Monday, April 23, 2012

Epic Reading List Take Two Updated: Beautiful Darkness

List Mark Two Updated: 4/24

1. Mockingjay -Suzanne Collins

2. First Test -Tamora Pierce
3. Darkness Falls -Cate Tiernan
4. Page -Tamora Pierce

5. Where Things Come Back -John Corey Whaley
6. Squire -Tamora Pierce
7. Beautiful Darkness -Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
8. Lady Knight -Tamora Pierce
9. Cinder -Marissa Meyer
10. Trickster's Choice -Tamora Pierce
11. The Statistical Probability of Love At First Sight - Jennifer E. Smith
12. Trickster's Queen -Tamora Pierce
13. Halfway to the Grave -Jeanine Frost
14. Tortall and Other Lands -Tamora Pierce
15. The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer -Michelle Hodkin

My usual spoiler warning applies.

After reading Beautiful Creatures the plan had been to not read anymore of these books until they were all out. It was a doomed plan. I've bought each of them as they came out and held on to them and waited eagerly to see when it would end. When I could jump in. Then I caved and just decided 'screw it' I will read and wait with everyone else.

So, I just finished Beautiful Darkness. This book frustrated me. But I mean that in the best way possible. As good as frustration can be anyway. It's good frustration because I was frustrated about all of the same things as Ethan. I was trying to work out what was going on in Lena's head and even though I had a little more insight into the night of the 16th moon I still wanted to shake her a couple of times. I wanted to figure out how she could just run to John and run away. Her hot and cold routine was driving me crazy. I was frustrated for poor Ethan and for not knowing. Admittedly, it took my a little bit to realize how masterful it was to have made me that disgruntled and during that time I read a bit sparingly. But when it hit me (once the action started) I was awed by it.

Oh Ethan. I like Ethan. Not in a Finnick-Odair-I'm-going-to-jump-you sort of way but rather I'd like to be friends with Ethan. We could chat and hang out. He's such a normal guy and I love it. In Beautiful Darkness he was so lost and confused that it was impossible not to feel for him. It easy to feel Lena's guilt but at the same time I was so frustrated with her because she never stopped to consider what it was doing to Ethan. He was left behind and Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl did such a remarkable job of portraying this character who didn't know what to do or how to react. He did what he had tried to do after his mother's death, keep going and pretend things were okay. But Lena couldn't do the same.

Lena. I like Lena and I don't. She's in a tough spot, definitely, but she gets so caught up in the Caster side of everything that I think she forgets what all of this is like for Ethan. While they are certainly flashier, she assumes that her problems are harder than his, as if they carry a bigger weight than Ethan's, not always realizing that their problems tend to be interconnected. It sometimes makes her a frustrating character.

Another sometimes frustrating character was Olivia, Liv. I'm still not sure how I felt about her. Sometimes I thought she was great and that was mostly before the action started but other times she drove me crazy. She never failed to take the chance to roll her eyes and educate Ethan. I have no issue with educating Ethan, as a matter of fact I love Amma and Marion but it didn't work coming from Liv. The other two know how new this all is for him and she just came off superior to him in between her awkward affection. I liked her as a foil for Lena they were so different and just similar enough that it worked. I think Ethan saw some of Lena in her. But I wasn't sure what to make of her reactions to Ethan. Somehow all of this made her sacrifice seem a little watered down maybe because I was never certain that she really wanted to be a Keeper.

I will say for characters that I'm glad we got to see more of Link. He makes me happy (though his twist is very Simon Lewis) and his relationship with Ridley is wonderful. I liked seeing more of them together and how they interacted. Ridley has also been given the chance to play around and that's nice.

Macon. He was always a favorite of mine. It's the polite, gentlemanly drawl he has about him. We learn so much about him. I didn't see the relationship with Lila coming and was as blindsided and a little betrayed as Ethan. I really loved how Ethan remembered Macon calling her Lila Evers. It was a nice tie-in to that little scene and I haven't even thought about. There were times were it was hard to read the scenes of Macon and Lila because she was always Ethan's Lila and not Macon's Jane. But I was psyched to see him come back and admittedly didn't realize that he was already inside the arclight. I am interested to see where they take him later and what he'll do with his new found lightness.

Amma was as badass as always. I just missed the pencil.

Lena took a definite back seat in Beautiful Darkness. She was the end goal but not the center of things. This one was much more about Ethan finding his way and the Wayward thing was a fantastic way to make that a more physical manifestation. Characters who were more on the fringes of Beautiful Creatures got the chance to step forward as they became part of Ethan's journey. Garcia and Stohl have a wonderful talent for tying things back together like that. Everything in connected and none of their characters are without fault.

I'm interested to see where they take the series. Each book feels like the climax of the story, even knowing there are more coming. Toward the climax of Beautiful Darkness I liked that, while still important, Ethan took a bit of a step back because, realistically, he wasn't nearly powerful enough to go in there by himself and take everyone on. It was a great climax where everyone played their part. But it did begin to feel more like Macon was taking too much of a lead and that it was setting everything up to come to a showdown between Macon and Abraham. I don't think they'll completely shove him to the back but I sincerely hope Ethan doesn't take too much of a backseat in the rest of the series as he is the strongest character.

They set up a great number of questions still to be answered. What's going on with Ridley? John? What does Lena's choice really mean for everyone? Does Ethan's dad know more than we think? I've heard Beautiful Chaos is heartbreaking so I'm a tad worried but I will get to it. I might stall a little but I will get there.

Overall I give Beautiful Darkness a Massively Epic rating.

Next up I'll round off the Protector of the Small series with Lady Knight.

Don't forget to check out my new Music Monday post from earlier. I'll have some more life lessons for you soon!

-A.M.Y-A

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