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07 June 2010 @ 09:42 pm
The Demon's Covenant, Sarah Rees Brennan

I actually liked this second installment far better than the first! I wasn't expecting to because, you know, second book in a trilogy and all that. (Actually, I've never read a bad second book in a trilogy, but I've heard plenty about the pitfalls.) I wasn't looking forward to having Mae's POV either, but her narrative voice reads to me very much like Nick's anyway.

It was quite hard, I thought, to get a good mental image of Mae. Yes, she has pink hair and wears combat boots to a nightclub (what?), so I wanted to put her as a toughie biker-girl. But then she also wore a corset - with jeans and laced shoes (WHAT?) - to a different nightclub. And then there are the slogan t-shirts, which seriously began to irk me. The only way see that she can possibly even possess them is if she has them printed specially. What kind of a look is it to turn yourself into a walking billboard? I felt a bit more effort could have gone into her clothes, even if it was just that she didn't care what she wore (which doesn't fit with the kind of effort it takes to dye and maintain pink hair).

I didn't like the cover. This was a book celebrating Exeter and I'm pretty sure that skyline? Was London. Also, Nick and Helen fought with swords, they weren't ninjas with simian arms. ALSO, Mae also dyes her eyebrows pink? Yeah, this is not the sort of girl who throws herself away on combat boots. The only time I've been able to not wear heels to a nightclub was in Turkey, and that was far too hot for combat boots. Sorry, I'm kind of stuck on the combat boots. They are the one clue given to the sort of character Mae is; I wish there were more.

I found Seb interesting, but I didn't for one minute buy the bad-boy set-up, and I doubt whether anyone else would have either. Saw his crush on Jamie coming a mile off; if the series doesn't end in Seb/Jamie, Alan/Sin and Mae/Nick (only they probably won't stay up together, it'll be very tragic and sixteen), I'll eat my hat. Any hat.

The storylines I would have liked to see: Seb and Jamie in closer view, and what happened in Durham. If I may be allowed to harken back to ye olde fanfic, I thought Your Every Wish was the creepiest, horriblest, best thing she ever wrote. I would have loved to read Nick do that first-hand, to read Alan's reaction. Nick never comes across as terribly dangerous or demonic. Perhaps there isn't enough of a contrast between him and the other demons - they are all very articulate for a race that isn't supposed to have developed language. Nick is just a bit too quick with the bon mots in the midst of battle and so on. If he were sullen and not witty, Mae's attraction to him would actually be more believable. As it is, he actually just comes across as the ideal brooding hero - Rochester with a sword.

I did enjoy some of the wit in the book, but a lot of times it felt out of place. They all had it, too; Mae AND Jamie AND Alan AND Nick. If anyone should be crossed off that list it should be Nick.

This is one of the times it fit:

"Everything is all right," Celeste cooed. "[...] It's made you promises, hasn't it? [...] It's shown you marvels."
Jamie blinked. "If you're talking about Nick, all he's shown me is this car he's fixing up. And honestly, I wasn't that interested."
"You said you were interested," Nick commented, his voice dry.
"Well, I was being polite."

I adored Annabel; she was probably the best part of this book. Of course I realised she had to die as soon as I realised there had to be a Battle (for Tweedledum said Tweedledee had broke his fine new rattle). She was the most expendable character as well as being an emotional pivot for two of the others. Shame, though. I hope their dad makes an appearance in the third book and is all cowardly and awesome.

"Didn't you ever wonder if - if there was something different about me?"
"Didn't we already have this talk when you were thirteen?" Annabel asked, sounding a little helpless. "I told you not to worry about it. Sometimes I do wish you would use less hair product."

"I don't trust men everybody likes," Annabel said in a dark voice. "Being nice isn't the same as being good."

The battle itself didn't make a whole lot of sense to me; perhaps I read it too fast. The magicians-turned-wolves were a tad cliche. If I had the power of shapeshifting when in danger, d'you know what I'd turn into? A bloody TANK. You could roll over people and no one could hurt you. Genius. I didn't understand why Nick couldn't re-heal Alan's leg, or bring Annabel back to life for that matter. I gather Jamie called the Aventurine Circle in? I'm all muddled.

