Monday, 31 March 2014

The Dark Redemption of Chaotic Creatures

So I thought this week I would review a series that I didn't like. Which was disappointing because I really wanted to like this series.
  The series I will be reviewing is Beautiful Creatures series, or the Castor Chronicles, by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl.
  I was a bit late reading this series, I jumped on the wagon after the movie was out, (though I haven't seen it yet). I'd seen the trailer and was really excited, it looked like something that I would love.
  The first book was ok, slower moving than I would have liked but it wasn't bad. It's set in the small town of Gatlin, told by the viewpoint of Ethan. Nothing much ever happens in this town, until, one day a new girl arrives, Lena. She is different to anyone that Ethan has ever met, and strange things keep happening whenever she is near. Ethan can't help but be drawn to lena, and as he grows closer to her what he discovers is shocking, she is a castor. On her sixteenth birthday she will ether be claimed for the light or for the dark, either way will have disastrous consequences.
  There were many elements of this book that I did actually like, I loved that the house reflected the mood of the occupants, and reading about each castors different abilities. I also liked that Lena was a more independent female lead than I was used to.
  We're headed for the spoiler section now...
  What I didn't like about this series comes mostly after this book. I felt that when at the end of the first book when Lena has procrastinated her claiming, it just drags. It seems that everything after that is a repeat of the first book. Must stop claiming. Must not go dark.
  In the second and following books I found that Lena was a much more annoying character. I also thought that things seemed far too easy to figure out, like everything was brought to light just as they needed it.
  The third book also seemed unnecessary, only the end seemed to matter. To be honest, apart from the ending I don't even remember too much of the third book. I was surprised to see that the start of the fourth book wasn't a miraculous recovery. Ethan jumps and was killed, and I was annoyed because I didn't see why it had to be Ethan, even though he was the Wayward, I didn't understand why that was significant enough for him to be the only one who could make the sacrifice.
  I felt that things picked back up again in the last book. It too seemed a little longer than necessary, especially at the beginning. Once communication was made with Lena, we got to see from her point of view, that was interesting, though at times it was hard to remember that it wasn't Ethan speaking.
  I liked the 'epic' type twist to it, I like when there is a quest and things that must be done to pass certain boundaries. So I liked to see the end. Though I was sad to see Amma go, I felt like that tied in better than the sacrifice that Ethan had made.
  I felt the end, was a little confusing, did Ethan go back in time? Were the others still aware of what happened?
  Overall, I thought that this series had a good idea, but didn't really deliver on it. I felt it had been too drawn out, and that a lot of things didn't make sense, as if things were just added in later on and not fully thought through. I probably won't read these again, but this is one of the rare occasions where I think the movie will be more interesting than the book.

Monday, 24 March 2014

Fans and Rainbows

  I thought I'd actually review a book for once. I originally thought that reviews would mostly what I used this blog for, but it turns out I've hardly done any.
  Today I'm going to talk about FanGirl, by Rainbow Rowell. This book has been given a lot of hype in the reading community.Though I don't read a lot of contemporary books I was excited, and a little late, to read it.
 Like before I'm not going to give much of the plot away, just more describing it as a whole

(you will be warned of spoilers don't worry).
 I want to start by describing how much I love the cover, I love its simple design. I also LOVED the inside of the cover, because I wasn't expecting it. Inside the cover are illustrations of some of the main characters. They are so cute and stylised, really helped me to picture the characters in my own head. On the inside of the back cover is a little comic-book-style, scene from the book. It was brilliant, like a teaser trailer.
  The actual book its self was really easy to get into, the characters were so real. I related a lot to Cath, who doesn't get out much or talk a lot to people.
  Is it weird that I wish I was a little more obsessive? Cath dedicates so much of her time to writing her fan fiction. I wish I had that much dedication and persistence.
  I liked that the 'Simon Snow' series was so familiar, almost running parallel with the Harry Potter series.
  I loved the college setting, I wish I had read this a few months ago when I had started my first year of 'proper' college. The situations were so familiar, and the people I could almost match up to ones in my own life.
  There was a good bit of swearing, just saying for the younger readers out there, growing up in Ireland I'm used to hearing it, but seeing it written down, was strange.
  At the end (now comes a few spoilers, skip if you want to the next paragraph), I loved to see how she didn't agree to take credit with Nick. I loved how she didn't give him the inch it would have taken him to take advantage. I also loved that she was able to see passed the imaginary deadline for finishing her fan fiction. I know all about imaginary deadlines and how stressful and all-important that they can seem, so seeing Cath see past that was really reassuring in a strange, personal way.
  All in all, I loved this book. I loved how familiar the characters seemed by the end of it, how much I could relate to the main character. I loved the familiar circumstances and how cute the relationships were. I would read it again in a heartbeat.

