I came across Fallen by Tim Lebbon pretty randomly, just browsing the 'new release' section at my local library. I was sort of between books, in thatI came across Fallen by Tim Lebbon pretty randomly, just browsing the 'new release' section at my local library. I was sort of between books, in that the three I had been reading off and on for a while had lost my interest and the book I had put on hold hadn't come in yet, so I decided to check it out and give it a read. Fallen is a stand-alone book, and something of a prequel to Lebbon's Dusk and Dawn. Although all three are set in the world of Noreela, the events in Fallen take place long before the other two (to the tune of 1000-4000 years, not sure exactly).
Fallen follows Ramus and Nomi, a pair of rival explorers with a very love-hate sort of relationship, as they embark upon the greatest voyage of their lives. At the southern edge of Noreela stands The Great Divide, a cliff face so high that it is eclipsed by clouds. It is a looming barrier that no one has ever crossed--or at least no one has ever returned from trying to cross, until a mysterious wanderer appears with pages containing cryptic writing that supposedly comes from beyond the Divide. Although their reasons are very different, it is a challenge that neither Ramus nor Nomi can refuse. But what begins as a joint venture soon becomes a race across a treacherous landscape as each Voyager strives to beat the other to the top and beyond.
While this might sound like pretty standard fantasy fare, this book is something of an anomaly. It's pretty dark and has some pretty classic horror elements. Although not a lot of time is given to world building, Noreela is quickly established as a pretty darn scary place. Venturing out into the wilds is dangerous, and it seems like every other page the group is encountering a deadly new plant, creature or band of murderous cannibalistic human marauders. This is a world where a darkening sky could mean a coming rain storm or a of swarm of insects, snakes or lizards carried on the wind to rain down from above. When things turn violent, people die... messily. It's horrifying and tragic to watch (so to speak) a well-developed character get dismembered, beheaded, and dropped off a cliff. But I have to give the guy a nod for being willing to do it.
The characters in this book are pretty well developed, but for the two main characters (Ramus and Nomi) the more they are developed the less I sympathize with them. They have a past, and it isn't a very pretty one. They've both done terrible things to one another, and it makes their hired Serian bodyguards much more sympathetic--which is a shame because they're basically the "red shirts" of the story.
I really enjoyed reading most of this book, and thought for sure I was going to be able to give it a four or even five paw rating. Unfortunately, the ending fell a bit short. I didn't much care for the final confrontation with the 'big bad' and the results were pretty confusing and left a lot of questions unanswered. On top of that, I had to re-read a few pages twice because it just wasn't clear what the author was 'getting at'. In the end, I still think that it had the potential to be an awesome book and instead ended up just being OK. I will probably give Dusk a read because I like the style of Lebbon's writing and I'm willing to give him another chance. His chapters are long, but they're split up into sections small enough that it's easy to find a pause point. His characters are interesting and come to life easily, and his descriptions (other than a few notable exceptions) make it easy to visualize the events as they unfold--which can be both a good and bad thing, when you consider the horror elements of his writing. *shiver* ...more
In Greywalker, Harper Blaine is a moderately successful private detective that lives/works in Seattle. When a routine case goes suddenly and unexpecteIn Greywalker, Harper Blaine is a moderately successful private detective that lives/works in Seattle. When a routine case goes suddenly and unexpectedly awry, she finds herself fighting for her life and loses. Briefly, anyway. Although she only spent a couple of minutes technically dead, she returns with a the ability to see into the Grey, a sort of spirit world superimposed over the 'real' world. As you can imagine, she finds this a little bit disturbing but hey... a girl's got to make a living, right? The book follows her learning about her newfound power as she works a couple of cases and begins to learn that when it comes to the paranormal she's barely scratched the surface.
Although the idea of dying and coming back seeing things isn't exactly a new one, Richardson's concept of the Grey is actually pretty unique and interesting. It's gloomy and kinda scary, sort of like catching glimpses of a Silent Hill version of reality out of the corner of your eye. The disappointing thing is that Harper doesn't really learn how to use/control her new abilities during the book. Instead, she spends a lot of time trying to deny/reject them despite supporting characters trying to teach/encourage her. Speaking of said supporting characters, I was a bit annoyed by the way she found her mentors to the paranormal; it was a little too neat and tidy.
