I started this on Playaway and I had to turn it off because of the disturbing scene at the beginning. I got the print copy and I'm so glad I picked thI started this on Playaway and I had to turn it off because of the disturbing scene at the beginning. I got the print copy and I'm so glad I picked this up again, because this book rocked!
Warning: If you hate Nazis, you will either love this book, or you will find your hatred for Nazis inflamed to even higher levels. The Nazis (and all their modern counterparts) seriously suck (which is putting it lightly) and inspired many violent thoughts in my head as I was reading. I think that this book might be therapeutic in that way. Having studied WWII and been sickened by the horrible acts perpetrated by the Nazis against the Jews (and everyone else they deemed unfit), I have stored up a fair amount of enmity against them. At least in fiction, you can see the Nazis get theirs. And I hope that we can learn from history and not let anything like this happen ever again.
In other ways, this was a great read. Lincoln Miller, while he is from a kickbutt elite Navy SEALs background, he still feels like an everyman hero. He assumes accountability to save the world, because he is in the right place at the right time. I loved to see him think through the very desperate circumstances he faced in this book. Imagine not being able to breathe in open air? Really scary. I love a resourceful lead character, and Miller's way of thinking through situations was always credible. Miller has a strong moral compass. While he's not a believer in God, he definitely knows the difference between right and wrong, and has a sense of justice that causes him to fight the good fight and to take a hard line against bullies and murderers. He doesn't kill wantonly, but he's not going to hesitate if killing is necessary.
I liked the secondary characters, although I never did trust one of them. Arwen is awesome. I hope to see more of her. I want to see Lincoln make good on his promise to her. I loved Cowboy! He has a novella out that I will definitely be buying for my Kindle. Also liked Elizabeth a lot. She's a good action heroine, realistic and admirable. Her smarts play a crucial role in this story.
Including the Nazis, there are some aspects of this novel that are very disturbing. I found the far-reaching enormity of the conspiracy quite harrowing, although not surprising, considering how prevalent (and entrenched) racism and prejudice is in this world (and most definitely in the United States). Part of me wondered how people could willingly get in bed with the Nazis, but if your ideology is similar, I guess what they believe is just a more extreme expression of your own beliefs (terrible to consider).
The action was off the charts. I did like how Robinson is realistic in how he describes Miller's reactions to the continual stresses on his body, and how he takes measures to keep himself going when rest isn't an option. For those who like Antarctica as a setting, look no further (although they aren't there very long). There is a big body count, but it's not gratuitous, and I didn't feel sorry for the Nazi/racist bad guys at all.
I decided I was being nitpicky in not giving this five stars. It really is a fiver for me. I wouldn't change anything about the writing. It's easy to read and I liked Robinson's way of explaining things without getting too technical, and also how he keeps the action going. He has a great imagination. Some readers may find the portrayal of the Nazis as being stereotypically evil, but that wasn't a big problem for me. To me, they are the essence of evil. If a reader wants a book with more shades of gray, this probably isn't a book for them.
I'm glad that this book was chosen for the Action/Adventure Aficionados group read, because it was a very fun, exciting read. I talked to this book almost the whole way through, and I didn't want to put it down until I finished the last paragraph. Highly recommended.
Let me preface this review by saying that one of my favorite books of all time is an action/adventure novel set in Antarctica. So I was trying so hardLet me preface this review by saying that one of my favorite books of all time is an action/adventure novel set in Antarctica. So I was trying so hard not to compare them. Trying hard (sighs dramatically)!
When you read a new author, there is always that 'getting to know each other' period that can at times be rough. With this book, it was a bit rough. Wasn't sure about the way he told his story. I couldn't get a feel for the characters. Some felt a little thin to me. I told myself to give it a chance. Glad I did. But as I kept reading, I got drawn deeper into this story. This is one of those 'wait for it' type reads. And yes, Beck does deliver.
Warning to the Wise: Stay out of deep caves!
Oh man. It just kept getting worse. I really have an issue with creepy crawly stuff and Beck kept it coming. I had no idea that the storyline would go in this direction. This is one of those books where I was highly vocal as I read. A whole chorus of "Ugh! Yuck! OMG! Ick! That's nasty." You get the idea. I'm a bit claustrophobic and since I don't like creepy-crawly stuff, you definitely won't catch me going into some prehistoric cave after reading this book. I mean, I love animals and nature, but this place was freaky! I like that uncrossable barrier between hidden ecosystems in which humans are scrumptious prey. Very much, thank you! My innate fear of contagion was going crazy in that place!
