The kids were having fun and I was shooting photos so I could have fun, too.
This year my music listening is under-counted because of a few factors. 1) Spotify scrobbling stopped working at work, 2) I listened to a lot of bandcamp at work (not scrobbled), and 3) for K-Pop I mostly just watch it on Youtube (not scrobbled). That said, I have been listening to music slightly more often. I’ve spent the last couple months listening to music that I’ve never listened to on my computer (as far as Amarok knows), so while that’s contributed to scrobbles, it’s going to mean that the scrobbles are going to be long-tail, ie they won’t make dents in the counts of top artists, songs, etc.
Interestingly, only The Beatles, Ramin Djawadi, and Chance were on this list last year.
1. The PDX Broadsides (350 listens) – When The Doubleclicks mentioned The PDX Broadsides in one of their Kickstarter updates, I checked them out on bandcamp. A few days later I ended up joining their Kickstarter for Trust Issues and buying their entire discography. They’re a fun little band that mostly tackle geek genres.
2. Jonathan Coulton (348 listens) – JoCo had a new album this year. I got addicted to All this Time and subsequently bought the album and accompanying graphic novel.
3. The Doubleclicks (186 listens) – I Kickstarted their latest album, Love Problems. Almost all the scrobbles come from listening to this one album.
4. Cast – Elena of Avalor (137 listens) – Scarlett wanted the soundtrack from Elena of Avalor. We listened to it a lot while driving around.
5. The Beatles (123 listens) – They’re always there.
6. Celia Cruz (97 listens) – I always love listening to Celia. AZUCAR!
7. Beny Moré (87 listens) – I rediscovered Beny Moré via Spotify, I started listening to him even more.
8. Marian Call (80 listens) – While on the bandcamp page for The PDX Broadsides, I was recommended Marian Call. Good call (pun not intended) by Bandcamp. I loved her muisc and bought many of her albums.
9. Mark Mancina (77 listens) – From the Moana soundtrack.
10. Willy Chirino (77 listens) – Reminds me of my childhood.
11. Anberlin (66 listens) – After remembering that they’d disbanded, got nostalgic for the music, especially the earlier stuff.
12. I Fight Dragons (66 listens) – I’d stopped listening for a bit and then the announced they were working on a new album and are releasing demo tracks via Patreon. Started listening to both the demo tracks and old stuff.
13. Anchor & Braille (58 listens) – On reddit, someone mentioned this group had some of the members from Anberlin, so I checked out Songs for the Late Night Drive Home. It was pretty good although the songs are a bit samey.
