I am the type of person who has a hard time picking favorities, and I can honestly say that this is my favorite book of all time and introduced me to...moreI am the type of person who has a hard time picking favorities, and I can honestly say that this is my favorite book of all time and introduced me to a superb author. This book says everything without saying anything. The nature of love, hate, history, and wonder all get tangled up an explored that make this book you can read over and over again and keep realizing new things. You should read this book, seriously. No, I'm not kidding around, go. Ug!I'll watch the kids, just go the bookstore right now!(less)
I possess a secret love for zombie literature, and this hit a nice spot of me. Told by a series of interviews from various individuals who survived th...moreI possess a secret love for zombie literature, and this hit a nice spot of me. Told by a series of interviews from various individuals who survived the Zombie World War, Brooks continues to flex his undead muscles and tell tales of survival, sacrifice, and courage against hordes of flesh eating zombies. If you like zombie movies, you will enjoy this one. (less)
The gang is back as the Pirate Captain is fed up after he is passed over for Pirate of the Year award and decides to take up bee keeping on St. Helena...moreThe gang is back as the Pirate Captain is fed up after he is passed over for Pirate of the Year award and decides to take up bee keeping on St. Helena's. There, he and Napoleon become the neighbors who try and one up each other and hilarity ensues. If you liked Gideon's others works, you'll feel the same about this. Easy light read, worth it for the laughs.(less)
The third and final installment in the Chaos Walking series, Monsters of Men picks up where The Ask And The Answer left off, with Todd and Viola findi...moreThe third and final installment in the Chaos Walking series, Monsters of Men picks up where The Ask And The Answer left off, with Todd and Viola finding themselves in the dead center of an epic war for the fate of the planet. Between the newly arrived colonists, the Mayor's army, the Answer, and the newly pissed of Spackle, Todd and Viola must use their influence to find some sort of resolution that will not result in the complete annihilation of everyone.
Continuing the alternating accounts between Viola and Todd, Ness now adds in 1017, giving his Spackle side of the events of the story as they unfold. Just like the other two, his point of view and voice feel unique and really help the reader understand the alien spackle. It is very well done and definitely added to the story.
Most of the strengths of this book carry over from the last. As I stated above, the voices are well done. The story is engaging and constantly moving, making you always feel guilty when you put the book down. But if I had to narrow down the greatest success Ness accomplished with this story, it's how complex all the characters and sides of this war are presented without seeming too complicated. There is no "good guys" or "bad guys" and you constantly find yourself in flux without how you feel about characters. With all the things that have happened in the past two books, you would think its almost impossible to suddenly root for certain characters, but (without giving anything away) you just find yourself questioning everything. It's very hard to do, but Ness has pulled it off beautifully.
Just like the pros, the drawbacks also carry over from the last two as well. Although these are very small complaints. The writing sometimes feels a bit overly-dramatic, repeating lines over for emphasis. While it works at first, it's a bit overused.Some scenes also feel a bit drawn out, leading to this monster 600 page amount. In the end, these are really small complaints though.
Overall, Monsters of Men was a great ending to a fantastic YA series, leaving me smiling and satisfied. I look forward to Ness's next work.(less)
I was lucky enough to get a chance to speak with Catherine Murdock, author of the Dairy Queen series, and in out convo of good YA series, she recommen...moreI was lucky enough to get a chance to speak with Catherine Murdock, author of the Dairy Queen series, and in out convo of good YA series, she recommended this one as it was what got her son to finally love reading. While I could definitely see the appeal, in the end, I think it's one of those YA series that doesn't translate as well when you read it as an adult.
Following Will and a band of kingdom orphans as they turn the eligible age to begin training in the profession of their choice. Will, scrawny but sneaky, is taken under the wing of Halt, the kingdom's ranger, and his life officially is never the same again.
The setting is very typical fantasy medieval era, complete with kings, knights, ogres, evil magicians, etc. This isn't necessary a bad thing, but nothing is discussed that is really unexpected. I think that was one of my main issues with the book actually, mainly that it is very very predictable. After reading the the title and the first 10 pages or so, you can basically figure out how 3/4's of the books goes. Sure, without spoiling anything, there is a twist here and there that raises an eyebrow, but storyline remains very formulaic for the most part. This isn't necessarily a deal breaker for the book's attended audience, but as a grown man who has read some fantasy, the ranger's apprentice really doesn't bring anything new to the table.
