Can we talk about how annoying it is that if I want to re-read a book, I have to add a new edition to have it count toward my yearly goal? There's somCan we talk about how annoying it is that if I want to re-read a book, I have to add a new edition to have it count toward my yearly goal? There's something really weird/obnoxious about the fact that you can have only one set of reading dates per book. Le sigh.
So I couldn't remember what it was that bugged me about this book, which is a large part of the reason I re-read it before reading the sequel.
Madrigal. Right. Ugh.
(view spoiler)[Because the thing is, Madrigal is fine. She's fine, whatever. But I just spent an entire book falling in love with Karou, who is awesome. What we've seen of Madrigal has been somewhat...less so. I mean, in fairness, the parts with her in them were flash-backs telling a singular story so maybe the awesome parts got left out. Karou, on the other hand, was awesome basically from page one. I like Karou, want her to BE Karou, not Madrigal or some weird Karou/Madrigal hybrid. I thought we'd seen more of her post-memory dump and had noticed some sort of change, but there were only a couple of pages. So it's totally possible that she'll continue to be awesome and basically the same through the sequels, but it's a thing and it bothers me. Ugh. (hide spoiler)]
Otherwise, love love love.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
Awesome. Brandon Sanderson is quickly making his way to the top of my favorite authors list. All of his ideas are so different and interesting, whichAwesome. Brandon Sanderson is quickly making his way to the top of my favorite authors list. All of his ideas are so different and interesting, which is incredibly refreshing in a genre that can somtimes be a bit...stagnant. Say it with me: "There was once a young boy/girl/hobbit who was more than meets the eye, had untold powers, and was destined for greatness..." Some of my favorites fall into that category, but it's so nice to read something different for a change. I've read almost all of his work, and have yet to find something that I didn't really love.
This novella is something different, even for him. I guess it'd be more Sci-Fi than Fantasy, but I'm having trouble even categorizing it as that since it deals with a Schizophrenic man with hallucinations, rather than any sort of conventional Sci-Fi elements. Hallucinations that talk to him and help him work out problems, and are all brilliant and funny. And they solve crimes! It could have gone to a really goofy place, but he manages to keep it from getting there. Everything seems normal within the context of the story, and all of the hallucinations (that we meet) are fully realized characters with their own distinct personalities. I think my favorite was Tobias, the Schizophrenic hallucination who has Schizophrenic hallucinations of his own, and was wont to spout random bits of historical knowledge at any given opportunity. In my head, he looks like Sidney Poitier.
Random note: I really like that religion is such a dominant theme in Brandon's work (the "case" they solve and the main action of the book revolve around religion). I like that he has a fascination with religions of all kinds, and is able to step aside from his own beliefs to explore that interest. Not many people seem to be able to do that, and as I find religions fascinating as well, I appreciate that he is able to and continues to do so throughout his work.
I'd love to see him write more of this story, but I don't know that I'd want to see it turned into a full-length novel (or more than one). I think it works well as shorter fiction, and I'd like to see it continue in that vein, ala Martin's Dunk and Egg stories. Seeing as he likes to work on little short pieces in between the longer epics, I think that's pretty likely. I'm excited to see where it goes!...more
Ok, but like...if you're going to change the story THAT MUCH, why even bother making a film version?
Loved the premise, loved the story, loved the endiOk, but like...if you're going to change the story THAT MUCH, why even bother making a film version?
Loved the premise, loved the story, loved the ending, very much did not love the dry writing. It actually started to feel a bit like Walden at one point, with the endless discriptions of him doing boring things. The monotony was broken up by brief interludes of CRAZY INTENSITY and then we'd be back to watching Neville cut up garlic. Again. Or obsess over his situation and then drink himself into oblivion. Yet Again. Which, obviously, you're the last guy on earth, what else is there to do but stock up your provisions, reinforce your protections, and drink until you pass out? But still, not very interesting to read repeatedly. Boredom wasn't what I was expecting from a vampire apocalypse novel, especially one this short.
Also, there were some things that were never actually made clear to me.
