Monday, November 23, 2009

Forest Born

Title: Forest Born
Author: Shannon Hale

What it's about: In this fourth book of Bayern, we meet Rinna, the little sister of Razo. Rin's a good girl, always helping and never causing trouble, but deep inside herself, she feels that there's something wrong. When Razo comes back to the family's home in the forest, Rin decides to go with him when he returns to the capital. There she meets Isi and Enna. But before Rin can become too used to her new life, trouble strikes, and it's up to Rin and the other girls to preserve the peace.

What I thought: Some of Shannon Hale's other books that I read have taken a while to really get going. The Goose Girl, for instance, is very slow-paced at the beginning (though it's a wonderful story, don't get me wrong). But with Forest Born, everything moved quickly. I got through the nearly four hundred pages in a day, and this with having plenty of other things I needed to do, too. But the fast pace doesn't mean that there was no substance. I actually wouldn't be surprised if this became my favorite Bayern book after a couple more readings. You know, one thing that always interests me in a book is seeing a group of characters I've grown fond of from an outsider's point of view. Allow me to use an example. In Cinda Chima's The Warrior Heir, we meet Jack Swift, become familiar with his family, friends, struggles, etc. Jack's our buddy by the end. Then, in The Warrior Heir, we've suddenly got a new main protagonist character who's introduced to Jack's group, and so that's a whole different point of view of these characters, seen by a new person. Seph definitely sees things differently than a reader who's familiar with Jack's story would, and it makes you think, you know? And same with Rin in Forest Born, really. She sort of knows Enna, has met Dasha a few times, but has never known Isi. So we see Isi from a neutral point of view and are better able to see how her character has developed because Rin's narration tells us things that are unclouded by knowledge of previous events. Okay, so. That's pretty cool. Best part of the book, though? When they get to Castle Daire and actually meet the antagonist. Strewth, what an occurrence. I totally wasn't expecting it, and so it was really such a dramatic punch. And learning about Rin's true gifts and how they worked, that was really cool, too. Rin was realistic and likable overall, really. She had her faults and inner struggle, but those were actually pretty realistic ones for a teenage girl, and especially one growing up with the gifts that Rin had. And I gotta say, I just liked overall seeing the dynamic of friendship between the four girls. Isi and Enna are total besties, and Enna and Dasha's teasing was always amusing. Seeing a vulnerable side to Enna was interesting, too, as she's really a very strong character most of the time, and so her showing weakness is rare. This book definitely had its dark moments, too, which is something I like about these books, how Ms. Hale is not afraid to have things of consequence happen. But anyway, this was a great story, and it makes me want to reread the other Bayern books. Ah well, maybe over Christmas break!

Overall: A wonderful entry into the series.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Sigh of Suzumiya Haruhi

Title: The Sigh of Suzumiya Haruhi
Author: Nagaru Tanigawa

What it's about: Haruhi Suzumiya's club the SOS Brigade has been in existence for around six months now, and the school's cultural festival is coming up. Haruhi decides that she wants the Brigade to do something exciting for the festival and comes up with the idea of creating a movie. Haruhi is, of course, the director, and she plunges into the task with the same reckless enthusiasm that powers all of her endeavors, leaving Kyon and the other three Brigade members no choice but to follow along helplessly in her wake. However, as Haruhi and the Brigade film the movie, Haruhi's vision for the film starts to get confused with the real world, and supernatural phenomena start creeping up everywhere. Kyon and the others have to figure out what to do before reality is permanently altered!

What I thought: And to think that I used to rank this book as one of my least favorite in the series. Well, I think that seeing the anime adaptation of Sighs when it aired this summer helped my perception of it. Great adaptation. But the book is great too. We get to hear a little more about the various theories about the nature of Haruhi and her powers, for one thing, and there's some nice foreshadowing for book four, The Vanishment of Haruhi Suzumiya. Kyon's references come across clearly and are very amusing, and you gotta love Haruhi's baseless rhetoric. All in all, this is an amusing story that continues to develop the world of Haruhi Suzumiya.

Overall: Great story, great translation.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Two Pieces of Business

First of all, as you can see, there's been a name change. I've been debating this for a while, and I've decided to take the plunge. I figure it'll be easier to promote this blog with a more normal name. Of course, what can I promote if there's no content? That brings us to the second part of this entry.

Just for you lovely people, I created a Twitter account. You can see it linked on the sidebar, and you can check that for book-related tweets about whatever I'm reading. Doesn't quite make up for full reviews, but at least if you're looking for new books, you can check what I'm currently reading and get ideas.

Expect updates to get a bit more frequent once winter break rolls around. I'm drowning in school work at the moment. I also have a project planned for break, or for some time soon, at any rate, which should lead to a ton of book reviews. Well, until next time, folks! And with luck, "next time" will be an actual review. Bye!