This was my first introduction to Neverwhere, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Knowing that the book is going to be (presumably) wildly better, I'm anxiouThis was my first introduction to Neverwhere, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Knowing that the book is going to be (presumably) wildly better, I'm anxious to pick that up. I'm going to wait a little, however, so that the two experiences don't clash in my brain. ...more
Part of the rash of recent scifi books that all had orange-tinged covers that all caught my eye at the same time (Conquest by John Connolly & JenPart of the rash of recent scifi books that all had orange-tinged covers that all caught my eye at the same time (Conquest by John Connolly & Jennifer Ridyard, Influx by Daniel Suarez, The Girl with All the Gifts by M. R. Carey, Pillar to the Sky by William R. Forstchen), Andy Weir's The Martian won out as the first for me to try out. I'm not a particularly well-read scifi reader, as most of my reading tends to sway more towards fantasy and urban fantasy, but all of these books look really good, and I thought maybe it was time to broaden my reading horizons and dip my toes in the scifi pool. And you know what, I'm not at all sad that I did.
Andy Weir's debut doesn't take much time to throw you into the middle of the story. Six days into a planned 2 month Mars mission, the Ares 3 mission is cut short by a dust storm that threatens to strand the entire crew on Mars. In the confusion of the storm, Mark Watney is left for dead at the mission site. However, Watney isn't dead and he quickly needs to adapt to his situation in order to try and survive on the surface of Mars with the limited supplies he has available to him until the next Ares mission makes it way to Mars (a very long 4 years off yet). What follows is an on-the-edge-of-your-seat story of survival and ingenuity that left me genuinely concerned for the well being of Watney, and I always think that's the sign of a really good book, when you're concerned for the life of a fictional character in a book.
However, I needed a significantly raised suspension of disbelief. It wasn't just the fact that Watney was left on the surface of Mars, but it was his constant ability to figure his way out of things. It's fairly clear that Weir put a huge amount of research into this book, and I'm fairly sure the science behind the fiction is solid. It's just, there were so many numbers that were thrown around as Watney was able to guesstimate fairly accurately anything from the amount of oxygen he'd need to have to survive, to how to burn rocket fuel to make oxygen, to distances he'd need to travel on the surface and how much solar energy he'd need to make the necessary travel time. For somebody whose main role on the mission was as the botanist, as well as having some engineering experience, Watney was a freaking genius. After a while, it just seemed a little too impossible for him to know exactly what he needed to do in each circumstance that was thrown at him to survive the entire experience.
Another thing that bugged me a little was the dialogue. Weir had a tendency to use what I look at as "in the now" dialogue, things that I don't see as working their way into the vernacular in the long run. Maybe I'm wrong, but it was like Weir was trying too hard to show he had his finger on the pulse of current internet speak to think about the fact that maybe these turns of phrase won't hold until this undisclosed future that this book takes place in (and maybe there is a specific year, but I don't have the book in front of me so can't check right now).
And lastly, one last thing that bugged me, but this is a HUGE spoiler point for the end of the story, so if you don't want to know how it ends, turn back now!
OK, last chance, I'm revealing a big part of the end of book, so turn around now.
You've been warned. Of course, Watney survives. They figure out a way to rescue him, and it all seems a little too far-fetched how it works out. I won't give that part away, but needless to say I didn't believe for a minute Watney would have been able to survive the rescue attempt. BUT, I was riveted to the story right up to the end, and that still impresses me with this book, that Weir was able to keep me this involved on whether Watney was going to make it or not, regardless by how unbelievable I found the way they pulled it off. And the ending. THE ENDING. Those last couple of sentences were just a little too dipped in kumbaya for my liking. I mean, yes the story ended on a hopeful note, but to drive it home the way it was in those last couple of sentences just made me roll my eyes. Hard.
END ALL SPOILERS!!
All the same, I absolutely enjoyed this book. I listened to it as an audio, and while I wasn't sold on R. C. Bray's performance at first, eventually he became the voice of Mark Watney for me. I now know if I ever sit down to read the book (which I may do at some point in the future), it's going to be Bray's voice I hear in my head, speaking for Watney. If you're looking for a well-researched, suspenseful scifi adventure, you really can't go wrong with The Martian....more
I'm not really going to review The Great Gatsby, because I'm sure most people would either have read it already, or at least have a working knowledgeI'm not really going to review The Great Gatsby, because I'm sure most people would either have read it already, or at least have a working knowledge of the story. Surprisingly, this book somehow slipped past me in high school as required reading, and I'm glad it did as I don't think I would have enjoyed it as much, nor understood it as well, but when I heard about the Baz Luhrmann film production, I knew I was going to go see the movie (I love Luhrmann's films) and decided I should familiarize myself with the original. I found it on Audible (narrated by one of my favorite actors, Jake Gyllenhaal), so I downloaded it and gave it a listen. What I discovered in the story surprised me.
