That said, here are the couple of fannish things I am excited about atm:
1) watching American Idol, from Season 1 on, purely for the Ryan/Simon love. This is all Clio's fault. And you guys, I've never seen a full episode of American Idol. EVER.
2) IT'S ALMOST MAY 5th. MAY 5th, GUYS. THAT MEANS HIKAGO TOP 5 MEME. :DDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDD
3) Catching up on half a season of Bones. Not that I will be able to do this ANY TIME SOON, sigh, but that's okay, it's still there and it will still be AWESOME. Oh, Bones. ♥
OH EDITH PATTOU, WHY.
Things I Liked about this book:
1. THIS IS PRETTY MUCH TWILIGHT FOR THE FURRY SET. Which is totally why I bought it, come on, she falls in love with a BEAR. :D
2. The love and the care with which the culture, setting, historical background, languages, traditions, and universe of this novel are built. It's set in Northern Europe, with bypasses through France all the way up to the Arctic Circle, and there's a lot of careful attention to detail and realism paid to all the different cultures Pattou works with. The detail, I think, is her undoing, because as she emphasizes realism, she loses character believability, but more on that in a second.
3. The fairytale-ness of it. I love retellings of fairy tales, I love them. I liked the tone of this overall; it was a very flowing, almost lulling narrative voice, and it worked well (mostly) for the story it was telling.
4. I liked the ending. It dovetailed really nicely, and didn't once feel less fairytale-ish from beginning to end.
Things That Quite Rationally Annoyed Me About This Book:
1. IT IS NOT A CHILDREN'S BOOK.
It is not a children's book in the same vein that fairy tales aren't for children when you unpack them. And this book does the work of unpacking a fairy tale - in this case, the sublimely creepy "East of the Sun, West of the Moon" - without doing what I feel is the equally necessary work of rendering said fairy tale in three-dimensional terms. So you have EXTREMELY CREEPY THINGS happening without any sort of remotely realistic reaction to them.
2. THIS IS PRETTY MUCH TWILIGHT FOR THE FURRY SET. Which is, again, great. Except that she's
3. only 15 at the time and
4. the bear is actually a grown man, a man who has been actively stalking her since she was 4, waiting for her to grow up to be old enough for him to kidnap, because presumably he decides when she is 4 that she will fall possess the ability to fall in love with him. EWWWWWW. (note: it gets creepier). This fact is made either less or more creepy, I'm not really sure which, by the fact that he has been actively stalked since he was a kid by someone known to us only as "TROLL QUEEN," the conveniently evil spoiled princess who tries to kidnap him. Which makes her father turn him into a bear. They kind of glossed over the logic there, okay. LOOK IT MADE SENSE IN THE ORIGINAL.
5. EVERYONE IS WEIRDLY PASSIVE. The bear's just like, "oh, okay, I guess I'm a bear," and Rose (oh, that's the heroine's name; ALSO ANNOYING) is just like, "oh, okay, I guess I have to go off with this bear," and her mom is just like, "oh, okay, I guess you have to go off with this bear" and then later Rose is just like, "oh, okay, there's this stranger getting into bed with me, I guess I should let them," and her mom's like, "oh, okay, so this bear comes and sleeps with your fifteen-year-old-self at night, there's clearly nothing we can do about this but here, have a lamp that can light up any darkness, THAT'LL HELP," and then later the bear's like, "oh, okay, I guess I should passively go off with this troll queen now, even though I'm a BEAR and GIGANTICALLY HUGE, and I can apparently run REALLY FAST," and BASICALLY EVERYONE IS WEIRD IN THIS NOVEL.
6. Did I mention the part where THE BEAR COMES AND SLEEPS WITH ROSE (as a boy, of course) and Rose is just like OH HUH OKAY. That is what I mean about retelling fairy tales. If you're going to unpack their narratives, you can't not also unpack character motivation. Because otherwise it just makes the characters all look like they're sleepwalking through the narrative using fairy-tale logic where characters just go along with things that don't make sense, like enchanted castles and magic potions. Which is fine, except that much care is given from the outset of this story to make this world very real and accessible and beautiful to young readers, so it becomes an accessible world with somewhat inaccessible characters. And there's SO much passive acceptance in this story that it comes across as flawed writing rather than an attempt to reproduce a dreamlike state of fairy tale acceptance. Actually, the more I think about it, I feel like my issue is that this book won both YA and Children's book awards, and I found it shelved in the YA department. But as a YA novel it doesn't work, because teens will go "wtf" at the stuff that happens in this book, that the book doesn't do the work of really exploring. As a child's novel, I feel like it actually engenders more acceptance from its audience, because of the sense of lore and fairy tale woven into its narrative; except that books where bears stalk young girls and sleep with them when they're 15 aren't really meant for children, and my brain can't get beyond that.
