Ennis continues his obsession with shit in this 3rd installment of his vindictive parody. the underground team known as "The Boys" continues to keep aEnnis continues his obsession with shit in this 3rd installment of his vindictive parody. the underground team known as "The Boys" continues to keep a watch on various super-powered groups like "Teenage Kix" and "The Seven". mysteries are deepened, some questions are answered but more are not, a slain character comes back as a revolting zombie, the most enjoyable character - the naïve heroine Starlight - continues to evolve, there's a slice of graphic hate sex for a couple of characters, and there's also a surprisingly touching love story at the center of it all (explicit joke about cunnilingus during menstruation notwithstanding). my two favorite things: a fascinating standoff between the leader of The Boys and the leader of The Seven ("Homelander", ha!) and most of all, a brilliant depiction of The Seven failing to rescue an airplane hijacked by terrorists.
and then there's the shit. Ennis and illustrator Darick Robertson surely do love the inclusion of feces whenever possible. it is all over the page due to the excessively detailed and revoltingly gross renderings of two slavering, excreting superheroes-turned-zombies. but it's more than just a reader gross-out, shit is there as a regularly recurring metaphor and analogy. it is frequently used as such by the characters and it is also clearly the author's touchstone when viewing the world and its history and the rationale behind why things happen in the way that they do, in the way that the most banal of motivations always win out, crushing the spirits of the unlucky and the disposable. per Ennis, The World Is Shit. well, okay....more
perfectly executed little ghost story set in the Arctic wastes in the late 1930s, featuring the adventures of AN AWESOME HUSKY NAMED ISAAK and I suppoperfectly executed little ghost story set in the Arctic wastes in the late 1930s, featuring the adventures of AN AWESOME HUSKY NAMED ISAAK and I suppose some humans as well.
so Jack - a poor, depressed, dog-hating, lower class and very class conscious 28-year-old - finds the perfect solution to his angst and alienation: he will join a small expedition to the abandoned mining outpost of Gruhuken in the Arctic circle. there he will find meaning to his life, camaraderie and fellowship and an intense crush on one of his fellow adventurers, and an atrocious and deadly ghost. there are some other human characters as well but eh whatever, the most compelling part of the story is that Jack meets AN AWESOME HUSKY NAMED ISAAK! who will teach him that only morons hate dogs.
Paver does an excellent job at conveying the time and the place. she creates her characters quickly yet they retain nuance and realism. Jack is an interestingly almost-unreliable narrator. Paver is particularly skilled at painting a locale that is highly atmospheric, dislocating, and eerie. Dark Matter is essentially a haunted house story that takes place in a fairly original setting, full of wide, dark spaces although centered around a small, lonely cabin. of course the author's greatest accomplishment in this book is AN AWESOME HUSKY NAMED ISAAK. what an enjoyable character. he owns every scene he's in.
so Isaak may not be a particularly brave dog, but he is definitely a good dog. and he's a loyal dog too, which is sorta like saying a cat has claws because all good dogs are loyal dogs, but still it has to be said. Isaak's loyalty is outstanding. he also has beautiful blue eyes like most huskies and loves getting treats and enjoys running around and leaning against Jack. who cares if he hides under the bunk when the ghost comes a-calling, that's human business anyway. Isaak made me like Jack, which is quite an accomplishment because Jack is a self-important, self-absorbed grouch. I am also pleased to say that SPOILER Isaak has a happy ending. yay for AN AWESOME HUSKY NAMED ISAAK!
Tanith Lee crafts a children's fantasy and the results are charming and eccentric. the plot: young Prince awakens with no memory in a strange and fantTanith Lee crafts a children's fantasy and the results are charming and eccentric. the plot: young Prince awakens with no memory in a strange and fantastic world; accompanied by a talking, shape-shifting horse (or lion), he finds he has to deal with several quests in his role as the "Looked-for Deliverer". also featuring feisty witches, a Clock Moon, chariots in the sky, a magic egg, threatening tree sprites, a dragon of brass, and a whole lot of fun nonsense. the book's many endearing absurdities reminded me equally of Lewis Carroll and Miéville's Un Lun Dun. the Prince himself is quite amusing in his general laziness, grouchiness, and disinterest in doing anything heroic.
the author's rich prose has been lightened considerably; rather than delivering lush darkness, she brightens her palette so much that the results veer towards the psychedelic:
"The Prince lay on his back and watched the sugarpink sky and the lavender clouds wallowing in it like furry, disgruntled whales in a pink sea. There was a mist over the heath that made it difficult to tell where the sky ended and earth began, and suddenly a bright thing came glittering across the mist.
