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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 2018-09-04 22:39
Not what I expected, but I could not stop reading
Strangers on a Train - Patricia Highsmith

I think I enjoyed this one exactly for the same reasons everyone disliked it: the characters were so messed up it was nerve-wreaking to read.

 

I've likely commented many times before how I love those books that engage me enough for me to get emotional over the characters, even if it is rage enough to want to strangle them, and that's pretty much what happens here. Bruno is a messed up cookie, and Guy is a derrotist moron, and that's what drives the slide-down-the-slope plot.

 

There is the thing too: I think most people think this will be something that is not. It is not a mystery. It is not a heist type of book of two guys planning perfect murders. What it is, is the very, very, very messed up relationship between a sociopath and a coward. The murders are just the thing that binds them and the theme is something like "all the wrong choices". While it made most dislike the book, it made me want to bitch-slap Guy and continue to read the train-wreak.

 

I think Highsmith was trying for this high-minded "either guilt or law will punish" poetic thing at the end, but it felt like an unnecessary convolution that made me go "NOW you find your spine/brain/cold-thinking to live with your actions, you moron", which, yeah, OK, poetic irony or something but... 4 stars

 

 

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text 2018-09-04 00:12
Reading progress update: I've read 42 out of 281 pages.
Strangers on a Train - Patricia Highsmith

I keep thinking about that idea we had for a couple of murders. It could be done, I am sure. I cannot express to you my supremest confidence in the idea! Though I know subject does not interest you.

What’s what with your wife as that was very interesting?

 

Of all the moronic things! Who writes such a thing in a letter?

 

The letter pleased him somehow

 

Who would ever? Why? Barring this masochistic tendency to LIKE failure I mean.

 

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text 2018-08-31 14:56
Reading progress update: I've read 145 out of 521 pages.
North and South - Elizabeth Gaskell

'Yes; the fools will have a strike. Let them. It suits us well enough. But we gave them a chance. They think trade is flourishing as it was last year. We see the storm on the horizon and draw in our sails. But because we don't explain our reasons, they won't believe we're acting reasonably. We must give them line and letter for the way we choose to spend or save our money. Henderson tried a dodge with his men, out at Ashley, and failed. He rather wanted a strike; it would have suited his book well enough. So when the men came to ask for the five per cent. they are claiming, he told 'em he'd think about it, and give them his answer on the pay day; knowing all the while what his answer would be, of course, but thinking he'd strengthen their conceit of their own way. However, they were too deep for him, and heard something about the bad prospects of trade. So in they came on the Friday, and drew back their claim, and now he's obliged to go on working. But we Milton masters have to-day sent in our decision. We won't advance a penny. We tell them we may have to lower wages; but can't afford to raise. So here we stand, waiting for their next attack.'

'And what will that be?' asked Mr. Hale.

'I conjecture, a simultaneous strike. You will see Milton without smoke in a few days, I imagine, Miss Hale.'

'But why,' asked she, 'could you not explain what good reason you have for expecting a bad trade? I don't know whether I use the right words, but you will understand what I mean.'

'Do you give your servants reasons for your expenditure, or your economy in the use of your own money? We, the owners of capital, have a right to choose what we will do with it.'

 

I have SO MANY ISSUES with this discussion still being relevant.

 

Edit (finished chapter): Let me correct: I raged (as in, almost teary from frustration, wanted to be part of that debate raged). This is too close to reality today for comfort.

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review 2018-04-17 00:00
A Shout in the Ruins
A Shout in the Ruins - Kevin Powers This book is great. The writing is superb, painted a great picture. The concept of the intimacy of violence was a really interesting one.

I think what most impressed me was the empathy employed by Powers in the telling. This empathy along with the intimacy helped to illustrate the true consequences of violence and in civility. These consequences seemed to transcend the physical world in some instances, in other instances it obliterated their world. This often set off a chain reaction leading to tragedy.

Tragically, a number of the characters seemed to bear the burden of cruelty despite their better natures, all of them dealing with this in their own ways.

It was a bit difficult to keep track of the characters at times, but it is worth sticking with. Powers painted a terribly compelling picture of the casual cruelty of oppression and managed to do so beautifully.
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