This immediately became one of my favorite sci-fi books. It's a prequel to Wool, telling how deceit and abuse of power brought the world to the state...moreThis immediately became one of my favorite sci-fi books. It's a prequel to Wool, telling how deceit and abuse of power brought the world to the state it's in in Wool. It's gripping like Wool, but it's even more bleak, chilling, and sad. The scope is much larger. I enjoyed the gradual revelation of past events. I felt like Donald, of whom the book says, “He was beginning to see it, the entire picture, zooming out of the schematic until the whole was laid bare.”
The sense of morality and consequences is even stronger than in Wool. Several times I thought of the quote, "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."
He certainly has flaws, but for some reason I connected more with Donald than with Juliette in Wool. I thought Jimmy's sections were too many and too long. Like Wool, I found some details far-fetched, such as how long things last in the silos. Overall, though, I liked this book even better than Wool, and I can’t wait to read Dust.
Quotes (view spoiler)[“Donald was verging on the sad realization that humanity had been thrown to the brink of extinction by insane men in positions of power following one another, each thinking the others knew where they were going.” (hide spoiler)]
“Thoughts and memories reluctantly assembled like exhausted soldiers roused from their bunks in the middle of the night and told to form ranks in the freezing rain.”
“It was all according to protocol. The system could be trusted—it was designed to just go. All anyone needed to do was their own job and let others handle the rest.”
(view spoiler)["Donald was reminded of how each silo has a mayor for shaking hands and keeping up appearances, just as the world of before had presidents who came and went. Meanwhile, it was the men in the shadows who wielded the true power, those whose terms had no limits." (hide spoiler)]
(view spoiler)[“It was supposed to be people who died and cultures that lasted. Now it was the other way around.” (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
One of the best sci-fi books I’ve read; a gripping post-apocalyptic dystopian tale filled with mystery, conspiracy, and action. I was intrigued from t...moreOne of the best sci-fi books I’ve read; a gripping post-apocalyptic dystopian tale filled with mystery, conspiracy, and action. I was intrigued from the first chapter, and the revelations of the society’s unknown past and present kept me reading. Its themes include classism, freedom, and the consequences of ideas and actions.
The character development is generally good, but I didn’t connect with any of the protagonists. I liked how Bernard grew in complexity from a seemingly one-dimensional character, as you came to understand his motives and situation. (view spoiler)[I wish the story told more about Holston and Allison. (hide spoiler)]
As a former IT professional, I found the IT department’s role interesting.
Some parts were annoyingly unrealistic. (view spoiler)[I grew tired of Juliette’s close calls with death, and several scenes dragged on; for example, Juliette’s trip to and into Silo 17 (The Unraveling), and Juliette’s underwater ordeal (The Stranded). (hide spoiler)]
Quotes (view spoiler)[“He stuffed a fistful of deadly rounds in his pocket, thinking how each one could end an individual life, and understanding why such things were forbidden. Killing a man should be harder than waving a length of pipe in their direction. It should take long enough for one’s conscience to get in the way.” (hide spoiler)]
“It means we can't change what's already happened, but we can have an impact on what happens next.”
(view spoiler)[“Some men are like a virus. Unless you want to see a plague break out, you inoculate the silo against them. You remove them.”
“And Peter had a decision to make. Was he the final law, or did he owe something to those who put him in place? Did he do what was right, or what was expected of him? It was so easy to do the latter, but Peter Billings was a good man.”(view spoiler)[ (hide spoiler)](hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
I quite enjoyed this selection of Tolkien’s “fairy tales” and poems. Tolkien is one of my favorite authors, and I should have read this book years ago...moreI quite enjoyed this selection of Tolkien’s “fairy tales” and poems. Tolkien is one of my favorite authors, and I should have read this book years ago. I read it because it’s frequently referenced by Corey Olsen, the Tolkien Professor.
Roverandom is a children’s story about a dog who encounters magicians and has adventures on the moon and under the sea. It was too silly for my tastes.
Farmer Giles of Ham is about a simple farmer who finds himself fighting a giant and a dragon with luick and wits. I liked this much more than Roverandom. It read more like a somewhat comical legend.
