Monday, January 12, 2015

ARC Review: The Mime Order by Samantha Shannon


Title: The Mime Order (The Bone Season, #2) 

Author: Samantha Shannon 

Rating: 3.5 Stars

Release Date: January 27th, 2015 

So much of the thrill within a fantasy novel lies in the sequestered magic, so firmly hidden, yet present. Whether it be Narnia or Hogwarts, these mythical realms are out of sight of typical human sight and all the more magical as a result. As readers, we don't want to read about the Pevensie siblings in London, going about their day-to-day lives and reminiscing about their time in Narnia. We don't want to think of Harry, sitting in 4 Privet Drive during the long, sticky summer and dreaming of Hogwarts. I know I, for one, don't want to be subject to the inner monologue of, say, Lucy Pevensie, as she debates spilling the truth about Narnia despite knowing no one will believe her.

It seems Samantha Shannon hasn't quite got this memo, though. 

The Mime Order begins with an extremely tedious start. For the first half of the novel, Paige struggles to mend the broken bridges with her mime lord, Jaxon, all while debating how best to reveal the truth about the Rephaim to other voyants in such a way that they will not only believe her, but they will also share her passion for action. It's slow. It's boring. It's unexciting. The Bone Season sets up a fascinating realm all while throwing its protagonist, and subsequently the reader, into the midst of the action. Now, in The Mime Order, we are forced to take a step back. 

Typically, I'm all for the contemplative moments within a novel or series. I love the slower, more reflective parts. But not when it's written like The Mime Order. To me, the first half of Shannon's sophomore novel reads like an extended version of what is meant to be a brief look into Paige's inner struggles. We, as readers, should be given a lens into the world Paige left--and is now returning to--and, in better understanding where she has come from perhaps we can better understand her as well. Yet, my understanding of the relationships Paige sustains with those around her is minimal in this first-half and everything, from the long dialogues with side characters I wasn't invested in to the multiple ideas Paige considered and rejected and considered and rejected were simply exhausting. I wanted a brief run-down of the important events and then I wanted to get to the real meat of the story. Perhaps, if this series wasn't a seven-book deal already, we wouldn't have been subjected to such a disappointing start to The Mime Order. 

Thankfully, the novel picks up--considerably--during its second half as the tensions outlined in the first half finally come to a head and Paige is finally acting instead of merely thinking all the time. Though its disastrous first half ensures that The Mime Order is a far cry from the brilliance of The Bone Season, the excellence of its second half nearly makes up for it. Nearly.

One of the best aspects to The Mime Order is also a part of the novel I've been complaining about--its set-up. The Mime Order begins to take the revolution within Oxford in The Bone Season to the wider world of voyants in London. As such, it is very much a set-up novel but, by the end, you're left wanting to know how the events outlined will unfurl and play out. The relationship at the core of this novel is, I feel, that between Paige and Jaxon. In The Bone Season, Paige discovers that Jaxon is cruel and willing to go to great lengths in wielding his power. The last thing Paige wants, after returning to London, is to fall prisoner to Jaxon. But Paige has no power unless she is Jaxon's dreamwalker. It puts her in a precarious situation and their exchanges are all very cat-and-mouse, full of underlying political undertones that are chilling, to say the least.

The manner in which their relationship progresses, changes, and comes to a head by the end of The Mime Order is fascinating. Another absolutely thrilling aspect to this sequel is the introduction of yet another villain--one who aims to cause chaos amongst the voyants. Since he features more prominently during the second-half, I will refrain from saying much more but will depart with these few words: prepare to be terrified. I really love how The Mime Order builds up the sense of fear, tension, and danger over the course of the novel. The last few chapters are the most intriguing, by far, so to see all those emotions finally reach a peak is rewarding (though, mark my words, it's also frustrating since we have to wait another YEAR to see what Paige does next).

What I didn't expect to find much of within The Mime Order was romance. After all, this is a seven-book series; we can't conclude the romantic arc that quickly. Yet, Warden makes his appearance sooner than you'd think and his interactions with Paige are as fraught with sexual tension and wanting as you'd dream of. I loved their dialogue, the backstory Warden provided to build upon Shannon's intricate world-building, and am even more excited than before to see how their love story develops over the course of the series. Granted, there are plenty of hurdles that lie before this couple and the romance lies very much in the back-burner of this series. But, that being said, it's a huge component to why I adore these books. Warden and Paige are a perfect match; they challenge each other without putting one another down. They're both strong personalities and, coming from different races with a difficult history, their road to romance is paved with distrust but, if I had to put my money on any couple combating those odds, it's them.

