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Downside Girls Paperback – November 9, 2012

3.9 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 88 pages
  • Publisher: Monico (November 9, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1909016179
  • ISBN-13: 978-1909016170
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.2 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,520,125 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition
This was an overall entertaining book of four short stories. All four are set in a world that is well thought out by the author. She has a way of building a realistic world and society, even within the confines of a short story. I found the place and setting believable even with so little background and information. It felt like something she had fully thought out and realized, but was only giving us little tidbits of. The first three stories were about the "Angels." State-sponsored female assassins that are taken from the city's lower class, and then altered to give them implanted weapons and abilities. I found them enjoyable and leaving me wanting more. The only one I was not particularly fond of was the final short story. It was a story about one of the citizens in the city, and her encounters with one of her music students. It seemed like a toss-up between a religious story and a romance. Out of all the short stories, this is the only one I came away from feeling like it was unfinished. It felt less like a real plot with a story arc, and more like just a series of events in some woman's life.

Disclaimer: This was a free early reviewer copy of the book.
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Format: Kindle Edition
Using the old and reliable device of a society split between the haves and have-nots, these are mostly crime stories set in a future city. Here the city is floating. The rich people live Topside, an area of heavier gravity. The have-nots, taller and lighter-skinned, inhabit the Downside. It is from them that the Angels - women who have knives implanted in their arms and gravitic implants enabling them to fly - are recruited. They are authorized and required, under the Concord, to kill politicians who have failed to get a minimum of public good will.

The first three of these stories are braided, characters and events central to one story showing up more peripherally in other stories.

"Collateral Damage" plays out a somewhat predictable plot of a newly minted Angel, who still has not executed anyone, happily accepting the friendship, as a way out of her social isolation, of a Topside woman.

"Death on Elsewhere Street" is about how some Angels go bad under the strain of their work and their machinations to get around the rules governing their legal sanctions.

"Angel Dust" takes its young heroine all the way from Downside to Topside to reluctantly aid a wounded Angel. She eventually meets the Minister, the mysterious man who manages and recruits the Angels. Like most stories here, it does not end happily.

"The Three Temptations of Larnia Mier" was my favorite story. Unlike the other stories, it is not primarily a crime story or narrated in the first person. Its fervently religious protagonist, a music teacher facing the trial of losing her hearing, must also face temptations presented by a new pupil.
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Format: Kindle Edition
Life is definitely difficult for those struggling to exist in the Downside world. It is a gritty, dark, survival of the fittest lifestyle. While those on the Topside have few concerns and live a good life. It is a brutal world, though and justice is swift and deadly. For once a politician or public figure errs and loses the support of the masses, their fate is a quick execution exacted by the deadly angels, who are former downside girls. Their missions are to take out the ones who are elected to die by the populace. Life on top or on bottom of this floating city is dangerous and difficult!
What I Liked:
*Downside Girls is a novella consisting of four short stories. It is a tantalizing tease into Ms. Fenn's dark and deadly world. She has definitely created a fascinating world, and though there isn't a lot of time to dispense the details in this small book, the reader has just enough information to put together a picture of her vision. I liked that this was a quick read, and that it wasn't bogged down with details.
*I enjoyed reading about the difficulties the downside girls and angels faced. Make no mistake, their lives are fraught with peril, and never easy, but all the characters had a fierce, determined outlook.
*I am a fan of short stories and I enjoyed seeing how these stories interconnected. My favorite of the four was the first story that tells the tale of a new angel who strikes up an unlikely friendship with a topside lady. The final twist was a shock and I loved it!

And The Not So Much:
*Even though this novel provided enough description to get an idea of Ms. Fenn's world, I was ultimately left wanting more, and I will have to check into her other novels.
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Format: Kindle Edition
Wow!

I think writing a quality short story is harder than writing a quality novel. In a novel, there is more room in which to flesh out characters, develop the plot, and portray the intent. With a short story, writing has to be crisper, more on target, and more evocative. A poor author just can't pull it off, and even a good author who puts together a great short story often cannot sustain that story over a series.

In Downside Girls, Jaine Fenn has succeeded on all levels. Her writing style is direct, clean, and impactful, but there is a flow and a degree of lyricism that makes reading her stories a joy. There are shades present that create a fullness that is often lacking in other works.

The stage for these four short stories is deliciously captivating. A floating city is inhabited by the privileged population that lives on top of the city as well as the despised downsiders, the poor people who live under the city and exist on what they can scavenge. However, this is a weird sort of democracy in which politicians are voted not to be put out of office, but to be assassinated. The instruments of the assassinations are the "angels," former downsiders who have been transformed into flying, powerful assassins.

Characterization in all four stories is simply superb. it is remarkable that the author is able to achieve the depth she does in a short-story format, more than most authors can achieve in full-length novels. Of particular note to me was that of the title character in "The Three Temptations of Larnia Mier." While the other three stories were more directly involved with angels, this story looked at a music teacher who, as a result of an injury, was having hearing issues, and her relationship with one of her students.
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