Showing posts with label oetinger verlag. Show all posts
Showing posts with label oetinger verlag. Show all posts

Saturday, April 25, 2015

[Review] Currents - Eva Moraal

In CURRENTS, the country has been divided into two main sections after a great flood. On the one side we have the Dry, the privileged that are rich or influential enough to reside in safe, dry territory. On the other side we have the Wet, the working class that can only afford living in the more dangerous parts of the country. 

Underwhelming Language and Concepts

However, I couldn't really empathize with Nina because she's so oblivious to what happened during the Great Flood. I get that it's essential to the story that she slowly learns what happens. It's a typical feature in dystopian YA to have the protagonists slowly realize the truth, but in CURRENTS it just wasn't done well. I didn't, for one second think that there were dry lands that the Dry people managed to populate in. It's quite obvious instantly after we learn that Nina's the governor's daughter that the Dry's territory is only inhabited by rich and privleged people. Combined with Max' POV that shows the ugly side, what the Wet are going through, there is absolutely no tension. Nothing really gripped me and had me wanting to continue, the novel sort of just dabbles along. 

The story is inspired by an obviously very real problem in the Netherlands, if you're not dutch it's probably very hard to understand the concept of the story. Water is simultaneous with death in the story; I'm actually quite sad that Moraal didn't decide to include a map of the territories. It's very hard to imagine those sections when you're not familiar with the dutch landscape.

A Future That Isn't Futuristic

When establishing a dystopian future, you have to state what has happened, what everything looks like and what the poeple are going through. In CURRENTS, Moraal leaves the impressions oft he landscape completely out and just gives us the information that the country has been flooded. I would have wished for more world building, what changed in society after the flood, what new inventions there are, what things were left behind and all. We have the digital HCs, which are just a variation of an iPad, but that's it. The story is supposed to be set in the future - I want to see the future and have more detail in the descriptions.

Another main issue I had with the novel is the physical form. The copy that I was provided with had blue dyed pages to match the cover. In theory that's a very nice effect, if you're only interested in the visual aspect. Because the pages are dyed, they stuck to each other in the corners, so every time you turn a page you have to physically pull them from each other, which is absolutely annoying. I don't understand why the novel was printed with blue pages in the first place, I haven't seen that anywhere else before.




Overall: Do I Recommend?

I especially recommend this if you're looking to learn a new language or wanting to practice. The German translation that I read is very easy to understand, while not seeming like middle grade literature. 
I generally felt underwhelmed and for me easy, fluffy language and a cute side romance isn't necessarily what I'm looking for in YA, especially not in the dystopian genre. It's an okay read, but not more than that.

"This dramatic love story is set after the Great Flood when the country is divided between the safe, dry areas and those vulnerable to further flooding. The country s population is similarly divided, with the Dry forming the wealthy elite, and the Wet the working class scratching a living in order to survive. A resistance movement arises from the Wet. Nina is a Dry, the daughter of the Governor. In the last flood, her school was inundated and her sister drowned, and she is now forced to go to another school in the Wet area, under a false name. There she meets Max, a Wet, and they become partners for a school project.  At first suspicious, they soon become fascinated by each other's worlds and start to become friends. Yet, their situation is complex- Max's father died during the last flood, and the Governor played a questionable role in this, and Max's brother is a member of the violent resistance movement. What will happen when Max finds out who Nina really is?"

Have You Ever Read a Novel By a Dutch Author?

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Wednesday, April 15, 2015

[Review] Loving - Katrin Bongard

In LOVING, book blogger Ella has to do a school project with the hottest boy in her year. It doesn't really help that her best friend Zoe is in love with the school womanizer Luca as well. 

A Book Blogger Portrayed Accurately, Hallelujah!

I love how smoothly and fittingly Bongard incorporates Ella's pastime blogging hobby. I've only ever read one novel starring a book blogger before and in that one, it didn't even play a role for the plot. It absolutely makes sense for Ella, the introverted book nerd, to do this and to prefer it to going to parties and going out in general.
It's so fun to find all the things that we are concerned with in the novel, even accompany her to a major book expo! She's a thoroughly well-developed and absolutely believable character and her being "one of us" makes it even twice as remarkable that Bongard pulled it off realistically. In general her characters don't really seem to act their age.

Especially Ella is very mature and down-to-earth and even the so-called teenage meltdowns she has regarding Luca don't even seem dramatic enough. High schoolers don't keep it together and are always quiet and collected like her. I would have loved more major drama that really gets ugly, because that's what high school is like. Luca and Ella seem like new adult characters in college to me. I recall that some people have even labelled this a New Adult novel. I don't really agree, it's set in high school and the language is comparable to Middle Grade, so it's somewhere inbetween and a mash-up of all three genres.

Problematic Character Development

During the course of the novel protagonist Ella goes through the typical ugly duckling transformation which ends in her being the object of desire for a lot guys. I'm not a fan of that. I know that in reality high school boys are that superficial and will start to notice girls the second they take off their glasses and dress a little more extravagant - however, does this really have to be the topic of a novel for teenagers? I would have loved this way more if Bongard left out the whole lasik surgery thing and the makeover and just made Luca fall in love with Ella for her personality. Maybe he does fall in love with her because of who she is, but he would have never been interested in her in the first place, had she not become a swan.

