The pipe under the sink was leaking again. It wouldn’t have been so bad, except that Nick kept his favourite sword under the sink
I flipped open this book, read this first line, and shut the book quickly. Too much awesomeness too soon!
Let me just tell you, I was strangely giddy about this first line. The contrast there is….thrilling!
This book was like a delicious candy dangling in front of my eyes as I try to eat healthier foods, like organic chemistry (:P). Thanks to Kay from the infinite shelf for enticing me to read it!
Author: Sarah Rees Brennan
Genre: urban fantasy
Days to read it: far too long… but only because I do have a life outside of reading 😛 A week of comfortable reading should have done it.
Nick is a heartless, arrogant, bad boy with a sword. He and his brother Alan are frequently on the move because pesky things like evil yellow fog, murders of ravens, zombied corpses and other scuttly spies from the Magician Circles in town want their hands on something his mother has. Except that Nick doesn’t really care for his mother’s safety – she hates the sight of him anyway, and the feeling’s mutual. The only person Nick cares an iota about is his brother, Alan, who is nothing like him. Nick’s only humouring Alan by going to school, trying to act normal…tolerating his mother. Alan cares too much, spends too much time worrying about others, wants to help annoying people even if his life is at risk because of it. And Nick has almost had it with these two annoying people in particular that Alan’s taken under his wing. But one thing soon leads to another as they do in exciting books. The local magician circle has got their eyes on this patchwork family of his and Nick inevitably learns a tiny little detail about himself…that explains a lot.
Heeheehee. This book was dark, sarcastic, gritty, heart-wrenching, glee-inducing, and just fantastic! Sometimes when I read something I really like, I start heeheehee-ing because I’m so delighted.
First off, the casual contrasts. Like the one on the first page. Picture this: two young men standing about in a kitchen. One of them’s got a good-natured smile on his face as he makes dinner. One of them’s glaring but fiddling around under the sink. It’s a Thursday night, and dinner’s ready. Even though their mum appears to be an invalid, and therefore the older brother must act like a father and take care of his younger brother, everything in the scene is picture perfect. Then, with a glass-breaking entry, things start streaming into the kitchen, and, always prepared, the two brothers pull out their weapons: a sword for the baleful-eyed one and a gun for the angelic one. After deposing of these Thursday evening intruders, they dust their hands off and manage to salvage the dinner before it gets cold. There are so many instances of these contrasts that just made the story that much catchier.
In this story, England is turned into a country where ancient magicians and even more ancient demons lurk. And there are places like the Goblin Market and the House of Mezentius both of which are creepy in their own ways.
Nick’s emotionally dead character, instead of boring me, actually made me want to read more. And though there were some bits in the story where the plot slowed down (somewhere in the middle, for some reason), the ending just blew all those negative comments away. So now I can’t even think of a specific part of the book where I was feeling less compelled to read it!
These days, urban fantasy is so prevalent. And I absolutely love urban fantasy. The magic is happening in our world – that’s just so neat! But, that doesn’t explain why I love this book so much. That can be explained by the well-thought out scenes, the carefully chosen words; in general, all the story-making details that Sarah Rees Brennan obviously took the time to flesh out properly. The difference in reading experience is tremendous. I was reading the book, not only because the plot ideas presented were so creative and intelligent, but the writing itself was a gem. Every scene was used to its full dramatic advantage. And mixed into it was this element of zooming off on a thrilling, dark adventure full of dangers and curious things, tentative love and self-discoveries. I love when I’m able to trust the writer to not let me down too much!
Apart from the writing itself, you can wholeheartedly read this novel for the great story. I try not to, but, if there’s a mystery involved, I’ll unconsciously hoard hints and clues in the text to try to solve it before the climax. If I’ve solved it correctly, no harm done, I can still enjoy the story. But it is an added bonus if the author surprises me to an even greater level than I expected, which was the case in this book. I thought I had it all figured out, and for a chapter or two it seemed I was right, but by the end I was so pleased that I was wrong! And in a smart, subtle way, too (because if the text did not support the plot twist that would just be stupid)!
I suppose this book could be compared to the TV show Supernatural. But, even though my roommates gush with obsession about that show, I was never really drawn into it. Some of the concepts are similar. Nick and Alan fight demons. I guess those two guys do, too. In any case, this book drew me in on the first page and straight on to the last, in which I blinked a few times and realized it was finished. But I’m not worried, because Sarah Rees Brennan has planned to make Nick and Alan’s story a trilogy. A trilogy! In my opinion, that’s the best. Not too atrociously long like a never-ending series, and not too unsatisfyingly short, like a standalone. And she’s planned this all out in advance, too, which means she had time to put lots of thought into it, as compared to when writers feel compelled to write another book because of fans. Sometimes those books don’t work out so well.
So, I guess apart from some slow bits in the book, I loved the story! I think the guy on the front cover looks like he has too much lip gloss on, but, forcefully ignoring that by removing the jacket cover, the story was a very compelling, addicting read.
Here’s an excerpt to further tempt you:
Nick was about to tell them exactly what he thought of their babbling and exactly what he would do to them if they didn’t go away at once and never breathe a word of what they’d seen, when Alan moved from the doorway into the light.
“Mae?” he said, his voice incredulous, and then quickly, “Nick, put that sword down!”
Mae said, “Bookshop Guy?”
Nick looked at her, tilting his head and recalling Alan’s wistful speeches on the subject of the pink-haired girl who liked the Beat generation. He put two and two together and came up with the fact that his entire situation was ridiculous.
This was Alan’s latest crush, then.
Nick drew the sword slowly away from the girl’s throat and lowered it until the tip almost but not quite touched the ground, holding himself ready just in case. He let his gaze follow the blade, toward the ground and away from Mae.
“Whatever you want,” he said softly.
Jamie was staring at Alan. “You helped me find Catcher in the Rye today and now you shoot people?”
“He only shot one person,” Nick remarked. “But the night is young.”
My internet’s really slow for some reason, so I kind of gave up searching for other reivews, but here are a few that I got before getting impatient:
– Yan from Books by Their Cover: “It was within the intricate plotline, the evasiveness, the twists and turns that I have come to believe that SRB is a wonderful story teller. I had no idea what she had in mind, when she laid out the small little details, that flew together so smoothly in the end. I am still quite speechless about how well it was executed! Magnificent!”
– Charlotte from Charlott’e Library: “But Brennan only puts in just enough humor to lighten the story without distracting–Nick and Alan’s journey remains dark, and ominous, and completely gripping, in a “character-driven magical violence and suspense” kind of way.”
– kay from the Infinite Shelf: “Now, what to say about the world the author created? Mysterious, dark, and a little disturbing, it is our world filled with mystical beings who, mostly, have no good on their minds. My first thought was Supernatural meets Buffy meets something else that makes it unique. It really was different from the usual vampire or werewolf urban fantasy, and it’s also a book that I wouldn’t hesitate recommending to both boys and girls.”
– Michelle from See Michelle Read: “I really enjoy urban fantasy in general, but this strangely dark and often creepy book contained so much character development and interesting secondary characters that I couldn’t tear myself away.”
– Thea from the Book Smugglers: “Ms. Brennan flips convention through the eyes of a very different anti-hero protagonist. I cannot stress enough how much I loved that Nick was not written as a badass with a heart of gold – NO ONE in this book is what they seem.”
– Kristi from the Story Siren: “This book kept me on the edge of my seat the entire time. The plot twists…. totally did not see them coming AT ALL. The foreshadowing is very light, it’s there but you’ve really got to pay attention. Once the big twist is revealed, the story takes on a whole new light.”
Rating: 4.5/5 fever fruits