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Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Review: Through the Ever Night

There's nothing better than possibility living up to potential. Take books, for example, though movies work too. The first book of Veronica Rossi's distopian YA fantasy series, Under the Never Sky, was brilliant. The characters were complex, strong, able to roll with the curve balls the author threw at them, and not whiney! I can't over-emphasize the importance of whine-free leads in any book, but especially one starring teens. Ms. Rossi created believable flaws for her characters to overcome, and the story held up beautifully, even on the second read-through.

Just in time for the sequel.

When the sequel  to a book or movie you loved comes out, especially a full-paperback-priced-even-though-it's-a-kindle one, there's a hope/fear/anticipation combo going into it. Will the sequel live up to the standard set by book one? Will the possibility for greatness actually be realized? Or were all those pent-up words and amazing ideas that went into the first book the sum-total of the author's brilliance, and nothing else she writes will ever have the same passion or possibility of her debut novel? (Extrapolating a bit here - they always say, put yourself into your writing).

Through the Ever Night is a FANTASTIC sequel!

Aria and Perry are still flawed, still believable, still strong and complex, and they've grown as human beings in ways a reader hopes and expects them to, and yet still Ms. Rossi surprises the reader with the twists the characters themselves didn't know. And each character she introduces or revisits, including one villainous young man who begins to find his own strength, is alive on the page, no matter how small their role in the story. So often the second book in a series is the bridge - the part of the story that takes you from beginning to conclusion - the thing that fills in all the gaps and leaves you dangling over the precipice waiting another year or two for book three to come out. Veronica Rossi has enough respect for her readers not to do that to them. Through the Ever Night is its own story, has its own beginning, middle and end, and just like Under the Never Sky, completes one journey in a very satisfying way while enticing you to go on another one with the next book in the series.
Veronica Rossi has woven together all the elements of human stories that make them captivating: friendship and love, courage and passion, fear and strength, and a deep, abiding loyalty to her characters and her readers that gives depth and purpose to  the journey she takes us on.

The possibilities that Under the Never Sky created, with Aria, the formerly sheltered girl who came into her strength like she was born to it, and with Perry, whose fierce loyalty came with a huge price tag, became the fully realized potential of Through the Ever Night. There was no "Sophomore Slump" with book two of this wonderful series, and now I can look forward to re-reading both of these books with anticipation when book three finally emerges from Veronica Rossi's amazing skill, creativity and imagination.

Sunday, 3 March 2013

The choice to write

I've been talking about this a lot recently, to English classes full of teenagers, to book clubs of women my own age, to anyone who wonders "how did you write a book?"

I had to choose it every day, sometimes every hour or even every minute. I still do. When I think about the laundry piling up in corners of the boys' room becoming a habitat for the things that go bump in the night, I have to close the door and choose to write. Or the raised garden bed I emptied of the litter box-- I mean sandbox -- that mocks me and the shriveling herbs I bought three weeks ago to plant in it, I have to park my booty at the computer and pretend the wheelbarrow of chicken poop is still just "aging." To say nothing of the car that kids are leaving snarky messages on, or the leaves that need raking because they cover the dog and chicken poop exactly long enough to be stepped in by said snarky children. I have to choose to write instead of managing all the things that come with being a homeowner, a mom, a wife, a sister, daughter, friend, and sometimes even a human being.

Like this blog, for example. I'm writing this, so I'm not working on Tempting Fate. I had sick kids and a sick husband last week, so I didn't write. It's Sunday and I'm still not working on my book. I'm closer because I actually opened the file and diminished it on my screen. But writing isn't horseshoes or hand grenades. Close to writing isn't doing it. Thinking about the story isn't writing. Even researching for writing isn't putting the words down on paper.

Writing the book is the only writing that counts. Not the blog, not book reviews on Goodreads, not tweets of cool and pithy quotes from other authors. Just the book.

Sigh.

Choosing it now.