After two weeks of intense deliberation and book reading, Book Vixen and I have come to a decision regarding our bracket in the YA Bloggers Debut Book Battle: The Season by Sarah MacLean versus Ash by Malinda Lo.
The Winner is...
This is the criteria that we used to judge the two titles and determine which was the better book. I have provided our answers for Ash by Malinda Lo. Check out The Book Vixen to read our answers for The Season by Sarah MacLean.
-Is it visually appealing?
JacobsBeloved: I found the cover intriguing, though the picture of the girl could have been bigger, and it's next to impossible to tell that she is lying in the grass.
Book Vixen: It's very simple and plain but it did catch my eye. It made me wonder why the girl is lying there. Like JB, I didn't know she was lying in the grass.
-Is it applicable to the text?
JacobsBeloved: While I don't understand what the girl is wearing has to do with the text, she does lie down in the dirt a few times, so it kind of works.
Book Vixen: Yes. There is a scene in the book that has to do with the cover. She wakes up one night and goes outside and ends up falling asleep in her mother's grave. I believe that's suppose to be her nightgown she's wearing.
-Does the title work for the text?
JacobsBeloved: Yes, since that is the main character's nickname for Aisling.
Book Vixen: Yes, because Ash is Aisling's nickname. But I'm not sure why Ash is a nickname for Aisling. I'm not even sure how to pronounce Aisling....
-Are there recognizeable protagonist(s) and antagonist(s)?
JacobsBeloved: Yes, definitely, just as the original fairy tale dictates.
Book Vixen: Yes, just like the original Cinderella tale.
-Is there noticeable progression in character development?
JacobsBeloved: The main character Aisling ages from a little girl to a young woman, but mentally she does not seem to change or mature in any way. She feels completely emotionless from start to finish, as if the story were being narrated by a computer, and not a flesh-and-blood human girl.
Book Vixen: Not for all the characters. With Ash, there is. The story starts off when she's a little girl and ends when she's a young woman. The same with Ash's stepmother and stepsisters. The one character that I felt didn't develop over the storyline was Sidhean. I was expecting to learn more about this character but I never did. In fact, I'm not sure his character was even needed in the story.
-Are the characters distinguishable from one another?
JacobsBeloved: Very much so, Sidhean was quite fascinating, if overly mysterious, and the step-family were all quite distinct in their different roles. The young Huntress Kaisa seemed to resemble her predecessor, but only a little, and of course Aisling was unlike anyone else, even though I felt no connection with her.
Book Vixen: Yes. The reader can clearly see the differences between the characters.
-Are all "loose threads" accounted for?
JacobsBeloved: Not even close. We are told nothing about what happens to Aisling's step-family or what Sidhean does after she leaves him.
Book Vixen: Nope. Without getting into details (to avoid spoilers), the storyline surrounding Sidhean was a huge loophole that was never filled. Like I mentioned before, I'm not really sure he was needed in the book. I was really bothered with how a certain sub plot that involved him played out. It felt rushed and I don't think what happened upholds to the "law of the land".
-Does it have good flow?
JacobsBeloved: The ending is completely contradictory to the framework built up throughout the text with the use of the fairy tales. In addition to Aisling breaking her own rules, we have a gap of time at the end with almost no explanation as to why that is.
Book Vixen: It had good flow until the ending for reasons I mentioned in the previous question.
-Is it specific to the named genre?
JacobsBeloved: Yes, fairies play a prominent part in the book, so fantasy as accurate.
Book Vixen: Yes, Ash is a fairy tale.
-Is it accurate to what is claimed? (as in year, country, language, etc.)
JacobsBeloved: The background setting is reminescent of Regency England, but the fact that lesbianism is an accepted part of this world that the author has created is completely contradictory to the propriety and decorum of the proposed setting.
Book Vixen: I wasn't clear on what year the story was supposedly taking place. It seems like a modern day version of Cinderella yet the setting seems to be in historical times. The dialogue was not of historical times.
-Does it get in the way of plot/character development?
JacobsBeloved: Not really, since every time there is that possibility of occuring, the author claims "artistic license" to break her own rules of world-building.
Book Vixen: If anything, it made it easier for me to read and follow. I'm still not sure if Ash is classified as "historical romance" but if it is I appreciated that it had modern day dialogue with a historical setting. It may not appear to be "authentic" but it made it easy for me to follow being that this is only my second historical romance read.
JacobsBeloved: Even if I ignore the acceptance of homosexuality in the text, which I do not support, it still suffers from major flaws of character, background, and plot that I can not ignore. Aisling is cold and emotionless, the ending is contradictory and breaks the rules, and multiple loose ends are left hanging. I would not recommend this book.
Book Vixen: I'm giving this book 2/5 frogs. I had high expectations for this book and it didn't come close. I liked where the story was going with its non-traditional approach but the ending felt rush and incomplete. The subplot between Ash and Sidhean was rushed and left unanswered questions; it wasn't justified.