This is my first entry into the Doctor Who novelization universe and I chose this title because Donna is my favorite of the Doctor's companions. I havThis is my first entry into the Doctor Who novelization universe and I chose this title because Donna is my favorite of the Doctor's companions. I have to say, I was rather disappointed with the book. The story is twisty, turny, and confusing, only working itself out towards the end, which isn't necessarily bad, but there seemed to be little point to the whole thing. To me, it was as though the author was boasting, "Look at how confusing I can make this plot!" without any real effort made to draw the reader in through drama or empathy. My main problem was the characterization of both the Doctor and Donna. Missing was the Doctor's trademark sparkle and energy, as embodied on the show most skillfully by David Tennant; only occasionally did I see glimpses of it in the book and even then it felt flat, the merest sketch of the Doctor's true character. In the book, Donna, that wonderful, acerbic, pragmatic person as portrayed by the talented Catherine Tate, is instead shown as a whiny and rather abusive dullard; certainly not the Donna I know. I have to wonder if the author has even watched the show about which he's writing. I'm not giving up on the Doctor Who novelizations. I just hope the other authors are better at capturing the show's universe than Mr. Simon Messingham....more
When I started reading The Darkangel, I wasn't sure I would like it. After all, it was told in such a melodramatic way as to read like the fantasy ofWhen I started reading The Darkangel, I wasn't sure I would like it. After all, it was told in such a melodramatic way as to read like the fantasy of a teenage girl. When I found out, however, that the book was published when the writer, Meredith Ann Pierce, was only 23, I understood a little bit better why I was getting that impression.
Though the book has its flaws, the story soon swept me up into in heady mix of folkloric and fairytale elements, set within a sci-fi framework of a planet colonized by a people called the Ancients many moons ago. I won't go into the details of a synopsis—others before me have done that, and quite well—but I will say that this is one of the most unique books I've read, weaving together disparate and seemingly incompatible story ingredients into a compelling dark fantasy. I'm just a bit disappointed that I came late to the party and didn't discover this series until now....more
It seems to follow a rule: The second book in a trilogy is invariably the weakest link, usually there only to bridge the story between the first and tIt seems to follow a rule: The second book in a trilogy is invariably the weakest link, usually there only to bridge the story between the first and third books. I can't say this was 100% true for A Gathering of Gargoyles but I will say, if not the story, then the characters were weaker, especially Aeriel. I don't know what happened, but somehow she became dumber during the book. Despite numerous hints, whether about something as trivial as the cloak she wore or about something as important as her true identity, she had to be beaten upside the head with a sledgehammer before any of these concepts got through to her. And once they did, she had to act in the predictable dumb-heroine manner: “What are you saying? Are you saying what I think you're saying? You're crazy!” Despite that annoyance, the story continued its theme of intertwining various elements from folklore and fairytales, as well as a deeper exploration into the sci-fi background of Aeriel's world, into a lyrical story of transformation, rebirth, and empowerment....more
This will be the shortest review I've ever written: What a freakin' awesome book! Honestly, the best sci-fi book I've read in a long time. A real pageThis will be the shortest review I've ever written: What a freakin' awesome book! Honestly, the best sci-fi book I've read in a long time. A real page-turner, with humanity, humor, and knee-jumping action. Read it. That's all I've gotta say. Read it.
Re-read August 17-22, 2013: Can't add anything new to my review as it pretty much says it all. This book is freakin' awesome and Sirantha Jax is one of the best, most fully-fleshed and entertaining characters to leap (and I do mean leap) off the pages in years....more
Why, oh, why can't we give books 10 stars? If it were at all possible, I would. I would give this book one hundred stars. I finished this today and alWhy, oh, why can't we give books 10 stars? If it were at all possible, I would. I would give this book one hundred stars. I finished this today and already I'm in withdrawal. I didn't want to stop. I tried, I tried very hard, to read Killbox as slowly as possible, to savor the story. But like any attempts of mine to savor a rich piece of chocolate, to let it melt on my tongue and slowly infuse my senses with its deliciousness, I failed miserably. From the first page, I got so caught up in the story, I couldn't not turn the pages as fast as my eyes devoured the words.
