Although by Friday night I was seriously worried about the progress of my reading decathlon, since I was enmeshed in the Erilean epic and it didn’t look like I was going to manage it, somehow over the weekend I did pull it back. So today, Monday, is day 9, and I’ve read 8 complete books. I haven’t yet chosen books for today or tomorrow, but I’m feeling confident I’ll manage to get them both in, provided I don’t pick any more monsters and decide that reading 700 pages in 24 hours is a reasonable objective. It’s just not!
So book 6 was Empire of Storms – Sarah J Maas
Which, as I said last time, I did quite enjoy. I’m on board with Throne of Glass as a series, and am now annoyed at myself that I’m going to have to wait an entire year for the sixth installment. We don’t even have a title yet. Or cover art! And it ended on such a cliffhanger!
I mentioned in the last post that the switching perspectives were a bit annoying for me. That didn’t let up throughout the rest of the book. I get that the books have evolved from a relatively tight three-person story (Celaena, Dorian, Chaol) in the first book to a much more developed and nuanced cast in the later ones, with Aelin, Dorian, Rowan, Manon, Elide, Lorcan, Aedion, and Lysandra all getting their turn in the spotlight, but it’s sometimes hard to keep track of all these characters.
So by the time I finished, I had two more complaints about it.
- There is NO Chaol in this book. He’s only briefly mentioned. If you buy the WH Smith edition of EoS, there’s a short story at the end with Chaol and Nesryn, but he’s not in the book proper at all. And okay, I know Chaol was kind a git in Queen of Shadows, but he was left with some pretty big things to deal with, and I was really excited to see that happening, and there was absolutely nothing of that in EoS.
- This makes me sound like a prude, and I’m absolutely not, but this book has two really extended sex scenes in it which felt excessive to me. I’m not saying I don’t approve of sex scenes. I have no problem with them at all. But this is the fifth book in the series (sixth if you count The Assassin’s Blade) and it is WAY out of tone with what went before. Previous sex scenes have been gentle allusions to sex and the occasional ribald comment, but these were both three pages of sex. I’m not objecting to the sex, more to the absolute turnaround in how it was depicted. It just didn’t match what had gone before it.
So those three things were my main complaints about Empire of Storms. And none of them were big enough to knock off any more than one star between them, so this is still an excellent entry into the epic that Throne of Glass is becoming. Now I just need to find a fast-forward button so I can get to next September when book 6 comes out.
Book Seven: Every Day – David Levithan
This was a reread, although from several years ago (enough that I hadn’t yet marked it up on GoodReads, so pre-2014). The reason I reread it was because I got Another Day for Christmas, and have been meaning to read it for ages, so decided that this week was the day I was finally gonna do it. I ploughed through most of Every Day late on Saturday night, in bed, since I had spent all of Saturday morning finishing EoS. And even though I thought it was good but not great the first time I read it, on rereading I really disliked it, disliked A, and disliked Rhiannon, too.
So the premise of Every Day is that the main character, A, wakes up in a different body, a different person’s life, every day. And usually they try to blend in, to make sure that they don’t mess up anyone’s life, until one day they wake up in the body of Jason, Rhiannon’s boyfriend. And when they see her – boom. Instalove. It’s suddenly enough for A to go against every rule ever made for life and mess up the lives of anyone who gets in the way as they try to forge a relationship with Rhiannon, despite how awkward that would be.
There are some interesting things in this book. A is genderless, feeling at home in whatever body they wake up in on whatever day, so there’s some interesting stuff about that, and some of the relationship is nice – looking at how you get to know someone, how much of it is their personality, and how much is their body, and how those intertwine.
There’s a secondary story going on as well, about one of the bodies A possesses, who freaks out and starts trying to figure out what’s going on, deciding that it must have been demonic possession. Strangely, A’s narrative presents this as a totally ridiculous conclusion to jump to, even though if you think about it, what A does is pretty damn close. A takes over the body and life of a person for a day, and can do anything, even things which would be totally out of character for the person possessed. And, actually, what A does to Nathan would be pretty scary if it happened to anyone, so I’m pretty sure I’d want answers too, but Nathan is presented as slightly unhinged for wanting to find out.
The third thread of the story is A doing a whistle-stop tour of every issue for teens that Levithan could come up with. Or at least it seems that way. A spends a day suicidal, a day as an illegal immigrant, a day with a drug addiction, a day homeschooled, a day recently bereaved, a day being super hot, a day being a total bitch, a day being trans, a day being a gay guy, a day being a lesbian, a day being, well, anything you could think of. This in part grated on me as well, because it felt like Levithan was checking things off a list instead of actually writing anything meaningful about any of these situations.
A felt quite judgemental of Rhiannon, to me. There are a few remarks about how Rhiannon’s reaction to A is different depending on what bodies she sees – she’s much less affectionate when A is a girl, for example, and A isn’t happy about this. But Rhiannon is never presented as anything other than straight, so this is totally understandable, to me.
I also really, really disliked the ending of the book. It ended just when it felt like it was getting interesting. A discovers that he’s not the only one out there like this, but instead of finding out more, A runs away. I was raging at this. I wanted to know about the others. How do you find others? How does this work? A is told that it’s possible to stay for more than one day, break the rules, and I was so excited to find out more about this, but nope. Book ends.
And the last thing A does before doing this is try to set Rhiannon up with the guy whose body A was borrowing last. There are so many things wrong with this scenario I can’t even begin to enumerate them. I was really, really disappointed in the ending of this book.
Book Eight was Another Day – David Levithan
Another Day is the same story as Every Day, but told from the opposite perspective. Rhiannon, the object of the instalove in this story, has the chance to shine, the chance to get inside her head.
I always do this, and I never learn, but retellings of the same story should not, in my opinion, be read one after the other. Last year I read The Twilight Saga, Life and Death, and Midnight Sun in quick succession, which was a really dumb idea, because I was basically able to recite the entire story of Twilight by the time I got to Midnight Sun, and got no enjoyment out of it at all. You would have thought that this would have taught me not to read alternate perspective books one after the other, but no. I went straight from Every Day to Another Day, and was instantly bored.
All the issues I had with Every Day were present in Another Day (albeit less so with the whistle-stop tour). There’s no explanation for the instalove, and having been inside Rhiannon’s head, she’s just not interesting enough to justify A’s breaking of all the rules.
Rhiannon is stuck in an awful relationship with a really rubbish boyfriend, and this book tells us a lot more about how miserable she is and their relationship is, but doesn’t flesh out, well, anything. Derek has issues at home, but we’re not really told what those issues are. Rhiannon’s mother has issues, but they’re only vaguely alluded to, even though we’re actually in her head.
I thought Another Day might be an interesting look at what could’ve been a really interesting story from another perspective, but instead what I got what the same story that I really disliked the first time, only with added boring-ness as Rhiannon, really, is a terribly boring person. She also doesn’t really think about her boyfriend as she embarks on a relationship with A. And, okay, her relationship is rubbish anyway, but the way it’s presented, she wants to protect and preserve it, but really doesn’t do anything like that when A is around.
And also, she berates herself for not being attracted to girl bodies, because A is inside them. Hey, you can’t actually control that stuff.
The ending of Another Day was better than the ending of Every Day, because Rhiannon doesn’t just accept that A can set her up in a new relationship but it also read like a setup for a follow-on novel. And, having checked GoodReads, there is a third book on there, although the release date is still unknown. That’s not something I’ll be eagerly awaiting.
Two days left in this reading decathlon, and I’m pretty confident I’ll manage it. I still need to actually choose two more books to read for days 9 and 10, but I have lots of free time, so I can be confident enough in my success.