An excellent start to an excellent series-- this is CLAMP showing off what kind of skill one acquires after twenty years and over twenty series of manAn excellent start to an excellent series-- this is CLAMP showing off what kind of skill one acquires after twenty years and over twenty series of manga under your belt. Just reading those first few pages shows you their power-- not a single word is spoken, but your heart absolutely breaks for the two lovers as they are separated so utterly.
I also have to reccommend this series for anyone aspiring to become a manga artist-- the main character group of Shaoran, Sakura, Kurogane, Fai, and Mokona is quite possibly the most perfect ever created. Every character complements every single other one perfectly, and the group dynamic is both harmonious and dynamic enough to keep you enjoying the arcs/worlds that aren't as interesting to you personally.
Also, CLAMP's utter "stripping down" of their once-insanely-lush art style and their choice to use solid black and white spaces over tones shows us how, in the hands of a master, fancy tricks are not necessary to create beautiful and powerful manga.
These are masters at work, and this--CLAMP's romp through the epic shounen manga genre--is shaping up to be an incredible story with something for everyone....more
Wow, WHAT a fantastic book! Hilarious, hilarious, hilarious--this is the modern thinking man's (and woman's ^^) absolute book of delights! This book hWow, WHAT a fantastic book! Hilarious, hilarious, hilarious--this is the modern thinking man's (and woman's ^^) absolute book of delights! This book had me laughing my head off from page 1 all the way to the end, and it still had room to give us some worthwhile philosophical ideas.
Gaiman and Pratchett are not just masterful writers with fantastic writing styles and wit like you wouldn't believe, the parodic archetypes they take to be their personae dramatis are both so dead-on perfect and hilarious in their stereotypes and STILL manage to take on a life and shape of their own.
So, the story starts off back in the Garden of Eden, the evening after Adam and Eve's Fall. The serpent, Crawly (who, dissatisfied with Adam's creativity, changes his name to Crowley =P) is chatting with the angelic Guardian of the East Gate, Aziraphale, who is fretting over whether it was all right to give away his flaming sword to the wretched human couple as they were herded out of Eden ("well, they looked so cold, and she's expecting already, so..." ^^). Both are wondering if they've done the right (or, in Crowley's case, the wrong) thing and Crowley, musing about why God would put the tree of forbidden fruit directly in the path of the humans if he truly meant them not to partake of it, says joking, "Wouldn't it be funny if we both got it wrong? Maybe I did the *right* thing and you did the *wrong* thing. Wouldn't that be funny?" To which Aziraphale says stiffly, "No, not really."
So begins a centuries-long friendship(ish) between the demon and angel, who are both assigned the same "beat" on earth (England =P). When 1999 rolls around and they are both summoned to do their parts in the ending of the world at the coming of the Antichrist so that Heaven and Hell can have their final duke-out, both decide they like earth and would rather not destroy it, thank you, and do their best to influence the child (whom Lucifer sends to be raised on earth) to be completely neither good nor bad in hopes that this will lead him to call off the war.
Naturally, due to several comedic intervensions like 3 golden-haired babies being born in the same hospital on the same night, Crowley and Aziraphale end up coaching the wrong child, and it's a mad race for everyone to find the real Antichrist (who is, by then, a rambunctious 11-year-old boy in Lower Tadfield, England) by the Judgment Day. Unsurprisingly, madness of the funniest order ensues. :)
I really take my hat off to our sharp-witted authors for managing to present the gray-toned (and, on ocassion, utterly topsy-turvy) moral make-up of all their characters, despite how connoted figures like angels, devils, and the Antichrist are in our minds. They make use of parodic oxymorons enough to put even a narrower-minded reader at ease in accepting the ultimately good (or perhaps, humanly good) actions of certain "diabolical" characters in the end. ^^
As you can probably guess, I loved this book the way I haven't loved a book in years, and I HIGHLY recommend it to all! ::huggles Crowley and Aziraphale to death:: ^____^...more
My goodness... where to begin? I cannot even recall the last time I've read such an incredible book! The characters, the setting, the mystery, the heaMy goodness... where to begin? I cannot even recall the last time I've read such an incredible book! The characters, the setting, the mystery, the heartbreak, the laugh-out-loud hilarity, the profundity, the poetry, the plot twists--OH MY GOD THE PLOT TWISTS...!!
And the language...! Writing like you wouldn't believe--so, SO unspeakably beautiful at just the right moments, so cheeky or hair-raising or mysterious or any of the other many, many things demanded of it by this exhilarating story...! Joanne Harris is just... a TRUE MASTER of the English language! Her prose is so poetically beautiful, powerful, lush, in-command--and without ONCE becoming tiresome or belabored! The words just draw you in and carry you away without a moment's pause.
Part of that compelling force is thanks to her FANTASTIC characters, no doubt! The two main characters who "face off" in this amazing and thrilling battle of wits are so different and yet so truly and beautifully drawn... There is no blatant announcement that the story will be told by two narrators and no clear label (beyond the chess pieces--Black Pawn and White King--that appear at the beginning of each chapter, though I missed their identifying significance until much later in the book), but from within the first few words of a chapter, you know immediately who is speaking. It isn't so much that they speak idiosyncratically or have extremely distinct speaking levels/accents/etc (in fact, both being highly literate and well-spoken and tending toward black humor, you would think they'd be very hard to tell apart).
