A sign of greatness, this book works on many different levels. It's up to the reader to decide how deep to go. Simply enjoy it for the humor, the funA sign of greatness, this book works on many different levels. It's up to the reader to decide how deep to go. Simply enjoy it for the humor, the fun characters, the dynamic action, and its a great read. But there's so much more there - a commentary on the dehumanizing effects of modern business, a cautionary tale about the hubris of military technology, and, at its core, an examination of personal identity and what really takes to be called "human". ...more
A good start to what should be an entertaining series.
The author seems have done her research and really captures the feel and atmosphere of New YorkA good start to what should be an entertaining series.
The author seems have done her research and really captures the feel and atmosphere of New York in the '20s. The dialog goes a long way towards establishing this, with characters that speak in the slang of the time (at least as far as I know, not being an expert on America in the 1920s...suffice it to say she's got me fooled if its not authentic).
Being the first book, there is a fair bit of time spent introducing characters that don't play directly in the main plot, but they're well-crafted, so its not a drawback to be pulled aside for a few pages.
It's good that the characters and atmosphere stand out, because the plot, at least as it plays out in this first book, isn't exactly groundbreaking, walking the well-trod ground of prophesy, weird religious sects, the Book of Revelations, ESP etc. Another criticism is how the characters come together - coincidence plays too strong a part (although if all is prophesied, is anything a coincidence?).
These (perceived) flaws aren't serious enough to keep me from recommending the book, however, especially to a YA. Keep in mind the A part of that abbreviation though - the story is dark and gets bloody (although not gratuitously) at times, so it might not be best all audiences....more
A very strong finish to the series. Most entries in the fantasy genre feature a struggle against a big bad trying to end the world. Often as I read thA very strong finish to the series. Most entries in the fantasy genre feature a struggle against a big bad trying to end the world. Often as I read those, I wonder, why does Evil Whatever actually want to end the world? What comes next? Seems kind of short-sighted. Usually the authors don't have an answer to that - "They just do, ok? Gosh!" Sanderson's antagonist is so well crafted that you never need to ask that question.
The author also creates a palpable sense of despair and hopelessness as his protagonists struggle against a more and more inevitable end. Sure, there's a big army of doom to fight against, which is usually the main threat in any other story of this type, but in this world, that's really just sort of icing on the big doomy cake. The real threats are much harder to fight - how does our heroine stop volcanoes, earthquakes, layers of ash covering everything, and, oh yeah, the planet's in the wrong orbit?
A great series overall. Its the first I've read by Sanderson and it makes me glad he's taken the reins on Wheel of Time....more
After a promising start in the first book, the story really takes off in this effort. The author continues to explore ground rarely touched on in highAfter a promising start in the first book, the story really takes off in this effort. The author continues to explore ground rarely touched on in high fantasy - particularly, what happens after you've defeated the villain?
In this case - chaos, as an idealistic neophyte leader attempts to create a just society for a population that hasn't experienced such a thing in at least 1000 years, while several outside forces decide that his fledgling government is ripe for the picking.
Plus, there are ominous hints that the villain might not have been quite as bad as thought, and instead was just a normal guy trying his best (which wasn't great, admittedly) to prevent even worse things from happening, like the end of the world. Now that he's gone, who's going to step up and figure out what's going on? Vin, of course, the hero of the tale, but she's a bit distracted with a new love life, new powers, and new worshipers. Will she make the right moves and decisions to stop her world's decline? The author kept me guessing until the end, which is a rare feat in this genre....more
My feelings on this book are somewhat paradoxical. I enjoyed the clever premise and Scalzi's straight-forward writing style. However, as with his otheMy feelings on this book are somewhat paradoxical. I enjoyed the clever premise and Scalzi's straight-forward writing style. However, as with his other books I've read, I thought it was highly overrated. This, of course, is not really the authors fault.
People seem to love his work, and many of his books, including this one, have been nominated for and won awards. I, however, find his stories to be obviously derivative. This at minimum should knock a book out of the running for awards. At least in this book he acknowledges that he's not the first to tread ground this story walks (and having read Jasper Fforde, far from the best).
There are two ways to look at this work, especially the so-called "codas". The optimistic view would be that its an experiment in non-linear storytelling with shifting perspective and style. The pessimistic view is that its a novella with some polished up background material tacked on to pad it to novel length.
I'd like to give him the benefit of the doubt, but its hard to do when you consider that the "codas" could have been worked into the main storyline. Slapping them onto the end feels like laziness to me.
Still, I actually did like the main story. Its worth a read and if you've liked his other work, you may lean towards optimism on this one....more
Although the setting & level of technology is pretty standard for a traditional fantasy, Sanderson's story starts from a trope turned on its headAlthough the setting & level of technology is pretty standard for a traditional fantasy, Sanderson's story starts from a trope turned on its head - the hero destined to defeat the Big Evil so everyone can live happily ever after? He failed. Life is actually worse for most people.
The book follows a group of thieves and con-persons who refuse to tolerate the unjust status quo simply because their so-called savior says its necessary. None of the typical "naive farm boy discovering his hidden destiny"; these are hardened and experienced (for the most part) people who make a plan to win and go about executing it.
Another welcome difference from the standard - the magic system is not simply window dressing or special effects. Its very well thought out and essential to the plot.
Sure, a seasoned veteran of the genre will see most of the plot points coming, but they should be nicely entertained along the way....more
Fantastic conclusion to the series. Be warned, this one is very difficult to put down. Many strong, well-realized female characters, with Salander oncFantastic conclusion to the series. Be warned, this one is very difficult to put down. Many strong, well-realized female characters, with Salander once again leading the way....more
In this whole series, by far the best element is the characterization of Katniss. She is well-defined and memorable. Without her voice this would haveIn this whole series, by far the best element is the characterization of Katniss. She is well-defined and memorable. Without her voice this would have been yet another none-too-original post apocalyptic story. Granted, the main method of oppression- the Hunger Games, is fairly original, but the major story elements seem copied straight out of "Distopia Writing for Dummies". These books followed the trope standards to the letter and held no surprises. But, again, the strong characters, especially Katniss, made it all worth it. ...more
Anyone who reads SF regularly probably has a checklist of story elements that are de rigueur for a book to meet their personal definition of "ScienceAnyone who reads SF regularly probably has a checklist of story elements that are de rigueur for a book to meet their personal definition of "Science Fiction." This book comes as close to checking all my definition's boxes as any has in a long time -
Plausibly set in our future? Check. In space? Check. Realistic tech? Check. People living on other planets? Check. Mysterious alien? Check. Spaceship battles? Check. Realistic consequences of a universe with the above? Check.
I could go on, but add to this a good detective story, excellent (and realistically flawed) main characters, and a good sense of how international (interplanetary?) politics might really play out, and you have the makings of a book that seems like it was written with my particular tastes in mind. ...more