For some reason this Tom Cruise movie was a blockbuster bust, but it was because of the excellent movie that I wanted to delve into this concept a bitFor some reason this Tom Cruise movie was a blockbuster bust, but it was because of the excellent movie that I wanted to delve into this concept a bit more. After picking up the book, it's clear almost immediately that the film whitewashed the book and that destroys one of the very simple yet profound themes of this book, which I'll get to in a sec.
Keiji Kiriya is a simple Japanese soldier who finds himself in a time loop, experiencing the same couple days and deaths over and over only to wake up in the barracks once more and experience it all again. The war he's in is against an alien race named the "mimics" who are all but unstoppable, until humanity created mechanized suits, "jackets," to be able to deal with them.
And that's pretty simply it. There's some slight exposition about the aliens and the future this world finds itself in, however, it's mostly focused on Keiji and his time loops.
I don't want to spoil anything too much so I'll give this warning first. In an afterword, the author, Hiroshi Sakurazaka, explains that he got the idea for this book from playing video games. You respawn so much throughout the game, you get really good at it. You also get really good at seeing the things that will be coming at you. In the end of the video game, you're praised as a hero, but really you're just an average Joe who had endless amounts of retries so you ended up getting good!
And that's the brilliance of the book. There are no superpowers, unless you count the futuristic jackets and accompanying weapons. It's just an average guy, a novice even, who finds himself in a really crappy Groundhog Day scenario (at least Bill Murray's deaths were of his own volition), and decides to make the best of it by trying to get better every time.
Great concept both in book and movie form and the book's different enough from the movie (or vice versa) to make it worth reading, especially given the 266 pages mmpb. The only real problem is I want more.
When I finished The Lord of the Rings, all I wanted was more Lord of the Rings. And by that, what I mean is that I wanted that feeling I had while reaWhen I finished The Lord of the Rings, all I wanted was more Lord of the Rings. And by that, what I mean is that I wanted that feeling I had while reading LotR, being lost in a world all its own and being so close to characters I considered friends.
That's why I think I get the appeal for The Sword of Shannara and honestly after all the reviews I've read, I expected this book to be much more close to LotR than it is. And going back to my first point, that's why I sought this book out, I was looking for more LotR since I heard it was a carbon copy.
Now that's not to say I couldn't go down the list of LotR characters and name a corresponding Shannara character. It's quite easy actually.
But even then, you can tell that Brooks did go beyond the exact same story. Now, please remember beyond does not equal better, by no means. LotR remains my all-time favorite books and this book gets nowhere close, but I do acknowledge the differences were at least enough for me. Those differences also show the shortcomings with this book, since that character depth is clearly lacking.
Yes Menion Leah is your Aragon character, but he's unknown royalty from an all but unknown kingdom. Not destined to be the returned king, he's just a straight-forward dude, loyal and brave.
Yes, Allanon is your Gandalf, but he's also the last one of his kind and he ... disappears for no reason all the time.
Yes, Shea is Frodo, but he's half-elf and this is more of a farmboy becomes great fantasy cliche than a Frodo who's great because of who he is. Completely different.
Yes, the Sword of Shannara is the ring, but it's missing most of the book and doesn't ... do the same stuff. We'll leave it at that.
I could keep going, but I'll quit there. Suffice it to say, the differences worked for me to make this its own story.
Having known it was a carbon copy, the similar elements didn't put me off as much as it could have I'm sure. I enjoyed The Sword of Shannara as a straight-forward quest/battle book. I thought it was enjoyable and had more surprises than I thought it would despite being cliche (or originator of many cliches?).
It completely lacks the depth of LotR, of course, (what doesn't) but it works at what it's doing and done competently. I'll read more.
I always have a hard time reviewing the "classics." Not so much because I don't have anything new to say - I have my own impressions - but more becausI always have a hard time reviewing the "classics." Not so much because I don't have anything new to say - I have my own impressions - but more because what if I didn't like it? Does that make me poorly read or did I just not get what everyone else got? There's a very good chance of the latter no matter what I'm reading, let's just be honest.
But that's not that I didn't like Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. I gave it 4 stars as you can plainly see (although you'll see in a minute I actually gave it 3.5, whoops, now the cat's out of the bag). I really enjoyed it, but I didn't love it like I thought I would.
What got me sucked into reading this book was the writing. Lewis Carroll takes everything from Alice's perspective, her very young perspective. It's hilarious. The way she sees things is just like you would picture in a child. She looks at everything the way she's learned, but also according to how she's put things together in her young life.
Then, she also rambles and ends up on tangents that had me chuckling. You ever start thinking of one thing and suddenly you're at a whole new place and you have no idea how you got there and you can't help but laugh out loud? And then other people look at you weird. It's like that.
I do the same, as I'm sure many others do.
I'm sure you know the story, I won't bore you with the details, but there are some differences from the movie(s)...at least I think. It's been a while since I've seen any of them and I'll update this once I give the movie another go.
I think the thing that brought this book down a peg or two for me was the ending. That's right the ending. Skip this paragraph if you don't wanna go there. But come on Carroll. Really? It was all a dream. I've heard that one before - I'm looking at you Oz.
Overall this was a highly enjoyable book and at only 93 pages (and free on Kindle), it's worth a go. Come on, it's a classic.