The Adventures of Tom Bombadil is a collection of 16 poems. Disappointingly, only two feature Tom Bombadil (three, if you count The Stone Toll, which mentions a "Tom"). In The Adventures of Tom Bombadil, Tom encounters Goldberry, Old Man Willow, and a barrow-wight, among others. At the end he catches and marries Goldberry. In Bombadil Goes Boating, Tom encounters hobbits, and he and Farmer Maggot tell each other about events near the Shire. I liked The Hoard, which tells of a treasure that passes from elves to a dwarf to a dragon to a king before being lost and forgotten. Many of Tolkien’s works emphasize the value of the enjoyable things in life (friends, food, song, etc.) over treasure. The Last Ship is about a mortal woman who sees the last elvish ship row towards the Gray Havens on its way to Elvenhome. The Man in the Moon Stayed Up Too Late, The Stone Troll, and Oliphaunt appear in The Lord of the Rings.
Smith of Wooton Major is the tale of a smith who on several occasions leaves his village to adventure in Faery. The villagers don’t believe in Faery; they’re oblivious to the influence of its inhabitants and their “magic.” They laugh at Faery as something silly and childish. This was my favorite part of this book; it read like a fairy tale.
Leaf by Niggle is an allegory about the process of creating, the wise use of time, life, death, afterlife, and God’s grace. One can see many of Tolkien’s attributes in Niggle. I really enjoyed it.
On Fairy-Stories is Tolkien’s essay on reading, evaluating, and writing fairy stories. It was fairly interesting.
Tolkien believes that children shouldn’t be spared the “gruesome” aspects or “horror” of fairy stories, “unless they are spared the whole story until their digestions are stronger.” He says, “...in my opinion fairy-stories should not be specially associated with children.” He says, “If fairy-story as a kind is worth reading at all it is worthy to be written for and read by adults. They will, of course, put more in and get more out than children can.”
Tolkien presents his idea of eucatastrophe: "the joy of the happy ending: or more correctly of the good catastrophe, the sudden joyous 'turn' (for there is no true end to any fairy-tale)."
Tolkien says that even with the option of reading science, people still like fairy-stories because “there is a part of man which is not ‘Nature’, and which therefore is not obliged to study it, and is, in fact, wholly unsatisfied by it.”
Quotes Roverandom “Motor after motor racketed by… all making all speed (and all dust and all smell) to somewhere. [Rover grumbled] as he coughed and choked; and his feet got tired on the hard, gloomy, black roads. So he turned into the fields, and had many mild adventures of the bird and rabbit sort in an aimless kind of way.” - Narrator
Farmer Giles of Ham “The time was not one of hurry or bustle. But bustle has very little to do with business. Men did their work without it; and they got through a deal both of work and of talk.” - Narrator
Smith of Wooton Major “Do not be grieved for me, Starbrow. Nor too much ashamed of your own folk. Better a little doll, maybe, than no memory of Faery at all.” - The Queen of Faery, to Smith, referring to the dancing figure placed on the Great Cake at the Children’s Feast.
Leaf by Niggle “Things might have been different, but they could not have been better.” - Niggle, to Parish.
On Fairy-Stories “The realm of fairy-story is wide and deep and high and filled with many things:... shoreless seas and stars uncounted; beauty that is an enchantment, and an ever-present peril; both joy and sorrow as sharp as swords.”
“A ‘fairy-story’ is one which touches on or uses Faerie… Faerie itself may perhaps most nearly be translated by Magic — but it is magic of a peculiar mood and power, at the furthest pole from the vulgar devices of the laborious, scientific, magician. There is one proviso: if there is any satire present in the tale, one thing must not be made fun of, the magic itself. That must in that story be taken seriously, neither laughed at nor explained away.”