14. Lana Del Rey (57 listens) – Mostly from listening to her song from The Great Gatsby soundtrack.
15. Sleigh Bells (55 listens) – From listening to their latest album on Spotify as well as some of their older stuff.
16. Valerie June (55 listens) – just from listening to Pushin’ Against A Stone on Spotify.
17. Chance the Rapper (53 listens) – I finally started appreciating Coloring Book.
18. Ramin Djawadi (53 listens) – Westworld Soundtrack.
19. OK Go (50 listens) – I got back into their music videos which got me back into listening to their music.
20. Thelonious Monk (50 listens) – as always I love his take on Duke Ellington.
1. Jonathan Coulton — Solid State (163 listens)
2. Cast – Elena of Avalor — Elena of Avalor (Original Soundtrack) (137 listens)
3. The PDX Broadsides — Trust Issues (125 listens)
4. The Doubleclicks — Love Problems (98 listens)
5. Mark Mancina — Moana: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (77 listens)
6. The PDX Broadsides — Something’s Rotten (69 listens)
7. The PDX Broadsides — Aim To Misbehave (58 listens)
8. Anchor & Braille — Songs for the Late Night Drive Home (58 listens)
9. Ramin Djawadi — Westworld: Season 1 (Music from the HBO® Series) (53 listens)
10. Valerie June — Pushin’ Against A Stone (51 listens)
11. Celia Cruz — The Absolute Collection Disc 1 (51 listens)
12. Willy Chirino — Asere (50 listens)
13. Thelonious Monk — Plays Duke Ellington (46 listens)
14. Chance the Rapper — Coloring Book (45 listens)
15. Celia Cruz — The Absolute Collection Disc 2 (45 listens)
16. Jonathan Coulton — Artificial Heart (44 listens)
17. Auliʻi Cravalho — Moana: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (42 listens)
18. Jonathan Coulton — JoCo Looks Back (41 listens)
19. Beny Moré — Lo Mejor de Cuba, Vol. 2 (39 listens)
20. Marian Call — Standing Stones (38 listens)
1. Lana Del Rey — Young and Beautiful (29 listens)
2. Christopher Jackson, Rachel House, Nicole Scherzinger, Auliʻi Cravalho & Louise Bush — Where You Are (23 listens)
3. Auliʻi Cravalho — How Far I’ll Go (22 listens)
4. Jemaine Clement — Shiny (21 listens)
5. Dwayne Johnson — You’re Welcome (21 listens)
6. Jonathan Coulton — All This Time (20 listens)
7. Auliʻi Cravalho — How Far I’ll Go (reprise) (20 listens)
8. Opetaia Foaʻi & Lin‐Manuel Miranda — We Know the Way (20 listens)
9. Vai Mahina, Sulata Foaʻi‐Amiatu & Matthew Ineleo — An Innocent Warrior (18 listens)
10. Olivia Foaʻi, Opetaia Foaʻi & Talaga Steve Sale — Logo Te Pate (17 listens)
11. Jonathan Coulton — Solid State (15 listens)
12. Cast – Elena of Avalor — Blow My Top (14 listens)
13. Rachel House & Auliʻi Cravalho — I Am Moana (Song of the Ancestors) (14 listens)
14. Olivia Foaʻi — Tulou Tagaloa (14 listens)
15. Cast – Elena of Avalor — Festival of Love (13 listens)
16. Cast – Elena of Avalor — My Time (13 listens)
17. Jonathan Coulton — Pictures of Cats (13 listens)
18. Jerry Rivera — Ese (12 listens)
19. Kristen Bell;Idina Menzel — For the First Time in Forever (reprise) (12 listens)
20. The PDX Broadsides — I Go Both Ways (12 listens)
It’s a testament to how entrenched these are that only Anberlin, The Beatles, Jonathan Coulton, and I Fight Dragons had enough listens to make the top artists and yet many of the artists that have been top artists for years now remain. JoCo has the possibility of moving up 1-2 slots in 2018 and if I really like the new IFD album, they could finally overtake Gnarls Barkley.
1. Fantastic Plastic Machine (3,606 listens)
2. Anberlin (2,834 listens)
3. Five Iron Frenzy (2,746 listens)
4. The Beatles (2,549 listens)
5. Relient K (1,938 listens)
6. “Weird Al” Yankovic (1,728 listens)
7. Fall Out Boy (1,318 listens)
8. Gnarls Barkley (1,124 listens)
9. I Fight Dragons (1,077 listens)
10. Gwen Stefani (908 listens)
11. Jonathan Coulton (901 listens)
12. DC Talk (896 listens)
13. Tom Lehrer (895 listens)
14. Andrea Echeverri (894 listens)
15. Lostprophets (845 listens)
No real changes here.
1.Clap Your Hands Say Yeah — Over and Over Again (Lost and Found) (116 listens)
2. Clap Your Hands Say Yeah — Upon This Tidal Wave of Young Blood (116 listens)
3. Jonathan Coulton — The Princess Who Saved Herself (111 listens)
4.Fantastic Plastic Machine — Take Me To The Disco [Malibu Mix] (104 listens)
5. Fantastic Plastic Machine — Steppin’ Out (102 listens)
6. Gnarls Barkley — Who Cares (99 listens)
7. Gnarls Barkley — Just a Thought (93 listens)
8. 4minute — Cut it Out (92 listens)
9. Anberlin — Audrey, Start The Revolution! (87 listens)
10. Gnarls Barkley — The Last Time (87 listens)
11. Andrea Echeverri — Quédate (85 listens)
12. Gnarls Barkley — St. Elsewhere (85 listens)
13. Fantastic Plastic Machine — Love Is Psychedelic (83 listens)
14. Gnarls Barkley — Smiley Faces (83 listens)
15. Gnarls Barkley — Crazy (82 listens)
Scrobbles at End of 2017: 106,549 (crossed that 100k!)
