A fun, quick little read set in a universe where the modern world has finally grudgingly accepted the existence of the Nevernever, a land where every...moreA fun, quick little read set in a universe where the modern world has finally grudgingly accepted the existence of the Nevernever, a land where every mythological folktale seems to have at least some degree of truth, Storm Front is the first segment of the Dresden Files series. The story follows Harry Dresden, a modern day wizard who mixes old world chivalry with amusingly sloppy detective work and occasional spurts of improvisation. The book itself is not that incredible. Deus ex machinas are present in abundance, and the plot feels as though it was constructed more to introduce the characters and launch the rest of the series forward than to suffice as a standalone work. However, the characters, particularly Harry, are very likeable, and the plot was chock full of style, even if it lacked in substance. If you're jonesing for a wizard fix now that Harry Potter's come to a close, give this overlooked little title a try. It reads fast and perhaps the later books will flesh the details out a little more.(less)
The second episode in the Dresden Files series, Fool Moon was not quite as satisfyingly schlocky as the original. Admittedly, Butcher takes his charac...moreThe second episode in the Dresden Files series, Fool Moon was not quite as satisfyingly schlocky as the original. Admittedly, Butcher takes his characters and throws them into a remarkably tasty twist on the classic tradition of werewolf stories, but his characters grow surprisingly little over the course of the book. Most of the original cast members that weren't blown to smithereens the first time through reprise their roles, but not much changes apart from Harry Dresden now having a shiny new coat, and none of the new characters added in provide much more to the world. It's still not bad fiction, but there are better ways to blow a Saturday.(less)
Though not as quick to grab my attention from the start as Jeff Noon's first novel VURT, Pollen left me no less blown away and grinning halfway throug...moreThough not as quick to grab my attention from the start as Jeff Noon's first novel VURT, Pollen left me no less blown away and grinning halfway through to its happy / unspeakable climax and epilogue. The pace is more controlled, but the eventual fireworks are absolutely worth the wait.
Set in the same nymphomaniac mongrel-blasted world as VURT, but with only the barest of threads tying them together, Pollen is as finely tuned a heap of symbols and dreamworks as you'll find anywhere, especially in the sci-fi genre it stubbornly insists it belongs in. Purity of love, celebration of lust, and validation of life are blasted through with large swatches of Gaiman or Carroll-esque story worship and a tremendously unorthodox willingness toward the gross and gritty, all told via the stylish, lazy dazed writing of a competent British loony. The whole shebang leaves me looking forward to more of the author's work, confident that he's capable of growth even after a knockout like VURT.(less)
A fun enough read, though by no means necessary unless you're curious about the origins of the much-more-entertaining film it later inspired. While I...moreA fun enough read, though by no means necessary unless you're curious about the origins of the much-more-entertaining film it later inspired. While I haven't read terribly much in the film noir, private eye genre, the dialogue and premise seemed kind of forced and hokey. The cast of characters came across as generally 2-dimensional (sorry), and while the protagonist Eddie Valiant's narration was riddled with an appropriately constant stream of hard-boiled hyperbole, about 1 in 3 of them felt unnatural and PC-ized.
In its defense, I found the modern fantasy world the author created interesting enough, but hated how little he actually expanded on it, preferring instead to use it mostly for cheap gags and deus ex machinas. The few attempts made to naturalize the hybrid of humans and 'toons throughout history were too silly to really strike the reader as compelling and too uncomfortable to really come across as goofy. There were definitely laugh-out-loud spots here and there, as well as moments where a sudden piece of the puzzle would drop in your lap and you'd be compelled to keep reading just a little longer, but it's a jerky trip. Nonetheless, there are definitely worse curiosities out there.
P.S. - Bonus points for some of the worst cover art I've ever seen.(less)
Before I begin, as much as I respect Warren Ellis as a writer, if I ever get offered a chance to shake his hand, I will be antibacterializing that ent...moreBefore I begin, as much as I respect Warren Ellis as a writer, if I ever get offered a chance to shake his hand, I will be antibacterializing that entire limb as soon as possible.
Crooked Little Vein is something akin to historical ficton, a neat little collection of the author's anecdotal horrors from his life of spent trolling the dark side of the earth, rearranged with new names and faces into a pleasant little romantic mystery adventure. Conceptually it covers a lot of the same ground as his earlier Transmetropolitan, but now in book form and with a lot less vitriole and a lot more compassion and love for the world. Sort of.
The protagonist in this little deviant runaround is a near-suicidal dead beat detective who makes a living out of a seemingly supernatural knack for being in the grossest, weirdest places at all times. This talent made him a natural candidate for a mission critical to the US government: finding a long-lost secret alternate US Constitution that functioned as a fool-proof pervert purifier. Armed with unlimited resources and a spunky pansexual goth thrillseeker, he journeys forth, experiencing an impressive menagerie of those bizarre things you find on the internet when you turn Google Image's Safe Search feature off.
All in all, the book's message of acceptance, of celebration, of admittance of the fact that we now live in a truly gobalized world with instant access to all knowledge, free of tabboo and hopefully soon free of persecution, is a pretty likeable one. I can get behind the idea, sure. It just comes across with a bit too much optimism (something the author's really not guilty of, generally speaking), the glasses a little too rose-tinted. Call me a dirty cynic, but most people are a bit douchier than this slightly futuristic, all too familiar world seems to project. Or maybe I just need to get over myself and accept everyone a bit more easily, a la our charming antihero. Regardless, the book made me smile often, laugh easily, and I managed to connect now and again with the protagonist just the way the author wanted. Not his best work, but a fun romp to sit down with for an afternoon that'll leave you feeling findy skeevy.(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)
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)
Blacksad arrived on my front porch with little fanfare several days after a drunken Amazon.com splurge which netted me a weird pile of comics with ani...moreBlacksad arrived on my front porch with little fanfare several days after a drunken Amazon.com splurge which netted me a weird pile of comics with animal people in 'em. This is not the most dignified entrance a book which wants me to read it might provide, but eventually I sat down and gave this furry film noir detective short story collection a shot.
Things started off with as everyday a private eye tale as you can get: a gorgeous woman (with kitty ears) lying dead in bed, a single gunshot marring an otherwise perfect face, and the detective John Blacksad, an old lover of hers, hot on a case that's all too personal. The art was immediately top-notch, kind of a Goof Troop-style enhanced with a terrifically un-cartoony level of attention to shading, body language, and facial expressions, so I read on. And on. And on. I was technically on vacation that weekend with a bunch of friends, but the book was more compelling. What I expected would be an anthropomorphic run-of-the-mill Dick Tracey actually packed some seriously aggressive social commentary on '50s America, covering the civil rights movement, McCarthyism, and the Russian nuclear threat. Brilliant character design supplements the occasionally hokey dialogue, and the end result is a comic with plenty to hook you in and make you eager for more.(less)
While Chew: Vol. 2 doesn't really play around terribly much with the series' bizarre premise, and while most characters aren't developed that far beyo...moreWhile Chew: Vol. 2 doesn't really play around terribly much with the series' bizarre premise, and while most characters aren't developed that far beyond were we left off at the end of Vol. 1, it's still a wonderfully-drawn, raucous, grisly, hilarious detective romp that caters to foodies of every stripe.(less)