Every Heart a Doorway

The girls were never present for the entrance interviews.

I always feel so fancy when I’m offered books, even though it’s through a subscription and it’s me and a gazillion others. Hey, it’s still a free (e)book!

Every Heart a Doorway had been mentioned in the online reader circles I visit, viewing it as the Messiah of LGBQT-friendly YA versus ‘there was an attempt’. So basically, the usual range of opinions online.

All the characters in this tiny novel (little over 100 pages) once visited a fairy-ish world and are now back in the world as we know it. To deal with this, and to temper their hopes on ever return again, they’re at a school. Some come from gruesome worlds involving death and/or vampires, some lived in technicolour happy worlds.

Like being lost in your supposed home world isn’t enough to deal with, murders start to happen.

I’m on the ‘moh’ side of opinions. This novel feels like a set up for something bigger and possibly better. And LGBQT-friendly? One of the characters seems to be trans*, while an other calls herself asexual. It’s mentioned in passing, not as a main, defining point. Which is good, but I wouldn’t use it as its unique selling point. What is? I don’t really think it has one.

Every Heart a Doorway, Seanan McGuire,

The Library at Mount Char

Carolyn, blood-drenched and barefoot, walked alone down the two-lane stretch of blacktop that the Americans called Highway 78.

This is one book that could do with the cleaning up of of TV-script writer. There’s so much violence, described in detail, that could be put away behind an (atmospheric) description or implication instead.

While the plot’s got plenty of things going for it. Mysterious not-alien, godlike but not gods creatures that look like humans, call themselves librarians but are able to do about anything? International mythic elements used to show these skills and knowledge, and something going on underneath the surface to spur things into action? Yes, yes, and yes.

But then there’s a conclusion that can elicit little more than a ‘mwoh’, possibly also because you’ve been beaten into a pulp by all the abuse, rape, murder and torture.  So maybe Scott Hawkins can release his notes about the world he build, and give someone else a chance with it. That way we get more of the story behind the librarians, and less of the blood and pain that made them the way they are.

The Library at Mount Char, Scott Hawkins, Crown Publishers 2015

The Chimes

I’ve been standing here forever.

Maybe just another case of bad timing, but this time I didn’t even bother finishing the book. Of course I feel slightly bad about that.

Maybe if I wouldn’t have had read Homegoing before, the difference wouldn’t have been so big. I was ready to be swept off my feet again, instead I had to push myself through unrecognisable clunks of ..probably what was supposed to have been plot.

The Chimes are a thing that turned England, or maybe the entirety of the UK, or the world – a thing that uses music to control people and make it unable for people to remember. Some manage to put their memories into objects, but it’s still hard to have a past.

So, there is a nice element to built a world upon, but why does it feel like the author was paid per word? Several times I felt like I was close to a clue, only to have the story going into another direction again. None of the characters had any pull on me, to cheer them on or dislike them. For a story littered with music related terms, the rhythm was completely off.

The Chimes, Anna Small, Sceptre 2015

The Abyss Surrounds Us

Any other morning, I’d dive into Durga’s observation bay without hesitation, but this is the day before my life begins.

Scifi pirate lesbians with mutant turtles! In the ocean(s)! Honestly, if that’s not up your alley, I don’t know what else to say to sell you on this (again, short) story.

In a world where huge, mutated sea creatures defend all kind of ships, Cass Leung’s maiden voyage as a trainer of one, goes completely belly up. Yes, because of the previously mentioned pirates.

Emily Skrutskie creates a steampunk-ish, Guillermo del Toro-ish (I’m thinking Pacific Rim) world that’s honestly ripe for the taking by any television-bobo’s, it’s such a complete package. Entertaining, different, diverse characters, fun, action, romance, bam bam boom.

Is there going to be a sequel? Could well be. Is it necessary? Not exactly, if you’re looking for a very quick read (again, just 200 pages in the e-reader), you’re more than fine with this one. After that, pay it forward into the direction of the Hollywood hotshots you know.

The Abyss Surrounds Us, Emily Skrutskie, Flux 2016

De Graces

Iedereen zei dat het heksen waren.

Ik weet verdorie niet meer wie dit me had aangeraden, want daar wil ik graag even een hartig woordje mee spreken. Brr, YA volgens het cliché boekje. En werd het op de achterkant ook nog aangeraden voor fans van Twilight en Beautiful Creatures. Had ik nu maar van te voren het boek opgegeven.

De echte naam van de hoofdpersoon leren we niet eens; zij besluit zichzelf eens River te noemen en daar doet iedereen aan mee. River dus, en ze is nieuw in een kleine stad en al snel wordt ze net zo betoverd en/of obsessief met de mysterieuze familie die al tijden daar woont. En mysterieus is.

Maar met River is er ook Iets Aan De Hand. Daarvoor wordt de lezer zo’n tweehonderd pagina’s aan het lijntje gehouden, terwijl de mysterieuze familie al snel gewoon wat eleganter dan de rest lijkt. De andere karakters mogen tweedimensionaal blijven, River krijgt alle ruimte om onduidelijk en chagrijnig te zijn.

Is er dan misschien nog iets van een uitsmijter, een diamantje in de modder? Neuh. Zelfs als River eindelijk de boel uitlegt, wordt het lauwwarm geserveerd met een duidelijke opening voor boek twee. Ze mag het doen zonder mij.

De Graces, Laure Eve, Van Goor 2016

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword

126 min.

Voor een Guy Ritchie film vond ik het nogal mild, voor een Koning Arthur-vertelling vond ik het nogal ..Indiana Jones-achtig?

king arthur poster

Weinig gewaden en oud(klinkend) Engels in deze versie, het is meer lammy coats en een hoeveelheid aan “mate”. Geen zorgen, aan het verhaal is weinig veranderd, alleen heeft Arthur er deze keer wel érg weinig zin in.

Gelukkig zijn er gigantische olifanten, magie, bijdehante bad guys en een boel (trippy) actiescènes om Arthur van gedachten te veranderen. Mate.

Als je een avonturenfilm zonder enige coherentie nodig hebt, is King Arthur: Legend of the Sword een heel redelijk aanbod. Neem wel verlichting mee: de film bestaat alleen uit tinten grijs, groen en donkerblauw.

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, Warners Brothers 2017

Everfair

Lisette Toutournier sighed.

Well, it could make an amazing looking TV-show. The world building is there, it’s bright and diverse (both in surroundings as represented race and sexuality). It’s just the plot that ..not really isn’t.

Everfair is the name of the reclaimed, bought Congo and later parts of surrounding countries. With steampunk elements and money from societies and countries world wide, Africans, Europeans, Americans and Asians build up a country without colonial rule. Cool, original, awesome idea.

And that’s about it. The author seems to be in a hurry to showcase the rise and fall of this young country, hopping ahead in time like she was told not to use too much pages on character development. The story only gets sadder because of this as well, pulling the reader out of the freshly created fantasy.

I’m very fond of stand alone books, definitely in the fantasy series, but maybe Everfair could have done better with being a two-parter.

Everfair, Nisi Shawl, Tor 2016