Category Archives: Supernatural

The Hollow People by Brian Keaney

Inside Flap of the Book: Dante looked around, making sure there was no one who might overhear him. Then he leaned forward and, lowering his voice, said, “I still have dreams.” It was the most shocking thing Bea had ever heard. “Dr. Sigmundus says that disturbances of the mind which come to people when they sleep are the result of a psychic illness,” she replied. It was what she had been taught at school, and for as long as she could remember.

Review: The Hollow People is a novel set on an isolated island called Tarnagar where the lives of its people revolve around the upkeep of the asylum located there. Status is a very important thing in this world, which is why Dante, marked with the lowest status for being the child of a inmate, is convinced that his existence is completely insignificant. When a dangerous new criminal named Ezekiel is brought to the asylum and sets in motion a plan of rescuing Dante from Tarnagar, Dante learns that he is not only a significant person in this world, but an important weapon against Dr. Sigmundus, the Big Brother-esque dictator of the country.

"I just learned how to do this yesterday!"

This novel reminds me a lot of 1984 by George Orwell in that the citizens of this country are very careful about the decisions they make, and very concerned about how their actions are interpreted by others—but that’s only part of the novel. What really sets this novel apart from others of this style/genre is the supernatural element introduced later in the book—which I kind of hate. The supernatural element gives God-like powers to Ezekiel who has been a prisoner on Tarnagar for a month, receiving little food and getting shock treatments at least 3 times a week, but manages to successfully use his powers to help Dante escape. Yet after escaping and being well fed and taken care of for weeks, a shot that clips him in the shoulder renders him handicapped forcing Dante to use his magically super advanced powers to save the day… Bullshit. I call bullshit. It was like reading a well-written, but nevertheless shitty, fanfiction. So it’s not surprising to me that I haven’t hear a lot of hype about this novel since I bought it about 3 years ago. As a series, it may have gotten better, but I’ll never know, because I don’t plan on purchasing the other books unless Keany gets a movie deal.

The best thing about this book is that it really does seek to break the mold, not only does the supernatural element set this novel apart, but it also has small illustrations scattered throughout it, which appealed to the child inside of me that remembered sitting in the library reading Robert Munch picture books. The worst thing about this novel is the supernatural element. To help you understand, I’ll use Harry Potter as a parallel. Imagine a wizarding world where people try for years and years to learn how to ride a broom, and only Dumbledore and James Potter manage to succeed. Then Harry Potter comes to Hogwarts for the first time, Madame Hooch tell him how he should mount a broom, he mounts it, and instantly wins the Quidditch World Cup. Yeah, I think it sounds like a shitty idea too.

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Filed under Book Reviews, Faux-Utopia, Romance, Supernatural, YA Fiction

City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

First Paragraph: “You’ve got to be kidding me,” the bouncer said, folding his arms across his massive chest. He stared down at the boy in the red zip-up jacket and shook his shaved head. “You can’t bring that thing in here.” The fifty or so teenagers in line outside the Pandemonium Club leaned forward to eavesdrop. It was a long wait to get into the all-ages club, especially on a Sunday, and not much generally happened in line. The bouncers were fierce and would come down instantly on anyone who looked like they were going to start trouble. Fifteen year-old Clary Fray, standing in line with her best friend, Simon, leaned forward along with everyone else, hoping for some excitement.

Review: City of Bones is an urban fantasy novel that follows Clary Fray as she discovers that hidden just beyond the world she knows is another one full of faeries, werewolves, vampires, and shadowhunters. Shadowhunters are warriors that hunt down and kill demons and other creatures that might harm humans. A shawdowhunter is what Clary would have been if her mother hadn’t purposely hidden her from that world. As always, you can only hide from your past for so long before it catches up with you, and soon Clary must enter this new world to save her mother from certain death.

I could hang out with this lady

Cassandra Clare is the only author I have seen that is so involved and connected to her fan base. She lives and breathes these books and seems eager to communicate with readers that love the series as much as she does. When I see an author so connected to her characters it makes them seem all the more real which makes City of Bones, and its following novels of the series, that much more of a pleasure to read.

The novel is written in third person but features different perspectives of characters, so the reader isn’t always following the heroine around. It’s as much of a novel about Clary as it is about Simon, or Jace, or any of the other characters. The advantage of this style is that it breaks up the monotony that a single perspective can sometimes give, but the drawback is that it takes out a lot of suspense. At times I knew so much more than the protagonist I became frustrated with how oblivious she was. And when you’re frustrated with the protagonist it makes it difficult to sympathize with them. But I still prefer this style because it gives the reader a chance to see a focus on their favourite characters other than the herione.

"Hey pop, what do you think's outside New York?" "No more of these dreamer thoughts Jimmy."

Clare’s writing style is something I actually enjoy. Nothing reads as being particularly awkward and she has a more casual style of writing that I think sits well with the novel’s demographic. The novel, for the most part, takes place in New York city and while the setting is well developed there, it’s difficult to imagine anything beyond New York. City of Bonescomes across as a novel more about characters, relationships and action sequences than the world it takes place in. I don’t imagine that this was the author’s intention but I found it difficult to imagine anything remotely supernatural occurring beyond the city. People that leave New York in the novel are like middle school friends on facebook. You know they exist, and you might have a moment when you think “remember so-and-so?”, but ultimately they have no influence or detrimental life significance.

The best thing about City of Bones is the seamless combination of romance and ass-kicking. I like a mushy love connection like any other woman who cries watching Disney movies, but I also love a good slasher and gross-out fest. The worst thing about City of Bones is that I can’t picture myself walking the streets of New York and being transported into memories of the book, and let’s be honest, I’m pretty sure J.K. Rowling is the only person on this planet that can make people wet themselves with excitement about the prospect of getting on a train in Britain.

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Filed under Book Reviews, Magic, Romance, Supernatural, Urban Fantasy, YA Fiction