Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Pantomime by Laura Lam: Review

Pantomime by Laura Lam

Paperback, US, 392 pages
Expected publication: February 5th 2013 by Strange Chemistry

My copy: NetGalley

Goodreads Summary:

R. H. Ragona’s Circus of Magic is the greatest circus of Ellada. Nestled among the glowing blue Penglass—remnants of a mysterious civilisation long gone—are wonders beyond the wildest imagination. It’s a place where anything seems possible, where if you close your eyes you can believe that the magic and knowledge of the vanished Chimaera is still there. It’s a place where anyone can hide.

Iphigenia Laurus, or Gene, the daughter of a noble family, is uncomfortable in corsets and crinoline, and prefers climbing trees to debutante balls. Micah Grey, a runaway living on the streets, joins the circus as an aerialist’s apprentice and soon becomes the circus’s rising star.

But Gene and Micah have balancing acts of their own to perform, and a secret in their blood that could unlock the mysteries of Ellada.

REVIEW:

Pantomime by Laura Lam is a book with a secret. Whoever made its blurb is a sweet, highly intelligent liar. You need to read the book to find the secret, and trust me when I say that you are going to be surprised. It’s the kind of thing that if I were to just tell you right now, would lead to you saying “WHAT?” with extreme independent eyebrow movement. But Laura Lam manages to work it into the book, into the emotion of the book, in a light, magical way that is exciting and original.

Pantomime is not an exciting book. It’s not the kind of book that will lead to pounding hearts and “OMG, OMG, WHAT JUST HAPPENED, MY HEART BLEEDS” It’s a slow, explorative book. It’s layered and light and dark at the same time. There is magic in it and a different world, but it is not a book that delves deeply into its world. Instead it skims lightly over the surface, promising more to come. It sets up, it confuses, it frustrates at times, but you always know that this is just the superficial stuff that you’re seeing. Laura Lam’s got a lot more to give us.

It’s a book about circuses. I love books about circuses. I loved The Night Circus so much that I still won’t lend my copy to anyone. Pantomime looks at the darker side of circuses though. Like Water for Elephants. There are freaks and a self-important, occasionally cruel circus manager. There is loneliness and difficulty to accept someone new and dreams that can’t be realized. It’s different from The Night Circus in that very fundamental way: the circus is the story in The Night Circus, but in Pantomime, the circus is simply the setting. The characters are the story.

Iphigenia Laurus hates everything about her life: from the ladylike life she’s supposed to lead to her ridiculous name. This girl would rather climb trees than wear a ballgown, but her mother is insistent on finding her a good society husband. But Gene has new things to worry about, secrets old and new are suddenly rearing their heads and she needs to do something before she loses sight of who she herself is. Micah Grey is a boy who becomes an aerialist at the circus. He has his secrets, secrets that may hurt the girl that he’s coming to love, secrets that may mean something to the world he lives in. Gene and Micah have to come to terms with who they are in Pantomime, and with that nasty cliffhanger Laura Lam leaves us with, its sure that they still have a long way to go in the sequel.

This is a book as much about identity and self-discovery as it is about anything else. My only quibble is that it could have had a better execution. While Lam’s writing is fresh and her premise original, it could have been a really exciting book, a really exciting world. Magic makes everything better, but just the right dose of it! Usually I have a problem with authors going overboard and all kinds of deux-ex-machinas happening, but this time it’s so understated it’s barely there. That sense of wonder I was expecting didn’t quite happen with Pantomime. That quirk I was looking for wasn’t there.

But Pantomime is a good read. Most of you will love it, and the pretty cover helps.

3.5 stars from me, and I will be picking up the next installment.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

2012 Roundup (a.k.a What The Hell Was I Doing This Past Year?)

Well, Happy New Year y'all.

It's time for the roundup. (I say that like I do the bloody thing every year when this is the first time I ever bothered)

This is a me-vs-me Q&A round, complete with random GIFS ( All of them Supernatural, because for me this is the year of Supernatural, YO) and craziness, because it is 2 A.M in the morning here and I'm not feeling very verbose.

1) Things that happened to you in 2012?

- Winning a Writing Contest (an important one) for the first time in my life. It finally pushed me into the take-your-writing-seriously camp.

- Learning that sometimes- sometimes- the time gap between having an idea and putting actual words onto paper can be very, VERY long. 

That City book I'm writing with the boy with the wings and the things with wheels and the sparkly shiny buildings? Yeah, I'm still planning it. It's been a YEAR, people, and I'm still PLANNING it. 

See? Patience. I have.


Patience. More than even Castiel.

- Finding the Supernatural fandom. 