“The Birth of Christ is the eucatastrophe of Man's history.” “There is no tale ever told that men would rather find was true, and none which so many sceptical men have accepted as true on its own merits. For the Art of it has the supremely convincing tone of Primary Art, that is, of Creation. To reject it leads either to sadness or to wrath.” “The Christian joy… is preeminently (infinitely, if our capacity were not finite) high and joyous. But this story is supreme; and it is true.” (less)
The stories in this book are average as Sherlock Holmes stories go. Overall, the mysteries and their investigations and solutions are entertaining. Th...moreThe stories in this book are average as Sherlock Holmes stories go. Overall, the mysteries and their investigations and solutions are entertaining. The book is long; 12 stories that take 10.3 hours in audio.
Notes & Quotes Adventure 1: "A Scandal in Bohemia" Holmes learns to respect women when he's outsmarted by a woman. "And that was how...the best plans of Mr. Sherlock Holmes were beaten by a woman's wit. He used to make merry over the cleverness of women, but I have not heard him do it of late."
Adventure 2: "The Red-Headed League" "You did, Doctor, but none the less you must come round to my view, for otherwise I shall keep on piling fact upon fact on you until your reason breaks down under them and acknowledges me to be right." - Holmes
Adventure 4: "The Boscombe Valley Mystery" Holmes, to a murderer who will soon die: "You are yourself aware that you will soon have to answer for your deed at a higher court than the Assizes."
Adventure 8: "The Adventure of the Speckled Band" "It's a wicked world, and when a clever man turns his brains to crime it is the worst of all." - Holmes
Adventure 10: "The Adventure of the Noble Bachelor" "This looks like one of those unwelcome social summonses which call upon a man either to be bored or to lie." - Holmes Holmes, to an American: "It is always a joy to meet an American, Mr. Moulton, for I am one of those who believe that the folly of a monarch and the blundering of a minister in far-gone years will not prevent our children from being some day citizens of the same world-wide country under a flag which shall be a quartering of the Union Jack with the Stars and Stripes."
Adventure 12: "The Adventure of the Copper Beeches" "Data! Data! Data!" he [Holmes] cried impatiently. "I can't make bricks without clay."(less)
This is a popular book, so I know I'm "supposed" to like it, but I didn't. I almost gave up out of disinterest several times between pages 60 and 100,...moreThis is a popular book, so I know I'm "supposed" to like it, but I didn't. I almost gave up out of disinterest several times between pages 60 and 100, but kept going. It got slightly more interesting near the end, but I never really cared about the plot or any characters.
I like some mystery, but too much about the people, events, locations, and history were left unexplained. You get glimpses and hints, but too much is left to inference and speculation.
I noted several areas where it appears that this book influenced the movie The Matrix, including terms such as "matrix", "jack in", "Zion", and similarities in characters and events.
Quotes "Cyberspace. A consensual hallucination experienced daily by billions of legitimate operators, in every nation, by children being taught mathematical concepts... A graphic representation of data abstracted from the banks of every computer in the human system. Unthinkable complexity. Lines of light ranged in the nonspace of the mind, clusters and constellations of data. Like city lights, receding."
"For thousands of years men dreamed of pacts with demons. Only now are such things possible." - Michele, speaking of AI.(less)
I read this 12 years ago, so I don't remember much detail, but I recall liking Clancy's action-packed and realistic storytelling. I'm pretty sure I re...moreI read this 12 years ago, so I don't remember much detail, but I recall liking Clancy's action-packed and realistic storytelling. I'm pretty sure I read this in 2001, around the time of the September 11 terrorist attacks. I read this book because I played the PC game based on it.(less)
I read this 12 years ago, so I don't remember much detail, but I recall liking Clancy's action-packed and realistic storytelling. I also remember liki...moreI read this 12 years ago, so I don't remember much detail, but I recall liking Clancy's action-packed and realistic storytelling. I also remember liking this book much more than the movie.(less)
I enjoyed the first three quarters of the book, but then it became too bizarre for my tastes. It’s also darker than I prefer; several characters are t...moreI enjoyed the first three quarters of the book, but then it became too bizarre for my tastes. It’s also darker than I prefer; several characters are twisted and cruel, and there are a few gruesome injuries and deaths. The novel jumps between three main storylines at different points in humanity's future, each one littered with suspenseful cliffhangers.
