Friday, September 18, 2009

The Fire Rose by Mercedes Lackey

Mercedes Lackey is an old pleasure of mine that I'm only just rediscovering. She's most famous for her Valdemar books, a series with gazillions of books usually in trilogies, but she's written a lot of other things.

I pulled an all-nighter to finish this book, and I was doing Wiggles of Happy the entire time. I found myself alarming my cat by squealing incoherently as I turned pages.

What we have here is a brilliant gaslamp (steampunk but fantasy instead of sci-fi) reinterpretation of Beauty and the Beast. Rosalind Hawkins is left destitute by the death of her father, and has to travel across the country to take a tutoring job offered by the mysterious Jason Cameron. When she arrives she discovers that there are no children for her to tutor, and instead she will be translating old magic books for Jason because he has suffered a debilitating injury and is unable to read them himself.

Rose is a marvelous heroine, feminine and intelligent and vulnerable and resourceful. Jason is fascinating too, mysterious and larger than life, and undeniably sexy despite (or because of) his realistic flaws. The story is written mostly in third-person from Rose's point of view, but some sections switch to Jason's or Jason's secretary, Paul du Mond's. It was jarring the first few times, but I discovered that it allows the characters to plot individually and for us to know what's being planned without the characters knowing. The plot delivered on every promise it made, but using the plans characters made that were at odds, I never knew who was going to come out on top. There was a perfect blend of romance, mystery, and action.

The Fire Rose was immensely satisfying, detailed, and an utter joy to read. It is the first of Lackey's Elemental Masters series, all of which feature reinterpreted fairy tales in the same time period and system of magic, but not the same protagonists. I'd love to hear more about Rose and Jason, but I'm also looking forward to book 2, The Serpent's Shadow.

Some other Beauty and the Beast stories I found were Beast by Donna Jo Napoli, Beauty by Robin McKinley, Beastly by Alex Flinn, Belle by Cameron Dokey, and Rose Daughter also by Robin McKinley. These tend more toward "retellings" than "reinterpretations..." if you know of any more, let me know!

Buy The Fire Rose

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

District 9 starring Sharlto Copley

I saw this movie twice in two days, then spent several weeks trying to compose a review... And I just can't. I literally have no words for the unmitigated awesomeness that is this movie.

1 hour and 52 minutes long, rated R for bloody violence and pervasive language. It is VERY violent and disturbing, but there's a reason for that. Don't go if it's going to disturb you, but if you do go (and you should,) DON'T leave. You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll be shellshocked for days. Best movie ever.

Watch a trailer if you must, but other than that (if that much,) go in with as little preparation as possible. You really don't want to know what's coming, so I'm not going to tell you. Just go see it. Like I said, unmitigated awesomeness.

For those of you who have seen it, I recommend this site as a great place for intelligent discussion plus incoherent squeeage and rampant quoting. (No, I haven't posted anything there yet, because of this inability I have to say anything but "AAAAOMGOSHSQUEE," but I expect I will eventually.)

Buy District 9

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Wicked Game by Jeri Smith-Ready

Eh. Don't like it.

The main selling point for this novel is its new, interesting idea, and it IS new and interesting. Ciara, our reforming con artist protagonist, becomes the marketing rep for a vampire radio station. The vamps are OCD a la the old legends where you could keep them out of your house by scattering seeds or hanging a net, (they'd be distracted by counting the seeds and untying all the knots until sunrise,) and each one is mentally trapped in the time period when he or she died. That's why they have the radio station... Each one is a DJ with a show centered around the music that was popular when they were alive.

It's a really good idea! And it started off great, interesting and unexpected with a host of interesting characters, but then it just dwindled off into nothing. The good characters, (Monroe, Franklin, and Gideon) were the ones that got NO face time, the romance was well-paced but lacked a certain spark, and the plot was wibbly. Difficult to figure out what the plot was even supposed to be, and it was painfully predictable when it WAS there. It couldn't decide if it was a romance, a vampire fight or a "huge companies are evil" plot, so none of the plot elements worked, especially since the Designated Vampiric Villain seems nicer than the good guys and was only trying to defend himself. The magnificent idea Ciara has to save everybody really doesn't work, either.

I wound up hating all the characters that got any attention. I was rooting for the bad guy to just take 'em all out because they were all such jerks! Ciara started out strong and interesting, but the more we learned about her the more boring she got, and about halfway through the book she suddenly turned into an idiot and started letting everyone walk all over her.

I read a lot of good reviews for this one, but I didn't enjoy it.

Buy Wicked Game