Rue has always known her mother was mad. Just one of those family quirks, you know? Rue knows she’s mad too (how else do you explain seeing men with deer heads and plants bowing to her mother), but unlike her mother, she can at least pretend she’s not. So when Rue’s mother disappears one night after an argument with her father, Rue has had a lot of practice in pretending everything is fine. But when the police come to arrest her father, it gets harder and harder to pretend.
t’s interesting to see this kind of book (light-hearted, vaguely Regency-era romance) go beyond the normal courtship stage and be about a married couple. A married couple who love each other but still have problems. One of my pet peeve in books/movies/whatever is when problems could be fixed by characters JUST TALKING TO EACH OTHER, but given the strict manners and social norms of the era, the troupe works well in the setting/story and maybe gives you a glimpse of why so few authors write about married couples during this time period. It’s a fine line between being accurate and having unsympathetic to modern audience characters.
In general, I prefer stories (short, epically long, and in between) that are hopeful. Where people see a way out of bad situations and are generally decent human beings despite their bad lots. Bleak and hopeless Is Not My Bag, Baby. (Shut up, like you’ve never quoted Austin Powers before.) Some of the stories in After definitely fall into the “bleak and hopeless” category. Some of them managed to be good despite that, but mostly those stories just made me weary. Your mileage may vary.
I find Orson Scott Card to be problematic. On the one hand, he is clearly a deeply talented writer. On the other hand, I find a lot of his personal views to be bigoted, closed mined, and offensive. But his best work is always about how through love comes understanding and if Mr. Card himself doesn’t always live up to that, well, he’s only human so I’ll forgive him as much as I can and enjoy his books while I may.
Liyana is a sixteen-year-old girl and she knows the exact hour she is going to die. She and her clan, the Goat Clan, live a harsh existence in the desert. Every hundred years, the gods of the various desert clans inhabit a vessel in each clan to share their magic and help their clans prosper. Liyana is the vessel for her clan. She has spent her life preparing for the day when Bayla’s soul would come from the Dreaming and Liyana’s soul would leave her body forever. Liyana doesn’t want to leave her family, but for the good of her clan, she is willing to die. So the magician chants, Liyana dances, and Bayla does not come. Devastated, Liyana is abandoned by her clan for her perceived failure. Left alone with meager supplies, Liyana has no idea what to do. Until the trickster god of the Raven Clan, inhabiting his vessel, walks into her tent. Korbyn tells Liyana that five gods have been trapped false vessels but with her help they can be freed and the clans saved. Liyana and Korbyn embark on a perilous journey across the desert to find the other failed vessels and to free the gods. Will they be eaten by sandwolves? Will they be able to find the gods? Will Liyana, granted time she’d never though she’d have, still be a willing sacrifice?
The Beginning Place is about finding home and the people who make it. It’s about leaving behind the things that don’t work. It’s about growing up. The Beginning Place is about confusing the hell out of me so I spend the last quarter of the book with my face scrunched up in bewilderment.
On the whole, it wasn’t a bad book but I don’t know that I can say it was good either. It definitely should not be the first Ursula K. Le Guin book you read. The Left Hand of Darkness and The Dispossessed are considered classics for a reason, start with those and branch out into the rest of the Hainish cycle and go on from there. Only read The Beginning Place if you become a big enough fan of Ms. Le Guin to want to read ALL of her things. And even then, you can probably skip it.
Once again, Kenneth Oppel is brilliant at creating realistic characters. Victor Frankenstein is arrogant, reckless, stubborn, and not a little selfish. But his grief and guilt over his brother are genuine, as are his bravery, loyalty, and endless curiosity. You can easily see how when Victor stumbles across these mysteries, he’s compelled and driven (by a variety of factors, not all of which are noble) to follow their dark paths as far as he can. Mr. Oppel paints of clear picture of the type of person Victor is and how his actions will eventually lead to him becoming THE Victor Frankenstein.
When his twin brother Konrad falls ills, young Victor Frankenstein teams up with his beautiful cousin Elizabeth and their timid friend Henry to use forbidden alchemical knowledge to find a (potentially deadly) cure. Will they find the cure in time? Will they be betrayed by the people they trust? Will they be pecked to death by vultures? Tune in to find out!