I love the world of The Expanse. Any excuse to go back in, even if it's an 85 page novella like Gods of Risk, is more than enough for me. But more soI love the world of The Expanse. Any excuse to go back in, even if it's an 85 page novella like Gods of Risk, is more than enough for me. But more so even than Drive (which is probably my favorite) and The Butcher of Anderson Station, Gods of Risk is a clever, sweet, and occasionally sad street-level look at the apocalyptic, large-scale shenanigans that are going on in the 600+ page novels that it's sandwiched between....more
Really cool and surprisingly emotional little novella about the excitement and tragedy that unfolds after the creator of the Epstein Drive -- whose inReally cool and surprisingly emotional little novella about the excitement and tragedy that unfolds after the creator of the Epstein Drive -- whose invention spurs the entire events of the series into action -- discovers that a simple test of his new engine may be his last....more
A satisfying, if somewhat mystifying, end to one bat-shit crazy science fiction trilogy. If you're looking to dive deep into these books, know that yoA satisfying, if somewhat mystifying, end to one bat-shit crazy science fiction trilogy. If you're looking to dive deep into these books, know that you may not find all the answers you're looking for. They're dense and trickily written and, at the end of the day, almost largely incomprehensible. But the journey you take into the parallel universes and clandestine government agencies on the hunt for those elusive answers is one of the most memorable literary journeys you may ever go on....more
An arguably slower-burn than its concise, incendiary predecessor, Authority still manages to string along the eccentric weirdness of the bonkers worldAn arguably slower-burn than its concise, incendiary predecessor, Authority still manages to string along the eccentric weirdness of the bonkers world VanderMeer set up in part one in intriguing ways. Authority takes place mostly behind the idea of the Souther Reach itself, written as a sort of Cabin in the Woods secret-facility-with-nefarious-purposes-guarding-the-world sort of way that VanderMeer graces us with every bit of minutia we could want - from janitorial supplies to the shifting inter-departmental power dynamics.
The main drawback here is that all of these positives sometimes don't outweigh the big, glaring negative: this book is essentially a guy reading documents. If the guy (Control, a spy handle, another espionage aspect of the book used to fun effect) was a tad more interesting, or if it were presented in a less perfunctory manner, Authority would maybe feel a bit more exciting.
Lack of any genuine answers feels weighty as you near the climax, as well. Especially given the amount of time spent by Control shifting through various folders and video footage (maybe the series' most disturbing, check-the-room-for-someone-watching-you passages) in the novel's somewhat pedantic middle 200-or-so pages. Still wholeheartedly worth your time if you're a fan of this kind of sublime weirdness....more
Building off the success of the previous volumes, Y: The Last Man ends not with a bang, but, well you know. And that's the genius of it, this series dBuilding off the success of the previous volumes, Y: The Last Man ends not with a bang, but, well you know. And that's the genius of it, this series doesn't need a big Parisian showdown between good and evil to cap off its epic tale. Just a villain, some lovelorn heroes, and a gunshot.
When all is said and done, Y: The Last Man wasn't "the best thing I've ever read." Too many of its periphery characters were thin and numerous side-adventures rambled on too far long for that, but with its poetic denouement - and one of the best epilogues I have actually ever read - it sure got a hell of a lot closer in Book Five.
I liked this far more than I thought I would, being the second book this year I read just because of its movie trailer. It's emotional and realistic aI liked this far more than I thought I would, being the second book this year I read just because of its movie trailer. It's emotional and realistic and cataclysmically tragic yet confusingly optimistic. There's no Fault in our Stars level of heart-rending emotion here, in my opinion, (it's a bit too awkwardly written for that) but it is dotted with clever, life-affirming lines and an endlessly root-able protagonist. I think a movie could actually perfect the story Forman has laid out, hopefully fix some of the clunky dialogue and misplaced scenes, and I'm definitely looking forward to it....more
Funny, endearing, and ultimately kinda boring. And so I don't get messages on this review nearly half a decade after I write it (seriously are you peoFunny, endearing, and ultimately kinda boring. And so I don't get messages on this review nearly half a decade after I write it (seriously are you people still commenting on my review of The Red Pyramid? Stop giving it that much thought, Rick Riordan sure as hell didn't), that is all I am going to say about it.
