About This Blog

This blog was started as a place to post book reviews. The books reviewed here will be mixed. Science Fiction, Fantasy, Romance, General Fiction, NonFiction and more. Both positve and negative reviews will be posted, as well as reviews for books written for all ages and all reading levels.

Many of the books reviewed here are ones that I have purchased for my own reading pleasure. Some, I receive free in exchange for reviews. Beginning in December, 2009 you will know which are the free ones if you read the final paragraph of my reviews.

Also of note: I choose what I will read, attempting to avoid the books on which I would end up writing a negative review... but I have been known to make mistakes. Thus you see some one and two star reviews here. Since I don't enjoy writing negative reviews, I only write them if the review was promised, or if the book was so exceedingly bad, I just had to say so. Regardless of the percentage of positive to negative reviews on this blog, I give my honest opinion each and every time, and have never received financial compensation for posting my reviews.

Note that, except for fair use portions quoted from some of the books reviewed, all copyright in the content of the reviews belongs to Lady Dragoness.

Monday, October 12, 2009

In Search of Opportunity

Shanghai Girls
By Lisa See
Hardcover: 336 pages
Publisher: Random House (May 26, 2009)
Rated 3 stars of 5 possible

Shanghai Girls is about two sisters, Pearl and May, who leave China in the 1930's and their struggle to reach America, where they hope to find new lives while they are still bound to the old. The sibling rivalry and the love and secret shared between the two sisters helps make them come alive for the reader.

Fairly well written and nicely researched, Shanghai Girls still had it's good parts and it's bad parts for me.  The good parts: Characters of both sorts - those you love and those you love to hate - are depicted in this novel. The characters are fully fleshed so that they seem real and the reader can care about them. The background is historically rich and accurately depicted. This last is one of the essential criteria for good historical fiction.

Now for the bad parts. The first half of the novel drug on far too long yet almost didn't have enough of interest in those pages to keep me from putting the book aside forever.  I'm glad I got past that.  The other thing that bugs me is that May and Pearl left China, not knowing what had happened to their father. That question was left for the reader's imgaination to resolve.  Unresolved things, such as this novel's cliffhanger ending that begs for a sequel can be either good or bad, so I won't try to categorize that, but I will say that the ending (approximately last 4 chapters) seems a bit clumsy, contrived, or rushed compared to the rest of the story.

There were also a couple of surprises, which I won't catergorize. Nor will I reveal those surprises in case you, who are reading this review, have not yet read the novel. I will say that one of the surprises felt like being stomach punched, the other felt a bit like betrayal... so that both, though not the type of surprises one normally enjoys finding, did add some drama and perhaps a touch of realism to the story.

Recommended for fans of the author and perhaps for those who enjoy reading novels with a historical background, but for those who like stories with more upbeat content... well, I'd say you should be looking elsewhere.  If Shanghai Girls were set to music, the signature tune would be composed in a minor key.

This review is simultaneously published on Amazon.com, Dragonviews, and LibraryThing.

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