January 20

New Papercuts Podcast Released

I don’t imagine I’ll do this often, but since I did take a year-long hiatus from this blog, I thought I should mention that I am a founding member of Papercuts Podcast and one of three hosts.

We use the podcast to praise/bitch about the state of Young Adult media. We feature: YA book and movie reviews, trope talks, author interviews and whatever else us girls find relevant. We recently released our latest Podcast.  This one is on National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), where the goal is to write 50,000 words in thirty days. We discuss tips and tricks on how to win NaNo. The reasons you should and shouldn’t do NaNo. What to do once NaNo is over and more.

Here’s the podcast.  Though if you want to see the real page with all the juicy stuff that’s included you can go to: http://papercutspodcast.com/?p=688.  Be warned, we don’t watch our language, hold back on threats, or hide our dirty minds.


Right click to download

 

May 24

The Ascendance Trilogy by Jennifer A. Nielsen

False PrinceIn a discontent kingdom, civil war is brewing. To unify the divided people, Conner, a nobleman of the court, devises a cunning plan to find an impersonator of the king’s long-lost son and install him as a puppet prince. Four orphans are recruited to compete for the role, including a defiant boy named Sage. Sage knows that Conner’s motives are more than questionable, yet his life balances on a sword’s point — he must be chosen to play the prince or he will certainly be killed. But Sage’s rivals have their own agendas as well.
The False Prince is the first book in the trilogy and I must admit I wasn’t entirely sure what I’d think of when I started.  It was the right genre, but it was more literary than contemporary in feel. However, once I got past the first chapter Jennifer A. Nielsen held my attention. The story reminded me of Disney’s Aladdin and Prince and the Pauper. Trickery and wit allows the hero to survive the danger and save the day.
I must admit I suspected Sage’s true identity fairly early on, though I’m not sure if it was because the clues were obvious.  It could have simply been that I am older than the audience was intended for. But I still had a “What the…” reaction when I got to the reveal of that particular plot point and it wasn’t the good kind. I felt cheated and had hoped the story would go in a different direction. There were also times when Sage’s arrogance annoyed me, but considering his age and his history, his arrogance was realistic.
What didn’t seem realistic to me was how wily Sage was. He did things, anticipated things in a way that seemed almost prophetic. He thought pretty far into the future or made very good, very quick decisions on how to act, which is the case is not explained in any of the three books. But he’s at least consistent in those decisions.

RunawayKingJust weeks after Jaron has taken the throne, an assassination attempt forces him into a deadly situation. Rumors of a coming war are winding their way between the castle walls, and Jaron feels the pressure quietly mounting within Carthya. Soon, it becomes clear that deserting the kingdom may be his only hope of saving it. But the further Jaron is forced to run from his identity, the more he wonders if it is possible to go too far. Will he ever be able to return home again? Or will he have to sacrifice his own life in order to save his kingdom?
The sequel to the series, Runaway King, is decent. The story’s beginning caught my eye much faster than it’s older brother, but I also remember the particular story less than the other two. This one relies heavily on the whole “Prince in disguise” motif with some pirates thrown in.
His arrogance still exists in this book.  And he often sees those older than him as stupid and unwilling to see the truth. Again with his almost prophetic vision, he starts making plans for events that don’t even happen until book three. This book is truly a set-up for the third and final book, and while interesting, does suffer from that “middle book” syndrome trilogies often have in a second book.
Shadow ThroneWar has come to Carthya. It knocks at every door and window in the land. And when Jaron learns that King Vargan of Avenia has kidnapped Imogen in a plot to bring Carthya to its knees, Jaron knows it is up to him to embark on a daring rescue mission. But everything that can go wrong does.
His friends are flung far and wide across Carthya and its neighbouring lands. In a last-ditch effort to stave off what looks to be a devastating loss for the kingdom, Jaron undertakes what may be his last journey to save everything and everyone he loves. But even with his lightning-quick wit, Jaron cannot forestall the terrible danger that descends on him and his country. Along the way, will he lose what matters most? And in the end, who will sit on Carthya’s throne?

