Monday, December 28, 2015

Mini-Reviews: A Trio of Misses

An Inheritance of Ashes
An Inheritance of Ashes by Leah Bobet

The cover of this one immediately grabbed me, and I loved the plot - fantasy with a farm/homestead setting.  Unfortunately it was the setting that really just doomed this on for me.  I liked the fantasy aspects and I thought the characters were ok.  Nothing spectacular but it could have been a solid brain candy read.  Except.  The setting is just so poorly done.  Here's the thing about fantasy: there's a whole lot you can get away with, but you've got to let your readers know where they are at some point.  It can be a fantasy version of the world we live in, it can be a different world, it can be past, present, or future.  But it can't be a mystery.  I kept waiting and waiting for the author to reveal where we were - she referenced specific world religions, so it must be some unnamed country on our planet but a fantasy version?  If it's our world, it's got to be the future because races are totally homogenous and there's no prejudice, racial or sexual.  Except everyone lives on farms and it's a very obviously pre-industrial society?  Never explained.  I spent the entirety of the book wondering where and when I was and it completely kept me from getting into the story.  It's one aspect of fantasy that you just can't neglect or do halfway, and it ruined the book for me.

The Beautiful Bureaucrat
The Beautiful Bureaucrat by Helen Phillips
So this one was on a lot of lists and got a lot of press earlier in the year.  The slightly dystopian/fantastical setting appealed to me.  In this case, we didn't get a ton of information about where and when we were, but the author also avoided details that would hint ambiguously at a time or place, which made it easier to swallow.  I didn't hate it, but I feel like overall I just missed the point.  I read it in two sittings and I know about halfway through I had some brilliant revelation about how this was a story about LIFE.  Unfortunately I had also taken an ambien, and when I woke up I couldn't remember why I thought this story was in any way significant. If you read it, I recommend reading it on drugs because it seemed a lot better after ambien than in the cold light of day, when I just didn't get the point.

After We Fall
After We Fall by Emma Kavanagh

This book is responsible for the Great Audiobook Draught of December.  It took me an entire month to get through a ten hour audiobook.  Usually I go through one a week.  This has a great premise and the publisher blurbed it well because it sounded really great. Until I started listening.  It was so boring.  And of course there's a twist and you KNOW there's a twist and so I couldn't just give up until I knew the twist.  Spoiler alert: the twist is no more interesting than the rest of the book.  The narrator was the best part.  Had it been in print I would have skipped to the last chapter and saved ten hours.

Whew!  Feels good to get those of my chest!  I've been saving up my book rage all month long.  Come back tomorrow and see some happier reviews of a few recent YA reads that I loved!

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