she muses about whether she’ll live to see her grandchildren. Then again, if she falls in love so quickly, perhaps she falls out of love just as fast.

Then the ghosts. Why were there ghosts? Somehow they fit into this version of mermaid lore that we’re never really given clear parameters on. I love ghost stories (and, contrary to my love of mermaids, have indeed found ghost stories I love). But the mermaid mythology here was complicated enough without introducing the spirits, most of whom seemed completely irrelevant apart from adding a few extra pages of attention and making Hester seem like a bit of an idiot. I mean, she wonders why no one else seems able to see or hear these things, and knows about people who died in those exact spots, AND knows mermaids exist . . So can’t put two and two together to decide ghosts are real as well.

I did like how dark this story went with the mermaid myth and the tone it took in the chapters from the past. But that initial attraction wasn’t enough to save it from all of the problems thrown in there.

I can’t recommend this book.

2/5 stars

 

2 stars · fiction · science fiction

Clean Room Volume 2: interesting, not captivating

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Clean Room: Volume 2

Exile

author : gail simone

illustrator : jon davis-hunt

pages : [paperback] 144

summary :

Journalist Chloe Pierce had no idea that her fiance Philip’s decision to pick up a book by enigmatic and compelling self-help guru Astrid Mueller would change her life forever–by ending his! Three months after reading Mueller’s book, Philip had blown his brains out all over Chloe’s new kitchen and something in that book made him do it.
Now, Chloe will stop at nothing as she attempts to infiltrate Mueller’s clandestine organization to find the truth behind Philip’s suicide and a “Clean Room” that she’s heard whispers of–a place where your deepest fears are exposed and your worst moments revealed.

This volume features a spectacularly disturbing standalone issue that delves into the depths of Astrid’s terrifying personal history and explains why demons have haunted her since birth.

review :

Clean Room: Volume 2, Exile picks up immediately after volume one. There’s intrigue and monsters, gory and vivid panels on nearly every other page, and a lot of questions still to be answered. Unfortunately, many of them continue unanswered throughout the entirety of this volume, but I suppose that’s what volume three is for, right?

Exile follows a lot more of Astrid’s story, and speaks more about her followers as well. Actually, there’s almost nothing new exposed about Chloe, the would-be journalist from volume one who I thought was intended to be the main focus of the series. The view flips between her and Astrid often, but rather than giving an all-encompassing view, this only ensures that readers never really get the full picture of what is going on.

Which means that little to no answers are given in this volume, at least until the very end. The conclusion of this volume hints that all will be revealed, or at least placed out in greater detail, in the next set of issues. Still, it would be nice to be thrown a little something every once in a while, apart from gratuitous violence and proving just how far these monsters are willing to go to harm these people. Again, there are the chillingly creative panels where the monsters demonstrate just how monstrous they can be.

Still. I would have been more pleased with this follow-up if it was more story and answers (or, even, more interesting questions) than perpetuating over and over again the power these monsters have to manipulate the people. That was clear from the first issue. Now it’s become redundant.

I’m determined, though, to see this through to the end, because it is an interesting concept, like nothing I’ve ever read before, and I want to see where they take the story. I’ll be going on to volume three.

I’d recommend this volume if you really like horror and gory intrigue. It definitely isn’t the type of graphic novel for people looking to read something happy.

2/5 stars