Speaking of Circles brings me to the magic. As far as I can tell, it's all just light shows. I still haven't been shown what's so attractive about it, or what it does that electricity doesn't do better. The Goblin Market hasn't advanced in description beyond yet more lights and dudes selling knives. It's convenient that Mae enjoyed it, because there's not much else for her to do now (I feel the need to say STAY IN SCHOOL, here), but I still don't see why. Then the magicians - if you need to kill someone to use magic, how is Jamie using it? Is there a reserve stock in those born able to use it and they just add to it with death? It seems extremely messy and time-consuming.

She remembered seeing a wood hung with glittering lights, magic being sold like toys at stalls, hearing drums and chants

So where do the Market people get this magic? Is it a different magic from the magician's magic? If people like Daniel and Sin kill magicians to stop them using their magic, how are they any different from the magicians?

I loved Daniel's diary. It was probably the strongest writing in the book.

Alan with a kid was about as adorable as a basket of kittens wearing tiny kitten bonnets

She wondered how many small, unnoticed kindnesses Alan went around doing for strangers, because he was naturally kind or because he wanted to be, because he felt he had to pay the world back for keeping a demon in it and knew he could never pay enough.

I like this version of Alan, who isn't nice or kind but has a warped world-view thanks to having a demon for a brother. My biggest problem with him is that he's too well-adjusted; I'd like to see him be a bit psycho just to show who he really is.

"I'm not scared," Mae said. "I want lots of things, but I want to get them for myself."

This is the crux of why I find Mae difficult; she's a great icon for modern femininity, and I understand what Brennan was trying to do in letting her make out with three different boys in the course of a few weeks. Yet there's a difference between taking what you want in a go-getting feminist way and just being unmannerly, and making out with brothers is a bit - discourteous. I'd like her better if she consciously decided to play with their feelings, but she just seems to kiss whoever happens to be in her way at the time. It's the same as her hair versus her clothes. Maybe she's not quite finished as a person, I'm not sure. Also, we possibly needed to hear more about her awesome skills at chess and by extension strategy before she went out for Goblin Market MP.

It sounds like I'm doing nothing but giving out here, but that's because this book made me think a lot. It wasn't easy to dismiss, and therefore neither were my frustrations with it. I'm hoping a lot of questions get answered in the next book, especially about the magic. And I really want a hurt-comfort storyline with a broken Seb and a ministering-angel Jamie. Maybe Mae's poor neglected schoolfriends could show up too and kick some ass. I'm sure Tim is wondering where his BFF has got to. I can just imagine a high-octane coming out scene in the middle of another battle ... Tim ducks a knife and yells, "So this is why you made me stalk him after school?!" It's getting a heart, anyway.

Previously, on Book Glomp 2010:
The Lady with the Dog and Other Stories, Anton Chekhov | I'll take you there, Joyce Carol Oates | Middlesex, Jeffrey Eugenides ♥ | The School for Husbands, Moliere | On Green Dolphin Street, Sebastian Faulks | The Famished Road, Ben Okri | Lord of the Flies, William Golding | Moby Dick, Herman Melville | A Farewell to Arms, Ernest Hemingway | Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell ♥ | The Sea, the Sea, Irish Murdoch ♥ ♥ | Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad | Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy | The Graveyard Book, Neil Gaiman | The Sea, John Banville | paddy clarke ha ha ha, Roddy Doyle | The Thorn Birds, Colleen McCullough ♥ | The Godfather, Mario Puzo ♥ | The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ, Philip Pullman | Possession, A.S. Byatt ♥ ♥ ♥ | Angela Carter's Book of Fairy Tales | The Mysteries of Pittsburg, Michael Chabon | Dragon Haven, Robin Hobb, The Forest of Hands and Teeth, Carrie Ryan, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, Michael Chabon ♥, Juliet, Naked, Nick Hornby, Life of Pi, Yann Martel | Rebecca, Daphne du Maurier
Current Music: jump and fall // taylor swift
wildestranger on June 7th, 2010 09:00 pm (UTC)
I always wear combat boots to nightclubs. Usually with tiny floaty dresses. There's something quite tantalising about the combination, I find, and it's easier to stomp on people's feet. Also, more comfy. ;)
every Starbucks should have a polar bear: Art: Bollywoodscoradh on June 7th, 2010 09:31 pm (UTC)
lol, thank you for reminding me what a small place Ireland is. :D I'm not saying that wouldn't be acceptable daywear here, but you'd never get into a club dressed like that.

