After ~20 years of reading this series, I have finally reached the triumphant conclusion. While Sanderson's style does differ somewhat from Jordan's (...moreAfter ~20 years of reading this series, I have finally reached the triumphant conclusion. While Sanderson's style does differ somewhat from Jordan's (the use of shields and the characters interactions with eachother being two noteable examples) he proved to be up to the task. For those eager to finish the series - it is SO worth it! For those wondering whether the series is worth starting (perhapse curious whether the end is worth the miles and miles of paper you will have to read through - it depends. There is a slowing of activity in the late-middle part of the series and if that will be too much for you than move on. I personally was never to bothered by that. This book is almost completely action from start to finish. That can be exhausting but I found it to be in a good way.
Here's to 20 years (more for those who discovered the series earlier)! (less)
I did not finish this book. First of all, the art is all black and white. I have no problem with that, however when an artist restricts themselves to...moreI did not finish this book. First of all, the art is all black and white. I have no problem with that, however when an artist restricts themselves to b&w, they need to be careful not to get too detailed or the pictures will get very crowded and busy. La Perdida is a good example of that. The art itself is not bad but I found the level of detail in each panel a bit distracting and for me it detracted fro the experience. Maybe that wasn't such a bad thing however because the story itself is a bit of a wreck. The characters are all rather annoying - self-righteous, self-involved and naive. Maybe the main character grows up by the end of the story but considering how poorly the story was executed, I have my doubts. I gave up after struggling to get through a very long scene without any point that I could see. This was a big disappointment. (less)
Jersey Angel is a story about a girl (Angel) trying to find herself. She spends much of her time pursuing he ex or hooking up with the exact guys she...moreJersey Angel is a story about a girl (Angel) trying to find herself. She spends much of her time pursuing he ex or hooking up with the exact guys she should not be hooking up with. Angel does not take life too seriously and this this has worked well for her so far. Now she is being faced with the consequences of her actions, consequences she is not sure really bother her. It is an engaging story and the characters are all richly portrayed. Angel especially is a joy to read as she struggles to figure out who she is and who she wants to be.
As a typical American teenager, Angel is pretty frank about sex. She has had alot of it with alot of different boys. Mostly this is not dealt with in a graphic fashion but some parents may not want their teenagers reading it. Teens (and adults) will probably like the story however, but not for the sex. What makes this book work is the all too human voice of Angel, her frank discussion of her life and the fairly realistic portrayal of teenage relationships from the point of view of one who does not really understand them and is not certain she wants to. Though the story takes place on the Jersey shore, it could as easily take place anywhere in America.
The Flavia de Luce books are generally fun, light mysteries. I call them light but really, I read so few mysteries that I probably should not judge. R...moreThe Flavia de Luce books are generally fun, light mysteries. I call them light but really, I read so few mysteries that I probably should not judge. Regardless, in many ways they seem to me to be a shade closer to regular fiction than other mysteries may be. I think this is due in large part to the main character who is such a joy to read and whose personality is strong enough to perhaps overshadow the plots of each book. In a way, reading one of these books feels less like reading a mystery than reading about Flavia's adventures which happen to be mysteries. But as I said, I'm not much of a mystery reader so it's possible all mystery books are like that.
Flavia is a precocious, bull-headed, mischievous, energetic and curious eleven year old and all of these traits are hey to her solving the mysteries. Much of her progress revolves around her ability to get information out of people without their being any the wiser to her motives. This requires a certain amount of gullibility and even foolishness on their parts and it often reminds me of reading the Harry Potter books. Harry and his friends also worked to solve mysteries while being underestimated by adults who could not solve the crimes themselves and never seemed to learn that the children were better than them and winning the day. Both series manage to make it work. While it is sometimes hard to believe that an adult would hand out obviously sensitive information to a child their is a degree of self-awareness present that helps mitigate it. Characters being wheedled for information often follow it up by saying something along the lines of "...I shouldn't have told you that..." (not an exact quote). In addition, by the time of "A Red Herring Without the Mustard", book three in the series, some of the characters are beginning to wise up to Flavia. Inspector Hewitt in particular makes several comments about her abilities and Flavia's father, who never says anything outright, appears to be aware of it too.