7. There's a whole bunch of "somehow I did X unbelievable thing" and "somehow, despite my misgivings, I just knew X eyebrow-raising premise," throughout this book. Once or twice is fine, but when you have it happen again and again, and when it usually involves Rose doing things like miraculously surviving near-death experiences, or calmly accepting wildly implausible things like not eating for like 2 weeks straight or a strange person climbing into bed with her, it borders on absurd. (JIM BUTCHER, I AM LOOKING AT YOU. Although this type of thing happens so often in The Dresden Files that it's basically self-parody at this point. Then again, he is a wizard! And Our Heroine doesn't have nearly anything like that as an excuse.)
8. This book unfortunately has a Mystical Colored Person, in this case the female shaman and leader of an Inuit tribe, voluntarily temporarily giving up her leadership of her tribe to go lead our uber-white, uber-European Rose north through the arctic circle to find the troll kingdom (there's this castle, the bear got taken away after the light incident, look, long story, ok). I think this would be tolerable in context, but there's this one very unfortunate line Rose narrates after the Shaman has taught her survival tactics: "I was then almost half Inuit myself." And just, oh, honey, no. No. :(
9. SHIFTING POV. oh my god I didn't think this would annoy me so much, but it really did. It wasn't even the narration itself shifting so much as the fact that the pov shifts were announced very awkwardly: "ROSE," "ROSE'S BROTHER," "WHITE BEAR," "TROLL QUEEN," <-- and that last just basically cracked me up every time. I know, I know, I'm being too hard on this poor book, I never said this review was fair.
10. ROSE IS THE SUEIEST MARY THAT EVER SUED. No seriously:
- Her eye color is ~purple~
- She has a ~special, unique destiny~
- She has a ~secret, coded mystical name, "Nyamh"~
- She has been ~chosen for a special purpose~
- She's ~beautiful~
- She's ~the best at everything~ including weaving, sailing, and doing chores
- She's ~noble~ and a ~martyr~ who sacrifices her personal freedom for her family
- She quickly learns how to do *everything*. Over the course of the book she learns how to weave, play a flute, navigate using star charts, sail a boat all by herself wtf, ride a bear, ride a reindeer, speak French, and survive in the Arctic. (And yet for all that she fails to learn the one about NOT LETTING STRANGE MEN GET INTO BED WITH YOU.)
- She's always right. But then you probably figured this part out as par for the Mary Sue course. I'd throw in "everyone loves her," but that's also a given. Everyone loves her. Except the Troll Queen. And sadly I can't even bond with the Troll Queen because I refuse to bond with someone who doesn't even get the dignity of a NAME. "Troll Queen." Just give her a name, is that really so hard? :(
Sigh. I really wanted to love this book. I know many of my book reviews are snarky lately, but dude, I'm just calling it like I see it. No wonder I'm feeling a sudden fondness for Simon Cowell right now. I FEEL YOU, BRO.
Overall: C. :/ A++ Furry fanservice, B- Cultural description, Solid B for fairy tale description, Solid F for STRANGE MEN GETTING INTO BED WITH FIFTEEN YEAR OLDS. I JUST WANT MY RETOLD FAIRY TALES TO ACTUALLY MAKE SENSE AND NOT CONTAIN PEDOPHILIA, IS THIS REALLY SO MUCH TO ASK.
