Great concept! The book is written as a sort of oral history of the recently past (ten years ago) world wide fight against the zombies. Each vignette...moreGreat concept! The book is written as a sort of oral history of the recently past (ten years ago) world wide fight against the zombies. Each vignette is told from a different point of view, and the book is roughly chronological. We get the doctor who discovered Patient Zero in China, the South African who implemented the brutal plan which saves the world but left millions of people to die, army grunts giving their point of view of critical battles, a feral child's memory of her family's last stand, and a close analogue of Howard Dean discussing the current political situation of the United States.
It's all done effectively, you want to find out what story you'll read next, and I couldn't put the book down. It was light on horror for horror's sake- not a lot of detailed grisly description, but fascinating from an alternate history standpoint. Kudos to the author for putting together such a comprehensive collective of stories that bind together to form a whole.(less)
I read this book for the first time in the 90's and was a little worried that it would not have aged well. But upon rereading it, I enjoyed it just as...moreI read this book for the first time in the 90's and was a little worried that it would not have aged well. But upon rereading it, I enjoyed it just as much. The best thing about the book is the concept of the Fae, forces that shape fears and wishes into reality. The idea that the human will could physically impose itself on the outside world in such a concrete way is fascinating. We also get a semi-vampiric antihero written more than a decade before the Twilight frippery. _This_ is what you can do with a corrupt, powerful, yet somehow appealing character. The book is also an interesting meditation on the power of faith versus science, and the fluidity of morality. Some of the scenes were a little chaotic, but the general flow of the book made sense. I liked how the author showed instead of telling most of her psychic/magic system. The world of Erna is a rich and intriguing one, with plenty more to explore.(less)
I enjoyed reading the book while I was reading it. It did not compel me to go back to it after I put it down. The characters were mainly likable. I en...moreI enjoyed reading the book while I was reading it. It did not compel me to go back to it after I put it down. The characters were mainly likable. I enjoyed Walter and Saga especially. Alan was annoying and self-pitying, and I couldn't figure out why his wife Greenie (and what's with him giving her that annoying, childish name?) would want to stick with him. The book was just too long for the plot, and it felt like it ended without anything being resolved. This may be slice-of-life, but couldn't we have at least one relationship at a satisfactory point before ending the book? So- good writing, but needs an editor and a way to make this feel like something other than a middle book in a series.(less)
Jennifer Crusie is possibly my favorite romance writer. Her characters are relatable and real, not too ditzy, and she's funny, too!
This book has a dog...moreJennifer Crusie is possibly my favorite romance writer. Her characters are relatable and real, not too ditzy, and she's funny, too!
This book has a dog in it. Not a Scrappy-Doo over-cute dog, a middle-aged bassett hound with a "stay" problem. He's awesome. So is our girl. Our guy may be a little on the perfect side, but hey, it's a romance, why not shoot for the stars?
Great beach read or one when you've just got to get away from it all.(less)
This book began more strongly than it ended. It begins in a little Welsh village that has charge of a bridge of some strategic importance. It's also a...moreThis book began more strongly than it ended. It begins in a little Welsh village that has charge of a bridge of some strategic importance. It's also a bridge of some importance to Faerie. If you liked Mists of Avalon, you'll like settling into this world and reading about courtesy to visitors to the hall, feasting, and treachery. There's also a romance, although I wouldn't call it a romance novel. However, the plot gets twisted up as the characters enter Faerie and it never came quite right again for me. I liked Elen and Gereint, but was unsure how they bonded quite so thoroughly and so quickly, and the spear quest came out of left field and stole momentum from the story for me. But well written.(less)
I thought that the writing was skillful, and at the end of each of the first three case studies I wanted to know what happened next. However, turning...more I thought that the writing was skillful, and at the end of each of the first three case studies I wanted to know what happened next. However, turning them into cold cases drained that urgency away and didn't replace it with anything, Jackson seemed a bit too good to be true, and his ex-wife seemed irredeemably awful. I didn't really enjoy being inside any of the characters' heads (except possibly Caroline) and Amelia especially was just awful with her loathing of herself and all others. I was a bit surprised that although both Amelia and Julia had reason to believe that their sister was being abused and was mentally ill, neither of them had any empathy for her. I'm not sure I'd label this a mystery- it feels much more like literary fiction with its depressing worldview.
