**spoiler alert** The gimmick of Afterworlds (and it really does feel like a gimmick) is that it alternates back and forth between two stories - one s**spoiler alert** The gimmick of Afterworlds (and it really does feel like a gimmick) is that it alternates back and forth between two stories - one story is about a youg adult author who is having her first book published, and the other story _is_ her debut book. I was not a fan of this gimmick for several reasons:
I don't really want to alternate back and forth between two stories - I would prefer to read one story before starting on another.
My suspension of disbelief was totally shattered. When I'm reading a piece of fiction I like to engage my suspension of disbelief and try to percieve the characters as real people, and the events as things that are acutally happening to those people. Afterworlds reminds you every few pages that you're reading fiction, because within the context of Story A, Story B _is_ fiction. I can't successfully pretend that Lizzie is a real person if I'm reminded every few pages that Darcy made her up, and the things that are happening to her aren't real, but in fact subject to the whims of Darcy's publisher. That would in turn remind me that Darcy isn't real either. When it was revealed that the cover of Darcy's book looks like the cover of the book I was physically holding there was a moment of meta weirdness that also completely killed my suspension of disbelief for the whole enterprise.
For me, this gimmick displays a certain amount of arrogance by Scott Westerfeld. Many characters in Darcy's story love Darcy's book. They think it's amazing. They keep saying that it's amazing. Scott Westerfeld is then gracious enough to let us read this AMAZING book for ourselves. And hey, even if you don't agree with Westerfeld that Darcy's book is amazing, just remember that it's also supposedly a fictional teenager's first novel, so maybe it's been carefully crafted to not be as good as he could have written it so it's more believable that our young protagonist wrote it? I can only hope that's not true.
Finally, though this is kind of nitpicking, I enjoy reading fantasy/science fiction, and I signed up to read fantasy/science fiction, and only half of the book I read actually falls into that genre. A minor complaint, I suppose, but it was something that bothered me a little. I felt a bit like "you tricked me into reading ordinary fiction!"
On the positive side, I'll grant you that the gimmick allows for some interesting moments of foreshadowing, as Darcy is forced to make changes to her book and we catch glimpses of things that might have happened to Lizzie. Westerfeld's writing is engaging enough that I found myself at least partly drawn into Darcy's story. I was at least curious how everything would end. But on the whole I wish he'd just taken the premise of Lizzie's story and written that as a more complete and polished story. I probably would have enjoyed that book more than I did this one. ...more
It was nice to finally learn the details of events about which we had only ever gotten hints up until now.
On the one hand, villains in this series coIt was nice to finally learn the details of events about which we had only ever gotten hints up until now.
On the one hand, villains in this series continue to be a little over-the-top evil. On the other hand, Levana's tragic origin story makes her a more believable character, and maybe her over-the-top evil makes a bit more sense.
A worthy stepping stone to the ultimate conclusion of the series, and I would recommend reading in sequence as book #3.5, as I do think that's the time in the story where its revelations will be most satisfying. ...more
**spoiler alert** We spent an awful lot of time with Clair running away from things and listening to her wish that she could just stop for a minute an**spoiler alert** We spent an awful lot of time with Clair running away from things and listening to her wish that she could just stop for a minute and think. That doesn't leave a lot of room for much of a story.
It irked me that it was never made clear to me why people in authority seemed to look to Clair for guidance or ideas, unless it was _all_ sucking up to her in case she secretly had access to and influence over Q.
Also, it drove me crazy that there were many, many, MANY references to Clair's broken promise...but the author never reminds us what exactly that promise was. Though I thought I remembered the events of the first book reasonably well, apparently that one detail didn't really stick. Finally I had to stop reading this until I could consult the end of the previous book to refresh my memory.
This struck me as an interesting premise, though if I had been more familiar with Plato's Republic before reading this I doubt I would have given it aThis struck me as an interesting premise, though if I had been more familiar with Plato's Republic before reading this I doubt I would have given it a shot...because there are some really horrible ideas in there. Many places in this book made me deeply uncomfortable, and though I stuck with it to see how things would end I didn't enjoy the process very much....more
This was my introduction to Atomic Robo, and it was magical. Shelf space is precious and money is tight, yet I have since purchased each collected volThis was my introduction to Atomic Robo, and it was magical. Shelf space is precious and money is tight, yet I have since purchased each collected volume as they are published. A fantastic book....more
**spoiler alert** Recently, I re-read the Riftwar Saga. It held up reasonably well over time, though when I first read them I was young enough that it**spoiler alert** Recently, I re-read the Riftwar Saga. It held up reasonably well over time, though when I first read them I was young enough that it didn't register how few female characters were present, and how underdeveloped they were. There were some plot elements that didn't hold up well either, but it wasn't too bad.