The way that Ella develops in the novel and completely turns her habits inside out (starting to do sports, makeover, extroversion) doesn't make her sympathetic and frankly, it doesn't give off a positive vibe for teenage readers her age. You don't have to live up to society's expectations to be happy and fall in love. That's exactly what the novel advertises for - change everything about you and the hottest boy in school will like you - yay.
To me, that's a very problematic view point. However, if we're not talking about deep matters and all, I can fairly say that I enjoyed this novel a lot. I read it really quickly because of the easy writing style and because I loved that Ella is a book blogger and talks about the little things we bloggers worry about a lot.



Overall: Do I Recommend?

LOVING is absolutely not what I expected and that's a good thing. It's a cute, quick, but probably easily forgettable read. It's nice if you're a blogger yourself and one of those books you can read over and over again when you're on a vacation. It's beachy somehow, it's light and it's entertaining. Well-deserved four stars and a recommendation to all you book bloggers out there.

"Ella's not really into the party scene at her school; she'd rather read or blog about books. When her best friend Zoe starts crushing on Luca, the school Casanova, she can't understand it... until she gets to know him better and discovers that he's not just hot, he's also intelligent and sensitive. How could a person not fall for him?"

Have You Read A Novel Featuring A Book-Blogging Character Before?

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Monday, March 9, 2015

[Review] Dreamless (Starcrossed #2) - Josephine Angelini

In DREAMLESS, demi-god Helen has to use her ability to descend into the Underworld to kill the Furies in order to stop all different demi-god families from wanting to kill each other.
What intrigued me: I've read the first novel.

Logic, what is logic?

After it has been revealed to our protagonist Helen that her love interest/ex-boyfriend is actually her cousin, they are both trying (and desperately failing) to keep a distance. Even though it's pretty obvious that she can't be the daughter of someone that died 19 years ago if she's 17, everybody rolls with it. Now here comes the actual problem: For the Delos family the quarrel isn't even that their son is heading for an incestuous relationship, but the actual problem is that if those two decide to have children, these children would cause the House of Theben and the House of Atreus to go extinct, because... the heir can only be claimed by one house.

It's very difficult to keep track of the different mythological objects and rules that Angelini brings into this. We have:
  • "The Face", which basically means looking like the steeped-in-legend Helen of Troy
  • "The Cestus of Aphrodite", which makes the wearer invincible
  • The concept of "blood guilt", which I don't fully understand until this day 
  • The "Twig of Aenas" which can only be used by a son of Aenas to descend into the Underworld without being a descender 
... and a bunch of other things that you have to keep in mind if you want to make sense of the story.
Angelini doesn't even bother to explain everything again in detail (which you always should in the second book if you've got so much complicated mythology!), which leaves you there pretty confused.
I was glad to have a little dictionary with characters and gods and all their traits at the end of the novel, which I really actively had to use to understand who's who and who's able to do what.

It's NOT a Twilight fan fiction anymore!

I had a hard time getting into DREAMLESS, especially because of the mythology. It's not easy to keep track of everything and you really have to think and remember everything that happens if you don't want to end up confused and angry. There's a lot of mythology that's not even accurate- or, let's say, different from the original lore. This does not mean that it's bad- Angelini just took a different spin on some of the things, which I encourage! I loved how she made Ares, the mighty God of War, a complete nutcase for example. Or Cerberus, who's usually a Dobermann or a Pitbull, a giant wolf.

I got the notion that in this one, the Starcrossed Series really stopped being just a Twilight fan fiction and started to become a story on its own. In the first novel the whole scion and blood shed issue just seemed like a bad excuse to justify the hot boy falling for the average shy girl. In the second, the characters grow and the plot lines start making sense in the bigger picture.
Even though I understood why Angelini made the decision to alternate between point-of-views, I would have loved some consistency. The main narrator still remains Helen, but there are sometimes random throw-ins from the POV of other characters. It all seems necessary and I fully understand why it makes sense to do it like this- still, either alternate consistently and go with multiple narrators from the start or make it a one-time-thing.




Overall: Do I Recommend?

I had a rocky start with DREAMLESS and after about seventy pages I even contemplated giving up because I didn't understand what's going on anymore. Maybe it's different if you've read the first one right before, but for me it was a struggle to push through. After about hundred pages it hit me and I was diving deep into the story and needing to know what happens next.

Additional Info:

Published: Mai 2012 
Pages: 512
Genre: YA / Fantasy / Mythology / Greek Mythology
ISBN: 978-3-7915-2626-3

"Can true love be forgotten?
As the only scion who can descend into the Underworld, Helen Hamilton has been given a nearly impossible task. By night she wanders through Hades, trying to stop the endless cycle of revenge that has cursed her family. By day she struggles to overcome the fatigue that is rapidly eroding her sanity. Without Lucas by her side, Helen is not sure she has the strength to go on.
Just as Helen is pushed to her breaking point, a mysterious new Scion comes to her rescue. Funny and brave, Orion shields her from the dangers of the Underworld. But time is running out. A ruthless foe plots against them, and the Furies' cry for blood is growing louder.
As the ancient Greek world collides with the mortal one, Helen's sheltered life on Nantucket descends into chaos. But the hardest task of all will be forgetting Lucas Delos."

Did you read the series and what did you think of it? 

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