The listing here doesn't say it yet, but this is written by Ben Acker and Ben Blacker of The Thrilling Adventure Hour. It would be an understatement tThe listing here doesn't say it yet, but this is written by Ben Acker and Ben Blacker of The Thrilling Adventure Hour. It would be an understatement to say that I was a huge fan of TAH: I went every month for something like six years. I absolutely loved it and Acker and Blacker's sense of humor. And now...they're doing a Star Wars book?! omg!!!
Buuuuut...I was a little disappointed by the result. This book is very funny in places -- especially, and unsurprisingly considering the authors' "old-time radio" background, with the dialogue -- but there are also a lot of muddled and confusing action sequences. There are some great character moments -- I found Sari particularly touching -- but too much of the plot follows a "this happened and then this happened and then THIS happened" pattern. Shenanigans flow into shenanigans right up until the very annoying (possibly publisher dictated) cliffhanger. Sigh.
I love the idea of a book set in a training camp for Rebels -- sorry, Resistance fighters. This was classically great in the EU! But it doesn't feel as fleshed out in...whatever we're calling the books set in the new/alternate universe. The way Mattis, our protagonist, is recruited is actually kind of creepy -- like he's being groomed to join a cult. And before he joins the Resistance, he doesn't even know the First Order exists. So what is his investment in this fight? OH MY GOD THE FORCE AWAKENS MADE NO FUCKING SENSE AND I MISS THE EU SO MUCH GODDAAAAAAMN.
...sorry. Obviously, none of that is Acker and Blacker's fault. But for my sanity -- and yours, dear reader! -- I may need to cool it with the non-EU whateverthefuck books from now on....more
I think I would have enjoyed this more if I'd read it closer to when I saw the film, when I was still awash in feels. I'd hoped it would patch over soI think I would have enjoyed this more if I'd read it closer to when I saw the film, when I was still awash in feels. I'd hoped it would patch over some of the film's flaws, but despite Freed's best work -- and he does an excellent job, really -- they are even more apparent when you're not looking at cool space action and Diego Luna's face. Nevertheless, there's still something raw about this story I respond to. Nothing gets to me more than people being brave and self-sacrificing against overwhelming odds.
Minus points for Baze and Chirrut's relationship being described as fraternal, though. Obvious space husbands are obvious....more
I gave Aftermath three stars. This book is not notably worse than Aftermath, but I was excited about the Star Wars universe when I read Aftermath, andI gave Aftermath three stars. This book is not notably worse than Aftermath, but I was excited about the Star Wars universe when I read Aftermath, and I am not now. I'm in the minority of people on the entire planet: I did not like The Force Awakens, and reading this book, which is a direct prequel to the new films, I find myself missing the old Extended Universe so much. The EU was hopeful. It was optimistic. It promised friendship and cooperation and new adventures ahead! Now, I know that for the original series characters -- the characters that I love -- things are just going to end up being shitty. Where's the fun in that?
These issues with the Star Wars universe as a whole are obviously not Wendig's fault, but even beyond them, this book has problems. It takes until about halfway through to really get going, and even then, Wendig seems to do whatever he can to avoid major dramatic moments. Heck, this is a book where a main character -- well, supposedly a main character; he's so dull I actually had no memory of what he even did in the first book -- (view spoiler)[loses an eye to torture -- and it happens offscreen. OFFSCREEN!(hide spoiler)] In place of this, oh yeah, I definitely want more dregs of the Empire politics. Oh, and a cameo by the father of everyone's favorite Nazi Imperial, Hux. OH WAIT EXECPT ACTUALLY I WANTED THE OPPOSITE OF THAT.
Look, the one good thing about these books -- and the one reason I went back for a second round after Aftermath -- is Sinjir. I love Sinjir -- he is the drunk gay asshole of my dreams. But this is supposed to be an ensemble piece and I don't care about the rest of the ensemble at all. Call me when Sinjir gets his own solo series -- or better yet, his Solo series, which involves him being stuck on a book-long adventure with Han, at whom he is angry the entire time for being so handsome. If the new Star Wars universe goes in that direction, I might finally be able to get on board....more
I wish this book had not been about fandom. I realize that wishing for a book to be about something other than its main conceit is wishing for it to bI wish this book had not been about fandom. I realize that wishing for a book to be about something other than its main conceit is wishing for it to be a different book, and I actually very much liked the book that Scarlett Epstein Hates It Here is. But I had to spend a lot of it pretending that its portrayal of fandom was from an alternate universe, because to me it seemed wrong wrong wrong and only tangentially related to what fandom is like in ours. I imagine if you're a veterinarian or a payroll accountant or a chemical engineer and you read a book where the main character is in one of those fields, you might also spend the whole time wincing at every slight inaccuracy. So yeah, that's what this book was like for me.
