Saturday, February 11, 2017

spoiler: mosly not super impressed.

Y negative by Kelly Haworth.  The main problem with this title is that there isn't enough information.  The book's social structure is fairly well-explained and incorporated, but it doesn't make any sense; it isn't necessarily a logical extrapolation from our current society.  Although certainly possible, the deciding factor, the cataclysmic event, whatever happened between now and the book's now isn't shared, so the underlying reason for why the world is the way it is is missing.  That's a pretty major part of world-building.

Quite a few parts where the characters discussed or reacted to social issues were not quite preachy but certainly heavy-handed-- the literary equivalent of being slapped across the face instead of tapped on the shoulder.  Give your readers some credit.

The existing social structure as described reminded me of an old sci-fi series, but I needed help to figure out the series title.  Fortunately, a coworker took my ramblng rememberings and turned up the Suzy McKee Charnas series, The Holdfast Chronicles.  Two of the reviews previously appeared in transcribed-from-the-print posts, but I'll include them here for convenience.

The Holdfast Chronicles by Suzy McKee Charnas:

Walk to the end of the world:  Although this book is good in that it makes the reader think, many of the images it presents are fairly disturbing.  It presents a post-apocolyptic dystopia in which socity has gone beyond mere regression.  Rather [militantly] feminist in both its view of man and possibly in its representation of women.  Even so, it is not all that well-written: the sentences are of a uniform length and fail to add flavor to the reading.

Motherlines: A sequel, bleh.  Includes none of the thought-provoking scenes of the first book, but conitnues the simple sentences.  Primarily plot-driven.

The furies:  Similar to the fourth book, this one picks up with a character it abandoned in the first book, 15 years ago.  I didn't like how that was handled wither.

The story is rather gory in places, and rather graphic a good deal as well.  For those reasons, partially, I didn't enjoy it, and partly because it was entirely plot driven.  The first and maybe the second books made statements.  This was more a reiteration.  I only read it because it's a compulsion.  I won't be reading it again.
(I've forgotten not only this book, but this entire series.)

The conqueror's child:  Plot driven and graphic like the others [in the series], it has the potential to raise social questions, but, due to its quick-read-ableness, those questions don't have a real chance to be grasped by the reader, and they certainly aren't dwelt on by the author.  It's not worth the time.

Sorcery and Cecelia: Or, the enchanted chocolate pot by Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer.  This has been on my list for so very, very long.  I think I've seen it on various lists through the years, as I had this nearly guilty feeling that I'd never gotten around to it plus extremely high expectations.  A la this post's title, those expectations were not met.

Again, the lack of focus in this book comes down largely to world-building.  The notes at the back that explain how the book was initailly structured to much to explain why the book is the way it is, but that doesn't really excuse it.  The main characters jumpto conclusions or discuss matters in a way that would only make sense if they were hving outside discussions not shared with the reader-- which is not at all the structure of the book.  The book may have started as a writiing exercise, but the authors certainly had time to go back and add the relevant details in places that made sense.

I decided slightly over half-way through that I wanted to put it down and not finish, but then decided I would, because it was a YA book and easy read, even if not particularly brilliant, and it would allow me to check off one of my 2017 to-do boxes, and one I had thought I would have difficulty with.  So I finished, but I can't recommend it.

The book of Phoenix by Nnedi Okorafor.  This is pretty all over the place.  Many sections are very clear and well-written and logically follow each other, but smaller parts or concepts sprinkled throughout aren't as great.  But the whole book is so big and almost overwhelmingly different than most post-apocalyptic fiction that an editor would be hard-pressed to help clean sections up without them becoming pale.

Madame Presidentess by Nicole Evelina.  Did not finish, despite my Kinde informing me that I'm 54% complete.

I downloaded this ages ago from NetGalley but didn't remember enough of the desciption so was lost.  The spiritualism is portrayed iin such detail that I thought this was a historical-fantasy, sort of alternate history, a la Naomi Novik or steampunk.  But nearly half-way through, I couldn't figure out where we were going-- there had to be more to the alternate history story, and there's no way it would be buried in the last quarter of the book-- what sense does that make?  So then I reread the description and got the straight historical fiction scoop.  But I couldn't wrap what I had already read into the new story structure.  Would not purchase for my library.

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