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review 2016-10-24 00:25
Drama, drama, drama
Faithful: A Novel - Alice Hoffman

Arc Provided by Simon & Schuster through Netgalley

 

Release Date: November 1rt

 

Here's the thing, I am starting to realize that Alice Hoffman's writing is like a drug to me: I am addicted to it ( why? Idk. Faulty wiring in the grey cells... depression. Who knows?), but it really messes with me. And not in a good way. Because through imagery and beautiful phrasing the author embellishes ugly scenarios. The worst is that lately, her books seem to be dominated by weak people and by their socially inapt families, and the fact that through some convoluted fairy tale scenarios, most people overcome their issues.

Unless you're killed: Alice Hoffman's characters have a high mortality rate. Mostly due to cancer,(strangely, in some parts of the world, cancer is already seen as a chronic disease, but not in A.H's novels), but there's also drugs, and finicky parrots that suddenly decide to fly (yeah, I still haven't got over that one) leading their owners to death.

 

The writing as always is great... although there was some repetitions that could have been avoided. Like Ben's last name. Over and over... and over.

 

But that is not the main reason why this book left me mad as a wet cat.

These are:

1) Use of trigger warning situations only for the shock value of the thing

A friend who is a comma, is bad enough. Survivor's guilt, is bad enough.

Attempting suicide is already too much. Did the author really had to had a rape scene in a psychiatric ward?

(spoiler show)

So that Shelby got to say "I was fucked" over and over. And for me it wasn't used as a form of dissociation. If "that" was the idea, then the whole thing was poorly done.

 

The whole thing becomes even more problematic, after she tells her mother what happened, and the mother doesn't do anything about it. That's right, for about two years Shelly does whatever she wants, falling into a deep depression.

And like I said the rape is never properly addressed, so yeah for me, that was really badly done.

 

2) At the beginning of this review I use the term "weak people". Let me explain: I am not trying to diminish the character's pain. Thing is, bad things happen in life. People die. Family die and we never get over it. That doesn't mean all of us are going to do drugs. That doesn't mean that we're going to enter a relationship like some sort of parasite. Especially if that person likes you. Most of the times we just go on with our lives.

 

3) Due to the synopsis, I thought this would be more friendship oriented than it ended being. Shelly and Helene are supposed to be best friends, but at beginning, the characterization that the author makes of the two of them felt so heavy handed, "good girl/party girl; good student/couldn't care less about it; reserved/kind of sluty (hopefully this word will be removed from the final story), that I was left completely baffled about what I was reading.

 

4) The use of a physical image associated with cancer to create pity

After the accident, Shelby shaves her head. She even says that people look at her with pity because they think she has cancer. Maybe if the author hadn't said something of the type, I couldn't care less? But she did, and from that moment on, my hatred for Shelby started growing. She wanted to blend in the background? In that case, average appearance normally does the trick.

 

5) Alice Hoffman and romance normally don't walk hand in hand.

Obsession, insta attraction and following disappointment, yes. Thing is I had imagined many roads for Shelby and Ben. For a moment I thought, "okay, the author creates the most wonderful Ben's". Read "Practical Magic".

I was happy, or at least I was hoping for a possibility of happiness. And then the author had to choose a "new adult" approach to ruin things.

 

6) The new adult romance vibe

You know why I mostly can't stand new adult? It is because of the way abusive/toxic relationships are dealt.

Stalkerish vibes?

Away you go.

A guy deciding what is best for you?

Yeah, no.

Dark, brooding, been in prison vibe?

Hell no, Give me a Ben. Even if it started out messy.

 

7) The cancer card

That's right! Who cares if the story line was already fucked up as it was? The story wouldn't be complete without someone dying from cancer... in a few pages.

 

8) Another death, because the death tally in this book still wasn't long enough.

YES I KNOW DOGS DIE! ESPECIALLY THOSE WHO ARE FOURTEEN YEARS OLD! MY DOG IS FOURTEEN AND A HALF AND HE IS DYING! LEAVE THE Fictitious

ANIMALS ALONE!

(spoiler show)

Really, stop with the soap opera!

 

9) No magical realism. There was this supposed "angel" (stupid me was thinking something along the lines of "Turtle Moon") who ended up being a Mr. Know it all, stalkerish type.

Just No.