I didn't know what the story was about, but I wasn't entirely sure I was going to like it. I felt it was one of those books that I avoided in high school, and there was probably a reason for it. I found myself really capitvated by the story. The story of Nick Carraway as he is sucked into the extravagances of his neighbors in the Jazz Age city of New York; the story of Jay Gastby, and the mystery surrounding his impossible wealth; the love story of Jay Gatsby and Daisy Buchanan, and what that love means to Daisy's family. It is all these things, and so much more, all layered together into a subtle and nuanced story that I'm certainly glad I came to in my adult years, as I was able to appreciate it more.
As for the audio production, Jake Gyllenhaal really captures Nick's semi-detachment from what's going on around him perfectly. There isn't much emotion in Gyllenhaal's performance, but it's done that way on purpose, as Nick is remembering back with some level of revulsion about what happened during that time with Gatsby. It's not an easy performance to listen to, but I don't think it's supposed to be, just like the book itself isn't the easiest story to digest. A pretty spot-on performance in my opinion....more
Not much more I can add to the discussion on this book. I'm surprised by how much I enjoyed listening to it, and am looking forward to listening to thNot much more I can add to the discussion on this book. I'm surprised by how much I enjoyed listening to it, and am looking forward to listening to the rest in the series. ...more
If we could give 1/2 stars in GR, this would get a solid 2 1/2.
Well, that was fairly disappointing.
Alas, I really dislike writing reviews like this, bIf we could give 1/2 stars in GR, this would get a solid 2 1/2.
Well, that was fairly disappointing.
Alas, I really dislike writing reviews like this, but it is what it is. I wanted to like Daughter of Smoke and Bone. In fact, at the start of the book, I loved Daughter of Smoke and Bone. I did! There are fantastic characters, fantastic world-building, fantastic story-telling, everything that I like in a book seemed to be here, so I was pretty pumped. Karou, our heroine, is smart and sassy, while Brimstone and the other Chimera are great foils for her. The mystery surrounding her past is just intriguing enough to keep my attention; the errands that Brimstone has Karou running for him just as mysterious (what are the teeth for?). The banter back and forth between Karou and her best friend, Zuzana, is laugh out loud funny in parts. Even the city around Karou, Prague, takes on a life of its own and practically becomes a character unto itself. I loved it all.
And then Akiva, the love interest, is introduced into the story, and as far as I'm concerned, this is where the book falls apart completely for me.
As soon as Akiva shows, it's off to romance-trope, purple-prose land, and it was endless. Chapters and chapters of "moonlight in his eyes, starbursts in my chest" sort of writing. For me at least, it ripped me right out of the story and made the second half of the book arduous at best. I think if the entire second half of the book had been written more like the first half, I would have been fine with it. Even if it remained the same, but was at least trimmed down a little so that it didn't go on and on for chapters of pining for Akiva...
Anyway, I can see the potential of a fantastic story here. The world-building is really strong, and I think Karou is definitely a better character without Akiva (and not to spoil too much, but given the way Daughter of Smoke and Bone ends, there is a little hope for the follow up, Days of Blood and Starlight - even though that title doesn't fill me with much confidence). However, if Days of Blood and Starlight ends up like Daughter of Smoke and Bone, I'm going to be hard-pressed to continue on with the story (I'm assuming this is a trilogy, since almost all YA fantasy is a trilogy these days).
So, there it is. A fantastic book that completely loses itself in its over-the-top love story. Laini Taylor is a great writer. Her imagery is vivid and her prose is fluid, but I just feel like the second half of the book got away from her and carried her along in its excessiveness. I'll definitely give her a try again, and more than likely it'll be with the next book in this series, but I'm hoping she can rein in the purple prose a little.
And a word on the audio production. I really think this was the saving grace for me for this book. Khristine Hvam does such a bang up job with her narration. She handles all of the characters perfectly, and she is clear and easy to understand. I really think that if I had been reading this book, I would have given up well before the end, but Hvam does such an admirable job narrating the book, I was able to stick with it. I will definitely be listening to the next book in the series as opposed to reading it, as she is narrating that one as well....more