Thursday, October 6, 2016

September in Review

This September marked the 27th anniversary of my Uterus Independence Day. And literally a week later I found two gray hairs. Sunnuva bitc--.... le sigh. 2016 continues to be the dumpster fire of the century, but, on the bright side, I READ SOME BOOKS! I PLAYED SOME GAMES! I SAW SOME MOVIES! Here's my September in review:

Siege and Storm, Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo. 4/10.

I can honestly say I didn't like a single character in this trilogy (except for the one character I wasn't SUPPOSED to like: the Darkling. He was arguably the only character with any kind of depth or complexity)... Alina was, until the very end, a weak and boring protagonist. Most of the characters were very flat and repetitive, serving no real purpose other than to distract us from how much Alina and Mal suck. 

I really don't want to be this harsh, but I felt horribly insulted by these last two books. After such an investment, that I was left with a lackluster ending that felt more like Bardugo had just given up on the series because she must've known wasn't up to par, was like a smack in the face. And how any editor would've let them pass without heavy revisions to give the stories a more solid plot and more dynamic characters, is beyond me, because it had SO. MUCH. POTENTIAL!

I LOVED the world that Bardugo created, I just didn't like the characters she put in or the story we followed within it. It's as simple as that I suppose!  

But I still am astounded by the change in quality from the Grisha Trilogy to Six of Crows. Had I read the Grishas first, I don't know that I would've even given SoC a chance! But I'm so glad I did, and I don't completely regret reading the Grisha Trilogy, just probably won't ever read it again. 

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir. 6/10

I've been meaning to read this for AGES! I follow Sabaa on Twitter and she just seems like such an exemplary example of our species, so I really wanted to read her book. Plus, dat hype train. I wanted on.
And while I DID enjoy the book, I had quite a few issues with it (I'M SORRY, I REALLY AM! I have every bit of confidence that the sequel will find its stride much better though!).

But I'll start with the good first.

Sabaa did a FANTASTIC job of building tension throughout--of genuinely making you worry about the safety of the characters (both for the characters themselves and then what they might do to others to achieve their goals). You never feel safe with them and that's really a hard feat to achieve.

The Bad Guys. 
I probably enjoyed the baddies most of all. The Commandant especially. She was so horrendously evil, but you really wondered what made her that way. And her job might've been torturing people and training killers, but DAMN, she was good at it. #BossBitch

The writing. 
No one can say this book wasn't well written. It was. Sabaa has a wonderful style of writing that is both concise and fluid. While she does a lot of telling instead of showing, I still found myself making mental notes of some of her narrative habits and tricks.

The ending. 
OH IT REALLY PICKED UP HERE. SO GOOD. I got to that last chunk of the book and flew through. The pacing and stakes were spot-freaking-on. Much intense. So wow.

Okay, now the bad.
The world building. 
Maybe this is my own fault. When I saw "fantasy" I assumed there would be loads of world building and a wonderfully vibrant story world I could sink my teeth into. This was not the case. A more apt description of the book would me Roman-esque Dystopian. I think then I could've let the lackluster world building slide. I had such a hard time visualizing the book. There was really a lot of telling vs showing and I think that really colored the whole story in gray-tones rather then full-color.

The characters. 
When we first met Laia I kind of assumed she was like, 12. I really struggled throughout the book to believe she was competent or capable enough to do the things she did. There's also a very sudden and rapid growth in her character, but without any real emotional catalyst. In a split second she went from meek and unsure and clumsy to I AIN'T 'FRAID A NO COMMADANT without any REAL trigger for it. There was no "moment." And I really needed that. She felt incredibly out of character by the end of the book without any believable experiences that would've necessitated such a sudden change in her. But she was still okay. I still worried for her life and didn't want her to die, so that's something at least!
Elias started out SO well. This guy genuinely torn between his heart and his duty, something you could REALLY feel at first. But he seemed to quickly lose depth when he started sexualizing every girl he met. His best friend, who he should have had either the utmost respect for or genuine feelings, he instead sexualized and took advantage of.

The romance.
It felt out of place and totally unnecessary. I don't know that it would've changed a damn thing if you scrapped the romance altogether. You could still have every bit of the plot with genuine friendships and moral codes, rather than "Oh he/she's hot, so I'm going to do this."

And, for me, it really undermined Helene's character. And that was the biggest betrayal of all. She started out as this fierce woman, I LOVED HER, but she was very quickly reduced to this sad little girl pining after her best friend. She quickly crumpled emotionally and became much more some pouty teenager and love-struck puppy than the badass soldier she was built up to be by Elias and other characters. As one woman among hundreds of men, she surely would've needed an iron will and ovaries of steel. I was expecting GI Jane and I got sad-sap Sarah. But again, I still held my breath when she was in danger, hopelessly cheering for her.

 All in all, I did enjoy the book. I will absolutely read the sequel. I think it had a potential it didn't quite live up to by being "troped" into the expected formula of YA. But it was a solid read and I think Sabaa will only get better from here.

Far Cry 45/10. Such a solid five. Still fun for about half an hour and then you get to the usual Far Cry humdrum. I'm starting to get sick of the sheer amount of repetitive droll that my 100% completion compulsion is putting me through. Do we really need to pick up all those masks? Do we really need to do all those side quests? YES, DAMN IT, BUT I DON'T WANT TO (but I have to). It's literally just a carbon copy of all the other Far Cry games. When are they going to let me play a female protag?? When do I get to see some man junk instead of lady bits? Hey, Ubisoft, your sexism is really starting to show. 

~Be mindful of the the things that precious time is spent on.~

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