Worth reading, though, for the usual biting Green quotes: "I hated sports. I hated sports, and I hated people who played them, and I hated people who watched them, and I hated people who didn't hate people who watched or played them." ...more
First off: don't read this before Leviathan Wakes. The appreciation of the drastic changes between the protagonist in this book and Leviathan play anFirst off: don't read this before Leviathan Wakes. The appreciation of the drastic changes between the protagonist in this book and Leviathan play an important role in appreciating the novella. Even though it is a prequel, it spends no time acclimating you to the world of the Belt and Mars society and Earth politics and why there are tall, skinny, pale people talking like they forgot how to use vowels properly. This just isn't a proper introduction to this universe, you'll find that in Leviathan Wakes. I like to think of it more as a companion than a prequel.
And as a companion to Leviathan Wakes, The Butcher of Anderson Station succeeds marvelously. It doesn't really add anything to the mythology or provide intriguing new characters, but what it does do is show a new side to an important figure from Leviathan: Frederick Johnson (the eponymous Butcher). Told Aaron Sorkin-style with present day scenes (taking place three years before the opening of Leviathan) showing an interrogation of Fred by mysterious OPA members, and intercut with flashbacks to the actual Station's attack.
Because of this, it's a brisk and light read with near-constant tension and a clear and focused skewering of the military's sometimes impulsive and unreasonable reactions in war time. And due to the novella format, the 48 page story manages to cut faster and deeper, and in turn feel a bit more realistic and involving, than its 500 page brother's view on the same issues....more
What's it about? A group of women - a biologist, surveyor, anthropologist, and psychologist - journey into a large cordoned off land mass described suWhat's it about? A group of women - a biologist, surveyor, anthropologist, and psychologist - journey into a large cordoned off land mass described succinctly as "Area X." They're told little, and prepared even less so. Upon entering they encounter mysterious structures, unexplainable creatures, and the unshakable sense that what befell previous groups - mass hallucinations, disappearances, and even death - will reach them as well. It's brainy but not bratty, stupidly addictive, and has enough WTF moments to fill half a season of Lost.
"Some questions will ruin you if you are denied the answer long enough," the biologist mentions towards the book's end. There's little more I can say without ruining the book's countless surprises. But I can say this: as one of the most continuously mind-bending 195 pages I've ever read in my life, it was an absolute privilege to be ruined by this book....more
An insanely cool idea, if maybe not completely original, (we don't die, we wake up as ourselves on a million other worlds over and over again) is slogAn insanely cool idea, if maybe not completely original, (we don't die, we wake up as ourselves on a million other worlds over and over again) is slogged down by poor pacing, uninteresting characters, and an overabundance of weirdness for weirdness' sake. It sounds interesting in parts: prostitutes that kill themselves for cash, children who are adults that were reborn in their younger bodies, a massive tower where religions from the metaverse go to die - but it all crashes together like a wreck instead of fitting nicely like a jigsaw puzzle.
The main culprit? In my opinion it's Edison's prose. This is the kind of book that uses the word "apoplectic" instead of "angry." The book's plot and characters and settings are weird and confusing enough, so is it necessary to have a character named Elisabetta Bratislaus in the same book where the word solipsistic is treated like the world's most common adjective? I don't think so. I think Edison overcompensated where under compensation was required (if that's a thing). His aim and goals are laudatory; his delivery is not.
Points for a gay protagonist whose sexuality is treated like the color of his hair or the size of his gut - just a passing trait - but major demerits for his boring personality. His jokey mannerisms aim for irreverence and hit annoying right on the mark. Edison's attempt to make him into an everyman so he could be more easily relatable just result in an everyman no one wants to relate with.
I didn't hate this book. It's clunky, a slog for nearly all its run, awfully pretentious at times, and more often than not too occupied with being bonkers than with being coherent. But it is intriguing, at the least. You won't be able to read much in a session due to its thick prose and byzantine plot (which adds to the sluggish pacing), but when you aren't reading you probably will be thinking about it. Edison, for all his faults, clearly has a vast imagination. Once he masters more clearly transcribing what's in his head to what's on the page, he could be a real knockout. For now, he's just made a below-average Sci-fi/Fantasy book with a killer hook and not much else....more
It's about 11 A.M. where I am now, writing this. Approximately eight hours ago I was awake, voraciously devouring the last half (about 75-ish pages) oIt's about 11 A.M. where I am now, writing this. Approximately eight hours ago I was awake, voraciously devouring the last half (about 75-ish pages) of this book - my first John Green - in one sitting. There's not a lot I can say about those last few chapters without giving away the abundant literary flourishes that John Green pulls out of his immense bag of tricks. But I can say this, and at this point I'm just another statistic falling in line, but here it is: I cried.
