Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Cottonwood by R. Lee Smith - Book Review

Cottonwood by R. Lee Smith
Publication date: February 28, 2013
My rating: 2 stars


By no means was this a bad book, I just...
Maybe my expectations were too high, after reading Land of the Beautiful Dead by this author, and absolutely loving it.
But honestly? I think this book fell short for me for two reasons that just really irked me throughout it all.

It wasn't the writing style (which was just as amazing), it wasn't the world-building (which was great), it wasn't even the protagonist herself, Sarah (despite me not really understanding her overwhelming kindness), it was (some mild spoilers ahead):

Was this book about, how to physically torture the protagonist every few chapters or so to the point where you break her bones, cut her fingers off, and beat her near death? Because if so! Wow, success! I tell you, success!

What the heck?
No seriously, WHAT the heck?

It's not that I do not expect some kind of torture in those type of dark reads. In this book, however, it was to the point of madness. And pointlessness. It was like the protagonist's sole purpose was to get beaten up and tortured. And it was just... I couldn't even be horrified - although I was - because I was too busy wondering "is there a point to this meaningless pain?" No, there was no point except for her to be in pain throughout all of this book, be it emotional or physical.

And for what?
Nothing at all.

Not even for her beloved to rescue her (on time, even), hug her, avenge her, DO SOMETHING that isn't letting her constantly be beaten up emotionally and physically. Nope, he just sat aside in all of his calm and cool exterior. And even though he was a bit worried, it was not enough. Not enough for all that Sarah was forced to endure.

I just could not understand their relationship due to this.
Yeah, due to that, which ironically had nothing to do with him being an alien.
At some points, especially towards the end, I honestly wanted her to end up with Sam because at least HE cared! At least HE was horrified and worried and would have DONE something to HELP her if he KNEW.

(some serious spoilers ahead)

As for our love interest, who just stood by and waited for far too long. Yes, I understand you couldn't reach earth sooner than that but you SHOULD NEVER HAVE LEFT HER THERE IN THE FIRST PLACE. I don't CARE how much she refused or begged you to go and leave her behind, YOU KNEW what would happen to her, YOU KNEW. And I hardly saw you in enough pain over this yourself, so please, Sandford, just go away.

I mean seriously, Lan from Land of the Beautiful Dead did some... really stupid, reckless, crazy things, but not for a moment did Azrael just stood aside and did nothing. Azrael would have NEVER left her behind, no matter how much she begged him to. He would have fought for her. And that's something Sandford simply did not do.
He didn't fight for her.
SHE, however, fought for him. She bled for him, broke for him, gave everything up for him.
And I'm sorry, but that just ruins everything for me.
In a relationship, whatever its nature, you have to fight for each other.
If one side fights while the other does nothing... is it even a relationship at all?

I had to applaud and wanted to hug Sam when he shoved all of this in Safndord's face after seeing the condition Sarah was in.
God, she should have ended up with Sam.
Even T'aki was more worried and insistent.

So yeah, all of that just really... annoyed me. And that's why I could not enjoy this book as much as I wanted to.
That being said, I would still give the author's other books a try because... well because, Land of the Beautiful Dead was one of the best things ever.
Looking forward to jumping into The Last Hours of Gann! 

"Strange, how the world could move on even when it had been shaken to its foundations." 

Land of the Beautiful Dead by R. Lee Smith (Quick Book Review)

Land of the Beautiful Dead

Land of the Beautiful Dead by R. Lee Smith
Publication date: October 29, 2015
My rating: 5 stars

I could not put it down.
I could not, for the life of me, put this book down.

This book, of 715 pages, and not for one moment did I want to put it down. Not for one moment was I bored or needed a break (willingly, that is). 

"Could I come with you at least?" "No." "Sorry, my mistake, I said that wrong. What I meant to say, I'm coming with you." 

My god.

It's been so long since a book made me this crazy mess of sitting for hours upon hours until my eyes got blurry and I forgot to eat.

It got to a point in the book when something happened, when the protagonist was planning to do something, that my heart was racing and I was literally shaking.

I cannot even.

I think the last book to evoke this... this state in me was A Court of Mist and Fury (another mess of a masterpiece - mess as in me, and a masterpiece as in the book).

Pick it up. Pick it up and give it a try, because oh am I glad I did.

The first few pages may confuse you with some new terms in this post-apocalyptic world, but trust me when I say once the protagonist meets her target, things just spin and never stop spinning.

In the best, and sometimes worst, possible way.

"One person against the world never wins." "And yet, you're here." "I'm not against the world, just you. Makes the odds about even, as I see it." 

So what is this book actually about?

In short, this is a Beauty & The Beast if the beast was an evil overlord who thrust the world into the apocalypse and raises the dead, and the beauty was a determined farmer girl on a personal mission to "talk him out" of his zombie armies. Whatever it takes.

But oh, this is so much more than that.

This is life and death in it's most simple yet philosophical forms.

This is about human nature. This is about monsters. This is about hope and nightmares and everything in between.

This is a story I would highly recommend you to read and am honestly shocked is not more popular than it deserves to be.

My only warning is that this book does contain mature content and is definitely not YA.

And for those of you who want to know if this story has a happy ending (because I always want to know myself), then the answer is yes.

"You were all my best days... and most of my worst ones, too, but that's all right. The worst ones weren't any worse than they might have been with anyone else, but the best ones were so much better. I love you."