... including shopping for book gifts. Inevitably, I ended up also getting a few books for myself ...
This one was one weird cookie. And for my first forage in Duras, not an auspicious one.
The premise, such as there is one, is interesting (when we finally get to glimpse wtf, but hey, if you made it to page 3, you know the writing is... hard to get used to would be my kind assessment), and some of the way it's approached rings true. But 90 pages of it in a weird literary flight and such a dreary tone? Big pass.
It's like taking a Nîn short story, stretch it 5 times it's length, take all the joy of it till the erotic label barely applies, add some strange (maybe theatric cues? Maybe meta? Who even knows!) paragraphs, and presto, depressing incomprehensible shit for you.
*sigh* We bought an extra book of hers this august. Wonder if I'll ever read it.
Agni sacrifices his life protecting Prince Soma from the killers in Ciel's home. Ciel and Sebastian arrive too late. This is when the other Ciel arrives. It turns out that the Ciel readers have known since the beginning of the series is actually a twin, specifically the spare (who, unless I missed it, is never once named in this entire volume). Flashbacks show their birth and childhood. The spare Ciel (our Ciel) wanted to become a toymaker, while Ciel was going to be the next Earl Phantomhive. Spare Ciel was sickly and, although no one ever treated him unkindly, there were frequent reminders that one day he'd be on his own. This volume's bonus illustration and Black Butler AU: Black Santa.
Oh boy. Well, that explains why Lizzie said she couldn't come back. She realized that she's actually the fiancee of the real Ciel (aka Evil Ciel).
I'm tempted to go looking up interviews, because I find it difficult to believe that this particular twist was planned for the more than the past two or three volumes. I don't own this series and therefore can't go back to look inconsistencies, but I can recall multiple times in the past when Ciel met with people who knew his parents who should have said something about the information revealed in this volume. I mean, there's no good explanation for why they didn't.
Why would they be sad about the parents but never once think about Ciel's adorable and sickly little brother, even if he wasn't destined to be the next earl?
So on the one hand, I'm looking forward to reading the next volume and seeing where Toboso goes with this. It feels like we might be nearing the series' endgame. On the other hand, this twist feels cheap and annoying. And if it's revealed that
real Ciel had a hand in spare Ciel's abuse and near-death after their parents died, I'm probably going to get snarly. There's no sign of it in the way they interact with each other in the flashback, so the main reason why I'm worried this development is a possibility is because it occurred to me that the people who killed Agni looked an awful lot like the robed guys who kept Ciel (spare Ciel) caged.
My guess is that spare Ciel is going to have a bit of a breakdown as soon as the flashbacks are over, but hopefully he'll snap out of it pretty quickly. Real Ciel might have surprise and a bunch of killers on his side, but spare Ciel has a demon, so I'm betting on the spare.
I feel like I'm rewarding bad behavior with my 4-star rating for this volume, but Toboso's efforts did have the intended effect of making me really, really want to read the next volume, so there's that.
(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)
Done! *cheers* (and an abrupt end it was)
I confess I started to loose my enthusiasm by Purgatory, and Paradiso veritably dragged for me.
Inferno is indeed the most interesting, likely because it concentrates more on describing the poetic (and in many cases gruesome) justice inflicted there.
Purgatory gets a bit wishy washy because we are even more deluged with contemporary examples, which was exhausting from a "pausing to research WTF" whenever I needed context to understand the grade, and felt like self indulgent page bloating when I didn't. And then we get to Eden, pretty cavalcade of symbolism lead by the still much discussed mystery that is Matilda, and meet Beatriz. Ahhhh, the lady herself, that symbolizes theology. Maybe it is no wonder I found her supercilious and overly jealous.
I have to praise Dante's balls: first he aligns himself equal among Homer, Ovid and Virgil in that Limbo chat, and here he places his lady love highly enthroned in the Empireum, representing the Dogma by which he knows God.
If I could leave Paradiso just taking away that love has been his salvation and his way to heaven, we'd be good. But no, he had to insist on hammering until rigid conformity to scripture was reached. Thorough what felt like endless proselytizing (hey, I know it is my fault, because what was I expecting, right?) and pointing fingers of doom everywhere (the amount of eggs thrown the church's way! And his political enemies... you bet this got him the exile prophesied to him here).
Also, even considering some pretty descriptions, the spheres felt lame and boring reward (and here I'm reminded of Huxley calling happiness undramatic and boring, and Le Guin criticizing those that think "Only pain is intellectual, only evil interesting"). Where is the imaginative poetic justice of the first third? Methinks Dante got too tangled in the discussion of virtues and splitting hairs on their display levels. So yeah, I get the whole "watching god and feeling his light is rapture beyond comprehension", I'm still contending that the theological got in the way of the literary, and there goes one star. Sue me.