Sunday, September 13, 2009

The Dubious Hills questions

I was rereading The Dubious Hills (again) last night and wondered about some things I hadn't noticed before. I still think it's a really good book with a bittersweet (but open) ending.

These questions of mine are bound to be at least a little spoilery.

1. Why does Mally seem to give Arry particularly useless answers when everyone else seems to know what she says about everyone else? Does Mally think (know) it's better for Arry's character for her to search on her own, even though she never finds the answers, or is she just teasing her? Or are the questions Arry asks truly outside of Mally's province?

2. I noticed, perhaps for the first time, Halver's line about the intelligence being unable to make a choice. Every other time I've read the book I thought that Arry had good reasons for wanting to stay the way she was, but now I wonder how much truth was in what Halver said. Even the choice Arry makes at the end doesn't seem directly related to the choice Halver wanted her to make. On the other hand, it seems Halver made the choice he wants everyone else to make, so what he said can't be entirely true. What do the spells really do?

3. Presumably some explanation will be in the sequel (coming out sometime), but why did Arry's parents leave her? I really noticed this time, despite the way she sees herself (or at least the calm, in-control impression she gives from her narrative voice), she really seems to be only barely managing to take care of her little brother and sister.

4. Why is the doubt worse in the morning?

Sunday, September 06, 2009


Eyes Like Stars, by Lisa Mantchev. This is just about like R. J. Anderson says; Bertie has to come up with a reason she should be allowed to stay at the theater that's become her home (literally). There is some crude humor but not much that's truly objectionable (the hot tub scene probably crosses the line) and the book is funny despite it. I'll accept a lot if it's funny. Despite the first chapter (which I read online and said "meh" to) the book takes off quickly. One aspect to note is the dreamlike feel: one can accept the oddities of players but the motivations and actions of certain characters (particularly the Theater Manager) make less sense by the end of the book than they did at the beginning. Maybe this will be rectified in acts two and three.

Secrets of Truth and Beauty, by Megan Frazer. This is more a coming of age story than anything. Dara is pulled out of school by her parents over a misinterpreted English project (although who misinterpreted it is in question) and feels pushed to the breaking point. She decides to meet up with the sister she's never met. Goats ensue. (I am not kidding.) Also the usual working through difficult relationship issues with other people stuff. Dara has a lot of things going for her (boldness, persistence, long-ago dance lessons, a great singing voice) but really doesn't know how to deal with her parents or her sister. The book does have an emphasis on homosexuality (in other characters) which, although I liked the characters for other reasons, might be offensive.

Wintergirls, by Laurie Halse Anderson. Super intense, maybe supernatural, maybe not. It's indisputable that Lia has an eating problem. This is a gripping read but not light reading.

The Princess and the Bear, by Mette Ivie Harrison. I liked this better than The Princess and the Hound (I think there was more character stupidity in that one), probably because of the romantic aspect, but the prose still felt clumsy at times. You don't really have to have read the other to enjoy this although a basic idea of what happened might be useful.

Do Hard Things, by Alex and Brett Harris. I just started reading this but so far I agree with it to a remarkable degree. The basic idea is that teens fulfill expectations. Since we don't expect much of them in our culture, most waste incredible potential in their teen years which could be used to set a direction for the rest of their lives. I've thought for a long time that people should grow up (I would say sooner, but I think there are some who never grow up), myself included. The rest of the book is apparently (not having read it yet) a roadmap to doing hard things.