(view spoiler)[How did Neville know which ones were alive and which were actually dead? And which were the "real" vampires? Were they somehow different from the dead ones? He clearly saw some distinction between the groups, but I never figured it out. Did he only realize which were which after he'd killed them? In which case, how was he to be blamed for his actions? And if they need blood to survive, whether alive or dead, how were ANY of them able to survive without a food source? I suppose the dead ones could eat the live ones, but that couldn't last very long before we were back to the same problem. How could there be any sort of live ones left to even create a society?
As far as the "society"...how the hell did that even happen? Who made their pills? Neville talks about seeing the end come and the last living people die etc, so what? Some scientist survived long enough to make pills to cure people and never told anyone about it? He then waited for everyone to die, found a bunch of vampires, "cured" them, started a society, and Neville never happened across them? Or maybe one of the vampires just pulled himself out of his mindless zombie-like state and...created a damn antidote? IT MAKES ZERO SENSE. I get that it needed to happen to be able to pull off the ending (which was impactful and wonderful and amazing), but why even bother trying to explain it at all? Couldn't Matheson have decided that they just...got better? Why did a pill have to be involved at all? Couldn't the virus have just mutated enough to be able to let them live their quasi-vampiric existence on its own? They still would have hunted down Neville (for hunting them), the ending would have retained it's impact, and it would have made dramatically more sense. Even that requires a significant suspension of disbelief, but I've been reading SF/Fantasy my entire life and I'm pretty willing to go with you so long as your explanation holds up to even a cursory glance. What are we left with here? ~Magic?
(Also, if any of them were plausibly alive and able to rise above his situation to find a cure and thrive, it would have been Ben Cortman. Except...oh right. HE WAS DEAD, and the society made a clear distinction between the dead and themselves, putting all the "poor wretches" down kind of brutally. So Ben was dead, but could still think/talk/plan/etc, but the "live" people were essentially reduced to blood-thirsty zombies with no thought except their next meal, but one of them somehow not only overcame that but also found a lab, created a pill, tested it, cured humanity, created a society...oh. Well ok then. Gotcha. WHATEVER.)
On the subject of the pills... We've established: Robert Neville, last man alive. Got it. So if we make the (considerable) leap that the quasi-living infected have somehow escaped the starving, blood-thirsty dead, ninja-ed themselves some pills partially made from blood to lessen the symptoms, and created a colony of weirdly partially dead sort of humans, it begs the question: where the hell did the blood for the pills come from? Obviously not from the dead or Neville. So the only option is...each other? How is their infected blood going to satiate their hunger or whatever the pills are supposed to do? Even cleansed somehow (which, just, ugh), it doesn't really explain it.
Also, I'm just saying, it took me roughly 60 pages to figure out that Kathy was his daughter, not his wife, since she was mentioned several times before Virginia was and was never given any other context aside from "my Kathy." I get that HE knows his backstory and why would he have to explain it to himself blah blah but you still have to make things clear for your audience. I know that leaving the audience in the dark is also part of the appeal of this kind of story, but would a little distinction be that much to ask for? "Somewhere down there was Kathy, his daughter." There, I fixed it for you. (hide spoiler)]
I realize that these are kind of nit-picky and I can feel people rolling their eyes like "just enjoy the story!" but it's really bizarre to me that Matheson put so much effort into making the science behind the disease seem plausible (and incredibly detailed) but then be like "whatev, it doesn't matter, I'll just wave my magic wand..." about the little things that are important in the long run to the story actually making sense. The more I think about it, the more it bothers me.
All that aside, I actually did really like the story and the ending, urgh, the ending. 5 stars for story...less for execution. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
This wasn't even remotely what I was expecting going in. I had thought it would be spotlighting 12 individual days of horror (the Chicago fire, some oThis wasn't even remotely what I was expecting going in. I had thought it would be spotlighting 12 individual days of horror (the Chicago fire, some of Capone's more notable exploits, major bank heists, etc), not 12 consecutive days in one month, let alone one year. When I realized what it was actually going to be like, I almost passed. I'm glad I didn't, however, because it ended up being really really good. I almost think it's better this way, anyway, showing the (nearly) two weeks of disaster that can come from poor decision making and allowing a multitude of problems to fester. I had assumed that no 12 day span could really be that interesting or relevent, but I was totally wrong. Strikes! Race riots! Kidnapping! Political scheming, fires, mass hysteria that grinds the city to a total halt! There was even a firey blimp crash disastrous enough for a Michael Bay movie. It's also a really insightful look into how these days effected and were effected by the people in charge. William Hale Thompson was a far more influential person than I ever gave him credit for. These days set the stage for everything from Harding's presidential nomination to the Magnificent Mile and Capone's rise to power. We'll never know what kind of a place Chicago and the country would have been without the impact of these events, but it was fascinating to see how they lead to the results they did and how incredibly close we might have been to a totally different present.
