Monday, 28 March 2016

Some Thoughts: Daredevil Season Two


The first season of Daredevil was something that I loved a lot. I liked Jessica Jones more, but Daredevil was first and it was really indicative of Marvel doing something different to its usual MCU fare (which I love dearly, may I just add). Also, let's be real, the first season of Daredevil was just really well done. It was flat out just good television, for the most part, and so obviously my own personal expectations for its second season were high. Which is why I probably should not be so surprised to have found myself generally quite disappointed. Obviously I'm not a critic or anything, but I do love think about why these things work or don't work for me, and I have a *lot* of opinions about these sorts of things and I don't really have anywhere else to put them other than forcing them on my unsuspecting friends and family members. It seemed the obvious conclusion to just start blathering on with my opinions on here because I'm not exactly doing anything else with this blog. So, with that in mind, here are some of my feelings about Daredevil.

There were actually a lot of things that I liked about this season. I don't think that it was weak across the board, it's just that the main plot and character let it down. The main weakness of this season for me was the fact that it felt so unfocused and so unfinished. Compared to the intensity and well paced, well crafted structure of the first season, it all just felt like a bit of a mess. After over a week of mulling over my thoughts and talking them out with one of my friends who watches the show, I still can't figure out who the main villain of this season is. Yes, The Hand and Nobu, but they were never even mentioned until episode 5 or 6. In a 13 episode long season, it just seems poor to only introduce what is allegedly the Big Bad until halfway through. If you are going to try and do The Hand, why would you try and shove it all into about 8 episodes when it really needs a whole season that doesn't come with the added distraction of the Punisher. On top of that, the Hand plot wasn't even particularly well done. It was lazy and generic - it's still unclear what they actually want to do or why they want to do it. The Punisher plot was actually the most interesting and engaging thing about this season for me - Jon Bernthal did a really incredible job. I was not expecting to care about the Punisher *at all*, but I was genuinely in tears at the amazing monologue at the end of episode 4. That was possibly my favourite scene in the season. But I still wonder at the decision to try and do the Punisher and the Hand in one short season, especially in such an unbalanced way. It's not even as though their plots come together in any sort of satisfying manner. They really had nothing to do with each other at all, aside from bringing up a moral conflict about killing for Matt and to give Karen and Foggy something to do while creating tension with their respective relationships with Matt. It just all felt so unfocused and unclear which, while an apt representation of Matt's life at this point in time, does not make for good bingewatching. The plot issues only become more clear with bingewatching.

The plot issues may have been more bareable, or at least less obvious, if the season had had a better ending, but if anything it just cemented how little sense a lot of it had made. The final episode did not feel like a final episode at all, it felt like a mid-season finale at best. And had it been a mid-season finale and the season had had another 10-13 episodes to actually come to some satisfying conclusions and, I don't know, had any clarity, it would have been great! But it didn't. Instead we got a cool looking but ultimately kind of underwhelming final fight that was supposed to have some kind of emotional impact but just didn't at all for me. Maybe that moment was what the season was all leading to, but none of it felt like enough. It didn't have enough of a cool visual impact, it didn't have enough of an emotional impact, it didn't answer any questions about The Hand at all. If anything I just felt kind of annoyed and disappointed that this was meant to be the closure for the season. Nothing about the plot with The Hand was resolved! Like, at all!I don't know if you can tell how mad I am about this, but I am SUPER MAD. LITERALLY WHAT WAS EVEN THE POINT OF DOING THE HAND THIS SEASON AT ALL.

I will say though that I think I was pretty pleased with almost everything else about the show. So long as Karen, Foggy, Claire or Frank (the Punisher) was on screen, chances are I was happy. I'm pretty biased when it comes to Claire and Foggy because they are my favourite characters, but it did frustrate me that they got sidelined, especially considering how much I was enjoying their scenes compared with how much of a drag a lot of the Matt stuff was. However what screen time they *did* have was excellent, and as much as Matt annoyed me this season I would really appreciate it if Matt and Foggy would PLEASE just be friends again now. I cannot deal with all this fighting. Karen's plot also felt really strong and I loved the dynamic between her and Frank. A lot of their scenes completely stole the show and it addressed the whole 'Karen killing a guy last season' thing in a subtle but effective way. It's definitely not where I saw them going with Karen, but I was really pleased by it all. I am very about Intrepid Reporter Karen Page. But then again, apparently I just really like characters that are competent and good at what they do, like pretty much everyone in this show is apart from Matt. Sorry Matt, but honestly, you are a mess and a solid 80% of the reason why I like you at all is because Charlie Cox looks like a sad puppy and that is a face that is difficult to hate. 

