It's groundbreaking by no means (and takes WAY too long to get to the good bits), but it is charming and engrossing - mostly thanks to the southern se...moreIt's groundbreaking by no means (and takes WAY too long to get to the good bits), but it is charming and engrossing - mostly thanks to the southern setting - and builds a giddily exciting mythology shrouded in the Civil War, crazy witch ancestors and awesome supernatural abilities that will probably be the main impetus for my continuation of the series.(less)
What I love about Shakespeare, or what I'm realizing I love about Shakespeare, is that behind all the obnoxious characters, awkward dialogue and obses...moreWhat I love about Shakespeare, or what I'm realizing I love about Shakespeare, is that behind all the obnoxious characters, awkward dialogue and obsessive need to off main characters, his works are really subtle. A guy who misses his dead father. A man ostracized from society faces insanity. A king decides to retire and faces the reality of death. At their core these aren't complicated works of fiction. I think King Lear is one of my favorites so far because of the way Shakespeare offs Lear, with two tiny words written in italics as Lear sees his thought-to-be-dead daughter subtly breathing - He dies.
As Dustin Hoffman said in what might be the most profound children's movie ever made, "The culmination of what may be the most influential work of dramatic literature is He dies. It takes a genius to come up with He dies. I know it's only natural to be sad, but not because of the words He dies, but because of the life we saw before them."
You know, I actually like a lot of things about this book. The characters are interesting, the plot, while minimal, is intriguing, the set-up is promi...moreYou know, I actually like a lot of things about this book. The characters are interesting, the plot, while minimal, is intriguing, the set-up is promising, it's just that one hang-up most people have with Shakespeare - the language. When I understand what's going one (which was WAY more often this time around, so thanks, college!) I could really get into it. Murder, incest, backstabbing, crazy chicks who like to hang out near rivers, I mean this thing is pretty much up my alley content wise. It is just so easy to get sucked out of a good story when you have absolutely no idea what a character is saying, what reference or obscure allusion the author is making, or what joke everyone is giggling about means. Because otherwise, I really didn't mind it this time around.(less)
I swear to god the next time I hear a little kid ask for "papa" in public I may burst into tears.
That's what the three stars are for: dripping atmosph...moreI swear to god the next time I hear a little kid ask for "papa" in public I may burst into tears.
That's what the three stars are for: dripping atmosphere and straight-to-the-gut emotion, but it dragged on and on and was devastatingly depressing pretty much the entire time.
Also, still not sure why McCarthy gets away with no quotation marks. I was used to it after having read No Country For Old Men (which, surprisingly, I much preferred), but... what's the point? Is it just his "thing" now, so we all just go along with it? This is no where near the language-torture-porn that Riddley Walker is, but, you know.. what's wrong with a few quotation marks for coherence here and there?(less)
A cool, creepy, claustrophobic and paranoia-induced chiller about an Antarctic research camp overrun by an alien entity that can imitate any form of l...moreA cool, creepy, claustrophobic and paranoia-induced chiller about an Antarctic research camp overrun by an alien entity that can imitate any form of life. Leans more toward scientific babble than sci-fi horror that Carpenter's 1980s remake wholly embraced. But it's still a super-quick read, and a great warning story to boot.(less)
This book is a challenge. Not in a the-writing-is-difficult sort of way (Larsson is a pro at prose), but in another way. You have to give it a chance...moreThis book is a challenge. Not in a the-writing-is-difficult sort of way (Larsson is a pro at prose), but in another way. You have to give it a chance to unwind itself, to let its characters breathe, to let its setting chill you, let its shadowy characters scare you, and let Lisbeth Salander grow into one of the best (if not the best) female protagonists ever. It's a slow burn. But you'll be happy you stuck around for the long haul.
(I will misspell names here. Give me the benefit of the doubt. It's late. And I'm too lazy to even Google.)
Essentially the story is one of Mikael Blomkvist, a financial reporter indicted by a libel case in which he was pitted against arch enemy Herr Winnerstrom. He gets mud slung in his face, is forced to retreat from his flailing magazine Millennium, and swiftly receives a mysterious offer to visit Hedeby Island, from an old businessman named Henrik Vanger.
Vanger wants Mikael to solve a 37 year old case involving the disappearance of Harriet Vanger. The set up of this is where the book finally takes off. It really builds into a nice, and almost Agatha Christie-esque mystery novel (Who killed the teenager on the island while everyone was distracted by the massive car crash? Professor Plum! In the dining room! With the candlestick!) towards the middle and end. And with a growing suspect list as intricate and deliciously suspect-y as the Vanger clan, Mikael has his work cut out for him.
