Thoughts

Thoughts #18: Book Amnesia

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Is it just me, or are some books really difficult to remember?

When writing up my thoughts on the first part of Sabriel last week, I realised that despite the book being part of one of my favourite series, all I really remembered was the first half. Past that, I can’t for the life of me remember what happens next. I have the same problem with the next two books: all I remember about Lirael is that it follows either the daughter or granddaughter of Sabriel (see, I don’t even remember that much!), and Abhorsen, err well… I know I enjoyed it. For reasons. That I have forgotten.

Uhhh...

This doesn’t normally happen with favourites. Normally it’s books that I have no strong opinion about.

For example, these two – Matched by Ally Condie and Delirium by Lauren Oliver:

Matched by Ally Condie Delirium by Lauren Oliver

Here’s what I remember about both books:

  • White female teenage protagonist, probably a plain Jane type with ‘mousey’ hair or something
  • LOVE IS BAD! NO FREEDOM! You have to be paired with someone that the government chooses for you in order to *procreate to maximum effect* and produce all the genetically superior babies (gross, and I’m sure this happens in both books??)
  • Protagonist meets HANDSOME BUT MYSTERIOUS YOUNG MAN. Even though she’s only known him for about two days, she realises everything the government has ever told her is a lie and she must REBEL!
  • Love interest is predictable and oh-so-enchanting to our protagonist, but really boring to me
  • The love interest is probably already aware of how rubbish the government is, so he can recruit the protagonist into his ~super secret mission~ or revolutionary group
  • They rebel, or break out, or leave their homes and of course something has to go horribly wrong somewhere down the line

And that’s about it. I’m not sure if these things happen in both (or maybe either…) books, but when I try to remember the plots of either of these, this is what I get. I rated both of these books three stars so I must have enjoyed them at least a little bit. But can I actually remember any fine plot points? Nope.

I think part of the reason is the crazy amount of YA dystopia that has been published over the past few years – many of them are starting to merge into one. However, I can think of another YA dystopia with a similar plot that I also rated three stars – Article 5 by Kristen Simmons – that I remember the story of quite well. Plus it’s obviously not just YA dystopia that gives me book amnesia. Perhaps it depends on what else I’ve recently read? My mood at the time? I really don’t know!

Do you ever have this problem with books? Do you find it worse with a certain genre?

Review, Sci-Fi Month

Sci-Fi Month: Review of Article 5 (Article 5 #1) by Kristen Simmons

Today, as part of Sci-Fi Month, I have a review of Article 5 by Kristen Simmons. Don’t forget to check out the schedule for the rest of today’s posts. You can also Tweet about the event using the hashtag #RRSciFiMonth.

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3 out of 5 stars | Goodreads

First it was vampires and werewolves, now it’s dystopian fiction. Each trend in YA fiction produces a wide number of new series and standalones, some stand-out, some awful and others somewhere in between. This book is sadly one of the latter.

I had quite high hopes for this book. I just find dystopian fiction really fascinating – forget zombies, werewolves, vampires, aliens – what’s scariest to me is the human race. How, in this sort of fiction, we turn on one another, destroy each other, become our own worst nightmares. For our modern day societies so focused on and obsessed with freedom, their dystopian equivalents become the total opposite. So I tend to read a lot of it – or at least plan to!

Although the world is nicely built, the statutes are pretty horrific and it works really well as a  dystopian nightmare, there just isn’t enough explanation as to how the world got this way. Whilst I understand that this is just the first book in a series and the explanation may appear in later books, I really feel that at least some of the background behind it should have been explained. How did the Moral Militia come about? Why are the sexes so strongly segregated? How long have things been this way? And why oh why do people follow all these rules and not make a noise?

However, this is a dystopian where the main character really suffers at times. Ember is treated quite horrifically – many of these sorts of books tend to skip or glaze over such things, particularly when it comes to the main characters, so you never get a real feeling of how bad the situation actually is. But this time we see her treatment first hand and the reader really realises how backwards this world is – everything that people are fighting for in our modern day world e.g. gay marriage, religious freedom etc, is destroyed and they are very much back to basics.

What would have made the book even more gut-wrenching? A likeable main character. Ember just really frustrated me. She couldn’t see that Chase was trying to help her and sacrificed a lot just to get to her; she threw so much back in his face and acted like a total spoiled brat. The romance was very much chock-a-block full of teen angst, and I preferred Chase as a character by far. The flashbacks to their previous relationship added a nice touch, but Ember’s reaction to Chase and her behaviour around him after was really odd. I get that she thinks he is a completely different person and not the boy she fell in love with, but I just didn’t see any sort of link or chemistry between them whatsoever. It also annoyed me that she seemed to have a total lack of sense, especially considering the sort of world she lives in. If someone comes at you with a weapon, you defend yourself. She can’t bring herself to hurt others in self-defence – which some may seem as a redeeming character trait – but I see as pure foolishness, especially when you consider what she’s gone through to get where she is. In a dystopian universe I’d expect people to have better survival instincts. But luckily, by the end of the novel she finally realises she can’t just mope around and she actually has to do something. Which slightly redeemed her in my eyes, but she’s still got a long way to go!

