Not my favorite PKD book, though still an interesting exploration of an alternate history universe where Nazi Germany and Japan won the war. The chara...moreNot my favorite PKD book, though still an interesting exploration of an alternate history universe where Nazi Germany and Japan won the war. The characters are all a bit annoying, though, it's hard to like them in a 'I wish we were friends' kind of way, but you still feel pretty bad for them when the shit hits the fan, so they aren't entirely assholes either. The pace and structure of the book is strange, as there's a sort of japanization of English that is used thoroughly and it's hard to fall in sync with it.
The end is a bit abrupt and confusing, though I've mused much about it -which in itself indicated this is a good book to me, bad books I don't give a second thought to- and I think it breaks the fourth wall and the book actually ends when the characters realize they aren't real, but characters in a book. Maybe I read the ending wrong, but I like the meta realization and how they last three characters take that knowledge, so I'm sticking with it. (less)
Err, I don't even know what to say about this book. For starters, I didn't know this wasn't the first book of the saga, so clearly I kind of just jump...moreErr, I don't even know what to say about this book. For starters, I didn't know this wasn't the first book of the saga, so clearly I kind of just jumped in the Courtney's party and was a bit confused. Second, I did not foresee the amount of smut this book runs with. Not bad smut, really, just, woah, caught me by surprise the first few super raunchy scenes. There was one swash buckling battle followed by some raunch for the first hundred pages or so.
The characters were pretty shallow as far as characters go and our young hero not necessarily very charming -though we are induces to believe that he is, he kind of doesn't charm much out of you. I liked Aboli, his free man african king friend/caretaker. He wasn't more fleshed out that anyone else but I liked him anyway.
So.. it was entertaining, and there was a lot of adventure, though it was a bit of slow reading because no character truly caught me so I didn't really feel like reading it. Was on the verge of dropping it a couple of times but I went on and in the end I can say I enjoyed it. Weird politics and raunch and battles and all. It was.. a book indeed. (less)
I felt like Contact is a book that tries to hard to be a story. I really enjoyed the way it made radio astronomy more approachable and closer to the r...moreI felt like Contact is a book that tries to hard to be a story. I really enjoyed the way it made radio astronomy more approachable and closer to the reader by adding the human factor. The politics were, I suppose, a product of it's time (not that we're that much further along in that regard) but I feel like it dragged a bit in that aspect. The religious aspect of the book, I felt, was timid. Having an agnostic as a point of view is bound to be infuriating for atheists and religious people alike, there is no real commitment to an agnostic. Now, we can read that as scientific prudence, but if you have been to either side of the religious argument this aspect is only going to grate on you. There is very little middle ground in the theoretical field, so in the book's situation, where it's so much less theoretical, I found it hard to sympathize with that posture. The spiritual experience, the contact itself, was perhaps less sci-fi than I expected, and I felt that 2001: Space Odyssey did a better job of it. In the end I felt like the book had a lot in common with Space Odyssey but that did it less well. (less)
Pretty heartbreaking, I enjoyed this quite a lot. Following Charlie through his journey of self discovery, his realization that people are not always...morePretty heartbreaking, I enjoyed this quite a lot. Following Charlie through his journey of self discovery, his realization that people are not always nice -and then back from that journey at the end- I found some of the questions it poses about happiness to be really depressing. Early in the book it's stated, the more intelligent you are, the more problems you have. And I suppose it's true. His journey to genius leaves him unhappy, angry, desperate and isolated, incapable of making real contact with people. There comes a point where Charlie has a kind of Space Odyssey moment, his mind sort of hallucinating a melding with the macro and the micro, which is really cool, but in the end very sad. Tied to humanity and our fears, our senses of self, he can't let go. But he can't also *be* part of society, he is beyond that? Or perhaps he's just kind of an asshole as everyone notes at some point or other in the book. You want to like Charlie because you used to like him, you feel bad for him, but he's also such a major dick at times, it's hard to sympathize with him. However... it's a sort of logical progression, his intellectual growth pairing up with his lack of empathy and patience and human warmth. Maybe it shouldn't be logical, but it's easy to see how he got there. I don't know. I felt bad for him on his way down, but he hadn't even been happy, not once, not truly, so I wasn't even that sad for him.(less)
Interesting book, worth more perhaps for it's analysis and explanation of geopolitics in general than for it's future forecast, which gets a bit weird...moreInteresting book, worth more perhaps for it's analysis and explanation of geopolitics in general than for it's future forecast, which gets a bit weird by the WWIII part. It's predictions about the US-Mexican conflict are quite interesting but I feel like it's ignoring Mexican realities -I find that it's much more likely to predict the secession of the Mexican north and the American south than a move to annex the American south to Mexico. It even makes more geopolitical sense? And it's been predicted in other sources. I don't know, I suppose any time you try to predict the future you get a mixed bag, this was an interesting one. (less)
An alternative history: Muslims and Chinese fight, team up, conquer, destroy and rebuild the world after all of Europe and Russia is destroyed by the...moreAn alternative history: Muslims and Chinese fight, team up, conquer, destroy and rebuild the world after all of Europe and Russia is destroyed by the black plague. Quite an interesting exercise on religion and culture, about our core values as human beings -the quintessential questions: why are we shit to each other; all this is explored through the reincarnations of a jati or 'soul family', a group that is always coming back together, advancing or falling back in their road to enlightenment.
