Who knew that Forster wrote spec-fic? Not me. And boy did he ever! Over 100 years old and this story still hasn't exceeded it's sell-by date. Better r...moreWho knew that Forster wrote spec-fic? Not me. And boy did he ever! Over 100 years old and this story still hasn't exceeded it's sell-by date. Better reviewers than offer up their thoughts on this prescient omnipresent-omniscient-omnipotent Machine world, so suffice it to say I think the Science Fiction Hall of Fame committee was on the money when they inducted The Machine Stops in 1973.(less)
I've really got to start paying more attention to my local crack dealer, er, book pusher, um, I mean indie bookseller. With this recommendation, Dante...moreI've really got to start paying more attention to my local crack dealer, er, book pusher, um, I mean indie bookseller. With this recommendation, Dante has earned my trust in his judgement IN SPADES.
I really wanted a suggestion for something less literary CoolWhip, more heavy cream, and Bacigalupi's debut novel (what? debut novel? seriously???) was just the ticket. Curdled cream is more like it. No feel-good, happily ever after, the future is so bright blah blah blah, this is stark the-future-is-now, you'd-better-read-the-handwriting-on-the-wall-motherfucker-before-we're-all-floating-away-in-a-sea-of-genetically-engineered-commodities, ADVENTURE.
Weaving the stories of a hot bot-chick-cum-sex-slave, a couple of rakish foreign import-export rogues with not-so-hidden agendas, a Chinese-via-Malaysia refugee, a pair of government windmill-tilters of the enforcement variety, and a handful of thugs and bugs, Bacigalupi has painted a mighty dark and entertaining slog through 22nd century Thailand. A miasma of sweat-soaked action, Windup Girl is packed with political machinations, all-too-human foibles, resurrected extinct species, global environmental chaos, and ubiquitous corporate greed. It fairly drips with the consequences of the pre-apocalyptic fruits we're now growing in the West and elsewhere. (Like how I finally worked the apocalypse in there?)
Now, go ask Dante what to read next, he knows what he's talking about.(less)
I'm the only one of my GR friends who didn't enjoy this book, which I assume has something to do with when we read it, as most of them read it in midd...moreI'm the only one of my GR friends who didn't enjoy this book, which I assume has something to do with when we read it, as most of them read it in middle school. Maybe if I'd read it then I'd feel differently; oh, wait! It was published after I went to college, so maybe that isn't it.
I just don't get the appeal here. It struck me as a heavy-handed morality tale told without subtlety or artistry. Looking for exceptional stories for children? Grab a copy of Brothers Grimm: they're scarier & better written. Want a dystopian future? Read Fahrenheit 451: it's more compelling. But is The Giver "dangerous"? This book is small potatoes compared to what kids growing up in the 21st Century see in the REAL world every day; gimme a break. (less)
This book should be right in my wheelhouse -- apocalypse! cannibalism! annihilation! -- but no. Only reason this gets 2 stars from me is Cormac really...moreThis book should be right in my wheelhouse -- apocalypse! cannibalism! annihilation! -- but no. Only reason this gets 2 stars from me is Cormac really knows how to turn a phrase. This story from anybody else? A lonely ★ and be done with it. Felt like this was a short-story idea turned into a retirement fund-generating novel that morphed into a venal blockbuster vehicle.
Here's what I still don't get about McCarthy's work: it feels like he holds the reader at arms length emotionally; sure, it was at times gripping in a what's-around-that-corner-up-ahead kind of way, but I never managed to care one way or the other about the lackluster characters. And that ending? Come on, could it BE any more gratuitous?
Gritty, bleak, and occasionally compelling but ultimately nothing to write home about. Another example of why I should avoid Pulitzer winners.(less)
Funny, like any good Vonnegut. Even funnier considering the current paranoia on the part of some red-staters fearing forced euthanasia "death panels"....moreFunny, like any good Vonnegut. Even funnier considering the current paranoia on the part of some red-staters fearing forced euthanasia "death panels". (less)
It's weird reading in 2011 a story written in 1911 that the world as we know it will end in 2012. I guess ol' Jack was on board with the Mayans way ba...moreIt's weird reading in 2011 a story written in 1911 that the world as we know it will end in 2012. I guess ol' Jack was on board with the Mayans way back then.
