Welcome back to Thinking Thursday everyone! Retro reviews is essentially me providing 3-5 very short reviews for books I read some time ago. These will be abbreviated reviews and will not include all the information I would in a normal review for the sake of your time (and mine). All cover images were retrieved through Google Images or Goodreads and do not belong to me. Enjoy!
Today isn’t Thursday, but this is a bit overdue, so here you are! This is definitely an adult book, and I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone who isn’t comfortable with violence or swearing. Beware!
Also, I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review from Blogging for Books!
Title || The Library at Mount Char [Goodreads]
Author || Scott Hawkins
Published || June 2015
Form || Hardcover
Genre || Fantasy, Horror
Rating || 2/5
Yay || The worldbuilding
Nay || The writing, the plot, the characters
Summary || God is missing, so his children have to hunt him down–or kill each other trying to take his place.
In the beginning…
I was introduced to characters who had potential. I looked forward to finding out who these people were and how they would impact the story. They were quirky enough to hold my attention, even though I wasn’t a huge fan of the writing.
The worldbuilding quickly blew me away. I wanted to know everything there was to know about the catalogs, and how they came to be, and how they worked. Could just anyone learn them?
Everything went downhill. The worldbuilding took a back seat to that “plot,” which I put in quotation marks because I didn’t feel as though there was really a common thread throughout the novel. Rather than x leading to y, it felt like x happened, then y happened, and then z happened, the logical connection between them was, to me, a little lost in sense. It was as if any vestiges of a plot appeared to implode, losing track of themselves and squandering any interest in the hopes of… excitement? Were these explosions and fight scenes supposed to impress me?
Nor did I really find much depth to the characters—a shame, really, as there was a lot of potential for interesting things to develop. Unfortunately, it felt very much as though Carolyn (and everybody else, but she mattered the most) was the same person on page 1 as she was on page 388. Even for someone with that magnitude of power, it doesn’t seem right. Worse, it isn’t interesting.
And why did Steve matter so much? There was no emotion to the writing, allowing for little to no sense behind why Carolyn was so obsessed with him. I didn’t feel whatever it was she was supposed to be feeling, which was, honestly, massively frustrating.
It all came to a head when…
It tried to salvage what had crashed and burned merrily for the middle 250-300 pages. On some level, I suppose I was satisfied. But it wasn’t enough to recover the boredom and frustration of that major chunk, and thus I couldn’t rate it any higher. In a sense, this book is a good example of the fact that a wonderful idea can be destroyed with poor execution.
Recommend? Only to very specific people.
Recommended for? Those who like horror novels, explosions, and dark worldbuilding.
Have you read The Library at Mount Char?
What did you think?
Hello! It’s Thinking Thursday, and that means it’s time for a review 😀 But let me back track a little bit first: on Monday, I did a post on visual reading, and how it isn’t something I do. This was because I recently read The Complete Persepolis, and I wanted to explain why I reacted the way I did (at least in part). Now it’s time for my review of it, which will hopefully explain why I wanted to discuss visual reading first. Enjoy!
Title || The Complete Persepolis (GoodReads)
Author || Marjane Satrapi
Published || 2007 by Pantheon (Reprint combining the previous 4 volumes)
Form || Paperback
Genre || Memoir, Comic/Graphic Novel
Rating || 2/5
Yay || The culture
Nay || The format
Summary || Satrapi tells the story of growing up during the Islamic Revolution and its effects on her personal situation and identity.
As my previous post may suggest, I struggled a little bit with the format of this particular memoir. For me, a memoir is about sharing a part of yourself and thus forging a connection between the reader and the writer that is more intimate than what you would find in fiction or a biography (or even an autobiography, maybe). I found this connection lacking due to the medium—I had little to know emotional connection to the content, which severely limited my ability to enjoy this piece. I did experience occasional frustration, due to two things that I can identify.
First, I wasn’t able to follow the emotional or thematic thread of the story. I couldn’t figure out why she did the things she did, or why certain elements appeared and disappeared or otherwise changed in importance. (This might be somewhat representative of it previously being in four volumes.) It was a level of detachment that just didn’t work for me. I think that would have been easier for me if the story had been in writing–I think having the words to explain beyond mere dialogue, to process her thoughts, would have made things much easier for me personally. Another reader may have no trouble at all with this.
