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Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Blog With Bite Ballad Review **May Contain Spoilers**

Maggie Stiefvater
Synopsis - 9/10
Plot - 9/10
Characters - 10/10
Overall Story - 8/10
Conclusion - 9/10
Overall Score - 45/50
Synopsis: Remember us, so sing the dead, lest we remember you
James Morgan has an almost unearthly gift for music. And it has attracted Nuala, a soul-snatching faerie muse who fosters and then feeds on the creative energies of exceptional humans until they die. James has plenty of reasons to fear the faeries, but as he and Nuala collaborate on an achingly beautiful musical composition, James finds his feelings towards Nuala deepening. But the rest of the fairies are not as harmless. As Halloween—the day of the dead—draws near, James will have to battle the Faerie Queen and the horned king of the dead to save Nuala's life and his soul.
Review: In the beginning of the book I was totally confused....The characters kept talking about events that took place "last summer" which I took to mean "the last book, Lament" which I did NOT read before I started Ballad (bad me!). The book starts off telling us - the readers - a little bit about the Leanan Sidhe and then about the death of a Leanan Sidhe. Then we meet Dee, who we "hear" from in the book mostly in the form of text messages to James. James and Dee are new students at a prestigeous music high school called Thornking-Ash. James plays the bagpipe and is kind of a smart ass (which is an unusual instrument, but if you've ever heard it belt out Amazing Grace your hooked) and Dee plays the harp. James' roomate in the dorms is Paul who is a talented Oboe player but in my opinion a little bit too straightlaced for my liking in the beginning of the book.
The first week of school is just like any other school....learning the ground rules, learning your way around....all that fun stuff. Then week two starts and James and Paul are assigned to read Hamlet in Mr. Sullivan's first hour English class AND James is hearing and seeing the Antler King (king of the dead)...which means that there are fey around. Seems that there is a cloverhand (calls to the fey) at the school. Then to top is off James is sent to take private piping lessons from a piper who is nowhere near as good as James. Upon leaving his disasterous lesson James meets Nuala who is a Leanan Sidhe. In the beginning Nuala wants to make a "deal" with James but James refuses. But Nuala doesn't give up....Nuala has never not gotten what (read: who) she wanted, so she decides that she is going to send him a dream that will just make him want to take the "deal." The day after James' disasterous piping lesson he is informed by Sullivan that he will either have to learn the guitar or the piano instead to meet his musical requirements.
I didn't really like Dee....She seemed really weak and whiney....Not to mention more than a little bit of a "user".....Nobody likes to be used, especially James. This is the point where is feelings start to shift in regards to the ladies in his life....In the beginning all he wanted was Dee and he wanted nothing to do at all with Nuala....now it's starting to shift the other way. Nuala takes James one night to a movie where they get to talking about things and end up sitting down and writing the play Ballad. Upon the completion of reading Hamlet Sullivan assigns a 10 page essay on Metaphor to his students. James and Paul are so NOT happy about the assignment that it leads to one of my favorite scenes in the book...Paul getting "drunk." This is where James tells Paul about Ballad and we learn that James and Dee aren't the only ones who are dealing with the paranormal.
The further into the book I got the more I learned and liked Nuala. In the beginning I thought she was going to be some soul sucking leech but she really isn't like that. Come to find out she's part human and every 16 years on Halloween she must burn in order to continue to live. But the kicker is that once she comes back she has no memories. Also, the further into the book I got the less I liked the "relationship" between James and Dee....Very UNhealthy. You also learn who the cloverhand is and what James and Nuala have to do while she is burning to make there dreams come true. Also, Thornking-Ash isn't just any ordinary prestigous music school either. Oh and all the "dirty deeds done dirt cheap" whichs ends up with a new King of the Dead being crowned. Oh, and Ballad? Ballad ends up being AWESOME!
Overall, I was really happy with the book. Next time though....I will start with the first book in the series so things make sense in the second book!
BWB Scale - 3/4
*****Blog With Bite Discussion Questions*****

1. James is a flawed and heart broken character, do you find his mental peculiarities charming or annoying? Please do explain.
I find them a little bit of both. Nobody likes to be used and I feel that in a sense Dee was using James.
2. What did you think of James and Dee's kiss? This being a pivotal moment for their relationship, how do you think it changed James?
I agree that the kiss was a pivotal point in the story but I also think with that kiss James finally realized that things with Dee were never going to be the way he wanted them to be.
3. Whom do you prefer Dee or Nuala?
Nuala hands down. Dee was a little bit tooo weak and whiney for my taste.
4. What's your verdict on the best way to read Ballad? Is it a stand alone book or do you need to read Lament first? If you read Lament, what did it add/not add to Ballad? If you haven't read Lament, do you think it would have added to your reading of Ballad?
In my opinion I think you need to read Lament first. I was sort of confused by some of the conversations that were taking place because they kept talking about events that happened "last summer" which I took to mean "last book."
5. We've been reading a lot of stories with fairies as the central paranormal creatures. What are your thoughts on the "Fair Folk". Do you believe in faires?
From what I've been reading in the books for the group fairies aren't necessarily nice creatures....so I'm not real sure how I feel about them. Do I believe in faires?....I'm not sure to be honest.


Sasha said...

Great Review! x I'm unfamiliar with this book but it looks really good x

Alyssa Kirk @ Teens Read and Write said...

I'm totally with you on your opinions of Dee and Nuala. Great review!

ParaJunkee said...

I agree with a lot of our take on this. Maybe its because neither one of us read Lament. Great review! - Parajunkee