One of the things that I am a bit concerned about with the success of Daredevil is that Marvel, and other studios, will see it as people wanting even more dark shows about sad/angry/guilty feeling white men who feel like punching things and being emotionally constipated in an r rated manner. Which is fine, but it's tired and for me personally it's not the reason that I like Daredevil at all. No, what they should do on the back of Daredevil, and Jessica Jones by extension, is embrace their new lawyer-superhero niche and make a She-Hulk tv show. Bear with me here - just imagine how cool it would be to see Jennifer Walters, Foggy Nelson and Jeri Hogarth lawyering the fuck out of something. Rather than a Punisher tv show (which, as great as Punisher was, I don't think would be able to sustain itself over a 13 episode long season.), I would much rather a She-Hulk series. It could be like the inverse of Daredevil - a lawyer show with some superheroing, a lawyer who can't have a secret identity because she is a giant green woman but who is a boss ass lawyer. I would LIVE FOR IT.

On another positive note that isn't related to my own wishful thinking, I think that whatever they're building up to will be really good. Well, it'll either be really good or a complete mess. But if they are going to go down the road that I think they'll go down, then I think that it could be incredible. I'm just not sure how I feel about the more mystical stuff that they're also building up to, because up until this point the shows strengths have, for me, really been in that grittiness (and I hate myself a little bit for even typing that sentence, because I usually *HATE* Dark and Gritty stuff as a lot of it feels Dark and Gritty for no reason other than because some people think Dark and Gritty stuff is just inherently better than other stuff? The darkness and the grittiness of Daredevil and Jessica Jones just works.) and the more grounded villains, as well as the supporting cast and the grounding that they give to counter Matt's kind of ridiculous sense of responsibility. The only reason that this season survived for me is because they had the Punisher and they had Karen, Foggy and Claire to provide a balance for all the bullshit that was happening in the main plot. And I'm excited to see what is going to happen with Elektra next season, even if I'm still not sure how I felt about her here. I think I liked her??

ANYWAY! Given the opportunity, I will go on about this shit forever so I will stop now. At least we have Luke Cage to look forward to! I AM VERY EXCITED ABOUT LUKE CAGE and I really want to leave this on a positive, so farewell! Hopefully I will be back here soon to talk about more superhero shit that you may or may not care about but that I am far too invested in. Let me know how you felt about Daredevil!

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Hello, It's Me

WHAT IS UP, FELLOW HUMANS. IT IS I, THE GREAT BLOG NEGLECT-ER, HERE TO ONCE AGAIN BRIEFLY GRACE YOU WITH MY PRESENCE BEFORE VANISHING AGAIN.

Honestly though, I know that I have reallllly been letting things slide here for the last two years, and I'm not really going to try and fix that right now. This blog has really gone from competent book blog to a sporadic venting ground, and this post is pretty much just another bout of overly personal venting that's too long for Twitter. But I do have some things that I want to talk about and laying out my thoughts here usually helps. Also, I do have some really vague, kind of shitty ideas for what to do here if/when I have the time or can be bothered that I'm going to bring up later in this post.

I have been stressing a lot about THE FUTURE again, which is something that I tend to stress about a lot, but seeing as I'm coming up to the end of my second year of uni feels increasingly scary and relevant. I still have really no idea what I want to do with my life, and I don't expect that I will come to any sort of massive revelations about that any time soon. I still think that I would like a job in publishing, and I was really lucky in that I got to do work experience at Penguin last summer which was a lot of fun and a valuable experience, but I'm still not entirely sure. How does anyone figure out what they actually want to do with their life??? Literally, how.

