The research was impeccable, the stories compelling. There was no discernible...moreSo here's the thing with this book:
I wish somebody else had written it.
The research was impeccable, the stories compelling. There was no discernible bias. I'm a bit of a politics junkie, and followed the campaign in considerable depth as it happened, and there was plenty I didn't already know crammed into this book.
But the writing? It's about as pompous, full-of-itself, ridiculously verbose tripe out there.
I'm a man with a fairly expansive vocabulary. I make my living in words. And I had to read this book with a dictionary at hand.
If you take that language is there for communication, this book fails its very basic task: make oneself easily understood. Why say "there was a great distance between the two" when you can say "there was a chasmal distance between the two." Chasmal? Really? Throughout the book, these words are all over the place, and for no good reason. Here's an apt quote from the NYT Review of Books, who say what I'm getting at with more aplomb than I can:
"O.K., but how about “acuminate”? Or “appetent”? Or “pyretic”? Or “hoggery” and “noisomeness,” or “coriaceous” or “vomitous” or “freneticism”?"
Also throughout, the authors double (and triple, quadruple, and quintuple) down on their title, cramming the phrase "double-down" in to every conceivable (and a few inconceivable) nook and cranny they can find. They force alliteration where it needn't be: using these devices can be effective literary tools, but usually only if they are fluid, lurking beneath awareness to bring out depth and texture in the writing. Here, the authors appear to be so enamored of being capital-W Writers, they linguistically masturbate themselves all over the pages.
Friends, if you've not read Tara's poetry, you are missing out.
Her imagery is vivid - reminiscent of Mary Oliver, but with a completely unique voice....moreFriends, if you've not read Tara's poetry, you are missing out.
Her imagery is vivid - reminiscent of Mary Oliver, but with a completely unique voice. Her words go deeper than the page, evoking the spiritual essence of the magnificent and the mundane of everyday life.
When you read her work, you will find something settling at your center: this is hot cocoa, a warm fire, and the impending arrival of someone much missed for that secret part of yourself which makes you you.(less)
The first book in the Divergent series was innovative and unique enough to mask its shortcomings. Unfortunately, by book 3, the shortcomings mask the...moreThe first book in the Divergent series was innovative and unique enough to mask its shortcomings. Unfortunately, by book 3, the shortcomings mask the innovation.
At the end of the day, these books are a teen romance. The difficulty with this is that, nearly universally in real life and in fiction, teen romance is both annoying to watch, fleeting, and messy because of juvenile things - not because of large political/societal upheaval.
This is not a failing just of Ms. Roth's - in fact, it seems near universal in this burgeoning teen genre - but the love story is simply unbelievable. Two people who are completely incompatible for any number of reasons, including their youth, but also including everything else about them, meet and fall in love almost instantly and permanently. It leaves nothing left to drive the story, and if the story is at heart a romance, then there is little left to propel the action.
What made Divergent so good was that it was not at core a romance, it was a vision of a post-apocalyptic society that differed in fundamental ways from the trillions of other post-apocalyptic books flooding the market these days. The story was good enough to cover the inherent yawn-factor of the relationship between Tris and Four, to cover the first-person present writing, etc.
By the time Allegiant rolls around, Tris and Four have lost their solo identities - so much so that in the first-person present writing, in which perspectives switch between the characters - it is nearly impossible to differentiate between the characters. Throughout the book, I found myself having to go back to chapter heads to figure out which character was narrating. There was no unique voice to distinguish one from the other.
In fact, by the time the climactic final act of the book occurs, it had lost all of its impact - no one character seemed any different than any other character.
This is not to say the book did not have its positive points. The background story of what was happening in the world-at-large was compelling if a bit cliche. The family dynamics playing out between Tris and her brother were probably the most authentic part of the book. It's just that once the book became a romance, the story arc lost its arc. Too bad.(less)
Gosh, I loved this book. Perhaps more than any other writer, reading Gaiman is an immersive experience - the rest of the world flows by unnoticed unti...moreGosh, I loved this book. Perhaps more than any other writer, reading Gaiman is an immersive experience - the rest of the world flows by unnoticed until you finally rest the book in your lap, only to discover that it's gone dark outside, you're very hungry, and holy moly but do you ever have to pee.
While this isn't Gaiman's absolute best book, it's damn good and has some remarkable writing and imagination in it. There's a scene in which the lead characters are following bits of reality to get to a place outside of reality that is simply breathtaking in its brilliance.(less)
So I read this book because Swan Song was a real favorite of mine as a teenager back in the 80s. TO be fair, I haven't read it since then, so I don't...moreSo I read this book because Swan Song was a real favorite of mine as a teenager back in the 80s. TO be fair, I haven't read it since then, so I don't really know how it holds up twenty-five years later, but I sure dug it then.
I was crushed at how bad this was.
It reads like Christian fiction. And come on, even hardcore born-agains have to admit that most Christian fiction is just really, really bad. It's simplistic, and it feels like its coming from a place the rest of the world has passed by while it remained stubbornly and obstinately in a world which never really existed outside of small, church-related communities.
This is the story of The Five, a band made up of a guy who's kind of like Alice Cooper, a girl who's kind of like an Indigo Girl crossed with Taylor Swift, a guy who's kind of like Meat Loaf cum Liberace cum white Billy Preston, a girl who's kind of like Meg White mixed in with a bit of Grumpy Dwarf, and some bass player. Because that band would totally make sense. Except they all love Stephen Stills, and talk about Stephen Stills more than even the fanniest of the Stephen Stills fan blogs (of which I was able to locate exactly none, even though I think he's pretty swell myself).