I liked the futuristic technology, including the space tech and medical tech, including the genetic modifications. I also liked reading the story of the first ships to leave Earth to colonize another planet. Overall, I didn’t care much for the protagonist.
(view spoiler)[After I while I tired of Tanner/Cahuella/Sky’s identity crisis. As he put it, “Keeping track of these shifting layers of identity and memory was like holding the weave of a complex tapestry in mind.” Although it was an intriguing element to the story, it was so drawn out that it became tedious. The Grubs were also too far-fetched for my tastes. (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
The fantasy quest achieves a much grander scale here than the previous two books in the trilogy (Sheepfarmer's Daughter and Divided Allegiance). It ha...moreThe fantasy quest achieves a much grander scale here than the previous two books in the trilogy (Sheepfarmer's Daughter and Divided Allegiance). It has a more complex and compelling plot, and more action and adventure. The tale involves loyalty, faith, mystery, magic, and clashes of good and evil.
(view spoiler)[After everything she went through in the prior books, I enjoyed seeing Paksenarrion gain powers and confidence. The end seemed somewhat abrupt. (hide spoiler)]
I'm a huge fan of J.R.R. Tolkien, and it's clear from the peoples, cultures, and history in this book that Elizabeth Moon was greatly influenced by Tolkien's Middle-Earth. There are dwarves, orcs, evil spiders, elves, a "magical" elvish Lady living in a forest, gods ranked below a supreme god, magic, a legendary sword, a quest to place a king on a throne, and multi-racial battles against overwhelming odds.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
This book is darker, more mysterious, and more engaging than the first two Sherlock Holmes books. My interest didn't taper off as it did with those (A...moreThis book is darker, more mysterious, and more engaging than the first two Sherlock Holmes books. My interest didn't taper off as it did with those (A Study in Scarlet and The Sign of Four). The pace does slow down somewhat when Holmes fades into the background for much of the story, and Watson takes the spotlight.
I didn’t find the mystery as compelling as A Study in Scarlet, but Watson’s romantic interest made an interesting subplot. The story shows the consequ...moreI didn’t find the mystery as compelling as A Study in Scarlet, but Watson’s romantic interest made an interesting subplot. The story shows the consequences of greed, deception, and revenge, as well as justice and the value of love over wealth.
The book is certainly a product of its time; I grimaced every time I read one of the racist sentences about “animal” or “bestial” “savages”. Oh, and Holmes does cocaine.
Befitting his character, Holmes is far from a romantic; he tells Watson, "I would not tell them too much. Women are never to be entirely trusted, -- not the best of them." Later, he says to Watson, “But love is an emotional thing, and whatever is emotional is opposed to that true cold reason which I place above all things. I should never marry myself, lest I bias my judgment.”
This murder mystery, the first published story about Sherlock Holmes, isn’t as suspenseful as I had expected. The first part introduces Dr. Watson and...moreThis murder mystery, the first published story about Sherlock Holmes, isn’t as suspenseful as I had expected. The first part introduces Dr. Watson and Sherlock Holmes and tells how they met. Holmes begins as an unknown, eccentric, insightful young man, and quickly proves his abilities to Scotland Yard. I was confused when the second part started, because it jumps from London to Utah, with the Mormons settling Salt Lake City. It took me a while to realize that this story was connected to the first. I’ve always liked Sherlock Holmes, but had never read Doyle’s original works. Now I intend to read others.
I like the line Holmes delivers to Watson: "There’s the scarlet thread of murder running through the colourless skein of life, and our duty is to unravel it, and isolate it, and expose every inch of it."
