I found this to be an easy read. The story kept me entertained, turning pages to find out what was going to happen next. I enjoyed the Bitchun SocietyI found this to be an easy read. The story kept me entertained, turning pages to find out what was going to happen next. I enjoyed the Bitchun Society, and how seamlessly Doctorow blended both the high-tech narrative and the deep Disneymania into the story in a supportive way. The plot depended on it, but didn't get overwhelmed by it. So the exposition was handled well, I thought.
Setting the story as a conflict between two teams of hereditary Disney employees bent on making the park a better experience for all involved made the story simultaneously more approachable and more obscure. By setting the action against a backdrop that is essentially the same in whatever far-flung future Doctorow has imagined as it is today, it gives him a familiar anchor point to highlight how different things are. At the same time, however, for those of us who haven't been to Disney in a long time or who are unfamiliar with the various rides featured in the story (I have never seen the Hall of Presidents or the Haunted Mansion because both have always been closed for maintenance during my visits to both Disneyworld and Disneyland.), it is more than a little frustrating.
The problem I had with the book at the beginning was that nothing was really at stake. For anyone. The park was not going anywhere (as in "static"), and all the changes being made were done to preserve the experience for the visiting public. So no matter how it came out, nothing would truly change. Sure, maybe some of the characters would be inconvenienced, but it would be just that--an inconvenience.
Julius, the main character, goes on and on at some length about how death--even his own murder--is not that big a deal. Serious, debilitating health problems--such as, say, murder--are easily fixable: just clone a new body, make a backup, and restore into the new body, better than the previous one. With multiple lifetimes to live, humans tend to lose the urgency that makes every minute of our lives precious, and this is nicely portrayed throughout.
When Julius loses all of that about halfway through the book, this is when it "picked up" for me. Now we have a character who genuinely has something to lose. His every moment becomes precious because he can't back up, so if he renews, he'll lose a large chunk of his life, including the last year of the life of one of his best friends. This underlying story was what kept me turning the page, wondering how it was going to be resolved.
I didn't really expect the revelation at the end (the Whodunnit), but it made sense within the framework of the story, and didn't betray the characters' personalities. I thought Doctorow handled it well.
The reason I gave this three stars instead of four (I did really enjoy it while I was reading it) is that the ending...just sort of petered out. Again, nothing was really at stake. Once Julius agreed to be restored if anything happened to him and forgave his murderers, there just wasn't any reason to care anymore what happened to him. Which may be exactly what Doctorow had in mind. Julius moved on, Disneyworld went back to whatever passes for "normal" in the Bitchun Society, and the story ends. What eventually happens to everyone other than Julius is left unrevealed, and as a reader, that didn't bother me.
Because nothing is at stake for any of them.
My main dilemma right now is trying to decide whether this story was Utopian or dystopian. I could go either way....more
This is a very dry read, and you have to really want to know about werewolves to slog through it, but it is full of some very gruesome stories, indeedThis is a very dry read, and you have to really want to know about werewolves to slog through it, but it is full of some very gruesome stories, indeed. Of course, "gruesome" is in the eye of the beholder. The author wrote this at around the time of the civil war in the United States, and what was considered too horrible to be printed then would be put in children's books now. (I exaggerate, but only just.)
I read this book for reference, and will probably refer to it as a source for werewolf and other were-animal stories when the fancy strikes.
If you can find an actual written copy, you'd be better off. The e-book is riddled with transcription errors that probably occurred when the original was scanned using OCR. It often turns 'e' into 'a' or 'o', as well as making other strange substitutions. Which is sometimes easy to catch when the author is writing in English, but almost impossible to catch when he is writing in German, Greek, French, or Latin.
If nothing else, I've found a treasure trove of names, dates, places, and events to research separately....more
**spoiler alert** This story engaged me from the first paragraph all the way through to the last. It sucked me in, and I found myself wanting to read**spoiler alert** This story engaged me from the first paragraph all the way through to the last. It sucked me in, and I found myself wanting to read more.
I liked the main character, the automaton Mattie, but from the get-go, I either disliked or was ambivalent toward most of the other characters with the exception of Niobe and the soul-smoker.
With only one exception that I can think of, all the other characters in the book only wanted to use Mattie to further their own selfish goals. The gargoyles wanted her to find a cure for their affliction. Iolanda wanted Mattie's access to Loharri. Loharri created Mattie and wanted her to be a combination (sex) toy/companion/housekeeper. The soul smoker wanted her around because she was the only one he could talk to given that she was immune to the effects of his "profession." Beresta's ghost wanted Mattie to find her son, Sebastian. Niobe befriended Mattie because she was the only one who would talk to her, and then used her knowledge to gain favor with Iolanda.