But no--the voice of these two characters--the dangerously bright, sardonic, charismatically arrogant young avenger who comes to bring down the prestigious St. Oswald's Boys' School (Black Pawn) and the cheerfully cultured, dryly witty, consciously old-fogeyish sixty-something senior teacher Roy Straitly (White King) who is trying to save the school--are so solidly formed in their personalities, speech, thoughts, witticisms, etc, that it TRULY is as though these two distinct and very real people exist and are simply pulling you back and forth to continue the conversation you'd been having one-on-one with each of them. It's just amazing... a marvel...
And best of all, even more than all this amazing skill and character-crafting and all... the style is so charming and engaging; you fly through the story and absorb every, single word because every word, as I said, is PERFECT and just where and what you expect of it. Like poetry. So clean that when a rule is broken, when something unexpected is thrown in like a wrench into the gears (and MY GOODNESS there are some UNBELIEVABLE wrenches in there), they hit you as hard as Harris intended them to hit you.
The plot twists, as any and all reviews about this book will gush about, are just--unbelievable. I'm so, so tempted to tell you about how clever it all was--so very, VERY clever--but I couldn't spoil such a delicious experience for you all. Please do yourself a favor and open this book. From there, its own power will instantly ensnare you and sail you along through this driven, powerful, profound, moving and wildly entertaining story until you are left standing at the end with your head full of boys' schools and bell towers and teachers' lounge politics and vengeance and murder and the wild abandon of adolescent love, not believing you devoured the entire book and the huge, huge story it contains in the space of a single day...
I cannot recommend this book enough. Whether you're a fan of the finest literary fiction, or the most purely-for-entertainment mystery/suspense/thriller books, or school stories, or England, or avengers, or hilarious old fogeys or the most breath-taking plot twists ever heard--READ THIS BOOK. It's nothing short of a marvel....more
As with everything she writes, Ursula Le Guin has crafted some rich, beautiful and somewhat sad (though never depressing) characters and set them in aAs with everything she writes, Ursula Le Guin has crafted some rich, beautiful and somewhat sad (though never depressing) characters and set them in a world of wildest intrigue. Renowned for her "social/anthropological experimentation" in her sci-fi novels, Le Guin sets this novel on earth in Portland, OR, to be exact) and gives us a dystopian future novel that is so imaginative and fascinating that it feels we are on another world by the end of it (aliens do, in fact, visit earth briefly). As wacky as that and the premise of the book--what happens if whatever you dream becomes reality?--it is not a wacky or funny story, and is all the more stirring and endearing for it.
Our reluctant protagonist, George Orr, is a quiet, unassuming man who starts out very much as a victim. A mysterious and terrible past/true reality is hinted at the very beginning, but we first come to rest in a slightly and predictably dystopian future where overpopulation, pollution and all the things that are bound to happen in fifty years' time have happened. George is caught taking illegal doses of a dream-suppressing drug and sent to see a state shrink as punishment. In actuality, all George wants is to keep from dreaming so that he won't end up accidentally changing the world in a terrible way while sleeping, but his psychiatrist--a robust and arrogant but unusually well-meaning alpha male type--decides that he wants to use George's power to change the world for the better--whether George consents to it or not! As the good doctor's hypnosis-induced dreaming forces him to dream away world problems (and inadvertently, five-sixths of the world's population), George must find a way to escape his mad benefactor and somehow make reality right again.
A fascinating tale told by one of the most brilliant authors in fiction today--definitely worth reading!...more
Wow...this is like a perfect first novel. Well, except it Benioff's second, but still--the plot is so tight, the threads and motifs closed roundly butWow...this is like a perfect first novel. Well, except it Benioff's second, but still--the plot is so tight, the threads and motifs closed roundly but without seeming at all contrived, the characters few and familiar but utterly endearing and believable... You can't not love this book. It's simply perfect. And the charm of the writing and the unusual setting/situation that this coming-of-age tale is set against really make it an enjoyable and enriching read.
Sure you know from the start how certain things are going to end (it's that kind of story, after all), but Benioff is aware of all that and manages to keep you engrossed and refreshed with little idiosyncratic touches here and there anyway.
In fact, what I really love about the ending is that Benioff DID go with the story the way you know it's going to go, but he did the execution of it very well--very readable even for a very literary audience. So we literature fiends are able to enjoy that bit of unfashionably "feel-good" closure you get from a young adult novel or an old-school genre fiction novel, but without any type of gag reflex kicking in as it would have in the hands of a less capable author. Great book--buddy narratives are always tons of fun (especially in a life-or-death adventure like this, and with the occasional company of a truly kickass, non-slut female character :D).