Scrobbles in 2017: 7003 – a little more than last year (about 800ish) which tracks with my feelings that I listened a bit more.
I got the book as a part of a bundle, and I’ll say that the cover (same as the one currently associated with the book on Goodreads – a red-head in a backless top and black pants) kept me away from the book for a while. It seemed it might not be up my alley. Interestingly, the cover is a counter-example to the Trope “Covers always Lie” (mostly attributable to comic book covers). It is essentially a depiction of the opening scene of the novel.
Just what is this novel? It takes place in an alternate Earth in which the existence of fantasy humanoids – witches, vampires, werewolves, pixies, and fairies – is common knowledge after an incident that took place in the 1960s. Geographically, it takes place in Cincinnati, Ohio. There is essentially a human side of town and an Inderlander (the fantasy creatures) side of town. Our main character works for the Inderlander version of the FBI when the novel starts. The meat of the story is both setting up this universe for the sequels and our protagonist’s quest to find the evidence necessary to bring in a mob boss who is careful to maintain a legitimate front. It’s a fun cop plot with all the usual tropes coated in urban fantasy paint.
As usual with fantasy or urban fantasy, a lot of the fun comes from learning the rules that govern the fantasy world of THIS book. Ms. Harrison has taken the trope of vampirism as metaphor for sexuality to 11 with this world. A lot of vampire rituals involve sexual acts and vamps essentially glamor their victims into lusting after then. Additionally, a lot of that can feedback on itself where the more a vamp gets in the mood, the more they make the human in the mood and on and on. Some of the scenes involving a vamp are among the most sensual I’ve read in 2017.
I’m not hooked on the characters and the settings. With all the sequel-laden books I have on my list, I don’t think I’m going to continue in this world. It’s a fun one and Ms. Harrison does a good job taking us on a fun, sexy journey. But I’m drowning in books to read, so a series has to have just that right hook to keep me going.
I finally got the last hardcover book and I can read Chew in its entirety. I’ve only read the first five trades. After that the anticipation was driving me nuts, so I resolved to wait until the series was done to read it all in one shot. That’s what I’ve just started this week. In the end, I’ll have a massive review of the series. Today entry #3.
It seems that, to round off the first 1/4 of the planned 60 issues of Chew, the author has chosen to bring together all the plots from the previous issues. We see the return of many characters including the awesome Poyo. And the cliff-hanger at the end of issue 15 is even a callback to something from the first book. I think this series continues to impress with its twists and turns. And the humor continues to be great. All these books should be in your library.
A good interstitial trade. It continues to pay off dividends on plots started in the first book while setting up plots that will be important in the upcoming trades. At the same time it is a return to the police-work and keeps the series from going off the rails too early.
I finally got the last hardcover book and I can read Chew in its entirety. I’ve only read the first five trades. After that the anticipation was driving me nuts, so I resolved to wait until the series was done to read it all in one shot. That’s what I’ve just started this week. In the end, I’ll have a massive review of the series. Today entry #2.
Chew: International Flavor # 1 – Chew: International Flavor
This book is just as great as the first one. We take a bit of a pause from what I believe to be the main storyline – the reason Mason left. Still, there are plot threads from the first book that get some more play in this book. So it’s not ignoring continuity at all, but it is definitely taking its time to get to resolution.
A large portion of this book takes place on a Micronesian Island that has a plant that tastes just like chicken. Tony goes on a trip to see what that plant is and how it’s connected to an early case. We also get to see his new partner.
Overall, the same humor continues from before and the art style continues to work perfectly with the writing. The art does tend to impossibly busty women, but I feel that it helps to convey the crazy exaggerated feel of the book and isn’t exploitative. I definitely can’t wait to get to the next book.
Interestingly, I wrote almost the exact same stuff in my notes. The only thing I’d add is that it’s funny I had no idea how big of a role Poyo would eventually play.
