Bone Clocks is an ambitious and intricately-constructed novel, with six sections spanning from 1984 to 2043. Yes, 2043. The first four center around dBone Clocks is an ambitious and intricately-constructed novel, with six sections spanning from 1984 to 2043. Yes, 2043. The first four center around different characters and are used to set up the events of the fifth section, which is where everything comes together. The central character is Holly Sykes, to whom we are first introduced at the beginning as a 16-year-old girl running away from home in Ireland. The rest of the book has connections to her, as well, as we the reader try to make sense of this crazy world she is a part of. She's sort of used as a pawn in a war between two sides of supernatural-like beings: Atemporals, who are immortal through their ability to resurrect, and Anchorites, who use others' souls to remain young. I don't want to give away too much, because it's hard enough for the author to describe let alone me, but it's interesting and worth the effort.
I started this book back in February, and it took me more than five months to finish. That's not to say I didn't enjoy it, because I did, but I got busy with other things, and just didn't have as much time to spend on recreational reading. So don't use that as a factor when deciding whether to read it! This was the second Mitchell book I've read, the other being The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet. A character from that novel is reintroduced, and maybe there are others from his earlier works that I'm not aware of....more
It can be very hard for me to choose a book for vacation reading. I don't won't to read complete fluff, but I also don't want to read anything super h It can be very hard for me to choose a book for vacation reading. I don't won't to read complete fluff, but I also don't want to read anything super heavy or demanding. The Martian had been on my to-read list for a few weeks, and it turned out to be exactly what I wanted for reading with my feet in the pool and a beer (or several) in my hand. Now, that's not to say The Martian is light, but it is suspenseful and I flew through it. The premise, essentially, is that Mark Watney is an astronaut on a mission to Mars when his team encounters a strong storm and evacuates. He is injured during the course of events and left for dead. But he wasn't dead, and now he's stranded with no communications, trying to figure out how to survive and get the hell back to Earth. Of course, astronauts are smart people, and Watney is no exception. A mechanical engineer and botanist, he has the skills and knowledge to extend his survival odds. It's a hugely imaginative novel, but at the same time incredibly logical. Told primarily through a series of logs, there's a lot of science involved, but also so much humor, such as:
“Things are finally going my way. In fact, they’re going great! I have a chance to live after all!” immediately followed by a log entry beginning, “I’m fucked, and I’m gonna die!"
“Plastic might not burn, but anyone who’s played with a balloon know it’s great at building up static charge. Once I do that, I should be able to make a spark just by touching a metal tool. Fun fact: This is exactly how the Apollo 1 crew died. Wish me luck!"
I had no idea what was going to happen to Watney, and had to find out. Whenever the story cut to one of the peripheral characters, I just wanted it to switch back to Watney’s point of view, with his witty quips and foreign—and yet totally human—predicament. There’s a lot of nerdy math and science (he is an engineer, after all), but you just have to run with it and see what happens. I definitely recommend this to anyone looking for something unique, quick and completely entertaining....more
I’m going to preface this by saying I’m going to waste as little time and effort as possible thinking and writing about this book, The Night Circus. II’m going to preface this by saying I’m going to waste as little time and effort as possible thinking and writing about this book, The Night Circus. If you are at all excited about this book, you probably shouldn’t read what I have to say about it. If you are hesitant about reading it, I hope you learn from my mistake.
I was really excited about this book. I even referred it to friends before I bought it, because I was so sure I’d love it. It had tons of glowing reviews, was set during my favorite period to read about, and had a unique premise: During the late 1800s, two magicians (Marco and Celia) are trained all their lives to square off in a duel within a magical circus, Le Cirque de Rêves, which is only open at night. If that was what actually happened in this book, it would have been somewhat exciting. What it ended up being is a drawn out, completely cheesy bore. (I literally fell asleep reading it multiple times.) There is no face-to-face battle between these two magicians, and instead they work for years and years (did I mention YEARS?) passively one-upping each other in a game no one understands. In fact, they collaborate on several tents within the circus, building elements expressly for the other person. Yet it’s somehow supposed to be a fight to the death? But there are no consequences for not actually competing? Throughout the whole book, I got the feeling that the author had no idea what was going on or how to explain it. For example, Celia can heal herself, but not other people. Marco can keep people from aging, but no one ever notices, even “rêveurs” who follow the circus for years. There’s a lot more, but it makes me annoyed just to think about it.
