Although technically a novel, Ishmael is at heart a philosophical work soap-boxing out a scathing critique of some of the most basic tenants of human...moreAlthough technically a novel, Ishmael is at heart a philosophical work soap-boxing out a scathing critique of some of the most basic tenants of human civilization, such as the validity of agriculture as a sustainable food model, the destructive influence of religions which promote humans as exceptional among all animals, and the notion that "primitive" peoples are inherently less satisfied with life than those who live in the civilized world. While I can't say I agree with all of it, and while I think there are a few points upon which the author was sadly naive (referencing the fall of the Soviet Union as a victory for common sense toward a utopian society, for example), overall I like the cut of its jib, even if it could stand to be a bit more liberal with citing sources. It's written in a ham-fisted, un-subtle style well-suited for burgeoning high school thinkers, and I could see myself recommending it as an introduction to critical thought.(less)
A really excellent first salvo from promising new author Zack Parsons, Liminal States starts off as the story of two warring men (Warren Groves, the m...moreA really excellent first salvo from promising new author Zack Parsons, Liminal States starts off as the story of two warring men (Warren Groves, the morally-compromised-yet-iron-willed sherriff, and Gideon Long, conniving son of a dying industrial magnate) before evolving into something much, much larger. Easily one of the most satisfying horror novels I've read, Liminal States playfully refuses to stick to a single genre, swapping tones while simultaneously hitting the reader with scenes of brutality, classic horror, and modern-day anxieties.
The book honestly reminded me of Machine of Death, taking a clever but seemingly simple gimmick and running with it much farther and more effectively than I would've ever expected. If it weren't for an unfortunately weak second act, I'd give this five stars, but as it stands it is still an exceptionally good bit of uncomfortable literature.(less)
It's not John Dies At The End. And that's a good thing, trust me. As good as that opening salvo was, we really didn't need the nefarious Mr. Wong goin...moreIt's not John Dies At The End. And that's a good thing, trust me. As good as that opening salvo was, we really didn't need the nefarious Mr. Wong going that insane again. Instead you have This Book Is Full of Spiders (Seriously, Dude, Don't Touch It), the logical progression to that first mish-mashed slag of Lovecraftian/Kevin Smith-style ultra goremedy, because somehow we managed to salvage some characters and setting and linear plot from that wonderful debacle.
This time around, Wong takes a swing at the currently-impossibly-popular Zombie Horror fad that has consumed the internet for the last half a decade or so, simultaneously lampooning it and nailing all the necessary uncomfortable spots. While significantly less authentically eerie than JDaTE (thank you Jim), it still has some masterful settings that turn the stomach and punch the brain. Overall though it's a more pure-hearted comedy than the first; in spite of a slightly weak opening, I found myself stopping every few minutes for an uncontrollable cackling fit the last 150 pages or so, and that deserves serious praise. Like any good book two of a trilogy, I both look forward to and dread book three for the closure it will bring. If you only read one book about the Satan spiders that live inside your face this year, make it this one.
This review was written primarily so I could use the phrase, "the nefarious Mr. Wong."(less)
While the first two entries in the The Strain series weren't exactly good books, they were at least fun. Del Toro's got a knack for monster design, an...moreWhile the first two entries in the The Strain series weren't exactly good books, they were at least fun. Del Toro's got a knack for monster design, and the series served as an excellent vehicle for that. In spite of the hokey dialogue and action-flick writing quality, my 10-year-old self loved the grotesque ugly bastards.
By The Night Eternal, del Toro's all out of horror ammo. The vampires never manage to do more than occasionally kill off bit characters, and the Master's more concerned with gloaming around his evil lair than doing anything actually impressive. On top of that, the world has essentially ended and it's made everyone so dreary and annoying. The most interesting character went and kamikazed at the end of book 2, and the remaining cast is just generally pretty flat and colorless. There are still some fun spots here and there, but overall I can't say this is worth the read.(less)
I don't think I like Katniss anymore, which is a real shame since she was a pretty nifty protagonist in The Hunger Games. She was believably naive abo...moreI don't think I like Katniss anymore, which is a real shame since she was a pretty nifty protagonist in The Hunger Games. She was believably naive about life and love in spite of her tough-as-nails survivalist upbringing, and by basing the book almost entirely in the Games, we got to see her be bad-ass and sensitive in a perfect ratio that made the book work well enough as popcorn fiction.
No such luck in the sequel. Instead, we're treated to half a book's worth of confused political canoodling and human interest stories in a world where Katniss is no longer just some girl from the slums of the Seam. Instead, due to her bold defiance in book 1, she's now an admired revolutionary, adored by the oppressed and feared by those in power, and all the boys love her and she gets EVEN MORE pretty dresses and the president has determined that she is his ultimate nemesis. The sense of restraint and scale in the first book is long gone, and instead we are given an unpleasantly dense teen girl hero facing off against illogical, irrational, cartoon super-villainy. As much as I like books espousing standing tall in defiance of "the man", Catching Fire's presentation of "the man" as an old albino gentleman named Mr. Snow with blood on his breath and a passion for needlessly starving millions is probably causing more harm than good.
