Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Book 16: The VD Craziness Continues

*Spoilers Ahead!*
The latest book in LJ Smith's Vampire Diaries series is Vampire Diaries: The Return: Nightfall. Yes, that's actually the full title. Smith has decided to continue the series with a new trilogy which picks up 7 days after the older books left off, with Elena back from the dead.

This book was pure, undiluted batshit insanity. Really.

The book is confusing right off the bat for anyone who read the old series. When Elena returned from the dead at the end of Dark Reunion, she was human and seemingly had all her faculties. At the beginning of the new book, Elena is mute and childlike, having woke up that way the day after she came back from the dead. This is never explained, just that she was fine when she came back, but woke up a "spirit child" the next day.

Elena is doing the vampire version of getting it on with Stefan, despite the fact that she seems to be lacking some mental faculties, which is not very honorable of St. Stefan. She also floats around, glowing like a life-size lightning bug. Really, she even bumps into windows while she floats around. And she has powerful magical powers. And she has trouble remembering people so she gives them a big kiss (yes, girls too) to get to know them.

Suddenly, all the characters are using all this technology. They all have internet capable, video cell phones, and they know all about computers. This would make sense in the context of the current time period, but it throws the reader off since none of this technology existed in the other books, but suddenly it appears here.

The plot of the book starts when Damon is approached by a mystical fox thingymajig, who offers to get Stefan out of the way so that Damon can pursue Elena, but the fox has ulterior motives. Fox thingy gets his minions, the malach, to possess Damon. Stefan is kidnapped, with possessed Damon's help. Elena finally snaps out of her mute "spirit child" ways (but not before Stefan tows her behind his car with a clothesline). It becomes clear that something is possessing the young women of Fell's church. Much hijinx ensues while Elena tries to figure out what is wrong with Damon, and the fox and his sister (also a fox) try to destroy the town with their malach (bug like creatures who possess people). Really, there's more than that, but its all very nonsensical.

Elena and her friends, with Damon's help, eventually drive the foxes away from Fell's Church, but the foxes refuse to give them the keys to free Stefan, only giving Elena some cryptic clues about where to find the keys. The book ends with Damon, Elena, and Matt as fugitives (a pregnant Caroline has accused Matt of raping her to cover up her out of wedlock conception with the crazed werewolf Tyler from the original books) determined to figure out how to free Stefan, despite Damon still pursuing Elena to be his princess of Darkness. Really. That's how it ends.

This book was completely insane to the point that I couldn't read more than a few chapters at a time. I rationed out the Crazy over about a week. It was confusing and outrageous, but in the end that's kind of the point of reading LJ Smith. Its all about the insanity. And the mocking. Definitely the mocking.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Books 12 - 15: Vampire Diaries I-IV

I re-read all four books in LJ Smith's Vampire Diaries series in preparation for reading the new addition to the series, Vampire Diaries: The Return: Nightfall. Does that title have enough colons for you?

Anyway, the series was just as wonderful and ridiculous as ever. Smith tells an interesting story with engaging characters, but her writing has some huge flaws. I think my biggest pet peeve is that plot points are picked up then abandoned too quickly. Elena wakes up as a vampire, but she thinks that Damon is her soulmate. Then a few pages later, instead of really delving into the implications of that, Elena suddenly remembers that she loves Stefan. Then there's something suspicious about Aunt Judith's fiance, but then he's fine and its never mentioned again.

Still, the story is engrossing, although sometimes its simply because you want to see what insane plot point Smith will introduce next. I've started reading the new one already, and its craziness, y'all, pure craziness.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Book 11: The Host

The latest book in my quest to read 52 books this year is The Host by Stephenie Meyer. Its Meyer's only non-Twilight Saga novel, an adult science fiction tale of Earth occupied by an alien race.

I first bought this book when it hit the shelves last year, but could not get into it after reading 4 or 5 chapters. I put it down and made a note to pick it up again, and this challenge seemed like a good reason. Always better for the checkbook to read something I already own.

I'm not sure what the problem was last time, perhaps I was so into the Twilightverse that I could not get into anything that was not that, but this time I had no trouble getting into the story. The basic plot is that a race of peaceful aliens has invaded Earth, implanting themselves into human bodies and supressing their "host" beings. However, a strong human who has been on the run from the aliens, Melanie Styder, refuses to be completely surpressed by the alien being in her body, Wanderer. Hijinks ensues as Wanderer gets to know and love Melanie and sets off to find those that Melanie cares about.

From a writing standpoint, The Host is a much stronger book than any of the Twilight series, with the possible exception of Breaking Dawn. The characters are all wonderfully written, with their own voices and eccentricities. The plot is more intricate and better paced, with plenty of action thrown in to temper the romance. Overall, a fun read that makes me want more. Meyer has hinted that this may turn into a trilogy, which would be wonderful.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Book 10: Chosen

Book 10 in the challenge was the third book in the House of Night series, Chosen by PC and Kristin Cast. In my experience, in a series that is supposed to be fairly lengthy, you have to have a couple of books where everything goes all to hell to keep the story going.

This was one of those 'it all went to hell' books.

Zoey continues to navigate her path as an extraordinarily powerful fledgling, dealing with the undead, an enemy that everyone believes is a good guy, and not one, but three boyfriends.

I was pretty horrified at some of the choices that Zoey makes in this one, but I also have to remember that Zoey is 17 and isn't always going to make what seems like the obvious right choice to the reader.

I was a little squicked out by the fact that an adult man sleeps with a student in this book. I'm not sure if any book with that in it should be placed in the YA section of the bookstore. The book doesn't necessarily glorify the act, and there are grave consequences, but I'm still iffy on it.

Looking forward to reading book four in the series, Untamed, before the new one, Hunted, comes out in March.

First Sweater Finished!

I finished my first sweater last night, weaving in the ends during the Super Bowl. It was part of a KAL with some Twilight knitting pals:
The pattern is the Cozy V Neck Pullover with Deep Ribbing from the book Fitted Knits by Stephanie Japel. The pattern was very simple, requiring the knitter to know how to kfb, knit in the round, and pick up stitches. I can definitely see myself making this again, perhaps a short-sleeved version, or changing up the ribbing for some variety. I'll try to get a good picture of me wearing soon!