I found this book in the Young Adult section accidentally, just combing through the list of titles. The book's size was a little bigger than the rest on its shelf (and it was the only one there) so I took it out and...
...IT HAS A PRETTY COVER! OOOH!
Seriously though, I picked this up only because I can get a 25% discount on The Time Traveller's Wife and only on an impulse.
It was a good decision, in retrospect.
The book details the life of Mia ...or the adolescent part of it, anyway. Mia is a normal middle-child who has a bitch as a sister and a weirdo of a little brother; so what's new?
Well, for starters, she can see colors when no one can.
You see, for Mia, letters and numbers and sounds, they all have colors for her. For example, the mew of her cat, Mango, has the color of, well, mango. (Hence the name.) To her, this is normal but when her parents find out, they collectively freak out.
Mia's Mom: I told you not to take drugs!
Mia's Dad: What drugs? My cousin was the one who took drugs! And how is that relevante here?
Mia: (exasperated silence)
Mia's parents, like all parents would after finding out their daughters are seeing things they're not, thought she was nuts. She's not. Quite simply, she has a condition that is not harmful nor is it a disability.
She has synasthesia.
After that discovery, the book primarily deals with coming to terms with Mia's condition. Mia accepting it with joy; her family supporting her and her best friend...
...ah, yes. Mia gets into a fight with her best friend. It's interesting how it plays out but the potential is lost near the end. But it's pretty good.
Also, as with any typical teen story, there has to be a tinge of romance. It's not sappy and it has an almost clinical outlook on it. But well, by this time, you can already guesss what will happen.
All in all, it's a good book, if slightly flawed. Give it a shot but don't expect too much out of it.
7 out of 10
Friday, January 20, 2006
Wikipedia. Horror. Link. HP Lovecraft. Link. Clive Barker. And I get this. It's going to be made a movie. (Yes, I know, ANOTHER movie tie-in) pretty soon, so upon running into it at Pay Less Books, I decided that I'd get a peek at it before the movie comes out. It was described as a children's book, but a horror book at the same time. So it intrigued me. THIS is what I should have been reading during my days as a kid. THIS is the bedtime story I want to tell my children (If I ever get married. Hm. Nah) Because hey, it's a children's story. It's like 'Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.... Of Doom'.
Like most children's books, this book features children who get whisked off to magical faraway places, or just places that are plain bizzarre where they see things from their wildest dreams. The main character, Harvey Swick is sent to the Holiday House, a place that every child would want to go. There its always spring in the morning, summer in the afternoon, Halloween in the evening (Autumn) and Christmas at night (winter). Oh yay, joy. In an Enid Blyton book, the children will have fun, then go home, and live happily ever after, just that they miss the place.
But then Enid Blyton had no hand at all in this.
The children aren't allowed to leave, and the Holiday House seems to have secrets of the demonic kind. Will Harvey Swick be able to get out alive?
What I love about this book is its disturbing underlaying tones which might not seem too apparent to the average child, but oh yes, its there. And the bad guys don't explode into rainbows and candy. It's got darkness which it doesn't try too desperately to hide. And unlike a certain other book about a certain factory of chocolates, the bizarreness of this book doesn't feel all that childish. Sure there are transformations and stuff. But no one gets turned into a giant blueberry. And the tour-guide isn't a Depp-turned-into-Michael-Jackson.
Extra points for that.
Granted, I haven't read Chocolate Factory, but the movie just made it so much less appealing to me, that I don't think I ever will.
Good thing I picked this up before the movie, then.
I give it a 7 out of 10.
at 12:58 PM
Early holidays. My reading list was still thick and I was still on a no-buying policy when it came to books. Then one day dad went to Borders. ^^ And then I found this.
You won't find a proper synopsis at the back of the book, but I took a chance. This is what was promised at the back: a wide range of characters stuck in royally messed up situations. These include a literature analyst, a sorcerer, a hideously deformed clown, a body-switching werewolf, a girl dressed up as a guy, and a brainwashed British lord who is also a poet. Oh, and did I mention that this book involves time travel?