The finale kept my attention.  However, there were parts where I felt the storyline went on far too long.  Their was a lot of mourning without purpose and a lot of tracking down/chase scenes. The tension was tight though so I was never really bored with the book. His arrogance has dwindled down and he takes advice and help easier in this book.  But this book had the most problems of the three I think.  The motives for a few people weren’t clear until the end, and when the reason Mendenwal joined the war came out I wanted to yell, “That’s it?” King Humphrey went to war because of a lie Jaron’s father told and the fact Jaron challenged him to a sword fight when he was 10 for insulting his mother? The fact that “I promised him half of Carthya as his spoils of victory.” Felt thrown in as well.  Another issue I have: we never learn what happens to Mavis. He was a minor character, but I still wonder did he survive the war? Did Mavis and Jaron ever see each other again?
The three books are worth a read though none of them can be called flawless. And my favorite was the first, which really could have been a stand-alone. The series is male-dominated, but that doesn’t mean women don’t have a role. Imogen, and the princess both fight to protect the kingdom in different ways. Neither of them are trained to fight so a lot of it is with kitchen knives or risking their lives to ensure a plan works.  They both save Jaron at different times, in different ways. Their are also women in the story who prove ferocious, determined to protect their homes.
Have you read the Ascendance Trilogy? What did you think?

July 12

Perks of Being A Wallflower: A Review

Charlie is a Freshman. 

And while he’s not the biggest geek in the school, he is by no means popular. Shy, introspective, intelligent beyond his year yet socially awkward, he is a wallflower, caught between trying to live his life and trying to run from it.

Charlie is attempting to navigate his way through uncharted territory: the world of first dates and mix tapes, family dramas and new friends; the world of sex, drugs, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show, when all one requires is that perfect song on that perfect drive to feel infinite. But he can’t stay on the sidelines forever. Standing on the fringes of life offers a unique perspective. But there comes a time to see what it looks like from the dance floor.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a deeply affecting coming-of-age story that will spirit you back to those wild and poignant roller-coaster days known as growing up.

I honestly don’t know what it is with this book. I’ve read it once before but it had so little impression on me that I remembered only the vaguest details about it. I get the feeling I’ll experience the same thing this time around once homework is finished on the subject. The book is well-written in a letter/journal format. And I’ve read books that are similar to it but this one…something seems to be missing in it for me, though I couldn’t tell you what.

The Negative
I found aspects of this book unrealistic. Charlie seems way too naive to be a fifteen-year-old, twelve would be more realistic for how he sometimes acts and what he doesn’t know.  For instance, he doesn’t know what the word masturbation is, at fifteen.  I may be willing to believe that he lived in a very protective household and had no siblings, but Charlie’s family life seems, relaxed and he has two older siblings, both of which have had sex.  Charlie even caught his sister in the act at one point in the book. Also, he seems completely shocked when he has a wet dream.

Charlie cries if he’s given an unfriendly look. I know I’m sensitive, but even at fifteen I knew how to hold off tears until I was out of the public eye, swallowing them down until I could cry in privacy.  In the book he cries over everything. And, even if found this a realistic aspect, I found it incredibly annoying. I didn’t find it appealing.

Their are a few other things, but those were the biggest ones.

The Positive
Despite the parts I listed above, I did believe that Charlie was surviving high school. He experiences things that are real teenagers experiment with, from drugs to sex to love. Chbosky doesn’t back away from those actions or the ensuing consequences. One character winds up pregnant and getting an abortion, relationships are broken and mended, though not always. He experiences life.

The journal/letter format presents Charlie with a realistic release on the pressures he endures in his life. I don’t believe this would have worked as well, however if the book weren’t set in the 1990s. Modern technology would have made the story completely different.

Overall
This book is in no way meant for me and I’m glad I haven’t purchased the book.  Aren’t libraries great? However, I can see how other people may enjoy this book.  My advice, get the book only if you’re interested in realistic fiction, with a slight psychological bent.  That part probably needed enhanced more for my enjoyment.  The theme to the book is discovering yourself, and surviving. No specific plot. More of a year-in-the-life of a teenager.

Have you read this book? What did you think?

 

June 20

Princess Bride Review

What happens when the most beautiful girl in the world marries the handsomest prince of all time and he turns out to be…well…a lot less than the man of her dreams? 