I finally got the last hardcover book and I can read Chew in its entirety. I’ve only read the first five trades. After that the anticipation was driving me nuts, so I resolved to wait until the series was done to read it all in one shot. That’s what I’ve just started this week. In the end, I’ll have a massive review of the series.
I first read this book in 2011, but I guess I wasn’t writing reviews on goodreads back then. However I did find my review on my blog. Here’s the original 2011 review (2017 review below):
When my younger brother explained the premise of ‘Chew’ to me, I thought it was the dumbest thing I’d ever heard. This guy can see memories of whatever he eats. So eating is a real pain for him because he feels the slaughter. He tastes the fertilizer used on the plant. How could anyone ever make a comic out of that? And it’d won awards? WTF?
Then he told me about how Tony Chu worked for the FDA and that they were essentially like the FBI in this comic world. And, after the bird flu, chicken was banned in the US and it had become like alcohol in the 1920s. My interest was piqued. Then he brought the comic over to my house. I really dug the art style. It looks similar to a style that the Penny Arcade guys have used from time to time.
He left me the first three graphic novels to read. After finishing the first one, I have to say that you NEED to read this. This book is a dose of creativity that’s missing from the mainstream comics. Don’t get me wrong – I’m reading and loving a bunch of typical super hero stories by the big two publishers – but we need a lot more amazingly creative ideas like Chew if we want to keep the comic book industry alive.
I don’t think it’s printed anywhere on the outside of the book, so just a fair warning that this is essentially an organized crime story. There are guns, blood, and crazy violence. There is profanity. This book is not for the dainty or for young children.
The first time I read this I was in WTF mode. Going back and reading this, Layman’s comedic timing is pretty incredible. The pacing and punchlines are great, even when it’s less of a surprise than it was the first time around. I also like the way Layman doles out the cibo-powers. One of my faves for this book is the hospital reveal. With knowledge of only the first five trades, it’s also interesting how much foreshadowing Layman packs into the first book. I don’t think I even gave the frogs all over the one scene much thought.
As per usual for anthologies, a collection of my status updates:
“Interrogate my Heart Instead” – an interrogation in a fascist regime that goes to some interesting places because of its brevity and the look inside the interrogator’s head.
“What Blooms in Winter” – HOLY MOLY! Now, that’s a poem.
“Double Prints” – BAM. Raw, raw poetry!
“Tears in the River” – Some kind of deal with devil for guitar playing skills in the 40s in Germany. Very interesting tone, scenery, and characters.
“The Cinnamon Forest” – a very cute fairytale. Brought me back to my childhood days of hearing European fairytales.
“Gregory finds his way” – That was pretty trippy.
“Voice of the Witch” – Ha, a poem about Hansel and Gretel.
“The Daimyo’s Harigata” – I had no idea what a harigata was before reading this. I did a google define search and…well. Let’s just say that the author puts this to good use in a plot I didn’t see coming at all. It’s also full of great dark humor.
“A Thug Like Me” – a great story; worth of neo-pulp status. I really, really enjoyed it. Every bit, including the slight 4th wall breakage near the end.
“Watching You” – fun poem
“Woman in White” – Another great example of neo-pulp. Very dark & tailored to the base senses. Also, good, surprise ending.
“Beauty and the Punchline” – mystery that’s also somewhat urban fantasy? At least that’s what I think from the ending. Despite the weird ending that I’m not 100% sure about, I think the reveal is pretty good and only just barely saw it coming at the last minute.
“The Battle of Hutchinson’s Crossroads” – that was such a great ending. And so good at showing the emotion of war.
“In the nick of Mime” – a pretty funny take on the spy thriller short story.
“Daddy’s Little Girl” – a neat story about a paparazzi and his mark. It didn’t go where I thought it would, but I’m glad. It was a good story.
A series of gruesome poems
“Last of the Irish Rover” – a sailor’s tale
“Murder Knife” – a creepy story told in a reverse chronology.