I think a lot of my problems come from my inability to really settle on one thing for any extended period of time. This can be seen in my obsessions and fandoms over the years as well as more serious things, but I really seem to be unable to be engaged with any one thing for more than a few months at most before I burn out. There is so much out there in the world that is good and interesting and that I want to know about and experience and do, and it is so frustrating to feel like I'm at a point in my life, or at the least in the education system, where you have to start to choose one or two things that you're interested in and want to learn about, and that this will have some great impact on your future. It feels like I'm being penned in academically when there is so much stuff out there that I want to know. I find it difficult to settle for any amount of time on a couple of tv shows to watch and care about, so it's even more difficult to feel like I have to settle on a relatively small set of academic interests. I love English a lot, and I enjoy studying it and I have academic interest in a lot of areas within English, but I still feel unsatisfied and frustrated with the fact that I had to pick just one subject to study at all. Really, I probably would have been better off with a joint honours, but it's too late for that now. 

There is also the fact that I still don't really feel like I'm good at anything? I look around at the people I surround myself with both in real life and on the internet, and they - you - are all so good and engaged  with the world and are so interesting in a way in which I am not, or at least a way in which I feel that I don't. And I wouldn't change that - I am thankful and lucky to know you all and that I have these people in my life at all that make me want to be better. But I look outward at you all, and then I look at myself and think what do I add here? What am I actually *good* at? And I just don't know. In the same way that I want to learn so many things, and that I want to engage with so many things that I end up doing nothing at all, I also want to be good at so many things, and so I end up being good at doing nothing. Inactivity and lack of motivation and fear at doing and trying new things and inability to stick at anything long enough that I can see it through to not even be good, but for it to be something, anything at all. Even with this blog, something which I used to work relatively hard at for me, has fallen to the wayside and, let's be honest here, was not much of anything in the first place. I have reached a point at which, with a lot of things, I would rather not try at all than try hard and fail because I am so scared of failure. I am so scared of trying and still failing to really be good at anything, and I don't want to be. I don't want to be that person at all. I don't even know specifically what I want to be good at, which doesn't help matters in the least. I just feel like I'm not doing enough of anything right now. And I'll write this post, and I'll think about this until the cows come home but I know that at the end of the day I'll get to September after months off and plenty of time and opportunity to do something - anything - and I won't have. 

I don't really know what this has to do with anything or how this could help, but I do love to get overly personal over here and I find it so much easier to speak about my feelings here than I actually do with anyone out loud. Sometimes you've just got to vent your deep personal feelings of inadequacy to the void of the internet to get some perspective and feel better about things.

ANYWAY, a complete change of tone now, just so we don't end things too depressingly. I haven't really been doing enough (or any) reading to warrant bringing the book review aspect of this blog back just yet, and I'll be honest with you, I think I've forgotten how to write a review in the first place. However, I have been thinking that I might possibly do a couple of posts about comics, as I have been reading a lot of those lately, if that would be of any interest? Also, I may do a couple of posts about tv shows and films, not really reviewing them, but just some general personal thoughts? With Daredevil season 2 just having come out and Batman vs Superman and Civil War on the way, I will be having a lot of feelings about superheroes and no place to put them, so I may just put them here. I don't have any ideas beyond that, because if I was good at having blog ideas this blog would probably be more that random, personal posts at this point, but it's better than nothing.

Thank you for sticking around for another uncomfortably personal post that I will probably regret in about 5 minutes! Seriously, I appreciate anyone who still occasionally reads this blog, or who talks to me on twitter or any of that. You all mean a lot to me, and I have this blog to thank for a lot of good things in my life and I really don't want to let it die completely just yet. I WILL KEEP KICKING THIS DEAD HORSE.

Sunday, 26 July 2015

YALC!

This post is perhaps a tad late, but last weekend was the excellent YALC, and it was such a good experience this year that I have to write about it! YALC - the Young Adult Literature Convention that is also a part of the larger LFCC - is in it's second year, and they really improved upon the first one. Of course I enjoyed the first one a lot last year (you can see that post here if you really want to), but it was better organised and less crowded this year which made it a much more smooth and much less stressful experience! It also helped that I wasn't carrying a ridiculous amount of books around with me like I did last year.

(Books and some of the swag that I acquired! The books are Am I Normal Yet? by Holly Bourne, Lobsters by Lucy Ivison and Tom Ellen, Stone Rider by David Hofmeyer, Counting Stars by Keris Stainton, The Accident Season by Moira Fowley-Doyle, Silence is Goldfish by Annabel Pitcher and These Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly!)



(Jo (@jowearsoldcoats), me and Bella (@cheezyfeetbooks). Picture credit to Michelle (@cloverness))

I can't really remember much of what I did at YALC because my memory is a bit shit and I didn't write anything down, but I shall try and recap things as best I can! 