Alex Hunter. He's the man!
While my true Special Forces literary husband will always be Shane "Scarecrow" Schofield, I have to say that Alex is pretty cool. I love his super-abilities. And he's a very humble kind of guy. He's all about the mission, and he is a protector. Honorable. He's not on some ego trip. I even liked how he had to stop himself from hulking out. That was kind of different--in a good way. I will be reading more of his adventures.
Man, the body count!
This is one of those books where people are dying right and left. And in nasty ways. Oh, that poor guy with the you know whats eating him up. Ugh! It sucked! I liked a lot of characters who didn't make it. And that tool, you know which one I meant, he caused a particularly painful death for one of the guys. He bit the dust in a nasty way, so he didn't get off scot-free. But still, the loser! This is one of those books that you shouldn't get attached to any characters, 'cause you never know....
Cold Settings Are Awesome!
I love cold weather and I have this strange love for Antarctica. I was excited to read another book set there. This book is kind of a cheat in that regard. Because they end up underground and it's warm and like a tropical type (in a really strange way) ecosystem, we don't get a lot of cold weather action. In a way that was cool, because I was not allowed to draw comparisons to my beloved book of all books. If you know me, you know which book I am talking about.
Don't get me wrong. I love me some Russian characters. But that Uli is such a jerk. I couldn't stand him. A sadistic, evil, horrible, thug. He lacked some depth for me, and I couldn't even think he was a cool villain. He was just a jerk. Like a particularly psychotic schoolyard bully. The whole Russian part didn't really do much for me anyway. I think that it did add some tension to the story, but fundamentally, this is more of a man versus nature conflict story. That part got my attention much more. Ugh, huge slug-monsters and worms. Ick!
This was a good action/adventure novel. While not perfect, it has some things to commend it, namely, creeptastic moments where the characters are pitted against icky prehistoric gross monsters. I liked the high-tech weaponry, especially that gas-projectile gun (very cool). And a pretty cool lead with some awesome abilities. Aimee was very likable too. She knew her stuff and her personality was good. I will read more of this author, and stay my butt out of deep, subterranean caves!
Did you ever read a book, and enjoy it, where you weren't even sure you really liked the main characters at all? They are people that you wouldn't wanDid you ever read a book, and enjoy it, where you weren't even sure you really liked the main characters at all? They are people that you wouldn't want to be around for more than five minutes in real life. Well that is this book.
Having said that, this was a really good book. I found it fascinating, wildly hilarious, creative, unique, and I have this fond feeling inside now that I've finish it. But along with that, there is a sadness.
Let's talk about this book!
As I said above, I spent most of the book trying to decide if I even liked these people, except for Alice. She was the only character I liked 99% of the time. And the 1% of the time I didn't like her, I could understand her actions. The other characters, I just felt like they needed to stop playing around and take something serious for once. Although I felt protective over most of them, and I didn't wish them ill (except for wanting to slap some of them hard), I didn't like their ways of dealing with life. It seemed as though everything was a lark, drinking way too much, taking drugs, sleeping around, playing emotional games with other people. Ugly ways make for ugly people, and that kept hitting me like an off note in an otherwise melodious piece of music. Kind of like Dorian Gray, ultimate hedonism, but without the darkly cruel, ugly edge of narcissism that Gray had. Yeah, there is a bit of a Gossip Girl/Cruel Intentions kind of vibe in some of their doings, The Rich, Bored Mean Kids and their Antics, and I hate that sort of thing. Let me put this way, if this wasn't a book about magic school students, I think I would have shucked it. But the magic part, well that was too brilliant to let go. And I admit, they did make me laugh many times. As for Quentin, the main character....my feelings are decidely complex.
To me, Quentin is a brat who needed a good spanking, a good wake-up call (which he gets in spades, but I'm not 100% sure if it really worked). He is one of those people who scream "Wasted potential." He has opportunities handed to him on a silver platter, and he can't seem to step up and take things as they truly are and be a man. Alice told him so well what I was thinking, essentially to get over himself. I think it helped...some. The verdict is still out. I have high hopes that Quentin will rise to the potential he has, because I can see it shining inside of him. Do I expect great things from him? Well, it's not fair to put those expectations on people, but I expect a lot more than he's given in life. Alice hit on it, his real problem. He is so miserable, and he is bent on being a miserable person. And that is one thing that truly annoys me, a person who likes being unhappy and wants to drag others to their unhappy party. His unhappiness gave birth to a self-destructive bent that he barely managed to keep control of, and it was painful watching him continue in his vicious cycle.