Despite the fact that The Mime Order picks up considerably and puts this series in an absolutely fascinating position by the end, I remain a disappointed fan of this novel. It wasn't an easy or enjoyable read in the least and though it is necessary for the arc of the series, I almost wish there was a condensed summary I could have read instead. Nevertheless, here's to hoping fans of The Bone Season find this far more intriguing than I do and that its sequel, whenever it may release, recaptures the magic the first novel in this series possessed. 

16 comments:

  1. I remember hearing so many great things about the first book but I haven't read it. I should one day. thanks for the review!

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  2. The library do have book 1 so ...one day

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  3. It sounds like this suffered from second book syndrome just a little bit, which is sad. I hate it when that happens! Glad it picked up eventually though and you liked it more.

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  4. I have a feeling some much needed refresher course is required before I start with this book. As much as I loved The Bone Season, I've forgotten a lot of the story elements.

    Great review, Keertana!

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  5. Hm... I definitely have the first book on my wishlist. I'm thinking I may need to remember that this one does not have a good beginning so I will remember to stick around for the end. Shame about the beginning. Glad about the ending.

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  6. I never picked up The Bone Season after hearing about how descriptive the book could get and I am not sure how I feel about knowing the first half of the sequel does the same.

    I think I would definitely enjoy the world building in the novels but as someone who likes action, it can be hard to deal with the slower paced parts of a book if they aren't as well written.

    I am glad though that after the slow first half, the 2nd half ended up picking up! :)

    Lovely review, Keertana!

    Rashika @ The Social Potato

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  7. I have to agree with you Keertana, the first half of this book was so difficult to get through I think I was experiencing Paige's feelings of hopelessness a lot in the beginning too. But I'm grateful for the massive step up in the second half, like you said I too was utterly scared at times. Despite Warden not being around for ages, I loved his interactions with Paige! I hope we end up enjoying the next book a whole lot more, I detest the year long wait :(

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  8. Hmmm, I haven't finished the first book, but I am so fascinated. It's rare to be able to really say it's like nothing I've ever read before. But, I've got this one on order. While the second half tempts me, I'm thinking maybe I'll wait on getting this one until I've finished the first one. I am so glad to have your review of it. You are so honest but still give me something to look forward to even if the first part is that slow. As always, GREAT review!!

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  9. Oh dear, a slow first half? THIS WAS EXACTLY WHAT I WAS DREADING. I found the first bit of The Bone Season to be tedious as well because it gave me such a headache with the info dumping, so a slow start definitely has me a little iffy. Thank god I know this now, so I won't be surprised when I go into it.

    Lovely review, Keertana! <33

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  10. Oh dear! I was worried that this would happen. I just read The Bone Season a few days ago and while I thought the concept was interesting, the world building really bogged me down. Still, I was hopeful for this 2nd book, but if it has a slow start I'm not sure how I feel. At least it speeds up though and the romance certainly sounds delicious.
    Lovely review, Keertana. Even though this was a disappointing book for you, I hope the next will be amazing.

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  11. I just finished this one last week Keertana, and I agree completely. The first third for me was really slow and I struggled to remember everything that happened in The Bone Season since there was hardly any recap at all. Like you said though, then things really picked up (mostly for me when Warden came back, I LOVE them together), and I'm really looking forward to seeing how things progress in the next book!

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  12. Well, crap. That's not really what I wanted to hear. i really liked the first one and had high hopes for the second but I might take a pass on this...until the next one comes out.

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  13. Lovely review, K! You always say things so eloquently!
    As you know, I had to DNF The Bone Season. I'm soooo tempted to change my mind and stick it out, but then I worry the same thing will happen with The Mime Order. I've heard several times now that the first half is slooooooow, and if that happens with every book in the series... I'm not up for it. But then I hear great things about the romance and the second halves.. ugh. I don't know! For now I'll leave it as is, but I may try again in the future.

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts!

    Danielle @ Love at First Page

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  14. I'm sorry it took so long for you to get into this one, Keertana! It's always a frustrating feeling when that happens.
    Although your thoughts on the second half of the novel sound promising, I don't know if I'm willing to slog through the first half to get there, at least not right now. Perhaps depending on how you and other regard future installments...
    I hope the one-year wait isn't too terrible for you, dear!

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  15. Book 3 better be AMAZINGGGGGG!!! PLEASE. I love Warden. That is all.

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