Really the only times where Flavia's age become a problem is when she acts her age. Thrown into the books are the occasional reference to her gullibility, superstition and immaturity. By and large, they don't fit in with how she is normally portrayed and they don't really work. In this book in particular, Flavia is concerned several times with the menace of pixies (as told to her by her sisters). That would be fine if her superstitious and gullible nature were with her at all times, but for much of her adventures she appears to be fairly sharp when it comes to the lies of others. As a result, whenever she suddenly mentions worries about pixies or wonders about ghosts, it seems false, as though thrown into the story in an effort to remind us of Flavia's age. I find those reminders unneeded as her normal dealings with people and her pranks on her sisters do that quite nicely. I enjoyed this book more than the others so far. In part it is because that as the series goes on, the characters are becoming more and more fleshed out. In addition, the initial crime happens pretty quickly, getting things off to a good start. Finally the addition of Porcelain, the granddaughter of the victim is welcome as she presents a nice challenge to Flavia. Like all Flavia mysteries, there are a good number of questions to be answered as the story rolls along, revealing a background story that is pleasantly complex. For the most part, the questions that arise are all answered in the end though one (involving Porcelain and a crystal-ball stand) seems to be forgotten.
As this book takes place towards the end of the summer (all three books take place in the summer of 1950) I am curious to see when the next book will take place. The advantage of summer is that Flavia has had the freedom to go where she wants, when she wants. If the next book takes place during the school season, it could add some welcome challenges to her freedom and her ability to insert herself into the middle of things. (less)
**spoiler alert** Usually when I hear a book or movie is about drugs or drug-users, I know it's not for me. Such stories tend to mimic the confusion a...more**spoiler alert** Usually when I hear a book or movie is about drugs or drug-users, I know it's not for me. Such stories tend to mimic the confusion and desperation of the druggies and I find them rather boring. I made an exception for this book because it was supposed to be SO good - groundbreaking, filled with amazing prose and realistic characters. It seems to be a golden child of Creative Writing programs all over, so I'll admit that there might be something I'm missing. Regardless, it was pretty awful.
I'm not sure about the groundbreaking part - it may be that I just missed that - but I can confirm the prose and characters. So why can't I like this collection? I can give a few reasons: for one, plot is often missing (they are DRUG stories but even so, they are drug STORIES), for another Johnson sometimes was a bit lax on his research (for example, if you are going to write about a traumatic brain injury, you should probably do some basic research on the brain to avoid embarrassing mistakes) - if an author makes a big enough gaff I have a hard time trusting him for the rest, and for yet another reason, the authors racism shines through a few times. With the latter, I recognize that the characters might have their own issues with race but when the black characters talk like something out of a minstrel show, I think it's safe to assume the author might be calling the shots.
I won't give individual reviews for all the stories but here's the rundown on them:
-Car Crash While Hitchhiking (1 star) -Two Men (2 stars) -Out on Bail (2 stars) -Dundun (3 stars) -Work (2 1/2 stars) -Emergency (4 stars) -Dirty Wedding (1 star) -The Other Man (1 star) -Happy Hour (1 star) -Steady Hands at Seattle Genereal (3 stars - but only because I liked the dialogue so much) -Beverly Home (3 stars)(less)
This is a collection of short stories with a wierd premise. That premise is that these are stories with plots. Michael Chabon who was the editor for t...moreThis is a collection of short stories with a wierd premise. That premise is that these are stories with plots. Michael Chabon who was the editor for the volume apparently feels that this is something missing from today's short fiction (including his own). He laments the lack of horror, detective, sci fi and adventure stories. I am left wondering what he has been reading lately. There are plenty of short stories today that have plot and that fit into these categories. Regardless, the collection of stories in here are rather bland with a few exceptions. A personal favorite was "The Albertine Notes" by Rick Moody, about a drug that gives the user vivid memories. It has all the things I hate - flashbacks, a main character who has trouble keeping track of time - and yet I thought it was brilliant. There are a couple of others in here that were good but most were pretty bad. (less)
A great collection of stories. There were a couple in here that I didn't care for, in particular "The Ascent" by Ron Rash but the vast majority were a...moreA great collection of stories. There were a couple in here that I didn't care for, in particular "The Ascent" by Ron Rash but the vast majority were a pleasure to read. My personal favorite was "The Netherlands Lives with Water", a science fiction story by Jim Shepard. Other noteworthy peices were "My Last Attempt to Explain to You What Happened to the Lion Tamer" by Brendan Mathews and "The Valetudinarian" by Joshua Ferrris. Also of interest to me were the contributers' notes in the back. These included a short bio of each author followed by a short account by the author giving some background information on the story. A few of these were very short and not very helpful but many did a great deal to explain where the story came from and what went into writing it.(less)
