Sunday, August 30, 2009

Margo Lanagan - Tender Morsels

I was astonished to discover that Tender Morsels was actually meant to be a YA fiction book. Personally, I think this book is far more suited to an adult audience, not only because of its dark content but also because of the writing style. The prose used in the book is an earthy kind of language (if that makes any sense!), which reflects the setting of the story well but can be a little hard to follow, especially with the constantly switching viewpoints. The adult themes of this book are also quite disturbing, what with incest and rape just part of the narrative. The author never really delves into graphic details but certainly enough for readers to understand some of the horrifying traumas the character goes through. I was quite excited to borrow this book from the library as it was highly recommended by Neil Gaiman, who is one of my favourite authors, and it also had mainly positive reviews on Amazon. I must say that I am actually quite disappointed and a little glad that I didn't purchase it to read. My main issue with the book is the changing viewpoints, which I feel didn't serve much purpose for Tender Morsels. I think I would have enjoyed the story much more if the novel focused on Liga and her daughters and their journey back into the real world. For example, I don't think some of the parts that featured the bear-men were all that necessary; in fact, I found them quite tedious and I would skip over those bits. Also, who was Wolf? I would have liked to know more about his relationship with Branza but in the end, he remained a dream and fantasy. It's an interesting read, but not one that I think I will revisit nor recommend to others.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

MaryJanice Davidson - Fish Out of Water

Ahh... it is time to bid adiĆ³s to Fred as Fish Out of Water is the final book of the Fred the mermaid trilogy. A true shame really, as I feel I am just warming up to the brash green-haired Fredrika. I am an absolute sucker for happy endings and I can't complain about this one. I had hoped Fred would pick Thomas (the human one) eventually, and even though it only finally came about in the last book, at least I got the ending I wanted. I also like how MJD extracted Artur from the love triangle; sure, it was convenient but at least it wasn't messy and I don't feel heartbroken for Artur. Somehow, I think he'll survive. Throw in a bare-bones mystery about missing merfolk and a finale appearance by a deranged mer-father and we have a story cooking. While not the greatest novel that I've read (even by MJD standards), I must say that I have enjoyed the mermaid trilogy and Fred and the gang will be missed. Who knows? They may appear again one day; I don't think this series is on its last leg - or tail! - yet.

MaryJanice Davidson - Undead and Unwelcome

I am an MJD fan and will continue to be, just like I will continue to follow the Undead series, even though it seems to be on a downward spiral. So, yes, Undead and Unwelcome is Book 8; surely, by now, I should be used to how Betsy books turn out. I have no issues with MJD's style of writing; the haphazard crazy way of writing is fun and suits Betsy's personality. Wafer-thin plots, I have more of an issue with, but even that I can overlook - I mean, we all know Betsy books aren't exactly literature. I think a measure of a good author is the ability to evolve its character, especially since MJD herself had called out that it was a new beginning for this series from the previous book. The character shouldn't be changed beyond recognition, but certainly in a way where readers can grow with the character as the series progresses. After all, major events would have happened; a person does not stay exactly the same. I love reading Betsy's frank outbursts; the way she speaks her mind with a devil-may-care attitude regardless of who's around is one of her endearing traits. What I can't stand is her inability to focus for more than 2 seconds, which seems to be much worse in this book than I can remember in all previous installments. Yes, we all know that she is not exactly enamoured about her position as Queen of the Undead but with all the recent events and new responsibilities, you would think she would be able to concentrate for at least the length of a conversation. I'm not sure how long more MJD can drag out this series for as things seem to be coming to a head. I can only hope that she will give the Undead series a fitting end, as Betsy so rightly deserves.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

James Thurber - Many Moons

This is a very cute picture book and I can imagine it will be an absolute delight for any little girl to read. I've not seen the book with the original illustrations but Marc Simont's watercolour drawings are gorgeous to look at - a perfect fit with the adorable and endearing story of Many Moons. I don't know if it stands out as an instant classic as many reviewers have said on Amazon; however, it certainly won't be amiss in a little one's library. A must for all the princesses out there!

Marjane Satrapi - Persepolis

I know almost nothing about Iran so Persopolis is quite an eye-opening read about a part of the world that is very alien to me. The use of the comic book medium in Persopolis is an effective one as it makes a distressing and complicated tale more accessible to readers. The illustrations are simple and cartoonish, a stark contrast against the complex and sometimes harrowing backdrop of Satrapi’s life and journey into adulthood. Despite the simplicity of the illustrations, they still manage to convey with forceful impact the horrors and stifling restrictions of a turbulent life in Iran and the challenges of finding her own identity when she goes to Austria as a teenager. Satrapi pulls you into her story and provides the reader rare insight into a life behind closed doors. I definitely want to watch the movie now and see how it compares to the book.