**spoiler alert** Pretty satisfying ending to the series. I don't always like "in the future" afterwords, but I felt like this one gave a very appropr...more**spoiler alert** Pretty satisfying ending to the series. I don't always like "in the future" afterwords, but I felt like this one gave a very appropriate sense of closure. Oh, and a couple of the scenes with Snape - particularly his death - were actually very moving. *small tear* :)(less)
Nicola Griffith is a very good writer. Anyone who can make a compelling, exciting, thoughtful, and award-winning novel about water purification certai...moreNicola Griffith is a very good writer. Anyone who can make a compelling, exciting, thoughtful, and award-winning novel about water purification certainly deserves respect. The other most impressive aspect of this novel is the fact that the narrative is split half-and-half between present and past, with the past written in the third person and the present written in the first person. The author seems to have handled this design effortlessly, despite the fact that it so easily could have ended up as awkward and disjointed.(less)
Ray Bradbury is a very gifted writer. He can play with language in ways that evoke feelings directly, without having to rely on events or content. I m...moreRay Bradbury is a very gifted writer. He can play with language in ways that evoke feelings directly, without having to rely on events or content. I mean that as a compliment, as I think it's an extraordinary feat; however, it does sometimes seem to take the place of objective content at times. It's almost as if he's such a good writer that the actual happenings of his stories don't have to be as evocative as they should be, because he can make up for it by inserting the subjective feelings of the scene directly into the reader by way of his prose. For example, he can write a paragraph describing a conversation in such a way that he can make you feel awed, soothed, or anxious, without necessarily needing to have the actual content of the conversation evoke those feelings in and of itself. I felt the same way while reading Something Wicked This Way Comes, where the sinister and evil feelings were always far more intense than the situations would normally warrant.
This book is wonderful. Bradbury does an extraordinary job of describing the strange horror that can come from intentionally blinding oneself to the sickness in one's life, choosing instead to be amused into submission. It creates a feeling of barely-constrained hysteria, of braying laughter replacing screams, or of seeing a rictus that could mean terror or hilarity. To maintain this nearly insane society censorship is vital, and as a "fireman" - those whose job it is to find and burn illegal books, and apprehend the people who owned them - who starts seeing how dangerous it is to maintain the self-delusion and facade his society has created, the protagonist serves as the perfect representation of the conflicting forces of the need for happiness versus the need for truth.(less)
The sequel (or more correctly "conclusion") to Daemon is entertaining and exciting, but it has two problems that are very common to sequels, particula...moreThe sequel (or more correctly "conclusion") to Daemon is entertaining and exciting, but it has two problems that are very common to sequels, particularly in the sci-fi genre. First, in the process of expanding the scope of the story and showing the consequences of the first story, it loses one of the primary things that made the first book so compelling - the feeling of connection and relatability to the characters. Second, the author moves outside of his area of expertise, and it affects both the believability of the story and the easy flow of the writing.
The Dune saga is a perfect example of the first kind of failure, if that's not too strong of a word. In the original novel Dune, you are personally invested in Paul's story because he is experiencing the same feelings in his situation as you would - being overwhelmed, amazed, excited, repulsed, etc. You create an emotional connection to the character because you recognize in his nature the same things that are in your own. However, by the time you get to the fourth book in the series, God Emperor of Dune, the story has moved to such a level of abstraction and - literally - galactic scope that it becomes difficult to personally care about the outcome.
This book doesn't go to that extreme, but I did end up losing a lot of the emotional connection I had to the first part of the story in Daemon. So much time is spent in trying to explain the nature of the worldwide societal changes that the individuals experiencing them tend to get a bit lost in the shuffle. I appreciate that it is extremely difficult to expand a story to a global scale without losing a feeling of personal connection, but it's not impossible, even for a popular fiction writer; I'd say that Steven King was able to manage it in most, if not all, of his Dark Tower series. Plus, an author should be sure of his ability to chew what he has bitten off, so to speak.
The issue of an author moving too far from his area of expertise is extremely common across all genres. When an author is deeply familiar and passionate about his subject matter, there is a natural feeling to the writing that is very compelling. Daniel Suarez is obviously an expert in the field of computer technology, particularly on the inner workings of corporate level distributed networks and the vulnerabilities of technological homogeneity, and his passion for the subjects comes across clearly and compellingly in the first book, Daemon. He is far less of an expert on psychology and social dynamics, and unfortunately that comes across in the feel of this book. He obviously educated himself on the subjects, and is writing from an informed position, but those aspects of the story feel simplistic. They lack the nuance and subtlety that come from true expertise, and they are the primary focus of this book. While it is laudable to try and push your artistic boundaries, there is something to be said for sticking to your strengths.