Second, although there was the occasional info dump explaining the situation—whether through her parents, the news, or others in her life—I found myself more often than not feeling like I didn’t know enough about the political situation at hand. I came into the book knowing a little bit about the culture and the religion, but my general knowledge of history and politics is spotty. I felt like I had to do research to appreciate the book, and that frustrated me a little bit because I wasn’t prepared for it.
However, I found what information I did get absolutely fascinating. The way she addressed and depicted the culture shock of these different places—especially in her return home—is something I personally could connect with because I’ve experienced it. That was, unfortunately, the extent of that connection though.
Overall, it was a quick read. I wasn’t engrossed, nor did I feel a need to put it down, really–but when I did, I had little to no urge to pick it up again either. Like The Moth Diaries (which I always mistype as Mother on the first try), it’s not that I dislike the piece. I’m just not particularly fond of it.
And here, that is entirely on me and my personal preferences. Another reader may very well enjoy the visual story. At least I wasn’t bored ^^
Recommended for? Fans of graphic novels, fans of contemporary/memoir, those interested in the Islamic Revolution, those who have experienced or wish to learn about different cultures (especially culture shock)
Have you read The Complete Persepolis? What did you think?
If you haven’t, do you now want to?
Hello! It’s Thinking Thursday, and that means it’s time for a review 😀 Book Club Read #3. I was really curious going on how it would be because I find boarding schools really interesting environments, but [spoiler alert] I ended up disappointed.
Title || The Moth Diaries (GoodReads)
Author || Rachel Klein
Published || 2010 by Faber and Faber Limited (Reprint)
Form || Paperback
Genre || Horror? Thriller? Mystery?
Rating || 2/5
Yay || Carmilla “retelling”
Nay || The format/structure
Summary || Girl obsessed with her roommate grows obsessed with her roommate’s new friend, who she thinks is a vampire.
I’m not a huge fan, and my reasons honestly all relate back to the format/structure of the story, particularly in the notion of the diary.
I found the foreword/prologue to be jarring and unnecessary. The statement that she had clearly had a psychotic break during the book pulled me out of the book itself; it made me aware not only that I was reading fiction all the while, but also that the narrator wasn’t to be trusted at all, and I was thus left to wonder why I should care.
And I didn’t.
About anything really.
This disappointed me in great part because this could have been really good. The idea of retelling Carmilla in a boarding school in the 60s or 70s, except with an ambiguous supernatural element, could have been wonderful. The juxtaposition of sanity to insanity, and thus supernatural to natural, would have been beautiful if executed well. I do not feel that was done here, unfortunately.
I expected a sort of descent into madness, a blurring of reality and hallucination, but I never really got that. I was waiting for it–I was waiting to see things and wonder whether they were real–but the things I saw were blatantly one thing or the other only because I know that the narrator had this break with reality (and have no reason to think otherwise). Ernessa’s character had such potential to be interesting, but because we aren’t really shown much of her or the way that she makes the narrator feel, the “realization” that she’s a vampire is at once completely left-field (because evidence in the book is so scarce) and entirely too obvious (because of the references to the supernatural, vampires, and Carmilla, as well as the book’s marketing).
Worse, I had no emotional connection to the characters, in part because of the diary format. The narrator, in my opinion, writes with very little emotion. Her obsession with Lucy is clear (again helped along by marketing), but it’s never clear why they’re friends–an explanation inappropriate to the formatting, but important if the reader is to feel sympathy for the insipid “traitor.”
While it stays true to the nature of the journal, the diary leaves little out of day-to-day life. Maybe I’m blind to the usefulness of the scenes, but I found that a good portion of it was irrelevant fluff. I found myself wondering, over halfway through, when something interesting would happen. Anything interesting that did happen was glossed over–due to the diary format, the narrator’s emotionless recounting, or both. Even the end, which ought to have been, wasn’t exciting.
I’m interested in the movie because the removal of the diary format will, I think, make it more successful in my eyes despite the low ratings I’ve seen.
In the end, I’d suggest you read Carmilla (or reread it) rather than picking this up unless you’re interested by what I’ve said so far. It was a decent idea with poor execution. I didn’t think it was bad, but I had little to no emotional connection to the characters or the story–I was so bored for most of it, waiting for something to happen, than I can’t even say I dislike it.
Recommended for? Fans of the diary format, fans of Carmilla
Have you read The Moth Diaries? What did you think?
If you haven’t, do you now want to?