“Knock-Knock” – Pretty hilarious deconstruction and reconstruction of the Christian afterlife
“Meat Bag” – That was a surprise given the title. Somewhat scary considering it’s something that could truly happen. But scary in the sense that humanity can be all about the money sometimes instead of compassion.
“Influx Capacitor” – Hilarious take on time travel paradox
Some funny poems
“Live today, forget tomorrow” – super short story, but GREAT twist!
“Saturday Station” – neat dystopian story
Book #71 for 2017 was this gem I’d overlooked on previous trawls through Calibre to select which book I’d read next. I’d have to check Calibre later to check my tags, but I’m pretty sure I got this book from one of the Storybundles – maybe Steampunk or maybe Alternate History. Either one works given what we learn of the world throughout the book. This is a long-winded way of saying that I didn’t choose this book on its own merits, I own it because it was part of a bundle I found interesting.
I’m no Steampunk know-it-all, I’m just a fan of the genre. But what I like about Lumière is that the steampunk elements are window dressing rather than the main focus. Compare it to the difference between a movie with 3D as a gimmick vs using 3D as an element of the storytelling or simply to add depth. Lumière is an example of the latter. Yes, there is an inexplicable device at the center of this plot, but it’s neither a MacGuffin nor does it dominate the story. Outside of that, there are a few devices used here and there, but it’s mostly a Victorian society with some tech that straddles steampunk and magic. It’s almost Urban Steampunk Fantasy if things aren’t being called magic by unreliable narrators.
So, if it’s not a story for tech’s sake or a caper (as many steampunk novels seem to be), what is it? Well, it’s mostly a character study with hints of romanticism and also using the Victorian setting to comment on both feminism and superstition. Let’s take these one at a time, even if this review is going to end up getting a bit rambly.
While I love the things Ms. Garlick does differently than most Steampunk novels, I also enjoy one thing she does that seems to be a staple of steampunk – have a female protagonist. (Well, to be accurate, somewhere around the midpoint it becomes a multiple point of view novel in which one of the POVs is a male) I don’t know why this segment of SF ends up so female-centric vs traditional SF, but I think it’s a good thing. We need more females – especially written by women. There is a different tone to things – thought processes, gaze (as in male gaze or female gaze), pacing, and of course the way love/sex/attraction is treated. Of course, men can succeed at this and women can succeed at the exact opposite, but there’s just something about writing what you know that tends to work out better. And, as a male-bodied person, it’s always refreshing for me to see things from a different point of view. And I could be completely speaking out of turn, but I think it’s this female-writer influence that strongly affected the way the one bit of female/female conflict plays out.
Sticking with Eyelet, our main character, I also enjoyed a rising trend I’ve noticed in indie SF and fantasy – including a protagonist who isn’t neurotypical. I’ve noticed a lot more autistic or spectrum heroes recently. Eyelet isn’t autistic, but she does suffer from seizures. Of course, in a Victorian society women are more vulnerable than now (although with all the news recently you wonder, don’t you?) because they are legally second-class citizens. Eyelet, as brilliant women have done in the real world, struggles against this and the view of women as too weak for strenuous work and thought and then has to deal with something that seems to prove she’s too weak that she has no control over. Additionally, it obviously puts her at greater bodily harm risk both sexually (which I don’t remember being in this book – again probably because it’s not written by a guy) but also from passing out at the wrong time – which is something she deals with as the plot needs. Of course, it’s also worse for her as Ms. Garlick explores the issues with science giving way to superstition and a somewhat accurate explanation of what we used to do to people who had disabilities even if they were disabilities that allowed them to function well in society most of the time. Victorians through to the modern period finding people deathly afraid of shame.