HOWEVER...Scarlett's voice is still so winning and funny. Breslaw has a fresh, relevant take on a lot of typical teen issues and tropes, and the brief New York literary scene takedown was a scream. When she's ripping into Jonathan Franzen and David Foster Wallace, she has full knowledge and authority over what she's talking about -- exactly what was missing from the fandom passages.
Fortunately, Scarlett herself always seemed real, and that was what won me over....more
A modern retelling of Hamlet, narrated by the infant prince from inside his mother's womb. It is every bit as insufferable as that sounds.
Ian McEwan iA modern retelling of Hamlet, narrated by the infant prince from inside his mother's womb. It is every bit as insufferable as that sounds.
Ian McEwan is one of those writers who, having been crowned an author of literature, thinks he can write any piece of cracked-out nonsense and know it will be treated as a serious work. Is he taking the piss? Who knows. What I do know is: this book is a joke. I've liked other works of McEwan's, although even my favorite, Sweet Tooth, contained elements that were highly problematic -- gotta love that nasty streak of British misogyny! But really he just writes hammy melodrama, often punctuated by a "twist," and dresses them up with pretentious prose. At his worst -- which this is -- he is absolutely the M. Night Shyamalan of authors.
I exist! I am conceived to the chimes of midnight on the clock on the mantelpiece in the room across the hall. The clock once belonged to my great-grandmother (a woman called Alice) and its tired chime counts me into the world. I'm begun on the first stroke and finished on the last when my father rolls off my mother and is plunged into a dreamless sleep, thanks to the five pints of John Smith's Best Bitter he has drunk in the Punch Bowl with his friends, Walter and Bernard Belling. At the moment at which I moved from nothingness into being my mother was pretending to be asleep -- as she often does at such moments. My father, however, is made of stern stuff and he didn't let that put him off.
Energy! Verve! Humor!
In contrast, here's the opening paragraph to Nutshell:
So here I am, upside down in a woman. Arms patiently crossed, waiting, waiting and wondering who I'm in, what I'm in for. My eyes close nostalgically when I remember how I once drifted in my translucent body bag, floated dreamily in the bubble of my thoughts through my private ocean in slow-motion somersaults, colliding gently against the transparent bounds of my confinement, the confiding membrane that vibrated with, even as it muffled, the voices of conspirators in a vile enterprise. That was in my careless youth. Now, fully inverted, not an inch of space to myself, knees crammed against belly, my thoughts as well as my head are fully engaged. I've no choice, my ear is pressed all day and night against bloody walls. I listen, make mental notes, and I'm troubled. I'm hearing pillow talk of deadly intent and I'm terrified by what awaits me, by what might draw me in.
Oh my god. Where's Laertes to put him out of his misery already?
There are only 197 pages of this solipsistic shit, but it feels like a thousand. I'll admit it: I knew I would loathe this book by the time I had finished the above paragraph, but I hate-read it all the way to the end. I wanted to be thorough and complete in my disdain. But I can save you the trouble. In a nutshell: what a piece of crap....more
I don't mean that as an insult at all. I love fanfic; I have, in fact, read many fics that I've liked bet**spoiler alert** Well that was a fun fanfic!
I don't mean that as an insult at all. I love fanfic; I have, in fact, read many fics that I've liked better than the original work -- and I've certainly read better post-series Harry Potter fics than this. Still, The Cursed Child does a lot of what I like a good fic to do, namely take the characters in an unexpected new direction and evolve the relationships in ways the original narrative seems unwilling to. It's also tropey as fuck.
Time travel? Check! Alternate universes? Check! Redemption of villain? Check! Character who is (hitherto) the non-canonical offspring of a main character? Check! Slash pairing as main characters? Check!
Okay: check-minus -- Rowling & Co. wussed out and didn't make Albus/Scorpius canon, even though this was in every way an Albus/Scorpius fic. I never read that pairing, but folks who did: come on, this is almost note for note, right? But again, I'm not mad at it, mostly because Scorpius is the cutest character ever. I think about 85% of the problems I may have had with the adult trio's characterizations in this were reduced to twitches because I just loved Scorpius so much. Draco went and had an adorable nerd-baby. In fact Draco, almost in spite of himself, seems to have been a much better father than his father and Astoria (RIP) appears to have been retroactively awesome. Yay!
