First of all, keep in mind that this is an advanced copy, so any and all items are subject to change. That being said, I4.5 really, a terrific book.
First of all, keep in mind that this is an advanced copy, so any and all items are subject to change. That being said, I doubt much will change. I'm not a great editor and was too caught up in the story to pay much of attention, but I didn't note any typos or or other obvious errors (and I often do).
Anyway, the experience starts with the great cover. The design is echoed on the cover page and the first page of each chapter. The font type for both the text and page numbers are very cool and set a graphic-novel-like tone. (Although I would have liked the type font to be a bit larger, it didn't actually bother me, which surprised be me because I'm used to my adjustable font ebooks now. Maybe because it was so dark?)
The premise is very cute, about a kid, Damian Locke, raised by his supervillain mad scientist mom to aspire to heights (ha - he's afraid of heights) of supervillainy, only to find out suddenly on his 16th birthday that his dad was actually a hated superhero. So it's sort-of a nature vs. nurture exploration. But the writing takes the story well beyond the cute premise into being a really fun and thoughtful book with tons of humor, sarcasm, irony, adventure, and heart. The author captured the best elements of superhero stories and turned a few upside down and inside out. As most of us realize at some point, very little in this world is black and white. It turns out that even heroes and villains have to deal with shades of gray. And that goes double (triple, quadruple) for teens growing up and trying to figure out what the heck their parents and friends are thinking and doing.
The author did a great job of writing Damian, his best-friend Kat and his new friend Sarah. All three really ring true, especially Damian. He's that sarcastic, witty kid with the hard shell and inner softy we all want for a best friend (except I'm not good enough with the banter to keep up with him). It was so easy to get swept up in his story that I read the entire book in 2 sittings. It had a great flow and just kept my interest the entire time. I also identified with, or at least recognized, his mom and dad all too well, both good points and bad. I'd like to think that his mom was a bit more cartoonishly obvious as a supervillain, but unfortunately selfishness and neglect aren't restricted to the villain genetic lines. His dad seems pretty obvious at first and has a few lines that just floored me with his one-track mentality, but he got a bit more interesting by the end.
This is a book that will appeal to a really wide range of readers. It's good for both adults and teens, male and female. Younger teens or tweens would have to be pretty good readers, but there isn't really anything inappropriate for kids who aren't super-sheltered (there are mentions of where he was conceived, kissing in school).
Overall it was a great, entertaining story and I hope you guys will all pick it up and support this newly-published but long-suffering writer. And make sure there will be more books to follow!...more
If you're only going to buy one book this season, this would be a good choice. To begin with, it's a beautiful book. The cover is lovely, as are the fIf you're only going to buy one book this season, this would be a good choice. To begin with, it's a beautiful book. The cover is lovely, as are the four color illustrations inside the front and back covers. The artwork continues throughout the book, with many full-page black and white sketches representing the drawings by one of the characters depicting the flora and fauna of this new world or various pertinent documents. There is no cheap double spacing or large fonts in this 1007 page book, you get tons of story for your money. It's really quite a value, especially if you compare it to most other books available today. It's simply a quality production from beginning to end. In addition, as the first book in what has been touted to be a 10 book series, produced much too slowly (for the fans) over the years, readers are sure to want to refer back to this book to see how the dimly remembered details weave together into the total picture.
The first thing I noticed about the story was how easy it was to become immersed in this world. Lately I've found the task of assimilating an entirely new world's culture, history, language, environment, etc., to be too mentally exhausting to try, so I've been avoiding epic fantasy. But Sanderson makes it feel effortless. The various elements are introduced at a pace and with context that make it feel natural and easy. There are no long lectures explaining the history, religions or political set-ups; it is all introduced as integral parts of the story and slowly builds throughout the tale, instead of being dumped on the reader up front. The world-building wasn't a barrier to enjoying the story but was instead part of the mysteries I was eager to discover.