(view spoiler)[The second story depicts the Mormons as a dangerous cult with a far, murderous reach. I found it more suspenseful than the first story in London. When his betrothed dies after she’s kidnapped by Mormons, Jefferson Hope becomes “determined that [he] should be judge, jury, and executioner all rolled into one.” His obsession with revenge causes him to spend decades pursuing two men through cities and overseas. Even though he dies satisfied with how he’s spent his life, I think he wasted it. (hide spoiler)]
There’s nothing novel here; the characters, places, and plot felt formulaic. I was reminded at many times of Star Wars, The Hobbit (my review), The Lo...moreThere’s nothing novel here; the characters, places, and plot felt formulaic. I was reminded at many times of Star Wars, The Hobbit (my review), The Lord of the Rings (my review), Harry Potter (my review), and other fiction. It contains the usual fantasy fare: magic, elves, dwarves, dragons, swordplay, a quest, and desire for revenge. The vocabulary and plot are relatively simple, but that’s unsurprising because Paolini published it at age 15. The scale is small; more like The Hobbit than The Lord of the Rings. I'm sure I would've liked it more as a teen than at 27.
The character development is decent, and I sympathized with Eragon’s misfortunes. Dragons being forces for good made for an interesting departure from most fantasy. Eragon’s telepathic link with Saphira was entertaining, but was a plot device used too frequently and conveniently. I liked the description of the underground city Tronjheim.
The final battle isn’t described in as much detail as I would’ve liked. The focus is on Eragon’s duel, so the battle felt anticlimactic. The book ends with slight suspense, but probably not enough to make me read the sequel, Eldest.
The audiobook by Listening Library is pretty good, but the way the narrator lowers his voice for Saphira’s lines grated my ears.(less)
This present-day sci-fi thriller is entertaining but too long. The length itself isn't the problem, but the sustained action is fatiguing because ther...moreThis present-day sci-fi thriller is entertaining but too long. The length itself isn't the problem, but the sustained action is fatiguing because there aren't enough calm interludes. I really liked how the chase takes the characters through both the real world and the virtual world of an online video game. I liked this book much more than Anathem (my review), but slightly less than Cryptonomicon (my review).
Stephenson’s detailed and realistic descriptions of people, rooms, landscapes, and activity make it easy to visualize the story. I’m always trying to improve my vocabulary, so I appreciated Stephenson’s wide range of words; I paused countless times to look up definitions.
I didn’t care about most of the characters, but I identified most closely with Richard, a techy entrepreneur. The many references to modern technology (especially websites and web services) seemed forced, and will age quickly. (view spoiler)[ I have little sympathy for real-world hackers who write ransomware and other malware, so I can’t help but wish that Marlon had suffered more. I suppose the entire experience was harrowing to him, but I guess I wanted (subconsciously) more serious and tangible consequences. I did like that he went straight in the end.
I wish Stephenson had wrapped up a couple of T’Rain loose ends. What happened to Richard’s T’Rain character Egdod? What became of the Wor (War of Realignment)? (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
This is my least favorite of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy books (see my reviews). This book wasn't funny or otherwise entertaining; the story...moreThis is my least favorite of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy books (see my reviews). This book wasn't funny or otherwise entertaining; the story fell flat. Like the other Hitchhiker's Guide books, this one mocks religion in general and Christianity in particular, which as a Christian, I didn't appreciate. I liked that Norse mythology was prominently featured in this book; Asgard is one of the settings and Thor and Heimdall play major roles.
This book isn't by Hitchhiker's Guide author Douglas Adams, but it wouldn't be worth reading even if it was.(less)
Gripping, mysterious, fast-paced sci-fi. The human, alien, and computer-simulated characters try to outsmart each other, and I was never completely su...moreGripping, mysterious, fast-paced sci-fi. The human, alien, and computer-simulated characters try to outsmart each other, and I was never completely sure about their loyalties. Several mysteries had me asking, "What just happened?", and there are many cliffhangers. The overarching mystery isn't fully explained until the last few pages of the 476-page book. Disaster escalates until the fittingly bizarre ending that made me want to read the sequel.
I never developed a connection to any of the characters, probably because I was never entirely sure of their intentions. This isn't a book with clear-cut good and evil.
I liked the sci-fi technologies and astronomical aspects of the book. Their seeming "realism" is likely because author Alastair Reynolds holds a Ph.D. in astronomy and works for the European Space Agency.(less)
I liked this one slightly more than The Name of the Wind (my review); it has more action and a wider variety of settings, mostly away from the Univers...moreI liked this one slightly more than The Name of the Wind (my review); it has more action and a wider variety of settings, mostly away from the University. Like the first book, I thought Kvothe was too cocky, and I quickly tired of his incessant habit of getting into and out of trouble. Overall, my thoughts can be summarized by a quote from Kvothe himself, when he says of his story, “it's not a rousing epic meant to stir the blood.”