Mikael is an immediately endearing character, being sensitive and vulnerable from his court sentence, and getting obsessed over Harriet's disappearance; it's a fun ride, reading his clever and odd ways of uncovering new evidence of the decades-old crime.
But the other main character is infinitely more cool. Lisbeth Salander. A 90 pound, tattooed, goth-dressing hacker. She's tough, self-confident and has one hell of a character arc. From her humble beginnings asserting her dominance over her sadistic government ward Advocat Bjurman (oh man that scene reminded me of Hard Candy in all the right ways) to her blooming relationship with Mikael, I loved her from first piercing. She is so beautifully pain-filled that by the end I wanted to hug her. Even though I knew she'd punch me in the kidney. The personal crisis she goes through in the book's closing pages is gut-wrenchingly emotional. This asocial and introverted girl that everyone sees as either deaf or retarted has true and confusing emotions, just like everyone else. She is likable because she is unlikable, and I can't wait to see what she does in the next books.
So, yeah, I gave it a 5 mostly because of Lisbeth. So what? The book did have a weird structure (not introducing the main plot until about 120 pages in, and then solving it with about 100 pages left to go), but I was never overtly bored. And yeah, all that technical babble about Swedish business and journalistic hierarchies sailed so far over my head I'm sure it bumped into a plane, but I obviously got plenty of pleasure from the book without understanding it fully. The main mystery was insanely satisfying to uncover, the antagonist was duly creepy and foreboding, the resolution was bittersweet and over-too-soon, and Larsson handled serious issues of rape and murder with a swift hand.
I have the swedish flick queued on Netflix instant, and am counting down the days to Fincher's American remake this december.
This book was definitely... different. I was a little lost in the beginning as to who was narrating and when Jack Nicholson's character would come in...moreThis book was definitely... different. I was a little lost in the beginning as to who was narrating and when Jack Nicholson's character would come in (pretty sure I thought he was the narrator at one point). But I'll just write that up to having just come off the clusterfuck of the stream-of-consciousness that was The Sound and the Fury.
But once you get really into it, it's quite enjoyable. The entire thing takes place on a mental ward at the local crazy-bin, and the characters are delightfully wacky and quirky. What I loved most was how we are seeing all of this, through the eyes of the one guy that never says a thing and claims to be deaf and mute. Obviously a lie since we are reading about what the guy is hearing, after all.
But along comes Randle McMurphy, gambler, ladies' man and general hound dog. He clashes immediately with the ward's figurehead and warden, Nurse Ratched, and their fights are the backbone of the book. He challenges her, opening up a room for the guys to gamble, sneaking in prostitutes, organizing an off-grounds field trip full of drinking and sex, and it is quite entertaining just to see how far he'll push her.
It's just the end that made this a four star for me. For such a generally happy and funny book (considering it's setting) the denouement completely lost me. I loved the lengths Nurse Ratched goes to quiet McMurphy, it really shows how someone wound so tight will always unravel. But what I didn't get was what the narrator does. I assume it was out of pity, but I dunno.
I hadn't been itching to read this, but I had generally been interested in it, so I won't use the word "forced" for it being a school book. Let's just say "scheduled", yeah? So as a book I was scheduled to read, it was definitely a great surprise. Besides the depressing ending.(less)
Oh, Mr. King. By now I knew I would at least enjoy this book. I'd seen the movie years ago, knew it was about aliens and their evil pet ass-skunks o...moreOh, Mr. King. By now I knew I would at least enjoy this book. I'd seen the movie years ago, knew it was about aliens and their evil pet ass-skunks or whatever, and that was it - sign me up, I'm in. But, wow. This thing is lovingly written, deeply disturbing and a new favorite of mine from him. Seems like I'm saying that a lot lately.
So I've yet to read IT (a feat I shall hope to attempt this Summer) but I still caught the similarities, and references, to that novel in Dreamcatcher. Four childhood best-friends (Pete, Henry, Jonesy and The Beav) save a severely handicapped kid from bullies and their lives slowly start to change. This back story is sprinkled throughout the main plot (occurring in present day New England) and it just all works and fits so well together. The boys' love of Duddits, whom they saved from a football player attempting to shove dried dog shit into his mouth, is so upfront and raw that it surprises you every time.