I remember that at some point I had stopped reading Feist's books, but I couldn't remember why. Possibly I just wasn't interested in the next generation of characters - I seem to recall not being terribly fond of Lyam's children.
Regardless, I thought I'd give Feist another try, and I decided to try The Serpentwar Saga, none of which I had ever read before.
I was sorry to see that, if anything, Feist's handling of female characters had gotten worse. Also, this series deals much more with the details of armies and battles than the Riftwar Saga, and I found a lot of that material rather boring.
The story seemed pretty well wrapped up at the end of Rage of a Demon King, except for the enemy general declaring himself king of some conquered territory. Shards of a Broken Crown felt largely unnecessary. We made the general the pawn of another aspect of the looming cosmic-scale evil and then had a bunch of battles and betrayals and...I guess we resolved things. Looming evil is still out there, and I presume it must be behind any problems in future books, which I gather exist. I'm not certain how much I care. ...more
I greatly enjoyed the Bartimaeus Trilogy when I read it years ago, and upon recently learning that there was a prequel I immediately set out for the lI greatly enjoyed the Bartimaeus Trilogy when I read it years ago, and upon recently learning that there was a prequel I immediately set out for the library for "The Ring of Solomon."
Perhaps it's the intervening time or the change in setting, but something felt a little off, and it never quite recaptured the vibe I remember of the original trilogy.
It was still fun and a worthwhile read, but not quite everything that I had anticipated. ...more
**spoiler alert** I think Golgotha is an interesting setting, and there were some neat ideas in the first book, so I was happy to see a sequel.
Alas,**spoiler alert** I think Golgotha is an interesting setting, and there were some neat ideas in the first book, so I was happy to see a sequel.
Alas, this was almost no fun to read. Revolting things happen in this book. In particular, we are subjected to several mini-chapters in which we are introduced to the depraved minions of the head villain. These were so appalling that I eventually I just skipped them as they appeared. I understand that these people are evil and disgusting. I do not need this much information or this much detail.
I don't know if I'd read a third one of these or not. I suspect I might give it a try but end up abandoning it partway through if it maintains the current level of gruesomeness. ...more
**spoiler alert** This book has a social agenda. That's fine - I don't mind social agenda with my storytelling. However, there are two big problems fo**spoiler alert** This book has a social agenda. That's fine - I don't mind social agenda with my storytelling. However, there are two big problems for me:
1) It's ALL social agenda. There is almost no story here. Hundreds of pages in, almost nothing had happened. Also, this book makes heavy use of statements like "I could see from her expression how she felt about that." Well, I can't see her expression, so you've told me nothing. I still don't know how your character feels about the situation. I need more.
2) I can't figure out what the social agenda is. Clearly we're addressing gender issues, but our protagonist seems to be saying that people are really hung up on gender and get upset when she uses the wrong pronoun for them. She uses the same gender pronoun for everyone, which means we don't know (or must puzzle out and make assumptions about) the gender of various characters.
What is the message here? Am I supposed to feel bad about myself because I want to know the gender of characters? Because knowing that gender helps me imagine a character, and I'm wrong for making assumptions based on gender in my imagination? Are we using exclusively "she" to point out that it's wrong to use "he" as a blanket or default gender pronoun? Because I already knew that, and using "she" instead is no less wrong.
I think people should be treated equally and fairly regardless of gender and their choices about how to idenify themselves, yet I felt like this book is judging me and telling me that I'm a bad person. I don't know what everyone else is seeing in this book that they loved so much, but I found it both upsetting and boring. ...more
Also, very little of this story had anything to do with the Incrementalists incrementally improving the world. In**spoiler alert** Painfully tedious.
Also, very little of this story had anything to do with the Incrementalists incrementally improving the world. Instead, it's more about the system by which they perpetuate themselves, and their filing system, and things going awry with both of those things. ...more