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Saturday, November 21, 2009

Review: Sea Glass by Maria V. Snyder

This review is woefully overdue.

Sea Glass is the second in the Glass series, a spin-off of the popular Study series (Poison Study, Magic Study and Fire Study); it takes up where Storm Glass left off, with glass magician Opal Cowan under house arrest in the Citadel due to her new-found ability to steal a magician's magic through her glass sculptures. But Opal has other things to worry about; everyone seems to want something from her, and worse, she's afraid that the man she thinks she loves has been forced to switch bodies with the man who once tortured her. Worst of all, no one seems to believe her, and she must struggle to set things to rights and figure out her powers before everything crashes down around her.

It took me a bit to get into this installment of the series, though I think that is due in part to the fact that I didn't remember enough from Storm Glass. The beginning was confusing to me, but I still don't know how much of it was due to my lack of memory and how much to messiness or clarity problems. What I do know is that it hit that part where everything started flowing and becoming compelling, and from then on, I was fairly hooked.

I love the world Snyder has created, and her characters, when she hits the mark, are full and real and interesting. She makes you care about characters. Case in point: when Maria came to good ole (podunk) Monroe for some events, my book club had dinner with her, where we spent a good majority of the time debating who we liked more, Devlin or Kade, while Maria sat back and watched with a very amused expression. We were passionate. There was yelling; there may have been some fork pointing. There was a lot of talking over each other and "you're out of your mind"s. Book conversations like that are an excellent sign, in my opinion. Nothing recommends a book more. Also, Snyder has the guts to keep things from being clean-cut and easy, which I appreciate, and which adds to those excellent conversations.

That's not to say I didn't have any issues, though. Opal takes a definite step back in her growth for a big chunk of this book. Hurt and overwhelmed by all of the craziness going on around her, she begins to act like a petulant child, willful to the point of stupidity. This may not be unrealistic, given her past and what's going on in her present, but it did irritate me. It was one of those 'I want to shake you' moments that you get when you know someone should be doing things differently and there's nothing you can do. Now, as frustrating as that can be, it is still a good sign because it meant I cared. If I didn't want to see things come out right for Opal and see her mature and develop, I wouldn't have felt like shaking her because I wouldn't have cared (and I would have put the book down).

One other thing that bothered me on ocassion was the way first person was used. I know some people have a problem with first person, and in general, I am not one of them. I don't care which tense you tell the story in (well, 2nd is a bit odd at times, supposing the book isn't a choose your own adventure...), as long as it works. There is one thing about 1st person that does crop up on occasion and that does bother me, and that's when 1st person is treated like 3rd. In 3rd person (omniscient) we can know anything. We're watching from above, from in character's heads, and we can know whatever the author chooses to let us know. This doesn't work in first because characters are not omniscient; they don't know everything, so we can't either. This is not what bothers me. What bothers me is when authors treat 1st like 3rd and tell us things that most likely we shouldn't get to know. It's this way of explaining away things that need explaining by putting the explanations in characters' mouths rather than bits of exposition, and it comes across awkward, clunky and unrealistic. It feels forced. There were a few things that felt forced in this, that lacked finesse, but this one bothered me the most.
None of this would keep me from recommending the book, however, so take it as you will.

Bonus Material:

Before I get to the BM, remember that I am having a contest where 1 lucky winner will receive a SIGNED copy of this book!
Commenting on this review (and mentioning it in the contest post) earns another 2 entries.

My bonus material today is going to be a short random bit based on thoughts on the book + tidbits from the dinner with Maria. Therefore, today's BM is spoilery, so avert thy eyes if that does not appeal.

There is a scene in the book where Opal travels to visit a remote clan to prevent a magical "flame out", and they're kinda creepy-cultish. I got excited, because that mentality fascinates me, and I was all ready for something big to happen, and then they all but disappear from the story. Needless to say, I was irritated. So I asked Maria, and yes, they will be making another appearance. I'm ready.
What I would love to see is more time spent in their village. It's a shady place, on virtual lock-down, run by what may be a messianic-wannabe figure. I want in their heads. I want the pyschology. What are they after? What makes them tick? I hope their role isn't too minor, or that there is another book/set coming which will showcase more of them; I find them fascinating.


  1. Ahhg, I need to get the first one! To go to the bookstore now or wait until Christmas... that is the question.

  2. I did not realize that this was a series.

  3. I have not read this series, but I will have to start with book one.

  4. While I had enjoyed Poisoned Study I thought that the second two books in the trilogy were kind of boring (I actually didn't finish the third one). Is this series similar?

  5. Just the title "Sea Glass" has caught my eye! Thanks for the critique. I will definitely recommend this one to my sea glass collecting friends.

  6. I have to be honest and say I don't like the cover much. It makes it look rather children's-fantasy-ish...and the "glass" thing just kind of hints at a delicate/weak heroine =T

  7. Simcha, this is a spin-off. I think it's a bit weaker than the Study series, but I like it. Ninefly, not so much a weak heroine, though sometimes naive. The "glass" thing is because she is a glass blower.

  8. Awesome review, Misty! I can't really make much of a comment on the actual book seeing as it's the second book in a series that comes after a series I haven't read yet - but really want to.
    I don't think I've come across first person acting as third before, but I think I'd find it really disrupting; one of those nudges that will remind me I am actually sitting in my front room reading a book, rather than being a ghost who can read minds and watch it all happen, which is what reading is normally like for me. I relly hate it when I'm knocked back to "now" by the way parts of a book can be written. I still want to read the Study series though! And if I like it, I'll then come across to this series. I'll shut up now :)

  9. I haven't read this series yet but it sounds really good. I really like it when a book has strong and lovable characters, so I'm sure I'll really like this book.

  10. nice article. I would love to follow you on twitter. By the way, did you guys know that some chinese hacker had hacked twitter yesterday again.

  11. I love series books......specially when they are about sea glass!


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