Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Wicked Lovely

In the city of Huntsdale, Aislinn prefers the inner city, the land of iron and steel that keeps her interactions with the Faeries to a minimum. Aislinn possesses the gift – or perhaps the curse to see the Fae. Her grandmother has brought her up to follow three rules. Rule #1 – Don’t attract the attention of the Fae, Rule #2 – Don’t speak to invisible faeries, and Rule #3 – Don’t stare at invisible faeries. Without doing anything at all however Aislinn’s broken Rule #1. Not only did she attract their attention, she attracted the attention of the Summer King, Keenan.

Keenan searches for his Summer Queen, a mortal woman destined to become Fae and rule at his side. Due to the machinations of his mother, the Winter Queen this is a daunting task that puts each young woman he approaches at risk. In order to rule by his side the women must take up the Winter Queen’s staff. If she is not the one destined to be queen she becomes the Winter Girl. Her touch is cold, her world is covered in frost. Aislinn doesn’t want anything to do with the Fae, but once Keenan sets his sights on her there’s nothing she can do to lose their attention.

I wasn’t sure I would like this book – but I loved it. Melissa Marr has an engaging writing style, one that’s very easy to read. No character is a caricature or a stereotype. You immediately get a sense of Aislinn’s personality as well as Keenan’s. There are surprises throughout the book, I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect by the end. It was a pleasant surprise and a well thought out world. I’m eagerly awaiting the next book in the series, Ink Exchange.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Like many other Twilight fans I was at the bookstore at Friday night in order to pick up my copy of Breaking Dawn, the fourth book in the Twilight saga, as soon as it was available. I didn’t read it as fast as the other books but I’m still left stunned by the story. Going into this book I was looking for three things…ok, four. #1 – Bella and Edward get married. #2 – Bella is changed into a vampire. #3 – The Volturi confront the Cullens over Bella’s change. And #4 – Jacob gets a happy ending. I thought if I got all those things, or even 3 of the 4 I would be happy.

I’m not happy. Parts of the book at very good – there’s some great character moments for the Wolves. Some very sweet parts between Bella and Edward. Bella’s joy at certain happenings in the book is wonderful. But over all – the book is not the story I wanted to see. It doesn’t fit the rest of the series. It doesn’t fit Stephenie Meyer’s world as she’s presented it before this.

Before Breaking Dawn, the message that love requires sacrifice, compromise, and a lot of work for a wonderful emotional reward came through loud and clear. In Breaking Dawn that message is chucked right out the window. It’s hard to write a review of this book without spoilers – but I’m trying my best. The message of the series is lost in this book because of the central plot point that comes so far out of left field my brain couldn’t wrap around it even after a few hours of sleep. I will have to reread this book in order to full absorb the story, but upon my first reading I can not say I was truly satisfied with the ending. It has some very good scenes and some excellent character moments but as the conclusion of Bella & Edward’s story it doesn’t stand up to my expectations.

The Host by Stephenie Meyer

I started out the month of July with a goal to read 1984 for the Book-A-Month challenge. I managed to get through the first chapter then put it down. The whole concept of Big Brother was a bit much for me. I will finish the book but not for the challenge. Instead I decided to indulge in a book about Alien Invasion and how the humans of Earth deal with it. Independence was the theme for July so I thought Stephenie Meyer’s The Host fit the bill.

The Host is an interesting story that’s an interesting take on the classic Body Snatchers theme. In the Host parasitic aliens have infiltrated Earth civilization and quietly taken over. The aliens are known as Souls – luminous jellyfish sort of looking creatures that are surgically implanted in the host body through a small incision at the base of the neck. The Soul then wraps around the brainstem and its tentacles attach to various parts of the brain and spinal column. When a Soul wakes up from this procedure they are in complete control of the host body – the host mind is completely silent and repressed so the Soul is in sole control of her host body. Except in Wanderer’s case, her host is still present and refuses to completely give up on her body. Their tale is fascinating and provides the few free humans left in the world some hope that the extinction of the human race as free-willed beings is not as certain as they once thought.

This book certainly qualifies as Science Fiction, but there’s enough realism that it’s very easy to believe it and get lost in the story. I enjoyed the characters, they felt very real to me and it was interesting reading the story from the point of view of a Soul while still getting the Human point of view through Melanie, the ever present host personality. Meyer left the ending open enough to support a sequel but it isn’t a requirement. The story is whole on its own, but if a sequel does come out I’ll be interested in reading it.