The show is only half of it, the fandom makes this the holy-mother-of-all-shows. It's like the fangirl in me has been let loose and I suddenly understand this whole other world, where random phrases like "ganked' and "nerd angels" and "holy blonde cheerleader batman" and "pig in a poke" all warrant long-winded discussions about angels in trenchcoats, brothers in arms and a 1967 Chevy Impala called Baby that saved the world. (Plus I found my critique partner from the fandom, Hi Kristin!)

- Finding THIS WHOLE NEW WORLD OF INCREDIBLE MUSIC. Suddenly, at the end of 2012 I feel so

ENLIGHTENED

because I have discovered The Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin and Pearl Jam and Oasis and America and even Tori Amos and most of my new writing music is by Rise Against and The Arcade Fire and Credence Clearwater Revival and Blondie and Styx and Asia and Survivor and oh, oh Carry on My Wayward Son by Kansas....(And even Jefferson Airplane!)!

AND THEY WERE ALWAYS THERE BUT I WAS SO BLIND, SO BLIND!

And I feel awesome.

- BOOKS!
(Oh! That reminds me- this is also the year I said bye-bye paperbacks, hullo e-reader! Got an iPad and I've been responsibly trying to reduce my carbon footprint since.)

HOLLY BLACK. LAINI TAYLOR. ANGELA CARTER. ANDREW SMITH. MELINA MARCHETTA. MARGO LANAGAN. DEAN KOONTZ. UMBERTO ECO. ERIN MORGENSTERN. Sarah Rees Brennan. (Oh, oh, Susan Ee! ANGELFALL!)

2012 was frankly not a great year for me when it came to books. TV shows, I lucked out. Books, not so much. Midway through 2012, I realized all my favorite want-to-read-this-right-now picks on Goodreads were coming out only in 2013 and then I was like:



2) What about the people in your life?

- Two births in the family
- Two deaths among beloved teachers.
- Several marriages.
- Lots of new virtual friends.
- Not very many new real life friends.
- Two celebrity crushes (oh, just bloody guess who)
- Two book-characters in my own book who make me want to hug them and tell them "it'll be okay, it'll be okay" (Mama's lying)
- One incredible trip with friends.
- So many incredible moments with family.
- Greater responsibility.
- Two people- best-friends- who made me realize so many times this year that I'm lucky to have found them. Every girl should have friends like them.

3) What were your resolutions at the beginning of 2012?

- Write a BOOK. Write A book. WRITE a book.

4) Resolutions kept?

- Kinda. Sorta. I have a plan. (No, I do)

5) What was the worst decision you made this year?

- Honestly? Reading Fifty Shades of Grey. 

Yeah, that was a train wreck.


6) How are you a better person at the end of this year?
- I'm not. I've become even more of a horrible person to all my characters.

7) What was the most AMAZING, STUPENDOUS, FABULOUS thing that happened to you this year?

- 10 day vacation with friends. So much insight, so many places, so many things at which to say "bitch, please"

8) What do you wish you'd done more?

- BAKING! I realized I'm really good at baking, so MORE BAKING. But, also:  More writing. More plotting. More hugging. More reading. More fangirling. More family outings. More engineering problems  studying  preparing for exams. More running on the treadmill. More exercise, period.

9) What was the scariest moment of this year?

- Being stuck in a train for ten hours with a riot raging outside.

10) What was your greatest literary discovery this year?

- Angela Carter.

11) What was your favorite movie?

- The Hunger Games. Midnight in Paris (wait, was that last year?) The Dark Knight Rises. Les Miz. The Hobbit.

12) Favorite manga?

- One Piece.

13) What do you wish you'd done less of?
- Losing my temper. Hating engineering. Drama. Trying to be too literary. 

14) What are your new year resolutions for 2013?

WRITE A BLOODY BOOK.
I have a plan.
I do.
Deep breath.
I plan to be doing this at the end of the year. (Holding a book and saying "Dude, yes", not pasting random gifs)



REREAD HARRY POTTER.

REWATCH HARRY POTTER.

REWATCH SUPERNATURAL.

MORE MUSIC. More music with THE BAND. More singing live on stage with the band that we might call Jaggery. Or Buggery. (That was completely random)

MORE YA BOOKS.

MORE BLOG POSTS.

LESS BLAH BLAH. (Wait, who am I kidding, I love my blah blah)

(Here's one last gif for everyone who loves blah blah)

Okay, so I love you all.

Now go have yourselves A HAPPY NEW YEAR!

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Images used in this blog are either digital art created by the author or free photographs. Reviews and views expressed on this site are strictly personal. Text by Varsha Dinesh is copyrighted under Creative Commons.