I actually read the entire book on the train to York – a four and a half hour journey. It was an easy read and whilst enjoyable, suffers from a case of ‘Annoying-Main-Character-itis’ and a total lack of chemistry when it comes to the romance. Although props to Kristen Simmons for really demonstrating with her main character just how awful this dystopian world is – I just wish she’d explained how it got that way.

Monthly Roundup

Monthly Roundup: September 2013

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Every first Wednesday of the month, I’ll be posting a roundup of the month just gone, and writing about what’s to come in the next few weeks. This is replacing my Exciting New Releases feature, which may be integrated into this one.
 
 
I read ten books this month. Dragon Age: The Stolen Throne (Dragon Age #1) by David Gaider, Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles #1) by Marissa Meyer, Every Day by David Levithan, Fire (Graceling #2) by Kristin Cashore, Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass #1) by Sarah J. Maas, Prince of Thorns (Broken Empire #1) by Mark Lawrence, Guardians of Paradise by Jaine Fenn, I Am Venus by Barbara Mujica, The Daylight War (Demon Cycle #3) by Peter V. Brett and Article 5 (Article 5 #1) by Kristen Simmons. Which meant that by the end of September, I had read 68 out of 75 books for the 2013 Reading Challenge!

 

Currently reading:

 

Reviews on the blog this month:

Book group related posts:

Other stuff on the blog:

Upcoming:

  • A couple of reviews, including Every Day by David Levithan and Aphrodite: Goddess of Love by George O’Connor.
  • My Horror October posts, every Tuesday this month! My schedule is here.
  • My account of the Cheltenham Literature Festival – this weekend I’ll be seeing/meeting David Levithan, Sarah J. Maas, Maureen Johnson, Patrick Ness and Meg Rosoff, then Mary Beard next Sunday!
Past Features

Weekly Roundup #28

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My ‘Weekly Roundup’ is where I share the books I have received in the past week, whether bought, gifted, borrowed etc.

Bought

  • Dragon Age: The Stolen Throne (Dragon Age #1) and Dragon Age: The Calling (Dragon Age #2) by David Gaider – so I recently finally played Dragon Age: Origins after owning it since it was released, and I LOVED it! I’ve been fangirling over the series (and Alistair) with Paola from A Novel Idea, and she said she enjoyed the books. I haven’t been impressed with Bioware’s previous books (Mass Effect ones) but… when I love a series I kind of soak up everything to do with. Even if it’s bad. But I’m hoping I’ll enjoy these ones! Now I’m onto Dragon Age: Origins – Awakening, and then Dragon Age II (and a long wait for Inquisition…).
  • Prince of Thorns (The Broken Empire #1) by Mark Lawrence – this is the Fantasy Book of the Month for my Goodreads book group, Dragons & Jetpacks. I bought it before the result was chosen though, because it was half price on Amazon and I’ve wanted to read it for a while.
  • All Our Yesterdays (Cassandra Chronicles #1) by Cristin Terrill – so I kept seeing this book everywhere, with such good reviews. I got approved for it on Netgalley but when I went to download it, it had been archived… so I bought it instead! And it was worth every penny.
  • Crown of Midnight (Throne of Glass #2) by Sarah J. Maas – I own Throne of Glass but haven’t read it yet… and even so, I bought the second book. It’s another series I’ve heard such good things about – and my friends Charlene and Paola got to meet Sarah recently! I’m hoping I’ll get to meet her in October, at the Cheltenham Literature Festival.
  • The Wise Man’s Fear (The Kingkiller Chronicle #2) by Patrick Rothfuss – the sequel to the aaaaaaamazing The Name of the Wind (I’ve done features on the book here and here), I want to read this as soon as possible!

 

From the library

  • Scarlet (The Lunar Chronicles #2) by Marissa Meyer – so I picked this up forgetting the order of the books, and I haven’t read Cinder yet – but I’ve ordered it from the library to read first! Marissa is taking part in my Sci-Fi Month event, as Nara from Looking for the Panacea is interviewing her.
  • Article 5 (Article 5 #1) by Kristen Simmons – I’ve wanted to read this one for a while, and spotted it in the library – not my usual one, but one a little further from home that I should visit more often!
  • Leviathan (Leviathan #1) by Scott Westerfeld – this is another one that I’ve seen around the blogosphere quite a bit. It’s an alternate history, which sounds pretty interesting as I haven’t read too many of those.
  • Guardians of Paradise (Hidden Empire #3) by Jaine Fenn – I’m interviewing Jaine for Sci-Fi Month, and read one of her books, Downside Girls (review here) at the beginning of the year. I thought it would be good to check out some more of her work!

 

That’s everything from last week! I bought more brand new books that I have in a long time – what did you get this week?