In addition, the story throughout was an easy read. Despite the length, I never felt bored or stuck. There was a point where I was hoping for a bit more excitement, but I wasn't frustrated. I enjoyed all. Some parts were merely pleasant and enjoyable and others were very exciting and dramatic, but all were smooth and easy.
There is sure to be a big debate about whether the length was entirely necessary. I think a comparison can be made to one of the lines in the book, that it's not the destination but the journey that is important. It was all fun, and I'm quite certain that every step will turn out to be critical to the overall arc of the story once we are able to look back at the full length of what is sure to be quite an epic journey.
When it come to the world building, I was quite enchanted by the natural aspects that Sanderson described. It begins with one twist upon our environment - what would happen if a world generally similar to ours experienced torrential storms on a regular basis? How would the plants and animals evolve in response? Sanderson proposes a world where the plants are able to retract into rock or shells of some sort, similar to the way coral responds to stimuli. Animals that have shells, such as snails and crustaceans, would have an advantage and be likely to develop in abundance and variety unseen here. I really enjoyed the way he carried out the idea, all based upon a very simple premise. It created a world that felt both familiar and hauntingly alien at the same time.
As for the story, I liked all of the characters. Most aren't terribly complex or original, but they all feel real. The situations that unfold, the individual growth, the intersections and the way that the past and future events are revealed to be interwoven, is what gives the people a chance to shine more so than their layers, wit or originality. Other than The King's Wit, perhaps, he was pretty darn intriguing. Also, despite the length of the story and Sanderson's focus on a handful of primary characters at this time, there really wasn't time to fully explore every character. The seemingly effortless storytelling really disguised the way that so much detail and vividness was conveyed. This apparently took a lot of words! Frankly, as I was reading I wasn't even aware of the words or the page turns, it just flowed. But it does leave a lot of room in future tomes to continue to explore these main characters, as well as some intriguing characters and ideas that were introduced in the short Interludes sections. I'm especially looking forward to learning more about Jasneh, the daughter and sister of kings and a world-renown scholar. She seems very intense, frequently harsh, and a bit mysterious in this book; I look forward to learning more about her back story and seeing what she does in the future. And of course I look forward to seeing how Kaladin fares, how Dalinar learns to lead with the help of his young but promising sons, and who Szeth really is and what happens to him. I'm also very intrigued by some of the characters very briefly introduced in the Interludes; I would not be surprised if future installations of the story focus more on some of them and less on Kaladin and company, although fans are sure to rant about it if it happens that way.
I did find it a bit ironic but also fun that the last section and epilogue, only 36 pages, was very exciting and more fast-paced that many sections of the book. It was full of intrigue, betrayal, hope, big revelations, and new mysteries. BIG revelations. That evil Sanderson has me panting for the next book while he's committed to other projects. (Stupid Wheel of Time series, I'd be mad if I wasn't happy for the fans and Mr. Jordan's legacy. And if I also wasn't very much looking forward to the next Alcatraz books, I love his hilarious and smart YA series.)
My advice is to read the book if you're a fan of Sanderson's (and if you're not, you should be!) or if you like other world fantasy, adventure tales, military fiction (but don't be dissuaded if you don't, I'm not generally a fan and didn't find it at all off-putting), creative world building, or just good characters and action. But you might want to invest in some good pillows or a sturdy book stand first. (I have a stand that I love, if you're interested. I have a bad back and it's all that allows me to read 1000 page books in print. Pics are on my profile page. I have no affiliation with that company, I'm just passing on my experience.)
Wow, the huge book seems to have inspired a huge review. I actually could say a lot more, I haven't really written about the religion, magic system, history vs. mysticism... It's a very complex world and work that is fun to read. So read it!...more
I liked it a lot. It's very Dan Brown for kids, bouncing around between real historical sites, but always with an imaginative twist. The author reallyI liked it a lot. It's very Dan Brown for kids, bouncing around between real historical sites, but always with an imaginative twist. The author really weaves the mythology and history into the modern story in a fun and exciting, sometimes breathtaking, way. The Egyptian gods as described by Riordan are very different from the Greek or Celtic gods I'm more used to reading about, and the heritage of magic from the Egyptian culture adds a very interesting twist to the story.