Bella and I met up at the station on the Saturday and made the journey to Kensington Olympia, the new location for LFCC and YALC which seemed much more spacious because it was spread out over floors instead of all out in the same area. The YALC space was up on the second floor which had carpet and EVERYTHING so that was pleasant, and it was also a lot less busy than the main floor of LFCC. When we did eventually make it down to look at the stalls and shop around I was shocked by how much quieter (and less pungent) the YALC floor was. Anyway, I went to a few panels on the Saturday as there weren't any signings that I really wanted to go to, as well as going to the Hunger Games quiz at the end of the day. The Being a Girl panel (the panelists were Holly Smale, Malorie Blackman, Hayley Long, Laura Dockrill and it was chaired by Anna James) was probably my favourite, mainly because discussions about feminism in books and YA especially is always interesting to listen to, and there were some really great points made. There was also Carrie Hope Fletcher's panel (Samantha Shannon, Malorie Blackman and Holly Smale were on this panel as well) which was fun. It was mainly a discussion of why they wanted to be writers and talking about writing which was fun enough. We also just spent a lot of time pottering about looking at the publisher stands (which were great!) and chatting to other bloggers etc. The Hunger Games quiz was fun but I have a deathly fear of audience participation so I spent most of it constantly on edge that Caesar Flickerman was going to try and talk to me.

Like last year, the Sunday was probably my favourite day, even if I was quite tired and I accidentally slept in missing all but the last 10 minutes of the Blogger Brunch that morning. I still made it in time to pick up a goodie bag though, which had Jennifer Donnelly's new historical YA in it that I am DYING to read. We also got a 20% off voucher at the Waterstones at YALC which is where I picked up Am I Normal Yet?, Lobsters and The Accident Season for the signings that day. I also went to the Bringing Sexy Back panel (Non Pratt, Lucy Ivison, Tom Ellen, Louise O'Neill and James Dawson dressed as naked Danerys Targaryan complete with modesty dragons - one of which I'm pretty sure was Toothless. IS NOTHING SACRED, JAMES?) which was a lot of fun, as one would expect with that line up. As well as that, I went to the Fantasy panel (Ben Aaronvitch, Melinda Salisbury, Sally Green, Frances Hardinge and J P Smythe) which was interesting, but I was also sitting quite far back so couldn't really hear that much of it. It was a lovely day and I enjoyed the panels that I went to and the signings that I went to!

I can't really think of anything negative about this years YALC personally. I had a great weekend, I got to see bookish people, it felt a lot smoother than last year, I got books and I feel more passionate about books and the bookish community than I have for a while. Thanks so much to the YALC team who work so hard and who created a truly lovely experience! I hope to see you again next year, YALC!

Monday, 6 July 2015

Some Stuff That I Like - Part 1

Correct, that is the vaguest of all vague titles but contrary to blog evidence, I have actually been reading stuff and watching stuff in all this time that I have not been making blog posts of mixed quality about the stuff that I have read. THIS IS THAT BLOG POST. Because I seem to have forgotten how to write actual reviews (??? I know but every time I sit down to write one it just seems like the worst, most poorly written and boring thing that I could possibly be doing. Sadly, this leads to a complete lack of blog posts because I'm not reading enough to do round up type things and I never have any ideas so????? I just do nothing?????) I thought I'd just do a big old round up of some stuff that I have liked recently so I don't feel like 100% a fraud. Just, like, 87% a fraud.


BOOKS

I have been relatively slow on the reading front because, well I don't know why actually. It's not uni because that wrapped up a while ago. And it's not that I don't want to read, because I do. It's just that nothing is appealing to me and I can't settle down and read a thing and I don't know how I always used to have at least one book on the go and then just went immediately into reading another one without really thinking too hard about it. I was so excited about summer because of all the time I'd have to do things but it stresses me out how much time I have because I want to do so much that I get nothing done at all. ANY HOO. This is not what any of us wanted, so have some recs instead.

Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli - I finished this book and then wanted to start rereading it immediately after. IT IS SO CUTE. I said this on Twitter many times while I was reading it and I'll say it again. It is the cutest darn book on this earth and I had the goofiest fucking smile on my face when I was reading it and it just made me so happy. I don't know if I liked everything about it, but that didn't matter to me when I was reading it because I was enjoying myself so much. It is a fun book and it is a cute book and it made me smile so you should read it. If it can touch my cold dead heart then there's no escaping it.