I really have to mention this book's striking twist ending (she almost always throws one in there): (view spoiler)[after spending much of the time wondering who he is and where he is from, the young lad cracks the magic egg and learns that he came from our world, where he was "very poor and very old, and had nothing and no one"... one day, sheltering under a tree from the rain, an acorn falls on his head and kills him... and he woke to find himself in this world. the Prince realizes he can't come back to our world even if he wanted to, because he's dead here. he's in his own happy afterlife and he has no inclination towards leaving it. (hide spoiler)]
Tanith Lee keeps it classy in this fun and rather old-fashioned fantasy adventure about a ghost-killer, the musician who follows him, and a vengeful yTanith Lee keeps it classy in this fun and rather old-fashioned fantasy adventure about a ghost-killer, the musician who follows him, and a vengeful young witch's ghost. together they encounter a tragic and threatening ghost city, one that comes complete with a ghost forest and a ghost lake in the form of a five-pointed star.
"Tanith Lee keeps it classy" is my callow way of saying that this does not really read like a Tanith Lee novel. none of her usual writerly flourishes, no strange, so-lush-it's-carboniferous prose stylings. there are no sadistic heroes or masochistic heroines (or vice versa); creepy sexuality in general is kept at a minimum. gender roles are straightforward. the narrative is also straightforward: there are some flashbacks and memories recounted but no dreamy meanderings that blur the line between fantasy and the reality of the story itself. the tone is not reserved and distancing, it's lively and amusing and often outright comic. Lee the comedian! wonders never cease. about the only thing remaining of the Lee I know is her usual twist ending, which in this case really works.
so if a person had told me that Kill the Dead is a classy novel where Tanith Lee discards her usual trademarks, I may not have even bothered to read the book. I read Lee specifically because of all the weird and often twisted things I listed above. the combination of all of that is what makes her awesome and it's the reason why she's been one of my favorite authors since forever. fortunately I first read this novel when I was a kid, loved it, and so just reread it despite recognizing even as kid that it was something very different for Lee.
my guess is that it's her version of a mainstream fantasy novel. it even has - gasp - a genuinely heartwarming ending where faith in humanity is restored etc and holylol were you on happy drugs when you wrote this Tanith? what this means to me is that this brilliant, iconoclastic author could easily put out mainstream fantasy novels if she so desires. she just does not desire that, at least not too often. for that, I'm thankful. but I'm also thankful for this wittily deadpan, perfectly accomplished, charming little island that somehow exists in the middle of her otherwise dark, stormy, and disturbing oeuvre. ...more
futuristic tale of an alluring and depressed vampire coping with life on the run and death in the sun.
young mark monday probably should never have gotfuturistic tale of an alluring and depressed vampire coping with life on the run and death in the sun.
young mark monday probably should never have got a hold of this book because it introduced him to a dark, rich, and enticing new world of fuckedupedness - one that he quickly embraced. poor, naïve markmonday... innocence smashed!
don't get me wrong, it's not like this book is full of graphic sexual violence. but what it does do is position what is usually seen as 'perverse' as something understandable, even defensible. when Sabella has to deal with an annoyingly sexist postman, weirdly clinging relatives, a charming stalker, his tough older brother... the reader is resolutely on the side of the blood-sipping killer. nowadays this is typical for vampire novels. back in the 17th century when I was a pre-teen... well, not so much. I'd never read about a sexy, appealing killer before, one who made decisions I could see myself making, up to and including prostituting herself so she could obtain her regular fix of the red honey. I certainly had never read a novel where masculinity - in the form of the older brother mentioned above - was made both unpleasantly brutal and sinisterly appealing. such things are common in the realm of romantic fiction, but not in the science fiction that I actually read. it was all so new to me, this heavy-breathing reduction of the genders to their most essentialist, disturbing, and still deeply erotic parts. it felt wrong when I was reading it, like the author was doing a bad thing and I was somehow able to watch. and so I loved it. the fact that this was a sleek vampire novel set in the far future on another planet made it even better. and its weird happy ending made it perfect.
