You may be tired of magical London stories, but don't let that keep you from reading this one. It's worth it.
Books started:12 (including the 2 I'm currently reading)
Books finished: 10
Books not finished: 2
Genre breakdown: All SFF, all the time! Not even pretending to read anything else this month, no sirree.
What progress made on Mount TBR? Probably not helped by my choosing to re-read Ancillary Justice and Ancillary Sword in preparation for the final book in that trilogy coming out. And then I added a few more books because the ebooks were reduced in price and some new stuff that's due out next year, so that didn't help either. All in all, I think I added more books this month than I read new.
Book of the month: It feels a little unfair to choose the entire Imperial Radch trilogy (though Ancillary Mercy was just as good as the first two) but they really were the best things I read in October, so I will.
I have to admit, I bumped this book up my TBR list because I discovered my local library branch has the second and third books of the trilogy, which meant if I liked this one then I could finish the whole thing off quite easily and quickly. Alas, I don't think I will be carrying on with this series - it wasn't bad but it also wasn't quite my thing.
The City's Son is about Beth, who is a teenage girl living in London with her father - after the death of her mother, her father has retreated into himself and left Beth to pretty much fend for herself. She only has one friend and they entertain themselves out of school hours by tagging places with graffiti. This one relationship on which Beth is relying falls apart when they graffiti their own school with a caricature of one of the teachers and Beth's friend turns her in (for reasons which we know, but which Beth doesn't). As a result, Beth effectively goes on the run and meets an odd young man called Filius Viae, who is waging a battle against the forces that threaten to overwhelm the city.
I struggled with this book for a couple of reasons. Firstly, the choice by the author of first person for Filius (and at least one other character, whose point of view we also get later on) and third person for Beth. Even after a couple of chapters of this, I was finding this affected my engagement with the story and I couldn't really see why this had been done. Secondly, I found some of the writing unnecessarily florid, to the point where it felt at times like the author was sacrificing clarity over what was actually happening for the sake of descriptive prose which again didn't really work for me.
That's just how it goes, sometimes... Anyway, the series continues with The Glass Republic but I won't be carrying on with it.
Don't know how long I'm going to last with this, as the author has made the stylistic choice to have the main character's points of view be respectively told in first and third person. Only a few chapters in and I am already getting annoyed with it - the overall plot idea is interesting enough but this might be too much for me to overcome!
Beth Bradley is no ordinary teenager, and she never has been. After her mother's death, her father sort of lost his grasp of reality, which means that Beth is pretty much left to do as she pleases - and what Beth loves to do is roam the streets of London with her best friend, Pen, leaving a trail of graffiti everywhere she goes. But when a piece of graffiti gets her expelled from her school, Beth turns to the streets, where she meets an extraordinary boy named Filius, who claims to be the son of a goddess. Filius shows Beth a side of London that she's never seen before, and now that she's found it, she can never go back.
Interview with Tom Pollock:
This is probably one of the most original books that I've ever read. Pollock takes ordinary objects that we see everyday and he turns them into something completely new and magical, and sometimes terrifying. It's a world where statues can fight, garbage can be come a living, breathing entity, and reflections in a mirror can be just real as the person next to you. And he takes an ordinary girl and places her right in the middle of it. This story is raw and violent. It will make you cringe and disgust you. But it's so masterfully written that you won't be able to stop reading. At first, I found this world to be difficult to picture, because it's just so different from our own, and yet, it's based on the London that we know, or have at least heard of. I think that part of the problem was just that this genre is completely new to me, so it took me a while to adjust myself. It's certainly no fault of Pollock's, because he's a master of description - he doesn't leave you completely blind to his characters' surroundings, but he doesn't get long-winded, either.
The story is told from multiple perspectives, and Pollock is an author who can actually use this technique well, moving smoothly from character to character without losing track of the story or becoming choppy. Each character is well-developed and multifaceted. They each have very real fears, but they each face them bravely, even if their lives are on the line - and they very often are. As the story develops, we watch each of the characters grow and become a better version of themselves.
I think that one of the most interesting aspects of this book is that it deals with the concept of an absent god, one who's abandoned its worshipers. It's an extremely daring move to make and I think that Pollock tackles it with tact, but also with honesty. It's done in a way that teens can understand, but it's also subtle enough that they may not make the connection that it's sort of a commentary on the religion of our world unless they truly sit and think about it. I think this aspect of the book might make some parents pause, but let's be honest: this book was written for high school students, most of whom aren't going to pass over a book just because Mom and Dad say to do so.
Overall, I'd say that this was an great piece of literature - it's original, it grabs your attention fast and never lets go, it's well-written. I have no complaints. The only reason I didn't give it 5 stars is that for me, a 5 star book has to be WAY above and beyond my expectations and my new favorite book. While a great book, this isn't my favorite. But it's still fantastic and I encourage you to go read it!
This book is definitely appropriate for high school and above, but not any younger. It's chock-full of profanity and oh my goodness, the violence is astounding. It's not just battle scenes and briefly saying that someone got hurt; you learn exactly how they got hurt and exactly how they're wounded and how much pain they're in... it's quite gruesome. Be prepared for that. Also, there are references to sex and while it's not graphic, again, it's raw,
especially when you learn that Pen was raped by the nasty teacher who got Beth expelled
So, to any librarians who wish to include The City's Son in their collection, I would advise that you be wary of patrons' ages when recommending this to them. I think you'd be safe to recommend this to anyone older than 15, but I probably would be cautious to recommend this to readers who are much younger than that.