Saturday, February 8, 2014

Shorter Musings: Some Recent Speculative Fiction Reads

Sometimes I read a book, and I even enjoy it, but I don't have much to say about it. I jot down a few thoughts and then I move on. When these start to pile up, I put them together in one post.

Here are some recent Speculative Fiction Reads (both MG and YA) and my thoughts.


Avalon by Mindee Arnett
 I wanted to like Avalon so much. I enjoyed the author's previously published work, The Nightmare Affair, quite a bit and this new book has such an interesting premise. The concept is intriguing. There is a corrupt government type agency, intergalactic mobsters, mysterious happenings in a Bermuda Triangle sort of place in space, and some pretty high stakes. AND I WAS BORED OUT OF MY MIND. I shouldn't have been. There was some intense stuff going on. I blame it on the characters, who are flat as paper and just as easily disposable. They were all types and none of them, including the narrator ever moved beyond that. When the plot twists actually started occurring it was too late. I had so little invested that I still couldn't be made to care. My disappointment is probably magnified by how much I was looking forward to this. I'm sure that it will find an audience that will love it. Sadly, I can not be a part of that group. I'm too much of a character reader.
REVIEW COPY received from publisher via Edelweiss.

Far Far Away by Tom MacNeal
Yes, Far Far Away has all those literary elements people like to declare "important" and get all excited about. I can see why people who like those sort of things would like this book. I, however, do not like intrusive narrators, and this book's narrator made me want to smack him. This is unfortunate since he is also really the main character. For the majority of the book, the reader is treated to the ghost of Jacob Grimm discussing his intrusions into the life of a young man and his observances on him and everyone else in the town. It is slooooowwwww. I couldn't connect with any of the characters because Jacob was keeping me at a distance from them as he pontificated about their lives like a pompous windbag. Then all of a sudden it kicks into a kidnapping-serial-killer book. Oh-kay. Interesting, or maybe would have been if I had cared about any of the characters. And still it managed to have the pace of a turtle stuck in mud.

The Hostage Prince by Jane Yolen

The Hostage Prince is about the ever lasting feud between the Seelie and Unseelie courts. A Seelie prince and an Unseelie girl team up to escape what they both think are their certain deaths. The story, which is not very long, took a long time to get started. There is a lot of action, but none of it feels like it is going anywhere for a long time. The characters aren't well developed. I really liked them by the end but at the point it was a little too late. It is a quick read with a lot of adventure so a good recommendation for those kids who fly through fantasy books and are always looking for a new series.

A Snicker of Magic by Natalie Lloyd
I may have found this book more charming and less annoying if it had not immediately followed my reading The Ghosts of Tupelo Landing. Sometimes reading order makes a difference, but I don't think it would have changed my mind too much. I have very little tolerance for the small southern town full of quirky novel, and this small fictional southern town happens to be near the southern city I live in. The plot is slow and not very much happens. It involves a lot of individual old stories coming together as one and this is not executed as well as it could have been. The book is saved from being completely disastrous by Felicity's character who is sympathetic and works hard to become who she wants to be. I will have no problem recommending this book to my students, but I didn't enjoy it much and I could think of a whole list of books I would rather give them first. It will appeal to kids who like words and language and don't mind slower plots. 
REVIEW COPY received from publisher at ALA Midwinter. 

2 comments:

  1. I just received a late ARC of A SNICKER OF MAGIC, and I'm hoping I like it. I do love food and fantasy, and the two mixed together really worked for me in last year's A TANGLE OF KNOTS. This one sounded similar (?) to me. Anyway, we will see!

    p.s. I was so glad you affirmed the boring-ness of AVALON on twitter that night... I was beginning to worry I'd lost my taste for YA SF!

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    1. If you liked A TANGLE OF KNOTS, you will probably enjoy A SNICKER OF MAGIC. I didn't really like TANGLE either. I'm too much of a character reader to enjoy those books that have a huge cast. Also, there's the whole southern=quirky thing in SNICKER and I'm so over it.

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