**spoiler alert** Ugh. I know a bunch of you loved this book. I did not love this book. Who I'm really mad at is Stephen King since I read this book o...more**spoiler alert** Ugh. I know a bunch of you loved this book. I did not love this book. Who I'm really mad at is Stephen King since I read this book on his recommendation. (Well, not his personal recommendation, but still. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/13/boo...).
That he was so enthusiastic makes me question his judgment of good writing, which until now, I held in pretty high regard.
The book went on so long, and I hated every character so much (every one! so much!) that the ending (twist! they all live happily ever after! even after all that foreshadowing that they would come to no good end!) was bitter disappointment.
One weird thing is that the book had no female characters. All of the women were one dimensional characters of the madonna/whore dichotomy. Either they were perfect and wonderful and loved by all or terrible bitches. With no real substance for either caricature. Lots of pedestals, not a lot of support for those pedestals. Maybe the women were meant to represent paintings, available for the men to gaze at and/or distain. Metaphors, not people.
Maybe we were supposed to hate the characters. Maybe that was the point. Lord knows that the pages and pages that Theo spent pontificating well past when the book was supposed to be over explained in extricating detail that sometimes GOOD things happen to BAD people and that sometimes CONSEQUENCES are not what you expect. And maybe you do everything right and it's still all fucked up and so why shouldn't it be that sometimes you do everything wrong and it all is perfect and wonderful after all! Or something. I started skimming at some point.(less)
Way back in 2002 I had this idea for a novel. I got the idea when I was reading a really great book called The Ferryman by Christopher Golden. (You sh...moreWay back in 2002 I had this idea for a novel. I got the idea when I was reading a really great book called The Ferryman by Christopher Golden. (You should read it too.)
As I started reading that book, the entire story came together for me instantly and I knew exactly how it was going to play out.
I was totally wrong. The Ferryman wasn't about anything I thought it was about. So then I thought, well, I should write the other book. The one from my mind. So I started it and I'm still writing it, I guess. Every so often.
In one sense, this novel that I'm writing that probably isn't really a novel because I've been writing it for 12 years is about shifting perception. We have an idea of a place, and that's a real, tangible thing. And then we visit a place and it's nothing like what we imagined it to be, but what we find it to be is yet another real, tangible thing. And then if later we live in that place, we find it's entirely different yet again. But perception being reality and etc. and so on, all of those places plus all of the places that one place might be for everyone else with different experiences -- all of those places are real.
So anyway, it's about a multi-dimensional reality that posits many "realities" are layered within the one we exist in and that there are ways to journey to these other places. Also, my not quite real novel has a plot too, but the multiple reality thing is the basic world building idea.
Which brings me to The Long Earth. Based on a premise of infinite worlds existing in the same space. My book! Now I don't have to write it!
Only this is also not that book. But not in a "The Ferryman, wow I'm happily surprised at the story I got instead" kind of way.
Which is weird, right? Because while Lord knows that Pratchett loves him some world building, he also tends to be particular with plot. Unfortunately, I found little to no plot in this book. And even the world building got super boring. WHICH SHOULD BE IMPOSSIBLE IT'S INFINITE WORLDS AND INFINITE EVOLUTIONAL BRANCHES. Ahem. And yet.
Apparently the plan is for this to be a 5 book series and maybe the story is really slow build up with a great payoff. But after slogging through the entire first book only to have it end with, well, not to give anything away, but with nothing, I am not sure I have that many hours to spare on 5 books.(less)
**spoiler alert** Really liked it, especially the implications around the evolution of technology and the impact on society and the responsibility (or...more**spoiler alert** Really liked it, especially the implications around the evolution of technology and the impact on society and the responsibility (or not) of government. But such advances in both weapons and health/life make me really curious about how humans react and adapt, and we didn't really see much of a window into that. Along those lines, I felt like I didn't really understand some of the characters or their motivations.
