Monday, June 29, 2015

A Link To A New World

Fantasy novels always take longer to finish and completely understand. Most of the time the authors take you to these worlds that are elaborate, some having their own languages and codes, and as a result the reader needs to take their time.  
Myst by Rand and Robin Miller and David Wingrove begins with Atrus, a young boy who was abandoned by his father, and resides in the desert with his grandmother. Anna teaches Atrus about the ways of the D'ni society that once existed years before. They survive: Atrus learns to write in the old language, and all seems right with the world. As he grows, his curiosity blossoms and soon Atrus finds himself performing experiments to help with the life style the two are encased in.
The day Gehn, Atrus's father, returns the world begins to change. Atrus is forced to accompany his father on a new journey, and as a result he must leave his familiar world forever. On the journey, the young boy discovers his father creates worlds, almost like a God. Using blank books, Gehn weaves a story into each and in turn they become Ages that can be visited and inhabited. All of the Ages have distinct differences, and the more the young boy sees, the more amazed he is. Gehn's plan is to teach Atrus the powers of writing and creating Ages so the two can become and remain powerful beings.
However, the more time Atrus spends with his father, the more he begins to realize things are not as they seem. Gehn's need to remain in "power" shows Atrus there is evil, but with his kind heart, he will try to find a way to make things right.
The concept to the novel was very well done. The author created a world...where the character creates worlds! It's mind blowing. But you can see the good vs. evil tendencies that always ring through in a fantasy themed novel.
Gehn's character, from when we first see him in the prologue, is a jerk. He's selfish, and the more you read the more you absolutely hate him. Sure, he's no Sauron (haha nerd reference), but Gehn proves to be the perfect antagonist. So perfect, in fact, that each scene he was in- I couldn't help but say "jerk" under my breath. Yes yes, I do sometimes talk out loud while I am reading. :p
You have to love Atrus's character because he embodies good. He has a kind soul, a curious demeanor, and all throughout the story you see his desire to do "good" and see the good in everything. And the minute he realizes his father is being unreasonable and a horrible human being, the "protagonist" instinct takes over.
The book was well written, and the more you read, the more you realize this is such an original concept for a novel. I mean where do we ever see a character creating anything let alone whole worlds? It's a good read, but it is one you do need to spend time with. Much like most fantasy novels, the concepts are complex, so it is important to be patient and let the story unravel. It's worth it! Stick with it, and check out the rest in the trilogy.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Every Night I Drown and Every Morning I Wake Up Struggling to Breathe

I finished The Forest of Hands and Teeth series by Carrie Ryan almost four years ago, but I felt myself drawn to it once again.

We all know the story, or at the very least you can go back in the tags and check my original posting. I have only finished rereading the first in the series, but in my last entry regarding the novels, I left out a few important pieces to Mary's story.

Mary, Gabry, and Annah are all strong female characters with choices to make, and each of them are trapped in a world with the diseased, the Unconsecrated, the living dead. Of course the story begins with Mary- her village is breached by the zombie hoards, so she and her small group escape with hopes of another world on the outside. However, I could not help but get frustrated with Mary.

Her mother chose the Unconsecrated in order to be reunited with her father. Immediately upon returning to the house, Mary's brother, Jed, refuses to welcome her back into their home partly because his wife has just miscarried, but also because he blames Mary for their mother's death. Mary is tossed into the life of the Sisterhood because no one claims her. She experiences rejection from all sides; the love of her life, Travis: who has claimed her best friend, her mother: who chose death and the unliving rather than her own daughter, and now her brother. The reader can't help but feel such sorrow for this young woman. She is forced into the Sisterhood, where she does not belong, but this is the only choice she can make for herself.

Travis is then hurt, barely alive, so he stays with the Sisters until he heals. Mary goes to his bedside each night, and her love for him intensifies. Even better, Travis believes in the ocean and the world Mary longs for. He feels it too. When he heals, there is more rejection for Mary when Travis is not the one to come back and claim her, but his brother Harry.
The story continues as the Unconsecrated breach the fence, their village is all taken by the undead, and Mary is forced down the forest path with Harry, Travis, her best friend Cass, a young boy, Jacob, and her brother and his wife. The more rejection the reader feels in Mary's heart, the more she retaliates. Her personality is fierce, unflinching, and this is what makes her a strong heroine.

