AUTHOR: Jo Walton
DATE FINISHED: March 12
BLURB: TRaised by a half-mad mother who dabbled in magic, Morwenna Phelps found refuge in two worlds. As a child growing up in Wales, she played among the spirits who made their homes in industrial ruins. But her mind found freedom and promise in the science fiction novels that were her closest companions. Then her mother tried to bend the spirits to dark ends, and Mori was forced to confront her in a magical battle that left her crippled--and her twin sister dead.
Fleeing to her father whom she barely knew, Mori was sent to boarding school in England-a place all but devoid of true magic. There, outcast and alone, she tempted fate by doing magic herself, in an attempt to find a circle of like-minded friends. But her magic also drew the attention of her mother, bringing about a reckoning that could no longer be put off...
REVIEW: I almost gave up on this book in the prologue. It just struck me as a little too weird, and the author's voice annoyed me. But, since the prologue was short, I stuck with it. It didn't take too long for me to get more involved, even though I never quite connected with the author's voice. Since this is told from a teenager's POV, there are a ton of run-on sentences with a lot of inane details that half the time I wasn't sure were really relevant. It made it easy to put the book down, but curiosity always had me picking it up again.
One thing that really engaged me - and from the reviews, turned off a lot of people, lol - is Mori's love of books. She talks about sci-fi books in intense detail, all the way down to specific novels and plot points, and since books are pretty much her life, it's never-ending. While I read sci-fi, I wasn't familiar with at least two-thirds of what she mentioned (the book is set in 1979, so it's older sci-fi, too), and whenever I ran across another author or book I didn't recognize, I asked Craig about it since he *is* a big sci-fi reader. It sparked some interesting conversations, including one with Alex, and for that alone, I'm glad I read the book. I can see why it would annoy people, though. Her constant sci-fi book references drags down the pace considerably, and in a book where not a whole lot happens, that can be killer.
I identified a lot with Mori, all the way down to her sense of humor. I laughed out loud more than once while reading and even shared some passages with Craig, since we were talking about the book anyway. That probably helped me get through it, because it sure wasn't the plot. The entire last quarter of the book has more plot than the rest of it combined, and it all felt so rushed and anticlimactic, it wasn't very satisfying.
Apparently, this one won the Hugo in 2012 and the Nebula in 2011. I have a feeling it did mostly because in many ways, it's a love letter to science fiction and its readers.
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