Though each other lives they live in this book has its points of interest, I feel like their spiritual fight to oppose the world of spirits cyclical nature -indeed, it's almost evil glee over the karmic punishments- was forgotten midbook and never returned. I suppose that the real challenge of the story was the scope, and not so much any personal arcs spanning the many many reincarnations, but I never quite felt like Kyu got reconciled with his anger issues or his situation at all. Maybe that was kind of the point? That the anger issues are still cyclical? That everything about us is cyclical, even our attitudes towards life?
My favorite bit was perhaps, almost at the end, where there's discussion about just how many people actually fit in our perceived world. 20? 15? Perhaps two dozen characters, like roles in a play, and people waltz in and out of our lives, fulfilling those roles, but we don't really have a way to grasp that there is *more* people like that. I like that archetypical quality of our own existence, mostly because I *feel* like it's real.
In the end, an interesting book, quite slow but understandably so, perhaps, due the size of it's scope. At the very least it made me very curious about reading the Quran and learning about Buddhism. Given my disinclination for religions in general, that kind of genuine interest is kind of a gift for me. (less)
I'm going to let this review stand for the whole trilogy.
There's some really great twists in these series. The world building is great, the magic sys...moreI'm going to let this review stand for the whole trilogy.
There's some really great twists in these series. The world building is great, the magic system is amazing, the fights are super clearly choreographed and really fun to imagine. The plot twists are really good, you are given enough clues that sometimes you catch them just before they happen, or maybe early on, and have this sense of foreboding all along, and if you don't catch them there's a true sense of WOAH DID NOT SEE THAT COMING to the books. I enjoyed them quite a lot, though they do happen to portrait one of the Mary Sue-est character's I've ever read. Vin is great at everything, tortured, doesn't know she's beautiful but everyone loves her deeply, she learns everything really fast, she's stronger than she should be, she's.. you get it. Graceful, sad, brave, amazing. Eventually you're gonna get sick of hearing about it.
Which was another of my feuds with the narrative. Every chapter you get a recap of the character arc, or of the character's history between them, and maybe I'm overreacting but I just read about them 10 pages ago, I don't need to be reminded yet again of what are they doing or how are they feeling (the same as the past chapters). Still, eventually Vin's Mary Sue-ness and Elend Marty Stu-ness kind of takes a seat back, they are so powerful that you kind of don't mind anymore? Or at least I didn't by the third book. The support cast is really cool and I feel like the magic system is worth the read of the whole trilogy. A fresh take on magic and a very interesting take on the whole hero vs evil genre. What if the hero fails? (less)
As the end of such a long series, I think it was hard for it to be actually satisfying. Just, how to en...moreI have so many mixed feelings about this book!
As the end of such a long series, I think it was hard for it to be actually satisfying. Just, how to end such an epic? Sanderson's style is so much better paced and engaging than Jordan's, but Robert Jordan left notes and chapters already written, such as the end. And... the end is just so maddening! I don't know if another kind of ending was possible, really, and this is the author's vision so I have to suppose this is where the books were going to all along, but.. yeah.