Although the plot is pretty good, it moves along kind of slowly and without much character establishment or development. Most of the supporting characters (Quinton and Will in particular) are instantly interesting and likable but Harper herself is kind of like a cardboard cut-out. You never find out anything about her past and are never really introduced to anyone that she knew before the start of the book. She seems to have no friends, no support other than the relative strangers she meets over the course of the novel and her pet ferret. What's more, she doesn't seem to have any likes/dislikes... she's kind of bland as a character, which is odd because the story is written in her voice. There are glimpses of wit in some of her dialogue but it doesn't carry over to the storytelling.
Although this book was published in 2006, I get the feeling that it was a pretty old manuscript. It read more like 1996 or earlier, when pagers were more common than cell phones... the tech in general just seemed outdated. Setting-wise, Richardson does a lot of name dropping of real locations in Seattle but doesn't get down to describing them in very good detail.
On the whole, I did enjoy this book and I will be picking up the sequel. The spooks were adequately spooky, the villains were adequately villainous and the plot was for the most part resolved to my satisfaction. (Though I could kick her over the ending.) I think the series has potential, and hope to see the author improve with her sophomore effort. If not, well, I guess I'll cross that bridge when I get to it....more
When I think about the books I read in 2008, this was one of the best and one of the very few books to earn a five-star rating from me. The Host is aWhen I think about the books I read in 2008, this was one of the best and one of the very few books to earn a five-star rating from me. The Host is a departure from my usual fare. I don't read very much Sci-Fi, as my tastes lean more toward fantasy. I was intrigued by the synopsis and because Stephenie Meyer is the author of the Twilight series. I haven't read the Twilight series, always shying away from it because it was YA. The Host is aimed at adults rather than teens, so I thought I'd give it a whirl and see if Meyer was worth the hype.
I had a little trouble getting into The Host at first, but once I did I was completely hooked. The events that unfold are gripping and the characters very real. Meyer's portrayal of humanity after its fall isn't remotely sugar-coated. The aliens that have come to take over Earth and use humans as hosts are very interesting, and since the book is written from a alien's perspective it's fun to see the human world through the eyes of an outsider who just doesn't understand at first why these creatures do the things they do.
The Host is advertised as being a 'love triangle involving two bodies' but it's actually a little more complicated than that. But more than that, romance isn't what the story is about... it's about a stranger in a strange land, the clashing of two very different cultures/species, humanity's struggle to survive in their darkest hour, and the hope for a brighter tomorrow....more
I had a hard time getting into this book. Maybe it was the whole angels coming down and laying waste to humanity thing, or the neomageIn a word: Meh.
I had a hard time getting into this book. Maybe it was the whole angels coming down and laying waste to humanity thing, or the neomage in heat thing but I just found it a bit too annoying to really get immersed in. I liked the way magic worked, it was very unique and interesting. I might have finished it if I'd had more time last month (Nano kept me busy), but in the end I had to turn it back in to the Library without finishing it and I don't know if I'll ever bother going back to it....more
I really enjoyed this book and think the series has a lot of potential. Normally I don't go for love triangles, but the one that is set up by the endI really enjoyed this book and think the series has a lot of potential. Normally I don't go for love triangles, but the one that is set up by the end of the book is at least interesting.. and for once I don't know who to root for!
My biggest complaint about Moon Called is that Mercy is supposed to be a mature adult woman (31-ish, by my math) but as soon as she returns home to visit her foster family (whom she hasn't seen since she was a teenager) she just feels younger for the whole rest of the book. They treat her like a kid, and she doesn't seem to object much when her family (old and current) tries constantly to leave her behind while the grown-ups handle things. Sure, she gets in on the action anyway... but I kept finding myself going 'oh my god, they're treating you like a kid... doesn't that bother you?'...more