(view spoiler)[The chapters with Felurian are long, drawn out, and boring. My favorite parts were the unraveling of the conspiracy against Maer Alveron, and Tempi’s explanation of how the Adem show emotion through hand gestures rather than facial expression. (hide spoiler)]
The voice talent in the Brilliance Audio audiobook is amazing.
Quotes “Clothes do not make the man, but you need the proper costume if you want to play the part.” “...nothing in the world is harder than convincing someone of an unfamiliar truth.” “It's the questions we can't answer that teach us the most. They teach us how to think. If you give a man an answer, all he gains is a little fact. But give him a question and he'll look for his own answers.”["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
Kvoth, a mysterious man with hidden powers, tells the adventurous story of his youth. The multi-talented child pursues knowledge, especially knowledge...moreKvoth, a mysterious man with hidden powers, tells the adventurous story of his youth. The multi-talented child pursues knowledge, especially knowledge of “sympathy”, a type of medieval, pseudo-scientific magic. Along the way, Kvoth experiences loss, desires for revenge, the beginnings of love, and both fortune and misfortune. The story’s scale isn’t epic, but does allude to larger forces in the wider world, and foreshadows Kvoth’s future involvement in them.
The story is entertaining, but the pace is too slow for my taste. I would have liked more to happen in this book, rather than simply being hinted at. The characters are well-developed and memorable. Because it’s about students learning magic (among other subjects), parts of it reminded me slightly of Harry Potter, but the story is very different.
A quote from the book: “That’s why stories appeal to us. They give us the clarity and simplicity our real lives lack.”
I listened to the audiobook by Brilliance Audio, and the voice talent is, well, brilliant.(less)
I liked this book better than the prequel, Sheepfarmer's Daughter (my review). This faster-paced story contains more battles and magic, and feels more...moreI liked this book better than the prequel, Sheepfarmer's Daughter (my review). This faster-paced story contains more battles and magic, and feels more like a fantasy quest. It features elves, gnomes, and other creatures that were merely mentioned in Sheepfarmer’s Daughter. Overall, this book is much darker, as Paks confronts evil forces several times. I started to actually care about Paks in this story, which didn’t happen for me with the previous book.
(view spoiler)[ I had too many unanswered questions about Paks’ capture by the Iynisin; I wanted more background info about the Iynisin, the elves, and their cultures. I guess I’ve been spoiled by the richly detailed cultural histories of Tolkien’s Middle-Earth. In the later part of the book, I felt sorry for Paks after she loses her fighting skills and suffers an identity crisis. (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
I knew the original Fairy Tales by the Brothers Grimm were very different than the modern children's versions (especially the Disney renditions), but...moreI knew the original Fairy Tales by the Brothers Grimm were very different than the modern children's versions (especially the Disney renditions), but I wanted to compare firsthand. Unfortunately, I found the fairy tales terribly boring, and my mind frequently wandered while I listened to the audiobook.
The only ones I really paid attention to were the familiar stories, such as Briar Rose (Sleeping Beauty), The Frog Prince, Rapunzel, Hansel and Gretel, Little Red-Cap (Little Red Riding Hood), Tom Thumb, Rumpelstiltskin, and Ashputtel (Cinderella).
My favorite was The Fisherman and his Wife, a tale of the consequences of dissatisfaction, discontent, and hubris. I also liked The Valiant Little Tailor, the story of a simple tailor who outwits his stronger, and more numerous opponents.
The originals are much more gruesome than the modern children's versions; they frequently feature evil plots, dismemberment, and death. Each tale has a moral (or several); they tell of the dangers of pride, arrogance, envy, and discontent, and the value of honesty and loyalty. Justice is a common theme, and good always triumphs over evil.
As you’d expect, the fairy tales are full of kingdoms, heroes, witches, princes and princesses, treasure, and talking animals. Despite the fictional elements, you do get some sense of European life centuries ago.
