mothwing: Image of a death head hawk moth (Book)
Mothwing ([personal profile] mothwing) wrote on August 31st, 2014 at 11:30 pm
Books round-up: August

Frost, Toby: Space Captain Smith
It was... overall ok, really. You will most likely enjoy this book if you already like action comedies and using the words "romp" and "tongue in cheek". I don't, really, so I didn't. The British Space Empire parts were a fun premise, but the cardboard characters didn't deliver, for me. Also, I didn't get all the pop culture references, which I didn't think mattered that much, though. I don't think that pop culture references alone don't necessarily make things funny. The humour also wasn't always right for me- I don't think "does my butt look big in this?" is always funny, for one.
I don't like books that are trying hard to be funny, and this one did. The unrealistic action scenes were funny, but too over-the-top, some of the main character's convictions on being right about things like the inferiority of female characters and entities or their role weren't dealt with as funnily as the author may have intended. Complex characters this book doesn't have, but I still found myself caring about them enough to finish the book.


Healy, Christopher: The Hero's Guide to Storming the Castle.
Crocky and I were reading this together and liked the unexpectedly complex characters, especially Briar was a pleasant surprise. The mixture between very PG-friendly lack of graphic detail and the violence getting stronger was a bit strange, because it is not likely that everybody survived the violence they encountered, but we aren't shown any of the dead bodies and there are no described corpses or dead bodies, so there's that. The various love stories bumble along, but they stay interesting.


Gier, Kerstin: Silber: Das Zweite Buch der Träume.
Crocky and I listened to thsi together, and did finish it, but it was extremely boring, and the heroine suffers from loss of intelligence ever since she got together with her equally boring boyfriend.
My favourite example is the part in the book in whcih she believes someone to be in grave danger and it would be sensible for her to go and warn someone, at least the next day, but she completely forgets about it for two chapters because her boyfriend shows up. Her


Gier, Kerstin: Silber: Das Erste Buch der Träume.
This book read like the premise for a very boring, very bad teenage het-romance story written by somebody who can write well but who can't write interesting characters. It was entertaining, Kerstin Gier certainly can write and knows her teenagers, but there are a lot of flaws. The short version: the way she is Not Like All Those Other Girls while not only being Exactly Like Those Other Girls, and also being One Of The Guys while berating other girls to backstab other girls. Also, all the male characters are assholes and don't treat her with the respect they'd give one of their own group.
The longer version:
(1a) Our Heroine derives self-worth from the fact that she is Not Like THOSE Other Girls. She likes reading! She is independent! She doesn't dress up or anyone! She's immune to boys! Of course we're meant to think that she's sort of aware that this is also brittle self-protection, but it's not convincing.
(1b) Because of her amazing luck, she ends up doing many of the things that she claims not to be interested in (balls, ballgowns, looking pretty). I get that this wish-fulfilment while getting to pretend you never wanted this is apparently a teenage wish, but it's dishonest and unhelpful. It's alright to have interests. If you're interested in balls, that's fine, go to balls, if not, stay home and be interested in other cool stuff. It's ok. But don't go to balls with the person constructed to be the hottest guy at school in a £300 dress your rich mother fell over herself to buy you and then snark at THOSE people who actually CARE about being there. Do the things you love, don't dismiss those the others like.
(2) The fact that all heroes are over-the-top rich and goodlooking without this being (a) necessary, (b) it being explained away by the characters being supernaturally endowed.
There is no purpose to the boys being SO SO hot and not like those science nerds. And there is no reason to Liv having silver-blonde highlights (really, Kerstin, really...?!).
(3) The fact that she hangs out with Jasper, who is constantly belittling, sexist, misogynistic and disrespectful towards her and other characters. This guy is dangerously entitled and we don't need a heroine who patiently puts up with him.
(4) The way she is constantly silent about things that bother her. She often doesn't speak up, and I need more characters who do speak up when they disagree with something, who do speak up, who face down the constant barrage of sexism and let the teenaged readers know that no, this is not ok, no, this is not something to demurely put up with and privately roll your eyes at like at a private quirk.
(5) The fact that the story conclusion manages to be simultaneously ableist and misogynistic.


Abdel-Fattah, Randa: Does My Head Look Big In This?
This novel detailing a "hyphenated Australian" teenager's experiences while wearing the hijab full time and her life in general offered me an interesting insight into multi-cultural Australia in the early 2000ies. I don't know much about this topic and the stories I'd heard before mostly detailed how horrid everything is for non-Anglo immigrants and especially for indigenous people.
Refreshingly, the author writes believable teenage girls that differ from each other in more than just one describing adjective (the NERDY one, the RELIGIOUS one, etc.). Many authors who write about teenagers can learn a LOT from this book, especially most of the insipid Fantasy romance types whose characters fall into this category.


Healy, Christopher: The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom.
This fairytale retelling mash-up of the stories of several Princes Charming won't change middle grade literature, but it's fun, will most likely be enjoyed by some the (rather younger) target demographic, and had us chuckling.
I didn't like the main twist, the one female dominated genre - NOW from a MALE perspective!! - a twist which doesn't really add much to anything ever, really, since it's the default, anyway.
Still, the characters really did grow on me, and towards the end I didn't mix them up anymore.
The language annoyed me at times because I don't think that some of the more slang-y elements will stand the test of time, but as I said before, this book doesn't seem to be designed to do so.
I'm a bit baffled as to who is the target demographic here, however. I think that it is supposed to be geared at boys under 10, but I can't see the boys under ten that I know read this. Girls, sure, but they don't really need the male perspective. For those boys (and they do exist!) who do enjoy fairy tales, I would have liked Frederic to retain some of his daintiness throughout the novel.
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