Monthly Archives: December 2013

20) Pegasus

By: Robin McKinley

Date Finished: 11.06.13

by Robin McKinley

I won’t make any kind of history anybody will have to learn later.  I promise, she had said to her father.  And he had replied, Be careful of your promises.  I’m not going to hold you to this one.

“Sometimes it only takes a moment for everything to change,” said her father… “More commonly, however it takes forever, and an astonishing amount of ink.  This is only the fresh beginning of a new forever.”

As a member of the royal family, Sylvi must be bound to a Pegasus.  It’s part of a treaty between the human royals and the Pegasus nation, but Sylvi finds the whole prospect daunting.  Then on the day of her binding, Sylvi makes the remarkable discovery that she can communicate directly with her Pegasus, Ebon.  A genuine and powerful friendship is immediately formed, a miraculous gift for Sylvi and Ebon.  However, in the eyes of many, their ability threatens to topple the delicate balance between the two nations.

McKinley has consistently been a favorite author of mine for years.  This is her first novel that does not stand alone, so I put off reading it until the sequel was published.  Then I got impatient.  Mistake.  I literally cried myself to sleep the night I finished it.

Something to know about Robin McKinley: she’s wordy.  They are gorgeous words, but there are many of them.  This book in particular contains lengthy passages about the history and politics of the world she created.  I found it unusually difficult to keep track of all the characters in this book, since there were many people who existed in dialogue only.  Even so, it was beautiful story and the friendship between Sylvi and Ebon is one of my favorites in print or on screen.

If you’ve never read a McKinley book, I don’t recommend you start with this one.  I’d begin with The Hero and the Crown or The Outlaws of Sherwood or start where she started with Beauty.  As a longtime lover of her stories, I was able to soak in her decadent language and appreciate the intricacies of her world building, but it might be overwhelming if you’re not used to her style.

One of my favorite things about McKinley’s writing is her depiction of royal life.  Women tend to be treated with a natural equality — the firstborn reigns, regardless of gender — and the focus is often on the work of running a country, not the idealistic glamor of being rich and famous.  Each of her courts has it’s own personality and degree of dysfunction, and this one was particularly fascinating.  And as usual, McKinley’s characters are so realistic, they almost come off the page.

At the end of the day: Really, really for me

19) What’s Left of Me

By: Kat Zhang

Date Finished: 10.27.13

by Kat Zhang

Eva shouldn’t exist.  She should have faded a decade ago and allowed Addie full occupation of their body and brain.  But Eva’s soul lingered as she relinquished her claim on their shared motor function, allowing Addie to be accepted as a healthy American.  Even though everyone believes that Eva is gone, they are haunted by the fear of discovery.  It’s more fact than rumor that suspected hybrids – people with both souls intact past childhood – are whisked away by the government and never heard from again.  Despite the dangers, when Eva is given the opportunity to move again, she convinces Addie to take it.

My impression of this book is very similar to my response to Divergent.  Like Veronica Roth, Zhang is a young author (I believe even younger than Roth) and this is her first published book.  Like Divergent, it is solid writing and features a recognizable-but-not-cliché plot.  And, like Divergent, it is a well done book, but not phenomenal.  All told, I think I enjoyed this one more simply because it stays away from the angsty romance.  (There is a spark between Eva and one of the other hybrids, which I imagine will become more prominent as the series continues, but it doesn’t distract like it does in Divergent.)

Eva plays her role of narrator well, with a strong voice and a nice sense of pacing.  Since Eva is the storyteller and Addie is in control of their body, I had the instinct to resent Addie at the beginning.  As the book continued, my appreciation and respect of Addie grew significantly and I was equally fascinated by both girls.  Even though they share a body, Eva and Addie have distinctive personalities and their interactions are much like any pair of sisters.  With this highly relate-able relationship, it was easy to suspend my disbelief and dive into the story.

I greatly appreciate how Zhang reveals only what the reader needs to know.  She has created a unique history for this version of America, but refrains from bogging the book down with too many details.  Throughout, she manages to keep it simple whenever possible —  a refreshing feature for this inherently complicated construct.  What’s Left of Me is a promising start in this young writer’s repertoire.  I look forward to seeing where she goes from here.

At the end of the day: For me.