The story itself is also very slow moving and feels like it is set up as the first in a series rather than standing on it's own as a full story. The Ruins of Gorlan, which the books is titles, doesn't even come into play into the last 20% of the books or so. Things mainly follow Will and Horace's beginnings in their respected training, which is all fine and good, but I kept expecting more to happen than really did.
The writing itself is solid but nothing extraordinary. I can see why, as Catherine Murdock felt, that the book is friendly for reluctant readers in that it is very accessible and full of detail, building every scene. In my opinion, it was just a little too deliberate and slow-paced, but I can see how real YA readers feel differently.
In the end, The Ruins of Gorlan wasn't a bad read, but just one of the YA books that you really need to be a YA reader to full enjoy. I'm sure the series gets much more involved in the later parts, but I really wasn't wowed enough to keep going with it.(less)
One of my literary man crushes, Dave Eggers, mentioned this book as one of those that everyone needs to read in an NY Times review. Excited, since I r...moreOne of my literary man crushes, Dave Eggers, mentioned this book as one of those that everyone needs to read in an NY Times review. Excited, since I realized that I belong in the "everyone" category, I checked it out and am left with mixed feelings.
Crossing 6 times periods and literary styles, Cloud Atlas is an epic which discusses man's striving for power and the consequences of his search. Mitchell definitely has some literary muscles and this book definitely flexes them. He can create authentic voices in any time period, 1st or 3rd, and winks at you as he does it. Each of the 6 stories has its own feel and could be separate books on their own, but he ties them together with both subtle and darn clever methods.
But while impressive, it's the dramatic differences between the stories that prevented me from really getting into the book simply because I'm not a fan of stories in every time period and voice. Historical Fiction, as a whole, has never really done it for me. The last story chronologically, which is a post-apocalyptic tale, was written in such broken English that it reminded me of reading Pygmy by Palahniuk and thus I had to fight off the temper tantrums and Vietnam war flashbacks.
Ultimately, I'm not going to blame Mitchell for this 3 star rating, but my own lack of literary endurance. If I hit 30-40 pages of something that isn't my cup of tea, my brain turns off and anything that comes after seems like white noise. I was really only interested in 3 of the 6 tales and voices, which made reading through the other sections feel like a chore and ultimately not worth it when there are so many books on my physical to-read shelf.
In the end, if your a buff adult reader who can tackle any voice, I'm sure you'll get more out of this book than I did. I can see that the book as a whole is really well done, but I just couldn't hack it all. Alright, YA, here I come.... (less)
The third installment in Westerfeld's steampunk series, Goliath picks up where Behemoth left off, with Deryn and Alek on the way east. After encounter...moreThe third installment in Westerfeld's steampunk series, Goliath picks up where Behemoth left off, with Deryn and Alek on the way east. After encountering Tesla and learning of his new weapon which he hopes will help end the war, the Leviathan heads back to the US for it's unraveling.
I really love the world Westerfeld has established in this series.The Darwinist creatures and Clanker machines are infinitely interesting and the alternate depiction of WWI is cleverly done. And while Deryn and Alek are solid characters and it was nice to see there romance come to a head in the book, the most appealing element of this series has always been the action. This sense of imminent danger and large set piece moments which make it stand out. When compared to the other two Goliath is definitely the slowest of the three books, with some tense moments here and there, but lacking this over arching sense of urgency. It isn't until the last hundred pages or so this drama returns and, by that point, I had lost the zeal I began the book with.
I'm not sure this is the last step into this world Westerfeld will take (and I hope it won't be), but then ending gives the implication that even if it isn't, it's the end of Deryn and Alek's story. I was glad to see Deryn's secret finally be revealed and was pleased with where she ended up, but I didn't want that to be the most interesting element of the book, which it ended up being. This series remains one of the better steampunk adventures out there, but it's a shame to see it go out with such a whimper. Not to say that it's not a good book. Fans of the series will enjoy it. But it is definitely the weakest in the series.(less)