Things I liked: -The protagonist, Flynne, is awesome. Just generally a kickass straightforward indepenThis was a tricky book that I *mostly* enjoyed.
Things I liked: -The protagonist, Flynne, is awesome. Just generally a kickass straightforward independent woman. Gibson writes women really well, in my opinion, and this book is no exception. -The plot is exciting and makes you want to keep going to figure out what the hell is going on. -as with all Gibson books, the glory is in the details. There was obviously a ton of thought put in to fleshing out a believable and intricate alternate world. Highlights include Ash's tattoos - living drawings of animals on her skin that run and hide to her back when encountering strangers (creepy and charming at the same time); the "cosplay zones" and assembled landscape of London, and of course all the cool tech stuff.
Things I didn't like so much: -it's really tough to keep up with what's going on, especially at the beginning. I stuck with it because I liked Flynne, and I was intrigued about where it was going, but I did have to make a list in the back to keep up with all the characters and neologisms. If you imagination and interest isn't sparked in the first 50 pages I seriously doubt you'll enjoy getting through the rest of this. -there are aspects given way too much attention and others that I would have liked to see more fleshed out. The assemblers, the patchers, the cosplay zones, Daedra/Aelita and their family (and the reasons they do the things they do), Hamed, etc. None of these aspects were given enough attention for my liking. This is also a testament to Gibson's ability to carve out cool concepts. If these things/people weren't so interesting and pivotal to the conclusion then I wouldn't complain about their underdevelopment, but they are REALLY cool and end up being REALLY important, so I'm confused as to why more time wasn't spent developing these awesome concepts. If this is another trilogy I'm hoping these aspects are given more time. -the conclusion just...happens, really quick, and then you're left kind of confused and given a sweet ending that isn't really congruent with the rest of the book. Anti-climatic to say the least.
It would be cool to see Flynne again. I'm hoping for another book in these worlds.
There were parts of this that I enjoyed, but I feel like it lagged a lot. Was this an attempt to build tension? I'm not sure but it didn't work for meThere were parts of this that I enjoyed, but I feel like it lagged a lot. Was this an attempt to build tension? I'm not sure but it didn't work for me. I started to skim sections before realizing that getting through this felt more like a chore than an enjoyable experience. This was mostly because I hated all of the characters, and I really don't feel that they were complex enough to warrant that much meandering backstory. Each one of those boys is worse than the next. And there is a complete absence of empathy or humanity in this whole story. I like horror but I can only deal with so many descriptions of animal and human torture. If there is a some redemption to be found at the conclusion, I certainly don't the patience to get there. ...more
This is a really excellent, enjoyable and accessible book examining a series of case studies of urban and architectural development throughout Latin AThis is a really excellent, enjoyable and accessible book examining a series of case studies of urban and architectural development throughout Latin America. I was expecting this to be a more academic text, but McGuirk's tone is conversational and easy to follow, as well as precise and meaningful when it branches in to critical analysis. The are two main arguments that I get from this text. 1) Instead of demarcating between "formal" and "informal" cities, with the latter being seen as temporary and problematic phases of urbanity that will ideally lead to formalization, we have to consider informal cities as possessing their own possibilities. Informal cities demonstrate alternative forms of social, economic, and political organization rather than inherently "bad" ones. 2) Architectural development is not an end in itself. Its political value is in the way that alternative forms of urban and architectural development deploy certain organizations, politics, and communities in new configurations (and by "alternative" and "new configurations" I mean against the grain of neoliberal development). These are not particularly novel observations (as I'm sure McGuirk would acknowledge). The excellence of this book is the way that these messages are intertwined with really solid and fascinating first-hand accounts of these spaces and interviews with the leaders and the communities that make these "radical cities" possible. McGuirk is more of an observer letting people who were directly involved in these developments a platform to narrate their own ideas and experiences. ...more
I keep wanting for Tana French to take me back to the awesomeness of In The Woods, and I am consistently left wanting. This is probably unfair. FaithfI keep wanting for Tana French to take me back to the awesomeness of In The Woods, and I am consistently left wanting. This is probably unfair. Faithful Place is good in its own right, but less enticing as the previous two novels, perhaps only because of where my subjective interests lie. For one, the mystery didn't capture my attention. I predicted the ending pretty quickly, basically as soon as certain characters were introduced. The conclusion didn't satisfy me at all. The mystery itself feels secondary to the other narratives going on, namely, those about family and class relations, specifically, an examination of class in small-town Ireland. All of this was dealt with in French's characteristically nuanced and insighful way. Those themes are very present in both In The Woods and The Likeness, but here they take center stage. Its like the underlying tension between working class townspeople and rich intellectual kids that appeared in The Likeness was fully fledged out and developed here in the tension between Frank - the prodigal son cop - and his working class family. So, although I liked these elements, I wanted a more well-developed and thrilling mystery. Second, I'm not a fan of Frank as a narrator. I much preferred Cassie from The Likeness, and because I read these pretty much back to back, I felt kind of let down and uninterested in Frank. He's just much less interesting to me than Cassie. ...more
Update: Finished, still feel like it was strong in some ways but the third part was way too long and I really stopped caring. I feel like this book coUpdate: Finished, still feel like it was strong in some ways but the third part was way too long and I really stopped caring. I feel like this book could be at least 100 pages shorter, to be honest. Its a shame because the second part was really strong and I still feel the same about the aspects I note below.