There's no way I can coherently describe the story to non-readers of this series. I'm nowhere near eloquent enough. I am in complete awe of Ms. Aguirre. She has created a series so rich, so lifelike, so real, even though the story is set in space and features aliens and concepts so totally science-fiction in nature. Despite that fact, or perhaps because of it, her characters live and breathe. None of them are perfect; each one has fears and hopes and character faults. In other words, they are three dimensional, just as real human beings are. And the relationships between them are real, not picture-perfect ideals, but messy, hard, fractious, delightful, fulfilling, full of mistakes and missed opportunities and moments of wonder. This alone would make the books wonderful reads, but the storytelling, the weaving of these characters' actions into wonderfully exciting, terrifying, exhilarating, emotional stories, make Ann Aguirre's novels top-rate, in my opinion. Plus, she made me cry. I can't tell you how many years it's been since I've cried while reading a book; too many to count. But she did it, and I'm not a weepy person. That's the mark of how involved Aguirre makes you become with these people--Sirantha Jax, March, Dina, Hit, Vel--that when they feel pain and loss, you feel it, too, and cry because of it. Though I know it is impossible, for my part I hope Sirantha Jax continues her adventures through many, many more books in the years to come; unlike chocolate, I can savor them as much and as many times as I like without getting fat....more
I freaking love this book and I love Sirantha Jax! I truly cannot get enough of this series. Sadly, from what I've heard, the next book will be the laI freaking love this book and I love Sirantha Jax! I truly cannot get enough of this series. Sadly, from what I've heard, the next book will be the last and the idea of that just breaks my heart. Even with a novel such as Aftermath, which, if I were to be cruelly honest and say that it really doesn't have a coherent story-line and that instead it's a progression of small stories involving Sirantha strung into a whole, I still say, you know what? I don't give a damn. I raced through it, even as I told myself to slow down and revel in Aguirre's storytelling; I was absorbed by and absorbed in the novel, loving every page and savoring the bittersweet sensation I felt when I reached the end. Aguirre has managed to imbue the most fantastical of what should be space-opera elements with a three-dimensional reality, grounding them and giving them depth and life in a fierce, oftentimes heartbreaking way. I don't know how she does it, but I'm grateful she does and while I'm sad for the eventual end to the Sirantha Jax series, I know every time I reread the books, I will experience anew the roller-coaster ride which is her universe, full of emotional thrills and chills and breath-taking spills (sorry, had to do it), and love every minute of it. Thank you, Ms. Aguirre....more
A dynamic action-adventure yarn featuring a precocious heroine and introducing a beguiling new animal companion. I came into this novel unaware and unA dynamic action-adventure yarn featuring a precocious heroine and introducing a beguiling new animal companion. I came into this novel unaware and unfamiliar with David Weber's "Honorverse." Happily, I realized that wouldn't be a problem, as A Beautiful Friendship is whole unto itself, a novel one can read without needing an extensive grounding in the author's previous works.
Concerning the exploits of young Stephanie Harrington, precociously intelligent and occasionally irritatingly irrepressible (to her parents, that is, who constantly try to keep her out of trouble, a usually futile experiment), and her bond with a member of the extraordinary species which shares her planet, a treecat by the name of Climbs Quickly, the book has a slow but steady build, leading to a satisfying climax and a not-too-dangling opening for future books. While occasionally the language could seem a bit...clunky, it was understandable considering it was coming from a perspective of a culture trying to describe human items using non-human terms. At other times, the narrative seemed a bit wordy, but for the most part the story moved along at a brisk clip, introducing characters and concepts in a steady pace. The villain was suitably villainous without being overtly so (no cackling, no mustache-twirling) and he had a satisfying comeuppance at the end of the tale. The best part of the story was, while Stephanie was clearly described as a young adult, a preteen at the beginning of the story, she is represented in a positive way, intelligent, determined, with a clear moral compass and sense of duty. Yes, she occasionally whines and pouts and she occasionally rebelled against her parents' restrictions--if she didn't, she wouldn't be realistic. However, that wasn't her whole character. The relationship between her and Climbs Quickly, though, is at the heart of the book and in it is where Stephanie truly blossoms into a fully-fleshed human being, not just a character who happens to interact with a cute and quirky new animal. From Climbs Quickly is where Stephanie, never a waffling sort of person, gets her sense of purpose: To protect the newly discovered species from the conflicting and potentially deadly interests of the many powerful political and private groups both on planet and off. Which gives us our second plotline of the book and a continuing thread of a story for any sequels.
In the end, although I'm not the demographic towards which this book is aimed, I still enjoyed it and found it to be a delightful introduction to Weber's Honorverse....more
I'm having a hard time writing a review for Amped. On the one hand, it's an engrossing look at the human condition. What makes us human? What happensI'm having a hard time writing a review for Amped. On the one hand, it's an engrossing look at the human condition. What makes us human? What happens when that definition changes? Will humans ever evolve past their fear of that which is different? While the book may not provide answers to those questions, it does provide a glimpse into a near future when those questions come into play in the most visceral and dramatic of fashions.
