Interesting. It felt like a very slow, thoughtful book, but a lot of things went by much too quickly -- Anton and Svetlana's courtship appears to have...moreInteresting. It felt like a very slow, thoughtful book, but a lot of things went by much too quickly -- Anton and Svetlana's courtship appears to have occurred entirely between sections one and two, for example, and really nobody except for Anton and Egor got much in the way of characterization. It was neat to have the mix of fantasy elements and complicated mysteries, though, and the mysteries all had great flourishing reveals as Anton figured them out (although I would have liked to have their emotional significances worked out for a little longer). There was a slightly old-fashioned feeling from having a vaguely Holmesian hero who won by being actually smart, not just clever and tough. Also, I was fascinated to read a story so grounded in Moscow and Russia, a setting very foreign to me.
I'm not hopping to read the sequels, though; the main point of the book seems to have been "how do you act truly good when the consequences of anything you do seem to be evil?", and there's only so far you can go with an answer like "um, I don't know".(less)
**spoiler alert** This book had a much more believable ending on the plot than the first book -- nearly no strange coincidences required! And I like t...more**spoiler alert** This book had a much more believable ending on the plot than the first book -- nearly no strange coincidences required! And I like the supernatural twists on the steampunkery, like the explanations for why telegraph isn't feasible and dirigible is. The emotional resonances are still a little weird with Our Heroes talking a big line about how much they argue by yelling and sex when in fact they actually argue by avoidance and secret-keeping, and the ending with regards to that is -- well, painful.
Also, I suppose it's nice that only one of the evil lesbians was killed off, but I wish that the protagonist's-eye-view of them had been less faux-coy.(less)
The chief amusement of this book was that it made me nostalgic for all of that time that I wasted as a teenager playing the game on which this book is...moreThe chief amusement of this book was that it made me nostalgic for all of that time that I wasted as a teenager playing the game on which this book is based -- but hey, it was an awesome game, so, y'know, I enjoyed reading this a lot.
It wasn't The DOOM Comic of yore (comic reading link, youtube dramatic reading), of course, which is and always will be the DOOM adaptation against which all others must be compared, and I think that where it missed most of its mark was that, unlike the comic, the book tried to take the "oh noes, demons are invading our space station" concept in a semi-realistic way -- which meant that this was basically the novelization of the protagonist's trauma and mental breakdown mushed awkwardly with the demands of the plot that the protagonist blow a lot of demons the fuck up. These things can mesh instead of mush -- see, for example, Alien -- but this book seems a little too self-conscious of its genre conventions to really get you into the head of the protagonist where you need to be to make that work, at least if you're me. (I will grant that most of that self-consciousness was probably necessary for the nit-fixing of the original game elements for semi-coherent world-building.)
Speaking of the protagonist, though: a lot of this book was the sensitive exploration of the feelings of the protagonist (a Marine named Fly, short for Flynn) for a fellow Marine named Arlene, who appears in person about halfway through the book. When Arlene isn't present, she's a kickass Marine who runs through the station well ahead of Fly, killing things, blazing the trail, and making Fly generally feel second-best; he spends his time day-dreaming about what great friends they were and how all of the Marines respected her so much. When she appears, Fly immediately goes into macho protect-the-little-lady mode, which the book obliges by setting Arlene up to be rescued a couple of times. And, of course, it's Arlene who's all we-must-rescue-the-homeworld in order to inspire Fly to do his part in the fighting. I think that the story of Arlene and her sidekick Fly would have made a much better book, especially because any concept of "chain of command" was pretty much blown out of the water from page one, so it wouldn't matter that Fly technically outranked her.
Or maybe I just need to go digging through my old backups to see if I have a copy of DOOM which can be installed on a modern computer so that I can blow up a few demons of my own....(less)
**spoiler alert** The last book I read in 2008! I started this the afternoon of the 31st and finished it up around 11pm, which is to say, it's quite r...more**spoiler alert** The last book I read in 2008! I started this the afternoon of the 31st and finished it up around 11pm, which is to say, it's quite readable! I liked the use of alternating voices and I liked both of those narrating characters -- I think I liked them almost too much, to the point that it was very easy to forget what was going on around them. That's the point of the whole book, of course, and it's an excellent point which is hammered home a couple of times, but, y'know, sudden Nazis to bring the point home are not really a pleasant surprise.
I knew it was a trilogy going in, but I expected more resolution; it's very much an emotional cliffhanger, for all that everything in the plot is actually resolved. Now I need those other two books! I have to know what happens!(less)
Lots of very nice world-building in this one! My expectations were low -- basically, I liked the title and the description sounded not unreadable -- b...moreLots of very nice world-building in this one! My expectations were low -- basically, I liked the title and the description sounded not unreadable -- but they were definitely exceeded and then some.
I'm not sure how I feel about the floating POV, with half of the book first person from Sam and half a floating third person omniscient, but it got the job done well enough. (When you have sections in villain POV and it's not awful, you're doing something well enough.) (The extended origin-story flashback from his mother I could have done without, though.)
Sam was self-aware without breaking the fourth wall; he had white-boy-angst without feeling special; he had special powers that genuinely made his life suck instead of making him special; he was a smart-ass without being too cute; he was scared without being heroic. In short, he was a pretty good protagonist. Ramon, Frank, and Brooke made an excellent set of hero's friends, too. It wasn't all spectacular -- the pacing was a bit uneven, although the book was such a fast read that I didn't ever have time to get bored -- and the sequel hooks were a little obvious (although intriguing). Brid didn't get nearly enough development for her role but she got too much to be dismissed as an extra, which was another thing which felt uneven.
Hmm. So far this review has been mostly "there were so many ways that this could have sucked, but it didn't: yay", and I don't think that really does justice here. I enjoyed this book proactively as well! I liked these characters and this world and would like to read more of them!(less)
This is a fun book! There's nothing dramatic in the plot, but it isn't formulaic, either, and the storytelling kept me focused on the characters inste...moreThis is a fun book! There's nothing dramatic in the plot, but it isn't formulaic, either, and the storytelling kept me focused on the characters instead of trying to guess the next plot twist so that I never had to feel jaded. Its real joy is in the human moments: the little pop culture asides that Corny and his family make, the times when Kaye and Corny very understandably have no idea what to do next, and most of all in the wonderful relationship between Kaye and her mother. Kaye seems to have gained a bit of maturity in her feelings toward Roiben between Tithe and this book -- which is not saying much, fortunately -- and it's nice to see her making new mistakes instead of the same ones over again!(less)