In the book Hazel constantly describes being on the phone with Augustus as like being in a third non-terrestrial space. Like the center of the venn diagram, somewhere only they can coexist in. It sounds like utter bullshit, right? That's John Green's greatest slight of hand here: he creates situations and dialogue that in other hands would come off as saccharine and sappy, but absolutely do not. Hazel and Augustus felt actually, honestly REAL. These are two kids that totally make sense together, you never for one moment wonder why one likes the other. And another of Mr. Green's great feats: he totally distracts you with brilliant bon mots and stupidly genius dialogue while you read, almost forgetting what the story is about.
Some of my favorites: "The world went on, as it does, without my full participation, and I only woke up from the reverie when someone said my name."
"It occurred to me that the voracious ambition of humans is never sated by dreams coming true, because there is always the thought that everything might be done better and again."
"It was the kind of weather that reminds you after a long winter that while the world wasn't built for humans, we were built for the world."
This is a sixteen-year-old that easily could have come off as snotty and pretentious, and maybe some of those lines do, out of context, but Hazel is anything but. She's warm and selfless and self-aware and willing to read the novelization of a video game without question or repulsion. I guess the literary term is "layers." If it is, she has 'em. She has a bit of a monologue towards the novel's end that best displays all of this (edited for spoilers): "Some infinities are bigger than other infinities. There are days, many of them, when I resent the size of my unbounded set. I want more numbers than I'm likely to get. But, Gus, my love, I cannot tell you how thankful I am for our little infinity. I wouldn't trade it for the world. You gave me a forever within the numbered days, and I'm grateful."
How fucking great is that?
To get back to the story: the ending, and last few chapters, are gut-wrenching. Soul crushing. Universe-ending. And totally, completely, 110% earned. Never, at any point, do you feel played or like someone is poking you in the shoulder and whispering, "Hey... this is where you cry... go on... omg yeah that line was sooo sad, right? Here's a tissue." It's the truth, Green plays his story out to the logical conclusion, and while it may be a tad predictable, it is one of the best fictional endings I've ever read.
Now, the nitpicking. I love Hazel's narration, but it occasionally dips into colloquial terminology that feels really weird against her and Augustus' normal and hilariously smart banter. Uses of words like "Doucheface", "Assclown", and "Douche" in general feel so strange juxtaposed next to gems like, "I fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly, and then all at once." I just don't buy that the same girl that has the mental fortitude to worry about the ghettoization of scrambled eggs would ever use the word "Doucheface." But, hey, maybe that's just me.
It's not that I don't think she'd never curse, I totally could see her dropping F-bombs in frustration, so maybe it's just the YA of it all that forced Green to be more creative with the curses. But even something like "Dick", to me, would have been more believable. Especially in the conversation that "Doucheface" is used, which I won't spoil, but is the one moment in the book that the emotional gut-punch of is utterly robbed the second that word drops out of Hazel's mouth.
There are also way too many moments when Hazel comments on Augustus' features. "His strong arms pulling me into his muscular chest", "Sinewy muscles", "Powerful chest", etc. There's one excuse I'd allow for this, but it pertains to a spoiler. So I can't talk about it. I get it. She's a sixteen year old girl. I get it. And she falls in love with him for more than these attributes... I've just read way too many shitty YA books that are obsessed with stuff like this. And this book is NOT one of those, so when word choices like that crept in, it felt... jarring. Like, really, does both his arms AND chest need adjectives in the same sentence? The answer is no.
But all that crap doesn't matter. This is a good book. A great book, actually. It isn't perfect, but it's easy to overlook its imperfections because of its awesome and endearing totality. Just another Cancer Perk, I guess....more
There was a kernel of a clever idea hiding in the big reveal about the society and outside world, but it quickly gets muddled by the infinite amount oThere was a kernel of a clever idea hiding in the big reveal about the society and outside world, but it quickly gets muddled by the infinite amount of angry-people-being-angry-at-other-angry-people, the indecipherable alternating perspective chapters, and one of the most puzzlingly pompous series-ending finales I've ever read. I don't regret reading these books, because they were quick and painless, but there just isn't much here to chew on after you're done. Even the controversial plot turn towards the end didn't occupy too much real estate in my brain in the day since I finished.
You could do better, you could do worse. In the end, it all just feels... like it's just there. Mediocre. Which, in all honesty, is one of the harshest criticisms I can possibly give a book....more