I was VERY surprised with how much I enjoyed reading this book. This is one of those pulp books that you can't put down that is a bit subversive. Whil...moreI was VERY surprised with how much I enjoyed reading this book. This is one of those pulp books that you can't put down that is a bit subversive. While the satirical aspects are obvious (or maybe not), it doesn't interfere with the story/plot or the enjoyment. It doesn't hit you over the head with the satire; just enough to let you know it is there. In comparison with the classic movie, it's got the same title, some of the same characters (some not, some different, etc), and a surprise ending. I don't think, iconically, there is not much out there that can top the surprise ending of the movie other than Star Wars - but the book's ending is deserved and pleasing. Much better than the movie (and that goes without saying), it was a great and fun read. And if the surprise ending wasn't great enough - there is also a not so surprising bookends effect. (less)
This was a book, by title alone, should have been about Katniss, but she did little but be clueless. Can a heroine really be so dense? It was annoying...moreThis was a book, by title alone, should have been about Katniss, but she did little but be clueless. Can a heroine really be so dense? It was annoying in the second book and intolerable in the book that's supposed to have the gravitas to complete the series. Instead it was cheap. Instead of dealing with one of he most intriguing inner conflicts deciding between the two male leads, there is instead a cheap out. A cheap ending.
There was only one moment of true shock in the book, but was used as a simple and contrived plot point.
This book has been sitting on my shelf for years, even longer than Ender's Game. I had intended to read it after I finished all the Ender books, despi...moreThis book has been sitting on my shelf for years, even longer than Ender's Game. I had intended to read it after I finished all the Ender books, despite everyone telling me that not only was that not necessary, that I shouldn't even bother with the rest of the series. I can't speak for the rest of the series, but with the movie coming out, I wanted to read about Bean's perspective on the events in Ender's Game. I figured it would be a retelling of Ender's Game with just a point of view shift, but instead, I got an entirely new and enjoyable book. While it wasn't as much as a page turner as EG, it was VERY good. Bean wasn't some miniturized version of Ender. Instead he was his own completely different character. He isn't as identifable as Ender, actually the polar opposite. While the reader is more sympathetic towards Ender, especially if it's the first reading and the ending isn't yet known, Bean is colder, more calculating. And smarter than Ender. And that's the detracted from the book - but the attractor as well. Bean is cold and calculating, a character very much like House or Sherlock: brilliant but lacking social grace. While wanting to lead like Ender, Bean just can't be the leader type. But his skills do command loyalty and he becomes a leader in his own right, just a different sort than Ender. And while Ender had a middle class upbringing, Bean was a street urchin almost since birth, and like Stewie from Family Guy, wicked smart and planning and plotting first for survival then for overcoming his size and age at Battle school, yet in a completely different way from Ender, then manipulating and positioning and quite simply knowing things strictly by observation. While Ender had no clue what was going on that would lead to his story's climax, Bean figured it out early. This, for the reader, again distances this character away from Ender. Bean is not as likeable as Ender, but his story is gripping. I read Ender's Game my second time at a slow, leasurely pace as opposed to the can't put it down and read it one day pace, so I can concentrate on the differences between these two protagonists. And in Ender's Game, Bean is just as not likeable - but even more so. He comes off as arrogant, abrasive, and obstinate. He is the same in Ender's Shadow, but with his inner thoughts, there is reason behind his actions and words, mostly coming from his frustration with everyone else's lack of equal intelligence. It's amazing comparing these two characters. While Bean is smarter, can see more, and quickly creative, he doesn't match Ender in shear knowing how to use people to his own ends and doing what must be done for survival. While Bean can do what needs to be done for survival, it's more Bean centric, while Ender considers not only who threatens his survival, but who ever his audience is. He makes sure he will not be threatened by anyone else who sees his actions. Bean, and Ender even says this, is more like a scaple. Over all, I enjoyed both books, yet, they are wildly different. I had compared Ender's Game to a marriage of Heinlein and Miles from the Vorkorgisan saga. Bean is a marriage of Heinlein and an insecure Sherlock. (less)
While I'm enjoying the story, I'm getting annoyed with how stupid Katniss is. Bella didn't have this much trouble choosing between two men and that wa...moreWhile I'm enjoying the story, I'm getting annoyed with how stupid Katniss is. Bella didn't have this much trouble choosing between two men and that was even stupid. It's absurd that she claims that she loves one, but then crawls in bed with another. And then, she keeps missing the obvious. She did it in the previous book and I have a feeling that she's just going to continue being clueless about the world around her. She's got that cabin close to home - she should just stay there and avoid all contact with people so no one will ever find out how clueless she is. There. That's the the story. (less)