reading it again years later, the queasy-sexy-uncomfortable charge is greatly reduced because I am of course an adult with a whole host of adult experiences under my belt. but it is only reduced - not absent. the novel is still a wonderfully perverse experience. the futuristic setting is fantastic and as an adult I can particularly appreciate the stripped-down qualities of the minimal narrative. the prose glistens in a typically Tanith Lee fashion. she's a stylist, one to rival other genre stylists like Vance or Valente. Sabella is still strange, cynical, and attractive. her tormenter is still brutal, cynical, and attractive. the relationship still makes my skin crawl in the best, most guilt-inducing way. nice to see that the magic remains, whether reading the novel as a kid or as an adult. although I am definitely not recommending this for kids. young mark monday should have had this book taken away from him and sent right to bed without dinner....more
a lushly written, weirdly ambiguous, often eerie little tale of an age-old curse and two lost souls who find eachgirl and boy meet-cute; antics ensue.
a lushly written, weirdly ambiguous, often eerie little tale of an age-old curse and two lost souls who find each other.
a night-bound young woman in a castle seeks to explore the daytime world; a young man takes up a harp and hits the road.
lady held captive by two cackling witches seeks support in escaping her dark and lonely castle.
guy looking for thrills and adventure and maybe some punani takes to the road with his enchanted harp.
a tragic woman and an optimistic man find they have much to learn about life, love, and each other.
a sinister enchantress wielding dark weapons and guarded by two brave elders sends out a diabolical spell that lures a young man to his potential doom.
a callow minstrel ignores all good sense by removing a sheltered miss from her castle; he soon grows tired of her and attempts to abandon her at an unfriendly village.
evil witch who has escaped her prison takes control of a poor Duke and terrifies his city; the witch's heartless paramour, a homeless singer, appears in the city to mock its residents and torment its brave Duke.
naïve girl is taken captive by a sinister Duke; innocent boy attempts brave rescue.
a tormented lass is possessed by a dark and deadly spirit; an ensorcelled lad seeks to rid her of this malignant parasite.
lonely, ancient spirit seeks to escape its unappealing mortal cage but another mortal misunderstands. typical mortals. *sigh* ...more
so Fargo and Twin Peaks knocked boots and had this kid No One Else Can Have You. on the outside the kid seemed like she really had it going on, smartso Fargo and Twin Peaks knocked boots and had this kid No One Else Can Have You. on the outside the kid seemed like she really had it going on, smart and funny and strange and even stylish, all the good things. well you know the phrase Don't judge a book by its cover? or Pretty is as pretty does? kinda relevant here.
spoiler fail: if you are planning on reading this one, I advise you to go no further. but you probably will. sigh.
mystery fail: there's no "mystery" if the mystery can be solved by the reader within a few chapters. and I'm no genius either. with no suspense, the only thing remaining is the frustration of a reader snorting in derision at a heroine who is blatantly ignoring so many obvious clues.
homage fail: there's a difference between an "homage" and a "rip-off". so this book has all those Fargo-isms repeated again and again. and then again and again. and then some more. it also has a mystery right out of Twin Peaks, complete with a beautiful dead girl with a scandalous diary and a scandalous affair; it even has kooky-sinister characters and crying cops and a sadistic torture-murder. and that faux-naïf tone is all over the place too. but what does it bring to the table of its own? I dunno. but there's a couple things it doesn't bring that are both included in Fargo and Twin Peaks: depth and resonance.