No plot summary here (if you're looking for one read any of the other GR reviews, whether they cop to a spoiler alert or not), just a bullet-point review: early example of the last-man-on-earth genre, brief in the extreme, a post-apocalyptic vignette. (less)
I devoured this book, all 700+ pages in 3 days, despite no taste for vamp-lit, which should tell you something. Now I know why most of the contemporar...moreI devoured this book, all 700+ pages in 3 days, despite no taste for vamp-lit, which should tell you something. Now I know why most of the contemporary work in that genre left me cold: it wasn't this. No one needs to even bother writing another. Take THAT, Twilight!
Beyond being a great post-apocalyptic horror story, The Passage is, at it's core, about humans and what drives them. I think to Cronin, people are made of glass, and he can see inside of them as easily as you or I see what's on the other side of a window.
And Cronin not only sees what's inside, he presents it beautifully as master of the simile. Consider: "Texas, state-sized porkchop of misery." and"eyes...empty, like drains that could suck the whole world down into them."
And although I'm sure I'll go see it, I'm certain the planned movie version won't live up to the book. I like movies as much as the next guy, but The Passage is an example of why books will almost always trump them : film only captures the visual story, with almost no sense of the poetry of it's language -- a painting without the memories held in the hand of the painter. I think The Passage: The Movie, will likely be a pale, albeit entertaining, facsimile of the original.
My only critique is that the brilliance of the first 200 or so pages of Act I aren't sustained through to the end. The story continues to intrigue, but something about the writing just wasn't as luminous; maybe the characters that don't make it through to Act II were favorites of Cronin? I don't know, but something changed. But if you are reading it, and around page 350 you get bogged down an consider bailing, re-consider: it is worth it.
The ARC I read and reviewed here was provided to me by the publisher via my local Indie bookstore, and no money was exchanged.(less)
What is old is new again, eh? If you look beyond the mere time travel bit, and see instead the social satire, maybe you can imagine the Victorian elit...moreWhat is old is new again, eh? If you look beyond the mere time travel bit, and see instead the social satire, maybe you can imagine the Victorian elite/Eloi as our contemporary American 1%ers, living it up on the backs of the impoverished East-End working-class/Morlacks, our 99%? Hmmm? Are you the diner, or the eaten? (less)
If you read this review you simultaneously deny it's existence and imply consent.
Is all literature about love and death? I never noticed before. I gue...moreIf you read this review you simultaneously deny it's existence and imply consent.
Is all literature about love and death? I never noticed before. I guess that's what middle age is for.
In a future when reading books makes you a social pariah, the iPhone has become an outmoded relic, & text-speak has infiltrated what passes for conversation, Shteyngart sets his Super Pathetic Predictable Love Story. Aging loser pines for broken young thing; aging loser gets broken young thing, a la Humbert Humbert; older loser of a different flavor steals broken young thing; broken young thing dumps older loser, leaves picture, & is shown for the prop of the male ego she is; everyone rides into an inevitable, post-human, America-née-Rome is burning sunset.
At times amusing, this prophetic-satirical novel intrigues me enough to warrant a look at Shteyngart's earlier work, but not enough to recommend it to others. (less)
Found this story of pre- and post-apocalyptic intrigue exceptional, in fact better even than The Handmaid's Tale, although I'm not sure if it will dra...moreFound this story of pre- and post-apocalyptic intrigue exceptional, in fact better even than The Handmaid's Tale, although I'm not sure if it will draw me into the 2 subsequent volumes.
What did I like about Oryx and Crake? Atwood's sublime prose, of course, is a standout. The characters are a compelling lot of idealistic miscreants, if you can hold that paradox in your mind. And it's just dark enough to appeal to my inner cynic; we're all bound for hell in the proverbial hand-basket at the hands of the genetic engineers that have infiltrated every branch of our biological science, if you are astute enough to see the signs.