Katniss' passion has somehow turned into incoherent, hysterical whining, but when she finally shuts her dramatic monologue-hole in the second half of the book, at least we're presented with another round of the Hunger Games. A new Dungeons & Dragons arena has been devised, filled with more traps and terrors than ever before, but we've already seen this play and the twists and turns aren't all that unpredictable. There's not enough time to grow attached to the new cast of characters, and the old crew has long since worn out their welcome by this point. I'm certain that I'm not the target audience for this book, but I really hope this isn't the height of young adult fiction today.(less)
The darkest heap of corrupted childhood cartoon memories I've ever come across, Pim and Francie is a tragedy on so many levels. Simply "reading" the s...moreThe darkest heap of corrupted childhood cartoon memories I've ever come across, Pim and Francie is a tragedy on so many levels. Simply "reading" the story gives you nothing but a sense of loss, but even worse, the artist's incredible talent and creativity shines through much of the time but falls back into scribbled-out, barely-penciled, partially-erased jibberish on almost every page. Not always, mind you; some pages he's able to put down what he wants to show in incredibly graphic, unsettling detail. Just most.(less)
I finally think I understand why so many people have told me this is their favorite book in their favorite series of all time. While I don't think I a...moreI finally think I understand why so many people have told me this is their favorite book in their favorite series of all time. While I don't think I agree on that front, it is nonetheless a fantastic example of... whatever genre Stephen King slapped together here. He's matured tremendously as a writer since first introducing us to Roland's dying, bleeding, beautiful world; his characters are no longer transparently two-dimensional and the seams on his Frankenstein's monster of a setting have mended to the point where none of his glaring anachronistic elements clash unnaturally.
This is the kind of book that awakens the high school fantasy geek in people who have long since moved on to meatier fare. This is the kind of book that inspires people who have no place doing so to try their hand at 4,000-page 9-book series about alabaster dragons and blood magicks and unnatural love, probably with some kind of moon cat. And somehow this is also a remarkably well put-together read, filling in a chasm the first three books created and bringing the entire series forward tremendously for it. It's a brilliant read for everyone. If that means you'll have to read the first three books in the series as well, that's okay. I can wait.(less)
A rockier read than The Drawing of the Three, The Waste Lands gets bogged down in exposition and LOST-style weirdness on occasion, but still holds up...moreA rockier read than The Drawing of the Three, The Waste Lands gets bogged down in exposition and LOST-style weirdness on occasion, but still holds up strong as we follow Roland's band of cripples in their investigation of the necropolis of Lud. Respect for the author came and went, but enthusiasm to find out what was on the next page never flagged once I got into the thick of things. Once you've muscled through the first quarter and the flimsy characters, you're in for a treat.(less)
A man gets wrecked by a lobster and has the worst beach party ever with three of New York's craziest assholes.
Part 2 of the Dark Tower series is damn...moreA man gets wrecked by a lobster and has the worst beach party ever with three of New York's craziest assholes.
Part 2 of the Dark Tower series is damn good fantasy sci-fi, studded with gruesome, mind-bending moments and packed with tension and stress. Unfortunately, it's still written by Mr. King, so you'll find certain lines stand out as just brutally awful and awkward, knocking the book out of the running for a five-star rating. Definitely worth the read regardless if you like bizarre, manly fiction.(less)
An angry, gritty, murderous book about a man competing in a game show in which he essentially agrees to be hunted down like a terrorist, with cash pri...moreAn angry, gritty, murderous book about a man competing in a game show in which he essentially agrees to be hunted down like a terrorist, with cash prizes going to next of kin based on how long he survives and how many cops he takes down with him. The world is ugly, poisoned, and chock full of completely unsubtle class struggle. You will almost certainly learn nothing new reading this book. Does that make it a waste of time? Are you better off watching the Schwarzenegger flick of the same name which bears only the vaguest of similarities? Heavens no! It's a greasy, awful fast-food rush of a read, with carefully panicky pacing and all sorts of twists and turns and chases and thrills and things to grumble against that blasted government and them corrupt corporations over. Fun stuff for those antisocial black mood sorta days.
WARNING: The Foreword is written by that sumbitch Stephen King and he SPOILS THE ENDING. It is a clever Foreword and should be read, but not until AFTER reading the book. Should've been an Aftword I guess, but no one reads those...(less)
This is easily one of my favorite things I've read by Ellis to date, and if he'd be willing to keep at it for a while I'd consider giving it the numbe...moreThis is easily one of my favorite things I've read by Ellis to date, and if he'd be willing to keep at it for a while I'd consider giving it the number one spot. As usual with Ellis' work, it's the story of a mundane-yet-capable guy with a heart of gold thrown into a terrifying world full of perverts and evil men; in this case, it's a dishonored police officer transferred to work over the river in Snowtown, a crumbling urban sprawl full of broken people and burdened with an ineffectual government presence. The episodic storytelling makes for a more more intimate and down-to-earth hellhole than most of Ellis' dystopias, and he manages to infuse the whole hopeless mess with an underlying hum of heroes and magic and victory for the good guys. Couple this with Ben Templesmith's inimitable melted-grunge artwork and you end up with a very worthwhile winner.(less)
A middling story of a superhero family of orphans saving the world from gruesome horrors both astral and terrestrial serves as a satisfying backdrop t...moreA middling story of a superhero family of orphans saving the world from gruesome horrors both astral and terrestrial serves as a satisfying backdrop to a pleasantly awkward mashup of dysfunctional family drama, starring a cast of interesting, if not especially likeable, characters. Worth the read at least for the marvelous character design and concept, though the dialogue and satisfying gorey bits have their moments too.(less)