Only Sebastian seemed to want nothing from Mattie, but he was disturbed or perhaps disgusted by what she wanted to give to him, and was driven away.
Mattie's emancipation was a cruel joke. She was emancipated in name only, but still remained a mere tool to be used by everyone in her life. Perhaps the cruelest twist of all was that her programming required her to return to her creator periodically even though she came to despise him.
In the end, Mattie got nothing in return for all that she did except for the gargoyles' (futile) attempts to find her key so she could be revived. But revived for what?
I'm sure I could go on about the metaphors, blatant and not, that are explored in this book. But I won't, because that's not why I enjoyed it.
As I said, I very much enjoyed the book in spite of what sounds like a very negative review above. The writing is very good, and I thought the world in which the story took place was interesting enough that I'd like to see more of it, but perhaps this microcosmic view is all we should see.
Because the story wasn't about plot/events. It wasn't about settings. It was about Mattie. And I liked her character. A lot.
I was at first disappointed by the ending, but now that I reflect on it, I'm glad Sedia didn't pander to the readers who only want 'happy' endings. The way this book ended was far more realistic, in my opinion, especially given the tone of the rest of the story. Sometimes, you don't get what you want OR what you need.
I couldn't care less about the politics or the other events that are going on in the background of the story. In that respect, this book reminds me a small bit of the movie "Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead," in which two minor characters from Hamlet wander around for our amusement while "Hamlet" takes place in the background. In the big picture of the political upheavals and the revolution going on, Mattie is a tiny speck of insignificance. But by focusing on her life and having her take center stage, Sedia relegates the important world events to mere background window dressing.
And I kind of like that. :)
This story will stick with me for a long time, I believe....more
The first 375 pages of the book were...basically character development. Nothing much really happens. It's all about getting to know Bella (even thoughThe first 375 pages of the book were...basically character development. Nothing much really happens. It's all about getting to know Bella (even though she's most certainly an unreliable narrator; see below) and setting up the action to come.
When the action finally starts at around page 375, it becomes far more interesting. Bella claims to undersand that Edward and his "family" are vampires and dangerous, but finally gets concrete proof of just how dangerous they can be.
I guess the only thing that really bothered me was the constant harping on how perfectly wonderful and wonderfully perfect Edward is. By page 100, I was already tired of it, and there were 400 more pages left to go.
I'm so very NOT the intended audience of this, but I can see why it's popular. This is why I know she's an unreliable narrator: throughout the book, Bella is down on herself. We only have her POV to go on, and she thinks she's ugly and graceless. But she goes into this new town and suddenly the head geek, the head jock, another boy (I can't recall his clique), a vampire, and a werewolf are all infatuated with her. Who wouldn't, after all, want to go into a new town and have five disparate members of their preferred gender suddenly go completely ga-ga over them, especially if two of them turn out to be a vampire and a werewolf?
So yeah. I did enjoy it up to a point. That point being that I'm male, in my forties, and not much into paranormal romance. :)
Also, I have to say this: While I was reading this and updating my status, which was then copied to Facebook, I had to put up with a barrage of people saying "Why? Why are you reading that dreck?" (And not-so-nice synonyms for "dreck.") It got so bad that I finally wrote a blog post about the attitude. If you'd like to read that blog post (which I consider to be part of my review), please do so here....more
**spoiler alert** As it turns out, the movie was a very good adaptation of the book. Most of the elements are there, but the book is darker and delves**spoiler alert** As it turns out, the movie was a very good adaptation of the book. Most of the elements are there, but the book is darker and delves a little into Eli's past and into the relationships between Eli and Oskar, among Oskar and his parents, among Oskar and the other children and teachers, among the alcoholics, and between Eli and Håkan. There are a number of scenes in the book that are not in the movie which explain some of what was going on a lot better, so the motivations of the characters aren't quite as murky or two-dimensional as they were on screen. And even with the scenes that are in the movie, a ton of subtext was omitted that might have made the movie less enchanting and more uncomfortable. I'm glad, because the movie led me to the book, and I thoroughly enjoyed both.
The book is well-written and an easy read. I never got thrown out of the story by awkward word choices or obvious reader manipulation. Don't get me wrong: there is manipulation, but it's well done. :) Both Lindqvist and the translator (Segerberg) are to be commended. I almost wish I read Swedish so I could compare the versions. :)
At the base, this is an unabashedly honest tale of a boy who is teased and abused for his differences, both perceived and real, and the relationships in his life that conspire to make it worse than it could be. Then he meets Eli and his relationship to her is the only positive relationship in his life. Is it any wonder, then, that he is drawn to her even after he discovers her true nature?