As I said above, I found the concepts of a magic school and how it was handled here utterly fascinating and made for quite an enjoyable read. I know it's been done before, but I like the way it was done here. It brought back memories of my academic days (undergrad and professional school), how it kicked my butt hard and I wondered why I didn't just crawl in the gutter somewhere and die, but I didn't. I just kept on trucking. I especially liked the part in Antarctica. That was just brilliant. I mean....Breakbills South in Antarctica. Rather like the fourth year residency. Just awesome.
The metafiction element of the Fillory books and how they are one of the very few things that Quentin holds sacred, and how they relate back to the story of Quentin and his friends from Breakbills was an element that made this story resonate. Another part I really liked. The satire and the respectful but also irreverent (I think) homage to Narnia hit a chord with me since I love the Narnia books. Seeing how a set of jaded early twentysomethings might view that magical world as opposed to young, sheltered children was quite interesting. And there are some very naughty and quite hilarious jokes thrown in that had me laughing.
The humor was great, and equally well-done was how well the author managed to work in some pretty harrowing and disturbing aspects. The part with the Beast made my hair stand on end. Just freaking weird and scary. And who the Beast turns out to be made it even more unnerving. And the dangerous potential for magic use on the wielder. In my opinion, no story about magic is complete without this. I admit I liked that the Physical kids (as they were called) turned out to be rather woefully underprepared for Fillory. It felt refreshing, although it turns out that their magical skills definitely come to their aid when needed (for the most part). I felt that all the plot elements tie in very well in this story, with elements that are introduced in the very beginning coming full circle in a way that feels balanced for me as a reader.
This was a very well-done novel. My major issue was how unlikable and cynical the characters were at times. That might not bother some, but I don't have a lot of tolerance for that whole, "I'm so bored and jaded with life" kind of vibe, so it wore on me. At times, the narrative voice was a little bit too smug and nastily pretentious (I can't stand cultural snobbery) for me. Also, way too much drinking and carousing for me. I don't know how Elliot still has a liver the way he drinks. And Janet, well, I would have given her a few slaps for her nasty behavior, thank you very much. Even with these unpalatable elements, I can see where Grossman is going here. He's turning the childhood fantasy series on its ear, and he spins this story deftly for those who enjoy fantasy and the process of experiencing how an author can take these elements and craft a fascinating story that you can sink your teeth into. I just want to see more character evolution than I saw here. I need to see that Quentin is a mature, wiser, more emotionally healthy person for what he's experienced. I'm definitely reading the next book, and I hope I can find it on audiobook again, because this kind of story begs for a skilled narrator like I had the pleasure of listening to with The Magicians....more
Polar Quest was pretty good. This was my first book to read in the Rogue Angel series. Considering that it is #16, I wasn't lost. The idea of Annja be Polar Quest was pretty good. This was my first book to read in the Rogue Angel series. Considering that it is #16, I wasn't lost. The idea of Annja being chosen by Joan of Arc's blade is a nice touch. Thus far, this series reminds me of "Witchblade" meets "Tomb Raider." Since I love both comic book series, that's fine with me.
Annja's likeable. She's pretty intelligent, and knows how to get herself out of a tight fix. She's not invulnerable, and gets hurt quite a bit in this story. I like that she's got a sense of right and wrong, and is willing to put herself in jeopardy to save the day. She can hold her own, which is always great in a heroine!
Garin is an interesting character. Apparently an ongoing antagonist/frenemy of Annja who is constantly trying to seduce her. I like that sort of character who's straddling the wall of bad and good. He reminds me of Vandal Savage from the DC Universe, and Ian Nottingham from "Witchblade." Their flirtation livened up this book. He sounds kind of sexy. I definitely hope to see more of him.
I admit this was a bit slow at times, a lot of talking and dialogue to push the plot along. I guess I was expecting more action. There were some good moments, but I would have liked more. This was more of a suspense story than straight-out action/adventure, which is fine if that's my expectation, but it wasn't. I think this would have been rated higher if there was more action. Even so, it was a good story. I loved the Antarctic setting. Those aspects felt very realistic and well-researched. Believe me, Annja doesn't run around in the book with her boobs hanging out like she is on the book cover. She'd get a nasty case of frostbite with the 50 below weather!
For the things that appealed to me outweighing what didn't appeal, I'm going to round this one up to four stars. ...more