Highly recommended to everyone, whether you're a fan of literary fiction, war stories or neither. :)...more
Fantastic book--such imagination! This world feels so solid and real, with countries and armed forces integrating dragon corps back during the NapoleaFantastic book--such imagination! This world feels so solid and real, with countries and armed forces integrating dragon corps back during the Napoleanic Wars. It definitely has the feeling of an Age of Sail novel (Horatio Hornblower, etc), but it isn't the same old thing because we're exploring this new world of dragons, the British Aerial Corps, etc--and of course, the fascinating and fun character of Temeraire, our titular dragon. Great adventure story with solid, well-paced writing and very memorable and likable characters. ...more
This is a phenomenal book, both for writers and non-writers (though the former get a heckuva lot of solid, useful advice and re-inspiration to pursueThis is a phenomenal book, both for writers and non-writers (though the former get a heckuva lot of solid, useful advice and re-inspiration to pursue their art!). It starts off with an interesting sketch of King's development/natural growth into becoming a writer, explains the key tools of writing composition very clearly, and ends with a personal (and at times, horribly visceral) account of the life-changing accident that befell King in the middle of writing this book (he was hit by a van while out for a walk @_@). So glad he recovered from that horrible ordeal and finished this fantastic book for us. I really feel after 2 years of writing seminars, reading other books on writing and sledging through my own trials and errors with the craft, that King's book is the most invaluable tool a young writer has to improve/focus their writing and inspire them to keep moving forward. ...more
I LOVED this book. *__* It's been so long since a book engrossed me so much based purely on extremely likable, believable characters and good, old-fasI LOVED this book. *__* It's been so long since a book engrossed me so much based purely on extremely likable, believable characters and good, old-fashioned great storytelling (as opposed to the sorts of suspense-inducing cliffhangers/tricks, etc, that the typical "engrossing" book uses). Gorgeous writing, though I do have one nitpick with how the POV shifts sometimes from paragraph to paragraph between characters, then back again (no section break, etc). It's nice to see all those different characters' thoughts, but each shift jarred me for a second, and that's never a good thing.
Despite that, the story and its characters are so charming and intriguing that you really can't not love them. The almost "Victorian British travelogue"-esque opening and the extreme culture clash between the British (well, "Outlander," as they're called in this alternative world) and the desert-dwelling, magic-wielding Damarians made for some extremely fresh fantasy reading, and the fascinating, extremely different heroine that comes out of such a meeting of contrasting cultures was so much fun to follow. I loved that Harry (our heroine, short of Angharad in Outlander) didn't react to being abducted by a strange, foreign people the way you'd stereotypically expect a nice young British woman to react (she was remarkably calm & rationally decided to keep quiet and not aggravate her captors since she had no realistically possible way of escaping them and making it back across the desert--totally not how the soon-to-be-butt-kicking warrior heroine of destiny would react in your typical fantasy novel)--and yet, it felt real.
Loved the gradual but well-paced development of Harry's understanding of the Damarians, their language and customs, her warrior skills, etc. It all rang very true and I loved every moment of this adventure. It truly is the perfect "heroine's tale," in my opinion. There was a wonderful, believable romance, but it never overtook the story of Harry's development to embrace her grand destiny. And watching Harry develop from a young, somewhat awkward (or at least, feeling out-of-place in the niceties of Victorian women's society) girl to the strong, sure, but always kind hero she transforms into is wonderful to watch and again, felt very believable. I loved this book. Along with Tamora Pierce's "Song of the Lioness" quartet, this is the greatest classic heroine fantasy I've ever read. <3...more
"The Name of the Wind"... wow. What can I possibly say about this monumental book that hasn't been said? It's the debut novel every author dreams of w"The Name of the Wind"... wow. What can I possibly say about this monumental book that hasn't been said? It's the debut novel every author dreams of writing--so original, so sincere, and so rich/mature a voice that a reader can't help but be swept up and away for the 700+ story of one of the most REAL, memorable and sympathetic characters ever written. I was about to add "in fantasy," but that's dealing Kvothe (and Rothfuss) a gross injustice--this novel and that character stand up against any of the best-selling literary novels on the market today. The world may be fictional (and that's a part of the fun--how deeply, viscerally real this "fictional" place is, how well you know it and have familiarized yourself with its customs and conceits by the end), but I have rarely encountered such an intimate and utterly sincere memoir of any person--literary fictional or real--as I did in "The Name of the Wind."
Happily, Kvothe (for all his flaws and all that make him real/human) is extremely likable and bold for reaching out for a heavily entertainment-oriented demographic with such a personal and often times "uncool" gentleness in thought and attitude that is rare to see in a male character in American media today. I was both surprised and pleased that the general public has not only accepted this kind of a character into its heart, but loves him so fiercely that they voted Kvothe the third most popular character in all of SFF on suvudu.com's 2010 Character Cage Match. Not the most scientific of yardsticks, I'm sure, but the outpouring of love and empathy for this character over more typical amoral and/or uber-manly alpha-jerks was very heartening for me to see. If you're looking for a hero that is truly different, real and altogether more heroic than the various supermen that populate typical SFF novels, Kvothe and "The Name of the Wind" are exactly what you've been looking for....more