This whole book feels like a born-again hippie trying to reconcile his dated version of cool with the cool of today and show that they are the exact same thing, except the hippie might know some of the words people use today, but has no idea of the context in which they are used.
A stage manager fist-bumps the Alice cooper-esque lead singer and says thigns are "heezy." Also, the band has a manager who wears penny loafers, and this is regularly commented on.
OH. And there's kind of an angel, and kind of a demon-assasin. And they are angry. Because politics. And because Jesus (maybe?). And then even the rough and tumble athiesgnostics of the band find out that maybe there is some rock god in the sky, filling their vulnerable hearts with terrible music. And really, REALLY bad lyrics.
On a more serious note, there is an attempted rape scene in this book which is both fairly graphic and fairly infuriating. The gist of the scene, and what follows, is that "If I don't really fight back, and I mean fight hard against my rapist, who has done much to take away my physical abilities to fight back, well, I'm just giving the demons what they want. So, if I don't fight back and go on like nothing happened, it's like I'm helping the demons." I very nearly gave up on the book then. I wish I had.
Subterranean Press usually does much better than this. They have stuff by Joe Lansdale and Neil Gaiman. Maybe they are just capitalizing on McCammon's name? Because the writing just isn't there anymore. (less)
Ok, seriously. This book just isn't fair to other writers.
Edge of Dark Water is the one that got away. The girl in college who smelled like honeyed cl...moreOk, seriously. This book just isn't fair to other writers.
Edge of Dark Water is the one that got away. The girl in college who smelled like honeyed cloves just out of the shower, and just as good just before the shower. The girl to whom every other girl that follows will be compared, and come up lacking.
Joe Landsdale will steal your damn heart with this book, and ruin it for other writers for a while.
Oh sure, you'll try and read another book, but just as you begin to gently caress its tender pages, or swipe its quivering screen, you'll remember the way Edge of Dark Water made you tremble *just so,* and whatever you're reading will seem dim by comparison. Sure, you may keep reading out of a sense of duty or obligation, but all the while you'll be thinking about what the last book you read made you feel.(less)
I'll be honest - given the author's statement at the end of the book (which I read early), and the fervent nature of...moreI was so surprised to enjoy this.
I'll be honest - given the author's statement at the end of the book (which I read early), and the fervent nature of the fan base, I was terrified that this was going to blitz away into the unreadable land of born-again christian fiction.
It never did, and boy was I glad.
It's an adventure, pure and simple. Smart, interesting, and mostly well-conceived (a problem of many YA identified books, and not just this one, is that love is instant and eternal, and taken on faith. It just isn't, and it creates unrealisitc expctations in our kids, but whatevs. Got off track there).
The story and the conceptualization are really compelling. The characters are a tiny bit cookie-cutter, but still keep you wanting more. (less)
Somehow i nthe crazy end of 2012, this one snuck past me. It was like a belated Christmas present when I discovered it last week,...moreGosh, this was good.
Somehow i nthe crazy end of 2012, this one snuck past me. It was like a belated Christmas present when I discovered it last week, and Santa was so good to me!
Following on the heels of Wool's first shift, this picks up in the middle years of the Silo series - and things have gone wrong. In fact, they appear to have gone wrong several times. Silos are going off-line, and familiar faces are back to figure out why and make the hard, difficult impossible choices of how to save humanity in a world when its already been destroyed.
Generations are played against one another, and in the end - as Howey has so masterfully done throughout the series - good is not white, bad is not black, and everything lives in a dim, underground shade of gray.
"Let's write a novel about blue," his mind says, and out pours a novel featuring a sweetly perverse Tou...moreI really love the way Chris Moore's mind works.
"Let's write a novel about blue," his mind says, and out pours a novel featuring a sweetly perverse Toulouse Lautrec and companions, creating and destoying art in the pursuit of love, lust, inspiration, and color.
There were a few truly laugh-out-loud moments, where I was afraid I was going to be kicked off of the train, and truly unique and interesting characters - many of whom made me go out and research impressionst and art nouveau painters, syphillis, and the origins of pigmentation and painting.
Lacking maybe the surprising depth of Moore's Lamb, it will still leave you fully enteretained and better for the reading of it.(less)
I can't begin to tell you how surprised I was by this series novellas. I came to it with low expectations, because effectively every other self-publis...moreI can't begin to tell you how surprised I was by this series novellas. I came to it with low expectations, because effectively every other self-published book I've read on my kindle (with the notable exception of J.A. Konrath & Blake Crouch's Serial) was just complete and utter crap.
Still, Wool came highly recommended, so I decided to give it a shot.
Part 1984, part Wizard of Oz and part Road Warrior, author Hugh Howey portrays a bleak future in which humans are confined to an underground silo to stay safe from toxins which are so noxious that even mentioning one wants to go outside is a capital offense. Not all is as it initially seems, however, and the slow reveal of the "man behind the curtain" paints a gray picture of a muddled power structure, where there are true villians, but who and what and why they are they are is obfuscated by necessity, history, and fear.
Howey's characters are vital and believable - surprising you with their humanity in bleak circumstances and shocking the reader with that same humanity when making the circumstances even bleaker.
When I wasn't holding my reader, I was thinking about this great collection. If The Hunger Games has whet your distopian appetite, then here's the main course. I can't wait for more.(less)