It took me four months to finish this book. And not because it was bad. Because speed-reading a Game of Thrones book is not the point. Soaking up ever...moreIt took me four months to finish this book. And not because it was bad. Because speed-reading a Game of Thrones book is not the point. Soaking up every syllable and character name and description and history is the point. I love this book. But it destroyed me emotionally. And I may never recover.
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)
I don't think I've ever encountered a fictional world so full of moral blind spots and gray areas than in Westeros. And I'm in f*cking love with it be...moreI don't think I've ever encountered a fictional world so full of moral blind spots and gray areas than in Westeros. And I'm in f*cking love with it because of that.
The shifting perspectives per chapter never feels gimmicky or useless. You get the feeling when you read this series that each moment, each piece of dialogue and each thought means something. There are never any throwaway chapters, never nothing that doesn't pertain to the overall arc of the series. You may think they are early on in the book (*coughTheoncough*), but Martin always has a twist up his sleeve to prove to you that even annoying psychopaths have a narrative purpose.
You get the feeling that he's known where he's going with this from the opening line of book one, and who will all live and die to see it by the time the series is done. It gives you a sense of confidence in the author as you read. As if that, in someone else's hands, the dozens of protagonists, locations, and sheer scale of the thing could have fallen apart at the seams. Like you're safe as you read it, all snuggled up in the insane, twisty plot.
Which is ironic, being that most of those characters themselves are in constant threat of being beheaded, their heads stuck on spikes for all the realm to see.
I would pay the iron price for some sort of anomaly in time and space to bring me every book from the future so I can just sit down and read how it all ends.(less)
Okay, I admit, it was truly hard to get through and I wasn't loving it in the beginning. That changed fast. It's fascinating to read a book placed in...moreOkay, I admit, it was truly hard to get through and I wasn't loving it in the beginning. That changed fast. It's fascinating to read a book placed in such a dark, dangerous and foreboding world and have a majority of the tale be told from viewpoints of children. Arya, Sansa, Jon, Robb, Bran, Daenerys. The oldest is fifteen and he ends up the figurehead for a war. And Dany is just straight up badass. Easily one of my new favorite female fictional characters.
I'm not watching season two of the show until I read A Clash of Kings. I think watching the show first definitely ruined every major twist for book one. I'd rather Mr. Martin piss me off with the death of his main characters in the medium he intended: his novels.
There's no real way to avoid this so I'm just going to start with it: this is Game of Thrones in space. It's also not at all, but mostly it is. The st...moreThere's no real way to avoid this so I'm just going to start with it: this is Game of Thrones in space. It's also not at all, but mostly it is. The story of a small, seemingly unimportant action causing dominoes to fall and lead to an unimaginably big war with all manner of people picking sides and a supernatural entity waiting in the wings that no one wants to talk about. But the detailed minutiae, the raw world-building, the head-spinning political maneuvers and plot twists that make A Song of Ice and Fire feel like you're dining on fine steak when you read it, just aren't here. If ASOIAF is filet mignon, then Leviathan Wakes is a Big Mac. Blunt, obvious, absolutely delicious in the moment but with the tiniest guilt leftover once you're done with it. And it's absolutely worth the carbs.
Telling the story (in the always binge-worthy alternating of character perspective every chapter) of, at its grandest intentions, an intergalactic war sparked by the good intentions of XO Jim Holden. And, at its most intimate level, the human interactions and reactions (mostly between Holden and Detective Miller) to that war. It's a very classic set-up: Holden is young and naive and thinks that humanity as a whole will do the right thing given the chance (remember how I said he accidentally incites a war? I wonder what the author's saying about humanity there...).
Miller, unsurprisingly, is older, battle-worn, a no-bullshit cop on the hunt for a missing girl who has mysterious ties to some very nasty forces that may be behind the entire conflict. When they talk it sounds like those angels and devils that popped up on characters' shoulders in old cartoons. But Corey finds the humor in it, injecting unexpected actions into Holden and Miller's characters and really tearing apart their subconscious on a chapter-by-chapter basis. There's a small issue in the second half of the book (once their story lines converge) where chapters bleed into one another and begin shedding light on the fact that their voices and internal monologues sound fairly similar. It's awkward and took me out of the book a few times, having to quickly remind myself who I was reading from, but it definitely didn't ruin it for me.