Here is something I found on a Goodreads review of the book which I thought was funny, and kind of sums it up for me:
To be happy and survive in a Kate Atkinson book: 1 Don’t get married. 2 Don’t stay single. 3 Don’t be a woman. 4 Don’t be a man. 5 Don’t be a child. 6 Don’t be a pet of any kind. 7 Don’t have unplanned sex. 8 Don’t have planned sex. 9 Don’t work in an office. 10 Don’t work not in an office. 11 If you work at Chickin’ Lickin’ and are Australian you are more or less not killed by Kate Atkinson, otherwise watchout.(less)
Maybe I read this too fast. I think this book probably calls for a slow, meditative reading, with pauses to think about passages. That's not my natura...moreMaybe I read this too fast. I think this book probably calls for a slow, meditative reading, with pauses to think about passages. That's not my natural style, so my opinion of the book suffered for it. I also had a hard time with the verisimilitude of the book. The conceit is that a woman living in an Irish convent (not really sure she was a nun) actually wrote this in Gaelic. I've read medieval writings (admittedly all by men) and they aren't anything like this. I think the author wanted to show what she thought it would be like to be a woman in the transitional time between druidism and Christianity in Ireland, with the changes (even listed at one point in the book) in agriculture, gender roles, politics and power. I think it might have been better for her just to go whole-hog fiction for that, instead of pretending this book is true. Someone else pointed out the random gaelic words thrown in for flavor, which also draws the reader out of the true-story idea.
You can see the tragic end coming from a mile away, so I don't think I'm giving anything away by saying that. I've read so many pagan-persecution stories by now that this didn't offer anything original to me, although it was indeed sad. I'm not sure the whole witch thing would have taken off in a barely Christianized community, though. Although I'm sure that pagans were also scared of powerful women- something that isn't usually brought up. Almost no details of her nine year long apprenticeship as a druid. No stories. I really have no idea about what to make of the three opinions she was allowed to give as a full druid by the end of the book.
Giannon drove me crazy as a character, especially at the end of the book. Gwynneve was so damaged, so lonely, so giving to others. Very sad that she didn't feel that she deserved someone to love her back. She was strangely wise and blind at the same time. I couldn't really root for her, though. Nor could I figure out what Aillinn was supposed to be, except damaged, just like everyone else in the book.
Book suffers by comparison to Mists of Avalon, which should be no surprise- it's not even a quarter of the other book's length. A lot of times I felt that I was just floating through a featureless landscape with no description or markers to help place me. But there were also beautiful passages, and even if I didn't always like Gwynneve, she was interesting. Her last scene was genuinely poignant. And some of the passages were indeed thought-provoking. (less)
I liked this one better than I feared I would, based on reading some other reviews. Shori, the amnesiac main character, is interesting. I wanted to kn...moreI liked this one better than I feared I would, based on reading some other reviews. Shori, the amnesiac main character, is interesting. I wanted to know more about the Ina and their society, and the trial at the end was an interesting meditation on justice. I think that Butler may have explored this alien race more in other books, but it's been so long since I've read anything by her that I can't remember. In any case, the different social structure was interesting and I wanted more.
I wasn't too creeped out by seemingly 10 year old Shori getting it on with grown men, because her thoughts seemed so alien and detached that she didn't seem childlike at all. If there had been a visual, it might have been otherwise.
Butler's writing style is very matter-of-fact. She talks about 300 or 400 year old beings, but they still just seem like other characters- just people. There's not a lot of drama or larger-than-lifeness in this book, even when somebody is speechifying or shooting somebody.
The issue of prejudice is one I'm still mulling over. The human-Ina prejudice (miscegenation!) seems worse than the issue of skin color, although I'm sure it's meant to stand in for skin color. I'm not sure if the issue was really explored in depth. It was referenced, but never really analyzed. I'm not sure if this is a strength or a weakness of the book. The author's POV is not brought out strongly, but maybe it's meant as something for the reader to meditate upon.
The writing style was also detached, and this is where the book loses a star. Shori is grief-stricken toward the end of the book, but the grief isn't portrayed in a way that made me feel grief too. Everything felt very analytic, whether Shori was taking someone's blood, killing someone, or missing her family. Pragmatic to the point of total detachment. When characters would tell Shori that her kind need to be touched and cuddled, it was hard to believe, because it was hard to believe that Shori needed anybody.