The first book of Butler's I've read. A fascinating writer who breaks new ground, especially for the time in which the book was written. She brings a black feminist aesthetic to her work and uses it to expose cultural, sexual, and racial biases, all the while offering the reader a gripping tale.
While this work might not be as shocking now as it was in 1979, it's well worth a read. Classified as a 'science-fiction' work due to the time travel, it stands equally in 'literary fiction', as does the work of Ursula LeGuin, and 'African-American literature'.
From time to time I always enjoy looking for a new YA series to start. I received an email from Netgalley about this book and it interested me so much that I thought it would be the next YA series that I'd try. I really enjoyed this through most of the book but for me the events towards the end of the book really lessened my enjoyment. In fact the ending seemed so wrapped up to me that I don't see how or why this would continue as a series.
Ruby was a really good character to follow and I enjoyed reading about her. I liked that her eventual romance with Arcus did not overwhelm the plot. She was going to get her revenge and nothing was going to stop her.
Ruby was definitely the bright spot of this book but events towards the end just left me a bit bored. Everything just works out too easily and everything is pretty much wrapped up at the end. I will not be continuing on with this series unfortunately.
Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the galley.
I started reading The Black Prism because one of my English students recommended it to me. I’m a big fan of fantasy, and I had been in a book funk lately. Anything I tried, I just couldn’t get into. However, I started to read this book. I put it down, and kept thinking about it, and that was when I knew, I had a series to read. Finally!
The story itself in a way is standard fantasy. There are rich and poor people, a coming war, feuding, magic users vs non-magic users. What sets it apart partly is the magic system. It was very interesting, though at first a bit hard to comprehend. It’s common nowadays to not actually explain stuff, but just have the reader gradually find them out. It did make it hard to understand in the beginning. I often wish people would just have a foreword to explain these things. It makes it a bit hard to get into the story, because you spend your brainpower trying to work out a complicated fantasy magic system. Once I got it though, I do like how it works.
The main reason why I really got into the story was one of the main characters, Kip. An overweight, kind of a loser, barely teen boy with a mouth on him. Usually, the main characters are special. He is kind of special, but he’s also really terrible at most things. I’ve never been a teen boy, but I find it immensely funny how he keeps having inappropriate thoughts in the worst moments possible. I also love how he’s not skinny. Most of my life, I’ve been overweight. He is a lot like me in that he hates his fat, but it’s not really something he can help. So while Kip is special, like most main characters nowadays, he still has qualities that make him more relatable.
My other favourite character is Gavin. Now, my student looked at me kind of funny when I said this, so I may come to not like him so much in the future, but for now, I do. From the first moment, he is kind of a mystery. There are hints that some things are going on in the background that we don’t know about. There had been one big reveal in the book, and I really loved it, since I never saw it coming. However, there are still some unanswered questions. It keeps the reader really engaged, because you just want to find out the answers.
My one problem with the book was the battle scenes. Honestly, after a while, they were dragging on, and I was having a hard time following in my head. It could just be me, because I’ve had a similar problem with other writers. I’m just not a big fan of battles.
Overall, I really liked the book. I recommend it to fans of fantasies with good magic systems, or with big battles. I’m definitely reading on, and already snuck a peek at the next book, even though I should be doing other stuff. It’s on my Kindle now though, so I’m definitely reading more today. I only gave it 4 stars, because 5 stars go to books like Harry Potter. The kind where I never want to let go.
Cross-posted at Unapologetic Reviews, where you can find more reviews.
I listened to this book as an audiobook. I actually enjoyed it in this format very much. It was mainly read by the author, but it also had a full cast for the characters. Much better than when a male reader tries to imitate female voices. Though sometimes that can be very funny. It reminded me of the fairy tale cassettes I used to fall asleep to as a child.
The story itself is about a girl, Lyra. It's obvious from the first moment that she's one of those destined children so popular in fantasy fiction. She's also 11, which is a common age to start child characters off. Lyra is a smart and cunning child. One of those natural leaders that can be the next Martin Luther King Jr., or the next Stalin. Which one she will become depends entirely on her basic temperament and life experiences. She is also very adaptable, just like her daemon. Whatever environment she finds herself in, she becomes part of it. She does feel like a normal child though. Sometimes children in stories are like mini-adults, but she isn't. I do find it interesting that a man picks a little girl to write about, while a similar destined character, Harry Potter, was written by a woman.
Daemons are the very core of the story. At first, I didn't feel they were properly explained. I got that daemons were the souls of people, but how they could function only became clearer as the story progressed. Daemons were the true forms of souls. They revealed the hidden desires, personalities, thoughts of people. It would be nice to have a daemon in real life. According to a Buzzfeed test, mine would be a cat.
There are some other characters, that were very intriguing, and a joy to read about. My personal favourites were the witches. Interestingly enough, they're the non-Christian characters, though they also seem to have some sort of a religion. I loved how Serafina Pekkala talked about the life of witches, how their longevity was a blessing and a curse.
The armoured bears were also interesting. I was especially intrigued by Iofur Raknison. He is a bear, who wants to be a man to be baptised. In a way, he reminded me of many peoples that decided to convert to Christianity, shunning their own native cultures. It wasn't properly explained though, what his motivations were. Maybe a form of self-hate. Hating being a bear, because he thought being a man would be more. Or he wanted the absolution for the things that he had done that the Catholic Church offers to people. To be free of his sins. Of course, sins can only be forgiven by ourselves if we want to be free of them, and some sins are purely imaginary, like the whole Original Sin idea. Religion tells you, you are sick, and they have the cure. The only trouble is, most people aren't sick at all. If you do have true sins, like Iofur, the forgiveness of others has no real meaning. It can help people to find a way to forgive themselves, which is probably what Iofur is really seeking, but in the end, the matter has to be dealt with on the inside of every person.
The story is about the importance of self, of thinking, free will. The evil people in the story are basically all those religious organisations that try to tell people how and what to think. I'm not completely sure yet what dust is exactly, but I have a few theories. I'm sure the story will be more and more about religion, having listened to Philip Pullman in interviews, but I'm curious as to where he will take the story. I do have the whole series as audiobooks, and lots of time to listen to them as I come and go.
This book can be read two ways. As a child, seeing the adventure, the evil characters, and cheering Lyra on. Or as an adult, observing the underlying themes, thinking about how freethinking has been hampered, progress, imagination stiffened by religion. I know, probably lots of religious parents are scared to give the book to their children, because of the very thing that I've written. However, if their religion is true, should it not withstand the test of reading fiction?
I do recommend this book. It's great fun, though brace yourselves for the ending. In a way, on its own, it was a bit like The Hunger Games' brand of dystopia. Also makes you think. Who ever said that books that made you think about religion had to be boring?
Read my review of the movie as well! I do compare it with the book.
Cross-posted at http://unapologetic-reviews.blogspot.com, where you can find more reviews.