However,  finally Mary gets her wish. She and Travis are trapped together, while the others are safe on the platforms of another village. Although trapped, and Travis's leg makes it impossible for him to follow quickly, Mary and Travis are together in a house where they can be alone. This is what she wanted; she wanted him to choose her, yet there is something missing. The ocean, her escape, is always on her mind. Maybe it's just me, but I can't help but think why can't he be enough? Was the rejection he caused her too much? Or was he just never going to be enough for her? At the beginning she longed for him, waiting for him, saw a life with him; yet she finally gets that chance and it's lost on her ultimate goal.
Even at the end of the story (be advised this is a spoiler)- she loses everything. Travis is dead, Harry/Cass/ and Jacob have taken a separate path, and her brother also falls to her dreams of the ocean. In the end she makes it, but at what cost?

I think this frustrated me the most about Mary because it was difficult to understand her reasoning. Was the constant rejection the reason for her desire to push away? Travis and Harry both had such intense loves for her, and I understand her holding back with Harry, but she had Travis- this was what she wanted. But even in the end Travis asked "Would you ever give up the ocean for me?" It's almost like he knew he would never be enough. 
Again, I have not revisited the other two novels, but I found Mary's constant hope and desire for something better frustrating. Maybe it's because of the three main characters, I can't really connect emotionally to Mary's story. Sure she went through stages of rejection, but when things began to work her way, she still could not see that as enough. She put people in danger, but worst of all, it seems she broke a few people's hearts because they knew she had an untamed soul that love and family could not calm. Maybe that frustrated me more; knowing that she could have a happy life where she could have everything she wanted, but it was never going to be enough to make her fully happy.
In the end, I fell back in love with the series and find myself going head first into the post apocalyptic world Ryan has created. This is one of the best series I have come across- her writing is lyrical and weaves a fantastic tale, but the story itself provides raw emotion, survival, and love that all three females are so desperate to find.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Sometime, I Feel like my Whole Life is Lived in this Twilight Space Between Sunshine and Darkness

I read Angelfall by Susan Ee a few months ago based on one of my student's recommendations. I, of course, fell in love. I quickly read the second, had an altercation with the incompetent library staff over some business of spilled ink (which believe me I still have no clue about), and I sat patiently awaiting the third in the series. FINALLY! Just a for your info...if you have NOT read the first or second of the series, you should know that this will probably contain spoilers.

Penryn's journey through this post apocalyptic world is coming towards an end with End of Days. As she and Raffe are reunited, it seems the stakes are getting higher. Uriel is out for blood and wants to remain the only Messenger of God, and his plan is to destroy the human race. Raffe is still searching for a doctor to transplant his angel wings, and Penryn is just hoping her sister's condition can be helped.
The more time the two spend together, Penryn realizes her feelings for Raffe go beyond just a normal crush, but both know this feeling is wrong. They are of two different kinds, and angels cannot get involved with Daughters of Man.
As their journey continues, the two face hellions, fall and escape from the Pit, and realize that now is their time to fight for their own side. Raffe needs to take his place with the others in order to ensure he can become the new Messenger. Penryn must return back to her family and her people to ensure their safety and care. Both know very well where they need to be, but when time comes, will they be able to accept they are fighting on opposite sides with opposite goals.

I have to say there wasn't a dull book in the series. Sure, the second one takes a second because everyone just wants to see Raffe again. I mean...duh. But knowing the two of them are acknowledging their feelings is of course the deep sigh of relief moment for readers. Penryn is not a normal teenage heroine; she has a schizophrenic mother which caused her to do a lot of growing up on her own. As a result, she is one tough lady. I think this topped with the post apocalyptic feel really makes it an interesting trilogy.
This last one had a lot of different things. Things seemed too convenient, and yes having to believe that all of the sudden Penryn alone must now concoct a plan that saves her people is a little difficult. But, I do like the story. And with these type of novels you are just hoping for some kind of common ground and a happy ending. Or at least the happiest you can get.

I would say sit back and enjoy it. It's a nice new spin on angels (nothing like the Hush Hush disaster), and it gives you a strong heroine with a sexy angel to drool over. Easy read, quick series, but ultimately I felt positive and happy when I finished this one off. Just enough romance, nothing Twlightish, and lots of crazy monsters, demons, hellions that create a whole new meaning to survival.