“Everyone struggles against despair, but it always wins in the end. It has to. It’s the thing that lets us say goodbye.” As it did to others, the book’s title had me thinking of an idyllic English shire. I was surprised to be reading a present-day Iliad. Eugenedis’ writing is clear and cool like a running stream on Olympus. Excellent modern epic.
|Mike Licht, Flickr/Creative Commons|
And…and…I was disappointed that this didn’t happen around National Novel Writing Month…but I’m just in time for Camp NaNoWriMo! It’s a sign from above! S’mores for everyone!
I don’t understand all the praise. This book is awful. Flat, stereotyped characters. Jerky timelines and POV’s that switch suddenly and clumsily. I keep having to backtrack to check where we are in time and whose head we’re in. How exactly do you smack yourself in the head so hard that it “reverberates in the empty room” (that we’ve already been told isn’t empty) or tremble so hard somebody can’t hold on to you? Take a minute and picture those things, seriously. Hamfisted, overdramatic, contrived. Yes, I get the story, I really do get it, it’s about prejudice and power and the moral choices each of us makes, and had the story been told well this could have been a Truly Important Book. Campbell is capable of a good turn of phrase –describing buildings in a depressed part of town as “the color of bathtub rings” was evocative. As it is, it comes off as a sophomoric soap opera. Life is too short for bad writing, but I have to finish this because it’s assigned reading for an MCS class. At least I can sell it back after the quarter.
I received an ARC of this book through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
This is my first Ash Rashid novel, but I see it is #4 in a series.
It started out well, but at about the 50% mark it seemed to get loose, like somebody stopped halfway through a rewrite. For example, another detective tells Ash they picked his family up for protection, but a few pages later they’re right where they had been and Ash picks his daughter up from school. In another spot he makes sure there is a round in the chamber, and then a couple of paragraphs later he chambers a round. Little things that made the story not quite tight and pulled me out of it, and I don’t know how much of that is due to final proofing not being done yet. The final chapter was disappointing. The author stopped showing and started telling, issuing a clinical wrapup with no real life in it, more like a closing a case file than ending a story. The outcome of the city-wide attack wasn’t very believable.
I liked the peeks into the life of a Muslim family, giving me some understanding of customs and beliefs as well as the prejudices they face in America. The inclusion of Santa Muerte was also a treat, although I wish she wasn’t strictly associated with criminals.
Overall, though, an enjoyable police procedural mystery; I’ll check out the first three in the series.
This book tried to give me diabetes.
I kept reading because (1) it was the car wreck I couldn’t not look at and (2) it was a game to see if I could finish before the library loan expired and it disappeared from my Kindle. (I won.) To be fair, I’d thought Nicholas Sparks was a plain old novelist and The Notebook was a plain old novel that happened to be romantic. Nope, he is a romance writer and this is a romance novel. If I’d known that, I’d never have borrowed it.
Commence romance rant:
I loathe romance books. I recently tried to read Stranglehold, another romance novel, but only because it was misleadingly classified as mystery/thriller. That was an even bigger disappointment. That heroine could have been the most awesome female protagonist since Beatrix Kiddo, but the author devolved her into just another weepy, helpless pawn needing to be scooped up and saved by a man. C’mon, romance novelists! I’m happy to see the genre has evolved past that whole rapey thing, but this is 2015. Can’t we have a heroine who lives and loves, who and where and when and how she wants, without needing a man to rescue or complete her? I’m looking for Stella getting her groove back, minus all the vaginal paranoia.
Now for the rant about this book in particular:
Romantic tropes abound. The restored plantation house complete with rocking chair on the dock, the idolized dead mother, the wise daddyisms, the society girl and the boy from the wrong side of the tracks. Our Hero is the broad-shouldered, outdoorsy, faded-jeans-wearing, under-a-tree-sitting, singing-and-guitar-playing, athletic loner poet. Could he be an incarnation of Pan? Whatever, he’s cliched perfection. He even cooks. Allie… I just want to slap her for a Mary Sue. Does she laugh any way besides “under her breath?” Annoying.
Then we have the stereotypical old black man as the only friend, so understanding and wise, and the stereotypical Jewish boss with the uncanny knack for making money…racist much?
I don’t need a blow-by-blow of how Noah cooks vegetables or turns the light on when entering a room. Books with endless filler of that sort piss me off, no matter what the genre.That crap is just filling word or page quotas and it cheats readers. (Charlaine Harris, I’m talking to you. I adore Sookie, but you’re also guilty of this. )
There’s no build-up. Just Our Hero sitting on the porch with beard stubble and a beer and a book of poetry (because he is manly but sensitive) and she arrives and BAM! We’re in the love story of the ages, which should be subtitled “Alzheimer’s Can Be Beautiful.” And then the end, what the hell? I’m at 79% thinking I’ve got enough story left to kill the next hour, and it suddenly ENDS. The last 20% is taken up with a reader’s guide (seriously? somebody thinks this is literature?) and stills from the movie. Cheesy. If I’d paid for this book I would feel ripped off, which I kind of do anyway.
Loins stir. ..the two become one. ..what we have is too beautiful to throw away…follow your heart… the rainstorm-sheer-dress-better-get-you-out-of-those-wet-clothes setup. .. oh, puh-leeze. I’m not begrudging them their hot-rush-of-new-love boinkathon. Hot-rush-of-new-love boinkathons are awesome and everybody should have one, if not several, in their lifetime. But this isn’t just romance, it’s schlocky, gimmicky, juvenile, contrived romance. Gack.
I received an ARC for review from Bloomhill Books and NetGalley.
This story of the horrors of the sex trade and the injustice of the caste system in India is told through the intertwining of the lives of two young girls, one born to the upper class and the other to brothel slavery.
Cons: I was left curious as to how Tara was managing for herself in India, arriving there rather suddenly and staying for five years, apparently without a job. I know the focus of the story was on Tara and Mukta, but something of the rest of Tara’s life would have rounded her out. Both Tara’s and Mukta’s voices sounded the same, but the details of the two girls’ lives were intriguing enough that I could overlook it.
Pros: The hopelessness of forced prostitution, further cursed by a heartless bureaucracy and a trail gone cold eleven years ago, were told so matter-of-factly as to make it even more brutal. Excellent sense of place; I really felt the heat and humidity and pouring rain, saw the rural villages and garbage-strewn red-light district. I felt the futility of social status and human worth assigned by one’s station of birth. I felt the loving bonds between the characters and the hope that stays alive underneath all the ugliness.
A moving story, well told. Kudos!
Bonus points for the cover, one of the most beautiful I’ve seen.