--- So far, I am pretty captivated by this one, but more for academic rather than emotional reasons. I think this novel is really good. It reminds me of Virginia Woolf, with all the walking, female flaneur passages. My main interests here are 1) Space. Waters uses spatial relations to reflect or amplify different social relations. At first I was kind of bored with the descriptions of such-and-such cleaning task, of the house. But as the novel progresses its easy to see how the house is a metaphor for a certain type of domesticity. There are certain queer thresholds, like the stairway, the foyer, the garden, the bathroom - all areas that are either liminal or abject in some way; these spaces are where queer potential or tension happens. 2) Queer affect. I basically think this novel should be read as a companion to Sara Ahmed's book Queer Phenomenology. There are so many poignant passages where nothing much is happening except a certain kind of "moment" or connection that, in my mind, illustrates what Ahmed is talking about when she discusses queer orientations. These moments are amazing and help to subvert the more standard melodrama of the surface plot. 3) Neat gendered juxtapositions, and their subversion. The best example I can think of is the night that Len is attacked, and comes in bleeding. He is marked by violence throughout, becoming the symbol of a fractured masculinity that is referenced throughout (i.e. post-war masculinity in the process of redefinition, class blurring, inability to provide materially leading to unrest). But Len's attack occurs in the same day that the first kiss happens. So there is, at first, a pretty typical masculine = violence, feminine = love dichtomy going on, but this is also frequently challenged (or queered). Looking forward to reading the rest. ...more
This is a gorgeous confusing poem of a book, but ultimately extremely rewarding if you invest the time and the energy. A knowledge of postcolonial theThis is a gorgeous confusing poem of a book, but ultimately extremely rewarding if you invest the time and the energy. A knowledge of postcolonial theory would definitely help, as Brodber is dealing with a lot of really interesting issues pertaining to race, religion, colonialism, sexuality, gender...really, its a feat that she addresses these issues so well in such a short text and with such eloquence. ...more
Ah, I really loved this book. It is the literary equivalent of a warm cup of tea, if slightly bitter when you get to the end of the cup. There are soAh, I really loved this book. It is the literary equivalent of a warm cup of tea, if slightly bitter when you get to the end of the cup. There are so many sentence gems - everything is poignant and beautifully described, particularly the most horrific parts. What most intrigued me is the timelessness of the narrative. It was very difficult to determine when this was going on, though there are hints throughout: the reference to Mel Gibson, Jane Fonda workout videos, Salman Rushdie. And in a more general sense, the characters, setting and themes feel timeless. For a contemporary novel it felt remarkably like a classic modernist work, like Evelyn Waugh or F Scott Fitzgerald. A lot of people take issue with the arrogance and pretentiousness of the characters, which is kind of the point, no? They are each fascinating and horrible in their own right - BUT, they are each so well crafted, and Tartt does a really good job at representing fully human characters settled neatly into a realistic grey area, that I found it hard not to empathize with each of them at different turns. I think that while their all-consuming passion for the classics might come across as pretentious to some, it was a more oblique and, frankly, a more interesting way of depicting the obsessiveness of that period of early adulthood. Particularly in college, when everything feels dynamic and fascinating but you're too drunk or high half the time to really commit and come to terms with the less idealized sides of what you study, or have committed to. I think she captured that period of life perfectly, in all its intensity and bittersweetness. My main critique is that here, and in The Goldfinch, as well, Tartt's female characters really play such a minor role and end up being props for the male protagonist's development into adulthood. This is not to say they are not interesting characters; Camillia fascinated me. But she felt more like a symbolic cipher than a fully developed woman with agency, and the male characters are undoubtedly better drawn.