And the reason it didn't is because I love the bluntness of this book. There's something absolutely liberating about reading the word "Zombie" in a book that has zombies that makes me want to pump my fist in the air. I mean really, did the world prior to the apocalypse in The Walking Dead never have zombie fiction? These people should be screaming "HOLY SHIT ZOMBIES", instead they're spending time coming up with clever ways around the word, thinking it adds an air of class to the proceedings and makes it less of a genre show. Shit drives me crazy.
There are Vomit Zombies in Leviathan Wakes. Five sentences after these Vomit Zombies are introduced, the main character - and not even the brash, young main character, the old, grizzled, everything is black-and-white main character, I'm talking about - literally says the words "Vomit Zombies." It's so completely ridiculous, but works so well in building the world these people live in. Sometimes the dialogue takes a hit for the team in its stilted, trying-to-be-clever department, but for every cringe-worthy moment where Holden flirts with Naomi, there's a gem like this:
"Way I see it, there's three ways this can go," Miller said. "One, we find your ship still in dock, get the meds we need, and maybe we live. Two, we try to get to the ship, and along the way we run into a bunch of mafia thugs. Die gloriously in a hail of bullets. Three, we sit here and leak out of our eyes and assholes."
There aren't any subtleties here, Corey gives the dialogue that seems like it should be Holden's to Miller (and then vice versa), and it shows shades of gray you didn't realize were there before, creating characters that actually feel like live human beings that have more than one defining personality trait. It's also just a fucking hilarious line.
And speaking of Holden and Miller, although it's not mined nearly enough, there are actual sweet and touching moments between the two that easily catch you off guard after reading lines about ass-holes leaking. Their competing world-views (Holden trying to save everyone and Miller thinking it's okay if the few die so the many can live) actually help surprise not only the reader in the moment of genuine sweetness in the middle of the book, but Holden and Miller, too. It's probably the most subtle the book ever gets, actually.
The big problem here, running back to that Game of Thrones comparison, is that there's no personification to the sides of the war. We know Earth and Mars are fighting and the Belt is on its own side and that there are strings being pulled behind the scenes by a shadowy organization, but even the closest thing the book comes to having a villain is cut short before we get real answers. Earth and Mars just hate each other and after Holden slips up in the novel's opening chapters, claiming his ship was destroyed by a Martian stealth ship, Earth has a reason to go after them. But since these are planets at war, and not the devious Lannisters and courageous Starks, it's hard to personify their motivations. I'm not saying it's Corey's fault not including characters that would have done that, because it would have probably come off as simplified, blanketing the motivations of one person onto a planet, it's just one of those things you have to take in stride with the grandness of the story that's being told. And I just found it hard to get invested in the faceless war.
Which is unfortunate, given that the far more interesting aspect of the novel is seen much less: the alien species that shot a missile of goop at Earth when the planet was a mass of protoplasmic marshes, missed, and caused the other plot in the book to take place. (Aka Vomit Zombies) I'm assuming this is explored further in the abundant sequels, which I eagerly await reading.
And that's the other thing about Leviathan Wakes, it definitely feels like the first book in a series. A lot of time is built up introducing Holden and Miller (They don't even meet until nearly 300 pages into the book), giving reason to the interplanetary war that seems a bit too neatly tied up by the end, and with a cliffhanger regarding the alien goop that is all-too cliffhanger-y. I'm also questioning the big, bold quotes on the back of these books that claim it to be a hollywood blockbuster in book form. There's action, sure, but this is definitely a book where characters use words to get out of a tough spot more often than bullets. Which is all fine and good, it just makes the resulting finale a bit of a whimper more than a bang.
All the same, I will read the crap out of this series, and all it's spin-off novellas, until Corey (who's actually two guys, one of which is George RR Martin's assistant, go figure) is sick and tired of writing about Vomit Zombies. I will now lead you with a list of my favorite quotes from the book, further proof of it's ingenious stupidity.
"Pleasure in killing hadn't come until after Julie, and it wasn't really pleasure as much as the brief cessation of pain."
