I started the book Friday night and finished it Sunday afternoon and I wasn't reading it on a constant basis. This is not a complex book. It is not un...moreI started the book Friday night and finished it Sunday afternoon and I wasn't reading it on a constant basis. This is not a complex book. It is not unenjoyable either, which I admit is not the highest of praise. If I could sum it up, I'd say it was "1984 meets Sweet Valley High". Like 1984, it's the story of people living under an oppressive government that they're not out to overthrow, but they're just trying to survive and find a little happiness for themselves. Like Sweet Valley High, well, I don't know since I never read any of them, but if I were to guess they'd be pull of lots of teen angst over relationships and who likes whom and so on.
From the start, the book reads like a TV or movie script, probably because of Collins' background in TV writing and because it's written in 3 acts. At first, I was aggravated at Katniss for being so clueless that she couldn't see what I saw the first time her co-protagonist was introduced, then I wondered if Collins' did it intentionally in order to give the reader an (inflated) sense of omniscience. Or was it because the heroine needed a tragic flaw in order to humanize her? I did find myself liking this anti-hero in any case and the character of Katniss herself is 2 of the 3 stars I give the book. She comes across as fully formed and fleshed out, as opposed to most of the supporting cast who seemed rather flat.
I was often annoyed at Collins' use of the first person present for the narrative. Is Katniss narrating the story in her head as she experiences it? It felt even stranger when the narrator was actually using the past tense to present an event in the past. I was also annoyed at Collins' cop-out with the "rule change" in the Game, which removed the real difficult moral choice facing the characters. It would make an amazing character study in how they choose. But even with the way Collins' resolved it, one the rule change was introduced it watered down that eventual moment completely. I had no doubt of how it would end.
As for the plot itself, it was of course derivative of the 1980s movie "The Running Man" (and my film geek friends mention another one as well called "Battle Royal"). Not to mention the very obvious connections to the Roman Empire, with the names ("Claudius", "Cato") and gladiatorial combat. I guess what I never got past is that it's essentially about adults using children killing children as a form of entertainment. It's so viscerally wrong, I'm not sure if it's ever sufficiently portrayed as being that wrong. I mean if it were adults being thrown into the situation, it would be wrong, but that it's children is just so much more horrifically worse. I have a hard time believing the Districts wouldn't rather be destroyed than allow such barbarity against the children continue.
What is good about the book is the action sequences. Collins gives us very good set pieces and action elements that draw the reader in from one moment to the next, wondering
I will read the second book in the series and probably the third, but I don't know if my estimation of the series will rise above this. It's interesting and enjoyable as an action novel. I don't think it qualifies as teen fiction.(less)
The whole book had the whole "second book of a trilogy" feeling to it, where everything is being set up for resolution in another book. The previous t...moreThe whole book had the whole "second book of a trilogy" feeling to it, where everything is being set up for resolution in another book. The previous two books in the series really advanced the story at a rapid pace, so Tears of the Sun was a bit jarring in how little it actually moved forward. In fact, it felt more like Stirling was going back to fill in various plot holes and tie up loose threads.
That's not to say that there aren't big things that happen. In fact, there are some very big events that occur. Very significant to the major characters. I would say that this is a book that explores the characters more than advances a particular plot.
One thing to keep in mind is that Stirling engages in his trademark non-linear storytelling, where the chapters jump around to focus on different people in different places, sometimes a year or more before or after the events of the previous chapter. It can be disconcerting if you're not paying attention. By the eighth book in the Emberverse series, you better be paying attention to have got this far.
So "Tears of the Sun" may not be my favorite book of the series, but it's still worthwhile, especially to see where Stirling is going and as the set up for what promises to be an epic conclusion to the tale, worthy of the massive buildup we've seen. I just hope we get some real answers to the overarching mysteries in the end.(less)
Like Aubrey-Maturin in space. I like it. I also like that author is building in a wider mythology so that the series doesn't end if/when the lost flee...moreLike Aubrey-Maturin in space. I like it. I also like that author is building in a wider mythology so that the series doesn't end if/when the lost fleet isn't lost any more. It's good rollicking naval battles with good conflict and not too much suspension of disbelief. (less)
It's not what happened, but it's what *could* have happened. The book accomplishes all that a piece of Christian fiction could hope for, which is to d...moreIt's not what happened, but it's what *could* have happened. The book accomplishes all that a piece of Christian fiction could hope for, which is to draw me closer to the Lord and to a desire for the sacraments. Great reading for Holy Week. (less)
A good guide to going paperless. I've already been scanning as much as possible using a document scanner and various software tools for more than a ye...moreA good guide to going paperless. I've already been scanning as much as possible using a document scanner and various software tools for more than a year, but this guide helped me refine my workflow and settle in my mind how I should be doing this. Would be an excellent resource for anyone looking for go paperless in their office, whether at home or at work.(less)
If you've read any Star Wars novels, then you recognize the name of Michael Stackpole, one of the best of the stable of those authors. But that's not...moreIf you've read any Star Wars novels, then you recognize the name of Michael Stackpole, one of the best of the stable of those authors. But that's not the whole of what he's written. He has many novels in both fantasy and scifi genres.
But Talion:Revenant is unique in that not only was it the first book he ever wrote, it has never been published. At least not in the traditional sense. Last year, Stackpole brought the book out of his archives, polished it up, and started selling it on his website (and through the regular ebook stores). Partly, he wanted to prove that good authors producing self-published ebooks can make a good living, but also so that this story could live. And if the book sells 5,000 copies, he's promised a sequel. More than 1,200 have sold so far, and I have to imagine there are 3,800 people out there who don't want another sparkly vampire book.
The world of the Talion is quite imaginative, in fact. I enjoy the interplay of justice with the concepts of mercy and honor as characters struggle between the need for the law to earn both deterrence and respect. Characters struggle within and without and while the book is not perfect--some of the plotting is a bit thin and races along a little too fast and some of the characters are a little flat--it's quite enjoyable. In fact, there's a bit of a Harry Potter feel at times (remember, this was a long time before Hogwarts was even conceived), a little bit of Ender's Game, but on the whole, quite original.
At the least it's worth $5 to see Stackpole revisit the world of the Shattered Empire after 25 years of honing his craft and see what he produces today. If you like Tolkien or Guy Gavriel Kay or Terry Brooks, you'll enjoy Talion: Revenant.(less)