First off let me say that this book was a page turner. I had trouble putting it down and yet in te end I'm annoyed that I wasted my time on it. The va...moreFirst off let me say that this book was a page turner. I had trouble putting it down and yet in te end I'm annoyed that I wasted my time on it. The vast majority of the book reads like a prologue. The mystery builds and builds with no answers being given until quite late in the book. The major problem is that after all this buildup, the ending is lightning fast. Subplots are ended suddenly and without much purpose and all the tension is let out in the dumbest way. The only thing that would redeem this book would be if it were the first book in a series and nothing is written to indicate one, either in the back of the book or anywhere on the internet that I can find. As a result this book reads like a prologue witout purpose(less)
"Freedom" by Jonathan Franzen is a bad book. There I said it. It is bad enough that I am embarassed to admit to liking it. I honestly was going to lis...more"Freedom" by Jonathan Franzen is a bad book. There I said it. It is bad enough that I am embarassed to admit to liking it. I honestly was going to list it with only 3 stars to keep people from thinking less of me. But I can't do that.
The brilliance of "Freedom" is precisely how bad it is. It is Melrose Place, it is Survivor, it is the New York Post. It is a soap opera. It really is: it has well-off white people having sex, saying stupid things, saying mean things, backstabbing each other, lusting after each other, insulting each other, lying to each other, lying to themselves, hoping for greatness but debasing themselves at every turn. It is a truely guilty pleasure. I found myself devouring the book, standing on the subway platform after getting off the train so that I could read just a little more...
The fact is that the novel won me over for all the wrong reasons. This is supposed to be the great american novel - a book that perfectly captures post 9/11 culture and ideology - but really that is only apparent for the storyline of Joey, and franly the impact on him is shallow at best. Mostly the capturing of culture takes the form of scattered rock bands and politicians being mentioned. There is American culture to be sure, but not in any brilliant or insightful way and were I a more intellectual person, this might have been a dissapointment. Instead I enjoyed the bits that were thrown in, but I can't say they rocked my literary world.
The plot is ok as books go. As I already mentioned, it is basically a soap opera. It has all the things that make soap operas (and all other such programs, movies, books etc.) work. When the book bogs down, which it does in several places, it bogs down in the kind of behind-the-scenes and before-the-story diversions that most writers are very fond of but get rid of because, let's face it, they are more important to the writer than the reader. I will even admit to skipping through a few small areas (something I never do) and I could have been entirely happy to skip through others. But darn it to hell, I didn't want to miss it when the story got going again.
The cast of characters is wonderful, by which I mean horrible. All of them are airing their dirty laundry all of the time. One or two of them are perhaps less objectionable than the others but thankfully they are often in the background. Consistency is a problem. Patty is described as competative but is usually depicted as being passive or passive-aggressive. Walter fell in love with his college roomate at first sight but not in a gay way. Joey is apparently charming though we never see it. This would normally be cause for alarm and actually it did drive me crazy, but you see, hypocracy may be one of the books greatest aspects. Characters are hypocrits throughout the book. They lie to themselves and each other (Patty narrates two sections of the book and it is pretty obvious that she is lying to the reader in these sections), they do thing that don't jive with previous actions or their own beliefs as related by the narrator or their own words. What that does is give you a reason to keep reading. Did they really do that!?! How can she say that!?! Oh I can't wait to see how he falls on his ass!!! You get the idea.
So yeah, I liked it. I liked it alot, way more than I should have. It's far from a great novel but it is lots of fun.(less)
This book seems to be almost nothing but exposition. I have never read a book with so much exposition in it. Some of the chapters were better than oth...moreThis book seems to be almost nothing but exposition. I have never read a book with so much exposition in it. Some of the chapters were better than others and a few I even enjoyed, but in the end I got so tired of all the characters explaining everything that I had to quit about half way through. The premise makes this book sound intriguing and I was also curious about a book which has first person accounts narrated by such things as a dog, a tree and death, but I was dissappointed to find that none of these was all that well done.(less)