The Black Stiletto is an interesting story; it's set alternately in 1958 and the present, about one woman in her late teens/early twenties and an old woman. As a young woman Judy Cooper is alone in New York City and just finding her feet in the world; she learns boxing and martial arts, then knife fighting. Then she becomes a masked vigilantly to avenge a murder and becomes famous as the Black Stiletto. As an old woman she has Alzheimer's and lives in a nursing home, when an old enemy is released from jail and comes looking for revenge. With the past/present double plot, it's quite a page turner, but doesn't have a very satisfying ending, it just sort of stops without much of a conclusion.
I didn't like Whole in the Clouds. The plot was very vague and non-cohesive. There was also little to no explanation of why the characters acted and felt the ways they did. Every thing in Clouden was too seemingly perfect (I kept expecting the Queen to grow fangs or something), and they set WAY to much store by appearances, and let me just add that if you feel the way Cora does at the beginning of the book DO NOT FOLLOW HER EXAMPLE! Fatness is not the end of the world! Cora has body dysmorphic disorder, and she should be looking for a therapist, not some magical solution to all her problems that requires no effort on her part- yeah therapy isn't always heaps of fun but if you spend your whole life waiting for your fairy god mother then you aren't going to get better.
Everyone likes a good story, but stories need to have some sort of problem or conflict, and while Whole in the Clouds did have conflict (sort of, ish), it wasn't very compelling conflict- there was no explanation of why the good guys were good and the bad guys were bad- the Queen just told Cora whose side she should be on and Cora was like okey-doke then. It wasn't compelling conflict, and thus the story wasn't compelling, sure it was a cool idea that there's a place where everything's perfect and there's no one mean, but may I remind you there were mean people, hence the aforementioned conflict, and I didn't think that the King and Queen were so great any way- I mean they were alright, but not particularly wonderful. Plus I don't have as grim a view of human nature as Kibbee seems to.
But now on to the flip side of how stories need conflict, and that flip side is this: stories are not real life. Real life doesn't need to have problems to be interesting, so if you don't have problems don't go looking for them. In our literature we almost idolize having a problem or conflict and we get into that mind set in real life too. I was doing an improv game with my theatre group, where we went up in pairs and were given a setting and a situation, and afterwards someone pointed out that almost everyone had made the relationship between their characters one of mutual dislike. People often say that humans are never satisfied, and that's because we don't let ourselves be satisfied. We insist on having something to feel sorry for ourselves about, and if we don’t we tend to make something up.
So next time you have nothing to be unhappy about take a moment and enjoy it. Be grateful for the lack of problems.
Whole in the Clouds still gets 2/10, but at least it gave me something to think about.
There was supposed to be some romance... I think... if there was I couldn't really tell, so meh....