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The Ninja Reader

High-brow or downright pretentious, good PNR or sparkly vampires, I don't care about the premise so long as it entertains me.

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Bullying: The Social Destruction of Self
Laura Martocci
The Dark Wife - Sarah Diemer Cross-posted with my tumblrYou know, even with my exam lurking around the corner, there's no heartache a good novel can't fix.Why yes, I do believe that. Why else would I always keep a copy of Lips Touch: Three Times grounds me when I ought to be nervously leafing through my textbook in the hopes of some knowledge seeping through into my head. In case you haven't cottoned on, I loved this book. I loved the characters, I loved the prose, and I loved the three-headed puppy. And I'm supposed to be a cat person!That's not to say that the book is flawless. Like a lot of my friends here on LJ, I was slightly annoyed at how black and white the characterization was. Although I loved Hades and Persephone and everyone, I felt like maybe a little more moral ambiguity would have made the story even better. After all, the Greek Gods are not quite known to hold a grudge - take Hera, for example. Spends all those years trying to wipe out Hercules, but in the end lets him have her daughter Hebe for wife when he is accepted amongst the gods of Olympus. Nevertheless, those flaws can be overlooked, and I do think that the novel more than makes up for them when it comes to the world-building and mythology. First of all, this is a retelling of the Hades and Persephone story which stays true to the original, but adds up to it, which as I understand is quite a rarity nowadays. The elements of the story are there: the descent into the Underworld, the pomgranade, we even have a meeting in a field of flowers and scattered petals. However, those elements are changed in a way which fits the story, and I have to say, the symbolism here is superb. But wait, you say, don't you love character-driven novels? Yes, yes I do. And I like the characters here, even if they're "either, or". But when it comes to folk tales and myths being retold, I like to give priority to how much the retelling stays true to the original, and not just because I'm a bit of a fairy tale geek. Storytelling is, in my opinion, the world's oldest religion. Long ago, our forefathers used made up stories to explain what was inexplicable to themselves. It made perfect sense to accredit fire and thunder to a diety, even if nowadays we know how both of these occur. Later on, folk tales were used to explain things and give advise on things which were otherwise difficult to talk about: Red Riding Hood, for example, is a cautionary tale for girls to guard one's virginity and stay on the path (seriously, you know that a fairy tale is not meant for children when Disney doesn't make an animated movie about it). Hell, even Shakespere didn't go easy on the symbolism and morals: "Romeo and Juliet" is not so much a love story than a tale of teenage stupidity and lust.What I meant by all this is that myths are important, and that they convey important ideas. The way the Underworld is described makes perfect sense to me, because in Greek mythology, while the Gods are fickle, sins do get punished: Sisyphus, for example, or the Danaides are sentensed to eternal fruitless labors. Hell, Hercules' labors were meant to atone for his sins, not to win him immortality. It's that evening of the score which reminds us that while the Greek gods were fickle, they were not unjust, and I'm really glad that this was the way Diemer described the Underworld - not as a Heaven or Hell, but an equalizer. So, in a nutshell: This is a great book with some amazing writing, world-building, mythology and characters. Highly recommended to anyone.