The story revolves around an issue which is coming into play even today: Implants. With mechanical parts in our bodies, taking the place of our hearts, our limbs, can we still consider ourselves human beings? How far can we go in replacing our parts with machines before we stop being human? In this near-future scenario, Wilson tells the story of amplified humans, persons with a brain implant known as a Neural Autofocus, placed there to help control any number of issues from seizures and degenerative neurological diseases, to learning disabilities and psychological disorders. This implant, though, is more than just a computer chip plunked into the brain; it burrows into the brain, into the body, into every system, continually learning how to interact with the human into which it was placed, continually improving that human. Simply turning it off or removing isn't an option, because the network the implant has created remains. These amplified humans, or “amps,” are identified by the maintenance ports on their temples and find themselves easy targets of prejudice due to the fear their amplified state engenders, and eventually come under fire from conservative groups, looked upon as something beyond human and therefore beyond human law. Bit by bit, rights are taken away until amps find themselves without identity, without protection. In scenes reminiscent of the degradation of Jews in the lead-up to WWII, Wilson depicts amps losing their homes, their families, their rights, even their lives, as their ability to exist is eroded, unalienable right by unalienable right. Soon, lines are drawn between “reggies,” non-implanted humans, and “amps” in a war which will define the next stage of human evolution. Wilson paints a compelling picture of the fear, the mistrust, the anger and hostility generated by non-implanted humans towards amps. After all, amps are smarter, faster, basically an improved version of humanity. Implanted children outperform regular children in school--talk about skewing the Bell curve!--implanted adults can perform jobs the non-implanted can't--which is just an amplified (hardy har har) version of the current argument towards immigrants. In fact, the whole novel is just a slightly altered portrayal of what we're arguing about today concerning technology and humanity. And it's a very convincing imagining of how quickly this argument can degenerate into hate and how ugly the results would be, especially once crooked politics are introduced into the matter.
On the other hand, while the book contains many satisfying action scenes, and moments of tension and drama, it's a lightweight when it comes to character depth and motivation. The leading man, Owen is so nondescript, when other characters say his name, I'm startled because I've forgotten that that's what he's called. Owen is a sympathetic leading man, trying to do his best while navigating the world which Wilson has created, but all the same he's rather blah. There's a romance thrown in involving Owen which has a slapdash, last minute feel to it, and other than the fact that Lucy Crosby, the woman Owen falls in love with, has the classic “She struck me dumb with her beauty” appearance, there's no real explanation for why we should believe these two belong together. It doesn't help that Lucy is little more than a cardboard cutout, a place holder, a stock female character from fiction plot Template A. There's some story that Lyle Crosby, Lucy's brother and the ringleader of amp rebellion, (view spoiler)[not to mention a psychopath and the catalyst behind the antagonism between amps and reggies, (hide spoiler)] throws Lucy into Owen's path simply to get a feel for how malleable Owen will be and how useful to Lyle's plans. Yet, as with the relationship between Owen and Lucy, this subterfuge is just kind of passed over. In fact, aside from the very vocal “bad guy,” Senator Joseph Vaughn, and the actual, behind-the-scenes bad guy (who becomes apparent early on in the novel), we don't really get a sense of who any of the characters are, what drives them, why we should care about what they do and what they think. And even with the "bad guys," their motivations are rather shallow. The only two characters who were well-drawn, having a bit of depth and likability to them, were Jim, a rather taciturn old man who is rather like the Obi-Wan Kenobi of Eden, Oklahoma, a refuge for Owen as well as other displaced amps, and Nick, an amped child who follows Owen around like a slightly off-kilter puppy, clicking away at his Rubik's Cube in unconscious movements.
Yet, I will say this, Owen's very "everyman" nature helps drive the point of this book home. Because, while Amped is certainly about what makes us human, the overwhelming issue is what we do with our humanity, with or without amplification. Lyle, the yang to Owen's yin, the two men opposite sides of the same coin, gives in to his implant, reveling in the change it brings to his humanity and looks upon it as the next step in human evolution. Yet by letting the machinery control him, Lyle loses something elementarily human: freedom of choice. Owen continually fights his implant, recognizing it as a tool which can and should be controlled, to be used at his discretion. Ultimately making Owen the greater evolved human of the two. Which means, at the end of the day, despite the book's faults, it's still an entertaining, thought-provoking, and enthralling read.