And now for some LGBT+ books which I also loved but are maybe not as joy-giving as Simon: More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera and I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson, coincidentally both yellow books because they want to trick you into thinking you'll have a pleasant time reading them. WRONG. YOU'LL JUST CRY but you'll love it so it won't bother you that much. I definitely liked More Happy Than Not more than IGYtS (even though they're not actually that comparable). There was something about Aaron and his life and his world that struck more of a chord with me than the twins in Nelson's book, and I think this is partially due to the writing style. Nelson has such a gorgeous style, but I personally found that to be a bit of a barrier between me and the characters. It sometimes felt that they were so buried in whimsy that there wasn't much else there? It is beautiful to read, though, and I know that there are a whole bunch of people out there who'll disagree with me. MHTN definitely just drew me in a lot more, though. It's probably one of my favourite books of the year, even if it is not a particularly happy one.

And while we're on the subject of books that are not particularly happy, let me draw your attention to All the Rage by Courtney Summers. It is a punch to the gut, but the best punch to the gut you'll ever get in your life. It is upsetting and hard to read and brutally honest and so angry and it is hard to look away from. When I was reading it I became so immersed in Romy's anger and Courtney Summers' anger at the injustice of it all. Summers is always good at tackling difficult subjects and equally difficult heroines, but she really blows it out of the park here. Romy is so engaging as a character regardless of whether you agree or disagree with her actions, whether you like or don't like her. I just love this book.



Now just to mix it up a bit, I'm going to end this on my favourite book of the past few evers, Uprooted by Naomi Novik. If you follow me on Twitter, you will have seen me going on about Uprooted pretty much all the time, and that is because it felt like it was written just for me. There are so many things that I love about this book - the main character Nieszka, the Dragon and the way it gently subverts your expectations. It feels familiar, but never old fashioned. There is the most stunning friendship between Nieszka and her friend Kasia, probably one of my favourite friendships in a book ever. It's my favourite kind of fantasy, and even if I did have some issues with the pacing at the end, that could never stop me from loving Uprooted in the way that I do. If you are reading this, and you have read Uprooted already and loved it because you are a good and sensible human being, please let me know if you have any recs for similar sort of books! I would thank you forever.

As the title would suggest, I'm hoping to do a couple more posts covering comics, games, films and TV shows that I've liked lately, if that would be of any interest? I really do want to get back into blogging at least slightly more frequently than I have been this past year!



Sunday, 28 June 2015

A Whole Flipping Year

No, not a whole year since I last posted anything, though sometimes it does feel that long, but a whole year of university! First year is over (it technically finished for me a few weeks ago, but I'm a student. I never get around to doing anything. Which I hope explains some of the neglect around here lately) and it was actually fine. I didn't die, which is always a bonus, I passed and found some things which I think I might be legitimately academically interested in that doesn't revolve around my own desire for silliness, I made friends that feel like Actual Friends rather than Friends of Convenience. It's all been pretty good, actually. That being said, it's still been a weird year (when I say year, I mean from last September to now rather than an actual year year) and it feels like a lot has changed.

It's been a weird year because I think I was down for quite a long time in the first term, and I wasn't used to feeling so adrift and generally alone, even if Twitter and the internet and my family and friends at home were still there for me. I do think it helped a lot that I had a roommate who I did get along with even if we were never Friend friends. If I had had a room on my own, I would have isolated myself purely because of stress and anxiety and I genuinely don't think I would have met the people that are my friends now if I hadn't had my roommate and her friends to cling onto in the first few days.

It's been a weird year because there were some big changes at home and also because one of my cats died. And I know it sounds a bit pathetic to still be hung up on that because she was old and she lived a good life with us, but I loved her and I don't think I'll ever have a bond like that with a cat again. I love my other cat a lot, but it's not the same. I'm so glad that we had her, but I still miss her. I know how sad it sounds that I'm being this dramatic about a cat, but she was important to me so. 

It's been a weird year because I moved out and did stuff on my own and learned that as an adult I am not 100% entirely dysfunctional? And that I actually quite liked being away from home once I got used to it? It's nice to come home and not have to pay for rent and food, but it's also nice to be away and feel like I am actually actively living my own life instead of sitting in my room doing nothing. Granted at uni I would also be sitting in my room doing nothing, but I was paying rent for that room goddammit! But yeah, my lifestyle has really not changed much, if at all. Apart from reading less that I would have liked, I don't think anything changed at all.