Predictably, Marco and Celia soon fall inexplicably in love. The impossibility of it all made me want to throw my Kindle across the room, but all I could do was highlight a passage and write the note “BARF”:
“Marco lifts his hand to brush a stray curl away from Celia’s face, tucking it behind her ear and stroking her cheek with his fingertips. Her eyelids flutter closed and the rose petals around their feet begin to stir. … The air between them is electric as he leans in, gently brushing his lips against her neck. In the next room, the guests complain about the sudden increase in temperature.”
Are you kidding me? Did someone really write that and think it was a good idea? What kind of Harlequin Romance fantasy is she trying to fulfill, and is it is necessary to impose it on the rest of us? The love story between these two characters is absolutely one of the most contrived and ridiculous things I’ve ever read. Dare I say it was worse than Twilight?
What I don’t understand is how this book could possibly have a rating of 4.18 on Goodreads, with more than two thousand 5-star ratings. Did we read the same thing? How is my opinion so disparate from 95 percent of the other people who read it? Sure, sure…to each their own. But there is no way I will ever recommend this book to anyone, regardless of their reading tastes.
In summary, I hated it. It took me three weeks to read, solely because I didn’t want to be subjected to it. I hate abandoning books, though, and that’s the only reason I made it all the way through....more
I know that zombies are pretty prevalent in American culture at the moment, but I’m kind of a newbie to this sub-horror genre. I’ve seen exactly one zI know that zombies are pretty prevalent in American culture at the moment, but I’m kind of a newbie to this sub-horror genre. I’ve seen exactly one zombie movie (Zombieland), two episodes of The Walking Dead, and, now, I’ve read one zombie book.
A plague has created “skels” (zombies) across the planet, effectively wiping out most of humanity. The federal government has relocated from Washington D.C. to Buffalo, New York, and is currently clearing an area of Manhattan to be repopulated by the survivors. Unfolding over three days, the novel follows a civilian sweeper, Mark Spitz (which isn’t his real name, but a nickname he earned during an event that is eventually described), as he and the Omega unit search for skels and stragglers, building by building and floor by floor, within the zone. As they work their way through the zone, Mark Spitz recalls the events that led up to the present day: the arrival of the plague, how he survived, and his relationship with another survivor.
Though the book is in third person, the writing was very stream-of-consciousness. The narrative jumps from present day to a memory without warning, and often this was a little hard to follow. I understand that it was structured this way to illustrate the Mark Spitz’s PASD (Post-Apocalyptic Stress Disorder), and that non-linear form is probably what contributes to its reputation as a literary novel, as opposed to a genre novel, but it was still confusing. I’m willing to forgive that, though, as the writing was captivating and quite highlight-able....more
I should probably preface this by saying I’m a bit of a nerd. I’ve been using some sort of the internet for nearly as long as I can remember and I leaI should probably preface this by saying I’m a bit of a nerd. I’ve been using some sort of the internet for nearly as long as I can remember and I learned HTML when I was 10 years old. I often prefer to spend my money on gadgets instead of clothes, and I have a fairly expansive TV on DVD collection, which is growing more and more obsolete. I’ve even played World of Warcraft. So, yeah, Ready Player One was a lot of fun for me to read.
It’s 2044 and the world is…grim. Frankly, it’s a chaotic mess. The ice caps are melting, almost all of the fossil fuels are gone, and civilization is declining fast. There is an escape, though: the OASIS, a free virtual reality that nearly everyone on the planet uses, to do everything from socialize to attend school. In it, possibilities are endless. You can walk on Endor with ewoks, drive Doc Brown’s Delorean, and basically be anyone you want to be—taller, more attractive, or even a different species. Why would anyone prefer the real world to that?
When James Halliday, the creator of this universe, dies, a challenge to all OASIS users is issued:
“Three hidden keys open three secret gates Wherein the errant will be tested for worthy traits And those with the skill to survive these straits Will reach The End where the prize awaits.”
The first to find an Easter egg hidden somewhere within the game will inherit Halliday’s entire estate, including his stake in the company. Our hero, Wade Watts a.k.a. Parzival, quickly becomes one of the many “gunters” (a nickname for the egg hunters), and spends nearly every waking moment studying Halliday to have a better shot at finding the egg’s location. Also competing, however, are an army of “Sixers” employed by ISS, a corporation that wants to takeover the OASIS and commercialize it, and they will lie, cheat, and kill to find the egg first.
