This book has a great premise, and is full of some beautifully written prose. It's about a hacker during the Arab Spring, helping people get around th...moreThis book has a great premise, and is full of some beautifully written prose. It's about a hacker during the Arab Spring, helping people get around the firewalls that the State erected to control its population. Alif falls in love, finds an ancient book, gets into trouble with State, enlists the help of an unseen, magical world full of creatures call Jinn, and combats evil. The story flowed well, and was a fast, fun read.
I would have given it a higher rating, but I'm a computer programmer, and for a book that is about hacking the descriptions of Alif coding felt like I was watching one of those movies where they used a bunch of made-up visuals that have nothing to do with hacking. The prose around the hacking was so oddly descriptive you didn't know what to make of it. For instance, when Alif is hacking into State's intranet, it is described as:
I didn't know a computer program could "reek of ionized air" - and can't conceive of how a mirroring protocol (if there is such a thing) could ever be used to "slice away layers of code".
(view spoiler)[I wanted so hard for the bit about quantum computing and encoding the ancient story into code to make sense. But it just didn't. And that was the heart of the story - that the ancient text contained an all-powerful computer algorithm. I also had trouble buying the Alif & Dina relationship - the characters just felt shallow to me. (hide spoiler)] ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
This book is really the 5th and 4th books cut in half. But rather than George cutting it squarely in half he just put half the character storylines in...moreThis book is really the 5th and 4th books cut in half. But rather than George cutting it squarely in half he just put half the character storylines in. So we miss out on hearing anything about various characters like Dany, Tyrion, Bran, and Stannis, and only hear a little about Jon Snow and Arya. This is not a bad thing, but it did feel like there was a gaping hole.
I think my favorite thing about this book was Littlefinger's scheming. (view spoiler)[I didn't see where he was going with marrying Lysa and then killing her. But then getting out of that in the way he did was pretty smart. In a way it exemplified the whole theme of this book, which is that one way The Game (of Thrones) is played is with favorable marriages, and no highborn maiden is safe.
Cersei's breakdown is interesting too. She has such desire to rule with absolute power, and it of course corrupted her. It was fascinating (and slightly annoying) to watch her lose trust in everyone around her, one by one.
I was less interested with the story line of the Iron Men. But I have a feeling they have a interesting part to play when we get back to Dany's storyline. (hide spoiler)] ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
**spoiler alert** Loved it. The epic saga continues. The poor Starks are torn apart, but yet are surprisingly resilient. In fact, pretty much every ma...more**spoiler alert** Loved it. The epic saga continues. The poor Starks are torn apart, but yet are surprisingly resilient. In fact, pretty much every major character is in danger of dying and some even do. It's a bit tough to read, as you really wanted The King In The North to succeed. And Dany is fast becoming an interesting part of the plot that has yet to intermix with the rest of the characters.
I'll be starting the next one soon. These books are like crack.(less)
I thought JK really made Harry an even stronger archetypal hero - almost in a Paul Maud'Dib from Dune...moreLoved every minute. So sad there isn't another!
I thought JK really made Harry an even stronger archetypal hero - almost in a Paul Maud'Dib from Dune kind of way. He's fighting the ultimate evil, he's brave and takes risks, and believes in himself and doesn't give up despite many hardships. I think JK really did a phenomenal job, as I bet every kid who reads this will have a little bit of hero/Gryffindor in them.
The epilogue was lame though. I would have rather seen a '3 months later' epilogue than a '19 years later' one.(less)
This should be 3.5 stars. I really enjoyed it, but found it all kind of random and leading nowhere. That being said, it was very imaginative and enter...moreThis should be 3.5 stars. I really enjoyed it, but found it all kind of random and leading nowhere. That being said, it was very imaginative and entertaining. Hrun the Barbarian was one of my favorites, as was anything the Luggage did.(less)
**spoiler alert** Just finished this and have to say I really enjoyed it. I was kind of worried the plot wasn't going anywhere for much of it, but the...more**spoiler alert** Just finished this and have to say I really enjoyed it. I was kind of worried the plot wasn't going anywhere for much of it, but the writing was really good and drew me in.
