Friday, June 14, 2013

Dragon Slippers (Jessica Day George)

Here I am again, reading Jessica Day George books when I promised not to.

I wanted to love this book, but I could only like it.

First, Creel. I mean, Creel? Come on, son.

Now, down to the business of my book malaise. The foundation of the story doesn't sit well with me. I am hung up on the whole slipper procurement. I know the title of the book is "Dragon Slippers," but really, the way she came by them makes no sense.

Creel originally wanted something of value from the dragon's hoard, like a fancy schmancy goblet, to sell for some quick cash to get her to the King's Seat. But when she finds out that the dragon hoards shoes, that plan goes out the window. Why? The first pair of shoes she describes are ENCRUSTED WITH EMERALDS. Looking for something to pawn? Found it! Move along!

But no. For some reason, she decides to forget about the whole sell-something-to-fund-the-trip idea and instead try on practical walking shoes. Because those would be so much more helpful than emeralds. By the end of the book, I am still not over this crucial flip-flop (footwear pun not intended). Her desire was to find something valuable to sell. That requirement was met in the first pair she saw. She never would have tried on any shoes. She never would have discovered the dragon slippers. She would have taken the emerald heels and headed for the hills.

Faulty book premise aside, how could the dragons be so dumb? If a single pair of shoes could determine the fate of your species, and some nitwit girl child had them, wouldn't you want to warn her to not let them out of her sight? I guess you would be worried about revealing your secret and letting her know the power she wielded, but after you got to know her and trust her (I'm talking 'bout you, Shardas!), wouldn't you warn her not to let them fall into the wrong hands (or feet)? I know their conversation was interrupted, but really. Some things you make time for. Like doom-shoes.

And Creel supposedly suspected something important was happening, and that it might have dire consequences for her kingdom, but she refused to tell her bestie, Prince Luka, that her foreboding about the country (which is totally his business, as a prince), had something to do with dragons. That simple conversation would maybe have saved lots of lives.


But I liked the characters (Shardas and I could totally hang out and eat peaches in a cave).

Dare I read the second book? Will it be built on such a flimsy foundation? Will Creel (::cringe::) get any smarter?

Thus far, the Dragon Slippers series does not supplant The Enchanted Forrest Chronicles in my heart. Not even close. I miss you, Princess Cimorene.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Princess of the Midnight Ball (Jessica Day George)

If you are thinking about reading this book, don't bother.

This book came highly recommended by acquaintances and professional book reviewers alike. But those acquaintances and reviewers forgot to mention that, while the story is interesting, it isn't really a "retelling" of the 12 Dancing Princesses. It's an immature paraphrase of the fairy tale.

I'll just say this: I watched the Barbie movie version with my 3-year-old niece, and the Barbie version was better.

The character interaction in this book was entirely implausible and unrealistic. For example, a man who disowned his son out of shame randomly decides to welcome him back into the family after 2 paragraphs of reasoning by his wife. None of the emotions or motivations in the book are anything near lifelike.

I should have been tipped off by the fact that the princesses are all named after flowers.

This was my first Jessica Day George book, and it shall be my last. I'm kind of bummed about the whole thing, since she has so many popular books right now. But I have this thing for quality writing, and that is exactly what this author lacks.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Matched (Ally Condie)

When I first heard about this Matched phenomenon, how it was "just like The Hunger Games" with a dystopian society, I wanted nothing to do with it. I wanted to scream, "NO! No, it is not like The Hunger Games." I did thoroughly enjoy that series, but did it define a new genre? Absolutely not! Don't people read classics any more? The Hunger Games is like Nineteen Eighty-Four and Brave New WorldMatched also falls in the shadow of these historic tomes. Who are these younglings, unaware of the larger literary world? But I digress.

Matched was delightful. I appreciated the overarching conflict and authenticity of the character response to it. The relationships among Cassia's family members was particularly enjoyable. I did not, however, fully believe her relationships with her two love interests, at least in the beginning. It took a lot of convincing, but by the end, I accepted it, if only for the sake of the rest of the story.

Sometimes Condie's "poetic" feel was forced. In some portions of the book, it seemed that every paragraph ended with a profound metaphorical statement (and an eye roll, on my part). But overall, this page-turner has me anticipating the next installment, coming November 1st!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

What Happened to Goodbye (Sarah Dessen)

Color me surprised! I haven't read anything by Sarah Dessen before, but the titles of her books are somewhat off putting--bland and shallow. So when I read the first chapter and was captivated by Mclean's name-changing disposition, I was shocked.

Far from the overwhelming fluff I expected, this book contained believable characters with relateable problems. I was pleasantly surprised by the writing style and the characterization. I felt connected to the protagonist in a genuine way, and her journey toward self-discovery didn't feel juvenile. I did want her to stand up for herself a little more, but hey, she's in high school, so I guess that's forgivable.

Kudos to Sarah Dessen for making me both laugh and cry throughout a thoroughly enjoyable light read.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Uncommon Criminals (Ally Carter)

Uncommon Criminals is an OK follow-up to the first book, Heist Society. Do I love the series? No.

That’s saying something, because I love a good heist story. The ideas behind the books are fantastic, but the books themselves are lacking.

There are two major flaws with Miss Carter’s storytelling in this novel. First, she relies too heavily on “The Henley” from the first caper. Yes, it is an impressive and essential element of Kat’s back story, but the frequency of reference to that particular heist makes it into a crutch that is both repetitive and annoying. Can't this book stand on its own?

The second major flaw is characterization. Despite the fact that Ally Carter has written two full books about these characters, she doesn't seem to know them very well. Relationships between protagonists are flat, and interactions are insincere.

Despite all of this, the book may have reached the four-star mark if the moral of the story didn't bludgeon you over the head at the very end.

Overall, Uncommon Criminals gets just three stars, despite the author’s best intentions.