Monday, 17 March 2014

The Inner Workings of the Kingdom

  What is it that makes a kingdom? What is it that makes people think, "I'm gonna follow them and do what they say." What gives someone that control and that power?
  I love my fantasy. Fantasy kingdoms and worlds are where I live when I'm not at home. So, naturally I put a decent amount of thought into their inner workings. I think, one of the key factors in a liveable kingdom is a believable monarchy. What makes a believable monarchy? I always think of my favourites first. Not always strictly speaking about literal 'monarchies' and 'kingdoms' but the same kind of thing in whichever story. 
  First off, I always think of Voldemort. While he was not 'ruler', he was definitely a leader. How did he build his group? Was it just his charisma and prowess? Did he get lucky? How did the Dark Lord rise in power? How did he maintain it? Why did no other Death Eater gain control when he was gone? Even though I have a few questions, I believe it. It makes sense that Voldemort was the only one who could have done it. 
  Next, I think of a different sort of authority. Aslan. He is the Christ-like figure, which maintains his power through the belief and devotion of his followers. The opposition, comes from those who don't believe that he exists at all. Not that they do not believe in his policies, but that they don't believe in his existence and therefore that he can not carry them out. Yet, Aslan, is the definite leader of Narnia. The kings, princes, queens and anyone else, are only just standing in on his behalf.

  So, is it divine power or is it, the power given by the people that creates a ruler? Which is the authority that readers crave? 
  I personally think that it is partially both. Dependant on the fantastical society in which the 'kingdom' resides. 
  A ruler with divine authority will ideally have the citizens devotion, but if they disagree with the choice of monarchy, if there is discontent in the kingdom then will divine consent be enough? for everybody? For a ruler to be powerful, for a ruler to be great, then they must also have the loyalty of the people. 

Monday, 10 March 2014

Froward and Forward

  I blame Toy Story for my guilt about mistreating inanimate objects. I use the term mistreat lightly. You see, like toys that have not been played with, I feel like if I abandon a book midway, that it will spend the rest of its bookish life crying on my shelf, or crying in a second hand book store. I don't know if I could have that on my conscience.
  I know I've talked before about how I have to finish a book once I start it, unless I just can't. Which is a rare occurrence. I actually admire people who can stop reading a book because they just didn't like the story.
  I suppose I shouldn't feel guilty over not finishing a book that I don't like, it's not like it's required that I like every book that I begin. And yet I can't shake that childhood belief that the book will miss me and wish it had been read the whole way through.
  There's nothing more sad than seeing something abandoned. There is a beautiful book by Tarquin Blake, called Abandoned Mansions of Ireland. It uses photography to show the ruins of old (and not quite so old) Irish mansions. I love to look through the images and imagine what they looked like at the height of their glory. Something about seeing the great fall is kind of tragic I think. And I'd hate to think of my bookshelf like that, like the hallowed halls of a once richly furnished house.  
 I think if I look on it more like a quest it would help. See, I like to think of my bookshelf, not as a housing for my books, but as a universe in which thousands of worlds exist. And if I catch myself sailing towards an area that I don't want to explore, I should be able to turn my wheel and move on to a new adventure. Right? I mean, if I were on a literal ship I would turn away from dangerous harbours, or look for the most beautiful spots to disembark on, why should my fictional coastline be any different?
  Though there are some books that I'm glad I've never finished, I'm glad I was able to break from my OCD and shut the book and sell it. Some things I just don't want to go there.
  I suppose every universe will have its abandoned corners. The areas that are neglected amidst the brightly lit, frequently visited worlds. Is that always a bad thing? It adds just a dash of mystery.


Monday, 3 March 2014

Beyond the Backyards of Ridiculous

  You know what's out there don't you? They told you. What need have you to see for yourself? You already know.
  It has started to really get me thinking, how much our first impressions, lead to our final opinion of something. How too much negative hype can effect how you read something, or can prevent you from reading it at all. Or even, if there's too much positive hype and then you're disappointed because you had it in your mind that it would change your life.
  I'm going to
use an example that will annoy a lot of people. I'm sorry, but it's probably one of the best examples of what I'm talking about.
  Do you remember just before the first Twilight movie came out? Just before the entire thing got blown out of proportion. Before you even really knew what it was about. When you saw someone reading it on the bus, or on the windowsill in the school bathroom (that was me), and then you saw someone else reading it in the hall, and then you overheard two people talking about it ahead of you in the que. And then you thought to yourself, 'What's that about?'. Suddenly, there's a poster for it outside the local cinema, 'coming soon'. If your an avid reader like me, you probably thought, time is running out, now I have to read them, or I won't be able to go see the movie.
  I remember that I didn't care that it wasn't written great, I didn't care that it seemed stalker-esk. I just wanted to see what would happen next. Because it was exciting. Because I wanted to see what would happen next. Because I was brought into this world, and I didn't remember that I was reading until I had closed the book again.
  Fast forward five movies. Your here in the present again with me? So, the books didn't translate too well as movies. Now you don't need to read the book because, the plot has been picked apart online so many times that your tired of it before you even begin. You know whats gonna happen. How could Bella be so stupid? Why can't she rescue herself? Just watch the movies, it's faster. No, don't they're terrible. Seriously they're brilliant. What do you mean you've never read them? You've read them twice and you liked that drivel?
  Maybe you didn't like it as much as you thought you did after all. Maybe it was never that good and you were just buying into it at the time. In fact, now you think about it, you didn't like it at all. Nah, I just read it to say I had. Or did I even finish the series? No I don't think I ever even watched them.
  It is hard to remember sometimes, why you originally liked something. It's even harder to stand up against the general consensus. I have decided I will not be a book sheep. I will not just agree to what 'everyone' else says about books without making my own analysis first. I want my opinion to be my opinion and not anyone else's. Because, really, what do they know? I've probably read more than them anyway.