The slow burn at the beginning is really captivating, moving from whimsical to uncanny at a good pace. I liked that the haunting took unique forms forThe slow burn at the beginning is really captivating, moving from whimsical to uncanny at a good pace. I liked that the haunting took unique forms for each of the family members, which isn't exactly an original take but I thought it was done mostly well here. Newman explores gendered tropes in a way that sometimes felt interesting, at other times verged on problematic or cliche. The men (well, one man, one boy) both adopt uber masculine patterns of behaviour - the boy lives an imaginary second-life as a soldier, and the husband/father becomes an aggressive and abusive patriarch. The women both fell into some version of the cliche hysterical woman: the Mother rebels against heteronormative family life (and she is constantly haunted by the possibility of abandoned queer desire, epitomized by her "witch" friend), and her daughter becomes anorexic in an attempt to deal with body dysmorphia after a boy breaks up with her. If the conclusion was more solid and clearly subverted these tropes, I would have enjoyed this a lot more. But often the message is muddled. Ultimately the conclusion left me unsatisfied. It was altogether too easy an ending considering the complex topics and relationships that were opened up....more
This book comes across as a light summer read, but there are some interesting things going on here that kept my interest. As other reviewers have noteThis book comes across as a light summer read, but there are some interesting things going on here that kept my interest. As other reviewers have noted, none of the characters are at all likeable. Fortunately or unfortunately the likeability of the protagonist doesn't really determine whether I like a book or not. Some of the best protagonists in literature are profoundly unlikeable. Mabel is not the moral counterpoint to the corrupt Winslows, she is one of them from the start, or rather, I think the point is that we all have some "Winslow" inside of us - the capacity to manipulate in order to gain power or a sense of belonging. Mabel is essentially infected early by the Winslows and her own coming-of-age corresponds with her "becoming" a Winslow. At the start of the novel she is still a girl, and by the end of the ordeal she is hardened (a point brought home by the physical transformation that she goes through). I didn't read the ending as particularly optimistic, because I don't trust Mabel as a narrator. By the end of the novel, she is literally and figuratively a Winslow, and whether or not she was able to break the family's cycle of generational corruption...I'm not convinced. I think my favourite thing about this novel is that eerie uncertainty that runs throughout, all the way to the end. Things remain unspoken and hidden in the background, only this time, it is Mabel constructing her own surface story to hide what lies beneath. Yeah, cliche, I know. But I liked it. ...more
I really wish I had read this 10 years ago, when I would have responded to this book with the fierce political optimism that it deserves. UnfortunatelI really wish I had read this 10 years ago, when I would have responded to this book with the fierce political optimism that it deserves. Unfortunately, I am reading it now, having read way too much political and social theory not to feel a bit let down with how didactic and old-fashioned this feels. It reads more like a treatise in parts than an actual novel, and that distanced me from the narrative. There are sf novels more effective to me, personally, because they subtly interrogate political issues without including solid pages of speeches about solidarity and brotherhood. Don't get me wrong - these ideas are awesome and I thoroughly respect this book. But it certainly feels dated, both in terms of its socio-political outlook and its representation of gender. Now that I've let it percolate a bit, it is the more subtle aspects that are the most riveting, and that will stick with me: Shevek's relationship with Takver, who was easily my favourite character; those mobiles - "occupations of space;" The story where the boys learn about prisons and how this episode establishes a theme that runs throughout; The interesting musings on temporality and the present/past relation. In short, I think this book is most effective when the message is more subtle - shown to us, rather than told (via one of Shevek's epic but annoying-to-me speeches). ...more