What motivated Hendrick? Did he really feel he was protecting society and had a greater calling? Was he just power hungry? Did he start as the former and evolve into the latter as a result of having such power? I think we're supposed to assume the "protecting society" thing was just a convenient excuse (based on his lying about fusion) but he really went off the rails as a crazy person without much underlying explanation. I felt the same about the idea that he was in love with Alexa. It made sense for the needs of the plot only.
We only saw glimpses of real character development, like when Grady's mentor was cooperating in exchange for his youth back.
And is Alexa an evolved human? Or an AI with biological components? She said she couldn't feel love, but I guess we are supposed to conclude that wasn't a technical limitation as a result of her wiring, but instead that she hadn't met the right person yet? Or did Grady end up with a Real Girl? I guess that part made me feel a bit uncomfortable because she was really talked up as being created as this perfect woman. (less)
Also not quite as good as the first, although better than the second, since it reunites the characters that the first book put so much work into inves...moreAlso not quite as good as the first, although better than the second, since it reunites the characters that the first book put so much work into investing us in.
And I did highlight some things. For instance:
"That's your first hint that something's alive. It says no... No is the heart of thinking."
"At the bottom of philosophy something very true and very desperate whispers: Everyone is hungry all the time. Everyone is starving. Everyone wants so much.. Everyone is hungry and not only for food - for comfort and love and excitement and the opposite of being alone. Almost everything awful anyone does is to get those things and keep them... Most often you have to make the world you want out of yourself."
"Though it is true that no one understands other people. Other people are the puzzle that will not be solved."
And as with the earlier books, some references that kids could surely never pick up on are scattered throughout. Such as a character named Turing who says:
"I am alive as makes on difference. I do all the things an alive thing does. Do you know another test for living."
I am sure I am a geek because I laughed and laughed at that.(less)
I bought this series for my 9-year niece for Christmas, so I figured I should read them first. The first is definitely the best and the world-making i...moreI bought this series for my 9-year niece for Christmas, so I figured I should read them first. The first is definitely the best and the world-making is great. There's a great adult layer to the writing that will go right over kids' heads. Sometimes, this layer is a bit much as it's pretty obvious preaching - the author is trying so hard to subtly tell readers about the world and how to best be in it. But other times, it's bits of clever writing.
An example that manages to be both kinds at once:
"This is for washing your wishes... For the wishes of one's old life wither and shrivel like old leaves if they are not replaced with new wishes when the world changes. And the world always changes. Wishes get slimy, and their colors fade, and soon they are just mud, like all the rest of the mud, and not wishes at all, but regrets. The trouble is, not everyone can tell when they ought to launder their wishes."
"I cannot help that readers will always insist on adventures, and though you can have grief without adventures, you cannot have adventures without grief."
The cleverness was best when the preachiness was more subtle, or was not anything children could understand:
"September had to admit that sailing at night by one's lonesome was so awfully pleasant she could hardly bear it."
"It becomes alive. It gets a name and griefs and ambitions and unhappy love affairs. It is not always a good bargain."
I also mostly liked the author-as-narrator conceit:
"[this] is a thing I may not describe to you. It is true that novelists are shameless and obey no decent law, and they are not to be trusted on any account, but some Mysteries even they must honor."
"She did not know what is was she saw. That is the disadvantage of being the heroine, rather than a narrator."
I maybe have only known an author to write themselves more into a story when Stephen King made himself as critical character in the Dark Tower series.
And I liked the recurring nods to the genres from which this series was born.
"There's more than one way between your world and ours. There's the changeling road, and there's Ravishing, and there's those that Stumble through a gap in the hedgerows or a mushroom ring or a tornado or a wardrobe full of winter coats." (less)
I liked this first book of the series best. I liked the backwards, skipping around method of storytelling and how things slowly revealed themselves. T...moreI liked this first book of the series best. I liked the backwards, skipping around method of storytelling and how things slowly revealed themselves. The other two books also use alternative methods of storytelling, but I think this one worked best.