But then the horror (this is a Stephen King book) starts. So the boys are taking their annual fall hunting trip and an alien ship crash-lands a couple miles north of them (this, and other coincidences unexplained, I will get to later). The aliens themselves, referred to here as "Grayboys" turn out to be simply hosts to an infectious intergalactic form of the common cold called byrus. If you incubate this for about 2 days your bowls become the gestation site of a terrible alien shit-weasel that, ah, eats your insides for nourishment before it evacuates itself from your plumbing. Ouch.
It seems wrong but I LOVED these things. They were so creepily realized in the book, and the fact that they died almost immediately in the cold environment didn't defer for one second their monstrosity. I want to quote here the death of one character in particular I read over and over. It's gruesomeness was exquisite, in my opinion:
"A creature beyond belief appeared in the rear view mirror. It tore off ____'s ear and then struck at their cheek, punched through into his mouth, and latched onto his jaw at the inner gum-line. And then the shit-weasel tore off the side of _____'s face as a hungry man might tear a drumstick off a chicken."
The creature continues to slit the character's throat and rip off his "plumbing." It's horrible and tragic, and each character's death is up front and in your face, and it really makes you connect directly with their demise. Which I loved, especially when the members of the main characters start dropping.
My only complaint here was lack of explanation. So did Duddits give them ESP just because he was retarted? I honestly thought he was an alien the whole book. That was a bust. And despite the characters pointing out the HUGE coincidence that the aliens crash landed right in the backyard of the only being on the planet who could possibly stand up to them (again WHY Duddits?), it's still a bet of a stretch.
But, otherwise. With its deep intricacies of character and plot, turning your normal end-of-the-world-alien-invasion into a more personal and rewarding experience, Dreamcatcher deserves way more than the "worst of King" lists it always seems prevalent in.(less)
Fleshed out, it could achieve greatness. However, what we get is a 70 page splatter fest of a wholly unlikeable old guy killing mostly-innocent people...moreFleshed out, it could achieve greatness. However, what we get is a 70 page splatter fest of a wholly unlikeable old guy killing mostly-innocent people for the mere fact that they kinda made him angry. Thank god it seems the movie is adding a cast of diverse characters, and Bruce Willis seems to be bringing comedy into it. Because this was way too serious and way too short to be anything enjoyable. If a 90 minute movie can pull off a solid action movie out of this material, I think congratulations will be in order.(less)
Oh Scott Pilgrim. I still have no idea what the fuck is going on a good, oh I dunno 75% of the time, but how I love thee. I laughed out loud more time...moreOh Scott Pilgrim. I still have no idea what the fuck is going on a good, oh I dunno 75% of the time, but how I love thee. I laughed out loud more times in this short comic than I do in most full fledged books. I think that's saying a lot for this series. It's just pure fun. (And a little gorier, this time around.)
This part of the movie is gonna have an extra dose of crazy-sauce, is all I can say.
Well, goodbye, Scott. I will miss you and your man-child behavior. (I get +10 XP for writing this review right?)(less)
Hilarious, brilliant, and endearingly off-beat. It's written with a quick pace and wit, making it a super quick read (just under the hour mark for me)...moreHilarious, brilliant, and endearingly off-beat. It's written with a quick pace and wit, making it a super quick read (just under the hour mark for me). Although I am not quite sure what these "subspace highway" things are, how all the characters seem to know how to take down a bad guy (and with style), or any other rules of this crazy little book's universe, but i do know one thing. I loved every frame of it.(less)
I Am Number Four had all the makings of a badass new series. Alien main character with superpowers? Check. Intergalactic war brewing on the edges of...more I Am Number Four had all the makings of a badass new series. Alien main character with superpowers? Check. Intergalactic war brewing on the edges of our solar system, heading towards Earth? Check. An opening prologue that terrifies, but completely lies about the tone of this book? Check. Why didn't I absolutely love it? Because it kinda turned out to be a sappy romance hidden behind the awesome and foreboding messages on the cover and back of the book. But, I have to say, it still managed to enthrall me. Stupid emotions.
The basic set up is this: Number Four is an alien. From Planet Lorien to be exact. Evil aliens, called Mogadorians, ripped his home world a new one and only he and 8 other kids (and their protectors) escaped in time. Now they're on Earth, hiding, waiting for their Legacies to develop so they can kick Mogadorian ass. Oh and they can only be killed in order. And since Three was just slaughtered in Kenya, Four better watch his back.
