The other half of my heart is much like making a loaf of bread.
It requires attention, and time to formulate the finished product. The process is, at times, complex and the end result is delightful but somewhat expected.
Now I've finished with the similes, we can get into the review. The characters were very realistic. I quite liked the damaged quality of them all in the beginning, they felt like real people, but things got a little tedious about 60% through. I wanted to see more character development. It felt like it was all a little too slow.
The plot and character arcs were obvious from about 20% in. So if you like your books to be a bit mysterious you probably won't like this one. If you enjoy a quiet, sweet romp through a slightly romance-ish story with middle-aged protagonists then jump on board.
If you like horses this one is a story for you. In fact, this reminded me of a grown up version of the Saddle club books, aimed at adults but maintaining that horsey-focus which was a welcome change from the rather adult books I normally read. I enjoyed being immersed in the world of working on a horse farm and the way in which the romance blossomed. I feel the book was strongest in the opening chapters, but slowly things got a bit out of focus.
The overall feel of the book could have been emotional, and some of the other reviews are raving on about is as such, but I feel that the middle of the book disconnected me from the characters too much, and then the emotional turmoil I was meant to feel, just didn't happen. There's sad parts, sure, but they didn't pack the punch I think they were meant to.
Still, the book is a solidly written, the storyline is tried and true, and the characters are complex. It just wasn't spot on for me, hence the lower star rating. Still worth a read if you like horses or long winding plots with a middle-aged protagonist.
A few things I noticed:
7% - supresssing (delete third s)
10% - ...and she (delete she) hope that the world...
51% - ...towelling dressing gown aare(are) anything...
**Note: I was provided an electronic version of this book through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review**
Two words to describe this book: Beautifully conflicting.
The Orchid Nursery contains within its pretty covers, a vicious and unflinching dystopian Australia. One where women have been bred to follow scriptures and beliefs that they should serve men, they should long to be 'Perfected'.
When girls (or girlies as they are called in the book) live under the supervision of an augmented dorm mother in dormitories that bare sexually charged titles and the girls are named after dirt, rocks and wood. Not to mention the horrendous scriptures the girls are led to believe and are brainwashed into not just following, but actively embracing.
For any woman in this day and age, the near-future world that Katz created will rankle and burn as your eyes grate over each word.
But, while the story is a bitter flavored pill to swallow, the writing, oh, my. The writing is superb.
One scene Mica, our pious little narrator, experiences is one of the most chillingly horrific scenes I've read (and I've read some whizz bang horror!) in all my born days. Yet, the way in which it was written drew me in, caressed my inner editor and led her merrily down the garden path. I was so conflicted. I loved it and hated it in the same breath.
Few authors have had this level of impact on me as a reader, and even fewer have been able to get me to check my hatred for open misogyny at the door and swallow my anger.
I should have hated this book for all the hateful crap it spouts (the world, not Katz - let me be clear here!) yet I was drawn in, wanting to understand how a world that decayed and broken could ever have come from anything resembling ours.
What I found, much to my dismay, is that Katz's vision and how they wound up that way, was not completely unbelievable. As much as I wanted to deny it, I can see us making similar mistakes. Taking similar steps into the fiery furnace.
Aside from inflicting extremely conflicting emotions in me, this book provides solid (albeit flawed) characters, it paints a picture of real people, ones filled with good intentions but are forced to make devastating decisions.
It highlights the way in which society can change in one moment, and how we deal with that change may make or break our world.
And it delivers such strong messages about what consequences our decisions have, not just to ourselves, but possibly, those around us too. And of course, it can't be all bleak and darkness, there's a tiny slice of hope and optimism that pokes it's head up too, which rounds out the novel delightfully.
I have never read anything remotely similar to this book, though others are likening it the Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale. I am yet to read it, so I can't comment on that.
I don't know if I really love this book or I hate it, but it's a five star read from me because of how much it has made me think about the ideals and themes in this book, and also for the beautifully crafted writing and amazingly complex characters.
One warning, there's quite a lot of swearing, and frequent use for the c-bomb and other synonyms. Not recommended for younger audiences.
**Note: I won a paperback copy of this book through the GoodReads FirstReads competition**
This trilogy had me chomping at the bit, dying to read the next line, the next chapter and the next book.
Pacat's writing style is something of sheer beauty. It is simultaneously complex and yet utterly simplistic when it comes to understanding it. The layers of foreshadowing and deceit tangle together and create a cover of sorts over the fragile, yet fierce romance plot. I am in awe of it.
The story is a fitting conclusion to the trilogy and was everything and more than I'd hoped for to bring Damen and Laurent's quest to a close.
My favourite chapters included soft and touching ones, to those in the heat of battle. The same themes and plot thrumming through them which pulled me ever deeper into the tangled lives of the two young Royal protagonists.
I'm giving this 5 stars purely because of my joy of the story, but I must say, the editing of the kindle version was rather appalling for a big publishing house. There were a lot of missed spacing and punctuation. Sentences lumped together, and even a typo. I expected more from Penguin. I've experienced better from Indie authors and freelance editors.
To sum up, this has been one of the most invasive, addictive, delicious trilogies that I have ever read. I loved the characters like they were real people, and despite being sad that the story is over, I feel that the ending was appropriate and concluded the story well.
I look forward to reading anything else Pacat creates. Do yourself a favor, and buy these books today!
Like most of Tony's short stories, this one captures a single concept and gently prods it. This one could very easily be turned into a bigger story. Who were these people? How did the world end up as it is depicted in the story? Who was the girl?
It raises a lot of unanswered questions. Questions I'd like to see Tony try to answer in a longer piece. :)