In a future Chicago, the populace has split into several factions with worldviews and lifestyles that take personality differences to the extreme. The...moreIn a future Chicago, the populace has split into several factions with worldviews and lifestyles that take personality differences to the extreme. The story is written in first-person, present tense, and maintains a good pace. That pace quickens near the action-packed end, and leads to a cliffhanger ending that implores you to read the sequel.
It’s surprisingly violent, and the author isn't afraid to wound or kill characters. The story features themes such as courage, facing fears, free will and independent thought, manipulation and control, the need for community, and loyalty to family and friends. It’s a decent young adult read, but nothing life-altering.
A slow-paced, unexciting preface to the much better sequel, Divided Allegiance. The story never hit full-speed; it's not compelling. There's not enoug...moreA slow-paced, unexciting preface to the much better sequel, Divided Allegiance. The story never hit full-speed; it's not compelling. There's not enough character development, so I didn't care much about them, even Paks. There are a few battles, but the descriptions aren't detailed enough to make them page-turning sections.
I did like the unique perspective of Paks' membership in a mercenary company, which is different than many fantasy books which feature soldiers in traditional armies or independent heroic bands. There are brief mentions and glimpses of the larger world, including elves, dwarves, gnomes, and magic, but this book doesn't explore them. It feels like foreshadowing, as if the story is leading up to more.(less)
I didn't like this book's storyline as much as the first 2 books in the Hitchhiker's Guide series, and there aren't as many memorable characters. It t...moreI didn't like this book's storyline as much as the first 2 books in the Hitchhiker's Guide series, and there aren't as many memorable characters. It takes place on present-day Earth, so there's less sci-fi than the other books, which are set in space and on other worlds. Fortunately, it's still full of Adam's humorous writing, and I laughed at the word play and jabs at Brits and humans in general.
My favorite part was Arthur telling the story about the biscuits in the diner. The subplot about the ignorant rain god was pretty funny, too. The book's ending was anticlimactic.(less)
This compendium includes heroes, villains, and civilians from the Spider-Man comics. It covers Spidey’s comics from 1963 (his first appearance) to 200...moreThis compendium includes heroes, villains, and civilians from the Spider-Man comics. It covers Spidey’s comics from 1963 (his first appearance) to 2000, and features many illustrations and panels from the comics. The text details the bios and origins of the characters, as well as memorable events in the web-slinger’s history.
The book isn’t well-organized; it’s not always clear what order it follows. The pages aren’t laid out well either; there are blocks of text and captions scattered all over, and it’s difficult to tell in which order you’re supposed to read them.
One thing that I knew about Marvel comics, which this book reinforced, is that no story is final; everything’s open to revision. Characters turn out to be other than they claim, people “die” and return to life; and shocking events are later revealed to be illusions or hoaxes. It’s clear from this book that the writers of Spider-Man created increasingly outlandish stories over the years in an attempt to retain readers.
I read this because Spider-Man is my favorite superhero. Most of my Spider-Man knowledge comes from the 1990s cartoon, so I was unfamiliar with several characters and events in this book. It’s worth a read for Spider-Man fans. I also highly recommend Essential Spider-Man (my review).(less)
I had high hopes for this sci-fi classic, but I didn’t like it. The book follows a space colony’s struggle to survive several crises that have been pr...moreI had high hopes for this sci-fi classic, but I didn’t like it. The book follows a space colony’s struggle to survive several crises that have been predicted by psychohistory, a science that enables a certain foresight. The story contains several political and social components, including bribes, alliances, religion, economics, technological superiority, and self-fulfilling prophesies. The premise of psychohistory and the question of determinism is intriguing, but I didn’t care about any of the characters, and didn’t find the storyline compelling.
Here are a couple memorable quotes: Hardin says, “I tried never to let my foresight influence my action, but how can I tell? And what effect will the discrepancy have?”
Another character says, “Now any dogma, based primarily on faith and emotionalism, is a dangerous weapon to use on others, since it is almost impossible to guarantee that the weapon will never be turned on the user.”(less)