Thursday, October 15, 2009

On the Edge by Ilona Andrews

Posted by Simcha 4:36 PM, under | No comments

Ilona Andrews' new fantasy novel, On the Edge , introduces Rose Drayton, a young woman struggling to support herself and her two younger brothers after the death of her mother and the abandonment of her father. Good jobs are hard to come by for an illegal like Rose, who is a native of the Edge; a narrow ribbon of land located between the Weird, a world of magic and the Broken, a magic-less world of electricity and technology.

It doesn’t help matters that Rose’s brothers are not your average children. Eight year old Jack shape-changes into a cat and ten year old Georgie resurrects the dead, a talent that is slowly draining his life away. Rose herself is able to flash white, an ability that she worked hard to perfect and which has caused her no end of trouble. And so when a good looking, blueblood aristocrat from the Weird appears at Rose’s door one day, Rose assumes he is there to try to ensnare her for her flashing power. Although Rose would like nothing better then to send Declan on his way she soon finds herself maneuvered into agreeing to marry him if he successfully accomplished three challenges of her devising.

But a haughty blueblood is not the worst of Rose’s troubles for suddenly the people of the Edge are being attacked by evil, frightening magical creatures called the hounds. Nobody knows where they came from or how to get rid of them. To her dismay, Rose finds herself forced to join forces with Decan in order to fight the hounds and save her family and friends.

Fans of Ilona Andrews’ Kate Daniels series are sure to enjoy this new book with its feisty heroine; lovable, mischievous children; macho, good looking men and interesting world building. The central characters are well developed and engaging. I was reluctant to finish the book because I didn’t want to leave them behind, though I really liked the ending. I also really appreciated the fact that the story was wrapped up in the end, rather then ending with a cliffhanger, forcing readers to wait a year to find out what happens next. While there will be a second book in the series, that story will focus on William, one of Rose’s suitors from On the Edge, and a character I'm eager to learn more about.

There is definitely more of a romantic focus in On the Edge then in the Kate Daniels books, but for me that wasn’t one of the book’s strong points. While I generally enjoy a dash of romance in my books, the story line here reminded me too much of those numerous historical romances in which the female protagonist gets maneuvered into an unpleasant situation against her will (usually marriage) by the good-looking male character but eventually falls under his sway due to all of his wonderful characteristics that were hiding beneath the surface. It always annoys me when this happens in romances and I didn’t like those similarities cropping up in On the Edge, but overall Andrews does manage to carry it off due to the protagonists' strength of character and humor.

Other than that, I really did enjoyed on the Edge and I would certainly recommend it, particularly if you enjoy a strong romantic element in your fantasy.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

My Very first Reading Challenge: DystopYA

Posted by Simcha 6:07 PM, under | 3 comments

I've never done a reading challenge before, although they look like fun, because I just can't find the time to read books outside of the SF&F genres. But Books on the Nightstand is issuing a challenge that coincides nicely with my current interest in dystopic novels so I'm going to be participating in my very first Reading Challenge. I'm quite excited.

While I'm not exactly clear on all of the rules (I don't have patience for reading the small print), the basic idea is that I have until December 31, 2009 to read 3 dystopic YA novels. After reading the books, I'm supposed to write a review of each one and to post a link t
o the reviews on the Books on the Nightstand Goodreads or Facebook page. I also added the little picture that you are meant to include as proof of your participation (see above).

I'm going to try reading The Giver, by Lois Lowry, Candor by Pam Bachorz and The Maze Runner by James Dashner. I think I must have read The Giver at some point, but I really can't remember. Candor, I recently heard about and thought it sounded interesting and now that Anne recommended it I certainly have to read it (Anne and Michael rarely steer me wrong).

Anyone want to join me? For more information about the DystopYA Reading Challenge, visit Books on the Nightstand

Sunday, October 11, 2009

The Tel Aviv Dossier: Something new and unusual

Posted by Simcha 6:40 PM, under | 2 comments

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I picked up The Tel Aviv Dosseier, by Nir Yaniv and Lavie Tidhar. Apocalypse novels are not usually my thing but a story about the destruction of Tel Aviv involving a fireman, a yeshiva guy and a film maker sounded intriguing enough that I decided to give this book a try.

The Tel Aviv Dossier opens up as Hagar, a documentary film maker, is in the process of filming the arrival of the Darfur refugees from across the Egyptian border. As she attempts to adjust the lightening on the camera, to accommodate the suddenly darkened sky, the earth begins to shake and a column of air appears, into which everyone and everything gets sucked into and torn apart. People run screaming, cars are thrown around and Hagar keeps her camera rolling as she attempts to escape from the sudden destruction that has taken over Tel Aviv.

The next chapter is narrated by Eli the psychotic fireman who has been waiting for just such an event to take place. In delight at the chaos and destruction, he grabs a fire truck and jumps into the foray, taking pleasure in adding to the madness and running down anyone that get in his way.

Each of the following chapters continue to describe the carnage taking place in Tel Aviv, through a different person’s eyes; a young boy left at home alone, a young woman at the beach writing to a friend, a Lubavitcher yeshiva student, a member of the UFO Research Society. Each chapter is narrated in the first person and many of the narrations are broken off, to be picked up later in the book, or sometimes not at all (usually due to a bloody demise).

The second part of the book focuses on three particular characters and their individual reactions to the current apocalypse. These characters include the fireman, the yeshiva student and the documentary film-maker, along with an animated severed head, which adds a dash of the absurd to the already strange story.

The third part of the book takes place a year after the apocalypse began and introduces a new cast of characters who arrive in Tel Aviv, from Jerusalem, each with an individual purpose. But these recent arrivals are not prepared for the anarchy and lawlessness of this new Tel Aviv and they find themselves floundering to survive, as the residents of Tel Aviv gear up for the final battle and the possible arrival of some sort of messiah.

If you are looking for something different and unusual, this book is it. While dark and weird it also manages to be humorous, which I found to be an interesting and disconcerting combination.

I did find that the chapters in the first part of the book, describing the apocalypse sounded rather repetitive after a while. Even though each of the people narrating these chapters were vastly different, their voices and tone came out sounding rather similar, which I was a little disappointed with. I would also have liked to see little more variety in the reactions that were expressed. If the yeshiva guy was going to tear off his clothes and go running in the street, perhaps the guy emailing a letter to his friend, full of crude language, could have suddenly become religious.

I read The Tel Aviv Dossier while on a bus to Tel Aviv and I arrived at the bus station just as I was reading about its detailed destruction in the pages of this book, which I thought added a little extra spice to the reading experience. But whether you are in Tel Aviv, or not, if you are in the mood for something different and unique, give The Tel Aviv Dossier a try.


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