Monday, May 2, 2016

April 2016 #OABookClub: A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

Welcome back! In April, the members of Operation Awesome read A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab.


It took me a while to get used to the writing in A Darker Shade of Magic. I kept describing it to myself as "dense." Not a bad thing, let me be clear: I really enjoyed the writing. I just couldn't read more than a couple chapters at a time until I got used to it. Then I was reading large chunks, and really getting into it.

I loved the characters; Kell in particular, from the moment he showed a little bit of kindness to mad King George. The magic of the different Londons was fascinating; I found myself wanting to know more.

The one complaint I had (if you could really call it a complaint) was that the book tied things up too neatly! I liked that, but I didn't feel compelled to start the sequel (A Gathering of Shadows) immediately, even though I checked both books out from the library at the same time. In between finishing ADSOM and starting AGOS, I read three other books. I would have liked a little more of a cliffhanger or at least a hint of what was to come in the next book to keep me going. As it is, I'm mostly reading AGOS now because I like V.E. Schwab's fantasy world, not because I have a burning desire to find out what happens next. Even so, that's a pretty minor complaint.


I read A Darker Shade of Magic in a weekend, which is somewhat uncommon for me at this point in my life because of the many other things going on. However, my speed-read wasn't so much the narrative pull, but because the writing flowed. I like V.E. Schwab's voice, and it was easy to get into.

However, I am doomed to analyze everything I ever read or watch, and in this case, I must report that the beginning was not done properly. By properly, I mean following the commonly touted advice given to writers aspiring to publication. What I would consider the first chapter inciting incident (discovering the Black London trinket) didn't occur until about 100 pages in, which means the first quarter was world- and character-building. We followed the main character hither and yon as he completed tasks that were unrelated to the overarching plot. Of course, that meant the true Act I to Act II transition occurred late (the midpoint--nearly halfway through), and the rest felt rushed and underdeveloped.

That being said, I would still recommend it to anyone interested in the premise or a fan of Victoria's other work. She's very strong with world-building, and talent covers a multitude of sins.


May's Operation Awesome Book of the Month

In May, to celebrate the category and genre of our upcoming #PassOrPages contest, we're reading Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt.

Doomed to - or blessed with - eternal life after drinking from a magic spring, the Tuck family wanders about trying to live as inconspicuously and comfortably as they can. When ten-year-old Winnie Foster stumbles on their secret, the Tucks take her home and explain why living forever at one age is less a blessing that it might seem. Complications arise when Winnie is followed by a stranger who wants to market the spring water for a fortune.

Come back on Monday, May 2, to discuss what you thought of the book!

#LesMisRead2016 Update from Samantha

I'm working on getting caught up from getting behind last month on reading Les Miserables, but the story ground to a halt with the description of the Battle of Waterloo. I ended up sending out a plea to my Twitter followers to ask if I really had to read those chapters, and the answer was, "No, just read the ending of that section." So that's what I did--only after summoning up the willpower after a week of not reading.

That's the kind of thing that frustrates me about classics. I like a contemporary pacing. It's unfortunate because so far, I've been impressed with this book. I might even say that it's my favorite classic I've ever read. (And I'm reading the abridged version, so I wouldn't have expected a wikipedia-page explanation of a battle right in the middle of the action.)

Thanks for stopping by. Let us know what you thought of A Darker Shade of Magic in the comments!

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