I liked this set up and the rules placed for the characters to live by (If any two of the kids come together, the charm is broken and any of them can be killed immediately.) It sets a constant dread right from the get go. It's just the book doesn't really hold it for very long. After escaping from Florida, Number Four and his protector, Henri, move to Paradise, Ohio. Four quickly develops a crush on a fellow classmate, Sarah. Their long looks to each other in class, nuzzling in bed, and 5 hour late night talks felt wrong somehow. Like some 14 year old girl with Justin Beiber posters over her bed and a "Team Jacob" shirt snuck into the author's room at night and added the scenes.
I guess I was expecting such a straight up "guy's book," and more brutality from the antagonists. (P.S. thanks Charlie Higson, The Enemy now makes anything without the disemboweling of 10 year olds seem like fucking Sesame Street to me.)
The characters were enjoyable.. for the most part. The main romantic lead, Sarah, is SO perfect it gets sick. Like, how can she be so immidiately on board with learning aliens are coming to destroy Earth and her newest classmate comes from a different solar system? You're a small town cheerleader for fucks sake. I just wanted a little more from her.
Unfortunately, the writing felt sort of, well, awkward at times. Here's an excerpt of Four in distress: "It feels as though it's moving, digging itself deeper, the pain spreading as if I've been poisoned. On my stomach, in agony. I can't pull it free.." That part "on my stomach in agony" feels choppy, like a whole sentence was needed. This happens numerous times throughout the book.
There's also an unfortunate redundant feel to the writing. The author will, multiple times, state the purpose of something, or the emotions of a character. There's this chest that contains a bunch of secrets of the Loric people that Henri carries, and I swear across at least four pages whenever it's mentioned, its not just "the Chest" its "the Loric Chest, which contains all the things hidden from me." I got it the first time, okay?
I have to admit, I read this book because I heard that it was already being made into a movie by the guy that directed Disturbia and Eagle Eye, two infinitely re-watchable movies to me. (Not to mention being produced by Michael Bay and Stephen Speilberg.) That first glee of finding all this out set a high bar, and its not that the book didn't pass it. The set up was great, the alien mythos is well established, and all the characters really grew on me, to the point where a death in the end of the book caused near tears, but the plot as a whole was just too slow. Not enough happens between the crack of a whip opening and the super awesome giant alien monster battle of a finale.
I still quite enjoyed it and eagerly await part two. And knowing that its the beginning of a planned six book series, that's a lot coming from me.(less)
The Running Man was slightly tamer compared to some of King's other works I've read. But the idea alone, which is very Hunger Games, kept me hungr...more The Running Man was slightly tamer compared to some of King's other works I've read. But the idea alone, which is very Hunger Games, kept me hungrily awaiting what would happen next. The last couple of chapters are the best, becoming almost a study on what happens when you take everything, literally EVERYTHING, from a person, put them in a desperate life or death situation, and see what happens next.
Said life or death situation in this book is the proverbial "Running Man." Set in 2025, in a dystopic USA where anyone can enter into the Network's hellish Games for a cash reward. There are a multitude of these Games, most memorable being when contestants are forced to run on a treadmill answering trivia questions. Wrong answers increments the speed, and it goes on until a certain amount of questions are answered correctly, or, well, you die of a heart attack.
But, of course, our hero Richards is in The Running Man. Basically, you are let loose into the world, with only a couple thousand New Dollars in hand and a 12 hour head start. After that, the Hunters (expertly trained Military persons) are released, and they track you down to the death. Every person you kill, you get a hundred New Dollars, and every day you survive, you get even more. Make it a full 30 days, and you're golden the rest of your life. The downside, of course, is that anyone who sees you, tapes you, or reports you to the police also gets a cash reward. It's basically you versus the world.
Richards is doing this for his dying five year old, sick with the flu, him and his wife no where near paying for the cost of medicine she strongly needs. He's desperate when he signs up for the Games, and becomes increasingly desperate as they go along.
The rest of the book is a series of random meet ups with people that help, and hurt, Richards' progress. Unfortunately, the first half of the book is kinda just a road trip from hell, as we see Richards just trying to stay alive. Not much action-related happens.
However, without giving too much away, I'll just say if the first half of the book felt as if King was holding back, then the last chapters would be when he realized its time to let this guy get some revenge on a corrupt government that's wronged him from the start.