A YA urban fantasy, in the sense of “contemporary person encounters magical happenings” rather than “badass woman with tattoo or male detective lives in a magical version of our world.”

Werlin is very hit-or-miss for me. Generally, I like her thrillers and problem novels better than her sf and fantasy. My favorite of hers, with a protagonist I love to pieces, is Locked Inside, in which a headstrong RPG-playing teenage millionaire and her online pal “The Elf” get trapped in a real-life locked-room mystery. I also like her dark thriller Killer's Cousin (two cousins: who’s the killer?) and her intense domestic violence novel The Rules of Survival.

Sensible yet quirky teenager Lucy lives with wonderful foster parents, as her mother Miranda went insane after giving birth to her and wanders the streets as a bag lady. But when Lucy’s prom date is possessed by an evil immortal Irish elf currently impersonating a social worker, rapes her after the prom and gets her pregnant, then commits suicide… why do I so often find myself writing sentences like that… Lucy discovers that all the women in her family are cursed to get pregnant as teenagers, bear daughters, and then go insane—unless they can complete a set of impossible tasks from a variant of the ballad “Scarborough Fair.”

The blend of fantasy and realism has been done very well in other books, but did not work in this one. The treatment of serious social issue topics like rape and mental illness seemed unrealistic and shallow because they’re caused by curses and evil elves. But it takes so long for Lucy to come to believe in the curse, she’s so lackadaisical about tackling the impossible tasks, and then the solutions are so easily figured out (sometimes by people other than her) that the book doesn’t work as fantasy either. It was nice that Lucy’s family and boyfriend were supportive as so often characters are in opposition solely to provide conflict rather than for actual character-driven reasons, but they were so supportive that the book lost narrative drive. Not a success.

View on Amazon: Impossible
A YA urban fantasy, in the sense of “contemporary person encounters magical happenings” rather than “badass woman with tattoo or male detective lives in a magical version of our world.”

Werlin is very hit-or-miss for me. Generally, I like her thrillers and problem novels better than her sf and fantasy. My favorite of hers, with a protagonist I love to pieces, is Locked Inside, in which a headstrong RPG-playing teenage millionaire and her online pal “The Elf” get trapped in a real-life locked-room mystery. I also like her dark thriller Killer's Cousin (two cousins: who’s the killer?) and her intense domestic violence novel The Rules of Survival.

Sensible yet quirky teenager Lucy lives with wonderful foster parents, as her mother Miranda went insane after giving birth to her and wanders the streets as a bag lady. But when Lucy’s prom date is possessed by an evil immortal Irish elf currently impersonating a social worker, rapes her after the prom and gets her pregnant, then commits suicide… why do I so often find myself writing sentences like that… Lucy discovers that all the women in her family are cursed to get pregnant as teenagers, bear daughters, and then go insane—unless they can complete a set of impossible tasks from a variant of the ballad “Scarborough Fair.”

The blend of fantasy and realism has been done very well in other books, but did not work in this one. The treatment of serious social issue topics like rape and mental illness seemed unrealistic and shallow because they’re caused by curses and evil elves. But it takes so long for Lucy to come to believe in the curse, she’s so lackadaisical about tackling the impossible tasks, and then the solutions are so easily figured out (sometimes by people other than her) that the book doesn’t work as fantasy either. It was nice that Lucy’s family and boyfriend were supportive as so often characters are in opposition solely to provide conflict rather than for actual character-driven reasons, but they were so supportive that the book lost narrative drive. Not a success.

View on Amazon: Impossible
Mely jumped off the bridge, so I will too. Since I despair of ever having time to write up everything individually, I have given brief reviews to the whole month below.

If anything's missing an author, it is because I am too lazy to look them up. If there's no comment, I already reviewed it here.

Three books got the comment wow, terrible! Guess it was a bad month for fiction. )
Mely jumped off the bridge, so I will too. Since I despair of ever having time to write up everything individually, I have given brief reviews to the whole month below.

If anything's missing an author, it is because I am too lazy to look them up. If there's no comment, I already reviewed it here.

Three books got the comment wow, terrible! Guess it was a bad month for fiction. )
rachelmanija: (Default)
( May. 10th, 2005 06:30 pm)
I am now in Walnut Creek hotel room with... drum roll...

Naruto # 6

Double Helix

Dogsbody

Angel Sanctuary # 1

A Great and Terrible Beauty

Tipping the Velvet

Stalking the Divine


I was afraid I might not have enough to read, so I overstocked. I knew that would happen.

My SuperShuttle to the airport was late. The flight was uneventful. The driver for the shuttle to the hotel had some of the stinkiest BO I've ever smelled. Every time he moved a wave of smell would attack me like a ninja chakra: "Body Odor of the Bear!"

Yes, I read Naruto on the plane. Also Double Helix.

Naruto # 6, with the kid ninja teams doing their practical final in a forest, was fun but not as funny as # 5, the written final. My favorite joke, a Spinal Tap reference, was probably an inspired piece of translation. The characters are really growing on me, though, and I was annoyed to see that # 7 won't be out for another two months. Why aren't they releasing one per month? I would buy one per month! Heck, I'd buy one per week. Especially since Gaara, who had intrigued me last time, is not in this one. I want to know what he and his team are doing.