This book was kind of like a dystopian version of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory meets Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, but jampacked with 80s and other pop culture references. The combination of these made for a quick, entertaining read. Even though it takes place within a video game, Wade isn’t in it alone. His best friend Aech is also a gunter, and along the way he meets Art3mis, a blogger he’s had a crush on for years. None of them have every met in person, but their relationships seemed just as authentic as if they were communicating offline. I don’t have too many criticisms overall, but I will say that the progression of the book was predictable. I mean, the details were original and I loved the virtual world Cline created, but it seemed like it couldn’t have ended any other way.
I don’t know if the book actually has as much widespread appeal as a lot of people have been saying, though. A lot of the references might get lost on some readers, but fellow nerds and those who love all things pop culture will completely devour it....more
Charles Yu is a time machine repairman in Minor Universe 31 (MU-31), an unfinished universe where, “at the moment work was halted, physics was only 93Charles Yu is a time machine repairman in Minor Universe 31 (MU-31), an unfinished universe where, “at the moment work was halted, physics was only 93 percent installed.” Along with his time machine’s operating system, TAMMY, and Ed, his dog that doesn’t exist, he travels through time helping to keep people from altering their own timelines. At one point, he comes to the aid of Linus Skywalker as he’s trying to kill his father, Luke Skywalker: “You have no idea what it’s like, man. To grow up with the freaking savior of the universe as your dad.”
But most of the novel is centered around Charles’ relationship with his own father, who left him and his mother several years before and subsequently got lost in time. A middle-management worker too long ostracized in a cubicle, Charles’ father spent more energy trying to invent time travel than climbing the corporate ladder. At one point, Charles remembers asking his dad, “Are we poor?” His parents fight about money constantly, and the only time he ever remembers seeing him being happy is when he has a scientific breakthrough. Charles revisits these childhood moments and other, both figuratively and literally, after an event sends him into a time loop.
Just before picking up his time machine from its first repair in 10 years, he sees a future version of himself in the hangar. Though his training tells him to run away, he picks up his gun and shoots the other man in the stomach. Panicking, he jumps into his future self’s time machine and enters the time loop: he shot his future self, so now he must eventually be shot by his past self. In this time machine, however, he finds a book written by his future self: How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe, which is part informational, part autobiography. Now he must write that book himself, and hopefully find his father in the process.
The story is told in a rather stream-of-consciousness style, with some sentences going on for pages. I’m generally okay with that, but because there wasn’t much plot, just a lot of memories and introspectiveness, it got a little stale. That’s not to say it wasn’t good, but I don’t think I could have handled it for another 100 pages, so I’m glad it was short. There were several well-done aspects, like the explanations of the science behind time travel, which were convincing, and the descriptions of his science fictional companions, like his boss:
Phil is an old copy of Microsoft Middle Manager 3.0. His passive-aggressive is set to low. Whoever configured him did me a solid. The only thing, and this isn’t really that big a deal, is that Phil thinks he’s a real person. … Phil has two imaginary kids with his wife. She’s a spreadsheet program and she is a nice lady. Or lady program. She e-mails every year to remind me about his fake birthday. She knows they’re both software, but she’s never told him. I don’t have the heart to tell him either.
