Tag Archives: Elves

You by Austin Grossman (review by Tasha M. ’20)

YouYou by Austin Grossman
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Austin Grossman’s You promises a fresh perspective on video games, with emphasis on how they are created and how they affect players, but ultimately fails to deliver. Russell, the protagonist, begins working as a game designer and attempts to find a bug in the code by playing through other games by the company, Black Arts Games. The writing is mostly descriptions of Russell’s experiences with the games, and almost nothing significant happens in the book’s reality.

The storyline started out a little far-fetched and rapidly devolved into a baffling wandering between several video games (each of which had enough description to bore but not enough to fully immerse the reader), Russell’s imagining of the characters in the video games, and Russell’s attempt to fix the bug. Also disorienting are the many sudden time and point-of-view shifts, and the incredibly blurred distinctions between the games, Russell’s imagination, and reality. The characterization was not much better. The reader learns almost nothing about Russell; the supporting characters, while very cookie-cutter, at least had definable personality traits.

In short, You spectacularly failed to live up to the high expectations it established, leaving me disappointed and at a loss as to what the purpose was. – Tasha M. ’20

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The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black (review by Andrew R. ’17)

The Darkest Part of the ForestThe Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The tiny town of Fairfold teeters right on the border between the human and faerie worlds, and its inhabitants know it. On one side of this border are the local public high school, the general store, the partying teenagers, the clueless tourists; on the other side are vicious monsters made of twigs and dirt, goblins who bathe in human blood, and a horned prince lying dormant in the middle of the woods. Not your typical story-book creatures, these faeries, but, as long as they’re not provoked, they’re willing to live in a fragile balance with their human neighbors—until local teenager Hazel and her brother Ben, wishful monster hunters extraordinaire, upset that balance beyond repair. Holly Black’s masterful world-building is on display in the court of the faerie king (modeled off the legendary German Erlkönig) and on the ominous small-town streets of Fairfold, but the novel’s real creativity lies in the intersection between the two worlds. The border separating the humans and faeries, it becomes clear, is frighteningly porous, and the influence of faerie magic in Fairfold is stronger than its inhabitants would like to admit… Black never relinquishes nuance in her characters in favor of plot, and as a result the novel feels neither simplistic nor rushed. Here is YA fantasy at its best: a world that seems as real as, or realer than, our own.

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The Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien (review by Andrew R. ’17)

The Silmarillion (Middle-Earth Universe)The Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“There was a lady Inzilbêth, renowned for her beauty, and her mother was Lindórië, sister of Eärendur, the Lord of Andúnië in the days of Ar-Sakalthôr father of Ar-Gimilzôr.” That kind of sentence, supersaturated with unpronounceable fantasy names that make even the most hardened Tolkien fan shudder, fills the entirety of The Silmarillion. This history of Middle-Earth, which Tolkien conceived decades before publishing The Lord of the Rings, is dense—so dense that I’m surprised the story doesn’t explode from the 300-page volume—I doubt I could have survived the whole thing without the aid of the index to remind me the difference between, for instance, Elwë and Olwë or Finarfin and Fingolfin. But despite the obvious difficulties (and there are many), The Silmarillion is easily the finest and most defining example of epic fantasy I’ve ever read, resplendent with mighty gods and thunderous battles. Yes, it requires a measure of patience and plenty of free time, and, yes, its target demographic is so small you have to squint to see it, but I hope a few battle-tested Tolkien fans will still be willing to give The Silmarillion a chance. – Andrew R. ’17

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