Saturday, February 11, 2012

Welcome to Bordertown by Holly Black and Ellen Kushner

Terri Windling, Holly Black, and Ellen Kushner had their work cut out for them. Making a sequel to a classic is very difficult. Making a sequel that doesn't stink is even harder. What's hardest of all is making that non-stinking sequel thirteen years after the original was written.

With the help of some very talented authors, they actually pulled it off. To make this book, Windling, Black, and Kushner decided to pick authors who are famous, but also some that are not. They picked authors that had grown up reading the original Bordertown books, along with some of the authors who actually helped write those books. These three women have done it. They've recreated Bordertown. And they've done it pretty well.

WELCOME TO BORDERTOWN BY ELLEN KUSHNER AND TERRI WINDLING - When Jimmy's sister says she's running away, her parents don't believe her, but Jimmy does. And Jimmy knows where she's headed: Bordertown. After thirteen years of waiting for Trish to return, Jimmy sets off to find her. Only, it hasn't been thirteen years for Trish. It's only been thirteen days.

I have never read any of the original Bordertown books, but after reading this story I feel as if I have. It has well-written and well-thought-out characters that get into situations that will either make you scream with frustration or laugh with joy. Trish and Jimmy were pleasantly life-like and just so real that I loved their characters immediately. I was rooting for them throughout their trials and tribulations, hoping they'd survive.

SHANNON'S LAW BY CORY DOCTOROW - Shannon is a genius with very few friends. His only one is a young halfie named Jetfuel. Together, they plan to leak all the knowledge of the World Wide Web into the Bordertown Web. Will they succeed?

While Shannon is obviously a genius, I couldn't relate to him. I didn't like him in the slightest. Which, for me, is extremely odd since I am usually drawn to those who are smart; those who love knowledge as much as I do. And yet...I hated Shannon's character.

The plot of this story just stinks. It really does. Every page you turn you find yourself thinking, "Hey, when is this story going to end?" The writing style of this story is nearly as confusing as the plot and just as see-through and paper-thin as well.

CRUEL SISTER BY PATRICIA A. MCKILLIP - As the first poem in the book, it does nothing but impress. Short and yet very well thought out, McKillip is a genius with words.

A VOICE LIKE A HOLE BY CATHERYNNE M. VALENTE - When Fig runs away, she is only 15. She meets Maria, who can't possibly be older than herself. There is only one thing different about the two friends. Fig is perfectly healthy. Maria is on her deathbed.

This was a good story. Not as good as "Welcome to Bordertown," mind you, but still a good story. The characters were believable, and I actually felt like cheering them towards their goal.

STAIRS IN HER HAIR BY AMAL EL-MOHTAR - This was the second poem in the book. While it was  well written, it was not the best poem. I enjoyed it, however, and may be looking into other things written by this author.

INCUMABULUM BY EMMA BULL - He wakes with blood on his shirt. He finds that he's in Bordertown and he can't remember getting there, where he was before, or who he was before. Will he find out who he is and what he's doing in Bordertown?

This is my third  favorite story out of the entire book. The plot is amazing, and the characters are life-like. The only thing I didn't like about this story were the pages and pages of descriptions. If there had been less descriptions and more action I would have adored it.

RUN BACK ACROSS THE BORDER BY STEVEN BRUST - This poem sounds as if it was made to be put to music. Had it been made into a song, I would've loved it. In its current form it is too repetitive for my taste.

A PRINCE OF THIRTEEN DAYS BY ALAYA DAWN JOHNSON - Peya's sister is a fortune-teller. So she decides to tell Peya's fortune. She says that in thirteen days Peya will lose her virginity and fall in love. Will Peya believe this silly fortune, or will she choose not to?

This was the second worst story in the entire book. Peya and the other characters are paper-thin and unrealistic. The plot is just as ridiculous and juvenile as the characters.

THE SAGES OF ELSEWHERE BY WILL SHETTERLY - When Ron's bookstore gets an enchanted book he thinks nothing of it. Enchanted items come into Bordertown all the time. This book is special, however. It can talk.

I really loved this story. It is possibly my favorite story out of the entire book. The characters were well-rounded and believable, and the plot was original and exciting. The other thing I loved was that the author didn't waste pages and pages describing stuff that just didn't need to be described.

SOULJA GIRRRL (A LONG LINE RAP PIECE) BY JANE YOLEN - I really am not a fan of rap. Needless to say, I didn't enjoy this piece in the least bit. There was too much cursing and an underlying tone of a bad attitude for me to really enjoy this.

CROSSINGS BY JANNI LEE SIMMER - Miranda and Analise just want true love. But after crossing into Borderland and meeting vampires, werewolves, and elves, the girls are in more trouble then they've ever been.

While this story is about vampires and werewolves, I quite liked it. Though there were parts with gore and violence, this was an overall good read. The characters were well-rounded, and the situations they get into seemed real and were as believable as the characters.

FAIR TRADE BY SARAH RYAN AND DYLAN MECONIS - When Abby's dad gets thrown in jail the court forces her to move in with her mother. There's something the court doesn't know, however. Abby's mother lives in Bordertown.

This, being the only graphic novel in the book, was quite enjoyable.  When I didn't understand the dialogue, the pictures told the story. Speaking of that, the plot was original and was quite amazing. Overall, this story is an excellent addition to this book.