"I've seen you looking at me. I know exactly what those looks mean, because I spent four years on the other side of them. But I only got your attention when I was the only female on board, and that's not good enough for me." YOU GO, GIRL.
"All his smiles looked like he was hearing a good joke at a funeral."
"There's a right thing to do," Holden said. "You don't have a right thing, friend," Miller said. "You've got a whole plateful of maybe a little less wrong."
You know how sometimes you hear about this book for years and years being the impetus for an entire genre and some great masterwork? Then, during the...moreYou know how sometimes you hear about this book for years and years being the impetus for an entire genre and some great masterwork? Then, during the intervening years of hearing about it and reading it, you read books of the same genre and love them and then finally get to that one book that birthed the others (metaphorically), and you just don't get it? I mean, you totally get that this one book is the reason for the ones you love to even exist, but now the first book is just too old and dated for you to really enjoy? And you kinda just want to get back to those good ol' modern ones that make sense and aren't a slog to get through and actually make SENSE?
Did I say that twice? Sorry.
Oh but Molly was cool. Yeah, she was highly over-sexualized, but she had lizard-glass eyes and cried through her mouth... so it kinda made up for it.(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.
Utterly epic. The sense of scale and span of time covered is astounding. I can't say more without giving away its earl-on narrative twist, but needles...moreUtterly epic. The sense of scale and span of time covered is astounding. I can't say more without giving away its earl-on narrative twist, but needless to say, this is one fun ride. It has a lot to say, but every page, every word, serves its purpose. And it has enough action (vampire battles, car chases, hell it has a runaway goddamn train) to move the proceedings along nicely.
Read this. The cliffhanger is jaw-dropping, the sequels are set up on a grander scale than this one, and the writing is as fluid and compulsively readable as any other book I've read in years. One of my new favorites of adult literature.
Finally, you guys, a book that makes vampires cool again.(less)
We've all had our fill of dystopia-infused YA literature in the past couple of years. From the trilogy that seemed to have sparked its massive popular...moreWe've all had our fill of dystopia-infused YA literature in the past couple of years. From the trilogy that seemed to have sparked its massive popularity much like the books that sparked the vampire craze, it's been hard to distinguish the rest of the pack from poor imitators. Dark Life, the first novel by college professor Kat Falls, is no imitator: here is a true, original, fun and fascinating dystopic tale fueled with imagination, relatable characters and a beautifully realized undersea setting.
Falls nails that sense of location from the first paragraph, where we see Ty, born and raised subsea at his family's homestead, navigating the fallen ruins of New York City that fell into the ocean during "the Rising." No detail is given to this apocalyptic event, but that plays to the book's favor. This is very much a book about characters in a strange setting, which just happens to be a dystopic future; Falls never bangs over your head the rules of the government or makes them seem evil in any way. Their actions over the course of the book bring that to light all by its self; it's a beautiful way to ingratiate a reader into a new world.
But the setting had me sold from the get-go. Essentially a wild-west/frontier tale with a future/sci-fi twist superimposed over it, Falls nails everything that one would expect of living on the ocean floor in such a weirdly descriptive way I wonder how she came up with some of it. The Dark Life (people living on the ocean's floor) fled Topside's crowded living space, much like the brave pioneers who fled west.
Between the cool tech (subsea architecture, bubble fences, manta boards, liquigen) and the imaginative ways they were introduced and the silky-smooth writing, the book is ferociously readable. The only thing I would knock it for is its brevity: not even 300 pages. It really felt like half a book, despite a satisfying resolution to most of the hanging plot threads.
The sheer originality on display here warrants reading alone. I can NOT WAIT for Rip Tide.(less)
A really cool premise, about a world where relics of a past super-intelligent race still emit power and are wanted by bad guys and protected by the go...moreA really cool premise, about a world where relics of a past super-intelligent race still emit power and are wanted by bad guys and protected by the good, gets kneecapped almost immediately. Mostly due to an increasingly juvenile writing style (Dear Ms. Fischer, when it comes to exclamation points, less is more) and an under-development of characters.
