lexlingua: (WHAT!?)
Until I read Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, I hadn’t realized that madness gives you a key to the faerie/ magical worlds. Then I read Bleeding Violet, which shows that crazy can be cool— though with some immediate repercussions.

The blurb from Amazon:


Hanna simply wants to be loved. With a head plagued by hallucinations, a medicine cabinet full of pills, and a closet stuffed with frilly, violet dresses, Hanna’s tired of being the outcast, the weird girl, the freak. So she runs away to Portero, Texas, in search of a new home.

But Portero is a stranger town than Hanna expects. As she tries to make a place for herself, she discovers dark secrets that would terrify any normal soul. Good thing for Hanna, she’s far from normal. And when a crazy girl meets an even crazier town, only two things are certain: Anything can happen and no one is safe.


Hannah is a girl who suffers from bipolar disorder. She has been shunted from one place to the next after her father’s death and is in therapy. In one particular burst of manic depression and hurt, she hits her aunt on the head with a frying pan, and runs away to her mother’s home in an obscure weird city called Portero, Texas. Portero is called thus because it has a lot of portals (doors) to other worlds. Hannah’s mother, Rosalie, is not happy because she had abandoned Hannah as a kid because of various reasons. But Hannah is determined to stay in this crazy town and win her mother’s love. The highlight of the book is Hannah, (who is a flawed heroine but is instantly loveable) and Hannah’s need for mother’s love and her willingness to do anything to get it. One way to do this is by becoming friends with the Mortmaines, especially Wes — tale too complicated and fascinating to summarize— who go around hunting crazy creatures in the night.

The crazy creatures that Reeves cooks up in the book are all kinds of cool. It will bring to your mind all those strange blobs and goons from Cartoon Network scifi shows (like Johnny Quest, if you will). In fact, Bleeding Violet is like a comicbook, with some really fun-horror scenes and cool stunts.

There is a darker theme running underneath, of course. A crazy ghost is in town who’s looking to re-unite with his daughter, and who’s – spoilers — possessing Hannah’s mother, due to a series of unfortunate events set in motion by Rosalie and Hannah themselves. Getting Rosalie free of him will take Hannah all her love and all her badass effort. That’s the best part of this book— dealing with really weighty issues with lovely dollops of hope, and a treat to read.

Rating: 8/10
lexlingua: (Disney)
Fangirl has recently been the buzz book of blogosphere. Its subject is new and controversial— the ethics and perils of writing fanfiction. Cath is a girl who is a huge fan of Simon Snow (read= a take on Harry Potter) and likes writing fanfiction about his adventures in her spare time, which has become very popular among the fanfiction-readers. At the beginning of the book, Cath and her twin sister are moving into college, and this leaves Cath little room for writing. Her struggle between her love for the fictional Simon and the rigmarole of the real life (aka college, study, assignments, socializing) are what the book hinges on.

First of all, this book relates to me on a variety of levels, because I used to be a huge Harry Potter fan, and used to write Harry Potter fanfiction. If you have never indulged in this particular vice, you will never understand how big that fandom really is, and how much potential is there for reading and writing fanfiction pieces. You may not understand the drive to write a chapter a day, or wait anxiously for the writer to put a chapter a day for you to read. Several disclaimers are put up on the websites (like fanfiction.net, unknowableroom.org) —that everything belongs to JKR, and you’re just using (or usurping) her ideas for a non-commercial fair use. It’s a dangerous addiction, and one needs to know when to put a closure to your fanlove, because, it’s not getting you friends, it’s not getting you a livelihood, and its not making you so much wiser. It can be a terribly draining experience for the fans of fanfics.

These fans of fanfiction should be given this book to read. Though Cath never really lets go of the fandom, she also manages to draw a line (eventually) between her fanfiction life, and her love of writing about characters which are her own (not borrowed ones). But here the book’s weaknesses also come out. Cath could come out of her fanfiction make-believe world only because she had a support network to pull her out, and also because the real author stopped writing the books—and hence, stopped feeding the fandom. How many fans would be able to get that kind of closure is debatable. The message of coming back to “reality” was more subtle than I would have liked, but maybe that’s just me.

The book also seems to show that writing will inevitably kill your social time, which is true, as most authors would tell you— it’s a sacrifice that the author makes, to sit at home and write feverishly into the night, foregoing a lot of other fun times. Cath seems to have made the same choice, and is okay with it (though it does lead to a few fights).

The rest of the book deals with your typical YA/ teenager problems—alcohol abuse, selfish friends, sibling spats, unrequited crushes, et. al. The book’s other highlights are Cath’s relationships with her absent-minded father, her snarky roommate, and Levi, a gangly teenage guy with ADD syndrome (who’s Cath’s complete opposite and balances her in a way).

All in all, a good book, though more for the novelty of its topic.

Rating: 7/10

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