No matter how interesting the material, an incredible amount of credit has to be given to Gary Krist for making a fascinating and relatable narrative. Not an easy feat, considering he relied solely on documented facts (constantly, meticulously cited), as opposed to adding imaginative elements or made-up conversations. Those often make for better reads than the frequently dry nature of straight History books, so it was refreshing to see someone be able to pull off both an interesting and yet totally factual account. ...more
This book was beautifully written and the author is ridiculously good at setting mood and tone, but ehhhhhhh. It didn't bother me at all that the charThis book was beautifully written and the author is ridiculously good at setting mood and tone, but ehhhhhhh. It didn't bother me at all that the characters were all pretentious, arrogant, vain, and legitimately terrible people. It became obvious on roughly the third page that that would be the case. The problem was the plot, which seems odd considering I couldn't stop reading it, but there you have it. The first half was brilliant, the second half...significantly less so. The plotting and pace of the first half struck just the right balance, the second half was, honestly, kind of a train wreck. I kept waiting and hoping for her to bring it back together, that the literally hundreds of pages of pointless interludes would actually end up mattering. No dice. You know you're in trouble when, at the end if the book, the narrator says "well, I guess all that's left is to tell you what happened to everyone else..." and then spends several pages telling you about people you didn't remotely care about. I still don't really understand how she managed to take such an interesting and evocative story and grind it so far into the ground. It's a shame, too, because it could have been something really wonderful....more
Strange, sweet, and totally adorable. I'm a sucker for fairytales/fairytale retellings (hello, my name is Rebecca and I was raised on All Things DisneStrange, sweet, and totally adorable. I'm a sucker for fairytales/fairytale retellings (hello, my name is Rebecca and I was raised on All Things Disney...), so I was really excited about this book. Honestly, it had me from the opening line: "My name is Sunday Woodcutter, and I am doomed to a happy life." Hook, line, sinker. I loved the way it interwove the different fairytales (very Into the Woods-y) and created plenty of new ones, and I especially loved that underneath the fairytales it had some genuinely interesting things to say about family dynamics, power and corruption, and the notion of destiny. I could see it putting people off, but I mostly found it charmingly bizarre. I would imagine your enjoyment of the book directly correlates to how fond you are of whimsy.
Oh, and her crazy family was the best thing about the book, obviously. They could all warrant their own stories, especially Thursday the Pirate Queen because homegirl is FIERCE....more
I'm hovering somewhere between 3 and 4 stars on this, so I guess it's a solid 3.5. Overall, I enjoyed it, but it had some definite pacing/editing issuI'm hovering somewhere between 3 and 4 stars on this, so I guess it's a solid 3.5. Overall, I enjoyed it, but it had some definite pacing/editing issues. It could easily have been at least 200 pages shorter, and would have been a better novel for it. You figure out fairly early on where everything is headed, but it takes 500+ pages of meandering to get there. Instead of a tense climax and big payoff once you do get there, the pacing slows way down and stalls out for another 50+ pages. Someone somewhere along the line needed to help him fix that.
There were also significant problems with clarity. When creating 100 years of alternate history, it needs to be explained clearly, especially because it informs so much of the "present." In a novel 750 pages in length, there's really no excuse for having things be that ambiguous. Frankly, even creating a timeline for an appendix section a reader could refer to would have helped out a lot. I'm honestly still not exactly sure what actually happened in that timeline or when the events I do have a grasp on occured.