As a boy, William Goldman claims, he loved to hear his father read the S. Morgenstern classic, The Princess Bride. But as a grown-up he discovered that the boring parts were left out of good old Dad’s recitation, and only the “good parts” reached his ears. 

Now Goldman does Dad one better. He’s reconstructed the “Good Parts Version” to delight wise kids and wide-eyed grownups everywhere. 

What’s it about? Fencing. Fighting. True Love. Strong Hate. Harsh Revenge. A Few Giants. Lots of Bad Men. Lots of Good Men. Five or Six Beautiful Women. Beasties Monstrous and Gentle. Some Swell Escapes and Captures. Death, Lies, Truth, Miracles, and a Little Sex. 

In short, it’s about everything

I read the abridged version and judging by what Goldman said took place in the chapters/sections that he took out, I’m glad I did. I don’t think I would have read the entirety of Morgenstern’s story if Goldman’s descriptions are accurate. I don’t read satire often, so I more than likely wouldn’t have even seen those bits as satire. And given up, wondering “What is the Point?” of showing this?

The book and movie have a lot of similarities. They are pretty close.  However you get much deeper character understanding.  Fezzik’s parents started enrolling him in fights when he was eight and dragged him from country to country to compete despite him hating fighting, until they died. You learn of how Inigo lived after his father died, along with the details of his father’s death. Even Miracle Max has an interesting history that’s revealed in the story.

Inigo and Fezzik did not have as easy a time getting Westley out of the Pet of Despair, which is actually called the Zoo of Death in the book.  After getting passed the Albino, they have to get past snakes, bats and other horrors.

The ending is different.  Everyone gets on the horse to escape, like they do in the movie.  However, that’s not where the book ends.  The book ends on a cliffhanger, leaving readers to decide whether and how the characters get a happy ending.  After all, remember, Count Rugen did do a lot of damage to Inigo during their battle. So he’s bleeding badly.  The ‘miracle’ Max performed on Westley is starting to reverse itself, which is reasonable with how it’s written in the book.  Fezzik and Buttercup also get in trouble.  And Prince Humperdink and his men are in hot pursuit of all of them.

The book gives a lot more characterization, details and a few extra adventures than the movie does. In the book you get to meet the Princess of Guilder, Buttercup’s parents and see how Humperdink ended up meeting Buttercup, among other things. I enjoyed this book. However, the movie is a good representation of the book. Or at least the abridged version. Unless you’re wanting a deeper understanding of the characters or the world, you don’t need to read it. But you won’t regret it either.

June 18

Stardust: Book Review


Hopelessly crossed in love, a boy of half-fairy parentage leaves his mundane Victoria.n-English village on a quest for a fallen star in the magical realm. The star proves to be an attractive woman with a hot temper, who plunges with our hero into adventures featuring witches, the lion and the unicorn, plotting elf-lords, ships that sail the sky, magical transformations, curses whose effects rebound, binding conditions with hidden loopholes and all the rest.

This is going to be more of a movie/book comparison than a book review. Hopefully you don’t mind, but when homework requires the book, and the screenplay to be read and the movie watched, it’s hard not to make the comparison.

To be honest, I think the way the movie tells the story makes a little more sense and is a little more realistic than what the book does. I’m not saying the book was bad. The movie kept to the book for the most part.  But unsurprisingly there were differences between the book and the movie. In the book,Tristan has a sister, whose 6 months younger than him, a fact that Tristan never seems to find suspicious, there is no Humphrey tormenting Tristan, though there is a Victoria and their relationship isn’t quite what the movie suggests, but she does tell him to go after the star.

The way Tristan and his father cross the wall is completely different from the movie. No one gets hurt, though seeing poor Tristan get beaten up by a 90-something-year-old in the movie was funny. A minor point I suppose but one of the things I prefer about the movie is that Tristan is told about his mother before he crosses the wall.  In the book, he believes his father’s wife to be his mother and he continues to believe that until near the end of the book. The movie, I believe, was a little more believable in that respect.

Since Tristan did not exactly cross the wall in the movie, we skip over a lot of elements that happened in the book and he lands on the star. I can see why the movie did this as it pushed the pace of the story along and you don’t really lose anything for them having done it.  For in the book, a creature helps Tristan out. Tristan helps him out, etc. And eventually the creature gives Tristan a Babylon candle, which is how he finds the star.  The candle works in completely different ways between the book and the movie but the effect is the same. Again, the way Tristan received the candle in the movie seemed more efficient and more believable, especially since his Mother really did want to see Tristan again.