I like the idea the author uses that just because we see the world a certain way doesn't mean that alternate realities aren't just as true. Or, to quote, "Have you learned nothing of Egypt? Conflicting stories can be equally true." It's a cool concept that allows the story, and imagination in general, to flourish.
As an Urban Fantasy fan, it was interesting to see a few familiar elements used here and connected to Egyptian history or mythology. For example, the concept of words having power is very common, and names and their specific pronunciation, but I didn't know that was also an Egyptian mythological theme.
I didn't love the first person narration, or the little snipping comments back and forth between the kids as the voices alternated between chapters, but I bet kids will like it. I also bet it would make it really fun as an audiobook, especially since the story is supposedly a recording dictated by the kids (that's why it's first person); I checked and the audio version has 2 narrators, so hearing Carter and Sadie's voices (and even Sadie's English accent?) would probably make it seem very real and exciting, perfect for a long drive during summer vacation perhaps.
To address what I'm sure will be a common complaint, yes, the story has some basic similarity to The 39 Clues series. It is about a brother and sister who set off on a dangerous adventure, previously unaware of their family's connection to a mysterious and dangerous hidden secret. And there are a lot of historical facts and stories used to further the adventure. And Bast does take on a few aspects that reminded me of the au pair (not nanny!) in The 39 Clues. But really, this story is very different. And every kid's fantasy book has the same basic premise: kids against the world; adults out of touch, evil or helpless; a mysterious magical heritage to uncover; and evil to be conquered. The trick is to write a fun and original story within that framework, and Riordan succeeds. And no, it's not quite as amazing, at least to me, as the Percy Jackson books, at least not yet. But it was still very good and I recommend it....more
Very funny. For a light story it had a many good snarky jabs, lots of fun literary references, a great heroine and sexy men. Every woman will find somVery funny. For a light story it had a many good snarky jabs, lots of fun literary references, a great heroine and sexy men. Every woman will find something in Jane to relate to (except the always proper/repressed types), whether awkward childhood experiences, her love for books and reading (and her dog), her lifelong friendship with her male best friend, dating horror stories, crazy family members, wardrobe malfunctions... She's also the girl who says some of the inappropriate things we all wish we'd had the guts to say. I would have enjoyed more meat to the story (I was totally unsurprised by the perpetrator), but I really appreciated a witty banter and strong characters. It was a book I didn't want to put down and an author I can't wait to read again. (Book 2 is coming up next!)...more
I loved this book! It had a great balance of light and dark, humor and deeper emotion, romance and adventure. The author seemed really in touch with cI loved this book! It had a great balance of light and dark, humor and deeper emotion, romance and adventure. The author seemed really in touch with contemporary women and urban fantasy. I loved the wit and humor in this book, and the new ideas of how traditional fantasy elements might manifest in out world. I really hope that all of my friends who like urban fantasy or paranormal romance will try this book, I can't image that anyone would regret it....more
It was a good book. Originally titled Jessica of Dune, Jessica does play a major part in the story, which is fun. There is a lot of Gurney and DuncanIt was a good book. Originally titled Jessica of Dune, Jessica does play a major part in the story, which is fun. There is a lot of Gurney and Duncan and Alia as well. It felt comfortable and familiar, like a visit with old friends.
The most enjoyable part was watching how the authors wove this new story in between the previously existing tales. This book takes place after book 2 of the Dune saga and before book 3 begins. It adds layers to the characters, and their histories and motivations that read true. It felt like watching a circus act in a way, as the stories wove in and out of the previously established truths.