As a character study based on POV chapters, most of Eyelet and Ulrick’s (the guy) growth comes from the fact that they had imperfect knowledge surrounding their circumstances. So they force each other to grow as they literally take each other out of their figurative cocoons. (Eyelet from her city and Ulrick from his fortress-home) Ulrick had two paths available to him as a disfigured outcast – to become the most macho-est of machos or withdrawn. Ms. Garlick goes with withdrawn. This leads to fun moments as Ms. Garlick plays with the trope of “OH MY GOD YOU SHOWED AN ANKLE!” that makes fun of our nudity taboos by pointing out how strict they were back then. That they are both outcasts makes the subplot between them a fun bit of tension that you can see somewhat reflected in my status updates rather than a boring cliche. Speaking of breaking cliches, I love that (view spoiler)[Ms. Garlick allows them to have a scene where they consent to having sex while having it almost immediately interrupted before they can do more than cop a quick feel. First of all, the beginning of the scene where they fumble into getting consent rather than just go for the “we just got through a stressful time, let’s bone” was so sweet to read. These two introverts coming out of their shells for each other. Each having thought themselves unworthy of love, let alone carnal pleasure. Second, it’s just fun to upend things. (hide spoiler)]
The growth of the main characters was great as well as necessary. Because the one and only complaint I have is that the book doesn’t end the plot. Yes, something major happens, but it’s not like The Matrix (first movie) or The Hunger Games that tells a complete story. Yes, there’s more to be done – hence the trilogies – but you could read the first book, stop, and be happy. This book 100% ends with a wink at the audience (ALMOST literally) that the characters will be back. I know, I know – we haven’t gone 100% digital yet so books have to be a certain length to fit in people’s hands. But I think a trilogy should expand on an already completed story, not exist simply because it would be absurd to have a 1000 page book. (Tell that to GRRM) Anyway, my gripe is over. It was a great story of character growth and that was good enough.
Anyway, there’s a lot left unexplored at the end. If you’ve read my reviews before, you know that’s not enough by itself to guarantee I’ll come back. I won’t DNF a book because I have to see how the book ends, but I feel no such compulsion against series. When it comes to The Illumination Paradox ……. I CAN’T WAIT TO READ THE NEXT TWO. I’ll have to wait because I have a long TBR list, but I have added the books to my to read list and will probably be getting to them in a few months. (Unless the Winds of Winter comes out)
I’m probably forgetting some stuff I wanted to comment on, but that’s what the comments section of Goodreads (and my blog when this ends up there) are for.
disclaimer: I was in the Kickstarter for this
I was excited about this project because we need a laugh from politics now. Also, it was going to be style parodies of various magazines. But, I forgot something – humor is very subjective. And so I often found myself wondering when I was going to finally finish this blasted thing. Just as with my biggest criticism of SNL for the past decade or so – the smaller articles tended to work best. The longer ones just stretched what was usually a pretty thin joke even thinner.
This is the first creative thing I’ve kickstarted where I wish I’d just saved my money. Oh well.
I recieved this book in exchange for a review (I think – I can’t remember, but I know it was something I either got for review or as a free prime read-ahead book)
This book combined a few things I enjoy: space sci-fi, religion, first contact, and thriller mysteries. Overall the combination works well. Paskoff does a good job nesting the mysteries so that the reader is still discovering new truths about the plot at the 95% mark. I also appreciate that Paskoff knows his strengths and weaknesses and so does fade to black sex scenes rather than subjecting us to potential entries to the awkward sex scenes article the guardian puts out every year.
There is a plot point that appears to borrow from a CS Lewis series and I like the way Paskoff rolls with it.
Since it’s a mystery, I don’t want to get into too many plot points. But I will mention that I think Paskoff did a good job of building up even many of the smaller characters. The reader does end up feeling strongly about what happens to them.
While this book started off kind of slowly, it does eventually pick up and get pretty darn interesting. The story begins with the last of the nomes making a desperate play to try and leave their lives behind because they’re in danger of going extinct. The lack of nomes doesn’t leave them with enough “manpower” to hunt or keep predators away. They end up at a department store and discover that thousands of nomes live there.
At that point the plotting picks up and the story becomes a satire of blindly following religion in the face of opposing proof, a satire of politics, and a fish out of water story. There are lots of cute jokes around what the nomes have interpreted about human culture since they’re unable to understand humans. If you remember Disney’s The Little Mermaid – think about the way Scuttle describes the human artifacts to Ariel.
The book eventually drops its plot twist: (view spoiler)[nomes used to be an incredibly advanced and space-faring race and kick-starated human technology to try and get back to space after they crash-landed on Earth. But over the thousands of years they lost knowledge of all that. (hide spoiler)].