Nursery rhymes appear throughout the book. But they’re real in the world Tristan finds himself in.  A unicorn and a lion are found fighting for a crown. That’s how the unicorn is encountered in the book. The unicorn had significantly more screen time in the book than in the movie.

However the pirates have significantly less time in the book than in the movie.  The captain is also not named Shakespeare, he’s not gay and he doesn’t pretend to throw Tristan out a window..  He is very kind. I prefer the movie version. The captain and crew had a great deal more personality and I really enjoyed the contrast of Shakespeare being gay and a fierce pirate.

Their is no real showdown at the end of the book.  The witch approaches the star, asks hers some questions, especially about her heart and, after having tried to kill her several times before, wishes her well and walks away. As for Tristan’s…uncles… Well, the last one dies in a way completely different from the movie. So, either way you look at it, the book has an anti-climatic ending.

He meets his mother. Travels for 8 years and then, finally takes the throne.

The book has more characterization in it, more character depth and more complications in it than the movie does.  The movie sticks to the major plot points and has more action.  The book, however, has more sex scenes and more cuss words. Both are worth checking out if you haven’t seen them.  But I much prefer the faster-paced movie.

June 4

The Art Of Wishing By Lindsay Ribar Review

He can grant her wishes, but only she can save his life. 

Margo McKenna has a plan for just about everything, from landing the lead in her high school play to getting into a good college. So when she finds herself in possession of a genie’s ring and the chance to make three wishes, she doesn’t know what to do. Why should she put her life into someone else’s hands?

But Oliver is more than just a genie — he’s also a sophomore at Margo’s high school, and he’s on the run from a murderer. As he and Margo grow closer, she discovers that it will take more than three wishes to save him.

A whole lot more.

So, since I’m trying to give my reviews a more even feel to them I thought I’d be extremely obvious about the positives and the negatives in this book.

The Positives.

Ribar seems to make a strong attempt at abandoning a lot of the tropes that are common in recent paranormal Young Adult novels.  Margo, our heroine, has hobbies. She loves theater and wants to become a song writer. She has friends and during the novel her best friend and her fight, not over a guy, but because her friend believes Margo…betrayed her. Margo isn’t defined by her relationship with Oliver– or her relationship with any guy. She’s had boyfriends before. Oliver is far from her first…interest.  Margo does not wait around to be rescued.  In fact, she rescues Oliver twice. Margo has realistic doubts about Oliver.  When she realizes that Oliver can transform himself to suit his mater’s wants, she questions how he really feels about her.  Is it all an act?  Something that’s against his will because of the master/slave genie thing?  Or is it genuine.  She also freaks out when he finds out how much of an age difference between them their truly is. Margo has issues with her parents, which are seen consistently throughout the book and not just in one or two throw-away scenes.

She’s snarky and witty.  So we get some interesting lines like:

(….) Oh god. I’m one of those girls.”
“What girls?” he asked, perplexed.
“Those girls. The ones in all those books and TV shows. Some dumb high school girl falls in love with some supernatural guy and he’s all, ‘Behold, I am five million years old!” and she’s all, “Oh my god, how can you ever love pathetic little me!” and he’s like ‘Because of destiny!’ or whatever. It’s just so…ew. You know?”
There was a pause. When I finally chanced a look up at him, he was biting his lip, like he was trying really hard not to laugh.
“What?” I said defensively.
“You’re in love with me?”
“Pffft. No. I’ve known you for like a week.” Another pause. “You’re a really good kisser, through.”

Ribar also has some passages in her book that poke fun of other books of various YA genres.

A minute or so passed by–not long but long enough to make me wonder whether Oliver was setting up mood lighting or hiding dead bodies. Or if someone was up there awaiting to stab me again. o r is someone was up there to hand me a crown and tell me I was the long-lost princess of Genovia. Or if I’d tumble into a pit of lava, only to get saved at the last second by a flying carpet.

