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)
Not as good as The Lie, but still a great read. It focuses on four or five families in suburban america, and the crazy shit they do in secret from one...moreNot as good as The Lie, but still a great read. It focuses on four or five families in suburban america, and the crazy shit they do in secret from one another. One girl has a secret goth-fetish Myspace account, one dad is hiring hookers online and cheating on his wife (while she's doing the exact same thing), and another kid faces serial depression as he escapes into World of Warcraft.
The characters are great, even though some kinda bleed into one another, but the dialogue never flows generally well. Too many He Said, She Said, He Said repeated back-to-back. And, the main reason I didn't like it as much as The Lie, is because that book had a plot. People conspired, hated, loved, and it felt like it was going somewhere (which it SO was. God I love that book). But Men, Women and Children is just really a quick snapshot of these peoples' lives for about a five month period. It begins out of nowhere and ends the same way (and sorta disgustingly, but, what do I expect?). You have to entertain the futures of everything and everyone, and I would have liked a little more description considering the future of some characters. I mean, it's not a very long book, it could have gone on a bit more, but I was generally happy with it all.
Not to mention the tons and tons of horrible sex scenes, half of which are between thirteen year olds. It sounds bad, but the underlying theme of what happens when we don't actually TALK to one another, and rely on hinted meanings and unspoken words in a Facebook message or the serenity we can find when we smother ourselves in conversations with strangers in games like Warcraft is so topical and interesting that the graphic sex scenes just amplify the message.
And, I mean, when isn't it fun to read about thirteen year olds talking like they're thirty and not understanding what's coming out of their own mouths?
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)
For a Valve and Portal uber-fanatic like me, this was pretty much crack. It reads smoothly, perfectly portrays the intense stress that was behind the...moreFor a Valve and Portal uber-fanatic like me, this was pretty much crack. It reads smoothly, perfectly portrays the intense stress that was behind the making of Portal 2, and the euphoria of its release. The behind-the-scenes theme to it all makes it feel personal and secretive; like you're the only one seeing all of it. And the snazzy iPad app features, like rotating vistas of the Valve offices, interactive demos and timelines make this any Valve fanboys (or girls) wet dream.
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)
This'll be a nostalgic review for the whole Pokemon chapter book series.
Oh, the memories.
Most specifically of waking up hours before everyone else wh...moreThis'll be a nostalgic review for the whole Pokemon chapter book series.
Oh, the memories.
Most specifically of waking up hours before everyone else whilst on vacation in our family camper, leaning over for the stack of (then super long at a grand total of 100 pages) Pokemon paperbacks, and having awesome adventures with Ash and the gang. As a child who was wholly prohibited from any sort of pet (sans fish... whoopee for me) the Pokemon phenomenon offered me a form of escapism. Hell, who wants a lame and adorable dachshund when you can have a fucking fire-breathing dragon, amiright? Well, that's what I convinced myself, anyway. Listen, it was either this or those bitch-ass Tamagotchi's and I was NOT going to be the only loser on the block with one of those pussy robots.
I loved imagining the fantastic world where the series took place; where teens could, like Ash, shirk all responsibilities to nurture rare and wild creatures, battle other trainers, and have crazy adventures. I had the games (ahmygawd Pokemon Stadium on the 64 was my LIFE), the cards, the clothes, the underwear, hell I even remember these little plastic squishy toys that had marbles on the bottom you could fake battle with on hard floors.
I usually say my hardcore life as a bibliophile began with Harry Potter... but ya know I didn't even start that craze until the second or so book was out. And considering my friends and I held secret recess meetings to trade cards after they were banned (man were we rebels) in about the third or fourth grade, I'd be confident in saying it was Pokemon that got me to start reading. Well, you know, actual books. Not just skimming through those infuriating Highlight magazines and doing the search-and-find puzzles.
I loves me some Pokemans (except Jigglypuff; Jigglypuff is lame and always will be). I will forever berate my mother for getting rid of these childhood gems.
Pokemon was my childhood. This was my bible. If only my mother didn't get rid of all my Pokemon things after I grew up, I would have a nostalgia overl...morePokemon was my childhood. This was my bible. If only my mother didn't get rid of all my Pokemon things after I grew up, I would have a nostalgia overload.
Pretty fun and quite an easy read. Basically a disgruntled and unlucky-in-love college English professor orders a Kindle (to spite his ex... yeah) and...morePretty fun and quite an easy read. Basically a disgruntled and unlucky-in-love college English professor orders a Kindle (to spite his ex... yeah) and gets this pink version that accesses the literary backlogs of over a million other universes. In some worlds Shakespeare lived five more years, and put out a couple more plays, and in some JFK wasn't assassinated. It's your usual parallel universe paradox stuff. What's great here is some really smart connections to the Dark Tower. Which, for whatever reason, I didn't even realize until they were thrown in my face. But for two bucks, yeah, totally worth it.
Now I have to get back to required school reading after my little oasis on Stephen King island. *sigh*(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)