Great mystery with a rich slice of cultural life from Sicily, Italy. Inspector Montalbano is a fascinating character - not detached from the people an...moreGreat mystery with a rich slice of cultural life from Sicily, Italy. Inspector Montalbano is a fascinating character - not detached from the people and places he's investigating, but so deeply invested in them that his actions and personal life are integral to the plot. At some points there is something like the magic realism of latin authors like Mario Vargas Llosa, but not so blatant - just a feeling floating in the background. I think this might be the second or third Inspector Montalbano book - i'll be tracking down the others, to be sure! (less)
Well, I finished it. If i had been reading it and not listening to it, i might not have finished reading it, but since it was on in my car, i just rol...moreWell, I finished it. If i had been reading it and not listening to it, i might not have finished reading it, but since it was on in my car, i just rolled with it for the sake of hearing what happened next. Did i hate the book? No. It was alright. That's probably the worst thing any author can hope to hear about their book, but that's how i feel. There was a lot of promise in the beginning of the book, but it didn't follow through for me.
Good points: Interesting near-future/alternative present where corporations dominate the world, and everything takes a back seat to making money. Advertising campaigns are off the charts for outlandishness. Some creative projections about future power players, like the NRA and The Police as hired mercenaries with their own armies. Not-so-good points: Plot driven. Shallow characterizations. Stilted conversation. Obvious foreshadowing and uninteresting 'cliffhanger' chapter endings. No sense of real danger for the characters, because they're so flat you don't care much what happens to them. The author seemed obsessed with trying to figure out as many ways as possible to interconnect the characters, which set up a set of 'rules' for the book, and then didn't fully follow through on obvious choices. Mitsui meets a girl in a bar, finds out her name, has a whole conversation with her, and then she just disappears from the book. What the hell was the point of her character being there? She could have created another level of intricacy. Hack Nike, one of the main characters, goes through a major personality change for no apparent reason. He just decides to. Now, I'm not saying that people don't just decide to change their personality for no apparent reason, but it doesn't make for very interesting prose. Jennifer Government is so stereotypical that it hurts. Here's a chance to mess with stereotypes, and the author doesn't bother. Why couldn't Jennifer Government have been the type of woman that you would expect to work for the government - not a hottie with awesome skills, but a realtively normal woman who works long hours for little pay and comes home to do more work to raise her kid. That would have been interesting. Also, what's up with the technology? It was written in 2003, so the technology is plenty advanced. It's supposed to be showing the future, but... let's see... people are at the store arguing over the latest VCR. I'll leave it at that. Also, some obvious character choices were completely ignored. Violet, the independent contractor who built a computer virus that could destroy any network. Gets hired to use it. Uses it. Then gets screwed over by the company that hired her. What does she do? She goes crazy and makes a bunch of completely irrational decisions that are not consistent with what little character she had. What she could have done is used the damn virus on the people that ticked her off. I'm running out of space on this review.
I'll keep my earlier tirade/insight regarding sub-genres:
"A near-future sci-fi novel - although sci-fi doesn't really cover it properly. Science fiction is about science, right? Like, how science evolves and the effect it has on the world. Hard sci-fi is about something that could really happen with technology that's possible. So in a way this is hard sci-fi, but it's more about business and economics - unfortunately, hard econfi doesn't roll off the tongue like sci-fi, but it would be nice if there was a way to differentiate between the types of science that are being explored. Cyberpunk is for computers and human/machine interfaces, for example. Maybe there's not very much in this vein - no that's not true. This type of book relates to some of the dystopian novels of the early 50's, where totalitarianism of one source or another has oppressed people into a very narrow range of possible activities. So it's also a kind of hard socio-sci-fi, hard econo-sci-fi, hard poli-sci-fi, etc." (less)
I've recently discovered Peter Lovesey, through his book "The Bloodhounds," which i've almost completed. He has a great sense of the mystery puzzle, a...moreI've recently discovered Peter Lovesey, through his book "The Bloodhounds," which i've almost completed. He has a great sense of the mystery puzzle, and uses the tools of the genre to his advantage. In "The Sedgemoor Strangler," a killer with a taste for barmaids is haunting the region of Sedgemoor. Allison, a waitress at The Jellied Eel fears that a man she's just started dating might turn out to be the murderer the police are seeking. She puzzles through the clues at hand, trying to reconcile the evidence against her feelings.
I great, gripping short story, well played by the narrator. (less)
Detective Sloan is a good solid protagonist for Aird's mysteries, with lots of insight into the mentality of the various small towns in his jurisdicti...moreDetective Sloan is a good solid protagonist for Aird's mysteries, with lots of insight into the mentality of the various small towns in his jurisdiction. His foil, Constable Crosby, is a bit of a moron, which provides excellent comic relief throughout the book. In Passing Strange, Sloan is called in when an old nurse is murdered during a village flower and vegetable show. Through interviews and introspection, Sloan tracks the killer, follows and discards several red herrings, and eventually captures the murderer. It's a good cozy English countryside mystery, for fans who enjoy Agatha Christie's style and content. One thing that's quite distinct in this and other Sloan mysteries is the presence of a lot of literary quotes. Every character seems to have a favorite old poet or author whom they quote throughout the book. It's nice sometimes and a bit distracting at others.(less)
So far it's pretty fun - murder mystery set in Japan, lots of funny gonzo stuff. The author has a lot of cultural knowledge of Japan and shows it off....moreSo far it's pretty fun - murder mystery set in Japan, lots of funny gonzo stuff. The author has a lot of cultural knowledge of Japan and shows it off. I'm not quite halfway through and i think I've got most of the mystery solved - I'm hoping that i don't have to wait until the end for the protagonist to catch up with me...
There were still a few surprises by the end - overall pretty enjoyable, with lots of great atmosphere to make up for a lack of depth for some of the characters.
A nice, non-standard manga - the author worked on it independently and submitted it to a manga contest, then went back to their day job. When it won t...moreA nice, non-standard manga - the author worked on it independently and submitted it to a manga contest, then went back to their day job. When it won the contest, the author was surprised, then spent the next two years working on the follow-up stories. It feels rough in some places, but it's refreshing to see some manga that's venturing into different territory, rather than depending on the old "Ohmygosh I have super powers! Now what should i do with them?" plotline that you see in other manga.
Mushishi is a series of stories about a man who travels around helping people with their mushi troubles. Mushi are these odd kinds of spirit creatures that infest places or infect people in various ways, usually to their great detriment. Yet it's not out of malice that the mushi act the way they do - they're just a part of the world, doing what they do, somewhat unaware of their affect. The mushishi is a kind of "mushi master" though he doesn't know everything about the mushi he's trying to work with. Each little episode has him attempting to understand the mushi and discover a way to safely separate that mushi from the human/s being affected by it.(less)