The hero, Oliver, is not a certifiable jackass.  He is deeply into photography, waffles and getting a reaction out of Margo. He seems to be a genuine good guy and a role model for how boys should treat a girl and what a girl should expect from a boy.

 

The Negatives.

Although Oliver didn’t come across as flat to me, I felt his character, especially his past could have been deepened significantly in this book. We get the gist of his story but it’s obvious their could have and probably is a lot more.

Their were areas in the book that I wanted clarification on.  Genies can have genies for masters? How does that work?  And areas where I wasn’t sure of the time rush.  Why was Xavier in such a rush to get the ring? I mean, 3 wishes and he can have it again.  The only reason I can think of was that the book needed some tension and Xavier was convenient   Honestly, Xavier reminded me a lot of Akasha (in the book, not the movie) or even Yaksha who was after Sita, goal-wise anyways. I didn’t know the character quite well-enough to understand his deeper goal so he came across as cartoonish.

Although Margo and Oliver did not have “love at first sight”,  their was some “insta-love” in the book.  At first they were awkward, “Shit you’re a genie,” moments between them.  Then they became friends and then all of the sudden they’re kissing and in love.  I suppose considering how short the book is that’s the only way they could get to the “love” state.  But it seemed too sudden for a realistic relationship.

The ending….
Without ruining anything the ending was…well…a trope.

Can’t say anything else without ruining it.  But it ends in a place where it makes it obvious a sequel is on its way.  But if this had to be the last book you read…you’d be…okay with it.  Their was enough of a conclusion, a sense of what would happen to consider it a stand-alone.

Overall

I found the book entertaining.  I read it while in an airport or on a plane.  It’s a simple, light-hearted read. I have issues with aspects of it, but that’s expected with a debut novelist and, I’m hoping that those “issues” will be addressed in the sequel. I will be picking the sequel, The Fourth Wish, up when it comes out. It’s a cute book that takes a step in the right direction of where books needs to go.

March 23

Good Things Can Make Your Writing Stronger Too

As a writer, I know the importance of receiving a good critique from an honest eye. I appreciate the comments I get, the suggestions on how to make my work better, perhaps too much.  When I’m receiving critiques, I often find myself skipping over the complimentary stuff, almost ignoring it completely and focus on the “may improve” suggestions.  That isn’t to say that I don’t appreciate the occasional “Good Job” written on the manuscript, but it’s a secondary desire to improving my writing.

This, unfortunately, has caused problems for me, mainly when I try to critique someone else’s writing. I try to give those I critique what I want most–ideas on improvements. I will, on occasion, put a “Great Job” on the page, but those are extremely rare, mainly because I understand that the best way to improve is to get critiques and work on improving the area of confusion. This has left some people disheartened, even some who I believe to be talented writers.   As an MFA student, I am required to give critiques to classmates–a mixture of good and how to improves.  Although I’m good at identifying what needs improved, I really have problems thinking up the positives in the work to mention.  I’m not sure why, other than I’ve never really focused my attention on the positives I received during my reviews.

I can absolutely love a story but when I write something up, I’ll start listing the negatives, what bothered me about it and what I thought needed changed–even if what I’m reviewing has already been published.  This works out for me as well, since that lets me know what kind of things I need to avoid if I’m going to write a book in a similar genre.  Then, when I’m done, the  few positives I listed  beside the (possible) super-long list of negatives appear miniscule, pitying and/or may be invisible.

Recently I’ve read a book where the author pointed out that identifying the positives and negatives in a work can be beneficial to ones writing. The negatives I’ve already mentioned, will let me know what to avoid, what I don’t like, etc.  The positives, however, will let me know what I need to do more often.   For example, I nailed a description on page 32.  By knowing that, I can try using the same method used to get that description to create other great ones.  In that way, I’m improving skills that I’m already decent at, not just improving things that I’m poor at.

With that realization, I’m hoping that I can write up a more balanced review/critique every time I write one.  I don’t imagine this will be easy.  I’m almost blind to the positives in someone’s work, especially if the piece isn’t something that makes me go  “BEST BOOK EVER!!!”  But I think that learning to balance the positives and the negatives in a review or critique will serve both the writer and I better.  I may need help reaching this goal. And if my dear readers have time, I would appreciate a nudge whenever I focus too much on the negative. Remind me that I want to try thinking up more positives.  Lately, I feel like the latest books I’ve reviewed have come across as negative, when in fact I may have enjoyed the book.  And if you have any questions as to whether I liked a book or not, let me know.  I’d be more than happy to clear that up.