It's been a weird year because I learned that yes, I am lazy enough that I will ensure that I have five weeks worth of clothes in order to avoid having to do my laundry at uni. And I am quite proud, in all honesty. 

It's been a weird year because I made friends, and I know I already mentioned this but I have a complete lack of faith in my ability to make friends. I know that I have friends but when it comes down to it I can never remember how any of that really happened and I'm pretty sure it always involved a third party and I just ended up becoming friends with a lot of my friends at home by proxy rather than because my actual personality. Also I have a lot of anxieties about going Out out, so I thought that that would mean my social life would be dead I would be a simple lonesome hermit, looking out upon the world of people with their social skills and easy friendships with longing. A simple lonesome starving hermit, because let's be real if I hadn't made some friends I probably would not have eaten properly because I'd be too scared to go to meals (I was in catered) and you can't live off toast and rice forever. But I did make friends! With people that I like a lot! And let me be the evidence that if even I, lonesome hermit who literally didn't go Out out once as a first year student, can make friends then you're probably fine.


It's been a weird year because I thought I would change so much but I really don't think I've changed much at all. I keep on expecting that every year on my birthday I'll wake up and I'll be a Proper Adult who knows how to make phone calls and how to do taxes and has a work ethic and is taller and more fashionable and all that but that's never going to happen is it. 

So yeah, it's been a weird year, but I don't think I'd change a thing. (that's a lie I would absolutely change things but whatever we get the hand we're dealt the past is in the past and all that. I was just trying to look wise and like I'd taken it in my stride.)

Sunday, 12 April 2015

It's UKYA Day, Hooray!

It's that wonderful time of year where, thanks to the wonderful Lucy (Queen of Contemporary) we get to celebrate the wonderful world of UKYA! 

UKYA has always been important to me (and by always I mean basically since I started reading YA and blogging because I wasn't actually aware of the concept of UKYA until then), and I think that this is mainly because it always seems more real to me. It presents a reality that is closer to my personal experiences than a lot of US books, which is not to compare them in quality. UKYA contemporary in particular always just seems to have the right tone and sense of humour that just makes it seem that much more real to me as a British teenager. There's also a great sense of diversity in UKYA that keeps getting stronger as books like Trouble and Remix by Non Pratt, Starring Kitty by Keris Stainton and The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson are released, and I sincerely hope that diversity increases in all YA. Those are all also brilliant books that you should read right now if you haven't already (apart from Remix which you should read as soon as it comes out on the 4th of June)
The Art of Being Normal,
about a trans teen
.
                                                                                                                              This has all been a bit contemp-oriented, but UKYA is also great for inventive and fun fantasy, sci-fi, horror, dystopia. You name it, we've probably got it (though you may want to refer to someone who actually knows about more recent/forthcoming release because I am ever so slightly out of the loop!) James Dawson is always good if you are looking for fun, creepy horror with books like Say Her Name and Under My Skin, though he's also making a move into contemporary with All of the Above which comes out later this year and will be LGBT+ (not to be confused with I. W. Gregorio's None of The Above, which I keep on doing mentally...). If you like disturbing Dystopian horror, then the winner of the first ever YA Book Prize, Only Ever Yours by Louise O'Neill is for you. It is one of the most unsettling books that I have read, but it is absolutely worth it. A truly chilling look at a future that feels all too close to the world now, and an excellent feminist book. If fantasy is what really gets you going, then I am always here to recommend Zoe Marriott's books. Personal favourites include FrostFire and Shadows on the Moon, and if urban fantasy is more your thing, then there's also her Name of the Blade Trilogy, the final book of which will be released in July, so there's plenty of time for you to catch up and join in the eager wait for it. There's also Laure Eve's Fearsome Dreamer duology, which has one of the most interesting worlds and genuinely mind-blowing plots that I've read in ages.  

This is pretty much the briefest of brief overviews of what UKYA has to offer, but it's not a bad place to start if you're looking to start reading UKYA. There'll be Q&A's all day with authors, as well as a couple of liveshows, all you need to do is check out the #UKYAday hashtag which I'm sure will be busy all day. There also several other brilliant posts celebrating UKYA today, so make sure to check those out! Have a happy UKYA Day, and may there be many more!                               

