29 November 2009

Away With the Fairies

Wildwood Dancing by Juliet Marillier (Knopf, 2007).

Once upon a time in deepest darkest Transylvania, a wealthy merchant lives in a tumble-down castle with his five daughters. The merchant's health is not good and, following his physician's advice, he departs for a gentler clime. He leaves his business in the hands of his second eldest daughter, but (alas) this does not sit well with their pig-headed cousin, who does not think a girl should be put in such a position. Slowly, horribly, he takes control of their lives and makes the sisters prisoners in their own home ...

Meanwhile, the sisters had been sneaking out every full moon to dance with the fairies in a magic wood. One full moon, the eldest sister falls head-over-heels for a pale visitor to the fairy court -- one of the (dumdumdum) Night People -- and enters into what can only be an ill-fated love affair ...

And then there is the second-eldest daughter's pet frog who may well be more than a frog!

Overall, I enjoyed Wildwood Dancing. While the eldest daughter's wasting-away-lovelornness was incomprehensible to me (Many times I wanted to grab her by the shoulders and say "Don't sigh and stop eating! Fight for your love, you stupid girl!"), Marillier's world building was very good and I would love to read more about the other sisters.

22 November 2009

Oryx & Crake by Margaret Atwood



These things sneak up on him for no reason, these flashes of irrational happiness. It's probably a vitamin deficiency.

I finished Oryx & Crake two weeks ago and still don't know what to say about it. Meh, I guess, sums it up best.

While Jimmy the Snowman is possibly the only human left alive on a plague devastated Earth, he is far from the only person. With him are the Crakers -- green-eyed mosquito-repelling plant-eaters who are genetically incapable of believing in God.

Once upon a time, Jimmy had lived in a world divided between rich, secure compounds and overpopulated, crime-ridden pleeblands. A world controlled by science-for-profit entities like HelthWyzer, OrgansInc, or AnooYoo. A world of synthesized foods and commodified everything. A world not too distant from our own.

Happily, Jimmy's friend Crake grew up obsessed with ridding the Earth of homo sapiens -- a species with too much monkey still in it. Instead, he would replace us with his green-eyed children, the Crakers.

I thought the premise behind Oryx and Crake was very compelling, but the actual novel was so intellectually removed for me, as a reader, that it was impossible to feel any real horror or strong emotion. Also, I found most of the central characters to be blandly cardboard-ish or plain unlikeable (Jimmy was such a prat that I started rooting for the pigoons).

Oryx & Crake by Margaret Atwood (Nan A. Talese, 2003)

14 November 2009

Ice Song by Kirsten Imani Kasai


Sorykah, an submarine engineer with a secret history of gender-swapping, comes ashore to welcome the arrival of her infant twins and their nanny. Who never arrive -- they have been stolen away by The Collector's monstrous henchman. Thus begins Sorykah's epic quest to retrieve her children from the Collector's monstrous machinations in a world riddled with genetic anomalies.

I really enjoyed the first half of the book, but the second half bogged down with too many sub-plots and some very silly sexual shenanigans. Also, the text flowed weirdly in spots -- as if I was reading an awkward translation or a novel that was trying too hard to sound foreign and strange.

Ice Song by Kirsten Imani Kasai (Del Rey, 2009)

08 November 2009

UR FEARS, LET ME TASTE THEM

Ink Exchange by Melissa Marr (Harper Teen, 2008).

In the universe of Wicked Lovely, the Summer King has found his Queen and (even if things didn't turn out quite as anticipated) everything is pure bliss and sunshine ... unless you're part of the Dark Court. Alas, members of the Dark Court feed on all those murky, dark, jaggedy-edged emotions that bliss and sunshine don't leave room for and thus they are becoming quite weak (and cranky) from hunger. What to do? Find a "willing" mortal, give her a magic tattoo, and funnel all of humanities ugly emotional bits through her. Yes, she might go crazy or die, but better her than the Dark Court ...

Ink Exchange is a companion novel and, as such, does not really touch upon the whole Aislinn-Keenan-Seth thing that got going in Wicked Lovely. If you want to know what happens with those three, then you need to read Fragile Eternity. There's a manga, too, but that is also more a companion piece than a direct continuation.

06 November 2009

Mah loot, let me show you it

An embarrassment of riches for my birthday! I had better deactivate all my pending inter-library loans, because it could take a while to get through this pile!

I don't even know where to start ...