satire fail: there were many satiric moments and stylized characters in Fargo and Twin Peaks. it seems like Hale was trying to do the same thing, what with her cartoonish characters saying and doing all sorts of cartoonish things. the main difference: the book is not very funny. the humor is strident and Hale's jokes land with all the sharp and subtle wit of a sledgehammer blow to the head. was there no editor in the house to call attention to all of the excruciating bits of tryhard "comedy"? comedic or otherwise, the dialogue in general was cringe-worthy, reaching an early low in a scene between the heroine and what I assume was an attempt to satirically depict a boorish lawyer. ugh, the lines that came out of that character.
characterization fail: a killer who has all the heavy-breathing hallmarks of a killer from some cheap 80s slasher... oh shit he even has a lazy eye and he's one of those freaky awkward gamers, what a weirdo... uh, no. his monologue at the end is so asinine, so hilariously bad that I sort of want people I know to read it just so we can roll our eyes at each other and make it some kind of running joke in our conversations.
but wait, there's more! so much more fail. a murder victim whose diary entries are supposed to come across as smart and sassy Laura Palmer-ish but instead read like the mean-spirited slobberings of someone so dick-hungry that they can barely see straight. a repulsive, pathetic cop who is suddenly and preposterously "humanized" in the last few pages? a repulsive, pathetic father whose bizarre behavior is only there to provide wince-worthy eccentricity and a stupid plot twist? fail and fail again. worst of all, the heroine: a 16-year-old intended to be quirky-clever-awesome but who talks and thinks like she's a dull-witted 10-year-old buffoon. such a laughable gap between authorial intention and the actual execution.
empathy fail: I'm not one of those reviewers who are looking for their ideal boy or girl within the pages of a book. because that's what The Real Fucking World™ is for, that's where I get to pick and choose. even though I'm probably not going to find my perfect ideal there either. anyway. within the pages of a book, I'm looking for interesting and hopefully at least semi-realistic characters, not dream dates, so if one character refers to another as a "pansy" and another character uses the word "faggot", I'm not going to wet my pants in dismay because, well, that's how some people actually talk and think. in life and in this book. an author can put those words into characters' mouths and that should be fine because it doesn't mean the author is condoning such things, it means they are trying to reflect reality. I'm talking to YOU, fellow reviewers. this book is not homophobic.
but Hale fails the sensitivity test in another regard: mental illness, which is mocked crudely and mercilessly. the very idea of "mental illness" is apparently a joke to Hale because she repeatedly sets up scenes that are obviously meant to be full of lolz. hahaha mental illness is so retarded, amiright? that's the impression I'm getting from Hale the author - NOT just from her characters. and fuck, that was really disappointing to realize. like on a human level. an author can write about complicated or negative characters who casually display insensitivity and that's fine. but for the author to also display that casual insensitivity, that lack of empathy? ugh, gross. and speaking of insensitivity...
YA fail: the target audience is clearly the young adult market. at least that's the section of the bookstore where I found this book. the uncluttered, straightforward, even simplistic prose also make this clear. (that last phrase was not meant to be insulting to the genre, one in which I have many favorites.) so... if you are an author who is gearing your book towards presumably impressionable youth who are right in the middle of growing up and trying to figure out who they are and what their place in the world is and what sorts of lives they are living and are planning to live... WHY ARE YOU MAKING UNFUNNY JOKES AND COMING UP WITH CREEPY SCENARIOS ABOUT PHYSICAL AND EMOTIONAL SPOUSAL ABUSE LIKE IT'S ALL SO LULZY AND NOT ACTUALLY A SERIOUS, REAL ISSUE?
what. the. fuck. now I know that teens are not cloistered little nuns and I'm not about Protect Teh Children. but come on, a little responsibility towards the market that you are trying to extract dollars from would be nice. is that too much to ask?