NIGHT SONG FOR A HALFIE BY JANE YOLEN - This poem is styled like a lullaby, and could easily be put to music. This is a lovely poem, and I found myself smiling at some of the ironic and silly verses.

OUR STARS, OUR SELVES BY TIM PRATT - When Allie runs away to Bordertown, she meets Alaunus. At first he seems nice, but soon his real colors show through. Is Alaunus danger or just plain annoying?

This is the one of the worst stories in the book. Not the worst, mind you. ONE of the worst. The plot doesn't exist, the characters aren't believable in the least, and every single page has profanities spewed upon it. I see why the editors included this story in the book, but it could've been written a whole lot better than it was.

THE WALL BY DELIA SHERMAN - This poem is interesting in two different ways. The first thing is that this is the only poem out of the entire book that doesn't rhyme. The second thing is that it is composed of descriptions of a wall. None of the descriptions match each other, and sometimes even contradict each other. This is a very pleasant poem, and I quite enjoyed reading it.

ELF BLOOD BY ANNETTE CURTIST KLAUSE - Lizzie is tired. She's tired of having to make sketches to pay for her next meal. Tired of drinking blood when she can't eat. Tired of living under the beaten-down shack that she calls "home". So, she works up a plan, but even she doesn't know if it will work, or if she'll live to see the results.

This is one of my favorite stories in this book. An amazing new twist on the traditional vampire story, this will keep you on the edge of your seat 'til you read the last page. The characters are life-like, relate-able, realistic, and believable.

A BORDERLAND JUMP-ROPE RHYME BY JANE YOLEN - As the title would suggest, this is a poem meant to be sung/said whilst jumping rope. It is quite fun, but nothing like any of the jump-rope rhymes I know.

THE SONG OF THE SONG BY NEIL GAIMAN - Without a proper meter, you can't have a poem. The meter in this poem is non-existent. The rhyme scheme is non-existent. Can it even be called a poem? In the first section of this poem, the rhyme scheme and meter are clearly there. But after that section there is no order what-so-ever.

If you can get past that issue, another one arises. There are four sections to this poem. You can only understand the first section! After that, it's run-on and unfinished sentences; not to mention words that seem to have been plucked from the sky and pasted onto the page at random.
Overall, this felt like a young child with no understanding of rhyme or meter had attempted poetry. And this thing was what it produced. I expected more out of an author like Neil Gaimon, and I am very disappointed.

OURS IS THE PRETTIEST BY NALO HOPKINSON - Damiana has made some bad choices in life. One of them was choosing to be friends with Gladstone and Beti. At the biggest party in Bordertown, they all show up. Will Damaina make it through the party alive?

This was the worst story out of the entire book. Yes. Even worse than A Prince of Thirteen Days . The characters were so flat and unrealistic that I truthfully didn't care whether they lived or died. The writing style was confusing, and by the end of this story I had more questions than answers. Speaking of writing, the plot is heinous. Here is the summary:
The three main characters get drunk. They hook up with people of the same-sex (and by hook up, that DOES include multiple scenes of making out and even more scenes of sex). The main characters dump the sex-toys (and if they don't do that fast enough, the people end up dumping the main characters). Then the cycle starts over again. And again. And again! In short, this story is awful, and I saw no reason at all to include it in this book.

WE DO NOT COME IN PEACE BY CHRISTOPHET BATZAK - Marius has a problem. He's in love with Mouse. But Mouse doesn't love him back. Mouse only cares about the war and fighting in it. Will Marius tell Mouse how he feels, or live alone for the rest of his life?

This story isn't very good. It's not awful, but it's not good either. The plot itself is original, and quite interesting. The character development was average, but still believable. Technically speaking, this had all the makings of a great story. The execution of it, however, was extremely lacking in many areas.

THE ROWAN GENTLEMAN BY HOLLY BLACK AND CASSANDRA CLARE - Ashley is living her dream. She gets to act at the only theater in Bordertown and loves doing it. She's been working there for months, and nothing bad has happened yet. Well, nothing bad happened until Lydia showed up nearly dead during one of their rehearsals. Will Ashley be able to find out who harmed Lydia, or will the perpetrator get to her first?

This is a very good story. The characters are well-rounded and realistic, the plot is suspenseful and clever, and there isn't a curse word in this piece (which is more than I can say about every other story in this book). I had my expectations set high, and I was not disappointed. Cassandra Clare and Holly Black do nothing but impress in this awesome short story.

A TANGLE OF GREEN MEN BY CHARLES DE LINT - When Joey meets the love of his life he promises to protect her.  But that's a promise he will regret making; for even Joey can't stop death.

This was the perfect story to end the book with.  I empathized with the characters and enjoyed following their journey.  They were so realistic they practically leaped off the pages.  The plot was amazing and well-thought-out.  I am looking forward to reading more from this author. 

While this compilation had a couple of great stories in it, there were quite a few awful ones as well.  I was disappointed in the over-the-top usage of unnecessary profanities.  There is also a ton of drug usage and even more sexual stories and suggestive elements.  What ever happened to a well-written story for the story's sake and not the shock elements.

As I've already stated, there is over-the-top usage of unnecessary profanities, a ton of drug usage, and even more sexual and suggestive elements. There are also quite a few gay and lesbian couples that made out, had sex, and did other stuff as well.

Reviewer Age:17
Reviewer City, State and Country: Yucaipa, California USA