Draco and Harry, and -- even more, in a way -- Draco and Hermione coming to terms and perhaps even some mutual affection also made me really happy. I guess I'm easy sometimes? But I never expected this of Rowling, who I thought hated Draco. Here was the character development I wanted in Half-Blood Prince or Deathly Hallows. Is it too little too late? Maybe, but I still enjoyed it.
Overall, I bought into this much more than I expected to -- perhaps because my investment was rather low. I've always liked Harry Potter, but I was never a HUGE FAN. I don't feel the need to be particularly nitpicky about this.
Was it amazingly well-written? No. Did the plot make total sense? No. Was this how I would have characterized the series' main characters twenty or so years later? NOPE. (Could I in any way picture how the hell this was staged? Not in the least, yo.)
But I enjoyed it for what it was. A fun Albus/Scorpius, Draco redemption fic with time travel. That J.K. Rowling wrote. WOW....more
"Mature" is not a word one would usually apply to Lydia Bennet, but this was a surprisingly mature and imaginative take on Lydia's part of Pride and P"Mature" is not a word one would usually apply to Lydia Bennet, but this was a surprisingly mature and imaginative take on Lydia's part of Pride and Prejudice. That Farrant manages to accomplish this while staying true to the original story and creating her own lively, engaging narrative voice is truly impressive -- I picked this up while ordering, intending to do my due diligence by reading a few pages, and found I couldn't stop. Farrant finds depth in Lydia while still acknowledging her childishness and silliness. It helps to be a modern reader, aware that Lydia is a teenage girl who's likely extremely bored, but I don't think Farrant hammers in that point, or any other, too harshly. This book doesn't exactly provide Lydia with the happy ending one might want, nor does it (view spoiler)[fully redeem Wickham, much to my relief -- I'm not sure there would be a way to do that without going deeply OOC or soppy (hide spoiler)]. But this is a more positive spin on her fate, and her character. Plus: it's fun....more
I really should not read Hollywood novels. I'm not like some industry ~insider~ or anything, but I feel like you don't have to be to understand that sI really should not read Hollywood novels. I'm not like some industry ~insider~ or anything, but I feel like you don't have to be to understand that so many details in this book are wrong.
*A callback audition for a major network TV show would not be held in an auditorium. It is not the school play. *Said network show would not get picked up for 13 episodes before the pilot is even filmed. *I'm not sure how an accident on Highland would cause everyone to "bail onto Fairfax" when those streets are like two miles apart. *All of the Valley is not Burbank. I'm really not sure how you would stand on Mulholland Drive "looking out at the lights of Burbank." *As far as I know, there's no room at San Diego ComicCon called "the Sayers Room," and people certainly aren't allowed to stand up against the back wall for panels when the rooms are full. Also, audience members can't stand up in their seats to ask questions!
All of these issues appeared relatively close to the beginning of this novel, but I kept reading. I kept reading because, in spite of all these errors, the characters' emotional realities and the way their relationship developed rang really true to me. Those details, Turner seemed to get right: what it would be like to suddenly have your first acting success, to get to know your castmates, to have to deal with a deeply closeted boyfriend with whom you nevertheless felt a profound connection. Vince's character voice felt authentic, even if his environs often didn't.
But those mistakes kept yanking me out. And they got worse and worse as the story progressed. I didn't believe the way Turner had her imaginary network deal with promotion or controversy, I didn't believe her depiction of how talk shows work, and I didn't buy the supposed turn-around time between when episodes are filmed and when they air (this was significant to the plot). Things that I might have otherwise let slide became glaring, because unfortunately, Turner had lost her credibility with me through all these mistakes. She even misspells Emmys. ("Hold my purse for a sec, my Emmy's really heavy" = okay; "OMG, we're going to the Emmy's!" = NOPE.) I started skimming the last third of the book because, despite caring about Vince and Alex, I had lost faith in their world.
