Onyesonwu, a young woman conceived through violent means, has magical powers nearly beyond her control and an evil father who is bent on her destructi...moreOnyesonwu, a young woman conceived through violent means, has magical powers nearly beyond her control and an evil father who is bent on her destruction and the destruction of her people.
Nnedi Okorafor does an excellent job of catching the reader's attention and interest in the opening of the novel, but after nearly 100 pages still fails to offer anything new to further motivate the reader to keep going. Her punchy, short-sentenced style is reminiscent of Octavia E. Butler, as is her subject, bringing to mind the African-descended shape-changers of Butler's Wild Seed. Okorafor not only writes punchy sentences, she writes punchy chapters--little, two- to four-page snippets that fracture the flow of the narrative by jerking us through time with little in the way of transition.
I originally tried to read this novel in 2010 and abandoned it after 200 pages. The story had finally moved beyond the setup, but the pace still tripped along awkwardly, and neither the conflict nor the characters pulled me in enough to finish the book. This time, I picked it up in audiobook and was able to make it through to the end of the story with much less difficulty. The awkward transitions and punchy pacing of the printed version did not come through in audio.
In the end, I found myself unsatisfied with the character development, which effectively ceased halfway through the book, and the plot resolution, which was a bit too loose for my tastes. I really liked the kind of confusing meld of modern and fantasy, so that I was never quite sure if the story was taking place in the modern world with magical realism, a post-apocalyptic world, or a magical version of the modern world. I also enjoyed the aspects of reading fantasy based on other countries and cultures. It makes for a very different experience from typical epic fantasy. Despite these pluses, I don't recommend Who Fears Death as an essential read.(less)
The death of the human race seems eminent when birth rates drop sharply away. Twenty years after Omega, the year the last infant was born to mankind,...moreThe death of the human race seems eminent when birth rates drop sharply away. Twenty years after Omega, the year the last infant was born to mankind, the dwindling population of England struggles with apathy and an aging population in need of more and more care. Theo--a historian, and cousin and previous advisor to the Warden of England, an essentially benevolent dictator--is approached by a group of rebels unhappy with some of the Warden's policies. They are particularly disturbed by the Quietus, a mass suicide ceremony of the elderly and infirm that is supposedly voluntary but seems less so of late. Theo is reluctant to help. But when one of the members of the group turns out to be pregnant, all that changes.
I think my great love for this movie definitely affected me feelings about the book (the two have very little in common besides the basic premise). While the movie is thought-provoking, action-packed, and filled with well-developed characters, the book is slow, plodding, and gives very little purchase for sympathizing with the characters. I also disagreed with a lot of things that P.D. James suggested would happen if the possibility of procreation was removed from the equation of humanity (such as that no one would ever feel like having sex again). All in all, not a book I would recommend. Two out of four of my book group members didn't even get past the first fifty pages.(less)
Reality tv, survival in the woods, impossible love, corrupt government, and fights to the death. What more could you ask for in a tear-jerking, page-t...moreReality tv, survival in the woods, impossible love, corrupt government, and fights to the death. What more could you ask for in a tear-jerking, page-turning young adult novel? Obviously, I walked away utterly fulfilled. The only thing that bummed me out about the book is that I didn’t come up with such an amazing premise myself. (Although, in reading some other Goodreads reviews on the book, it seems that perhaps Collins didn’t actually come up with the premise herself, either. You bet I’ll be checking out Battle Royale soon.)
The hunger games were created by the corrupt leaders of Panem after its thirteen districts tried and failed to rebel against the capital. Now, two names are drawn from each district at the annual reaping, and the girl and boy who are chosen must compete in the televised and sensationalized hunger games to try and win honor and much-needed food and supplies for their districts or, at the very least, try to stay alive in a game where only one may survive.
The Hunger Games follows Katniss Everdeen's struggle for survival after she takes her younger sister's place in the hunger games. But the other contestant from her district, Peeta Mellark, was the boy who, many years ago, saved Katniss and her family from starvation when she had almost no hope left. Now she has to find a way to survive the game, decipher her feelings about Peeta, and figure out how to win without having to kill him.(less)
I have heard so much about The Road from others that I suppose I came into it with expectations too high. I didn't think I would love it, by any means...moreI have heard so much about The Road from others that I suppose I came into it with expectations too high. I didn't think I would love it, by any means. But I did expect to be emotionally caught up. People implied to me that it was a difficult read to get through--a heavy, depressing book. That I should definitely have a box of tissue nearby. But, for me, McCarthy's Pulitzer Prize winner was none of these things.
The Road follows the arduous journey of a man and his son (of unspecified age, though certainly somewhere in the single digits) in search of warmer climes some years after the apocalypse (also a vague and unspecified event) has destroyed society as we know it. The father struggles to protect his son and his son's innocence as they evade gangs of survivors turned cannibal and others who would murder them for the food and supplies they carry.