Monday, 6 April 2015

A Darker Shade of Magic review

A Darker Shade of Magic
V. E. Schwab
February 24th 2015
Tor Books

Kell is one of the last Travelers—rare magicians who choose a parallel universe to visit. 

Grey London is dirty, boring, lacks magic, ruled by mad King George. Red London is where life and magic are revered, and the Maresh Dynasty presides over a flourishing empire. White London is ruled by whoever has murdered their way to the throne. People fight to control magic, and the magic fights back, draining the city to its very bones. Once there was Black London - but no one speaks of that now.

Officially, Kell is the Red Traveler, personal ambassador and adopted Prince of Red London, carrying the monthly correspondences between royals of each London. Unofficially, Kell smuggles for those willing to pay for even a glimpse of a world they’ll never see. This dangerous hobby sets him up for accidental treason. Fleeing into Grey London, Kell runs afoul of Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She robs him, saves him from a dangerous enemy, then forces him to another world for her 'proper adventure'.

But perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, Kell and Lila will first need to stay alive — trickier than they hoped.


It is no secret to anyone who has spoken to me since I have read this book that I absolutely loved this book. I knew from the moment it was announced that it was going to be great, especially as Vicious had just been so good. I was right, as per, but I think anyone who reads that blurb and looks at that cover knows that they're in for a goodun'. I loved this book so much that I've come out of my sad university cave to spread the word, even if it is about a month late. 

There are many things about ADSOM that I love greatly. It's not a perfect book, but it is good and it is fun and what more do you want from a book, really? The characters were what really made ADSOM come to life, for me. And I think that it speaks to the quality of this book and to Schwab's skills that she can take characters that feel familiar and turn them into something new and fun. The tropes are there, but they never feel old or lazy or poorly used. It is difficult to pick a favourite of of Kell, Lila, Rhy and Holland because I genuinely loved them all so much. They all work so well together as a kind of unit in that it is their interactions with each other that really bring them alive. There is also more room for humour in this book then there perhaps was in Vicious which definitely helps to ease the reader into the world and into liking the characters, regardless of whether you agree with their actions. There is also mucho shipping potential in this book despite the lack of actual romance. I myself am partial to Holland/anyone, Kell/Rhy, Rhy/Lila. Rhy/Kell/Lila... Basically every possible combination. I have no shame. 

The world is incredible. It is built so well, and world building is very important to me. I felt like I had a real sense of the three main different Londons, the magic and the rules behind that magic and the logic of the world. It's not too complicated or convoluted, and the rules are firmly set up in a way that isn't info dumpy. That, and it's a fun a world. Who doesn't want to read a fantasy book about parallel Londons? WHO. It's a cool idea and it's brought to life in a great way, and even if the characters were what made this book for me, the world is a very close second. There are such distinct differences between the Londons, and they are all so beautifully drawn out, each with their own positives and their own drawbacks. Even Red London, seemingly the best with its relationship with magic is problematic in other ways. And I really like the whole interdimensional politics aspect of the book, the history of these Londons and their relationships with each other and how they get along now. Even though I figure they're probably kind of irrelevent, I'm also interested to know about the larger worlds of Red and White London, and how they have developed in comparison to Grey London (our 18th century London)

I enjoyed the pacing and the plot a lot, but for me this was also where I had some qualms. Personally, I thought the ending was too neat which is not essentially a negative, but I feel like this came at the cost of a (admittedly fairly small) plot thread. I haven't seen this brought up though so it's probably just me being a fusspot/not actually realising what was going on. It didn't detract from my enjoyment of the book, though. The pace is so fast and the world, the characters, the plot so engrossing that small issues didn't really bother me at all. There's also a lot of perfectly distracting angst in ADSOM, which is always good. I love me some good angst. Not too much angst, not too little angst. The fic writers are going to have a field day with ADSOM, let me tell you.

All in all, A Darker Shade of Magic was about as good as I was hoping it would be (ie, BRILLIANT), and I am so gosh darn excited about the sequel already that I might explode a bit when it actually comes out. Long story short, READ THIS BOOK. If you haven't already, that is. It has been out for over a month. You really should have already read ADSOM, let's be real. It's so pretty. Okay, I've stopped making sense. This book is turning me into an incoherent mess.
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