To my surprise this turned out to be two books, as shortish story "Eye of Cat" is followed by "Isle of the Dead". Moreover, I actually preferred the lTo my surprise this turned out to be two books, as shortish story "Eye of Cat" is followed by "Isle of the Dead". Moreover, I actually preferred the latter story, though both have their merits.
"Eye of Cat" follows that style of plot device which I enjoyed in Zelazny's "Amber" series - namely, an occasional psychedelic trip through alternate dimensions and metaphors made tangible. The story as a whole is something of a mood piece which starts out with straight-up science fiction intrigue, becomes a high-stakes chase, and then morphs into a lengthy battle between the protagonist and his own past. I appreciated the fact this battle occasionally spilled out into the story's supporting characters, some of whom actually commanded more of my attention than the protagonist.
All in all, "Eye of Cat" wasn't quite what I expected but was nevertheless an enjoyable journey through native American mythology and some finely-judged exposition of backstory for humanity as a whole at that time.
"Isle of the Dead", on the other hand, matched up what I enjoy most about Zelazny's writing with an altogether Banksian kind of science fiction scenario, and I couldn't get enough of it. The protagonist is flawed but enjoyable, and I enjoyed the well-paced journey into alien pantheons and cultures. There was a moment when I lost track of the book's antagonists, and who was the more pressing threat - a rare moment where I was more confused than the protagonist - but this was resolved quickly and made for a satisfying climax.
Where the book really shone was, I feel, in its commentary on death. Sandow's reflections on his religion's death rites touched me, as someone who also creates her own worlds and hopes to leave some form of legacy. I presume it was also a personal commentary for the author, whose worlds I have derived great enjoyment from. This latter short story is worth a read even if only for that moment....more
It would be hard to summarise this book because what it does is allow us to spend more time with a few of Night Vale's (aLike the podcast, but moreso.
It would be hard to summarise this book because what it does is allow us to spend more time with a few of Night Vale's (admittedly more fuzzily-defined) characters, in a manner to which we listeners have become accustomed. For example, I couldn't exactly say that the book's main plot was paced in an entirely satisfactory way - the inevitable ending is, in fact, kept away from us for quite some time - but that's not what the book is for. Instead it paints a picture of very real and relatable human problems, with gob-smacking and brilliant analogy. The craftsmanship with which Josh's changeable, teenage identity is portrayed is brought out in force, all the way up to our climactic and revealing encounter with Troy.
Fans of the podcast should, of course, read this. I don't believe it would have the same resonance amongst those experiencing Night Vale for the first time, but then like others, I've become so deeply submerged in this universe and its unique telling that I find such a thing hard to judge. The book - like the podcast - is touching, horrifying, gripping and amusing all at once. I can't really say more than that....more
This read.. terribly. I scarcely made it a few pages in before having to abandon its staccato phrasing, massive front-loading of characters and shalloThis read.. terribly. I scarcely made it a few pages in before having to abandon its staccato phrasing, massive front-loading of characters and shallow attempts at backstory.
Within a few minutes we go from a to-and-fro between the protagonist and her mother (a conversation which just seemed to be arranged in a confusing manner), to the introduction of a male character, and a handbrake turn into him attempting to strike the protagonist for no apparent reason. There's no build-up, no pacing, and the characters manage to flee the state to a relative's house in the space between chapters - but not before they've apparently shrugged off this attempted assault from someone they know. Next stop: 'edgy' swearing and "let's find incubi"!
Charming and (from what I can gather) very Swedish. In saying that, I mean that "Yaa haat-har Lawn-dawn" is a gently wry look at a moment in the artisCharming and (from what I can gather) very Swedish. In saying that, I mean that "Yaa haat-har Lawn-dawn" is a gently wry look at a moment in the artist's life, which happens to be focused upon London. I found it very relatable: at times unsettling, daunting, but also filled with the excitement which does seem to percolate through hostels. Honestly, I may simply be imposing my own rather stark memories of moving abroad and staying in a hostel upon the work, but the pacing and artwork felt evocative.
I also commend the book on its bilingual approach. The narration is given in English, as are all of the English-language conversations she had - but Swedish dialogue is translated in callouts below each strip, and there are pronunciation guides for the various town names. Although the dialogue is simplistic by design, it's nice to be able to switch minds like this, at points in Gustafsson's story where 'Swedishness' sits in starkest contrast to, say, live in Tower Hamlets.
The experience is rounded off for me by Gustafsson's art style, which is very clean, and quite alien in places. Most other characters in the story are depicted as large-mouthed, pupil-less caricatures who remain nevertheless humanoid. One might perhaps draw parallels to the puppets of "Avenue Q". The artist's avatar is an androgynous, long-snouted creature whose somewhat depressed look only contributes to the feeling of distance from this foreign city and the quirks of living out of hostels for a while....more
This is definitely as sequel, insofar as it lacks the novelty of book 1 and occasionally languishes in the aftermath of that book's events - but it doThis is definitely as sequel, insofar as it lacks the novelty of book 1 and occasionally languishes in the aftermath of that book's events - but it does this well, with a likeable protagonist and the author's continued penchant for threading local history and cultural quirks into the plotline. There's humour, deep-rooted and discomforting encounters, and a richness which does keep me invested in PC Grant's London. Sign me up for more....more
I wasn't entirely sure to expect, and nor am I entirely confident in my reflections upon the book, but I know this: I found it to be an enjoyable rompI wasn't entirely sure to expect, and nor am I entirely confident in my reflections upon the book, but I know this: I found it to be an enjoyable romp, despite some seemingly bizarre turns (a reflection of the central premise, perhaps?) and a lack of character. This was contrasted against a plot which explores some quite abrupt life events, and I think that the way the author dealt with these is what gave the book its unexpected charm. Nothing I've read before has attempted to deal with domestic abuse, alcoholism, attempted rape, the breakup of a family and a few other subsequent events which shall not be spoiled here.. all focused upon a young man who can teleport himself away in the blink of an eye.
The book doesn't spend much time at all exploring the fact this power comes at such an advantageous time, whereas some other texts might have slapped their protagonist into angsty monologues. Nor does it spend any time attempting to explain the root of this ability, which is simultaneously frustrating and refreshing. I only miss that because I expect it, but instead I find I must read on......more