Rather than being filled with the tension and action implied by my summary above, The Road does a good job of conveying the plodding and empty life of the father/son duo, and the colorless world they plod through, via Cormac McCarthy plodding account of their every action: they set down their packs, dig through one of them for some food, open a can of peaches with a can opener, share the peaches between them, then the boy fills the can with water and drinks the rest, then they light a fire, then they warm their hands by it, then they take off their shoes and dry their socks, then they put their shoes back on...it goes on. And on. And, as you can imagine, each new day is much the same as the last.
I found my mind drifting off even as I read, so that as soon as I realized something was actually happening (i.e., an encounter with other people), I would have to jump back six paragraphs to figure out what I had missed while I was spacing out. Not good.
The son, for me, was rather one-note and annoying. Although I understand the idea of some people being naturally kind and compassionate like this boy (who really has no example of goodness to model after), it seems like he would have at least learned how to help his father with the day to day tasks of survival rather than being a completely useless burden. I appreciated the idea of exploring a father/son relationship where the father's efforts to protect his child were actually a negative influence and a detriment to the child's development. But, for me, McCarthy did not manage to connect all the dots on this idea and the end for me (which, come on, came as no surprise) fell just as flat as the rest of the book.(less)
This second installment in Collins' Hunger Games series is riveting from beginning to end. After securing the win for herself and Peeta through one fi...moreThis second installment in Collins' Hunger Games series is riveting from beginning to end. After securing the win for herself and Peeta through one final, rebellious act in The Hunger Games, Katniss Everdeen finds herself caught up in a chain of political fallout that lands her in the one place she never thought she'd have to go again: the arena. While she finds herself this time fighting only for Peeta's survival, outside the Capitol her act of defiance in the last games has instigated all twelve districts to rebellion.(less)
Rescued by the rebels in District 13 at the end of Catching Fire, Katniss Everdeen now struggles to define her role in the growing rebellion against P...moreRescued by the rebels in District 13 at the end of Catching Fire, Katniss Everdeen now struggles to define her role in the growing rebellion against Panem while others try to define it for her.
I was very pleased with Collins' conclusion to The Hunger Games trilogy. Mockingjay brought back the strongly sympathetic writing of the first book--the end, in particular, bringing me to tears. Leading up to Mockingjay, I was quite worried about how Collins would reconcile the love triangle between Katniss, Peeta, and Gale (mostly because I rooted for Gale but was sure she would end up with Peeta). Despite my rooting for the underdog, I was absolutely satisfied with the way Collins wrapped up this tricky plot.(less)
Oryx and Crake follows Snowman, once known as Jimmy, after the destruction of the world as he once knew it. The world's population is gone--dead. Snow...moreOryx and Crake follows Snowman, once known as Jimmy, after the destruction of the world as he once knew it. The world's population is gone--dead. Snowman wears a sheet and sleeps in a tree to protect against being eaten by wolvogs or pigoons. He is also protector and guide to the Crakers, the (view spoiler)[genetically modified (hide spoiler)] next evolution of mankind.
Jimmy's world was one dominated by science. Only the most brilliant minds lived in the protected and isolated compounds of the R&D companies, where they developed the GMO crops that fed the masses, or livestock that grew spare organs for transplant patients, or techniques for replacing aging skin with new. New, lab-created viruses were a constant threat, edible livestock was growing scarcer every year, and gene-splicing was something people did for fun. Jimmy was a word person, but his best friend Crake was perhaps the most brilliant scientific mind of his generation. They both came from families where one parent had defected against the decaying ethics of the time, the unregulated science that was turning their world into something resembling a circus freak show. But Jimmy didn't realize how much their parents' defections had impacted Crake until it was far too late.
Oryx and Crake deftly weaves two worlds together, that of a post-apocalyptic future and then the dystopian world that was its ruin. Atwood builds these worlds through fabulous prose and exceptional story-telling. There was definitely a higher emotional impact on my first read-through, in print. On my second read-through, I still remembered quite vividly how it all ends, so there wasn't that amazing feeling of revelation the second time around. However, still so so so enjoyed it. This is such a great example of what a dystopian/post-apocalyptic book can be.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
This independently published, breakout success story of a series is one of the best I've read in a while. The Wool Omnibus contains the first five Woo...moreThis independently published, breakout success story of a series is one of the best I've read in a while. The Wool Omnibus contains the first five Wool stories, making up the first Silo saga. Check out my reviews here:
Wool was a fabulous start to Hugh Howey's riveting Wool series. I can see why it was such a runaway success.
This first installment begins with Sherif...moreWool was a fabulous start to Hugh Howey's riveting Wool series. I can see why it was such a runaway success.