This was a one-sitting read for me, a real page-turner that held my attention enough to keep me from my responsibilities; always a sign of a winner for me. My only complaint? Unlike most of Atwood's work, the female characters were somewhat marginalized, leaving this reader with what would have been, had the writer been male, a suspicion of misogyny. That is certainly not one of Atwood's character flaws, however, leaving me at a loss to explain her poor treatment of the 'fairer' gender.
Nonetheless, I enjoyed the hell out of this book.(less)
This novella was all over the place, which may be accounted for by the fact that I read an ARC version, or because this the author's first offering. I...moreThis novella was all over the place, which may be accounted for by the fact that I read an ARC version, or because this the author's first offering. I don't know, but it just didn't work for me.
It started out so bad that I considered abandoning it, but picked up in quality and momentum as it progressed, maybe as Testerman found his voice. There was some well-written dialogue, some interestingly-drawn (if inconsistent) characters, and clever plotting as well, but overall it was disjointed, spotty, and unsatisfying.
I would consider reading the next Testerman tome, but after reading all the GR reviews of Hidden Things, I think what I'd really like to read is Gaiman's American Gods.
This ARC was provided to me by the publisher via my local Indie bookstore, and no money was exchanged.(less)
The A,B,Cs (and D,E,Fs) of Cloud Atlas. Somewhat illusory, to boot, but really, really, a lovely...moreAbstract. Bouyant. Chimerical. Dreamy. Ethereal. Fanciful.
The A,B,Cs (and D,E,Fs) of Cloud Atlas. Somewhat illusory, to boot, but really, really, a lovely read.
If I had my druthers, I'd have the ability to rate on multiple factors; in this case, 5 stars for innovation, 5 for language, 5 for its ability to provoke thought, but the story is only a 3, 3.5. I mean, I like the story(s), but it isn't true love, you know?
David Mitchell has deftly woven together six seemingly disparate perspectives into a (fairly) cohesive whole, traversing multiple settings, moods, and times. After reading several reviews written by other readers, it seems that many found Cloud Atlas a challenge, but I would argue that it is less challenging than it is a book that requires assiduous attention. It is dense with detail and meaning, drawing from multiple traditions and chock-full of allusions, many of which I'm sure sailed over the head of this reviewer.
For example, I would argue that the "time-travel" aspect that seems to be the main thrust of the film (at least according to the ubiquitous trailers I'm constantly being bombarded with) is NOT in the novel the literal one-soul-reincarnating model, but rather a metaphorical nothing-new-under-the-sun Jungian recurring archetypes kinda thing. I think that Cloud Atlas the book is less about Fate with a capital 'F', as the reductive movie schilling might suggest, and more of an exploration of lowercase-f fate-as-choice. Are we really bound irrevocably into power struggles both internal and external, with no ability but to ride them out like carnival roller coasters, or are is there instead a way to break free and choose something more meaningful, something a bit aspirational?
Deep, I know, but it is like the "noisy silence" of trees, as Mitchell describes it, the truth at the core of his admonition that "we are only what we know"; and if we don't know ourselves, if we each of us is a tree, falling alone in a forest, does anyone hear us?
I think my metaphors are getting mixed and running away from me; that's because Cloud Atlas is complex and dialectically demanding, both funny and clever, and well worth at least one re-read.
On a whim, I picked up an ARC of The Passage from my wonderful indie bookshop last...moreReview forthcoming.
On a whim, I picked up an ARC of The Passage from my wonderful indie bookshop last year, and was immensely surprised to discover it was a favorite read of 2012. Imagine my chagrin when they weren't sent an advance of The Twelve: I would have to either spring for the hardcover, or wait an interminable year or more for it to come out in paperback. So I was ECSTATIC today when, upon stopping by said book purveyor, I found a gratis copy waiting with my name on it! They received a damaged copy (tiny tear in the jacket), remembered I was dying to read it, and gave it to me. THIS is why I will always give THEM my money, not Amazon.(less)