So, don’t do what I’ve done for years, ignore the positive and learn from the negative.  The positives in your writing could make you a stronger writer too.

What about you?  Do you focus on the negative?  The positive?  What about when the comments are from someone else and directed at your own work?

December 4

Another book Podcast

The undead can really screw up your senior year … 

Marrying a vampire definitely doesn’t fit into Jessica Packwood’s senior year “get-a-life” plan. But then a bizarre (and incredibly hot) new exchange student named Lucius Vladescu shows up, claiming that Jessica is a Romanian vampire princess by birth—and he’s her long-lost fiancee. Armed with newfound confidence and a copy of Growing Up Undead: A Teen Vampire’s Guide to Dating, Health, and Emotions, Jessica makes a dramatic transition from average American teenager to glam European vampire princess. But when a devious cheerleader sets her sights on Lucius, Jess finds herself fighting to win back her wayward prince, stop a global vampire war – and save Lucius’s soul from eternal destruction.

So my friends and I got back together and made another podcast.  This time we did a review on Jessica’s Guide to Dating on the Dark Side by Beth Fantaskey. Olivia, Cyna and I also decided to make the podcasts a regular thing. As such, we’ve come up with Papercuts Podcast.”  Stealing from Cyna because she described it so well, i”we’ll regularly discuss YA literature and entertainment. It won’t always be straight book reviews – we’ve also got plans for tropes discussions, trailer snark, book vs. movie chats, guest reviewers, and hopefully some interviews in the future, so we’re really looking forward to getting this off the ground, and we hope you guys are, too.”

Since we’re still new to this, we’re still trying to figure out how to make this all work.  Any suggestions on improvements or topics you want to see us discuss are welcomed.
October 10

Tenderness Critical Review

Almost any writer can tell you that the three act structure consists of Set up, Confrontation and Resolution.  However there are more ways to write a story then the three act structure.  A book could be written with three, four, five or even six acts. Robert Cormier provides a strong example of the four act structure in his novel Tenderness.

According to Larry Brooks the first act of the four act structure “introduces the hero in his everyday life, sets a hook to keep readers reading, establishes the hero’s stakes (what he cares about that will be endangered later), and foreshadows later events. It also introduces the changes in the hero’s life that propel him toward the First Plot Point.”

Readers see the first act in first 100 pages of Tenderness. Readers are in the first Act of the story. In this act we meet Lori, learn about her fixations and see how she gets rid of them with Thrash. Afterwards, while watching the news, readers see her develop another fixation on admitted killer, Eric Poole.  Unwilling to leave town before she gets rid of her fixation on him, Lori finds a temporary refuge at Harmony House.

Eric’s past is revealed through an interrogation by a police officer. He then foils the officer’s plans to keep him in prison. On one of his last days in prison, Eric develops his own fixation on a girl, Maria, who fits his victim profile.

In The Four-Part Structure, Larry Brooks wrote the following about act two, “Everything the hero cares about (and readers came to care about in Part 1) is in danger. The hero is usually just reacting to what happened at the First Plot Point—not being proactive. She might try to save the day, but if she does, it doesn’t work yet.”

From pages 100 to 140, readers are in act two. Eric stays at his Aunt Phoebe’s house. While waiting for the media to lose interest in him, Eric thinks about Maria and slowly grows tired of biding his time. He wants to kill Maria. Meanwhile, because Eric avoids the media watching his aunt’s house for him, Lori is unable to see Eric, much less remove her fixation.  She is stalled, non-active beyond keeping a vigil on Eric’s house in the hopes of him coming out.

Eric however has seen Lori through the back window of the house.  She looks familiar to him at first, but he eventually remembers that she was a potential witness to one of the murders he committed years ago and wonders if she might be a lose end he has to kill to maintain his freedom.

Concurrently, one of the girls at Harmony House is trying to get Lori in trouble and Lori recognizes she can’t stay there any longer. Giving up on removing her fixation on Eric, she leaves Harmony House to return home. Before she leaves, however, she swings by his house one final time to say a silent goodbye.