I could see people having a problem being connected to and caring about the characters. I liked most of them, but I only had an attachment to a few. Patricia Malcolm seemed totally pointless for most of the book, and a lot of things surrounding her felt forced. I think maybe if there hadn't been quite so many characters, they could have been better developed and made more of an impact, instead of most of them getting lost in the crowd. Even Kennedy, who would probably be considered the "hero" of the story, wasn't incredibly well developed and only occupied a fraction of the overall screen-time.
All that aside, I did like the book. It was a really interesting premise and I think he executed it fairly well, problems aside. I loved the first 65 pages, but I feel like the rest of the book failed to live up to them (though I did basically like how the whole thing was resolved). The author does have some really interesting ideas and I'd read something else by him, with the hope that as he continues he's able to fix some of the issues that take away from his work....more
...I don't even begin to know how to feel about that ending. I can't decide if it was incredibly clever or a massive cop-out. I think it could have be...I don't even begin to know how to feel about that ending. I can't decide if it was incredibly clever or a massive cop-out. I think it could have been really interesting if handled better, where if you looked back you could see the pieces come together. As it was, the whole thing came completely out of left field and I just had to roll my eyes and laugh. The book was ok overall, with the driving force being finding out what the hell was happening. Once you find out, though, it's unbelievably random in about a hundred different ways and it seemed like it was done that way just for shock value. Maybe a better book could have pulled off that ending, but it didn't really work for me here....more
**spoiler alert** I'm not totally sure why, but for some reason I had the impression this was going to be a zombie book. It ended up just being an apo**spoiler alert** I'm not totally sure why, but for some reason I had the impression this was going to be a zombie book. It ended up just being an apocalyptic disease book, which is fine, but I think I thought the disease was going to morph itself into zombie crazyness at some point, which it didn't. I hate spoilers so I usually avoid reading any info on a book after I've decided I want to read it, but I kind of wish I'd gotten that particular memo.
I have this weird sort of obsession with apocalyptic books/movies. It doesn't really matter what the problem is--disease, pollution, famine, war, zombies, whatever--if the world's going to total hell, I'll probably have some interest in it. I think it has something to do with embracing the potential/inevitable. Some day some of this crap is going to go down and I INTEND TO BE PREPARED.
This one was just ok for me. I'm not really sure where it went wrong. The plot almost seemed...pointless? That's not totally fair because obviously the disease and the way it's wiping out this isolated island IS the plot, but it almost didn't matter. If all that's going to happen is that we watch people get sick and die for 300+ pages with no resolution, why even bother? I guess it could end up with a sequel, but I don't really see the point even without a resolution. I think you're supposed to assume that things worked themselves out, which I'm happy enough to do because I don't really care.
Also, I didn't really mind the journal-style narrative, but it robbed the entire thing of absolutely all dramtic tension. Obviously, if you've made it home to write about it, you made it out of the situation just fine. I was actually really hoping for a total mindfuck twist at the end. She had spent the whole journal/book writing to her friend that was going to school off-island, and it would have been kind of awesome it the last entry or so would have been him writing a final send-off to her after having found the journal and the whole town decimated after the danger had passes. I mean, that's totally awful and morbid but if handled well, it could have been a really great ending and it would have given a greater weight and importance to all of the earlier pointlessness. That could easily have upped my rating by at least a star, maybe two depending on how good it was. Ah well, you can't please everybody....more
I really really liked this. I wasn't sure what to expect going in and I'd been back and forth about whether or not I wanted to read it, but it ended uI really really liked this. I wasn't sure what to expect going in and I'd been back and forth about whether or not I wanted to read it, but it ended up being pretty awesome. Totally creepy, dark, weird, and kind of unsettling, but awesome. It reminded me a lot of Shutter Island in that you have no idea what the hell is going on the entire time, with little pieces plinking into place along the way, and then it's all just one big mind fuck. I hate seeing everything coming in a book like this, but things also have to make sense when you look back on it. That's a hard balance to strike, but it worked for me here. My only complaint is that I wish the secondary characters were fleshed out a bit more, but it actually kind of makes narrative sense why they weren't. In the long run, it didn't take anything away from the story and in some ways, you identified with the lead better because of that. Honestly, it's been awhile (too long...) since I've been that engaged in a story and having to finish as fast as possible to know what's happening.