I didn’t find it as funny or well-plotted as his Discworld books, but it was only his second attempt at a YA book. And Nation was awesome, if not comical at all.
Give it a shot if you’re a Pratchett completionist. I think it eventually redeems itself, but I wouldn’t recommend that you go out of your way to read it.
The story of Tally Youngblood is over. At least, the Extras chapters that were included at the end of this book seemed to suggest it was a kind of epilogue to the Tally Trilogy.
I didn’t like this book as much as the the first two. The thing is, I can’t quite put my finger on why that is. Westerfield certainly writes great chapter-ending cliffhangers. This is probably one of the fastest completion times of any books I’ve read this year. It pulled me in enough that I spent the last few nights reading for half an hour before passing out asleep. Yet, as a whole it didn’t pull me in. My pop-psychology studies have warned me that trying to put a finger on why you like or dislike something tends to end up with your brain making up a plausible answer that isn’t necessarily the right answer. But, I guess if I had to put my finger on it it’s that some of the wins like (view spoiler)[ Shay converting over in Diego (hide spoiler)] felt a little unearned after all the animosity between them. The book, for all its setup (especially if you include Pretties) seems a little rushed at the end.
That said, there was a lot to recommend about this book. More than the other two books, it really does a great job of making the case that there is no perfect society. We often read these dystopic books in which it’s implied that everything will be awesome if society can lift the yoke and become like us. And that ignores that we’ve got a lot of bad stuff going on even among our time of great personal freedom. Westerfield shows both the positive and negative aspects of Tally’s world, our world, and the potential new world. In fact, Tally’s final chapter is a thesis about still needing some checks on freedom.
In world building, it’s fun to see Westerfield make a nod to another SF staple – grey goo. If you haven’t heard of it, it’s a possible human-made destructive scenario where we make self-replicating nano-machines that go awry and replicate over the entire world, consuming it all for the resources to replicate. Even though it’s mention in the other two books, this book also really brought home the fact that the world has reverted to city-states in the sense of Ancient Greece.
In other random things, while Shay and Tally fail the Bechdel Test (the source of all their friction is conflict over a boy), I did think it work to convey how at that age (they’re 16 – we’ll return to that later) relationships with those you’re attracted to can destroy your platonic relationships. Speaking of relationships, I thought the Tally/Zane arc was a good, if heightened, example of caring for someone who had once had all their faculties, but was now a little more frail. (Think of someone going through alzheimer’s or getting into a paralyzing accident) I also enjoyed the interesting body modifications we see late in the book.
In things I wasn’t quite a fan of, there was the cutting. I was a pretty straight-laced kid. No drugs or booze or cutting. I was a fair deal more religious then so most of my internal drama came from the tug of war of wanting to mess around with girls and finding a way to square that with the man upstairs. So I don’t know what goes through the mind of those who are or have been cutters. (or even if it’s offensive or demeaning to put their mental state into such a trivial word – cutter) But for a YA book I was left unsure of how I felt about Tally getting into a higher mind state from her cutting. I’m not into censorship. And I think kids and teens tend to be smarter about things than we give them credit. But it made me feel weird. Maybe that’s just an artifact of being older/being a parent. The other thing that was slightly odd was that Tally’s naked a lot in the latter half of this book. And that probably wouldn’t have been as squicky had the book not constantly reminded me that she was 16. So…yeah…..
But talking about 16, I think that was one thing that threw me off on this trilogy. Tally does and goes through a LOT and I think only a year or so has passed. When she has that thought somewhere near the end it through me for a bit of a loop. So she went from the uglyville to the smoke prettytown to specials in the span of a year? Plus all the stuff that’s happened (that I don’t want to spoil) in the cities since the second book. It seems a bit much.
Overall, I think it was a good ending to Tally’s story. She has some good personal growth. The world is different, but it’s not like suddenly everything’s rainbows and unicorns. It’s not my favorite ending to a trilogy, but it’s not bad and I’m glad I went on that hoverboard ride.