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review 2018-09-27 01:40
Pretty but problematic
Cinder - Marissa Meyer

I'm divided on this one.

 

I liked the writing. I liked the stab at representation and consent issues. New takes of old tales are always an interest to me, and the sci-fi slant is just more win.

 

I could not get over Earland. On his own, he undermines most of the good bits about body-autonomy, consent and chauvinistics screenings. There's this bit where the doc passes on testing the virus/cure combo on a male cyborg ostensibly because he's too old (and in his mind, ostensibly because he has a son), but then gets all gung-ho on testing the teen girl, and a female colleague implies it is because he's a chauvinistic ass. But hey, no! That woman was obviously wrong and overreacting! (oversensitive feminists!) He just knew that the immune one he was looking for would be a cyborg teen girl. He's not racist or anything. It is just a pity that the easiest way to find her was to implement a draft on a group with little body autonomy and they... well... die. The princess (and a cure... that too) must be found! He's just working with the system! Honest! (I kept thinking of The Immortal life of Henrietta Lacks, and also the Nuremberg Trials, ain't he a peach?)

 

The other bit that I did not like was the very end.

 

Cinder is overwhelmed by all the revelations and pretty much giving up, even as Earland gives her the tools to escape and a path forward (Oh yeah, and on that note, this speech is not skeevy at all

But finding you and being able to reinstate you as queen are two very different goals. I have planned this moment for a long time. I can help you.”
Cinder gawked at him as panic gripped her lungs. “Reinstate me as queen?”
The doctor cleared his throat. “I understand you are frightened right now, and confused. Do not think too much. All I’m asking is that you find a way out of this prison. I know you can do that. Then come to Africa. I will guide you through the rest. Please. We cannot let Levana win.”

) she can't even contemplate it till she thinks about her prince *eye-roll*. Yeah, the whole cheese is a bit much, but getting out of dodge? How about not needing a love interest to get the drive to stay alive? (sorry, but Bella consumed any quota of patience for that devise that I ever possessed)

(spoiler show)

 

And I knew it was a series, but I still hate books that do not resolve the main plot. I like series with myth arcs and more or less self contained volumes. I can count the amount of books I "forgave" cliff-hangers or series' hooks with one hand, so a final demotion, though this one smaller and more personal.

 

Hell, likely all the cons I wrote there are personal anyway. It likely is the perfect book for many people, and I might still read the rest. I'm just not in as much of a rush as I felt I'd be at the start.

 

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review 2017-05-05 09:18
The more I though, the more I raged
Casino Royale - Ian Fleming

I have so many issues with this. The rampant misogyny, of course. The fact that, personally, I find the whole espionage reason d'etre detestable. And generally, the part where this was not the story I was expecting.

Let's say I waive away the misogyny with a bit of dark amusement (passing the middle-point, I just wanted Vesper to stick it to Bond; and then there is the line "sweet tang of rape" that should be killed with fire, you can get some great examples under the spoiler tag), and take the spy tale on the hope that it'll be some fast action cheap-thrill. I did not get even that. I got a lot of card-playing, torture, and then a mess... I don't even know of what category, certainly not romantic, maybe melodrama. Hell,  I though it was already cheap that a woman couldn't be competent unless she was evil, but it was something (see, even lowering my standards to not be an angry female, what a waste), and then Vesper couldn't even rate to Femme-fatal. So no, there is no way to waive the misogyny. It's entrenched into the plot.

Someone could argue it's truer to the real world and the era, either the unexciting grimness or Bond's stance. I say fuck all that. Let us please have no more Vespers in real life, no more Bonds being glorified in fiction. Let us find other icons.

 

You can find some the shout-inducing bits here

Women were for recreation. On a job, they got in the way and fogged things up with sex and hurt feelings and all the emotional baggage they carried around. One had to look out for them and take care of them.

 

Charming, huh? Another beauty:

 

And luck in all its moods had to be loved and not feared. Bond saw luck as a woman, to be softly wooed or brutally ravaged, never pandered to or pursued. But he was honest enough to admit that he had never yet been made to suffer by cards or by women.  One day, and he accepted the fact he would be brought to his knees by love or by luck. When that happened he knew that he too would be branded with the deadly question-mark he recognized so often in others, the promise to pay before you have lost: the acceptance of fallibility.

 

Women, if they defeat you, take away you self-assurance.

 

This was just what he had been afraid of. These blithering women who thought they could do a man's work. Why the hell couldn't they stay at home and mind their pots and pans and stick to their frocks and gossip and leave men's work to the men. And now for this to happen to him, just when the job had come off so beautifully. For Vesper to fall for an old trick like that and get herself snatched and probably held to ransom like some bloody heroine in a strip cartoon. The silly bitch.

 

He really likes that word.

 

'Torture is a terrible thing,' he was saying as he puffed at a fresh cigarette, 'but it is a simple matter for the torturer, particularly when the patient,' he smiled at the word, 'is a man. You see, my dear Bond, with a man it is quite unnecessary to indulge in refinements. With this simple instrument, or with almost any other object, one can cause a man as much pain as is possible or necessary. Do not believe what you read in novels or books about the war. There is nothing worse. It is not only the immediate agony, but also the thought that your manhood is being gradually destroyed and that at the end, if you will not yield, you will no longer be a man.

 

The bad guy has more respect for a woman that the "hero". Women are more difficult, not because of some chivalrous bullshit, but because men are so attached to their organ *eye-roll*. And for the WTF crown:

 

And now he knew that she was profoundly, excitingly sensual, but that the conquest of her body, because of the central privacy in her, would each time have the sweet tang of rape.

 

It's supposed to be romantic. But then, this is just the inner character commentary, you have to still contend with the plot if you can go past that. Fuck this, I'm done.

(spoiler show)

 

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review 2017-04-08 21:45
Uneven but fun
End of Days - Susan Ee

I kept wavering between being annoyed by the romantic tumor and cheering from the spurts of awesomeness. Mostly I was carried by the fast current of fun. Some of the swerves in the rapids were umbelivably ridiculous but it floats on the rule of epic I guess. And the quotable anvil commentary.

 

Don't think about it too much and have fun if you strap onto this one.

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review 2017-03-15 15:40
Bah!
A Painted Goddess (A Fire Beneath the Skin Book 3) - Victor Gischler

No, no, nope. This one didn't do for me. It wasn't bad perse, I guess, but no. I was bored, and I was annoyed, and while I liked some elements, and kinda expected the ending... still no.
 
I think mostly it is that this volume, and the previous one, exacerbated a vague sense I had in the first install of lack of substance. I can't quite explain it, that feeling, but it was as if the story check-marked. Also, vol 2 and 3 was too scattered. It was necessary for the plot, and that's the thing: it felt forced (mcguffing retrieval, all of them, and amazingly serendipitous, which aligns with the "fate" thing the plot has going, but still sucks). The empress pov, while interesting, was totally pointless.

 

So, yeah, so not for me.

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review 2016-11-04 05:23
Another dystopian teen meh
Wither (Chemical Garden) - Lauren DeStefano

It wasn't BAD. It wasn't good in any different or outstanding way either. Too many of it's type crowding the shelves, and some of them are decidedly better.

 

There were some nice bits on the relative strengh of the realtionships betweend sister wives and wife and husband, and there was some ring of truth in the blurriness between a self preserving act, compassion and true caring.

 

Most lacked any meat for me, and since it was set up as a first volume and little else, it did little to satisfy me in any respect unless I choose to follow up, and I really don't intend to.

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