Truth is, had this been written by any other author ( that not one of my favourites) I probably wouldn't have even finished it. As it is, I feel as if I've read some weird as fuck soap opera. And I hate soap operas.

Guess it is time for me and Alice Hoffman's writing to part ways.

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url 2016-07-09 15:55
Life Is "Triggering." The Best Literature Should Be, Too.

"A few Columbia students want warnings on Ovid. What's next? Here's what Literature Fascism would look like."

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review 2016-02-26 02:15
The Maiden Thief
The Maiden Thief: A Tor.Com Original - Melissa Marr

I went into this story without actually having read a synopsis: I just fell for the title and the cover, despite this being by Melissa Marr... I may have about three books of her "Wicked Lovely" series. I would have to check. That's how much I liked those...

 

So... "Maiden Thief"?

Great name for the title. Great haunting spooky minimalistic design.

I actually liked the beginning, and I was really curious about what was going to happen.

Unfortunately, my tolerance for this story wasn't destined to last beyond this line:

 

"We are not petty with each other, not short of temper or ill of manner,(..)Being with my sisters fills me with peace."

 

Great! That's what I was thinking by then! The girls, the sisters like one another and they respect each other. What more can a reader ask?

 

Just that this "sentiment" wouldn't follow:

 

"My sister smothers her gasp by slapping her hand to her mouth. It’s such a girlish gesture that I wonder how we’re related."

 

I just can't deal with this crap. These little offensive remarks that are supposed to separate our illustrious heroine from the rest of all "us women", because she is different.

When girlish and feminine are used as offensive remarks, my interest in a story pretty much fades.

Then it doesn't help that there isn't an actually developed story. For the type of retelling that this hopes to be

Blue Beard

(spoiler show)

what we are told is just too little. 

girls lying around in glass coffins alive... because of tubes? What is this? How? Why?

(spoiler show)

Give me a time period and stick to it. Parts of it feel Medieval, and then there's Doc Frankenstein?

Then there's "casual" raping, but then the guy gives her an orgasm, so our smart heroine decides to go with him. Because, she's that smart...and different from the others -_-

(spoiler show)

The last line is actually good, but the whole thing was just a mess.

And I am used to messy retellings.

 

 

 

 

 

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url 2015-11-10 20:14
Reading should not carry a health warning by Frank Furedi

"Contagion, poison and trigger. The idea that books are dangerous has a long history, and holds a kernel of truth."

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review 2015-11-02 00:00
Taming Ryder
Taming Ryder - Nicola Haken

Man, where to begin with this one?


One important thing first: Heed the trigger warning, folks! Of course, I completely overlooked it before I began reading. I wouldn't go as far as saying that it was a mistake, because I got through the scenes intact and still liked the book. But I do think that the description and picturing of self-harm in all its' complexities and backrounds is done very realisticly. They are intense and real. This was not done by an author who had no idea what she was talking about and it showed in a way that might not be as "harmless" to other readers as it was to me. So, again, please heed the warnings.

What else? Yes, Ryder! Ryder breaks your heart - probably more than once. He is so many contradictory things at the same time, it made my head spin and still allowed me to understand him completely. He was so strong, yet felt so weak at times, it was almost impossible for him to bear. He seems so confident, but really has no feelings of self-worth, sometimes not even self-preservation. Hence, the abuse of alcohol and other substances.

And then we have Mason. My problem probably was, that as connected as I felt to Ryder, I didn't quite get the same grasp on Mason. At least not in the beginning, all the more though during the end.

I enjoyed the flow of the story very much. Their battles, their struggles, their communication and their communication problems drew me in and held me captive. And let's be honest, the sexual side of this relationship was pretty damn hot. And that's something I don't say too often in the "porn star" trope, mainly because I don't like "my" sex too porny, which annoyed to me quite often when reading "porn star" books. But it was well done here, so no complaints on that front. Parts of the dialogue and descriptions of feelings might have been a little bit too over the top if you ask me, but not overly so.

I also liked the development around the little "mystery/crime" part, even though it problably wasn't the most believable plot line. But that's when I actually connected fully to Mason.

About Ryder's mother thoough (his father is not worth even that much): Uhm, no. I didn't get her, I didn't believe her and I certainly couldn't forgive her. At all. Her regret didn't faze or touch me. Too little, too late.

All in all a solid read for me, at times a little too much, at times unebelievably intense, but still really good.

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