Not even the overall story entices me enough to keep on, which sucks, because it was the one series in existence that I would not have to wait years to finish, being that it's being super-rushed to bookstores this summer.(less)
As a bridge between Wizard and Glass & Wolves of the Calla, this book couldn't be more perfect. It draws on the dark, down-to-earth nostalgia of g...moreAs a bridge between Wizard and Glass & Wolves of the Calla, this book couldn't be more perfect. It draws on the dark, down-to-earth nostalgia of growing up in a harsh, mean world that Wizard did beautifully, but it also introduces the bat-shit crazy, heady material of alternate dimensions and dense mythos that Wolves began introducing in its later pages. So it may not move the overall plot forward, but it's not supposed to. That plot already ended eight years ago. This is a bridge book. A book meant for newcomers to the series to read as The Dark Tower 4.5, and in that head-space, it's up there with the best of King's work. (less)
It's been five years since this series started. I read the first book way back in my first semester of college, weaving it between forced-to-read book...moreIt's been five years since this series started. I read the first book way back in my first semester of college, weaving it between forced-to-read books about the Dust Bowl and Shakespeare. I loved it, and I still think it's one of the best-paced and plotted YA books out there. And here we are at the end of the series already. Some questions answered and some others apparently completely forgotten.
Light, the puzzlingly titled final book of the GONE series, continues Fear's tradition of being a just sorta-okay book with a straightforward plot, predictable outcomes, and excess mayhem that borders on torture-porn at this point. But it's still fun, in some really confusing way. At this point in the series, with five books of character development and build-up, you know who these people are. You know their beats and emotions and thought-processes and you root for them easily. But there's no surprises left in them. Sam is brave. Astrid is smart. Dekka is brash. Breeze is self-fullfilled but courageous. The only one of these that I'd say does show a spark of change is Astrid, and that's only in one disgustingly awesome scene in the final pages of the book.
And it's the same for the overall plot. What you think will happen happens. It is the final book in the series and it knows that. It goes about its business hitting all the required points - the characters are discouraged and separated in the beginning, a tragic occurrence herds them together in the middle, the villain is beaten but not destroyed and comes back for final vengeance in the end. It's all here. It's still well-written and impressive that Grant kept it all straight and managed to end it at ALL, so that's something. But there's no final twist, no big AH-HA moment that brings back something from earlier books and forces you to think of it all differently. There's a final conversation between two characters that ends the book and teases you with a big final revelation or something unknown, but nope - nothing. Just a rehash of an info-dump that the reader already knew about but that one character didn't. And then it just ends.
For that matter I think too much time is spent on the aftermath of the FAYZ and not enough on that overused word "endgame." The final confrontation with this all-knowing and all-evil alien monster lasts about five sentences and then we see Sam and friends marvel at stuff on the outside for fifty-something pages. Water bottles! Bed sheets! MCDONALDS! This is all well and fine but better-fitted to a ten-or-so page epilogue, not nearly 1/4 of the book.
Not to shift blame too much on these final chapters, because that before-mentioned final confrontation is definitely part of the problem. I'm not asking for an epic 100 page final showdown, but there's no real sense of build-up to that kill shot. No we-have-to-weaken-her-first or any such cliche; once they get to the thing they've been talking about the entire book not sure if it'd work, it works immediately. I usually like going against the grain of cliches, but it's sorta to the detriment of the story here. This thing is wam-bam-thankya-mam and done. And the actual act used in the moment, the myriad byzantine rules and laws that are never explained, and the powers on display that we've never seen before pulled out at the last second to finally put an end to the bad guy? It feels... cheap... and the ultimate disgrace: lazy. Also, and in the mix of mutated concrete children and a little girl infected with a megalomaniacal alien parasite with a god complex, kinda silly.
These "Aftermath" chapters go on too long, and wind up being utterly pointless. They build up that all the kids (well, some, anyway) will have to be tried, forced to pay for their crimes, fess up to their actions in the FAYZ. And it's all solved in a single line with ten pages left of the book. No more prison, no more lawyers, no need to face their past. It's a bullshit, easy solution and is such a cheap way out for the end of the series. Not to mention it reminded me of the "Outside" chapters of Fear that felt ultimately pointless, too. I would have rathered a finale that ended with the dome lifting and the characters walking to uncertain fates, no bow-ties on presents of resolutions. But that's just me.