Act three, according to Larry Brooks, is when “the hero becomes proactive, and begins to seriously fight back against the antagonist. He also starts to fight against the inner demons that are holding him back.”

From pages 140 to 214, readers are in the third act structure.  In this act, Lori and Eric finally meet or are reunited as the case may be.  However Eric is suspicious of her and wonders if he needs to kill her. They spend some time together, during which Eric decides Lori isn’t a threat to him and Lori manages to get rid of fixation of him. By then she has grown to care for Eric though and realizing he has not been freed of his fixation on Maria, Lori encourages Eric to go after her. Maria is a trap however. Lori realizes this and stops Eric from hurting Maria, before he has done anything the police can arrest him on. The police threaten to arrest Lori for interfering and she runs into the woods to escape them.

In the Four-Part Structure, Larry Brooks wrote that in Act four “Everything in the previous three parts comes together in a final climax, in which the hero shows that she’s overcome her inner demons. After that, there’s a bit of time for tying up loose ends.”

From page 217 to 229 readers are in the fourth act. Once Lori and Eric find each other again, they decide to celebrate their near escape and rent a canoe in the park. They trust each other, are fond of each other and feel they may be together for a while.  However Lori falls out of the canoe and into the river.  Eric tries to save her. However Lori dies and Eric is sent to prison for her accidental death. In prison, Eric mourns for the loss of a living creature for the first time in his life, which ends the four act structure.

Cormier is a master storyteller, who uses the lesser known four act-structure to tell the story of a serial killer and his would-be accomplice.

Works Cited

Brooks, Larry. “The Four-Part Structure.” Squidoo. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 Oct. 2012. .Cormier, Robert. Tenderness: A Novel. New York: Delacorte, 1997. Print.
October 10

City of Bones: Critical Review

City of Bones opens at a dance club called Pandemonium. Inside, a demon searches for prey among the dancing humans. By slowing this scene down and choosing the correct words, Clare turns a simple walk across a crowded club into a sort of dance that also raises the tension in her novel.  This is seen in passages like:

His hand tightened on the blade he carried and he had begun to step out onto the dance floor when a girl broke away from the mass of dancers and began walking toward him. (…) She smiled, passing him, beckoning with her eyes.  He turned to follow her, tasting the phantom sizzle of her death on his lips. (3)

Despite the demon’s unsavory intentions, this passage has a clear flirtatious feel to it, at least from the girl who is later identified as Isabelle. She is acts almost predatorily with the way she moves around him, makes sure that he sees her and he watches.  We know she’s constantly moving but readers may not realize how much it’s mentioned because Clare wisely chose her words carefully. Instead of several “walks” and “moves,” readers instead encounter “step out,” “broke away,” “neared him” and “passing him.”  Keeping their constant movement from feeling repetitive as it would have if Clare had used the same set of words repetitively to tell the actions.

On the next page, the constant walking continues with the following passage but Clare’s choice of words only adds to the tension that the author has already started to build:

The girl was a pale ghost retreating through the colored smoke. She reached the wall and turned, bunching her skirt up in her hands, lifting it as she grinned at him. Under the skirt she was wearing thigh-high boots.
He sauntered up to her, his skin prickling with her nearness. (…)
A cool smiled curled his lips. She moved to the side and he could see that she was leaning against a closed door. No Admittance—Storage was scrawled across it in red paint.  She reached behind her for the knob, turned it, slid inside.  (…)
He slipped into the room after her, unaware that he was being followed. (4)

Here the words that Clare uses to show the girl’s movements up the tension in the same way that simply slowing the scene down does. The word “retreat” has connotations of fear and prey attached to it.  However the word sauntered is the opposite. Someone who saunters is confident, perhaps even a predator. And as readers are aware that the boy/demon wishes to make a meal of the girl, the tension is raised with those word choices.

In two pages, with the two above passages, Clare describes the boy and girl walking at least ten times and only actually uses the word walking once.  Instead Clare uses descriptions like “retreat,” “sauntered,” or “pass” to add more tension and keep redundancy at bay.

Works Cited
Clare, Cassandra. City of Bones: The Mortal Instruments #1. New York: Simon Pulse, 2008. Print.