Order the series from Amazon: Naruto, Volume 1

Double Helix, by Nancy Werlin. YA suspence/spoiler. 6' 7" and brilliant-at-everything Eli has just graduated from high school, but didn't apply to college. After a huge fight with his father over that, he writes a drunken email to Dr. Wyatt, a famous scientist and former acquaintance of his parents, begging for a job at the lab. To Eli's amazement, Wyatt hires him and takes Eli under his wing. Eli's father hits the roof and demands that he have nothing to do with Dr. Wyatt and his genetics lab, but won't tell him why. Meanwhile, Eli's relationship with his girlfriend is foundering because Eli won't tell her his deep dark secret-- that his mother is dying of Huntington's Disease and Eli refuses to be tested to see if he's inherited the gene or not. But who cares about that when you're being wined and dined by the brilliant Dr. Wyatt, who introduces you to a gorgeous, sexy, and seemingly perfect teenage girl acquaintance of his, and lectures you over dinner with comments like, "We can't sit back and leave science policy in the hands of politicians and pundits or alarmist writers of science fiction. Face it, most people are unbelievable idiots."

You can probably see the problem with the book right there: the basic set-up, although presented as a mystery, is really, really obvious. Dr. Wyatt might as well wear a "Hello, I'm evil" nametag. Though Werlin's style is as page-turning as ever and I admire her willingness to let her protagonist be a real jerk at times, this one lacked the compelling set-up and oddball characters of Locked Inside or the intensity and creepy moral ambiguity of The Killer's Cousin. Though Werlin does come up with one genuinely shocking plot twist toward the end, it loses its potentially devastating impact because the supporting character it involves hasn't been developed enough. And it's not until the last few pages that Werlin seems to remember that genetic research is not the sole property of eeeeevil megalomaniac scientists. The situation at the end of the book, in fact, is in many ways more interesting and angstful and morally complex that the one at the beginning. I don't think she's planning a sequel, though.
rachelmanija: (Default)
( May. 10th, 2005 06:30 pm)
I am now in Walnut Creek hotel room with... drum roll...

Naruto # 6

Double Helix

Dogsbody

Angel Sanctuary # 1

A Great and Terrible Beauty

Tipping the Velvet

Stalking the Divine


I was afraid I might not have enough to read, so I overstocked. I knew that would happen.

My SuperShuttle to the airport was late. The flight was uneventful. The driver for the shuttle to the hotel had some of the stinkiest BO I've ever smelled. Every time he moved a wave of smell would attack me like a ninja chakra: "Body Odor of the Bear!"

Yes, I read Naruto on the plane. Also Double Helix.

Naruto # 6, with the kid ninja teams doing their practical final in a forest, was fun but not as funny as # 5, the written final. My favorite joke, a Spinal Tap reference, was probably an inspired piece of translation. The characters are really growing on me, though, and I was annoyed to see that # 7 won't be out for another two months. Why aren't they releasing one per month? I would buy one per month! Heck, I'd buy one per week. Especially since Gaara, who had intrigued me last time, is not in this one. I want to know what he and his team are doing.

Order the series from Amazon: Naruto, Volume 1

Double Helix, by Nancy Werlin. YA suspence/spoiler. 6' 7" and brilliant-at-everything Eli has just graduated from high school, but didn't apply to college. After a huge fight with his father over that, he writes a drunken email to Dr. Wyatt, a famous scientist and former acquaintance of his parents, begging for a job at the lab. To Eli's amazement, Wyatt hires him and takes Eli under his wing. Eli's father hits the roof and demands that he have nothing to do with Dr. Wyatt and his genetics lab, but won't tell him why. Meanwhile, Eli's relationship with his girlfriend is foundering because Eli won't tell her his deep dark secret-- that his mother is dying of Huntington's Disease and Eli refuses to be tested to see if he's inherited the gene or not. But who cares about that when you're being wined and dined by the brilliant Dr. Wyatt, who introduces you to a gorgeous, sexy, and seemingly perfect teenage girl acquaintance of his, and lectures you over dinner with comments like, "We can't sit back and leave science policy in the hands of politicians and pundits or alarmist writers of science fiction. Face it, most people are unbelievable idiots."

You can probably see the problem with the book right there: the basic set-up, although presented as a mystery, is really, really obvious. Dr. Wyatt might as well wear a "Hello, I'm evil" nametag. Though Werlin's style is as page-turning as ever and I admire her willingness to let her protagonist be a real jerk at times, this one lacked the compelling set-up and oddball characters of Locked Inside or the intensity and creepy moral ambiguity of The Killer's Cousin. Though Werlin does come up with one genuinely shocking plot twist toward the end, it loses its potentially devastating impact because the supporting character it involves hasn't been developed enough. And it's not until the last few pages that Werlin seems to remember that genetic research is not the sole property of eeeeevil megalomaniac scientists. The situation at the end of the book, in fact, is in many ways more interesting and angstful and morally complex that the one at the beginning. I don't think she's planning a sequel, though.
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