I am very firmly of the belief that clothing is an extremely important part of character and personality, IRL as well as in fiction. In case I'm coming off totally superficial or something (SHOCKER).
JRevalangui on June 7th, 2010 09:58 pm (UTC)
Nick is just a bit too quick with the bon mots in the midst of battle and so on.

I did enjoy some of the wit in the book, but a lot of times it felt out of place. They all had it, too; Mae AND Jamie AND Alan AND Nick. If anyone should be crossed off that list it should be Nick.
--> This was also my main problem, I think in the last book she focused on telling from Nick's POV and kept him from being *too* witty when he has, you know, trouble with language but here with Mae, who is good with language she just let go of everybody and all of them became extremely witty. Amusing but unrealistic. I think even Seb had a good line or too and he hardly spoke.

I think the Aventurine Circle was keeping an eye on them all. I'm guessing we'll find out about the limitations on Nick's powers later on but the magicians did say that he couldn't heal Merris because it required too much control (and Nick says he doesn't have enough as well), healing Alan's leg seems to be possible for him *before* the binding but maybe it isn't so after, plus Adam might be untouchable by another, being marked by the Aventurine Circle as he is. I'm guessing the post-binding limitations apply to Annabel's death, although at not point it was implied demon's could revive the death as oppose to zombifying them.

Tim ducks a knife and yells, "So this is why you made me stalk him after school?!"

I liked the tshirts, btw, if I had the resources I would totally get them printed (i do agree this is only way she could have accumulated that many), I like the idea of expressing MY ideas with my clothes and she obviously agrees. It would only be an add if there were products in them, imo, it's more like a vow of allegiance to all these people she admires/ideas she supports. And it is a bit over the top sometimes because it seems that the shirts are used to express ALL her thoughts and feelings and I seriously think SRB knows way subtler ways of doing that. But still, awesome shirts.

I agree with what Mae says most of the time but not so much with what she does, I also found the making out with brothers (and brothers as close as Alan and Nick, too) not to be a very-good-person-like move. If it had been just the rain scene in the roof I could maybe let it go but she spends the book semi-dating Alan and actively trying to make out with Nick.

I was thinking of "The Road Less Traveled" today and your ideas for future Jamie/Seb storylines have only made me want to re-read even more. I'm not so sure that will work out all that well either, considering this conversation I think Seb might really not be Jamie's type (and wouldn't that be novel? a gay romance that doens't work because not all gay people are into each other instead of because one of them is straight?). Jamie would need a new love interest, 'course:

"Lots of people would like to have someone tall, dark, and handsome around to love them sullenly and passionately," Mae said, "I read it in a book."
Jamie looked ill.
"Not me. I would like someone to express their feelings by being very, very nice to me all the time. And making me laugh. And then I would make them laugh too. And - and nobody would kill anybody."
SpinFrogspinfrog on June 8th, 2010 06:32 am (UTC)
Heh, I sort of didn't pay that much attention to the clothing (pink eyebrows? really?) but I assumed Mae was some kind of a punky goth? Combat boots + corsets seems like that sort of thing, in my (limited) experience?

I did find the battle (and all other action-y scenes) rather fast and a bit sketchy? Like maybe some details were missing or I blinked and missed them?

I am with you on the need for more explanation for the magic of The Market.. My understanding is that magicians are like batteries? They originally come with a very very small charge, and get charged up by demons - providing bodies to possess (and eventually kill) in exchange... I assumed that The Market ppl relied more on things like herbs, crystals, gathering a bit of energy through various chants and dances and such...

I think Mae mading out with Nick was meant to demonstrate that she just likes him that much? Like, it surprised her, she didn't imagine she was gonna do it and so didn't stop in time?

My hopes are that book 3 is Jamie's book, and we get to see him make out with loads of dudes :P

glorafinglorafin on June 19th, 2010 12:40 pm (UTC)
Just finished it. Thoroughly enjoyed it even though I agree with much of what you wrote, especially the need for more explanation about how magic works. It was already my main problem with the first book and things still aren't any clearer after this one.

And the ending did look a bit rushed, and unclear. I'm still unsure about what the deal Alan made with Liannan was. What are those limitations she put on Nick's power? How could she share a body with Merris? Is the Merris of the final scenes still Merris or is she Liannan? And why Gerald whould accept in his circle a magician wearing Nick aka his main enemy's mark?

I wish SRB would make a Q&A session, so I could ask her all these questions. :)

(and your analogy with Your Every Wish is spot on.)