And let's get down to it: vampires. I like Lindqvist's take on vampires a lot. They aren't sexy. They aren't just humans with theatrical fangs. They are something else altogether, and to his credit, Lindqvist doesn't go into torturous, excruciating detail about it, so the reader is given just enough to be tantalized without being inundated with a lot of needless information that would only serve to distract from the story being told. And yet at the same time, he explains much of the lore that exists about vampires without beating the reader over the head by coming out and saying, "Look here! This explains other legendary vampires!" Even his vampires aren't entirely sure what they are.
The main thing that had me cheering is that in Lindqvist's book, vampires are PREDATORS, and we are not fooled by this at any point in the story. They need blood--human blood--to survive. He also neatly explains why humanity isn't teeming with vampires by this point, and it's an explanation that makes perfect sense within the world he has described.
This is a book that is blood-soaked, tear-stained, piss-stained, deals openly with sexuality without being needlessly graphic or tasteless, and shines a bright light directly in the face of dysfunctional relationships. So if you start reading this thinking it's just a silly love story of a boy and his vampire, you are going to be surprised. Pleasantly so, I think.
I highly recommend it, and hope others will enjoy it as much as I did....more
From the first story to the last, Butcher reminds the reader why we're so addicted to his world and the characters--no, the PEOPLE--who inhabit it.
ButFrom the first story to the last, Butcher reminds the reader why we're so addicted to his world and the characters--no, the PEOPLE--who inhabit it.
Butcher briefly introduces each story, telling where in the series it fits. On the first story, he comments that it isn't very good. While you're reading it, you don't really notice, but compared to the other stories in the book, he's right. It was his first, kind of stumbling attempts to write the character of Harry Dresden and develop the world he inhabits. But all of the traits are there from his chivalry to his inability to leave a helpless woman or child without helping, to his wise-cracking. And while it wasn't as good as the others, it is by no means a bad story. I quite enjoyed it.
A couple of the stories feature the werewolves, which I particularly enjoyed. I have a soft spot for Billy and Georgia and the rest of the fangs-and-fur gang.
Some of the stories are flat-out funny, while others are tragic. In other words, business as usual from Butcher.
As a surprise, there is a story written from Thomas' viewpoint, and one from Murphy's. It gives the reader a wonderful insight into these other characters, because all we know about them, we know through their actions and what Harry thinks of them.
There is nothing in this book that readers won't thoroughly enjoy.
And, of course, it is the only place you can read "Aftermath," the novella set after the climactic events at the end of book 12, "Changes."
It does not disappoint.
This book is a MUST READ for fans of the series....more
An intriguingly different approach to urban fantasy that mixes a lot more fantasy into the urban instead of the other way around. Mixes geek with GreeAn intriguingly different approach to urban fantasy that mixes a lot more fantasy into the urban instead of the other way around. Mixes geek with Greek.
Geek: the main character is a hacker who belongs to a long line of hackers and computer developers from way back. Way, WAY back.
Greek: because his great-to-the-nth-grandmother is Lachesis. You know, the second incarnation of the goddess(es) of Fate. The one that measures the threads of mortal lives. That Lachesis.
Ravirn has stumbled onto a dastardly plot that will pit him against his own extended family, and thanks to a Cassandra spell, no one will believe him when he tries to explain. With a discarded webtroll (think webserver, but demony), a laptop-cum-familiar-cum-demon of his own devising, and his distant-to-the-nth cousin who also happens to be his girlfriend as his only true allies, he has to find a way to stay alive while the Fates do everything in their power to exterminate his life-thread.
If you like cyberpunk, Greek mythology, urban fantasy, smart-ass narrators, strong female characters, magic, smart-mouthed laptops, and defying Fate, this is the book for you....more
**spoiler alert** I'm not sure I've ever read a book quite like this one before.
The plot itself is pretty simplistic, really, and the similarities to**spoiler alert** I'm not sure I've ever read a book quite like this one before.
The plot itself is pretty simplistic, really, and the similarities to the TV show "Supernatural" are a little too on point for comfort at times. The main characters--brothers, the older of which is constantly protecting the younger from some pursuing horror that seems bent on destroying him for their own nefarious reasons--live a life on the run, never putting down roots. Until they make it to New York City and decide to take a stand. They encounter a mixed bag of strange "allies" and start to unravel what is really going on.
But what really struck me as unique is the POV character going from PROtagonist to ANtagonist and back to PROtagonist, and doing so in a logical way that fits the world as created by the author.
Very interesting premise. I figured out a big portion of the ending right after the first switch in the POV character, but that didn't detract from my enjoyment of the book.
It also manages to have vampires, werewolves, elves, shapeshifters, banshees, trolls, prophets, and minor deities in spades, but not at all like they're depicted in most urban fantasies I have read. It was nice to see the myths reworked....more