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31 December 2010 @ 11:49 pm
Squeaking in just before midnight on the last day of 2010: #71, 72 and 73!  
Predator's Gold, Infernal Devices, A Darkling Plain, Philip Reeve

I confess, I'm confused about these books. One of them, A Darkling Plain, boasts two stickers. "Winner of the Guardian Children's Fiction Prize" says one of them, and "Not suitable for younger readers" says the other. The writing in some places is catered exclusively to the (sorry) less subtle readership of the under-tens, with people 'teasing' and 'admitting' their dialogue like the book is a vocabulary lesson, and lots of side-notes in parentheses, which both lessons the impact and makes it more accessible. Alongside this you have people coming to gory ends every two chapters. It's extremely frustrating to read about characters like Hester Shaw or General Naga written this way. It's like The Lord of the Rings as retold by Stephanie Meyer, based solely on third-hand oral testimony. You get glimpses, here and there, of what amazing, complicated, human people they are, but their emotions and motivations are displayed in the language of Xbox-mad preteens.

I'm also not sure anymore what audience books like these are aimed at. They belonged to my brother initially; it took him about a year to read each (and I'm not sure he even made it to the end of the quarilogy). Maybe, as we have accepted that m/m slash is the province almost (almost!) solely of grown-up women, so can we accept that YA lit is theirs also, and stop imagining it's being read by teenagers or boys?

There was an interesting discussion about dystopias in this post on cleolinda's journal. A commenter remarked that dystopias are nearly always dissected and rebuilt in a way settings like the Renaissance are not. Well, I'm pretty sure the Earth of these books is a dystopia, but no one seems terribly bothered about it, or interested in changing it. The war is between cities that move and cities that don't, not, as most would choose, between cities that have slaves and cities that don't. And I find that I am ultimately disappointed by that; more than disappointed - chilled.

I couldn't warm to any of the characters (Tom the wimp, Wren the spoiled child, Theo of the extremely contradictory (and not in an authorial-intent way) motives, Hester who went backwards from awkward outsider gaining acceptance to stone-cold killer instead of forwards, as is the general rule...) More than that, the fact that none of them challenged the status quo made me back away slowly.

There are some funny moments and good descriptions, but it was all very cobbled-together and hasty. All the books, but especially the last, could have done with a good trimming. Not to mention someone to educate Reeve about what genre he's actually writing in.

From Predator's Gold:

Their clothes were a mismatched assortment of two big and too small: bits of uniforms, ladies' shawls and bonnets, diving suits and aviators' helmets, tea cosies and colanders pressed into service as hats. They looked as if they'd been showered with debris by an exploding jumble sale.

From Infernal Devices:

"More of a planner. He had brains, Gargle did."
"We know," said Hester. "We saw them."

Christians worshipped a god nailed to a cross, and what on earth was the use of a god who went around letting himself get nailed to things?

The random insertion of Christianity bothered me too. The quarilogy is set thousands if not millions of years into the future, where little of the 20th century survives let alone the ones before. I would hope that a million years by now people would know better about religion.

From A Darkling Plain:

"It's her brain that's the valuable part!"
"You mean as a paperweight or somefin?"

"Dun Resurrectin'." Just.

the nightmares of the old city: the ghost of Boudicca and Spring-Heeled Jack; the awful, salvage-stealing Wombles.

I admit, though, that I did cry a bit over Shrike's fate, and how long he would have to wait to get his memories back. But in all, characters nearly dying but coming back (looking at YOU, Pennyroyal) got old fast, particularly when they weren't that enticing in the first place.

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 | At Swim, Two Boys, Jamie O'Neill ♥ | The Children's Book, A.S. Byatt | Un Lun Dun, China Mieville | Wolf Hall, Hilary Mantel &hearts | This Book Will Save Your Life, A.M. Homes | Cold Comfort Farm, Stella Gibbons ♥ ♥ | Whose Body?, Dorothy L. Sayers | Crime and Punishment, Feodor Dostoevsky, The Invention of Love, Tom Stoppard ♥ ♥ ♥, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, Tom Stoppard, Love's Shadow, Ada Leverson, The Cherry Orchard, Anton Chekhov, The Wind in the Willows, Kenneth Grahame, Peter Pan, J.M. Barrie ♥ | The House of Mirth, Edith Wharton ♥ | I Shall Wear Midnight, Terry Pratchett, Flipped, Wendelin Van Draanen, The Return Journey, Maeve Binchy, Minding Frankie, Maeve Binchy, Sorcery and Cecelia or The Enchanted Chocolate Pot, Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer | Pompeii, Robert Harris, Amanda's Wedding, Jenny Colgan | The Keys to the Golden Firebird, Maureen Johnson; This Charming Man, Marian Keyes; Tales of Enchantment, Patricia C. Wrede; One Day, David Nicholls; Huge, Sasha Paley; Miles Errant, Lois McMaster Bujold; The Eyre Affair, Jasper Fforde; Suite Scarlett, Maureen Johnson; The Thief, Megan Whalen Turner; Gentlemen of the Road, Michael Chabon | Mortal Engines, Philip Reeve; The Undomestic Goddess, Sophie Kinsella; Miles in Love, Lois McMaster Bujold; The Hunger Games trilogy, Suzanne Collins
Current Music: friday, I'm in love // the cure
Riakessie on December 31st, 2010 11:51 pm (UTC)
Maybe, as we have accepted that m/m slash is the province almost (almost!) solely of grown-up women, so can we accept that YA lit is theirs also, and stop imagining it's being read by teenagers or boys?

My customers disagree with you there, sorry. :)
every Starbucks should have a polar bearscoradh on January 1st, 2011 12:01 am (UTC)
Don't tell me *gasp* BOYS actually buy BOOKS! *faints dead away*