Apparently word goes around that as far as time-travel related novels go, this one is one of the best And after reading it, I can see why. It has the sense of wit, adventure, and a large array of things that don't make sense, but come together just cleanly at the end, leaving you going 'Oh!' Not in an errotic sense >< I think too much. So anyway, the main character, the literature guy is offered a chance to go back in time to see this poet he's researching for his book, in exchange for him briefing and explaining the situation to a bunch of other rich guys who are paying his benefactor to go back and witness the event. They arrive, they witness the event, but just as the others are leaving, the main character gets left behind in 18th century England with no money, no connections, and no place to go.
And then there's the fact that some Egyptian guy seems intent on learning the secret of time travel from him, which he knows nothing of- not that the Egyptian guy cares. It's all in the torturing anyway. So yeah, one royally messed up situation leading to another, there's rarely a dull moment in this book. It's like a kind of adventure that Indiana Jones would kill to be a part of.
The romance isn't so well developed as the other parts of the book, but hey, who cares? (Not me, that's for sure). Keep me excited and up till wee hours of the morning, turning pages and I'm happy. More than happy, even. I'm hooked. I used to only take interest in Greecian and Roman deities, but lately I've been checking up on Ancient Egyptian culture too. ^^ Woot!
Ah, and for anyone interested in writing scenes involving sword-fights, pay close attention: The final scene of this book pulls off a very good sword fight, which isn't draggy nor is it dull. And just whoa, I'll say it's one of the best face-offs I've read in a book.
I won't rant more. I'll just say it's good, and leave it here with 9 out of 10.
at 10:54 AM
The concluding chapter in the Old Kingdom Trilogy (which I still insist should be a duology) It picks up where Lirael left off. It doesn't feel like an all new story altogether, because it's not meant to be. It's meant to tie up the story and that's what it does. Nothing more. Nothing less. This book is satisfying enough, in the sense that it maintains the same things that made Lirael good, and threw in more tight situations, and higher stakes. The story itself starts with the main character trapped on an island with the enemies preparing to make their move. And it only gets more and more intense.
Abhorsen is a roller coaster ride. Where Lirael and Sabriel had time to try and bring out the world in the back of your mind, Abhorsen has you rushing along from one place to another as the characters try to save it. The characters develop a lot more here from this point onwards, partially because they have no choice, partially because of the situations they've come out from in 'Lirael' and partially because of the revelations made at the end of that book. (I'm not giving anything away). Character dynamics are better in this book, as far as I'm concerned. But as it serves only as a conclusion, there's not much else I can say about this book.
There is an underlying 'coming-of-age' and 'accepting what you are' kind of theme running overall in this one. And it wraps up with a tragedy or two, which is always good, or it would have ended up too rosy. But it is at that final tragedy that you realize how much the character Lirael has grown. And you'll appreciate this book all the more for it.
I heard that there's a sequel for this. That short, small, purple book. I'm not picking it up, if only because I feel like this was a good fullstop. Too much dragging of a good thing makes it annoying.
7 out of 10 for this book.
8.5 out of 10 for the last two books, or if Lirael and Abhorsen had just been joined into one.
For the entire trilogy (which unfortunately includes Sabriel), I'll give it a 6. So for everyone's sake, let's pretend 'Sabriel' doesn't exist.
at 10:44 AM
Odd how I should be getting to this before Khairul, considering that the trilogy was his discovery.
And after how I attacked the last book, you might find it funny that I originally wanted to decide between 'Sabriel' and 'East' while I was shopping with Khairul at Kinokuniya- to which when I asked for his opinion, he asked me to choose 'East', and I rather reluctantly did so. Part of me was screaming that 'Sabriel' was better. Why else would it have a fancier cover? Why else would there be so many copies in Kinokuniya? Well, needless to say I don't regret picking 'East' one bit. But it's funny how Khairul came back later to pick up 'Sabriel'. I'd almost forgotten about it because of 'East'.
