Being brutally honest about books

Showing posts with label two stars. Show all posts
Showing posts with label two stars. Show all posts

Saturday, 25 March 2017

The good, the annoying, and the ugly: For The Most Beautiful by Emily Hauser

Insta love, Stockholm Syndrome, and sex = love in Troy.

I'm going to pick apart this novel, so beware of spoilers for both the book and the Trojan War (which is a millenia-old myth, but hey, not everyone knows it).

The good

  • Gorgeous cover!
  • Retelling of the Trojan War that focuses on women!
  • The gods are included! Every so often there's a chapter where we get to see their pettiness, and it's so entertaining.
  • The writing style is pretty good, easy to read, and I loved the aesthetic.

The annoying

  • Spelling Chryseis as Krisayis (the author wanted to show that Greeks and Trojans had different cultures)
  • I thought this book was going to focus on several different women (my mistake) but it only focuses on Briseis and Chryseis Krisayis. These girls are essential to the plot of the Iliad but are both slaves of the Greeks, so we don't get a range of perspectives.
  • The two main characters are very similar (see above) and I often got confused about which one I was reading about.
  • Where's Thetis? You know, the mother of Achilles, a sea nymph who's a fairly important part of the Trojan War? She's mentioned by other characters but doesn't appear with the other gods. She may be a lesser god, but she's still important to the plot. It was her wedding, after all, where the Thing happened that kind of caused the Trojan War. The Thing that the title For The Most Beautiful alludes to.
  • We see Patroclus from Briseis's perspective, but he's portrayed as a kind of boring character who doesn't fight and is rumoured to be Achilles's boy toy (according to Plato, Achilles was Patroclus's boy toy (yes, the Ancient Greeks had ship wars)). He seems to be in unrequited love with Achilles. This book isn't about Patroclus, but he deserves some credit.
  • Aeneas is a son of Priam in this book???? Why? Aeneas was the son of Anchises and Venus/Aphrodite (that's right, the goddess). He's unnecessary to the book, so it's even stranger that his parentage is changed.

The ugly

  • The Trojan War lasted 10 years. In this book, it lasts less than a year, kinda similar to Troy (2004). It's such a simple canon detail, and it's ignored without explanation. (NB if you want to create a good work of fiction, don't do anything Troy did.)
  • The romances are really sudden and not developed. The romance tropes used include insta love, Stockholm Syndrome, and sex = love. Briseis's actual thought process: Wow, my fiancĂ© I've never met before is hot, I'm in love. *few months later* Achilles killed my husband so I will not sleep with him. *nek minnit* Achilles killed my family, I'm definitely never sleeping with him. Oh, he's apologised, I'm going to sleep with him now. Forgive me if I can't relate.
  • If it passes the Bechdel test, I don't remember it. A shame for a book intended to represent the forgotten women of the Trojan War.

The conclusion

This was a disappointing read, but I didn't put it down, so that's a point in its favour. 2.5 stars. If you're after a feminine (or feminist) retelling of the Trojan War that adheres to the mythology, look elsewhere.

    The summary

    Three thousand years ago a war took place that gave birth to legends - to Achilles, the greatest of the Greeks, and Hector, prince of Troy. It was a war that made - and destroyed - both men, a war that shook the very foundations of the world. But what if there was more to this epic conflict? What if there was another, hidden tale of the Trojan War that had yet to be told?

    Now is that time - time for the women of Troy to tell their story.

    Thrillingly imagined and startlingly original, For the Most Beautiful reveals the true story of true for the first time. The story of Krisayis, daughter of the Trojans' High Priest, and of Briseis, princess of Pedasus, who fight to determine the fate of a city and its people in this ancient time of mischievous gods and mythic heroes.

    In a novel full of passion and revenge, loyalty and betrayal, bravery and sacrifice, Emily Hauser breathes exhilarating new life into one of the greatest legends of all - in a story that has waited millennia to be told.

    Add it on Goodreads

    Monday, 22 December 2014

    The Jewel (The Lone City #1) by Amy Ewing

    The Jewel (The Lone City, #1) 
    Date finished: 22 December 2014

    I wouldn't say this book was bad, but I didn't enjoy it. I just got frustrated and couldn't see any good points. I only picked it up because my mum gave it to me and said it's meant to be good, but it was a waste of time for me.

    Okay, the good: The cover. The Jewel has a beautiful cover. So much so that I didn't want to take it with me on holiday because I didn't want to ruin it. Looking at the gorgeous cover lures you into wanting to read it.

    Now, the bad. First things first: I cannot stress enough how sick I am of dystopian. This story could be set in a fantasy or sci-fi world and still work, but no. It has to be dystopia. Because that's what all the popular books are these days. And I'm tired of it. Every author wants to write the next Hunger Games or the next Divergent, and if every one of them did that, there would be no original stories anymore.

    The worldbuilding is problematic. Why do they have to be protected from the ocean? Why is the city in that particular shape? Who is the government/in charge? (If it's the Exetor and the Electress, that needs to be made clearer.) Why the hell do the Augeries exist? If the surrogate/Auction thing has been going on for so long and the surrogates are brought up knowing what they have to do, why do they question it? See, I love a good revolution, but there seems to be no reason for them to rebel against what they have known for years will happen to them, when they have already accepted it. And there aren't exactly revolutionaries (that we are aware of) spreading their propaganda. These questions could be answered in the next book in the series, but if there's going to be some big reveal, then there should be more emphasis on what we do know.

    I honestly couldn't understand why Violet hated the Duchess so early on. She seemed to be a fair mistress, and Violet was lucky to be sold to someone who isn't as cruel as the other royal women. I think it would have made sense for Violet to like the Duchess at first - then when she found out what the Duchess expected her to do in regards to enhancing the baby, there could have been some big betrayal and their relationship could break down.

    Oh yes, there is also the problem of insta love. Violet falls in love with Ash because... why, exactly? Because he's hot? Because he likes music too? Because she thinks he's like her - trapped? So is everyone else in the city! This infuriated me. I think he could have been a cool character, if they hadn't fallen for each other at first sight. It's a shame, because he had potential to be awesome.

    Somehow, the writing annoyed me. It was too...polished. Too perfect. That probably doesn't make sense, because writers spend a lot of time making sure their novel is perfect. And yet, in The Jewel it just doesn't seem genuine. Maybe I simply didn't like the style it's written in? Maybe I didn't like the protagonist's voice, if she even had one? I can't explain it.

    As a recently self-diagnosed tokophobic, I could at least empathise with Violet's desperation to not get pregnant and carry the Duchess's baby. The whole surrogacy thing made me uneasy, and all I wanted was for her to get out of there. I'm not sure if that was sympathy for Violet, though, or my own anxiety speaking. But I hated that she didn't get free yet. Also, the twist at the ending infuriated me! I like Garnet, and I want to know more about his involvement in Violet's escape, but I also don't want to read the next book.

    Anyway, I had a lot of problems with this book. The ideas were good, they just weren't executed well. I didn't like it, but I didn't hate it either, thus the two star rating.
    I'm Alexandria, a 19-year-old reader/writer/blogger from New Zealand. I love language, history, and sci-fi. Hi! I'm always around if you want to talk, which you can do via comments, the contact form, or Facebook.

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