I don't want it to sound as if I didn't like this book, because I did. I just don't feel like it lives up to the standard that Mr. Suarez set for himself in the first novel. That said, I can't imagine not reading Freedom after finishing Daemon, and I don't feel disappointed by it as a conclusion to the story, I just feel like it was flawed in very understandable ways.(less)
Not as good as the first one in some ways, better in others. Pretty heavy-handed on the Christian theology connections (although to be fair, he doesn'...moreNot as good as the first one in some ways, better in others. Pretty heavy-handed on the Christian theology connections (although to be fair, he doesn't try to hide that fact), but the ethical/theological debates with "the devil", as he manifests in this novel, are very impressive. There were a couple of obvious logical points that it seemed the protagonist should have brought up, though. I'd be more forgiving, considering the level of debate was so complex and nuanced as it was, but honestly if you're an author of Lewis's caliber and you decide to take on this kind of challenge, you should be required to chew what you've bitten off, so to speak.(less)
I was so looking forward to this book based on the reviews I'd read that I might have expected to be disappointed, but I honestly just didn't care for...moreI was so looking forward to this book based on the reviews I'd read that I might have expected to be disappointed, but I honestly just didn't care for this book. There were many good things about it: it was well written, and the language used was very true to the literature of the time that it was supposed to have taken place; it was obviously very well researched, and slotted nicely into recorded history; and it was certainly a great concept for a novel. At the end of it, though, I felt like there was no point in the book where I honestly cared very much what was happening to the characters. It is possible to write a good book based solely on the strength of the premise or ideas, but it is a very rare thing, and this book certainly did not achieve that end.
That said, I actually think that someone who was enamored of Victorian/pre-Victorian era literature might have enjoyed it much more than I did. I have always had somewhat of a hard time fully engaging with the manner with which writers of that time handled their characters experiences and emotions, which seems to me somewhat detached and stiff even while using bombastic language and overwrought prose. I think this probably served to undermine my appreciation of this book, and I'd be interested to hear what someone who loved the writing of that period would think of this novel.(less)
I re-read this book last month, and I still really liked it. I was somewhat expecting to feel like it was too simple for me now, since I remember bein...moreI re-read this book last month, and I still really liked it. I was somewhat expecting to feel like it was too simple for me now, since I remember being able to fully appreciate it at age 11, but it's one of those books that can be straightforward without being juvenile. Very entertaining. One caveat: much like reading H.P. Lovecraft, one has to read this book in the context of the scientific knowledge of the time; it was published in 1943.(less)
This was actually, honestly, a really good book. I think this is the best this kind of series can get, and I hope this author continues on to write hi...moreThis was actually, honestly, a really good book. I think this is the best this kind of series can get, and I hope this author continues on to write his own original fiction, as he really is a talented storyteller.(less)
The third book on my list (along with The Great Gatsby and The Man who was Thursday) to rise from "good" to "great" on the strength of the final act o...moreThe third book on my list (along with The Great Gatsby and The Man who was Thursday) to rise from "good" to "great" on the strength of the final act of the story. Truly, deeply moving. Helps quite a bit if you know your Bible, some Latin, and literary history, but I can't imagine not having loved it no matter what.(less)
One of the few cases where the movie was much, much better.
If I remember correctly, Arthur C. Clarke wrote this book concurrently but separately from...moreOne of the few cases where the movie was much, much better.
If I remember correctly, Arthur C. Clarke wrote this book concurrently but separately from the collaborative script he wrote with Stanley Kubrick for the movie. This makes perfect sense to me considering the feel of the book: it reads like an author's interpretation of the events of the film. Clarke seems to have wanted to explicitly define objects and events as being part of a clear and cohesive story, where Kubrick chose to portray those same objects and events as pure imagery. In some cases it's ambiguous whether these things are even literal, rather than a kind of visual metaphor.
Anyway, the novel leaves me feeling like I read a somewhat interesting story of ideas and conjecture. The movie, on the other hand, leaves me in awe.(less)
I would have an incredibly hard time giving more than three stars to any Battletech book simply because there's only a certain level of pulpiness that...moreI would have an incredibly hard time giving more than three stars to any Battletech book simply because there's only a certain level of pulpiness that is expected, and actually desired, from books in this vein. They're supposed to focus more on being fun to read than on being highly meaningful and deeply important.
That said, the best books of this sub-genre of entertaining serial sci-fi/fantasy pulp type are the ones that honestly try to tell a dramatic, moving story, rather than those that kind of wallow in their shallowness. Some authors seem to think that because the book is of this type, that they should just write the literary equivalent of a soap opera; albeit a soap opera with giant battle armor and lasers.
This was definitely an example of the way that one of these books should be done. It was literate, intelligent, and engaging, without taking itself too seriously. I was impressed by the conjecture on the ways in which an established culture–in this case Chinese–would or would not be able to evolve and remain relevant over the course of millennia.
The one negative thing I will say is that this book, as with many of its ilk, could really have benefited by having a better editor. I get the feeling that the publisher isn't inclined to use their top talent on these types of books, which I suppose is understandable, but I always find myself wanting to correct things...(less)
My favorite book. I find new subtleties in Neuromancer every time I read it. I think this was one of those cases where an artist created something gre...moreMy favorite book. I find new subtleties in Neuromancer every time I read it. I think this was one of those cases where an artist created something greater than even they were aware of, and will unlikely be able to match ever again. I think William Gibson is a great author, but I don't think he's ever quite recaptured the ineffable élan vital of this work.(less)