This first installment begins with Sheriff Holston's trek up to the top level of the silo--a 100+ floor, self-contained structure buried underground to protect it from the uninhabitable air that now permeates Earth's surface. He is finally ready to declare that he is finished, ready to leave the silo, to clean the camera lenses that allow the silo's only view of the outside and then die out in the poisoned air, just like his wife inexplicably did three years earlier.
Yep. Seriously. Read it.
One sidenote -- Okay, I admit Wool wasn't perfect. In a few places, Howey's prose leave a little smidgen to be desired. For example, the beginning of this first installment takes just a little too long to get started, wallowing in description for several beats too long. He also sometimes relies too heavily on weak verbs. But that's all. Otherwise: fantastic! Surprising! Smart! Unexpected! And this first one (at the moment) is available free on Kindle. And no, I have no connection to the author. :-)(less)
This second installment in the Wool series follows Mayor Jahns, emotionally drained by the recent cleaning of Sheriff Holston, as she and Deputy Marne...moreThis second installment in the Wool series follows Mayor Jahns, emotionally drained by the recent cleaning of Sheriff Holston, as she and Deputy Marnes journey to the down-deep of the silo to find the brilliant young mechanic who they have selected to succeed Holston as sheriff. But Jahns finds her choice for sheriff at odds with the wishes of Bernard, the head of IT. And the conflict leads to much more than she bargained for.
Again, fantastic. Loved the pacing and the slow unfolding reveal and growth of the relationship between Jahns and Marnes (though I can imagine some might find it a bit slow). The ending, again, had the perfect blend of unexpected and dreaded anticipation.(less)
In the wake of the recent deaths of Sheriff Holston and (view spoiler)[Mayor Jahns (hide spoiler)], Juliette finds herself far from the Mechanical flo...moreIn the wake of the recent deaths of Sheriff Holston and (view spoiler)[Mayor Jahns (hide spoiler)], Juliette finds herself far from the Mechanical floors of the down deep that she considers home and trying to get her bearing as she takes over the role of silo sheriff. But she can't get over her curiosity about what led to Holston's death. Or her suspicions over the recent murder that still blankets the silo in a pall of tragedy. Yet asking too many questions is what seems to lead to the inevitability of death by cleaning.
Juliette is a great character. This third story continues the highly enjoyable, tension-filled pace of the previous two in the Wool series. I also have to take a few moments to gush over how much I love Howey's series and story titles. Wool, the title of the series and of the first installment, has several meanings in and of itself. Wool is used for cleaning. It signifies the wool pulled over the eyes of the silo residents--an obscuring of the truth. And yet it is also used to clean the camera lenses, to reveal and expose truth. It also supports the knitting metaphor of the titles of the other installments. And, being a knitter myself, I just love that.["br"]>["br"]>(less)
Juliette has been excommunicated from the silo, sent to clean. And her friends in Mechanical now know why. But they can't just sit back and do nothing...moreJuliette has been excommunicated from the silo, sent to clean. And her friends in Mechanical now know why. But they can't just sit back and do nothing while IT pulls the wool over everyone's eyes, justifying their cleanings and outright murder. This is how the uprising begins. And how the uprising ends.
My four, as opposed to five, stars are only because at this point the story breaks off into several different points of view, which I think dilutes the strength of the narrative a bit. (Not that Howey has much choice, since the action is now taking place (view spoiler)[in two different silos (hide spoiler)].)["br"]>["br"]>(less)
The Stranded, the fifth and final installment in the first Silo saga, follows the continued unraveling after Juliette's expulsion from silo #18 -- the...moreThe Stranded, the fifth and final installment in the first Silo saga, follows the continued unraveling after Juliette's expulsion from silo #18 -- the uprising that continues to wrack the silo's core, Lukas's trials as Bernard's new second, and Juliette's own trials in silo #17.
This last book flowed so urgently from the last (as all of them do, really) that I hardly noticed I was on book five. Actually thought I was on book four for half of this one, until I noticed there really wasn't room left for another book. This is a much longer installment--as Howey says, a full book-length as opposed to the short story and novella lengths of the previous ones. I noticed the longer length as I read, but didn't truly feel the length (wouldn't have guessed it was actually novel sized, as I breezed through it), since the story pace keeps right on going.
I did, however, slow down a bit for another reason. It just got so darn depressing (view spoiler)[with everyone dying and all (hide spoiler)]. Things definitely go from bad to worse, for a while, in this final installment, and I began to wonder if anyone was going to make it.
I docked one star off my rating because I was a bit disappointed in the end, in that the event that seems like the main climactic moment actually ends up happening off-stage, where we don't see it. That is, (view spoiler)[when Bernard ends up getting sent out to cleaning instead of Lukas. I would have liked to see that final tussle and then maybe be left wondering who exactly got sent out to cleaning before the narrative switched back to Juliette for the reveal (hide spoiler)]. Having us not see that conflict at all seemed like a bit of a cop-out.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)