For much of the book I thought the main character (Richard) was too weak of a character for me to like much, but I liked how he grew in confidence towards the end. I think anytime one undertake's an adventure or a journey like that you grow so much. You have to get out there and fail a few times to have the confidence to know how to succeed!
I also have to say I loved Mister Croup and Mister Vandemar. Their dialogue and interaction was hilarious. It really reminded me of Mister Wint and Mister Kidd from James Bond's Diamonds are Forever. (less)
An epic book - loved it, and wish I had found it before now. It does start a bit slow, but then really picks up. It's the story of a young man in 1905...moreAn epic book - loved it, and wish I had found it before now. It does start a bit slow, but then really picks up. It's the story of a young man in 1905ish who graduates from Harvard and then is sent by his rich uncle to be the consul to the made up country of Islandia, which is closed to trade with the outside world.
Islandia is described so clearly you could almost believe it wasn't a made up country. You can feel it's beauty, it's pureness, and it's culure, coming through the pages.
Many of us went through idealistic phases in our 20's, and John Lang is no exception. He is trying to decide what will make him happy: Islandia, or a life in New York as a businessman. He is also searching for love, and seems to have a crush on every Islandian woman he meets!
Wright does an amazing job of describing what the Islandian culture is like. They are largely farmers: they work in the field all day, and their land provides what they need to eat and money to buy the rest. They don't have to work super hard, and have plenty of time for leisure. Their society closed and smaller, so people are very decent to each other. There aren't very many towns or central social hubs, so socializing is often accomplished by staying as a guest in someones farm house as you are traveling through the country, and you can do that totally unannounced.
Islandia is a utopia of sorts - they believe that progress in their culture will not lead to improving their lives. It is an interesting question - does technological progress actually end up making our lives better? Technology is supposed to improve the quality of our lives. We have better medicines, cleaner cities, we can communicate instantly around the world, and travel on cars and trains and planes.
But we lack the notion of a "home" that spans across generations or even multiple family units. Cousins and uncles and grandparents are only seen several times a year during family parties and holidays. In a sense, our society has shifted from being family centric to friend centric, as friends are the people we hang out with socially in the cities, where most of us live. This gives us often a richer variety of people and ideas to interact with, but the the connections are often not as close, and that is sad. (less)
**spoiler alert** I absolutely loved the first book, but didn't think the series finished as strong as I would have liked.
Too many plot holes and thi...more**spoiler alert** I absolutely loved the first book, but didn't think the series finished as strong as I would have liked.
Too many plot holes and things that didn't make sense. Maybe it was because it's supposed to be a children's book, but I didn't like things like how the harpies were so easily convince to change sides, how God's #2 is easily tricked by a little flirting, how Lyra & Will can suddenly easily lose their Daemons, and how two kids making love can save the universe.
On the other hand the book did make you think, and I suppose religious ideas are probably best challenged in a children's book :) I did like the Dante's Inferno-esque description of the world of the dead, and Pullman's description of angels and their roles was brilliant. Also, the descriptions of how things evolved differently in different worlds was very interesting - particularly the Mulefa's world and the descriptions of the Gallivespians. I'm usually not a tragedy fan, but I did think Lyra & Will being separated at the end was a romantic and appropriate ending.(less)
Loved every second, and didn't want it to end, so I had to find a book store and buy the next two! Its a Harry Potter reading level and similar type f...moreLoved every second, and didn't want it to end, so I had to find a book store and buy the next two! Its a Harry Potter reading level and similar type fantasy story, but sometimes thats what you need on a long flight to NYC for the holidays!
I think as a child we all daydreamed about alternate worlds, so I love how thats the basis for the book. Thinking about all the permutations of how things could turn out differently is kinda fun :) I think if I had a Daemon I would hope she'd settle on being a lynx. (less)