Without trying to spoil anything, let's say that the battles go on for a little too long, and some subplots are more interesting than others, but overall the book continues to be engaging and fast paced like the past 2 books. It's just... 15 books later, it all ends. No matter how it did, it was going to leave me feeling empty for a while. Goodbye, Wheel of Time. You were annoying and boring at times, but we had our times of fun. You made me care about your characters. I will miss them.(less)
I read the reviews about how this was a different kind of vampire book, and I suppose it is if you are used to reading about...moreNot quite what I expected.
I read the reviews about how this was a different kind of vampire book, and I suppose it is if you are used to reading about, I don't know, sparkling vampires. What this isn't is a surprising book if you have a liking for gothic horror or if you've read a bunch of non recent vampires books.
So, highly romanticed beautiful characters with amazing abilities (if not all of the traditional vampire ones), with the power of glamour and the thirst. Hardly a "different" take from vampires. There's some attempts to explain them in sciency terms, but this is the mid 1800s, however you try to make science your ally, these are going to be very basic and tenuous explanations.
So how does it fare as a traditional gothic horror vampire story, with the sublimation of lust and the war between morality and instinct? As a sublimation of lust, it comes a little short mosty because the main vampire refuses to fall prey to it, so we have good guys and bad guys and confrontations that are pretty cleanly defined. The human factor, captain Marsh, has only one lust and that is STEAMBOATS. That's probably the biggest downfall of the book. We can all appreciate the art of description but boy does it go on about steamboats. This being a vampire story, steamboats are a poor stand in for sexual lust. Still, Marsh is a stand up guy, though a bit flat in his Ugly But Honorable Riverman casting.
As for the rest of the characters? flatter, really. Vampires don't particularly need many dimensions, but it was hard to care for anyone.
The plot could have been about 100 pages shorter. This is not a fast moving story. In fact, between the descriptions of food and people eating, and steamboats, somehwere is a vampire story that has a great setting and some clever points (the yuxtapositions of Marsh the honorable human who helps because it's right vs Sour Billy the whimpy bastard who helps because he expects a benefit, for example, or how preying on man is hardly different than slavery) but I feel like it could have been more smooth and the characters more deep and perhaps stretch the genre a bit more. It was entertaining at times, but not always, and the ending was quite anticlimatic for me.
Perhaps I just came to the book expecting something that was not to be. I've enjoyed Martin's ASoIF so far, but this book is a different beast entirely and it deserves to be seen as a different beast indeed.(less)
Well, a big improvement over the last two books, in this book at least some stuff happens? Mat has slowly but steady become my favorite character to r...moreWell, a big improvement over the last two books, in this book at least some stuff happens? Mat has slowly but steady become my favorite character to read, perhaps because he's the only one who is not an insufferable emo or a total dickhead. He tries to get his act together! and mostly, oddly, succeeds!
Perrin is mostly a draggggg and nothing is resolved, and Rand is.. Rand. Yep yep yep. So.. Tuon and Mat! they are keeping me entertained so far.
Egwene has also been quite refreshing to read, since all her schemes seem to be working, despite all odds, and she hasn't interacted with Rand so she hasn't been obnoxious and Elayne and Aviendha are not around either so there's little super fake female interactions, so I enjoyed her parts too. (less)
In the end the book did shy from some complex topics, brushing them very slightly and then saying their reasoning for such stances was correct because...moreIn the end the book did shy from some complex topics, brushing them very slightly and then saying their reasoning for such stances was correct because of the correct natuee of the stance. Quite circular in most of their reasoning, it's a nice fluffy book about religion that even though its not very progressive at all, it is still light years ahead of the teaching I've been dispensed in person, which is mostly a sad thing.
I did learn many things I didn't know about catholic tradition, so in that way it served its purpose. It's easy to read, accesible if a bit redundant, pretty looking and upbeat -hell, even the old testament is made to look lovey and sort of cheery! that's no easy task!- so I feel like this was a good book to pick up to start my new crazy road towards spirituality, if not necessarily a book that would convert me or any atheist to catholicism. But, in the book's defense, it made me really want to find a place where the religious experience could happen for me.(less)