Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Reading Roundup, Part Three

I just finished reading Dragon Heir by Cindy Williams Chima. Most of you probably know that it's the third book in the Heir trilogy. What you're hoping to hear is that it was worth waiting for. I'm happy to say that it is. I confess it took me a little while to get back up to speed, since my recollection of all the people and events in Wizard Heir was slightly fuzzy. But Chima gives enough background on past events that I was eventually reminded of all the important bits. Still, you'll want to start reading this series at the beginning, with Warrior Heir, rather than jumping in at the end. While I was never in much doubt about the identity of the dragon heir, that never affected my enjoyment of the book. I'm probably in the minority in choosing it, but my favorite moment in this book occurs at the end, when a minor character does something immensely satisfying, both for me and, I'm sure, for her. I basically did a fist pump, grinned, and said, "Take that, you (ummm...fiend will have to do here)!" Though some readers may start to get antsy waiting for Jack and Ellen to do their stuff, I think they'll be satisfied when it happens. There's also a revelation at the end that I didn't expect. I think I'd find it quite interesting to read the books again with that knowledge. In terms of rating, I'm leaning on the plus side of 4, so 5Q 5P, Audience of M/J/S.

I also recently finished Beastly by Alix Flinn. It's an updated retelling of Beauty and the Beast. I liked this one, but I didn't love it. I prefer Flinn's grittier stuff. Kyle Kingsbury is the very handsome, very rich son of a very handsome, very rich, very inattentive (at best) father who has taught him that it's more important to be good looking and successful than it is to be kind or thoughtful. Consequently, Kyle is beastly to anyone he perceives as being inferior (and that's a lot of people). When he invites an unattractive girl to a school dance with the sole intention of standing her up and making her look foolish, she transforms him into the beast he's always been on the inside. He has two years to get someone to fall in love with him and break the spell. In the meantime, his father virtually abandons him, buying him his own building far away in Brooklyn and putting him in the care of an old servant and a blind tutor. Kyle occupies his time by building a greenhouse and growing roses. In a strange way, it is the greenhouse and roses that ultimately provide Kyle with his potential Beauty.

What worked for me:
  • the chat room conversations, where Kyle (as BeastNYC) shares his problems with similarly challenged teens, such as Silent Maid (a mermaid who has fallen in love with a human) and Froggie, who used to be a prince, all led by counselor Chris Anderson (but, DUH! I missed the significance of that name at first)
  • Kyle before transformation - thoroughly nasty and quite memorable
  • Kyle's interactions with his tutor
  • Kyle's manipulations of his father, post-transformation
  • Parts of the "Lindy needs me" section (great action and energy)

What didn't work for me as well:

  • Kyle's voice seemed less authentic to me after his transformation and acceptance of the reason for it. He's suddenly very mature and introspective, and I needed to see him grow into that more.
  • The deal with Lindy's father.
  • The rather heavy-handed way it got to the uh-oh, stroke of midnight point.
  • Parts of the "Lindy needs me" section (a little sappy, a little forced)
Overall, I think this will please fans of fairy tale retellings and romance novels. Rating: 3Q 3P; Audience: J

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