But, for the most part, his rambling prose got in the way of what could have been a good story, if it were fleshed out a bit more. I thought it was still worth my time, especially since it didn’t take up much of it, but I guess I had hoped for more....more
And it’s over. Again, I’m not going to say to much about the plot, so I don’t spoil the other two books for anyone who wants to read them, but this onAnd it’s over. Again, I’m not going to say to much about the plot, so I don’t spoil the other two books for anyone who wants to read them, but this one definitely kept up the fast-paced trend of the others. However, it felt like there were a few too many pages of repetitive self-reflection by the narrator, and overall I didn’t think the book was quite as strong as the first one in the trilogy. Of course, I still thought it was wholly interesting story, and I constantly wanted to read just a few more pages. The author took a lot of risks that surprised me, but they worked well in the long run (except the use of an epilogue, which is a technique that I think should be banned)....more
Oh goodness, what have I gotten myself into? I just finished this second book in the Hunger Games trilogy in a little over 24 hours, and I’m about toOh goodness, what have I gotten myself into? I just finished this second book in the Hunger Games trilogy in a little over 24 hours, and I’m about to download the third onto my Kindle. I won’t say anything about the plot of the sequel, because to do so would ruin the first book for people who haven’t read it yet (which I think everyone should), but clearly it was a page-turner, if I finished it this quickly. (I’m normally a very slow reader, which is why I’m not even halfway through the 52 books I wanted to read this year. I didn’t even read any of the Harry Potter books this fast.) I wasn’t sure where the story could possibly go when I first started it, but all of the twists and turns were logical and interesting. I didn’t think it was quite as good as the first book, but it definitely kept my full attention. And how it ended, well, I’m so anxious to see how everything turns out. Bring on Mockingjay!...more
Holy moly, did I read this book fast. And with good reason! My sister recommended the trilogy to me, plus I had seen it mentioned on a blog or two recHoly moly, did I read this book fast. And with good reason! My sister recommended the trilogy to me, plus I had seen it mentioned on a blog or two recently, so I was comfortable ditching The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle for something a wee bit more engaging.
This first book in the series is about Katniss Everdeen, a sixteen-year-old girl living in District 12 of Panem, a country made up of the remnants of North America. Each of the 12 districts specializes in some product that benefits the Capitol, but the people that live there are poor and struggle to eat and survive. Sometime earlier, the districts rose up against the Capitol, but were defeated and have been made to suffer ever since. One of those punishments is an annual competition called The Hunger Games, a literal fight to the death between 24 children (a boy and girl from each district) between the ages of 12 and 18. Whoever hears their name called during the reaping ceremony must represent their district during the Games and try to come out on top. With the cameras running at all times, the televised event is mandatory viewing for all citizens, to remind them of who is in control.
At the reaping for District 12, Katniss’s worst nightmare comes true: the name of her 12-year-old sister, Primrose, is called. Rather than standby and watch her be sent to her certain death, Katniss steps forward and volunteers to take her place. Along with another boy, Peeta, she heads the Games.
I don’t want to spoil anymore, but you should know that this is absolutely one of the best, fast-paced, most engrossing books I’ve read in a LONG time. I started it yesterday morning while sitting at Starbucks, but read almost all of it late last night. The heroine is very well-developed throughout the narrative, coming across as both extremely strong and naive. She (and the circumstances she deals with) actually reminded me a lot of the main character in the Tomorrow, When the War Began series by John Marsden, a young adult series I read a long, long time ago...more
The book, written in 1985, takes place sometime in the future after an alien race, called buggers, has attacked Earth twice. The last attack was 70 yeThe book, written in 1985, takes place sometime in the future after an alien race, called buggers, has attacked Earth twice. The last attack was 70 years earlier, when the buggers were defeated by Mazer Rackham, the greatest soldier the world has ever known. To ensure that humanity survives the next attack, the government is trying to find their next military leader. Andrew “Ender” Wiggin is one such prospect, a boy in a family of geniuses, born because the government hoped he would be the perfect mix of his two siblings: Peter, who is too ruthless, and Valentine, who is too kind. At the age of six, Ender reluctantly leaves Earth for Battle School, where he owns up to the purpose he was born for: to fight the buggers. He and the other children are trained through the use of computer games, and especially the student-led battles between armies, set in zero-gravity. But from the moment he arrives, there are forces behind the scenes that constantly manipulate everything they can, including how Ender is treated by his peers, forcing him to react and adapt. There are bullies and friends, challenges and victories, joys and frustrations—and all the while it’s hard to keep in mind that he is so young. Indeed, sometimes he seems much older than the military leaders who are sure he is the one they’ve been searching for.
This was a great book, and I’m glad I strayed from my regular genre preferences to read it. (This was my first foray into science fiction in a long, long time, unless you count dystopian novels like 1984 and Brave New World.) The book is very character-driven, and I think that’s a big part of why I liked it. I am not really interested in stories with aliens, especially when the plot is just battle after battle. Luckily, that is not the case at all in Ender’s Game, though there is plenty of action to keep things interesting. I’m not sure if I’ll read the sequels (I heard that they kind of go downhill), but this book was interesting and unique enough for me to recommend it to anyone with an appreciation for the genre, or character-based novels in general....more