The bad part is the rather heavy handed writing. There are a lot of coincidences and characterizations that do not read true. The masses of people are repeatedly portrayed as plain stupid, buying "relics" by the billions that were supposedly owned by Paul. Bronso is the most wanted fugitive in the universe, yet late in the book he runs around without bothering to disguise his red hair, a very distinguishing feature. Most of all, Jessica travels to the Bene Gesserit home world and just happens to run into the last person they would allow her to have contact with, a person under huge amounts of security (as shown later in the book). Plus Gurney, who was hunted by the Harkonens, is now a hunter himself, which really felt off. I loved the mention of gaze hounds (similar to greyhounds or wolfhounds) and the love people can feel for their dogs, but that Gourney would enjoy personally running in a hunt for fun just doesn't ring true. There were just a lot of times in the book where it felt like the authors took easy ways to get to their desired plot points or used simplistic characterizations to make a point. It felt like they thought I was dumb enough to fall for their slight of hand tricks, and was a bit offensive.
Which is not to say that I didn't enjoy the book or wouldn't recommend it. If you like Dune and the new Brian Herbert/Kevin Anderson entries in the series, you will like this. It was better than Paul of Dune and an enjoyable read.
In addition, I read an interesting quote from a website about the original Dune books and Frank Herbert's ideas: "Evolutionary priorities take precedence over man's desires for an ideal world." I thought this sums up a lot about the series and the dark turn it takes after Dune. From http://tim.oreilly.com/herbert/ch07.html ...more
I liked this book a lot. I like Merit and the world Ms. Neill has created. It isn't terribly original in the vampire powers department, but she's addeI liked this book a lot. I like Merit and the world Ms. Neill has created. It isn't terribly original in the vampire powers department, but she's added some nice twists in the rest of the supernatural community. The recap at the beginning of the book bugged me because it reminded me of all of the things I hated about the first book, mainly the beyond ridiculous series of coincidences used for the premise. It's too easy, too sloppy. And there were still some things in the book that struck me that way, like being able to trace an email back to someone because they are required to give contact info at some point, which is totally not true. I have at least 4 totally anonymous email accounts where I've never provided info (yes, my dogs have gmail and twitter accounts) so an expert would have to have traced my computer somehow, not the trick used in the book. And the attraction Merit and Ethan share is too romance novel easy. He can't seem to shake her, she can't stop noticing the sensitive man inside of the tough guy, ya ya.
All that aside, it still works for me. I still feel the attraction to Ethan, I still like her nutty best friend, I'm still interested in the vampire politics. I really like that Ms. Neill seems as well-read as Merit is. She uses big words and literary references in a nice and appropriate manner, not to show off or in any sort of heavy handed way. There are also a lot of fun pop culture references, but nothing that dates the story or will be annoying if you don't get them. I enjoyed the upper crust Chicago scenes used in the book, especially the big ball. It was an updated version of the big balls in romance novels and felt fun and fitting for the fantasy that is Neill's and Merit's Chicago. Most of all, the emotions between the characters always felt true and vivid. I like Merit, despite and in part because of her imperfections; perfect characters get dull fast and Ms. Neill seems to understand that. I enjoy the feeling this book is a battle but not the war and look forward to seeing what happens next. She's adding to the story layer by layer and it's adding up nicely. It's a fun read and a pretty darn good one. If I had the option it would be a 3.5, but I wanted to round up because the writing is superior to many and it's only her 2nd book and I really see improvement....more
This is a really terrific series. It's primarily a PI mystery/police procedural style combined with urban fantasy. Connon is far from perfect, which mThis is a really terrific series. It's primarily a PI mystery/police procedural style combined with urban fantasy. Connon is far from perfect, which makes him much more interesting. The system of magic is absolutely consistent and feels very real and logical. The politics and social interactions are substantive and rich. The author weaves each layer of the current mystery into the continuing mystery of Connor's past with care and skill. And the supporting characters are fully-fleshed and jump off the page. I'm really impressed with Mark Del Franco and look forward to reading many more of his novels....more