I'm sad to see that Turner hasn't published another book (this one is, I believe, from 2011) because there's a lot of promise in this: she's a good writer. But she badly, badly needed a good editor....more
Now this is a modern Sherlock Holmes adaptation that I can get behind! This book is not only adorable and diverse, it's packed with lots of good stuffNow this is a modern Sherlock Holmes adaptation that I can get behind! This book is not only adorable and diverse, it's packed with lots of good stuff about adjusting to change and making new friends in a way that's subtle and amusing. I'm going to feel really good selling this to kids....more
My catalogue copy called this "An LGBT twist on Taylor Swift's 'You Belong With Me,'" and that's very consciously exactly what this is -- down to theMy catalogue copy called this "An LGBT twist on Taylor Swift's 'You Belong With Me,'" and that's very consciously exactly what this is -- down to the lyric reference of the title. It's gently funny and very cute, and Hall does a good job balancing the characters' POVs (including the cheer captain/soon-to-be-ex-girlfriend of one of the guys), making their motivations understandable and worthy of sympathy, even when they mess up. (A wholesome message for teens!) Nothing here is that groundbreaking or remarkable -- except, I guess, the very fact that it's an LGBT twist on Taylor Swift's 'You Belong With Me.' Pretty sweet....more
Well-written, but increasingly problematic as it goes along. The main issue is: if you make Cinderella a dude, all the female characters you're left wWell-written, but increasingly problematic as it goes along. The main issue is: if you make Cinderella a dude, all the female characters you're left with are extremely unpleasant. No one gets their eyes pecked out by birds in this, but it's still not pretty. Also the ending is extremely rushed and suddenly (even more) unrealistic.
I really liked the fairytale quality of the first third, though....more
This volume contains: two issues summarizing Iron Man 3, two issues summarizing Captain America: The Winter Solider, a post-CATWS issue about Bucky anThis volume contains: two issues summarizing Iron Man 3, two issues summarizing Captain America: The Winter Solider, a post-CATWS issue about Bucky and Rumlow, and a reprint of the opening issue of the original Civil War comic.
The IM3/CATWS issues are incoherent to a truly impressive degree. If you are unfamiliar with these movies, I am sure you would have absolutely no idea what is going on, and possibly come to believe you must be suffering from some sort of brain tumor; if, like me, you've seen both films many, many times, these issues are still nearly impossible to follow, even though 99% of the dialogue is taken directly from the screenplays. So who are these comics for? NO ONE.
The comic about Bucky and Rumlow is pointless, and I say this as someone who would happily read about Bucky grocery shopping, preparing his income taxes, visiting the DMV, etc.
The opening of the Civil War comic is a) old news, and b) really not in any way related to the Civil War movie.
There is absolutely no reason to buy or read this volume....more
Picture Home Alone but in the woods, and instead of Kevin trying to stop criminals from burglarizing his house, he's trying to destroy some innocent dPicture Home Alone but in the woods, and instead of Kevin trying to stop criminals from burglarizing his house, he's trying to destroy some innocent dude simply for having the temerity to consensually bone his mom.
This kid and his friend are basically psychopaths.
This book is also remarkable for its commitment to the Nerdy Pixie Dream Girl fantasy. Here's her stunning debut:
I whip around and come face to face with one of the cutest girls I have ever seen in my life. She's got geek-chic black specs, has a blunt-cut hairdo, and is wearing a skintight Himura Kenshin T-shirt.
It's as if someone plucked the perfect girl from my mind and plopped her down in front of me. The kind of girl you dream about running into at Comic-Con.
The kind of girl who makes glasses look hot.
The kind of girl who will talk to you for hours about Hayao Miyazaki's films, and Fullmetal Alchemist, and the influence that medieval history has on Game of Thrones.
Ooh. Let me see if I can grasp what you're telling me -- is it that she's not like other girls?
If you love timeless gags like slipping laxatives into someone's food to give them explosive diarrhea, the classic "wiping with poison ivy" trope, at least three instances of riotous vomiting, a character spraying urine into another character's mouth, pages-long descriptions of farting into a sleeping bag, and the state of having an erection described as "wielding the Odinsword," then you'll love this book!...more
Better than average tie-in material: Before the Awakening provides some really fascinating backstory for Finn, Rey, and Poe (plus some lovely Phil NotBetter than average tie-in material: Before the Awakening provides some really fascinating backstory for Finn, Rey, and Poe (plus some lovely Phil Noto illustrations). The Finn section was particularly engaging (read: feelsy) but all three offered their pleasures. Full disclosure: I didn't like the movie very much, but I do like these characters, and enjoyed seeing them in scenarios that actually contain some original ideas. *cough*...more