Right, in this book, Garth Nix is finally getting somewhere. I say this because most of the holes in Sabriel were filled in this one (most, not all). And in the grand scheme of things, eventually you'll realise that 'Oh, THIS is the main character of the trilogy, NOT Sabriel.' And then you'll sigh with relief. Because 'Lirael' is so much more interesting. (Both the book 'Lirael' and the character 'Lirael'.) Unlike Sabriel, she isn't born to a 'wonderful sacred duty/destiny', so you can feel the contrast there. Far from in, in fact. Lirael is a suicidal girl who was drawn and detailed with quirks, a missing past, guilt, resilience, and a sense of wanting to belong. Sabriel was a hero, who had a sacred duty... and she did it. End of story. Now, Lirael weaves a more tangled web than Sabriel, and that makes it so much better.
The story starts years after Sabriel, introducing us to Lirael. She's a completely different character than Sabriel, as she doesn't start out as an Abhorsen or a necromancer. She is meant to be a Clayr, a Seer. Only her powers haven't developed yet, which causes her to feel like she doesn't belong. Hence the suicidal tendecies. She's a very depressed girl. Though I admit that strong commanding characters like Sabriel turn me on more, Sabriel didn't have enough behind her to make her feel real, while Lirael does. Add a missing past to Lirael's life (she has never met her mother, which leads her to doubt that she has inherited any Clayr blood at all), and you've got a character that you actually want to turn pages for.
In terms of her journey, it feels better because what the villains are actually attempting to do are not exactly clear, with a complicated web drawing it different, unique people- from Sabriel's son Sameth, to the scientific Nicholas who has something inside of him, to the companions of Lirael and Sameth, respectively The Disreputable Dog and Mogget. Yes, a talking dog AND a talking cat. Throughout the story, Dog and Mogget drop hints that there's a lot more going on then we're being led on to, which makes the story feel a lot less linear and more complicated than the first book.
There are more twists in this one. More intense scenes. Even the world feels a bit more alive now.
If anything though, the villains still feel traditional. But they're still a lot better than the one in Sabriel, which, by the time you finish this book, you'll realize that the book 'Sabriel', in the grand scheme of things, was a waste of time.
9 out of 10. It's well worth a read.
at 10:27 AM
The first book in the Old Kingdom trilogy. Yes I've finally gotten round to reading the whole thing, regardless of the fact that it was originally quite far down my reading list. Nicholas borrowed it from me, and another guy subsequently borrowed it from him, and I the other guy told me that it was worth the time. It convinced me that maybe there was something exceptional about this book after all, now that Khairul wasn't the only person who was telling me 'Sabriel is good!'.
As Khairul has mentioned in his review, the story opens with the birth of the main character, then immediately jumps to a point in her life where she's about to embark on her journey to save her dad (who happens to be a necromancer. Lots of dead things mentioned in this book), which leads her from one thing to another. The world is drawn nicely, though there wasn't so much emphasis on descriptions. This was both a good thing and a bad thing, in my opinion. Good because the descriptions didn't bore me and drag too long, just enough to get me interested in the world, bad because it got me interested, but didn't care enough to satisfy my curiosity. The world in this book is attention-grabbing enough, but in the end it left me feeling that there was a lot more to it than the author was going on about.
For the storyline, it felt quite linear to me. But maybe that's because I've just read one too many fantasy novels. Though I like journeys, and there was a plus point that the setting was a cold place, and the end of it all. it feels like going somewhere, oh, go somewhere else, oh, go somewhere else, fight the bad guy, end. There was a total of one twist throughout the story which was of any significance, as far as I was concerned, but it felt quite lame in the grand scheme of things, which ended up with me not liking the main couple so much. The characters are alive, but like the world they are alive enough to warrant wanting to find out more- something you'll never get. If there was a character that I felt satisfied with, it was Mogget, the talking cat. Sarcastic and mean, he adds life to the story which the other two characters- Sabriel and Touchstone lacked in one way or another.
It didn't help that the bad guy was just the bad guy and nothing more. I expected a lot more character dynamics, and that left me feeling a tad bit disappointed.
On the whole scale though, its adequate for a fantasy story. Though it introduces a few new concepts, the delivery of it felt rushed and the characters weren't as endearing as they could have been. But apart from that, it should be alright, especially if you're new to this genre. Otherwise you'll feel like it could have been so much more.
6 out of 10. At least it's not 'The Light Ages'. (pukes)
at 10:10 AM