The focus here is on action and violence and shocking the reader, and less on mystery and intrigue and atmosphere. The gross violence (something I hate saying I don't like, because I'm really never bothered by it in any medium) is explained and has a valid plot point here, but there's just SO MUCH of it that by the end you really don't give a flying fuck that the upteenth child has been slaughtered. The quiet moments hit harder, like when Sam thinks on how kids died in car seats in the early days - babies left alone to starve or toddlers dead from car crashes. A kid getting a yacht dropped on him running through the desert? Not so much.
I guess that's it. There are other picks I could nit, like my confusion over the early mysteries of the series (the monster kids saw when they poofed and others) and why Gaia didn't just stay invisible and slaughter everyone with a rusty knife and be done with it, but I guess I'll leave it at that. My last review of a GONE book. It was fun, it was exciting, and then it kinda wasn't anymore. These aren't contemporary masterpieces by any means, but I still really like this series and would recommend it to those looking for a solid and generally exciting sci-fi read. Because you can call this series many things, but one thing it ain't is boring.(less)
Goodreads defines a 2/5 rating as "It was okay." And that is the perfect sentence to use in describing the fifth chapter in the GONE series.
It was......moreGoodreads defines a 2/5 rating as "It was okay." And that is the perfect sentence to use in describing the fifth chapter in the GONE series.
It was... okay.
Trying to figure out why I didn't undyingly love it like the other books is hard. Maybe because of the promise of the set up and lack of payoff. Diana's baby, the impending darkness, the inevitable battle with Drake. The way I thought each of these things would end ended exactly that way. It felt predictable and anti-climactic and so disappointing being the penultimate book in the series. The stakes feel low and unimportant going into the final book.
And, finally, what I feared would happen as this series progressed is finally happening. A lack of answers is gnawing away at my ability to give any fucks. I read an interview with Grant where he said "I give a lot of the answers up in FEAR." I can't tell you a single thing I learned that I didn't already know from previous books. Petey caused the anomaly. Diana's baby will be evil. The adults are okay outside the dome. And maybe it's not so much a lack of answers but a lack of compounding on the answers we already know. HOW did Petey do this? WHY were the kids developing powers before the FAYZ? What the hell kind of rip in the fabric in time and space resulted in Petey's omniscient and ethereal magical god powers after he died? AND WHAT DOES ANY OF THIS HAVE TO DO WITH THE DOME GROWING DARK?
Even patterns from previous books are growing evident: Drake will get away in the end after a mild scuffle, random unimportant children will die horribly but have no emotional impact, someone will be bitching about SOMETHING (this time it's lack of darkness).
And those "Outside" chapters? In the beginning they were cool and fun and different and exciting. But there is something huge that is supposed to happen that just kinda never does and it makes all of these tangents to the outside world feel pointless. Okay Sam's mom misses him. Okay she's sleeping with some military dude. These people have absolutely NO idea what is going on with the dome, either. So what does any of it matter?
I don't know what's gonna happen in LIGHT, but I hope something does. FEAR felt like a blind person meandering aimlessly through the desert in pitch black darkness. OH, wait! That is what most of the characters do for 75% of this book.
I'm happy there's only one book left. And, at this point, I would rather a crazy it-was-all-an-alien-experiment explanation than what will inevitably never be explained and always simply be: the retard did it.
Less fun, scary and entertaining than Lockdown, and being about 50 pages shorter than that book (which was already under 300), I'm getting tired of th...moreLess fun, scary and entertaining than Lockdown, and being about 50 pages shorter than that book (which was already under 300), I'm getting tired of the mini-cliffhangers. And of Alex's snide trying-so-hard-to-be-funny-in-the-face-of-terror narration.
Oh, and really? 3/4 of this thing takes place in a hole. I'll give the author credit for trying, and I know it services the world of Furnace, but C'MON! That was NEVER going to be exciting. Alex's "oh no I'm going crazy, oh no I'm seeing ghosts, oh no I think I ate poop" monologues got real boring real quick.
I'll give Death Sentence a try when it comes out in August on these shores, but if I find the same frustrating one step forward, but two steps back plot, boring characters and failed escape attempts; ta-ta Furnace, forever.