and because this is a YA review, here's my gif synopsis:
hey if you are going to comment on this review, please do me a solid by not talking about the real life behavior of the warped troubled author and her victim. I know it is a fascinating and/or infuriating topic but I'm not too interested in those kinds of things when I'm talking about an author's book. and there are other reviews you can do that on. thank you in advance!["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
a winter wind blows through the weird and austere Revenants, chilling any potential warmth to be gained from human companionship, freezing any hope tha winter wind blows through the weird and austere Revenants, chilling any potential warmth to be gained from human companionship, freezing any hope that humans can learn and grow and love and live free. back into the earth, human worms! the open air is no place for you sad, crawling things.
girls have gone missing in the village of Cold Marsh, Massachusetts, in the year 1689. the natives have long been slaughtered; the rigid faith clung to by the villagers likewise slaughters any unseemly outbursts of independence, sexuality, or self-reflection. after a third girl disappears, two search parties are tasked with finding her. they stumble upon strange things during their search.
Mills' descriptive powers when illustrating what this place and time felt like are impeccable.
I'm not usually one for overtly pessimistic novels but when the prose is as beautifully written as this, flowing and poetic yet with a certain icy reserve... I'm not going to complain about the pessimism. Mills' character work is equally strong: solid, deeply felt characterization that still leaves room for surprise and dynamic growth - or regression. of particular interest was one character's move from pleasant, passionate young man to the kind of repressed, spitefully vengeful, small-minded jerk who is only worthy of scorn. that was well set-up and perfectly accomplished. and of course quite depressing as well.
this isn't really a horror novel despite some of its supernatural elements. if anything it is in the tradition of Weird Fiction, managing to combine Algernon Blackwood's eerie natural landscapes and obsession with transcendence with Ambrose Bierce's mordant cynicism about the human condition. don't come to Revenants looking for scary thrills or logical answers. instead expect disturbing ambiguity, dreamy meanderings, inexplicable visions, and a slowly paced narrative that does not appear particularly interested in solving its slowly unfolding series of mysteries.
you found a door to a hidden room and in that room is moldering furniture and terrible memories, dead leaves swirling in through an open window, a window looking into a forest, a forest that beckons you to lose yourself in its depths, to jump from that window. you realize that the natural movement of all objects is downward.
imagine a 13-year-old boy genius. he loves science fiction, he loves world-building, he loves physics and biology and all the sciences. he also lovesimagine a 13-year-old boy genius. he loves science fiction, he loves world-building, he loves physics and biology and all the sciences. he also loves his family and he definitely loves girls. he loves binge-watching exciting tv shows. he's open-minded and appreciates diversity. overall this is a great kid and I'd be happy to know him. now imagine if this boy genius were to write a book. what would it be full of?
it would be full of GEE WHIZ EXCITEMENT of course! and spaceships! and alien threats! and super-science! and super-powered advanced humans who can live centuries! and clones! and xenobiology! and a Jupiter orbital! and dangerous futuristic weapons! and gateways to other worlds! and scary alien threats! and military threats too because humans are trigger-happy and if there's military that means some torture too! and a complex future-history complete with a timeline and cast of characters! hey maybe it will have a detective story in it, a crime mystery! and so it will have world-weary cops and corporate espionage and gangsters and devious criminals and all the details of a police procedural! and don't forget, it will have the girls! in particular a really hot girl who is super smart and cunning and righteous and powered by secret weapons and she has a glamorous past and a tough past too, she's the whole package! and since she's in it, that means a couple sexy sex scenes too, yay! all that is great, but because this is a good boy who has a supportive family, it will also have a lot about family in it too because good families are awesome! yay for awesome families!
yay for GEE WHIZ EXCITEMENT!
so all those exclamation points above may lead you to believe that I am being sarcastic and old man-ish and that this is a bad review. well, if you thought that, you would be wrong!!!!!!!!!!!!
don't be so cynical!!!!!!!!!!!
Peter Hamilton is one of my favorites. he's not subtle and Great North Road is elephantine like most of his stuff, but he does know how to write and he knows how to create an absorbing narrative that is full of fascinating speculation and intriguing flashbacks and fun fun gee whiz fun. it hit me right in my inner 13-year-old boy. thanks, Hamilton! this book did not challenge me in any way, but who cares, it sure hit the spot and it was great to be immersed in this mega-book for most of January....more