This book was one missed opportunity after another. There were so many issues brought up that the book could have explored further. And dropped plot l...moreThis book was one missed opportunity after another. There were so many issues brought up that the book could have explored further. And dropped plot lines as well. Did Crichton give up in the middle of the book and someone else finished it? sigh(less)
Even more ridiculous than Thuvia, Maid of Mars. ERB is extremely imaginative, but with Chessmen, it is distracting to the story and elements of that g...moreEven more ridiculous than Thuvia, Maid of Mars. ERB is extremely imaginative, but with Chessmen, it is distracting to the story and elements of that great imagination that was used missed opportunities with enriching the plot. There were no likable characters so I just didn't care about the love story. All the Barsoom books are romances, but at least before there were some swashbuckling aspects. Now, everything is repetitive from the previous books with yet even more undiscovered unbelievable races. (less)
The title "Next" might as well be advice to move on to the next book. While it did build to an ending that somewhat tied everything up, the book was a...moreThe title "Next" might as well be advice to move on to the next book. While it did build to an ending that somewhat tied everything up, the book was a mess. It began with a smorgasbord of characters. By itself, not a big deal - but there must be some connection between all the characters, or at the minimum, a plot line for each character introduced. Instead, there is a prologue that did nothing for the book - except for maybe set the tone, but even that is stretching it. The book wasn't a story in a traditional sense. The book was actually Michael Crichton wagging his finger at how the legal system treats the ownership and patenting of genes. While this is a serious issue, especially with what medical technology and bio-engineering can do now, the examples that Crichton used were far fetched. This doesn't mean that it is not possible - after all, Crichton is known for extensive research, but it just seemed more science fiction/fantasy than reality. Crichton could have taken his morality tale with this same material and could have been combined to be a story. It could have been a cautionary tale - and I think this is what he intended. Instead, things happened. In the end, things came together, but only through Dickensian melding. And while Charles Dickens could pull it off, it seemed contrived in "Next." Not a whole lot of story or point, but just a whole lot of finger wagging.
I do want to make a couple observations - "Rise of the Planet of the Apes" seemed to have borrowed (stolen) extensively from aspects of this book. "Friscoe Pigeon Mambo" is a much better book if you want talking birds. (less)
Might as well call this book "The Son Also Rises" - but I think that might be taken.
Why Thuvia's name is on the cover, I still have no idea and doubt...moreMight as well call this book "The Son Also Rises" - but I think that might be taken.
Why Thuvia's name is on the cover, I still have no idea and doubt the other books in the series will shed any light on it. This was a pure Carthoris book that mimics the formula of chasing the girl set up with the first two John Carter books.
Then, with a suggestion of a Princess Bride plot line that never gets explored and a political intrigue thriller that never really materializes, there was too much in this book that nothing was done with.
And speaking of materializes - a completely new concept and race to Barsoom is introduced and then done nothing with. A member of this race has a cool scene at the end, but by the time the end is reached in this very short book, it has no emotional impact.
There was barely any swashbuckling that the John Carter trilogy made fun and what was there was dry and meaningless.
I'm stubborn and will continue the series, but at this point, knowing that John Carter's story is done, I feel that there is nothing left on Mars/Barsoom of interest to me. (less)
Knowing that I want to see the movie, John Carter, I just had to go back to the source material. How is it that I've never heard of these books? Why d...moreKnowing that I want to see the movie, John Carter, I just had to go back to the source material. How is it that I've never heard of these books? Why do I only know Edgar Rice Burroughs as the Tarzan guy? With this first book, I sought to remedy my ignorance. And what fun it was! The little kid inside of me howled at the injustice that this wasn't introduced sooner. And the adult loved the aspect that I can always go back and fill in the gaps of what my younger self should have read. This is definitely a must read for fans of sci-fi. While fun, and while I understand that this was originally targeted towards younger readers, it seemed that some of the climactic fights were too short and lightweight for what led up to it. Of course, the matter of fact suddenness of some of those violent fights only makes it even harsher. Meh. It's a toss up still inside of me of how I feel about it. And it didn't detract too much from how much I enjoyed it. (less)
Cross between Shirley Jackson's "The Lottery" and Koushun Takami's "Battle Royale" with a dash of (okay, lots more than a dash) of Joseph Campbell's H...moreCross between Shirley Jackson's "The Lottery" and Koushun Takami's "Battle Royale" with a dash of (okay, lots more than a dash) of Joseph Campbell's Hero Cycle. Which means, every single bit of it was predictable and formulaic. That said, I couldn't put it down. There's a reason why we keep retelling the same old hero cycle/journal story formula - because it's good. The characters were dynamic and blissfully clueless. It's a very fun read, extremely well and fast paced. I seriously couldn't put it down and spent a sleepless night reading it. (less)