Twitter is doing a #discussion on the subject of #nextgreatread, aka the next great read they'll be enjoying. I was all, OOH, I AM READING THINGS! I TOO CAN PLAY THIS GAME! which perhaps signifies that my immediate fandom right now appears to be books. So, with that in mind, here are the Next 7 Books I Am Irrationally Excited About:
1. The Demon's Lexicon, OH JUST DELIVER UNTO ME AN ARC ALREADY, UNIVERSE! *stamps foot*
2. Philip Reeve, Larklight: A Rousing Tale of Dauntless Pluck in the Farthest Reaches of Space. ust came in to my indie bookstore today! It looks adorable. The illustrations, omg. And is that not the cutest title ever? DAUNTLESS PLUCK!
3. Neesha Meminger, Shine On, Coconut Moon. <-- I actually ordered this like 3 weeks ago and haven't had a chance to read it yet. But it's next on my list after the current, yay!
4. The Sea of Trolls by Nancy Farmer. Oh my gosh I hope this book is good. I know nothing about Nancy Farmer, but everything about this book just looks AMAZING, I hope I love it, I hope I hope.
5. Cindy Pon's Silver Phoenix. The launch of this was today, and I put it on order and the bookseller was like, "oh, yeah, I wanted to order a copy of this one for myself!" YAY.
6. Private Arrangements by Sherry Thomas. I HAVE BEEN TRYING TO CONVINCE MYSELF TO READ THIS BOOK FOR TWO YEARS. *rolls up sleeves* Seriously, I don't know what my hangup is, it's hot regency romance and everyone on earth loves it, WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU SELF, WHY DO YOU FEAR HAPPINESS?
7. I cannot even put the brand-new #11 of the Dresden Files on this list because I have yet to finish 9 and 10. WORST FAN EVER, and yet I am still excited that it is out. SHINY. and #1 on the NYT list! YAY.
Are the covers of City of Ashes and City of Glass not just the most ridiculously beautiful covers you've ever seen? I pretty much love them. I also love love love the covers of Libba Bray's trilogy and the Luxe novels, though I hated A Great and Terrible Beauty, and I am very 'meh' over the Luxe novels after having just read the first one. But oh, those covers. Le sigh. I also love the cover of Ivy - it keeps me coming back to ponder picking up the novel despite my immediate misgivings about 'girl with a destiny' stories - and I love the cover (and everything inside) Havemercy.
What are your favorite book covers?
In D.C. I did 5 very important things: 1) I saw 3 old friends and met an_sceal for the first time, which was awesome; 2) I saw Pete Wentz and his hair live and in person; 3) I sang along badly to "This Ain't A Scene;" 4) I saw a movie in 3-d for the first time ever omg and 5) I went to the Smithsonian for the first time. All in all, pretty freaking awesome. And I didn't once get lost or manage to faint inappropriately against alestar.
So here are the 2 bits of wisdom which I must impart post-sojourn:
1) You should all go see Monsters versus Aliens, because it's super-cute and adorable and geeky and full of sci-fi-nerdgasms, but more importantly, it has HUGH LAURIE in it, and specifically HUGH LAURIE'S BRITISH ACCENT, and he is amazing, and there's this one part where he has to say "Hail Gasparus!" over and over, and it sounds like he (hugh laurie, the actor) is barely keeping himself from laughing at the absurdity of it all every time he says it, and it's pretty much the most awesome thing ever.
This is the most amazing thing I have ever seen in my entire life. It's a giant fucking shrine and it's made out of used furniture, TIN FOIL, AND CRAFT PAPER. TIN. FOIL. This guy heard voices, thought he was a saint, had few friends, claimed to talk to God, but nonetheless successfully held down a job as a janitor every day for nearly all his adult life. He wrote a whole diary full of coded language that no one has ever been able to decrypt, and he built this amazing shrine to Jesus in his GARAGE. They came to open it up after he died and found this there. The landlord sold it to some collectors who donated it anonymously to the Smithsonian. I can't get over this, it is the most. Just. The most incredible thing. "Hampton built his masterpiece from a very select collection of junk, including old furniture, burned-out light bulbs, jelly jars, carpet cylinders, desk blotters, cardboard, and foil. All the separate pieces are precariously held together with glue, tape, tacks, and pins." FUCKING TIN FOIL.
I can't even tell you how immense and creepy and dazzling and stunning and meticulous and detailed and haunting and mesmerizing this assembly is in person. Just. Holy wow. Secret masterpiece in his garage.